Grants talk:Simple/Applications/Wikimedia Eesti/2019

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Thank you for submitting your application on time. We have not yet reviewed your programs in depth, but we are working to make sure that all of the applications have the information we need to review. We had a few questions or requests for revisions:

  1. Your program objectives are focused on outputs (what you are doing) rather than outcomes (what you are achieving), and many of them are not specific enough to measure. We need more specific objectives that include targets, for each program. Please revise these program objectives by 9 November, so that we can continue with review. You can contact us if you have questions about how to do so.
  2. In your budget for your international program, there are several large line items. We would like some more detail about what costs are included in each of these line items:
    1. Northern Sami project
    2. Science Photo Competition
    3. WikiNordic Meeting 2019 in Estonia
  3. From the 2018/H2 recommendation: "We do not doubt the commitment of WMEE’s board, nor their program expertise. We also recognize that WMEE board members bring relevant expertise from their staff experience, and also from past work and other sectors, to their management roles at WMEE. Nevertheless, there has not been adequate time to test the stability of the new board, and we have concerns about them rehiring staff before we know more about how the board is working." Would you please provide an update about how you think this concern has been addressed? We would like more information about your assessment of how the board is working together now, and working to supervise the staff.
  4. From the 2018/H2 recommendation: "We still have serious concerns about Wikimedia Eesti’s readiness to manage multiple staff people, and yet we recognize that this plan directs staff resources toward the organization’s top priorities. The committee considered only funding one staff position, but recognizes the importance of and need for care and attention to WMEE’s volunteer community at this time. WMEE will be required to limit employment contracts to a temporary basis, so this new model may be tested and will be limited to requesting 6 month grants until further notice." We realize that it was impossible to implement this recommendation in your regulatory context, and also that because of the transition year you are back on a 12-month grant schedule. It would still be useful to hear more about how you feel the structure with two staff people is working out, and why you feel it is important to continue in this way.

We ask that you respond to these questions by 9 November, to give us adequate time for review. If you do not think this is possible, please let us know and we can agree upon a deadline that will work for all.

Thank you! Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 01:03, 6 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • @Wolliff (WMF):
    1. We're already in contact via mail for this one, so we should probably continue there :)
    2. We have updated the budget document to list the planned costs for both the Northern Sami project and the Nordic meeting in more detail. The Science Photo Competition funding is almost entirely from external sources and the plan is to use it for the workforce (since prizes are given in 2020). The 100 € from WMF will mostly be used for the exhibition of quality Estonian images from the previous editions of the competition that will (still) be touring around Estonia in 2019.
    3. As mentioned in the annual plan document, we now have a Slack workspace (actually a suggestion of a volunteer, which seemed like a great idea so we jumped on it) which we feel is working very well - there’s new discussion there every day, and different channels in the workspace allow different issues to be dealt with separately so that, say, it’s easy to find talk about GLAM issues or about events in Tallinn specifically. While currently mostly in use by the board and staff, volunteers and organization members are also starting to join the workspace and we look forward to wider discussion also happening there. We’re also starting to use Phabricator to track projects, an idea we took from Wikimedia Sverige and the Basque Wikimedians User Group. Right now we’re at the phase where everyone is learning how to use the system, but we expect it to make it much simpler for us at the board to supervise day to day things and enter tasks we want the staff to deal with, and also for staff and volunteers to keep track of their responsibilities and find new open tasks to help with, respectively. In addition to this, there’s been in-person meetings with the staff every month to further direct their activities, and they have kept us updated on what they’ve been up to.
    4. We feel that it’s been working well so far. The one problem we identified (that sometimes the board wasn’t really aware of the day to day activity of the staff, only their general lines of work) we are hoping to improve by using Phabricator to publicly track tasks, as mentioned above. The volunteer coordinator position already led to finding volunteers to consistently lead monthly meetings in Tallinn, something we’ve been unable to achieve in the past and we feel is very important to maintain and grow our community - even if that was all, we’d already consider it’s being a success, especially given it’s a quite small part-time position. It’s also helped us find a driver for our photo expedition, and developers who have expressed an interest in helping with our website and other coding issues. Further pursuing this last group is also quite important for us in the future, since many of the tasks we’re interested in could benefit from more volunteers with an IT background. Both me personally and some other board members and existing volunteers have helped with IT tasks in the past and will continue to do so, but more IT volunteers would open more possibilities for us, like working with election data in a similar way as our Finnish colleagues and creating tools that can hopefully later be used by other projects as well. The project manager position has been vital to continuing the work on our projects while avoiding burnout - while we managed to keep the projects alive on a volunteer basis for the first half of 2018, we don’t think this would have been sustainable in the long run. The projects are now working well, and we expect this to continue in 2019.--Reosarevok (talk) 15:10, 8 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would like to underline what Winifred wrote above - Winifred also cites the attention that should be given to building WMEE's volunteer community. The application doesn't mention much in that regard, but assigns quite a lot of tasks to volunteers. How are you planning to broaden this volunteer base and at the same time make sure that the volunteers you have aren't burned out with the work you want to do? Best, Philip Kopetzky (talk) 20:54, 6 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • @Philip Kopetzky: I wouldn't say there's a lot of tasks assigned to volunteers. Most of the stuff is "assisted by volunteers when possible" - only the monthly meetings outside of Tartu and Tallinn are planned to be almost entirely ran by volunteers, and they're not mission-critical. The only mission-critical project that does by necessity involve some volunteer help is the Nordic Wikimedians meeting: this happens in the second half of the year, giving our volunteer coordinator plenty of time to find some willing people, and since it is a relatively small-scale one-off project and the volunteer help is mostly needed during the event itself it shouldn't be a cause of burnout to any of them. For finding volunteers for other tasks, the volunteer coordinator will organize events and find perks to offer to volunteers (such as free museum visits), and as most volunteer-led projects aren't time-critical (which we agree would be a higher risk situation) there is no problem with volunteers having stressful deadlines looming that might lead to burnout.
  • The situation is of course different with regards to the board (which is also effectively a volunteer-basis group). We do have more of a day-to-day implication than would possibly be ideal, but that's hard to avoid with effectively one funded position (0.75 + 0.25). So the risk of burnout there is more significant. This is why we expanded to 4 board members in 2018 and are hoping to expand to 5 in early 2019 (our next general meeting is in February) to guarantee that there can be rest periods for board members who are too busy with other matters or just need a rest to avoid burning out. Eventually we would hope to be able to expand our workforce as well, leading to more of a supervisory-board-only approach that makes it even easier to avoid burnout by allowing board members to only work on day-to-day issues as normal volunteers when time and willingness permits, but we understand this is a transition year both for you and for us (since you still want to evaluate how we deal with our current staff).--Reosarevok (talk) 10:25, 7 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Reosarevok: Thanks for the explanation :-) I agree that expanding the board is important in light of the situation at WMEE - have your community activities lead to more involvement with the chapter in the last six months? That isn't quite clear from the midterm report. Best, Philip Kopetzky (talk) 09:18, 8 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Philip Kopetzky: Last year we already had enough candidates to expand the board to 5 people, but the chapter members decided some hadn't been with us long enough and voted against their inclusion. Since at least two of these candidates have been active participants in our activities during 2018, we expect them to be accepted this time, especially if we explain to the members more clearly why a larger board is useful in our case. A fair amount of chapter members attended the Summer Days, where we talked to them about our plans and current projects in more detail, and asked about what kind of projects they would like to see us work on, so I'd say that there's been involvement, although we would always want more. A few of them have joined our new Slack workspace, hopefully they'll start being more active there as well! By the way, thanks for specifically mentioning reading the report! We assumed you do, but we rarely get feedback on them (no direct feedback since 2016), so it's nice to know for sure someone is reading :) --Reosarevok (talk) 11:31, 8 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Reosarevok: You're welcome ;-) I was more interested in how you are involving volunteers in the organisation's work without making them board members right away. I.e. have a core of volunteers that are supporting the organisation in various ways by doing workshops, interviews, etc. Best, Philip Kopetzky (talk) 10:41, 9 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Philip Kopetzky: Sure! Keep in mind I wasn't talking only about board members in the last answer - I just understood "more involvement with the chapter" to mean "more involvement between the board + staff and other members of the chapter". Volunteers (which often aren't officially involved with the chapter as an organization) have mostly helped with organizing events lately (our Tallinn monthly meetings for example are mostly volunteer-run now, with the volunteer coordinator helping when needed). Usually we give them small scale tasks related to the events, such as finding a suitable venue or making catering arrangements. Also, two of our four attendees to the Nordic Meeting in Sweden last month were volunteers (+ one member of staff and one board member - sadly transport issues meant the second staff member couldn't make it to Sweden). And so was our driver for the Estonian-Latvian photo expedition earlier this year. With our move to Phabricator, we're planning to create open, not time-critical tasks (such as "We have 20 images from an event that need some small improvements and then need to be uploaded to Commons and categorized") in such a way that volunteers can find an open task they are interested in, pick it and coordinate with us to work on it on their own schedule. And we have been working on finding volunteers with a specific focus (IT being the main one right now, but also for example photography) who can be directed towards specific tasks. The first few months of work by our volunteer coordinator have mostly focused on creating a consistent approach to community events that allow us to meet interested people and make sure they actually happen (which wasn't always the case before, especially in Tallinn). A big part of the task now is specifically finding ways to make these interested people able to help in any way they can and want. Does this answer your question a bit better now? If not quite, do let me know what else you want to know! :) --Reosarevok (talk) 21:37, 9 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Great reply, thanks Reosarevok! :-) Think there are a few ideas in there worth following up on to benefit the whole Wikimedia community, especially the idea of portioning tasks on Phabricator and leaving it open to volunteers to pick and choose what they want to do. Best, Philip Kopetzky (talk) 00:20, 12 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Updated plan[edit]


After working closely with Winifred via email, we modified the annual plan and programs to be more relevant and measurable (including specific introductions and explanations for each program). Most of the projects remain the same, although we cut the Northern Sami focus for now (if it comes back, it will probably be through local funding for activities involving small Finno-Ugric nations) and we added a few additional ideas that grew from the more clear focus of the projects --Reosarevok (talk) 20:49, 19 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for these changes! Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 19:47, 20 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Budget clarifications[edit]

Thanks for your changes, the plan is very clear for me now. I wanted to ask about a few items in your budget. Since this is a restricted grant, I just need to make sure I understand what expenses I am approving. Please respond by 23 November, if possible, so that we may expedite a decision.

  1. CEE meeting scholarships for participants are included in the conference grant. Can you let us know why additional funds are necessary?
  2. Similarly, the "other meetings" you list are also movement events that include scholarships for participants. Can you let us know why additional funds are necessary?
  3. What is the "daily allowance"? Is this for participants in events to cover costs while traveling?
  4. What costs are included in the line item "Science Photo Competition"?
  5. Competitions. Are each of these line items for prizes? If so, what type of prizes are they? Cash or other items?
  6. Similarly with awards. Cash awards or other items?
  7. What are the costs involved with "Technical development" for GLAM? Is this paying a contractor?
  8. For the line items under "Community" and "Events", please include a note describing the approximate number of people at each event and what costs are included (catering, etc.), so we have an idea of how you estimated the costs.
  9. Thank you for providing a detailed budget breakdown for the Nordic meeting. Can you also include a note about number of participants so we understand how you have calculated catering costs, etc.?

Thank you! Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 19:59, 20 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1) If we don't need to use that, then great. But we want to be sure, that we can send 2 people there.
2) With this "other meetings", we intend to send 5 people to five relevant conferences (like WikidataCon, Wikimedia Hackathon, Celtic Knot, Wikimedia+Education, +1). If someone can somewhere get a scholarship, then we can just send more. But we can't count on that to happen when selecting conferences where we want to be represented.
3) Yes, this "daily allowance" is there for the participants in events to cover costs while traveling.
4) As previously mentioned in this talk page, then Science Photo Competition costs are mainly for workforce. So we could pay at least something to the involved volunteers. As also mentioned, this is the 3rd biggest photography competition in Wikimedia (two previous competitions have both had over 2200 participants). Or at least I'm not aware of any other photo competitions beside WLM & WLE to have more participants. So it should not be surprising at all that significant effort need to be put in as we are organizing both local and international part of it. But at the same time, 0% of that part will be covered by the funds from WMF anyway.
5) Giving out cash prizes would be rather difficult (due to taxes). So we usually use gift cards. But yes, those line items are mainly for prizes.
6) Wikipedian of the month receives a bookshop gift card. For the Friend of Wikipedia award the cost is related to producing the award itself (photo). The best photographer receives a gift card from a photography-related shop.
7) We have several plans in related to that "Technical developments" part, but as it is unlikely, that we can get all the technical stuff made on a voluntary basis, then we intend to buy in, what we would not manage to get covered on any other way.
8) For comparison: in this years Christmas meetings we hope to attract 20 participants in both Tallinn and in Tartu. There were 14 people in Wikipedia birthday event in Tallinn and 23 participants in the summer days. For the next year the biggest growth should be in the participation of summer days. We are also working to expand the meetings for wikipedians and volunteers that have had rather varying participation numbers so that there is hard to bring out something very specific. Anyway, the costs are rather modest compared to the actual participation. When those lines are related to room rend & catering, then "events" section deals specifically with Public Domain Day & Public Domain Database.
9) As we have brought out, then the expected number of participants in the wikiNordic event is around 30. I was personally to one advocating for the strict limit for participants in this conference back in 2017 when we were planning the first one (that took place in this October) so that the costs could permanently be kept low and it would stay as an easy-to-organize event. There is no plan to change that within any time soon.
Kruusamägi (talk) 00:19, 22 November 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

WMEE’s grant is approved in the amount of 53,953 Euro for 12 months[edit]

Congratulations! WMEE’s grant has been approved in the amount of 53,953 Euro for 12 months, including a contingency fee of 4906 Euro. The grant term will begin 1 January 2019 and end 31 December 2019.

Many thanks to the board of WMEE for working together with us on the program plan during the application period. Thanks to the improvements implemented, we feel we now have a very good understanding about what WMEE is doing, and more importantly, why WMEE is doing these things and what exactly they hope to achieve. We also feel that WMEE’s responsiveness during the application period is good evidence of the level of engagement on the board, and the ways in which board and staff are successfully collaborating. After a period of great change, we are happy to see WMEE functioning in this way.

Now that we have a greater understanding of why WMEE is planning these activities, we also have a renewed appreciation for how WMEE is addressing challenges and opportunities in their own context. This is something we have admired about this organization from its earliest days of receiving WMF grants, and it appears to be something that WMEE has maintained even through many difficult transitions. We hope the movement is able to learn from their thoughtful approaches.

Some highlights from their program plan include:

  • Expansion into every level of the educational system in Estonia, including work with vocational schools, which may be unique among APG chapters. This also includes continuing your ongoing strong partnership with the University of Tartu.
  • Steady progress in GLAM despite serious challenges working with institutions that are struggling to find enough resources to engage. GLAM work focuses on Estonian-specific content as well as content related to other Nordic countries.
  • Ongoing engagement in the area of advocacy, including work on public domain and support of FKAGEU. (Not directly funded by this grant, but still important.)
  • A strong community program that is focused on online engagement and support, in line with your community’s interests. Beyond engaging your community and partners, your programs target specific content gaps and are likely to result in high quality content.

We also appreciate the active role that WMEE is playing in the growing collaboration among Nordic chapters, including their plans to host the 2019 meeting, and their sharing of program ideas and practices with chapters like WMFI.

We wish WMEE success with this ambitious and thoughtful plan, and are looking forward to the year ahead.

Best, Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 16:36, 8 December 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks a lot for the trust and for the help in making the program plan better and clearer! --Reosarevok (talk) 13:26, 11 December 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]