Grants talk:Simple/Applications/Wikimedia New York City/2017-2018

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Hello, Wikimedia New York City colleagues:

We've determined that you are eligible to apply for a Simple Process Annual Plan Grant based on your eligibility evaluation for your most recent grant application that reviews your past work, as well as the midpoint report for your current grant. In addition to this, I conducted an informal visit to New York City in March 2017, when visiting the Art+Feminism launch event at MOMA, where we were able to engage in further discussions about the current state of the chapter and your future plans. WMUSNYC is eligible to apply for a grant up to the Simple Annual Plan Grants maximum amount of $100,000 US dollars, and this grant may include funds for programs, staff, and operating costs.

WMUSNYC is dedicated to diversity in the Wikimedia movement, and their foundational role in projects like AfroCROWD and Art+Feminism, which are now flourishing, are important accomplishments. This theme is also integrated into their work with cultural and educational partnerships, many of which address content gaps and diversity themes.

WMUSNYC's program achievements at the 12-month point are impressive:

  • The AfroCROWD program continues to grow steadily, increasing engagement with partners in New York City and beyond. This program continues to address content gaps on Wikimedia, draw in new contributors from underrepresented African diaspora communities, and continues to engage existing Wikimedians in those communities.
  • WMUSNYC continues to collaborate with the Art+Feminism initiative, and this includes the very successful integration of AfroCROWD and Art+Feminism activities at the MOMA launch event.
  • WMUSNYC continues to support a large number of events with an impressive array of cultural partners. This includes, by the 12 month point, organizing more than 20 salons, 10 specialized workshops, and 100 events! Prestigious partners include the likes of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the United Nations. Relationships with some of these partner institutions have been ongoing for several years.
  • WMUSNYC is partnering with 14 educational institutions, including a particularly interesting long term project with LaGuardia Community College to improve articles about the author Octavia Butler. WMUSNYC board members and volunteers are deeply embedded in some of these institutions, where they have been encouraging students and colleagues to engage with Wikimedia for years.

Despite these impressive program achievements, WMUSNYC has also faced significant challenges in the past 15 months. A key person on the board who had been responsible for the previous grant application left the chapter in March. Since that time, other board members have taken responsibility for submitting reports and grant applications, in consultation with WMF. Following this resignation, board members have expressed their strong commitment to see the chapter through this period and move forward. WMUSNYC also plans to expand the position of the AfroCROWD manager to include part-time administrative support, in order to ensure that the chapter is running effectively.

The hiring of the metrics position was also significantly delayed. In consultation with WMF, WMUSNYC requested and received an extension of their 2016-2017 grant of 3 months. This allowed them to align their grant period with a July - June year, which is a good step for any organization that may someday wish to enter the FDC process. More importantly, it gave the chapter some additional time to show results from the hiring of their metrics position. This surplus from the late hiring of the metrics position meant that WMUSNYC had sufficient funding to implement this extension without an additional funding request.

This application is also a significant increase over their current grant amount. In 2016-2017 WMUS-NYC requested $85,029 and received a total of $74,000. The upcoming year's request of $99,987 is an increase of $25987 over the current year. The chapter has drawn in significant in kind support, for example in the form of continuing venue donations from the Ace Hotel. As WMUSNYC approaches the cap in funding for Simple APG and is almost entirely reliant on APG funding, we encourage them to strategize in the area of fundraising in order to make a plan for how WMUSNYC will be sustained in the coming years. Now that WMUSNYC is approaching the funding cap for Simple APG, it will also be important for the chapter to develop quality annual and strategic planning processes that are more comparable to those of other organizations receiving funding at this level.

We look forward to supporting the work of the chapter in the current year!

Best, Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 14:41, 13 June 2017 (UTC)


As I'm also a board member and treasurer of Wikimedia New York City, and heavily involved in the chapter's SAPG grant writing and decision process, as well as budget creation, I'm recused as a matter of policy and ethical consideration from Grants:Simple/Committee participation and voting on this application. I will, however, still participate as an application presenter for my chapter. - Becksguy (talk) 03:29, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

Management, Administrative, and Organizational Concerns[edit]

As someone who has an inside perspective (2+ years) on the workings of the leadership of Wikimedia New York City, I am concerned about the continuation of this grant and funding support. There should obviously be a local Wikipedia chapter in New York City, but either WMF needs to hold the current chapter and its leadership to a higher standard -- or the funding should be reduced significantly until the chapter proves it can do a better job managing itself, until it establishes a clear mission, and does a better job of outreach, both internally and externally. As it stands, WM NYC is too dependent upon one person, Richard Knipel aka Pharos, and his approach to leadership, which has too many limitations for positive health and growth for the chapter. Allowing the current situation to continue in regards to funding and input into management hurts Wikimedia and limits its impact for both the city and region. Strategic growth is non-existent, and continued healthy engagement will be jeopardized.

  • Ongoing WMF Concern re: Management and Reportage: The Wikimedia Foundation, upon granting the chapter its first Annual Plan Grant last year, had some serious concerns about the chapter's ability to manage and keep in compliance in terms of reporting. These concerns were well founded. At the time of the grant funding, the chapter was experiencing explosive growth in the number of events it was supporting -- which included the newly formed AfroCROWD initiative. Funding seemed logical and necessary, but I believe that funding was based in the fact that there was mission-critical administrative and organizational support in the free digital labor work I was providing. If I was providing this support, the grant and the reporting would be dealt with on a professional level, given my background in library science, administrative work experience, and innate organizational abilities. Doing this work was at least a part-time job's worth of labor, and I was often working full-out to keep up with the work. Now that I am not longer contributing my support to the chapter's leadership, the concern about this work being done is even more concerning. I do not have confidence the current leadership has the skills, knowledge, and abilities to provide good enough administrative and organizational work to support current activities, much less future ones.
  • History and Growth: The lack of ability to adequately manage and organize resources is an ongoing issue -- which is based in historical fact. Reportage compliance is an ongoing issue. The chapter is currently experiencing flat growth and outreach to cultural partners is muted -- especially given Richard's work with the Met, which will distract him from the chapter and mute his ability to respond to other institutions. Given the fact that the chapter is in one of the more densely cultural centers in the world, the lack of richer community engagement from a long-term growth perspective is deeply concerning. Cultural institutions would like to engage with Wikimedia NYC, but the conduit is via Richard, and he is often not responsive or has his own agenda. The outreach with institutional partners is not organized, there is no plan, and most troubling to an open and free cultural movement, is not transparent to the leadership and/or WM NYC Board members. Events are often last-minute and full disclosure about planning is half-hazard. Partners refuse to work with or express grave concerns about working with Richard, but Richard is essentially controlling the access to the chapter, represents the chapter in fact (i.e., Richard is Wikimedia NYC), so there are many lost opportunities.
  • Leadership: Wikimedia New York City is too dependent upon Richard Knipel and Lane Raspberry. Their management style is not effective, and there is no room in said leadership to allow engagement by others. Is Lane part of the leadership? He has no formal role beyond an amorphous title of "Advisor," yet he works behind the scenes and impacts the chapter significantly. Private sector and professional organizational experience is not embraced. Stakeholders at many potential partner cultural institutions have expressed concerns about working with Richard, as he is often non-responsive, disappears, or doesn't have the ability to respond in an organized and professional manner.
  • AfroCROWD: AfroCROWD seems to be fallow. Events are not increasing attendance or engagement, and the focus of the leadership seems to be on engagement outside the scope of actual editing, making AfroCROWD seem like more of a marketing and publicity project than an actual Wikimedia initiative. Where is the growth? Where is the engagement with the various communities of African diaspora in New York City? How is the project actually reaching audiences and encouraging editing of Wikipedia? AfroCROWD seems like an initiative that needs an influx of energy and an overdue re-focus on its action plan. Editathons are not successful because of mismanagement -- using Art+Feminsim videos to teach editing is a huge failure -- but are used because the leaders are not knowledgeable enough about teaching and/or editing Wikipedia. The leaders are not actually editing Wikipedia and Wikidata. This is concerning. If the leadership is not even doing growth-oriented outreach in service of an action plan for engagement with Wikipedia editors, and they are not actively editing, then what exactly is the health of this initiative? And why should it continue to be funded? It's an expensive position, from an hourly perspective, to have such minimal outreach to various potential stakeholder communities in New York City.
  • Metrics and Reporting Position: What happened to this position? It took forever to hire for this position, and the scope of that person's work became more focused on the Art+Feminism initiative versus WM NYC. The position was not providing administrative support -- and the person hired had and continued to have minimal edits to the Wikimedia projects, even after hired. This was basically a bust. It was poorly managed and badly implemented. I would like more transparency and answers as to what happened and if there is plans for an ongoing and/or future position. Given the huge administrative burden and need to collect metadata from events, this position is necessary for the chapter's health and growth. Unfortunately, the position was mired in politics and bad will -- and de facto incompetence. What is the status now? And how will the administrative work and metrics be handled going forward? The failure of this position is another grave concern in funding the chapter.

This grant funding is an opportunity to address questions and establish a better plan for growth. There is no reason to maintain the current status quo and/or even increase funding without addressing these concerns. The health of the chapter is at risk, and the presence of Wikipedia in New York City is too important not to focus on these issues proactively by the Wikimedia Foundation. I had a very negative experience with both the chapter and the WMF's work to address the issues, but I hope that by bringing up these concerns that situation from all sides might be improved. At least these issues are front and center.

-- BrillLyle (talk) 23:11, 26 May 2017 (UTC)
Hello, BrillLyle. Thank you for taking the time to write these detailed comments about the grant application. I appreciate that you have taken the time to write these points down and phrase them in a very clear way, and so I would like to respond. I think it is good and healthy for the committee to hear multiple perspectives about what is happening with the chapter, and you have a lot of insider knowledge about things that have happened in the past. I will make sure that the committee reads your comments and takes them into account. For example, you have brought up some interesting points about how the chapter's approach to partnerships should be more organized and strategic, and your question about what happened with the late hiring of the metrics position is relevant and it would be useful for the chapter to address this either here or in response to Harej's question below.
I understand that you have serious concerns with Richard's leadership and the way the chapter is being run, as well as their ability to address past concerns about compliance and reporting that we have discussed.
I would like to respond to two points you made about reporting and leadership, because I have a different perspective on both of these issues.
  • From my point of view, reporting is going very well. The chapter changed their reporting approach in consultation with me, and I have encouraged them to adopt a more storytelling-oriented approach rather than focusing only on compiling metrics. Both are important, and my impression is that the chapter is working toward achieving a good balance. You and I may disagree on what makes a good report, and that may be well worth a discussion, but to their credit, I believe the chapter is trying hard to follow my suggestions in this area. I feel compelled to point this out, because I don't want the chapter to be slammed for following my advice.
  • On the current grant and the application, I have been working closely with Pete, Richard, and Alice, who have all been deeply involved. Lane has not been a primary point of contact for the grant since you left the board. Other chapter members have also taken the time to meet with me about their specific projects and interests. This may be a change from when you were working with the chapter, but I see that a broad leadership team on the board has really stepped up to carry the organization forward since that difficult time. This is only one perspective, and it is an outsider's perspective, but it is also the perspective of someone who works with many leadership teams in the Wikimedia movement.
Can you let me know if you are seeking a response from me or the chapter on any of these other points? I agree that supporting a healthy presence in New York City is very important, and I plan to continue to focus on this work. I value your perspective on this, and I am sorry to learn that you are disappointed with the work that I have been doing with the chapter so far. I am open to your views and suggestions, and hope we can continue a dialogue even when we disagree. Best, Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 16:44, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
@Wolliff (WMF):
* I think that my points above are pretty clear.
* If the chapter wants community support for this grant, it is critical they respond to the questions that have been raised. There should be careful, clear responses as to future goals and strategies. If there aren't, it doesn't seem that the grant should continue to be funded -- much less increased.
* I did the first ever midpoint report which was very data heavy. Your feedback focused on the desire for more fuzzy story-like summaries of the metrics. But I had no help when I generated the report after repeatedly asking for help, so the metrics were the focus. The next report would have incorporated your feedback to add that layer to the metrics. I think it is a mistake to focus more heavily on story-like reportage at the cost of hard data. The metrics need to be the underpinning, in my opinion, to show quantifiable metadata. I disagree with this re-focus if the metadata is not gathered and presented in a regular and organized manner.
* Lane continues to edit the WM NYC namespace administratively and is displaying leadership by conducting local events and doing ongoing outreach. It doesn't seem like he's stepped back much at all.
* Even with the expansion of the AfroCROWD position to include administrative support, does that person have the skills, knowledge, and abilities to do the job? Sherry, the AfroCROWD program manager, does not -- she still only has less than 600 edits and does not know how to administer pages, gather metrics, or manage namespaces. All of these responsibilities need to be done by this position.
* WHAT HAPPENED TO THE Metrics & Reporting Position?!? This needs to be very clearly explained. I am pretty clear on what happened, but to justify funding the chapter needs to explain what exactly happened.
* AfroCROWD was supposedly an effort to conduct outreach within the New York City region, where there are very wide and deep pockets of communities within the African diaspora populations, but there is talk of doing international outreach now? How about focusing on the region and being effective in NYC before expanding? I am not seeing the data and results to justify international expansion. They have low editor retention and don't seem to be connecting with local communities in a meaningful or organized way. As I said above, the project seems in major flux, ineffective, and without strategic focus. The numbers do not back up continued funding as the outreach does not seem effective. Why keep funding it beyond optics?
* Re-upping the grant funding -- and increasing the grant funding -- is essentially rewarding the chapter for the work that was and is being done. I am not happy with this reward system, as I think the leadership has done a really bad job -- especially in the last year -- and should not be rewarded for incompetence and mismanagement. Richard's distraction with the Met project is one of the big concerns, but also his continued leadership and disorganization are others.
* I see two positions here, the AfroCROWD Manager at 20 hours a week and a Metrics Manager at 10 hours a week. Is this the plan, or is there just one position, with the AfroCROWD Manager doing both jobs. I am confused.
-- Erika aka BrillLyle (talk) 09:36, 14 June 2017 (UTC)

Afrocrowd response[edit]

Afrocrowd has never represented itself as working exclusively within the New York City region. The gap we are trying to address is endemic to the Wikimedia movement globally. Our mission statement does not mention limitation to New York. We have been supporting editathons concerning our target demographic in other parts of the United States and the world since 2015.
Regarding the Metrics Assistant position, at no point has it ever been posited that the Afrocrowd Manager would occupy that post. They are two distinct positions requiring distint skill sets. Aliceba (talk) 16:33, 26 June 2017 (UTC)

Questions from Harej[edit]

Thank you for this proposal. I have some questions:

  • Staffing plan
    • You mention that the Board, or a specific individual appointed by the Board, is responsible for supervision. Later, it is clarified that the positions are supervised by Alice Backer and Megan Wacha. What is their relationship to the organization – are they employees, or corporate officers, or something else?
Both Backer and Wacha are members of the WMNYC board. The board retains overall responsibility, but they are the specific individuals appointed by the board to manage their respective staffers. - Becksguy (talk) 17:12, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
Alice Backer and Megan Wacha as well as Michael Mandiberg from Art+Feminism were responsible for the mismanagement of the hiring of the Metrics & Reporting position, wildly delayed, candidate did not work out, etc. Why should they be entrusted with this continued effort when they did such a bad job so recently? -- BrillLyle (talk) 09:43, 14 June 2017 (UTC)
--Please excuse the delay in my response here as Sherry and I were away in Detroit for the Allied Media conference until a few days ago and I have had to catch up on my day job. To clarify, I (Alice) supervise Sherry Antoine, the program Manager of Afrocrowd, only for her Afrocrowd-related duties. I am also a member of the WMNYC Board and the founder of Afrocrowd. Although I was on the metrics hiring committee, it was decided eventually at the request of Winifred that only one person, another member of the metrics hiring committee, Megan Wacha, would supervise the Metrics Assistant. It has not been decided yet whether Megan will continue overseeing that position. It was agreed that members of the Wikimidia NYC board other than myself would Supervise Sherry Antoine for any duties she performs for the chapter and not Afrocrowd. I hope this helps and am at your disposal for further clarification. Aliceba (talk) 16:22, 23 June 2017 (UTC)
    • How did you come to "long term" and "short term" as the two major categories tasks belong to?
Those are terms that I believe were intended to differentiate between tactical and strategic goals. We have recently committed to creating a strategic plan, so for the purposes of this application that differentiation is premature. - Becksguy (talk) 17:39, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
    • What comprises a long-term ticket? Why are they not limited by time? In project management, even the broadest objectives have some kind of time boundaries associated with them: quarterly goals, annual goals, multi-year strategic objectives, etc.
As I mentioned above, this distinction is premature until we have a Strategic Plan, scheduled to be developed on July 1st. - Becksguy (talk) 02:00, 23 June 2017 (UTC)
    • How are the Czech "Students Write Wikipedia" and "Senior Citizens Write Wikipedia" programs related to AfroCrowd?
They are not. It was a bit of verbiage left by mistake when the content was copied from another chapter’s document. I've since removed it. - Becksguy (talk) 14:19, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
    • What, specifically, does the AfroCrowd program entail? What are the deliverables of the AfroCrowd program manager?
    • The second part of the AfroCrowd position introduces some serious scope creep. You are, effectively, expecting a part-time contractor to (a) administer a program, (b) write reports for funders, (c) manage organizational documentation, (d) manage public-facing communications, and (e) manage the event calendar for all events, not just AfroCrowd. Putting aside questions of feasibility, this goes far above and beyond what should be in scope for an AfroCrowd contractor.
This change in scope was necessitated by the recent resignation of a board member. This is a short term fix for a problem that needs to be addressed on a longer term basis, such as redistributing board tasks (and potentially contracting for an administrative assistant in the future if necessary). Further, the additional tasks are not outside the scope of a contractor, as no executive or managerial decisions are being made by the contractor, and the work requires approval by an appropriate board member/officer. Further, this is work that is being performed for AfroCrowd, so it is not a stretch to also perform this work for the chapter in the short term. An all day board strategic planning meeting is scheduled for July 1st to cover these issues and to create a strategic plan, an annual plan, and a mission statement. - Becksguy (talk) 19:21, 21 June 2017 (UTC)
-- @Harej:: What do you suggest we do as an alternative? The amount we are asking for does not permit the hiring of an Executive Director. What would you do in our place? Aliceba (talk) 16:25, 23 June 2017 (UTC)
    • I believe the metrics manager position was funded in last year's plan? If so, can I see some examples of outputs from that manager's work?
The output frsom the metrics is at: - Becksguy (talk) 18:57, 21 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Programs
    • "36 new contributors continue to make 5+ edits per month, 12 months after participating in an event, and 36 existing contributors report increased engagement as a result of their attendance at meetups and edit-a-thons or their participation in education and GLAM activities." – is this a reported outcome of past programs, or an anticipated outcome of future programs?
    • "Activities at meetups can be live Wikimedia contributions or training." – as in, meetups will include either editing sessions, or sessions where people are trained in editing?
Actually both. For example, at the last editathon I attended Wiki Loves Pride 2017 on June 22nd, the event started with a lecture on Wikipedia editing, using screen projection, followed with live editing with help from experienced editors. - Becksguy (talk) 20:07, 26 June 2017 (UTC)
    • I am interested in your expansion into technology-related programming. Who will manage your technical events? What are your goals around these events? What are your plans for reaching out to the community of people who would participate in these events? How would you determine whether your program was successful?
    • "It is now fashionable for cultural actors in the target community in NYC and beyond to add an editathon to conferences or programming." – can you name examples of conferences or other non-Wikimedia events that have added edit-a-thons to their programs as a result of your efforts?
    • I love the idea of a collaboration with African user groups to improve documentation on the Atlantic slave trade. But I am not sure if supporting growth of the program in the UK is the best use of resources. Are you sure you've achieved saturation within the United States? Without a clear explication of AfroCrowd's impact, I am not sure that I can conclude that international expansion is an obvious choice.
-- We have an experienced Wikipedian in the UK, Kelly Foster who is interested in implementing Afrocrowd-style programming in the UK using our brand and logo. Why would we turn that down? She will be fundraising independently for her activities in the UK. We are not asking you to fund her operations in this grant but the few hours of our time jointly branding a monthly newsletter and bringing Kelly to Wikimania Montreal so we can further plan and meet and so that we can move towards an Afrocrowd user group. I am not sure that saturation in the United States needs to be achieved in order to concurrently grow in the UK. Should we prevent black Wikipedians in the UK from enjoying Afrocrowd style events until 5 years down the line? My answer is no, especially as we are in dire need of diversity in this movement in Europe and the United States. Aliceba (talk) 16:34, 23 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Budget
    • What, approximately, is the breakdown of costs for the Wikipedia Day line item? About how many people are you expecting?
Wikipedia Day 2017 on January 15th cost about $3,901, of which $160 was for a Birthday cake (picture viewable at Wikilink), and the rest, $3,741 was for food and beverages. The venue was an inkind donation. About 230 people attended in 2017 and the guess is about the same number will attend in January 2018. I expect to cut back on food and beverages significantly next year. W:Wikipedia:Meetup/NYC/Wikipedia Day 2017 - Becksguy (talk) 14:51, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
    • What are you spending $6,000 on for Wikipedia Asian Month?
Link to the Asian Month budget request in detail: Wikipedia Asian Month/2017 Budget - Becksguy (talk) 06:05, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
    • I am concerned by the fact that Wikipedia Day and Wikipedia Asian Month are two of the costliest events in the budget but get almost zero coverage in the grant proposal. I would recommend adding more information about them to the grant proposal, since they represent significant cost centers.
I added Wikipedia Day information to the application. - Becksguy (talk) 12:51, 23 June 2017 (UTC)
I also added Asian Month information to the application. - Becksguy (talk) 19:29, 26 June 2017 (UTC)
    • $1,371 is allocated for travel grants, but no mention of them in the proposal. What are travel grants awarded for? What is the criteria for awarding them? How do you determine whether a given grant fulfills your organization's charitable purpose?
I am very interested in the responses here. The travel grants have been given to Richard aka Pharos and other Board members. Is this an okay thing to do? If this is an accepted cost item, it seems like greater transparency about these expenditures should be required. -- BrillLyle (talk) 09:54, 14 June 2017 (UTC)
That particular line item is for local travel micro grants (scholarships) and are normally awarded to individuals to attend WM-NYC events. The criteria is essentially the individual’s need coupled with sufficient past activity/contributions, and potential contributions at the event, such that the attendance is deemed an enhancement to our mission and therefore a charitable purpose. - Becksguy (talk) 01:44, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
    • You budget 20 scholarships for travel between New York and Montreal, but only mention 4-5 AfroCrowd participants going to the conference. Do you have a planned program for awarding scholarships to Wikimania? If so, what are your criteria for awarding scholarshios? Also, any reason these are classified as operating expenses, rather than program expenses?
We plan on awarding scholarships based on a combination of bytes added and enthusiasm and participation. The main reason we decided to award our own scholarships is that our most prolific editor, despite having written 15 articles about black women activists, was not awarded a scholarship to Wikimania. Following our mission, I believe that black editors from the Western world need to be more visible at Wikimania and Wikimedia if we are indeed going to fulfill our freshly devised movement strategy by 2030. Aliceba (talk) 16:47, 26 June 2017 (UTC)
    • I like the idea of an anti-harassment workshop. Do you have a specific vendor lined up? Also, is there a reason it's classified as an operating expense rather than a program expense? Is this anti-harassment in the context of events and community-building, or is it more of an internal HR training?
The anti-harassment workshop was in response to my perceived behavior challenging the friendly space policy. The mismanagement of that situation called for an outside consultant, an activity which I declined to participate in. More concerning, however, was an actual friendly space violation by an attendee at one of the events, which was as far as I understand it, not resolved satisfactorily. I was banned from attending editathons, but the person who violated the friendly space policy was not. Throwing money to an outside consultant, and this much money, seems like a waste of time. And since I am gone, why make the expense? The friendly space violation was about management and transparency of the event. No need to throw money at the problem. -- BrillLyle (talk) 09:54, 14 June 2017 (UTC)
There have been several occasions in which the issue of harassment was brought up, at least going back to 2014. Because of confidentially, no further details can be disclosed here. This is something the chapter has wanted to do for a while. Lane Rasberry has found a licensed counselor with a masters degree in Brooklyn that will hold harassment workshops for $500 per hour. With $2K, that will allow for a three hour workshop with some funds for refreshments, and a potential venue payment ($250), or four hours if necessary. I included it in operating costs because it is more of an HR training and will apply to multiple events and programs, including AfroCrowd, and more importantly, online harassment which not necessarily tied to any particular program. - Becksguy (talk) 20:26, 21 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Corporate governance
    • You are asking for nearly $100,000 in funding. This is a nontrivial amount of funding, and it is important to me that any organization entrusted with this much funding has the capacity to effectively manage and spend such resources.
    • Can you confirm that the current composition of your Board of Directors is: Pharos, Becksguy, Jim.henderson, Aliceba, DGG, DrX, Kosboot, Lange.lea, Megs, Mozucat, Newyorkbrad? Are there any board members missing from that list? Anyone on that list who is not a board member anymore?
Yes the list is complete with 11 members, no one is missing, no one not a member anymore. - Becksguy (talk) 15:13, 7 June 2017 (UTC)
Is Lea still active in the leadership? She hasn't edited since December 2016, and I don't think has participated in WM NYC events. BrillLyle (talk) 09:56, 14 June 2017 (UTC)
    • Can you confirm that no member of your board has any substantial businessbe presented to the board before interest in Wikimedia NYC's activity, such as selling goods or services, including contract services, to Wikimedia NYC?
Yes I can confirm that no member of our current board has any substantial business interest in our chapter activities. - Becksguy (talk) 23:23, 14 June 2017 (UTC)
    • Can you confirm that you have not held any board meetings since January 2017? (I also recommend moving meeting minutes to something more durable than Etherpad after meetings.)
We held board meetings on March 19, May 1 and May 18, 2017. see: - Kosboot (talk) 19:27, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
    • How do you determine your priorities as an organization? Do you have an annual plan for this year?
We essentially followed the goals as listed in the 2016-2017 SAPG grant to determine our priorities last year. For this year, I'm creating the annual plan for 2017-2018 as we speak. It needs to be presented to the board before being officially published. But I can post a draft if necessary. - Becksguy (talk) 02:50, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
    • By what process does Wikimedia NYC come up with a budget, including money from both WMF and non-WMF sources? What is the process for approving this budget? Does the responsibility of review and approval (or rejection) rest with the board or the members?
    • How are day-to-day fiscal issues managed? Who approves expenditures? Who carries them out?
For already approved budgeted items (such as venue payments), I cut the checks. For other items such as food for events, already in the budget as an aggregate, Pharos and I discuss, then usually one of us charges the expense on the chapter debit card. - Becksguy (talk) 03:33, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
    • Do you have any documented procedures for hiring and managing staff? Do you have a non-discrimination policy?
    • Can you post a copy of Wikimedia NYC's Form 990 for last fiscal year?

Thank you, harej (talk) 01:12, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

Questions from the SAPG Committee[edit]

From Kirill[edit]

Hi, Wikimedia New York City! I have some questions about your application:

1. General

  • 1A: During my review of your previous application, I asked about the lack of an annual plan, and you undertook to develop such a plan for the coming year; however, the current application does not appear to include it. Can you please provide this document, or an explanation for why it is missing?
We have committed to creating an 2017-2018 annual plan, as well as a strategic plan and a mission statement in the board strategic all-day retreat on July 1, 2017. The two plans are deliverables from that meeting and will be posed on wiki and with links added to the APG application. The mission statement is also a deliverable and will be posted on wiki. - Becksguy (talk) 17:38, 22 June 2017 (UTC)
  • 1B: The metrics spreadsheet for the application appears to be blank. Can you please provide this information?
At Winifred's suggestion, we are developing a strategic plan this summer, using non-APG board development funds to host a board retreat with an outside facilitator for this purpose. The metrics spreadsheet currently has our "interim" data through April 2017, the "final" rows will be be completed for the remainder of the fiscal year through July, and we'll also have a more detailed breakdown and presentation of the data by then.--Pharos (talk) 20:43, 5 June 2017 (UTC)
Pharos, to clarify, I was referring to the metrics spreadsheet for this grant (in other words, your targets for the upcoming year), not the metrics for your current grant period. Kirill Lokshin (talk) 20:49, 5 June 2017 (UTC)
Done. - Becksguy (talk) 07:33, 15 June 2017 (UTC)

2. Programs

  • 2A: The description for the meetup program states that there will be "30 Wikipedia meetups of any sort" in the coming fiscal year. Is this number inclusive of cultural partnership and university and college partnership events, or does it only refer to "Salons and Wikipedia Day" meetups?
  • 2B: The specific targets set for the meetup program appear to be the same as those described in your previous application; this is surprising in light of the 68% increase in the program's budget from the prior year. Can you please share how these targets were selected, and your rationale for not increasing them from year to year?
We have expanded our target to 45 events in the meetup program – 15 for salons and similar, 15 for editathons and similar, and 15 for presentations with external partners.--Pharos (talk) 16:00, 16 June 2017 (UTC)

3. Staffing

  • 3A: The staffing plan states that the effective engagement of the AfroCrowd Program Manager on the AfroCrowd program will decrease by 19%, from 16 hours per week to 13 hours per week. At the same time the plan for the AfroCrowd program includes substantial expansion of the program and capacity-building at the local and international levels. Can you please share your rationale for the reduced staff utilization in light of this activity?
The plan for AfroCrowd in the coming year is for a greater focus on capacity-building and international projects, as opposed to having a dedicated AfroCrowd-led editathon every single month, which was useful at the start to build relationships, but now that there are more organizational partners it makes sense to work with them on a smaller number of stronger events, and shift the staff time to growing and deepening that network.--Pharos (talk) 16:00, 16 June 2017 (UTC)
-- I second Pharos' explanation above. We are scaling down on editathons in New York as the practice is now fashionable here in our target group and at least one other org is organizing them regularly both here and in other cities. Why duplicate efforts? We are proud to have made the practice go viral here and now can move on to other priorities and broader goals. We would like to move on to researching and networking for the various other initiatives that we listed regarding UK, Africa and the Caribbean. We are not asking you to fund these activities in this grant. Black Wikipedians from the West are still under-represented in the movement at Wikimedia Conference and at Wikimania. Afrocrowd has in its mission to increase Black participation in the movement beyond New York and the east coast. For that to happen, we want to help spread our model to those who have reached out to us from the UK and other parts of the Western World. But we estimate that the hours spent doing that will be distributed between us and our partners, hence the decrease. This is an estimate or course and practice may prove us wrong on this estimate. We work well with WMNYC and can poach some of their hours in weeks when they are not using them. I think it will all balance out. Aliceba (talk) 16:59, 23 June 2017 (UTC)
  • 3B: The staffing plan includes specific metrics for staff responsiveness ("80% of e-mails within 2 days, 100% of e-mails within 1 week"). Can you please share your plans for how these metrics will be collected and evaluated?
My plan is to have the staffers self report these metrics to their board manager on a regular basis, placed in a spreadsheet and then used as a performance tool. Subject to any changes at our board strategic retreat. - Becksguy (talk) 18:39, 26 June 2017 (UTC)

4. Budget

  • 4A: The budget for the coming year is $99,987, which is just under the $100,000 limit for SAPG funding. Can you please share your thoughts regarding funding in future years? Do you intend to stabilize your budget at this level, transition to the full APG process, or obtain external funding to grow?
I second this question, it was the first that came to mind when reading your budget. Alleycat80 (talk) 21:14, 12 June 2017 (UTC)
This will depend on our strategic plan process this summer, but we are definitely going to put a primary focus on external funding, with consultation by WMF and allied partners. We are also going to make a greater effort to document substantial in-kind contributions by partner organizations (event space and staff time) that we have been regularly getting.--Pharos (talk) 16:00, 16 June 2017 (UTC)
  • 4B: The budget does not reflect any funding sources aside from this SAPG grant. Can you please share your rationale for not seeking more diversified funding?
The SAPG funding limit seems sufficient this year and we don't have much in the way of external grant writing or actual fundraising experience and training. This is one of the major goals of our all day strategic board retreat; specifically develop a strategic plan that covers this and other issues. We have had discussions on grant writing training and intend to move forward with that. We all agree that developing diversified funding is an important part of our strategic plan. Also as Pharos pointed out, we do get a fair amount of inkind venue donations from GLAM and other sources. - Becksguy (talk) 18:23, 26 June 2017 (UTC)
  • 4C: Can you please provide a more detailed description of the specific costs covered by the following lines in the budget?
    • Line 1.1.5 ("Asian Month")
Here are the links to the description (from 2016) and to the detailed Asian Month budget request (for 2017-2018).
-Becksguy (talk) 07:11, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
Becksguy, Pharos, the first line item in the detailed budget ("Est. working time 700 hours for 4 positions. Subsidy $6/h") appears to be funding for paid staff support for the program. Why is this funding not listed under the "Staff and contractor funding" section of the budget? Why is there no reference to these positions in the staffing plan? Why are these positions not disclosed in the "Staff and contractors" section of the application? Kirill Lokshin (talk) 13:12, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
I agree with Kirill, this is strange and unusual. I would like to understand what is the use of these 4 positions in more detail. Alleycat80 (talk) 22:16, 16 June 2017 (UTC)
Asian Month is an online editathon project of AddisWang and is not part of WM-NYC; they are not subject to our oversight or reporting. There is no requirement for WM-NYC to include their structural information in any staffing or application documents. The proper place to direct these questions would be to AddisWang, I believe. - Becksguy (talk) 05:24, 19 June 2017 (UTC)
Becksguy, you are mistaken. It is, in every case, the responsibility of the person, group, or organization that applies for Wikimedia Foundation grant funding to account for how those funds will be used. Since you are requesting these funds directly through your SAPG grant (as opposed to, for example, proposing to administer a separate grant that AddisWang would independently apply for), you are required to fully account for them in your application—there is no separate grant through which the required oversight or reporting will be provided. Kirill Lokshin (talk) 09:34, 19 June 2017 (UTC)
@AddisWang: I have reached out to him to facilitate a further response. That is, to either separate their application from ours, or to incorporate their staff information into our application. - Becksguy (talk) 16:32, 22 June 2017 (UTC)
Kirill Lokshin So I guess the idea get some confusion. From the beginning, we are not intending to hire/contract anyone. The fund is non-stipend, instead, its more like a subsidy/honorarium. The reason behind it is, as in my work breakdown for running the basic structure of the Wikipedia Asian Month, it would require some 700 hours working time in 3 months and on average 175 hours per position. Before that, I took the entire workload with limited assistance from other Wikimedians. That basically indicate this project is not sustainable if everything relies on me, instead of a project team. But asking volunteers committing 2-4 hours per day depends on which month, is truly hard, yet I don't very like the idea of hiring someone to do this kind of job, since it would be expensive which is not the idea of WAM. That's why we came up the idea of proving subsidy/honorarium to our project team members in a significantly lower rate. The rate ($6/h) is rather a reference that hopes to help people understand why its a subsidy, instead of an actual meaning of we will pay $6 per hour to our team members for every hour they worked. If this can be more make sense, that we will just give about $1050 subsidy per person for that 4 positions to appreciate their effort that doing almost like a part-time work for Wikipedia Asian Month. I've edited the Wikipedia Asian Month/2017 Budget and hopefully, that can solve the confusion here.--AddisWang (talk) 18:49, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
I have added Asian Month to the APG application and the staffing plan, although as Addis pointed out, there are actually no paid staffers. Sorry for the confusion. - Becksguy (talk) 20:52, 25 June 2017 (UTC)
    • Line 2.4.1 ("Office rent")
We need a place where a few board members, or committee members, can meet on projects, meet with staffers, conduct interviews, and similar activities that require face time in a professional space. We felt that a full time office was not needed, but that an average of two hours per month was probably enough. The lowest rental cost for coworking space in Manhattan I've found is $25 per hour. $25/hr X 2 X 12 months = $600. - Becksguy (talk) 04:55, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
ThoughtWorks offered free meeting space, which I brought up more than once. This was a lost opportunity that was never followed up on -- and I suspect there are other options as well. There are other spaces in New York that would donate space, but this would require consistent outreach and community building. Babycastles is outrageously expensive. -- BrillLyle (talk) 14:50, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
    • Line 3.2.4 ("AfroCrowd Training Kit")ː
AfroCROWD Training Kit would include items such as:
How to edit Wikipedia materials:
  • AfroCROWD Tutorial video on How to Edit Wikipedia
  • Worksheet templates for editors:
  • How to edit written instructions
  • Coding cheat sheet
How to organize a Wikipedia edit-a-thon materials:
  • AfroCROWD Tutorial video on how to organize an edit-a-thon
  • Tips on outreach and partnerships
  • Partnership worksheets
  • Press release and other outreach announcement examples
  • Other templates for sign in sheets and set up
Social media training materials:
  • Media outreach tools
AfroCROWD Outreach SWAG:
  • AfroCROWD and Wikipedia stickers, pins, t-shirts for organizers, mugs, name tags, folder for kit. -- Shanluan (talk) 18:07, 23 June 2017 (UTC)
The above comments were added by Sherry, who still doesn't know how to sign comments. She will be in charge of admin and does training for new editors?!? Sigh. -- BrillLyle (talk) 14:46, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
As Sherry's supervisor I would like to point out that at no point has Sherry been represented as training new editors. I have been in charge of most of the training for Afrocrowd, and that has only been possible thanks to the invaluable support of WMNYC chapter volunteers. Sherry's duties are outlined in the staffing plan and do not outwardly include being in charge of training. Aliceba (talk) 16:51, 26 June 2017 (UTC)

Please let me know if any of the questions are unclear, and I'll be happy to clarify. Kirill Lokshin (talk) 02:57, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

from rubin16[edit]

Hello! I have questions regarding the budget mainly. First, I suggest you to lock the Google spreadsheet as I was able to edit anonymously :)

  • wikimania lodging and travel - how many people do you want to send? How candidates will be selected? What do you think about applications to Wikimania stipends?
Stipends are a great way to support potential attendees who otherwise could not afford the trip. The window to apply for Wikimania stipends closed some time ago, so this is the only way to help people in our region. - Becksguy (talk) 19:38, 26 June 2017 (UTC)
  • what are anti-harassment services for 2k USD?
(copied from above) There have been several occasions in which the issue of harassment was brought up, at least going back to 2014. Because of confidentially, no further details can be disclosed here. This is something the chapter has wanted to do for a while. Lane Rasberry has found a licensed counselor with a masters degree in Brooklyn that will hold harassment workshops for $500 per hour. With $2K, that will allow for a three hour workshop with some funds for refreshments, and a potential venue payment ($250), or four hours if necessary. I included it in operating costs because it is more of an HR training and will apply to multiple events and programs, including AfroCrowd, and more importantly, online harassment which not necessarily tied to any particular program. - Becksguy (talk) 20:26, 21 June 2017 (UTC)
  • your prior year grant seems to be underspent, how much cash do you have on your account? Request for your FS was posted above, I found just this with 53k USD brought forward

Best regards rubin16 (talk) 15:57, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

Some answers...
  • The Google spreadsheet had been left unlocked for board members to edit. I've locked it now that the application is being reviewed.
  • Our APG account as of today is $31,541 on hand, not including the rest of this month's transactions. We were expecting significant charges from the Metrics position, primarily for A&F work, charges that will not be forthcoming as the Metrics person has de facto resigned. Typically there will be other charges that will come in before the grant period ends. $74,000 grant - $42,459 disbursed so far = $31,541 potential underspend.
  • We are expecting about 20 people to take the Amtrak train to Montreal. That travel is being partially subsided at $78 in the APG, about 56% of a current RT ticket cost of $138 per seat. We are working out a selection criteria, most likely based on need coupled with potential contributions at Wikimania.
- Becksguy (talk) 07:55, 15 June 2017 (UTC)

from Ido (AKA Alleycat80)[edit]


Actually, many of the points I wanted to raise around specifics about your budget were raised before. So I will just note that as with last year's notes, I would like to encourage you to diversify your funding resources, especially with an application as big as this. I think you should absolutely build on your past impact and successes and find additional sources of funding other than WMF. I noted this last year, I would like to hear where you stand with thoughts about this.

Alleycat80 (talk) 20:12, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

  • I believe it's common sense that any organization would be better off in the long term by not being overly dependent on one source of funding and that funding diversification is also necessary to drive growth.
  • The board currently does not have sufficient expertise or experience in soliciting external funding. Tools and training is needed and that is a priority for this year.
  • We have been advised that a professional and impactful Annual Report is necessary for successful external fundraising. The production of this report is also a priority for this year.
  • A facilitated strategic meeting is scheduled for July 1, 2017 to brainstorm for a multiyear plan, and explore the various options going forward.
  • At this point, I would say that based on advice, going the full FDC route (> $100K) is probably not a good option.
  • We have other sources of funding, but they tend to be inkind venue donations, and are tied to specific events.
  • Subject to the outcome of our strategic meeting, I would say that we will probably stay in the SAPG process at the same level as well as look for external funding.
Some of these thoughts have been stated in one form or another already on this page. - Becksguy (talk) 19:12, 26 June 2017 (UTC)

useful links[edit]

I haven't found them on the grant page, so want to share with my colleagues from the committee rubin16 (talk) 15:32, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

Simple Annual Plan Grants Committee recommendation[edit]

Committee recommendations
Funding recommendations:

The committee recommends funding this application in the amount of $80,000 US dollars for 12 months. While the committee appreciates the chapter’s strong commitment to diversity and significant experience implementing programs, important competencies in planning, governance, staff management, and program design are underdeveloped.

In particular, the committee recommends that the Wikipedia Asian Month team seek funding through the project grants or rapid grants process to fund their work, as the case has not been made for how this work fits into Wikimedia New York City’s annual pan. Wikimedia New York City may still serve as a fiscal sponsor for this team. The chapter may also consider reducing their budget for events, documentation, or the hours for the metrics position in order to realign their budget to the recommended amount.

The committee recommends that Wikimedia New York City take the following actions over the course of the next year:

  1. It is essential that Wikimedia New York City continue with their strategic planning process (planned to launch early summer), and that this results in a quality strategic plan for the 2018-2019. The committee is requesting that the chapter define a timeline for the strategic planning process by the beginning of September 2017.
  2. The committee recommends that Wikimedia New York City reconsider their program model when making their next annual plan and grant application, in order to better re-align their programs with appropriate metrics.
  3. The committee would like a full report on the hiring, management, and departure of the metrics coordinator, including reflections on what the chapter learned and how the chapter can improve their future work with employees.
  4. The chapter must consider, and clearly articulate, their plans for growing and sustaining their volunteer community, especially as they consider growing their staff or their budget.
  5. The committee recommends that the chapter return next year with a more concrete plan for fundraising. In addition to attracting external funding sources, this may include better accounting of in-kind donations. For example, the committee encourages Wikimedia New York City to secure venue donations where possible, in order to bring more resources into the Wikimedia movement. Committee members with significant experience in this area can support the chapter in these plans.
  6. When considering expansion of any activities beyond the chapter’s borders, the committee would like the chapter to collaborate with other regional partners in the movement as appropriate. Specifically, the committee recommends the chapter consult Wikimedia UK as they plan AfroCROWD expansion.

Committee members with relevant experience are interested in working together with Wikimedia New York City to address challenges in the areas of addressing safe space violations at events, and in the areas of raising external resources. The committee acknowledges that this has been a challenging year, and that conflict on the board and ineffective staff may have impeded progress in the areas of planning and governance during this period. The committee is eager to support the chapter as they move forward.

Strengths identified by the committee:
  • This chapter has significant experience with similar programs and plans in the past, and so is likely to be able to do the work set out in this plan.
  • This plan has a strong emphasis on multiple aspects of diversity, including race and gender, through specific initiatives like AfroCROWD and an emphasis on diversity in partnerships work, through a focus on diverse participation and filling content gaps. As the chapter continues to grow its work in this important area, it is important that the chapter’s core team and community remain diverse and supportive of inclusive values.
  • Over the past grant period, the chapter has achieved a significant degree of program footprint growth, from 59 total events to more than 100 total events, more than 1,000 total participants, almost 1,500 total articles added or improved, and more than 17 million total bytes of content added to the Wikimedia projects.
  • Wikimedia New York City aims to become the main hub of international thematic events such as Wikipedia Asian Month, Art + Feminism, and AfroCROWD. In this way, the chapter is contributing significantly to the international movement.
  • Vivid and colorful documentation with well-skilled story-telling is featured in the report.
  • Independent edit-a-thons are a great idea, if they can support volunteers that are organizing edit-a-thons themselves.
Concerns identified by the committee:
  • It has been difficult to communicate with the chapter board and receive timely responses to inquiries.
  • It is unclear how various program activities (especially in the meetup program) relate to one another or to some common program vision or objective. This also results in a lack of relevant metrics for some activities. For example, the inclusion of primarily non-editing events (such as presentations and hack-a-thons) in a program whose outcomes are measured exclusively through editor participation and retention is unlikely to allow meaningful assessment of impact.
  • Wikimedia New York City’s work may have high potential, but they need more relevant metrics, such as metrics that look at aspects of quality for photographs and articles. In their metrics, there is an emphasis on participation, which might not offer enough information about the depth of their work. For example, there is still too much emphasis on the number of events and partnerships, without enough explanation of their quality or depth. In general, while specific targets are included, they seem low compared with what the chapter has achieved in the past or what they set out to achieve in previous years.
  • The chapter has experienced governance problems during the last grant period, including conflicts between board members, unexplained staff departures, and multiple safe space incidents. This may have impeded progress in some areas during the most recent grant period. In last year’s recommendations, we suggested a close monitoring of their new staff position. Little was learned from the previous year, due to problems with hiring, managing, and retaining this person.
  • While Wikimedia New York City has close ties to a community of dedicated volunteers, we need to see their thinking about user retention and volunteer recruitment and retention articulated more clearly. This will be important for the sustainability of the organization in the long term.
  • Despite last year’s recommendations, we do not see clear progress in the area of bringing in non-WMF resources.
  • Despite last year’s recommendations, we do not see evidence of improved planning processes, such as an annual or strategic plan. We realize the chapter is moving forward with this during the summer, and have made some specific recommendations that they pursue this.

On behalf of the Simple Annual Plan Grants Committee. Kirill Lokshin (talk) 11:59, 27 June 2017 (UTC)

WMF approval[edit]

Decision from WMF
Funding decision:

Many thanks to the committee for this detailed and thoughtful recommendation, and to the team at Wikimedia New York City for the work you did on this application. We are approving the committee's recommendation to fund your grant in the amount of 80,000 US dollars for 12 months.

Since you were awarded a different amount than what you requested, we will ask you to submit a new budget within 30 days of the start of your grant term. We can discuss some ideas for reducing your budget that will be in line with the recommendations of the committee. Some areas we can consider are reducing the hours for the metrics person, or reducing event costs.

While expressing a lot of appreciation for your work, the committee also expressed some substantive concerns. It will be important to follow their recommendations closely over the next year. In particular, it will be a good idea to focus on forming a long term strategy and to take a different approach in forming next year's annual plan and focus on ensuring the success of the new metrics person, if you choose to go forward with hiring that person as planned.

I am looking forward to continuing our work together during the upcoming grant period, and supporting you as you tackle some of the challenges the committee has laid out.

Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 03:10, 30 June 2017 (UTC)

While I understand the strategic importance of having a local New York City chapter, I am shocked at the approval of a grant for such a large amount of money. This is basically a renewal of last year's amount. There seems to be no real consequences to the very real issues that are affecting this chapter's leadership. The end result of WMF displaying continued support of a problematic leadership is baffling.

Wikimedia NYC mismanaged the staff position that was supposed to do the Metrics & Reporting -- and in my mind provide paid administrative and organizational support to a chapter that has a critical need for all of these things. As I feared, the majority of her resource was co-opted by the Art+Feminism team (separately supported by a large WMF grant, which includes their own staff member). Her edits illustrate this clearly. But the culpability of the hiring committee and the leadership of the chapter in dealing with this new position does not seem to be adequately concerning to the WMF. I don't get it.

Wikimedia NYC needs a lot of help. Getting a $500/hour therapist to deal with the leadership is stunningly concerning. The problems are pretty basic. There is a lack of responsiveness by Richard aka Pharos, who has funneled control of all outreach. Since leaving the chapter I have had conversations with various past and current partners who have relayed shockingly problematic communication issues. While Art+Feminism and AfroCROWD are opportunistic in service their own agendas, the issue is really with the leadership of the chapter. And WMF is de facto endorsing that leadership with the extension of this grant. That is clear.

I am really disappointed with this soft-ball response by the committee. I had hoped for more of a focused response and concern about a chapter that was experiencing active growth, despite problems, and is now having massive problems. The committee and WMF needs to do more to address this, and if that means separating out AfroCROWD from the grant, and reducing and/or eliminating outreach funding for WM NYC until the leadership issues is addressed, I think this was a lost opportunity to do some critical management of the problems here.

-- Erika Herzog, former Secretary and Board Member aka BrillLyle (talk) 02:51, 3 July 2017 (UTC)

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Comments on the midpoint report[edit]

Many thanks to my NYC colleagues for this outstanding report and for taking some time to discuss it in detail with me yesterday. The more I reflect, the more I am impressed with the progress you have made over the past year, since I spent some time with you in NYC in March 2017. Not all of these achievements are reflected in the report, but I have seen a significant shift toward more effective governance and a better approach to staffing that will support the organization in the long term. Furthermore, I continue to be impressed with your chapter's commitment to values of equity and inclusion. I very much appreciated that you provided some updates about you strategy process in this report. While it is not a program activity, it is very useful to learn more about this.

Overall, I recognize the work the board and staff have done to incorporate past feedback about reports. I found this report rich in storytelling, with the right amount of detail. In particular, the section about the AfroCROWD program struck a great balance of having sufficient detail without overwhelming the reader with less relevant information. I can see how the slight increase in time for the AfroCROWD program manager position is benefiting and stabilizing your chapter, as you have shared with me that this section is largely Sherry's work. I really liked that you included quotes to show what real people had to say about participation in your programs. Along with the photographs included and linked to, these were very illustrative.

I see that WMUS-NYC is continuing to develop your strengths and also that there are some gaps that we will need to continue to address over the next 6 months. The call with you helped me to better understand how some of these gaps could be addressed, and so I will share some information about that here.

Starting with your strengths:

  • We see that your orientation and your approach is closely aligned with the concept of Knowledge Equity that we are working to define in light of the recently shared Strategic Direction. We see this is a value held dearly by your chapter, and it is expressed in work like AfroCROWD, your support of Asian Month, and your developing efforts in engaging with LGBTQ+-relevant content and organizations. Particularly, your commitment to continuing a discussion about how to better include oral knowledge in our knowledge ecosystem stands out through your AfroCROWD work including the partnership with the Columbia University Oral History Masters program in this area. I hope your chapter's voice continues to be very active in the discussions about how to define this concept of Knowledge Equity in our movement.
  • We see that your work on AfroCROWD is gaining more and more recognition from relevant communities and organizations, and that this recognition extends beyond the borders of the US. We recognize that this is foundational work that doesn't happen overnight. We appreciated the way you celebrated these achievements in your report.
  • We see you are continuing to engage an array of prestigious partners in your work, which is a strong argument for supporting an active and healthy chapter in New York City. Securing pro bono and in kind support continues to be a strength of the chapter; for example, engaging a pro bono consultant to help in the strategy process and the huge donations form the Ace Hotel to support Wikipedia Day every year.

And on to challenges:

  • How to measure and evaluate your work is a challenge that has been identified by your chapter for some time. In the past, you tried devoting a staff position to this task and this approach was unsuccessful. We know you are actively working to redefine your approach in this area. We don't feel that your current approach to metrics is adequately capturing the work that you are doing. For example, there could be multiple ways for your chapter to understand and measure the concept of "retention" that better reflect the ways your programs work. For now, you have stated that editor retention over 12 months is a main goal of your events, but it is not something that you reported on in the midpoint report. We suggest you give some thought to how you can present (even preliminary) results in areas like this where you have long term goals, to show the progress you are making.
  • We hope the strategy process will lead to more thinking in how you approach different types of events. We see that events are included in the "Meetups" program that appear to have very different goals. For example, some of your events may be more focused on content or more focused on retention. Some rely on partners or content donations while others do not. These may not all belong in the same program. In future plans, you may be able to more effectively differentiate between the different types of events you do and the reasons you do them, and then more effectively direct your efforts to achieving your goals and measuring progress.
  • You engage so many partners and conduct so many events. As a result, the depth of your various partnerships varies considerably. With some partners, you may organize one event per year. Others may involve a deeper ongoing engagement involving significant donations of staff time. It may be important to articulate the differences between these types of partnerships going forward, which is something you can consider as you are defining your strategy.

Once again, thank you for this report. I look forward to sharing your progress with the committee and our other colleagues!

Best, Winifred Olliff (WMF Program Officer) talk 19:06, 2 February 2018 (UTC)