Talk:NEH Reference materials grant application

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Initial thoughts on how we should approach this[edit]

Form of Grant Proposal[edit]

It seems to me we should apply for funding to establish several (5-10) specific WikiReaders relating to topics in the humanities, such as WikiReader Ancient Architecture, WikiReader 19th century art, ect. The money could be used to hire a part time coordinator for the project, who would determine what should go in such a reader, evaluate articles as they are written/expanded, ect. Additional funds would go to the hardware fund to make sure the servers can keep up with the demand placed on them by offering these new products. I'm sure other appropiate uses of funds can be found. Gentgeen 03:43, 29 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Why not just forget the Wikireaders apply the Wiki(p/m)edia project in general? Raul654 05:38, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)
The problem is in the wording of the grant description. The grant is to fund projects that promote the humanities and start no earlier than April, 2005. The Wiki(p/m)edia project is too old to recieve the money and is not specific to the humanities. However, WikiReaders require content from one or more of the Wikimedia projects, therefore supporting the growth of Wikimedia, such as new servers, can be considered a cost of the WikiReader Humaities Series projects. Of course, I'm open to other opinions. Gentgeen 06:00, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC) (see Gentgeen's comment below: this does not seem to apply).

For those who are interested, I've asked the NEH for sample grants from the past, and received those samples in an email today. If you'd like to have them, send me an email and I'll forward them to you. Below is a copy of the email they sent. Gentgeen 21:08, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Dear John Pozniak:
Thank you for your message concerning samples of successful applications for the division's funding category, Reference Materials Grants. Because the staff of the division is familiar with the Wikimedia Foundation, we went to the Wikimedia Foundation Web site. We surmise that the project that will be submitted to the July 15, 2004 deadline for Reference Materials Grants will be for an encyclopedia. Therefore, we are attaching to this message samples of successful applications to create both online and hardcopy encyclopedias.
Please respond by reply to this message that you have received the samples successfully. The samples are Microsoft Word documents.
It is too late to submit a draft of an application for review by a program officer. However, if you have any questions as you proceed with developing the application, please telephone the division at 202-606-8570 and ask to speak with a program officer.
A reminder, the application deadline for Reference Materials Grants is a receipt deadline of July 15, 2004. The Endowment is continuing to experience a delay in receiving mail delivered by the United States Postal Service because all mail is being shipped to an irradiating facility before being shipped to Washington, DC. Therefore, we are advising applicants to send their applications by one of the private, express-mail delivery services
Division of Preservation and Access
National Endowment for the Humanities
1100 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Room 411
Washington, DC 20506
phone: 202-606-8570
fax: 202-606-8639

International project or US project - Pros and Cons[edit]

Comment: Speaking as a US taxpayer, as much as I think this is something that the NEH should fund, I wonder if they took a brief look at us, found that we have a UK & a French citizens on our staff, & used that as an excuse to deny us funding (NEH grants are one purse a congresscritter draws money from for porkbarreling). Is it possible to somehow write the grant in order to emphasize out U.S. roots - at the risk of offending non-U.S. editors? (I assume many of whom, once it is explained that we are diverting dollars that might otherwise be used for purposes like military spending, would see the pragmatism & hold their tongues.) -- Llywrch 01:11, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Having British and French participation is a very good thing. Worth noting also that the wiki code was written by an international group (including Australian, German and French) and that the project is in the foyer of the UN now after winning an international prize. Trying to bury those things is not a good idea - that international recognition and character are vital parts of the project. Pitching as a US-hosted project which is achieving world recognition seems far more likely to be successful. Jamesday 00:31, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)

As much as I hate to say it, I agree with you on this. Anything that I have written so far has tended to highlight the American roots while reminding them that this is an international project that can be used to foster international cooperation. Danny 02:22, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

A pro-American appeal probably would appeal to them a little more. But if the wikipedia is not qualified, due to date constraints, what are the other options? Starting a new related project might be the solution, and that project could materially benefit all of wikimedia. If so what project would that be? The commons project seems like a good candidate, but its appeal is limited to operation within wikimedia fndn. Am I correct on this? -KuniShiro 06:19, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

After reading some of the sample sucessful grant application we've recieved from NEH, I now know that I mis-understood the wording about projects starting no earlier than April 2005. The New Georgia Encyclopedia project was started in 1998, but didn't apply for funding from the NEH until 2001, yet they did recieve the funds. Disregard my statement in the top section. Gentgeen 09:01, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Then, if the date doesn't matter, let's apply and emphasize that this is, first and foremost, an American project. It shouldn't matter if people from other countries help out on it any more than it should matter that people from other countries might read it. It's a legitimate American project (it was created by Americans and is entirely hosted on American servers) that receives private funding and contributions from people all over the world. Wouldn't any other American-created online humanities website also be available for people of any nationality to read for free? So, how is this any different? It shouldn't be. 22:54, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

As I said above, this is a problem, but not an insurmountable one: we just need to be smart about this process, & remember that failure this year does not mean we can't come back next year -- especially if we get some feedback. Some strategies that could be employed include:
  • Reminding the NEH that Wikipedia is promoting Americna culture, noting the existence of 70,000 articles on US communities. (And maybe this fact could be used as a way to allow the release of similar data from other countries -- I can't imagine that there is any proprietary value to the number of inhabitants in, say, Little Whinging, U.K.)
  • Researching & determining exactly which parts of the Wikipedia budget would be most welcome to the NEH.
  • And if necessary, make Jimbo the contact point of this application. Last I checked, he was a US citizen. -- Llywrch 21:56, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
This is not first and foremost a US project. It is first and foremost an international project, most notably the English language version, which has participants from English language speakers in many countries. Trying to cast it as a US project is discarding one of the greatest strengths of the project. It also sounds as though it would be a deceptive grant application and that's extremely unwise. Jamesday 00:31, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)

What is going on here? Is the grant application being written on this Wiki, or are people writing bits in private? If the former, things aren't moving very fast... -- Anon

Second thoughts[edit]

Why this application should be put on hold[edit]

Although Wikipedians have been exhorted to contribute to the application, the response has been uncharacteristically circumscribed and inefficient. However, this is only to be expected due to the mismatch between what the proposed funding delivers and what Wikipedians need. There are four reasons to hesitate before completing this application.

Need to maintain political freedom[edit]

Funding from any government sources invariably comes with political strings attached. The need to indicate benefit to national taxpayers introduces a bias to the project which endangers its independence and credibility. Wikipedia should only seek government support as a last resort – and then on a multinational basis. In my view, the United Nations, from which Wikipedia has received formal recognition, is in principle the organisation from which Wikipedia should seek support. In the meantime, only no-strings funding should be accepted. To this end, private contributions and donations from progressive and flexible charitable trusts or foundations are the way forward.

Disagree hugely.
1. You seem to paint the UN as an altruistic, NPOV organization. It's not. It's as political as NEH. It's not really multinational in things like this, either. It's its own little bureaucracy with a thin multinational veneer.
2. Those "progressive, charitable trusts" also come with many, many strings attached. At least with NEH we know the strings and can anticipate them.
3. WP is multinational, but also very American. Furthermore, using bias as a reason means we can't take money from ANY organization.

-- 18:13, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Only seek essential financial needs[edit]

The generous donation of software, hardware and bandwidth from a number of public-spirited individuals has enabled Wikipedia to get off the ground. The point has been reached where demand for access clearly outstrips supply. In order to bring about “information access for all” it is necessary to supplement the existing facilities. It is possible to envisage €1m being invested in a robust and responsive infrastructure to keep the project viable for another three years or so. Any expenditure beyond this does not fit into the category of “essential for survival”.

Not sure if anyone noticed.. but from the NEH site, under "Cost Sharing" it says Normally NEH support will not exceed 67% of a project's total eligible costs. I really doubt they'll give us $500K. Perhaps we should ask for a more reasonable amount. Schmiddy 18:19, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Maintain corporate strategy of open source content[edit]

To seek funding just because it is available is poor corporate strategy. It pushes Wikipedia in a direction dictated by the funder. Whilst there may be merit in having Wikireaders on the humanities, it is a significant step to prioritise this project over and above so many others which have until now carried much more attention e.g. Wikibooks. The concept of Wikireaders is as yet undeveloped and indeed runs contrary to the attraction of Wikipedia in being open source. Surely it is premature to introduce paid expert editors without considering the impact on the project as whole in respect of the co-existence of paid and unpaid editors. What happens if the unpaid editors are better than the paid editors? Will there be a choice of content – the Official Version and the Voluntary Version? Who selects the editors? These issues inevitably arise once financial rewards are included within Wikipedia.

Lack of project management[edit]

Wikipedia by its very nature is a distributed system and does not lend itself to conventional project management. Most funding organisations require named individual(s) to be responsible for any bid. There are at present no mechanisms within Wikipedia to select a manager for a major content project or to control the donated funds subsequently. Just placing the name of the estimable Jimbo Wales in an application is not the same his taking personal responsibility for what is claimed in the application. Any subsequent legal challenge to Wikipedia / Wikipedia Foundation for the mismanagement of funds would be potentially crippling to the overall project.

Only when the above points have been properly addressed would it be suitable to resubmit an application.

John Foley 11:19, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Recap this weekend[edit]

I hope people who were interested in this grant can find a good time to gather on this page and an IRC channel this weekend to recap how coordination of materials and related discussions went, and to discuss what worked and what didn't in the application process. +sj+ 05:56, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Assuming the recap hasn't happened yet; how about this week? +sj+ 01:07, 21 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I assume the application wasn't sent? It would be appropriate with summery of the attempt somewhere prominent on both the grant page and this talk page. Thue 16:01, 19 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, I'd like to know what became of this grant as well, especially with Wikimedia apparently in serious need of money once again. Schmiddy 05:00, 20 Jul 2004 (UTC)