Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2015-16

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See also: Discussion of the first draft of the plan.

Questions and comments from Pine[edit]

Positive comments[edit]

  • I'm pleased to see the start of an endowment
  • I like the quarterly goals format.
  • I like the positive tone of the document. --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
Should Endowment be linked somewhere?--Qgil-WMF (talk) 11:28, 3 July 2015 (UTC)
The endowment has not been formally approved, so no links on that project are currently available.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 23:51, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Easy requests[edit]

  • Please explain "In 2016, we must declare for our future". What does this mean? --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)


  • This year's Grants budget is a combined $6.3M. If FDC allocates $6M, that leaves $0.3M for IEG, PEG, and TPS. I thought that PEG alone was budgeted at $1M last year. For the sake of comparison, here's the table from last year's Annual Plan. Can you please create a new table with these line items and provide more direct comparisons to last year's expenses? I am particularly interested in the difference between the $6.3M total for grants this year and last year's $8.95M total. Even if there is an additional $1.4M this year that's allocated for the two payment processing chapters, this still leaves a total of only $7.7M; adding $0.5M for Brazil gets the total to $8.2m which is still less than last year's $8.95m. Please explain the difference and provide a chart that compares this year's expenditures per program to last year's.
FDC Grants
Individual Engagement Grants
Wikimania Scholarships
Partnership and Alliance Grants
Program and Event Grants

--Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

FDC: $4,500,000
IEG: $450,000
PEG: $900,000
Wikimania Scholarships: $400,000
Participation Support: $50,000
Total: $6,300,000
Wikimania is not included in the $6,300,000 and should be removed from your chart. Also you have included the the amount the FDC can award in you chart, not the cash budget for the FDC which is less due to the WMDE and WMCH not needing a cash grant, as they deduct it from the payment processing proceeds. Also, the partnerships and alliance grant line item is no longer budgeted as the grant to the NGO in Brazil has ended.GByrd (WMF) (talk) 21:03, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
Budget Comparisons
2014-2015 2015-2016
FDC cash Grants excluding WMDE and WMCH $4,500,000 FDC cash Grants excluding WMDE and WMCH $4,500,000
Individual Engagement Grants $450,000 Individual Engagement Grants $450,000
Wikimania Scholarships $200,000 Wikimania Scholarships $400,000
Wikimania (removed) Wikimania (removed)
Partnership and Alliance Grants $650,000 Partnership and Alliance Grants $0
Program and Event Grants $1,000,000 Program and Event Grants $900,000
Travel & Participation Support $50,000 Travel & Participation Support $50,000
Total $6,850,000 Total $6,300,000
GByrd (WMF) is the above correct? Thanks, --Pine 21:50, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 22:49, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Some clarifications for the chart. I have update Individual Engagement Grants to $450K for FY 14-15, as the $500K number included Travel and Participation Support. One item not noted in your chart is the $200,000 for Wikicon and other community events that was part of PEG and is now budgeted separately.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 15:46, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What contributor population growth major initiatives will happen this fiscal year? I get the impression that WMF is interested in improving its support for the editing experience on mobile web and mobile apps. Please confirm that WMF will make significant resource investments this year in mobile web editing and mobile app editing, and share more specifics about growth initiatives in general. --Pine 16:42, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
  • On the Community Engagement side, we're going to focus on a few distinct aspects of this problem, with the understanding that it is a long-term problem with (primarily) long-term solutions. For emerging communities, our Community Capacity Development Framework work will help growth in community capacity and (eventually) community growth. In larger communities, our focus will two-fold: continuing and enhancing our work on community trust and safety, including respect/civility, to improve retention of new and existing editors; and supporting targeted grants programs like the Inspire project to encourage new, community-led innovation on this problem. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 00:10, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What new initiatives are planned to support user groups and small chapters, particularly the small affiliates that lack staff to handle grantmaking, legal, accounting, and evaluation tasks (which leads to those administrative tasks being placed on volunteers)? --Pine 16:42, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The previously mentioned Community Capacity Development Framework will address key capacity-building issues, and as always we'll be looking to streamline processes and bureaucracy where possible and appropriate. That said, when you choose to organize a user group or small chapter, you are volunteering to take on certain administrative tasks - that's the nature of volunteerism in a globally decentralized movement. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 00:23, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What growth initiatives are planned to increase the number and impact of user groups and other small affiliates? --Pine 16:42, 5 July 2015 (UTC)
  • None are planned. They should continue growing organically, as they have been, in response to local needs and desires rather than any centralized push from WMF. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 00:23, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi Luis Villa (WMF) I'm a bit confused. Are you saying that WMF plans to invest no resources into increasing the impact of user groups, and instead focus all attention and resources for affiliates on supporting and growing the existing chapters and thematic org? --Pine 21:56, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Garfield said in response to a question about the draft plan that, "Additional information will be provided on the goals and how the new hires will impact those goals." Perhaps I'm overlooking this information. Where is the documentation about each position and how each relates to the broader strategic plan? --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
This information was not included as staffing request are being evaluated and some are being cancelled and the funding allocated to other budget line items or the position is changing due to the needs of the team or department. So we will not be able to provide this information.GByrd (WMF) (talk) 21:03, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
The cited assurance came in two parts: (1) Additional information will be provided on the goals and (2) Additional information will be provided on ... how the new hires will impact those goals. If, as it seems, you are unable to fulfill part (2), surely you will still deliver on part (1)? Can it really be the case that you "will not be able to provide" information on the goals? If so, that is a very sorry state of affairs. (Oh, and it is conventional to apologise when refusing to deliver on an assurance in this way.) Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:20, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
The goals information and our progress against those goals will be provided quarterly as highlighted in the "Plan Metrics" section of the final annual plan document. As for the staffing information, when agreement was reached, internally and with members of the Board of Trustees, that our annual plan will be a living document and evolving based on the needs of the organization and the community, this language was deleted from the final annual plan document. As with anything marked "Draft" this is not a "cited assurance".GByrd (WMF) (talk) 21:40, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
I withdraw my comment about "assurances" then, and regret that those assurances should have been withdrawn: this seems a retrograde step with respect to transparency Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:33, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm having difficulty following the above conversation. GByrd (WMF) the approved draft of the plan includes the following hires:
  • "(i) Engineering - 5 Engineers, 2 Engineering Managers, 1 Data Center Tech, 1 UX Designer, 1 Data Analyst, 1 Head of Infrastructure, 1 Chief Privacy Officer.
  • "(ii) Community Engagement - 1 Community Organizer, 1 Survey Specialist, 1 Community Advocate, 1 Wikipedia Library Coordinator, 1 Community Liaison.
  • "(iii) Advancement - 1 Endowment Director, 1 Partnership Manager, 1 Fundraising Email Manager, 1 Designer, 1 Fundraising Research Associate, 1 Development Outreach Manager.
  • "(iv) Legal - 1 Attorney, 1 Legal Administrative Assistant, 1 Public Policy Specialist.
  • "(v) HR/Finance/Administration/Office Information Technology - 2 Help Desk, 1 HR Analyst, 1 Recruiter, 1 Development Coach, 1 Financial/Budget Analyst, 1 Purchasing Specialist.
  • "(vi) Communications - 2 Product Marketing Managers, 1 Communications Associate, 1 Advocacy Associate, 1 Social Media Manager, 1 Community Content Manager, 1 Internal Communications Manager."
Where can we find information about the job descriptions for new hires and how they relate to the larger annual plan? Without that information, it's very difficult to evaluate whether these positions are good investments. --Pine 21:59, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What are the plans for curating IdeaLab and the Learning Patterns Library, and what are the quantitative goals for those resources? --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
  • The general plan is to continue investing in both of those as part of our investment in Community Engagement. More detailed goals will be shared as part of the regular quarterly goals process. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 00:36, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
Please amplify your response by telling us where, when and how those goals will be shared. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:46, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
We share our quarterly goals at the end of each quarter as part of our quarterly reviews, and have recently switched to a new process based on the Objectives and Key Results model - you'll see the first significant results of that in the decks being published in the next week or so.—Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 03:44, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Question regarding "Currently unfunded/underfunded projects: ​Experimentation with new initiatives (pending budget rebalancing and/or 6 month budget update as per WMF guidance)." Does this mean that there will be no Inspire-like campaign in 15-16 unless there are budget modifications at the Annual Plan midpoint? --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
This funding was for projects outside of the grant process, so there will be no additional funding for new initiatives beyond what is funded in the grants budget and existing budgets.GByrd (WMF) (talk) 21:13, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Please explain why the Chief Privacy Officer is under Engineering instead of Legal. --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Securing the privacy of Wikimedia users requires technical solutions in addition to legal or public policy approaches. HTTPS, which involved collaboration between Engineering and Legal, is a great example of this. The Chief Privacy Officer needs to have technical expertise to implement the engineering portions of privacy and security strategies developed in partnership with Legal. This person will work closely with Legal to align technological solutions with broader policy goals. --Jbarbara (WMF) (talk) 15:51, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • So this is really more of a Chief Security Officer or Information Assurance Manager type position than Privacy it sounds like. Reguyla (talk) 20:40, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Please explain the 15% budget increase for Management and Governance. --Pine 23:26, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
The 15% increase is based on projected expenditures to requested budget. The 15% increase is a result of a projected underspend in FY 2014-15 and a budgeted increase in for this annual plan due to the moving of staff cost from the Administrative budget to the Management and Governance budget. Resulting in an increase of 1 FTE plus some additional expenditures like a travel budget for both Wikimania's for both the ED and the Board.
This is the result of adding staffing and the COO position and offsetting this cost with cuts in other budget line items.GByrd (WMF) (talk) 21:03, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
So why are the extra staff needed? Is the work getting harder? Or is there more of it? Or has the remit of the department extended? Or have current staff been rebadged in to it? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:20, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
The extra staff is needed, as there is more work to do. For example, we have a growing staff and need more IT support for help desk and large video meetings, some of which community members can attend virtually. One of the other positions is to do financial analysis to help track and measure the cost of our work.GByrd (WMF) (talk) 23:15, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi GByrd (WMF), last year there were two staff budgeted under the Management and Governance category, and this year there are also two staff. So I am confused about the 15% increase in cost if the number of staff is remaining the same. Can you clarify? --Pine 22:04, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Anti-harassment and safe space initiatives are not listed. Does this mean that Community Advocacy and Legal will not work on these issues this year? If not, why? If yes, I hope that these can be amended into the plan as strategic priorities. --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I think you may misunderstand the level of detail present in this plan, Pine. :) The CE department does literally dozens of things (and perhaps hundreds - we're counting right now!), so we can't list them all in the annual plan. We certainly plan to continue investing in both of those areas, and anti-harassment in particular is called out in community advocacy's Q1 goals. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 00:36, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
Do you propose to publish this list anywhere? If so, where when and how, please. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:46, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I have considered it (and in fact by coincidence I discussed it briefly with part of the department today) but I must admit that the prospect of having the department's priorities micro-critiqued on-wiki is unappealing. Do you have suggestions on how we could share such information (or some subset of it) in a way that would lead primarily to constructive outcomes? —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 03:46, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
And having finally eaten dinner with my wife, let me elaborate on that a bit, since I realize it could potentially be taken poorly. My experience - across a variety of roles in a variety of open organizations - is that public discussion about planning, strategy, and execution is most constructive when it stays at a high level and creates a shared understanding which the people actually doing the work can then use to inform but not micro-guide their daily work. For example, it was very useful for the legal department to have a public discussion about paid editing last year, and the resulting deeper understanding of the issues and values involved has informed all the work the department has done on the issue since then. But it would not have been very useful to have public discussions about the details of the legal strategy we then used to pursue the issue. Similarly, I'd like to get feedback at a constructive level about our overall community strategy - I think that would be useful and likely uncover angles we're not seeing yet, and what we learn will help us do the day-to-day (or quarter-to-quarter) prioritization that we'll use to execute on the strategy. But my experience tells me that once we start getting into the more detailed stuff, the energy absorbed into the conversation quickly begins to outweigh the benefits gained.
I'm open to persuasion and suggestions, of course, and I have thoughts about how to shift costs in a variety of ways - for example, Rogol, I've found you firm but polite in your criticisms; if we held people to a high behavioral standard like that, less time would be wasted and the mental impact on staff (who care deeply about these issues) would be reduced. We could also, in at least some contexts, do more education before conversations; for example, it might be useful to preface the release of our quarterly reviews with better background information on OKRs, or develop shared understanding around software development best practices similar to those used by the UK's Digital Service. But the amount of time and information that would need to be shared to make some of these fine-grained conversations workable is very high.—Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 04:57, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
Do you realise how patronising this sounds? A few favoured members of the community are deemed to have risen to a level worthy of your attention, but the rest of us, the mere riff-raff, can only be admitted to your secret conclaves after we have been sufficiently educated. Otherwise, your staff might be made unhappy by having to cope with discussions with the unwashed masses. Did it never occur to you to select staff for Community Engagement who are able to engage openly and constructively with the community rather than responding by sulking or patronising? That a frank open and civilised discussion with the community is fully capable, in the right hands, of generating useful dialogue that would make the work of the staff more productive? That the people "actually doing the work" are overwhelmingly the volunteers as well as the paid staff? That the purpose of your staff engaging with the community is to listen to and learn from them as well as to inform and instruct them in their volunteer work? Apparently not: no wonder your experience has been so dire. It seems that you regard as entirely optional the Wikimedia Foundation Guiding Principles that "our policies and practices are publicly available on our site", "we aim to publish internal organizational policies and procedures", "we aim to do much of our work in public, rather than in private" and "The Wikimedia Foundation wants to be accountable to the people who create the Wikimedia projects". You're right on one thing -- that could indeed "be taken poorly". 21:30, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I look at this a few ways:
  1. It's important that documentation and decisions generally be transparent and accessible. Transparency tends to make for better governance.
  2. It's important to engage the community in high priority decision-making processes, like the annual plan, with plenty of time for plan adjustments or cancellations based on that input. That didn't happen with the WMF Annual Plan this year, and there seems to be consensus inside and outside of WMF that this year's process was far from optimal.
  3. Micro-management of everyday decision making in every organization has the effects of slowing processes down, causing lots of resource expenditures on communication and documentation, and occupying lots of staff time and attention. So there needs to be a balance between transparency and efficiency.
  4. One of the most valuable commodities that an organization can have is trust. Given WMF's history including this year's Annual Plan process, that trust in WMF governance is rather low. Among other costs of this is are demands from the public for more transparency and involvement in decision-making.
  5. I would be interested in hearing Luis' comments about how to improve transparency at WMF and the trust level that the community has of WMF governance.
  6. Returning back to my original point, it seems to me that the anti-harassment initiative is important enough that if it's going to get serious attention this year, then it should be documented as such in the Annual Plan.
Thanks, --Pine 22:18, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
The assumptions that open publication of plans equates to micro-management of WMF staff by the community deserves challenge. A mature discussion based on trust, with lines of responsibility well publicised and well understood need not end in micro-management, whether it be a discussion between a staff member and a line manager or a staff team and the volunteer community. Staff members need to be empowered to take decisions and then be accountable for the consequences: to be equally frank about the reasons for their actions before the event and the results afterwards. Absence of those clear lines of responsibility and accountability is one of the causes of poor decision making and poor communication. It seems unfortunately that knowing the remit and responsibilities of the various teams is one of the things that the lumpenproletariat are not to be trusted with. 06:32, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  • WMF is constantly tinkering with their org chart, and I have the impression that Lila and her COO are trying to align their staff members' job descriptions more closely with Lila's overall goals. I agree that there could be better documentation of this, and you'll note that I'm continuing to say that job descriptions for the new hires and how those descriptions link to the larger plan should be published in connection with this annual plan. So, to a degree, I agree with you. --Pine 20:23, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
@LuisV (WMF): I am going to pass on the invitation to offer suggestions on how we could share such information (or some subset of it) in a way that would lead primarily to constructive outcomes for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have to say the question is somewhat disingenuous. It must surely be the case that you and your team have considerable experience and expertise in this area already, and I will be so blunt as to remind you that it is your paid day job: it is inconceivable to me that you do not already know how to manage this if you want to. Suddenly asking for detailed suggestions from a community that you have consciously decided to exclude from your decision-making process so far, would simply turn into a diversionary exercise whereby we try to solve your problem and you and your staff criticise our proposals -- that is one of the reasons the Community Engagement (Product)/Process ideas project failed. What the community can do is to articulate requirements, not solutions: I believe one of those requirements is a single, well-advertised, widely-accessible, well-maintained, well-monitored portal where a constructive moderated discussion will take place and a nominated member of WMF staff taking ownership of each issue and reporting back to the community. Strangely enough, the ED agrees with me [1]. Is that possible, do you think? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 10:33, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What is happening with features development this year? --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Hi Dan Garry, Wikimedia Foundation. My recollection from when I reviewed the WMF plan (it's been awhile) is that there wasn't an overview of what new significant features, or what significant changes to features, are planned for this year. For example, I would hope to see something like, "VisualEditor will be fully functioning on the mobile interface for phone-sized devices by the end of Q2". Is there a list of new features and significant planned feature changes that is available for publication? --Pine 21:27, 5 August 2015 (UTC)
  • More specifically, what is happening with Flow this year? --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
You might like to know that the Executive Director said on the 25th, in response to a direct question, This has been a long and difficult investigation. We have given an update at Wikimania and I will ask our Director of the Editing team to respond here as well. [2] Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:42, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Are UX updates planned this year, for example modernized skins for the desktop interface? --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What major updates are planned for multimedia this year? --Pine 23:15, 2 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What improvements are planned for mapping and geolocation features this year? --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for your work on this. --Pine 23:13, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

Re: pursuing enforcement actions against infringers in a user-centered way[edit]

So there will finally be action on w:it:Wikipedia:Sondaggi/Recupero_domini_a_nome_Wikipedia (English summary)? --Nemo 06:36, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

Fundraising goal - it goes all the way to 11[edit]

I was interested to read the line "Stretch goal to exceed fundraising target by 20%".
Now that WMF-Fundraising have been told they can raise this extra amount, what criteria would the fundraising team use to decide if they should or shouldn't? Given that WMF-Fundraising has never failed to reach its target in the past, and in recent years has been able to do so with apparent ease, what is the difference between having a 'goal' and a 'stretch goal'? Isn't it just a upwards redefinition of what 100% means, with an extra 20% built-in that doesn't have a budget allocation because it's "stretch"? I'm reminded of the great scene from Spinal Tap where the band's amps "go all the way to 11", rather than just making "10" louder:

If I'm not mistaken the concept of allowing for fundraising-above-the-published-target was also used in the 2014-15 fundraiser - on the basis that it wasn't known if mobile fundraising would be effective [they did indeed raise that higher target faster than expected] - but what is the reasoning/criteria for this year's extra fundraising allowance? Wittylama (talk) 12:15, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

The fundraising team is facing a real challenge in raising a higher budget this year. Not only are we facing a decline in desktop traffic as mobile traffic increases, we are also facing an decline in overall traffic. In past years, we were fortunate enough to have increasing readership numbers to help raise higher budgets. This year, we must raise a higher budget with lower traffic.
At the April 2015 metrics meeting, we showed that by December 2015 the US desktop pageviews are projected to be down ~25% and that overall pageviews are projected to be down ~5%. We know that more banner impressions lead to more donations. We also know that people are more likely to donate on a desktop banner than a mobile banner. Both fewer pageviews and the shift to mobile readership, present a real challenge for our ability to fundraise.
It will be difficult to raise the budget this year, let alone an additional stretch goal. We must find improvements from last year just to raise the budget. We feel positive we can do this. As in past years, we will regularly monitor our fundraising and communicate with Lila, the board, and the community about making any changes to the target. MeganHernandez (WMF) (talk) 21:20, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
The new challenge of effective fundraising on mobile was the given reason for the 20% extra at the last fundraiser. If I'm not mistaken, that goal was reached faster than expected, plus the 20% extra (and then some more too?). This year will be a continuation of that mobile-centric trend (as you identify) but that's why you had last year to test out new approaches - apparently with great success.
But a budget doesn't (shouldn't?) get made with a requested total (with specific allocations for what that money will be spent on), and then add an extra 20% with no specific allocation (just to 'increase the reserve'). Based on a fundraising goal of $68.2million the 20% extra represents $13.6million - hidden in an innocuous description called "stretch goal". Having a budget total, and then putting 20% of it in a footnote, is just a way to make the total budget of the organisation look smaller than it really is.
If the WMF believes the fundraising target should be 20% larger than the officially stated goal, it should just set that amount as the formal target - and make appropriate justifications/explanations for it in the annual plan. If you believe that this extra 20% will be particularly difficult to obtain, then the annual plan should make allowances for what will be cut if that goal isn't reached. Ultimately this approach would have the same numbers as the current annual pan. However: 1) The formal budget total would represent the full amount that is intended to be raised, and 2) all the money would be given a formal allocation rather than having an extra $13 million "off the books", in a footnote.
Imagine if a payment-processing chapter said "we want to have x amount, and then we'll also raise x+20% 'for the reserve fund' "? There's no way that the WMF would accept that. Instead, if that Chapter said "we want to have a reserve fund as part of y amount total budget", then that becomes an honest conversation. Wittylama (talk) 11:09, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
What we raise and what we spend are two different items. We must raise the $65 million that we have in our annual plan. Any excess above that amount is for the reserve unless the Board gives us permission to allocate it to other projects. So currently we do have a formal allocation, $65 million for spending and anything above that for the reserve, based on the current plan. WMF does not set budgets for payment processing chapters. That is done by the FDC as part of the Annual Plan process. The Wikimedia Foundation staff provides information to the FDC, but their final recommendations to the Board of Trustees are done as a independent peer review process. All chapters requesting annual plan grants are able to raise reserves independent of the annual plan grant process, the only limits are on how much of an annual plan grant can be applied to their reserves.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 23:49, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
  • How do the fundraising targets interact with the WMF's 501(h) election? What sums are permissible for lobbying under the various scenarios, and how much of that is projected to be spent on lobbying and political campaigning? 21:21, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
There is no relationship between fundraising targets and the 501(h) election. Under 501(h), given the size of our expenditures, WMF has set a limit of $1,000,000 on lobbying and $250,000 on "Grass Roots" lobbying. There is currently no lobbying plan in place for the Wikimedia Foundation and political campaigning is prohibited.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 22:59, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. Could you say what the costs to WMF of the litigation against the NSA and DOJ (the ACLU case) were in 2014-2015 and what the budget is for that in 2015-16, please, both in terms of direct expenditure and estimated staff time? Do you not consider any part of that litigation or your publicity around it to be a political activity? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:59, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
As this lawsuit is in progress, I will have to decline to share cost of litigation information for the NSA lawsuit. The NSA lawsuit, according to IRS regulations,is not considered political activity and that is the definition we use for defining political activity.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 00:03, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
I see. If you are able to, please confirm that there have been, and will continue to be, costs to the WMF, both direct and indirect? Please also confirm that those costs will be published as soon as possible after the lawsuit is concluded. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 11:20, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, there have been and will be direct and indirect cost related to this lawsuit. I cannot, confirm at this time, if a full report of cost on the NSA lawsuit will be published as soon as possible after the lawsuit is concluded. Once the lawsuit is concluded, it can be determined if a full report on cost can be released.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 15:21, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
So the WMF has embarked on a course of action the costs of which will not now be divulged to the donors, and which may never be revealed. Can you confirm that a limit on the future expenditure on this action exists, even if you are not prepared to say what it is? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:39, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
WMF has embarked on a course of action, which is being monitored by the Board of Trustees and for which a decision has not been made. if a report disclosing the cost of the lawsuit will be issued. As we are in the middle of a lawsuit, I am not able to discuss what funding is available in a public form, but as I said, it is being monitored by the Board of Trustees.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 16:15, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for that. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:44, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

Key quality metrics[edit]

In "Implement usability improvements to increase key quality metrics for Search and Discovery, Reading, Editing, and Community" what are the usability improvements and key quality metrics for "Community"? Is this the same as the mythical "Community Tech"? Didcot power station (talk) 19:27, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

It's equally mythical, in the sense that both are being worked on and neither can spring perfectly formed into the world all at once :)
On quality metrics for community: we're looking at basic metrics that can help us understand the state of the community, like editor retention. This is not going to be easy, for many reasons. For example, given the complexity of any community, metrics that directly, clearly link inputs to outputs are basically impossible: the best we can do (usually) is find things that hint at deeper underlying causes, and make sure that we're matching our metrics with deep qualitative understanding of what's really going on behind the scenes. (It's also hard to import statistics from other communities, sometimes because we're different; sometimes because our software is different (cough ::::: cough)).
Our current goal is to have the first (very simple!) round of these in our next public quarterly review decks. In the meantime, I'd of course welcome suggestions as to what good community health metrics might look like.
On Community Tech: We continue to work on this; putting together a team, strategy, and budget is not an overnight thing. I regret it has taken as long as it has, of course, and we probably should have learned our lesson by now about raising any expectations without a plan to follow through immediately. We're taking our lumps, yet again, and will be back post-Wikimania with more details. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 21:53, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
That is exactly the opposite reaction to what I would have hoped. What you should have had when you announced the project and raised those expectations is a clear plan for executing the project (including the strategy, scope and budget), a clear line of responsibility for its delivery, a clear set of communications during the execution, and a person accountable for those communications. Were any of those in place initially? Are any in place now?
Instead you seem to advocate keeping projects hidden until you spring them on the community. Has that ever gone down well? Is it because you assume the community can have nothing to contribute during the planning and execution stage? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 17:17, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

A gentle reminder[edit]

There are several issues that were raised on Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2015-16/draft and never addressed. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:04, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

"Risk: Community leadership does not develop effectively, damaging community participation, governance, and responsiveness" BT;DT – and how to fix it[edit]

This is not a risk, it's a reality. Wikipedia's adminship system is a dismal failure (on en.wp, anyway). Hardly anyone wants to be an admin any more, the community sorely abuses most applicants (unless they are near-noobs who've never ruffled a single feather, but don't really know what they're doing), experienced admins are leaving, and a good ol' boys' club of ancient admins with a wiki-aristocracy mindset are increasingly in control. Administrative backlogs are piling up, with basic maintenance (see the CfD backlog for example) lagging months behind. Well-meaning admins shy away from anything that smacks of controversy out of fears that they'll make hounding enemies that the community and the arbitration system will never really do anything about. Meanwhile a few admins who revel in playing cop do nothing useful, but spend all their time in dramaboards looking for people to block and ban. Add to this the fact that external special interests (government of Pakistan, etc., etc.) are planting "long game" CIVILPOV editors who become admins and then help gradually warp content to suit external agendas by favoring the desired side in disputes, and you have an overall recipe for very predictable, very obvious disaster.

The Arbitration Committee, while several changes in membership and attitude have eased some of the community's distrust of and scorn for it, is a legalistic morass more interested in nit-picky proceduralism, despite WP:NOT#BUREAUCRACY, and no one ever goes there unless they're desperate or stupid. Their WP:AE "enforcement" corps (they actually named it that? with a straight face?) and its "discretionary sanctions" (read: admins just punish whoever they like any way they like on no grounds other than what the topic is) is a Judge Dredd "I am the law!" farce, and almost entirely unaccountable, because neither the admin pool nor ArbCom will ever contradict what another member of "the brotherhood" does unless the abuse is so glaring the community will not let them get away with ignoring it.

The Mediation Committee is useless and toothless. Virtually no one ever uses it (other than to perpetuate a fight and refuse to abide by the mediation). It should either be shut down, or given ArbCom-level authority to require compliance (and be able to take cases that are internal as well as content-based). A guard dog with no teeth and no voice is just a pet.

The other dispute resolution systems are hidebound in their refuse to ever address anything but article content disputes, so the worst and most disruptive behavior problems on WP, not to mention the long term sneaky abuse one like special interests trying to shift WP policy, ever get addressed.

Bureaucrats (they actually named them that? with a straight face?) basically have nothing left to do, and no one cares to be one or vote for them any longer.

Wikiprojects are increasingly owned effectively by whoever is the most charismatic + tendentious, and they are increasingly trying to behave like independent sovereign entities, WP:LOCALCONSENSUS policy be damned.

What other "leadership" is there on Wikipedia? We have some people who help shape opinion by writing Signpost articles; others who seek to polish content in the Good Article and Featured Article nomination and review processes; others who watchlist and shepherd our policies and guidelines on the alert for innocuous-looking but ill-conceived alterations; people who actually go to real-world wikiconferences, editathons and other WP/WMF focused meetings to network, plan, and get stuff done; a shrinking pool of serious, overworked admins trying to do the right thing; and a large stockpile of competent, long-term, community- and project-focused editors, most of whom would not touch adminship with a ten-foot (approx. metre-long) pole.

It's become painfully clear over the last decade that virtually no one is satisfied with the current adminship system, and that most of them even agree on what the problems are and how to fix them, in the abstract, but that nothing will be done internally by the community to fix it. Every single reform proposal of any kind is stillborn for three primary reasons:

  • Good Ol' Boys' Club admins will not tolerate a threat to their elite "first class citizen" power.
  • Just plain good admins sometimes seem to just feel that it is the way it is, and if they had to through a world of shit to become an admin, everyone else should, too.
  • The community at large are terrified that any change will just make things worse no matter how bad things are.

The last of these is the important one, since changing it or working around it will make the other two irrelevant, because the entire existing admin pool would be vastly outvoted. A decade has proven, however, that the community fears cannot be assuaged. It's genuinely pathological: The worse the situation gets, the worse the anxiety about and resistance to reform gets.

It's already proven remarkably successful to unbundle various admin "bits", like template-editor (a bit upon which much of my best WP work depends). This points the way.

The solution is obviously for WMF to take the same approach it took with ArbCom: Require the community to come up with a reformed administration system, by a specific date (give it 1 year, no more) or be subject to one being imposed on them. Further, require that the solution have some requisite features. I'm not sure what all of them should be, but the obvious ones are the following:

  • All admin permissions/authorities will be unbundled that do not require admin-level trust (some do, of course, like blocking, issuing topic bans, access to deleted pages, and other serious matters). All other bits should be able to be applied for like template-editor, most importantly:
    • Ability to delete pages, only for maintenance purposes, e.g. deleting redirects for moves to clear out the RM backlog, deleting emptied categories to clean up after the CfD backlog, and deleting pages with expired PRODs, but not for CSD reasons, which requires admin trust level) Other uses of the bit would be limited to admins, just like closing contentious RfCs cannot be done by non-admin closure. I.e., We stop confusing access to a tool for every imaginable kind of permission to use it.
    • Whatever else it takes for any competent user in good standing to be able to perform work that needs to be done and isn't debatable. If it's subject to a backlog because the matter has already been decided it should never require an admin to do it.
  • Adminship will be based on competence and good standing, not popularity, nor subjective considerations. Essentially, the same reasoning that is applied to whether an editors' input is constructive in mainspace will be applied in spirit to whether they'll be permitted access to admin tools.
  • Because competence requires the ability to function well in a collaborative system (both in a Don't be a dick sense and in the WP:ENC vs. WP:NOTHERE sense, behavioral concerns are valid. However, the entire culture of RfA will be rebooted, on a w:en:WP:ASPERSIONS basis: Any claims of wrongdoing must be backed by diffs, that a reasonable person would find actually evidentiary, or the accuser may be sanctioned.
  • Determination of success by Bureaucrats will be less tied to the head-count vote, and determined primarily the same way we judge all other consensuses: By weighing the actual merits of the arguments provided, and especially discounting poorly-supported venom spewed by individual who have a personality-based dispute with the candidate.
  • Candidates may request (and be held to) access to only specific tools, or the community permission to some of them only for certain purposes, on a probationary basis. A large part of the current problem is that all tools are bundled together in a carte blanche what that the community feels requires an excessive amount of trust. The system must permit anyone capable of being a good admin in certain areas or ways to become one.
  • The goal should be that most regularly active editors with around 18 months under their belts and no obvious mental problems should practically automatically become admins, and that great participants can do so sooner with more ease. The model would be that of the free software community: If your code is good, and you know what you're doing, you get commit permission.

The results of this reform would be:

  • No more admin backlogs.
  • No ability of "cabals" of admins, either 2007 ones who feel "vested", or social-engineered ones set up by outside interests secretively, or even internal PoV-pushing groups engaged in jackassery, to ever strongly affect outcomes.
  • No more fear by admins who knew a decision was wrong to contradict another admin, because adminship would no longer be special, precious, or threatening again.
  • Unbundling more tools and contextually limited remit to use them provides training of potential full admins and a proving ground to judge their performance that the community can evaluate.
  • No more rancorous divide between admins on high and lowly editors.
  • Ability of admins to remain more active content editors, without any pressure to always just do admin tasks (also a reduction in "career admins" (one of several administration-related cancers now affecting the system).
  • Active and sensible community members who'd rather eat their own feet that be drawn into admin drama cesspools could become admins and, by specifically disavowing things like block and ban ability, make it impossible that anyone can draw them into such stuff, and be confident that they can do only the admin work that they feel is needed and which they'd be comfortable with. (I'm in this camp.)
  • An end to the "civility exists everywhere on WP except at RfA" shitstorm problem.
  • Long-term administrative stability.
  • No more "dramaboard" effect of too many noticeboards (especially AE and ANI) being dominated by admins itching to deal out heavy-handed sanctions (i.e. "please quit being a Wikipedian" offers that are hard to refuse).
  • Enough admins around that disruption by COIs and the like can be reigned in more quickly, and that recourse to noticeboards much less ArbCom is less likely.
  • Because it will obviously work better than the current system, years of community anxiety about the future will melt away.
  • Abuse of administrative tools will be dealt with more promptly and with less favoritism toward never questioning an admin, because we'll have so many of them, and getting the tools back per a "WP:ADMIN-STANDARDOFFER" will be so routine, that ArbCom and AN will drop the pretense that it's better to keep a terrible admin than lose any admins, and that an admin should not be sanctioned unless what they did is so beyond the pale it's astounding.

If WMF doesn't do something like this, en.wikipedia is headed for a lot of trouble.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼ , 09:45, 25 January 2016 (UTC)