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Latest comment: 4 years ago by Tsilb in topic Budget for years 2017-2020



Tilman writes:

The Wikimedia Foundation's 2012-13 Annual Plan has just been published, accompanied by a Q&A (2012-2013 Annual Plan Questions and Answers)

Comments and suggestions are welcome; some were begun in a wikimedia-l mailing list thread this week. SJ talk  06:13, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

Issues raised on Wikimedia-L mailing list:

  • Total budget of $42.1 million US or (depending on page reviewed) $46 million US, seems high (Users Geni and Beria Lima)
  • When adding together total income from previous year ($39.2 million), this is about an 18.2% increase in budget, small in comparison with previous years (User Tango/Tom Dalton)
  • Increased budget tracks closely with strategic plan (User Philippe WMF)
  • Where will the 9.9 million in revenue come from in Q4? (User Risker) [See #April-June 2013 revenue]
  • Wikimania travel is $255,000 for board, staff, volunteers; previous year (2011-12) was $96,000. Interested in further breakdown, including scholarships. (User Aude)
  • Engineering core positions appear to include those positions supporting non-core activity. (User Risker)
  • Many elements of strategic plan are non-core, puts the strategic plan at risk. (User Risker)
  • Concerns that no community discussion page had been set up in conjunction with the announcement. (Multiple users)

Cannot update data[edit]

  • It should be noted that, until this section was added within the last 12 hours, neither this talk page nor the main page had been edited since 2009. There are no updates to any financial activities in the interim, and the main page is protected so that no updated information can be added by anyone other than a Meta administrator. I still believe that a separate page would have been more appropriate to discuss this year's annual plan. Risker (talk) 09:48, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

Typos and misc[edit]

  • Note (g) at p. 59 is actually (f), see p. 60.
  • At p. 41, for, "hosted" means "visited" and "Portuguese Wikipedia’s top contributors" means "Brazilian contributors who attended the meetups".[1]
  • ...
  • ...

April-June 2013 revenue[edit]

I see a surprising 9,9 M$ cash revenues in the plan for April-June 2013, p. 65 [2]: is this the so called spring fundraising? Does this mean that it becomes a regular thing to add up to the winter fundraising? --Nemo 05:55, 30 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

Nemo: This is when the Wikimedia Foundation expects to receive funding from the payment processing chapters for money collected during the annual fundraiser per the fundraising agreements and the FDC process.--Gbyrd (talk) 20:59, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Thank you, this explains it. --Nemo 20:05, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply


311 k$ planned for the "merchandise" section, of which 197 are expenses to buy the materials I suppose, given that we have no more fees and they're not wages etc. (p. 69). There's no corresponding revenues entry, so I don't understand: is this at a loss? --Nemo 06:02, 30 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

Hey Nemo, I'll get you a guaranteed answer about the break down (which is not very clear in the presentation) tomorrow (Thursday) I'm just verifying my numbers with Tony and Garfield. I do no however know that our net revenue is included in the revenue numbers. Our revenue and costs of goods sold ends up not being fully shown in the report it looks like (other then in the meta revenue number) but I'll break it down for you tomorrow. Jalexander (talk) 08:11, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Hey Nemo, Sorry for the enormous delay on this but I'll try to break it down and am happy to answer more questions etc. (I promise faster this time ;) ).
  • Net revenue after Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) of $195k is included in the overall revenue (it's just not separated out).
    • This number is the difference between our budged revenue of $540k and the budgeted cost of sold merchandise of around $345k.
    • The COGS is calculated using our current average cost of about 64%. This is obviously an estimate/average (the bags on sale right now are actually sold at cost) but I actually expect this is likely to decrease if we continue growing as hoped because of a relatively large economy of scale for most of our products and obviously the cost of goods goes up and down based on actual revenue as well.
  • We are running a bit at a loss overall when all is said and done.
    • The $311k is actually the whole cost of operations (except for COGS which is just accounted for above in the net revenue) and includes my salary/cost, bank fees, design help, giveaways etc.
    • After accounting for the $195 revenue the shop currently is budgeted to 'cost' $116k. Much of this is $75k in community giveaways/merch grants that are covered for in the budget (which is a fair bit more then I originally expected because I thought most of it would be in the grants budget) as well as some other additions like our current shipping subsidy (20k budgeted).
I'm hopeful that this will end up being lower for many reasons. We budged almost 20k for some some tax services that, more recently, we decided we could do better in house and so won't be spending most of that. I'm also hopeful that as we expand we will be able to find opportunities to reduce costs as we learn more and expand. We're thinking of looking at international fulfillment and production spots for example that could greatly help reduce not only customer cost (especially with unexpected customs fees) but our shipping subsidy etc . Jalexander (talk) 01:56, 5 September 2012 (UTC)Reply

"the WMF annual plan covers the entire movement"[edit]

From wmf:2012-2013_Annual_Plan_Questions_and_Answers#How_is_this_plan_different_from_previous_year.E2.80.99s_plans.3F. This is a contradiction in terms, see Wikimedia movement, and very offensive. Please understand that the Wikimedia movement is made by the many people (first of all projects' contributors) with their individual efforts, not all labeled and categorized by the WMF or Wikimedia in general, and by several organizations. They are not covered at all by the WMF's budget, nor by the WMF's plans. --Nemo 20:04, 30 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

so that next year, WMF will be able to claim that they "made" WLM... Anthere (talk)
Hello, I agree with the above (as do many people who contributed to the report). You don't need to convince the choir - just suggest better answers, or update the language so it is accurate :-) The annual plan, now that it includes grant and FDC funding, includes funding for the entire movement; roughly 1/3 of what is budgeted in the plan will go to non-WMF projects. That's what is intended.
And of course you are right that most of the work that really moves us forward -- makes us a movement, say -- is done without budget, without central infrastructure of any kind, other than a few shared platforms. It would be great to start describing and including this in our annual summaries of what the Projects are doing. *Some* annual overview needs to include highly important projects like WLM. My view is, the best solution would be a community-produced annual report. I'd like to hear better options. In the absence of anything like this, we are left with those linked from reports... of which the WMF report is becoming more global. SJ talk  00:27, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Anthere: thanks for the constructive feedback :( SJ: sounds like an interesting proposition, how to find the right balance is going to be a challenge, but it will be interesting to see how we can make that happen...Jan-Bart (talk) 09:18, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
It seems very simple to me, you only have to replace that sentence with "covers all the income from the WMF sites fundraising and related expenditure", or something like that. It would make immediately clear that you're only talking about money and that even speaking of money, organized activities and budget of the Wikimedia movement much is left out. Thanks, Nemo 20:04, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
That's good: precise and informative. SJ talk  19:34, 5 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
I made the change -- Nemo, if it doesn't resolve the issue, just say so :-) Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 19:20, 7 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Thank you, Sj and Sue. --Nemo 17:38, 18 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

FDC costs[edit]

Which budget does the FDC's costs come out of? There will be staff, travel and accommodation at face-to-face meetings, training and maybe a few other items. --Tango (talk) 15:18, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

Tango: On page 59 of the Annual Plan document it list $11,476,000 in funding for the FDC. This budget is what is designated to cover FDC operating expenses and annual plan funding.--Gbyrd (talk) 17:37, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Thank you. It says elsewhere that the money the FDC will be allocating is $11.2m, so the expected cost is $276k? Is there a breakdown of that? I was able to come up with some plausible guesses that came to that number with a roughly 50/50 split between staff and travel/accommodation (with other costs being minimal). Is that about right? --Tango (talk) 20:44, 4 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Going from memory, yes, Tango, your breakdown is roughly correct. It's staff+travel: there are no other significant FDC costs. Sue Gardner (talk) 19:22, 7 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

COI with GAC budget[edit]

I see the GAC budget is going to be part of the WMF's FDC application. However, the GAC is managed by Anasuya, who is part of the FDC staff. Isn't that a massive conflict of interest? How can Anasuya impartially support the FDC in making decisions about whether people that report to her should get funding or not? --Tango (talk) 15:21, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

The Grant Advisory Committee (GAC) is not managed by Anasuya; it is a group of volunteers regularly asked to review proposals submitted to the Wikimedia Grants program. They don't report to anyone at all.
There is indeed an obvious COI in having FDC staff be employed by and working at the Foundation. This has been discussed extensively during the drafting of the FDC proposal on-wiki, as well as in the advisory group. As far as I can tell, the conclusion was that the benefits outweigh the risk posed by COI, and some countermeasures were adopted, and the Board has sanctioned this arrangement. One of those countermeasures is already evident, in that the FDC eligibility criteria are all fact-based and do not rely on FDC staff's subjective judgment. Once again: the COI exists, but everyone is to do their best to mitigate the risk it poses. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 20:28, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Apologies, I should have said "Wikimedia Grants Programme" (it's become common to refer to it as the GAC, even thought the GAC is just part of it). Specifically, she manages you. I agree that the general COI of having the FDC staff employed by the WMF is manageable and worth it, but the specific COI of having part of the WMF's application fund a programme managed by a member of the FDC staff is another matter entirely. I don't think that COI can be managed. --Tango (talk) 22:22, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Can you offer a specific scenario that demonstrates how this particular COI plays out? I mean, like other programs in the WMF's non-core budget, the Grants program is being included in the WMF's FDC proposal, and the WMF will need to convince the FDC members (not FDC staff) that its spending on it is justified and high-impact, as part of its general argumentation and support of its larger FDC proposal. How do you envision the fact Anasuya manages me affecting the FDC's decision? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 22:46, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Anasuya has a very clear interest in you getting your funding, since you are part of her team. The FDC staff have significant influence on the FDC, since they give advice. That advice may be based on pre-determined criteria, but there is plenty of room for interpretation in assessing those criteria. --Tango (talk) 22:58, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Yes, the interest is obvious. We can all be assumed to have an "inertia" interest, i.e. to be interested in keeping on doing what we do, on the assumption that we generally consider what we're doing effective. The FDC's role is to assess and balance competing proposals, and I very much doubt there is much the FDC staff can say to actually bias the FDC's perception of the Grants program (which is exceptionally open to outside observation and assessment), so again, while I acknowledge the COI, I'm not sure how much of a threat it is that the FDC staff would subvert the FDC members' perceptions and judgments in its assessments of the proposals.
If there's nothing more specific you have in mind, perhaps we can leave it at that and see if there are other points of view on this. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 23:25, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
I think you are seriously underestimating the role of the FDC staff. If it were as you describe, why was someone with Anasuya's extensive experience hired? How would that experience be of any value if she had no influence? If all that was required was basic administration, they would have just hired someone straight out of high school. I have asked Stu to comment here, in his capacity as Chair of the WMF Audit Committee. --Tango (talk) 00:24, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
So lets look at the alternatives. There are two options. First: The WGP (RIP GAC) gets its funding outside of the FDC process = no COI. Second: The GAC gets its financing through the FDC, potential for a COI. But if we assume that this was the choice that was to be made, isn't a good sign that the foundation wanted to move the GAC budget through the FDC, to ensure that this is also something that is looked at critically by the FDC? I was a big supporter of having the WGP (and other (micro)grants programs) apply to the FDC.... And what application to the FDC is going to be looked at most closely by EVERYONE? Yes the one that the Foundation makes... I think that the transparancy that is applied throughout the process alongside an extensive evaluation is enough of a safeguard and I think that the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages... Jan-Bart (talk) 09:07, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
You are missing an option: have the FDC staff be as independant of the rest of the WMF as possible, which was what we discussed (there was talk of having them completely external, but it was decided they should be part of the WMF to keep things simple and so they would have a better understanding of the movement, they weren't supposed to be part of the WMF so that they could also do other WMF work). My problem isn't with the WGP being funded via the FDC. My problem is with Anasuya being involved in both. If you are on the FDC staff then that should be all you do. That's what I understood to be the proposal when it was discussed and it was on that understanding that I supported having the FDC staff employed by the WMF. There is a COI inherent in working in the same office and people you are involved in funding decisions for, but it is a small and manageable one. There is a much bigger COI inherent with being involved with funding decisions for people you actually work closely with and that report to you. I don't think that COI is manageable. --Tango (talk) 11:32, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
This is where we simply disagree. I don't think you can ever separate the FDC staff support from the rest of the foundation. Not only does it give you a superficial solution to the COI (these people are still colleagues who still share the same employer?) but it also misses out from the benefits that this kind of cooperation could have. The expertise needed in one area (and lessons learned) are very useful in the other... That aside from the fact that a separate office (with support etc) is simply a lot of overhead. And again: its a transparent proces, everyone, including you, will be watching... how about seeing where this goes, what incredible risk are we running for this specific case?Jan-Bart (talk) 11:47, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Come on, Jan-Bart... you're making a habit of this. Please read what I write more carefully before you respond. I very clearly said that I support having the FDC staff work out of the WMF office and that I think the COI inherent in that is small and manageable. What I have a problem with is the FDC staff working very closely with (in this case, managing) specific WMF staff whose work is funded by the FDC. That is entirely avoidable. The WGP can still benefit from Anasuya's experience (I hope the FDC staff will provide advice and guidance to all FDC applicants on how to improve their programmes), but it doesn't need to be managed by her. --Tango (talk) 12:04, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
No I was making the general statement with regards to a stict or a loose seperation. Both the strict version and the loose one are just superficial solutions to the COI problem (again: they are colleagues and they work together) . Having the same manager has many advantages and giving them a different manager and resulting inefficiency in overhead and communications is a cost which I think is not worth it. And for the third time: what are you afraid of? It will be a public process and everyone will be able to watch this, and the WGP will undoubtedly be a very public process (it has been so far, with public presentations showing the failures/successes etc. Do you think the budget will suddenly double and no one will be the wiser? The foundation has much to lose if we were to manipulate the system, and if we wanted to do that we wouldn't have changed the system...Jan-Bart (talk) 12:21, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
I completely disagree. COIs are always matters of degree. It is rarely possible to eliminate them entirely, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and minimise them. The interest someone has in a person they manage is obviously far greater than the interest they have in some random person employed by the same organisation and working in the same office. The FDC cannot work efficiently if it has to be constantly second guessing the advice it recieves from its support staff because they are so heavily conflicted. --Tango (talk) 14:41, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Then we agree to disagree. I think it is worthwhile to minimize any COI, but one has to look at the costs, benefits and risks of every measure. In this case I think that the benefits of the situation outweigh the disadvantages (risks). One of the reasons is that this is a one time decision (before we evaluate it again next year I assume that there will be just one grant request) in a transparent process which results in another process (the grant making itself) which is also a completely transparent process. And after having having talked to Anasuya I am have no fears that this will be done in the most transparent weight. But then again: thats just my opinion :) Jan-Bart (talk) 15:44, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

Many Wikimedia bodies (the WMF, chapters) are becoming grant-makers. We should be developing experience and expertise in making grants of varying sizes. So regardless of what happens with the FDC and GAC this coming year, the Foundation needs someone like Anasuya, and the movement needs participation from more people with similar backgrounds. Making grants to others is one of the significant ways we can support projects; I would say that the WMF has traditionally erred on the side of 'hiring contractors' rather than 'making grants' out of a lack of familiarity with all of the ways grants can be a helpful channel. I am glad that this is changing. SJ talk  00:37, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

Of course the simple solution to avoiding COI is not have WMF apply for money which it raised in the first place from one of its own committee. That has seem convoluted and crazy to me from the start. KTC (talk) 09:02, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

The argument is that there activities that the Foundation performs which are "non-core". These activities should be weighed against other activities performed by other movement parties. EG: Why would de UK Grants program have to apply through the FDC (as part of the chapter budget) and the Foundation wouldn't? Arguably they do the same thing and I can imagine that each program has its own (geographic or otherwise) advantages or disadvantages.Jan-Bart (talk) 09:12, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
NB: the FDC is a community committee, not a Board committee: it is chaired by a community member and composed of community members. It is supported by the WMF just as the movement as a whole is. SJ talk  04:16, 4 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Financial risks - one off donations[edit]

For a charitable movement Wikimedia is heavily dependent on one off donations, but that doesn't seem to be acknowledged as a risk, nor do I see a plan to reduce that. I realise that it takes time to build up more predictable longterm revenue streams, but I would suggest that the Foundation acknowledge this as a risk and set some targets for reducing that risk by raising enough by other means to fund the core services for the foreseeable future. WereSpielChequers (talk) 16:21, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

Yes. This was an intentional focus for a few years, but now it would make sense to diversify again. Encouraging recurring donations, or to a notion of recurring non-voting membership in the movement, are both options to consider. And we seem to be doing increasingly well at finding a variety of foundations to support our work, something I would like to see accelerate. SJ talk  00:31, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Introduction of a recurring donations system has been considered one of the major successes of last fundraising by some WMF staff, but incongrously the monthly revenue graph seems not to expect any revenue from it. It would be interesting to see if the bigger focus on this by WMUK has paid off. --Nemo 19:59, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
It is difficult to know how to judge the success of WMUK's effort with recurring donations, but the monthly reports here include a fundraising section that specifies how much was raised each month. For example, the June report says "there were 6,328 successful direct debits this month, bringing in a total of £26,061.87" (direct debits are the way WMUK does its recurring donations - it's the standard method charities use in the UK). There is certainly a steady stream of money coming in from them. --Tango (talk) 20:51, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
WereSpielChequers: I would appreciate seeing your source data for your comments that the current revenue plan consisting of the Wikimedia Foundation portion of the annual fundraiser, the payment processing chapters portion of the annual fundraiser and Wikimedia Foundation grants and gifts creates a higher than normal risk profile for a not for profit organization. There is some discussion in the the charitable press [3] in the United States that greater diversification may not lead to greater financial stability.--Gbyrd (talk) 18:25, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
I don't think WSC was proposing diversification, particularly. If you emphasise recurring donations, it will generally be the same people making them as were making the one-off donations, they just make them more reliably. --Tango (talk) 20:41, 4 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
@Gbyrd, There is a risk of a medium sized charity spreading its fundraising too thin and not getting economies of scale. I've had some dealings with a smaller charity than the WMF which was raising money through a mix of merchandising, legacies, charity shops, one off small donations, recurring small donations (including payroll giving), charity fun runs, large donations and corporate sponsorship. I'm not going to name them partly because I suspect they'd be miffed if I pointed out that they'd spread themselves too thin to be efficient, and at the end of that they were extremely diverse in fundraising methods but necessarily focussed on a catchment area less in population than the average US state - and inextricably bound to that area's economy. Considering our total size, the WMF and its chapters are, as I understand it, unusually diverse in the geography from which we receive donations. But we are heavily dependent on one off small donations, and have very little revenue from longterm commitments such as Payroll giving and direct debit. We may have some medium term commitments from large grant giving bodies, and I'd hope we have a donors list which we've started to Email an appeal to each year. I'm pretty sure that merchandising is still more a reward to volunteers than a useful fundraising stream, and even with the greying of the pedia and the average Wikipedian ageing by more than a year per year I doubt that legacies will be more than a few percent of our funds for the next decade or so. So my understanding is that the WMF and its chapters have a high diversity of geography, and of donors, but a low diversity of fundraising methods. The only real weak point that I see is that it is overly focussed on short term one off donations. Aside from these being usually less cost effective than building up a longterm relationship with a donor, this leaves us very vulnerable to fashion and the fickleness of public opinion. A scandal sufficient to dissuade many new donors from giving us money would be likely to have far less effect on direct debit income. There are charities that I've supported for more than twenty years by direct debit, but there've certainly been years I'd have skipped if instead I had to remember to release a payment to them each year. I'd also make the point that your fundraising needs to be attuned to your support base, and the profile of your fundraising needs to be synchronised with your spending needs. If we were a disaster relief charity focussed on one particular natural disaster then there would be little point developing longterm revenue streams such as direct debits or legacies, better to focus on asking people to give money today. But as a charity writing encyclopaedias, dictionaries and so forth that we hope to make permanently available it would be better if we had predictable revenue for decades to come. Once we have some confidence in future revenues we can make commitments to our GLAM partners that digital media released to us will be around for the longterm. And of course our supporters skew towards childlessness means that in the longterm we should be developing a legacy team in our fundraising department.
Sorry that was so long. The shorter version is don't be too hung up about diversity of how we raise funds, we easily mitigate that by the incredible and improving diversity of where in the world we collect those funds from. But do be concerned that we are using short term fundraising programs whilst our needs are longterm. I'd suggest a strategy for the rest of this decade of shifting from one off donations to direct debit or at least repeat donors, and for the longer term look to legacies to build an endowment fund. is right to caution organisations of our size from spreading themselves too thin by going for too diverse a fundraising mix, but even they'd concede that two channels are better than one, and I don't know the time-scale they used to conclude that two were better than three. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:45, 5 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

Financial risks of globalisation[edit]

The plan seems to assume that much of the financial risk is with the four remaining payment processing chapters. But globalisation itself incurs risks, including that in some countries it isn't a local registered charity that is collecting the money. WereSpielChequers (talk) 16:21, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

Exchange rates[edit]

Wikimedia moves quite a bit of money between different exchange rates, but I don't see exchange rate fluctuation on the risk list. there are ways to mitigate this, most obviously by keeping some donations in the donor country currency. But it should be acknowledged as a risk. I gather that some of the risk has been offloaded to chapters and other grant recipients outside the US. But a strategy of evaluating and paying all such grants in dollars has two downsides, if the dollar is strong the recipient gets more money than they actually asked for, if the dollar is weak then they get less money than was intended or may be necessary. Financially it makes the accountancy easier if everything is measured in dollars, but when currencies fluctuate it is a wasteful strategy. WereSpielChequers (talk) 16:21, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply

It doesn't seem to be spelt out in the FDC framework, but I think the conclusion from the discussions about currencies was that applicants should apply in their local currency and the WMF would take on the currency risk (since it is exposed to a large number of foreign currencies, there is some diversification of that risk - if a chapter takes on the risk, it has no diversification at all). The application form asks for the amount in both USD and local currency. --Tango (talk) 16:34, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply
Well if so I'm glad we got that concession, when I gave up on the FDC stuff things weren't looking very hopeful. But it does expose the WMF to exchange rate risks and it would be sensible to recognise this and make allowances for it in the plan. WereSpielChequers (talk) 17:04, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply
The currency risk only exists for the short time between the FDC making its recommendations and the grants getting paid (about 2 months). There is a risk, but it isn't particularly large. There will be money held in GBP, EUR and CHF by the fundraising chapters, which will hedge the risk quite a bit. It is certainly a risk that needs to be monitored, but I'm not sure it's one of the top risks the WMF is facing (there are a lot more risks that you could ever include in a summary plan like this one). --Tango (talk) 17:27, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply
If they've moved from paying grants in dollars to paying them in the local currency then yes I suppose it is no longer one of the biggest risks. In absolute terms a currency fluctuation could cost quite a bit, but unlike say a fraud it has less reputational effect per dollar lost. WereSpielChequers (talk) 10:17, 31 July 2012 (UTC)Reply
If grants are all denominated in dollars (it doesn't matter what they are actually paid in, that's just a technicality) then there is no risk to the WMF. The risk to the WMF only exists if they are denominating grants in local currency. --Tango (talk) 11:35, 31 July 2012 (UTC)Reply
The risk of not following the budget would be minimised if the grants were all denominated in dollars. But in exchange you'd be risking having some programs underfunded due to exchange rate fluctuations and others funded more generously than you'd intended. Neither being a good situation for a charity. I'm happy that the overall risk to the WMF is lower if they pay in local currencies, and the WMF has sufficient reserves it can take the risk, though presumably if there was a really bad run on the dollar they'd have to respond. WereSpielChequers (talk) 15:50, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

Wikimedia Grants budget[edit]

Q: From [4] -- "how much money the WMF plans on distributing through the GAC, whether it is significantly different than last year"

A: The Wikimedia Grants program budget for this fiscal year (2012-13) is $400,000. This does not include the the Participation Support, Wikimania scholarships (please help fix them!), and the very large contribution toward Wikimania's costs we make each year, which are all budgeted for separately. That is, up to $400,000 are reserved solely for distribution as Wikimedia Grants. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:48, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

So is the Wikimania stuff included in the "Funding through GAC" on page 55, because that is a different number than above. If there is some obvious math that I am missing to account for this, please correct me! I have a real problem with keeping numbers straight, especially when switching between different presentation formats. If there is something math related that seems too obvious to be pointed out, it probably isn't in my case. But as far as I can tell slide 55 must have be a different accounting than the Wikimedia grants program budget.--BirgitteSB (talk) 01:57, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
The above question was clarified In the subsection below. The figures on the slide were not just chapter grants as I was assuming, but all grants and Wikimania scholarships, etc.
One more question, what is the apples to apples number for last fiscal year that correlates with the $400,000 budget for 2012-13?--BirgitteSB (talk) 18:40, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
I don't think there is one. A lot of the grants the GAC paid out last year will be done by the FDC this year, but the FDC will also pay out other grants (eg. to the WMF and fundraising chapters). Since we don't know what the FDC will pay out to who, it is difficult to compare. I guess you can assume the FDC gives the WMF its requested amount, and then compare last year's GAC budget plus the funds retained by fundraising chapters to this year's GAC budget, plus the FDC budget, minus the WMF request. That gives you the total amount from the fundraiser not being spent directly by the WMF for each year. Neither of those numbers is the $400k, though. --Tango (talk) 18:52, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

Note on "grants"[edit]

Confusingly, the word grants is used in at least two senses and at least three contexts in the annual plan document. Here's my unauthorized stab at disambiguating it:

  • grants on page 45 and page 49 means the Wikimedia Grants program (as well as the Participation Support program WMF co-funds with Wikimedia Deutschland)
  • Grants on page 55, super confusingly under "Spending", refers to WMF's spending of a grant it received from the Stanton Foundation, i.e. has nothing to do with WMF's own grant-making.
  • Grants and Fellowships" on page 59 are bundled together (maybe to fit on the slide? I really don't know.). For the Grants program budget itself, see the previous section.
  • "Awards and grants" in page 69 is a category used by our finance dept., and I think it would be best if Garfield can speak to it, but it clearly includes much more than the Grants program. Let's wait for further clarification on that.

I hope this disperses at least some of the fog. :) Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:48, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

How about the top of page 55. "Funding through GAC"? Is that the full accounting of what GAC did/will fund or are there funds from GAC that are not tied to chapters?--BirgitteSB (talk) 01:38, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
Good catch! That, of course, should read "Wikimedia Grants program". None of the Wikimedia Grants budget is "tied to chapters". It's all available for absolutely any individual, group, or organization that cares to submit a proposal. While the majority of recipients have historically been chapters, we have already supported a number of individuals, unincorporated groups, and non-movement organizations through the Grants program in the past year.
That is the full accounting, though the more precise figure is the one I gave above -- $400K -- the figure on page 55 includes Participation Support and Wikimania Scholarships. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:45, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
I just asked that above as you answered! I had skimmed the heading labeled "Chapters and others" as "Chapters . . .", so I was thinking everything in the grey box was just about chapters. Which accounts for a good deal of my confusion on this line. Thanks for clearing this up.--BirgitteSB (talk) 02:02, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
"Award and Grants" is the funding designated for the FDC. The Wikimedia Foundation, as part of it's funding request to the FDC, will be requesting funding for the Wikimedia Grants Program, Wikimania support, Wikimania scholarships and Fellowships.--Gbyrd (talk) 18:38, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

Wikimania travel question[edit]

So, I got some answers about Wikimania travel from Tony in WMF's finance department. The comparisons I got from him:

Haifa (2011) D.C. (2012) Notes
Total costs $103K $225K budgeted
Attendees ~50 108 (staff, contractors, board, advisory board)
Hotel costs ~$135/night ~$215/night

He also mentioned that on average, the duration of stay for DC was longer as other events were tagged on to Wikimania (e.g., AdaCamp, Education Program). Hope that helps! Jwild (talk) 19:37, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply

  • Jeepers, where were the staff staying for that amount of money per night?! WMUK staff and trustees were staying in a hotel that cost $149/night, and I thought that was expensive! Mike Peel (talk) 04:43, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    $149/night plus tax. You're forgetting the ridiculous US custom of quoting pre-tax prices. There were some WMF staff in the same hotel as the WMUK staff and trustees. There was another hotel that was a bit more expensive (and further from the venue and, apparently, not as nice...) that some other WMF staff and, I think, the WMF board stayed in. The high price of the hotels was a concern raised well before the conference, but apparently there was nothing to be done about it. I'm sure future juries will pay more attention to hotel prices when assessing bids, having learned from this year (it was probably the biggest problem with the whole conference, with the possible exception of late invite letters to visa applicants). --Tango (talk) 11:16, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    Actually, I was making the assumption that the $215 was the pre-tax price ... I think I've been in the US for too long now! ;-) But given what you say, perhaps it did include tax, or else the other hotel must have been a fair bit more expensive... Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 14:55, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    The other hotel was $216.41/night with tax [5]. So actually, I expect the WMF's average costs were a little lower than $215, since they weren't all in the most expensive hotel. -Tango (talk) 17:20, 3 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    I'm afraid that I'm really struggling to get my head around this. We're talking nearly a quarter of a million dollars here - and there seems to be no public report regarding how this money was effectively spent to further Wikimedia's global mission. What charitable activities did this money end up funding, and where is the report on that expenditure? Mike Peel (talk) 21:40, 20 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    We never get proper reports on Wikimanias - it is a big problem. I understand that the local team is always exhausted afterwards, but it still needs to be done. It makes it impossible to hold people to account and it also makes it very difficult for subsequent Wikimania organisers to plan. --Tango (talk) 21:54, 20 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    In this case, I'm more interested in the WMF providing such a report, rather than the Wikimania local team... Mike Peel (talk) 21:58, 20 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    Indeed, it's very weird that the WMF never provides any report about Wikimania spending. In the past, I had to dig financial reports and forms 990 and I got very little even from them (not even number, let alone justifications). --Nemo 22:04, 20 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Outdenting. Why is it strange that the WMF doesn't report in detail on Wikimania? I don't think it's strange. $225K is not a large amount of money in a budget of 29MM, and I think it would be odd for the Wikimedia Foundation to report in an extremely high level of detail for that 225K relative to other similar-sized expenditures. I do think that the local teams should report on Wikimania, and their report would and should account for the amount of funding that came from the WMF. Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 00:18, 21 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    Perhaps the WMF should be giving more detailed reports on other similar sized spending as well - the reports we get from the WMF aren't really in enough detail for volunteers and donors to hold it to account (they are a similar level of detail as other charities give, but we generally hold ourselves to high standards of transparency than other charities). That said, I think the level of detail above is sufficient for that particular line item (although that was only supplied because someone asked) - for travel and accommodation, the number of people and the total spend is enough, we don't need to be able to micromanage the WMF's individual choices of who to send and what hotel to put them in. The WMF's total spend on Wikimania is substantially larger than $225k, and a full report on that would be appreciated. I don't see any need for separate WMF and local team reports, but the reports probably need to be jointly written in order to be sufficiently complete. --Tango (talk) 11:24, 21 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    I didn't ask details, we don't even know the totals. Here we do, but only for a subset of the expense. And yes, of course I'd like to see more breakdowns of expenditure also for other kinds of activities (i.e. the total for each program, rather than super-generic headlines like "technology" etc.), but Wikimania is the most obscure, also because it has a mixed source of income (WMF, organizers, attendees, sponsors) and for instance we have no idea of what's the share. --Nemo 12:39, 21 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
    • Hi Sue, Just for the sake of comparison, I'd like you to consider the past budgets for Wikimania, and how much was spent on the scholarship grants for wikimedians? It wouldn't surprise me if either or both of those were less than just the travel budget to cover travel expense for staff members across the same country this year. The entire conference might and have been funded in the past for less than that amount. Just because the budget keeps rising at a high rate does not justify these expenses being sidelined. More donor funds should mean, more responsibility and transparency, not less. More responsibility to manage those funds well, at quarter of a million dollars to fund travel and 3 day stay @ $215/night for staff doesn't seem very efficient. Anyway, my concern is this could have been managed much better, you may recall the alternative hotel recommendations, or the ideas I suggested a couple of months ago for bulk-bookings. Regards. Theo10011 (talk) 04:29, 22 August 2012 (UTC)Reply
      • I wouldn't say that it was a matter of "better" or "more efficient" simply very different. I see at least five different groups of Wikimania attendees. Staff, subsidised Wikimedians, subsidised non or potential Wikimedians, unsubsidised Wikimedians and unsubsidised others. For the staff this is an important event, and an important opportunity to interact with each other and the rest of the community. But it is a very expensive way to enable staff to socialise with each other. It is also an extremely inefficient way to recruit new Wikimedians, except possibly those who were in town anyway. So my preference would be for an event that aimed to maximise the number of active Wikimedians who attended, and only brought in staff where there was a strong reason. In some cases it may even be appropriate for staff who need to participate in one session to do so by video. However it is important when handling costs to get the right budget headings. If our fundraising team continues to use Wikimania to recruit the Wikimedians who they use in fundraising appeals then their attendance is welcome, but should be considered a fundraising cost, not a Wikimania cost. WereSpielChequers (talk) 15:49, 5 September 2012 (UTC)Reply
Coming to Wikimania and explaining what it is they are doing is a key part of making the staff accountable to the community. Having more staff coming to Wikimania goes some way towards opening up the black box that the WMF can sometimes be. You could do that by video link, I suppose, but it isn't the same. You can't catch someone in the corridor after their talk to ask them about it if they gave their talk from SF. --Tango (talk) 21:50, 5 September 2012 (UTC)Reply
I don't dispute that we need quite a few staff to attend. But beyond a certain point it makes them less accountable as the staff become a clique within Wikimania who mix less than if there were fewer of them there. It is also expensive to send staff, hence my suggestion that the WMF send fewer of them. WereSpielChequers (talk) 21:28, 20 September 2012 (UTC)Reply

Now that the WMF is narrowing its focus, I hope to see us start spending significantly less on Wikimania - both in staff overhead to help with planning (something I have never been a fan of, since the time I was a 'mania organizer myself) and in funds spent on flights and hotels. I think we can do a better job of combining our hotel choices with those of other attendees, and we should definitely be investing in good solutions for global videoconferencing. (That's both good for the budget and good for limiting our carbon footprint - both for large meetings such as Wikimania and for small 8-person gatherings.) SJ talk  04:20, 4 November 2012 (UTC)Reply

Sj, very pleased to see your thoughts on this, including a rare mention on WMF sites of the carbon intensity involved in some offline activities. For some time it's struck me as odd that an organisation as quintessentially online as ours is funding carbon-intensive, not to mention financially expensive, physical stuff to the extent that we appear to have done over the past few years. Tony (talk) 11:30, 14 July 2013 (UTC)Reply


In 2011-12, the reserve was projected to stay above 5.2 months of expenses.

In 2012-13, it is projected to stay above 6 months of expenses (actually: 6.3 months at the low point). This is measured in terms of cash budget [tracking the cash that passes through the WMF's hands]. For the first time in 2012, this cash budget is different from the non-cash budget. The $2.65M of funds allocated by the FDC to payment-processing chapters dont pass through the WMF, but stay with the chapter. So the non-cash budget is $42.1M, but the cash budget is $39.4M.

For example: the $19.7M projected reserve for October 2012 was set to be exactly 6 months of the year's cash budget. The actual cash reserve ended up being $20.8M. This was noted in a monthly report as "5.92 months of [non-cash] expenses", but it is 6.32 months of cash expenses, the measure used for the reserve.
This difference is confusing; we should switch to tracking everything in terms of a single measure next year.

The projected reserve is the minimum reserve through the year: in practice this is reached in the month before the fundraiser begins. In future years fundraising will be more spread out over the entire year and we may see much smaller fluctuations.)


An endowment for technical hosting/bandwidth support has been discussed for some years. It was agreed that this should be messaged specifically, and perhaps separately from the rest of the annual fundraiser. This has been on the back burner over the past year, but is ripe for development. SJ talk 

2012-13 Fundraising targets[edit]

The 2012-13 annual plan fundraising goal was set at $46.1 million, in line with the five-year plan and projected expenses; as well as a slight increase in the reserve.

The fundraiser this year is split into two parts: one in November-December in some countries (with a target of $25M), and one in March-April in the rest of the world. The majority of funds is expected to be raised in the first part of the fundraiser.

Remove nonessential functions[edit]

Remove nonessential functions

I request that

  • Wikimedia Foundation only pay for server administration and coding and therefore remove the functions [Community Advocacy, Communications, Fellowships, Mobile partnerships, Learning and Grantmaking, Global Education, Internationalization, Research and Development](
  • I'm given the option to disable fundraising messages on Wikimedia Foundation sites until this request is granted
    posted without signing
You may find wmf:Vote:Narrowing Focus interesting. It doesn't go as far as you ask, but it's a step in that direction. --Tango (talk) 20:35, 23 March 2013 (UTC)Reply

Proposal: Sharing future forecasts and annual plans[edit]

Currently, the WMF publishes internally a midyear "lookahead" projection about the next annual plan, each January.

This is not made public until the minutes of the Q3 board meeting come out -- usually along with the midyear financial report. For the past two years, this has been in early March, ~6 weeks after the initial projection is shared internally. The current lookahead includes targets for the budget and staff growth, but no further financials.

Starting in the next fiscal year, I propose that we:

  1. Publish the lookahead (or a summary of it; whatever is convenient, no need to be 100 slides long) to the community soon after it is shared internally - before the first Board meeting of the year.
    • This allows other community planners to benefit from the forecast
    • Any discussion around it does not need to involve staff; this publication can be for information porpoises only.
  2. Publish the final draft of the plan when it is submitted to the Board for approval, rather than after the fiscal year starts.
    • This is not for feedback; simply for transparency. At this point the plan is fixed.

Related ideas[edit]

  • Include a brief second year's forecast in the annual plan (just as we included a 5-year forecast in the 5-year strategic plan, each annual plan can include an equally brief forecast of the next year. So far we have matched very closely to the initial forecasts in the 5-year plan, but in general that may change.)
    • Include a mid-year update to this in the lookahead, in the same format. This largely exists already, though it might be a bit more nuanced/distilled. (For instance, in the past we have discussed such things as the projected evolution of the % of the budget given to overhead or reserves).
  • Ask for FDC feedback on the full WMF annual plan.
    • This should not require a special format - the format we normally use for our plans should be fine. It seems this past year there was a lot of overhead involved in carving out the part of our plan that was for FDC review; then making our existing plan align with the FDC system. Since we designed both systems, we could instead make the FDC process flexible enough to support what we already do.
    • We should change our shared expectation of that review: the FDC is not directly determining the WMF budget (at least not the core elements), but their input will be welcome and respected in the process.
    • If the timing doesn't work out, this could be later than the current FDC deadline; but ideally we would time our planning to match that of other entities.
    • This sort of feedback could serve as a more direct model for chapters and other movement entities. And it would simplify the work of both the staff (who only need to produce one plan) and the FDC (who no longer need two different criteria for evaluating the WMF plan and chapter plans).

SJ talk  20:12, 23 April 2013 (UTC)Reply


Further comments and questions about the plan:

"This was very successful; it enabled us to reduce annoyance to readers by showing them fewer banners"[edit]

[citation needed]
Talk:Fundraising 2012/Report: "we're working on getting the impression numbers to compare from year to year. That data is not ready yet, but I'll let you know when it's up. Meganhernandez (talk) 10:13, 20 May 2013 (UTC)". --Nemo 05:48, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

I think the above claim is not based on impression numbers, but rather the length of fundraiser. See:

We showed banners for nine days and then experimented with a new feature: showing banners only to users who hadn’t seen them before, and only for a limited number of views (usually one or two). By comparison, in 2011 the fundraiser showed banners to all readers in nearly every country in the world for 46 days.

That clearly suggests we showed banners to fewer people, or least fewer repeat views. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 19:53, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Steven, I don't know what you meant to say here. I'm asking stats for the "fewer benners" claim, period. I'm not interested in guesswork. --Nemo 20:02, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
The fundraiser went from 46 days long to 9 days long. At the same time, the fundraising team worked to not show banners more than than once or twice to a person. Less time + fewer repeat views logically equals fewer banners served. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 20:22, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Your logic is broken, read the link above. Thanks, Nemo 20:40, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
His logic is sound, even though it doesn't include absolute numbers of impressions. In 2011, there were roughly 20% as many impressions. I'm also interested to see comprehensive numbers, but the claim you cite is correct. SJ talk 
No, his premises are incorrect. The fundraising lasted 54 days, more than in the past; they were not all "full days" but it's impossible to infer anything on the impressions without direct stats. --Nemo 07:35, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
I see what you mean. I look forward to the data. SJ talk  05:46, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

(Still nothing. --Nemo 20:32, 4 October 2013 (UTC))Reply

Our approach to online fundraising has evolved significantly over the last year. We no longer have a singular "fundraiser" that lasts a certain number of days in November and December. This year, we are almost constantly running a banner to a small percentage of readers and constantly evolving our messages. We are also makings banners disappear after a reader has seen them one or two times. These are big changes that make comparisons to the days of "the fundraiser" very difficult. The statement that we are reducing "annoyance to readers" with this new approach is largely anecdotal. We learned that a reader's propensity to donate drops off significantly after they have seen a banner a couple times. This new approach is based on that learning and our desire to minimize the presence of banners, which we know are annoying to some. We almost never receive complaints from readers anymore because (or at least we theorize because) the banners go away after a reader sees them a couple times. That's why we feel this new approach is less annoying to readers. I am not sure we have any reliable way of measuring that with data. --Lgruwell (talk) 03:05, 5 October 2013 (UTC)Reply

Engineering staff hiring[edit]

"Even so, we feel like we're in a pretty good position to hire technology staff right now": not in contradiction with "lower than planned hiring in Product and Engineering"? Something changed? --Nemo 05:54, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

While engineering recruiting is challenging in general, our internal recruiting team coalesced in 1st quarter this year including a dedicated tech recruiter, and we've seen improvements in sourcing and time to hire. There is still work to do, but yes, there has been a change. Gyoung (talk) 14:58, 11 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Very nice to hear, thanks. --Nemo 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

"strengthening the trademark portfolio"[edit]

("$2.5 million one time projects, such as"; "one-time expenditures including $700K to upgrade the trademark portfolio", p. 11 [iii]) Details? Headlines? Are you going to recover some of the worst squatted domains? --Nemo 06:01, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

I believe this is for registration of our most popular trademarks in secondary global markets not covered by our current registrations. A few variations on a few marks in many countries. I agree that extra clarification of what this entails would be welcome -- among other reasons, other parts of our movement, or fellow travellers, may need to consider register their own marks globally one day; so we should share what we have learned.
The stewardship of the Wikimedia trademarks is one of the main mandates of the Wikimedia Foundation, given their value exceeding millions and millions of dollars. Over the last couple of years, we have registered our core trademarks to build up a solid trademark portfolio. Registration of the marks has allowed us to recover domain names from cybersquatters and pursue abuses of the marks to protect the reputation of the Wikimedia projects. Given our global community and consistent with other major web properties, we have an ongoing strategy to register our marks globally. This is a continual project, for which we have allocated funds in this year's budget. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:55, 15 July 2013 (UTC)Reply


  • Time mismatches (would be useful to write somewhere in what time the text was written):
    • "Fiscal year 2012-13 results won't be final until end of July 2013, but we are projecting to spend": we're already in July, so it's not a projection on something future, it's in the past. Intended: we esteem to have spended.
      Better: "we are projecting to have spent". It is still a projection: it's not yet the "end of July" so we don't have the final reports.
    • "We expect development on Flow will kick off before the end of the fiscal year" (p. 6).
    • ...
    • Tons more mentioning end of fiscal year or March.
  • "serving as liaison with various community leaders and groups (such as ArbCom and Ombudsmen Commission)" (p. 5): intended "English Wikipedia ArbCom".
    I would guess the intention was "ArbComs".
  • «As of March, there are more than 4.5 million items in Wikidata, and it is now used to provide interlanguage links and structured data to all Wikipedias»: broken coordination, "and it" -> "which".
    The original usage is ok, but "which" is better.
  • Hyphen instead of dash: "when appropriate - a program".
  • "Wikimania UK governance review", typo (p. 15).
    Good catch!
  • "privacy and trademark portfolios" (p. 17): unclear what a privacy portfolio is.
  • "focused interventions": wrong lowercase after period (should probably be fixed in previous bullet too, or preceding period changed to comma or semicolon).
  • "ad-hoc" (p. 17): some always correct this hyphen, worth checking.
  • "increase in the [...] metric [...] by 2.4K per month": this is probably meant as annual increase rather than per month (which would be +2.4*12 k on annual basis); probably clearer as "monthly [...] metric [...] per month".
  • "Wikimedia’s projects" (p. 23): we say Wikimedia projects.
    Good catch.
  • "Community translators now have much-improved tools to work with, including the Translate extension on Meta." — should use the singular form of tool instead of plural. odder (talk) 21:34, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    There are other improved tools as well. Unless you find only that extension useful...
    As a translator myself, I've never worked with a tool other than the Translate extension, so I guess that's a bit vague… odder (talk) 00:56, 10 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
  • Spending table on p. 15 is a pasted raster image instead of a text-based table. Which makes it impossible to copy the numbers anywhere, requiring people to type them instead. odder (talk) 21:48, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    Good catch.
  • Same problem for the "2013-14 Plan Finances and Staffing" table on page 11. odder (talk) 21:50, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    Good catch.
  • Sentence with curious series of hendiadys: «develop and facilitate a strong and effective learning and evaluation framework and strategy for grants and grantee partners with both quantitative and qualitative elements of understanding and measuring [...]» (p. 19).
    Unusual usage example, but fine without correction. SJ talk  00:42, 10 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    I'm (er) glad to have provided the unusual usage example, but I'll watch those 'ands' in the future. :-)--ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 01:31, 18 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

"Targets" heading level[edit]

On page 20 "Targets" appears to be a subheading of "Program Development". But it applies to the foundation as a whole. Also possibly as a result of this in the TOC on page 2, there's no entry for "Targets". -- S Page (WMF) (talk) 01:23, 11 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Revenue, Expenses, and Staffing[edit]

"This plan adds no money to the reserve, as an additional $5 million in funding to the reserve was added in the current fiscal year. To achieve the revenue target, we will continue to innovate to increase the effectiveness of our messaging, and we will improve translations and localizations of the banners, enable mobile donations, and use video better."

  1. Why not contributing more money to the reserve? What were the factors that contributed to that decision? Are there any plans for moving money that will not be spent in fiscal 2013-14 to the reserve, should that situation occur?
    Given that more money than planned was added to the reserve in fiscal year 2012-13 and that our goal is to keep the fundraiser as short a practical, our budget revenue target is a good match to the funding needs for fiscal year 2013-14 and setting an achievable revenue target.--Gbyrd (talk) 20:46, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    Having witnessed the long discussion on creating an endowment and increasing reserve on Wikimedia-l, the fact that the Foundation has a reserve that covers just around 9-10 months of expenses and does not plan on increasing it is still a bit worrying to me. odder (talk) 21:17, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    We are discussing an endowment plan; this would be separate from the plan of record for the reserve. So for example we might run an endowment campaign to raise part of a $100M endowment, which would be held in a separate board-designated reserve fund -- that would be kept separate from our reserves, which should remain available to cover unexpected changes in our short-term fundraising & expenses. SJ talk 
    I understand the difference between an endowment and a reserve, but I assumed that both come from the same assumption (to protect the Foundation in unforeseen situations) and are therefore related. I also understand that the decision was caused by the required amount being collected one year ahead of the plan, but still: the funds only allow the Foundation to operate for less 10 months (though I'm not sure what's the usual size of a US NGO's reserve). odder (talk) 01:53, 10 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    The normal reserve size is 6-12 months of operating expenses, calculated at the low-point during the year. We are currently at the low end of this range. Some NGOs maintain as little as 3 months or as much as 24 months in reserve. SJ talk  03:37, 20 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
  2. What does using video better mean in the context of donation banners? Surely not using videos inside the banners..? odder (talk) 14:20, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    On #2: yes. We've already experimented with this. Check out the banners from the Thank You campaign post-fundraiser for examples. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 19:55, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    I disable all banners by default, so I had no idea about this. That's absolutely terrifying information, especially as you seem to prefer YouTube over Commons, therefore giving our readers' private information to Google. I do see the text: "This 4-minute video is hosted by YouTube under its Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. If you prefer, watch on Wikimedia Commons." but please, please — if you're ever going to use videos in fundraising banners, make sure to load Commons videos and use proprietary services as backup options, not the other way round. odder (talk) 20:02, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
  3. Why does the table at p. 22, Quarterly Breakdown of the Annual Plan, contain a 42 M$ revenue in Oct.-Dec. and basically nothing for the rest of the year (assuming #April-June 2013 revenue is still current), despite other parts of the plan vouching for an across-the-year fundraising? --Nemo 23:07, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    I don't know, and should have caught this. It needs at least an in-line explanation. Thank you, SJ talk  03:37, 20 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
  4. The biggest doubt I have on the annual plan as whole is that I can't find any explanation on why WMF's own spending is expected to increase by about 30 % (+10 M$), while head-count staff increase is "only" 15 %. Even after detracting a few millions for one-time and/or non-wage expenses mentioned here and there, I'm unable to understand the gap. Some GAAP numbers for the spending breakdown could help understanding with less guesswork. My current best guess here is that we'll see a major outsourcing to other entities as in India, for the new Global South countries the WMF says to be going to work on; or that there's some major undetected operating expense somewhere (perhaps Tampa decommissioning?); I'm too tired to conduct a cross-checking of the various sections. --Nemo 23:07, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    Perhaps that is the result of basing salaries on the tech sector instead of the nonprofit sector? 21:14, 16 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
    Hi Nemo, there is no major 'outsourcing' to other entities intended this coming year, other than shifting the Brazil catalyst project into a partnership grant, as we did in India with CIS (and this is completing a process begun in the last fiscal year). Our Global South strategy is meant to be light-weight and agile, based on working with the existing communities, to see how we can support them better through grants and other resources, and partnering - if appropriate, high potential and in consultation with the community - with allied organisations in pilot projects. ASengupta (WMF) (talk) 15:33, 19 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

"reasonable compensation near the mid-point of the tech sector"[edit]

Page 26 of the 2013-4 Annual Plan says that the foundation has "optimized Wikimedia's value proposition [with] reasonable compensation near the mid-point of the tech sector". How much of a change to previous compensation scales pegged to the nonprofit sector does that represent in percentage terms? 20:28, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

I haven't done the number crunching on the %, but what we know is that we've been doing a good job of bringing in people closer to the midpoint of salary ranges as benchmarked by Radford against for-profit tech companies base salaries and then making sure people we brought in earlier aren't falling behind through appropriate adjustments to get to a baseline of internal equity so that we can go forward with ongoing merit adjustments for performance. Gyoung (talk) 15:03, 11 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Good, especially the internal equity: does it apply internationally too, or does it apply only to SF/USA staff? (I've no idea if Radford has data on all countries.) Is this the reason for #4 in the section above? --Nemo 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

"# of experiments: Done"[edit]

I don't understand the counting method for the E3 experiments (which leads to «a total of 12 A/B tests and 4 cohort analyses across a total of six projects»), is it defined somewhere? --Nemo 20:48, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

I counted it this way:
So a total of 16. An A/B test was something with a control group ran during a fixed time period. A cohort study was any time we did data analysis on a select group of editors who were impacted by an experiment like onboarding, but we didn't have a control group. We counted both these types of analysis toward the goal because they all are based on interventions by the team aimed at bringing in active editors. So for an example, a survey would not be counted, but an experiemnt with emails to donors inviting them to edit is, even if it wasn't a test with a control group. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 21:50, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Number of uploaders and unexplained correlations[edit]

«During March 2013, a total of 20,176 contributors made a least one upload to Commons. It is possible the target of 25,000 contributors by June 2013 will be reached» (p. 7): I don't see said growth on stats:wikispecial/EN/TablesWikipediaCOMMONS.htm#uploader_activity_levels and number don't match, explanations? There's a slight increase in March compared to February, but it's same number as January, less than October and basically negligible compared to the September increase provided by Wiki Loves Monuments. Additionally, it's not explained how the supposed growth correlates to "incremental usability improvements" rather than e.g. WLM itself (which could be partly verified by checking how many of the uploaders of each month have taken part into WLM), or other chapter programs. --Nemo 21:01, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

The "It is possible" phrase could be dropped - it didn't happen, as you mention, and was within the fiscal year, so it's no longer a question of possible/not possible (as of the time of publication), it simply didn't happen. SJ talk 
Sure, the annual plan is a 4+ months old document in all its parts, see "Time mismatches" above; but the stats don't show the "20,176 contributors" figure either, it's not a matter of future. --Nemo 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply


«We pushed out more information about the projects to more people than ever before, increasing our number of blog posts by roughly 10%»: non sequitur or misleading, there are no stats on blog visits AFAIK. --Nemo 21:13, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Actually there are. While it's true that the blog's earlier stats function was deactivated, and that the blog has not yet been plugged into the general WMF Analytics infrastructure, we have had EventLogging-based pageview stats for several months now (as may have been inferred from the presence of [6] in the blog's HTML). However, they are not accessible in a user-friendly way yet - eventually, the information should make its way into Limn somehow. Regards, Tbayer (WMF) (talk) 00:56, 10 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Very good, I heard something was moving but didn't understand it had been implemented. When does data start, and does it confirm/provide the claim above on increased readership? --Nemo 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Cost of Wikivoyage[edit]

Legal etc. etc. is said to have spent 914 k$ «Over budget due to unforeseen one-time legal costs related to Internet Brands and the start-up of Wikivoyage, as well as the Wikim[edia] UK governance review». Assuming the governance review didn't cost almost a million dollars, this would mean that the legal costs for Wikivoyage amounted to hundreds thousands dollars. Wikivoyage is also mentioned as a big cost for the Engineering department. Can we get an approximate figure of how much Wikivoyage cost the WMF? --Nemo 21:52, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

I would like to see that split out also. I'm not sure that "notable as a self-contained project" is the same as "a big cost", but an estimate would be handy for the next time we're thinking about whether and how to adopt or launch a new sister project. SJ talk 
Thanks, let's wait for figures.
As for engineering, I meant this passage: «supporting a complex migration of existing heterogeneously configured wikis onto Wikimedia servers» which to me translates as "big cost" (big effort), as confirmed by the numerous monthly engineering reports mentioning this and that staffer being absorbed by Wikivoyage migration. (Now by the way Wikidata team is also being absorbed by Wikivoyage stuff despite other existing Wikimedia projects being equally easy to support, but that's offtopic.) Not all prospective projects have so many extensions and hacks and project versions to adapt, but yes it's a matter of 1) knowing what we did and the consequences of our choices (someone thought it was going to be a zero-dollar initiative; I was pessimist but I surely never thought of one million figures), 2) learning and not being scared to make more choices in the future. --Nemo 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
The legal fees in the cases involving Internet Brands were just short of $350,000. This involved the costs for the defense of two Wikimedians, and the law suit against Internet Brands by WMF in San Francisco. That representation resulted in a favorable settlement for WMF. Details may be found here. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:46, 15 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Just for clarification, the $914,000 variance from budget was a projection that at this point is overstated, as is was mitigated by cost savings. The current variance from budget for Legal & Community Advocacy, Communications, Human Resources, Finance and Administration is $296,661 as of May 31, 2013. The Internet Brands litigation was tracked as a special cost item which Geoff has shared as just under $350,000 and is part of the variance from budget that was mitigated by cost savings. We do not have cost for Engineering for the Wikivoyage integration, as it was not tracked as a special cost item in Engineering.--Gbyrd (talk) 23:52, 15 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Gentlemen, we were expecting that the responses to our questions on this by private email for the Signpost, about to be published, wouldn't be broadcast on-wiki beforehand. I'm ditching it from our coverage now, that's for sure. Tony (talk) 12:17, 18 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thank you both. For the sake of completeness I hope engineering can make an estimate of the cost for them (in terms of FTE or whatever, not necessarily dollars) too, even though it has no relevance for the official financial statements and reports of course. Hopefully future (hypothetical) cases will be less legal-intensive and engineering costs will be more relevant. --Nemo 21:40, 16 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
It would be interesting and potentially useful to know what the estimated/budgeted costs were, and where the actual costs differed. This could help with future decisions. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 06:33, 18 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Just a thank you to all involved here, I read this information with high interest. Not that I had a certain need or use for it, just being curious, especially I was very much in favour in setting up Wikivoyage as a Wikimedia project. Hence I think I should know about the consequences my (among many others) support / request in this matter had. Thank you for Nemo and SJ coming up with these questions and Geoff and Garfield for responding promptly with relevant data and links. --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 10:00, 17 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Whew, that's hard to hear. An enormous thank you to the WMF on my part and on behalf of all Wikivoyagers, and hopefully on behalf of all those who seek to explore the world, and those who support free culture and the basic human right to freedom of speech. That goes too for all the Wikimedians who supported the decision to integrate Wikivoyage into this incredible movement. We obviously have a debt to repay, and I hope we'll live up to that promise both in terms of making this project the best it can be, and helping out with fundraising ;) --Peter Talk 18:29, 17 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Ditto what Peter said. It's horribly disheartening that there was litigation over the formation of Wikivoyage, and even more discouraging that it was as costly as it was. That said, I'll be grateful for the remainder of my days for WMF's support - I admired the WMF before going through that ordeal, but having experienced firsthand their commitment to their core principles I'm a lifelong supporter. Wikivoyage has advanced tremendously since launching as a WMF project, and hopefully it will soon reach a point that more than justifies the initial investment. -- Ryan • (talk) • 20:01, 17 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
A parte with now-blocked user

Oy. Lets be really frank here. What's done is done, the money is spent. But let this PLEASE inform us about how not to allocate donated dollars in the future. As to the legal fees: this was all entirely voluntary on the part of the Foundation's board. WM did not have to defend itself against *anything*. It was never sued. It spent this money to defend a pair (?) of people who were not even wiki yet. Voluntarily. Then it spent more donated dollars to get a judge to say that it had a right to make a travel wiki, which NOBODY had ever even tried to dispute. This was a vast overreach and overreaction by the WMF that cost us real dollars. And as to the project itself, I'm sure its users are grateful. But what we have bought is a duplicate of an existing wiki that would have (and as far as I can tell, is) gone on chugging away with or without us. Am I missing anything? How many people are even using Wikivoyage? And, does it matter to anyone?WMtreasury (talk) 23:18, 17 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

While we are being so frank, I note that this appears to be user:WMtreasury's first and so far only edit on any WMF project. Interesting choice of name too. Not exactly calculated to have a neutral effect. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 06:22, 18 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
This account should be blocked as not appropriate. Yann (talk) 14:02, 18 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
I truly can't even believe iBobi and his thugs are still at it. Aren't we past this yet? And about the cost, that is really surprising and unfortunate, but hopefully the Wikivoyage project will be able to repay it in success. JamesA (talk) 10:39, 19 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Done, blocked and locked as an impersonation of WMF. Trijnsteltalk 18:32, 21 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Yes and IB is still trying its best to hinder the project with more ongoing legal threats. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 11:16, 19 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
At a certain stage IB ramped it up by making threatening noises towards the WMF trustees. Defending our Board's independence and all it stands for was worth every cent. Tony (talk) 13:25, 19 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Other budget shifts during the year[edit]

On mw:Wikimedia Language engineering, same page says that it's intentionally 35 % or 372 k$ «Below budget due to headcount being shifted to a different Engineering sub-department». Is a rationale available for this decision, and is there a process for communicating (intentional) shifts from the annual plan during the year? I don't remember hearing about such a decision and the annual plan is rather useless to the world if it can be intentionally disregarded without notice. --Nemo 21:52, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Other 2012-13 achievements[edit]

We identified and developed closer relationships with dozens of active, highly-credible non-English Wikimedians around the world: people who have been involved with the projects for a long time, who have not been traditionally recognized, but who regularly contribute large amounts of quality content.

This either needs clarification or I need to be pointed in the right direction, because I have absolutely no idea what this means. odder (talk) 21:53, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

I think it's the storytellers' work (to find stories useful for usage in fundraising etc.). --Nemo 22:19, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
No, actually, it's my team. LCA has done a great deal of work in figuring out who some of the "star" content providers are on certain wikis. We're just beginning, but we've had great results so far. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 01:38, 16 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Wiki Loves Monuments & Flickr[edit]

We supported the Wiki Loves Monuments launch[,] with improvements to Upload Wizard[;] and integrated Flickr import functionality into Upload Wizard.

The Flickr import functionality was not part of support for Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 launch. odder (talk) 21:58, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

The quoted sentence does not claim that it was. Regards, Tbayer (WMF) (talk) 22:12, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
How does it not claim that? "We supported Wiki Loves Monuments with (...) and integrated Flick import (...)" is clear enough, I would say. odder (talk) 22:17, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
More precise punctuation as above may convey the intended meaning. --Nemo 22:49, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
The second comma helps here, not the first. SJ talk  00:59, 10 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
It does indeed, makes me realize integrated is used a verb in that sentence, not as an adjective. Thanks, Nemo and Sj. odder (talk) 01:55, 10 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Arabic Wikipedia[edit]

«In the Arabic Wikipedia alone, during the most active months of the terms, Education Program students now make up around 10% of the active and very active editors on the project» (p. 23): number is unclear and doesn't match previous stats provided (which only mentioned very active editors), see Talk:Metrics and activities meetings/Quarterly reviews/Wikipedia Education Program/May 2013. --Nemo 23:17, 9 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Hi Nemo, sorry I missed your earlier question -- replied on the talk page where you first asked it. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 00:15, 10 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thank you very much, I read briefly a couple days ago (I now see the stats also in monthly meeting) and will get back to it soon. --Nemo 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

"VP of Product" spending?[edit]

The spending table on p.15 shows WMF spending 90% more on its "VP of Product" than on its "VP of Engineering". Since WMF only has one "VP of Engineering and Product Development", the spending category names are misleading. If these are categories for expenses outside the listed subcategories of Product and Engineering then I think they should be renamed and moved to the bottom of each set. -- S Page (WMF) (talk) 01:38, 11 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Yeah, I was confused by this, as it makes it seem like individuals are pulling down $270k and $550k. It would be nice to see the FTEs. I wrote up a comment on salaries, but I'll refrain from commenting right now (though I'll note that Google and Facebook pay average $125k). ImperfectlyInformed (talk) 02:16, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Nothing on the tables suggests that the figures in question are just about salaries, they may include e.g. the "personal budget" managers can spend rather freely for emergencies or whatever (probably not codified anywhere – the actual internal budget of WMF is not public AFAIK –, but cf. wmf:Delegation_of_authority_policy#Sub_Delegation_of_Authority). --Nemo 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

non-en-WP communities[edit]

Every time you use this term, Brion kills a server kitty. Please, think of the server kitties. odder (talk) 23:03, 11 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

You meant that Brion kills a non-en-WP server kitty. Legoktm (talk) 23:07, 11 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hm, that would mean that only a dozen s1 servers' kitties are exempt? :( --Nemo 08:00, 12 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
+1.000 File:Computer-kitten-sm.png File:Computer-kitten-sm.png File:Computer-kitten-sm.png SJ talk  06:08, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

2012 Editor Survey[edit]

The Annual Plan says "The 2012 Editor Survey found the community believes the WMF is doing a good job; when asked about seven specific activity areas of the Foundation, its general performance and the direction in which it is going, the overwhelming majority of opinions given by our users were positive. Reactions to the release of prototype versions of Visual Editor have been positive, suggesting that many community members appreciate such editor retention initiatives."

However over at Research_talk:Wikipedia_Editor_Survey_2012#How_long, we're still waiting for results to be published? John Vandenberg (talk) 11:19, 13 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

And we still are. --Nemo 21:27, 23 March 2014 (UTC)Reply


This is hard to understand: "Wikipedia Zero: Done. We have signed up five major mobile carriers (Orange, Telenor, Saudi Telecom, Vimpelcom, and Axiata) for our Wikipedia Zero program, giving free access to Wikipedia to 410 million mobile subscribers in 37 Global South countries. The program has launched in 13 of those countries, with free access available to 125 million subscribers."

Should "a potential" be inserted before 410? Otherwise it seems to say the same thing twice with different numbers. Tony (talk) 14:35, 14 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Good catch. Ideally we would also estimate how many subscribers have actually taken advantage of WP Zero, since that is a key factor in its impact. SJ talk  20:00, 16 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Memo for next year: this word "onboarding" seems to be HR-speak. There are simple alternatives (see thesaurus) that will avoid quizzical expressions by native-speakers, and recourse to dictionaries by translators. To make matters worse, it's used in two quite different contexts in the document. Tony (talk) 14:37, 14 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

I am a fan of 'induction' myself. SJ talk 

Development centers in other places outside US[edit]

Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Guiding Principles#United States, About the concentration of resources in SF, Software projects a chapter could take on

If it is difficult to attract developers to the WMF headquarters in SF at a reasonable price, why not to open other locations in cheaper areas with tech staff available at lower costs? I'm thinking of countries like Estonia, Poland, India, etc. which have an educated work force and lower standards of living. Or if it has to be in highly developed areas, it could also be somewhere in the Central Europe. For Wikidata is already working that way, could that concept be scaled? --Micru (talk) 19:37, 18 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

That is a good question. I would like to hear from the Wikidata team and others working on engineering & development on this score. It would be nice to see more wiki-development centers around the world. SJ talk  03:16, 20 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
An attractive location with potential work for the employees' partners helps recruitment. Fred Bauder (talk) 13:51, 24 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
I'm sure there are other attractive locations with potential work for the employees' partners in other places around the world. There is life outside of SF...--Micru (talk) 14:30, 24 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Stabilizing the infrastructure[edit]

Another notably missing aspect in the annual plan is the strategic goal of stabilizing the infrastructure. Apart from the small mention that «indicators (site uptime, site performance [...]) are moving in the right direction», there is nothing on what's been achieved concretely, although this is probably the only strategic goal relatively easy to measure. Does someone know how the statistics on uptime and performance have improved? Is there any goal for the next year? Is the mentioned closure of the Tampa datacentre instrumental to this goal, or unrelated? --Nemo 14:57, 3 August 2013 (UTC)Reply

Closure of the Tampa datacenter is integral to the stabilization plan. Much of the infrastructure within that datacenter has grown organically through the years, and wasn't necessarily implemented with the modern needs of the foundation in mind. Transitioning out of the Tampa datacenter, and implementing a new, modern location that implements the design philosophy of our Ashburn location, while also taking into account current and expected traffic patterns, is a significant strategic goal for the Operations team in the next year. KSnider (WMF) (talk) 21:46, 19 August 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thanks; this is clearer now with wmf:RFP/2013 Datacenter and I've added a bit to Wikimedia servers. --Nemo 09:32, 21 October 2013 (UTC)Reply

What would raising a perpetuity endowment with sustained traditional fundraising look like?[edit]

[Moved to Talk:Endowment#What would raising a perpetuity endowment with sustained traditional fundraising look like?] 21:40, 16 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Graphs are cc-by-sa?[edit]

Is it permitted to copy them onto en.WP and use in WP space, please? There's no copyright info on the description pages. Tony (talk) 15:24, 17 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

To the best of my knowledge, yes.--Gbyrd (talk) 00:11, 20 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
This was an oversight on my part when uploading; description added. I believe WMF documents and media should all be CC-BY-SA unless otherwise indicated. SJ talk  03:18, 20 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
They are, Commons even has a specific template to indicate it. --Nemo 11:34, 20 July 2013 (UTC)Reply
For this reason, not used in the Signpost's coverage, current edition. Tony (talk) 03:23, 25 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

Investing a portion of the reserve in a top-performing high yield bond fund[edit]

Investing the reserve only in extremely low-risk, low-return securities does not align well with the populist aspects of our mission (e.g., Citibank certificates of deposit earning 0.5% APR and the like) and may be a serious mistake, especially now that our fundraising capabilities have outstripped our Annual Plan needs by more than five-fold. In short, the esteem in which donors hold us and their corresponding willingness to donate far beyond our immediate need both immunizes us against greater financial risk and all but obligates us to try to get a much better return on their money.

Therefore I propose that a portion of the reserve be invested in a top-performing high-yield bond fund. An example I asked the Wikimania 2013 Board of Trustees questions panel about is PIMCO's PONDX fund, but there are at least a handful of others in its general high performance and low volatility class.

I hope someone will please ask the CFO for his opinion of the pros and cons, and for an example reserve percentage which would be most likely to meet with Board and community approval given the vast increases in fundraising capability. Without such advice and experience, the Board will be poorly prepared to make practical decisions about transitioning to a sustaining endowment and other capital-intensive projects. Moreover, investing in high-yield bonds is more helpful to aspects of the economy supporting greater employment and economic growth than investing in large Wall Street banks and Treasury securities. 03:14, 12 August 2013 (UTC)Reply



  • "P&E" or "PE" is an ambiguous acronym for this document. Matching terms used in the plan are "Product & Engineering", "Project & Event", "programmatic evaluation", "Program Evaluation".
  • «In 2014-15, the team will develop a variety of on-wiki training materials for the community, staff and Board» (p. 16): doesn't specify which board.
  • "--", used instead of n-dash or m-dash, seems to have inconsistent surrounding spacing.
  • "Nontechnical Movement Support" paragraph, p. 21: entirely duplicative of point 1 at p. 18.

Hiring scheduling[edit]

  • «In 2014-15, because there is a new Executive Director who's currently learning the organization, the WMF is stage-gating eight positions: three in Grantmaking, two in Communications, two in Finance & Administration, and one in Human Resources. The owner of the stage-gate is the Executive Director.» This is an interesting passage, worth elaborating on in the Q&A if possible. (It's rather sparse this year, which is nice because there is more space for on-demand topics.)
  • «Lift any internal administrative restrictions that may constrain technical hiring. Product and Engineering will have 35 open reqs to fill when and how they see fit.» What sort of administrative restrictions are there that can be lifted? For instance, what's the difference between these 35 positions and the 6 other non-stage-gated positions? Also, will restrictions be lifted for requisitions filled by existing contractors as well (I seem to recall some conversions were planned), or only for new hires?

--Nemo 21:12, 14 July 2014 (UTC)Reply

Policy complexity[edit]

«This has led to a significant increase of warnings and reverts for new users, even in response to contributions that would have been acceptable in the early years. There are more things that new editors have to learn, beyond the already mentioned technical complexity. Learning about all the expectations around notability, verifiability/sourcing, stylistic guidelines, etc. is a slow, incremental process, with a significant amount of negative reinforcement as the primary mechanism to guide user behavior.»

How does this fit with the recent expansion of contractual/legal/criminal burdens for editors? Nemo 21:12, 14 July 2014 (UTC) P.s.: Recent research showed a decrease of new policy creation.Reply

Measurable results[edit]

I'm still not seeing any measurable results, did I miss something? (I only noticed a character count for one program and a number of "supported contributors" for another.) Nemo 21:12, 14 July 2014 (UTC)Reply

2013–2014 financial statements[edit]

From wmf:Financial reports#2013–2014 fiscal year


  • Q&A: "what's are"?


Travel expenses[edit]

Examples of travel and conferences expenses for this fiscal year include:

Wikimania*** - $446,267; Board - $122,813; Fundraising - $141,598; Grantmaking & Programs - $404,343; and Product & Engineering - $722,358.

Do you expect there will be some savings in the Product & Engineering area after WMF stopped organising/attending large events in India (e.g. 20 WMF persons in November 2013)? --Nemo 22:26, 13 October 2014 (UTC)Reply

Our overall cost for travel will stay the same or grow as a result of the increase in staff in Engineering that may be traveling this fiscal year.GByrd (WMF) (talk) 19:37, 16 October 2014 (UTC)Reply

Investment income[edit]

From 17,422 to 243,707. \o/ Though with quite some internal fluctuations. --Nemo 22:26, 13 October 2014 (UTC)Reply

Restricted donations[edit]

A while ago the Wikimedia Foundation stated an intention to reduce restricted donations and other big (financial) donations.

«Other liabilities includes $1,136,588 of grant funds held for the Wiki Education Foundation (WEF), which the Foundation acts as a fiscal sponsor until the WEF receives its 501(c)3 exempt status.» [I assume that's a subset of what (5) Net Asset at p. 11 calls the "Sloan Foundation – Bolster Wikipedia’s Readership & Editors"?] Considering this, the total restricted assets are practically stable around 2 millions, while in 2013 they had decreased by about 3 millions.

Does the Wikimedia Foundation aim to keep the amount of restricted assets stable, or what other strategy/goal is being followed?

Also, there was a slight increase in concentration here: «As of June 30, 2014, three contributions comprised 8%, 13%, and 79% of contribution receivable. As of June 30, 2013, three contributions comprised 15%, 36%, and 49% of contribution receivable.» Is that a problem? Will there be more big donors? --Nemo 22:26, 13 October 2014 (UTC)Reply



Is there a plan towards the annual plan? When will the first drafts be available? I notice the subject page says we were previously told «the first drafts will be shared after March 31, 2015». --Nemo 17:55, 4 April 2015 (UTC)Reply

The calendar has been updated, so the first version of the budget is not due until April 23, 2015.--GByrd (WMF) (talk) 15:52, 6 April 2015 (UTC)Reply

Thanks. That's a tight schedule! --Nemo 18:33, 6 April 2015 (UTC)Reply
Too tight, it seems, since, with no further updates here or elsewhere, the draft was not published until 25 May, leaving the community with four days to comment on it. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:06, 2 June 2015 (UTC)Reply

Cost of hosting[edit]

Washington Post believes that 2.5 M$ are «enough money to power Wikipedia’s servers for 66 straight weeks», i.e. that hosting costs are 2 M$/year. What are they referring to, perhaps the "internet hosting costs" present in some financial statements? At this point, the WMF should probably stop hiding and release an official figure for a possible "keep lights on mode". Nemo 08:12, 3 December 2015 (UTC)Reply

Budget for years 2017-2020[edit]

I'm considering donating, but before I do, I want to know how my money will be spent. A cursory look implies Wikimedia is doing quite well without my paltry donation, but the ads imply otherwise. Therefore I need more information to make an informed decision.

  1. I can't seem to find the budget recommendations for years after 2016. Do they exist, and why aren't they here?
  2. Aside from the budget recommendations, are there also links for budget actuals? Tsilb (talk) 17:35, 23 October 2019 (UTC)Reply