Where can I find information about the Foundation?
Current information about the Foundation can be found in this quartely newsletter, on the dedicated mailing list , on the Wikimedia Meta-wiki , and at the Foundation's website . The Foundation website was in active development in the early fall : major pages were set up and most were translated into 10 languages. There are currently 38 editors, native speakers of a variety of languages, registered on the Foundation's website; however the site is currently in a rather dormant phase.
Board activities are recorded on the Wikimedia Meta-wiki , and on the Wikimedia Foundation's site . Communication takes place via email, as well as, through the foundation-l mailing list, which is open to the public and publicly archived. Members of the board also frequent the #Wikimedia IRC channel on freenode .
How does the Board communicate ?
The general address, board(at)wikimedia.org, can also be used for any request. However, please be aware that this mail address is no longer a private one. All mails are redirected to a ticket system, OTRS , and may be answered either by a board member or by a few other trusted editors. The OTRS also handles mail about the German chapter, as well as requests for information in English and German.
Finally, Jimmy, Angela, and Anthere, being fearless explorers, have all started blogs. Angela’s blog is the richest one  in terms of information about Wikipedia. Please read it if you want information on the latest wikipedia features or anything related to wikisearch. Jimmy  took the opportunity to talk about free software (both in English). Also, Anthere (, in French) decided to use her blog to express her opinions, and to focus on increasing the visibility of Wikimedia projects in the French-speaking world, in the particular hope of reaching out to French-speaking Africa.
Does the Board record or publish their activities anywhere?
There have been several meetings of board members over the fall.
The board also had the opportunity to meet in real life on a few occasions: in Rotterdam in November, the day following the Wikipedian meeting; and in New York City, before the OSI meeting. Several topics were discussed, including plans for upcoming meetings, whether the Wikimedia Foundation should get involved in political advocacy, how local chapters could be more involved in WMF activity, and free discussion of what the board could become in the future. All these topics were easier to discuss in real life in a youth hostel lounge than on irc or by mail.
Life with the board
Michael and Tim Shell were not very active this trimester, although Michael helped with the financial considerations after the last fundraiser.
The past months have been very busy for Angela, Jimbo and Anthere, with many good wikipedian meetings (please, see the Meetings report), and interviews with newspapers, websites and radio stations for all board members. Wikipedia is becoming famous now, and our project raises a lot of interest.
Jimbo and Angela spent 2 weeks at the BBC (please, see the special report on this), while Anthere was moving into a new house (with plenty of room and a garden but no phone line and no internet connection for several weeks). Anthere was able to keep in touch and active, thanks to her workplace internet connection, and random visits to the local university computer lab, but she had no opportunity to satisfy her true wikipediholism or to access IRC.
Anthere appreciated support during her forced vacation, and suggests that all wikiholics use the "Wikipatch"  sent via snail mail by Ryo and notafish.
How can I become a member of the Foundation?
The board made several decisions in regard to membership . The board's vision of membership changed, after much thought and discussions with Wikimedia editors.
Initially, it was imagined that much of the income supporting the project would come from subscribing membership fees. Hence, initial plans set membership fees rather high (about 100 dollars.) However, some board members and many editors were not in favor of such a high amount, and it became clear that most Foundation income could come from other sources. Additional discussions led to subscribing membership fees being set at US$36 (for non-editors) and US$12 (reduced).
Additionally, discussions with Jamesday and Kate changed the volunteer membership status from being the default status of editors, to being opt-in. The technical development of a membership system will be worked out over the coming months.
Are developers currently being paid?
In July 2004, the Wikimedia developers were polled about the feasibility of a bounty system for development tasks. This led the board to try out a system of payment and other rewards for developers who choose to work on particular tasks. The board suggested a four month trial run before stepping back and evaluating the system.
In the past three months, the board has proposed one task, related to the membership system development -- a task of primary interest to the Foundation itself, and thus, unlikely to be controversial. More than two months after the proposal, Tim Starling made an offer, which was accepted in late November. The feature will be developed against a certain amount of money, at the end of 2004 or in early 2005. No other proposal has been made by the board; one other suggestion was offered by a developer, but has been discarded.
This suggests that the prospect of being paid per task is not a strongly motivation for our developer team. Details of the trial run are available at . All Wikimedia contributors will be encouraged to evaluate it when it is over.
What is going on with domain names?
Jason Richey at Bomis has the full list of names that are registered to the Foundation. Some domains in other countries are owned by other people; for instance, GerardM looks after a few .nl domain names. The french domain name www.wikipedia.fr was taken over by a cybersquatter in fall of 2004. The French wikipedians have decided not to do anything on the matter for now, and the cybersquatter gently redirected the domain to wikipedia, himself. However, the Russian domain name, www.wikipedia.ru, is, unfortunately, being used to make cash by its cybersquatter.
Over the next trimester, decisions will bes made regarding which domains to acquire. Many editors would prefer that the domains of all projects be bought for their country's top-level domain; however, the cost of buying so many names is too high for that to be sustainable. The board hopes that registering its trademarks will help alleviate this issue.
Privacy on Wikimedia projects
As requested by several editors, a long overdue privacy statement is under development and should be finalized and translated during the first trimester of 2005. Please do not hesitate to comment on it .
Anthere was involved in the creation of the French chapter, Wikimédia France (see the special report on this), and is now part of its board. This became the second of two local Wikimedia chapters, which are based on very different legal constructions, and emphasize the diversity of options for chapters. The French chapter is a legal representative of the Wikimedia Foundation in France. The French and German chapters are both legally based in a country, rather than on a language. However, both wish to expand their activity beyond the borders of their respective countries.
Several other projects have discussed the creation of a local chapter in the past few months, most notably the Dutch and Italian wikipedias. Some editors are interested in the creation of chapters based on languages rather than nations, or even a European chapter.
The Wikimedia Foundation and political involvement
Over the fall, there were discussions about the political involvement of the Foundation and of its local branch, Wikimedia France. The board would like to indicate that it does not wish the Wikimedia Foundation to support activism generally, particularly activism not directly related to Wikimedia's work. Any involvement, such as the signature of a petition, should be carefully assessed and done only with the overwhelming support of the community.
The future of the board
During the fall, the board discussed both the involvment of local chapter boards and the future of the Wikimedia board, itself. With regards to local chapters, the board is open to discussions with or proposals from the chapters' members. Please be active on this matter.
With regard to the board itself, Anthere, Angela, and Jimmy agree that the current situation is hardly sustainable. All board activity is essentially taken care of by three people, and requires the active involvement of other wikipedians to be manageable. It was suggested that the board size, or at least the number of active members, be increased.
Angela and Jimbo at the BBC
During November 2004, Angela and Jimmy worked for the BBC in London for two weeks. Everyone had a fine time, and it seemed to be a success; they have been invited to come back at some unspecified date in the future. Some of the BBC employees came to the London meetup held during those weeks. Angela describes their experience elsewhere (see Endnotes, pg. 8).
Lost Oasis and hosting
Wikimedia has a standing offer of free hosting from a webhost in France, Lost Oasis, where three new squids have recently been set up.
There were other offers of free hosting, as well, particularly while making contingency plans for the first Florida hurricane, in late August; none have yet come to fruition.
Much to the disappointment of many Wikipedians, the release by Mandrakesoft of a bilingual snapshot of the French and English Wikipedia, with an upcoming version of Mandrake Linux, has been delayed.
The intensive work to tag images and lists in preparation for these publications, which was long overdue, has provided quality improvement to the Wikipedia projects involved. You can help this effort at Wikipedia:Untagged_images.
Fall meetings of Wikipedians
- Tokyo meeting, November 8 and Nagoya meetup, November 10. See international notes.
- Berlin meeting, November.here)
- Rotterdam meeting, November. See report and pictures
- Bolzano meetup, November 27 (it and de). See international notes.
- London meeting, November.
- New York meeting, December 12. Report and pictures
- Taipei meeting (December 4). See international notes.
- Beijing Meetup. ()
- Berlin meeting, December. (). See international notes.
Wikimania 2005: The First International Wikimedia Conference  is a conference being planned for all users of Wikimedia projects (August 4 to 8, 2005). See International notes for more on the subject.
Daniel Mayer is the Chief Financial Officer. He is responsible for finances, with the oversight of Michael Davis. In particular, he is in charge of establishing our budget and balancing our books.
Donations and fundraising
Contributions from January through August, 2004, averaged 200 USD per day. A two-week fundraiser in September 2004 raised 60,000 USD, slightly more than the $50k goal. Around 10% of these contributions were made directly to the German chapter. These funds have sustained the project through the fall.
At the current rate of expenditure on bandwidth and machinery, that is enough to keep the site up and growing for four months. The next fundraising drive is planned to start early February 2005. An open meeting to discuss how else we could support the project's long-term growth is planned to take place before then.
The approved budget for Q4 2004 can be seen here: . This budget proved generous; total expenses for the quarter have only come to a little over $50k, thanks, in part, to a few in-kind donations.
The next formal budget review, including a detailed breakdown of donations since the last fundraiser, will be available in January.
One grant was obtained rather unexpectedly this fall, when the Beck Foundation suggested they would be interested in supporting a "Wikijunior" project. They gave Wikimedia a US$10,000 grant to produce content for short encyclopedia-style children's books on specific subjects. The current plan is to create content for 48-page print books, on the subjects of Geography, Animals, and Astronomy . (See the special report in the Out of the Projects section.)
In January 2005, we applied for and received a grant from the Lounsbery Foundation to 1) cover our daily operations, 2) enable us to launch our new Wikispecies project, and 3) enable us to continue improving our existing projects. We applied for around $48,000 and received $40,000.
Thank you very much for the trust offered by both Foundations.
There was also an important meeting with the Open Society Institute's Information Project in New York, during December. They invited the Wikimedia board to join them for part of their yearly board meeting, and are interested in helping Wikipedia expand in key languages and into the developing world. No specifics were decided on, but ideas for specific projects to better develop Arabic-language content or to increase the number and variety of contributors from African countries, were agreed to be particularly welcome.
Most of the below report has been written by James Day; the part on the Paris machines is largely by David Monniaux.
Information about our servers may be found any time at Wikimedia servers. Developer activity falls into two main areas: server maintenance; and development of the MediaWiki software, which is also used for many non-Wikimedia applications. Most developers (though not all, by their choice) are listed here. One may show appreciation for their dedication by thank you notes or financial support. Thank you !
Until now, all developers have been working for free, but that may change in the future in order to support our amazing growth.
Installation of Squid caches in France
The cluster near Paris.
Our servers are the three in the middle:
(from top to bottom: bleuenn, chloe, ennael.)
On December 18, 2004, 3 donated servers were installed at a colocation facility in Aubervilliers, a suburb of Paris, France They are named bleuenn, chloe, and ennael by the donor's request. For the technically-minded, the machines are HP sa1100 1U servers with 640 MiB of RAM, 20 GB ATA hard disks, and 600 MHz Celeron processors.
The machines are to be equipped with Squid caching software. They will be a testbed for the technique of adding Web caches nearer to users in order to reduce latency. Typically, users in France on a DSL Internet connection can connect to these machines with a 30 ms latency, while they can only connect to the main cluster of Wikimedia servers in Florida in about 140 ms. The idea is that users from parts of Europe will use the Squid caches in France, to reduce by 1/10 second, access delays both for multimedia content for all users and for page content for anonymous users. Logged-in users will not profit as much, since pages are generated specifically for them and, thus, are not cached across users. If a page is not in a Squid cache, or a page is for a logged-in user, the Apache web servers must take 1/5 to three or more seconds plus database time to make the page. Database time is about 1/20 second for simple things, but can be many seconds for categories, or even 100 seconds for a very big watchlist.
The Squid caches were activated in early January 2005, and an experimental period ensued. As of January 31, the machines cache English, French, and multimedia content for Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The system is still somewhat experimental, and it is expected that caching performance can be increased with some tuning. The installation of similar caching clusters in other countries is being considered.
Installation of more servers in Florida
In mid-October, two more dual Opteron database slave servers, with 6 drives in RAID 0 and 4GB of RAM, plus five 3GHz/1GB RAM Apache servers were ordered. Delays, due to compatibility problems, which the vendor had to resolve before shipping the database servers, left the site short of database power; until early December, the search function had to be turned off, at times.
In November 2004, five Web servers, four with high RAM (working memory) capacity used for Memcached or Squid caching, experienced failures. This resulted in very slow wikis at times.
Five 3GHz/3GB RAM servers were ordered in early December. Four of the December machines will provide Squid and Memcached service as improved replacements for the failing machines, until they are repaired. One machine with SATA drives in RAID 0 will be used as a testbed to see how much load such less costly database servers might be able to handle, as well as providing another option for a backup-only database slave also running Apache. These machines are equipped with a new option for a remote power and server health monitoring board at $60 extra. This option was taken for this order, to allow a comparison of the effectiveness of this monitoring board with a remote power strip and more limited monitoring tools. Remote power and health reporting reduces the need for colocation facility labor, which can involve costs and/or delays.
A further order of one master database server, to permit a split of the database servers into two sets of a master and a pair of slaves, with each set holding about half of the project activity, as well as five more Apaches, is planned for the end of the last quarter of 2004 or the first days of the first quarter of 2005. This order will use the remainder of the US$50,000 from the last fundraising drive. The database server split will allow the halving of the amount of disk writing each set must do, leaving more capacity for the disk reads needed to serve user requests. This split is intended to happen in about three months, after the new master has proved its reliability during several months of service as a database slave.
Increased traffic and connectivity
Traffic grew during the third quarter of 2004 from 450 requests per second at the start of this period to 800 per second at the end. In the early fourth quarter of 2004, that rose further, with daily peak traffic hours exceeding 1,000 requests per second (). Average bandwidth use grew from 32 megabits per second (mbps) at the start of the fourth quarter of 2004 to 43 mbps at the end. Typical daily highs were 70 mbps, sometimes briefly hitting the 100 mbps limit of a single outgoing ethernet connection. To deal with this traffic, Dual 100 megabit connections were temporarily used, a gigabit fiber connection was arranged at the Florida colocation facility, and the required parts were ordered.
There are nine active Wikimedia projects:
Memorial Wiki is currently only a 9/11 memorial of 200 pages and not a project proper.
New projects policy
Due to the multiplication of new projects and controversy over the creation of wikispecies, a procedure for starting new projects has been set at New project policy page. Wikinews was the first new project to follow this procedure, which requires an extensive description of the project, the translation of this description into several languages, an positve approval poll by the community, and a final approval by the board of the Wikimedia Foundation.
There were a few major news events this fall: the "one million-article" press release, which was picked up around the world in over ten languages; the press release about the German Directmedia CD, which was picked up widely in Germany; and the launching of Wikinews, which was heavily reported by reporters and bloggers in many languages (please, see In the Media, pg. 7).
During this trimester, it was noticed that several of the larger wikipedias, aside from the English one, were beginning to receive important media coverage. For example, the French wikipedia was the subject of several very good articles. Among them, was one in Liberation (), as well as, a very critical one in Charlie Hebdo (). On November 27th, 2004, Anthere participated in a radio interview at radio BFM (please, see ). Another radio interview occurred, featuring Yann :  in January, 2005.
For quotes from articles about Wikipedia and other projects, see "In the Media", pg. 6.
Angela, also, participated in a radio interview on BBC Radio4. Her report :
On November 17, I did my first ever radio interview for Wikipedia. It was for BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme. I didn't realise it was going to be live when I agreed to do it, but it turned out less terrifying than I imagined it might be. It was recorded at the BBC Suffolk studio in Ipswich, since the BBC Essex studios, which are closer to me, were fully booked at that time. I was invited to wait in the "Green Room" when I arrived, which wasn't as impressive as it sounds; it was a room with some sofas, drinking water, and press clippings about BBC Radio Suffolk. Shortly before the recording began, I was taken into a small studio and given some headphones, where I could hear both the programme and the editor in Manchester talking to me. I was left alone in the studio during the recording.
Bamber Gascoigne started by giving a potted history of the encyclopedia, and, then, a recording was played of a family searching for facts in a traditional encyclopedia, compared to one using the web. Michael Schmidt, an English professor at the University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology, then talked about how his students nowadays were more likely to use computers than books for their research. The presenter, Liz Barclay, asked me to distill how Wikipedia works, and I explained how the site is editable by any visitor, and how vandalism is quickly discovered and reverted. Bamber was at a studio in London, and talked about his HistoryWorld site. Bamber and Michael both felt that Wikipedia articles should be "arrested" at some point to prevent editing. But, I suggested that instead of locking articles permanently, a version of an article could be marked as stable and could be given to users who wanted that, whilst still allowing other users to edit the live article. This section of the programme lasted just under 20 minutes and concluded with Bamber saying "the idea that encyclopedias [which are printed] are reliable is nonsense".
Listen to the programme.