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+/- 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 [1], on the Wikimedia Meta-wiki [2], and at the Foundation's website [3]. 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.

How does the Board communicate ?

Dominoes sml.JPG

Board activities are recorded on the Wikimedia Meta-wiki [4], and on the Wikimedia Foundation's site [5]. 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 [6].

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 [7], 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 [8] in terms of information about Wikipedia. Please read it if you want information on the latest wikipedia features or anything related to wikisearch. Jimmy [9] took the opportunity to talk about free software (both in English). Also, Anthere ([10], 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" [11] sent via snail mail by Ryo and notafish.

How can I become a member of the Foundation?

Tha board made several decisions in regard to membership [12]. 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 [13]. 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 domain 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 be 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 [14].

Local chapters

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.