Wikimedia Conference 2013/Documentation/Day 2/WMF board

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Edit/merge to your/etherpad's notes at wish.


WMF board[edit]

Updates from the board[edit]

  • Kat: boring meeting, pleased to say there are no surprises for the audience.
  • Stu: been to a session on peer review among the chapters led by Fae (example with WMEE), very nice thing to do and something we've been talking about for a while, apart from the WMF with its duty to protect the trademarks.
  • Jan-Bart: thanks to those who engaged with the FDC process asking questions and giving feedback.
  • Patricio: at the next round the WMF will help the FDC applicants to improve their requests for about 4 months.
  • Bishakka: this is the first WMCON with several prospective thematical organizations; there's been discontent about their naming and the 4 criteria proposed by Geoff and I've been unsure too; thinking about it more, we should reflect more to avoid more confusion and lawsuits like those we've seen, and reach an understanding if not an acceptance of the criteria.
  • Sj: the FDc tries to assess the state of the movement but we should work on having an understanding of what part of the map each group is working on across all our many projects.
  • Lizzy: we're trying to do something important this year, trying to establish models for evaluation and more factual reflection on what helps our mission and less emotional reactions. It's easy to take a number forgetting what it means, we need more discussion.
  • Jimbo: last month for first time 500+ million people visiting Wikimedia projects. Let's remember our vision.



Could there be multi-year funding from the WMF?[edit]

  • Jan-Bart: everyone would like stability but it's the exception rather than the norm.
  • Jimbo: have plans with multiple escape routes along the way; if 3-year funding, assess it after a year.
  • Stu: what matters is impact; that's the question, not "do we need an office?" etc.
  • Sj: yes there could be.
  • Bishakka: something to think about (also on FDC's end).

Do you organise directly wikimedia-related activities?[edit]

  • Patricio: I did it in the past but now leave it to the chapter.
  • Bishakka: I do in Mumbai, I'm part of a community (WikiWomen workshop etc.). Interesting: negotiating boundaries between being a community and a board member.
  • Lizzy: yes, e.g. last year workshops for administrators, OTRS etc. Really important to have people spending time around a table to reflect like that, although hard to do movement-wide.
  • Jan-Bart: no, no time.
  • Kat: no (not good at booking restaurants etc.) but I attend everything possible.
  • Jimbo: not directly, but instigating.
  • Sj: yes, mainly crossovers between Wikipedia and OCLC/libraries/hackers.
  • Stu: no, but audit committee.

Narrowing focus: how is the process going and what will the impact on it of Sue leaving?[edit]


  • Kat: going quite well. Our problem, having too many good ideas; focus on what we can do better with less confusion. Chapters doing good stuff too. The new ED will have to work in this framework.
  • Jan-Bart: related to the long-term funding, having much money doesn't mean we have to spend it all or do many things.

What do you think about the WCA evolutions? Does WMF want a seat on it?[edit]


  • Lizzy: reorganization was quite impressing, and for instance the WMEE peer review was a good example of what the WCA could do to support chapters in a simple way without building huge monsters of bureaucracy.
  • Jan-Bart: happy to see a different strategy and not focusing on theoretical problems but on energizing all chapters (including non-members). There's also space for more initiatives. Personal opinion: see no need to be part of the council, but I would if this (all the audience) was the council.
  • Stu: all orgs should be supporting volunteers in some way having an impact. If they want to work together and improve this I'm all for it but I want to see results.

How do you engage with the community?[edit]


  • Ting: I help resolve problems/conflicts in the Chinese Wikipedia.
  • Patricio: sysop, helped with first weeks of es.voy, WMAR (and other chapters) activities where I'm invited.
  • Lizzy: check watchlist daily and sometimes take part in the boring discussions, but not contribute content: others do it better, everyone has a place; I regularly meet wikimedians in Germany and international meetings (like EU policy).
  • Jan-Bart:
  • Kat: still read all mailing lists, correcting mistakes when found, questions about CC problems asked to CC put me in contact with many wikipedians.
  • Jimbo: very active on especially ArbCom but also conversations with people from other communities, I'm better at this than at Stu's boring stuff.
  • Bishakka: always in contact with volunteers in all ways: meetings, Facebook, phone, whatever.
  • Sj: spend a lot of time helping newbies.
  • Stu: 99.9 % of our volunteers are not in part of/contact with any of our orgs (we don't hear from them) and that's fine.
  • Sj: we all are volunteers here in this room, except few.
  • Jan-Bart: will be 103th WMPH member.

Where are you hiding? In these days you've been trenched, is Sue even in Milan?[edit]


  • Jan-Bart: we've not done it on purpose.
  • Sj: maybe there's no visibility, but we've been talking a lot about the ED transition.

How do you help people from the Global South? How do you define it geographically?[edit]


  • Bishakka: lovely question, no way to define. The WMF engineering has been doing several things to make it easier to edit from the GS (e.g. from mobile), but this is a question for the all of us not only for the WMF.
  • Patricio: impossible to define but it's not important as long as we know what we need.
  • Stu: North vs. South false dychotomy, true question is where we don't have lively communities and we need to support.
  • Asaf: my title includes the GS term, we're having a conversation about it.



  • Jimbo: definitely yes, we're getting more experience. As chapters get stronger and better funded it's normal that some things go wrong. Some uncertainties will work themselves out with time.
  • Kat: WMF is still a young org defining its process and it's natural to change, but it can only get more stable in the future.
  • Jan-Bart: I agree. Try to give less surprises to each other, talk and consult more.
  • Patricio: a good surprise was the first round of FDC, beyond any expectations.
  • Stu: what's amazing is how conservative revolutionaries are, many people think we shouldn't be changing anything. Reality is different from 5 years ago and 5 years from now. We have to evolve, can't do things the same way.

Global middle: what are the plans to support middle-income countries?[edit]


  • Patricio: GS has some definition, but this doesn't.
  • Kat: GS/GN just arbitrary terms, the question doesn't make sense because the term doesn't; we should be doing what's needed for each country, case by case.
  • Jimbo: GS is just a term to make us think about what we need to do. A country can be very poor but have a language with a very well developed Wikipedia (e.g. Spanish).
  • Stu: raise participation.
  • Lizzy: we're all on the same page, we need to help those who need it but we don't cut off the projects we still have as it sometimes feel.

Does the WMF have a special plan for gendergap in next year[edit]


  • Jan-Bart: we don't manage this [asks Sue]. Please pay attention to programs on this.
  • Kat: no particular position, it's part of the goals of the movement and of everybody's job and it's something to consider in all funding requests etc.
  • Ting: chapters has many projects on this, it's a goal for all of us.

Does Santa Claus really exist[edit]


  • Kat: check Wikipedia!

What is the value chapters are bringing to the movement, and what is it for other orgs like Th.Org. in comparison?[edit]


  • Sj: chapters do the same things across all geographies, unlike thematical organisations, and they work with the institutions managing most of the world's knowledge, critical for the content of our projects.

Will the WMF support the cration of a palestinian chapter?[edit]


  • Jimbo: definitely yes, we're not bound to recognised nation-state status (e.g. Taiwan, NY); it just depends on what volunteers find useful and it would be nice to have good people just working together.
  • Stu: I agree.

It's possible that Wikipedia will be blocked in Russia after rejecting deletion of some articles, what do you think?[edit]


  • Jimbo: important question. We want to improve bad articles but often governments don't want good and neutral information. This reminds us how powerful we are and how the public wants what we provide and support us. We can embarass governments, while not getting people enprisoned. We can get everything possible, not give in and don't make it too easy to take down some information, resist as much as possible; it's a local communities' decision even if someone disagrees, but be very careful. This all a personal say. [1]
  • Kat: we know what our mission is and it's not for the short-term but for the long-term. Speak to those principles we really believe on as a community. Sticking to it is very hard but we are in a unique position to show what's wrong with some horrible policies etc. [2]

Delphine: how's the search for a new board member going?[edit]


Lizzy: we're on a good way: large bunch of candidates, we had several interviews, we have a favourite candidate and we need to figure out if it's the best choice, you'll hear at Wikimania.

Is the visual editor the most crucial tool to support the community?[edit]


  • Jimbo: there are a lot of things we can do, the visual editor is important but we should also try several different things and we often have too many fears, the WMF should be allowed to try some bad ideas. Be experimental, try things and see if they work or not based on data.
  • Kat: people ask this question a lot. In 2004 I liked the interface, but we need to reach new people. Let's try what works.
  • Sj: the WMF should provide a way to test changes quickly and give feedback, it can't take a month to implement something and have data on it, we should be able to spin off and test different versions.
  • Stu: bad premise, the visual editor will never be done; after 10 years we'll still be making it better.

What is the support WMF is giving to the Wikipedia Zero team and what's up?[edit]


  • Ting: Kul leads it and it's definitely one of the most important projects on the WMF's agenda.
  • Sj: Wikipedia over SMS will be very cool.
  • Jimbo: we've been good at setting it up but there was a lackof usage, we need to promote it more and the chapters can play a crucial role here; an article on the NYT will not reach the people we're aiming to.

Josh: What do people normally think when they see you're an NGO in countries where it means feeding the poors rather than sharing knowledge on Wikipedia?[edit]


  • Patricio: the NGO culture varies a lot across countries. Show what the chapter is doing, ask suggestions on how to communicate better.
  • Bishakka: serving the public good, not in the traditional way but in a way appropriate to the digital era and it's wrong where it's not recognized as such (a point for advocacy).
  • Stu: setting up a legal entity is not always needed, think of what's best for you.

Charles: We need Internal-l, what do you think?[edit]


  • Jan-Bart: I unsubscribed because most stuff didn't need to private and people were more rude than they'd normally be.
  • Stu: Internal-l is the opposite of our open values.

Bishakka: what happened to Wikipedia for cultural heritage?[edit]


Delphine: still discussing with UNESCO, they want to add it to a list we don't want.

Jan-Bart: WMPT presentation very good, how should be deal with such crises?[edit]

  • Better to show a story and what's going on rather than just numbers.
  • WMUK: individual organisation vs. the movement as a whole?
  • The balance between country- and topic-based allows us to do things together at more levels.
  • Lizzy: we talk a lot about neutral support. We have volunteers who really love what they're doing and it's their heart burning out, we must take care that we're looking to those human beings who often prioritize their work higher than their own self, and not only organisations.
  • Kat: more in general we should get better at recognizing good work.

Patricio: what happened with language- or area-based networks like USA, francophonie?[edit]

  • Schiste: let's talk about USA first, there's some francophonie stuff but it's not organized, just interaction. We want to help chapters to appear in French-speaking countries but nothing is done yet.

Charles: fundraising should also help chapter members recruitment as happened in CH[edit]

  • Jimbo: Zack dramaticlaly increased the effectiveness of fundraising and this frees up time to promote other things. We may even not need the annual fundraiser but raise money during the year. Raising chapter membership is one such possible things.
  • Jan-Bart: raised 10 M€ first part of the year.
  • Stu: idem; should turn such tools into ways to drive engagement.
  • Sj: what message would you send?
  • WMUK: e.g. geotarget to London limited to WWI articles saying to edit them.
  • Charles (WMCH): has templates to invite readers to expand lacking sections.
  • Josh: not about recruitment bur retention, WMPH banners with mixed results.
  • Sj: wonderful session. If there's something really important that you feel we're not doing get hold of us and tell us.
  • Patricio: congratulations to WMIT.