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Wikimedia Foundation 2011–12 Annual Report

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Wikimedia Foundation 2011–12 Annual Report[edit]

Wikimedia Foundation
149 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94105 USA
+1 415-839-6885

The Voice of the World[edit]

HALF A BILLION PEOPLE use Wikipedia and our other free knowledge projects. Today, Wikipedia is the FIFTH MOST-VISITED website in the world.

All of the other top-40 websites are private sector companies; we are the only non-profit on the list.

Each month, we generate 19 BILLION PAGE VIEWS to more than 23 million articles in 285 LANGUAGES. More than 80,000 volunteer editors regularly contribute content to Wikipedia and its sister projects.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s 125 employees support our community of editors and manage the software and technical infrastructure of our projects.

Wikipedia belongs to everyone and it’s funded by over a million donors from every part of the world.

Your support[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation is supported the same way Wikipedia is written: with millions of small contributions. That keeps us independent and able to deliver what readers need and want from Wikipedia. Which is exactly as it should be.

Financial contributions 2011–12
A total of 1,130,700 people donated the equivalent of more than $30 million US dollars in over 80 currencies.

Volunteer contributions 2011–12
Individual contributors made 139.4 million edits, added 3.3 million Wikipedia articles, and uploaded 2.9 million images, audio files and video files.

Total cash expenditures in 2011-12
$27 million
in US dollars


Global collaboration starts with a thriving community of volunteers and a streamlined platform that makes contributing to our projects faster and easier. The Foundation works with our community to better understand the challenges our volunteers face in making a project like Wikipedia. Through research initiatives, simplified software, and broad outreach, we're working to increase the size of our editing community and to support the long-term growth of our projects.

Visual Editor[edit]

The Foundation began developing a visual editor in 2011–12; it will launch in 2012–13. Our research tells us that the need to learn wiki markup is a substantial barrier for people who might otherwise edit Wikipedia, and so the visual editor will eliminate the need for it, making the editing experience much easier and more natural.

Wikipedia Education Program[edit]

In 2011–12, at more than 100 universities in 25 countries, professors assigned their students to develop and improve Wikipedia articles as part of their coursework. Instead of writing essays that would have been read by only a few people and then forgotten, these students made Wikipedia better for readers around the world. The professors say teaching Wikipedia editing skills is a good way for students to gain topic expertise, to improve their information-processing abilities, and to become more conscientious world citizens.

Editor Engagement[edit]

Editor engagement projects encourage participation in the Wikipedia community. They include work aimed at keeping existing editors, as well as engaging new contributors.

This year we launched the Article Feedback Tool (AFT), a new way to involve Wikipedia readers and encourage contributions. AFT helps editors improve articles based on reader comments and provides a low-barrier way for readers to join our community. We also developed new Page Curation software to help the volunteer editors who each day check thousands of new articles for quality. It includes the New Pages Feed, an overview of newly created pages annotated with information that helps to assess them more efficiently.

With our Editor Engagement Experiments, we seek ways to attract and retain new Wikipedia editors through small, rapid improvements. We use a data-driven approach, deploying trial versions of features, measuring their effectiveness at engaging and retaining contributors, and then iterating based on the results. Recent projects include new types of notifications on the site and redesigning core experiences like account registration.


The Foundation focused this year on meeting the next generation of global Internet users where they are accessing our projects: on their mobile phones. That means supporting the thousands of different devices in use today. We want to deliver free knowledge to all the world’s mobile devices, from the most basic mobile phones to the latest smart phones and tablets. We’re partnering with global telecommunications operators and redeveloping our mobile platforms with an eye to the next billion users.

Wikipedia Zero[edit]

Mobile devices now allow hundreds of millions of people around the world access to the Internet, but the cost of mobile data remains a significant obstacle for many who would benefit most from that access. Under an initiative called Wikipedia Zero, the Foundation is making deals with global telecommunications operators, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, to offer Wikipedia for free to their subscribers. So far, operators in 28 countries with a total of 205 million customers have signed up. Wikipedia Zero aims to significantly expand in 2012–13.

Mobile Engineering[edit]

In 2011–12 the Foundation continued developing our mobile web offering, launching a new mobile site, better device detection software and an Android app. Future mobile apps are in development. In April 2012 we exceeded 2 billion monthly page views to the Wikipedia mobile site, which represents an increase of 187 percent over the previous year. As of June 2012 the mobile site attracted 2.1 billion page views, about 12 percent of all page views for Wikipedia. Mobile traffic is growing even faster in Portuguese (primarily Brazil, from 5 million to 24.9 million); in Arabic (from 2 million to 11.4 million); and in Turkish (from 1.3 million to 8.1 million).

Language Support[edit]

A dedicated team at the Foundation is working with our global community to ensure that Wikipedia and its sister projects are able to support hundreds of languages. This year we developed interfaces for non-Latin scripts (such as Hindi), and right-to-left scripts (such as Arabic), user interfaces for language tools like the Universal Language Selector and the Translate extension, and a collaborative, on-wiki translation system for our projects.


Our global community of volunteers is rapidly changing, much in the same way our projects continue to evolve. The Foundation is working with our chapters, affiliates and volunteers to develop new ways to bring resources and technology to bear on the big ideas in our community. We're also testing new theories and concepts relating to the challenges our community faces, and bringing new data and insights to our technical and programmatic work.

Wikimedia Lab[edit]

Launched in October 2011, the new Wikimedia Labs are opening up access to our site infrastructure as widely as possible. In this cloud computing environment, volunteer operations engineers can work with an exact replica of the live server system, and thus contribute directly to improving the computing and networking infrastructure of a top-5 website. Like the source code of our MediaWiki software, we have published our complete server configuration files (minus sensitive data like passwords), enabling other sites on the Internet to learn from the solutions that Wikimedia engineers have found over the years to handle a gigantic amount of traffic on a shoestring budget.

FDC and Grantmaking[edit]

Launched in March 2012, the volunteer-driven Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) helps the Foundation make decisions about how to effectively allocate funds inside the Wikimedia movement, with the goal of helping the movement achieve its mission, vision and strategy. Via this new process, eligible entities in the Wikimedia movement submit funding requests, which are publicly posted and reviewed by the FDC for strategic fit and potential impact. The FDC is a team of seven volunteers from seven countries and eight Wikimedia projects, speaking 13 languages, and with long track records in the Wikimedia movement, including governance at five chapters. Through the FDC process, nearly $10 million will be distributed during the 2012–13 fiscal year. The Foundation also supports an active smaller grants program that distributes funds to individuals and groups. In 2011–12, 54 grants totaling over $1.1 million were distributed to 39 organizations and projects supporting the Wikimedia mission. The launch of the FDC is a big step forward for the Wikimedia movement in devolving power to volunteers, and increasing transparency, collaboration and accountability.


In 2011–12, our servers handled more than 6,000 page requests per second. Since 2001, they have been faithfully storing every single edit to the projects — a total of 1.7 billion. Every year we are supporting thousands of updates and bug fixes for the open source MediaWiki software. The world relies on this critical infrastructure and our team works 24/7 to keep it running at peak performance.

Data Centers[edit]

The vast content of Wikipedia and its sister projects used to be stored in only one primary data center in Florida, and served to the world with the assistance of a single caching center. To better protect more than a decade of work by Wikipedia editors, and to enable our half billion readers to access it faster and more reliably, we have been building out a second primary data center in Virginia, bringing the total number of servers to 800 in this fiscal year.


This year the Operations team at the Foundation achieved 99.98 percent up-time for our readers with a fraction of the staff of any other top web property (up-time for editors was 99.88 percent).

Legal and Community Advocacy[edit]

The Foundation supports our projects with our Legal and Community Advocacy team by defending them against legal threats, monitoring legislative initiatives that might harm them, and assisting the community with other critical legal matters. In 2011–12 we revised Wikimedia’s terms of use via an open and collaborative drafting process, in which 120 issues were raised and resolved over a period of more than three months.

I’m a volunteer. No one pays me. But helping edit Wikipedia has become my life’s work. Even though I’m not in the classroom, I’m still doing what I care about most: helping a new generation of students learn, in the language I love.
— Poongothai Balasubramanian, Wikipedian

Wikipedia’s victory was getting the rules — and importantly, the rules for making rules — right, and trusting that the process would lead to substance.
— Ethan Zuckerman, researcher and entrepreneur

And I tell myself every time I contribute to Wikipedia, I’m building a library. I’m able, from my couch, to build a library every day of the year.
— Andrea Zanni, Wikipedian

Wikipedia is perhaps one of the few truly global endeavors that really brings together people from all races, religions, nationalities, points of view.
— Alfonso Luna, donor

I still maintain that this Wikipedia project made a world of difference in being able to write well. And unlike a term paper, which is thrown away at the end of the semester, all the work that goes into a Wikipedia article continues to help people even after the class ends.
— Karl Whalen, student

"Das größte Werk der Menschen" ("The Greatest Work of Human Beings")
— Headline in Die Zeit, Germany’s largest weekly newspaper, on an article about Wikipedia, January 2011

For me, Wikipedia underscores an evolutionary lesson: We’ve always gotten farther as a species collaborating than going it alone.
— Mariette DiChristina, science journalist

It’s not just about getting something working for next week, it’s about keeping Wikipedia healthy for the next decade, for the next generation.
— Ryan Kaldari, Wikimedia Foundation developer

This is my wish and one of my dreams and many peoples dreams to make a real change in the world, to make a difference in the world. I think Wikipedia gave me this chance to make a huge difference in this world. It’s like an investment for your future, for your children’s future.
— Ravan Jaafar, Wikipedian