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Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2023-2024/Goals/Infrastructure

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Advance Knowledge as a Service

Improve User Experience on the wikis, especially for established editors and functionaries. Strengthen metrics and reporting.

Overview: Building the infrastructure of Knowledge as a Service[edit]

The work we do at the Wikimedia Foundation has many purposes, and has been described as supporting a socio-technical ecosystem. Within that ecosystem, the Product & Technology department provides critical services, designs and launches new products, and innovates in areas like machine learning and internet-based collaboration. This year, the Foundation is recentering its plan around Product & Technology, emphasizing our unique role as a platform for people and communities collaborating on a massive scale.

As we think about both multi-year strategic planning and this year's annual plan, we are identifying core areas of work that extend from Wikimedia's historic success, advance Movement Strategy recommendations, and provide clear, visible roadmaps to stakeholders internally and externally. The arrival of our new Chief Product & Technology Officer also presents an opportunity to tackle long-standing technical questions, like:

  • what lodestar metrics should we use to measure the impact of the Foundation and the health of societies of volunteers,
  • how to responsibly steward the limited resources we have towards Wikipedia and/or the sister projects, and
  • how to ask and answer significant questions about the future of MediaWiki.

To focus the work of the Product & Tech department going forward, we assigned wranglers (Product & Technology department leaders who determine priorities) to "buckets" of work for planning purposes. These groups of wranglers identified objectives and key results (OKRs) at our highest levels through our planning process. After defining OKRS, we then gave teams the opportunity to define the work that would be most impactful. Roadmaps will be created from this process and iterated on over the course of the fiscal year. The "buckets" and OKRs were published on-wiki for early-stage community input and discussion.

About half of the Product and Technology department's total resources will focus on achieving these objectives. The other half will go toward the essential "committed work" of keeping our sites up and servers up to date, defending against attacks, maintaining software (including essential tools for developers), fixing bugs, and maintaining our testing environments.

An important aspect of the "three key buckets" is that we are declaring that work within a bucket will not block work in another bucket. This means that we still consult and inform one another, and collaborate to enable work where appropriate, but teams can make a decision to move forward with plans without someone from another bucket blocking their work. This will make our work more efficient.

Also as part of our planning process, we are making a series of structural changes across the Product & Technology department. Important characteristics of the thinking behind changes include:

  • Make common sense changes to our reporting structures. Periodic review and alignment of teams with key work is required to maintain a healthy department. Areas we identified as opportunities for change included Program Management, data related teams, and our Feature Engineering teams. Each one of the changes identified carefully considers the needs of both individuals and managers so that they receive mentoring, support and sensible career growth over time, and enables the Foundation to focus our work in achieving the annual plan goals. At the director+ level, we are also moving or opening roles where needed and creating opportunities for internal growth, rather than simply backfilling any role that opens.
  • Focus more people on clear, cross-department priorities. We have produced a draft set of OKRs for next year that looks at work across the Product and Technology department, and how this work relates to all other departments at the Foundation. In some cases, like the new focus on the workflows of established editors (including those with extended rights, like admins, stewards, patrollers, and moderators of all kinds, also known as functionaries), this results in needing to make management or structural changes to support the new focus, and also deprioritize other work.
  • Increasing productive collaboration. Some decisions about management and process are designed to make decision owners more clear, direct and transparent. Thanks to increased work on collaboration, we're now raising long-standing unresolved issues between teams and systematically resolving them. There are a class of problems, however, that are due to unclear ownership, confusion about role and title, and lack of focus. Going forward, clarity of decision making and alignment of work with our most important goals is part of our criteria for how we organize teams under directors and VPs.

Budget Planning: Across the Product & Tech department, we plan on allocating an estimated 50% of our non-committed resources to Wiki Experiences, 30% to Signals and Services, 5% to Future Audiences, and the remaining 15% to Infrastructure and Product and Engineering Services.

A simple way to distinguish between the purposes of the two largest buckets are: Wiki Experiences is focused on our audiences interacting with our content through our web properties (wikis, mobile apps, tools etc.). Signals and Data Services serve audiences seeking insights into our content/metadata, making decisions on our content and services, and/or interacting with our content in structured or programmatic ways. Future Audiences will focus on experimenting with ways to invite new audiences into our Movement in direct and indirect ways.


Wiki Experiences

Signals & Data Services

Future Audiences


Foundational Infrastructure

Product and Engineering Services

Bucket: Wiki Experiences[edit]

The purpose of this bucket is to efficiently deliver, improve and innovate on wiki experiences that enable the distribution of free knowledge world-wide. Knowledge is constructed by people! As a result, our annual plan focuses on the content as well as the people who contribute to the content and those who access and read it.

Our audiences include all collaborators on our web properties, as well as the readers and other consumers of free knowledge. We support a top-10 global website, and many other important free culture resources. These systems have performance and uptime requirements on par with the biggest tech companies in the world. We provide user interfaces to wikis, translation, developer APIs (and more!) and supporting applications and infrastructure that all form a robust platform for volunteers to collaborate to produce free knowledge world-wide.

Our objectives for this bucket should enable us to:

  • Improve our core technology and capabilities.
  • Ensure we continuously improve the experience of volunteer editors and editors with extended rights (inclusive of admins, stewards, patrollers, and moderators of all kinds, also known as functionaries).
  • Improve the experience of all technical contributors working to improve or enhance the wiki experiences.
  • Ensure a great experience for readers and consumers of free knowledge worldwide.

We will do this through product and technology work, as well as through research, communications, and marketing. We will have three objectives in this bucket.

Our aim has been to produce an operating plan based on existing strategy, mainly our hypotheses about the contributor, consumer and content "flywheel". The primary shift in these objectives is an emphasis on the content portion of the flywheel, and exploration of what our editors with extended rights might need from us now, with the aim of identifying community health metrics in the future.

Objectives: See Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2023-2024/Draft/Product & Technology/OKRs#Bucket 1: Wiki Experiences

Bucket: Signals & Data Services[edit]

Decision makers from across the Wikimedia Movement must have access to reliable, relevant, and timely data, models, insights, and tools that can help them assess the impact (both realized and potential) of their work and the work of their communities, enabling them to make better strategic decisions.

In the Signals & Data Services bucket, we have identified four primary audiences for data insights: Wikimedia Foundation staff, Wikimedia affiliates, developers who reuse our content, and Wikimedia researchers. Our work will span a range of activities: defining gaps, developing metrics, building pipelines for computing metrics, and developing data and signals exploration pathways that help decision makers interact more effectively and joyfully with the data and insights.

Objectives: See Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2023-2024/Draft/Product & Technology/OKRs#Bucket 2: Signals & Data Services

Bucket: Future Audiences[edit]

The purpose of this bucket is to explore strategies for expanding beyond our existing audiences of consumers and contributors, in an effort to truly reach everyone in the world as the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge. More and more, people are consuming information in experiences and forms that diverge from our traditional offering of a website with articles: people are using voice assistants, spending time with video, engaging with AI, and more. The effort to identify a sound logo for Wikimedia projects this past year recognizes this growing trend and the need to increase our visibility and relevance.

In this bucket, we will propose and test hypotheses around potential long-term futures for the free knowledge ecosystem and how we will be its essential infrastructure. We will do this through product and technology work, as well as through research, partnerships, and marketing. As we identify promising future states, what we learn from this bucket will influence future product and technology strategy to serve knowledge-seekers. Our objectives for this bucket should drive us to experiment and explore as we bring a vision for the future of free knowledge into focus.

Objectives: See Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2023-2024/Draft/Product & Technology/OKRs#Bucket 3: Future Audiences


We also have two other "sub-buckets" that consist of areas of critical functions, which must exist at the Foundation to support our basic operations, and some of which we have in common with any software organization. These "sub-buckets" won't have top level objectives of their own, but will have input on and will support the top level objectives of the other groups. They are:

  1. Foundational Infrastructure. This bucket covers the teams that sustain and evolve our data centers, our compute and storage platforms, the services to operate them, the tools and processes that enable the operation of our public facing sites and services.
  2. Product and Engineering Services. This bucket includes teams that operate "at scale" providing services to other teams that improve the productivity and operations of those teams.