Wikimedia Foundation Report, April 2010
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- More than 120 chapter representatives and developers meet at the Wikimedia Conference Berlin
- Bishakha Datta joins the Board of Trustees
- Air travel disruptions lead to stranded Wikimedians and limited Board meeting
- Official rollout of MediaWiki's new look and feel begins with Wikimedia Commons
- Global unique visitors: 375 Million (+1.1% compared to previous month, +17.1% compared to previous year)
- Page requests: 11.7 Billion (-0.1% compared to the previous month, +7.4% compared to the previous year)
The monthly report card for April 2010 can be found at:
Please note the errata published at:
Key Financial Metrics
- Operating revenue year-to-date: $14.6MM vs. plan of $9.3MM.
- Total annual plan is $10.4MM.
- Operating expenses year-to-date: $7.3MM vs. plan of $7.8MM.
- Total annual plan is $9.2MM.
On the revenue side, business Development is still behind, all other areas well over plan. YTD spending is closing gap and only 7% below plan.
As of May 12th, unrestricted cash and cash equivalents were $13.4MM, of this amount $10MM are in unrestricted CDs and US Treasury Bonds.
Wikimedia Conference Berlin, 2010 and volcano aftermath
On April 14-16, the Wikimedia Conference Berlin brought together more than 120 Wikimedians from over 30 countries, including representatives of international chapter organizations, MediaWiki developers, and Wikimedia Foundation staff for presentations, workshops, and informal conversations. The conference was organized by Wikimedia Germany. It was co-sponsored by Wikimedia Germany, other Wikimedia chapters, and the Wikimedia Foundation.
The conference was split into a chapters meeting and a developers workshop. During the chapters meeting, each Wikimedia chapter was given the opportunity to present its program activities as well as the current state of the chapter in lightning talks. There were additional deep-dive sessions and presentations focusing on issues such as institutional partnerships, Wikimedia in developing countries, and others.
The developers conference consisted of informal hacking and unconference-style workshops on a number of key issues such as user experience, accessibility, and metadata.
The conference took place in the Zanox Campus building near the river Spree. More information about the conference can be found at:
Many attendees, including Wikimedia Foundation staff, were affected by the ash cloud from the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which caused major air traffic disruption throughout Europe. Wikimedia Germany and Wikimedia Foundation administrative staff provided support to stranded attendees to ensure that everyone could make their way home safely. The disruption resulted in significant additional hotel and travel costs.
The engineering community assigned the blame for the volcano to Icelandic developer Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason in the form of a bug report, initially called "Developers (and WMF Staff) need way out of Europe" and finally suggesting a new branch office in Europe:
Bishakha Datta joins the Board; April Board meeting
In April, following an extensive search process, Bishakha Datta was appointed to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. Board chair Michael Snow wrote in his announcement:
- We have now filled that seat by appointing Bishakha Datta, a journalist, filmmaker, and nonprofit leader from India. (...) By way of background, Bishakha runs a nonprofit based in Mumbai that focuses on conveying women's perspectives in culture and the media. She also has been involved in other international nonprofit work, and her knowledge of India should be a great help to us as we move forward with the strategic plan. In general, her experience will be a wonderful asset and I think she is an ideal fit for the remaining board seat.
Several Trustees were unable to attend the April 2010 Board of Trustees meeting in person due to the volcanic ash cloud. Trustees unable to physically attend were connected to the meeting through Skype and IRC. As a result the Board meeting was led by Vice-Chair Jan-Bart de Vreede. The Board condensed agenda items to make the meeting manageable for the remote attendees.
The two main activities conducted at the meeting were a recap of the strategic planning project, including creation of a draft resolution, and a restructuring of the Board commitees include clear mandates, assignment of chairs for each commitee, and a discussion of what (if any) needed decommissioning.
Strategic Planning and Business Planning
In April, Eugene and Philippe joined the Berlin meetings, taking the opportunity to talk to developers about core infrastructure needs, and to meet with chapters about their role in the strategic planning process. The Strategy task force was created to manage the broad questions around the mechanics of writing the final strategic plan. Draft language was moved out, and discussion of the plan began.
All departments contributed to the development of the organization's 2010-11 annual plan and five-year projections for hiring and program activities as an outcome of the strategic planning process.
Usability and Features
The official rollout of the user experience improvements developed by the Wikimedia Usability Initiative began with the deployment to Wikimedia Commons. (This was not the first production deployment: English Wikinews was the earliest adopter, starting in October 2009). This deployment helped surface additional issues both related to various browser/platform problems as well as language-specific issues. Blog update:
The Commons tech community supported making gadget and user scripts compatible prior to the switch, which helped tremendously. The overall reaction was positive:
The engineering team prepared for a roll-out of the user experience improvements to the English Wikipedia in May. As the English Wikipedia accounts for half of our traffic, careful planning for the switch took place. The operations team increased caching capacity. Guidelines for localization of a revised Wikipedia logo were prepared to cascade the new design of the new logo to 270+ languages. Communications materials such as an FAQ and a feedback page were set-up to handle the high volume of inquiries openly and quickly.
Preparation continued for a first usability study to assess the media uploading interface, as well as development work on the new upload wizard.
Work continued on LiquidThreads (an enhanced Wikimedia discussion system) bug triage and resolution, which benefited from the production use on StrategyWiki. Other LiquidThreads improvements included support for LQT data in the Wikimedia datatabase dump system, as well as work on live preview.
At the Berlin meeting, the team met Maria Schiewe, an accessibility expert and board member of Wikimedia Germany, and learned how to make the site accessible to people with challenges with vision and hearing. A Wikimedia Accessibility Initiative was kicked off by Maria Schiewe, Samuel Klein, and DannyB to improve the accessibility of Wikimedia projects, and in order to incorporate the accessibility support into the user experience work going forward:
Engineering presentations by Trevor Parscal and Neil Kandalgaonkar can be found at:
Preparation continued for a 1.16 release of MediaWiki core, including backports and bug fixes. Varnish was tested to work as a reverse proxy for the Selenium grid and the usability prototype wikis.
We made the Amsterdam network fully redundant with a new topology and through the use of high availability protocols, and tested it in practice by pulling plugs. We also performed a successful failover test for Amsterdam to Florida. We made a wish list to support a possible in-kind donation of equipment for the planned new Primary Data Center.
We upgraded equipment and software in both the Tampa Data Center and in the European Caching Center, including: 32 new Squid servers and 10 miscellaneous servers ordered, racked and installed in Haarlem, all Florida Squids upgraded to newer Squid and Ubuntu releases, infrastructure prepared for automatic installations of the new Ubuntu 8.10 Lucid LTS release, 10 new database servers brought online, decommissioned servers shipped out to interested non-profits.
System Administration is testing monitoring software called WatchMouse as an alternative to Keynote, and setting up a trial page.
Our New Dataset server is back up and receiving page hit counts. Barring any more hardware issues we will be switching to it and increasing the amount of data sets. Unfortunately, we found a show stopper bug on the existing snapshot system .
WikiReader finalized its packaging and is deployed in some markets in the US. We are about to make a final decision on a multi-partner project for Wikipedia offline USB sticks.
We've released a new version of the Wikipedia App - Now with GeoLocation and also lots of bugfixes and performance tweaks for server to support rapid growth. We also drafted new policies for supporting additional mobile partners.
We've successfully hired 2 new engineers, and have drafted and prioritized a new set of projects for 2010-2011. There have been ongoing system issues with PayPal that will need to be actively debugged in May. We have a manual work-around using the Audit System, and are processing orders but it is taking a lot of Program Staff time. We were forced to turn off credit card processing in mid-April due to excessive fraudulent $1 charges. We are investigating implementation of improved fraud detection by contractor Four Kitchens. Transaction audit system drafted and put into place.
Other Program Activities
In April a final grant proposal was submitted to the Stanton Foundation for the Public Policy Initiative, a proposed large-scale project to improve Wikipedia articles in partnership with university courses. This was in concert with work on budgeting, strategic planning, and communications planning for both the Public Policy Initiative and the "Bookshelf" public outreach resource development project, as well as on-boarding the new Bookshelf Project Manager.
As part of the Bookshelf project, a video by Common Craft was published on Wikimedia Commons as a tutorial of the Verifiability and Neutral Point of View policies and practices within the community, and a framework for localization of the video was created. The video can be found at:
Through early/mid-April the Foundation experienced a relatively quiet media exposure. With Larry Sanger's public allegations about materials on Wikimedia Commons, coverage began to rise up around the story, ultimately leading to mainstream coverage of the story after Fox News published Sanger's comments and further repeated a number of false claims on its site. Much of late April was spent working internally and externally on this issue.
Communications efforts were also focused on preparations for the user experience roll-out and outreach with Wikimedia's chapters at the conference in Berlin.
An announcement regarding Bishakha Datta was released: Indian Journalist and filmmaker Bishakha Datta joins Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees (April 5, 2010)
Media organizations the communications department interfaced with this month include: Heise Online (Germany), V3.co.uk (London, UK), ABC Nightly News (New York, NY), NewTeeVee.com (San Francisco, CA), Wired News (London, UK), San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, CA).
Fundraising and Grants
The Community Gifts team spent the month of April budgeting for the coming year and setting up CiviCRM for effective management of middle and major donor relationships. The benefactors page was also updated, with old listings being asked to renew their gifts or be archived to another page. In response to this appeal 25% of gifts were renewed. At the end of April the team planned their trip to Bristol for the Fundraising Summit and attended CiviCon where they presented Wikimedia's use of CiviCRM.
April was a busy month for major donor programs. Jimmy and Rebecca spent three days in New York meeting with donors, and logistics for the Harnisch Foundation NYC event were established (to be held in October). Major gift activities also focussed on streamlining our communication with all donors, major and otherwise.
In late April a partnership with Facebook was announced which enabled the large scale inclusion of Wikipedia articles by the new Community Pages on the site. This arrangement allowed for wider distribution of free content from Wikipedia.
Foundation-l mailing list announcement by Kul Wadhwa:
Finance & Administration
Form 990 was filed with the IRS and posted (with FAQs) to Wikimedia Foundation website. Negotiations continued for the 6th floor lease. A rough draft of 2010-11 financial plan was completed. An agreement was signed with Altour travel agency to replace Egencia in order to improve flexibility in travel.
Mike Godwin developed settlement plans with the Wikimedia Foundation French lawyers over a defamation case in France. The settlement mainly involved meeting to allow the plaintiffs to express their grievances, and did not involve a monetary settlement.
Godwin worked with Outreach Officer Pete Forsyth to negotiate free licenses with academic authors who want to submit materials to Wikimedia projects. In collaboration with Rob Halsell of Operations and outside counsel, Wikimedia worked on the transfer of domain names we've won through trademark enforcement. Legal also aided Wikimedia Germany in responding to press queries about outcomes in a German legal case.
Wikimedia at Museums and the Web conference
On Tuesday, 13 April 2010 over 50 leaders from the global museum sector were invited to meet with 11 Wikimedians for a day-long workshop in Denver, Colorado, to discuss collaboration between the two communities. Wikimedia staff and community representation included Liam Wyatt, Mathias Schindler, Guillaume Paumier, Erik Moeller, Kat Walsh, Samuel Klein, Adrianne Wadewitz, Maarten Dammers, and Richard Knipel.
- Aradhana Datta Ravindra, temporary Project Manager for the Bookshelf Project, was hired.
- Philippe Beaudette was promoted to Head of Reader Relations.
- Howie Fung was hired full time as a Senior Product Manager.