Wikimedia Foundation Report, August 2008

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ED Report to the Board August 2008

  • Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Prepared for: Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

My Current Priorities[edit]

Updated August 17, 2008

1. Funders' Briefing preparations (including materials such as presentation, giving chart, annual report, etc.)
2. Developing funding proposals for several foundations
3. Orienting new fundraising team
4. Ongoing major donor solicitation and stewardship
5. Bits and pieces (Wikimania postmortem, office space revamp, launch of NomCom, etc.)

This Past Month[edit]


Frank Schulenburg launched the first-ever “WikiProject Videos” - a project designed to encourage people to enrich Wikipedia with videos, and to create a set of understandable and comprehensive online support materials. Together with Wikimedia Germany, he has worked towards the development of video tutorials and interviewed potential candidates to present such tutorials. He also moderated an online course "Wikipedia in Internet cafés for older people."

Frank visited Buenos Aires for a Wikipedia Academy planning meeting called “Organising a Wikipedia Academy in seven steps,” and also met with Argentinian chapter members in La Plata. With the help of Elizabeth Bauer and WMAR, he created “cheat sheets” and a “101” in Spanish for the Wikipedia Academy in Buenos Aires, set for October.

During August, the Wikimedia Foundation did some thinking about barriers to participation: why some readers don't edit, and what we could do to persuade them to try it. To that end, Sue Gardner, Frank Schulenburg and others contributed to a page on meta called New Contributor Objections The information on this page has since been used in several outreach proposals prepared for grantmaking institutions.

During August, staff and volunteers worked on a postmortem of Wikimania 2008, which included two IRC meetings and an online (LimeSurvey) survey of attendees, organizers and speakers. The postmortem is intended to reflect the experiences and views of all Wikimania planners and participants, and will result in a set of recommendations, to be implemented in time for the staging of Wikimania 2009. It will cover site selection, local planning and organization, logistics, program planning and speaker handling, scholarships, media/PR, public outreach, finance and administration, and sponsorships. Participating in the postmortem: Delphine Menard, Cary Bass, Jay Walsh, Kul Takanao Wadhwa, Frank Schulenburg, Veronique Kessler, Sue Gardner and 21 volunteers including members of the board and advisory board. The postmortem is expected to be complete in September or October: it currently awaits input from the local planning team, the program committee and scholarships.

Fundraising & Grants[edit]

On August 4, invitations went out for the Funders' Briefing to be held at the Sloan Foundation in New York on September 11, 2008. Current confirmed guests include representatives from the Ford, Hewlett, Surdna, Sunlight and Stanton Foundations, the Open Society Institute, and National Geographic. Attending the briefing from WMF will be Erik Möller, Sara Crouse, Rebecca Handler, Stu West and me.

On August 15, invitations went out for the San Francisco Funders' Briefing to be held at Kapor Enterprises on September 23, 2008. Current confirmed guests include representatives from the Stanton, Moore and Gates Foundations as well as representatives from the Omidyar Network, and individual prospective donors.

On August 25, Anya Shyrokova joined the staff of the Wikimedia Foundation as our new Development Associate. Anya, who speaks fluent Russian and Ukrainian, is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a double major in International Political Economy and Molecular Cell Biology. As Development Associate, she will act as donor record manager and help with prospecting and major gift appeals.

A major grant proposal related to translations and public outreach has been developed and submitted.

We've begun analyzing potential credit card processing solutions for the online fundraiser.

There were 989 donations in the month of August, totalling USD 34,330.24.


Throughout August, Jay worked on the Wikimedia Foundation's first-ever Annual Report covering the fiscal year 2007-08. He expects to have a preliminary version available for the Funders' Briefings, which will not include the audited financial statements. That version will be replaced by a version including the statements, once the audit is complete and the statements are ready to be published. That will probably happen in October.

There were no press releases in the month of August, but we responded to media inquiries from the Columbia Journalism School, San Francisco magazine, Wired magazine,, the Municipalist, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, the IT website Tech Target, the Washington Post newspaper, El Mercurio, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, tech career website, Advancing Philanthropy Magazine, Politico,, PC World, and Super Lawyers magazine.


We've received and put into service the first batch of hardware (primarily database servers) generously sponsored by the Stanton Foundation. New employees in the San Francisco office include Michael Dale, who is being sponsored by Kaltura and working on a 100% open source video editing solution, and Tomasz Finc, our new full-time software developer. An additional part-time contractor is helping in our Tampa data-center where we are moving forward with addition of new rack-space by a different provider in the same building. The new space will allow us to more effectively deploy new servers and maintain active on-site backups of key data. Data dumps are temporarily on hold until some of the new file server deployments are completed, due to space constraints on old servers.

The Wiki-to-PDF extension was enabled on , and the Wikibooks community was invited to test the extension. Many issues were addressed throughout the month, such as the addition of a feature to exclude selected templates from printing. A Wikimedia/Wikia tech meeting took place to identify potential areas of cooperation, such as Wikia's improvements to Erik Zachte's Wikistats scripts and Wikia's work on the Varnish caching server. Also, a new experimental handheld style-sheet is being tested for mobile devices.

Significant progress has been made on auditing and normalizing our software installations, making it easier for us to manage the site, fix broken installs, and set up new servers and new services. Progress has also been made on cleaning up our domain name situation: ownership, contact information, and DNS setup is being normalized.

Finance & Administration[edit]

Most of August was spent preparing for and working with the auditors. We also brought in a part-time Human Resources consultant to audit our personnel files and do other HR-related work.


On August 23, Michael Snow briefed the Nominating Committee on behalf of the board, in an IRC meeting. The job of the Nominating Committee is to identify, research and recommend candidates for the appointed Board positions involving "specific expertise." Its members are board member Ting Chen, community member Milos Rancic, community member BirgitteSB, advisory board member Melissa Hagemann, Executive Director Sue Gardner and board chair Michael Snow. The Nominating Committee intends to generate criteria for potential “specific expertise” board members here by September 15, and brainstorm names of potential board members (on a private wiki) by September 30. The four “expertise” seats are expected to be filled by January 2009.


  • Funders' Briefings in New York and San Francisco
  • Board meeting being held October 4, 5 & 6 at the WMF office.
  • All-staff meeting being held November 6 & 7 at the WMF office.