Wikimedia Foundation Report, August 2010
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- Usability improvements deployed to all remaining wikis
- Google Summer of Code participation completed with 6 projects
- Public Policy Initiative ramped up with training in Washington, DC and the first advisory board meeting
Data and Trends
- The monthly report card for August 2010 can be found at:
- Global unique visitors:
- 373 million (+3.7% compared to previous month / + 21.4% compared to previous year)
- Page requests:
- 13.4 billion (-1% compared to previous month / + 23.9% compared to previous year)
We experienced an unusually large drop in traffic during the summer. A seasonal drop is to be expected, but there's no full explanation for the magnitude of the drop; one hypothesis is that the 2010 World Cup in South Africa drew a significant amount of attention from Wikipedia and other highly multilingual websites. Beginning in August, we've started to return to earlier traffic levels.
The following changes were made for the August 2010 report card:
- The content section now summarizes each project (Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, etc.) as a line, as opposed to the more granular project/language view (English Wikipedia, German Wikipedia, etc.). The default view shows a normalized growth line for each project, indicating that Wikimedia Commons is currently our fastest growing project in terms of content.
- The "active editors" section now no longer counts Wikimedia Commons contributors, due to the significant number of users who are active on a primary project like Wikipedia and who use Wikimedia Commons as a support project. This leads to a slightly reduced total count. Generally, the "active editors" count has always double-counted users who are active on more than one project in a given month -- this is expected to be fixed later this year.
See the synopsis page at http://stats.wikimedia.org/reportcard/RC_2010_08_synopsis.html for more trends and notes.
- Operating revenue for August: USD 131K vs. plan of USD 210K
- Operating expenses August: USD 0.9MM vs. plan of USD 1.4MM
- Operating revenue for year-to-date August: USD 273K vs. plan of USD 398K
- Operating expenses for year-to-date August: USD 2.2MM vs. plan of USD 3.0MM.
- Unrestricted cash on hand as of the end of September: USD 9.0 MM
Revenue is under for the month and year-to-date primarily from unrestricted revenue; additionally, revenue related to mobile (Orange) has not been recorded pending finalization of contract re-negotiation with Orange.
Expenses are under for the month and year-to-date due to:
- Capital expenditures and internet hosting (budgeted evenly over the year but will start lower and increase as the additional data center is built out and hosting costs increase)
- Salaries, taxes and benefits due primarily to hiring delays and underspending in staff development
- Professional services including outside contract services
This underspending is partially offset by overage in grants and awards due to grant to Wikimania Poland and sponsorship of WikiSym Poland and Wikimania scholarships.
During August, the Wikimedia Foundation began distilling the material on the strategy wiki into a high-level document that could easily be shared with Wikimedia partners and supporters. To that end, Jay Walsh hired a writer to begin developing a first draft. The draft document will be vetted and refined over the next several months, and then presented to the Board of Trustees for approval in October. The final outstanding piece of substantive work before the document can be finalized, is the development of a small number of high-level targets for the Wikimedia movement, to be achieved by 2015. The development of the targets has been done on the strategy wiki to date: that work will be supplemented and carried forward with an informal survey of Board members, staff members and community members, the results of which will be shared with the Board, and will influence our approach to target-setting, as well as the final metrics. The targets are expected to be approved by the Board by October 2010, and will then be folded into the final strategy document.
See http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2010/10/october-2010-wmf-engineering-update/ for the most recent Wikimedia Foundation engineering update, and see individual project pages on MediaWiki.org for details.
- In August, we hired a new operations engineer, Ryan Lane.
- Six WMF engineers attended OSCON, the largest open source conference in the US, on passes donated by O'Reilly. We were formally asked there to submit content for two other O'Reilly conferences: a new conference on Data and one called "Tools of Change" about alternative publishing/distribution of knowledge
- Planning work on Data Center continued: We made a second visit to Ashburn, VA for final inspection of co-location facilities and Q&A before final bids are submitted. This was also a chance for our employee Rob Halsell, who will be moving to Virginia to support the new Data Center, to check out local housing.
- The Ops Team started using an open source tool called RequestTracker to track all Ops related issues including CapEx bids & purchases and Ops work to be done. http://bestpractical.com/rt/
- There was a global 1-hour editing outage relating to saturation of a database server cluster that was remedied by rebalancing the load on that cluster. Viewing pages was unaffected.
- Development of the fundraiser systems continued, including preliminary implementation of GeoIP lookup (to match donors to location).
- The final Phase V rollout of the Vector skin (aka the UX project) was completed on all remaining wikis.
- Work on the new Article Assessment feature pilot (in support of Public Policy Initiative) began.
- We had a first meeting with Peter Adams, creator of Open Web Analytics http://www.openwebanalytics.com/. OWA is an open source platform for collecting data which we hope to extend to handle our traffic load. Initially we will test using the Fundraiser activity since we already gather data for it. We'll need to hold a "Data Summit" to socialize the idea of collecting more data to support better design of new features. We are also conducting testing on PiWiki, a complementary project.
- Planning for the Data Summit began. It will probably take place in November - but will be an invitational meeting to keep numbers manageable.
- Development of monthly public posting about all Tech projects began. September was first post.
- We watched a demo by Microsoft Research engineers about WikiBabel (recently renamed WikiBasha), an interface for human editing of machine translations of Wikipedia content. They are interested in making a future open source release of this code. See User:Kit_Lywait/WikiBasha.
- We met with Wikia staff about investigating their Rich Text Editingcode for possible use in WMF projects.
- We met with Greg DeKoenigsberg, formerly of RedHat's Fedora project, about the joys and perils of wrangling communities.
- We concluded this year's Summer of Code participation with 6 projects out of 6 successfully completed. Three of our mentors will attend the "Mentor Summit" in October in Mountain View (Google will fund their travel). Details: http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2010/08/gsoc-conclusion/
- We began work on expanding and hardening a Virtualization Test Server cluster. This system, when completed, will allow us to set upsafe "sandbox" areas for volunteer developers as well as for specific feature development teams. This work is an expansion of work previously done for sole use of UX project.
- We accepted code from researcher Andrew West as part of an English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee decision against his unauthorized spam experiments on Wikipedia.
The Global Development team continued to work on the formation of the team during August. We launched searches for key positions including Senior Research Analyst and Chapter Development Director, and we hired Egon Zehnder's India office to support our search for a National Program Director in India. (Note: the Senior Research Analyst position was filled in early October.)
On the business development side, we are in the initial stages of increasing focus on mobile and offline partnerships. Unfortunately, a partnership to strengthen our offline capabilities fell through in August; however, we are preparing an RFP with our technologycolleagues focused on adding to the software available to the community for offline projects. We will soon be initiating planning around the WMF's offline work in support of the active work ongoing within the community. We think there are some big opportunities to extend our reach via offline copies of Wikimedia content. As we begin to explore the work, we see offline versions as a support for both people who have no internet access AND people who might have intermittent access OR have to pay for access on a per use basis. More to come.
We are working on partnerships to support the work of our technology operations team on the data center project - more soon on this front.
Our chapter relations benefited from a visit to San Francisco by our colleagues from the German chapter. We also continued work with chapters seeking grants for their activities. See Grants:Index.
Moka Pantages was promoted to Global Communications Manager as part ofa shift in our Communications work toward a more "Global" approach to our communications work. Moka's role will be to enable us to coordinate media and other communications in support of our Global Development work as a movement. One key initiative is to broaden the ComCom to encompass more geographic diversity and continue to strengthen the cadre of community members working on media and communications in support of the movement.
The Wikimedia Blog highlighted a Hungarian/Serbian Wikicamping trip and the "Wiki Loves Monuments" competition by Wikimedia Nederland. See: http://blog.wikimedia.org/blog/2010/08/
During August, Wikimedia spoke with the following media outlets: Newsday (New York, NY), the Wikipedia Signpost, the New York Times (New York, NY), WGBH (Boston, MA), Information Week (San Francisco, CA), Corporate Counsel Magazine (New York, NY), Newsweek (New York, NY), Newsday (New York, NY), Washington Internet Daily (Washington, DC), Philanthropy 2173.com (San Francisco, CA), the National Post (Toronto, ON), TheWikipedian.net, Opera Mundi (Sao Paolo, Brazil), the BBC World Service (London, UK), Team Magazine (London, UK), Politico (Washington, DC), CNET (San Francisco, CA), TVA (Montreal, QC), the Washington Post (Washington, DC), Davis Enterprise (Davis, CA), Pressan (Iceland), CNN (Washington, DC), CBC Montreal (Montreal, QC), CNN Global Connections (London, UK), The Independent (London, UK), Ciudad X (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Inside Higher Education (Washington, DC), the Economist (New York, NY), Buzzmachine.com (New York, NY), the Guardian (London, UK). See: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_room/Media_Contact
Communications provided support to the highly visible Public Policy Initiative, which launched in August. Alongside the initiative, Communications continues to support the creative operations around public outreach's 'Bookshelf initiative.'
In August we commenced planning for two new Communications positions, a movement communications officer and a global director of merchandising and product.
Also in August we kicked off the writing and design management of the WMF 5 year strategic plan and the Foundation's 09/10 Annual report.
Major issues and media-interest topics: FBI Challenges Wikipedia on use of FBI shield (August 3) - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/us/03fbi.html
Please also see the detailed weekly news summaries by the Wikipedia Signpost:
The Fundraising team built a network of community participants representing many languages and projects who took on increasing responsibility for driving this year's fundraiser. Volunteers are engaged directly in the creation of messaging and testing strategy. A large collection of fundraising banners were suggested by the community and began to be tested live during weekly, one-hour tests. The team also worked with technology staff to build out needed infrastructure to support this year's larger financial goals.
Foundations and Partnerships staff submitted to the Hewlett Foundation both a report that closed out our most recent grant, and a proposal for future funding.
Major Gifts staff worked to design an experiment to test whether improved stewardship of our $250-$1000 donors can result in significantly increased support.
Public Policy Initiative:
The PPI team held its first Wikipedia Campus Ambassador training at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Wikipedia Ambassadors are volunteers that support new editors (either online or on campus). Topics covered included Wikipedia editing skills, presentation skills and classroom management. The program is experimenting with different types of ambassadors, such as librarians, Wikipedians, students, teaching/learning depts at universities. The Initiative hosted its first Advisory Board meeting in San Francisco. (Attendees listed in the Vistors section below.)
Public Outreach staff completed a welcome brochure and other printed materials -- all available as open source DTP Scibus files. They also launched Wikipedia on Campus on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WikipediaOnCampus
Community Department Fellowship:
The Community Department developed a "Fellowship" program with the intention of creating a space at the Foundation for leading Wikimedians and outside experts to research problems and seize opportunities for the Wikimedia movement. As a small pilot, we hosted Wikimedians Steven Walling (Portland, USA) and Damian Finol (Caracas, Venezuela) to work on a "Contributor Taxonomy" research project.
Controversial Content Study
During August, the Wikimedia Foundation continued work on the Controversial Content Study. In June, the Board had asked the ED to commission a study with the goal of figuring out what --if anything-- to do about controversial material in the projects. Sue hired Robert Harris and Dory Carr-Harris to conduct the study, and they spent July and August investigating: speaking with Board and some Advisory Board members; reading thousands of wiki pages of policy and discussion; having e-mail exchanges, Skype calls and wiki discussions with community members; finding and reading dozens of research papers  about how governments, industry organizations, technology companies and parents grapple with these issues; and interviewing experts including people from large websites, and interest groups on all sides of the issue. They have not done any primary research: this terrain is fairly well-studied, and they were able to find lots of relevant material. Robert and Dory will continue their work for two more months, whereupon their recommendations will be presented to the Board of Trustees at its October meeting.
 Specifically, literature gathered and reviewed included examination of cultural attitudes, regulation and/or filtering practices in over 70 countries including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The 2009-10 fiscal year audit work started in August (the audit field work was completed at the end of September and the audit committee will review/approve the audit report in late October).
A ticketing system has been implemented for use by staff who have IT Support needs/ requests-later this system will be expanded to include requests/needs for help with other administrative tasks. The office internet speed has been greatly improved and is now 20x faster than before.
The interview process started for various new admin support positions.
In August we added 1 permanent hire (Ryan Lane, Operations Engineer) and 5 temporary employees who will be working on the Fundraiser as Community Associates (Deniz Gultekin, Steven Ma, James Alexander, Keegan Peterzell and Alex Zariv). Systems Administrator Fred Vassard resigned from his position with Wikimedia.
In addition, the Human Resources department began sharing data on staff and contractor comings and goings via social media at http://identi.ca/wikimediaatwork and http://twitter.com/wikimediaatwork.
- Total Employee Count:
- Plan: 58, Actual: 53
- Remaining open positions for fiscal year: 39
Fundraising, Grants, and Partnerships
During August, the Wikimedia Foundation received 887 donations, with a combined total value of USD 41,623. Year to date, the Foundation has raised USD 105,915 in donations.
Visitors and Guests
- Pavel Richter, Wikimedia Germany
- Sebastian Moleski, Wikimedia Germany
- Till Mletzko, Wikimedia Germany
- Steven Walling, Wikimedian
- Damion Finol, Wikimedian
- Gebruiker:Ciell, Wikimedian
- Victor Vasiliev, Wikimedian
- Thomas De Souza Buckup, Wikimedian
- Mimi Ito, Advisory Board member
- James Gosling
- Timothy Garton Ash
- Laura Hill
- Benedict Lang
- Microsoft Research India / WikiBasha team
- Tim Vollmer, Creative Commons
- Jana Hughes, University of Portland, State center for Women, Politics, and Policy
- 20 US State Department Fellowship recipients from Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq visited to share their perspectives on Wikimedia in the Middle East
- PPI Advisory Board members: Robert Cummings, Mary Graham, Barry Rubin, Rod Schneider, Wayne Mackintosh
- Bugzilla User Group attendees (August 4)