Wikimedia Foundation Report, December 2008

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ED Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, December 2008

  • Covering: December 2008
  • Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Prepared for: Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

My Current Priorities[edit]

  1. The 2008-09 annual fundraising campaign
  2. India Wikimedia awareness trip
  3. Planning for Davos and the January board meeting
  4. Stanton Usability project
  5. Bits and pieces: normal fundraising activities, grant proposal development, etc.

This Past Month[edit]

India Trip[edit]

On December 9-15, Jimmy Wales and Sue Gardner visited India. The purpose of the trip was to create excitement and interest about Wikipedia inside India among editors and potential editors, media, and potential donors. The Wikimedia Foundation websites are the fourth most popular web property world-wide, and sixth most-popular in India. We were there to accept a gift from the Kerala government of a Malayalam encyclopedia, which Kerala was releasing under a free license, as well as to carry out a variety of outreach and media activities. Jimmy spoke at the Free Software Free Society conference in Trivandrum; a Wikipedia Academy was staged in Chennai; we met with representatives of the Knowledge Foundation and with the Centre for Internet and Society. Jimmy spoke at the Bangalore International Centre; we received a briefing on the work of the Akshara Foundation, Pratham Books, Argyham and e-Gov. We spoke at a private dinner, and participated in several press conferences. The trip is fully documented in the Report to the Board: India, which was published to the board and also on foundation-l.  http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/wiki/foundation/158605

Fundraising & Grants[edit]

At 8:14 PM PST on Wednesday, December 31, the annual giving campaign hit its USD 6M goal. It was the most successful and ambitious fundraiser in Wikimedia's history, with donations more than double the previous year. This is particularly notable because of the current very difficult global economic climate, and is testimony to the dedication and passion of Wikimedia's many supporters. The Wikimedia Foundation is enormously grateful to everyone who contributed to the success of the fundraiser.

In total, in the month of December, the Wikimedia Foundation received 79,611 donations smaller than USD 10,000, totaling USD 2.8m. We also received major gifts totaling USD 94K.

Also in December, the Wikimedia Foundation announced a major grant of USD 890,000 from the U.S.-based Stanton Foundation, for the purpose of making Wikipedia's writing and editing interface easier to use for first-time authors. The grant will be used to fund a project team at the Wikimedia Foundation's offices in San Francisco. This is our second grant from the Stanton Foundation, which earlier gave us USD 262,000 for hardware purchases. The Wikimedia Foundation announced the hiring of Naoko Komura to manage the Stanton usability project: she will begin work on the project January 2. Because the Wikimedia Foundation's office is currently at capacity, office manager Daniel Phelps began a search for a satellite office to house the new usability team.

The fundraising team continued to develop grant proposals for various funders. Sue, Mike and the fundraising team investigated options for offering tax deductibility for donations originating outside the United States, including the commissioning of research from an external firm.

License Migration[edit]

On December 17, Erik Moeller and Mike Godwin posted a first set of questions and answers related to license migration, Licensing_update/Questions_and_Answers. The purpose of the FAQ is to describe the Wikimedia Foundation's position on the license migration issue. It answers questions such as: what is this issue about, why would the Wikimedia projects migrate from the GFDL to CC-BY-SA, what is the history of the issue, and what are the next steps in the decision-making process. The Wikimedia Foundation expects to release a proposal for migration by mid-January, which the Wikimedia community will later be asked to vote upon.

Outreach & Programs[edit]

Frank Schulenburg, Head of Public Outreach, completed his move to the United States from Germany, and was warmly welcomed by the staff. Everybody was thrilled to finally have Frank with us in San Francisco.

On December 17, the Wikimedia Foundation staged an all-day meeting with Patricio Lorente and Carlos Alberto Barcenilla of the Argentina chapter, and with Phoebe Ayers, a longtime Wikimania organizer near San Francisco. The goal of the meeting was to determine roles and responsibilities for Wikimania 2009 with regards to financial planning, sponsorships and travel scholarships. Wikimania 2009 -to be held August 25-28 in Buenos Aires- will be the first Wikimania in several years not to have been project-managed by a member of the staff of the Wikimedia Foundation, hence the desire to clarify responsibilities. If Wikimania 2009 planning runs smoothly, we plan to replicate the 2009 roles-and-responsibilities, with iterations as desired, for future Wikimanias.

Sue began pre-interviewing candidates for the newly-created position of Chief Program Officer, as laid out in the 2008-09 annual plan. The role of the CPO is to provide leadership to the Wikimedia Foundation's program staff (currently, Jay, Frank and Cary), and to support and facilitate the work of the international Wikimedia volunteer community. It's an unusual job in a unique organization, which means the successful candidate could come from a number of different backgrounds, such as education, the non-profit/NGO world, technology, digital media, product development, the free culture movement, etc. In order to allow time for a rich and diverse pool of candidates to develop, the job was posted on the Wikimedia Foundation website in September, and also distributed via various lists and networks such as LinkedIn. Interviews will take place in January and February.

Communications[edit]

On December 3, the Wikimedia Foundation announced the Stanton grant (as detailed above). Please see http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_releases/Wikipedia_to_become_more_user-friendly_for_new_volunteer_writers and http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/StantonGrantQA .

On December 7 and 9, the Wikimedia Foundation issued press releases related to the blacklisting of one of its articles by a UK-based internet watchdog group. On December 7, the Wikimedia Foundation announced that as of December 6, 2008, most Internet users in the United Kingdom were being denied full access to Wikipedia. Due to censorship by the UK self-regulatory agency the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), most UK residents were rendered unable to edit Wikipedia, and were denied access to an article in it describing a 32-year-old album by German rock group the Scorpions. Wikipedia visitors in the UK also reported performance issues accessing the site. The Wikimedia Foundation urged the IWF to remove Wikipedia from its blacklist. Two days later, following considerable media coverage, the Wikimedia Foundation issued a press release applauding the IWF's removal of Wikipedia from its blacklist.

On December 15, the Wikimedia Foundation announced the appointment to its Advisory Board of Neeru Khosla, co-founder and chair of CK-12, a non-profit based in Palo Alto, California which is pioneering in the area of open source textbooks.

During December, the Wikimedia Foundation and its representatives participated in interviews with the Canadian daily newspaper the Globe and Mail; the Wall Street Journal; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; KGO Radio (San Francisco); KGO ABC TV (San Francisco); the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper; Computer Weekly magazine; Laptop magazine; Time Out Bangalore; the New York Times; Wired News; the Associated Press; the BBC World Service; German news site Heise Online; CNET (San Francisco); the Financial Times newspaper; ABCNews.com; Wired News; local New York newspaper The Alcove; NBC Universal, and NBC Channel 1.

During December, Jay travelled to New York to staff some heavy media days with Jimmy, and began exploratory talks with several branding agencies.

Finance & Administration[edit]

In December, KPMG completed the first draft of the 990 tax return. The final version is expected to be be filed in April.

WMF continues to explore strategic partnerships (primarily in the mobile space) which are mission-friendly and have more revenue potential than other business development activities such as the live-feed agreements.

Technology[edit]

technical team also began setting up publicly downloadable dumps of anonymized fundraising contribution data, so that interested volunteers can study patterns and trends in the data.

  • Mark & Rob worked to get set up in a new data center in the Netherlands, largely replacing the sponsored hosting services provided for three years by Kennisnet. The Wikimedia Foundation is grateful to Kennisnet for the significant support they have given us.
  • Bug #44, opened in August 2004, was finally fixed: the image namespace, which can also contain sounds, video, uploaded documents and other files, was renamed to File:, with redirects ensuring that the old name continues to work.
  • The Configure extension was enabled for testing on test.wikipedia.org. When deployed, it will make it easier for users with limited technical access to perform tasks that can currently only be performed by sysadmins, reducing the workload of the core operations team.
  • Work has begun on an extension for managing and tracking data center assets, http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:DataCenter , which is intended to replace the currently used RackTables software.
  • A brief report on the state of FlaggedRevs deployment, based in part on a report by Philipp Birken about the German Wikipedia, was published at: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FlaggedRevs_Report_December_2008
  • Erik Zachte made significant improvements to the wikistats code to improve its performance, and it is now running on its own dedicated machine. Many updated statistics have been posted. (See: http://infodisiac.com/blog/2008/12/wikistats-is-back/ ). When dumps are available, statistics can now be generated regularly.

In Coming Weeks[edit]

  • Board Meeting January 9 – 11, 2009
  • Sue attending World Economic Forum in Davos (Jan. 24 – Feb. 2)