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Wikimedia Foundation Report, February 2009

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ED Report to the Board of Trustees, February 2009

Current Priorities[edit]

1. Hiring interviews: CPO, usability team members
2. Development of the mid-year financial statements
3. Planning begins for 2009-10
4. Stanton Usability project starts up
5. Bits and pieces: normal fundraising activities, grant proposal development, strategic plan, etc.

This Past Month[edit]

Finance & Administration[edit]

In February, Veronique Kessler developed the Wikimedia Foundation's mid-year financial statements, covering the period of July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008. Upshot: the Wikimedia Foundation is on plan and expects to stay on plan for the rest of the fiscal year, which we believe is excellent news given the state of the global economy. We are very grateful to all our donors. The statements include a comparison of actuals versus plan; a year over year comparison showing how we are doing against the same period last year; a comparative balance sheet, and a chart depicting revenues and expenses, with plan compared against actuals to date and projections to fiscal year end. The package also included a Q and A answering questions that Board or community members might be expected to have. The statements were released to the Board on February 26, and will be published to the community a few weeks later.

On February 17, the Wikimedia Foundation launched a Chapters Funding Request process, inviting the chapters to ask for money for projects or initiatives they would like to carry out during 2009-10, but which require funding. The process is described here http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_chapters/WMF_grants. The process is open for requests now, and the deadline for submissions is April 7. The contact person for the process is Frank Schulenburg. This process is the precursor to one slated to launch in August, which will be open for funding requests from all volunteers.

Also in February, Sue, Veronique, and Daniel Phelps reviewed the Wikimedia Foundation's human resources processes and practices with Board chair Michael Snow and Board member Kat Walsh, who were in San Francisco for hiring interviews for the Chief Program Officer position. The purpose of the review was to demonstrate for the Board the appropriateness and sufficiency of the Wikimedia Foundation's human resources systems and procedures, as well as to assure it of legal and policy compliance.

Prioritization Workshop[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation staged a full-day facilitated workshop in San Francisco, bringing together most of the San Francisco staff to discuss the process used to prioritize large organizational initiatives (with total costs estimated to be greater than USD 250,000). The group reviewed and revised a prioritization tool which had been created by Erik before the meeting: the tool assigns a value to each initiative based on its fit against the Wikimedia Foundation strategy. Going forward, all large initiatives will be assessed, prioritized and tracked using this tool, at the weekly Restricted Gifts meeting which was launched in January.

Outreach & Programs[edit]

In February, Sue, Erik, Michael and Kat interviewed four candidates for the role of Chief Program Officer. Michael and Kat had been invited to join the hiring boards because the CPO will be a highly community-facing position: besides being responsible for Jay, Frank and Cary, the CPO will help develop the organization's strategy with regard to outreach, partnership and content initiatives. All CPO candidates were given a takeaway assignment. The CPO search is expected to conclude in late March. Many thanks to Kat and Michael for contributing to the process: your help is much appreciated.

In February, several of the Wikimedia Foundation staff began preparing workshops for the all-chapters meeting to be held in Berlin on April 3-5. Sue will be attending the Board meeting, also in Berlin on those dates, and Erik will therefore represent her at the chapters meeting. At the meeting, Frank will present an outreach workshop, Rand Montoya will present a workshop on fundraising, and Mike Godwin will present a trademark agreement / chapters agreement workshop.

In February, Frank met with the new New York chapter, giving them an outline of recent activities, sharing experiences and discussing possible future outreach activities. He and Sara Crouse attended the Wikipedia Loves Arts event at the Brooklyn Museum, and met with representatives of the New York Public Library. Frank also contributed to various funding proposals, and supported a volunteer initiative to reach out to the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (Society of German Chemists).

Cary Bass and Ariel Glenn attended RecentChangesCamp in Portland, Oregon, an annual wiki-unconference, to meet and interface with other members of the broader wiki community. (Session notes available at: http://2009rcc.org/wagn/Session_Notes )


The Wikimedia Foundation did not publish any press releases in February.

In February, the Wikimedia Foundation and its representatives participated in interviews with the following organizations: the Daily Northwestern, the student newspaper published by Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; the Denver, Colorado news site Examiner.com; ABC Nyheter in Norway; Wired magazine in San Francisco, California; the “Tech Ticker” program of Yahoo Finance; BBC Radio 5; the daily newspaper USA Today; UK newspaper the Sunday Times; Caras magazine in Mexico City, and UK newspaper The Independent.

Jay posted an advertisement on the Wikimedia Foundation website seeking a part-time communications intern (up to 30hrs/week) for 3-6 months beginning March 2009. http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Job_openings/Communications_Intern The communications intern will support and assist Jay, as well as other Wikimedia Foundation staff and/or Board members, in the overall execution of the Foundation's public relations and communications strategy.

Fundraising & Grants[edit]

In the month of February the Wikimedia Foundation received 1,100 donations totalling approximately USD 32,644.04.

During February, Rand worked on aggregating information for a report on the online fundraiser, with help from volunteers. He also explored mobile giving options which could be used in conjunction with our new mobile portal. The fundraising team worked together on identifying needed improvements for our database, preparing for a database upgrade, ensuring that we have full data for offline gifts (such as wire transfers to our European account), that all donors are acknowledged, that address information is correct, etc. Major donor cultivation and grant proposal development activities continued normally.

Sue, Erik, Sara and Frank visited the Sloan Foundation in New York to give an update on the organizational progress of the Wikimedia Foundation, subsequent to our official report. The Sloan Foundation awarded the Wikimedia Foundation a USD 3 million grant of institutional support, with a focus on quality initiatives, over three years beginning in 2008.


In February, Trevor Parscal was seconded from the technical team to work on the Stanton Usability project http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Usability_Initiative - bringing to the project technical knowledge and skills as well as extensive experience working at a usability firm in interface design and development. The usability team created a project workspace at usability.wikimedia.org. Planning has begun and a firm was selected for user tests (both remote testing and lab testing) to take place in March, in order to identify key barriers to entry for new Wikipedia contributors. And, the first in a new set of features designed to help build consensus on usability improvements has been rolled-out at usability.wikimedia.org, the workspace for the WP Usability initiative.

Brion Vibber and Tomasz Finc attended the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) in Belgium, to meet and share ideas with the local Wikimedians as well as others in the open source community. Brion gave a presentation summarizing recent MediaWiki developments ( http://leuksman.com/images/7/73/Brion-fosdem2009.odp ).

The code of the new mobile portal at http://m.wikipedia.org/ was significantly improved, and the portal has been publicized for wider testing. ( http://leuksman.com/log/2009/02/18/mobile-browser-links/ ) We're hoping to switch certain mobile devices to the new gateway by default, with a link to the classic version, in future.

The technical team launched the wiki-to-print feature in six additional Wikipedia language editions: French, Polish, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and Simple English, making it possible for readers of those Wikipedia to make collections of Wikipedia articles, share them, download them as PDF and OpenDocument files, or order them as printed books. It was also activated in the English Wikipedia for signed-in users only: the technical team is monitoring server load and user feedback, due to the massive load of the English Wikipedia. If all goes well, it will be deployed on all relevant projects for all users, in March.

The technical team installed 36 new application servers to improve editing and page rendering performance, especially at peak times.

In Coming Weeks[edit]

  • All Staff meeting (March 12-13 in San Francisco)
  • Hiring of the Chief Program Officer (late March)
  • Board Meeting and All Chapters Meeting (April 3-5 in Berlin)
  • Development of the 2009-10 Annual Plan