Wikimedia Foundation Report, February 2010

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ED Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, February 2010

  • Covering: February 2010
  • Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Prepared for: Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

Milestones from February[edit]

  1. Wikimedia Foundation receives $2 million grant from Google
  2. Conducted Interviews and engaged candidates for the Chief Development Officer position.
  3. Beta roll-out of new features and updates to the usability initative

Key Priorities for March[edit]

  1. Finalize the Stanton Public Policy Grant
  2. Bi-annual all-staff meeting.
  3. Begin the business planning phase of the strategy process.

Data and Trends[edit]

Reach of all Wikimedia Foundation sites:

345 million unique visitors (rank #5)
+14.8% (1 year ago) / -5.3% (1 month ago)
Source: comScore Media Metrics

Pages served:

11.1 billion
+5.8% (1 year ago) / +0.0% (1 month ago)

Active number of editors (5+ edits/month):

-1.5% (1 year ago) / -4.6% (1 month ago)

Source: February 2010 Report Card <>


Operating revenue year to date: USD 14.1MM vs. plan of USD 8.8MM
Operating expenses year to date: USD 5.5MM vs. plan of USD 6.2MM
Unrestricted cash on hand as of March 24: USD 5.2MM while unrestricted CDs and US Treasuries were USD 8.3MM

Strategic Planning Project[edit]

Following the Board's endorsement of the Wikimedia Foundation's high-level strategic priorities moving forward, the strategic planning process has shifted into two parallel processes. The first is the Foundation's business planning process, led by The Bridgespan Group. The goal is to develop a five-year action plan for the Wikimedia Foundation and a more granular one-year business plan for 2010-2011. This process will run through May.

The second is to complete the larger, movement-wide strategic planning process. Late in January, a Strategy Task Force formed, which started discussing and evaluating the recommendations and feedback from the Phase 2 Task Force process. That Task Force will continue to work in March to articulate and propose a set of movement-wide goals.

The sign of a good open process is that certain surprising things emerge. The team was surprised by the success of the Call for Proposals process in Phase 1, and are looking for ways to use those proposals as a way to activate the volunteer community. They were also surprised by the success of the Task Force process and people's desire to apply the processes of the strategy project beyond its original scope. Three new Task Forces have formed (BLPs, NASA, and Analytics), and the team is looking forward to seeing others form as well.

Google Grant and Visit[edit]

In February, the Wikimedia Foundation received a $2 million (USD) grant from the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation. This is the Wikimedia Foundation's first grant from Google. The funds will support core operational costs of the Wikimedia Foundation, including investments in technical infrastructure to support rapidly-increasing global traffic and capacity demands. The funds will also be used to support the organization's efforts to make Wikipedia easier to use and more accessible.

Several Wikimedia Foundation staff members met with Google product and engineering managers in Mountain View to discuss possible opportunities to work together, ranging from infrastructure and open source technologies to public outreach programs. Google has designated a liaison contact for all future Wikimedia Foundation inquiries.



As noted in the previous report, Danese Cooper joined the Wikimedia Foundation as CTO, succeeding Brion Vibber. Erik Moeller and the Wikimedia Foundation technology team organized several orientation and transition meetings.

The process for decommissioning old, out-of-warranty Wikimedia Foundation servers and donating them to non-profit organizations continued in February:

A follow-up meeting took place between Wikimedia and Microsoft Research India regarding MSRI's efforts to develop wiki language collaboration tools.

Wikimedia's BugZilla server was updated to version 3.4.5 with REST APIs:

A bug that caused 1.3 million Wikipedia article revisions from 2005 to appear as blank pages was resolved.


The usability beta was enhanced on February 4 with the following features:

  • Improvement in precision of navigable table of contents
  • Enhanced dialogs for links, tables, and search and replace
  • Language-specific icons for Bold and Italics

This release introduced an HTML iFrame element as a new technological foundation for richer editing features. Despite extensive cross-browser testing, the release introduced problems in editing such as extra line breaks, and the iFrame deployment and features dependent on it were rolled back for the time being.

Babaco Release page,

Blog: Deployment of Babaco Enhancements,

Browser Compatibility Matrix for features in Babaco,

Blog: Iframe bugs,

In February, design refinements and development of template collapsing and expansion features continued and staging in the usability sandbox started. The objective of template collapsing is to hide complex wiki syntax from the editor, which is important because, we observed that templates are an intimidating factors for new users.

Based on the evaluation of proposals submitted by usability study firms, gotomedia was commissioned to conduct the last round of the usability study. The focus of the study is to evaluate the template collapsing and expansion features, and overall improvements in usability for the last twelve months. gotomedia:

February ended with a total of 571,579 users having tried the Beta. Approximately 59,100 additional users tried the Beta in February. This number is down slightly, even considering the fact that February is a shorter month. The cumulative retention rate across all projects held steady at 79.8% as of February 28.

Regression tests across all supported browsers, interaction automation suites were set up using the opensource quality assurance software, Selenium. This test automation system will be used by the user experience team to increase the efficiency of software testing and release cycles. The plan is to open up this automation system to the wider MediaWiki developers community. Selenium,

Multimedia Usability Project[edit]

Development of the new upload interface continued in February and preparations for setting up the system infrastructure for prototype system started. Product specification for a temporary staging area for incomplete uploads has started.

A call for proposals for the first study of the multimedia usability initiative was initiated. Four usability study firms submitted proposals. A usability study firm in San Francisco, gotomedia, was chosen based on quality, cost, and references. The study is scheduled to be conducted in March 2010.

Guillaume Paumier and Neil Kandalgaonkar appeared on IRC office hours on February 4. They received lots of interesting questions, including technical questions, from the participants.

Other Program Activities[edit]

During February, Frank Schulenburg and Pete Forsyth embarked on writing a grant proposal for the second phase of the Public Policy Initiative. The Initiative's overarching goal is to develop a model for how to systematically improve articles of a specific topic area by encouraging and enabling subject-matter experts to contribute to Wikipedia. For this purpose, the Wikimedia Foundation will reach out to faculty members at select universities and encourage them to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool during the fall semester 2010 and the spring semester 2011. Over these two phases of the project, the Wikimedia Foundation will pilot in-classroom and didactic usage and improvement of Wikipedia in an experimental manner. Ongoing and systematic metrics development and evaluation will measure the project's success in terms of article improvement and educational experience.

Pete and Frank continued to strenghten the Wikimedia Foundation's ties to universities by giving a presentation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Under the title "Wikipedia – the encyclopedia that works only in practice, not in theory" they gave students and faculty at Harvard an introduction into the internal mechanisms of Wikipedia and answered the diverse questions of the audience. The presentation was part of a new lecture series called "Digital Workshops for Students" at the Kennedy School's Joan Shorenstein Center.

The Public Outreach Team did preliminary/exploratory work toward developing opportunities for collaboration and education among the community. Pete explored a possible partnership with Ontier, a producer of screen casting software; and had discussions with Howie Fung of the User Experience team about the dynamics that surround editor departure. Frank launched a chapters events calendar on the Outreach Wiki; and the Public Outreach department had preliminary discussions with Eugene Kim and Cary Bass about establishing a Compassionate Communications training program for community members.

Also in February, Frank hired Rod Dunican as a Education Programs Manager. Rod is a senior learning professional with more than twenty-five years of experience in corporate training, consulting, coaching, and project management, working in the areas of organizational development, operations, marketing, eLearning and instructor-led training programs. He will be the Project Manager for the second phase of the Public Policy Initiative.

Cary Bass worked on organizing the Wikimania Scholarships committee for Wikimania 2010 in Gdańsk. He also a acted as a staff coordinator for the very first meetup of San Francisco Wikipedia volunteers in the new office. Furthermore, Cary organized the relaunch and rebranding of the Living Persons Task Force on the English Wikipedia and selected, appointed and installed the current ombudsmen commission.


A busy, though short month for Wikimedia communications. The Google grant announcement mid-month delivered the highest amount of coverage - resulting in more coverage than the closing of this year's annual campaign. Other coverage through the month focussed on general Wikipedia topical issues and interviews with Jimmy Wales.


Wikimedia Foundation announces $2 million grant from Google 17 February 2010, Donation will support capacity investments in Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects.

Telefónica and Wikimedia Foundation Partner to Advance Learning and Increase Access to Free Knowledge 1 February 2010, Strategic partnership will improve access to Wikimedia educational and informational content in Latin America and Europe. *

Blog posts

Media contact

Major coverage through February

1. Wikimedia and Telefonica partner to expand access to Wikipedia (February 1) Considerably less coverage of the Telefonica/WMF partnership than previous major telco partnerships. Most media outlets copied press release verbatim or offered neutral perspective on the details.

2. $2 million Google grant for Wikimedia Foundation (February 16-17) Heavy coverage of Google's grant/gift to Wikimedia Foundation later in February, in major blogs and mainstream media around the world. Prompted by an advance tweet from Jimmy, news spread quickly on blogs with mainstream coverage following the formal press release on February 17. Mostly positive coverage, with many bloggers highlighting the positive intentions of Google (most coverage focussed on Google rather than Wikimedia or Wikipedia).

Other worthwhile reads

Communications campaign update

The Fenton communications team continued work on the three key communications products associated with part two of the campaign: the wikimedia story presentation, a leave-behind printed product, and a story video. The team held a consultation with Sue Gardner in late February to break down the basic pieces or 'acts' of a Wikimedia presentation, and submitted an initial creative brief framing up a collective voice for the communications products.

Fenton and SeaChange strategies also conducted survey design work with Wikimedia Foundation staff for the first qualitative, on-line focus groups of Wikimedia donors. This data will be combined with broader survey results to form a draft, compound demographic analysis of our donors - culminating in an donor audience tool to determine next steps for strategic outreach with donors.

During Februay, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews with SWISS Magazine (Basel, Switzerland); Televisió de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain); NHK (Tokyo, Japan); KCBS (San Francisco, California, USA); DataCenterDynamics (San Francisco, California, USA); Wall Street Journal (New York, New York, USA); Associated Press (San Francisco, California, USA);UN Special Magazine; Wall Street Journal (New York, New York, USA); Denver Post (Denver, Colorado, USA); Parade Magazine (New York, New York, USA); Media Bistro (New York, New York, USA); Cell magazine (New York, New York, USA); BBC 2 (London, United Kingdom).

Fundraising, Grants, & Partnerships[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation received 3,450 donations in February, totaling approximately USD 2,108,885. Year-to-date, the Foundation has raised USD 11,259,228 in individual donations, 50% above its annual goal of USD 7,500,000. In February, the Foundation also raised USD 500,000 of restricted and unrestricted grants, brining the total fundraising related revenue for the year to USD 13,309,228, 43% above the goal of USD 9,297,000.

The Community Giving team continued to wind down the 2009-10 Annual Fundraiser. The team entered in the final gifts from Dexia, Moneybookers, Citibank, and various other accounts in order to complete the transaction record for the fundraiser. They also processed refunds for suspected and real fraudulent credit card transactions. The Community Giving team began the 2010 Fundraising Survey project in conjunction with SeaChange to better access our donors and messaging.

In the area of major gifts, the month of February was packed with donor stewardship meetings, both to thank recent donors and explore new partnerships. In addition, Rebecca Handler planned and led a three-hour stewardship workshop for the board, and met with Jimmy Wales to discuss his Davos trip and our upcoming trip to New York City. Jan-Bart attended a donor meeting and was on message and a wonderful ambassador for the Foundation. Rebecca helped Anya prepare for the World Affairs Council, which ended up being a successful sold-out program on February 22nd.


In February, the Legal Department won an important domain-name decision through a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) proceeding and blocked a commercial entity from using the domain name "". The decision was tweeted to general approval in the community. Mike increased demand letters and other actions against trademark infringers, domain-name squatters, and other unauthorized users of Wikipedia marks. This action is in line both with the Foundation's efforts to build positive branding of the Wikimedia projects in the public interest world and with our business partnerships that center on co-branding.