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Wikimedia Foundation Report, January 2010

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

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

Milestones from January

  1. Wikimedia's most successful fundraiser wraps up, raises $8 million (USD)
  2. Wikimedia Foundation hires Danese Cooper as Chief Technical Officer
  3. 2008-09 Annual Report released
  4. First hiring interviews for Chief Development Officer

Key Priorities for February

  1. CDO hiring continues
  2. Review of strategic plan recommendations at San Francisco Board meeting
  3. Preparation begins for five-year business plan

Reach of all Wikimedia Foundation sites:

365 million unique visitors (rank #5)
+25.8% (1 year ago) / +5.1% (1 month ago)
Source: comScore Media Metrics

Pages served:

11.1 billion
-3.1% (1 year ago) / +6.4% (1 month ago)

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

-1.4% (1 year ago) / +5.0% (1 month ago)

Source: January 2010 Report Card <http://stats.wikimedia.org/reportcard/RC_2010_01_detailed.html>


Operating revenue year to date: USD 11.4MM vs. plan of USD 8.6MM
Operating expenses year to date: USD 4.9MM vs. plan of USD 5.5MM
Unrestricted cash on hand as of 2/17/10: USD 14.2MM

Strategic Planning Project


This month marked the end of the second phase for Strategy development process. The team is now halfway through the process, and are moving into the third and final phase. On January 12, nine Task Forces delivered recommendations. A few weeks later, The Bridgespan Group delivered a synthesis of the strategic planning process thus far and its immediate implications for the Wikimedia Foundation's strategy. That synthesis drew from the recommendations and research on the wiki, and was also published on the wiki.

Feedback to the work thus far has been positive, and seeing an increase in participant growth on the wiki for the first time in several months. The end of this January saw the wiki surpass 900 contributors, and about 80 new contributors to the LiquidThread discussions.

Moving forward, the strategy team will focus on evaluation, prioritization, synthesis, and activation, with a goal to create consensus on the movement's priorities over the next five years. In order to do this, the team has formed a Strategy Task Force, which will focus on these issues using the same open methodology that the previous Task Forces used. The team are also working hard to bring even more participants to the wiki process.





In January, the Wikimedia Foundation completed its search process for a Chief Technical Officer, following the departure of former CTO Brion Vibber late last year. The new CTO is Danese Cooper. Danese has a wealth of experience in open source technology. Most recently, she developed open source strategy for the tech start-up REvolution Computing. Prior to that, she was Senior Director of Open Source Strategies at Intel from 2005 until 2009, and Chief Open Source Evangelist at Sun Microsystems from 1999 to 2005. In those roles, she led or supported major open source initiatives, including Sun’s OpenOffice.org application suite, the Java platform, JXTA, NetBeans, GridEngine, OpenSolaris and Intel’s Channel Software Operations and Moblin platform initiatives. Prior to working at Sun, she managed technology teams at Symantec and at Apple Computing for a total of nine years.

The search process was supported on a pro bono basis by Walker Talent Group.

Wikimedia Foundation contract project manager William Pietri posted a detailed update on the development and deployment of the Flagged Revisions technology, and the specific functionality requested through a community poll in the English language Wikipeda. Development and testing of the new functionality continues and can be tracked through a public project tracker.

Newly hired Code Maintenance Engineer Priyanka Dhanda completed her first project and upgraded Wikimedia's bug tracker, BugZilla. Priyanka is also evaluating alternatives to BugZilla and open source project management tools.

The GlobalUsage extension, which shows where in the Wikimedia universe multimedia files from Wikimedia Commons are used, was re-activated. This led to the development of new community scripts and hacks to make use of that data for statistical purposes.

Static files such as CSS and JavaScript files were moved to a dedicated set of cache servers to optimize performance: http://wikitech.wikimedia.org/view/Bits_and_pieces

A set of new search servers was deployed, which made it possible to lift previously implemented restrictions on the number of search results: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikitech-l/2010-January/046297.html

Code review continued for the MediaWiki 1.16 release.



The usability team continued its development work for the scheduled release on January 27th. This release replaces the plain-old text editing window with an HTML IFrame element , which allows more precise addressing of text for purposes such as navigation and formatting. It is also the foundation for the next release, Citron, which will collapse complex syntax such as templates to reduce the immediate complexity of wiki editing for first-time editors. The release also includes language-specific icons for formatting.

Due to an overwhelming amount of cross-browser testing for introducing the Iframe element, the release was delayed for a week and was released on February 4th. http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2010/01/babaco-enhancments/

Evaluation of usability research firms for the third usability study which is scheduled in March 2010 started. Three qualified usability firms were contacted for proposal submission, based on the evaluation from the submission in response to call for proposal for the second round of the usability study in August 2009. http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Usability,_Experience,_and_Progress_Study/CFP

In January, beta usage continued to increase. As of January 31, 2010, a total of 512,000 users have tried the beta. Out of these users, 409,000 have kept using the beta, a retention rate of 80%. In January, the monthly retention for all Wikimedia projects was 81.5%. This is down slightly from December 2090, where the incremental retention was 82.4%. This slight decrease is mainly caused by the decline of the retention rate of English Wikipedia, which was 84.3% in January compared to 85.6% in December. The retention of Japanese Wikipedia in the month of January has increased to 72.1% from 64.9% in December. http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Beta_Feedback_Survey

Multimedia Usability Project


A simplified and streamlined new upload interface design and user flow was proposed for discussion by Guillaume Paumier, product manager of the multi-media usability project. The next step is to prototype the new design and refine the user flow. http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Multimedia:NewUpload

Neil Kandalgaonkar, software developer for the multimedia usability project, completed his relocation to San Francisco.

The call for proposals for the first multimedia usability study has started. The plan is to conduct the study with ten study participants in March 2010. http://usability.wikimedia.org/wiki/Multimedia:UX_study,_March_2010/CfP

A project update was posted to the WMF blog by Naoko Komura. The story of successful multimedia assets donated from Galleries, Libraries, Museums and Archives, made possible by chapters and volunteers, and how these assets are integrated into Wikimedia projects, was told in a blog post by Erik Moeller.

Other Program Activities


During January, Frank Schulenburg and Pete Forsyth wrote a report about the first phase of the Public Policy Initiative, a pilot subject matter improvement initiative. The document gives a summary of the results of the planning phase (November/December 2010) and draws first conclusions for the design of the quality improvement phase (February 2010–September 2011). It documents the outcome of conversations with over 40 professors and other academics at nine major universities. The document is freely accessible on the outreach wiki:

To keep in touch with the participants of phase I, Pete wrote a newsletter that informed all faculty members about the current status of the project. As part of the planning for the second phase of the initiative, Pete reached out to retired faculty associations as an additional potential target group.

Marlita and Frank continued to work with the Bookshelf Project vendors. They finished the work on the video script about NPOV and Verifiability and reviewed the first version of the Welcome Packet content design. Marlita started to create the infrastructure for working with secondary school teachers and reached out to a number of institutions in order to create interest and to recruit volunteers. Finally, Marlita kicked off the relationship between WestEd, a national non-profit research and service agency working with education and human development communities, and the Wikimedia Foundation. As a result, Frank and Pete started a conversation with WestEd about the evaluation of Wikimedia's educational initiatives.

Frank attended a meeting organized by the Craigslist Foundation and discussed – with a group of changemakers from the Bay Area – how to increase the impact of communities by sharing success stories online. As a follow-up, Frank and Kathrin met with Peggy Duvette from Wiser Earth, a user-generated online community space for the social and environmental movement, and shared experiences about ways to document best practices.

Cary attended the Wikimeetup in Washington DC, the tour of the Library of Congress and dinner with numerous functionaries from English Wikipedia. Customer service and OTRS were among the discussion topics. Cary had meetings with Thomas de Souza Buckup about Wikimedia Brasil's future and relationship with the chapters and Siska Doviana from Indonesia about their upcoming contest and Wikimania sponsorship.



The 2008-09 Wikimedia Foundation Annual Report was published online. This is WMF's second Annual Report, and one of its key instruments of accountability and transparency to donors, partners and stakeholders. The report is a summary of the organization's financials, program activities, milestones and accomplishments for a fiscal year.

The report was designed by Exbrook in San Francisco. It includes a timeline of Wikimedia milestones together with significant world events, a spread focusing on Wikipedia's coverage of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, a global traffic chart comparing Wikipedia against other informational websites, feature pages about Wikimedia Commons, Wikimania 2008 and “Wikis take Manhattan”, as well as specific summaries of WMF and chapter activities. It was e-mailed to all Wikimedia Foundation donors.

The communications team in January was also busy following up on a very successful fundraiser, and preparing for major announcements in January and February.

Major press announcements

  • January 5- Wikipedia Annual Fundraiser Goal Supported by Record Number of Donors


  • January 28-Wikimedia Foundation Hires Danese Cooper as Chief Technical Officer


January blog posts

Major coverage through January

1. Wikimedia beats its USD 8,000,000 goal (January 5) Less coverage of our major fundraiser success this year than last, but still a lot of positive blog and mainstream media mentions. With the goal being met over the late December holidays, several key blogs drove coverage in December ahead of the press announcement on Jan 5.

2. Hebrew Wikipedia pushes past 100,000 articles (January 12) Hebrew Wikipedia's 100,000 article milestone made waves in a number of major Hebrew dailies and blogs, driven largely by the initiative of Wikimedia Israel. Coverage ranged from the ongoing question of credibility of information and facts on Wikipedia to the range of topics now covered.

3. Wikipedia's 9th birthday (January 15) Media outlets, bloggers, and microbloggers covered Wikipedia's 9th birthday again this year, with positive tone reflection on the value of the project. Coverage in India and southeast Asia focussed on related meetups and discussions about expanding the presence of Wikipedia in the region.

4. Coverage of our new Chief Technical Officer (January 28) Upbeat coverage of the hiring of Danese Cooper as CTO. Microblog traffic highlighted the very probably fact that Danese is the first female CTO of the top ten web giants.

Other worthwhile reads:

Communications campaign update, January 2010 Fenton shifted its annual campaign work towards post-event reporting in January, and is now in the process of developing a survey and report on our now 240,000 strong donor base, building on a previous effort to launch a donor survey. The report/analysis will provide us with direction and thinking about best methods for outreach and engagement with the donor base.

Fenton's work is also shifting towards a series of key communications products: a short, modular video project that will be used in major Wikimedia presentations, and for on-line sharing; a refined Wikimedia presentation system for use by staff and volunteer spokespersons, and a 'leave-behind' printed product intended to shed light on Wikimedia/Wikipedia history, movement, and direction.

During January, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews with Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA); NewTeeVee.com (San Francisco, California, USA); TheStreet.com (New York, New York, USA); Danish Broadcasting Corporation (Copenhagen, Denmark); New York Times (New York, New York, USA); CNN (Atlanta, Georgia, USA); El Universal (Mexico City, Mexico); History Channel (New York, New York, USA); Mail Today (New Delhi, India); The Daily Record (Jacksonville, Florida, USA).

Fundraising, Grants, & Partnerships


On January 5, WMF closed its 2009-10 annual campaign, its most successful fundraiser ever. We're grateful to every donor, and to everyone who helped to make the campaign a success:

A comparison of the 2009-10 campaign with the previous two campaigns can be found on this reporting page: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Special:FundraiserStatistics

The Wikimedia Foundation received 19,522 donations in January, totaling approximately USD 844,423. Year-to-date, the Foundation has raised USD 9,150,343 in individual donations, 22% above its annual goal of USD 7,500,000. Including revenue from restricted and unrestricted gifts the Wikimedia Foundation has raised USD 10,700,343, 15% above the goal of USD 9,297,000.

Within the first few weeks of the fundraiser, the Wikimedia Foundation met the conditions for a challenge grant of USD 500,000 from the Omidyar Network, by raising matching donations for every gift between USD 100 to USD 9,999. This matching grant proved an effective tool in raising the average dollar amount of a donation during the time it was offered.

During the campaign the Community Gifts and Communications teams saw positive results through enhanced marketing through Social Networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). The messaging displayed on the donations portal, site notices and Social Networking sites combined to provide a cohesive communications effort to our donors via multiple channels.

On the donations processing side, this year Wikimedia was able to offer donors the options of donating by credit card and via Mobile Phone (in US only). Donors located in the same country as a participating chapter also had the option of donating directly to their local chapter. We believe that an expanded array of donations options enabled the Foundation to increase its ability to appeal to a larger population of first time donors.

With the increase in donations the site also received an equal increase in direct donor communications. Over the few months, Anya and Megan have responded to over 1,000 OTRS questions and more than 200 phone calls from donors and non-donors on issues from refunds over technical issues to matching gifts inquiries. An estimated amount of over 5,000 emails from donors was received and responded to during the annual fundraising campaign by a dedicated team of four OTRS volunteers.

In January, Rand and the Community Giving team continued work on follow-up to the Annual Fundraiser: entering offline transactions, cleanup of donor records, and preparing reports. Rand also conducted several postmortems regarding the Annual Fundraiser and will compile those results into planning for the 2010 Fundraiser.

After an extensive search process, interviews began for the Chief Development Officer position, a leadership position for the fundraising department. The search process is supported by m/Oppenheim Associates: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Job_openings/Chief_Development_Officer

In the area of major gifts, Rebecca held several prospect & donor meetings throughout the month of January, including six in New York City where Jimmy joined her. She worked on finalizing details of a large gift (to arrive soon), and participated in the financial sustainability task force. Planning began for fall cultivation event in NYC hosted by two of our current funders.

With regard to Foundation Relations, Sara has been working with the public outreach team on developing a major grant proposal for foundation support for the aforementioned subject-matter improvement pilot program. Grant reporting to foundation funders also continued throughout January.

In support of the strategic planning process, Rebecca and Rand participated in the Financial Sustainability task force, which collaboratively developed several recommendations. Sara developed a proposal for a general partnerships strategy, in support of the Partnerships and Alliances task force.

Business Development


Business development finalized the Wikimedia Foundation's second major, multi-national telecom and mobile partnership with Telefónica, a Fortune 500 global telecommunications company. Telefónica is one of the largest in the world - with a major presence in Europe and especially throughout Latin America. This is a three-year worldwide deal where Telefónica operates: Spain, Europe (select territories), Latin America and US (Spanish speaking population only). Telefónica also runs a non-profit Foundation that supports non-business activities to promote education in Spanish and Portuguese languages and, with good faith efforts, will find ways to help us with the development of content in those languages (via chapter activities, etc). Telefónica companies will create new tools and applications to improve the functionality and accessibility of Wikimedia content on their multiple platforms such as mobile, web, IPTV, and other internet devices. Telefónica will also explore the development of offline readers for Wikimedia content.

Finance and Administration


Veronique Kessler and the finance team completed the client worksheets for the 2008 Form 990. She also researched cash management strategies and investment policy proposals.

Daniel Phelps kicked off an internal staff compensation committee. The committee consists of 9 Foundation staff representing different departments (technology, administration, programs, and fundraising). The committee will provide the Foundation's management team with a list of recommendations which could be implemented to improve recruitment and retention of skilled employees. Daniel has contacted a variety of like minded organizations to review monetary and non-monetary compensation.


In January Mike Godwin finalized and posted the new trademark policy, and authorized the obtaining of Cyrillic versions of the leading Wikimedia domain names in the .ru domain. He has also been interviewing candidates for summer legal clerkships.