Wikimedia Foundation Report, June and July 2008
Hey folks - This is a particularly long report, since it covers both
June & July. Enjoy :-)
ED Report to the Wikimedia Board of Trustees
- Covering: June & July 2008
- Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
- Prepared for: Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
My Current Priorities
- Funders' Briefing preparations (including materials such as presentation, giving chart, annual report, etc.)
- Developing funding proposals for several foundations
- Orienting new fundraising team
- Ongoing major donor solicitation and stewardship
- Bits and pieces (Wikimania postmortem, office space revamp, launch of NomCom, etc.
In June and July
Much of June was spent developing the Wikimedia Foundation's first-ever annual plan, covering the 2008-09 fiscal year (July 1, 2008 – June 30, 2009).
Here is how the 08-09 annual plan was constructed: In planning spending, we started with 07-08 historical spending information. We modified those numbers in consultation with the staff and the board, adjusting for increased costs due to anticipated project growth and other changes, and adjusting for underspending in the prior year. We then approved new spending in key areas, consistent with our strategic goals. Also this year, for the first time in the Foundation's history, we have set revenue targets for business development and fundraising. The business development targets were set by Kul in consultation with Véronique; the fundraising targets were set by Sue, Erik and Véronique.
On June 29, the board voted to approve the plan, with this resolution: "RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees hereby approves management's proposed 2008-2009 annual plan of $5.97 million of annual expenses, $7.33 million of annual operating revenues, and an annual operating reserve of $1.36 million. If during the year management anticipates the annual reserve will differ materially from the planned annual reserve, the Board directs management to consult the Board Treasurer promptly." A presentation summarizing the annual plan, including the budget, revenue targets, goals and hiring projections, can be found here: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Finance_report. And there is a detailed FAQ here: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/2008-2009_Annual_Plan_Questions_and_Answers
At the end of June, at the request of Walter Vermeir, the board voted to approve an interim administrative procedure for looking after the Dexia account, currently maintained by Walter: "Whereas the Wikimedia Foundation seeks to improve the security and controls of transactions involving its Dexia Bank Account, the Board hereby approves the Interim Dexia Account Policy." It was also agreed that a replacement for the Dexia account, to be maintained by staff of the Foundation, would be implemented before the end of December.
Much of July was spent in preparations for the audit of the 2007-08 financial statements, such as reconciliation of fixed assets.
Our fundraising team is now almost complete. The following new staff were hired in June and July:
- Rebecca Handler, Head of Major Gifts (to begin August 4)
- Rand Montoya, Head of Community Giving
- Sara Crouse, Head of Partnerships and Foundation Relations
We will also hire a Development Associate to support the team. Rand has begun this hiring process in July.
Other important additions:
- Frank Schulenburg is now on-board full-time as Head of Public Outreach, and we are helping him relocate to San Francisco.
- Tomasz Finc has been hired as a full-time software developer, to begin work on August 4.
- Michael Dale has started work in the San Francisco office on open source video editing tools. His work is sponsored by Kaltura.com.
- Patti Melton is the new Personal Assistant to the Executive & Deputy Director; she started in mid-July.
Staff names and photos, as well as an organization chart, can be found on the Wikimedia Foundation's staff page: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Staff
Job openings will continue to be advertised at: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Job_openings
An all-staff meeting was staged in San Francisco on June 26 and 27. Day One focused on orientation and getting to know each other, as well as a presentation by Sue of the 2008-09 annual plan. Day Two focused on 2008-09 goal-setting. New staff members Rand Montoya (Head of Community Giving) and Rebecca Handler (Head of Major Gifts) attended all or parts of the meeting. Erik Zachte, who will be working with the Foundation as data analyst starting September 1, and Domas Mituzas, Board member and a volunteer on the technical team, also made it to San Francisco and attended part of the meetings.
The fourth annual Wikimedia conference, Wikimania 2008, took place in Alexandria, Egypt from July 17 to 19. The venue, the new Library of Alexandria, was well-equipped to host the more than 650 attendees from around the world. Talks and workshops in up to five simultaneous tracks gave attendees from inside and outside the volunteer community new insights into the Wikimedia projects, other free knowledge efforts, and the challenges facing us.
The conference received positive coverage in both Arabic language and world-wide media. Journalists James Gleick (the Wall Street Journal) and Noam Cohen (the New York Times) provided in-depth coverage from Egypt:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121815517776622597.html http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/business/media/21link.html http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/17/wikipedia-goes-to-alexandria-home-of-other-great-reference-works/
Arabic press clippings have been compiled by the Library: http://www.bibalex.org/isis/Frontend/News/Newspaper_archive.aspx
Videos from the conference can be found online both on the Library's website, and on Kaltura's Wikimania video website:
Library collection: http://webcast.bibalex.org/Home/List.aspx?Conference=6u0LkBzgNlZm+RzGhC/6Ag==
Kaltura Video archive: http://www.kaltura.com/devwiki/index.php/Wikimania_Sessions
More information about the conference can be found in our press release: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_releases/Wikimedians_Prepare_for_Wikimania_2008
And on the official Wikimania 2008 website: http://wikimania2008.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
Thanks to everyone who made the conference a success. As in previous years, the Wikimedia Foundation and the chapters used the conference for organizational meetings and work. This included:
- An Advisory Board meeting to discuss the Foundation's goals;
- A regular Board meeting and a Board Q&A panel at the conference;
- A press conference (thanks to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, we could provide real-time translation from and to Arabic);
- Various Staff and Board meetings with dignitaries and potential partners and supporters;
- An ad hoc meeting of chapter representatives;
- A presentation of the Foundation's goals & plans by the Executive and Deputy Director;
- Various discussions, both on the program and off, between staff, board, and volunteers..
A comprehensive postmortem of Wikimania is underway. Delphine has begun work on a survey soliciting input from attendees and speakers, and input has also been requested from the local planning team, the program committee, the scholarships team, the site selection jury and the staff of the Foundation. Results from a mini-survey given to the audience of the "Wikimedia 2008-09" talk will also be published.
Wikimania 2009 will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and bids for Wikimania 2010 are currently open at: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimania_2010/Bids
Board Meeting at Wikimania
Key outcomes of the Board meeting at Wikimania include:
- The Board has appointed Michael Snow as its new chair, replacing Florence Devouard, whose term expired and who chose not to run again.
- The Board has officially appointed Ting Chen, who was elected to the seat formerly held by Florence.
- The Board has approved the process for forming a Nominating Committee, which will begin a search process for the vacant appointed Board seats.
- The Vice Chair of the Board, Jan-Bart de Vreede, will officially function as "whip" to ensure Board member attendance and participation in the work of the Board;
Further details about the meetings will be published by the Board in its minutes and resolutions.
In July, Treasurer Stu West arranged for the Wikimedia Foundation to receive ongoing, free access to comScore Media Metrix internet audience measurement data. This gives us access to a world of useful information, including reach, ranking and raw numbers such as unique visitors monthly. Jay is handling the comScore relationship on behalf of the staff. Data and more information can be found at: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Stu/comScore_data_on_Wikimedia
In June and July, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews with the following media organizations: the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, PR magazine, National Public Radio (Baltimore), Newsweek, the Toronto Star (Canada), The Age (Australia), the Municipalist (Washington DC), the Canadian Press, the Courier Post (New Jersey), Publico (Spain), Haaretz Business (Israel), the International Regional Magazine Association, the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle (Texas), NBC 6 (Florida), Hot Press magazine (Ireland), NBC News (Florida), BBC News, the Rockford Register Star (Illinois), Human Events (Washington DC), Fox Business News, Ideal TV (Brazil), Agence France Press, the Allen Town Morning Call (Pennsylvania), the Sunday Times (UK), the Los Angeles Times, Al Ahram Hebdo, al Yom Al Seoudya, Nesf El Donia, Al Alam Al Youm, Al Akhbar, Rose Al Youssef, Al Ahrar, Al Dostor, German public radio (Heidelberg), WNYC Radio, the IDG news service (Florida), and the Baltimore Examiner (Maryland). http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_room/Media_Contact_2008
Sue is now represented by The Lavin Agency for speaking engagements. Her fees will be paid to the Wikimedia Foundation.
A first draft "messaging grid" was released to the staff to help in media and stakeholder communications.
Mike has followed up on several cases of trademark infringements, with some now resolved. We have also prevailed in the Barbara Bauer court case, concerning her biography on Wikipedia.
On June 9, Frank started a qualification program to train senior citizens of the 50-plus age group as "Wikipedia trainers". The goal is to enable the participants to run their own Wikipedia workshops in Internet cafés for older people, in order to increase participation among older people, who are underrepresented in the Wikimedia Foundation's projects. More information: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Trainers
On June 20 and 21, Sue attended the Wikipedia Academy 2008 Berlin, which took place in the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, with a focus on mathematics articles in Wikipedia. Photos can be found here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Academy_Berlin_2008
Frank has begun coordinating the production of a video tutorial about editing Wikipedia in collaboration with the German chapter. This video tutorial will be available in English.
Work has continued on the first Wikimedia survey of readers and contributors, which has now been fully translated into 16 languages. We hope to launch the survey in September in cooperation with UNU-MERIT.
As we continue to grow, our office set-up is rapidly approaching capacity. With the help of design firm Because We Can, we have now created several iterations of floor plans designed to optimize the current space. We are also beginning to explore longer-term options such as a radical overhaul of the current space, the possibility of accessing additional adjacent space, co-siting with like-minded organizations or renting satellite space.
Due to the rapidly developing technical ecosystem of Wikimedia, this report only tries to present a high level snapshot. Details concerning software development can be found in the weekly Wikipedia signpost newsletter. The June reports begin here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2008-06-02/Technology_report
The German experiment with the "FlaggedRevs" extension for edit review and patrolling continues. The feature allows regular contributors to review and flag changes made to Wikipedia articles, and to select the default version (most recent version, or most recent reviewed version) shown to readers. In July, the configuration on the German Wikipedia was changed to always show the most recent version, but this is not necessarily final: a poll was started to determine whether and how the feature should be used.
The general availability of the feature to all Wikimedia communities was announced on June 4: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2008-June/043691.html
This announcement included instructions for requesting the feature to be enabled. Several such requests have been entered into bugzilla.wikimedia.org, and will be processed in the coming weeks.
The FlaggedRevs extension continues to be rapidly developed by Aaron Schulz (under contract with the Wikimedia Foundation), based on bug reports and enhancement requests. Some additional tools have been developed by volunteers, such as the FlaggedRevs statistics tool at: http://tools.wikimedia.de/~aka/cgi-bin/reviewcnt.cgi?lang=english
Aaron has begun work on a "reader feedback" feature for FlaggedRevs to allow non-editing readers to rate articles. This widget will also plot graphs of the perceived quality development of an article over time.
- A new extension (TorBlock) has been installed, to regulate edits of Wikipedia through Tor, an anonymization network. Edits from unregistered users via Tor exit nodes are now blocked; and editors who are logged in via Tor are restricted until they have accumulated at least 100 edits.
[Summary adapted from Wikipedia Signpost]
- Many bugs affecting media playback using the Java-based Cortado player were fixed.
- Double redirects are now fixed automatically.
- New keywords __INDEX__ and __NOINDEX__ for including or excluding non-article pages in search engines were added.
- New static HTML dumps of Wikipedia are available at:
- Support for the Universal Edit Button extension has been enabled on all Wikimedia wikis.
- We're bringing onboard additional technology contractors to work on specific projects.
Fundraising & Partnerships
We've completed our transition to a new fundraising database, CiviCRM 2.0, consolidating two older databases. This database will be used to record our relationships with all donors, and to track all gifts. This was a major undertaking, and is a critical precondition to effectively conducting our fundraising work.
On July 9, the Wikimedia Foundation received a donation of USD 262K from the Stanton Foundation, a private foundation created to further philanthropic goals set by the late Dr. Frank Stanton, a noted American broadcasting executive and longtime president of the CBS television network. The donation is intended to support the purchase of database servers, application servers, network equipment and other hardware. The tech team has already begun to spend the money, and will begin to have the new hardware installed and operating in just a few months.
On July 31, fundraising strategy firm Building Blox led a solicitation training workshop in the San Francisco office. It was attended by Board Chair Michael Snow, Treasurer Stu West, Jimmy Wales, Head of Major Gifts Rebecca Handler, and Head of Community Giving Rand Montoya. Of that group, it's expected that only Jimmy and Rebecca will directly ask for donations; the goal for Michael, Stu and Rand was primarily that they be able to support efforts by Jimmy, Rebecca, Sue and Erik, as required.
Sara Crouse, Head of Partnerships and Foundation Relations, is working with Sue, Erik, Rebecca Handler (Head of Major Gifts) and Jay to plan and stage the Foundation's first-ever funders' briefings – informal events bringing together a few dozen current and potential financial supporters. The goal of the briefings is to share and discuss the Wikimedia Foundation's key goals and plans. We also hope to line up major donation commitments in advance of the online fundraiser which is planned to launch in late October.
Sara, with Sue, Erik and Frank Schulenburg, is engaged in the development of several major funding proposals for foundations:
- A proposal aimed at encouraging participation among technology-averse subject-matter experts: people who have a lot of knowledge to contribute to the projects, but who are currently dissuaded from contributing because they don't want to learn wiki syntax, and/or are experiencing
other technical or social/cultural barriers to participation.
- A proposal aimed at growing the Arabic-language Wikipedia and the Arabic-language Wikimedia community.
- A proposal aimed at building technical interfaces among wiki communities.
- A proposal aimed at staging an international slate of Wikipedia Academies.
Other Board Resolutions
On June 22, the board approved this resolution: "It is hereby resolved that the board of Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation approves the Duty Entertainment Guidelines policy," which can be found here: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:_Duty_Entertainment_Guidelines_Policy
On June 29, the board approved this resolution: "It is hereby resolved that the board of Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation approves the Pluralism, Internationalism and Diversity policy," which can be found here: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Pluralism,_Internationalism,_and_Diversity_Policy
On July 28, Board Chair Michael Snow sent an announcement to the foundation-l mailing list regarding the Nominating Committee, the body which will help the "community representative" board members fill the four seats on the board dedicated to specific skills and expertise. Michael laid out a proposed process for the work of the Nominating Committee, with the goal of having the seats filled by January. He also asked for community volunteers to sit on the committee: http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2008-July/044915.html
Mike is creating a new version of the Gift Policy: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Gift_Policy. The current version is a mix of policy-level material (guiding principles, etc.) and procedures-level material (e.g., requirements for acknowledgment "within two days of receipt"). The goal with the new version is to remove procedures-level material from the policy, and ensure that the remaining material is clear and understandable, and accurately reflects the Foundation's intent and practice.
A first version of the first-ever Wikimedia Foundation annual report will be released in September. This version will not include the 2007-08 financial statements. The report will be re-released including the financial statements, once the audit is finished.
The open source wiki-to-PDF technology developed with PediaPress.com will be rolled out, initially on Wikimedia Labs, followed by Wikibooks and other Wikimedia projects.
The reader feedback module for the FlaggedRevs extension will be tested on Wikimedia Labs.
Three new technology positions will be advertised: a mid-level software developer, an entry-level developer / IT suppport specialist, and a system administrator.
The Wikimania postmortem will be completed.