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Wikimedia Foundation Report, March 2010

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

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

Data and Trends[edit]

Reach of all Wikimedia Foundation sites:

371 million unique visitors (rank #5)
+13.3% (1 year ago) / +7.4% (1 month ago)
Source: comScore Media Metrics

Pages served:

11.7 billion
+0.3% (1 year ago) / +0.0% (1 month ago)

Active number of editors (5+ edits/month)

~+1% (1 year ago) / -0.76% (1 month ago)

Source: March 2010 Report Card


Operating revenue year to date: USD 14.3MM vs. plan of USD 9.0MM
Operating expenses year to date: USD 6.3MM vs. plan of USD 7.1MM
Unrestricted cash on hand as of April 28: USD 12.8MM while unrestricted CDs and US Treasuries were USD 8.7MM

Strategic Planning Project[edit]

The working groups have finished most of their preliminary planning with the help of The Bridgespan Group. The strategy team will spend April and May finalizing and integrating that work into a cohesive plan. The Strategy Task Force has made progress toward drafting a movement-wide set of goals and priorities. A draft for comments should be completed by the end of April. There have also been a number of substantive conversations about the scope of content across different Wikimedia projects, which has resulted in a new Task Force.




Wikimedia sites suffered from a global outage on March 24, that lasted up to several hours for some users, due to a DNS corruption problem in the standard fail-over procedure to divert traffic from Amsterdam to Tampa. The tech team have reduced the Foundation's DNS update interval from standard 30 minutes to 5 minutes, and will be reviewing enhancing notification / escalation procedures to keep communications better informed of status during outages.

The entire Tech Team came together in San Francisco for its twice-annual Tech Meeting, and discussed both plans and issues. The plan for Operations has been further developed in the Tech Strategy Work Group.

The Amsterdam network has been extended for the upcoming server capacity expansion. This new network equipment will also be used to migrate to a much more fault tolerant network topology.

Preparations were made for the caching servers expansion in Amsterdam, and new servers were ordered. The team expects to complete the expansion by the end of April.

External Storage (i.e. wiki revisions data) was re-compressed into a more efficient format: from 1.9 TB to about 140 GB, a saving of 93% on our storage servers.

Rob Halsell made progress on research and experimentation with Ubuntu Cloud for the development server cluster.


The technology team released a new version of the Wikimedia Mobile App to the iTunes store which is awaiting Apple acceptance. The team is also on the verge of deploying a new version of the Mobile Server and migrating m.stats to stats.wikimedia.


A planning group on analytics begun assessing different options for web analytics and other analytics requirements across the whole Wikimedia Foundation. Privacy issues were a key part of the discussion to-date, and both open source and proprietary solutions have been considered. The group expects to reach a better sense of decision tradeoffs (features/cost/privacy/timing/risks etc.) by May.


The usability beta was updated on March 17, to decouple the HTML iFrame, which introduces considerable additional complexity, from the features for inserting links, tables and, search & replace. Dialog features were enabled for over 500,000 beta users.[1] The main features for Citron, such as template collapsing, inline expansion and the dialog for templates were enabled for the usability study. (Citron features are not available for wider audience due to iFrame dependency.)

The third round of the usability study was conducted in March in partnership with gotomedia. Ten people participated at Fleischman Field Research in San Francisco and eight other participants were surveyed remotely using web conference technology. The objective of the study was to evaluate the new features such as template handling features (collapsing, inline expansion, and pop-up) and side-by-side preview tab and overall evaluation of the Stanton Wikipedia usability project. The findings from the study and videos will be published in early May.

The usability team is preparing to offer the usability beta as default user interface and interaction to all Wikimedia projects. The beta has been tried out by over 600,000 users since August 2009, and an average of 80% of users continue using it. The plan is to roll out to Commons on April 5, and evaluate the responses and system capacity and continue on to Wikipedia and the rest of Wikimedia projects towards end of the month. The announcements were made though WMF blog and tech blogs. [2][3][4]

March ended with a total of 635,942 users having tried the Beta. [5]

Multimedia Usability Project[edit]

Development of the new upload interface continued and the prototype was staged in a lab environment. The two types of user flow are staged, 1) “my own work” and 2) “found on Internet.” The user flow which requires author's permission will be staged later time. Once the prototype is finalized, it will be used for the usability study and be opened up for the community for feedback.

Assets uploaded but missing mandatory information, such as author or copyright status, require flags or some protection, so that assets are not distributed without permission from authors or without confirming the appropriate copyright status. A feature for incomplete uploads that supports graceful handling of this interim status is under active discussion.[6]

The usability study was postponed from March 30 and 31 to early May, in order to incorporate feedback and avoid conflicting schedule with conferences in the second half of April. Ten study participants were recruited and screened for the usability study through the banner on Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. The usability study will be conducted in partnership with gotomedia.

Other Program Activities[edit]

During March, Rod Dunican, Pete Forsyth and Frank Schulenburg finalized the grant proposal for the second phase of the Public Policy Initiative. They started to outline a Wikipedia Campus Ambassador training and certification program as a key deliverable of the Initiative. Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors will serve as trainers, working directly with classroom instructors to teach the basics of Wikipedia editing. Furthermore, Campus Ambassadors will help to start Wikipedia student groups, facilitate the exchange of ideas regarding Wikipedia as a learning tool, and plan social events. The grant proposal outlines the establishment of this Campus Ambassador Program and includes a high-level program view of the Ambassador training sessions.

Frank Schulenburg also participated in a video conference with the winners of Google's Kiswahili Challenge in Nairobi/Kenya. The participants of the Challenge discussed with Frank, Erik Möller, Naoko Komuara and Samuel Klein Wikipedia's upcoming new usability features, Wikimedia's outreach resources and opportunities for the contest participants to get more involved in the Wikimedia movement.

As part of the Wikimedia Foundation's strategic planning process, Frank Schulenburg embarked on planning the outreach department's priorities for the fiscal year 2010/2011. Together with the members of the Program Team Workgroup, he worked on a mission statement for the Program Team, the Team's core processes, and the potential implications for the future structure and activities of the Program Team.

Rod Dunican, Wikimedia's new Education Program Manager, started to discuss a potential meeting – "Using Wikipedia as a Learning Tool in the Classroom" – with librarians and professors. He reached out to instructors who are currently using Wikipedia as a teaching tool and have first-hand knowledge of the pitfalls and successes that the Public Policy Initiative may experience. Rod investigated their interest in sharing their experiences with WMF and helping the Wikimedia Foundation to develop sample lesson plans and other instructional materials for universities. Pete Forsyth continued his communication with schools who participated in phase one of the Public Policy Initiative. He secured verbal commitments from professors for the second phase of the Initiative.

Pete worked with contacts at Harvard's Taubman Center --who wish to dedicate 18 public policy case studies under a Creative Commons license for use in the Public Policy Initiative-- to clarify licensing issues and seek consensus on how to move forward. He also met with the Internet Archive, American Field Service, and BunchBall, and explored Yahoo Answers and the Open Directory Project, in ongoing efforts to stay abreast of current thinking about online communities and volunteerism, and to maintain a network in that arena.

Pete also began to coordinate the setup of a Contact Relationship Management database for the program team. Together with members of Wikimedia's tech team he set up a CiviCRM installation for testing purposes and started to get trained.

Furthermore, Pete started to plan a meeting with members of the German Mentoring Team, to be held in April in Berlin. The meeting will aim at sharing best practices and discussing the necessary steps for building sustainable Mentoring Programs in other Wikipedia language versions.

Cary Bass worked with the User Experience team to plan and develop the roll-out of Vector onto the Wikimedia projects; including advanced planning for the development of the Wikipedia 2.0 logo for extended languages. With Sara Crouse, he organized the Wikimania 2010 scholarship team. In conjunction with Austin Hair, Cary updated 2009's scholarship application and database, submitted the call for applications and worked with making phase one application review work efficiently for scholarship team.

Cary coordinated the board certification of the results of the Steward election.

On March 26 and 27, Erik Zachte attended the Critical Point of View conference (CPOV) in Amsterdam. (Mark, Jose and Hay also attended one day.) The CPOV conference brings together researchers and Wikipedians from around the world to share and build insights into the complex and messy reality of Wikipedia: What are the new processes for determining the threshold of knowledge and how do they actually play out? What are the new relations that emerge between this knowledge reference and external institutions such as schools and governments? How is agency distributed within the Wikipedia platform? The conference was staged by the Amsterdam-based Institute of Network Cultures (INC) and the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society (CIS). It's the second event staged by those two organizations: the first was 'WikiWars,' in Bangalore, India in January 2010. In September 2010 there will be a third even in Leipzig, Germany. Erik reported back that the conference was very well organized, with pictures and talk summaries later put online at networkcultures.org/wpmu/cpov/. About 100 people attended.


March was a quiet month for media coverage and communications operations. Major media interest focussed on Wikipedia downtime in late March. Jay Walsh spent much of March focussing on strategy/business plan support, support and planning for vector roll-out, and design strategy planning.

Blog posts

Blog traffic peaked later in March, on both techblog and Wikimedia blog with global interest in brief WP downtime.

Media contact

Major coverage through January

1. Suspected gunman had Wikipedia connections (March 5) [7]

Some neutral-tone coverage through the US about a gunman who open-fired on the Pentagon in March, who allegedly had connections to Wikipedia, as well as many other online properties.

2. Wikipedia as a trusted news source (March 15) [8]

Moka Pantages garnered a few tech headlines and considerable micro-blogging mentions during a SXSW presentation in Austin focussing on digital journalism.  The claim that Wikipedia should be trusted as a news source was backed up by bloggers and supported by reporters attending the social media gathering.

3. "Get Video on Wikipedia!" (March 18) [9] [10] [11]

The campaign to get video on Wikipedia, led by Kaltura and the HTML5 open video alliance received headlines in mid-March.  The news focussed on major advances in open video and HTML5 and how these improvements stood to increase the quality and quantity of video on Wikipedia. Coverage was largely positive.

4. Wikipedia down (March 24)[12][13][14]

A one-hour plus downtime for Foundation web properties in late-March resulted in a deluge of tech blogger and micro-blogger coverage. Most coverage was short and neutral in tone, and quickly updated once the site resumed service.  Major media combined the news with the similarly but unrelated timing of a youtube.com site outage.

5. Wikipedia readies for User Interface overhaul (March 26) [15][16][17][18]

Largely positive coverage of the blog post from the Wikipedia Usability team announcing the details of the forthcoming vector roll-out on Wikimedia Foundation properties. Coverage on almost all major tech blogs, as well as main stream media.

Other worthwhile reads

During March, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews with the Wall Street Journal (New York, New York, USA); the Associated Press (San Francisco, California, USA); National Public Radio (Washington, District of Columbia, USA); PR Week (London, United Kingdom); the National Post (Toronto, Canada); ABC News (New York, New York, USA); CNBC (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA); Together Magazine (Brussels, Belgium); Daily Princetonian (Princeton, New Jersey, USA); Streaming Media (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA); Radio Netherlands (Hilversum, Netherlands).

Communications campaign update

Fenton's communications work through March focussed on refining concepts for the executive presentation kit, as well as presenting refined concepts for an accompanying video. Wikimedia fundraiser research focussed on evaluating pre-existing donor research ideas and refining ideas for the upcoming donor survey.

Fundraising, Grants, & Partnerships[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation received 1,968 donations in March, totaling approximately USD 99,095. Year-to-date, the Foundation has raised USD 11,358,323 in individual donations, 53% above its annual goal of USD 7,500,000. Including revenue from restricted and unrestricted gifts the Wikimedia Foundation has raised USD 13,408,323, 45% above the goal of USD 9,297,000.

In March, the Community Gifts began planning for the 2010 Annual Fundraiser. The team began compiling reports of the make up on the Foundation's donors and the effects of various donor cultivation and stewardship efforts. The fundraising department plans to use the reports to fuel planning and upcoming budgets.

In addition, the Community gifts team continued working the 2010 Fundraising Survey with intents to understand the Foundation's donors, how they perceive the foundation’s work, and what kinds of interactions would be most valuable in maintaining long-term philanthropic relationships. The survey will launch in May after translation efforts are completed.

With the assistance of the Technology team Community giving posted and boarded activity recruiting for two staff positions to support the 2010 Fundraising efforts. These positions should mitigate peak demand for engineering to support Fundraising without diverting resources from other technology functions.

Major gifts activities in March including working with Bridgespan on the fundraising business plan, mapping out and event for the end of 2010, developing fundraising communications for Jimmy Wales and preparing for April donor meetings in New York. In addition, Rebecca conducted prospect/donor meetings with over ten individuals.


The legal team began a pro-bono relationship with the Perkins Coie law firm, which may be able to provide significant litigation work for the Foundation.

Business Development[edit]

Business Development focused its attention on mobile and offline areas and its development in the strategic plan. In March Kul and Tomasz attended Mobile World Congress and spoke at the event about user data, trust, and the worldwide growth of content on mobile devices. Kul is directing developments in mobile apps with existing partners Orange and Telefonica, and is working toward a system to engage with many more partners in geographic regions such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and throughout Asia. Kul is also working with various partners to test several initiatives to bring Wikipedia in offline forms/devices in markets. Currently the focus on offline Wikipedia has been on market research and product development with market and distributions tests soon to come.

Finance & Administration[edit]

In March Veronique and KPMG worked to finalize the 2008 Form 990 Tax Return. The return was approved by the Audit Committee on March 24. The Board of Trustees will be presented with the final Form 990 during their April meeting in Berlin, Germany.

To facilitate the rapid growth of Foundation staff as outlined in the preliminary version of the Strategy Plan, the administration team visited a vacant office space on the 6th floor of 149 New Montgomery Street, in San Francisco. After their visit the administrative team began negotiating a lease and hope to obtain the 6th floor to facilitate the Foundation's projected growth. With the current growth rates the Foundation will likely require the extra floor by early 2011.

Bill Gong, the Foundation's accountant, began working with vendors to find an updated accounting system for the Foundation. Currently the organization has been using Quickbooks, but with the rapid growth of the organization this software is no longer a practical solution. The accounting team hopes to find a system that will be compatible with the open-source fundraising software CiviCRM.

Visitors & Guests[edit]

In March, the following people visited the Wikimedia Foundation offices for meetings and talks: Jesse Ansubel of the Sloan Foundation; Melissa Hagemann, Advisory Board member and Senior Program Manager with the Open Society Institute; a delegation from the Chinese State Department; New York Times journalist Jenny 8 Lee; former IDEO engineer and founder of BunchBall, Rajat Paharia; User:Erdrokan from Switzerland; a delegation from intercultural learning and student exchange non-profit AFS Intecultural Programs; User:Elonka; Bishakha Datta; Meghan Murphy of the X Prize Foundation; Megan Smith of Google, and Thomas Dalton of Wikimedia UK.

Staff Activities[edit]

Arrivals and Departures[edit]

No changes were made during March.

All-Staff Meeting[edit]

The bi-annual All Staff meeting was held on March 4th and 5th. Sue opened this year with an overview of the goals and targets coming out of the Strategic Plan for the next 5 years including a focus in on the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Bridgespan attended the meetings and helped facilitate as we broke into groups by department to determine the necessary positions and logistics that would get us from here to there with an emphasis on the next fiscal year.