Wikimedia Foundation Report, May 2009

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ED Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, May 2009

  • Covering: May 2009


Priorities for June[edit]

1. Finalize 2009-10 Annual Plan for WMF Board of Trustees Approval
2. Begin hiring the Strategy Development team
3. Conduct end of year staff performance evaluations and finalize individual staff goals

This Past Month[edit]


In May, the Wikimedia Foundation sites held steady as the number four most-popular sites in the world with 317,255,000 global unique visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix.

2009-10 Annual Plan[edit]

During May, the main focus for the Wikimedia Foundation was the development of the 2009-10 Annual Plan, with departments developing their funding requests for 2009-10. In addition to normal departmental funding requests, three proposals for non-recurring programmatic activities were developed:

  • Sue Gardner developed a proposal for the Wikimedia Collaborative Strategy Development project, in which the Wikimedia Board, staff, chapters and individual volunteers will work with each other and external experts and advisors, supported by non-profit strategy development firm Bridgespan, in order to collaboratively develop a five-year strategic road-map for the Wikimedia movement. This project began being discussed at the Board level six months earlier, and was first discussed publicly at the Chapters Meeting in Berlin in April.
  • Frank Schulenburg developed a proposal for the Public Outreach Bookshelf Project, designed to create a core set of awareness/engagement/training public outreach materials, in English, to later be translated, localized and used by volunteers and partner organizations such as schools.
  • Jay Walsh developed a proposal for a communications campaign,designed to increase public understanding of Wikipedia as a serious educational endeavor, and of the Wikimedia Foundation as a charitable organization.

The 2009-10 Annual Plan will continue to be developed throughout June, while simultaneously staff develop their individual performance goals for 2009-10. The Plan will be delivered to the Board of Trustees for approval in mid-June.

License Migration[edit]

On May 21, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees passed a resolution bringing about significant changes to the licensing of the content of the Wikimedia Foundation projects. This resolution follows a vote among the international Wikimedia community, during which 88% of all voters who expressed an opinion supported the change. It will result in all of the Wikimedia Foundation's projects moving from the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) to the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License (CC-BY-SA) as their primary content license. This change means that all Wikimedia project content will be more interoperable with existing CC-BY-SA content, and therefore easier to re-use in multiple ways for multiple purposes. The Wikimedia Foundation staff will now begin taking steps to ensure that correct, updated licensing is in place for all Wikimedia project content.

A press release about this important change can be found here:



The official Wikipedia iPhone client was beta-tested by a small set of users.

Erik Zachte submitted a new version of proof-of-concept Monthly Report Card statistics with enhanced views and has been generally moving forward on improvements to statistics generation. As the template matures and the generation of these statistics is regularized, we will develop a public version to accompany the Report to the Board.

Tim Starling continued preparing MediaWiki for a 1.15 quarterly release, which is expected to be complete in June. Tim also completed ongoing code reviews for the release and code updates on the live site.

The Collection (PDF book) extension was tweaked in response to issues with UI and save permissions, but continues to run.

Core Operations and Office IT[edit]

Database dumps other than the English Wikipedia full-history dump were all generated correctly and consistently, feeding Erik Zachte's statistics jobs and other uses. Tomasz Finc continues to experiment with Hadoop as infrastructure for the more scalable next-generation dump system.

Brion Vibber, Ariel Glenn, and Daniel Phelps reviewed candidates and conducted interviews for the newly created Head of Office IT Support position. After interviewing a variety of candidates, Steven Kent was hired to fill the position. Steve Kent comes to Wikimedia with more than 20 years of IT systems management experience. He has been in similar roles with several organization including; RR Donnelley, Charrette LLC, Communicomp and CMP Media. Steve was most recently the Director of Information Technology for Sandbox Studios located in San Francisco. Steve will start in mid-June.

Search servers were upgraded with additional RAM, improving search performance enough to enable advanced features such as spelling correction for all wikis. Old wiki configuration change requests were collected from Bugzilla and mostly completed.

The Ops team is experimenting with use of Puppet configuration-control system on a few servers. Initial test rollout uses these to replace more fragile data sharing such as NIS and LDAP for server-internal use.

Wikimedia's phone system was transitioned to primarily use plain old telephony (POTS) for calls, to improve call quality and reduce call drop problems. At present call usage, this is the cheapest solution. The phone system continues to run on the open source Asterisk PBX, and can be switched to IP usage as a backup and for external users such as the usability satellite office.

Other Program Activities[edit]

On May 3, Sue Gardner spoke at a Wikipedia Academy in Tel Aviv, organized by the Israeli chapter. About 250 people attended, and sessions covered the use of Wikipedia and wiki systems in schools, Wikipedia's credibility and neutrality, and legal aspects of free content and freedom of information. Almost all major Israeli newspapers covered the event, and it was favourably discussed in many local blogs, forums and bulletins. The Wikimedia Foundation congratulates the Israeli chapter for organizing a very successful event.

Planning continued towards a Wikipedia Academy with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, with a strong emphasis on creating a scalable event model with sustainable participation outcomes.

Jennifer Riggs has assumed responsibility for managing the Chapters Funding Request Process, and is beginning to also develop planning towards a Wikimedia Fellows and Interns Program.

Wikimedia participated in interviews with CNN (Atlanta, Georgia); the Associated Press (Dublin, Ireland); Agence France Presse (Paris, France); the Globe and Mail newspaper (Toronto, Canada); the television program 60 Minutes, CBS (New York, NY); City TV (Edmonton, Canada); the New York Times (New York); KCRW (Santa Monica, California); Bloomberg News (San Francisco, California); PR Week (New York); the San Francisco Daily Journal (San Francisco, California); the St. Petersburg Times newspaper (St. Petersburg, Florida); Business Week magazine (New York); (New York); and the Wall Street Journal (New York).

Fundraising, Grants, & Partnerships[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation received 1,126 donations in May totaling approximately USD 137,604. This included three large gifts which total USD 82,500. Year-to-date, the Foundation has raised USD 5,629,019 in fundraising related revenue, 41% above the annual goal of USD 4,000,000. When combined with unrestricted grants, the Foundation's fundraising department has raised a year to date total of USD 7,101,656, 43% above last year's total of $4,083,370.

Rand Montoya and Tomasz Finc are continuing to work with Four Kitchens on improvements to the CiviCRM fundraising database and a new payment gateway for the 2009-10 fundraiser, allowing direct giving via credit card through the Wikimedia interface. Rand has also started development of a donor survey with the help of a volunteer, Jeff Pilisuk, and has commissioned work on button designs for a potential permanent donation button as part of the sidebar of all Wikimedia projects.

Business Development[edit]

After finalizing the Wikimedia Foundation's recent business deal with Orange, Kul Wadhwa worked closely with the Orange team to insure the proper implementation of Wikipedia content into Orange web and mobile properties. Kul also negotiated and executed a licensing deal with Palm to include Wikipedia as part of the Pre WebOS platform and marketing campaign.


In May, Mike Godwin spoke at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference in Washington, D.C., and virtually attended a board meeting of the U.S.-based Student Press Law Center,a non-profit organization devoted to supporting student news media who face censorship. Mike and Erik Moeller, following consultation with colleagues at the Mozilla Corporation, began work crafting a plan to develop a set of policies and practices enabling appropriate usage of the trademarks by the chapters and community for activities in line with the Wikimedia mission.

Mike released a second version of the draft new Chapters Agreement to the chapters, and discussions about it began to take place.