Wikimedia Foundation Report, November 2010
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- 1 Highlights
- 2 Data and Trends
- 3 Financials
- 4 Preparations for Wikipedia's 10th anniversary
- 5 2010 fundraising campaign launches
- 6 Technology
- 7 Research and Strategy
- 8 Community
- 9 Global Development
- 10 Communications
- 11 Human Resources
- 12 Finance and Administration
- 13 Office of the Executive Director
- 14 Visitors and Guests to the SF Office
- 2010 Wikimedia fundraising campaign launches on November 12
- New upload wizard for Wikimedia Commons launches in beta
- Preparations begin for 10th anniversary celebrations with launch of ten.wikipedia.org
- Public Policy Initiative launches leaderboard showing results
Data and Trends
- The monthly report card for November 2010 (partial data) can be found at:
- Global unique visitors:
- 411 million (+0.6% compared to previous month / +18.8% compared to previous year)
- (comScore data, all Wikimedia Foundation projects)
- Page requests:
- 14.9 billion (+2.8% compared to previous month / +24.5% compared to previous year)
- (Wikimedia Foundation data, all Wikimedia Foundation projects including Wikipedia mobile)
Full community metrics for the month of November are not available as of this writing due to an extended outage of the database dump production server that provides the underlying source data.
- Operating revenue for November: $6.5MM vs plan of $3.9MM.
- Operating revenue year-to-date November: $10.1MM vs plan of $5.3MM.
Revenue YTD is on or over target in all areas.
- Operating expenses for November: $1.4MM vs plan of $1.7MM
- Operating expenses year-to-date November: $5.9MM vs plan of $8.2MM
Underspending MTD is due to: timing of capital expenditures and internet hosting ($300K- capex and internet hosting-amounts were budgeted evenly over 12 months rather than reflecting the timing of the data center build-out and consequent increased hosting costs) and underspending in staff-related costs ($160K-salaries, taxes and benefits due primarily to hiring delays as well as staff development partially offset by recruiting and immigration expenses). Overspending for the month was primarily in bank fees ($86K), legal fees ($32K) and travel and conference expenses ($34K).
Underspending YTD is also due to above items of timing of capex and internet hosting ($1.4MM - these funds will be spent), staff-related costs ($0.9MM) as well as outside contract services ($0.1MM) and volunteer development ($0.1MM). Overspending YTD is primarily in bank fees ($0.1MM), travel and conference expenses ($0.1MM) as well as in grants and awards ($0.1MM). Overages in grants and awards were due to the the Wikimania scholarships, grant to Wikimania Poland and sponsorship of WikiSym Poland-scholarships being budgeted over 12 months instead of 1 month. However, by year-end, grants and awards are expected to be near budget.
Cash and investments as of November 2010 totaled $16.5MM (as of Nov 30, approximately 10 months of expenses).
Preparations for Wikipedia's 10th anniversary
We launched ten.wikipedia.org, a dedicated wiki to support community celebrations of Wikipedia's 10th anniversary on January 15, 2011. We finalized designs for related merchandise and overall event branding, and made them available to the community for customization and localization:
We finalized our media outreach plan related to the 10th anniversary and began contacting long-lead monthly magazines.
Wikimedia Fellow Steven Walling will provide support throughout the preparations and celebrations, by reaching out to communities, helping organize the event pages, supporting the distribution of event kits, etc.
2010 fundraising campaign launches
On November 12, the Wikimedia Foundation "soft-launched" the 2010 fundraising campaign, with an official launch on November 15. It is the most ambitious fundraising campaign in Wikimedia's history, with a campaign goal of $16 million.
As always, the fundraiser represents a large, collaborative undertaking both within the organization (community department staff, engineering, communications, global development, finance, legal), between the Wikimedia Foundation and the international Wikimedia chapter organizations, and with the larger global Wikimedia community. The 2010 fundraising team had sought deep community and chapter engagement from the start, and through November, we saw unprecedented participation from the entire Wikimedia movement in running a successful campaign.
The following Wikimedia chapters worked directly with the Wikimedia Foundation and processed funds in their respective countries: Wikimedia Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. This was possible in part because Wikimedia Foundation had spent time in prior months to work with chapters in clearing any legal hurdles to directing donors to them, and putting in place chapter fundraising agreements. The funds donated to chapters will support program work within their geographies, but chapters also support the Wikimedia Foundation directly.
The engineering team for the fundraiser enabled a successful launch without any major hiccups. Many improvements had been made leading up to the launch, and new technology continued to be developed, tested and deployed through November, with special focus on testing mechanisms to increase the efficiency of the donation process and reduce drop-off (for example, by testing a donation form that only requires a single step to complete a donation, instead of two steps). The new CentralNotice (banner management) system makes it possible to manage our now very complex campaign, with geo-targeted banners and an intense testing schedule.
We got off to a very strong start by using the time-tested "Personal Appeal" from Jimmy Wales. Traditionally, this has been used later in the campaign, but was started earlier because of its strong pull and the ambitious fundraising goal. As expected, donations decayed over time as highly receptive givers made their donations. The fundraising team has tested many different approaches to appeals, regularly increasing donation rates over what was currently running, but not turning the tide of declining donations overall. We ended November with a cliffhanger, with some fear that we would not be able to make our fundraising goal by December 31 and that fundraising banners would have to be run all the way through the 10th Anniversary on January 15.
The fundraising team worked hard in November to develop messages written by, and in collaboration with, Wikipedia editors that might be more effective than the appeal from Jimmy Wales.
Monthly report on engineering activities in November 2010 can be found at http://techblog.wikimedia.org/2010/12/december-2010-wmf-engineering-update
- Data Centers: After extended discussions, an anticipated large-scale donation of equipment for the new data center in Virginia did not come through, and we began implementation in Virginia consistent with the original budget. We expect to sign a lease with a co-location facility in December, and hopefully to begin building in January. In Tampa we will be consolidating our servers on to one floor.
- Data Dumps: There was a serious failure of the server that hosts all data dumps made available through download.wikimedia.org, causing an outage in both access to existing dumps and in routine creation of new dumps. This is a high-priority issue for us, but may take some time to fix. It affects our ability to generate various statistics, such as editing activity.
- Media Upload Wizard: A major improvement in the upload experience, this feature was deployed in Beta as per the terms of the Ford Foundation grant that funded it. Details: http://blog.wikimedia.org/blog/2010/11/30/upload-wizard-launches-beta-wikimedia-commons/
- Pending Changes (Flagged Revisions): Phase 2 of this quality control feature was deployed in November, with improvements to diff page viewing speed and small user interface improvements. We are awaiting feedback from the English Wikipedia community on the future of this feature. More information: http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Pending_Changes_enwiki_trial
- Improved Analytics: Open Web Analytics modifications to support integration for Fundraising were completed and will be deployed once new operations infrastructure is in place.
- Code Review: In September we had 1400 open issues that had been open for some time, creating unhappiness in the volunteer developer community. We created a staff and volunteer tiger team to attack the problem. As of November, 800 requests were remaining.
Research and Strategy
The product strategy team (Howie Fung and Erik Moeller) began drafting a whitepaper analyzing both the Wikimedia projects in their environmental context, and current numerical trends with regard to community health and community development. The whitepaper further offers hypotheses as to how different product development priorities (e.g. focus on rich-text editing, focus on discussion systems, focus on interaction between new and experienced editors) are likely to help the Wikimedia movement achieve the strategic priorities identified through the strategic planning process and most sharply articulated through the five-year targets established by the Board of Trustees ( http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:Five-year_targets ). The paper will be complemented with results from the Editor Trends Study currently conducted by Diederik van Liere on contract with the Wikimedia Foundation ( http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Editor_Trends_Study ).
The working draft of the whitepaper can be found at: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Product_Whitepaper
Erik Moeller researched issues around upload of restricted filetypes, and management of large inflows of multimedia contributions (such as smartphone uploads). Related initial proposals can be found here:
With the exception of the Public Policy Initiative, the Community department was mainly preoccupied with coordinating the 2010 fundraiser and supporting the preparation of the 10th anniversary (see above). The two Russian Wikimedia fellows continued their development of a history of the Russian Wikipedia.
Public Policy Initiative
November started with Frank Schulenburg and Rod Dunican attending the Open Educational Resources 2011 conference and presenting the Public Policy Initiative at the Mozilla Drumbeat conference in Barcelona for learning innovation. While students in classes worked on articles, Frank created a new tool, the "PPI Leaderboard", to track student contributions and provide a level of competition between classes. The leaderboard tracks not just edit counts but also overall quantity of material added to articles. (Qualitative measures are coming.)
In November, the PPI team met with Liz Allison of the Stanton Foundation for the mid-point stagegate meeting. She was very happy with where the project is to date and at the end of the meeting said, "This is exactly what we expected from the initiative. This is what we wanted. Keep going."
We contracted with Liam Wyatt to support preparatory work surrounding the GLAM-WIKI conference in the UK. WMF also approved and paid grants to the Argentina chapter. For more information on grant status and reports, please always consult:
We made further progress on the development of our offline strategy: namely, to approach those without Internet access primarily through offline computer-based programs via education channels. In the developing world, the total number of primary and secondary students and teachers with access to computers is approximately 550M. See below for details:
Our team continued work on researching and developing strategies for mobile with a focus on the needs and opportunities in the Global South: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mobile
We worked with Orange and Telefonica to continue and enhance our mobile partnerships.
Siska Doviana from Wikimedia Indonesia visited for the last part of the month. She worked on a variety of projects, including documenting the history of Indonesian chapter, creating a skeleton of an international visitor program, and providing suggestions for a potential global campus program.
Barry Newstead, supported by Bishakha Datta and Achal Prabhala, continued work on the recruiting for an India National Program Director. WMF worked with legal counsel on options regarding the potential setup of our office in India.
Carolina Rossini continues to work with the Wikimedia community in Brazil to understand the opportunities for growth of the community and readership; her first interim report has been submitted and is, or will soon be, available on the Brazil Catalyst Project page (which is written in both English and Portuguese) on Meta:
Kul Wadhwa and Jessie Wild made arrangements for a visit to Brazil in January.
Recruiting in Global Development
Winifred Olliff was recruited as Program Assistant to support the Chief Global Development Office and the team including work on the grants process, merchandise management and other GD activity areas. We continued discussions with candidates regarding Chapter development.
During November, Wikimedia spokespeople worked with over 45 global media outlets, including: CBC Radio, BBC Radio and TV, Channel One Russian TV news, Charlie Rose, NPR, Business week, CBS interactive, Canadian Business Magazine, Slate Magazine, Cinco Dias, and The Daily Telegraph.
Please also see the detailed weekly news summaries by the Wikipedia Signpost:
- Work continued in November on the refining and editing of the WMF Strategic Plan document. Design concepts were finalized and text was finalized in draft state.
- The WMF Annual Report was supported by an outside design strategist and journalist/writer. The report format was streamlined and visual research for photographs and charts began.
- Through November, communications worked with a design strategist and WMF merchandise/printing supplier, Social Imprints, to refine a series of branded Wikipedia merchandise products, and start formulating an online webstore strategy.
- Dario Taraborelli, Research Consultant (Tech/Product)
- Winifred Olliff, Program Assistant (Global Development)
- Bryony Jones, Program Assistant (Community)
- HR Generalist (HR)
- Controller (Finance)
- Data Analyst (Tech)
- Software Developer, Features (Tech)
- Performance Engineer (Tech)
- November was mostly about clean up in preparation for new processes, the HRM system, and getting ready for the end of the year. November and December are slow hiring months, and we will need to get better processes in place to support the hiring we need in order to make thoughtful choices about onboarding and good hiring. Since we have such an ambitious hiring plan, we need better infrastructure to support that.
- There was much movement on the General Counsel front as we ramped up the search and did several long panel interviews with 10+ candidates, which netted us some good prospects. We are being thoughtful about the type of hire we make here, and have gone through an extensive (and at times exhaustive) search to make just the right match for the rest of our team.
- Bill Gong, Accounting Manager and Financial Analyst departed.
- Total Employee Count:
- Plan: 76, Actual: 63
- Remaining Open positions to fiscal year end: 29
Finance and Administration
The Finance Team updated the Finance Corner on the Office Wiki with an updated Purchasing policy as well as updated procedures for Purchasing, Contracts and Expense Reports. The Finance Team also conducted trainings on the new policies and procedures with both new and existing staff.
Office: The 6th floor build-out for the Community Department was completed ahead of the rest of the build-out so that they could be settled to focus their efforts on the Fundraiser. The general 6th floor build-out continued.
Office IT: The stability of the wireless network was increased. Six laptop models were evaluated for future hardware standardization, and a presentation was given on Google Apps.
Office of the Executive Director
Between November 20 and December 6, Sue Gardner visited Stockholm, London, Dubai and Delhi. She spoke at three conferences, was interviewed by 16 journalists, met with about 50 Wikimedians as well as a few supporters and friends at cultural institutions, and interviewed candidates for the Wikimedia Program Director for India. The trip had multiple overlapping goals - to advance awareness of Wikipedia (particularly during our fundraising season), to encourage people to try editing, to support chapters, and to find out a little more about the challenges and opportunities faced by editors in the Middle East. On the whole, the trip was successful and we will probably aim to do similar ones in the future, building on lessons learned this time.
Visitors and Guests to the SF Office
- Matias Attwell (Terra)
- Cristiano Perozzo (Terra)
- Maximillian Klein (Public Outreach)
- Siska Doviana (Volunteer Global Development)
- Professor David Silver (University of San Francisco (and his daughter Siena))
- Professor Crispin Thurlow (University of Washington (Dept of Communications) and Professor Irina Gendelman from Saint Martin's University (Instructional Design)
- Denny Vrandecic
- Anya Shyrokova
- Liz Allison (Stanton Foundation)
- Phoebe Ayers (Board member)
- Liam Wyatt