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Wikimedia Foundation Report, September 2010

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki


Four videos of Wikimedia volunteers were released in September 2010. They are intended to serve as public outreach resources.
The new article feedback feature is being tested to explore the value of reader ratings of Wikimedia content.
Indiana University students listen in Barry Rubin’s class, which is participating in the Wikimedia Foundation’s Public Policy Initiative.

Data and Trends[edit]

The monthly report card for September 2010 can be found at:
Global unique visitors:
398 million (+6.6% compared with previous month / +22.1% compared with previous year)
Page requests:
13.7 billion (+5.4% compared with previous month / +20.2% compared with previous year)
Active Wikipedia Editors (>=5 edits/month):
82,503 active editors (-3.3% compared with previous month / -5.6% compared with previous year)
New Editors (editors who completed their first 10 edits in a given month):
15,805 new editors (-10.5% compared with previous month / -17.4% compared with previous year)


Operating revenue for September: $156K vs plan of $233K
Operating expenses for September: $1.1MM vs plan of $1.6MM
Operating revenue year-to-date: $440K vs plan of $631K
Operating expenses year-to-date: $3.2MM vs plan of $4.5MM

The MTD and YTD underages are primarily in unrestricted gifts. For both MTD and YTD, more than half of the underspending continues to be in capex and internet hosting primarily due to amounts being budgeted evenly over the year thus not reflecting the ramp up in costs once the Virginia data center is built out and operational. Other underages included personnel (salary, wages and benefits) for several open positions and staff development costs, partially offset by recruiting expenses, and underages in outside contract services, mainly offset by overage in grants and awards and much smaller overages in legal expenses, facilities and travel.

Cash as of end of October (latest available) was $11.9MM.


In September, the Engineering Programs Office started publishing a monthly public update of all projects we are working on. The September report can be viewed at:


The most recent report can be found here:


Notable in September, the Wikimedia Foundation published its roadmap for the development of the “Pending Changes” feature, following community discussion and trial of the technology. Pending Changes is used on the English Wikipedia to moderate edits by new users on selected pages. See the roadmap:


Also notable is the work done on CentralNotice in support of improving banners for the Fundraiser. This work will be useful for any and all banners needed in future on any Wikimedia Foundation site, including better Geo-Location to target geographically relevant banners, and much streamlined banner creatiion.

Another interesting bit of work in September was a new feature, Article Feedback, which was rolled out as a pilot as part of the Public Policy Initiative. We’re watching this feature very closely to see if it gives us plausibly accurate measures of the quality of a given article based on reader feedback. The intention was to be somewhat more sophisticated than a single “how many stars” popularity measure. The team that worked on this pilot worked very quickly in what we hope will be a more normal mode for initial features development (to pilot stage), and are to be commended for getting to an acceptable level of implementation on time.

What we learn from this pilot will feed into another iteration of the feature in coming months, and possibly wider deployment. FAQs regarding the feature can be found here:


Work by both staff and community members has continued on deploying Selenium, a software testing framework which will serve all MediaWiki development, and should prove beneficial to Wikimedia for a long time to come.

Interviews and Hires for this past month: promoted: Mark Bersgma to Operations Engineering Program Manager, hired employee: Carrie Smith, Assistant to the Office of the CTO, conducted interviews for Director of Technical Operations.

Conversations: Final meetings with Co-Location providers and key meeting with potential hardware donor for Virginia Data Center, Meetings with Research Firm about project to look at future Mobile trends in the developing world.



Preparations for the fundraiser continued with short weekly tests. We tested many different banners suggested by community members. Unfortunately, no banner was found that beat last year’s best: “Please read: a personal appeal from Jimmy Wales”. But it was found that graphical versions of that banner performed almost twice as well as text-only banners. More than $50,000 in revenue was raised in our short hour-long tests in September. Several temporary staff were hired to support the fundraiser, including Wikimedians living in India, Egypt, and a few cities in the US. Several of these employees were discovered through the “open call” posted on the site in July.

In September, we received 884 donations totaling $56,713.

Fellowship Program[edit]

Also recruited through the “open call” were September’s two Community Fellows: Victoria Doronina and Maryana Pinchuk. They are working on a history of the Russian Wikipedia. Victoria is a long time Russian Wikipedian and former Russian Arbcom member. Maryana is a Phd candidate at Harvard’s department of Slavic Languages and Literature.

Our first fellow, Steven Walling dug into a couple of projects, one supporting the Board in thinking about harassment policies, and another to support organizing around 10th anniversary events.

Public Policy Initiative[edit]


The fall terms at US universities participating in the Public Policy Initiative started in earnest in September. Most of the Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors visited classes, giving students an introduction to Wikipedia and answering their questions; several Ambassadors have also led lab sessions or office hours, where students get a hands-on tutorial of the first steps of becoming an editor. Many classes have become active on Wikipedia, with students creating accounts, testing the wiki in sandbox, choosing Online Ambassadors as mentors, and selecting articles to work on.

Annie Lin has also been traveling throughout the eastern part of the country, visiting most of the professors and Campus Ambassadors participating in the fall semester as well as meeting with people interested in coming on board for the spring semester. These face-to-face conversations have served as effective check-ins, allowing different parties to discuss what is working well and what could be improved (and how).

Interest in article assessment for the Public Policy Initiative is picking up. Amy Roth ran some preliminary data analysis which indicates that Wikipedians are fairly consistent in their assessment of article quality. A group of public policy expert volunteers has started assessing articles, so there will some comparative results soon. Also, the Article Feedback Tool is piloted on the public policy and readers have started rating public policy articles on Wikipedia (see [4] for first results)

Wikipedia Ambassadors[edit]

The outreach team proposed a draft set of Wikipedia Ambassador Principles [5], which we will work with the Ambassadors to refine and hopefully officially adopt in the coming weeks. Frank, Annie and Sage initiated the “Ambassadors Steering Committee” in mid-September, and quickly added four Wikipedia Ambassadors to the committee. This is the beginning of the process of turning control of the Wikipedia Ambassadors program over to volunteers. The committee, chaired by Campus Ambassador PJ Tabit, will be working with all the Ambassadors, as well as the broader community, to chart the course of the Wikipedia Ambassador Program, both in the next academic term as well as subsequent terms after the Public Policy Initiative concludes. The committee has been meeting weekly; meeting notes are available at [6].

Public Outreach Resources[edit]

In September, we created a landing page for the bookshelf materials on the outreach wiki. It contains all finalized materials of the Bookshelf Project as well as other educational materials relevant to our projects. The page can be reached through http://bookshelf.wikimedia.org.

Also in September, Pete Forsyth organized and led the “Screensprint meeting” in San Francisco. This screencast initiative is based on the observation that there are some pretty big challenges involved in producing a good screencast, especially if you’re on a tight budget and/or want to use free and open source software. Consequently, the goal of the 3-day Screensprint meeting was to create a framework of resources for creating screencasts on the English Wikipedia, intended to serve as a model for other language versions. During the meeting, a group of volunteers from different countries started the WikiProject Screencast [7] and created a number of brief videos that demonstrate how to create screencasts as instructional tools for Wikipedia newcomers.

Account Creation Research[edit]

Frank Schulenburg kicked off the new Account Creation Improvement Project [8] on the outreach wiki. The project aims at increasing the number of people who create a user account and actually start editing. It is rooted in the observation that the current process of account creation is not welcoming, it often looks complicated, it is overwhelming, and there is no follow-up. During its 8 month timeframe, the project will aim at improving the overall knowledge about what drives people who create a user account to start editing. For this purpose, it will experiment with different methods of welcoming and supporting new editors.

[1] http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/09/07/wikipedia
[2] http://www.foxprovidence.com/dpp/rhode_show/wildcard_93/collegebound-fixing-wikipedia-in-the-classroom
[3] http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Public_Policy_Initiative#Media_coverage
[4] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Article_feedback/Public_Policy_Pilot/Early_Data
[5] http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Ambassador_Principles
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Steering_Committee
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Screencast
[8] http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Account_Creation_Improvement_Project

Global Development[edit]

Barry Newstead visited India for introductory conversations with the Wikimedia community in India. The community had the first ever recorded meetups in Mumbai & Delhi. We had a meetup in Bangalore. Barry, board member Bishakha Datta and advisory board member Achal Prabhala met with the Wikimedia India chapter. In addition, Barry held meetings with the Free Software Foundation, Microsoft Research, Google, Omidyar Network, Ajay Sud (attorney), State of Karnataka’s Knowledge Commission and Indian Institute for Science & Technology. We had a range of press interviews during the week (http://wikimedia.in/wiki/In_the_news) and have begun to develop key messages about Wikimedia’s work in India. Barry also met with an initial group of candidates for the National Program Director for India.

WMF worked with several chapters on the legalities of our fundraising relationship. WMF hired Jane Peebles as counsel and we have hired counsel to support conversations with chapters in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Switzerland.

WMF and Wikimedia Germany came to an agreement on a new arrangement to support our fundraising relationship. Wikimedia Germany began work on a new subsidiary to support the relationship.

Kul Wadhwa traveled to Germany, France, Greece and Japan to build relationships to support global work in mobile and offline. He met with our partner Orange, and also attended two technology conferences where Mobile was a major topic of discussion. A key takeaway is that data services are of growing importance for mobile providers in the developing world, despite their immaturity. The challenge for mobile users is that data plans may be expensive and for Wikimedia, we need to figure out how to make access to Wikimedia affordable (ideally free).

We had a visit from members of the Wikimania Haifa team as part of their planning work. We also had a visit from Bruno Souza from Brazil. Bruno is a leading innovator within the Java Users Groups within Brazil and he provided us with helpful advice on Brazil.


The communications team released four videos that highlight the global volunteers of Wikipedia ( http://blog.wikimedia.org/blog/2010/09/24/four-videos-of-wikipedias-volunteers/ ). These videos feature Wikimedians from around the world. The footage was captured during Wikimania in Poland. Direct links:

The purpose of these videos is to serve as an instrument for public outreach, helping us to invite more people to contribute to our projects. Beyond online use, they will be used by the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia chapters at conferences, in meetings, and at other opportunities. Along with other public outreach resources, the videos (and subtitled versions thereof) can also be found through the Public Outreach Bookshelf: http://bookshelf.wikimedia.org/

The communications team also supported the development of the strategic plan synthesis that was shared with the Wikimedia Board of Trustees in advance of their meeting in October.

During September Foundation staff and spokespeople were in contact with the following media outlets - note a particular concentration of interviews in India during high profile visits: New York Times, NPR, CEO Middle East magazine (Dubai), Semana magazine (Colombia), Heise (Berlin), SiliconFlorist.com (Portland, Oregon), Ars Technica, Software Design Magazine (Tokyo), and Pagina 12 from Buenos Aires. Interviews and coverage from India included Financial Express, Times of India, Silicon India, DNA India, Business Standard (Mumbai), Daily Bhaskar, Indian Express Buzz, and The Hindu.

For a complete listing of media contact through September:
High profile media coverage through September:
“Wikipedia reveals mousetrap finale”
“Wikimedia opening offices in India”
“Wikipedia in the classroom” (coverage related to the Public Policy Initiative)
Other worthwhile reads:
Blog posts through September, 2010:
For lots of detailed coverage and news summaries, see the community-edited Wikipedia Signpost editions for September 2010:

Human Resources[edit]

In September the Wikimedia Foundation added four permanent hires (Cyn Skyberg - Chief Talent and Culture Officer; Melanie Brown - Office Assistant; Dana Isokawa - Assistant to the Office of the Executive and Deputy Directors; and Carrie Smith - Assistant to the CTO) and one fellowship recipient (Steven Walling).

The HR/Culture department spent some time this month planning and preparing for the All Staff meeting in the last week of October. The meeting was planned for Half Moon Bay, CA, and was a joint project with the Admin department in terms of operations and logistics. We met with the facilitator we ultimately ended up using for the All Staff, and built a potential agenda and outline for the meeting. The team also met with Phoebe Ayers, current board member, about potentially doing the opening talk for the meeting, which she eventually agreed to do.

Additionally, HR/Culture spent time reconciling the hiring plan and creating processes for tracking, managing and planning for staffing changes and development over time. In her new role, Cyn spent several hours getting to know the existing processes and walking through current procedures for hiring and onboarding. She and Daniel created a framework for future development of the department and began a goal setting exercise for the department for the month of October.

Further conversation for the month included the potential for an HRM system, which we are just starting to investigate. OrangeHRM (http://www.orangehrm.com/), is a serious candidate.

Total Employee Count:
Plan: 66, Actual: 58
Remaining Open positions to fiscal year end: 34

Real-time feed for HR updates: http://identi.ca/wikimediaatwork or http://twitter.com/wikimediaatwork

Finance and Administration[edit]

General updates from Finance and Administration:

  • Draft audited financial statements were completed in September (and approved by Audit Committee in October).
  • Upgraded broadband internet services to improve speed and capacity.
  • Upgraded phone and voicemail systems to improve capacity and functionality.
  • Drafted an initial floor plan for the 6th floor office space.

The audit committee requested that the finance department prepare some information about chapters, financial controls and movement-wide transparency. This was prompted by a desire to ensure appropriate controls are in place to manage donations flowing into and throughout the Wikimedia movement. In response to this request, the finance department spent much of September pulling together basic information about Wikimedia chapters (e.g., legal status, current fundraising practices, current state of reporting), including an assessment of potential risks associated with current roles-and-responsibilities between chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Office of the Executive Director[edit]

Executive Director Sue Gardner spoke at the New York chapter’s Wiki-Conference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/NYC/Wiki-Conference/2009) at the end of August, held at the Tisch School of Arts at New York University.

Later in September, Sue returned to New York with Erik, Zack and Sara, to present an update to the Sloan Foundation as we enter the final year of Sloan’s three-year three-million-dollar grant to the Wikimedia Foundation.

In May, the board had asked Sue to commission a study of what, if anything, should be done about controversial content on the Wikimedia projects. During September, consultants Robert Harris and Dory Carr-Harris continued their work, reviewing applicable research [1], and consulting with community members and external experts. In the final report, which can be read here, http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/2010_Wikimedia_Study_of_Controversial_Content, Robert and Dory recommend 1) that no changes be made to the way in which text-based controversial material is handled in the Wikimedia projects. They also 2) make a number of recommendations for action that falls within the bailiwick of the Wikimedia community: recommending that Wikimedia consider development of a Wikijunior project and that Commons admins consider how to tighten up some policies and their application, including elevating the ‘principle of least surprise’ to the level of official policy. And, 3) they recommend that the Wikimedia Foundation develop a feature to allow Wikimedia project users to opt into a system that would allow them to easily hide classes of images from their own view.

The controversial content study will be presented to the board at its meeting in San Francisco, in October.

[1] This included examination of cultural attitudes, regulation and/or filtering practices in over 70 countries including: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Throughout September, the Wikimedia Foundation continued the process of distilling the material on the strategy wiki into a high-level document to be shared with Wikimedia partners and supporters. To that end, Sue proposed to the board, and received approval for, five high-level targets for the Wikimedia movement, to be achieved by 2015. Also in September, our external writer developed several further drafts of the strategy document (including the targets), which were reviewed and refined by various parties including senior staff and board members. The near-final text of the strategy document will be presented to the board at its meeting in San Francisco in October.

With new board member Phoebe Ayers, Sue went to the the Quaker Center in Ben Lomond, California, attending a workshop called Business Among Friends: Clerking as a Spiritual Discipline, to explore methods of business decision-making used in the Quaker community. See Sue’s blog:

September 2010 Visitors to the San Francisco Office[edit]

  • Clay Shirky (Wikimedia Foundation- Advisory Board)
  • Kate Filbert (Screen Sprint)
  • Quiddity (Screen Sprint)
  • Another Believer (Screen Sprint)
  • Peregrine Fisher (Screen Sprint)
  • John Broughton (Screen Sprint)
  • Orangemike (Screen Sprint)
  • Laura Hale (Screen Sprint)
  • HJ Mitchell (Screen Sprint)
  • Nihiltres (Screen Sprint)
  • Dave Cummings
  • Mark Gibson
  • Daniel Scarpelli
  • Xochi Birch
  • Itzik Edri (Wikimedia Israel)
  • James Forrester
  • Austin Hair
  • Timothy Garton Ash
  • David Munir Nabti
  • Yasuda Yutaka
  • Rose Shuman
  • Special Agents from the San Francisco FBI Field Office, Cybersecurity Division (invited brown bag presentation)
  • Harel Cain (Wikimania Haifa Planning Team)
  • Deror Avi (Wikimania Haifa Planning Team)
  • Shay Yakir (Wikimania Haifa Planning Team)
  • Amir Aharoni (Wikimania Haifa Planning Team)