Wikimedia Foundation elections/FDC elections/2015/Questions/1

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Info The elections have not begun. Candidates and votes will not be accepted.
Help translate the election.
Other languages:

Growth rates


How, in your opinon, should FDC determine whether proposed growth rates are reasonable or not? How would you define a reasonable growth rate? — NickK (talk) 22:12, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
A complex question NickK, thank you for pointing on this one. The answer depends on the program of chapter, I think. If the Annual Plan is rich with new activities and projects, and if the chapter attracts more members yearly, it would be appropriate for their rate to grow. Otherwise, the chapter members will not be able to fulfill their annual plan. All new members of FDC will have a proper training before start serving the committee, I hope the answer of this question is part of it. Regards, -Violetova (talk) 10:40, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
To determine the reasonableness of the proposed growth rate, FDC should consider the following points:
  • Background of the grant-seeking entity; whether the affiliate is in a suitable state of condition to maintain the growth rate.
  • Capability and capacity of the affiliate. Does the affiliate have sufficient capacity in terms of organizational aspects and manpower or volunteer base to execute the proposal? Won't it be a burden for the affiliate? Is the growth rate contextual with the affiliate's state of movement? Furthermore, the affiliate's experience in carrying out budget and executing programs should also be considered.
  • Impact of the the affiliate's proposed programs and events or other aspects of expenditure. Are all those aligned with the mission of Wikimedia movement? How much do the proposed events are supposed to make impact?
  • What are the particular factors in the budget that contributed to the growth rate? A detailed analysis of the budget (with reasoning from the grant-seeking entity) would clarify the rationality of the growth rate.
I would say reasonable growth rate as a consecutive effect or state which appears as a consistent demand for the affiliate. Besides, growth might be caused by drastic change due to organizational development, undertaking new projects or other economic factors, but these should be properly investigated in order to find out the underlying issues contributing to the growth rate.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
Excellent question @NickK and one that’s fundamental to grants that span multiple years. For one, the FDC is still an evolving body of the Foundation that is forming its funding principals and criteria as it learns from experience. In addition, growth can be defined differently across programs (E.g., growth in impact, growth in FTEs, growth in activity), which adds to the difficulty when trying to determine what is “reasonable.”

A simple, yet comprehensive, three-part approach, ranging from quantitative measures to qualitative one, can efficiently help determine a reasonable growth rate:

  • Metrics - Applicants must be able to demonstrate a quantifiable growth in their impact. They must be able to measure their progress towards reaching goals throughout their annual lifecycle. To accomplish this, a set of metrics must be reported to the FDC that compare baseline numbers to actual growth from previous years. One set includes the global metrics. And, grantees should also report on the outcomes of their own specific, measurable targets that they set out from previous years.
  • Capacity - Applicants must be able to show they have, or will have, the capacity necessary to accommodate their proposed rate of change. This includes leadership capacity (to motivate and see the mission/vision through), management capacity (necessary talent to drive planning and operations), and resource capacity (sufficient people and tools to deliver results).
  • Impact - It must be evident that the funds-seeking entity would outperform its impact given an increase in funding. That is, the impact of its program must be able to scale with the proposed request. They must be able to prove that their request would enable the applicant to be better aligned with the Foundation’s mission, vision, and strategy plan than they were previously.
Once these factors are taken into consideration, they should be compared against the calculated growth rate put forward in the request for proposal and used to recommend a reasonable grant to the WMF board. The recommendation should draw from the factors above and explain fully why the recommended amount would meet not only the applicant’s goals, but also those of Foundation and its community. Chsh (talk) 22:20, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Itzik Edri (Itzike)
As others already wrote, I believe that growth rate is not only a number, and should reflect more than that. As I wrote in my statement, the FDC, the foundation and the grantees are not like when WMIL is asking grants from foundation and organization in Israel, we are part of the same movement. Most of the time we know the people, we know the volunteers, there track of record, their organization history. growth of 200% for small chapter can be the result of hiring ED, while growth of %5 to big chapters budget (like UK and DE) mean hiring 3-4 staff persons. Last year I felt it personally with the amount allocated for WMIL and also appeal by WMIL to the board. So from one hand, we want to put attention for the affiliation growth, to see what they planning to do with the money, to see their goal, metrics, taking into considerations their history, reports, efficiently, but we also want to their success, and we need to see how we can make that happen. --Itzike (talk) 08:45, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)

Good question! It depends on the maturity of the organisation, and how much they are proposing to grow. Determining factors should include the level of quality and cohesiveness of their strategy, annual plan, and application; whether they have a past history of good work and the capacity to do what they're proposing; and whether they are responsive to questions and give good answers. Plus, of course, whether their growth offers good value and benefits the movement. There's also the knowledge of what happened to other entities when they were at a similar stage of evolution/growth.

There's no single reasonable growth rate. A small organisation may have a high growth rate by hiring a single addition employee; a large organisation likewise if they are embarking on a significant project. On the other hand, zero growth may be appropriate where organisations have gone through difficult times and need a period of stability, and negative growth may be appropriate where an organisation is refocusing its efforts. What constitutes a reasonable growth rate all depends on the organisation and its plans. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 14:56, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
The average growth rate for organizations' FDC allocations mathematically is always going to essentially equal the growth rate of the Board's allocation to the FDC. Thus if the Board increases the available funds by 5% the weighted average growth rate for the organizations' allocations will equal 5%. It's important for the organizations to understand this so that they will have reasonable expectations for the process. It's definitely not that all growth rates will be the same: for a 5% growth in available funds, the organizations growth rates might range between 15% and -5%. For smaller organizations, this range might be wider since they have a smaller effect on the average. The range for larger organizations might be narrower, since they have a greater effect on the overall average. The FDC doesn't set the average growth rate, it simply allocates it across organizations.

Averages, of course, are sometimes misleading. The individual organizations might consider the following factors that will likely effect how the FDC allocates the growth:

  • Size of the organization:
    • Smaller organizations can have higher growth without taking much growth from other organizations, but
    • Larger organizations often have the people and processes in place to grow more rapidly (over the short term)
  • Geographic diversity
    • The movement's goals are not limited to specific geographic areas, but cover the entire globe
  • Centrality to the movement's mission
    • For example if one organization will grow the number of editors worldwide, it will likely grow faster than another organization that only increases the number of photos in a small area.
  • Maturity of the project (example Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM))
    • Projects have different growth phases. Five years ago WLM was a new, fairly risky idea, but it took off with explosive growth. At that time the funding for WLM could also have explosive growth. The growth of the project started to level off after a few years, so the growth of its funding should also start to level off. Now it's in a mature phase and funding probably shouldn't grow much, after a few years (when all the monuments have been photographed!) funding should decline.
  • Readiness of the organization. This is the most important factor, and the one that's hardest to judge.
    • Are there people who can effectively implement the project and are there processes and other support for these people?
    • Is the organization's environment (e.g. country) ready for growth of Wiki-projects? One example of not being ready is for a county where foreign foundations aren't allowed to distribute funds.
Evaluating all these factors requires judgement, but organizations should always consider them when forming expectations of the expected growth rate.
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
  • A growth rate may only be determined as reasonable or reasonably interpreted when a detailed investigation is conducted on the applicant's budget (Annual Plan Grant) to reveal what may have constituted to the growth. Just merely analyzing the growth rate without any proper investigation could mean a lot of things (ambiguous). Many factors such as changes in prices, addition of new staff, other economics factors that may directly affect operational cost, increase in number of activities, etc. could be a contributing factor. Now the growth rate will be reasonable if the rate of growth of the factors or constituents are in line or grows proportional to the rate of growth of the budget (APG).
  • My definition of a reasonable growth rate is "it is the rate of growth that constitutes all the factors that marginally cause a difference (increase) in the budget (APG) of an applicant in which there is a correlation between these constituents and the rate of growth" Flixtey (talk) 12:57, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
I agree with the premise of the first half of the question but the real issue, as you have correctly surmised NickK, is defining what is meant by "reasonable". Yes - it is the certainly within the role of the FDC to determine if the growth rate of a applicant's budget (and, by extension, the organisation itself) is a reasonable course of action. There are at least two interdependent factors that should determine what is considered "reasonable" in each applicant's case - and both of them come down to context, both historical and cultural. Importantly though:
  • I don't believe a one-size-fits-all rule should be applied to all applicants, regardless of their current size/location/experience, and
  • I would like to support an iterative application process - giving applicants the chance to submit a draft, receive feedback from the community and the FDC, and then complete/adjust their work. This would allow applicants to develop a mutually agreed proposal with the FDC and not waste (often volunteer's) time.

The two most important kinds of "context" that I mentioned in the first paragraph are:

  • Historical context: The larger the growth that is implied by the proposed budget, the more thorough explanation and justification needs to be submitted. For an organisation to apply to grow rapidly then it needs to have both a detailed explanation of what the applicant will do with the money, but also a demonstration of the need that will be fulfilled/problem that will be solved with this growth. Growth for growth's sake is not a sufficient argument - especially for rapid growth. The flip-side to this point is that rapid growth from a small base should be treated differently from rapid growth in an applicant that is already relatively large: going from 1 to 2 employees in 2015 should not be considered the same as 20 to 40 employees in the same period, even though they are both "100% growth in staff".
  • Cultural context: The relative value - the purchasing power - of the money in the country being applied for should be taken in to consideration. The budget that is being requested should not only be compared against the organisation's own history (see previous point) but also compared to other applicants' effectiveness with the same amounts, taking into account the purchasing power in their countries. Yes, this places a burden of justification on the applicants coming from countries that are more expensive to show their programs are efficient. But, it also ensures that applicants from countries that are cheaper cannot use favourable exchange-rates to justify faster growth.
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
Great question NickK, thanks for asking Mykola. You are a candidate for FDC Ombudsperson, aren't you? The issue of growth rates is has led to hot debates in the past. The Board of Trustees has set guardrails on these. The FDC has been tasked with reviewing sets of proposals for Annual Plan Grants and recommending the Board of Trustees with amounts to be granted. Other factors than growth rate will drive FDC recommendations, for example effectiveness and impact of proposed programs.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
There is no hard definition for a reasonable growth rate (the FDC Advisory Committee initially proposed a maximum +/- 20% growth in funding for the first three years, but even at the time it was considered just a guideline).

To be more specific, there are two different growth rates here:

  1. the growth of the organization's budget;
  2. the growth of the FDC grant.

Whether the growth of your budget is reasonable depends on:

  • the programs you are planning. Money is meant to make programs possible; the question here is: do additional funds increase your impact?
  • your ability to manage the additional funds and activities. If the growth is too fast you will not be able to cope. You risk burnouts and not being able to reach your targets (which means that an higher target on growth can actually bring smaller results). The question here is: is your structure (both on the volunteer side and the staff side) strong enough?
  • your size. In proportion, small organizations may have a big growth just because they are small: simply hiring a new employee can result in a two-figures percent growth.
Regarding the growth of the FDC grants, it mainly depends the answers to the previous questions, but there is also an hard fact: the FDC budget is limited and it will not grow in the near future, therefore we can't expect all applicant organizations to have a steady growth each year.
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
Firstly, we have many growth rates:
  • financial: of a total budget or APG funding (see Glossary), in total income or spendings;
  • others used by FDC:
    • cost items like FTEs,
    • outcome like images uploaded,
    • efficiacy.

There is no golden set of growth rates. Every APG participant and their situation are different and FDC needs to consider them on individual basis, although using benchmarks and common sense to process the requests timely. The reasonable grow needs to be in line with grantee's capability (volunteers, skillset, structure, management...), proposed programmes, environment, possible outcomes, metrics of effectiveness&efficiacy, total APG budget. Targets should be realistic but not too cautious. History of applicants and perceived opportunities are important.

Hard fact is, that FDC needs to look for a path of grow for the whole Movement. Your programme might be good but you will be asked to tighten your budget if there are more promising ones. Fortunately, it is not an entirely zero-sum game: Affiliates can co-operate, good practices & competence centres across the globe can reduce costs or improve output, global capacity can be built. FDC can be asked for their opinions to find some solutions expanding the envelope; however that would mean even more work for already hard-working people and IMVHO it would be need to be done before the funding requests - so be careful.

Finally, while examining budget proposals, everything should be made as simple as possible. But not simpler. I agree with present FDC that some detail (e.g. see activities, then dedicate resources) is better than e.g. throw at everyone 103-105% (or 98%?) of the money they had last year. While neither FDC nor affiliates have time to go into overly big details and a lot of benchmarks and general assumptions need to be make and it is fine - some detail is more fair, flexible and capacity building - everywhere). Therefore, a budget growth rate would be one of the last metrics to check, mostly to see if there are any disruptions coming due to a significant cut or increase of the budget. Both circumstanses may demand an extra care.

One thing is sure: the budget growth or utilizing 100% of the budget should not be our ultimate goals. Some warn that every organization has a tendency to grow for the growth itself. Thus, it is great to expand capacity to propagate more great content and values but it is also great to stand back, saying "we can do it cheaper" or "we cancel", and not be punished.

The more funds raised the less problems with allocation?


Hi y'all! I am interested in your thoughts about following assumption:

  • The more funds can be raised the less problems will arise when allocating them.

I'd appreciate if in your replies you could refer to wikiverse examples of the last couple of years. Thanks and good luck! → «« Man77 »» [de] 08:46, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
Hi Man77! It depends on the nature of the problems, but in many cases money can not solve all problems. So I don't think that "more funds equal less problems".
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
I do not fully agree with the statement that having more money available to fund means the allocation process would be easier. What we currently see across the Wikimedia movement is that many affiliates, specially chapters have insufficiency in terms of volunteer base and manpower to carry out projects and making reports. Also there are lacking in managing proposed projects and planning yearly activities. So the actual problem doesn't just relates to availability of money but also to volunteer availability and management issues. And this is obvious that with more money comes more responsibility and the need for ensuring accountability.

I would like to refer to FDC recommendations for CIS in 2013-2014 round 2. We know that there has been much debate about CIS's activity and involvement with Wikimedia movement in India. And Wikimedians have reacted negatively with this issue. So what the concern is for? It is not obviously with availability of funding; money was available to fund what CIS proposed, but the issues that have been created due to operations and activities of CIS are the concerns to consider.

Though it is technically possible to fully fund proposals if WMF has raised enough money, but that doesn't make sense in assuring mission-aligned process to empower affiliates or furthering the movement. Funding should certainly depend on the level of impact the grant-seeking entity is going to make and its capacity to carry out budget along with accountability and transparency in this process.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
Thanks for the question @Man77. I wish it were that simple; however, the basic principles that guide the FDC hold true regardless of the total amount available to the Foundation and its applicants. The FDC must uphold its high standards to ensure every dollar is allocated efficiently to better Wikimedia's mission.

A larger budget would allow the program to scale larger, allowing other projects and applicants the opportunity to have an impact. Therefore, the issues shouldn’t disappear. In fact, there is a good quote by Jack Ma (founder of Alibaba) that sums up the FDC’s approach:

When you have one million dollars, you’re a lucky person. When you have 10 million dollars, you’ve got trouble, a lot of headaches. When you have more than one billion dollars, or a hundred million dollars, that’s a responsibility you have—it’s the trust of people on you, because people believe you can spend money better than the others.

Itzik Edri (Itzike)
I don't think the thing related. The foundation also have limited budget and controlled growth, although they can expend the fundraiser days and raise more money, allowing them to groove even more. But we are not focusing about only the fact that we want to groove, and wants bigger budget. We are focusing impact and programs. Right, most of the time it cost money, but huge impact can be also zero cost, or low cost. For example WMIL built great cooperation between some ministries in Israel - activity not related directly to budget and allocation. Again, budget of course needed for basic infrastructure and execute most of the plans, but first we need to have plans, projects and goals-then we should look for the money or the budget and see how we can support them. Not raising money, and then think what we should do with him. That's was the mistake we did few years ago, when chapters got 50% from the fundraising, non-related to their annual plan. Fact that flooded some of the chapters with too much money than they can handle and what lead us to the FDC - to a process that start from lets see what you need (and can do) - and then allocated the resources. --Itzike (talk) 14:56, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)
In some ways, I agree with that statement. In other ways, I don't. We're fortunate that Wikimedia has the level of donor support that it currently enjoys: this means that we aren't faced with decisions like "we have two fantastic project that would do a lot of good, but we only have the money to fund one of them", as we can just fund both of them. Instead, we are limited by the volunteer and organisational capacity to do many projects well, and that isn't a simple problem that can be sorted out just by having more money available to allocate. The best example I can think of to refer you to is the past FDC recommendations. In no round has the full amount of funding available through the FDC process, or the full amount requested by all entities, been recommended, with articulated reasons for not doing so. This may stop being the case as the organisations continue to grow, though, if that growth rate isn't matched by an increase in the money available through the FDC process, at which point the FDC may face the difficult decision described above. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 17:51, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
I respectfully disagree with the idea that "The more money we have to allocate, the fewer problems we'll have." It is true that "The more money we have, the fewer hard choices we'll have to make." The problem with having "too much money" is that it would be easy to avoid doing adequate analysis of potential projects (the type of analysis required by the FDC process) and ultimately waste the money. If organizations know that only good projects will lead to funding then they will be sure to propose only projects that they really believe will further the movement's goals. They'll be sure to come up with projects that they know they can properly implement. Once the money is allocated, they'll be sure to make the maximum effort to insure that their programs actually succeed. Thus the FDC will have hard choices to make, but the funding will be effective in reaching the movement's goals. Once a standard has been set, all wiki-organizations can see how the effective projects work, more ideas will be generated, and the entire movement will benefit. Smallbones (talk) 12:23, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
I beg to differ Man77, It may sound like having more money may lessen the problems of allocation and distribution, but it might not necessarily be the case. Bring this same scenario to the home setting. Am not sure if you make a million dollars today you will just give it all out without thinking of a way to recoup, rather you will find means and ways to put it to judicious use and even if possible invest to yield returns. This is not easily done as it requires thinking, adequate planning and effective execution.

Same would apply in the work setting, you will wish to put such funds into effective use and ensure that the moneys you give out goes to compliment your goals and vision (the reason why you made that money in the first place). So you can possibly make some more, especially when your investors realize that you have put their moneys to good use and into what they expected of you. Do you think things have been a lot easier today than when the foundation was started due to our current financial growth? More money doesn't necessarily breed productivity unless under proper scrutiny and prudent management. Flixtey (talk) 16:15, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
The truth in your statement is that if the total amount of money that is requested by all applicants is smaller than the total amount that the FDC is able to allocate, then it becomes technically possible to give everyone 100% of what they asked for. However, this is a simplistic solution. Have you ever heard the song Mo Money Mo Problems, with the chorus "I don't know what, they want from me / It's like the more money we come across / The more problems we see"? That, I think, fairly succinctly represents the issues facing the Wikimedia movement with a growing global budget and the creation of the volunteer FDC is a very good attempt to keep the budgets grounded in reality.
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
Sometimes more money will multiply problems, rather than making things simpler.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
I do not believe that having more money makes things simpler, if that's what you are asking. Quite the opposite: the more the funds, the more difficult is to manage them, and the bigger the responsibilities you have; and this apply both to the grantees and to the FDC.

From the point of view of the requesting organizations, it's much simpler to spend 100 $ well than to spend 100.000 $ well; and as the funds increase, the FDC has to put more effort in assessing the proposals and their results, and mistakes can have a larger effect.

The Wikimedia movement has now much more money than in its first years (by orders of magnitude), but things are not easier. Everything is much more complex. We are able to do more, to better support free knowledge, but we don't have less problems than in the past.
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
Hello Man77. I wish the life were that simple, unfortunately the answer is yes and many noes. It is true that more money means bigger chance to meet the requirements of all the affiliates' proposals you find substantiated, doable and healthy for the wikiverse. It is nice to not have to choose which great initiative is better. Unfortunately, more money means complexity and more problems.

Firstly, supply creates demand. With more money, proposals grow in their number and size - which is generally great but requires more attention and scrutiny as more programmes need to be controlled and one expects different standards from $10,000 allocation and $1,000,000 allocation. More fund flows need to be controlled, evaluated and compared.

Moreover, there is a hazard of lowering the bar too low (the volunteer time does not grow with the money, and there can be a pressure to spend and do things). Saying no in the volunteer-driven organization is a difficult task - see CIS - but sometimes a denial or recovery plan are required. In the same time, you are getting more and more into spotlight and, perceived as a mature organization, you are less and less allowed to make missteps. And there is an inevitable professionalization issue: more money with fixed volunteer base means more and more FTEs (which need to be evaluated), including FTEs for internal operations like reporting. In the end, you can achieve much more and fund your volunteers but you need to watch out to keep our grassroot spirit and not end up as a FIFA-like entity. Navigating a healthy grow is a gentle task.

Finally, big money mean big responsibility: not only in terms of financial audit but also in strategic planning. The more funds you have, the more strategic goals you can address and recommend to WMF and the Movement: put more stress on software development (and advocate particular targets, places to establish IT competence centres like for Wikidata, etc.), think big in Education or Global South programmes, support strategic partners, build endowment, you name it.

Therefore, more money = more responsibility and more work for FDC.

Quantitive metrics


Hi! In the past the FDC criticized that projects in annual plan lack quantitive metrics refering to the global metrics developed by the WMF Grantmaking team. But the greater problems of the movement are around diversity of contributors, growth in the "south" and at least stability in the "north", and winning and motivating volunteers is not likely to be measured in quantitive metrics. You can hardly tell, if a specific project oder activity produces contributors or content (in the aftermath). So the favored more quantitive metrics seem to lead to a bias towards more technical projects and less community oriented projects, at least done by larger grantees. What is your opinion on that issue? Do you think the metrics are suitable for all grantees, how will you assure that not only quantity, but also quality counts? --Don-kun (talk) 17:13, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
My experience is that every project could be measured in one or another way. There is no big difference between technical and community oriented project measurement of success, turned in numbers. For example, if you are preparing a big Wiki party for newbies, you can tell after the event: How many people attend the party? How many female v. male? How many students or adults? How many local or other city attendants? etc. So, Wiki party could be transformed in numbers. On the other hand, quantity versus quality is big issue all the time. There are projects when quality is more important, and there are projects when quantity is recognized as success by community. - Violetova (talk) 20:54, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
Reporting is part of making better projects and creating higher impacts (by learning from past experiences), but it solely does not ensure that improvement would be based on it. Is is necessary for affiliates or organizations that they would create metrics for the projects they implemented, so that grantor, other Wikimedia communities, WMF and concerned entities would have a sound projection of the activities. Quantitative metrics, in this regard, has been pretty useful to show effectiveness of measures undertaken in the movement. But it is also fact that, not every projects or ideas that have been or being undertaken do not suit with such quantitative assessment. For example, from my experience we, in Bangladesh, have seen that some of our initiatives like outreach program on occasion of a special day have given as a number of most active and prolific Wikipedians. But we got this not in a limited time-frame or within a short period after the activity. The approach of the activity was to create awareness and invite people to volunteer for Wikipedia. And this sort of activity would no way show any rigid success through metrics. So what should be the case for such qualitative assessment is that we have to focus and look for the approach. The projects in a proposed budget which lies in such category should clearly state what their approach is and how they would attain this. We all know that quality is needed along with quantity. Therefore qualitative approaches and findings should be stated in proposals. Metrics is needed for every grantees, whether small or large. But the amount and details might vary according to the type of the grantees. I would certainly expect from a large chapter that their metrics would cover almost all of their implemented projects. But from a smaller chapter, metrics that shows effectiveness of its projects comprehensively, would be okay.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
@Don-kun that’s a great observation and question. You’re right. Because this is a developing process, feedback from the community and results from projects themselves are crucial. The global metrics approach is a purely quantitative one that focuses on a niche subset of data from programs. It’s not perfect by any means. But, it does provide standardization across all grantees to provide a rough comparison of projects.

I believe the organization is aware of the stigma you brought up – a bias towards technical projects – but that should not be the case. The overview of the Global Metrics attempts to illustrate that “they are not an end in themselves.” It also goes on to say, the Global Metrics:

  • Are not the only numbers to be reported
  • Are not the best measures of success for most projects
  • Are not to be considered in isolation

While the application stresses that projects do not need to fit the global metrics framework, I understand your discontent with the measures. I do believe the FDC and the community benefit greatly from having access to a set of metrics spanning all projects; however, it still needs refinement be the best driver for reporting and growth.

When it comes to metrics suitable for all grantees, metrics that would encourage all types of programs – especially those trying to tackle the problems you mentioned – I believe the FDC must adopt a holistic review of applicants. I mentioned this in my response to the first question: I believe the review must capture the spectrum of measures, from quantitative to qualitative. For example, if a grantee is tackling a qualitative issue where numbers alone cannot express impact, then the FDC must adapt and be aware that a qualitative review is better suited.

Every applicant is unique and the Global Metrics system is merely a step towards finding a balance. It should be supplemented by a number of other tools utilized by the FDC to measure the impact and success of a grantee’s mission.
Itzik Edri (Itzike)
no response yet.
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)

If you can't measure how well you're doing something, then you can't tell/justify whether it's being effective or not. Growth, background and diversity of contributors can be measured, as can the amount of content created and the number of contributors who are still involved a given time after the activity (or are repeat attendees of activities). You just need to define suitable metrics and goals before the activity, making sure that you measure them during the activity, and report on them afterwards to the community/members/trustees/funding bodies. That said, not everything can be measured qualitatively, so qualitative outcomes of an activity should also be recorded and reported, particularly unexpected outcomes. E.g., if an event attendee has a good experience or story to share, write it down and share it along with the event numbers. And, if an activity runs into problems, then it's important to qualitatively report those too! Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:08, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
I think Mike Peel (above) has got this exactly right. If you can't come up with some type of quantitative planned output, you probably haven't thought through the plan well enough. I'll only add an example: if you've got a goal to "get the word out", that's much too general and you may not know what you really want to do, but if you state "we want articles about us to appear in 2 of the top 10 national newspapers", the FDC (and you!) will know what you want to do. Failing to reach this goal may not be all bad, e.g. if you got articles in the largest national newspaper, and in the 11th and 12th largest papers, the FDC may be able to look at that and say "you, in effect, met or even exceeded the original goal." The key is to make the quantitative goals work for you, to help in the planning. Becoming a slave to quantitative goals set by others is a sure way to failure. Come up with your own quantitative goals.
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
I think the quanitative metrics suits all grantees as projects involve targets and (or) goals. These metrics helps us measure our performances on projects against our set goals and allows you to outrightly determine your success rate. However success is mostly not all about only quantity as quality ensures the sustainability of a project. Now quality can somewhat be measured or indirectly quantified.

The global metrics allows you to continually investigate your participants output and behavior after an editathon or training. This measure indirectly allows one to measure the quality of his/her work or output. If for instance a group you trained continues to constantly contribute and get involved it tells you how well you have done or perhaps the quality of your job. Therefore I conclude by saying that there is a thin line between the measure for quality and quantity, as a good measure of impact (quantity or level of reach) may translate into sustainability (quality or rippling action).Flixtey (talk) 23:53, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
I agree Don-kun that a focus on quantitative metrics - especially if they are applied rigidly. This is why I am a big proponent of contextually applied metrics - both contextual to the project that is happening, and contextual to the size and experience of the organisation. I fear that quantitative metrics are too easily used as a weapon against those who run activities, rather than a method to help the whole movement learn from experiences. This can have a demotivating effect on the people who ran the activities, a chilling-effect on those who might run other ones (especially if they're not experienced) and potentially encourage people to falsify their data to make their activities look more positive than they were. However, this is not to say that we should have no quantitative metrics, of course. We do need to have these metrics especially so we can make comparisons between similar projects. My hope, however, is that we can use the results of these reports more effectively in altering future projects. It is this implementation of lessons learned that most interests me. It is in this direction where qualitative metrics are increasingly important and should not be forgotten. For example, if a Chapter decides to spend some of its money on sending some kind of kind message to most active Wikimedians in their country (e.g. a card on their 10th wiki-birthday), that is very hard to measure quantitatively, and even qualitative metrics might not show any benefit within a 'reporting period' of time, but it still is potentially a good project to do under the goal of "editor retention". I would hate for rigidly-applied and un-contextual quantitative metrics to hinder such projects.
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
Quantitative metrics can help measuring performance against targets set on goals. Affiliates set their own goals and can device their own metrics. It is up to the affiliates to put those in the frame of movement wide strategic priorities and the global metrics. Quality also matters. And, unsurprisingly, quality can be measured too, if you want to. You never can judge performance by a single measure. It is necessary to consider a balanced set of measures.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
I understand that you are referring in particular to the "six global metrics". I agree that for many projects they are not the most relevant ones; and even the Meta page about them warns that they don't tell the whole story and that they are not always so important: they are a useful way to get a general picture and to do a rough comparison of different projects, but no more than that. Projects should not be evaluated solely on the basis of those metrics, and they are not evaluated solely on the basis of those metrics.

However, metrics, and quantitative metrics, are essential. You can't improve if you don't understand how well you did; and it's difficult to understand that unless you have some way to measure your results. Therefore, it's important to be able to measure the outcomes of your work. Metrics are important also for the FDC and other people looking at your work from outside, in order to understand it and assess it; however, I want to stress that they are important to you in the first place.

You have to find the right metrics for your projects, metrics that are aligned with your goals and can be measured. The six global metrics may not be the right ones, or maybe only some of them are relevant, but still, it's important for you to find the metrics that works in your case.
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
Many concerns in one question, Don-kun. :)

Firstly, I am with FDC while asking for quantified metrics as general, as their job is to somehow evaluate and compare. In many less technical activities you can still use metrics: number of visitors, readers, editors and their retention, images uploaded etc. - and if you need some assistance, WMF Learning & Evaluation Team can show you some tricks. :)

Certainly, quantification is not everything. Some things are difficult to quantify: PR and lobbying, or your community happiness, internal split and trust. Moreover understanding metrics requires caution and background information - every good statistician / data analyst knows that and rightfully it is explicitly put in the global metrics guidelines. Therefore, it is even more important to provide FDC with this information.

Regarding the bias against the larger grantees: this issue came up already, at least on a WMF + GAC, FDC workshop on London Wikimania Preconference. It has been shown that according to many WMF metrics, the medium-size chapters and projects are the most efficient ones. While I agreed I also pointed out and I hold my position, that some organizations in the Movement take additional strategic goals which escape universal metrics: e.g. both WMF and Wikimedia Deutschland aim to strongly advocate for the movement and our values, or they want to share their experience with other affiliates. These efforts are not helping their general statistics like number of new articles / total budget. In my opinion, if we agree for strategic goals, we need to proceed and take them into account (of course evaluating such programmes in general terms of efficiacy, effectiveness etc.).

FDC needs to think in a global perspective (these programmes can be the most efficient, but these are a start-up for a new community and these provide some knowledge for the whole Movement...) and I believe that this opinion is generally shared among FDC and WMF. Sometimes people just forget to talk. :)



Hi! Various projects by various Chapters and individuals had been funded during the last few years. I would like to ask you about your opinion on their diversity.

  • What do you see as the key problems or challenges in the distribution of funding?
  • What would you say about the past and current projects language diversity?
  • Would you say that smaller wikis are adequately funded?
  • What is your impression on these projects breadth of impact (as opposed to depth, seeing every project complete)?
  • What do you think about funding of work on the wiki software? Would it be better to decentralise the wiki software development and do it with active participation of Chapters and individuals instead of being centralised around the WMF Engineering Team, or would such change make it worse?

Thanks. Gryllida 04:04, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
The challenges in the distribution of funding could be almost everything. Sometimes challenge is how to cut some expenses, or challenge is funding something when the project is unclear for everyone. There are times when I have that weird feeling that smaller wikis are not adequately funded, but on the other hand, smaller wikis usually have smaller needs. About wiki software, I am not IT person, so I don't have comment on that question right now.
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
What do you see as the key problems or challenges in the distribution of funding?
  • The key problem in distribution of funding I think is overcoming the bureaucratic issues and adhering to the mission goals of the movement. The challenges are ensuring the justification of proposals from grant-seeking entities with no disparity due to ethnic or cultural bias; supporting grantees to make potential experimentation with projects. There is particular challenge in fostering the movement in less developed countries, by rationally funding with proper guidance and support they might need. Because the case with developed countries and less developed ones are not the same, the less developed and smaller chapters have intrinsic challenges and problems that need to be address according to their context. So furthering the movement through empowering smaller and potential affiliates is critical.

What would you say about the past and current projects language diversity?

  • Wikimedia projects show great diversity in terms of languages. But smaller language projects lack in volunteers ans capacity to develop. Therefore focus should be given to enhance such capacity and make the smaller communities sustainable so what the smaller language projects continue to grow not only in quantitatively but also qualitatively.

Would you say that smaller wikis are adequately funded?

  • Funding is not the only way for developing smaller wikis. Smaller wikis need more volunteers base and capacity enhancement, for which facilitation of wiki interface or technical alterations, community growth, educating volunteers and managing programs need to be focused. Fund is necessary for smaller wikis, but that should be in line with their areas of need and potentials. Over-funding would create burdens for them as more funding demands more reporting tasks and ensuring more accountability. So we have to pragmatically look what the smaller wikis' demands are for growth, and then accordingly fund them.

What is your impression on these projects breadth of impact (as opposed to depth, seeing every project complete)?

  • Impact varies according to programs and projects as well as the organizers. I have seen many projects aimed at increasing the number instead of focusing on quality enhancement. This, I think, particularly relates to the notion that such projects' outcome are easier to show in metrics. We did also find projects like GLAMs and building academic partnerships which possess much potentials in terms of longer benefit, and such projects should be encouraged. Affiliates need to focus more on long term as well as quality driven projects.

What do you think about funding of work on the wiki software? Would it be better to decentralise the wiki software development and do it with active participation of Chapters and individuals instead of being centralised around the WMF Engineering Team, or would such change make it worse?

  • This is of course, more aligned with the movement mission that software development should be decentralized rather than keeping its supervision within WMF. But for decentralization, it is necessary to ensure capacity building of chapters and to make available of technological expertise. We see that a great number of Wikimedians who take part in hackathons are developing great tools and have potentials to create successful projects. Though creating great projects offer great challenges and need better facilities, but we need to work for that.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
I’m really glad you asked that question @Gryllida, because it’s struggle for the FDC and its current process. I’ll try to answer each of your questions:

What do you see as the key problems or challenges in the distribution of funding?

One of the largest issues facing the movement is the makeup of FDC leadership. Despite a remarkably transparent process and the incredible input from the community, the FDC is dominated by chapter leaders. This was brought up as a significant concern two years ago.

The majority of FDC members were board members of a chapter which naturally led to a chapter-centric bias. The movement realized this and stressed the importance of electing a diverse FDC body. The call for candidates asked for either experience outside the Wikimedia movement or a background in diverse roles within the movement (not just chapter board members).

I believe I would bring that diversity to the FDC with extensive program management and experience outside the movement. Having a background leading a chapter definitely great, but the movement is hindered when everyone on the FDC ultimately comes from the same background.

What would you say about the past and current projects language diversity?

The answer is fairly straightforward: Language diversity should be one of the movement’s top priorities. The emerging regions are poorly represented in funding, but should be some of the most crucial areas of focus when it comes to promoting the Foundation’s mission. The Global South received less than 5% of our total global grantmaking in dollars (!). The movement should work to identify a set of risks and challenges that are preventing the emerging communities and languages from becoming as active as the Anglo/European communities.

Would you say that smaller wikis are adequately funded?

Representation and attention are clearly lacking among the smaller wikis. I believe the problem has less to do with funding and more to do with capacity building. The smaller wikis are lacking the people power, skills, and energy that the larger projects have. A focus on improving long-term stability and capacity among the smaller wikis would lead to an improved impact rather than over-allocating funding to them.

Proper funding of the right projects would greatly aid our movement’s plan and elevate the smaller communities than blindly allocating funds.

What is your impression on these projects breadth of impact (as opposed to depth, seeing every project complete)?

I think the first guidance principle set out for the FDC serves as a wonderful guideline when thinking of breadth versus depth. That is, “we should support projects as directly and as effectively as possible, in editors’ and contributors’ pursuit of the mission.” We need to couple both breadth and depth in order to create an effective movement. While a number of frameworks were created to ensure depth (I.e., project completion), there was little to ensure a breadth across projects that would cover all aspects of the movement’s mission. The current impact is focused on supporting outreach and partnerships instead of directly supporting on-wiki activity.

What do you think about funding of work on the wiki software? Would it be better to decentralise the wiki software development and do it with active participation of Chapters and individuals instead of being centralised around the WMF Engineering Team, or would such change make it worse?

It would be difficult to say whether or not it decentralization would be better or worse for the technical platform. A step towards deciding that change would require extensive research on the impact of shifting the work away from the platform’s core team. External consultancy would likely be required to identify all the potential challenges and change management requirements that would come out of a change that large.
Itzik Edri (Itzike)

I'll start from the end, as this issue related to the last email I just wrote internally - We can look on most of the big companies, that decided to open R&D centers around the world. It much more easy and make sense to centralised, but the reality show different, managing micro-project (and WikiData is great example) can work better when the projects are decentralise. Of course we need to work together, and see how it combine with the WMF's roadmap and how they can support and coordinate, train and support the projects, thing that I understood less happened with WikiData.

Regarding others projects, as I said in my statement, I think some of the problem with the current funding is little bit less connection and cooperate between the chapters, what result two chapters asking for different funding to build the same infrastructure. Lot of time without even knowing the others chapters working on the same things. We should support more feedback as the people and the staff who see and know all (or at least most) the chapters activities.

I less support allocated lot of resources to very small wikis. Most of the people speaking the language have secondary spoken language with big(er) Wikipedia. We have enough work on most to be done of the others Wikis rather spending big resources on Wikis used by few peoples. I think user:Ijon summarize it well at WMCon two years ago --Itzike (talk) 15:14, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)
What do you see as the key problems or challenges in the distribution of funding?
  • A big issue for the distribution of funding through the FDC is the distribution of eligible organisations: they are rather heavily weighted towards developed countries. The only thing that the FDC can really do to change this, though, is to (indirectly) encourage the growth of communities and organisations in other countries so that they become eligible for FDC funding, and make sure that there's support available for new organisations that are applying to the FDC for the first time. It can also encourage the larger organisations to work more in other countries, but that can lead to a sense of colonialism if it's not done properly, and it's much better to develop active local communities/organisations (which is mostly the role of AffCom and Project and Event grants, not really the FDC!).

What would you say about the past and current projects language diversity?

  • I think there has been a good mix of language diversity, you just need to look at the list of successful FDC applications to see this. Of course, it could be better if the FDC supported organisations in more countries.

Would you say that smaller wikis are adequately funded?

  • That depends on what you mean by 'smaller wikis'. I would love to see projects such as Wikisource, Commons, and so forth supported a lot more with technical development than they currently are, and much more tightly integrated with Wikipedia. I'm less sure whether smaller language wikis need to be better supported or not - I think that language projects are better supported technologically (e.g., visual editor working in multiple languages by design), but I'm sure that they could do with more outreach support and increased number of editors.

What is your impression on these projects breadth of impact (as opposed to depth, seeing every project complete)?

  • The projects will never be complete, in the same way that science/technology/arts/culture will never be complete. That said, most of the projects I've seen have focused more on breadth than they have depth: they work on creating more articles, particularly on underrepresented areas, or uploading photos of things that we don't already have photos of, rather than being aimed at creating articles or images of 'Featured' quality.

What do you think about funding of work on the wiki software? Would it be better to decentralise the wiki software development and do it with active participation of Chapters and individuals instead of being centralised around the WMF Engineering Team, or would such change make it worse?

  • It would definitely be good to see more decentralised wikimedia software development, and I think it's something that has general support (including from the WMF). The challenge is developing the chapters so that they have the capacity to lead technology projects, and finding the right individuals/other external groups to be involved. Wikidata has been a really good example of a well-managed and thought-through wiki software development that has taken place outside of the WMF, and it would be great to see more chapters doing the same.
Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:46, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
User:Gryllida has asked a very important question about the diversity of groups being funded. It is the gorilla in the room that nobody is talking about, and it could be the issue that destroys the FDC. I'll limit my answer to the annual program grants (APGs) that the FDC has some control over.

We've got a terrible problem with geographic diversity in APGs. Looking over the last 2 completed rounds of funding requests, I get

  • 88% of funding goes to 11 groups located in Europe
    • Just 4 groups in NW Europe (DE,FR,UK, NL) get 56% of total funding
  • 12% goes to 3 groups outside Europe (AR,IL,Centre for Internet and Society)
    • Yes, somebody should check these calculations - it still astounds me, though I've followed this for some time.

I certainly don't blame the groups that applied for funds, or the FDC itself, but it's obvious this is a problem. It's a problem because the Wikimedia movement is broadly international at its core, because the Board has always declared that funding global south organizations is a priority. I doubt that the majority of active editors are based in Europe, or that the majority of readers, donors, or donations come from Europe, yet 88% of FDC funding goes to Europe. If this continues, it is likely that most editors and donors will begin to see the FDC as irrelevant to their interests. If the problem is not fixed soon, I predict that the Board's allocations via the FDC will stay flat for awhile and then decrease until - perhaps in 10 years - a board member might say "this is just of historical interest, let's just drop the whole thing."

The only solution that I have for this problem is that everybody interested in keeping alive the FDC and the programs it funds, needs to engage in outreach to global south and other non-European groups to try to bring them in to apply for funds and help them plan and implement their programs.

As I said, this is a problem that could destroy the FDC. I'll personally ask that all other candidates address this question with the utmost seriousness. Smallbones (talk) 20:43, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
  • In as much as we always try to ensure transparency in our grant dissemination process, some level of bias may trifle in from time to time. Various kinds of bias are eminent in grant making. Success bias makes its way when a particular grantee has always shown high success rates on projects funded, it is likely for that grantee to receive a grant leaving other new and sometimes very innovative ideas hanging or not funded. Bias may also occur when a member of the grantor has some sort of affiliation with the grantee ( it may be subtle as controls like conflict of interest policies are put in place but may still exist)
Comfort with some particular grantees and individual preference may also pose problems in grant decisions, if the grantors are conversant with a particular grantee they may tend to favor him more than someone they don't know. Individual choices may also reflect grant decisions. Other problems such as timing, income leakages, inadequate documentation and (or) genuineness of information or documentations provided.
  • The language diversity of the projects funded by the FDC will definitely represent the various languages of interest of organisations that seek funding. I think it is necessary that grants are diversified to cover the various languages that exist and even for ones that wish to spring up, but i am also strongly of the view that our concentration be based on the dominantly used language(s) to ensure growth while we gradually build other languages on the side.
  • This question is difficult to answer from a distance and relative, a bigger organisation may deem a grant of about $2000 inadequate to their operations where as a smaller may see that as a great grant for exploits. Judging grants by the amount from a distance may not be wise as you have to analyze the project at hand and the capacity of the (smaller) organisation to execute the details stipulated in that grant.
  • Majority of funded projects in my opinion cover mostly breadth rather than depth. I oppose this very much as i believe we should stand for quality (depth) more than quantity (breadth). In our search for breadth we end up creating redundancy or not very useful information. The depth of the projects is very necessary and must be clearly scrutinized in projects.
  • Decentralizing Wiki Software development to me is not very necessary, what really matters is opening up the development to include the community and gaining their active participation on such projects. A well structured body at the WMF may oversee this to avoid vandalism and other uncivil actions by some members. So the key thing to note here may not necessarily be decentralization but active community involvement in the development of software. Flixtey (talk) 08:40, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
Hi Gryllida, I find that there is indeed a great disparity between where the money is going and where it is (arguably) most needed - at least if you apply a test of "who has the least access to free knowledge should be receiving the most of our attention". However, the Chapters in richer countries or places that are better-served with the existing free-knowledge resources should not be made to feel guilty for their happy circumstance, nor should we be blaming them for being more "successful" until now. I would like to see the WMF itself make more specific and overt calls for the communities in the lesser-served but greater-needs areas/languages to apply for funding. Furthermore, I would like the WMF to provide pro-active support to kick-start this kind of effort (and potentially set-aside some funding specifically for them) since it is clear that without pro-active support to increase capacity in these places then it is not going to happen organically (or at least, not in the short/medium term).

This can and probably should be a recommendation of the FDC to alter and improve the system itself, but within the scope of the FDC's actual task it is not possible to direct funding to a particular language-wiki, sister-project, software-development, or outreach task. As was shown quite clearly in the FDC's recommendation to the last Wikimedia-Deutschland application, it is not possible for the FDC to selectively fund activities - only recommend that the prefer some activities over others.

So yes, I would like to see greater structural support (not only money) for sister-projects, smaller language-wikis, less-developed nations, but the answer to that question that sits with the WMF as a strategic decision. The FDC can only respond to the applications that are submitted to it.
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
Radical decentralization is the model of Wikimedia. Wikidata is an example of decentralized software development by WMDE. There are more examples, GLAM wiki toolset, for example.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
1. Key problems and challenges. I've already briefly written about this in my statement, if you want a deeper answer ping me and I'll write more here.

2. Language diversity and 3. Funding to smaller wikis. The language diversity of the projects funded by the FDC reflects the language diversity of the entities that request funds; but, of course, the most active chapters speaks the languages of the most active wikipedias. This is not the case of all funded entities - for instance, the CIS proposal currenty under review plans to support a few language that have a significant number of native speakers but quite small wikipedias - but it is the most common situation. The situation for smaller wikis is similar.

This is tautological, but most people work on the most active projects - therefore there are more programs on the most active projects. Unfortunately, the problem of diversity goes deeper that simply funding, and it will not be funding alone to solve it.

4. Breadth of impact of smaller wikis. As Itzik already recalled, there has been an interesting discussion about this a couple of years ago. While I'd like to see every Wikimedia project flourishing, it may not be a sensible idea to put too much money and effort into it. We have to balance the support to the different projects on the basis of their impact.

5. Software funding. Funding of software development by chapters is not something new: for instance, Kiwix was funded by Wikimedia CH and Wikimedia Italia; and, of course, Wikimedia Germany developed Wikidata. Even though centralized development has some practical advantages, I believe that it would be great if more chapters started working on software development, because that is likely to make the development more responsive to the users' needs. However, it is not something that should be forced, and in the short and medium term it's unlikely to involve more than a few among the bigger chapters.
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
Many, many questions Gryllida. It is a topic for a large essay so let me be brief here.

Firstly: there is no single way to evaluate if small wikis are properly funded or a language diversity (should we compare it to the number of readers? editors? donations? local competition? global strategic goals? - it could be an interesting workshop) and it is much more of the Board's job. Secondly, we are volunteers-driven and FDC is an evaluation body for programmes run and proposed by Movement members. Of course you can just flood people with money or set up a superficial capacity like with CIS but I am not a fan of such methods. Personally I prefer building on existing capacities and an organic growth within the movement.

Here I need to comment on the response by Smallbones: as I like his approach of numebers, I must disagree with a big picture.

For starters, if we consider the Movement to be global, and not some franchise headquartered in One City, United States - these numbers are very different. Total WMF expenses proposed in 2014-2015 annual plan make $58.5M: $50.3M spent directly by WMF and grants making $8.2M max (as this position has not been fully utilized). Even if we add locally raised money and create some budget of the total movement, the truth is that the vast majority of resources is operated in United States. Certainly, these funds are used for the good of the whole movement, but one can argue that WMF could be decentralized, with budget distributed to the competence centres across the globe, like in terms of Wikidata.

Secondly, FDC is targeted at the lawfully organized actors in the Movement - affiliates. At the moment, the most developed structures and programmes are easier to find in so-called highly developed countries and grants programmes need to respond to this fact. The situation is at least partially understandable: editing Wikimedia is a hobby, requiring a luxury of having free time, possibly education, tech skills and a so-called social capital. Running an organization is an even more time&money consuming work, basing heavily on social capital/structures like the eagerness to affiliate in your culture, trust, willingness to donate, law, citizen rights etc. Reasons are plentiful (many still wonder who are Japanese or Vietnamese Wikimedians and why they don't gather in legal structures) but the end result is: we have many fairly established chapters in HDR like Western Europe, many medium and small affiliates in so-called emerging markets and a lot of weak/blank spots. And we cannot hire a consulting agency to "establish" an affiliate and flood it with money. Or we can, but we should not.

The problem has been recognized, at least partially, and many actions have been taken, including European chapters. Certainly, we need to further work to improve in this area: support the expertise transfer and regional co-operations like Iberocoop and WMCEE, work on programme franchises easy to implement, channel funds to seed start-ups, bring good people in Wikimanias - but it needs to remain organic; beyond some point, money will not bring good results.

The bigger problem I see elsewhere: the benchmarks in efficiacy and costs, the size and level of professionalization are very different among chapters. You can easily find many good arguments both pro and contra big spending in HDRs and we do not have a place for that here. I will just mention that both spending in HDR, and in emerging markets actually increases diversity, comparing to the San Francisco based organization.

Certainly, this topic brings a lot of tension: between matured affiliates and WMF, among affiliates, and between affiliated and non-affiliated stakeholders. I think we need a lot of talk and openness here.

  • Regarding the diversity on the operational and technical side like software development: in my opinion off-shoring and building on our global resources should be investigated as opportunities. MediaWiki and related tools development has always been done with a great participation of hackers and testers everywhere: from bots and tools to LaTeX implementation. Moreover, WMF encouraged the affiliates already to take on some pieces of software development. However one must note, that the majority of affiliates lack both FTEs and expertise in running a software house and when they can provide cheaper local programmers or good understanding of local needs, they would need some proper assistance and funding to go. Summing up, IMHO it is a nice idea to submit to FDC.

Funding priority to women projects to equalize gender gap


Our WP is planning for equalizing gender gap in view of 80:20 male/female ratio. As a member of FDC/OMBUDSMAN, how would you justify more funding to women’s projects in the established context that large population deserves much more funding. Nannadeem (talk) 19:16, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
I am the only one female administrator on mk.Wikipedia between fifteen. I am also part of the ongoing project "Wiki women in Macedonia". The main goal is to increase participation of female editors on the Wikimedia projects. They are educated through a step-by-step course how to edit Wikipedia and they edit Wikipedia during the edit-a-thons (hands-on). As a part of this women's project, I can confirm that most of them didn't know that they are welcome to edit. That's why we need more women’s projects. In the same time, I know that we do not neglect other projects which deserve to be funded which do not have women as a target group. -Violetova (talk) 00:38, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
This is fact that females constitute not more than 20% of the global Wikimedia volunteers and we have seen efforts from various chapters and WMF to increase female volunteers. Recently WMF has only been funding projects that aim to reduce the gender gap, under PEG. As FDC only recommends funding based on the grants in APG, I believe, in order to address the issue FDC should consider practically those projects which intend to lessen the gender gap and increase women participation. But recommendations should be justified, pragmatic and should be impact driven. I basically support recommending projects which are well thought and researched, have impact and show potentials; and during this process FDC can address the gender gap issue as a particular area of consideration.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
@Nannadeem, your question is similar to the previous one in that the programs receiving grants from the FDC are not doing enough to address the issue of diversity. As the guidance principles written out by the Foundation’s board, we must increase our support to underrepresented contributors – in particular women contributors.

Only 1 out of 10 contributors on Wikipedia is a female, so one of our top priorities should be improving that number. Any project aimed at increasing the number of women contributors would align with the movement’s mission and since the FDC must support the mission and community, it should be the responsibility of the FDC to ensure those projects be funded as long as they are effective and well-designed.

While the projects themselves must be put forth by the community, the FDC must make it clear that projects supporting underrepresented groups will be funded. The FDC can also assist the movement by ensuring those programs have the capacity and leadership to lead them to success. Chsh (talk) 02:56, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Itzik Edri (Itzike)
no response yet.
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)
This is more a question that should be asked to the entities that apply for FDC funding, as it is the entities that need to decide whether they want to allocate more funding to one project rather than another, although the FDC can take its general approach to the gender gap into account during its deliberations. Personally, I support equal opportunities rather than discrimination one way or the other, so I would look more at whether a project would be effective and helps the movement's goals rather than whether it is a "woman's project" or a "man's project". Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:13, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
I'm 100% in favor of more funding for women's projects. There is a question of how this could be best accomplished via the FDC. Option 1, encourage chapters and current groups to fund more women's projects. But the FDC *can only encourage* the chapters to have more women's projects. Option 2, would be for funding for a thematic organization for women, but there currently isn't such a group. There may be problems forming such a group, but with some dedication and imagination, I don't see any reason it can't be done.
  • We shouldn't forget the Inspire initiative that just funded (by my quick count) about $120,000 in Gender gap related projects. See here. That funding is roughly the size of a medium-large chapter. So we should give the WMF kudos for that. The question remains, however, is that performance repeatable? Is the "rush" aspect of the campaign the best way to fund these projects? The more I think about it the more I like the thematic organization idea I mentioned above as Option 2, but that is not for me to pursue. Those interested need to pursue it themselves.
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
I believe in the ideals of ensuring an equal ratio of men to women on projects and contributions on the Wikis. I support funds towards that area and believe that by substantially bridging that gap we as a community will then be realize our aim of achieving the message in the phrase "Wikipedia is for all". The underrepresented numbers of women is worrying and i believe channeling grants in that regards is a step in a way for gaining the interest of women and building relevant related contents. However the million dollar question here is do we concentrate on gaining more women? or improving women related contents that may entice their interest in contributing. Flixtey (talk) 15:50, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
I'm very much in favour of trying to redress the gender-gap in Wikimedia's participants, but I am wary of classifying this as something that requires the FDC applicants to create/allocate higher proportions of their budget to "women's projects". This could very easily become a tokenistic approach that results in simplistic metrics like "how many 'women's events' did you run this year?" which could potentially do more harm than good. As others have mentioned already, the FDC can only encourage things, it cannot force applicants to devote their budgets to any particular activity. what I WOULD like to see, as the most effective way for the FDC to address this issue, is for greater evidence in the applications of learning from the best-practices of previous gender-gap related activities. I would be very supportive of proposed projects that were clearly trying to replicate the successes of other's activities, rather than trying to re-invent the wheel.
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
The gender gap is a serious issue. It is a movement wide strategic priority. Programs aligned to this priority will be considered to get funded.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
You say that "large population deserves much more funding", implying that by this reasoning there should be more funds to male editors than to female editors; but that doesn't make much sense, editors are editors, there are no "funds for male editors" and "funds for female editors". The real issue with the gender gap is that, for some reason (not yet understood), we attract much more males than females - and this is about potential editors, not existing editors. This is a huge problem, and if you want a justification for addressing that, consider that if we were able to reduce this gap, we could easily balance the decline in the number of active editors, which is one of the main threats to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects.
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
Gender gap is perhaps the most visible gap (among: elderly people and language gaps) in our editor base and, to some extent, in our affiliates' members base. As such, it needs to be addressed, although as Laurentius mentioned we still are not sure why precisely we have it there in the first place and we need more research on this topic, sociological, anthropological and psychological preferably. My feeling is that active Wikimedians are just a tiny fraction of a population and there is some set of traits which make you one. Thus, the gender gap is a part of a bigger picture, seen already in many other hobbyst subcultures where population is predominantly male. I would personally love to fund a good research checking which traits correlate with Wikimedia activity and what we could do with this knowledge.

At the moment, the gaps hurt our readers and project - but simple pouring the money can be ineffective. Actions aimed at gaps, while noble, still need to be efficient and well-thought, preferably basing on our past experience in this field. It would be splendid to have some proven "franchise" aimed at this problem, like Wiki Loves Monuments which in my country is great to attract non-editing photographers.

Regarding your quotas: I prefer to judge on efficiacy and goals as quotas are questionable (should be consider some programmes male oriented? are we talking about some strict quotas, or maybe a fair funding per - whom - reader? editor? activist?).

FDC process for smaller affiliates


Some smaller affiliates choose to remain with GAC funding instead of FDC funding because the GAC process is more flexible and less burdensome. How do you think that the FDC process could be improved to be more user-friendly for small affiliates? --Pine 02:08, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
The FDC process could be more user-friendly for small affiliates if we work with them on preparing the annual plan. I think that advice and direction is all the small affiliates need while write their plan.
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
This is natural that a smaller affiliate will apply in PEG (GAC) as PEG is suitable for organizations with less number of volunteers and management team. APG is for budget with large amount of fund that large affiliates need for their yearly operations. As the amount of fund increases, the level and intensity of budget requirement and process of funding should be strict. However, to support smaller organizations, FDC should consider the organizations' capacity and should impose strictness accordingly. FDC should be supportive and should make consideration in particular areas (like reporting requirements) to make the process easy for smaller organizations. As an organization grows, it would need to apply in APG, but initially, I think this is (and should be) right to remain with GAC due to its flexibility.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
Thanks @Pine for bringing up a good question distinguishing the FDC from other grant awarding entities. It’s important to note that the FDC was designed to address fund requests from large groups with a successful track record. Entities ineligible to apply to the FDC were offered the opportunity to pursue funds from the Foundation’s Grants Program (supported by GAC). The applicants to the WDC often face a longer timeline and larger funding needs. This, in turn, translates to a higher degree of accountability to ensure funds are appropriated with the utmost effectiveness.

The FDC process right now resembles a comprehensive business plan that gives the community an amazing level of detail into the operations of applicants. Of course, the process isn’t perfect. If there are applicants who could drive the mission of the Wikimedia, but are otherwise discouraged by an arduous application process, then steps must be taken to modify the FDC funding process.

While the FDC should not be the driving force in changing the process (which would be a conflict of interest) the FDC can offer insight into which parts of process could be streamlined. Another group, such as the advisory committee, recommendations from the FDC chair, or the WMF board may prompt an investigation into whether or not the fund-seeking process can be made better.

The issue, of course, is to both make the process better while still being thorough and accountable to the movement. Some first steps taken include:

  • Compile surveys and opinions from previous grant recipients
  • Also compile surveys from individuals or groups who wanted to apply for FDC funding, but decided against it.
  • Investigate possible pain points in the application process
  • Reduce obvious redundancies
  • Evaluate the impact of changes to the application process with all relevant stakeholders
  • Pilot changes and compare the effectiveness of new vs. old application process.
Itzik Edri (Itzike)
no response yet.
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)
This is a worrying trend: ideally affiliates would chose FDC funding over GAC funding as FDC funding is more flexible than GAC funding (this is due to the difference between 'unrestricted' and 'restricted' funding). Some of the cases of choosing GAC over FDC that I've seen in the past have been down to the maturity level of the organisation, others have been due to the GAC being a simpler process to the FDC. The FDC process has gotten simpler over the last 3 years. E.g., reports are now only due every 6 months rather than 3 months, and the application forms have been improved/simplified. I'm sure that there are more improvements that can be made to them, and particularly simpler reporting expectations could be defined for new/smaller entities than more established/larger ones. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:42, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
Funding affiliates through GAC is fine if those organizations only wish to have fairly small, somewhat sporadic funding. But if they wish to be funded every year and have a fairly permanent presence they should be encouraged to "move up" to the FDC, whose processes are designed for this type of funding. WMF staff have tried to simplify the reporting requirements over the last year and I believe have mostly succeeded. Comparing the bureaucracy and reporting requirements of the FDC with outside funders would likely show that FDC is much more user-friendly and staff will go out of their way to help new applicants. That said, the first year of making the "move up" can be difficult for the organization and we always need to keep in mind that the FDC and all of its processes are meant to help the applicants. Special help should be made available to smaller organizations whenever this problem comes up.
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
The question here should be more directed to what the requirements of the smaller entities are? and why are they resorting to the PEG (GAC)? We should also consider if their needs or demands require the attention of the FDC or the PEG (GAC). Some will resort to the GAC because they don’t have a thorough plan for a yearly planned activity but rather a grant for an activity as and when they want to run an event or program.

Also approving huge grants requires very stern guidelines and processes to ensure the programs churned really deserve the grant. In lending a similar mechanism is used, this is called adverse selection, it’s a way to deter those who don’t meet the criteria, those not willing to go through the process for what they deem deserving and to those who are not sure of the viability of their plans. A stern process shouldn’t discourage a group that believes in its strategies and plans, they should be ready to go through thick and thin just to stand for what they believe in. It is the only way one can display his believe in what works. These processes are there to guide the foundations spending and to ensure efficient use of resources.

This doesn’t also mean that when I am granted the opportunity to serve at the FDC, I won’t look out to streamline problematic and usually cumbersome processes to open up to all. Flixtey (talk) 17:21, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
Hi Pine. I don't see that some affiliates choose different methods of applying for grant funding as an inherently bad thing, and the system is not necessarily designed that every affiliate should "graduate" from Project grants to Annual grants, if that works best for them... However, I agree with the general idea that it should be the norm for affilates [especially Chapters] to go in that direction. To that end, as I've mentioned several times in other questions and my candidacy statement, the whole grants process needs to ensure that it is contextually relevant to the scale of money requested and experience of the organisation applying for it. The larger either/both of these, the more stringent the process should be, but equally if a smaller amount is requested from a newer organisation - then the grants process should be designed to help support their capacity development and not feel like onerous bureaucracy. This means that: the rules need to be stable; the justification for each application step or information-required needs to be clear; the metrics/measurements need to be relevant to the and easy to report. After all, and especially for newer affiliates, much of the work is being done by volunteers who we need to support not simply create bureaucracy for its own sake.
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
Three years ago I was responsible as treasurer of Wikimedia Nederland - a smaller affiliate at that time - to get Wikimedia Nederland on track for eligibility for FDC funding. The FDC set has a clear set of eligibility requirements. Look in your community to find an experienced professional to help you out in case you really want FDC funding.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
The FDC process could be improved to be more friendly for all affiliates, but the fact that smaller affiliates remain with GAC funding is just fine. PEG (GAC) and APG (FDC) are two different programs with different targets. The FDC process requires the affiliate to plan well in advance its activities; for a newly born chapter this is not practical. On the other hand, bigger affiliates do plan activities in advance (and they should do so), and, having larger grants, it's important for them to have higher standards of accountability. Each affiliate can choose the model that best fits its needs.
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
Hello, Pine, actually there are many reasons why an affiliate remains out of FDC. Often it has been a chicken-and-egg problem and I remember affiliates like WMUA asking for some bridge solutions within PEG/GAC (long term, wide grants). Sometimes an affiliate does not feel the urge to grow: e.g. my home chapter has stayed out of FDC and other grant programmes. The trend for smaller chapters so far was to gather own resources and run own projects, and then communicate with the Movement and apply and operate wider and bigger grants within PEG/GAC to gain competence. If this path is not satisfactory for an applicant, we need a round table made from the affiliate, GAC, FDC and WMF/Affiliations Com. However it should be noted that the FDC funding is not a goal per se - some entities are quite O.K. with not using it, some others may lack organic capability and creating an externally funded affiliate may be evaluated as inefficient.

Innovation and risk


To what extent do you think the FDC should support innovative programs for FDC recipients that may have higher risk but also potential for good impact? --Pine 02:08, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
Hi Pine, there are many reasons pro and against on funding project which has high risk, but good impact is not guaranteed. Almost every project has potential, but it depends on grantees, their skills, free time to work on the project, etc. My opinion is that innovative programs are welcome.
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
Experimentation is an important part of project development and implementing new ideas. Often experimentation with higher risks have higher impact (if implementable) and that is needed in the Wikimedia movement. We have seen a lot of new project ideas over the years and a good number of them have great value in terms of impact (like GLAM). So innovative projects even though having risks should be supported. In this regard, FDC should consider the following points:
  • The level of impact that a project is expected to have when implemented.
  • Compatibility with the goals of the Wikimedia movement.
  • The value and quality of output.
  • Implementation process.
I believe, a project that carries high risks but has value and potentials should be supported if the people who are going to implement it have enough dedication and vision. It should be considered with importance that the volunteers have taken lesson from past experiences and from failed projects in elsewhere in the movement in order to avoid repeating the same failure. This also happens that a particular project which is failure in a certain community might work well in another community and context. So context and community are also needed to be taken into account.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
@Pine, that’s a tricky dilemma that a lot of grantmaking entities face. On one hand, novel ideas could wind up being creative solutions where otherwise “conservative” approaches would fail. But, on the other hand, innovation has its risks. For one, the failure rate is much higher. But, a framework can be built to plan for those risks.

The movement must be forward thinking and should absolutely support innovative programs, but the FDC must use its best judgement to ensure the safety the programs it recommends. If an innovative program aligns with the mission, vision, and strategy of the movement, the FDC should support requests that are designed in a way to account for their inherent risk.

For example, an innovative, but risky program should be designed in such a way to test out the idea. A pilot program would be one elegant solution that could help assess whether a larger grant be approved for the applicant. From there it should be evident what can be changed, if anything, to make the project better. As long as the appropriate measures are taken to account for risk, creative and clever programs should be considered by the FDC.

Success does not come without risk. Chsh (talk) 04:07, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Itzik Edri (Itzike)
no response yet.
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)
It depends on the rationale for trying the project, the budgets involved, and the level of community consultation that has taken place. I'd love to see entities trying more low-budget higher-risk experiments/pilot programs that have a large potential impact, as this parameter space is where the most innovative and successful Wikimedia projects I've seen have been, although this does often also rely on being in the right place at the right time. If a project needs a bigger budget and carries a higher risk, but they have consulted the community and have had a positive response, and they have a good rationale, perhaps pointing towards non-Wikimedia examples where the type of project has been successful (i.e., 'one-step-removed' projects), then they're likely also worth trying. If they have a big budget and a poor rationale, or if the community hasn't been involved, then those would be red flags showing that the idea probably needs more thought. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:42, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
Let me take a risk and state the obvious
  • We not only need people to take risks, we need people who will fail, and who will fail spectacularly doing new and totally crazy projects.
    • If nobody is failing we are not taking enough risks. Some folks seem to think that you can avoid total failure and still take risks and maybe you sometimes can, but if enough people are taking big enough risks somebody is going to fall flat on their faces right in front of everybody. We should just say "Bravo!" and help pick them up to start again on another project.
    • This type of failure is *not going to cost us money*!!!
      • Rather, new risky projects will tend to have low funding, so that if 20% of our projects fail it might only account for 5-10% of the budget.
      • That 5-10% will be returned to us in several ways. 1st by avoiding doing similar projects with larger budgets, or via "lessons learned" designing similar projects better. 2nd by helping to avoid doing the same old big boring projects after their useful lives have gone. 3rd by inspiring potential donors who will say (after one of the risky projects succeeds) "How did you every think doing something that crazy? And it worked!!!
    • We need new projects just to keep up with the rest of the world
      • Our projects now tend to include edit-a-thons, Wiki Loves photo events, conferences and unconferences (with pizza and beer afterwards), a bit of software development, GLAM projects and other cooperation with outside groups. Those were great ideas 5 years ago (with kudos to @Wittylama: for the crazy GLAM idea), but there are some questions now on the effectiveness of some of these ideas. Ten years from now, those ideas will still be incorporated into some of what we do, but the majority of our projects will be in areas we haven't even thought of yet.
      • Everybody has crazy ideas about projects that we could fund. Off the top of my head, I think we should do projects with video, oral history, fully on-line conferences (if the technology improves), university wiki-clubs, cooperating with journalists. Sure there are dumb ideas there, but you (yes, you, the person reading this right now) have some better ideas. Let's see them and see what we can do. Smallbones (talk) 17:08, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
Innovation and risk work hand in hand and its crucial to every organizations survival. Innovation is important as it builds an organisations competitive advantage in the industry and provides an edge over competitors. Innovation is delving into something new that doesn't exist, this means that the terrain may not be properly known, no experiences to learn from hence poses risks. Risk is taken at each levels in our lives and it requires adequate calculation to take a risk that yields good returns. The adage no risk no reward provides further clarity in this context. It doesn't however also mean that because risk yields rewards one must not properly run a viability test of a prospective proposal to check for the probability of success. With proper research into an idea one can find out the lapses and set controls in place to mitigate such risks that come with new ideas (innovation). Innovation must be encouraged in our community and be given the necessary attention before decisions are reached on them. Flixtey (talk) 15:50, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
I am quite happy for "higher risk" projects so long as they meet three criteria:
  1. Declared as such. It's fine to have a project be higher-risk then fail, but not to simply point to less-successful projects as 'higher risk' retroactively.
  2. A small portion of the total budget. Things that are higher-risk/higher-reward need to be allocated a maximum proportion of the budget to avoid re-allocating more money halfway through if the risk isn't working (i.e. "putting good money after bad").
  3. With clear metrics. Along with declaring it a risky idea, you need to know how to decide if it was successful or not afterwards. While there needs to be scope for reporting on unexpected outcomes, it is also important to report against the same metrics that were identified at the start of the project.
If these three criteria are satisfied then I'm happy to support risky innovation.
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
The FDC does support innovative programs.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
There are two kinds of riskiness:
  1. risks that are limited to a single project (i.e., the risk of not succeding);
  2. risks that extend beyond the single project.
The risks in the scenario you are describing are usually of the first kind. In those cases, the risk is limited: if you invested 1.000 $ and 100 hours of work, in the worst scenario you get nothing, and you have lost 1.000 $ and 100 hours of work. It's something you would rather not see happening, but each time you start a project there is a risk of failure, and that's fine. Sometimes, it's appropriate to start a project even if it has an high risk of failure - for example, if it has a really high potential impact, or if it's a potentially replicable innovative project. Trying to avoid all risks is the biggest risk of all - it stops innovation.
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
Since I work in banking, I know there is no gain without risk involved and you can take some greater risk if returns are worthy. I think affiliates should be allowed (sometimes even encouraged) to take some risks, provided they are managed well, that is:
  • Check your risks: are they limited (e.g. to the level of the investment) or can be greater (like a risk of losing your reputation, legal risks, some unexpected losses etc.)?
  • Try to quantify: your potential losses, (ideally) their probability and potential gains. As we are still evolving, a real quantification of probability is practically impossible, but you can use benchmarks, e.g. is it more failure prone that our wikicamp last year? and use it in your thinking.
  • Prioritize, that is necessary stuff and big and easy proven wins first.
  • Have a diverse portfolio: maybe let's not gamble a half of our budget on a risky move; on the other hand, it is widely accepted to make a novel attempt at some gap (e.g. gender gap), even when we know it is unproven and these approaches rarely have great results. This thing is important to us and can bring great gains, so we keep some limited subbudgets for such areas and go for it.

I believe the affiliates are in the best position to evaluate these risks (and they do it already, albeit not always in a written or trained manner). FDC can make a reality check and see if there are some strong inbalances in the "portfolio". And when I do not want to give more work to affiliates, gathering these stories and learning from our risks taken can be highly benefitial for the whole Movement.

On the more quantifiable side, maybe we could run a workshop some day and, basing on model budgets, create guidelines for a well-diversified portfolio. For now, it is a future.

Predictability of funding


For small organizations, even modest changes in their income from year to year can have significant destabilizing effects on the organization's effectiveness, programs and goals. Are there ways that the FDC can better work with grant applicants so that FDC recommendations are more predictable and so grantees can have an easier time with forecasting their likely funding from round to round? --Pine 02:08, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
For sure there has to be way. Organizations are not left alone in the process of preparing their annual pan. But, at this very moment I cannot list anything on that problem. Regards.
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
Good question Pine! The point is highly crucial for not only small affiliates but also for other grant-seeking entities. Often grantees find that the amount they have been funded is significantly low than what they planned for. It makes them reorganize plans which is troublesome and time consuming. I would like to raise these following points for betterment of this issue:
  • Grant seeking entities should know well about the funding principles of FDC, criteria which are considered by FDC for funding recommendations. This would help organizations exclude irrelevant projects in their budget during planning stage as well as enable them to predict realistically what could be funded.
  • FDC might ask for an initial and brief draft of the budget that the grant-seeking entities are going to submit finally. This initial draft would include the key projects and expenditures that the organizations are planning.
  • Effective communication between FDC and grant-seeking entities is needed. This will definitely help the entities to prepare realistic budget and make them know why and what could be funded/not funded.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
Thanks Pine for all the questions across the different elections! I mentioned this in my response to my first question, but I believe it applies not only to small organizations, but to all applicants regardless of size:

Capacity - Applicants must be able to show they have, or will have, the capacity necessary to accommodate their proposed rate of change. This includes leadership capacity (to motivate and see the mission/vision through), management capacity (necessary talent to drive planning and operations), and resource capacity (sufficient people and tools to deliver results).

To clarify, it’s often the role of the grant committee to judge and assess the capacity an organization has to carry a project out to completion. Thus, the members of the FDC must have significant background and expertise running effective organizations and managing programs. The FDC must be able to recognize while applicants must be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient capacity.

If an organization doesn’t have the necessary capacity, if instability seems apparent, the FDC should be able to recommend possible changes that would enable that organization to scale according to their request. That is, if the organization is trying to do something that fits the movement’s cause, then the FDC should be an enabling factor.

It should be the FDC’s last resort to significantly underfund an organization because it does not have the capacity to function. Of course, it will happen (as it did to a few requests in the past), but the FDC should first recommend a set of changes an organization make in order to mitigate the potential risks that could arise (although it should not be the FDC’s responsibility to implement capacity building).

That being said, the Advisory Group made a recommendation that the “WMF should actively support capacities of new and existing organizations to increase their effectiveness.” A first step for the FDC to aid this includes making the capacity assessment as transparent as possible. The FDC should leverage tools used by consultants and other grantmaking entities that rate an organization’s capacity. By doing so, applicants can self-review while creating a grant proposal to see where challenges may stem from if they were to significantly grow.

Chsh (talk) 03:43, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Itzik Edri (Itzike)
no response yet.
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)
I'm not sure that this is just a problem for small entities: larger ones also run this risk. It's an important concern that needs to be taken into account in the FDC's decision-making process - which it has very much been in past deliberations. The best way to avoid unexpected recommendations is to encourage early communication between all of the stakeholders (entity/community/FDC/WMF) to make sure that everyone's on the same page. The FDC's been doing this through meetings and discussions with entities, either at general meetings or as site visits, which has been quite effective. The FDC process has also introduced a lot of stability over the rather ad-hoc processes that preceded it. That said, there are things that can be improved, particularly with communication with the community. Liam's point (below) about taking an iterative approach to the development of their application is a very good one: Wikimedia France have demonstrated this to good effect in past rounds, and it would be great to have this as a standard part of the process. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:42, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
Small organizations should know that a good annual plan with good projects will be funded, but this can only be done via an annual review right now. Fixed costs, such as full time staff and office rental should not be encouraged while the organizations are small, and in general should be kept to a minimum. So a plan of coming up with good projects and minimal fixed costs should minimize the effects of variable funding.
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
Changes in organisations (be it small or big) without proper adjustments to build capacity towards that change, may affect its effectiveness either in a positive or a negative way. This may be as a result of their ability to contain the addition or subtraction or even if that addition was necessary.

It is the FDC's decision to either fund or under-fund an Annual Project Grant based on the abilities of an applicant. It is also the FDC's responsibility to be sure of the capabilities of an applying entity. Applicants on the other hand must prove beyond all reasonable doubts their ability to contain or match the capacity required for their proposed growth rate while the FDC confirms their ability to meet their proposed growth rate. The FDC will properly assess all these factors before reaching a decision. Should the FDC decide in anyway to underfund an APG due to their disbelief of their capacity to handle the change, the FDC should advice on lapses and possibly suggest answers. Flixtey (talk) 15:02, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
Yes Pine, this is a huge problem - especially for smaller affiliates that are trying to grow from 0-1 or 2-4 full-time-equivalent employees (which represents "100% growth"), it is impossible to make plans - and have stable relationships with external organisations (like local governments, universities, GLAM...). I would like to see two things in particular:
  1. An iterative approach to annual-plan development. So the applicant can (if they want) submit a "draft" version of their plans to get feedback while it is still being built - as opposed to doing all the work and only then discovering that the FDC and the Affiliate are working from different underlying principles.
  2. Greater attention to the context of the applicant's experience, scale, capacity to deliver on their plan, and whether their plan includes lessons learned from other relevant previous projects (i.e. not re-inventing the wheel).
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
Preset conditions and requirements will help applicants filling out proposal forms that comply with those conditions and requirements.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
Predictabily is essential to proper planning, and it's important to reduce the possibility of surprises in the allocation of funds. With this goal, the first point is to take decisions based on clear and explicit criteria and to keep them stable year after year (unless something is wrong, of course). Of course, being predictable requires having an history of past decisions: the FDC was created three years ago, so it hasn't actually much history to predict from.

The second point is to increase communication between the requesting organizations, the FDC, and the community, to reduce the possibilities of misunderstanding and make it possible to improve the plan before making the actual FDC proposal. Many entities post their proposal on Meta just before the deadline; if they were able to post at least a draft of it in advance, it would be possible for the community and the FDC to help them improve it.

I'd like to point out however that small organization are not the ones that are usually more concerned by modest (percentual) changes in their income:

  • when you are small, usually, flexibility is more important than predictability. For a chapter that is transitioning from GAC/PEG to FDC/APG there is already a considerable increase of predictability, at the expense of flexibility.
  • smaller organizations usually have shorter planning; the more basic approach to increase predictability is to make funding decisions earlier (e.g., the multi-year funding that has been proposed), but that would make things worse for them.
  • the main source of inflexibility in an annual budget is usually staff costs and fixed costs; but usually this has more weight in larger organizations.
Therefore, actually, for small organizations often flexibility and simplicity is a greater concern than predictability.
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
Perhaps we should define a small chapter as, in my definition and from my WMPL, WMCEE and GAC perspective, the smaller affiliates are more flexible and these are the bigger, more professional affiliates that require more predictability.

Big budget affiliates are much more based on fixed costs, related to their office, FTEs, long-term programmes and plans - ofc they should have reserves but e.g. a 10% cut can mean a visible cut in their FTEs/programme portfolio. Smaller orgs are more near-term and project oriented and run by bursts of activity of their volunteers, if they receive grants money usually these are PEG allocations.

If we consider mid-size affiliates using FDC: in their FDC applications you can see a lot of dynamics, e.g. WMNO applying for a 209% (216%) budget growth and receiving 58% increase in 2013-14 r2, so one can argue that flexibility was preferred over stability.

Certainly, when the longer plans are made, it would be nicer for any org to have secured funding for programmes taking years. I am not sure the FDC should give their fixed funding for over a year: neither a total budget nor for particular programmes - as they still need to be reviewed and adjusted - but some long-term framework could be considered in future, especially in huge projects like Wikidata. For now, more affiliate-FDC communication could help spread information and reduce uncertainty.

Community, culture and Idealabs


As we can see on Research:Spring 2015 Inspire campaign and Research:Spring 2015 Inspire campaign/Survey the result of previous Idealabs are bad, and arguably it can be considered as failure, the part on research page on Inspire Campaign fail to notice oppose !votes is a hint for something, the fact that WMF fail to notice the opposer comments such noting on diversity (not gender but rather a cultural problems), like ignoring local culture and comments that explain why this idealabs may not fit with local Wikimedia communities culture may raise some concern to some, this means WMF and some of its communities fail to notice different point of view. What will you do to fix this problem? What will you do to improve similar grants idealabs in the future? Will you in the future simply ignore the opposing comments on grants in the future if you get elected? --AldNonymousBicara? 18:17, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

Snezhana Shtrkovska (Violetova)
I was part of the Inspire Campaign Committee. I read more than half of the ideas, and made my comments about them. I don't think that answering this question I could bring closer the way the members of committee work, or why I do not feel that the results are bad. Anyway, I never ignore other people comments, and I will not do that if I get elected as FDC member. But idealabs grants are not under the review of FDC, so I don't know how can I improve idealabs grants in the future by being member of FDC. Thank you for asking. Regards, Violetova (talk) 21:25, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Tanweer Morshed (Tanweer Morshed)
FDC has no jurisdiction over Idealab or Inspire campaigns, FDC only makes recommendations based on the grants in APG. But the issue of considering different point of view or being inclusive is a key aspect of the Wikimedia movement and this must be addressed by FDC and all other entities in the movement. WMF, chapters and other affiliates have been taking initiatives to reduce gender gap, promote cultural diversity (WMDE organizes Diversity Conference to promote diversity alone). FDC must consider inputs from varying perspectives and from the wider Wikimedia community. Opposing comments are not something to rule out; both positive and opposing comments must be considered in the FDC process.
Shawn Chen (Chsh)
no response yet.
Itzik Edri (Itzike)
no response yet.
Mike Peel (Mike Peel)
Idealabs and the Inspire campaign aren't really connected with the FDC, as the WMF doesn't submit its annual plans to the FDC for review. Comments on FDC applications are a different matter, though. Community comments on FDC applications, both positive or negative, are an important part of the FDC process, and they should always be listened to, and definitely not ignored (unless they are obviously trolling, which sadly is sometimes the case). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:10, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Peter Ekman (Smallbones)
Aldo, I haven't had time to completely review the Idealab project and the Inspire campaign, but I think I have to disagree. Idealabs looks like a great idea, perhaps it hasn't completely gotten off the ground yet, but I suspect that it will. The Inspire campaign looks to be inspirational. Where other programs have failed to get money to projects proposed by women (or aimed at reducing the gender gap), this one has succeeded. I didn't see the negatives you mentioned, actually being in your links.
  • But the main problem with me endorsing your idea here is that Idealabs has almost nothing to do with what the FDC is called upon to do. The FDC simply does not approve, disapprove, recommend or whatever with grants going through Idealab.
  • That is something that runs through many questions asked here. The questioners are asking the candidates to endorse a position that has nothing to do with what the FDC actually does. The FDC only reviews and makes recommendation on fairly large annual plan grants (APGs) for about 17 "chapters".
  • I want to encourage everybody to get involved with funding from the WMF, so I've probably said "yes" to many questions in a way that's misleading. If it's not part of an APG the FDC can't say yes or no. But if you're asking "should I get involved?" the answer is definitely "yes, go for it!"
  • There will be a time when members of the FDC have to say "no, you can't have the money." That's the responsibility that I'm applying for in this election. And I expect that I will fulfill that responsibility if elected. But hopefully it will be more along the lines of "85% of the funds requested in this APG, yes, 15% no"
  • Aldo, you're asking me to endorse a position that says "no, don't apply for those funds in a non-FDC program."
Felix Nartey (Flixtey)
Honestly I haven’t had the time to really look at these findings but I think it is necessary that every organization pays attention to suggestions or constructive comments from the opposition as these help to throw more light on a problem, idea or situation. Unfortunately the FDC has no link with funding of projects that result from the ideas lab. However it’s important to listen to constructive criticisms. The only case where an opposition may not be taken into consideration is when it’s suggestions are baseless. One that has no distinctive point on which the argument is built or based, such a criticism is just an agitation that gives no room for improvement. Flixtey (talk) 19:24, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
Not only do I generally disagree with your characterisation of this issue, but irrespective of that it is something that is outside the scope of the FDC's role (as others have already mentioned). Wittylama (talk) 21:56, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Ad Huikeshoven (Ad Huikeshoven)
no response yet.
Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)
IdeaLab and the Inspire campaign are not part of the FDC framework and are not funded through the FDC. Therefore, none of us, as part of the FDC, will have any impact on it.

Since you have also raised a question on the comments: as I said in my statement, a key feature of the FDC/APG is that it is participatory grantmaking. This is realized partly by having a committee composed by volunteers, partly by having (a part of) them elected by the community, but also by encouraging comments from anyone in the community. Those comments are important, both to uncover specific issues and to provide different perspectives (nine people cannot possibly fully represent our wide movement).
Michał Buczyński (Aegis Maelstrom)
A very fragile question begging for a face-to-face discussion with WMF Staff, Aldnonymous.

I am no expert in IdeaLabs:Inspire and FDC does not evaluate it directly so far, so I won't neither. At the first glance I see a good-hearted attempt to win more women and spread more funding in a friendly manner, additionally learning something and asking volunteers: which is a brilliant idea except for one, bad, side: it is a circumvention of an existing grants process already utilizing volunteers - Movement experts - that is GAC/PEG - and a yet-another strategic push coming rather from WMF than from the grassroots. As such, it can leave some people feeling ignored, albeit the project has been supported by other volunteers (which could be the reasons of success in many metrics: like disseminated funds in this time frame).

The case with volunteers is: we are very different. Even in one culture you will find strong supporters of institutional financing as such or particular cases and their opponents - and all of them can have strong arguments. Then there are cultural things - e.g. my home community does not like many initiatives funded by WMF directly or via PEG. This also means that grant making should be participatory and open to everyone, and an evaluation body consisting of supporters can be very different from the general community. Better practice would be to have constant evaluators like FDC and GAC, than rotate them to disseminate funds. I know some people are frustrated with evaluators seen as "overly scrupulous" while others feel cheated with "paying people for a sheer folly". As we are community-based, my guess we need to talk more to make our stands closer.

Finally, any person familiar with PEG could see projects funded despite strong opposition/concerns from GAC volunteers which was a bit disheartening and left me candidating here.