Grants talk:PEG/Grant Advisory Committee/General archive up to 2012-11

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Signalling readingEdit

Many of the GAC members, no doubt, do take the time to review a grant request, but find that either they can't offer an opinion one way or the other, or that their precise position has already been articulated by another member (or by me). That is perfectly fine, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making it appear as though that GAC member did not review the request at all.

I would like, therefore, to find a way to signal that you _have_ in fact read the grant request, and have no [further] comments. Any method you are comfortable with is fine by me: on-wiki, a shared online document, private e-mails to me.

Perhaps the easiest would be to just tack on a "==GAC==" (or "==Review==") section to the end of incoming requests, under which you can all just sign once you've read and commented (or not commented) on the request. That would make it a lot easier for me to distinguish between there being one comment because only one GAC member read the request and there being one comment because one GAC member spoke for many. It would also allow me to act sooner in cases where the GAC chooses not to take a position (which, again, is fine), and the consideration is left entirely to the WMF.

Please comment. Thanks! Ijon 20:32, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

I usually try to leave some feedback every time I read something. For me that is the best practice: always leave some feedback, even if it is superficial, let people know you've been over it. Are there really people reading proposals and leaving no feedback at all? I mean, it takes some effort to read a proposal, so not even dropping a short comment seems like a waste of your own time. --Solstag 03:31, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree, and I would encourage simple trivial comments on the grant pages themselves, as you say -- and not just for my benefit, but for the grant requester as well, so that it's clear several people have reviewed the request.
Am I to understand, then, that you have not read the grant requests where you have made no comment? :-p Ijon 03:41, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Shaaame on me!! Indeed, I haven't been able to devote much time to the GAC lately. I knew I'd be giving myself away... ;-)
About the benefits, like I said, leaving even the shortest of comments works also for the benefit of the grant reviewer himself, to make the best of his own reading effort which is, otherwise, mostly wasted.
One thing that might get in the way is the lack of an obvious place, so we could agree on creating a "General" section whenever we don't find a place for a review too short to be a topic on its own.
Cheers, --Solstag 04:29, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
I usually comment on most of the grant applications, but I must admit that many times my questions were already asked, or a review started with me was proceeded by another GAC member in a decent manner. My thoughts therefore are on the way that we don't need any further clarification on this, since we're already doing the work fluidly.--Kiril Simeonovski 20:55, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
I'd only add that, by the important concerns raised by Ijon, in the case our questions are already asked, we should drop a line anyway: to let Ijon know we read the proposal, and for the extra benefit of reinforcing that question. : ) --Solstag 08:10, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

I do feel that I have a fiduciary duty to read all the grant requests. I can't say that I _have_ actually read all of them, but yes, more often than not, I don't have any feedback to give. So yes, coming up with that option you proposed will be good. Or GAC members could sign with four tildes at the bottom of a grant application page to signify the people who have gone through it. Abbasjnr (talk) 09:02, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Update: with the support expressed above, I have updated the GAC page with the expectation of signing your name on open grant requests if you have no comments. I am adding a space for it on the talk pages of open grant requests. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:48, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Reviewing reportsEdit

Ideally, I would have liked the GAC to also review Grant Reports, to provide community input on this complementary part of the grantmaking process, and to help us evaluate and draw lessons from past grants. This is not too onerous, as reports come in at no more than the rate of approved grant requests, and is also less time-sensitive, as reports can be evaluated at leisure.

Would current GAC members agree to review some grant reports as those come in? If so, how do you propose we organize it? Ijon 02:02, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

I would enjoy checking reports, but that would subtract from the already little time I can devote to review proposals. But I'm sure other people have more energy available and I would welcome this as a secondary objective for the GAC's mission :) --Solstag 03:34, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
I think that we are already struggling to get some people to review the grant proposals, so I'm quite skeptical about the repercussions of increasing the workload. 89.211.37.202 04:12, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Reviewing grant reports will help GAC to judge upcoming grant requests. It will increase our experience and skills. So I am in favor of this however we shall have to increase GAC members from 16 to 25 to accommodate this requirement--Mayur (talkEmail) 05:06, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Reviewing reports should be a crucial part of our work done as GAC.--Kiril Simeonovski 15:43, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
I agree: could the report be posted under each original successful application and a separate thread begun on the talk page to gain feedback, if any, from GAC members? Tony (talk) 08:33, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Reports already are posted as sub-pages (/Report) of each completed grant, and have their own talk pages. We would be thrilled if GAC members make time to look into grant reports currently under review and add your questions and comments. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 15:50, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

Meeting at ChapConfEdit

Do you think that it might be good for the GAC guys to have a meeting at the Chapters Conference so that all these issues can be finalised? This process has been stalled for quite a while now (and yes, I am one of the people guilty of stalling.) Abbasjnr (talk) 09:07, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

No, I don't. I think the GAC should be capable of discussing this right here on this talk page. It doesn't seem to me that the obstacle to more engagement here is some sort of tension or misunderstanding that can only be resolved in person. We need members who put time into the GAC regularly, and online. In person meetings are not scalable for the GAC's operation. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 09:22, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your prompt reply. What do you mean by "in person meetings aren't scalable"? BTW, I am not saying implying that WMF should pay for all of GAC's members travel to Berlin -- what I mean is that the members that will be in Berlin could have a meetup. Abbasjnr (talk) 15:01, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
Oh, I see. I did indeed misunderstand. I'll begin a conversation with the GAC members here in Paris this weekend, and go on with the other GAC members in Berlin next month, and I do hope that by the end of March we can have the GAC meta-questions resolved, and be more confident about the GAC's processes, membership, etc. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 15:51, 17 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Asaf that GAC needs to be a body which will be able to handle tasks “online”, without personal meetings. This must be its primary method of cooperation.
But on the other hand such cooperation goes every better when the people knows each other in person. And an informal meeting during ChapConf could be a good idea. --Packa (talk) 11:09, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
Agree as Packa. Have a great time at WMCon guys, and hopefully see you at Wikimania later this year :) --Solstag (talk) 19:04, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Criteria for Grant EvaluationEdit

A majority of the GAC is in favor[1] of developing a set of formal criteria that would be used in evaluating grant proposals. These criteria would not be sufficient criteria, but more like necessary criteria (though in fact we may want to be flexible and not always require all of them to be met), i.e. they would be explicitly referred to in evaluating a grant proposal, and would form a minimal basis for the GAC's evaluation of the proposal. GAC members would still be free to assess and comment on any other aspects of the proposal, and to praise or express concern about any of them.

Let us begin gathering a set of criteria we are comfortable with, for evaluating typical non-annual grant proposals, i.e. project-based or event-based grants, for the most part. We might use the annual grants criteria, which have seen some community review already, as a starting point, but they obviously do not all apply to this class of grants, and some criteria important for these grants may be missing from the evaluation of annual grants.

I am seeding the list below with a few suggestions, just to get things started. GAC members, please contribute; non-GAC members, please contribute too! :) Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:00, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Possible CriteriaEdit

Please add criteria, or edit/upvote/downvote existing ones.

  • Mission-alignment: is the proposal aligned with the Mission? All work funded by grants must be at least somewhat aligned with our mission. If it is aligned with our mission, perhaps try to roughly quantify it?
  • Feasibility: is the proposal feasible? That is, is the plan realistic and do the steps and budget proposed seem likely to attain the desired outcome? Are the human resources to carry it off available?
  • Frugality: is the budget frugal in spending? We are committed to making careful use of our donor funds, and must not fund immoderate or wasteful programs.
  • Impact: Will the grant-funded work, if successful, have significant impact? Is the impact (at least somewhat) measurable? Can the expected impact be described, in terms of our mission, our strategic goals, plus local concerns (e.g. rallying local volunteers)?
  • No COI: is there no conflict of interest in the proposal? If a COI exists, is it suitable stated and addressed?
  • ...

CommentsEdit

Strategy

Do we want a specific criteria regarding alignment to strategy? --Solstag (talk) 15:22, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Process

Do we want a process related criteria, such as requiring that the grant page reflect all the changes committed to in the discussion? --Solstag (talk) 15:22, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Criterion?

I don’t think these points are criteria (criterion should be more exact). They are principles for authors of applications, they should not forget to. And they are also principles for GAC members, what they should point their look to while they evaluate the request. --Packa (talk) 21:54, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Hey Packa. Can you give examples of what you'd think would be valid criteria? I agree they don't look like exact criteria, and worried about it at first. But then I felt we can't get much more specific than that at such a high level. Specially without constraining volunteer creativity. And there might not be enough benefit in trying to previously identify categories so narrow that exact criteria are applicable. But I'd love to be proven wrong by examples of useful exact criteria. Ni! --Solstag (talk) 01:56, 24 February 2012 (UTC)
Solstag, my post was too brief, I see :) In the survey[2] I wrote I am not sure if we need explicit criteria. So I don’t think we need give precision to these “Possible Criteria”. I only want to indicate they are IMHO principles rather than criteria (and we need to realize it when we will manipulate with them).
So I agree with you we can't get much more specific ones – it could be disserviceable. --Packa (talk) 09:23, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

GAC & FDC: An offer of developmentEdit

First forgive me for my bad english. I try to explain a technical matter in english...so difficult...

Well, the present offer departs from the conversations supported in Paris, during the Finance Meeting. In the same ones it was possible to observe that, though the basic idea is more or less clear, the development of both committees, functions, members and their election, procedures of decision and area of action are not by no means definite.

In my opinion, it is a question of essential aspects, which they should be developed before the approval of the idea. The coexistence of both Committees is not exclusive, and can provide with flexibility to the system. In fact, I consider the existence to be extremely beneficial of both for reasons that will be seen in the present document.

The GACEdit

The GAC would limit his intervention to the grants requested between 1US$ and 10.000US$, for concrete projects. The request can depart well from individual persons, a group of users, a partner organization or an established chapter.

To facilitate the grants between 1US$ and 5000 US$ there will be provided to the petitioners forms that they will have fullfill in all paragraphs, and attached of the documentation that necessary in every case. Verified the accuracy of the contributed information, and of the necessary documentation, the GAC might approve the request without much more step. The grants between 5000 and 10000US$ will have to be sent like till now.

In case the money is requested by individuals or by groups not recognized by the WMF, it will be necessary to contribute, at least, supporting documentation of each one of the persons who ask the grant, a number of bank account opened addressed to any of the petitioners, a sworn statement of which the money will use exclusively for the development of the concrete project , a sworn statement of solidarity between them in case of non-payment, as well as of that they surrender to the audits or check that WMF wants to carry out. Likewise, they will promise to present to WMF the accounting derived from the use of the sent funds. In each of the cases the GAC and WMF will save themselves the right to request more documentation if will necessary.

Composition, election. How Works.Edit

The GAC will be composed for not more than 15 members, volunteers chosen among the community. It will be coordinated by the Head of Grants of the WMF, who can moderate, help, and orientate the GAC with voice, but without vote. The GAC will discuss the requests, in the form in which one has come doing till now.

The precisions and comments of the GAC can be born in mind by WMF, but this comments will not be binding. The comments of the GAC will have to be completed in the space of a natural month following the request of the grant. 4 members of the GAC will have to take part in the above mentioned discussion at least, being able to be one of them defending of the grant. If at the moment of assigning a grant exists discrepancy between advised by the majority of the GAC and advised by WMF, it will be possible submit the approval to a review for the FDC.

The members of the GAC will be chosen among the community, but to be chosen the following conditions will be necessary:

  • 1.- They will have to be recognized members of the community, for what they will have to accredit at least 4 years of experience in any of WMF's projects. The requests that do not fulfill this requirement, will be rejected.
  • 2.- They will not be able to be members of the GAC two persons of the same nationality, not of the same chapter or partner organization.
  • 3.- The members of the GAC will have to be major of age, according to their respective legislations.
  • 4.- Other that WMF indicates.

The members of the GAC have a term of not more than three years, concluded which, for WMF will call to elections for new members of the Committee. The members of the GAC will be able to appear to the reelection.

The current members of the GAC will begin to count their term of permanency of three years from the moment in which they were approved like such.

Passed three years, WMF will call to elections. The above mentioned elections will follow the same steps that are used today for the election of checkusers (i.e.)

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.--Marctaltor (talk) 10:10, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

CommentsEdit

Let me get that straight: Everything more than 10 thousand dollars will be responsibility of the still-to-be-developed-and-formed FDC, but all under this would be decided by GAC without WMF have a say in it? Is that? If is, why 10k? Why not 15 or 20? I believe we should place it at 15k. Béria Lima msg 02:34, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
You must have in mind my poor english ;-)...I try to explain my idea: all grants up to 10000 US$ must be decided by FDC; below this amount, be decided by WMF after heard the recommendations of GAC (like now). Why 10K?...well, why not? XD...seriously: I think 10K is good amount, but it's only an idea. If you have reasons to put in 15K, please explain it and we can change de amount. Thanks for your comments.--Marctaltor (talk) 12:44, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
I think the amount should not be the only criterion to decide whether the FDC or the GAC will have to take control over the request. Sometimes we have expensive short-term projects and relatively long-term projects with not too much financial requirements. We should also have in mind the annual plans that are different than the usual grant requests. Definitely it's worth to participate in the discussion about the FDC and its relation to GAC, but we also need to respect the resolution made within the WMF.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 19:03, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

In general, the idea to introduce such criteria is fine and these proposals are a very good starting point. I think some of them were already mentioned in the survey and few weeks ago Asaf announced the general opinion based on the comments there. If the community chooses the members of the GAC like it does with the stewards and the Board members, it's definitely not good to introduce a very high set of criteria. Members should be easily recognized among the Community and that's an important thing, but they also have to show somehow that they're able to deal with finances. User's history as criterion is barely relevant here. I totally agree on the distribution of the members in different countries and not to permit more then one member from a chapter or any other organization to participate in the work of the GAC. The term should be 2 years in my opinion, just to align with most of the other terms that we already use. Age of the members is something that attests the maturity of the committee and it must have a low limit.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 19:20, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Sorry folks, but what in the world is an FDC? Some kind of deodorant? ;) I feel like I missed something, where are the usual internal links giving context to stuff? hehehe By-ye, --Solstag (talk) 05:37, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

Dear Solstag, sorry for feeling left out. Details about the FDC can be found here and here Abbasjnr (talk) 07:21, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
Thank you Abbas =) I see this FDC is going to have a lot do deal with our work, good that a full group has been assembled to plan it ahead. --Solstag (talk) 06:15, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Volume/workloadEdit

Unless I'm missing it, there is no real indication here of the level of workload, or volume of applications. Roughly how much time does this take per month? How many applications is the committee currently receiving? Johnbod (talk) 13:29, 20 May 2012 (UTC)

Good point! I've added a rough estimate. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:07, 22 May 2012 (UTC)
  1. As established in a survey of GAC membership
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named survey
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