Grants talk:Start/2017-12

Active discussions
Warning! Please do not post any new comments on this page. This is a discussion archive first created on 01 December 2017, although the comments contained were likely posted before and after this date. See current discussion.

IEG versus WFG

The difference between IEG and WFG is very confusing, even to me. Please clarify, and have those two side-by-side and described in a parallel manner. I would add "large" before "time-intensive" in the description of IEG, and specify the funding-range expected for each type of grant. SJ talk  17:56, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

I agree. Something like a features table could be helpful here. Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 22:41, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
Hey there! We're going to be doing some rebrand/redesign to this umbrella page, as well as to the WMF Grants program soon (it is headed to a name more like "Projects and Events Grants," I believe, and we'll start to make some more of the distinctions clear around focuses on funding for offline vs online, etc). Will definitely keep in mind this feedback as we start that work! Part of the confusion is I think related to the messiness of ourselves working on getting clearer on the differences as a grantmaking team first, and some of this is related to the history of WMF grantmaking in general - as we've added new programs, WMF's earliest grantmaking program is also in the process of becoming more defined in relation to others. As a side-note, though, I don't think we'll be distinguishing the 2 programs based on size at this point - at least, not dollar amount size. IEGs can actually be quite small (we've funded 2 out of 8 at $500 in the recent round) and WMF Grants can be quite large (Wikisym was recently funded at $12,000, for example). Regardless, agree that more work is needed to clarify distinctions between each program, hope to hear more feedback as we start down the path of updates here! Siko (WMF) (talk) 20:34, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Clearer buttons

The most important links -- to each program's main information page -- are somewhat easy to miss. I'd suggest to either make the links more traditional (without the dotted line etc.), or to add clear buttons at the bottom of each column leading to the same main information page that the titles do. Thoughts? Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:26, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Redesign

Hi all. I just migrated over a redesign of the start page (translators, please read this before marking it for translation). The design process is ongoing, you can read some background here. Please provide feedback! Cheers, Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 19:11, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

The beauty! Aaaagh! I am temporarily blinded... Fantastic work. SJ talk  22:18, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Love templates and design? :)

We have a paid wiki-design contract position with the Wikimedia Foundation: We need your help making it easier for Wikimedians to participate in the movement and with each other!

  • Travel and Participation Support Grants is looking for someone to help design and build a new portal on meta-wiki to make this grants program easier to navigate and more fun to use. You'd be working with me, to make something suitable for this program that fits with other grants pages on meta-wiki. We’d prefer someone with wiki and template knowledge (this would outweigh other experience). Please see the job description for details, pass it along to anyone you know, and feel free to ask me or Siko if you have any questions. We look forward to speaking with you!
(We’re posting around the community because we’d love to hire a Wikimedian and thought some people here might be interested - if you apply, please include some info about your Wikimedia experience!)
heather walls (talk) 23:41, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Navigation

Page looks good visually.

I'm a tech dumbo, so I don't know the reason for this: after diverting to the talkpage of some pages in the grantmaking and evaluation portfolio, you can't get back to the original page. For example, the "Glossary" goes to a general talkpage. Then you're stuck unless you press your backbutton. The "Grants" button at the top won't go there.

Perhaps there's a functional reason. Tony (talk) 05:39, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Hi Tony. Thanks for pointing this out. I think this is a bug, and I've added it to my (loooong) list of things to fix. But it's probably not a difficult fix, and I'll let you know when it's done. Cheers, Jmorgan (WMF) (talk) 23:49, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

Place or category for grant requests open to community comment?

Suppose that volunteers wish to review or comment on grant requests. I think the grants process has always been imagined to be open and to solicit community endorsements, critiques, and review.

How should anyone find grant applications which are open for comment? Is there a category of open grant applications? Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:03, 21 October 2017 (UTC)

@Bluerasberry: Hey Lane, sorry for the delay responding here. I was away on parental leave for the past few months. Your assessment of the grants process is correct-- volunteers are always able to provide feedback on grant proposals, and this feedback is valuable to committees and staff (in the case of Rapid Grants) in making funding decisions. There are indeed categories and pages that show a clear list of open grant applications, and they are separated by grant program. Here is where to find them:
I think you are suggesting that we create and make accessible page that lists all open grants across programs. Is that correct? I can discuss that with the team, because that would be relatively easy to throw together using a DynamicPageList given that open proposals of each kind of grant are always in a category. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 18:28, 22 November 2017 (UTC)
@I JethroBT (WMF): Parental leave?! Wow, congratulations!
Thanks for these. I was not suggesting that your team make any particular changes because I did not know that the "browse applications" lists were available. I have no strong opinions on these lists because I am just now looking at them, but yes, it does sound interesting to be able to generate dynamic lists perhaps based on characteristic. I am not sure what those characteristics should be, but maybe by region or topic, because so far as I know those are the most likely reasons why one person would be interested in commenting on a grant. Thanks for your reply. You resolved everything here. Great job! Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:44, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

How does the WMF grants team feel about saying "no"?

I am not sure what I have been experiencing, but recently I assisted some individuals in making small WMF grant applications (less than US$2000) and I got responses from the WMF grants team which are challenging for me to understand. From my perspective, it seems like the WMF team might have some motivation to avoid telling an applicant "no", and instead communicates a "no" response in an indirect way. I wanted to share the situations here to open a conversation, and to advocate for quick clear answers from the WMF grants team. A "no" answer can be a good thing and there is no shame in giving one!

I want to start by saying how happy I am with service from the WMF grants team. This entire online grants application process is a crazy experiment which has brought lots of successes and amazing opportunities. What follows are some reflections and not a criticism.

For the rapid and travel grants, the pages say something like a person can apply for a grant and get an evaluation and answer in 2 weeks. That is fine - if an application can be accepted, great, and if not, then I hope that the WMF grants team will clearly say "no" so that I can have closure and move onto something else.

Here are some strange cases:

Offline Internet Resources for Rural Schools in Peru
user applied for grant 22 November
WMF review started on 30 November - the "travel grant" team turned this over to the "rapid grant" team who would review this, but the application is still active
user check in 4 December - no response
user check in 3 January - no response
WMF response on 12 January - "Since this request is not eligible, that means that it will neither be declined or accepted", but also, the WMF reviewer marked this as "not funded"
user followed up by making the same application with the rapid form, now at Grants:Project/Rapid/marielavzla/Offline Internet Resources for Rural Schools in Peru

As an applicant, the response that I wished that I would have gotten from the WMF grants team would have been a strong "no" on 30 November at which time I could have completed the correct form instead of having to wait for a response.

Offline Wikipedia deployment in Syria
user applied for grant 24 February 2017
WMF response on 27 February - there is a good legal reason for not funding this, but the application is open
WMF response on 14 March - since the WMF cannot fund this right now, the WMF marked this as "draft". "Draft" is the user indication that a user is in the process of completing a form and has not yet submitted it to the WMF. Strangely, WMF grants team uses it here to indicate that the WMF grants team is drafting a response to the grant or that the response is pending.
user check in 22 November - no response
user check in 3 January
WMF response on 9 March - WMF will not fund this grant, and marked the application as "voluntarily withdrawn by the proposer". This is strange because the denial is coming from the WMF side. Why mark not just say "no", instead of indicating that the user withdrew the request?

As an applicant I could have accepted a "no" on 27 February. If for some reason the WMF wanted to pursue this, then the grants team could follow up with me, just because I think even at 27 February the answer was "no". It is challenging for me to keep the community team doing outreach in this area in limbo with an uncertain answer. I feel like WMF staff had a clear understanding of this situation at the beginning, but for whatever reason, has an aversion to giving a clear "no".

offline wikipedia in greece (travel grant)
user applied for grant 11 August 2017
WMF response 17 August - there is some problem, and some request for more information
WMF response 7 September - advice to reapply but as "rapid" grant rather than travel grant
user moves grant application from "travel grant" to "rapid grant" on 23 September, application now at offline wikipedia in greece (rapid grant)
WMF response 16 November - WMF staff person posts to rapid grant application that user should create a rapid grant application
user response 22 November - this is a rapid grant application, request for evaluation
WMF response 30 November - WMF insists that rapid grant application is a travel grant request, but says that the WMF rapid grants evaluator will review this. This is confusing because it seems apparent to me that in the URL this is in the "rapid" grants space.
user check in 3 November
WMF says follow up is coming on 12 January but also marked the grant as not funded with the note "not funded because not eligible for TPS funding", and seems unaware that there is both an application in travel grants as well as in rapid grants

The response that I think I wanted was a clear "no" by 7 September, then a rapid grant evaluation within two weeks from 23 September. If I got a "no" then fine but the closure is useful.

Discussion points
  • To what extent are these experiences typical of exchanges with the WMF grants team?
  • How often do travel or rapid grant applications have a wait time of more than one month for the final evaluation?
  • How can users have better communication with evaluators?
  • To what extent are the evaluation outcome labels meeting the needs of applicants and evaluators? For example, why is "draft" used for both user draft and WMF drafts, why is "not funded" an indication of "neither be declined or accepted"? I am a native English speaker and I have trouble with this.
  • What are typical wait times for evaluations?
  • What behind-the-scenes motivations exist for WMF evaluators to avoid giving a direct "no" answer when the response to a grant application is much closer to "no" than "yes"?

Thoughts about any of these? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:02, 18 January 2018 (UTC)

Hi Bluerasberry. Thanks for your questions. I'll connect with the Program Officers for TPS and Rapid Grants and we'll respond by the end of the week. Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 17:13, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
Hi Blue Rasberry. Thanks for reaching out and we’re sorry your recent experiences have been confusing and frustrating. We want to be clear that the grants team does not have any ulterior motive for not saying a definitive “no” to a grant proposal. If a grant proposal is clearly not eligible for funding or the project does not merit funding, we will decline. However, often times a proposal is not eligible for funding in TPS but is eligible for a Rapid Grant. Sometimes we are not sure ourselves if a project is eligible due to either U.S. or foreign funding restrictions and need to do more due diligence with our legal/finance teams and outside counsel to understand what we can and cannot fund.
Since Rapid Grants was launched in May 2016, the average time from submitting an application to receiving a decision from the grants team has been 14 days. For TPS, it is 16 days. Since this is an average, some grant proposals take a shorter time and some longer. The end of the year (November/December) is always the busiest time, plus there is a break for the holidays. This year, we closed Rapid Grants from December 18-January 14 to accommodate the year-end rush and Program Officer travel schedules.
In terms of the cases you mentioned, I will try and shed more light:
Offline Internet Resources for Rural Schools in Peru: It looks like Marti determined that this proposal was not eligible for TPS, but may be for a Rapid Grant and pinged our new Program Officer, Woubzena to review. Unfortunately, my guess is that since Woubzena only joined the foundation November 13th, she either did not see the ping or was not sure what to do next. We should have followed up with her directly. She was also still on break on January 3rd when you pinged her. However, from Marti’s first response on November 30th it looks clear that it was not eligible for TPS and should be submitted as a Rapid Grant. For future reference, if a grant is not eligible for TPS but is eligible for a Rapid Grant, it needs to be submitted as a Rapid Grant to be reviewed and show up in this list of Rapid Grant Open Proposals. The proposals are reviewed by different processes and different people. Now that the proposal is a Rapid Grant, we will prioritize review this week.
Offline Wikipedia deployment in Syria: This was a case where we were unclear on the eligibility and needed time to receive guidance from our Legal team and outside experts to understand if we could fund activities in Syria. Getting the research done to determine eligibility can often take a long time in cases like these. It is not true that we knew a definite “no” for this case early on. “Draft” does not necessarily mean that we are waiting for the applicant to improve the proposal. We often use the “draft” status for those proposals that will not have a decision in the near term, but may be eligible in the future in case an applicant wants to re-open the request. However, when we realized we would not be able to fund activities in Syria in the foreseeable future, we should have moved to “not funded”. It’s clear from this experience that we do not have a strict protocol for when we apply the different grant status terms. We will work to align our team on when to use “draft” vs. “not funded” vs. “withdrawn”.
Offline Wikipedia in Greece: Looking through the two discussion pages, there was a lot of mixed communication! When the original TPS was moved to Rapid Grants, only the page name changed, but not the template of the grant so it still showed up as a TPS, which is why Marti was confused. The portal on the info box needs to be updated to Rapid Grant. I have updated the page and now it shows up in the correct place for Rapid Grants Open Proposals. Please let us know if the applicant still wants to pursue the project despite the delay. If yes, we will prioritize review.
Based on our average decision-making time for TPS and Rapid Grants, I do believe these cases are an exception. The fact that two are TPS--> Rapid Grant cases and the other is related to grantmaking in a difficult legal context make me hope that they won’t be repeated in the future. We are also considering merging TPS and Rapid Grants as there is a lot of overlap between the two programs.
If you or a grantee are waiting on a response, you can always email us directly. While we strive to respond to all pings on discussion pages, there are times when we either miss them or they get buried in the masses. This can happen with email as well, but it can be a more direct way to get a response.
I hope this answered most of your questions. If not, please let me know. Best, Alex Wang (WMF) (talk) 00:13, 19 January 2018 (UTC)
@AWang (WMF): I am satisfied with your attention and response. I appreciate the rapid pace at which everything in the Wikimedia movement changes and I know that the grants team does everything they can to both meet needs and innovate.
I would like to ask for either a commitment or response from you. My request is that when a grant reviewer can determine that a grant proposal will not be funded, then at that time, you use the "not funded" tag as the clear and terminal end to the review process. For the "Peru" grant above you note in discussing your reviewer, "However, from Marti’s first response on November 30th it looks clear that it was not eligible for TPS and should be submitted as a Rapid Grant." To me, the response at the top of the talk page was not clear. It looks to me like there was a call for further conversation here. A response which I would definitely have been able to interpret would have been your tagging this "not funded" or otherwise "this path is a dead end, do something else". What you knew at that time and what I did not was that I should have left that path in the application and gone to the other pathway. For now I would like to consider everything resolved, but if you agree that it is reasonable, I request that reviewers from now on immediately tag "not funded" to grants as the normal and expected way to communicate that the grants team will not fund something. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:45, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
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