Hardware donation program/Retrospective
Hardware for Hard-working Heroes of Free Knowledge: a two-year retrospective of the WMF's HDPEdit
This page offers a retrospective and evaluation of the Hardware Donation Program (HDP) in its first two years of operation, since March 2017. In the "Recommendations" section, it makes some recommendations about how to achieve greater mission impact through this program.
In the course of its office operation, the Wikimedia Foundation regularly depreciates hardware assets and is interested in donating the hardware, still in good condition and usable for another few years, to its volunteer communities to help with mission-aligned work.
The donated hardware is provided with a fresh installation of Ubuntu Linux or base OSX (depending on machine distributed), and a universal power adapter, to ensure it is usable by the recipient. Any previous data is securely wiped.
The program has been operated by staff members from the Office IT (OIT) team, handling the wiping and preparation of the used computers, and by a program officer from the Community Resources (CR), and now Community Development (CD) team, handling the design of a public application process, the evaluation and review of applications, and the coordination of the delivery of the laptops to the recipients.
Laptops are often given to other volunteers, compatriots of the applicants, to be delivered once the traveling compatriots are back in their home country.
The program was operated using only staff time from the CR team, and time and a small additional budget from the OIT team. Wikimedia Deutschland has also assisted the program with logistics on a number of occasions.
- Program announced and entered operation: March 17th 2017
- Total number of laptops donated: 77
- Total number of laptops delivered: 63
- Number of WMF staff who personally carried extra laptops to events for the program: ~35
- Number of countries served: 36
- Top 3 countries by number of recipients: India (12), Nigeria (5), Ukraine (5)
- Average cost in person-hours to prepare a machine for donation: between 4-24 hours (this includes data wiping (shred & multiple overwrites); inventory and finance activities; coordinating with CE + messengers)
- Average cost in person-hours to coordinate and effect machine delivery before and during in-person event: 1.5 hours
Breakdown by regionEdit
(CEE = Central and Eastern Europe; MENA = Middle East and North Africa; LatAm = Latin America)
Impact of the Hardware Donation Program, 2017-2019Edit
The laptops donated to individuals generally either replace outdated or defective laptops previously owned by the volunteers, or are the first-ever full computer owned by the volunteers, who had previously been volunteering only through mobile devices, or on borrowed hardware (e.g. school computers). This, itself, greatly increases those volunteers' ability to contribute regularly and at all hours. For volunteers who had previously only had access to mobile devices, the laptops are literally enabling new kinds of contribution they had previously been unable to perform.
The laptops given to groups (chapters and user groups) generally serve at events or in chapter offices, and enable outreach to people who do not bring their own devices (in some parts of the world, particularly the CEE region, it is still common to have an old but functional desktop computer at home, but no mobile computer).
We do not actively track each laptop's impact, nor are we able to compel the recipients to report on impact, since these are donations, not grants. However, at our request, some of the recipients have documented some of the impact of the donated machines. We reproduce substantial quotes from those reports (all made in public on the original applications pages on Meta) in Appendix A.
Here are some examples of impact achieved with the donated laptops:
- when i discovered the Chewa Wikipedia i don't think i would have been able to edit the homepage to the way its looking now if i was using my phone --User:Icem4k, Zambia
- "[The laptop was used for] the WMF-funded project Community toolkit for greater diversity. Outputs hosted at: https://wikiinclusivity.in/about" --User:Rohini, India
- "[list of almost 100 contributed patches for Mediawiki and Mediawiki extensions] Apart from that, I was very active for Indic-TechCom, Where I created Two Toolsforge Tool. Indic-TechCom/Tools/IndicOCR and Indic-TechCom/Tools/Indic Wikisource Stats. Both tools were very important for Indic community. because Google OCR is not available for 5 Indic Languages. Which was a setback for those languages Wikisource. They were doing OCR manually. And also created UserScripts like Indic-TechCom/Tools/qrCodeGenerator, IndicOCR.js and many more. That is all about online contributions. In Offline activity, I led two MediaWiki training with the help of CIS. First one was at Theni and the Second one was at VVIT. I have created 28 easy to medium tasks for students which were a very difficult job for me. Because of I checked 75 about repository to find the easy bug for students. The training was very successful all the 28 tasks has claimed by students. And they upload patched for all bugs. Around 10 out of 28 patches has merged. Thank you :)" --Jayprakash12345, India
- "In August 2018, I was hired by the Foundation and joined the awesome Trust & Safety team. Several months later, as I am reflecting upon the tremendous impact of this donated device on my volunteer work and professional life, I can only wish more people embrace this wonderful initiative. Long live the Hardware Donation!" --User:African Hope, Côte d’Ivoire
- It is also worth mentioning that one of the laptops went to Nepali Wikipedian Ram Prasad Joshee, who previously made thousands of contributions through a mobile feature phone (not smartphone) in rural Nepal and India. That story has been told in the Wikimedia Blog. He now has a donated laptop to contribute through.
Tools developed with donated laptopsEdit
- Tool for tracking code contributions from African developers, by laptop recipient Sam Guebo from Côte d’Ivoire.
- Form Wizard for Mediawiki, by Eugene Egbe from Cameroon.
- a web application using and promoting sign language content on Commons and Wikidata by Abbe98 from Sweden
- Indic OCR tool by Jayprakash12345 from India
- contributions to Kartotherian, the software that powers the interactive maps on Wikipedia Abbe98 from Sweden
- Indic Wikisource stats dashboard by Jayprakash12345 from India
- contributions to batch uploading tool Pattypan Abbe98 from Sweden
- ISA Tool to add Information to Images on Wikimedia Commons, by Eugene Egbe from Cameroon.
- Continue the program. It is achieving its goals, and is an impactful way to deal with deprecated machines and to empower dedicated volunteers to do more of the mission-aligned work they're already doing.
- add budget to the program to enable shipping computers to recipients unlikely to be able to receive the laptop in person, provided shipping is reasonably risk-free. Approximately 10-15 laptops to be shipped per year. Expected cost of shipping per computer: approximately $150. Recommended budget addition: $150*15 = $2250 (~a single rapid grant)
- Consider enlisting allied orgs for hardware sourcing or for help with shipping. E.g. WMDE, Mozilla, CC, Internet Archive, SF-based non-profits. This would allow us to give even more hardware to our volunteers.
One recommendation we are not making is to Consider replacing known-dead batteries before donation. While AC-only use is still better than nothing, dead-battery laptops greatly limit the usefulness of the laptops for outreach or workshop use, as well as in-class use, in some cases. However, doing so would be cost prohibitive. Costs to replace batteries will be higher than the worth of the laptop itself. OIT is in the process of building controls to exclude laptops with dead or nearly-dead batteries, to minimize frustration.
Appendix A: testimonials of impactEdit
"Laptop performs excellently. Since it was delivered, I created app. 900 edits in main space of Ukrainian Wikipedia and other projects, which is twice more comparing to previous years Unfortunately, I did not oftenly bring it or share with others on wikievents as it is rather heavy to carry. But I will try to do it on more regular manner if needed. I'm a user of online graphic design software programs when creating visuals for Ukrainian Wikipedia social media. Sufficient RAM memory and good screen made this work a pleasure."--Hardware_donation_program/Anntinomy
fun fact: Anntinomy's original request for a used laptop from WMF made Asaf start this program! Giving used WMF hardware to volunteers was her idea. Thank you, Anntinomy!
"[list of almost 100 contributed patches for Mediawiki and Mediawiki extensions] Apart from that, I was very active for Indic-TechCom, Where I created Two Toolsforge Tool. Indic-TechCom/Tools/IndicOCR and Indic-TechCom/Tools/Indic Wikisource Stats. Both tools were very important for Indic community. because Google OCR is not available for 5 Indic Languages. Which was a setback for those languages Wikisource. They were doing OCR manually. And also created UserScripts like Indic-TechCom/Tools/qrCodeGenerator, IndicOCR.js and many more. That is all about online contributions. In Offline activity, I led two MediaWiki training with the help of CIS. First one was at Theni and the Second one was at VVIT. I have created 28 easy to medium tasks for students which were a very difficult job for me. Because of I checked 75 about repository to find the easy bug for students. The training was very successful all the 28 tasks has claimed by students. And they upload patched for all bugs. Around 10 out of 28 patches has merged. Thank you :)" --Talk:Hardware_donation_program/Jayprakash12345
"an extra computer helped me assist in my work in all ways possible as my previous laptop was broken and couldn't even bear Ubuntu OS, which was installed there. This extra laptop helped me resume my work, which was almost stalled before. With this, apart from regular editing in Wikisource, Commons and Wikidata, which I was doing before, I tested and installed numerous scripts, gadgets, tools etc. in Wikisource, ran the OCR4Wikisource python script, did pywikibot maintenance work in Wikisource, effectively used all kind of tools available while working on heritage structures in Commons and Wikidata while organizing Wiki Explores Program and WLM 2018 in India, learned OpenRefine and implemented my new learning by adding demographic and other data in Wikidata etc, all of which could not have been possible with my previous broken laptop." --Hardware_donation_program/Bodhisattwa
"The laptop delivered to me during Wikimania 2017 is of great help for me. I am using it up to today. I have created more than 2000 articles with this new laptop and have done thousands of edits in wikipedia and sister projects. This laptop is very comfortable and I can carry it with me to the wikipedia workshops I organize and sometimes during workshops I give it to editors who do not have computer at that moment. This is a very kind project from WMF to donate computers those who need it. Thank youǃ" --Hardware_donation_program/Armineaghayan
"This has been an incredibly helpful donation from WMF. [..] The battery life of the WMF laptop, makes it easier for me to plan my volunteering time better. I don't have to fear anymore than my laptop will go off arbitrarily. This has made me more efficient, which is demonstrated in the smaller time I now use to create more articles. Since the laptop got approved, I have created at least 43 articles, and contributed significantly to more than 50 other articles. This was done in a more regular manner compared to my former editing pattern.[..] Overall, this is a commendable development from the Wikimedia Foundation, and I think if its directed mainly towards individuals who have (i) high number of contributions on Wikipedia (ii) singularly organizes editing projects, especially in third world countries. I also think more emphasis should be placed on the battery life of a laptop above every other specification, as I think that is a primarily useful feature in determine number of contributions and utility of the device with respect to its intended function." --Hardware_donation_program/HandsomeBoy
"In my request, I said, this laptop would help me in contributing more to Wikimedia projects: I am glad to say it did. It enabled me to contribute more to Hausa and English wikipedias with less effort required for mobile editing and with greater accuracy. The laptop helped me a lot when I organized the first Wikipedia Workshop in Kano, from collecting the participants details, curating the event documents, organizing the slides and presentation at the event and during various preliminary sessions. The tasks are quite near impossible to be managed with mobile phone alone. This device enabled me to do that with ease and promptness. I am also working with it in preparation to my upcoming events including my second workshop and Eagle Project of Nigeria Usergroup. It also enabled me to contribute more in technical space where the complexity and system requirement cannot be handled by most mobile phones. I have contributed a number of patches to MediaWiki and its extensions and also currently working on many others: My merged changes can be seen here on Gerrit. All my patches here. Mobile editing is more cumbersome in technical areas than conventional wiki editing and many things are just impossible to be done on mobile. This laptop gave me that opportunity. Thank you." --Hardware_donation_program/Ammarpad
"Most of my contribution to Wikimedia projects since I received the laptop has gone to: my duties as a part of the SAPG Committee and the WMF-funded project "Community toolkit for greater diversity" More details at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Project/Chinmayisk/Community_toolkit_for_Greater_Diversity/Final. Outputs hosted at: https://wikiinclusivity.in " --Hardware_donation_program/Rohini
"The Macbook has proven very useful for editing and presentations when I'm "on-the-go", as I did not have a laptop (I do most my editing on my desktop computer). Examples: Used it the day after it was handed over to me by Asaf at Wikimania 2018: at the Water sustainability editathon I created the Greek translation of the "Cape Town Water Crisis" article. Took it with me to Lviv for Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2018. I used it to prepare for my presentation and during the other sessions I attended." --Hardware_donation_program/Saintfevrier
"The Chrome Book (PC) that was donated to me has changed the way i use the wikimedia projects and in my day to day life on these projects. Well for starters when i discovered the Chewa Wikipedia i don't think i would have been able to edit the homepage to the way its looking now if i was using my phone. The chrome book is efficient on data usage making me spend less on data. I have also been able to fully take part on wikidata one of my favorite projects and also able to upload images on commons which i was not able to do with my phone. And also I was introduced to Translatewiki.net that can't work on my phone and looking at the translations that i have been doing i dont think i would have had enough money to be visiting the internet cafe but as it stands now am doing it in the comfort of my home and at any given time. From wikimania, one of the connections i got, landed me on the international team for wiki loves love and the work am doing with wiki commons i dont think it would haved worked well with my phone but the Chrome gives me this unlimited workspace and in general the chrome book has just changed my playing field." --[]
"I believe that this is an excellent program and should be continued because there are many users around the world for whom buying a laptop is inaccessible. Without the laptop I wouldn't have been able to create Inter WikiWomen Collaboration or Wikitherapy. Thanks to the laptop I could be able to communicate online and I am building a community of editors in Dominican Republic. Here you have a list of some of the events where I used the laptop:
- es:Wikiproyecto:Mujeres latinoamericanas/Inter WikiWomen Collaboration II
- es:Wikipedia:Desafío 100 mujeres centroamericanas
- es:Wikipedia:Encuentros/Editatón deportivo Parque del Kempes
- es:Wikiquote:Desafío 100 mujeres latinoamericanas
- es:Wikipedia:Desafío 100 mujeres centroamericanas
- Working with psychiatric patients in an editing workshop
- es:Wikipedia:Encuentros/Taller Ediciones en Wikipedia
- es:Wikipedia:Encuentros/Editatona Mujeres de Trayectoria y Compromiso
- es:Wikipedia:Encuentros/Editatona de Mujeres Latinoamericanas en Buenos Aires Arte y Feminismo 2019
That is the list of events that I organized myself, but there are a lot of other events organized by WMA or other where I also contributed. Moreover I created dozens of new articles and I edited pages in Facebook and other networks related to wikimedia activities.
I could also created
- Editing Learning patterns/Working with psychiatric patients in an editing workshop
- Editing Learning patterns/Trabajar con pacientes psiquiátricos en un taller de edición
- Editing Learning patterns/Como redactar un informe cuando se trabaja con pacientes de salud mental
- Editing Learning patterns / How to write a report when working with mental health patients
Moreover, the laptop allowed me to connect with dozens of wikipedian around the world via e mail to organize activities and exchanges and participate in community voting." --[]
"[The laptop enabled] Commons:Wiki Loves ZEOs 2018, Wikivacaciones 2018, Interview via Skype with El Catalejo Magazine, Art+Feminism 2019 in Cali, Wiki Loves Earth Colombia 2019" --Hardware_donation_program/Sahaquiel9102
"Developing the FormWizard extension for MediaWiki, as well as contributing to WikiSpeech with WMSE" --Hardware_donation_program/Eugene233
African Hope, Côte d'IvoireEdit
"For 7 months, I served as Strategy Coordinator for the French-speaking communities interacting both on-wiki and in real life, in my country. WMF's laptop greatly served the GLAM-Wiki's cause in Côte d'Ivoire and beyond. While I coordinated volunteer activities with GLAM actors, the laptop was used for preparing edit-athons, drafting articles, writing SQL-based queries to track edit-athons stats, writing grant requests and reports, etc. Built a tracking tool for monitoring progress of African Wikimedia developers, and hosted on Wikimedia Labs. I used the laptop for designing communication materiels such as flyers for 1Lib1Ref campaign 2018 in Côte d'Ivoire. The Macbook Pro is now being used by User:Ivcom, a volunteer graphic designer in charge of the User Group's visuals. [Note - this volunteer has since been hired by WMF and has a new WMF laptop now. He has handed over the donated laptop to another volunteer from his user group. --AB] In August 2018, I was hired by the Foundation and joined the awesome Trust & Safety team. Several months later, as I am reflecting upon the tremendous impact of this donated device on my volunteer work and professional life, I can only wish more people embrace this wonderful initiative. Long live the Hardware Donation!" --Hardware_donation_program/African_Hope
"I received the laptop in August 2017 and I still use it as of February 2019. Below I describe activities that has been done during this period with the help of the laptop. These activities are a selection and can not represent the overall impact of this donation. I became the second largest contributor of code to the popular tool Pattypan creating features such as Upload by URL. I have contributed code to Kartotherian, the software that powers the interactive maps on Wikipedia. I created a web application using and promoting sign language content on Commons and Wikidata. I helped WMSE and Swedish National Heritage Board to compute priority lists for WLM 2017 I hosted Wikimedia meetups together with other Wikimedians in Visby for events such as Every Politician. I have continued to maintain existing tools and gadgets as well as created new ones" --Hardware_donation_program/Abbe98
"Since I receive laptop from WMF, I make patroling the list of the articles. Also I made regular edits and additions. Сontinued to translate articles into Ukrainian. I start work with Wikisource, and convert old Ukrainian historical book: "Микола Аркас. Історія України-Русі (1912).pdf" from scanned PDF-file into text." --Hardware_donation_program/Dars
"Used the laptop to create a 3D model of Ribat of Sousse (historical Tunisian fort; see right)" --Hardware_donation_program/Dyolf77
Ehrlich91, North MacedoniaEdit
"first usage of donated laptop from Wikimedia Foundation was on our first WikiCamp in the village Brajcino, near shores of Prespa Lake. This happen already in September 2017. After that, we continue to use this laptop on regular basis on our edit-a-thons and also, my colleagues Ivan and Mario, starting new project WikiSketch, explaining what is Wikipedia and teaching individuals to create one article in one hour or less, they use it a lot this laptop. In conclusion, receiving this laptop gave us (to Shared Knowledge) an additional opportunity to offer another laptop to some new member who has a will to participate on organized event by us, but does not own laptop by themselves." --Hardware_donation_program/Ehrlich91
"this one has been rather useful as a backup. I dare say it has enabled me in writing dozens, if not hundreds of Wikipedia articles, uploading and managing hundreds of pictures, not to mention my work on Wikidata and, lately, Wikiquotes, as well as various communication concerning Wikipedia. If all the other donated hardware has been as useful, there is yet a reason for the existence of WMF." --Hardware_donation_program/Oop
"To date, I have created more than 22,800 articles, including thanks to the subsidy computer over the last year more than 1,500 articles." --Shared by uk:User:Білецький_В.С.