Talk:Wikimedia Enterprise

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    This note was updated on 05/2021

Business development plan?Edit

We are way past the dates in the table, but no business development plan has presented for community review yet and no update on the delay has been given. Is this project on hold? Ainali talkcontributions 22:07, 23 November 2020 (UTC)

@Ainali: Hey, less on hold and more that our timetable has massively slid. Partly due to the project readjusting a little in scope and also partly due to the capacity. We are doing another round of a focus groups and we are planning on publishing a position essay in January. I'll update the timeline with the new expected dates. Seddon (talk) 22:16, 23 November 2020 (UTC)

LLC details?Edit

Could we get some details on the Wikimedia, LLC, please? Relevant documents, details of how it's going to function? Is it currently doing anything, does it have any employees, or is it basically a placeholder at this point? Also, this isn't stated specifically anywhere, but I assume the primary reason for the LLC's existence is because of tax reasons/nonprofit restrictions? If so, could this be stated specifically somewhere? --Yair rand (talk) 20:44, 17 December 2020 (UTC)

Dear Yair rand, I apologise for not replying to this message sooner - I took over as the 'community liaison' for this project at about the same time as you posted this message and obviously the notification of it slipped between a gap in the watchlisting of the page. Nonetheless, as you can see, today we have just published extensive new documentation that we've been working on. Yes, your assumption is correct. The specific section of the new FAQ documentation that is most applicable to your question is here.
The Foundation established a single-member limited liability company, with the Foundation as the sole member. Single-member LLCs are invisible under US tax law (you'll often see the phrase "pass through"), which means the creation of this LLC will have no tax implications for the Foundation. The LLC's activities will be reported as part of the Foundation's annual tax filings, as opposed to in a separate filing, and the Foundation will pay taxes on any taxable income earned by the LLC. However, a single-member LLC is not invisible under US corporate law. The LLC helps to insulate the Foundation from any liability associated with the LLC's activities.
Also: the LLC is a legal entity but "it" does not have employees of its own - Everyone working on the Okapi project (now formally called 'Wikimedia Enterprise') is a WMF employee. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 15:52, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
Thank you, that's very interesting. The legal and financial structure is still not very clear to me, see Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Audit Committee/2020-07-20 for what I feel is a reasonable request. (I didn't check yet all the new pages.) Nemo 18:08, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
We intend to publish the LLC's operating agreement, and the cost-sharing agreement between the LLC and the Foundation. We're working a third internal agreement to clarify inter-entity licensing; once it's executed, we will publish all three. --TSebro (WMF) (talk) 18:27, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
Thank you, I'm looking forward to it. Nemo 06:24, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Thank you that's also very interesting to me. As I read the essay, one of the key reason is "avoid subsidizing big corp with (WMF) donor money", but if the employees are all WMF, how is that goal achieved? 2600:1700:5B70:117F:5DFD:C0:81FE:32A 00:11, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
I'm not a lawyer and not an accountant BUT my understanding is that this will be governed by the cost-sharing agreement Tony mentions above. The simplest explanation is probably along the lines that the WMF will be able to recoup costs such as these ensuring the donor isn't left out of pocket. Seddon (WMF) (talk) 00:43, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Can you please explain why the Wikimedia LLC is registered in Wilmington in the State of Delaware and not in San Francisco in the State of California. As far as I know the taxes in Delaware are low and so I think it is an important thing to clarify. I think that this company is registered in Delaware and that the address is Orange House is not good for the reputation of the Wikimedia Foundation. The companys address CORPORATION TRUST CENTER 1209 ORANGE ST is used by a lot of companys. I think Wikimedia LLC shouldnt have its seat at such an address. In German companys who have a seat at such a building like Orange House are called Briefkastenfirmen and the most people dont like such companys. Please think about another seat for that company. From my point of view it is important that at the seat of company it must be possible to meet a staff member. --Hogü-456 (talk) 19:33, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
@Hogü-456: Thanks for your question. I can't speak to corporate structures in Germany, but establishing legal entities in Delaware is fairly common in the United States, because the body of corporate law in Delaware is well-developed and easily understood. Using the LLC to operate Wikimedia Enterprise will help insulate the Foundation from exposure, and the clarity of Delaware corporate law furthers that objective. And, for what it's worth, I'm not aware of any analogous stigma in the United States associated with Delaware corporations.
Also: there is no requirement under US law, nor any cultural expectation, for a single member LLC's office to be co-located where an employee of the single member is based.--TSebro (WMF) (talk) 00:12, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
I don't question the legal decision here, i.e. that it's a pragmatic choice to establish the LLC in Delaware and there are legit reasons for it. However, I find it hard to believe that there is no stigma about Delaware corporations in USA, especially after the Panama Papers: there are many initiatives about the issue and even a Meryl Streep movie on the topic (granted, not the most successful) where the protagonist basically blames Delaware corporate laws for the death of her husband. (I don't endorse this movie, if nothing else because you'll probably need to accept DRM to watch it legally, but a relevant snippet is around minute 76 if you want to check the tone.) Nemo 06:00, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
Aaaaand this is why you shouldn't build your conspiracy theories around plot-lines from Soderbergh films. Most US corporations are based in Delaware. –SJ talk  02:39, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
Hello @TSebro (WMF):, thank you for the answer. It is good to know that the law in Delaware is clear and good to understand. I think that you should check further if there are stigmas about Delaware Corporations and I think it were good if the seat of the company is somewhere else but it can be in Delaware. It shouldnt be from my point of view at a house where many corporations have their legal seat. After what you explained me I dont have a problem with Delaware as the seat of the corporation. In Germany there are spaces for the community in different cities where they can meet other people. Maybe it is possible to establish somethig like that in a city in Delaware and then using the address of that space as the seat of the company. I think it is important that you write more about the reasons to found the Corporation in Delaware at a subpage or in the FAQ and specify if there are also tax reasons for that decision, this can be helpful to get more acceptance for the seat of the company. --Hogü-456 (talk) 19:02, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
Dear Hogü-456, just to clarify - as I think this might be a point of misunderstanding: the LLC does not have its own staff, office space, servers, or any physical "existence". All the people who work on the activities of this project are WMF employees or contractors (like me) in different places around the world. I know about the "Local K" spaces you are referring to - I have visited the LOKAL K in Köln with User:Raymond etc. - but that is a designated community meeting location supported by WM-DE. If the community in Delaware, or anywhere else in the world, wants to create a local community meeting space (like the lokal k's) they should be empowered to do that. But spaces like that are a question of priorities of local communities - what they need and want - and should not tied to specific bureaucratic processes. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 19:19, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

For-profit or Non-profit?Edit

Hi, just out of curiosity, is Wikimedia Enterprise LLC a for-profit or a non-profit? If it's for-profit, who are the stakeholders and who get to collect the profit? If it's a separate non-profit, will they be subjected to public disclosure compliance requirement like 501(c)3 or other similar types? Thank you! 2600:1700:5B70:117F:5DFD:C0:81FE:32A 00:13, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

The limited liability company (LLC) is a standard approach when a non-profit organization operates a for-profit activity, and will help us both manage risk and promote transparency. It is a single-member limited liability company, with the Wikimedia Foundation as the sole member. Single-member LLCs are invisible under US tax law (you'll often see the phrase "pass through"), which means the creation of this LLC will have no tax implications for the Wikimedia Foundation. That said, the Foundation is still required under US law to publicly disclose the LLC’s revenues and expenses in the Wikimedia Foundation's annual tax filings (view the audited financial reports here) as opposed to in a separate filing, and the Foundation will pay taxes on any taxable income earned by the LLC. However, a single-member LLC is not invisible under US corporate law. The LLC helps to insulate the Foundation from any liability associated with the LLC's activities. The LLC operates under the auspices of the Wikimedia Foundation, its staff are Wikimedia Foundation staff, and is ultimately subject to the governance of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. The LLC's legal registration can be found at the State of Delaware, Division of Corporations, Entity name: Wikimedia, LLC, File number: 7828447. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 00:28, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Does this mean that any compensation of the LLC officers, however called, is also mandated to be in the WMF's form 990? Nemo 06:24, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
FYI, I have seen this question and have asked WMF Legal to investigate this specific issue (due to timezones it might be a while before there is a reply. This is just to notify that the question is acknowledged and I will remove this notice when a proper reply is published. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 12:18, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
To follow up on @Nemo bis: for context, the Foundation discloses compensation for Foundation officers and select other employees in our annual tax filings, as part of our obligations as a US public charity. The IRS website provides more information about this disclosure obligation.
The LLC is a disregarded entity for tax purposes. The LLC president and the LLC board of managers are all currently Foundation employees. The roles, however, are not Foundation officer or trustee positions, as defined in the Foundation's bylaws. So, for this group, the Foundation will disclose compensation in accordance with the disclosure criteria for non-officers in our annual tax filings. And, if the LLC were to ever directly hire employees at some future date, the Foundation would then apply the same compensation disclosure criteria that applies to Foundation staff.--TSebro (WMF) (talk) 23:24, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Just to mention that the protections ain't absolute as the corporate veil can be pierced in some circumstances. —MarcoAurelio (talk) 14:28, 2 April 2021 (UTC)

On the large reusersEdit

The page mentions "a few massive companies use our projects' data", "businesses that reuse our content, typically at a large scale", "Reduce the need for high-intensity site-scraping". Sort of a curiosity, but just yesterday some FTC documents revealed that a decade ago one of them «offered remedies [...] for instance a pledge to stop scraping content from rival websites». A few initiatives we've seen around Wikimedia data might have been very different, if that had come to pass. And this has nothing to do with copyright or commercial relationships. Nemo 06:24, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

I think it is safe to say that "big tech" has no specific ideological or emotional attachment to the long-term success of Wikimedia projects, and past-attempts to replace us (e.g. Knol) show this. That is one of the reasons why this 'enterprise' service is being built. Instead of simply trying to appeal to moral arguments that it is "good" and "right" for these organisations to donate to WMF to invest in the free-knowledge that sustains their business-model... this project is attempting to build a product that they want to buy - that in no way restricts the existing options. It is a far more sustainable revenue model, and relationship model, for us if these organisations are able to "speak their language" to us - the language of commercial contracts. The fact that we have never been willing or able in the past to offer them an SLA - a contractual guarantee that the data they build their products upon (and the way that many of Wikimedia's readers interact with us) will be stable - means they have never been able to rely (in the business sense) on our existence. With a legal relationship in place, we will be in a much more strong position, a more sustainable position, to talk about things like correct and consistent attribution. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 12:26, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

Naming and communicationEdit

Before going into the details of the discussion, I want to thank you everyone involved for this greatly improved effort at communicating and discussing the initiative properly. I understand that the WMF board will review the projects for the future based on this initial pilot, and I think that in order to make this activity permanent we'll need to see a much broader consensus to support it, as opposed to the widespread confusion (at best) that we had so far.

The new name is an improvement over the old one, because it's informative and doesn't in itself imply anything negative about the main APIs and various avenues of access. It's also a term that companies are more likely to search for.

However, there are risks in using such a recognised terminology: most other sellers use it to mean that there are two grades of services, one which is actually good and restricted, and another one which is unreliable but gratis (freemium model) or even libre (open-core model). We don't want any of that, so we need extreme message discipline. The current messaging already contains what I consider to be some mistakes, I'll point out two.

  • "Commercial reusers of Wikimedia": bad terms, the Wikimedia mission doesn't care about "commercial". We're perfectly fine with people selling Kiwix flash drives without our involvement and brands (if only!). The term also invites wrong questions such as "why don't you use a NC license then". All the sentences where "commercial" was used seem to actually care about "for-profit" reuse, which is a different problem.
  • "Enterprise-grade Wikimedia APIs, service, and support" (on ): this suggests that the main APIs are not "enterprise-grade". While that might be technically true depending in the definition (especially one based on SLAs), what people are likely to hear is that the public APIs are "less good". This is not the message we need.

More generally, it seems to me that this project is now going in the direction of a very typical selling free software business model, namely support services, and should continue in that spirit. "Enterprise-grade support [for the usage of Wikimedia data]", I'm perfectly fine with that. All the use cases mentioned in the essay are things that any third party could do if they tried hard enough, but may not want to do in-house for a variety of reasons. Placing this initiative squarely in the field of support will also help recognise that there are other actors in this field, whose offering needs to be considered if we want to ensure a thriving ecosystem. For instance, some of the use cases mentioned could be served perfectly fine by a stepped-up Kiwix offering, with some help on how to consume the HTML inside ZIM files; and I'm sure there are other MediaWiki consultants who currently provide support on how to build services which consume Wikimedia APIs.

If I understood the strategy correctly, and if that can be expressed a bit more clearly in the core documents describing this initiative, I think it will be much easier and less painful to make it a success for the broader Wikimedia movement. Nemo 06:24, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

Your first sentence here is extremely gratifying to read. You and I have been here long enough to see project-announcements/community-conversations that are less than ideal, so I am pleased to read your assessment that this communication effort is being done properly.
As for the name - and the communication of the name - yeah... Naming things, especially things that have to be understood by multiple different kinds of audiences (Wikimedia volunteers, big tech companies, tax-regulation offices), is hard! Also, describing it in a way that is legally accurate, but also brief and not-boring, is difficult. As you know, in the wikiverse, we also have this difficulty of describing to the world how WMF/affiliates are charity/non-profit organisations and the website is non-commercial, but that we do non accept non-commercially licensed content, in order to be compliant with the definition of free. Easily confusing to a journalist, a politician, or the general public!
A lot of the names and ways of describing what is now the "Wikimedia Enterprise" (formerly Okapi) project that were discussed had at least one of the problems: a) it looked like it was an 'officially sanctioned paid editing' service, and/or b) it was confusingly similar to something already available in the movement and free (especially anything to do with 'data'), and/or c) sounded like it was a 'fake' Wikipedia and/or d) undermined the legal and cultural importance of the word Foundation.
It is also important to me (and the team) that it is not a name that sounds... fun. It should be prosaic and only interesting to the specific kinds of people who might want to be customers: big businesses. It would be unfortunate if the community felt, because of a name, that they were "missing out" on a new, cool, exciting thing.
With regards to your points:
  1. yes, I will go back and look for where I've used "commercial" in the documentation and replace it with "for-profit" when it is grammatically appropriate. This might require different kinds of changes in the different translated versions depending on how languages separate these concepts in their vocabulary.
Edit: done. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 13:22, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
  1. we have tried to ensure that the description of the 'new' thing doesn't simultaneously disparage the value of the 'existing' thing. The meaning of 'enterprise grade' is a term-of-art in the sense, as you note, that it comes with the SLA. While I acknowledge the semantic risk of unintentionally insulting the existing APIs, I feel that anyone who is actually reading documentation about APIs is already technically competent enough to know what 'enterprise grade' in this context implies.
On the topic of support services - doing some kind of paid consulting with potential/new customers of the API about how they could best integrate the service into their architecture is something that is, potentially, viable in the future. On the other hand and want to make it clear that "Wikimedia Enterprise" is not interested in getting into the area of paid mediawiki hosting, and certainly not anything that could even be remotely perceived as a paid-editing service! We have talked with the MediaWikiStakeholders group (formerly sometimes called the 'enterprise mediawiki' group) too.
-- LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 13:13, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Indeed Nemo. That was my first thought. Why we were fighting against NC (and had problems with GLAM, which often provides free content, but with NC) if now we are not happy that our content is commercialized. But as you indicate it's the wrong question, because the rhetoric of this page and the project is not good. It's hard to find explanation or clear arguments in favour of the project from the texts provided.Juandev (talk) 11:53, 18 April 2021 (UTC)

Edit API?Edit

Will this Enterprise API also provide an edit API so that those big enterprise customers can also contribute data/edits back to Wikipedia projects in bulk? And not necessary new data, but also corrections/improvements to existing data? Data quality in general? I assume that many of interested Enterprise API users check data they get from Wikipedia and have some information about their quality. It would be great if they could have a way to contribute that back. Mitar (talk) 09:22, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

Dear Mitar, the project is a "read" API. Nonetheless, as it states in the FAQ under the question "Will it directly affect Wikimedia content?:
Longer-term, the Wikimedia Enterprise team also hopes to explore methods by which new information (e.g. "microcontributions") can be fed back to Wikimedia projects from the general public who are using products made by the Wikimedia Enterprise customers. This is in accordance with the movement strategy recommendation Improve User Experience which speaks of using APIs for the “...the potential for data returns”. At that time, appropriate community consultation will be made to ensure that such contributions could be sought in response to actual community needs, and in a manner that is compliant with Wikimedia editorial culture, privacy policy, terms of use, etc. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 12:03, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Thank you for the answer. Mitar (talk) 05:40, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

Unrelated Business Income Tax and non-profit statusEdit

This income (proxied through LLC) will probably be unrelated business income from the perspective of IRS because it is not related to the mission of the non-profit? Or is the intend to show it as related? Is there a danger that this income puts non-profit status of the Wikimedia foundation itself into jeopardy? What happens if it becomes a substantial revenue source? Mitar (talk) 09:26, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

Dear Mitar, for the first half of your question I have asked someone from WMF Legal to look at this question specifically, so I can be sure to give as precise as possible an answer.
Edit: @Mitar:, here is the answer! provided by User:Tle (WMF) - the Financial Controller of the WMF. I hope this answers your question:
Wikimedia Enterprise is a novel product offering for the foundation with its own taxability and accounting considerations. As a tax exempt organization, the Wikimedia Foundation is evaluating whether Wikimedia Enterprise is a related or unrelated business activity. The IRS has set forth the following criteria to determine whether an activity is related or unrelated: Business activity that generates revenue for the purpose of making an income; Business activity that is regularly carried out (frequency and continuity); and Substantially/Not substantially related to the tax exempt purpose, even if the income is spent on mission activities. Accordingly, if the activity is deemed unrelated and the unrelated business taxable income is required to be filed on Form 990-T - Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return. The Wikimedia Foundation may be able to exclude some of the income that it earns from the Enterprise API platform from unrelated business taxable income.
Yes, it looks like the only criteria which is under the question (others pass) is if this is income is substantially related to the tax exempt purpose. Givens foundation's mission ("The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. The Foundation operates some of the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, the fourth most visited website in the world. In collaboration with a network of chapters, the Foundation provides the essential infrastructure and an organizational framework for the support and development of multilingual wiki projects and other endeavors which serve this mission.") I am unclear how to answer that. I am glad to read that User:Tle (WMF) believes this might at least partially not count towards unrelated business income. Mitar (talk) 06:11, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
For the second half of the question: No. As you can imagine, ensuring the charity-status of the WMF is not threatened is something that has been very carefully considered! There are some relevant pieces of information to that question in the FAQ under Wikimedia_Enterprise/FAQ#Legal. As for the issue of "what happens" if it becomes a substantial revenue source - there are specific checks and transparency rules we've described in the FAQ in the "financial" section, in particular here. It will not be allowed to supercede or replace the donations model of fundraising, as described here. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 12:14, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
@LWyatt (WMF): does that means it was be capped (in the sense of lowering prices) were it ever to approach 49% of total revenue? As a more relevant concern, have any thoughts been put into the potential (scale of) impact on donations - people thinking "ah good, Big Tech paying for using it, that sounds like a good fiscal solution, now I don't need to debate to secure Wikimedia's running" Nosebagbear (talk) 16:45, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Thank you for your question. I share your desire for keeping small reader donations the primary way that the Wikimedia Foundation is funded. We are in constant communication with our donors and have discussed this with many of them (both donors who give through the annual appeals and major donors). The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Our donors want us to serve more people in more parts of the world and understand that that requires revenue growth. We have a small team, Donor Relations, that answers hundreds of thousands of donor questions\inquires\complaints a year. We have only received one donor complaint regarding Enterprise API. We typically get a lot more when there is news coverage of a stance the foundation is taking or something new we are doing. We are also always running campaigns and A|B testing messages, so if there was a significant negative reaction to this, we would see it relatively quickly. We care about how our donors will react to this, we are proactively talking to them, and we are carefully listening to their response. To the second part of your question, from all of the customer discovery conversations that we have had, we do not believe Wikimedia Enterprise will produce revenue on the same scale as our reader donations, which still continues to grow every year! However, if we are wrong on that, we are in control of how much we invest in growth of Enterprise API vs. growth of reader donations. There are lots of different course corrections we could make (if and when). We are excited to one day have Enterprise be a supplemental revenue stream for the movement’s growth, but we are committed to keeping the majority of financial support coming from reader donations. --Lgruwell-WMF (talk) 17:45, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Hm, FAQ touches other potential issues. Here I am really thinking only about Unrelated Business Income. There is no official limit, but a too high unrelated income can bring issues with IRS and potentially losing the status. This site mentions a rule of thumb of 20%. Mitar (talk) 06:06, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
"We are also always running campaigns and A|B testing messages, so if there was a significant negative reaction to this, we would see it relatively quickly": this is an extremely dangerous attitude to have, see w:en:McNamara fallacy. I urge you to abandon it at once, Lgruwell-WMF. I'm available to suggest more pointers on why, if you're interested, but I'll start by mentioning Hannah Arendt. :-) Nemo 06:12, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

Dear Mitar, just FYI, I refer you to this comment from Lgruwell-WMF further down the page which has relevance to this discussion. In accordance with that comment, I have also updated this project's "Principles" and "FAQ" documents to specify that Unrelated business income from Wikimedia Enterprise and other sources will not exceed 30% of the Wikimedia Foundation's total revenue. Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 17:44, 27 March 2021 (UTC)

Non-general fundingEdit

I had originally considered this humourously, but on more consideration, I think that just adding it to general funding is not wise. I do appreciate that general funding was a logical opening choice for the team to propose.

Funding should go:

  1. To it's operating, and future development - to whatever amount is suitable
  2. Potentially to a LLC-specific reserve fund, not to rise higher than 6 months of operating costs.
    Of the remainder (net profit-reserve build)
  3. 30% is to go to efforts to technological efforts: mobile editing, Core (long underfunded), and efforts to acquire new editors (Growth Team, IP, etc)
  4. 40% is to go to general funding, as anticipated
  5. 30% is to go to Community Tech, either funding a vastly larger tech team, or a spun-off second team allowing tasking to different uses (e.g. one for Wikipedia/Data/Commons, one for other projects etc)

The WMF would need to commit to maintaining their current levels (inc. inflation) of funding for those purposes that come from normal donations, to avoid fund being shifted to general funding by the back door.

Smart assistants and search engines resolve queries for people without taking them to articles. That causes two issues. The Enterprise project looks like a good resolution for the fact that most donors donate from visiting the actual site. HOWEVER. The other issue is that most new editors come from those who visit the actual site - we need to fix that problem to avoid long-term structural goals.

The Community is also nervous about what will feel like many as a step away from our inherent nature. It's not an unreasonable project by any means, but it does come across as...uncomfortable. Beyond that, the Community has also registered concerns about how the WMF uses funds in non-ideal fashions. I think a more targeted funding model would help alleviate concerns. It brings its own issues (not least, feeling somewhat like requesting a bribe as I write up the idea) but I think it moderates the biggest issues and gives a chance for a single project to combat two category 1 issues - those which could, in the long-run, risk the viability of the project (it needs editors and it needs money). That's a goal worth reaching for Nosebagbear (talk) 17:23, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

Dear Nosebagbear - I appreciate the level of detail and thought that you've put into this reply and apologise in advance that, in an attempt to respond to you as soon as possible today I might not be as detailed in reply.
For the way that the revenue generated should be 'split' into different groups/proportions/priorities - there's two things we can state unequivocally: that the service will be self-funding, and that anything beyond that will be used for/by the movement. Options include all of the things you've mentioned and, importantly, the Endowment fund. Beyond that, however, I would not personally be willing or able to comment - because those are strategic decisions about movement funds and should take place at a "higher" level than within a specific project. By comparison/equivalent: The team that organises the fundraising via emails does not, and should not, get to decide how the money they raise is spent. That would be inappropriate. Equally, the team involved this project should not have any specific control over how the money is spent - it is movement funds and should be allocated according to movement priorities. [I was a member of the Resource Allocation working group (as a volunteer), so I care about that issue!]. Legally, where the revenue from this service is allocated is ultimately the responsibility of the board of trustees. More broadly, the whole movement strategy process (including concepts like the Global Council) will perhaps create new modes for deciding on these kinds of resource-allocation questions, but that is beyond the scope of this project and this talkpage.
With regards to your point about voice-assistants, the fact that a not-insignificant portion of Wikimedia's "readers" (listeners?) are not visiting the website to access the information is both good and bad - as you identified. It means we are getting the knowledge to where people need it, but also that fewer see the fundraising banners, and equally, that fewer are able to potentially contribute to the site. We propose a longer-term goal of finding ways to bring people "into" the community in some manner in this section of the FAQ. Diversifying the revenue to ensure sustainability in the face of the potential slow loss of "eyes" on the website is precisely what this project is directly intended to achieve (see "Why Charge?" in the essay).
As to the inherent feeling of 'discomfort' - I completely understand, which is partially why I and others in the team have spent so much time to craft, test, improve, craft, test, improve - all this documentation and the various promises and principles within it! -- LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 20:25, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
@LWyatt (WMF): it's certainly beyond the remit of this team to decide the use of funding it generates. However, that is a question that is relevant to whether this project is viewed as a problematic but ultimately beneficial change, or a harbinger of a change in the WMF's focuses. So it's not just a case of "handle project, then handle funding in next funding review", as we can't step back should the latter come round with a non-desired outcome. It would, I assume, require even your project board (not that I'm sure of the WMF's current project management methodology/structure) bump it further up the chain.
With regard to the principles, is there a full list of considered occasions where "full honesty and transparency" would not be possible. I can think of a couple, but this is an instance where we don't need example cases, we need something closer to a list of likely exemptions before they come into being Nosebagbear (talk) 14:38, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
The question of "how transparent" (and the inverse: "how much privacy") goes as far as what is in our own control: for example the code is open source (tech transparency), the policies about personally identifiable information are part of WMFs existing policies (user privacy). The finances are at least as transparent as the WMF's existing processes because all of this project must be reported as part of the WMF's "form 990" and audited financial documents. What we can't promise is transparency of behalf of others. We only control what we control and it is beyond the scope of this project to force other organisations to publicise their technical, legal, or financial documentation.
As for the oversight structure (especially since the contracts with 'customers' are owned by an LLC) there is a board, all of whom are senior employees of the WMF in their capacity of those executive functions, and therefore responsible to the mission and overseen by the WMF Board of Trustees. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 15:22, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

Relation to IP maskingEdit

Hi, at the same time this is happening, another WMF team proposes to mask IPs: IP Editing: Privacy Enhancement and Abuse Mitigation. As far as I understand it, regular users and readers will not be able to see it but some users with additional rights (functionaries like checkusers, stewards, etc.) might be able to see it. Is this covered by the principle No non-public personally identifiable data. The information provided through the Enterprise API service is the same which is available publicly on Wikimedia projects.? Will Enterprise give access only to masked IP addresses (if this will be enabled)? —DerHexer (Talk) 17:30, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

I would imagine that as with API draw at the moment, all information is drawn as if an IP editor were looking at it Nosebagbear (talk) 17:35, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Dear DerHexer, The simplest answer is to reiterate the principle "No non-public personally identifiable data. The information provided through the Enterprise API service is the same which is available publicly on Wikimedia projects". But, to be explicit about the question of IP addresses: customers of the "Enterprise API" only get the same data that is otherwise publicly available. Enterprise API customers do not get additional, privileged, better, or in any way 'different' access to any kind of data (personal, or content etc) than is available to any normal user on the website (or user of the existing APIs). Rather, the product is built for higher speed and volume of content flow, and service-support for that.
Usernames and IP address can be considered personally-identifying information, yes, but Enterprise API customers get the same personal data as current users of any of the existing APIs would get. With the IP-Masking project specifically: However the existing APIs would change as a result of that project's results - the same would also occur with the Enterprise API. Perhaps that is too general/non-technical an answer for you? If you want more specific details of a specific technical aspect, please advise what in particular, and I can find the relevant expert to give a response here. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 18:21, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
@LWyatt (WMF) Will they get more accurate revision timestamps? Milliseconds instead of currently available seconds. Sunpriat (talk) 01:15, 22 March 2021 (UTC)
Dear Sunpriat - no, anyone accessing this new API well receive the same information as is provided by existing APIs. You can see the current product roadmap here. Perhaps that might be a feature that could be created in the future [I have no idea how feasible it is, or if that's something that they would want particularly, but for the sake of argument let's assume it is both desired and possible]: then that same information will be available to everyone else freely too - as per the no exclusive content principle. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 09:54, 22 March 2021 (UTC)
@LWyatt (WMF) Will it be new separate servers or will it be balanced on the same servers we work through? Sunpriat (talk) 17:04, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
Dear Sunpriat, the Enterprise API is hosted separately (at least for the time being during the setup/discovery phase). As described in the FAQ here, and in greater detail on the documentation page here. — LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 14:41, 4 April 2021 (UTC)
Hey @DerHexer:. I'm the PM for the IP Masking project. I would agree with what LWyatt (WMF) said above. With IP Masking in place, IPs for unregistered editors would be considered personally identifiable information and would not be available for public eyes. They would be treated similarly to how we treat IPs for registered users - only accessible to a limited set of users. I hope that answers your question! -- NKohli (WMF) (talk) 12:27, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
Yes, thank you, that helps. Best, —DerHexer (Talk) 20:20, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

Business case examples of useEdit

I just found out about this project after another user posted a question on the help desk about this Wired article [[1]]. It's paywalled but I'm interested in understanding what some real world examples of business use cases are. Perhaps a "Business cases" section could be added to the content page, with a mixture of real and hypothetical examples of how companies might use Wikipedia Enterprise services? Or maybe at least a few examples in the Wikimedia Enterprise/FAQ#Financial section? Cheers. Timtempleton (talk) 19:55, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

@Timtempleton: I'll raise this with the team. We definitely have lots of thoughts on how and where we can be used, based on real world examples. In the case of a digital assistant or search functionality our content is integrated within a broader ontology linking multiple data sources, frequently referred to as a “knowledge graph”. The knowledge graph can then be leveraged to provide additional context from related topics or concepts by products. Queries from users are interpreted via natural language processing to identify a particular topic or subject matter. The ontology or knowledge graph is polled for information and the response is relayed back to the user. That applies in any search based product. Simpler integrations of Wikimedia content often involve context provided programmatically in map products, used to counter disinformation on social media and integrated with streaming platforms. Seddon (WMF) (talk) 23:17, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
@Seddon (WMF): Interesting. I'm most familiar with the Google Knowledge Graph, particularly since we answer a lot of questions at the Help Desk and Teahouse from people upset that the graph is showing wrong info, such as the wrong person's photo (which is of course a Google issue, not Wikipedia). Did you see this [[2]]? The paper mentions Stanford's DeepDive project. [[3]]. The computer science is beyond my level of understanding, but I wonder if it might have applications for the Wikipedia Enterprise project? Timtempleton (talk) 23:38, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
@Timtempleton: that one is new to me personally, but not sure about the team. The ontology and graph projects I'm most familiar with are yago, dbpedia and babelnet. Seddon (WMF) (talk) 04:16, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

Firewalls and undue influenceEdit

Has any thought been given to some type of firewalls, such that those companies which are paying substantial sums for data access cannot exercise any undue influence (read: any influence) over Wikimedia project content by threatening to stop using the service? Is there a plan in place to ensure that if they try that, they really will be told "Well, that's your choice, and we'll be sorry to see you go", even if they're spending millions per year? Seraphimblade (talk) 22:57, 17 March 2021 (UTC)

@Seraphimblade: Non-profits should in general do what they can to avoid the problem of a single dominating revenue stream. From a governance and fiscal perspective, the best way to counter to that is ensuring a diverse & sustainable resource base and a healthy reserve. Diversification is something that the Wikimedia Foundation has been working to improve over much of the last decade. We used to be reliant on banner fundraising on desktop. Over time we've grown mobile fundraising, established an email program, built a major gifts program, setup an endowment and recently started expanding our planned giving/bequests program. Wikimedia Enterprise is an additional feather in the movement’s cap in that regard. Having and maintaining that diversity in terms of funding offers us protections from the volatility of any given single revenue stream, which also includes Wikimedia Enterprise.
The endowment acts as one way to reduce long term volatility in funding, turning one time or large amounts into a long term sustainable source of funds and it would not surprise me if some component of the money from Wikimedia Enterprise goes towards the endowment. It will happen implicitly anyway as part of the foundation's annual budget even if an explicit component is not tied to Wikimedia Enterprise specifically. The second means of reducing any funding volatility is through having a healthy reserve. I know it's sometimes derided by the certain members of the community, but the Wikimedia Foundation having around 18 months of reserve is what I would consider to be best practice for a non-profit of our size. I would also expect to see our reserve keep pace with any changes in our budget. It should more than permit us to absorb any posturing by a commercial entity that might try to cancel a contract.
As we have noted, having this activity undertaken by a limited liability company means the Wikimedia Foundation is offered better protections from the various liabilities, business activities entail. So even if a company were to take aggressive business practices, this would firewall the Wikimedia Foundation. The endowment moving to its own 501(c)(3) similarly firewalls the movement's future survival and so there are multiple layers of risk mitigation in play covering both the short and long term for the movement.
Fundamentally though I consider the editorial processes on the Wikimedia projects and the independence of communities in that respect to be sacrosanct. Interference by the Wikimedia Foundation whilst really not feasible is also fundamentally undesirable. It would expose the Wikimedia Foundation to huge risk and undermine the section 230 protections. (which on a side note highlights the importance of section 230 to the communities independence and not simply the WMF as a host).
So when you combine diversity, sustainability, and stability in a fiscal policy like the WMF has, it acts to reduce risk across the board and applies to the revenue generated by Wikimedia Enterprise. That existing fiscal approach combined with the need for editorial independence, not just by the community but also the Wikimedia Foundation, means that our ability to say “sorry to see you go” isn’t just going to be a bluff. Hope this helps. Seddon (WMF) (talk) 04:04, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
Thanks. Yes, it is good to know that it has been considered. Seraphimblade (talk) 06:53, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

Please StopEdit

I am forced to testify that most Wikimedia contributors had known about the commercial side of this project only yesterday. Some from the press release, and some from the news at all. It means only one thing. We have completely disrupted communication between the communities and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Maybe that's why I heard a lot of harsh statements from community members about this project yesterday.

Therefore, I propose to explicitly and defiantly stop and hold a broad discussion with the project users. Here on the Meta on separate page.

With noticeable notification of the users of each project and with the opportunity to speak out in their language.

And completely stop the project if no consensus with the community is found.

And I suggest that we always do this. We need to have a preliminary discussion with the communities on every major decision.

At least so that the project users haven't known about it from newspapers. Ideally, we should reach a consensus with project contributors on each principle issue.

Because the Wikimedia Foundation and chapters are just parasites on Wikimedia projects and without those who create wikiprojects, it means nothing. --sasha (krassotkin) 07:36, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

@Krassotkin: I disagree with your assertion that this is a surprise that has come out of nowhere. To quote User:Guillaume (WMF) from the wikimedia-l mailing list, who put it much better than I could:

From the Strategic Direction in 2017 ( ), to the WMF revenue strategy in 2018 ( ), to the working group on Revenue Streams in 2019 ( ), to the final recommendations in 2020 ( ), and now to this, it's certainly been a long journey, but it's great to see this coming to life. Taking this idea and shepherding it towards implementation while respecting the ethos of the movement is not an easy feat, and the team really seems to take this to heart, which is a good sign.

This project has been in progress for a few years, with multiple opportunities to comment along the way. In fact, you could talk with your community and add your comments, questions, and concerns now. The staff working on this seem highly responsive to feedback and questions. Given the previous and ongoing consultation here, asking them to stop the project does not make sense to me. --Deskana (talk) 13:43, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

  • Most community members are not active on meta, and to be honest I don't remember any notification in previous years on my home wiki about this project at all. I also heard of this from the news. and kinda taken aback, this sounds like WMF essentially sells the data volunteers worked on for free. Xia (talk) 14:56, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
  • You know, a typical pattern for 99% of wiki contributors is writing and improving articles (uploading images and the like). The vast majority of Wikimedia users do not participate in discussions on the very small community that has developed around the Wikimedia Foundation and enjoying its benefits. Moreover most Wikimedia users don't speak English and cannot participate in these discussions at all. In fact there are essentially two disjoint Wikimedia movements. The first ones to create wiki projects and make money (through donations). And the second, who spend this money on some strange projects. That's why the communities don't know about Foundation's initiatives and reject them. We must put an end to this. Every Wikimedia project contributor must participate in decision making. Nothing should be accepted without prior and explicit approval from those who create the wikis. We have to start right now. --sasha (krassotkin) 15:03, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
Dear krassotkin, I appreciate that you have taken the time to come to this page on Meta to express your concern about this project. We can, of course, also continue the discussion on the Russian WP village pump or back on social media. Nonetheless, it is useful that you have shared your position in this central place as others (like user:Xia just above) may share that opinion). As I understand it, there are two, overlapping concerns here:
- About this project specifically (concern about the assumptions behind it, the design/implementation, the value to the movement, the potential for it to undermine our values...),
- Regarding the sense of being forgotten, or left-out, of decision making processes.
Is that a fair (but simplified) summary?
Just for sheer practicality - it is impossible for every person to be personally consulted about every topic. In fact, there is often the reverse criticism: that the Wikimedia Foundation is sending too many surveys and "come and discuss xyz..." messages. Just because of human nature - some people will want to be more informed, sooner, and some people will want to be left-alone, and that will change depending on the topic. For this project specifically: The public pages for this project (on Meta, MediaWiki, Phabricator) were started in mid-2020 with what was - naturally - relatively little detail since there wasn’t anything “built” yet. But nonetheless there were threads on mailing lists, phabricator tickets etc. at the time too. Now, at this stage of development, there is actually something to “show’ (both in terms of policy and technology) that is concrete enough for people to give useful, actionable, feedback and commentary upon. Much earlier and it’s all hypothetical, much later and it’s already ‘done’: and in both of those cases it would be rightfully very frustrating to be asked ‘what is your feedback?’ of an either non-existent, or an already-finished, project. We have tried to get the ‘Goldilocks’ moment in the middle of those two extremes: But it’s never going to be the right moment for everyone simultaneously.
However, here is one, practical thing I can offer you:
I promise that the documentation pages for "Wikimedia Enterprise" (the Essay, FAQ, Principles, and Main page) will all be translated and published in Russian, next week.
The information was all published on Tuesday in English, French, German, Spanish, and some Italian. I will come to the ru.wp Village Pump (and also the Wikinews article you linked to) to directly inform the community there, when it is published.
I realise that this does not solve your frustration about hearing about this project later than you want. But it is the only thing I can do now to help increase the sense that you, and Russian Wikimedia community's feedback, is being sought. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 16:40, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
You use the perfectly right word when you write : "the information was published" : Top-down only, unfortunately. --Croquemort Nestor (talk) 17:11, 18 March 2021 (UTC) PS : sorry I don't go so often to Meta or Phabricator (!)
Through the latter half of 2020 the team had 1:1 community interviews and roundtable discussions with a variety of people across the movement. The input, feedback and questions we received as part of that and from ongoing feedback were hugely valuable to the team and the project. Those conversations have already heavily influenced our work and it will continue to do so. If someone wants to speak to the team we’ll jump at the chance. We are attending the SWAN meeting this weekend, running two office hours tomorrow and will hosting the next Wikimedia Clinic. We’ve also engaged in as many community spaces as possible both on wiki and across the numerous communication platforms the community uses. We are still very much at the beginning of this project. Seddon (WMF) (talk) 17:17, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Liam: I am grateful to you for your openness and desire to explain the project to the widest possible range of wiki projects contributors. But I'm writing about the need for a broad discussion not for myself. You need this discussion. Only then will you see how much the creators of wiki projects do not accept the idea of turning Wikipedia into a business project. We will not be able to attract new members. We will not be able to convince contractors to transfer their materials under a free license. And so on. Only because in the eyes of society Wikipedia will cease to be a charitable project, but will turn into a business. Whatever you write in the explanations the words business, commerce, sales, and so on are toxic to us. That is why we have to bring up only one question for discussion. Are you ready to turn Wikipedia into a commercial enterprise? And I know the answer. Just ask our communities. That's why we must come up with another scheme for the implementation of this project. --sasha (krassotkin) 17:19, 18 March 2021 (UTC)
  • @Krassotkin: I don’t see how providing an enterprise-grade API, which provides the exact same data as the existing APIs, turns Wikipedia into a commercial enterprise. Large businesses have different operational requirements from more casual API consumers; higher query throughput, higher uptime, optimised response format, customer support with guaranteed response times, to name a few of off the top of my head. Nothing about those things contradict the Wikimedia movement mission or its commitment to openness and transparency. Securing a revenue stream from this to continue funding the movement, whilst keeping the core API free, open, and accessible, seems entirely consistent with the movement’s mission to me. Deskana (talk) 10:37, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

@Seddon (WMF): what is not understood by WMF (or you, not sure) is that simply posting things on meta and then saying, well it was on meta for a long time is a very poor excuse You are well aware that most active users don't even know what Meta is. Let alone Phabricator. Especially in Wikis where a lot of users don't speak English or have poor understanding of English. Not consulting the wiki communities and simply expecting them to browse Meta for new project announcements, like, every month is really.... disappointing. This feels like WMF wants to do something, does it anyway, and if people complain they were not consulted, their complaints are dismissed by simply point them to discussions on meta. Yes, you should send invitations to such discussions to every village pump, and if people are not interested, they won't come, but at least will know there is something going on. And yes, WMF sends messages for all the unimportant minute technical changes of the software nobody reads or cares about, but it seems like that they don't send such messages about important stuff like this. Feels like you are being selective a little, no? If I may sound sarcastic that is because this is really truly disappointing. Such a large scale thing, that fundamentally changes Wikimedia as a whole, and most Wikimedians get to know it from the news. Simply because they are not frequent meta users. Thumbs up! Xia (talk) 17:37, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

@Seddon (WMF): I am not active wiki-user of couple of years, but I was one in the past. This is just outrages! Such thing should be at least discussed at Wikimania. It is not enough to publish them on Meta. And what is Phabricator? I will go to check... My personal opinion that is should be holded immediately until at least next Wikimania. In the past you have bot that goes over user pages and for every 'active' user (at least 10 login in the past month, for example) posted some message such as "It is Russian week coming! You can participate..." and link to the page. Or "Do you mind to make article patrol?" Something along these lines can be done across whole languages. It is ok to provide link to meta and has discussion their. But you must have such discussion first. Alexsmail (talk) 18:22, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

Wikimania is actually pretty poor as a discussion forum and I wish the WMF would use it less, as it biases discussion towards senior members of affiliates, those with income, and those with the inclination towards spending large periods of time at something like Wikimania. Certainly I'd feel using it as a some "any major discussion must include 1 Wikimania in its timeline" as a very poor idea. I do think that the various WMF teams need to get together and put together a 250 word monthly report, with links, that as well as being on meta, is translated broadly and dropped to at least the 15 biggest wikipedias primary community forum. That's not the Enterprise team's fault for non-implementation (it has been requested repeatedly since at least as far back as the strategy "consultations", and that's just what I got into meta - could well be before), but the Community Engagement folks could save themselves long-term aggro if they handled it. If they got a couple of volunteers who could translate from those communities it shouldn't cost anything but about 3 hours of WMF time a month and maybe another 3 in Community time. Nosebagbear (talk) 00:58, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
In the past I have been on my wiki-meating and one Wikimania event. While on wiki-meating we generally discussed some of our local issues, it was great to meet in person people that you're cooperative with and sometimes it was great place to settle down the conflicts that has been occured. It was also a good place to educate some less experience users. But it was bad place to even talk about some globall wiki-related issues. But Wikimania is other thing. The number of things that I've learned their was enormous. And I do remember announcement of couple of initiative to be discussed that was done their. After Wikimania ended I do remember the spark of discussion on many Wikipedia's. Wikimania is indeed bad place to make a decision, because of the biased population, but I think this is good place to make announcement of such big initiatives. I want to clarify one more point: may be eventually this is good decision, but it can not be done without proper discussion. Alexsmail (talk) 13:45, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

Hello, I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read the update and share your thoughts. That is just what the announcement this week was meant to do–provide details to enable informed discussion about this topic, while the project is still young. I would like to add that I agree posting information on Meta alone will not reach all community members or bring a deep enough discussion. I also don't think discussing new initiatives at in-person events is enough either.

I can share a little extra background context, which led to the announcements you read this week: I was a member of the Revenue Streams movement strategy working group. In 2019, there were a few in-person meetings where creating a new revenue stream for the Movement with a new API, without changing the existing APIs, was discussed. At the March Wikimedia Summit 2019, “monetizing an API” was discussed within the working group, as well as with members from other groups. At Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm, the revenue working group presented an update on the recommendations, including the so-called “paid API”. I participated in a large group discussion as well as many smaller discussions throughout the event. In the second half of 2020, once the team for this project was assembled, they had conversations with ~70 Wikimedians from across the moment to design the operating principles that are now available for comment. There are several “office hours” this week (listed at the top of the Wikimedia Enterprise page), and the team welcomes any specific requests to meet. If there is a critical space where you think we are missing out, please let us know or invite us to participate. MeganHernandez (WMF) (talk) 13:35, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

Well, this not what is written in the press. For example, I have see the news here [4]. It is said that decision was made. And I have read in Wikinews that no discussion was done in the community. So, at least, you have miscommunication problem here. Alexsmail (talk) 13:52, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
  • "Because the Wikimedia Foundation and chapters are just parasites on Wikimedia projects and without those who create wikiprojects, it means nothing. --sasha (krassotkin) 07:36, 18 March 2021 (UTC)"

User krassotkin is absolutely right. Fuck Foundation! Jimbo, you are king or moron? Act now!--1Goldberg2 (talk) 17:48, 20 March 2021 (UTC)

I mean Jimbo is neither (god-)king or moron, he's a Board member and can't just act on his own. Your comment, however, is debating whether it wants to "just" be uncivil or a personal attack. I have major issues with chapters and affiliates having any authority of governance, but the WMF being no more than a pure parasite? I mean I can't fundraise millions of dollars, maintain databases, or handle legal suits. Comments like this make conventional WMF-sceptics have to waste valuable words reminding people that insulting someone never convinces them and the rules on behaviour apply even when you're criticising paid employees, rather than actually focusing attention on genuine problems! Nosebagbear (talk)
Just to note, User:Jimbo Wales has already been participating on this page's discussions - down in the subsection #This will effect donations negatively and has also been answering some comments on his EN.WP userpage - if people wish to read those comments.
Thank you Nosebagbear - yes, there's a difference between healthy criticism and being, as you state, just being uncivil or personal attack.
As this "please stop" subheading has three participants from the Russian community expressing strong frustrations with the project (krassotkin, Alexsmail, 1Goldberg2) I wish to reiterate what I stated earlier - the text in bold in this section; and also what I stated on the Russian Wikipedia village pump - that I have arranged for all the documentation pages for "Wikimedia Enterprise" (the Essay, FAQ, Principles, and Main page) to all be translated and published into Russian this coming week; and that when they are, I will inform the RU.WP village pump. My hope is that with the documentation available in a more accessible format for this section of the community which has strong opinions on it - some of the bigger concerns can be addressed more directly, and actionable feedback for how the team can improve the project can be made. Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 04:34, 21 March 2021 (UTC)

Dear @Krassotkin, Alexsmail, and 1Goldberg2: As promised in this previous comment, the Russian documentation has now been published here on Meta for all the Wikimedia Enterprise pages - including the FAQ etc. I have noted this on the Russian village pump at ru:Википедия:Форум/Новости#Wikimedia_Enterprise. That message states:

Спасибо за ваше терпение. Как я и обещал на прошлой неделе, вся документация о проекте «Enterprise API» была опубликоавана по-русски на сайте Мета. В том числе:
- Эссе, описывающее «Что?» и «Как?»
- Всеобъемлющий список Часто задаваемых вопросов, с секциями по темам финансов, юридических вопросов и сообщества.
- Список Принципов, определяющих правила и стандарты, которые проект будте соблюдать.
Я понимаю и признаю, что многие из вас существенно озабочены насчёт того, что этот проект пытается достигнуть, и как он пытается достигнуть это. И я надеюсь, что эта документация ответит на ваши вопросы, и что у вас предложения для дальнейших конкретных улучшений. Этот проект сейчас на «среднем» этапе: он достаточно развит для обсуждения конкретных тем, но не настолько, что его ещё нельзя поменять.
Я надеюсь услышать от вас вопросы и предложения. Лучше всего на странице обсуждения на сайте Мета, чтобы это могли увидеть люди из всех языковых разделов (вы можете задавать вопросы по-русски, если хотите).
Я благодарю Амира за перевод этого сообщения, и заранее прошу принять извинения за то, что я смогу писать ответы только по-английски.

Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 17:02, 29 March 2021 (UTC)

Telling us sooner...Edit

Look, I really like the WMF. There are a lot of people I respect and admire that work for them, and they do a lot of work that goes unnoticed most of the time. I also like this idea even if I do have some concerns about the OpenStreetMap case study.. or if this API could indirectly contribute to machines of war and state.

I just want to know why we couldn't have talked to sooner about this. English Wikipedia made you all a forum for you to discuss things with us, yet it seems community members use it more than community liaisons. I'm not trying to blame LWyatt (WMF) for not posting there, but shouldn't that be a part of the job training for a community liaison?

I must be missing something here for why I always feel so out-of-the-loop. I know I am some nameless loser who edits Wikipedia as a hobby and all, but I still thought I was part of a global community where I have an actual voice in how things operate. Now I just don't know if it even matters what I say.. :( –MJLTalk 21:21, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

LWyatt (WMF) gave a really detailed in the office hours. I'll link to it when it gets posted on Wikimedia Commons. –MJLTalk 22:26, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Dear User:MJL- here is the recording from that call, clicking on this thumbnail of recording will start at 9:36, which is where I answered that question:
Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 14:18, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

Letting the wolves in at the doorEdit

It's one of the oldest dictums out there - money is power. If you control the purse strings, you can control everything else. Or, to put it another way, a budget document is a values document. I believe that the WMF is creating this in good faith. After all, why pass up the potential for a lot of money from some of the world's richest companies if all it's doing is affecting the data flowing out of Wikipedia, and won't impact what content is added or deleted?

That might be true today. But the WMF is putting itself in a dangerous position. If the revenue stream is as successful as the WMF hopes, at some point, it will make up a substantial portion of the WMF's budget. And then the big companies will be in a position to lean on the WMF for changes, in big ways and small, obvious and subtle. Wikipedia is an idealistic place. It will be destroyed by the rapacious maw of capital if it is not carefully managed. The WMF and the community have kept the wolves at bay for years. But this lets them in at last. One step at a time, $$$ will change what Wikipedia is. This idea is a mistake, and a dangerous one to this project. Ganesha811 (talk) 21:26, 19 March 2021 (UTC)

@Ganesha811: you might find my above answer to Seraphimblade addresses much of your point. Seddon (WMF) (talk) 21:38, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing me to this responnse, Seddon (WMF). I think it's a reasonable argument - for now. Assuming good faith is key here, and I really do believe that the current WMF is approaching this cautiously. But will it always? It's a very rare organization indeed whose culture improves over time. The WMF is made up of people - but what happens if the type of people at WMF change? A good organization is not only committed in the present to doing the right thing, but is actively future-proofing itself against internal mission rot. Wikipedia has never sold anything before (other than some t-shirts). In doing so, it crosses a fundamental line. Slippery slope arguments are often overused, but this is one case where they apply. Future versions of the WMF may not be as careful on these dangerous, slippery cliffs as the current one appears to be. Ganesha811 (talk) 21:49, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
@Ganesha811: just an extra note. One of things we mention in the FAQ is that actually we have done something very much like this before. Paid data services were offered since shortly after the WMF's inception, providing feeds to enable third-parties to host their own local databases. The creation of this service was what led to the initial hire of Brion Vibber who was the very first employee, and was used to help bootstrap the Wikimedia Foundation in the early years. The service was closed to new customers in 2010 and the service was finally decommissioned in 2014 mainly due to lack of maintenance. Seddon (WMF) (talk) 22:07, 19 March 2021 (UTC)
  • This is a funding issue, so the project team can't really answer it which is why I keep asking them to grab someone from further up the tree, but the only way to ultimately prevent a slippery slope case is to cap the max influence they can ever have on the project. The principles, by using the word "supercede", should cap the funding % that can come via this channel at 49% of total revenue. However that is way too high. I would say that the WMF should commit to capping the total revenue that can come in through any paid channel at, say, 20-25%. When it runs over, then prices are lowered. While this would obviously reduce the max scale of available funding, it prevents any pressure ever being exerted. I would not expect to see that pressure come in the form of demands for content changes and so on. I would expect to see it in the form of pressure for development or focus in areas outside the purest definition of this LLC's scope. Nosebagbear (talk) 01:19, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
Just as a point of history, it is not true that WMF has never sold anything before. A very long time ago (I'm old!) we did a deal with to provide them with an API/feed for a fixed monthly price. It wasn't a super successful project and nothing particularly good or bad came of it.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:18, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
Fair enough, Jimbo Wales, that's a piece of history I didn't know about. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on future-proofing the WMF against internal cultural change to make sure that this revenue stream never results in problems. I know you don't run the organization, but obviously you have a great deal of insight and influence and sit on the Board which oversees it. Ganesha811 (talk) 13:16, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
Just to provide some information on the point raised about limits on this type of revenue by @Nosebagbear: There are a couple of relevant legal requirements for public charities in the U.S. First, as a public charity, the Wikimedia Foundation must meet what is called “the public support test.” There are two ways to do this, but the least subjective is to have a minimum of one-third of our revenue come from donations from the general public. This has always been a very easy bar for us to clear with our reader donation model. Conversely, there are limits on how much “unrelated business income” a public charity can receive. This is a fairly tedious area of U.S. tax law which is discussed above.--Lgruwell-WMF (talk) 17:35, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
@Lgruwell-WMF: while that is helpful (yes, very tedious read), I think you'd definitely agree that only 1/3 donor is clearly way too low a level to be secure. My point was that the 49% business-funded in the principals is also far too high. I think the discussion of US tax law is a little irrelevant to this discussion (assuming we're meeting it) - I have no doubt that Enterprise/WMF can meet the legal standards. My point is that just doing so is nowhere near sufficient and imposes an unacceptable financial security and external pressure risk.
We can't wait for funding to come in to decide a lower cap, because by that point "when money talks, reasoning walks" starts kicking in - these decisions can only be safely made before that point. As the principals already indicate 1 cap, clearly decisions like this can be made at this stage and need not wait until the annual Board approval of the accounts. Nosebagbear (talk) 13:40, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
@Nosebagbear:You are right, I definitely think only 1/3 of funding coming from reader donations would be way too low. My intent with sharing that piece of knowledge re: U.S. public charity requirements was just to inform the discussion, not to suggest that is where we should go. I am open to addressing the concern you have raised. Let me circle up with my colleagues this week and I will get back to you. Thanks for raising this! --Lgruwell-WMF (talk) 16:07, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
@Nosebagbear:Just wanted to let you know we haven't forgotten about this. We are in the process of double-checking our answer with our auditor, KPMG. Thanks for your patience. --Lgruwell-WMF (talk) 00:32, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for letting me know - I'd planned on giving a week before checking up, and sounds like a wise check to make. Nosebagbear (talk) 13:17, 26 March 2021 (UTC)

@Nosebagbear:: I have an answer to share from Tony Le, WMF's Financial Controller: "Even though the IRS does not provide a fixed percentage limitation on the unrelated business activities and based on certain fact patterns of past IRS rulings and memorandums, WMF is taking a proactive approach to establish a reasonable threshold of 30% of total revenue. We will monitor and analyze the activities to ensure that unrelated business income does not exceed 30%. Per the IRS, the nonprofit exempt status is not jeopardized merely because it conducts an unrelated business as part of its total activities. The key areas to consider are the reason why the business is carried on and the organization's primary purpose. A purpose to raise funds to support the organization's exempt functions is a legitimate reason for an organization to conduct a business, although it would have to pay tax on any unrelated business taxable income. As long as the conduct of such business is not the organization's primary purpose, as determined by the facts and circumstances, the organization may conduct such business consistent with section 501(c)(3)." --Lgruwell-WMF (talk) 16:00, 27 March 2021 (UTC)

@Lgruwell-WMF: that sounds like a significant positive, and thanks for getting back to me. Nosebagbear (talk) 16:45, 27 March 2021 (UTC)

Amazon Web ServicesEdit

I haven't seen anyone bring this up. You're using Amazon Web Services here? Not merely service as a software substitute, but run by Amazon itself. First you use Zoom for communication, and now this.

So here is my question: Do you stand with the free software movement and the free software concept that Wikipedia was built on any more, or are you leaving it behind because you consider it to be more profitable to forget about ethics?

You would be wise to heed the following:

A productive and ethical business can make money, but if it subordinates all else to profit, it is not likely to remain ethical.

— Richard Stallman

That's all I really have to say...

DesertPipeline (talk) 03:40, 20 March 2021 (UTC)

Dear DesertPipeline,
I should start by emphasising that all code that this team produces is, naturally, FLOSS. We have overtly stated that doing so is one of the core operating principles of the project. Currently, it is mirrored Git here.
With regards to the use of AWS as a hosting platform for the time being, I hope you will find documentation provided on the project's page useful – in the section titled #Application hosting. It states:

The engineering goal of this project is to rapidly prototype and build solutions that could scale to the needs of the Enterprise API's intended customers – high volume, high speed, commercial reusers. To do this, the product has been optimized for quick iteration, infrastructural separation from critical Wikimedia projects, and to utilize downstream Service Level Agreements (SLAs). To achieve these goals in the short term, we have built the Enterprise API upon a third-party cloud provider (specifically Amazon Web Services [AWS]). While there are many advantages of using external cloud for our use case, we acknowledge there are also fundamental tensions – given the culture and principles of how applications are built at the Foundation.

Consequently, the goal with the Enterprise API is to create an application that is "cloud-agnostic" and can be spun up on any provider's platform. We have taken reasonable steps to architect abstraction layers within our application to remove any overt dependencies on our current host, Amazon Web Services. This was also a pragmatic decision, due to the unclear nature of where this project will live long-term...

...We have intentionally kept our technical stack as general, open source, and lightweight as possible. There is a temptation to use a number of proprietary services that may provide easy solutions to hard problems (including EMR, DynamoDB, etc). However, we have restricted our reliance on Amazon services to what we can be found in most other cloud providers...

...We are looking to provide Service Level Agreements (SLA) to customers similar to those guaranteed by Amazon's EC2. We don't have equivalent uptime information from the Wikimedia Foundation's existing infrastructure. However, this is something we are exploring with mw:Wikimedia Site Reliability Engineering. Any alternative hosting in the future would require equivalent services or time to allow us to add more staff to our team in order to give us confidence to handle the SLA we are promising. In the meantime, we are researching alternatives to AWS (and remain open to ideas that might fit our use case) when this project is more established and we are confident in knowing what the infrastructure needs are in reality.

[In between the "..." in those quotes are lists of the specific pieces of technology used.]
With regards to Zoom: As I noted in both the my message on Wikitech-l announcing the two 'office hours' calls that were held yesterday; and the conversation on the WikimediaGeneral telegram channel about the video recordings of those calls being prepared for upload to WikimediaCommons - Other “office hours” meetings can be arranged on-request on a technical platform of your choosing. The team will come to wherever there are people interested to talk to us. For example, we'll be at the SWAN calls tomorrow. The community that organises those calls chose to host them on Google Meet. The reason I selected to Zoom as the platform those first two calls - which I had to select before knowing how much general interest there would be in attendance at them - is directly informed by the Lessons learned # Tools report from the Movement Strategy process.
Finally, with regards to our movement's interaction of money: at the very beginning of the positioning Essay I wrote for this project, I spend some time discussing the difference between 'gratis' and 'libre' in the concept of free as it applies to our movement's explicit choice to not have a non-commercial licensing restruction. It is also in reference to a quote from Ricard Stallman.
I hope this response goes some way towards addressing your concerns.
Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 10:37, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
User:LWyatt (WMF): I can't say I'm a good communicator, so I apologise for that message's abruptness, and this one's. I'm not exactly sure what to say with regard to your response, but I note that you say "FLOSS" and a quoted sentence contains a mention of merely "open source". May I ask why the Wikimedia Foundation is not committed to calling libre software what it is, rather than using terms like those? We must remember that freedom is the most important aspect, which is why it should be emphasised in the name. Regardless of whether or not the software is libre, though, I just wonder why Amazon Web Services has been chosen. I'm sure this is a purely practical decision, so would you consider thinking about the ethics here? All of us have an obligation to be ethical, especially to offset the damage that those who refuse to be ethical do. We must always think about the long-term consequences of our actions, a lesson which still has not been learned in the wider world, making it even more important. Regards, DesertPipeline (talk) 10:48, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
I am quite happy to change the teminology being used on the documentation if you think it is worthy of doing so. To clarify: are you suggesting that it would like me to change, on the MediaWiki page, the sentence "We have intentionally kept our technical stack as general, open source, and lightweight as possible." to say "We have intentionally kept our technical stack as general, libre and open source, and lightweight as possible."?
Yes the resaon that the service is currently being build and hosted on AWS is purely practical and pragmatic, and is being designed to be able to be moved as easily as possible. At the very end of that section of documentation on MediaWiki it states:

In the meantime, we are researching alternatives to AWS (and remain open to ideas that might fit our use case) when this project is more established and we are confident in knowing what the infrastructure needs are in reality.

So, if you have practical ideas for what we should do instead once the infrastructure needs are known, I recommend you share them on the talkpage on MediaWiki.
With regards to the question of ethics: One of the ethical considerations in using third-party hosting for this third-party-specific project, is the ethics of using donor's money wisely. If we were to build this infrastructure in-house from the start, it would require radically re-architecting the WMF systems in order to be able to serve the contractual obligations of Service Level Agreements with big tech companies. That is expensive in terms of time, hardware resources, staff, and computing power - which all equals expensive in terms of money. That would, in effect, mean subsidising the engineering requirements of the world's largest companies, with donor money. An unethical position in my opinion. Rather, by setting this service up on an independent platform, the existing resources (staff, infrastructure) of the WMF is undisturbed - and can continue serving the needs of editors and readers. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 11:26, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
User:LWyatt (WMF): I appreciate your responsiveness. Also, do you consider it necessary to use the term "open source"? I think it would be better if it were just described as either "libre" or "free (libre)" – including the wikilink in either case as in my example here so that anyone not aware of the meaning can find out. Regards, DesertPipeline (talk) 12:23, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
Debates about linguistic preferences in the terminology is exactly why cumbersome acronyms like "F/LOSS" exist - in order to ensure the concept is all-inclusive. I wouldn't be surprised if we added the word free, and removed the word open, that someone else would be concerned for the equal-and-opposite reason. Suffice to say, whatever terminology the documentation uses for software we build - its intended meaning is as inclusive of the meanings of free-libre (and gratis) and open as is practicable, and for anything we build upon of others which is not wholly both free and open, then it will be as agnostic as possible - as per the blockquote above. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 12:40, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
User:LWyatt (WMF): I consider the distinction important, because "free" is a lot more desirable than merely "open". It's true that libre software is technically also "open source" software, but the two terms are very different – where libre software is about pointing out the actual issues that need to be solved (a lack of freedom in computing), "open source" is merely about the practical benefits. This is why I think it's better to not use the term "open source" at all; it's redundant, anyway, because that which is free as in freedom must necessarily be "open" – either using the definition most would think ("you can view the code") or the one it is supposed to mean ("you have access to the code"). Because of these reasons, I consider there to be no reason to use it, even if "free (libre)" is written along with it (especially because that can still cause confusion and make people think of gratis rather than libre). Perhaps some will complain if you don't use that term, but if it is explained to them that the Wikimedia Foundation is committed to freedom, and has no desire to undermine that concept with terms that distract from that goal in favour of mere practical considerations, they will hopefully realise the error of their ways. I suppose that's quite an idealistic outlook, but I hope you see where I'm coming from. Regards, DesertPipeline (talk) 12:52, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
I've made this edit, which as you say might be redundant legally-speaking, but for the avoidance of anyone's doubt. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 13:35, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
User:LWyatt (WMF): As I said before, I'd prefer if the term "open source" was not used for the reasons previously outlined. Is the term necessary here in your opinion? DesertPipeline (talk) 13:48, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
DesertPipeline, Yes I believe it is necessary for two reasons: because "open source" is a commonly used term, so if someone goes looking (e.g. by text searching on the page) I want them to find it; and because if I were to replace the words open source with the word libre, it would be too easy for some people to misinterpret it as my having actively removed the words "open source" which would seem controversial. So, keeping them both is probably best described as a kind of legal doublet or professional pleonasm - the purpose of which is to serve as a redundancy check. If there's anywhere else in the texts that could benefit from this redundancy check, please advise. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 14:06, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
DesertPipeline The terms "Free" and "Open Source" have a very practical, non-ideological distinction: What kind of license is used for the software. In general, if you use a copyleft license, usually a flavor of GPL, and use it correctly, your software may be called "Free" or "Libre". Software that is so licensed *should* be labeled as Free/Libre, because that fact is important in informing people who understand what that means how it may be used. However, there are a lot of people out there who are not really sensitive to the distinction, so I think it's OK to say "Open Source" because it is after all true, and meaningful to quite a lot of people. TimBray (talk) 01:14, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
User:TimBray: Non-copyleft libre licences are still libre licences, though. Of course, if it's not copyleft, there's no guarantee that it'll remain free as in freedom, but still. DesertPipeline (talk) 03:28, 12 April 2021 (UTC)

I think there's a bunch of very legitimate concerns around using AWS for this project. Amazon has a lot of very questionable practices in how it treats its employees, and the Foundation is indirectly supporting Amazon by using AWS. Arguably other major cloud providers (Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, etc.) also have their ethical downsides. And, although generally public cloud solutions such as AWS are actually excellent from a security and privacy standpoint, we really do want to avoid using non-Wikimedia infrastructure so that we have full control over those factors ourselves. The best thing to do, really, is to use Wikimedia infrastructure. In the short term however, I don't think it's quite that clear cut. I was going to write a long list of reasons why, but User:LWyatt (WMF) covered them already; cost efficiency, speed of prototyping, organisational overhead and project management etc. The biggest reason, to me, why using a public cloud system to prototype makes sense is to do with scalability. It's not clear right now how much this enterprise API will be used; we know there's interest in it from consumers, but will that interest actually materialise into use? Without knowing how much it'll be used, it's difficult to know how much and what kind of hardware to provision, which could either slow the project down or needlessly increase the cost. Additionally, there's only so much you can do to estimate the performance of a system without actually starting to prototype it, so that adds yet another variable to the uncertainty of what kind of hardware to provision. There's the potential to waste a lot of money on unnecessary hardware, and time (and therefore more money) on sizing, provisioning, racking, etc. all that hardware. Or, insufficient hardware could be procured, which then results in a scramble to find ways to deal with that problem, wasting more time and money. Public cloud solutions handle scaling out of the box, and they can actually be surprisingly cost effective in cases where you don't know in advance what kind of scale you'll need to operate at. Therefore I'm not concerned about prototyping this in AWS, but in the long run I'd want to see it migrate over to Wikimedia infrastructure, once the prototyping has given a clearer picture of what the infrastructure requirements would be, so that a plan can be made on how Wikimedia infrastructure can be modified and improved to support it. --Deskana (talk) 15:35, 20 March 2021 (UTC)

Thank you Deskana, well put. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 15:48, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
Agreed w/ Deskana. However I would feel much better with an explicit mention and comparison of OpenStack options, along with an appendix listing the sorts of improvements to WM cloud services that would allow us to offer SLAs built on our own services. This has a dozen benefits to the movement, not least that we should be able to make performance commitments within our communities! –SJ talk  02:22, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
+1 to Sj's point here; let's document the delta between AWS and our existing infrastructure, so that we can get a headstart on the plan to address it further down the line. --Deskana (talk) 10:44, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
User:Deskana: I agree that the other options are bad too. Unfortunately, because I'm not very good at expressing my opinion, my first post was woefully inadequate at trying to explain what the issue is. Service as a software substitute is, in general, something to be wary of, and "other people's computers" services – a term that, while clunky, at least isn't... "cloudy" :) – are always going to be a problem. I might as well link this, considering it'll explain things much better than I can:
By the way, Deskana, I can't blame you for using the word, since it's so widespread, and it's how corporate interests want you to think (and is a problem that needs solving on the English Wikipedia, along with some other terms and words), but in future I'd recommend against using the word "consumer". Not only is it just an unpleasant word, something which reduces individuals down to a single act (purchasing), but it's inaccurate as well, and promotes bad thinking. We obviously can't "consume" anything except food – and in the computing world especially, the implication that things are being "used up" by their use, when digital information is infinitely shareable and manipulatable, is one that leads to damaging attitudes when it comes to these things. Some replacement words are "individual", "person", "the public", "people"; if purchasing is important, "purchaser" or "customer". There are probably other words too. Sorry for the "lecture", but when I see that word it's like something being waved at a bull :) And notice I didn't say "something red" there – I know that's just a false myth ;) Regards, DesertPipeline (talk) 02:52, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
@DesertPipeline: I don't think that article you linked is especially relevant to the situation here. Firstly, I basically consider Richard Stallman to be an ideological extremist; he has a valuable place in the free software ecosystem in pushing people towards using free software, but he sees things in black-and-white rather than the shades of grey that often end up being the way things work in reality. Sometimes, practical concerns mean you choose something different than you would if you only considered ideology. That's not a popular thing to say in this movement, but it's my view that it's true, and the above comment I wrote about scalability is an example of where practical concerns change the best solution. Secondly, I don't think the article covers the enterprise API from our standpoint as the developers of it. To quote the article

In SaaSS, someone else decides what software runs on the server and therefore controls the computing it does for you. In the case where you install the software on the server, you control what computing it does for you.

We're the ones writing the software, we're the ones installing it on the server, and we're the ones that control what it does. We can deploy it to different servers later. We're developing it in as much of a platform agnostic way as we can to minimise vendor lock-in. That doesn't mean his definition of software as a service (or, SaaSS, as he calls it; see my earlier point about ideological extremism). So, I'm wondering, what is it about the article that you think applies to our situation as the developers of this API? (That sounds sarcastic, but I mean it as a genuine question. I'm trying to understand your viewpoint.) --Deskana (talk) 10:42, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
User:Deskana: I suppose we have very different opinions, because what you consider "idealogical extremism" is in my view the necessary way forward. I don't believe that there is any case where ethics should come before anything else. I realise that might seem idealistic in the world as it is right now.
Regarding your other points, I think I linked the wrong essay. I was looking for the one on "other people's computers". (i.e. so-called "clouds"). I'm not sure if it actually exists... maybe it was in some other essay. DesertPipeline (talk) 10:56, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
@DesertPipeline: Fair enough. I think it's an understandable opinion, and it's valuable to have that perspective in the mix here, even though I personally don't agree with it. Thanks for explaining. --Deskana (talk) 11:34, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
User:Deskana: The reason I hold this opinion is because, the way I see it, ethics being pushed aside in favour of other things is why the world is the way it is now. I'm concerned that if humanity doesn't start to consider ethics as vitally important, eventually we'll have dug a hole so deep that we can't get out of it. I sometimes wonder if that's already occurred. This isn't related to the WMF, by the way, just my general opinion. DesertPipeline (talk) 11:50, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
I think this is fair, but at the same time.. We as an organization/movement can't fight all the ethics wars for society. In the end it's up to society, not to us, we merely are a cog. Whenever this entire topic comes up, my first thought is always: "All the network hardware we use are proprietary software" and there is no way we are ever going to develop our own network routers either. Choices and boundaries have to be set somewhere or we risk our own mission AND we fail at saving the world at the same time. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 14:15, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
It is disturbing to see the team planning to use A***** Web Services as I do not like to think that an organisation I volunteer for is helping to finance, however small a contribution, a company with a barbaric 19th-century attitude to workers' rights. I understand that AWS is incredibly dominant in the market, but I urge the team to consider that if there is any open-source alternative that is viable, and it's not going to double the budget needed, it may be worth using so as not to alienate the adamantly pro-open source community who write the product that you are selling, or to drive your ethical principles further from the volunteers whose maintenance work needs to continue in order for you to keep your jobs. — Bilorv (talk) 07:19, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
@Bilorv: There are plenty of open source alternatives to AWS; just off the top of my head, there's OpenStack, OpenShift, and Cloud Foundry, and, even more notably, Wikimedia Labs. The difference is, unlike AWS, GCP, Azure, and other public cloud platforms, these open source solutions rely on you installing, running, and managing the platform on your own hardware, which can significantly increase the cost in both hardware and labour. (You can also take the open source software and install it on the public cloud too, but that's done to minimise things like vendor lock-in, and doesn't address your point about not using AWS.) See my earlier post on a fuller explanation of why I think public cloud makes sense in the short term, but Wikimedia infrastructure makes sense in the long term. .--Deskana (talk) 09:52, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
@Deskana: thanks for the information, really useful. I think your suggestion of short-term public cloud, long-term Wikimedia infrastructure makes sense to me now, and is a much more informed specific suggestion than I would be able to make. — Bilorv (talk) 10:12, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
User:Bilorv: If you care about ethics, then it's better to say free software or libre software (or free/libre software, or free (libre) software), whichever you prefer. The "open source" community is not interested in ethics. That's why the name doesn't mention the sole reason free software exists (because we should have freedom in computing). It frustrates me that not only do we have to make people care about freedom in computing, we also have to fight the "open source" mentality, because it has all the mindshare. I just can't understand it myself. I guess people are more enamoured with technical considerations than the idea of others not having unfair power over them. It bothers me greatly. DesertPipeline (talk) 02:28, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
@DesertPipeline: I'm afraid I don't understand the point you're making. Wikipedia is open source (you can modify, redistribute and see how the sausage is made...) and not free (... attribution is legally required), correct? So it stands to reason to me that we would support open source software, including software which may not be free/libre, although the latter could be preferable. — Bilorv (talk) 18:43, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
User:Bilorv: Wikipedia's motto is "The Free Encylopedia". The "free" doesn't refer to price; it refers to freedom. Attribution being required doesn't make something nonfree. Wikipedia was founded in part because of the free software movement, and it's why MediaWiki is free software. DesertPipeline (talk) 03:32, 31 March 2021 (UTC)
@Bilorv: Free works can have restrictions and still be classified as free. Attribution, and the requirement to release derivative works under the same licence, are such requirements for Wikipedia content; this is generally referred to as copyleft. There are various opinions as to which is more free: adding copyright restrictions to the free work that preserve those freedoms for future users, or having fewer or no copyright restrictions that allow those future freedoms to be removed. I think this is outside the scope of this thread though. --Deskana (talk) 09:25, 31 March 2021 (UTC)

This will effect donations negativelyEdit

If Wikimedia is getting a substantial amount of income from this proposed enterprise, the Foundation cannot in all seriousness claim that it will not have an effect on the large number of small donations -- currently the major revenue stream. The statement in the FAQ claiming otherwise is hand waving, pure & simple. A moment's thought will confirm this. Right now fundraising pitches follow the format "If you don't give us any money, we have no other revenue source to keep things running. We'll have to shut everything down." Further, it's reasonable to expect this enterprise will provide an income millions of dollars in size; otherwise, it will not justify the effort. Now even one million dollars is a lot of money to most people, so much it's hard to easily conceptualize. So when it is learned that Google, Bing, et alia are paying in total X million dollars, it will be a disincentive to users to donate. I know that if I had been making donations, & heard that this new revenue stream was bringing in millions of dollars, I'd be more inclined to spend my potential donation on beer than sending it in. Maybe this will not decrease the total of donations a large amount, but it will reduce it.

Now unless this potential loss in donations is properly estimated -- will it be a loss in the range of 2%? 5%? 25%? 50%? -- the reduction of total income will be a disorienting surprise. The first response will be to increase income from this revenue stream, which could lead to a vicious circle where keeping Wikipedia & the other projects afloat depends on selling a product to major corporations, who will -- intentionally or not -- force editorial changes. (For example, the fundraising department telling volunteers, either directly or indirectly, not to report some facts about Google because "they might not renew their contract". Salesmen always want to flatter their customers.) And if the community of volunteers perceive an outside group has an editorial influence, we will leave. Maybe slowly at first, but in the end too many volunteers will leave to keep the Wikimedia projects viable. At best, we will fork Wikipedia & other projects & abandon the Foundation; at worst we will drop out entirely from free knowledge. -- Llywrch (talk) 07:20, 20 March 2021 (UTC)

You've certainly outlined a worst case scenario quite well, but do you seriously imagine a situation in which the fundraising department imagines for even one moment that they can tell volunteer editors what to do? I can't imagine it and of course if they did it, a ton of volunteers would quite rightly go on strike immediately - me among them.
As to the question of whether a new revenue source might negatively impact negotiations and the need to estimate that - I do agree to an extent that it is possible, and I do think that the WMF has considered the issue carefully. However, to actually *estimate* it in a reliable way is so difficult as to be practically impossible. My personal belief is that it will have very very little impact. Here's why. For quite some time, the WMF has been managed well, financially, such that we bring in more money every year than we spend so that we can build up our reserves - which we have done. Additionally we have built up the WMF Endowment fund into something quite substantial. There are occasional news stories about this, basically saying "Why is Wikipedia asking for money, they have a ton of money already?" And the impact on donations has not been negative at all - indeed, I think it is arguable (and I know this in a direct way if we consider major donors who I've personally talked to) that having the WMF on sound financial footing, so that we can do more for free knowledge globally, is a stronger and more stable longterm incentive to donors, as opposed to pursuing what I would regard as folly: teetering forever on the edge of bankruptcy in order to panic people into donating money. That would be terrible!
There's another way of thinking about this as well. I know of a prominent water charity that gets major donations to cover their operating expenses in full, so that it can honestly promise smaller donors that their money will be 100% earmarked for work in the field getting clean water to people who need it. If it becomes possible to say "Hey, we get enough money from enterprise services to cover <this not very sexy part of our work, like bandwidth costs or such, whatever> so that 100% of your donation money goes to <supporting the growth of communities in the developing world, whatever> then that's likely to bring in more donation money as well. (I'm not arguing here whether those are the two things that would make sense - but the point is: if enterprise money pays for stuff donors don't care about, then more of their money can go to stuff that donors do care about).
Still - I happily concede and join you in an interest in closely keeping an eye on it. Suppose we found that for every $1 in revenue from enterprise resulted in a $2 loss of revenue from donations. The right answer would not be to increase income from the enterprise products, but to realize that it *costs money* to get that revenue. The right answer would be to cut the price to zero, as paradoxical as that might seem.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 10:16, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
I just sat down to write a reply here, refreshed the page, and found Jimmmy had beaten me to it! And with a much more detailed answer than I would probably have written! Thank you. Moreover, my answer would have focused a fair bit on the necessary oversight of the Board of Trustees to uphold and enforce their a) fiduciary responsibility to movement funds, and b) moral responsibility to movement principles. So, a board member replying directly, and quickly, and extensively, serves to highlight that oversight role is being fulfilled.
The only thing I would like to add is to refer back to Lgruwell-WMF's comment earlier on this page. She notes that the Donor Relations team, which answers hundreds of thousands of donor questions\inquires\complaints a year, typically receives many complaints from donors when there is news coverage of a stance the foundation is taking, or something new we are doing. The WMF Communications team has monitored 120 news stories in the last week, across many languages, about this topic. Yet, as Lisa states, the donor relations team have only received one donor complaint on this topic. This is, obviously, unscientific and is not meant to dismiss the need not be vigilant about it. Nonetheless, it is a good 'early-days' measurement of the sentiment among the large and diverse range of people who have, and continue, to donate. Rigorous monitoring of donor sentiment will continue.
In my personal monitoring of social media conversations about this project, the most common sentiment I am reading from the 'general public' is words to the effect of "its about time Big Tech paid their fair share" [I make no judgements about this opinion, just stating what I'm reading]. And the majority of Wikimedian commenters I've read are stating words to the effect of "this sounds fair enough but we should remain vigilant that it's done right" - which is a sentiment I think is entirely appropriate.
Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 11:09, 20 March 2021 (UTC)
And it is indeed past time :) –SJ talk  02:22, 21 March 2021 (UTC)
I don't think people disagree that it's time Big Tech paid their fair share, but if people think they are paying their fair share and stop donating, we'd have made a ethically unclear decision and hammered our funding setup. Hardly the best of outcomes! What's more, once we go in, withdrawing from the market is unlikely to magically snap back donation levels if they fall. Nosebagbear (talk) 13:35, 21 March 2021 (UTC)

Let's look at some fundraising statistics ...Edit

Taken from here:

Year Source Revenue Expenses Asset rise Total assets
2019/2020 PDF $ 129,234,327 $ 112,489,397 $ 14,674,300 $ 180,315,725
2018/2019 PDF $ 120,067,266 $ 91,414,010 $ 30,691,855 $ 165,641,425
2017/2018 PDF $ 104,505,783 $ 81,442,265 $ 21,619,373 $ 134,949,570
2016/2017 PDF $ 91,242,418 $ 69,136,758 $ 21,547,402 $ 113,330,197
2015/2016 PDF $ 81,862,724 $ 65,947,465 $ 13,962,497 $ 91,782,795
2014/2015 PDF $ 75,797,223 $ 52,596,782 $ 24,345,277 $ 77,820,298
2013/2014 PDF $ 52,465,287 $ 45,900,745 $ 8,285,897 $ 53,475,021
2012/2013 PDF $ 48,635,408 $ 35,704,796 $ 10,260,066 $ 45,189,124
2011/2012 PDF $ 38,479,665 $ 29,260,652 $ 10,736,914 $ 34,929,058
2010/2011 PDF $ 24,785,092 $ 17,889,794 $ 9,649,413 $ 24,192,144
2009/2010 PDF $ 17,979,312 $ 10,266,793 $ 6,310,964 $ 14,542,731
2008/2009 PDF $ 8,658,006 $ 5,617,236 $ 3,053,599 $ 8,231,767
2007/2008 PDF $ 5,032,981 $ 3,540,724 $ 3,519,886 $ 5,178,168
2006/2007 PDF $ 2,734,909 $ 2,077,843 $ 654,066 $ 1,658,282
2005/2006 PDF $ 1,508,039 $ 791,907 $ 736,132 $ 1,004,216
2004/2005 PDF $ 379,088 $ 177,670 $ 211,418 $ 268,084
2003/2004 PDF $ 80,129 $ 23,463 $ 56,666 $ 56,666

Note that moneys going into the endowment are shown as expenses in the above table. So some of the expenses are actually profits put into the endowment. The paragraph below reflects the wording in the financial statements:

During the year ended June 30, 2016, the Foundation entered into an agreement with the Tides Foundation to establish the Wikimedia Endowment as a Collective Action Fund to act as a permanent safekeeping fund to generate income to ensure a base level of support for the Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. The Endowment is independent from the Foundation. The Foundation has provided irrevocable grants to the Tides Foundation for the purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment. These amounts are recorded in awards and grants expense. (Source: Financial Statements 2019/2020, p. 14) --Andreas JN466 12:15, 12 April 2021 (UTC)

Analysis: How much money does the Wikimedia Foundation currently have in hand, and how much more does it want?Edit

Note that the endowment was reported to stand at $90 million in January of this year, and was said to be approaching $100 million last month. (Originally, it was thought that it would take ten years to get to this point; in fact, it took only five.)

Now, the endowment is money the Foundation has in hand, in addition to its net assets, most recently reported as standing at $180 million.

And the Foundation has reportedly taken another $124 million since then, during the first six months of the current 2020/2021 financial year.

So it seems from the above figures that over the past five years, the Wikimedia Foundation's revenue exceeded expenses by around $200 million ($100 million increase in net assets, $100 million accumulated in the endowment), or $40 million annually.

Now, User:Jimbo Wales suggests above that one could say, "Hey, we get enough money from enterprise services to cover <this not very sexy part of our work, like bandwidth costs or such, whatever> so that 100% of your donation money goes to <supporting the growth of communities in the developing world, whatever> then that's likely to bring in more donation money as well.

This sounds basically good. But it is very, very far from current fundraising practice! Wikipedia fundraising banners still

  • create an "alarming", "urgent" impression (not my judgment, but that of the press, see e.g. reports on the 2020 campaign in India)
  • say that the WMF "depends" on donations, that "We need you to make a donation to protect Wikipedia’s independence", that "if you donate, Wikipedia could keep thriving"
  • use cap-in-hand beggar wordings like it's "awkward" to ask, or "We ask you, humbly: don’t scroll away, ..."

All of this elicits a sense of financial threat that is very, very far from the reality. So why doesn't the Foundation follow the above suggestion and say that "Wikipedia's continued existence is assured, the people who write Wikipedia work for free and we've got the money to cover hosting fees for a century, BUT we want to expand and do this and that, which we would like you to support, and we also want to have another $200 million in the bank just in case?"

That would be honest.

Two additional thoughts.

  • The fact that the endowment was set up with the Tides Foundation, which is known for handling "dark money" – the precise opposite of transparency – is concerning, given the vast amounts involved.
  • We have known that re-users like the Big 5 tech companies are making billions off the unpaid volunteer labour that has built Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites. Now the WMF is making hundreds of millions from unpaid volunteer labour too, with its top managers' annual salaries inching their way towards half a million dollars, and the number of paid staff and contractors moving towards 500 (from a couple of dozen a decade ago or so). The gulf separating the unpaid volunteers from the money earners is getting ever wider. It's no wonder that Mashable, reporting the Wikimedia Enterprise news, wonders: how will Wikipedia’s army of volunteers react? The organization has depended on its volunteers to actually create, research, update, moderate, and fact-check its content since the website’s founding. Will they view this as Wikipedia selling out? Will some want compensation for their work in return? Big Tech has been profiting off of services utilizing Wikipedia at no-charge for years. Now that Wikipedia looks to get paid, will its volunteers look to be compensated too?

There have been less than 5 billion edits to all Wikimedia projects since their inception. If you tot up how much money the Big 5 tech companies and the WMF make from each of those edits each year, it's actually a quite appreciable amount. --Andreas JN466 12:15, 12 April 2021 (UTC)

Dear Jayen466,
If I understand the points you are raising here, it seems that they are not specific to the work/product/revenue of this program, but referring to the phrasing used in fundraising banners and whether they accurately [or inaccurately] portray the financial circumstances of the Wikimedia Foundation as a whole. For feedback relating to the phases used in donation campaigns (banners, but also emails) the best place to provide that feedback is on talk:Fundraising, or via other methods listed at Fundraising#Contact_Us.
With regards to your point about the Tides foundation, you might be interested in a recent WMF Board resolution: Wikimedia Endowment Structure which states "...that the Board instructs Foundation staff to proceed to take the steps necessary to establish a stand-alone 501(c)(3) public charity to serve as the future corporate home for the Wikimedia Endowment". To provide comments on that topic, I suggest you publish them at Talk:Wikimedia Endowment.
And finally, with regards to the wider issue of the amount of revenue this program will raise, while it's not something you specifically asked about it is relevant to point to something which was only added to the documentation only after the initial publication over at FAQ#How much money will this raise? - that no less than 70% of revenues will always come from donations (including grants/endowment). That is, this commercial activity is not about revenue maximisation but rather it is about diversification and long term stability in the face of changing environments.
Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 13:58, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
Dear Liam, thank you for your reply. I was aware that it is envisaged that the profits from Wikimedia Enterprise should only ever be a minority of overall revenue. Indeed, this was at the back of my mind, because the implication is surely that overall WMF income will rise to even greater heights. Why? Because, however much Wikimedia Enterprise raises, your colleagues at Advancement will have to open what I think of as the "Wikipedia money tap" for long enough to make sure that what you take in donations will be more than twice as much as the substantial (we are talking many tens of millions of dollars per annum) takings from this project.
As for the Endowment, do you have reason to believe that any profits from this project funnelled into the WMF version of the Endowment will be handled any more transparently than is presently the case with the endowment? How can we see where this money goes? And will this for-profit company make full Form 990-style disclosures?
I quite agree that WMF staff, who are after all paid from donations, should no longer do work for the Big 5 essentially for free, given that these companies are more than wealthy enough to pay. But I find this gargantuan accumulation of WMF funds, obtained to a large part from people who are made to feel guilty, made to believe that Wikipedia is in financial trouble, and who often don't even know that all the content is written by unpaid volunteers who want this content to be free, distasteful. Will this additional source of funds, with this 30:70 arrangement, not exacerbate that? Regards, --Andreas JN466 14:56, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
Dear Jayen466,
While I don't have a multi-year revenue forecast/plan to hand, I am confident that you are right: that there is the intention to continue the steady growth of the overall budget. However, the revenues raised by the WMF through donations have never been based on "let's see how much we can raise, then we'll figure out how to spend it". Rather, the annual plan (and its expected cost) is set, and then the fundraising targets are set to match that and adjustments made throughout the year depending on how reality deviates from intentions. Consequently, the fundraising target is never going to be set based on merely being a multiple of what Enterprise raises, but based on the annual plan's requirements. Independently of that fact, we can all debate what the specifics of those expenses should be and how they ought to be prioritised. Furthermore, when I was an elected volunteer member of the FDC, I had the community-wide mandate to do just that! I did so (starting from my election in mid-2015) including here, and here. Nonetheless, both then as volunteer and now as contractor-employee, I agreed that the general and steady increase of the size of the WMF's overall budget is necessary to achieve the tasks before it (both the operational-level 'open bugs' tasks, and also the strategic-level 'movement recommendations' tasks). That oversight task of looking at global revenues and expenses still [legally] sits with the WMF Board of Trustees and a modernised replacement for some of the functions of the FDC are currently being debated in the Strategy process - most notably with the discussions on the concept of the global council.
As for the tone of the fundraising messages, I cannot speak on behalf of the fundraising team about the research they've done over the years on the public's qualitative reaction to the fundraising messages - other than to say that I know they've done a lot. But, I encourage you to document your points of concern about making people feel guilty on Talk:Fundraising. With regards to Form 990-style disclosures of the new endowment legal structure, I would encourage you to ask that specific question on Talk:Wikimedia Endowment - tag me too if you want and I'll try to make sure it gets responded to as soon as feasible. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 15:49, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 15:49, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks Liam, and thanks for confirming that the plan is to continue the growth of the overall budget. As I mentioned above, the original plan for the Endowment was to grow it to $100 million over ten years; this has now been achieved in five, which clearly means that about $50 million more was raised over the past five years than was planned (including God knows how many Indian readers "encouraged" to donate 150 Rupees to "protect Wikipedias independence"). I think there is a problem with greed: turning off the money tap (the money faucet) seems a hard thing to do, when things are going so well, even if targets have long been achieved.
And if there are good reasons to grow the budget I wonder why there is so little information about those reasons in the public domain. The WMF is spending ten times as much as it did ten years ago, but Wikipedia looks much the same as ever. Even page views have not increased all that much. And, as always, it is all written and curated by unpaid volunteers. Yet the fundraising messages always speak about Wikipedia needing money, to "keep thriving", "to stay online", to "protect its independence" – all messages designed to cause alarm, and very little to do, as far as I can see, with what the hugely expanded budget is wanted for.
Now, back to the topic at hand. :) I was primarily interested at this point in the disclosures the for-profit structure will make, because the requirements for for-profit companies obviously differ from those applying to non-profits. So, will the LLC make ALL the same disclosures concerning its revenue, expenses, remuneration of top-paid staff, donations, grants, etc. that a charity would be required to? (I have read the earlier reply by TSebro (WMF) on this page, but would like to make sure.) If there are any exceptions, what are they?
We know that the present board of managers are Grant Ingersoll, Chief Technical Officer; Lisa Seitz-Gruwell Chief Advancement Officer; Tony Sebro, Deputy General Counsel; and Lane Becker. Tony earlier mentioned a president in addition to the board – who is the president? Does anyone else, other than the Wikimedia Foundation, have an ownership interest in the LLC? Where will changes in personnel, ownership arrangements etc. be notified?
Thank you for your prompt replies, Liam! (And I know the Advancement team have done a lot of research about "what works best" ... unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, they invariably find out that messages causing alarm "work best"!) Would it be okay if I simply copy our discussion to date, including your replies, to the other two pages you mentioned? Then people can see the context and reply as appropriate. Best wishes, --Andreas JN466 17:25, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
First thing, my caveat: I am not a lawyer. If you wish for a more legalistic answer - which will therefore be longer and replete with terms of art - I can request one from TSebro (WMF). Nonetheless, his statement above in the subheading "For-profit or Non-profit" is an existing official answer to this topic - at least as far as it regards remuneration: All staff working on Enterprise are WMF staff and therefore are subject to the same disclosure policies. As for the disclosures of revenues/expenses: As stated at Wikimedia Enterprise/Principles#Honesty and transparency: ...a periodically-updated register of current customers whose contract is worth more than the amount where an equivalent gift to the Wikimedia Foundation would require notice to the Board of Trustees; and, the publication of overall revenue and expenses, differentiated from those of the Wikimedia Foundation in general, at least annually. We've not yet determined where those documents would live - they could be with the existing WMF financial documents, or perhaps on the eventual "corporate" website of Enterprise but either way they'll be linked from this Meta documentation homepage.
Unless I'm mistaken, the president is Lane Becker. All these LLC officer roles are filled by senior staff of the WMF as part of the duties of those roles. Naturally over time people will change jobs and therefore those LLC officer positions will change. If you think it's worthwhile, I can arrange to make some clarification statement to this effect on the Wikimedia_Enterprise#Team section? And no - there are no other ownership interests: the LLC is wholly and solely "owned" by the WMF. It's not a separate spinoff or has external investors or anything like that. As for the question of where any changes will be notified, that would depend on the kind of change, ranging from: simply updating the documentation on Meta, something in the WMF Form990; some kind of declaration with the State business registration organisation [remember: IANAL!]; or with a WMF Board of trustees resolution.
On the final question: I don't think copy/pasting a whole swath of pre-existing conversation is idea. Rather, I think it would be more helpful to briefly and succinctly restate your specific questions, and link to this conversation as the place where they first came from. That separates out the 'context' from the 'relevant question'. I hope all this helps, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 19:19, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks, mate, it does. Best, --Andreas JN466 19:22, 12 April 2021 (UTC)
Liam, as you know, I posted at the other two talk pages, and after a promising acknowledgement, it's crickets. Do you think any answers to those questions will be forthcoming? Also, trying to refresh my memory, I came across this old page yesterday and had to smile ... :) --Andreas JN466 16:13, 15 April 2021 (UTC)
Andreas, I know for a fact that answers to your questions are absolutely forthcoming - probably early next week. But: please exercise patience. It is currently Thursday. It was only on Monday evening you asked your 7 + 9 detailed and technical questions on a variety of topics - several of which require confirmation from lawyers or accountants in order to give a formally precise answer. And, as you noted, there was an [effectively] immediate acknowledgement and promise to reply. It is only 2.5 working-days elapsed since your questions were acknowledged, that is not "crickets". A working week is not an unreasonable amount of time to wait for a reply. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 16:27, 15 April 2021 (UTC)
Okeydoke, Liam. By answering instantly throughout, you probably raised overly optimistic expectations on my part. ;) Best, --Andreas JN466 16:39, 15 April 2021 (UTC)

Incremental dumpsEdit

Will the incremental dumps which are currently marked as experimental continue to be available? I have read the FAQ but I would still like to hear that this experimental feature will not be axed with the introduction of Wikimedia Enterprise. --Count Count (talk) 15:38, 21 March 2021 (UTC)

Dear Count Count, to reassure you: the existence (or, more accurately the introduction) of the new 'Enterprise' dumps is independent of anything else that is being worked on (both with the APIs and the Dumps). Nothing that exists already is being turned off or removed as a direct result of the Enterprise project, nor are any future developments for anything else 'tied' to the development of the Enterprise API.
As you note, the "incremental dumps" is described as experimental so it is possible that it will change BUT that decision is completely independent of what happens with the Enterprise project. I'm trying to find who is specifically responsible for that dump, to comment here to give you any further information about it. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 19:44, 21 March 2021 (UTC)

Additional terms of use requirements - Attribution and access to openly licensed worksEdit

We discussed this possibility a little bit in one of the live meetings, but to register here and get more feedback. With a contractual relationship with Wikimedia Enterprise users we can require they correctly attribute Wikimedia projects and also allow programatic access to openly licensed works they host, such as Creative Commons videos on Youtube. Chico Venancio (talk) 19:19, 23 March 2021 (UTC)

Hi Chico, to clarify, I understand you're asking if the Wikimedia Enterprise team can require attribution and greater access to other things those companies operate, for the use of Wikimedians, as part of the API contract? I ask, because your sentence could also be understood to mean "that individual Wikimedia volunteers would now be legally able to force [those things]".
If you meant the latter - then no. At least, the copy-rights (and this includes attribution rights) that editors can enforce have not changed. The legal ability of an individual Wikimedian to enforce their copyright on their contributions to Wikimedia remain legally the same under intellectually property law (not stronger, nor weaker). This is most commonly seen with Commons photographers who attempt to enforce property attribution of images. [I should also note - that the current stage of the Enterprise API roadmap does not include WikimediaCommons content, just the "text-based" projects].
But, if you mean the former: Because of a [hopefully long-duration] contractual relationship for a service, we have the strong hope that there would be an increased leverage from the Wikimedia side to encourage the commercial customers of the service to more consistently and accurately attribute Wikimedia content when they use it. More importantly though, is that by using the new API for all their needs, this will make the use of Wikimedia content within their systems much more easy to identify - and therefore much more easy to attribute. The inconsistent attribution by downstream commercial users is not deliberate, it is because it is hard to do consistently. If we give them a more consistently formatted input, they will be more likely to be able to attribute it more consistently!
With regards to being able to negotiate some kind of privileged access for Wikimedians to other services offered by these companies: that is an interesting possibility. However: That should be seen as 'relationship building' - not as something we can try to 'extract' from them in a commercial negotiation. This is not a zero-sum-game. Furthermore, personally I am wary of trying to tie anything else to the 'enterprise API' contract. The Enterprise team do not wish for this service to be used as a 'gatekeeper' or a 'pawn' in other content-partnership negotiations with downstream users. Relationships with the community (including affiliates around the world) should be allowed to grow and do interesting local partnerships entirely without reference or dependence upon any commercial contracts for the Enterprise API. So, I have an instinctive hesitancy towards the idea of tying content-partnership deals with any API access contracts. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 21:53, 23 March 2021 (UTC)
I would also be concerned in cases where something like this was done with a commercial client that it would be the Community (rather than the Enterprise team) handing over an additional lever that could be used as influence against us. Nosebagbear (talk) 00:30, 24 March 2021 (UTC)
This is an important topic. The press has increased confusion on the matter and has made some people think that the Wikimedia Foundation will charge for "content" (i.e. for reuse/licenses thereof), which is not possible. (But it suits the media to claim otherwise.)
It should be possible to set some technical standards for the (re)use of the data being provided, say attribution strings. In its simplest form, this could come in the form of documentation and utilities that reusers (and customers of Wikimedia Enterprise) will want to use voluntarily, as Liam said. The next level would be a technical standard on the use of the services, contractually binding for those who use them. The next level would be a standard that applies more broadly to all reuses and reusers and claims to be an interpretation of "reasonable" per articles 3(b) and 4(c) of the license.
The wider the claims and requests, the broader the consensus on them should be. Even at the basic level you'd want something that even smaller reusers can use (e.g. not just Bing but also DuckDuckGo or Yandex; not just Twitter but also any Mastodon instance). At the other extreme, if you claim to say something about the license then you'd need to involve the broader free knowledge movement, including at a minimum Creative Commons (but also OKFN and FSF). Nemo 06:48, 24 March 2021 (UTC)

Safeguards needed before this goes liveEdit

It's important to note that safeguards are needed before this effort goes live or accepts any money. The Movement Strategy goal to Decentralize decision-making is critical, and now is the time to commit to avoid the potential strategic blunders of (1) overcentralization at the WMF and (2) overdependency on corporations, that are the inherent risks of such a move. The Wikimedia Enterprise team has done a commendable job of laying out the technical mechanisms of the system, but that is not sufficient, and more is needed at a Board policy level. Specifically, before any money changes hands with corporations, we need a commitment to (1) strong support for the endowment and (2) that the non-endowment income should be split 50/50 between the WMF and communities/affiliates, to avoid centralization and overdependece on corporations by the WMF.--Pharos (talk) 16:18, 25 March 2021 (UTC)

Thank you so much for your thoughts on this. I share a lot of your concerns and I think some context on the complete picture might be useful. I have been trying to build a diverse and durable revenue strategy for WMF. It used to be pretty simple: 90% of revenue came from small donations from readers and roughly 10% can from foundations and major donors. In 2016, we started building an endowment and developed a planned giving program. To date, over 1000 people have included a gift to the Wikimedia Endowment or WMF in their estate plans. This year, the Wikimedia Endowment will reach our initial goal of creating a $100 million corpus and the investment income from the Endowment will start being used to support the Wikimedia projects. This is a permanent source of income for Wikipedia, so I feel that we have now done something that addresses the "in perpetuity" part of our mission. Support for WMF and the movement is still very reliant on traffic to that could go away if there are significant changes to how people reach Wikipedia content (voice assistants come to mind, as an example). Enterprise creates a revenue stream that does not rely so much on traffic to and I think that makes us more resilient. I certainly see the problem with being overly reliant on corporations and intend to keep reader donations the primary means of support. There are also some limits that we can put in place to ensure this (see above conversation with Nosebagbear). We are finalizing those guidelines now and checking them with our auditor, KPMG. We should be ready to share those in a couple of days and hopefully, they address some of your concerns. Thanks again. --Lgruwell-WMF (talk) 01:58, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
To follow up - please note Lgruwell-WMF's post today on the thread higher up on the page (diff) which states "...WMF is taking a proactive approach to establish a reasonable threshold of 30% of total revenue. We will monitor and analyze the activities to ensure that unrelated business income does not exceed 30%...". LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 16:54, 27 March 2021 (UTC)
It is helpful to clarify the exact number that has been determined to meet the minimum legal standard, but it is not sufficient. 30% of Wikimedia Foundation income is still a very substantial sum, and it is vital in this domain as in others, that we apply the stated strategic principles of financial stability and decentralization, and for this new income we need a real committment to (1) strong support for the endowment and (2) that the non-endowment income should be split 50/50 between the WMF and communities/affiliates. In addition, the example of the Mozilla Corporation cannot be ignored, and we should anticipate that a restructuring along those lines may be a natural evolution (and perhaps a desirable one) at some point in the future. It is important to put these safeguards in now at the first stage of things, before any corporate money starts changing hands.--Pharos (talk) 14:10, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
I have the impression that the discussion of the possible decrease in income from small donations is not the actual justification for his project. The amount raised by the existing routes is more than sufficient for actual operations, (and more than the WMF knows how to usefully spend) and we already have a growing endowment as a buffer. Thus the possibility of sometime in the future needing other sources of revenue is speculation, and nobody in the information industry or WP or the WMF has ever been shown accurate in such things. Rather, I suspect there is a positive desire to become enmeshed with major commercial operations, to use our prestige to enable us to work in the wider commercial environment. The proposed limit of 30% is far higher than this project alone will provide, and indicates there is a desire for additional commercial involvement, that might entail a greater compromise of integrity. Free information resources should not be part of the commercial environment. There is no way of being part of the commercial or institutional or governmental world without being affected by it. In WP terms, this is known as developing a COI, and losing our NPOV. The degradation of information from a failure of NPOV is one of our biggest dangers, and once we take their money we are no longer free from them. DGG (talk) 06:13, 17 April 2021 (UTC)
Dear DGG,
If I may summarise your concern, it is that: the WMF to supporting the specific use-cases of the commercial sector (and charging money for that support) represents is an inherent and unacceptable risk of the WMF's losing organisational independence through inappropriate financial influence. Is that a fair summary? If so, then the alternatives would be either to (1) explicitly ignore those use-cases, (2) to actively support them but at no charge, or (3) to actively support them but only on a 'cost recovery' basis. While I agree with you that there are significant ideological/independence risks - and that's part of the purpose of this whole discussion period, to help ensure that 'no stone remains unturned' in ensuring this project is well-designed and documented - I nevertheless feel that each of these 3 alternatives is sub-optimal.
1. To explicitly ignore those commercial use-cases, would be to deny that commercial re-use is a valid form of knowledge dissemination and an important vector for our vision of making knowledge maximally available. This is inherent in our refusal of -NC licensing. So, we must start from a position that these use-cases are worth supporting. This is consistent with the Strategy recommendation "Improve User Experience". Furthermore, given that an increasing proportion of Wikimedia's users are accessing our content mediated via external commercial organisations (including but not limited to search engines and voice-assistant devices), that these use-cases are increasingly important to take into account. Nevertheless, and to a large degree, we are at present ignoring these use-cases. The very largest organisations each build their own fragile and highly esoteric workflows for ingesting our content. This does a disservice to the eventual readers - because these workflows often break, or are slow to update. For less-large companies they are too difficult to set-up and maintain which restricts the number of companies (and therefore people) who can access our content.
2. To actively support those use-cases but at no charge. This would be to subsidise the infrastructure and engineering requirements of some of the world's richest organisations with existing donor's money. This is also what we are currently doing, in effect, since we are serving the data to them via the existing APIs as fast as they can take it. Serving their existing needs is not cost-neutral. Therefore, through a combination of (1) and (2) the status quo is beneficial for neither Wikimedia nor commercial orgs.
3. A 'cost recovery' basis would be difficult to achieve on a sheer accountancy basis (the cost is not merely 'hosting fee / pages requested' but primarily in maintaining stability/reliability requirements of the SLA). Moreover it would be in contradiction with the strategy recommendation "Increase the Sustainability of Our Movement" which states:
The ambition of our strategic direction will require an increase in revenue for our Movement beyond the current incremental growth. The current model, heavily dependent on Wikipedia banner donations, lacks resilience against external changes and might become less effective with future technology and knowledge consumption trends. One example of such a shift would be decreased direct traffic and increased access through virtual assistants and search engines. We are missing the potential that comes with a diversified global approach, technological advances, and various revenue possibilities related to the use of our platform and product.
I recognise that you might not agree with that last statement in particular - but it is applicable to much more than just this specific project and implies a much more robust revenue model [not just via the WMF] to pay for the movement as it is, but also the movement as that Strategy document calls for it to become by 2030 and beyond.
Separately, you noted that "There is no way of being part of the commercial or institutional or governmental world without being affected by it." And I quite agree. But, we already are part of that world and the world is full of governments, and institutions, and commercial organisations. Even if we deliberately chose to ignore them we will still be affected by them. This is most visible in the various copyright and censorship legislation in various jurisdictions around the world. Equally, 3 companies dominate 85% of browser traffic to Wikipedia. 1 company dominates web referral traffic to Wikipedia of around 50%. 3 companies dominate 93% of browser traffic to Wikipedia on mobile. In my view it is far better to set up a specific, overt, appropriately transparent and documented place to supporting those valid use-cases - rather than to imply through inaction that they do not affect us already.
I don't expect I will necessarily 'change your mind' on this matter - and that's ok, that's not my intention. My purpose is to hopefully assure you that I - and the team doing this - recognise the risk of action but also that we, and whole Movement Strategy process, recognises the risk of inaction.
The question I put to you is: what further practical steps (beyond those already documented here in the FAQ/Principles pages) can we take to appropriately mitigate those risks. Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 22:35, 18 April 2021 (UTC)

In response to Pharos' earlier comment above: now that I've replied to DGG's immediately preceding this message, I didn't want for it to look like I had 'skipped over' yours by writing that long reply to DGG - so I feel I should say something in writing here too, beyond our on-video discussion of this issue during the April Office Hours last week (recording published here).
The particular point is the request: "...[that] we apply the stated strategic principles of financial stability and decentralization, and for this new income we need a real committment to (1) strong support for the endowment and (2) that the non-endowment income should be split 50/50 between the WMF and communities/affiliates."
At the Meta/Strategic level my first duty is to state that the Enterprise team does not itself decide how the money that it raises through this method is ultimately used. That would be as inappropriate as if the team which designs the fundraising banners got to decide how banner derived revenue were spent. Movement-resources are movement-resources and decisions about their appropriate use should be made by the appropriate oversight authority(ies). At this moment in our movement's history there is lots of discussion about exactly what that appropriate oversight authority should look like and how it should work. As a volunteer - user:Wittylama, in my position as community-elected representative of the FDC - I was part of the "resource allocation working group" so I am very familiar with that discussion and have lots of personal opinions on the matter, you can read some of them on the documentation linked at that working group page! One of the key concepts we discussed as a working-group (the specifics of which probably got lost in the synthesis process) was "who decides who decides". That is: there is the practical level of 'those making resource allocation decisions', but there is the level above that - those who provide the legitimacy for what resources are controlled by whom. That higher level is not me, nor LBecker (WMF). The 'global council' concept plays directly into this and debate on that format continues (as you know, since you're involved in that). At the current legal standpoint, the ultimate fiduciary responsibility of Enterprise sits squarely with the WMF Board of Trustees. Nonetheless, as it states in the Movement Strategy recommendation Ensure Equity in Decision-making:
"To ensure that Movement resources are more equitably distributed, it is necessary to create a more distributed decision-making process to give access to those resources. This can be done through distributed, decentralized power structures and resource allocation, which would also better equip smaller and new Movement stakeholders to expand in sustainable ways and develop the skills to take up leadership and agency."
It is through that lense that this discussion about how Enterprise revenue should be utilised should be discussed (in my opinion) - at the macro level and in the context of operationalising the Strategic Recommendations. All that being said, I should also add that both User:Lgruwell-WMF and User:Jimbo Wales have both expressed your hoped-for "strong support for the endowment" in response to other questions on this very talkpage. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 23:41, 18 April 2021 (UTC)

Is there a commitment to not manipulating volunteer labour for this?Edit

The stated aim this project is trying to solve is to improve the APIs and, therefore, the organisation of partial mainspace Wikimedia content (such as the infobox of a Wikipedia article). Have there been any commitments made that volunteer labour will not be affected for this and that this project will not have any effects whatsoever on (a) the content as seen by the average reader; (b) the layout of wikitext as seen by an editor; and (c) the structured data stored in Wikidata?

For instance, even the little change on mobile Wikipedia where an internal search shows a short description of an article underneath its title has resulted in, I would guess, hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer labour, first in writing the descriptions on Wikidata and maintaining them through anti-vandalism efforts, and second by the English Wikipedia community deciding that this approach is not robust enough and locally overriding the short descriptions with custom descriptions that need to be written independently a second time. (The watchlist spam alone I get from this must have wasted tens of hours of my time.) What I'm envisiging here is that if Enterprise makes bad decisions then I am faced with a shitshow of editors spending inordinate amounts of time manually marking the first n sentences of an article within the span of {{API summary}} or adding {{API topic|Arts and entertainment}} to the bottom of the article or some other templates so weird I can't a priori work out what they would be.

I have also seen others raising this concern but don't think I've yet seen an answer to whether the WMF is guaranteeing that no reader donations will be spent on this project, and money can instead come from Big Tech customers paying upfront? Otherwise, how will you stop the joke from being on you if you pitch things to Big Tech companies and they say, "no, the data is already free so we'll get someone else to do this for cheaper"? — Bilorv (talk) 07:19, 29 March 2021 (UTC)

So I would imagine that an initial sum has, and will be, spent on this - otherwise it could never exist (although, I suppose, that the cost for work to date will be less than the amount Big Tech donated in the last fiscal year) Nosebagbear (talk) 10:34, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
Sure, and there's a sum that's spent if a WMF employee replies to this comment, say, (and I hope one will) because that employee is paid and hopefully only works the hours they are paid for (though such an idea is alien to many Americans and many tech companies). I guess I want it to be the case that reader donations will not be spent on the project once it has been launched (the "April 2021 & Beyond" of File:Wikimedia Enterprise timeline (2020-21).png), rather during the viability/research/whatever you call this phase. — Bilorv (talk) 13:29, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
Dear Bilorv,
With regards to the question of a commitment of volunteer labor being unaffected:
I think the best place I can point you for declarations of "commitments" is the principles list, here: Wikimedia Enterprise/Principles. The most relevant are "Consistency with mission, vision, and values" and also "no editorial influence". However, they are probably not specific enough for the particular concern/circumstance that you're referring to. So, perhaps a more appropriate description for your needs is on the FAQ page, in the answer to the question "Will it directly affect Wikimedia content?". The answer is no. This API's content is the same content that is already publicly visible on Wikimedia projects - it just takes that content, formats it in a way that is easy and consistent for downstream-use, and sends it to them. Just like the way that the existing APIs have always done - they do not change the website itself. The major reusers of Wikimedia content can (and already do) use it in many ways - it is freely-licensed content after all. Sometimes Wikimedia content being featured prominently in the products of other organisations causes spikes of attention back on the sites - e.g. a special 'on this day' search engine logo which draws sudden attention to a particular Wikipedia article (and therefore might increase the rate of vandalism on that page). However, that is not the responsibility/fault of the API. I hope that answers your question sufficiently. The 'short description' precedent you raised is not a relevant comparison, because "how Wikipedia is displayed on different browsers" (including on mobile) is an internal question, not a downstream decision by a company reusing Wikipedia in their own services.
With regards to the question of who pays the initial investment costs:
When you own something, and you paid for its creation, gets to make the decisions and define the operational principles. The startup investment in this project comes from the Wikimedia Foundation, under the direction of the Board of Trustees, and so consequently the operational principles are determined for the good of the movement. To have outsourced the financing of this [even IF that was actually possible, which is a different question] would have been to also outsource the oversight and design control. Something which would not be appropriate in my opinion. The whole reason we can even have these open conversations about what is appropriate principles etc. is because the investment in building this is an in-house thing. And yes, as to your point about no reader donations being spent after it is launched: on the aforementioned Principles page is the statement "Financial independence. The operation of Wikimedia Enterprise activities will be self-funding."
Sincerely, LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 15:30, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the response, LWyatt (WMF), very detailed answer. This does address everything I raised and all seems reasonable, at least in theory. — Bilorv (talk) 16:33, 29 March 2021 (UTC)


Was there any notification to Wikimedians? I am asked as an editor of wiki projects about this and I don't know anything about it. At the same time, mass media writes about it like here (in the Czech language). --Juandev (talk) 09:20, 16 April 2021 (UTC)

What is appalling about this article is that it repeats the old counterfactual myth that Wikimedia is short of money. It says, "The result is an annual budget squeeze, even though it is the 13th most visited site in the world, according to's economic rankings. It is run by volunteers, but the infrastructure and maintenance are expensive." There is no "annual budget squeeze". Reporters just imagine there must be, because they see fundraising banners which are designed to elicit pity for a worthy organisation apparently under threat, and shame about not paying for a product designed to be free, and then write about this "budget squeeze" as though it were a fact. But as per the table above, the Wikimedia Foundation has increased its assets by some $200 million over the past five years (net asset rise of around $100 million, endowment close to $100m and due to reach or surpass that figure this year, plus money in Tides Advocacy). You should ping the journalist, Juandev, and point them to this page. --Andreas JN466 10:05, 16 April 2021 (UTC)
Well, I am not pointing "squeeze budget", I am pointing Wikimedia Enterprise goals. Juandev (talk) 11:06, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
Dear Juandev,
While the details in that article you linked are quite accurate (generally), I find the headline to be one of the worst I've seen... I am aware of over 170 news articles in many languages which have reported about this project in the last month - but that is one of the most 'clickbait' titles of them all [at least in translation]! Usually, the author of the title is not the same as the journalist who writes the article; and the article itself does include many of the important facts - e.g. that it is not mandatory, that it is not exclusive... What it does not mention is that: this project is about creating a new API for the specific needs of these types of companies (for which they will pay for the creation and use) and that it is not selling the content itself. The content is and always was freely-licensed. The existing APIs (and database dumps etc etc are not changing).
Just over 1 month ago, I published an essay on the "diff" blog, here: On the same day I also published announcements on various global-scope Wikimedia mailing lists (including Wikimedia-l, Wikitech-l, otrs-admins), message boards on-wiki (including Meta Forum), and on social media channels (including Telegram, Discord). All of these pointed to the newly rewritten documentation on this page (and associated subpages like the FAQ, and the documentation page). I am aware of several individual language Wikipedias which also discussed this on their own 'village pump' [or equivalent name] where I also participated - including Russian, French, German, and English.
On the same day, an article was published in WIRED by Noam Cohen, which referred to all that documentation: Nearly all the media articles I mentioned earlier are variations on the WIRED article - taking the same news story and rewriting it for their own website/newspaper's style (including translating it). Very often, those variations (including this story) are more sensationalised, more simplified, and less accurate. Unfortunately.
As to your specific question: general information about where this project was discussed in the past, there is an answer on the FAQ page, here: Wikimedia_Enterprise/FAQ#Where_has_this_previously_been_discussed. In that text it refers to how this specific project has its specific origins in two of the Movement Strategy recommendations, but that the concept of an API for the specific needs of commercial users has been discussed (and a previous service existed) as far back as at least 2004. Perhaps I should also update that section with some of this information I have just written here–indicating where the "announcement" of this new documentation was made. In several of those individual language Wikis there were concerns raised that their language Wiki wasn't specifically notified about this project (and I assume that this is also the frustration expressed by your friend). Unlike the Universal Code of Conduct, and the WMF Board election processes, this project is not directly affecting editors and is not language-specific. Therefore it would not be feasible, or useful, to mass-message every community to notify everyone about it. This documentation page (and associated Phabricator tickets etc) have existed on Meta for almost a year now - and many people who were specifically interested/affected were indeed consulted directly.
It will almost certainly be too late by the time you read this message, but right now (from when I publish this), the Wikimedia Enterprise team are hosting our April edition of public "office hours", which anyone is welcome to join. You can find the login details - and the video from the two events from March - at the top of the main page Wikimedia Enterprise. Moreover, as it is also stated at that documentation: We are very happy to hold extra "office hours" calls, at a time and technical platform of your choosing, with any community group that wants to talk with us. I have previously given a briefing about this project to the WM-CZ director Klára Joklová (along with all other Chapter directors). So, If you and your friend would like, I am sure that we can arrange a video conference call with the CZ (or even the CEE) community specifically on this topic.
I hope this answer was useful for you and your friend, and I hope you will follow-up with me with any specific questions or comments about this project (and its documentation) that you have. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 15:00, 16 April 2021 (UTC)
Dear ̊Juandev and Liam,
Sure, WMCZ has disseminated information both among its members and the whole community, through its communication channels. But we do not have the reach of the national media, of course, and the headline is very catchy. Discussions took place on several fronts. We are also always available for comments and questions from all community members. All the best. Klára Joklová (WMCZ) (talk) 13:15, 19 April 2021 (UTC)

Will this strengthen existing monopolies?Edit

Liam, I remembered that this topic first came up in a mailing list discussion in early 2016, kicked off by a post from User:Peteforsyth. Lila explained the thinking of the board then. I honestly couldn't remember what I'd said at the time but on checking found it was this:

What is vitally important ... is that no one should be able to buy a better service just because they are rich. That would just slant the playing field in favour of the existing giants and suppress competition.

That would be an evil thing to do.

Now it seems to me that although the page overleaf pays lip service to the above idea, saying ...

As this idea developed, it became clear there is a responsibility to democratize our data for organizations that do not possess the resources of these largest users, to ensure we are leveling the playing field and helping to foster a healthy internet without reinforcing monopolies. The benefits of such a service shouldn't just be for startups or alternatives to the internet giants, but also for universities and university researchers; archives and archivists; along with the wider Wikimedia movement.

... the outlined plan is actually doing the exact opposite, and is doing what I feared might happen five years ago – because as the essay portion goes on to say ...

Use of this offering will not be required for for-profit content reuse; companies can continue to use the current tools available at no cost.

Similarly, the FAQ says,

All Wikimedia content is available under free licenses and can be used by anyone for any purpose. That will not and cannot be changed. The Enterprise API service is a new method of delivering that content at a volume and speed designed specifically for the needs of major for-profit organizations that are already using Wikimedia content commercially. The Enterprise API is selling the service of this new method of access, but it does not stop anyone (including those potential customers) from using the existing free methods of access.

So this does envisage a two-class society, then, does it not, where those who are wealthy will be able to buy a preferential service that will give them an inherent competitive advantage over new players entering the field. Am I wrong? --Andreas JN466 13:37, 17 April 2021 (UTC)

Yes that could happen. And these problems rose from the fact, that you want to build a for-profit project is a non-profit project. The fact that someone is paid and others not is a nice way to a conflict in the community or at least strange taste in the mouth of volunteer contributors, the reason why some may leave. We heard it from WMF not to do it, it will damage your volunteer community, and now WMF is doing that itself.Juandev (talk) 12:05, 18 April 2021 (UTC)
Rather than building a two-class society, I would argue that what we currently have one.
At present, only the very largest of the commercial sector has the internal resources to build their own bespoke workflows for Wikimedia content: accessing at the necessary speed/scale, ingesting to their system, parsing for their needs, and integrating with other data sources - to deliver to their customers (the public, or other companies). I refer to my comment earlier today on another thread: To explicitly ignore those commercial use-cases, would be to deny that commercial re-use is a valid form of knowledge dissemination and an important vector for our vision of making knowledge maximally available. Nevertheless, and to a large degree, we are at present ignoring these use-cases. The very largest organisations each build their own fragile and highly esoteric workflows for ingesting our content. This does a disservice to the eventual readers - because these workflows often break, or are slow to update...[This is a factor in why vandalism can sometimes stay visible in search results long after it is removed from our sites] For less-large companies these workflows are too difficult to set-up and maintain which restricts the number of companies (and therefore people) who can access our content.
As I'm sure you've seen, the Enterprise Principles page notes that there will be no "exclusive" contracts or content – thus, whatever is in the feed for company A will also be available for their competitors. [It will also be available in the freely-accessible fortnightly database dumps.] Rather than heightening disparities, it will provide a "levelling" effect – smaller companies will be able to access the same enterprise-grade SLA and customer support standard as their larger competitors, at an appropriate price for their use. Moreover, none of that data will be "different" than what is available in the existing publicly available information – there is no special magic sauce that removes vandalism... The content is free (Gratis and libre) - it is only this specific extra delivery mechanism and the contractual guarantees that it is supported to their scale of need, which they are paying for.
All of this, plus the extra fact that the Enterprise team is also working with Wikimedia Technical Engagement to add free community support through the cloud services platform by June 2021, means that - in support of the sentiment you expressed - the access to the content remains unrestricted to everyone and the access to this specific service can accommodate any legitimate users' financial circumstances without prejudice. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 00:35, 19 April 2021 (UTC)
This might work if the charges decrease disproportionately for smaller users (so someone with one-fifth of the volume, say, pays less than one-fifth of the price, and someone with a tiny volume pays nothing). Could you share the way prices will be mathematically related to use (or usage volume)?
Your reply surprised me in one respect: you say "smaller companies will be able to access the same enterprise-grade SLA and customer support standard as their larger competitors, at an appropriate price for their use." This seems to imply that you envisage many customers, large and small, paying for the service. But the page overleaf says, Any financial benefit for Wikimedia would likely only come from a very small handful of heavy for-profit users. Could you clarify? --Andreas JN466 07:17, 19 April 2021 (UTC)
The specific pricing for the 'small to medium enterprise' sector is currently being developed, but it is not the top priority for the moment: getting the product actually built and launched is :-) For the very large organisations the pricing will be negotiated directly. For the smaller organisations it will be more of a 'menu'. The kinds of options on that menu are listed in the FAQ at "What is in the contracts?".
I agree that the word "any" in the quote you refer to gives an impression that all the profitable revenue will come from "big tech". Instead, what I meant to imply is that a) that the biggest orgs are the first priority sector, and b) that they will represent the majority of the profitable revenue. Nonetheless, the intention is to also build the service (with a pricing model to match) to also meet the needs of other sizes of commercial organisation. As it says in the FAQ "Who will be the "customers"?" the project is being initially designed for the largest orgs. I will change/edit the phrase "Any financial benefit..." on the main page to say "Most financial benefit..." instead. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 09:19, 19 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks. I hope that companies that don't track their users to hell and high heaven will be given preferential rates to enable them to compete in this market, despite their lower income per user. User privacy is a much-advertised movement value; this should be reflected in the pricing arrangments, don't you agree? --Andreas JN466 10:43, 19 April 2021 (UTC)
While the specifics of contracts with individual customers - and especially financial comparisons between customers - will not be published, you can nonetheless rest assured that we're proactively working with some of the kinds of organisations that you're talking about. "Watch this space" for when we do the actual product launch and first customer announcements [fingers crossed]. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 14:33, 19 April 2021 (UTC)

Long feeling...Edit

I quote from the main page "There has long been a feeling among community members that these companies should do more to reinvest in the Wikimedia communities...". Whose feeling is that? There was a pool on that, or is that a feeling presented at some meeting? Juandev (talk) 11:25, 18 April 2021 (UTC)

The word "feeling" is not intending to represent a scientific, or officially accounted position, you are correct. Rather, it is effectively referring to the details described here in the FAQ: "Where has this previously been discussed?". The first paid-API, the Wikimedia update feed service, was created in 2004 and decommissioned in 2014. Over the years, there have been various conversations (on public channels like mailing lists and casual conversations) by various people (volunteers, chapters, staff, WMF Board, the media...) on how and whether the commercial-sector can, should, or could support the Wikimedia movement financially. That will have predated that 2004 project too. One of the most "publicly visible" versions of that conversation was in the media around 2018 when several stories were published like this: Are corporations that use Wikipedia giving back? Companies rely heavily on Wikipedia for information, but it's not always a two-way street - TechCrunch. Similar conversations appear every time there is a publicised donation from a big-tech company.
The purpose of the sentence that you quoted was not to try to quantify "a feeling" or use it something deliberately vague to justify a strategic choice - but instead its purpose is to note that this conversation is not new. It has been discussed for a long time. LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 00:00, 19 April 2021 (UTC)

Office HourEdit


I can not participate in the Office Hour. There I was asked to enter a Meetingcode but I dont know this Code. I thoungt that the Meeting hour is on today at 15 o-clock UTC. It was as far as I remember more or less exactly 15 o-clock UTC, 17 o-clock CEST when I clicked on the link. Does the Office hour happen today. --Hogü-456 (talk) 15:14, 21 May 2021 (UTC)

Hello Hogü,
I’m sorry you were not able to join the call. Perhaps I created the settings incorrectly? It should not have required a code, There is a ‘lobby’ that people are in until the moderator (me) can adds them to the video call. We were there, at that time, but obviously something went wrong because no one else joined - perhaps other people had the same problem?
We will have another call next month at the usual time (and I will double-check the settings!). However, in the mean time, did you have any specific questions or things you wanted to get an update about? You can also email me and I am happy to call with you, at a time of your preference, in a different video platform!
- LWyatt (WMF) (talk) 20:05, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
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