Where can I find information about the Foundation?
Current information about the Foundation can be found in this newsletter, on the dedicated mailing list , on the Wikimedia Meta-wiki , and at the Foundation's website  (in progress)
How many people make up the Board of Wikimedia?
There are five members, including Jimmy Wales, the founder and chair of Wikimedia. Angela Beesley (secretary) and Florence Devouard (vice chair) are the two elected representatives. Michael Davis is the Board's treasurer and works on Wikimedia's financial matters (see Finance). Last member is Tim Shell,who participates actively in the English Wikipedia, and is often found on the #wikimedia IRC channel.
How does the Board communicate among its members?
Board activities are recorded on the Wikimedia Meta-wiki , and will in the future be on the Wikimedia Foundation's site . Communication takes place via email, also through the foundation-l mailing list, which is open to the public and publicly archived. Members of the board also frequent the #Wikimedia IRC channel on freenode , where they can be reached for a quick response. While 3 Board members are frequently present on IRC at the same time (the quorum required for a proper Board meeting), these are generally not official meetings.
There have been a few active meetings of board members over the summer. On July 4, 2004, Jimmy, Angela and Anthère met in Paris (summary: ).
Later that month, there was a meeting to discuss the creation of an official foundation website at www.wikimediafoundation.org; many took part in the discussion, including Angela, Anthère, Mav and Tim Starling (summary and results: ).
There was also a quick ad-hoc meeting on September 5 about the creation of a database for a tentative Wikispecies project, to let its enthusiasts discuss what they want it to become. All but one of the board members convened for around 20 minutes to discuss this (summary: ).
Do Jimbo, Tim and Michael dominate Board decisions?
To date, Tim and Michael have played a minimal part in board discussion and decisions, and there is no plan to change this. In order to ensure that the community voice is real, Jimbo has pledged as a matter of convention never to vote against Angela and Anthere unless he feels it is an issue of absolutely fundamental change of direction for the project -- which is not likely to happen, since Angela, Anthere and Jimbo share the essential values of the community and the project. So as a pratical matter, power is in the hands of the two democratically elected board members on most issues, and Jimbo defers to that.
How many board decisions are made by vote?
We prefer to discuss things, find proposals that we can all agree on, make compromises to accomodate each other where necessary, and reach agreement. Al informal votes taken have been unanimous.
Does the Board record or publish their activities anywhere?
Most of the time we discuss things on #Wikimedia IRC channel on freenode. On this channel, everyone is free to not only follow board deliberation but to participate to the discussions and help us to make decisions. Logs of planned meetings IRC meetings, such as the one regarding the Foundation website, are published on Meta and the Foundation wiki, along with summaries of other meetings. However we also meet in private channels or exchange private mails as well. It's important for us to be able to speak freely, to think out loud, without people taking speculative comments and thoughts as being new policy or set-in-stone decisions. We hope our activities are visible through this newsletter, board meeting minutes, official announcements on the mailing lists and the Wikimedia website.
What are the official positions and committees?
Mav is responsible for finances, with the oversight of the Board treasurer, Michael Davis. Mav is, in particular, in charge of establishing our budget (), and of balancing out books ().
Tim Starling is the liaison between the Board and our group of developers. Developer activity falls into two main areas: server maintenance anddevelopment of the MediaWiki software (also used for many non-Wikimedia applications).
Tim Starling is setting up a Developer Committee ). This committee will be made up of the most active developers and, among other things, will help formalize a method for reaching development decisions (the direction of future development, definition of necessary purchases, processing of certain requests, &c).
There are no other official committees proper, but there are important groups like committees which form naturally, particularly relating to public relations and grants. Danny Wool is our grant coordinator. For other suggested committees, see .
How can I become a member of the Foundation?
Everyone who is an active participant in one of the Wikimedia projects is automatically a volunteer member of the Foundation. Volunteer members and other project supporters will be encouraged to become contributing members this
fall; this will entail paying membership dues.
Discussion in July regarding membership dues led to the following proposal:
- Becoming a contributing member will cost 60 USD (or the equivalent), and does not require being an editor of a Wikimedia project. Volunteer members may become contributing members for 6 USD, but are encouraged to pay the normal fee if they can. Members can choose how they wish a portion of their fee to be used (for instance, "30 dollars should be used only for hardware purchases").
There will be no obligation to pay dues: adding to and benefiting from projects will always be free. Contributing money is nothing more than an additional way of helping the project. The full proposal may be found on Meta at ; other questions about membership are answered in the Membership FAQ. See also .
Is Wikipedia planning to have ads?
Wikimedia does not plan to allow advertising on Wikipedia or any of its sister projects in the foreseeable future. We believe that suitable grants and donations from the public will provide for a secure future without the need for advertisements. There are others ways as well to gather money, such a grants, prizes, gifts from our mirrors, donations of hardware etc... Running ads would likely raise money, but possibly lower other sources of revenus, in particular donations, plus possibly upset some editors.
I hear developers are being paid now. Is it true?
In July 2004, the Wikimedia developers were polled about the feasibility of a bounty system for development tasks. The motivation for this was to improve the guidance of development in certain directions (for instance, by offering payment for developing certain software features). The results of the poll can be found at .
Working closely with the Developer Committee, we will be trying out a system of payment and other rewards for developers who choose to work on particular tasks. This will be a four-month trial run, after which we will step back and evaluate whether it was successful.
The proposed system allows for anyone to request new features, and for any developer to propose their own terms for filling a feature request. The developer committee will advise the Board about the feasibility and usefulness of requests and offers, and the Board will make the final decisions to accept or refuse offers for requested work.
Details of the trial run are available at . All Wikimedia contributors will be encouraged to evaluate it when it is over.
Discussions with potential collaborators have heated up this year. External projects interested in working with Wikimedia projects include Project Gutenberg (Wikisource), OpenTextBook and Free High School Science Texts (Wikibooks), and Open-Media (the newly-started Wikimedia Commons). On July 1, some german Wikipedians met with the Brockhaus new media group to get to know one another. At the end of August, Jimmy and Angela met with people from the BBC new media division at to talk about Wikipedia, opening possibilities of collaboration with them.
Some collaborations have already been realized, starting in May of this year, when Yahoo! invited Wikipedia to become part of its content acquisition program. A data feed of the list of new pages was provided to them to ensure up to date search results of Wikipedia's content; in June, statistics from Yahoo! suggest this provided over 2 million visits, a quarter of our total, with slightly less traffic since then. Other collaborations with individual content distributors have yielded the most physical results: two major CD and DVD distribution efforts are being realized this fall.
By the end of September, the German company Directmedia Publishing [DMP]  will put out a CD-ROM of the German Wikipedia. It will contain a partly cleaned up snapshot from September 1, and will contain an ISO-image and the SQL-dump. 30,000 CD-ROMs will be sent by DMP to registered customers, for free. Another 10,000 CD-ROMs will be given to book shops as freebies, or to sell for not more than 5€.
Directmedia Publishing have published some 180 electronic books in the last 10 years focusing on social sciences, lexicons, and image collections.
Mandrakesoft (producer of their own flavor of Linux) will release a DVD containing a bilingual snapshot of the French and English Wikipedia, with an upcoming version of Mandrake Linux. Mandrakesoft has produced one of the most popular and user-friendly Linux distributions for many years.
The intensive work to tag images and lists in preparation for these publications, long overdue, has provided quality improvement to the Wikipedia projects involved. The image-tagging effort on the English encyclopedia, which involves classifying 50,000 untagged images, is ongoing; please help this effort at .
Other Offers and Invitations
Wikimedia has standing offers of free hosting from a webhost in France, where three new squids have recently been set up. There were other offers of free hosting as well, particularly while making contingency plans for the first Florida hurricane, in late August.
1180 individual PayPal donations have been made to the Foundation between the start of the year and 31 August, yielding US$46,600 (non-U.S. Currencies converted using current exchange rates), a daily average of $190. Over half that amount ($29,800) was collected in July and August mostly during an unofficial donation drive only on the English Wikipedia.
In May, the Prix Ars Electronica awarded Wikipedia their Golden Nica for Digital Communities, an award which came with a 10,000 Euro grant with no strings attached .
Many grants were considered for application during the summer of 2004, and many hours were devoted to an NEH grant  for projects in the humanities which looked promising. Histories of Wikimedia were summarized, a detailed description and budget were written for the proposed humanities project, and biographies of contributors interested in staffing the project were gathered. The application was not sent in, in the end, for lack of sufficient time. However, the text about Wikimedia which was produced, and the experience gained in writing about specific projects, will be useful in future applications this fall.
Donations from July and August plus money raised in late December (during and immediately following a major server crash and downtime) was used to purchase over $60,000 ([NOTE: not a finalized figure) worth of new hardware (see  and ).
It's been an exciting year so far on the technical side. We started with two servers in California and an Alexa rank of 900 . In February the site moved to Florida and nine new servers. Three more servers from a May order entered service in early June and a fourth, the fast and sexy database server Ariel, followed at the end of the month. After each upgrade, the number of people using the site rose to fill the available capacity of the new servers. As of the start of September, eight more web servers from an August order are in service, and search and file servers are awaiting installation.
Today Wikipedia.org routinely ranks consistently in the top 500 English language sites in Alexa's rankings , and is steadily increasing its reach. In June we saw almost a million edits. So far we have managed to avoid the really slow performance we saw at the end of 2003; thanks to those whose donations have made it possible to keep up.
May saw the introduction of version 1.3 of the MediaWiki software, with improved templates, categories, a new site skin and improved language support. Edit conflict handling improved significantly. Version 1.4, due in a few months, will include better database load balancing, assorted speed improvements, preliminary support for PostgreSQL as a database engine and tools to help with article reviewing.
Entering service soon will be the first hardware outside the United States, a three server Squid cache set in Paris, serving pages to those in parts of Europe, so many viewers there will not need to wait for most pages to come from Florida. Once we have that working well we expect to do the same in other places, as offers of hosting allow.
The new developer committee will be working to keep up with the growth and illustrates the international nature of the technical team, with members from six countries.
There are six active Wikimedia projects:
- Wikipedia (1 million articles in 100 languages, 150,000 images, 25,000 contributors, 800,000 visits/day)
- Wiktionary (70000 articles in 20 languages, 500 contributors, 800 visits/day)
- Wikibooks (5000 modules in 250 books and 15 languages, 300 contributors)
- Wikiquote (2500 articles in 6 languages, 100 contributors)
- Wikisource (4000 pages in 30 languages, 100 contributors)
- Meta (1500 articles in 30 languages, 1000 contributors)
There are a few other projects either newly-created or waiting for further development:
- Memorial Wiki - currently only a 9/11 memorial; ~200 pages.
- Wikicommons - set up in September, to jumpstart a long-awaited project to keep shared media such as images and sound files in a single language-independent repository
- Wikispecies - set up in September, while the contributors work out what they want the project to be, and how they want to store species data.
Summer meetings of Wikipedians
On the occasion of Jimmy Wales's trip to Europe, many meetings took place, notably in London, Berlin, Paris, and Genova. A report on the Paris meeting follows in the International section, and more details are available at .
There were some great photo opportunities at the Prix Ars Electronica awards ceremony in Manhattan in May, when Danny received the Golden Nica award for Digital Communities, on behalf of everyone. At the end of the summer, in the first week of September, there was the big Ars Electronica Festival, which many european Wikipedians attended; Jimmy showed up for that and gave a presentation there.
On September 1, Angela and Jimmy visited the BBC in London. They met during the day with a group including some H2G2 staff, to present Wikipedia to them and discuss wikis in general. Later that evening, Angela gave a presentation to a group of people at a pub called Oyster.
There was a major press release issued this spring, commemorating the 500,000th Wikipedia article (counting all languages together), which was picked up by many local and online news publications. Another is being released this month, commemorating the one millionth article .
In May and June, following our winning of the community awards from both the Prix Ars Electronica and the Webby Awards, there were a number of interviews with Jimmy and articles about Wikipedia, most famoulsy his interview on Slashdot ().
For quotes from articles about us, see "In the Press", pg. 6.