About the Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is a non-profit organization registered in the USA, hosting websites known as the “Wikimedia projects”, such as Wikipedia and Wikinews, as well as this website, Meta-Wiki. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees. Its headquarters are in San Francisco, USA. Official information about the Foundation may be found at the Foundation website: wikimediafoundation.org.
The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees manages the foundation and supervises the disposition and solicitation of donations. The Board is the ultimate corporate authority for the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (article IV, sec. 1 of the Wikimedia Foundation bylaws). The current membership list and contact information can be found at Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.
See also the history of the Board of Trustees and a chart illustrating Board seats over time.
The Wikimedia Foundation Board Handbook provides an overview of the role of the Board and its duties. The Foundation wiki holds lists of its past and upcoming meetings (with minutes), and its resolutions.
Channels of discussion
The Wikimedia Foundation is managed thanks to the use of:
- Meta-Wiki for discussion and organisation of all public issues. This wiki is entirely public and editable by everyone and is also multilingual.
- wikimediafoundation.org is the official website of the Foundation. This wiki is entirely public, but editing access is only granted to trusted members of the community. We try to translate pages in several languages. Feedback about this website may be offered here on Meta-Wiki at the Foundation wiki feedback page.
- wikimedia-l is a public mailing list for the community to discuss topics related to the Foundation and its projects.
- internal-l is a non public mailing list, with access restricted to board members and officers.
- private-l is another private mailing list that was also used to discuss technical issues among the Foundation.
- VRTS is a ticketing system that is used by Wikimedia Foundation staff and volunteers to handle emails from the public.
- IRC is for real-time chat with other Wikimedians.
Channels for support
The Wikimedia Foundation manages the following channels for support:
- Trust and Safety Meta page provides an introduction into Trust & Safety work, as well as information about programs, policies, and resources.
- General Trust & Safety inquiries: ca wikimedia.org
- Threats of imminent physical harm (also supporting human rights crisis response): emergency wikimedia.org
- Assessment of child protection concerns: legal-reports wikimedia.org
- Disinformation support inbox for partnering functionaries and local admin teams: drt wikimedia.org
- Human Rights team Meta page provides an introduction into Human Rights work, as well as information about programs, policies, and resources.
- General Human Rights inquiries: talktohumanrights wikimedia.org
What do we spend money on
See our annual reports, monthly reports and financial reports.
Where does the money come from
The Wikimedia Foundation is operated and run using monies raised with fundraising and other donations. For more information, please see the donations page.
In acknowledgement of the diversity of groups contributing to our movement, the Board of Trustees approves recognition of the following models of affiliation with the Wikimedia movement. Affiliates may change from one affiliation status to another, and should prioritize cooperation with one another without hierarchy. If you wish to start an affiliate or are looking for more information about affiliation, you may want to contact the Affiliations Committee.
Movement partners are like-minded organizations that actively support the Wikimedia movement’s work. They are listed publicly and granted limited use of the marks for publicity indicating their support of and collaboration with Wikimedia. Movement partners are not yet being recognized by Wikimedia. More information on future recognition may be obtained from the Affiliations Committee.
National or sub-national chapters
National or sub-national chapters are incorporated independent non-profits representing the Wikimedia movement and supporting movement work globally, focused within a geography. Chapters or national/sub-national organizations use a name clearly linking them to Wikimedia and are granted use of Wikimedia trademarks for their work, publicity, and fundraising.
Thematic organizations are incorporated independent non-profits representing the Wikimedia movement and supporting work focused on a specific theme, topic, subject or issue within or across countries and regions. Thematic or focused organizations use a name clearly linking them to Wikimedia and are granted use of Wikimedia trademarks for their work, publicity and fundraising.
User groups are open membership groups with an established contact person and history of projects, designed to be easy to form. User groups may or may not choose to incorporate and are granted limited use of the Wikimedia marks for publicity related to events and projects.
Wikimedia coordination and projects
Wikimedia Meta-Wiki (this wiki) is a website about the Wikimedia Foundation's projects and coordination.
Main Wikimedia projects
Dictionary and thesaurus
Free content news source
Free textbooks and manuals
Collection of quotations
Free source documents
Free learning tools
Free travel guide
Directory of species
Shared media repository
Free knowledge base
Some project history
- January 15, 2001: Wikipedia launched at Wikipedia.com, separate from Nupedia.
- December 12, 2002: Wiktionary was brought online.
- June 27, 2003: Wikiquote was started on wo.wikipedia.org, which is now used by Wolof Wikipedia.
- July 10, 2003: Wikiquote moves to quote.wikipedia.org and later got its own domain name (wikiquote.org).
- July 10, 2003: The Wikibooks project got its own domain name at textbook.wikipedia.org, later moving to wikibooks.org. See Wikimedia News.
- November 24, 2003: Project Sourceberg (now Wikisource) was officially launched as sources.wikipedia.org. Before that, it was located on ps.wikipedia.org, the Pashto Wikipedia. On December 6, 2003, a vote was held on changing the project's name, and it was renamed to “Wikisource”.
- September 5, 2004: After launching in August 2004, Wikispecies was discussed by the board. It was officially merged to a sister project on September 14, 2004.
- September 7, 2004: The Wikimedia Commons was launched.
- December 3, 2004: After a brief demonstration phase in November, the English beta version of Wikinews became operational. Wikinews is meant to be a free content news source which allows anybody to report news on a wide variety of subjects.
- April 2005: 501(c)(3) non-profit status granted by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service with the NTEE Code: B60 (Adult, Continuing Education).
- November 2005: Wikimedia awarded membership in the World Technology Network.
- June 2, 2006: The Wikimedia Incubator was launched.
- August 15, 2006: Wikiversity's beta phase officially began (English Wikiversity).
- October 30, 2012: Wikidata was launched, the first new Wikimedia project since 2006.
- November 10, 2012: Wikivoyage moved to Wikimedia servers as a beta project, after a discussion on hosting a travel guide project. It was fully launched on January 15, 2013. You can see the Wikipedia article for more information on its pre-WMF days.
The early history of Wikipedia was characterized by much chaos and well-meaning strangeness. Wikipedia Governance was conducted, effectively, by Jimmy Wales (Jimbo) alone, with the assistance of mailing list participants.
The broader mandate of the expanding projects being considered, led to a suggestion in a wikien-l message by Sheldon Rampton:
- I think we should go further still and shoot for the ultimate goal of creating “Wikimedia”. That's media with an “m”. It would use Wiki-style rules to enable public participation in the creation and editing of all kinds of media: encyclopedias and other reference works, current news, books, fiction, music, video etc. Like current broadcast media, it would have differentiated “channels” and “programs”, each with self-selecting audiences. Unlike current media, however, the audience would also be actively involved in creating its own programming, instead of merely passively watching it.
The “wikimedia.org” domain name was purchased by mav in waiting for a Wikipedia/Wikimedia non-profit to come into existence to own it.
On June 20, 2003, Jimmy Wales – who had been operating Wikipedia under the aegis of his company Bomis – announced the creation of the Wikimedia Foundation which was to serve as the parent, non-profit, organization of Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, and other freely licensed wiki projects subsequently added to the “Wikimedia family”. See also the Wikipedia article on Wikimedia: w:Wikimedia Foundation.
The first Board of Trustees composed of Jimmy Wales (Chair), Michael Davis and Tim Shell. In June 2004, the next Board of Trustees was composed of 5 people, Jimmy Wales (Chair), Florence Devouard (Vice Chair), Michael Davis (Treasurer), Tim Shell and Angela Beesley. In 2006, Tim and Angela left the Board, whilst Erik Möller, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Kat Walsh and Oscar van Dillen joined it. In October, Florence Devouard became the Chair of the Board, in replacement of Jimmy Wales, who maintained the role as Chairman Emeritus. The first employees joined the organization in 2005, Danny Wool and Brion Vibber. In 2008, the Board was restructured amongst conflicts with the community, and Jimmy Wales was granted the Founder's seat additionally to the Chairman Emeritus.
The organization took a new turn in summer 2007, when Sue Gardner was hired to serve as interim ED. At that point, the staff consisted of about 10 people, most in the head office in St. Petersburg, Florida and others in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. Most of the committees set up in January 2006 are at this point inactive and abandoned.
In 2007, the Foundation decided to move away from its Florida office. San Francisco was chosen as the destination (Boston was its main competitor). The former headquarters in Florida were closed on January 31, 2008.
The Foundation's San Francisco headquarters were originally at 39 Stillman Street. In 2009, it moved less than a kilometer to 149 New Montgomery Street, and in 2017 to its current location at One Montgomery Tower.
The Board was substantially restructured in April 2008. For more information, see:
- Board Restructure announcement by Vice-Chair Jan-Bart de Vreede
- Board Restructure Questions and Answers
- Board Restructure diagram