Wikimedia Foundation Report, June 2009

ED Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, June 2009

  • Covering: June 2009
  • Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Prepared for: Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

Summary edit

Milestones from June edit

  1. Finalization and approval of the 2009-10 Annual Plan and staff goals
  2. 2008-09 staff performance reviews
  3. Hiring interviews for the Strategy Project

Key Priorities for July edit

  1. Finalization of staff hiring for Strategy Project
  2. Advisory Board member Wayne Mackintosh will visit the Wikimedia Foundation for meetings related to strategy, technology and outreach
  3. Proposals from public relations firms will be reviewed for the 2009-10 communications campaign

This Past Month edit

In June, Facebook overtook the Wikimedia Foundation sites as the fourth-most-popular in the world, with Wikimedia dropping to number five, serving 302 million global unique visitors according to comScore Media Metrix. Currently, the most popular web properties in the world are 1. Google sites, 2. Microsoft sites, 3. Yahoo sites, 4., and 5. Wikimedia sites.

2009-10 Annual Plan edit

In June, following months of consultation and planning, Sue Gardner and Veronique Kessler finalized the 2009-10 Annual Plan and presented it for approval to the Board of Trustees at a special IRC meeting June 16. The Board voted unanimously in support of the plan. The 2009-10 Annual Plan and an FAQ are at:

Strategy Project edit

During June, interviews began for the Strategy Project team. The Wikimedia Foundation received more than 200 applications for the Project Manager position, most from people with project manager experience in for-profit technology companies. Sue, Erik Moeller and Jennifer Riggs interviewed seven candidates for the Project Manager role. More than one hundred people applied for the Facilitator position, including many people with professional backgrounds in facilitation and organizational development, as well as several Wikimedia community members: Sue, Erik and Jennifer interviewed five candidates. More than one hundred people applied for the Research Analyst position. Sue, Erik and Erik Zachte interviewed six candidates for the Research Analyst role. Hiring decisions will be announced by mid-July.

Outreach & Programs edit

During June, Jennifer Riggs and Frank Schulenburg worked with a volunteer team to finalize nearly nine months of preparations for a July Wikipedia Academy staged in partnership with the National Institute of Health. This event is intended to model new strategies for welcoming new editors and sustaining their participation.

Jennifer worked with Sue, Erik Moeller and Veronique to review and evaluate proposals submitted through the Chapters Funding Request process. Twenty-six of thirty proposals received were approved. Recipients will be posting descriptions of their events and lessons learned on Meta, linked from

Sara Crouse and Cary Bass continued to support the Wikimania scholarships committee and coordinate travel bookings for scholarship recipients.

Cary recruited a volunteer team to conduct an analysis of the efficiency, effectiveness and levels of customer service provided through the current OTRS customer service ticket system.

Communications edit

Major coverage during June revolved around the following stories:

1. Keeping news of kidnapping off Wikipedia (June 28): Reports of the freeing of kidnapped NY Times journalist David Rohde by the Taliban in late June drew international coverage, much relating to Rohde's Wikipedia page. News of Rohde's kidnapping had been kept off Wikipedia by Jimmy Wales and other volunteers through careful application of Wikipedia's policies on reliable sourcing and biographies of living persons. Coverage was mostly positive: the intent was applauded, but some onlookers felt it set a worrying precedent.

2. Michael Jackson's death “breaks the internet,” sets a record for Wikipedia (June 26): News of Michael Jackson's death caused traffic to surge on some big sites including Wikipedia, with over one million hits to Jackson's Wikipedia article in a single one hour period.

3. Wired editor and prominent author Chris Anderson apologized following criticisms that his new book "Free" contained unattributed text from Wikipedia (June 25):,0,3226325.story

4. Wikipedia picks green data center (June 23): Significant tech-media coverage of Evoswitch's donation of hosting space for cache servers in Amsterdam.

5. Google News picks up Wikipedia (June 21): Bloggers and media reporters reported that Google News nows includes Wikipedia articles. Google initially tested the technology quietly, but later publicly announced that Wikipedia articles would now appear alongside other news and information results.

6. Wikipedia preps for video (June 19): An MIT Technology review interview with Erik and Michael Dale shed light on the ongoing video editing / uploading development work led by Michael in partnership with Kaltura.

7. Wikipedia turned into a book (June 18, and earlier) Never underestimate the power of an image. Designer Rob Matthews' sculpture creation of a book containing over 5,000 pages based on 473 featured WP articles initially caused a wave of twitter coverage, followed by hundreds of blog posts and considerable conventional media coverage.

8. Scientology row stirs a war on words (June 1): June kicked off with major coverage of the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee decision to block a group of editors associated with the hundreds of Scientology articles on Wikipedia. Some onlookers criticized the decision as censorship, while others lauded it as preserving neutrality on Wikipedia.

During June, the Wikimedia Foundation participated in interviews with Australian daily newspaper The Age (Melbourne, Australia); Newsweek magazine (New York City, USA); the Canadian Press news agency (Ottawa, Canada and Vancouver, Canada); the San Francisco Chronicle daily newspaper (San Francisco, USA); the Washington Post (Washington DC, USA); PR Week Magazine (New York City, USA); National Public Radio (Baltimore, USA); the Toronto Star (Toronto, Canada); The Municipalist (Washington DC, USA); the Courier Post (Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA); the Spanish daily newspaper Publico (Madrid, Spain); Ha'aretz Business (Tel Aviv, Israel); the International Regional Magazine Association; the New York Times (New York City, USA); the Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas, USA); NBC 6 (South Florida, USA); Hot Press Magazine (Dublin, Ireland); NBC News (Miami, Florida, USA); BBC Radio News (London, UK); the Rockford Register Star (Rockford, Illinois, USA); and Human Events (Washington DC, USA).

During June, the Wikimedia Foundation released one press release, announcing its signing of a contract with EvoSwitch, the carrier-neutral data center in Amsterdam that operates fully CO2-neutral. As part of the contract, Evoswitch is providing more than EUR 300,000 of in-kind support in the form of bandwidth and hosting services. Wikimedia will use the Amsterdam site as its HUB for Europe. “Wikimedia Selects Green Data Center EvoSwitch as Internet HUB for Europe.”

Technology edit

The technology department began their month upgrading the search services to allow the Wikimedia Foundation sites to switch in advanced search features such as spelling correction. Previously these advanced features were limited to only a few of the Wikimedia sites. The technology team officially launched the new mobile gate way (, with automatic redirection from the regular website for some popular devices, especially iPhones, for the English Wikipedia.

The release of the Mozilla Firefox 3.5 web browser was an important milestone to improve usability of video and audio in Wikipedia. Thanks to built-in support for the HTML5 <audio> and <video> tags, and the Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis file formats, videos and audio files from Wikimedia project sites can be played without any additional plug-ins. Wikimedia uses the Ogg Vorbis and Theora formats because they are unencumbered by software patents and can therefore be freely used by anyone for any purpose.

In June Steve Kent joined the Wikimedia Foundation team as the Head of Office IT Support. Steve comes to the Foundation with more than 20 years of IT systems management experience. He has been in similar roles with several organizations including: RR Donnelley, Charrette LLC, Communicomp and CMP Media. Steve was most recently the Director of Information Technology for Sandbox Studios located in San Francisco. Once Steve is fully oriented in his new position Ariel Glenn will return to software development on a full-time basis.

The technology team has started to use the tech blog <> more actively to explain and analyze site events and issues, e.g. with regard to the Michael Jackson traffic spike:

Usability edit

The focus of the usability team in June was to continue developing the first release of usability improvements, to collect feedback from the community, and to address any technical or linguistic issues before the production deployment. The feedback from the community was positives and the community took a great part in stabilizing the software. The first release called Acai was deployed to production as one of user preferences to all Wikimedia projects except right-to-left-languages. The support for the right-to-left languages will be available early August. More information about the Acai release:

The design team, Parul Vora and Hannes Tank, put together design concepts and mock-ups for the next round of usability improvements and shared them internally. The concept designs are now shared publicly:

An intensive interviewing and evaluation process took place to fill two software developer positions, however two final candidates fell though at the last stage of hiring.

The work of the usability initiative was described in a blog post on Read Write Web, and the team was interviewed by the Wikipedia Weekly podcast:

Fundraising, Grants & Partnerships edit

During June, the Wikimedia Foundation received 901 donations, with a combined total dollar value of USD 91,693. This brings the 2008-09 year total to USD 5,720,713 in donations, 43% above the full-year target of USD 4,000,000.

Business Development edit

Kul Wadhwa secured five corporate sponsorships for Wikimania 2009, with Telefonica (Premier Sponsor), (Benefactor), Kaltura (Benefactor), Wikihow (Supporter), and Wikia (Supporter).

Legal edit

The Wikimedia Foundation licensing update was implemented in all relevant Wikimedia projects and languages:

Mike worked on completing consolidation of the Wikimedia Foundation's trademark portfolio and providing the portfolio to the international law firm, Squire Sanders. This puts Wikimedia in a better position going forward to negotiate business partnerships and rationalize our handling and licensing of trademarks for non-business partnerships.

Mike is continuing to revise a draft trademark policy pursuant to the Board's April trademark resolution, using the new draft Mozilla trademark policy, which provides expressly for non-commercial partner use of the trademarks, as a model for our own. Mike is continuing to discuss trademark policy generally with Mozilla's in-house counsel with the general aim of creating model standards of trademark policy for free-culture projects.

Finance & Administration edit

After finalizing and receiving Board approval for the 2009-10 Annual Plan, Veronique met individually with each department head to review their approved budget for the upcoming fiscal year. She also worked with Daniel Phelps to solve some challenges related to hiring non-US citizens, and to refine the policy on background checks for contractors. Additionally, Veronique and Daniel finalized and released the first official employee handbook, which was distributed to all staff.

Veronique also worked with KPMG, the Wikimedia Foundation's audit firm, to determine the most appropriate definition of conditional gifts vs. restricted gifts. Veronique also worked with Jennifer on efforts to create the most efficient and financially protected process for the Wikimedia Foundation to provide grants to chapters and community members.

Also in June, all Wikimedia Foundation staff had 2008-09 performance assessment meetings with their immediate supervisors, and finalized their 2009-10 goals.

Conferences and Travel edit

Sue attended a Knight Foundation News Challenge conference at MIT in Boston. Erik attended the Open Video Conference in New York. Ariel attended the Open Translation Tools conference in Amsterdam.