Wikimedia Foundation Report, March 2011

Global unique visitors for February:
379 million (-8.3% compared to previous month / +9.9% compared to previous year)
(comScore data for all Wikimedia Foundation projects; comScore will release March data later in April)
NB: Drop is caused by shorter number of days in February; comScore does not normalize the data.
Page requests for March:
15.1 billion (-2.5% compared to previous month / N/A for accurate previous year comparison)
(Server log data, all Wikimedia Foundation projects including Wikipedia mobile)
Report Card for February 2011:



(Financial information is only available for February 2011 at the time of this report.)

Operating revenue for February: USD 0.2MM vs plan of USD 0.2MM
Operating revenue year-to-date February: USD 19.9MM vs plan of USD 17.1MM

The successful 2010 fundraising campaign has resulted in the Wikimedia Foundation exceeding its revenue targets year-to-date.

Operating expenses for February: USD 1.3MM vs plan of 1.7MM
Operating expenses year-to-date: USD 11.9MM vs plan of 13.5MM

Expenses MTD and YTD are under due to both the timing of capex spending related to the build-out of the data center, as well as to personnel-related expenses, which were under due to slower hiring. Underspending was partially offset by spending in outside contract services and travel.

Cash and investments as of February 2011 totaled USD $20.4MM (approximately 12 months of expenses).


From the March 2011 Update: Retention rate of New Wikipedians (10 completed edits) after one year vs. total number of Active Editors (≥5 edits/month): English Wikipedia

On March 11, 2011, Executive Director Sue Gardner shared a message with the global Wikimedia community focusing on the trends we are seeing with regard to participation in Wikimedia projects, and specifically the retention of new users. This message summarized data from the simultaneously published Editor Trends Study, a project undertaken by Diederik van Liere and Howie Fung under the supervision of Erik Moeller. The Editor Trends Study specifically examined changes in the long-term retention of users newly joining Wikimedia projects. From Sue Gardner's update:

Here’s what we think the Editor Trends Study tells us: Between 2005 and 2007, newbies started having real trouble successfully joining the Wikimedia community. Before 2005 in the English Wikipedia, nearly 40% of new editors would still be active a year after their first edit. After 2007, only about 12-15% of new editors were still active a year after their first edit. Post-2007, lots of people were still trying to become Wikipedia editors. What had changed, though, is that they were increasingly failing to integrate into the Wikipedia community, and failing increasingly quickly. The Wikimedia community had become too hard to penetrate.

Since it was posted, Sue's update has been fully or partially translated into more than 20 languages. The software and data underlying the editor trends study is available to the community as well.

The update also summarized the Wikimedia Foundation's priorities for the year ahead with an eye to this data:

  • Create a visual editor
  • Improve the new user experience
  • Support growth in developing countries
  • Serve audiences on all devices
  • Create an improved experience for contributing and reviewing multimedia

With regard to the product development priorities, a more detailed analysis can be found in the Wikimedia Foundation Product Whitepaper, which summarizes both internal and external trends, presents a full taxonomy of product development opportunities, and justifies product development priorities according to our strategic plan and the overall data:
Chapter and WMF representatives met again in Berlin, this time without volcano interruptions

Chapters, Wikimedia Foundation Staff and Board meet in Berlin


The annual Chapters Conference was held in Berlin from March 25-27. The conference was hosted by Wikimedia Germany and brought together representatives from Wikimedia's 30 chapters and additional groups that are in the formation stage, including South Africa (which became an official chapter on March 27), Canada, Kenya and Chile. WMF had eight staff members in attendance. The conference covered a range of topics including the Editor Trends Study, cultural and educational partnerships, chapter-WMF communications and chapter organizational development.

The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees met in Berlin alongside the Chapters Conference. The meeting was chaired by Ting Chen and attended by trustees Phoebe Ayers, Bishakha Datta, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Matt Halprin, Samuel Klein, Arne Klempert, Kat Walsh and Stuart West, as well as Executive Director Sue Gardner and Executive Assistant James Owen. Jimmy Wales was unable to be in Berlin, but attended part of the meeting via Skype. The agenda for the Board meeting included:

  • An audit committee update (Stu);
  • An update from the Movement Roles working group (Arne);
  • A discussion about the chapters (Ting and Stu);
  • A Board governance update (Matt);
  • A presentation of materials related to the Editor Trends Study and a discussion about Wikimedia's difficulty retaining new editors (Sue);
  • A report from the Controversial Content working group (Phoebe);
  • An update on the community elections (Jan-Bart).

The Board was also able to attend several of the chapters' meeting sessions. There was also a large all-day meeting of the Movement Roles working group, prior to the Board meeting.

The 2009-10 Annual Report cover. The 2009-10 report is the first one that is also available in a wikified version.

2009-10 Annual Report Released


We released the Annual Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. In addition to the print and PDF versions, we have also published the report as a set of wiki pages for easier collaborative improvement and translation. Highlights of the 2009-10 Annual Report include:

  • Usability and multimedia upload initiative
  • Wikimedia's strategic plan goals
  • Wikimania 2009
  • The Hoxne Hoard and British Museum collaboration
  • 2009/10 annual giving campaign

The Annual Report can be found at:



As always, detailed info about the Tech Department's activities for February 2011 can be found at:

mw:Wikimedia engineering report/2011/March

Highlights below:

Developer Community Outreach


Google Summer of Code Submissions


We have received a record number of excellent student proposals for this year's GSoC. Final deadline is April 8th for student registration/submission, and we will be sorting through and accepting proposals as soon as we can after the deadline.

Berlin Hack-a-thon


The good folks at Wikimedia Deutschland are again hosting a Hack-a-thon in May. We will be sending a large contingent of staff engineers and are planning to host discussions about our plans for MediaWiki development. Community members interested in attending should register before April 10 at:



This month we welcomed Ops Engineer Peter Youngmeister, and welcomed back Brion Vibber as Lead Architect:



Data Dumps


Ariel Glenn and other ops staff and community members continued their work to restore and improve data dump services after the failure of the old system in December. The January run of the complete English Wikipedia dumps was completed in March, and the March run was almost completed. We are also working with Google to enable regular mirroring of the most recent dumps to Google storage for download.

New Data Center Buildout


Ashburn Data Center work continues. All machines are racked and cabled and we have been working through configuring the individual servers. We will not be able to switch over to using Ashburn for daily traffic until we get a connection established from Tampa to Ashburn, which we have ordered (but it is taking longer than expected to set up). Meanwhile, we expect to hold a coding sprint on setting up replication/failover for all of our sub-systems during the Berlin Hack-a-thon in May.


A redesigned version of the Article Feedback Tool was released. The new version asks readers to qualify their own knowledge, and invites them to take an action (edit the page, create an account, take a survey) after the submission of the rating.

Article Feedback


The second phase of this feature was released on the English Wikipedia in mid-March. Reviewers can now specify the source of their knowledge, e.g. if they have an academic degree in a related field. Experiments to encourage user engagement are being performed as well. Dario Taraborelli also published an analysis of the first phase experiment. We are currently expanding the scope of the experiment to include several thousand articles, in order to get results that are more statistically meaningful.

Wikilove 0.1


Because many automated patrolling tools and gadgets are focused on making it easy to warn or reprimand users, Ryan Kaldari wrote a user script to facilitate nice behavior between editors. For example, it is now possible, on the English Wikipedia and other wikis, to give a “virtual kitten” to another editor. The script was adapted for use by the Russian and Tamil communities, and Ryan is helping support other communities willing to use it.

Community Features Experiments


Trevor Parscal deployed a change to the placement of the Edit button for section-level edits as a feature experiment. Initial data indicates a dramatic increase in edit actions and a significant increase in edit completions. We're continuing to investigate the data before making a final decision on whether to productize this change.

Media Upload Wizard


The Upload Wizard is a significantly improved media uploading tool for Wikimedia Commons. Neil Kandalgaonkar and Ryan Kaldari continued to fix bugs, test functionality, and generally prepared the software for wider usage. Try it here:

General Engineering


Performance Optimization


Tim Starling and volunteer developer Platonides have been working on two great projects designed to enhance MediaWiki performance:

  • PoolCounter - Tim Starling deployed this extension, written by Platonides to control the number of simultaneous parses that happen on a single page (to avoid the “Michael Jackson” effect -- see Brion blogpost and Domas blogpost). It was later disabled because of a bug now fixed; Platonides also added integrated statistics to this tool. We plan a second deployment attempt in April.
  • Ehcache deployment - Tim Starling investigated Wikimedia’s low parser cache hit ratio and suggested an increase in the parser cache size to reduce Apache CPU usage. After researching available options for disk-backed object caches, he selected Ehcache and wrote a MediaWiki client for it. Our test deployments showed promising results, but also surfaced additional problems that we need to sort out.

Research and Strategy


Internal Research Progress


We publicized and explained the results of the Editor Trends Study (see highlights). A paper by Howie Fung and Diederik van Liere describing the results from the Editor Trends study was submitted and is currently under review for the WikiSym 2011 conference.

As a result of the launch of v.2 of the Article Feedback tool in March, we started collecting and analyzing data on rater expertise and calls to action following the rating completion, complementing the previous results on article ratings.

Research Committee Activity


The survey on expert participation in Wikipedia [1] conducted by Wikimedia Foundation Research Committee members Daniel Mietchen, Dario Taraborelli and Panagiota Alevizou was covered by Zoë Corbyn in an article for the Guardian published on March 29, 2011 [2] (and followed by an editorial on April 6 [3]), also featuring interviews with Mike Peel, a postdoctoral researcher at Jodrell Bank Observatory and secretary of the Wikimedia UK chapter, Mark Graham from the Oxford Internet Institute, Paul Goldberg from the University of Liverpool, and Suzie Sheehy from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The survey was also featured in a Slashdot story [4] that generated 385 comments as of April 6. The survey is still accepting participants and will close on April 15.

Research Outreach Initiatives


The preparation for the data competition (in partnership with Kaggle) and the data visualization challenge (co-organized with WikiSym) continued throughout March. The focus of the first data visualization challenge will be on Wikipedia's external impact and both the Foundation and WikiSym are involving a number of organizations to sponsor this competition. A call for contributions for both initiatives will be published in April.




The Community Department made progress on several community organizing and research projects in March.

Wiki Guides Project


With 60 volunteers taking part, the Wiki Guides program continues to be exciting. The program follows and protects new users through their initial days by offering a sheltering and supportive atmosphere. In particular, we have emphasized rescuing articles created by new users. Statistics are being posted on meta, but one early finding shows we have to move very quickly to intervene before the new users lose interest. Each guide is following nearly 100 users. We are analyzing against a control group, and look forward to presenting those results to the community.

OTRS Analysis


Christine is beginning a 360 degree analysis of the OTRS e-mail ticketing system from both a technical and social perspective. She is reaching out to administrators, users, and "customers" to determine whether our current system is sufficient, has glaring needs (such as training or technology), and is appropriately scalable to support growth in India and other areas where readership is rising quickly.

Contribution Taxonomy


Steven Walling and others in the Community Department resumed work on the Contribution Taxonomy Project. The methodology description on Meta has been updated, [1] work began on defining metrics for measuring specific editing activities, [2] and public tracking of the data analysis was added. [3] The community is invited to help refine the metrics, research questions, and help run analyses using the open source "Wikilytics" toolkit developed during the Editor Trends Study. [4]


Account Creation Improvement Project


Fellow Lennart Guldbrandsson continued testing modifications to the account creation experience. Statistics gathered so far show a slight increase in edits made by people creating new accounts as a result of changed user interface messages.



The fundraising team welcomed Josh VanDavier as our permanent Development Associate to support the growth and integrity of our donor database, help prepare for the next fundraiser, and respond to donor inquiries. For a full description of the role:

We also posted several open positions for the next fundraiser that can be seen here:

Chapter and WMF fundraising representatives have started planning a summit to be hosted by WMAT in July to collaborate on the 2011 fundraiser.

Public Policy Initiative


Approximately 1.4 million characters (or about 900 pages) of content were added to the English Wikipedia in March by students participating in the Public Policy Initiative (a project focused on improving articles in the domain of public policy and funded by a grant). With some PPI classes scheduled to start editing Wikipedia articles in April, we will continue to watch the numbers climb. For more information on how the students and classes are doing, check out the new Leaderboard:

LiAnna Davis and Amy Roth successfully presented at the SoTL Conference for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Georgia and drew lots of interest in Wikipedia in Higher Education as well as potential universities to work with next fall. Frank, Rod, and Annie met with Wikimedia chapter members from Germany, the UK and Italy. The three-day meeting was hosted by the German Chapter to discuss Wikipedia in Higher Education and what aspects of PPI could be adapted/modified to work in the various countries.

Fellowship Program


The Wikimedia Fellowship Program now has a public application process posted on Meta. [1] Since its announcement on September 15, 2010, [2] the fellowship program has been experimental, with both the Global Development Department and Community Department engaging with community members on an ad hoc basis. The new process outlines two different kinds of fellows and a public procedure for applying or proposing a fellowship.


Global Development



  • Asaf Bartov joined Global Development as a contractor to work on Global South Relationships.
  • In addition to the chapters conference (see highlights), several Wikimedians including WMF staff participated in Global Melt 2011 in Berlin, an unconference about event organizing in the Open Code/Data/Content movements. We made some promising contacts and hatched some ideas for collaboration with Mozilla, CC, and others.
  • Posted two new positions for the Communications team:

Chapter Relations and Grants

  • Updates to the Grants program were introduced by Asaf and discussed at Wikimedia Conference in Berlin.
  • Outreach materials mini-grants were made available under WMF's grants program.

Grants awarded in March

  • WikiSym Conference (USA): $20,000.00 USD in support of The International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (WikiSym).
  • Wikimedia Ukraine: $6,400.00 USD to help WMUA build up its structural support base in order to sustain the projects which it plans to pursue.
  • Recent Changes Camp 2011 Boston (USA): $1,500.00 USD to support Boston's recent changes camp.
  • Wikimedia Indonesia: Beacon of Theology: $2,400.00 USD to support a 72-day wiki-based writing competition.
  • Launch of a Chapter Organizational consulting pilot initiative to work with Wikimedia Netherlands, Sweden, Czech Republic and Hungary.

Chapter Relations

  • WMF and chapters have been working to ensure that we have chapter agreements in place that help to clarify our relationship and responsibilities. We had 24 of 30 chapter agreements in place at the end of March. Current status here:
  • WMF and the chapters who participate in fundraising continue to have reporting and fund transfer responsibilities. The attached page shows the status of completion of these responsibilities:


  • The 2009/10 annual report was released (see highlights).
  • There was light media activity through March overall, with few major stories or issues breaking headlines.
  • Communications welcomed nine new members to the Communications Committee, including members from the UK, Japan, Hungary, Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea, Cambodia, India, and Egypt.
  • Communications worked to revamp current social media practices to make them more open and inclusive.
  • The IRC channel dedicated to communications discussions has been revived and anyone interested in participating is encouraged to join #wikimedia-comcom on

Major Stories and Coverage


A two-day visit from Fast Company freelancer Karen Valby yielded a large story in the April issue of Fast Company, which was released in March. Valby interviewed WMF ED Sue Gardner, and explored the details of the Wikimedia strategic plan and the history and future of Wikimedia:

There were only three incoming media inquiries in March from the Guardian (UK), Der Freitag (Germany) and Convergance Magazine (Canada)

Other worthwhile reads:

Blogging through February, 2011


Topics of March Blogs included:

  • “How Wikipedia Works” hits our shelves
  • Brion Vibber rejoins Wikimedia Foundation
  • Wikipedia celebrates International Women’s Day
  • Update on Offline Wikipedia Projects
  • Presenting our 2009-10 annual report
  • Welcoming more ubuntu spirit to the Wikimedia movement
  • Campus Ambassador program tackles gender gap



  • Hired external contractor to work with Global Development Research on qualitative field research in India (and then Brazil) on mobile user behaviour to inform future mobile strategy and feature development.
  • Device testing: Analyzed mobile and other Internet connected devices in strategically important global dev regions for user testing.
  • Currently adjusting the focus of relationships with exisiting mobile partners Telefonica and Orange to include greater access to Wikipedia in priority regions of Latin America,the Middle East and Africa.
  • Developing a new affiliate partner program to increase mobile partnerships worldwide. Currently in discussions with multiple companies to test pilots.
  • Soliciting community input on how to balance confidentiality requirements of companies with our culture of transparency and openness.

Editor Survey

  • An editor survey across the Wikimedia sites is scheduled to launch in April with the goal of increasing our understanding of the current state of the editor community. This survey will be repeated regularly to provide us (the Wikimedia movement) with regular feedback from the editor community.
  • The editor survey will be available in 22 languages thanks to the efforts of volunteers Casey Brown and Alex Zariv, the Engineering team and global development staff along with our outside research organization, Resolve Market Research.



Global Education

  • Finalized white paper outlining the benefits of expanding to a global university program (comments would be appreciated):

India Programs


Hisham Mundol visited San Francisco and used the opportunity to conduct intensive face-to-face meetings across functions, with the objective of socialising and detailing the India Plan. Hisham also attended the Chapters Conference in Berlin to engage with other chapters as well as Wikimedia's Board, with the objective of learning from others' experiences and to further sharpen the India Plan.

On the ground in India:

Human Resources


Staff Changes


New (RE)Hire

  • Brion Vibber, Lead Software Architect (Tech) – FT employee


  • Josh VanDavier, Development Associate (Community) – FT Employee


  • James Alexander, Community Fellow (Community) – Temp Full Time

New Postings

  • Storyteller
  • Software Engineer – Community R&D
  • Movement Communications Manager
  • Data Analyst and Researcher
  • Engineering Program Manager – Data Analytics
  • Community Liaison
  • Fundraiser Production Coordinator
  • Design Communications Manager

No Contracts Ended



Vital Stats: Total Employee Count

Plan: 88
Actual: 64
Attrition: 3
Remaining Open positions to fiscal year end: 28

Diversity stats:

  • 64 Total Employees (includes people considered international employees)
  • 42.9% female employees; 6.9% increase from 7/1/10
  • 31.8% ethnic minorities; 5.8% increase from 7/1/10
  • 38.1% foreign nationals; 1.9% increase in U.S. hiring from 7/1/10
  • 43.8% Wikimedians; 1.75% increase from 7/1/10
  • 71.4% have lived abroad; 1.4% increase from 7/1/10

Real-time feed for HR updates: or

Department Updates


During the month of March, the HR team continued building out a more efficient hiring pipeline in collaboration with hiring managers. The goal was to evaluate how to better reach qualified candidates, specifically those who understand the open source movement and particularly the Wikimedia movement. We also had a few conversations with folks outside of WMF to discuss their ideas and suggestions.

The results of this work should start to become apparent when we report out again in April.

Internally, we are continuing to implement OrangeHRM. This is a human resource information system that will make some pieces of HR more efficient by automating some of the more transactional pieces, such as data tracking and internal resource management. The second step will be creating a database behind the job opening process that allows people to apply directly into an internal/secure database, making our hiring process more streamlined and efficient.

We have also been collaborating with the other departments to create the annual plan and budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Finance and Administration

  • Invoiced chapters related to 2010-11 fundraiser participation
  • Presented 2009 Form 990 tax return to audit committee for review and approval
  • Held budget meetings with various departments to begin preparation for 2011-12 annual plan development
  • Hired interim IT Project Manager and set date for Google Apps Migration (April 22-25)
  • Completed search for interim Head of Office Administration (will start April 25)
  • Completed search for interim IT Help Desk positions (started April 4)
  • Received strong WIPO opinion underscoring that the Wikipedia trademark is "widely known around the world for providing information in the field of general encyclopedic knowledge."
  • Started search for Deputy General Counsel (with an emphasis on transactional work).
  • Will sign on to amicus brief in Golan v. Holder, where the Supreme Court must decide whether the Copyright Clause gives Congress authority to take a work out of the public domain.
  • Worked on policies to help guide WMF employees on how to approach content issues.

Visitors and Guests

  1. Anna Sew Hoy (San Jose Museum of Art)
  2. JoAnne Northrup (San Jose Museum of Art)
  3. Victoria Bellotti (PARC)
  4. Dmitry Buslaev (CitizenGlobal)
  5. Eben Moglen (Software Freedom Law Center)
  6. Harshad Gune (Open Source Initiative Board Member)
  7. Ed Bice (CEO of Meedan)
  8. Sebastian Moleski (Board President of Wikimedia Germany)
  9. Heather Ford (former Advisory Board member for WMF and a CC activist)
  10. David Peters (ExBrook)
  11. David Weir (Consultant for Annual report)
  12. Ben Lowenstein and Lee Jacobs (
  13. Michael Lopez (Solid Ground)
  14. Lennart Guldbrandsson (community fellow)
  15. Randy Tan (AV and journalism at San Mateo College)
  16. Sara Godwin (UCSF student for PPI)
  17. Anhika Kline (UCSF student for PPI)
  18. Pamela May (Design Media)
  19. Sarah Hargrave (Hargrave Consulting)
  20. Michael Snow (former Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees)
  21. Latoya Peterson (Social Media Consultant)
  22. Ward Cunningham