Wikimedia Foundation Report, October 2008

ED Report to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, October 2008

  • Covering: October 2008
  • Prepared by: Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation
  • Prepared for: Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

My Current Priorities

  1. Planning for Bangalore and Davos trips
  2. Finalization of staff goals and performance check-ins
  3. Planning for development of the strategic plan
  4. Ongoing major donor solicitation and stewardship, foundation proposal follow-up
  5. Bits and pieces (all-staff meeting, CPO recruitment, Wikimania 2008 postmortem, office space revamp, Board Nominating Committee, etc.)

This Past Month


Board Meeting


The Board met the first weekend of October at the WMF offices in San Francisco, with all Board members in attendance. During the meeting, the Board reviewed and approved the Gift Policy and Privacy Policy. As always, these are posted at:

Treasurer Stuart West presented an update on the audit, informing the Board that the audit is progressing much more quickly than last year, and that the Board will receive the financial statements within a few weeks. Vice-Chair Jan-Bart de Vreede made a presentation on Open Standards and a discussion was held about file formats.

Discussions were also held about Advisory Board and Board development, and the formation of sub-national chapters. Erik Moeller gave updates and answered questions regarding Wikimedia's technology priorities, and the online fundraiser. Minutes from the July meeting were approved.

The minutes of the October meeting will be approved and published following the next board meeting, in January.

Fundraising & Grants


Extensive work was done by all departments on fine-tuning the various components of the Annual Campaign in preparation for the launch the first week of November:

  • Further testing and development of the CiviCRM donor database, including e-mail capabilities – for the first time, we've got automated e-mail thank yous set up for all donors
  • Development of campaign management tools for sitenotice deployment, such as scheduling and weighting of different sitenotices
  • Lining up external support by design and PR firms; producing the first sitenotices; developing audio PSAs
  • Identifying core messages that need to be translated and coordinating volunteer translations
  • Streamlining and documenting all fundraising related procedures, such as donor thank-yous
  • Developing a fundraising agreement between WMF and the chapters which want to participate in the online fundraiser
  • Investigating historical PayPal data that hasn't been imported into the database
  • Inviting past $1000+ donors to make leadership gifts prior to the beginning of the 2008 fundraiser.

For the first time, the online fundraiser is led and coordinated by a dedicated staff member, Rand Montoya.

We followed up on leads from the Funders' Briefings in September, including people who could not attend the briefings.

There were 935 donations made in the month of October for a total of USD 65,503.32



Frank Schulenburg worked with the Argentinian chapter to finalize plans for the first Wikipedia Academy in Buenos Aires, to be held in early November. Frank also spoke at the FSCONS conference in Gothenburg, Sweden and supported Wikimedia Germany's Zedler Medal article writing award as well as the Quadriga Award ceremony.

Frank also participated in a dedicated meeting/conference where the current state of Wikimedia was discussed among Wikipedians and academics:

Sue spoke at conferences in Florida and Germany, and met with the Knight Foundation in Florida.

SOS Children UK, in coordination with the Wikimedia Foundation, released a complete 2008/9 revision of the Wikipedia Selection for Schools, which is perhaps the most successful "checked content" project derived from the English Wikipedia.



We welcomed two additions to the technical staff: Trevor Parscal, who will work as a software developer, and Ariel Glenn, who will do development work but also help with technical support for the San Francisco office.

Thanks to a volunteer, Robert Stojnic, and the deployment of new search servers, we've enabled new search features, limited to the English Wikipedia for now:

We've also enabled the PediaPress technology on all Wikibooks wikis. It allows wiki-to-PDF export, wiki-to-ODT export, and print-on-demand delivery of collections of pages. Pending further review, usability and scalability improvements, we hope to deploy it on Wikipedia and our other projects soon. This work is funded in part by the Open Society Institute and the Commonwealth of Learning:

Brion has led development of a code review tool, which was deployed and has seen rapid adoption, localization and improvement. The tool allows MediaWiki developers to add comments and tags to code changes through a web-based interface:

Thanks to new dedicated hardware, the database dumps were restarted for all languages. The English Wikipedia full-history dump continues to be prohibitively slow; we're exploring solutions for this. Dump status is visible here: Concise summary:

We continued consolidation of our infrastructure to Ubuntu, and this process received some media attention, including a widely quoted Computer World story:

Erik and Michael Dale attended the Open Media Conference at Yale University:

Rob has led the process of consolidating and tracking our domain name registrations. We also continued our build-out of infrastructure in a new data-center in Tampa, and we started to gradually phase in new Sun storage equipment for media uploads.



During the week of October 20, the first Wikimedia Foundation Reader & Contributor Survey was launched in 20 languages. Its goal is to collect data about the demographic make-up of the Wikipedia community and audience, its motivations, interests, and beliefs. 4000 completed responses had already been received by October 24.

Erik Zachte's statistics server has been delivered and deployed, and Erik has started compiling some interesting reports for us. He has implemented the first report on pageviews, based on Domas' pageview data: Related blog entry:

Erik has also taken a first stab at quantifying volunteer contributions made during the fiscal year 2007-2008: This data is important to put organizational spending in relation to our global ability to achieve impact together.



The Wikimedia Foundation's first-ever Annual Report was finalized with the audited financial information, published on the Wikimedia Foundation website, and e-mailed to all past donors: The report is a summary of key activities of WMF in the fiscal year 2007-2008, an explanation of our projects (including a two-page "anatomy of a Wikipedia article"), an overview of our spending and the 2008-2009 budget, a brief look at the program activities of chapters around the world, and a recognition of our supporters.

In the month of October, we participated in media interviews with Computer World, a website of news and product coverage for information technology managers and The Republican, a website providing coverage of the Western Maryland town of Oakland, as well as of Garrett County.

Grants & Partnerships


Work continues on several grant proposals, including a major grant proposal related to usability improvements. Sara compiled a spreadsheet of our foundation prospects and rated them according to various criteria. She has also started to consolidate all reporting requirements attached to current grants so we can keep full track of our obligations.

Sara attended the Craigslist Non-Profit Bootcamp in San Mateo, where she networked with individuals from other like-minded organizations.

Finance & Administration


The audited financial statements for the fiscal year 2007-2008 were finalized and approved by the Board. A summary was included in the Annual Report, and the full statements will be posted in November.

Work began on the 990 tax returns and continued on transitioning bank accounts from Suntrust to Citibank.

On October 20, we welcomed Daniel Phelps as the new Office Manager.


Policies and agreements were reviewed and an audit resolution was drafted in preparation for the Board meeting. Work was done to follow up on state-by-state registrations.

Negotiations continued with the Free Software Foundation regarding the wording of the GNU Free Documentation License 1.3.

Business Development


Work continued on two major leads and many smaller ones. In addition, some older relationships were investigated or tied off. Some commercial trademark uses were also investigated.

Kul has started building a sponsorship platform for events such as Wikimania and Wikipedia Academies.

In Coming Weeks

  • Sue attending Free Software, Free Society conference in India (Dec. 8 – 15)
  • Board Meeting, January 8 – 10, 2009
  • Sue attending World Affairs Conference in Davos (Jan. 28 – Feb. 1)