Wikimedia Foundation Report, September 2008

ED Report to the Board, September 2008

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

My Current Priorities


1. Board meeting prep
2. Funders' briefing follow-up: prioritizing and strategizing re: major donors and foundations
3. Online fundraiser prep
4. Gearing up for travel/presentations throughout October and November
5. Ongoing major donor solicitation and stewardship, foundation proposal follow-up
6. Bits and pieces (Wikimania postmortem, office space revamp,launch of NomCom, etc.)

This Past Month


Outreach & Programs


In the first week of September, a mailing list was created for potential Brazilian and Belgian chapters. Work was also done to finalize our bid for the European e-Inclusion Award, and preparations began for the next on-line course for the 50+ age group that will start on Nov. 3. Work continues on development of WikiProject videos with the first German Wikipedia video in production. An international workshop on photos and videos is in the planning stages.

At the end of the month, WMF said goodbye to Delphine Ménard in her role as Chapters Coordinator. Delphine had been Chapters Coordinator for three years: first as a volunteer, and since February 2007 as a paid external contractor. Delphine is leaving the role to enable a "reboot" of the relationship between the chapters and the WMF: to encourage the chapters to self-organize, and to interact directly with the staff of the Foundation without an intermediary. The Wikimedia Foundation is extremely grateful to Delphine for her help over the years: she plans to continue as a volunteer (including her chapters committee work), and we look forward to working with her in that capacity.

The international survey of Wikipedia readers and contributors is expected to launch in October. We are working with a contractor to help us project manage the translations and the deployment of the survey.

Wikimedia community member Andrew Whitworth, with help from Chapters Committee members, has developed a briefing paper looking at U.S.-based chapters development. Based on that work and some legal research from Mike, Sue and Erik developed a proposal called A Framework for Encouraging Sub-National Chapters. Both will be submitted to the Board of Trustees at its meeting in October, where next steps with regards to development of sub-national chapters will be determined.

On September 25, Wikimedia contractor Naoko Komura released the results of the Wikimania 2008 postmortem survey here:

Thus far, the postmortem project has received input from participants and speakers via the survey and from the staff of the Foundation and 21 planning volunteers; it currently awaits specific recommendations from the local planning team, the program committee, and scholarships.

Frank has begun working on templates for different kinds of events, such as a "Wikipedia in the classroom" event. For that purpose, he has also worked closely with a group working on such an event in Germany.



The migration of existing and deployment of new servers in a new data center (in the same building as our primary data center) continues.

Brion has begun development of a code review tool, which is planned to be integrated into and to become a central part of the MediaWiki development process.

Hiring interviews for three technology positions took place, and top candidates were identified. As per the standard hiring process, offers will be extended once the reference checking process is complete and will be contingent on successful completion of background checks.

We provided feedback to Luca de Alfaro regarding his trust computation tool and potential integration into Wikimedia Foundation websites.

Work has begun on new fundraising campaign management tools for the online fundraiser (for example, to systematically test and compare different sitenotice designs during the course of the fundraiser). We also continue to invest significant time in auditing and improving the fundraising database CiviCRM.

Further refinements have been made to the PediaPress Wiki-to-PDF tools to get them ready for production usage.

We're in the process of inventorizing and cleaning up our domain name registrations.

We experienced some brief site-wide outages in September; Brion has blogged about the relevant issues here:



The early part of September was spent finalizing the Annual Report and working on the budget. Work began on the online fundraiser PR strategy and going over RFPs from prospective branding agencies. There were no press releases, but we responded to media inquiries from the San Francisco Bay Area public television station KQED; Connecticut newspaper the News Times; Danish newspaper Dagbladet Børsen; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website CBC.CA; the Associated Press; Washington D.C.-based website; the New York Times; Australian news site au; the Washington Times and the Washington Post.

Fundraising & Grants


On September 11, the first formal Funders' Briefing was held in New York, hosted on our behalf by the Sloan Foundation. On September 12, Sue & Erik did a presentation for the Ford Foundation as a part of Ford's lunchtime speakers series. The San Francisco Funders' Briefing was held at Kapor Enterprises on September 23. Both briefings were well attended and well received. The agenda included endorsements by Wikimedia supporters and board members, a presentation by Sue and Erik walking through Wikimedia basics, and a wide-ranging discussion about goals and funding. Some immediate donations were received as a result of the briefing, and the groundwork was laid for cultivation of new supporters.

Work has begun in earnest on many fronts to prepare for the online fundraiser. Rand Montoya, Head of Community Giving, is managing the project, working mainly with the technology team, Jay Walsh and Cary Bass. For the first time, a formal agreement is being developed for chapters which are interested in participating in the fundraiser. We've also continued to improve the database, document procedures, and streamline processes.

We have developed one primary grant proposal related to usability and public outreach.

Finance & Administration


The Audit Committee met on September 29 with the audit firm to review the draft 07-08 audited financial statements. The statements are expected to be finalized shortly and then will be sent to the Audit Committee for its official approval. Once the board has received and approved them, they will be published. This will also trigger their inclusion in the 2007-08 Annual Report, which will enable us to publish it on the Wikimedia Foundation website.

A Wikimedia Foundation Employee Handbook is in development by Mike and Veronique.


A number of policies were revised and/or finalized prior to review by the Board of Trustees at its October meeting. These included: the Gift Policy, the Privacy Policy, and the Board of Trustees' Pledge of Personal Commitment.

Michelle Paulson is our new law clerk volunteer for the fall.



The Nominating Committee continued its work to identify, research and recommend candidates for the appointed Board positions involving "specific expertise." Its members are board member Ting Chen, community member Milos Rancic, community member BirgitteSB, advisory board member Melissa Hagemann, Executive Director Sue Gardner and board chair Michael Snow. The Nominating Committee has now brainstormed names for potential board members, and generated criteria for potential "specific expertise" board members here:

In October, Michael Snow will update the board on the work of the Nominating Committee, and the board will send the Nominating Committee feedback. The four "expertise" seats are expected to be filled by January 2009.

Sheryl Roman, an external HR consultant, is working with individual staff members to help them develop goals and timelines.

In Coming Weeks

  • Board meeting being held October 4, 5, & 6 at WMF office.
  • Sue speaking in Mainz, Germany
  • Sue speaking in Orlando, Florida
  • All-staff meeting being held November 6 & 7 at the WMF office
  • First production deployment of wiki-to-print technology
  • Launch of multilingual Wikipedia general survey in mid-October