News and notes
Record fundraiser celebrated and debated; Board-appointed Trustees; brief news
Wikimedia fundraiser concluding, reaches $16 million goal
On January 1st, the Wikimedia Foundation announced in a press release and a blog posting that the annual fundraiser had exceeded its goal of $16 million - contributed by more than half a million donors, an average donation of $22, during 50 days, making it both the shortest and the most successful fundraiser to date. (As the Foundation's Moka Pantages explained to ReadWriteWeb, a discrepancy to the real-time donation statistics - which shows a cumulative total of $13,457,989.11 at the end of day 50 - is caused by the fact that the latter only count online donations, excluding donations made by checks and to individual chapters.) According to earlier announcements, the fundraiser was set to run about two months until around Wikipedia's tenth anniversary on January 15th, but some banners displayed in the last days of the year proclaimed $16 million as "our 2010 goal", according to a TechCrunch article titled "Wikipedia Still $1M Short Of Fundraising Goal For 2010 (And Why I Donated)".
While the now familiar banners showing Jimmy Wales' appeal for donations were still displayed in parts of the world on January 3 (chapters, rather than the Foundation itself, choose the banners in some areas, per geotargeting), Philippe Beaudette, the head of the WMF's fundraising team, announced in the blog posting that
||we are transitioning into the contribution phase of the campaign. We will be running banners for the next few days to thank everyone who came together in the spirit of creating and 'effectively disseminating the sum of human knowledge available for all.' We will also begin to celebrate Wikipedia’s tenth birthday, with banner ads encouraging readers to join us in a local celebration.
We want to invite every one of the readers of Wikipedia and its sister sites to make their first edit, or upload their first photograph, and join our community of volunteer contributors ...
According to Beaudette's November 4 announcement, these invitations to edit will also be featured on some of the remaining banner ads, reflecting the integrated view of donors, readers, and Wikipedians as part of the same community that is embraced by the Foundation's Community department.
On the Foundation-l mailing list, Wikimedia's Deputy Director Erik Möller addressed some criticism about the intrusiveness of the fundraising messages (such as the use of animated banners during the last days):
||... the size and graphical visibility of the banners this year have certainly pushed my own pain points as to what I consider an acceptable balance. At the same time, I've had countless conversations in past years with people who didn't even notice that we were fundraising.
Prior to this year, we didn't really have a good sense exactly what the ceiling of the fundraiser would be, because we'd never pushed it as hard [as] we could before we reached our goal.
Möller defended the fundraising team's judgment in keeping the balance between achieving effectiveness and avoiding intrusiveness, citing its decision to disable the banners completely for registered users at some point of the campaign, and the fact that "in spite of the proven effectiveness of the Jimmy appeal, the team switched away from it for extended periods of time". One of the alternative banners had generated controversy last month for describing Sue Gardner as "Wikipedia Executive Director". Chief Community Officer Zack Exley first defended the inaccurate job title by the "need to connect with millions and millions of readers", most of whom have never heard about Wikimedia, but later accepted the criticism ("I learned my lesson! Thanks for teaching it"); the banner was changed.
See also this week's "In the news" for further media coverage of the fundraiser's closure.
Board extends term of Board-appointed Trustees from one to two years, re-appoints them
In a resolution last month, the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees amended its bylaws to extend the terms of Board-appointed Trustees - board members that are chosen by the board itself, currently four of the ten Trustees - from one to two years. This had been part of the recommendations of the Board's "Governance Committee" (aided by the philantropy firm Omidyar Network) that were already accepted in principle at the Board's October meeting (Signpost coverage). In a subsequent vote, the Board reappointed Stu West and Jan-Bart de Vreede until December 31, 2011, and Bishakha Datta and Matt Halprin until December 31, 2012. Halprin had joined the Board in 2009 while being a partner at Omidyar (see Signpost coverage: "Omidyar Network gives $2M grant, new board member to the Wikimedia Foundation"), but is no longer involved with the firm according to his LinkedIn profile. The Board also reappointed Jimmy Wales to his position as "Community Founder Trustee" until December 31, 2011.
News in brief
- GLAM-WIKI conference recordings: On Friday December 31, Wikimedia UK released the audio recordings of the GLAM-WIKI UK conference in November. They are available in Category:GLAM Wiki UK 2010 on Wikimedia Commons.
- "Editathon" at British Library: On January 14/15, coinciding with Wikipedia's tenth anniversary, the British Wikimedia chapter is holding an "Editathon" at the British Library in London, where up to 20 Wikipedians will "be able to access the resources of the British Library, guided by the expertise of its curators, with the joint aim of improving the content on Wikipedia that is relevant to the British Library's collections."
- Main pages: Erik Zachte, the Foundation's Data Analyst, has announced a page on stats.wikimedia.org collecting screenshots of the main pages of more than 770 Wikimedia projects (sorted by the number of page views of the entire project in each category).
- VolCo leaves: Cary Bass (User:Bastique) has stopped working as the Foundation's Volunteer Coordinator, as announced in August shortly after the formation of the new Community Department (Signpost coverage). As it had been indicated in the announcement, the role is not continuing to exist in the same form, with other staff members taking over as contact points for volunteers (e.g. Philippe Beaudette and Megan Hernandez in the case of the Identification noticeboard).
- Wikimedia Italia report: The Italian Wikimedia chapter has published the English-language version of its latest "Wikimedia News" bulletin, covering the second half of the year.