News and notes
Finance committee updates
During March, three of the Wikimedia Foundation's grantmaking schemes on Meta will reach important crossroads; these will shape how both the editing communities and Wikimedia institutions handle the distribution of donors' money across the movement.
The volunteer-driven Finance Dissemination Committee (FDC) will be conducting its open-community review of chapter requests worth US$1.2 million, until the end of this month. The WMF had allocated $2.6 million for this round, so the remaining unspent funds (at least $1.4 million) will be moved to the Foundation's "rainy day" fund, independent of the actual recommendations of the committee to the WMF board.
The largest request in this second FDC round has been submitted by Wikimédia France, which has requested $747k after it obtained only about 10% of its previous request of $961k due to acknowledged management problems. A main theme will be the further development of the organization's track record of outreach in the French-speaking world, through the build-up of staff aiding international Wikimedia groups. The discussion on Meta currently centers around organizational changes like the rationales behind the planned increase from 5 to 15 paid employees.
Wikimedia Norway has requested $236k to fund a largely GLAM and institutional outreach-focused plan. To back up these programs, the chapter proposes to hire its first two paid staff and to set up an office in the nation's capital, Oslo. To date, a main topic in the discussion of the application is the amount of money the organization plans to spend on its first employees (huge salaries).
Wikimedia Hong Kong is the first Eastern Asian chapter to submit proposals to the FDC. The chapter requested roughly $212k to fund its first non-project-based annual plan. The organization proposes to hire paid full-time staff for the first time, and is requesting assistance to handle this year's Wikimania, which is partially funded by a separate $42K grant by the WMF. Both topics are debated on the related talk page.
Wikimedia Czech Republic submitted a request to fund $14k for an office in the nation's capital, Prague, travel grants for volunteers, and a person to take care of paperwork. The office plan and how it fits into the strategic alignment are the main topics of conversations on the talk page.
The IEG, a scheme designed to empower individual and small groups of volunteers to tackle large and time-consuming structural community problems, is getting off the ground in March. The WMF published aggregated results in early March, in which the committee examined a wide thematic range of applications. The ideas ranged from $200 for a Chinese social media account to increase the visibility of Wikimedia in China, to a community-driven $30k outreach effort in Brazil. In this pilot phase, the IEG can distribute up to $100K for seven slots. The WMF will announce its decisions by end of this month, based on both the community review and committee evaluation.
- Flow funding
The third scheme currently underway on Meta is an experiment called flow funding (FF). The idea is to empower selected volunteers—called flow funders—to decide decentralized funding requests by other volunteers of up to $2K, to bundle them, and to submit them to the WMF. While having a low global profile to date, the scheme's potential for COI, hands-on methods, and alleged risks of nepotism was the subject of considerable debate on the German Wikipedia. (German-speakers are used to a wide range of very well-financed but more bureaucratic funding opportunities by the three related chapters, in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, on top of the global schemes provided by the WMF on Meta.) The experiment runs until mid-2013; the English Wikipedia component is conducted by West.andrew.
Both the IEG and FF pilots and the FDC scheme will be re-evaluated after their current rounds; the ability to respond to community input in the grantmaking processes will be a key design component. The FDC community-review period runs until end of March, while the IEG projects will enter their next public stage in early April. FF can be perused case by case on the editing projects themselves. The two experimental schemes will not only have to perform well as such but will need to develop profiles distinctive from the two other WMF schemes for small and medium-sized requests, participation grants and the GAC-advised Wikimedia grants program.
- WMF board of trustees: The minutes of the Wikimedia Foundation's February Board of Trustees meeting have been published. The WMF also published resolutions amending the term of advisory board members, the AffCom charter, and extended or appointed 24 advisory board members.
- WMF clarifies trademark practices for QRpedia and Wikitowns: The foundation's legal team has published its new practices for granting QRpedia and Wikitown projects, like Monmouthpedia, the use of Wikimedia trademarks, in the wake of Wikimedia UK's governance review (see Signpost coverage). The WMF will keep with past practice in allowing nominative, plain-text uses of the word "Wikipedia", but will refuse permission for the stylized version of "Wikipedia" and the iconic globe logo (both are visible in the top-left corner of this page). Objections were raised in the comments and on the Wikimedia Announcements mailing list to the use of the word "allow" with regards to allowing nominative use, but WMF General Counsel Geoff Brigham stated that "we are trying to cover our bases just in case ... other countries have a narrower scope than U.S. [nominative use] laws."
- WMF finance statement: The foundation's mid-year finance statement, covering July 1 to December 31, 2012, has been published.
- Image donation: Sweden's Royal Armoury, Skokloster Castle, and The Hallwyl Museum (LSH) has released approximately 40,000 images under open licenses. With the help of Wikimedia Sweden, high-resolution versions of these photos are being published on Commons.
- Wikipedia Zero wins award: Wikipedia Zero has won the activism award from SXSW (see also an image of the award).
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