News and notes
Chapter financial trends analyzed, news in brief
Chapter-Wide Financial Trends Report published
This week saw the publication of the Chapter-wide Financial Trends Report 2013, a now-completed research project that examines the finances and outlays of the 36 movement-affiliated chapters for the period January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. "We, the Finance Fellows, following extensive research and collaboration with the participating chapters, have created a potential reporting guide for all chapters, thematic organizations, and other movement groups, to report data in a way that is more consistent and comparable across the movement. It is also within this report we highlight some our key findings."
The report was delivered by four "finance fellows", who according to their introductions to the community on the wikimedia-l mailing list in October of last year are "a multicultural team consisting of 4 young
professionals ... happy to introduce a 6-month movement-wide project that focuses on the consistency of how we operate". The work stems from a presentation titled "Chapters in Numbers", prepared for Wikimania 2013 by prominent Polish Wikipedian Michał Buczyński, who is now a community-elect member of the Funds Dissemination Committee; the work was supported by the WMF Board's Audit Comittee. The initial announcement was followed by questions from chapter community members about whether or not the process, though explicitly stated not to be a full audit, will incur additional reporting overhead on the chapters being examined; on this topic, CFO Garfield Byrd wrote that "The project has been designed so that the fellows will be using existing data provided by movement entities and the Fellows will only be reaching out to movement entities with clarifying questions". There were also concerns about the timetable and the absence of prior community notification of the existence of the project (the project had apparently been in planning for two months by that time).
The project and the findings are available on the meta-wiki. Some data highlights:
- In 2013, the total revenue of Wikimedia chapters amounted to $21,082,633. Of this, 98% was generated by global north chapters and the remaining 2% by the chapters in the global south. The total sum of donations received by the chapters was $14,531,232; the total sum of grants, $5,677,083.
- The results obtained by the survey are heavily skewed by Wikimedia Germany, far and away the largest of the chapters and one of only two which, after movement restructuring in 2011–12, still handles its own fundraising campaigns. The money obtained in these campaigns is mostly transferred back to the Wikimedia Foundation for disbursal in Germany and elsewhere, an activity technically classified as an "expense" in financial terms. While in total the chapters nominally spent $20,765,557, close to half of this comes from this movement of money; in size terms, Wikimedia Germany has a further disproportionate presence as by far the largest of all of the Wikimedian chapters. In fact, excluding Wikimedia Germany from expense analysis completely (removing both its financial movements and its regular staffing and operating costs) quarters the chapters' total expenses, down to $4,782,622—an indication of how important Germany has proven for the movement at large.
- Grants were the majority source of revenue for 24 chapters: 82% from the WMF and 18% from other sources (usually institutional partners). Donations were the majority sources of support and revenue for the remaining 12 chapters (9 chapters from Europe and 3 from Asia/Pacific).
- 16 chapters recorded event funding as their highest expenditure, but operating costs, primarily labor expenses, were reported as highest expense by the remaining 20. Though not explicitly stated in the report, together the two facts above this illustrate differences in the way that chapters operate: labor chases larger grants, while donations are more passive and easier to manage. R
- Wikimedia swaps to HTTPS: Hypertext Transfer Protocol—the omnipresent
http for short—has long been more or less the standard as web access protocols go. Yet soon after the June 2013 Edward Snowden revelations the Wikimedia Foundation unveiled plans (far from unique) to speed up the implementation of the more secure HTTPS as the new default for the projects. Just short of two years later, in a blog post tellingly co-penned by members of the Foundation's legal and engineering teams, the Foundation is unveiling HTTPS-by-default as the site's new access paradigm. HTTPS first had a presence on Wikipedia in 2005, when long-time Foundation tech Brion Vibber enabled on a single testbed server, funneling traffic through the
https://secure.wikimedia.org/ subdomain. The current URLs and a more robust system were enabled in 2011, but progress was fairly slow past that point—until the Snowden revelations gave the project a shot in the arm in 2013. It is worth remembering also that, as the Signpost reported earlier this year, the Wikimedia Foundation is the top-billed party in an ACLU lawsuit against the NSA. R
- Mediawiki API changes: A change is expected to occur in the way that Mediawiki software handles
action=query results sometime by the end of this month. The change is expected to cause compatibility issues affecting many of the bots that have not yet been retrofit to work with the new schema, and have to do with the way that continuations are handled within queries to the Mediawiki API, the primary way that the sites' many bots talk to and modify content on the Wikimedia sites. A list of affected bots, current as of early June, was presented in the mailing list. R
- New administrators: The Signpost welcomes the English Wikipedia's newest administrator, NeilN (RfA). R
- Wikimedia UK volunteer strategy consultation: Wikimedia UK unveiled a volunteer strategy consultation call to action this week, outlining the chapter's desire to "transform the way we work so that we can bring volunteering right into the heart of the charity." The new strategy presages a volunteer strategy consultation that is to take place in London on July 25th, emphasizing volunteer interactions through project-based working practices, volunteer engagement and evaluation panels, and other structural changes at the organization (like a new project coordinator position). Of the proposal the organization has to say:
||We have over the past 18 months moved to a more focused mode of work when delivering projects that we run in collaboration with external partners. Building relationships with major organisations has shown that this can bring success in terms of impact, value for money, and perceived reputation in the movement and in the public mindset. These relationships not only open doors for us in terms of access to content, goodwill and expertise, but will also increasingly prove vital in formulating the basis for fundraising appeals and gaining the confidence of grant making organisations. They are worthy of more time, consistent focus and development, which is why we want to particularly focus on these this year and beyond, as well as bringing our broader volunteer work into this project-based approach.
- Wiki Loves Africa: Wikimedians are invited to vote on the theme for this year's Wiki Loves Africa photo-contest. The contest is funded jointly by the Wikimedia Foundation (via a Personal Engagement Grant) and French telecom company Orange (a long-standing founding partner in the Wikipedia Zero initiative); last year's four winners all fit into the theme of African cuisine, while this year's theme is to be narrowed down from a list of six possibles, with "Fashion" and "Architecture" being the current front-runners. R
- Search and discovery now just discovery: According to changes to the Foundation's staff and contractors page the newly minted "search and discovery" team has had its official title changed to just "discovery". R
- Metrics and activities: This month's Wikimedia Foundation metrics and activities meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 11, 18:00 UTC. The topic of this month's meeting, which is the largest and most regular of the Foundation's IRC office hours, is the "Strategy Preview": for more background on the WMF's institutional rethink, see Signpost coverage of the State of the WMF report and the Foundation's still-recent community strategic consultation. Also continuing on the format of the strategy refresh that was performed last meeting is the return of the now-regularized "Community Update". R
- Wikimania discussions: A call was made on the Wikimania-l mailing list for topics to be addressed in this year's Wikimania Discussion Room: "Wikimania is not only about presentations - but also about meeting your colleagues from around the world, and having encouraging, inspiring and impactful discussions. To this end, we will organise again the 'Discussion Room' at Wikimania, a structured track of round table discussion sessions with moderation: no speakers, everybody can participate in the discussion. And the topics focus on community topics!" R
- Wikipedia meetups near you: From the WM Blog: R
||Wikipedia meetups social events centered around Wikipedia or one of its sister projects. They happen in real life with real humans and can be large affairs, sponsored and hosted by universities, or smaller informal meetings held in a cafe down the street. They can be loosely themed or focused on a specific topic or article. Anyone is welcome to attend, and often people who are new to Wikipedia can learn how edit the encyclopedia by learning from experienced editors in person. These events happen in cities and towns all around the world. You can find a meetup happening near you by clicking the link above — you may also find other meetups tailored to other languages and regions by clicking the languages on the lower right side of the page.
- Wikipedia articles per speaker: A spreadsheet highlighting the distribution of the presence of Wikipedia articles per language speakers was presented this week in a post to the mailing list. In tangentially related news, the Signpost is currently seeking editors that would be interested in preparing data visualizations for our newspaper, using the new Graphs extension; inquire on our talk page or try speaking to Resident Mario directly. R
- Wikipedian in Residence: Czech Wikipedian Blahma is this week's newest Wikipedian in Residence, at Masaryk University. R
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