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Wikimedia Foundation Report, September 2012

Information You are more than welcome to edit the wiki version of this report for the purposes of usefulness, presentation, etc., and to add translations of the “Highlights” excerpts.
Play video

Video of the monthly Wikimedia Foundation metrics and activities meeting covering the month of September (October 4, 2012)

Global unique visitors for August:

456.25 million (+0.98% compared with July; +7.92% compared with the previous year)
(comScore data for all Wikimedia Foundation projects; comScore will release September data later in October)

Page requests for September:

19.1 billion (+5.3% compared with August; +20.9% compared with the previous year)
(Server log data, all Wikimedia Foundation projects including mobile access)

Active Registered Editors for August 2012 (>= 5 mainspace edits/month, excluding bots):

79,572 (-0.74% compared with July / -0.81% compared with the previous year)
(Database data, all Wikimedia Foundation projects. Note: We recently refined this metric to take into account Wikimedia Commons and activity across several projects.)

Report Card (integrating various statistical data and trends about WMF projects) for August 2012:

http://reportcard.wmflabs.org/

(Definitions)

Financials

Wikimedia Foundation YTD Revenue and Expenses vs Plan as of August 31, 2012

Wikimedia Foundation YTD Expenses by Functions as of August 31, 2012

(Financial information is only available for August 2012 at the time of this report.)

All financial information presented is for the period July 1, 2012 – August 31, 2012.

Revenue $1,758,126
Expenses:
Technology Group $2,286,158
Fundraiser Group $417,387
Global Development Group $1,110,627
Governance Group $144,825
Finance/HR/Admin Group $864,207
Legal/Community Advocacy/Communications $377,572
Total Expenses $5,200,776
Total surplus/(loss) ($3,442,650)
  • Revenue for the month of August is $1.4MM vs plan of $465K, approximately $946K or 203% over plan, primarily due to the $1.0MM received from the Sloan Foundation.
  • Year-to-date revenue is $1.8MM vs plan of $1.9MM, approximately $0.1MM or 9% under plan.
  • Expenses for the month of August is $2.6MM vs plan of $2.7MM, approximately $0.1MM or 3% under plan, primarily due personnel expenses, internet hosting expenses, travel expenses, capital expenses, and legal expenses partially offset by a grant for the India catalyst program and higher recruiting expenses.
  • Year-to-date expenses is $5.2MM vs plan of $5.9MM, approximately $0.7MM or 12% under plan, primarily due to personnel expenses, internet hosting, travel expenses, capital expenses, legal expenses.
  • Cash position is $21.8MM as of August 31, 2012 which is approximately 6.2 months of expenses.

Highlights

The Curation Toolbar, here being used to mark a new article as reviewed and send its author a message

“Page Curation” tools make it easier to review new Wikipedia articles

Every day, thousands of new pages are created on Wikipedia, requiring hundreds of volunteer editors to check them for quality. To make their work easier, the Editor Engagement Team has developed the “Page Curation” feature. It includes two tools:

  • The New Pages Feed, an overview of new pages, annotated with information that helps reviewing them
  • The Curation Toolbar appears next to a new page, offering autoconfirmed editors easy access to various actions, e.g. to mark the new page as reviewed, tag it for quality problems, or nominate it for deletion.

Page Curation was deployed on the English Wikipedia on September 20, and is planned to become available on other projects as well.

Many new Wikipedia editors experience frustration when they start an article that does not meet community expectations and gets deleted. It is hoped that the Page Curation feature will also lead to better feedback for page creators.

New volunteer-based model for distributing donation money launched

Over the last half year, a new model has been established for distributing the donation money raised via Wikimedia project sites. More than $10 million of it will now be allocated based on the recommendations of the new Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC), which consists entirely of volunteers.

Following a public nomination process, the seven voting members of the first FDC have been announced: Arjuna Rao Chavala (India), Dariusz Jemielniak (Poland), Ali Haidar Khan (Bangladesh), Mike Peel (United Kingdom), Yuri Perohanych (Ukraine), Sydney Poore (United States), and Anders Wennersten (Sweden). They are joined by Jan-Bart de Vreede (Netherlands) and Patricio Lorente (Argentina) as non-voting representatives of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. Susana Moraes (Portugal) was appointed as ombudsperson for the FDC process.

The FDC is now reviewing funding requests by 12 organizations, which are open for public comment until October 22.

The Wikimedia Foundation has agreed to host a new travel project site at the request of the Wikimedia community. Unfortunately, on August 29, 2012, Internet Brands, the owner of the Wikitravel website, sued two Wikitravel volunteers, alleging various legal claims. In response, one of the volunteers filed an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing that Internet Brands’s lawsuit sought to suppress his right to discuss the new Wikimedia travel project. The Wikimedia Foundation has also filed a suit against Internet Brands, claiming that it has no right to impede the creation of the new travel project.

Engineering

A detailed report of the Engineering Department’s activities for September 2012 can be found at:

https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_engineering_report/2012/September

VisualEditor

In September, the VisualEditor team continued its focus on re-engineering the code of VisualEditor so that it is more modular and easier to extend. This involves creating and documenting a number of formal APIs at each point in the architecture, that means a developer does not have to understand the entire code base to be able to add new features. The early version of the VisualEditor on mediawiki.org was updated twice, fixing a number of bugs and building out better support for language and key concepts like categories, language links and other “magic words“.

Critical to the VisualEditor is Parsoid, a parsing program that translates plain wikitext into annotated HTML for easy editing, and vice-versa. The Parsoid team spent September improving their prototype in JavaScript to get it ready for a release in December, and improving the (faster) C++ version of Parsoid for longer-term deployment. The original plan to finish the C++ version before the December release looks very risky with the limited resources available, so the current plan is to release the JavaScript prototype instead.

On the JavaScript side, the focus was on round-tripping of templates, i.e. the process of appropriately converting templates from wikitext to annotated HTML, and back to wikitext (thus completing a “round-trip”). They also worked on the Cite extension, support for category links and “magic words”. Many parser tests (which allow to measure the parser’s ability to correctly translate wikitext) were added, and a new milestone of 603 passing round-trip tests (with 218 to go) was reached. First steps towards round-trip testing on a full copy of a wiki’s content were taken.

In the C++ version, the tokenizer (the program that demarcates strings of characters input in wikitext) can now support very simple content, and use it to populate the internal data structures. Basic interfaces for asynchronous and parallel processing were defined to improve performance and thus increase responsiveness for users.

Editor engagement

This month, the Features team deployed more new features for Article Feedback, a quality assessment tool currently being tested on 10% of articles on the English Wikipedia. Improvements include iPad support, special abuse filters to automatically disallow swear words and common vandalism, as well as automated filtering to reduce the workload for editors and administrators. The team is now in the process of re-factoring the code, making it more scalable, prototyping a mobile web interface, as well as collecting more data to track how many readers who post feedback end up becoming editors as a result. A full release to 100% of English Wikipedia is expected in coming weeks, with other wiki projects starting later this year.

The team also deployed the first version of Page Curation on the English Wikipedia, a feature that aims to help Wikipedia patrollers review new pages faster and easier, as well as provide better feedback to page creators (see also general “Highlights” section). It includes two tools: the New Pages Feed (a dynamic list of new pages for review by community patrollers) and the Curation Toolbar (an optional panel on article pages). The Curation Toolbar provides a variety of tools that let users get page info, mark a page as reviewed, tag it, mark it for deletion, send WikiLove to page creators, or jump to the next page on the list.

The first project of the Micro Design Improvements team, which consisted in simplifying the “edit” window, has now been deployed on the English-language Wikipedia. The current priority is to fully productize these changes and fix associated bugs before moving forward.

Last, the Editor engagement experiments team (E3) announced the results of the first iteration of the post-edit feedback experiment, and worked on productization of the most successful confirmation message in a new MediaWiki extension, as well as through collaboration with the VisualEditor team. In addition, the team deployed the second iteration of experimental post-edit feedback, which lets new editors know when they reach important editing milestones early in their participation on Wikipedia. E3 also continued readying work on account creation user experience, and the new analytics infrastructure to support feature experimentation.

Mobile

The mobile team continued to work on new feature for the mobile view, like a new navigation menu, currently a beta feature. Preliminary support for sharper images on high-density displays (such as the iPhone 4/4S/5 and many Android phones) is being worked on; this will apply also to the desktop view on suitable tablets (iPad 3, Nexus 7, Kindle HD) and laptops (Retina MacBook Pro, Windows laptops with desktop zoom at 150% or 200%).

A new version of the Wiki Loves Monuments App was released, that allows users to use it in combination with a separate camera. Over 3,000 pictures have now been uploaded from mobile devices. In collaboration with the Product team, the Mobile team will next analyze data from the competition, to better understand how to proceed with a dedicated Commons upload tool. The team has received positive feedback about the app, which has been a big hit with new Commons users from early data analysis.

Regarding mobile access in less-developed countries, the Wikipedia Zero program (an initiative to enable free mobile access to Wikipedia) continued to expand, with several additional mobile carriers now in the testing phase (see also below). The mobile team is also putting the final touches to the Wikipedia S40 J2ME app, a mobile application for the Java Platform, still used by many phones in the Global South. Users without a smartphone and a data plan won’t be left out: access to Wikipedia over SMS or USSD (e.g. WAP) is being worked in collaboration with the Praekelt Foundation. This tool uses the open-source software vumi.

Last, a new EPUB export feature was enabled on the English Wikipedia. It can be used to collate a personal collection of Wikipedia articles and generate free e-books that can be read on a broad range of devices, like mobile phones, tablets and e-ink-based e-book readers.

Other news

  • Development was disrupted around September 7th due to a serious breakage of Wikimedia’s Gerrit repositories, the platform used by developers to share code and collaboratively review each other’s contributions. All repositories were subsequent repaired, and the cause of the issue was investigated to avoid future problems of this type.
  • Students who worked on MediaWiki-related projects as part of Google Summer of Code 2012 (GSoC) reached their final milestone. Projects include a feature to easily translate annotated SVG files, a tool to manage conferences in MediaWiki, and improvements to the Incubator platform.

Fundraising

Major Gifts and Foundations

  • Completed our report to the Stanton Foundation and received our second grant installment of $1.8 million
  • Held a thank you event at Google for employees who give to the WMF
  • Named a finalist in the Africa News Challenge grant competition

Annual Fundraiser

Prepared for a fundraising test on Italian Wikipedia in October
Continued weekly fundraising tests in English.
Added Adyen as a payment processor.
Continued to research donation rejection rates/reasons for the countries we are testing.
Canada donor groups
Began hiring and training a core team of customer service agents to ensure we have a 99% response rate during the annual fundraiser. This will also allow us to get important data necessary to improve our donor experience.
Storytelling interviews conducted at Wikimania 2012 are currently being edited with the goal of creating a short educational video about Wikipedia. Soon, we plan to conduct a test incorporating video into fundraising appeals.

Global Development

Global Development Highlights

Inaugural FDC membership announced
Arabic Wikipedia seeing strong growth after year 1 of the Arabic Language Initiative
Research confirms students significantly improve English Wikipedia.
Wikipedia Zero rolls out in Ivory Coast.

Mobile, Global Growth

  • The Mobile Team deployed free access to Wikipedia on mobile in its eighth country: Ivory Coast. This is the sixth country in Orange’s Middle East/Africa footprint. It will be available in all languages. See also the up-to-date status report about where Wikipedia is freely available on mobile.

Global Learning and Grantmaking

Learning and Evaluation

  • Jonathan Morgan joins the Learning and Evaluation team to help with analytics requests. Jonathan has been involved with the foundation for some time as part of the fellowship program where he focused on the Teahouse project.
  • We’re pleased to release version 0.1.0 of the userstats Python library and command-line tool for computing user-centric metrics on Wikipedia users. The goal of the software is to make it easy for project owners to track the contributions and status of users involved in their project. It is also intended to be easily extensible so that custom metrics can be added using only a few lines of Python code.

Funds Dissemination

Grants Awarded and Executed

4 WMF Grants were awarded during September 2012:

  • Wikimedia Serbia’s grant for the CEE Conference 2012 approved:
    This conference is organized to bring as many people from the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries as possible in one place and encourage them to raise their questions and participate in the creation of further mutual cooperation among the communities from the region.
  • Wikimedia US-DC’s Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 USA approved:
    Wiki Loves Monuments, the international Wikipedia photo contest, came to the United States for the first time; the grant supports incidentals and administrative costs for Wiki Loves Monuments events.
  • Wikimedia Serbia’s Wikipedia in Schools 2012-2013 approved:
    The continuation of cooperation with educational institutions will enhance Wikimedia Serbia’s education programs, attract new users, and increase the quality and quantity of articles on Wikipedia.
  • Wikimedia Venezuela’s start up grant approved:
    Includes funds for equipment, administrative costs, and project activities over the next year.

10 grant reports were accepted by WMF during September 2012:

1 Participation Support reimbursement was approved this month through the Participation Support Program (a joint program of WMF and Wikimedia Germany):

US Cultural Partnerships

  • Launched the GLAM-Wiki US blog as a form of broadcast for GLAM professionals and Wikimedians.
  • Formalized and continued dialogue with the GLAM-Wiki US Consortium advisory group, specifically in regards to establishing the Consortium’s core principles and platforms for communication.
  • Attended GLAMcamp London with the global GLAM-Wiki community. Led discussion on establishing a GLAM-Wiki global thematic organization. Participated in the formulation of the GLAM Bootcamp concept.
  • Coordination of upcoming Wikipedian in Residence positions and GLAM partnerships

Catalyst Programs

Brazil Catalyst Project

Brazil Education program

Workshop for professors

Audience at Oona Castro’s talk

National Program, Brazil
Brazil Catalyst Program management
Ongoing Debates on the Portuguese Wikipedia

Meetup in Porto Allegre

Community engagement
Media Coverage

Helped handling media coverage on the Gibraltarpedia case and couldn’t handle in time the Philip Roth case (but coverage was not bad at all)

  • Gibraltarpedia
http://oglobo.globo.com/tecnologia/escandalo-sobre-artigos-pagos-abalou-wikipedia-6242816
http://oglobo.globo.com/tecnologia/muito-cuidado-com-boca-boca-virtual-6242804
  • Philip Roth
http://oglobo.globo.com/blogs/prosa/posts/2012/09/14/e-tudo-in-verdade-465428.asp (we have been contacted but couldn’t answer in time)
http://oglobo.globo.com/cultura/roth-a-wikipedia-6129149 (no contact)
http://revistaepoca.globo.com/cultura/luis-antonio-giron/noticia/2012/09/wikipedia-para-que.html (no contact)
Visit to SF
  • Oona and Everton attended the All Hands meeting
  • Cross team meetings to discuss how to deploy tests on CAPTCHA on the Portuguese Wikipedia
  • Education program meetings for planning 2013
  • Meeting with Sue and Anasuya about the Brazil Catalyst Program

Arabic Language Project

  • We observed through an analysis of the first 12 months of the Arabic Language Initiative (ALI) a reversal of the declining trends, with an 28% increase in the number of new editors and an 31% increase in active editors. See the Sep 2011 – Aug 2012 ALI report
  • Community discussion on the criteria for selecting articles for the QCRI translation project was concluded by generating lists of the most vital articles which are missing from Arabic Wikipedia.

Education Program

New training module available for students on wiki

Students can learn the basics of English Wikipedia policies and editing tips through a new on-wiki tutorial. The four training modules cover an introduction, Wikipedia’s core principles, basics of editing, and advanced editing. In total, it should take about one hour to complete. Learn more about the training

Courses kick off in U.S., Canada

More than 60 courses are participating in the U.S. and Canada Wikipedia Education Program this term, and many students are starting to make their first edits now. For example, Dr. Chad Tew’s mass communications course is creating articles about journalists who have been killed, and the students have already selected topics and are starting to do research. See their work by checking out the course page

Research confirms students significantly improve English Wikipedia

Spring 2012 U.S. and Canada article quality improvement

Research data released this month shows that Spring 2012 students in the U.S. and Canada programs improved the quality of articles by an average of 6.5 points on a 26-point assessment scale, with 87.9 percent of articles showing noticeable improvement after student edits. That’s a 0.7 point improvement over student work from the Public Policy Initiative pilot. The new research is part of our ongoing efforts to determine success factors for future classes in the U.S. and Canada Education Programs. See the results

Professor argues for Wikipedia’s use in class

Wikipedia belongs in university classrooms, argued Michigan State University professor Jonathan Obar in a piece posted on ReadWriteWeb. The highly informative article walks people through why Wikipedia is a valuable tool for both teaching and research, and explains the benefits for each in terms of student learning. Read the article

Cairo students’ translation work featured

The Wikimedia Foundation blog featured a post highlighting the work of two students from the Cairo Pilot, Helana Fola and Mina Saber. Helana and Mina are both French literature students at Ain Shams University, and they discovered a skill for French to Arabic translation through their work with the Cairo Pilot. Learn more about their experiences with the program

Professor from Brazil profiled on blog

Edivaldo Moura Santos

Edivaldo Moura Santos, a professor of physics at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, started using Wikipedia in his classroom in spring 2012 as part of the Wikipedia Education Program. His students improved articles on electromagnetism, and he was thrilled with the unique experience it afforded them, especially in regard to student learning and engagement. His work was featured in a blog post on the Wikimedia Foundation blog. Read the post

Fellowships

  • Program: We’re in ongoing conversations about the future of the Fellowships Program as WMF looks at narrowing focus. Meanwhile, fellows worked on 5 projects that support editor engagement by connecting editors to clear information and supportive community:
  • Dispute Resolution: Results of the August trial at the Dispute Resolution Noticeboard have been compiled, and we’re seeing a 67% decrease in response times and a 16.6% increase in case resolution rate as a result of the changes. A Request for Comment on an easier way to file dispute resolution requests across English Wikipedia is underway.
  • WikiWomen’s Collaborative: In partnership with volunteer WikiWomen around the world, we launched the WikiWomen’s Collaborative, a social media initiative connecting women who currently edit or aspire to edit Wikipedia. The project is engaging experienced and hopeful new editors via Facebook, Twitter and the new Wikimedia Foundation blog channel, WikiWomen.
  • Help Pages Redesign: A redesign of English Wikipedia’s main help page is complete and usability tests have been run to compare users’ experiences with it. Results are being compiled for community review in October, when a redesign proposal for replacing the old page will be brought to the community for discussion.
  • Small Wiki Editor Engagement: A new help page system was launched on Bangla Wikipedia with pages that teach editors about new article creation and other popular editing activities. Metrics are still being collected, but it appears article creation has already nearly doubled.
  • Teahouse: The team has been finishing tasks to wrap up Phase 2 of the project, including continuing to refine automated invitations based on community feedback, and showcasing host activity and easy ways to get involved with the Teahouse. The main Teahouse pages are going through a usability redesign to simplify interactions for new editors. Next steps for the project include automating monthly metrics so that volunteers can continue to track activity in the space, the creation of a rotating Teahouse maitre d’ role to empower volunteer ownership over the remaining maintenance tasks, and improving calls to action that encourage acknowledgement of positive contributions in the project. A full phase 2 report, including updated editor retention metrics, will be released next month.

Editor Growth and Contribution Program

Logo of the Editor Growth and Contribution Program

  • Following the concept of Teahouse project, a new page to enable asking question was added to the design of the contribution portal on Arabic Wikipedia. The feedback of the existing community members was very positive when they were invited to answer new users’ questions on the newly created page.
  • Plans to run the editor growth and contribution program on Telugu and other Indic languages Wikipedias were drafted to explain the program to each language community.
  • Taghreedat project on training new Wikipedia editors is off to a good start. The project runs by mailing registered volunteers with certain tasks to be performed on Wikipedia, as a part of a learning cycle to teach them various Wikipedia editing skills. More than 700 registered volunteers worked on tasks such as creating their user pages, wikifing and categorizing existing articles, which resulted in contributing more than 2500 edits on Arabic Wikipedia so far.

Human Resources

HR supported two major events for the WMF staff. The first was a Strategy Retreat where Sue, the C-level team, and Directors with programmatic WMF responsibilities came together to discuss 2012-2013 initiatives, focus, and prioritization. Sue will be taking the output of this meeting to the board during their October board retreat.

The second was the AllHands, where all WMF staff come together to discuss current priorities and culturally relevant organizational issues, such as improving our practices for interacting with staff all over the world.

Staff Changes

New Requisitions Filled
  • Dan Andreescu, Javascript/UI Engineer (Engineering)
  • Mark Holmquist, Software Engineer – Features (Engineering)
Conversion
  • Diederik Van Liere, Product Manager – Analytics (Engineering)
New Interns
  • Alec Bogossian (Administration)
  • William Kelly (Legal)
  • Rubina Kwon (Legal)
  • Karina Pulec (Legal)
  • Julie Trias (Office IT)
New Contractor
  • Stefan Petrea (Engineering)
Contracts Extended
  • Amir Aharoni, Software Engineer – Internationalization (Engineering)
  • Everton Alvarenga, Brazil Education Program Consultant (Global Development)
  • Pau Giner, Interaction Designer (Engineering)
  • Heather O’Malley (Fundraiser)
  • Max Semenik, Software Engineer – Mobile (Engineering)
  • Santhosh Thottingal, Software Engineer – Internationalization (Engineering)
Departure
  • Phil Chang
Contracts Ended
  • Shiju Alex
  • John Grande
  • Subhashish Panigrahi
  • Martin Parry
  • Noopur Raval
  • Sara Smollett
  • Nitika Tandon
Department Changes
  • James Alexander, Tilman Bayer, Matt Roth and Jay Walsh joined Legal and Community Advocacy
New Postings
  • Data and Experiments Consultant
  • Global Education Program Senior Manager
  • IT Intern (Spring)
  • IT Technician – Tampa, FL
  • Software Developer General (Mobile)

Statistics

Total Requisitions Filled
September Actual: 122
September Total Plan: 145
September Filled: 7, Month Attrition: 5
YTD Filled: 21, YTD Attrition: 11
Remaining Open positions to fiscal year end
52

Department Updates

Real-time feed for HR updates:

http://identi.ca/wikimediaatwork or http://twitter.com/wikimediaatwork

Finance and Administration

  • We are working on a new design for the Engineering space to accomodate the growth in the team and to improve the functionality of the space. This project is schedule to be implemented during this calendar year.
  • We had a successful visit with the Wikimania 2013 team and we appreciated both the dedication of the team and commitment of their partners to having a successful Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong.
  • We have completed a review of our foreign exchange practice of converting all donations to USD and look forward to presenting a new foreign exchange policy and process to the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees.
  • As part of this new foreign exchange process we have setup a new muti-currency account in the UK in order to avoid converting some of our most active currencies to USD when the Wikimedia Foundation will need them for payments or grant making in those currencies, thus avoiding transaction cost and limiting currency exchanges.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation audit was completed and accepted by the Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees. The audit will be on the Wikimedia Foundation web site after the October Board of Trustees meeting.

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