The Signpost can announce that the long-awaited referendum on the new policy for the Arbitration Committee (ArbCom) will go live within an hour of the publication of this edition. The Arbitration Committee is a critical part of the English Wikipedia—a last resort to settle intense, hard-core disputes on the site that the community is not set up to resolve. The Committee has just ratified the proposed policy update, which has been rewritten over the past two years.
Discussion and feedback on the update has involved extensive community input: more than 35,000words over the past year, and almost 55,000 words in the year before that. There have been five revisions at roughly six-monthly intervals, the first in April 2009. Arbitrator Roger Davies told The Signpost that the way the Committee works in practice has evolved significantly since the first policy was ratified in 2005, yet the text has remained static; the proposed update to the policy reflects how things now work in practice, and is structured in a way that is much clearer and more accessible to editors.
All Wikipedians are encouraged to vote in the referendum.
Wikipedian residency at US National Archives begins with image donation
promoting participation in new or existing WikiProjects related to the holdings of the National Archives;
adding content to the Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource sites from digital copies of the holdings of the National Archives;
assisting with the digitization and online posting of archival materials;
working with Archives staff to explain Wikipedia’s practices;
organizing special events, such as backstage pass tours or editing challenge days, for the Wikipedian community; and
sharing the experience with the Wikipedian community and the public via videos, newsletter articles, or blog posts ...
As described by Sj on the "Wikilove.in" blog, Dominic has already secured an image donation of 220 high-resolution reproductions of public domain images, responding to an earlier uploading request on Commons for the already available low-resolution versions. It concerns a series of black-and-white photographs dating mostly from 1941–42, commissioned from photographer Ansel Adams – mostly landscape photographs of US National Parks and portraits of native Americans. Sarah Stierch (fellow Wikipedian-in-residence at the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, cf. Signpost coverage) pointed out that while Adams' photos are in the public domain, NARA's release of the high-resolution reproduction was nevertheless significant: Adams' work, she said, "is known for being one of the most accessible to the public eye – pleasant and monumental images of the parks of the West, often making their ways into calendars and posters in gift shops ... This accessibility and availability allows for cultural organizations to milk what they can out of licensing; fearing to release their images into the public domain due, claiming they'll lose major income. Many of us within the [GLAM] world know that this is rarely a truth".
The first editing challenge is currently in preparation, and will involve the "Today's Document" section on the NARA website. Dominic told The Signpost that it "will hopefully stimulate article content on Wikipedia to be used or referenced on the National Archives website, as well as bring in high-resolution documents from the National Archives."
Last week, NARA saw an hour-long presentation by Liam Wyatt (User:Witty lama, who has just left the Wikimedia Foundation's office, where he had spent part of his year-long WMF "GLAM fellowship" about cultural collaborations). In his introduction (as well as in a blog post), David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, said he had "long been a fan of Wikipedia", emphasized the importance of GLAM-WIKI collaborations, and called Liam Wyatt (whom he credited with introducing NARA to local Wikimedians) "one of the [Wikimedia] movement's greatest champions". In January, NARA had already hosted 90 Wikimedians for a one-day "WikiXDC" event celebrating Wikipedia's 10th anniversary (Signpost coverage).
As reported in the May "This month in GLAM" newsletter, DC Wikimedians were exploring possible collaborations with the Center for History and New Media last week, founded by the late Roy Rosenzweig – known to many Wikipedians for his 2006 essay about Wikipedia, titled "Can History be Open Source?".
IRC office hour with Sue Gardner and others on Foundation's financial planning
The log of last week's office hour with WMF Executive Director Sue Gardner has been posted. Topics included work on the 2011–12 annual plan. Gardner explained that "one of the issues the board grapples with ... is how much emphasis the Wikimedia Foundation should put on growing its operational reserve fund ... balancing the importance of programmatic activities (e.g., Visual Editor) against the importance of yes, having rainy day funding." Another part of the tech budget will go into the "Wikimeda Labs" projects. Brion Vibber said "it's still all a little vague at this point", but that it would include "adapting toolserver-like infrastructure and making it even easier for researchers and experimenters (should be very awesome). [It] will be more flexible than toolserver and we'll be able to let folks run more server-ish tools".
Trustee Kat Walsh talked about several aspects of the Board's work. Gardner also looked ahead to the wrap-up of the Public Policy Initiative, scheduled for September. The WMF intends to make permanent "the most successful elements of that program, and internationalise its work. .... We're also going to fund more 'editor recruitment' in India, and begin some similar work in Brazil. [We hope] to fund a couple of community convenings (gatherings of community members to tackle hard challenges like editor retention)... we're wanting to finally start the [online] shop, so people have easy access to Wikimedia merchandise ... and we'll be spending a little more money on legal work." Regarding financial sources, she remarked "that we (WMF) don't have a 'bad boy' donor policy. Some non-profits explicitly have people they won't take money from: we don't [have such a list]."
Board elections: Voting on candidates for the three community-elected seats on the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees has started (using the Schulze method, and employing servers of the independent nonprofit Software in the Public Interest). All three incumbents – Ting Chen (Wing), the current chair, Samuel Klein (Sj) and Kat Walsh (mindspillage) – are running again, competing with 16 other candidates (questions to candidates). Voting is possible until 12 June 2011 (23:59 UTC).
New Wikimedia chapter: Wikimedia Canada was approved by the Wikimedia Board of Trustees last week to become the newest Wikimedia Chapter. Incorporated as "Wiki Canada" (to avoid using the Wikimedia trademark before approval, similarly to Wiki UK), it currently has 25 paying members, according to Doc James from the board of directors, who told The Signpost: "Currently our two main projects are a) working to increase the involvement of medical students (we are working with UBC on creating a scholarship in medicine awarded to the student who makes the most significant contribution in combination with presentations on how and why one would edit) [and] b) some GLAM projects in Quebec." He explained how the chapter deals with the country's multilingualism: "Our website is fully bilingual and a large proportion of our membership is French Canadian, as is one of our board members, Benoit Rochon."
WMF Community liaison: The Foundation has hiredMaggie Dennis (User:Moonriddengirl) as "Community liaison", a new position within the Community Department, on the basis of a contract from 3 to 12 months. According to the job description, it includes serving as "an entry point for volunteer contributors to get answers to questions about the Foundation, or for introductions to Foundation staff, or to better understand a decision-making process or path. The job of the Community Liaison is to be a friendly face who is never 'too busy' to talk with contributors who have genuine questions or issues for the Foundation. The liaison steps into difficult discussions to explain details and context to staff and contributors to promote mutual understanding and healthy communication", and also "helps to integrate new Foundation staff into the Wikimedia community".
Wikimedia Board to give visitor status to "significant" contributors: In a resolution published last week, the Foundation's Board of Trustees decided on "allowing up to two visitors to observe the Board's work for a year", a status that will be restricted to "significant content, financial or expertise contributors", and will not involve voting rights. As reported two weeks ago, the Sloan Foundation had recently expressed an interest in obtaining "observer" status on the Board, while considering renewal of the $1million/year grant it had awarded Wikimedia in March 2008. The resolution was supported by eight trustees, while one voted against it and another one was absent.
Wikipedian-in-residence at Picasso museum: Catalan museum management student Àlex Hinojo (User:Kippelboy) has posted more information about his recently announced stay as Wikipedian-in-residence at the Museu Picasso. Kippelboy points out that it is "one of many fruits" of the Glamwiki BCN meeting last March at the Picasso Museum: "Following that event, museums across Catalonia, ... are beginning to establish contacts with the Catalan community of wikipedians." (More than a year ago, the Museu Picasso had already been represented in a GLAM-WIKI workshop, cf. Signpost coverage: "Wikimedians meet with museum leaders".)
First GLAM partnership in Mexico: Wikimedia México (a proposed chapter) has formed its first GLAM partnership, with the Museo de Arte Popular (MAP), a museum in Mexico City, founded in 2006 and dedicated to Mexican handcrafts and folk art. (The May edition of the "This month in GLAM" newsletter has more details.)
Fundraiser report: The Foundation's Community Department has published a detailed report analyzing various aspects of the last fundraiser.
Outreach news: Wikimedia Foundation fellow Lennart Guldbrandsson (User:Hannibal) has reported "News about the Bookshelf Project and new direction for Fellowship" on the WMF blog, including the fact that his fellowship work will now be devoted fully to the Account Creation Improvement Project, and that the process to apply for Bookshelf grants (money to print outreach material) has been simplified.
French chapter recruits two people: The French chapter Wikimédia Franceannounced the recruitment of two new employees. Adrienne Alix (User:Serein) – previously a PhD student in the history of religion, a high-school teacher, editor-in-chief at an e-commerce website, and outgoing president of the chapter – is now Director of Programs. Her work will include managing partnerships and projects with institutions (governments and GLAMs). Carol Ann O'Hare (fr:User:CarolAnnO) holds a master's degree in integrative and cognitive neuroscience, and another in political science. She is the director of the popular science association Plume, which already partners with the chapter for the Wikipeplum project to help PhD students edit Wikipedia. As the Research and Education Manager, she will be in charge of developing the relationships with the academic world. On the same day, two other job offers were unveiled, for a community/technology manager and a fundraising manager.
Wikipedia articles join their subjects in Rennes: As part of celebrations of the French Wikipedia's 10th anniversary, ten panels were put up in Rennes, France, displaying Wikipedia articles about notable sights next to their subjects. The panels were made in cooperation with the city, which supported the event, and include a quadratic hole through which the article's subject can be regarded, illustrating the encyclopedic text directly. Like their digital sources, which they link through QR codes, the physical Wikipedia articles in Rennes have not been spared vandalism. Pictures of the panels and the other events are available at Commons
Wikimedia Germany report: The German Wikimedia chapter has published its report for April 2011. Among other activities, many of them covered previously in The Signpost, it describes the organizing of a conference at the University of Göttingen to connect Wikipedia and the field of ancient history, and the intended purchase of a photo microscope for use by the German Wikipedia's biology WikiProject ("Redaktion").
POTY final begins: Voting on the 36 finalists of the Commons "Picture of the Year (POTY) 2010" contest began on May 29 (some votes had already come in on May 19, before the voting was halted temporarily). Eligible user can submit their vote for one picture until June 7 (23:59 UTC).
New administrator. There is one new admin: Drmies (nom), from the US, has a long record of content contribution and experience in New-page patrol, Unassessed biography articles, DYK and cleaning up unreferenced BLPs. At the time of publication there is one live RfB, Maxim's second, due to finish Wednesday, and one live RfA, for January, due to finish early Sunday UTC.