News and notes

Fundraiser 2011 ends with a bang

The Wikimedia Foundation is the only leading online entity to sustain itself entirely on donations. The Foundation's annual fundraiser is its biggest single source of income, having grown with the project since early efforts from 2004 and 2003. This year, a goal of $20M was set (up from $16M last year), making up the bulk of the Foundation's $28.3M 2011–12 budget.

As with last year's drive, this year's event kicked off with Jimbo Wales' "personal appeal", which consistently received the highest feedback in previous drives and it has again this year (see previous Signpost coverage), with a new green banner curiously gathering increased contributions. The appeals featured then shifted their focus to the community, turning the spotlight on appeals from individual Wikimedians over the past few weeks.

That effort concluded successfully this week, with the $20M goal reached on 2 January 2012. According to Sue Gardner, who graced the CentralNotice banner for some time following the windfall, "Ordinary people use Wikipedia and they like it, so they chip in some cash so it will continue to thrive. That maintains our independence and lets us focus solely on providing a useful public service ... I promise them we will use their money carefully and well."

Although the average donor contribution has remained steady, the number of contributors has been rapidly expanding, increasing ten-fold since 2008.

What will the money be spent on? The 2011–12 annual financial plan outlines operating costs through mid-2012, with $12.4M (44%) going to tech support, $6.9M (24%) to finance and administration, $6.5M (23%) to special programs, $2.2M (8%) to fundraising, and $300K (1%) to governance.

The Sakha Wikipedia reaches 8,000 articles after a successful publicity campaign

The Sakha language Wikipedia reached the 8,000-article mark three minutes before the New Year, at the conclusion of a "Marathon 8,000", announced just two days before the year ended. At the time, the wiki needed just 102 articles to achieve this milestone; nonetheless, organizers stressed quality over quantity in the drive, and aimed to attract the Sakha-speaking community to contribute to the Sakha Wikipedia, one of the few international projects that supports the Sakha language online. Despite the short timeframe, Marathon 8,000 proved successful, with a sum total of 109 new articles written within two days.

An ostrog in the city of Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic - an autonomous region in the North-East of Russia and the largest sub-national entity in the world.

The Sakha Wikipedia's Bureaucrat, Nikolai Pavlov, advertised the campaign in his and his friends' blogs and in announcements in the forums on, the most popular news and forums portal of Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic. In the announcements he appealed to regular Sakha-speaking web surfers and called them to join Wikipedia in their language and to get their children to write, too. Surprisingly, just a few hours after publishing, the moderator of the forums removed the notices as inappropriate, putting the whole campaign in danger. The posts were restored after a personal request from the organizers; Pavlov said that he is sure that this was not an intentional disruption, but a misunderstanding and that he is confident that will keep supporting the project, as it has done since its first steps.

The response to the campaign was immediate: dozens of editors, many of whom had never edited Wikipedia before, created new articles. The 8,000th article was about Mylajyn (Мылаадьын), a Sakha soldier in the Russian Civil War. Another marker of the campaign's success was that 1 and 2 January saw 20 new articles created by the new writers, an increase from normal levels and an "aftershock" of the campaign.

According to the Marathon's rules, the three winners are awarded an honorary title (in Sakha, "Марафон 8000 кыайыылааҕа"), and are entitled to display a badge on their user page as well as a framed certificate and a prize. The final results of the contest will be announced by 14 January.

Wikimedia UK hosts OTRS workshop

Wikimedia UK hosted a workshop this past weekend for Wikimedia OTRS volunteers which was attended by a number of active OTRS agents and one OTRS admin. OTRS volunteers handle e-mails sent to the various e-mail addresses for different Wikimedia projects, and their work includes answering questions and concerns from readers, BLP issues, complaints about copyright and permissions to reuse images and text. At the event, a variety of issues with the current OTRS setup were discussed including how to improve governance of the OTRS system, improving the somewhat infuriating interface, recruiting more active Wikimedians to participate in OTRS, and better handling of difficult or angry people e-mailing the community.

Difficulties faced by OTRS users include handling cross-wiki issues like notability or BLP policies on different language versions of Wikipedia and explaining international copyright policies to correspondents. Better training and mentoring of OTRS volunteers is something that people at the workshop have committed to, as well as considering how practical it would be to try to institute a requirement that e-mails be responded to in under seven days.

U.S. National Archives ExtravaSCANza!

Wikimedians scanning photos on Saturday, January 7 for the ExtravaSCANza

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) hosted a dozen Wikimedians this past week for a NARA ExtravaSCANza at their College Park, Maryland facility. The ExtravaSCANza was organized by Dominic McDevitt-Parks, the National Archives Wikipedian-in-Residence, culminating his 8-month stint at NARA.

In the evening on Wednesday, January 4, Wikimedians scanned NASA photos. The focus on Thursday was women’s suffrage and rights. On Friday and Saturday, Wikimedians worked on photos of Chile, along with battleship photos on Saturday. Wikimedians also helped out with the FedFlix project, digitizing videos, and experimenting with sound recordings. Highlights include radio broadcasts that encouraged Americans to answer questions from census-takers for the 1940 United States Census. Photos are being uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, and help is needed to categorize them.

Although NARA will be without a Wikipedian-in-Residence in the months ahead, collaborations will continue, including more scan-a-thon events.

Brief notes


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