News and notes
Fundraiser row continues, new director of engineering
Fundraising row continues
In the wake of heated discussions concerning a possible restructuring of the way in which the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia chapters handle the raising and spending of donor funds (see Signpost special report), staff at the Foundation released a memo in an attempt to reiterate the argument for abandoning the current role of chapters in processing payments (and pocketing some of them) during the annual fundraiser, in favour of a central committee made up of an international group of volunteers. As with previous communications from the Foundation's board of trustees, the memo ignited much criticism, with many chapter-affiliated editors critiquing its factual accuracy and impartiality at length. The discussions took centre stage at the 2012 Finance meeting, which was held in Paris over the weekend and which is expected to further spur the ongoing debate.
Director of Features engineering hired
Terry Chay has been hired by the Wikimedia Foundation to fill the position of Director of Features Engineering. Chay holds an M.S. in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and is a former member of Automattic, the company behind WordPress, and in that capacity helped in "implementing an A/B testing framework, improving the blog domain name registration process...[and] creating better support mechanisms for first-time users". Before that he was an engineering manager and software architect for several start-ups and tech companies between 1999 and 2009, such as Plaxo and Tagged. He has attended the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, contributing to the PHP talks there, and given over 25 public talks about web development.
As the new Director of Features Engineering, "Terry will be responsible for helping ensure the success of some of our key feature teams: the visual editor team, the editor engagement team (including the article feedback project), and the fundraising engineering team." His hiring also means that the current occupant of the position, Alolita Sharma, will be moving into another directorial role, although what this will entail exactly remains to be seen.
- Wikimania update: Although deadlines for Wikimania 2012 travel scholarships passed on 16 February of this week, Wikimedia Poland has announced its own for the event. Ten scholarships will be administered for Poles and six to those from other countries, as long as they have a "lower income per capita than Poland." Wikimedia Poland is particularly interested in Wikimedians from former member countries of the Soviet bloc and from the Balkans, excluding Estonia, Greece, and Slovenia by the second consideration. Scholarships will cover travel, accommodation, and the conference fee; the deadline for submissions is March 9.
- Outreach at Brazilian "Campus Party": Brazilian Wikimedians and employees of the Wikimedia Foundation attended the "Campus Party" technology festival in São Paulo, evangelizing for participation in Wikimedia projects and exploring the possibility of holding a MediaWiki hackathon in Brazil.
- Wikimedia Highlights, now with translations: Translations of the Foundation's January 2012 monthly highlights, published alongside its January report, are now available in various language translations. A global delivery service has also been set up.
- GLAMcamp goes to Washington: In the first summit to focus specifically on the GLAM initiatives of America, Wikimedians gathered in Washington DC over the weekend to network, discuss and provide an infrastructure for the nascent GLAM movement. Lori Phillips, the Foundation's US Cultural Partnerships Coordinator commented that "the most important result of GLAMcamp DC was the renewed solidarity and energy of US GLAM-Wiki volunteers, who are now looking to better connect cultural institutions in every state with the resources of GLAM-Wiki US and the broader GLAM-Wiki community".
- New administrators: The Signpost welcomes our newest administrator, Fayenatic london.
- Milestones: The following Wikimedia projects reached milestones this week: the Persian Wiktionary has reached 70,000 entries, the Latin Wikipedia has reached 70,000 articles, and the Indonesian Wikipedia has reached 6,000,000 page edits.