News and notes
Third time's the charm: the FDC's newest round of funding requests
The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC), the volunteer-led body that evaluates chapter and (for the first time) thematic organizational annual plan grant requests to the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), is preparing for its third round of public proceedings to deliberate on the distribution of several million dollars of Wikimedia movement funds.
15 WMF-affiliated organizations are eligible to apply for this form of non-project-specific funding; project funding continues to be expanded through the WMF's Project and Event Grants Program, advised by the Grant Advisory Committee. Each fiscal year sees two rounds of fund dispersal by the FDC; last year's March round saw far higher numbers of requests than the October round (see Signpost coverage), and 2013 may see the same phenomenon. Two entities, Wikimedia Hong Kong and the Wiki Education Foundation, which conducts the WMF's US education program on Wikipedia, did not reach eligibility status this time. The former has not repaid unused grant funds from a prior dispersal, while the latter has not been recognized by the Foundation.
The Amical Wikimedia proposal stands out from the other applications as the first thematic organisation to apply for funds from the FDC. The group, which promotes free knowledge in the Catalan language, intends to ask for €90k to finance its programs. The largest affiliate request will come from Wikimedia Germany—by far the biggest Wikimedia chapter; it is currently considering asking for either €1.7M or €2.55M. The higher option would include support for the chapter's software development department, which in the past has delivered projects like Wikidata and RENDER, and is the only major institutional non-Foundation source of widely used Wikimedia tech projects and tools.
Good governance was a central question surrounding Wikimedia UK's last application in 2012–13, and the chapter, currently eyeing £780k, has recently found itself in another conflict-of-interest debate that has drawn media coverage.
Another application facing governance issues is the first application to be filed by Wikimedia India, seeking $200k. A community member publicly raised concerns over alleged employment dependencies among sitting executive committee members, and the last chapter election in August saw procedural uncertainties, with one candidate withdrawing in protest.
Applicants have until 1 October to finalize their proposals, after which the community can review and debate submissions for a month. FDC members, either WMF-appointed or community-elected, will consider both the applications and their related discussions in making their recommendation to the WMF board. Progress reports arranged by entity from the last early funding round (2012–13) can be viewed on Meta.
- Investment guidance: The Wikimedia Foundation's investment guidance has been published on their official wiki.
- Affiliations Committee: The Foundation's volunteer Affiliations Committee has published its public report surrounding its paid trips to Wikimania 2013 in Hong Kong. It appears to have been issued in response to community criticism in April ("$40,000 Hong Kong junket"; see Signpost coverage), where the use of movement funds to transport nine members of the committee to Hong Kong—including US$200 per night lodging and shortly after they met in Milan, Italy—was questioned.
- WMF renames: The Editor Engagements and Editor Engagements Experiments team have been renamed to "Core Features" and "Growth". The team's full mandates are available within Engineering Department's 2013–14 goals.
- Open position: Wikimedia UK is advertising for a three-month paid internship position. The hired person will be working on preparatory activities for Wikimania 2014, which will be held in London. Other open positions can be viewed in previous editions of the Signpost.
- Kickstarting Chopin: An intriguing new Kickstarter aims to "free the life's work of Frédéric Chopin", the 19th-century Polish composer and pianist who has some 245 musical pieces to his name, through paying professional performers and releasing the results under a CC0 license, also known as the public domain.
- Education Program: Jami Mathewson of the lengthily titled Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada has published an opinion piece focusing on the unmeasured skills students gain by writing for Wikipedia.
- Croatian Wikipedia biased?: In news that has attracted comment from angry Facebook users, the press, government officials, Jimmy Wales, and academics, the Croatian Wikipedia—39th by size, just behind the Hebrew—has been accused of having an extreme right-wing bias in its articles. Among the most interesting quotes comes from Snježana Koren, a historian, who stated to a press agency that "These are the types of articles you can find on the pages of fringe organizations and movements".