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Democracy in action: multiple elections

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By Bluerasberry, Bri, Andreas Kolbe, Oltrepier, Smallbones and HaeB

Become a Wikimedia Foundation trustee

Trustees talk about how the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees works.

Do you want to change the world? Do you want to change Wikipedia? You may want to apply to become a candidate for the upcoming WMF Board of Trustees election before 23:59 UTC May 29, 2024.

Four Community- and Affiliate-selected Trustees on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees will be elected this year.

If there are more than fifteen candidate applications, a shortlisting procedure will call on WMF affiliates to shortlist twelve candidates.

Voting will be held for a two week period starting at the end of August or beginning of September. You should be eligible to vote if you've made over 300 edits before August, but see details here.

Minimum requirements for candidates include fluency in English, experience serving on Boards or committees or other decision-making bodies, and experience in Wikimedia (or equivalent) movement building and organizing. Legal or project requirements include

See this page for all the details you need to know to apply. Or see this page for more general information on this election. – S

Wikimedia Foundation 2022–2023 reports

Video by Gwinyai Masukume, one of the medical editors featured in the Wikimedia Foundation's 2022–2023 annual report

Two as yet little-advertised – as far as we can tell – reports arrived online recently:

This is also available in pdf format on wikimediafoundation.org. It is not listed on the Wikimedia Foundation's Financial reports page at the time of writing, and unlike previous years, there does not appear to have been a community notification on the Wikimedia-l mailing list (yet?). Have we missed something?

At any rate, let's look at the pdf document's contents (the web version differs in places). After some introductory comments and figures, the report presents portraits of some editors of medical articles. These are followed by a feature on "Reading Wikipedia in the Classroom" projects in countries like Bolivia, Nigeria and Yemen. Next are "Champions of Wikimedia's Mission" – a feature on donors, followed by portraits of two WMF staff members.

The Financial Accountability section says that accountability and transparency are two principles that underpin the Wikimedia Foundation's core values. It presents the following expenses breakdown:

These are very nebulous categories; in particular, it is not very clear what the "33% support for volunteers and readers" (listed as just "Support for Volunteers" in the web version) consists of, exactly. Total expenses in 2022–2023 were, after all, around $170 million, as the very next page in the report shows. 33% of that would be well over $55 million.

Just for reference, the web version's dropdown text for "Support for Volunteers 33%" reads:

The global impact of Wikimedia projects is made possible by the dedicated efforts of volunteers from around the world. We provide grants, legal assistance, and other resources for our contributors to build thriving volunteer communities. Additionally, we encourage community engagement through outreach events and advocate for the growth and protection of free knowledge.

Right.

The next report section presents the names of the members of the WMF Board of Trustees and the WMF Executive Team. It is followed by another section on donors and, preceding it, a section on the Endowment and its first grantees – Abstract Wikipedia and Wikifunctions, Kiwix, the Wikimedia machine learning project and Wikidata. This then links to the other report published:

This report is hosted on the Endowment website. It indicates that the Endowment had grown to about $120 million by June 2023. This represents a growth of about $20 million, courtesy of over $14 million in gifts received and $10.8 million in investment gains (representing a 11.37% return on invested assets, according to the report) versus total expenses of $5.3 million, including over $3 million in grants, $1 million for fundraising and a little under $1 million for general and administrative expenses. The year marked a recovery after some losses due to the global financial situation; after all, the Endowment was first reported to have exceeded $100 million back in 2021. – AK

Foundation raises security concerns about new gadget to integrate external content with Wikipedia pages

After page load, the gadget displays a static image of the OWID graph from Wikimedia Commons, with a play button in the right upper corner.
Clicking the play button causes a pop-up to appear, asking for consent to share the reader's IP address with OWID.
If consent is given, the gadget loads an interactive version of the graph from OWID, with a blue back button that closes the graph and returns to the Wikipedia article.

As reported in the previous issue, last month the Basque Wikipedia added a gadget (enabled by a March 2024 software change) that allows viewing interactive content loaded from Our World In Data from within a Wikipedia article. It requires the reader to provide consent to having their IP address shared with this external website. Still, Andy Cooper, the Wikimedia Foundation's Director of Security, raised concerns:

We’re still looking into the risks that this particular gadget presents, but have identified that it raises larger and more definite concerns around gadgets that use third party websites more broadly, such as in a worst case scenario theft or misuse of user’s personal identity and edit history. This, in turn, raises further questions and how we should govern and manage this type of content as a movement.
As a result, we’re asking volunteers to hold off on enabling the OWID gadget on more wikis and to refrain from deploying more gadgets that use third party content and/or are automatically enabled for all users for certain pages until we have a better review process in place."

A newly created page on Meta-wiki contains further details and invites input on these issues.

The development of the gadget was funded by the Wiki Project Med Foundation. It came on the heels of a wider discussion about interactive content (or its absence) on Wikimedia projects (see March 29 Technology report). – H

A new Community Wishlist survey

Wikimedia Foundation staff genie User:JWheeler-WMF shares opportunities for making and voting on wishes:

The Community Tech team has announced they will release a refreshed Community Wishlist Survey on July 15, 2024. The new Wishlist will introduce a construct of “Focus Areas:” instead of fulfilling one wish, Focus Areas connect the dots between 3+ wishes, helping developers spend the same time addressing 3+ wishes by solving an underlying problem.

With Focus Areas, Communities can signal their biggest, most impactful problems, and work alongside the Community Tech team, WMF, affiliates, or volunteer developers to solve these issues.

What to expect:

Wikimedia community members who wish to learn more or comment on the process may do so at the Preview of the New Wishlist on Meta-Wiki. – Jwheeler, BR

Vote for Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee

Voting in a 2007 French election.

Voting ended on 9 May to seat the Wikimedia community volunteers who will establish and constitute the first Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee. There are challenges in predicting the routine activities of a newly-formed, quickly elected, volunteer-run, multicultural and global community organization, but this election is the latest milestone after years of planning with hundreds of Wikimedia volunteers as documented on the Meta-Wiki page for the Universal Code of Conduct. This committee's enforcement of the Code of Conduct will include addressing reports of misconduct with their judgements.

The Signpost has reported on Universal Code of Conduct developments including its January 2023 public election for ratification, March 2023 ratification of enforcement guidelines, and the March 2024 ratification of the overall charter. In February 2021 the Wikimedia Foundation reported the presentation of the Universal Code of Conduct idea. – BR

Brief notes

One of the winners of Wiki Loves Earth Portugal 2023. For more of the same, see the Wikimedia Portugal Annual Report.
S
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Wikimedia Foundation 2022–2023 reports

The WMF Annual Report has now been added to the Financial reports page. See notification in the Signpost Newsroom. The new Form 990 is now up as well and can be viewed here. --Andreas JN466 11:52, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

I guess the article is correct in calling out that the report is not super detailed about what the work in the various expense categories consisted of. But in that, it is not all that different from previous WMF annual reports and indeed from the annual reports of many other US nonprofits. They generally are more focused on storytelling and on selectively highlighting some work areas where attractive progress can be presented - rather than on comprehensive, detailed accountability about the work done by every major department, whether goals were reached or not etc. This is to be expected, as a main audience of these reports is donors and there is also an impetus to keep this kind of document reasonably legible and engaging. (Although one could ask whether the Wikimedia Foundations has followed the National Council of Nonprofit's recommendation to "Be honest and acknowledge both the highs and the lows" in this report - I haven't read it fully myself yet, but perhaps Andreas has an opinion.)

What is different about the Foundation's 2022-23 annual report is that this was the first fiscal year since 2007 where this glossy donor-focused report was not complemented by regular quarterly or monthly activity reports. The Foundation had been publishing such regular updates since 2008, first as monthly and quarterly reports, then in form of slide decks from department-wise quarterly check-ins or "Tuning sessions". This was the place you could go to if you wanted to know what a particular WMF department's main work focus areas were in a particular timespan and what progress they made on their goals from the WMF annual plan (say, the Advancement team in January-March 2022). These updates have also been a source of reporting for the Signpost, and informed various community discussion. In short, they were an important accountability tool.

These regular public department-wise activity reports that WMF had been maintaining since 2008 were discontinued in 2022 (as Andreas himself pointed out at the time), a few months after Maryana Iskander became CEO in January 2022. (There was a "End of year report 2022" which still had some of this kind of per-department information, although in form of less detailed "highlights" and for the entire 2021-22 fiscal year. In 2023, even this kind of annual activity report appears to have been no longer published, at least it is not listed here - CCing NGunasena (WMF) and RAdimer-WMF to confirm, as they published the 2022 version.)

In short, under its current CEO the Wikimedia Foundation has become notably less transparent about how it actually spends its budget, compared to the tenures of the preceding three CEOs/executive directors in the one and a half decades prior.

Regards, HaeB (talk) 13:40, 16 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Hi HaeB. The Foundation really is trying to share details about how our work is progressing and about how funds are being allotted and used (more info below). We appreciate your feedback in making this more visible to those who are looking for it.
In FY 2022-23, we published several updates by region - Africa (also available in fr and sw), North America, LAC (also available in es and pt), ESEAP (also available in id and ja), South Asia (also available in hi and bn), North and Western Europe, MENA (also available in ar, de, and fr), CEE and Central Asia and a discussion of the regional focus.
So far this FY, we've published our Q1 progress report on Diff (Q2 coming soon) and a snapshot of highlights in our draft 2024-2025 annual plan. We submitted the progress report to the Signpost to share this with more Wikimedians. You can follow updates, and quarterly metrics reports, on the 2023-2024 annual plan reports page.
At present, four Foundation-submitted posts are awaiting a response on the Signpost submissions page. The oldest, which was submitted in January, directly discusses work we've done on our Annual Plan goals. Other waiting posts discuss PageTriage updates, Wishlist updates, and the recently-published Form 990.
Maryana has regularly shared updates to Wikimedia communities. Through the Talking:2024 project earlier this year, Foundation leadership hosted 130 conversations with community members to learn about their needs and share Foundation progress and plans. You can read about one such meeting in the Signpost. And in March, we launched a new Wikimedia Foundation page on Meta-Wiki, with updated links to resources, reports, and contact information. NGunasena (WMF) (talk) 22:02, 17 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]
We want hard numbers. We'd like it all presented in one place with accurately-titled breakdowns all the way to the bottom, not couched in the usual vague nonprofit-speak. That's all we're asking for. We don't want to have to attend a ton of Google Meets and Zoom calls and piece together the information bit by bit. I don't attend WMF calls because I have very little free time that coincides with them, and I (and many others like me, I'm sure) would prefer to have everything written down in a single document which can be referred to at any time. Wilhelm Tell DCCXLVI (talk to me!/my edits) 13:38, 18 May 2024 (UTC)[reply]





       

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