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Wikimedia Foundation publishes its Form 990 for fiscal year 2022–2023

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By Andreas Kolbe, ELappen (WMF), HaeB, Smallbones, Bluerasberry, and Bri

Form 990: WMF now holding quarter-billion dollars

Black and white Wikimedia Foundation logo

The Form 990 is a United States Internal Revenue Service document that provides the public with financial information about a nonprofit organization. It is often the only source of such information. The Wikimedia Foundation recently published its Form 990 for the 2022–2023 financial year, along with an FAQ on Meta and a public-facing blog post. Here is a very brief summary of some key points:

Net assets at the end of the year (not including the $120M Wikimedia Endowment) were $254,971,336 (up from $239,351,532).

"Direct support to volunteers"?

The WMF blog post and the FAQ further mention that –

Our second largest expense category is direct support to volunteers. A third of our expenses went to support volunteers totalling $56.1M, of which $24.7M is given as grants to community groups for their work towards the Wikimedia mission.

Careful readers will note that this says nothing about what the remaining $31.4M was spent on. The paragraph continues:

You can find out more about the grants in this fiscal year in the Wikimedia Foundation Funding Report.

This sounded promising. But the linked Wikimedia Foundation Funding Report covers "grants to mission-aligned organizations and people around the world, totaling $17,512,472". Disappointingly, the figure of $24.7M is nowhere to be found on the page.

As we were drafting this article – in public, as we usually do – the WMF added an explanation to the FAQ on 30 May 2024 that the $24.7M additionally includes –

This is welcome information. However, the $17.5M that are accounted for in the Wikimedia Foundation Funding Report already include $1M for the Knowledge Equity Fund. According to this, then, there were two separate Knowledge Equity grants for $1M each. Right?

And apart from the Wikimania scholarships, none of the items mentioned – support for Wikidata, the Endowment and the Knowledge Equity Fund, which gives grants to various NGOs unrelated to the Wikimedia projects (see previous Signpost coverage) – would seem to benefit volunteers directly. So why are they included under "direct support to volunteers"? Moreover, whichever way one cuts it, we were still well over $30M short of the claimed $56.1M volunteer support total.

But the edit made to the FAQ on 30 May addressed that too. It added the following new text to the FAQ:

The Foundation spent $56.1M on support for volunteers in FY 22–23, of which $24.7M was given as grants to community groups for their work towards the Wikimedia mission (line 4b in Part III). The remaining spend of $31.4M funded volunteer support work led by Wikimedia Foundation teams, including legal support, trust and safety support, community programs like GLAM and education work, partnerships, public policy work, human rights work, community research such as the Community Insights survey, and communications. Through these activities, the Foundation aims to support, protect and advocate for volunteers, and expand the impact and reach of the Wikimedia projects.

The information added to the FAQ does improve the page. But it still seems odd that the $56.1M spent on "direct support to volunteers" should include $7.5M in grants given to Wikidata, the Wikimedia Endowment and the Knowledge Equity Fund. One gets the sense that these may be "broad strokes" data published for PR purposes, rather than rigorously sourced figures.

Salaries and severance payments

The WMF's salary costs were up from $88.1M to $96.8M. Page 9 tells us that 252 individuals (up from 233) received more than $100,000 in reportable compensation. Page 53 of the Form tells us that there were no big raises for Wikimedia executives in 2022–2023. In fact, some of the top earners' total compensation shrank slightly, with increases in base salaries cancelled out by the absence of bonuses and incentives (cf. previous year). Ten executives had total compensation above $300K; figures for the top five on page 53, column E, are:

Severance payments (page 54) were:

Below, for your reference, is the announcement the WMF's Elena Lappen submitted to us for publication in The Signpost. – AK

WMF announcement

Expense breakdowns for the 2022–2023 fiscal year

The Wikimedia Foundation released its Form 990 for fiscal year July 2022 – June 2023 on 14 May. It is now available on the Foundation website, along with FAQs available on Meta. The Form 990 is the annual tax form required of all nonprofits in the United States. It contains disclosures about an organization’s finances, governance practices, activities and more. The highlights of the Foundation's 2022–2023 Form 990 show: high ratings for governance policies; information about leadership transitions; revenue numbers supported mostly by donations; slow growth in expenses driven primarily by an increase in the grants budget and in personnel costs; and expense breakdowns that aligned with the 2022–2023 Annual Plan goals. More details about these highlights are available in a summary post on Diff. Questions and comments can be left on the FAQ talk page.

Wikimedia Movement Charter ratification begins

The Signpost encourages all individual Wikimedia editors and all Wikimedia movement affiliates to express their support or rejection of the Movement Charter in the vote scheduled to take place from 25 June till 9 July.

The Movement Charter would guide many governance decisions in the Wikimedia Movement by establishing a Global Council of Wikimedia community volunteer representatives who make funding decisions, such as overseeing the money described above. Wikimedia Deutschland's vision for the Charter is that it should empower the "Global Council as the highest decision making body" in the Wikimedia Movement, even over the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikimedia Deutschland has complained that the current draft does not do this and instead positions the Global Council as an advisory body without decision-making authority. Attendees at the Wikimedia Summit rejected the current Movement Charter draft pending the correction of a series of deal-breaking problems, including that the charter failed to provide resources for the Wikimedia community to maintain its own directly managed staff to access Charter rights, failed to grant the Wikimedia community power to demand Wikimedia Movement financial transparency, failed to make the Global Council accountable to the Wikimedia community, failed to clarify the division of powers between itself and the Wikimedia Foundation, and had a series of other shortcomings ranked by severity. The Wikimedia Foundation itself rejected the draft with its own recommendations for improvement.

Regardless of challenges, the Movement Charter Drafting Committee is optimistic that they can revise the rejected draft to make it acceptable by 18 June in time for that ratification vote to run for two weeks starting 25 June. The Charter Electoral Commission will be running two elections, one which will ask individual Wikimedia editors to vote and one which asks each registered Wikimedia organization to issue votes representing that organization. The charter will be ratified if both individual and affiliate votes pass with more than 50% approval.

Movement Charter Drafting Committee member Risker says, "We are now doing final work on the Charter that will be the subject of the ratification vote. One should always keep in mind that, given there are around 70,000 potential voters, the number of individuals who have commented and provided feedback is actually very, very small. Without a much more major push for participation, we really don't know what the broad level of the community thinks about the charter. We've tried a range of activities to get the broader community involved, but I think it's been known for years that many (most?) Wikimedians only comment on proposed significant changes when there's likely to be a direct impact on them; to this point, I'm sure many folks have believed this was largely a theoretical discussion with little or no effect on them. We will have a much better sense of where the broad community, the affiliate community, and the Board of Trustees stands after the ratification vote. If the vote succeeds, then we have a charter. If it does not....well, we will also have a metric tonne more comments, including a lot from individual Wikimedians. We will all have a result by Wikimania, at which point next steps can be discussed."

Again, do your civic duty and VOTE. Get out the vote and remind your wiki colleagues to vote. Comment on the charter when it is published. The Wikimedia Foundation, your fellow wiki editors, The Signpost, Wikimedia affiliate organizations, Wikimedia's readers, and Wikimedia donors all want you to protect Wikimedia values by participating in governance. BR

The New York Times, NPR and Reuters block Wikipedia editors from citing their articles

The "Cite" button in VisualEditor

A bug filed on April 12 (phab:T362379) uncovered that "several major news websites (NYT, NPR, Reuters...) block citoid", the service underlying the "Add a citation" tool in Wikipedia's Visual Editor. The tool retrieves metadata (like author, title and publication date) from the cited site to generate a reference, and fails with a "we couldn't make a citation for you" message in those cases.

As explained by the Wikimedia Foundation's Citoid expert Marielle Volz:

The NYTimes has been blocking us for a while, it briefly worked when we changed datacenters and ergo IP, but they've understandably reblocked us after a few weeks' reprieve!

[...]

This is partly a consequence of the fact that over the last few years our traffic has increased a lot, we didn't used to trigger IP blocks as often.

Sam Walton (who, as product manager for The Wikipedia Library, maintains contact with various publishers including Elsevier, whose ScienceDirect database appears affected too) confirmed that

We've been explicitly told by at least one organisation that the block is deliberate unfortunately, due to concerns with the volume of traffic. I agree that there are convincing reasons for them not to block us and that it is ultimately in their best interests – we'll just have to see how these conversations go.

However, other comments questioned whether the rate of citations requested (which on average only amount to a few per second overall according to one commenter) could really be the root cause of overloading the APIs of external sites, and further discussion veered into an investigation whether Citoid itself might be generating an excessive amount of traffic, possibly due to issues with the Zotero service that it relies on.

At the time of writing, the tool worked again for a New York Times article, but was still failing for examples from NPR and Reuters. – H

U4C election results in no quorum

Results were announced on May 31 by the chair of the Elections Committee for the first elections for the Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C). Only seven of the sixteen seats were filled. Thirty other candidates did not receive the required 60% support from the voters. The U4C serves "as final recourse in the case of systemic failures by local groups to enforce the UCoC."

Eight members of the committee are required to form a quorum to vote or to make any decision, though the committee may still conduct discussions. The only exception is that they may call a special election and set its scope, to seat additional members. 0xDeadbeef, one of the newly elected members, states that so far "there doesn't appear to be any progress" in finding a way to secure a quorum. Another newly elected member, Ghilt adds that changes to the rules are contemplated: "It is obvious that the current set of rules is partially dysfunctional."

Three candidates were elected to fill regional seats:

Four candidates were elected to fill community-at-large seats:

The Signpost thanks all candidates, the election committee, and voters for their participation. – S

WikiConference in Indiana, 4–6 October 2024

Wikimedians of Indiana User Group, other Hoosier Wikimedians, and the WikiConference North America team invite the world to WikiConference North America in Indianapolis, Indiana on 4–6 October. Scholarships were available to attendees in North America until 31 May. Submissions are currently being sought, with no posted deadline, but the sooner the better. – BR

Brief notes

A group from Wikimedia Germany travelled to Prague for the Wikimedia Europe General Assembly in June, where the next goals for Wikimedia Europe were set.
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The New York Times, NPR and Reuters block Wikipedia editors from citing their articles

This photo on Commons got 90 million hits per day!

A WMF update:

"We're learning more as we are talking to owners of the sites who've decided to block Citoid, while also trying to be sure about how much traffic we're sending to them.

We're in conversation with the owners of one property who have said that the traffic pattern looks like abuse traffic. We're trying to learn in what way this is so - Volume? A nonstandard user agent pattern (which we've since changed)? Spikes?

More updates to come."

Regards, HaeB (talk) 04:53, 11 June 2024 (UTC)[reply]

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