The Wikimedia Foundation last week released the minutes and presentation notes from the April–June quarterly reviews. These quarterly reviews are an organizational method by which the Wikimedia Foundation's various teams present and critique the work they have done that quarter before the Foundation's executive staff. As the Signpost reported in our analysis of the Wikimedia Foundation's recently published State of the Wiki report, a major focus of executive director Lila Tretikov and COO Terence Gibley has been the consolidation of the ways in which the Wikimedia Foundation's various teams measure their progress and impact. These quarterly reports, consolidated from monthly ones at the beginning of this year, are a major part of this initiative.
I thought it would be interesting to piece the quarterly reviews apart and see what they have to tell us. I have focused on teams of core interest to the Signpost audience: our community.
Learning and Evaluation
The Learning and Evaluation team has been working on building documentation ("Program Reports") and toolkits ("Program Toolkits") for chapter activities and organization.
Chapters are the local, volunteer-organized community bodies that function as the face of the Wikimedia movement "in real life", and this centralized and well-formatted documentation aims to describe in detail how to go about organizing effective chapters and usergroups hosting effective "real life" events. This approach contrasts with the far more decentralized Learning Patterns Library, a community-generated list of "learning patterns" that outlines individual problems and their suggested solutions. Learning patterns are far from dead, however—they are much rawer and more internally oriented than the highly-polished Foundation technical write-ups, and the latter draws many of its information from expertise gathered in the former.
A problem that needs to be addressed is the discoverability of these resources: at the moment only hardened Wikipedians are aware of either program's existence, and your author is curious about how they are meant to integrate together.
Community resources has been working on a Community Capacity Development Framework, an elaborate name for a simple survey on the challenges facing emerging Wikipedian communities. The survey results have been published; action of indefinite nature addressing the issue, currently under internal discussion, is planned to be taken next quarter.
The success of this year's experimental Inspire campaign, themed to gender equality, has been analyzed, and is encouraging the organization of two more campaigns currently in planning for the next fiscal year.
Wikipedia Education Program
The education program considers itself as having hit all of its targets this quarter. Most of the team's activities have been relatively low-level.
Nothing scares the Wikimedia Foundation quite like the thought of rolling out VisualEditor, except the thought of not rolling out VisualEditor. Consensus was recently reached to begin a slow roll-out of the English Wikipedia. Most English Wikipedians still have poor memories of the catastrophic first rollout that was attempted in 2013; present consensus is a reflection of how far the software has come in the two intervening years of development. All eyes are on what's to result: discussion on the mailing list this week points to widespread chapter interest.
Meanwhile the team chalks up the recently completed SUL finalization as a success, finally closing an issue that has been hanging around on developers' minds for literally a decade. Having accounts truly global everywhere has now made possible a raft of deep-integration and cross-wiki engineering projects to come.
A steward visit to the WMF offices in San Francisco has been organized. Thought has gone into the Foundation's on- and off-wiki banning policies: office actions have always been one of the most high-level and at times controversial of the Foundation's powers, but the thinking now going into off-wiki policy, previously a local chapter responsibility, is novel. The Foundation is making overtures towards a planned "safe space policy". On the one hand this will be yet another overhead on large movement affiliates already well-versed in the problem; on the other hand there is evidence that it is indeed something that smaller organizations need institutional resources to better manage. Whatever eventually becomes of it, one thing is for certain: it is sure to be controversial.
The recent Lyon hackathon was highly successful, with 33 "showcased projects" over the 8 initially expected by the WMF. The Wikimedia Foundation's increasing focus on community appears to be having an effect in the volunteer development sphere (to whit, once the only sort of development), with green metrics across the board and various volunteer-support documentations working their way towards publication.
The Wikipedia Library program has been developing at a rapid clip.
The Discovery group, renamed from "Search and Discovery", is an emerging team with many new hires, and most of their goals this quarter were ones dealing with initial setup and surveying the field ("moving needles" per the comments on the report). The discovery department is a technical team focusing on information discovery within the Wikimedia projects. This includes not just optimizing and improving the projects' core Search function (a problem that was largely solved some time ago with the introduction of CirrusSearch), but also things like interfaces for data discovery on Wikidata, media browsing on Commons, and the WikiMiniAtlas maps engine.