[Wikimedia-l] Feedback on the Wikimedia Foundation’s annual plan for 2023–24

2023-04-24 Thread Frank Schulenburg
Dear all,

A good annual plan provides staff with clear direction for the upcoming year. 
It builds on the long-term strategy and on the organization's core values. It 
takes the external trends and forces into account that affect the 
organization's ability to fulfill its mission. It is written in a language that 
is understandable. It sparks excitement about the road ahead, while creating a 
shared understanding of what success looks like and how to measure it.

Measured against these criteria, the Wikimedia Foundation's annual plan for 
2023–24 is an enormous improvement over previous documents of this kind and I'd 
like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in creating this plan 
for their hard work. 

The plan does a great job at providing context and is also honest in its 
assessment of what went wrong in the past, as well as about the general 
situation we're currently in. It acknowledges that "there are activities where 
others in the movement may be better placed to have meaningful impact". It is 
honest about the collective "strategy fatigue and loss of momentum" we've been 
facing for a while now.

With regard to the high-level picture, the plan describes clearly how the 
ongoing change in search habits on the web and the advent of generative AI have 
the potential to affect our projects significantly going forward. When you dig 
deeper you'll find all kinds of little nuggets that address technical and 
non-technical issues we've been dealing with over the past couple of years.

I found the plan easier to read than comparable documents we've seen on Meta 
and elsewhere. As a non-native English speaker, I particularly welcome this 

On this list and on our wikis we've traditionally been quick in pointing out 
flaws and what's not working well. I hope this email is a step toward a world 
where we're equally as fast when it comes to providing positive feedback 
whenever appropriate.

All the best,

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[Wikimedia-l] Re: Mozilla's social media pledge

2022-12-30 Thread Frank Schulenburg
I strongly support Erik’s and other people’s call for the Wikimedia Foundation 
to join Mastodon. Not only for the obvious ethical reasons, but also simply for 
the fact that platforms like Mastodon can only grow long-term when there’s 
enough activity and good content that makes engagement enjoyable and 

We’re currently seeing a good level of engagement around Wikipedia, Wikidata, 
and other free knowledge-related topics on the platform. People on Mastodon are 
eager to hear more about our work and we shouldn’t miss the additional outreach 
opportunity that Mastodon offers. I surprised me to see how much engagement I 
got out of a recent post explaining that "Taking photos for Wikipedia" was a 

Now, with that being said, I think most people at the Foundation are on 
vacation right now. Let’s be patient and hear their response to this thread 
once they’re back.

All the best,

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[Wikimedia-l] Re: Luis Bitencourt-Emilio Joins Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

2022-01-13 Thread Frank Schulenburg

Thanks so much for your announcement and welcome to Luis! Given that we’re 
talking about a board role that requires a range of governance / oversight 
responsibilities, could you please tell us more about Luis’ non-profit board 
and governance experience? 



> Am 1/12/22 um 09:19 schrieb Nataliia Tymkiv :
> Dear All, 
> Please join me in welcoming Luis Bitencourt-Emilio to the Wikimedia 
> Foundation Board of Trustees. Luis was unanimously appointed to a 3-year term 
> and replaces a board-selected Trustee, Lisa Lewin, whose term ended in 
> November 2021 [1].
> Currently based in São Paulo, Luis is the Chief Technology Officer at Loft, a 
> technology startup in the real-estate industry. He brings product and 
> technology experience from a globally diverse career that has spanned large 
> technology companies including Microsoft, online networking sites like 
> Reddit, and a series of entrepreneurial technology ventures focused in the 
> USA and Latin America. Luis has led product and technology teams across Latin 
> America, the United States, Europe and Asia. He is passionately involved in 
> building and promoting the entrepreneurial ecosystem for Latin American-based 
> startups. 
> Luis has more than two decades of experience across product development, 
> software engineering, and data science. At Microsoft, he led engineering 
> teams shipping multiple Microsoft Office products. At Reddit, he led the 
> Knowledge Group, an engineering team that owned critical functions such as 
> data, machine learning, abuse detection and search. He was deeply involved in 
> Reddit’s growth stage and worked closely with Reddit’s communities in that 
> evolution. Luis also co-founded a fintech startup to help millennials manage 
> and automate their finances.
> His career has also been shaped by a visible commitment to recruiting diverse 
> leaders. At Reddit, Luis was a key member of the recruitment efforts that 
> achieved equal representation of women engineering directors. Luis says his 
> proudest achievement at Microsoft was building their Brazilian talent 
> pipeline by working closely with local universities to place thousands of 
> engineering candidates at Microsoft, as well as his involvement in expanding 
> global recruitment to markets including Ukraine, Poland, Great Britain, the 
> EU and Mexico. 
> Luis was educated in Brazil and the United States, receiving a Bachelor of 
> Science in Computer Engineering with Honors from the University of Maryland. 
> He is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. He is also a proud father 
> and dog lover. 
> I would like to thank the Governance Committee, chaired by Dariusz 
> Jemielniak, for this nomination process as well as volunteers in our Spanish 
> and Portuguese speaking communities who also met with Luis or shared their 
> experiences.
> You can find an official announcement here [2].
> PS. You can help translate or find translations of this message on Meta-Wiki: 
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard/January_2022_-_Luis_Bitencourt-Emilio_Joins_Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_of_Trustees
> [1] Lisa Lewin served from January 2019 till November 2021: 
> https://foundation.wikimedia.org/wiki/Resolution:Renewing_Lisa_Lewin%E2%80%99s_Appointment_to_the_Board_of_Trustees,_2021
> [2] 
> https://diff.wikimedia.org/2022/01/12/luis-bitencourt-emilio-joins-wikimedia-foundation-board-of-trustees/
> Best regards,
> antanana / Nataliia Tymkiv
> Chair, Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
> NOTICE: You may have received this message outside of your normal working 
> hours/days, as I usually can work more as a volunteer during weekend. You 
> should not feel obligated to answer it during your days off. Thank you in 
> advance!
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[Wikimedia-l] Invitation: Virtual Meeting of the Commons Photographers User Group (March 20)

2021-03-17 Thread Frank Schulenburg
Dear all,

This Saturday, March 20, the Commons Photographers will host their first
virtual meeting of 2021. External guest Ben Horne will talk about large
format wilderness photography, followed by a question-and-answer session.
Ben shoots 8×10 film and he's YouTube's first, and longest active landscape
photography vlogger.

If you're interested in learning more about large format photography (
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_format), please sign up here:


Also, if you haven't seen it yet, here's what our members shared as their
"most memorable shot" of 2020:


You can learn more about our group's activities in our most recent annual


And, just in case, if you're interested in joining, please add your name to
our membership list:


All the best,

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF political activism

2020-04-24 Thread Frank Schulenburg
Given that this page


clearly aims at influencing the election of political candidates to
public office and "build political pressure", can we expect the Wikimedia
Foundation to file Form 1120-POL as mandated by the IRS?




Am Fr., 24. Apr. 2020 um 14:14 Uhr schrieb Samuel Klein :

> Everyone supports Earth Day.
> Earth Day Live was confusingly different... in a strange time.
> On Thu, Apr 23, 2020 at 10:42 PM Chris Gates via Wikimedia-l <
> wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org> wrote:
> > Adding onto this, it appears the WMF is proudly and publicly displayed on
> > the participants, which may as well be endorsements, page for Earth Day
> > Live: https://www.earthdaylive2020.org/get-involved/
> >
> > I'm simply astounded by this. Never would I have expected the WMF to take
> > such a strong political position on the American left.
> Ah yes, alongside such noted pillars of the American left as...  
> KDE, Vivaldi, Tumblr, Imgur, and Mapbox*.*
> Benjamin Lees writes:
> > I think we should avoid keeping "campaign" banners (even those which
> aren't expected to be controversial)
> > hidden away until the last minute.
> Good point.
> SJ
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] The Case for Federation: Should Parts of WMF Be Spun Off?

2016-03-18 Thread Frank Schulenburg
Hi all,

I'd like to add some thoughts to the discussion about the potential pros
and cons of spinning parts of the Wikimedia Foundation off. I’m writing
this in my personal capacity and this email might not represent the views
of the Wiki Education Foundation.

This is a comparably long note; the upshot is that in my opinion there are
more pros than cons.

== PRO ==

* Distributed risk: If one part of the new ecosystem fails, the rest should
still be healthy enough to survive. Today, if the WMF implodes, everybody
else will be affected in a big way. If we manage to successfully create a
number of separate organizations of what is today WMF, the risk will be
spread. Some parts will still be vital for the survival of others, though.
So, that has to be taken into account during the process of spinning off.

* Specialization of EDs: People who are experts in their field tend to
produce better results. During the last ED search, WMF struggled with
finding a “unicorn”. In order to run the WMF, you’ll have to be able to
deal with a high level of complexity, understand the community, be willing
to deal with public criticism, understand how to build an effective
engineering organization, etc. Splitting WMF into different organizations
would make subsequent ED searches easier as their expertise won’t have to
be as broad as under the current conditions.

* Better focus: Organizations with a narrower focus are likely to do
better. Wiki Ed is only one example. I’ll leave it with that because LiAnna
has explained this point already nicely.

* Shorter and more efficient decision making processes: The larger an
organization, the more it tends having more levels of hierarchy. This
affects decision making – smaller organizations can react more quickly and
more efficiently to changing conditions.

* Feeling of ownership leads to higher job satisfaction: This one is
closely related to my last point: people in a smaller organization tend to
feel a much higher level of ownership over the outcomes of their work. As a
result, they’re more motivated (which, in most cases, will lead to better

* Stopping things that don’t work: Larger organizations tend to continue
projects although the outcomes of those projects are questionable. They can
simply afford it. Spinning off parts of the WMF would require the spin-offs
to justify their existence every single day. That seems to put a lot of
pressure on these spin-offs. However, the result would actually be good: if
an organization doesn’t continually deliver value to the ecosystem as a
whole, it will disappear. That’s better than a continued investment of
resources into projects that everybody knows don’t have the impact that
people expected them to have.

* More potential for innovation: Independent organizations have more
freedom to look at things from a fresh and different angle. While I was
still with WMF, everything needed to be done in MediaWiki. From the
perspective of the WMF that made sense. However, for what Wiki Ed needs to
accomplish, we believed that building our own software outside of MediaWiki
(but communicating with Wikipedia’s platform through OAuth) would be
better. Today, WMF is working on adapting Wiki Ed’s software to the needs
of a global community (see Edward’s email).

* Positive effects of competition: In a world, where organizations are more
independent, they won’t always choose a service provider within the
Wikimedia ecosystem. Instead they might decide to work with outside
contractors who are able to deliver better results in less time. As an
example, Wiki Ed worked with an outside contractor based in Seattle to
develop its dashboard. We could have partnered with WMF, but the project
might not have received the same level of attention. We’re happy with the
results, and now there’s one more company in the world that has a growing
understanding of Wikimedia’s requirements.

* Geographic diversity: if we decided to spin-off parts of WMF, we'd have
the opportunity to think about where these parts should be located. Given
the extremely high cost of living in the Bay Area and meager opportunities
for WMF to recruit people locally (for the many obvious reasons; e.g.
competing with Facebook and Google for talent is hard), some of the spun
off parts might be located in other regions of the world. This would make
the Wikimedia ecosystem more diverse than it is now and will most likely
reduce costs.

== CON ==

* Coordination gets more difficult: With parts of the WMF getting spun off,
coordination between these parts will be more vital than ever. The risk is
that one organization doesn’t know what another organization is planning to
do / started executing / learned along the way. A solid process of
communicating things can solve this. However, this requires the willingness
of everybody to communicate early and often. And, in fairness, this is
already an existing problem in need of better solutions, given the large
number of chapters and affiliates WMF 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] (press release) Frank Schulenburg named executive director of new Wiki Education Foundation

2014-02-13 Thread Frank Schulenburg
Hi all,

First of all, thanks a lot for the many good wishes that I received on- and
offline. Let me answer some of the questions that came up in this thread.

(1) WMF grant money

The Wiki Education Foundation received a grant to get things off the ground
last year as part of the Projects and Events Grants process. The Wiki
Education Foundation has already reached out to a major donor in the United
States and is confident to get third-party funding in place by the second
quarter of this year.

(2) Office space

One of the first things on my to do list will be to start looking for
office space in San Francisco. From February 18th on, I plan to work out of
my living room (yes, my wife knows).

(3) Recognition

At this point, the Wiki Education Foundation would like to focus on
programmatic work. Like many organizations that are not formally recognized
Wikimedia organizations, we will be part of the global free knowledge
community. We look forward to participating in various education and free
information events consistent with our mission, including through
participation at Wikimania and working closely with like-minded groups
within the United States, Canada and other countries.


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Paid editing v. paid advocacy (editing)

2014-01-09 Thread Frank Schulenburg
Thank you for highlighting something I should have clarified better in my post, 
MZMcBride. That sentence should have read paid advocacy editing in line with 
Sue's blog post that you referenced. 

We continue to support the important work Sarah and others have done in the 
GLAM sector through projects like Wikipedians in Residence. 


On Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 6:22 PM, MZMcBride z...@mzmcbride.com wrote:
Frank Schulenburg wrote:
[...] it is widely known that paid editing is frowned upon by many in the
editing community and by the Wikimedia Foundation.


Paid editing is not the same as paid advocacy (editing). This is a very
important point.

Suggested reading:


N.B. an example of paid editing that few would likely have an issue with
in the first link and Sue's careful and correct wording in the second link.

If we're going to have such a fine distinction, we should probably better
document it to avoid misunderstandings.


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[Wikimedia-l] Tomorrow: Office hour inside out (program evaluation)

2013-03-20 Thread Frank Schulenburg
Hi folks,

Tomorrow at 17:00 UTC, I will be holding an office hour about program
evaluation on #wikimedia-office. The target audience for this office
hour will be chapter representatives and volunteers who are currently
running (or planning to run) programs and programmatic activities.
You'll find some background information about why program evaluation
might be worth talking about in my most recent blog post on the
Foundation's blog:


As we all know, most office hours follow a certain rule: there's one
poor staffer who is getting grilled by the people on the IRC channel –
people ask a variety of questions and the staff person tries to answer
every question in a limited amount of time. It's a lot of fun (I
guess, at least for the people who're asking the questions) and it has
been a good way of direct communication between WMF employees and the

Now, this office hour will be different. Not that I don't enjoy being
grilled for one hour :-) I've done IRC office hours several times
before and I always enjoyed answering questions. The reason for this
office hour to be different is that I want to _listen to you in the
first place_. I would like to learn more about

* _your_ thoughts about why evaluation might be important
* _your_ experiences with making evaluation a part of program design
* _your_ hopes and fears when it comes to increasingly evaluating
programs and programmatic activities in the future
* _your_ ideas and feedback on evaluation practices

Ideally, we would have some people in the room tomorrow who have done
some kind evaluation in the past or who are planning to embark on
evaluation work in the near future. With that said – if you have no
idea about what program evaluation is and you'd like to learn more
about it, you're invited as well! Or maybe you're just curious to see
if this office hour inside out is going to play out well ;-)

I'm looking forward to meeting you tomorrow at 17:00 UTC,


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