Jay Walsh wrote:
>Passing along for your information. This release is posted on the WMF
>wiki at https://www.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/95859
>An accompanying Q&A can also be found here:

For wikimedia-l in particular, it probably would have been better to
include the FAQ rather than the press release. The FAQ has far more
relevant info for this list. :-)  Ah well.

Federico Leva (Nemo) wrote:
>WEF is a spin-off from WMF, with direct management continuity. Good or
>not, it's standard for spin-offs to have a special treat from their
>parent organisation. A number of things can be said and done about this
>of course but it's hardly surprising.

A $147,000 grant and the full support and cooperation of the Wikimedia
Foundation. A platinum parachute, perhaps. At least there's a good bit of
transparency here, which I (app)laud.

(I was going to add "a member of the Wikimedia Foundation staff" to the
list as well, but it turns out Jami Mathewson was a consultant and hasn't
been listed on the staff and contractors page since December 2013.)

In any case, not a bad way to go out. And a mutually agreeable separation
is always preferable to the alternative.

There seems to be an undercurrent on the list (a rumbling below the
surface) about the Wikimedia Foundation's role in supporting GLAMs and
other educational institutions that I'd like to directly address. I think
it makes sense to once again look at this document from October 2012 in
which Sue lays out that the Wikimedia Foundation's core priorities should
be grant-making and engineering:

I see a dismantling of the Programs group (cf.
<https://www.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/95865>) as a means of
continuing this narrowing of focus. The Board and current head of the
Wikimedia Foundation seem to agree that doing cultural outreach, at an
institutional level (i.e., Wikimedia Foundation <--> GLAMs and other
educational institutions), is not currently a top priority.

If anyone believes that this is wrong path to be taking, you'll need to
convince or replace Board members, particularly in conjunction with the
upcoming strategic planning process which will cover 2016 and beyond.
While 2016 seems somewhat distant, at nearly 200 staff members, the
Wikimedia Foundation has become a big machine that can't move as swiftly
any longer (and that's partially a good thing). It takes time and patience
to add or remove large, high-level focuses (and Board members).

In this particular case, Frank gets a good bye and the people in his
department get relocated, with grant-making (a core priority) taking in
some staff and engineering (a core priority) taking in some staff. I can
somewhat understand others being disappointed or disagreeing with these
changes, but they're hardly surprising and I, personally, think that the
Wikimedia Foundation is largely headed in the right direction. I think it
can still be leaner and more focused, but, again, time and patience. :-)


P.S. I'm still recovering from whiplash as I initially thought this press
release was announcing a new Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director.
"Frank Schulenburg named executive director of new WEF" is quite close!

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