(Now continuing this discussion on Wikimedia-l also, since we are
discussing grant policies.)

For what it's worth, I repeatedly advocated for allowing IEG to support a
broader range of tech projects when I was on IEGCom. I had the impression
that there was a lot of concern about limited code review staff time, but
it serms to me that WMF has more than enough funds to to pay for staffing
for code review if that is the bottleneck for tech-focused IEGs (as well as
other code changes).

I also think that the grant scope policies in general seem too conservative
with regard to small grants (roughly $30k and under). WMF has millions of
dollars in reserves, there is plenty of mission-aligned work to be done,
and WMF itself  frequently hires contractors to perform technical,
administrative, communications, legal and organizing work. It seems to me
that the scope of allowed funding for grants should be similar to the scope
of allowed work for contractors, and it would serve the purposes that
donors have in mind when they donate to WMF if the scope of allowed
purposes for grants is expanded, particularly given WMF's and the
community's increasing skills with designing and measuring projects for

In the past I think there were probably some wasteful uses of grant
funding, and the response at the time might have been to prohibit or refuse
to fund entire categories of expenses. Now that everyone has more planning
and evaluation capacity, it seems to me that this is a good time to rethink
the categorical prohibitions and replace at least some of them with
appropriate expectations for impact that would better serve our overall
mission of creating and sharing knowledge.

On Feb 21, 2015 12:05 PM, "Brian Wolff" <bawo...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 2/21/15, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > In general WMF has a conservative grant policy (with the exception of
> IEG,
> > grant funding seems to be getting more conservative every year, and some
> > mission-aligned projects can't get funding because they don't fit into
> the
> > current molds of the grants programs). Spontaneous cash awards for
> previous
> > work are unlikely. However, if there is an existing project that could
> use
> > some developer time, it may be possible to get grant funding for future
> > work.
> >
> [Rant]
> I find this kind of doubtful when IEG's (which for an individual
> developer doing a "small" project is really the type of funding that
> applies) have been traditionally denied for anything that even
> remotely touches WMF infrastructure. (Arguably the original question
> was about toollabs things, which is far enough away from WMF
> infrastructure to be allowed as an IEG grant, but I won't let that
> stop my rant...). Furthermore, it appears that IEGs now seem to be
> focusing primarily on gender gap grants.
> I find it odd, that we have grants through GSOC and OPW to people who
> are largely "newbies" (although there are exceptions), and probably
> not in a position to do anything "major". IEG provides grants as long
> as they are far enough away from the main site to not actually change
> much. But we do not provide grants to normal contributors who want to
> improve the technology of our websites, in big or important ways.
> Ostensibly this is done in the name of:
> >Any technical components must be standalone or completed on-wiki.
> Projects are
> >completed without assistance or review from WMF engineering, so MediaWiki
> >Extensions or software features requiring code review and integration
> cannot be
> >funded. On-wiki tech work (templates, user scripts, gadgets) and
> completely
> >standalone applications without a hosting dependency are allowed.
> Which on one hand is understandable. WMF-tech has its own priorities,
> and can't spend all its time babysitting whatever random ideas get
> funded. So I understand the fear that brought this about. On the other
> hand it is silly, since a grant to existing tech contributors is going
> to have much less review burden than gsoc/opw, and many projects might
> have minimal review burden, especially because most review could
> perhaps be done by non-wmf employees with +2, requiring only a final
> security/performance sign off. In fact, we do already provide very
> limited review to whatever randoms submit code to us over the internet
> (regardless of how they are funded, or lack thereof). If IEG grants
> were allowed in this area, it would be something that the grantee
> would have to plan and account for, with the understanding that nobody
> is going to provide a team of WMF developers to make someone else's
> grant happen. We should be providing the same amount of support to IEG
> grantees that we would to anyone who submitted code to us. That is,
> not much, but perhaps a little, and the amount dependent on how good
> their ideas are, and how clean their code is.
> [End rant]
> Politically, I think its dangerous how WMF seems to more and more
> become the only stakeholder in MediaWiki development (Not that there
> is anything wrong with the WMF, I just don't like there being only 1
> stakeholder). One way for there to be a more diverse group of
> interests is to allow grants to groups with goals consistent with
> Wikimedia's. While not exactly super diverse (all groups have similar
> goals), at least there would then be more groups, and hopefully result
> in more interesting and radical projects.
> --bawolff
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