On 2/21/15, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
> (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
> impact.

That's actually debatable. There's grumbling about WMF code review
practices not being sufficient for WMFs own code (or as sufficient as
some people would like), and code review is definitely a severe
bottleneck currently for existing volunteer contributions.

However that's not a reason to have no IEG grants for tech projects
ever, its just a reason for code review to be specifically addressed
in the grant proposal, and for the grantee to have a plan. Maybe that
plan involves having a (volunteer) friend who has +2 do most of the
code review. Maybe that plan involves a staff member getting his
manager to allow him/her to have 1 day a week to review code from this
grant (Assuming that the project aligns with whatever priorities that
staff member's team has, such an arrangement does not seem
unreasonable). Maybe the grant includes funds for hiring code review
resources (ie non-wmf people with +2. We exist!). Maybe there is some
other sort of arrangement that can be made that's specific to the
project in question. Every project is different, and has different

I do not think expecting WMF engineering to devote significant
resources to IEG grants is viable, as I simply doubt its something
that WMF engineering is willing to do (And honestly I don't blame
them. They have their own projects to concentrate on.). IEG's are
independent projects, and must be able to stand mostly on their own
with minimal help. I do think getting WMF to perform the final once
over for security/performance of a project prior to deployment, at the
end, is reasonable (provided the code follows MW standards, is clean,
and has been mostly already reviewed for issues by someone in "our"
community). At most, I think bringing back 20% time, with that time
devoted to doing code review of IEGs, would be the most that we could
reasonably expect WMF to devote (but even if they didn't want to do
that, I don't think that's a reason not to do IEG tech grants).

Code review is an inherent risk to project success, much like user
acceptability. It should be planned around, and considered. We should
not give up just because there is risk. There is always risk. Instead
we must manage risk as best we can.


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