On 1 Mar 2016, at 5:00 PM, Erik Moeller <eloque...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 2016-02-29 19:24 GMT-08:00 Chris Sherlock <chris.sherloc...@gmail.com>:
>> With the greatest of respect, I'm not sure how could come to the conclusion 
>> that general
>> Internet search was not a core component of the Knowledge Engine.
> It's important to remember that this is a $250K grant, with a grant
> period that ends later this year. It's clear that this was done
> because everyone involved realized that the plans are likely to
> change.

That’s rather missing the point though. The plan may change, but from the very 
start we have been told the plan is not the one that was proposed to the Knight 

We have been told, over and over again, that the application is for internal 
search. I have quoted the relevant sections in my previous email that show that 
the Knight Foundation proposal, as written, was not at any stage what was being 
planned for (apparently) within the Board. 

The only other option is that there were indeed plans afoot within the Board of 
Trustees for an external search engine, but these got changed after the grant 
was submitted. In which case, James Heilman is entirely vindicated. 

This raises an interesting point though. Is this grant still active? If this 
grant is still active, who is actively working on it? What is currently being 
done in the Discovery team around this particular grant application? 

I’m very interested to hear who is in charge of getting this grant going if 
that’s the case. Have I entirely missed something (possible) or has there been 
no announcements about who or what is working on the requirements of this 
grant? The grant was issued in September last year, and the grant specifies 
that the initial $250,000 was for activities to be run over a 6 month period, 
after which the Discovery team needs to show some quite measurable results from 
the “discovery” stage. [1] In particular, the team need to establish core usage 
and performance metrics to work out core usage and performance metrics, and 
will need to have show test results of how well content can be found, the 
results of research and user testing, an improved search engine and API for 
Wikipedia searches, a public-facing dashboard of the core metrics used in 
product development, and a sample prototype based on a small dataset. 

So basically, 6 months means that by midway through this month, we will see all 
of these deliverables. Could someone please advise us how this is proceeding?  
I’d imagine that we should at least be able to see the dashboard by now, but 
I’m curious to find out more about the research that’s been conducted and the 
results of the user testing performed. 

> Knight has given grants to WMF in the past, including a $600K
> one with a longer grant period [1], so this isn't a particularly bold
> step for them or for WMF. Within the scope of a grant with these
> parameters, it's completely reasonable for WMF, at the end of the
> grant period, to go back to Knight and say: "We've done everything we
> committed to for the grant period [improve internal search etc.], but
> we won't be doing anything beyond that.”

I’m in complete agreement. The Knight Foundation I’m sure feels the same way. 
Sadly, that is definitely NOT the point I was making. From what I can tell, the 
Knight Foundation was given an application for increasing mobile access to 
those on lower end, less well powered devices. This has been a rousing success, 
and from what I can tell (as I can’t see the grant application anywhere) 
achieved every one of the criteria that were specified by the Knight 

That’s very different than saying, however, that we will be making an Internet 
search engine, building up a team within the WMF, and then pivoting the 
direction from what was stated radically. 

> That is not to say that this process was managed well -- obviously it
> wasn't. But at least there are no catastrophic long term consequences
> for the organization or for the movement, as far as I can tell. That
> is, unless Larry Page read one of the early news stories and decided
> to send a DESTROY WIKIMEDIA memo to all Alphabet companies, in which
> case I expect Boston Dynamics robots to show up at New Montgomery
> Street any day now. [2]

If I hear about any weaponized Roombas in Wikimedia Australia I’ll be sure to 
advise everyone immediately.

Personally, I think the idea of an open search engine is great. I think it 
should be largely based on Wikimedia projects, but the whole idea has a lot of 
merit. The governance, as I have said a number of times, and debacle about how 
various people have been treated and the loss of trust within the wider 
community due to closed an opaque processes, and abusive comments from the top 
of Wikimedia management, have made what *should* be a positive and lasting 
project into an absolute nightmare. We’ve lost an ED and a trusted member of 
the Board already, and a steady exit of very good staff. 


 - see page 2 and 3.

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