++.  Anything we can learn + apply from Outreachy (and their own community
of mentors, alums, and practitioners!) would be wonderful.
Their impact per unit of funding seems, at very casual inspection, well
ahead of all comparable initiatives.  And we could even fund them directly,
who have often helped us in turn. ;)

On Fri, Aug 18, 2023 at 12:13 AM Erik Moeller <eloque...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 16, 2023 at 10:23 PM Steven Walling
> <steven.wall...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > With the money allocated to Knowledge Equity in the last couple years,
> we could have hired
> > at least a couple more software engineers to do work like fulfill
> community wishlist requests.
> I disagree with that framing. Wikimedia Foundation, even with reduced
> fundraising goals, is a very well-endowed organization that can easily
> shift more of its existing effort towards community wishlist requests.
> _All_ areas in which it spends money are deserving of healthy
> scrutiny, not just this new program. I feel it's best to evaluate this
> program on its own merits -- and to make a separate argument regarding
> the community wishlist & prioritization of software engineering
> ventures.
> To me, the question with these grants is whether there's a plausible
> theory of change that ties them back to the Wikimedia mission and
> movement. I share some skepticism about broad objectives around
> "improving quality of sources about X" without any _obvious and
> direct_ connection to the movement's work (i.e. concrete commitments
> about licensing and availability of information, or collaboration with
> Wikimedians). The Borealis Journalism Fund grant report [1] explicitly
> states:
> # of new images/media added to Wikimedia articles/pages: 0
> # of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects: 0
> Absolute value of bytes added to or deleted from Wikimedia projects: 0
> (There are qualifiers in the report, but frankly, they're not very
> plausible ones.)
> I see a lot of value in WMF having new connections with these grantees
> -- these are organizations Wikimedia _should_ have a relationship
> with. But do we best accomplish that by directly funding their
> operations? This statement from the latest announcement stands out to
> me:
> > The Equity Fund Committee [...] have also connected each of these
> grantees with regional
> > and relevant partners in the Wikimedia movement, including local and
> established
> > movement affiliates who can support knowledge equity work and help
> grantees learn about
> > how to connect back to the work of free knowledge on the Wikimedia
> projects.
> That's great, and I look forward to hearing what comes from these
> connections. I do worry a bit about slipping into a transactional
> framework -- "we give you support for your core mission, and to
> maintain good relations with us, you have some meetings with friendly
> Wikimedians in your area". Many grant-giving organizations tend to
> adopt transactional frameworks, sometimes overtly, sometimes without
> even realizing it. In the worst case, the grantee experiences it as a
> chore -- a checklist item to complete to apply for the next round of
> funding. Not saying that's where this program is at, just that it's
> something I would suggest watching out for.
> Personally, I see potential in the direction of well-scoped
> fellowships/residencies/internships paid by WMF, where both parties
> understand fully that engagement with the Wikimedia movement is part
> of what they're signing up for. There are pitfalls here as well:
> avoiding paid editing; making sure that the fellows themselves are
> diverse, etc. But these issues seem "closer to the metal" of
> Wikimedia's work, i.e. "the right kinds of of problems".
> There's a lot of institutional history to look back on & learn from,
> from GLAM residencies to WMF's internal fellowship program which you,
> Steven, went through so many years ago. I'd also encourage a close
> look at Outreachy, who have done amazing work getting diverse new
> contributors to join open source & open science projects. And that may
> be what you mean with "try less controversial methods to improve
> knowledge equity", but I feel this should be entirely about
> effectiveness and mission alignment, not about avoiding controversy.
> In general, I'd love to hear more from both the staff and community
> members on the committee how they came to their funding decisions
> (i.e. what set the successful grantees apart from the unsuccessful
> ones, and what theory of change animated the decisions), and where
> they'd like to see the program go in future.
> Warmly,
> Erik
> [1]
> https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/Knowledge_Equity_Fund_%28Round_1%29_-_Borealis_philanthropy_report.pdf
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Samuel Klein          @metasj           w:user:sj          +1 617 529 4266
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