Wikimedia Foundation Report, October 2011

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Information You are more than welcome to edit the wiki version of this report for the purposes of usefulness, presentation, etc., and to add translations of the “Highlights” excerpts.

ComScore unique visitor growth by region, September 2010-September 2011

Global unique visitors for September:

455 million (+7.5% compared with August; +%14.2 compared with the previous year)
(comScore data for all Wikimedia Foundation projects; comScore will release October data later in November)

Page requests for October:

16.8 billion (+6.1% compared with September; +15.6% compared with the previous year)
(Server log data, all Wikimedia Foundation projects including mobile access)

Active Registered Editors for September 2011 (>= 5 edits/month):

83,164 (-2.8% compared with August / +1.6% compared with the previous year)
(Database data, all Wikimedia Foundation projects except for Wikimedia Commons)

Report Card for September 2011:

The report card is currently undergoing a redesign as a more fully-featured dashboard (integrating various statistical data and trends about WMF projects).


(Financial information is only available for September 2011 at the time of this report.)

Revenue: $3,580,474


  • Technology Group: $2,169,824
  • Community/Fundraiser Group: $754,685
  • Global Development Group: $775,647
  • Governance Group: $263,091
  • Finance/Legal/HR/Admin. Group: $1,416,181

Total Expenses: $5,379,428

Total surplus/(loss): ($1,798,954)

Revenue was ahead of plan due to Stanton grant of $2.8 million and additional donations ahead of plan of $427,751.

Expenses were below plan at $5.4 million actual vs. $6.7 million plan. Expenses were below plan due to lower than plan expenditures in capital expenditures, chapter grants, recruitment cost and other activities due to being only three months into the fiscal year.

Cash of $16 million, which is six months of cash reserves at current spending levels.


Arabic Wikipedia meetings in the Middle East

Group picture at the Qatar Convening for Arabic Wikipedia

Barry Newstead, Frank Schulenburg, Moushira Elamrawy and Sara Yap of the Global Development department traveled to the Middle East to meet with Wikipedians in the Arab world and begin the expansion of the Wikipedia Education Program. Adel Iskandar, a professor at Georgetown University who had taught in the Public Policy Initiative (the U.S. Global Education Program pilot), joined the team to meet with professors and Wikipedians in Qatar, Egypt, and Jordan. These meetings will inform the planning of the Arabic Education Program, which will be launched in 2012. Over the course of a 14-day visit to Egypt, Jordan and Qatar, the Wikimedia team connected with local experts, university staff, student groups, and attendees at an Arabic Wikipedia Convening in Doha which was co-hosted by WMF together with the Qatar Computing Research Institute. The convening focused on ways to catalyze high quality growth of the Arabic Wikipedia across the Middle East and North Africa.

MediaWiki 1.18 and HTTPS support deployed

MediaWiki 1.18 was deployed to all Wikimedia wikis in October. Major features of the new version include:

  • Support for gender-specific user pages: In languages that have different words for “User” depending on whether the user is male or female, user pages are denoted by the male or the female version, if the user has specified their gender in their preferences.
  • Better directionality support: MediaWiki 1.18 makes it easier for left-to-right and right-to-left text to coexist on the same page. (Languages affected by this include Hebrew, Arabic, and Farsi.)

October also saw the rollout of native HTTPS support to all wikis, so that URLs like work to access the secure version of our sites.

A/B testing to improve editor retention

To improve retention of new Wikipedians, Steven Walling and Maryana Pinchuk from the Community Department collaborated with community members on the English and Portuguese Wikipedia in testing variations in the wording of warning messages. These ready-made messages are used in automated editing tools to alert new users about problems with their edits. A/B testing is used to find out whether more personal, less directives-oriented messages, or a friendlier wording, have an effect on the user’s subsequent actions: How often they edit afterwards, whether their subsequent edits are vandalism, whether they contact the more experienced user who issued the warning, and whether that contact is constructive or not.

The tests involved the anti-vandalism tools Huggle and Twinkle, and SDPatrolBot, a bot which warns users when they remove a speedy deletion tag from an article they are working on. Steven and Maryana also started to collaborate with community members in order to test improvements in the archiving of shared IP talk pages, where many such warning messages to anonymous editors are being left.


A detailed report of the Tech Department’s activities for October 2011 can be found at:
Department Highlights (see also general “Highlights” section above)

Major news in October include:

  • The New Orleans hackathon, which focused on Wikimedia’s infrastructure;
  • Native HTTPS support on all Wikimedia sites;
  • Progress on the Visual editor project, with the first prototype expected in the coming months;
  • The deployment of the Translate extension to meta-wiki;
  • The deployment of MediaWiki 1.18 to all Wikimedia sites;
  • The completion of the first revision of the MediaWiki architecture document;
  • The ramp-up by the fundraising engineering team, to prepare for the upcoming annual fundraiser.

The engineering management team continues to update the Software deployments page weekly, providing up-to-date information on the upcoming deployments to Wikimedia sites, as well as the engineering roadmap, listing ongoing and future Wikimedia engineering efforts.


  • HTTPS — HTTPS support has been enabled on all Wikimedia sites; mobile support is still to come. At some point in the future, we’ll be switching the log-in link to default to logging in via https.
  • Virtualization test cluster — Wikimedia Labs has been launched. We are starting to install instances to duplicate our production environment. We are also bringing up some instances for non-MediaWiki related work.

Features Engineering

  • Visual editor — Trevor Parscal worked on a new model tree (and the conversion from the linear model) and updated the software design documentation. Inez Korczynski worked on front-end functionality: dialogs, selecting text, mouse actions, scrolling, keyboard shortcuts, etc. Roan Kattouw focused on algorithms that insert ranges of data into a document, and Neil Kandalgaonkar on the removal of data. On the parser side, a basic parser using PEG is in place, which produces an intermediate JSON object tree; Brion Vibber is still working on markup support (mixed HTML and Wikitext). Gabriel Wicke joined the team and started to work on the PEG parser.
  • Internationalization and localization tools — Siebrand Mazeland and the rest of the team continued to plan their work using Mingle. Santhosh Thottingal added new features, and support for more languages, to the WebFonts extension, as well as new keyboard mappings and languages to the Narayam input method extension. Gerard Meijssen started to build language support teams focusing on localization and internationalization. A major achievement was the deployment of the Translate extension to Meta-wiki, by Niklas Laxström and Sam Reed; it will be used to translate content pages, e.g. for the 2011 fundraiser.
  • Article feedback — Work has started on Version 5 of this feature, which will focus on reader engagement, for example by offering new feedback forms and free-text comment fields; a comment moderation system is also planned. This project is led by Fabrice Florin, and will be implemented by an external contracting company, OmniTI.


  • MobileFrontend — The production version of our new Wikimedia mobile platform, launched in September, is no longer considered to be beta. Users can opt-in to the beta program to test new, pre-release features and provide feedback; future features include search suggestions and interwiki links. Phil Chang also set up a mobile features brainstorm page, and started to organize them.

Special projects

  • 2011 Fundraiser — October was a very busy month for fundraising engineering. The biggest achievement was the rewrite and deployment of the credit card processing software, the DonationInterface extension. It now supports GlobalCollect, a new payment processor, in addition to the existing ones. Work is underway to add support for non-credit card payments. Another major feature of the extension is the ability to easily create new forms simply by inserting template tags into HTML markup; it also leverages MediaWiki’s message translation system using From an operations perspective, we increased the monitoring capacity of the servers in the payment cluster, as well as the redundancy of systems.

Platform engineering

  • MediaWiki 1.18 — The deployment of MediaWiki 1.18 was successfully completed on all Wikimedia wikis. Developers are now fixing the remaining bugs before releasing 1.18 for third parties. The first beta is expected in early November.
  • Continuous integration — Chad Horohoe worked with the operations team to finalize the setup of the testing server, now online at It is currently running Jenkins (PHPUnit), and TestSwarm should be added soon.
  • Git conversion — Chad Horohoe started to prepare for the migration to git; he wrote a script to compare LDAP accounts to the information stored in Code review, and prepared for conversion tests from the current Subversion repository.
  • Volunteer coordination and outreach — Sumana Harihareswara continued to go through the backlog of commit access requests, and participated in a discussion on making it easier to get Subversion commit access. She encouraged volunteers who are interested in leading hackathons, teaching classes, or attending conferences to talk about MediaWiki. She also followed up with volunteers and potential new developers, notably from the New Orleans hackathon and Google Summer of Code mentors’ summit.
  • MediaWiki architecture document — Guillaume Paumier finished the write-up of the document, based on the input provided by developers, the existing documentation on, the auto-generated documentation from doxygen, and deep dives into the actual code. The MediaWiki community reviewed the document, which was submitted to the book’s editors. This project is considered to be mostly completed. Further work will include minor polishing and follow-up on the document and its publication, and integration of the content into the relevant pages on


  • We announced the winner of the Wiki Participation challenge, a data competition organized by the Foundation in partnership with Kaggle [1]. The full description of the winning entries and the code used in the submissions are publicly available. [2]
  • A new project funded by the Wikimedia Foundation and led by researchers based in the UK [3] kicked off in October and was further announced by a blog post [4]. The project will examine the accuracy and quality of Wikipedia articles across subjects and languages.
  • A large delegation of WMF staff attended WikiSym 2011 in Mountain View, CA on October 3-5 – an event that was co-sponsored by the Foundation. [5]
  • We published the 4th issue of the Wikimedia Research Newsletter (WRN), covering 21 items including highlights from WikiSym 2011 and recent academic research on Wikimedia projects [6]. The WRN is cross-posted on the Signpost, on Meta and now also on the Foundation’s blog where it can syndicated via an RSS feed. [7]
  • Wikipedia Campus Ambassador Cheryl Moy [8] joined the Research Committee as a new full member, while former member Luca de Alfaro resigned due to other commitments.
  • RCom member Mayo Fuster Morell organized the Global Forum on Building Digital Commons and Collaborative Communities, a 2-day event held in Barcelona on October 29-30 [9]. RCom members Milos Rancic and Dario Taraborelli as well as WMF analyst Erik Zachte participated in the event.
  • RCom member and Wikipedian in Residence in Open Science Daniel Mietchen presented his work on Wikipedia and Open Access and the RCom related activity at several events including Open Access Tage 2011, the Open Science Summit 2011 and the Vienna SciBarCamp. [10]
  • We provided continuous support to external research requests and reviewed new subject recruitment proposals. The Wikimedia research project directory was entirely redesigned. [11]


Community Highlight(s)

(see also general “Highlights” section above)

  • Production Coordinators visited the team in SF for a week. We developed efficient procedures, campaign set up structure, and best practices to be used during the Fundraiser, which is kicking off in November


Editor Retention

(see also general “Highlights” section)

  • In coordination with WikiProject User Warnings, Maryana Pinchuk and Steven Walling continued their testing in English Wikipedia of new template content to improve retention of new Wikipedians, forming a taskforce there and on Meta as well in order to document and support this work.[1][2]
  • With the help of community members, testing was extended to the use of Huggle on Portuguese Wikipedia, where it is a popular tool for dealing with vandalism.[3]
  • Department-wide discussion with guests Sara Stierch and Kevin Gorman on the recent gender-gap survey results and potential community outreach activities.
  • Wrapping up results of Portuguese Wikipedia community trends and behavior study with Global Dev






  • Production Coordinators visited SF for a week. One of the main focus of the visit was to find the most efficient procedures, campaign set up structure and best practices to be used during the Fundraiser
  • Kick-started testing for Payment Processing Chapters
  • Defined a new campaign structure and Blueprint for the Fundraiser
  • Enabled localization feature for CIVICRM bulk emails
  • Weekly fundraising messaging and technical tests ramped up in October in preparation for the November launch of the year-end campaign. [1]
  • We held a focus group to learn more about our donors and why they support the Wikimedia Foundation. A report from this research will be posted in November.
  • Stacey Merrick joined the fundraising team to lead social media strategy and implementation during the fundrasier.


Fundraiser Translations
  • 1100 translators signed up, 158 translations completed with another 141 in progress. New text is going into translation each day.
Major Gifts and Foundations
  • Submitted three new proposals for funding

Global Development

Global Development Highlights

  • Members of the department traveled to the Middle East to prepare the expansion of the Wikipedia Education Program and meet with local community members (see also general “Highlights” section above). WMF co-hosted a convening of Arabic Wikipedians in Doha with the Qatar Computing Research Institute.
  • Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Deutschland jointly fund the new Wikimedia Participation Grants program:

Grants Awarded and Executed

Six Wikimedia Grants were awarded in October. The largest among them, awarded to Wikibilim, the NGO furthering Wikimedia’s mission in Kazakhstan, will fund the first-ever regional conference of Turkic language editing communities, i.e. Turkish, Azerbaijani, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Turkmen, Uyghur, and of course Kazakh. Other grants support capacity building initiatives in Serbia and the Philippines, as well as events in Serbia, Catalonia, and for the Tamil Wikpedia community.

Brazil Catalyst [1]

  • Barry and Jessie went to Brazil in early October to meet with the community about a few key projects:
    1. University program: there are some viral education programs going on now, which we are supporting minimally but encouraging. We want to grow this program during the upcoming semester.
    2. Research on PT-WP: October was a particularly research-heavy month, and we are finding both encouraging and concerning things about Portuguese Wikipedia (PT-WP): edits remain steady, but editing is incredibly difficult and not viewed as “fun”. Contractors Daniela Feijo and Fabian Kaelin were working with Jessie and Siko on this. For more information, see
  • Office: we are planning to work with Executive Search Firm Michael Page to hire a Program lead to support program work in Brazil.

Arabic Catalyst

(see also general “Highlights” section)

Wikimania Scholarships

Average impact of scholarship program on interest in participation

  • Process for Wikimania scholarships has begun
  • Analysis is being done based on last year’s scholarship applications, and we are delighted to find that the scholarship process does in fact increase individuals’ interests in participating in the Wikimedia movement.
  • For the next scholarship cycle, communicate the selection criteria more transparently as well as increase publicity once application is open.

Mobile and Business Development

  • Visited India for meetings with top four operators. Anticipate announcing soon our first partner for Wikipedia Zero there and also an operator partner for developing low-end (SMS and USSD) services at the Hackathon. From all Global South operators, we are hearing great demand for SMS and USSD, so are further investigating how to scale development.
  • Began discussions with top 3 operators in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philipines. (Visiting next two weeks to advance partnerships.)
  • Continuing negotiations for large-scale Africa partnership.
  • Announced the rollout of global mobile partnership programme and Wikipedia Zero, and received coverage in Paid content, MocoNews, and various blogs.[2]
  • Finalized Sony Ericsson agreement. Wikipedia to be included in media player (eg “see more info on Artist”) for all next-release Android phones.

Global development research

  • Editor Survey: We have a final draft of the editor survey which we are planning to field in December, with internal and external output.
  • Readers Survey: Please read our blog posts about the readers study at .
  • Mobile Research: India, Brazil report is finished, and is being copy-edited. The mobile survey went back to field in October, and we used an external survey hosting company. The process of data cleaning is currently ongoing.

Global Education Program

  • Frank Schulenburg attended the Mobility Shifts conference in New York. He led a workshop that demonstrated how Wikipedia can be incorporated into a university curriculum.
  • Wikipedia Global Education Program staff were on-hand at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to talk with interested professors about Wikipedia’s use as a teaching tool in higher education. Wikipedia had both a booth in the exhibit hall and a presentation slot where staff members Annie Lin and LiAnna Davis discussed results from the U.S. pilot program.
  • On October 25, the first “Global Education Program Metrics and Activities Meeting” took place online. Ayush Khanna walked the participants through some high-level metrics such as student, professor and course numbers. Also, program representatives from India, Canada, Germany, the U.S. and the MENA region gave an overview of the program activities in their specific region. The meeting will take place on a monthly basis:
  • Wikimedia Foundation staff, including Global Education Program Director Frank Schulenburg, traveled to the Middle East at the end of October to begin planning the expansion of the Wikipedia Education Program to the Arab world (see also general “Highlights” section). Assisted by regional advisor Adel Iskandar, a professor from the U.S. Education Program pilot, the team met with professors and Wikipedians in Qatar, Egypt, and Jordan.

India Programs

Continued efforts underway to wrap up the Pune Pilot project and address challenges of the pilot.

  • Worked with online ambassadors from India and the US to address urgent problems with student editing behavior, especially plagiarism. Engaged with the broader EN:WP community on the challenges and actions to address persistent problems during the pilot.
  • Documenting learning to ensure that future work benefits from the lessons of the pilot:


Work through October focussed on major ongoing projects: launch of the online Wikimedia merchandise store, development of the 2010-11 WMF Annual Report (with a slated release by end of November), considerable support towards the new Qatar Fdn partnership, Wikipedia mobile outreach work, strategy and assistance leading up to the 2011 annual fundraiser, and support to WM global chapters on major milestones and local initiatives.

Major announcements

Stanton Foundation Awards Wikimedia $3.6 Million for Technology Improvements (Oct 5)$3.6_Million_for_Technology_Improvements

Indigo Trust awards Wikimedia a Grant for Mobile Improvements (Oct 14)

Qatar Computing Research Institute partners with Wikimedia Foundation (Oct 30)

Major Storylines through October

Italian Wiretap law draws WP block from it.Wikipedia community

Significant global coverage of the early October shutdown of IT.WP over the proposed ‘Blog kill’ bill being reviewed by the Italian parliament. The IT.WP shutdown drove the majority of mainstream coverage, including substantial coverage in Italy – and visibility of the actions ultimately altered the bill significantly. Most coverage was favorable towards the efforts of Wikipedia and critical of the proposed bill. (AP story)

Wikimedia Foundation and Qatar Foundation partner to expand presence in MENA

This month WMF signed its first major partnership in MENA to work towards increase the participation and presence of Wikimedia’s projects in that region. WMF partnered with the Qatar Foundation Computer Research Institute, with the aim to increase the number of Arabic Wikipedia articles to 500K in three years. Considerable Arabic media coverage of the partnership. (Arabic)

Other worthwhile reads

Why Wikipedia Is as Important As the Pyramids


The contribution conundrum – Why did Wikipedia succeed while other encyclopedias failed?

Google and Wikipedia team up to develop Setswana

The Amanda Knox Case – A Rare Failure at Wikipedia

Wikimedia Doubles Down On Mobile With Wikipedia Zero, Carrier Appeals

Wikipedia Signpost

WMF Blog posts

Media Contact

Human Resources

Staff Changes

New Permanent Position Hires
  • Phil Chang, Product Manager – Mobile (Technology)
  • Rachel Farrand, Assistant to the Technology Department (Admin)
  • Leslie Carr, Operations Engineer – Networking & Systems (Technology)
  • Kelly Kay, Deputy General Counsel (Legal)
New Contractors
  • Amir Aharoni
  • Andrew Bogott
  • Stuart Geiger
  • Oliver Keyes
  • Stacey Merrick
  • Antoine Musso
  • Neel Punatar
  • Angela Robeson
  • Heather Walls
Contract Extended
  • Aislinn Dewey
  • Chad Horohoe
  • Tracey Fleming
  • Christine Moellenberndt
  • Steph Thommen
  • Timo Tijhof
  • Diederik Van Liere
  • Peter Youngmeister
Contract Ended
  • Alex Graveley
  • Fabian Kaelin
  • Igor Kofman
  • Russ Nelson
  • Jan Paul Posma
New Postings
  • Global Communications Manager
  • Head of Office Administration
  • Software Security Engineer
  • Mobile UI/UX Redesign


Total Employee Count

October Plan: 106, October Filled: 4, October Attrition: 0

YTD Filled: 21, YTD Attrition: 6, Actual: 89

Remaining Open positions to fiscal year end: 28

Department Updates

HRiS is finally set to be implemented and launched, and the HR team spent most of October training and verifying data. This is a big step forward in terms of Foundation process, and service to our employees. We’re not hitting our recruitment targets yet, but we are making good progress. We added an additional contract recruiter this month who is focused on tech to help us build a stronger pipeline.

Real-time feed for HR updates: or

Finance and Administration

  • Hired two work study students from UC Berkeley to assist with administrative work load
  • Completed several facility repair projects including repairs to air conditioning
  • Working on updating wireless access in the San Francisco office
  • Engaged in an insurance review for the Foundation
  • Strong push on drafting or improving upon template contracts (volunteer agreement, unilateral NDA, trademark licenses)
  • Started implementation of online contract management system
  • Engaged in internal reviews, including trademark portfolio strategy
  • Seeking new legal interns for next semester
  • Strong support of fundraiser
  • Ongoing discussions over new proposed terms of service.
  • Stats for the month of October 2011
number of contracts signed – 19
number of trademark requests – 13

approved – 3
denied – 3
pending – 7

Visitors and Guests

  1. James Forrester (Wikipedian)
  2. Andi Gutmans (CEO of Zend, PHP Pioneer)
  3. Elaine Lennox (Chief Marketing Officer, Zend)
  4. Yosem Companys (The Diaspora Project)

(2011/12/05: Updated to reflect correction to the number of active editors)

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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