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[Wikimedia-l] One Year Update
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Hi everyone - This month marked my official one-year anniversary as CEO of
the Wikimedia Foundation. Based on some feedback from this list, I have
tried to send a regular update every few months (see January
I wanted to send another one today to reflect on my first year, and share
upcoming work we have planned at the Foundation.

Some of you may recall that I prepared for joining Wikimedia with a
two-month listening tour
that led me to talk to a few hundred volunteers and Foundation staff across
55 countries. This shaped the five puzzles
and three priorities
that I shared with you when I started. These puzzles continue to guide what
I believe are the biggest questions we must answer collectively, especially
the question of, "what does the world need from us now?"

I also completed the three priorities I outlined last January: (1)
reimagining the Foundation's annual plan
to be more firmly anchored in our movement's strategic direction; (2)
recruiting a capable Chief Product & Technology Officer
for the Wikimedia Foundation; and (3) starting to refresh the
Foundation's organizational
values <> to
guide our ways of working with each other, and with all of you.

English Fundraising Campaign

As 2022 came to a close, a Request for Comment (RfC) launched on English
to propose changes to the messaging of year-end fundraising banners. The
Wikimedia Foundation accepted the guidance provided by the RfC, and
established a co-creation page
<> to seek
volunteer input on banner messaging from community members. Throughout the
fundraising campaign, the Foundation team posted regular updates to this
co-creation page. In brief, over 450+ banners were tested during this
year's campaign, and $24.7M of revenue was raised compared to the original
$30M goal (a shortfall of $5.3 million). During the first few days, the new
banners resulted in about 70% less revenue than on the corresponding days
in the prior year. Additional information on the campaign results are
posted here
The fundraising team will continue to work with all language communities on
banner messaging in the year ahead, and we look forward to building on what
we learned in this campaign.

The RfC raised a much wider range of issues than just fundraising
banners. While
anticipated revenue shortfalls made this a difficult period for the
Foundation, I believe we tried to hear these broader concerns, many of
which are shared across communities beyond English Wikipedia.

One concern was about the very rapid budget growth of the Foundation, which
has stabilized in the last year. Given the revenue gap from this year's
English campaign, we are reviewing and lowering our expenditure for the
current year. And I anticipate we will have a reduced budget and certainly
slower growth next year. We will have more information by April on future
financial projections.

I communicated previously that I have started frank conversations with the
Board of Trustees and Foundation staff about what roles the Foundation
should grow (like support for technology) and what activities we should
hand over to others or stop altogether. Looking ahead, the size of our
budget should be driven by what the Foundation should be doing and can
actually do well. The 2030 movement strategy provided guidance (and
motivated much of our historic growth), but was short on specifics. I await
the Movement Charter
<> to
provide further clarity, but believe the Foundation may need to make some
decisions sooner.

A second concern was about the Foundation's responsiveness to editors and
other technical contributors. We collectively have to respond to decades of
growing technical debt, poor processes for maintaining software, and
staying relevant in a world where technology keeps going faster. There is
no quick fix to most of our technical challenges.

That said, our Chief Product and Technology Officer Selena Deckelmann
<>, who comes with
experience supporting online communities and collaborating with technical
contributors, has made meaningful progress in her first six months. She has
shared the following update:

"We've made progress on PageTriage issues raised by New Page Patrollers in
an open letter. In the last 120 days, 141 patches have been reviewed
through collaboration between the Foundation and the community. There have
also been several meetings between community members and staff to talk
about the future of PageTriage and the newcomer experience, and there is
now work planned in Q4
to update the extension. We continue to engage with Commons
as we are making critically needed software upgrades to community
prioritized tools. The Foundation's Wishathon
(leading up to the community wishlist kickoff for 2023) involved about 40
staff contributing time over a week in December to deliver 71 patches and 4
wishes granted. We are working with communities to make Vector 2022 the
default skin, after 3 years of development work, feedback and continued
iteration with wiki communities."

In March, Selena will be ready to host forums to share what she thinks are
needed improvements to the Foundation's processes, including technical
support and collaborative product development. Beginning next week, the
Foundation’s product and technology teams will start posting their planned
objectives to solicit input and guidance from contributors.

And, finally, comments were made in the RfC about the unclear role of Tides
in managing the Knowledge Equity Fund
Over the next few months, we will be moving the remainder of the Equity
Fund from Tides back into the Foundation. Relatedly, the Wikimedia Endowment
has received its 501(c)(3) status from the US Internal Revenue Service. We
are in the process of setting up its financial systems and transitioning
the Endowment's funds out of Tides as well.

Looking Ahead

In my 9-month update, I shared that my top three priorities will remain
strategy, leadership and culture.

On strategy, the Board of Trustees will meet this March in New York to
consider a few topics that require taking a multi-year view:

(1) Wikimedia's financial model and future projections for revenue streams
in online fundraising (which we anticipate will not continue to grow at the
same rate), the next phase of the Wikimedia Endowment, and the lessons we
have learned so far from Wikimedia Enterprise
first year in operation.

(2) Re-centering the Foundation's responsibility in supporting the
technology needs of the Wikimedia movement by understanding the needs of
our contributor communities, as well as emerging topics like machine
learning/artificial intelligence and innovations for new audiences.

(3) Beginning more focused conversations to establish frameworks and
principles for understanding the Foundation's core roles and
responsibilities. This is intended to help to provide inputs into the
movement charter deliberations and broader movement strategy conversations.

Members of the Movement Charter Drafting Committee
and Wikimedia
Endowment Trustees
will join in the March discussions, and we will share a report with you
after the meeting.

This strategic planning will happen concurrently to our annual planning
cycle. Annual planning is being led this year by the needs of our Product &
Technology departments. This will be the first time since about 2015 that
these two departments will undertake joint planning. Our intent is to
repeat the two-way planning processes we experimented with last year,
both on-wiki
and off-wiki
. Finally, we intend to provide more granular information about the
Foundation's staffing, team structures, and specific budgets as an outcome
of these planning efforts.

On leadership, we have welcomed new Trustees
to the Board following the last community-and-affiliate election. I also
made a few senior staff appointments: Lisa Gruwell was named Deputy to the
CEO alongside her responsibilities as Chief Advancement Officer; Anusha
Alikhan became the head of communications at the Wikimedia Foundation;
Nadee Gunasena was appointed Chief of Staff; and as of this week, Stephen
LaPorte formally begins as the next General Counsel.

I believe that values and culture will matter the most for any real reset
to occur in how the Wikimedia Foundation relates to communities, and
vice-versa. This is especially true when trust has to be built and
maintained; and when any kind of change has to be catalyzed and sustained.
The Board and Foundation tried to model this in how we heard and responded
to the request for changes in fundraising banners. And we will continue to
spend more time reflecting on what the world and our global communities
need from us now.

I think we are heading more in the right direction and continue to welcome
your feedback either on my talk page
or at


Maryana Iskander

Wikimedia Foundation CEO