Saturday, August 13, 2011

#Wikimania question: "Jimmy what would you do with a million dollar"

The oral history of Wikimania has it that during a traditional board Q&A, I asked Jimmy Wales what we would do with one million dollars. Jimmy referred to this in his latest "state of the Wiki", the closing presentation of all Wikimanias.

In those days, the scrutiny of the community was no less; for many people Wikipedia only needed money for hosting, all other things were considered distractions from our "mission".

The Wikimedia Foundation has grown up considerably, its budget runs now in the multiple millions, its staff has grown to run programs that absorb the money that is put to good use. There is a steady flow of reports. The Wikimedia Foundation is doing well.

It is different with some of our chapters. Chapters are very much integral of our movement, they often gain considerable amounts of money during the annual fund raiser and it is often not known what they do, if they spend it and, how they spend it.

I urged several chapter people at Wikimania to let their stories be heard. Many of them are truly inspirational, a lot of good work is done but unknown to our wider community. As you approach them with good faith, even when you accept their good intentions, the sheer amount of money involved makes it hard if not impossible to accept the radio silence from many chapters. Spending money well is an art in itself, it is already hard when you are flush with cash and you have to consider even more money from future fund raisers...

There is a big dust up between chapter people and the board of the WMF. The board now insists on the transparency that has always been a must in the fund raising agreement. No longer is it a matter only of "thou shall be transparent", there are now sanctions on the horizon as well.

So, dear chapters get your stories out, become transparent, plan ahead, spend your money wisely, be happy to share your wealth when it achieves our goals. One more piece of advice and one question.
  • all chapters could do with one PR man getting the chapter stories out
  • the language committee knows how to spend some of your money... developing fonts for instance. Even the Latin script will benefit.

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