Wikia leasing office space to WMF

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Erik Moeller-4
2009/1/23 David Levy <[hidden email]>:

> Erik Moeller wrote:
>
> [snip]
>
>> * We've suggested to Wikia a fair market rate based on the average of
>> the other options we obtained;
>> * After some negotiation, Wikia accepted. Weighing other pros and cons
>> of the space against other options, we decided to go with Wikia;
>
> To clarify, did Wikia match the lowest bid?

No, and we didn't ask them to. We obtained about a dozen bids, ranging
from about $150 to $565 per person/month. Obviously all those spaces
had different characteristics.  Wikia was in the running because it
had desirable characteristics from the start (high proximity, shared
kitchen access, shared speakerphone use, shared Internet connection,
etc.). We used averaging as a way to arrive at a fair market rate to
neither advantage nor disadvantage Wikia when suggesting a rate. The
averaging also resulted in a rate that was roughly equivalent to the
most comparable space in the running.

Wikia, too, looked at different potential tenants for the space. The
final rate we negotiated was slightly higher than the most comparable
option we looked at (and considered very seriously, including a site
visit). However, the relative advantages of the Wikia space
compensated for that. We were quite careful not to draw any special
advantages from our relationship to Wikia, and Wikia was careful to
treat us in our negotiations like any other tenant. While we're likely
to work with them on technical aspects of the projects, we were also
careful to keep that completely separate.
--
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Thomas Dalton
2009/1/23 Erik Moeller <[hidden email]>:

> 2009/1/23 David Levy <[hidden email]>:
>> Erik Moeller wrote:
>>
>> [snip]
>>
>>> * We've suggested to Wikia a fair market rate based on the average of
>>> the other options we obtained;
>>> * After some negotiation, Wikia accepted. Weighing other pros and cons
>>> of the space against other options, we decided to go with Wikia;
>>
>> To clarify, did Wikia match the lowest bid?
>
> No, and we didn't ask them to. We obtained about a dozen bids, ranging
> from about $150 to $565 per person/month. Obviously all those spaces
> had different characteristics.  Wikia was in the running because it
> had desirable characteristics from the start (high proximity, shared
> kitchen access, shared speakerphone use, shared Internet connection,
> etc.). We used averaging as a way to arrive at a fair market rate to
> neither advantage nor disadvantage Wikia when suggesting a rate. The
> averaging also resulted in a rate that was roughly equivalent to the
> most comparable space in the running.

Is that common practice for US charities? I'm not sure that would cut
it in the UK...

> Wikia, too, looked at different potential tenants for the space. The
> final rate we negotiated was slightly higher than the most comparable
> option we looked at (and considered very seriously, including a site
> visit). However, the relative advantages of the Wikia space
> compensated for that. We were quite careful not to draw any special
> advantages from our relationship to Wikia, and Wikia was careful to
> treat us in our negotiations like any other tenant. While we're likely
> to work with them on technical aspects of the projects, we were also
> careful to keep that completely separate.

You don't just need to avoid a COI, you need to avoid the perception
of one. This deal will, undoubtedly, be interpreted by many as an
inside job. I'm sure it isn't, but that's how a lot of people will see
it. Did you consider the PR cost when weighing it all up?

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Mark
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
Erik Moeller wrote:
> I know that Wikia/WMF related stuff is pretty exciting, but really, we
> have work to do. We're not going to not make a decision that is right
> just because it creates fodder for trolling. (And I hope that if this
> turns into a troll-fest, the list moderators will take appropriate
> action.)

Mailing-list controversy is hardly the main PR problem here; the
continuing confusion this creates in the wider world about the extent to
which Wikia and the Wikimedia Foundation are entangled is a bigger one.
It certainly *looks* suspicious. I know if something like this happened
at some other organization I wasn't involved in---say, the Sierra Club
was leasing space from a for-profit environmental lobbying firm founded
by a Sierra Club board member---I would certainly raise my eyebrows, and
I'd be skeptical when they assured me that there really weren't any
shenanigans going on.

There's a reason organizations that depend on public goodwill try to
avoid even the appearance of impropriety in this sort of respect, and
auditors usually suggest avoiding those sorts of entanglements.

-Mark

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Anders Wegge Keller
Delirium <[hidden email]> writes:

> There's a reason organizations that depend on public goodwill try to
> avoid even the appearance of impropriety in this sort of respect,
> and auditors usually suggest avoiding those sorts of entanglements.

 Could you please keep the amount of crackpotish kookery at a minimum
at this list?

--
/Wegge

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

George William Herbert
On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM, Anders Wegge Keller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Delirium <[hidden email]> writes:
>
> > There's a reason organizations that depend on public goodwill try to
> > avoid even the appearance of impropriety in this sort of respect,
> > and auditors usually suggest avoiding those sorts of entanglements.
>
>  Could you please keep the amount of crackpotish kookery at a minimum
> at this list?



I'm somewhat confused - Delirium's comment here is reasonable, accurate, and
a legitimate concern, as opposed to some of the rest of the thread.


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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Anders Wegge Keller
George Herbert <[hidden email]> writes:

> On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM, Anders Wegge Keller <[hidden email]> wrote:

>>  Could you please keep the amount of crackpotish kookery at a minimum
>> at this list?

> I'm somewhat confused - Delirium's comment here is reasonable,
> accurate, and a legitimate concern, as opposed to some of the rest
> of the thread.

 Not to me, and it just happened to be the one that tripped my trigger
setting.


--
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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Gerard Meijssen-3
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
Hoi,
Having an office close to the main office, having an environment that is
shared with colleagues who way are sharing their impressive usability
improvements are tangible benefits. The cost of the office space conforms to
market rates.

The natural state of these discussions is that there are always people
pissing in the wind. That spoils things somewhat.

The benefits of this deal are quite obvious and material. The work done both
by Wikia and Wikimedia Foundation is open source. Both organisations will
benefit because of the new emphasis on usability. It is the WMF that
benefits most because they have to catch up. Wikia will only start to
benefit when their usability improvements are adopted. Some of the Wikia
improvemets will be more then welcome.
Thanks,
      GerardM


2009/1/23 Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>

> 2009/1/23 Erik Moeller <[hidden email]>:
> > 2009/1/23 David Levy <[hidden email]>:
> >> Erik Moeller wrote:
> >>
> >> [snip]
> >>
> >>> * We've suggested to Wikia a fair market rate based on the average of
> >>> the other options we obtained;
> >>> * After some negotiation, Wikia accepted. Weighing other pros and cons
> >>> of the space against other options, we decided to go with Wikia;
> >>
> >> To clarify, did Wikia match the lowest bid?
> >
> > No, and we didn't ask them to. We obtained about a dozen bids, ranging
> > from about $150 to $565 per person/month. Obviously all those spaces
> > had different characteristics.  Wikia was in the running because it
> > had desirable characteristics from the start (high proximity, shared
> > kitchen access, shared speakerphone use, shared Internet connection,
> > etc.). We used averaging as a way to arrive at a fair market rate to
> > neither advantage nor disadvantage Wikia when suggesting a rate. The
> > averaging also resulted in a rate that was roughly equivalent to the
> > most comparable space in the running.
>
> Is that common practice for US charities? I'm not sure that would cut
> it in the UK...
>
> > Wikia, too, looked at different potential tenants for the space. The
> > final rate we negotiated was slightly higher than the most comparable
> > option we looked at (and considered very seriously, including a site
> > visit). However, the relative advantages of the Wikia space
> > compensated for that. We were quite careful not to draw any special
> > advantages from our relationship to Wikia, and Wikia was careful to
> > treat us in our negotiations like any other tenant. While we're likely
> > to work with them on technical aspects of the projects, we were also
> > careful to keep that completely separate.
>
> You don't just need to avoid a COI, you need to avoid the perception
> of one. This deal will, undoubtedly, be interpreted by many as an
> inside job. I'm sure it isn't, but that's how a lot of people will see
> it. Did you consider the PR cost when weighing it all up?
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Mark
In reply to this post by Anders Wegge Keller
Anders Wegge Keller wrote:
> Delirium <[hidden email]> writes:
>
>> There's a reason organizations that depend on public goodwill try to
>> avoid even the appearance of impropriety in this sort of respect,
>> and auditors usually suggest avoiding those sorts of entanglements.
>
>  Could you please keep the amount of crackpotish kookery at a minimum
> at this list?

In what respect is it "crackpottish" or "kookery" to suggest that even
appearance of impropriety, even where none exists, is damaging to
nonprofit organizations that depend on public goodwill?

I'm not alleging that any actual impropriety took place, and I believe
Erik's explanations. But that's only because I know several of the board
members and believe they have Wikimedia's best interests in mind---heck,
I recall publicly campaigning for Erik's election to the board some time
ago.

Most people, however, neither know the board nor have any particularly
great knowledge of Wikimedia's internals. Were it any other
organization, as in my Sierra Club example, I wouldn't believe the
explanation, so I wouldn't blame non-Wikimedians who read about this in
the newspaper if they were a bit skeptical. That seems like it'll
inevitably be damaging from a PR and fundraising perspective. I believe
Erik's explanation of the space's benefits, I just think the Board is
underestimating the negative effects to the Foundation's reputation.

-Mark

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
2009/1/23 Gerard Meijssen <[hidden email]>:
> Hoi,
> Having an office close to the main office, having an environment that is
> shared with colleagues who way are sharing their impressive usability
> improvements are tangible benefits.

I agree, the issue is with how much you value them. They definitely
have a value, but I haven't, as yet, seem any attempt to quantify
that.

> The cost of the office space conforms to
> market rates.

Sure, but they don't conform to the cheapest rate. Any decision by a
charity to spend more money than is strictly necessary needs to be
justified. I'm not saying that it's unjustifiable, it just hasn't been
justified yet.

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

George William Herbert
In reply to this post by Anders Wegge Keller
On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 1:49 PM, Anders Wegge Keller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> George Herbert <[hidden email]> writes:
>
> > On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 1:42 PM, Anders Wegge Keller <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> >>  Could you please keep the amount of crackpotish kookery at a minimum
> >> at this list?
>
> > I'm somewhat confused - Delirium's comment here is reasonable,
> > accurate, and a legitimate concern, as opposed to some of the rest
> > of the thread.
>
>  Not to me, and it just happened to be the one that tripped my trigger
> setting.
>

I respectfully request that you review it and reconsider.

There have been plenty of what I would consider to be hostile or kookish
comments by those who do not wish the Foundation well in this thread.
Delirium's comments seem to me to clearly be those of a concerned but
constructively engaged community member.


--
-george william herbert
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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Anders Wegge Keller
In reply to this post by Mark
Delirium <[hidden email]> writes:

> Anders Wegge Keller wrote:

>>  Could you please keep the amount of crackpotish kookery at a minimum
>> at this list?

> In what respect is it "crackpottish" or "kookery" to suggest that
> even appearance of impropriety, even where none exists, is damaging
> to nonprofit organizations that depend on public goodwill?

 Except for being the umpteent person to continue the line of
aggressive questioning, none. You just happened to be the unlucky roll
of the dice.

--
/Wegge

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Anders Wegge Keller
In reply to this post by George William Herbert
George Herbert <[hidden email]> writes:

> On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 1:49 PM, Anders Wegge Keller <[hidden email]> wrote:

>>  Not to me, and it just happened to be the one that tripped my trigger
>> setting.

> I respectfully request that you review it and reconsider.

 Request denied. I stand by what I said, and you can be polite from
here to eternity, but I consider Delerium a kook in his own right,
nonwithstanding a seemingly thin veneer of civility in this case.

--
/Wegge

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Cary Bass-4
In reply to this post by Anders Wegge Keller
Anders Wegge Keller wrote:

> Delirium <[hidden email]> writes:
>  
>> Anders Wegge Keller wrote:
>>>  Could you please keep the amount of crackpotish kookery at a minimum
>>> at this list
>> In what respect is it "crackpottish" or "kookery" to suggest that
>> even appearance of impropriety, even where none exists, is damaging
>> to nonprofit organizations that depend on public goodwill?
>>    
>
>  Except for being the umpteent person to continue the line of
> aggressive questioning, none. You just happened to be the unlucky roll
> of the dice.
>  

I'd like to respectfully ask the participants of this fork of the thread
to immediately cease responding to it. Thanks.

Cary

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Brian J Mingus
In reply to this post by Anders Wegge Keller
I find it interesting that critics of the Foundation are necessarily either
a troll, crackpot or kook, and yet, by my estimation, each one of these
critics has been around longer than the Foundation and wishes to make sure
that it develops in a manner consistent with the much older philosophy
surrounding the projects.

Here's a criticism the foundation really ought to consider: Quit calling us
trolls, crackpots and kooks and simply address the matters in a factual way.
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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Michael Bimmler
In reply to this post by Anders Wegge Keller
On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:01 PM, Anders Wegge Keller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> George Herbert <[hidden email]> writes:
>
>> On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 1:49 PM, Anders Wegge Keller <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>>>  Not to me, and it just happened to be the one that tripped my trigger
>>> setting.
>
>> I respectfully request that you review it and reconsider.
>
>  Request denied. I stand by what I said, and you can be polite from
> here to eternity, but I consider Delerium a kook in his own right,
> nonwithstanding a seemingly thin veneer of civility in this case.

.....okay, and at this point I think that this thread becomes a
certain waste of bits, no offense to anyone in particular ;-)

May I recommend a few breathes of fresh air for everyone or,
alternatively, a strong cup of tea?

Michael



--
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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Erik Moeller-4
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
2009/1/23 Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>:
>. Did you consider the PR cost when weighing it all up?

Of course. It's a normal transaction and any noise about it is likely
going to be ephemeral. We will continue to calmly and sensibly explain
it to reasonable people, and that's all there is to it.
--
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Michael Snow-3
In reply to this post by Mark
Delirium wrote:
> Most people, however, neither know the board nor have any particularly
> great knowledge of Wikimedia's internals. Were it any other
> organization, as in my Sierra Club example, I wouldn't believe the
> explanation, so I wouldn't blame non-Wikimedians who read about this in
> the newspaper if they were a bit skeptical. That seems like it'll
> inevitably be damaging from a PR and fundraising perspective. I believe
> Erik's explanation of the space's benefits, I just think the Board is
> underestimating the negative effects to the Foundation's reputation.
>  
Anyone familiar enough with the background to understand why the lease
might be an issue has probably formed their opinion about the potential
for conflicts already. So I don't believe it will have a negative impact
outside of people who have already made up their minds and won't
reconsider. This discussion itself is evidence of that, as it seems the
only person who thinks the lease is actually bad, as opposed to possibly
looking bad, has a long history of finding fault with us no matter what.
With regard to any impact on public relations or fundraising generally -
if there are donors or media professionals who don't believe Erik's
explanation (even without any evidence to the contrary), I'll be happy
to discuss it with them.

--Michael Snow

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Michael Bimmler
In reply to this post by Brian J Mingus
On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:05 PM, Brian <[hidden email]> wrote:
>Quit calling us
> trolls, crackpots and kooks and simply address the matters in a factual way.


Here's a suggestion for everyone: Stop the allusions to conspiracies
("tax-deductible money shifted to for-profit companies") *and* stop
the name-calling.

M.
--
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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
2009/1/23 Erik Moeller <[hidden email]>:
> 2009/1/23 Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>:
>>. Did you consider the PR cost when weighing it all up?
>
> Of course. It's a normal transaction and any noise about it is likely
> going to be ephemeral. We will continue to calmly and sensibly explain
> it to reasonable people, and that's all there is to it.

Sounds good. Could you calmly and sensibly explain it to me, then? How
did you come to decide that the addition benefits of working in
Wikia's offices were worth the extra money? (I'm willing to accept
that there could be a good explanation, I'd just like to see it.)

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Re: Wikia leasing office space to WMF

Erik Moeller-4
2009/1/23 Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>:
> Sounds good. Could you calmly and sensibly explain it to me, then? How
> did you come to decide that the addition benefits of working in
> Wikia's offices were worth the extra money? (I'm willing to accept
> that there could be a good explanation, I'd just like to see it.)

I already named some of them - greater proximity, shared kitchen use,
shared speakerphone use, established Internet connectivity. The other
space we were looking at also had noise issues: open concept with two
other tenants, and some noise every day at 6PM due to music lessons in
the same building.
--
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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123456