[Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

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[Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Wes Moran
Hello everyone,

I’m happy to announce that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has
awarded an exploratory grant of $250,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation’s
Discovery department [1], in order to conduct research and prototyping to
improve how people discover and engage with information on Wikipedia and
Wikimedia projects.

The Discovery team has begun six months of research and prototyping, with
the goal of building better experiences to help people discover knowledge.
You can learn more about the team’s work here
<http://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/12/23/search-and-discovery-on-wikipedia/>.

Our deliverables include:


   - User testing and research on current user flows to understand the
   search and discovery experience
   - Creation and maintenance of a dashboard of core metrics to use in
   product development
   - Research on search relevancy and the possibility of integrating open
   data sources
   - Open discussion with the Wikimedia community of volunteer editors
   - Creation of sample prototypes to showcase discovery possibilities

The need to improve our search experience has long been recognized across
the Wikimedia projects.  We need better ways to help everyone discover the
most relevant, reliable information on Wikipedia and its sister projects. For
example, while people can search within one project (like Wikipedia or
Wikimedia Commons), they can’t easily search across the different projects.
Some people still receive zero results if they search and do not include
the right words in a search. There are open data sources that have the
potential to improve how people find information, and that should be
explored.

We look forward to discussing these projects with communities and anyone
with an interest. You can collaborate with the Discovery department in the
following ways:

   - Subscribe <https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/discovery> to
   the Discovery team’s public mailing list
   - Read about these projects and others at the MediaWiki Discovery
   <https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery> page
   - Reach out to the Discovery team on their IRC channel:
   #wikimedia-discovery on Freenode <https://freenode.net/>.

A press release and blog post will follow shortly, and more information in
the form of an FAQ has been posted here [2].

Wes Moran, VP of Product

User: WMoran_(WMF)

[1]: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery
[2]: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/KnightFAQ
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Tito Dutta
That's an excellent news. :)

On 6 January 2016 at 19:16, Wes Moran <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hello everyone,
>
> I’m happy to announce that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has
> awarded an exploratory grant of $250,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation’s
> Discovery department [1], in order to conduct research and prototyping to
> improve how people discover and engage with information on Wikipedia and
> Wikimedia projects.
>
> The Discovery team has begun six months of research and prototyping, with
> the goal of building better experiences to help people discover knowledge.
> You can learn more about the team’s work here
> <http://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/12/23/search-and-discovery-on-wikipedia/>.
>
> Our deliverables include:
>
>
>    - User testing and research on current user flows to understand the
>    search and discovery experience
>    - Creation and maintenance of a dashboard of core metrics to use in
>    product development
>    - Research on search relevancy and the possibility of integrating open
>    data sources
>    - Open discussion with the Wikimedia community of volunteer editors
>    - Creation of sample prototypes to showcase discovery possibilities
>
> The need to improve our search experience has long been recognized across
> the Wikimedia projects.  We need better ways to help everyone discover the
> most relevant, reliable information on Wikipedia and its sister projects.
> For
> example, while people can search within one project (like Wikipedia or
> Wikimedia Commons), they can’t easily search across the different projects.
> Some people still receive zero results if they search and do not include
> the right words in a search. There are open data sources that have the
> potential to improve how people find information, and that should be
> explored.
>
> We look forward to discussing these projects with communities and anyone
> with an interest. You can collaborate with the Discovery department in the
> following ways:
>
>    - Subscribe <https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/discovery> to
>    the Discovery team’s public mailing list
>    - Read about these projects and others at the MediaWiki Discovery
>    <https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery> page
>    - Reach out to the Discovery team on their IRC channel:
>    #wikimedia-discovery on Freenode <https://freenode.net/>.
>
> A press release and blog post will follow shortly, and more information in
> the form of an FAQ has been posted here [2].
>
> Wes Moran, VP of Product
>
> User: WMoran_(WMF)
>
> [1]: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery
> [2]: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/KnightFAQ
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

MZMcBride-2
In reply to this post by Wes Moran
Wes Moran wrote:
>The Discovery team has begun six months of research and prototyping, with
>the goal of building better experiences to help people discover knowledge.
>You can learn more about the team’s work here
><http://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/12/23/search-and-discovery-on-wikipedia/>.

This blog post doesn't mention the Knight Foundation. So we already find
ourselves wondering whether the "Search and Discovery" (SAD) team's goals
are its own or that of people at the Knight Foundation.

>Our deliverables include:
>
>   - User testing and research on current user flows to understand the
>   search and discovery experience
>   - Creation and maintenance of a dashboard of core metrics to use in
>   product development
>   - Research on search relevancy and the possibility of integrating open
>   data sources
>   - Open discussion with the Wikimedia community of volunteer editors
>   - Creation of sample prototypes to showcase discovery possibilities
>
>The need to improve our search experience has long been recognized across
>the Wikimedia projects.  We need better ways to help everyone discover the
>most relevant, reliable information on Wikipedia and its sister projects.
>For example, while people can search within one project (like Wikipedia or
>Wikimedia Commons), they can’t easily search across the different
>projects.

Yes. My frustration here is that nothing you're proposing will actually
address the real problems facing search. Do you think a "dashboard of core
metrics" is going to bring about inter-wiki search? If anything, over the
next six to eight months, the SAD team will be even more useless than
usual as it focuses on fulfilling obligations of a restricted grant.

It would be great to have a search engine that searches all wiki pages on
a local wiki. We haven't even reached that point yet. It would be great to
have a search engine that is aware of non-text content and can filter
media results. We're nowhere near that point yet. But in a few months,
maybe your team will have a better understanding of "user flows" and that
will help... something. I certainly won't be holding my breath.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Andreas Kolbe-2
There is a piece by Wes on the website of the Knight Foundation[1] and an
additional FAQ on Discovery's "Knowledge Engine" development on
MediaWiki.[2]

The Knight Foundation funds many things, and is a past donor to the
Wikimedia Foundation--but I'm aware that the Knight Foundation is also
Google's partner in "Newsgeist".[3][4]

[1]
http://www.knightfoundation.org/blogs/knightblog/2016/1/6/exploring-how-people-discover-knowledge-wikipedia-and-its-sister-projects/
[2] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/FAQ
[3] http://alldigitocracy.org/what-is-newsgeist/
[4] https://twitter.com/newsgeist



On Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 3:17 PM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Wes Moran wrote:
> >The Discovery team has begun six months of research and prototyping, with
> >the goal of building better experiences to help people discover knowledge.
> >You can learn more about the team’s work here
> ><http://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/12/23/search-and-discovery-on-wikipedia/
> >.
>
> This blog post doesn't mention the Knight Foundation. So we already find
> ourselves wondering whether the "Search and Discovery" (SAD) team's goals
> are its own or that of people at the Knight Foundation.
>
> >Our deliverables include:
> >
> >   - User testing and research on current user flows to understand the
> >   search and discovery experience
> >   - Creation and maintenance of a dashboard of core metrics to use in
> >   product development
> >   - Research on search relevancy and the possibility of integrating open
> >   data sources
> >   - Open discussion with the Wikimedia community of volunteer editors
> >   - Creation of sample prototypes to showcase discovery possibilities
> >
> >The need to improve our search experience has long been recognized across
> >the Wikimedia projects.  We need better ways to help everyone discover the
> >most relevant, reliable information on Wikipedia and its sister projects.
> >For example, while people can search within one project (like Wikipedia or
> >Wikimedia Commons), they can’t easily search across the different
> >projects.
>
> Yes. My frustration here is that nothing you're proposing will actually
> address the real problems facing search. Do you think a "dashboard of core
> metrics" is going to bring about inter-wiki search? If anything, over the
> next six to eight months, the SAD team will be even more useless than
> usual as it focuses on fulfilling obligations of a restricted grant.
>
> It would be great to have a search engine that searches all wiki pages on
> a local wiki. We haven't even reached that point yet. It would be great to
> have a search engine that is aware of non-text content and can filter
> media results. We're nowhere near that point yet. But in a few months,
> maybe your team will have a better understanding of "user flows" and that
> will help... something. I certainly won't be holding my breath.
>
> MZMcBride
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Andreas Kolbe-2
Would it be possible to share the actual grant agreement with the
community, so that people can understand what the Knight Foundation want
you to accomplish, and what is going to be built with this money?

Seeing the specifications would help.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Pete Forsyth-2
I wrote grants and grant reports on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation from
2009-2011. I was impressed at the time with the emphasis on transparency
and other factors around grants, especially restricted grants. I'm
beginning to doubt those values have survived, since their main champions
at the WMF have all departed.

I just wrote about this in greater depth:
http://wikistrategies.net/grant-transparency/

-Pete
[[User:Peteforsyth]]

On Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 2:07 PM, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Would it be possible to share the actual grant agreement with the
> community, so that people can understand what the Knight Foundation want
> you to accomplish, and what is going to be built with this money?
>
> Seeing the specifications would help.
> _______________________________________________
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> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
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> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Andreas Kolbe-2
The Knight Foundation website previously announced a $250,000 grant for
"Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia", due to run from 1 September 2015 until 31
August 2016, "to advance new models for finding information by supporting
stage one development of the Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia, a system for
discovering reliable and trustworthy public information on the Internet."

There was nothing on the WMF blog in September 2015, but it seems from this
the work on the Knowledge Engine has been ongoing for months.

Could someone please explain why this grant is only being announced now, as
though it's something that just happened?

[1] http://www.knightfoundation.org/grants/201551260/
https://archive.is/gZ50b
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Andreas Kolbe-2
The Knight Foundation's September 2015 announcement of the $250,000
grant[1] speaks of "supporting stage one development of the Knowledge
Engine by Wikipedia". Could we have an explanation of what the other
"stages" of this search engine project will be about?

Could we see the grant application?

I am also struck by the fact that the grant is really a very paltry one,
compared to the resources the Foundation is investing in this. The
MediaWiki page on Discovery[2] lists sixteen people working on this.
$250,000 would hardly begin to cover their salaries.

In fact, Risker said as long ago as May last year,[3]

---o0o---

Search and Discovery, a new team, seems to be extraordinarily well-staffed
with a disproportionate number of engineers at the same time as other areas
seem to be wanting for them. I don't see "fix search" in the Call to Action
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Communications/State_of_the_Wikimedia_Foundation#2015_Call_to_Action>
document;
even if it fell into the heading "Improve technology and execution", this
seems like an abnormally large concentration of the top WMF Engineering
minds to be focusing on a topic that didn't even rate its own mention in
the CtA. More explanation of why Search and Discovery has suddenly become
such a major focus is required to assess whether this is appropriate
resourcing.

---o0o---

Why isn't there more transparency about this search engine project?

Was this matter ever the subject of disagreements between James and the
board members who voted to expel him?

[1] http://www.knightfoundation.org/grants/201551260/
https://archive.is/gZ50b
[2] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery
[3]
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Wikimedia_Foundation_Annual_Plan/2015-16/draft#Review_from_current_FDC_member
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

K. Peachey-2
On 7 January 2016 at 22:45, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> ...
>
> I am also struck by the fact that the grant is really a very paltry one,
> compared to the resources the Foundation is investing in this. The
> MediaWiki page on Discovery[2] lists sixteen people working on this.
> $250,000 would hardly begin to cover their salaries.
>
> In fact, Risker said as long ago as May last year,[3]
> ...


I'm not sure what the standard is for grant applications is in the US, but
I know locally that is it is extremely rare that allow the funding to be
used to pay for salaries and the likes, Although the grant applications I
used to have common knowledge were designed to have a physical end goal as
per the agreement (example: Replace kitchen cabinets in a Scout den)
compared to what will be software changes.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Michael Snow-5
On 1/8/2016 2:01 PM, K. Peachey wrote:

> On 7 January 2016 at 22:45, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> ...
>>
>> I am also struck by the fact that the grant is really a very paltry one,
>> compared to the resources the Foundation is investing in this. The
>> MediaWiki page on Discovery[2] lists sixteen people working on this.
>> $250,000 would hardly begin to cover their salaries.
>>
>> In fact, Risker said as long ago as May last year,[3]
>> ...
> I'm not sure what the standard is for grant applications is in the US, but
> I know locally that is it is extremely rare that allow the funding to be
> used to pay for salaries and the likes, Although the grant applications I
> used to have common knowledge were designed to have a physical end goal as
> per the agreement (example: Replace kitchen cabinets in a Scout den)
> compared to what will be software changes.
While it depends on the purpose of the grant, for the deliverables
identified in the original post it seems clear that the most natural
costs to pay would be salaries in software engineering, broadly
speaking. As to the comment about how the grant amount aligns with the
size and salary cost of this particular team - in the grantmaking world,
it is entirely normal to make awards that pay for only fractions of
people's salaries. Let's say you pay for 5% of X's salary and 10% of Y's
salary, and as part of the agreement those people are then expected to
spend the corresponding percentage of their time dedicated to working on
the grant project. I'm sure that the Discovery team has more things to
work on than just this one project, but the reason the Foundation would
accept this grant is presumably that it overlaps enough with what the
organization wants to do anyway.

--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

Andreas Kolbe-2
On Sat, Jan 9, 2016 at 3:48 AM, Michael Snow <[hidden email]> wrote:

> While it depends on the purpose of the grant, for the deliverables
> identified in the original post it seems clear that the most natural costs
> to pay would be salaries in software engineering, broadly speaking. As to
> the comment about how the grant amount aligns with the size and salary cost
> of this particular team - in the grantmaking world, it is entirely normal
> to make awards that pay for only fractions of people's salaries. Let's say
> you pay for 5% of X's salary and 10% of Y's salary, and as part of the
> agreement those people are then expected to spend the corresponding
> percentage of their time dedicated to working on the grant project. I'm
> sure that the Discovery team has more things to work on than just this one
> project, but the reason the Foundation would accept this grant is
> presumably that it overlaps enough with what the organization wants to do
> anyway.



This is confusing. If you look at the Discovery FAQ[1], it says,


------
*"Knowledge Engine" (KE) was an early term used to describe a number of
initiatives that related to search and discovery of content. It was/is not
a product and instead was meant to easily reference what the Discovery team
was focusing on. We've since stopped using the term as it caused confusion.*
------


So the Knowledge Engine is what the Discovery team is all about. The two
terms are described as practically synonymous in the FAQ: the Knowledge
Engine term (now deprecated) was a shorthand way of referring to the
Discovery team's work. From that, it doesn't sound like the Discovery team
has anything else to work on than that.

The Knight Foundation (KF) grant first announced by the Knight Foundation
in September last year[1], and announced by the WMF only a few days ago,
used the same language:


------
*To advance new models for finding information by supporting stage one
development of the Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia, a system for discovering
reliable and trustworthy public information on the Internet.*
------


To me at least this means that the KF grant was indeed intended to fund the
Discovery team's work, something which the $250,000 named can clearly only
do in part, given the amount of personnel involved. The rest of the funding
thus must claim a share of the Foundation's own resources.

There is an interesting post by "Eagle" on Wikipediocracy,[3] which I
suspect may go some way towards explaining the wider technological
background of the Knowledge Engine effort and the strategic decisions
underlying it:


------
*Today, a fork is possible because the Mediawiki software is open source
and all of the database has been licensed by the contributors. We do not
know if the Knowledge Engine software will be open source or how the
Knowledge Engine database will be licensed. *

*This is a very interesting trend. A large base of volunteers have gathered
a lot of the world's knowledge. The original model, created by Messrs.
Wales and Sanger, is that the collection should be delivered in the form of
an encyclopedia. *

*Then, IBM's Watson, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft Cortana came forward and
created proprietary natural language systems to use Wikipedia (plus other
data sources) to provide access to general knowledge in [a] way far more
attractive than a text encyclopedia. *

*The question becomes would a fork away from the WMF be possible once
Wikipedia shifts away from a Mediawiki based "encyclopedia?" Even if the
entire Wikipedia community shifted to working on the fo[r]k, would the user
interface of the Knowledge Engine keep the user traffic (and the Google
juice) with the WMF after the shift? *

*Conversely, if the world of information seekers is shifting away from a
text encyclopedia model to access information, does anyone seriously
believe that the WMF technical staff (even if enhanced by the Knight
Foundation grant) can compete with the best that IBM, Apple and Microsoft
will continue to develop? *


*This is a very serious problem that Mr. Wales, Lila, Doc James and seven
others can not solve by themselves locked into a secret sound-proof
chamber.*
------


While I am pretty sure that any Knowledge Engine software developed by the
Wikimedia Foundation will be open source (if I am wrong on this, please put
me right!), and am not proposing to initiate a discussion about forking
here, some of what Eagle says about the wider technological background
feels like it might be very relevant to the motivations underlying the
Knowledge Engine (or "Discovery") project.

People looking up Wikipedia on their smartphone in the pub will indeed not
read a long encyclopedia article. They just want a snippet of information.
But does that mean that, given developments like the Knowledge Graph, Siri,
Watson etc., the writing is on the wall for Wikipedia's -- presently at
least -- immensely popular and much-loved encyclopedia format?

I don't understand what happened between the first announcement of the
grant by the KF in September, and the renewed announcement of it now. What
the KF says in its January 6, 2016, announcement[4] has morphed somewhat
from the earlier announcement of 12 months' support for a Knowledge Engine
project designed to enable the public to discover "reliable and trustworthy
public information on the internet."

What the KF is now talking about is funding


------
*exploratory research and prototyping to improve how people find and engage
with knowledge on Wikimedia projects. Knight’s support will fund six months
of investigation around search and browsing on the projects, with the
ultimate goal of building better experiences to help people discover
knowledge*
------


Is this "exploratory research" -- now shortened from twelve to six months
-- what the Wikimedia Foundation pitched for?

Or was the pitch for the more ambitious plans described in the "Discovery
Year 0-1-2" presentation[5]  and the Discovery FAQ?[1]

What further stages are envisaged?

Jimmy Wales said on his user talk page yesterday[6] that, in his opinion,
and pending confirmation that there are no contractual reasons standing in
the way of this, the grant letter should be published on Meta, and that "it
would be best to clear the air around that completely as soon as possible."

For once, I agree with him. To clear the air completely, the grant
application documentation should be made public as well.

Please draw the public and the community into your confidence on this, and
work with the community rather than in isolation from it.

Andreas

[1] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/FAQ
[2] http://www.knightfoundation.org/grants/201551260/
[3] http://wikipediocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=169310#p169310
[4]
http://www.knightfoundation.org/blogs/knightblog/2016/1/6/exploring-how-people-discover-knowledge-wikipedia-and-its-sister-projects/
[5] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Discovery_Year_0-1-2.pdf
[6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales&diff=698861097&oldid=698860874
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