[Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

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[Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Tomasz W. Kozłowski
Hi there,
I was reading some fundraising-related pages today, and stumbled upon
the planning cycle for the 2013/2014 fiscal year budget at
<https://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?title=File:Part_II-_2012-13_Year-to-Date_and_Lookahead_to_Planning_for_2013-14.pdf&page=10>.

I noticed that there is no space left for open community consultation
period, and since this has been published by a WMF staff member /and/
on the WMF wiki, I'm assuming it's the official stance of the
Foundation.

Without going into unneccessary detail, let me just ask a simple
question: are there any particular reasons why the WMF does not want
community input on the budget, and drafts such a vital document in
total privacy?

Thanks,
--
Tomasz W. Kozłowski
a.k.a. [[user:odder]]

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Federico Leva (Nemo)
Tomasz W. Kozłowski, 09/04/2013 13:18:

> Hi there,
> I was reading some fundraising-related pages today, and stumbled upon
> the planning cycle for the 2013/2014 fiscal year budget at
> <https://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?title=File:Part_II-_2012-13_Year-to-Date_and_Lookahead_to_Planning_for_2013-14.pdf&page=10>.
>
> I noticed that there is no space left for open community consultation
> period, and since this has been published by a WMF staff member /and/
> on the WMF wiki, I'm assuming it's the official stance of the
> Foundation.
>
> Without going into unneccessary detail, let me just ask a simple
> question: are there any particular reasons why the WMF does not want
> community input on the budget, and drafts such a vital document in
> total privacy?

For the sake of precision, that slide says that there is no space for
input by the board either. "Revisions are made" only after Stu's
comments, then the board votes no or yes (in 15 days only out of 5
months of work).

Nemo

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Andrew Gray-3
On 9 April 2013 12:22, Federico Leva (Nemo) <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> Without going into unneccessary detail, let me just ask a simple
>> question: are there any particular reasons why the WMF does not want
>> community input on the budget, and drafts such a vital document in
>> total privacy?
>
> For the sake of precision, that slide says that there is no space for input
> by the board either. "Revisions are made" only after Stu's comments, then
> the board votes no or yes (in 15 days only out of 5 months of work).

Doesn't the community consultation *follow* this?

The WMF works out a budget internally, and the Board vote to approve
it by the end of June. It is released on 1 July, but isn't yet final;
it promptly goes into...

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FDC_portal/Timeline

and presumably will have a community consultation like this one:

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:FDC_portal/Proposals/2012-2013_round1/Wikimedia_Foundation/Proposal_form

(Please feel free to correct me if I've got this wrong!)

--
- Andrew Gray
  [hidden email]

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Bence Damokos
It seems that applying to the FDC for funding periods already begun has
been outruled going forward:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FDC_portal/Frequently_asked_questions#fundingperiodinthepast.
If I read the FAQ correctly.
I am not sure if the WMF is giving itself and exception?

Best regards,
Bence


On Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 1:45 PM, Andrew Gray <[hidden email]>wrote:

> On 9 April 2013 12:22, Federico Leva (Nemo) <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> >> Without going into unneccessary detail, let me just ask a simple
> >> question: are there any particular reasons why the WMF does not want
> >> community input on the budget, and drafts such a vital document in
> >> total privacy?
> >
> > For the sake of precision, that slide says that there is no space for
> input
> > by the board either. "Revisions are made" only after Stu's comments, then
> > the board votes no or yes (in 15 days only out of 5 months of work).
>
> Doesn't the community consultation *follow* this?
>
> The WMF works out a budget internally, and the Board vote to approve
> it by the end of June. It is released on 1 July, but isn't yet final;
> it promptly goes into...
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FDC_portal/Timeline
>
> and presumably will have a community consultation like this one:
>
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:FDC_portal/Proposals/2012-2013_round1/Wikimedia_Foundation/Proposal_form
>
> (Please feel free to correct me if I've got this wrong!)
>
> --
> - Andrew Gray
>   [hidden email]
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Andrew Gray-3
On 9 April 2013 12:45, Andrew Gray <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Doesn't the community consultation *follow* this?
>
> The WMF works out a budget internally, and the Board vote to approve
> it by the end of June. It is released on 1 July, but isn't yet final;
> it promptly goes into...
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FDC_portal/Timeline

Only a very small portion of the WMF's budget goes through the FDC.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Tomasz W. Kozłowski
In reply to this post by Andrew Gray-3
On 9 April 2013 13:45, Andrew Gray wrote:

> Doesn't the community consultation *follow* this?

They might follow this, though I am afraid that there is very little
point in discussing a budget that has already been aproved. This
timeline includes all events up to July 1, the day that the 2013/2014
fiscal year begins—so if community consultations are planned after
that date, there is little point in having them at all.

On April 9, Sue was supposed to "deliver Board feedback to the team";
can anyone comment on whether this happened, and if so, whether it
would be possible for community members to see the budget v. 1 and
Sue's feedback on it?

Also, if this is not possible, can we at least know why?

--
Tomasz W. Kozłowski
a.k.a. [[user:odder]]

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Samuel Klein-4
Hello Tomasz,

We do need a more active public discussion about the WMF budget.  Both
before and after it is approved.  (The best input to the next year's
plan is often input on what is happening in the current year; and
continuous feedback that reaches some resolution is more helpful than
a burst of conflicting feedback.)

The Board has had its first discussion about the 2013-14 plan; it is
part of our agenda tomorrow and Friday.  While some details may be
private, I don't see why we can't post an outline and update it on
Meta before July.  I will raise this in our meeting and get back to
you.

Sam.


On Sat, Apr 13, 2013 at 9:19 PM, Tomasz W. Kozłowski
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 9 April 2013 13:45, Andrew Gray wrote:
>
>> Doesn't the community consultation *follow* this?
>
> They might follow this, though I am afraid that there is very little
> point in discussing a budget that has already been aproved. This
> timeline includes all events up to July 1, the day that the 2013/2014
> fiscal year begins—so if community consultations are planned after
> that date, there is little point in having them at all.
>
> On April 9, Sue was supposed to "deliver Board feedback to the team";
> can anyone comment on whether this happened, and if so, whether it
> would be possible for community members to see the budget v. 1 and
> Sue's feedback on it?
>
> Also, if this is not possible, can we at least know why?
>
> --
> Tomasz W. Kozłowski
> a.k.a. [[user:odder]]
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l

--
Samuel Klein          w:user:sj          @metasj          +1 617 529 4266

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Hi Sam,
thanks for the message, I appreciate hearing from a Board member at long
last.

I agree that it might be a good idea to collect feedback during the year
(is there actually any page that could be used for this purpose on
Meta?) — but I think that it also needs to be mentioned that it's much
easier and much more useful for the community to comment on a budget
plan, especially before it is approved and put into motion.

Can you please let us know if the Board arrived at any decision about
this? I had a look at the questions that were asked to you during the
open meeting in Milan
(<https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/wmconf2013-meeting-with-the-board>),
but I was unable to find any related to the budget issue.

        -- Tomasz

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Federico Leva (Nemo)
Tomasz W. Kozlowski, 22/04/2013 21:57:
>  I had a look at the questions that were asked to you during the
> open meeting in Milan
> (<https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/wmconf2013-meeting-with-the-board>),
> but I was unable to find any related to the budget issue.

I confirm there was none, I noticed the lack of one.

Nemo

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

metasj
In reply to this post by Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Hello Tomasz,

We did discuss it in our meeting.

The draft plans that the board sees include some details that we would
not publish, but we agreed that at a suitably high level we can be
more transparent about sharing budget/plan overviews.  I need to
follow up with Sue this week about what this could look like this
year.

I also expected a financial question during our joint session; for
those who did not attend, and have other questions for the Board,
please feel free to post them on our Meta noticeboard:

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard

Tomasz writes:
> I think that it also needs to be mentioned that it's much easier and much more
> useful for the community to comment on a budget plan, especially before it is
> approved and put into motion.

By the time we see a final-draft plan in April/May, there is already
little leeway for significant change.

What I would prefer to see is an additional piece of the mid-year
assessment in Jan/Feb, which includes a rough draft of next year's
budget and plan.  That is a better time to comment, if you want those
comments to be incorporated into the plan (and not simply noted for
the following year).

Here is the assessment from this past February, as linked from the
minutes of the Feb 1-2 board meeting:
http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/File:2012-13_Year-to-Date_and_Lookahead_to_Planning_for_2013-14.pdf
http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/2013-02-01

Sam.

On Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 3:57 PM, Tomasz W. Kozlowski
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Sam,
> thanks for the message, I appreciate hearing from a Board member at long
> last.
>
> I agree that it might be a good idea to collect feedback during the year (is
> there actually any page that could be used for this purpose on Meta?) — but
> I think that it also needs to be mentioned that it's much easier and much
> more useful for the community to comment on a budget plan, especially before
> it is approved and put into motion.
>
> Can you please let us know if the Board arrived at any decision about this?
> I had a look at the questions that were asked to you during the open meeting
> in Milan
> (<https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/wmconf2013-meeting-with-the-board>), but I
> was unable to find any related to the budget issue.
>
>         -- Tomasz
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l



--
Samuel Klein          @metasj           w:user:sj          +1 617 529 4266

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Hi Sam,
first of all, let me thank you for your involvement in this—it's
appreciated! Other comments follow in-line.

> By the time we see a final-draft plan in April/May, there is already
> little leeway for significant change.

This probably means that there is something wrong with the process and
the timing; we all know that getting community feedback (and replying to
it) is a lengthy procedure, so I guess we should start it much earlier
next time, probably around the New Year.

Wouldn't it be better if, say, a draft of the budget and plan is
submitted for community feedback, and only then brought up at a Board
meeting so that the Board can include community feedback, too?

> Here is the assessment from this past February, as linked from the
> minutes of the Feb 1-2 board meeting:

Yes, the PDF file is exactly the one I mentioned in my e-mail from weeks
ago; it's also the same that Nemo_bis wrote about on this mailing list
the moment it appeared on the WMF wiki. However, it should be noted that
the community is at a very serious disadvantage here; that Board meeting
took place in the first days of February, and the notes (and that file)
were only published on March 8, leaving very little time for feedback.

        -- Tomasz

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Leslie Carr
On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 2:26 AM, Tomasz W. Kozlowski
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Sam,
> first of all, let me thank you for your involvement in this—it's
> appreciated! Other comments follow in-line.
>
>
>> By the time we see a final-draft plan in April/May, there is already
>> little leeway for significant change.
>
>
> This probably means that there is something wrong with the process and the
> timing; we all know that getting community feedback (and replying to it) is
> a lengthy procedure, so I guess we should start it much earlier next time,
> probably around the New Year.

Gah! As someone who works for the foundation and has had to deal with
budget issues in engineering (though this is my personal opinion) the
budget process is already incredibly long, drawn out, and stressful.
If I had to start the planning in November to get a draft out by Jan
1, then keep revising it until May... not only would that take up a
large amount of staff time, it'd also cause a stressful process to be
even more stressful.

>
> Wouldn't it be better if, say, a draft of the budget and plan is submitted
> for community feedback, and only then brought up at a Board meeting so that
> the Board can include community feedback, too?
>



--
Leslie Carr
Wikimedia Foundation
AS 14907, 43821
http://as14907.peeringdb.com/

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

metasj
In reply to this post by Tomasz W. Kozlowski
Hello again,

A few comments inline:

Leslie Carr writes:
> As someone who works for the foundation and has had to deal with
> budget issues in engineering (though this is my personal opinion)
> the budget process is already incredibly long, drawn out, and stressful.

This is a problem that we should address.  A good budget process
should be a helpful planning exercise, aligned with existing work, and
not overly stressful.  Particularly in our movement, where we have the
flexibility to raise funds for whatever seems truly important and
urgent.

Last fall, Erik suggested moving towards a more continuous planning
model and away from monolithic annual plans; we should certainly think
about this and other more natural budgeting/planning models in the
coming year.


> If I had to start the planning in November to get a draft out by Jan 1...

I don't think any /additional/ planning would be needed to realize
Tomasz's suggestion - just faster communication.

The Board already gets a draft of the midyear-review-and-lookahead a
few weeks ahead of its Q3 meeting.
All we need to do is publish a simple version of this for the
community, at around the same time.  That would allow any first-blush
feedback from the community to inform the Board discussion.


On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 5:26 AM, Tomasz W. Kozlowski
<[hidden email]> wrote:
> Wouldn't it be better if, say, a draft of the budget and plan is submitted
> for community feedback, and only then brought up at a Board meeting so that
> the Board can include community feedback, too?

I would say "shared for community discussion" rather than "submitted
for community feedback".  That is, staff might not respond directly to
community feedback.  But the staff and Board would see related
community discussion and take that into consideration.

You are right to point out that it took too long to publish the final
version of that review after the meeting.  Materials from Board
meetings that can be public -- such as the midyear review -- can be
published right away, without waiting for meeting minutes to be
approved.  We have done this on occasion (especially for materials
from the ED, who has often developed her recommendations directly on
Meta) -- but should make this a habit, linked from the agenda as soon
as it is published.

Sam.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Nathan Awrich
In reply to this post by Leslie Carr
The necessity of public comment on a detailed budget is overblown. I
don't think the Foundation should dedicate a lot of time or resources
into getting input into the budget development process from members of
the community. This is one area where expertise and the ability to
dedicate a substantial amount of time does matter, crowdsourcing a
budget doesn't work. The WMF is not a wiki.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Steven Walling
On Tuesday, April 23, 2013, Nathan wrote:

> The necessity of public comment on a detailed budget is overblown. I
> don't think the Foundation should dedicate a lot of time or resources
> into getting input into the budget development process from members of
> the community. This is one area where expertise and the ability to
> dedicate a substantial amount of time does matter, crowdsourcing a
> budget doesn't work. The WMF is not a wiki.


I fully agree.

My team, Editor Engagement Experiments, was one of the few submitted to the
FDC for approval.[1] We got almost no substantive questions or comments on
the Talk page or mailing lists from community members about our budget. I
got a lot more valuable feedback/questions from single hour-long meeting
with Dariusz (chair of the FDC) than from any of the public discussion or
question period.

To Leslie's point and SJ's replies: no matter how efficient our process
internally, adding a lengthy community discussion period adds overhead for
staff. The idea that we would publish and not respond directly to
volunteers, as SJ suggested, is silly. Of course we would. Having that
discussion is the whole point of publishing something before it's
finalized. The question is: is it worth the cost in staff time?

In this case I think the answer is that it would suck time and energy from
budget planning and would not add much real value to the budget other than
warm and fuzzy feelings. The amount of transparency would also not be
substantively increased, because we already publish the WMF budget and
annual plan, and respond to inquiries about it.

I'll finally note that budget planning internally is not a totally open
collaborative process. Budget owners (typically directors at the management
level) and above gather feedback and input from teams, but otherwise we
leave it up to them to work out with Sue and and C-level staff. I am very
happy to do this, and to be able to do my job without having to argue about
money with anyone. I'd like it to stay that way, thanks.

Steven

1.
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FDC_portal/Proposals/2012-2013_round1/Wikimedia_Foundation/Proposal_form
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Federico Leva (Nemo)
Steven Walling, 23/04/2013 17:58:
> I fully agree.
>
> My team, Editor Engagement Experiments, was one of the few submitted to the
> FDC for approval.[1] We got almost no substantive questions or comments on
> the Talk page or mailing lists from community members about our budget. [...]

That the FDC process has these problems, is a well-known issue and is
completely unrelated. Also, WMF is surely not the entity having more
problems coordinating its planning process with the FDC's.
On both the matters see
http://etherpad.wikimedia.org/wmconf2013-fdc-feedback ; please don't mix
things up.

Nemo

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Tomasz W. Kozlowski
In reply to this post by Steven Walling
Steven,
I am actually disappointed to see you bring such an example to back up a
thesis that — that's the impression I'm getting — the community cannot
provide valuable feedback on budget-related matters.

The experience that I have is quite opposite: as far as I am aware,
community members have been providing fantastic feedback for all kinds
of issues, including financial ones (with the GAC, which is a community
committee, being the most prominent example).

> In this case I think the answer is that it would suck time and energy from
> budget planning and would not add much real value to the budget other than
> warm and fuzzy feelings. The amount of transparency would also not be
> substantively increased, because we already publish the WMF budget and
> annual plan, and respond to inquiries about it.

As I wrote in one of my previous e-mails, there is very little point in
providing feedback/commenting on something that's already been adopted
and put into motion. It would be much more inviting and empowering for
community members if they could comment on an actual plan, with the
feeling that their feedback might actually be put into consideration and
make a difference.

Commenting on a budget for a fiscal year that starts in on July 1 in
August does not give that feeling—let us just take this year's annual
plan as an example:
<https://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?title=File:2012-13_Wikimedia_Foundation_Plan_FINAL_FOR_WEBSITE.pdf>
was only published on July 28. That getting feedback on budget might
suck time and energy from Foundation staff is probably of little concern
for community members.

        -- Tomasz

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Steven Walling
On Tuesday, April 23, 2013, Tomasz W. Kozlowski wrote:

> Steven,
> I am actually disappointed to see you bring such an example to back up a
> thesis that — that's the impression I'm getting — the community cannot
> provide valuable feedback on budget-related matters.
>
> The experience that I have is quite opposite: as far as I am aware,
> community members have been providing fantastic feedback for all kinds of
> issues, including financial ones (with the GAC, which is a community
> committee, being the most prominent example).


I don't view GAC and other insular committees as a successful model
for open community feedback. They typically are formed from a relatively
tiny group of people who like being on such committees, are slow, and tend
to become inactive over time.

I already gave an example, FDC, of where community feedback failed to
provide insights in to the budget and planning of a top priority team when
invited to do so before it was accepted. Do you have other examples where
constructive community feedback prior to finalization led to substantive
changes in a WMF-related budget?

(I of course am talking solely about community feedback on financial
planning in this case, not about the dozens and dozens of ways the
community functions more smoothly and efficiently than the WMF.)


>  In this case I think the answer is that it would suck time and energy from
>> budget planning and would not add much real value to the budget other than
>> warm and fuzzy feelings. The amount of transparency would also not be
>> substantively increased, because we already publish the WMF budget and
>> annual plan, and respond to inquiries about it.
>>
>
> As I wrote in one of my previous e-mails, there is very little point in
> providing feedback/commenting on something that's already been adopted and
> put into motion. It would be much more inviting and empowering for
> community members if they could comment on an actual plan, with the feeling
> that their feedback might actually be put into consideration and make a
> difference.
>
> Commenting on a budget for a fiscal year that starts in on July 1 in
> August does not give that feeling—let us just take this year's annual plan
> as an example: <https://wikimediafoundation.**org/w/index.php?title=File:*
> *2012-13_Wikimedia_Foundation_**Plan_FINAL_FOR_WEBSITE.pdf<https://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?title=File:2012-13_Wikimedia_Foundation_Plan_FINAL_FOR_WEBSITE.pdf>>
> was only published on July 28. That getting feedback on budget might suck
> time and energy from Foundation staff is probably of little concern for
> community members.
>
>         -- Tomasz
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

Dariusz Jemielniak-3
In reply to this post by Tomasz W. Kozlowski
from my point of view, it would be really great if there was more feedback
from the community on the FDC proposals, but I also understand that reading
detailed proposals is not necessarily something that many active members
have the necessary time for.

I think it is clear that the community can provide valuable feedback,
although any feedback just in itself should not be the purpose in its own,
right?

best,

dariusz


On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 8:09 PM, Tomasz W. Kozlowski <[hidden email]
> wrote:

> Steven,
> I am actually disappointed to see you bring such an example to back up a
> thesis that -- that's the impression I'm getting -- the community cannot
> provide valuable feedback on budget-related matters.
>
> The experience that I have is quite opposite: as far as I am aware,
> community members have been providing fantastic feedback for all kinds of
> issues, including financial ones (with the GAC, which is a community
> committee, being the most prominent example).
>
>
>  In this case I think the answer is that it would suck time and energy from
>> budget planning and would not add much real value to the budget other than
>> warm and fuzzy feelings. The amount of transparency would also not be
>> substantively increased, because we already publish the WMF budget and
>> annual plan, and respond to inquiries about it.
>>
>
> As I wrote in one of my previous e-mails, there is very little point in
> providing feedback/commenting on something that's already been adopted and
> put into motion. It would be much more inviting and empowering for
> community members if they could comment on an actual plan, with the feeling
> that their feedback might actually be put into consideration and make a
> difference.
>
> Commenting on a budget for a fiscal year that starts in on July 1 in
> August does not give that feeling--let us just take this year's annual plan
> as an example: <https://wikimediafoundation.**org/w/index.php?title=File:*
> *2012-13_Wikimedia_Foundation_**Plan_FINAL_FOR_WEBSITE.pdf<https://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?title=File:2012-13_Wikimedia_Foundation_Plan_FINAL_FOR_WEBSITE.pdf>>
> was only published on July 28. That getting feedback on budget might suck
> time and energy from Foundation staff is probably of little concern for
> community members.
>
>         -- Tomasz
>
>
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--

__________________________
dr hab. Dariusz Jemielniak
profesor zarządzania
kierownik katedry Zarządzania Międzynarodowego
i centrum badawczego CROW
Akademia Leona Koźmińskiego
http://www.crow.alk.edu.pl
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Lack of community involvement in WMF budget planning

phoebe ayers-3
On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 12:25 PM, Dariusz Jemielniak <[hidden email]>wrote:

> from my point of view, it would be really great if there was more feedback
> from the community on the FDC proposals, but I also understand that reading
> detailed proposals is not necessarily something that many active members
> have the necessary time for.
>
> I think it is clear that the community can provide valuable feedback,
> although any feedback just in itself should not be the purpose in its own,
> right?
>
> best,
>
> dariusz
>

I guess it might be helpful to figure out what the point of feedback is,
exactly.

The board's input is pretty high-level. And without a pretty indepth
knowledge of costs and planning information, feedback from anyone else
(i.e. members of the community) would also of necessity be pretty
high-level.

For instance: I don't know, and don't care, how much office supplies cost
for the WMF; I trust whoever writes the budget for office supplies to know
what they're doing, and whoever their boss is to provide any necessary
checks against buying too many pencils. I *do* care if we have to expand
the physical office substantively because we hired a bunch more people,
thereby adding x% to our overall physical facilities budget. However, in
the grand scheme of things I don't even care very much about the facilities
budget: what I *really* care about is what projects all those new people
are working on, and whether those projects are the right direction for the
WMF to expand in.

I'm going to guess that last question is the one that most people on this
list also really care about. Similarly, I think that's the kind of feedback
that was initially hoped for with the FDC proposals: are these useful and
valuable projects? So the question I'd ask is whether making comments on a
draft of the WMF budget (which is a staff-driven and fairly technical
document) is the right way to get community feedback into how the WMF is
shaped.* I don't really think it is; I think ideally we'd actually be
talking about community input into more of an ongoing strategic-planning
type process that helps shape budget planning, not the other way around.

-- phoebe

* since I assume that's what the goal is of feedback, not to say review the
budget for typos, though that could also be a valuable community service.
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