Wikimedia main office

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Wikimedia main office

erikzachte
Mav wrote:

quote

"...But, IMO, we should seriously consider a better place for the Wikimedia
main office before hiring lots of people. St Pete is fine as a tourist
destination and maybe even as a satellite office of the foundation given
that two board members and Danny live there, but the host city of the main
office of an international organization? Sorry, but no.

Washington D.C. or NYC are places where almost every nation of world sends
their ambassadors and where a multitude of other international
organizations, which we really should be working closely with, are based.
Talent pool is another consideration; many more people with the relevant
experience we need already live in those cities."

---

As on several earlier occasions I disagree with Mav on how Wikimedia money
would be best spent. Washington D.C. or NYC are very expensive cities.
Besides, those are cities with heavily political connotations. Of course
there is no such thing as a political neutral location. Maybe St Petersburg
USA comes close, not sure ;)

We might show the world that we still do things differently, not per se, but
when there is a good reason for it. We might do something substantial for
the underdeveloped world by placing our head office in e.g. Africa or India.
Wikimedia involvement in many underdeveloped countries is still largely
lagging behind. We might reach out and make a powerful gesture of good faith
in the potential of those parts of the world.

To name just one example: Nairobi would be a capable host city. Even the UN
has a head office there. Running an office in Africa or India would be much
cheaper. In a web-connected world travel times and costs are no longer very
strong arguments against this.

Erik Zachte


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Re: Wikimedia main office

Daniel Mayer
--- Erik Zachte <[hidden email]> wrote:
> As on several earlier occasions I disagree with Mav on how Wikimedia money
> would be best spent. Washington D.C. or NYC are very expensive cities.

Not the suburbs of D.C. and to some extent parts of the NYC outside of Manhattan. The point, is to
be in a place where we can most easily establish connections with other nations and like-minded
organizations. Cost of rent is nothing compared to the synergies that would develop my being where
all the action is. Not to mention being a job market where we can find top talent.

-- mav


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Re: Wikimedia main office

Erik Moeller-3
On 5/25/06, Daniel Mayer <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Not the suburbs of D.C. and to some extent parts of the NYC outside of Manhattan. The point, is to
> be in a place where we can most easily establish connections with other nations and like-minded
> organizations. Cost of rent is nothing compared to the synergies that would develop my being where
> all the action is. Not to mention being a job market where we can find top talent.

NYC makes sense to a certain degree because of the internationality
(UN, UNICEF), though of course relevant conferences and meetings are
held in many different locations around the world. Geneva or Brussels
would also work for the same reasons, and for some which do not apply
to NYC. Personally I don't mind the US HQ because it keeps most of the
legal trouble an ocean away from us EUians.

We also need to take into account laws that might be relevant to our
website operations. This is esp. true, unfortunately, in developing
countries.  There may also be critical variations across US states.

But the idea to move the HQ because of "top talent" sounds rather
silly for an organization that was formed around several websites.
There are plenty of companies which are entirely decentralized these
days, not to mention that highly talented, intelligent, educated and
passionate people can be found everywhere in the world. Even in
Washington D.C.

Erik
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Re: Wikimedia main office

Brion Vibber
Erik Moeller wrote:
> But the idea to move the HQ because of "top talent" sounds rather
> silly for an organization that was formed around several websites.
> There are plenty of companies which are entirely decentralized these
> days, not to mention that highly talented, intelligent, educated and
> passionate people can be found everywhere in the world. Even in
> Washington D.C.

Indeed. Who actually would go to this main office, and what would they do there?

-- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com)


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Re: Wikimedia main office

Michael Davis-4
In reply to this post by erikzachte
I'm not aware of any plans that call for massive hiring in a central
office.  Most office hiring will be for routine administrative/clerical
functions which will be much cheaper outside of a major metropolitan
areas.  Flights from St. Petersburg to NYC or DC are $200 round trip and
are easy day trips.  International flights are more difficult but that
hasn't slowed down Jimbo.  Given that the Foundations pays $400 per
month for office space, it's a whole lot cheaper to fly back and forth a
few time a month than lease office space in Manhattan.

Our strength is that we are a virtual organization and that isn't going
to change.

Michael

Erik Zachte wrote:

> Mav wrote:
>
> quote
>
> "...But, IMO, we should seriously consider a better place for the Wikimedia
> main office before hiring lots of people. St Pete is fine as a tourist
> destination and maybe even as a satellite office of the foundation given
> that two board members and Danny live there, but the host city of the main
> office of an international organization? Sorry, but no.
>
> Washington D.C. or NYC are places where almost every nation of world sends
> their ambassadors and where a multitude of other international
> organizations, which we really should be working closely with, are based.
> Talent pool is another consideration; many more people with the relevant
> experience we need already live in those cities."
>
> ---
>
> As on several earlier occasions I disagree with Mav on how Wikimedia money
> would be best spent. Washington D.C. or NYC are very expensive cities.
> Besides, those are cities with heavily political connotations. Of course
> there is no such thing as a political neutral location. Maybe St Petersburg
> USA comes close, not sure ;)
>
> We might show the world that we still do things differently, not per se, but
> when there is a good reason for it. We might do something substantial for
> the underdeveloped world by placing our head office in e.g. Africa or India.
> Wikimedia involvement in many underdeveloped countries is still largely
> lagging behind. We might reach out and make a powerful gesture of good faith
> in the potential of those parts of the world.
>
> To name just one example: Nairobi would be a capable host city. Even the UN
> has a head office there. Running an office in Africa or India would be much
> cheaper. In a web-connected world travel times and costs are no longer very
> strong arguments against this.
>
> Erik Zachte
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
>  

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Re: Wikimedia main office

Jimmy Wales
Michael Davis wrote:

> I'm not aware of any plans that call for massive hiring in a central
> office.  Most office hiring will be for routine administrative/clerical
> functions which will be much cheaper outside of a major metropolitan
> areas.  Flights from St. Petersburg to NYC or DC are $200 round trip and
> are easy day trips.  International flights are more difficult but that
> hasn't slowed down Jimbo.  Given that the Foundations pays $400 per
> month for office space, it's a whole lot cheaper to fly back and forth a
> few time a month than lease office space in Manhattan.
>
> Our strength is that we are a virtual organization and that isn't going
> to change.
Fully seconded.  One of our strengths is extremely low costs implying
strong independence and no fears about our financial future.  Adding a
lot of staff and the rent and salary costs associated with an office in
an expensive city does not appear to me very compelling, to say the least.

--Jimbo

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Re: Wikimedia main office

Daniel Mayer
In reply to this post by Michael Davis-4
--- Michael Davis <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I'm not aware of any plans that call for massive hiring in a central
> office.  Most office hiring will be for routine administrative/clerical
> functions which will be much cheaper outside of a major metropolitan
> areas.  Flights from St. Petersburg to NYC or DC are $200 round trip and
> are easy day trips.  International flights are more difficult but that
> hasn't slowed down Jimbo.  Given that the Foundations pays $400 per
> month for office space, it's a whole lot cheaper to fly back and forth a
> few time a month than lease office space in Manhattan.
>
> Our strength is that we are a virtual organization and that isn't going
> to change.

Nobody is advocating having an office in Manhattan. That would be insanely expensive. But having
one in suburb of Washington D.C. would be both cost effective and put us within a metro ride of
hundreds of potential contacts; both representatives from various nations and many other
like-minded organizations. Having our top paid staff there would even be more effective.

There are real limits to the amount that can get done via email, IRC, and telephones. For example,
we were able to do more work in the January face-to-face meeting than we did in the previous six
months. Face-to-face communication simply has a much higher bandwith (as does having direct
physical access to records). Increasing the opportunity for that by physical proximity to the
people we want and need to be in contact with, can only reap great benefits.

-- mav

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Re: Wikimedia main office

Lord Voldemort
On 5/25/06, Daniel Mayer <[hidden email]> wrote:
> There are real limits to the amount that can get done via email, IRC, and telephones. For example,
> we were able to do more work in the January face-to-face meeting than we did in the previous six
> months. Face-to-face communication simply has a much higher bandwith (as does having direct
> physical access to records). Increasing the opportunity for that by physical proximity to the
> people we want and need to be in contact with, can only reap great benefits.
>
> -- mav


Okay, so even if this was the case, would the foundation be wanting to
rent or buy?  Buying would obviously be more cost-effective, but how
much would the foundation be willing to spend on a new office?
Doesn't most of the current budget go towards server upkeep/purchase,
etc.?  Do we happen to have a tens of thousand of US dollars just
laying around?  If meetups are more effective, why not just schedule
more regular meet ups?  Meet in a library or some other suitable
meeting area.  I came into this convo a little late, forgive my
noobishness.
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Re: Wikimedia main office

Robin Shannon
In reply to this post by Daniel Mayer
On 26/05/06, Daniel Mayer <[hidden email]> wrote:
> --- Erik Zachte <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > As on several earlier occasions I disagree with Mav on how Wikimedia money
> > would be best spent. Washington D.C. or NYC are very expensive cities.
>
> Not the suburbs of D.C. and to some extent parts of the NYC outside of
> Manhattan. The point, is to
> be in a place where we can most easily establish connections with other
> nations and like-minded
> organizations.

Washington is (and more importantly is thought of as) an *American*
not international administrative centre. It would send a bad message
to the rest of the world if we moved there.

paz y amor,
-rjs.

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Re: Wikimedia main office

Daniel Mayer
In reply to this post by Lord Voldemort
--- Lord Voldemort <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Okay, so even if this was the case, would the foundation be wanting to
> rent or buy?  Buying would obviously be more cost-effective, but how
> much would the foundation be willing to spend on a new office?
> Doesn't most of the current budget go towards server upkeep/purchase,
> etc.?  Do we happen to have a tens of thousand of US dollars just
> laying around?  If meetups are more effective, why not just schedule
> more regular meet ups?  Meet in a library or some other suitable
> meeting area.  I came into this convo a little late, forgive my
> noobishness.

A couple more thousand per month would have a very minimal impact on a multi-million dollar per
year budget. There is a significant opportunity cost of having to set up meetings way in advance
because all the key people need to fly into one place vs simply having key people already on the
ground where we know contacts are already located.

What key non-Wikimedia contacts are in St Pete? None outside the tourist industry and Scientology
AFAIK. What key non-Wikimedia contacts are in D.C. and NYC? Representatives from just about every
nation on earth along with hundreds of like-minded organizations that share different parts of our
goals. If we had an office near D.C. or NYC, then meeting with any one of those key contacts could
be done casually, often, and without much notice beforehand.

Strengthening ties like that is a great opportunity. Are we going to throw that away by pretending
that email and IRC with the occasional real world meeting have anything near the bandwidth of
frequent face-to-face communication?

-- mav

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Re: Wikimedia main office

Daniel Mayer
In reply to this post by Robin Shannon
--- Robin Shannon <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Washington is (and more importantly is thought of as) an *American*
> not international administrative centre. It would send a bad message
> to the rest of the world if we moved there.

That is symbolism over substance and thus not a valid argument in my book. Besides, D.C. itself is
too expensive, the office would be in a suburb (preferably reasonably close to a Metro station).

-- mav

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Re: Wikimedia main office

valdelli@bluemail.ch
For me, who live in Swiss, to see that Washington could be the seat of the
main office of WF I automatically could think about a link between it and
US government. I know that european thought is very strange! but for a non-political
association this could be a bad choice.

Ilario


>-- Messaggio originale --
>Date: Thu, 25 May 2006 20:51:24 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Daniel Mayer <[hidden email]>
>To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <[hidden email]>
>Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Wikimedia main office
>Reply-To: [hidden email],
> Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <[hidden email]>
>
>
>--- Robin Shannon <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Washington is (and more importantly is thought of as) an *American*
>> not international administrative centre. It would send a bad message
>> to the rest of the world if we moved there.
>
>That is symbolism over substance and thus not a valid argument in my book.
>Besides, D.C. itself is
>too expensive, the office would be in a suburb (preferably reasonably close
>to a Metro station).
>
>-- mav
>
>__________________________________________________
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>Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
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Re: Wikimedia main office

Andre Engels
In reply to this post by Daniel Mayer
2006/5/26, Daniel Mayer <[hidden email]>:

> A couple more thousand per month would have a very minimal impact on a multi-million dollar per
> year budget. There is a significant opportunity cost of having to set up meetings way in advance
> because all the key people need to fly into one place vs simply having key people already on the
> ground where we know contacts are already located.

I don't see how moving the office would diminish that problem. As far
as I see it, the office would not be the "key people", and as far as
they are, they are so by being who they are, not by their function.

> What key non-Wikimedia contacts are in St Pete? None outside the tourist industry and Scientology
> AFAIK. What key non-Wikimedia contacts are in D.C. and NYC? Representatives from just about every
> nation on earth along with hundreds of like-minded organizations that share different parts of our
> goals. If we had an office near D.C. or NYC, then meeting with any one of those key contacts could
> be done casually, often, and without much notice beforehand.

If we have people near D.C. or NYC, they could do that without the
office being there physically. If we have no people there, then it
would in my opinion be stupiditiy to move our office there.



--
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Re: Wikimedia main office

Daniel Mayer
--- Andre Engels <[hidden email]> wrote:
> If we have people near D.C. or NYC, they could do that without the
> office being there physically. If we have no people there, then it
> would in my opinion be stupiditiy to move our office there.

Of course we already have people (volunteers) there in the strictest sense. What I’m talking about
is having most or at least the top paid staff there instead of in a place where they won’t be as
effective (a tourist hot spot). Remember, this whole thread started with a mention of hiring a
CEO/Executive Director. I do not propose closing the St Pete office since we have two board
members there along with our main server farm.

-- mav


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Re: Wikimedia main office

Robin Shannon
Is this the first time a CEO has been proposed? what on earth would be
the point of having one? I ask if this is the first time it has been
asked because i would like to see any wikipages or archeived email
threads to see what the arguments are for having one.

paz y amor,
-rjs.

On 26/05/06, Daniel Mayer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> --- Andre Engels <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > If we have people near D.C. or NYC, they could do that without the
> > office being there physically. If we have no people there, then it
> > would in my opinion be stupiditiy to move our office there.
>
> Of course we already have people (volunteers) there in the strictest sense.
> What I'm talking about
> is having most or at least the top paid staff there instead of in a place
> where they won't be as
> effective (a tourist hot spot). Remember, this whole thread started with a
> mention of hiring a
> CEO/Executive Director. I do not propose closing the St Pete office since we
> have two board
> members there along with our main server farm.
>
> -- mav
>
>
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Re: Wikimedia main office

Erik Moeller-3
On 5/26/06, Robin Shannon <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Is this the first time a CEO has been proposed? what on earth would be
> the point of having one? I ask if this is the first time it has been
> asked because i would like to see any wikipages or archeived email
> threads to see what the arguments are for having one.

There's been a brief public discussion about it in January:
http://mail.wikipedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2006-January/thread.html#5790

Erik
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Re: Wikimedia main office

Daniel Mayer
In reply to this post by Robin Shannon
--- Robin Shannon <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Is this the first time a CEO has been proposed? what on earth would be
> the point of having one? I ask if this is the first time it has been
> asked because i would like to see any wikipages or archeived email
> threads to see what the arguments are for having one.

We have been talking about this for at least a couple years; the last time we did so publicly was
just mentioned and linked to by Erik. The reason why this is necessary is due to the fact that we
long ago reached the limit on what volunteers alone can accomplish. We have therefore been missing
out on many different potential opportunities (for getting grants, very large donations and to
reach our ultimate goals) simply because we have not had proper staffing. And a staff needs a
person to manage them and the daily aspects of running the organization. Simply put, we are
transitioning from the amateur football club model to a professional organization. Staff are an
investment.

-- mav


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Re: Wikimedia main office

Mark
Daniel Mayer wrote:
> We have been talking about this for at least a couple years; the last time we did so publicly was
> just mentioned and linked to by Erik. The reason why this is necessary is due to the fact that we
> long ago reached the limit on what volunteers alone can accomplish. We have therefore been missing
> out on many different potential opportunities (for getting grants, very large donations and to
> reach our ultimate goals) simply because we have not had proper staffing. And a staff needs a
> person to manage them and the daily aspects of running the organization. Simply put, we are
> transitioning from the amateur football club model to a professional organization. Staff are an
> investment.
>  

This isn't without risks; many initially grass-roots organizations have
lost the essence of what initially made them work in the transition to
large, professional organization (this is especially true, for example,
of many environmentalist organizations).  It's not impossible to do
right, but IMO needs to be done slowly and cautiously.  There are plenty
of things that a grassroots organization can get people to do for free
that an organization with a large, paid staff cannot.

-Mark

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Re: Wikimedia main office

Lord Voldemort
On 5/26/06, Delirium <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> This isn't without risks; many initially grass-roots organizations have
> lost the essence of what initially made them work in the transition to
> large, professional organization (this is especially true, for example,
> of many environmentalist organizations).  It's not impossible to do
> right, but IMO needs to be done slowly and cautiously.  There are plenty
> of things that a grassroots organization can get people to do for free
> that an organization with a large, paid staff cannot.
>
> -Mark

But I'm not sure we lose the grassroots-type feel even if we had a
paid staff.  We still have tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of
people willing to do things for free, even with a paid staff.
Wikimedia has flourished under this volunteer oriented mindset, but I
don't see everyone suddenly saying, "Screw you WMF, you hired some
people, I ain't doing squat."  The volunteers would still be there,
and WMF would still enlist the services of them.  Or am I wrong?
--LV
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Re: Wikimedia main office

Nicholas Moreau
In reply to this post by erikzachte
Don't you think it's kinda neat that Wikimedia is changing the world from
somewhere rather random?

I mean, we're all editing in random places in random countries around the
world. And an edit from El Cerrito, California or Randberg, South Africa is
just as valued on Wikipedia, as one from Washington, is it not?

So if we assign no value to the location of a contributor, why should we
assign value to the location of our founder?

Nick/Zanimum
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