The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) today took an important step toward running its finances in a more transparent and accountable way. Luis Villa, the WMF’s Senior Director of Community Engagement, explained (see video clip below, ~10 minutes) how the organization had incorporated a November 2015 statement in which the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC; elected by the Wikimedia community, and largely independent of the organization):
…laments that the Wikimedia Foundation’s own planning process does not meet the minimum standards of transparency and planning detail that it requires of affiliates applying for its own Annual Plan Grant (APG) process.
That statement was a strong and pointed criticism — something that is not always well received in the Wikimedia world (or, for that matter, in the world at large). It’s criticism I echoed in a recent blog post, about the lack of transparency around major grants awarded to the WMF.
Nevertheless, the Board of Trustees approved the FDC’s overall recommendation without public comment on December 9, 2015; and today, Villa’s more detailed commentary reveals that the organization understands the problem; that the recommendation was timely, and therefore easy for the WMF to incorporated into its Annual Plan development process; and that the WMF has modified its internal processes to prioritize the kind of external review recommended by the FDC.
Kudos to all who brought this about — to the FDC, for taking the first step, and to the WMF, for incorporating legitimate criticism in a healthy way. Wikimedia’s stakeholders will be well served by the process, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes.