Based in San Francisco, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is the organization that owns the domain
wikipedia.org. The Foundation raises money, distributes grants, controls the servers, develops and deploys software, and does outreach to support Wikimedia projects, including the English Wikipedia. The WMF does not edit Wikipedia content (except for occasional office actions). "The community" (largely volunteer editors) handle content, because if the WMF did take responsibility for content, it would introduce liability issues per section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The organization grew quickly. In 2006, there were five employees and about $2.7 million in revenue. In 2012, there were approximately 140 employees and a revenue of about $38 million (mostly from donations). In 2016, there were approximately 280 employees, and in 2020, there were approximately 450 employees and contractors. [weasel words] current employees had their start as respected Wikipedia volunteers.
Software and tech info
The WMF and volunteers develop software used on the English Wikipedia (and other Wikimedia projects). Even you can become a MediaWiki hacker. See mw:Wikimedia engineering for some of the current priorities and m:Tech/News for news. The WMF is also hiring, see foundationsite:about/jobs. If you have a specific idea about how to develop a new software feature for the English Wikipedia, it could help to find a wiki-colleague or make a friend who has experience. You might find people by posting your ideas at WP:VPI, WP:VPP, WP:VPT, or looking for tech-savvy Wikipedians in Category:Wikipedia bot operators. You might also consider learning how to code yourself or seeing if an Individual Engagement Grant (IEG) could suit you (however IEGs are not just about tech stuff). Getting official development time from the WMF for new ideas is unfortunately difficult because there are many old and good ideas in the works, bugs already logged, and feature requests to existing software already requested.
Rollouts and planned new features
- The Curation Toolbar was released in May 2012: just go to Special:NewPagesFeed then click on a new article.
- The Wikipedia:VisualEditor is beta released and Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Feedback is open for feedback
- The Media Viewer was released on June 3, 2014
Organization, programs, and contact
The WMF suffered significant staff turmoil, turnover among board members, and loss of many long-standing employees in the 1 year and 10 months of Lila Tretikov's (User:LilaTretikov) tenure as executive director (June 2014 to March 2016), as chronicled at A timeline of recent events surrounding the Wikimedia projects by User:GorillaWarfare and others.
Board of Trustees
The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees oversees the foundation and its work, as its ultimate corporate authority.
Three board trustees are to be elected as community representatives, but there were periods when three were not serving in 2015 and 2016. (See m:Wikimedia_Foundation_elections_2015/Results for results of the most recent Wikimedia elections.) User:Doc James/James Heilman was voted off of the board in 2015. This related to his communication with staff and interest in making details of the Knowledge Engine public; Andrew Lih/User:Fuzheado of the Wikipedia Weekly later said in March 2016 that "we can now see in retrospect James was very much justified in taking on these issues". (User:Raystorm/María Sefidari) was brought on in place of James. She finished 4th in the previous election and had prior board experience. In 2016, a community-elected member, User:Denny/Denny Vrandečić, resigned. User:Jimbo Wales/Jimmy Wales has the "founder's seat" and the title "Emeritus Chairman". Two board members are selected by Wikimedia movement affiliates and the remaining four members are appointed by the rest of the board for expert knowledge. The WMF has an Advisory Board. See strategy:Task force/Strategy/Plan overview for old community discussion on strategy.
For the most recent minutes of the Board of Trustees, see wmf:Resolutions. For a list of the board's user accounts, see m:Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. The board has a noticeboard as well. If you have a general question for the WMF that is more general than just English Wikipedia, then that can go to answerswikimedia.org (and here are some previous answers). There are also other ways to contact the WMF.
Members of the Wikipedia community vary in their reactions to WMF initiatives. Many at WP:VisualEditor/Default State RFC criticized the buggy release of the WP:VisualEditor (VE). The community disabled some VE features, in line with consensus, but against WMF wishes. WP:Education Working Group/RfC shows both community support and community skepticism of the value of the WP:Education program. The recent notification features received generally positive feedback. Sometimes, WMF staff provide direct and organized support to volunteer Wikipedians engaged in advancing the Wikimedia mission – more perhaps than the volunteer community might be able to muster. For example, the WMF has helped users that faced legal problems that occurred because of their editing of Wikimedia projects.
ACTRIAL was important because it showed how disagreement between the WMF and the community can occasionally reach proportions requiring the Foundation to bend to the volunteers' consensuses for needed organic changes as they finally did at WP:ACPERM five years later.
In 2013, Sue Gardner/User:Sue Gardner, then executive director, criticized the existing structure of grantmaking, which she proposed and set up, as being too vulnerable to corruption. There are ways to participate managing the money that is donated to the WMF. There is a m:Grant Advisory Committee, composed of volunteers. There is also a m:Funds Dissemination Committee with elected representatives.
There are about 282 staff members, including employees and individual independent contractors. Staff are generally paid either an hourly wage or a monthly salary. Full-time employees in the US receive employee benefits, including fully paid health insurance. There are no bonuses, no commissions, no profit-sharing, and no stock options or any other types of equity-based compensation.
The compensation for all Board members (which is US $0.00), all officers, all directors, key employees and other highly compensated staff is publicly available through the Form 990 on Guidestar.org. In the fiscal year ending in June 2012, the highest-paid employee was Sue Gardner, who had a base salary of US $200,000 per year and also received the equivalent of $19,980 in other forms of compensation (mostly in retirement savings and health insurance premiums). See m:Wikimedia Foundation salaries for a compilation of salaries from the public 990s over the years.
The Wikimedia Foundation usually has some job openings and seeks people who are motivated by the mission.
In general, the Foundation does not provide legal support or legal advice to volunteers. But see meta.wikimedia.org for more details because it does maintain a m:Legal and Community Advocacy/Legal Fees Assistance Program for volunteers under certain circumstances.
- Help:Interwikimedia links if you'd like see how to make links to other specific Wikimedia pages
- Wikimedia Foundation blog
- Wikimedia Foundation Report, July 2014, for a recent[needs update] WMF monthly report
- Wikimedia Foundation staff, a list of WMF-related English Wikipedia accounts
- Wikipedia:Contact us, for more general "Wikipedia contact info"
- Wikipedia:Village pump (WMF), a place for dialogue between the community and the WMF
- Wikipedia:Wikimedia Cloud Services
- The Signpost, the English Wikipedia newsletter, which is a volunteer initiative and includes coverage of WMF-related activity
- It also owns many other domains.
- "Frequently asked questions - Wikimedia Foundation". wikimediafoundation.org. 30 May 2018.
- "Staff and Contractors". Wikimedia Foundation.
- Feature requests are defined as "enhancement" requests to a specific software line in a Phabricator task (see that specified here). A video tutorial is at File:Creating Tasks In Phabricator.webm.
- "Multimedia/Media Viewer/Release Plan".
- "Online-Enzyklopädie: Chefin der Wikipedia-Stiftung tritt zurück". Spiegel Online. February 26, 2016.
- "Resolution:James Heilman Removal - Wikimedia Foundation". wikimediafoundation.org.
- "Wikimedia Foundation ousts community-elected Trustee - Wiki Strategies". wikistrategies.net.
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-03-16/Wikipedia_Weekly. 51 minutes and 53 seconds in.
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2016-04-14/News and notes
- "Comments requested before I implement consensus".
- Noam Cohen (9 September 2012). "Travel Site Built on Wiki Ethos Now Bedevils Its Owner". The New York Times.
- Wikimedia Foundation (2012-07-11). "Funds Dissemination Committee framework and initial operation".
The Executive Director has prepared the framework [...] the Executive Director recommended the formal creation of the FDC
- Sue Gardner (2012-01-05). "Fundraising and Funds Dissemination Recommendations (original version)".
Recommendations: Funds Dissemination
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2013-10-02/News and notes
- "Work with us". 31 May 2018.