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Letter from the Founder

 

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In Focus & In Love

Our mission is to give freely the sum of the world's knowledge to every single person on the planet in the language of their choice, under a free license, so that they can modify, adapt, reuse, or redistribute it, at will. And, by "every single person on the planet," I mean exactly that, so we have to remember that much of our target audience is not yet able to access the Internet reliably, if at all.

We are an astounding global project that continues to grow at a staggering pace. Some statistics already widely known in the community are worth repeating: we see 2,000 new Wikipedians each month; 2,000 new articles and 40,000 article edits every day -- almost twice as many pages and page-edits if you include discussion and meta-pages -- and this is only counting Wikipedia.

As we continue to grow at this rate, we will face some challenges of scaling. Old ways of doing things sometimes begin to break down as we become a community with ever larger numbers of people. We want to maintain and improve our quality standards, while at the same time remaining open, friendly, and welcoming as a community. This is a challenge.

To meet that challenge will require a lot of analysis and thoughtfulness. I also always like to talk about another ingredient that is absolutely essential: love. It's not so common in technological, academic, and scientific circles to talk about love within a community, but for us it is, and has to be, common and explicit.

Our community already comes from a huge variety of backgrounds, and over time the variety will only increase. The only way we can coordinate our efforts in an efficient manner to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, is to love our work and to love each other, even when we disagree. Mutual respect and a reasonable approach to disagreement are essential, and both of those are helped along enormously when we feel favorably towards each other just as a natural result of being volunteers together on this incredible ridiculous crazy fun project to change the world.

None of us is perfect in these matters; such is the human condition. But each of us can try each day, in our editing, in our mailing list posts, in our irc chats, and in our private emails, to reach for a higher standard than the Internet usually encourages, a standard of rational benevolence and love.

We've come a long way already, and to really achieve our goals, we have to remain in focus and in love.


Letter from the Board
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This newsletter arose out of a desire to share our activities and opinions with a broader audience; it is addressed to the tens of thousands of contributors to the Wikimedia projects, and to the many others who support our activities.

The Wikimedia Foundation was created as a result of the evolution of Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote and Wikisource. The exponential growth of these projects has required the creation of new structures and new modes of functioning. These structures include the legal capacity to receive donations; the creation of systems for compensation, for requesting grants, for managing domain names and server clusters, and for publishing content via print, CD and DVD; and the coordination of new communication channels between the different projects.

Despite this evolution, the contributors continue to be the vital force and the greatest resource of the Wikimedia projects, and these new structures will continue to be decided on democratically. The Wikimedia Board has the role of organizing related debates and making decisions to ensure the best possible conditions for the development, maintenance, and wide distribution of our free content. We are governed by a desire to protect Wikimedia's founding spirit, based on openness (everybody can edit), trust (no need to have special qualifications), collaboration (via a wiki), respect for others (in attending to the contributions of others), and a gift culture (based on volunteering).

Over the past three months, we have built a solid base for Wikimedia's future. We have laid the groundwork for a membership system, made numerous contacts with people and organizations that will aid our projects over the coming year, and begun applying for grants and organizing regular fundraisers in order to ensure Wikimedia a stable financial future. Official positions have been given to Daniel Mayer and Tim Starling, to ensure transparent publishing of Wikimedia's finances and to increase communication with our developers, respectively.

In coordination with the German and French chapters, we have made contacts with publishers to distribute Wikipedia's content on CD and DVD, and started preparing snapshots of Wikipedia for such offline distribution. Meanwhile, a worldwide press release was distributed in celebration of our reaching the milestone of one million articles. We are establishing increased contacts with the press, and aim to further increase our projects' visibility with the help of a multilingual PR committee.

Finally, we are setting up a new official website dedicated to the Foundation. This will provide information to the public about our Foundation and its mission, our many projects and initiatives, and plans for the future. The website will also detail our financial situation (as the current site does), and offer online membership registration. Watch wikimediafoundation.org for updates over the coming months.

If you have questions or comments, we would love to hear from you. You can reach us on our talk pages (see [1]), or by email to: board (at) wikimedia.org.  

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