Snapshot: how another FLOSS project is addressing similar problems

I'd like to thank the GNOME community for how you nurtured me into the
FLOSS contributor I am today.  I'd also like to give back a bit -- I'm
working a lot less on GNOME-related program activities, but I still
watch with interest and I encourage connections that benefit GNOME where
I can.  I'm now the Engineering Community Manager at the Wikimedia
Foundation, and the Wikimedia technical community has some of the same
challenges and opportunities as GNOME.  So below, some lessons learned,
in gratitude.

Some problems GNOME and Wikimedia tech share (as I've specifically seen
discussed on the GNOME foundation-list in the last few years), and how
we're facing them:

Receiving funds internationally: we have a pretty complicated setup.
Check out
and the video at for an
overview.  We try to be very transparent regarding fundraising so our
donors know what we're doing and so other nonprofits can copy our
procedures. has more.
 Of course, we do have a multi-person paid fundraising staff, so not
everything here is something GNOME can replicate.  But we do use CiviCRM.

Improving the gender diversity of our technical contributor base: We've
joined the GNOME Outreach Program for Women!  Giant thanks to Marina and
all the past GOPW mentors and participants for proving that this works,
and for leading the way.  We also created a Friendly Space Policy for
tech events:
(thanks to the Ada Initiative for the phrasing).  GNOME is doing far
better than the MediaWiki & other Wikimedia tech community at increasing
the number and proportion of women contributing, and I believe OPW
participation will help us catch up.  It's promising so far.

Product management and design:  On a large scale, we collaboratively
made a five-year plan via a strategic goal-setting & process -- see and
for some idea of it.  It did take a lot of time and work, but it has
given us a strong basis for future collaboration.  On the smaller scale
of individual features, applications, etc: The Wikimedia Foundation has
paid product managers who define the vision for each feature, but we
don't have nearly enough of them.  So, we're looking for volunteers to
help with those kinds of tasks and activities -- see -- and had one of our
OPW interns work on product management for our exported data: .

Facilitating the integration of free software into academic courses: I
got Wikimedia participating in UCOSP , within which
students developed a Wiktionary app for course credit -- .  I haven't yet had
the bandwidth to try to collaborate with Teaching Open Source and POSSE but perhaps we can in the
future.  I think the Wikipedia Education Program is also
a practice to take a look at.

Keeping track of maintainers: We have an immediately-obsolete
hand-maintained wiki table: that also includes
a field for trainees who are working to become maintainers.  Our
community is chatting about whether switching to DOAP files would be a
good choice, but it is on the "back burner."

Systems administration and paying off technical debt: We decided to make
the switch to Puppet for configuration management, which is taking a lot
of time but is paying off well -- knowledge sharing is better and it's
easier to replicate a setup to cloned boxes.  More at and
.  It's been a very significant time investment for our sysadmins, most
of whom are paid.

Grantmaking and subsidizing volunteer expenses: Check out for details on some of our
current grantmaking.  In general, instead of having one central
Wikimedia travel committee to deal with travel expenses to Wikimedia
events, Wikimedia organizations hosting events try to budget for
individual scholarship processes.  (This can lead to duplicated effort,
unfortunately.)  We do sometimes reimburse Wikimedians' participation in
non-Wikimedia events if that will help move the Wikimedia mission
forward -- see .

And now some GNOME Love.  I especially appreciate Paul Cutler, Will
Thompson, Stormy Peters, Andreas Nilsson, Vincent Untz, Will
Kahn-Greene, Allan Day, and other GNOME colleagues who encouraged me and
edited my work.  Also, thanks to Quim Gil and Andre Klapper, whom I met
via GNOME and whom I was able to convince to join me on Wikimedia's
Engineering Community Team.  :-)  And to Seif Lotfy, who gave me the
chance to teach him a little, and to Karen Sandler, Máirín Duffy, and
Marina Zhurakhinskaya for always being a step ahead on how to grow our
community in sustainable ways.

Hoping this is more helpful than spammy,
Sumana Harihareswara

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