User:Eekim/PARC May 6, 2010

From Strategic Planning

About the PARC Series

The talk series seeks to surface different perspectives on participatory communities, new technologies for collaboration and new practices that are emerging, and case studies with lessons learned in the management of real projects. We want to hear about diverse experiences such as open source, end-user software engineering, developer communities spanning projects that represent participation-in-the-large to big impact from the agile few. In short, how are people organizing and getting things done on the Internet?

How Wikimedia is scaling open source innovation

  • Overview of Wikimedia + strategic priorities
  • Overview of Wikimedia development model
  • User studies. Community design process.
  • Mobile. Business relationships in the open source community.
  • Fundraising. Transparency.
  • Roundtable discussion.


Tomasz Finc is Engineering Program Manager for Fundraising, Mobile, Offline, and Business Relationships at the Wikimedia Foundation. He has more than eight years of experience as a systems and software engineer. He previously worked at, where he administered and supported the A9 search engine. Tomasz speaks fluent Polish and English.

Trevor Parscal is the Lead UX Software Developer at the Wikimedia Foundation. He began his career as a user interface designer in 2000. He's been an active open source contributor in the D programming language since 2004.

Eugene Eric Kim is the cofounder and principal of Blue Oxen Associates, a consulting firm focused on improving the ways we collaborate. He's currently leading Wikimedia's year-long strategic planning process, a completely open, collaborative process for developing a five-year movement-wide strategic plan. Past clients have included the CIA, NASA, Sierra Club, and the World Economic Forum.


Wikipedia and its sister projects are the fifth most accessed web sites in the world. Remarkably, both the content and the platform were developed through an open, community process. How can Wikimedia continue this process while also meeting the challenge of scale?

We'll give an overview of the Wikimedia universe and identify challenges and opportunities that have emerged from the Wikimedia Foundation's year-long strategic challenge process. We'll then dive into two specific case studies. We'll describe the Wikipedia Usability Initiative's work to make its user experience process more participatory. We'll then discuss how the Wikimedia Foundation is grappling with the unique challenges of building business relationships between telecommunication companies and the open source community in the mobile space.

The presentation will be followed by a rousing, round-table discussion with the audience.

User Experience

The Wikipedia Usability Initiative has studied the behavior of 23 users as they tried to accomplish common tasks with the software. Video recordings of these sessions were released to the community for collaborative analysis. Software prototypes were then designed and built in an open process, each focused on a high-impact low-complexity improvement that were identified by analysis of prior user testing. Prototype software was stabilized and released to all users on an opt-in basis as a public beta. Validation testing showed that many of the improvements made significant impact on the efficiency of task completion and users' comprehension of the features of the software, which correlated with beta-feature retention rates. While there are many areas of work where community driven development is still in it's infancy, such as mobile application development and online fund-raising, this collaborative user-centric development model is now being applied to other areas of the Wikimedia Foundation's development process.


Wikimedia strives to not only be open and transparent with its core software architecture but also with its fund raising practices. We actively work with external communications firms, chapters and our community to brainstorm and refine our fund raising initiatives. Before each fund raiser we post our design ideas and solicit community feedback to guide our efforts. After a lengthy vetting process the successful designs are taken live and are immediately tied to a statistical backend that is available for anyone to see. This openly reports the success of our designs and continuously feeds our decisions making process. Having moved through this cycle two years in a row we've identified the large need for an objective analytical approach to decision making.