Current and Future COSTS of FORUM

I think it is obvious by now to all that I am pro-forum as a Discourse software use and as a method of doing things *(not better, but in more than one way to more than meeting one type of needs inside Wikimedia), but issue of costs came up in multiple conversations I had.
I would love if this could be addressed and made explicit+transparent ASAP by WMF (for sure much before decision on forum is made later in July) as this is somewhat of a bottleneck.

My guess is this is a hosted service so monthly cost is insignificant and labor of 2-3 x 50% time WMF professionals with one of them being ‘contractor’… however I have no idea how much is that exactly right now…it looks like smaller and cheaper than WM Space work.

I would continue supporting Forum if investments from July would go in balanced and ideally equal proportion. WMF and other contractor professionals should not be compensated more than what other people from community managing services or advancing software get.
IMHO it would be somewhat bizzare that we have only moderators/developers from WMF who get paid more than 1USD a minute and community ones get zilch/nada/zero.

Further I trust that some people might want to opt out of being paid and be exclusively volunteers, but IMHO their work should be accounted for and donated to the Wikimedia project, Affiliate or scholarship of their choice.

Thank you, @Zblace. This is an interesting request and I’m curious to see how the conversation goes.

Some costs are easy to measure (services paid) and some are not (hours of staff).

Services

  • Hosting - we are contracting Enterprise hosting to the company that leads the development of Discourse. This consists of a fixed monthly fee that includes everything related to server hosting, updates, and technical support. We also have a pack of hours for design improvements that we haven’t used yet because it seemed premature in the context of the community review. We pay a little extra for the code review and updates of two unofficial plugins that we are using here, the Wikimedia login plugin and the Multilingual plugin.
  • We have a contract signed with Pavilion to get the Wikimedia login and the Multilingual plugin ready for production. This is a one-time contract that is about to end, after the work agreed has been completed.
  • Domain - a negligible annual fee.
  • Google Translate API - The monthly cost depends on the use of the API. On the other hand, we are tagging along a wider collaboration between the Foundation and Google as a major donor, and it is very possible that the real cost of automatic translations in this forum (having them vs not having them) is zero right now.

Staff hours

None of us has Forum maintenance or moderation as a primary activity or as a fixed amount of hours. This is the main advantage of contracting the technical maintenance to the Discourse developers. Moderation doesn’t take much time. Bootstrapping the forum and running the community review does take some time, but this is a one-off activity.

There are many staff members that are active in this forum, but their work here counts towards the projects they are involved in: promotion of Movement Strategy grants, facilitation of Hubs discussions, support to communities at a regional level, UCoC… With or without forum, their hours of Foundation work and their compensation would be the same.

This is IMHO the interesting part. Although I think I understand what you are aiming for, at least to me this paragraph isn’t clear. Can you describe how would this work in practice?

Once it is clear what you are requesting, it would be useful to know whether there is any precedent on Wikimedia or in any similar community. Any ideas and good practices that we all could consider here.

And then it would be very useful to hear more opinions from other members of this forum or Wikimedia volunteers in general. There are many opinions and approaches to mixing volunteering activities with money. Ideally, whatever we do would be supported by community agreement.

A post was split to a new topic: Forum design improvements

I think for this topic to advance it should be reposted to Meta and more (at least aproximate) figures need show up so that the informed proposals could be made for future, based on existing numbers.

I think the first step is to define how this new thing would work. The proposal so far doesn’t define anything.

  • Who could apply for compensation?
  • What tasks would be compensated?
  • What would be the principle for compensation? Hours worked? A monthly fee? A lump sum? Other?

Given that this is a proposal for a new paid forum role, it makes sense that it is discussed in the forum itself, at least to check here whether there is a critical mass of interest.

Once it is clear how this new role would work, then it will be easier to address the calculation of a fair compensation.

Lets take a step back and take it slower at least until Forum is confirmed to stay…
(still can not judge well if this service is going to be worth Enterprise hosting
with only so many of us using it actively now or just $100 Standard / $300 Business)

My primary and urgent goal was to have the idea of shared ownership of Forum be matched in resources. Care and technical work for maintenance, critical and creative work development among all needs to be acknowledged and at least somewhat accounted for.

I am glad that shared responsibility for Forum is the goal from WMF and
also that some info on resource input is now public *(would love to see more).

Two thing I would not agree that projections of quantification is urgent right now
and that this is a ‘new paid forum role’, since people who do it till now are compensated,
it is just in fuzzy+flexible work in investigation of new service for 2030 Movement Strategy.
I think similar setup would be desirable beyond WMF staff and contractors.
After that we could project with informed positions and experiences sustained follow up.

I am happy to hear from others as I take a bit of Forum break :wink: