Annual Report 2012 (AffCom version)
This is the 2012 annual report containing also the current status of the Affiliates Committee.
- “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead (1901–1978), American anthropologist Source: Applewhite, Ashton ; Evans III, William R. ; Frothingham, Andrew (eds) : And I quote : the definitive collection of quotes, sayings, and jokes for the contemporary speechmaker. – New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1992. – ISBN 978-0-312-06897-4.
This quote is often repeated but it goes to the heart of the matter. We can see it at work in the work of our association as well as on our internet platforms and our wikis.
Development of the Project
The year 2012 was one of profound changes for the Wikivoyage project, the association and the community. The starting point was a request from the English Wikitravel community on March 20th about whether Wikivoyage would be interested in uniting communities (Wikitravel and Wikivoyage) under the umbrella of the non-profit and non-governmental organization Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) again. In addition, Wikivoyage should be migrated directly and should start other language versions as a fork and as an extension of the corresponding versions of Wikitravel. The occasion for the request was the dissatisfaction of the authors and readers with the self-serving use of free content through the Internet and advertising company Internet Brands, which hosts Wikitravel.
At a General Assembly held in Cologne, the association members decided to implement this goal together with interested Wikivoyage authors. In a first step, a new server was purchased and five Wikivoyage language versions (English, French, Dutch, Russian and Swedish) were transferred to the new server and began to operate. In collaboration with two association members, all wikis were then in October 2012 in San Francisco transferred to the server of WMF. Under a contract between the Wikivoyage association and the Wikimedia Foundation, the domain name rights were transferred to the WMF. The association has licensed the name and the logo and it can also use them in the future.
The duties and purpose of the association remain preserved. The servers will be used for archival purposes and the development of new projects. The association will continue to support the communities through project work, outreach and collaboration with other community organizations.
For 2012, the focus of the association’s activities was on the increased internationalization and the international perception of the project.
The focus of the board work was on the organizational implementation of the inclusion of five Wikitravel communities and the contract negotiations with the WMF and bringing them to a conclusion. After the decision to apply for admission as an official sister project at the Wikimedia Foundation, Stefan Fussan attended the event Wikimania 2012 from the 12th to 15th of July 2012 in Washington to lead discussions and to present the project to the Wikimedia family. Further discussions and a presentation on the project took place in the context of WikiCon, 2012 in Dornbirn. Finally, on the 2nd of November 2012, the contract with the Wikimedia Foundation was signed. While the discussions on the possible new sister project were going on, the domain Wikivoyage.com was acquired.
The board continually keeps its members informed about the work it is doing through newsletters sent out per email.
The association currently has eleven members. The largest proportion of members is from Germany. Other members come from Belgium, Canada and Pakistan. In addition to the members, the association is supported by voluntary members of the community (e.g. volunteers, supporters).
Voluntary Assistants (Supporters)
The project and the association are also supported by community members who are not association members. They take on additional tasks that go beyond writing articles. Some of them we would like to mention here and thank them for their support:
- Nicholasjf21, JamesA und Ina – they are representatives of the English community and they take care of the Wikivoyage Twitter account.
- Mey2008 – He programmed our maps tool which runs on the server and which complement the articles with map functions.
- Andyrom78 – He takes care of and manages the Italian version of Wikivoyage both technically and structurally.
- Ravan Jafaar – She would like to join the association and take care of the future Arab Wikivoyage.
Then there are those helping out who take care of the communication between the different language versions. A regular exchange takes place on the meta wiki Wikivoyage-Summit.
Cooperation with Wikimedia Deutschland e.V.
Since 2012, there has been an intensive amount of contact between the boards of the non-profit associations of Wikivoyage e.V. and Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. Cooperation with the Wikimedia Foundation
Already at the event Wikimania 2012, there was an initial contact with the Wikimedia Foundation. The first major result of the cooperation was the technical implementation of the transfer of the inventory database. In addition, the association in 2013 will seek to be recognized as a thematic organization in order to expand its activities at the international level.
The documents of the association will be published on the following website www.wikivoyage-ev.org.
Seven association members and four guests attended the General Assembly on June 9th 2013 in Cologne. The most important items on the agenda were the election of the Board for the next two years and the decision concerning the possible future of the project Wikitravel under the umbrella of the Wikimedia Foundation. The Board was dissolved and then re-elected for the next two years. For the possible cooperation with the Wikimedia Foundation, the following draft resolution was approved:
Wikivoyage e.V. welcomes the possibility of cooperation with Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) in creating an international travel wiki. The Board has been authorized to enter into negotiations with WMF about establishing a free travel wiki as an international project within the Wikimedia movement, aimed at:
The only item on the agenda of the 14th General Assembly, which was conducted as an online General Assembly, was the conclusion of the contract with the Wikimedia Foundation concerning the project Wikivoyage. The following objectives should be achieved:
- Wikivoyage e.V. will transfer its travel wikis and its media repositories with all its contents to the server of the Wikimedia Foundation. The Internet domains wikivoyage.org, wikivoyage.de, wikivoyage.com and wikivoyage.eu and all rights to the brand Wikitravel and all related values will be transferred irrevocably to the Wikimedia Foundation. The Wikimedia Foundation will compensate Wikivoyage e.V. for the cost of acquiring the domain wikivoyage.com and promises to continue to manage the travel wikis.
- Wikivoyage e.V. shall receive a license to continue using the name and specific Internet domains containing this name in order to support the wiki project Wikivoyage as a non-profit association. This license may be terminated by both parties with a certain deadline.
- Wikivoyage e.V. and the Wikimedia Foundation intend to work together and to prepare for a smooth transition. Wikivoyage e.V shall enter into negotiations with the Affiliations Committee with the aim of being recognized and supported by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees as a Thematic Organization.
- The exact wording of the draft contract is available to all association members. The Board is authorized to determine, in light of this resolution, the final wording of the text along with the Wikimedia Foundation and to sign the contract.
The following resolution was unanimously accepted:
Financing of Wikivoyage e.V.
Revenue and Expenses
Wikivoyage e.V. was funded in 2011 exclusively by membership fees, private donations, temporary transfers of money by some members to ensure sufficient funds in the account and a transfer of money by the Wikimedia Foundation for purchasing the Internet domain wikivoyage.com.
The revenue was 3042.32 € (1262.50 € excluding compensation), the carry-over from 2011 amounted to 757.69 € , expenditures amounted to 3,366.72 € (1,586.90 € without compensation). The reserves for 2013 amount to 433.29 €.
The revenue broke down in the following manner:
- Fees 262.50 €
- Donations 1,000.00 €
- Adjustment for accounting error 179.82 €
- Sufficient funds for account 700.00 €
- Repayment for domain purchase 900.00 €
The expenses were as follows:
- Server 900.10 €
- Accounting error 179.82 €
- Kontoführung 187.00 €
- Repayment of sufficient funds for account 700.00 €
- Sale of wikivoyage.com 900.00 €
- Translation of charter 499.80 €
On account of the non-profit nature of the association, no taxes were assessed.
An erroneous debiting from the account of Wikivoyage e.V. was corrected. The association did not incur any damage as a result of this.
The tax and revenue office of Halle (Saale)-Nord reconfirmed on the 25th of October, 2011 the association’s non-profit status.
Content and Method of Operation
Wikivoyage e.V. operates two Internet servers under the domain of wikivoyage.org and, starting in November 2012, under wikivoyage-ev.org as well. The focus is on several web-based wiki systems for the community development of articles and information about countries, regions and places in the world. The offering of Wikivoyage is directed at both readers who want to learn more about other places and countries as well as those readers intending to travel to these places and who also would prefer to have practical advice.
An increased importance has been given to topic-specific articles. Great progress has been made when it comes to receiving alternative and environmentally friendly forms of travel such as cycling and hiking.
In addition to these articles, regular updates and travel related news are provided in different countries.
The development of these articles has progressed unevenly. Anyone is permitted to work on them and everything runs entirely on a voluntary basis. All contents of Wikivoyage can also be downloaded in their entirety from the server and can be used in many different ways due to their free license (Creative Commons by-sa). Many people have downloaded the contents onto their laptops for reading without an internet connection.
The provision and maintenance of the technical infrastructure requires in-depth expertise. All software adjustments developed specifically for Wikivoyage are licensed freely and publicly available. They can be downloaded from our servers and starting from November 2013 from the server www.mediawiki.org.
Development of the Web Presence
The web domain www.wikivoyage.org was able to record an increase in popularity throughout 2012 and thus there were also more page views and backlinks. Starting in August 2012, Mediawiki version 1.13 was updated to version 1.20. The extensions created by the association were adapted for this purpose. In October, two association members stayed at the headquarters of the Wikimedia Foundation to transfer along with the local technicians the contents of the database onto the new server. The association’s server will remain as an archive server at www.wikivoyage-old.org. The cost of the stay of the association members was paid for by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Year End Review
At the end of the year, in addition to a larger number of organizational articles and discussion pages, there were about 12,100 content articles written in German. The text size of all articles had a total size of 73 MB or about 38,000 DIN A4 pages full of text. There were about 2,230 articles in Italian with a total size of 12 MB (about 6,000 A4 pages).
Despite there being a tense situation amongst server administrators, the operation of the server could be ensured. There was no server downtime.
The Website of the Association
The website of the association was redesigned.
The association’s chairman, Stefan Fussan, took part in the event Wikimania 2012 in Washington in order to introduce the project Wikivoyage to the Wikimedia family and to have initial discussions with the Wikimedia Foundation.
In addition, Stefan Fussan presented the project and the association Wikivoyage at WikiCon 2012, which took place from August 31st to September 2nd 2012 at the University of Applied Sciences in Dornbirn. The presentation is available for Download. The project was also discussed in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio.
Stefan Fussan presented the tasks and goals of the association during the 11th General Assembly of Wikimedia Deutschland e.V.
Future Tasks of the Association
In the near future, the association is going to focus on the following tasks:
- The association is supported in its work by volunteers who are not members of the association. To highlight these opportunities for cooperation, appropriate pages on Meta (Wikimedia), the Wikivoyage wikis and the association’s website have been set up for this purpose.
- Support the cooperation between different language versions for the following tasks:
- Agreeing on uniform guidelines and rules
- Avoiding redundant work in regards to geographic features.
- Bringing together design and style of the different language versions in regards to essential aspects.
- Supporting smaller language versions with the creation of their wikis.
- Providing a human interface between the communities and the local Wikimedia associations in order to support projects and, in return for this, to take advantage also of other projects such as “Wiki Loves Monuments.”
- Gaining new association members and supporters.
The travel guide project was discussed in more than one hundred press and internet articles in 2012. Both Internet portals as well as printed media focused on three main aspects of the travel guide project in their news coverage.
For starters, there was the announcement that the travel guide portal Wikivoyage is going to be continued as a new Wikimedia project. The Wikmedia-Woche reported several times between the 14th and 28th of June 2013 about the preparations being undertaken by the association to continue the project within the Wikimedia community. On the 11th of July, 2012, Jani Patokallio wrote in his blog "Anonymous editors abandon Internet Brands, join up with Wikipedia" that the Wikimedia Foundation has struggled through a long-awaited decision to establish a wiki for travel information. Patokallio answered the questions of why a fork [by Anonymous] is necessary, why it will be successful and how to react to Internet Brands (IB). As a consequence, the decision of the Wikimedia Foundation has been featured in numerous media publications worldwide.
The dpa report "Wikipedia Makers Plan Online Guide" of the 16th of July appeared in over one hundred media publications, including the Handelsblatt, Wirtschaftswoche, Stern, Focus, the Austrian Standard and der Presse and also the Luxemburger Wort. Leonhard Dobusch in his blog „Challenges of Merging Communities: The Case of WikiTravel and WikiVoyage“ discussed the topic of „governance across borders“ mentioning a new development in the internet; namely the reintegration of projects: “Thinking about this case, I realized that I am aware of several theoretical (..) and empirical (..) works on forking communities in the context commons-based peer production, mainly in the realm of open source software (..). But I cannot recall a single article dealing with the challenges of merging such communities. This lack of studies is surprising since open content licensing allows both forking and merging communities that developed around compatible licenses. However, merging open content communities is seemingly not so common a case.”
On the 16th of October, 2012, ASchmidt reported in the Wikipedia Kurier and Jani Patokallio on Gyrovague that the Wikimedia community had decided to continue using the established and traditional name Wikivoyage.
A detailed list of press coverage can be found in Press Review 2012.