The Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization of Wikipedia and nearly a dozen other wiki-based projects, announced its five-year strategic plan today. The plan is the product of a collaborative effort that began in 2009 and involved more than 1,000 participants from around the world. In it, the organization lays out a number of goals it hopes to reach by 2015, including increasing the number of editors, articles, users and more.
After more than a year in the making, Wikimedia released the final version today, saying that it is "energized and enthusiastic about where Wikimedia is heading."
The plan itself is an impressive oeuvre in its own right and showcases the potential of the Wikimedia community. Not only is it the product of more than 1,000 contributors, but it was birthed from more than 50 languages, 900 separate proposals, and hundreds of discussions, "both face-to-face in cities around the world, and via IRC, Skype, mailing lists and wiki pages." In the process, the team of collaborators created 1,470 content pages which have been summarized and condensed into this final strategic plan (.pdf).
According to the announcement, there are a number of metrics Wikimedia will go by to determine success.
- Increase the total number of people served to 1 billion
- Increase the amount of information we offer to 50 million Wikipedia articles
- Ensure information is high quality by increasing the percentage of material reviewed to be of high or very high quality by 25 percent
- Encourage readers to become contributors by increasing the number of total editors per month who made >5 edits to 200,000
- Support healthy diversity in the editing community by doubling the percentage of female editors to 25 percent and increasing the number of Global South editors to 37 percent
So how far does it have to go? Currently, Wikipedia serves just over 400 million unique visitors monthly (it had 414 million in January) and contains just under 18 million articles across all languages. In December, there were nearly 80,000 "active editors," which are defined as editors who make five or more edits a month. That means that Wikipedia is looking to more than double both its traffic and its active editors over the next five years.
What will it take to reach these goals? The first step to serving a billion people monthly is creating the infrastructure to handle this sort of traffic. To do that, Wikipedia will create new data centers and deploy caching centers in a number of locations. In order to increase participation and editor retention, the organization also plans on a number of outreach initiatives, as well as developing tools like a rich-text editor to simplify the editing process.
Most importantly, Wikimedia will need money and lots of it. How much? More than 3 times the $16 million the foundation raised at the end of 2010.
Remember that banner ad featuring Jimmy Wales' pleading mug? You're likely to see that a lot more over years to come.