Wikimedia Foundation Reviews

Updated February 16, 2015
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3.1
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  1. 3 people found this helpful

    Amazing project (Wikipedia) that survives IN SPITE OF inept management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    You will be exposed to the one of the most successful collaborative knowledge projects of all time -- Wikipedia --which is a huge draw for most people. And most of your colleagues are passionate people that care about the mission.

    If you want to work at a slow and safe bureaucratic institution that's well-funded, then this is the place for you. If you're coming from the non-profit world, it's a nice cushy gig. The pay and benefits are above average, and the politics and promotions more closely resemble this sector.

    Cons

    If you are NOT on a non-profit career path and want to grow and improve your skills and career, then this is NOT the place for you. It is difficult to find a career path at Wikimedia. Although there are still a few star employees scattered throughout the organization, most of the talent has left over the last couple years. If you compare the majority of senior level staff (C-Level, Directors, etc.) with their counterparts from other organizations, they are typically a notch or two below in experience, skill-set, and talent. It's almost ridiculous, how bad the leadership has been over the years. If Wikimedia did not have an amazing project like Wikipedia to lean on, it would receive a ONE star rating.

    Although you'll be working on an amazing project -- Wikipedia -- the phenomenal growth period is over and your contribution/impact will be marginal at best. Wikimedia also claims to champion several organizational values such as transparency, openness, and fairness, but it can't live up to any of them. If you want to work with the brightest and most innovative diligent minds in product/technology, you should go to another company (and there are lots of options out there). You'll also get compensated much better elsewhere.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Although the previous ED built a stable non-profit in Wikimedia, she new nothing about running or improving Wikipedia (bringing in a lifer from an old world news organization -- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation -- to run one of the most innovative internet projects was a huge setback). However, it still remains to be seen if the new ED can improve the situation. She's already been in her position for several months but not much has changed, and it's still unclear where the organization is headed. Leaders in departments such as legal, HR/culture, finance, etc., have way too much power for an organization that needs to be more product and technology driven. In most companies, these areas would be seen as support services, but at Wikimedia they're almost running the show. The sad truth is that most of the management needs to be replaced.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. Great co-workers, growing pains

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Wikimedia Foundation

    Pros

    Staff at WMF really care about bringing free and open knowledge to the world. It's a great opportunity to work on a global project with a huge impact. This isn't a traditional tech company, it's a non-profit that's able to offer it's staff more than other non-profits out there.

    Great benefits and an administrative team that cares about helping staff.

    Cons

    Leadership is a little all over the place at the moment. Some leaders act like WMF is a large for-profit and others caught in the past. Directors are not given enough space to make decisions, yet leadership decisions can be slow.

    Collaborating with the volunteer community is unlike anything experienced before. It's both a source of great satisfaction and incredible angst.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Trust your staff, you hired them for a reason. Also don't forget that your staff are people with feelings, not data to be analyzed.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  3. 1 person found this helpful

    Miserable

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Passionate community, great mission, good location

    Cons

    Terrible environment, favoritism, very challenged leadership team

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful

    Chaotic non-profit that struggles with having start-up mentality versus non-profit professionalism

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I worked at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    Good location in downtown San Francisco, great benefits package, international travel opportunities, idyllic mission. Good pay for non-profit, bad pay for tech firm. Many passionate people, too.

    Cons

    First career for many of the employees - HR tends to hire people they know or people who are volunteers in the Wikipedia community leading to an unstable, unprofessional, often weird environment.

    Staff have to answer to community members who contribute to websites and it's often confrontational and bossy. Community will override changes made to websites if they want and complain very publicly if they dislike actions taken by Foundation.

    Leadership often lacks professionalism when handling harassment, hiring, privacy, and community interactions. Nothing like you'll ever experience at any other company or organization.

    Turnover rate is fairly frequent, staff averages less than two years. Many good people leave this place broken, and have a hard time getting jobs due to the Foundation being a non-profit not a tech firm.

    Double standards about firings - one person does one thing that is terrible and they get a slap on the wrist, others do things that could have been helped and get fired. Recent firing of one employee was posted on a mailing list and was published in online news outlets, no other organization or company would do that to a low level employee.

    Lots of partying at conferences and sometimes in house - can be OK but sometimes excessive and can distract you from your job.

    Start up mentality leads to people sleeping at the office, expecting video games and special treatment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire people with quality non-profit experience. High professionals, don't just hire volunteers. Extensive training is needed for leadership regarding hiring, firing/resignations, harassment, etc. Training for staff about harassment should be mandatory.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6. Mostly positive, with some cultural difficulties due to growth.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Work in an innovative NGO with global impact.

    Cons

    Political culture hard to navigate.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The political commitment to free knowledge matters more than product design.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7. 3 people found this helpful

    Great Mission, Poor Management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    The Wikipedia community is comprised of such wonderful people. It's an honor to work for them. At the Foundation, employees focus on such high and noble ideals. It's accelerating and contagious: the brand, the intelligence, and the mission are the top three things that will attract any individual to working for this company.

    Cons

    Cons in a nutshell? Great ideas but poor execution. I found the management team lacking and often felt the Foundation had to constantly hit the reset button. Management focused less on merit but more on popularity. It was all a bit dysfunctional (and slightly abusive mentally). It was not the flat organization they claimed to be. An organized, results-driven person will find themselves completely frustrated in no time at all.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire good people and then allow them to do their job. Promote people based on skill and merit and not on how well they get along with the Executive Director (or Senior Management).

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 4 people found this helpful

    Great mission... but poor management.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    The projects you get to work on are really interesting, and make a lot of difference for people around the world.

    Compensation is pretty good by most standards, but definitely lower than other similar organizations in San Francisco, which is fairly understandable given the non-profit nature of the company.

    Working for the Wikimedia Foundation looks great on your resume, and opens a lot of doors.

    Cons

    The management are extremely incompetent. Most of the accomplishments at the WMF are accomplished in spite of the management, rather than because of it. Managers do not safeguard the time of their employees very well, so frequently their employees are dragged into time-wasting meetings rather than just getting stuff done. It's not unheard of for employees to have irrelevant meetings back-to-back from 9am until 6pm for days on end, only to be chastized by their managers for not spending their "spare time" time developing their skills. If you're not willing to stand up to those that waste your time, even if they're way above you in the power structure of the organization, you won't do well at the WMF.

    On the other hand, the administrative side of the organization are somewhat heartless. Because the WMF is a non-profit, they take a lot of opportunities to skimp on costs, and it can often put employees out financially when things go wrong. They do not take much of an interest in the issues faced by the employees, instead deferring to each employee's (incompetent) line manager.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Leave. I have suffered because of the senior management, but what's sad is that I've seen people suffer far worse than I have, basically having to juggle six projects at once all on their own while their manager attempts to micromanage their decisions rather than helping them achieve their goals.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. 2 people found this helpful

    Terrible management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Mission driven organization, good work-life balance, small organization

    Cons

    Terrible management, the top brass is clueless. Example they spent millions of dollars setting up offices in India, Brazil and paying hundreds of dollars to staff in these countries, hiring consultants who first came up with this flawed strategy and shutting down those programs after big fiascos.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hope new ED will hold her direct reports accountable for their actions. There has been no accountability in the past. The last ED dealt with staff that challenged her bad decisions by firing everyone.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. Fast Paced, closed management

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Wikimedia Foundation

    Pros

    Room for growth and progression, great co-workers

    Cons

    Management are a closed coup, and disconnected from the community.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 3 people found this helpful

    Great work with people who are striving for the mission.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    The foundation respects and appreciates every member of the staff, every manager I've worked with has listened and responded to feedback and almost every member of staff is trying their best to do what is best for the mission.

    Cons

    We are still growing, the organization is in flux and not completely sure what direction it wants to go in yet. The massive influx of new staff has led to a lot of people who want to do what is best but have no understanding of the culture of the movement and the community and do not understand the desire for careful progress.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

Wikimedia Foundation Photos

Wikimedia Foundation offices, CC BY SA Victor Grigas
Wikimedia Foundation lobby, CC BY SA Victor Grigas
Wikimedia Foundation Wikipedia blackout, CC BY SA Gayle Young

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