Wikimedia Foundation Reviews | Glassdoor

Wikimedia Foundation Reviews

Updated July 6, 2017
61 reviews

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3.8
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Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Katherine Maher
Katherine Maher
18 Ratings

61 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Some of the perks of a tech company with the mission and values of a non-profit (in 11 reviews)

  • Place that promotes work-life balance (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • You'd find ex-senior-level employees securing entry to mid-level positions elsewhere (in 3 reviews)

  • Given the importance of and passion behind Wikipedia, moving things forward can mean dealing with more friction than other places (in 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Mission and Caring"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Wikimedia Foundation full-time

    Pros

    Staff are united in sharing free knowledge, fierce in its protection. Staff also care about each other, and are encouraged by management to make be part of any changes.

    Cons

    The shared mission drive can make discussions intense, with lots of opinions that sometimes boil over.

    Wikimedia Foundation Response

    May 18, 2017 – Talent and Culture

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. We're so happy to see that you recommend Wikimedia Foundation as a place to work! We are fortunate to have extremely talented & passionate staff that... More


  2. Helpful (1)

    "A great mission, egregiously managed"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Product in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Product in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Great mission: desire to bring "all the world's knowledge to all the world's people."
    - Passionate employees
    - World travel
    - Ability to work remotely at will
    - Coworkers from around the world to learn from
    - Autonomy

    Cons

    - Democratic to the point that decisionmaking is extremely difficult, slowing down product development
    - Tech (MediaWiki software) is very old-fashioned and inaccessible to would-be volunteers
    - Non-inclusive; if you haven't worked here since the beginning and/or do not have an aggressive personality type, no one will listen to you or take you seriously
    - Management thinks they understand sexism and diversity but make classic sexist and non-inclusive mistakes in hiring practices, promotions, and conflict resolution.
    - Criteria for advancement is not clear and varies vastly from department to department based on that team's management's attention to it. Some people are promoted every year with no previous experience, while others don't even qualify for promotion for several years, even with extensive previous experience in their field.
    - Re-orgs and inner turmoil abound. A lot of energy is spent trying to organize itself, its priorities, it's strategy, etc.
    - Many people in management have never managed before, and it shows. However, they are largely protected, even if they cost the org donors great amounts of money because of their inability to steward those funds and other resources properly
    - Underperformers and people who do not complete projects or show up aren't held accountable
    - If you mention any issues you are marked, and dismissed, unless you are in management or have other status in the movement

    Advice to Management

    Listen to the people low on the totem pole. Give people decision-making power. Make Wikipedia more accessible.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Terrible environment"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Community Advocate and Volunteer Editor in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Community Advocate and Volunteer Editor in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Wikimedia Foundation full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has a lot of potential to do a lot of great work in the World. The mission of sharing information, throughout the world is a lofty and noble goal.

    Cons

    The work atmosphere is terrible. People are mean to each other especially on the volunteer side. No one trusts each other and everyone is always trying to be politically correct at the cost of editors and staff.

    Advice to Management

    You need to pick a side and work towards the goal of building the projects. You spend too much time talking to investors and pandering to those who aren't doing any of the building while completely ignoring the communities or doing exactly the opposite of what the community wants.

    Wikimedia Foundation Response

    May 5, 2017 – Talent and Culture

    So sorry to hear about your experience. Was this as a volunteer in the community or an employee? We are addressing civility in the community with new tools for editors, and employee satisfaction is... More


  4. Helpful (2)

    "Wonders of improved management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The mission and the people are equally powerful, compelling, life-changing, and world-changing. You feel good about the work you're doing. The compensation is very decent for a nonprofit. Extremely remote-friendly workplace. Some of the staff are the kindest, brightest folks you'll ever meet (not all, but a worthwhile subset).

    Cons

    Bureaucracy and secrecy creeps in unless regularly checked. Our Board sometimes wants us to be a venture-style tech company rather than a knowledge-empowerment nonprofit. Community consultation adds a layer of complexity to every new venture (but its worth it!).

    Advice to Management

    Whatever Katherine is doing, stick with it! If she's not the new ED, find someone like her -- honest, open, clear, collaborative, unpretentious, deeply mission-driven. The next step for reform is not the C-level, but the Board. We need a full governance review and audit of the last year's catastrophic failure.

    Wikimedia Foundation Response

    Jun 20, 2016 – Recruiting Coordinator

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! We are fortunate enough to work for incredible mission which attracts extremely talented people to work with us. We appreciate your feedback on our... More


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Great Place to Work & Grow!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Meaningful work that impacts millions of people every single day! Great supportive culture that ensures every voice matters. WMF provides an opportunity to grow and work on projects you are passionate about. Place that promotes work-life balance!

    Cons

    Politics! Politics! Politics! Performance review process outdated.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to build strong relationships with your communities. Focus on managing non-performers.

    Wikimedia Foundation Response

    Jun 16, 2016 – Recruiting Coordinator

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Our Talent & Culture team is constantly expanding on our work-life balance policies and practices. We truly believe that work-life balance leads to... More


  6. Helpful (1)

    "WMF is back on its feet"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    After a very rough patch, WMF seems to once again be a great place to work. Huge credit to the the interim E.D. Katherine Maher and other leaders in the organization for fixing things so quickly.

    Cons

    The board made a terrible E.D. hiring decision two years ago and was slow to correct their mistake. They finally did though and the organization is back on track.

    Advice to Management

    Hire a great permanent Executive Director.

    Wikimedia Foundation Response

    May 13, 2016 – Recruiting Coordinator

    Thank you for sharing your experience! You are right in that we have been through a rough patch over the last few months, however we are continuously working to make improvements to staff morale as... More


  7. Helpful (5)

    "Great Organization, Growing Pains"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Amazing Mission, Talented, Smart People, Flexible Work, Passionate Volunteer Community. Great SF location and opportunity to learn and contribute in meaningful ways

    Cons

    Tolerance of non performers, Hostile behaviors by some staff threaten continued diversity/innovation.

    Advice to Management

    Create a code of basic professionalisn and communications ; Align Executive Team; Manage out non performers and those who are creating a toxic and negative workplace.

    Wikimedia Foundation Response

    May 13, 2016 – Recruiting Coordinator

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! We are constantly strive to tailor our benefits to our staffs’ needs. At the foundation everyone's voice counts, and this leads to a high level of... More

  8. Helpful (6)

    "Highly toxic, fear driven environment, very political"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Senior Manager in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Wikimedia Foundation (More than a year)

    Pros

    The mission is what brings employees in. The constant drama, secrecy and political feuds amongst senior execs is what pushes people away.

    Cons

    This is an organization in crisis. It is highly dysfunctional, there is a strong culture of secrecy, which is surprising for an organization working in open knowledge. Teams are siloed and isolated, C-levels disagree on direction, ED has lost the support needed to do her job, BoT is in a freeze and too weak to drive change. It is a toxic and depressing place to work.

    Advice to Management

    WMF: Maybe it is time to consider a federated model and bring in the power of Chapters and users groups across the globe.


  9. Helpful (3)

    "IT Desk Help"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - IT Help Desk in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - IT Help Desk in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    IT team has the greatest support system as well as leadership. The culture is very friendly and inviting.

    Cons

    A lot of people are upset with not feeling included in major decisions that affects the entire company.

    Advice to Management

    Listen more to the people who work for the foundation. Happy workers = great product and more time they would like to spend on their work.


  10. Helpful (20)

    "It changed me"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    For context, I work in product teams where my team members consist of mostly engineers, product managers and designers. We're a pretty small team. Everyone knows everyone.

    1- I really, really love that it's located in SF.

    2- The most awesome feeling in the first few months—the thought of working for such a great cause and mission and you're surrounded by great people

    3- I get to work from home or anywhere in the world for a week or a bit more. It's a pretty flexible environment. I can start and end work at my own time. However, to be fair, I also work most weekends and weeknights.

    4- The interview process is pretty easy which I later found out why.

    5- You can get away with being liked and not doing much work.

    6- You can be perceived as a great leader by talking over co-workers, being loud without saying anything of value or simply just being _not_ a lady. You might even get to secure a pretty sweet leadership position if you happen to be relatively closer to management. Do anything to get on favorite list and don't mind the bodies under your shoes.

    7- We have tons of C-level positions to fill, only two out of six want to work here. Experience not really necessary.

    8- There are a lot of challenges that are very interesting to work with, but to get it done is a completely different question. The political climate is stormy to put it very lightly.

    Cons

    1- I get paid more than 20% less than market value.

    2- A lot of favoritism.

    3- Unfortunately, there is not much career growth at the foundation. Ideally, you already have all the solid skills so you can advise on how things would work better at the foundation. However, good luck with dealing with a lot of insecurities. A lot of employees were hired out of school from the community. It's their first jobs and haven't had any prior working experience with people.

    4- We hardly ever promote someone to a more senior position, we usually hire them from other companies because you cannot get much skill growth here.

    5- Favoritism.

    6- Most management have no prior management experience. They become management material because they could be loud, male, white or all of the above. So management is a bit tricky, you'll be riding their first big bumps with them. They struggle a lot and very painful to watch. Even more painful for your career. Ask difficult questions about their management experience at your interviews and how they would support you. You will find that it's a whole new concept to them—supporting someone else other than their own motives. You won't find a career path, only the path to successfully fulfil their motives.

    7- The foundation has its own employee standards. Most people are a level down of their title. You'd find ex-senior-level employees securing entry to mid-level positions elsewhere. Most of the time, these titles don't mean much. But titles are huge in the foundation.

    8- On the other hand, you will find some people who are given work that is above their pay grade to keep someone else's title. Unfortunately there is no recognition for these folks, it goes to someone else.

    9- There has been a significant amount of drain of great talent because of how the toxic the working environment has become and how unfulfilling it quickly becomes.

    10- I find that my work is a lot of catching up with what the world has already been doing 5-10 years ago. Fighting for these changes to happen take your weekends, sanity, and consume your life. A lot of my peers who I respect and trust are working very hard to regain their health, take care of themselves, and disconnect from work after 5pm. These have been very real and hard challenges.

    11- Anyone is free to take over anyone's work. You also cannot be upset at these situations, you shouldn't be, it's an open-source project. Being upset is frowned upon when this happens.

    12- I see talents joining the foundation being quite aware of these problems with extremely optimistic outlook to impact how things work. Unfortunately I was one of them and I'm still here, more than 2 years later thinking that things can still work out and that I can still get something out of being here to move on with my career. It's a very common theme, "I'll finish this project and I'll feel better about leaving." Unfortunately most of them fled before they finish their projects because change is extremely hard and it takes a very long time.

    13- The bads heavily outweigh the goods. The goods like great benefits are there because.. trust me, you need it. Very little great talents left and a lot of them are already planning their ways out.

    14- I've seen how working at the foundation has affected my life, me as a person, my partner and family in a toxic and negative way. Once you work here, it's hard to get out. You love the mission and the feeling of working towards a great cause, but you're crippled by optimism and the culture degrades you slowly. This has not been a fair trade of my time, skills and pay cut. I've said that I was optimistic but realistic. I am proud to call myself out on that BS now.

    15- From an extremely optimistic employee to a bad review giver, I am not proud of what I have become. This is no greener pasture. I haven't had more regrets in my previous evil corporate jobs. Perhaps one day I'll find the courage to just chalk this up as wrong career move.

    Advice to Management

    Travel less and find a focus area and direction that you can commit to for at least a couple of months would be a great job done. Bare in mind, this is an extremely low bar and the most necessary area to have every employee to feel a connection to what they are working on to the bigger goal.


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