Wikimedia Research/Candidate FAQ

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This FAQ is intended to provide greater context for what it means to be a Research Scientist with the Research team. It is specifically aimed at this job posting: https://boards.greenhouse.io/wikimedia/jobs/1579275

Is it a full time position?[edit]

Yes! This is a full-time staff position with the Wikimedia Foundation.

Is it really a remote position?[edit]

Yes! At the time of hiring, the Research team is a fully remote team. Our team members currently work from the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United States.

How many times in the year will I be required to travel?[edit]

As an employee of Wikimedia Foundation, you are required (except under exceptional circumstances) to travel to San Francisco once a year during Wikimedia Foundation’s All-Hands meeting which usually takes place in January of every year. During the All-Hands week, all employees travel to San Francisco and spend one week together. This is an essential part of building stronger relationships with the colleagues who work from across the globe. Besides the All-Hands meeting, you will be asked to travel once a year for Research team’s offsite (the location is different every year). This is your chance to meet with the full research team in person. You should also expect 1-2 times (or sometimes more) trips for conferences and events: to present your work to the research and Wikimedia communities, to organize workshops, etc.

How is the interview process?[edit]

All interviews will be done remotely and using Google Meet. The exact steps and sequence of steps may differ from one interview to the next, however, we generally ask the candidates for the following interviews:

  • Recruiter screening
  • Technical Interview I
  • Hiring Manager Interview
  • Technical Interview II
  • Presentation by the candidate
  • Interview with the Analytics team

Can you tell me more about the efficiency of doing research in a remote team?[edit]

There are not many organizations that you can do remote research work in and we get this question quite often. :) Here are a few ways we think about this question:

  • As you further develop yourself as a researcher in the Foundation, you will more and more connect to the local communities of Wiki(m|p)edia editors, developers, organizers, chapters, etc. Given that Wikipedia is a global project, the people that you will need to get in touch with are spread globally. For us as a team, it is desirable to have people in different timezones and locations in the world because that can allow us to more effectively connect to the highly distributed network of volunteers. Having everyone in one location is definitely not conducive for the work we do.
  • Working in isolation is a concern for many researchers. Here are a few ways we make out team’s work as collaborative as possible through:
    • You can build formal collaborations with academia and industry to work together on the research questions we work on in the Research team. Usually, our research scientists choose these people from institutions that are closer to them geographically, which allows them to have in-person research activity as well.
    • We are a highly connected team. We often discuss things through channels like IRC (#wikimedia-research channel on freenode), virtual video calls, email, and wiki pages. These different media allow us to stay connected with each other and move our work forward across timezones.
    • Related to the above: as a team, we have regular touch-points Monday - Wednesday for 30-min to 75-min.
    • We see each other in conferences and other events. Twice a year, we meet as a full team for an offsite and the All-Hands meeting of Wikimedia Foundation. The rest of the year, subsets of the team come together depending on which conferences/events we go to.
  • And as always, there are trade-offs. You will lose some efficiency by not being in one place with the rest of the researchers (though some of it is unavoidable anyway as the volunteer base is global and across timezones) but you gain flexibility in terms of the places you work from. The fact that we can freely travel in the world with our laptops and an internet connection and keep our job and do our work is something we all appreciate.

How are projects created and run?[edit]

The research team decides on a set of annual goals and areas of focus, based on a range of criteria: long term strategic priorities, emerging opportunities for responding to the needs of Wikimedia editor, developer, and organizer communities, the needs of teams within Wikimedia Foundation and/or external researchers, and the interests and strengths of the individual team members.

How closely does Research work with other teams?[edit]

This depends on the project. While all research is with an eye towards supporting the Wikimedia Foundation, the projects range from more product-focused (e.g., section recommendation, image recommendation) where we will work more closely with engineering or product teams to more focused on improving our basic understanding (e.g., reader needs, citation usage) or informing policy or strategy (e.g., ethical AI).

How do external collaborations work?[edit]

See our formal collaborations.