Re: [Wikimedia-l] Farewell, Erik!

2019-02-07 Thread Michael Snow

On 2/7/2019 7:41 PM, Erik Moeller wrote:

Thank you, Erik, for helping Wikimedia to know itself! I've always
appreciated the incredibly rich detail in your reports, your
willingness to unpack the awesome complexity of the wiki-verse, and
your insistence that this knowledge should be as free and open as the
Wikimedia projects are. I've learned a ton from you, and I am looking
forward to reading more about your new adventures as a volunteer. :)


Indeed, one of the great insights that Erik's work embodies for me is 
that providing a framework for approaching knowledge (about the 
movement, or about anything) is essential to making it truly free. Raw 
data with no context is free as the air, but lungs are required to 
breathe. Thank you, Erik, for helping us appreciate how the wiki 
breathes by showing its patterns and rhythms.


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Status of Wikipedia Zero

2018-06-30 Thread Michael Snow

On 6/30/2018 11:11 AM, Lucas Teles wrote:

I was also looking for information on the expiration date for partnerships,
which is when the users will notice the access issues. Not sure if there is
any.
I would guess that partnerships are not being terminated early, but 
merely being allowed to expire whenever they expire. As the end date 
will depend on the agreement that formed the partnership, I expect there 
is not a single universal date on which Wikipedia Zero ends.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia Social: non-profit social networking service ?

2018-04-10 Thread Michael Snow

On 4/9/2018 11:14 PM, Leinonen Teemu wrote:

On 10 Apr 2018, at 7.02, Erik Moeller <eloque...@gmail.com> wrote:
Wikimedia projects are social networks, but they are purpose-driven
social networks [1] where participants are more strongly connected
through their overlapping interests than through pre-existing social
connections.

I agree. I however, see that if the movement is interested in to be _the_ 
ecosystem of free knowledge, a social media where the overlapping interest is 
actually the free knowledge itself and not some area of knowledge is not a bad 
idea.
I am wary of the idea that we would have interest in being _the_ 
ecosystem of free knowledge, certainly if as this implies, that's 
ecosystem of free knowledge in the singular. I believe we want to be a 
part of such an ecosystem, but hopefully a very diverse ecosystem, as is 
necessary to its success. We should be cautious not to monopolize it, 
intentionally or inadvertently. The undesirable byproducts of 
corporate-driven social media illustrate many of the perils all too well.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Paid translation

2018-02-24 Thread Michael Snow

On 2/24/2018 1:53 PM, John Erling Blad wrote:

The source article should meet certain standards, but do not fall in the
trap where the translated articles must themselves be better than some
imagined standard. That would lead to a defunc process.
I'm not saying a translated article must be flawless. But certainly if 
we were paying for translations, it would be appropriate to have some 
level of expectations for the quality of the result. With volunteers, 
any honest effort is encouraged, although if the quality is low enough 
to be worse than the alternative, they can be encouraged to redirect 
that effort more productively.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Paid translation

2018-02-24 Thread Michael Snow
I think the experience I've had with translating matches up well with 
the conclusions James has outlined. Even though I'm more likely to 
translate content into English rather than out of English, the 
principles still hold.


Trying to produce a translation without quality content in the original 
article is a frustrating and pointless exercise for the translator. 
Unless the original meets certain standards, it would be better and 
easier to write the article from scratch in the "destination" language 
and translate it back to the "source" language.


Assuming we have a good article in the original language, I definitely 
encourage translators to use editorial judgment in what they carry over. 
Focusing on the lead section is one possible approach. In general, 
because we are trying to translate information and not literature, we 
should have different priorities. It is more important that the 
translation maintain fidelity to the facts than to the language and 
structure of the article. Sometimes it makes sense to pass over certain 
details, even a beginning-to-end translation might come out a bit 
condensed. As one reason for this, making some details accessible to the 
cultural audience in the new language can at times require a fair amount 
of elaboration, more than may be ideal for the context under discussion. 
The best approach to use is one of adaptation as much as translation.


I don't have strong feelings about whether a paid model will work, or 
work better than purely volunteer activity, but I would be open to 
seeing a trial. The essential thing is that we find translators who can 
understand and apply standards of quality in their work, much like we 
would expect if they were editors writing entirely new articles.


--Michael Snow

On 2/24/2018 5:26 AM, James Heilman wrote:

We learned a few things during the medical translation project which
started back in 2011:

1) You must start with high quality content and thus all articles are
extensively improved before being proposed for translation.

2) A lot of languages want "less" content than is present on EN WP. Thus we
moved to just improving and suggesting for translation the leads of the
English articles.

3) The "Content Translation" tool developed by the WMF made efforts more
efficient than handing around word documents. Would love to see that tool
improved further such as having it support specific lists of articles that
are deemed ready for translation by certain groups. Would also love the
tool to have tracking metrics for these types of projects.

4) We used volunteer translators mostly associated with our partner
Translators Without Borders. One issue we found was that languages in which
their are lots of translators such as French, Spanish, and Italian there is
often already at least some content on many of the topics in question. The
issue than becomes integration which needs an expert Wikipedia. And for
languages in which we have little content there are often few avaliable
volunteers.

5) With respect to "paying per word" the problem is this would require
significant checks and balances to make sure people are taking the work
seriously and not simple using Google translate for the 70 or so languages
in which it claims to work. We often had translations undergo a second
review and the volunteers at TWB have to pass certain tests to be accepted.

6) I hired a coordinator for the translation project for a couple of years.
The translators at TWB did not want to become Wikipedians or learn how to
use our systems. The coordinator created account like TransSW001 (one for
each volunteer) and preloaded the article to be translated into Content
Translation. They than gave the volunteer translator the user name and
password to the account.

7) Were are we at now? There are currently just over 1,000 leads of
articles that have been improved and are ready for translation. This
includes articles on the 440 medications that are on the WHO Essential
List. We have worked a bit in some 100 languages. The efforts have resulted
in more than 5 million works translated and integrated into different
Wikipedias. The coordinator has unfortunately moved on to his real job of
teaching high school students.

8) The project continues but at a slower pace than before. The Wikipedian
and retired orthopedic surgeon Subas Chandra Rout has basically single
handedly translated nearly all 1,000 leads into Odia a language spoken by
40 million people in Eastern India. The amazing thing is that for many of
these topics this is the first and only information online about it. Google
translate does not even claim to work in this language. Our partnerships
with WMTW and medical school in Taipai continue to translate into Chinese.
There the students translate and than their translations are reviewed by
their profs before being posted. They translate in groups using hackpad to
make it more social.

I am currently work

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Emerging Communities: a proposed new definition

2017-09-27 Thread Michael Snow

On 9/27/2017 1:39 PM, Ariel Glenn WMF wrote:

Would a name like "emerging knowledge communities" be clearer?  Yes, you'd
think that in the context of Wikipedia and related projects, the word
'knowledge' would be a given, but perhaps it isn't?
Yes, let's keep brainstorming about this. No, I'm afraid this 
combination is problematic, but thank you for the idea.


Specifically, the issue is that in this formulation, "knowledge" works 
to modify "communities", but now "emerging" appears to modify 
"knowledge" instead, and that doesn't work. The potential implication 
that knowledge is only just emerging in these communities could appear 
condescending, much like the terminology we're trying to get away from. 
I'd argue that we operate on the assumption that as our communities 
grow, they already have a great deal of knowledge, it's a matter of 
sharing and making it accessible to all.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Mailing lists (was Encyclopedic Writing Guide)

2017-09-26 Thread Michael Snow

On 9/26/2017 7:57 AM, Jean-Philippe Béland wrote:

Alors nous induisons les lecteurs/trices en erreur avec des pages comme
celle-ci :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Mailing_lists#Public_mailing_lists

JP

Oui, c'est bien possible qu'on a des informations dépassé.

--Michel Neige

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Mailing lists (was Encyclopedic Writing Guide)

2017-09-26 Thread Michael Snow

On 9/26/2017 8:22 AM, Samuel Klein wrote:

in the same way that say, Wikiversity languishing while Wikidata flourishes
should tell us something about the optimum number of projects we can
support.


Did we figure out this is zero-sum? Because there are some peach projects
I'd like to replace Wikiquote & Wookiepedia with.
Perhaps I shouldn't have simplified it to "number" with the implication 
that there's some magic figure, whether that's 42 or 150 or 65536. But 
as with the mailing lists, sometimes it is hard to be sure that each 
project has the appropriate scope when the boundaries are fluid. How and 
where the community focuses its attention can be a powerful signal about 
whether the scope corresponds to a widely felt need.


--Michael Snow

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[Wikimedia-l] Mailing lists (was Encyclopedic Writing Guide)

2017-09-26 Thread Michael Snow

On 9/26/2017 6:34 AM, Jean-Philippe Béland wrote:

So what is Wikipedia-l
<https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikipedia-l> for? It is
describe "for issues specific to Wikipedia (and not sister projects such as
Wiktionary) but affecting editions of Wikipedia in more than one language".
Exactly what you are talking about "content about Wikipedia,
*particularly* when not specific to any one language"...
In terms of the original design, you are correct that wikipedia-l was 
intended for this. However, if I may attempt to restate Asaf's point, 
that list has no meaningful activity, and it is counterproductive to 
insist that people use it when this list can serve the purpose. 
Initiating a productive conversation on this list is already work 
enough, we should not multiply the effort needed by requiring that 
someone also revive a comatose mailing list.


That being said, if someone else wanted to take on the second task 
(reviving wikipedia-l) and forwarded this message there, or started a 
parallel conversation, I don't think that would be particularly 
problematic. But as this situation indicates, there is a challenge 
involved in determining how to use our multiplicity of lists with 
adjacent and potentially overlapping topic areas. I suspect the activity 
patterns into which we have drifted should tell us something about the 
optimum configuration of lists and topics, in the same way that say, 
Wikiversity languishing while Wikidata flourishes should tell us 
something about the optimum number of projects we can support.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikitribune!

2017-04-26 Thread Michael Snow

On 4/25/2017 10:30 PM, Pine W wrote:

On the subject of Jimbo being exempt from term limits, my belief is that
Jimbo's seat should become a standard community-chosen seat, and no one
should be exempt from term limits. I am particularly mindful of the
governance problems that have happened while Jimbo has been on the WMF
Board, and WMF's refusal to have an external inquiry into those problems by
a third party who would make a public report. I am also mindful of WMF's
clashes with the community (such as SuperProtect) that have happened while
Jimbo has been on the WMF Board. Given the totality of the circumstances, I
believe that Jimbo's seat should become a standard community-chosen seat so
that the community has a chance to express its level of confidence in
whether Jimbo should remain on the WMF Board.
People are certainly entitled to form their own opinions about Jimmy's 
ongoing role, including how or whether it should be continued. But 
simply alluding to issues that have happened while he has been on the 
Board of Trustees says very little. Jimmy has been on the Board from the 
beginning, so of course everything that has happened, good and bad, 
happened while he was on the Board. Unless there's something about his 
personal conduct or how he has used his position that uniquely 
contributes to particular problems, this sounds more like advocating 
change for the sake of change, not an actual solution to anything.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 35 year copyright termination

2017-02-27 Thread Michael Snow

On 2/27/2017 9:24 PM, James Salsman wrote:

... provide a little more context for this thread

Beginning in 2036, Wikipedia editors will obtain the right to demand
either payment for their contributions, or in the alternative if the
Foundation can't replace their edits with non-infringing
substitutions, between $750 and $150,000 per edit.
I suppose editors always have the right to demand payment for their 
contributions if that's what they really want. But as to the idea that 
they could further threaten to get statutory damages imposed, I'd advise 
that rather than relying on selective quotations from 17 USC 203, they 
at least review the entire section. I note that it also provides a 
limitation on the effect of termination, specifically that derivative 
works prepared before termination may continue to be utilized.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcing the Foundation's challenge to recent U.S. immigration executive order

2017-02-06 Thread Michael Snow

On 2/6/2017 2:01 PM, Yair Rand wrote:

I would still like confirmation of whether it was in fact an urgent
situation, however.
The legal posture of the case (temporary restraining order issued prior 
to hearing on a preliminary injunction) makes it urgent. In order to 
participate meaningfully in the case at this point, it was necessary to 
join the brief now. If you've been following events, we're talking about 
a ruling that was issued within a week after the executive order came 
out, which is incredibly swift action for the courts. It's my 
understanding that the appeal could be decided this week, potentially as 
early as Tuesday.


This is not a trial where the parties might take months gathering their 
evidence before presenting it to the judge and/or jury. Given that the 
circumstances can involve people detained at airport customs who might 
be involuntarily put on a plane back to their point of origin at any 
moment, the legal system's urgency is appropriate to the situation.


As an aside, people focused more on the general policy issues as opposed 
to the facts of particular cases may wonder what makes it urgent (for 
Wikimedia) when we're talking about decisions that are "temporary" or 
"preliminary" in nature. But as those experienced in this area know, 
despite such designations these rulings have a powerful tendency to 
create facts on the ground in a way that they can easily end up 
determining the final outcome as well.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] With my thanks to everyone ...

2016-07-14 Thread Michael Snow

On 7/13/2016 3:04 PM, Kat Walsh wrote:

Geoff,

Your insight and
guidance, your legal experience, your leadership, and your dedication
to the people and the principles of the movement have all been
invaluable. And your commitment to building the organization and the
people in it means you leave the legal department in good hands;
congratulations to Michelle and Stephen on their new roles.
Kat and I are used to echoing each other, so I'll reiterate the above in 
particular. I think this transition illustrates one of the hallmarks of 
successful leadership, in preparing others to fill his responsibilities 
capably in his absence. As a person Geoff is irreplaceable, and like 
others I owe him a lot personally. But in his role in the organization, 
he does have to be replaced, and I am glad we have such good 
replacements on hand. Fortunately, there is no need to replace Geoff the 
person, because he will still be himself. That should serve him equally 
well in his new position, and he has my best wishes for all his future 
endeavors.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement clauses

2016-03-14 Thread Michael Snow

On 3/14/2016 9:14 AM, Pine W wrote:

Um. Luis, if you were offered a severance agreement that included a
financial payment from WMF, that would be... very interesting. And
potentially very problematic.
Or it could be a relatively routine business practice. For example, in 
many cases an employer is not required to pay out accumulated leave when 
an employee departs, but may well offer to do so in connection with a 
severance agreement. And it would not be surprising for a 
non-disparagement clause to be requested in that context. Other 
possibilities include facilitating the ex-employee's retaining some 
employer-provided benefits (health insurance, retirement accounts, etc.) 
or arranging a transition of those benefits until the person has found a 
new position.


Since I gather Luis didn't sign the agreement, he may be at liberty to 
share whether the offer included a financial element, and if there was 
anything that would warrant concerns aside from the non-disparagement 
clause. At the same time, it is for him a personal matter, I don't think 
he should be pressured to disclose details he considers private. Since I 
trust Luis's judgment without hesitation, I am happy to leave it to his 
discretion what he does and doesn't want to reveal.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] My posts going to spam

2016-02-29 Thread Michael Snow

On 2/29/2016 5:37 AM, Jimmy Wales wrote:

I'm switching to this email address for posting, because apparently
there is some kind of weird problem between yahoo and google such that
gmail users see all or most of my messages in their SPAM folder.
It's not just Google either. My provider uses Yahoo's service for email, 
and yet Jimmy's messages to the list, and as best I can tell only 
Jimmy's from the ymail account, appear to get bounced and never even 
reach my spam folder, let alone my inbox.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Changes in the Board

2016-01-27 Thread Michael Snow

On 1/27/2016 1:44 PM, Kat Walsh wrote:

Thank you, Patricio.

And thank you, Arnnon. I am sure this must have been difficult for
you, that you had every intention of bringing your best work to the
role, and that your considerable experience and skills would have been
valuable. I appreciate your willingness to step up to the task, which
is not a small thing to ask of anyone, and now in light of the
challenges and complications it would bring, your willingness to step
down.

-Kat
If Kat can echo me, then I can echo Kat. Thank you to the Board, and 
Arnnon in particular.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Message from Arnnon Geshuri to the Wikimedia Community

2016-01-26 Thread Michael Snow

Hello Arnnon,

It is good to hear something directly from you. I am sure your 
intentions in the position you were appointed to are positive and 
supportive. Yet while you may be entirely sincere in your desire to 
help, I find it extremely difficult to see a path forward in which your 
contribution will bring the benefits that may have been contemplated.


Your statement here carries very much the right tone, but is 
unfortunately rather lacking in substance. About the events in your 
career that have been the focus of so much concern, you suggest that 
there have been misconceptions and mitigating considerations, but say 
nothing about what those misconceptions or mitigating considerations 
might be. I fully understand that for both legal and ethical reasons, 
you may not feel free to elaborate, and I do not ask that you violate 
any such obligations. However, the inability to provide more information 
is itself a major handicap for the role you are in. In fact, a 
requirement of silence becomes doubly destructive because it both 
provides more fuel for conspiracy theories and denies the Wikimedia 
Foundation the tools to respond effectively.


I suspect that many of the possible mitigating factors have already been 
touched on by others - from the limited picture we have of the 
recruiting practices in question, it is not completely clear what level 
of responsibility should be assigned to you, whether you could 
reasonably have done otherwise in your position, or to what extent you 
should have understood their legal implications. Nor do I believe that 
one mistake (you do not say it was a mistake, and presumably again you 
are not in a position to admit that, whether or not you might wish to) 
should necessarily disqualify anybody from the Board. However, as Asaf 
so eloquently explained on this list a couple weeks ago - which I hope 
you saw, if you've been following the conversation as you say - it's 
nearly impossible to get people to leave things fully in the past 
without an acknowledgment of the mistake. I understand you want to earn 
the trust of the community. But if you cannot do what is needed for this 
trust to develop, then you simply will never be able to earn it from 
many people. This is another way in which silence becomes disabling. You 
might manage for people to move on enough that you can function in your 
role, but the issue will continue to hang over everything you do.


The Board has indicated that you were appointed for your expertise in 
human resources. I agree that your career includes some impressive 
experience and you would be a highly qualified candidate in that sense. 
I can also appreciate why the Board might have felt a need for your kind 
of expertise. While the Foundation was at a somewhat different point 
during my tenure, it has faced a variety of challenges in this area, and 
these types of issues were prominent in my thinking about the 
organization, both as Chair and afterward. But under the circumstances, 
I struggle to see how your appointment would lead to a net benefit for 
the Foundation. Your skills and contacts might bring something that is 
lacking, but the problematic pieces of your background also reflect 
directly on the same area. Considerations such as staff morale have 
fluctuated over time, but I cannot imagine how having someone associated 
with these practices on the Board would be anything but a negative 
influence on it. Whether they would acknowledge it to you, the rest of 
the Board, their managers, or anyone at all really, I think this is an 
extremely serious problem. It seems like it would take an incredible 
amount of good work from you to overcome the damage your mere presence 
on the Board is likely to cause.


I do hope you can translate your passion for this movement into some 
sort of positive contribution. Assuming you cannot speak directly to 
your personal history in a way that will satisfy people, I hope you will 
at least try to explain more clearly what you anticipate bringing to the 
table. In the context of this particular appointment, however, it is a 
heavy weight you would need to counterbalance, and there may be other 
and better ways of approaching this.


--Michael Snow

On 1/26/2016 11:07 AM, Arnnon Geshuri wrote:

It has been almost three weeks since my appointment to the Wikimedia
Foundation Board and I have read the feedback and comments from
representative members of the community.  My first reaction was how amazing
the community is in its vibrant culture – there is direct and honest
dialog, celebration of diverse ideas, debate and counterpoints, and an
overall genuine passion to ensure that the WMF sustains itself for another
fifteen years and beyond.   Witnessing firsthand the commitment and energy
of the community is truly inspirational.  Although I would have preferred
the tone surrounding my appointment to be more positive and supportive, I
deeply understand and respect the criticality of free expression

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Knight Foundation grant for search and discovery

2016-01-08 Thread Michael Snow

On 1/8/2016 2:01 PM, K. Peachey wrote:

On 7 January 2016 at 22:45, Andreas Kolbe <jayen...@gmail.com> wrote:


...

I am also struck by the fact that the grant is really a very paltry one,
compared to the resources the Foundation is investing in this. The
MediaWiki page on Discovery[2] lists sixteen people working on this.
$250,000 would hardly begin to cover their salaries.

In fact, Risker said as long ago as May last year,[3]
...

I'm not sure what the standard is for grant applications is in the US, but
I know locally that is it is extremely rare that allow the funding to be
used to pay for salaries and the likes, Although the grant applications I
used to have common knowledge were designed to have a physical end goal as
per the agreement (example: Replace kitchen cabinets in a Scout den)
compared to what will be software changes.
While it depends on the purpose of the grant, for the deliverables 
identified in the original post it seems clear that the most natural 
costs to pay would be salaries in software engineering, broadly 
speaking. As to the comment about how the grant amount aligns with the 
size and salary cost of this particular team - in the grantmaking world, 
it is entirely normal to make awards that pay for only fractions of 
people's salaries. Let's say you pay for 5% of X's salary and 10% of Y's 
salary, and as part of the agreement those people are then expected to 
spend the corresponding percentage of their time dedicated to working on 
the grant project. I'm sure that the Discovery team has more things to 
work on than just this one project, but the reason the Foundation would 
accept this grant is presumably that it overlaps enough with what the 
organization wants to do anyway.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement

2015-08-31 Thread Michael Snow

On 8/31/2015 12:06 PM, Luis Villa wrote:

While Philippe will be impossible to completely replace, I am excited to
share that Maggie Dennis [[User:Mdennis (WMF)]] has been promoted to
Director of Community Advocacy, effective immediately. I expect Maggie’s
amazing combination of energy, patience, and organization will make her a
great leader for the team, and that the team will continue to be a solid
source of support and communication with contributors.
There are few things that could more perfectly illustrate what Philippe 
means to the movement than asking Maggie to fill his position. Both are 
among the finest people I have had the chance to observe, work with, and 
learn from in their many years of involvement with Wikimedia. Each of 
them has seemed to me almost ubiquitous at times; and while I know the 
potential to spread oneself a little thin in doing so, they both have an 
unfailingly supportive presence and a tremendously deep understanding of 
our values. I offer them each my best wishes in their respective 
futures, both where this touches Wikimedia and where it does not.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A transition and a new chapter.

2015-04-14 Thread Michael Snow

On 4/13/2015 6:10 PM, phoebe ayers wrote:

Dear Erik,

On Mon, Apr 13, 2015 at 11:12 AM, Erik Moeller e...@wikimedia.org wrote:

Hi all --

As Lila noted, since January 2008 I've worn many hats at the Wikimedia
Foundation, and in the six years before that I was a Wikipedian,
MediaWiki developer, and member of the WMF board of trustees. I became
involved in Wikipedia when I was 22 years old. :)

Every so often when we talk, you will surprise me by telling me about
one more thing in the Wikimedia universe that you thought of or
created or were involved in over the past many years that I didn't
realize you had a role in. It seems the list is never-ending.
I would find it difficult to come up with something Wikimedia-related in 
which Erik *was not* somehow involved in one way or another. Though I'm 
sure there must be obscure corners where he hasn't been active directly, 
his energy, commitment, and appreciation of the movement's potential 
make for a pretty pervasive influence. We have all benefited from his 
ideas and his hard work in building what we have achieved up to now.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Please report to Google [was Re: Warning: Wikimedia-l Google Group]

2015-01-10 Thread Michael Snow

On 1/10/2015 8:12 AM, Luis Villa wrote:
I'll pass that on. Also, if anyone has reports of being resubscribed 
after unsubscribing (I've already seen two?) please let me know. Luis 
Resubscribing happened to me both with this list and the list from the 
previous cycle.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why is bank transfer no longer possible?

2014-11-30 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/30/2014 10:19 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) wrote:

Michael Snow, 30/11/2014 01:03:

One avenue for fraud that's facilitated by posting account numbers is
small payment fraud, usually involving stolen credit cards. 
[.]


So what all this message have to do with IBAN?
As the rest of the message discussed, the fraudsters can use the IBAN to 
make a donation in order to test that stolen card information belongs 
to a real credit card.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why is bank transfer no longer possible?

2014-11-30 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/30/2014 1:14 PM, Gerard Meijssen wrote:

Hoi,
An IBAN number is NOT a credit card ... You need a ping number in
combination with some smart card functionality in order to make it work..
The combination generates a number that is always different..
You seem to have misunderstood the scenario I laid out. I'm not talking 
about people using the IBAN to steal money out of a Wikimedia account, I 
depend on the bank to have security robust enough to prevent that. The 
scenario I'm discussing involves people using the IBAN to fraudulently 
pay money to Wikimedia from someone else's account, such as a credit 
card. That account does not necessarily have an IBAN or chip-and-pin 
security, and at any rate whatever security it has was already breached. 
The payment would just be a method for the fraudsters to verify the 
success of the breach. The result would be added costs to Wikimedia and 
to the financial institutions involved, in order to identify and reverse 
the fraudulent transactions.


To respond to some of the other questions raised about my scenario:

This was a risk scenario I presented to answer the question, How can 
posting a bank account number lead to fraud? It may or may not have 
been a factor in the decision to not publicly post the IBAN, I don't know.


I'm also not suggesting that this scenario is unique to IBAN, it could 
affect any type of account number that accepts payments (for example, 
accounts you might have for various utility services, such as water, 
electricity, telephone, or internet). It's also possible thru PayPal, of 
course, and that's the reason for having a $1 minimum donation 
requirement, among other protections. I don't know if there are 
difficulties with establishing comparable security around the IBAN, or 
if it's more a matter of a cost-benefit analysis indicating that it's 
worth the resources to deal with this for donations via Wikimedia's 
online payment form, but not for donations directly to Wikimedia's bank 
account.


Also, I'm no expert on EU regulations, but I do observe that according 
to the European Payments Council, it seems payees receiving SEPA credit 
transfers are advised to communicate the IBAN only where necessary: 
http://www.europeanpaymentscouncil.eu/index.cfm/sepa-credit-transfer/iban-and-bic/ 
(and likewise for payers making direct debit payments). It may simply be 
that the fundraising team has been advised that this is more consistent 
with providing the IBAN upon request, rather than posting it on the 
website. Not to disparage what may be common practice at other 
organizations, but that does seem like a natural conclusion to draw from 
that guidance.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why is bank transfer no longer possible?

2014-11-30 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/30/2014 11:12 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) wrote:
Anyway, please inform the European Central Bank of your findings, I'm 
sure they'll be interested in hearing them. Currently their website 
seems unaware of such fraud possibilities and contains statements such 
as «Sensitive data payment: Data which could be used to carry out 
fraud, excluding the name of the account owner and the account number».
https://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/pdf/other/pubconsultationoutcome201405securitypaymentaccountaccessservicesen.pdf 

I'm not sure why you would conclude they are unaware of a possible form 
for fraud just because they don't specifically identify it on their 
website. At any rate, I suspect you may be misunderstanding the 
definition of sensitive payment data (the actual term from the linked 
document, which was somehow transposed above).


To my reading, that looks like an attempt to create a precise technical 
definition for the purposes of the report, so that whenever the term was 
used it would always mean the same thing. I don't think it's claiming 
that the name of the account owner and the account number are not in the 
larger class of data which could be used to carry out fraud. Rather, 
because these are nearly essential to transactions being possible at 
all, I believe the language is attempting to exclude them from the 
restrictions that the report recommends for all other data which meets 
the definition of sensitive payment data.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why is bank transfer no longer possible?

2014-11-29 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/29/2014 1:05 AM, Lodewijk wrote:

Hi Garfield,

Thanks for the clarification. It's surprising to me that posting a bank
account number could lead to fraud - the bank systems are supposed to be
robust enough for that. I know that all charities in the Netherlands post
this number on their website - maybe it could be worth while to reach out
and see if switching banks might improve the security, if Citibank didn't
fix it themselves? (There is little relevancy of security to 'IBAN' itself
of course, which is merely a bank account number. I'm assuming you're
referring to what people can do using that number to get access in the
bank).
One avenue for fraud that's facilitated by posting account numbers is 
small payment fraud, usually involving stolen credit cards. The basic 
technique is that when people illegally buy credit card numbers in large 
volumes, since they normally don't possess an actual card, they commonly 
test the validity of the card information by making very small online 
payments or donations to a known account. If the transaction goes 
through, they know the card number can be safely used for larger-scale 
fraud. Meanwhile, the small donations will invariably be backed out of 
the system, whether by the fraudsters themselves or by the financial 
institutions cleaning up later when the fraud is detected.


I don't know if that's the specific reason for the decision here, but I 
know the fundraising team has dealt with fraud of this type in the past, 
and there may be other issues as well. Ultimately it may not directly 
threaten the security of our donors or the funds they contribute, but it 
does create costs to the organization when it has to identify and review 
a significant amount of fraudulent activity. Also, in financial circles 
becoming a target for fraud or money laundering, even inadvertently, 
could affect our reputation and the willingness of other organizations 
to work with us.


As for our own difficulties around communications here, I suspect on all 
sides we don't fully appreciate the challenges involved when trying to 
merge financial cultures in a global sense. A system may provide 
relatively open access to credit while treating bank information as 
highly sensitive (as the US mostly does), or it may be more open with 
bank information while being much more restrictive about credit (as some 
European countries do). Each system has its security practices tailored 
to facilitating typical transaction flows within the system. The 
underlying assumptions may not work well across systems and may hinder 
the ability to establish smooth connections between the two sides. I 
certainly don't claim that the American system is necessarily superior, 
but in the past when we've considered in which jurisdiction the 
Wikimedia Foundation should base its operations, I think the financial 
regime has been a secondary consideration, relative to other priorities.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Alex Roshuk / User:Alex756

2014-11-10 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/10/2014 5:36 AM, James Forrester wrote:

I have learnt from Facebook that Alex Roshuk, old-time Wikimedian who
helped set up the Wikimedia Foundation back in the day (including
co-drafting the bylaws), has died.
I am quite saddened to hear this news - in Wikipedia's early years and 
while the Wikimedia Foundation was being created, Alex was a 
tremendously important part of the community. In addition to helping 
draft the original bylaws and providing other legal advice, he deserves 
credit for his part in shaping our culture of high standards for dealing 
with copyrights, licensing obligations, and other legal issues. I'm glad 
that I was able to meet him in person at Wikimania in Boston, when he 
was still a somewhat active participant.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community RfCs about MediaViewer

2014-07-14 Thread Michael Snow

On 7/14/2014 4:43 AM, Andrew Gray wrote:

I've been doing some thinking about this over the past year or so,
bubbling away in the back of my mind, after a talk at last Wikimania -
would there be any interest/usefulness if I sat down and tried to dump
it into a how to run a large project RFC, and what doesn't work page
somewhere?
There certainly would be usefulness, so I hope there would be equivalent 
interest. I'd be interested in seeing it, at any rate.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 24 TB for User:Dispenser on Tool Labs please

2014-07-03 Thread Michael Snow

On 7/3/2014 8:33 PM, James Salsman wrote:

a volunteer who has
single-handedly saved volunteer-centuries of time and then taken a
principled, non-zero sum stand to offer agreement to the FOSS release
requirement on Wikimedia Labs in return for the resources necessary to
build new systems.
If that's an accurate characterization of his position, it sounds like 
he doesn't actually want to be a volunteer, he wants to be compensated. 
While I know nothing of his qualifications, there are certainly openings 
that might be considered if that's the case. But there are also 
tradeoffs involved in that, notably that one's work becomes subject to 
the direction of others, instead of just doing whatever one wants.

Without the ability to experiment in an unfettered
manner, Labs should be renamed Unpaid Intern Server Farm.
Allowing unfettered experimentation is highly irresponsible, as 
highlighted by the recent furor over Facebook's practices. There should 
always be some minimum level of oversight; after all, much of the 
premise behind our massively collaborative projects is that your work is 
subject to review at any time. The posture that's apparently being taken 
is also not especially conducive to fostering trust, which is needed if 
the prospect of closer supervision is objectionable for some reason.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikiconference USA in the media

2014-06-07 Thread Michael Snow

On 6/7/2014 2:27 PM, Fæ wrote:

To all feminists reading this, do you want to be counted or not?
Sometimes marginalized minorities find it beneficial to be counted, 
sometimes they don't. When they're being subjected to mockery, 
hectoring, and aggressive interrogation, it's very often the latter. 
Fae, I don't know what you're trying to accomplish here, but if you 
support the notion of improving gender dynamics in the Wikimedia 
movement, you have an incredibly counterproductive way of going about 
it. Or maybe you think things are just fine the way they are.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Rethink of observability

2014-06-05 Thread Michael Snow

On 6/5/2014 10:43 AM, Mingli Yuan wrote:

If you visit the early page of c2.com, you will find the idea
of observability is one pillar principle of wiki software, and just follow
the idea, Ward invent the RecentChanges for all wikis.

At that time c2 is very small; now Wikipedia is so big. The original idea
of RecentChanges is not very effective today. We had made some extension
for the original idea in our mediawiki software, but I think the step is
too small.

Let's first take a look of what we had already invented are similar to
RecentChanges but more effective:

* Wikizine or Signpost: community stories every week
* some part of a Portal: recent changes under a subject compiled by human
I think this is potentially a very interesting topic. I did think it was 
curious that the Signpost would be one of the first things that came to 
mind, since I wasn't really thinking about RecentChanges as a model when 
I created it. And in general, it's interesting to note that these 
examples all involve human work product rather than software features, 
even though RecentChanges is a software feature.


RecentChanges is definitely a core element of what we understand wiki 
software to be, so it's a good place to start. And there have definitely 
been other features in MediaWiki that extend the idea in ways that (for 
some purposes) may be more effective. Examples might include:


* Logs (essentially a filtered version of RecentChanges based on events 
meeting predefined criteria)
* Watchlists (another filtered version, but this time based on 
user-defined criteria)


I invite people to brainstorm more examples of this principle at work - 
Pete's were again primarily social and community-based, but at this 
level of discussion we should be looking at both social features and 
technical ones. That would be a useful exercise with which to reexamine 
where we have gaps, and identify opportunities for new applications.

In all, we may reshape our technical infrastructure in this direction for
new spaces of participation. And finally, one open question for the system
designer:

* Towards better content and community, what is the most important things
we want our user to observe?
Well put. This is a critical issue that we should work on answers for in 
order to plan future development, both social and technical.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Rethink of observability

2014-06-05 Thread Michael Snow

On 6/5/2014 11:11 AM, Pete Forsyth wrote:

On Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 11:05 AM, Michael Snow wikipe...@frontier.com
wrote:

Pete's were again primarily social and community-based, but at this level
of discussion we should be looking at both social features and technical
ones.


YES YES YES!

However, the current priorities of the Wikimedia Foundation do not include
that line of inquiry.[1] I think that is a very big problem.

-Pete
[[User:Peteforsyth]]

[1] https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Vote:Narrowing_Focus
Whether that properly characterizes the shift in priorities is probably 
open to interpretation, but I think that's a separate debate that would 
be best for another thread. At the strategic level in which this 
discussion operates, though, certainly all areas are open to exploration.


I also don't believe that social and technical aspects can always be 
neatly separated. I'm guessing you don't either, but avoiding it 
becoming a dichotomy is one reason I'd rather this not become an 
exercise in choosing sides just yet.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A personal note.

2014-05-28 Thread Michael Snow

On 5/28/2014 5:59 AM, Fæ wrote:

On 28/05/2014, Lila Tretikov l...@wikimedia.org wrote:
...

independent individual
able to speak with his own voice and ask his own questions. He does not
take direction from me. He will not work for the WMF or engage with the WMF
employees.

I do not really understand the point being made about not engaging
with WMF employees, any active volunteer on Wikimedia projects should
and must be free to engage with WMF employees. The statement does not
appear to match actions over the last 24 hours, with Wil freely making
public comments about his dissatisfaction after conversations
(emails?) with some WMF employees.
I believe the point is that Wil, in particular, will not interfere with 
Wikimedia staff in carrying out their duties, assign them specific 
tasks, or otherwise attempt to supervise and direct their work. These 
functions properly belong to the employee's supervisor, so it's good for 
community members to keep this in mind generally, but especially 
important for Wil because otherwise his connection to Lila might create 
concern or confusion for the staff (as in the recent GitHub situation, 
which I believe was already mentioned). If those guidelines are 
respected, there should be no problem about Wil interacting with staff 
in an ordinary fashion. I'm sure Wil understands this and will be 
careful about it, and it's also good that Lila has said this publicly so 
that people have something to point to, in case anything is uncertain 
about whether Wil has some sort of special authority.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] COI editing by WMF staff

2014-04-17 Thread Michael Snow

On 4/17/2014 7:37 AM, Russavia wrote:

So
how about a simple WMF policy that states something along the lines of:

Employees and contractors of the Wikimedia Foundation shall not edit
articles relating to the Wikimedia Foundation, broadly construed, but at
rather directed to raise potential edits on the talk pages of affected
articles. This directive does not apply to the reverting vandalism,
removing copyright violations or potentially libellous materials.
To illustrate how silly this can get on some level, consider the fact 
that justifiably or not, the media and the general public often treat 
the content of Wikimedia projects as if it reflects on the reputation of 
the Wikimedia Foundation. Thus when broadly construed, any edit to any 
article could in a sense be charged with a conflict of interest because 
it's an effort to make the Wikimedia Foundation look better. So 
basically staff would not be allowed to edit at all, and the second part 
of this policy would amount to no more than a limited exception under 
which all edits have to be made, or at the very least vetted, by the 
legal department.


That in turn would lead to an atmosphere in which staff edits must be 
considered authoritative and cannot be challenged or altered by the 
community, which I really don't think is the direction we should go. The 
occasional deference Pete was concerned about is already a distortion of 
the normal editing dynamic, and not something we want to try and spread 
more widely.


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timothy Sandole and (apparently) $53, 690 of WMF funding

2014-03-23 Thread Michael Snow

On 3/22/2014 2:04 PM, Tim Landscheidt wrote:

Michael Snow wikipe...@frontier.com wrote:

As such, it seems clear that the donor in question is in the
best position to evaluate whether the funds achieved their
intended purpose. We don't really have good information in
this case to do that for them, and imposing our ideas of
what should be done with someone else's money is just
wishful thinking.
At the same time, it is clear that there are legitimate
concerns with this project from the perspective of good
editing practices and conflicts of interest. This is a good
argument that it would have been better for the Wikimedia
Foundation not to participate in the transaction, and gives
reason to be leery of such pass-through arrangements in
general. And in terms of organizational philosophy, it's
also why the foundation focuses on fundraising from the
general public rather than restricted gifts from individual
donors. Looking at this from an audit committee perspective,
the information so far suggests that the foundation could
more carefully screen such gifts for alignment with our
values, but at this point I haven't seen indications that
this rises to the level of misuse of donor funds.

Eh, that is not the point in my mind.  If A wants to assist
his relative B's work, and, for administrative reasons,
they want to engage WMF as a middle man to make it appear as
if there is no direct financial flow, then it's not for A to
evaluate whether the funds achieved their intended pur-
pose.
There isn't a legitimate basis for evaluating how the funds are spent 
other than A's desires and intentions. It's still a restricted gift, we 
can't pretend that this is money from general fundraising and decide it 
should have been spent in a way that better fits our priorities. Had the 
Wikimedia Foundation actually done that, it would be highly improper. 
Depriving A of the ability to direct the use of the funds may vaguely 
feel like a just consequence for acting with impure motives, but we do 
not have the right to enforce such a result.


The correct answer is much more likely to be a set of two possibilities. 
Either more work should have gone into ensuring alignment with our 
goals, or the foundation should have declined to get involved. The 
former is what Liam and others have tried to emphasize, and would 
require having conversations along the lines of, These are the kinds of 
things Wikipedians-in-Residence are expected to focus on, are you 
comfortable with your money being directed to those types of 
activities? The latter option, meanwhile, is always an acceptable 
course for us to take if it's not clear that we have a mutual 
understanding with the donor about how to spend the money.

Organizations that distribute funds according to the deposi-
tors' wishes are called banks and they have to ensure their
compliance with relevant regulations.
That's a very simplistic formulation which ignores the wide variety of 
organizations and professions that may need to handle funds belonging to 
other parties. Trustees, lawyers, and agents of various kinds do this 
all the time without needing to be banks, although certainly they 
typically use bank accounts as part of the process. Nonprofit 
organizations effectively do this when they accept restricted gifts. For 
many nonprofits, private foundations in particular, this is basically 
what they do with all the money that comes in the door.


Compliance with the relevant regulations, meanwhile, is precisely the 
point. If the Wikimedia Foundation accepts such a donation, the rules 
require it to be distributed according to the terms set by the donor. 
Which again is why the fundraising emphasis is on general, unrestricted 
donations.

WMF should make it
very clear that it doesn't engage in any fishy transactions.
No disagreement there. It's not clear if any of the staff involved were 
aware of the relevant facts at the time or understood their 
implications, but if the real motivation for the arrangement was to 
avoid disclosure or scrutiny of a related-party transaction on the part 
of either the Stanton Foundation or the Belfer Center, it suggests that 
the Wikimedia Foundation should have declined to participate.


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timothy Sandole and (apparently) $53, 690 of WMF funding

2014-03-23 Thread Michael Snow

On 3/23/2014 1:08 AM, Fæ wrote:

On 23/03/2014, Michael Snow wikipe...@frontier.com

There isn't a legitimate basis for evaluating how the funds are spent
other than A's desires and intentions. It's still a restricted gift, we
can't pretend that this is money from general fundraising and decide it
should have been spent in a way that better fits our priorities. Had the

...

When I was getting legal advice on the issues of Wikimedia UK becoming
a charity, one of the issues I had to bend my mind around was the tax
implications of how the charity could provide grants to non-UK
projects.

It is not possible for a UK charity to offer restricted grants without
risking having to pay tax as if they were paying for a profit making
commercial service, rather than gifting money. For this reason the UK
charity will only offer *unrestricted* grants, based on a published
proposal from the non-UK organization that will spend the grant on
charitable purposes. I have little doubt that the IRS rules are just
as stringent, otherwise US charities would be frequently used as
container companies for tax avoidance and money-laundering.
I'm not sure why you're responding to a point about the Wikimedia 
Foundation in the role of receiving a grant, one that in this case did 
not require funds to be transferred outside their country of origin, 
with a hypothetical discussion about Wikimedia UK in the role of making 
a grant, in which the funds would be transferred between countries that 
would not necessarily have the same systems for taxation or charitable 
organizations. Are charities in the UK prohibited from accepting 
donations to which any form of restriction is attached?


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timothy Sandole and (apparently) $53, 690 of WMF funding

2014-03-22 Thread Michael Snow

On 3/22/2014 7:42 AM, Tomasz W. Kozlowski wrote:

Even if Timothy has been highly disruptive rather than just apparently
very inefficient (which he wasn't), or if it has been donors' money that
had been spent (which it wasn't), or if you had /actually/ been
appointed to speak for the number one stakeholder in our projects
(which you haven't); it wouldn't justify your continuing harangue when
you have been clearly told that no further substantive information would
come until Sue returns next week.

It was donors' money that was spent on this position, Marc.
It was one single donor's money that was spent on this position, not 
money from the general pool of donations, which I believe is the point 
Marc was trying to make. Moreover, that donor specifically wanted the 
money spent on this position. It's not like the Wikimedia Foundation had 
the option to spend the money on other, better program opportunities.


As such, it seems clear that the donor in question is in the best 
position to evaluate whether the funds achieved their intended purpose. 
We don't really have good information in this case to do that for them, 
and imposing our ideas of what should be done with someone else's money 
is just wishful thinking.


At the same time, it is clear that there are legitimate concerns with 
this project from the perspective of good editing practices and 
conflicts of interest. This is a good argument that it would have been 
better for the Wikimedia Foundation not to participate in the 
transaction, and gives reason to be leery of such pass-through 
arrangements in general. And in terms of organizational philosophy, it's 
also why the foundation focuses on fundraising from the general public 
rather than restricted gifts from individual donors. Looking at this 
from an audit committee perspective, the information so far suggests 
that the foundation could more carefully screen such gifts for alignment 
with our values, but at this point I haven't seen indications that this 
rises to the level of misuse of donor funds.


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] the big red notice on the top of http://strategy.wikimedia.org - done

2014-03-10 Thread Michael Snow

On 3/10/2014 3:36 PM, Michael Peel wrote:

Maybe. I worry that it is computer jargon - but perhaps what I suggested is 
historian jargon...
It's not so much jargon that's the problem - it's that nearly all 
websites are read-only, and to some visitors it will be rather puzzling 
why we should go out of our way to highlight that aspect for this one.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Visually impaired

2014-01-15 Thread Michael Snow

On 1/15/2014 8:13 AM, Victor Grigas wrote:

I interviewed 2 gentlemen who are both blind who use a program called JAWS on 
desktop machines that reads the Wikipedia page to them, allowing them to edit.
In the US, I believe JAWS is the predominant tool employed to assist 
blind computer users. At least if you deliver content that needs to 
comply with Section 508 (information accessibility requirements from the 
1973 Rehabilitation Act), performance with JAWS is the most likely way 
that an agency will evaluate the content if they're serious about 
meeting the requirements. It's limited to operating in a Windows 
environment, but the program has an established user base that I 
understand is quite active in providing feedback so the software can be 
maintained and improved. I haven't dealt with it in a wiki context, but 
if it's an effective aid for editing as well as reading, I'm glad to 
hear it.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Copyright infringement - The real elephant in the room

2013-11-20 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/20/2013 8:31 AM, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:

On 11/20/2013 07:13 AM, The Cunctator wrote:

Yes, let's keep on pushing for policies that drive away editors!

Let's be clear here: contributions that are copyright violations are not
desirable to begin with.  If someone is driven away because they cannot
cut and paste from random websites anymore, I'm not sure that this could
reasonably be taken to be a bad thing.
Not that I encourage us to be permissive about copyright infringement, 
but there are two potential aspects here. You've touched on the first, 
which is contributors who do the copying - if they are willing to 
change, that's fine, although I'm skeptical about the value of editors 
who don't know any better and certainly repeat offenders should be 
highly unwelcome. But the second aspect is the loss of tasks other 
editors may be able to participate in, if there's potential for 
overautomation of the review process and corresponding loss of human 
judgment (What needs to be removed and what could be fixed just by 
citing the source? How thorough a rewrite is necessary to avoid 
plagiarizing source text?). An essential part of collaboration is, after 
all, reviewing each other's work. From the terseness of the comment, it 
might be alluding to either aspect or both.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Copyright infringement - The real elephant in the room

2013-11-20 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/20/2013 9:20 AM, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:

That's actually an interesting question that has been lurking beneath
all the editing is going down nervousness.

How much of that 'editing' was, in fact, busy work made immaterial by
technical advantage (bots, extensions, abusefilter)?  The number of
antivandalism edits a /human/ has to do in a day has most certainly come
down a *lot* since c. 2006; this no doubt contributed to a large - now
diminishing - fraction of total edits.

It's not clear to me that the number of *productive* edits has been
going down all that much (if at all) in the past several years; the
proportion of edits that were tedious and repetitive clearly has.

Are you arguing that there is *value* in volunteers spending time on
work that could be automated?  Except for artificially driving up edit
counts, that is time (and effort) that would be better spent pretty much
anywhere else!
A lot of work that gets automated is not necessarily difficult for 
humans, just time-consuming. But volunteer time is not a resource we get 
to allocate or control; the volunteers do. Simple tasks can help recruit 
or retain contributors--providing a way to ease people into 
participation, or a break to prevent burnout between tackling more 
challenging projects. And while that time and effort might appear more 
valuable if spent on other tasks, there's no guarantee that it in fact 
would be.


For tasks that most contributors find unpleasant (dealing with certain 
types of vandalism, perhaps), automation is clearly the way to go. But 
repetition does not necessarily equal tedium in all circumstances or for 
all people. Nor do we need to apply some business-type evaluation of 
what constitutes productive effort, at least in the context of 
volunteer work. If a task simply makes someone feel productive, their 
own evaluation is what matters, and it can help them feel more engaged 
and part of the community.


My general point is that opportunities for automation are best 
considered with our overall mission in mind, not just the speed or 
efficiency of a particular workflow. In certain situations, automation 
that creates more work rather than removing it (such as by identifying 
potential tasks and feeding them to editors) might be preferable. And 
some of our tools already use such an approach, which is a good thing.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Copyright infringement - The real elephant in the room

2013-11-20 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/20/2013 10:52 AM, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:

Perhaps another way of putting it is to ask whether the
encyclopedia-building community is the means or the ends.  To my eyes,
having more contributors is not valuable unless it has better
encyclopedia as a direct consequence.
I believe the mission is sufficiently large in scope that having more 
people involved is fundamentally desirable in general. Although to 
circle back to an earlier point in the discussion, that doesn't require 
that we accept involvement that is counterproductive. Maintaining our 
standards is a way of acknowledging that the number of people involved 
is not itself the end goal.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Copyright infringement - The real elephant in the room

2013-11-13 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/13/2013 10:39 AM, Nathan wrote:

On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 4:53 AM, Lodewijk lodew...@effeietsanders.orgwrote:

Marco: I agree, we had also issues on the Dutch Wikipedia - these have been
around for ages, the English Wikipedia is just less aware of them.

Not sure if you meant this how it sounds, but the English Wikipedia
community is acutely aware of copyright problems and have undertaken many,
many large and complicated cleanup tasks of the sort Marco described.
I think he meant that the English Wikipedia community is less aware of 
the fact that we face these sorts of large-scale challenges in many 
other languages as well. In other words, the antecedent to them is 
issues on the Dutch/Italian/etc. Wikipedia, rather than copyright 
issues generally. Most people participating in other languages are 
reasonably aware when major concerns surface from the English Wikipedia; 
people participating only in English often haven't a clue about the 
concerns being dealt with in other languages.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fwd: Wikimania 2015 - Call for Jury volunteers

2013-11-05 Thread Michael Snow

On 11/5/2013 11:01 AM, David Gerard wrote:

On 5 November 2013 18:58, Federico Leva (Nemo) nemow...@gmail.com wrote:

Yes if it's South enough to be in the middle of the Channel for best
neutrality.

Jersey 2015!
That really ought to be Principality of Sealand instead. We already had 
Gdansk, time to continue the history tour of Wikipedia edit wars.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Office hours for VisualEditor

2013-10-30 Thread Michael Snow

On 10/30/2013 8:39 AM, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:

On 10/30/2013 11:20 AM, Risker wrote:

Just to clarify, since  UTC is a confusing time for most of us

{{cn}}

I've heard that said very often (that 00:00 is somehow confusing to many
people), but I've yet to actually see someone being actually confused by it.

There is exactly one minute labeled 00:00 in every day, and that is
unambiguously the first of the day.
It ought to be straightforward, yes, since in numeric sequences 00:00 
clearly comes before other possible time values, and therefore is not 
nearly as confusing as, say, 12:00 (is noon AM and midnight PM, or is it 
the other way around?). However, it is definitely possible to overthink 
things, and as this conversation demonstrates, of all the faults of 
which our community is capable, overthinking things is one of the 
easiest for us to fall into.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Office hours for VisualEditor

2013-10-30 Thread Michael Snow

On 10/30/2013 8:58 AM, Newyorkbrad wrote:

On Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 11:56 AM, Michael Snow wikipe...@frontier.comwrote:

On 10/30/2013 8:39 AM, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:

On 10/30/2013 11:20 AM, Risker wrote:

Just to clarify, since  UTC is a confusing time for most of us

{{cn}}

I've heard that said very often (that 00:00 is somehow confusing to many
people), but I've yet to actually see someone being actually confused by
it.

There is exactly one minute labeled 00:00 in every day, and that is
unambiguously the first of the day.

It ought to be straightforward, yes, since in numeric sequences 00:00
clearly comes before other possible time values, and therefore is not
nearly as confusing as, say, 12:00 (is noon AM and midnight PM, or is it
the other way around?). However, it is definitely possible to overthink
things, and as this conversation demonstrates, of all the faults of which
our community is capable, overthinking things is one of the easiest for us
to fall into.

--Michael Snow

Are you saying that our extensive discussion of the meaning of  counts
for naught?

Newyorkbrad

I am saying nothing of the kind.

--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Planned school curriculum by MPAA

2013-09-25 Thread Michael Snow

On 9/25/2013 11:33 AM, Andrew Lih wrote:

I'd be OK if they simply gave some space in the training materials to talk
about public domain, free licenses and fair use. That's not likely to
happen given who's in control of those lesson plans.
Because the program in question is intended for elementary schools, they 
claim that the children aren't ready to handle the level of nuance and 
abstract thought involved in those concepts. I might be willing to 
accept that objection, but it really should be taken a step farther. At 
that stage, most children aren't developmentally ready for the level of 
abstraction involved in copyright, period. Neither the things it forbids 
nor the things it allows.


A second-grader who wants to draw Buzz Lightyear, because that's her 
favorite cartoon character and she wants to be an astronaut, is never 
going to understand that Pixar owns the rights to that character and she 
can't do whatever she wants with it. (Honey, why don't you just put 
away the crayons and come play with your action figure instead?) (Yes, 
I know Grandma buys your artwork for a quarter so she can put it on her 
refrigerator, but you're not allowed to give her this one.) You can 
tell her what's allowed and what's not, and she may even comply, but 
there's no way she will understand the reasons, in her mind they will 
simply be rules that you made up.


That's a particularly good sign that the purpose of the materials is 
really propaganda and indoctrination. Regardless of whether the 
curriculum is suitably balanced, the concepts are beyond what's 
developmentally appropriate to be teaching at that level.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] : WMF resolution on neutral point of view

2013-09-16 Thread Michael Snow

On 9/16/2013 7:33 PM, Risker wrote:

I am not certain that neutral point of view applies to all Wikimedia
projects.  Wikiversity programs may deliberately examine one aspect of a
subject while ignoring others, for example. It is difficult to apply the
concept of  neutrality to images and other media, some of which is
explicitly non-neutral (see the Jyllands-Posten Muhammed images).  I am not
sure that neutral point of view applies to Wiktionary at all.
Once the topic unit is selected (an article title in Wikipedia, a word 
in Wiktionary, or a destination in Wikivoyage, for example), I think a 
concept of neutrality within that topic is not actually that difficult. 
Whether we require it everywhere is a policy choice, but it is certainly 
possible. Maintaining the design of a Wikiversity program need not be 
different in kind from avoiding off-topic digressions in a Wikipedia 
article.


Obviously it makes sense to adapt our understanding of neutrality to the 
mission of each project. I believe our projects have generally tried 
conscientiously to maintain that spirit in a way that suits their 
context. But although it may superficially appear non-neutral to enforce 
criteria and boundaries for topic units, I think the answer to that lies 
in the ambition to universality of our projects. If by simply defining a 
topic we deviate from neutrality, the way to restore it is by covering 
all topics.


When dealing with source material, as with Wikimedia Commons or 
Wikisource, then neutrality may be a concept one step removed from the 
mission of the project. Faithful reproduction may be closer to what we 
are really looking for. However, neutrality is still a value worth 
considering in terms of the overall collection of source material, and 
certainly in how that material gets presented and contextualized in our 
other projects.


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] NSA

2013-07-31 Thread Michael Snow

On 7/31/2013 3:31 PM, Nathan wrote:

And another thought - you know what unites most of the other companies
represented by the logos in that image? Leaks have confirmed that most
of them are the subject of secret orders to turn over huge amounts of
raw data to the government. They are all bound to secrecy by law, so
without permission none of them are permitted to describe or disclose
the nature or extent of the data demands the U.S. government has made.

Now if you imagine the puzzle globe on that slide implies that
Wikipedia traffic is retained for intelligence analysis, it's a short
hop to assume that the Wikimedia Foundation is also the subject of a
blanket order transferring its server logs to the NSA.
Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Twitter, yes. But mail.ru? The shift from 
most to all in the first paragraph may make it easy to assume the 
similarity is universal, but it's ignoring the full context. That kind 
of rhetorical shift is a favorite trick of conspiracy theorists, it's 
how they get you to make those short hops to unwarranted conclusions.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] On the gentrification of Wikipedia, by Superbass (was: Visual Editor)

2013-07-29 Thread Michael Snow

On 7/29/2013 1:50 PM, Erik Moeller wrote:

On Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 1:12 PM, Jan Ainali jan.ain...@wikimedia.se wrote:

I have not read the vision statement as it is the production of knowledge
that need be availible to every human being, but the consumption.

Actually, having co-drafted the Vision Statement (it was drafted at
the October 2006 Board retreat in Frankfurt and then finalized after
community discussion), I can assure you that that was not the intent.
I recall that Florence and I talked about that specific aspect a fair
bit. We proposed the language share in over given free access to
in order to emphasize that it's not a one-directional process (some
treasure trove of knowledge that you are given access to), but a
process we are creating an opportunity to participate in. It could be
made clearer, but that was the intent.
In any case, I'm not sure why we'd conclude that making the production 
of knowledge more widely available is somehow harmful to the cause of 
making the consumption of knowledge available to everyone. Because the 
success of Wikipedia has been built on rather the opposite of that. In 
that context which comes first, production or consumption, is sort of a 
chicken-or-the-egg question about the origin of network effects.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] On the gentrification of Wikipedia, by Superbass (was: Visual Editor)

2013-07-29 Thread Michael Snow

On 7/29/2013 2:44 PM, Jan Ainali wrote:

2013/7/29 Michael Snow wikipe...@frontier.com

On 7/29/2013 1:50 PM, Erik Moeller wrote:

On Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 1:12 PM, Jan Ainali jan.ain...@wikimedia.se
wrote:

I have not read the vision statement as it is the production of knowledge
that need be availible to every human being, but the consumption.

Actually, having co-drafted the Vision Statement (it was drafted at
the October 2006 Board retreat in Frankfurt and then finalized after
community discussion), I can assure you that that was not the intent.
I recall that Florence and I talked about that specific aspect a fair
bit. We proposed the language share in over given free access to
in order to emphasize that it's not a one-directional process (some
treasure trove of knowledge that you are given access to), but a
process we are creating an opportunity to participate in. It could be
made clearer, but that was the intent.

In any case, I'm not sure why we'd conclude that making the production of
knowledge more widely available is somehow harmful to the cause of making
the consumption of knowledge available to everyone. Because the success of
Wikipedia has been built on rather the opposite of that. In that context
which comes first, production or consumption, is sort of a
chicken-or-the-egg question about the origin of network effects.

Firstly, the clarification from Erik is very valuable. Perhaps I am the
only one making that interpretation from the wording in the vision
statement, but if what Erik say is the intention is correct (and I have no
reason to think otherwise) it could perhaps be stressed further to let
everyone in the movement be aware of the importance.

Michael, I would not say we should conclude that it is harmful, rather I
would say (or at least, before Eriks clarification) that we would need to
justify why democratization of production as an end would be more
important than giving free access to the sum of all human knowledge.
I don't think anybody is trying to say that democratization of 
production is more important than free access or even universal free 
access. But given that the question originated in discussions about the 
visual editor, I'm not sure why access is being invoked that way, since 
the editing interface has no direct impact on the reader experience.


The collaborative nature of our projects is also one of our important 
values. It may be more of a means to an end rather than a goal like the 
vision statement. But in some sense, achieving the sum of all human 
knowledge requires all humans to collaborate in it.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Staff Images

2013-07-12 Thread Michael Snow

On 7/12/2013 3:22 PM, Rory wrote:

I am really hungry now.  (I’m not allowed to eat legal interns anymore.[4])
  Tux, let’s get together soon, real soon, maybe over lunch.
Rory, if you're that desperate, may I suggest you scrounge around in 
your slippers? I'm sure you could find some tasty crumbs in there.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] PRISM

2013-06-11 Thread Michael Snow

On 6/11/2013 1:03 PM, Andy Mabbett wrote:

We'd should ask the NSA if they'd like a Wikipedian-in-Residence.
Why not just go all the way and ask them to release everything they've 
collected under a free license? (Well, so the copyright to most of it 
probably doesn't belong to them. Does that mean we're entitled to 
royalties for being spied on?)


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Patience

2013-05-16 Thread Michael Snow

On 5/16/2013 11:52 AM, ENWP Pine wrote:

I agree that patience is a very important virtue in some situations, such as 
when we coach newbies or seek consensus among many people. But it's sometimes 
not a virtue, such as in many crisis situations. As a metrics and performance 
enthusiast, I feel that it's possible to have an appropriate mix of patience 
and impatience, and people should be appropriately accountable for their 
performance.
I suppose it depends what implications you attach to those words, but I 
would not recommend using impatience when what you really want is 
urgency. In my experience, the self-discipline that goes into everyday 
patience can actually remain a virtue in crisis situations as well, as 
it may help you remain clear-headed and make better decisions than you 
would if you let the circumstances overwhelm your ability to think 
rationally. And as Fred points out, a big part of my message relates 
especially to making emergencies out of things that are not.


I also do not believe that patience is in any way incompatible with 
accountability. Patience does not require ignoring commitments, 
discarding performance evaluation, or even disregarding agreed 
timeframes. However, it does mean that the results of the evaluation 
should be well-considered and any consequences appropriate to the 
circumstances. Impatience tends to drive us to choose excessive 
consequences, like a lot of the somebody should be fired kind of talk 
over things that are honest mistakes.


--Michael Snow

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[Wikimedia-l] Patience

2013-05-15 Thread Michael Snow
I originally wrote this message last year on a nonpublic list. It seemed 
to be well received, and some people asked me to share it publicly, but 
I didn't get around to it then. I think this would be a good time to 
share it here now. It is not specifically directed at recent issues 
here, but I think it does have some relevance. (I have some thoughts 
more directly related to those matters as well, which I hope to share 
when I have time to write them down. That might not happen until late 
Friday, which is probably not the best time for it, but based on recent 
history perhaps I can still hope some people will be reading then.)


Internet technology is known for letting things happen much faster than 
they did before we were all so connected. This speed now seems normal to 
us and, being immersed in that culture, we have come to expect it. 
Wikis, as one aspect of that culture, have the feature of making that 
speed a personal tool - you can make something happen right away. How 
many of us got involved because we saw a mistake and figuratively 
couldn't wait to fix it? And when we discovered that we literally didn't 
have to wait, we were hooked.


One result of this is a culture that caters to impatience, sometimes 
even rewards it. And that's why we are often tempted to think that being 
irritable is a way of getting things done. We imagine: this problem 
should be instantly solved, my idea can be implemented right away, I 
will be immediately informed about whatever I care about. But as our 
culture grows in scale, none of that remains true (and perhaps, we get 
more irritated as a result).


I wish I could say that because it's a matter of scale, technology will 
take care of things because that's how we handle scaling. However, the 
issue is not about whether the technology will scale, but whether the 
culture will scale. On a cultural level, scaling issues are not handled 
by technology alone. They are handled by establishing shared values (be 
bold, but also wait for consensus), by agreeing upon standard procedures 
(which provide important protections when designed well, but also 
introduce delays), and by dividing up responsibilities (which requires 
that we trust others).


That last bit is critical; people have repeatedly suggested a certain 
mistrust underlies the repeated flareups. Well, the reason that mistrust 
has grown so much is because we are often impatient, and take shortcuts 
in order to get things done (or so we believe). The impatience 
manifests on all sides--to illustrate: volunteers get impatient about 
the effort needed for any kind of policy change, chapters get impatient 
about requirements to develop internal controls and share reports on 
their activities, staff get impatient about time involved in consulting 
with the community. Everyone thinks it would be so much better if they 
were free to just do things and not have to deal with these hassles. But 
in every one of these scenarios, and I'm sure I could come up with many 
more, if we let impatience guide us, inevitably more trust will be 
drained out of the system.


Patience as a virtue is in short supply on the internet. It is not 
native to our culture, but we must apply it in order to scale. 
Fortunately, it is simply a matter of maturity and self-control at 
appropriate moments. I encourage us all to practice it.


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Patience

2013-05-15 Thread Michael Snow

On 5/14/2013 11:48 PM, David Gerard wrote:

On 15 May 2013 07:45, Michael Snow wikipe...@frontier.com wrote:

That last bit is critical; people have repeatedly suggested a certain
mistrust underlies the repeated flareups. Well, the reason that mistrust has
grown so much is because we are often impatient, and take shortcuts in order
to get things done (or so we believe).

You're quite sure that's the root cause?
I'm addressing this as a structural issue, and there may be other ways 
to express it, but I'm not sure that talking about the root cause fits 
the nature of the problem. With apologies for lapsing into legal 
terminology, my message is not about proximate cause, such as for 
particular incidents. Rather, I am focusing on a cultural phenomenon, 
and as with most aspects of culture, certainly many factors may be at 
play, but I do feel sure that as to what I'm describing, this is a major 
part of the challenge. If you like, change that sentence to say one 
reason rather than the, I think the rest of what I wrote is still just 
as valid.


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Patience

2013-05-15 Thread Michael Snow

On 5/15/2013 12:26 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) wrote:
Michael, can you please copy this as is on Meta? [[Patience]] will be 
a nice complement to https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Eventualism

Done. Feel free to share and circulate in any way that may be useful.

--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why not everyone have the right to vote in the Board FDC elections?

2013-04-30 Thread Michael Snow

On 4/30/2013 3:54 AM, Michael Peel wrote:

On 28 Apr 2013, at 21:25, Andrew Gray andrew.g...@dunelm.org.uk wrote:

I'm ambivalent about whether it's appropriate to have staff members
(those who don't independently qualify as community members) voting
or not, but I think in principle Itzik has a very good point - either
*both* WMF and Chapter staff should be able to vote, or *neither*
should. I can't see any reason that it's right for a staffer in San
Francisco to participate in the election, but it isn't right for one
in Berlin!

(It may be too late to change anything for this time around, of
course, but it would be great if we could ensure consistency in future
elections)

I'd like to +1 on this, as that only seems fair to me - either we have an 
inclusive solution for all Wikimedia organisation staff, or we don't involve 
staff in the elections at all (unless they are also active community members).
I also agree that it would be best to treat all staff the same in this 
regard, whether they technically work for a chapter or the global 
foundation. I think that's particularly true because the technical 
employment arrangements don't necessarily line up with true function, 
and could lead to rather odd results in specific cases. As we've seen or 
could easily imagine, staff might be designated as temporary 
contractors, be delegated to work at another organization, or have their 
salary paid by one entity while working for another. All of these things 
could happen for perfectly good reasons in operational terms, but have 
no bearing on whether that person should be able to participate in these 
elections.

BTW, It might also be worth thinking about spreading the community elected 
seats over multiple years - at the moment, all three are appointed at once, 
which means that there's not necessarily any sort of continuity in the 
community's perspective on the board. Having two elected one year, and one the 
next year, might be a better solution to maintain continuity here.
This is a valid consideration, but I'd like to offer a counterargument, 
which is (at least in my mind) an important reason the rotation of board 
seats was set up the way it is now. As we've seen, the process of 
organizing and conducting these elections is a significant burden, 
especially on the volunteers doing the work but also for the candidates 
who choose to participate. I would suggest that it also imposes costs on 
the community at large in terms of the attention and energy directed to 
the election. I consider those costs well worth paying overall, but 
believe that it's also better not to run them up too often. I'm not sure 
that the benefits of this change warrant effectively doubling the load 
the process creates.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] xkcd collecting donations for WMF?

2013-04-01 Thread Michael Snow

On 4/1/2013 12:22 PM, Manuel Schneider wrote:

Did you see this April's Fool Day comic on xkcd, with an interactivly
growing dog: The dog gains a pound for every $10 donated to the
Wikimedia Foundation via this link.

http://xkcd.org/

Is this real? How can it tell how much has been donated to WMF through
this comic? I see that there is a special campaign reference in the
donation link but how can it fetch the amount?

Has there been any cooperation / negotiation between Randall Munroe and
the WMF beforehand?

/Manuel
It's real, and there was some technical cooperation to facilitate xkcd 
being able to pull the amount donated.In April Fool's terms, this is a 
joke, not a prank (consistent with how we generally handle those 
activities on Wikipedia as well, I believe).


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement *please read*

2013-03-27 Thread Michael Snow
As others have already said, it will be difficult to see Sue leave the 
organization (but not the movement). I thank her for the years of effort 
that have gone into first stabilizing and then building the Wikimedia 
Foundation. While I don't predict that this transition will be 
completely painless (that's okay, it's a good thing), I'm sure that it 
will be much less painful than it might have been (that's also a good 
thing).


During my time as chair of the Board of Trustees, I had some extended 
conversations with Sue about succession planning, partly because this is 
something the board always has to be thinking about, and partly because 
at that point we would have faced tremendous challenges if Sue were to 
leave and we were forced to find a successor. The issue has remained in 
the back of my mind ever since. As I have watched the organization 
develop, it has been good to observe how she has built the capacities of 
those around her, bringing us to a point where I feel much more 
comfortable that all of the good work can continue on without her 
personal involvement. There's a long list of things Sue has accomplished 
as Executive Director, but making an organization capable of surviving 
her departure is a critical one.


One of the things I believe we all try to do with the work on our 
projects is to leave things - a Wikipedia article, MediaWiki code, the 
culture of our movement, everything - in better shape than we found it. 
Sue has done that on an organizational scale, and impressively so. For 
that, Sue, and all of the other things on which we have worked together, 
thank you.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia (Foundation) endowment

2013-03-14 Thread Michael Snow

On 3/14/2013 10:26 PM, Theo10011 wrote:

On Thu, Mar 14, 2013, Erik Moeller e...@wikimedia.org wrote:

Only data-center usage (facilities, bandwidth, power). It does not
include capital expenditures (servers, storage, network gear, etc.;
budgeted at $1.9M in 2012-13) nor ops engineering staffing, nor of
course any software engineering staffing or the basics of an
organizational support structure (management/administration, legal,
etc.).

I'm not technically inclined, but those numbers sound odd. Maybe I'm
missing something? The traffic ranking didn't go up nearly as substantially
in the last couple of years as the hosting and cap-ex mentioned above.
I'm not sure why you would use traffic ranking for financial analysis, 
even the envelope-and-napkin kind of analysis we're engaging in here. 
I'm pretty confident that just because Google has been sitting at #1 for 
some time, it doesn't mean that their core operational costs have 
remained flat over that period.


Aside from that, it's only recently that Wikimedia sites have approached 
having the kind of redundancy and failover capabilities we've talked 
about needing for a long time. That's at least one example of something 
that can add pretty significant costs without having a material impact 
on traffic (except in emergencies, of course).


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] בקשה למרואיין

2013-03-11 Thread Michael Snow

On 3/11/2013 12:47 PM, Itzik Edri wrote:

Oops. Just noticed that I sent this email to Wikimedia-L instead of WMIL
mailing list. Sorry! :)
Too bad - I was hoping it was a sign that people were taking seriously 
the notion that this could be a multilingual mailing list, not just 
English-only.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikivoyage launch: why no blog post or press release?

2013-01-15 Thread Michael Snow

On 1/15/2013 1:51 PM, David Gerard wrote:

On 15 January 2013 21:45, Philippe Beaudette pbeaude...@wikimedia.org wrote:

This is what happens when you people get an empire, isn't it?  :-)

They're not too bad a bunch once you get used to them. You can always
beat them at games they invented.
Even better, distort those games into vaguely recognizable new forms and 
pretend that you invented them yourself.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] compromise?

2013-01-04 Thread Michael Snow

On 1/4/2013 12:17 PM, James Salsman wrote:

Even the best medical plans don't protect medical debtors the way that
the ability to finance long term personal debt with greater salary and
savings does.
Right, and the best approach would be for employees to get no health 
insurance at all, I'm sure they would rather have the cost of that 
benefit paid out in salary instead and be left entirely on their own for 
medical expenses. Seriously, I know the US approach to paying for 
healthcare has its problems, but that has to be the most bizarre 
conclusion I've ever seen on the topic. You think that having people 
mortgage their future and simply giving them more cash, which they don't 
ultimately enjoy other than to pay loans at distressed interest rates, 
is a greater benefit to them than providing the best insurance coverage 
we can offer?

Three quarters of U.S. debtors entering bankruptcy for
medical reasons have insurance:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/american_journal_of_medicine_09.pdf
Yes, lots of people are underinsured in various ways. The Wikimedia 
Foundation tries to provide generous health coverage to protect its 
employees from having to deal with exactly that.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] compromise?

2013-01-03 Thread Michael Snow

On 1/3/2013 12:08 AM, James Salsman wrote:

Leslie, the most frequent cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. is
unanticipated medical expenses. If one of your family members faced
such unanticipated expenses, and you realized you could save them from
bankruptcy and perhaps even save their life by leaving the Foundation
and taking a job at market rate, would that not tend to sway your
idealism? Since any of your colleagues could face the same
circumstances, is it therefore not irresponsible instead to fail to
meet or exceed the local market rate for technical labor?
James, if you actually understood the dynamics involved here, you would 
realize that this random general-interest factoid is more or less 
irrelevant to your agenda. Paying market rate salaries is not what 
protects employees from being overwhelmed by medical expenses. The type 
of long-term or catastrophic medical event that generates a situation 
like this can outstrip even the most generous salary.


What's actually relevant is the scope of medical coverage offered, 
including for dependents. On that score, as reflected in what Matthew 
shared earlier, my understanding is that the Wikimedia Foundation 
provides benefits that meet or exceed those of just about any employer 
it might be competing with. If we are actually losing any employees 
over this specific reason, I would be very interested to hear about such 
cases privately to see if we need to change our approach, and I'm sure 
Sue and Garfield would be as well. (We might very well lose employees 
dealing with personal scenarios of this nature, but I believe it's more 
likely to be due to the impact of the situation on their time and energy 
levels. In that case, we have no option but to acknowledge that they 
have their priorities in the right order.)


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fwd: IRC Office Hours

2012-12-27 Thread Michael Snow

On 12/27/2012 12:16 AM, Dan Rosenthal wrote:

Not really excessive during a holiday season where people may not see the
message for several days. And a month is a good amount of lead time for
something like this. I don't get what the problem is...
I don't see it as a problem either. More lead time is always good for 
people who want to make sure they can join in. However, this is 
sufficiently far in advance that it would be helpful to also send out a 
reminder as the date gets closer, say during the week leading up to the 
office hours. I expect Gayle may already have planned to do that as 
well, but didn't think it necessary to spell that out.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Annual Audit of the Wikimedia Foundation

2012-12-27 Thread Michael Snow

On 12/27/2012 10:30 AM, James Salsman wrote:

The annual audit of the Wikimedia Foundation, for the fiscal year ending
June 30, 2012 and the corresponding FAQ have been posted on the financial
reports http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Financial_reports page of the
Wikimedia Foundation web site.

Please contact me with any questions.

Garfield,

During your IRC office hours of April 12, 2012, you appeared to accept
and speak highly of the suggestion that the Foundation transfer the
bulk of its cash reserves from Citibank certificates of deposit to
federally insured credit union certificates of deposit, which were
then and still paying about four times as much interest. It is unclear
from the auditors' statements whether you accomplished this. Did you?
Reviewing the log from those office hours, it appears Garfield did not 
accept and speak highly of the suggestion, he merely said he would 
look into the possibility. I'm also rather skeptical of the underlying 
claim about the superiority of credit union CDs in this context, and as 
an audit committee member would want to see a much clearer and better 
documented case for undertaking such an effort. It appears that your 
generic information about interest rates was based on either the highest 
rates available, which also require the longest terms, or on promotional 
rates that I doubt would fit with the Wikimedia Foundation's circumstances.


In practice, investment of cash reserves must balance the return on 
investment with the need to maintain liquidity, which is after all the 
primary reason to keep cash on hand. That means shorter-term 
investment vehicles, and from what I know the rates for CDs of this type 
do not diverge significantly between banks and credit unions. In the 
current interest rate environment, basically the rates are pathetically 
low either way, and even if there is some difference the return would be 
relatively trivial and unlikely to be worth the effort of switching. 
Again, the point is not absolute maximization of the possible return, 
it's more to avoid a return of nothing at all while ensuring the funds 
can be available if needed.


None of this is meant as a statement on the relative merits of banks 
versus credit unions generally. On a personal level, I transitioned from 
a bank to a credit union as my primary financial institution long ago. 
But the logic that may apply for a typical consumer doesn't necessarily 
translate over to something like institutional management of cash reserves.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Annual Audit of the Wikimedia Foundation

2012-12-27 Thread Michael Snow

On 12/27/2012 1:46 PM, James Salsman wrote:

I'm also rather skeptical of the underlying claim about the superiority
of credit union CDs in this context

So I googled credit union 6 month certificates of deposit best rate
and found http://www.gobankingrates.com/cd-rates/6-month-cd/ which
shows offers of 1.47% for six month and 1.86% for 12 month CDs from
Metropolitan Service Credit Union, all of which are federally
guaranteed for up to $250,000, the same amount the government
guarantees all Citibank deposits per depositor for any total. Their
next four top rates, all over 1.0%, are also from federally guaranteed
credit unions.
None of those rates are current, from quick investigation they appear to 
be anywhere from two weeks to two months old. As any published rate 
sheet will tell you, rates are subject to change without notice. Where 
the actual websites, as opposed to this aggregator, are more up-to-date, 
it looks like the rates are often significantly lower. Furthermore, even 
the outdated published rates have significant limitations that may 
render them unworkable. For example, while deposits may be guaranteed up 
to $250,000, the institution may not actually offer certificates up to 
that amount. In at least one of the examples I found with that link, the 
credit union is publishing rates for CDs that are not actually 
available, and it appears the only products actually available are for 
17- and 23-month terms.


Credit unions also have membership requirements, and while the 
limitations around those have loosened significantly in recent years, 
it's not as simple as finding the highest rate and opening an account. 
Even a consumer would need to figure out which ones they can join first 
before shopping based on rates. The membership question alone would 
probably rule out any of the examples found, and for an organization 
like Wikimedia you'd have the additional issues of whether they support 
business accounts and what services they offer in that capacity.


As Garfield also mentioned in the IRC office hours, part of his mandate 
is low risk. In finance, that tends to be reflected in wariness of 
institutions as small as these. They're less accessible, less equipped 
to provide the level of services needed, and more vulnerable to change 
(which can mean either failure or acquisition). While consolidation is a 
bigger factor in the volatile small banking industry, small credit 
unions are hardly immune themselves. And while it's easy to talk about 
federal insurance as a backstop in case of outright failure, as a 
practical matter there may be a lot of time and hoops involved to 
recover your deposits in such situations, which runs counter to the 
focus on liquidity for cash reserves.


Donor funds need to be managed wisely, but simply performing a Google 
search for the best interest rates is not all that useful a tool here. 
If somebody wants to come to Garfield and tell him, I've had some of my 
own money in a CD with Bank or Credit Union X for the last 6 months, 
I've been getting X% and I'm about to renew at a similar rate, and I 
know they can handle business accounts like yours, I think information 
like that might have more practical value. In the meantime, I won't try 
to micromanage the work of our financial professionals without having 
clear options for improvement ready to suggest.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Banners are too bright, too long

2012-12-03 Thread Michael Snow

On 12/3/2012 12:25 PM, Thomas Dalton wrote:

On 3 December 2012 20:11, Pavel Richter pavel.rich...@wikimedia.de wrote:

the thing we are selling to people As I see it, we are not *selling
*anything.
Wikimedia provides a free encyclopedia to the public, and it promotes Free
Knowledge worldwide. For this, we ask for donations, during a limited time
each year, and with very humble messaging and banners. We do not have to be
ashamed to do so.

The difference between fundraising and sales is pretty small - both
are about convincing people to part with their cash. We have to
convince people that donating money to us is a good idea in exactly
the same way a company needs to convince people that buying their
product is a good idea - you do that by emphasising your key selling
points. In our case, being ad-free is one of our key selling points,
which is the point Mono was making.
Even if it's fair to equate fundraising banners with advertising, that 
only holds up as an argument for keeping the fundraiser as brief as 
possible. Once you accept that there will be such banners (and I believe 
we have, at least provisionally), it does not actually follow that the 
use of editorial principles from advertising is undesirable, which is 
essentially where this discussion started.


Take, for example, the objection on account of the painfully bright 
banner colors. There is a well-established tradition in 
advertising-supported publication, one that long predates the internet, 
that considers it desirable to maintain a clear distinction between 
advertising and editorial content. Those who value this tradition 
tend to object strongly when advertising is designed in a way that blurs 
this distinction, aesthetically or otherwise. And yet, one of the 
concessions we keep pushing for from our fundraising is that it somehow 
merge into the background and not call attention to itself as being 
different from the rest of the site. To be honest, compared to past 
fundraisers, one of my reactions when I saw these banners was to think, 
I don't find them especially attractive, but at least I can tell them 
apart from Wikipedia at a glance. From this perspective, that's an 
improvement on designs where the layout and color scheme is actually too 
integrated with the site, and the banner is just an overgrown site 
notice that could just as easily be informing me of some downtime for 
scheduled maintenance, or giving me some notification on my watchlist.


That's not to say that I necessarily agree with all of the decisions 
that went into the current banners as to aesthetics or content. But I 
also don't have the expertise or all of the data that's behind those 
decisions, which is why I tend to reach a similar conclusion as Ziko. I 
trust that the fundraising team will attempt to balance all of these 
considerations, that they do listen to the concerns people have, and 
that they will make the best choices they can in light of the 
information available. Keeping that in mind usually helps me as I 
reflect on whether my own concerns are merely matters of personal taste 
or something more important.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fwd: [WikiEN-l] Improving dialogue between editors and tech people

2012-10-26 Thread Michael Snow

On 10/26/2012 1:49 PM, JP Béland wrote:

I read a while back something saying that no article on Wikipedia
belongs to anybody, meaning that despite how much you contributed to
it, anybody else is also entitled (for lack of a better term) to
modify it and contribute to it. I would like to see that policy or
way of seeing things expanded to the Wikis themselves. When reading
things like my wiki, it seems like we are incorporating a sense of
possession in the way we see things. I mean, after all, Wikipedia
really belong to its readers, not its contributors anyway. I guess
it's more rhetoric than anything...
That's true, but it deals with a separate problem. When we say that 
nobody owns a Wikipedia article, it's because people may be doing things 
to take possession of it (editing), but we all must be willing to share 
ownership with everyone else. In the context of encouraging dialogue 
between groups that rarely interact, the issue is not that too many 
people are claiming ownership, but that nobody is. These people may have 
the same ideals, but it's asking them to occupy a new and unfamiliar 
workspace that they may not have the time or attention for. It's the 
difference between a toy that all the children want to play with (and 
end up fighting over), and the lonely and neglected toy in the corner 
that none of them show any interest in.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Question for Board

2012-10-24 Thread Michael Snow

On 10/24/2012 3:38 PM, James Salsman wrote:

The Funds Dissemination Committee was originally proposed by Sue to
the board with explicit support for both groups and individuals,[1]
but at some point after, all mention of individual editors was
removed.[2]

Could someone please say whether this was the decision of the board,
someone else's decision, or a mistake? I ask because I have reason to
believe that about 18% of English Wikipedia administrators are living
below the poverty line, and it seems that support for such individual
editors is reasonable. Local fire departments and the International
Red Cross both have paid personnel and volunteer staff working
alongside each other without any motivational crowding.

[1] 
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Funds_Dissemination_Committee/Draft_FDC_Proposal_for_the_Board#Application_process_and_timeline
[2] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/FDC_portal/Eligibility_criteria
I suspect you may have formed for yourself a rather different conception 
of the proposed system than what was actually contemplated. To your 
first footnote, I find it strange that you would focus on the section 
headed Application process and timeline for an eligibility question 
when there's a section immediately above it regarding eligibility, and 
that section is exclusively about groups (entities), not individuals. 
The page in your second footnote is pretty clearly an expansion of that 
eligibility section, so it's not surprising if they're consistent with 
each other.


If I understand things correctly, anything in the FDC materials that 
refers to individuals receiving funds should probably be interpreted as 
referring to the Wikimedia grants program, which does invite individual 
applicants and will continue on as far as I'm aware. The grants program 
as a whole would naturally be under the purview of the FDC, but that's 
at another level of the process, so individuals wouldn't be directly 
participating in the FDC process in that sense.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Should we lock StrategyWiki?

2012-08-11 Thread Michael Snow

On 8/11/2012 8:05 PM, Mono wrote:

Should we lock StrategyWiki as historical?

Some options:

A) Prevent all editing and keep content at current address.
B) Restrict editing to admins and keep content at current address.
C) Move content to Meta and mark as historical, lock editing.
D) Move content to Meta and leave it open.
E) Do nothing.
I don't favor locking it. We will need to update the strategic plan in a 
couple years. The original plan was intended to last through 2015, and I 
think the next planning process will need to start no later than 2014 
(to say nothing of interim updates to the current plan).


I wouldn't mind having the content migrate to Meta. I know there were 
well-considered reasons why the strategy wiki and various others were 
created as separate sites, but I'd like to see us do that more as 
dedicated spaces within a common site.


As to marking content as historical, I'm not sure that's really the best 
use of the material. Many strategic questions do not really go away, and 
they can and should be revisited as part of the next planning process. I 
would favor refactoring and merging, it should become a living space 
again, not an archive.


--Michael Snow


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] CSBS 2012 - Results

2012-05-18 Thread Michael Snow

On 5/18/2012 8:16 AM, Béria Lima wrote:

Hello!

We have a result! The polls closed a few hours ago and I've already
counted the votes. The chapters have, by voting, selected the following
candidates to serve on the WMF board:

* Patricio Lorente
* Alice Wiegand

*Patricio Lorente* (User:Patricio.lorente) is the current President of
Wikimedia Argentina. He had worked as Project Manager of the Association
for Social Development in Argentina. At present, he serves as General
ProSecretary of the National University of La Plata.

*Alice Wiegand* (User:Lyzzy) is an IT specialist for system
administration in the public sector. She currently run the IT department of
a German municipality with 450 PC workstations. In April she will start her
Master’s studies in Public Policy and Governance.

I also would like to thanks Arne and Phoebe for the job they did over the
last two and half years, all the candidates for all the work they put into
the elections and everyone who participated in the process by nominating
a candidate, asking questions of candidates or taking part in your
chapter's decision on who to vote for.

Thanks and congratulations to all concerned!

In the case of Patricio and Alice, that means thank you for being 
willing to serve, and congratulations on being selected. They are both 
wonderful people who I believe can do a great job on the board. I am 
pleased that the chapters' process for nominating board members brought 
out a number of fine candidates this year. I could have been similarly 
happy to see one of several other candidates chosen as well, which is 
good. But I couldn't have been *more* happy, because Patricio and Alice 
are such excellent choices.


In the case of Phoebe and Arne, that means thank you for the great work 
you have done and the often unacknowledged effort that required, and 
congratulations on the newfound freedom you will soon have. (Though I 
can assure you that this freedom will disappear so fast you won't even 
realize it was there, as it fills up with new tasks and 
responsibilities.) I don't think the chapters could have selected anyone 
better than Phoebe to replace me, just as they couldn't have chosen 
anyone better than Alice and Patricio to replace Arne and Phoebe. That's 
important because the new board members will have big shoes to fill. At 
least their names have already filled the same initials, A and P - that 
seems like a happy omen to me.


In the case of the chapters and those who moderated the process, that 
means thank you for your thoughtful deliberations, and congratulations 
on completing this in a timely manner. I think the way they have handled 
this is a reflection of the increasing maturity of the chapters 
collectively. That is one of many positive developments in this area, 
which is much-needed and has been an important area of emphasis for the 
movement lately. It has not always been easy, but we are making 
progress. I feel that successes like this validate my desire initially 
to have the chapters participate directly in the selection of board members.


--Michael Snow

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Office hours reminder

2012-05-02 Thread Michael Snow

On 5/2/2012 10:25 AM, Nathan wrote:

On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 1:10 PM, Riskerrisker...@gmail.com  wrote:

Have to say that the last several office hours (of varying nature) have all
been during business/school hours in the Americas - and in some cases for
(western) Europe/Africa as well - and the ones on the current schedule are
all pretty much in the middle of business hours for these regions.  When so
many office hours are occurring within the same narrow time window, it
really limits the potential participation group to the same people all the
time, and risks becoming a walled garden.  Please consider a more diverse
window for office hours in the future. And no, I don't expect that every
office hour be during a time that I'm available, but there's only been one
(out of fifteen) that occurred during the period where Wikimedians are most
active.

That's a good point (that I think has been made and partially addressed in
the past), and I don't to detract from it at all, but let's also note the
difficulty of scheduling off-hours office hours for WMF staff members -
they participate during their own work day, which for US-based staff of
course means business hours in the Americas range.
Also a good point. That being said, as I understand it the office staff 
are generally allowed a fairly flexible schedule, rather than being 
locked into specific hours like a 9-to-5 workday. So I'd consider it a 
generous gesture if some of them would occasionally use that flexibility 
to arrange for IRC office hours to take place in other time windows.


--Michael Snow

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