[Wikimedia-l] Politics

2017-02-02 Thread Yair Rand
The Wikimedia movement is both global and very ideologically diverse, and
has many contributors who have strong opinions in one direction or another
on certain political issues facing their area of the world. Many of these
contributors find it difficult to avoid using Wikimedia forums and
institutions to discuss or advocate for issues they feel very strongly
about. Recently, political advocacy on Wikimedia forums has risen
substantially, especially on this mailing list.

While I sympathize with the difficulties these contributors face in
remaining silent, it is important to consider the substantial damage such
actions can cause to the movement. We will be much worse off if half of any
given country's political spectrum can no longer cooperate in our mission
due to compunctions against supporting a community which hosts those who
use the community to advocate for positions that some may find
unacceptable. The issue of inadvertently alienating participants because of
politics has a self-reinforcing element: As we lose contributors
representing ideological areas, we have fewer willing to advocate for an
environment which allows them to participate without being bombarded by
hostile political advocacy. We are precariously close to the point of no
return on this, but I am optimistic that the situation is recoverable.

As an initial measure, I propose adding the names of a certain country's
top political leaders to this list's spam filter. More generally, I think a
stricter stance on avoiding political advocacy on Wikimedia projects is
warranted.

We face a somewhat more difficult situation with the Wikimedia Foundation
itself. Partly as a result of being relatively localized within a
geographic area and further limited to several professions, I suspect the
Foundation tends to be more politically/ideologically homogeneous. With the
WMF, we risk much more than just alienating much of the world, we risk our
Neutrality.

How far we must go to maintain neutrality has been a contentious issue over
the years. Existential threats have twice been responded to with major
community action, each with large prior discussion. (SOPA included an
extensive discussion and a poll with more than 500 respondents.) A previous
ED committed to firing everyone but part of the Ops team rather than accept
advertising, should lack of funds require it. (Whether to let the WMF die
outright rather than accept ads is as of yet unresolved.) More recently,
the WMF has taken limited actions and stances on public policy that
directly relate to the mission. A careful balance has been established
between maintaining essential neutrality and dealing with direct threats to
the projects.

Three days ago, the WMF put out a statement on the Wikimedia blog
explicitly urging a specific country to modify its refugee policy, an area
that does not relate to our goals. There was no movement-wide prior
discussion, or any discussion at all as far as I can tell.

It is the responsibility of the Board at this point to set a policy to
place firm restrictions on which areas the WMF can take positions. While we
value the important contributions of the staff, they should not be able to
override our commitment to neutrality. Our donors, editors, and other
volunteers do not contribute so that resources and influence can be spent
towards whatever political causes are popular within the WMF.

It is the responsibility of the community to ensure that our projects
remain apolitical. A neutral point of view is impossible if participating
requires a certain political position.

It is the responsibility of the mailing list administration and moderators
to act against this list's rapid slide into unreadability.

Thank you.

-- Yair Rand
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Politics

2017-02-05 Thread Yair Rand
When and how the Wikimedia Foundation should associate itself publicly on
policy and political issues is not a new topic, and (as I have quite
recently discovered) official guidelines have been around for nearly five
years now. The Guidelines on Foundation Policy and Political Association
[1], established by WMF Legal for internal use, specifically bring up the
issue of "public endorsement or critique" of political policies, listing
several requirements for doing so, and further requiring that they "should
protect and advance Wikimedia’s mission “to empower and engage people
around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free
license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and
globally.” Accordingly, we will not support causes unrelated to or
inconsistent with that mission." The document goes on to list several
examples such as anti-war activism and animal rights.

I think this is an excellent and necessary policy.

The recent blog post says "We strongly urge the U.S. administration to
withdraw the recent executive order ... closing the doors to many
refugees." I have yet to hear any arguments regarding how that statement
specifically protects and advances our mission.

I have, on the other hand, heard on this list many arguments by people
explaining reasons why they feel very strongly that actions must be taken
against a certain country's administration, about how they expect that many
expected policies on general issues will cause harm in areas that they
value. Areas that are not directly related to our mission.

I can imagine that some may feel that certain areas of immigration and
travel policy may be so closely associated to Wikimedia's functioning that
action on that front must be taken. I would expect such an issue to be
discussed independently of the personal political wishes of those arguing.
If decisions are made on the basis that the only relevant issue is whether
any action would further Wikimedia's goals, I would trust that such
decisions were sufficiently reasonable.

However, if that is not the basis used, and some in the community and WMF
are willing to have their own independent individual values and goals
override those of the movement, to harm Wikimedia goals to support their
own political goals... I would find it very difficult to support such a
decision. I don't mean to speak too harshly, but the united goals and
vision of the movement are the _only_ thing that holds this diverse
community together, the only means by which Wikimedia exists, and if
outside aims can take priority, we would likely find that many would not
appreciate some using Wikimedia as yet another bullet in someone's arsenal
to be sacrificed in a political crusade, to say the least.

"Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It
is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to
learn, to share our knowledge with others."

Please let us keep it that way.

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Legal/Foundation_Policy_
and_Political_Association_Guideline
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcing the Foundation's challenge to recent U.S. immigration executive order

2017-02-06 Thread Yair Rand
On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 12:20 PM, Mike Godwin <mnemo...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Yair Rand writes:
>
> > I find it difficult to believe that this situation is so critical
> > and urgent that an RfC in advance was impossible, so if it does fall
> under
> > that section, the policy was yet again violated.
>
> I don't find it difficult at all to believe time was of the essence,
> but, then, I'm an attorney who's worked for many years on
> collaborative efforts, including but not limited to legal action.
>
> I grant, of course, that your experience with doing legal and
> public-policy assessments may be different. But if your view is that
> either the Board of Trustees or WMF staff cannot be trusted to make
> these assessments, then I urge you to explain in more depth why you
> think this is so.
>
> My own experience has been that quite often the Board or the WMF staff
> have to make quick decisions, especially when the timeline for
> decision-making is not in WMF's control. Certainly I often was called
> upon to make decisions on behalf of WMF and the Wikimedia movement on
> timelines that made consultation with Wikimedia-l or with committees
> and affiliated organizations unworkable. I hope you don't find that
> difficult to believe.
>
> Please assume good faith.
>

You're completely right. I failed to assume good faith, and it is certainly
possible that there was no time to conduct an RfC. My apologies.

I would still like confirmation of whether it was in fact an urgent
situation, however. Further, the requirement for consultation with the
Public Policy Advisory Group does not allow for bypassing in time-sensitive
situations, so further explanation is required.

Thank you.

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

2017-02-05 Thread Yair Rand
Would this action fall under "Collaborative advocacy" in the Foundation
Policy and Political Association Guideline? The section refers to
"collaborat[ing] with another organization to take action on a particular
policy or political question". The example given is signing a petition by
the EFF against Internet censorship. The required steps include (among
other requirements) consultation with the Public Policy Advisory Group,
along with getting consensus in a broader RfC except where time does not
permit. I find it difficult to believe that this situation is so critical
and urgent that an RfC in advance was impossible, so if it does fall under
that section, the policy was yet again violated. Frankly, I don't believe
that an RfC would pass in the first place. If you've been following the
earlier thread, you may be aware that there is increasing alarm at the risk
of the movement being hijacked by political interests, and this new action
is not helping matters.

This was a unilateral political actions in a sensitive area without prior
discussion. The Guideline does say that the WMF may deviate from the policy
if specifically approved by the General Council, although I don't know why
deviating would be warranted here. Was this done here? Who was involved in
the decision? Was the Board consulted, as suggested by the guidelines
(although as an "Optional" step)? Or was it simply considered to not fall
under the policy at all? Is the guideline still in effect, or was it
eliminated or changed without the document on Meta being updated?

The amicus brief specifically challenges the refugee suspension, among
other areas. Is this topic considered to be within the WMF's goals, or was
bringing the WMF into an irrelevant political battle considered simply an
unavoidable side-effect in the effort to protect WMF operations by means of
national political intervention?

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Legal/Foundation_Policy_and_Political_
Association_Guideline#Collaborative_Advocacy

On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 1:10 AM, Michelle Paulson 
wrote:

> Dear All,
>
> Today, the Wikimedia Foundation joined with more than 90 other
> organizations in filing an amicus brief[1] in State of Washington v.
> Trump[2]
> currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States.
> This case challenges the recent executive order[3] issued in the United
> States on January 27, 2017, which establishes immigration and travel
> restrictions based on country of origin. Other signatories to the brief
> include Facebook, Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft, Mozilla, and Paypal. The
> brief includes legal arguments against the order itself, and details the
> real and immediate impact these restrictions will have on the Wikimedia
> Foundation and other signatories’ staff, users, customers, and operations.
> We expect it to be filed in other current and future cases challenging the
> order, as appropriate.
>
> We know that the Foundation’s prior statement[4] on this executive order
> has generated debate in the communities, on mailing lists and in other
> forums. Some disapprove, with concern that the Foundation has taken a
> political stance on behalf of the movement. Others approve, with concerns
> about the impact of this order on the practicalities and values of open
> collaboration and sharing. We would like to clarify our perspective on this
> important issue.
>
> From our perspective, the implications of this order - and the urgency of
> our response - are clear. Beyond the issue of the values of open
> collaboration, this order will also have serious, tangible effects on the
> Foundation and our ability to support the Wikimedia projects and
> communities.
>
> From an operational standpoint, orders such as these may substantially
> limit our ability to deliver on support for the global Wikimedia
> communities. Much of the Foundation's work involves travel across borders.
> We cross borders to develop and sustain strategic partnerships with
> Wikimedia affiliates and free knowledge advocates. We travel to gatherings
> and hackathons to support and collaborate with Wikimedians around the
> world. We represent Wikimedia research and methodologies at conferences
> with librarians and scientists from across the globe. We meet with
> community leaders and board members internationally to exercise corporate
> and community governance and execute strategic oversight.
>
> As the Foundation, we have an obligation to protect the Wikimedia projects
> and ensure that they thrive in perpetuity. We are not a political
> organization, but we are passionate about defending free knowledge, and the
> conditions for its flourishing. We believe that the immigration and travel
> restrictions posed by the executive order in question will have a
> detrimental impact on the Foundation's mission and operations, as people
> are unable to enter the United States or restricted from leaving because
> they may not be allowed to return home. 

[Wikimedia-l] More politics: "WMF Annual Report"

2017-03-01 Thread Yair Rand
An unscheduled CentralNotice just started running, linking to a rather
bizarre page [1]. Purporting to be the WMF's 2016 Annual Report, it starts
off with some text about refugees. "FACT: Half of refugees are school-age",
followed by some completely unencyclopedic text about the topic: "That
means 10 million children are away from their homes, their communities, and
their traditional education. Each refugee child’s experience is unique, but
every single one loses time from their important learning years. Many of
them face the added pressure of being surrounded by new languages and
cultures." The linked page goes on to detail some of Wikimedia's vision and
how Wikimedia projects aid refugee populations. Following that, we have an
entire page on climate change and some of its effects, similarly written in
a style that is not befitting the movement: "In 2015, [Wikimedian Andreas
Weith] photographed starving polar bears in the Arctic. As the ice
declines, so does their ability to find food. “It’s heartbreaking,” he
says." After all that, we finally have some pages on interesting statistics
about Wikimedia, mixed in with some general odd facts about the world,
followed by a call to donate. There are also letters from the ED and
founder linked.

So, this could be a mix of coincidence and bad stylistic choices, and not
politically motivated at all, but it is getting increasingly hard to assume
good faith on this, especially with the blog post a month ago specifically
calling for a change in refugee policy.

Using Wikimedia projects to push politics is not okay. If the WMF does not
accept this, I suspect many projects will simply block CentralNotices,
avoid associating with WMF statements, and quite possibly fork/leave.

This is a serious problem.

-- Yair Rand

[1] https://annual.wikimedia.org/2016/?pk_campaign=
WikiBanners_kwd=AR2016_dsk_short
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] More politics: "WMF Annual Report"

2017-03-07 Thread Yair Rand
Risker has outlined many of the issues with the report much better than I
would have been able to. While I'm happy to hear there will be some
reordering and that one of the images will be replaced, the report still
has many very serious problems.

How can we fix this? I can think of a few options:
* The report could be made open to edits from the community. (I was hopeful
when the report was posted on Meta that it would be editable, but it was
apparently posted primarily for translation purposes and is not editable.)
Over the course of a few weeks much of the content could be rewritten to be
close enough to neutral.
* We could continue discussing specific problems in tone and focus, errors,
and general issues with the report here on this mailing list or on Meta
while the relevant people implement fixes and rewrites (hopefully in a
transparent manner), including the large content changes/replacements
required.
* The entire "Consider the facts" section could be removed/replaced. The
rest of the report probably could stand on its own, but that may not be
ideal. I don't know whether rewriting it from scratch is doable, or whether
there may be relevant time constraints here.

I'd like to reiterate the seriousness of displaying non-Wikimedia-related
political advocacy over Wikimedia projects. Many editors work very hard at
removing any biases in articles. To have a huge banner placed over every
article on the whole project linking to 43px-font blatant political
advocacy which can't be reverted, is really damaging.

-- Yair Rand

On Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 1:41 AM, Risker <risker...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Well, Erik...I really don't think my personal beliefs have a role in this
> discussion, except as they very narrowly apply to the Wikimedia mission,
> vision and "values". That's actually one of my issues with this report - it
> reads as though it's been written by a bunch of well-paid, talented people
> who've been given rein to express personal and cultural beliefs unrelated
> to Wikimedia.  And my personal belief in relation to that is that this
> annual report has positioned political advocacy far ahead of the mission
> and vision of the movement, starting with the selection and ordering of the
> "facts".  Let's go through them one by one.
>
> The focus on the value of education is an entirely valid, even necessary,
> part of the annual report; it is entirely central to our mission.  The
> focus on refugees is out of place, though.  The fact that there is a single
> page on one WMF-hosted site that links to a refugee handbook created by
> other groups that include some Wikimedians (and the support of WMDE, which
> we all know is NOT the same thing as the WMF) isn't justification for
> making  "REFUGEES!1!!!11!" a big headline.  It's peripheral to the
> educational activities of the WMF, and ignores or downplays many of the
> actual WMF-supported initiatives. There's something wrong when the WMF is
> so busy touting someone else's project that it forgets to talk about its
> own.  But why show a bunch of Uruguayan kids actually using Wikipedia, when
> you can make a political statement using a photo of very adorable refugee
> children who, generally speaking, aren't accessing any WMF projects?
>
> Am I impressed by Andreas' images?  of course!  Look at the amazing iceberg
> images [featured image example at 1] - which illustrate climate change
> issues much better than the photo of a starving polar bear.  We don't
> actually know why that bear is dying - is he sick or injured, the most
> common cause of wild animal deaths? Has he consumed (anthropogenic) harmful
> chemicals or materials such as plastic wastes - increasingly common in
> arctic animals?  Or did he miss the ever-narrowing migration window to the
> prey-rich northern arctic ice fields (due to climate change)?  We can't be
> sure.  But we can be a lot more sure that the iceberg images are
> illustrating something that can be linked more directly to climate change.
> Of course, nobody is getting a lump in their throat by looking at icebergs;
> it's not any where near as good an emotional button-presser that a dying
> animal is.   There's also the trick of referring to "the hottest year on
> record" instead of giving the *whole* truth, which is it is the hottest
> year since these types of records started being kept beginning just a few
> hundred years ago - and it's that long only if you count all types of
> record keeping.  Yes, it's much more impressive to imply that we're talking
> about all of history rather than just the last few centuries.  A lot of
> people reading this list have been creating articles for years; we know
> those tricks too. And none of this explains why climate change is even a
> factor in the Wikimedia Foundation Annual Report.  It 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] New Wikimedia Foundation has soft launched!

2018-08-01 Thread Yair Rand
The new website highlights "Advocacy" as one of the three areas that the
Foundation deals with, along with Research and Technology. From the page
linked, it promotes the WMF's misguided and unauthorized venture into
trying to influence US immigration law, now claiming it to be something the
WMF does "routinely". These statements do not belong on the WMF website.

(Also, there is no longer any way to inform people responsible for the site
about errors, like "do not write you own bio". Or the fact that the header
is in German, despite saying that the page is in English.)

Is there any intention to have somewhere where edits can be at least
proposed?

-- Yair Rand

2018-08-01 21:51 GMT-04:00 Gregory Varnum :

> Hello,
>
> After many months of work by over 100 individuals around the organization
> and movement, the Wikimedia Foundation's new website soft launched this
> week!
>
> You can check it out for yourself here (you may need to clear your
> browser's cache):  https://wikimediafoundation.org/
>
>
> So what comes next?
>
> Throughout this week, the Communications department and core website team
> will be doing final tweaks and quality assurance testing in preparations
> for translations.
>
> Over the coming weeks we will be working with affiliates and contributors
> around the world to make the site in available in Arabic, Chinese, French,
> German, Russian, and Spanish - in addition to the English version soft
> launched today. Once the translations are completed, we will be doing a
> more public announcement regarding the new website and begin more formally
> implementing usage of it.
>
> Additionally, we will be holding office hours in the coming weeks.
>
>
> What about the old website?
>
> The old website (aka Foundation Wiki) will be given new life in the coming
> weeks as the Wikimedia Foundation Governance Wiki - where it will continue
> to house important documentation for the Wikimedia Foundation like
> policies, board resolutions and minutes, legal documents, etc. Additional
> information on the changes coming to that wiki and the plans for migrating
> archived content to Meta-Wiki will be available in the coming weeks.
>
>
> What else should I know?
>
> There is a lot of great things about this new website we are excited to
> share with all of you! More information about office hours will available
> in the coming weeks. Until then, we encourage you to take a look and
> contact me directly if you find any bugs, typos, or have any comments.
>
>
> Thank you!
>
> The Communications department greatly appreciates all of the discussions,
> work, and patience everyone has put into this gigantic undertaking. We are
> very close to the finish line, and today marks a significant step which was
> only possible with the help of the 100+ people involved.
>
> On behalf of the Communications department and core website team (Heather,
> Zack, Katherine, Mel, and Greg),
>
> -greg
>
> ---
> Gregory Varnum
> Communications Strategist
> Wikimedia Foundation
> gvar...@wikimedia.org
> Pronouns: He/Him/His
>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] New Wikimedia Foundation has soft launched!

2018-08-05 Thread Yair Rand
There are several more issues I've noticed with the new website:
* According to the notice at the bottom, the company "Automattic Inc." is
receiving all sorts of data about all visitors to the site, including
location information, cookie data, data from pixel tags/web beacons used to
track visitors and target ads on other WordPress sites, and other data.
* The "non-wiki privacy policy of the Wikimedia Foundation" linked at the
bottom is different than the regular privacy policy. Why is this?
* Much of the content is essentially English-Wikipedia-only. "Visit The
Teahouse for a friendly place to learn about editing" Most Wikipedias don't
have teahouses or equivalents.
* In "Wikimedia projects": "Wikipedia - All the world's knowledge". See
[[Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information]].
* "Working with partners like Google, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and
UNESCO, Wikimedia...". I don't think most Wikimedians are okay with the WMF
describing Google as among its partners. Nor the Met or UNESCO, for that
matter.
* In the "Technology" section, there's a paragraph devoted to bragging
about how NASA has an internal Mediawiki wiki. I don't think that belongs
there.
* The actual Wikimedia Foundation Mission is kind of buried deep in the
site. The Mission is the definitive version of what the WMF is supposed to
be doing, and I really think it should be highlighted somewhere in a more
prominent position.

"The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people
around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free
license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and
globally.

In collaboration with a network of chapters, the Wikimedia Foundation
provides the essential infrastructure and an organizational framework for
the support and development of multilingual wiki projects and other
endeavors which serve this mission. The Foundation will make and keep
useful information from its projects available on the Internet free of
charge, in perpetuity."

-- Yair Rand

2018-08-03 17:12 GMT-04:00 Andy Mabbett :

> On 2 August 2018 at 02:51, Gregory Varnum  wrote:
>
> > You can check it out for yourself here (you may need to clear your
> browser's cache):  https://wikimediafoundation.org/
>
> The home page currently says:
>
>" Everything on a Wikimedia site is available as Creative Commons
> material. "
>
> That is not true. Material includes:
>
> * PD content (copyright expires; US government, etc)
> * Fair-use copyright material.
>
> In the latter case, suggesting otherwise could be harmful to our users.
>
>
> Furthermore, the "Sesame Street" image used on the site's home page
> and the linked article, is labelled on Commons: "This work might not
> be available under a free license in the United States because it is
> based on an artwork or sculpture that may be protected by copyright
> under U.S. law."
>
> --
> Andy Mabbett
> @pigsonthewing
> http://pigsonthewing.org.uk
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF and non-WMF funding for Wikimedia work

2018-09-05 Thread Yair Rand
I'm sorry, my understanding of how Grants are supposed to work was
incorrect. From the board FAQ on the FDC resolution: "The GAC [Grant
Advisory Committee], or something like it, will also need to exist even
when the FDC is up and running, to handle smaller and less complex grants."
There does not appear to be any intention to hand over responsibility for
small grants to the FDC or other non-WMF body. Which leaves us back at the
start, with no existing way to avoid WMF influence or interference in
grants.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 4 בספט׳ 2018 ב-2:01 מאת ‪Yair Rand‬‏ <‪yyairr...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> As far as I can tell, the way that this is supposed to work is for there
> to be no WMF influence on funds distribution.
>
> "We affirm that all funds given to the Wikimedia movement are given in
> support of our global projects... funds raised via the Wikimedia project
> sites should be considered to be movement money, not the entitlement of a
> particular organization or stakeholder. Decision-making about funds
> dissemination should be broad and inclusive, consistent with our mission,
> vision and values. ... To support a broader and more inclusive
> decision-making process for funds distribution, the Wikimedia Foundation
> will create a volunteer-driven body (working title: the Funds Dissemination
> Committee, or FDC) whose sole purpose will be to make recommendations to
> the Wikimedia Foundation for funding activities and initiatives in support
> of the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. All funds raised via the
> Wikimedia project sites will be distributed via the recommendations of the
> FDC, with the exception of Wikimedia Foundation core operating costs and
> the operating reserve as described above." -- Board of Trustees,
> [[wmf:Resolution:Funds Dissemination Committee]]
>
> Where are we on this? Since the 2015-16 annual plan the WMF hasn't been
> filling out its FDC applications (to regular objections every annual plan
> review and FDC election), and the Grants process pages on Meta are
> prominently labeled "Wikimedia Foundation Grants". I'm having difficulty
> finding out how the various Grants systems are run, but the IEG final
> decisions are apparently made by WMF staff, and the FDC doesn't seem to be
> directly involved in those?
>
> I haven't found any retraction of the original board resolution, so I
> assume that the current situation is a temporary setup until whatever
> remaining obstacles are dealt with and the FDC is capable of fulfilling its
> mandate. (I don't know what these obstacles might be. I think it would be
> helpful if the WMF and/or Board would comment on this.) Although the WMF,
> for the duration, appears to act as though it's their money to distribute
> and makes many of the relevant decisions, that appears not to be the
> (eventual) intended process.
>
> (My apologies if some of this is inaccurate. The pages on Meta aren't well
> organized, and it's hard to get a coherent picture of how things work.)
>
> (Also, FWIW, I really think it would be a bad idea to directly fund
> content creation or Signpost support.)
>
> -- Yair Rand
>
> ‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 3 בספט׳ 2018 ב-22:07 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪wiki.p...@gmail.com
> ‬‏>:‬
>
>> I apologize for the unusually large load of typos, especially misspelling
>> Kaarel's name. Usually I get enough sleep but last night I didn't.
>> Apparently my attention to detail is diminished.
>>
>> I'm rapidly spending my Wikimedia-l quota of 15 emails per calendar month,
>> so if there is extensive discussion on this topic then I may ask that we
>> move the conversation to a wiki page.
>>
>> Regards,
>>
>> Pine
>> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
>>
>>
>> On Mon, Sep 3, 2018 at 9:02 PM Pine W  wrote:
>>
>> > Hello colleagues,
>> >
>> > A topic which I feel that I should address again on this mailing list is
>> > revenue for Wikimedia work, specifically WMF and non-WMF sources of
>> revenue.
>> >
>> > I will start by talking about my personal situation, and then discuss
>> some
>> > related situations.
>> >
>> > I am currently requesting a grant from WMF. I cannot afford afford to
>> work
>> > on this project in a sustainable way without funding, and I feel that I
>> am
>> > making a request that is reasonably aligned with market rates for
>> someone
>> > with my current level of skills and knowledge, but I feel conflicted
>> about
>> > requesting funding from WMF because of the potential for difficulties
>> > between WMF and the community, especially because of the potential that
>> 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF and non-WMF funding for Wikimedia work

2018-09-04 Thread Yair Rand
As far as I can tell, the way that this is supposed to work is for there to
be no WMF influence on funds distribution.

"We affirm that all funds given to the Wikimedia movement are given in
support of our global projects... funds raised via the Wikimedia project
sites should be considered to be movement money, not the entitlement of a
particular organization or stakeholder. Decision-making about funds
dissemination should be broad and inclusive, consistent with our mission,
vision and values. ... To support a broader and more inclusive
decision-making process for funds distribution, the Wikimedia Foundation
will create a volunteer-driven body (working title: the Funds Dissemination
Committee, or FDC) whose sole purpose will be to make recommendations to
the Wikimedia Foundation for funding activities and initiatives in support
of the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. All funds raised via the
Wikimedia project sites will be distributed via the recommendations of the
FDC, with the exception of Wikimedia Foundation core operating costs and
the operating reserve as described above." -- Board of Trustees,
[[wmf:Resolution:Funds Dissemination Committee]]

Where are we on this? Since the 2015-16 annual plan the WMF hasn't been
filling out its FDC applications (to regular objections every annual plan
review and FDC election), and the Grants process pages on Meta are
prominently labeled "Wikimedia Foundation Grants". I'm having difficulty
finding out how the various Grants systems are run, but the IEG final
decisions are apparently made by WMF staff, and the FDC doesn't seem to be
directly involved in those?

I haven't found any retraction of the original board resolution, so I
assume that the current situation is a temporary setup until whatever
remaining obstacles are dealt with and the FDC is capable of fulfilling its
mandate. (I don't know what these obstacles might be. I think it would be
helpful if the WMF and/or Board would comment on this.) Although the WMF,
for the duration, appears to act as though it's their money to distribute
and makes many of the relevant decisions, that appears not to be the
(eventual) intended process.

(My apologies if some of this is inaccurate. The pages on Meta aren't well
organized, and it's hard to get a coherent picture of how things work.)

(Also, FWIW, I really think it would be a bad idea to directly fund content
creation or Signpost support.)

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 3 בספט׳ 2018 ב-22:07 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪wiki.p...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> I apologize for the unusually large load of typos, especially misspelling
> Kaarel's name. Usually I get enough sleep but last night I didn't.
> Apparently my attention to detail is diminished.
>
> I'm rapidly spending my Wikimedia-l quota of 15 emails per calendar month,
> so if there is extensive discussion on this topic then I may ask that we
> move the conversation to a wiki page.
>
> Regards,
>
> Pine
> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
>
>
> On Mon, Sep 3, 2018 at 9:02 PM Pine W  wrote:
>
> > Hello colleagues,
> >
> > A topic which I feel that I should address again on this mailing list is
> > revenue for Wikimedia work, specifically WMF and non-WMF sources of
> revenue.
> >
> > I will start by talking about my personal situation, and then discuss
> some
> > related situations.
> >
> > I am currently requesting a grant from WMF. I cannot afford afford to
> work
> > on this project in a sustainable way without funding, and I feel that I
> am
> > making a request that is reasonably aligned with market rates for someone
> > with my current level of skills and knowledge, but I feel conflicted
> about
> > requesting funding from WMF because of the potential for difficulties
> > between WMF and the community, especially because of the potential that I
> > would be reluctant to express my views regarding WMF due to fear of
> losing
> > WMF funding. (I'm not linking to my grant request here because I don't
> want
> > this email to give the impression that I'm using this topic to ask for
> > community endorsements for my grant request.)
> >
> > Similarly, *The Signpost *is labor-intensive to produce, and I would like
> > for funding to be available for the more prolific *Signpost *contributors
> > so that they have a good reason to treat their labor for The Signpost as
> > part time jobs. However, it would be difficult to maintain the editorial
> > independence of *The Signpost *from WMF if the contributors (especially
> > contributors to the "News and Notes" and "In the Media" sections, and the
> > contributors who are responsible for the overall editing and publication
> of *The
> > Signpost*) received funding from WMF.
> >
> > The

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fram en.wp office yearlock block

2019-06-12 Thread Yair Rand
Philippe, the email from Trust & Safety said quite clearly that the ban was
triggered by edit 895438118. I assume that T would not lie about their
reasons for something like this.

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 11 ביוני 2019 ב-22:35 מאת ‪Philippe Beaudette‬‏ <‪
phili...@beaudette.me‬‏>:‬

> Nathan writes:
>
> *“Why are WMF staffers so*
>
> *deeply, fundamentally disconnected from the communities where they feel
> the*
> *right to ban people for saying "fuck arbcom"?”*
>
>
> I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case here and would be utterly
> shocked if a t staff member had indeed banned for saying that.
>
> If the situation is anything like what it was when I was at WMF, a ban such
> as this requires multiple levels of review by a couple of different teams
> (in my time, we would not have considered a ban such as this without sign
> off from the community and legal teams, for instance). I don’t know if the
> process is the same now but I would be surprised to hear that any single
> staff member would feel comfortable banning on his or her authority alone.
> Multiple levels of review exist in order to ensure that ban reasons are
> valid and appropriate.
>
> Philippe
>
> On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 6:55 PM Nathan  wrote:
>
> > Wow, what a cluster. How does the WMF get themselves into these things? I
> > have ten edits to en.wp since 2018 and even I could have 100% predicted
> the
> > entire spectrum, and scale, of the reaction here. Why are WMF staffers so
> > deeply, fundamentally disconnected from the communities where they feel
> the
> > right to ban people for saying "fuck arbcom"?
> >
> > On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 3:49 PM Todd Allen  wrote:
> >
> > > Amir, yes, ArbCom members must sign the WMF confidentiality agreement
> for
> > > nonpublic information (
> > >
> > >
> >
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Confidentiality_agreement_for_nonpublic_information
> > > )
> > > , as must all functionaries (checkuser, oversight, etc.). I was on the
> > > English Wikipedia ArbCom for two years, and it was routine for us to
> deal
> > > with sensitive, private information.
> > >
> > > Todd
> > >
> > > On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 9:46 AM Amir Sarabadani 
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > People who oppose the ban: Are you aware of all aspects and things
> Fram
> > > has
> > > > done? Do you have the full picture? It's really saddening to see how
> > fast
> > > > people jump to conclusion in page mentioned in the email. I
> personally,
> > > > don't know what happened so I neither can support or oppose the ban.
> As
> > > > simple as that.
> > > >
> > > > So what should be done IMO. If enwiki wants to know more, a community
> > > body
> > > > can ask for more information, if body satisfy two things:
> > > >  - They had signed NDA not to disclose the case
> > > >  - They are trusted by the community
> > > >
> > > > I think the only body can sorta work with this is stewards but not
> sure
> > > > (Does ArbCom NDA'ed?)
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 3:58 PM Paulo Santos Perneta <
> > > > paulospern...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > Lack of transparency from the WMF, whatelse is new.
> > > > > I'm currently under a funding ban secretly decided (by who?) based
> > on a
> > > > > false accusation, without providing any evidence. Until now I'm
> > waiting
> > > > for
> > > > > an explanation from the WMF. So, this sort of attitude doesn't
> > surprise
> > > > me
> > > > > at all.
> > > > > It is very unfortunate that the WMF apparently thrives in this kind
> > of
> > > > > medieval obscurity, the opposite of the values of the Wikimedia
> > > Movement.
> > > > > Matter for Roles & Reponsibilities.
> > > > >
> > > > > Best,
> > > > > Paulo
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > Benjamin Ikuta  escreveu no dia terça,
> > > > 11/06/2019
> > > > > à(s) 05:45:
> > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Thanks for this.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > I'm glad to see I'm not the only one dismayed by the
> unilateralism
> > > and
> > > > > > lack of transparency.
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > > On Jun 10, 2019, at 8:25 PM, Techman224 <
> techman...@techman224.ca>
> > > > > wrote:
> > > > > >
> > > > > > > Forwarding to WIkimedia-l since WikiEN-l is relatively dead.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > Since this message, an Arbcom member (SilkTork) stated that
> they
> > > > > weren't
> > > > > > consulted, nor did this action was the result of Arbcom
> forwarding
> > a
> > > > > > concern to the office. [1]
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > The only non-response excuse from the WMF [2] was that "local
> > > > > > communities consistently struggle to uphold not just their own
> > > > autonomous
> > > > > > rules but the Terms of Use, too.” even though there were no
> > > complaints
> > > > > > on-wiki nor to Arbcom privately.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > The on-wiki discussion is taking place at the Bureaucrats and
> the
> > > > > Arbcom
> > > > > > noticeboards.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > >
> > > >
> > >
> >
> 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Introducing Wikimedia Space: A space for movement news and conversations

2019-06-25 Thread Yair Rand
I'm getting so many red flags.

Established by WMF via secret (non-transparent) process, with no community
involvement? Non-wiki environment, with the same scope as existing wikis?
WMF-decided conduct policies? Every single moderator is a WMF employee?
Forum using closed groups, with non-transparent communication?
(Closed-source software, unless I'm mistaken?) So far outside Wikimedia
spaces that the only place it was even _announced_ was an off-wiki mailing
list?

Is there something the Wikimedia Foundation would like to tell us?

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 25 ביוני 2019 ב-14:56 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪wiki.p...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> Hi Maria,
>
> Thanks for this update.
>
> I hope that you can answer a question. I may be mistaken, but my impression
> is that the purposes that are outlined for Wikimedia Space are within the
> intended scopes of the Meta and Outreach wikis, as well as Wikimedia-l. I
> think that the community would be willing to consider design improvements
> and additional features for Meta and Outreach, such as calendar and map
> tools that are easy to use. Design improvements and additional features
> might also be welcome by third parties who use MediaWiki software and could
> eventually have the option to implement the changes on their own sites. Can
> you explain the decision to launch a new site instead of proposing design
> improvements and additional features for Meta and Outreach?
>
> Thank you,
>
> Pine
> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
> ___
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Introducing Wikimedia Space: A space for movement news and conversations

2019-06-25 Thread Yair Rand
‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 25 ביוני 2019 ב-18:02 מאת ‪Lucas Werkmeister‬‏ <‪
m...@lucaswerkmeister.de‬‏>:‬

> On 25.06.19 23:18, Yair Rand wrote:
> > So far outside Wikimedia
> > spaces that the only place it was even _announced_ was an off-wiki
> mailing
> > list?
>
> Where would you have announced it, then? I asked for a movement-wide
> announcement place a while ago in a different context [1] and got no
> satisfactory answer; the most popular one was wikimedia-l (this list),
> and the only on-wiki answers were “the village pumps” (i. e. scattered)
> – with the caveat that you should translate your message first, which
> doesn’t scale well. I’m not saying the Space shouldn’t have been
> announced anywhere else, but it certainly seems to me that there is a
> need for a space like it, and in particular I don’t understand why you
> criticize the choice of wikimedia-l for the initial announcement when
> there seems to be good consensus for it being a central movement
> announcement and discussion platform.
>
> [1]: https://twitter.com/LucasWerkmeistr/status/1107337860389265413


I would have publicly announced it at least on the place that it's trying
to replace: Meta-wiki.


> > Every single moderator is a WMF employee?
>
> There can hardly be many other moderators immediately after launch, but
> if you check the “trust levels and user rights” post [2], you’ll see
> that the software (Discourse) automatically promotes users based on
> certain criteria (similar to autoconfirmed status on-wiki), and the
> highest level seems in principle to be open to any user (though the
> criteria still have to be fleshed out, which to me seems reasonable at
> this stage.)
>
>
The outline ELappen (WMF) put up says explicitly that Wikimedia Space is
intended to be "A news and discussion space for the Wikimedia movement run
by Community Relations."

In the past, Wikimedia institutions have built things at the community's
request, with an clear "We set up the technical work, everything in it is
the community's responsibility now" message. This is pretty much the exact
opposite of that, especially since there already was a space that was
community-run with the same scope.

Moderation of communications is something the WMF does not run, period. The
perception that the WMF might think it can get involved in it is what led
to the current chaos on enwiki.

[2]:
>
> https://discuss-space.wmflabs.org/t/trust-levels-and-user-rights-in-wikimedia-space/89
>
> > Forum using closed groups, with non-transparent communication?
>
> This question is a bit too short for me to make sense of, sorry. Closed
> groups are not the default, so are you criticizing their mere existence?
> Do you want to claim that that closed groups are never, ever warranted?
> Because in my experience the claim at [3] that “[b]ecause on-wiki spaces
> don’t allow for [closed] collaboration, some volunteers have gravitated
> toward … other … platforms” is completely true.
>
> [3]: https://discuss-space.wmflabs.org/t/closed-groups/87
>
>
It is very deliberate that on-wiki spaces don't allow for closed
collaboration. Non-transparent activities is generally not accepted without
a very good reason.

> (Closed-source software, unless I'm mistaken?)
>
> Both WordPress and Discourse are free and open source software.
>
>
Last time the WMF set something up with WordPress, they did the whole thing
in private, failed to publish the source code for the custom theme for
months after launch, and also user violated privacy requirements by sharing
data with third parties by loading data from external websites. I see a new
website secretly set up with WordPress, a new tracker for the fact that
it's violating the privacy of every user by loading third-party resources
(T226559), and no mention anywhere of the publishing of the theme's source
code. It is, of course, perfectly possible that I just missed it, or that
there's no issue for some other reason.

Also there's no content license information anywhere. Or pages about dumps,
which would probably be necessary for allowing forking.

I don't understand how we got to the point where something like this isn't
even known about until after its launch. Or how it looks like everything
about it was built by the WMF. I don't understand what's going on in there.
It's quite concerning.

-- Yair Rand


> Cheers,
> Lucas
>
> >
> > Is there something the Wikimedia Foundation would like to tell us?
> >
> > -- Yair Rand
> >
> > ‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 25 ביוני 2019 ב-14:56 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪
> wiki.p...@gmail.com
> > ‬‏>:‬
> >
> >> Hi Maria,
> >>
> >> Thanks for this update.
> >>
> >> I hope that you can answer a question. I may be mistaken, but my
> impression
> &

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fram en.wp office yearlock block

2019-06-13 Thread Yair Rand
User:Fram posted on Commons a slice of what is purportedly the email from
T, which says that "this ban has been triggered following your recent
abusive communications on the project, as seen here" linking to the diff in
question (#895438118). The WMFOffice account has made three statements
since the discussion of the post began (these statements made on the same
page where that discussion occured), none of which denied (or referenced at
all) the accuracy of the snippet. That's all we know.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ה׳, 13 ביוני 2019 ב-1:59 מאת ‪David Gerard‬‏ <‪dger...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> On Thu, 13 Jun 2019 at 00:19, Nathan  wrote:
>
> >  The
> > T team made a very token effort to intervene, and then imposed a high
> > profile ban with the flimsy excuse of a diff that says "fuck arbcom".
> They
> > then used that diff to excuse not including ArbCom, as if ArbCom had
> never
> > been subjected to any abuse before.
>
> Did they actually do that, or was that Fram claiming it was the cause?
>
>
> - d.
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community feedback and next steps on movement brand proposal

2019-09-08 Thread Yair Rand
The broad proposal was clearly rejected. The community has not authorized
the Wikimedia Foundation to let any organization speak under Wikipedia's
name. If a formal RfC is to be held to make a final decision (perhaps with
the question subdivided, per Pine), I recommend delaying it for a while so
we might have a chance for some respite from permanent crisis mode.

The summary, in my opinion, is not adequate, and skips many of the most
significant arguments. (The talk page itself skips some, after the WMF had
a large portion of the talk page moved to a different page, including a
string of "strong oppose"s. Those who participated in the removed sections
were not counted in the WMF's count, for some reason.)

I do not understand what is going on within the Foundation regarding KPIs,
but I get the impression that groups were required to establish metrics of
some kind, without any actual oversight on how those metrics would work.
Thus, we get things like the branding proposal's "anything less than 1800
users posting statements in opposition will be considered strong support,
1800-2700 will be considered substantial support, 2700-3600 opposed will be
considered moderate support". Similar things have been happening elsewhere,
eg, for the WMF's "Space" project. (Speaking of which, holding a discussion
on a private off-wiki forum is not a valid method of community decision
making, for branding or otherwise.)

-- Yair Rand



‫בתאריך שבת, 7 בספט׳ 2019 ב-20:54 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪wiki.p...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

>  I too think that an RfC is a good option here. I suggest having multiple
> questions in the RfC. Questions could include, "What should the
> organization that is currently known as the Wikimedia Foundation be
> named?", "Should there be a unifying brand for the online projects such as
> Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Wikimedia Commons?", "If there is a unifying brand
> for the online projects then what should it be?", "Should there be a
> unifying brand for affiliates?", and "If there is a unifying brand for
> affiliates then what should it be?"
>
> Overall I think that the report on Meta
> <
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Communications/Wikimedia_brands/2030_research_and_planning/community_review/results
> >
> makes for good reading as background information for an RfC.
>
> I want to caution against trying to make too many big decisions at once.
> There is already a strategy process underway which has consumed a
> considerable number of volunteer hours, and the community has precious
> little capacity relative to normal operational demands without this ongoing
> strategy process being piled on top of everything else that people want the
> community to do. There seems to be infinite demand for free skilled labor,
> but a finite supply of that same labor. I encourage both WMF and the
> community to think carefully about which questions to prioritize so that we
> are not all overstretched and a significant number of problems slip through
> the cracks because collectively there were not adequate human resources to
> thoughtfully address so many questions in a narrow period of time and
> develop consensus regarding how to move forward.
>
> Pine
> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF political activism

2020-04-24 Thread Yair Rand
This would not have happened had there been any oversight (community or
otherwise), and it could have been pulled down quickly enough had there
been any community members with the ability to edit the site. Perhaps it's
time to reconsider how the WMF corporate site operates.

I appreciate that the WMF is committed doing more thorough due diligence in
the future. It's very important to do so. There's a very good reason why
community consultation is required when dealing with any Collaborative
Advocacy, but given that even existing requirements weren't followed, I'm
not very optimistic that this new commitment holds weight.

Also importantly, the Foundation's Policy and Political Association
Guideline, which was written by WMF Legal in the aftermath of SOPA to iron
out clear boundaries on activism, explicitly rules out any political
activism relating to environmental issues, stating:
> Policy and political associations should protect and advance Wikimedia’s
mission “to empower and engage people around the world to collect and
develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain,
and to disseminate it effectively and globally.” Accordingly, we will not
support causes unrelated to or inconsistent with that mission. For example,
no support should be given to: environmental issues; [...]"

The WMF just inadvertently threw its weight behind dozens of controversial
causes that have nothing to do with our mission. I hope that the WMF will
manage to operate more appropriately in the future.

--Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ו׳, 24 באפר׳ 2020 ב-1:18 מאת ‪Gregory Varnum‬‏ <‪
gvar...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Hi all,
>
> I am responding on behalf of the Foundation in my capacity handling
> movement communications, including managing any campaigns on
> wikimediafoundation.org.
>
> As others from the Foundation have stated on this mailing list in the
> past, from time to time the Wikimedia Foundation engages in public policy
> matters which are aligned with the advancement of the Wikimedia mission or
> our values as an organization.
>
> Having said that, we agree with some of the criticisms you have raised. We
> had understood the Earth Day Live campaign to be both global and
> apolitical. However, we agree that the final campaign was both more
> US-centric and more political than we had understood in advance. The banner
> is no longer running, and in the future we will do more thorough due
> diligence.
>
> We remain strongly committed to climate sustainability as a value of the
> Wikimedia Foundation. We will continue to advocate on behalf of it and
> other values that uplift and advance free knowledge globally.
>
> I hope you all had a productive and safe Earth Day, and wish you all
> continued health and safety.
>
> Yours,
> -greg
>
> ---
> Gregory Varnum
> Communications Strategist
> Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>
> gvar...@wikimedia.org
> Pronouns: He/Him/His
>
> > On Apr 23, 2020, at 3:07 AM, RhinosF1 -  wrote:
> >
> > Should this be posted on wiki for others to sign?
> >
> > Samuel
> >
> > On Thu, 23 Apr 2020 at 07:51, Fæ  wrote:
> >
> >> OPEN LETTER
> >>
> >> Dear Katherine Maher,
> >>
> >> The WMF home website landing page (https://wikimediafoundation.org)
> >> yesterday featured a full-page banner directing all visitors globally
> >> to https://www.earthdaylive2020.org. This is a site used for Americal
> >> political lobbying, refer to the email discussion attached.
> >>
> >> Could you, or the responsible member of your management team, please
> >> explain exactly how this happened?
> >>
> >> There is zero doubt that this was a serious operational error, misuse
> >> of WMF development time and a misuse of the Wikimedia brand. It is
> >> certain that you will agree that the buck stops with the CEO. The
> >> decision to use the Foundation's website for American lobbying is in
> >> conflict with your not for profit status and is in conflict with the
> >> charitable status promoted to donors worldwide.
> >>
> >> If the management team and yourself are going to continuing political
> >> lobbying and using WMF resources to raise funds for Americal political
> >> organizations which have no agreed relevance to the mission of the
> >> Foundation, there must be a published transparent governance review by
> >> the WMF board of trustees to examine and agree on this significant
> >> operational change to the public Foundation strategy and the terms for
> >> the CEO.
> >>
> >> Thank you in advance.
> >>
> >> Link to Phabricator task to implement 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the Wikimedia-movement apolitical?

2020-04-26 Thread Yair Rand
"Is the Wikimedia movement political?"

For starters, some important points:
1. If you redefine a word to include "literally everything", you've defined
the word out of existence. The word becomes no longer useful for conveying
any information, and therefore, by any measure, you've simply made it
harder to communicate.
2. If two people are debating "Is X Y", and they completely disagree about
the meaning of Y, they're debating words, not things.

I have to bring these points up, because in these situations some people,
completely seriously, state that "everything is political". Obviously, this
completely reduces the debate down to nonsense, as much as it would to say
"everything is apolitical". The answer to the question "Is Wikimedia X?"
when defining X to be universally-inclusive, is yes regardless of what
series of letters you fill in there. Similarly, when X is a null set, the
answer is always no. (In the likely event that there was a more subtle
point being made with the wording, I'm afraid I missed it entirely.)

So, to the actual concepts here: Assuming we mean "political" as in
"relating to government policy, legislation, or electoral activities"
(given that it is, you know, what the word means), then the answer is
_generally_ no. There is broad agreement that Wikimedia must never
deliberately influence elections, and, excluding the efforts by our
affiliated corporations, the Wikimedia projects typically avoid trying to
influence government policy/legislation except in order to avoid being
seriously harmed by the government. The WMF and affiliates also
occasionally make limited efforts to influence governments (without getting
involved in elections) in ways that will advance the Wikimedia Mission.

Nobody editing some article on prehistoric vombatiforms is thinking, "if I
improve this article, my side will win the election!".

If one wants to argue, "freeing knowledge is inherently tied to government
actions, so Wikimedia must be broadly involved in all areas of politics and
elections", that's, well, wrong. If one wants to argue, "freeing knowledge
doesn't necessarily need to be associated with elections and such, but
Wikimedia should get involved in indigenous rights and labor reform because
we, as individuals, care about those things", it's not nonsense, but it's
also a position extremely strongly opposed by the Wikimedia community, for
good reason.

Wikimedia is about allowing people to freely share in the sum of all
knowledge. Its purpose is not to influence elections or governments. If one
uses a definition of "apolitical" which falls under that, then yes, the
Wikimedia movement is apolitical.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך שבת, 25 באפר׳ 2020 ב-11:50 מאת ‪John Erling Blad‬‏ <‪
jeb...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> It is said quite often that the Wikimedia-movement is apolitical. In
> strongly believe the movement with its goal has never been, and never will
> be apolitical. When we say that knowledge should be free and fully
> available for everyone, then we make a political statement. It may not
> align with you favorite love/hate political party, but it is still a very
> strong political statement.
>
> So please, don't claim the movement to be apolitical. We may not align with
> any specific political party in any specific country, but we are still not
> apolitical.
>
> /jeblad
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the Wikimedia-movement apolitical?

2020-04-27 Thread Yair Rand
My point about NPOV was referring to article content, as the previous post
seemed to suggest that the WMF can and does try to influence articles
non-neutrally.

I don't understand your point about the Sustainability Initiative. To the
best of my knowledge, the Sustainability Initiative (which was approved by
the Board, IIRC) does not include any public advocacy efforts. I haven't
said anything against the Initiative, and I don't oppose it myself. I do
think the WMF should not undertake any public advocacy efforts which do not
comply with the guidelines[1].

Earth Day Live was pushing many, many political positions, not just
campaign finance reform.

It doesn't take much searching to find any of the on-wiki discussions which
show conclusively that the community opposes general political advocacy. On
the wikis themselves, this isn't a matter of controversy. Activism outside
the five identified areas that relate to Wikimedia activities (Access,
Censorship, Copyright, Intermediary liability, and Privacy; see the public
policy portal and associated documents) is not acceptable, and advocacy is
only acceptable even within those areas under limited circumstances.

-- Yair Rand

[1]
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Legal/Foundation_Policy_and_Political_Association_Guideline


‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 27 באפר׳ 2020 ב-20:00 מאת ‪Bill Takatoshi‬‏ <‪
billtakato...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> On Mon, Apr 27, 2020 at 4:41 PM Yair Rand  wrote:
> >
> > Neutral Point of View is a fundamental founding principle. Per the
> policy,
> > NPOV "is non-negotiable, and the principles upon which it is based cannot
> > be superseded by other policies or guidelines, nor by editor consensus."
> It
> > may not be violated, period.
>
> Are you suggesting that the Foundation may not take any political
> positions at all?
>
> > The Wikimedia Foundation's mission still stands. It does not include
> > promoting a higher minimum wage, nor public advocacy for
> environmentalism.
>
> I doubt that more than 20% of the long-term project editor base share
> that opinion. Can you point to even a single instance other than your
> own dozen or two complaints to this list of anyone opposed to the
> WMF's Sustainability Initiative. The only comments about it ever say
> that it should be doing more (I agree: we should be flexing our muscle
> with the datacenter operators to ask them to buy renewable power,
> perhaps in return for the visibility of a joint press release or
> acknowledgment on a high-traffic page, or both.)
>
> And again, I doubt even 5% of the long term editor base is opposed to
> campaign finance reform, which was the only only issue championed by
> the Earth Day Live sponsors, and I doubt less than 10% thinks that
> both issues support the Mission to "engage and empower" free content
> contributors. Similarly for living wage standards, which support the
> ability of editors to fund their living so they don't, for example,
> need to take two jobs and thereby lack time to edit. I am sure you can
> see the connection, but for whatever reason you simply choose not to.
>
> I repeat my request for the Foundation to survey the editor base to
> put an end to this disruptive bickering.
>
> -Will
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the Wikimedia-movement apolitical?

2020-04-27 Thread Yair Rand
 @Smirkybec: Studying a certain country's history may, incidentally, make
readers think more highly of the country in question. That does not mean
that the goal of hosting the article is to make the country look good. It
also does not mean that "making the country look good" has become one of
the Wikimedia movement's objectives.

Regarding the examples: Neither the projects nor the WMF have made any
effort to promote any ideology in those articles. The Wikimedia projects
endeavor to neutrally document topics. Surely nobody thinks that
WikiProject Buddhism, WikiProject Conservatism, or WikiProject Feminism are
about promoting these things rather than neutrally documenting them? I have
a hard time imagining a viewpoint which leads one to think that edits and
grants must be about winning a political argument, or that the WMF should
intentionally promote particular ideologies through Wikipedia's content.

Neutral Point of View is a fundamental founding principle. Per the policy,
NPOV "is non-negotiable, and the principles upon which it is based cannot
be superseded by other policies or guidelines, nor by editor consensus." It
may not be violated, period. If there are some contributors that think it's
okay to violate NPOV so long as it's for a cause that some in the WMF like,
we have a serious problem.

@Pbsouthwood: Re "bias" towards verifiability, etc: We must distinguish
between bias in content, "bias" in content creation/curation processes, and
bias in institutional behaviour/advocacy/activism. No Wikipedia article
non-neutrally trumpets the praises of verifiability. The WMF doesn't go
around trying to convince random individuals that verifiability is a great
thing in general, or that civil discourse should be promoted in every facet
of life. It is important not to mix these things up. Suggesting that we're
biased because we ask people to use the proper templates is silly.

@Smirkybec (earlier post) Re the idea that political inaction is the same
as supporting the status quo, and is therefore "being political" on its
own: No. Taking action to support the status quo is supporting the status
quo. Inaction is neither the same as taking actions opposing the status
quo, nor the same as taking actions supporting the status quo.

@Gnangarra Re the idea that one's political faction has a monopoly on
neutrality, and therefore neutrality itself implies taking a political
side: ...You know what, I'm not going to engage with that. (If I've
inadvertently misrepresented the argument, clarification would be
appreciated.)

--

On the issue of prohibitions on WMF engagement in advocacy unrelated to our
goals again: (I know that's from the other thread, but things seem to have
veered in that direction so...)

The Wikimedia Foundation's mission still stands. It does not include
promoting a higher minimum wage, nor public advocacy for environmentalism.
Even if the recent incident hadn't included every left-wing cause from here
to Sunday, and had only been about environmentalism, it would still have
been a violation of important standards which were endorsed by every
community-elected member of the board shortly before their most recent
election, and of principles regularly reinforced by community discussion
every time this comes up on-wiki. Our neutrality means we don't need a
separate Wikimedia for every political faction of every country, it means
our institutions' roles aren't stocked with people who got there
to influence politics, it means our success can be everyone's successes. It
is absolutely necessary for the Wikimedia movement to function.

(@Nathan re stats: wikimediafoundation.org gets roughly 10,000 views per
day, and the banner was up for the full 24-hour period, IIUC.)

-- Yair Rand


‫בתאריך יום א׳, 26 באפר׳ 2020 ב-18:03 מאת ‪Rebecca O'Neill‬‏ <‪
rebeccanin...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> Seeing as you decided to call me out specifically, that line of reasoning
> falls apart when you note that WMF foundations funds and supports
> initiatives that would been seen as supporting all of those examples you
> gave:
>
>- Wiki Loves Earth for animal sanctuaries, highlighting areas of natural
>beauty and those that require protection
>- WikiProject Medicine covers articles relating to opioid (and all
>manner of other addictions)
>- Art+Feminism and Wikimedia LGBT+ work to promote issues relating to
>LGBT+ and feminist content worldwide
>
>
> On Sun, 26 Apr 2020 at 22:35, Nathan  wrote:
>
> > There's a tendency of people with an association with the Wikimedia
> > movement to see it as a hammer that can be swung at every nail. This is
> > embodied most perfectly in the e-mail by Rebecca O'Neil, who claims that
> if
> > WMF doesn't take a position on any issue (or every issue?), it is taking
> a
> > position in support of the status quo.
> >
> > That is a

[Wikimedia-l] WMF political activism, yet again

2020-04-22 Thread Yair Rand
The WMF corporate site (wikimediafoundation.org) currently has a
full-page ad with the text "We are watching Earth Day Live today. Will
you?". This links to an external site with the text "Click here to sign on
to the US Youth Climate Strike Coalition Earth Day Demands - From congress
and the next president, we demand a People’s Bailout, a Green New Deal, and
Land Back for Indigenous Peoples", and prompting readers to "Pledge to vote
for our future" and to subscribe to "US Climate Strike".

Everyone here already knows how unacceptable this is, and why, so I don't
think this requires any further explanation. The WMF should immediately
take this down, and make certain that this kind of thing can't happen
again. They've failed yet again at preventing inappropriate
political activism in WMF's communications, and must take serious action to
fix this constant stream of terrible failures.

-- Yair Rand
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Introducing Diff – a blog by and for the Wikimedia volunteer community

2020-07-15 Thread Yair Rand
I am concerned.

Although it is purported to be "by and for the Wikimedia volunteer
community", the blog is clearly run by the WMF, the editorial team is made
up of WMF staff, the WMF handles moderating, the guidelines were written by
the WMF, the blog was created by the WMF without community consultation or
input, and the structure and category system are clearly WMF-oriented.
Also, it's based on WordPress, yet again, and with a very
problematic privacy policy which probably won't be acceptable to many in
the community.

This is not a positive development, in my opinion.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ד׳, 15 ביולי 2020 ב-15:31 מאת ‪Andy Mabbett‬‏ <‪
a...@pigsonthewing.org.uk‬‏>:‬

> On Wed, 15 Jul 2020 at 18:50, Chris Koerner 
> wrote:
>
> > Diff builds on lessons and  experiences from  the
> > Wikimedia Blog, the Wikimedia Foundation News, and Wikimedia Space;
> > previous posts from these channels are archived on Diff.
>
> Based on my involvement with the Blog, I've identified some issues...
>
> At the request of the WMF, in 2017 I wrote a blog post, which was
> published - after WMF's editorial approval - at:
>
>https://blog.wikimedia.org/2017/11/29/astronaut-spoken-voice/
>
> an independently-archived copy may be found at:
>
>
> https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://blog.wikimedia.org/2017/11/29/astronaut-spoken-voice/
>
> This has now been republished at:
>
>https://diff.wikimedia.org/2017/11/29/astronaut-spoken-voice/
>
> to which the original URL has now been redirected.
>
>
> The new version of the article has  footer, saying:
>
>Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, and
>as such was written under a different editorial standard than Diff.
>
> I am concerned that this unexplained comment may not reflect well on
> me, as the named author.
>
>
> The new version of my author profile page:
>
>https://diff.wikimedia.org/author/cap-andy-mabbet/
>
> is missing the thumbnail image for the blog post; compare with the
> archived version:
>
>
> https://web.archive.org/web/20191218122440/https://blog.wikimedia.org/author/andy-mabbet/
>
> (the spelling error in the URL has carried over from the original).
>
> > The channel
> > is primarily intended for community-authored posts, in which
> > volunteers can share their stories, learnings, and ideas with each
> > other.
>
> I didn't write the above post simply to share the story with other
> volunteers; it was written - I again emphasise, at the WMF's request -
>  for a global audience, and presented to the press as such, as part of
> a joint publicity initiative with the European Space Agency.
>
> > content on Diff can be written and
> > translated into languages to reach a wide audience.
>
> My original post - as can be seen from the banner in the version at
> the Internet Archive - was kindly translated into Italian (apt, as the
> subject was an Italian Astronaut) and French. The banner containing
> the links to those translations is missing from the "Diff" copy.
>
> The original URLs of the italian and French versions:
>
>
> https://blog.wikimedia.org/it/2017/11/29/wikipedia-lascia-il-pianeta-terra
>
>
> https://blog.wikimedia.org/fr/2017/12/01/wikipedia-quitte-la-planete-terre
>
> now redirect, respectively, to:
>
>
> https://diff.wikimedia.org/it/2017/11/29/wikipedia-lascia-il-pianeta-terra
>
>
> https://diff.wikimedia.org/fr/2017/12/01/wikipedia-quitte-la-planete-terre
>
> each of which are returning a 404 error.
>
> Several links to the original Italian URL, from the Italian-language
> Wikipedia, including those in encyclopedia articles, and two links to
> the original French URL on the French-language Wikipedia, are now
> broken. Obviously this also applies to any external sites that link to
> them, too.
>
> > Still curious to learn more?
>
> Yes: What consultation was carried out with contributors, and the
> wider the Wikimedia community, to inform this change?
>
> --
> Andy Mabbett
> @pigsonthewing
> http://pigsonthewing.org.uk
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Paid API?

2020-06-14 Thread Yair Rand
The strategy recommendations include the text: "Explore fees or
sustainability models for enterprise-scale commercial reusers, taking care
to avoid revenue dependencies or other undue external influence in product
design and development. / Develop appropriate safeguards to ensure
continued free, unrestricted access for non-commercial, research, and small
to moderate commercial use." Earlier versions elaborate somewhat, and there
were considerable reservations expressed about the idea during the process.

It is quite concerning.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום א׳, 14 ביוני 2020 ב-14:33 מאת ‪Amir Sarabadani‬‏ <‪
ladsgr...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> Hello,
> Today I stumbled upon this public phabricator ticket [1] created by someone
> from WMF starting with:
> "My team is creating bi-weekly HTML Dumps for all of the wikis, except for
> wikidata as part of the paid API project."
>
> I have so many questions:
>  - What is the "paid API" project? Are we planning to make money out of our
> API? Now are we selling our dumps?
>  - If so, why is this not communicated before? Why are we kept in the dark?
>  - Does the board know and approve it?
>  - How is this going to align with our core values like openness and
> transparency?
>  - The ticket implicitly says these are going to be stored on AWS ("S3
> bucket"). Is this thought through? Specially the ethical problems of
> feeding Jeff Bezos' empire? (If you have seen this episode of Hasan
> Minhaj's on ethical issues of using AWS [2]). Why can't we do/host this on
> Wikimedia infrastructure? Has this been evaluated?
>  - Why is the community not consulted about this?
>
> Maybe I missed announcements, consultations or anything, forgive me for my
> ignorance. Any pointers is enough. I also understand diversifying our
> revenue is a good tool for rainy days but a consultation with the community
> wouldn't be too bad.
>
> [1]: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T254275
> [2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5maXvZ5fyQY
>
> Best
> --
> Amir (he/him)
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A Universal Code of Conduct draft for review

2020-09-09 Thread Yair Rand
The UCoC is obviously a WMF-driven project. It was announced in June 2019
by a member of the WMF Trust and Safety team, was added to the strategy
process by the group of WMF appointees (or sometimes WMF
appointee-appointees) who made up the working group, had
pseudo-consultations about it started by WMF staff (with wildly-misleading
reports written up afterward, again by the WMF), and the UCoC itself was
drafted by a mixed group of WMF staff and WMF appointees, through a process
set by the WMF.

The communities have repeatedly expressed unambiguous consensus against
having a WMF-imposed UCoC. The WMF has absolutely no business in setting
ordinary conduct policy, and they could have the ED and every board member
and C-level declare the UCoC to be policy, and threaten every affiliate
into declaring it as policy, and the only impact would be demonstrating how
far removed they are from Wikimedia. The communities are self-governing and
will implement policy based on community decisions.

That said,  I disagree with Dan's calls for nonparticipation/noncooperation
or for specifically withholding funds or support. If we end up in a
situation where the WMF tries to block, desysop, threaten, or sue
contributors, or to seize control over the projects, that would be the time
for all editors and affiliates and donors to level-headedly level the
Foundation to its foundations. Until then, we should attempt to work with
them, even when their behaviour leaves much to be desired.

-- Yair Rand



‫בתאריך יום ד׳, 9 בספט׳ 2020 ב-16:03 מאת ‪Jackie‬‏ <‪
jackie.koer...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> Hi Dan,
>
> I hear that you are upset by the suggestion and likely implementation of a
> Universal Code of Conduct. I also hear that you feel like this is a
> WMF-driven project. I cannot change your opinion about the UCoC, but I can
> say your feelings about this being a WMF-driven project are untrue. It
> doesn't matter how strongly you feel this, it's actually many groups of
> people working together. It was determined as a major need during
> discussions I had as part of the Community Health Working Group and I am
> glad to see this moving forward.
>
> I am glad you feel comfortable expressing yourself and your feelings about
> the UCoC. I also would like to say the way in which people express
> themselves and mask insults as "lively discussion" is a huge reason why we
> need a UCoC. To that point, I agree with Isaac and would suggest you share
> in a (collegiate) conversation on the Meta talk page. I just cannot take
> you seriously with the language you used in your email. I, however, would
> love to take your comments seriously and have you engage in a good-faith
> discussion about the UCoC.
>
> Our roles in the discussion should consider not only our needs as
> individuals but the needs of the broader communities. To dismiss the UCoC
> is failing to recognize privilege and power structures and their effect on
> people in and outside of the Wikimedia community.
>
> Best,
>
> Jackie
>
> On Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 1:42 PM Isaac Olatunde 
> wrote:
>
> > Hello Dan,
> >
> > You are allowed to offer an opinion but I Honestly think that's better
> and
> > more useful on the Draft talk page.
> >
> > That being said, by "effective vote or representation in the
> proceedings",
> > you probably expected a different model where different language
> > Wikip(m)edia community would be represented or vote on weather to have a
> > UCoC.
> >
> > The current model isn't bad.  I do think we should review the draft and
> if
> > there are specific wording we disagree with, we can either suggest
> > improvement or removal altogether. I honestly think we need to help and
> > support the drafting committee at this stage.
> >
> > Regards
> >
> > Isaac
> >
> > On Tue, 8 Sep 2020, 19:25 Dan Szymborski,  wrote:
> >
> > > I'm also perfectly free to express to the IRS that I'd really like to
> > get a
> > > $10 million check from them at tax time. The ability to offer an
> opinion
> > on
> > > proceedings with no effective vote or representation in the proceedings
> > is
> > > about as good as a fart in the wind. I'd prefer the WMF keep its
> > flatulence
> > > to itself.
> > >
> > > On Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 2:17 PM Isaac Olatunde <
> reachout2is...@gmail.com>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > On the contrary, I do not think this is an imposition by the Board or
> > WMF
> > > > as we are allowed to comment on the draft, and suggest improvement.
> > > >
> > > > I have been following the process closely and I do not see anything
> > that
> > > >