Re: [Wikimedia-l] New essay on the ambiguity of NC licenses

2020-07-12 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 9:20 PM Alessandro Marchetti via Wikimedia-l <> wrote:

> Are we really sure he would have done something in any case if we did not
> provide such options?

It's pretty hard to be sure about the hypothetical behavior of
individuals.  Undoubtedly, as you say, there are some people who are *only*
willing to submit material to us if it is NC, and thus we currently lose
out on material from them.  Undoubtedly, as Erik says, there are also some
people who submit material to us under a free license but would choose an
NC license if it were available, and thus we currently gain the benefit of
their work being freely licensed, rather than NC.  I suspect the latter
pool is far larger than the former.

When the choice is truly between a particular non-free image and not having
any image, fair use (for projects with fair use policies) already allows us
to use that image.  In other cases, it may be that no free image is
available right now, but someone can go out and take one.  There would be
much less incentive to do so if we were already using an NC image, so such
stopgaps would likely become permanent.

Of course, there will be attractive edge cases where we can fairly
confidently say "the choice is NC or nothing".  But we cannot be ruled by
edge cases; we must weigh them against the costs of complexity, confusion,
and unfairness that we would be creating for ourselves (to say nothing of
the additional headache we would create for reusers).

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Board update on Branding: next steps

2020-06-29 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 4:56 AM Gerard Meijssen 

> Dear WereSpielChequers, the thing with bias is that it shows in the choices
> made. You are a Wikipedian, do not really care for the other projects and
> you make that plain in what you say.

This sort of assumption-making about other list participants' motives is
completely unwarranted.[1]  You've been doing it repeatedly.  Please stop.

[1] As regards WereSpielChequers, it is also demonstrably false.  He has
nearly 500,000 edits on Commons.
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

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

2020-04-26 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sat, Apr 25, 2020 at 11:50 AM John Erling Blad  wrote:

> It is said quite often that the Wikimedia-movement is apolitical.

I'm not sure I've seen anybody say that.  I have seen people say that we
should avoid political activism or lobbying when it is not part of our core
mission, and that we should try to maintain the appearance of being
apolitical when we can.  Being political is not a binary thing; it is
entirely possible for us to choose to be activists when it comes to some
issues but not others.

It's true that remaining silent is in some sense an act in favor of the
status quo, but activists make strategic calculations all the time in
deciding whether taking a particular stand is worth the risks of
fragmentation of their coalition and dilution of their message.  They also
make decisions about how strong a message to send--when should the language
be dialed to 11, and when is a polite expression of disapproval sufficient?

Saying "we are not apolitical" tells us nothing about whether we should
send a particular political message at a particular time.  It also tells us
nothing about how we should make those decisions.  The movement, however we
define it, ought to have input to ensure that campaigns reflect our shared
values and (sometimes-conflicting) goals.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF political activism

2020-04-23 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 1:18 AM Gregory Varnum 

> 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.
Will that due diligence include advance notice to the community?  In this
case, the Phabricator task, ,
appears to have been opened the same day that the banner was to be
deployed, meaning that nobody had any chance to voice concerns before it
went live.  For banners on the projects, we have <>.  I am not saying
that every change to needs to be screened in
advance, of course, but I think we should avoid keeping "campaign" banners
(even those which aren't expected to be controversial) hidden away until
the last minute.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why renaming to Wikipedia will wreak havoc on other projects

2020-02-26 Thread Benjamin Lees
 Like Peter, I do not see a clear connection to the proposed rebranding.
Threads of this sort would be more constructive if they were framed in a
way that does not unnecessarily tie in every other issue one might have
with the movement, and that does not imply that anybody with a different
perspective must be evil or incompetent.

On Tue, Feb 25, 2020 at 8:06 PM Gnangarra  wrote:

>- it must not say the use is to, for, or on Wikipedia

A file must not say it is *exclusively* for the use of Wikipedia, because
such a condition is incompatible with the license we demand.  And there
must be an actual license--"Wikipedia can use my picture" is the classic
submission that requires us to ask for a proper licensing declaration.  But
there is certainly no problem if somebody submits a file for the *purpose*
of use on Wikipedia.  That is one of the most common motivations for
submitting files.

> Commons has fallen behind when it comes to the capability of taking photos
> of ones self (selfies) the default position when Commons started was that
> taking a high quality photograph of yourself wasnt possible there must have
> been someone else pushing the button. What happens is Commons asks for the
> subject to obtain permission from the photographer and submit that to OTRS,
> the systems falls over because the photographer cant prove that the photo
> they took of themselves was taken by themselves because the underlying
> assumption is that that isnt possible.

It does appear to be standard practice to ask who took a photograph,
because in a great many cases, it was not the person submitting the file,
and many people do not realize that the photographer, rather than the
subject, owns the copyright. (As Gerard says, "understanding of copyright
and licensing is dim".) I don't think anybody treats "the picture looks
good" as creating an irrebuttable presumption that it is not a selfie, but
different users do have different views of how not-a-selfie-looking a given
file is and of how much verification should be performed more generally.

OTRS permission behaves as expected because there is a very narrow
> definition of whats acceptable, anything that doesnt fit gets rejected. The
> very real need to be pro-active in ensuring the permissions queue doesnt
> get overwhelmed and backlogged  contributes to the fact that the grey is
> treated as black -- close it, delete it, move on.

My impression is that most agents go to reasonable (and sometimes
excessive) lengths to give people submitting files a chance to show that
they have the rights to do so.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Foundation management of volunteers

2019-06-17 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sun, Jun 16, 2019 at 8:18 AM Mister Thrapostibongles <> wrote:

> Let's look at the content first.  Even on Wikipedia's own terms, it has
> failed.  It is a principle that Wikipedia is founded on reliable sources,
> and by its own admission, Wikipedia itself is not such a source.  That
> bears repetition -- a project aiming to be an encyclopaedia, that compares
> itself with Britannica, explicitly is not reliable.  Foundation research
> has shown that about one fifth of Wikipedia articles are supported  by
> references that are inadequate to support the text or simply are not
> there.  That's about a million articles each on of the larger Wikpedias.
> Some thousands of those are biographies of living people and in view of the
> risk of defamation, no such articles should exist on Wikipedia at all.
> There are several thousand articles that are possible copyright violations:
> again such articles should not be there.  And when I say "should not", I
> mean according to the rules adopted by the Wikipedia volunteer community
> itself.

The WMF has multiple, conflicting goals, just like the community.  I don't
think you should take it as a given that the WMF will take a position that
aligns perfectly with what you want.  In terms of unverified articles,
consider ACTRIAL.[1]  The community approved it in in 2011, but the WMF
vetoed it for 6 years.  Eventually, the trial was allowed to proceed; most
of the feared negative effects did not materialize, and the WMF made the
change permanent in response to overwhelming community support for it.

The community has been working on copyright violation issues for a long
time.[2]  There are probably ways the WMF could support improvements in
this area.  Maybe the WMF could even design some system that would
magically solve the problem.  But it's certainly not the community standing
in the way.

Also consider
back in 2013.
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Bounties…

2019-01-24 Thread Benjamin Lees
It's interesting that you chose spellchecking as your example.  On the
English Wikipedia, I tend to see that as an activity that some people
actually do find fun (or relaxing).  Plus, spelling errors (or perceived
spelling errors[1]) are something that unregistered users really like
fixing.  But maybe that varies significantly across language editions.

In any event, spelling errors are probably the case where eventualism is
most appropriate.  It is rare that someone will be misinformed because of
spelling mistakes, and they serve a useful signaling function in making it
clear that a given piece of content has probably not undergone peer
review.  And rather than driving people away, they tend to draw them
in—Cunningham's law[2] never fails.


On Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 6:55 PM John Erling Blad  wrote:

> Both in Wikipedia and other parts of the Wikimedia-universe there are
> a lot of jobs that should be done, but are not so popular. Because
> they are not done, people get tired and backs away from whatever they
> are doing.
> I could give several examples, but lets say spellchecking. It is not
> fun doing spellchecking, even if you are spellchecking something
> written by a professor. Instead of doing spellchecking you do
> something else, like poking around in some code, or write about
> Pokemon. While you do so the professor gets a bit annoyed over the not
> so perfect article, and starts to wonder what happen to the crowd in
> crowdsourcing.
> Somewhere along the way the it became so bad to talk about anything
> except the pure wikipedian sitting on top of his pillar with a book
> and a computer, writing articles in solitude, that we completely
> missed the opportunities to get a much larger momentum.
> The Norwegian Bokmål Wikipedia has over a half a million articles.
> About 10 % lack sources. Nearly all of them has spelling errors. It is
> nothing unusual about this.
> Could we use bounties to get some momentum?
> John Erling Blad
> /jeblad
> ___
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> and
> New messages to:
> Unsubscribe:,
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Survey about the Foundation's Mission

2019-01-16 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Wed, Jan 16, 2019 at 1:48 PM Gerard Meijssen 

> Hoi,
> I am troubled with the ease doubt is raised about people contributing to
> this mailing list/ our community/ our projects. This is a mailing list that
> has the option of moderation. That is already in itself a sure way of
> driving people away. However, it is not the same as going whole hog and ban
> like it is proposed.

If your concern is about ensuring a wide range of voices, I would note that
most people we "lose" from this list are not those who are moderated out of
existence.  Rather, they unsubscribe because they are frustrated about the
tone or the behavior of other participants.  As for what Risker said, I
would not describe it as "ease."  She has politely raised this after many
years of James behaving in the same way.  This list has generally tolerated
sharply different viewpoints, and it should continue to do so, even though
it will discourage some people from participating.  But we should not have
to put up with this sort of "I didn't hear that" behavior (if you'll
forgive my using English Wikipedia jargon).

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the death of Wikipedia imminent?

2018-12-29 Thread Benjamin Lees
You paint the problem as being about us adapting to changing
demographics.  I'm not so sure--if only because the notion of
attention-impaired millennials appears to be one of those
self-propagating ideas whose supposed statistical support turns out to
be fabricated.[1][2]  If the concern is about getting more _readers_,
by providing a digestible version of articles, Google already attempts
to do that, and I'm sure we'll see better efforts down the line.

I think the bigger problem, and I'm not breaking any new ground here,
is that our vectors for bringing people into the editing fold may be
shrinking.  Short versions of articles, whether we provide them or
Google does, do not readily lend themselves to participation by
outsiders.  Mobile devices are inherently challenging to edit with:
the WMF rightly has great people working to make it easier, but at the
end of the day, I don't know if I would have ever started editing if
I'd had to do it on a phone. (I hope my millennial brethren are
hardier than I am.)  And, as Frederick notes, even if someone gets to
the point of editing, finding sources that we consider acceptable is
going to be hardest for the areas in which we're most lacking
coverage.  These are hard problems, and I don't claim to have the
solutions, but I don't know if your proposals would help on this

In any event, "slowly d[ying]" doesn't quite seem "imminent".  Call it
a side issue, but I'd prefer not to be clickbaited on this list.

Emufarmers, editor, a few edits

[2] There's gotta be some Person's Law I can cite here, right?

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Croatian Wikipedia: persisting far-right bias?

2018-11-27 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Mon, Nov 26, 2018 at 8:06 AM Dennis During  wrote:
> Who is the judge? Are we going to join Facebook, Google, Twitter, et al as
> the new press barons?

All of our work on the projects necessarily involves making judgments.
As a movement we have largely decided that editors on individual
projects should be the ones to make those judgments.  But in some
extreme cases, our judgment may be that we need different judges.

On Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 1:03 PM Dennis During  wrote:
> It is important that any wiki process be applied fairly.  In this case I
> think the Croatian wiki cannot be the first to have a new process applied.

I don't know whether this is the process we want.  But if it is,
somebody's gotta go first.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Executive Director's Letter to Donors

2018-07-06 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 3:33 PM, James Salsman  wrote:
> Are there any specific reasons that the Foundation should remain
> neutral on any topic, economic, political, or otherwise, which clearly
> impacts the readership or community?

Well, off the top of my head: to avoid compromising the appearance of
the projects and the movement as neutral providers of information; to
avoid bad publicity; to avoid antagonizing governments or corporate
interests; to avoid compromising the Foundation's tax-exempt status;
to avoid fragmenting the resources and attention of the movement; to
avoid creating divisions within the projects and the movement that
would make it more difficult for volunteers to work together.

On Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 1:01 AM, James Salsman  wrote:
> I've spoken with perhaps fifty wikimedians over the past couple years,
> and I simply do not believe that more than 20% could wish such ill
> will on their peers.

Let me be bold and suggest that around 99% of the people on this list
disagree with the percentages you keep making up.


Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Category: French Jews on en.wp / GDPR

2018-06-01 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Mon, May 28, 2018 at 9:33 AM, sashi  wrote:
> Given that the category French Jews contains more members than the category
> French Roman Catholics, and that there are living people included in both
> categories...

I would again recommend caution in looking at numbers, because
Category:French Roman Catholics itself has many subcategories, which
likely contain a few thousand entries in total.

> I seriously wonder what it is that motivates folks to
> anonymously tag others in this way (i.e. whether they want to be tagged or
> not).

Probably the same thing that motivates them to create categories for
fictional characters with plant abilities or rail transport in
Karnataka. I can't say whether such categorization is healthy, but
it's certainly pervasive on Wikipedia, and is probably not usually
malicious. (Not everyone edits anonymously, by the way!)

> I looked into one of the many BLP entries with an unscourced Category:French
> Jews tag, and found a review of a book they wrote. In that book, the person
> stated that while they had a Jewish mother, they did not consider themselves
> Jewish.

This is a limitation of categorization systems. In an article's text,
you can just say "X's mother was Jewish, but he did not consider
himself Jewish," but either a category has to lump a lot of things
together or you have to have a category to reflect every distinction
you want to make: Category:American Cultural Reform Jews? (You can
factor out the "American" part if you have category intersections, but
the level-of-detail problem still remains.)

Of course, you can just decline to categorize by religion (or
ethnicity, or nationality, or sexuality), or decline to mention it at
at all in an article unless it's unusually relevant, but I imagine
you're going to encounter pushback to the effect of "what part of 'the
sum of all human knowledge' don't you understand?" A lot of
Wikipedians (and I might count myself among them) see the challenging
nature of some topics as an invitation to address them thoroughly, not
to refrain from addressing them.

> On en.wp people being
> labeled as Jewish/Catholic, etc. tend to be industrialists, politicians,
> journalists, bankers etc.

I'm not seeing the same thing in my cursory look at the categories. If
anything, artists, scientists, and academics seem to be the ones who
are overrepresented in Category:French Jews. In any event, to the
extent that this appears to show stereotyping, it is merely making
transparent the systemic biases in who has an article on Wikipedia in
the first place.

Though I clearly don't agree with everything you say, I do appreciate
your raising this issue. By the way, your messages don't seem to be
getting through until a few days after you sent them. I'm not sure
whether that's an issue on your end, or my end, or if they're just
getting caught in the moderation queue.


Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Category: French Jews on en.wp / GPDR

2018-05-27 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sat, May 26, 2018 at 10:41 AM, sashi  wrote:
> The fact that -- today on en.wp -- these religious categories are being
> overwhelmingly applied to Jews (and to a lesser degree to Freemasons) is
> certainly striking.  (cf.  the 862 members of Category:French Jews & the 21
> members of the Category:French Christians).

No, French Christians are just tagged with subcategories of
Category:French Christians. The "requiring diffusion" category that
you complain of is in fact a way to tell editors that pages in the
category should really be in subcategories instead.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: and
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Publicpolicy] news events impacting the Foundation's ability to hire and its employees' ability to travel

2017-01-31 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 5:00 AM, Rogol Domedonfors
> I think this is a very interesting point.  Why is the WMF so dependent on
> being able to hire staff in one location?

A quick scan of the staff page shows more than 60 "international"
employees. (A fair number of employees are also inside the US but not
in SF.) Some teams, like Technical Collaboration and Technical
Operations, have lots of remote employees.  Some, like HR and Finance
and Administration, do not (probably not a huge surprise).

The WMF still has plenty of work to do on this front, but I think
they're moving in the right direction: almost all of the currently
open jobs at the WMF include "remote" as an option.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] "Delegation of policy-making authority" resolution

2016-12-20 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 10:45 PM, Christophe Henner
> First, the resolution and its context. "Supervising" the ED is indeed a
> board duty, but this supervision must not become micro-management. That
> resolution provides staff the liberty to do their work more efficiently. It
> doesn't remove our duty of oversight.

The board has implemented a fairly small number of policies over the
years (and an even smaller number that are actually applicable to the
projects).  As a general rule, our projects are governed by their
communities.  I think people are going to be a little worried about
anything that looks like it might facilitate centralized

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Affiliate-selected Board seats voting started

2016-05-01 Thread Benjamin Lees
This is still going on, right?  The latest question on the questions
page has only gotten one answer in a month. :-(

On Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 10:13 AM, Laurentius  wrote:
> Dear all,
> voting for the affiliate-selected board seats is starting today, and
> will end on May 8 (results will be announced shortly after that).
> Ten people nominated - which is more than in any previous round - and
> all nominations got an endorsement. Therefore, we have ten candidates
> running:
> * Christophe Henner (schiste)
> * Jan Ainali (Ainali)
> * Kunal Mehta (Legoktm)
> * Leigh Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
> * Lodewijk Gelauff (Effeietsanders)
> * Maarten Deneckere (MADe)
> * Nataliia Tymkiv (antanana)
> * Osmar Valdebenito (B1mbo)
> * Siska Doviana (Siska.Doviana)
> * Susanna Mkrtchyan (SusikMkr)
> For the nomination statements, see:
> While only chapters and thematic organizations are eligible to vote,
> anyone is encouraged to ask questions, either to all the candidates:
> or to specific candidates in the talk page of their nomination.
> Chris Keating
> Lorenzo Losa
> Lane Rasberry
> - election facilitators
> ___
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: 
> New messages to:
> Unsubscribe:, 

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikipedia is basically just another giant bureaucracy

2016-04-29 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 8:32 PM, Stephen Philbrick
> and it is astonishing how bad it is.

If you're astonished, then I'm afraid you haven't read enough news
articles about Wikipedia yet. :-(


Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikipedia Zero mass effect on Wikimedia projects

2016-03-19 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 7:50 PM, Gnangarra  wrote:
>  of course I dont expect
> people to know their copyright laws in detail or to have read them but they
> do know the principles of it and what they can do
Are you sure?  In the US, at least, industry groups go to a lot of
trouble to "remind" people of the things they're not supposed to do.

But I'm not sure the provisions you point to are actually so unusual.

>- Non protected works Article  9 section c -- news of the day published
>by the press or broadcast
This is in the Berne Convention (article 2, section 8).

>- Chapter IV Uses lawful without Authorisation article 29 section b -
>reproduction by photographic process or process analogous to photographic
>process by  documentation centres  or teaching organisations
>. refers to minimum amount of copies necessary, but wither way
>Wikipedia would fall into either of these definitions as permitted to
I don't know if Wikipedia would actually be covered by this: those
terms are probably pretty narrow (and this is just a translation of
the law, anyway).  In any event, it's pretty standard for copyright
laws to make allowances for limited educational use.

>- article 30 - is the key here it enables translation into Portuguese
>after 3 years without any real restrictions - hence why the pt.wikis are
>having so much of an issue and by extension commons where they encourage
>uploading of media
This appears to implement article 2 of the Berne Convention's "special
provisions regarding developing countries" (Angola isn't a signatory,
but it has signed the TRIPS Agreement, which incorporates those
provisions).  It actually looks quite restrictive (the license has to
be granted by the "State Secretariat for Culture", you have to try to
get permission first, there are limitations on export, and you still
have to pay the copyright holder).

I don't think problematic uploads from mobile are a new or regional
phenomenon—I seem to recall an earlier "selfiepocalypse".

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fwd: A conversation?

2016-03-10 Thread Benjamin Lees
I was glad when I saw Jimbo indicate he was reaching out to James.  At
the risk of sounding hopelessly naive, maybe Jimbo should send James
another email, this time extending a clearer olive branch.  If we're
past the point of no return on that, then so be it, but I would be
happy to know that after three months of talking about and at each
other, you guys _sincerely_ tried talking to each other.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fwd: Shared list

2016-02-22 Thread Benjamin Lees
Someone complained to you off-list about the amount you're posting to
the list.  You immediately forwarded his email to the list.  Is this
the best approach?

On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 12:13 AM, Anthony Cole  wrote:
> I thought I was bringing a sorely under-represented perspective to the ED
> discussion on this list and wasn't aware I'd said or done anything
> inappropriate here.

Well, Oliver Keyes said, 3 days ago:

> Speaking as both a volunteer and staff, Anthony, I have found your
> attitude in this conversation and others on the subject to be deeply
> unproductive. It would be good if you spent more time asking questions
> and less time dismissing people's concerns.

For my part, I think it's inappropriate to, for example, take
someone's statement: "I restrained from expressing publicly any issues
I might have with your own performance; I would love you to not spread
covert allegations on my performace and professional attitude" and
proceed to "it is used as proof she's "literally Hitler"."  My
guidance would be to think carefully about the way you're responding
to others and whether you would like to be responded to in that way.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] "9 annoying nonprofit trends that need to die"

2016-02-06 Thread Benjamin Lees
Which of these heinous sins do we commit?

On Sat, Feb 6, 2016 at 2:59 PM, Pine W  wrote:
> I think that a number of us may appreciate this article, specifically
> people who are involved with Wikimedia affiliates, grant committees, and
> WMF Community Engagement including CR and PC
> Pine
> ___
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: 
> New messages to:
> Unsubscribe:, 

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why take grants? (was: Can we see the Knight grant application and grant offer?)

2016-02-02 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 3:19 PM, C. Scott Ananian  wrote:
> Sue explained to me that the goal was to have WMF's budget be roughly 50%
> grants and 50% user contributions to guard against unexpected fragility
> with either of these funding sources.

If that was the goal, it does not seem to have been reached.  Even in
the 2008-2009 financial year, when the budget was $6 million and the
foundation received a million-dollar grant from the Stanton
Foundation, restricted grants did not reach 20% of the budget.  Since
then, fundraising has grown enormously, so that the Knight Foundation
grant comes to less than 1% of what fundraising produces.  Are we sure
that it won't consume more than 1% of our organizational attention?

In any event, isn't this the whole point of having an endowment?

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
New messages to:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] On toxic communities

2015-11-14 Thread Benjamin Lees
This article highlights the happier side of things, but it appears
that Lin's approach also involved completely removing bad actors:
"Some players have also asked why we've taken such an aggressive
stance when we've been focused on reform; well, the key here is that
for most players, reform approaches are quite effective. But, for a
number of players, reform attempts have been very unsuccessful which
forces us to remove some of these players from League entirely."[0]

A little context about League of Legends (I haven't played in a couple
years, so my apologies if anything I say is out of date):
* In an average game you are thrust onto a team with 4 complete
strangers you will probably never meet again, and must work together
to defeat the other team.
* Individual player mistakes hurt the team, often a lot.  Think making
an error at the World Series in baseball.
* A typical game lasts 20-50 minutes.  If you leave the game before it
finishes, you will be punished. (After 20 minutes your team can
surrender if 4 of your players agree to do so.)
* Some games affect your global ranking relative to all other players.

These game mechanics promote a form of tension which is part of the
excitement of the game but which is also sometimes stressful (if, say,
you're doing really badly and your team doesn't want to quit).  By and
large, Wikipedia's mechanics seem very different from this, there are
a few areas where users are pushed into a more hostile role with one
another.  In those narrow cases, like the village pump, I could maybe
see benefits from trying to re-engineer interactions, but I'm
skeptical that this will somehow engineer a cultural shift.

P.S. As Rupert noted, over 90% of LoL players are male (how much over
90%?).[1] It would be interesting to know whether this percentage has
changed along with the improvements described in the article.

P.P.S. In League you have to pay if you want to transfer your account
from one region to another.  I'm sure we could resolve all ENGVAR
disputes once and for all by adding some region locking. :-)


On Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 5:12 PM, Denny Vrandečić  wrote:
> Very interesting read (via Brandon Harris):
> "the vast majority of negative behavior ... did not originate from the
> persistently negative online citizens; in fact, 87 percent of online
> toxicity came from the neutral and positive citizens just having a bad day
> here or there."
> "... incidences of homophobia, sexism and racism ... have fallen to a
> combined 2 percent of all games. Verbal abuse has dropped by more than 40
> percent, and 91.6 percent of negative players change their act and never
> commit another offense after just one reported penalty."
> I have plenty of ideas how to apply this to Wikipedia, but I am sure Dario
> and his team as well :) - and some opportunity for the communities to use
> such results.
> Cheers,
> Denny
> ___
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: 
> Unsubscribe:, 

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Cebuano and Waray-waray Wikipedias among Top 10

2015-07-06 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Mon, Jul 6, 2015 at 4:55 AM, Gerard Meijssen wrote: shows
 clearly how much Cebuano has grown considerably in page views.
It's a shame we don't have filtered page view data: it'd be good to
know whether all those new articles are being read by people or just

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] CAPTCHA issues discouraging new editors

2015-06-19 Thread Benjamin Lees
Events sometimes get whitelisted for account creation purposes:
The exceptions there there could be made to set $wgCaptchaWhitelistIP too.

On Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 8:54 AM, WereSpielChequers wrote:
 alternatively perhaps we could whitelist certain domains as likely to be 
 reliable sources and unlikely to be spam.
There actually already is a whitelist ($wgCaptchaWhitelist in
Unfortunately, as far as I know, there's no on-wiki way to change it,
but you could always compile a list of domains and submit it through

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Global North/South

2015-06-11 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 6:19 PM, Michał Buczyński wrote:
 It would be _bad_ if this tag was used as a support more / less
 flag and financial decisions on particular projects and people were heavily
 based upon this underexplained and arbitrary list.


Based on the applicant's home country, each applicant will be
categorized as either a Global North or Global South applicant, with
the total number of scholarships distributed between the Global North
and Global South being set at 25% and 75% respectively.

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Voting system (was: Results of 2015 WMF Board elections)

2015-06-07 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sun, Jun 7, 2015 at 3:31 PM, Milos Rancic wrote:
 On the other side, I would note
 that being a member of en.wp's ArbCom is highly stressful position and
 I don't think that there are many of long-term ArbCom members (in
 comparison to, let's say, WMF Board). I am sure that one of the most
 important reasons are negative votes, exactly. You can't do good job
 if you want to be reelected.

Newyorkbrad managed to serve for _eight years_, and most people seem
to think he did a good job.  It is true that most arbitrators don't
serve for very long,[0] but this is mainly because they either resign
or choose not to run again.  The standard reasons are it's too
stressful or I'm too busy.
From what I remember, the usual panic around election time is that
there won't be enough candidates (of course, there always are).

There were elections for CheckUser and Oversight for a couple years,
but ArbCom went back to just appointing people after there was an
election in which only one person passed the vote threshold.  CU/OS is
more comparable to stewardship than to ArbCom, though.


Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Priority languages

2015-06-01 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 11:53 AM, Milos Rancic wrote:
 * MediaWiki is developing and messages are changing. While it doesn't
 matter a lot for the main language to have 99% and not 100% of
 translated most used messages, the new one won't get a project if it's
 not 100%. (The situation as it is; I don't like it, but I can't change

Won't get a project? Are you saying that new project language
editions are only approved if the MediaWiki messages for that language
are all translated already? (Maybe I'm misunderstanding.)

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] How many volunteers (not editors) does the movement have????

2014-06-22 Thread Benjamin Lees
There's no master list that I know of, but there are lists of each of those

Many of the people on those lists are not volunteers.

I'm afraid you're on your own for aggregating the many lists of ArbCom
members, mailing list moderators, and event coordinators. :-)

On Sun, Jun 22, 2014 at 7:12 AM, Richard Ames wrote:

 Is there a listing of the volunteer positions which work for the Wikimedia

 I can think of several areas people volunteer in: system operators,
 software development, public relations, correspondence management (OTRS),
 list moderation, event management, conflict resolution (Arbcom), Funds
 Distribution (FDC), Affiliations Committee, etc.

 How many are there?

 Regards, Richard.

 Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] How many volunteers (not editors) does the movement have????

2014-06-22 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sun, Jun 22, 2014 at 9:31 AM, Alice Wiegand wrote:

 How's your definition of volunteers?

 In this case, I just mean that some of the people on those lists are paid
employees of the WMF or a chapter, so I can't guarantee that everyone on a
list of volunteers is acting in a purely volunteer role.
Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Commons' frontpage probably shouldn't prominently feature a decontextualised stack of corpses.

2014-05-08 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Thu, May 8, 2014 at 10:10 PM, Kevin Gorman wrote:

 Can anyone articulate a valid reason why the freezeframe from the video
 posted on the frontpage was just about the most graphic still possible from
 the video?

 Presumably the person who set up the templates thought that was the best
frame to use.[1] You should ask him what his reasoning was.

It looks like a single person is handling Commons' MOTD rotation,[2][3] so
I would guess that very few people actually saw what the thumb would be

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:

Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimania-l] Setting ticket prices

2014-03-26 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 6:19 PM, John Mark Vandenberg jay...@gmail.comwrote:


 In the past you have supported a hardline position regarding
 publishing of private correspondence, and in circumstances when the
 reasons for publishing the private correspondence were of greater
 importance to the community than Rupert's private questions to Nathan,
 and lots of drama value too.

Just to be clear for the record, that was James Forrester, not James
Wikimedia-l mailing list

Re: [Wikimedia-l] My choice for ED

2014-02-01 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sat, Feb 1, 2014 at 3:29 AM, ENWP Pine wrote:

 Chad, I wonder if Rory has been considered. (:

Given his history of biting newbies, I'm not sure he'd be in a good
position to help solve the editor retention problem.
Wikimedia-l mailing list

Re: [Wikimedia-l] PRISM

2013-06-10 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sun, Jun 9, 2013 at 11:05 PM, Anthony wrote:

 By access logs I meant HTTP access logs.  It's pretty clear that without
 taking extraordinary measures, what you're editing is not anonymous.  But
 some people are probably under the impression that what they're reading and
 searching (and linking from) is private. is
probably relevant (if what Domas said then is still true).
Wikimedia-l mailing list

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Thoughts on Admin Rights on WMF Wiki (and other things)

2013-05-25 Thread Benjamin Lees
 The way this whole affair was undertaken was unfortunate, but that can be
smoothed over with apologies.  The remaining issue is that the wrong
decision was made, and there's no way to fix that except to reverse the

On Sat, May 25, 2013 at 5:35 PM, ENWP Pine wrote:

 Do you think you should continue to be WMF's
 Chief Culture and Talent Officer? I have a hard time believing that you
 should continue in that role after this disaster, but I want to hear your
 point of view.

I think this is a little over the top.
Wikimedia-l mailing list

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

2013-04-28 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Sun, Apr 28, 2013 at 1:15 AM, rupert THURNER rupert.thur...@gmail.comwrote:

 and at least my wish would be that people who
 donate their time by sending code patches to software considered
 essential to run the site are included.

In the 2011 election, anyone active with commit access (that is, the
ability to change code in the software repository) also got a vote.  It
looks like that will be the case for this election, too.

In principle, I would expect more people to be eligible to vote as
developers this time, because the new version control system (Git instead
of Subversion) doesn't have the same barriers to access.
Wikimedia-l mailing list

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Are chapters part of the community and board seats for affiliates?

2013-02-24 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 12:42 PM, cyrano wrote:

 Why not distinguish the community seats from the Chapters seats with the
 terms community seats and  Chapters seats?
 Using the word community in both cases may induce to believe that's it's
 the same community with two branches. But nothing guarantees that unity.

They are differentiated in the bylaws: you have Community-selected
Trustees and Chapter-selected Trustees.  Indeed, the bylaw changes in
2008 make it clear that the chapter-selected seats are not regarded as
being selected by the community.[0]

On Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 6:14 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) nemow...@gmail.comwrote:

 Here we are, this is one of the things I wanted to point out (maybe one by
 one it's easier): a chapter is not a person, of course it's not a
 community member... but (IMHO) *of course* chapter members are Wikimedia
 community members.
 Logical consequence: the chapter meant as set of the chapter members
 is a subset of the community and hence a part of the community.

Most of the people on the WMF board (well, all of them, at the moment) are
community members too. :-)

The majority of the Board shall be elected or appointed from within the
community. was changed to A majority of the Board Trustee positions,
other than the Community Founder Trustee position, shall be selected or
appointed from the community and the chapters.
Wikimedia-l mailing list

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Board resolutions on bylaw amendments and appointment of Foundation staff officers

2012-11-02 Thread Benjamin Lees
On Fri, Nov 2, 2012 at 5:29 AM, Bishakha Datta bishakhada...@gmail.comwrote:

 Please note the substantive change in Article V: Officers and Duties. As
 per the amendments, the Secretary and Treasurer are now non-trustee officer

This doesn't seem too unreasonable in itself, but it is somewhat surprising
that you didn't readjust the board's composition accordingly.  The
justification for having unelected seats is to ensure that the board has
people with specific skills or backgrounds, and my impression was that
getting someone with accounting experience to serve as treasurer was part
of that.
Wikimedia-l mailing list

[Wikimedia-l] Yet Another Cybercrime Law (Philippines)

2012-10-02 Thread Benjamin Lees
I suppose this is old news by now, but I haven't seen it mentioned here
yet.  Are any projects taking action?
Wikimedia-l mailing list

Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikitech-l] media tarballs announcement

2012-06-19 Thread Benjamin Lees
This is great!  Forwarding to wikimedia-l.

On Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 6:17 AM, Ariel T. Glenn wrote:

 Folks who are interested in downloading tarballs of media for their
 particular project can now do so from:

 In this directory you will see two subdirectories, fulls and incrs.
 The way this works is that once a month near the beginning of the month
 we will produce a series of tarballs for each project of media uploaded
 locally and media stored on commons.  During the month, at least once
 but hopefully twice, we will produce tarballs containing the files
 uploaded locally or included from commons since the full tarball

 No tarballs are being produced for commons itself, given that it's 14T
 and there would be no separate locally uploaded/remotely uploaded lists.
 Instead please use rsync to get those files directly from:


 Also, please bear in mind that for author and license information you
 should download the corresponding pages-meta-current.xml.bz2 file from or your local mirror, and check the
 corresponding File: description pages for your project or commons.

 And now it's time as usual for the Big Fat Disclaimer:

 We're still running these manually, it's possible that we won't make the
 planned schedule for a given run or runs, network connectivity might be
 unstable, etc. etc.  Its also possible we will restructure the fulls so
 that they take a lot less space and rely on three series of tarballs for
 some projects.

 Thanks once again to for donating the time, space and bandwidth
 to make this possible.


 Wikitech-l mailing list

Wikimedia-l mailing list