Re: [Wikimedia-l] Call for feedback about Wikimedia Foundation Bylaws changes and Board candidate rubric

2020-10-19 Thread Brion Vibber
>From what I've read in the thread above I agree with Yair, and would add
that this feels like a big power grab against the community.

I believe that Wikimedia Foundation must reject these proposed bylaws
changes to preserve our open, democratic nature, and hold elections to fill
all seats.

-- brion
former CTO
current software architect

On Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 5:12 PM Asaf Bartov  wrote:

> Hello.  With my list-moderator hat, I am relaying two messages from Jimmy
> Wales, sent from an address he apparently hadn't used before,  that were
> unintentionally caught by the mailing list filters and could not be let
> through.  I paste them below.
>
>Asaf
>
> -- Forwarded message --
> From: Jimmy Wales 
> To: wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Cc:
> Bcc:
> Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2020 05:12:55 +0100
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Call for feedback about Wikimedia Foundation
> Bylaws changes and Board candidate rubric
> On 10/7/20 6:32 PM, Samuel Klein wrote:
>
> The replacement of an explicit voting process with an unspecified process +
> schedule seems unnecessarily vague.
>
> I agree that the vagueness is not good.  To make sure everyone is aware:
> there has been no discussion and I'm unaware of anyone
> on the board who would be in favor of *removing* elections.  I think the
> current wording here is awkward and may have been designed
> to not be super prescriptive about how exactly we might move to a process
> with a community-driven and community-approved "rubric"
> combined with elections.  To remedy this defect seems quite easy - a future
> revision should explicitly include as much detail as is possible,
> and certainly should mandate elections.
>
> -- Forwarded message --
> From: Jimmy Wales 
> To: wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Cc:
> Bcc:
> Date: Thu, 8 Oct 2020 05:13:08 +0100
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Call for feedback about Wikimedia Foundation
> Bylaws changes and Board candidate rubric
> On 10/7/20 10:03 PM, Yair Rand wrote:
>
> (Another minor point: The change from the description of the appointed
> seats from "non-community-selected, non-chapter-selected" to
> "non-community-sourced" seems to imply that the Board is prohibited from
> filling these seats with any community members. Previously, there have been
> community members in these seats.)
>
> I think this is a very good "catch".  I'm sure that wasn't the intention of
> the rewording.  I didn't
> write it and of course I can't speak for anyone else.  I can say that there
> has been no discussion
> at the board level of anyone suggesting that we should not be able to
> select community members
> for these seats.
>
> Indeed, my personal view is that as we pursue board expansion, it is
> crucial that we try as hard as
> we can find to fill the appointed seats with as many deeply experienced
> community members (who
> have other relevant skills) as we possibly can.
>
> In terms of this proposal, I think that a minor change to clarify this
> minor point is a great idea!
>
> I think the ambiguity probably arose with the change from "selected" to
> "sourced" - a change that, itself,
> deserves great scrutiny.
>
> ===
>
> (end of Jimmy's two messages.  Future posts from Jimmy's new address should
> go through.)
>
>Asaf
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Announcing a new Wikimedia project: Abstract Wikipedia

2020-07-02 Thread Brion Vibber
I'm extremely excited about this project!

Not only will this be directly useful on its own (and a fascinating project
in its own right!), but it will help our volunteer editors to ramp up good
base material to work with on the "prose" Wikipedias we already know and
love.

The idea is really to make the structured data we've all been putting into
Wikidata available in a human-readable form at a big scale, that's still
able to be shaped and made into something real and readable by human
editors. By moving around where in the chain the data gets expressed as
human language, we hope to make something that's just as editable but much
more maintainable in the future and across multiple languages.

-- brion


On Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 9:04 AM Katherine Maher  wrote:

> (A translatable version of this announcement can be found on Meta [1])
>
> Hi all,
>
> It is my honor to introduce Abstract Wikipedia [1], a new project that has
> been unanimously approved by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.
> Abstract Wikipedia proposes a new way to generate baseline encyclopedic
> content in a multilingual fashion, allowing more contributors and more
> readers to share more knowledge in more languages. It is an approach that
> aims to make cross-lingual cooperation easier on our projects, increase the
> sustainability of our movement through expanding access to participation,
> improve the user experience for readers of all languages, and innovate in
> free knowledge by connecting some of the strengths of our movement to
> create something new.
>
> This is our first new project in over seven years. Abstract Wikipedia was
> submitted as a project proposal by Denny Vrandečić in May of 2020 [2] after
> years of preparation and research, leading to a detailed plan and lively
> discussions in the Wikimedia communities. We know that the energy and the
> creativity of the community often runs up against language barriers, and
> information that is available in one language may not make it to other
> language Wikipedias. Abstract Wikipedia intends to look and feel like a
> Wikipedia, but build on the powerful, language-independent conceptual
> models of Wikidata, with the goal of letting volunteers create and maintain
> Wikipedia articles across our polyglot Wikimedia world.
>
> The project will allow volunteers to assemble the fundamentals of an
> article using words and entities from Wikidata. Because Wikidata uses
> conceptual models that are meant to be universal across languages, it
> should be possible to use and extend these building blocks of knowledge to
> create models for articles that also have universal value. Using code,
> volunteers will be able to translate these abstract “articles” into their
> own languages. If successful, this could eventually allow everyone to read
> about any topic in Wikidata in their own language.
>
> As you can imagine, this work will require a lot of software development,
> and a lot of cooperation among Wikimedians. In order to make this effort
> possible, Denny will join the Foundation as a staff member in July and lead
> this initiative. You may know Denny as the creator of Wikidata, a long-time
> community member, a former staff member at Wikimedia Deutschland, and a
> former Trustee at the Wikimedia Foundation[3]. We are very excited that
> Denny will bring his skills and expertise to work on this project alongside
> the Foundation’s product, technology, and community liaison teams.
>
> It is important to acknowledge that this is an experimental project and
> that every Wikipedia community has different needs. This project may offer
> some communities great advantages. Other communities may engage less. Every
> language Wikipedia community will be free to choose and moderate whether or
> how they would use content from this project.
>
> We are excited that this new wiki-project has the possibility to advance
> knowledge equity through increased access to knowledge. It also invites us
> to consider and engage with critical questions about how and by whom
> knowledge is constructed. We look forward to working in cooperation with
> the communities to think through these important questions.
>
> There is much to do as we begin designing a plan for Abstract Wikipedia in
> close collaboration with our communities. I encourage you to get involved
> by going to the project page and joining the new mailing list[4]. We
> recognize that Abstract Wikipedia is ambitious, but we also recognize its
> potential. We invite you all to join us on a new, unexplored path.
>
> Yours,
> Katherine Maher
>
> Executive Director,
> Wikimedia Foundation
>
> [1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:MyLanguage/Abstract
> Wikipedia/June 2020 announcement
> [2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:MyLanguage/Abstract_Wikipedia
> [3] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Denny
> [4] https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/abstract-wikipedia
> --
>
> Katherine Maher (she/her)
>
> Executive Director
>
> 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Video Wiki

2019-02-27 Thread Brion Vibber
That's pretty cool! I'll add some more notes on the wiki page later.

-- brion

On Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 9:55 PM James Heilman  wrote:

> Hey All
>
> We have a new project called Video Wiki
>  which
> allows:
>
>1. The easy creation of videos from scripts from Wikipedia and images /
>short video segments from Commons
>2. Scripts can have inline references and the text of the script with
>references end up in the captions of the video with references. These
>captions can be turned on and off
>3. At the end of the video it automatically adds
>   1.  the license for the text (CC BY SA license)
>   2. attribution of those who have edited the scripts
>   3. all the metadata for the references supporting the scripts
>4. The final video version on Commons lists the files that the video is
>derived from
>5. Attribution for the images is automatically added at the bottom of
>each image
>
>
> Have started a discussion here on Wikipedia and would appreciate peoples
> thoughts. Will be drafting a formal RfC about the use of such videos
> eventually.
>
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Medicine#Video_Wiki
>
>
> --
> James Heilman
> MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcing the Wikimedia Technical Committee (TechCom)

2017-07-31 Thread Brion Vibber
Woohoo!

-- brion


On Jul 29, 2017 9:43 AM, "Victoria Coleman"  wrote:

Hello All!

Daniel and I would like to share some good news:


After  talking about it for years, and vetting the draft for months,
it's finally done: the Architecture Committee has adopted a proper charter
defining its purpose, operation, and authority.

You can find the charter here:
>

The charter among other things defines from where the committee draws its
authority over technical development at the WMF: the committee acts as an
extension of the CTO. This gives the committee  a clear role in the
foundation's decision
making processes.

The charter also clarifies the scope of TechCom: it is to act as an
authority on
technical decisions regarding any official software that serves Wikimedia
users.
The committee should be involved in matters regarding such software that are
strategic, cross-cutting, or hard to undo.

The committee has also given itself a new name, to better fit the scope as
defined in the charter: we are now the Wikimedia Technical Committee
(TechCom).

Looking forward to working with the technical community to fulfill the
charter!


Victoria & Daniel






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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wiki Speaks Your Language

2017-01-13 Thread Brion Vibber
That's great! If you have any troubles with the media uploading or playback
let me know. There are a number of still-open issues with audio/video, so
don't be shy about filing bugs on phabricator.wikimedia.org. :)

-- brion

On Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 9:25 AM, Kiril Simeonovski <
kiril.simeonov...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> I am pleased to announce the launch of the Wiki Speaks Your Language [1]
> initiative with the goal of enriching the Wikimedia projects with freely
> licensed audio and video files documenting spoken examples of every
> language, language variety and dialect in the world.
>
> The idea originates from the curiosity of many readers viewing language
> articles not only to read about the language but also to hear how does it
> sound. In most of the cases, our language articles lack such files and
> readers usually end up searching videos on YouTube, notwithstanding that we
> have the capacity as a movement and the resources to meet their wish.
>
> The initiative lists three possible ways of acquiring freely licensed audio
> and video files:
>
> 1) by adapting existing files on Wikimedia Commons (mostly from the Spoken
> Wikipedia projects [2]);
> 2) by liberating existing files from the repositories of GLAM and
> educational institutions; and
> 3) by engaging Wikimedia communities, GLAM and educational institutions in
> the recording of new files.
>
> In the first phase, the plan is to work with the available resources we
> have and adapt the existing videos from the Spoken Wikipedia projects
> (there
> are some useful tips [3] on what the existing files should be adapted to).
>
> I will be very thankful if members of this list help in spreading the word
> about the initiative through other channels to the communities and`other
> parties in our movement.
>
> Best regards,
> Kiril
>
> [1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wiki_Speaks_Your_Language
> [2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikisound
> [3] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wiki_Speaks_Your_
> Language/Tips#Qualities_of_files
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[Wikimedia-l] Editor safety and anonymity: ending IP address exposure?

2016-11-12 Thread Brion Vibber
The biggest privacy problem in Wikipedia has always been the permanent
public exposure of casual editors' IP addresses.

Secondarily, we store logged-in editors' IP addresses for a limited time,
exposing all editors' IP addresses to access by staff and volunteer
accounts which could be stolen or misused as well as to any potential
attacker who gains sufficient access to the database systems.

I would like to suggest that the Wikimedia editor community, along with the
Wikimedia Foundation as steward of the software and servers, have a serious
consultation about committing to fix this:


1) Eliminate IP address exposure for non-logged-in editors. Those editors
should be either given a random, truly anonymous identifier, or required to
create a pseudonym as a login.

2) Seriously think about how this will affect workflows tracking and
fighting vandalism, and provide tools that do not depend on public exposure
of network addresses.

3) Avoid public exposure or long-term logging of any other
location-specific or network-specific information about anonymous users.

4) Consider stronger controls on storage of IP addresses in the databases
and how they are secured, in the face of possible attacks through social
engineering, security vulnerabilities, or state action. Think about what
really needs to be stored and what types of data recovery are possible when
storing truly personal-private data in shared databases.


-- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com / brion @ wikimedia.org)
Lead Software Architect, Wikimedia Foundation
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Wikimedia Foundation Form 990 for FY 2014-2015 now on-wiki

2016-06-07 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sun, Jun 5, 2016 at 9:17 PM, Pine W  wrote:

> I've been following this discussion with some interest. Can someone point
> us to where Sue's compensation, after she left the Executive Director role,
> was budgeted in the WMF annual plans? That money cannot have come out of
> nowhere. Which line item, or line items, in the 2015-2016 Annual Plan were
> tapped for these funds?
>

The 2015-2016 Annual Plan[1] lists 2 FTEs under 'Executive', whereas the
2015-2014 plan[2] listed 1.

I'm not sure if this represents the second full-time equivalent contracting
expense for the former-ED advisor role being added, or if the ED's personal
assistant role got moved in to that 'department', or if that means
something else, but it struck me as odd. (Unlike the other functional
areas, there is no breakdown given by type.)

[1]
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/4/43/WMF2015-16AnnualPlan.pdf
under "Appending B", "Staffing by Functional Area"
[2]
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/e/e0/2014-15_Wikimedia_Foundation_Plan.pdf
under "Staffing by Functional Area"




>
> A second question. WMF demands exhaustive reporting from affiliates for far
> smaller amounts of money than Sue received. I am hoping that WMF followed
> good practice by having a careful accounting of how Sue's time was used to
> benefit WMF in a manner consistent with the intent of donors when they give
> to WMF. Is there an accounting for Sue's use of time as a contractor, and
> if so, in what level of detail do those records exist?
>
> My impression from Jan-Bart's emails was that Sue's role as Special Advisor
> was a volunteer role, similar to Advisory Board members. Why was Sue's
> contractor status not disclosed in those emails?
>
> As Lodewijk said, why was Sue not shown on the public list of paid staff
> and contractors? Interns who earn far less than $300k per year are included
> on that list; I cannot imagine what good reason there would be to have
> excluded Sue from the list unless there was an intent to hide that she
> continued to be paid by WMF.
>
> I am greatly troubled by this situation. It was opaque, the accounting
> appears to be lax, and the more I look at it the more it seems to have been
> intentionally concealed in a manner that was inappropriate and designed to
> avoid transparency and accountability.
>

Yes, it's worrying whether it's deliberate obfuscation or whether it's a
case of "left hand not knowing what the right is doing".

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What New Thing is WMF Doing w. Cookies, & Why is Legal Involved?

2016-05-02 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sun, May 1, 2016 at 9:21 PM, Oliver Keyes  wrote:

> One element I can answer: no, it does not contain flash objects, flash is
> not a technology included in the Wikimedia stack on account of it barely
> being classifiable as a technology.
>

There is one use of Flash in our tech stack: audio output for media
playback on Internet Explorer when using our JavaScript Ogg playback
compatibility library.

This is a small shim which does not use cookies or any other type of local
storage, which is why it is not listed on a page about cookies.

Here's the source code of the Flash component; feel free to review it for
security:

https://github.com/brion/audio-feeder/blob/master/src/dynamicaudio.as


On Sunday, 1 May 2016, Toby Dollmann  wrote:
> > 1. Whether, or not, editors of Wikimedia websites", say
> > "en.wikipedia.org" or "commons.wikimedia.org", can edit if cookies
> > (broadly construed) are disabled and not stored on client devices.
>

Like every other site on the world wide web, MediaWiki uses cookies to
maintain login state. If you disable cookies, login will not work and your
edits will not be attributed to your account.

Editing "anonymously" without cookies works, but reveals your IP address in
a permanent public way.


> > 2. Whether, or not, the locally stored objects referenced in the
> > cookie policy include
> > (i)  Javascript code, or
>

MediaWiki's ResourceLoader can and does cache JavaScript module code in
localStorage. This code has no special privileges or abilities because of
that; it just takes up a tiny bit of space on your disk.


> > (ii)  Flash objects
>

No, no Flash code is stored in cookies or localStorage.


> >
> > 3. Whether, or not, the locally stored objects inserted by the WMF, on
> > client computers and stored there, have the capability of collecting
> > extensive personal information of editors, the degree of which not
> > being explicitly disclosed in advance to users.
>

No, they are just data until they are executed, at which point they are
just code, same as code loaded straight from the server. That code can do
nothing special that it could not already do.

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

2016-04-08 Thread Brion Vibber
Denny, thanks for all the work you've put in over the years and in your
time on the board in particular -- it's been rough indeed lately, and I
understand the need to refocus.

Looking forward to continuing to hear from you in the future!

-- brion

On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 7:17 PM, Denny Vrandecic 
wrote:

> I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
>
> I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
> to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
> very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
> regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> employment.
>
> This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
>
> This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
> though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
> refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
>
> There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
> would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> the case.
>
> I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
> to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
>
> As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
> that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
>
> It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
> myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
> will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
> then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
> reasonable timeframe.
>
> And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
> take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
> regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
> on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
>
> I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
>
> I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
> of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> option remains.
>
> So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
>
> It was not an easy decision, and 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Qualities for the next long-term WMF executive director

2016-03-07 Thread Brion Vibber
I do feel the need to warn against making a checklist of good qualities for
potential candidates...

First, a lot of these things are hard to interview for. If you ask someone
if they support their employees and give them clear goals, they're probably
going to say "yes". To find out if they consistently can/do in your sort of
work environment, you'd rather need to interview the people they've been
supporting & managing for a while and ask them how *they* feel.

Second, we're never going to find a "unicorn" who is all things to all
people. Real people are imperfect, and real situations are complex.

Third, what happens when the "unicorn" retires and we transition again?


I think we're going to need to think harder about structural remedies:
communications channels, reporting infrastructures, "escape valves" for
miscommunications or squashed communications in the reporting chain, etc.

In government we call these sorts of things "checks and balances", and we
want them in place both when we like the people being elected into office
and when we are deeply distrustful of them.


I don't advocate huge changes done quickly, but I strongly advocate making
some small steps in the short term; at a minimum, quickly establishing the
promised ombudsperson role to provide an alternate channel for reporting
problems in the regular reporting chain would go a long way to restoring
trust lost in November-February.

-- brion



On Sun, Mar 6, 2016 at 7:19 PM, Pine W  wrote:

> Food for thought:
>
>
> http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-best-managers-exhibit-these-7-behaviors-2016-1
>
> Looking forward to further discussions in the weeks and months ahead,
>
> Pine
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Executive transition planning

2016-03-04 Thread Brion Vibber
Alice, thanks for the update.

I'm broadly hopeful; delegating with your staff's C level team is an
excellent step I very much like to see happening.

I would very much like to make sure that communications lines open further
between the board and their C levels and below, and that those continue to
rebuild the health of the organization.

Define some boxes for us, just not alone. :) We're all in this together.

-- brion
On Mar 4, 2016 6:15 PM, "Alice Wiegand"  wrote:

> Hi all,
> short update, as announced by Patricio:
>
> Our organization needs stability, it needs a chance to rest for a moment
> and to move on with the things that matter at the same time. That’s why the
> Board  is aiming for a quick decision about the interim ED.
>
> If you want to make a difference you need to act differently.
>
> We know that our C-level team is doing a great job in managing the
> day-to-day-operations and they all have a deep understandning of our
> culture, challenges and needs. Who, if not them, knows better what is best
> for the organization in this moment. The Board is not best suited to make a
> decision about the interim which can quickly be established and accepted in
> this situation.
>
> Therefor the board empowers the entire C-level-team to come up with a
> solution for the interim question. We leave it up to them how that
> decisions looks like. We trust them to think traditional or outside of the
> box as it fits to our organization, the Wikimedia Foundation. The
> C-level-team needs some time to deliberate and decide. They will present
> their result to the board which has to vote on it. We plan to finalize
> until the end of next week.
>
> Alice.
>
> --
> Alice Wiegand
> Board of Trustees
> Wikimedia Foundation
>
>
> --
> Alice Wiegand
> Board of Trustees
> Wikimedia Foundation
>
> Support Free Knowledge: https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Executive transition planning

2016-03-04 Thread Brion Vibber
There's less weakness in admitting a failure honestly, retreating and
regrouping, than in powering through when knowing oneself unprepared.

-- brion
On Mar 4, 2016 7:07 PM, "MZMcBride"  wrote:

> Alice Wiegand wrote:
> >We know that our C-level team is doing a great job in managing the
> >day-to-day-operations and they all have a deep understandning of our
> >culture, challenges and needs. Who, if not them, knows better what is best
> >for the organization in this moment. The Board is not best suited to make
> >a decision about the interim which can quickly be established and accepted
> >in this situation.
> >
> >Therefor the board empowers the entire C-level-team to come up with a
> >solution for the interim question. We leave it up to them how that
> >decisions looks like. We trust them to think traditional or outside of the
> >box as it fits to our organization, the Wikimedia Foundation. The
> >C-level-team needs some time to deliberate and decide. They will present
> >their result to the board which has to vote on it. We plan to finalize
> >until the end of next week.
>
> Current Wikimedia Foundation "C-levels" based on
> :
>
> * Lila Tretikov, Executive Director
> * Wes Moran, Vice President of Product
> * [vacant], Chief Technology Officer
> * Maggie Dennis, Senior Director of Community Engagement (Interim)
> * Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, Chief Advancement Officer
> * Geoff Brigham, General Counsel
> * Katherine Maher, Chief Communications Officer
> * Jaime Villagomez, Chief Financial Officer
> * Joady Lohr, Vice President of Human Resources (Interim)
>
> Does the "C-level team" in this context include Lila and/or the interims?
>
> My vote is for Geoff Brigham. There's precedent for the General Counsel to
> be interim Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, of course. And
> Geoff has been around long enough and is trusted to be a good steward of
> the Wikimedia Foundation. I don't think an outsider would be a good idea.
>
> I don't see it as a sign of strength to abdicate your responsibility in
> this way. This action makes the Board of Trustees, already perceived as
> being weak, look even weaker, out-of-touch, and unprepared. You've known
> about general discontent with the Executive Director since November 2015
> and you really weren't able, by March 2016, to figure out who would serve
> as interim Executive Director? This is almost derelict behavior.
>
> I don't think anyone demands perfection from members of the Board of
> Trustees, but it is an actual commitment to an organization that has a
> very large budget and a large number of staff operating a fairly important
> set of Web properties. The fact that nine adults really didn't think
> through the consequences of "what comes next after the current Executive
> Director?" in order to come prepared with an answer to the most obvious
> question ("who will be the interim?") is pretty embarrassing and sad.
>
> MZMcBride
>
>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open and recorded WMF Board meetings

2016-03-03 Thread Brion Vibber
On Mar 3, 2016 8:19 AM, "Pete Forsyth"  wrote:
>
> Enjoying this discussion, glad to see it happening. One question I haven't
> seen addressed:
>
> Are there notes kept during executive sessions?

Per the minutes policy listed on wiki yes they are kept; they are kept
separate by the secretary and not published.

-- Brion

>
> From what I've seen, it seems that the answer might be no -- and that
> doesn't seem good. Having minutes is not the same thing as publishing
> minutes; but keeping notes on private meetings, if only for the
> participants to return to when there is a need to refresh their memories
or
> resolve disputes, seems important.
>
> For similar reasons, I like the idea of video- or audio-recording
meetings,
> *independent* of the question of whether such recordings should be more
> widely distributed.
>
> -Pete
> [[User:Peteforsyth]]
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open and recorded WMF Board meetings

2016-03-03 Thread Brion Vibber
*nod* very good points; it may be worth thinking about whether "minutes"
and "communicating a clear reference of what's going on" should be distinct
issues treated separately. If we've been conflating them in out discussion
that might be leading some of us down wrong paths in potential solutions.

Definitely agree on not making major changes too fast. Thoughtful,
deliberate changes only!

-- brion
On Mar 3, 2016 8:03 AM, "Risker" <risker...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 3 March 2016 at 10:36, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org> wrote:
>
> > On Mar 3, 2016 7:00 AM, "Risker" <risker...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Those who think it's an easy task that should be
> > > able to be done practically after the meeting is over tend to have no
> > real
> > > experience with writing and managing minutes at the international
> > > non-profit board level and may not fully understand why it it is
> > important
> > > that they are correct before they're published.  Publicly presenting an
> > > early, uncorrected draft will lead to nothing but tears, but there are
> 9
> > > board members (plus individual presenters) who have to read, correct
> and
> > > approve [sections of] the minutes.  The WMF Board is not and should not
> > be
> > > the most important person in the lives of any of our board members.
> >
> > What sort of problems are envisioned from public drafting of minutes lead
> > by a dedicated secretary/minute-wrangler (ideally a professional staff
> > member with experience doing this and enough time to dedicate to it
> rather
> > than double-booking a trustee or a C-level)?
> >
> > -- brion
> >
> >
> Well, there's the fact that board minutes are actually legal documents;
> they are required by law, they need to contain certain information, and
> they are binding on the organization.  I do not believe you will find
> any major international non-profit organization (whether or not they've got
> strong community links, support open and free knowledge, or are just
> ordinary charities) that would publish drafts of their legal documents.
> Getting approved versions out more promptly, and in particular including
> more information and context for the decisions and discussion, is probably
> a  better first objective; this should be achievable because we can find
> good examples from other organizations.
>
> And, not to put too fine a point on it, but there are plenty of people who
> will point to the public draft and insist that's the "real" information and
> that any subsequent modifications were made for political reasons rather
> than to reflect correct information.  I think it's fair to say that, as of
> this precise moment, there's not a huge assumption of good faith directed
> at the board by at least some sectors of the broad community.  Whether or
> not it is deserved, I think it reasonable to say that the Board has some
> work in regaining the trust of the community. I'd encourage them to start
> with small steps that are easily repeated and documented and don't need a
> lot of exceptions, so that they will be building a more solid foundation.
> Making major changes that, after a few months, turn out to be
> unsustainable, will be more harmful than helpful.
>
> Risker/Anne
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open and recorded WMF Board meetings

2016-03-03 Thread Brion Vibber
On Mar 3, 2016 7:00 AM, "Risker"  wrote:
Those who think it's an easy task that should be
> able to be done practically after the meeting is over tend to have no real
> experience with writing and managing minutes at the international
> non-profit board level and may not fully understand why it it is important
> that they are correct before they're published.  Publicly presenting an
> early, uncorrected draft will lead to nothing but tears, but there are 9
> board members (plus individual presenters) who have to read, correct and
> approve [sections of] the minutes.  The WMF Board is not and should not be
> the most important person in the lives of any of our board members.

What sort of problems are envisioned from public drafting of minutes lead
by a dedicated secretary/minute-wrangler (ideally a professional staff
member with experience doing this and enough time to dedicate to it rather
than double-booking a trustee or a C-level)?

-- brion

>
> Risker/Anne
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open and recorded WMF Board meetings

2016-03-03 Thread Brion Vibber
On Mar 3, 2016 6:16 AM, "Risker"  wrote:
>
> I often participate and present at meetings where I am not formally part
of
> the group or committee, and will be asked to review sections of the
minutes
> that relate to my presentation/participation/comments.   I've discovered
> that in about 60% of the draft minutes I review, major points are missed
or
> are misinterpreted or key facts  may be misreported or misrepresented.
Even
> the ones that are almost entirely correct usually need some editing. There
> have been times when I've rewritten the entire section for the
> minute-taker.  It may reflect on my ability to present the material, or
the
> level of knowledge to understand the presentation, or something else
> entirely - but the bottom line is that the first draft of minutes is
almost
> never completely right.  (That's why we call them drafts...)

This makes me think "release early, release often" -- quick publishing of
draft notes so they can be reviewed and questions asked for clarification.

And/or lean further on recording to ensure that incorrect or missing notes
can be corrected by double checking what was actually said.

>
> For the WMF board, we throw in the additional complexity of having a large
> part of the board working in a non-primary language. This should not be
> discounted as an issue; it is actually one of the bigger factors that
board
> communications needs to deal with.

This is a legitimate concern deserving more thought at all levels of our
movement.

> I would love for the board to be able to complete and approve their
meeting
> minutes within a few weeks. I understand why they have a hard time.
>
> Risker/Anne

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open and recorded WMF Board meetings

2016-03-03 Thread Brion Vibber
On Thursday, March 3, 2016, Chris Keating 
wrote:

> >
> > Why would minutes be written after the fact instead of during the meeting
> > by the designated note taker(s)?
>
>
> Because the notes you take as you go along aren't in a fit state to serve
> as minutes?


I'd appreciate a closer perspective on what that means; what sort of
changes actually happen between notes taken at the time and the eventual
publishing? Practically speaking, what could change in how they're taken or
reviewed to make sure that happens faster?

-- brion


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open and recorded WMF Board meetings

2016-03-03 Thread Brion Vibber
On Thursday, March 3, 2016, Chris Sherlock 
wrote:
>
>
> That does NOT take 3 weeks. I would also suggest if the Board are too busy
> to provide input on the minutes of Board business then they need to either
> reduce their commitments, or they need to step away from the Board. They
> have responsibilities that they committed to when they accepted their
> position on the Board and they need to take them seriously.


I would ask that we tone down some of the personal vitriol... We've got
broken *processes* here, which are being followed.

In the common parlance: "don't hate the player, hate the game."

-- brion



>
> Chris
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open and recorded WMF Board meetings

2016-03-03 Thread Brion Vibber
On Thursday, March 3, 2016, Chris Keating 
wrote:
>
> 3) 3 weeks for publication of minutes sounds like a reasonable time frame
> to me. I'm seeing a few "How can it take 3 WEEKS??!!?!?" reactions from
> people. Probably because the Board spends all weekend meeting then on
> Monday go back to their jobs. Then someone starts writing up the minutes
> from their notes, probably the next weekend. The realise they need to query
> something and drop someone an email about it. They respond on Tuesday, by
> which point the minute-writer is spending the free evening they dedicate to
> Board work on addressing some other issue and the next chance they get to
> look at it is first thing on Saturday morning - they spend Saturday morning
> writing up minutes and then circulate a draft  which then someone wants
> to amend ... .you get the picture. :)


Why would minutes be written after the fact instead of during the meeting
by the designated note taker(s)?

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open and recorded WMF Board meetings

2016-03-03 Thread Brion Vibber
On Wednesday, March 2, 2016, Erik Moeller  wrote:
>
>
> To discuss which practices to adopt, it's worth first looking at the
> existing Board manual, which is a remarkably detailed document that
> goes into many of these issues including the exact process for minutes
> publication, what types of information is captured in minutes, and so
> on. [2]
> [2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_Handbook


I'm going to quote the current state of the bit that has always worried me
about minutes:



   - The Secretary takes minutes of the meeting.
   - No more than three weeks after the meeting, the Secretary posts draft
   minutes and a draft resolution to approve the minutes on the Board wiki;
   Board members must amend or vote to approve the minutes within 10 days.
   - No more than five weeks after the meeting, the Secretary posts the
   approved public minutes and any presentations intended for publication, to
   wikimediaannounce-l
   .
   Public minutes and the resolutions approving them are available on the WMF
   wiki at meetings  and
   resolutions . The
   Secretary also certifies a hard copy of the minutes and any referenced
   documents, including any nonpublic portions of the minutes and retains them
   in Board books.



This three to five week delay is very out of step with the best practices
recommended in the rest of the organization.

Please push "send" at the end of the meeting and amend them later with
notes if clarification is required...

The board meetings already have a privacy switch, the executive session
(kick out any visitors and leave a big empty spot in the public notes), for
things that cannot be public.

-- brion
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[Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

2016-03-01 Thread Brion Vibber
On Monday, February 29, 2016, Erik Moeller > wrote:
>
> The
> Apple dictionary integration Brion mentions in [4] is an exception to
> the rule; contrary to Brion's recollection it actually predates even
> Sue Gardner and, as far as I know, was not announced at the time.


Double checking my email archives I can confirm it was 2006 not 2008, yes.
(That was the year before we hired Sue, and a time when we had no
professional business development people, just informal connections made
via board or the acting ED at the time.) The Apple deal was indeed the
exception that confirmed our commitment to the rule.

-- brion
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[Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

2016-02-29 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 29, 2016 3:13 AM, "Ilario Valdelli" <valde...@gmail.com
<javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','valde...@gmail.com');>> wrote:
>
> Hi,
> in my opinion there is no need to differentiate and to clarify what
> "high-tech" means.
>
> The real problem is to define the KPIs (key performance indicators) and a
> balanced relation of those indicators.
>
> A corporation can be a high-tech corporation and take care of the comfort
> of all stakeholders without problems, the big deal is to find this
balanced
> relation.

I too like measuring things, but I think we can't just measure people and
expect that's going to create a healthy productive environment for staff
and volunteers. I think you have to talk and listen to people to do that.
Rant time:

It's great to track measurable things to engage in a feedback loop for
whether we're accomplishing our goals, but the measures are always limited
in what they tell you; at best they're proxies for the information you
really wanted -- such as "page views" when we want to know "how many people
are learning and improving their lives through Wikipedia?" or active editor
counts when we want to know "do we have a strong, healthy volunteer
workforce?"

It's very common for such feedback loops to fail dramatically when you
optimize for the measurement instead of for your actual goals...

Focusing on KPIs is how people die in hospitals (because the sickest people
don't get risky surgery to keep post-op survival rates up) or schools with
at-risk children get defunded here in the US (schools whose students
get low standardized testing results are punished under the "No Child Left
Behind" law of 2001).

This link came up in some discussions off list, and aligns with my concerns:
http://www.the-american-interest.com/2015/08/03/the-costs-of-accountability/

-- brion

>
> Kind regards
>
>
>
> On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 10:29 PM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org
<javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','bvib...@wikimedia.org');>>
> wrote:
>
> > I think there are many different interpretations of what it means to
"be a
> > high-tech organization", which makes it a difficult label to base
arguments
> > around; readers will interpret it very differently depending on their
> > personal experiences and biases.
> >
> > One view might concentrate on notions of "innovation", "excellence", or
> > "return on investment" achieved through super-smart people creating
unique
> > technology -- this view associates "high-tech" with success, competitive
> > advantage, brand awareness/marketshare, and money (profit for
traditional
> > corporations, or investment in the mission for non-profits).
> >
> > Another view might concentrate on other features considered common to
> > "high-tech" companies such as toxic work environments, lack of
diversity,
> > overemphasis on engineering versus other disciplines, disconnection from
> > users' needs, and a laser-focus on achieving profits at the expense of
> > long-term thinking. This view associates "high-tech" with social and
> > economic inequality and exploitation of employees and users for their
labor
> > & attention to the detriment of their physical and emotional health.
> >
> > And there are many, much subtler connotations to be found in between.
> >
> >
> > I believe a high-tech organization should invest in smart people
creating
> > unique technology. But I also think it should invest in people, period.
> > Staff and volunteers must be cultivated and supported -- that's how
loyalty
> > and passion are developed, and I believe they pay dividends in
productivity
> > and recruitment.
> >
> > Absolutely Wikimedia Foundation needs to build better technologies --
> > technologies to serve the needs of our editors, our readers, our
> > photographers, our citation reviewers, etc. This means Wikimedia
Foundation
> > needs a good relationship with those people to research, brainstorm,
plan,
> > develop, test, redevelop, retest, and roll out software successfully.
The
> > people who represent Wikimedia Foundation in those relationships are its
> > staff, so it's important for management to support them in their work
and
> > help them succeed.
> >
> > It is my sincere hope that when the current crises are resolved, that
the
> > Board of Trustees and the executive can agree on at least this much as a
> > shared vision for the Foundation.
> >
> > -- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

2016-02-29 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Pharos <pharosofalexand...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi fellow Wikimedians,
>
> If we are seriously going to consider an expanded Community Council as an
> alternative to WMF BoT reform, we need to have a real discussion about what
> "devolution" would mean, and what specific responsibilities we think should
> be given up, and distributed to a broader community governance.
>
> For example:
>
> Should the WMF BoT devolve a non-core portion of the budget?  How would the
> core portion be defined, and the non-core aspects?


Our current situation is that WMF centralizes most fundraising for the
movement, distributes a portion of it to other movement organizations, and
spends the rest itself to support movement goals such as the hosting and
fundraising infrastructure, engineering support to improve the tools that
movement contributors use, public communications, legal support, etc.

In a multi-org world with national chapters like WMDE doing engineering
projects and sister organizations like WEF doing editor
coordination work, I think it's already incorrect to think of Wikimedia
movement fundraising monies as belonging to WMF and a "non-core" portion of
them potentially being devolved.

Rather, WMF provides fundraising to the movement as a service. WMF should
be only one of multiple orgs seeking disbursement of raised movement funds
in an open, documented, and transparent process (FDC?)



> Should the WMF BoT devolve aspects of the approval or closing of sister
> sites? (Wiktionary, Wikidata, Wikinews, a potential genealogy project)


Almost certainly. WMF is a provider of engineering and hosting services to
the movement; the BoT thereof provides oversight of its operations, but
should possibly not be deciding what community members can and can't work
on. It's the movement and its representatives who should decide what major
projects to include under the collective umbrella, and WMF's job to host
and support them.

Should the WMF BoT devolve aspects related to Wikimania and related
> regional meetings?


Yes. Most likely they should be operated by purpose-built institutions
specializing in this, like many large conventions and conferences are.

-- brion


>
> Thanks,
> Pharos
>
> On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 12:43 PM, Emmanuel Engelhart <kel...@kiwix.org
> <javascript:;>>
> wrote:
>
> > On 28.02.2016 15:53, Brion Vibber wrote:
> > > I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of
> the
> > > last few days:
> > >
> > > Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals
> > (like,
> > > saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of
> movement
> > > leadership or community representation. Not because they think it
> > shouldn't
> > > happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board
> of
> > > Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.
> > >
> > > I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
> > > members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should
> think
> > > about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details
> like
> > > board reform.
> > >
> > > Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
> > > within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
> > > fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
> > > different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens
> > to
> > > have specialized in those roles.
> > >
> > > This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
> > > coordinate and represent and look forward.
> > >
> > > And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a
> mismatch
> > in
> > > hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
> > > communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very
> important
> > > we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might
> > be
> > > needed.
> >
> > Delighting to read this. That said, the path to achieve this looks
> > pretty challenging. Would the WMF be able to organize such a move and
> > "give-up" parts of its duties/activities to better focus on core
> business?
> >
> > Emmanuel
> >
> > --
> > Kiwix - Wikipedia Offline & more
> > * Web: http://www.kiwix.org
> > * Twitter: https://twitter.com/KiwixOffline
> > * more: http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Communication
> >
> >
> > __

Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a *volunteer* organization

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 28, 2016 7:23 PM, "David Emrany" <david.emr...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi Brion
>
> When you refer to patches with other movements / affiliates, are you
> proposing that WMF sponsors more Gibraltrapedias ?

Never heard of it, so can't comment.

-- brion

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibraltarpedia
>
> Have we forgotten so soon the adverse media publicity about these
> stealth PR campaigns
>
> "Once Wikipedia becomes a pay-to-play platform in any sense, it's no
> longer a balanced, universal wellspring of information. It's just
> another commercial website, with a particularly insidious brand of
> camouflaged advertising. Any company with a sly enough PR person could
> promote ostensibly fascinating facts about its products" [1]
>
> "payment of money to Wikipedia editors represented "the greatest
> threat the [Wikipedia] brand has seen to date" [2].
>
> Lila had taken the first technical / automation /AI steps to identify
> / weed out the paid editing claques which rule the roost. That she was
> eased out in this way shows that WMF is in terminal disrepair, and I
> resent Flo's attempt to deflect this thread away from the numerous
> paid editing controversies which have dogged the projects since the
> very beginning and systematically driven away all competent potential
> long-term contributors.
>
> At the risk of being unpopular, I suggest the long-term health of our
> projects require that its not about empowering our volunteers but
> about regulating them.
>
> David
>
> [1]
http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/09/20/roger_bamkin_gibraltor_s_repeated_appearance_on_did_you_know_provkes_existential_crisis_for_wikipedia_.html
>
> [2] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/20/wikimedia_uk_scandal/
>
> On 2/29/16, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> > Two distinct issues, I think:
> >
> > 1) about improving community representation in power structures, I
think we
> > have to think more about what representation we want and what structures
> > would accomplish it. I have no answers but think we should consider
looking
> > beyond WMF alone:
> >
> >
https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2016-February/082703.html
> >
> > 2) about support for volunteers to get stuff done effectively: I'll have
> > mostly tech-focused thoughts on that because that's where my expertise
is,
> > so you need to hear from other people who interact with a wider set of
> > volunteers than patch contributors and the people who manage to figure
out
> > our feedback systems. :) whether that should be funded by / staffed
within
> > WMF or our other movement orgs or both is an open question.
> >
> > -- brion
> > On Feb 28, 2016 11:51 AM, "David Cuenca Tudela" <dacu...@gmail.com>
wrote:
> >
> >> Brion,
> >> so far in the discussions I have seen more weight to the idea of the
WMF
> >> as
> >> a tech provider for the community, and not so much conversation about
> >> other
> >> roles that the organization could fulfill besides of tech / grant
making.
> >> So when you see that we are agreeing, do you mean that there should be
> >> more
> >> power transferred to the communities and that there should be a greater
> >> focus in empowering volunteers?
> >> How would you increase the participation of volunteers in the
direction of
> >> the movement? And how to offer volunteers the opportunity to become
more
> >> dedicated without paying them directly?
> >>
> >> Cheers
> >> Micru
>
> ___
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 28, 2016 12:29 PM, "Anthony Cole" <ahcole...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Brion, are you aware of any WMF tech work aimed specifically at helping
> large for-profits engage with our projects? Andreas mentioned a
> side-project for Amazon.

As far as I know, Wikipedia lookups via Apple's  Siri and Amazon Kindle's
lookup widget are handled 100% by Apple and Amazon respectively. They get
our data (presumably through our open data dumps), censor it, index it, and
write and maintain their own search and snippet display services.

And here's an example perhaps of why:

In 2008 or so WMF made an agreement with Apple to provide a search API for
the Mac OS X Dictionary app, which screen-scrapes Wikipedia articles as one
of the lookup options. They paid us a small sum and provided source for a
sample implementation, which I replaced with a one-file PHP script proxying
to our existing OpenSearch API. The entirety of effort on our end since has
been occasionally moving the PHP file to another server.

We found it was a bad deal -- in terms of it was moderately annoying
sometimes for ops and was pretty unclear in success terms, and they paid us
very little to begin with because we had no experienced business
development folks yet. We never made further such agreements that I'm aware
of.

I suppose Andreas might also be referring to work in mobile apps or mobile
web teams to improve compatibility with various systems, such as making
sure our Android app is installable on the Android-based Amazon Kindle Fire
devices. That's to benefit users by making sure they can use our free app
(open source and no-cost) on their devices regardless of which megacorp
made the device.

If that's "work for a company" then I have bad news -- our web site works
in browsers made by for-profit companies too! ;)

If there's anything else I'd really appreciate not having to guess at what
we're supposed to be defending or denying.

> Regardless of specific instances, in principle, would that be a reasonable
> place to invest general donation revenue, or should we get the for-profits
> to fund such work if it arises?

I don't even know what is being referred to so I'm not sure how to talk
about it. If talking about compatibility work that helps users, then I
think that's part of our job to do. If talking about making search engines,
they can and do just do it themselves without our involvement.

-- brion

>
> On Monday, 29 February 2016, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org> wrote:
>
> > On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Andreas Kolbe <jayen...@gmail.com
> > <javascript:;>> wrote:
> >
> > > Jimmy,
> > >
> > > I think the first step is for the Foundation to be more open and
> > > transparent about what work it is actually doing for commercial
re-users,
> > > and to announce such work proactively to both donors and the
community.
> > > There should be a dedicated space where such information is collected
and
> > > available to the public. Major developments should be announced on the
> > > Wikimedia blog.
> > >
> > > If some engineering team does work *specifically* for Amazon Kindle,
> > Amazon
> > > Echo, Google Play, Siri etc., then in my view the companies concerned
> > > should pay for that work, or the work should be left to a for-profit
> > > contractor. It should not be paid for by donors.
> >
> >
> > What non-hypothetical work are you referring to?
> >
> > {{cn}}
> >
> > -- brion
> >
> >
> > > Donors do not give money to the Foundation so it can flood the
knowledge
> > > market with a free product that a handful of companies then earn
billions
> > > from.
> > >
> > > As for API use, if there are *generic* APIs that multiple commercial
> > > re-users can benefit from, then they should be charged according to
their
> > > usage, with small users operating below a certain threshold being
exempt
> > > from payment.
> > >
> > > Lastly, we should not seek world domination. :) It's unhealthy,
> > especially
> > > in the world of information and knowledge. Prices should be high
enough
> > > that some competition is possible.
> > >
> > > Andreas
> > >
> > > On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 5:32 PM, Jimmy Wales <jimmywa...@ymail.com
> > <javascript:;>
> > > <javascript:;>> wrote:
> > >
> > > >
> > > > On the very specific topic of donor funding going to help commercial
> > > > re-users, we've had some interesting but inconclusive board
discussions
> > > > about this topic.  Despite that he takes every opportunity to attack
> > me,
> > > &g

Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a *volunteer* organization

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
Two distinct issues, I think:

1) about improving community representation in power structures, I think we
have to think more about what representation we want and what structures
would accomplish it. I have no answers but think we should consider looking
beyond WMF alone:

https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2016-February/082703.html

2) about support for volunteers to get stuff done effectively: I'll have
mostly tech-focused thoughts on that because that's where my expertise is,
so you need to hear from other people who interact with a wider set of
volunteers than patch contributors and the people who manage to figure out
our feedback systems. :) whether that should be funded by / staffed within
WMF or our other movement orgs or both is an open question.

-- brion
On Feb 28, 2016 11:51 AM, "David Cuenca Tudela" <dacu...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Brion,
> so far in the discussions I have seen more weight to the idea of the WMF as
> a tech provider for the community, and not so much conversation about other
> roles that the organization could fulfill besides of tech / grant making.
> So when you see that we are agreeing, do you mean that there should be more
> power transferred to the communities and that there should be a greater
> focus in empowering volunteers?
> How would you increase the participation of volunteers in the direction of
> the movement? And how to offer volunteers the opportunity to become more
> dedicated without paying them directly?
>
> Cheers
> Micru
>
> On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 8:10 PM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org>
> wrote:
>
> > David, you appear to be agreeing strongly with me, not disagreeing. :)
> >
> > -- brion
> >
> > On Sunday, February 28, 2016, David Cuenca Tudela <dacu...@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I am starting a new thread because I disagree with the idea that the
> WMF
> > > should be a high-tech organization as the other thread by Brion seemed
> to
> > > suggest. Yes, technology is a tool that we use in our mission to gather
> > and
> > > process all forms of human knowledge, but in the end the driving force
> is
> > > volunteership.
> > >
> > > Without volunteers there wouldn't be any movement and there wouldn't be
> > any
> > > need for tools, or any donations whatsoever. It is the concept of
> working
> > > for free for the common good that allows us to exist and fulfill our
> > > mission. The WMF is instrumental in providing the tools for it to
> happen,
> > > but those tools are not only technological, they are also legal,
> > > educational, and social, however when talking through computer screens
> we
> > > seem to forget that.
> > >
> > > A hi-tech tool can work for a given task or not, but there are more
> > > important topics like trust, commitment, empowerment, motivation, and
> joy
> > > that cannot be assessed so easily, and that are at least as crucial as
> > any
> > > software. What is the point of having a perfect tool Z if I don't enjoy
> > > working with my fellows on a common mission?
> > >
> > > The role of nurturing volunteers is not exclusive of affiliate
> > > organizations, the WMF offer grants to volunteers and organizes several
> > > gatherings. Is that enough to strengthen the volunteer community? Then
> I
> > > look at organizations like WOOF or workaway that thrive with full-time
> > > volunteers and I wonder if more opportunities could be opened for our
> > > volunteers.
> > > Is there anything holding us back to try new things besides old
> patterns
> > of
> > > participation?
> > >
> > > It is a challenge to do more for the volunteer community without
> > resorting
> > > to grants or payment, but that is the key to succeed as a volunteer
> > > organization, to provide an ecosystem where personal growth is
> possible.
> > >
> > > I am interested in hearing what others have to say about it. Maybe it
> is
> > > possible to gather ideas or even a team of people who wants to research
> > > more information about the topic.
> > >
> > > Cheers,
> > > Micru
> > > ___
> > > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> > > New messages to: Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org <javascript:;>
> > > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > > <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org <javasc

Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a *volunteer* organization

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org> wrote:

> David, you appear to be agreeing strongly with me, not disagreeing. :)


To clarify, we are strongly agreed that constructive support of people to
accomplish movement goals is why WMF exists.

My message was focused on internal management/staff relations, adding
context to Lila's post.

Your message is focused on external company/volunteer relations -- just as
important and affecting more people -- and with very similar concerns about
giving needed support to help people succeed.

Ok now I'm way over my post quota, so going back to lurking.

-- brion


> -- brion
>
> On Sunday, February 28, 2016, David Cuenca Tudela <dacu...@gmail.com
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','dacu...@gmail.com');>> wrote:
>
>> I am starting a new thread because I disagree with the idea that the WMF
>> should be a high-tech organization as the other thread by Brion seemed to
>> suggest. Yes, technology is a tool that we use in our mission to gather
>> and
>> process all forms of human knowledge, but in the end the driving force is
>> volunteership.
>>
>> Without volunteers there wouldn't be any movement and there wouldn't be
>> any
>> need for tools, or any donations whatsoever. It is the concept of working
>> for free for the common good that allows us to exist and fulfill our
>> mission. The WMF is instrumental in providing the tools for it to happen,
>> but those tools are not only technological, they are also legal,
>> educational, and social, however when talking through computer screens we
>> seem to forget that.
>>
>> A hi-tech tool can work for a given task or not, but there are more
>> important topics like trust, commitment, empowerment, motivation, and joy
>> that cannot be assessed so easily, and that are at least as crucial as any
>> software. What is the point of having a perfect tool Z if I don't enjoy
>> working with my fellows on a common mission?
>>
>> The role of nurturing volunteers is not exclusive of affiliate
>> organizations, the WMF offer grants to volunteers and organizes several
>> gatherings. Is that enough to strengthen the volunteer community? Then I
>> look at organizations like WOOF or workaway that thrive with full-time
>> volunteers and I wonder if more opportunities could be opened for our
>> volunteers.
>> Is there anything holding us back to try new things besides old patterns
>> of
>> participation?
>>
>> It is a challenge to do more for the volunteer community without resorting
>> to grants or payment, but that is the key to succeed as a volunteer
>> organization, to provide an ecosystem where personal growth is possible.
>>
>> I am interested in hearing what others have to say about it. Maybe it is
>> possible to gather ideas or even a team of people who wants to research
>> more information about the topic.
>>
>> Cheers,
>> Micru
>> ___
>> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
>> New messages to: Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
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>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a *volunteer* organization

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Leigh Thelmadatter 
wrote:

> I have to agree here.


Yes.


>
> The WMF and its employees have forgotten that the mission is to support
> the work done on the various wikis, not make work for fireworks for
> themselves.


No.


> Nothing we are dealing with here is new. It is just the eruption of some
> very long-standing problems with the WMF and the tone it sets for the rest
> of the movement.


Yes.


> While some might be celebrating now,


No, except as sense of relief in an immediate part of problem bent
addressed.


> Lila was not the problem.  IMHO, the problem is a lot of hidden
> hierarchies (denied of course). Add to that, that the lack of transparency
> allows the growth of hidden agendas.

Remember this blew when a community selected board member was tossed off
> the board unceremoniously. We find out through this that the community (or
> chapters) have no real voice on the board under the current set up.


Yes.

-- brion


>
>
> > From: dacu...@gmail.com 
> > Date: Sun, 28 Feb 2016 17:52:30 +0100
> > To: wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org 
> > Subject: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a *volunteer* organization
> >
> > I am starting a new thread because I disagree with the idea that the WMF
> > should be a high-tech organization as the other thread by Brion seemed to
> > suggest. Yes, technology is a tool that we use in our mission to gather
> and
> > process all forms of human knowledge, but in the end the driving force is
> > volunteership.
> >
> > Without volunteers there wouldn't be any movement and there wouldn't be
> any
> > need for tools, or any donations whatsoever. It is the concept of working
> > for free for the common good that allows us to exist and fulfill our
> > mission. The WMF is instrumental in providing the tools for it to happen,
> > but those tools are not only technological, they are also legal,
> > educational, and social, however when talking through computer screens we
> > seem to forget that.
> >
> > A hi-tech tool can work for a given task or not, but there are more
> > important topics like trust, commitment, empowerment, motivation, and joy
> > that cannot be assessed so easily, and that are at least as crucial as
> any
> > software. What is the point of having a perfect tool Z if I don't enjoy
> > working with my fellows on a common mission?
> >
> > The role of nurturing volunteers is not exclusive of affiliate
> > organizations, the WMF offer grants to volunteers and organizes several
> > gatherings. Is that enough to strengthen the volunteer community? Then I
> > look at organizations like WOOF or workaway that thrive with full-time
> > volunteers and I wonder if more opportunities could be opened for our
> > volunteers.
> > Is there anything holding us back to try new things besides old patterns
> of
> > participation?
> >
> > It is a challenge to do more for the volunteer community without
> resorting
> > to grants or payment, but that is the key to succeed as a volunteer
> > organization, to provide an ecosystem where personal growth is possible.
> >
> > I am interested in hearing what others have to say about it. Maybe it is
> > possible to gather ideas or even a team of people who wants to research
> > more information about the topic.
> >
> > Cheers,
> > Micru
> > ___
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> > New messages to: Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org 
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> 
> ?subject=unsubscribe>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a *volunteer* organization

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
David, you appear to be agreeing strongly with me, not disagreeing. :)

-- brion

On Sunday, February 28, 2016, David Cuenca Tudela  wrote:

> I am starting a new thread because I disagree with the idea that the WMF
> should be a high-tech organization as the other thread by Brion seemed to
> suggest. Yes, technology is a tool that we use in our mission to gather and
> process all forms of human knowledge, but in the end the driving force is
> volunteership.
>
> Without volunteers there wouldn't be any movement and there wouldn't be any
> need for tools, or any donations whatsoever. It is the concept of working
> for free for the common good that allows us to exist and fulfill our
> mission. The WMF is instrumental in providing the tools for it to happen,
> but those tools are not only technological, they are also legal,
> educational, and social, however when talking through computer screens we
> seem to forget that.
>
> A hi-tech tool can work for a given task or not, but there are more
> important topics like trust, commitment, empowerment, motivation, and joy
> that cannot be assessed so easily, and that are at least as crucial as any
> software. What is the point of having a perfect tool Z if I don't enjoy
> working with my fellows on a common mission?
>
> The role of nurturing volunteers is not exclusive of affiliate
> organizations, the WMF offer grants to volunteers and organizes several
> gatherings. Is that enough to strengthen the volunteer community? Then I
> look at organizations like WOOF or workaway that thrive with full-time
> volunteers and I wonder if more opportunities could be opened for our
> volunteers.
> Is there anything holding us back to try new things besides old patterns of
> participation?
>
> It is a challenge to do more for the volunteer community without resorting
> to grants or payment, but that is the key to succeed as a volunteer
> organization, to provide an ecosystem where personal growth is possible.
>
> I am interested in hearing what others have to say about it. Maybe it is
> possible to gather ideas or even a team of people who wants to research
> more information about the topic.
>
> Cheers,
> Micru
> ___
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> New messages to: Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org 
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Andreas Kolbe  wrote:

> Jimmy,
>
> I think the first step is for the Foundation to be more open and
> transparent about what work it is actually doing for commercial re-users,
> and to announce such work proactively to both donors and the community.
> There should be a dedicated space where such information is collected and
> available to the public. Major developments should be announced on the
> Wikimedia blog.
>
> If some engineering team does work *specifically* for Amazon Kindle, Amazon
> Echo, Google Play, Siri etc., then in my view the companies concerned
> should pay for that work, or the work should be left to a for-profit
> contractor. It should not be paid for by donors.


What non-hypothetical work are you referring to?

{{cn}}

-- brion


> Donors do not give money to the Foundation so it can flood the knowledge
> market with a free product that a handful of companies then earn billions
> from.
>
> As for API use, if there are *generic* APIs that multiple commercial
> re-users can benefit from, then they should be charged according to their
> usage, with small users operating below a certain threshold being exempt
> from payment.
>
> Lastly, we should not seek world domination. :) It's unhealthy, especially
> in the world of information and knowledge. Prices should be high enough
> that some competition is possible.
>
> Andreas
>
> On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 5:32 PM, Jimmy Wales  > wrote:
>
> >
> > On the very specific topic of donor funding going to help commercial
> > re-users, we've had some interesting but inconclusive board discussions
> > about this topic.  Despite that he takes every opportunity to attack me,
> > and surely it will disappoint him to know, but my general view is 100%
> > in agreement with him on the core issue - where commercial re-users are
> > getting enormous value from our work, they should be paying for the
> > engineering resources required for their support.
> >
> > Here are two push-backs on the idea that I do think are deserving of
> > serious consideration:
> >
> > 1. Part of our core mission as a community is free access - will a "pay
> > for service" model for APIs for commercial re-users alienate a
> > significant portion of the community?  Does requiring some to pay while
> > others get it free raise questions similar to those around "net
> > neutrality"?
> >
> > As a historical footnote, there was a deal many years ago with
> > Answers.com to give them access to an API which they used to present our
> > content alongside many other resources.  They paid for that - not a huge
> > amount, but it was meaningful back in those days.  I don't recall this
> > being particularly controversial.
> >
> > 2. In many cases it may be too simplistic to simply say "a company is
> > benefiting, so they should pay".  The point is that *we* also benefit,
> > from increased readership for example, from our work making it to end
> > users as technology changes and as the way people get information
> > changes.  There is certainly a situation where setting too high a price
> > would simply push commercial re-users to not use our content at all, so
> > sensible pricing would be key.  And with real serious ongoing analysis,
> > the right price could still be "free" even if we in principle charge.
> >
> > 
> >
> > For me, despite those being real concerns, I come down firmly on the
> > side of being careful about falling into a trap of doing lots of
> > expensive work for commercial re-users without having them pay.  I don't
> > actually think we do a lot of that right now.  What I'd like to see is
> > more of it, and I'm pretty agnostic about whether that's in the form of
> > "self-financing cottage industries" or a "separate for-profit arm" or
> > within the current engineering organization.  I can see arguments for
> > any of those.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On 2/28/16 8:02 AM, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
> > > On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 3:24 PM, Dariusz Jemielniak  >
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > We COULD outsource most of our tech (I'm not supporting this, I'm just
> > >> giving perspective).
> > >>
> > >
> > >
> > > One thing I've been wondering about of late is how much donor-funded
> the
> > > work the WMF is doing that is primarily designed to support commercial
> > > re-users.
> > >
> > > The other day, I read an Engineering report on the Wikimedia blog that
> > > spoke of the Wikipedia Zero team doing "side project" work for Amazon
> > > Kindle and Google Play.
> > >
> > > I was thinking, Why are donors paying for that? – especially at a time
> > when
> > > the Foundation worries about being able to sustain fundraising growth.
> > >
> > > Wikimedia content is worth billions. Wikidata in particular has huge
> > > potential value for commercial re-users.[1] So have the link-ups
> between
> > > Wikipedia and Amazon, Google, Bing etc.
> > >
> > > It's clear that even in 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Plan and goals for the Wikimedia, the Foundation, the Affiliates and the movement, Re: 2016 Strategic Approaches Report

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 28, 2016 7:37 AM, "Ad Huikeshoven" <a...@wikimedia.nl> wrote:
>
> Reaching out to Brion Vibber explicitly. Brion shared some long and
> interesting posts last week and started a thread about what it means to be
> a high tech organization. My question for Brion is to share his case why
> the WMF should be a high tech organization.

I would argue that it has been one its entire history, with much budget and
staff being in web site operations support and software development.
Whether that's the best way to concentrate WMF resources or not is a
question I won't try to answer myself here, but I believe we have a decade
of precedence.

> In the first breakdown above
> tech(nology) is explicitly mentioned. Is the second breakdown as
'developer
> inclusive' as the first breakdown? Or would technology assume a supportive
> role to the leading programs reach, communities and knowledge?

I find all of these breakdowns to be vaguely worded corporatespeak and hard
to devise actions around.

>
> When I read the current statements of mission, vision, values and guiding
> principles I hardly get the impression the Wikimedia Foundation is a high
> tech organization, or an organization which employs a lot of engineers and
> developers. How should the mission, vision, values or guiding principles
of
> the Wikimedia Foundation be amended to give due weight to engineers and
> developers? Could you elaborate on that Brion.

Engineering does not exist for its own sake, but to accomplish some goal.

In other words, our mission/vision/values/guiding principles should not be
particularly focused on engineers it developers. They should focus on what
the movement wants to accomplish, and WMF's job is to use technology and
other resources to make those things happen.

-- brion
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[Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

2016-02-28 Thread Brion Vibber
I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of the
last few days:

Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals (like,
saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of movement
leadership or community representation. Not because they think it shouldn't
happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board of
Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.

I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should think
about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details like
board reform.

Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens to
have specialized in those roles.

This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
coordinate and represent and look forward.

And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a mismatch in
hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very important
we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might be
needed.

Dream big.
Act with passion.
Talk with thought.
Don't run with scissors.

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What should happen next? My 5 ideas

2016-02-26 Thread Brion Vibber
Strong +1 to Risker.

Collecting ideas to work more on as we move forward: YES. Keeping the
constructive attitude and opened comm channels I've seen here and and among
staff internally: YES.

But let's be deliberate, and considerate. We do have to learn and process
before we implement anything.

That all said I think I'm approaching my monthly list message quota, so I'm
probably going to quiet down on list for a bit as I talk to people in SF. :)

I'll be making public-side notes on meta under my user page.

-- brion
On Feb 26, 2016 4:59 PM, "Risker"  wrote:

> I think in fairness that it is not just staff who are feeling this is all
> moving too fast.  The overwhelming majority of community members, and in
> particular community members who don't read and speak English fluently, are
> likely to be pretty overwhelmed right now too.
>
>
> I am concerned that what we are seeing right now are a whole pile of
> solutions when we haven't yet worked out what the actual problems are.
> This is actually quite a bad thing, because it creates a climate where
> people come to a conclusion about what to do before they have worked out
> whether or not it is solving a problem, creating a different problem,
> "fixing" a non-existent problem, or immaterial to the actual problems.
>
> Let's work out what went wrong before we really start pushing what we think
> will make things right.  The foundation is not a wiki where quick and easy
> corrections are considered the norm; in fact, based on the concerns of some
> that strategy changed practically on a quarterly basis, some slow
> considered thinking is probably called for.  The Wikimedia movement has not
> had time to catch up with current events and certainly doesn't need
> solutions before it's barely worked out why there's a trainwreck on the
> mailing list.  And...perhaps most importantly we are talking about real
> people here. The board and executives, the staff, the community
> memberswe're all people. Moving too fast without figuring out what the
> actual issues are is harmful to the human beings here.
>
> The collective "we" have not had time to understand the problems. Quite a
> few of the "solutions" I've seen on this list in the last 24-48 hours are
> nothing much more than personal wishlists; almost all of them are proposing
> to solve problems that may or may not even exist.
>
> Let's work more on problem identification first.
>
>
> Risker/Anne
>
> On 26 February 2016 at 19:44, Pete Forsyth  wrote:
>
> > To Oliver and Keegan -- I hear you guys loud and clear, and I am very
> aware
> > that the trauma of the last few months has taken this kind of toll.
> > Although there is of course much I don't know, I have been talking with a
> > number of staff, board, etc. for many months now about this. So to
> whatever
> > degree it's possible to empathize without "being there," I do.
> >
> > However, I'm not trying to push things forward at a pace that's
> comfortable
> > *for me*, I'm trying to focus on things that will impact *what it's
> > possible to do*.
> >
> > The prospect of a drawn-out, even multi-year search for the next
> long-term
> > Executive Director is not a good one. The way the organization rebuilds
> > itself and sets expectations will have a huge impact on that. The impact
> on
> > fund-raising will be felt, as well; high-profile contention around a
> grant
> > is being discussed throughout the philanthropy world, and will impact the
> > way individual donors respond to banners, as well.
> >
> > I am confident that the Board is already turning its attention to issues
> > like these. Many things need to be done whenever an executive director
> > leaves an organization, and there are many reasons to attend to them in a
> > timely fashion -- without rushing through and making bad decisions.
> >
> > Individual Trustees have expressed interest and gratitude for the ideas
> > under discussion, and I appreciate knowing that they are considering
> input.
> > This list may not be the best way to reach the board, but it's a good
> place
> > to see whether there is consensus around certain ideas.
> >
> > That's what I'm trying to do. I know that forging ahead while exhausted
> > sucks, and I am not trying to push anybody faster than they want to go.
> But
> > I also think that this moment for careful deliberation shouldn't be
> missed;
> > some of the opportunities will pass by very quickly if nothing is done.
> >
> > -Pete
> > [[User:Peteforsyth]]
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

2016-02-26 Thread Brion Vibber
Just a quick note:

* some of the big staff conversations are indeed being very carefully
note-taken or recorded internally. We are being very careful to plan and
communicate how open they will be ahead of time and keep them both honest
and not scary. I would not expect them to be made public (the ones made so
far will definitely not because we already told people they were private to
staff, and people have to be able to trust us on this stuff.)

* There is also a big need for private conversations, which means many/most
of these talks won't be recorded and definitely would not be made public in
detail. Many won't feel comfortable in a recorded conversation. Many still
won't feel comfortable in a large group that's not recorded. Many still
won't feel comfortable in a small group conversation. And others still
won't feel comfortable opening up in a 1:1 private conversation with
someone in a power position at their employer.

* it's also important to remember that people are individuals and have
different experiences. Not everyone interprets or experiences the same
events or in the same way. Some staff members are not comfortable
expressing their experiences and feelings because they feel different from
those speaking more loudly, or found the recent internal and public
discussions more directly traumatic to themselves than what they
experienced during the previous administration -- in which case a more
private environment helps avoid the concern about feeling out of lock step
or being treated as an ignorant outsider for not having shared the same
issue.

I think it's very important to have all of those levels of conversations,
and distill and spread around the core issues, fears, hopes in a way that's
safe, fair, and useful. And honestly I'd prioritize safe and fair over
useful in some respects.

Totally agree that facilitated conversations can be useful. There's at
least some informal stuff going on but I hope we have some more
purpose-designed facilitated discussions too.

And I think some of us *would* love to have public talks about making
things better -- such as those of us posting here. But that's going to be
very distinct from what I think we're looking at this week.

-- brion
On Feb 26, 2016 4:13 PM, "Pete Forsyth"  wrote:

> I agree with what Pine said -- it's worthwhile to consider keeping a record
> of these conversations, at minimum for staff reference, even if making them
> all public is not desirable.
>
> Further to that point, I have found in many instances, involving a skilled
> professional facilitator or mediator, who has no stake in the outcome, can
> be an incredibly helpful in getting the maximum benefit from difficult
> discussions. I hope that the WMF has considered hiring such a person for
> Jimmy's visit, and to address any number of other aspects of the present
> challenges.
>
> -Pete
> [[User:Peteforsyth]]
>
> On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 3:58 PM, Pine W  wrote:
>
> > If I may make an even bolder proposal: these chats with Brion and Jimmy
> can
> > be, with the consent of everyone involved in each particular meeting,
> > video-recorded. Asking for the videos to be posted in public might be a
> > step that's too uncomfortable for some people (although I think that the
> > transparency would be refreshing and in the long run I would like WMF to
> > exercise this degree of transparency), but I at least hope that the
> videos
> > could be widely accessible inside of WMF.  I think that the videos would
> be
> > instructive for the interim executive director, Human Resources, and
> other
> > Board members to see, and might be helpful in discussing lessons learned
> > and opportunities for organizational development.
> >
> > Pine
> >
> > On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 3:29 PM, Oliver Keyes 
> wrote:
> >
> > > On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 3:00 PM, Jimmy Wales 
> > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > I can't speak for Lila, nor should I try.  But I know that for people
> > > > new to our world, it's really quite confusing.  You hear a lot of
> > voices
> > > > and if you've been around for long enough, you get to know which ones
> > > > are important and which ones are going to complain no matter what,
> with
> > > > little substance.  If you listen to those who are going to complain
> no
> > > > matter what, you can end up fearful and burned by communication.  If
> > you
> > > > don't listen to those who are only going to complain when it matters,
> > > > you'll miss important things.  Knowing the difference is... well...
> > > > ambiguous even in the best of times.
> > > >
> > > > So to go back to your question - what can be gained from my visit to
> > San
> > > > Francisco... it's only for a few days, but it will be followed by
> more
> > > > visits in the coming months.  And part of what I want to do is get a
> > > > better understanding of the specific concerns that serious people
> have,
> > > > so that I can be more helpful 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

2016-02-26 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 26, 2016 3:30 PM, "Oliver Keyes"  wrote:
>
> When I hear language about "ignoring those who are going to complain
> no matter what" and, in an email premised on visiting and spending
> time with staff, a distinction between the pool of people you'll be
> talking to and the "serious people", with an implication that only the
> concerns of the "serious people" will be taken, well, seriously, that
> worries me. It feels a lot like what we're coming out of. It feels
> like it will be a hindrance to progressing beyond this awful
> situation.
>
> I appreciate this is almost certainly not what you were trying to
> communicate - indeed , I fully expect you'll come back confirming that
> it wasn't. But it's best to be aware of the language you chose to use,
> within the context of what staff have been going through since 2015. I
> of all people know that how you choose to contextualise a situation
> with your words has profound implications for how people approach you
> and the treatment you receive. It's best to avoid unintentional
> ambiguities or implications. When you use language that implies some
> people or their concerns are worth ignoring, it's going to resonate
> very strongly with the dividing tactics recently found at the
> Foundation: where some people found their worries and issues - which
> were totally legitimate - dismissed.

Seconded all this from Oliver.

To Jimmy: we've been doing Wikipedia and Wikimedia a long time, you and I.
:) And in that time we've both learned good and bad habits.

One of those bad habits is known as "setting the bozo bit" in old school
geek culture: http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?SetTheBozoBit

Tuning out the concerns of people because they often disagree makes our own
lives easier on the short term, but at best it's a risk that you'll lose
useful feedback, and at worst you can alienate people who could have become
allies on some other topic... Or helped you avoid a sticky situation they
saw coming that you didn't.

It's something I've tried very hard to get away from when I interact with
other developers and users. And sometimes it's really hard. But a lot of
the people I unset the bit from are now doing amazing things... Some of
them now work for you as WMF developers and managers, and I'm glad I didn't
mistreat them early on.

When it comes to your employees, setting the bozo bit is a *really* bad
antipattern. Doubly so when they're coming out of a bad situation and have
a lot to tell you.

This is the time to listen honestly even (especially?) to those whose
narratives mismatch your own.

I'm pretty sure that's not something you'll disagree with, but it's one of
those things that we easily find ourselves doing wrong, and have to watch
out for.

Your staff is still raw and suspicious all around; the word "trauma" gets
used with total sincerity. We'd really appreciate care in how you describe
what's happening; it'll go a long way to making the next few days and the
further discussions you're planning to make really useful.

-- brion

>
> (As an aside from all of that, I entirely support Asaf's point about
> group meetings, with note-taking. I think it's good to have a record
> we can check what Everyone Knows against. Avoids FUD,[2] and at this
> critical time, increases transparency.)
>
> [0]
https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:LilaTretikov_%28WMF%29=prev=15301332
> [1] No, I was not one of them)
> [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

2016-02-26 Thread Brion Vibber
On Friday, February 26, 2016, Andreas Kolbe <jayen...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Brion,
>
> I understand you and Jimmy Wales go way, way back. But what is the point of
> "coming together" with someone who, just hours before the Knowledge Engine
> grant agreement was released, insisted,


Diplomacy requires talking to your enemies as well as your friends. (And in
the real world, we are rarely all one or the other.)

-- brion






>
> ---o0o---
>
> 'To make this very clear: no one in top positions has proposed or is
> proposing that WMF should get into the general "searching" or to try to "be
> google". It's an interesting hypothetical which has not been part of any
> serious strategy proposal, nor even discussed at the board level, nor
> proposed to the board by staff, nor a part of any grant, etc. It's a total
> lie.'
>
> ---o0o---
>
> When the grant agreement was released -- flatly contradicting his very
> words, in the view of everyone who read it, including every single
> journalist who wrote about it -- Jimmy Wales disappeared for four days from
> the wiki. He eventually resurface and later made an appearance at the
> Knowledge Engine FAQ on Meta explaining that he had only just learnt that
> there really was a search engine project.[1]
>
> How plausible is that? By all accounts, James and Dariusz fought to be
> shown the documents that were later leaked, against the resistance of other
> board members, which presumably included Jimmy Wales (I don't think it
> takes too much intelligence to figure out that Guy Kawasaki and Jimmy Wales
> were among Lila's main supporters and defenders on the board).
>
> So are we to believe that Jimmy Wales had never seen the grant agreements,
> had never seen those documents that all these arguments in the board were
> about, had never even bothered to look at them?
>
> In November 2015, board discussions referred to the Knowledge Engine
> project as a "moon shot", according to James. So all this time Jimmy Wales
> was ignorant of what this "moon shot" was, until some staff member informed
> him on February 19 that there really were plans for a search engine?
>
> "Nor even discussed at board level" my foot!
>
> Even if you bend over backwards to assume Jimmy Wales is telling the truth,
> and he really didn't know anything about this (he might have been struck by
> temporary deafness during these "moon shot" discussions, after all, or
> suffered a bout of amnesia), what does it say about him that he blithely
> went round denouncing people who were telling the truth as liars spreading
> "bullshit", rather than asking questions and informing himself before
> shooting his mouth off?
>
> What's the point of talking when you can't believe a word a person is
> saying?
>
> Andreas
>
> P.S. Now, what is this about Wikia? This is news to me. How would Wikia
> have profited from the Knowledge Engine? Did anyone plan to include Wikia
> among the wikis the search engine would prominently surface?
>
> [1]
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Knowledge_Engine/FAQ=15365968=15365951
>
> Andreas
>
> On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 12:09 PM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org
> <javascript:;>>
> wrote:
>
> > Poo has indeed hit fans, as the metaphor goes. But that's hardly the time
> > to STOP talking.
> >
> > I'll be coming down to the SF office as well next week to talk
> > directly with Jimmy and with any staff (and board members!) who want to
> > plan or brainstorm or vent or just share a moment of "aggghhh!" and I'm
> > very much hoping for the best.
> >
> > I think there's no expectation of magic resolutions, and Jimmy knows well
> > that there's been mistrust and there remain serious open issues. But this
> > is a rare inflection point, an opportunity to come together and seriously
> > explore how we got to this point and what we can all do to avoid a "next
> > time".
> >
> > Whatever the outcomes I'm glad to see Jimmy reach out and look forward to
> > some "real talk" and a better understanding of how we all can make
> positive
> > changes together.
> >
> > -- brion
> >
> > On Friday, February 26, 2016, Ruslan Takayev <ruslan.taka...@gmail.com
> <javascript:;>>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Jimmy, et al
> > >
> > > As yet, we have yet to have coherent believable reasoning for the
> removal
> > > of James Heilman from the BoT, but one of the reasons that has been put
> > out
> > > there (rightly or wrongly) is that James was talking to staff about the
&g

Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

2016-02-26 Thread Brion Vibber
Poo has indeed hit fans, as the metaphor goes. But that's hardly the time
to STOP talking.

I'll be coming down to the SF office as well next week to talk
directly with Jimmy and with any staff (and board members!) who want to
plan or brainstorm or vent or just share a moment of "aggghhh!" and I'm
very much hoping for the best.

I think there's no expectation of magic resolutions, and Jimmy knows well
that there's been mistrust and there remain serious open issues. But this
is a rare inflection point, an opportunity to come together and seriously
explore how we got to this point and what we can all do to avoid a "next
time".

Whatever the outcomes I'm glad to see Jimmy reach out and look forward to
some "real talk" and a better understanding of how we all can make positive
changes together.

-- brion

On Friday, February 26, 2016, Ruslan Takayev <ruslan.taka...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> Jimmy, et al
>
> As yet, we have yet to have coherent believable reasoning for the removal
> of James Heilman from the BoT, but one of the reasons that has been put out
> there (rightly or wrongly) is that James was talking to staff about the
> state of affairs at the WMF.
>
> Is this trip not the exact same thing that James was alleged to have done
> all those months ago? i.e. talking to staff.
>
> Why are trustees, including yourself, only now willing to listen to staff
> concerns? The time for that was BEFORE the proverbial poo hit the fan.
>
> I am seeing the announcement of your trip as nothing more than a "knight in
> shining armor" routine, that frankly is too little too late.
>
> Warm regards,
>
> Ruslan Takayev
>
>
> On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 4:06 AM, Jimmy Wales <jimmywa...@ymail.com
> <javascript:;>> wrote:
>
> > Here is a note that I just sent to the staff mailing list (stuck in a
> > queue at the moment, so some staff will see it here first.).
> >
> > Hi everyone!
> >
> > I am coming to San Francisco on Saturday for a few days to meet with a
> > lot of you.  I know many of you are not actually in San Francisco, so
> > I'll be sure to set aside time for remote meetings as well.
> >
> > By now you of course have heard that Lila is leaving us, and my hope is
> > that we're going to enter a new era of stability and productivity.  And
> > for that to happen, the board - including me - needs to hear from you,
> > to listen and learn.
> >
> > Brion Vibber, who I hired as the first ever employee of the Foundation,
> > said this to me on Facebook recently: "Jimmy Wales welcome back to the
> > conversation. I look forward to how you address the current crisis, and
> > hope it will involve the kind of careful listening and thoughtful
> > consideration that I remember from 2001."
> >
> > That's what I want, too.  I want to listen and I want to help the board
> > make good decisions.
> >
> > For me, the mission - a free encyclopedia for every single person on the
> > planet, in their own language - is what brought us all together.  It's
> > what keeps us going even in difficult times.  But my view is that it
> > doesn't have to be difficult times.  Working at the WMF should be - and
> > will be, I really think - a joy: the joy of working with the best
> > colleagues, the joy of doing work that matters to the world, and the joy
> > of working for the fantastic global community of Wikipedians.
> >
> > I'll be reaching out to some of you - probably starting with people I
> > already know - but please reach out to me as well if you'd like to meet.
> >
> > I'm in SF from Saturday afternoon through Wednesday evening, so
> > depending on demand, I may not be able to see everyone, but I'd like to
> > get a good overview.
> >
> > --Jimbo
> >
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Executive transition planning

2016-02-25 Thread Brion Vibber
Patricio, thanks for the update and thanks for all of your thoughtful
consideration and work on this issue. I know it's been a stressful time for
everyone.

I've left a note on the talk page, just want to make sure we capture the
notion that existing staff leadership such as team leads and middle
managers who work with both upper management, staff & the larger user
community be involved in capturing what sort of expectations and values we
need to hire for.

Recruiting and interviewing and hiring leaders is hard at the best of
times; it's doubly hard in weird hybrid
open-source-non-profit-company-community situations like ours. Take
advantage of the resources available to you in your staff.

-- brion

On Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 10:50 AM, Patricio Lorente <
patricio.lore...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear friends,
>
> This week, the Board of Trustees accepted Lila’s resignation. Her last day
> will be  March 31, 2016.
>
> I would like to thank Lila for her efforts over these past two years, and
> her passion for our shared mission. Together, we wish her the best in her
> future endeavors and accomplishments.
>
> The Board of Trustees is meeting regularly to determine next steps. Our
> top priority is to develop a clear transition plan that seeks to build
> confidence with community and staff, appoint interim leadership, and begin
> the search for a new Executive Director. We will continue working closely
> together over the coming days, and will share an update next week.
>
> This work will require extensive collaboration by the Board over the next
> few weeks. Although we know you’ll have questions, it is likely we’ll be
> very focused on planning the next steps. We appreciate your patience and
> understanding during this time.
>
> Patricio
>
> TRANSLATION NOTE: This message is also posted on Meta at the Board
> Noticeboard for for translation. You can find it here:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard/25_February_2016_-_Executive_transition_planning
> --
>
>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Transition plans for WMF leadership - Board Reform

2016-02-25 Thread Brion Vibber
Sorry that somehow went to wrong list.

On Feb 25, 2016 9:29 AM, "Brion Vibber" <bvib...@wikimedia.org> wrote:
>
> Thanks again for your responses, Denny. I think it really helps to get a
clearer perspective on things "on the inside", and that informs the kind of
things we need to think and talk about as a company and as a movement.
>
> I know it's a super awkward position to be putting all of you in,
especially at this juncture. I hope we'll all get through this sanely and
we can talk about ways to better align our various structures to our needs
with less immediate stress.
>
> -- brion
>
> On Feb 25, 2016 9:16 AM, "Denny Vrandecic" <dvrande...@wikimedia.org>
wrote:
>>
>> Thanks to all the answers to my response. I am still reading them, and I
>> probably will not be able to answer to all in a timely manner (I have to
>> work, after all), but I wanted to make a few things clearer, quickly:
>>
>> Milos, I indeed do not care about reelection. And if I have to choose
>> between truth and political wisdom, I hope to continue to choose the
first.
>>
>> More importantly, Milos, I did a massive error in my formulation, as I
know
>> realize, which lead to a misunderstanding. I have to apologize for that.
>> When I said that the Board has to make a decision in the interest of the
>> Foundation when there is a conflict between the Communities and the
>> Foundation, I was phrasing myself very badly, I now realize. I actually
did
>> not mean a direct conflict between a single Community and the Foundation,
>> i.e. with these two as being directly opposed to each other and fighting
>> over something, but rather the more complicated case of a decision where
>> there is a conflict of interests between the Foundation and the
>> Movement-at-large, the Board is obliged to decide in the best interest of
>> the Foundation.
>>
>> I do not buy in the mythology of an "evil community" at all. I do not
even
>> buy into the mythology of a great divide between the communities and the
>> foundation. There are plenty of people who are active and constructive in
>> both, and who bridge both. The cases where the Foundation and the
Movement
>> are directly opposed to each other should be extremely rare, and,
>> thankfully are. I don't think there was anything even close to that
brought
>> to the Board in my tenure so far.
>>
>> More often though is the case that there is a third-party situation, e.g.
>> an imminent and considerable legal threat to the Foundation. In that
case,
>> the interests of the Movement at large has to be secondary for the Board.
>>
>> I regard the Movement-at-large as much more resilient than any and each
of
>> its parts. And I am thankful for that, because I think our mission is
much
>> too important to leave it with a small NGO in the Bay Area. It has to be
a
>> mission carried by every single one of us, it has to be a mission that is
>> inclusive of every one who wants to join in realizing it.
>>
>> I have overstated my point in my last mail, obviously, and also
>> intentionally to make a point (and thanks for everyone to calling me out
on
>> that). But as many have confirmed, there is truth in this overstatement.
I
>> don't think that such situations will occur often. But when they occur,
and
>> that is what I said, they will be painful and frustrating and potentially
>> shrouded in confidentiality / secrecy. Therefore it remains my strong
>> belief, that reaffirming the current Board as the movement leadership
body
>> is a bad idea, because the overstated incompatibility that I have
described
>> remains.
>>
>> I could imagine with a much smaller Board of Trustees, which itself is a
>> constituent of a body representing the whole Movement.
>> I could imagine a wholly new body to represent the whole movement.
>> I could imagine many, many small new bodies who somehow make local
>> decisions on the one side and bubble up to an ineffective, but extremely
>> resilient and representative voice.
>> I could imagine many other models.
>> But I have a hard time to imagine the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia
>> Foundation sincerely filling out the role of the movement leadership, due
>> to the inherent constraints and incompatibilities between these roles. As
>> rare as they appear, they do appear.
>>
>> Dariusz, you say that a disengagement from the Foundation by the
community
>> would increase a specific Foundation versus the rest of the movement
>> situation. I don't think that the formal composition of the Board matters
>> as much as its role, duties, and 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Transition plans for WMF leadership - Board Reform

2016-02-25 Thread Brion Vibber
(I should clarify I don't think the pledge is necessarily wrong; it reads
to me like a straightforward affirmation of the conflict of interest policy
and I think it can't really be blamed for a notion of siding against the
community. But if it's confusing, maybe let's consider clarifying.)

-- brion
On Feb 25, 2016 7:54 AM, "Brion Vibber" <bvib...@wikimedia.org> wrote:

> On Feb 25, 2016 6:55 AM, "Andrea Zanni" <zanni.andre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > On Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 2:48 PM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org>
> wrote:
> >
> > > What I will disagree on is with the notion that the board has to take
> the
> > > org's side against the movement by definition. It is my understanding
> that
> > > the board has the role of oversight of the org -- that is, it's the
> board's
> > > job to ensure that the Foundation is effectively accomplishing the
> goals it
> > > was created to perform.
> > >
> >
> > As much as I agree with Brion,
> > probably Denny's message is telling us a lot.
> > I haven't read carefully the WMF Board Pledge of personal commitment, but
> > this is not the first time this issue is discussed: see for example
> > Cristian mail, two months ago, tackling the very specific thing. [1]
>
> One thing we should do is ensure that the legal obligations of a trustee
> of a Florida not for profit corporation are not conflated with an
> arbitrarily-written 'pledge of personal commitment' (or, to be sure, our
> own preferences).
>
> If the pledge is poorly worded or just wrong, it should be corrected.
>
> (IANAL, so I'll leave further talk of legal obligations to those more
> familiar with the topic.)
>
> -- brion
>
> >
> > Maybe the Board "feels" a lot of pressure about this, and this is a
> problem
> > on itself.
> > We all know that "toxicity" of an environment doesn't need laws or
> written
> > rules, but people being people, social pressure, etc.
> > If Board members feels without power, bound to the WMF and not the
> > Movement, that's a real problem we need to look into.
> >
> > Aubrey
> >
> > [1]
> >
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2015-December/080600.html
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Are we too rigid?

2016-02-24 Thread Brion Vibber
I just want to call out Oliver's post here as extremely valuable, and this
bears repeating:

A "flat" org structure is not a panacea when you don't have a level playing
field, and the playing field's never as level as we like to think it is.

Google up some discussions on the subject of 'meritocracy' and you'll find
talk about all kinds of inequalities in the power dynamics in
free/open-source software and similar online cultures, as well as many
engineering/"high-tech" organizations in general. I won't go into more here
now, but I think it's something we need to seriously think more about,
especially since we're at the intersection of many different cultures.

-- brion



On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 10:34 AM, Oliver Keyes  wrote:

> I would like to clarify a fairly major premise of this conversation:
> namely, the comment I made that Yuri quoted in the very first message.
>
> When I say that the hierarchical organisation of the Foundation is
> something that is preventing us from doing better, I was not thinking
> of how we develop software. Indeed, I suspect that peoples' tendency
> to bring things constantly back to "does it improve the measurable
> speed at which we right code" is symptomatic of the problematic
> dynamics here. What I was thinking about was how we pay attention to
> organisational hiring, to how we promote, to how we treat people, what
> empathy we have and how we value empathy.
>
> I have consistently found the Foundation to lag in all of these
> regards. It is not good at making sure that the recognition of
> employees is fair and treated equitably (be that who gets called out
> in presentations, who gets given opportunities, or who gets raises).
> It is not good at making sure that how we hire is fair. It is not good
> at making sure that concerns of employees are given weight. All too
> often the people marginalised by our approaches are the people
> marginalised outside the Foundation, as well; women, people in
> "non-technical" roles, people in roles that we code as "support work"
> (and guess what tends to correlate with a role being coded as support
> work?) All too often the work marginalised by our approaches is the
> work that Doesn't Product Code (again: guess who tends to do the heavy
> lifting on things like organisational health and process and
> structure?)
>
> As an organisation I have found the Foundation overly rigid and
> resistant to the most conservative change around these problems;
> particularly I think of efforts to improve unintentional bias in our
> job descriptions. Basically, unless you as an employee go out and do
> the damn work yourself, for free, with 0 recognition of the emotional
> and temporal cost of that work, it doesn't get done. The organisation
> as a whole is not interested.
>
> Switching to a flat organisational structure does not, in any way,
> solve for this problem. In fact, in some way it makes it worse,
> because it makes us *think* that we have solved for the systemic and
> hierarchical power dynamics that make it difficult for low-level or
> marginalised people to get things done, or people doing marginalised
> work to get things done, when we have only shifted them.
>
> To pick on someone, I pick Trevor (sorry Trevor. For reference this is
> an entirely hypothetical example and Trevor is lovely): Trevor's voice
> is given a lot more weight in the organisation than mine. Trevor has a
> lot more influence than I do. Trevor has a lot more influence than
> most WMFers do!
>
> Crucially: this *isn't because he's management*. This was the case
> even *before* he was management. Because:
>
> 1. He's been here a really really long time and so knows everyone.
> 2. He's an Engineer, and we give engineers more weight and cachet than
> we do, say, administrative staff or people in "support" roles, even
> though those people are both as-smart and have an equal interest in
> the organisation's success;
> 3. His background matches what we strongly correlate with Authority Voices.
>
> If we switch to a flat organisational structure where nobody has a
> title, or..whatever, all of these things will still be true. We will
> switch pronounce systemic biases or uneven power dynamics Done, and we
> will have achieved something that's actually worse than not doing
> anything at all. Because now, we still *have* all those problems, we
> just think we're done and don't have to put any work in and can't talk
> about it, and nobody has the responsibility for continuing to fix
> things.
>
> The Foundation I would return to is not an organisation with a flat
> structure. In fact, it could be an organisation that looks a lot like
> this one, because I don't believe reporting lines or titles have as
> much of an impact on dynamics as we think they do. What *does* have an
> impact is how we recognise the value of emotional labour, how we
> recognise our implicit biases and advantages, and how honest we are
> with each other: not just in terms of 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Are we too rigid?

2016-02-23 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 23, 2016 7:01 PM, "Dario Taraborelli" <dtarabore...@wikimedia.org>
wrote:
>
> Brion,
>
> there was a very constructive, heartfelt session on models of bottom-up
> open innovation at this year's WMF All Hands. You can find extensive notes
> from this session on the Office Wiki ("Embracing skunkworks") which I
> encourage you to read and that I'd love to share publicly in a more
> readable format at some point.

Awesome, I'll check it out and read up on the prior art. :) Looking forward
to further discussion on these ideas once we have a chance to clean it up.

> There are obvious tradeoffs between allowing more flexibility on the one
> hand and making sure we have a reasonable budget plan, accountability to
> donors and stakeholders and appropriate resource allocation on the other
> hand, but I believe this model would work much better than the current
one,
> at least for projects that are not core initiatives.

*nod* I like the idea of an internal small grants-like system to provide
some documentation, a little oversight, and help coordinate needed
additional people/equipment/contracting budget on small projects with a
shorter turnaround time than waiting for next year's annual budget.

-- brion

>
> Skunkworks is what got us revision scoring, EventLogging, countless
> initiatives by TechOps and innovative MediaWiki extensions.
>
> Dario
>
> On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 6:14 PM, Yuri Astrakhan <yastrak...@wikimedia.org>
> wrote:
>
> > Does it make sense to have an "Incubator team" ("Bell Labs" if you
will),
> > whose core competency is to nurture small projects? When projects are
> > mature and need to switch into maintenance mode, they move under the
> > umbrella of a different team.
> >
> >
> >
> > On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 5:06 AM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > On Feb 23, 2016 5:52 PM, "Dan Andreescu" <dandree...@wikimedia.org>
> > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > but also, some projects that were not so useful, sure.  But we
learn,
> > > move
> > > > on, we're not the first group of people to make mistakes : )
> > >
> > > Yep... High-tech organizations call it "failing fast".
> > >
> > > -- Brion
> > >
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>
>
>
> --
>
>
> *Dario Taraborelli  *Head of Research, Wikimedia Foundation
> wikimediafoundation.org • nitens.org • @readermeter
> <http://twitter.com/readermeter>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Are we too rigid?

2016-02-23 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 23, 2016 5:52 PM, "Dan Andreescu"  wrote:
>
> but also, some projects that were not so useful, sure.  But we learn, move
> on, we're not the first group of people to make mistakes : )

Yep... High-tech organizations call it "failing fast".

-- Brion

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Are we too rigid?

2016-02-23 Thread Brion Vibber
I've advocated for flexible/ad-hoc/cross-functional teams before, and I
would advocate for that again.

Many of our successful projects -- both software and social -- start as
initiatives from individual staff members, often in concert with volunteers
providing research, testing, feedback, usage, and even patches. This is
something I think we should embrace in how we structure new projects.

Central budgeting and a standing team are great for maintenance and for
ongoing work on large projects, but I think we need to be more flexible in
spinning up new projects.

Communication should be handled by people close to the planning and
implementation; we've seen startling failures of centralized communication
in the Knowledge Engine project, and the difficulty for the *actual*
Discovery team to control and communicate their own narrative and be judged
on their own merits has been very painful for that team.

Anyway, I think there's plenty of place for planning and big teams and
predefined KPIs, but I think we can be more... dare I say "agile"... than
we have been. (Little "a".)

I hope once the current troubles pass, that we will all be able to talk
more openly and safely about how we can all help ourselves, our org and our
movement succeed.

-- brion
On Feb 23, 2016 4:53 PM, "Yuri Astrakhan"  wrote:

> Something in Oliver's departure email caught my eye:
>
>
> *  "Because we are scared and in pain and hindered by structural biases and
> hierarchy, we are worse at our jobs." (quoted with Oliver's permission)*
>
> And that got me thinking. WMF, an organization that was built with the open
> and community-driven principles - why have we became the classic example of
> a corporate multi-level hierarchy? Should we mimic a living organism rather
> than a human-built pyramid?
>
> This may sound naive and wishful, but could we have a more flat and
> flexible team structure, where instead of having large teams with
> sub-teams, we would have small self-forming teams "by interest".  For
> example, someone decides to dedicate their 20% to building support for
> storing 3D models in wiki. Their efforts are noticed, the community shows
> its support, and WMF reacts by increasing project resourcing. Or the
> opposite - the community questions the need of a project, and neither the
> team nor WMF can convincingly justify it - the project resources are
> gradually reduced.
>
> An organism reacts to the change of its environment by redistributing
> resources to the more problematic areas. Would small, flexible, and more
> focused teams achieve that better?
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] One Last Ride

2016-02-23 Thread Brion Vibber
Oliver, thanks for all your work -- and for helping to keep many of us sane
with your wit through times strange and wonderful and awful alike.

Take care of yourself and do good things!

-- brion
On Feb 23, 2016 3:36 PM, "Oliver Keyes"  wrote:

> Dear all,
>
> I am leaving the Wikimedia Foundation to take up a job as a Senior
> Data Scientist at an information security company. My last day will be
> on 18 March.
>
> After 12 months of continual stress, losses and workplace fear, I no
> longer wish to work for the Wikimedia Foundation.
>
> While I appreciate that the Board of Trustees may take steps to
> rectify the situation, I have no confidence in their ability to
> effectively do so given their failure to solve for the problem until
> it became a publicity issue as well as a staff complaint.
>
> I wish the movement and community the best of luck in building a
> fairer, more transparent and more representative governing structure.
>
> All the best,
> Oliver Keyes
> Of these last 5 years, Wikimedia Foundation
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

2016-02-23 Thread Brion Vibber
Thanks for the thoughtful response; you've raised some excellent points
that strongly warrant further discussion.

Some more recent initiatives like the Community Tech team have been
specifically meant to help "power users" get stuff done; I hope that's
working out and helping, and that the focus on providing tools that our
contributors want and need continues.

The topic of unpaid labor -- and exploiting addictive behaviors -- is a
general one with free and open source software specifically, as well as
user generated content generally, and I agree it deserves a lot more
thought.

-- brion
On Feb 23, 2016 3:41 PM, "SarahSV" <sarahsv.w...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 4:02 PM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org>
> wrote:
>
> >
> >
> > I think first we have to ask: why did many people feel attacked or in
> > unwanted adversarial positions before (both among volunteers, and among
> > staff)? What sort of interactions and behavior were seen as problematic,
> > and what led up to them?
> >
>
> ​The crux of the problem is that we all see ourselves as bosses.
> ​The paid workers don't want to be told what to do by the unpaid, and vice
> versa.
>
> There were clashes around the introduction of software, but these were only
> flashpoints. There was (and remains) a simmering resentment of the paid
> among the unpaid, for obvious reasons. And the paid staff seemed to regard
> experienced editors as "power users" who need to be chased off, missing the
> point that (a) "power users" have invaluable experience and a very unusual
> skill set that should be used not discarded, and (b) that the new users the
> Foundation wants to cultivate will become "power users" too one day if
> they're cultivated well – unless the idea is to appeal only to occasional
> users who want to fix typos, but you won't get an encyclopaedia that way.
>
> You mentioned the "exploitation of employees and users for their labor
> " in your email, and I'm glad you did, because that's almost never
> discussed. It was in part why there was such a strong reaction to the
> misunderstanding about the Knowledge Engine. We had visions of the
> Foundation trying to create yet another unpaid workforce to "curate" search
> results.
>
> I don't want this email to be essay-length, but let me raise an issue
> that's closely related to exploitation, namely addiction. A lot of the
> unpaid workers are addicted to what they do, and I've seen staffers discuss
> how to keep them that way (e.g. by creating feedback loops of responses to
> keep people going). Should the Foundation be paying for that kind of work
> and thinking in those ways? I would say not.
> ​
> So the question of how to support volunteers involves:
>
> 1. Recognizing that we are an unpaid workforce.
>
> 2. Recognizing that there are questions about exploitation and addiction
> that should be discussed, and that these are serious ethical and perhaps
> even public-health issues.
>
> 3. Developing an attitude of social responsibility toward us within the
> Foundation, rather than seeing us as a nuisance and an obstacle.
>
> 4. Rethinking Sue's decision that the Foundation would never pay for
> content. I can think of several ways in which the Foundation could either
> pay or facilitate payment.
>
> I'll leave it there, because this is long, and perhaps reply to your other
> points in another email. Just one final thought. When I lived in London
> years ago, a new newspaper started for homeless people, The Big Issue. It
> is sold by the homeless on the streets, with the idea of giving them a way
> to earn an income. The homeless and other volunteers also used to help
> write it. The idea was that, as it became more successful, everyone would
> be paid, because the concept of it was to lift everyone up.
>
> I would love to see the Wikimedia Foundation embrace that philosophy,
> namely that part of its job is to nurture its workforce (paid and unpaid),
> offer them opportunity where it can, lift them up, educate them, show them
> how to educate others, and respect them, so that everyone who gets involved
> seriously with Wikipedia finds their lives improved because of that
> involvement.
>
> Sarah
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

2016-02-23 Thread Brion Vibber
On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 2:34 PM, SarahSV <sarahsv.w...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 2:29 PM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > I believe a high-tech organization should invest in smart people creating
> > unique technology. But I also think it should invest in people, period.
> > Staff and volunteers must be cultivated and supported -- that's how
> loyalty
> > and passion are developed, and I believe they pay dividends in
> productivity
> > and recruitment.
> >
>
> ​Brian, I'd be interested to hear how volunteers could be cultivated and
> supported. We felt under attack by the Foundation until Lila arrived, and I
> think a lot of editors are grateful to her for having improved that
> relationship. But not feeling attacked isn't the same as feeling supported.


> The Foundation often boasts that it only has around 200 employees, but the
> truth is that it has an enormous unpaid workforce. Most of us don't go to
> meet-ups, so we don't even see travel expenses. We're grateful if we can
> get a free JSTOR subscription.
>
> Sue Gardner once declared that the Foundation would never pay for content,
> which was a blow to those of us who produce it. Unpaid workers with
> technical skills might one day be paid, but if your skills are editorial,
> forget it. That very much supports the idea that the Foundation is a tech
> organization and not an educational one.
>
> So – how does a tech organization nurture and support its unpaid workforce
> of mostly writers and researchers?
>

Excellent questions, and important ones for WMF and the wider Wikimedia
movement to explore and answer.


I think first we have to ask: why did many people feel attacked or in
unwanted adversarial positions before (both among volunteers, and among
staff)? What sort of interactions and behavior were seen as problematic,
and what led up to them?

Second we have to ask: given that several people on this list have
described improved relationships with staff in the last year or so, what
has actually changed in those interactions, and what can we do to make sure
we keep doing well?

Third we have to ask: what do our volunteer editors, module writers,
template tweakers, copyright divers, and library researchers need to
further the mission that they don't already have, and what can WMF do to
help them?

I know I'm answering questions with questions, but I think that's where we
stand; I do not have a "do this" answer to give beyond listening and
adjusting our behavior based on what we hear. I suspect that folks who have
worked on the 'product' side of WMF in talking to users about our software
projects have already been learning some of these lessons, but it's
important that we document and retain that knowledge and make it a
deliberate part of how WMF operates.


In that third subquestion is an implicit decision point, which is the crux:
"what can WMF do to help them?" can only be answered within the context of
what monetary and human "resources" the company has available or believes
it can develop.

It may well be that the answer is "WMF concentrates on building and
operating the tech that content-contributing Wikimedians use to accomplish
amazing things" while things like coordinating activity in specific content
areas is managed by other organizations -- I've seen people cite the Wiki
Education Foundation which helps organize professor & student activity as
being a good example of this sort of work going on, though I have to admit
I'm not intimately familiar with them.

I would personally love to see people employed to do serious content work,
and I'd rather see them supported through educationally-minded institutions
than be hired by random PR firms to work on their clients' articles. I
don't know whether that's politically feasible through WMF now or in the
future, but I also think it's important that the WMF not be seen as the
only funding game in town either.

That, too, might need further thinking about how we fundraise as a movement.

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

2016-02-22 Thread Brion Vibber
On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 9:38 AM, Theo10011  wrote:

> Is it time for a #IamwithVibber tag now? :)
>

a


> It might be time to consider just promoting Brion or something? (as deputy
> or head of engineering). There is no one the community would trust more on
> the engineering needs of WMF. And from the looks of it, he does have the
> support of staff and isn't holding back any relevant information or
> opinion. He can bring stability to a very shake ship right now.
>

Thanks, but I'll openly say that managing a department full of people is a
lot of very hard work and requires skillsets I do not have; that's why I
happily transitioned out of the CTO role in 2009 (and burnout related to
that was one of the reasons I left WMF for a while around that time,
returning in 2011).

-- brion


>
> On Mon, Feb 22, 2016, Austin Hair  wrote:
> >
> > I really don't think I can let this one go, though. Would you please
> > name one "pet project"—actually, I don't think it's so much to ask to
> > name them all—that's had to be shut down?
> >
>
> I think that might be a reference to Flow or AFT, even the MoodBar (3 off
> the top of my head). Apart from that staff roles and entire departments
> like Globaldev, and I even remember a strategy department briefly, that was
> reshuffled. The timeline isn't as clear when these things were refactored
> but a lot of things were abandoned over the years.
>
> Lila, I don't know what impression you had before you joined WMF. This
> wasn't a struggling project, or not at the desperate level that is forming
> your narrative now. We had larger and more successful fundraisers every
> year, the staff doubled and tripled, the pageviews rose, as did unique
> visitors, and we enjoyed an improving reputation - there were no immediate
> burning fires that needed addressing. This entire paradigm shift reeks of a
> desperation that isn't supported by facts.
>
> Your project and vision is far too radical for the need of the hour. Even
> the changes you speak of, they can only be achieved gradually. You can't
> turn this ship in such a dramatic fashion for such an ambitious project.
> You should have prototyped exactly what it is you want - you had more than
> enough funds and resources without this tiny Knight foundation grant and
> this whole drama.
>
> Regards
> Theo
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

2016-02-22 Thread Brion Vibber
On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 8:03 AM, Anthony Cole  wrote:

> I found this response interesting. It highlights the imbalance we, on the
> outside, are having to deal with. It is OK for anyone to criticize the ED
> on this list and elsewhere but if she says something that implies
> shortcomings on the part of one or more of her staff or former staff - and
> if WMF had problems when she arrived at least some of them were staff
> problems -  it is used as proof she's "literally Hitler".
>

I don't think she's even figuratively Hitler; rather, she's not good at
communicating ideas or demonstrating leadership.

Multiple staffers are interpreting Lila's message as a carefully
constructed narrative positioning herself as a strong-willed reformer in
opposition to intransigent/incompetent staff. If anything, it's the most
well-constructed communication she's created to date... but even if that
narrative spoke to me as an ideal ("kick out the bums! get work done!") it
doesn't gel with what I've seen, and what other staff have seen, in the
last year and a half. If you don't believe one of us, fine; if you don't
believe any of us, well, I don't know what to say.

The achievements she claims are those of staff, often created as skunkworks
"pet projects". The projects she cites as successes have been losing their
leaders to resignation after resignation. I just don't buy the new
narrative she's giving that our work environment problems are due to
non-performing staff angry at not being promoted or their pet projects
being shut down.


> Does anyone know when the board is meeting (has it met) to resolve this? I
> don't want them to rush a poorly thought-through decision but, after a
> while, inaction in a human crisis like this becomes negligent abuse.
>

Rumor mill says they're meeting again on the subject at 9am pacific today.

(As noted elsewhere, the November board meeting covered the topic of Lila's
performance as ED, and many staff do not feel there has been visible
improvement since. The Board could come back and say "we gave her until
April to improve, she's gotta stay until then, deal with it" or they could
come back with a different decision. Or they might continue to stay silent.
It's increasingly hard to read them, with so many board members failing to
engage in public discussion.)

-- brion



> On 22 Feb 2016 10:53 pm, "Giuseppe Lavagetto" 
> wrote:
>
> > Dear Lila,
> >
> > I woke up this morning and as usual I went for my WMF email with my
> coffee.
> >
> > I woke up to read my ED implying that the employee discontent[1] was due
> > to, amongst other things:
> >
> > > We’ve asked for adjustment in attitude towards work, our
> > responsibilities and professional relationships.
> > > We prioritised impact and performance so that we can provide more value
> > to our communities and the world.
> >
> > Now, one easy way to read this, the most obvious one, is that the
> > attitude towards work of the WMF employees was somewhat not right or
> > unprofessional, and that we were lazy and not goal-driven.
> >
> > I would find this inappropriate in an internal email, but you went to
> > state that in public, and I have to admit I find this is deeply
> > offending on a personal and professional level.
> >
> > 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
> > (not specifically, but well, I'm part of the staff here right?).
> >
> > For the first time in the two years since I joined the WMF I felt a
> > sour taste in my mouth for just sitting down to work.
> >
> > Deeply sad,
> >
> > Giuseppe
> > [1]
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-01-06/News_and_notes
> > "WMF Staff morale"
> > --
> > Giuseppe Lavagetto
> > Senior Technical Operations Engineer, Wikimedia Foundation
> >
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

2016-02-22 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 11:14 PM, rupert THURNER 
wrote:

> brion,
>
> there is 10'000 km between you and me so i only read mails on this
> list. would you mind detailing what you expect from your CEO to
> trigger "she benefits me"?
>

I'd say these would help a lot:

* articulate a vision for her leadership term that is aligned with the
stated mission of the Wikimedia Foundation
* communicate with staff to understand what we do for the mission & what we
believe we can do further, and to help us maximize our ability to achieve
great things
* foster a positive, creative work environment where staff can do that
without burning out
* communicate with our broader community of editors, volunteers, chapter
organizers, readers, educators, developers, students, photographers,
videographers, copyeditors, researchers, etc about what they need to
maximize their contributions to the mission and how Wikimedia Foundation
and its staff can help achieve that

I don't believe these have been achieved during Lila's tenure.

This thread is the closest to a leadership vision that I've seen, and it
comes after months of private complaints, some intervention from the board,
an employee engagement survey that indicated very low confidence in senior
leadership's ability to convey a strategy, and finally weeks of open
complaints from staff that communication is bad, morale is bad, and
strategy is missing. We've seen some public strategy consultation, but
that's been recent (after the November board meeting) and there remain
concerns as to how open and consultative the process is.

As for the work environment, I believe I've made clear that I don't think
it's super great, and we're losing valuable staff rapidly due to that and
will likely continue to lose more.

I'm glad that some people outside the organization reportedly feel that
communication between them and the Foundation has improved, but internally
many staff do not feel they have been communicated with clearly. We've
spent so long talking about things like the 'Knowledge Engine' project
origins because we never got straightforward answers about what direction
things were moving in...

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

2016-02-21 Thread Brion Vibber
Lila, a few notes.

First, many staff members feel that the accomplishments you claim under
"we" are not attributable to you.

Complaints about lack of strategy and confusing management have come from
all levels of the staff; the implication that people who failed to be
promoted might be behind discontent seems not to hold water.

As to shutting down pet projects to improve focus, it's unclear what
projects you refer to.

Fundamentally we agree that we must improve tech. But the tech side of the
organization, based on my conversations with other employees including
managers, does not seem to have benefited from your tenure -- ops laregely
manages itself, while the other sections get occasionally surprised by a
reorg. We've still not fully recovered from the 2015 reorg and Damon's
appearance and disappearance.

If your contention is that tech supports you as a silent majority, I have
strong doubts that this is the case.

-- brion

On Feb 21, 2016 4:22 PM, "Lila Tretikov"  wrote:
>
> Why we’ve changed
>
>
> I want to address some of the many questions that are coming up in this
> forum. From the general to the very concrete, they all touch on the fact
> that many things about the WMF have been changing. We are in the thick of
> transformation, and you all have the right to know more about how and why
> this is occurring. This is not a statement of strategy, which will come
out
> of the community consultation next week. This is the ED’s perspective
only.
>
>
> After 15 years since the birth of Wikipedia, the WMF needs to rethink
> itself to ensure our editor work expands into the next decade. Recently we
> kicked-off some initiatives to this end, including aligning community
> support functions, focus on mobile and innovative technology, seeding the
> Wikimedia Endowment, re-organizing our internal structure, exploring
> partnerships and focusing on the most critical aspects of our mission:
> community and technology. We started this transformation, but as we move
> forward we are facing a crisis that is rooted in our choice of direction.
>
>
> The choice in front the WMF is that of our core identity. Our mission can
> be served in many ways, but we cannot do them all. We could either fully
> focus on building our content and educational programs. Or we can get
great
> at technology as the force multiplier for our movement. I believe the the
> former belongs to our volunteers and affiliates and that the role of the
> WMF is in providing global support and coordination of this work. I
believe
> in -- and the board hired me to -- focus on the latter. To transform our
> organization into a high-tech NGO, focused on the needs of our editors and
> readers and rapidly moving to update our aged technology to support those
> needs. To this end we have made many significant changes. But the
challenge
> in front of us is hard to underestimate: technology moves faster than any
> other field and meeting expectations of editors and readers  will require
> undistracted focus.
>
>
> What changed?
>
>
> When Jimmy started Wikipedia, the early editors took a century-old
> encyclopedia page and allowed anyone to create or edit its content. At the
> time when creating knowledge was still limited to the chosen few, openly
> collaborating online gave us power to create and update knowledge at a
much
> faster rate than anyone else. This was our innovation.
>
>
> As we matured, we encountered two fundamental, existential challenges. One
> is of our own doing: driving away those who would otherwise join our
> mission through complex policies, confusing user experiences, and a
caustic
> community culture. The other is external and is emerging from our own
value
> of freely licensed content: Many companies copy our knowledge into their
> own databases and present it inside their interfaces. While this supports
> wider dissemination, it also separates our readers from our community.
> Wikipedia
> is more than the raw content, repurposed by anyone as they like. It is a
> platform for knowledge and learning, but if we don't meet the needs of
> users, we will lose them and ultimately fail in our mission.
>
>
> Meanwhile, in the last 15 years revolutionary changes have taken hold. The
> rate of knowledge creation around the world is unprecedented and is
increasing
> exponentially .
User
> interfaces are becoming more adaptive to how users learn. This means we
> have a huge opportunity to accelerate human understanding. But to do so
> requires some significant change in technology and community interaction.
>
>
> So let’s begin with technology: Many at the WMF and in our community
> believe that we should not be a high-tech organization. I believe we
> should. With over half of our staff fully committed to delivering product
> and technology, it is already our primary vehicle for impacting our
mission
> and our community. In fact we constantly see additional 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] An Open Letter to Wikimedia Foundation BoT

2016-02-20 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 20, 2016 3:18 PM, "Anthony Cole" <ahcole...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I know.

I suppose I should be clearer: it is my contention that it is largely the
people advocating for and implementing the improvements you cite that we
are losing due to the management crisis.

-- brion

>
> Anthony Cole
>
>
> On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 7:17 AM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org>
wrote:
>
> > On Sat, Feb 20, 2016 at 2:56 PM, Anthony Cole <ahcole...@gmail.com>
wrote:
> >
> > > * The Community Resources Team is in place - it surveyed the community
> > and
> > > discussed with them their technical priorities, and tailored their
Idea
> > Lab
> > > Campaign accordingly.
> > >
> >
> > FYI, the head of that team is one of those who resigned last week:
> >
https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2016-February/081809.html
> >
> > -- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] An Open Letter to Wikimedia Foundation BoT

2016-02-20 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sat, Feb 20, 2016 at 2:56 PM, Anthony Cole  wrote:

> * The Community Resources Team is in place - it surveyed the community and
> discussed with them their technical priorities, and tailored their Idea Lab
> Campaign accordingly.
>

FYI, the head of that team is one of those who resigned last week:
https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2016-February/081809.html

-- brion
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[Wikimedia-l] What is the Board's HR Committee doing to stem the tide of staff resignations?

2016-02-18 Thread Brion Vibber
On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 12:26 PM, Dariusz Jemielniak <dar...@alk.edu.pl>
 wrote:

>
> On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 3:16 PM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org>
>  wrote:
>
>> What is the board doing, going forward, to stem the tide of staff
>> resignations?
>>
>
>  We have started with an engagement survey, and organizational facilitator
> analysis. More and more current input can be provided by Patricio or others
> from the Board's HR Committee, but there is also a lot of work done by the
> HR department, under its new leadership.
>

Patricio, can you add more details here please?

The engagement survey in November showed very, very low support for the
Executive Director. I'm not sure what "organizational facilitator analysis"
is, but if it's related to the management coaching for Lila, there are some
unanswered emails on the staff list which are very discouraging. I can
forward them to you if you are unaware.

As a longtime part of Wikimedia's community and staff, I would really
appreciate some clear answers on what's going on and why we're losing more
and more longtime community and staff members while an ED who needs
management coaching is still in place.

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] An Open Letter to Wikimedia Foundation BoT

2016-02-18 Thread Brion Vibber
On Feb 18, 2016 12:08 PM, "Dariusz Jemielniak"  wrote:
>
> When I refer to being constructive, I speak of exactly seeking decisive
> actions and moving forward, instead of gathering around a lying body and
> kicking :)

What is the board doing, going forward, to stem the tide of staff
resignations?

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wmfall] Outcomes from the Consultation on Wikimedia movement conferences/Wikimania

2016-02-09 Thread Brion Vibber
Was there a "don't mess with the process, but also don't hold it in tiny
towns while telling staff not to go because there's no room for them"?
option in the survey?

-- brion
On Feb 8, 2016 2:54 PM, "Ellie Young"  wrote:

> The Community Resources team at the WMF recently held a consultation
> 
> on articulating the value of Wikimedia movement conferences overall, the
> unique value of Wikimania, and what new form Wikimania could take to better
> serve the movement going forward.   We have completed analysis of these
> results and have prepared this report:
>
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:IdeaLab/Towards_a_New_Wikimania/Outcomes
>
> I will be working with the community, organizers, committees, and WMF in
> 2017 to begin set up and planning for an experimental model for Wikimedia
> movement conferences, including Wikimania, starting in 2018.
>
> Feedback and comments are welcome at the discussion page
> 
> Thanks to all who participated!
>
> Ellie
>
> --
> Ellie Young
> Events Manager
> Wikimedia Foundation
> eyo...@wikimedia.org
>
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> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wmfall
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Endowment Discussion

2015-11-30 Thread Brion Vibber
Thanks!

I added a section to the talk page asking about how we would actually go
about investing... the purpose of an endowment is to let it grow and just
spend some of the interest, but that growth doesn't happen in a vacuum.
Investment happens by putting money into other peoples' businesses and
letting them pay you back with interest.

So we'd be asking donors for tens of millions of dollars to invest in
third-party businesses -- a fundamental change in our fundraising
proposition. Thinking about our social responsibility as an investor is
probably worthwhile.

-- brion

On Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 9:09 AM, Lisa Gruwell 
wrote:

> Hi all-
>
> For several years, the Wikimedia movement has been having discussions
>  about whether and when to
> begin
> building an endowment. I put an essay up on meta recently in an attempt to
> rekindle this conversation with the community.  We included launching an
> endowment in the FY 2015-16 annual plan.  We also plan to have this
> conversation as a part of the larger strategic planning process because
> building an endowment means prioritizing some future needs over some
> current needs.
>
> Before we can begin to support an endowment, there is strategic groundwork
> that should be completed to ensure that the effort is both thoughtful and
> successful. To help get the conversation moving, I seeded the discussion
> page with a few questions that we are hoping you will help us answer.
> Please add the questions I didn't think to ask, too. We'd appreciate
> hearing your thoughts on this and your help in thinking through some of the
> strategic questions.
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Endowment_Essay
> Best regards,
>
> Lisa Gruwell
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Superprotect is gone

2015-11-05 Thread Brion Vibber
On Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 10:14 AM, Laurentius 
wrote:

> Il giorno gio, 05/11/2015 alle 18.35 +0100, Quim Gil ha scritto:
> > Superprotect [1] was introduced by the Wikimedia Foundation to resolve
> > a
> > product development disagreement. We have not used it for resolving a
> > dispute since. Consequently, today we are removing Superprotect from
> > Wikimedia servers.
>
> This is great news!
>
> Just to understand, is it still present in MediaWiki but not active on
> Wikimedia sites or it not in the MediaWiki code anymore?
>

There is no code specific to "superprotect"; it's the exact same MediaWiki
permissions/protection system that lets users in the 'sysop' group override
the ability of anonymous or regular users to edit particular pages.
Technically nothing has changed -- particular protection levels can be
added and removed via configuration at any time if they are needed.


In other words -- ignore the superprotect red herring! Please look at the
documentation of the product process and give feedback on that, it's much,
MUCH more important:

https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/WMF_Product_Development_Process

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What's cool?

2015-06-08 Thread Brion Vibber
On Sat, Jun 6, 2015 at 8:49 AM, Derk-Jan Hartman wrote:
[re: experiments using video.js to improve UI of TimedMediaHandler]

 And we will need brion’s ogv.js https://brionv.com/misc/ogv.js/demo/ work
 to support browsers without OGV/WebM support.


A couple updates on that front:

1) It looks like it should be easy to integrate ogv.js into video.js as a
player tech.

2) I have an early version of WebM decoding in JavaScript
https://brionv.com/log/2015/06/07/im-in-ur-javascript-decoding-ur-webm/
working! It's much slower than Ogg but has higher video quality when
there's CPU available for it, as on a fast desktop/laptop that's running
Safari or IE without WebM drivers natively installed.

3) I've also found a combination of free-but-crappy codec options that
works in iOS natively: AVI with Motion-JPEG video and uncompressed audio
https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T101716! To keep the bitrate sane we'll
have to turn quality down, but 5fps and scratchy audio is often better than
nothing. This will work at times when ogv.js can't be used, such as the
embedded web browsers in iPhone apps that haven't updated to Apple's latest
embedding APIs.

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

2015-04-13 Thread Brion Vibber
It's been a long journey -- I remember that 2007 office well, and the crazy
times before even that. :)

Best of luck on what's next!

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

 Hi all --

 As Lila noted, since January 2008 I've worn many hats at the Wikimedia
 Foundation, and in the six years before that I was a Wikipedian,
 MediaWiki developer, and member of the WMF board of trustees. I became
 involved in Wikipedia when I was 22 years old. :) The Wikimedia
 movement has accomplished amazing things, but I believe it's time now
 for me to do something different and new.

 It's been a long and incredible journey, and one I am privileged to
 have helped to shape. When I joined the Foundation in December 2007 we
 were a staff of a dozen people, with barely enough funds to keep the
 lights on. Since then, we've tackled challenges of a complexity and
 scale faced by few other organisations. In doing so, we’ve been
 generously supported by people all over the world who are grateful for
 the gift of free knowledge.

 I’m proud of and happy with what we've achieved. Reaching people on
 mobile. Pioneering new approaches working with universities.
 Painstakingly building a visual editing experience on top of wikitext.
 :) I’m glad we’ve taken a stand when it matters (SOPA blackout, NSA
 lawsuit) and that we don’t shy away from complex issues such as
 community health and diversity.

 I’m excited that Wikidata is growing in leaps and bounds with the help
 of Wikimedia Germany, and that more and more powerful tools and
 services are being built on the basis of Wikimedia APIs and data. I’ve
 always believed that Wikimedia chapter and affiliate organizations are
 key to the success of the movement, and I hope they are going to truly
 thrive in years to come.

 But it's time. As the leadership team begins to coalesce under Lila, I
 want to open up space for the organization to learn and explore anew
 -- and I’d like to rediscover for myself what it means to tackle
 challenges outside of my areas of comfort and familiarity.

 I’m very interested in the technical challenges of federated
 collaboration, and am looking forward to getting my hands dirty in
 that domain. I also want to explore how to make patterns of ethics,
 policy, and self-governance more accessible and re-usable for
 communities. In short, I’m itching to immerse myself in new problem
 spaces and new ideas.

 Lila, Damon, Terry, myself and others in the org have been discussing
 how to organize product going forward to set the org up for success in
 the years to come, and we’ll have an update on that very soon. This is
 a very natural point for me to pursue something new.

 What Wikimedia does in the world is wonderful  important. I’m sure I
 will continue to cross paths with many of you in future as I continue
 to move in free culture circles, and I very much look forward to it.

 I’ll continue to be @ WMF full-time through April, and will make
 myself available as necessary afterwards, for when the org needs human
 institutional memory that surpasses digital archives. I wish you all
 success and joy :-)

 Love,

 Erik
 --
 Erik Möller
 VP of Product  Strategy, Wikimedia Foundation

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Data privacy, encrypted links and recent change captures

2015-03-10 Thread Brion Vibber
On Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 12:15 PM, John Mark Vandenberg jay...@gmail.com
wrote:


 Could we have an update on what is being done over the last year to protect
 the privacy of user data sent between datacenters?


Someone in ops could add more detail on the actual work in progress, but
you can watch the public tickets in Phabricator for some updates:

https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/tag/interdatacenter-ipsec/
^ there is some infrastructure work required on getting ipsec going on the
links between data centers; I am given to understand more work is coming
soon on this. Hopefully there will be updates on this ticket. :)

https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/tag/https-by-default/
^ some HTTPS frontend work items

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community RfCs about MediaViewer

2014-07-10 Thread Brion Vibber
Perhaps it's time to stop calling self-selected surveys of a tiny subset of
our user base community consensus.

The vast majority of our user base never logs in, never edits, and never
even hears about these RfC pages. Those are the people we're making an
encyclopedia for.

-- brion


On Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 10:03 PM, Pine W wiki.p...@gmail.com wrote:

 This discussion has closed on English Wikipedia:
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Media_Viewer/June_2014_RfC

 Will WMF deactivate MediaViewer on English Wikipedia per community
 consensus?

 Also, as WMF probably knows, Commons is currently having a similar
 discussion:

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Requests_for_comment/Media_Viewer_software_feature

 Thanks,

 Pine
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community RfCs about MediaViewer

2014-07-10 Thread Brion Vibber
On Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 9:52 AM, Pierre-Selim pierre-se...@huard.info
wrote:

 For exemple on french wikipedia we used to have a direct link to Wikimedia
 Commons (we technically removed the description page proxy), now we have
 totally lost this feature. So yes you may think it's not important, but as
 an administrator on Wikimedia Commons it screws my workflow when I see an
 obvious copyvio on the French Wikipedia.


Also, try ctrl+click (cmd+click on OS X) or right-click then open link in
new tab. You'll find it opens the Commons description page just as always.
(I'd generally expect power users to be using multiple browser tabs
already.)

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Revamped Wikipedia app for Android now live!

2014-06-25 Thread Brion Vibber
Congratulations to the Mobile Apps Android team on their first release of
the new app!

iPhone users, rest assured we're hard at work polishing up the iOS version,
which brings the same updated feature set. Expect it in the next few
weeks...

-- brion


On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 11:28 AM, Dan Garry dga...@wikimedia.org wrote:

 Hi everyone,

 If you love Wikipedia and have an Android phone, you’re in for a treat!
 Today we’ve released a revamped Wikipedia for Android app, now
 available on Google
 Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.wikipedia.

 Our new features include:

- *Speed* – Our new, native app allows you to browse and edit Wikipedia
faster than ever before.
- *Editing* – You can edit Wikipedia on the app. Logged in or logged
out, we thank you for all your contributions.
- *Recent pages* – We provide you with your reading history, so you can
tap as many links as you like without ever getting lost.
- *Saved pages* – You can save select pages for offline reading and
browse them even when you don’t have a data connection.
- *Share* – Use your existing social networking apps to share in the sum
of all human knowledge.
- *Language support* – The app allows you to seamlessly switch to
reading Wikipedia written in any language.
- *Wikipedia Zero* – We’ve partnered with cellular carriers around the
world to provide Wikipedia free of data charges to users in many
 developing
areas.

 Coming soon:

- *Night mode* – We’ve gotten lots of great beta user feedback; one
feature people love is reading Wikipedia in darker environments. The
inverted colour scheme offered by night mode will make that much easier.
- *Discussions* – Talk pages are an important part of Wikipedia for both
new users and experienced editors alike. We’re bringing them to the app.

 This release is just the beginning! We’re still working hard on creating
 new features to make the app the best Wikipedia reading and editing
 experience out there.

 Please help us improve this app by sending a note to our mailing list,
 mobile-android-wikipe...@wikimedia.org.

 Thank you!

 Dan

 --
 Dan Garry
 Associate Product Manager for Platform and Mobile Apps
 Wikimedia Foundation
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Revamped Wikipedia app for Android now live!

2014-06-25 Thread Brion Vibber
On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 6:19 PM, Andy Mabbett a...@pigsonthewing.org.uk
wrote:

 Sections are no longer collapsed on opening a page. This makes it harder to
 reach the latter sections of long articles, and presents the reader with a
 mobile-unfriendly wall of text.

 Can this be configurable (akin to some browser's privacy mode)?


With the new generation of the app we've gone with a table of contents menu
in place of the confusing auto-collapsing of sections (which required
individually opening every section in turn for a full read, and was still
hard to scroll back *up* somewhere).

There's a button on the toolbar to open the table of contents; from there
you can jump immediately to any section.

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Revamped Wikipedia app for Android now live!

2014-06-25 Thread Brion Vibber
On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 6:57 PM, Andy Mabbett a...@pigsonthewing.org.uk
wrote:

 On Jun 26, 2014 2:16 AM, Sage Ross ragesoss+wikipe...@gmail.com wrote:
  You can enter an edit summary. Either choose one of the predefined
 options
  for how you improved the page, or pick other to enter a manual edit
  summary.

 Where?


Since phone screens are small, you may have noticed that the editing
process is broken up over a couple of separate steps. The preview stage
gives you a chance to select some 'canned' brief edit summaries, or select
'other' and input your own.

Here's a screen recording I just made of the process:

https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/File:Adding_an_edit_summary_in_Wikipedia_Android_app_version_2.ogv

-- brion
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[Wikimedia-l] Wikipedia mobile apps (was: Please be considerate of everyone's time.)

2014-06-16 Thread Brion Vibber
As Sage notes, the functionality of the new apps is about the same on both
Android and iOS, with some differences in the UI.

Like the beta Android version, we're using a sidebar ToC instead of
collapsing sections (though it's a bit fancier looking on iOS right now!)
and we've added basic login and editing ability. Note that in both OSs we
do not yet have any talk page or notification support -- this should be
coming a couple months down the line as we continue to tune up the
editor-facing features.


We hope to iterate fairly quickly once we've got the first new version out!

Unfortunately due to Apple's store policies we can't have an open public
beta version of the app easily installable like we do on Android. We're
currently doing in-house betas with Apple's Enterprise Distribution
program combined with the TestFlight beta distribution service; when they
release upcoming improvements to TestFlight we'll be able to distribute
betas much more publicly but this may not arrive until iOS 8 as well.


Regarding iOS 8 features -- they are very much on our minds, but we can't
actually use them yet so we're working on polishing up the iOS
6/7-compatible release. :)

Aside from various nice internals updates in the OS, one of the main
user-facing improvements is better app-to-app integration based on
extension points. This would allow us to make Commons available as a
share destination for photos directly from other apps as we do on
Android, and other potential things.

-- brion




On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 6:43 AM, Sage Ross ragesoss+wikipe...@gmail.com
wrote:

 On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 8:30 AM, Thehelpfulone
 thehelpfulonew...@gmail.com wrote:
  Ahh, but some of us are on iOS which doesn’t seem to have been updated
 on the App Store in a while! The latest status update (at
 https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Apps/status#2014-05-monthly)
 seems to suggest it’s in Alpha state. Please can someone from the Apps Team
 give me some insight into the ETA for a new app, and if some of the new
 features of iOS 8 could be integrated into it?
 

 I believe the provisional release date is July 7.[1]

 In broad strokes, the functionality of the new iOS app is pretty
 similar to the new Android app, although I must say the iOS version
 has a really cool way of handling the in-article navigation with both
 a ToC and a scrollable miniature view of the article. Someone who
 knows better can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think much
 attention has been given yet to potential iOS 8-specific features.

 -Sage

 [1] = http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/mobile-l/2014-June/007331.html

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [WikimediaMobile] Audio and video help for mobile users

2014-01-22 Thread Brion Vibber
Android should just work but there are some regressions since I last
tested it, from what I hear. Hopefully we can get these examined and fixed
soon.

There are some possible things we can do launching files in the VLC app for
iOS; some clever JavaScript could make this experience smoother. I plan to
do a little more research when time permits (after Architecture Summit this
week).

There are some vague ideas jumping around for linking a proper WebM video
player into our iOS app, but we haven't committed to such a thing yet.

-- brion


On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 12:31 PM, Andy Mabbett a...@pigsonthewing.org.ukwrote:

 [cross-posted]

 Following discussion at:

  
 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Village_pump#FLAC_on_Apple_devices
 ,

 about the difficulty of playing Wikimedia audio and video on mobile
 devices, we've added red links to:

   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Media_help

 for iOS and Android.

 I'm sure some of the readers of these lists have the requisite
 knowledge, to populate those pages; so please do!

 The issue arose during a project I've been running with the BBC:

   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:BBC_voice_project

 in which they've released clips of broadcast material under open
 licence, for the first time.

 Assisting mobile users to play our media more easily will lend weight
 to future requests to them and other archive holders, to release
 audio-visual resources under open licences.

 --
 Andy Mabbett
 @pigsonthewing
 http://pigsonthewing.org.uk

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [WikimediaMobile] Audio and video help for mobile users

2014-01-22 Thread Brion Vibber
I've added stub pages:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Media_help/iOS
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Media_help/Android

Please feel free to add relevant background links, or a link to the MP4
discussion on the iOS page which may be of interest.

-- brion



On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 12:47 PM, Brion Vibber bvib...@wikimedia.orgwrote:

 Android should just work but there are some regressions since I last
 tested it, from what I hear. Hopefully we can get these examined and fixed
 soon.

 There are some possible things we can do launching files in the VLC app
 for iOS; some clever JavaScript could make this experience smoother. I plan
 to do a little more research when time permits (after Architecture Summit
 this week).

 There are some vague ideas jumping around for linking a proper WebM video
 player into our iOS app, but we haven't committed to such a thing yet.

 -- brion


 On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 12:31 PM, Andy Mabbett 
 a...@pigsonthewing.org.ukwrote:

 [cross-posted]

 Following discussion at:

  
 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Village_pump#FLAC_on_Apple_devices
 ,

 about the difficulty of playing Wikimedia audio and video on mobile
 devices, we've added red links to:

   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Media_help

 for iOS and Android.

 I'm sure some of the readers of these lists have the requisite
 knowledge, to populate those pages; so please do!

 The issue arose during a project I've been running with the BBC:

   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:BBC_voice_project

 in which they've released clips of broadcast material under open
 licence, for the first time.

 Assisting mobile users to play our media more easily will lend weight
 to future requests to them and other archive holders, to release
 audio-visual resources under open licences.

 --
 Andy Mabbett
 @pigsonthewing
 http://pigsonthewing.org.uk

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] RfC: Should we support MP4 Video on our sites?

2014-01-16 Thread Brion Vibber
On Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM, Gerard Meijssen gerard.meijs...@gmail.com
 wrote:

 Hoi,
 This is a truly divisive issue. For many people the notion that you do not
 need anything proprietary is a powerful motivator to participate. Promoting
 a stack of software that cannot be taken away because of the whims of a
 company or country is an integral part to it.

 From my perspective the lack of clarity in the license of the MP* codes
 makes them really suspicious. Once we start using content in MP* we cannot
 turn back. So if things go south we will be royally screwed.


In theory we'll be free to turn back at any time by deleting all those
nasty *.mp4 files and just using the .ogv and .webm files -- but we'd be
giving up functionality unless the landscape changes in the mean time.

For this reason I would continue to advocate supporting work on low-level
WebM support alternatives (software codecs for iOS and other mobile OSs,
JavaScript decoding for desktop web browsers) even if we do go MP4 to
better support today's devices today, as this would give us a stronger
fallback position if we need to drop it in future. See
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Brion_VIBBER/Media_codec_alternativesfor
some notes on things that are possible, but currently outside our
budgeted work.


-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 108 Wikipedias had their logo updated

2013-05-14 Thread Brion Vibber
Awesome work, all!

Note that I *strongly* encourage any logos not already available as SVG to
update to an SVG version. Not only are SVGs generally more flexible and
reusable because they can be scaled up, it'll also make it a *lot* easier
to add a high-resolution version of your logo for visitors with
Retina-density displays: 
https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=35337

-- brion


On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 2:55 PM, Federico Leva (Nemo) nemow...@gmail.comwrote:

 As you may remember, in 2010 the Wikipedia puzzle logo was updated: 
 https://commons.wikimedia.**org/wiki/Wikipedia/2.0https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia/2.0
 
 The localisation and update of logos has always been a volunteer-driven
 effort, organised mostly by Casey at the time. Building on his work,[1] in
 the last 6 months over 100 Wikipedias had their logo updated,[2] with the
 last batch yesterday.
 Like the 55 Wiktionaries in December,[3] many of those wikis have never
 had a localised before; the others were still using the v1 logo or had some
 other breach of the visual guidelines.
 Many thanks to all the translators and users checking the new logos, and
 to the tireless Odder who drew some 66 of those logos and uploaded even
 more in the process of doing so. Again, you can still help by adding
 translations and reporting errors on the coordination page.[1]

 Nemo

 [1] 
 https://meta.wikimedia.org/**wiki/User:Cbrown1023/Logoshttps://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Cbrown1023/Logos
 
 [2] 108 if I'm counting correctly. https://bugzilla.wikimedia.**
 org/buglist.cgi?bug_id=40285,**44974,46589,48397https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/buglist.cgi?bug_id=40285,44974,46589,48397
 
 [3] http://lists.wikimedia.org/**pipermail/translators-l/2012-**
 December/002193.htmlhttp://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/translators-l/2012-December/002193.html
 

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] The case for supporting open source machine translation

2013-04-25 Thread Brion Vibber
On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 7:26 AM, Denny Vrandečić 
denny.vrande...@wikimedia.de wrote:

 Not just bootstrapping the content. By having the primary content be saved
 in a language independent form, and always translating it on the fly, it
 would not merely bootstrap content in different languages, but it would
 mean that editors from different languages would be working on the same
 content. The texts in the different language is not a translation of each
 other, but they are all created from the same source. There would be no
 primacy of, say, English.


You are blowing my mind, dude. :)

I suspect this approach won't serve for everything, but it sounds
*awesome*. If we can tie natural-language statements directly to data nodes
(rather than merely annotating vague references like we do today), then
we'd be much better able to keep language versions in sync. How to make
them sane to edit... sounds harder. :)

It would be foolish to create any such plan without reusing tools and
 concepts from the Translate extension, translation memories, etc. There is
 a lot of UI and conceptual goodness in these tools. The idea would be to
 make them user extensible with rules.


Heck yeah!

If you want, examples of that are the bots working on some Wikipedias
 currently, creating text from structured input. They are partially reusing
 the same structured input, and need merely a translation in the way the
 bots create the text to save in the given Wikipedia. I have seen some
 research in the area, but they all have one or the other drawbacks, but can
 and should be used as an inspiration and to inform the project (like
 Allegro Controlled English, or a Chat program developed at the Open
 University in Milton Keynes to allow conducting business in different
 languages, etc.)


Ye... make them real-time updatable instead of one-time bots producing
language which can't be maintained.

-- brion
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