[Wikimedia-l] Protest

2020-09-23 Thread Chris Sherlock
I don’t have much to say, so I will try to make this short.

I have been told that I have “invoked [my] mental heath as a weapon”, and that 
I should “stop whining”. The full, unedifying, thread can be viewed here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators%27_noticeboard/Incidents#BHG

Consequently I have blanked my user and talk page and scrambled my password, in 
protest.

I thank the many, many kind and lovely people on Wikipedia who I have met over 
the years. However, it is quite clear now that Wikipedia is too a toxic an 
environment to continue editing. This is a pity, I had hoped to get the Ada 
Winifred Weekes Baker article to GA status, and continue to research and write 
articles about Australian women (there are hundreds and hundred left to go, see 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Chris.sherlock/Australian_Women_In_Red/ADB).

I ask folks to be kind to one another. 

Thank you,
Chris

Sent from my iPhone
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Sexual harassment

2020-08-23 Thread Chris Sherlock
To be clear, this is what I was advised:

“ Harassment concerns can be reviewed under the appropriate community process. 
I would therefore advise you to report the edit summary to the appropriate 
channels on the wiki it occured. If this happened on English Wikipedia, this 
would be the Administrator's board for incidents.
I hope the above is helpful.”

Chris

Sent from my iPhone

> On 24 Aug 2020, at 6:43 am, Chris Sherlock  wrote:
> 
> Hello all, 
> 
> I have been advised by the WMF that if anyone is concerned about being 
> sexually harassed they must report this to AN/I and there are no private 
> mechanisms to report this sort of thing.
> 
> Is this for real?
> 
> Chris Sherlock
> 
> Sent from my iPhone
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[Wikimedia-l] Sexual harassment

2020-08-23 Thread Chris Sherlock
Hello all, 

I have been advised by the WMF that if anyone is concerned about being sexually 
harassed they must report this to AN/I and there are no private mechanisms to 
report this sort of thing.

Is this for real?

Chris Sherlock

Sent from my iPhone
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[Wikimedia-l] The end

2016-05-17 Thread Chris Sherlock

I've just been blocked forever. I've been bullied, and I'm having suicidal 
thoughts.

I don't know what to do now.

Right now I'm reaching out to anyone who might listen.  I've been called 
obsessive, someone who attacks people, I've not been listened to and I've been 
lectured on policy by people who quote three letter shortcuts at me without 
reading the policy.

An admin just told me that I had submitted too many kilobytes which violated 
some sort of policy. When I pointed out that half of the kilobytes were 
references I was ignored. When I pointed out that the one reverting me was 
deleting no contentious stuff I was told I was being contentious. When I 
pointed out I had been told I'm not allowed to use primary sources in any way 
and the policy was its ok but to use it with care, and all I was doing was 
checking a company directorship, I was ignored. 

I wrote your [[exploding whale]] article. I invented your [citation needed] 
tag. I started your admins noticeboard. 

But I'm not well, and nobody on Wikipedia seems to be kind. You are all so busy 
power tripping that you forget there is a real, live person on the other side. 
A person who is wounded. I haven't always been this depressed. Not anxious. I 
stupidly logged into my account yesterday, one that nobody knew I used, and 
tried to edit the Salim Mehajer article. I was surprised it wasn't there, but 
I've never been so obstructed I all my life. It's not even that there was a 
disagreement, it was like I wasn't worth anything. I spent hours of my time 
researching the article, trying to do a good job. But in an instant the 
material was ripped away, and I was called obsessed. 

That's not what I was called when I rewrote the [[USA PATRIOT Act]] article. 
People told me it was long, but they were encouraging. My hard work was 
appreciated. 

I've never attacked the subject of the article, Salim Mehajer. But when I was 
called obsessive, I guess something broke inside me. I reached badly and called 
the guy who called me obsessive a twit. Then I wrote a bitter article and 
posted it on my blog. You can read it here:

http://randomtechnicalstuff.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/dont-bite-newbies-why-wikipedia-is-such.html

Then I stewed. I couldn't stop thinking about how I'd tried to get a decent 
article sorted out again, but I just couldn't seem to get traction.

I originally had taken material from the [[City of Auburn]] article that was 
about the individual. I should have realised it was partisan, and it was a bad 
judgement call. I write done more material, but it was far too negative. I 
guess o didn't see it that way at the time. 

I recall I went to bed and the next day I was accused of writing an attack 
article and an admin slapped on not one but two template telling me I was about 
to be blocked. Then I discovered the article had been deleted. Nobody had 
notified me. I couldn't work out what had happened. Then I realised it had been 
deleted. 

So I tried again. This time I started from scratch. I started to edit very 
carefully. I started with a paragraph stub which just very, very briefly noted 
Mehajor is a deputy mayor and property developer. I think I wrote a short 
paragraph Bout his wedding which was very notable. It's in the history.

Then it was put up for deletion again. In the A7 category. I'm rusty at 
Wikipedia, sure, but what? A7? It was for notability. But, I thought, how? The 
man is highly significant! Not a day goes by without the media talking of his 
exploits!

So I objected. The editor rounded on me. He's famous for being famous, like a 
Kardashian! he said. But I said, he was a deputy mayor and he's been in the 
Australian media extensively! It's not just his wedding (which was notorious) - 
it's his property deals, and his companies, and he got his entire council 
sacked! And he is in court all the time and is under an AFP investigation! That 
*is* notable!

But, I was told, there's not enough In the article. I was referred to another 
acronym about notability. But I know about notability policy, I thought. It's 
about the subject, not the content of the article.., desperately I hunted 
through the policy git the section on this. I'd read it before, years ago. If 
the article was deleted before I got a chance to object, I'd be called a troll, 
or worse. I'd be blocked for recreating it. In the nick of time I found the 
section and objected, and I asked to have it put on Articles For Deletion. And 
I pointed out I was literally editing the article when it was almost deleted - 
because it didn't establish enough context. But, I thought, how do you 
establish context of the article is deleted midway through editing it? 

The editor took off the CSD template. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then they 
stick on a {{notability}} template. This, I was informed, meant that the 
article could be merged, redirected, or deleted if notability couldn't be 
determined. But, I thought - I just established that! I didn't want it to 

[Wikimedia-l] Disrupting journal publishing

2016-05-05 Thread Chris Sherlock
Hello all,

The following post on HN states the following:

> About fifteen years ago I was working on a venture to make an open-content 
> journal publishing system. It didn't pan out for various reasons, but the 
> general argument we were making this. Here are various services, and who (or 
> what) handles them:
> 
> - Peer review and top-level decision-making. This is handled entirely by the 
> editorial board.
> - Typesetting. We have a free system for this: it's called LaTeX.
> - Copy-editing and typeset-checking. This is handled by the publisher.
> - Publishing and archiving. This is handled by the publisher.
> - Famous Name. This is controlled by the publisher and is pure rent-seeking.
> 
> It used to be that the publisher handled much more than this. But with a 
> decent online publishing, workflow, and archiving system, and with a 
> near-zero cost in publishing and archiving online nowadays, essentially the 
> only useful service the publisher provides is copy-editing. That is very 
> minor.
> 
> If a free online business model can figure out how to fund copy-editing and 
> automatic standards enforcement (for example, people make awful bibtex 
> entries, including Springer's auto-generation system), and a university 
> institution willing to host the journal's archives, the entire utility of a 
> publisher disappears

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11637251 
<https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11637251>

In all seriousness, what would stop the WMF from attempting to setup journals?

With the WMF’s reputation, I can't see what would stop them from recruiting 
reputable people who can be reviewers on the panel. Copy editing could be done 
over the Wiki.

This would take the control of information away from for-profit companies, give 
maximum transparency, increase the stature of Wikimedia, allow for verified 
content and allow Wikipedia to keep its user generated, no original research 
model and allow for WMF expansion into area that it didn't have the ability to 
be part of before - like research!

Heck, it could then allow the WMF to serious consider funding pure research, or 
make it easier to run a reputable online university.

The case for disrupting the current business models of Elsevier is compelling. 
In 2015, Elsevier reported a profit margin of approximately 37% on revenues of 
£2.070 billion. [0] I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the economic 
benefit of allowing publication of free journals to countries such as 
Afghanistan. My calculation may be way off, but as an example according to 
Elsevier they charge an individual researcher "$31.50 per article or chapter 
for most Elsevier content [and] select titles are priced between $19.95 and 
$41.95 (subject to change).” [1]

My calculation, on the assumption that the median wage in Afghanistan is 50,000 
AHD per year and the exchange rate for USD to AHD of 68.3 AHD to 1 USD shows 
that for one article it is about 2,150 AHD, or half the monthly wage of an 
Afghani with a median income!

We could step into this space. And we could do our disruption legally, and make 
things like Sci-Hub less necessary for those in countries who cannot afford the 
extraordinary prices of journal publishers!

So what do people think?

Chris Sherlock


0. "2015 RELX Group Annual Report" (PDF at 
http://www.relx.com/investorcentre/reports%202007/Documents/2015/relxgroup_ar_2015.pdf
 
<http://www.relx.com/investorcentre/reports%202007/Documents/2015/relxgroup_ar_2015.pdf>).
 RELX Group Company Reports. RELX Group. March 2016.

1. https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/sciencedirect/content/pay-per-view 
<https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/sciencedirect/content/pay-per-view>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fwd: A conversation?

2016-03-10 Thread Chris Sherlock


Sent from my iPad

> On 11 Mar 2016, at 9:24 AM, Leila Zia  wrote:
> 
> ​If you see that you don't have a healthy line of communication with Jimmy,
> you may want to consider not communicating with him at all. Initiating
> and/or participating in conversations about someone when you cannot have a
> healthy conversation with that person won't be beneficial. You will end up
> being in a position that you cannot improve things between the two of you,
> but you will have extra information that you will feel burdened to share
> with others.

That's pretty unfair. It was Jimmy who initiated this off list correspondence 
with James and Peter. He didn't ask Peter if he wanted to be a mediator, and I 
think Peter's response makes that clear. In fact, saying that Peter was an 
active participant in this discussion off list is totally inaccurate. As you 
can see from the response that Peter provided to Jimmy (which he has shared 
with us now), Peter has taken great pains to make it clear he doesn't want to 
be involved in direct correspondence on this issue and he wants any discussion 
he takes part in to be in public.

Basically, whilst I respect your views on this situation, in my view the email 
you are directing to Peter is better directed to Jimmy.

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

2016-03-10 Thread Chris Sherlock


Sent from my iPad

> On 11 Mar 2016, at 6:11 AM, Keegan Peterzell  wrote:
> ​Kevin,
> 
> You've been touting your experience on Boards in giving advice, and I have
> some experience there myself, so let's think of ​it in those Real World
> terms:
> 
> Regardless of what anyone's personal opinion on what may or may not be
> confidential, what may or may not be an insult or personal attack, what may
> or may not be etc., there is a very real legal shield of confidentiality in
> place not just for this board, but for any semi-professional organization
> that exists because personal opinion does not matter in the eyes of the law.
> 
> ​Multiple people are asking why James was removed. The answer has been
> given: the Board felt that they were unable to work with James, and due to
> the privacy of Board work, nothing can be disclosed further. While this
> answer is frustrating in a movement where we demand transparency for trust
> and collaboration (as we should), for Jimmy or anyone else to comment
> further would be - as an understatement - a poor decision, and one I'm sure
> Counsel would drop their jaw over, if not outright resign their position.
> 
> If you were in the same position, you'd do the exact same thing. If you
> didn't, you'd be opening up a hole for a lawsuit that you can drive a truck
> through. And that lawsuit and hole, friends, is what will be the death of
> the Wikimedia Foundation. Not this.

And yet Keenan, Jimmy has indeed commented further and has further stated on 
numerous occasions that he would like transparency, and is working with the 
Board to release emails and provide a fuller explanation of their actions to 
remove James. 

So when you talk about a shield of confidentiality for the Board, then if this 
is the case then Jimmy's actions in communicating with a non-board member 
(Pete) seems to put Jimmy in a very awkward position if he agrees with your 
statement that "for Jimmy or anyone else to comment further would be - as an 
understatement - a poor decision, and one I'm sure Counsel would drop their jaw 
over, if not outright resign their position." Or the very public utterances by 
Jimmy, not cleared by counsel, that he is a liar.

Just remember here that Jimmy sent that email unsolicited to Peter. It is not 
Jimmy I feel for here, but Peter. Peter gets an email that shocks him, and he 
feels is unacceptable and manipulative, possibly even defamatory. He responds 
to Jimmy telling him that he is not a mediator. Jimmy then makes comments on 
the list stating that he is in private communications with James to work 
through issues, to which I personally believed was an excellent and 
constructive thing for him to do. Yet we now see what sort of communication he 
is having with James: insults and denigration, and what looks like attempts to 
manipulate and inflame James.

If anything, that's incredibly unfair to James. On the one hand Jimmy can say 
to everyone that hand on heart he is working through things with James *in 
private*, and yet by doing so he can say whatever he wants to James and should 
James reveal their correspondence then he, and others like yourself, can claim 
that private communications were violated. Thus Jimmy can say what he wants 
with complete impunity, and at the same time appear to the wider community to 
be making good faith attempts at reconciling with James.

If I were in James' shoes, I would cease all communications with such a person 
and request a formal, third party, professions mediator. I would also advise 
Jimmy that any future communications that do not satisfy this condition can no 
longer be considered private and may well be publicised.

Jimmy: you need to stop calling, or even implying or suggesting James is a 
liar. I am not a lawyer, but I feel you are very lucky in many ways that you 
don't live in the UK, because I feel James would be well within his rights to 
sue for defamation from some of the things you have stated. I'm not sure if he 
would have grounds, or even much of a chance of winning, a defamation suit in 
the U.S. but I suspect he could try should he want to.

The bottom line is that a professional mediator probably now needs to get 
involved. If the WMF is unwilling to fund or provide one, then this issue is 
not going away. I suspect that regardless, James will campaign to be elected 
for the next available Board on a platform of making the Board's actions more 
transparent and accountable. The Board will be in a position, should he win, of 
not accepting the nomination or will need to allow him on the Board - and this 
time, should he be removed again the uproar will be extremely damaging to the 
WMF. The Board, in my view, has no one to blame but themselves for allowing 
this to occur.

Chris
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A conversation?

2016-03-10 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 10 Mar 2016, at 8:25 PM, Jimmy Wales  wrote:
> 
> On 3/10/16 8:18 AM, Benjamin Lees wrote:
>> I was glad when I saw Jimbo indicate he was reaching out to James.  At
>> the risk of sounding hopelessly naive, maybe Jimbo should send James
>> another email, this time extending a clearer olive branch.  If we're
>> past the point of no return on that, then so be it, but I would be
>> happy to know that after three months of talking about and at each
>> other, you guys _sincerely_ tried talking to each other.
> 
> I agree completely.  My email, which seems so horrifying to a few
> people, was meant exactly as that.  The truth is, I am genuinely
> bewildered and finding it very hard to understand why James says things
> that the entire rest of the board find contrary to fact.

Christ Jimmy, you sincerely told him he was either a liar, emotionally stunted, 
or psychologically damaged! You think *that* is extending an olive branch?!?

> There is nothing horrible about encouraging him to think about whether
> emotion has blinded him.  When so many other people who know the facts
> are telling you that you have it wrong, it's a good idea to pause and
> reflect.

Then it’s a good idea to stick to, you know, the facts. Did you really
think that telling James that one option is he is a liar would be
conducive to reflections?

> And yes, it would have been more charitable and kind to include other
> options in that email.  I wrote it as an opening to a dialogue, not as a
> formal statement of position to be analyzed in public.  I invite people
> to think whether Pete's publishing of it was done in the interests of
> healing and harmony, rather than to further inflame and create drama.

“Charitable and kind”? What options might these have been? 

If that email was the opening to a dialogue, then you might want to consider
your own level of EQ!

Chris


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A conversation?

2016-03-10 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 10 Mar 2016, at 5:18 PM, Erik Moeller  wrote:
> 
> 2016-03-09 16:56 GMT-08:00 Pete Forsyth :
> 
>> I feel this message can provide important insight into the dynamics
>> surrounding James H.'s dismissal, and various people have expressed
>> interest in seeing it, so I'm forwarding it to the list. (For what it's
>> worth, I did check with James H.; he had no objection to my sharing it.)
> 
> Pete, regardless of Jimmy's words in this email, like others, I fail
> to see how it's okay to share a private email to this list. I can
> think of a few instances where this might be ethically defensible --
> like actual fraud being committed -- but this is not one of them. It's
> totally fair for people to ask Jimmy to clear the air on stuff
> himself, but this crosses the line, at least from my point of view.
> 
> This comes down to giving a person you're corresponding with an
> honest, open channel by which they can apologize, clarify, and make
> things right. By violating that private channel you're making it
> implicitly impossible to have that kind of conversation.

Erik, that was an unsolicited email sent to James *and* Peter. It was addressed 
to
James, but yet Jimmy sent it to Peter, and in it he alleged that “one 
possibility” 
is that James is a liar. The other is that he is too emotionally involved and 
it 
coloured his thinking. Why did Jimmy feel the need to send such a potentially
damaging set of accusations to James and cc in Peter? 

Oliver has said it best - that’s emotional gaslighting and it’s highly 
manipulative.
Telling James that he has a low EQ is focusing on James’ emotions and has 
nothing
to do with what James wanted answering. He wants Jimmy to give a clear 
understanding
as to why he was removed. 

James’ concerns about a search engine are still legitimate. There was indeed a 
secret
plan that Jimmy claims he didn’t know about until well after October - WAY after
October. It’s understandable and quite justifiable that in October James was 
very
concerned that there was a plan in the WMF for a competing search engine for 
Google.

So now Jimmy is still maintaining the line, which he has repeated more than a 
number of
times now, in public and evidently in private (yet takes care to cc in Pete) 
that James
is a liar, or has serious emotional or psychological issues. That’s a strange 
tactic,
and I for one am very glad that it’s now in the open. Trying to suggest that 
there is
emotional trauma is a good way to undermine someone’s confidence. And the way 
this was
done was to use the fallacy of the undistributed middle; which is:

James could be a liar
James could have poor memory or low emotional intelligence
James might be emotionally traumatised
James’ statements therefore don’t line up with the facts

In fact, James in my view is none of those things. Frankly, it would be 
laughable to
think that someone who deals with life and death situations in an ER for as 
long as
James has would be as emotionally traumatised as Jimmy suggests. And nothing in
James’ emails or public utterances has been crazy, and everything he’s written 
so far
is level-headed and attempted to deal with facts and events. Possibly James got
some things wrong, but that doesn’t make him any of the alternatives given by 
Jimmy.

Furthermore, Jimmy’s language (“liar”, “low emotional intelligence”, etc.) is 
not 
language I would expect to see in an email attempting to reconcile and hold a 
reasonable discussion. Imagine that James was someone who did have, as Jimmy 
said,
“low emotional intelligence” or who is “emotionally traumatised”. I wonder what 
the
effect on them when they get an email like this from a powerful person who 
helped
remove the individual from a hard-fought for position within a movement that 
person
holds dear and is dedicated to working on?

As for the drama - Jimmy can hardly be complaining about drama. Calling someone 
a
liar, which he has done publicly now a few times, can possibly be excused the 
first
time as an outburst due to a highly stressful situation. When it is said over 
and
over, and inside “private” communications then it needs to be called out as 
publicly
as possible. 

So Erik, Peter did a very difficult thing. In fact, it’s very brave because it 
leaves 
him open to accusations that he was “leaking” private correspondence. If Peter 
reveals 
it, then he knows some will see it poorly. Yet that email was unsolicited. None 
of the
information in that email is private, except for the appalling way that Jimmy 
wrote it.
There’s nothing in that email that Jimmy couldn’t have stated publicly. Except, 
of
course, if he’d written that directly to the mailing list there would have been 
an
uproar because it was out of line and manipulative. 

I am incredibly surprised by this behaviour, and deeply saddened by it. It’s 
not acceptable. 

Chris
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Executive transition planning

2016-03-05 Thread Chris Sherlock




Sent from my iPhone
> On 5 Mar 2016, at 1:14 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.

You might want to rewrite the Board manual then because it current reads, under 
the section The Role of the Board, Effective Board Oversight:

> In it's decision making capacity, the Board should:
> 
> * Select, evaluate and (if necessary) remove the Executive Director; 

Whilst I'm sure that C-level managers are up to the task, that's rather 
abrogating the responsibility of the Board. 

I'm wondering how long till other responsibilities of the Board will be moved 
to C level managers.

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

2016-03-03 Thread Chris Sherlock

On 3 Mar 2016, at 11:36 PM, Chris Keating  wrote:

>> Sent from my iPhone
>> On 3 Mar 2016, at 11:22 PM, Chris Keating 
>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> Out of interest, Chris, have you ever served on a nonprofit board?
>> 
>> Nope.
> If you ever do, I think you will end up with a very different perspective
> on the commitment of time and emotional energy WMF board members make, and
> what it's reasonable to expect of them.
> 
> Chris

Not really. My mother was involved in a non-profit. She also looked after two 
children, worked full time and did a lot of housework (I fell kind of bad I 
didn't help enough, but I was young and my dad worked sone odd hours).

She managed to get the meeting minutes distributed in about a week. She treated 
it very seriously and yes, sometimes they were late by a week. 

Interestingly, I checked out GLAM's minutes. They are published very quickly 
and are quite detailed. The Discovery Team's minutes are very detailed and were 
published very rapidly.

The WMF's minutes were published on the Wiki on the 14th January, but it was 
held on the 7-8 November. And they don't mention the board action to remove 
James, so they don't appear to be complete. And some points don't appear to be 
particularly detailed.

Do you serve on any non-profit boards Chris?

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

2016-03-03 Thread Chris Sherlock


Sent from my iPhone
On 3 Mar 2016, at 11:22 PM, Chris Keating  wrote:
> 
> Out of interest, Chris, have you ever served on a nonprofit board?

Nope.

Chris

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

2016-03-03 Thread Chris Sherlock
On 3 Mar 2016, at 10:56 PM, Brion Vibber  wrote:
> 
> Why would minutes be written after the fact instead of during the meeting
> by the designated note taker(s)?
> 
> -- brion

And why is the entire board writing up the minutes?

In fact, the job of a scribe is to be able to take down accurate notes during 
the meeting. Normally, they write up the meeting minutes and send them to 
everyone, which is part of the process in the Board's manual. If someone 
disputed the accuracy they say so and it gets resolved.

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.

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

2016-03-03 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 3 Mar 2016, at 6:22 PM, 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]

[snipping material]

> As for minutes, again, it seems to me a matter of first clarifying,
> possibly in the Board manual, what level of detail is appropriate. It
> seems to me that the Board is adhering to a relatively risk-averse,
> conservative approach right now, whereas WMF staff (which make many
> risky and potentially sensitive decisions on a day-to-day basis)
> capture significantly more individual-level detail in quarterly review
> minutes without apparent ill effect. I understand the concern about
> "speaking freely", but I personally think this is overstated in many
> cases.

I think the issue, aside from the extreme tardiness of the meeting minutes 
(really, the Board needs 3 weeks to publish the minutes and apparently has been 
late even then?!?) is that the level of details is ridiculous. The meeting 
minutes for the last Board meeting look like they were written on the back of 
an envelope, then typed into the wiki. And it’s missing that there was any 
discussion at all about the removal of one of the Board members, or that they 
asked James to leave the meeting immediately after the vote. 

I think the Board’s Secretary needs to step in to answer this question. Why is 
there missing actions in the minutes? Why aren’t the minutes complete? The 
Secretary is responsible for minutes, so let’s hear from him why the minutes 
aren’t up to date. 

Would someone please ask Geoff Brigham to come onto the list to explain this 
please? And also explain why it takes so long to prepare these minutes and have 
them signed off?

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

2016-03-02 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 3 Mar 2016, at 5:31 PM, Pine W  wrote:
> 
> Circling back to a subject that I've mentioned before, I favor having
> meetings of the WMF Board be open and recorded by default, with limited
> exceptions for discussions of legally privileged information and other
> subjects for which there is a strong reason that deliberations should
> remain private. Note that "wiki-political sensitivity" is not one of those
> reasons.
> 
> I hope that recent events illustrate that it may be better to be
> transparent from the beginning than try to suppress information that
> eventually leaks out or emerges after a lengthy series of questions.
> 
> The WMF Board minutes tend to be brief, and the Board's deliberations are
> rarely public. This is disappointing for an organization in the open source
> movement. WMF should be an exemplar of transparent and open governance.
> 
> To illustrate the kind of detail that can be omitted from Board minutes and
> the temptation to omit information for questionable reasons, I suggest this
> clip from the British satire "Yes, Minister", in which two civil servants
> discuss the Prime Minister's wish to suppress the publication of a chapter
> of a book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNKjShmHw7s
> 
> I hope that, as the WMF Board moves forward, it transforms into a model of
> transparency and openness; less "Yes, Minister" and paralysis and
> resistance to the community, and more transparency and vigor in public
> service. Having WMF Board meetings be open and recorded by default would be
> a wonderful step in aligning the Board with the value of transparency.
> 
> Pine

I cannot be more supportive of this proposal.

Let’s have the Board meetings be recorded. If they cannot be recorded, then I’d 
like the WMF to improve their meeting minutes. 

I was thinking that minutes need to be recorded by an appointed scribe. It 
should show what time the meeting started, and what time it officially 
finished. I’d like to see times when issues were discussed, and a scribe could 
do this quite effectively. It would also show us if something was discussed 
that *wasn’t* noted in the minutes. 

I would also like Board members to document actions they have taken on behalf 
of the WMF outside of meetings. Besides being a statutory requirement, it’s a 
good idea and helps with transparency. 

Of course, the best solution would be Pine’s proposal of recording meetings and 
releasing these to the general public. 

Chris


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Using this list to tear people down

2016-03-02 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 3 Mar 2016, at 3:35 PM, Keegan Peterzell  wrote:
>> 
>> ​Write words with measured logic and sound emotions.
>> 
>> 
> ​"Strike that, reverse it." ~ Willy Wonka[0]
> 
> Sound logic and measured emotions.
> 
> 0. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWJo2EZW8yU​

Thank goodness. I was trying to work out for ages what wasn’t quite right about 
that!

Agreed +1 from me also. 

Chris
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Using this list to tear people down

2016-03-02 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 3 Mar 2016, at 10:49 AM, Keegan Peterzell  wrote:
> 
> There's a quote popularly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt:
> 
> "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds
> discuss people."[0]
> 
> Now, I'm not calling any particular people small minded, nor am I
> suggesting we stop talking about issues. What I am suggesting is that we
> talk about issues, and not people. The axe grinding and personal
> denigrations are being pushed further and further to the limits during this
> turmoil, and I humbly ask that it stop, and that moderation is used if
> needed to do so. I'll have no sympathy for those who wish to continue to go
> after fellow human beings for political gain.
> 
> 0. http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/11/18/great-minds/
> 
> -- 
> ~Keegan

I agree with this, though I wonder about what to do when people cause events 
that damage the central ideas and tenants of an organization.

Just a thought. 

Chris


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-03-01 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 2 Mar 2016, at 5:24 AM, Kevin Smith  wrote:
> 
>> You can tell me the scope was intended to be only for Wikimedia projects,
>> but that isn't what is said in that grant application. That document as it
>> stands literally states that it is to be an Internet search engine. No, I
>> correct myself. It says it is to be THE Internet's search engine.
>> 
> 
> Clearly there are still aspirations to include non-Wikimedia projects in
> the search results. I can't speak for the board, or c-levels. But I can say
> that in my work with the Discovery team, we have not been asked to, and
> have not had even rough plans to, search non-free information sources.

It’s not even the wrong thing to do :-) Thank you for clarifying this though. 
> 
>> So when you say than there is confusion between the internal presentation
>> and the official external grant application, I must respectfully disagree
>> with you. There is no such confusion. The two parts of the application I
>> have quoted cover almost a third of the grant application and I'd argue are
>> the key parts of the application.
>> 
> 
> I would argue that the deliverables are THE key part of the application,
> but I freely admit that you are correct that the other parts matter. And
> are somewhat disturbing.

That’s a fair perspective for those actually doing the important work of making 
sure the grant is fulfilled. The deliverables are extremely important, but from 
my POV, the deliverables for the “discovery” phase inform the rest of the 
project, which is where the rubber hits the road. The deliverables ask to set 
the core and usage and performance metrics, which must be determined from the 
overall overall grant objective. User research and testing, similarly, can’t 
just be executed but the study and testing has to be designed and scoped, which 
again has to come from the overall grant objective, which is what I highlighted 
earlier. 

> 
> There has been some handwaving going on from a variety of different parties
>> that "oh, it's just a Grant application, these things are very high level
>> and vague, it doesn't really matter what we write in it lets just put the
>> broadest possible objectives and vision for this thing and we'll deal the
>> scope later on after we've been given the grant money".
>> 
>> Others may not think this is not a concern. I do though, and I'm very
>> concerned that we are making grant applications and not really disclosing
>> our full intentions, and we are not making it clear what are the
>> corresponding scope limitations. Before someone objects, it's even worse
>> when I have asked about the first challenge that could threaten the project
>> and the response [3] is, in part:
>> 
> 
> Most of us on the Discovery team share your concerns about how this grant
> was conceived, pitched, received, and (not) publicized. Most of the team
> didn't see the grant until you did.

I feel need to tell those on the Discovery team who may think that my questions 
seem to be denigrating those on the team - I’m sorry if in any way I’ve written 
something that could give you a perception that I don’t believe in the worth of 
what you are doing. I want to put my hand up and take responsibility for it, 
because it’s absolutely not the case. My issues are literally with the Board of 
Trustees and the way they went about getting that grant, and set (or rather, 
didn’t set) effective and clearly-communicated strategy. 

Shortly after I sent that last email, I reread the Discovery FAQ again to see 
if I’d missed anything. And I realised that I had missed that there was a 
portal and a whole bunch of material already prepared by folks in that team. I 
mean, there is a gerrit reviewer hooked into the version control system and 
everything, so it’s all being done in the open, exactly in the way that I’ve 
been rabbiting on about in a number of emails. I can see that Chris Koerner has 
attempted to ensure that all the material has been communicated and centralised 
on the team’s Wiki, the team’s goals are tracking very nicely [1] Oliver did a 
study which I was going to go back to read but for the life of me I can’t find 
it… the portal is up and running [2] and I can see that the team have been 
continuing to hold their meetings and publish their minutes in a very open and 
accessible manner. 

So I’d like to not only apologise if I’ve offended or upset anyone in the 
Discovery team. That was never my intent. Actually, now that I’ve found how to 
view the work you are doing, I’m actually very impressed!

My only feedback is that information is *really* scattered. I’m finding it hard 
to follow what is going on, not that this should be a concern as I’m not doing 
the work. It might be nice to have a slightly reorganized page for this project 
so we can see what is being done. I’d love to see blog posts from the team 
showing off their work. It really helps to get to grips with what is going on. 

Anyway, it’s heartening to see 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] A quick note about the future

2016-03-01 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 2 Mar 2016, at 5:55 AM, Kevin Gorman  wrote:
> 
> Chris: I parse the reference to paragraph (i) in (a.1) as meaning that a
> director removed without cause may in fact stand for the next election
> cycle.  As far as I can tell, James was removed without cause.  Every
> reason put forth by the BoT for his removal has been torn apart, some by
> WMF employees.  E.g., one early frequently cited reason was that he was
> having inappropriate discussions with WMF employees - multiple WMF
> employees came forward to say that he promised nothing untoward in these
> conversations, and simply listened to their feedback.  In an ideal
> situation, Board tells the ED when they have conversations with most
> employees, but that's only best practice in situations where Board alerting
> the ED to the conversations doesn't undermine the purpose of the
> conversations, which they would have hear.

Agreed with your larger point about removal for/without cause. All I can say is 
that the bit I quoted doesn’t state for or without cause, it doesn’t seem to 
distinguish between the two modes of removal. 

> More importantly, as the board has made abundantly clear in recent weeks,
> we don't have 'board elections,' we have 'community board selections' - the
> board is gracious enough to allow the community to suggest board members,
> which the board may then choose to accept or reject.  Given the fact that
> we do *not have* board elections, I don't think there's any doubt that
> James can stand in the next 'community board selection.’

Fair point. I’m definitely not a lawyer. Nobody would be happier to see James 
stand for reelection than myself. :-)

> Jimmy: I've been reassured that the specific email James has requested you
> to release multiple times contains no confidential information, and the
> fact that you aren't releasing it isn't looking good to me.  W/r/t an email
> related to the removal of a community selected and trusted trustee, full
> transparency seems necessary.  You've said the email contains nothing of
> mindshattering significance, and I suspect you are telling the truth there
> - I suspect that at most it contains you making comments to James that
> either weren't quite true or paint yourself in a less than great light.
> But here's the rub: even if there's nothing too important in that email,
> the fact that you're unwilling to release it means that you still don't get
> that transparency in this situation is necessary. Are you willing to
> release the email, redacting anything you view as reasonably necessarily
> confidential w/r/t the BoT?  I'm sure James will comment if your redactions
> are excessive.  Without any confidential information, all the email is is a
> document that shines more light on a situation involving the removal of a
> community 'selected' trustee, something that those involved should be as
> transparent as possible about.

Jimmy, I agree with Kevin. Can you please release these emails? I realise you 
have a lot on your plate, but I think it would be good of you to release these 
emails soon. I trust you when you tell me that you are a champion of 
transparency and openness, and I also know you have had a lot on your plate 
lately so I’m trying not to put too much pressure on you at the moment. 

I think, however, that the sooner you release the emails, the sooner it helps 
the rest of us come to an understanding why the Board made their decisions and 
we can at the very least feel more confident in the integrity of the Board of 
Trustees. This issue has dragged on for over two months now, and none of us are 
still much the wiser, though many of us are beginning to put the pieces 
together in our own heads. Which is dangerous, as we may well be jumping to the 
wrong conclusions because we don’t have enough information. Unfortunately, the 
lack of information is something that only the Board can resolve for us.

There are a number of other questions that still need answering around the 
grant application, so I’d love to see you clarify them soon also.

Chris


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-02-29 Thread Chris Sherlock
On 1 Mar 2016, at 5:00 PM, Erik Moeller <eloque...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 2016-02-29 19:24 GMT-08:00 Chris Sherlock <chris.sherloc...@gmail.com>:
> 
>> With the greatest of respect, I'm not sure how could come to the conclusion 
>> that general
>> Internet search was not a core component of the Knowledge Engine.
> 
> It's important to remember that this is a $250K grant, with a grant
> period that ends later this year. It's clear that this was done
> because everyone involved realized that the plans are likely to
> change.

That’s rather missing the point though. The plan may change, but from the very 
start we have been told the plan is not the one that was proposed to the Knight 
Foundation. 

We have been told, over and over again, that the application is for internal 
search. I have quoted the relevant sections in my previous email that show that 
the Knight Foundation proposal, as written, was not at any stage what was being 
planned for (apparently) within the Board. 

The only other option is that there were indeed plans afoot within the Board of 
Trustees for an external search engine, but these got changed after the grant 
was submitted. In which case, James Heilman is entirely vindicated. 

This raises an interesting point though. Is this grant still active? If this 
grant is still active, who is actively working on it? What is currently being 
done in the Discovery team around this particular grant application? 

I’m very interested to hear who is in charge of getting this grant going if 
that’s the case. Have I entirely missed something (possible) or has there been 
no announcements about who or what is working on the requirements of this 
grant? The grant was issued in September last year, and the grant specifies 
that the initial $250,000 was for activities to be run over a 6 month period, 
after which the Discovery team needs to show some quite measurable results from 
the “discovery” stage. [1] In particular, the team need to establish core usage 
and performance metrics to work out core usage and performance metrics, and 
will need to have show test results of how well content can be found, the 
results of research and user testing, an improved search engine and API for 
Wikipedia searches, a public-facing dashboard of the core metrics used in 
product development, and a sample prototype based on a small dataset. 

So basically, 6 months means that by midway through this month, we will see all 
of these deliverables. Could someone please advise us how this is proceeding?  
I’d imagine that we should at least be able to see the dashboard by now, but 
I’m curious to find out more about the research that’s been conducted and the 
results of the user testing performed. 

> Knight has given grants to WMF in the past, including a $600K
> one with a longer grant period [1], so this isn't a particularly bold
> step for them or for WMF. Within the scope of a grant with these
> parameters, it's completely reasonable for WMF, at the end of the
> grant period, to go back to Knight and say: "We've done everything we
> committed to for the grant period [improve internal search etc.], but
> we won't be doing anything beyond that.”

I’m in complete agreement. The Knight Foundation I’m sure feels the same way. 
Sadly, that is definitely NOT the point I was making. From what I can tell, the 
Knight Foundation was given an application for increasing mobile access to 
those on lower end, less well powered devices. This has been a rousing success, 
and from what I can tell (as I can’t see the grant application anywhere) 
achieved every one of the criteria that were specified by the Knight 
Foundation. 

That’s very different than saying, however, that we will be making an Internet 
search engine, building up a team within the WMF, and then pivoting the 
direction from what was stated radically. 


> That is not to say that this process was managed well -- obviously it
> wasn't. But at least there are no catastrophic long term consequences
> for the organization or for the movement, as far as I can tell. That
> is, unless Larry Page read one of the early news stories and decided
> to send a DESTROY WIKIMEDIA memo to all Alphabet companies, in which
> case I expect Boston Dynamics robots to show up at New Montgomery
> Street any day now. [2]

If I hear about any weaponized Roombas in Wikimedia Australia I’ll be sure to 
advise everyone immediately.

Personally, I think the idea of an open search engine is great. I think it 
should be largely based on Wikimedia projects, but the whole idea has a lot of 
merit. The governance, as I have said a number of times, and debacle about how 
various people have been treated and the loss of trust within the wider 
community due to closed an opaque processes, and abusive comments from the top 
of Wikimedia management, have made what *should* be a positive and las

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-02-29 Thread Chris Sherlock
> On 1 Mar 2016, at 11:12 AM, Kevin Smith  wrote:
> 
> I think some people aren't realizing the difference between the leaked
> presentation (which outlined a general search engine) and the actual grant.
> The former was just an idea, while the latter is official. By my reading,
> the grant clearly is NOT for a general internet search engine, although it
> (unfortunately) did retain a bit of the language from earlier documents.

With the greatest of respect, I'm not sure how could come to the conclusion 
that general Internet search was not a core component of the Knowledge Engine.

I'm just going to quote directly from the Grant application here [1]:

> Knowledge Engine By Wikipedia will democratize the discovery of media, news 
> and information—it will make the Internet's most relevant information more 
> accessible and openly curated, and it will create an open data engine that's 
> completely free of commercial interests. Our new site will be the Internet’s 
> first transparent search engine, and the first one that carries the 
> reputation of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation.

So to reiterate the words that make it hard for the WMF to deny that they were 
pitching for an Internet search engine:

> Our new site will be the Internet's first transparent search engine, and the 
> first one that carries the reputation of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia 
> Foundation.


For context, this is the answer to the grant application question "Opportunity: 
What is the overall challenge being addressed? What is the proposed approach? 
And what evidence is there that this approach will work?"

The grant application also states that one challenge that could disrupt the 
project is:

> Third-party influence or interference. Google, Yahoo or another big 
> commercial search engine could suddenly devote resources to a similar 
> project, which could reduce the success of the project. This is the biggest 
> challenge, and an external one.

It truly strains credibility that an internal search engine merely indexing 
internal sites could be threatened by either Google or Yahoo devoting resources 
equal to or greater than the grant money allocated to this project, just to 
index Wikimedia properties. Similarly, it makes no sense to me how you can 
"democratize the discovery of media, news, and information" to "make the 
Internet's most relevant information more accessible and openly curated" 
without pulling that information from...the Internet! 

And of course, to risk repeating myself, the next line states that "our new 
site will be the Internet's first transparent search engine". 

You can tell me the scope was intended to be only for Wikimedia projects, but 
that isn't what is said in that grant application. That document as it stands 
literally states that it is to be an Internet search engine. No, I correct 
myself. It says it is to be THE Internet's search engine.

So when you say than there is confusion between the internal presentation and 
the official external grant application, I must respectfully disagree with you. 
There is no such confusion. The two parts of the application I have quoted 
cover almost a third of the grant application and I'd argue are the key parts 
of the application.

If fully one third of the grant application seem to be ambiguous or even flat 
wrong - and key parts at that! - then it's not just "unfortunate" that a "bit" 
of the language of the presentation remained in the grant application 
accidentally. That's sheer downright incompetence. Lila signed off on this 
document, and it was reviewed by others. I don't know who vetted and drafted 
this, but the buck stops with Lila, and she has never acknowledged her part in 
the language and scope of this application aside from once stating in a 
Discovery team meeting [2] that:

> How do we explain the story now? The original idea was a broader concept. 
> Never a crawler. We abandoned some ideas during the ideation phase, but we 
> haven’t been clear what/when we abandoned.


I mean, we have here an admission from Lila that it is unclear to the wider 
community and even WMF staff what they have and haven't abandoned! Why have 
they assumed that the Knight Foundation would take anything from that grant 
application that most of us here, the Press, and interested members of the 
general public would not conclude from merely reading the document? 

There has been some handwaving going on from a variety of different parties 
that "oh, it's just a Grant application, these things are very high level and 
vague, it doesn't really matter what we write in it lets just put the broadest 
possible objectives and vision for this thing and we'll deal the scope later on 
after we've been given the grant money".

Others may not think this is not a concern. I do though, and I'm very concerned 
that we are making grant applications and not really disclosing our full 
intentions, and we are not making it clear what are the 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-02-29 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 1 Mar 2016, at 3:09 AM, Nathan <nawr...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Jimmy - the limit is a "soft limit" of 30 posts per month. If someone goes
> well over you might get an e-mail from Austin or another moderator to cut
> back, but otherwise there is no need to ask for an exception.
> 
> Chris Sherlock -  It is certainly not "unambiguous" what qualifies in that
> statute as a corporate record; feel free to google "corporate record" or
> "business record" in search of the many different definitions offered by
> various states and federal agencies. My suggestion is that you let this
> tangent go.

I appreciate your legal advise here. 

I’m not quite sure why you think I’m going to say any more on the matter, I 
thought the fact that I had already said it is rather off-topic might have been 
a clue that I’ve got no intention of making any further comment on this :-)

Chris
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-02-29 Thread Chris Sherlock
On 1 Mar 2016, at 2:00 AM, Jimmy Wales <jimmywa...@wikia-inc.com> wrote:
> 
> On 2/29/16 6:46 AM, Chris Sherlock wrote:
>> Unfortunately though, the WMF very much did have internal documents
>> that were positioning the WMF into building a search engine. In fact,
>> it was a grand idea. But one that was done in secret. James was not
>> wrong, and he wasn’t lying. You may not have been aware of it at the
>> time, but there were indeed confidential documents that showed that
>> someone was developing an internal search engine.
> 
> There are a lot of confusions here and I think you've not been very
> precise, so let me work through this slowly.  Apologies for the tedium
> but I'm sure you'll agree there has been too much that has been too vague.

Not at all, I apologise for any confusion I may have brought to bare here. 

> First, before we start, let's clarify some terminology.  There is "an
> internal search engine" which we have now, have had for many years.[1]
> There was and is a project to improve it - this is part of what the
> Knight grant is all about, and I think it's great.  It's also not
> controversial.  The controversial part is "search engine" in the sense
> of a Google-competitor.  It's important to recognize that using the term
> 'search engine' as a standalone can lead to misconceptions.

Drat. Autocorrect’ed by my iPad. That *should* have read “Internet”, not 
“internal”. 

FWIW, I don’t think anyone is opposed to a better search engine. I’m rather 
impressed you had built one back in the day :-) In fact, I don’t think anyone 
is opposed to a search engine that indexes the wider Internet, taylored to the 
WMF’s purposes. I think even Google would find this a total non-issue. In fact, 
if it was truly open, they could just use it as a source of index data. Google 
knows just how hard it is to develop a search engine, it’s taken them years and 
years and a LOT of expertise, and they have to bypass bad actors and goodness 
only knows what else. 

> Second, I am now aware that a former employee was advocating for the
> idea of building a direct competitor to Google. His presentation about
> this was shared under rather extreme "cloak and dagger" with PGP
> encryption, etc.  This idea did not get traction, and never rose to
> being something presented to the board for approval.  As far as I
> understand it, some of the dramatic language did survive here and there,
> but if you read it independently you'd not really interpret it that way.

Yeah, I’ve read those emails on this mailing list. Its very… odd. 

I was very harsh in a reply to a blogpost by Lila on the 16th [1], and frankly 
I regret the degree of hostility in that comment - I read it now and cringe a 
little. Nevertheless my conclusions stand. If the dramatic language in the 
Knight Foundation document is the language that talks about being a transparent 
Internet search engine by Wikimedia, then that document was very badly put 
together. 

If the grant application that was put to the Knight Foundation had specific 
language that talked about Internet search, then it appears that we may have 
inadvertently misled the Knight Foundation. There’s no real way of putting it 
I’m afraid - that’s just sheer incompetence. 

Is what I’m saying is the truth, then I do hope someone has gotten in contact 
with the Knight Foundation to clarify the application? Surely if they are 
giving us money though, it’s on the proviso that we do what we say we will do? 
Part of what we were telling them was that we want to make an amazing 
transparent Internet search engine, one that does away with the opaque and 
potentially damaging search algorithms of proprietary search engines - and we 
made it worse by stating that Google could be a risk due to interference and 
wasted effort working on the same thing?

Forgive me for harping on about this, but that document *did* give the *very 
strong* impression to almost everyone, including I’d hazard the Knight 
Foundation, that we were applying for a grant into searching the wider 
Internet. Whilst I’m not exactly a fan of the global media, that was their take 
on the matter also - the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was one of the 
first to pick this up, and they are (despite being a state-funded institution) 
quite a reliable and reasonably neutral source of news. 

If you could please advise then why we added dramatic language that gave an 
impression we were building something we aren’t to the Knight Foundation, who 
then funded the first tranche, then I’d appreciate it. 

If you could clarify that if this is an accurate summation of a big problem in 
that grant application, to a big and well respected grant funder, then what has 
the WMF done to reach out to the Knight Foundation to clarify what they were 
actually funding?

> James had gotten, from somewhere, the idea 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] A quick note about the future

2016-02-29 Thread Chris Sherlock
This is actually a fairly easy one to clear up. 

Basically, it’s the law. 

Under Fl. St. § 617.0808, which deals with the removal of directors, it clearly 
states that "Any director who is removed from the board is not eligible to 
stand for reelection until the next annual meeting at which directors are 
elected.” [1]

I am not a lawyer. Just a guy who has read far too much of the Florida Statutes 
around non-profit entities. 

Chris

1. 
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute_String==0600-0699/0617/Sections/0617.0808.html

> On 1 Mar 2016, at 1:47 AM, Jimmy Wales  wrote:
> 
> This touches on matters beyond my scope of expertise.  I didn't write
> that FAQ, and I am not an expert on legal terminology like
> "mismanagement" or "misconduct".  I support that the board and legal
> team review the matter seriously and generously.
> 
> All I'm saying is that if he is eligible, and if he is elected, then I
> support him rejoining the board.  I'm putting forward that although I've
> been disappointed by his behavior (and thanks to Pete's wise words, I'm
> trying to open a private conversation to try to work through some of
> that) I am not in any way a key obstacle to his rejoining.


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-02-29 Thread Chris Sherlock
On 1 Mar 2016, at 12:36 AM, Jimmy Wales  wrote:
> In mid-October, before he emailed the board, James wrote me with a huge
> misconception - that we had a secret project to build a Google competing
> search engine.  Of course we didn't have such a project We had a few
> emails back and forth in which I explained that was not the case.

Jimmy, how does this square with the June 24 document entitled “Knowledge 
Engine by Wikipedia”? [1]

That appears to have been written by Lila. Part of the document reads:

"Our new site will be the Internet’s first transparent search engine, and the 
first one that carries the reputation of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia 
Foundation.” 

I would appreciate it if you could please “declassify” this document (and in 
fact, could you please have them all released) and tell us who authored it, 
once and for all. 

Unfortunately though, the WMF very much did have internal documents that were 
positioning the WMF into building a search engine. In fact, it was a grand 
idea. But one that was done in secret. James was not wrong, and he wasn’t 
lying. You may not have been aware of it at the time, but there were indeed 
confidential documents that showed that someone was developing an internal 
search engine. 

The language used in the document is very clearly *not* Damon Sicore’s, 
incidentally. I assume it was Lila who wrote the document as the entire 
document is written in her signature style. 

> We went back and forth in pleasant emails discussing the situation and
> as a part of that I said: "I am always in favor of more community
> consultation."  I went on to discuss a bit that I didn't think we were
> at the point where a full-scale community consultation (like the one
> that legal did on revising the terms of service) was necessary for a
> mere $250,000 grant.  But I was supportive of consulting the community.

In the interests of transparency, could you please release these emails? They 
sound innocuous enough, it would be nice to be able to verify this and read the 
email discussion you and James had.

>> 2. had offered to write an article for the Signpost about the project to
>> inform the community,
>> 
>> 3. was told by his colleagues on the board that the idea of a Signpost
>> article was not welcome?
> 
> I've tried to find this in my email records and have no record of it.  I
> don't know when this offer was made nor who responded.  If James knows,
> and wants to share the board emails with me directly, that would be
> appreciated.

Under Fl. St. § 617.0808(1) [2] James is not allowed to possess any such email 
records. In fact, James would have needed to return these to the board of 
directors within 72 hours. If he didn't, then a circuit court may summarily 
order him to do so. 

This isn’t an issue though, under that same statute - § 617.0808(5)(d) [2] to 
be precise! - all written communications have to be kept for three years. And 
you have the right to inspect and copy this information under § 617.1602. [3]

At least, I think this is correct - I’m not a lawyer, so it’s not legal advise, 
just me geeking out on Florida non-profit law :-) And it’s also in the 
handbook. [4] The point being is that you can request this information and it 
will be provided :-)

Chris

1. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-10/In_focus
2. 
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute_String==0600-0699/0617/Sections/0617.0808.html
3. 
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute_String==0600-0699/0617/Sections/0617.1602.html
4. 
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_Handbook#Removal_of_Board_members
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-02-28 Thread Chris Sherlock
Chris, I think you are misreading something that I wrote. 

> On 2/28/16 1:03 AM, Chris Sherlock wrote: 
> > The Jimmy sent an email to the mailing list: 
> > 
> >> It was written at a time when there were efforts underway by 
> >> Patricio to get James to agree to a joint statement. It is an 
> >> encouragement to James to be honest with the community about what 
> >> happened. It is not a full explanation of what happened - he 
> >> already knew that. 
> > 
> > And yet, when he was advised by James that in fact that effort was 
> > spearheaded by James and not Patricio, he turns around and states 
> > that he didn’t know as he wasn’t involved. 
> 
> Both of those things are true. I knew they were talking, I didn't know who 
> who initiated it. 

Yes, but you need to be more clear. At the risk of playing semantic games, your 
exact words here are “efforts underway *by Patricio* to *get James to agree* to 
a joint statement. 

You are implying here that the effort was all on Patricio’s side, which has 
nothing to do with who initiated the conversation. I’m sure you didn’t mean 
that, but nonetheless you’ve said it now. 

Given that the Board asked James to leave their meeting, you wouldn’t be able 
to clarify a point that’s been puzzling me for some time?

1. When James was made to leave, then did anyone tell him that there was going 
to be a joint or prepared statement from the WMF? 
2. If so, did anyone ask James not to email the mailing list? And why did you 
feel that was so inappropriate? 
3. Please help me in understanding - do you feel that Chatham House Rules must 
apply in the removal of an executive even to the point they are unable to 
announce their own departure? 

> > Jimmy has just now written 
> > that it was the Wikimedia Foundation that “encouraged [him] to be 
> > honest with the community”. 
> 
> No, I said that I wrote him a personal letter to that effect.

I follow, the mistake here is mine. I apologise for getting that wrong. 

Jimmy, will you respond to some of the other points I made? In particular, what 
you wrote to James was dreadful. Even if you feel that his actions were wrong, 
surely you can see that your inflammatory words are unbecoming of someone of 
your stature within the Wikimedia Foundation? 

There are a lot of other questions that have been asked, but that would be a 
reasonable start. I don’t think you quite grasp how many people were shocked at 
the way you dealt with James when he was removed. 

Chris


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-02-28 Thread Chris Sherlock
On 28 Feb 2016, at 6:51 PM, Erik Moeller  wrote:
> 
> Chris,
> 
> It's good to read you here and on WW. I think you're raising
> legitimate points that others have also sought progress on. I would
> just suggest one thing. Right now the Wikimedia Foundation is going
> through an ED transition, impacting nearly 300 staff members most
> immediately. The Board's primary responsibility at this point is to
> identify interim leadership, set that person up for success, and renew
> the Board's bridge to the staff. Painful as the situation with James
> Heilman is, it is legitimate to address it later, in a professional
> and civil manner.

I hear you, and I would normally agree. However, I’m not entirely sure that it 
is James that is the person you need to be directing your email to. 

Quite frankly, James’ reputation has been damaged by the words used by various 
Board members. Denny has, in my view, made certain allegations that James could 
not be trusted with confidential Wikimedia Foundation business, but there is no 
direct evidence this was ever, or has ever, been the case. 

The Jimmy sent an email to the mailing list:

> It was written at a time when there were efforts underway by Patricio to
> get James to agree to a joint statement.  It is an encouragement to
> James to be honest with the community about what happened.  It is not a
> full explanation of what happened - he already knew that.

And yet, when he was advised by James that in fact that effort was spearheaded 
by James and not Patricio, he turns around and states that he didn’t know as he 
wasn’t involved. Jimmy has just now written that it was the Wikimedia 
Foundation that “encouraged [him] to be honest with the community”. Jimmy is 
saying, yet again, that James is not honest and is a liar. It was not James who 
wrote that he "made a lot of noise about why he was dismissed which is utter 
and complete bullshit”, nor was it James who wrote that "I was unconvinced that 
it would be held in confidence”, with the clear implication that James was 
someone who leaked secrets. 

If civil discourse had have happened, and Board members were open and showed 
that they were able to give clear, factual information as to why he was 
removed, then this would of course not be a problem. It is very unfortunate 
that Jimmy and Denny made these statements, had they not made such inflammatory 
statements then I would of course bow to your request. It *has* been a very 
difficult time, and nobody is happy with this situation. Unfortunately, those 
who should have known better (in particular Jimmy) have as another member has 
described it, "been mauling each other politely in public” [1] this isn’t going 
to go away. 


> I would encourage James, Jimmy, Denny and others similarly to not
> shoot from the hip at this time. I know something about shooting from
> the hip, and it rarely moves things forward positively. ;-) This
> dispute may need a facilitator and a quiet, generous conversation to
> be settled amicably. Given that Dariusz voted to retain James, I trust
> James hasn't done anything so dastardly that this cannot be done.

Dariusz has been nothing short of amazing in this whole situation. I have 
nothing but the greatest of respect for him, he is a true diplomat, and IMO he 
seems to have a very deep understanding of not only the Foundation’s mission, 
but how Wikimedia works in totality. 

Shooting from the hip is definitely not what I’m aiming for though. I actually 
spent a long time working out what I wanted to say before I decided to wade 
into this mess by subscribing to this mailing list and sending that rather long 
open letter to the board. Of course, I know that’s not what you mean also, and 
I know that my timing is less than awesome, but given the things that have been 
written about James by people who should know better, they have now left us all 
in the rather unfortunate situation where these issues must be addressed before 
anything can be resolved at Board level. 

Now I’m not saying that quiet, generous conversation cannot happen. I know 
James well enough to know that throughout all of this there isn’t even a single 
email, communication, Facebook post or Wiki edit that can be said to have been 
unfair, unfeeling, ungenerous, rude or abusive. Not one, and I challenge anyone 
here to point me to such a contribution. James has, and continues to have, a 
great passion for Wikimedia and its central tenants of openness, transparency, 
civility and great work. 

Frankly, I’m amazed at James’ good grace. I have seen on Facebook certain 
people accuse him of not answering his phone when he was high on mountain 
slopes where there are limited opportunities to use the Internet, and VOIP is 
banned or else it uses up everyone’s bandwidth. I have now read the Founder of 
Wikipedia accuse him of being dishonest.

But, how, precisely, are we meant to take this? At the very least, surely those 
attacking James should 

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

2016-02-27 Thread Chris Sherlock

> On 28 Feb 2016, at 2:25 PM, Chris Sherlock <chris.sherloc...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 
>> On 28 Feb 2016, at 1:16 PM, Andreas Kolbe <jayen...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> 
>> On Sat, Feb 27, 2016 at 8:44 PM, Anna Stillwell <astillw...@wikimedia.org>
>> wrote:
>> 
>>> Jimmy,
>>> 
>>> I have a ridiculous amount of respect for you and what you have
>>> accomplished. I have watched from afar (I was living a lot in other
>>> countries) as this radical experiment in trust *exploded* on to the world.
>>> It blew my mind. And some of the early rules that were set were nothing
>>> short of genius (e.g. NPOV, AGF and due weight come to mind). It was an
>>> ideal experiment: an open frontier with simple, limited rule sets. And the
>>> icing on the cake is that "citation needed" ended up not just influencing
>>> how I thought about an encyclopedic text, but how I thought about
>>> discussing ideas.
>>> 
>> 
>> Anna,
>> 
>> Hold on just a moment. :)
>> 
>> It's important to understand that Jimmy Wales didn't accomplish the things
>> you speak of alone.
>> 

Funny you should say this :-) I’m the “inventor” of [citation needed].

You know why I created [citation needed] on Wikipedia? Because the amount of 
ill-informed, badly thought out, ridiculous claims on Wikipedia articles were 
getting out hand. I started removing them to the talk page, but then that same 
person not only refused to explain where they got their information from, but 
would put the "fact" back into the article. This would then perpetuate 
incorrect information.

One day I had an epiphany. I realised that you can't just argue with these 
people, you need to have a reverse citation system - you need to clearly mark 
out information that is dubious, ill-informed, the result of ingrained 
prejudice (often unconsciously so) and almost always inaccurate.

At the same time, there needed to be a way of allowing controversial views and 
sometimes accurate but controversial facts be detailed on the encyclopaedia.
There was only one way I could see to do it - use the same citation system that 
referenced sources but invert it to highlight information that needed a source. 
Hence I created citation needed (originally without the square brackets, 
whoever added them was a genius in their own right).

Guess what? It worked. 11 years later, despite the many issues on Wikipedia, 
finding out the source of assumptions is no longer a problem. People can go to 
the citations and see where the factoid is documented, or whose opinion is 
being expressed. It allows ordinary people to judge the view being expressed 
more accurately, or to look at how the data was extrapolated, to understand how 
the academic study was conducted, or to verify that what is claimed is actually 
what the original claimant was indeed claiming.

But I’d like to make the point: I could *never* have created [citation needed] 
if someone had not created the policy to cite sources, and hundreds and 
hundreds of other editors didn’t have a commitment to sources. So whilst 
[citation needed] was probably one of my best ideas (sometimes I wonder if this 
might not be an indictment to my creativitity!) I have to say that it was only 
possible because of the commitment by my peers on Wikipedia to making the 
project great, and because of those who came before me. 

And I’m happy to know that my good idea has literally influences and improved 
the critical faculties of so many people who use our encyclopedia today!

Chris 
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[Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

2016-02-27 Thread Chris Sherlock
Hello all, 

I have finally decided to subscribe to this mailing list, but I will endeavour 
to keep my monthly post limits down, as requested :-) 

== Who am I? ==

First, some background. My name is Chris Sherlock, and may be better known to 
some of you as Ta bu shi da yu (or Tbsdy lives) on Wikipedia. I was quite 
involved in Wikipedia many years ago, and I was involved in some fundamental 
aspects of Wikipedia during the time I was active - in particular, I initiated 
the Administrator’s Noticeboard and I created the [citation needed] tag. I was 
an administrator three times from memory, and attempted to fairly apply blocks, 
protect pages, mediate in disputes, and attempted to discuss and influence 
policy and guidelines, through consensus. I am a strong believer in the five 
pillars: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, we write from a neutral point of view, 
we offer free content, we should treat each other with respect and civility, 
and we should use common-sense to achieve those ends. 

I am no longer active within Wikipedia. This is largely because I suffer from 
quite bad depression, and in the past it caused me to make mistakes on more 
than one occassion. The last mistake I made was when I objected to a signature 
being wikilinked to a non-existent user account; I rather stupidly created an 
account for this person and then de-redlinked it by creating a user page. I 
immediately revealed who I was on WP:AN and what I’d done, but unsurprisingly 
this was considered an egregious violation of WP:POINT. I was subsequently 
desysopped, and will forever more be seen as having left Wikipedia “under a 
cloud”. I am not complaining about this, this was the correct decision by those 
who made it at the time, and it is I who must alone take responsibility for my 
actions. But I feel that I need to disclose this and give some background as to 
who I am as I’ve not been on Wikipedia for many years. 

== Issues in the WMF ==

The Wikimedia Foundation has been going through a long period of turmoil. I 
have recently been critical of the direction in which it has taken and I feel 
that it is best if I put my concerns into writing. 

The WMF is a force for good in society. It’s why many, many people donate to 
Wikipedia every year. It’s why the Knight Foundation gives us grants. I think 
it’s important to understand why we command such a level of trust. The WMF has 
a very clear position on our guiding principles [1] - we believe in freedom and 
open source, and we want to ensure that all projects are accessible to every 
human being on the planet. To do this requires us to be extremely transparent 
in the way that we conduct ourselves. We also want to be accountable to our 
volunteers, donors and to those who use our resources. 

These are very, very important principles. They are non-negotiable, and without 
them the WMF cannot conduct day-to-day operations, much less have a vision for 
all of humanity to be given equal access to knowledge for the good of all. 

We aren’t doing a very good job right now. 

=== Issue 1: A lack of transparency at the Board level ===

Meetings by the Board of Trustees are held in secret. Whilst there will always 
be matters that must be discussed in confidence, this should in practice be 
very limited. I believe the problems with the openness of the board is 
highlighted quite well by reviewing the minutes of most of the meetings. Let’s 
look at the last meeting from November 7-8 [2]. This was the meeting in which 
James Heilman was removed from the Board. Yet I see absolutely no mention of 
any discussion of his removal whatsoever. To find anything, you need to look at 
the resolutions [3].

One of the issues that has been highly contentious has been the Knowledge 
Engine. This was a pivotal part of the vision and direction for the Wikimedia 
Foundation, and of course it was highly controversial. Yet I see *no* mention 
of it anywhere in any meeting minutes. This was a strategy driven by Lila and 
the Board, yet where is it mentioned? Was it discussed outside of these 
meetings?

If so, then there is a problem with the meeting minutes. Under Florida Statute 
title XXXVI, chapter 617 deals with non-profit corporations. 617.1601 handles 
Corporate records. It specifically states that:

> "A corporation shall keep as records minutes of all meetings of its members 
> and board of directors, a record of all actions taken by the members or board 
> of directors without a meeting, and a record of all actions taken by a 
> committee of the board of directors in place of the board of directors on 
> behalf of the corporation.” [4]


Note that a record should be taken of all actions taken by members or board of 
directors *without a meeting*. This means that if some action is taken, even if 
it’s not in the BoT meeting, it must be recorded. There clearly were actions 
taken around the Knowledge Engine, yet it is not documented! Aside from 
violating the statute, it’s