Re: [Wikimedia-l] Let's set up a Tor onion service for Wikipedia

2017-06-14 Thread Kevin Smith
On Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 7:12 PM, Risker  wrote:

> I have yet to see any indication in numerous discussions about Tor that I
> have read and/or participated in that our technical geniuses (and I say
> that with warmth and honesty) really give a lot of thought to the legal and
> social implications of providing active support to the dark web.


​My entire experience with Tor has been through human rights activists who
fear for their lives.

It is unclear to me how allowing people, who have legitimate security
concerns, to read and contribute to open knowledge, is "actively supporting
the dark web". ​At least on TV, the "dark web" is a very loaded term.

The proposal (as I understand it) would not allow any Tor user to do
anything other than access our projects. That's different from setting up a
general Tor entry or exit node, which would facilitate other uses.

​Kevin​
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Invitation to review: Design Statement of Purpose

2016-11-21 Thread Kevin Smith
I have only been peripherally involved with the process leading to this
draft statement. My perception is that this statement is merely the first
step, to lay a foundation for shared understanding. Once that has happened,
then more interesting details will come. If this baby step is
non-controversial, great. Any concrete actions and details will follow as
separate documents (or other channels).

As for why this is necessary, consider the wording from the statement that
they aim to make sharing knowledge "easy and joyful for everyone". That
probably hasn't been expressed before, or discussed. While some might
disagree that it's the right thing to do, it seems healthy to be
transparent that it is the intent of design folks at the foundation.

Similarly, I appreciate knowing that the design folks advocate "rigorous
research, and exploring innovative solutions". If nothing else, it might
explain why a study is proposed, or why a new "crazy" off-the-wall idea is
being floated out for feedback.

If you ignore all the prefacing and themes on that page, the actual
statement is fewer than 75 words, in 4 sentences. It seems pretty simple to
me, without a lot of jargon, passive voice, etc. It is high-level,
intentionally.



Kevin Smith
Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation


On Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 4:16 PM, Isarra Yos <zhoris...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Okay, so you want to clarify... something, and build trust. What needs
> clarifying? What has been unclear? For whom, and building trust with whom?
> Are these even the right questions?
>
> A problem here, from what you're saying, seems to be that things with
> Design have been historically overly complicated/confused, and there hasn't
> been good communication with other teams, with the community, even within
> Design itself. Though a step in the right direction, this seems to me like
> a continuation of that pattern, frankly. The more big words you use, the
> more passive voice, the more overarching 'themes' and less direct problem
> statements, the more you distance yourselves from what you're doing and who
> you're working with, and I would if anything strongly recommend the
> opposite. Keep it simple.
>
> Your general purpose should be to make things... better. But what that
> means depends on what your problems are, so your problems are what you need
> to do work to sort out. That way you can address the problems, and move
> forward.
>
> So what are the problems? How will you address them? And in order to
> define these problems, for that matter, what's your scope?
>
> -I
>
>
> On 10/11/16 20:36, Arthur Richards wrote:
>
>> Hi Isarra, thanks for the excellent questions. Here's my attempt to answer
>> them:
>>
>> The purpose of the statement of purpose is to gain clarity and build trust
>> within the design group and with their principle stakeholders. With the
>> statement itself, we seek to gain clarity and shared understanding about
>> what design at the WMF is here for and trying to achieve (at a big-picture
>> level). Through the process of defining the statement of purpose, we hope
>> to build trust amongst the design group and with their principle
>> stakeholders. So, the primary audience for this document is the design
>> group itself, with the stakeholders of design being a secondary audience.
>>
>> Moving forward, that is once the statement of purpose is done, design can
>> take a close look at where it is now relative to where it wants to be as
>> defined by the statement of purpose. Design can then use that difference
>> to
>> help make decisions about how we get from here to there (for instance to
>> help in making decisions about staffing, structure, involvement in product
>> teams, how to approach design problems, and so on).
>>
>> Long story short, the statement of purpose is intended to be an organizing
>> tool - to create clarity through everyone understanding the purpose, and
>> trust by going through a collaborative process of definition amongst
>> design
>> and their stakeholders - so that they can execute better and with
>> decreased
>> friction.
>>
>> A little more background and history:
>> As the Foundation has evolved over the years, there have been many
>> challenges and pain points around figuring out how design should function
>> and how it should be integrated into the various facets of the
>> organization
>> (from product development to communications). Through all of the attempts
>> to address those challenges and pain points over the years, it's become
>> clear that the role and purpose of design is not well understood - at
>> least
>> not in a shared and consistent way, which makes it nearly imp

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Please take part in the Flow satisfaction survey

2016-09-12 Thread Kevin Smith
For those filling out the survey, read the answer prompts carefully! I only
barely noticed that one section had "useful" on the right, while the next
section had "agree" on the left. My brain was expecting both to be on one
side or the other, so I had answered part of the second section incorrectly
before realizing that I was actually giving answers that were the opposite
of my intent.


Kevin Smith
Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation


On Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 8:17 AM, Benoît Evellin (Trizek) <
bevel...@wikimedia.org> wrote:

> On Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 8:32 PM, Pete Forsyth <petefors...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > On Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 11:19 AM, James Forrester <
> jforres...@wikimedia.org
> > >
> > wrote:
> >
> > > All,
> > >
> > > *TL;DR*: Communities using Flow are invited to fill out a survey about
> > what
> > > they want to see from Flow,
> >
> >
> > From this web page: https://www.mediawiki.org/
> wiki/Flow#Development_status
> >
> > "Starting in October 2015, Flow is not in active development."
> >
> > There have been many questions asked in various venues over the last year
> > about whether Flow is alive or dead, and what its future looks like.
> James,
> > perhaps you could take a moment to address that fundamental question?
> >
>
> Thanks for pointing out that the page might be confusing, I've updated it
> quoting James' email:
> https://www.mediawiki.org/w/index.php?title=Flow=prev=2232662
>
> Benoît
>
> >
> > It's quite odd to have a survey published about something that's been
> > declared defunct (albeit unconvincingly).
>
>
> > -Pete
> > [[User:Peteforsyth]]
> > ___
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> >
>
>
>
> --
> Benoît Evellin (Trizek)
> Community Liaison
> Wikimedia Foundation
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why are articles being deleted?

2016-06-27 Thread Kevin Smith
I'm an infrequent editor. Naively, I don't understand:

1. Why the author's attempt at a discussion/clarification was ignored
2. Given point #1, why this was deleted *so* quickly, when it was merely
"insignificant", and not actively harmful (e.g. copyright violation)
3. Given point #1, why the article was deleted, instead of being moved into
some draft space

If any of those three had been handled differently, at a minimum, this
potential new editor would have felt more welcomed. In most cases, this
article would have disappeared. It was only because Mitar spoke up that the
article was resurrected and turned into what is, which is apparently an
article of positive value for wikipedia.

It's not clear to me how much of what happened was in line with existing
policies. Perhaps some of what happened leaned toward the harsh end of
normal. It's not clear to me how easy it would be to shift the policies, or
implementations, slightly in the direction of being more welcoming.

I think the process "worked" as far as keeping a dodgy article out, and
making efficient use of admin time. I don't think the process "worked" as
far as growing the editor community, nor in terms of helping appropriate
content get added.

Maybe things are as they need to be, for admin efficiency. But I think it's
worth considering whether that is the case. Could we do something to
improve the situation?

Thinking outside the box, perhaps by default new articles should be created
in a private sandbox, so inexperienced editors won't run into this trap. A
user setting could allow experienced editors to create articles directly in
the main namespace, I suppose that has been discussed before, and there's
probably a good reason why it won't work. Still, it seems like we should be
able to find processes that are win-win-win, for new editors, admins, and
readers.

NOTE: I am not speaking as a foundation employee here. This is strictly
personal opinion.


Kevin Smith



On Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 8:39 AM, Pax Ahimsa Gethen <
list-wikime...@funcrunch.org> wrote:

> Without weighing in on the specific's of Mitar's case, I think this is a
> good suggestion. I created my first Wikipedia article in 2009, after I'd
> been registered on the site for a few months but only had a few edits to my
> name. My article was on a living musician/composer, and was, rightfully I
> think, tagged for notability. It wasn't deleted though (I did improve it
> with more sources), and that article is still up today.
>
> Regardless, it would have been good for me to get more experience by
> improving other articles before creating one myself. Even now, seven years
> later, I don't create many new articles, preferring to work on existing
> ones. Whenever I do create a new article, I always work up a solid version,
> with good sources, in my userspace first.
>
> - Pax, aka Funcrunch
>
>
>
> On 6/27/16 12:40 AM, Yaroslav M. Blanter wrote:
>
>> Or may be just to emphasize again David's point. Every new editor
>> starting an article about a living person or an existing organization with
>> a not-so-obvious notability is always suspected of promotional (payed of
>> fan-like) editing. Always. And promotional editing is always a red tape.
>>
>> As a new editor, do not start with articles which can be thought of as
>> promotional. Write about history, localities, natural history, improve
>> existing articles. Establish your name on the project. Become an
>> autopatrolled. Then it is much safer to go to the areas attractive for
>> promotional editors.
>>
>> This is not how it should be, but how it is. This is so far our only
>> response to promotional editing.
>>
>> Cheers
>> Yaroslav
>>
>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia-l Digest, Vol 147, Issue 43

2016-06-20 Thread Kevin Smith
My takeaway from the executive summary of the article is that organizations
should pay more attention to developing leaders within its ranks, so that
when a vacancy does happen at the top, the best candidate to step up into
it would come from inside. If an organization hasn't done that development
work, and doesn't have a strong succession plan, then hiring from inside
might not make sense.

That is all in generic abstract terms. I am not in a position to say
whether any of it should apply to the WMF right now. Hopefully whoever
steps in as the permanent ED will put some effort into succession planning
and leadership development as part of their work.



Kevin Smith
Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation


On Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 8:38 AM, Peter Southwood <
peter.southw...@telkomsa.net> wrote:

> And hiring from outside may be a cause of bad management
> Cheers,
> Peter
>
> -Original Message-
> From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:wikimedia-l-boun...@lists.wikimedia.org] On
> Behalf Of Gerard Meijssen
> Sent: Monday, 20 June 2016 3:25 PM
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia-l Digest, Vol 147, Issue 43
>
> Hoi,
> Who says the WMF is in trouble.. A not so fine patch sure, but in trouble..
> that is too much.
> Thanks,
>   GerardM
>
> On 20 June 2016 at 14:58, Stephen Philbrick <stephen.w.philbr...@gmail.com
> >
> wrote:
>
> > I would urge caution at reading too much into the A.T.Kearney study.
> > It is quite plausible that companies in trouble may decide they need a
> > turn-around specialist, almost certainly an outsider. While some will
> > succeed, companies in trouble are almost certainly going to
> > underperform those that were not in trouble. Thus, hiring a homegrown
> > CEO may be a result of good management, not a cause.
> > Sphilbrick
> >
> > On Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 8:00 AM,
> > <wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Send Wikimedia-l mailing list submissions to
> > > wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> > >
> > > To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
> > > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
> > > or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
> > > wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org
> > >
> > > You can reach the person managing the list at
> > > wikimedia-l-ow...@lists.wikimedia.org
> > >
> > > When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific
> > > than "Re: Contents of Wikimedia-l digest..."
> > >
> > >
> > > Today's Topics:
> > >
> > >1. Re: Community survey to support the WMF ED search starts
> > >   right now (Peter Southwood)
> > >2. somja (Gerard Meijssen)
> > >3. Re: Invitation to “Engaging local Wikipedians” and
> > >   “German Wikipedia” Workshop at Wikimania (Tanweer Morshed)
> > >4. Recognition of Kentucky Wikimedians (Carlos M. Colina)
> > >
> > >
> > > 
> > > --
> > >
> > > Message: 1
> > > Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2016 17:56:30 +0200
> > > From: "Peter Southwood" <peter.southw...@telkomsa.net>
> > > To: "'Wikimedia Mailing List'" <wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org>
> > > Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community survey to support the WMF ED
> > > search  starts right now
> > > Message-ID: <01f701d1ca43$27ab1c80$77015580$@telkomsa.net>
> > > Content-Type: text/plain;   charset="UTF-8"
> > >
> > > The Kearney report rings true for me.
> > > Cheers,
> > > Peter
> > >
> > > -Original Message-
> > > From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:wikimedia-l-boun...@lists.wikimedia.org]
> > > On Behalf Of rupert THURNER
> > > Sent: Saturday, June 18, 2016 11:47 PM
> > > To: Wikimedia Mailing List
> > > Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community survey to support the WMF ED
> > > search starts right now
> > >
> > > hi,
> > >
> > > 2011 A T Kearney published a study saying that hiring a homegrown
> > > CEO let a company outperform other companies. also price waterhouse
> > > coopers Strategy& and RHR international come to similar conclusions:
> > > *
> > >
> > >
> > https://www.atkearney.com/documents/10192/529727/Home-Grown_CEO.pdf/bb
> > ba713e-1a54-421f-81f9-4299faad42aa
> > > * http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news-archive/17975.htm

Re: [Wikimedia-l] REMINDER: Invitation to upcoming office hours with WMF interim Executive Director

2016-05-12 Thread Kevin Smith
On Thu, May 12, 2016 at 7:04 AM, Brill Lyle  wrote:

>
> 2. Session notes were done live in Wiki Markup format on the etherpad which
> resulted in a truly great cooperative effort to list detailed minutes. It
> allowed a super quick publish to Wiki which was ideal.
>

For those who aren't aware, it's now possible to bring etherpad native
formatting (e.g. bold, bullet lists) into a wiki page. You just have to use
etherpad's "Export to HTML" feature, and then paste that result into Visual
Editor.

If the formatting is heavy on headings, wiki format is probably better.
Otherwise, native formatting tends to be easier to deal with during the
meeting itself (e.g. indenting nested bullet lists, WYSIWYG bold, etc.).

It's great that we now have both options. Thanks VE team!

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

2016-03-02 Thread Kevin Smith
On Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 7:02 PM, Chris Sherlock 
wrote:

> 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.
>

We're always trying to improve, so thanks for this feedback. We actually
proposed at least one blog post that didn't fit the criteria for blog
posts, so we're trying to use other channels. We did several presentations
at the metrics meetings, and we try to present at lightning
talks/showcases. And of course there is the Discovery mailing list[1],
which is a great source of information for what we are thinking about, and
what we have accomplished. For completeness, I'll also mention our team
wiki page[2].


> Anyway, it’s heartening to see that the Discovery team is getting on with
> it, even through all this turmoil.
>

Thanks! That's exactly what we have tried to do.


[1] https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/discovery
[2] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery

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

2016-03-01 Thread Kevin Smith
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 7:24 PM, Chris Sherlock 
wrote:

> 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:
>

I guess I was focused on the grant deliverables, and not the "flavor text"
around it. You are correct that the pitch is in the direction of some kind
of internet search engine, although it does not specifically say that it
would include non-free information sources.


> 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.


> 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.

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.

> 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.

I'm hardly the expert here, but the dashboards have been up for a while[1],
and are continually being expanded and improved. The user tests have been
documented[2]. Upcoming tests are documented in phabricator.

[1] http://searchdata.wmflabs.org/
[2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Discovery/Testing

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

2016-02-29 Thread Kevin Smith
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.

Also, I think I disagree with this statement:

> It envisages a volunteer-curated search engine drawing on a whole host of
> sources from within and outside of the Wikimedia universe, with output
> vectors including "Mobile", "API", "Kindle" and "Apps".
>
> This is part of the overall strategy to this day. Consultation would
really
> be appropriate here.

The only "volunteer curation" I see in the actual grant can be covered by
the curation of Wikidata that volunteers are already doing. I don't see
anything in the grant that relies on volunteers signing up for additional
work.

To my knowledge, drawing on non-Wikimedia sources is still in the
"strategy" (or more accurately the roadmap) in two ways: 1) OpenStreetMap
data is already being used in limited ways, and 2) other free information
sources are only being considered in a vague "maybe someday but not this
year" way.

I don't recall hearing of any plans for Kindle support, but we do already
support APIs and mobile apps, and will (presumably) continue to expand
both. If Kindle support were considered at some point (past or future),
that wouldn't seem like a radical step to me.

I say all of this as someone who works closely with the Discovery team. If
I'm mistaken on any of the facts, please let me know.



Kevin Smith
Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation


On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:41 PM, SarahSV <sarahsv.w...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM, Jimmy Wales <jimmywa...@wikia-inc.com>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > James had gotten, from somewhere, the idea that there really was a
> > secret project to build a Google-competing search engine.  We had a
> > discussion where I told him that wasn't right.  We had further
> > discussions at the board level of what it means, and eventually James
> > himself made the motion to approve the Knight grant, and voted in favor
> > of it.
> >
> >
>
> ​Jimmy, this is something I find disturbing.
>
> In October 2015 James opposed accepting the grant application because of
> the lack of clarity and transparency around it. [1] But on 7 November he
> not only formally supported its acceptance, but actually proposed it to the
> Board. [2]
>
> James has written that he did this "following pressure which included
> comments about potentially removing members of the Board." [3] He wrote:
> "Jimmy Wales had made comments about removing other board members during
> the days before the Knight grant vote. I believed that my opposing at that
> point in time would have changed nothing (because there were not enough
> opposing votes to block it), and doing so would have led to my removal."
> [4]
>
> After his removal, you used that he had proposed accepting the grant to
> show that he was being inconsistent. You later called it a "flat out lie"
> that any board member had put pressure on him. [5]
>
> James is an honest and independent-minded person. If he says he acted under
> pressure, he did. That doesn't mean anyone intended him to feel that way,
> of course. But please say whether you said anything about removing board
> members during, or in the days leading up to, that meeting.
>
> If James did feel so much pressure that he acted against his own views, it
> raises the question of whether other trustees have been similarly affected,
> now or in the past. When we elect trustees, we need to know that they're
> going to make their own decisions.
>
> This is one of the many reasons we need all the emails to be released, as
> well as all documentation around the Knowledge Engine and Knight grant.
>
> Sarah
>
> [1]
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus
>
> [2]
>
> https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/2015-11-07#Knight_Foundation_Grant
>
> [3]
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus
>
> [4]
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Doc_James=prev=704867811
>
> [5]
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales=prev=704228495
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Context around the KE

2016-02-24 Thread Kevin Smith
For what it's worth, In early October 2015, the Discovery department was
very clearly told by Wes (who I believe was not yet a c-level) that the
mysterious term "Knowledge Engine" was being deprecated, and that the
Discovery team was not working on any huge product-like initiative. The
team was to remain focused on the work they were already doing: improving
and enhancing search within and across wikimedia projects, Wikidata Query
Service, maps, portal improvements, etc.

It sounds like there were ongoing communication disconnects between
board<->execs and/or execs<->managers. The good news is that regardless of
what was happening at higher levels, the team was never pulled into any
work on moon shots.

For context, I was the agile coach for the search team in April 2015, and
then became the agile coach for the Discovery department when it was
created as part of the re-org shortly after that.



Kevin Smith
Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation


On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 6:04 AM, James Heilman <jmh...@gmail.com> wrote:

> The project formally know as the Knowledge Engine was frequently referred
> to as a "moon shot" in November 2015 by a number of my fellow board
> members. This terminology I believe accurately highlighted the size,
> expense, and risk that this proposal was.
>
> How we have described the KE to our movement has been significantly
> different. All efforts appear to be to minimize what was proposed. And
> efforts to explain it at all have only occurred after greater community
> understanding became inevitable.
>
> I find it disappointing to see the ED and some board members try to deny
> and downplay the plans that previously existed. While the ED has recently
> apologized for the lack of transparency, this was brought to her attention
> many times before, and thus I am not convinced her apology will result in a
> change in her approach.
>
> --
> James Heilman
> MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian
>
> The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
> www.opentextbookofmedicine.com
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

2016-02-21 Thread Kevin Smith
On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 5:41 PM, Brion Vibber  wrote:

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

I assumed that's why she used the word "we". I took it that she was taking
some credit for pushing some of the initiatives, but not that she was
taking credit for all of the results.


> 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.
>

I didn't see any such implication when I read it. If it is/was implied, I
would agree with your disagreement.

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

Agreed.


> 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.
>

The process that led to the 2015 reorg was horrible. And the current
structure is far from perfect. But I think the structure of the tech
departments of the WMF after the re-org is, overall, much more effective
than it was before the re-org. I say that having only experienced the old
structure for a couple months, so my perspective is limited.

The tech parts of the org seem to have more of a sense of accountability
now, with more of a focus on outcomes, and costs, than before. Again, it's
far from perfect, but those seem like healthy improvements, as part of an
organization maturing. I know a lot of techies will disagree (strongly!),
as they prefer more of a "hacker" culture, and they feel we are becoming
too "corporate". I would like to see us settle in at a happy medium,
avoiding either extreme.

I think those are a couple ways in which the tech org *has* benefited from
Lila's tenure. It's very possible that those benefits are overshadowed by
other problems. But I think anyone who sees absolutely zero improvements
either has clouded judgment, or isn't paying attention. I would prefer to
judge each action and decision (by anyone) on its own merits, attempting to
avoid the "halo effect/horns effect"[1].


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

I didn't see any indication that this was being asserted. If it is/was
being asserted, I would agree with your doubts.

Recognizing that change *is* painful and difficult is valuable. I think
people generally tend to underestimate that pain, and I think that has
happened here. It's not clear how much of the pain we are experiencing is
due to "change", and how much is due to other causes. I'm pretty sure
change itself is a non-zero (and underestimated) component, but obviously
it doesn't account for anywhere near 100% either.

For me, this essay as a whole is a welcome (and probably long overdue)
expression of Lila's vision for where she wants to take the WMF, and why.
Perhaps I'm naive, but I am assuming good faith here. Understanding Lila's
tech focus is important, since that has been a point of contention with
many people. Whether that vision is optimal for the org is debatable, of
course.

Kevin


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect
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