Re: [Wikimedia-l] Brand Project: Who are we as a movement?

2020-04-15 Thread MZMcBride
David Gerard wrote:
>https://foundation.wikimedia.org/wiki/Minutes/2018-11-9,10,11#Branding
>
>So this has been dictated from above - the "community consultation" is
>window dressing for a decision that's long been made.
>
>Hence the nonsensical claims of massive community support by fiddling
>the numbers, employing literal wiki spammers to do the consulting,
>etc.

Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is bad. There are dozens of examples
illustrating why this is true, but this forcible rebranding is a
particularly good demonstration of the rot.

The people most directly responsible here are Katherine Maher and Heather
Walls. They're both subscribed to this mailing list, they both understand
that this decision would upset long-time contributors, and they both
simply decided to ignore any complaints in favor of attempting to siphon
more money from donors and force their "vision" on the broader movement.
You don't see either of them defending themselves or their actions here
for a reason. They didn't both forget how e-mail works or how the wikis
work, they've intentionally chosen to plug their ears and march forward.

What's more offensive, in my opinion, than this forcible rebranding effort
is that they've spent and will continue to spend hundreds of thousands of
dollars on it. It would be bad enough to make this unilateral decision and
implement it with the existing bloated staff, but instead they've hired
agencies and consultants and wasted additional hundreds of thousands of
dollars in donor money on this sham exercise.

But don't worry, highly deceptive advertising is back on the projects, in
mid-April, to ensure continued funding of this and other charades.

MZMcBride



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[Wikimedia-l] Multi-page advertising on Wikipedia

2020-04-15 Thread MZMcBride
Hi.

I happened to pull up a wiki article on my phone this morning and I got
hit with multi-page advertising begging for money from Wikimedia
Foundation Inc. It's mid-April, what is going on? This spam is typically
confined to late November and December.

I don't see any relevant campaign listed at
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/CentralNotice/Calendar>.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Donating to Wikipedia

2019-12-19 Thread MZMcBride
Samuel Klein wrote:
>[Some banners are so delightful that they are a welcome improvement to a
>page without; and I've occasionally thought we should run some of those,
>w/ low probability, continuously year-round.]

Which banners are delightful? The ones I've seen this year take up two
pages of scrolling on mobile. This isn't cute or endearing; as you and
others note, it's alarming to many people.

As I imagine I've said previously, I think it's helpful to call this type
of behavior what it is: spam or advertising. Calling it "fundraising" or
speaking of "banners" makes it a lot easier to brush aside how intrusive
and obnoxious this code is and the damaging impact it has.

Fæ  wrote:
>Isn't it about time that the Wikimedia Foundation came to terms that
> /plenty/ of money is made through sensible fundraising, without every
>year embarrassing the whole Wikimedia Community by promoting the
> impression that Wikipedia is about to close down if the public don't
> give them enough money to keep their servers powered up over
> Christmas? Making 10% more money every year is growth for the sake of
> it unless we can understand in an accountable and transparent way
> where that extra 10% is needed; preferably right there in the
> fundraising banner so folks don't get the impression that Wikipedia is
> about to vanish.

Yes, absolutely. While there's often talk of "Wikimedia values", it's
always been incredible to me to see the exact confines of those values
from Wikimedia Foundation Inc. staff who are charged with bringing in
money. For years, there have been complaints about this spam being
borderline deceitful; in some cases the spam has been outright misleading
or wrong. How does tricking people into thinking that Wikipedia will stop
surviving if they don't give $5 an acceptable practice?

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community feedback and next steps on movement brand proposal

2019-09-12 Thread MZMcBride
Mike Peel wrote:
>I haven't been following this discussion too closely, but my sense is that
>a few people on this mailing list have already decided on an
>outcome and are seeking “oppose" and "feedback" to legitimize and
>validate that predetermined decision.
>
>Mike
>(Seriously - please give more constructive feedback, and engage in
>conversation, everyone's working towards the same goals here.)

I'm genuinely curious what you think a "Director of Brand" does. Other
than leading a rebranding effort, what does that role entail?

We're talking about the same organization that hired search engine
optimization consultants. For Wikipedia, a site with notoriously
incredible search engine results page placement. And even among the sleazy
underbelly of search engine optimization consultants, Wikimedia Foundation
Inc. partnered with a particularly bad group.

We're also talking about the same organization that unilaterally changed
its logo in a dramatic "fade to black".

Operating in good faith only works bidirectionally. When people are
spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and making bad decisions without
community consultation, much less community endorsement, it becomes clear
that at least one party is no longer acting in good faith.

So, no, I don't think everyone is working toward the same goals here.
Should we have a conversation about the neglected sister projects?
Absolutely. This isn't it.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community feedback and next steps on movement brand proposal

2019-09-12 Thread MZMcBride
Andrew Lih wrote:
>Folks, it's not clear this email thread is going to register at all as
>feedback for this process.

Hi.

I haven't been following this discussion too closely, but my sense is that
a few people within Wikimedia Foundation Inc. have already decided on an
outcome and are seeking "support" and "feedback" to legitimize and
validate that predetermined decision.

MZMcBride



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

2019-06-10 Thread MZMcBride
Benjamin Ikuta wrote:
>Thanks for this. 
>
>I'm glad to see I'm not the only one dismayed by the unilateralism and
>lack of transparency.

My thanks as well.

SarahSV on the English Wikipedia writes:

> [...] something serious enough to warrant WMF action should not attract
>a one-year block on this site only. Anything not serious enough for a
>permanent global block by the WMF should be handled by the community or
>ArbCom. We therefore need a fuller statement, signed by an individual, as
>soon as possible. [...]

Well said and agreed.

MZMcBride



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

2018-12-29 Thread MZMcBride
Yaroslav Blanter wrote in part:
>This is a paradigm shift. Currently, the editors generally consider that
>it is good to have long Wikipedia articles - because long means more
>complete. Sometimes there are even proposals (fortunately isolated and
>without followup) to delete all short articles even if they describe
>notable topics and contain verified information. Clips are almost not in
>use.  Of course they still need to be made, but this is not such a big
>problem - there are plenty of school students who have their own youtube
>channel, if they can make clips, everybody can.
>
>[...]
>
>I envision it differently. Ideally, we have the Wikipedia as it is now,
>but on top of this, every article has a collection of shorter companion
>articles, simple and a paragraph or two long, so that each of them can be
>read in half a minute, They should not have excessive markup, references,
>categories or anything else which can be found in the main article if
>needed. References in Wikipedia are required not for the sake of having
>references, but as a means to ensure that the information is verifiable -
>and if the main article does it the companion articles do not need to.
>Some of these companion articles can be in fact clips - there is a
>difficulty that clips can not be edited collaboratively, but I am sure
>this one can be solved. If anybody wants to solve it.

Regarding your subject line, I think
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines> very
clearly applies. :-)  No, the death of Wikipedia is not imminent.

I agree with a few of your points. For example, I agree that it should be
easier to edit from a mobile device or tablet. (Though the simple
counter-argument has often been that doing research sometimes does require
a physically larger working space and that's not really a fact to be
ashamed of.) I also agree that we need more and better multimedia within
wiki projects. In particular, we need better videos, better animations,
and better images.

That said, I'm not sure I understand what your concern is with long
articles or lots of text. As your post here and my reply hopefully
demonstrates, it's possible to have a long text and only interact with a
piece of it. In terms of user interface, it is trivial to hide or collapse
text if we want to. The default mobile view on Wikipedia collapses most
sections of an article and only the introductory paragraphs are expanded.
If readers find the default desktop view too overwhelming, we could hide
or not even load every paragraph on the initial view.

I think we want to be in a position where we have too much information and
can hide some of it or filter out the "noise" as needed, instead of being
in the opposite position of not having enough content and not being able
to adequately serve our readers' needs.

Or put more directly, if we have 50,000 words about the early life of
Britney Spears, someone who's interested in researching where she was born
does not need to read 50,000 words, they hopefully only need to read a few
words in an infobox or in the relevant paragraph in a section of an
article. Using Wikipedia and Wikidata as sources, we can also expand
interactions such as query/answer services that would allow a user to
simply ask "Where was Britney Spears born?" and get a direct, sourced
answer. The content is still the centerpiece, while we create and adapt
how the content is accessed.

A large part of what has made Wikipedia successful has been its open
license. Readers and editors enjoy and can embrace free content. If a
successor project comes along and can use the same free content in a
better way, we should welcome that. That isn't the death of Wikipedia,
that's a continuation and evolution of it, in my opinion.

And we should be open to a better future. The current model of having a
very top-heavy Wikimedia Foundation Inc. headquartered in San Francisco is
bad. While we never want to conflate change with improvement, there's
plenty of room for the latter.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Mobile fundraising ads

2018-12-10 Thread MZMcBride
James Salsman wrote:
>For those of you who have not seen the mobile fundraising banner this
>year, and thus are uncertain of what all the fuss is about, here is an
>example:
>
>https://i.imgur.com/wL4Y5dl.png

Hi.

This type of advertising is noxious and unacceptable. It should be revised
or taken down as soon as possible.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia Foundation Inc. working with Go Fish Digital, a company that whitewashes Wikipedia

2018-08-08 Thread MZMcBride
Gregory Varnum wrote:
>The Wikimedia Foundation entered into a short-term contract with Go Fish
>Digital to conduct a search engine optimization (SEO) audit on Wikipedia.
>They were contracted to provide information needed by the Audiences
>department to improve how our sites communicate with search engines and
>services which provide data to devices like artificial intelligence (AI)
>assistants. Overall, SEO performance is a strength of our projects, but
>we were able to identify areas for improvement, and the audit was helpful
>for Audiences to more effectively focus their efforts. During discussions
>about Wikimedia values and activities that were held in selecting the
>vendor, they did not disclose anything which raised suspicion, and we
>failed to identify this specific concern and question them about it more.

This is particularly bizarre since Google has, for years, special-cased
its handling of Wikimedia wikis. As far as I know, the standard Googlebot
crawler is not used for Wikimedia wikis, so it's very strange that a
standard "search engine optimization" company would be hired. Go Fish
Digital's online reputation management work is very prominently featured
on its Web site (gofishdigital.com), so I'm curious how the most basic
check by someone in the Audiences or Legal departments missed this.

>The Foundation's Legal department received the proposal after it had been
>approved by Audiences and drafted a contract for this agreement following
>standard procedures. This included a privacy review, which resulted in
>the inclusion of extra privacy and security protections in the contract.
>Their activities did not involve reputation management services, and they
>did not request or receive access to any Wikimedia user data. The
>contract concluded last month.

Will anyone from the Audiences or Legal departments be commenting on this
incident? Will anyone be outlining what steps will be taken to prevent a
repeat of this incident?

It appears that Go Fish Digital has whitewashed its own site, removing
"Wikipedia" from its list of "primary platforms that define your online
reputation" at <https://gofishdigital.com/online-reputation-management/>.

MZMcBride



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

2018-08-02 Thread MZMcBride
MZMcBride wrote:
>Gregory Varnum wrote:
>>After many months of work by over 100 individuals around the organization
>>and movement, the Wikimedia Foundation's new website soft launched this
>>week!
>>
>>You can check it out for yourself here (you may need to clear your
>>browser's cache):  https://wikimediafoundation.org/
>
>The English home page inexplicably has German text at the top. I'm
>super-confused how nobody has noticed or fixed this yet, given how
>prominent it is on the page. It's also now been there long enough that
>Google search results are including it. Woof.

Ah, I see now. This is just some cruel waste of staff and volunteer time:
<https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T200742>. You ask for people to
point out issues, even providing a link to Phabricator Maniphest, and then
gaslight them by closing the tasks and telling them that the very obvious
bug is intentional.

MZMcBride



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

2018-08-02 Thread MZMcBride
Gregory Varnum wrote:
>After many months of work by over 100 individuals around the organization
>and movement, the Wikimedia Foundation's new website soft launched this
>week!
>
>You can check it out for yourself here (you may need to clear your
>browser's cache):  https://wikimediafoundation.org/

The English home page inexplicably has German text at the top. I'm
super-confused how nobody has noticed or fixed this yet, given how
prominent it is on the page. It's also now been there long enough that
Google search results are including it. Woof.

It's very sad that the Wikimedia Foundation Inc. communications department
unilaterally decided to move away from MediaWiki to WordPress. And in the
process, your team made the site a lot less accessible to edits and
changes. Many people, including employees of Wikimedia Foundation Inc. and
volunteers, repeatedly raised objections to this decision to move to
WordPress and they were ignored. I think this type of behavior by the
communications department is really inappropriate, unbecoming, and
inconsistent with Wikimedia's values.

I also agree with Yair Rand that the focus on "Advocacy" is misplaced.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia Foundation Inc. working with Go Fish Digital, a company that whitewashes Wikipedia

2018-07-22 Thread MZMcBride
Mario Gómez wrote:
>There, is at least, one user that works for Go Fish Digital with a
>sockpuppet account in English Wikipedia and has denied conflict of
>interest or paid editing disclosure even if he was asked too, since some
>user was suspicious. Should I send this privately? I don't want to incur
>in spurious ousting/doxxing.

Just to be clear on my end, I don't have any firsthand knowledge of Go
Fish Digital's Wikipedia editing, I'm only aware of what the company
advertises as a service or product to customers on its Web site, which
appears to be directly incompatible with Wikimedia's values.

It appears someone at Go Fish Digital or related to them is ch[ao]mping at
the bit to be able to advertise its relationship with Wikipedia, according
to <https://members.nctech.org/list/member/go-fish-digital-7132>:

> [...]
> Our clients range from large corporations like GEICO, the New York Times
>and Marriott to startups you haven't heard of (yet). ((Hopefully you'll
>be able to add Wikipedia here shortly)).
> [...]

MZMcBride
> 



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[Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia Foundation Inc. working with Go Fish Digital, a company that whitewashes Wikipedia

2018-07-21 Thread MZMcBride
Hi.

Go Fish Digital is a company that whitewashes Wikipedia. From its own site:

>The primary platforms that define your online reputation include:
> [...]
> * Wikipedia
> [...]
>
> With Online Reputation Management, we work hard to make all of the
>positive information easy to find.  At the same time, we use many
>different strategies and tactics to diminish the visibility of negative
>content, or in some cases, remove it from the web altogether.  The end
>result is a positive online reputation because when people search your
>name or brand, they immediately find positive content.

Source: https://gofishdigital.com/online-reputation-management

Wikimedia Foundation Inc. has been working with this company on search
engine optimization: <https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T198970>. I have a
few questions about this work.

How was this vendor chosen? Which other vendors were considered?

Why is this work being undertaken? At least the English Wikipedia has some
of the best search engine results placement of any site on the Web, so I'm
curious to know who's prioritizing Wikipedia's search engine optimization
and for what reason.

How is it appropriate for Wikimedia Foundation Inc. to work with a company
that is, by its own admission, whitewashing Wikipedia? Doesn't this give
Go Fish Digital a ton of legitimization by now being able to say it works
directly with Wikimedia Foundation Inc. ("with Wikipedia")?

Is it appropriate to give a company that sells whitewashing Wikipedia
services access to private user data, as was done in
<https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T192893> and
<https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T193052>? The Wikimedia Foundation Inc.
legal department apparently approved this access, but I'm curious to know
why, given the company's role in selling an "Online Reputation Management"
product. This looks bad to me.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Identified users

2017-09-19 Thread MZMcBride
John Erling Blad wrote:
>In some cases it would be a lot easier and/or better if it was possible to
>identify and not just authenticate an user. This could include such things
>as turning on real name for identified users, or limiting elevated rights
>to them, thereby avoiding renomination of banned users.

Are you familiar with Twitter and Facebook's use of blue checkboxes for
"verified" accounts? Are you discussing something similar to that?

>In a lot of countries it is now possible to get access to systems with
>highly trustworthy identification. This is at least possible in several
>European countries, and I bet it will be quite common in the coming years.

Sure. A relatively easy option for "identifying" users, which has been
discussed previously, is requiring the use of a credit card or a phone
number in order to edit. These types of proposals have not been popular.

There's also <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Identification_noticeboard>,
which has a somewhat interesting implementation and execution history.

For users who are well-known public figures, we have OTRS or Twitter or
Facebook, where people can send an e-mail or make a post to
cross-reference their accounts/identities.

>Some pros;
>- reclaiming user accounts would be somewhat easier
>- real names could be used (no impersonation)
>- user verification of various public departments
>- proofs of identity for copyright claims

I've said this previously elsewhere, but I think the focus should be on:

* supporting case-insensitive user names, so that "Brian" and "BRIAN" are
  the same when logging in;
* supporting display name configuration, so that user "__bradley__" can be
  referred to as such in page histories and elsewhere; and
* supporting self-renames, so that it doesn't require another user to
  change your username, which is just crazy.

I see a lot more to gain from these features than I do from focusing on
identification.

There have also been thoughts around affiliations and groups and better
supporting those within MediaWiki. Currently, people often have a personal
wiki account and an "official" wiki account, but managing the two can be
difficult and tedious. Instead, you could have a way for users to join,
for example, the group "Wikimedia Deutschland" and tag their
contributions as being part of that group, instead of having "User:Herman"
and "User:Herman (WMDE)" wiki accounts. GitHub does this pretty well.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] New style banner - A heads up

2017-08-23 Thread MZMcBride
Brad Jorsch (Anomie) wrote:
>Personally, I really dislike banners that try to pretend to be content.
>This one makes it look like the page is an article titled "To all our
>readers in the U.S." rather than a page with a banner on it.

This type of design is similar to, if not precisely, "native advertising"
and it should be shunned as the unethical and completely unwelcome
practice that it is.

The issue of injecting advertisements into the content area of articles
has come up repeatedly on this mailing list and elsewhere. As has the
issue of hostilely overtaking the viewing area of an article with an
obnoxious pop-up banner demanding money, not unlike ransomware. I believe
we're even still setting a cookie to hide advertisements from people who
have recently donated money. It doesn't seem like a very far stretch to
darkly think of this type of behavior as extortive and pay-to-play.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] James Heilman joins the Board Governance Committee as a volunteer and advisory member

2017-06-16 Thread MZMcBride
Nataliia Tymkiv wrote:
>The BGC believes that in case James is approved by the Board as a Board
>member [3] it would also be a good onboarding opportunity for him.
>
>[...]
>
>[3] https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Bylaws#ARTICLE_III_-_MEMBERSHIP

In case? Is there doubt regarding his upcoming appointment?

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_elections/2017/Results

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What's making you happy this week? (Week of 11 June 2017)

2017-06-11 Thread MZMcBride
Pine W wrote:
>What's making you happy this week?

https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T133410 "Deploy TemplateStyles to WMF
production" appears to be nearing resolution. Deploying the TemplateStyles
extension <https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:TemplateStyles> to
Wikimedia wikis should allow us to make wiki markup less cluttered and
should give a lot more flexibility to regular users to handle various
device sizes and constraints using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). A big
thanks to Anomie, Tgr, and others who are helping move this task forward.

MZMcBride



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

2017-06-05 Thread MZMcBride
Cristian Consonni wrote:
>I have read several discussions on the topic (going back to 2006) and
>what I have understood from those is that the biggest issue with editing
>via Tor is sockpuppeting.

This Phabricator comment you found seems pretty useful:
<https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T71333#728636>.

And Faidon posted in November 2014 about the establishment of a Tor relay:
https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikitech-l/2014-November/079392.html

How does your proposal interact (if at all) with the existing Tor relay
set up in late 2014?

It's unclear to me whether "Tor onion service" in this context is
equivalent to a Tor exit node. I'm fairly sure setting up the latter has
been discussed previously on wikimedia-l and/or wikitech-l.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Results of the 2017 Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees election

2017-05-21 Thread MZMcBride
matanya moses wrote:
>Congratulations to María Sefidari (User:Raystorm), Dariusz Jemielniak
>(User:pundit), and James Heilman (User:Doc James) for receiving the most
>community support. Subject to a standard background check, they will be
>appointed by the Board at their August meeting at Wikimania.

For those wondering, two of the people who supported James' removal from
the Board of Trustees in December 2015 are still serving: Alice and Jimmy.

And the two people who opposed the resolution (Dariusz and James) are now
among the three people being reappointed.

* https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:James_Heilman_Removal
* https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Board_of_Trustees
* https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Former_Board_of_Trustees_members

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timeless: a grant proposal

2017-04-01 Thread MZMcBride
Isarra Yos wrote:
>I'm a bit confused what you're asking. My proposal should be covering
>exactly what I aim to achieve. What, specifically, is unclear? Let me
>know and I'll do what I can to improve it.

The Vector skin was pushed forward as a usability initiative. For better
or worse, constantly saying "usability" was effective, because after all,
who could be against ideas from a usability initiative? Perhaps this new
responsive skin for MediaWiki wikis needs a similar marketing strategy.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Communicating plans and consultations

2017-03-19 Thread MZMcBride
Gergő Tisza wrote:
>In any case, it seems a bit tendentious to raise this in the context of
>the Code of the Coduct, which (as it has been told ad nauseam) was a
>volunteer initiative, organized mostly with resources available to
>volunteers.

The subject-space and talk pages have literally hundreds of edits by
user names marked with "WMF". Describing this effort as a volunteer
initiative is at least misleading, given this context.

http://vs.aka-online.de/cgi-bin/wppagehiststat.pl?lang=www.mediawiki=C
ode+of+Conduct

http://vs.aka-online.de/cgi-bin/wppagehiststat.pl?lang=www.mediawiki=T
alk:Code+of+Conduct

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Draft Code of Conduct for Technical Spaces

2017-03-07 Thread MZMcBride
Risker wrote:
>I am very curious. Why is it that there seems to be so much resistance to
>this draft code of conduct?

You may find these links helpful:

https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2017-February/086595.html
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Code_of_Conduct#Summary_of_criticisms

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Opening the 2016 Values discussion

2017-02-28 Thread MZMcBride
Guillaume Paumier wrote:
>https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Values/2016_discussion/Synthesis
>
>The discussion on the talk page of the synthesis is open until March 4
>to finalize the language of the descriptions.

Thanks for this note. I left some feedback on the talk page:
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Values/2016_discussion/Synthesis>.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Draft Code of Conduct for Technical Spaces

2017-02-26 Thread MZMcBride
David Gerard wrote:
>This is a pretty reasonable presumption regarding technical spaces: if
>you *don't* have a code of conduct, it's a reasonable conclusion from
>outside that there will be serious unacknowledged problems.

Then you and others should have no problem providing specific examples.
I'd like to see links to Gerrit changesets and Phabricator tasks where
this new policy and its committee would help. If you want to make claims
of serious unacknowledged problems, substantiate them with evidence. This
is exactly the same burden of proof you would expect from anyone else.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Draft Code of Conduct for Technical Spaces

2017-02-26 Thread MZMcBride
Tim Landscheidt wrote:
>This is a circular and illogical argument.  Just because
>someone has good intentions or invested time and effort does
>not mean that the path they chose is the right one to take.
>And if someone is steering towards a cliff, encouraging peo-
>ple to keep pushing the cart to honour the navigator's dedi-
>cation is self-destructive.

This is basically the <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_cost_fallacy>.
This also can partially explain many of the software development-related
disputes we've seen with the Wikimedia Foundation. Once a bunch of time,
energy, and other resources are devoted to a particular software project,
it becomes a lot more difficult to give it up, even if it's doomed.

Leila Zia wrote:
>​Matthew used English Wikipedia as one example to say that the statement
>"This is always the case." is not correct.​ Using English Wikipedia as an
>example to negate that statement is not in contradiction with what Matthew
>said to you on mediawiki.org.

Sure, but that wasn't the contradiction (or hypocrisy) I was discussing.
In one case, Matthew is relying on outside behavior and accepted practices
on other Wikimedia wikis (re: meatpuppetry, sockpuppetry, etc.). In the
other case, Matthew is saying outside policies and practices are
irrelevant as those policies are local to that wiki. You both are quite
smart enough to see what's happening here.

Vi to wrote:
>I think methodological objections shouldn't prevail over substantial
>objections.
>I can agree most of consensus in CoC draft came from WMF
>staffers/contractors, but:
>*no one was prevented from weighing-in
>*lists were filled with invitations to weigh-in
>*I think most of us didn't comment just because they agree with the
>overall meaning of the draft.
>IMHO most of criticism doesn't actually target the draft but rather
>increasing influence of WMF in various sectors traditionally
>community-driven or unregulated. I'm not commenting nor this influence nor
>the objections but I think CoC is just a symbol of another issue.

I'll try to summarize the latest criticisms and I'll copy them to the talk
page as well, for posterity.

Re: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Code_of_Conduct/Draft

In the most cynical outlook, this is a Wikimedia Foundation-imposed
policy. The revision history of the page and activity on the related
Phabricator tasks make this pretty clear:
<https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/P4985> and
<https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T90908>.

The draft text regarding initial committee membership reads: "The first
Committee will be chosen by the Wikimedia Foundation's Technical
Collaboration team."

As I pointed out to Pine, there's been a decent amount of discussion
regarding whether this proposed committee or this entire document can even
apply to Wikimedia Foundation staff. The Wikimedia Foundation Human
Resources and Legal teams have weighed in and seem to have attempted to
carve out an exemption for employees, since they're (probably rightfully)
concerned that this proposed policy and its committee will create HR and
Legal headaches.

When asked about specific examples that this code of conduct is attempting
to address, there has been extreme evasiveness. Problematic behavior in
technical spaces (for example, spammers in IRC channels, Phabricator, and
Gerrit) are typically quickly resolved. What is this committee intending
to work on, exactly? Getting a simple answer to that question has been
nearly impossible.

And the previous explicit agreements to have a final vote on the document
have now been changed by one side. Instead of having a final vote, Matthew
and the rest of the people pushing this document forward are trying to
claim the ability to use per-section consensus as a basis for overall
consensus, even though they specifically told people there would be a
final vote and people supported specific sections with this understanding.

Yes, it is a cynical outlook to be sure, but if you examine what's
happening here, this a proposed policy from Wikimedia Foundation staffers
that puts the Wikimedia Foundation in charge of creating a code of conduct
committee. That's already a huge red flag. Add to it that the Wikimedia
Foundation is trying to exempt itself from its own creation, can't cite
what specific problems this new policy/committee is intended to solve, and
has now reneged on previous agreements to hold a final vote, presumably
because there's a concern that a final vote would result in rejection of
this policy. Bleh.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Draft Code of Conduct for Technical Spaces

2017-02-25 Thread MZMcBride
Pine W wrote:
>When I last spent some time looking at the proposal, I too felt that the
>contributions indicated that the policy had far too little community
>influence. *However*, if you'll entertain a hypothetical with me for a
>moment, let's suppose that the status quo continues and there is
>effectively no conduct policy for technical spaces -- in particular,
>Phabricator and MediaWiki, unless I am missing a conduct policy that
>already applies to them outside of the ToS. If there is no policy, is that
>better than the policy that Matthew has been drafting?

The "no conduct policy for technical spaces" argument was debunked here:
https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2016-November/085573.html

Pine W also wrote:
>Well, WMF will have to deal with this policy too. (:

Sort of. The proposed text currently includes "If a WMF employee or
contractor is accused of wrongdoing, or a WMF employee or contractor is
reported as being subjected to wrongdoing, the Committee will forward the
report to the employee's or contractor’s manager, and to WMF HR in
writing." It remains very unclear whether this code of conduct policy can
apply to Wikimedia Foundation employees, given comments from the Wikimedia
Foundation's Legal and Human Resources departments.

> While I have mixed feelings about TCoC and the process for its
>creation, I also don't want anarchy in Phabricator and MediaWiki, so it
>seems prudent to explore alternatives.

Anarchy? Huh?

Rogol Domedonfors wrote:
>However, since the end of 2015 the drafting of the code has largely been
>in the hands of a small group of WMF staff, and they have taken it on
>themselves to change that consensus and stated that the code will come
>into effect as soon as the last section is agreed, which will be quite
>soon.
>
>Do the WMF and the wider Community wish to adhere to the initial
>consensus, and put the draft code out to the comunity for adoption?  Or
>will the WMF choose to enact it on their own authority irrespective of
>any community views on the subject?
>
>If the code is to be voted on by the Community, what would be the
>appropriate venue for the vote, and where should the vote be publicised?

It's pretty bizarre that nobody has addressed this. Many people supported
specific sections of the proposed document with an explicit understanding
that there would be a final vote on the full document later. A few members
of Wikimedia Foundation staff then tried to declare that a final vote was
not necessary, violating previous statements and agreements. These same
staff members have also been involved in closing discussions in which they
were active participants or even the initiators of the discussion.

This is all noted at
<https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Code_of_Conduct/Draft>. I think these
actions will delegitimize the entire document and any processes or
procedures it attempts to implement.

Matthew Flaschen wrote:
>English Wikipedia policy is clear
>(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sock_puppetry#Meatpuppetry):
>"In votes or vote-like discussions, new users may be disregarded or
>given significantly less weight, especially if there are many of them
>expressing the same opinion."
>
>Other wikis have similar conventions and policies, and some other wikis
>even formalize this into required edit counts.

It's darkly amusing to see you citing the English Wikipedia. When I
pointed out to you on mediawiki.org that "it would never be appropriate
for the person who began a discussion to then also close that discussion,"
you replied that "English Wikipedia policies do not apply here."

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] banner proposals

2017-02-12 Thread MZMcBride
Gerard Meijssen wrote:
>We do not care about our own. I do acknowledge that some have other
>opinions but I do not have to respect such an opinion. The proof of the
>pudding is after all in the eating and we allowed this to happen, no sound
>came out of our community that said otherwise.

What you're saying is an example of false equivalency (in addition to
being polemical hyperbole). Putting up a site-wide advertisement is not
equivalent to caring about someone or something.

Regarding the pudding, I think the disconnect we're having is that not
everyone agrees when it's time for dessert. And even when many people do
agree that it's time for dessert, not everyone agrees with having pudding.
Or the flavor of the pudding. Or the means used to make and eat it.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Foundation official response re Daily Mail issue

2017-02-09 Thread MZMcBride
Stephen Philbrick wrote:
>Does anyone have a link to the recent Foundation Statement about the Daily
>Mail? We are receiving inquires at OTRS, and it would be nice if I see see
>our official position.

I don't have such a link, but I did forward your e-mail to the various
e-mail addresses listed at
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Communications_committee>.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] De-Recognition of Affiliates with Long-standing Non-Compliance

2017-02-05 Thread MZMcBride
Kirill Lokshin wrote:
>It's also worth noting, incidentally, that the table on the reports page
>only tracks compliance with annual activity and financial reporting
>requirements, and not any other requirements that affiliates may be
>subject to under their agreements with the WMF.

For reference, since I was curious, there's an index of (some?) chapter
agreements here: <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Chapter_agreements>.
This page may be out of date, though.

There are a whole lot of chapter/affiliate-related pages on Meta-Wiki and
it's a bit difficult to keep track of them. These two templates are decent
attempts: <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:Affiliates> and
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:Affiliations_Committee>.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Politics

2017-02-03 Thread MZMcBride
Andy Mabbett wrote:
>On 3 February 2017 at 00:00, MZMcBride <z...@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
>> I guess this is referring to
>> <https://blog.wikimedia.org/2017/01/30/knowledge-knows-no-boundaries/>.
>
>There were speakers and delegates at Wikimania 2012, in Washington DC,
>who would not have been able to attend under the current ban.
>
>I therefore have no problem with the WMF speaking out against such a
>ban; indeed I applaud them for doing so.

Wikimania has taken place in many countries. In 2011 it was held in
Israel, in 2008 it was held in Egypt, etc. That doesn't make it
appropriate for the Wikimedia Foundation to issue statements about various
national policies. That isn't its role or responsibility.

Simply because tenuous connections can be made doesn't suddenly make them
legitimate reasons for political action on behalf of the Wikimedia
Foundation or the Wikimedia movement. An unwanted pregnancy is a burden
and may reduce the ability of some women to edit Wikipedia. But that
(quite obviously, to me, anyway) does not mean that the Wikimedia
Foundation should be taking a position on abortion rights and access to
contraception. In my opinion, the risk of such political action is pretty
clear: it has a very real possibility to fracture and divide the Wikimedia
community over issues that are unrelated to Wikimedia's mission.

Robert Fernandez wrote:
>That is an obvious false equivalence.  The issue isn't people rooting
>for the WMF to take political stances that mirror their own.  The
>issue is whether or not that the WMF should recognize that its mission
>can intersect with or conflict with political stances and then act
>appropriately.

You somewhat conveniently avoided addressing Nathan's point. If the
Wikimedia Foundation issued a political statement with a view that you
found deeply offensive and strongly disagreed with, how would you respond?

Todd Allen wrote:
>I don't think anyone is disputing the facts. I'm certainly not. And I am
>gravely concerned by what's being done, and I entirely oppose it.
>
>However, that doesn't mean I want to see WMF used as a political
>mouthpiece, even when what's being said happens to be things I fully agree
>with.

Agreed.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] guidance from Foundation leadership as to where to draw the line on policy requests?

2017-02-02 Thread MZMcBride
James Salsman wrote:
>I can not in good conscience refrain from asking the Foundation management
>and Board to please take an exceptional, public, very visible stand in
>response to these extraordinarily exceptional circumstances.
>
>[...]
>
>If those of you who find my requests uncomfortable do not know how to
>program your email clients to hide them from you, I will gladly help you
>off-list.

Since you seem to need one, as a general rule, if neither the URL you're
sharing nor the contents it leads to contain the word "wiki", it's very
likely inappropriate for this mailing list. Your recent medium.com,
cnbc.com, and aol.com links all fail this test.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Politics

2017-02-02 Thread MZMcBride
Hi Yair,

I agree with your underlying sentiment. When we look at threats facing the
Wikimedia movement, I continue to think that the risk of people being able
to inject their national and identity politics into the movement is pretty
great. While I may personally agree with many of the views being put
forward, as you note these types of actions have the very real potential
to create an unhealthy division among contributors and others.

Wikimedia is a global movement and many people in the world have strongly
held and diametrically different views about gay rights, abortion, free
speech, the role of women, etc. Those views should rarely be relevant to
creating free educational content. I don't think it's appropriate for
Wikimedia to take stands on these issues. If staff of the current
iteration of Wikimedia Foundation Inc. want to make such statements and
take such positions, that is technically their prerogative, absent
intervention from the Board of Trustees, however it certainly behooves
other Wikimedian to point out what a bad idea it is.

To put it another way: there are people who work at Wikimedia Foundation
Inc. who voted for Donald Trump for president. While you may
disagree with his policies and these staffers' decision to support him for
president, needlessly and divisively injecting this kind of politics into
the workplace is neither healthy nor appropriate, in my opinion.

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

I guess this is referring to
<https://blog.wikimedia.org/2017/01/30/knowledge-knows-no-boundaries/>.

In terms of various people at Wikimedia Foundation Inc. attempting to speak
for the Wikimedia movement, there's also <https://policy.wikimedia.org/>.
I've raised the lack of attribution and the "veneer of authority and
legitimacy" issue at <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Public_policy>.
At least the recent blog post was signed by Katherine. That's better than
some of these other essays.

MZMcBride



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

2017-01-31 Thread MZMcBride
Rogol Domedonfors wrote:
>Because this mailing list is for discussions about the Wikimedia mission,
>Foundation and projects; not for the general discussion of the national
>politics of the United States or any other country, however fascinating.

Seriously. Where are the mailing list moderators? Richard? Thehelpfulone?

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Keeping historical documents related to Wikimedia

2017-01-14 Thread MZMcBride
Yann Forget wrote:
>That completely defeats the point.
>Anyone can keep a copy locally, but 1. the file isn't available publicly,
>2. nobody really knows where it is available (Google won't say X has a
>copy), 3. if the local storage is damaged, the file is lost.
>
>So I am asking the WMF to have a place to keep such files publicly.

It's kind of amusing to read a discussion about preserving historical
documents where the author's name includes the word "forget." :-)

The problem here is a lot more social than technical. We already have two
places that users can upload and manage files: commons.wikimedia.org and
meta.wikimedia.org. There's no technical reason that either of these
places can't be used, as far as I know. The issue is that some people on
these wikis insist that all content be completely free.

Depending on the size of the files you want to store and how much you care
about presentation, metadata, etc., there are some more obscure places we
could stick the files basically indefinitely. We could put them in a Git
repository on gerrit.wikimedia.org or maybe github.com, we could stick
them in Phabricator at phabricator.wikimedia.org, we could put them on
wikimediafoundation.org, we could put them in a user directory on
people.wikimedia.org, we could stick them on a server like
dumps.wikimedia.org or wikitech.wikimedia.org. Hell, we could even find an
obscure Wiktionary or Wikiquote project with reasonable local admins and
just stash the files away there. We have plenty of servers and tools at
our disposal. If you create a Phabricator Maniphest task with a list of
your hard and soft requirements, particularly the amount of storage space
you expect to need, we can probably find you a place to stick these files
away from the people so intent on deleting them.

MZMcBride



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

2016-12-22 Thread MZMcBride
Christophe Henner wrote:
>Basically it's making the legal team life's easier when they need to do
>small and/or quick changes. They don't have to go through the whole
>resolution process to change a comma.
>
>We're still informed and are talking with staff about those changes.
>
>As for responsibility, we decided to delegate responsibility, but at the
>end of the day we still will have to answer the community's question :)

Hi Christophe,

Thank you for your replies in this thread so far. I'm still confused about
this resolution and its impact.

Were there a lot of regular changes needed to policies, so much so that
the Board had a backlog of some kind? If the changes were as small as you
suggest, such as punctuation tweaks, I would think these would be quick
and easy for the Board to review and approve. If there are regular and
more substantive policy changes happening, I'd like to better understand
why these changes are happening. And I'd like to better understand why
eliminating review and approval by the Board of Trustees for substantive
policy changes is a good thing.

You mention legal staff and lawyers, but for many people, I don't think
it's very comforting to know that you're making it easier for lawyers to
make changes to these policies. While I'm sure the legal staff at the
Wikimedia Foundation is great, I think there's a lot of benefit to having
the somewhat elected (err, selected) Board review and approve policy
changes that affect every Wikimedia wiki. Why would we change this?

It seems worth pointing out that the Wikimedia Foundation General Counsel
position is currently vacant, so when you mention the legal team wanting
to make policy changes, many wonder who specifically is wanting to make
changes and why.

More to the point, while this e-mail thread mentions the legal team, the
resolution is far broader than that. The Executive Director could appoint
a Wikimedia Foundation intern or even an outside contractor as the
responsible party for a global policy now, with the unchecked power to
alter, revoke, or change the terms? Anyone who reads through this PDF from
November 2016 can see that this is not exactly a theoretical concern:
<https://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?curid=24446>. There are
people who want to enact and enforce their policies across Wikimedia wikis
and the Board of Trustees has now greatly expanded the group of people who
can alter global policies. This is a pretty big and sudden shift.

To Lodewijk's point about consultation and notification, was/is the Board
of Trustees planning to announce this seemingly large and significant
change to the affected Wikimedia communities?

MZMcBride



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

2016-12-19 Thread MZMcBride
This is probably of interest to this list.

https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Delegation_of_policy-making_authority

---
Delegation of policy-making authority

This was approved on December 13, 2016 by the Board of Trustees.

Whereas, the Board of Trustees has traditionally approved certain global
Wikimedia Foundation policies (such as the Privacy Policy and Terms of
Use) as requested during the July 4, 2004 Board meeting
<https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Meetings/July_4,_2004>;

Whereas, the Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director has authority to
conduct the affairs of the Wikimedia Foundation, which includes adopting
and implementing policies;

Resolved, the Board hereby delegates the authority to adopt, alter, and
revoke policies to the Executive Director, who may further delegate such
authority to Wikimedia Foundation staff as they deem appropriate;

Resolved, the Board may continue to review and approve policies for the
Wikimedia Foundation upon request to the Executive Director or as required
by law. 

Approve

   Christophe Henner (Chair), Maria Sefidari (Vice Chair), Dariusz
   Jemielniak, Kelly Battles, Guy Kawasaki, Jimmy Wales, Nataliia Tymkiv,
   and Alice Wiegand
---

I wonder how much of this resolution is formalizing what was already
happening and how much of this is moving the Wikimedia Foundation in a new
direction. After a very tumultuous year at the Wikimedia Foundation, this
is certainly a notable development.

I also wonder in what ways this abrupt change will alter the relationship
between the editing communities and the Board of Trustees. The Wikimedia
Foundation Board of Trustees seems to be committing itself to downsizing
its role and responsibilities. The concern is that a change like this will
reduce accountability when policies are set, unset, and changed by someone
overseeing a large staff that regularly comes in conflict with an even
larger set of editing communities. The Executive Director, of course, is
unelected and has been a central point of repeated controversies recently.
It's been less than a year since the previous Executive Director resigned
after being forced out by her staff. In the context of the recent history,
this resolution is all the more puzzling.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Discussion about proposed Technical Code of Conduct (TCC)

2016-11-21 Thread MZMcBride
Legoktm wrote:
>On 11/21/2016 01:36 AM, Adrian Raddatz wrote:
>> So, are we unable to enforce these things currently? If someone
>>comments on a Phabricator task that user X is a big meanyface, are we
>>unable to act currently because there's no code of conduct so how could
>>they have known otherwise?
>
>The current guideline is
><https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Bug_management/Phabricator_etiquette>.
>It only applies to Phabricator, not all technical spaces, like the
>proposed COC.

If we disregard these pages:

* https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Code_of_conduct_policy
* https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Terms_of_Use
* https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Friendly_space_policy

And the many others listed at these places:
* https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Code_of_conduct
* https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Code_of_Conduct/Draft#See_also

And if we disregard any application of common sense, then yes, you could
argue that a technical code of conduct is needed. When you consider the
actual context, however, it becomes pretty clear that this is unnecessary
bureaucracy. The repeated concerns about outsized influence by
Wikimedia Foundation employees have largely gone ignored.

Quim Gil wrote:
>The discussion about this CoC is no exception, and we have seen WMF
>employees with different opinions and votes at almost every point.

If we discount discussions like "Finalize introduction to "Committee"
section?" on the talk page, I suppose:
<https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Code_of_Conduct/Draft>.
It's plain to see in discussions like this that every support vote came
from Wikimedia Foundation employees or employees of another Wikimedia
affiliate (WMDE and WMFR). The opposing votes came from volunteers, but
three of the four were struck as being too late.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fundraising Update - Big English Fundraiser

2016-11-16 Thread MZMcBride
Joseph Seddon wrote:
>So firstly you can see all of our standard banners here [1]. Those links
>will always contain our most current control banner designs and the
>control text will be updated regularly through the English campaigns. We
>are working to limit the number of banners each reader sees and it is
>important to note that readers will only see the large banner once. On
>the large banner, the close button is accompanied  with explicit text.
>The smaller banner doesn’t have the text because of the more limited real
>estate but has an “X” around 45% large. Dismissing the banner or using
>the remind me later function will hide the banner for a period of 1 week.
>
>We have worked hard over the years to rephrase many of the areas of
>criticism relating to our appeals taking into account both staff and
>community feedback. The most recent such change was a small edit from
>“small non-profit” to “non-profit”. I’ll be keeping that page up to date
>with the changes to our copy through the campaign. We are working with the
>Communications team on our new messaging for banners and emails not just
>for new ideas but to ensure it remains consistent with overall WMF
>messaging. The WMF Legal department also reviews all fundraising messages
>to ensure accuracy.
>
>Finally, I foresee absolutely no reason for us to change our policy of not
>showing fundraising banners to logged in users and will definitely
>maintain this for the English campaign.

This was an excellent reply and read. Thank you!

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] How should security of Wikimedia accounts be better?

2016-11-12 Thread MZMcBride
Fæ wrote:
>Do any of the volunteers contributing to this list have ideas for
>changes that may make a significant difference to security?

When you log in, you're given a user session. This session, along with
local Web browser HTTP cookies, allows you to stay logged in and
authenticated as you browse and edit a wiki. We've previously discussed
the ability for a user to see all of his or her account's active sessions,
similar to what other sites (GitHub, Facebook, Google) already allow.

This type of interface lets a user see his or her own active sessions,
originating IP addresses and User-Agent strings, and sometimes the
interface allows destroying all or some sessions (e.g., if you see a
session from the time you logged in to a friend's computer). This type of
interface can also be used, for better or worse, to track typical behavior
of the user, so that if a user often logs in from a specific IP address
range (e.g., their home computer in the UK), a user session that comes
from a vastly different IP address range (e.g., a mobile device in
Australia) can be flagged and reported to the user. Or, in the case of
two-factor authentication, a "suspicious" login attempt can be required to
go through additional verification. These types of systems are common for
Gmail accounts and some credit card accounts.

Regarding a user seeing a list of his or her own active sessions and
corresponding information, there was, and there likely still is,
considerable opposition to this idea. It's akin to a "self-CheckUser"
feature (which I think we should separately support) and there were
concerns that we would help vandals, sockpuppets, and other bad users.

Some links:

* https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/?curid=117743
* https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/?curid=156161
* https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T387
* https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T29242

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why don't we have a warrant canary?

2016-11-02 Thread MZMcBride
James Salsman wrote:
>Are there any disadvantages to a warrant canary which would outweigh the
>corresponding expected increase in improvements from anonymous editors?

This question is presented in such a way that it's difficult to answer, in
my opinion. You'll need to provide additional context.

Related to your question, below are some data points that may be helpful
to you or others.

In 2013, the Wikimedia Foundation said:

---
The Wikimedia Foundation has not received requests or legal orders to
participate in PRISM, to comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Act (FISA), or to participate in or facilitate any secret intelligence
surveillance program.
---

https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/06/14/prism-surveillance-wikimedia/

There's also this note from Luis Villa also from 2013:

---
1) We've flat-out denied any sort of involvement in this, and we continue
to stand by that denial:
https://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/06/14/prism-surveillance-wikimedia/

2) Take with a grain of salt, of course, but our understanding (based on
the few gag orders that have been made public) is that we could be forced
to not confirm having received a National Security Letter, but we can't
actually be forced to lie about it. In other words, if we'd received one we
would not be allowed to say "we've received one", but we also could not be
forced to deny it - we'd always have the option to remain silent instead.
---

https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2013-August/127380.html

I believe there have been similar statements made subsequent to 2013, but
I don't know if we have them indexed somewhere. We probably should.

There's also this reply from 2016:

---
Yeah, sorry about that. I am not subject to a National Security
Letter.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:55, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
---

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jimbo_Wales/Archive_199

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 2015 - 2016 Fundraising Report just published

2016-10-19 Thread MZMcBride
Joseph Seddon wrote:
>Lodewijk: So just as last year, fundraising totals have been posted by
>region but there is currently no public data for donations from each
>country. It's felt that the regional breakdown at least provides a
>compromise between providing a semi-decent view of where our donations
>come from while at the same time respecting privacy and other legal
>reasons that is associated with releasing country level data.

Huh? Like Rupert, I find this comment very confusing. What specific
privacy and legal reasons are there for not providing a per-country
breakdown of donations?

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Clarifications on 2014 Form 990

2016-06-07 Thread MZMcBride
Patricio Lorente wrote:
>We’ve heard your questions and want to address them broadly, as well as
>provide more information about the breakdown of Sue’s compensation during
>this time.

Thank you for this e-mail.

>One point of confusion is for the period this compensation covers. This is
>reasonable, this confused even some of us involved in preparing this
>response. Although the majority of activities reported on the Form 990
>cover the Foundation’s fiscal year (specifically, the six months between
>July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015), the IRS requires that details about
>compensation for certain highly-paid individuals are for the full calendar
>year in which the fiscal year begins or ends.

This parenthetical confused me. Six months from July 2014 to June 2015?

>(2) Retention bonus to compensate Sue for lost opportunities during the
>transition period: $165,000.

This is the key piece that I think most people didn't understand or
realize. Was this information published anywhere previously (e.g., in the
Board minutes)? I wouldn't expect to see an exact amount, of course, but
this is a pretty substantial amount of donor money, so I'd expect at least
a "we approved a retention bonus for special advisor Sue Gardner"-type
notice somewhere, typically on wikimediafoundation.org.

>Sue’s special advisor status with the Foundation ended on May 31, 2016,
>and she is no longer on contract with the Foundation or receiving any
>compensation from it.

I can't help but think about the tempestuous past year that the Wikimedia
Foundation has had, including issues with Sue's immediate successor.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fwd: [WikimediaMobile] "Among mobile sites, Wikipedia reigns in terms of popularity"

2016-05-11 Thread MZMcBride
Steven Walling wrote:
>It's really great to see Wikipedia highlighted as a source for news and
>current events. It's rare that people fully recognize the degree to which
>the "encyclopedia" is actually very good at trending news information.
>That said, the report paints a rosy picture that, strategically speaking,
>may not be cause for celebration.

Does the Knight Foundation disclose somewhere in this report that it's a
donor to the Wikimedia Foundation?

Comparing Wikipedia to sites like BuzzFeed and CNN seems to be a pretty
classic case of comparing apples to oranges.

>Neglecting to show people the value of the apps will help grow mobile web
>traffic in the short term, but in the long run may leave us entirely
>dependent on search (i.e. Google) or simply not growing readers, despite
>millions of people still coming online via mobile.

Can you elaborate on the value of the apps? HTTP is a free and open
standard with very wide support. iOS is closed and proprietary. Maybe you
can explain how investing resources into the latter aligns with
Wikimedia's values?

Personally, I say hasten the day that we abolish the horrible "m." from
our URLs and MobileFrontend from our servers.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Board update

2016-05-04 Thread MZMcBride
Patricio Lorente wrote:
> When Denny informed the Board that he was stepping down, we began to
>consider how we would move forward. We recognize the importance of
>filling the two vacancies on the Board, and would like to proceed in a
>way that respects the will of the community and responds to existing
>Board needs. The Board will be meeting in Berlin during the Wikimedia
>Conference on April 22nd and 23rd - during this time we will discuss how
>we should fill the open community-nominated and appointed Trustee seats.
> 
>
>I look forward to sharing more information with you in late April.

April has now come and gone. Is there any new information about filling
these two vacancies on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees?

In poking around to see if I had missed a post somewhere, I found this
on-wiki reply by Patricio from May 4, 2016:
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?diff=15578608=15578561>.
 The reply is vaguely related to the vacant seats; I imagine its contents
will be of interest to this list.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Account of the events leading to James Heilman's removal

2016-05-03 Thread MZMcBride
Tim Starling wrote:
>Board members have a duty to act in the interests of the WMF as a
>whole, but it does not follow that denying anonymity to whistleblowers
>is in the best interests of the WMF. In fact, I think this Lila/KF/KE
>case demonstrates the opposite.
>
>I would encourage the Board to extend the current whistleblower policy
>to provide protection to employees making anonymous complaints via
>certain intermediaries (such as active Board members), rather than
>requiring complaints to be made directly to the Chair of the Board;
>and to specify that the forwarding of such anonymous reports by Board
>members to the Chair would be permissible.
>
>If we want to avoid a repeat of this affair, then employees should be
>encouraged to communicate serious concerns to the Board as early as
>possible.

https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Whistleblower_policy

You mention anonymous complaints and serious concerns, but the current
whistleblower policy seems to be pretty clear that it only applies to
laws, rules, and regulations. The text of the policy indicates, to me at
least, that even alleged violations of other Wikimedia Foundation policies
would not be covered by the whistleblower policy. Would you extend the
Wikimedia Foundation whistleblower policy to cover regular (i.e.,
non-legal and non-regulatory) grievances?

My understanding is that the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees sought
out and then appointed a tech-minded chief executive, who came from a tech
organization, in order to "transform" the Wikimedia Foundation from an
educational non-profit to be more like a traditional tech company. Many
employees of the Wikimedia Foundation disagreed with this decision and the
chief executive made a series of poor hires who ran amok (looking at you,
Damon), but I don't think anything rose to the level of illegal behavior.

From my perspective, whether rightfully or wrongfully, the staff mutinied
and ultimately successfully deposed the appointed executive director. I
don't see how this whistleblower policy or most variations of it that a
typical non-profit would enact would really be applicable here.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Gender gap on "classical" encyclopedias

2016-04-20 Thread MZMcBride
Robert Fernandez wrote:
>The argument that there is no demand for such articles is itself a stale
>one, used to frequently justify gender disparities in all sorts of fields
>and media.  There is a clear demand for such articles.  The media reaction
>to Emily Temple-Wood's campaign to write articles about female scientists
>is only the most recent and prominent example illustrating that the
>audience is there.

This is somewhat tangential, but
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Temple-Wood> exists now. I personally
find this to be both unfortunate and potentially ominous.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

2016-04-11 Thread MZMcBride
Anthony Cole wrote:
>Google's "info boxes" and their answers at the top of their results, we're
>all agreed now, I think, are impacting Wikipedia's page views and,
>consequently, our ability to raise funds and recruit new volunteers.

Google and others have a direct interest in their data being accurate and
reliable. We already see that Google has a "report a correction" feature
for some of its services. It's in both Wikimedia's interest and re-users'
interest for the underlying data source to be update-to-date and correct.

Our mission is to spread free educational content to the world and we make
our data available for re-use for this purpose. Shouldn't we be applauding
Google and others for helping us share our knowledge with the world?

As far as threats to direct-to-user fund-raising go, I'd put
organizational instability ahead of Google at the moment. The Wikimedia
Foundation has repeatedly been in the news lately for ongoing management
issues, both in its executive team and in its board of trustees.

What size do you think the Wikimedia Foundation should be in terms of
yearly budget and number of full-time employees? How much bigger or
smaller should the Wikimedia Foundation be than other Wikimedia chapters?

Even if we accepted your premise that Google was impacting Wikipedia's
page views and the ability to raise funds and recruit new volunteers
(citations needed, to be sure), are you sure that we're all agreed that
this is problematic? If others re-using our content has a side effect
of reducing donations to Wikimedia Foundation Inc., donations which are
received through questionable and increasingly obnoxious on-site
advertisements, you will not find universal agreement that this donor
reduction would be terrible. As others have argued previously, small and
recurring donations are a means of providing accountability for the
entities entrusted with these monetary donations. If potential donors no
longer trust the Wikimedia Foundation to manage and distribute this
money, no longer donating financially is practical and wise.

If Google causes page views to go down and our sites are directly hit less
frequently, that actually saves us money, doesn't it? We're theoretically
then off-loading some of our hosting costs to Google, Facebook, and
others who are downloading and re-uploading our data to the Web, exactly
as we mandated that anyone be able to do. With multiple copies of the data
on the Web, we're better ensuring that the content lives on in perpetuity.

 
MZMcBride



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

2016-03-09 Thread MZMcBride
Gergő Tisza wrote:
>On Sat, Mar 5, 2016 at 7:54 AM, MZMcBride <z...@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
>> Removing a roof without also having a plan for an interim roof is a
>>really amateur mistake.
>
>Not really if the roof was radioactive, and on fire.

The roof didn't blow off in a storm; it was structurally unsound. We know
this because roof repair has been in discussion for months. We know this
because the old roof will be around until the end of March 2016. If the
roof were really on fire, I think we would all hope for faster action!

>It is entirely a matter of priorities - is it more urgent to fix a
>situation that was causing serious unrest amongst staff, and was
>escalating quickly, or to compose a nice transition plan? You might
>disagree with the board's answer to that question, but there are more
>honest ways of criticizing it than attacking them for not doing
>everything at the same time.

Respectfully, I think you're presenting a false dichotomy here.

The board was aware of the issues with the roof since at least November
2015, as I understand it. Is four months really not enough time to develop
a transition plan, not for a permanent replacement, but for an interim
replacement for the roof? Nobody is saying that the Board of Trustees must
do everything at the same time. But at some point in time, the board
should exhibit some meaningful leadership of the Wikimedia Foundation.

MZMcBride



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

2016-03-09 Thread MZMcBride
Jimmy Wales wrote:
>On 3/5/16 3:07 AM, MZMcBride wrote:
>> I don't see it as a sign of strength to abdicate your responsibility in
>> this way.
>
>There are at least two things I disagree with about this remark - one
>that seeking the advice and participation and buy-in of those best
>placed to give it is in some way "abdicating responsibility".  And the
>other is that the board's objective should be to give off a "sign of
>strength".  I think attempting to show strength is a pretty silly
>objective for a board to have, and I hope we never have that as our
>objective.

I'll try to better articulate my views.

The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees oversees the foundation and
appoints its Executive Director. It seems very worrying that this body has
now admitted that it's so out-of-touch with the workings of the
organization that it ostensibly manages that it cannot fulfill one of its
most basic duties: appointing an interim Executive Director. What kind
of confidence does this instill in employees, editors, and donors? How can
you all call yourselves trustees of an organization that you're openly
admitting that you all don't understand? Is that not crazy to anyone else?

It's not simply about strength and framing it as such misses the point:
it's about leadership. It seems very worrying that when pressed to provide
real and meaningful leadership of the Wikimedia Foundation, the Board of
Trustees passes the buck and erects smoke and mirror arguments such as
"but we don't lead the Wikimedia movement!" Nobody is asking the Board of
Trustees to lead the Wikimedia movement, you're being asked to manage the
non-profit foundation to which you all pledged your support and care.

The Board of Trustees is clinically allergic to making decisions. It
chooses to be a "traditional" non-profit board when it suits it, holding
closed meetings accompanied by the barest possible meeting minutes, which
are only published months later. However, when called to act with
authority, as a traditional board might act, it demurs and points to
everyone else as the people who should be making the decisions.

The working theory currently is that the Board of Trustees has always been
weak, but that Sue covered or compensated for this weakness by taking on
some of the responsibilities that a board would typically have. Drafting a
Strategic Plan is probably the best example of this. This is very much a
shared responsibility and yet we now sit outside of a Strategic Plan. It
lapsed at the end of 2015 and no new plan has taken its place. What are
the Wikimedia Foundation targets for 2020? How is it acceptable that
neither the board nor the Executive Director have worked on this?

To be clear: I don't put much value in a colorful multi-megabyte PDF full
of platitudes, smiling faces, and unrealistic goals. However, in talking
with many people, the lack of strategy and vision (or in Lila's case, an
ever-shifting strategy and vision) for the Wikimedia Foundation is one of
the biggest and most often repeated concerns I hear. It's particularly
alarming given the enormous budget of the Wikimedia Foundation.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement about changes to the Board

2016-03-07 Thread MZMcBride
Patricio Lorente wrote:
>Today the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees voted to remove one of
>the Trustees, Dr. James Heilman, from the Board. His term ended effective
>immediately.
>
>This was not a decision the Board took lightly. The Board has a
>responsibility to the Wikimedia movement and the Wikimedia Foundation to
>ensure that the Board functions with mutual confidence to ensure effective
>governance. Following serious consideration, the Board felt this removal
>decision was a necessary step at this time. The resolution will be
>published shortly.
>
> [...]

The minutes from this Board of Trustees meeting have now been posted:

---
December 28, 2015 minutes
WMF Board minutes

* December 28, 2015
* Board of Trustees present: Patricio Lorente (Chair), Alice Wiegand (Vice
  Chair), Dariusz Jemielniak, Denny Vrandečić, Frieda Brioschi, James
  Heilman Jan-Bart de Vreede, Jimmy Wales, Stu West, and Guy Kawasaki
* Others present for part of the meeting: Geoff Brigham (Secretary and
  General Counsel), Stephen LaPorte (Legal Counsel)

Patricio called the meeting to order at 1:30 PM Pacific time on December
28, 2016. Geoff called roll and confirmed that a quorum was present and
able to simultaneously hear the meeting.

Patricio called the meeting for the purpose of discussing a resolution to
remove James from the Board of Trustees. Patricio introduced the
discussion, and asked James to discuss his perspective. At that point in
the meeting, James was excused from the discussion and Board members
discussed their concerns. Patricio invited James back to the meeting.
After a motion by Patricio, seconded by Alice, the Board voted to approve
a resolution to remove James from the Board
<https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolution:James_Heilman_Removal>,
effective immediately.

The Board discussed the next steps, and the meeting was concluded.
---

From <https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/105360>.

>This decision creates an open seat for a community-selected Trustee. [...]

Hmmm, I only just now noticed your use of community-selected here. I think
sometime this year, we should hold a community straw poll on Meta-Wiki
about changing the selection to an election. I think the Board of Trustees
needs to hear from the Wikimedia editing community about this issue.

MZMcBride



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

2016-03-05 Thread MZMcBride
Brion Vibber wrote:
>There's less weakness in admitting a failure honestly, retreating and
>regrouping, than in powering through when knowing oneself unprepared.

After months of complaints from tenants and from a few neighbors, the
landlord of a large building decides to replace the roof of the building.
In the process of removing the old roof, the landlord realizes that it's a
really big job and that he won't be able to properly replace the roof
quickly. Scrambling, he then asks a few of the building tenants to come up
with a plan for an interim roof, because whoa, an open roof leaves you
susceptible to rain and birds and other problematic elements. And this is
a large and expensive building that lots of people rely on, so an interim
roof is definitely needed pretty soon.

Sure, we can commend the landlord for recognizing that the old roof needed
to be replaced. And we can commend him for realizing that he alone can't
speedily fix the roof himself; he needs additional help to finish this big
job. But that doesn't absolve the landlord of negligence. Removing a roof
has very predictable consequences that any landlord should be able to
foresee and account for. Removing a roof without also having a plan for an
interim roof is a really amateur mistake. Perhaps landlords of smaller
buildings could get away with this kind of mistake, but it's unacceptable
for a landlord of a large building to be turning to the tenants to ask
them to fix the problem. Yes, the tenants were the ones complaining for a
new roof, but it's the landlord's responsibility to have the roof replaced
in a professional and orderly way.

MZMcBride



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

2016-03-04 Thread MZMcBride
Alice Wiegand wrote:
>We know that our C-level team is doing a great job in managing the
>day-to-day-operations and they all have a deep understandning of our
>culture, challenges and needs. Who, if not them, knows better what is best
>for the organization in this moment. The Board is not best suited to make
>a decision about the interim which can quickly be established and accepted
>in this situation.
>
>Therefor the board empowers the entire C-level-team to come up with a
>solution for the interim question. We leave it up to them how that
>decisions looks like. We trust them to think traditional or outside of the
>box as it fits to our organization, the Wikimedia Foundation. The
>C-level-team needs some time to deliberate and decide. They will present
>their result to the board which has to vote on it. We plan to finalize
>until the end of next week.

Current Wikimedia Foundation "C-levels" based on
<https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Staff_and_contractors>:

* Lila Tretikov, Executive Director
* Wes Moran, Vice President of Product
* [vacant], Chief Technology Officer
* Maggie Dennis, Senior Director of Community Engagement (Interim)
* Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, Chief Advancement Officer
* Geoff Brigham, General Counsel
* Katherine Maher, Chief Communications Officer
* Jaime Villagomez, Chief Financial Officer
* Joady Lohr, Vice President of Human Resources (Interim)

Does the "C-level team" in this context include Lila and/or the interims?

My vote is for Geoff Brigham. There's precedent for the General Counsel to
be interim Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, of course. And
Geoff has been around long enough and is trusted to be a good steward of
the Wikimedia Foundation. I don't think an outsider would be a good idea.

I don't see it as a sign of strength to abdicate your responsibility in
this way. This action makes the Board of Trustees, already perceived as
being weak, look even weaker, out-of-touch, and unprepared. You've known
about general discontent with the Executive Director since November 2015
and you really weren't able, by March 2016, to figure out who would serve
as interim Executive Director? This is almost derelict behavior.

I don't think anyone demands perfection from members of the Board of
Trustees, but it is an actual commitment to an organization that has a
very large budget and a large number of staff operating a fairly important
set of Web properties. The fact that nine adults really didn't think
through the consequences of "what comes next after the current Executive
Director?" in order to come prepared with an answer to the most obvious
question ("who will be the interim?") is pretty embarrassing and sad.

MZMcBride



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

2016-02-24 Thread MZMcBride
Denny Vrandecic wrote:
>- the Board members have duties of care and loyalty to the Foundation -
>not to the movement. If there is a decision to be made where there is a
>conflict between the Movement or one of the Communities with the
>Foundation, the Board members have to decide in favor of the Foundation.
>They are not only trained to so, they have actually pledged to do so.

The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is responsible for the
appointment of the Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director; the
Executive Director carries out the mission of the Wikimedia Foundation
(which is included in the bylaws) on a day-to-day basis. My understanding
is that any decision by the Wikimedia Foundation staff is reviewable by
the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. In cases of disagreement
between the Wikimedia editing community and the Wikimedia Foundation
staff, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is the ultimate
authority. The physical servers are owned and operated by the Wikimedia
Foundation, Inc., which is managed by this Board of Trustees.

The theory of checks and balances worked a lot better when I thought that
some of the Board of Trustees seats were elected, and not simply nominated.

Regarding the current situation within the Wikimedia Foundation, you and
your nine colleagues are most certainly responsible for ensuring that the
Wikimedia Foundation (the corporate entity) can function smoothly. If
large numbers of Wikimedia Foundation staff are unhappy with your group's
Executive Director appointment, that's very clearly your group's and the
Executive Director's problem to immediately resolve.

Given the Wikimedia Foundation's current role in keeping the Wikimedia
Web properties online, if the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is
failing to keep the Wikimedia Foundation running smoothly, it also becomes
others' problem to immediately resolve.

While I think some of this conversation is interesting and worth having,
the house is currently aflame and the Wikimedia movement (including
Wikimedia Foundation staff and the Wikimedia editing community) awaits
word from the Board of Trustees about whether we'll be putting that fire
out or letting it burn.

It also seems worth noting that the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
can and does enact resolutions that apply to the Wikimedia editing
community. Most other Wikimedia movement entities, such as Wikimedia
Deutschland or WikiWomen's User Group, do not have this power. The one
exception I could think of was that the Wikimedia movement has enacted
some global policies at Meta-Wiki, but these have less force and effect
than a Board of Trustees resolution.

>- the Board members have fiduciary responsibilities. No, we cannot just
>talk about what we are doing. As said, the loyalty of a Board member is
>towards the organization, not the movement.

I think it would be helpful if the Wikimedia Foundation legal team could
lay out exactly what can and cannot be made public for legal reasons. I
have a feeling that a lot more is being kept private than needs to be.

>I currently do not see any body that in the Wikimedia movement that would
>have the moral authority to discuss e.g. whether Wikiversity should be
>set up as a project independent of the Wikimedia movement, whether
>Wikisource would deserve much more resources, whether Stewards have
>sufficient authority, whether the German Wikimedia chapter has to submit
>itself to the FDC proposal, whether a restart of the Croatian Wikipedia
>is warranted, etc.

The Wikimedia community, and in particular members of the Wikiversity
community, decide whether Wikiversity splits off as a separate project
independent of the Wikimedia movement. Or any other group of people can
take Wikiversity's content (or software!) and reuse it as they see fit.

Whether Wikisource deserves more resources is decided by people
volunteering on the project. It's also a matter for the Wikimedia
Foundation, in the same way that Wikipedia is. Why would you treat
siblings so dissimilarly?

Stewards have sufficient authority over the wikis. I don't think anyone
has an issue with the stewards, but if so, raise the issue on Meta-Wiki.

The current funding structure is such that the German Wikimedia chapter
has to submit to whatever rules the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. creates in
order to receive money from it. Them's the rules, given how money is
donated. Changing how donations are accepted and then redistributed is a
huge matter. Are you suggesting we re-open that discussion?

The Croatian Wikipedia would be (re)started if LangCom approves it. We
have processes for both starting and closing Wikipedias.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timeline of recent events at the Wikimedia Foundation

2016-02-22 Thread MZMcBride
GorillaWarfare wrote:
>Recent discussion of the Knowledge Engine/Wikimedia Discovery project,
>issues with senior leadership, lack of transparency, and the like has been
>fairly well spread across several Wikimedia projects and mailing lists, as
>well as on Facebook, in the media, and in other venues.
>
>I just published an attempt to aggregate some of the events that I think
>are particularly informative given what's been going on:
>http://mollywhite.net/wikimedia-timeline/
>
>I hope it's helpful, and please feel free to suggest changes if it's
>incomplete.

Thank you very much for creating and publishing this timeline, Molly. I
really appreciate that you built the timeline in a way that enables
tracking changes and allows for collaborative improvements. Well done!

MZMcBride



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

2016-02-18 Thread MZMcBride
Brion Vibber wrote:
>As a longtime part of Wikimedia's community and staff, I would really
>appreciate some clear answers on what's going on and why we're losing more
>and more longtime community and staff members while an ED who needs
>management coaching is still in place.

Please know that many other longtime Wikimedians are (now) paying close
attention. To this mailing list, to blog comments, to the wikis, etc.
There's certainly no shortage of places for discussion. :-)  I expect the
immediate issue to resolve itself in the next few weeks. Non-profits move
notoriously slowly and the Wikimedia Foundation is no exception in this
regard. My respect for the staff of the Wikimedia Foundation has only
grown seeing the restraint and maturity with which you all have acted.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Your questions about KE.

2016-02-17 Thread MZMcBride
Lila Tretikov wrote:
>There are a lot of questions still floating around around the Knowledge
>Engine, in a lot of different places. I want to answer them fully,
>directly and in one central place. To that end, I’m going to be putting
>together an FAQ page
><https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_Engine/FAQ> on Meta to ask and
>answer questions and - with the help of our staff -- to address them. We
>will release answers as we are able to collect and address them, so
>depending on the number of questions we get it may take a while, but we
>will begin responding during Pacific working hours today.

Thank you for starting this page and for taking the lead in responding to
questions raised about the proposed Knowledge Engine.

>If you have questions, please send them or leave them there. We may
>aggregate similar questions, but we will do our best to answer all of them
>to your satisfaction.

I've e-mailed you privately.

MZMcBride



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

2016-02-03 Thread MZMcBride
Lodewijk wrote:
>When I'd have to guess, I'd say that we're beyond our 'optimal size'
>(budget wise) already.
>
>Especially the 'small donor' stream is rather sensitive towards tides. As
>long as Wikipedia is very popular and visible, we'll be doing well. But
>when we have a few more screwups at the WMF (sorry, but I can't really
>find a better phrase for the past few months, communication wise at
>least), being a credible organisation towards donors might proove harder
>than was the case so far.

You mean that small donations provide accountability? :-)  I agree. I
think this is a feature, not a bug. I'd be happy for the Wikimedia
Foundation to be about a tenth of the size it is currently: around 30
full-time employees, with additional money allocated for contractors as
needed. When people tell me that they want to donate to Wikipedia, I tell
them to make an edit. I'd much rather have people truly contributing to
free knowledge. The Wikimedia Foundation made a series of choices such
headquartering in San Francisco and hiring over 200 full-time employees
that make it very unsympathetic to me. It certainly doesn't cost anywhere
near $80 million a year to keep the sites online and running.

Sam Klein wrote:
>It also makes for a very inward-focused and narrow sort of strategy: "How
>can we make our few banner projects work better / attract more people"
>rather than "how can we make knowledge more accessible to everyone in the
>world, including by supporting and enhancing other excellent projects".
>
>If you start with funders and organizations whose missions are similar to
>Wikimedia's, working with them on a grant is a way of making them part of
>the community: a successful engagement results in them learning more about
>the impact and value of our mission, and supporting or encouraging more
>work along those lines with their other grantees.  It also builds a
>relationship and trust within the circle of similarly-minded organizations
>(in this example, grantors; but this applies equally well to other sorts
>of partners), which can be drawn on in the future if there were a real
>crisis or urgent need.

The counter-argument here is that having a large and secure budget gives
organizations more opportunities to spend on non-necessities. Does the
Wikimedia Foundation need six legal counsels (not including the general
counsel and two legal directors), eight community liaisons, or a mobile
apps team? I'm sure these are all great people doing excellent work, but
when I see how much the Wikimedia Foundation staff has ballooned (and
frankly bloated), it makes me sad.

If you want diversification, build up the other Wikimedia chapters instead.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Can we see the Knight grant application and grant offer?

2016-01-30 Thread MZMcBride
Lila Tretikov wrote:
>I know this request was for the Board, but I took time to explain as much
>as I could about the context of this grant and the work it funds as well
>as to answer as many questions as possible that I have seen. I realize
>many people a curious about what it actually funds, so you will find the
>statement of work cut and pasted there.
>
>https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/15294825

Thank you for this post, Lila. It provides a lot of helpful context and
understanding surrounding the Knight Foundation's recent restricted grant.
One part of this arrangement still confuses me. In the linked post, you
write, "With this grant we brought the idea to the funder and they
supported our work with this grant."

Why ask for and take the money? The Wikimedia Foundation can raise
$250,000 in a few days (maybe hours) by placing ads on a few large
Wikipedias soliciting donations. Why take on a restricted grant, with its
necessary reporting overhead and other administrative costs?

You also write:
---
Why should the community and staff support this decision of our board and
leadership?

I would hope that for staff, the answer to this question is clear.
---

This is very aggressive. I'm not sure this type of attitude is aligned
with an idealistic, non-profit educational organization.

For the general issue, you point out that the Wikimedia Foundation Board
of Trustees is required to approve large (over $100,000) restricted
grants. I think the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees (copied) should
modify its acceptance requirements to mandate that large restricted grants
have their grant agreements and other related paperwork publicly
published. This would not apply retroactively. Publishing the grant
paperwork fits in well well with our transparency principles and values.

For the specific issue, who can be contacted at the Knight Foundation to
ask about publishing the grant paperwork? Presumably the Knight Foundation
and the Wikimedia Foundation, having just partnered, share values. Is the
Knight Foundation okay with the full grant agreement being published?

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Can we see the Knight grant application and grant offer?

2016-01-28 Thread MZMcBride
My guess is that the first step here is to identify who would have access
to the Knight Foundation grant application and grant offer paperwork. It's
not immediately clear to me who to even ask about this.

I'm copying Wes Moran and Katherine Maher of the Wikimedia Foundation on
this reply, as he sent the initial wikimedia-l announcement e-mail about
this grant and she is listed as the contact in the press release:
<https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/104437>.

Wes and Katherine: do you know what steps need to be taken in order to
release the documents surrounding this Knight Foundation grant? Or do you
know who at the Wikimedia Foundation would be the best/most appropriate
contact to figure this out? Geoff and the legal team? One of the
grants-related staff such as Janice? Any help would be appreciated!

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Can we see the Knight grant application and grant offer?

2016-01-28 Thread MZMcBride
MZMcBride wrote:
>Wes and Katherine: do you know what steps need to be taken in order to
>release the documents surrounding this Knight Foundation grant? Or do you
>know who at the Wikimedia Foundation would be the best/most appropriate
>contact to figure this out? Geoff and the legal team? One of the
>grants-related staff such as Janice? Any help would be appreciated!

Remembering that similar questions about grant agreements have come
previously, I just dug through my e-mail archives and found a 2011 e-mail
from Lisa Gruwell. In the e-mail, she's very supportive of the idea of
putting grants documents on Meta-Wiki. Copying her as well on this thread
as she's still working with the Wikimedia Foundation, though it's not
clear to me whether her role has shifted to other focuses.

In case anyone is curious, here is Sue's response from October 2011:
https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2011-October/116339.html

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF trustee Arnnon Geshuri and part in anticompetitive agreements in Google

2016-01-22 Thread MZMcBride
Florence Devouard wrote:
>I hesitate between two interpretations. Either the board is completely
>paralyzed and no more able to make any decision as to what they should
>do. Or the board has decided not to provide any feedback, which I
>consider completely disrespectful to the community and unhealthy
>generally. Either way, I consider this lack of responsiveness from the
>board an even WORSE consideration than Arnnon being a board member.
>
>I love you guys... Patricio, Alice, Frieda, Dariusz, Denny, and Jimbo
>(*). I love you very much. I know each of you. I value every one of you.
>You guys rock in most of what you do and I know it is hard. It is a big
>commitment, it is a lot of pressure, it is time-consuming. And I thank
>every one of you for your gardianship as well as boldness in taking some
>tough decisions.
>
>But here... I do not understand what you are doing. Please take my vote
>as a respectful record of my perplexity.
>
>(*)Citing community-born members only. Appointed members bring great
>perspective, but I do not expect them to know it all about Wikimedia
>community.

Very well put. Thank you for writing this e-mail.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Monetizing Wikimedia APIs

2016-01-16 Thread MZMcBride
Pete Forsyth wrote:
>Lisa presented some alternative strategies for revenue needs for the
>Foundation, including the possibility of charging for premium access to
>the services and APIs, expanding major donor and foundation fundraising,
>providing specific services for a fee, or limiting the Wikimedia
>Foundation's growth. The Board emphasized the importance of keeping free
>access to the existing APIs and services, keeping operational growth in
>line with the organization's effectiveness, providing room for innovation
>in the Foundation's activities, and other potential fundraising
>strategies.

This reminds me of the Wikimedia update feed service:
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_update_feed_service>. The
Wikimedia Foundation basically allowed large search engines to access a
private faster and dedicated stream of recent changes to Wikimedia wikis
for a fee. While Google isn't mentioned on the Meta-Wiki page, I have a
vague memory that they were (and maybe still are) involved.

Somewhat related, there is also search.wikimedia.org:
<https://wikitech.wikimedia.org/wiki/Search.wikimedia.org>. This service
was designed to give Apple a fast and dedicated stream for title prefix
searches. Apple's built-in Dictionary application has been the primary
consumer of this feed, though I believe it's open to anyone.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement about changes to the Board

2016-01-16 Thread MZMcBride
James Alexander wrote:
>I think everyone knows there are a lot of legitimate concerns to be
>concerned about and certainly Arnnon's actions at Google are legitimate
>for question however this whole "google is controlling the board/wmf"
>line of thought is turning into a huge and enormous conspiracy theory and
>what seems to be a giant school of red herring
><https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring>. We haven't quite yet gotten
>to "Frieda has 6 letters in her name and you know what else has 6 letters
>in it's name? GOOGLE!" but we're getting damn close. If anything the only
>concern about google I've heard within the actual WMF is that the
>"Knowledge Engine" was a plan to 'compete' against google for traffic (for
>the record my personal opinion is that would be a waste of money on
>something we could never succeed if true but ALSO that it isn't actually
>true at all at this point).

A few years ago, the Wikimedia Foundation switched over to the Google Apps
platform, which means that most e-mail sent on the wikimedia.org domain is
now hosted by Google. Along with e-mail services, Google Apps also
includes Google Sheets, Google Docs, etc., which the Wikimedia Foundation
now regularly makes use of. The Wikimedia Foundation is quite literally
pumping a large portion of its data directly into Google's servers. This
applies to Wikimedia Foundation staff, contractors, and Board members.

About a year ago, PiRSquared17 began documenting the relationship between
Wikimedia and Google: <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Google>. This page
needs additional expansion, but it already mentions the millions of
dollars that Google has directly donated to the Wikimedia Foundation and
related organizations. (It's not quite clear how Google funded Wikidata,
possibly via Wikimedia Deutschland.)

Before you try to dismiss the people with concerns about the relationship
between Wikimedia and Google as conspiracy theorists and quacks, perhaps
we should first have a full accounting of the tangled web that's been
woven. My suspicion is that if you or others put in the time to thoroughly
document the connection between the two entities, you'd miraculously find
more than a single concern about a failed project, as your reply suggested.

MZMcBride



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[Wikimedia-l] Transparency of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

2016-01-16 Thread MZMcBride
Pine W wrote:
>2. While I understand that some Board conversations are best held in
>private, for example conversations involving attorney-client privilege, I
>continue to believe that there is a misalignment between the democratic
>and open-source values of the Wikimedia movement and the limited
>information that the community is provided about WMF Board deliberations.
>There seems to be an assumption that full and honest discussions are best
>held behind closed doors so that people in the room feel comfortable with
>voicing their opinions. It seems to me that this is a doctrine which is
>contrary to the values of our movement, and I would urge the Board to
>change its approach. I would also note that many jurisdictions in the
>United States have laws requiring government bodies like city councils
>and legislatures to have their meetings in full view of the public unless
>there is a specific exemption for a subject that is to be discussed in
>private. These governments, in many cases, continue to function
>effectively despite the public and sensitive nature of deliberations on
>topics like budgets, land use planning, environmental regulations,
>appointments of judges, service contracts, and allegations of misconduct
>against fellow elected officials. The WMF Board should be a model of
>openness and good governance. Now is a good time for the Board to take
>meaningful steps toward aligning itself with our collective values.

It's pretty simple to get access to Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
meetings. You do it in roughly the same way that you get an appointed
seat: by donating a couple million dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation:
<https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Special:Search/Doron_Weber>. By my
count, the Board of Trustees has passed six separate resolutions to
accommodate the Sloan Foundation's request to have a Board observer.

I agree with you that the current lack of openness and transparency
surrounding the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is disgraceful and
antithetical to Wikimedia's values.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Advisory Board and Board-appointed seats (was: Beyond the Board)

2016-01-16 Thread MZMcBride
Dariusz Jemielniak wrote:
> I've been also thinking about revitalizing our Advisory Board - the way I
> would like to see it would be dividing it into (a) community (b) tech and
> (c) academic subgroups, available for immediate consulting and feedback.

As Adam Wight recently pointed out on wikimediafoundation.org, it's not
clear that the Advisory Board currently has any appointees:
<https://wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/104459#Current_status.3F>.

Relevant Board resolutions:
* "Advisory board" (2006)
  https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/98250
* "Amending the Term of Advisory Board Members" (2013)
  https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/98267

There were appointments made in 2014 that carried through until the first
Board meeting of 2015. There's no indication that appointments were made
for 2015 or now 2016, which seems to mean that the Advisory Board still
exists, but without any members currently.

The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees apparently discussed the
Advisory Board in July 2015 at Wikimania 2015 in Mexico City:
<https://wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/104529#Advisory_Board>.

I think it would be nice to get clarification on the current status of the
Advisory Board before discussing ways to improve it.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement about changes to the Board

2016-01-16 Thread MZMcBride
Yury Bulka wrote:
>MZMcBride <z...@mzmcbride.com> writes:
>> A few years ago, the Wikimedia Foundation switched over to the Google
>>Apps platform, which means that most e-mail sent on the wikimedia.org
>>domain is now hosted by Google.
>Are you sure? It doesn't look like wikimedia.org's MX point to google's
>servers: https://starttls.info/check/wikimedia.org

Yes, the Wikimedia Foundation switched to Google Apps around October 2010.
https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2010-October/108636.html

My understanding is that the MX records show where the mail goes
initially, before being re-routed to either Google Apps for most staff,
contractors, et al.; to OTRS if it's a particular set of addresses; or
elsewhere as needed. If you'd like more detail, we can start a new thread.

Careful readers will note that the timeline of the Wikimedia Foundation's
Annual Plan 2016-17 is living at docs.google.com, not meta.wikimedia.org.
https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2016-January/081120.html

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What happened on the Board of Trustees?

2016-01-10 Thread MZMcBride
Tobias wrote:
>James, a longstanding community member, is accustomed to how we do
>things on Wikipedia -- with transparency, an open discourse, but also
>endless discussions on talk pages. Other members of the board have less
>of a "Wikipedian" background, and are more accustomed to how things work
>in companies: board meetings in secret, focus on being effective at the
>cost of transparency, with a frank tone on the inside, and a diplomatic
>and collective voice to the outside.
>These very different conceptions clash, for instance when it comes to
>the plans of a "Wikipedia knowledge engine": some prefer early community
>involvement and plead openness, others, perhaps scared of the harsh
>criticism of early announced and unfinished products by the community,
>wish to wait with giving out more information. James is frustrated and
>tries to push other board members towards more transparency, which in
>turn makes them wary of him and they mutually develop distrust.
>The pivotal part of the story then is the question of WMF leadership,
>and the fact that there is a lot of discontent among WMF staff with
>senior leadership, as indicated by an employee engagement survey. James,
>being used to transparent discussions, pushes for a thorough and open
>review, and talks to staff members to gain more information. The other
>board members, perhaps somewhat in panic, think he will initiate a
>public discussion about replacing senior leadership and (perhaps
>inadvertently) will cause a major disruption to the entire foundation,
>so they decide to call a halt before it's too late and remove him from
>the board.
>
>This is what, given the information publicly available, is in my opinion
>at least one likely explanation of what happened. Please take it with a
>grain of salt, it /is/ speculation. I intend this to undergo the process
>of falsification and encourage anyone involved to call me out on what
>they perceive is incorrect.

Thank you for taking the time to post this summary. It's very well-written
and I think it appropriately captures what most likely happened, given the
available evidence. As for action items, I see:

* evaluate whether the Wikimedia Foundation bylaws should be changed to
make it more difficult (or easier) to remove a Board of Trustees member;

* strongly urge the Board of Trustees to be more transparent and
communicative, embracing the values that keep our projects running; and

* evaluate the process for filling community-selected Board of Trustees
seats, perhaps changing the seats to be community-elected.

Obligatory reference: <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Cunningham%27s_Law>!

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement about changes to the Board

2016-01-09 Thread MZMcBride
Milos Rancic wrote:
>Our technology is based on the concept from 1990s, implemented in 2001
>and slightly changed up to the moment. The only major technology which
>catches 2005 (Visual Editor) is in alpha or beta stage, depending on
>how harsh QA process would be implemented.
>
>Something should be done with that. While I would be much more happy
>with a social and gaming platform, I think anything towards technology
>innovation is good, as during the last 15 years our technology
>innovation was around zero. The most important Sue's impact on
>Wikimedia is financial stability. I expect that the most important
>Lila's impact on Wikimedia will be moving it from technologically
>passive organization to an active one.

I think we should have you use only UseModWiki for a few months and then
you can come back and tell us whether we've actually made any improvements
to our technology stack since 2001. :-)

In parts, our sites certainly look staid, dated, or even boring, but we
have a number of cool new features, with more to come, of course. Briefly
putting all of this recent drama and in-fighting aside, the most vital
part of the Wikimedia Foundation's responsibilities, keeping the sites
running fast, reliably, and securely, is being appropriately handled.
The world continues to be able to read and contribute to our shared free
content and for that I'm grateful. The rest is commentary, as they say.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF trustee Arnnon Geshuri and part in anticompetitive agreements in Google

2016-01-09 Thread MZMcBride
Austin Hair wrote:
>Having waited two days for any kind of meaningful response from either
>the Board or from individual trustees, I have to say that Kat's
>comments (unsurprisingly) nailed it.
>
>I mean, seriously, nobody googled him?

Since it doesn't seem to have been mentioned in this thread already, one
of the trustees, Jimmy Wales, has provided some responses on his English
Wikipedia talk page. He directly mentions googling and Google.

---
I cannot speak for the entire board. As for myself, I was aware (from
googling him and reading news reports) that he had a small part in the
overall situation when he was told by Eric Schmidt that Google had a
policy of not recruiting from Apple, and that a recruiter had done it, and
that the recruiter should be fired, and he agreed to do so. As for your
other allegations, that he "helped manage that collusion", the part about
some "ugly and humiliating" termination, and chastisement by a Federal
Judge, I don't (yet) know anything about that.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:41,
8 January 2016 (UTC)
---

In response to a request to further expand on Mr. Geshuri's suitability to
be a trustee:

---
Sure, I'll offer my views when the time is right. At the moment, I'm
waiting for a staff report and some board discussion to take place. It
would be inappropriate for me to offer a public opinion at this early
stage.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:03, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
---

There's also:

---
I don't think this board has any unhealthy relationship with
Google.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 08:02, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
---

Source: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/699004139>.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement about changes to the Board

2016-01-09 Thread MZMcBride
On January 8, 2016, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees issued "a
short statement on recent comments by James Heilman". For completeness'
sake, I'm pasting the text of that statement into this thread.

---
Recently, James Heilman wrote, regarding his removal from the Wikimedia
Foundation Board: "It had in part to do with me wanting there to be public
discussion on our long term strategy."
[https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales=next
=698553023 diff].

I wrote the following statement, which has been agreed to by the entire
board at the time, names below:

"The removal of James as a board member was not due to any disagreement
about public discussion of our long term strategy.  The board unanimously
supports public discussion of our long term strategy, has offered no
objections to any board member discussing long term strategy with the
community at any time, and strongly supports that the Wikimedia Foundation
should develop long term strategy in consultation with the community."

* Dariusz Jemielniak
* Frieda Brioschi
* Denny Vrandecic
* Patricio Lorente
* Alice Wiegand
* Guy Kawasaki
* Jan-Bart de Vreede
* Stu West
* Jimmy Wales

I would like to add to this, speaking for myself only, that the loss of
trust that I felt in James was in no small part due to this kind of
statement on his part, in which the thinking of other board members is
being misrepresented to the community and to the staff.  James apologized
to the board for certain actions which he has chosen not to share with the
community, which is his right.  He asked for a second chance, and the
board declined to give it.  My own preference, as expressed to him
repeatedly, is that he live up to the values of honesty and transparency
that are core to our community, and certainly that he not continue to
misrepresent what happened.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:31, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
---

Source: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Diff/698800759/698801403>.

Obviously a single mailing list thread can't and won't capture all of the
information related to this removal, but it seemed remiss to omit an
official statement from the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees on the
subject, especially when we have already included a number of other
statements from individual trustees and the Board in this thread.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF trustee Arnnon Geshuri and part in anticompetitive agreements in Google

2016-01-09 Thread MZMcBride
Brad Jorsch (Anomie) wrote:
>IMO, you should give credit to the Community Tech team. They're the ones
>who came up with the wishlist idea and did it, unless I'm totally
>mistaken.
>
>You could also give some credit to the staffers who originally proposed
>creating the Community Tech team. It wasn't a top-down proposal.

I think I've said this elsewhere, but the idea of having a "Community
Tech" team continues to strike me as very strange as it immediately raises
the question of what everyone else is working on. "What do you mean
there's a Community Tech team? Are there technology teams at the Wikimedia
Foundation working on technology not for the Wikimedia community?" Or put
another way: every team at the Wikimedia Foundation should be carefully
considering the needs of the Wikimedia community and working with it.

It's also really not impressive to create a survey and solicit ideas.
In my brief skimming, a lot of the proposals listed at
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/2015_Community_Wishlist_Survey> aren't
even new ideas. I'm happy to give credit when some of these proposals are
properly implemented, by whoever takes the time to create a plan of
action, write the necessary code, and get it deployed. But for now, it
seems pretty silly to try to give credit for essentially having a group of
people vote on Phabricator Maniphest tasks.

MZMcBride



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[Wikimedia-l] Changing the subject line

2016-01-09 Thread MZMcBride
Austin Hair wrote:
>On Sat, Jan 9, 2016 at 5:21 PM, Fæ <fae...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hello everyone, I would like to put out a friendly reminder that good
>> practice is to keep threads on topic within reason, and to create new
>> discussion threads for distinct tangents or complete spin off
>> discussions.
>>
>> "Community Tech Team" and "Lila's performance" are interesting, and to
>> be fair they deserve their own threads. If your email to this thread
>> does not mention the appointment of Arnnon Geshuri as a new WMF
>> trustee (see thread title), it is worth considering which thread it
>> ought to be posted under, or whether it is time to create a new
>> subject line.
>
>Not exactly coming from the source I would expect, but indeed, please
>keep your comments germane to subject line. (Starting new threads is
>entirely appropriate, and welcomed.)

Unexpected, eh? I'm not sure it's very surprising that the person who
started the thread doesn't want to see it derailed by tangents. And that's
fair. Though it can be difficult to know when to start a new thread. Plus
you have to create a new subject line (naming is hard) and there are no
do-overs (you can't move a thread like you can a wiki page). In an ideal
world, subject lines would always match the body content and I guess we
can strive for that.

I'm amused that neither of you seemed to follow your own advice here,
starting and continuing a tangential (meta-)discussion without changing
the subject line to create a new thread. We'll all strive indeed. :-)

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Something

2016-01-03 Thread MZMcBride
; and half of me assumed it was related to
Individual Engagement Grants (IEG). Luckily Meta-Wiki again comes to the
rescue: <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/IEP> and
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/IEG>. Maybe we should start selling
decoder rings.

Acronyms and abbreviations are fine, especially in a long document, but at
minimum the first reference should always be spelled out.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement about changes to the Board

2015-12-29 Thread MZMcBride
Nathan wrote:
>In any case, its irritating to see people providing cover for the Board's
>lack of transparency or failure to be forthcoming in a timely manner.

The removal resolution was approved on December 28, 2015, according to
wikimediafoundation.org. Unlike most Board resolutions, it was publicly
posted the same day. The posted Board resolution was accompanied by two
separate e-mails to this public mailing list (one from James, one from
Patricio) on the same day. What kind of transparency and timeliness are
you looking for, exactly? What level of explanation would be satisfactory?

>Why not let them make their own excuses?

Excuses for what, exactly? The Chair of the Board announced the decision
and other remaining Board members have chosen not to publicly discuss the
issue here. This is hardly unusual. Regarding the removal itself, at least
in the United States, it's fairly common for members of a body to be able
to remove/expel one of their own. The Wikimedia Foundation Board of
Trustees bylaws explicitly allow for removal of a member, with or without
cause. Unlike in older Board resolutions, there's a clear public
accounting of how each of the Board members voted (as opposed to simple
numeric totals). James posted that he will work with Patricio to provide
a fuller explanation of the removal. It seems most prudent to wait for
that. While this will sound trite, perhaps we could extend a little good
faith to the members of the Board, most of whom are long-time trusted and
respected Wikimedians and all of whom take their role seriously.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement about changes to the Board

2015-12-28 Thread MZMcBride
SarahSV wrote:
>On Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 5:45 PM, Pete Forsyth <petefors...@gmail.com>
>wrote:
>> With this action, eight Trustees with little accountability overruled
>> several hundred volunteers and another Trustee who literally earned the
>> most support votes of any Trustee in the organization's history.
>>
>> Any explanation of the reasons should be commensurate, in my view, to
>>the points outlined above.
>​
>James was elected by 1,857 people ​​and removed by eight.​ I hope an
>explanation is forthcoming very soon.

---
; Approved: Patricio Lorente, Alice Wiegand, Frieda Brioschi, Jimmy Wales,
Stu West, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Guy Kawasaki, Denny Vrandečić,

; Oppose: Dariusz Jemielniak, James Heilman
---

This is a somewhat interesting breakdown. I'm also paying close attention
to what James posted on this mailing list. In my mind, he's the person
likely able to speak most freely about this removal and probably is more
familiar with it than most. For now, he seems to have chosen not to say
very much. Others involved in the removal likely can't (or maybe won't)
say much more, which of course just leaves everyone else to speculate.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement about changes to the Board

2015-12-28 Thread MZMcBride
Todd Allen wrote:
>If he were in favor, it would've been a simple resignation.

Yes. We're left to presume that James forced a vote here by refusing to
step down voluntarily.

>I'm not sure why it's surprising he would oppose it.

Right, that part isn't surprising. But discounting the unsurprising vote,
it was a nearly unanimous decision (8 to 1). I have a good deal of respect
for many of the current Board of Trustees members and I have no doubt that
all of them understand and appreciate the gravity of removing a colleague.
This wasn't a close vote and to me that says quite a bit.

MZMcBride



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[Wikimedia-l] Fund-raising principles and strategy

2015-12-04 Thread MZMcBride
John Mark Vandenberg wrote:
>Some declared fundraising principles, which everyone agrees and
>adheres to, would be good.

We have:

"Resolution:Wikimedia fundraising principles"
* https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/55954

"Resolution:Developing Scenarios for future of fundraising"
* https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/98415

We also have:

"CentralNotice/Usage guidelines"
* https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/14516647

James Heilman wrote:
> 2) When is it okay to run smaller commercial ads rather than larger
>fundraising banners? Never. I would much rather see the WMF become
>smaller than to see ads run.

We already have advertising on Wikipedia. What if Harvard University, the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation
were willing pay the Wikimedia Foundation a few million dollars for a
short and unobtrusive ad campaign? It doesn't have to be Monsanto or
Coca-Cola buying ad space, it could be a like-minded organization that has
extra money and supports the Wikimedia Foundation's mission.

I agree with John that gift-matching is an activity that we should
re-explore. It's not unprecedented, as he notes. If a company like Virgin
were willing to triple or quadruple each donation received in exchange for
a small logo in a fund-raising ad, doesn't that merit consideration?

I also agree with John that greater efficiency, including smarter use of
volunteers, would go far toward a more sustainable fund-raising model.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] (no subject)

2015-12-03 Thread MZMcBride
Rob wrote:
>It was a photo of a cup of coffee.  It was a mistake that was quickly
>acknowledged and corrected.  Let's keep things in perspective, please.

Agreed. I'd much rather see focus put on Liam's e-mail about the general
fund-raising problem, the current solution to which is deploying overly
large advertisements on Wikipedia in a few rich countries for several
weeks. If we're willing to donate the entire screen space to an ad for the
Wikimedia Foundation, it probably makes sense to at least reconsider
whether a smaller, less obtrusive paid ad for a company or organization
would be better. I imagine many companies and organizations would be
willing to pay a premium for a much smaller ad slot, given Wikipedia's
level of traffic and the limited supply of ad space that we'd likely be
willing to sell. At what point is having horribly large and intrusive ads
worse than having much smaller and faster paid ad campaigns?

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fundraising banner (again)

2015-12-01 Thread MZMcBride
Bohdan Melnychuk wrote:
>Yeah ad is the word. We claim Wikipedia being ad-less but actually we
>are showing people stuff which only in deep sense is different from ads
>but looks exactly the same. Or, actually, in this case it looks worse. I
>really have a difficulty recalling a site which shows me so little
>content initially because the rest is covered in ads. This all went too
>far and I hope that Fundraising guys think of less haunting way of
>calling for donation.

Yes, it's definitely an advertisement. Adblock and others should treat it
as such. I don't think this ad is haunting, though. I'm a little sad that
when I clicked the Imgur link, I actually expected worse.

Sadly, other sites can be more obnoxious. Some sites have interstitial
advertisements that include auto-playing video. The Wikimedia Foundation
has not yet sunk to that yet.

Samuel Klein wrote:
>I think a more pressing response to this is to reduce the budget to get
>some breathing room, increase work through partnerships (which Wikimedia
>doesn't have to fund entirely on its own), and increase non-banner revenue
>streams.
>
>It's also key to improve banner effectiveness.  How nice it would be to
>have a composite that combines measures of the favorability of the banner
>among readers (most of whom don't donate anyway), mood setting & meme
>propagation, and the reduction in usability of the site (which may have an
>effect over months), against the immediate fundraising impact.  A banner
>that is 5% better with improved favorability among readers may be better
>than a banner that is 20% better but with double the unfavorability.
>
>There are thousands of worthy projects that have expanded their budgets as
>far as they could, then expand in-your-face banners as far as they can,
>and only stop once their sites are quite difficult to use.   It happens
>gradually (I'm looking at you, Wikia ;) but the result is the usability
>equivalent of linkrot.  Let's not let WP end up like that.

I don't have much to add to what SJ wrote recently in a related thread.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Redirect blog.wikipedia.org to the Wikimedia Blog

2015-11-29 Thread MZMcBride
Lodewijk wrote:
>Another reason for doing this, is to cover people who are actually looking
>for the official blog (please note that many volunteers also write at
>blog.wikimedia.org), but who simply confuse wikimedia and wikipedia - not
>entirely uncommon. blog.wikimedia.org is the closest this there is for the
>official wikipedia-blog and until there is a separate, official, wikipedia
>blog, i would be in favor for redirecting this url.
>
>I don't see how this would go at the expense of other blogs. indeed many
>cross-project pages such as meta.wikipedia.org redirect to the right page,
>because it is clear what people were aiming for when they typed the url.

Meta-Wiki began at meta.wikipedia.org. There's a redirect in place from
when it moved to meta.wikimedia.org. There's an unrelated redirect for
commons.wikipedia.org, entirely for convenience, I think. There are not
similar redirects in place for wiktionary.org or other domains.

I agree with you that the search engine optimization arguments are weak
and that redirects are cheap. Would you (Lodewijk) just want
blog.wikipedia.org or would you want the others (blog.wiktionary.org,
blog.wikinews.org, etc.) and would you want both HTTP and HTTPS support?

Amir Ladsgroup wrote:
>We already have some subdomains that are not related to language, biggest
>example: ten.wikipedia.org

Sure, but it's worth nothing that many people strenuously objected to
ten.wikipedia.org (and now 15.wikipedia.org) from being created where they
were created. Putting aside the questionable practice of using a numeral
at the beginning of a hostname, a lot of technical infrastructure assumes
that __.wikipedia.org is reserved for a language code (and for a MediaWiki
wiki). Redirects aren't as bad a violation of this assumption as a full
site would be, however.

>My motivation of this request is that makes access for people who doesn't
>know what's wikimedia easier. Everyone knows wikipedia but less people
>know about wikimedia and the organization behind wikipedia. I had to
>explain this everytime I'm invited by WMF and visa officer asks me "what
>is wikimedia?" it may lead to better recognition of WMF by wikipedia
>readers. I won't make a huge difference. Just a redirect.

The better comparison is shop.wikipedia.org (or store.wikipedia.org). I
think part of the hesitation with this request is that it's likely not
just a (one) redirect, you're likely talking about two redirects for each
domain (HTTP and HTTPS). And then if you want to support other domains,
you're talking about another twenty redirects, probably. Even more if you
wanted, for example, "blog" and "blogs" to both work. This is what
happened with {shop,store}.wikimedia.org. For a period of time, we
supported variants such as shop.wikisource.org and store.wikinews.org and
shop.wikimediafoundation.org. The list was culled in April 2015.

Anyway, we certainly have the technical capacity and capability to add
more redirects. We already support a ton of them (donate.wikipedia.org,
careers.wikipedia.org, textbook.wikipedia.org, etc.), the question is
whether we want to add a small number of redirects to the pile.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Redirect blog.wikipedia.org to the Wikimedia Blog

2015-11-28 Thread MZMcBride
Amir Ladsgroup wrote:
>The subject is self-explanatory (also I have this suggestion for
>blog.wikiquote.org and other projects as well)
>
>What do you think?

Hi.

Why? The request is self-explanatory, but the uses and use-cases are not.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] FDC recommendations for 2015-2016 Round 1 APG grant requests

2015-11-26 Thread MZMcBride
Dariusz Jemielniak wrote:
>On Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 2:37 PM, MZMcBride <z...@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
>>Or from a different angle: how is the Wikimedia Foundation budget
>>allocated? Does the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees currently do
>>its own direct allocation, bypassing the FDC?
>
>I hope you realize that the Board has decided to set up the FDC as an
>advisory body :) The FDC is making recommendations to the Board, it is the
>Board that makes the allocations. As of know, the Board has not decided to
>cede the WMF's initial review to the FDC, and it approves the budget by
>itself.

Thank you for this context. It definitely helps better understand the
current situation and why it is the way it is. It would be nice if we
could find a way to link relevant mailing list replies such as this to the
round recommendation subpages. It might just be me, but I feel like the
important background information is difficult for readers to grasp.

I realize that the Funds Dissemination Committee is advisory, but I
thought it had been set up by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
as "all large affiliate requests, including us," not "all large affiliate
requests, except us." It seems progress has been ebbing and flowing.

>However, I want to emphasize that even if just for symbolic reasons it is
>important that the WMF serves as a paragon for other organizations in our
>movement.

For sure. It seems perfectly reasonable to maintain the same standards for
yourself that you hold others to. This would likely include guidelines for
disaggregated reporting, I think.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] FDC recommendations for 2015-2016 Round 1 APG grant requests

2015-11-25 Thread MZMcBride
I should have said this earlier: a big thank you to everyone who worked on
this funding round. From reading the Meta-Wiki pages, it's easy to see
that there is a lot of data to process and audit and it requires a decent
amount of work to issue these important recommendations each round.

Michael Peel wrote:
>They are organisation-specific remarks. :-) The WMF did not apply to the
>FDC this round, hence why there are no amounts requested/allocated, or a
>proposal to link to. The FDC felt it necessary to include recommendations
>about the WMF anyway.

I may be showing my ignorance here, but I'm still confused. The Wikimedia
Foundation doesn't go through the Funds Dissemination Committee at all,
then? I see a note from the "2013-2014 round2" recommendations saying:

"For all future proposals, the FDC strongly emphasizes the need for a
complete proposal: the WMF should undergo similar procedures as other
entities in the movement."

Is it accurate to say that all large Wikimedia affiliates go through the
Funds Dissemination Committee except the Wikimedia Foundation? Or from a
different angle: how is the Wikimedia Foundation budget allocated? Does
the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees currently do its own direct
allocation, bypassing the FDC?

>It's worth noting that there are two meanings to the word 'project' here
>- there are the Wikimedia projects, and then there are projects run by
>the Wikimedia organisations (think of, e.g., GLAM or education projects).
>It's particularly the latter case that is most relevant to the FDC's
>work, and in this case Wikidata falls under both meanings.

Sure, there are many senses of the word project, but this doesn't seem to
answer the question asked. :-)  Wikimedia Deutschland : Wikidata ::
Wikimedia Foundation : Wikipedia, right? If one organization is expected
to separate out costs for its largest technical project, shouldn't the
other be as well?

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] FDC recommendations for 2015-2016 Round 1 APG grant requests

2015-11-24 Thread MZMcBride
matanya moses wrote:
>tl;dr: The FDC’s recommendations for this round of the APG grant
>requests have now been published at:
>https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Permalink/14803740
>
>The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) meets twice a year to help
>make decisions about how to effectively allocate movement funds to
>achieve the Wikimedia movement's mission, vision, and strategy. [1] We
>met for four days last week in San Francisco to review 11 proposals
>submitted for this round of funding. [2]
>
>[...]
>
>This round, the eleven proposals came from ten chapters and one
>thematic organisation, totaling requests of approximately $3.8 million
>USD. Ten affiliates were returning to the APG program, and one was a
>new applicant.  This round, one organisation requested a restricted
>grant to support one particular program. All other grant requests were
>for general funding.

Hi.

Apologies if these questions have already been asked/answered elsewhere, I
did try to skim this thread, the Meta-Wiki page, and its talk page first.

The Wikimedia Foundation has a section under "Organisation-specific
remarks", but isn't included in the "Funding recommendations" chart and
there's no amount requested, amount allocated, or proposal listed for the
Wikimedia Foundation. Why is that?

If Wikimedia Deutschland is required to separate out costs for Wikidata,
does that mean that the Wikimedia Foundation is required to split out
costs for Wikipedia and its other projects? I'd be quite curious to know
how much money is being spent by the Wikimedia Foundation on Wiktionary or
Wikinews or Wikiversity.

The report includes this note:
> The FDC is appalled by the closed way that the WMF has undertaken both
>strategic and annual planning, and the WMF’s approach to budget
>transparency (or lack thereof).

Sort of inline with the first question, but perhaps more direct: what
power does the Funds Dissemination Committee have over the amount of donor
money allocated toward the Wikimedia Foundation? Can the FDC only admonish
the organization, but not actually withhold funds?

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A personal note.

2015-11-20 Thread MZMcBride
Wil Sinclair wrote:
>Thanks for bringing me up, MZMcBride; should get a lot more people to look
>at those IRC logs I was hoping to bring to everyone's attention.

I'm looking forward to your posts about the current and upcoming Wikimedia
Foundation strategic plans. That's why you came on IRC, right? Not to
stoke drama and violate its social norms regarding public logging, but to
have an open discussion about current goals and future goals? Your
discussion seems to have started there and yet somehow you became entirely
focused on trying to advance some warped version of "free speech" in a
couple of IRC channels that you rarely visit. Re-skimming some of the 2014
threads that you precipitated, this seems like pretty classic Wil behavior.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A personal note.

2015-11-19 Thread MZMcBride
Wil Sinclair wrote:
>With all due respect, no more of my time will be spent on this forum
>whatsoever.
>
>I'm not at all comfortable with the direction that this thread has
>taken. If my asking earnest questions makes anyone feel "unsafe" and
>leads to requests to block me (yes, both things were
>mentioned/requested and can be found in the archives of this thread),
>then all the advice people have been offering me here is spot-on: I
>*can* find much more productive things to do with my time.

If anyone's wondering what happened to Wil, lately he's been trolling a
few Wikipedia-related IRC channels on freenode. Such productivity. :-/

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Superprotect is gone

2015-11-05 Thread MZMcBride
Brion Vibber wrote:
>In other words -- ignore the superprotect red herring! Please look at the
>documentation of the product process and give feedback on that, it's much,
>MUCH more important:
>
>https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/WMF_Product_Development_Process

Great news to read that "superprotection" is dead! Erik brought an
invaluable amount of good to Wikimedia, but that mis-feature was
unequivocally bad. Personally, I think it was more of an albatross than a
red herring. ;-)  Good riddance.

MZMcBride



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[Wikimedia-l] Histography, a visualization of history powered by Wikipedia

2015-10-12 Thread MZMcBride
Hi.

http://histography.io/ is pretty neat!

From <http://cargocollective.com/matanstauber/Histography>:
> "Histography" is interactive timeline that spans across 14 billion years
>of history, from the Big Bang to 2015. The site draws historical events
>from Wikipedia and self-updates daily with new recorded events.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimania 2017 Montreal - scooped by Signpost

2015-10-05 Thread MZMcBride
Marc A. Pelletier wrote:
>I, for one, am immensely grateful that you and your team (and Manilla's
>just as much) chose to start such a hard endeavor for the community's
>benefit!  I really wish that communications and timing had been better
>so that neither of your teams ended up wasting any effort too early (no
>doubt you'll be contacted for future years as both locations are
>desirable and your willingness to host is now known).
>
>I know that the steering committee contacted our team (tentatively, very
>early in the year) in part because they were aware that we were already
>fully set to host Wikimania in 2017 with the groundwork for our hosting
>having started in 2010, and most of our preparations still usable (and,
>I expect, an opportunity to hold the first Wikimania in a Francophone
>location played a part).  It's clear to me the steering committee
>dropped a ball in not noticing that both of your teams had started
>working on bids in time to communicate with you.
>
>That said, this kind of wasted effort is - from what I understand - the
>very reason why the process needed changing.  Even if three teams bid
>for 2017, two of them would necessarily have wasted the tremendous work
>that goes into preparing a bid - including the credibility cost of long
>talks with venue and sponsors that turn out to a miss and the morale hit
>of loosing in a bidding process.  I suppose I'm a bit "glad" that the
>leak occured before our team was ready to make the official announcement
>because - if nothing else - this will prevent that waste to have been
>even worse.

This reads a bit strangely to me. You seem to suggest that bids can be
worked on for many years: in this case, saying that planning for Montreal
started in 2010 for an eventual 2017 bid. However, you continue on to
write that it's wasted effort if a bid fails in a particular year.
Wouldn't failed bids be re-usable in subsequent years?

My guess is that sponsors and venues are capable of understanding a
bidding process, so long as it's appropriately communicated to them.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Collaboration team reprioritization

2015-09-04 Thread MZMcBride
Amir E. Aharoni wrote:
>Much more importantly, Flow very much does cover basic talk pages. You can
>write a title and an OP and get people to reply. This has been working for
>many months already. This is my definition of "covering basic talk pages".
>
>Even more importantly is that you can write a title and an OP and get
>people to reply ON THEIR PHONES. This is nearly impossible on the classic
>talk pages; on them you are lucky to even manage to read the existing
>discussions, and typing a reply requires extra finger-acrobatics. With
>Flow it's as easy as on Twitter. I do almost no coding for Mobile
>Frontend and apps, but I'm a kind of a volunteer mobile technologies
>ambassador in my home wiki, and good mobile support for talk pages is the
>#1 request that I hear from veteran editors with regards to using
>Wikipedia on their phones. This is another thing that Flow has been doing
>for many months already.

I think most of the points you raise here are true of LiquidThreads or
_any_ prototype of a discussion system. Yes, you get a reply button
instead of needing ":: " wikitext. That's great, I agree, but after
having watched LiquidThreads rot and then seeing a lot of time, money, and
effort put into Flow, I'm pretty dissatisfied with the deliverable being
essentially a very intricate proof-of-concept. I think not getting Flow
fully deployed to Wikimedia wikis is objectively a large failure to
deliver. Consequently, it seems most prudent to be asking what went wrong
and how it will be better next time. The underlying reality is that we
still need a better on-wiki discussion system and it now looks like
neither LiquidThreads nor Flow are going to be it.

MZMcBride



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[Wikimedia-l] Collaboration team reprioritization

2015-09-01 Thread MZMcBride
Forwarding this to wikimedia-l as it doesn't seem to be very technical in
nature, but definitely seems worthy of discussion.

MZMcBride


Danny Horn wrote:
>For a while now, the Collaboration team has been working on Flow, the
>structured discussion system. I want to let you know about some changes in
>that long-term plan.
>
>While initial announcements about Flow said that it would be a universal
>replacement for talk pages, the features that were ultimately built into
>Flow were specifically forum-style group discussion tools. But article and
>project talk pages are used for a number of important and complex
>processes that those tools aren't able to handle, making Flow unsuitable
>for deployment on those kinds of pages.
>
>To better address the needs of our core contributors, we're now focusing
>our strategy on the curation, collaboration, and admin processes that take
>place on a variety of pages. Many of these processes use complex
>workarounds -- templates, categories, transclusions, and lots of
>instructions -- that turn blank wikitext talk pages into structured
>workflows. There are gadgets and user scripts on the larger wikis to help
>with some of these workflows, but these tools aren't standardized or
>universally available.
>
>As these workflows grow in complexity, they become more difficult for the
>next generation of editors to learn and use. This has increased the
>workload on the people who maintain those systems today. Complex workflows
>are also difficult to adapt to other languages, because a wiki with
>thousands of articles may not need the kind of complexity that comes with
>managing a wiki with millions of articles. We've talked about this kind of
>structured workflow support at Wikimania, in user research sessions, and
>on wikis. It's an important area that needs a lot of discussion,
>exploration, and work.
>
>Starting in October, Flow will not be in active development, as we shift
>the team's focus to these other priorities. We'll be helping core
>contributors reduce the stress of an ever-growing workload, and helping
>the next generation of contributors participate in those processes.
>Further development on these projects will be driven by the needs
>expressed by wiki communities.
>
>Flow will be maintained and supported, and communities that are excited
>about Flow discussions will be able to use it. There are places where the
>discussion features are working well, with communities that are
>enthusiastic about them: on user talk pages, help pages, and forum/village
>pump-style discussion spaces. By the end of September, we'll have an
>opt-in Beta feature available to communities that want it, allowing users
>to enable Flow on their own user talk pages.
>
>I'm sure people will want to know more about these projects, and we're
>looking forward to those conversations. We'll be reaching out for lots of
>input and feedback over the coming months.
>
>Danny Horn
>Collaboration team, PM



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Collaboration team reprioritization

2015-09-01 Thread MZMcBride
Danny Horn wrote:
>To better address the needs of our core contributors, we're now focusing
>our strategy on the curation, collaboration, and admin processes that
>take place on a variety of pages. Many of these processes use complex
>workarounds -- templates, categories, transclusions, and lots of
>instructions -- that turn blank wikitext talk pages into structured
>workflows. There are gadgets and user scripts on the larger wikis to help
>with some of these workflows, but these tools aren't standardized or
>universally available.

I absolutely agree that existing wiki workflows need love. I think anyone
who has looked at various wiki request for deletion processes, for
example, easily sees and understands the need for a better system.

What I'm struggling with here is that Flow seems to have failed to
deliver. It hasn't met its goals of covering even basic talk pages and it
sounds as though further development work on Flow will now be suspended.

From my perspective, after over two years of development, we've basically
accomplished creating pages such as "Topic:P0q3m7vwysdezd2m" (I wish I
were kidding, that's an actual page title) on development wikis such as
mediawiki.org. This is a pretty bleak outcome, in my opinion.

Given the failure in addressing basic talk pages, why would anyone trust
the Collaboration team to work on and improve more complex workflows? I
don't see a track record of success or, alternately, a good explanation
for why the previous work has failed and what will be better next time.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Superprotect's first birthday

2015-08-13 Thread MZMcBride
Pine W wrote:
*Superprotection by stewards of legally or technically sensitive pages, to
prevent damage caused by a hijacked admin account. The theory here is that
admin accounts are more numerous than steward accounts, so the liklihood
of a successful admin account hijack may be higher. Superprotection would
proactively limit possible damage. Admins doing routine maintenance work,
or taking actions with community consent, could simply make a request for
a temporary lift of superprotect by a steward or ask a steward to make an
edit themselves.

*Upon community request, superprotection of pages by a steward where those
pages are the subject of wheel-warring among local admins.

*Superprotection of a page by a steward for legal reasons at the request
of WMF Legal, for example if a page is the subject of a legal dispute and
normal full protection is inadequate for some compelling reason.

And nobody should be in the business of trying to retroactively justify
this misfeature's existence, in my opinion.

I'm pretty horrified to see that you completely ignored this and instead
decided to continue raising completely implausible and absurd scenarios.
In the case of a compromised admin account, did you seriously just suggest
that stewards would try to go around randomly super-protecting pages
instead of simply removing admin rights from the compromised account? I'm
boggling pretty hard at your reply here.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Does this article exist in your language?

2015-06-27 Thread MZMcBride
Romaine Wiki wrote:
Does your language Wikipedia have an article about Freedom of Panorama
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_panorama?

This public right is often not as such recognised, also often unknown or
considered naturally, but enables mankind in many countries to freely
publicize pictures of modern buildings and public art.

I think it would be good if Wikipedia has an article in many many
languages about this public right, so that the public can be informed
about this subject.

Does your language Wikipedia cover this topic?

Hi.

Yep, it looks like my language Wikipedia (English) has an article.

And https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q918113#sitelinks-wikipedia tracks
which other Wikipedias have similar articles. :-)

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Unsolicieted email from wikimedia research

2015-06-27 Thread MZMcBride
Filip Maljković wrote:
On Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 11:07 AM, Brian Wolff bawo...@gmail.com wrote:
 So as part of
 https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Increasing_article_coverage
 , it appears that unsolicited emails have been sent out encouraging
 people to translated articles into needed languages.

 I am all for improving article coverage, etc, but I'm concerned about
 the use of user account emails to send unsolicited mail that the user
 has not opted into. I think use of user email addresses for purposes
 other than the user has agreed to, is not ok.

I'm not really fazed by the fact that emails were unsolicited, but by the
fact that I got it in French. I don't know whether that was a glitch or a
conscious decision, but my knowledge of French is somewhere around fr-0.1,
and it made no sense to me why I got it in a language other than English.
:)

I tend to agree with Brian. I'm not sure spamming people to create
articles is a reasonable approach. I'm also not sure how it's appropriate
to opt users in to an experiment without their consent.

Like Filip, I was confused why I received an e-mail in French. I actually
figured it had something to do with imported edits, but I hadn't
investigated what the e-mail was about.

The text of the e-mail I received is pasted below.

MZMcBride




Bonjour MZMcBride,

L’équipe Recherche de la Fondation Wikimédia (Wikimedia Research)
travaille actuellement sur l’identification d’articles populaires et
importants[1] dans certaines langues du projet Wikipédia qui n’existent
pas encore sur le Wikipédia francophone. Les cinq articles suivants
existent dans la version anglophone de Wikipédia et sont considérés comme
étant importants pour les autres langues du projet. Au vu de votre
historique de contribution à Wikipédia, nous pensons que vous êtes un(e)
excellent candidat(e) pour contribuer à ces articles. Démarrer la création
de l'un de ces articles serait un premier pas considérable en vue
d'élargir les connaissances disponibles en français.[2]

Domain privacy 
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:ContentTranslation?campaign=frwiki-r
ecommenderto=frfrom=enpage=Domain_privacy

Zango (company) 
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:ContentTranslation?campaign=frwiki-r
ecommenderto=frfrom=enpage=Zango_(company)

Closed platform 
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:ContentTranslation?campaign=frwiki-r
ecommenderto=frfrom=enpage=Closed_platform

Criticism of Second Life
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:ContentTranslation?campaign=frwiki-r
ecommenderto=frfrom=enpage=Criticism_of_Second_Life

Online producer 
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:ContentTranslation?campaign=frwiki-r
ecommenderto=frfrom=enpage=Online_producer

Nous vous remercions d'avance pour votre aide.[3][4]

Equipe de Recherche
Fondation Wikimédia
149 New Montgomery Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA, 94105
415.839.6885 (Office)

1. Nous identifions les articles importants et populaires grâce à un
algorithme. Cette sélection d'articles peut être un résultat personnalisé
ou aléatoire. Vous pouvez en apprendre davantage sur la personnalisation
et les méthodes utilisées pour trouver les articles importants à cette
adresse 
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Increasing_article_coverage#Metho
dology.
2. Les liens pointent vers l’outil de traduction de Wikipédia
(ContentTranslation Tool). Cet outil est en cours de développement par
l’équipe Language Engineering de la fondation (pour l’instant en version
beta dans certaines langues). En savoir plus:
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Content_translation.
3. Si vous désirez plus d’informations sur ce projet de recherche, vous
pouvez lire cette page
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Increasing_article_coverage (en
anglais), et nous en parler sur sa page de discussion
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research_talk:Increasing_article_coverage
 (en anglais de préférence, même si nous trouverons certainement un
traducteur si vous nous écrivez en français :).
4. Votre avis est important pour nous. Faites nous part de vos impressions
par courriel à l’adresse recommender-feedb...@wikimedia.org.



Si vous ne souhaitez plus recevoir de courriel de Wikimedia Research,
merci d’envoyer un courriel ayant pour sujet unsubscribe à l’adresse
recommender-feedb...@wikimedia.org.



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

2015-06-23 Thread MZMcBride
MZMcBride wrote:
http://nyti.ms/1Bl9VpB

This story about an art exhibit opening in New York on Thursday is pretty
neat. A Wikipedian has been working for years to create a print version of
Wikipedia, described as half utilitarian data visualization project, half
absurdist poetic gesture. Hopefully we'll have photos of the project on
Wikimedia Commons soon.

Victor Grigas delivered! :D

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Print_Wikipedia


Someone also reminded me that xkcd's What If? covered a variant of this
topic in Updating a Printed Wikipedia https://what-if.xkcd.com/59/.

MZMcBride



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[Wikimedia-l] Can Wikipedia Survive? op-ed

2015-06-21 Thread MZMcBride
Hi.

This op-ed by Andrew Lih appeared in today's New York Times. I'm sending
it here in case anyone is interested in reading or discussing it. I
enjoyed the piece; congrats to Mr. Lih on getting this published!

MZMcBride



http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/opinion/can-wikipedia-survive.html

Can Wikipedia Survive?
By Andrew Lih
June 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — WIKIPEDIA has come a long way since it started in 2001. With
around 70,000 volunteers editing in over 100 languages, it is by far the
world’s most popular reference site. Its future is also uncertain.

One of the biggest threats it faces is the rise of smartphones as the
dominant personal computing device. A recent Pew Research Center report
found that 39 of the top 50 news sites received more traffic from mobile
devices than from desktop and laptop computers, sales of which have
declined for years.

This is a challenge for Wikipedia, which has always depended on
contributors hunched over keyboards searching references, discussing
changes and writing articles using a special markup code. Even before
smartphones were widespread, studies consistently showed that these are
daunting tasks for newcomers. “Not even our youngest and most
computer-savvy participants accomplished these tasks with ease,” a 2009
user test concluded. The difficulty of bringing on new volunteers has
resulted in seven straight years of declining editor participation.

In 2005, during Wikipedia’s peak years, there were months when more than
60 editors were made administrator — a position with special privileges in
editing the English-language edition. For the past year, it has sometimes
struggled to promote even one per month.

The pool of potential Wikipedia editors could dry up as the number of
mobile users keeps growing; it’s simply too hard to manipulate complex
code on a tiny screen.

The nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia’s operations
but is not directly involved in content, is investigating solutions. Some
ideas include touch-screen tools that would let Wikipedia editors sift
through information and share content from their phones.

What has not suffered is fund-raising. The foundation, based in San
Francisco, has a budget of roughly $60 million. How to fairly distribute
resources has long been a topic of debate. How much should go to regional
chapters and affiliates, or to groups devoted to non-English languages?
How much should stay in the foundation to develop software, create mobile
apps and maintain infrastructure?

These tensions run through the community. Last year the foundation took
the unprecedented step of forcing the installation of new software on the
German-language Wikipedia. The German editors had shown their independent
streak by resisting an earlier update to the site’s user interface.
Against the wishes of veteran editors, the foundation installed a new way
to view multimedia content and then set up an Orwellian-sounding
“superprotect” feature to block obstinate administrators from changing it
back.

The latest clash had repercussions in the election this year for seats to
the Wikimedia Foundation’s board of trustees — the most influential
positions that volunteers can hold. The election — a record 5,000 voters
turned out, nearly three times the number from the previous election — was
a rebuke to the status quo; all three incumbents up for re-election were
defeated, replaced by critics of the superprotect measures. Two other
members will leave the 10-member board at the end of this year. Meanwhile,
the foundation’s new executive director, Lila Tretikov, has been hiring
developers from the world of open-source technology, and their lack of
experience with Wikipedia content has concerned some veterans.

Could the pressure from mobile, and the internal tensions, tear Wikipedia
apart? A world without it seems unimaginable, but consider the fate of
other online communities. Founded in 1985, at the dawn of the Internet,
the Well, the self-proclaimed “birthplace of the online community
movement,” hosted an influential cast of dot-com luminaries on its
electronic bulletin board discussion forums. By 1995, it was in steep
decline, and today it is a shell of its former self. Blogging, celebrated
a decade ago as pioneering an exciting new form of personal writing, has
decreased significantly in the social-media age.

These are existential challenges, but they can still be addressed. There
is no other significant alternative to Wikipedia, and good will toward the
project — a remarkable feat of altruism — could hardly be higher. If the
foundation needed more donations, it could surely raise them.

The real challenges for Wikipedia are to resolve the governance disputes —
the tensions among foundation employees, longtime editors trying to
protect their prerogatives, and new volunteers trying to break in — and to
design a mobile-oriented editing environment. One board member, María
Sefidari, warned that “some communities have become so change

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

2015-06-17 Thread MZMcBride
phoebe ayers wrote:
I need a break from thinking about things going wrong. And so per Milos'
observation that discussion here is falling off, I thought I'd start an
open discussion thread about things going right.

What's a cool thing you just discovered or are involved in that is
happening in the Wikimedia world?

Hi.

http://nyti.ms/1Bl9VpB

This story about an art exhibit opening in New York on Thursday is pretty
neat. A Wikipedian has been working for years to create a print version of
Wikipedia, described as half utilitarian data visualization project, half
absurdist poetic gesture. Hopefully we'll have photos of the project on
Wikimedia Commons soon.

Related reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Size_in_volumes.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] While Election committee counts the votes...

2015-06-01 Thread MZMcBride
Ed Erhart wrote:
I think you're overestimating the importance of this list, which is read
by only a small portion of the community. Many people in the wider
community have no idea this exists.

Sort of. :-)  In absolute numbers, of course the total number of list
subscribers/readers is a very small part of the total number of people in
the Wikimedia community (whatever that encompasses). But we know from
years of experience both in the Wikimedia community and elsewhere that
even seemingly large communities often have a weirdly small number of
unusually highly active people who make up the core (sorry, there's no
good term for this). If you do an intersection of _that_ group to
wikimedia-l's readers, the gap would be markedly narrower, I think.

Or put another way: in terms of general communication paths to Wikimedia
Foundation Board of Trustees members past and present, Wikimedia
Foundation staff past and present, and other longtime Wikimedians, this
list (né[e] foundation-l) has been the de facto medium for a decade.

This is not to say, for example, that lots of highly active wiki editors
are all subscribed here. People who spend a lot of time reverting
vandalism may not care to have this feed in their inbox. But the opt-in,
open, and public nature of this list is such that people who are (overly!)
involved with Wikimedia are quite often subscribed.

MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Priority languages

2015-06-01 Thread MZMcBride
Milos Rancic wrote:
On Jun 2, 2015 00:39, Benjamin Lees emufarm...@gmail.com wrote:
Won't get a project? Are you saying that new project language
 editions are only approved if the MediaWiki messages for that language
 are all translated already? (Maybe I'm misunderstanding.)

[...]

It would be useful for the sake of future arguments to have data how often
people access to particular messages.

Directly related: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T65416#1042471.
Though upon re-reading it just now, the specific wording used at
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Language_proposal_policy is actually
softer than I thought (it is recommended instead of a hard requirement).

MZMcBride



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