Re: [Wikimedia-l] A new Wikipedia fork: InfoGalactic

2016-10-10 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-10-10 6:41 PM, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:
That said, "neutrality" has always been philosophically iffy for an 
encyclopedia pretty much by definition: reality takes sides. 


To clarify what I mean in relation to that fork - "objectivity" (their 
second canon) is arguably a much better ideal to aspire to than our 
"neutrality".  Things either are, or are not.  It's our human failings 
that make the ideal impossible and an attempt at neutrality the next 
best thing.


So what we did is keep the dross alongside reality, and hope that 
references and a neutral POV would suffice to set them apart for the reader.


-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A new Wikipedia fork: InfoGalactic

2016-10-10 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-10-10 2:13 PM, David Gerard wrote:


"INFOGALACTIC: an online encyclopedia without bias or thought police"


Why is it people unfailingly mistake "no bias" with "biases that match 
mine"?


That said, "neutrality" has always been philosophically iffy for an 
encyclopedia pretty much by definition: reality takes sides.


-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] wikinews has a NPOV policy derived from wikipedia, mamamia ...

2016-04-30 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 16-04-22 05:04 PM, quiddity wrote:
>> > i hate that
>> > signpost [7] cannot be read on mobiles because of formatting.
> 
> Last discussed in November at
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Wikipedia_Signpost/Archive_9#Mobile_view_not_great

With luck, the work on https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T483 will help
a great deal with that issue by allowing media-dependent styling.  We're
now at the security review stage, which means we'll be in a position to
deploy to the beta servers soon.

-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] DARPA FOSSS programs of interest

2016-04-12 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 16-04-12 06:25 PM, Andy Mabbett wrote:
> Yeah, what have DARPA ever done for us..?

For the benefit of those who do not sport beards[1], one of the most
relevant things that is a legacy of DARPA - and certainly the one Andy
is alluding to - is that of Internet itself (née Arpanet).

-- Coren / Marc

[1] Which beards may be virtual, as befits those of us dinosaurs who
couldn't grow one if their life depended on it[2].

[2] Or whose marriage depends on not having one.  :-)


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] FLOSS for operations equipment

2016-03-22 Thread Marc A. Pelletier



On 2016-03-22 2:04 AM, James Salsman wrote:

Are the FreeBSD-based pfSense C2758 series in the Foundation's throughput tier?
[...]


That looks like decent mid-range gear, but definitely not the the 
hardware-supported levels needed to support operations.



What are the current Foundation throughput bandwidth requirements?


Big.  :-)  I'm not the best one to ask for those details as I've had 
very little involvement in the networking side of ops; Faidon or Mark 
would be your best bet there.


But, to be honest, I think this is besides the point:  I'm not arguing 
that specific piece of gear X or Y needs or should not be replaced with 
a possible FLOSS-only alternative; but that *attempting* to do so is a 
difficult, expensive, and manpower-hungry endeavor whether you succeed 
or not.


There are things where that investment is worthwhile - or even 
necessary.  There are other things where doing so is at best a waste of 
donors' money (especially for one-offs or accessory parts of what the 
Foundation does that impact how the work is done rather than the projects).


A good example might be our videoconferencing software.  The Foundation 
uses Google Hangouts a lot.  Nowadays, for bigger meetings, Bluejeans 
has been added to the list.  At (very) regular interval, someone in 
engineering does another round of testing of FLOSS videoconferencing 
alternatives, because it irks many of us that we rely on proprietary 
solutions - and every time to date the result is that none will work to 
cover our use cases properly.


In the end, there are three only choices: (a) pick an inexpensive 
proprietary solution that does the job, (b) make our own (or participate 
in making it), or (c) do without.  When doing without would prevent the 
staff from doing the job, that doesn't leave very many options.


-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] FLOSS for operations equipment

2016-03-21 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-03-21 6:15 PM, James Salsman wrote:

Is there a list of equipment that WMF uses without viable FLOSS
alternatives, please?


The switches and routers for one; as far as I know, high-end networking 
hardware is not available with Libre OSes, nor would the supplier 
support one flashed with a non-proprietary OS (as one can do with some 
mid-range gear).


And there is a fuzzy line about being "all-FLOSS".  Do you use servers 
with only open source BIOS and firmware on all attached hardware?  At 
best, that severely crimps your options and I'm not sure there exists 
viable alternative for /all/ required hardware.


The *important* thing is that anyone can grab Mediawiki, the dumps, and 
a Libre OS supporting LAMP and make the projects run.  Beyond that, best 
effort to always favour FLOSS when it gets the job done is a solid 
philosophical stance that is universally applied.  But, like most 
principles, it cannot be a suicide pact.  We cannot, as a movement, 
refuse to get the job done unless we reinvent every proprietary wheel - 
this way lies both madness and a tremendous waste of donors' money[1].


-- Coren / Marc

[1] For instance, a common thing that is surfaced is to home-spin 
software when the only FLOSS alternatives require either serious 
customization or maintenance; we *could* hypothetically hire enough 
engineers to maintain every bit of needed software - or even write the 
bits that don't exist - but that's not what we *do* (nor should it be).



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Who runs the Wikimedia Shop ?

2016-03-21 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-03-21 8:34 AM, Ricordisamoa wrote:
And yes, it'd be nice if the server side was under WMF's control too! 


Yes, and no.

The extra control is hypothetically nice, but in practice one-off 
services that are different from the rest of the infrastructure (as a 
shop would be, like the blog, OTRS, etc) tend to be *extremely* 
expensive and difficult to care for, and tend to be the very weakest 
points of the system (including privacy and security).


There's a question of lack of specific expertise, of multiplication of 
moving parts, and of limited brain share to spread around a limited 
operations team.  I think it's wiser and safer to contract those out to 
a provider that (a) manages this as their core business and (b) is 
responsible for maintenance and security.  (The blog is a very good 
example of how much improvement can come as a result of delegating to a 
provider that actually has the expertise and resources to run the service).


There are cases - because of our privacy policy or because of how 
closely things tie into the rest of our infrastructure - where bringing 
in a one-off service is the best thing to do; but even those cases tend 
to be inordinately resource-heavy for their relative size so are best 
avoided when possible.


-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Who runs the Wikimedia Shop ?

2016-03-21 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-03-21 8:03 AM, Ricordisamoa wrote:
As in [1] I'd like to know whether the use of Shopify is acceptable 
for a FOSS-friendly organization. Thanks in advance. 


While Shopify isn't FLOSS-only, they're a fairly okay place that does 
contribute to FLOSS themselves (mostly in the Ruby and Go worlds, that 
intersect very little with our own tech).


I don't think it's reasonable to expect that every external supplier is 
all-FLOSS.  For one, the movement would be pretty much stuck without 
hardware, networking gear, and power at the very least.  Not every 
service/provider even *have* pure-FLOSS alternative - let alone good or 
even adequate ones.


-- Coren / Marc


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

2016-03-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 16-03-01 03:57 AM, David Emrany wrote:
> What nobody is prepared to acknowledge is that only under Lila's term
> some of the most blatant and egregious instances of coordinated PR
> socking and on-wiki abuses could come out.

I was tangentially part of the investigation that led to many of those
things being ferreted out and I can tell you with absolute certainty:

(a) The Foundation did not in any way prevent those investigations for
abuse in the past (before or after Lila), so saying that "only under
Lila's term [they] could come out" is at best misguided.

(b) The single biggest help we have had in being able that kind of abuse
were the revised terms of use, that were put in place in 2012 and
started being worked on at least a year prior.  As far as I know the ED
had minor to no involvement in this - that was a long-overdue initiative
from Legal.  But even *if* it had ED involvement, it would have been all
Sue.

(c) The foundation has always given volunteers support when we needed
Legal/Comm help getting rid of significant abuse, for as long as I can
remember (At least since 2008).  The help they were *able* to give at
the time was more limited because the LCA team was tiny and overworked,
but they always tried their best.

So, nobody is "prepared to acknowledge" your assertion because it has no
relationship with reality.

-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What kind of ED would you like to see?

2016-02-26 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-02-26 6:39 PM, Lodewijk wrote:

I would suggest you discuss what kind of qualities you seek in an ED, what
kind of person you would be looking for - rather than specific people.


Above all, and foremost amongst any quality an ED should have is to be 
an *excellent* communicator.  I see the primary role of the ED as the 
facilitator-in-chief - it's a little insane to gather around oneself the 
best minds to do a job and then try to do that job oneself.


-- Coren / Marc

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

2016-02-22 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 16-02-22 02:08 PM, Pine W wrote:
> Also in the long run I hope that the Wikimedia Foundation and our volunteer
> community will emerge strong, resilient, healthy, and vibrant.

I've not always agreed with you, Pine.  Not often, in fact.

But in this I think you will find broad agreement and a strong rallying cry.

I think staff and volunteers will always be a little at odd with each
other - even as they are part of each other.  I wore both hats, in a way
even before I was staff - and will always be a little of both even when
not employed by the WMF.  But, in the end, we're just working different
tacks to the same heading.

Regardless of how this resolves - and it /will/ resolve - the movement
will perdure and we'll forge on because we all share that vision.

-- Marc


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

2016-02-20 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-02-20 10:36 PM, Lila Tretikov wrote:

Information asymmetry is a big issue. For example, in my role there is a
lot I cannot say, I have responsibilities to protect people in the
organization both current and former. So, for example, if someone is fired,
even for cause, I would not say anything about this person that may hurt
their chances in the future.


That is... downright brilliant.  Pretend to be caring and responsible, 
while at the same time make an underhanded implication that the people 
who left are villains and that you are a poor victim for being unable to 
speak the Truth.  I hope you choke on shame for having the gall to even 
so much suggest that pillars of the staff and community like Siko, Luis, 
and Anna left for any reason other than your "exemplary" leadership.


"Information asymmetry" is right, mind you.  Staffers have shown 
extraordinary restraint in keeping thing quiet and civilized so that 
what has been going on does not reflect too badly on the foundation and 
- by extension - the movement.  After all, as Ori so eloquently pointed 
out earlier, the Foundation is full of passionate and dedicated people 
who managed to do a great deal of good things despite all the "fun" of 
being rudderless, leaderless and without anything resembling a vision.


If you have a single iota of integrity, please leave now before more of 
the foundation crumbles around you.  Even if you were perfectly correct 
in all you did and everyone else was perfectly wrong, any supposed 
leader that has no trust from at least 93% of their staff should realize 
that - if nothing else - they are a bad fit and cannot possibly salvage 
the situation.


-- Marc / Coren


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Reducing the net cost of Wikimania

2016-02-18 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-02-18 7:18 PM, Risker wrote:

June-July-August is the most expensive period
for just about everywhere in the world; March, April, September and October
tend to be much less expensive in lodging, travel and direct conference
costs.  Maybe we need to rethink*when*  we are holding Wikimania as much as
anything else.


That is true, and availability of venues etc would be greatly increased.

The flipside, however, is that those months are not ones where 
*availability* for travel are high.  Most schools/universities are in 
session, and employed participants (those most likely to have disposable 
income to travel) are generally less able to take time off they those 
months fall outside the general "summer vacation" period [at least in 
the Northern Hemisphere].


It's not clear to me that a cheaper event fewer people are able to 
attend is preferable.


-- Marc

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

2016-02-09 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-02-08 5:53 PM, Ellie Young wrote:

The Community Resources team at the WMF recently held a consultation


I will join my voice to the chorus expressing concern and dismay at the 
completely ridiculous interpretation of that minor discussion - it 
clearly does not resemble a mandate to make such a sweeping change to a 
movement-central event like this.


[Obvious disclaimer: I am the lead organizer of the 2017 edition of said 
event so clearly I am not unbiased]


I've never been a fan of the old bidding process - having been its 
victim in the past and seeing the large amount of wasted effort and 
demotivation it must necessarily generate - and I agree wholeheartedly 
that the *process* needs to be reexamined.  But even *that* 
reexamination requires more than a couple weeks on a talk page with a 
couple dozen people involved.


Something of the scope of the changes that consultation is claimed to 
warrant, however?  Farcical.


Wikimania is the beating heart of our movement.  We should be deploying 
efforts to be more inclusive and place it within reach of a larger 
segment of the community, not chopping it up.


-- Marc


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

2016-01-22 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-01-21 7:08 AM, Florence Devouard wrote:
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.


It would seem to me, Florence, that the board has fallen into a very 
unhealthy pattern: when it becomes evident they have made a mistake, 
rather than own up to it and correct it they dig trenches and try to 
pretend nothing is wrong - letting things degenerate.  Ego?  Fear of 
appearing fallible?  Regardless of /why/, the effect is that they stick 
by a decision (I really hope) they know was bad.


And now they're doing it again with Arnnon, it seems.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Profile of Magnus Manske

2016-01-20 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-01-20 10:09 PM, Risker wrote:

Marc is not a member of the WMF staff.


[anymore].

But yeah, that was my personal opinion only and not any sort of 
staff-like thing - I was never involved in superprotect or its deployment.


I was hacking happily at Wikimania in London when I saw (a) parts of 
dewiki go insane over the media viewer followed by (b) parts of WMF go 
insane over the parts of dewiki going insane.  Hilarity ensued. My own 
reaction at the time, if I recall correctly, was "what an idiot" 
followed by "is [Erik] insane?  That is the single worst way of handling 
this".  Both were accompanied with copious facepalms.


-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] How To Recover From Having Made A Mistake [a reminder]

2016-01-11 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-01-11 1:37 PM, Asaf Bartov wrote:

"I neglected to look at relevant data before deciding to fund
Wikimedia Antarctica"


But, but... the editathon at McMurdo Station was a resounding success!

-- Marc

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

2016-01-04 Thread Marc A. Pelletier



On 2016-01-04 2:22 PM, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:

Off the record,


Obviously not - that was part of a different email I started.  :-)

-- Marc


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

2016-01-04 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

Off the record,

On 2016-01-04 2:08 PM, Pine W wrote:

[...] whether there will be another employee survey. If
there's a lot of dissatisfaction among the staff, the reasons for that
dissatisfaction would be helpful to know.


It would, wouldn't it?  Old numbers may or may not be as interesting, 
but results from a recent survey might be.


-- Marc


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

2016-01-04 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 2016-01-04 1:56 AM, Pine W wrote:

I agree that the turnover issue is a matter that needs some consideration.
But I think that issue is more relevant to the ED rather than the Board.


Wouldn't that depend on whether the ED is acting at the behest of the 
board or not?


-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] (no subject)

2015-12-04 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-12-04 04:14 AM, John Mark Vandenberg wrote:
> Funny how the first response from a WMF employee was that they thought
> using stock images was OK.

Please don't put words into my mouth that weren't there.  I said that I
didn't find it /concerning/, not that it was "OK".

My point in that email was that commons makes it ungodly hard to find
what you want, not commenting on whether or not the use of stock
photography is desirable.

Also, I don't work with fundraising and am not involved with the banners
in any way.  Even if I /had/ expressed the opinion that it was Ok to use
stock photography, it'd just be that - my personal opinion.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] (no subject)

2015-12-02 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-12-02 09:46 AM, John Mark Vandenberg wrote:
> It wouldnt have been hard to make a free photo of a coffee, or even
> create a derivative of this lovely CC0 SVG

I don't think I'm concerned about the foundation fundraising staff
deciding to use a stock photo - expedience and all, but I'm pretty sure
that had they known about that (absolutely gorgeous) SVG, they'd have
used it.

... which I guess is my way of saying "OMG commons actually *sucks* for
reuse because it's so hard to find stuff on it that many people no
longer even try!!1!one!".

-- Marc


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

2015-10-05 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-10-05 05:26 AM, Gnangarra wrote:
> I think we are stuck with Montreal and to change now isnt going address the
> problems this decision has created

I... am obviously in a delicate situation responding to this thread, and
specifically to that particular statement; but I think it's worth saying
this:

I am *very* aware of how much effort and work (in planning, making
contacts, approaching sponsors and suppliers, building a team, etc)
preparing for a Wikimania bid is.

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.

I am, of course, disapointed that *any* effort has been wasted by other
community volunteers, but I very much look forward the a future
Wikimania in either place.

I hope we'll see you in Montreal with no hard feelings - you will be
welcome here.

-- Marc-André Pelletier / Coren


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcement

2015-08-31 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-08-31 03:01 PM, Philippe Beaudette wrote:
> I've come to the unpleasant realization that for my own good, I
> need to step back and focus on healing, and then look around for new and
> exciting opportunities.

Godspeed, Philippe.  I've known you for all of those six years, and I
can tell you without hesitation that you have left a lasting positive
mark on the Foundation and community both.

Be certain to give us news one you are well!

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Board of Trustee elections

2015-04-22 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-04-22 11:54 AM, Sydney Poore wrote:
 I fully support allowing our talented and dedicated WMF staff to have the
 opportunity to choose the people who guide the direction of the WMF.

I'd like to add to this that the (pretty small) set of staffers that
would not otherwise have had eligibility to vote are generally in
administrative, finance and legal positions - all of which bring other
perspectives to evaluation of the candidates that may be valuable.

But, more importantly, they share our values and commitment to the
ideals behind the movement.  They wouldn't be working at the Foundation
if they didn't because our internal culture is - literally - all about
the mission.

Disclaimer: I'm staff myself, but eligible to vote as a volunteer.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF office location and remodel

2015-04-17 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-04-17 05:13 AM, rupert THURNER wrote:
 The only goal of a brilliant person in the this area
 is to get rich with his own company. I d curious to hear how you handle
 such conflict of interest.

I'm sorry - what?

I have no abundance of love towards the US society or its government as
a rule, but that's not a mere generalization - it's a poor caricature.

I can probably name a dozen American brilliant persons whose
contributions have permanently shaped the FLOSS landscape - hell,
created the movement - without even doing any research or thinking hard.

Berkley and MIT are the birthplaces of the Hacker culture and - last I
checked - they were American institutions.

And even if your gloss were true, get rich with his own company is
hardly mutually exclusive with FLOSS.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF office location and remodel

2015-04-09 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-04-09 04:52 PM, Lila Tretikov wrote:
 but it is also not for everyone as it can be
 isolating

I think that, at the Foundation, we are blessed to have several
opportunities a year to meet with our colleagues during events, and that
things would be much more difficult as a distributed team if it weren't
the case.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Net neutrality: since when has it had anything to do with price?

2015-04-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-04-01 01:06 PM, Jens Best wrote:
 I will take the time to explain you why [I believe] net neutrality
 is more than you suggest and why [I think] we need to be a
 little bit less starry-eyed [than I believe we are] when
 it comes to the reasons why telecoms are behaving sooo nice
 to Wikipedia.
 Also I will add some remarks about why [I think] a little bit
 more humbleness from [those I perceive to be] the we are the
 knowledge of the world-fraction would be appropiated in
 the whole discussion.

It would appear that bits of your message were accidentally elided when
it was sent.  I took the opportunity to restore the bits that were
clearly missing - no doubt you did not intend to express your opinion as
though it was fact nor apply it uniformly to everyone on the mailing list.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Not all pixels are created equals: introducing brand new Wikimedia France's metrics

2015-04-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-04-01 03:58 PM, Pierre-Selim wrote:
 This is only the beginning: next step is the measurement of cute pixels,
 encyclopedic pixels and amazing pixels.

That metric is all wrong, because it presumes that all pixels are
equally valuable.  Surely, you should be also assigning weights to
pixels depending on how much information they carry - background pixels
out of the FOV aren't worth as much!

Also, some historic pixels may be worth several newer ones.  Pixel
valuation is an art as much as it is a science.


-- Marc

Ouais bon, poisson d'avril?  :-)



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Introducing Kourosh Karimkhany, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships

2015-04-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-04-01 03:57 PM, Jens Best wrote:
 For me (and other students) going online wasn't cheap back in the 90s

Perhaps the date is the issue here, but is this some attempt at humour?
 Wasn't cheap?  Are you seriously comparing your student lifestyle
with the socioeconomic reality of the people that Wikipedia Zero is
aimed at?

Back in the 90s you could trivially get an internet connection for a
month for the price of a couple hours' work.  That you had at your
disposal a computer, food, shelter and clean water - let alone the means
to dedicate most of your time to study - puts you firmly in the
*opulent* category on a worldwide scale.

In most of the world, the price for the data for the opportunity to look
at an encyclopedia page is *genuinely* unafordable to the vast majority
of the population.  Being able to get access to information without
having to go without food may not be a consideration for *you*, but it
is a real concern for the vast majority of the population of the planet.

That you even dared make that comparison has completely drained any
credibility your hyperbole and zealousness might have had.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] New financing model for editations

2015-03-19 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-03-19 08:19 AM, Fæ wrote:
 after that it started to become impossible to organize an editathon
 without first having an employee agreeing it

That seems...  wrong.

For one, that experience may be WMUK's but it's certainly far from
universal.  WMCA organizes monthly editathons in Montréal, at the very
least, at zero cost.  (They are organized/moderated by volunteers and
the venue is provided at no cost by the Bibilothèque et Archive
Nationale du Québec).  I've never attended, but I'm told that they are
fairly popular and well-liked.

If WMUK /chose/ do have a more structured (and more expensive) framework
to organize similar events themselves, it in no way prevents volunteers
or other organisms to do so without a penny of Foundation (or chapter)
funding.

I have no idea what this thread is trying to achieve.  A new financing
model for editathons makes no sense givent that there isn't /a/
financing model to replace.  There are as many financing schemes and
organizational scopes as there are editathons.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 2015 Strategy/Community consultation on the Wikipedia for children idea

2015-03-18 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 15-03-18 03:09 AM, Mathias Damour wrote:
 [from the Convention on the Rights of the Child]
 [...] this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart
 information and ideas of all kinds

Interestingly enough, to me this reads /against/ the idea of a
Wikipedia for Kids insofar as the intent is to curate, limit, or
restrict the encyclopedia to material or language apropriate for children.

For instance, would a Russian Kids' Wikipedia carefully avoid promotion
of homosexuality as their law now demands (to pick one salient example
amongst thousands).

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimediameta-l] An alternative model for grant funding

2015-02-25 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 15-02-25 09:37 AM, Edward Saperia wrote:

if they hit their
fundraising target  [...]


Your idea is provocative, and intriguing, but I think that - at least in 
this form - it is doomed to fail because it actually steps around what 
makes kickstarter-like crowdfunding work.


(a) people put forth their own money, and therefore assume the element 
of risk themselves.


(b) people who participate in crowdfunding do so with highly variable 
amounts - from a few dollars to several thousands - according to how 
much interest they have, and that's an important dynamic of the funding 
process.


(c) many (most?) of the people who contribute to campaigns of this 
nature do so for the perks, or contribute /more/ to the funding because 
of the perks.


Nevertheless, the idea of having the communities themselves fund some 
of the projects is intriguing.  I'm just unconvinced the crowdsourcing 
model is the one to gun for.


-- Marc




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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimediameta-l] An alternative model for grant funding

2015-02-25 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 15-02-25 11:15 AM, Edward Saperia wrote:

I'm not sure you've understood correctly. In my proposed system, people
propose projects and these projects are advertised on the centralnotice
banners.


Ah, I indeed hadn't.  My understanding was that you wanted to substitute 
for the grants process(es) but that the actual source of funding would 
remain the WMF coffers.


In which case I need to reclassify your idea from intriguing to 
horrifying in my opinion.  Not because I find anything fundamentally 
objectionable to crowdfunding (I do not, and have indeed thrown money at 
a number of cool crowdfunded projects in the past) but because - as 
FloNight noted - this is an invitation to formalize and cement systemic 
bias to an insane degree.  All the knowlegde - not all the knowledge 
someone is willing and able to afford.


Beyond which is the simple reality that many things you'll find no 
shortage of agreement that they need to be done are, fundamentally, 
unsexy and unimpressive.  You would be hard-pressed to make a workable 
marketing campaign for them, and quickly find that the boring stuff 
gets underfunded no matter how important.


I still think there is something to the idea of trying to work in more 
crowdsourcing to the project financing processes - being able to 
create a lightweight and attractive way of getting a vast number of 
community members to weigh in on the relative desirability of ways to 
spend money towards the projects /is/ a laudable objective.


-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Warning: Wikimedia-l Google Group

2015-01-09 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 15-01-09 09:26 AM, Richard Symonds wrote:

I believe mailman allows people to be added without confirmation
too!


It does, our list admins are just too polite to do that to people.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Most obnoxious banner yet

2014-12-31 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 14-12-31 12:20 PM, David Gerard wrote:

On 31 December 2014 at 17:18, Marc A. Pelletier m...@uberbox.org wrote:

How have you determined that this is not simply a bug or coding error,
exactly?


It is true that I'm assuming bad faith here entirely on the basis of
the previous bad-faith behaviour.


Then - setting aside the propriety of your characterization of the 
fundraising team's past efforts - the correct thing to do would be to 
report the obnoxious returning banner as a bug (including enough 
information to help figure out its source) and at least wait for some 
indication that it may not have been one before casting aspersions on 
real peoples' ethics.  Treating others like mustache-twirling villains 
rarely ends up being productive.


Assuming that it *is* a bug, getting it tracked down and fixed as 
quickly as possible so that it affects fewer people is the important 
thing; rage over the blunder may be cathartic but is not in fact useful.


-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WaPo Wikipedia's 'complicated; relationship with net neutrality

2014-12-09 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 14-12-09 08:45 AM, Jens Best wrote:

when calling the usual and established understanding of net
neutrality repeatedly absolutist.


Except that it is.  At its heart, net neutrality demands that there be 
no QoS or pricing difference to 'net access depending on the endpoint. 
That is, fundamentally, an absolutist view.


As I've said elsewhere, it's percieved as desirable by many 
first-worlders because we equate that as everything is equally 
inexpensive to level the playing field.


Except that for the vast majority of the world's population, it means 
everything is equally expensive and unafordable.


If we fail to understand the necessity to make exceptions or the 
desirability of making Free Knowledge /effectively/ available to the 
world then it *is* an absolutist stance.


-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Gendergap-I] Re: Fundraising banners (again)

2014-12-06 Thread Marc A. Pelletier

On 14-12-06 04:44 AM, K. Peachey wrote:

The view at 3200x1800http://i.imgur.com/IY28Tmp.png


... yes?  Your point is?

Clearly the banner was constructed to occupy the width of the window, 
and it's height will be proportional to that (taking into account font 
metrics).


I'm no fan of the current banners - if only because they place too much 
emphasis on money and not enough on other ways to contribute - but the 
current conspiracy theories have descended from hyperbole into complete 
discconect from reality theory.


-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WaPo Wikipedia's 'complicated; relationship with net neutrality

2014-11-30 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 11/30/2014 11:08 AM, MZMcBride wrote:
 I think it's difficult to argue that Wikipedia Zero is
 not, at least in the strictest sense, a violation of net neutrality.

That's perfectly true, but because the traditional definition of net
neutrality (and, by extension, the definition of what violates it) is
by and large overly simplistic and unrealistic.

Factors that should be taken into account but aren't include the nature
of the preferential treatment, its exclusivity (or lack thereof),
conflict of interest, and competitive landscape.

One would be hard pressed to argue that giving non-exclusive free access
to a public good to a population in need is harmful (beyond slippery
slope arguments), just as it would be clear that a media conglomerate
giving exclusive free access from an ISP they own to their media is
clearly wrong.

What makes Wikipedia Zero clearly okay, IMO, is that *any* provider is
welcome to approach us and set it up; and we require nor demand any sort
of exclusivity.  Whether they chose to do so is obviously driven by
their business objectives (publicity, competitive advantage, and so on)
-- but their business decision affects them and only them.  They cannot
hinder their competition from doing so or not as they will, nor gain an
advantage they cannot get as well.

So it's clearly neutral in the equally available sense of the term.
And it remains neutral in the competition sense of the term since they
are welcome to zero-rate any other service they wish alongside ours.

And, finally, it's also neutral from a conflict-of-interest point of
view.  The Wikimedia Foundation (and movement, for that matter) has no
stake in the competitive landscape of telco providers, and and they have
no interest in Free online encyclopedias.  They gain nothing by favoring
us over other educational resources, and we favor no provider over
another (albeit our immediate efforts do seem directed mostly at those
where the population would benefit the most - which is reasonable).

So yeah, this is probably not net neutrality as it is generally
defined - but I would argue it means that the definition itself is
inadequate.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikipedia needs an IDE, not a WYSIWYG editor

2014-10-25 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 10/25/2014 03:38 PM, Amir E. Aharoni wrote:
 (That's just me fantasizing; Parsoid people may
 have a different idea.)

Parsoid, AFAIK, represents marked up articles as very strict HTML with
Mediawiki-specific attributes - exactly what is needed to maintain a
sane and consistent machine readable and manipulable representation, but
about as human-friendly as a punch in the face.

The idea, of course, is that we want the program and not people to have
to manipulate the internal representation because, no matter how
simplified you try to make it, editing code still sucks for 99% of humans.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Chapters and GLAM tooling

2014-10-25 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 10/25/2014 01:50 PM, MZMcBride wrote:
 [...] that probably doesn't mean investing in Labs, exactly.
 Not if you want to have a long-term, substantive impact, in my opinion.

I'd like to address that particular recurrent canard here, if I may.

Things that reside in labs are empathically /not/ second-class citizens
by any stretch of the imagination.  Perhaps our attempts to emphasise
that Labs is not production were not clear enough about what me mean
by the distinction - and because of that people have gotten the wrong
impression about it.

What not production means is simply a matter of (a) scaling and (b)
service level.  For the latter, all it means in practice is that if
something in labs breaks not all of ops will drop what they are doing to
attend it as we would for prod.  It doesn't mean that we don't care that
it broke, nor that it is of lesser importance - just that the impact is
lower and therefore it is not reasonable to divert all resources to the
issue.

As for scaling, it will almost never be an issue until something becomes
used frequently by a large fraction of the projects' user base.  Labs
remains a perfectly reasonable permanent home for anything that expects
light or medium use - whether it's volunteer-driven or WMF-driven
(deployment-prep is an excellent example of a service that lives in Labs
which is used continually by almost all the devs and yet will never live
in prod).


Labs isn't a second-grade production for unimportant things; it's a more
flexible, more open environment for general tooling and development.  If
anything, it's /prod/ that is more restricted (in who can use it, how
complicated it is to be allowed to deploy there, what restrictions are
place on what is there).

Any GLAM tools would almost certainly live in Labs - whether it's been
developped by the WMF, volunteers or Chapters - not because it's not
worthy of production but because trying to make it into production
services would make development and deployment immensely more
complicated and much less flexible.  The question shouldn't be Do we
need to invest in Labs but How to we avoid the trouble of having to do
this in production.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia Foundation Audit - June 30, 2014

2014-10-15 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 10/15/2014 04:52 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) wrote:
 I suggest that you need a stricter definition to start with.

It's also highly disputable that the Foundation would be justified in
reducing the fiduciary care it must employ in its investment strategy
for a set of ill-defined objectives that fall entirely outside its
mission - no matter how agreeable those objectives may be to many of the
volunteers.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Board of Trustee elections

2014-10-06 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 10/06/2014 11:29 PM, Risker wrote:
 John, please explain what your point is here.  I mean really, picking on
 individual people who voted in the election?

Risked, I don't think Jay had a point beyond answering the question Are
there many staffers who vote that wouldn't otherwise have been eligible
with a community account by simply looking at the data.

My take from his survey is Not very many so it seems eminently
reasonable to simplify the criteria.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Board of Trustee elections

2014-10-05 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 10/05/2014 08:24 AM, John Mark Vandenberg wrote:
 I checked a few of the WMF admin staff who have been employed more
 than a year, and many dont look likely to reach the 300 threshold,
 even with wikitech and foundation wikis included.

An interesting question, I think, is /whether/ anyone from the
Foundation ever voted that would not otherwise have had sufferage from
the edits requirement?

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] First Wikipedia Article has been Formally Peer Reviewed and Published

2014-10-03 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 10/03/2014 06:58 PM, Michael Peel wrote:
 It’s great to see that this article has been formally reviewed, although it 
 is disappointing to see how short the author list for the formal article is 
 here, given how many people have actually contributed to the article over the 
 years.

In the corresponding blog post/editorial, you see them struggle with
that very problem and fail to find a solution that is entirely
satisfactory; they chose to do the obvious thing and credit directly
the people who have participated in the review process /itself/, and
link to the Wikipedia history page for the detail.

It's not perfect, but it's a surprisingly difficult problem to solve
given how radically different the editing traditions are (something they
go into details about themselves).

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] First Wikipedia Article has been Formally Peer Reviewed and Published

2014-10-02 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 10/02/2014 07:24 PM, James Heilman wrote:
 Hope these sorts of efforts will improve the reputation of Wikipedia and
 the number of contributors. I guess we will see.

Beyond this, and (IMO) even more importantly, it means that we are
succeeding at our mission where it counts.  That a Wikipedia article in
medecine is reasonably considered as the basis for a peer reviewed is an
acheivement it iself; that it /was/ in fact published is nothing short
of a crowning acheivement.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] To Flow: on featured article discussions

2014-09-15 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/15/2014 09:03 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) wrote:
 All the problems you mentioned I consider solved since about 2006 on
 it.wiki, modernise your practices.

... isn't that what Flow is trying to do?

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] To Flow or not to Flow

2014-09-10 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/10/2014 11:45 AM, MF-Warburg wrote:
 What do you propose to make talk pages easier to read and analyse?

That's a hard question, and I expect one where a lot of UX
experimentation will need to take place before we know.

But one thing /is/ known: it's going to be feasible iff the data is
actually structured like a discussion; not a flat document that may or
may not be perhaps parsable as something vaguely discussion-like.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] To Flow or not to Flow

2014-09-10 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/10/2014 11:53 AM, David Gerard wrote:
 Making entering text on a phone a process not made entirely of pain
 will be interesting.

I don't think it's the text proper that's the issue so much as the
navigation and (often) markup that uses a great deal of punctuation that
phone interfaces were really not meant to make easy to use.

Clearly, text discussion with people on phones is a known use case - and
arguably the primary use of those things nowadays - so it's not like
we're blazing new trails there.  Editing /documents/ is a different
beast altogether and waiting to solve that to fix discussions is, IMO,
putting the cart before the horses.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] To Flow or not to Flow

2014-09-10 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/10/2014 01:25 PM, Diego Moya wrote:
 [...] that allow editors and admins to
 detect and combat vandalism and remove BLP sensible material and
 libel; features which are not available in Flow as of today.

That is simply not true, at last as of the master branch.  Topics and
replies can be hidden, deleted, or suppressed -- the same things that
can be done to talk page revisions at this moment.

Indeed, the Flow equivalent is even superior in at least one aspect:
given that the actual comments are isolated and not differences between
revision, supressing a comment containing libel that has gone unnoticed
for a bit does *not* cause the history of the conversation to be mangled
because intermediate diffs have to be suppressed as well.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] To Flow or not to Flow

2014-09-10 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/10/2014 01:41 PM, Diego Moya wrote:
 Take a look at this deleted topic at the test page that was deployed at 
 en.wiki:
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topic:S214uoczkp47cfsx

As far as I can tell, you could see it because it never /was/ deleted.
I just deleted it, can you still see it?

I think what you see is the odd interaction with deleting the page
that a flow board lived at -- which may not even be a supported scenario
(or, at the very least, might need work).

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] To Flow or not to Flow

2014-09-08 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/08/2014 12:46 AM, John Mark Vandenberg wrote:
 While it may not be everybody's dream system, talk pages are quite
 usable, as demonstrated by a lot of people using them every single
 day.

That's... not a demonstration of usability.  Like many people, I found
myself using some random blunt object not designed for purpose to hammer
in a nail at least once; that speaks to the importance of getting the
nail in, not the lack of need for a proper hammer.  :-)

Let's be honest here; I'm /highly/ computer-literate, and I've been
using Mediawiki for some 11 years and I *still* find talk pages an
annoyance at the best of times and they can be downright painful if
there's anything like a large discussion in progress you are attempting
to track/participate in.  Between edit conflicts, increasingly confusing
indentation, signatures that may or may not make separation between
commenters clear...  It's no surprise that newbies are scared away.
Editing articles is already hard enough, anything that provides an extra
barrier to participation hurts - especially when that barrier lies in
the way of getting /help/.

Talk pages, as a mechanism, are lacking every affordance that users
expect of a communication medium.  And no, that X thousand people have
gotten used to their failings does not make them any better for the Y
billion people that have not.

But don't take my word for it!  Find random newbies, and ask them to try
the simple task of commenting on a discussion in progress without giving
them guidance.  They they flail around, or simply give up, remember that
it's not /them/ who have failed -- I'm pretty sure they've participated
in plenty of other online discussions before.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] To Flow or not to Flow

2014-09-08 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/08/2014 10:18 AM, Risker wrote:
 The most obvious one is automatic signing of comments, and it is
 something that we have technically been able to impose for years; sinebot
 didn't come into existence in a vacuum.

I suppose that's a philosophical divergence between us then - that
sinebot even needs to exist to me is demonstration that the system is
broken.

You say that discussion isn't all that much harder than editing content.
 Even if I agreed with that (and I do not, edit conflicts in articles
are much rarer than on talk pages - and usually easier to sort out),
that's not a *good* thing!

Participating in discussion should be much, *much* easier than editing
articles: encouraging newbies to seek help and participate in the
community *before* diving in anything but trivial article edits would be
an immensely powerful retention tool!

(Which isn't to say that editing articles doesn't *also* need a lot of
help - but that's a different project).

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] To Flow or not to Flow

2014-09-07 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/07/2014 01:57 AM, Diego Moya wrote:
 a major property of a document-centric architecture that is lost in a
 structured one is that it's open-ended, which means that end users can
 build new features and flows on top of it, without the need to request the
 platform developers to build support for them (sometimes even without
 writing new software at all; new workflows can be designed and maintained
 purely through social convention).

And yet, after over a decade of open-ended design through social
convention, the end result is...  our current talk pages.  Perhaps
another decade or two will be needed before that document-centric
architecture gives us a half-decent discussion system?

Sorry if that sound snarky, but I have difficulty buying an argument
that the current system has the potential to suffice when it has
demonstrably already failed.  It does no good to have the hypothetical
capacity for a good system if, in practice, it's unusable.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-09-06 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/06/2014 01:12 PM, Todd Allen wrote:
 But dismissing them by setting up a (rather
 ridiculous) straw man is not helpful.

I *wish* it was a strawman.  How else would you qualify:

And sadly we have enough users around who try to contribute content
without having time to go through the rite of passage, and we have to
spend way too much time reverting and rewriting their contribution to
make it appropriate for an encyclopedia.

It's more than a little sad to not even have had to /look/ for that
comment, it was offered in response to Gerard not even five minutes ago.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-09-05 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/05/2014 11:12 AM, Yaroslav M. Blanter wrote:
 On 25.08.2014 06:07, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:
 FLOW?

Last I checked, Flow isn't deployed except as experiments in a handful
of places, and is still in active deployment.

But you're correct that this would constitute a replacement rather than
a new method alongside the old.  A long, long overdue and desperately
needed replacement -- but a replacement nonetheless.

That also explains the very deliberate development and feedback loop.

-- Marc



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-09-02 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/02/2014 02:52 AM, Yann Forget wrote:
 OK, I could buy that [fixing image pages]. But then why not
 fixing that *first*, so that
 any MV implementation coming afterwards would be smooth?

In the best of worlds, that would have been ideal.

Now, no doubt I'm going to be branded a cynic for this, but have you
ever /tried/ to standardize something on a project?  Obviously, my frame
of reference is the English Wikipedia and not Commons; but in a world
where there exists at least six distinct templates whose primary
function is to transclude a single references/ onto a page and where
any attempt to standardize to one of them unfailingly results in edit
wars, that doesn't seem like a plausible scenario.

Perhaps the problem is more fundamental than this, and we're only seeing
symptoms. I don't know.

But I /do/ know that waiting until every edge case is handled before
deploying (attempted) improvements to the site is doomed to failure.  If
only because most of the edge case won't even be /findable/ until the
software is in place so that it can't work even in principle.

IMO, in practice, get it working for the general case and most of the
obvious edge cases is a reasonable standard; and I'm pretty sure that
MV qualified under that metric (and VE didn't).

I suppose much of my frustration over the MV keruffle is borne out of a
reaction I see much too often for my taste: editors yelling OMG, look,
image X isn't properly attributed/licensed/etc in MV!  Burn it with
fire!!! rather than figuring out why X's image page isn't properly
parsed and /fixing/ it (and possibly an underlying template that could
fix dozen/hundred others in one fell swoop).I'm pretty sure that if half
as much effort had been spent fixing issues as was attempting to kill
MV, its fail rate would already be at statistical anomaly levels.

.. but my inner cynic is also pretty sure that many of the loudest
voices wanting to get rid of MV ostensibly because of its failings don't
actually /want/ those failings to be fixed because being able to say
It's broken rather than I don't like it sounds much more rational.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-09-02 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/02/2014 10:35 AM, Liam Wyatt wrote:
 The key here in my opinion is:
 - clear communication about what state constitutes success (e.g. When
 80% of people who have opted in have STAYED opted-in)
 - clear communication about the progress towards that state (e.g. Showing
 the success factor in the little statistics on the beta features tab,
 and showing how close we are to that.)
 - only moving to the next stage when that state has been reached, (not a
 fixed schedule but it is ready when it is ready, not before)
 - making it easy to try, and withdraw from, new things, always starting
 with opt-in before making it opt-out.

This sounds sane indeed.  +1 from me, at the very least.  Note how VE
did pretty much the opposite of that, and that was a disaster (the
rollout, not VE itself).

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Let's fix templates

2014-09-02 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/02/2014 01:35 PM, pi zero wrote:

 (1) It's very easy to use.
 (2) it naturally promotes incremental learning.

I'm sorry, but both of those assertions are not only wrong, but
profoundly misguided.

Wikimarkup, and templates, are /relatively/ easy to use for someone who
has at least a passing understanding of markup, and at least some
familiarity with common computer science idioms (things like separators,
arguments, substitution).

That set of someones used to be a very high fraction of the original
batch of editors (who were, almost by necessity, highly-computer
litterate geeks).  I would be surprised if it represented even a tenth
of a percent of today's Internet users.

The typical user, upon seeing {{something|with|stuff}}, will simply turn
away saying something along the lines of I don't know how to program.
 The only reason templates were a success[1] is because the original
wikipedian self-selected by their ability to grok and manipulate those
concepts.

-- Marc

[1] Furthermore, even /whether/ templates were a success is highly
debatable.  If I look at the current mess, and the troubles caused by
it, I doubt it.  I'd argue that we did great things /despite/ templates
as a mechanism, not because of it.


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-09-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
Warning, tl;dr rant below in which live my personal opinion.

On 09/01/2014 08:00 AM, Craig Franklin wrote:
 fter the catastrophic
 aborted launch of the Visual Editor, complete with numerous bugs that
 should have been picked up in even a cursory unit testing scheme or
 regression testing scheme prior to being deployed to a productive
 environment, there's not a good deal of faith left.

That /was/ a bad botch; and (IMO) the reason why that happened is that
someone set a hard deploy date that should never have been set in stone
and then held to it even though VE was clearly not ready.  (It is *now*
at a point with rollout would have been plausible).

Clearly nobody at WMF Engineering is going to do *that* again.

But I also don't think that was causative in any way; the tension
between WMF holding the reins to the servers and (part of) the
communities was the same years before that.  ACCTRIAL anyone?

The fundamental issue is that the WMF is attempting to provide some
direction, and the communities do not want any (for various and
divergent reasons).

I side with the WMF in this; not because they sign my paycheck (I'm in
Ops - I have zero to do with dev work) but because I've been a
Wikipedian for 10 years and I *see* that the communities have no
capacity for change - or that what little change manages to gather
micro-consensus is local and often shortsighted.  The projects are
directionless, and it shows in the increasing stagnation and calcification.

Are all the attempts by the WMF at providing direction successes?  Not
even close.  Some of the things they tried ranged from merely misguided
to downright daft (also IMO, obviously).

The process *does* need community engagement.  That'd seriously
increases the value of what (and how) the WMF does things, and likely
reduce the number of bad ideas from the outset.

But the community engagement it needs is one that is done in good faith;
something which I have yet to see more than exceptions here and there.
It also needs fewer reactionnary hotheads.  Editing sucks.  Reading is
lacking.  Most of the tooling is crap.  That X editors have gotten used
to it and have implemented piles of workarounds doesn't justify keeping
the old shit around.

MV is a perfect example.  99% of the problems it objectively has (we
ignore here matters of taste) derive from the difficulty of parsing the
multitude overcomplicated templates living on File: pages to work around
the fact that a wikitext page is complete and utter crap at storing
metadata.  It's not an argument against MV, it's an argument for getting
rid of the horrid way we handle File: pages with ad-hoc workarounds.
The *correct* solution is to fix the damn image pages, not to remove MV.

How is it that the old saying goes?  'We've always done things this
way' is the most dangerous statement in any language?

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-09-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/01/2014 11:45 AM, Todd Allen wrote:
 On Mon, Sep 1, 2014 at 9:10 AM, Marc A. Pelletier m...@uberbox.org wrote:
 We've heard that before.

Oh, I'm pretty damn sure that the stick to the timeline idea isn't
going to get traction ever again.  :-)  But yeah in general recognizing
an error is not, in itself, proof against repeating it.  Errare humanum est.

 I don't think it's that the communities don't want any direction. It's that
 large, open projects historically managed by their volunteers are not
 amenable to top-down, authoritarian direction. All that will do is start
 fights, to the detriment of everyone and especially to the detriment of
 said projects. None of us are out a paycheck if we scale back our activity
 or walk away in disgust.

There's that, but there's also the (unavoidable) issue that Wikipedia
was revolutionnary, so it attracted a great deal of people who had
little to no desire to abide The Man.  The problem is we /are/ The
Man now.

 That's contradicted by, among other things, ACTRIAL as mentioned above. The
 en.wp community came to a clear consensus for a major change, and the WMF
 shrugged and said Nah, rather not.

That, IMO, is an example of what I call a shortsighted change.  It
*might* have been a good local change, in the end, but it nevertheless
was a fundamental dent in the project values in order to solve an
extremely local problem.  If I were the Foundation back then I probably
also would have refused to proceed without Licence-change-level
consensus and a long consultation process - at the very least.

Like or not, the Foundation is in the odd position of being the guardian
of the Big Picture; local projects are exactly that - local.  What may
be a good local change may turn out to be globally disastrous (because
divergence, precedent, etc).  But that's getting into a discussion of
federalism as a concept (and whether the projects are de facto
federated) which may be interesting in itself but is way wy
off-topic.  :-)

 Regardless, same again: That needs to be met with good faith on the other
 side, to stop just plowing ahead when everyone's saying WAIT, there's
 serious problems here!. Engagement doesn't work if it's the classic
 suggestions box positioned directly over a garbage can.

I don't think that's true.  At least, from my privileged position (where
I see much of the internal dev chatter from the sidelines) that has
never seemed to be the case.

 Change for the sake of change can easily be as dangerous.

That's true, to a point, but I can say with quite a bit of confidence
that nobody at the Foundation ever said Let's change this without a
solid This seems to be an improvement because behind it (or, at the
very least Y is demonstrably broken, we don't know what's the best way
to fix it, let's try Z.

They may be *wrong*; but every bit of development I've seen is based on
a rational desire to improve and from reasonable assumptions about what
will be an improvement.

And, honestly, it's better to try and possibly fail to fix than it is to
avoid trying and definitely stay broken.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-09-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 09/01/2014 12:57 PM, Martijn Hoekstra wrote:
 The *correct* solution is to make MV bail completely on pages it fails to
 parse, falling back to the known bad-but-sufficient behaviour, and maybe
 adding a hidden category unparsable by MV to the image, so that it can be
 addressed. If 10% of the effort spent on the long tail of template madness
 was spent on implementing when in doubt, bail much debate would have been
 unnecessary.

I don't think it's necessarily easy to even /detect/ that there is
something important that couldn't be parsed right; but this makes sense
to me indeed in principle.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-08-24 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 08/24/2014 11:19 PM, Pine W wrote:
 I have
 heard people say don't force an interface change on me that I don't think
 is an improvement.

I do not recall a recent interface change deployment that wasn't
accompanied with, at the very least, some method of opting out.  Did I
miss one?

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Next steps regarding WMF-community disputes about deployments

2014-08-22 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 08/22/2014 01:54 AM, rupert THURNER wrote:
 is the conflict not only triggered by a deliverable which was not good
 enough?

Part of the difficulty of that statement is that the very /definition/
of good enough will necessarily vary from individual to individual,
with a non-zero segment of editors defining it as absolutely perfect
and matching /my/ requirements exactly (and another, just as large
segment, calling for any improvement to X is a gain).

Regardless of one's opinions on the power dynamics of the situation,
or on how to best serve the short- and long-term needs of the community,
it seems to me evident that you cannot allow any one segment of the
community what amounts to veto power to any attempts at improvement.

So the difficulty becomes simply one of finding a way to adjucate.  It
seems to me that *any* movement in that direction is an improvement, so
long as it does not devolve in a simple game of numbers.  It needs
informed opinion, not popularity polls.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikitech-l] Superprotect user right, Comming to a wiki near you

2014-08-14 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 08/14/2014 02:36 PM, David Gerard wrote:
 So locally-editable site JavaScript, for locally-important gadgets and
 so forth, is in fact something that's needed.

That seems reasonable, but it's less clear to me that this should be
bundled with / part of the 'editinterface' right, at least as it is
currently managed (the ability to be able to change wording of system
message is only related to being able to change javascript/CSS by way of
hysterical raisins).

Regardless of which process, in the end, is adopted to make management
of sitewide customization to javascript etc, separating that from
normal editinterface seems to me to be prerequisite.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikitech-l] Superprotect user right, Comming to a wiki near you

2014-08-13 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 08/13/2014 01:31 PM, Trillium Corsage wrote:
 [...] that he has affronted the community.

I've spent no small amount of years involved in the various layers of
administrative/governance/meta aspects of the English Wikipedia and from
this I learned one lesson:

Whenever someone says 'the community' without qualifying this to an
enumerable set of users means the assertion is definitely false.

There is no such thing as the community; we have a huge collection of
communities joined loosely over a number of ambigously shared principles
that often - but not always - move in more or less the same direction.

Anyone who claims to speak for the community is - put simply - full of
shit.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] AFD survey

2014-07-16 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 07/16/2014 07:44 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) wrote:
 AFAIK deletion has
 never been a vote by policy on en.wiki.

No, but it almost always devolves to a vote de facto.  Interestingly
enough, that particular question (did you close discussions by counting
show of hand vs evaluating the rationales) appears in the survey, which
shows that they are at least aware of the dichotomy.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Interest in a community strategic planning meeting?

2014-07-15 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 07/14/2014 01:25 PM, Fæ wrote:
 Yes, some people may get scholarships to travel to Wikimania or other
 conferences, however my understanding is that this would be limited to
 those presenting.

Scholarships are also made available to attendees, specifically to allow
those who would not otherwise have the financial resources to do so the
opportunity to participate in those events.

Remote collaboration is perfectly workable; most of the ops team is
remote and we do the vast bulk of our communication online, though
email, on IRC and in hangouts.

But there /is/ value in the opportunity to connect physically with peers
and colleagues - even if infrequently.  Virtual participation also has
value (and I agree with you that we should strive to increase it
especially for big events like Wikimania) but they do not replace
meatspace entirely.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Community RfCs about MediaViewer

2014-07-10 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 07/10/2014 02:41 PM, David Gerard wrote:
 Anecdotally, (a) I don't mind the new viewer (b) I know a lot of
 people who've said they love it (c) I know a few who've said they hate
 it.

That also matches my anecdotal impression, with perhaps the added
apparent correlation between (c) and has been around a long time.

I keep saying - half in jest - that our editor community shows all the
symptoms of Stockholm syndrome vis-a-vis Mediawiki.  They have suffered
so long and so much at its torturous hands that they've now feeling
sympathy and affection under its choke.

 So yeah, real user surveys needed!

Indeed.  That remains a *hard* problem to solve, because any sort of
online user survey is necessarily suffering from, at least,
self-selection bias.  Any brilliant ideas from our metrics people?

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 24 TB for User:Dispenser on Tool Labs please

2014-07-04 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 07/03/2014 02:21 PM, John wrote:
 I'm in the process of working with Dispenser to get said proposal written
 and the ball rolling. However this process will take some time

Said proposal from Dispenser/Betacommand has been posted at:

https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Requests_for_comment/Caching_References

for comments and discussion.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 24 TB for User:Dispenser on Tool Labs please

2014-07-03 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 07/03/2014 07:12 AM, James Salsman wrote:
 Can someone please explain to me why the Foundation can't give
 User:Dispenser 24 TB on Tool Labs?

To make matters a bit clearer, Dispenser's current Reflinks tool (and
all his others) do not need 24T of storage (nor would toolserver have
had that storage to give him, even if it were possible). His demands for
the storage are for a new version of the tool he is yet to write that is
meant to actually cache the external link's webpages - a request he has
yet to actually make to WMF Engineering. He was never told no; he was
told (by me, inter alia) that he'd need to make a proposal with
explanation and rationale before we would commit several thousand
dollars of resources towards an unspecified, future project of his
(especially one that is likely to need Legal to look into).

That he has not in fact moved his existing tools to Tool Labs is
unrelated to this; there is no technical impediment to him running his
tools in Labs today if he chooses to.

Also, 24T is a significant chunk of the space available to Labs in
general; storage is nowhere near as inexpensive in our context as would
be with off-the-shelf customer-grade disks.  There's nothing that
prevents us from allocating significant resources to a project that
needs it (to wit: open street maps tile generator) but we're not going
to do that site unseen and without supervision.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 24 TB for User:Dispenser on Tool Labs please

2014-07-03 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 07/03/2014 07:03 PM, Pete Forsyth wrote:
 Is Reftools FOSS? Is the source code available? If so, why isn't somebody
 else just migrating it to WMFlabs, and what can be done to help that happen?

No, it is not, and Dispenser has explicitly stated that nobody was
allowed to run it.

In particular, someone already /had/ moved it (I am told about 30m of
work) but Dispenser requested it disabled.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open Letter to Lila Regarding Access to Non-Public Information Policy

2014-06-29 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 06/29/2014 03:19 PM, Pine W wrote:
 If you or someone else can suggest reasonable ways to reach 90% confidence
 that identity documents are genuine and that identification information
 will not be compromised while in transit or while at WMF, then I think it
 makes sense to require identification. But so far I am not convinced that
 we can reach either of those thresholds and it sounds like WMF has reached
 the same conclusion.

I'm not privvy to that discussion, but I'd expect that [...] that does
not unduly exclude valuable volunteers is also an implicit requirement
of any identification method considered.

Even if you /could/ develop a mechanism by which we had safe and
reliable identification of functionnaries, it'd be worthless if most (or
even just many) of the volunteers we had were unable to avail themselves
of it because of social or geographical constraints.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Stop the New Privacy Policy until Lila is Thoroughly Briefed on It, Countdown 14 Hours

2014-06-06 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 06/06/2014 06:14 AM, Andy Mabbett wrote:
 Regardless of the merits of the policy, which others have addressed,
 and with all due respect to Lila, her arrival has no bearing on this.

And, unless I am mistaken, adoption of the policy was an act of the
Board of Trustees who are, quite literally, Lila's boss.  :-)

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] [PRESS RELEASE] Airtel Offers Nigerians Free Access to Wikipedia

2014-06-04 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 06/04/2014 02:36 AM, rupert THURNER wrote:
 @labs
 Could you please provide a reference why labs can be misused?

The problem with Zero-rating (all of) labs is that there is no
constraint on the actual nature of the content that is provided there.

While we /do/ have rules about what is and is not permissible on labs,
and most of what is allowed should be okay to zero-rate alongside the
projects, it's fairly easy to cheat your way around it and construct a
workaround to access other services/websites/whatever which is what the
telco providers would be concerned about.

That said, I could see a plausible future scenario where a carefully
curated /subset/ of labs could be made available from the zero range;
but I don't expect making labs in general zero-rated is possible.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Increase participation [WAS: The first three weeks]

2014-06-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 06/01/2014 07:13 AM, edward wrote:
 Which explains the gender bias, yes?

At least in large part; Risker explained it more eloquently than I.
There is a bias against women because the skillsets currently useful to
be able to edit wikitext (programming, heavy markup languages) are more
common in professions where women are underrepresented.

I didn't mean to imply that women were less skilled, but that the pool
of potentially skilled editors had much fewer women in it than men.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Increase participation [WAS: The first three weeks]

2014-05-31 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/31/2014 08:27 PM, James Salsman wrote:
 Individual editors' skill with wikitext should be independent of
 almost all of the systemic biases from which we suffer [...]

Seriously?

I have (non-CS) engineer friends that, upon hitting that edit button,
basically went Gak!  No way!

Wikitext resitricts editing to pretty much only computer science
professionals, highly computer-literate professionals (which excludes
most of Academia -- have you ever done IT support for a university?),
and westerners with enough leisure time to learn it the hard way.

This is, optimistically, 1-2% of the world, only a small fraction of
which are women.

There's no way to *not* have a catastrophic systemic bias with those
demographics that pretty much excludes the vast majority of academia,
most cultures, and selects strongly against women.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] [PRESS RELEASE] Airtel Offers Nigerians Free Access to Wikipedia

2014-05-29 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/29/2014 03:21 PM, Tilman Bayer wrote:
 *Airtel Offers Nigerians Free Access to Wikipedia*

Yeay!  Grats Zero team for yet another victory bringing Free knowledge
to all people!

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] [PRESS RELEASE] Airtel Offers Nigerians Free Access to Wikipedia

2014-05-29 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/29/2014 04:55 PM, rupert THURNER wrote:
 another sad day, wikimedia foundation as the vicarious servant of the
 telecom industry on its way destroying net neutrality.

I would *really* like to hear your reasoning on this, given that there
is absolutely nothing that prevents any telco provider from zero-rating
Wikipedia.  Net neutrality doesn't even enter into it.

What *does* enter into it, however, is that literally /millions/ more
people now have free access to Wikipedia that could not before afford it.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] [PRESS RELEASE] Airtel Offers Nigerians Free Access to Wikipedia

2014-05-29 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/29/2014 05:24 PM, Jens Best wrote:
 A noble cause
 doesn't necessarily make breaking an important principle unproblematic.

In my opinion, if the definition of the principle makes the obviously
perverse conclusion that a beneficial thing like giving access to
educational resources for free to the world's least economically
fortunate people a bad thing, then the definition is obviously broken.

 It could be the time to start talking
 globally about an in-the-future exit strategy on the surely noble
 initiative e.g. when certain milestones are reached in participating
 countries/regions.

So you're telling me that there is a point where we can say Oh, you
can't afford access?  Too bad. and it's not a bad thing because some
/other/ metric has been reached?

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Increase participation [WAS: The first three weeks]

2014-05-29 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/29/2014 08:57 PM, James Salsman wrote:
 but it was misplaced because being able to figure out wikitext
 is an excellent attribute in new editors

I think that statement fails on two aspects: for one, saying that the
enthusiasm 'was misplaced' is rather premature as VE itself is rather
incomplete - we do not yet know its potential.

Secondly, and more importantly in my mind, being able to figure out
wikitext might be a good attribute, but making it a requirement pretty
much sacrifices any hope we have of getting rid of our systemic bias.
The vast majority of the planet cannot - or will not - have the time and
resources to learn an arcane and overcomplicated mishmash of markup
languages; yet many of those have knowledge and skill to share.

In 2004, when articles were mostly unformatted, that argument made
sense.  Most anyone with minimal computer skills (and that's already a
very restricted slice of the population) could edit a page to fix a typo
or add a statement or two without much difficulty.

Nowadays?  Not so much.  For the untrained eye, even finding the glaring
typo you saw in a reference is nearly impossible after you hit the edit
button.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] [PRESS RELEASE] Airtel Offers Nigerians Free Access to Wikipedia

2014-05-29 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/29/2014 09:25 PM, John Mark Vandenberg wrote:
 If not, the Telcos are making a loss.
 Why?

I should expect because they expect the goodwill they earn doing so will
turn people into paying customers.  Indeed, some of them have been
rather explicit in their expectation that as their customers grow up and
become more affluent, they'll remember the provider that gave them a
hand with free access to Wikipedia.

It *is* good publicity for them.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] A personal note.

2014-05-28 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/28/2014 08:59 AM, Fæ wrote:
 A curiosity that only manifested
 itself shortly after the public announcement of your employment by the
 Foundation board.

In all fairness, Fæ, if my spouse had been hired as the leader of a very
visible and significant business or nonprofit, I too would find myself
interested in what it is, what its values are, and how it goes about
things even if I had been previously unaware or uninterested in it.

So that Wil's interest manifested around the time Lila was announced as
the next ED seems to me to be perfectly natural, even if I have
expressed serious concerns about *how* that interest was expressed.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] About Wikipedia medical entries

2014-05-27 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/27/2014 09:44 AM, Stevie Benton wrote:
 American Osteopathic Association

I'm not an expert on the latest woo-woo, but isn't Osteopathy one of the
numerous faith-based 'medecine'?

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] About Wikipedia medical entries

2014-05-27 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/27/2014 10:18 AM, Martijn Hoekstra wrote:
 From what I remember from it is that
 what is called Osteopathy in the UK isn't the same thing that's called
 Osteopathy in the US

Ah, that explains it.  :-)

Regardless, Don't diagnose yourself with Wikipedia seems to be
infinitely good advice, regardless of any hyperbole about article accuracy!

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Participating on Wikipediocracy

2014-05-24 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
Hello again, Wil.

It's obvious that I'm not going to change your mind - nor is it my place
to do so.  But there /is/ one question of you that I would be remiss to
not answer:

On 05/23/2014 11:49 PM, Wil Sinclair wrote:
 If they are exposing serious problems
 that desperately need fixing, then what does it matter what their
 motives are?

Because their priorities are out of whack.  By their obsession over nits
and trying to find things to hold against the projects and their
participants, they necessarily will uncover things that need fixing...

Over and before the numerous much larger, much more complicated and much
more *important* things that need fixing that are plain for everyone to
see but just don't happen to be usable as weapons against others.
(Systemic bias, participation by women, the changing editor landscape,
increasing PR manipulation... I could go on all day).

Also, they harp repeatedly on the same points over and over that have
been asked and answered by the community, the discussion of which has
repeatedly shown to be both unproductive and cause for strife.  Given
that strife is their *objective* that is perfectly predictable -- but
that's not a worthwhile endeavor for someone who wants to be a
productive participant in the movement.

Case in point is their obsession with imagining that the project are
replete with pedophiles and pedophile-enablers, focusing on what they
hallucinate is a lack of diligence in handling the matter because we do
so discretely.

So perhaps you can understand why you emerging from WO with questions
about child protection rang all sort of alarm bells.  You didn't look
like you were genuinely curious but as though you were simply aping one
of their calls for war.  Coming from most anyone else, it'd have been
dismissed as simple trolling - but you are *not* anyone else.

Like it or not, you are the spouse of the most visible person of the
movement and what you do will always be associated with what Lila does.
 Imagine a little what your reaction would be if the spouse of your
local chief of police was publicly socializing with known gang members?

Yes, you are your own person -- but you do not live in isolation and the
motives of who you hang out with *does* matter.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Participating on Wikipediocracy

2014-05-24 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/24/2014 11:13 AM, edward wrote:
 Also this complaint
 http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Sue_Gardner#Child_protection
 from a sitting arbitrator suggests the issue is a serious one.

There are issues indeed about who is supposed to handle what aspect of
the matter; with opinions diverging about respective roles of various
participants.  WO (nor WR before it) has nothing to do with this, isn't
even actually aware of the nature of the issues, nor has it uncovered
anything significant on the matter.

Of course, taking anything out of context can make any issue look
disproportionally important or significant; not unlike how by
selectively misquoting my previous email you made it seem like I was
holding a position I was not in order to attack it.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Participating on Wikipediocracy

2014-05-24 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/24/2014 11:26 AM, edward wrote:
 You mean selectively quoting?  I was not aware of misquoting you. I
 used your very words.

Fair enough; I do enjoy the occasional semantic game now an then.  I
could make a cogent argument how selectively quoting sentence fragments
is, necessarily, misquoting but this was a simple production error --
having both 'selectively quoting' and 'misquoting' in mind I ended up
writing halfway between both.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Participating on Wikipediocracy

2014-05-23 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 05/23/2014 07:06 PM, Wil Sinclair wrote:
 I participate on WO because I think every voice deserves to be heard.

I'm going to give you a serious piece of advice here as someone who has
held one of the most public position of authority on the English
Wikipedia (the scare quotes are quite on purpose, ask me about them some
day).

Wikipedia Review and its successor WO are the roaming grounds of a
diverse group of people, some of them with astute and sometimes
insightful criticism about the failings of the Foundation's projects.
On a surprisingly large number of occasions, the criticism there has led
to exposing serious problems that desperately needed fixing, and some of
the commentary can be downright painfully precise when pointing out the
movement's gaffes.

This is the reason why, when I first got elected to the Arbitration
Committee, I tought much as you do and felt it important to keep an ear
to the ground as it were.

The problem with WO - and it's a fatal one - is one of motivation.  The
vast majority of participants there do not offer critique out of a
desire to improve how we do things, or point at things that we are doing
wrong with the aim of having them fixed; they do so out of spite,
revenge or simple outright malice.  It is no coincidence that the more
prolific participants there are people who were excluded from the
on-wiki discourse before joining: it is the rallying point of the
malcontent.  The *reason* why they are so often uncannily accurate in
their investigations is because they are driven by an obsessive need
to turn over every rock, pick apart every comment, and expose (with no
regard for safety or privacy) those they deem to be their adversaries.
Somtimes just to make a point and gloat but - too often - in order to
harass, bully and threaten (and occasionally blackmail) participants in
the projects.

(And you need to be aware that, historically, those fora had a number of
private boards restricted to the bigger participants, where the level
of bile is much higher and much less veiled of legitimate criticism - so
what you've seen to date is certainly the *tamest* that can be found on
those sites).

The net result is that everything on those sites is tainted with bile
and venom; and every opportunity to hurt is exploited mercilessly.  You
may *think* you can abstract that poison away from your participation,
concentrating on the buried legitimate claims that can be found.  You
can't.  It will grate on you, imperceptibly at first, but it will affect
you.

Sure, they'll occasionally dig up something that desperately needed to
be found and fixed - giving us the opportunity to right some wrong - but
that's a side effect of their effort to dig up dirt to throw at their
enemies.  In practice, everything of value that bubbles up from WO will
reach mainstream venues soon enough if it was legitimate.

So yeah.  You're of course perfectly *allowed* to participate in those
venues, but you shouldn't be surprised if that makes many in the
movement weary as - historically - that has proven over and over to be a
very bad idea.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Affiliation in username

2014-04-21 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 04/21/2014 09:16 AM, Nathan wrote:
 Do WMF accounts still get the staff usergroup?

Most accounts of staff and contractors do not get that usergroup: it is
a very highly privileged group that includes pretty much every
permission on every wiki, and access to it is on a strictly-needed basis.

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:GlobalUsers/Staff lists some 40
accounts with the right - out of 160 staff - mostly of accounts held by
people in LCA.

So the presence of the group is not a usable discriminant.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Sponsorship/donations to other organizations

2014-04-16 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 04/15/2014 05:12 PM, David Gerard wrote:
 Yeah, one of the first things to do is to talk to these partner
 organisations (because they are partner organisations) and ask what
 would actually be helpful, rather than helpy

One thing that Erik has not mentionned (probably because it simply
slipped his mind) is that this is exactly what we have done for Freenode
in the past six or seven months.  They were aching for a couple extra
nodes, and we are currently hosting one for them.

This was a one-off, and is not very onerous for us to provide (we
already have the hardware and infrastructure; the only ongoing cost is
bandwidth and a little bit of ops time).  I suppose it can be seen as a
contribution of the ops team itself -- we were pretty much unanimous
that if a way could be found to help them in a way that would not impact
production (it has), then contributing to a project we rely upon daily
was a no brainer.

FWIW, I agree with the general principle as well, and I don't even see
it as a objective creep: the maintenance of the ecosystem of tools and
infrastructure which makes Wikipedia possible is a necessary part of our
mission.  It does little help to have all the data if there doesn't
exist an infrastructure of open source software to make running the
projects possible.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timothy Sandole and (apparently) $53, 690 of WMF funding

2014-04-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 04/01/2014 07:43 AM, Fæ wrote:
 I find it disappointing that when difficult governance questions like
 this are raised in public, that some leading members of our community
 default to treating the concerned whistle-blower as a troll

I think, Fæ, that you will find that it's not the subject matter that is
the issue so much as the manner.  It is perfectly possible to express
concern - even outrage - without being provocative and offensive.

That analysis and examination of that bad move would have been done just
and quickly and effectively by polite inquiry than it would have with
shrill cries.

We're an extraordinarily transparent movement; we don't need
whistleblowers -- we need vigilant participants.  Compare MzMcBride's
approach to... that of some others on this thread, and you will see the
difference between raising an issue and being needlessly provocative.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timothy Sandole and (apparently) $53, 690 of WMF funding

2014-04-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 04/01/2014 09:34 AM, Fæ wrote:
 I am sure than the viewpoint is different for employees within the WMF
 like yourself, compared to unpaid volunteers outside, like me. This
 may be part of the reason we see this governance failure in a
 different light.

That's actually amusingly wrong, though I can see why you'd think that.
 I've been an unpaid volunteer outside for very many years before I've
been within; and my job at the foundation is only technical and
community-facing.

I have *zero* to do with Governance, no stake in that project, and I
don't even actually interact with any of the involved departments.  I
can tell you with absolute certainty that my comments on this thread
would have been exactly the same 18 months ago.

 The evidence of this case, as summarized in Sue's own published words,
 shows that there were multiple attempts to raise polite inquiry. These
 were consistently overlooked or ignored over an extremely long period.

Indeed.  That was mostly a failure of oversight -- possibly combined
with unjustified optimism.  You know what they say: hindsight is 20/20.
 I still see no reason to believe that - given the same timing - a
deliberate question would not have been just as effective as the less
optimal way this matter was raised.

It is *much* easier to get the stakeholders to collaborate when they
don't have to go on the defensive.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timothy Sandole and (apparently) $53, 690 of WMF funding

2014-04-01 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 04/01/2014 02:10 PM, Russavia wrote:
 Really, Marc? Really?

Yes, Really.  I can't recall having ever said that I never misbehave
myself, nor that I ever reacted in anger before.  Anyone who claims to
is deluded or lying.

With, perhaps, the pointed difference that this cannot be said to be my
normal modus operandi.

 I see no difference between what you accused the en.wp Arbcom of doing,
 and the way that you are bullying and needlessly attacking community
 members who are presenting relevant information and asking relevant
 questions.

You mean, except for the niggling fact that I haven't done either of
those things?  I can't recall any point at which I have expressed any
objection to relevant information and relevant question being
presented except noting that the manner in which some participants have
chosen to express them was needlessly antagonistic (yes, that includes
you, and this very message).

I certainly have not theatened you in any way over any of it!

Hell, I even agree with the substance of the points you have originally
made.  If you imagine being bullied because someone disagrees with
/how/ you make them, the issues lies strictly with you.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Cost of Wikimedia Conference 2014

2014-03-31 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 03/31/2014 08:23 AM, Marc A. Pelletier wrote:
 That seems niether all that surprising nor all that costly

Oh, D'oh!  Wrong conference!

Ignore me, and move along.  :-)

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Our next strategy plan-Paid editing

2014-03-25 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 03/25/2014 07:45 PM, John Mark Vandenberg wrote:
 If nothing else, the existing community quality rating system (i.e. FA, GA,
 etc.) should be used.

That idea needs to be tempered with a strong caveat: at least for
enwiki, those processes tend to be highly politized as they are already.
 Focusing strategy on those is likely to have volatile effects and any
step in that direction has to be done deliberately and with a great deal
of caution.

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] 1 week reminder: Wikimania 2014 – Call for Submissions

2014-03-24 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 03/23/2014 05:06 PM, James Forrester wrote:
 Note that a complete submission is required, including an abstract of 300
 words or more that explains to the Programme Committee why you think your
 proposal should be accepted over others.

I must admit that requirement gives me pause, James.  I've yet to meet a
conference where they didn't place a strict /maximum/ length to
abstracts, usually at some point below 250 words(!)

Honestly, if you need 300 words to summarize a presentation that is
meant to occupy less than 30 minutes, your doing either abstract or
presentation wrong!  :-)

-- Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timothy Sandole and (apparently) $53, 690 of WMF funding

2014-03-22 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
Russavia,

First, I write here in my capacity as a volunteer and a member of the
community you claim to speak on behalf of, clearly not as a staffer of
the Foundation (not that engineering has anything to do with programs
like this anyways).

On 03/22/2014 09:00 AM, Russavia wrote:
 I understand this is a difficult time for the WMF, but many in the
 community (the number one stakeholder in our projects) will not be happy
 with simply getting a few reports from Sandole

Whether or not you have a point about that position having been badly
considered or having a been a waste of money -- and I'd be inclined to
think that it was at least a little of both -- you've squarely crossed
the line between asking legitimate questions and pointless harassment.

Even if Timothy has been highly disruptive rather than just apparently
very inefficient (which he wasn't), or if it has been donors' money that
had been spent (which it wasn't), or if you had /actually/ been
appointed to speak for the number one stakeholder in our projects
(which you haven't); it wouldn't justify your continuing harangue when
you have been clearly told that no further substantive information would
come until Sue returns next week.

You've made your point and raised the issue, and now the information for
informed judgment is being published.  How about you let the /rest/ of
the community examine it and reach its own conclusions?  Because, right
now, you seem more interested in stoking the fires of your vendetta by
harping on what you /want/ that conclusion to be than any actual
interest in figuring out what happened and how to prevent it from
happening again if it was a problem.

-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Timothy Sandole and (apparently) $53, 690 of WMF funding

2014-03-22 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 03/22/2014 02:45 PM, Russavia wrote:
 It's already been established that there is massive copyvio in there,
 and I think it is absolutely unacceptable for a copyvio to still be in
 this article under the circumstances.

It's unacceptable under /any/ circumstances, but I don't see an obvious
copyright violation, nor can I find a place where you pointed out one?
Where was that established?

-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [feature suggestion] Be able to include/exclude certain page fragments based on the geographic area

2014-03-04 Thread Marc A. Pelletier
On 03/04/2014 10:50 PM, Yuri wrote:
 But it got rejected, and I am not sure I am clear why.

I haven't opined on the specific bug, but I would also have rejected it.
 The reason why is simple:  it goes exactly opposite everything the
projects stand for.

Our mission isn't collect all of the knowledge but only show some of it
to some people, depending on the whims of random governments (or some
people's interpretations of those whims).

We might not be able to prevent some entities from censoring us; but we
certainly should not do it for them.

-- Marc


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