[Wikimedia-l] Re: UCoC Phase 2 Ratification Results Announcement

2022-04-11 Thread Yair Rand
Our conduct policies were carefully crafted by hundreds of brilliant people
over the course of twenty years, building upon endless experience and
detailed discussions that could fill books upon books.

The UCoC Project ... seems to be built to supersede all that we've built in
this area, with an extremely inadequate replacement. It apparently
abandoned the idea of being a "minimal baseline" in favor of including
every preferred (and even aspirational) point available. The Enforcement
Guidelines thoroughly place the UCoC itself front-and-center, requiring
extensive linking and pushing it to be read by everyone (we have a hard
enough time getting people to read the existing conduct policies; making
everything link to UCoC will definitely drastically reduce the reach of
existing policies if not eliminate their presence outright), mandatory
pledges/affirmations of the UCoC and compulsory UCoC training (both as
prerequisites to sysop participation, conditions which will likely strip
the ranks).

The UCoC is a text that the community did not write. It remains filled with
dozens of very serious issues, but volunteers were never invited to edit
it. Basic attempts at even cleaning up the document's language were
reverted, as the staff are quite clear that it is not a Wikimedia document
that community efforts may be directly part of. Larger issues were ignored.
Even if we were to grant the idea that we would centralize conduct policies
and remove local variation in acceptable practices, it looks to me that
this attempt at producing a viable policy did not work. The WMF appointees
who wrote the UCoC, while they surely worked hard on the document over the
few months given to write the text, were quite reasonably not capable of
doing the kind of work we typically expect from the large numbers of
experienced volunteers who build core policies over the course of a much
longer time period.

Even taking into account the WMF's extensive campaign to convince people
that the UCoC was good (and to vote accordingly), and their admission that
they intended to keep pushing the UCoC indefinitely until a vote passed in
the direction they wanted, I am surprised and dismayed at the result of the
vote. The 57% support outcome (or 58.6% if one discounts neutral votes, as
is often the practice), while well below the amount typically needed to
establish consensus for a policy, is above the threshold the WMF determined
to use for their own purposes.

I don't know where we can go from here, or what the Board will do with this
situation. Numerous contributors have already pointed out that these
numbers fall clearly under "no consensus". The staff seem to have realized
that removing sysop tools from a large portion of the admin corps as
required would be disastrous. One of the more egregious problems present in
the UCoC text is already likely to be the subject of review following an
open letter by a user group, though many, many others remain largely
unconsidered. Local community preparatory work for dealing with possible
WMF action is ... roughly what I would expect (including the commitments to
not cooperate with UCoC efforts, or to implement them).

This is a pretty bad situation.

-- Yair Rand



‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 5 באפר׳ 2022 ב-17:32 מאת ‪Stella Ng‬‏ <‪s...@wikimedia.org
‬‏>:‬

> Hello All,
>
> We would like to thank the over 2300 Wikimedians who participated in the
> recently concluded community vote on the Enforcement Guidelines for the
> Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC)
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:MyLanguage/Universal_Code_of_Conduct/Enforcement_guidelines>.
> At this time, the volunteer scrutinizing group has completed the review
> of the accuracy of the vote and the final results are available on
> Meta-wiki. A quick summary can be found below:
>
>
>-
>
>58.6% Yes, 41.4% No
>
>
>-
>
>Contributors from 128 home wikis participated in the vote
>-
>
>Over thirty languages were supported in the ballot
>
>
> What this outcome means is that there is enough support for the Board to
> review the document. It does not mean that the Enforcement Guidelines are
> automatically complete.
>
> From here, the project team will collate and summarize the comments
> provided in the voting process, and publish them on Meta-wiki. The
> Enforcement Guidelines will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for their
> consideration. The Board will review input given during the vote, and
> examine whether there are aspects of the Guidelines that need further
> refinement. If so, these comments, and the input provided through Meta-wiki
> and other community conversations, will provide a good starting point for
> revising the Guidelines to meet the needs expressed by communities in the
> voter’s responses.
>
> In the event the Board moves forward with ratification, the UCo

[Wikimedia-l] Re: Apply to join the Leadership Development Working Group!

2022-03-28 Thread Yair Rand
I don't see how it could be a "community-driven" group if every member of
the group is a WMF appointee.

I find the practice of WMF staff appointing volunteers to groups to be very
problematic. I hope that different methods can be used in the future.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 28 במרץ 2022 ב-16:09 מאת ‪Cassie Casares‬‏ <‪
ccasa...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> (Read this message in other languages on Meta-wiki
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Leadership_Development_Working_Group/Participate/Announcement/Reminder>:
> ‎العربية • Русский •日本語 • 한국어)
>
> Hello everyone,
>
> The Community Development team at the Wikimedia Foundation is supporting
> the creation of a global, community-driven Leadership Development Working
> Group
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Leadership_Development_Working_Group>.
> The purpose of the working group is to advise leadership development work.
> Feedback was collected in February 2022 and a summary of the feedback
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Leadership_Development_Working_Group/Participate#5._Summary_of_Call_for_Feedback>
> is on Meta-wiki. The application period to join the Working Group is now
> open and is closing soon on April 10, 2022. Please review the information
> about the working group
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Leadership_Development_Working_Group/Purpose_and_Structure#3._How_is_the_working_group_formed_and_structured?>,
> share with community members who might be interested, and apply if you
> are interested
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Leadership_Development_Working_Group/Participate#1._How_to_participate>
> .
>
> Thank you,
>
> The Community Development team
>
>
> Cassie Casares
> Program Support Associate
> Community Development
> Wikimedia Foundation
> ccasa...@wikimedia.org
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[Wikimedia-l] Re: Board statement endorsing community voting on the enforcement guidelines for Universal code of Conduct (UCoC)

2022-01-28 Thread Yair Rand
This is mostly a positive development, I think. The overall recognition
that the correct way forward is a community vote is excellent, as is the
agreement that the community must be able to review and modify the texts in
the future. I have a few concerns on the details of the vote:
1. In order to ensure a fair vote, I would recommend that the vote be
administered by a group other than WMF T, given that T would likely be
strongly biased toward preferring a particular outcome. Ideally, it would
be run outside the WMF entirely, since the WMF is clearly very invested in
having this approved. Perhaps the Elections Committee could do it?
2. The 50% threshold, while not entirely without precedent (the licensing
update vote also required 50%), is unusual. Depending on the type of
policy, thresholds have usually ranged from 60% to as high as 80%, if I'm
remembering correctly. This, combined with the unprecedented step of
allowing potentially hundreds of non-editor staff to participate in a
decision directly affecting the projects, is concerning.

I am worried about the potential for ambiguity and/or confusion following
this, especially in the context of the Board's earlier actions in this
area. For example, while the WMF and Board have repeatedly suggested that
the UCoC is in force (throughout official communications and elsewhere), it
is as a matter of simple fact and actual practice, not a policy on the
Wikimedia projects. Given that the local projects' administrations do not
take instructions from the WMF, and the lack of any community approval of
the suggested policy text so far, the only effect of the WMF position
(outside of the affairs of the WMF and those inclined to follow the
organization's lead) is confusion and doubt about the WMF's
cooperativeness. In a matter such as this, clarity is important, and I hope
we can have a clear outcome recognized by all. The decision on whether to
approve the UCoC and associated enforcement guidelines must be a legitimate
community decision, broadly recognized. The Board's statement that it will
follow the outcome of a vote is a good thing, but this should be
accompanied with actions to ensure that it is a vote that will be
recognized as a fair and valid representation of the communities' will.

-- Yair Rand


‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 24 בינו׳ 2022 ב-16:36 מאת ‪Shani Evenstein‬‏ <‪
sh...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Hello everyone,
>
> (This statement is available on Meta-Wiki for translation and wider
> distribution)
>
> Today, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees published a statement
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard/January_2022_-_Board_of_Trustees_on_Community_ratification_of_enforcement_guidelines_of_UCoC>
> supporting a community vote on the proposed enforcement guidelines
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Universal_Code_of_Conduct/Enforcement_guidelines>
> for the Universal Code of Conduct
> <https://foundation.wikimedia.org/wiki/Universal_Code_of_Conduct> (UCoC).
>
>
> One of the key recommendations
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Provide_for_Safety_and_Inclusion>of
> the strategic goals for 2030 was the collaborative creation of a UCoC to
> provide a global baseline of acceptable behavior for the entire movement
> without tolerance for harassment. The global Wikimedia community must
> work well together in producing knowledge resources for the benefit of the
> world. Forging welcoming, inclusive, harassment-free spaces in which people
> can contribute productively and debate constructively is critical for the
> movement’s success.
>
>
> The Board continues to stand by its May 2020 statement
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard/May_2020_-_Board_of_Trustees_on_Healthy_Community_Culture,_Inclusivity,_and_Safe_Spaces>
> on “Healthy Community Culture, Inclusivity, and Safe Spaces” that,
> “harassment, toxic behavior, and incivility in the Wikimedia movement are
> contrary to our shared values and detrimental to our vision & mission” and
> to our joint strategic goals
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/Recommendations>
> for 2030.
>
>
> The ratification of the collaboratively created UCoC last year was a
> notable milestone, and hopefully the discussion on the ratification process
> for the collaboratively created enforcement guidelines proposal today
> will lead to another one.
>
>
> The enforcement guidelines proposal is a major achievement of thoughtful
> co-creation for the global communities that took part in the months of
> consultations, the volunteers leading the drafting committee itself, and
> the Foundation. The Board is very grateful to the volunteers and staff
> members who collaboratively co-created first the UCoC itse

[Wikimedia-l] Re: Luis Bitencourt-Emilio Joins Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

2022-01-13 Thread Yair Rand
I'm going to strongly disagree with this.

People are allowed to have outside interests. Being incidentally interested
in blockchain tech is not a disqualifying attribute. Having worked in large
technology companies is not a disqualifying attribute. Neither of these
things should even be counted negatively. If the Board has ascertained that
the new trustee fits the relevant needs of expertise, experience, values,
and level of commitment, as well as furthering the Board's goals of having
a diverse set of backgrounds and competencies, then wonderful. The idea
that a trustee's background interest in NFTs (which, if I may remind
people, is something the general public has by-and-large never even *heard
of*, let alone have strong opinions on) will affect Wikimedia's reputation
is, frankly, beyond silly.

Welcome to Wikimedia, Luis Bitencourt-Emilio. Apologies for the
less-than-ideal reception.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ה׳, 13 בינו׳ 2022 ב-13:53 מאת ‪Lane Chance‬‏ <‪
zinkl...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> Dariusz, Chair of the BGC: "Cryptocurrency and blockchains were not a
> factor here – the Governance Committee, and then the Board, were
> considering other things..."
>
> This is so wrong it's painful to read. The fundamental job of the
> Governance Committee is to ensure that appointed trustees do not come with
> the potential to cause harm to the Wikimedia 'brand' and the community.
>
> A WMF trustee that promotes Bitcoin and NFTs? Compare with the WMF
> statement "We at the Wikimedia Foundation strive to ensure that our work
> and mission support a sustainable world" - now in the bin as it lacks any
> credibility from here on, as the governance committee and therefore the
> board of trustees does not believe in these values. This is not a
> successful appointment, Luis Bitencourt-Emilio is not welcome as they are a
> controversial and damaging addition to the board.
>
> Ref:
> https://wikimediafoundation.org/news/2019/09/19/how-the-wikimedia-foundation-is-making-efforts-to-go-green
>
> On Thu, 13 Jan 2022 at 13:40, Dariusz Jemielniak 
> wrote:
>
>> Dear Dan,
>>
>> Thank you for the feedback!
>>
>> The search for a trustee with an expertise in product and technology
>> began a few months ago. One of the problems we identified was that the
>> Wikimedia Foundation CTOs (Chief Technology Officer) are usually not
>> staying for a long period of time, and then there was also a CPO (Chief
>> Product Officer) transition. It was also important that the new CEO (Chief
>> Executive Officer) would like to have a trustee with relevant experience
>> and leadership in the tech world (as would the Board itself), but also with
>> the understanding and experience of how technology and communities can work
>> together, so, as you said, Reddit experience is very relevant.
>>
>> The other critical factor was diversity – the search was prioritizing
>> candidates with experience outside of Silicon Valley, in non-English
>> speaking countries, preferably from the Global South.
>>
>> And, of course, we also needed a commitment to spend enough time on the
>> Board work – to be engaged and present. For example, Luis met online and
>> offline with Wikimedia volunteers from Spanish and Portuguese-speaking
>> communities, he is eager to help us with his knowledge and experience.
>> Cryptocurrency and blockchains were not a factor here – the Governance
>> Committee, and then the Board, were considering other things Luis brings to
>> the table, the needed expertise, diversity and commitment.
>>
>> I personally am not particularly fond of cryptocurrencies, even though I
>> appreciate blockchain as a technology, and support e.g. decentralized
>> science (https://decentralized.science/). We as a movement have not had
>> a uniform stand on this, and I’m not sure if we should, though.
>>
>> Best regards,
>> Dariusz (chair of the BGC)
>>
>> On Thu, Jan 13, 2022 at 1:40 PM Dan Garry (Deskana) 
>> wrote:
>>
>>> Thanks for the update, Nataliia. Knowledge and expertise in product and
>>> technology is a skill set that has been lacking on the Board, and it's
>>> great to see the Board addressing this by co-opting product and technology
>>> leaders. Luis's experience, such as his time at reddit, will likely be very
>>> applicable to our movement.
>>>
>>> However, I'm surprised that the Board chose to co-opt someone who seems
>>> to have such a public focus on technology like blockchains and
>>> cryptocurrency, and that this focus of his was omitted from this
>>> announcement.
>>>
>>> It would be helpful if we could hear from Luis how he intends

[Wikimedia-l] Re: Approval of Human Rights Policy

2021-12-09 Thread Yair Rand
Criticism of the process:
* No public consultation or even announcement was done before the policy
was finalized. No opportunity to influence the outcome was given.
* The policy was preceded by a human rights impact assessment, commissioned
by the WMF. The report was given to the WMF in July, but has still not been
made public.
* No details are given on the mentioned "Human Rights Steering Committee",
including structure or membership.
* It looks like the policy wasn't even proofread before approval, and is
exceedingly ambiguous in parts.
* The policy is stated to act as a "North Star" guiding the efforts of
other parts of the movement as well, ignoring the WMF's actual position
relative to the other groups and where movement guidance actually comes
from.

Given the level of disassociation between this process and Wikimedia, it's
hard to tell how to interpret these events. This looks to me like another
example of the WMF simultaneously marginalizing itself from the movement
while also pushing itself as a greater portion of activities. This is a
problem.

(The merits of the actual text are separate from the process issues, and
this criticism should not be taken as a position on the correctness/value
of such a policy.)

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ה׳, 9 בדצמ׳ 2021 ב-10:25 מאת ‪Richard Gaines‬‏ <‪
rgai...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Hello,
>
> The Wikimedia Foundation’s Global Advocacy team is excited to announce the
> approval of the Human Rights Policy
> <https://foundation.wikimedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Policy#Frequently_Asked_Questions>
> by the Board of Trustees on 8 December 2021. Please read our blog post
> <https://diff.wikimedia.org/2021/12/09/what-the-wikimedia-foundations-new-human-rights-policy-means-for-our-movement/>
> about the policy and what it means for the Wikimedia Foundation’s work in
> the coming years on Diff. We invite you to join representatives of the
> Foundation’s Global Advocacy and Human Rights teams here
> <http://meet.google.com/wio-vdkw-phd> for a conversation hour tomorrow,
> 10 December, at 10:00 AM ET (15:00 UTC) to address any immediate concerns,
> questions, or suggestions regarding this policy or how it will be
> implemented. The session will be recorded for later viewing and you may
> submit questions by email to myself (rgai...@wikimedia.org) and Ziski
> Putz (zp...@wikimedia.org) ahead of or following the conversation hour.
> Additional conversation hours on this policy will be made available in the
> coming weeks.
>
> Best regards,
> --
> *Ricky Gaines *(he/him/his)
> Senior Manager, Advocacy Audiences
> Wikimedia Foundation
> rgai...@wikimedia.org
>
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[Wikimedia-l] Re: Feedback requested on draft updated Wikimedia Foundation Conflict of Interest Policy

2021-11-02 Thread Yair Rand
Hm, a lot of the text has been reworded and re-ordered, but without that
much difference in practical content. Complex enough that
automatically-generated diffs aren't much use, so I put together a (quite
messy) diff by hand:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_interest_policy/2021_updates/Diff

(Disclaimer: IANAL.) Some changes of note:
* Rules on Covered transactions now apply to transactions/employment/etc
with those who have been trustees/executives/"key employees" at any time in
the prior 12 months. (Such transactions may still be approved by the Board,
following procedure.)
* This was added: "In order to approve a Covered Transaction, the Board
must conclude that: [...] the Covered Transaction does not involve the
Foundation hiring as an employee or contractor an individual who had been a
Wikimedia Foundation Trustee within the preceding 6 months." That seems ...
overly specific. It doesn't apply any of the other normal rules on CoIs to
recent trustees, like those dealing with
other transactions/agreements/contracts, etc.
* Situations with "perceived conflict of interest" ("in which the interests
of a Covered Person may be seen as competing or at odds with the interests
of the Foundation") are no longer covered by the policy.
* Re when the Board is determining whether a transaction counts as
self-dealing/etc, a part of the procedure was changed from "[The Board]
shall consult with the Foundation’s legal advisor as necessary" to "The
Board may consult legal counsel and other outside advisors as part of its
determination.", which seems to make it more optional?
* The policy goes into somewhat more detail on the procedure for assessment
of CoIs, and dealing with violations of the policy.

I really wish that the WMF itself could provide summaries of changes to its
rules. Unfortunately, it often doesn't, and even when it does, it often
leaves out critical modifications (e.g. certain things in the last bylaws
changes), requiring volunteer effort to determine what the WMF is doing.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 2 בנוב׳ 2021 ב-12:02 מאת ‪Philip Kopetzky‬‏ <‪
philip.kopet...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> I would also find that helpful (if this isn't a policy that's been
> completely rewritten). The legal text isn't especially easy to read and
> understand either, so my only question would be if this new policy would
> prevent past events that happened because this kind of policy did not exist
> back then.
>
> On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 at 14:44, Andy Mabbett 
> wrote:
>
>> On Mon, 1 Nov 2021 at 13:00, Amanda Keton  wrote:
>>
>> > The Wikimedia Foundation legal team has posted a draft of an updated
>> conflict of interest policy on Meta-Wiki:
>> >
>> >
>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Conflict_of_interest_policy/2021_updates
>> >
>> > We are collecting feedback on the policy for the next three weeks:
>> today until 22 November.
>>
>> Is there a version which highlights the changes from the current policy?
>>
>> --
>> Andy Mabbett
>> @pigsonthewing
>> http://pigsonthewing.org.uk
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[Wikimedia-l] Re: Regarding a series of serious office actions / 有关于一系列的办事处行动

2021-09-14 Thread Yair Rand
(For those trying to play catch-up on the Wikipedia-in-China issue, I
recommend diving into some old Signpost archives: [1] ("The BBC looks at
Chinese government editing"), [2] ("Interview: Carl Miller on Wikipedia
Wars"), [3] ("Community View: Observations from the mainland"), [4]
("Special report: Hardball in Hong Kong"), and maybe [5] ("Chinese man
detained and penalized for reading Wikipedia") and [6] ("China and the
Chinese Wikipedia"). Note that the author of the community view piece and
the subject of the special report, User:Techyan and User:Walter_Grassroot
respectively, are both among those banned in this action. I have not found
sources covering the more recent events relating to the canvassing policy.)

I'm having a difficult time understanding the notice, particularly which
parts are relating to the NDA change and which are relating to the more
recent actions. If I am understanding correctly, the NDA change:
* was prompted by credible threats against contributors,
* involved risks pertaining to private data being taken by hostile entities,
* could not be communicated in advance even to stewards without creating
serious risks.

Meanwhile, regarding the bans and desysoppings:
* The message vaguely implies, but does not state, that "credible threats
to [Chinese users'] safety" were relevant to this decision.
* A second justification is similarly implied: That the actions were
necessary to avoid community capture/infiltration on zhwiki, presumably by
the government of the PRC. Particularly highlighted issues of relevance to
this are canvassing and fraud, presumably for community manipulation.
* Some relevant information on this cannot be revealed publicly ("limits to
what we can reveal").

Maggie has stated on-wiki that those desysopped will be permitted to run
for adminship again [7], while the WMF will "monitor the integrity of
elections for those seeking sysop rights again (after this action) until we
are able to help the local community adopt a more secure system." I am
fairly confident that, if the desysoppings were necessary to avoid actual
harm (that is, if there was a threat to safety from those users holding
advanced rights), the WMF would not allow the restoring of those rights.
Maggie's on-list response to Yaroslav mentioning desysoppings of those
"whose behavior has been problematic in relation largely to canvassing or
demonstrated abuse of their roles" seems to further support that this was
not about harm.

The canvassing rationale for the desysoppings (and possibly for some of the
bans, if all seven were not for the same reasons) is not sufficient to
justify this action by the WMF; preventing local canvassing is not within
the T's remit. This may not have been the actual rationale (per "limits
to what we can reveal"), but there are clear indications that it was, per
the posts.

This decision may have needed to be made. The decision also might not have
been the WMF's decision to make.

Outside of specific limited situations, desysoppings are decisions made by
volunteers. It is possible that circumstances have made functioning local
discussion impossible, in which case a global discussion could take place.
If necessary secrecy of certain information makes public global discussion
unable to independently provide judgement, it could fall to the stewards to
assist. Unless this situation relates to one of the responsibilities that
the community has delegated to T, at no point does this fall to them.

While the lack of disclosure makes it impossible to be sure, it looks quite
likely to me that the WMF has acted inappropriately in desysopping these
users.

-- Yair Rand

[1]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2019-10-31/In_focus
[2]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2019-10-31/Interview
[3]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2019-10-31/Community_view
[4]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2021-07-25/Special_report
[5]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2020-11-01/In_the_media#Chinese_man_detained_and_penalized_for_reading_Wikipedia
[6]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2019-08-30/Community_view#China_and_the_Chinese_Wikipedia
[7] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:WMFOffice#Recent_desysops

‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 13 בספט׳ 2021 ב-12:15 מאת ‪Maggie Dennis‬‏ <‪
mden...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> (on-wiki:  ; Google translated notice that there is a professional Chinese
> translation of the email below - 中文翻譯見下文)
>
> Hello, everyone.
>
> I’m Maggie Dennis, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Vice President of Community
> Resilience & Sustainability.[1] I’m reaching out to you today to talk about
> a series of actions the Foundation has recently taken to protect
> communities across the globe.
>
> I apologize in

[Wikimedia-l] Re: Welcoming the first round of grants from the Equity Fund

2021-09-09 Thread Yair Rand
I haven't yet had time to look over the grantee organizations, and the
general issue of funding non-Wikimedia efforts has been fairly well-covered
by statements from all four recently-elected trustees, so I'm just going to
take a moment to bring up some points about the specific process used here:
* This was not participatory. Neither the community nor any
community-elected group were invited to look these over even to give
advance feedback, much less make a decision.
* This was not transparent. Even after the fact, no notes were given on
what the WMF used to judge the options; no metrics, no pros-and-cons
analysis of each, no general review. Nor was a list of rejected applicants
made public, as far as I can see.
* COI concerns: Given the lack of any mentioned standards about this (I
haven't seen anything resembling the FDC's COI rules, and the WMF's general
COI policy seems quite lacking for something like this), and given the
problematic history this Fund in particular has in this area, I must ask:
Did any staff, trustees, or committee members involved in this process have
any personal associations to any of the grantee organizations, and if so,
were they (/would they have been) required to recuse themselves from the
relevant decisions?
* The Committee appears to have committed to sharing "terms of each grant
and updates on their progress" on Meta, per the FAQ. I don't see any links
to the grant terms. Should we still expect these things?

(A few excerpts from answers given by the recently elected, at the Q on
the topic of funding non-Wikimedia efforts in general:
"I don’t think WF has any money to spare for any other causes irrespective
of their worth. There’s an NGO or 100 for any cause, and WF cause is
exclusively Wikimedia movement support." - Victoria
"At this time, I'd be reluctant to start funding projects entirely
unrelated to Wikimedia projects." - Pundit
"The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to support and empower the
communities of the Wikimedia projects and the projects themselves. Among
the many worthy goals that one can set, we choose to pursue this one. [...]
The Wikimedia Foundation looks relatively big and well-resourced (in terms
of money, people, etc.), and it is tempting to use some of them for other
purposes. However, the truth is that the Wikimedia Foundation is not so
big, and the resources are very limited. If we scatter them in too many
different places, we will end up achieving nothing - and the Wikimedia
projects will be the first to pay the price." - Laurentius
I'm not going to try to clip Rosiestep's answer because I feel like a
clipped version would risk being misrepresentative of her position. I
recommend reading the full versions of all four (quite interesting and
nuanced) answers at
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_elections/2021/Candidates/CandidateQ%26A/Question11
)

(There are, of course, more fundamental problems with the Fund, but let's
leave that for another time.)

Thank you.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ד׳, 8 בספט׳ 2021 ב-10:09 מאת ‪Lisa Gruwell‬‏ <‪
lgruw...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Hi everyone,
>
> We are excited to share that we have chosen the first round of grantees
> for the Knowledge Equity Fund pilot. The Equity Fund Committee selected six
> grantees across the Middle East, Africa, and North and South America who
> focus on issues of access, education and equity within the regions they
> support. You can read an overview of the six grantees and their work on
> Diff[1]. We’ve also added information about the grantees and what’s next
> for this pilot program to our Meta page[2].
>
> We are happy to welcome these new grantees, and look forward to their work
> as movement partners to support the free knowledge ecosystem. Let us know
> if you have questions on the Talk Page[3].
>
> Thank you,
>
> Lisa Gruwell and the Equity Fund Committee
>
> [1]
> https://diff.wikimedia.org/2021/09/08/welcome-to-the-first-grantees-of-the-knowledge-equity-fund/
>
> [2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_Equity_Fund
> [3]
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Knowledge_Equity_Fund=edit=1
>
> --
>
> Lisa Seitz Gruwell
>
> Chief Advancement Officer
>
> Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>
>
> ___
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Board Ratification of Universal Code of Conduct

2021-02-03 Thread Yair Rand
@Risker: The Global sysop policy was created through a sequence of
proposals, considerable debate and editing, and a vote in which over 1800
contributors participated. The Global ban policy had an RFC on Meta. Afaik,
the Board also had no involvement in the Steward policy, the global
checkuser and oversight policies, or the policies for Global Rollback,
Abuse Filter helpers, or New wiki importers global user groups.

The Terms of Use were drafted with a lengthy community editing process,
although the Board did the final approval. The 2014 amendment to the ToU
also had a long community discussion, with over 1000 supporters of the
change, with the Board implementing the community-supported amendment. The
community's decisions were critical to these, and the Board did not
unilaterally impose anything on the community.

I do not see any reason for the community to listen to the Board on the
UCoC. I doubt anyone thinks that the Board or WMF has a better idea of how
to put together conduct policies than the community. Certainly the complete
failure to notice basic flaws in the document attest to that. Maybe at some
point in the future the community can put together a clear set of basic
global conduct rules, but the WMF's UCoC is not it.

(And a fun fact: The Board approved the UCoC on December 9, the same day as
the bylaws change, and yet again violated the Board's rules about
publishing resolutions within a week, for the at least 19th time in the
past year, out of 24 known resolutions.)

(Also, contrary to the recent WMF blog post on the UCoC, the WMF also does
not "administer Wikipedia", a mistake they have made for the second time
now.)

-- Yair Rand




‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 2 בפבר׳ 2021 ב-21:34 מאת ‪Risker‬‏ <‪risker...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> While I often agree with you, Yair Rand, in this case I think you're
> mistaken.  Aside from the long-ago "community vote" on licensing (which was
> pretty much required based on the prior licensing scheme), every
> Wikimedia-wide policy has been authorized by the WMF Board of Trustees.
> That includes the terms of use and the privacy policy.  As the technical
> owners of the infrastructure, the WMF Board does have the right (if not the
> responsibility) to identify the manner in which the websites it supports
> and hosts can be used, and I think this principle is actually pretty widely
> held, at least in the abstract (i.e., hosting organizations can and should
> apply standards on the services they host). In every policy-related case
> that I have reviewed going back to the very earliest days, there has been
> at least some level of community discussion, and there have always been
> detractors of every policy the Board has approved; that has not made the
> policies either invalid or unworkable.
>
> I've never been convinced that including a mixture of required, forbidden,
> and aspirational standards all in one document is a good idea, and I
> personally struggle to see how including essentially unenforceable aspects
> of the UCoC will do anything other than weaken the effectiveness of rest of
> the document.  For example, I cannot imagine anyone being sanctioned in any
> way for "failure to thank" or "failure to mentor", although both of these
> are considered expectations in the "Civility" section; and one thing that a
> Uniform Code of Conduct would logically have is a uniform enforcement
> scheme.
>
> Nonetheless, I do believe that it is within the Board's scope and
> responsibility to approve this and other global policies designed to
> protect the WMF, the projects, the users of the websites, and the content
> managers/editors/etc (what we often call "the community").
>
> Risker/Anne
>
>
>
> On Tue, 2 Feb 2021 at 17:28, Yair Rand  wrote:
>
>> The community has not approved the WMF's UCoC. It is not a Wikimedia
>> policy, it is not binding, it has no authority. The WMF does not control
>> the Wikimedia projects, and has no jurisdiction in this area.
>>
>> The community rejected this over and over again. It is harmful that the
>> Board is pretending they can do this unilaterally.
>>
>> -- Yair Rand
>>
>> ‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 2 בפבר׳ 2021 ב-6:59 מאת ‪María Sefidari‬‏ <‪
>> ma...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬
>>
>>> Hi everyone,
>>>
>>> I’m pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has unanimously
>>> approved a Universal Code of Conduct for the Wikimedia projects and
>>> movement.[1]  A Universal Code of Conduct was one of the final
>>> recommendations of the Movement Strategy 2030 process - a multi-year,
>>> participatory community effort to define the future of our movement. The
>>> final Universal Code of Conduct seeks to address disparities in conduct
>>

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Board Ratification of Universal Code of Conduct

2021-02-02 Thread Yair Rand
The community has not approved the WMF's UCoC. It is not a Wikimedia
policy, it is not binding, it has no authority. The WMF does not control
the Wikimedia projects, and has no jurisdiction in this area.

The community rejected this over and over again. It is harmful that the
Board is pretending they can do this unilaterally.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 2 בפבר׳ 2021 ב-6:59 מאת ‪María Sefidari‬‏ <‪
ma...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Hi everyone,
>
> I’m pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees has unanimously
> approved a Universal Code of Conduct for the Wikimedia projects and
> movement.[1]  A Universal Code of Conduct was one of the final
> recommendations of the Movement Strategy 2030 process - a multi-year,
> participatory community effort to define the future of our movement. The
> final Universal Code of Conduct seeks to address disparities in conduct
> policies across our hundreds of projects and communities, by creating a
> binding minimum set of standards for conduct on the Wikimedia projects that
> directly address many of the challenges that contributors face.
>
> The Board is deeply grateful to the communities who have grappled with
> these challenging topics. Over the past six months, communities around the
> world have participated in conversations and consultations to help build
> this code collectively, including local discussions in 19 languages,
> surveys, discussions on Meta, and policy drafting by a committee of
> volunteers and staff. The document presented to us reflects a significant
> investment of time and effort by many of you, and especially by the joint
> staff/volunteer committee who created the base draft after reviewing input
> collected from community outreach efforts. We also appreciate the
> dedication of the Foundation, and its Trust & Safety policy team, in
> getting us to this phase.
>
> This was the first phase of our Universal Code of Conduct - from here, the
> Trust & Safety team will begin consultations on how best to enforce this
> code. In the coming weeks, they will follow-up with more instructions on
> how you can participate in discussions around enforcing the new code. Over
> the next few months, they will be facilitating consultation discussions in
> many local languages, with our affiliates, and on Meta to support a new
> volunteer/staff committee in drafting enforcement pathways. For more
> information on the process, timeline, and how to participate in this next
> phase, please review the Universal Code of Conduct page on Meta.[2]
>
> The Universal Code of Conduct represents an essential step towards our
> vision of a world in which all people can participate in the sum of all
> knowledge. Together, we have built something extraordinary. Today, we
> celebrate this milestone in making our movement a safer space for
> contribution for all.
>
> On behalf of the Board of Trustees,
>
> María Sefidari
> Board Chair
>
> [1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Universal_Code_of_Conduct/Draft_review
>
>
> [2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Universal_Code_of_Conduct
>
> ___
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Bylaws amendments and upcoming call for feedback

2021-01-26 Thread Yair Rand
@Nataliia: The change to what is now Article IV Section 3(F) is not merely
making things more specific, it is a numerically different outcome. Had
that change not been implemented, the current Board (with five
community-/affiliate-selected and four Board-selected members) would not be
allowed to appoint a fifth Board-selected member before a sixth
community-/affiliate-selected member was added. Now, the Board is permitted
to immediately add another appointed member, resulting in five of each,
ending the community majority. While doing so would violate previous
critical Board commitments, these commitments are no longer enforced by the
bylaws. The new restriction appears to only apply when the
(pre-appointment) number of community-/affiliate-selected members and
Board-selected members are exactly equal.

@SJ: I tried to put together a three-way diff between the old text, the
October proposal, and the final text at
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard/October_2020_-_Proposed_Bylaws_changes/Three-way_diff
. (Turned out to be not quite as readable as I hoped, unfortunately. Also,
no summary. Still, might be helpful to some.)

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך שבת, 23 בינו׳ 2021 ב-4:40 מאת ‪Nataliia Tymkiv‬‏ <‪
ntym...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Hello!
>
> The concerns expressed by Yair and SJ can be divided in two main
> categories:
>
>
>1.
>
>The process to select and appoint Community- and Affiliate-selected
>trustees are not defined in the Bylaws. This is correct. This was a topic
>discussed and not resolved during our last community review. We said that
>the Board would not make any decision before organizing another community
>discussion. This is the call for feedback mentioned in the same
>announcement, planned to run between February 1 and March 14. After this
>call for feedback, the Board plans to approve the process and start the
>renewal of the three overdue seats and the selection of the three new 
> seats.
>2.
>
>The newly approved Bylaws allow for a circumstance where
>Board-selected trustees can get a majority and take control over the
>Foundation. Here we disagree. The intention of the Board is clear: the
>community- and affiliate- trustees have one seat more than the directly
>appointed trustees, and in addition we have Jimmy Wales’ Founder seat. The
>changes in the language just want to accommodate for real-life
>circumstances causing seats to become vacant until they are filled again.
>We don’t want loopholes either. If someone demonstrates a loophole, Bylaws
>in hand, we shall review it.
>
>
> About SJ’s questions.
>
> > * "As many as" eight community/affiliate seats -- under what conditions
> would there be fewer?  Are there conditions where a term might expire or be
> vacated without replacement?
>
>
>
> For example, today we are only five community- affiliate- selected
> trustees, and there will be a period of time until the three new seats are
> filled. The Bylaws contemplate situations like resignations and removals.
> Life happens, and when a seat becomes vacant during a term, it takes time
> to appoint a new trustee.
>
>
>
> > * No mention of voting -- just the promise of "a series of options [for]
> strong community processes to select representatives". How are these being
> developed / is there a long-list of potential options under consideration?
>
>
>
> As said, we shall decide on community processes only after the upcoming
> call for feedback.
>
>
>
> > * The change from "majority community-selected" to "at least half
> community-selected"  - intentional, and if so to what end?
>
>
>
> This is for clarity of language and math. Before it said “A majority of
> the Board Trustee positions, without counting the Community Founder Trustee
> position  shall be selected or appointed from the Affiliates collectively
> and the community.” Now the same point reads: “The Board shall not appoint
> a new Board-selected trustee if it would cause the Board-selected Trustees
> to outnumber the Community- and Affiliate-selected Trustees.” The current
> text is more specific and directly applicable to the real-life
> circumstances mentioned above.
>
> As said, life happens and sometimes seats may be vacant for a while. The
> previous text was not clear about what to do in a scenario where
> temporarily community- and affiliate- selected trustees are not in majority
> over the Board-selected trustees. If that would happen, we would become
> automatically out-of-compliance with our Bylaws. The current language is
> clear and would allow us to handle a delicate situation without worrying
> about compliance.
>
> I hope

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Bylaws amendments and upcoming call for feedback

2021-01-21 Thread Yair Rand
It looks like the Board ignored the feedback, and also just decided not to
tell anyone about that until a month and a half after the decision was
finalized. The bylaws changes were implemented on December 9, according to
the resolution text.

Those "loopholes" people mentioned are still there (the change from precise
numbers to "As many as" eight community/affiliate seats, and the bylaws no
longer mentioning community voting), with the addition of at least one new
one. The change from "A majority of the Board Trustee positions, without
counting the Community Founder Trustee position, shall be selected or
appointed from the Affiliates collectively and the community." to "The
Board shall not appoint a new Board-selected trustee if it would cause the
Board-selected Trustees to outnumber the Community- and Affiliate-selected
Trustees." The differences include:
(a) Previously, having an equal number of community/affiliate and appointed
seats was not okay, community/affiliate seats had to outnumber appointed
seats. Now, the bylaws are fine with adding an appointed member even if it
brings their number up to that of the community/affiliate seats, so long as
it doesn't go past that number. (Note that "Board-selected" is a separate
category from the Founder seat.)
(b) The Board is permitted to let community/affiliate terms expire (or
remove members outright), not appoint new ones (remember, "as many as" is
now the text), and then since the appointed seats already outnumber the
community/affiliate seats, the Board is permitted to add new appointed
members anyway ("if it would _cause_ [...] to outnumber", presumably
doesn't apply if they were already outnumbered). At that point, of course,
the remaining Board could just change the bylaws to change the numbers and
make itself entirely self-perpetuating, but it wouldn't even have to.

It does not matter in the slightest how effective the Board is, if it is
not a Wikimedia Board.

I don't know what will happen now, but I think it is quite clear that, if
we make it out of this, we can no longer leave the Board in such a
precarious situation as we had with four of ten members appointed, or with
the legal model being that of self-perpetuation. The Board must be
accountable to the movement, and the Board must not
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Yair_rand/WMF_membership_proposal>
have the legal ability to take that away.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ה׳, 21 בינו׳ 2021 ב-12:15 מאת ‪María Sefidari‬‏ <‪
ma...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Hi everyone,
>
> The Board has discussed and approved some governance improvements in two
> recent meetings, on December 9 and January 8. As the governing body for the
> Wikimedia Foundation, we want to improve our capacity, performance, and
> representation of the movement’s diversity. We have amended the Bylaws in
> support of that goal. Please check the details in the announcement
> published on Meta and on the Diff blog:
>
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard/January_2021_-_Approval_of_Bylaws_amendments_and_upcoming_call_for_feedback_about_the_selection_of_new_trustees
>
>
> https://diff.wikimedia.org/2021/01/21/approval-of-bylaws-amendments-and-upcoming-call-for-feedback-about-the-selection-of-new-trustees/
>
> Kind regards,
>
> María
>
> --
>
> María Sefidari Huici
>
> Chair of the Board
>
> Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>
>
>
>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF transfers $8.7 million to "Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund"

2020-12-16 Thread Yair Rand
(@Deskana: When 6-18 months go by and there is no information made public
until finally forced by either legal requirements (eg the form 990s) or
basic reporting standards (eg the audit report, without which the WMF would
lose ratings in sites like Charity Navigator), that indicates a lack of
desire for transparency. The text in the FAQ does include any information
not already included in the report except the "we'll share more information
later" bit and a slight elaboration of the meaning of "unconditional
grant".)

Note that the "Tides" which (as mentioned by the CAO above) the WMF has
been working with for years is the Tides Foundation, which is not the same
organization as the grantee here (the advocacy/lobbying group called Tides
Advocacy), which unlike Tides Foundation is not a 501(c)(3). (There are
ambiguous "ties" between the two organizations, but they are separate
entities.)

If the Board approved this major action, as mentioned, it means that the
Board minutes (and presumably resolutions list) are so incomplete that they
cannot be relied upon to include essentially anything. If they can
specifically omit such things, they do little to ensure transparency in the
Board's activities. This is a very disappointing development.

I do not understand how WMF internal accounting issues justify transfering
the grant money to an outside organization, which additionally appears to
have no obligation to publicly report where the transferred money is going.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 15 בדצמ׳ 2020 ב-10:52 מאת ‪Pharos‬‏ <‪
pharosofalexand...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> Hi Lisa and all,
>
> Thanks for your responses and thoughts. This is an important area, and key
> to get right with a consensus-driven approach.
>
> Are we going to announce the process for giving grants to organisations
> outside the movement, including the process for community involvement, in
> the spirit of the strategy recommendations?
>
> Or should we just expect an announcement of the first recipients?
>
> Thanks,
> Richard
> (User:Pharos)
>
> On Mon, Dec 14, 2020 at 12:54 PM Lisa Gruwell 
> wrote:
>
>> Hi all,
>>
>> Thanks for the questions. We intend to announce the Knowledge Equity Fund
>> in early 2021, once we have a bit more details and specifics worked out.
>> However, we can share the overall intention today.
>>
>> Some background: Our fiscal year runs from July through June, which means
>> that the second half of last year was heavily affected by the unforeseen
>> effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Community events were canceled, hiring
>> slowed, and we put work on pause while we responded to the changing
>> circumstances. As a result, we ended the year with funds that were
>> underspent, relative to what we had planned for the budget.
>>
>> In May of last year, we were also planning for this current fiscal year
>> and had very little insight about how fundraising would perform in this
>> pandemic. People around the world were losing their sources of income, as
>> unemployment soared. We worked with the board to plan for different
>> scenarios, including if fundraising went really poorly.
>>
>> As a general matter, when the budget is underspent, any remainder goes
>> into the reserve. For accounting purposes, it cannot be carried over into
>> the budget of a new fiscal year. Because we were concerned about the
>> uncertainty of fundraising this year, we decided to set aside underspent
>> funds from the past fiscal year, so that we could keep our commitment to
>> our grantees even if fundraising fell short and also make progress on
>> knowledge equity. (Good news: Fundraising ended up going a lot better than
>> we expected when we were planning in the early months of this pandemic.
>> More to come on that.)
>>
>> With the WMF board’s approval, we set up a US$8.7 million grantmaking
>> fund at Tides Advocacy, which has two purposes: 1) Funding Annual Plan
>> Grants (APG) to the affiliates this year and 2) Funding Knowledge Equity.
>> We have been working with Tides since 2016 when we launched the Endowment.
>> The relationship has gone well and they have a lot of expertise at
>> administering grants internationally.
>>
>> Our first priority was to ensure that we had enough funding to support
>> community grants. We transferred the full amount for Annual Plan Grants
>> (APG) for FY20-21 over to Tides to ensure that all funding for
>> affiliates for this year was secured, regardless of how fundraising
>> performed. It also gives staff at affiliates and the Foundation more time
>> to work together to make thoughtful grants, instead of an end-of-year rush.
>> All affiliates who wi

Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF transfers $8.7 million to "Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund"

2020-12-13 Thread Yair Rand
No, the Wikimedia Endowment is a separate thing.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום א׳, 13 בדצמ׳ 2020 ב-4:18 מאת ‪Michael Peel‬‏ <‪
em...@mikepeel.net‬‏>:‬

> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Endowment ?
>
> On 13 Dec 2020, at 08:33, Yair Rand  wrote:
>
> According to the recent Independent Auditors' Report of the WMF [1], at
> some point prior to the end of June 2020, an entity called the "Wikimedia
> Knowledge Equity Fund" was established, and $8.723 million was transferred
> to it by the WMF, in the form of an unconditional grant. The Fund is
> "managed and controlled by Tides Advocacy" (a 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofit
> previously led by the WMF's current General Counsel/Board Secretary, who
> served as CEO, Board Secretary, and Treasurer there). Given that a Google
> search for "Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund" yields zero results prior to
> the release of the report, it is clear that the WMF kept this significant
> move completely secret for over five months, perhaps over a year. The
> Report FAQ additionally emphasizes that the WMF "has no right of return to
> the grant funds provided, with the exception of unexpended funds."
>
> The WMF unilaterally and secretly transferred nearly $9 million of
> movement funds to an outside organization not recognized by the
> Affiliations Committee. No mention of the grant was made in any Board
> resolutions or minutes from the relevant time period. The amount was not
> mentioned in the public annual plan, which set out rather less than this
> amount for the entire grantmaking budget for the year. No application was
> made through any of the various Wikimedia grants processes. No further
> information has been provided on the administration of this new Fund, or on
> the text of the grant agreement.
>
> I am appalled.
>
> -- Yair Rand
>
> [1]
> https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/f/f7/Wikimedia_Foundation_FY2019-2020_Audit_Report.pdf
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[Wikimedia-l] WMF transfers $8.7 million to "Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund"

2020-12-13 Thread Yair Rand
According to the recent Independent Auditors' Report of the WMF [1], at
some point prior to the end of June 2020, an entity called the "Wikimedia
Knowledge Equity Fund" was established, and $8.723 million was transferred
to it by the WMF, in the form of an unconditional grant. The Fund is
"managed and controlled by Tides Advocacy" (a 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofit
previously led by the WMF's current General Counsel/Board Secretary, who
served as CEO, Board Secretary, and Treasurer there). Given that a Google
search for "Wikimedia Knowledge Equity Fund" yields zero results prior to
the release of the report, it is clear that the WMF kept this significant
move completely secret for over five months, perhaps over a year. The
Report FAQ additionally emphasizes that the WMF "has no right of return to
the grant funds provided, with the exception of unexpended funds."

The WMF unilaterally and secretly transferred nearly $9 million of movement
funds to an outside organization not recognized by the Affiliations
Committee. No mention of the grant was made in any Board resolutions or
minutes from the relevant time period. The amount was not mentioned in the
public annual plan, which set out rather less than this amount for the
entire grantmaking budget for the year. No application was made through any
of the various Wikimedia grants processes. No further information has been
provided on the administration of this new Fund, or on the text of the
grant agreement.

I am appalled.

-- Yair Rand

[1]
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/f/f7/Wikimedia_Foundation_FY2019-2020_Audit_Report.pdf
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia Café online meeting - 15 Nov 2020, focusing on the Global Council

2020-11-15 Thread Yair Rand
Reminder that this begins in about 45 minutes. Please see the page on Meta <
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Caf%C3%A9> for more information.

-- Yair Rand (User:Yair_rand)

‫בתאריך יום ד׳, 11 בנוב׳ 2020 ב-3:05 מאת ‪Yair Rand‬‏ <‪yyairr...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> Hi everyone.
>
> The next Wikimedia Café online video meeting will occur on Sunday 15
> November 2020 at 7:00 PM UTC / 2:00 PM EST / 11:00 AM PST / Monday 12:30 AM
> IST. The focus will be on the Global Council which the Wikimedia Movement
> Strategy plan is establishing.
>
> Please see the page on Meta <
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Café> for more information. If
> there are any problems with connecting to the meeting or if you have any
> questions or comments then please write on the Meta talk page.
>
> Hope to see you there. :)
>
> -- Yair Rand (User:Yair_rand)
>
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[Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia Café online meeting - 15 Nov 2020, focusing on the Global Council

2020-11-11 Thread Yair Rand
Hi everyone.

The next Wikimedia Café online video meeting will occur on Sunday 15
November 2020 at 7:00 PM UTC / 2:00 PM EST / 11:00 AM PST / Monday 12:30 AM
IST. The focus will be on the Global Council which the Wikimedia Movement
Strategy plan is establishing.

Please see the page on Meta <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Café>
for more information. If there are any problems with connecting to the
meeting or if you have any questions or comments then please write on the
Meta talk page.

Hope to see you there. :)

-- Yair Rand (User:Yair_rand)
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Call for feedback about Wikimedia Foundation Bylaws changes and Board candidate rubric

2020-10-07 Thread Yair Rand
I am alarmed.

While the page on Meta page on the bylaws changes highlights only
additions, a direct comparison with the current bylaws shows some
significant deletions. Some issues:
* The line "(G) Board Majority. A majority of the Board Trustee positions,
without counting the Community Founder Trustee position, shall be selected
or appointed from the Affiliates collectively and the community." has been
simply deleted, with no replacement or equivalent. (This is unmentioned in
the summary.) This would allow the board to be entirely self-perpetuating.
This is made even more problematic with the change from
elections/nominations being "every three years" to "according to a schedule
determined by the Board of Trustees", and also the change from specifying a
precise number of community seats towards having just a maximum of "As many
as eight (8) Trustees...". The Board appears to be under no obligation to
continue having community-sourced seats at all, under the proposed bylaws.
* All mention of community voting has been eliminated, replaced with an
ambiguous "community nomination process". (Previously, the bylaws said
"Three Trustees will be selected from candidates approved through community
voting.")

There are currently zero members of the board that are fulfilling
community-elected terms. Their terms (which were, for two of them, required
to be their final terms before they changed the term limits) were all
supposed to have ended on September 1. I don't think there would ever be a
good time for the board to remove its own obligations to the community, but
doing it while the Board is very much lacking in legitimacy, is especially
problematic.

(Another minor point: The change from the description of the appointed
seats from "non-community-selected, non-chapter-selected" to
"non-community-sourced" seems to imply that the Board is prohibited from
filling these seats with any community members. Previously, there have been
community members in these seats.)

-- Yair Rand


‫בתאריך יום ד׳, 7 באוק׳ 2020 ב-11:12 מאת ‪Nataliia Tymkiv‬‏ <‪
ntym...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Dear all,
>
> Today the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees starts two calls for
> feedback: on changes to our Bylaws[1] mainly to increase the Board size
> from 10 to 16 members, and on a trustee candidate rubric[2] to introduce
> new, more effective ways to evaluate new board candidates. These proposals
> are part of the governance improvement process announced on 28 April[3].
>
> The Foundation’s work is wide-ranging, focused on areas including product
> development, technical infrastructure maintenance, community support,
> grantmaking, public policy advocacy, and fundraising.  In addition, the
> Foundation is charged with administering the operations of an international
> nonprofit organization responsible for a more than 500-person paid
> workforce and an annual budget of over US$100 million. Its ambitious
> mission is to support the sharing of knowledge amongst every single human
> being in partnership with Wikimedia communities across the globe.
>
> To provide sufficient strategic guidance and oversight over such a broad
> scope of work and constituents, Board members should reflect a similarly
> broad scope of expertise, experience, and backgrounds. Expanding the number
> of board seats from 10 to 16 will move us closer to this goal, supported by
> a Board candidate rubric that will help us all evaluate potential trustees
> and ensure that they can provide what the Board, Foundation, and movement
> need. The Foundation will work with the broader movement to formalize this
> rubric. Currently, trustees have to serve on more than one Board committee
> (as voting members, alternates or liaisons). This overlap is a significant
> burden, as it limits the amount of work that can be done—and the volunteer
> trustees are overworked.
>
> == Bylaws revisions ==
>
> We have published the planned revisions to the bylaws on Meta-Wiki and we
> welcome your comments through 26 October[1]. The Board has carefully
> considered the published revisions and we believe that they are a positive
> step toward accomplishing our governance reform goals. We are publishing
> these so that they are transparent to the communities before the Board’s
> final vote to adopt the revisions, and we will be responding to questions
> about the revisions on the talk page. We shall consider any suggested edits
> that would further the Board’s governance needs and goals.
>
> The revised Bylaws would maintain the current general structure of trustee
> seats, with half (8 of 16) sourced from candidates identified through
> community selection processes, one reserved for Jimmy as Founder, and the
> rest (7 of 16) selected by the Board directly. The revisions 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] A Universal Code of Conduct draft for review

2020-09-09 Thread Yair Rand
The UCoC is obviously a WMF-driven project. It was announced in June 2019
by a member of the WMF Trust and Safety team, was added to the strategy
process by the group of WMF appointees (or sometimes WMF
appointee-appointees) who made up the working group, had
pseudo-consultations about it started by WMF staff (with wildly-misleading
reports written up afterward, again by the WMF), and the UCoC itself was
drafted by a mixed group of WMF staff and WMF appointees, through a process
set by the WMF.

The communities have repeatedly expressed unambiguous consensus against
having a WMF-imposed UCoC. The WMF has absolutely no business in setting
ordinary conduct policy, and they could have the ED and every board member
and C-level declare the UCoC to be policy, and threaten every affiliate
into declaring it as policy, and the only impact would be demonstrating how
far removed they are from Wikimedia. The communities are self-governing and
will implement policy based on community decisions.

That said,  I disagree with Dan's calls for nonparticipation/noncooperation
or for specifically withholding funds or support. If we end up in a
situation where the WMF tries to block, desysop, threaten, or sue
contributors, or to seize control over the projects, that would be the time
for all editors and affiliates and donors to level-headedly level the
Foundation to its foundations. Until then, we should attempt to work with
them, even when their behaviour leaves much to be desired.

-- Yair Rand



‫בתאריך יום ד׳, 9 בספט׳ 2020 ב-16:03 מאת ‪Jackie‬‏ <‪
jackie.koer...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> Hi Dan,
>
> I hear that you are upset by the suggestion and likely implementation of a
> Universal Code of Conduct. I also hear that you feel like this is a
> WMF-driven project. I cannot change your opinion about the UCoC, but I can
> say your feelings about this being a WMF-driven project are untrue. It
> doesn't matter how strongly you feel this, it's actually many groups of
> people working together. It was determined as a major need during
> discussions I had as part of the Community Health Working Group and I am
> glad to see this moving forward.
>
> I am glad you feel comfortable expressing yourself and your feelings about
> the UCoC. I also would like to say the way in which people express
> themselves and mask insults as "lively discussion" is a huge reason why we
> need a UCoC. To that point, I agree with Isaac and would suggest you share
> in a (collegiate) conversation on the Meta talk page. I just cannot take
> you seriously with the language you used in your email. I, however, would
> love to take your comments seriously and have you engage in a good-faith
> discussion about the UCoC.
>
> Our roles in the discussion should consider not only our needs as
> individuals but the needs of the broader communities. To dismiss the UCoC
> is failing to recognize privilege and power structures and their effect on
> people in and outside of the Wikimedia community.
>
> Best,
>
> Jackie
>
> On Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 1:42 PM Isaac Olatunde 
> wrote:
>
> > Hello Dan,
> >
> > You are allowed to offer an opinion but I Honestly think that's better
> and
> > more useful on the Draft talk page.
> >
> > That being said, by "effective vote or representation in the
> proceedings",
> > you probably expected a different model where different language
> > Wikip(m)edia community would be represented or vote on weather to have a
> > UCoC.
> >
> > The current model isn't bad.  I do think we should review the draft and
> if
> > there are specific wording we disagree with, we can either suggest
> > improvement or removal altogether. I honestly think we need to help and
> > support the drafting committee at this stage.
> >
> > Regards
> >
> > Isaac
> >
> > On Tue, 8 Sep 2020, 19:25 Dan Szymborski,  wrote:
> >
> > > I'm also perfectly free to express to the IRS that I'd really like to
> > get a
> > > $10 million check from them at tax time. The ability to offer an
> opinion
> > on
> > > proceedings with no effective vote or representation in the proceedings
> > is
> > > about as good as a fart in the wind. I'd prefer the WMF keep its
> > flatulence
> > > to itself.
> > >
> > > On Tue, Sep 8, 2020 at 2:17 PM Isaac Olatunde <
> reachout2is...@gmail.com>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > On the contrary, I do not think this is an imposition by the Board or
> > WMF
> > > > as we are allowed to comment on the draft, and suggest improvement.
> > > >
> > > > I have been following the process closely and I do not see anything
> > that
> > > >

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Introducing Diff – a blog by and for the Wikimedia volunteer community

2020-07-15 Thread Yair Rand
I am concerned.

Although it is purported to be "by and for the Wikimedia volunteer
community", the blog is clearly run by the WMF, the editorial team is made
up of WMF staff, the WMF handles moderating, the guidelines were written by
the WMF, the blog was created by the WMF without community consultation or
input, and the structure and category system are clearly WMF-oriented.
Also, it's based on WordPress, yet again, and with a very
problematic privacy policy which probably won't be acceptable to many in
the community.

This is not a positive development, in my opinion.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ד׳, 15 ביולי 2020 ב-15:31 מאת ‪Andy Mabbett‬‏ <‪
a...@pigsonthewing.org.uk‬‏>:‬

> On Wed, 15 Jul 2020 at 18:50, Chris Koerner 
> wrote:
>
> > Diff builds on lessons and  experiences from  the
> > Wikimedia Blog, the Wikimedia Foundation News, and Wikimedia Space;
> > previous posts from these channels are archived on Diff.
>
> Based on my involvement with the Blog, I've identified some issues...
>
> At the request of the WMF, in 2017 I wrote a blog post, which was
> published - after WMF's editorial approval - at:
>
>https://blog.wikimedia.org/2017/11/29/astronaut-spoken-voice/
>
> an independently-archived copy may be found at:
>
>
> https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://blog.wikimedia.org/2017/11/29/astronaut-spoken-voice/
>
> This has now been republished at:
>
>https://diff.wikimedia.org/2017/11/29/astronaut-spoken-voice/
>
> to which the original URL has now been redirected.
>
>
> The new version of the article has  footer, saying:
>
>Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, and
>as such was written under a different editorial standard than Diff.
>
> I am concerned that this unexplained comment may not reflect well on
> me, as the named author.
>
>
> The new version of my author profile page:
>
>https://diff.wikimedia.org/author/cap-andy-mabbet/
>
> is missing the thumbnail image for the blog post; compare with the
> archived version:
>
>
> https://web.archive.org/web/20191218122440/https://blog.wikimedia.org/author/andy-mabbet/
>
> (the spelling error in the URL has carried over from the original).
>
> > The channel
> > is primarily intended for community-authored posts, in which
> > volunteers can share their stories, learnings, and ideas with each
> > other.
>
> I didn't write the above post simply to share the story with other
> volunteers; it was written - I again emphasise, at the WMF's request -
>  for a global audience, and presented to the press as such, as part of
> a joint publicity initiative with the European Space Agency.
>
> > content on Diff can be written and
> > translated into languages to reach a wide audience.
>
> My original post - as can be seen from the banner in the version at
> the Internet Archive - was kindly translated into Italian (apt, as the
> subject was an Italian Astronaut) and French. The banner containing
> the links to those translations is missing from the "Diff" copy.
>
> The original URLs of the italian and French versions:
>
>
> https://blog.wikimedia.org/it/2017/11/29/wikipedia-lascia-il-pianeta-terra
>
>
> https://blog.wikimedia.org/fr/2017/12/01/wikipedia-quitte-la-planete-terre
>
> now redirect, respectively, to:
>
>
> https://diff.wikimedia.org/it/2017/11/29/wikipedia-lascia-il-pianeta-terra
>
>
> https://diff.wikimedia.org/fr/2017/12/01/wikipedia-quitte-la-planete-terre
>
> each of which are returning a 404 error.
>
> Several links to the original Italian URL, from the Italian-language
> Wikipedia, including those in encyclopedia articles, and two links to
> the original French URL on the French-language Wikipedia, are now
> broken. Obviously this also applies to any external sites that link to
> them, too.
>
> > Still curious to learn more?
>
> Yes: What consultation was carried out with contributors, and the
> wider the Wikimedia community, to inform this change?
>
> --
> Andy Mabbett
> @pigsonthewing
> http://pigsonthewing.org.uk
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Paid API?

2020-06-14 Thread Yair Rand
The strategy recommendations include the text: "Explore fees or
sustainability models for enterprise-scale commercial reusers, taking care
to avoid revenue dependencies or other undue external influence in product
design and development. / Develop appropriate safeguards to ensure
continued free, unrestricted access for non-commercial, research, and small
to moderate commercial use." Earlier versions elaborate somewhat, and there
were considerable reservations expressed about the idea during the process.

It is quite concerning.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום א׳, 14 ביוני 2020 ב-14:33 מאת ‪Amir Sarabadani‬‏ <‪
ladsgr...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> Hello,
> Today I stumbled upon this public phabricator ticket [1] created by someone
> from WMF starting with:
> "My team is creating bi-weekly HTML Dumps for all of the wikis, except for
> wikidata as part of the paid API project."
>
> I have so many questions:
>  - What is the "paid API" project? Are we planning to make money out of our
> API? Now are we selling our dumps?
>  - If so, why is this not communicated before? Why are we kept in the dark?
>  - Does the board know and approve it?
>  - How is this going to align with our core values like openness and
> transparency?
>  - The ticket implicitly says these are going to be stored on AWS ("S3
> bucket"). Is this thought through? Specially the ethical problems of
> feeding Jeff Bezos' empire? (If you have seen this episode of Hasan
> Minhaj's on ethical issues of using AWS [2]). Why can't we do/host this on
> Wikimedia infrastructure? Has this been evaluated?
>  - Why is the community not consulted about this?
>
> Maybe I missed announcements, consultations or anything, forgive me for my
> ignorance. Any pointers is enough. I also understand diversifying our
> revenue is a good tool for rainy days but a consultation with the community
> wouldn't be too bad.
>
> [1]: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T254275
> [2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5maXvZ5fyQY
>
> Best
> --
> Amir (he/him)
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the Wikimedia-movement apolitical?

2020-04-27 Thread Yair Rand
My point about NPOV was referring to article content, as the previous post
seemed to suggest that the WMF can and does try to influence articles
non-neutrally.

I don't understand your point about the Sustainability Initiative. To the
best of my knowledge, the Sustainability Initiative (which was approved by
the Board, IIRC) does not include any public advocacy efforts. I haven't
said anything against the Initiative, and I don't oppose it myself. I do
think the WMF should not undertake any public advocacy efforts which do not
comply with the guidelines[1].

Earth Day Live was pushing many, many political positions, not just
campaign finance reform.

It doesn't take much searching to find any of the on-wiki discussions which
show conclusively that the community opposes general political advocacy. On
the wikis themselves, this isn't a matter of controversy. Activism outside
the five identified areas that relate to Wikimedia activities (Access,
Censorship, Copyright, Intermediary liability, and Privacy; see the public
policy portal and associated documents) is not acceptable, and advocacy is
only acceptable even within those areas under limited circumstances.

-- Yair Rand

[1]
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Legal/Foundation_Policy_and_Political_Association_Guideline


‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 27 באפר׳ 2020 ב-20:00 מאת ‪Bill Takatoshi‬‏ <‪
billtakato...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> On Mon, Apr 27, 2020 at 4:41 PM Yair Rand  wrote:
> >
> > Neutral Point of View is a fundamental founding principle. Per the
> policy,
> > NPOV "is non-negotiable, and the principles upon which it is based cannot
> > be superseded by other policies or guidelines, nor by editor consensus."
> It
> > may not be violated, period.
>
> Are you suggesting that the Foundation may not take any political
> positions at all?
>
> > The Wikimedia Foundation's mission still stands. It does not include
> > promoting a higher minimum wage, nor public advocacy for
> environmentalism.
>
> I doubt that more than 20% of the long-term project editor base share
> that opinion. Can you point to even a single instance other than your
> own dozen or two complaints to this list of anyone opposed to the
> WMF's Sustainability Initiative. The only comments about it ever say
> that it should be doing more (I agree: we should be flexing our muscle
> with the datacenter operators to ask them to buy renewable power,
> perhaps in return for the visibility of a joint press release or
> acknowledgment on a high-traffic page, or both.)
>
> And again, I doubt even 5% of the long term editor base is opposed to
> campaign finance reform, which was the only only issue championed by
> the Earth Day Live sponsors, and I doubt less than 10% thinks that
> both issues support the Mission to "engage and empower" free content
> contributors. Similarly for living wage standards, which support the
> ability of editors to fund their living so they don't, for example,
> need to take two jobs and thereby lack time to edit. I am sure you can
> see the connection, but for whatever reason you simply choose not to.
>
> I repeat my request for the Foundation to survey the editor base to
> put an end to this disruptive bickering.
>
> -Will
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the Wikimedia-movement apolitical?

2020-04-27 Thread Yair Rand
 @Smirkybec: Studying a certain country's history may, incidentally, make
readers think more highly of the country in question. That does not mean
that the goal of hosting the article is to make the country look good. It
also does not mean that "making the country look good" has become one of
the Wikimedia movement's objectives.

Regarding the examples: Neither the projects nor the WMF have made any
effort to promote any ideology in those articles. The Wikimedia projects
endeavor to neutrally document topics. Surely nobody thinks that
WikiProject Buddhism, WikiProject Conservatism, or WikiProject Feminism are
about promoting these things rather than neutrally documenting them? I have
a hard time imagining a viewpoint which leads one to think that edits and
grants must be about winning a political argument, or that the WMF should
intentionally promote particular ideologies through Wikipedia's content.

Neutral Point of View is a fundamental founding principle. Per the policy,
NPOV "is non-negotiable, and the principles upon which it is based cannot
be superseded by other policies or guidelines, nor by editor consensus." It
may not be violated, period. If there are some contributors that think it's
okay to violate NPOV so long as it's for a cause that some in the WMF like,
we have a serious problem.

@Pbsouthwood: Re "bias" towards verifiability, etc: We must distinguish
between bias in content, "bias" in content creation/curation processes, and
bias in institutional behaviour/advocacy/activism. No Wikipedia article
non-neutrally trumpets the praises of verifiability. The WMF doesn't go
around trying to convince random individuals that verifiability is a great
thing in general, or that civil discourse should be promoted in every facet
of life. It is important not to mix these things up. Suggesting that we're
biased because we ask people to use the proper templates is silly.

@Smirkybec (earlier post) Re the idea that political inaction is the same
as supporting the status quo, and is therefore "being political" on its
own: No. Taking action to support the status quo is supporting the status
quo. Inaction is neither the same as taking actions opposing the status
quo, nor the same as taking actions supporting the status quo.

@Gnangarra Re the idea that one's political faction has a monopoly on
neutrality, and therefore neutrality itself implies taking a political
side: ...You know what, I'm not going to engage with that. (If I've
inadvertently misrepresented the argument, clarification would be
appreciated.)

--

On the issue of prohibitions on WMF engagement in advocacy unrelated to our
goals again: (I know that's from the other thread, but things seem to have
veered in that direction so...)

The Wikimedia Foundation's mission still stands. It does not include
promoting a higher minimum wage, nor public advocacy for environmentalism.
Even if the recent incident hadn't included every left-wing cause from here
to Sunday, and had only been about environmentalism, it would still have
been a violation of important standards which were endorsed by every
community-elected member of the board shortly before their most recent
election, and of principles regularly reinforced by community discussion
every time this comes up on-wiki. Our neutrality means we don't need a
separate Wikimedia for every political faction of every country, it means
our institutions' roles aren't stocked with people who got there
to influence politics, it means our success can be everyone's successes. It
is absolutely necessary for the Wikimedia movement to function.

(@Nathan re stats: wikimediafoundation.org gets roughly 10,000 views per
day, and the banner was up for the full 24-hour period, IIUC.)

-- Yair Rand


‫בתאריך יום א׳, 26 באפר׳ 2020 ב-18:03 מאת ‪Rebecca O'Neill‬‏ <‪
rebeccanin...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> Seeing as you decided to call me out specifically, that line of reasoning
> falls apart when you note that WMF foundations funds and supports
> initiatives that would been seen as supporting all of those examples you
> gave:
>
>- Wiki Loves Earth for animal sanctuaries, highlighting areas of natural
>beauty and those that require protection
>- WikiProject Medicine covers articles relating to opioid (and all
>manner of other addictions)
>- Art+Feminism and Wikimedia LGBT+ work to promote issues relating to
>LGBT+ and feminist content worldwide
>
>
> On Sun, 26 Apr 2020 at 22:35, Nathan  wrote:
>
> > There's a tendency of people with an association with the Wikimedia
> > movement to see it as a hammer that can be swung at every nail. This is
> > embodied most perfectly in the e-mail by Rebecca O'Neil, who claims that
> if
> > WMF doesn't take a position on any issue (or every issue?), it is taking
> a
> > position in support of the status quo.
> >
> > That is a

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Is the Wikimedia-movement apolitical?

2020-04-26 Thread Yair Rand
"Is the Wikimedia movement political?"

For starters, some important points:
1. If you redefine a word to include "literally everything", you've defined
the word out of existence. The word becomes no longer useful for conveying
any information, and therefore, by any measure, you've simply made it
harder to communicate.
2. If two people are debating "Is X Y", and they completely disagree about
the meaning of Y, they're debating words, not things.

I have to bring these points up, because in these situations some people,
completely seriously, state that "everything is political". Obviously, this
completely reduces the debate down to nonsense, as much as it would to say
"everything is apolitical". The answer to the question "Is Wikimedia X?"
when defining X to be universally-inclusive, is yes regardless of what
series of letters you fill in there. Similarly, when X is a null set, the
answer is always no. (In the likely event that there was a more subtle
point being made with the wording, I'm afraid I missed it entirely.)

So, to the actual concepts here: Assuming we mean "political" as in
"relating to government policy, legislation, or electoral activities"
(given that it is, you know, what the word means), then the answer is
_generally_ no. There is broad agreement that Wikimedia must never
deliberately influence elections, and, excluding the efforts by our
affiliated corporations, the Wikimedia projects typically avoid trying to
influence government policy/legislation except in order to avoid being
seriously harmed by the government. The WMF and affiliates also
occasionally make limited efforts to influence governments (without getting
involved in elections) in ways that will advance the Wikimedia Mission.

Nobody editing some article on prehistoric vombatiforms is thinking, "if I
improve this article, my side will win the election!".

If one wants to argue, "freeing knowledge is inherently tied to government
actions, so Wikimedia must be broadly involved in all areas of politics and
elections", that's, well, wrong. If one wants to argue, "freeing knowledge
doesn't necessarily need to be associated with elections and such, but
Wikimedia should get involved in indigenous rights and labor reform because
we, as individuals, care about those things", it's not nonsense, but it's
also a position extremely strongly opposed by the Wikimedia community, for
good reason.

Wikimedia is about allowing people to freely share in the sum of all
knowledge. Its purpose is not to influence elections or governments. If one
uses a definition of "apolitical" which falls under that, then yes, the
Wikimedia movement is apolitical.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך שבת, 25 באפר׳ 2020 ב-11:50 מאת ‪John Erling Blad‬‏ <‪
jeb...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

> It is said quite often that the Wikimedia-movement is apolitical. In
> strongly believe the movement with its goal has never been, and never will
> be apolitical. When we say that knowledge should be free and fully
> available for everyone, then we make a political statement. It may not
> align with you favorite love/hate political party, but it is still a very
> strong political statement.
>
> So please, don't claim the movement to be apolitical. We may not align with
> any specific political party in any specific country, but we are still not
> apolitical.
>
> /jeblad
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF political activism

2020-04-24 Thread Yair Rand
This would not have happened had there been any oversight (community or
otherwise), and it could have been pulled down quickly enough had there
been any community members with the ability to edit the site. Perhaps it's
time to reconsider how the WMF corporate site operates.

I appreciate that the WMF is committed doing more thorough due diligence in
the future. It's very important to do so. There's a very good reason why
community consultation is required when dealing with any Collaborative
Advocacy, but given that even existing requirements weren't followed, I'm
not very optimistic that this new commitment holds weight.

Also importantly, the Foundation's Policy and Political Association
Guideline, which was written by WMF Legal in the aftermath of SOPA to iron
out clear boundaries on activism, explicitly rules out any political
activism relating to environmental issues, stating:
> Policy and political associations should protect and advance Wikimedia’s
mission “to empower and engage people around the world to collect and
develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain,
and to disseminate it effectively and globally.” Accordingly, we will not
support causes unrelated to or inconsistent with that mission. For example,
no support should be given to: environmental issues; [...]"

The WMF just inadvertently threw its weight behind dozens of controversial
causes that have nothing to do with our mission. I hope that the WMF will
manage to operate more appropriately in the future.

--Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ו׳, 24 באפר׳ 2020 ב-1:18 מאת ‪Gregory Varnum‬‏ <‪
gvar...@wikimedia.org‬‏>:‬

> Hi all,
>
> I am responding on behalf of the Foundation in my capacity handling
> movement communications, including managing any campaigns on
> wikimediafoundation.org.
>
> As others from the Foundation have stated on this mailing list in the
> past, from time to time the Wikimedia Foundation engages in public policy
> matters which are aligned with the advancement of the Wikimedia mission or
> our values as an organization.
>
> Having said that, we agree with some of the criticisms you have raised. We
> had understood the Earth Day Live campaign to be both global and
> apolitical. However, we agree that the final campaign was both more
> US-centric and more political than we had understood in advance. The banner
> is no longer running, and in the future we will do more thorough due
> diligence.
>
> We remain strongly committed to climate sustainability as a value of the
> Wikimedia Foundation. We will continue to advocate on behalf of it and
> other values that uplift and advance free knowledge globally.
>
> I hope you all had a productive and safe Earth Day, and wish you all
> continued health and safety.
>
> Yours,
> -greg
>
> ---
> Gregory Varnum
> Communications Strategist
> Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>
> gvar...@wikimedia.org
> Pronouns: He/Him/His
>
> > On Apr 23, 2020, at 3:07 AM, RhinosF1 -  wrote:
> >
> > Should this be posted on wiki for others to sign?
> >
> > Samuel
> >
> > On Thu, 23 Apr 2020 at 07:51, Fæ  wrote:
> >
> >> OPEN LETTER
> >>
> >> Dear Katherine Maher,
> >>
> >> The WMF home website landing page (https://wikimediafoundation.org)
> >> yesterday featured a full-page banner directing all visitors globally
> >> to https://www.earthdaylive2020.org. This is a site used for Americal
> >> political lobbying, refer to the email discussion attached.
> >>
> >> Could you, or the responsible member of your management team, please
> >> explain exactly how this happened?
> >>
> >> There is zero doubt that this was a serious operational error, misuse
> >> of WMF development time and a misuse of the Wikimedia brand. It is
> >> certain that you will agree that the buck stops with the CEO. The
> >> decision to use the Foundation's website for American lobbying is in
> >> conflict with your not for profit status and is in conflict with the
> >> charitable status promoted to donors worldwide.
> >>
> >> If the management team and yourself are going to continuing political
> >> lobbying and using WMF resources to raise funds for Americal political
> >> organizations which have no agreed relevance to the mission of the
> >> Foundation, there must be a published transparent governance review by
> >> the WMF board of trustees to examine and agree on this significant
> >> operational change to the public Foundation strategy and the terms for
> >> the CEO.
> >>
> >> Thank you in advance.
> >>
> >> Link to Phabricator task to implement 

[Wikimedia-l] WMF political activism, yet again

2020-04-22 Thread Yair Rand
The WMF corporate site (wikimediafoundation.org) currently has a
full-page ad with the text "We are watching Earth Day Live today. Will
you?". This links to an external site with the text "Click here to sign on
to the US Youth Climate Strike Coalition Earth Day Demands - From congress
and the next president, we demand a People’s Bailout, a Green New Deal, and
Land Back for Indigenous Peoples", and prompting readers to "Pledge to vote
for our future" and to subscribe to "US Climate Strike".

Everyone here already knows how unacceptable this is, and why, so I don't
think this requires any further explanation. The WMF should immediately
take this down, and make certain that this kind of thing can't happen
again. They've failed yet again at preventing inappropriate
political activism in WMF's communications, and must take serious action to
fix this constant stream of terrible failures.

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

2019-09-08 Thread Yair Rand
The broad proposal was clearly rejected. The community has not authorized
the Wikimedia Foundation to let any organization speak under Wikipedia's
name. If a formal RfC is to be held to make a final decision (perhaps with
the question subdivided, per Pine), I recommend delaying it for a while so
we might have a chance for some respite from permanent crisis mode.

The summary, in my opinion, is not adequate, and skips many of the most
significant arguments. (The talk page itself skips some, after the WMF had
a large portion of the talk page moved to a different page, including a
string of "strong oppose"s. Those who participated in the removed sections
were not counted in the WMF's count, for some reason.)

I do not understand what is going on within the Foundation regarding KPIs,
but I get the impression that groups were required to establish metrics of
some kind, without any actual oversight on how those metrics would work.
Thus, we get things like the branding proposal's "anything less than 1800
users posting statements in opposition will be considered strong support,
1800-2700 will be considered substantial support, 2700-3600 opposed will be
considered moderate support". Similar things have been happening elsewhere,
eg, for the WMF's "Space" project. (Speaking of which, holding a discussion
on a private off-wiki forum is not a valid method of community decision
making, for branding or otherwise.)

-- Yair Rand



‫בתאריך שבת, 7 בספט׳ 2019 ב-20:54 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪wiki.p...@gmail.com‬‏>:‬

>  I too think that an RfC is a good option here. I suggest having multiple
> questions in the RfC. Questions could include, "What should the
> organization that is currently known as the Wikimedia Foundation be
> named?", "Should there be a unifying brand for the online projects such as
> Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Wikimedia Commons?", "If there is a unifying brand
> for the online projects then what should it be?", "Should there be a
> unifying brand for affiliates?", and "If there is a unifying brand for
> affiliates then what should it be?"
>
> Overall I think that the report on Meta
> <
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Communications/Wikimedia_brands/2030_research_and_planning/community_review/results
> >
> makes for good reading as background information for an RfC.
>
> I want to caution against trying to make too many big decisions at once.
> There is already a strategy process underway which has consumed a
> considerable number of volunteer hours, and the community has precious
> little capacity relative to normal operational demands without this ongoing
> strategy process being piled on top of everything else that people want the
> community to do. There seems to be infinite demand for free skilled labor,
> but a finite supply of that same labor. I encourage both WMF and the
> community to think carefully about which questions to prioritize so that we
> are not all overstretched and a significant number of problems slip through
> the cracks because collectively there were not adequate human resources to
> thoughtfully address so many questions in a narrow period of time and
> develop consensus regarding how to move forward.
>
> Pine
> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Introducing Wikimedia Space: A space for movement news and conversations

2019-06-25 Thread Yair Rand
‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 25 ביוני 2019 ב-18:02 מאת ‪Lucas Werkmeister‬‏ <‪
m...@lucaswerkmeister.de‬‏>:‬

> On 25.06.19 23:18, Yair Rand wrote:
> > So far outside Wikimedia
> > spaces that the only place it was even _announced_ was an off-wiki
> mailing
> > list?
>
> Where would you have announced it, then? I asked for a movement-wide
> announcement place a while ago in a different context [1] and got no
> satisfactory answer; the most popular one was wikimedia-l (this list),
> and the only on-wiki answers were “the village pumps” (i. e. scattered)
> – with the caveat that you should translate your message first, which
> doesn’t scale well. I’m not saying the Space shouldn’t have been
> announced anywhere else, but it certainly seems to me that there is a
> need for a space like it, and in particular I don’t understand why you
> criticize the choice of wikimedia-l for the initial announcement when
> there seems to be good consensus for it being a central movement
> announcement and discussion platform.
>
> [1]: https://twitter.com/LucasWerkmeistr/status/1107337860389265413


I would have publicly announced it at least on the place that it's trying
to replace: Meta-wiki.


> > Every single moderator is a WMF employee?
>
> There can hardly be many other moderators immediately after launch, but
> if you check the “trust levels and user rights” post [2], you’ll see
> that the software (Discourse) automatically promotes users based on
> certain criteria (similar to autoconfirmed status on-wiki), and the
> highest level seems in principle to be open to any user (though the
> criteria still have to be fleshed out, which to me seems reasonable at
> this stage.)
>
>
The outline ELappen (WMF) put up says explicitly that Wikimedia Space is
intended to be "A news and discussion space for the Wikimedia movement run
by Community Relations."

In the past, Wikimedia institutions have built things at the community's
request, with an clear "We set up the technical work, everything in it is
the community's responsibility now" message. This is pretty much the exact
opposite of that, especially since there already was a space that was
community-run with the same scope.

Moderation of communications is something the WMF does not run, period. The
perception that the WMF might think it can get involved in it is what led
to the current chaos on enwiki.

[2]:
>
> https://discuss-space.wmflabs.org/t/trust-levels-and-user-rights-in-wikimedia-space/89
>
> > Forum using closed groups, with non-transparent communication?
>
> This question is a bit too short for me to make sense of, sorry. Closed
> groups are not the default, so are you criticizing their mere existence?
> Do you want to claim that that closed groups are never, ever warranted?
> Because in my experience the claim at [3] that “[b]ecause on-wiki spaces
> don’t allow for [closed] collaboration, some volunteers have gravitated
> toward … other … platforms” is completely true.
>
> [3]: https://discuss-space.wmflabs.org/t/closed-groups/87
>
>
It is very deliberate that on-wiki spaces don't allow for closed
collaboration. Non-transparent activities is generally not accepted without
a very good reason.

> (Closed-source software, unless I'm mistaken?)
>
> Both WordPress and Discourse are free and open source software.
>
>
Last time the WMF set something up with WordPress, they did the whole thing
in private, failed to publish the source code for the custom theme for
months after launch, and also user violated privacy requirements by sharing
data with third parties by loading data from external websites. I see a new
website secretly set up with WordPress, a new tracker for the fact that
it's violating the privacy of every user by loading third-party resources
(T226559), and no mention anywhere of the publishing of the theme's source
code. It is, of course, perfectly possible that I just missed it, or that
there's no issue for some other reason.

Also there's no content license information anywhere. Or pages about dumps,
which would probably be necessary for allowing forking.

I don't understand how we got to the point where something like this isn't
even known about until after its launch. Or how it looks like everything
about it was built by the WMF. I don't understand what's going on in there.
It's quite concerning.

-- Yair Rand


> Cheers,
> Lucas
>
> >
> > Is there something the Wikimedia Foundation would like to tell us?
> >
> > -- Yair Rand
> >
> > ‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 25 ביוני 2019 ב-14:56 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪
> wiki.p...@gmail.com
> > ‬‏>:‬
> >
> >> Hi Maria,
> >>
> >> Thanks for this update.
> >>
> >> I hope that you can answer a question. I may be mistaken, but my
> impression
> &

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Introducing Wikimedia Space: A space for movement news and conversations

2019-06-25 Thread Yair Rand
I'm getting so many red flags.

Established by WMF via secret (non-transparent) process, with no community
involvement? Non-wiki environment, with the same scope as existing wikis?
WMF-decided conduct policies? Every single moderator is a WMF employee?
Forum using closed groups, with non-transparent communication?
(Closed-source software, unless I'm mistaken?) So far outside Wikimedia
spaces that the only place it was even _announced_ was an off-wiki mailing
list?

Is there something the Wikimedia Foundation would like to tell us?

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 25 ביוני 2019 ב-14:56 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪wiki.p...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> Hi Maria,
>
> Thanks for this update.
>
> I hope that you can answer a question. I may be mistaken, but my impression
> is that the purposes that are outlined for Wikimedia Space are within the
> intended scopes of the Meta and Outreach wikis, as well as Wikimedia-l. I
> think that the community would be willing to consider design improvements
> and additional features for Meta and Outreach, such as calendar and map
> tools that are easy to use. Design improvements and additional features
> might also be welcome by third parties who use MediaWiki software and could
> eventually have the option to implement the changes on their own sites. Can
> you explain the decision to launch a new site instead of proposing design
> improvements and additional features for Meta and Outreach?
>
> Thank you,
>
> Pine
> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fram en.wp office yearlock block

2019-06-13 Thread Yair Rand
User:Fram posted on Commons a slice of what is purportedly the email from
T, which says that "this ban has been triggered following your recent
abusive communications on the project, as seen here" linking to the diff in
question (#895438118). The WMFOffice account has made three statements
since the discussion of the post began (these statements made on the same
page where that discussion occured), none of which denied (or referenced at
all) the accuracy of the snippet. That's all we know.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ה׳, 13 ביוני 2019 ב-1:59 מאת ‪David Gerard‬‏ <‪dger...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> On Thu, 13 Jun 2019 at 00:19, Nathan  wrote:
>
> >  The
> > T team made a very token effort to intervene, and then imposed a high
> > profile ban with the flimsy excuse of a diff that says "fuck arbcom".
> They
> > then used that diff to excuse not including ArbCom, as if ArbCom had
> never
> > been subjected to any abuse before.
>
> Did they actually do that, or was that Fram claiming it was the cause?
>
>
> - d.
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Fram en.wp office yearlock block

2019-06-12 Thread Yair Rand
Philippe, the email from Trust & Safety said quite clearly that the ban was
triggered by edit 895438118. I assume that T would not lie about their
reasons for something like this.

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 11 ביוני 2019 ב-22:35 מאת ‪Philippe Beaudette‬‏ <‪
phili...@beaudette.me‬‏>:‬

> Nathan writes:
>
> *“Why are WMF staffers so*
>
> *deeply, fundamentally disconnected from the communities where they feel
> the*
> *right to ban people for saying "fuck arbcom"?”*
>
>
> I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case here and would be utterly
> shocked if a t staff member had indeed banned for saying that.
>
> If the situation is anything like what it was when I was at WMF, a ban such
> as this requires multiple levels of review by a couple of different teams
> (in my time, we would not have considered a ban such as this without sign
> off from the community and legal teams, for instance). I don’t know if the
> process is the same now but I would be surprised to hear that any single
> staff member would feel comfortable banning on his or her authority alone.
> Multiple levels of review exist in order to ensure that ban reasons are
> valid and appropriate.
>
> Philippe
>
> On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 6:55 PM Nathan  wrote:
>
> > Wow, what a cluster. How does the WMF get themselves into these things? I
> > have ten edits to en.wp since 2018 and even I could have 100% predicted
> the
> > entire spectrum, and scale, of the reaction here. Why are WMF staffers so
> > deeply, fundamentally disconnected from the communities where they feel
> the
> > right to ban people for saying "fuck arbcom"?
> >
> > On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 3:49 PM Todd Allen  wrote:
> >
> > > Amir, yes, ArbCom members must sign the WMF confidentiality agreement
> for
> > > nonpublic information (
> > >
> > >
> >
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Confidentiality_agreement_for_nonpublic_information
> > > )
> > > , as must all functionaries (checkuser, oversight, etc.). I was on the
> > > English Wikipedia ArbCom for two years, and it was routine for us to
> deal
> > > with sensitive, private information.
> > >
> > > Todd
> > >
> > > On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 9:46 AM Amir Sarabadani 
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > People who oppose the ban: Are you aware of all aspects and things
> Fram
> > > has
> > > > done? Do you have the full picture? It's really saddening to see how
> > fast
> > > > people jump to conclusion in page mentioned in the email. I
> personally,
> > > > don't know what happened so I neither can support or oppose the ban.
> As
> > > > simple as that.
> > > >
> > > > So what should be done IMO. If enwiki wants to know more, a community
> > > body
> > > > can ask for more information, if body satisfy two things:
> > > >  - They had signed NDA not to disclose the case
> > > >  - They are trusted by the community
> > > >
> > > > I think the only body can sorta work with this is stewards but not
> sure
> > > > (Does ArbCom NDA'ed?)
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > On Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 3:58 PM Paulo Santos Perneta <
> > > > paulospern...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > Lack of transparency from the WMF, whatelse is new.
> > > > > I'm currently under a funding ban secretly decided (by who?) based
> > on a
> > > > > false accusation, without providing any evidence. Until now I'm
> > waiting
> > > > for
> > > > > an explanation from the WMF. So, this sort of attitude doesn't
> > surprise
> > > > me
> > > > > at all.
> > > > > It is very unfortunate that the WMF apparently thrives in this kind
> > of
> > > > > medieval obscurity, the opposite of the values of the Wikimedia
> > > Movement.
> > > > > Matter for Roles & Reponsibilities.
> > > > >
> > > > > Best,
> > > > > Paulo
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > Benjamin Ikuta  escreveu no dia terça,
> > > > 11/06/2019
> > > > > à(s) 05:45:
> > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Thanks for this.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > I'm glad to see I'm not the only one dismayed by the
> unilateralism
> > > and
> > > > > > lack of transparency.
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > > On Jun 10, 2019, at 8:25 PM, Techman224 <
> techman...@techman224.ca>
> > > > > wrote:
> > > > > >
> > > > > > > Forwarding to WIkimedia-l since WikiEN-l is relatively dead.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > Since this message, an Arbcom member (SilkTork) stated that
> they
> > > > > weren't
> > > > > > consulted, nor did this action was the result of Arbcom
> forwarding
> > a
> > > > > > concern to the office. [1]
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > The only non-response excuse from the WMF [2] was that "local
> > > > > > communities consistently struggle to uphold not just their own
> > > > autonomous
> > > > > > rules but the Terms of Use, too.” even though there were no
> > > complaints
> > > > > > on-wiki nor to Arbcom privately.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > The on-wiki discussion is taking place at the Bureaucrats and
> the
> > > > > Arbcom
> > > > > > noticeboards.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > >
> > > >
> > >
> >
> 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF and non-WMF funding for Wikimedia work

2018-09-05 Thread Yair Rand
I'm sorry, my understanding of how Grants are supposed to work was
incorrect. From the board FAQ on the FDC resolution: "The GAC [Grant
Advisory Committee], or something like it, will also need to exist even
when the FDC is up and running, to handle smaller and less complex grants."
There does not appear to be any intention to hand over responsibility for
small grants to the FDC or other non-WMF body. Which leaves us back at the
start, with no existing way to avoid WMF influence or interference in
grants.

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ג׳, 4 בספט׳ 2018 ב-2:01 מאת ‪Yair Rand‬‏ <‪yyairr...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> As far as I can tell, the way that this is supposed to work is for there
> to be no WMF influence on funds distribution.
>
> "We affirm that all funds given to the Wikimedia movement are given in
> support of our global projects... funds raised via the Wikimedia project
> sites should be considered to be movement money, not the entitlement of a
> particular organization or stakeholder. Decision-making about funds
> dissemination should be broad and inclusive, consistent with our mission,
> vision and values. ... To support a broader and more inclusive
> decision-making process for funds distribution, the Wikimedia Foundation
> will create a volunteer-driven body (working title: the Funds Dissemination
> Committee, or FDC) whose sole purpose will be to make recommendations to
> the Wikimedia Foundation for funding activities and initiatives in support
> of the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. All funds raised via the
> Wikimedia project sites will be distributed via the recommendations of the
> FDC, with the exception of Wikimedia Foundation core operating costs and
> the operating reserve as described above." -- Board of Trustees,
> [[wmf:Resolution:Funds Dissemination Committee]]
>
> Where are we on this? Since the 2015-16 annual plan the WMF hasn't been
> filling out its FDC applications (to regular objections every annual plan
> review and FDC election), and the Grants process pages on Meta are
> prominently labeled "Wikimedia Foundation Grants". I'm having difficulty
> finding out how the various Grants systems are run, but the IEG final
> decisions are apparently made by WMF staff, and the FDC doesn't seem to be
> directly involved in those?
>
> I haven't found any retraction of the original board resolution, so I
> assume that the current situation is a temporary setup until whatever
> remaining obstacles are dealt with and the FDC is capable of fulfilling its
> mandate. (I don't know what these obstacles might be. I think it would be
> helpful if the WMF and/or Board would comment on this.) Although the WMF,
> for the duration, appears to act as though it's their money to distribute
> and makes many of the relevant decisions, that appears not to be the
> (eventual) intended process.
>
> (My apologies if some of this is inaccurate. The pages on Meta aren't well
> organized, and it's hard to get a coherent picture of how things work.)
>
> (Also, FWIW, I really think it would be a bad idea to directly fund
> content creation or Signpost support.)
>
> -- Yair Rand
>
> ‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 3 בספט׳ 2018 ב-22:07 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪wiki.p...@gmail.com
> ‬‏>:‬
>
>> I apologize for the unusually large load of typos, especially misspelling
>> Kaarel's name. Usually I get enough sleep but last night I didn't.
>> Apparently my attention to detail is diminished.
>>
>> I'm rapidly spending my Wikimedia-l quota of 15 emails per calendar month,
>> so if there is extensive discussion on this topic then I may ask that we
>> move the conversation to a wiki page.
>>
>> Regards,
>>
>> Pine
>> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
>>
>>
>> On Mon, Sep 3, 2018 at 9:02 PM Pine W  wrote:
>>
>> > Hello colleagues,
>> >
>> > A topic which I feel that I should address again on this mailing list is
>> > revenue for Wikimedia work, specifically WMF and non-WMF sources of
>> revenue.
>> >
>> > I will start by talking about my personal situation, and then discuss
>> some
>> > related situations.
>> >
>> > I am currently requesting a grant from WMF. I cannot afford afford to
>> work
>> > on this project in a sustainable way without funding, and I feel that I
>> am
>> > making a request that is reasonably aligned with market rates for
>> someone
>> > with my current level of skills and knowledge, but I feel conflicted
>> about
>> > requesting funding from WMF because of the potential for difficulties
>> > between WMF and the community, especially because of the potential that
>> 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF and non-WMF funding for Wikimedia work

2018-09-04 Thread Yair Rand
As far as I can tell, the way that this is supposed to work is for there to
be no WMF influence on funds distribution.

"We affirm that all funds given to the Wikimedia movement are given in
support of our global projects... funds raised via the Wikimedia project
sites should be considered to be movement money, not the entitlement of a
particular organization or stakeholder. Decision-making about funds
dissemination should be broad and inclusive, consistent with our mission,
vision and values. ... To support a broader and more inclusive
decision-making process for funds distribution, the Wikimedia Foundation
will create a volunteer-driven body (working title: the Funds Dissemination
Committee, or FDC) whose sole purpose will be to make recommendations to
the Wikimedia Foundation for funding activities and initiatives in support
of the mission goals of the Wikimedia movement. All funds raised via the
Wikimedia project sites will be distributed via the recommendations of the
FDC, with the exception of Wikimedia Foundation core operating costs and
the operating reserve as described above." -- Board of Trustees,
[[wmf:Resolution:Funds Dissemination Committee]]

Where are we on this? Since the 2015-16 annual plan the WMF hasn't been
filling out its FDC applications (to regular objections every annual plan
review and FDC election), and the Grants process pages on Meta are
prominently labeled "Wikimedia Foundation Grants". I'm having difficulty
finding out how the various Grants systems are run, but the IEG final
decisions are apparently made by WMF staff, and the FDC doesn't seem to be
directly involved in those?

I haven't found any retraction of the original board resolution, so I
assume that the current situation is a temporary setup until whatever
remaining obstacles are dealt with and the FDC is capable of fulfilling its
mandate. (I don't know what these obstacles might be. I think it would be
helpful if the WMF and/or Board would comment on this.) Although the WMF,
for the duration, appears to act as though it's their money to distribute
and makes many of the relevant decisions, that appears not to be the
(eventual) intended process.

(My apologies if some of this is inaccurate. The pages on Meta aren't well
organized, and it's hard to get a coherent picture of how things work.)

(Also, FWIW, I really think it would be a bad idea to directly fund content
creation or Signpost support.)

-- Yair Rand

‫בתאריך יום ב׳, 3 בספט׳ 2018 ב-22:07 מאת ‪Pine W‬‏ <‪wiki.p...@gmail.com
‬‏>:‬

> I apologize for the unusually large load of typos, especially misspelling
> Kaarel's name. Usually I get enough sleep but last night I didn't.
> Apparently my attention to detail is diminished.
>
> I'm rapidly spending my Wikimedia-l quota of 15 emails per calendar month,
> so if there is extensive discussion on this topic then I may ask that we
> move the conversation to a wiki page.
>
> Regards,
>
> Pine
> ( https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pine )
>
>
> On Mon, Sep 3, 2018 at 9:02 PM Pine W  wrote:
>
> > Hello colleagues,
> >
> > A topic which I feel that I should address again on this mailing list is
> > revenue for Wikimedia work, specifically WMF and non-WMF sources of
> revenue.
> >
> > I will start by talking about my personal situation, and then discuss
> some
> > related situations.
> >
> > I am currently requesting a grant from WMF. I cannot afford afford to
> work
> > on this project in a sustainable way without funding, and I feel that I
> am
> > making a request that is reasonably aligned with market rates for someone
> > with my current level of skills and knowledge, but I feel conflicted
> about
> > requesting funding from WMF because of the potential for difficulties
> > between WMF and the community, especially because of the potential that I
> > would be reluctant to express my views regarding WMF due to fear of
> losing
> > WMF funding. (I'm not linking to my grant request here because I don't
> want
> > this email to give the impression that I'm using this topic to ask for
> > community endorsements for my grant request.)
> >
> > Similarly, *The Signpost *is labor-intensive to produce, and I would like
> > for funding to be available for the more prolific *Signpost *contributors
> > so that they have a good reason to treat their labor for The Signpost as
> > part time jobs. However, it would be difficult to maintain the editorial
> > independence of *The Signpost *from WMF if the contributors (especially
> > contributors to the "News and Notes" and "In the Media" sections, and the
> > contributors who are responsible for the overall editing and publication
> of *The
> > Signpost*) received funding from WMF.
> >
> > The

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

2018-08-05 Thread Yair Rand
There are several more issues I've noticed with the new website:
* According to the notice at the bottom, the company "Automattic Inc." is
receiving all sorts of data about all visitors to the site, including
location information, cookie data, data from pixel tags/web beacons used to
track visitors and target ads on other WordPress sites, and other data.
* The "non-wiki privacy policy of the Wikimedia Foundation" linked at the
bottom is different than the regular privacy policy. Why is this?
* Much of the content is essentially English-Wikipedia-only. "Visit The
Teahouse for a friendly place to learn about editing" Most Wikipedias don't
have teahouses or equivalents.
* In "Wikimedia projects": "Wikipedia - All the world's knowledge". See
[[Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information]].
* "Working with partners like Google, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and
UNESCO, Wikimedia...". I don't think most Wikimedians are okay with the WMF
describing Google as among its partners. Nor the Met or UNESCO, for that
matter.
* In the "Technology" section, there's a paragraph devoted to bragging
about how NASA has an internal Mediawiki wiki. I don't think that belongs
there.
* The actual Wikimedia Foundation Mission is kind of buried deep in the
site. The Mission is the definitive version of what the WMF is supposed to
be doing, and I really think it should be highlighted somewhere in a more
prominent position.

"The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people
around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free
license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and
globally.

In collaboration with a network of chapters, the Wikimedia Foundation
provides the essential infrastructure and an organizational framework for
the support and development of multilingual wiki projects and other
endeavors which serve this mission. The Foundation will make and keep
useful information from its projects available on the Internet free of
charge, in perpetuity."

-- Yair Rand

2018-08-03 17:12 GMT-04:00 Andy Mabbett :

> On 2 August 2018 at 02:51, Gregory Varnum  wrote:
>
> > You can check it out for yourself here (you may need to clear your
> browser's cache):  https://wikimediafoundation.org/
>
> The home page currently says:
>
>" Everything on a Wikimedia site is available as Creative Commons
> material. "
>
> That is not true. Material includes:
>
> * PD content (copyright expires; US government, etc)
> * Fair-use copyright material.
>
> In the latter case, suggesting otherwise could be harmful to our users.
>
>
> Furthermore, the "Sesame Street" image used on the site's home page
> and the linked article, is labelled on Commons: "This work might not
> be available under a free license in the United States because it is
> based on an artwork or sculpture that may be protected by copyright
> under U.S. law."
>
> --
> Andy Mabbett
> @pigsonthewing
> http://pigsonthewing.org.uk
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] New Wikimedia Foundation has soft launched!

2018-08-01 Thread Yair Rand
The new website highlights "Advocacy" as one of the three areas that the
Foundation deals with, along with Research and Technology. From the page
linked, it promotes the WMF's misguided and unauthorized venture into
trying to influence US immigration law, now claiming it to be something the
WMF does "routinely". These statements do not belong on the WMF website.

(Also, there is no longer any way to inform people responsible for the site
about errors, like "do not write you own bio". Or the fact that the header
is in German, despite saying that the page is in English.)

Is there any intention to have somewhere where edits can be at least
proposed?

-- Yair Rand

2018-08-01 21:51 GMT-04:00 Gregory Varnum :

> Hello,
>
> After many months of work by over 100 individuals around the organization
> and movement, the Wikimedia Foundation's new website soft launched this
> week!
>
> You can check it out for yourself here (you may need to clear your
> browser's cache):  https://wikimediafoundation.org/
>
>
> So what comes next?
>
> Throughout this week, the Communications department and core website team
> will be doing final tweaks and quality assurance testing in preparations
> for translations.
>
> Over the coming weeks we will be working with affiliates and contributors
> around the world to make the site in available in Arabic, Chinese, French,
> German, Russian, and Spanish - in addition to the English version soft
> launched today. Once the translations are completed, we will be doing a
> more public announcement regarding the new website and begin more formally
> implementing usage of it.
>
> Additionally, we will be holding office hours in the coming weeks.
>
>
> What about the old website?
>
> The old website (aka Foundation Wiki) will be given new life in the coming
> weeks as the Wikimedia Foundation Governance Wiki - where it will continue
> to house important documentation for the Wikimedia Foundation like
> policies, board resolutions and minutes, legal documents, etc. Additional
> information on the changes coming to that wiki and the plans for migrating
> archived content to Meta-Wiki will be available in the coming weeks.
>
>
> What else should I know?
>
> There is a lot of great things about this new website we are excited to
> share with all of you! More information about office hours will available
> in the coming weeks. Until then, we encourage you to take a look and
> contact me directly if you find any bugs, typos, or have any comments.
>
>
> Thank you!
>
> The Communications department greatly appreciates all of the discussions,
> work, and patience everyone has put into this gigantic undertaking. We are
> very close to the finish line, and today marks a significant step which was
> only possible with the help of the 100+ people involved.
>
> On behalf of the Communications department and core website team (Heather,
> Zack, Katherine, Mel, and Greg),
>
> -greg
>
> ---
> Gregory Varnum
> Communications Strategist
> Wikimedia Foundation
> gvar...@wikimedia.org
> Pronouns: He/Him/His
>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] More politics: "WMF Annual Report"

2017-03-07 Thread Yair Rand
Risker has outlined many of the issues with the report much better than I
would have been able to. While I'm happy to hear there will be some
reordering and that one of the images will be replaced, the report still
has many very serious problems.

How can we fix this? I can think of a few options:
* The report could be made open to edits from the community. (I was hopeful
when the report was posted on Meta that it would be editable, but it was
apparently posted primarily for translation purposes and is not editable.)
Over the course of a few weeks much of the content could be rewritten to be
close enough to neutral.
* We could continue discussing specific problems in tone and focus, errors,
and general issues with the report here on this mailing list or on Meta
while the relevant people implement fixes and rewrites (hopefully in a
transparent manner), including the large content changes/replacements
required.
* The entire "Consider the facts" section could be removed/replaced. The
rest of the report probably could stand on its own, but that may not be
ideal. I don't know whether rewriting it from scratch is doable, or whether
there may be relevant time constraints here.

I'd like to reiterate the seriousness of displaying non-Wikimedia-related
political advocacy over Wikimedia projects. Many editors work very hard at
removing any biases in articles. To have a huge banner placed over every
article on the whole project linking to 43px-font blatant political
advocacy which can't be reverted, is really damaging.

-- Yair Rand

On Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 1:41 AM, Risker <risker...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Well, Erik...I really don't think my personal beliefs have a role in this
> discussion, except as they very narrowly apply to the Wikimedia mission,
> vision and "values". That's actually one of my issues with this report - it
> reads as though it's been written by a bunch of well-paid, talented people
> who've been given rein to express personal and cultural beliefs unrelated
> to Wikimedia.  And my personal belief in relation to that is that this
> annual report has positioned political advocacy far ahead of the mission
> and vision of the movement, starting with the selection and ordering of the
> "facts".  Let's go through them one by one.
>
> The focus on the value of education is an entirely valid, even necessary,
> part of the annual report; it is entirely central to our mission.  The
> focus on refugees is out of place, though.  The fact that there is a single
> page on one WMF-hosted site that links to a refugee handbook created by
> other groups that include some Wikimedians (and the support of WMDE, which
> we all know is NOT the same thing as the WMF) isn't justification for
> making  "REFUGEES!1!!!11!" a big headline.  It's peripheral to the
> educational activities of the WMF, and ignores or downplays many of the
> actual WMF-supported initiatives. There's something wrong when the WMF is
> so busy touting someone else's project that it forgets to talk about its
> own.  But why show a bunch of Uruguayan kids actually using Wikipedia, when
> you can make a political statement using a photo of very adorable refugee
> children who, generally speaking, aren't accessing any WMF projects?
>
> Am I impressed by Andreas' images?  of course!  Look at the amazing iceberg
> images [featured image example at 1] - which illustrate climate change
> issues much better than the photo of a starving polar bear.  We don't
> actually know why that bear is dying - is he sick or injured, the most
> common cause of wild animal deaths? Has he consumed (anthropogenic) harmful
> chemicals or materials such as plastic wastes - increasingly common in
> arctic animals?  Or did he miss the ever-narrowing migration window to the
> prey-rich northern arctic ice fields (due to climate change)?  We can't be
> sure.  But we can be a lot more sure that the iceberg images are
> illustrating something that can be linked more directly to climate change.
> Of course, nobody is getting a lump in their throat by looking at icebergs;
> it's not any where near as good an emotional button-presser that a dying
> animal is.   There's also the trick of referring to "the hottest year on
> record" instead of giving the *whole* truth, which is it is the hottest
> year since these types of records started being kept beginning just a few
> hundred years ago - and it's that long only if you count all types of
> record keeping.  Yes, it's much more impressive to imply that we're talking
> about all of history rather than just the last few centuries.  A lot of
> people reading this list have been creating articles for years; we know
> those tricks too. And none of this explains why climate change is even a
> factor in the Wikimedia Foundation Annual Report.  It 

[Wikimedia-l] More politics: "WMF Annual Report"

2017-03-01 Thread Yair Rand
An unscheduled CentralNotice just started running, linking to a rather
bizarre page [1]. Purporting to be the WMF's 2016 Annual Report, it starts
off with some text about refugees. "FACT: Half of refugees are school-age",
followed by some completely unencyclopedic text about the topic: "That
means 10 million children are away from their homes, their communities, and
their traditional education. Each refugee child’s experience is unique, but
every single one loses time from their important learning years. Many of
them face the added pressure of being surrounded by new languages and
cultures." The linked page goes on to detail some of Wikimedia's vision and
how Wikimedia projects aid refugee populations. Following that, we have an
entire page on climate change and some of its effects, similarly written in
a style that is not befitting the movement: "In 2015, [Wikimedian Andreas
Weith] photographed starving polar bears in the Arctic. As the ice
declines, so does their ability to find food. “It’s heartbreaking,” he
says." After all that, we finally have some pages on interesting statistics
about Wikimedia, mixed in with some general odd facts about the world,
followed by a call to donate. There are also letters from the ED and
founder linked.

So, this could be a mix of coincidence and bad stylistic choices, and not
politically motivated at all, but it is getting increasingly hard to assume
good faith on this, especially with the blog post a month ago specifically
calling for a change in refugee policy.

Using Wikimedia projects to push politics is not okay. If the WMF does not
accept this, I suspect many projects will simply block CentralNotices,
avoid associating with WMF statements, and quite possibly fork/leave.

This is a serious problem.

-- Yair Rand

[1] https://annual.wikimedia.org/2016/?pk_campaign=
WikiBanners_kwd=AR2016_dsk_short
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcing the Foundation's challenge to recent U.S. immigration executive order

2017-02-06 Thread Yair Rand
On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 12:20 PM, Mike Godwin <mnemo...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Yair Rand writes:
>
> > I find it difficult to believe that this situation is so critical
> > and urgent that an RfC in advance was impossible, so if it does fall
> under
> > that section, the policy was yet again violated.
>
> I don't find it difficult at all to believe time was of the essence,
> but, then, I'm an attorney who's worked for many years on
> collaborative efforts, including but not limited to legal action.
>
> I grant, of course, that your experience with doing legal and
> public-policy assessments may be different. But if your view is that
> either the Board of Trustees or WMF staff cannot be trusted to make
> these assessments, then I urge you to explain in more depth why you
> think this is so.
>
> My own experience has been that quite often the Board or the WMF staff
> have to make quick decisions, especially when the timeline for
> decision-making is not in WMF's control. Certainly I often was called
> upon to make decisions on behalf of WMF and the Wikimedia movement on
> timelines that made consultation with Wikimedia-l or with committees
> and affiliated organizations unworkable. I hope you don't find that
> difficult to believe.
>
> Please assume good faith.
>

You're completely right. I failed to assume good faith, and it is certainly
possible that there was no time to conduct an RfC. My apologies.

I would still like confirmation of whether it was in fact an urgent
situation, however. Further, the requirement for consultation with the
Public Policy Advisory Group does not allow for bypassing in time-sensitive
situations, so further explanation is required.

Thank you.

-- Yair Rand
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Announcing the Foundation's challenge to recent U.S. immigration executive order

2017-02-05 Thread Yair Rand
Would this action fall under "Collaborative advocacy" in the Foundation
Policy and Political Association Guideline? The section refers to
"collaborat[ing] with another organization to take action on a particular
policy or political question". The example given is signing a petition by
the EFF against Internet censorship. The required steps include (among
other requirements) consultation with the Public Policy Advisory Group,
along with getting consensus in a broader RfC except where time does not
permit. I find it difficult to believe that this situation is so critical
and urgent that an RfC in advance was impossible, so if it does fall under
that section, the policy was yet again violated. Frankly, I don't believe
that an RfC would pass in the first place. If you've been following the
earlier thread, you may be aware that there is increasing alarm at the risk
of the movement being hijacked by political interests, and this new action
is not helping matters.

This was a unilateral political actions in a sensitive area without prior
discussion. The Guideline does say that the WMF may deviate from the policy
if specifically approved by the General Council, although I don't know why
deviating would be warranted here. Was this done here? Who was involved in
the decision? Was the Board consulted, as suggested by the guidelines
(although as an "Optional" step)? Or was it simply considered to not fall
under the policy at all? Is the guideline still in effect, or was it
eliminated or changed without the document on Meta being updated?

The amicus brief specifically challenges the refugee suspension, among
other areas. Is this topic considered to be within the WMF's goals, or was
bringing the WMF into an irrelevant political battle considered simply an
unavoidable side-effect in the effort to protect WMF operations by means of
national political intervention?

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Legal/Foundation_Policy_and_Political_
Association_Guideline#Collaborative_Advocacy

On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 1:10 AM, Michelle Paulson 
wrote:

> Dear All,
>
> Today, the Wikimedia Foundation joined with more than 90 other
> organizations in filing an amicus brief[1] in State of Washington v.
> Trump[2]
> currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States.
> This case challenges the recent executive order[3] issued in the United
> States on January 27, 2017, which establishes immigration and travel
> restrictions based on country of origin. Other signatories to the brief
> include Facebook, Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft, Mozilla, and Paypal. The
> brief includes legal arguments against the order itself, and details the
> real and immediate impact these restrictions will have on the Wikimedia
> Foundation and other signatories’ staff, users, customers, and operations.
> We expect it to be filed in other current and future cases challenging the
> order, as appropriate.
>
> We know that the Foundation’s prior statement[4] on this executive order
> has generated debate in the communities, on mailing lists and in other
> forums. Some disapprove, with concern that the Foundation has taken a
> political stance on behalf of the movement. Others approve, with concerns
> about the impact of this order on the practicalities and values of open
> collaboration and sharing. We would like to clarify our perspective on this
> important issue.
>
> From our perspective, the implications of this order - and the urgency of
> our response - are clear. Beyond the issue of the values of open
> collaboration, this order will also have serious, tangible effects on the
> Foundation and our ability to support the Wikimedia projects and
> communities.
>
> From an operational standpoint, orders such as these may substantially
> limit our ability to deliver on support for the global Wikimedia
> communities. Much of the Foundation's work involves travel across borders.
> We cross borders to develop and sustain strategic partnerships with
> Wikimedia affiliates and free knowledge advocates. We travel to gatherings
> and hackathons to support and collaborate with Wikimedians around the
> world. We represent Wikimedia research and methodologies at conferences
> with librarians and scientists from across the globe. We meet with
> community leaders and board members internationally to exercise corporate
> and community governance and execute strategic oversight.
>
> As the Foundation, we have an obligation to protect the Wikimedia projects
> and ensure that they thrive in perpetuity. We are not a political
> organization, but we are passionate about defending free knowledge, and the
> conditions for its flourishing. We believe that the immigration and travel
> restrictions posed by the executive order in question will have a
> detrimental impact on the Foundation's mission and operations, as people
> are unable to enter the United States or restricted from leaving because
> they may not be allowed to return home. 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Politics

2017-02-05 Thread Yair Rand
When and how the Wikimedia Foundation should associate itself publicly on
policy and political issues is not a new topic, and (as I have quite
recently discovered) official guidelines have been around for nearly five
years now. The Guidelines on Foundation Policy and Political Association
[1], established by WMF Legal for internal use, specifically bring up the
issue of "public endorsement or critique" of political policies, listing
several requirements for doing so, and further requiring that they "should
protect and advance Wikimedia’s mission “to empower and engage people
around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free
license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and
globally.” Accordingly, we will not support causes unrelated to or
inconsistent with that mission." The document goes on to list several
examples such as anti-war activism and animal rights.

I think this is an excellent and necessary policy.

The recent blog post says "We strongly urge the U.S. administration to
withdraw the recent executive order ... closing the doors to many
refugees." I have yet to hear any arguments regarding how that statement
specifically protects and advances our mission.

I have, on the other hand, heard on this list many arguments by people
explaining reasons why they feel very strongly that actions must be taken
against a certain country's administration, about how they expect that many
expected policies on general issues will cause harm in areas that they
value. Areas that are not directly related to our mission.

I can imagine that some may feel that certain areas of immigration and
travel policy may be so closely associated to Wikimedia's functioning that
action on that front must be taken. I would expect such an issue to be
discussed independently of the personal political wishes of those arguing.
If decisions are made on the basis that the only relevant issue is whether
any action would further Wikimedia's goals, I would trust that such
decisions were sufficiently reasonable.

However, if that is not the basis used, and some in the community and WMF
are willing to have their own independent individual values and goals
override those of the movement, to harm Wikimedia goals to support their
own political goals... I would find it very difficult to support such a
decision. I don't mean to speak too harshly, but the united goals and
vision of the movement are the _only_ thing that holds this diverse
community together, the only means by which Wikimedia exists, and if
outside aims can take priority, we would likely find that many would not
appreciate some using Wikimedia as yet another bullet in someone's arsenal
to be sacrificed in a political crusade, to say the least.

"Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It
is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to
learn, to share our knowledge with others."

Please let us keep it that way.

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Legal/Foundation_Policy_
and_Political_Association_Guideline
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[Wikimedia-l] Politics

2017-02-02 Thread Yair Rand
The Wikimedia movement is both global and very ideologically diverse, and
has many contributors who have strong opinions in one direction or another
on certain political issues facing their area of the world. Many of these
contributors find it difficult to avoid using Wikimedia forums and
institutions to discuss or advocate for issues they feel very strongly
about. Recently, political advocacy on Wikimedia forums has risen
substantially, especially on this mailing list.

While I sympathize with the difficulties these contributors face in
remaining silent, it is important to consider the substantial damage such
actions can cause to the movement. We will be much worse off if half of any
given country's political spectrum can no longer cooperate in our mission
due to compunctions against supporting a community which hosts those who
use the community to advocate for positions that some may find
unacceptable. The issue of inadvertently alienating participants because of
politics has a self-reinforcing element: As we lose contributors
representing ideological areas, we have fewer willing to advocate for an
environment which allows them to participate without being bombarded by
hostile political advocacy. We are precariously close to the point of no
return on this, but I am optimistic that the situation is recoverable.

As an initial measure, I propose adding the names of a certain country's
top political leaders to this list's spam filter. More generally, I think a
stricter stance on avoiding political advocacy on Wikimedia projects is
warranted.

We face a somewhat more difficult situation with the Wikimedia Foundation
itself. Partly as a result of being relatively localized within a
geographic area and further limited to several professions, I suspect the
Foundation tends to be more politically/ideologically homogeneous. With the
WMF, we risk much more than just alienating much of the world, we risk our
Neutrality.

How far we must go to maintain neutrality has been a contentious issue over
the years. Existential threats have twice been responded to with major
community action, each with large prior discussion. (SOPA included an
extensive discussion and a poll with more than 500 respondents.) A previous
ED committed to firing everyone but part of the Ops team rather than accept
advertising, should lack of funds require it. (Whether to let the WMF die
outright rather than accept ads is as of yet unresolved.) More recently,
the WMF has taken limited actions and stances on public policy that
directly relate to the mission. A careful balance has been established
between maintaining essential neutrality and dealing with direct threats to
the projects.

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

It is the responsibility of the Board at this point to set a policy to
place firm restrictions on which areas the WMF can take positions. While we
value the important contributions of the staff, they should not be able to
override our commitment to neutrality. Our donors, editors, and other
volunteers do not contribute so that resources and influence can be spent
towards whatever political causes are popular within the WMF.

It is the responsibility of the community to ensure that our projects
remain apolitical. A neutral point of view is impossible if participating
requires a certain political position.

It is the responsibility of the mailing list administration and moderators
to act against this list's rapid slide into unreadability.

Thank you.

-- Yair Rand
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