Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-16 Thread Nick Wilson (Quiddity)
On Thu, May 16, 2019 at 3:06 PM Joseph Seddon  wrote:

> The Wikimedia Resource Center (which
> currently is broken it seems) had the goal of trying to aid a community
> member in getting the right information, the right person or the right
> process to fulfill their needs. It's focus was on programmes but it was a
> good idea. I'm not saying this exact form would be suitable, given there is
> clearly a maintenance burden, but the concept has merits.


Now fixed. (There was a mis-located translation which had confused the
software.)
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Resource_Center :-)
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-16 Thread Joseph Seddon
Not every community member goes to their local village pump or
noticeboards. Not every member joins IRC or telegram or use gchat or
hangouts. Not every community member meets in real life. Not every
community member wants to join wm-l, wikitech-l or the hundred or so
mailing lists. Some of these run close to the origins of Wikipedia
particularly mailing lists and IRC. As a movement we've given this plethora
of channels their blessing mainly through our quick embracement of new
technologies, our lack of investment in older ones, our inability to to
cull dying old ones or quickly cutting off failed new ones.

Each of these communication channels comes with its pro's and con's. Each
of these channels has their own expectations and cultural norms. Each of
these communication channels fits the needs of a community member to
varying degrees. There are multiple ways for the WMF to engage with the
hundreds of communities and thousands of sub-communities and the WMF does
it's best to engage with them all.

On the other side of the engagement coin, the WMF has in a narrow focused
way tried to do as you suggest. The Wikimedia Resource Center (which
currently is broken it seems) had the goal of trying to aid a community
member in getting the right information, the right person or the right
process to fulfill their needs. It's focus was on programmes but it was a
good idea. I'm not saying this exact form would be suitable, given there is
clearly a maintenance burden, but the concept has merits.

Seddon

On Thu, May 16, 2019 at 7:34 AM Mister Thrapostibongles <
thrapostibong...@gmail.com> wrote:

> James
>
> This seems inside-out.  Rather than WMF staff trying to guess which of the
> tens of thousands of existing discussions might be of relevance, why not
> simply tell the community the locations of the pages or other channels
> which you propose to use to engage them.
>
> Thrapostibongles
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 9:31 PM James Hare  wrote:
>
> > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:26 AM Yaroslav Blanter 
> wrote:
> >
> > > This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
> > participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
> > any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project?
> >
> > I am a product manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. What this means, in
> the
> > broadest of terms, is that I need to know what people want/need in order
> to
> > do my job “correctly,” for some definition of “correct.” Of course, what
> > constitutes a “correct” decision on my part is something not everyone
> will
> > agree on and that’s fine. But I need to gather information as part of
> this
> > work.
> >
> > The problem is that there is no “one” place to go. To give you an idea of
> > the magnitude of the problem, there are over 900 wikis.  Hundreds of
> those
> > wikis comprise Wikipedia, a project with a cumulative total of 50,000,000
> > articles. Each one of those articles either has a talk page or could
> > theoretically get one as soon as someone makes the first post. So, just
> > starting with Wikipedia articles, we have over 50,000,000 potential or
> > existing discussion venues, with very little coordination or
> > cross-organization between these venues, and this doesn’t even include
> > individual user talk pages or really, really specific talk pages like
> > “Wikipedia talk:Administrators’ noticeboard/Incidents” which is... very
> > precisely, a venue to discuss the administration of that specific
> > noticeboard (but not to, itself, host noticeboard-like posts).[0]
> >
> > It is very convenient and easy to create a talk page because talk pages
> are
> > a very central paradigm to the MediaWiki software (going back to 2002?
> > 2003?) and so they are built into the overall website experience in a way
> > that things that were tacked on way later, simply are not. But it is a
> poor
> > interface that doesn’t scale across more than several people or a few
> > concurrent conversations. But if Wikipedia’s fundamental sidebar chat
> > system fails to support more than occasional chatter, how exactly is any
> of
> > this supposed to work?
> >
> > There are two ways to go from here: (a) fix the original problem or (b)
> > develop workarounds. If you were around back in 2013 or so you may
> recall a
> > project called “Flow” that is now called “Structured Discussions.” I
> can’t
> > speak officially to any of it because it was before my time and many of
> the
> > staff involved no longer work here. And I am actually very hesitant to
> > bring it up at all, much less by name, because of the taboo that
> developed
> > around it. A retrospective on this project is out-of-scope for this post,
> > but if you need a short and convenient answer: it didn’t work, and it
> > generally made it impossible for the Wikimedia Foundation to even broach
> > the subject for the following several years. (There is starting to be
> work
> > on this again, and this time, it seems to be going at a 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-16 Thread Dariusz Jemielniak
The thing is, we have a number of tools with a lot of cultural/behavioral 
as.well as.technological heritage.

Yes, it would be nice to have a stable one point of entry communication. 
Unfortunately, even investing a lot in tech does not warrant a success.

People tend to the most co..on denominator, this is why texting is still around.

But I agree that a bigger discussion about decision making and discussing 
online is needed. This is exactly a part of our strategic exercise and I hope 
the group will address the issue.

Best,

Dariusz

On Thu, 16 May 2019, 08:34 Mister Thrapostibongles, 
mailto:thrapostibong...@gmail.com>> wrote:
James

This seems inside-out.  Rather than WMF staff trying to guess which of the
tens of thousands of existing discussions might be of relevance, why not
simply tell the community the locations of the pages or other channels
which you propose to use to engage them.

Thrapostibongles

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 9:31 PM James Hare 
mailto:jh...@wikimedia.org>> wrote:

> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:26 AM Yaroslav Blanter 
> mailto:ymb...@gmail.com>> wrote:
>
> > This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
> participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
> any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project?
>
> I am a product manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. What this means, in the
> broadest of terms, is that I need to know what people want/need in order to
> do my job “correctly,” for some definition of “correct.” Of course, what
> constitutes a “correct” decision on my part is something not everyone will
> agree on and that’s fine. But I need to gather information as part of this
> work.
>
> The problem is that there is no “one” place to go. To give you an idea of
> the magnitude of the problem, there are over 900 wikis.  Hundreds of those
> wikis comprise Wikipedia, a project with a cumulative total of 50,000,000
> articles. Each one of those articles either has a talk page or could
> theoretically get one as soon as someone makes the first post. So, just
> starting with Wikipedia articles, we have over 50,000,000 potential or
> existing discussion venues, with very little coordination or
> cross-organization between these venues, and this doesn’t even include
> individual user talk pages or really, really specific talk pages like
> “Wikipedia talk:Administrators’ noticeboard/Incidents” which is... very
> precisely, a venue to discuss the administration of that specific
> noticeboard (but not to, itself, host noticeboard-like posts).[0]
>
> It is very convenient and easy to create a talk page because talk pages are
> a very central paradigm to the MediaWiki software (going back to 2002?
> 2003?) and so they are built into the overall website experience in a way
> that things that were tacked on way later, simply are not. But it is a poor
> interface that doesn’t scale across more than several people or a few
> concurrent conversations. But if Wikipedia’s fundamental sidebar chat
> system fails to support more than occasional chatter, how exactly is any of
> this supposed to work?
>
> There are two ways to go from here: (a) fix the original problem or (b)
> develop workarounds. If you were around back in 2013 or so you may recall a
> project called “Flow” that is now called “Structured Discussions.” I can’t
> speak officially to any of it because it was before my time and many of the
> staff involved no longer work here. And I am actually very hesitant to
> bring it up at all, much less by name, because of the taboo that developed
> around it. A retrospective on this project is out-of-scope for this post,
> but if you need a short and convenient answer: it didn’t work, and it
> generally made it impossible for the Wikimedia Foundation to even broach
> the subject for the following several years. (There is starting to be work
> on this again, and this time, it seems to be going at a more deliberate
> pace, but I will defer to the staff working on this.)
>
> Let’s talk about workarounds. We have workarounds that make the talk pages
> themselves more useful (talk page archiving comes to mind[1]), and we also
> have workarounds that consist of outsourcing the issue entirely, whether it
> be solutions we host ourselves (mailing lists, Discourse) or proprietary
> platforms that happen to be convenient for large segments of our
> communities. There are different advantages and disadvantages to each
> solution, which has only resulted in the proliferation of solutions.
>
> Let’s back up. On the wikis themselves there are millions of discussion
> venues; there are different software interventions that work or don’t work,
> depending on the situation; and we are now in a position where we have so
> many places to hold conversations it becomes an extraordinary use of time
> (and several people’s full time jobs) to try to understand the
> extraordinarily complex social interactions that take place in the hundreds
> of 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-16 Thread Mister Thrapostibongles
James

This seems inside-out.  Rather than WMF staff trying to guess which of the
tens of thousands of existing discussions might be of relevance, why not
simply tell the community the locations of the pages or other channels
which you propose to use to engage them.

Thrapostibongles

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 9:31 PM James Hare  wrote:

> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:26 AM Yaroslav Blanter  wrote:
>
> > This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
> participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
> any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project?
>
> I am a product manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. What this means, in the
> broadest of terms, is that I need to know what people want/need in order to
> do my job “correctly,” for some definition of “correct.” Of course, what
> constitutes a “correct” decision on my part is something not everyone will
> agree on and that’s fine. But I need to gather information as part of this
> work.
>
> The problem is that there is no “one” place to go. To give you an idea of
> the magnitude of the problem, there are over 900 wikis.  Hundreds of those
> wikis comprise Wikipedia, a project with a cumulative total of 50,000,000
> articles. Each one of those articles either has a talk page or could
> theoretically get one as soon as someone makes the first post. So, just
> starting with Wikipedia articles, we have over 50,000,000 potential or
> existing discussion venues, with very little coordination or
> cross-organization between these venues, and this doesn’t even include
> individual user talk pages or really, really specific talk pages like
> “Wikipedia talk:Administrators’ noticeboard/Incidents” which is... very
> precisely, a venue to discuss the administration of that specific
> noticeboard (but not to, itself, host noticeboard-like posts).[0]
>
> It is very convenient and easy to create a talk page because talk pages are
> a very central paradigm to the MediaWiki software (going back to 2002?
> 2003?) and so they are built into the overall website experience in a way
> that things that were tacked on way later, simply are not. But it is a poor
> interface that doesn’t scale across more than several people or a few
> concurrent conversations. But if Wikipedia’s fundamental sidebar chat
> system fails to support more than occasional chatter, how exactly is any of
> this supposed to work?
>
> There are two ways to go from here: (a) fix the original problem or (b)
> develop workarounds. If you were around back in 2013 or so you may recall a
> project called “Flow” that is now called “Structured Discussions.” I can’t
> speak officially to any of it because it was before my time and many of the
> staff involved no longer work here. And I am actually very hesitant to
> bring it up at all, much less by name, because of the taboo that developed
> around it. A retrospective on this project is out-of-scope for this post,
> but if you need a short and convenient answer: it didn’t work, and it
> generally made it impossible for the Wikimedia Foundation to even broach
> the subject for the following several years. (There is starting to be work
> on this again, and this time, it seems to be going at a more deliberate
> pace, but I will defer to the staff working on this.)
>
> Let’s talk about workarounds. We have workarounds that make the talk pages
> themselves more useful (talk page archiving comes to mind[1]), and we also
> have workarounds that consist of outsourcing the issue entirely, whether it
> be solutions we host ourselves (mailing lists, Discourse) or proprietary
> platforms that happen to be convenient for large segments of our
> communities. There are different advantages and disadvantages to each
> solution, which has only resulted in the proliferation of solutions.
>
> Let’s back up. On the wikis themselves there are millions of discussion
> venues; there are different software interventions that work or don’t work,
> depending on the situation; and we are now in a position where we have so
> many places to hold conversations it becomes an extraordinary use of time
> (and several people’s full time jobs) to try to understand the
> extraordinarily complex social interactions that take place in the hundreds
> of languages we speak.
>
> Having introduced all that context, the short answer to your question is
> there are some channels we are better at paying attention to than others,
> but we don’t know what we don’t know. And this is frustrating for everyone
> involved. It makes projects take longer, it makes it harder to onboard
> staff, and I can imagine it’s *even more* frustrating for the many users of
> our many wikis who have to deal with the software being broken and not
> really knowing what to do. I think we manage,  but I think we deserve
> better than just “managing” it.
>
>
> My best regards,
> James Hare
>
>
>
> [0] This brings up another topic that not all discussions that take place
> on 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Jane Darnell
Asaf, I have wondered at times whether you were ever scolded for some of
the things you wrote on this list. I, for one, have always appreciated your
comments and so I thank you for taking the time to craft your responses
despite any WMF objections. I also would like to thank you for any
moderation work you have done that I may not have seen.
Jane

On Tue, May 14, 2019 at 9:17 PM Asaf Bartov  wrote:

> Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> co-administrator:
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> wrote:
>
> > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And yet
> > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> this
> > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > written with such overt passive aggression.
> >
> > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list, the
> > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most active
> > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not get
> > acknowledged or answered.
> >
>
> I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.  It's
> true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on their
> part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself, and
> you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call out
> bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and my
> co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
>
> By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to be
> on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial to
> listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF responses
> to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
>
> Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions may
> have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list -- and,
> I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence that
> has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
>
> As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my volunteer
> capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion been
> scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the best
> of my knowledge, for "outstepping my remit" or interfering in someone
> else's remit.  I have taken this to heart, and accordingly no longer try to
> respond to queries such as Fae's (which in this case I find a perfectly
> reasonable question, meriting an answer).  Several past attempts by me to
> ping appropriate senior staff on questions on this list (or on talk pages)
> have also met with rebuke, so I have ceased those as well.
>
> For these reasons I do not accept this wholesale blaming of this list's
> subscribers on the difficulty having meaningful conversations here:
>
> But if we want to see staff members more actively
> > participating here then those long standing individuals need to really
> > thing about the tone in which they engage here, particularly those who do
> > so most often. If that does not change, this list will continue to
> languish
> > and those few staff members who continue to engage here will slowly
> > disappear. This now increasingly perennial topic keeps coming up and my
> > fear is that it will on go away through the increasing abandonment this
> > list faces.
> >
>
> It is WMF that is not behaving collaboratively here.  And it is within
> WMF's power to change it.  C-levels, the ED, and other managers at WMF
> could all decide to participate more actively in this list; to respond to
> questions or delegate the answering to their subordinates, who are 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Samuel Klein
Asaf :)  Thank you.  Yes let us use this list well + with respect.
Moderation has been much appreciated.

Yaroslav: +1 to all of that!

James:  There were /Talk subpages already in 2001 ;)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Milestones_2001#July_2001

The pursuit of a generalized solution is important.
It also seems fair to have a *single page* on {meta, other?} for a WMF
noticeboard.  Either a section of the m:Wikimedia Forum
, or a separate page.
With translations provided where needed. Then anyone who runs across
discussions elsewhere (including on this list) that want a specifically WMF
response can point people there (and even summarize the Q in a sentence on
the noticeboard, if they wish to facilitate).

A small set of response templates may also be helpful, to invite dialogue
and partial answers.
  "interesting, I also care about this topic",
  "not sure there's an answer atm",
  "not sure I'm in a position to answer, but here's part of it"
  "this is a perennial question (link to archive)".
  "this is a perennial flame war, is there a more constructive version that
might be answerable?"

Everyone benefits from a good central space for Q since it is needed for
so many ideas and projects that are promoted -- you could also send those
topical q (currently done on a number of separate wiki fora) back to an
umbrella section on such a noticeboard.

SJ


On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 5:04 PM Yaroslav Blanter  wrote:

> Hi James,
>
> thank you for the answer, appreciated.
>
> Specifically about on-wiki communication, I possibly misunderstand the
> situation, but out of 900+ projects you mention, some are dead (no regular
> editors), and a vast majority is still in the regime when a few active
> users can follow the recent edit list. (I am admin on the Russian
> Wikivoyage and I have checked every single edit there since its transfer to
> WMF in 2012 - we currently have about a hundred per day). All these
> projects only have one noticeboards (typically accessible from the panel on
> the left as Community Portal, or, of not, it can be easily located). Again,
> at the Russian Wikivoyage, except for the very first cuple of months, when
> we were coordinating transfer from the Wikitravel, I can not recollect any
> WMF-related person who was interested in discussing anything. We get useful
> announcements (typically related to software), but the only time we had
> something else (the beginning of the current strategy cycle), we did not
> get an impression anybody was interested in listening to us.
>
> Now, bigger projects - there are may be 30 or so of them where one can not
> follow the recent changes (the vast majority being Wikipedias, plus
> Commons, Wikidata, and possibly English and German Wikivoyages and a couple
> of more projects). The absolute majority of these also have one central
> place (typically, again linked to Community portal), where things should be
> discussed. I would think that a WMF representative trying to discuss smth
> at a particular article talk page - it is not impossible, but as a
> community member I would find this odd - at the very least, it should be a
> pointer to that discussion.
>
> Finally, there are some really big projects, where one can several village
> pumps without an obvious choice. I am obviously more familiar with the
> English Wikipedia, and indeed RfCs can proliferate anywhere (even though
> there is a central place one cal locate all of them), and it might be a bit
> tricky to find a correct one, but in all cases I have seen if the topic is
> even remotely connected to WMF business (and sometimes even when it is not
> connected to it at all) somebody would ping one, or two, or five WMF
> employees - who could come and engage ina discussion, or come and say they
> are not interested, or not come at all - which is fine, obviously
> reasonable people do not expect A-level employees to react to every ping
> anywhere in the Wikimedia universe - but at least I think these discussion
> places are reasonably well localized and are easy to follow if anybody is
> interested in. I am, again, not saying that WMF employees should follow all
> discussion on all projects - or even that they should check several
> selected pages every day - but some communication channel much exist. In my
> experience, most of the reasonable questions just simply get ignored -
> which obviously creates an impression that nobody is listening to the
> community.
>
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 10:31 PM James Hare  wrote:
>
> > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:26 AM Yaroslav Blanter 
> wrote:
> >
> > > This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
> > participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
> > any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project?
> >
> > I am a product manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. What this means, in
> the
> > broadest of terms, is that I need 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Yaroslav Blanter
Hi James,

thank you for the answer, appreciated.

Specifically about on-wiki communication, I possibly misunderstand the
situation, but out of 900+ projects you mention, some are dead (no regular
editors), and a vast majority is still in the regime when a few active
users can follow the recent edit list. (I am admin on the Russian
Wikivoyage and I have checked every single edit there since its transfer to
WMF in 2012 - we currently have about a hundred per day). All these
projects only have one noticeboards (typically accessible from the panel on
the left as Community Portal, or, of not, it can be easily located). Again,
at the Russian Wikivoyage, except for the very first cuple of months, when
we were coordinating transfer from the Wikitravel, I can not recollect any
WMF-related person who was interested in discussing anything. We get useful
announcements (typically related to software), but the only time we had
something else (the beginning of the current strategy cycle), we did not
get an impression anybody was interested in listening to us.

Now, bigger projects - there are may be 30 or so of them where one can not
follow the recent changes (the vast majority being Wikipedias, plus
Commons, Wikidata, and possibly English and German Wikivoyages and a couple
of more projects). The absolute majority of these also have one central
place (typically, again linked to Community portal), where things should be
discussed. I would think that a WMF representative trying to discuss smth
at a particular article talk page - it is not impossible, but as a
community member I would find this odd - at the very least, it should be a
pointer to that discussion.

Finally, there are some really big projects, where one can several village
pumps without an obvious choice. I am obviously more familiar with the
English Wikipedia, and indeed RfCs can proliferate anywhere (even though
there is a central place one cal locate all of them), and it might be a bit
tricky to find a correct one, but in all cases I have seen if the topic is
even remotely connected to WMF business (and sometimes even when it is not
connected to it at all) somebody would ping one, or two, or five WMF
employees - who could come and engage ina discussion, or come and say they
are not interested, or not come at all - which is fine, obviously
reasonable people do not expect A-level employees to react to every ping
anywhere in the Wikimedia universe - but at least I think these discussion
places are reasonably well localized and are easy to follow if anybody is
interested in. I am, again, not saying that WMF employees should follow all
discussion on all projects - or even that they should check several
selected pages every day - but some communication channel much exist. In my
experience, most of the reasonable questions just simply get ignored -
which obviously creates an impression that nobody is listening to the
community.

Cheers
Yaroslav

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 10:31 PM James Hare  wrote:

> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:26 AM Yaroslav Blanter  wrote:
>
> > This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
> participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
> any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project?
>
> I am a product manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. What this means, in the
> broadest of terms, is that I need to know what people want/need in order to
> do my job “correctly,” for some definition of “correct.” Of course, what
> constitutes a “correct” decision on my part is something not everyone will
> agree on and that’s fine. But I need to gather information as part of this
> work.
>
> The problem is that there is no “one” place to go. To give you an idea of
> the magnitude of the problem, there are over 900 wikis.  Hundreds of those
> wikis comprise Wikipedia, a project with a cumulative total of 50,000,000
> articles. Each one of those articles either has a talk page or could
> theoretically get one as soon as someone makes the first post. So, just
> starting with Wikipedia articles, we have over 50,000,000 potential or
> existing discussion venues, with very little coordination or
> cross-organization between these venues, and this doesn’t even include
> individual user talk pages or really, really specific talk pages like
> “Wikipedia talk:Administrators’ noticeboard/Incidents” which is... very
> precisely, a venue to discuss the administration of that specific
> noticeboard (but not to, itself, host noticeboard-like posts).[0]
>
> It is very convenient and easy to create a talk page because talk pages are
> a very central paradigm to the MediaWiki software (going back to 2002?
> 2003?) and so they are built into the overall website experience in a way
> that things that were tacked on way later, simply are not. But it is a poor
> interface that doesn’t scale across more than several people or a few
> concurrent conversations. But if Wikipedia’s fundamental sidebar chat
> system 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread James Hare
On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:26 AM Yaroslav Blanter  wrote:

> This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project?

I am a product manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. What this means, in the
broadest of terms, is that I need to know what people want/need in order to
do my job “correctly,” for some definition of “correct.” Of course, what
constitutes a “correct” decision on my part is something not everyone will
agree on and that’s fine. But I need to gather information as part of this
work.

The problem is that there is no “one” place to go. To give you an idea of
the magnitude of the problem, there are over 900 wikis.  Hundreds of those
wikis comprise Wikipedia, a project with a cumulative total of 50,000,000
articles. Each one of those articles either has a talk page or could
theoretically get one as soon as someone makes the first post. So, just
starting with Wikipedia articles, we have over 50,000,000 potential or
existing discussion venues, with very little coordination or
cross-organization between these venues, and this doesn’t even include
individual user talk pages or really, really specific talk pages like
“Wikipedia talk:Administrators’ noticeboard/Incidents” which is... very
precisely, a venue to discuss the administration of that specific
noticeboard (but not to, itself, host noticeboard-like posts).[0]

It is very convenient and easy to create a talk page because talk pages are
a very central paradigm to the MediaWiki software (going back to 2002?
2003?) and so they are built into the overall website experience in a way
that things that were tacked on way later, simply are not. But it is a poor
interface that doesn’t scale across more than several people or a few
concurrent conversations. But if Wikipedia’s fundamental sidebar chat
system fails to support more than occasional chatter, how exactly is any of
this supposed to work?

There are two ways to go from here: (a) fix the original problem or (b)
develop workarounds. If you were around back in 2013 or so you may recall a
project called “Flow” that is now called “Structured Discussions.” I can’t
speak officially to any of it because it was before my time and many of the
staff involved no longer work here. And I am actually very hesitant to
bring it up at all, much less by name, because of the taboo that developed
around it. A retrospective on this project is out-of-scope for this post,
but if you need a short and convenient answer: it didn’t work, and it
generally made it impossible for the Wikimedia Foundation to even broach
the subject for the following several years. (There is starting to be work
on this again, and this time, it seems to be going at a more deliberate
pace, but I will defer to the staff working on this.)

Let’s talk about workarounds. We have workarounds that make the talk pages
themselves more useful (talk page archiving comes to mind[1]), and we also
have workarounds that consist of outsourcing the issue entirely, whether it
be solutions we host ourselves (mailing lists, Discourse) or proprietary
platforms that happen to be convenient for large segments of our
communities. There are different advantages and disadvantages to each
solution, which has only resulted in the proliferation of solutions.

Let’s back up. On the wikis themselves there are millions of discussion
venues; there are different software interventions that work or don’t work,
depending on the situation; and we are now in a position where we have so
many places to hold conversations it becomes an extraordinary use of time
(and several people’s full time jobs) to try to understand the
extraordinarily complex social interactions that take place in the hundreds
of languages we speak.

Having introduced all that context, the short answer to your question is
there are some channels we are better at paying attention to than others,
but we don’t know what we don’t know. And this is frustrating for everyone
involved. It makes projects take longer, it makes it harder to onboard
staff, and I can imagine it’s *even more* frustrating for the many users of
our many wikis who have to deal with the software being broken and not
really knowing what to do. I think we manage,  but I think we deserve
better than just “managing” it.


My best regards,
James Hare



[0] This brings up another topic that not all discussions that take place
on Wikipedia happen on discussion pages. Also, there are over 50,000,000
Wikidata items, and almost none of them have talk pages, but theoretically *all
of them* can.

[1] I remember when Werdna wrote the first talk page archiving bot in 2006.
I thought it was cool that someone did that, but looking back on it, I
wonder why I was happy with that as a solution – it seems really convoluted
in retrospect.



> > positive tone needs to be made and a much more conciliatory stance taken.
> > 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Peter Southwood
Are they really "leaders of the movement"?
P

-Original Message-
From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:wikimedia-l-boun...@lists.wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of 
Mister Thrapostibongles
Sent: 15 May 2019 08:40
To: Wikimedia Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment 
for a Wikimedia projects archive)

Asaf,

Perhaps there is a mismatch of expectations here.  The trustees and the
senior staff of the WMF are the leaders of the movement and we may presume
that they know how to do their job.  It is for them to decide on the way
they wish to engage with the community they lead, and they have many ways
of doing so.  Indeed, there is an elaborate strategy consultation taking
place at many levels right now.  One should not confuse a well-thought-out
process for community engagement  with one particular vehicle for
engagement, such as this mailing list.  If seniot staff find that reading,
or responding to, this mailing list does not constitute the most effective
means for them to achieve their leadership goals, then why should anyone
insist that they use it, and thereby spend their valuable time being less
effective in their leadership roles?

Thrapostibongles

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:17 AM Asaf Bartov  wrote:

> Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> co-administrator:
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> wrote:
>
> > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And yet
> > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> this
> > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > written with such overt passive aggression.
> >
> > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list, the
> > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most active
> > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not get
> > acknowledged or answered.
> >
>
> I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.  It's
> true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on their
> part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself, and
> you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call out
> bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and my
> co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
>
> By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to be
> on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial to
> listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF responses
> to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
>
> Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions may
> have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list -- and,
> I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence that
> has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
>
> As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my volunteer
> capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion been
> scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the best
> of my knowledge, for "outstepping my remit" or interfering in someone
> else's remit.  I have taken this to heart, and accordingly no longer try to
> respond to queries such as Fae's (which in this case I find a perfectly
> reasonable question, meriting an answer).  Several past attempts by me to
> ping appropriate senior staff on questions on this list (or on talk pages)
> have also met with rebuke, so I have ceased those as well.
>
> For these reasons I do not accept this wholesale blaming of this list's
> subscribers on the difficulty having 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Chris Keating
Thanks Asaf for this thoughtful email!

I just want to respond to this bit - after all, the history is the history:

>
> It is WMF that is not behaving collaboratively here.  And it is within
> WMF's power to change it.  C-levels, the ED, and other managers at WMF
> could all decide to participate more actively in this list; to respond to
> questions or delegate the answering to their subordinates, who are awaiting
> their cue; and indeed, they could themselves make more use of this list as
> a sounding board, a consultation room, and a reserve of experience and
> diverse context.  They can be the change they (and you, and me) would like
> to see.
>
>
I agree it would be great to see more active discussion on this list
including the WMF Board and senior staff. While it's not a perfect forum,
it's currently one of the better forums we have. Who knows, perhaps at some
point there will be other fora or other methods of putting things on 'the
WMF's' agenda. [Obligatory Movement Strategy reminder: Who knows, perhaps
the WMF is going to take a very different form in 3 years' time!]

But in the meantime I would like to think about what we can all ('WMF' and
'non-WMF') do to encourage this kind of culture change at the WMF.

Thinking about what this list looks like from inside the WMF (a place I
have never been, literally or figuratively), I imagine people find the
following reasons to hesitate before participating:
* The list covers a broad range of topics, some of which are very
high-level in nature and it's not clear who, if anyone, *should* respond. I
expect some people are worried about interfering with other peoples'
responsibilities, or that someone else always has a better understanding?
How can we make people feel empowered to respond to these broad issues?
* Emailing lists is timeconsuming and engaging with further replies that
are angry/dissatisfied/demanding more details is even more demanding of
time and emotion than that. I imagine people are concerned that starting a
dialogue can end up as a huge time sink and emotional drain. How can we
make sure this is a 'safe space' for staff to contribute without certain
people picking up pitchforks? How can we make it clear that contributions
are valued?
* This list is not reflective of the breadth of the movement. If a staff
member wants to engage with community members they may wonder whether this
is this the right place to do so. How can we address that, even if only in
part?

These problems are probably easier to overcome than they look or feel. But
how can we, collectively, overcome them?

(It's also worth noting that these problems will apply to almost every
other potential channel of community engagement, so if it's possible to
make progress on having productive dialogue on this list, there may be
learning points that we can apply to other fora)

What do people think?

Chris
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Andrew Lih
On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 1:40 PM Dariusz Jemielniak 
wrote:

> Likewise. I often refrain from commenting when I think it is more
> collaborative and peaceful to do so, though.
>
> dj "pundit"
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:00 PM James Heilman  jmh...@gmail.com>> wrote:
> As I trustee, I read and generally find this mailing list useful.


On the other hand, I'm sure you know quite well that this list is not great
at representing a broad cross-section of the movement or its core areas of
activity. Over time, the list dynamic has either caused folks to ignore it
or failed to attract subscribers.

I'm not a fan of depending on external modes of communication (non-open or
on for-profit products with dubious ethics) over our traditional channels.
However, it is clear that platforms like Telegram and Facebook have allowed
for community engagement at a speed, depth, richness and quality we have
never seen before. This is especially true when it comes to on-boarding new
external partners or appearing in the feed of people using social media.

James - You're on the Community Health Working Group for 2030 Strategy. I
hope your team can address this in some significant way.

-Andrew
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Dariusz Jemielniak
Likewise. I often refrain from commenting when I think it is more collaborative 
and peaceful to do so, though.

dj "pundit"

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:00 PM James Heilman 
mailto:jmh...@gmail.com>> wrote:
As I trustee, I read and generally find this mailing list useful. Per the
comments around movement hierarchy, we have many leaders of our movement on
this list. While the WMF trustees and senior staff may be the official
leaders of the WMF we do not consider ourselves "the" leaders of the
community. We are simple a few of the many leaders within this movement.

Best
James

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 9:24 AM Mister Thrapostibongles <
thrapostibong...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Asaf,
>
> Perhaps there is a mismatch of expectations here.  The trustees and the
> senior staff of the WMF are the leaders of the movement and we may presume
> that they know how to do their job.  It is for them to decide on the way
> they wish to engage with the community they lead, and they have many ways
> of doing so.  Indeed, there is an elaborate strategy consultation taking
> place at many levels right now.  One should not confuse a well-thought-out
> process for community engagement  with one particular vehicle for
> engagement, such as this mailing list.  If seniot staff find that reading,
> or responding to, this mailing list does not constitute the most effective
> means for them to achieve their leadership goals, then why should anyone
> insist that they use it, and thereby spend their valuable time being less
> effective in their leadership roles?
>
> Thrapostibongles
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:17 AM Asaf Bartov 
> mailto:asaf.bar...@gmail.com>> wrote:
>
> > Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> > carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> > co-administrator:
> >
> > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> > mailto:jsed...@wikimedia.org>>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And
> yet
> > > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> > this
> > > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > > written with such overt passive aggression.
> > >
> > > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list,
> the
> > > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most
> active
> > > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not
> get
> > > acknowledged or answered.
> > >
> >
> > I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.
> It's
> > true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> > past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> > left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on
> their
> > part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself,
> and
> > you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call
> out
> > bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and
> my
> > co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
> >
> > By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to
> be
> > on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial
> to
> > listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF
> responses
> > to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> > chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> > Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> > Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> > accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> > access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
> >
> > Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions
> may
> > have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> > accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> > prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list --
> and,
> > I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> > response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> > to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence
> that
> > has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
> >
> > As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my
> volunteer
> > capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> > have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion
> been
> > scolded 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread James Heilman
As I trustee, I read and generally find this mailing list useful. Per the
comments around movement hierarchy, we have many leaders of our movement on
this list. While the WMF trustees and senior staff may be the official
leaders of the WMF we do not consider ourselves "the" leaders of the
community. We are simple a few of the many leaders within this movement.

Best
James

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 9:24 AM Mister Thrapostibongles <
thrapostibong...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Asaf,
>
> Perhaps there is a mismatch of expectations here.  The trustees and the
> senior staff of the WMF are the leaders of the movement and we may presume
> that they know how to do their job.  It is for them to decide on the way
> they wish to engage with the community they lead, and they have many ways
> of doing so.  Indeed, there is an elaborate strategy consultation taking
> place at many levels right now.  One should not confuse a well-thought-out
> process for community engagement  with one particular vehicle for
> engagement, such as this mailing list.  If seniot staff find that reading,
> or responding to, this mailing list does not constitute the most effective
> means for them to achieve their leadership goals, then why should anyone
> insist that they use it, and thereby spend their valuable time being less
> effective in their leadership roles?
>
> Thrapostibongles
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:17 AM Asaf Bartov  wrote:
>
> > Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> > carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> > co-administrator:
> >
> > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And
> yet
> > > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> > this
> > > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > > written with such overt passive aggression.
> > >
> > > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list,
> the
> > > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most
> active
> > > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not
> get
> > > acknowledged or answered.
> > >
> >
> > I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.
> It's
> > true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> > past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> > left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on
> their
> > part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself,
> and
> > you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call
> out
> > bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and
> my
> > co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
> >
> > By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to
> be
> > on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial
> to
> > listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF
> responses
> > to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> > chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> > Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> > Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> > accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> > access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
> >
> > Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions
> may
> > have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> > accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> > prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list --
> and,
> > I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> > response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> > to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence
> that
> > has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
> >
> > As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my
> volunteer
> > capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> > have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion
> been
> > scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the
> best
> > of my knowledge, for "outstepping my remit" or interfering in someone
> > else's remit.  I have taken this to heart, and accordingly no longer try
> to
> > respond to queries such as Fae's (which in this case I find a perfectly
> > reasonable 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Mister Thrapostibongles
Asaf,

Perhaps there is a mismatch of expectations here.  The trustees and the
senior staff of the WMF are the leaders of the movement and we may presume
that they know how to do their job.  It is for them to decide on the way
they wish to engage with the community they lead, and they have many ways
of doing so.  Indeed, there is an elaborate strategy consultation taking
place at many levels right now.  One should not confuse a well-thought-out
process for community engagement  with one particular vehicle for
engagement, such as this mailing list.  If seniot staff find that reading,
or responding to, this mailing list does not constitute the most effective
means for them to achieve their leadership goals, then why should anyone
insist that they use it, and thereby spend their valuable time being less
effective in their leadership roles?

Thrapostibongles

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:17 AM Asaf Bartov  wrote:

> Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> co-administrator:
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> wrote:
>
> > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And yet
> > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> this
> > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > written with such overt passive aggression.
> >
> > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list, the
> > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most active
> > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not get
> > acknowledged or answered.
> >
>
> I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.  It's
> true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on their
> part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself, and
> you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call out
> bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and my
> co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
>
> By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to be
> on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial to
> listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF responses
> to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
>
> Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions may
> have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list -- and,
> I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence that
> has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
>
> As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my volunteer
> capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion been
> scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the best
> of my knowledge, for "outstepping my remit" or interfering in someone
> else's remit.  I have taken this to heart, and accordingly no longer try to
> respond to queries such as Fae's (which in this case I find a perfectly
> reasonable question, meriting an answer).  Several past attempts by me to
> ping appropriate senior staff on questions on this list (or on talk pages)
> have also met with rebuke, so I have ceased those as well.
>
> For these reasons I do not accept this wholesale blaming of this list's
> subscribers on the difficulty having meaningful conversations here:
>
> But if we want to see staff members more actively
> > participating here then those long standing individuals need to really
> > thing about the tone in which they engage here, particularly those who do
> > so most often. If that does not change, this list will continue to
> languish
> > and those few 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Benjamin Ikuta



Well, there's always good ol' Jimbo's talk page. 



On May 15, 2019, at 6:25 AM, Yaroslav Blanter  wrote:

> This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
> participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
> any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project? They often
> say so, but in practice I do not see any. This list used to be the one, but
> it does not carry out this function. The corresponding part of Meta is
> dead, questions never get answered. Some (very few, as far as I can tell),
> WMF staff members are also active as volunteers, but they do not serve as
> liasons between WMF and communities, at least I do not see any indication
> that they would welcome these questions asked as their talk pages. Every
> time I see a WMF staffer on one of the projects I am active in, this is a
> one-way communication mode, not a dialogue.
> 
> Well, may be WMF does not need these channels, but then I do not understand
> why they continue claiming they are listening to the community. In my
> experience, this is not the case.
> 
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
> 
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:16 PM Joseph Seddon 
> wrote:
> 
>> I do not think we should assign blame to those who left this list during
>> and because of the periods of toxicity, and who are disinclined to
>> participate here because of the memories of that and a continued perceived
>> unhealthiness in the tone. Their decision to leave was a valid one.
>> 
>> Not respecting that choice I suspect would just reaffirm their suspicions
>> and reinforces the lack of desire to commit here. A significantly more
>> positive tone needs to be made and a much more conciliatory stance taken.
>> Otherwise we all might as well pack our bags.
>> 
>> 
>> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:17 AM Asaf Bartov  wrote:
>> 
>>> Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
>>> carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
>>> co-administrator:
>>> 
>>> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
>>> wrote:
>>> 
 I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
 suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
 mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
 movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And
>> yet
 it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
 constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
>>> this
 list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
 written with such overt passive aggression.
 
 I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list,
>> the
 unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most
>> active
 participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not
>> get
 acknowledged or answered.
 
>>> 
>>> I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.
>> It's
>>> true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
>>> past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
>>> left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on
>> their
>>> part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself,
>> and
>>> you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call
>> out
>>> bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and
>> my
>>> co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
>>> 
>>> By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to
>> be
>>> on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial
>> to
>>> listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF
>> responses
>>> to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
>>> chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
>>> Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
>>> Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
>>> accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
>>> access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
>>> 
>>> Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions
>> may
>>> have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
>>> accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
>>> prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list --
>> and,
>>> I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
>>> response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
>>> to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence
>> that
>>> has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
>>> 
>>> As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my
>> volunteer
>>> capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Yaroslav Blanter
This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project? They often
say so, but in practice I do not see any. This list used to be the one, but
it does not carry out this function. The corresponding part of Meta is
dead, questions never get answered. Some (very few, as far as I can tell),
WMF staff members are also active as volunteers, but they do not serve as
liasons between WMF and communities, at least I do not see any indication
that they would welcome these questions asked as their talk pages. Every
time I see a WMF staffer on one of the projects I am active in, this is a
one-way communication mode, not a dialogue.

Well, may be WMF does not need these channels, but then I do not understand
why they continue claiming they are listening to the community. In my
experience, this is not the case.

Cheers
Yaroslav

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:16 PM Joseph Seddon 
wrote:

> I do not think we should assign blame to those who left this list during
> and because of the periods of toxicity, and who are disinclined to
> participate here because of the memories of that and a continued perceived
> unhealthiness in the tone. Their decision to leave was a valid one.
>
> Not respecting that choice I suspect would just reaffirm their suspicions
> and reinforces the lack of desire to commit here. A significantly more
> positive tone needs to be made and a much more conciliatory stance taken.
> Otherwise we all might as well pack our bags.
>
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:17 AM Asaf Bartov  wrote:
>
> > Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> > carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> > co-administrator:
> >
> > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And
> yet
> > > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> > this
> > > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > > written with such overt passive aggression.
> > >
> > > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list,
> the
> > > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most
> active
> > > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not
> get
> > > acknowledged or answered.
> > >
> >
> > I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.
> It's
> > true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> > past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> > left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on
> their
> > part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself,
> and
> > you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call
> out
> > bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and
> my
> > co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
> >
> > By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to
> be
> > on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial
> to
> > listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF
> responses
> > to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> > chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> > Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> > Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> > accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> > access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
> >
> > Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions
> may
> > have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> > accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> > prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list --
> and,
> > I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> > response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> > to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence
> that
> > has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
> >
> > As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my
> volunteer
> > capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> > have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion
> been
> > scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the
> best
> > of my 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Joseph Seddon
I do not think we should assign blame to those who left this list during
and because of the periods of toxicity, and who are disinclined to
participate here because of the memories of that and a continued perceived
unhealthiness in the tone. Their decision to leave was a valid one.

Not respecting that choice I suspect would just reaffirm their suspicions
and reinforces the lack of desire to commit here. A significantly more
positive tone needs to be made and a much more conciliatory stance taken.
Otherwise we all might as well pack our bags.


On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:17 AM Asaf Bartov  wrote:

> Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> co-administrator:
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> wrote:
>
> > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And yet
> > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> this
> > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > written with such overt passive aggression.
> >
> > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list, the
> > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most active
> > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not get
> > acknowledged or answered.
> >
>
> I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.  It's
> true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on their
> part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself, and
> you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call out
> bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and my
> co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
>
> By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to be
> on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial to
> listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF responses
> to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
>
> Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions may
> have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list -- and,
> I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence that
> has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
>
> As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my volunteer
> capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion been
> scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the best
> of my knowledge, for "outstepping my remit" or interfering in someone
> else's remit.  I have taken this to heart, and accordingly no longer try to
> respond to queries such as Fae's (which in this case I find a perfectly
> reasonable question, meriting an answer).  Several past attempts by me to
> ping appropriate senior staff on questions on this list (or on talk pages)
> have also met with rebuke, so I have ceased those as well.
>
> For these reasons I do not accept this wholesale blaming of this list's
> subscribers on the difficulty having meaningful conversations here:
>
> But if we want to see staff members more actively
> > participating here then those long standing individuals need to really
> > thing about the tone in which they engage here, particularly those who do
> > so most often. If that does not change, this list will continue to
> languish
> > and those few staff members who continue to engage here will slowly
> > disappear. This now increasingly perennial topic keeps coming up and my
> > fear is that it will on go away through the increasing abandonment this
> > list faces.
> >
>
> It is WMF that is not behaving collaboratively here.  And it is within
> WMF's power to 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Yaroslav Blanter
Yes, Asaf is absolutely spot on. Though I am afraid it is a small part of a
bigger problem.

Cheers
Yaroslav

On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 12:54 PM Gerard Meijssen 
wrote:

> Hoi,
> Asaf thank you very much. This response of yours helps build bridges.
> Thanks,
>   GerardM
>
> On Wed, 15 May 2019 at 03:17, Asaf Bartov  wrote:
>
> > Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> > carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> > co-administrator:
> >
> > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And
> yet
> > > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> > this
> > > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > > written with such overt passive aggression.
> > >
> > > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list,
> the
> > > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most
> active
> > > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not
> get
> > > acknowledged or answered.
> > >
> >
> > I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.
> It's
> > true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> > past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> > left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on
> their
> > part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself,
> and
> > you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call
> out
> > bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and
> my
> > co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
> >
> > By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to
> be
> > on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial
> to
> > listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF
> responses
> > to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> > chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> > Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> > Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> > accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> > access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
> >
> > Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions
> may
> > have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> > accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> > prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list --
> and,
> > I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> > response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> > to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence
> that
> > has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
> >
> > As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my
> volunteer
> > capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> > have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion
> been
> > scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the
> best
> > of my knowledge, for "outstepping my remit" or interfering in someone
> > else's remit.  I have taken this to heart, and accordingly no longer try
> to
> > respond to queries such as Fae's (which in this case I find a perfectly
> > reasonable question, meriting an answer).  Several past attempts by me to
> > ping appropriate senior staff on questions on this list (or on talk
> pages)
> > have also met with rebuke, so I have ceased those as well.
> >
> > For these reasons I do not accept this wholesale blaming of this list's
> > subscribers on the difficulty having meaningful conversations here:
> >
> > But if we want to see staff members more actively
> > > participating here then those long standing individuals need to really
> > > thing about the tone in which they engage here, particularly those who
> do
> > > so most often. If that does not change, this list will continue to
> > languish
> > > and those few staff members who continue to engage here will slowly
> > > disappear. This now increasingly perennial topic keeps coming up and my
> > > fear is that it will on go away through the increasing abandonment this
> > > list faces.
> > >
> >
> > It is WMF that is not behaving collaboratively here.  And it is within
> > WMF's power to change it.  C-levels, the ED, and other managers at WMF
> > could all decide to 

Re: [Wikimedia-l] Be the change you want to see (was: WMF commitment for a Wikimedia projects archive)

2019-05-15 Thread Gerard Meijssen
Hoi,
Asaf thank you very much. This response of yours helps build bridges.
Thanks,
  GerardM

On Wed, 15 May 2019 at 03:17, Asaf Bartov  wrote:

> Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> co-administrator:
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon 
> wrote:
>
> > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And yet
> > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> this
> > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > written with such overt passive aggression.
> >
> > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list, the
> > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most active
> > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not get
> > acknowledged or answered.
> >
>
> I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.  It's
> true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on their
> part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself, and
> you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call out
> bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and my
> co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
>
> By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to be
> on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial to
> listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF responses
> to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
>
> Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions may
> have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list -- and,
> I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence that
> has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
>
> As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my volunteer
> capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion been
> scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the best
> of my knowledge, for "outstepping my remit" or interfering in someone
> else's remit.  I have taken this to heart, and accordingly no longer try to
> respond to queries such as Fae's (which in this case I find a perfectly
> reasonable question, meriting an answer).  Several past attempts by me to
> ping appropriate senior staff on questions on this list (or on talk pages)
> have also met with rebuke, so I have ceased those as well.
>
> For these reasons I do not accept this wholesale blaming of this list's
> subscribers on the difficulty having meaningful conversations here:
>
> But if we want to see staff members more actively
> > participating here then those long standing individuals need to really
> > thing about the tone in which they engage here, particularly those who do
> > so most often. If that does not change, this list will continue to
> languish
> > and those few staff members who continue to engage here will slowly
> > disappear. This now increasingly perennial topic keeps coming up and my
> > fear is that it will on go away through the increasing abandonment this
> > list faces.
> >
>
> It is WMF that is not behaving collaboratively here.  And it is within
> WMF's power to change it.  C-levels, the ED, and other managers at WMF
> could all decide to participate more actively in this list; to respond to
> questions or delegate the answering to their subordinates, who are awaiting
> their cue; and indeed, they could themselves make more use of this list as
> a sounding board, a consultation room, and a reserve of experience and
> diverse context.  They can be the change they (and you, and me) would like
> to see.
>
> Perhaps