Re: [Wikimedia-l] Questions for the Board post-Wikimania

2013-08-23 Thread Federico Leva (Nemo)

phoebe ayers, 17/08/2013 17:49:

P.s.: Generic questions to the board on this list are usually
ignored/missed, unless [sometimes] when they are in reply to
something posted on behalf of the board; in theory I guess the place
for such public questions would be
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/BN which offers some permanency, but
has never been really used yet.


Well, threads like this are fine; this came out of the Wikimania
questions, as Steven noted. We can certainly try to revive the board
noticeboard too!


As a way to revive it, any trustee can pick an unanswered question from 
the Wikimania wiki page and answer it there without polluting their 
email. ;)


Nemo

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Questions for the Board post-Wikimania

2013-08-19 Thread Quim Gil

On 08/14/2013 01:52 PM, Steven Walling wrote:

Would the Board
consider recruiting expert seats with more experience in engineering and
product development?


With or without expert seats, I believe the whole tech planning process 
would improve if our tech volunteers (tech ambassadors?) would be more 
involved since the beginning. This might mean a longer discussion, but 
also more transparent and with a better community backing since the 
beginning.


Moving some discussions early in the planning process might save a lot 
more time and energy discussing months later, when prototypes and betas 
start to show up. And by that time it could be the own tech ambassadors 
the ones defending the plan they helped build.


Opinions are mine, etc.

--
Quim Gil
Technical Contributor Coordinator @ Wikimedia Foundation
http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/User:Qgil

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Questions for the Board post-Wikimania

2013-08-17 Thread Bishakha Datta
On Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 2:22 AM, Steven Walling swall...@wikimedia.orgwrote:

 Hey all,

 During Wikimania's QA panel, the Board lamented that, as always, they did
 not have enough time to answer all the questions from the audience and
 posted beforehand on-wiki. They did say they were accessible to follow up
 with on unanswered questions though, so I am taking this opportunity to
 start an open thread.

 The question I am personally interested in, I posted on the Wikimania wiki
 page,[1] and it's...

 The 2013-14 Annual Plan allocates 40% of the Wikimedia Foundation budget
 and 59% of the staffing to engineering and product development. However, it
 seems that few of Board members have professional expertise in theses areas
 (compared to previous years and in general). Does the Board feel it has the
 necessary expertise to lead the Foundation in this area? Would the Board
 consider recruiting expert seats with more experience in engineering and
 product development?


Dear Steven,

This is a good question and I largely agree with Phoebe. In June 2012, the
then board did an exercise where we tried to identify missing board skills.

As part of the Board Governance Committee's aim of increasing board
transparency while retaining the privacy that we need to carry out our work
effectively, this has now been posted at:
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Board_skills_matrix_2012

Keep in mind that this is a year old. Even so, hope it provides some
overall context and a few indirect glimmers into answering the question
that you posed.

Needless to say, a similar matrix done now may yield somewhat different
results.

Best
Bishakha
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Questions for the Board post-Wikimania

2013-08-17 Thread Federico Leva (Nemo)

phoebe ayers, 15/08/2013 12:26:

And lastly of course what's been on everyone's mind lately is we must
continue to try to figure out the best way to develop and roll out products
in our complex, opinionated, multilingual community. To be frank, I don't
know what the the best role for the board is in this process. I try to be
careful about keeping my public comments to a minimum when tech debates are
raging, as I think all the trustees do, because it's usually just not
helpful to randomly weigh in. Does that mean developers feel unsupported by
the board? That would be an unfortunate side effect of trying not to
overstep our role...


From a Wikimedia projects point of view, what I'd rather like to know 
is how the annual plan ends up containing some specific technical 
goals/products. This is for sure something under the board's 
responsibility as the board approves the plan, however – just we don't 
know absolutely anything in general on how the annual plan is produced 
and why it is as it is – it's not clear who proposes, who reviews and 
who actually decides what ends up in the plan, not to speak of the 
rationale. Does the board have any role in shaping the engineering goals 
as defined by the annual plan, apart from the final rubberstamping in a 
yes/no vote following some two weeks of discussion out of several months 
of mysterious drafting?


Neom

P.s.: Generic questions to the board on this list are usually 
ignored/missed, unless [sometimes] when they are in reply to something 
posted on behalf of the board; in theory I guess the place for such 
public questions would be https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/BN which 
offers some permanency, but has never been really used yet.


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Questions for the Board post-Wikimania

2013-08-17 Thread phoebe ayers
On Sat, Aug 17, 2013 at 2:17 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo) nemow...@gmail.comwrote:

 phoebe ayers, 15/08/2013 12:26:

  And lastly of course what's been on everyone's mind lately is we must
 continue to try to figure out the best way to develop and roll out
 products
 in our complex, opinionated, multilingual community. To be frank, I don't
 know what the the best role for the board is in this process. I try to be
 careful about keeping my public comments to a minimum when tech debates
 are
 raging, as I think all the trustees do, because it's usually just not
 helpful to randomly weigh in. Does that mean developers feel unsupported
 by
 the board? That would be an unfortunate side effect of trying not to
 overstep our role...


 From a Wikimedia projects point of view, what I'd rather like to know is
 how the annual plan ends up containing some specific technical
 goals/products. This is for sure something under the board's responsibility
 as the board approves the plan, however – just we don't know absolutely
 anything in general on how the annual plan is produced and why it is as it
 is – it's not clear who proposes, who reviews and who actually decides what
 ends up in the plan, not to speak of the rationale. Does the board have any
 role in shaping the engineering goals as defined by the annual plan, apart
 from the final rubberstamping in a yes/no vote following some two weeks of
 discussion out of several months of mysterious drafting?


Hey, I'm hoping another trustee will jump in here since I wasn't involved
with the last annual plan (thanks to my gap year off the board). But it's a
good question. In general: the specific plan activities are written by the
staff; the board's influence is more on the level of approving the overall
balance and resourcing to different activities/goals (like how much do we
focus on product development vs. other development, etc.) And, the board
needs to see that the big issues (editor retention/keeping the sites
up/etc) are being addressed -- but how that happens is something we
generally leave to the staff's expertise.

-- phoebe


 P.s.: Generic questions to the board on this list are usually
 ignored/missed, unless [sometimes] when they are in reply to something
 posted on behalf of the board; in theory I guess the place for such public
 questions would be https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/BN which offers some
 permanency, but has never been really used yet.


Well, threads like this are fine; this came out of the Wikimania questions,
as Steven noted. We can certainly try to revive the board noticeboard too!
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Questions for the Board post-Wikimania

2013-08-15 Thread phoebe ayers
On Aug 15, 2013 4:53 AM, Steven Walling swall...@wikimedia.org wrote:

 Hey all,

 During Wikimania's QA panel, the Board lamented that, as always, they did
 not have enough time to answer all the questions from the audience and
 posted beforehand on-wiki. They did say they were accessible to follow up
 with on unanswered questions though, so I am taking this opportunity to
 start an open thread.

 The question I am personally interested in, I posted on the Wikimania wiki
 page,[1] and it's...

 The 2013-14 Annual Plan allocates 40% of the Wikimedia Foundation budget
 and 59% of the staffing to engineering and product development. However, it
 seems that few of Board members have professional expertise in theses areas
 (compared to previous years and in general). Does the Board feel it has the
 necessary expertise to lead the Foundation in this area? Would the Board
 consider recruiting expert seats with more experience in engineering and
 product development?


Thanks Steven!

Answering for myself (and only myself) I am in two minds about this
question.  On the one hand, yes, of course engineering is a core activity
for us - well over half, as you point out - and I wish it was an area that
was better represented on the board. I do think we should pay attention to
that when recruiting expert seats, and I do also wish our own dev community
was better represented in (all kinds of) governance.

On the other hand, I think the main contribution that recruiting for this
would likely bring is helping the board stay more focused on tech. No one
person is going to be able to instantly understand all our projects --
someone with a managerial background at another shop would have to rethink
their assumptions, as chances are excellent that whatever products they'd
worked on, they won't be as multilingual or community focused as ours.  And
someone from our own tech community would have the same challenge all of
our community trustees do, of having to relearn their relationship to
Wikimedia and balance many competing interests. So while yes, I think as a
board we should pay more attention to our overall technical landscape, I
think that we can push ourselves to do this at a governance level without
having individual specific hands-on expertise (similarly, just because
Kat's now left the board doesn't mean we're going to stop getting legal
updates and making that area as a priority). For instance, Erik's been
giving some very helpful visual editor updates to the board recently,
similar to his public emails; I hope that kind of ongoing update will help
both the board  senior staff reflect on and plan our activities.

So I'd like to back up a little bit and ask you and the community at large,
and especially the engineering community, what we need to solve for. What
challenges aren't we meeting? What strategic questions should we tackle?
What philosophical and/or strategic support does the tech community want to
see from the board?

For instance: in the past we've set our highest-level priority at Wikimedia
as recruiting and keeping more editors, which has led pretty directly to
things like E3, mobile editing, and the visual editor being prioritized.
But of course there's a lot of other engineering  product areas to think
about, everything from building features for existing editors to disaster
planning in ops to supporting the staff + volunteer dev community (I'm
quite pleased, incidentally, to see new 3rd-party mediawiki projects;
that's been a gap for a long time).

And lastly of course what's been on everyone's mind lately is we must
continue to try to figure out the best way to develop and roll out products
in our complex, opinionated, multilingual community. To be frank, I don't
know what the the best role for the board is in this process. I try to be
careful about keeping my public comments to a minimum when tech debates are
raging, as I think all the trustees do, because it's usually just not
helpful to randomly weigh in. Does that mean developers feel unsupported by
the board? That would be an unfortunate side effect of trying not to
overstep our role...

best,

Phoebe
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