*I'll respond to Risker and DerHexer in a single email.*

> Pine, have you noticed how we're seeing fewer and fewer well-qualified
community members actively seeking out the responsibility of various
committee roles?

*While I haven't looked at committees' member applications in some time, it
wouldn't surprise me if a dwindling pool of highly qualified applicants is
a problem. My understanding from the information that I see from WMF
Analytics is that our population has somewhat plateaued. I've been thinking
for awhile about how to address this problem, and while I think that there
are ways of making incremental progress such as with the Wikipedia in
Education Program and the engagement of more enthusiasts for particular
subjects like cultural heritage or public health, I have yet to imagine a
way to make significant progress. I'd be glad to have an off-list
conversation with you about that subject.*

> It's because they are being bombarded, more and more, by unreasonable
levels of criticism.  I can say this with a fair bit of authority because
I've been involved inhigh-profile committees, task forces, steering groups
and responsible
> roles for 8 years, and the level of criticism has definitely affected
where I'm willing to invest my volunteer efforts.  I turn down 10 attempts
to recruit me for various tasks for every one I accept, and I'm not alone.

*I don't volunteer for Arbcom for similar reasons: too much stress and
conflict, and too little gratitude. WMF is working on some of the civility
issues, but that's a long journey. Again, I'd be glad to have an off-list
conversation about that sometime.*

> The Wikimania Scholarship Committee does work that will never satisfy
everyone, and all of their decisions will be found wanting by some segment
of the community.  It is a very difficult job - there are so many factors
to weigh that,
> even though there are some basic minimal levels of activity expected,
deciding between a candidate with a few thousand edits who is one of the
most proliferate editors of a small wiki (e.g., the editor mainly
translates high-value articles
> and posts them in a single edit) against one who specializes in high
quality images (but only uploads 50 a year) against one > who averages
15,000 edits but mainly works in anti-vandalism, against one who has few
on-wiki
> contributions but has trained and educated dozens of very productive
editors....well, you see the challenge.  These are all valuable
contributors - but their contribution to the movement is very different,
and those who value some of those
> contributions over others will find personal justification in complaining
about the decisions the committee makes.

> There may be some reasonable arguments about providing some aggregate
information such as the number of applicants from different regions and the
percentage that were successful....but again, there are other routes to
Wikimania
> including scholarships from large chapters, which often sponsor community
members from other regions, and often select recipients from the pool of
WMF-sponsored scholarship applicants.

*I think that publishing the usernames of the applicants, the decisions
made by the committee, and perhaps some other aggregate information would
be a good move in the spirit of transparency, if done in future years when
applicants can be told in advance that this will be done. I anticipate that
there will be disagreements, but civil discussions are beneficial to inform
future work of the Committee as well as community and WMF practices and
policies.*

> Of course, there is an easier way to affect the outcome of these
discussions.  Sign up in late 2017/early 2018 to become a member of the
scholarship committee.

*No thank you.*


On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 12:41 AM, DerHexer <derhe...@wikipedia.de> wrote:

> Hi,
>
> transparency on the selection can only work when also the application
> texts are public because we have many very active Wikimedians who are not
> very clear about what they ever did or actually do, how this is relevant to
> Wikimania and if they are able to and want to share this at Wikimania and
> back in their local communities afterwards. However, if only the results
> were published, there could be no useful discussion between the committee
> and others without information from the application texts.
>

*I think that partial information is better than none. However, I think
there's room for discussion about what kinds of information should be made
public; for example it might be that individual users' countries aren't
published in the scholarships announcement if the user hasn't themselves
already declared that information publicly. I am mindful of the safety of
scholarship applicants who live in countries where their participation in
Wikipedia might place them at risk, and I would take that into
consideration when designing the reports that are published. Also, I think
it's reasonable to withhold the prose application texts that applicants
write to the Committee for privacy and safety reasons.*


>
> But when applications are public, it would make absolutely no sense to
> have a committee for the selection because every decision by the committe
> could be easily be debated. When the expertise of the committee is
> questioned, people would be hesitant to participate as already described in
> this thread. Hence, only a public selection done by the community as a
> replacement for the committee would make sense.
>

*Grant applications are public, and we have grants committees, and those
committees' decisions are subject to review and occasional debate. It seems
to me that the Wikimania Scholarship Committee should align itself with the
grants committees in publishing decisions. Discussions and debates, when
done civilly, can be informative and lead to better decisions in the
future. *


>
> When the community would decide on the applications, we had to define who
> would be part of that community: who's eligible to vote on these? should
> the votes be public? would large discussions be allowed? etc. As we have
> lots of experience with public elections, we can also easily name the
> disadvantages of these: Popularity contests for only those people who can
> stand public criticism, sometimes by few very loud destructive people or
> even enemy groups, on everything they every did. Tons of people would be
> refrain from applying at all, something we strongy have to face at the
> moment with elections for adminship or other committees as pointed out by
> Risker.
>

*I'm having a little difficulty understanding this paragraph, so please
help me understand. Is the concern about electing the members of the
Scholarship Committee, or is the concern about direct public votes on
individual scholarship applications?*


>
> Of course, we had transparency as a result and more public discussions
> around the selection, but we would have no safe space for applicants at all
> (also in terms of sensitive data like personal living conditions and
> anonymity). I see no third working model besides these and my preference
> would clearly be the committee. But if you like, you can, of course, seek
> consensus on the other model. I will raise my concerns there as pointed out
> here.
>



*As I stated above, I think that publishing some information to enhance
transparency and inform future decisions can be done while withholding
other information for the safety and privacy of applicants.*
*From my perspective, the purpose of making decisions of the Scholarship
Committee more transparent is *not* to foster controversy or debate for
their own sake. My hope is that more transparency would foster civil
discussion, promote learning, and facilitate improvements in future years
for the committee as well as for the WMF and the community in general.*

Pine
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