Hi, Wil (and greetings to all my Wikimedian friends here!). I've been catching up on the Wikimedia-L threads, and of course I've come across your many postings and your engagement, sometimes tense, with other posters here. I have some sympathy for your reactions and questions: I've had some similar experiences myself, dating in particular from the first year I served on WMF's staff as general counsel. My own experience was colored by the fact that I knew my intentions were good, I was reasonably certain I was a smart, even sociable guy, and so why was it that some significant portion of what I posted generated friction on what was supposed to be an inclusive, Assume-Good-Faith mailing list?
I think I realized reasonably quickly that, precisely because I assumed my own good faith, I wasn't always alert to my cultural missteps, even though I knew at an intellectual level that this mailing list, unlike some others, is a community. For a community, when a new individual appears out of "nowhere" and begins to assert himself or herself, and launches into extended criticisms of so many things he (or she) encounters, the natural, human reaction is not to automatically embrace the newcomer for his or her contributions to diversity and insight, but instead to wonder, "Hey, why hasn't he made the effort to learn about our history and traditions and norms and expectations?" *This phenomenon is entirely human and normal*, but it still sometimes requires a bit of a bumpy transition, even if you know (intellectually, at least) to expect it. So, what I'm suggesting is, when you respond by trying to call attention to the friction your (comparatively) abrupt dive into this community has generated for you, what you may be calling attention to is not something pathological about a mailing list but instead just a part of the human condition. If you're patient, you can take a breath or two, maybe even a short break, and come back to the list and give as much attention to the issues and problems for the Wikimedia movement as you like, and over time get better reactions/reception. My own experience was that, over time, most Wikimedians had a chance to observe my commitment as a Wikimedian, and in my role as WMF's lawyer, to protect and advance the projects with the same fierceness with which I sometimes, particularly early on, expressed my opinions on the mailing lists and on the wikis. No doubt the potential is there for you to have the same experience. There is one important, though, between your experience and mine, and if I were in your position I would give it some thought. Specifically, your partner is only ever going to have one first month, and only one first year, as the new executive director of WMF. If I were in your position, I would give her as much breathing space and community mindshare as I could to create her own first impressions, to find her own themes, and to set the tone for her long-term role as executive director. I might even take a month off with regard to participating in public discussions -- *even though I wouldn't have to, and even though some of the reactions to what I'd written seem unfair to me* -- just to let my partner establish her own role without any distractions I might cause. Lila's job is tough and challenging, and she will need all the support she can get. You may find that one way you can support her in the very near term is to step away from tense exchanges (or maybe all public exchanges on the lists) for a while -- even though you may feel, with some sense of righteousness, that you shouldn't have to do this. I agree that in an ideal world you shouldn't have to. But in the human world we live in, if I were in your position, I'd give this approach a month or so, just as an exercise, and as a way of showing support for my partner's taking the reins of an unusually difficult, but also culturally unique enterprise. You haven't solicited my advice on any of this, of course. But I hope you appreciate that you're hearing it from someone who himself has been outspoken on the lists, who is sometimes critical of community responses and norms, who has been publicly criticized from time to time, but who also has found that it's really helpful, especially in the earliest days of engagement with a new community, to listen as much as talk. I think of myself as a Wikimedian, and my ongoing engagement with the movement and the community is one of general respect and regard, even when I disagree with their consensus, as I frequently do. I hope this note is taken in the spirit in which it is written. Thanks for your attention. --Mike Godwin Senior Legal Advisor, Global Internet Policy Project, Internews General Counsel, Wikimedia Foundation, 2007-2010 _______________________________________________ Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe>