Apologies for top posting, I'm on my phone...

Mike, this was one of the best emails to this list I've read in a long
time.  As someone who has squabbled with you on mailing lists, it's even
better to me.

Take care,  sir.

~ Keegan

On May 29, 2014 5:53 AM, "Mike Godwin" <mnemo...@gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
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