On Mon, Sep 1, 2014 at 9:10 AM, Marc A. Pelletier <m...@uberbox.org> wrote:

> Warning, tl;dr rant below in which live my personal opinion.
> On 09/01/2014 08:00 AM, Craig Franklin wrote:
> > fter the catastrophic
> > aborted launch of the Visual Editor, complete with numerous bugs that
> > should have been picked up in even a cursory unit testing scheme or
> > regression testing scheme prior to being deployed to a productive
> > environment, there's not a good deal of faith left.
> That /was/ a bad botch; and (IMO) the reason why that happened is that
> someone set a hard deploy date that should never have been set in stone
> and then held to it even though VE was clearly not ready.  (It is *now*
> at a point with rollout would have been plausible).
> Clearly nobody at WMF Engineering is going to do *that* again.

We've heard that before.

> But I also don't think that was causative in any way; the tension
> between WMF holding the reins to the servers and (part of) the
> communities was the same years before that.  ACCTRIAL anyone?

Sure, for reasons I'll get to below. That contradicts the rest of what you
said here.

> The fundamental issue is that the WMF is attempting to provide some
> direction, and the communities do not want any (for various and
> divergent reasons).

I don't think it's that the communities don't want any direction. It's that
large, open projects historically managed by their volunteers are not
amenable to top-down, authoritarian direction. All that will do is start
fights, to the detriment of everyone and especially to the detriment of
said projects. None of us are out a paycheck if we scale back our activity
or walk away in disgust.

> I side with the WMF in this; not because they sign my paycheck (I'm in
> Ops - I have zero to do with dev work) but because I've been a
> Wikipedian for >10 years and I *see* that the communities have no
> capacity for change - or that what little change manages to gather
> micro-consensus is local and often shortsighted.  The projects are
> directionless, and it shows in the increasing stagnation and calcification.

That's contradicted by, among other things, ACTRIAL as mentioned above. The
en.wp community came to a clear consensus for a major change, and the WMF
shrugged and said "Nah, rather not." When treated that way, do you think
the community has much appetite to continue discussing necessary changes
when the last time was a significant effort ultimately ending in futility,
not because of a failure on the community's part, but because of WMF's
refusal to listen?

> Are all the attempts by the WMF at providing direction successes?  Not
> even close.  Some of the things they tried ranged from merely misguided
> to downright daft (also IMO, obviously).
> The process *does* need community engagement.  That'd seriously
> increases the value of what (and how) the WMF does things, and likely
> reduce the number of bad ideas from the outset.

As above, that's not going to happen if that engagement continues to result
in brushoffs. Look at Flow. One overwhelming message is "We don't want it
at all" (and that demands real consideration, not dismissive comments about
"resistance to change" and "power users"), but when asked what could at
least make it better, the answers of "Preserve ability for anyone to
refactor posts as needed, don't restrict to admins" and "Don't limit
indentation" have fallen on deaf ears. Again, if there's no one listening,
people are not going to continue talking to what by all appearances is a
brick wall.

> But the community engagement it needs is one that is done in good faith;
> something which I have yet to see more than exceptions here and there.
> It also needs fewer reactionnary hotheads.  Editing sucks.  Reading is
> lacking.  Most of the tooling is crap.  That X editors have gotten used
> to it and have implemented piles of workarounds doesn't justify keeping
> the old shit around.

Maybe. I don't really think it's crap. Reflinks wasn't crap. That doesn't
mean we can't do better, but we need to do actually better, not just "We
need to do something, this is something, so do it!"

Regardless, same again: That needs to be met with good faith on the other
side, to stop just plowing ahead when everyone's saying "WAIT, there's
serious problems here!". Engagement doesn't work if it's the classic
"suggestions box" positioned directly over a garbage can.

> MV is a perfect example.  99% of the problems it objectively has (we
> ignore here matters of taste) derive from the difficulty of parsing the
> multitude overcomplicated templates living on File: pages to work around
> the fact that a wikitext page is complete and utter crap at storing
> metadata.  It's not an argument against MV, it's an argument for getting
> rid of the horrid way we handle File: pages with ad-hoc workarounds.
> The *correct* solution is to fix the damn image pages, not to remove MV.
> How is it that the old saying goes?  "'We've always done things this
> way' is the most dangerous statement in any language?"

Change for the sake of change can easily be as dangerous. I think most
agree that some changes are necessary. As above, one of the historical
blowups was when the en.wp community came to clear consensus, asked for a
change, and just got a dismissive WONTFIX. If you want to drive engagement,
show real willingness to respond to that engagement with actions and real
changes, not yet another promise to do better next time, we really really
mean it now. Sometimes, that might mean doing things the person doing them
doesn't personally agree with.

> -- Marc
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