You just don't get it, do you? Even from the start this was all about social issues with rollouts, and still you are contributing to the very same social problems you so blindly condemned.


On 20/01/16 14:16, Magnus Manske wrote:
On Wed, Jan 20, 2016 at 12:58 AM Todd Allen <> wrote:

Once the VisualEditor was fit for purpose and a good deployment strategy
had been developed, the English Wikipedia community overwhelmingly
supported rolling it out. (

That is for new accounts only. Without an account, still no VE for you,
even if you are probably the one needing it most.

It's not Luddism, it's not "resistance to change", it's not "power users"
grumpy about newbies having an easier time, it's not anything like that.
It's that in the state it was initially released in, the thing did not

No one said "Luddism", except to defend against its use. Odd.

So yes, by all means, let's try new things. But try:

1: Asking us what we actually want, before coding something up and feeling
obligated to push it out. People are a lot more receptive to something they
asked for than something being forced upon them. That's been an issue with
Flow. It's not that it doesn't work well (though it doesn't), it's that it
wasn't wanted to start with. So instead of "Here's the new discussion
system", ask "What can we do to make our system of discussion better?"

Listening to what editors want is important. ONLY listening to wad editors
want is bad. People often don't know what they want or need, until they see
it. Compare the famous (possibly misattributed) Henry Ford quote:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster

Also, veteran editors do not represent the readers or casual/newbie
editors; their needs are often quite different.

2: Make sure it works. Have an opt-in beta phase. Doesn't have to be
perfect, but certainly make sure it's not breaking page formatting all over
the place. You'll notice, for example, that there wasn't really any
resistance to HHVM. It worked well, it was desirable, it was clearly fit
for purpose. So no, there isn't just a reflexive change aversion. Though
the previous missteps and hamfisted followups have, rather ironically,
created a lot of the reflexive change aversion that people said was there.

Wrong example. The HHMV switch was a back-end change that should have had
no visible effect. As long as the servers are fast, people don't really
care what's going on there. Did e.g. English Wikipedia actually vote on

3: Be nice (but NOT condescending or patronizing) if an issue comes up.
"Superprotect" alienated people right quickly, and turned what could have
been a productive (if tense) conversation into a war. Same with refusal to
budge on VE and the arrogant tone several people took. Yes, some people
might be rude about objecting to the change. Don't sink to their level. If
they call the new software a steaming pile, ask "Could you offer more
concrete feedback?"

Superprotect was used to revert an admin action on de.wikipedia, an action
that might actually fall under U.S. or German computer sabotage laws. This
was hailed as some heroic action by that vocal group I keep mentioning,
when it can easily be seen as someone abusing the privileges given by the
Foundation (as owners of the servers) to deactivate functionality put in
place by the Foundation.
The creation and subsequent use of superprotect was not exactly the most
wise decision ever undertaken, but neither was the original sabotage
(literally so; using access to a machine to stop it from working, just not
using a wooden shoe).
And while it is always good to ask for more concrete feedback, it is even
better to offer it to begin with.

4: Don't surprise people. Not everyone follows the Village Pumps or what
have you. If a major new feature is set to roll out, do banners, do
watchlist notices, do whatever it takes, but make sure people know. When
Mediaviewer was rolled out, all of a sudden, I was just having images act
completely different. I had no idea what was going on. People are more
amenable to change if you brace them for it. Even better, do that to
develop a rollout strategy in advance with the community. (You already know
they want it; they asked for it. Right?)

The Foundation appears to be doing this already. I even saw a mail about it

5: If at all feasible, offer an easy opt-out. People are actually more
likely to give something a decent try if they know they can switch back if
they don't like it.

IIRC, both VE and MediaViewer offered opt-out from the beginning; the MV
opt-out just was "below the fold" or something.

6: Show willingness to budge. "No, we won't do ACTRIAL, period." "You get
VE, like it or not." "You're getting Mediaviewer even if we have to develop
a new protection level to cram it down your throats!" That type of
hamfisted, I'm-right-you're-wrong approach will gear people right up for a
fight. Fights are bad. Discussions are good. But people don't like to talk
to a brick wall.

Everyone (as in, the vast majority of people I ever spoke to, approaching
100%) agreed that Wikipedia editing, especially for newbies, sucked.
Everyone agreed that what happened when clicking on a file in Wikipedia was
confusing for most readers.
These are not issues the Foundation just made up in some ivory tower; there
was little dispute that something should be done. So the Foundation did,
and switched their solution on, for everyone, because most users are "just"
readers, not editors, and see an actual improvement. Neiter VE nor MV was
perfect in the beginning; neither is now. They just got better over time.
So MV is active for everyone, including IPs, even on German Wikipedia,
right now. Because it's beeter for most people, and it works. Why did it
need to be completely switch off again?

Many of us were asking for a WYSIWYG editor for some time, because we very
much need a way to reach out to prospective editors who are intimidated by
wikimarkup or just don't care to learn it. So it wasn't that we were
opposed to VE in principle. Good idea, bad execution.

As someone who has worked on alternative Wikitext parsers, and alternative
interfaces, rest assured that the execution was quite good for an initial
version. As I said before, it is impossible to get this perfect right away.
Just like it is impossible (literally, as in "not possible") to reliably
get the license for an image in MV on all cases. The community/vocal group
needs to show some patience when developers are trying their best to get a
giant project up and running smoothy.


On Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 7:39 AM, Anthony Cole <> wrote:

Magnus, you've missed the point of the visual editor revolt. A couple of
people here have tried to explain that to you, politely. And you're
persisting with your idée fixe.

There were two parts to the visual editor catastrophe, actually. The
product wasn't ready for anyone to use. Not veteran editors. Not newbies.
Newbies who used it were less likely to successfully complete an edit. It
was broken, and the WMF insisted we had to use it.

The second part of the problem was arrogance. Yes, a few editors were
unnecessarily rude about the product and the developers. But then most of
the developers and tech staff who dealt with the community arrogantly
characterised *anyone* who complained about the product as an ignorant,
selfish Ludite - and you're persisting with that characterisation now.

The WMF under Lila has learned the lessons from that, and they have
fostered a much healthier relationship between the developers and the
community. You clearly haven't learned all you might have.

In fact, reading the arrogant responses from you here and in the
thread titled "How to disseminate free knowledge," and from Denny in
earlier threads addressing criticism of WikiData, it seems to me there is
still a significant arrogance problem that needs addressing, at least
at WikiData.

Some people may approach you arrogantly, maybe even insultingly, about an
innovation, and I suppose you might be justified in talking down to them
ridiculing them (though I advise against it.). But if you can't
them from those who approach you with genuine concerns and well-founded
criticisms, then no matter how clever you think your technical solutions
are, you will soon find you're no more welcome here than those WMF
who thought insulting well-meaning critics was a good career move.

Denny's contemptuous dismissal of valid criticisms of his project, and
contemptuous dismissal of the valid criticisms of the early visual editor
and its launch are both very disappointing.

Anthony Cole

On Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 7:24 AM, Magnus Manske <>

The iPhone was a commercial success because it let you do the basic
functions easily and intuitively, and looked shiny at the same time. We
not charge a price; our "win" comes by people using our product. If we
present the product in such a way that more people use it, it is a
for us.

I do stand by my example :-)

On Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 10:37 PM Michael Peel <>
On 18 Jan 2016, at 22:35, Magnus Manske <
As one can be overly conservative, one can also be overly
enthusiastic. I
would hope the Foundation by now understands better how to handle
software releases. Apple here shows the way: Basic functionality,
working smoothly first.
But at a huge cost premium? I'm not sure that's a good example to
here. :-/

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