Hi Delphine,

many thanks for your insight, and I definitely understand why you're
pointing out the problematic areas, as well as I share some of your
specific concerns.

I'm going to fall silent on the list for a while, as I really don't want to
sound as the "nothing to watch, move on" guy, and I don't have anything
concrete to add.

take care! :)


On Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 11:17 AM, Delphine Ménard <notafi...@gmail.com>

> I believe that Dariusz' comment was somewhat blown out of proportions
> (due in part to difficulties in communication inherent to our
> multicultural movement). I also think that some of the statements he
> made were too "blanket" to let go, so I understand the frustration.
> This said, Ori, I want to thank you for what I believe is the most
> daring, heartfelt and bold emails ever written to this list.
> And I use the word bold very specifically because I believe that this
> is what is missing today. Boldness. Boldness does not only translate
> in taking (un)calculated risks, it also comes in the capacity of
> admitting failure.
> I'll tell you where I think we, as an organisation, have failed. It
> was already a long time ago, when we started to talk about efficiency.
> When the Foundation started working and acting like an American Global
> Corporation, and stopped cherishing our diversity and leverage it to
> do that thing we once all dreamed of "taking over the world". I will
> give you a few examples which I think illustrate the failure to be
> bold in organisational ways. They might shed a light on today's
> governance chaos.
> Fundraising & Trademark: For the longest time, we've been analyzing
> what risks there were if Chapter/Entity XYZ fundraised, or used the
> trademark. What are the terrible things that would happen if someone
> got in trouble at the other end of the world and they had anything to
> do with Wikimedia or Wikimedia money. No-one ever said: "let us find a
> solution to leverage our diversity and fundraise all over the world,
> and make sure that we get all there is to get, together". Or: "Let us
> recognize how every single person using the trademark is an asset to
> that trademark". No one said, let us work together to make sure that
> our organisational network represents our diversity, our collective
> core. We're only afraid of what may happen if. We are afraid, or cosy.
> After 10 years, Wikimedia Germany and Wikimedia Switzerland are the
> only parts of the world where fundraising is happening locally. And
> it's not because anyone ever thought that they did it better (well, I
> do ;)), but because of technicalities. We have never thanked the
> thousands of volunteers handing out flyers for their part in making
> our trademark an amazing thing. instead, we're calculating all the
> risks, the "what happens if". The "product" by definition is owned by
> all of us, and more. While protecting it is a good thing, keeping it
> behind bars isn't. We are diverse, we will make mistakes and learn
> from them. We freaking built an encyclopedia, of course we can take
> care of it without having to fear everyone and their brother! And
> while an organisation is not a wiki, and revert not always an option,
> I'm pretty sure that
> Governance: No members at the Foundation. OK, I am not for or against
> it, but the whole speech "we answer to 80000 volunteers" which has
> been served to me over the years (as opposed to a mere 300 members in
> that chapter or that other) is a load of BS. Because what I have
> observed in the past few years, the Board only serves itself or the ED
> (your pick), or "the Foundation" (the word "fiduciary responsibility"
> still makes me cringe today).  I am questioning who feels "served"
> today. Doesn't seem like a lot of people. But you know, nobody
> represents anyone, they're only "selected"...
> Governance again: 10 board members. No clear cut majority, ever.
> Impossible. No-one can take charge and make things change drastically.
> Not the community and "chapter" seats, not the appointed people. An
> inertia of the likes I have *never* seen. I have been very close to
> the board in extremely different contexts, extremely different
> constellations and I have come to the conclusion that however smart
> the people on it were, the sum of their intelligence as a collective
> body amounted to less than their average intelligence when taken as
> individuals. Insane. You cannot "govern" when the gap in opinions is
> so huge that you can only always go for the "middle", which makes
> nobody happy. I have seen people on the board get lashed at because
> their vote on the outside looked like they were betraying the people
> they were close to. But we don't know what the options on the table
> were, and who knows, how they might have been so much worse. So middle
> it is. Bold is but a faint memory (and the bold ones still get lashed
> at, look at Dariusz being the only one talking here, and the one who
> takes the blows).
> Loyalty: We never really prodded for loyalty. Chapters were left to
> develop in their own chaotic ways, pushed away because they were a
> risk, and when they strayed they were put back under the iron hand of
> the Foundation and handled like kids. We never said: "gals and guys,
> we're all in this together, let us work together to be better,
> together". I know I am not doing justice to all the amazing work that
> has been done in the grants department, among others, but hear me out.
> I want chapters and affiliates and communities and staff to feel they
> owe and own the Foundation at the same time. Back to "governance
> again", no representation, a self-serving body. There are still (too
> many) people out there who feel "the Foundation" does not represent
> them. How do we change that? How do we make sure that people feel they
> have a voice, and give them the will to give back to the whole?
> Impact: Wow, that one is a big one. We don't know the impact we have
> because we never really asked ourselves what impact in our context
> really means. Oh, we do have data, tons of it. But what does it mean
> to have impact when you're Wikimedia? page views? Number of mobile
> devices in the Global South (sorry kittens) accessing the content for
> free? Number of mentions of Wikipedia at dinner parties to check who's
> right or who's wrong on who last won the Superbowl? We're trying hard,
> but not finding a common definition. Or even agreeing on the fact that
> there might not be one. Again, how do we find a common direction? It
> takes leadership in thinking out difficult questions and strength in
> making them heard and embraced. One thing is sure, there are many
> people asking others to show impact, but no-one within our governance
> ranks making a real and beneficial one in giving a strong sense of
> direction.
> So yes, I think I understand your frustration. And I wish that someone
> had the boldness to take their fingers out of their... ears, and make
> things change. Too many people in too little time have been "moving
> on" or "exploring other opportunities". And this is indeed a strong
> sign that something must be done. You pointed out in a direction, I am
> of a mind that it is not the only direction, even if it might be the
> most acute and the (relatively) easiest to address.
> Cheers,
> Delphine
> PS. For history's sake, I have worked for the Foundation, I have left
> it too, I know the feeling, to my bones. It was not an easy decision
> and today, 8 years later, there are times where I regret it, and
> others when I think to myself "good riddance". I also had quite a few
> other volunteer roles in chapters, committees and whatnots.
> PPS. I say *we* and take my part of responsibility, as I have been in
> positions where I should have worked harder at changing things.
> On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 7:33 PM, Ori Livneh <o...@wikimedia.org> wrote:
> > On Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 4:47 AM, Dariusz Jemielniak <dar...@alk.edu.pl>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> There is way too much blaming/bashing/sour expectations
> >> working both ways - we almost forget how unique we are, irrespective of
> >> many slips and avoidable failures we make (and WMF  is definitely
> leading
> >> here, too! ;)
> >>
> >
> > No, we're not. My peers in the Technology department work incredibly hard
> > to provide value for readers and editors, and we have very good results
> to
> > show for it. Less than two years ago it took an average of six seconds to
> > save an edit to an article; it is about one second now. (MediaWiki
> > deployments are currently halted over a 200-300ms regression!). Page load
> > times improved by 30-40% in the past year, which earned us plaudits in
> the
> > press and in professional circles. The analytics team figured out how to
> > count unique devices without compromising user anonimity and privacy and
> > rolled out a robust public API for page view data. The research team is
> in
> > the process of collecting feedback from readers and compiling the first
> > comprehensive picture of what brings readers to the projects. The TechOps
> > team made Wikipedia one of the first major internet properties to go
> > HTTPS-only, slashed latency for users in many parts of the world by
> > provisioning a cache pop on the Pacific Coast of the United States, and
> is
> > currently gearing up for a comprehensive test of our failover
> capabilities,
> > which is to happen this Spring.
> >
> > That's just the activity happening immediately around me in the org, and
> > says nothing of engineering accomplishments like the Android app being
> > featured on the Play store in 93 countries and having a higher user
> rating
> > than Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Netflix, Snapchat, Google Photos, etc.
> Or
> > the 56,669 articles that have been created using the Content Translation
> > tool.
> >
> > This is happening in spite of -- not thanks to -- dysfunction at the top.
> > If you don't believe me, all you have to do is wait: an exodus of people
> > from Engineering won't be long now. Our initial astonishment at the
> Board's
> > unwillingness to acknowledge and address this dysfunction is wearing off.
> > The slips and failures are not generalized and diffuse. They are local
> and
> > specific, and their location has been indicated to you repeatedly.
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