On 19 Feb 2016 23:49, "Denny Vrandecic" wrote
> # The alternative is to allow every member of the Board to engage
> individually as they like. This will mean that there are much more
> individual conversations going on, things can be better explained. But
> also means that the individual Trustee's statement must not be taken as
> golden representations of the Board's thinking. If ten Board members
> with the community (which won't happen anyway, but even if it's five), do
> expect five different voices and opinions, and don't expect that
> said will actually become a resolution (which, in the end, is the only way
> the Board as a Board can communicate anyway). This obviously can lead to
> plenty of "that Trustee said that" or "no, I talked with Trustee X, and
> said that this change is a bad idea", etc. - never mind possible legal
> implications.

Hi Denny (and the rest of the Board),

From my experience of Wikimedia movement conversations  (and other
conversations from similar organisations) it is usually better to have
Board members contributing to debates with their own voices. It's really
reassuring to know that someone is saying something. Silence, by contrast,
results in a lot of doubts. Thinking back to the Haifa letter and the
discussion around fundraising and so on in 2011-2 - it was really helpful
in that discussion when WMF board members started sharing their
(conflicting) views rather than communicating through agreed statements  (
which took hours to write and then ended up being really unclear anyway ).
It meant that the Board started to look like a bunch of people trying to do
the best job given conflicting perspectives, and stopped looking like an
uncontrollable monolith.

Of course it doesn't help that there are some people on this list who will
leap at every statement to find fault with it - but usually those people
are fed more by silence than by engagement.

And of course it is not always possible to talk publically about
differences of approach or upcoming issues - particularly where staff are
concerned - but it is best to talk as far as you can, in my view.


> Since I have been on the Board there was never even really a discussion
> which of these options we should take. And I am not surprised by it -
> considering how creative and dissective some community members can be with
> the statements from Board members. Seriously, I am not feeling comfortable
> with sharing any of my thoughts here, and even this mail I hope I will
> press send before I just delete it.
> This mail, please, do not read it as an excuse for the Board. I am not
> trying to downplay the current situation nor to take responsibility away
> from the Board. I am not trying to blame anyone at all, but merely trying
> to explain why the heck we act so fucking dumb sometimes.
> Again, thanks,
> Denny
> On Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 8:17 AM, Delphine Ménard <notafi...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > 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
> > >> 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
> > > to provide value for readers and editors, and we have very good
> > 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
> > > 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
> > > count unique devices without compromising user anonimity and privacy
> > > rolled out a robust public API for page view data. The research team
> > in
> > > the process of collecting feedback from readers and compiling the
> > > comprehensive picture of what brings readers to the projects. The
> > > 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,
> > 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,
> > > 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,
> > Or
> > > the 56,669 articles that have been created using the Content
> > > tool.
> > >
> > > This is happening in spite of -- not thanks to -- dysfunction at the
> > > If you don't believe me, all you have to do is wait: an exodus of
> > > from Engineering won't be long now. Our initial astonishment at the
> > Board's
> > > unwillingness to acknowledge and address this dysfunction is wearing
> > > 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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> >
> >
> > --
> > @notafish
> >
> > NB. This gmail address is used for mailing lists. Personal emails will
> > lost.
> > Intercultural musings: Ceci n'est pas une endive -
> > http://blog.notanendive.org
> > Photos with simple eyes: notaphoto - http://photo.notafish.org
> >
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