​Thanks :) ​

Mardetanha

On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 6:58 PM, James Hare <jamesmh...@gmail.com> wrote:

> "Strategy" is too broad because it includes areas where there is broad
> consensus (WMF doesn't do editorial policy), areas where there is a working
> consensus (WMF prefers grantmaking and collecting best practices over
> direct outreach work), and areas highly fraught with conflict (arguments
> over the user experience). Any attempt at a true strategy will require us
> to address these conflicts. The best thing the WMF can do is deciding what
> it will and will not do and then call on others to fill in the gaps.
>
>
> > On Feb 23, 2016, at 10:24 AM, Mardetanha <mardetanha.w...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > it would be great if someone could give us tl;dr version of this mail
> >
> > Mardetanha
> >
> >> On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 5:21 PM, James Hare <jamesmh...@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >>
> >> Hello everyone,
> >>
> >> Of the many issues, real or perceived, currently under discussion, one
> of
> >> them is the matter of strategy: of the Wikimedia Foundation and of the
> >> movement in general. I’ve been editing Wikipedia since November of 2004
> and
> >> have noticed that the general points of tension have revolved around who
> >> has authority or responsibility to do what. I will explain what I mean
> by
> >> that.
> >>
> >> There is no one “strategy.” Or rather, strategy has different components
> >> to it, and it is important to note and understand these different
> >> components because they have their own histories and associated
> arguments.
> >> There is no possible way I can capture every nuance of this, but when we
> >> say “strategy” we should think of at least three things: content
> strategy,
> >> program strategy, and product strategy.
> >>
> >> Content has, almost exclusively, been a prerogative of the communities
> of
> >> the various Wikimedia projects, and not that of the Foundation. [1]
> English
> >> Wikipedia, for example, argues bitterly over what is notable, what is
> not
> >> notable, and what should and shouldn’t be deleted on a given day, but
> the
> >> Wikimedia Foundation is not involved in that. While the Wikimedia
> >> Foundation does fund content creation initiatives from time to time, it
> >> does not decide, for instance, which monuments are worthy of Wiki Loves
> >> Monuments, or which artists should be the focus of Art+Feminism. I’m not
> >> pointing this out because it’s remotely interesting, but because it’s so
> >> widely agreed upon that the WMF has no editorial authority that we don’t
> >> even need to talk about it.
> >>
> >> There are other areas that we do need to talk about; not necessarily to
> >> devise a master plan, or to draw lines in the sand, but to at least
> >> understand who thinks what and where our opinions diverge. This brings
> me
> >> to my second point: programs. I am referring to initiatives to get more
> >> people involved in the Wikimedia projects, to build bridges with other
> >> organizations, to make Wikimedia as much a part of the offline world as
> the
> >> online world. The Wikimedia Foundation did some of the original
> programs in
> >> the late 2000s, with mixed success. Chapters came along and also came up
> >> with programs; GLAM, for instance, was developed outside of the
> Wikimedia
> >> Foundation. Over time, the Foundation decided that it was not so
> interested
> >> in running programs directly as much as they were interested in funding
> >> others to carry them out and serving as a sort of central hub for best
> >> practices. As far as I can tell, as someone who has served on the board
> of
> >> a Wikimedia chapter for almost five years, there seems to be a general
> >> consensus that this is how programs are done. This operating consensus
> was
> >> arrived at through a combination of the Wikimedia Foundation’s
> “narrowing
> >> focus” and by the enthusiasm of chapters, groups, and mission-aligned
> >> organizations to carry on outreach work.
> >>
> >> Then there is the product strategy, which is the most contentious of
> them
> >> all. By “product” I am referring to the subset of technology that
> readers
> >> and editors interact with on a day-to-day basis. The sacred workflow.
> (Much
> >> of the arguments about technology are out of my depth so I won’t be
> >> commenting on them; they also include rather arcane infrastructural
> stuff
> >> that I don’t think most Wikimedia users or contributors care about.)
> All of
> >> our arguments, from the usability initiative to the present day, have
> >> focused on: who is in charge of the user experience? I have heard
> different
> >> things; one perspective holds that “the community” (usually not further
> >> specified) gets to make the final decision, while I have also heard from
> >> some that technological matters are purely the prerogative of the
> Wikimedia
> >> Foundation. [2] I am not sure what the present-day company line is but I
> >> suspect it’s somewhere in the middle.
> >>
> >> I do not know what the “true” answer is, either. There is a lot to be
> said
> >> for treating the user experience as products to be professionally
> managed:
> >> there has been tremendous study in the area of how to design user
> >> experiences, and Wikipedia is notorious for being difficult to edit as a
> >> newcomer. With this in mind, the Wikimedia Foundation did the best it
> >> could, with limited resources, and despite some successes managed to
> create
> >> some ham-fisted products that did not address the needs of the users
> and—at
> >> worst—threatened disruption. This has gotten better in time; the visual
> >> editor, for example, has made tremendous progress on this front. But not
> >> every issue is settled. What about the products that need substantially
> >> more improvement before they can be used at large? What about things
> that
> >> we should be working on, but aren’t, or are doing so at a glacial pace
> >> because we are being stretched too thin? And now that WMF grantees can
> >> develop code for deployment in production (such as MediaWiki
> extensions),
> >> what is the relationship between these projects and the overall product
> >> strategy of the Wikimedia Foundation? On the Reading half of the
> equation,
> >> who gets to decide how content is presented, and how are these decisions
> >> made?
> >>
> >> I am sure we each as individuals have answers to these questions, but we
> >> do not have a common understanding, whatsoever, the same way we
> generally
> >> understand that the Wikimedia Foundation does not do editorial policy,
> or
> >> that the Wikimedia Foundation generally avoids doing on-the-ground
> program
> >> work the same way chapters do. We do not even agree on how much the
> >> Wikimedia Foundation should focus on the software product aspect as
> opposed
> >> to other aspects.
> >>
> >> Nor do I think we will arrive at this conclusion through developing a
> >> grand strategy and an overall movement framework. We’re big and
> >> decentralized, and we need to accommodate opportunities where they
> exist.
> >> Exhaustive planning documents do not lend themselves to that. And it is
> >> unlikely we can all come to a happy solution that accommodates everyone
> and
> >> everything.
> >>
> >> This is why it is up to the Wikimedia Foundation to define its own role
> >> within the movement. My hope is that they do so by actively seeking out
> the
> >> needs of the entire movement, since they are in the unique position
> where
> >> they can support a large share of the movement. But it will need to
> define
> >> its role in the development of products—whether they be editing
> products,
> >> or products that present Wikimedia content. Whether it will seek to
> control
> >> the presentation of content or merely advise on the community’s own
> >> decisions. The most feasible way forward I see is that the Wikimedia
> >> Foundation decides what it is best suited to do, set its own boundaries,
> >> and call on the rest of the movement to fill in the gaps. This will help
> >> the Wikimedia Foundation focus its work: by explicitly saying “no” to
> some
> >> things and determining they are not within their remit, it opens the
> doors
> >> (through grant funding or some other mechanism) for other people or
> groups
> >> to do things that they are best suited to do. With programs being
> handled
> >> by non-WMF entities and some software development (including my own
> work at
> >> WikiProject X) being handled outside of the Foundation, this is
> possible.
> >>
> >> The Wikimedia movement is a broad movement, and it would not be
> practical
> >> to come up with a movement-wide strategy. However, the Wikimedia
> Foundation
> >> specifically should try to define its own role with respect to software
> and
> >> call on the rest of the movement to fill in the gaps based on its needs.
> >>
> >>
> >> Respectfully,
> >> James Hare
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> [1] I’m not counting their rare interventions—for legal purposes—as
> >> editorial control.
> >>
> >> [2] I honestly do not remember who said it or when. My point is not that
> >> someone out there has (or had) a heretical (or righteous) opinion, but
> that
> >> people have very divergent opinions on this.
> >> _______________________________________________
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