For what it's worth, In early October 2015, the Discovery department was
very clearly told by Wes (who I believe was not yet a c-level) that the
mysterious term "Knowledge Engine" was being deprecated, and that the
Discovery team was not working on any huge product-like initiative. The
team was to remain focused on the work they were already doing: improving
and enhancing search within and across wikimedia projects, Wikidata Query
Service, maps, portal improvements, etc.

It sounds like there were ongoing communication disconnects between
board<->execs and/or execs<->managers. The good news is that regardless of
what was happening at higher levels, the team was never pulled into any
work on moon shots.

For context, I was the agile coach for the search team in April 2015, and
then became the agile coach for the Discovery department when it was
created as part of the re-org shortly after that.

Kevin Smith
Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation

On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 6:04 AM, James Heilman <> wrote:

> The project formally know as the Knowledge Engine was frequently referred
> to as a "moon shot" in November 2015 by a number of my fellow board
> members. This terminology I believe accurately highlighted the size,
> expense, and risk that this proposal was.
> How we have described the KE to our movement has been significantly
> different. All efforts appear to be to minimize what was proposed. And
> efforts to explain it at all have only occurred after greater community
> understanding became inevitable.
> I find it disappointing to see the ED and some board members try to deny
> and downplay the plans that previously existed. While the ED has recently
> apologized for the lack of transparency, this was brought to her attention
> many times before, and thus I am not convinced her apology will result in a
> change in her approach.
> --
> James Heilman
> MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian
> The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
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