On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 3:00 PM, Jimmy Wales <jimmywa...@ymail.com> wrote:
> I can't speak for Lila, nor should I try.  But I know that for people
> new to our world, it's really quite confusing.  You hear a lot of voices
> and if you've been around for long enough, you get to know which ones
> are important and which ones are going to complain no matter what, with
> little substance.  If you listen to those who are going to complain no
> matter what, you can end up fearful and burned by communication.  If you
> don't listen to those who are only going to complain when it matters,
> you'll miss important things.  Knowing the difference is... well...
> ambiguous even in the best of times.
> So to go back to your question - what can be gained from my visit to San
> Francisco... it's only for a few days, but it will be followed by more
> visits in the coming months.  And part of what I want to do is get a
> better understanding of the specific concerns that serious people have,
> so that I can be more helpful to whoever ends up being the interim ED,
> and whoever ends up being our next permanent ED.


A word of advice on language (from me, of all people. Yes, I know;
stopped clocks and all that).

A substantial number of staff at the Foundation have spent the last
few months in utter, miserable hell. Not in an abstract way, not
watching it from the sidelines (I've spent kind of a lot of time
wishing I was a volunteer in the last 6 months :/) but on a 9 to 5
basis, going into a space that has been deeply unpleasant, for the
sake of the mission. Part of this unpleasantness - a small part of the
problem, but a uniquely insidious and damaging part - was a refusal to
give more than lip-service to the concerns of some employees. Indeed,
some employees were actively warned, or prohibited from speaking, due
to how they chose to raise concerns;[0][1] And in the end, increasing
transparency revealed that the concerns of "disruptive" employees or
"chronic complainers" were eminently justified.

When I hear language about "ignoring those who are going to complain
no matter what" and, in an email premised on visiting and spending
time with staff, a distinction between the pool of people you'll be
talking to and the "serious people", with an implication that only the
concerns of the "serious people" will be taken, well, seriously, that
worries me. It feels a lot like what we're coming out of. It feels
like it will be a hindrance to progressing beyond this awful

I appreciate this is almost certainly not what you were trying to
communicate - indeed , I fully expect you'll come back confirming that
it wasn't. But it's best to be aware of the language you chose to use,
within the context of what staff have been going through since 2015. I
of all people know that how you choose to contextualise a situation
with your words has profound implications for how people approach you
and the treatment you receive. It's best to avoid unintentional
ambiguities or implications. When you use language that implies some
people or their concerns are worth ignoring, it's going to resonate
very strongly with the dividing tactics recently found at the
Foundation: where some people found their worries and issues - which
were totally legitimate - dismissed.

(As an aside from all of that, I entirely support Asaf's point about
group meetings, with note-taking. I think it's good to have a record
we can check what Everyone Knows against. Avoids FUD,[2] and at this
critical time, increases transparency.)

[1] No, I was not one of them)
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt

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