On Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 11:17 PM, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Something that I would like to understand is why so much WMF information is
> cloaked under NDAs. It seems to me that this is philosophically at odds
> with the values of the community, makes for poor governance, and provides
> cover for opportunities for mischief. I hope that recent events will prompt
> WMF to rethink its habits and assumptions in the realms of transparency,
> openness, and values alignment.
> Pine

While on a base level I agree with you I feel its important to add some
caveats to that. I think a good portion of this is actually everyone
needing a better understanding about what 'is' expected to be private (and
preferably why) from Management on down. I think a lot of what people are
calling "under the NDA" may not be :).

I also think it's important to consider the categories of private
data/information too, however, because i fear we (both the staff and the
community) use "under NDA" as a very broad and note always accurate
description. The way I see it there is:

   1. Private WMF Data or information that is most definetly covered by the
   NDA: examples include most donor data, attorney-client privileged
   information, information that is legally protected, information we protect
   via official public policy etc.
   2. Information and notes that really don't need to be private: This is
   the stuff we're talking about releasing.
   3. Inter personal/team discussions and similar.

[sorry, this turned out tldr, apologies. TLDR: Careful demanding sharing of
internal team discussions]

3. I actually think is really important because it is not what we think of
when we think of private information (and, honestly, probably isn't under
the NDA usually) but can be very important to be kept privately even if the
end result of the discussion should be made public etc.. This is especially
true to allow open conversations between staff members. Not only do they
need to feel comfortable bringing up crazy idea A (which some are now and
could probably be done more with culture change, possible on both the
community and WMF sides) but they need to feel comfortable saying that
crazy idea A is crazy and bad for reasons X,Y and Z.

Lodewijk made my main point well in the thread about Lawrence Lessig:
People get very uncomfortable talking about others in public. If Staff
member B is breaking apart Staff member A's proposal there is a good chance
at least one of them is going to be feeling very uncomfortable about it.
That discomfort often gets much bigger the more people who see what's
happening either because they feel more shame (to pick just one of the
emotions you can feel in that type of situation) or because they feel like
they're doing more shaming then they want to do. That expanded discomfort
can make them significantly less likely to do any number of things we don't
want: get more defensive/less willing to change, be less wiling to propose
those bold ideas that could be really great (or not), be less willing to
speak out against the bad ideas etc.

The other reason is another one that I imagine we're all familiar with on
wiki: The more people who pile on in one direction (even if it's only 2-3
frequently) (and in my experience the more public that discussion) the less
likely people are going to be to oppose what the direction those initial
commentators/voters/blah went. Suddenly people feel like they need to
defend their opinion much more then they would otherwise or that they could
be faced with angry opposition. These concerns are certainly possible on
internal teams and mailing lists (the WMF Staff list is somewhat famous for
people being afraid to pile on after a lot of people went the other way and
I know some, including me, are trying to change that)  but they become more
and more of a concern the wider that audience becomes and publishing those
discussions is a VERY wide audience.

I think that publishing the Discovery Team meeting with lila recently was a
right and proper move but I also think it was likely an exception to the
rule. Seeing people disagree so strongly and publicly with one of their
regular colleagues could very well scare away those colleagues and we don't
want that.

James Alexander
Trust & Safety
Wikimedia Foundation
(415) 839-6885 x6716 @jamesofur
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