Dear Dr Coleman Congratulations on your appointment. May I offer some suggestions for things you might like to pay attention to now tas you embark on your new job. I suggest that engagement with the volunteer community, especially at a strategic and early stage in your decision making will be vital, as will driving that engagement down to the medium-term goals and activities. Of course by engagement I mean an intelligent and intelligible two-way discussion in which all sides participate in a spirit of freedom, frankness, fairness and constructive dialogue. You may wish to develop a more coherent and consistent set of portals or other specific and well-resourced vehicles for that engagement for the medium term, aligned with the WMF planning and delivery processes, sufficiently well-resourced to make a different to the coherence and effectivness of your operations. I further venture to suggest that you may wish to foster a more rigorous culture of planning and effective delivery to plans than has been universal in the past, coupled with transparancy and accountability in the full view of the community who are their ultimate customers.
There are some specific strategic objectives where that engagement has been absent and where that absence has been hampering effectiveness. It would be a good idea to get a clear concise and measurable set of obectives around the areas of Visual Editor, Wikitext, Parsoid, Flow, Workflow and Discovery. I believe it is also essential that having done so, you publish them to and involve the Community in an effective way in testing the direction and delivery of your plans in those areas. Currently there is not the community buy-in that you need to make these plans effective. You will probably want to specifically understand, clarify and stabilise the proposal around editor and parser unification, which have been mentioned in public, without detals being made available – there is a considerable impact on the workflow of the existing base of volunteer content contributors. I will allow myslf the freedom to give you my views on the current performance of your staff and the progress on some of these projects, which of course you will complement or contradict as you pursue your investigations. Those views are not positive, and will probably not be welcome to you or to your staff. They are nonetheless a genuine view of those projects as seen by a member of the community keen to be a critical and constructive observer -- and they are summarised by the four words *under-ambitious, under-resourced, under-managed and under-performing*. The VE/Parsoid/Flow complex suffers from scope mismatch. As a vehicle for delivering a WYSIWYG editor and discussion board it is over-complex, while VE and Flow are under-ambitious. Can these really be regarded as cutting edge in 2016? If correctly scoped they could and should have been delivered and finalised long ago, if not brought in from pre-existing open source projects. The execution of the VE project has been lacklustre. Such a straightforward product should have been finished long since, and it was clearly inadequately resourced and managed. Indeed, it has been explained to me in patronising terms at least twice that this is the way Agile looks. No, this is the way a badly managed project looks. The current culture appears not to pritorise such issues as timeliness and grip. Finally, Workflow has already failed. In the absence of resources to undertake the required research into the huge complexity of work flows within the projects, whatever is designed will be designed in ignorance, and hence simply can not succeed. Ever. It is already a waste of time. In terms of the wider project, the view of an editing and rendering engine as handling only unidirectional linear text fails to capture even the richness of current projects let alone future knowledge modalities, such as complex text (hieroglyphics, chemistry, mathematics, music), higher-dimensional data (genomic, proteomic, 3D printing), data in time (audio, video), interactive, computational, ... all of which could and should have been scoped out by your innovation work. Please consider how you can develop a vibrant and ambitious innovation initiative, actively led and managed, and in partnership with world-class organisations involved in knowledge management, representation and curation. Having mentioned Agile, let me say that the way it is currently regarded in the WMF seems to me to be fundamentally misconceived. The attitude towards Agile development, as put to me by staff, appears to me to be an excuse for designing without clear goals or user involvement, and delivery of shoddy bug-ridden code into production systems for the hapless users to debug. As I say, this is not Agile. So, what can be done? The answer is simple, but requires a change in culture as much as one of process, and change you will need to drive. You must stop your staff thinking of the community as a burden which you have to support (a position explicitly taken by the previous ED in 2015) or at best a lumpenproletariat to work at your direction (a position explicitly taken by the Board Chair in 2014). Your staff need to engage with users as equals, not de haut en bas. The community is here to work with you if you will let it. As CTO you need an open frank constructive and imaginative dialogue on planning and future direction, termination of currently failed or failing projects, resourcing of those which are jointly agreed on, and drive and grip by leaders who are can provide a strong rigorous and supportive framework that delivers what the community needs. With best wishes "Rogol" _______________________________________________ Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines New messages to: Wikimediaemail@example.com Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe>