I do not know the situation with the Interactive Team but among other
things, there is a wiki community request for better communication about
projects. I would like to share something positive that already happens,
and which is an opportunity for better communication going forward.

I happen to live in New York City, and one of the developers on this team
happens to live here also.

Yuri Astrakhan

In NYC in the last year we have 1-2 administrative meetups a month for
people to talk about coordinating Wikimedia projects. Yuri has presented at
several of these local meetups to 200+ people total in the past few months.
He is a great speaker who pleases audiences of developers, and audiences of
general Wikipedians, and audiences of people who come to Wikipedia meetups
without ever having edited any wiki before. Among others, he works on the
projects mentioned in this email thread -


I cannot speak to the entire challenge of improving communication among WMF
developers, the regular Wiki community like subscribers to this list,
people who request better on-wiki documentation, and the general public,
but I can say that I have felt that there was some loss when someone like
Yuri is so personable, involved, and talented as a speaker and yet has
limited opportunity to be heard. He is great in person, and when I hear
him, I wish his presentations could be recorded and shared. Here is one
attempt that we in NYC made to record him on Wikipedia Day, 15 January.

If the presentations which people like Yuri already make were recorded and
better circulated, then perhaps some problems related to lack of
communication would be lessened.

I think there is some demand in the wiki community for more access to time
in front of a camera to give presentations. NYC has the privilege of
getting to hear a lot of great speakers in person. Globally at local
meetups everywhere and even at Wikimania events, many talented people put a
lot of labor and insight into the presentations they do. Usually those
presentations do not persist beyond the live performance. When the
presentation is video recorded, it usually has low quality audio and video
that is not of the standard that many people expect from YouTube and other
similar sites, and I think that the challenge of producing good video is
more of a barrier to communication than lack of great presenters with
interesting things to say. Encouraging people to do video presentations
might not be the solution to communication challenges, but when there is
someone who puts the work into making a great in-person presentation, then
I wish it were easier to record and share it. I have not been satisfied
with most of the wiki-related recordings produced, except for the most
professional ones made with professional equipment and editing. I wish that
there could be more video support getting more interviews and updates from
more people at wiki events around the world.

I have been very pleased with the quality of in-person, in NYC
presentations that Yuri has shared about maps and graphs. I think that he
and others like him would use opportunities to be interviewed and better
presented in wiki community media, and I think that the community wants
better in-community media coverage. I feel grateful to have heard Yuri in
my own city and the WMF should be glad to have someone who is a developer
and such a great speaker.


On Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 11:11 AM, Anna Stillwell <astillw...@wikimedia.org>

>  Hey DJ
> These seem like reasonable concerns and I am glad you and others are
> raising them. I hope you continue to do so. We’re all getting better at
> working together and it is clear that the foundation has made mistakes in
> the past, so it is right and good to hold us accountable. I mean that
> sincerely.
> I’ve heard a few preliminary answers offered. As I see it, it seems like
> rather than waiting to get everything perfect (and likely with a bit of
> spin), these people are trying to communicate what they know when they know
> it. I support them for doing so and hope that all of us in the foundation
> continue in this direction. But there is a challenge to this approach also…
> when you share early, you might not yet have all of the answers. Sometimes,
> but not always, mutual disclosure may require some patience while we all
> muddle through and arrive at shared understanding.
> I also hear that the pause on the interactive work is temporary. I’ve heard
> them request time. I am comfortable granting that request, but no one is
> required to agree with me. They’ve also said that the person with the most
> information is on vacation. As someone who has seen employees go through
> considerable stress in the last years, the entire executive team is working
> to establish some cultural standards around supporting vacations. We want
> people here to feel comfortable taking proper vacations and sometimes that
> can even need to happen in a crisis. People often plan their vacations well
> in advance and may not know that something tricky will come up. Just so you
> understand one bias I bring to this conversation.
> Last, but not least, it’s not always as easy as it seems. This
> communication thing is hard, especially when people are involved. Sometimes
> there are laws that constrain what we say. Sometimes we don’t know whether
> we are right yet and we need a further unpacking of the facts. The truth is
> that there can be a whole host of reasons for partial communication that
> aren’t related to competence or the intent to deceive.
> I’m wondering if we can grant their two requests, can we wait for a return
> from vacation and a clarification of some kind will follow?
> Next time I see you, I hope we can have a beer and argue about something
> something.
> Warmly,
> /a
> On Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 2:26 PM, Derk-Jan Hartman <
> d.j.hartman+wmf...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > Hi all,
> > > The Interactive Team in Discovery is in the process of putting its work
> > on
> > > pause. The team's aim during this period is to get its work to a stable
> > and
> > > maintainable state.
> > > Currently, work on new features is on hold. It is not yet known what
> the
> > > timeline is for this transition to a paused state, or whether there
> will
> > be
> > > further deployments of features that have already been completed. I
> will
> > > update this list when there is more information.
> > > Thanks,
> > > Dan
> > > --
> > > Dan Garry
> > > Lead Product Manager, Discovery
> > > Wikimedia Foundation
> >
> >
> > So it seems all work on Maps, Graphs and other interactive features is
> > going to be halted pretty soon. I was directed at this notification
> after a
> > Maps ticket mentioned:
> >
> > With the team winding down
> >
> >
> > To which I asked:
> >
> > > Why is the team winding down ?
> >
> >
> > To which Dan Garry responded:
> >
> > > There were expectations that were set regarding things such as team
> > goals,
> > > working collaboratively with stakeholders, and advance notice to
> > > communities, that were repeatedly not met by the team.
> >
> >
> > And he pointed me to this discovery mailing list announcement, which well
> > isn't really an explanation as much as a statement on the effect that
> > 'winding down' will have.
> >
> > My interpretation of the information up to here was: "we are dissolving
> > this team because it didn't perform and by posting to discovery mailing
> > list we did the minimal effort required to notify people, but lets hope
> > nobody notices what the notification really means"
> > At the same time Dan's words are a rather hefty review on the performance
> > of a team, which I'm not used to seeing from WMF. Refreshing, but
> unusual.
> >
> > This annoys me and I answer:
> >
> > > 1: I'd expect this to be announced on wikimedia-l, if we start a team
> we
> > > always seem more than anxious to do so.
> > > 2: I'd like some details. I thought we had left behind all the "let's
> try
> > > and hide this and hope no one notices it"-shit in 2016.
> > > 3: Thank you team ! You did some great work, and it was more productive
> > > and groundbreaking than many other teams have been able to do in 5
> years.
> >
> >
> > A bit hyperbolic on all fronts, I admit.
> >
> > To which Dan responds with:
> >
> > > I am not the person who made this decision. I do not know all of the
> > > reasons it was made. The person who made the decision is on vacation
> for
> > > the next few weeks. I am trying my best to communicate as much as I can
> > in
> > > her absence, which is why I made a public announcement of all that I
> know
> > > now rather than waiting weeks for my manager to return. I am afraid
> that
> > > some patience is required until Katie gets back from vacation.
> >
> >
> > So now Dan doesn't know enough to be able to discuss this, even though he
> > gave a rather destructive team review earlier.
> >
> > 1: This is exactly the kind of communication that 'the community' keeps
> > complaining about. Reactive instead of proactive. Evasive instead of
> > transparent. Now volunteers need to spend time to figure out what is
> > happening here ? This has cost me over 3 hours today. I would have liked
> to
> > have spent that time differently.
> > 2: It shouldn't matter that Katie is on holidays, I'd assume/hope someone
> > takes over her duties while she is away (Likely Dan himself and/or Wes
> > Moran). Providing information on topics like this shouldn't have to wait
> > until someone returns from a (likely well deserved) holiday.
> > 3: Why do I have to write this email ? It's really not that hard: Make a
> > decision, explain it.
> >
> > DJ
> > _______________________________________________
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> --
> "If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it." - Margaret
> Fuller
> Anna Stillwell
> Director of Culture
> Wikimedia Foundation
> 415.806.1536
> *www.wikimediafoundation.org <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>*
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Lane Rasberry
user:bluerasberry on Wikipedia
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