Anna, you are talking about a decade old problems, which are not yet addressed.

There are two exceptions: (1) Board largely stopped making shame
transfer statements; and (2) For the last couple of years, every
interaction with the staff has given impression to me that I deal with
competent professionals.

Although it wouldn't be that significant advancement for an average
organization, having in mind the complexity of the Wikimedia movement,
I have to say that I am in a way content. It was relaxing to me to
realize that, for example, the latest visit do Ghana addressed
everything basically needed.

However, those old problems are still here. Numerous tries to solve
them properly have been mostly implicitly undermined. Sometimes
because of lack of support, sometimes because of making more or less
visible barriers. And it's not about community which blocks it, but
about those in power.

It is extremely important to understand that position of power brings
more responsibility. The position of power doesn't need to be
"absolute" (i.e. Board members; yes, I know it's not absolute, that's
why I used quotes); in many cases, it's very relative and it's
sometimes hard to distinguish (who has more power on English
Wikipedia: a WMF employee or an ArbCom member). However, in the most
of the cases, it's very visible: an ordinary Wikipedia editor, not
willing to be organized in a chapter or a user group, has power to
vote few times per year and power to *edit*. While the first power is
very relative, only real power which that editor has is to edit.

That leads to sticking with the only real power and alienation from
all other segments of the Wikimedia movement. An average active editor
of Wikimedia projects most likely have very negative opinion towards
anyone else than the fellow editors.

Making equation between Board, staff and community is false because
it's about very different levels of responsibility. Urging to the
community to do something won't be treated serious as long as they
have to abandon their rights (even it's about abandoning practically
non-existent rights) as long as all of their power -- to elect the
guardians of their community -- is mostly about broken promises. And
the system has been made in the way that the promises will be always

The story of WMF (both, Board and staff) reminds me a lot of the story
of US Democratic Party and the centrist parties all over the Europe:
forcing business as usual as long as it is possible, no matter if it's
been done by ignoring the voices, searching for pseudoscientific
conclusions based on techniques that work when you want to sell
marketing services, but not so much when you want to address the
concerns of the population you lead.

Fortunately, we are not in the position that "everything has been
lost" and we could change it. But that would be possible just if there
is political will inside of the WMF to do that.

Last year this time we've witnessed the revolution, the power of staff
to replace ED. Around the end of the event, I was assured that the
staff will be the stakeholder that would lead the change. If there
were changes during the last year, they are invisible.

Long time ago -- at the beginning of this century -- we've invented
large scale constructive participatory democracy. Instead of using it,
instead of nurturing it, developing it, those in power neglected it at
the best, and actively obstructed it at the worst.

There are methods and models how to do that. I have my own
preferences, but I -- and the majority of editors, I am sure -- would
be quite fine with anything which works. And, no, limiting editors to
the decision of which image would be the first on the article about
toilet paper orientation is not one of the viable models. No, limiting
them to make decisions about the rules for deciding which image would
be the first in any article is neither a viable model.

On Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 8:50 PM, Anna Stillwell
<> wrote:
> Hello,
> I'd like to talk beyond this particular instance or these particular
> protagonists.
> I'd like to talk about culture. We've created a culture that is hard on
> people, somewhat punishing of them. We engage in a good deal of public
> shaming.
> We need to find a way to turn our culture toward more generative and
> constructive forms of public discourse. If we fail, smart, good, healthy
> Wikimedians will go away and not add their knowledge to our projects.
> It’s not even about whose at fault anymore, because we all are. When I talk
> to people across the movement, they're all pretty clear that someone other
> than themselves is the responsible party:
>    - “It’s the dysfunctional board.”
>    - “No, no. it’s the “toxic communities”.
>    - “Of course not, its the obtuse staff”.
> First, this is not healthy and it is not true. We have smart, brilliant,
> competent people throughout our movement. I’ve met brilliant, generative,
> empathic community members who have performed a deep service by adding
> their knowledge. I’ve met brilliant staff members that are advancing ideas
> that can have tremendously positive impacts on our projects. I’ve met
> brilliant board members who are thinking about the future in a very serious
> way.
> Second, it does us no good to shift the blame around and work against each
> other. We have to find ways to support each other in solving problems
> because we have a lot of important problems to solve together.
> We face so many challenges, not least of which is a world that seems to
> think that closed societies and ignorance and divisions are better than
> open societies, coursing with knowledge and constructive unity. Of the many
> challenges we face together: being collectively diminishing of one another
> and divisive should not be one of them.
> Sorry, I just can’t keep quiet <> 
> on
> this any more.
> /a
> On Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 10:39 AM, James Salsman <> wrote:
>> Does anyone doubt that the English Wikipedia's longstanding,
>> pervasive, counter-factual, systemic bias towards supply side
>> trickle-down austerity libertarian objectivist economics due at least
>> in part to early influence of editors attracted to Jimmy Wales' former
>> public positions isn't at least partially responsible for the
>> situation Romaine describes below?
>> Would it be better to move the Foundation out of the U.S., fix the
>> bias, or both?
>> Sincerely,
>> Jim Salsman
>> ---- forwarded message ----
>> Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2017 04:33:53 +0100
>> From: Romaine Wiki <>
>> To: Wikimedia <>
>> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Concerns in general
>> Today I was reading in the (international) news about websites with
>> knowledge on the topic of climate change disappear from the internet as
>> result of the Trump administration. The second thing I read is that before
>> something can be published about this topic, the government needs to
>> approve this.
>> Do you realise what the right word for this is? censorship.
>> Even if it is only partially.
>> Luckily there are many scientists working on getting all the data abroad,
>> out of the US to ensure the research data is saved, including on servers in
>> the Netherlands where Trump (hopefully) has no reach.
>> In the past week I was reading about the Internet Archive organisation, who
>> is making a back up in Canada because of the Trump administration. I did
>> not understood this, you may call me naive, but now I do understand,
>> apparently they have some visionary people at the Internet Archive.
>> I miss a good answer to this situation from the Wikimedia Foundation.
>> Trump is now promoting harassment and disrespect, already for some time,
>> What signal is given to the rest of the world if an America based
>> organisation is spreading the thought of a harassment free Wikipedia and
>> the free word, while the president of the US is promoting harassment,
>> disrespect and censorship on a massive scale.
>> This is just the first week of this president!
>> I am 100% sure everyone in the Wikimedia movement is willing to make sure
>> Wikimedia faces no damage whatsoever, including in WMF, but to me this
>> still starts to get concerning.
>> If we as Wikimedia movement think that free knowledge, free speech, freedom
>> of information, etc are important, I would think that the location where
>> the organisation is based is that country where liberty is the largest, I
>> do not know where this is but it is definitely not the US.
>> To my impression WMF is stuck in the US, so I do not believe they would
>> actually move when the danger grows.
>> But I think it is possible to make sure risks are spread over the world.
>> Certainly as we are an international movement that intends to cover the
>> knowledge of the whole humanoid civilisation.
>> To come to a conclusion, I think WMF and the Wikimedia movement should
>> think about a back-up plan if it actually goes wrong.
>> If you do not agree with me: that is perfectly fine, that's your right and
>> should be protected.
>> Thank you.
>> Romaine
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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
> * <>*
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