The Wikimedia movement is both global and very ideologically diverse, and has many contributors who have strong opinions in one direction or another on certain political issues facing their area of the world. Many of these contributors find it difficult to avoid using Wikimedia forums and institutions to discuss or advocate for issues they feel very strongly about. Recently, political advocacy on Wikimedia forums has risen substantially, especially on this mailing list.
While I sympathize with the difficulties these contributors face in remaining silent, it is important to consider the substantial damage such actions can cause to the movement. We will be much worse off if half of any given country's political spectrum can no longer cooperate in our mission due to compunctions against supporting a community which hosts those who use the community to advocate for positions that some may find unacceptable. The issue of inadvertently alienating participants because of politics has a self-reinforcing element: As we lose contributors representing ideological areas, we have fewer willing to advocate for an environment which allows them to participate without being bombarded by hostile political advocacy. We are precariously close to the point of no return on this, but I am optimistic that the situation is recoverable. As an initial measure, I propose adding the names of a certain country's top political leaders to this list's spam filter. More generally, I think a stricter stance on avoiding political advocacy on Wikimedia projects is warranted. We face a somewhat more difficult situation with the Wikimedia Foundation itself. Partly as a result of being relatively localized within a geographic area and further limited to several professions, I suspect the Foundation tends to be more politically/ideologically homogeneous. With the WMF, we risk much more than just alienating much of the world, we risk our Neutrality. How far we must go to maintain neutrality has been a contentious issue over the years. Existential threats have twice been responded to with major community action, each with large prior discussion. (SOPA included an extensive discussion and a poll with more than 500 respondents.) A previous ED committed to firing everyone but part of the Ops team rather than accept advertising, should lack of funds require it. (Whether to let the WMF die outright rather than accept ads is as of yet unresolved.) More recently, the WMF has taken limited actions and stances on public policy that directly relate to the mission. A careful balance has been established between maintaining essential neutrality and dealing with direct threats to the projects. Three days ago, the WMF put out a statement on the Wikimedia blog explicitly urging a specific country to modify its refugee policy, an area that does not relate to our goals. There was no movement-wide prior discussion, or any discussion at all as far as I can tell. It is the responsibility of the Board at this point to set a policy to place firm restrictions on which areas the WMF can take positions. While we value the important contributions of the staff, they should not be able to override our commitment to neutrality. Our donors, editors, and other volunteers do not contribute so that resources and influence can be spent towards whatever political causes are popular within the WMF. It is the responsibility of the community to ensure that our projects remain apolitical. A neutral point of view is impossible if participating requires a certain political position. It is the responsibility of the mailing list administration and moderators to act against this list's rapid slide into unreadability. Thank you. -- Yair Rand _______________________________________________ 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>