Dear friends,

As wonderful as it is to see this discussion unfold, showing how many of us
care deeply about humanism and the movement's impact in the material world,
I'd like to observe that it also demonstrates how underdeveloped our
movement-wide political processes are.  To my understanding, our tools
consist of: a small group interested in participating in this mailing list,
a small group who attends to metawiki, and an infrequent meeting of

It seems that all of these venues are frustrated by a lack of real power,
and Wikimedia-l in particular has the character of a pirate radio station
or underground newspaper rather than a place where we can build consensus.
There's certainly some value in the oppositional and antiestablishment
perspective that comes out of this arrangement, but perhaps we're missing
out on the benefits that would come from a fully-developed democracy?

One alternative approach would be that Wikimedians resurrect something like
a "membership organization" in which you collectively own the WMF and
directly elect the entire Board.  Then you may find your questions
answered, and have a path to building lasting consensus around
movement-wide issues.


On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 12:33 AM, Christophe Henner <>

> Hey,
> I love that thread. Touchy topîc and yet an awesome discussion, Thank you
> so much :D
> A few month ago, little time after my election, I asked that question on
> Facebook and provided my own answer. And yes, I do believe that saying
> neutral knowledge should be freely accessible by everyone on the planet is
> kind of a really really really really strong political statement.
> I also think that "politic" discussion is hard to have as the word politics
> can bare many different meaning. One of them is derived on how we use it
> regarding national politics. We use politics as a word to include all
> politics (economic, social, education, etc.). And political party, or a
> political organization, will tend to adress all of them (or some).
> That is not what we are talking about actually. To me, I mean politic as,
> Asaf will love that, in latin (pertaining to public life). We are a
> political organization, we stand for strong values, but we are not
> political in the sense we're aligned with a specific party or candidate.
> And I don't know about the US, but one thing I love with french wikimedian
> is knowing some of them are so fare away from me on the political scale and
> yet share values (if I had time I would love to explain how I believe this
> is an exemple of why our political systems are broken ^^).
> So in the end, to me, the question is where do we draw the line when it
> comes to standing up for our values and, related questions, what are those
> values we should stand up for?
> But again, as a movement, we have the potential to have a huge impact on
> the world. That is not neutral, that is a force of change and change always
> is poltical.
> Christophe HENNER
> Chair of the board of trustees
> +33650664739
> twitter *@schiste*        skype *christophe_henner*
> On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 12:23 AM, Asaf Bartov <>
> wrote:
> > On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 2:55 PM James Salsman <> wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > The question I have been trying to ask, going back years now in fact,
> is
> > > whether "empower" refers to the political power to secure and retain
> > > the freedoms necessary and sufficent to contribute to the mission, or
> > > some other kind of power.
> > >
> >
> > Well, it's your lucky day: you're finally getting an answer!
> >
> > WMF's de-facto interpretation of "empower" in the [[m:Mission]] does
> *not*
> > include "political power to secure and retain the freedoms necessary and
> > sufficient to contribute to the mission".
> >
> > We do not directly solve people's lacking infrastructure (except
> indirectly
> > via partnerships like Wikipedia Zero), we do not provide computers to
> > billions of people who don't have them, we do not teach literacy to the
> > illiterate, we do not feed the poor so that they may contribute, and we
> do
> > not declare war on North Korea to free its poor people from the awful
> > tyranny they suffer under, to enable them to contribute.  The list goes
> on.
> >
> >
> > The concrete ways WMF worked to "empower" have been providing and
> > maintaining the main contribution platforms (the wikis), auxiliary
> > platforms (Tool Labs, Quarry, PAWS, Wikidata Query, etc.), funding for
> > *Wikimedia-related* activities via grants, programmatic resources and
> > mentorship, funding and support for international gatherings of the
> active
> > community, and a few other things.
> >
> > Your aspirational expansive interpretation (which includes paying editors
> > to enable them to contribute, if memory serves) of "empower" has never
> been
> > close to what WMF, under its various leaderships, ever considered
> > appropriate.
> >
> > Now that your years-long query has an answer, perhaps you can stop
> asking.
> >
> >    A.
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> >
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