On Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 2:46 AM, Anna Stillwell <astillw...@wikimedia.org>

> Hello everybody,
> I want to thank everyone for offering their considered thoughts. I mean
> that genuinely. There are many legitimate views expressed in this thread,
> many by generous, constructive, wise, and delightful members of our
> communities. That's good.
> And I'm struggling with a process problem (not one of substance) that I
> don't know how to solve. I truly don't. And it's kind of killing me.
> We (people who work and volunteer at the WMF) need a way to get feedback.
> We need a way to be accountable and responsive.  We all want that. And I
> actually believe that we are all working in good faith toward that. *And*
> the cumulative impact of the way people at the Foundation get this feedback
> begins to feel like public, collective punishment. And that dynamic, one
> that we all tend to participate in, is driving talented people away from
> the foundation.
> Now some here may not care about that. Some of us think there is no point
> to the foundation anyway, so it's great that talent wants to walk.
> Others may believe that I am saying that "we should all just be kind" and
> that I am terribly polyannish (of course I am, I work in HR) and that I am
> saying that we should not tell each other difficult truths. But that's a
> forced false choice. I'm decidedly not saying that we should not tell one
> another difficult truths. I'm saying that when we add it all up the way we
> tell each other the truth has damaging effects on many people I talk
> to—employees, volunteers from around the world, board members... and it
> hits women and minorities particularly hard. No one single person intends
> for it to be so. Of course they don't. But add it all up, put it out in
> public, everyone chimes in, and overall morale goes down the toilet.
> What do we do? How can we find ways to tell each other difficult truths
> while remembering that we are talking about and to *people *in public and
> in large groups?
> ---
> As a separate issue and a different interpretation on how this report
> likely came about...
> In this report 3/11 fact stories are about issues that have become
> politicized. (Yes, sadly I included some facts about biographies of women
> political). If travel is also a political issue now, I think I’m glad they
> legalized cannabis in this state.
> But imagine it is October. Sure, Brexit has happened and large portions of
> the world are closing, not opening. There is a turn away from a global
> mindset and a turning toward clamping down on freedoms. But a good portion
> of Americans believe that we don't really have anything to worry about.
> The Comms team begins writing a report. If Hillary Clinton had won, it's
> likely that these would not have looked so terribly much like political
> statements. It may have looked like a normal affirmation of acceptable
> values (because, 3/11). But America went another direction and now things
> that could have been considered normalish suddenly look like a shot fired
> round the world.
> I'm not saying that this makes any of the legitimate views expressed here
> invalid. I'm just saying that the context has changed radically. Some of
> that change now makes acceptable values (valuing the scientific method /
> valuing climate science, valuing people of other nations, particularly
> those in distress, valuing biographies about women), look fringe.
> /a

I have a really hard time accepting on good faith that the themes of the
annual report were etched in stone in October, or that refugees, freedom of
travel and immigration and "true facts" were the main thematic elements at
that time with no additional emphasis added since. Even if that were
completely true in all respects, the report was not issued in October, it
was issued in February/March. These themes are political now; there is no
space for claiming otherwise, and Zach's post did not try.

I totally understand that people at the Foundation who are working hard and
doing their best to always do the right thing, to serve the right mission
and to please the right people feel attacked by criticism and complaints
that they have failed. But the Foundation courts controversy when it jumps
into political debates and involves itself in subject matter that is
further and further from its core educational mission, and I hope that your
leadership isn't surprised that criticism and complaints from some quarters
are the result.

I think your insinuation that people objecting to political statements by
the WMF object to the values of the scientific method, climate science,
"valuing people" etc. verges on insulting. We can share those values
without believing that the WMF is the right vehicle or context for
expressing them or that doing so benefits the WMF's core mission as we
understand it.
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