Well, Erik...I really don't think my personal beliefs have a role in this
discussion, except as they very narrowly apply to the Wikimedia mission,
vision and "values". That's actually one of my issues with this report - it
reads as though it's been written by a bunch of well-paid, talented people
who've been given rein to express personal and cultural beliefs unrelated
to Wikimedia.  And my personal belief in relation to that is that this
annual report has positioned political advocacy far ahead of the mission
and vision of the movement, starting with the selection and ordering of the
"facts".  Let's go through them one by one.

The focus on the value of education is an entirely valid, even necessary,
part of the annual report; it is entirely central to our mission.  The
focus on refugees is out of place, though.  The fact that there is a single
page on one WMF-hosted site that links to a refugee handbook created by
other groups that include some Wikimedians (and the support of WMDE, which
we all know is NOT the same thing as the WMF) isn't justification for
making  "REFUGEES!1!!!11!" a big headline.  It's peripheral to the
educational activities of the WMF, and ignores or downplays many of the
actual WMF-supported initiatives. There's something wrong when the WMF is
so busy touting someone else's project that it forgets to talk about its
own.  But why show a bunch of Uruguayan kids actually using Wikipedia, when
you can make a political statement using a photo of very adorable refugee
children who, generally speaking, aren't accessing any WMF projects?

Am I impressed by Andreas' images?  of course!  Look at the amazing iceberg
images [featured image example at 1] - which illustrate climate change
issues much better than the photo of a starving polar bear.  We don't
actually know why that bear is dying - is he sick or injured, the most
common cause of wild animal deaths? Has he consumed (anthropogenic) harmful
chemicals or materials such as plastic wastes - increasingly common in
arctic animals?  Or did he miss the ever-narrowing migration window to the
prey-rich northern arctic ice fields (due to climate change)?  We can't be
sure.  But we can be a lot more sure that the iceberg images are
illustrating something that can be linked more directly to climate change.
Of course, nobody is getting a lump in their throat by looking at icebergs;
it's not any where near as good an emotional button-presser that a dying
animal is.   There's also the trick of referring to "the hottest year on
record" instead of giving the *whole* truth, which is it is the hottest
year since these types of records started being kept beginning just a few
hundred years ago - and it's that long only if you count all types of
record keeping.  Yes, it's much more impressive to imply that we're talking
about all of history rather than just the last few centuries.  A lot of
people reading this list have been creating articles for years; we know
those tricks too. And none of this explains why climate change is even a
factor in the Wikimedia Foundation Annual Report.  It would be worth
including if the WMF was a major contributor to anthropogenic climate
change (I am quite sure it isn't!), or was taking major, active steps to
reduce its carbon footprint and talked about that.  But that's not what's
in the report.

A brief word about scientific consensus.  In my lifetime, we have seen
plate tectonics go from being considered complete nonsense (the scientific
consensus!) to being routinely taught in schools. We have seen the
scientific consensus that stomach ulcers were caused by stress and dietary
habits deprecated by the evidence that most gastrointestinal ulcers are
caused by Helicobacter pylori; the theory that micro-organisms could cause
stomach ulcers was long derided as being promoted only by those paid by the
pharmaceutical industry.  (Oops!)  There was a mercifully short-lived
consensus that AIDS was caused by the lifestyle habits of gay men. And even
as I write, the long-held scientific consensus that has led to the
recommended dietary intake in western countries is coming into serious
question, at least in part because of the discovery that the baseline
research was funded by an industry that greatly benefited from these
guidelines - although it has taken researchers years to make headway
against a theory so ingrained. I have no doubt that the scientific
consensus that cigarette smoking is directly linked to lung cancer is going
to hold, and I am certain that the scientific consensus that asbestosis is
caused by inhaling asbestos fibers will outlive me by many generations.
But, just like on Wikipedia, consensus can, and does, change - and it
should be routinely re-examined and reconsidered. (Incidentally, the
climate change topic on English Wikipedia has historically been one of the
most contentious, resulting in several Arbcom cases, removal of advanced
privileges, blocks, bans, sockpuppetry and trolling, mass violations of the
Biography of Living Persons policy, and the largest number of rangeblocks
on any Wikimedia project before 2010 - at one point about a quarter of all
California IPs were blocked from account creation. It's not a good example
of how to deal with a contentious subject.)

I like that a "fact" was included about the rate of edits on Wikipedia,
although it would be helpful to provide a bit more context to explain why
the Paris attack was the article highlighted. My gut instinct is that it
was the current event that had the most edits on the largest number of
Wikimedia projects - in which case it was a great choice to feature, and
these would be really interesting facts to have included.  (If another
article met that definition, I'd hope it would have been the one
featured.)  I'm a lot less comfortable with the "fake news" part of this
particular "fact" - it lists media that have reported "major" stories that
turned out to be flat-out wrong in just the last two months, which doesn't
support the case being made.  It would probably be more useful to point out
the methods by which editors keep fake news out of our projects rather than
giving the appearance of lauding specific media organizations.  (And yes,
the selection of the media organizations identified is politicized, too.
Why the Washington Post (perceived to be "liberal") instead of the more
editorially conservative Wall Street Journal ?)

The "Fact" about Indic languages is really good.  My first thought was that
it might have been an opportunity to talk about how new Wikipedias come to
be, but on reflection that would have been a distraction. Perhaps editors
from the Indian subcontinent might find some level of politicization, but
it's not visible to me with my limited cultural knowledge.

Similarly, the "fact" about biographies of women is good, too.  I think
there's perhaps an over-emphasis on the low percentage - a pretty
significant percentage of biographical articles are of men who became
notable at a time when women were much more socially  restrained (if not
physically prevented)  from making the same mark as men - but I believe
that the focus on our outstanding contributors in this area, and their
excellent work, makes this a really important addition to the report.
There is a political element to this issue, but its exploration is entirely
tied to the content, the activities of the editing community, and the
seeking out and sharing of knowledge - all within scope.

I am rather ashamed that the "fact" about photos starts off with a
grammatical error.  (It's the NUMBER of photos, not the AMOUNT of photos.)
Otherwise this is an on-topic section worthy of highlighting in the Annual
report. Missing a lot of information though - such as how many photos come
from mobile phones and similar platforms, which are the focus of the first
paragraph. Given that focus, including a smartphone photo of something more
historic, or at least an image that was actually used in an article, might
have been a better choice.

The languages "Fact" is well written and informative, and highlights some
really important means of knowledge sharing, enabled by the WMF.  Entirely
on-topic and mission-related.

I can't see any reason at all why the "Travel" fact was included. It does
not include, for example, a link to Wikivoyage, the logical link to include
when talking about travel. There's no reasonable explanation why there's a
link to Wikimania 2016, which isn't even vaguely referred to in the text.
But we do have a very big political statement with the image - one that was
actually quite off-topic; in fact, the photo shows a bunch of people
actively seeking to disrupt travel, which is the opposite of the written
message. We have thousands of photos on Commons that could have illustrated
this theme better, if we had to include it at all.  Even a shot of a bunch
of people hiking with backpacks would have been more appropriate.

The harassment fact ("OK")...very important message. I think the WMF could
have done much better in labeling this fact; this title is almost
deceptive, because it doesn't actually talk about "OK" or common words -
the subject isn't what the title implies. This kind of deception is part of
the "fake news" motif, and it's unfortunate to use when just a few facts
before the same report is decrying fake facts and fake news. (Incidentally,
the claim that OK is the most widely understood word, globally, is
referenced in English Wikipedia to a personal opinion piece. Just as well
there's no link to the article.)

The new internet users fact is really good, highlighting important work by
the WMF, filled with facts, and sharing the longer-range vision with
readers.  But this is one area where the WMF could have done some political
advocacy that was entirely within scope; shame to have missed this
opportunity.


So....I disagree with what Anna said (that "3/11 fact stories are about
issues that have become politicized"). I count 6/11 facts that are
politicized (refugees, climate change, the selection of media outlets on
the "rate of edits" fact, biographies of women, travel, and the "OK" fact
with the misleading fake-news style title that was actually about
harassment), only one of which logically links the politicization
effectively with both the topic of the fact (biographies of women) and the
WMF mission.  And starting off with two of the three most politicized facts
skews the entire presentation.  The strain to include this political
advocacy cluttered the useful and informative discussion and links to WMF
activities.  It took the focus away from the Wikimedia Foundation and its
projects, omitting obvious connections.   If the WMF wanted to be more
political in its annual report, there were opportunities that were actually
mission-focused. To be honest, given the level of politicization of other
peripheral topics, the absence of an effort to really increase focus on the
lack of online accessibility - something that dovetails strongly with our
mission - is a glaring omission. On this point, I agree with John
Vandenberg. And I'm sorry, Zack, but given the fact that so many of these
issues are directly linked to real-world activities that have happened in
just the last few weeks, I'm not buying that this was more or less laid out
back in late 2016.

Risker/Anne



[1] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_look_inside_an_
iceberg_(2),_Liefdefjord,_Svalbard.jpg.



On 2 March 2017 at 19:12, Erik Moeller <eloque...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 12:26 PM, Stuart Prior
> <stuart.pr...@wikimedia.org.uk> wrote:
>
> > As an example, anthropogenic climate change is a politically sensitive
> > issue, but how can a consensus-driven movement not take into account that
> > 97% of climate scientists acknowledge its existence
> > ?
> > [1] <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change>
> > Accepting a scientific consensus just isn’t a political position.
>
> It isn't, but I think it's still worth thinking about context and
> presentation. There are organizations whose job it is to directly
> communicate facts, both journalistic orgs like ProPublica and
> fact-checkers like Snopes/Politifact. In contrast, WMF's job is to
> enable many communities to collect and develop educational content.
>
> If the scientific consensus on climate change suddenly starts to
> shift, we expect our projects to reflect that, and we expect that the
> organization doesn't get involved in those community processes to
> promote a specific outcome. The more WMF directly communicates facts
> about the world (especially politicized ones), rather than
> communicating _about_ facts, the more people (editors and readers
> alike) may question whether the organization is appropriately
> conservative about its own role.
>
> I haven't done an extensive survey, but I suspect all the major
> Wikipedia languages largely agree in their presentation on climate
> change. If so, that is itself a notable fact, given the amount of
> politicization of the topic. Many readers/donors may be curious how
> such agreement comes about in the absence of top-down editorial
> control. Speaking about the remarkable process by which Wikipedia
> tackles contentious topics may be a less potentially divisive way for
> WMF to speak about what's happening in the real world.
>
> I do think stories like the refugee phrasebook and Andreas' arctic
> photography are amazing and worth telling. I'm curious whether folks
> like Risker, George, Pine, Chris, and others who've expressed concern
> about the report agree with that. If so, how would you tell those
> stories in the context of, e.g., an Annual Report?
>
> Erik
>
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