This has become an interesting and important conversation. First, many
thanks to everyone as they bring their intellect, experience, and
thoughtfulness to this topic. And thanks to Zack for many months of work
organizing a complex project, with a theme that became increasingly
sensitive due to external public discourse, and especially for making a
tremendous and honest effort to hear feedback and to respond quickly here.
I’d also like to thank all the people who helped read, write, edit, and
consider this report.

We chose this theme in October, and have used it successfully in messaging
since then. It was part of the December English-language fundraising
campaign, in emails and banners to donors, and received very positive
response. It was the theme of a video, shared in December,[1] that became a
featured video on Commons.[2] We also shared our work and development
process on this report publicly when we published the Communications
department’s check-in slides covering the 2nd fiscal quarter (Sep - Dec

Social impact is a very important part of Wikimedia that is hard to
understand from the outside, but that impact is one of the things that
makes your work so meaningful, and helps us find contributors and partners
around the world. As Zack mentioned, our annual reports are created for an
audience that includes ongoing financial contributors and people new to us.
They are intended to be timely and relevant to the interests of people who
are not as deeply involved in Wikimedia as the rest of us. They tell the
story of what Wikimedians have achieved in the context of the world, and
are related to topics in international conversations. Some of those stories
are efforts supported by the Foundation, and many are celebrations of the
importance and timeliness of independent work of members of the movement.
Wikimedia is rich and complex, and we revise our theme each year to share
new facets. The Foundation has been making these since 2008.[4]

Yes, our report was meant to bring up relevant topics for a global
audience, and to tie important facts to the work of Wikimedians. It was
meant to focus on the range of things people can learn from Wikipedia, from
the historical to the social to the controversial. But it was not a
response to anything that occurred in recent weeks, or in any one country.
We debated the relationship between the theme and public discourse as that
discourse changed, but decided that Wikimedia’s relationship with facts
hadn’t changed. The report is not perfect, and many people have pointed out
excellent alternative directions we might have taken. We’re listening, and
we will learn from your suggestions and ideas in our continuing work.

I am proud of the intentions, hard work, experience, and many difficult
decisions my colleagues on the Communications team and our collaborators
across the Foundation and community make every day. I hope the abridged
timeline of events, below, will help make some our process more visible to
you as well.


[1] https://blog.wikimedia.org/2016/12/27/not-post-fact-world/
[2] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikipedia_-_FactsMatter2016.webm
[3] https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File%
[4] https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Annual_Report

*Our fact criteria:*
Global, relevant to general readers and to 2016, verifiable, related to the
work of Wikimedians, surprising or interesting

13 Oct: Meeting where “Facts Matter” was established, our deadline for a
full draft was December 15
28 Oct: First design review of website mockups.
7 Nov: Design team meeting, notes include:

   - “Reaffirm facts matter”
   - “Reacting to present moment is antithetical to the WMF movement”
   - “We care just as much about facts as we did a year ago, 10 years ago,
   and will care in five years”

14 Dec: Facts final, content drafted
27 Dec: Facts matter video posted

6 Jan: Site and content review with other departments (locked to major
17 Jan: Print layout of all content
27 Jan: Communications quarterly review[3] posted Feb 7
1 Mar: Sharing the Facts Matter site

On Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 3:35 PM, Yair Rand <yyairr...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Risker has outlined many of the issues with the report much better than I
> would have been able to. While I'm happy to hear there will be some
> reordering and that one of the images will be replaced, the report still
> has many very serious problems.
> How can we fix this? I can think of a few options:
> * The report could be made open to edits from the community. (I was hopeful
> when the report was posted on Meta that it would be editable, but it was
> apparently posted primarily for translation purposes and is not editable.)
> Over the course of a few weeks much of the content could be rewritten to be
> close enough to neutral.
> * We could continue discussing specific problems in tone and focus, errors,
> and general issues with the report here on this mailing list or on Meta
> while the relevant people implement fixes and rewrites (hopefully in a
> transparent manner), including the large content changes/replacements
> required.
> * The entire "Consider the facts" section could be removed/replaced. The
> rest of the report probably could stand on its own, but that may not be
> ideal. I don't know whether rewriting it from scratch is doable, or whether
> there may be relevant time constraints here.
> I'd like to reiterate the seriousness of displaying non-Wikimedia-related
> political advocacy over Wikimedia projects. Many editors work very hard at
> removing any biases in articles. To have a huge banner placed over every
> article on the whole project linking to 43px-font blatant political
> advocacy which can't be reverted, is really damaging.
> -- Yair Rand
> On Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 1:41 AM, Risker <risker...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > 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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*Heather Walls  *
Wikimedia Foundation
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