This looks reasonably rational to me. I am not sufficiently expert to be able 
to make more specific comments. One thing I would like to know - in the new 
arrangement, where does the group responsible for fundraising user interface 
fit in? Are they tech or audience? 

-----Original Message-----
From: Wikimedia-l [] On Behalf Of 
Toby Negrin
Sent: Wednesday, 07 June 2017 11:13 PM
To:; Wikimedia Mailing List;
Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the 

Hi everybody,

We have made some changes to our Product and Technology departments which we 
are excited to tell you about. When Wes Moran, former Vice President of 
Product, left the Wikimedia Foundation in May, we took the opportunity to 
review the organization and operating principles that were guiding Product and 
Technology. Our objectives were to improve our engagement with the community 
during product development, develop a more audience-based approach to building 
products, and create as efficient a pipeline as possible between an idea and 
its deployment. We also wanted an approach that would better prepare our 
engineering teams to plan around the upcoming movement strategic direction. We 
have finished this process and have some results to share with you.

Product is now known as Audiences, and other changes in that department

In order to more intentionally commit to a focus on the needs of users, we are 
making changes to the names of teams and department (and will be using these 
names throughout the rest of this update):


   The Product department will be renamed the Audiences department;

   The Editing team will now be called the Contributors team;

   The Reading team will be renamed the Readers team.

You might be asking: what does “audience” mean in this context? We define it as 
a specific group of people who will use the products we build. For example, 
“readers” is one audience. “Contributors” is another. Designing products around 
who will be utilizing them most, rather than what we would like those products 
to do, is a best practice in product development. We want our organizational 
structure to support that approach.

We are making five notable changes to the Audiences department structure.

The first is that we are migrating folks working on search and discovery from 
the stand-alone Discovery team into the Readers team and Technology department, 
respectively. Specifically, the team working on our search backend 
infrastructure will move to Technology, where they will report to Victoria. The 
team working on maps, the search experience, and the project entry portals 
(such as will join the Readers team. This realignment will allow 
us to build more integrated experiences and knowledge-sharing for the end user.

The second is that the Fundraising Tech team will also move to the Technology 
department. This move recognizes that their core work is primarily platform 
development and integration, and brings them into closer cooperation with their 
peers in critical functions including MediaWiki Platform, Security, Analytics, 
and Operations.

The Team Practices group (TPG) will also be undergoing some changes.
Currently, TPG supports both specific teams in Product, as well as supporting 
broader organizational development. Going forward, those TPG members directly 
supporting feature teams will be embedded in their respective teams in the 
Audiences or Technology departments. The TPG members who were primarily focused 
on organizational health and development will move to the Talent & Culture 
department, where they will report to Anna Stillwell.

These three changes lead to the fourth, which is the move from four “audience” 
verticals in the department (Reading, Editing, Discovery, and Fundraising Tech, 
plus Team Practices) to three: Readers, Contributors, and Community Tech. This 
structure is meant to streamline our focus on the people we serve with our 
feature and product development, increase team accountability and ownership 
over their work, allow Community Tech to maintain its unique, effective, and 
multi-audiences workflow, and better integrate support directly where teams 
need it most.

One final change: in the past we have had a design director. We recognize that 
design is critical to creating exceptional experiences as a contributor or a 
reader, so we’re bringing that role back. The director for design will report 
to the interim Vice President of Product. The Design Research function, 
currently under the Research team in the Technology department, will report to 
the new director once the role is filled.

Technology is increasingly “programmatic”

The Technology department is also making a series of improvements in the way we 
operate so that we can better serve the movement.

The biggest change is that all of our work in fiscal year 2017-2018 will be 
structured and reported in programs instead of teams (you can see how this 
works in our proposed 2017-2018 Annual Plan).[2] This will help us focus on the 
collective impact we want to make, rather than limiting ourselves to the way 
our organization is structured. These programs will be enabled by the platforms 
(MediaWiki, Fundraising Tech, Search, Wikimedia Cloud Services, APIs, ORES, and 
Analytics) that the Technology department builds and maintains, and they will 
be delivered by teams that provide critical services (Operations, Performance, 
Security, Release Engineering, and Research). Distinguishing the work of the 
Technology department into platforms and services will also allow us to treat 
platforms as products, with accountable product managers and defined roadmaps.

In addition to moving the Search subteam into Technology, we are creating a 
separate ORES team. These changes mark the start of something big - investing 
in building machine learning, machine translation, natural language processing 
and related  competencies. This is the first step towards supporting 
intelligent, humanized, user interfaces for our communities - something we’re 
thinking of as “human tech”.  Not because we think that machines will replace 
our humans, but because these tools cans help our humans be much more 

Why these changes, why now?

When the Product and Technology departments were reorganized in 2015,[1] the 
stated goal was establishing verticals to focus on specific groups of users and 
to speed execution by reducing dependencies among teams. These smaller changes 
are meant to “tune-up” that structure, by addressing some of its weaknesses and 
making additional improvements to the structure of our engineering work.

The process that brought us to these changes began informally shortly after 
Victoria arrived, and took on a more formal tone once Wes announced his 
departure in May. Katherine asked Anna Stillwell, the Foundation's 
newly-appointed Chargée d’Affaires in the Talent & Culture department, to 
facilitate a consultation with both departments to identify their pain points, 
and better understand their cultural and structural needs. After collecting 
feedback from 93 people across the two departments, as well as stakeholders 
around the organization, she offered a draft proposal for open comment within 
the Foundation. After making some changes to reflect staff feedback, the 
Foundation’s leadership team decided to proceed with the changes described 

The leaders of some of the teams involved will be following up in the next few 
days with the specifics of these organizational moves and what they mean to our 
communities. If you still have questions, please ask here or on the talk page 
of this announcement:

Best regards,

Toby Negrin, Interim Vice President of Product Victoria Coleman, Chief 
Technology Officer

PS. An on-wiki version of this message is available for translation:


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