Thanks for the response, Katherine. I'm a little concerned that we can have
such "vastly different" interpretations of the same text. I tried to get
some Wikimedians to give me their take-away, and have not gotten a
consistent direction from those.

What I mostly remember after reading your response is that Wikimedia would
be doing more of the same, and more.

This is a two-folded concern for me. On one hand, it feels like the
direction is too multi-interpretable. While vagueness and leaving specifics
open is only natural, I do believe that a clear direction is essential to
take the next steps.

Second, after reading your response I'm left with the feeling that we don't
really take a direction. Choosing a direction is also determining what not
to do. This was also a main criticism of the earlier version presented at
Wikimania. Directions are painful, because we're not satisfying everyone.

Currently, the WMF is asking people and affiliates to 'endorse' this text.
It has a high textual quality and says a number of things that resonate
with my ideals and those that I know to be Wikimedia's ideals. However, I
don't feel it provides the direction we need yet. I'm not keen on endorsing
a direction, which may then be interpreted in a vastly different way.

I should also note: I have little hope of changing the process. And it may
very well be that I'm alone in this concern. But I would suggest that you
(plural) select 25 (or more) random Wikimedians that were not intimately
involved with the strategic process, let them read the direction, and let
them summarize their take-aways. (that is working from the assumption you
have not done so already) If their variance is too large, that may be an
indicator that unfortunately another cycle of labor may be needed before we
can enter the next round. Given all effort and resources that have been
invested in this process, such sanity check may be worth while.



ps: just to state the obvious: I'm highly appreciative of all the work that
went into this. It could have turned out worse in many many ways, and I
appreciate all the efforts that went into involving the community. I'm
always feeling guilty about not having been able to spend way more time on
the strategic process than I did in all the various steps of the process -
such rebut would be totally fair :).

On Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 10:13 AM, Katherine Maher <>

> Hi all,
> Sorry for the delay in chiming in. It's been a busy few weeks, and while I
> haven't made a public update about strategy in a while, work has been
> continuing! We've now closed Phase 1, and we're heading into Phase 2, in
> which our objective is to start thinking about how we make the strategic
> direction into a plan of action and implementation. It's an opportunity to
> create greater clarity about how we each understand the direction, how we
> might set goals against it, what we may need to change to achieve these
> goals, and how we can contribute -- as projects, communities, and
> individuals. I’ll be sending my next weekly update shortly but I wanted to
> acknowledge the contributions in this thread first.
> I've read through this entire thread, and I've agreed, disagreed, agreed
> again, and started emails only to see new ones come in and have to scrap my
> drafts. While I found myself often agreeing with Erik, I dig the challenges
> you all have put forward and appreciate the diversity of opinions. Some of
> our differences stem from the unique contexts of the groups and individuals
> responding and will result in differences in implementation in each
> community. Other differences, such as questioning the very concept of
> source credibility, will certainly require additional discussion. But
> regardless of where we end up, it has been a delight to follow such a rich,
> substantive conversation. This has been one of the best, and
> most thought-provoking, Wikimedia-l threads I've read in some time, and I
> hope that it is the first of many as we go into Phase 2 of the movement
> strategy process.
> A few more responses inline:
> 2017-10-04 11:19 GMT-07:00 Lodewijk <>:
> >
> > I don't understand what exactly that direction is headed towards, there
> is
> > too much space for a variety of interpretation. The one thing that I take
> > away though, is that we won't place ourselves at the center of the free
> > knowledge universe (as a brand), but want to become a service. We don't
> > expect people to know about 'Wikipedia' in 10 years, but we do want that
> > our work is being put to good use.
> It's always helpful to read critique as a challenge to our logical
> assumptions. Lodewijk, I see where your interpretation comes from here, but
> it is vastly different than how I interpret from this statement. To the
> contrary, I wouldn’t say "service" and "brand" are mutually exclusive. I do
> think that Wikimedia should want to continue to be known as a destination
> for free knowledge, and we do want to increase brand awareness, especially
> in areas and contexts where we are not yet well (or not at all) known. Our
> brand (including our communities) and visibility are some of our most
> valuable assets as a movement, and it would be strategically unwise not to
> build on them for long-term planning.
> When I think about knowledge as a service, it means that we want this, *and
> much more*. It’s additive. We want to be who we are today, *and* we want to
> provide a service to other institutions. We want to use that brand and
> visibility to work with others in the ecosystem. We also want to be present
> in new experiences and delivery channels, in order to preserve the direct
> interface connection with Wikipedia's contributors and readers that we have
> on the web. I see this as essential - for our readers, it's about ensuring
> a core promise: that the chain of evidence for the information they seek is
> unbroken and transparent, from citation to edit. For our contributors, it's
> about extending ways to contribute as our digital interfaces evolve.
> We know from the Phase 1 research that many readers see Wikipedia as a
> utility, whether we like it or not. We know that people reuse our content
> in many contexts. My interpretation of “knowledge as a service” is not that
> we vanish into the background, but that we become ever more essential to
> people's lives. And part of our doing so is not only enriching the
> experience people have on Wikipedia, but investing in how Wikipedia can
> promote the opening of knowledge overall. Today, MediaWiki and Wikibase are
> already infrastructures that serve other free knowledge projects, in turn
> enriching the material on which our projects can draw. What more could we
> do if we supported openness more systemically?
> I understand that the direction may still feel too vague. A direction for
> the 2030 horizon is bound to lack specifics. I actually think this is okay.
> The direction comes from a small-ish group of drafters trying to make sense
> of 8 months of thousands of perspectives. In that sense, a small group can
> only do so much. It is now our responsibility, as movement actors, to take
> this direction and interpret it in our respective contexts, based on our
> respective experiences. This will be a major part of Phase 2 of the
> movement discussions.
> 2017-10-09 17:44 GMT-07:00 Erik Moeller <>:
> >
> > With an eye to 2030 and WMF's long-term direction, I do think it's
> > worth thinking about Wikidata's centrality, and I would agree with you
> > at least that the phrase "the essential infrastructure of the
> > ecosystem" does overstate what I think WMF should aspire to (the
> > "essential infrastructure" should consist of many open components
> > maintained by different groups).
> There is indeed an element of aspiration in that phrase. I knew it would be
> controversial, and we talked about it quite a bit in drafting, but
> advocated that we include it anyway. After all, our vision statement is "a
> world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all
> knowledge." That's certainly inclusive (it has no single parties or
> ownership) but it is also wildly aspirational. But despite the
> impossibility of our that aspiration, it has worked quite well: we've made
> great strides toward a project that is "impossible in theory".
> For each person who felt we should moderate the language of the direction,
> there was another who wanted us to be more bold and recapture this
> ambition. They wanted us to believe in ourselves, and give the world
> something to believe in. As Wikimedians, we tend to prefer matter-of-fact,
> sometimes plain and noncommittal statements. While that works well for NPOV
> content, a strategic direction also seeks to inspire ambitious efforts. The
> drafting group removed much of the flowery language from the earlier
> versions of the draft, but the goal was to keep just enough to inspire
> movement actors and external partners.
> 2017-10-09 17:44 GMT-07:00 Erik Moeller <>:
> >
> > Wikidata in particular is best seen not as the singular source of
> > truth, but as an important hub in a network of open data providers --
> > primarily governments, public institutions, nonprofits. This is
> > consistent with recent developments around Wikidata such as query
> > federation.
> Personally, I couldn’t agree more. I see federated structured data as an
> inevitable (and very favorable) outcome of the concept of a service-based
> model. Distribution enables greater flexibility in implementation and
> customization across the network while improving the resilience of the
> whole system. This is true in terms of technical stability, political
> influence or censorship, and breadth and depth of content. If one starts to
> understand Wikidata as a project, and Wikibase as a platform, we start to
> really be able to see how a broader adoption of open structures and
> attribution models can only enrich and increase the open ecosystem overall.
> I also think the Wikidata model is one that has been working very well and
> one that others in our ecosystem could benefit from. Today, on our newest
> Wikimedia project, we work with governments, the private sector, and
> individual community members, in largely constructive ways. And in many
> cases, the very existence of Wikidata makes it possible for these
> institutions to be open, when they would otherwise lack the expertise or
> resources to build their own open data infrastructure.
> For me, “Knowledge as a service” means supporting those institutions by
> providing the infrastructure that they can use for this purpose, and also
> accompanying them through the social and institutional changes that come
> with opening data and freeing knowledge. That infrastructure could be
> Wikidata, it could be other Wikimedia projects, or it could be other
> Wikibase instances, depending on what makes the most sense for each
> context.
> Anyway, there's a lot more to discuss, and thank you all again for these
> excellent conversations!
> I know that some folks were wondering about all the consultation comments
> about features, interfaces, and product improvements that didn't get
> incorporated into the strategy. We knew from the beginning of the processes
> that we'd certainly get quite a few of these requests that were too
> specific to be integrated into long-term strategic thinking and planned
> accordingly to document them. The goal was to consider how they might be
> taken up by either Foundation staff or interested volunteer developers. As
> a result, we're publishing a “Features report” written by Suzie Nussel that
> summarizes these requests, and should be a useful starting point for
> specific improvements that could be addressed in the shorter term.
> See you soon with the next strategy update.
> Katherine
> On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 8:01 AM, Erik Moeller <> wrote:
> > On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 7:31 AM, Andreas Kolbe <>
> wrote:
> >
> > > Wikidata has its own problems in that regard that have triggered
> ongoing
> > > discussions and concerns on the English Wikipedia.[1]
> >
> > Tensions between different communities with overlapping but
> > non-identical objectives are unavoidable. Repository projects like
> > Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons provide huge payoff: they dramatically
> > reduce duplication of effort, enable small language communities to
> > benefit from the work done internationally, and can tackle a more
> > expansive scope than the immediate needs of existing projects. A few
> > examples include:
> >
> > - Wiki Loves Monuments, recognized as the world's largest photo
> competition
> > - Partnerships with countless galleries, libraries, archives, and museums
> > - Wikidata initiatives like mySociety's "Everypolitician" project or Gene
> > Wiki
> >
> > This is not without its costs, however. Differing policies, levels of
> > maturity, and social expectations will always fuel some level of
> > conflict, and the repository approach creates huge usability
> > challenges. The latter is also true for internal wiki features like
> > templates, which shift information out of the article space,
> > disempowering users who no longer understand how the whole is
> > constructed from its parts.
> >
> > I would call these usability and "legibility" issues the single
> > biggest challenge in the development of Wikidata, Structured Data for
> > Commons, and other repository functionality. Much related work has
> > already been done or is ticketed in Phabricator, such as the effective
> > propagation of changes into watchlists, article histories, and
> > notifications. Much more will need to follow.
> >
> > With regard to the issue of citations, it's worth noting that it's
> > already possible to _conditionally_ load data from Wikidata, excluding
> > information that is unsourced or only sourced circularly (i.e. to
> > Wikipedia itself). [1] Template invocations can also override values
> > provided by Wikidata, for example, if there is a source, but it is not
> > considered reliable by the standards of a specific project.
> >
> > > If a digital voice assistant propagates a Wikimedia mistake without
> > telling
> > > users where it got its information from, then there is not even a
> > feedback
> > > form. Editability is of no help at all if people can't find the source.
> >
> > I'm in favor of always indicating at least provenance (something like
> > "Here's a quote from Wikipedia:"), even for short excerpts, and I
> > certainly think WMF and chapters can advocate for this practice.
> > However, where short excerpts are concerned, it's not at all clear
> > that there is a _legal_ issue here, and that full compliance with all
> > requirements of the license is a reasonable "ask".
> >
> > Bing's search result page manages a decent compromise, I think: it
> > shows excerpts from Wikipedia clearly labeled as such, and it links to
> > the CC-BY-SA license if you expand the excerpt, e.g.:
> >
> >
> > I know that over the years, many efforts have been undertaken to
> > document best practices for re-use, ranging from local
> > community-created pages to chapter guides and tools like the
> > "Lizenzhinweisgenerator". I don't know what the best-available of
> > these is nowadays, but if none exists, it might be a good idea to
> > develop a new, comprehensive guide that takes into account voice
> > applications, tabular data, and so on.
> >
> > Such a guide would ideally not just be written from a license
> > compliance perspective, but also include recommendations, e.g., on how
> > to best indicate provenance, distinguishing "here's what you must do"
> > from "here's what we recommend".
> >
> > >> Wikidata will often provide a shallow first level of information about
> > >> a subject, while other linked sources provide deeper information. The
> > >> more structured the information, the easier it becomes to validate in
> > >> an automatic fashion that, for example, the subset of country
> > >> population time series data represented in Wikidata is an accurate
> > >> representation of the source material. Even when a large source
> > >> dataset is mirrored by Wikimedia (for low-latency visualization, say),
> > >> you can hash it, digitally sign it, and restrict modifiability of
> > >> copies.
> >
> > > Interesting, though I'm not aware of that being done at present.
> >
> > At present, Wikidata allows users to model constraints on internal
> > data validity. These constraints are used for regularly generated
> > database reports as well as on-demand lookup via
> > . This kicks
> > in, for example, if you put in an insane number in a population field,
> > or mark a country as female.
> >
> > There is a project underway to also validate against external sources;
> see:
> >
> >
> > Extensions#Special_Page_Cross-Check_with_external_databases
> >
> > Wikidata still tends to deal with relatively small amounts of data; a
> > highly annotated item like Germany (Q183), for example, comes in at
> > under 1MB in uncompressed JSON form. Time series data like GDP is
> > often included only for a single point in time, or for a subset of the
> > available data. The relatively new "Data:" namespace on Commons exists
> > to store raw datasets; this is only used to a very limited extent so
> > far, but there are some examples of how such data can be visualized,
> > e.g.:
> >
> >
> >
> > Giving volunteers more powerful tools to select and visualize data
> > while automating much of the effort of maintaining data integrity
> > seems like an achievable and strategic goal, and as these examples
> > show, some building blocks for this are already in place.
> >
> > >> But the proprietary knowledge graphs are valuable to users in ways
> > >> that the previous generation of search engines was not. Interacting
> > >> with a device like you would with a human being ("Alexa/Google/Siri,
> > >> is yarrow edible?") makes knowledge more accessible and usable,
> > >> including to people who have difficulty reading long texts, or who are
> > >> not literate at all. In this sense I don't think WMF should ever find
> > >> itself in the position to argue _against_ inclusion of information
> > >> from Wikimedia projects in these applications.
> >
> > > There is a distinct likelihood that they will make reading Wikipedia
> > > articles progressively obsolete, just like the availability of Googling
> > has
> > > dissuaded many people from sitting down and reading a book.
> >
> > There is an important distinction between "lookup" and "learning"; the
> > former is a transactional activity ("Is this country part of the Euro
> > zone?") and the latter an immersive one ("How did the EU come
> > about?"). Where we now get instant answers from home assistants or
> > search engines, we may have previously skimmed, or performed our own
> > highly optimized search in the local knowledge repository called a
> > "bookshelf".
> >
> > In other words, even if some instant answers lead to a drop in
> > Wikipedia views, it would be unreasonable to assume that those views
> > were "reads" rather than "skims". When you're on a purely
> > transactional journey, you appreciate almost anything that shortens
> > it.
> >
> > I don't think Wikimedia should fight the gravity of a user's
> > intentions out of its own pedagogical motives. Rather, it should make
> > both lookup and learning as appealing as possible. Doing well in the
> > "lookup" category is important to avoid handing too much control off
> > to gatekeepers, and being good in the "learning" category holds the
> > greatest promise for lasting positive impact.
> >
> > As for the larger social issue, at least in the US, the youngest (most
> > googley) generation is the one that reads the most books, and
> > income/education are very strong predictors of whether people do or
> > not:
> >
> > fewer-americans-are-reading-print-books-new-survey-finds/
> >
> > >> The applications themselves are not the problem; the centralized
> > >> gatekeeper control is. Knowledge as an open service (and network) is
> > >> actually the solution to that root problem. It's how we weaken and
> > >> perhaps even break the control of the gatekeepers. Your critique seems
> > >> to boil down to "Let's ask Google for more crumbs". In spite of all
> > >> your anti-corporate social justice rhetoric, that seems to be the path
> > >> to developing a one-sided dependency relationship.
> >
> > > I considered that, but in the end felt that given the extent to which
> > > Google profited from volunteers' work, it wasn't an unfair ask.
> >
> > While I think your proposal to ask Google to share access to resources
> > it already has digitized or licensed is worth considering, I would
> > suggest being very careful about the long term implications of any
> > such agreements. Having a single corporation control volunteers'
> > access to proprietary resources means that such access can also be
> > used as leverage down the road, or abruptly be taken away for other
> > reasons.
> >
> > I think it would be more interesting to spin off the existing
> > "Wikipedia Library" into its own international organization (or home
> > it with an existing one), tasked with giving free knowledge
> > contributors (including potentially to other free knowledge projects
> > like OSM) access to proprietary resources, and pursuing public and
> > private funding of its own. The development of many relationships may
> > take longer, but it is more sustainable in the long run. Moreover, it
> > has the potential to lead to powerful collaborations with existing
> > public/nonprofit digitization and preservation efforts.
> >
> > > Publicise the fact that Google and others profit from volunteer work,
> and
> > > give very little back. The world could do with more articles like this:
> > >
> > >
> > 2015/07/22/you-dont-know-it-but-youre-working-for-facebook-for-free/
> >
> > I have plenty of criticisms of Facebook, but the fact that users don't
> > get paid for posting selfies isn't one of them. My thoughts on how the
> > free culture movement (not limited to Wikipedia) should interface with
> > the for-profit sector are as follows, FWIW:
> >
> > 1) Demand appropriate levels of taxation on private profits, [2]
> > sufficient investments in public education and cultural institutions,
> > and "open licensing" requirements on government contracts with private
> > corporations.
> >
> > 2) Require compliance with free licenses, first gently, then more
> > firmly. This is a game of diminishing returns, and it's most useful to
> > go after the most blatant and problematic cases. As noted above, "fair
> > use" limits should be understood and taken into consideration.
> >
> > 3) Encourage corporations to be "good citizens" of the free culture
> > world, whether it's through indicating provenance beyond what's
> > legally required, or by contributing directly (open source
> > development, knowledge/data donations, in-kind goods/services,
> > financial contributions). The payoff for them is goodwill and a
> > thriving (i.e. also profitable) open Internet that more people in more
> > places use for more things.
> >
> > 4) Build community-driven, open, nonprofit alternatives to
> > out-of-control corporate quasi-monopolies. As far as proprietary
> > knowledge graphs are concerned, I will reiterate: open data is the
> > solution, not the problem.
> >
> > Cheers,
> > Erik
> >
> > [1] See the getValue function in
> > , specifically its
> > "onlysourced" parameter. The module also adds a convenient "Edit this
> > on Wikidata" link to each claim included from there.
> >
> > [2] As far as Wikimedia organizations are concerned, specific tax
> > policy will likely always be out of scope of political advocacy, but
> > the other points need not be.
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> --
> Katherine Maher
> Executive Director
> *We moved! **Our new address:*
> Wikimedia Foundation
> 1 Montgomery Street, Suite 1600
> San Francisco, CA 94104
> +1 (415) 839-6885 ext. 6635
> +1 (415) 712 4873
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