This is of course fine, and everybody is free to participate or not to
participate on this mailing list, but, generally speaking, does WMF have
any channels to listen to the volunteers working on the project? They often
say so, but in practice I do not see any. This list used to be the one, but
it does not carry out this function. The corresponding part of Meta is
dead, questions never get answered. Some (very few, as far as I can tell),
WMF staff members are also active as volunteers, but they do not serve as
liasons between WMF and communities, at least I do not see any indication
that they would welcome these questions asked as their talk pages. Every
time I see a WMF staffer on one of the projects I am active in, this is a
one-way communication mode, not a dialogue.

Well, may be WMF does not need these channels, but then I do not understand
why they continue claiming they are listening to the community. In my
experience, this is not the case.


On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:16 PM Joseph Seddon <>

> I do not think we should assign blame to those who left this list during
> and because of the periods of toxicity, and who are disinclined to
> participate here because of the memories of that and a continued perceived
> unhealthiness in the tone. Their decision to leave was a valid one.
> Not respecting that choice I suspect would just reaffirm their suspicions
> and reinforces the lack of desire to commit here. A significantly more
> positive tone needs to be made and a much more conciliatory stance taken.
> Otherwise we all might as well pack our bags.
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 2:17 AM Asaf Bartov <> wrote:
> > Speaking as a (very) longtime member of this mailing list, and one who is
> > carefully observing it for a few years now as a volunteer list
> > co-administrator:
> >
> > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 3:56 AM Joseph Seddon <>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I, like many others, wish to see this list become a crucible of good
> > > suggestions, healthy and critical debate about ideas and as a sound
> > > mechanism for oversight and account . A huge amount of staff time and
> > > movement resources is taken up by the consumption of its content. And
> yet
> > > it remains the greatest shame that much of the best most worthwhile
> > > constructive discussions have moved to platforms like Facebook because
> > this
> > > list is viewed as hosting such an unhealthy atmosphere when emails are
> > > written with such overt passive aggression.
> > >
> > > I call it out because if we want people to participate on this list,
> the
> > > unhealthy way in which this list gets treated by some of its most
> active
> > > participants needs to be dealt with. Otherwise valid points will not
> get
> > > acknowledged or answered.
> > >
> >
> > I am not sure the causality here runs in the direction you describe.
> It's
> > true that this list had some aggressive, even vulgar participants in the
> > past, and that some senior staff members, as well as board members, have
> > left the list in protest.  Personally, I think that was a mistake on
> their
> > part: to improve the list atmosphere, you model good behavior yourself,
> and
> > you call upon the rest of the list -- the "silent majority" -- to call
> out
> > bad behavior and enforce some participation standards (as, indeed, I and
> my
> > co-moderators have been doing since we took over).
> >
> > By senior people's departing this list, and no longer requiring staff to
> be
> > on this list, a strong signal was sent that this is not a venue crucial
> to
> > listen to, and that, coupled with the decreasing frequency of WMF
> responses
> > to legitimate volunteer inquiries and suggestions, had a *powerful*
> > chilling effect on the willingness of most volunteers to engage here.
> > Especially when, as you say, they were able to get better engagement on
> > Facebook and other channels, despite the serious shortcomings of
> > accountability on those channels (immutable archiving, searchability,
> > access to anonymous volunteers, etc.)
> >
> > Yes, this list has also seen some pseudonymous critics whose questions
> may
> > have been inconvenient or troublesome to address.  Yet I think the
> > accountable thing to do would have been to respond, however briefly, to
> > prevent the sealioning and sanctimonious posts that filled the list --
> and,
> > I am sure, greatly annoyed and demotivated many subscribers.  Even a
> > response stating WMF chooses not to respond to a certain question, or not
> > to dig up certain data, would have been better than the stony silence
> that
> > has become the all-too-common stance for WMF on this list.
> >
> > As you know, I also work for WMF (though I am writing this in my
> volunteer
> > capacity, and out of my care for the well-being of this list).  While I
> > have never shied away from responding on this list, I have on occasion
> been
> > scolded (internally) for attempting to answer volunteer queries to the
> best
> > of my knowledge, for "outstepping my remit" or interfering in someone
> > else's remit.  I have taken this to heart, and accordingly no longer try
> to
> > respond to queries such as Fae's (which in this case I find a perfectly
> > reasonable question, meriting an answer).  Several past attempts by me to
> > ping appropriate senior staff on questions on this list (or on talk
> pages)
> > have also met with rebuke, so I have ceased those as well.
> >
> > For these reasons I do not accept this wholesale blaming of this list's
> > subscribers on the difficulty having meaningful conversations here:
> >
> > But if we want to see staff members more actively
> > > participating here then those long standing individuals need to really
> > > thing about the tone in which they engage here, particularly those who
> do
> > > so most often. If that does not change, this list will continue to
> > languish
> > > and those few staff members who continue to engage here will slowly
> > > disappear. This now increasingly perennial topic keeps coming up and my
> > > fear is that it will on go away through the increasing abandonment this
> > > list faces.
> > >
> >
> > It is WMF that is not behaving collaboratively here.  And it is within
> > WMF's power to change it.  C-levels, the ED, and other managers at WMF
> > could all decide to participate more actively in this list; to respond to
> > questions or delegate the answering to their subordinates, who are
> awaiting
> > their cue; and indeed, they could themselves make more use of this list
> as
> > a sounding board, a consultation room, and a reserve of experience and
> > diverse context.  They can be the change they (and you, and me) would
> like
> > to see.
> >
> > Perhaps this e-mail could convince some of them.  And if not my words,
> then
> > perhaps those of some of the other list subscribers.
> >
> >     A.
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