Hi James, thank you for the answer, appreciated.
Specifically about on-wiki communication, I possibly misunderstand the situation, but out of 900+ projects you mention, some are dead (no regular editors), and a vast majority is still in the regime when a few active users can follow the recent edit list. (I am admin on the Russian Wikivoyage and I have checked every single edit there since its transfer to WMF in 2012 - we currently have about a hundred per day). All these projects only have one noticeboards (typically accessible from the panel on the left as Community Portal, or, of not, it can be easily located). Again, at the Russian Wikivoyage, except for the very first cuple of months, when we were coordinating transfer from the Wikitravel, I can not recollect any WMF-related person who was interested in discussing anything. We get useful announcements (typically related to software), but the only time we had something else (the beginning of the current strategy cycle), we did not get an impression anybody was interested in listening to us. Now, bigger projects - there are may be 30 or so of them where one can not follow the recent changes (the vast majority being Wikipedias, plus Commons, Wikidata, and possibly English and German Wikivoyages and a couple of more projects). The absolute majority of these also have one central place (typically, again linked to Community portal), where things should be discussed. I would think that a WMF representative trying to discuss smth at a particular article talk page - it is not impossible, but as a community member I would find this odd - at the very least, it should be a pointer to that discussion. Finally, there are some really big projects, where one can several village pumps without an obvious choice. I am obviously more familiar with the English Wikipedia, and indeed RfCs can proliferate anywhere (even though there is a central place one cal locate all of them), and it might be a bit tricky to find a correct one, but in all cases I have seen if the topic is even remotely connected to WMF business (and sometimes even when it is not connected to it at all) somebody would ping one, or two, or five WMF employees - who could come and engage ina discussion, or come and say they are not interested, or not come at all - which is fine, obviously reasonable people do not expect A-level employees to react to every ping anywhere in the Wikimedia universe - but at least I think these discussion places are reasonably well localized and are easy to follow if anybody is interested in. I am, again, not saying that WMF employees should follow all discussion on all projects - or even that they should check several selected pages every day - but some communication channel much exist. In my experience, most of the reasonable questions just simply get ignored - which obviously creates an impression that nobody is listening to the community. Cheers Yaroslav On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 10:31 PM James Hare <jh...@wikimedia.org> wrote: > On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 6:26 AM Yaroslav Blanter <ymb...@gmail.com> wrote: > > > 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? > > I am a product manager at the Wikimedia Foundation. What this means, in the > broadest of terms, is that I need to know what people want/need in order to > do my job “correctly,” for some definition of “correct.” Of course, what > constitutes a “correct” decision on my part is something not everyone will > agree on and that’s fine. But I need to gather information as part of this > work. > > The problem is that there is no “one” place to go. To give you an idea of > the magnitude of the problem, there are over 900 wikis. Hundreds of those > wikis comprise Wikipedia, a project with a cumulative total of 50,000,000 > articles. Each one of those articles either has a talk page or could > theoretically get one as soon as someone makes the first post. So, just > starting with Wikipedia articles, we have over 50,000,000 potential or > existing discussion venues, with very little coordination or > cross-organization between these venues, and this doesn’t even include > individual user talk pages or really, really specific talk pages like > “Wikipedia talk:Administrators’ noticeboard/Incidents” which is... very > precisely, a venue to discuss the administration of that specific > noticeboard (but not to, itself, host noticeboard-like posts). > > It is very convenient and easy to create a talk page because talk pages are > a very central paradigm to the MediaWiki software (going back to 2002? > 2003?) and so they are built into the overall website experience in a way > that things that were tacked on way later, simply are not. But it is a poor > interface that doesn’t scale across more than several people or a few > concurrent conversations. But if Wikipedia’s fundamental sidebar chat > system fails to support more than occasional chatter, how exactly is any of > this supposed to work? > > There are two ways to go from here: (a) fix the original problem or (b) > develop workarounds. If you were around back in 2013 or so you may recall a > project called “Flow” that is now called “Structured Discussions.” I can’t > speak officially to any of it because it was before my time and many of the > staff involved no longer work here. And I am actually very hesitant to > bring it up at all, much less by name, because of the taboo that developed > around it. A retrospective on this project is out-of-scope for this post, > but if you need a short and convenient answer: it didn’t work, and it > generally made it impossible for the Wikimedia Foundation to even broach > the subject for the following several years. (There is starting to be work > on this again, and this time, it seems to be going at a more deliberate > pace, but I will defer to the staff working on this.) > > Let’s talk about workarounds. We have workarounds that make the talk pages > themselves more useful (talk page archiving comes to mind), and we also > have workarounds that consist of outsourcing the issue entirely, whether it > be solutions we host ourselves (mailing lists, Discourse) or proprietary > platforms that happen to be convenient for large segments of our > communities. There are different advantages and disadvantages to each > solution, which has only resulted in the proliferation of solutions. > > Let’s back up. On the wikis themselves there are millions of discussion > venues; there are different software interventions that work or don’t work, > depending on the situation; and we are now in a position where we have so > many places to hold conversations it becomes an extraordinary use of time > (and several people’s full time jobs) to try to understand the > extraordinarily complex social interactions that take place in the hundreds > of languages we speak. > > Having introduced all that context, the short answer to your question is > there are some channels we are better at paying attention to than others, > but we don’t know what we don’t know. And this is frustrating for everyone > involved. It makes projects take longer, it makes it harder to onboard > staff, and I can imagine it’s *even more* frustrating for the many users of > our many wikis who have to deal with the software being broken and not > really knowing what to do. I think we manage, but I think we deserve > better than just “managing” it. > > > My best regards, > James Hare > > > >  This brings up another topic that not all discussions that take place > on Wikipedia happen on discussion pages. Also, there are over 50,000,000 > Wikidata items, and almost none of them have talk pages, but theoretically > *all > of them* can. > >  I remember when Werdna wrote the first talk page archiving bot in 2006. > I thought it was cool that someone did that, but looking back on it, I > wonder why I was happy with that as a solution – it seems really convoluted > in retrospect. > > > > > > 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 <asaf.bar...@gmail.com> > > 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 <jsed...@wikimedia.org > > > > > > 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. > > > > _______________________________________________ > > > > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: > > > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and > > > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l > > > > New messages to: Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org > > > > Unsubscribe: > https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, > > > > <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe> > > > _______________________________________________ > > > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: > > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and > > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l > > > New messages to: Wikimediaemail@example.com > > > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, > > > <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe> > > _______________________________________________ > > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l > > New messages to: Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org > > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, > > <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe> > > -- > -- > *James Hare* (he/him) > Associate Product Manager > Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/> > _______________________________________________ > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l > New messages to: Wikimediaemail@example.com > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, > <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe> _______________________________________________ Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia-l New messages to: Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe>