Asaf, I have wondered at times whether you were ever scolded for some of
the things you wrote on this list. I, for one, have always appreciated your
comments and so I thank you for taking the time to craft your responses
despite any WMF objections. I also would like to thank you for any
moderation work you have done that I may not have seen.

On Tue, May 14, 2019 at 9:17 PM 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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