Katherine Maher wrote:

> Valerie and her team drafted
> an ambitious new vision for the work of Community Engagement—focused on
> decentralization of power and resources, safe and welcoming spaces,
> equitable collaboration, increased language and cultural fluency, dedicated
> programs for groups such as women and young people, and expansive
> partnerships in service of free knowledge.



> With this vision in hand, Val and I both see this as the right juncture
> for

her to move on to her next professional challenge.


I'm sorry to hear the news of her leaving. I wish her good fortune in her
next endeavour and I wish success for the WMF in implementing the vision of
her team.


Katherine Maher wrote:

> We will not be starting a search for a new Chief of Community Engagement.
> Instead, over the course of the next few weeks, the seven teams currently
> within the Community Engagement (CE) department will be integrated into the
> Foundation’s other departments.


I believe this change might give a new chance to improve community
engagement with the WMF teams.
The Movement Strategy community conversations
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/Recommendations>
and the office actions consultation
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Office_actions/Community_consultation_on_partial_and_temporary_office_actions/09_2019>
was
a step in the good direction, but the community is looking for a more
engaged, real-time, person-to-person discussion with team members, besides
the unidirectional flow of these plans. As Valerie's ted talk states:
"Think Circles, Not Pyramids". We very much appreciate the contributions of
the few working group members, who joined the discussions, but hoped at
least one member of all working groups would join.
I hope as a result of this restructuring all teams and members will take
part to some extent in "community engagement". Direct communication is the
most effective way to achieve community goals. With the strong divide
between the WMF and the communities, I see direct communication as the only
way to bridge those gaps and create healthy cooperation between the
communities and the WMF.
I believe if engagement with the communities increases, the communities
will be more trusting and helpful to the teams, thereby paving the road to
success for the Movement's goals.


Katherine Maher wrote:

> For example, if you need something from Trust & Safety or Community
> Resources,

they’ll continue to be here to work with you.
>

I appreciate the time invested by Karen (KBrown) and Samuel in the partial
bans consultation. In other matters however it is very hard to gain the
attention of T&S. I assumed it's the T&S team's purpose to address
community health issues, but I might be wrong. When I've reported an issue
of tool abuse and possible harassment to the T&S - that previously received
no response (not even acknowledgment
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration_Committee/Procedures#Incoming_mail>)
from the ArbCom -, almost 2 months (sic!) later I've received the following
response: "The issues you have described in your communication to us are a
local community governance matters, which fall outside of the Foundation's
remit. We respect the autonomy of the Wikimedia communities and, as a rule,
do not interfere."
This was at the time when Fram was temporarily banned by the T&S for
harassment.
I've clarified in a response that the issue involved Terms of Use
violation, which is the policy of the WMF, not the community. There was no
answer in the last 3 months.

As the community health research projects revealed in previous years,
editors are occasionally bullied, harassed; often this is done to influence
decisions and silence different POVs.  Established editors are part of a
social network of fellow editors, who can protect them from harm, but new
and casual editors don't enjoy such safety.
As an example: the first response I've received *from the OTRS*, when I
asked how to handle an issue of preferential treatment, that I often see
new users are a victim of:
"Report them to ANI and *hope you're not hit in the face with a boomerang*."
This is the safety new users can expect currently. Needless to say, such
response in a professional support team would be unacceptable.

My questions are: Where should new and casual editors seek help in the new
team structure if the communities ignore their problem? What team and
individuals will work to improve community health?


Paul J. Weiss wrote:

> I definitely do not want Trust & Safety to narrow its focus to ensuring

enforcement & reducing liability. As you know, legal but negative behavior
> is a significant threat to the future of Wikipedia and sister projects. The
> team needs to be organizationally placed to maximize, not minimize, its
> access to resources, the community, and other staff as well as its impact.
> Placing it in Legal could, for example, decrease significantly contact and
> trust from our community members whose experience with laws is that they
> are used as weapons and tools to oppress rather than engendering fairness
> and cooperation.
>

I wholly agree with your concern, my first thought too. However, my
experience (as detailed above) and observation is that T&S already only
gets involved with legal matters, therefore placing it under the Legal
department won't change anything in the regard. That's why I have no
concerns about that move.


Katherine Maher wrote:

> The planned restructure and expansion of Community Engagement was intended
> to help us support

the community in achieving these goals [of the Medium Term Plan]. This
> includes the MTP’s focus on
> building a thriving movement, increasing community health and diversity,
> and growing among new languages, regions, and audiences. We set these goals
> as part of our interpretation of the Movement Strategy, and they will
> remain our focus for the medium term.
> I still believe we need to make many of these changes, as well as be
> prepared for further changes that may arise from the recommendations of the
> Movement Strategy Working Groups.


This year many long-running community and governance issues surfaced: the
mass-desysop proposals of Azerbaijani and Croatian Wikipedias, admin
civility issues on English Wikipedia and a few long-term, valued editors
being sanctioned. These were present for many years and these are just the
public issues known to me.

I believe in the Movement's targets of diverse, inclusive communities and I
recognize that we are very far from it. I believe the WMF has the resources
to increase community health and diversity, if that target is pursued
consistently. Change is not an easy task however and cannot be done without
close cooperation with the communities. The key to community acceptance is
transparency, communication, and practical solutions; enforcing rules and
unilateral decisions would only result in resistance. I hope there will be
specific roles in the new structure to engage with the community on a daily
basis to resolve community issues and establish healthy practices. I've
suggested in the partial bans consultation, that the WMF hire professional
arbitrators/mediators to tackle the hardest cases in cooperation with
community-elected arbitrators. Professionals would bring a new set of more
nuanced tools to the table to resolve issues with minimal sanctions and
without punishments.


The WMF is facing a huge challenge. I wish the best luck and good faith
from the community to achieve the Movement's targets.

Sincerely,
Aron Manning




On Fri, 15 Nov 2019 at 3:36 pm,  'Katherine Maher' <kma...@wikimedia.org
>  wrote:

> --------- Original Message ---------
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Wikimedia Foundation Chief of Community Engagement
> to leave the Foundation
> From: 'Katherine Maher' <kma...@wikimedia.org>
> Date: 11/15/19 3:36 pm
> To: 'Wikimedia Mailing List' <wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org>
>
> Hello everyone,
>
> I am writing to let you know that Val D’Costa, Chief Community Engagement
> Officer, is leaving the Wikimedia Foundation. I also want to share some
> changes we’re making around how the Foundation organizes staff in the
> Community Engagement department.
>
> Val joined us last January, bringing nearly three decades of experience
> launching and growing international initiatives in emerging markets. With
> the Wikimedia 2030 movement strategy as a guide, Val and her team drafted
> an ambitious new vision for the work of Community Engagement—focused on
> decentralization of power and resources, safe and welcoming spaces,
> equitable collaboration, increased language and cultural fluency, dedicated
> programs for groups such as women and young people, and expansive
> partnerships in service of free knowledge.
>
> With this vision in hand, Val and I both see this as the right juncture for
> her to move on to her next professional challenge. While she will be
> leaving the position of Chief of Community Engagement, she will remain on
> as a consultant to me for a brief period.
>
> I am deeply appreciative of Val’s time with us at the Foundation and want
> to thank her for the contributions she has made to the Wikimedia movement.
> She has been a passionate and persuasive advocate for our mission and
> pushed us to expand our vision of what could be possible for our movement.
> I wish her the absolute best in what she does next.
>
> *== What comes next for Community Engagement ==*
>
> I'll be direct -- we are making changes to the CE department structure.
>
> We will not be starting a search for a new Chief of Community Engagement.
> Instead, over the course of the next few weeks, the seven teams currently
> within the Community Engagement (CE) department will be integrated into the
> Foundation’s other departments. By January, all of the teams will have
> joined their new departments, and “Community Engagement” will no longer be
> a standalone department.
>
> The teams currently in CE will be integrated with other Foundation
> departments aligned with executive leadership goals and based on their
> scope and focus, as well as how they might grow in the future. Some of
> these alignments are intuitive, such as Trust & Safety returning to the
> Legal department; others might not be immediately apparent.
>
> *== What does this mean for your work? ==*
>
> Although we have a good sense of which teams will integrate with which
> departments, we are still meeting with the individual teams to work on the
> specific details of the transition. Our focus is on continuity for existing
> community programs and support for Foundation staff in making this change.
> You may hear from staff seeking input on those arrangements, and I want to
> thank you in advance for any feedback you may have.
>
> We expect to wrap up these conversations in early December, to begin
> transitions in mid-December, and for the transitions to be completed by the
> beginning of January, at which point we’ll be able to share an overview of
> the new arrangements in full.
>
> The work of the Community Engagement teams will remain the same throughout
> this period of transition. For example, if you need something from Trust &
> Safety or Community Resources, they’ll continue to be here to work with
> you. If you have a project or program underway with a CE team or staff
> member, that work will also continue. If you have any questions, please
> feel free to reach out to Greg Varnum at gvar...@wikimedia.org or leave
> your question in Wikimedia Space [1] and we’ll make sure we find an answer
> to your question.
>
> *== Why are we making this change? ==*
>
> The Community Engagement department has grown and evolved since it was
> created in 2015. We have brought in people with an increasingly diverse set
> of skills and backgrounds and introduced new support for additional
> languages, geographies, and areas of work, such as community health.
>
> While this has helped the Foundation come a long way in addressing the
> needs of the movement, it has also created complexity. The breadth of
> activities and competencies now supported by the department is quite
> large—today, we have people working on issues as diverse as GLAM collection
> management, participatory grantmaking, and contributor safety—and
> increasingly, across many geographies, cultures, and languages.
>
> This has created challenges for how we effectively coordinate such a range
> of specializations, how we assess their efficacy and impact against our
> mission. At the same time, as the Foundation has grown, we have developed
> capacities in other departments who will be good partners to those serving
> our community mission.
>
> In making these changes, we see an opportunity to align the functions of
> the Foundation with the future of the mission and movement, and better
> serve long-time contributors and emerging communities alike. Over time, we
> anticipate these new arrangements will deepen the understanding of
> community efforts among all Foundation staff and programs, integrate
> community perspective across program design and support, and open up space
> for bold and fresh thinking about how to move our movement forward.
>
> *== What about the future? ==*
>
> Some people may be wondering, what does this mean for the proposed work in
> the Annual or Medium Term plans, or the planned restructure of the
> Community Engagement department to a new regional approach?
>
> We remain fully committed to the work and goals of the Medium Term Plan.
> For example, although Val was not able to attend Indaba to celebrate with
> the African community, our COO and Deputy General Counsel, Janeen Uzzell
> and Tony Sebro, both attended.
>
> The planned restructure and expansion of CE was intended to help us support
> the community in achieving these goals. This includes the MTP’s focus on
> building a thriving movement, increasing community health and diversity,
> and growing among new languages, regions, and audiences. We set these goals
> as part of our interpretation of the Movement Strategy, and they will
> remain our focus for the medium term.
>
> I still believe we need to make many of these changes, as well as be
> prepared for further changes that may arise from the recommendations of the
> Movement Strategy Working Groups. We see a future that could include
> improved regional support, and expanded programmatic support for emerging
> communities, whether those are new languages, geographies, or areas of
> practice.
>
> However, we are putting those plans on hold for the next few weeks, while
> we focus is on supporting the existing teams through this transition. I
> want us to make sure that goes well, before turning our attention to the
> future. That said, I fully expect to resume work on how we expand our
> support for these critical new areas in the first quarter of the new
> calendar year.
>
> == Final thoughts ==
>
> I want to be absolutely clear that these changes are in no way an
> indication that the Foundation is decreasing our commitment to support for
> the movement. I hope you see how this offers an opportunity to do the exact
> opposite—to set us up to support the movement in the best way we can.
>
> For those with an interest in Wikimedia history, it’s worth noting that the
> Foundation has taken many different shapes over the years. In 2014, teams
> focused on community support were embedded in other departments. At the
> time, we were much smaller, and our ability to truly engage with the full
> breadth of the movement was more limited. In 2019, the community engagement
> teams are better resourced, more global, and more representative of the
> movement (although there’s always space for continued improvement).
>
> We see this as the right moment to integrate the perspectives, experiences,
> and skills of these teams across the Foundation, ensuring that support for
> the movement is woven into all the Foundation’s work. As Wikimedians, we
> know change is a constant—and it is through change that we often do our
> best work, solve our hardest problems, and find our new path forward. Thank
> you in advance as we take this next step to support the future of our
> movement.
>
> Sincerely,
> Katherine
>
> [1]
>
> https://discuss-space.wmflabs.org/t/wikimedia-foundation-chief-of-community-engagement-to-leave-the-foundation/2194
>
> Katherine Maher (she/her)
>
> Executive Director
>
> Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>
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