Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition

9 June 2020 - 28 June 2020
29 June 2020 - 5 August

Recommendations to be handled by the community edit

While the recommendations are clearly not "oriented" towards advising the community (ie, the community is never referred to in the first-person, and recommendations regarding interactions between the organizations and the community place the organizations in the second-person and the community in the third-person), several of the recommendations are clearly within the exclusive scope of community action. The community, however, is not a group that can be assigned tasks. The best that can be done by the organizations is to generally indicate, "this isn't our job to do, either some volunteers decide to do it/take the lead on it or it won't get done". (People often don't like doing the same work for free together with someone else who's getting paid for it.) Nobody from the community can commit to having the community handle something. Some of the documents associated with the transition process seem to assume a general framework of "assigning responsibility", which is something that will needs some modifications in these situations. --Yair rand (talk) 05:05, 3 August 2020 (UTC)Reply

  • Thank so much Yair rand. That's been a big discussion item and one that we hope to hear from communities from, how to "assign" tasks or responsibilities to folks not associated with any affiliates, yet with so much experience and expertise. Guidance would be appreciated. With regards to the orientation, the writers were determined to use "we" in an all encompassing way to refer to the whole movement, communities very much included. I would love to hear which recommendations or changes and actions are within the scope of community action. What are your thoughts? MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 13:04, 5 August 2020 (UTC)Reply

Feedback, scheduling, and community-involved decision-making edit

A major flaw that was present during the previous phase of the strategy process was that there was no clear "feedback loop" tied to the outcome of the process. Many communities had access to places where one could leave feedback, but there was no real reaction to giving feedback, or indication that the feedback affected anything. Some people participating on Meta left feedback, which was then collected in various places which ostensibly informed the outcome, unbeknownst to the people giving the feedback, who didn't see any sort of indication that anyone relevant heard what they said. Some places had liaisons, but everyone knew that the liaisons weren't involved in making any of the decisions, so they couldn't really have a discussion or any back-and-forth with a conclusion. The feeling of "shouting into the void" is very demoralizing, and tends to deter participation. Likewise, the apparent lack of any real influence.

I think that that situation is going to change completely upon the creation of the Global Council. An elected representative who is native to the project, trusted by the local community to handle such issues, knowledgeable about the relevant topics, part of the local conversation, and respectful of community opinion, is likely to ameliorate many of the difficulties. Regardless of whether it's formally part of the role, I strongly suspect that many members of the Global Council will act as their community's point of contact with regards to strategy and issues relating to Wikimedia organizations in general. I think it likely that Council members will maintain regular communications with their communities (probably involving dedicated pages on the larger wikis for discussion of strategy/GC issues), and regular communications between members of the council will result in ideas and opinions making their way around relatively easily.

My point here isn't to rehash the justification for the Global Council, it's to point out that there would be benefits to holding some of the strategy transition/implementation discussion specifically after its establishment rather than before. In particular, in those areas where community input is especially important. I think that decisions made after the creation of the GC will be better informed, with broader participation, and have more legitimacy. (That is, assuming the GC itself is viewed as legitimate, which I suspect will probably depend mostly on whether it has a clear community-elected majority.) The transition events, even assuming there will be considerable effort toward encouraging editor participation, will likely have a dearth of community involvement.

My suggestions:

  • Don't plan for the event to involve setting up a full plan for implementation. The event should set up the circumstances whereby a legitimate Global Council can be created, and a very broad outline of noncontroversial short-term (<8 months-ish) preparatory tasks for the various groups, and some documents with a general forecast (not set in stone) of how things are going to go, to try and remove some uncertainty.
  • Don't assume that the people in attendance will be representative of the movement, no matter how much effort goes into recruitment. Aside from bias towards the organizations, participants will also skew away from those who had a less-than-positive view of the previous segments of the strategy process. Ideally, everyone involved would do their best to advocate on behalf of all parts of the movement.
  • One of the major goals of the event should be keeping people on the same page, or at least close to it. Lots of organizing points and information on-wiki.

(Also, one tangential point: In general, the wiki ideal is that anyone can get involved in any area whenever they want without having to ask anyone's permission, and decisions are made by collective consensus of coequal volunteers. The framework and delegates and decision-makers is one we've basically been forced into by circumstances, but we should keep in mind that this is not the "wiki way", and try to bring things closer to the ideal whenever practical.) --Yair rand (talk) 05:46, 3 August 2020 (UTC)Reply

Thanks again, @Yair rand:, for the rich feedback. There's a lot to comment on here, but I'll try to stay on topic:
  • I completely hear your points regarding feedback (as someone who provided volunteer feedback myself in multiple occasions, I also felt that uncertanity of whether I was being heard). What we have tried to mitigate this issue in our last community consultation (January - March 2020) was focused around the two approaches: 1. responding to comments as much as possible and asking for clarity where needed, so we capture things accurately, 2. syntehsizing feedback and sharing the synthesis back with the community (as a feedback summary), to confirm it captures their input, before handing it over to the writers/working groups/Design Group. This is generally the intention for the next significant round of feedback as well, which is scheduled for early August, once the Transition plan's draft is out. How can we improve this further to make people feel heard and ensure the feedback loop is complete?
  • I'm glad that you see the Global Council as a potential solution for many of the problems we've been facing (not necessarily in the Strategy process alone, but pehraps in community-wide consultations and the relationship of communities to organized groups). I share your hopefuleness of better-informed decision with the support of a global committee: however, I think this may not be entirely compatible with your last point. If there can be no delegation or representation of the community in the Transition events, how would that change with a Global Council? Do you think there will be a difference?
  • To build on the previous point, and on your suggestions towards "not assuming" people are representatives, how can we, in your opinion, build a better participation/governance process? As you may have read in the document, there have been two broad suggetions: either we ask people from communities to self-nominate themselves as attendees for the Transition events, or we keep the participation open through a registeration process for whoever is interested. Do you support any of these two approaches? Do you see another, better way to get the communities and organized groups together in Transition events in spite of their different governance methods?
Hope that's not too many questions (please don't feel obliged to answer all of them if you don't have the time, I'm just curious to have your input now that we're so close to the first draft of the plan) --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 11:57, 5 August 2020 (UTC).Reply
Abbad (WMF), first I would like to agree with and greatly amplify Yair rand's criticism of the strategy process thus far. Before it began, there were repeated calls for it to be a consensus process. The Foundation rejected those calls calls for a consensus process. That was essentially the beginning and end of everything. The too-long-didn't-read summary is: That is what you need to fix.
When I arrived to review the early stage strategy proposals, I could immediately see that the process was completely broken and that attempting to participate was a waste of time. Nonetheless it was important and I attempted to forge forwards trying to participate anyway. I reviewed and commented on some of the items - and I want to draw attention to one in particular. It basically called for scraping all of Wikipedia's core content policies in the name of "equity". I, and a couple of other people, left strongly worded comments that the proposal was utterly non-viable. Almost any experienced editor could tell you that the proposal would not only be overwhelmingly rejected by the community, but that such an initiative would result in a riot and the community seeking to expel the Foundation and seek new hosting for Wikipedia. I came back some time later attempting to "participate" more. I found that the process had proceeded to a new round, the previous feedback had been vanished, and that the proposals had simply been copied over to a new pages. The same proposal, with a newly-blank talk page. I, and several other people, again left strongly worded comments. I came back some time later attempting to "participate" more. I found that all of the previous proposals, and comments, were gone and that staff had come up with some worthlessly vague document supposedly synthesizing the previous proposals, and that they had even included the item about scrapping all of Wikipedia's core content policies in the name of equity. Which, as I indicated, has blatant overwhelming consensus against it and which would result in outright warfare if the Foundation even attempted to pursue it. The strategy process is blatantly and indisputably broken.
We are a consensus based movement, and by explicitly refusing to run a consensus process the Foundation has ended up producing a pile of documents which the community considers to have zero authority and zero legitimacy. At best you have things that are so vague that no one really supports or opposes them (yet), and at worst you have things known to be utterly nonviable. The community will give exactly zero respect to anything contrary to consensus. Trying to move forward with anything contrary-to-consensus will just result in a war with the community.
At this point I want to pause to comment on how the community works. We're sort of like an ant-hive in that all of the work gets done by whatever random individuals show up to work on any particular task. The Foundation seems to think that having community members participate in the strategy process gives it more legitimacy. It doesn't, because there is a fundamental and critical bit that the Foundation rejects. An important aspect of "it's done by whoever shows up" is an expectation that the people who show up might be motivated by a fringe agenda, or might lack the experience or skills to do it well. All of this only works when the proposal is subject to consensus. Under our process anyone is welcome to cook up any sort of proposal or strategy to scrap all of Wikipedia's core policies, and that's OK because it has zero authority and zero legitimacy until it has passed a consensus-RFC.
You basically have three options on how to proceed.
  • Option 1: You don't care whether the community supports any of it, the Foundation is just going to try to ram stuff out regardless. I don't anticipate that would go well, and I don't think many staff actually want this kind of approach.
  • Option 2: The common Foundation approach of having good intentions and caring about what we want, and trying to do the right thing, but failing to plan for, acknowledge, or participate in any sort of consensus process. Unfortunately this historically tends to turn into just a variation on option 1, when the Foundation is surprised by an unexpected (and unwelcome) Global Community Consensus on some subject. While this is somewhat better than option 1, it often doesn't turn out any better to just close your eyes and assume.
  • Option 3: Fix the initial problem, make this a consensus process. Develop the various strategy items with the expectation that they are going to have to pass consensus review. Any that are rejected by consensus can either be re-evaluated&fixed&reproposed, or they need to be discarded. If you genuinely have good intentions, if you are genuinely trying to come up with things that the community supports, there should be no reason not to ask the community to confirm that support. We are a consensus based movement, and this is how you get legitimacy and authority and respect for something. If something has consensus, then the community will squash any disruptive dissent.
Alsee (talk) 09:28, 7 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
Dear Alsee, thank you for your continued engagement in the movement strategy conversations, despite the negative experiences that you highlight above! I am responding here instead of Abbad, because I believe that as the Process Architect of the last stage and current stage of the process I am better positioned to explain the thinking behind it. Abbad (WMF), feel free to add anything that you feel might be helpful in creating clarity.
Thank you for (re-)surfacing the concerns regarding the process in general and the issue of not arriving to the consensus around the recommendations in particular. I do understand that this is a significant barrier for continued / renewed (good faith) engagement of (bigger) online communities. I would like to highlight some of the process issues I see in this to think together how we could overcome a rather complex situation.
The biggest issue we have regarding the process design and possibly running the RfCs for global topics is that we do not really have a functional platform where we can have constructive conversations and bring communities together across the projects. Of course, meta has been designed to be that platform, but over the course of its existence there is an increasing number of contributors who do not find the conversations on meta neither helpful nor productive and refrain from participation in the discussions. One of the problems highlighted regarding the discussions on meta is that often there is a lack of civility in the discourse and lack of will to listen to counter-arguments, which diminishes the will for participation even more. This means that in the discussion on meta it is only possible to reach out to a rather narrow representation of people across the projects, which is not sufficient to run a meaningful RfC. There is a running gag among online communities and offline organizers: "It's on meta!", which basically means: 1) it would be difficult to find the information or discussion page about the topic, 2) and even if you find it, it is not meaningful to waste energy to participate in the discussion, because it does not lead anywhere. How, in your perspective, we could overcome this and ensure that we would have a functional platform for global conversations (again)?
This does not mean that the conversations across projects do not happen at all. Unfortunately though, they have moved to social media spaces and so we have a number of Telegram and Slack channels, WhatsApp and Facebook groups, etc. There are active conversations and disputes happening there, but as they are not on our platforms they do not meet our standards of openness and transparency, which is fine for the functionality of the conversations, but not so helpful for validation of the conversations happening on these platforms. The main argument for using these platforms is that it is much more efficient and easier to use when it comes to conversations and disputes. People have also described these spaces to be more constructive and safe, which makes contributing more meaningful. There have been attempts to build more social media like interaction platforms in Wikimedia, most recently Wikimedia Space, but they have not caught the traction.
Another platform for cross-project / cross-affiliate discussions have been global and regional conferences and in-person meetings where many collaborative projects across the projects / affiliates start or improve. Even though these in-person conversations are really constructive and fruitful, the issue is that participation there is rather limited and also in often cases the documentation is not substantial, so it is difficult for people who did not have the chance to participate in a certain convening to catch up and understand the full context of the discussions had or decisions made.
Taking this all into account, it becomes evident that in the current state it is really difficult to run a true or legitimate consensus process across the projects and organizations. The main reason being that the global situation is much different than it is in one particular project, where the project itself is the main engagement platform. For global conversations there are people who prefer to discuss things on meta, others that prefer social media platforms and then people who are most comfortable with in-person conversations.
In the movement strategy discussions we tried to take the approach of meeting the people where they are. This meant that in addition to posting to online projects, we had Strategy Liaisons engaging with people in online spaces and also a number of Strategy Salons happening across the globe for in-person engagement. In this approach we were more successful when it came to managing the social media and in-person events and less successful in online engagement, which has also created the frustration for people most well-versed in online and meta participation. What would be your suggestions in tackling the complexity of the global conversations? How, in your perspective, would it be possible to run a global consensus process and get a sufficiently representative participation there?
When we look in more detail to the online conversations, I see the mistakes on two levels. First of all, the framing for the engagement was unclear, so people entered the discussion with expectations that were misaligned with the intent of the consultation. Secondly, we did not manage to create internal clarity on how to manage responses to the incoming information, which resulted in lack of engagement on meta from our side. Regarding the framing, in August and September 2019 we were not really having a RfC, but rather were looking for a peer review and general feedback. Coming with a mindset that this is a RfC was not helpful and was discouraging for both parties - the one requesting a peer review and the other entering a RfC in their mind. Regarding the responses, the general design for the process was that the working groups were working on the thematic areas and so were holders of the content and as a result we did not want to intervene with the core team (i.e. staff supporting the process) in responding to the content questions. At the same time we had not provided clear guidelines for the working groups for engagement and did not provide sufficient support, which was not helpful. Some of the groups did well in managing the situation, e.g. advocacy, where group members showed up and championed the incoming questions. In others the unclarity was not helpful and so there were some individual responses, but way too many comments and suggestions were left unanswered on meta, which evidently and for good reasons discouraged the participation on the community side. The input felt unappreciated and as you put it the process itself felt "blatantly and indisputably broken". I would like to highlight though that this silence did not mean that the feedback was not taken into account and actually there were discussions about the input and feedback in the working groups about this. The issue was that there was not a clear and transparent change log that would have made the changes more clear and the process more transparent. In my view, however, the shortcomings in the online process do not automatically invalidate the input received from other channels and we should value the time and effort of the contributors, especially considering the fact that they put an effort to delivering reports on meta, so the suggestions and feedback would be visible. What would you add to this diagnosis of the key shortcomings from the discussion last August and September? What are the key aspects I might be overlooking and essential for the future conversations?
What did we learn from this? In the next stage of conversations we had in January: 1) we had a clear distribution of roles when it came to responding to the comments and we tried to ensure that no feedback is left unanswered, 2) when we were unclear about the nature of feedback we tried to clarify to get to the essence of it, to make it more useful and increase the possibility of integration of the feedback, 3) the change log was created to highlight the changes that were made based on the feedback to make that part really explicit. What are the other improvements you would suggest? How can we ensure more transparency around the integration of the feedback? How can we ensure that the value of the contributions is better perceived?
The main issue that I see in these discussions is that 1) we lack a constructive platform for the conversations, 2) we have not really reached a constructive dialogue / multilogue about some of the key topics. There are still differences of understanding not only regarding the solutions to the problems and challenges, but in some cases even regarding the problem situation or statement itself. This is not helpful. I see that transition events can actually function as a good platform for the discussions. Now the key questions is how do we ensure that we have 1) people participating in that space, 2) people enter the conversation with sufficient good faith to listen to the arguments of people who disagree with their perspective, 3) we come to an alignment regarding the problems we are trying to solve to build a stronger movement, 4) we agree (or come to a consent) regarding the solutions in context that are to be implemented. This is the task at hand for the Design Group. As resolving the issues around the global conversations are quite complex, it is helpful to have more eyes look at the plan this group is proposing, so we can improve it and notice the gaps or possible shortcomings. This is why we are currently asking for feedback in a peer review format.
I apologize for a rather long answer. I do hope that this helps to clarify some points around the design of the movement strategy process, so we can come to a good conversations on how to improve the process and make it more relevant and helpful for more people with passion for the future of our movement. Thank you so much for your time and kind attention! --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 11:53, 11 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
KVaidla (WMF), thanks for jumping in.
It sounds like we basically agree that the process so far hasn't produced a sufficient result. As you said, we have not really reached a constructive dialogue / multilogue about some of the key topics. Can we agree that the process thus far has not produced a reliable or authoritative result? If you try to roll forwards implementation without including a consensus stage in your plan, you'll just end up with an unplanned consensus stage organized by the community. (As has happened many times in the past.)
Alsee, thank you for your further reflections on the topic and sorry for a bit delayed reply. I will answer to your points in line.
I think there is still not alignment or shared understanding between us regarding the nature of the result. This probably means that any attributes we connect to it (e.g. reliable<>unreliable) are probably misaligned.
The recommendations are a product of a collaborative process engaging deeply nearly 100 participants in writing the recommendations. It did not seem reasonable or feasible to run a full consensus / consent process across all the communities for discussions with such a wide scope, because it is nearly impossible for all the people to be informed about all the topics or themes and so the conversations would have had a lot of noise and it would be hard to make any progress. As a result, the working group model was chosen and they were assembled with diverse profiles, representing different perspectives in the movement. From the design perspective this seems as a good approach for balancing the need for weighing diverse perspectives in the process and making progress with the conversations at the same time.
In addition around thousand people were involved in different types of conversations, consultations or peer reviews (e.g. in-person strategy salons for initial feedback and feedback events on consolidated recommendations) to inform the recommendations. The peer review process included 3 periods for providing feedback in online spaces, mostly on meta. This feedback was integrated in the recommendations. Unfortunately there is not a detailed change log for the August and September discussions, because we did not manage to create one across all the 9 working groups, but we did learn and created one for the later conversations to really surface the changes that were made based on the feedback.
All this work resulted in 1) recommendations with a significant alignment across different groups (some of them being on a rather high level where details need to be crafted out in context), 2) recommendations that are more controversial and where are more polarized opinions across the movement. However, based on the feedback and energy in the conversations, these are noted as important topics that we need to resolve (writers of the recommendations have provided their suggestion, but in some cases there is the note for further consultations and research to be conducted for implementation), 3) principles for the implementation of the recommendations.
This means that the result of the process so far are the recommendations from a diverse representative group to the whole movement (including organizations and project communities) for future systemic change. This representative group also received a wide range of feedback across the communities and it was integrated or informed the recommendations. These recommendations make suggestions for resolving longstanding challenges and seizing opportunities for the future development of the movement. There is not indeed a movement wide consensus regarding these recommendations, but a consent was facilitated inside the groups and as the working groups held a rather wide perspective across the movement and recommendations were developed taking into account a wide range of feedback, it provides them a significant amount of gravity and reliability.
Regarding the implementation of the recommendations - it needs to happen in context. As the recommendations currently stand, they are on a rather high level and so we need a transition process prior to the implementation. This will include discussions around prioritization and sequencing of the recommendations, distribution of roles for delivering them and also financial aspects. For a number of recommendations it has also been stated that further research or consultation with the communities is needed, so there is a clear need for further discussions. It does not make sense to run a consensus processes for a wide scope discussions, but for to be effective, the scope for consensus process needs to be specific and well defined. It makes sense to define the changes and actions that would need a consensus process for implementation in the transition process. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
  • A planned consensus process will not always give the Foundation the outcome it desires, but a planned and collaborative approach will always be better than getting blindsided by an unplanned, unilateral, hostile RFC result.
This statement has a strong assumption that there are clear desired outcomes for Wikimedia Foundation in consultations. I am rather unsure about this, because consultations are usually held when there is a genuine interest in the opinion of the community to either steer or inform the future course of action. I can see where this comment is coming from in the light of the recent controversy around rebranding consultations, but it does not hold true for the movement strategy consultations. In any case, the framing for the consultations needs to be clear and this is the shortcoming of the movement strategy consultations in last year - while we were running a peer review for improving or guiding the recommendations, people took it as a RfC, which was not helpful. We need to ensure that in the future engagement the framing is much more clear and expectations are better aligned. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
  • The Foundation has a bad perception and experience with consensus because, in general, it only deals with consensus after a situation has already become a trainwreck.
Again the perception you describe is probably based on a misalignment in expectations. Consensus is not relevant for all the processes and sometimes there is just a need to seek some input from the communities to improve the process. It is an unhealthy approach to tackle each and every consultation as a consensus process. As stated in previous comment, the framing needs to be really clear to manage the expectations. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
  • The Foundation often argues consensus is imperfect or too difficult. Those arguments have never been accepted as a valid excuses. (Quick check on your userpage...) Do you think anyone in Estonia would accept "democracy is imperfect and too difficult" from someone advocating dictatorship?
I'm calling out a False dilemma fallacy for this one. There is a wide spectrum of different approaches to democracy from a full participatory democracy to different representative models. Not pursuing a specific type of democracy does not mean that the model used is automatically a dictatorship.
In most of the world democracies referendum is a rarely used tool and it is used only for clear and specific topics. For a successful referendum there is a huge amount of informing that needs to be done to ensure that people are actually making an informed decision. In the example of Estonia the last public referendum was held in 2003. We are completely fine that most of the decisions are being made by a representative body in the parliament and it feels as a democratic solution for us. I think that most of the Estonians would agree that putting high number of questions to a public referendum would be too complicated and too slow to support the progress of the country and it would make it difficult to adapt our policies to the changes in global economical and political environment. Happy to debate that further, but your argument feels more like a straw man argument than an objective description of current affairs. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
  • The Foundation sometimes tries to pursue transparency, accountability, public process, public documentation, making people feel heard, etc etc etc, as substitutes for consensus. Those things may or may not be helpful in generating good proposals, but they have zero value as a substitute for consensus. You can use any process whatsoever for generating proposals, most proposals have no more process than a single individual coming up with a viable idea and putting it out there. The thing that matters is whether the proposal has consensus.
As explained above - the consensus is useful in some occasions. In most occasions it is more important to hear the different perspectives to improve and adapt the plans. For such consultations the value is completely different than the one for consensus processes. We need to be clear where the consensus processes have value and where they are actually redundant. Again, we need to ensure that the framing for the processes is made really clear - it is indeed unhelpful if a consensus process is planned, but instead a peer review is being announced; it is as unhelpful when people come to the process and taking it for a consensus process while it is actually just about seeking feedback and guidance. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
  • Meta is the standard and accepted place for addressing global consensus, although you will often get higher participation in wiki-local discussions. Let's run through that a moment. If the Foundation simply opens a discussion on EnWiki, that represents virtually half the global community in one shot. It is mathematically close to impossible for a global consensus which is opposite to a strong EnWiki consensus. But the Foundation can and should do better. Trivially copy-paste that proposal to Commons and all the other English wikis and you have a clear majority of the global community. Assuming significant agreement with EnWiki, that pretty much constitutes a de facto global consensus. But the Foundation can and should do better. The Foundation is perfectly capable of translating a proposal into a reasonable and manageable number of languages, starting at the largest language and working down the list. That can be posted to those language wikis. That approach will quickly and reasonably cover the bulk of the global community. At that point it is entirely reasonable for the Foundation to leave an open invitation for volunteers to further translate and bring it to any remaining wikis. Consensus is a fuzzy process, it's not about perfection it's about making a good faith effort to reach a reasonable and workable consensus. The Foundation's arguments that it is unable to do this are a very thin excuse. I am a single random editor with zero resources, and I have worked across multiple wikis successfully organizing what was effectively a Global Community Consensus. If I can do it, the Foundation can certainly do it better.
The issue with the on-wiki consensus processes is that they have a really low level of participation, which creates a huge issue with the mathematics behind that. Also there is a confusion regarding the assumptions - while your assumption seems to be that everyone who does not participate in the consensus process provide their consent, it is not necessarily so, as the main reason for waived participation is unawareness, disinterest, or in a small number of cases mistrust that the participation would make any difference. In rough numbers there are about 125,000 active editors on en.wp. Now if you get even 125 different users participating in a process that is still only 0.1% of the number of total active users. Which means that it does not really make sense to make calculations based on the size of the project, but rather look at the absolute numbers of engagement. In this perspective, as en.wp is a big project it is probably more possible to get higher level of engagement from en.wp users, also supported by the fact that global discussions are often held in English, but I would be really cautious with automatic calculation in global RfC based on the size of the project. I hope my explanation makes sense.
At the same time I agree with your suggestion - there needs to be further work put into translations to get better engagement across the communities, where people can participate and discuss in their own language. This is also a suggestion made by the design group for the engagement in the transition events and it is a useful process for both peer review and RfC processes. Thank you for making this suggestion! --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
  • Citation needed on your assertion that there's a problem with Meta. The most notable recent complaints about civility I'm aware of on Meta were staff warring against overwhelming consensus. The claims of incivility that I checked all turned out to be frivolous. Given the level of dishonesty, gross disrespect, and warfare by those staff, I'm almost surprised that apparently no community members were angered to actual incivility. Beyond that, I am aware of the Foundation stepping in on Meta to protect abusive individuals from being sanctioned by the community (Requests_for_comment/Do_something_about_azwiki). I am also aware that in general people may grumble when their fringe agenda or ideas are firmly rejected by the majority - if that's what you're referring to then that clearly does not indicate any sort of problem. I'm certainly willing to look at any evidence there is a problem with Meta, but in any case a series of wiki-local RFCs are a valid alternative to a Meta-RFC.
Calling out [citation needed] here is valid. Unfortunately, this is based on the anecdotal evidence (as comment from Ymblanter below. I am not referring to fringe agendas being rejected, but rather I have heard complaints about passive-agressive or completely disruptive communication style and lack of argumentation in the disputes, which makes constructive dialogue impossible. The incremental improvement I see is a continued engagement model to facilitate the discussions and calling out uncivil discourse when it occurs. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
  • The Foundation's Talk pages consultation_2019 had no difficulty successfully finding Global Community Consensus. It just needed a manager telling staff that the job assignment was to find the consensus of the community, rather than a job assignment to reach a particular result.
As I said above, I believe RfCs are helpful for clearly defined topics. The example you provide is in my perspective exactly that and I believe it makes sense to have RfCs about such topics in the future, also in relation to the movement strategy implementation. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
In short the key problem with the process so far is that the Foundation appears to be treating the current work-product as somehow legitimate/authoritative/binding. Beyond that it doesn't appear that the people involved weren't given any instructions that the work-product needed to be acceptable to general consensus. As a collective they have either been uninterested or unsuccessful in stewarding the product on behalf of general consensus. The community dreads the prospect of (another) major crisis when the Foundation apparently intends attempt to implement things that are widely opposed.
I think it would be really difficult to facilitate general consensus around the work product and so the choice was made to work with the working groups being informed by public consultations. Regarding the implementation we need to ensure that further research and consultations are conducted for controversial topics. We need to define them well in the transition phase. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
If you want to add a consensus stage to the plan, I'm more than happy to help. I have significant experience and expertise in this area, which I can cite if helpful. Notably, I recently created the EN:Wikipedia:Village pump (WMF) page to facilitate my work trying to bridge the gap between Foundation and community. I see you've found it, grin. Alsee (talk) 19:16, 12 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
I would be happy to learn from your experience and thank you for proposing your help. Maybe you could link to some of the processes you have run, so I can browse them and come back with any specific questions I might have regarding them. Would that make sense? Thank you again for your engagement and for sharing your reflections! --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:51, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
KVaidla (WMF) Maybe you could link to some of the processes you have run: I've been an informal liaison between the community and Foundation for about six years, involved in almost every significant item between Foundation and community. So I'll just pull together some noteworthy items. To start on a positive note, I saw the manager on the Hovercards/Article_Preview_Popup project was disappointed that he couldn't fully include images in the article previews. (The Board published a policy explicitly prohibiting staff from even attempting to circumvent community policy constraints on Fair Use of non-free content.) I told him I expected community consensus would approve an exception to allow unrestricted use of images in the product. I then delivered that consensus and I rewrote EnWiki copyright policy, enabling a significant enhancement to the product. (We only dealt with EnWiki but other wikis either don't have non-free images, or surely would agree with the consensus.) On a less positive note I have significant experience offering staff accurate assessments and forecasts of community consensus, trying (generally unsuccessfully) to alert them to impending problems, and then unfortunately terminating those projects. I exhaustively tried warn the team that the 2017Editor design was fatally flawed, but the manager didn't want to fix it. Here's the RFC where I effectively halted the 2017Editor project. The Foundation spent 6 years pursuing the Flow project. They ignored all feedback on Flow. I organized consensus across three wikis. First I organized EnWiki consensus to eliminate the Flow pages, then I successfully negotiated with staff for the full uninstall of Flow from EnWiki (avoiding an ugly RFC which would have an obvious and mutually-agreed outcome), then I and other editors brought the matter to Executive Director Lila Tretikov getting the project indefinitely suspended, then I made sure the Meta RFC resulted in a full uninstall, and then when the team tried to restart the project I organized an uninstall consensus on Commons. The Foundation then insisted on running it's own "consultation", but the result was inevitable given the cross-wiki consensus I had already delivered. All development and deployment of Flow have been terminated. On the Gather project, I exhaustively warned the liaison and project manager that there was a major problem and I begged them to open a dialog with the community. That was ignored. I then alerted the executive director of the situation, and the failure of staff to address the problem, and that inaction would result in a unilateral RFC from the community. Ignored. Due to a family cancer crisis I temporarily withdrew, someone else wrote the RFC that terminated the Gather project. Six months before the Single Edit Tab project was even announced I tried to alert staff that the default setting was going to be an issue. Not only were my warnings ignored, the manager deployed the project and went non-responsive to all attempts at communication. Due to his non-responsiveness I had to escalate the issue to Director Katherine Maher's talk page. She had to summon the manager to answer my questions. He gave his assurance that he'd fix the product, but he lied. He did nothing. When I pressed for a progress report he responded that he had no intention of fixing it. At that point other editors were involved and one of them wrote a hack for the sitewide javascript to override his code. At that point he issued an insult and departed to go fix it. It was yet another project were all work terminated.
There's more I could list but it's getting overlong. In short, I do not enjoy killing Foundation projects. To be honest, I'm getting tired of it. Time after time I have tried to warn staff of an impending problem, begged for some shred of collaboration, with little success.
Back to the current matter: I know you think you have a reasonable and reliable set of recommendations, with some merely "controversial details" to work out. I am desperately trying to alert you that you're sitting on a firebomb. There are parts of the recommendations with essentially zero percent support outside the team that wrote it. Those items are so clueless and so destructive and so radical-fringe that there is functionally no real controversy, they will be violently rejected by close to 100% of the community. Imagine a recommendation that the Foundation only be staffed by straight-white-male-Christians. That is not "controversial", that is utterly and explosively non-viable. That is basically what you're sitting on.
I am trying to help. If you include a consensus stage before implementation, any explosive items can be safely defused and other items can move forward. The alternative is a community-initiated unilateral RFC detonating the firebomb items. It would almost certainly declare the entire strategy process dysfunctional, illegitimate, null, void. Please don't get sidetracked on the details of the recommendations, please don't get sidetracked on past-process. It doesn't matter how the recommendations were created. The important topic is the future process. I keep asking you the same question and getting no answer: Are you willing to incorporate a consensus stage for proposals that impact the community? Or do you plan to (attempt to) roll out the recommendations by force? Alsee (talk) 02:16, 22 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
@Alsee: Not to take away from your point, but the English Wikipedia is more like a third of the global community, give or take a few percentage points depending on how you measure it. --Yair rand (talk) 20:55, 12 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
Let me leave just a couple of remarks, because I can not answer all of this, nor I am necessarily qualified. (i) There are issues which must not be decided by consensus. Remember, on Wikipedia we decide by consensus only issues which are directly or indirectly related to content of the English Wikipedia. One can not decide by consensus for example how the budget is spent. There is a good reason the people in real life do not decide by a direct vote whether to pay taxes (well, I know, there are a few exceptions, but let us not distract from the mainstream). (ii) putting everything for an RfC does not work in terms of the time planning. We have a Meta RfC on rebranding, which was open I believe in February, the consensus was clear after a week, however, attempts to close it after one or two months were rejected, with the motivation that more people might have wanted to participate. It is still open. If we go with this pace, we are not going to have the 2030 strategy implemented by 2030. (iii) I can not really support the notion that it is enough to get consensus of the English Wikipedia, or just a few biggest projects. If for a moment I put my hat of an active editor and administrator of the Russian Wikivoyage, a project with a couple of dozen active participants, our problem is indeed that nobody cares what we think, because we are not large enough, and even crucial things which we really need are not being implemented because the developers do not allocate time for this, and we, even if we take Wikivoyage in all languages, just do not have sufficient manpower to code them. Even if we think of the representative democracy (which we are not, and not going to be even with the Global council in place), this is not how it works. It is to protect the minorities, not to disregard their needs when those are not aligned with the majority. (iv) Having said this, I fully agree that some forms of consensus building are absolutely needed, and must be incorporated into the process. In my view, what we are really discussing at this stage, is how these forms would look like, how they are built in the process, and how their result is being incorporated in the decision-making. (I actually fully agree with Kaarel that Meta in 99% of the cases does not give any useful input - I have been a Meta participant since 2007, and I know that RfCs, except for high-profile ones, may last for years and get closed as no consensus, and that most people would only come here if being provided with a direct reference and a clear instruction what they should do - and even then, only if they speak English.--Ymblanter (talk) 07:12, 13 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
Ymblanter I think you and I generally agree on this stuff.
  • (i) Items that directly impact the community either need consensus, or at absolute minimum, must not be actively contrary to consensus. When it comes to things like Foundation finances, that's out of scope for the community. However considering that the Foundation is casting all of this as some Grand Movement Strategy, claiming that this speaks for the entire movement or carries some grand authority of the entire movement, then there's an arguable case that all of it should go up for consensus to justify labeling it as such.
  • (ii) The rebranding RFC could have (and would have) been closed in a week if not for Foundation dysfunction. Everyone is waiting to see whether the board effectively orders them to comply. There's no reason to close that RFC unless or until the community wants take action itself. It's left open because if we get to that point then the larger the consensus the better. Regarding this Strategy process and the time for consensus, this has been going for over two years already. The recommendations, such as they are, still amount to little more than uncooked substance-free garbage soup with no end in sight. Scheduling a month (or even a week) at the end to run an RFC is insignificant, and it would be a time saver. Not scheduling for consensus will predictably result in the Foundation flushing an additional half year down the toilet trying to fight community-organized consensus.
  • (iii) Consensus and small wikis, I think you misunderstood me. I am working get a voice for small wikis. I think you and I probably have roughly the same vision on that. However small wikis will never get a voice without first dealing with the Foundation's refusal to respect community and consensus in general. Small wikis will never get a voice, except by gathering as community with larger wikis. My comment was calling out the Foundation's dishonest excuses for refusing to budge an inch. When we get that inch, we can better gather and assist smaller wikis.
  • (iv) some forms of consensus building are absolutely needed, and must be incorporated into the process, I think you need to check with KVaidla on that. I would be delighted to be proven wrong, but thus far all I'm hearing is the typical Foundation-speak we get when they know their answer is a problem. It consists of saying as many nice-sounding things as possible, engaging in verbal gymnastics avoiding saying "no" out loud, and a brick-wall refusal to say yes. I would be delighted to see you get unambiguous agreement from KVaidla to incorporate the necessary consensus into the process. Just be sure to pay very careful attention to whether the replies actually answer that point. Alsee (talk) 05:49, 20 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
@Kaarel: This is the first I've heard of the change log and feedback summaries for communities and trustees. Perhaps I had already disengaged from the process by the time they appeared. Back in January it still didn’t feel like people were being listened to. But that’s just my impression; it would be interesting to talk to the editors who posted to meta and see if they noticed a change in approach. Pelagic (talk) 21:30, 13 August 2020 (UTC)Reply
Pelagic, thank you for the feedback! I think your experience story is relevant for a number of users and that posed a problem with conversations in January and is also in the background for future engagements. During the consultation in last August and September (around the 2 first iterations of the recommendations) the participants did not feel heard as there was lack of responsiveness to the comments from the working groups and the core team. The recommendations changed based on the feedback, but as the changes did not get clearly communicated, they were overlooked. As a result, people got disengaged for the later conversations or projected the experience to the discussions in January and February. I believe that this has also resulted in overlooking the changes made in reporting back and closing the feedback loops following the conversations.
I do believe, however, that the reports and change logs are a good improvement and we plan continuing using them in the future discussions to have more clarity regarding the topics of discussion and changes made based on the feedback that we are receiving. Any further suggestions for improvement would be appreciated.--KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 07:33, 19 August 2020 (UTC)Reply

Timeline update? edit

Per the timeline on this page, the preparation of the online events is supposed to be from August to September, and and the actual events are supposed to begin in September. It is currently more than a week into September, and the displayed "active" phase is still about the event plan draft, prior to the beginning of event preparation. Could we get an update on things, please? --Yair rand (talk) 07:37, 8 September 2020 (UTC)Reply

Yes, I think it was shifted, but it is better to have it confirmed by someone from the WMF transition team.--Ymblanter (talk) 10:50, 8 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
Thanks Ymblanter. Hi Yair rand, thanks for your patience. We are hoping to send out communication to affiliates and update Meta this week on Friday. Based on Design Group discussions, we are thinking to start with 6 language and 6 regional preparation events, which should together cover a large cross-section of the movement. The events would be affiliate / community-led based on expressed interest. The Support Team would provide guidance, templates for collecting information, and other needed support. It would be ideal if Design Group members can also take part in the preparation events to share information out and invite affiliates and communities to organize further local discussions or thematic events to start prioritizing the recommendations and actions+changes. Should be quite straightforward ... fingers crossed. Let me know if you have any thoughts in advance or on the update when shared, hopefully by the end of the week. Thanks. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 18:54, 9 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
The new timeline is still a bit confusing. We seem to have three different versions of the types of events:
  • In the events outline, we have "Preparation", "Focused events", "Global events", and "Follow-up events", taking place from September to December.
  • In the Overview PDF, we have "Preparation events" (September-October), "Thematic events" (October), "Global events" (October-November), "Follow-up events" (December-). Mostly the same.
  • On this page, there's just "Prioritization events" ("Mid to late October") and "global discussions" (November), with the overall event schedule going from September to November.
--Yair rand (talk) 18:25, 24 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
Thanks Yair rand, they really are all the same, just varying levels of detail and focus based on the frequent ask to keep things simple. Preparation events became called prioritization to directly name what the output would be, we had this feedback a few times, "what will be preparing for? What's the outcome of these calls?". People weren't sure what we meant by preparation. We also had feedback that many affiliates are busy at the moment with annual planning for next year, so prioritization works quite well without asking for extra work. Focused events and thematic events are also the same, and we picture these as global conversations. If communities have the energy to organize a thematic or focused call in October, that would be great. The Support Team is considering the Interim Global Council as a major theme and a global discussion, and is planning to host related calls in November. Others, as major themes emerge or as communities organize to host them. And in all honesty, with everything going on in the world, we anticipate that some people will meet shortly after the global meetings wrap up to have local discussions again to report back and discuss remaining details. For the majority though, this may not happen until January and we wanted to be flexible for that, hence December onwards for the follow-up events. Follow-up events will quite likely become the start of implementation and it makes sense to have them in December and pouring over into Jan as we hammer out the final details of implementation. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 18:57, 28 September 2020 (UTC)Reply


Affiliates and communities are kindly invited to host local preparation or thematic events to discuss implementing Movement Strategy. At these virtual events, groups and individuals would discuss what priorities from amongst the 10 recommendations or 45 initiatives matter most to them. Preparation events can be for different regions, languages or topics. It may be possible to reallocate existing budget from cancelled in-person events, please contact your grants officer first. More information about the events, including templates for capturing information and guidance on facilitation and documentation will be provided very soon.

For now, please indicate below or email us at strategy2030 if you are interested to host an event relevant for your community. Exciting times ahead!!! MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 22:18, 10 September 2020 (UTC)Reply

Preparation Events edit

Username Affiliation Time and date Notes
Shanluan (talk) 22:26, 16 September 2020 (UTC)Reply Wikimedians of the Caribbean Sept. 19 @ 17.30 UTC (LINK) Excited to have guest Medhrdad Pouzaki at the Wiki Cari Festival to discuss the priorities for implementing the movement strategy recommendations.
Anass Sedrati (talk) 20:24, 26 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
--Abbad (talk) 21:21, 26 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
--Reda benkhadra (talk) 21:36, 26 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
Abdeaitali (talk) 07:48, 27 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
--Areen Aburumman (talk)
Soukaina Abelhad (talk) 21:23, 28 September 2020 (UTC)--دنيا (talk) 11:13, 30 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
Wikimedia Morocco - Wikimedians of the Levant - Arab Wikimedians Committee October 17 (Time TBD) This event will be a partnership between Wikimedia Morocco, Wikimedians of the Levant and the Arab Wikimedians Committee.

Helping community familiarity with the recommendations edit

The strategy recommendations are long and unreadable for most volunteers, and there's no real space for discussing the particular components. Some steps that might help with this:

  • Make a list of initiatives, filtering/splitting out:
    • all recommendations that aren't particularly relevant for the editing community (eg things that are entirely about the organizations, finance, etc),
    • all non-specifically-actionable recommendations (eg "increased awareness", "facilitate a culture of documentation", and the rest of the general "be better at these things" initiatives; the community has plenty of general priorities, but don't bring them up if they're not going to be considered relevant),
    • things with dependencies on other recommendations,
    • things that are already in progress (UCoC, Okapi, reporting systems), where giving strategy-level feedback won't do anything.
  • Have the list include meaningful/readable summaries of each initiative.
  • Write up clearly written, "articles-style" (descriptive rather than imperative) pages for the topics of each (either here on Meta or on Mediawiki). Using some quotes from the recommendations is fine, but there should be full sentences. Pull from context where helpful. Reword things from the recommendations for clarity without changing the meaning. Link to these pages from the list. The page titles should match the topics, not the initiative names or descriptions.
  • Sort things into meaningful categories. Some ideas for categories: New software features, proposed processes/process changes, long-term projects... (Unsure about any of these.) There's no reason to stick to the ordering used in the recommendations text itself.

The existing list at Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition/List of Initiatives can be helpful, but it has a lot of isolated confusing sentence fragments and not a lot of explanation, and is very difficult to read. The current setup is not a good format for collaboratively building up everyone's understanding or for moving towards decisions. --Yair rand (talk) 09:29, 15 October 2020 (UTC)Reply

The idea was to use these online events for this - in particular, to understand what consequence strategic recommendations could have for editing communities - but obviously it does not work, since there are currently no volunteers to do this work.--Ymblanter (talk) 12:53, 17 October 2020 (UTC)Reply
@Yair rand: Thanks Yair for these concerns. I believe most of your suggestions make sense, here are some thoughts:
  • It so happens that I marked the List of Initiatives for translation last week and it ended up with crica 300 statements for translation. I do agree that this is not so readable nor translatable for most volunteers. I'm now working on a much simpler list that includes the information you've suggested (i.e. initiatives in-progress and community relevance, as for dependencies/sequencing, that may come later on). I'll ping you as soon as it's available. We'll also keep the detailed list on Meta for reference purposes.
  • While some sort of an initiative summary would be indeed very helpful, I feel that creating this summary is somwhat related to the next suggestion youv'e made.
  • I do agree that dedicated pages for each initiative would be amazing (I'm really happy to see the Global Council one in place). Nevertheless, given the current amount of "source material" we have (i.e. the recommendations text) there may not be a whole lot to include in most of these pages, unless we start adding more content to it. It would be great to have conversations already going on about some of the initiatives to provide this content: without such conversations, however, there could be little to be said. The initiatives themselves are still broad ideas to be polished (e.g. the recommendations currently contain several descriptions of what "Hubs" could be).
  • The cateogires idea makes complete sense to me and I'll also be working on it.
As a next step, I'll be sharing a simpler list here on Meta (aiming to deliver in a couple of days). I'll later add summaries and categories as fit. Happy to hear more thoughts --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 17:00, 20 October 2020 (UTC).Reply
@Yair rand: Re: This is a preliminary version. It still lacks the initiative by initiative summary, but I would still welcome any feedback you have --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 13:48, 23 October 2020 (UTC).Reply
You marked the Interim Global Council as in progress, but there is no link (as opposed to OKAPI and UCOC). --HHill (talk) 19:23, 23 October 2020 (UTC)Reply
Looks good. I would add initiatives 29 ("Enhance communication and collaboration capacities", which mentions improving "communication channels and spaces between developers and communities") and 33 ("Skill development infrastructure", mentions on-wiki skills, "editing and any other form of on-wiki participation") to "Affects online projects". #35 ("movement wide knowledge base") affects Meta specifically, so I don't know how that would be categorized. 23 (Interim GC) and 22 (Charter) definitely affect the projects, but it might make sense to treat the GC as a special category of its own, and the Charter work can't begin until after the Interim GC is already established, so I don't know how best to categorize in that area. I'm having difficulty understanding what initiative #44 ("Iterative change processes") means, but it looks like it might belong outside "affects online projects"? --Yair rand (talk) 18:53, 25 October 2020 (UTC)Reply
Thank you both. I've taken in your suggestions regarding initiatives that affect "online projects". I've also added a label for initiatives that may affect the "entire Wikimedia movement" (namely the governance-related ones in recommendation four). Instead of "in-progress", I labelled the Interim Council and the Charter as "priority initiatives", since, according to the recommendations, they're high interlinked with the upcoming implementation phase. Anyway, this table (especially the far right column) will be available for further discussion or direct editing since it's not entirely objective --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 13:00, 27 October 2020 (UTC).Reply

Movement Strategy Update edit

I'm linking here the text of an email about the latest updates regarding Movement Strategy, which was posted by Mdennis (WMF) on Wikimedia-l mailing list a few days ago --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 15:18, 5 April 2021 (UTC).Reply

Return to "Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition" page.