Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Iteration 1/Resource Allocation/C

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it.
Most likely, new comments will not be taken into account by the new three Working Group members in their work of developing the final Recommendations. You are free however to continue discussing in the spirit of "discussing about Wikipedia is a work in progress". :)


I think that this is perhaps the most controversial recommendation in the entire package, and deserves very careful discussion. On the one hand, a different working group is recommending maximum decentralization down from the WMF to the affiliates. There is a recommendation for great a greater paid staff role for advising the affiliates on fundraising and facilitating affiliate discussions. The Diversity task force has recommended quota on the decision makers at every level of the movement. All of this adds up to placing a great deal of additional responsibility and burdens on the movement's volunteers. Now this recommendation is suggesting that because economic circumstances, much of the world's population is not in a position to devote extensive time to volunteer roles. In history, many of the curators of knowledge were monks, and the movement has asked its content creators to make similar sacrifices.

The Working Groups were not asked to put a price tag on each recommendation, but it seems to me that the Roles and Responsibilities recommendation will already add to the expenditures at the affiliate levels. This recommendation would potentially be far more expensive. There is not enough money in the current WMF budget to fully compensate everyone for their volunteer time. Perhaps instead of a compensation structure, the WMF could adopt a financial bonus plan: honoraria for all contributors who reach a certain number of edits or a certain number of featured articles.

There are already tensions and friction between volunteers and paid WMF staff, and any organization with both volunteers and paid workers experience similar problems. The rationale for the existing paid staff is that certain roles require full time attention for work that cannot be performed by volunteers. This recommendation would change that key test to creating paid roles for volunteer tasks just because a set of volunteers (or potential volunteers) are in tight economic circumstances. That change would fundamentally alter the nature of the organization. There is no career path for wiki editing.

If there is some knowledge gap, local universities have already created established career paths to full those gaps and the WMF could solicit applicants for short term grants to fill specific needs. Perhaps the Working Group could give further consideration to these suggestions. Hlevy2 (talk) 11:01, 13 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Much would depend on what work would get compensation, and probably a lot would depend on who got the compensation and why. Any form of compensation for content creation or editing runs the risk of adversely affecting editorial independence, which on some of the larger projects is held as a central dogma. Paying expenses for organising training, meetings etc and attending them, not such a big problem. Projects with really small communities may be happy to have some paid translation done of what they consider important articles, but they should be asked first. Many Wikipedians on ENWP are strongly opposed to paid editing and would prefer to see it completely banned. English Wikipedia does not need paid editing of the content production kind. If there are identified critical gaps on ENWP, amd if people were paid to produce content on another project, and it was licenced in a way that would allow direct re-use on ENWP if the quality was considered good enough by the ENWP editors, then maybe it would be used. Who knows? it might be worth a try. Just don't try to load it directly without prior ENWP community approval. That would be considered disruptive editing and would probably earn an indefinite ban.
Besides the dubious welcome, the money would be better spent on improving smaller Wikipedias where it is needed more, but wherever and whenever it may be used, it should not be loaded into a Wikipedia by a person paid to do so. Cheers, · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 11:50, 29 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi. This is not about paid editing. The recommendation clearly says : "We’re thinking about Boards, and other 'functionary' roles (Fund committees, etc.) that require special privilege access to data/tools, and have a 'term' for their role in which they are considered to be on duty (e.g. 2 years), and for which they are personally responsible." Opsylac (talk) 08:23, 30 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Perhaps the expression functionary should be defined in context. It has caused a lot of confusion in several proposals because it is not clear what it is intended to mean. Opsylac, do you make this statement as an official spokesperson for the Working Group which produced this proposal? · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 18:59, 30 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Pbsouthwood! No I am not a member of the working group. I am pretty close to the strategy process though, since I am "Strategy Liaison" for the French language (here : User:DRanville (WMF)) but I deliberately chose to use my private account to make this point, as I think it isn't part of my official role to interpret recommendations.
About the content of the recommendation: I thought it was pretty clear it wasn't about paid editing, because the examples given (board members, fund comittees) refer to "real life roles" (so to say). But maybe it seems obvious to me because I discussed this recommendation in person with the working group during their worshop at Wikimania. I agree that, out of context and from an editor's point of view, "functionary roles" have a very different connotation. In general, I think that these recommendations have a higher focus on the "IRL Wikimedia community", and aren't enough anchored in the editors' perspective... but... in a way, it's logical, because it is the WMF who started this process, and what they organize is the IRL part - the online organization structure is mostly out of their scope (and that's very ok).
I kind of lost track of your question so to summarize: I'm not in position to make an official statement, but having discussed this recommendations with working group members, I can safely say that it is not about paid editing. Opsylac (talk) 15:34, 2 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Fair enough, but this clarification is also necessary to allow us to assess the probable reliability of your statement. For my part, no problem as you confirm what I expected anyway. I think most of the comments here are from people who are primarily editors, as they are probably the majority by a large margin. The proposals should be more clearly expressed considering that the editor communities were requested to comment, and had little involvement in the planning process. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 15:50, 2 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The second draft of this recommendation includes paid editing more explicitly. It is included along a word of caution, but still included as acceptable: To pick up on a specific point of ‘paid editing’ - we are focused on equalizing priviledges, and in some cases compensating for time in this way may be appropriate. This may be decided on a regional hubs level. I think the discussion needs to continue at the talk page of the new recommendation: Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Sprint/Resource Allocation/C. --MarioGom (talk) 07:28, 25 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Volunteerism and PrivilegeEdit

I appreciate this recommendation for calling out the inherent privilege in volunteerism. I would like to point out another perspective, as a member of the working group capacity building: If we want to walk the talk of the strategic direction, we will need to grow the movement, and build the capacity to do so. Working on content is one thing to do in one's limited volunteer time, but organizing events, fundraising, developing a user group or a chapter, political advocacy, etc etc are all functions needed to grow our movement and allowing more people to join. We cannot expect volunteers to do these alone, people who have to chose between activism and putting food on the table. Therefore, our working group has discussed the need to allocate resources towards recognizing/reimbursing volunteers as well. See our recommendation here.--Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 10:09, 14 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I woukld have no objection to compensating volunteers for this kind of work. (organizing events, fundraising, developing a user group or a chapter, political advocacy, etc. with constraints of only advocacy that is expressly recognised as within the movement's strategy.) · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 11:59, 29 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I think this one's been largely missed, but it sure shouldn't be. Paid editing is quite enough of a problem without us actively contributing to it! Maybe some recommendations could focus on reducing that actual issue? Or in other words, good God no. Seraphimblade (talk) 04:41, 24 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. This is really appalling, and comes close to encouraging violation of the WMF's Terms of Use. Clearly, the way these strategy proposals are being solicited is a total disaster. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:54, 24 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree, too. This way lies the road to madness. - Sitush (talk) 18:20, 24 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Determining who gets paid and who does not based on the color of their skin, their gender, or their sexual identity would be incredibly destructive of morale.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:03, 24 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This working group needs to be disbanded and reformed with people who actually have some involvement in the communities. Jéské Couriano (v^_^v) 03:36, 25 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If anyone suggested paid editing I missed that. I would also generally oppose paid editing on Wikipedias. Paying people for non-editing support work is what happens when they are employed by WMF or one of the chapters with paid staff, or maybe a Wikipedian in residence, and is an entirely different matter. The recommendation should be clearer about what classes of work would be considered for pay, as this is a touchy point and people may jump to conclusions. It is preferable that the conclusions should be the correct ones. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 18:19, 25 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"We need to pay or otherwise compensate people to participate..." We generally equate "participate" with editing, although people on the off-wiki areas may look at things rather differently, I suppose. --Yair rand (talk) 03:10, 26 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A predictable confusion. It would help to spell it out in more detail. It can sometimes also help when people read carefully and ask when unsure, but primary responsibility for communication lies with the authors of the original message. There are many diverse communities involved here. The language used should be as clear and simple as reasonably practicable, and should avoid context sensitive terminology and in-group jargon. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 06:24, 26 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Assunming you are correct, Pbsouthwood, that still presents potential problems. There are numerous examples of inappropriate payments that have landed individuals and/or projects with considerable push-back, at least on en-WP. It is probably better that I do not name any because it would just cause the discussion to be shut down here even though it would not on en-WP. - Sitush (talk) 20:05, 28 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, clarification is necessary. Also it will always remain possible to misuse funds and fund inappropriate projects, and even when the funds are disseminated according to generally accepted policies and to apparently worthy projects, things can still end up a mess, but I don't think that is the point here. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 06:26, 29 August 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Close reading might be sufficient, because the proposal directly says that they're "not leaning towards" paid editing. One of the examples they give is the Funds Dissemination Committee, i.e., a time-limited, non-article-writing role that involves travel. So far, the WMF pays for direct travel costs, but that still means that people who can't afford to take a couple of weeks off work are unable to participate.
Another thing worth remembering, since everyone in this discussion has made tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of edits to the English Wikipedia, is that paid editing is perceived as a major problem only at the English Wikipedia. Commons encourages it, and smaller projects aren't affected by it. So "we" don't want paid editing, or at least not the kind of paid editing that's been such a problem for us, but lots of communities might welcome some forms of paid editing. Even at the English Wikipedia, we'd probably be happy if some of our university-age editors could easily get paid summer jobs as Wikipedians in Residence or to work on technical problems. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:33, 11 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comments from the working groupEdit

On behalf of the resource allocation working group:

Thank you for your comments on this. It is very clear to us that paying people to perform tasks that until now have been performed on a volunteer's basis is contentious and that it sparks difficult discussion. However, volunteerism is inherently a form of privilege, as it means that people who can volunteer have time they are willing and able to spare to do the work. This is what this recommendation is trying to tackle.

We recognize the tremendous value stemming from the volunteer activism in our Movement (including reflection of our values and the in-depth knowledge presented by the volunteers). Nevertheless, we observe natural limits of participation and the insufficient equity in our Movement, which could be mitigated with a resource more generic and less valuable than our volunteers, that is money.

The nature of the tasks, or which people will need to be compensated, may be context-dependent. But if we are serious about equity, this definitely needs to be considered. Daria Cybulska (WMUK) (talk) 14:00, 9 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

From Catalan SalonEdit

Original text here.

We agree on the identification of the current situation and problems we have, but we are not sure how to resolve them.

Work must be done to avoid the “bus factor” (if a bus kills one member, then your community cannot do the things he was doing) and the high costs on a voluntary staff level that are devoted to tasks of greater responsibility. Many approaches in the theorical level are good, but we must see how they are implemented, because a bad implementation could lead to the invalidation of the proposal.

Wikimedia FranceEdit

About paying people to participate in the movement: be more precise about what this will *not* cover. On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Wikimedia France, Pierre-Yves Beaudouin (talk) 11:05, 14 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please clarify the word "privileges".Edit

Thank you for what you suggest but this sentence is not clear: "In order to make resource allocation more equitable for everyone (current and new) we need to give everyone the same opportunities, taking into account those with existing privileges and planning to equitably distribute those privileges to those who lack"

It's not clear about what privileges you are speaking about. If these privileges are related to the Wikimedia communities (i.e. participation to committees) it's clear but if these privileges are "social privileges", it is not clear how this group can decide to resolve these social discrepancies also because it is not up to them to resolve this difference. In this case it would be good to clarify because this is the perception that the community has. --Ilario (talk) 17:54, 14 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ilario, I believe this means that they encourage paying poor people to edit, and letting "privileged" people continue to volunteer. People who have to work 60 or 80 hours each week just to buy food or pay rent do not have the "luxury" of editing Wikipedia as a leisure-time activity. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:23, 10 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
WhatamIdoing I am saying how to continue to motivate a community to volunteer when other people at the same level are paid. The consequence will be that these "privileged" volunteers will leave to find other nice projects (and there are a lot of nice and motivating projects). --Ilario (talk) 21:48, 11 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, that is a risk. If you pay some people, then others may not feel like volunteering to do the same work. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:20, 11 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why someone should keep the privileges?Edit

In case there are some measures to compensate the difference of privileges, may you explain why someone should keep these privileges and not renounce to them since this recommendation would allow them to have new (and probably less onerous) ones? I imagine someone working and probably finding the time to devote to his/her volunteer work with great difficulty, why he/she should keep his/her job and not go into unemployment and take advantage of the measures you propose? --Ilario (talk) 18:00, 14 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some of the "privileges" in question are things like "the electricity is always on at my house" and "the police do not take my computer" and "the unemployment rate in my country is only 6%". You cannot renounce those privileges.
Some people probably would think, "I don't like my job. I want to be paid to edit Wikipedia. This other person is paid to edit, so why should I do the same thing for free?" But it is likely that this program would only exist in poor countries, for smaller Wikipedias or under-represented groups, so most existing editors would not qualify. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:29, 10 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

From equity to the disequityEdit

This sentence is quite critical:

"We are wondering about the angle of allocating resources to increasing diversity on online Wikimedia projects."

Including this sentence in this reccomandation it means opening to the paid editing. Basically the concept is: the diversity is not assured in Wikimedia projects, several resources can be allocated to fill the gap. Considering the sentence at the first opening paragraph (" We need to pay or otherwise compensate people to participate") basically it is paying someone to contribute to the Wikimedia projects -> paid editing.

I agree that the resources should be allocated to solve some thematic areas, but we must not forget that the equityequity, if pushed to its extreme, it's inequality. In fact the risk is that, to resolve certain discrepancies, others are created. In this case this recommendation is quite dangerous precisely because it is too extreme and risks to create contributors more valued than others.

The community must be open to everyone, some measures should be put in place to help some discrepancies (it may be to finance more projects in the diversity area) but these measures cannot neglect the basic principles of the community. --Ilario (talk) 19:59, 14 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Diversity: please clarifyEdit

This recommendation has been created to be more inclusive in terms of diversity. I have had a look in the recommendation of the WUG of diversity and they miss an important point: what will be diversity from now until the 2030?. They use the word "diversity" and you use this word too but what do you mean with that except the usual dichotomy man-woman and North-South? Probably an Observatory to clarify the evolution of this word may be important considering the big stress you are putting on it. The risk, as I said, is to create more marginalized groups and entities if this concept will be blocked. I am working with blind and visual impaired people and they are not marginalized because they are not considered at all (they can't even create a login) and this is the reason why I am saying that probably this measure creates more inequity than equity if the preambles are still tied to very outdated patterns and analysis. --Ilario (talk) 20:11, 14 September 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There are lots of ways to measure diversity, although you're right that "gender" and "race" seem to be the popular topics. Here are a few I've thought of off hand. I'd be that someone like User:Ijon could give us a much bigger list.
  • gender (men, women, non-binary, trans*)
  • sexual orientation (lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, straight)
  • religion (religious vs not; Hindu vs Islam vs Judaism vs Christian vs all the other things.)
  • political orientation (authoritarian vs libertarian; individualism vs communitarianism, etc.)
  • age (teenagers vs young adults vs middle age vs elders)
In terms of really understanding what's recommended, it might be useful to make a list of "What could diversity mean?", pick the current focus areas, and the take some advice from Warren Buffet, and use the rest of the list as a reminder of the kinds of diversity that we're not interested in promoting at this time. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:54, 10 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nice WhatamIdoing, all of those are "sensitive" data. Does it mean that a person should publicly declare his/her religion or sexual orientation or political orientation to be part of a diversity? Basically this strategy is forcing people to renounce to their privacy to be recognized as representative of a diversity.
To explain a little bit: the board of Wikimedia CH some years ago had two LGBTs, elderly people, three different languages, some people having extra-european origins and several different religions representated but unfortunately no women. The FDC evaluated the diversity counting the number of the female, so the board was not considered "diverse". No way to rebut without saying publicly the sexual or the religious orientation of the board. To respect the privacy, the board accepted the label of "no diversity". --Ilario (talk) 21:38, 11 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it depends upon whether you are thinking about Wikipedia editors, or if you are thinking about the very small number of people who publicly serve on committees. This group is probably spending more time thinking who is on the Board of Trustees than about who is editing articles.
But, yes, overall, I think that's why we need to define what "counts" and what "doesn't count" for diversity. If the only thing that matters is the number of women, then everyone should be told that the only thing that matters is the number of women (or whatever the chosen category is). WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:25, 11 October 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
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