In the course of a (somewhat unproductive) discussion at the Wikimedia Research Newsletter, Denny Vrandečić suggested that computer scientists and engineers "rarely discuss in depth how their work impacts human lives". For what it's worth, I disagree with that sweeping assertion, but it seemed that it was worth asking what steps the WMF has taken to avoid this ethical pitfall. I am asking you, as Director of Culture, whether you can point to the professional codes of conduct, and ethical training and support, that the WMF attaches to its staff and trustee positions.
As for Denny’s comment… I’m not an expert in ethical issues in computer science or engineering nor am I following any public discourse in regards to them, so I cannot comment. I also don’t know if Denny is referring to a group of people or the state of their education across the world. So I cannot comment on Denny’s comment.
So Denny said that computer scientists and engineers “rarely discuss in depth how their work impacts human lives.” And I think you want me to answer what the WMF is doing internally to get people to discuss how their work impacts human lives. In my experience, we don’t have to get them to. I hear people talking about how our work will impact human lives all of the time—lively, informed debates. AStillwell (WMF) (talk) 01:11, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
- Anna, thanks for your response. I am glad to hear that WMF staff talk about the impact of their work all the time. However, my request was for a pointer to the professional codes of conduct attached to WMF staff and trustee positions, and to the ethical training and support you provide to the people in those positions, Are you able to provide that information, please? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 17:42, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
- Rogol, I'm happy to answer your questions. At first it seemed like you were asking about computer scientists and their professional codes of conduct, but now it seems like you are asking about all of staff and about their ethical training. We don't offer specific ethical training that I am aware of for computer scientists, nor for the Board. As for professional codes of conduct, I'm not sure what you are looking for, but I'd be happy to help if you can get more specific. The Board of Trustees is currently outside my scope of work.AStillwell (WMF) (talk) 16:33, 2 October 2016 (UTC)
- Thanks for that. My initial question was about the computer scientists and engineers working for the WMF. In view of Denny's comments about the level of ethical and professional training among computer scientists and engineers generally, I suggest for your consideratuons that the WMF should be leading by example in this area – either requiring a certain level of professionalism, or support by way of training or both. Professional codes that might be relevent are the ACM Code of Ethics  and the ACM Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice : there are others listed at . Of course there is a more general quetion as to whether the WMF wants to develop a requirement for professionalisation across its workforce? I will refer the BoT part of the question to the BGC. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:55, 2 October 2016 (UTC)
- Thank you so much for providing these resources. I will look into them. Given some of the learning priorities and other work that is going on in the next two quarters, I won't have time to investigate these options until 2017. As for thinking about learning in general, I consider these kinds of questions: What are our most important problems? Who needs to know what by when? What is our budget? Thank you again for offering such constructive resources. AStillwell (WMF) (talk) 00:08, 5 October 2016 (UTC)
This is what it takes to make progress happen sometimes!
Hey Pine, thanks for the message and the email. I'll get back to you in the next couple of weeks to schedule a time. The next two weeks for me are crazy, but after I'll have enough space. Annaproject (talk) 09:01, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
- I understand (: I regret placing weighty issues on your plate, but it seems like it's in the scope of your JD, and as you can tell, I'm frustrated (although I am also trying to have a sense of humor and stay calm, with mixed success). I look forward to hearing from you. And really, I don't expect staff to be checking emails or talk pages on weekends unless there's an emergency. Weekdays are a different matter. See you when I see you. (: --Pine✉ 20:29, 11 February 2017 (UTC)