User talk:Katherine (WMF)/Archive 2

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Share your experience and feedback as a Wikimedian in this global survey


  1. This survey is primarily meant to get feedback on the Wikimedia Foundation's current work, not long-term strategy.
  2. Legal stuff: No purchase necessary. Must be the age of majority to participate. Sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation located at 149 New Montgomery, San Francisco, CA, USA, 94105. Ends January 31, 2017. Void where prohibited. Click here for contest rules.
Interesting choice of editor "randomly selected to take this survey". I just took the survey, based on this invite. Trust that won't overly skew the results. I was not aware of the survey before I stopped by here and saw this. Wbm1058 (talk) 15:33, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
Wbm1058 - I asked EGalvez (WMF) about this - the survey was sent to 16,000 contributors, selected at random based on a minimum threshold of recent contribution. The idea is to conduct this sort of longitudinal survey annually, so the WMF can have a real, statistically relevant baseline of what editors care about and what the WMF should be doing in response. Next year it would be a different sampling of editors, and so-forth. Because the survey was assigned randomly, my WMF account was invited to participate, but for comparison, my personal account, Maherkr, was not. Full disclosure, I've not taken the survey, though Ed assured me that, given the size of the sample set, my participation would not skew any results. Katherine (WMF) (talk) 19:16, 11 February 2017 (UTC)

Your feedback matters: Final reminder to take the global Wikimedia survey

(Sorry to write in Engilsh)

Assorted items of possible interest

I'd like to note a few items which might (or might not) be of interest to you.

  • For months I tried to alert the WMF that there was a problem with the MW:2017 wikitext editor project. The WMF's rather abundant enthusiasm for Visual Editor is out of alignment with reality and the community. The WMF decided it was a good idea to eliminate our Wikitext Editor and replace it with a new wikitext mode within Visual Editor. The community is not happy. In particular, building the new editor inside VE has resulted in broken previews and load times can exceed two minutes. EnWiki is about to close an RFC with about 90% consensus to block deployment unless those issues can be fixed. Even if these issues can be fixed, a lot of people still don't like it. It's very bad optics for the WMF to be undermining our primary editor, in what looks like an effort to push the insignificant secondary editor on us. (VE is used for ~5% of edits, and the WMF's own reserach shows that VE helps 0% of new editors make a first edit, it increased editor retention by 0%, and increases total contributions by 0%.)[1][2] VE is a minor secondary editor. It's handy for big table edits.
  • The Flow satisfaction survey/Report was recently released. "On that survey, we will compare the classical discussions workflows and Flow to see which system is preferred by users". It is seriously undermining the WMF's credibility. It's being severely criticized here on Meta, as well as on Polish Wiki, and very possibly elsewhere. While the intent may have been good, the survey invitation methodology was extremely biased. Participation in the survey was severely stacked in favor of Flow fans. On EnWiki we have a guideline EN:WP:Canvassing#Votestacking devoted to this type of bias, and the results are not considered a legitimate measure of "which system is preferred by users". Even with that heavy pro-Flow bias, the survey result still found 52% vs 38% preference for Wikitext over Flow. The report then piles on even more bias. It was written up spinning the the dismal Flow numbers in the most favorable light possible. The report then uses that invalid, inflated, and dismal claim of community support to decide that the WMF should continue development and seek to expand deployment.
    • Flow was doomed right from the prototype stage. The community tried to tell the lead designer what we needed. The community said Flow was NEVER going to be deployable if he wouldn't listen to us. He told everyone to achieve "Zen acceptance" of the fact that he was not going to build what we wanted, and that the WMF was going to force it out whether we liked it or not. You inherited an unfixable project. Flow can't replace Talk pages.
  • MW:Multi-Content_Revisions: This is in the concept stage, but it desperately needs community input before building anything. It proposes to make wikipages much more complicated, it proposes to make the the editing&content_management interface much more complicated. It has a pile of suggested use cases, but none with any indication of community interest. A use case isn't a use case if it won't be used. I understand why they want to build it. Any powerful system is inherently going to contain complexity. The question is where that complexity lies. I fear the developers and community have very different ideas about where the complexity should (and shouldn't) exist. A wiki is nothing but a bunch of pages, and a page is nothing but a text file with a name and history. That's a dead-simple model. A six year old can grasp that. The wiki-journey is learning what you can type in that text file. It's the model that made Wiki a success. Maybe the community will find some of the use cases persuasive, but that should be validated before building it. Alsee (talk) 00:40, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
Hi Alsee. The three projects you mention have their own spaces for planning and discussion, which are the best places to discuss your concerns about them. I see that you are already active in these spaces; this is indeed the best way forward. I'm aware of these projects, and familiar with the teams responsible for them. None have immediate deployment plans, and all of them are following publicly-communicated steps in their planning and development processes. I recognize different people have different feelings about their current development, which is why it is helpful for folks to continue to engage on their respective talk pages.
The new wikitext editor, Flow, and Multi-content revisions (a key component in our plans for Structured Data on Commons, which is also going through a public Architecture RfC review) are significant enough that any future work on them would be reflected in our upcoming Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan FY2017–18. We are working on preparing this Plan now, and will share it for extensive public review next quarter, ahead of submitting it to the Board for approval by the end of June. We need to assure that this Plan meets the needs of the various communities, readers, and also the future readers and contributors we want to welcome. We will announce the first Annual Draft plan in the upcoming weeks. Katherine (WMF) (talk) 20:18, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
I know your job isn't to micromanage things. I think it is (or should be) your concern when the communication channels you cite don't work.
We have known for years that the number one risk factor for project failure is a lack of early community input. Any company that tried to build banking software without talking to the bankers first, is doomed to fail. Before the New Wikitext Editor was built, some of us showed up asking for information. None was available, we were told to wait until the prototype was released. There was no communication channel before the initial version was released. So yet again, a product was designed and built with no community request for it, and zero community input on the design. As soon as the prototype was available we spent months trying to communicate the problem. The communication channel completely fails because no one is willing to act on feedback that was a problem in the design stage. All feedback is politely ignored, and everyone just keeps sinking more work into the initial design. Result: We now have an almost unanimous consensus to block deployment of the project. Because the communication channels failed.
I first tried to raise the issue with the Flow survey more than half a year ago. You and other staff members can't work effectively if you're being given a skewed analysis of corrupt data. I was told to wait until the report was released, and then we could discuss it. Well, I have been unable to get any response at Talk:Collaboration/Flow_satisfaction_survey/Report for over two weeks. You basically suggested I go back to that communication channel. But how many weeks and I supposed to wait before I can reasonably conclude that questions and multiple pings are being actively ignored? I know that the pings have nominally been received. Over two weeks with no response. The communication channel isn't working. Alsee (talk) 06:01, 9 March 2017 (UTC)
@Alsee: These communication channels do work, and each of them include conversations between you and Foundation staff directly involved in the topics at hand. We just cannot afford to engage with every contributor always, especially not when we reach a point where each side has already explained their reasons, opinions clearly diverge, and short term agreement seems unlikely.
The Wikimedia Foundation invests significant resources to listen and address the input of a variety of stakeholders (individuals and groups) through different channels. The Flow survey gathered the input of hundreds of editors. The new wikitext editor is also gathering community input including bug reports and suggestions submitted by dozens of editors. Wikimedia is a big wide movement with and even bigger and wider user base. Making everybody happy is tough, often impossible. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree with someone and continue our work, always seeking more input and reviewing our plans as our projects evolve. The communities have ways to speak, and we will continue to engage with them and do our best to bring the features the Wikimedia movement and readership need. Qgil-WMF (talk) 10:22, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
Qgil-WMF I agree that "making everyone happy" is impossible. I agree that it is appropriate to disregard complaints and unproductive debates from an unreasonable rogue individual.
I now speak as the voice of the community, not as an individual. The New Editor RFC is not officially closed yet, but the outcome is close to unanimous. You cannot appeal to "Making everybody happy is tough, often impossible.'" You cannot appeal to "Sometimes we have to agree to disagree with someone and continue our work". There is a big problem when projects are treated as internally launched unstoppable trains, "continuing work" on a pre-defined course trying to "agree to disagree" with the community as a whole. It was a mistake to build a New Editor without checking if it was wanted, and what was needed. It was a mistake to treat it as a Facebook-style top-down purely internal design model, catering exclusively to internal agendas. It was a mistake to actively exclude the community during the design phase, when multiple community members showed up trying to ask about it. After the prototype was released and multiple editors raised valid concerns, when multiple editors stated that there would be community consensus against it and it could not be deployed, it was a gross error to ignore that mile-wide red flag and just keep driving the train forward. It was a mistake not to escalate the issue for effective examination&resolution. This is why the community has little trust in the WMF. Good intentions aren't enough. Any company that tried to write banking software without listening to bankers would fail into bankruptcy.
How many times have you said you want to avoid the worst case scenario, where a finished project runs into crisis at deploy phase? Well, I'm helping as best I can. We tried to get info during design phase, but we were rebuffed. We tried to throw up red flags as soon as the prototype was released, and we were ignored. When there is no collaboration from staff, the best I can do to help is to ensure you get the community consensus result well before deploy phase. I'm not your opponent here. The only thing I did was help get you this information sooner.
Regarding the Flow report, there are many people on that talk page and elsewhere, including a former member of the WMF board of directors,[3] noting the issue. That should be a warning sign that you probably aren't dealing with a rogue point of view, that there is probably a valid issue. If you want to suggest this is merely an "unrepresentative" collection of unreasonable rogue individuals, fine. If you state that is your concern then I will be more than happy to go away. I won't bother anyone at the WMF about this any more. Not unless and until I come back speaking as the voice of the community on this subject as well, with a community consensus rebuking the report as "unprofessional", "biased" and/or "garbage". Alsee (talk) 22:31, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Alsee: I have no position regarding Flow (I would need to dig into it pretty deeply to come up with an informed decision, and I lack that kind of time right now), but I'm interested in your comments regarding the opposition to the new Wikitext editor. I recall seeing a mockup awhile ago, and I liked it. Where is the RfC on this topic to which you refer? Thanks, --Pine 01:42, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
    Pine: Village Pump Proposals: Proposal to submit blockers on replacing our wikitext editor (permalink) They decided that the "New Wikitext Editor" should be designed as a new mode within the Visual Editor extension. Therefore previews wound up having assorted rendering errors (mostly the same flaws VE and Flow have), as well as atrocious load times on medium-to-large articles. In the worst case it can take over two minutes to load, generating browser time-out errors.
    Flow's wikitext problems are far worse. Flow was designed without any ability to save wikitext. The lead designer was actively hostile to the idea that a wiki-discussion system was supposed to support wikitext. We needed wikitext support, so we got a hack grafting a simulated mode to edit wikitext in Flow. The simulator can mangle or destroy wikitext on preview or save. It's such a complicated and vile hack that they even managed to break the revert button. In some cases an edit-revert can actually damage the original version. Alsee (talk) 05:48, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
Hi Alsee, thanks for the link to the village pump discussion. I have two comments, one of which is positive and one of which is negative.
  • Regarding the new Wikitext editor, I see that there is consensus on the village pump discussion that you linked, but I think that the situation is less controversial than it may seem at first. If I understand correctly, one of the community liaisons said that the new editor isn't going to replace the existing Wikitext editor but will be offered alongside of it for the foreseeable future. So long as the editors are offered in parallel, then I think it would be fine to introduce the new editor as an opt-in feature. While the feature is opt-in, WMF can address the issues with performance and previews that are highlighted in the RfC.
  • I agree that communication between WMF and the community is an ongoing pain point. Technical communications are affected but also I had several problems getting information from Grants (a.k.a. Community Resources) in 2016. While I understand that WMF can't conceivably respond to every communication, I think that WMF needs to adopt a customer service mentality regarding both pushing out communications and being responsive to incoming communications. The latter includes being responsive to emails and talk page inquiries in a timely manner. The current state of affairs is that some employees are very good at being responsive, while others seem to ignore communications on a routine basis. Routinely ignoring requests for information (note that this is somewhat distinguished from people making comments about proposals and projects, which is a different type of communication) is both rude and wasteful, and I hope that Katherine will make a point of addressing this. In addition to accountability for individual employees, my understanding is that WMF internally generates a lot of communications so another angle which Katherine may wish to address is improving the flow and organization of communications inside of WMF so that individual employees can do a better job of sorting noise from signal. So, thank you for bringing up the communications problems here and I hope that we will hear back from Katherine about how she plans to make improvements and the metrics through which she will evaluate the effectiveness of those improvements at all levels of the organization.
--Pine 21:02, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
Pine: "I think it would be fine to introduce the new editor as an opt-in feature." Pardon my chuckles, but the WMF did that a few months ago. The entire issue here is that that they want to deploy the New Editor as the default wikitext editor, that they have been actively resistant to addressing these issues. With no staff cooperation, the only possible way to address these issues was a community RFC. And even with the RFC all-but-closed, there is still no indication that they can or will address either issue.
The two RFC items aren't the only issues with the New Editor. For example there's a significant cost in that it breaks all gadgets and scripts. Heck, even trying to get them to fix something as basic as broken copy-paste behavior is an uphill battle. (Why is copy-paste broken? Because they built it in VE. Why don't they want to fix it? Because VE.) I thought the two RFC issues most critically went to viability of the fundamental design. Everything is basically built inside VE, so I'm not sure if CAN be fixed without starting from scratch. I (and many in the RFC) question whether there's a positive value in making this replacement at all. Maybe there's a good case for a new editor, but the first step is to pull the breaks on this train, and for the team to accept the community as partners-with-expertise regarding what (if anything) we want and need in a replacement editor. Alsee (talk) 05:58, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Alsee: while I can't speak for James Forrester, I get the impression that he values quality over speed and that he's unlikely to push something into production if there are problems which are as significant as the ones that you describe. Are the Community Liaisons signalling something different? When I last looked at the talk page a few days ago, I didn't get the sense that WMF was trying to rush the new editor into production prematurely. Have there been statements to the contrary? --Pine 07:32, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Pine, there are no concerns of rushing the project. The issue is that they had actively or passively decided that they didn't want to fix these issues. These do not appear to be trivial "bugs" that can be fixed. They are aspects of the design. They weren't prepared to scrap or overhaul the design. VE has inaccurate previews, so they saw no problem giving the Wikitext editor inaccurate previews. VE has atrocious load times, and for some strange reason staff tend to get much better load New Editor times than community reports, so they weren't prepared to take action on New Editor load times. Alsee (talk) 17:54, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
Alsee I'm not sure about the preview issue, but I definitely would expect the load times issue to be addressed, probably while the product is still in beta. Perhaps the changes would have the additional benefit of improving VE load times, which would be an extra incentive to work on improvements as they would benefit both interfaces. If you can point me to a diff of a WMF employee saying that they aren't planning to improve load times, that would be helpful. Perhaps there is a misunderstanding that can be addressed. --Pine 03:43, 18 March 2017 (UTC)

Pine I appreciate that you are looking for an AGF misunderstanding. The discussions go back about half a year, and the Phab tasks have been open for over three months. See load time: task T154843 and previews: task T154844. There is no indication of work on either one. After half a year, this is not about assuming. It's not even about good faith. We've got the practical result of existing process. The most dire red-flags are either somehow overlooked, or are actively ignored. The issues are consistently not-accepted and not-rejected. They are politely and persistently left unresolved, to vanish into Flow's infinite-scroll memory hole. The project has been coasting towards deployment for half a year. The issues have been actively or passively disregarded. So nope, I don't have a diff of a WMF employee rejecting anything. What I have is all of those hours of my life flushed down the toilet over the last half year, because I excessively AGF'ed that the WMF would engage constructively.(Struck my comment. I shouldn't have spewed that. Sorry.)

I just looked at the latest state of the Phab items. I see that Jdforrester just dropped the preview task priority to low, and notably altered the task-title. If this title-change was specifically intended to "override" the task description then he just rejected fixing the RFC previews issue. It's also noteworthy that any blocking-task intrinsically inherits the priority of the parent task. That would be high priority here. The only way it can be low priority is if he is rejecting the RFC preview-blocker issue. Alsee (talk) 15:59, 18 March 2017 (UTC)

Alsee I have commented at There does seem to be some interest from staff in that ticket. I agree that much longer load times for long pages in NWTE as compared to the legacy wikitext editor are a problem that should be addressed before NWTE fully replaces the legacy wikitext editor. It looks like that task hasn't been prioritized yet, but imagine that it will be as the NWTE beta progresses. If I may make a suggestion: relax a little bit. NWTE is still in beta, it's going to be months before it goes into production, and I think that things will be OK in the end. If there isn't progress on this issue in a few months and WMF doesn't show interest in improving the situation, then I think getting worried would make sense. I suggest taking things one step at a time. --Pine 20:19, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
Pine, I believe the RFC will motivate them to try to improve performance. They considered it a low priority, but there is no WMF-community conflict on "faster is always better". I question whether it is possible for a VE-foundation heavyweight javascript graphic-surface model to match the performance of a browser-native text editor. If they can match the performance, it's probably only because they decline to devote that effort working on our current editor.
On the other hand, the WMF's plans seem to be in direct conflict with community interests regarding previews. I think you acknowledged the overwhelming community consensus on it. Do you believe this should be fixed as well? It's not some localized repairable-bug, it means completely scrapping the VE-style preview model. Are you confident that the WMF is willing to do that? Alsee (talk) 16:14, 19 March 2017 (UTC)
Alsee, three points:
1. In terms of governance, I think that WMF should align itself with community consensus.
2. However, in terms of my position on the particular issue of VE-style previews, I have a cautionary note: I'm not familiar enough with the software underlying the editors to understand what's possible and advisable. There may be reasons for keeping the VE-style preview model of which I'm not aware. I think that previews should be 100% accurate and I don't know why it would be difficult to make the previews 100% accurate, but without looking into the technical details about (1) why the difference between 99% and 100% accuracy can't be overcome, and (2) a cost-benefit analysis, I should refrain from taking a position on that point.
3. I can't speak for WMF or override their decision, so the best I can do is hope that James Forrester, Katherine, and the other folks at WMF listen and are responsive to community communications and decisions. I think that you have their attention, and hopefully they'll engage in the Phabricator tasks as well as continue to engage in discussion at the Village pump. I think that what you and other community members are seeking sounds reasonable, and I hope that WMF will have a constructive conversation with the community about these topics. I'm not Katherine or James so that's about all I can say. I hope that's helpful, and I'm glad that you're surfacing these issues for WMF to address during the beta. --Pine

Corey Stewart campaign editing

A CNN article documents editing by the Virginia gubernatorial campaign of Corey Stewart. "Stewart acknowledged" that the edits came from his campaign, which seem to be mostly spinning and removing info, plus a few additions. The context screams "paid editing" by the campaign, though those words aren't in the article. There certainly was meatpuppetting or sockpuppetting. BTW some admin should block User:VirginiaHistorian77 and User:Publius2016 who did not declare their paid editing status.

I've often said that the WMF needs to combat this type of editing by letting the world know that undeclared paid editing is against our rules. This would seem to be a perfect place to make such a statement. Otherwise editors will have to make these statements individually, which would be quite clumsy. I'll suggest that the statement be made directly to the Stewart campaign and to CNN.

I've posted this at en:User talk:Jimbo Wales to get more public input.

Smallbones (talk) 15:27, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

Censorship and Freedom of Expression

Copied from your contribution to a talk page on meta:

Chiming in as a volunteer, I'd suggest that "freedom of speech" be replaced with "freedom of expression." FoS is a North American interpretation of FoE, which is the universal right recognized by the United Nations. FoE is more internationally accepted as a concept. Cheers. Maherkr (talk) 21:37, 29 April 2017 (UTC)

User:Maherkr excellent suggestion. Done. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:42, 29 April 2017 (UTC)
I would suggest that the WMF study the censorship on the Clinton Foundation page before it gets on its high horse (censorship of NY Times, Toronto Globe and Mail, the US State Department, Boston Review, Le Monde Diplomatique, Gender Action, The Washington Free Beacon, The Clinton Foundation (tax returns that support claims in the Washington Free Beacon), as well as several editors who have tried to make the Clinton coterie see reason concerning the censorship of reliable sources). I have reason to believe that the Turkish government is quite well aware of how consensus is gamed within the "community". While Turkey is certainly no example of FoS or FoE, neither is Wikipedia. SashiRolls (talk) 01:00, 1 May 2017 (UTC)
User:Maherkr / User:Katherine_(WMF) it might also be good to have a look at Wikipedia's own policy on free speech , regularly used to ban those who try to warn in good faith about censorship abuse. I'll copy this to your talk page as well so that others can participate in the discussion and so that perhaps you can have a better idea why reasonable people could hope the WMF will begin to understand the serious problem with censorship as a result of the shoe being on the other foot. I would also suggest that you take a look at the fact that has refused to temporarily full protect candidate's BLP pages as well as election-related pages as required by French law during the 48 hours preceding the election (first round & second round (to come)). (cf. Interférence Wikipédienne dans les élection présidentielles de 2017. I do so because I noticed that your blogpost did not mention a number of concerns expressed by the Turkish government (whose decision, incidentally, I do not support). SashiRolls (talk) 13:17, 1 May 2017 (UTC)

Encuentro Iberoamericano de la comunidad

Queríamos invitarte al encuentro iberoamericano de la comunidad que vamos a realizar el 10 de junio a las 18:30hs. en el bar Back in Black de Recoleta, CABA. Podés encontrar más información en la página del evento.
¡Sumate a compartir este espacio que reúne voluntarios/as de distintas partes del mundo!
No te olvides de firmar en la página.

¡Te esperamos!
--Constanza Verón (WMAR) (talk) 18:06, 31 May 2017 (UTC)

Response from the Wikimedia Cuteness Association

Dear Katherine, Today you requested the Wikimedia Cuteness Association in your keynote session to endorse the Wikimedia 2030, the 2017 movement strategy direction. We are happy to inform you that both the Wikimedia Cuteness Association and the Wikimedia Cuteness Advisory Committee endorse the strategic direction. We just published an official statement at: Wikimedia Cuteness Association/Vision for Wikimedia 2030.

Nothing can hold you back any longer from signing the section Users that support cuteness in the Wikimedia movement on the page Wikimedia Cuteness Association. Do you also want some stickers? Wendy the Weasel (talk) 01:47, 12 August 2017 (UTC)

Flow - Has the WMF reversed position regarding uninstalling it?

In November 2016 Flow was amicably uninstalled from EnWiki[4] by request from the community. (We skipped running an RFC, everyone agreed the RFC would pass.) People were happy with how helpful and cooperative the WMF was.

In February the WMF published the results of a survey on Flow.[5] The survey found 38% support for Flow, however those results were inflated. The WMF targeted a massive number of personal survey invitations to Flow-enthusiasts. Based on those results, the survey report recommended that the WMF resume development of Flow, and that the WMF pursue expanded deployment of Flow. Flow development was then added to the Quarterly schedule.

In March Flow was uninstalled from MetaWiki[6] by RFC request (87% consensus).[7] People were happy with how helpful and collaborative the WMF was.

There is currently an RFC underway on Commons requesting Flow be uninstalled.[8] It is still early, but it looks like it is heading to consensus.

There is currently discussion at German Wikipedia to open an RFC to uninstall Flow.

However recently some members of the staff have suggested that the WMF has reversed position. They suggest that the WMF may no longer be willing to uninstall Flow from communities that don't want it. This has people concerned and upset. It also seems to be a very strange position, the WMF would spend more time talking about why it won't uninstall Flow than it would take to actually uninstall Flow.

Could you please confirm the WMF's position? Is the WMF willing to uninstall Flow from communities that don't want it? Thanks. Alsee (talk) 20:34, 13 September 2017 (UTC)

Hey Alsee,
Katherine is traveling at the moment, and she asked me to reply on her behalf as the product manager for the Structured Discussions tool (formerly Flow).
As you say, we at the Foundation accepted the earlier requests from the English Wikipedia and Meta wikis to remove the Structured Discussions tool from their wikis. On the Commons RfC that you started, I indeed said that "I have decided not to de-install this software from this or any other wiki without a solid technical reason for doing so." I explained there briefly why: custom configurations for each wiki slightly slow down the sites for every reader and editor, and they complicate Ops' work, which is a security risk. The greater the complexity of variation between wikis, the more expensive in time, server cycles, and maintenance – and thus, money – everything will be.
I'm sad at your characterisation of the survey of users of the system as "inflated". We at the Foundation have a duty to support our users across our many projects, including around tools more suited and acceptable to some than others. When seeking improvements to the upload tools, we survey users from Commons rather than some conceptually balanced sample of all Wikimedians. When we want to support the OCR text features of ProofreadPage, we talk to Wikisource users. Similarly, when we wanted to know how the structured discussions system was working for its users, we sought the views of those who had experience with it, and their responses convinced us of the need to resource some improvements.
We published the initial draft of the annual plan back in April, and advertised it quite widely for community input. No one objected to (and several were happy with) our proposal therein to improve Structured Discussions during that process. I consider our annual plan a sort of "contract with the communities", and it's important to me that when we say we will do things, our communities can expect that we keep to our commitments in that plan.
Jdforrester (WMF) (talk) 23:04, 13 September 2017 (UTC)
Illogical answer. The goal of having a more consistent configuration can more easily be achieved by uninstalling Flow from all wikis and activating it only where needed. --Nemo 10:59, 29 September 2017 (UTC)


Are you aware of Quora Keeps the World's Knowledge For Itself? --Nemo 11:01, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

Forbes article on the future of Wikipedia

(copied from Wikipedia Women in Red talk page)

  • I have just read with interest Katherine Maher's article "How Wikipedia Changed The Exchange Of Knowledge (And Where It's Going Next)". While the general objectives for the future are perfectly reasonable, I was disappointed to see that such little account had been taken of the progress we have made over the past year or so on Women in Red. Maher tells the world, "...right now only 16% of the 1.3 million biographies on English Wikipedia are about women." In fact, "right now", on 1 October 2017, exactly 254,892 (or 17.11%) of the 1,489,788 biographies on the English Wikipedia are about women. (See the latest Wikidata stats presented by WHGI here.) I wonder where the dated figures came from and why no one helped to keep our Executive Director informed of what we are doing. (Strangely Maher does not appear to be an EN Wikipedia user. Perhaps someone could keep her informed.)--Ipigott (talk) 14:25, 5 October 2017 (UTC)

Proposals for policies regarding Staff-community interaction

(Sorry if this really isn't the right place for this. If there's someone in particular who's in charge of these kinds of things, could you please direct me there? Thanks.)

Discussions involving both WMF Staff and community members have been somewhat contentious over the past several years, leading to worsened WMF-community relations and a generally less civil environment for everyone. I don't think this is anyone's fault in particular, but there are several ways in which the WMF may be able to improve things. Three areas in particular in which I think the WMF may be able to reduce friction:

  1. When WMF employees participate in discussions, there is usually no indication that the owner of their staff account and their personal account are the same person. This becomes harmful when an employee participates in the same discussion under both accounts, leading to accusations of sockpuppetry and possibly a disregard for any opinions posted from a WMF account. There are legitimate reasons why one may need to switch accounts mid-discussion, for example to indicate participation under a different role, but it is very important for trust and community health that everyone can be certain that two comments from two apparently disconnected accounts actually come do from two different people. One possible solution to this problem would be for a policy to be enacted requiring that WMF employees that may participate in the same area in both a personal and professional role change the signature of their staff account to include their personal username in brackets after their staff username. Possible alternative solutions include changing staff usernames to match personal usernames (though that would likely be a problem for reasons of professionalism), or prohibiting participation in the same discussion under both accounts.
  2. When the WMF attempts to gather consensus from a community, things get complicated. Technically, the WMF doesn't have to get consensus to implement changes to software or policy, so when it tries to, reactions from certain community members are sometimes less than positive. It's often unclear whether the WMF intends to actually listen to the community's decision or not. If some community members incorrectly assume that the thread began as a result of someone receiving an assignment to "get consensus" for a decision that's already a foregone conclusion, the discussion becomes less about debating the merits of the proposal, and more about yelling at whichever well-meaning WMF employee is involved, trying to rapidly convince them that going through with it would be catastrophic in rather harsh terms. Certainly, the WMF will occasionally need to try and gather feedback regarding an action without actually committing to do whatever the community decides, but the distinction between the two types of discussions really needs to be clear or else it poisons actual attempts to gather meaningful consensus. The norms of collaborative discussion and consensus seem to essentially break down when there's such a difference in power of the participants. I recommend establishing a policy clearly delineating requests for a community decision via discussion and consensus on one hand, and requests for feedback which the WMF is permitted to disregard on the other.
    (I'm probably a bit overstating how much of a problem this is and how frequently these issues happen. I'm also worried that these problems might make the WMF less likely to engage with the community, which would be really bad in my opinion.)
  3. The community needs to know that opinions expressed by WMF employees are their own, and that they were not assigned or pressured into expressing them. We've already had discussions where concerns of this have been raised, leading to multiple accusations from WMF employees accusing community members of discriminating against them because of their employer, with the discussion going downhill from there. These interactions erode trust between the community and the WMF, and make it much more difficult for cooperative discussions to take place.

I know a lot of these issues sound like they could be fixed by people being better at Assuming Good Faith, but we have to work with what we have, I suppose. Hopefully the situation can be improved. --Yair rand (talk) 00:48, 24 October 2017 (UTC)

Hello, Yair rand. :) I'm stepping in here in my role as interim Chief of Community Engagement as I have actively worked with our legal team and our talent & culture team in putting together some guidelines for behavior for staff on our projects. Also in my role with Support & Safety, I worked with Legal and others in SuSa in putting together a User Account Policy. So I have some insight into current guidance and an interest in making sure that guidance is solid!
The first situation you describe - where WMF staff participate both as staff and volunteers - should be rare. As you note, there may be occasions why somebody needs to switch streams, and I agree with you that where this happens the change should be made clear in that discussion. But generally staff should not be engaging both professionally and non-professionally in the same conversation. If it's happening routinely, then either there are reasons for doing so that the guidelines aren't taking into account (and the guideline needs to be adapted to address those reasons) or the situation really shouldn't be happened (and the guidelines need to be clarified or reinforced). If there are specific instances where you think this wasn't optimally managed, I'd appreciate it if you'd shoot me an email - not in the interest of getting people in trouble (and obviously that's not what you're here for :)) but so I can learn why and talk with Talent & Culture and Legal to see how we can help avoid problems in the future. Either way, I will review the guidelines new staff are given to make sure that guidance is clear and also think about whether occasional reminders are useful - maybe at some standard interval after onboarding. Starting a new job usually comes with a glut of information, and it's always possible that details are lost. :)
I do see the problem you identify in your second bullet. I think there's a bit of a "culture clash" involved - that is, as a Wikimedian myself I know that often Wikimedia discussions are based on the presumption that consensus in a conversation rules. (Obviously, it's more complicated than that and takes explanation to those who aren't deeply involved that local consensus may not overcome policy. But generally, consensus in a discussion rules. :)) The Foundation shouldn't ever seek feedback without intention to listen, but there are occasions when listening may not result in the outcome that those who have an expectation that local consensus will rule will believe to be proper. I think you're right that it's important to people who launch discussions to be clear about what the outcome of the conversation may be. I think you're also very right that it would be bad if people shied away from talking. :) The Technical Collaboration team and the Audiences team are collaborating on a mw:Technical Collaboration Guidance document. I haven't closely followed conversations around this document, but I'll point this thread out to them in case it's not already reflected or on the table for future documentation.
With respect to your third point, I'm really sorry to hear that this confusion exists. :( Every Foundation employee is required by policy to have specific language on their accounts noting that their opinions are their own, and those who have publicly identified personal accounts are required to note that those accounts are distinct from work. You can see, for example, my personal page (wow, predates the template!) and my work account. In those conversations that you have witnessed where people are misunderstanding the role of staff, have people expressed doubt about those, or do you think they are unaware? I'd like to think about how to avoid such problems if this is a common misunderstanding. Occasionally, some staff may miss the policy (as mentioned above, there's a lot of information coming at people when they start a new job) and I know that sometimes others may doubt the disclaimer, although I'm not sure what in that case would work, if an explicit statement doesn't. :/
I appreciate your sharing your thoughts on these issues and hope to hear more! --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:52, 24 October 2017 (UTC)

Display of covert advertising notice prominently for EU readers

Dear Ms. Maher,

I am reposting this because the Chief Director (Support and Safety) for Wikimedia Foundation seems to be ignoring messages related to safety of Wikimedia users.

I would like to know precisely how the WMF is complying with the Munich and Stuttgart superior court decisions involving WMF that (a) covert advertising (paid edits) warning notices be prominently displayed in the article for the safety of consumers in EU (European Union) itself without consumers/Wikipedia readers having to read article talk pages or user talk pages, and (b) that objectionable content when brought to notice of WMF will be removed promptly.

Editors from EU who have attempted to discuss this issue over at the WMF's largest project, the English language Wikipedia, are not getting anywhere since it seemingly must be implemented by WMF and not by the user communities. Inlinetext (talk) 04:34, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

User:Inlinetext For articles which appear to have been created by an undisclosed paid editor we are using this template which also shows up on mobile.[9]
For articles which are created by a disclosed paid editor and have not been thoroughly reviewed by a non paid editor I have been using this template which does not show up very prominently on mobile.[10]
Does more need to be done to deal with paid promotional editing, especially that of the undisclosed type? IMO yes and we need to be putting foundation resources towards dealing with it / creating tools to help the community deal with it.
We currently have a RfC on meta about one method to address the issue here Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:55, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
I am awaiting an official answer from WMF (not from a member of the Board in his private capacity) preferably after consulting WMF (Legal). I am especially concerned by paid edits to articles by certain disclosed paid editors who maintain Wikipedia administrators on their payrolls to block editors who raise inconvenient objections to their proposed drafts on article talk pages. The RfC you link to is not of concern to me. No offence intended, but it appears you are unable to understand my query which concerns compliance with judgments of superior courts in Germany. In any event, I am no longer a part of the editing community of English Wikipedia, and am here to see how WMF enforces my legal court conferred rights as a consumer and reader of English Wikipedia within the EU, and specifically within Germany. Inlinetext (talk) 16:06, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
I understand your concerns and yes the RfC is tangential to them. Paid editing is a difficult problem to "solve". Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:11, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
I should also clarify that the import of the German judgments is that the WMF (Wikimedia Foundation) is responsible for, and should remove objectionable content upon receiving a proper complaint and not leave it to the "community". Inlinetext (talk) 16:15, 7 November 2017 (UTC)

When are you going to do something about the abusive culture on Wikipedia

Greetings Katherine,

I'm just wondering when you are finally going to step up and do something about the abusive culture on Wikipedia that drives away editors. It's such an oppressive environment even this discussion will likely be reverted as trolling just for asking the question or at best completely ignored by you because it doesn't deal with pandering donation dollars.

It's no secret that the editing community is suffering...largely at the hands of abusive admins, the WMF has gotten grant money specifically to deal with the abusiveness but refuses to admit that much of the abuse is due to out of control admins and people in the WMF that could and should be doing something about it like James Alexander.

Rather than deal with the problem admins and editors he bans the whistleblowers and advocates a culture of abuse and bullying. He really needs to go! He doesn't care about the community or the project as long as the culture gives him control and anyone who believes him when he says he does is kidding themselves.

It's really a shame how far own Wikipedia has sunk, it used to be a great project and an inclusive and positive environment, now even the most active WikiProjects are shadows of what they once were, editors don't even want to be admins and the admins on the site do whatever they want with impunity. You need to step up and act. Active and dedicated editors are being bullied out of Wikipedia and other WMF projects just for trying to change and improve the abusive culture by admins who want to keep it the way it is and as the Executive Director the fault is yours and only leadership from the top will fix it. 2601:5CC:101:2EF2:4D9F:586E:8234:7E05 01:08, 1 November 2017 (UTC)

This is absolutely correct. The culture in some communities is toxic because of the legal fiction adopted by the WMF that they are merely a hosting platform and their "communities" (of mostly anonymous users) are responsible for content. Luckily the courts in Europe have started a trend of exposing this fiction. Inlinetext (talk) 04:34, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
Wow, no response at all to these very serious and seemingly well meaning question? That shows a lack of interest in the safety and well being of the community or the sites by you. Even if the comment is wrong above, ignoring it for so long gives the perception of credibility to the statement. If there is even a small amount of truth to these allegations (and I have to assume there is) then I would think the ED of the WMF would at least give the appearance of caring about them! LyleSWang (talk) 16:58, 16 November 2017 (UTC)

When are you going to do something about the abusive culture on Wikipedia

Greetings Katherine,

I'm just wondering when you are finally going to step up and do something about the abusive culture on Wikipedia that drives away editors. It's such an oppressive environment even this discussion will likely be reverted as trolling just for asking the question or at best completely ignored by you because it doesn't deal with pandering donation dollars.

It's no secret that the editing community is suffering...largely at the hands of abusive admins, the WMF has gotten grant money specifically to deal with the abusiveness but refuses to admit that much of the abuse is due to out of control admins and people in the WMF that could and should be doing something about it like James Alexander.

Rather than deal with the problem admins and editors he bans the whistleblowers and advocates a culture of abuse and bullying. He really needs to go! He doesn't care about the community or the project as long as the culture gives him control and anyone who believes him when he says he does is kidding themselves.

It's really a shame how far own Wikipedia has sunk, it used to be a great project and an inclusive and positive environment, now even the most active WikiProjects are shadows of what they once were, editors don't even want to be admins and the admins on the site do whatever they want with impunity. You need to step up and act. Active and dedicated editors are being bullied out of Wikipedia and other WMF projects just for trying to change and improve the abusive culture by admins who want to keep it the way it is and as the Executive Director the fault is yours and only leadership from the top will fix it. 2601:5CC:101:2EF2:4D9F:586E:8234:7E05 01:08, 1 November 2017 (UTC)

This is absolutely correct. The culture in some communities is toxic because of the legal fiction adopted by the WMF that they are merely a hosting platform and their "communities" (of mostly anonymous users) are responsible for content. Luckily the courts in Europe have started a trend of exposing this fiction. Inlinetext (talk) 04:34, 7 November 2017 (UTC)
Wow, no response at all to these very serious and seemingly well meaning question? That shows a lack of interest in the safety and well being of the community or the sites by you. Even if the comment is wrong above, ignoring it for so long gives the perception of credibility to the statement. If there is even a small amount of truth to these allegations (and I have to assume there is) then I would think the ED of the WMF would at least give the appearance of caring about them! LyleSWang (talk) 16:58, 16 November 2017 (UTC)

Financial Times interview

Thanks for stressing the need for more women editors in your Financial Times interview last week.--Ipigott (talk) 16:09, 13 December 2017 (UTC)

I also enjoyed reading the article. Other readers might disagree on which of the topics covered by the FT writer were the best or worst, but IMHO I really liked seeing the photo of your books. (I have the bad habit when visiting a person's office or home for the first time of reading the titles of the books there and quizzing my unfortunate host on their contents - but I wouldn't even know where to start with your books!) OTOH I think the writer's stress on your apartment could have been cut back.
All the best.
Smallbones (talk) 16:19, 15 December 2017 (UTC)

Providing authorship information on every visible page

A simple solution on would be to provide authorship information to the reading community on every visible page.
A pop-up graphic showing the top 10 editors by text added could make quality assessment a bit easier. (This is currently available only to those initiates who know where to find it: view history > revision history statistics) .
The page I linked to above shows, for example, that a user named Sagecandor composed 98% of the text of the book review review of The Plot to Hack America. It also shows that the biggest removal of content was by a member of ArbCom who spends a lot of time reading off-wiki criticism of corruption. A reader being able—at a glance—to see whether there was consensus on articles or if—rather—one account was largely responsible for the text (e.g. the promo of Taibi's Insane Clown President book or the BLP of Michael Caputo).
I noticed that IAC's Daily Beast was interested in that last article recently but failed to mention its principal author. If even elite Clintonite journalists can't figure out how to find authorship information on Wikipedia and end up looking foolish as a result, I can see why people might get frustrated with Wikipedia's poor transparency with regard to protected accounts. I see another IAC is interested in encouraging the WMF to comply with German law and give encyclopedia readers the tools to determine the degree of advertising a page contains. I do believe adding that pop-up graph would go a long way in terms of increasing Wikipedian transparency. What do you think, Doc? Katherine? inline? SashiRolls (talk) 00:01, 9 November 2017 (UTC)
User:SashiRolls I think it is an excellent idea :-)
I built of mockup of the idea in 2014 which you can see here [11]
The text says "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Contributors" with contributors linked to this tool. Authors are linked in the byline right were people would expect them to be. Discussion was here and here
We had the ability to turn this on for all medical article as a gadget for three months. Problem at that point in time was that the tool was unstable and I was unable to find any programmers to fix it. Would love to see this pushed forwards again. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:49, 9 November 2017 (UTC)
Something you could add to the 2017 Community Wishlist Survey maybe? See how many people are interested. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 08:33, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
I'll look into that this WE. Thanks (again) for telling me about the fate of the previous initiative; it's really too bad there were technical problems. SashiRolls (talk) 10:12, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
  • Since this 2017 wishlist proposal originated here, I should report back. It looks like a few folks were against showing authorship data (for diverse reasons, some ecological, some psychological, some technical, some per theDJ). I wonder who Jack who built the house is? He seems to like theDJ's adpocalypse argument... ^^ Oh well, I appreciate the info on the javascript gadget Doc. SashiRolls (talk) 00:59, 18 December 2017 (UTC)

Chief of Stuff

Hi Katherine, As we as Wikimedia Cuteness Association were last year the first to support the strategic direction, and earlier an exe-cute-ive director was hired, we are happy to be informed that WMF recently has hired a Chief of Stuff. We as mascots, aka the stuffed animals, are very happy that our needs are taken into account. Wendy the Weasel (talk) 04:00, 24 April 2018 (UTC)

Clarification requested re Signpost article

I am sure someone has already drawn your attention to the and notes Signpost article in which you are featured prominently. Complete with picture. The article states "...with Maher spending 200 days a year at 35,000 feet, her business travel apparently leaves her little time to keep an eye on what is happening in the company she is charged with managing". Ignoring the latter part of that sentence, I think it is clear that User:Kudpung has misinterpreted the statement "The executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation was on the road 200 days last year" from the preamble of a recent National Geographic interview as meaning you are literally in transit, flying in an airplane, 200 days a year. Perhaps this was an honest mistake, but I think a clarification from you would be helpful so that people better understand what you are doing. World's Lamest Critic (talk) 15:55, 31 August 2018 (UTC)

Brazil's Museum fire

Hi, as you have heard recently, Brazil suffered a massive fire in his national Museum. This was a loss to all cultural and historical significance to humanity. A devastating blow to the world.

To prevent this, wikimedia could reach out more. Wmf should reach out to the National Museums of all nations across the world. Reach out to every single one of them. Archive every last one of artifacts and information. Preserve them all on Commons. That would be great. 13:58, 13 September 2018 (UTC)

I hadn't seen this before, but I think this is a great idea. One possibility would be to get Wiki Loves Monuments involved (if they wish). There's been some discussion by WLMers that the project is running out of steam, or that some countries have essentially photographed all the official monuments and have "nothing more left to do." A checklist of some issues and things to do follows, but it is obviously not complete and is not meant to discourage anybody.
  • Contact each national museum and get their permission to participate.
  • If for any reason the national museum doesn't want to participate, find another nationally prominent museum that does.
  • In many developed countries, there wouldn't be much point in having our mostly amateur photographers come in to redo what pros have already done, e.g. at the Smithsonian or the National Gallery (in the UK and the US). In these cases, and for very big countries (e.g. US, Canada, Australia, Russia) it would make sense to find several lesser known museums that don't already have full photographic documentation.
  • Start organizing now and perhaps have a 2nd contest beyond WLM's buildings focused contest, in April or May. Photographing museum objects is more of a "winter sport" than photographing buildings, so it might make sense to have the contest at the end of the winter.
  • Photographing paintings and sculptures is a much more specific skill than photographing buildings. Perhaps we could get an on-wiki "how-to" page set up.
There's lots more to consider, but I hope this gets a conversation started. Smallbones (talk) 13:47, 18 September 2018 (UTC)

Wikimedia and Accessibility

Hi there! I'm not sure if you are aware but Wikimedia currently uses a captcha system that is incompatible with screen readers used by the blind. There has been a Phabricator task that was filed in 2006 (12 years ago) asking for this to be addressed and there hasn't been any movement made on this task since it was filed. Would someone at the foundation maybe consider looking into this? --Cameron11598 (talk) 21:53, 2 January 2019 (UTC)

Hi Cameron11598,
Thanks for reaching out with your question. I agree with you that this is an important issue. Katherine is aware of the discussions around problems with CAPTCHA; these conversations have been ongoing, but have picked up in recent months within the Audiences team. I talked to User:DannyH (WMF) about your inquiry, and he recommended that I point you to the Community Wishlist Survey for engineering requests, which happens every year in November. The most recent round had this related proposal in it: Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Miscellaneous/Have CAPTCHA in languages other than English. In the wishlist survey, everyone is invited to post proposals for projects they'd like to see done, and then the community votes on which proposals are the most important. The top 10 in the survey is addressed by the Community Tech team.
Thank you for participating in the discussions on Phabricator, too. ELappen (WMF) (talk) 20:19, 15 January 2019 (UTC)
@ELappen (WMF): Thanks for the reply! I'll be sure to fill out something on the Community Wishlist this year for this issue. However theres a related issue that wouldn't really require any technical changes other than placing some filler request telling people to contact an administrator or otrs. I'm referring to the issue on en.Wikiversity and en.Wikisource where the "request an account" link underneath the captcha refers you to a deleted page? Or if you go to the generic request an account link its just a wikified link to the "Create an account" page? Or is this something that needs to go to each local community? --Cameron11598 (talk) 20:47, 16 January 2019 (UTC)
Hey Cameron11598,
I’ve taken a look at the pages Enwikiversity, Enwikisource and Wikisource and you’re absolutely right. As there’s no central authority here, the best course of action is, as you’ve said, to approach each community and ask that the pages be reinstated/fixed. Local admins should either place the correct instructions directly on those pages (and consider semi-protecting them), or link to where the correct instructions can be found. ELappen (WMF) (talk) 19:43, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
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