Wikimedia Foundation elections/Board elections/2015/Questions/2
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Ombudsman Commission Edit
I am unaware of this , I put myself out from this question. However, i feel OC like a B teams of stewards with some extra powers. Rather than making different and different posts or commissions and making editors/contributors confuse, We can focus on having one centralist sytem it could help us a lot.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 21:07, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
As a former member of the ombudsman commission I can say that delving into cases on projects that the OC has no working language skills in is really tough. I am convinced that neither then nor now the commission wants more centralized work for themselves. The proposed solution main point was to broaden the scope of OC to include Oversight and also the issues of CU (checkuser abuse). I took part in this discussion and I supported the idea that OC should be able to conduct investigation violations of global checkuser/oversight policies. I have not, however, supported (nor opposed) the idea of investigating compliance of local policies with global policy (for practical reasons, I thought and I still do that this would be really difficult to handle by the OC as it is now), and of deferring complaints to local processes and final appeals body (as when local bodies dedicated to investigating abuse exist, they should be used; although when the process is disturbed OC could jump in). Pundit (talk) 16:33, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
It's been two years since this RfC though, so hopefully we'll be able to get new points of view on the matter and reaffirm old positions if this is something that still warrants discussion. --Sky Harbor (talk) 05:48, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
This is new to me and the topic seems rather opaque at first glance. If it is taking more than two years for the community as a whole to make a decision on it don't expect snap guidance from me! If the issue is the time it is taking to make a decision, then there should be (if they don't already exist) clear guidelines as to the time-limit for resolving such issues and the Foundation Board could make recommendations accordingly. --Smerus (talk) 06:18, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I have spoken this since the year 2013 at same racing of WMF elections and am saying the same through question of our college MarcoAurelio, whatever we had a challenge of what is going on today but let’s consider on Responsibility, commitment and accountability to Bot, OC, FDC and FDC Omberasperson, Please my colleges Wikimedians who is planning to be BOT’s on the coming few days that our Community is depending on you. Francis Kaswahili (talk, 15:45, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I did not know about that RfC, but I have took the time to read it and ask to some other Wikipedans about. As several points in that RfC can have an impact on the policies and practices of many communities I woulds be uncomfortable with deliberating something which has received relatively limited attention and that has not been discussed since over one year. If this is still an issue I think that a new (and possibly broader) consultation should be started.
I was not aware of this discussion. My thoughts are these:
- An RfC on meta where only a few dozen editors comment, is hardly a community consensus.
- To investigate whether local policies comply with global policies, every local community needs an ombudsperson. This person must at least be fluent in the local language and in English.
- Communities that did not elect an ombudsperson cannot expect to be helped by that commission. Pundit (talk · contribs) says it was really hard---how is it even possible?
- In such a structure, the Ombudsman commission would have to be in a position to give orders to the local ombudsperson. I'm not sure this would fly well.
- I am nevertheless concerned that the Board was aware of the request for their input but did not consider it due to a technicality (that's how I read Raystorm (talk · contribs)'s answer below).
I was aware of the discussion when it began, but I don't believe the OC ever submitted a recommendation to the Board when it closed. The Ombudsman Commission itself has expressed that some things fall out of their jurisdiction, and asked for the LCA department to deal with specific issues since. The tricky part is to figure out options to make sure we can scale out supporting issues like those where the OC actually ask for the WMF to step in. Expanding their scope is a possibility, but I would like to see the entire OC asking for this.
In general: I think my answer to this is similar to my answer to your other question: I support creating stronger global dispute resolution mechanisms and bodies, to deal with persistent problems, and I can see an OC that works hand in hand with community staff and stewards to work on issues. As Maria notes, this hasn't come before the Board in the last couple of years, and I wasn't aware it was an outstanding question for the Board. In specific, the OC Board resolution is from 2006, which was a very long time ago in terms of WMF structures and support (in 2006 we had only a couple of employees; today we have a whole department focused on community support issues). So yes, we probably do need to revisit the whole idea of the Ombuds commission, what they do and what an appropriate role is. To resolve this, I'd look for a summary of the RfC and proposal, pros and cons, and I would likely ask our ED to task our staff with doing the research into whether there's a clear consensus, what the current work of the OC is, and how it fits into other processes (e.g. stewards), proposals and planned work, and making a summary recommendation to us -- to make sure we get as comprehensive a picture as possible. The Board's role could be amending and updating our previous resolution and tasking resources for helping with this in the WMF.
I was not aware of this discussion. I would be very much in favor of this being put on the Board's agenda, as suggested by the closing administrator, and then to deal with this question on the Board. Phoebe has outlined the typical process for how I would expect this to be handled, once presented to the Board.
In general, I believe that the individual projects should be fairly autonomous. But in order for this to work, there must be a way to escalate issues above the project level, or else Wikimedia as a whole can be put at a serious risk by the individual projects. We had cases before where the only way to escalate where public appeals in newspapers to Jimmy Wales. That is obviously not a perfect mechanism to deal with such issues. I think that a review of our processes and how visible and accessible those processes are would be timely. The Board should initiate such a review, maybe even based on the RfC if it was brought to the Board.
I had followed the discussion but did not participated in it. This is a complicated issue and at that time raised some concern around imposing more level of bureaucracy, scope of the OC as well as the associated legal implications. The most compelling proposition was the no. 3 where the opinion were also divided. Considering the changes that has happened over the last two years, I think this issue should be investigated in more detail by the legal team of WMF, it's relevance to the present circumstances should be analyzed and then it should be presented for the community feedback.
I took part in the RfC, and think the OC should indeed expand its scope to at least investigate global CU/OS policies - something everyone assumes they do already. I also think that the OC is the ideal group to handle appeals when there are complaints about local processes, and local investigation is not possible or is the subject of the complaint. The OC was initially created by a Board resolution but is now managed entirely by staff: I don't think that any Board action is needed to make this happen, but it should comment on the resolution to indicate who now organizes the committee and where to propose updates to the committee charter.
I recently studied the incidents of a few members blocked on WMF projects directly by WMF. I contacted the organization thru emails but I didn't get proper details. I was amazed that the justification for the blocks came from sites opposed / critical of WMF. So I would infer that centralised approach in delving into community issues should be minimal (where it is OC or any other team) as it might not be open for general discussion. --Muzammil (talk) 13:25, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
thank you for your question. Two years have passed. I believe it is best to ask the Ombudsman commission for their current view on the matter. I will support any advice from the Ombudsman commission to put this RFC into practice. I hope this answers your question.
Statement of principles by Jimbo Edit
I do endorse them... I think that these principles are fundamental when working in the Board of Trustees. However, they are not sufficient as Wikimedia Foundation had developed since 2003 and now, it does not involve only Wikipedia... It involves some other WMF wikis. I think that more principles should be added in the future to this statement in order to be accurate and dealing with all the responsibility of a member of the WMF Board of Trustees... --Csisc (talk) 08:47, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Like other candidates, I also endorse them. Jimbo's Statement of principles are the backbone of Wikimedia movement, it's particularly right but the situation has been changed within last 14 years. Now, Wikimedia is not limited within the Wikipedia, we have more projects, affliations, diverse communities and with old principles we could introduce some new. Each and every word of his statement is equally mandatory if it will followed by every contributors or employees of WMF.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 13:16, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I do endorse them. However, I think we have diverted on the way somehow. Newcomers are bitten, we wallow in bureaucracy, detour from encouraging editing (hiding the edit options, etc.), impose rapid software changes on the communities (to say nothing e.g. of making adminship a big deal, advancing wikilawyering, etc., not mentioned in the statement). Most of these things do not occur from bad will, but rather short sight, and yet I am convinced that it is the role of the Board to try to address them and make sure that our fundamental cultural principles are followed (and the ones Jimbo listed sound pretty much fundamental in the spirit and at the core of our movement to me, even if were not all directly coined into policies - possibly with an exception to particular license choices, as there are better or worse alternatives perfectly fitting our culture and style).Pundit (talk) 16:45, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes I endorse all of them , they are clear and principles and still valid.
For me, I strongly believe that Jimmy's statement of principles forms the bedrock of our community, of our movement, and the social contract that governs relations between ourselves, the Foundation and our readers. Wikipedia's success hinges on the culture of kindness that this statement seeks to reinforce, and it is that culture of kindness that brought us to where we are today.
But is that still the case? Unfortunately, no. The social contract is in tatters—for some reason, it's now okay to drive away new editors because they're "disrupting the project". It's now okay to wantonly criticize the work of other editors without offering to help. And so on. We have become the antithesis of this statement. We have become our own worst enemy as a community, and we're all suffering because of it.
As I have mentioned in previous answers, we need to reconceptualize our social contract, bringing us back to the roots of our community and ensuring that the culture of thoughtful, diplomatic honesty that Jimmy wrote about fourteen years ago is upheld. The Board is in a prime position to ensure that the culture we build on Wikipedia and the wider movement is one that reflects our diversity of opinion and our shared values. But at the same time, we must also take into account that we now have other actors in play, particularly readers: the most important actor Jimmy's statement forgets to talk about. They too should have a stake in how the site grows, particularly with respect to technical features, and we should consider them as partners, not as enemies, in ensuring our continued relevance and our continued success. --Sky Harbor (talk) 15:20, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Jimbo makes clear that these are 'his' principles. They have not been adopted formally by the Board. I am personally generally in sympathy with them. They underlie the behaviour of constructive participants in the wiki projects. They do not however in themselves form (nor I think were they intended to form) a comprehensive conspectus of what the wiki movement is about. The movement grows and changes: the Board, whilst sensitive to the principles elucidated by Jimbo also needs to ensure that they can evolve realistically and constructively.--Smerus (talk) 20:13, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I I endorse this statement, and I think that these principles are still valid. As pundit and Sky Harbor have already pointed out there are some problems with some them: be welcoming to newcomers (cfr. the discussions about editor retention and gender gap) and how software changes are managed (see the Superprotect problem in this regard). I also concur with Smerus that we as a movement have become much more than these principles.
At that time it was a statement of remarkable insight and foresight. I fear, though, that the statement on diplomacy was decidedly naive; I have yet to meet an honest diplomat, and believe me, I have met many. In the mean time, Jimbo has met more than me and probably would not write it the same way.
Seen today, I do not think the 'You may edit this page right now' is as sacred as it was. There are good reasons why certain pages should only be edited by certain people, and for as long as that is backed by community consensus I stand behind it. I also don't think that, today, the openness of our community is core to our success. The afterthought of this statement, that we are doing the right thing, is much more at the movement's core.
With those tiny caveats I do endorse the statement in 2015. We are far off its principles in some cases, but that's what we should strive to do.
I was not aware of that page! It does provide fascinating context for the evolution of English Wikipedia though. Please understand, other projects grew without the strong influence of Jimmy (or an Arbcom for that matter), so their decision-making processes and dare I say philosophies evolved with probably subtle but nonetheless important differences. It would be interesting to know if he would like to update them today! I don't see anything objectionable to them (not that I expected to), but they're his principles, I expect if all of us sat down to write our own set there would be overlap (like, we all agree Wikipedia is an encyclopedia!), but we'd probably change the order of a few items or add others. It must have been pretty ground-breaking when it was published, though, and quite helpful to set up a path for the evolution of English Wikipedia. I would say most of them are still in force, although there now is such a thing as page protection (you cannot edit all pages right now, some are protected), and also issues with the welcoming of newcomers, for example.
Yes, they are good principles. Like most statements of principle, constitutions, etc., the core statements are both important and easy to agree with; figuring out what they mean and what their implications are is tricky! They are also, as others have noted, an early statement; our Wikimedia-wide principles and values have been articulated, argued over, evolved and refined many times since then.
I endorse the principles in general, but not to their full extend - there are very good reasons for not having every page being editable to everyone at all times, just to name the most obvious deviation. As a principle, we should still strive towards having as much of the wiki editable as possible - and indeed, less than 0.1% of our pages are protected.
These principles remain good guiding lights for our community. I wrote a similar document for Wikidata. Such documents are indeed helpful to understand the motivation and history of a project, and it is good to look back at them from time to time and see how we are doing compared to the expectations of our more idealistic past. And looking back at Jimbo’s principle, I would say, we are not doing too bad, and could be doing better - and most of the places we could do better are indeed important questions of their own in this questionnaire, e.g. the question on newbies, on software development, on the openness of our community, etc.
It is also noticeable, and certainly interesting for understanding the development of our projects, to compare Jimbo's principles with the current founding principles.
For me, Jimbo's statement of principles are at the core of our Wikimedia movement. I not only endorse these statements but also believe that these principles are still the mantra for the success of this movement in the future. However, it is unfortunate that there are many areas and actions within our movement that often contradict these principles. We have many burning issues now than before because we do not follow the basics any more. There is issues around openness of the communities, often newcomers face adverse situations, there are lot of restrictions in editing, there is 'Superprotect' which sits above the community, there is lack of diversity but we still could not do anything about it, software and new features are implemented without proper community feedback, there are issues with licensing, there are paid edits, different opinions are often not welcomed, there are bitter fighting among different entities and communities etc. These all are signs that we are not on the right track as a movement and change is needed.
For the most part these are sound ideals we should strive to live up to. I agree with others that the movement has occasionally not achieved this, sometimes for good reasons such as with protecting certain article, and sometimes for not so good reasons such as the lack of consultation with the community regarding software changes. These ideals still play a key role in many of our communities policies, procedures, and practices. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:11, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm a bit of a Wikipedia historian and haven't even seen this document before. It needs to be put into context, of course, and that involves rolling back to the earliest extant version HERE, launched by Jimmy Wales on Oct. 27, 2001. Wikipedia at this point was just over 9 months old, having been launched on Jan. 17 by Larry Sanger as "Nupedia's Wiki." There were exactly 15 Very Active Editors (>100 edits) in that month. This is, in short, a very, very early official document from English-Wikipedia's first year.
Mr. Wales is asserting his authority here with some unilaterally-imposed house rules, noting "I should point out that these are my principles, such that I am the final judge of them. This does not mean that I will not listen to you, but it does mean that at some ultimate fundamental level, this is how wikipedia will be run, period."
The fundamentals which JW proclaims in the first instance may be reduced to the following principles:
- Do the Right Thing (preserve and defend NPOV)
- Welcome newcomers, "there must be no cabal, there must be no elites" which get in the way of openness.
- The ability of all to edit any page is a sacred principle.
- Changes to the software must be "gradual and reversible."
- Content must be freely licensed.
- Those with complaints must be treated with "the utmost respect and dignity."
Obviously, these remain some of the fundamental principles of Wikipedia and remain very much in effect, for the most part. It is a naive and sentimental document with respect to the reality of group dynamics, but that's neither here nor there. My own take? I think that "freely licensed" rather than taking advantage of the American legal principle of "fair use" was a poor decision in terms of generating the best possible encyclopedia. Moreover, the emphasis on editability of everything by all is poorly considered, in the final analysis. But this is a historical document, not really something relating to the WMF Board per se.Carrite (talk) 18:40, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Endorse: Absolutely. Still in force? No. We didn't consciously move away from any one of them, but many parts of the projects have shifted.
- Newcomers are often not welcome. Some people don't want too many newbies because they require too much cleanup.
- The iron law of oligarchy: various cabals are enshrined on many wikis with strong opinions about what should and should not be allowed.
- "Anyone can edit" is not considered an obvious good by some. Only a few pages are protected at any time, but they can make up a significant % of total views. Edits to new pages are often deleted, or channeled through a multi-step "ask before you create" process, which may still result in deletion.
- As software development has been centralized, we've started to see less gradual, and less reversible changes to the software.
- Respect and dignity has in many places become less important than other qualities, such as abiding by rules or wikilawyering.
As Smerus says, the movement grows and changes. We need to set principles we want to live and work by, and defend them. The Board has a role to play in setting a vision and focusing on a shared message: and in prioritizing which of these are most important to restore.
I had to ponder this. Of course there's nothing here I outright disagree with, but there's a deeper issue here. I think a big failure the project struggles to get around is believing that "let's all be nice to each other" will scale. Most people being jerks do not realise they are being jerks. Most cabals don't realise they're cabals. Wikipedia's great discovery is that natural language conflict resolution can accumulate and lead to high quality natural language output, if it is supported with the appropriate tools, namely open write access (anyone can edit), subscription (watchlists), and recording and application of patterns (the ability to create and link to policies).
Most conflict on Wiki*edia happens between people who have never read this document. The solution to our issues is not to say "everyone must read this document", but to design in such a way that these things are enshrined in the software. If we really believe that "Anyone with a complaint should be treated with the utmost respect and dignity", then where in our editing UI is the obvious panic button? If we don't believe it, then what do we really believe, and why don't we say it? It's the sign of a troubled community to have stated principles that are regularly ignored.
Paid advocacy Edit
A similar problem is that an administrator has been caught doing long-term paid advocacy editing, involving the promotion of an unaccredited business school in India. One commentator asserts that 15,000 students were affected by this advertising on Wikipedia. Another admin bragged on a prominent page that he was a paid editor (this was before the ToU change). It should go without saying that administrators should owe their loyalty first, last, and always to the community, so that paid editing by admins is incompatible with adminship. Is there anything that you can do about it? Smallbones (talk) 19:57, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
This problem does not exist only in India. It is existing worldwide. The problem is not why these paid users has added falsified information... I think that the important problem is why it has not been changed and adjusted. I think that getting paid to do some works is not a problem in itself if the provided data is accurate. However, when the works are not well verified, this is a problem. I think that it is time for WMF Board to think about adopting some neutral board of volunteer consultants that will work on verifying information in wikis about their field. Many experts had tried to create accounts and contribute to WMF wikis... However, they faced some critics due to the fact that the community of wikis was not neutral... I think that they will contribute to the verification of doubtful works in WMF wikis if required for free... as I already know some of these users... --Csisc (talk) 09:30, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I had followed this event on India mailing list. This was really a big issue at that time, Editors were also given death threats for this. Leaving that, Paid advocacy editing is problematic for Wikipedia and does not exist only in India. I want to give examples; Where paid advocacy isn't harmful :
- I am from a small language Wikipedia. Once a contributor of my Wikipedia had requested for paid editing on village pump . An user had answered smartly on his demand, He said : We know that our Wikipedia is not growing, but the satisfaction we're getting to build this Wikipedia by spending a lot of time from our busy schedule can not be filled by the lump of money and we can use that money for spreading awareness of Wikipedia. Here, The feeling of first user was obvious as he felt that being 13yr old Wikipedia and having only 8700+ article is a bad statistic and his paid editing could have helped us in improvement and growth of content and number of articles on Odia Wikipedia.
- Sanskrit is the mother of many Indian language but in today's world there are very few (only 3k to 5k) peoples who have sanskrit as their native language. In 2011 an organisation named Samskrita Bharati had helped Sanskrit Wikipedia to grow from 1000 articles to 10,000 articles till date. They appoint editors for the growth of Wikipedia not for their publicity, which helped a dead language to come alive.
I think paid editing is not always an issue but i never support paid editing, until and unless they help for the betterment of Wiki project (We have Wikimedian in Residence and Found also provides Individual or project engage grants). -- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 16:51, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I actually wrote about it in The Daily Dot op-ed a while before ToU's were changed. My point of view was and is pragmatic: In most cases paid editing is just shameless self-promotion or marketing (this case will always occur irrespective of our policies and the PR editors will likely try to hide and we can only actively try to spot them; fortunately for us so far it is often easy to recognize PR lingo and weed it out, even in the case of political/religious movements such cases return with high regularity, even most recently). In some circumstances paid editing may be useful, for instance when a museum has a dedicated staff member adding materials to Wikipedia. As long as the editors follow all of our rules (especially with proper sourcing), they have a potential to enrich Wikipedia (although they are likely to omit the sources unfavorable to their point of view - just as regular editors do, too). Rarely, there may be also some good will paid editors who, after receiving proper instruction, will improve articles more than destroy them. To make good use of the non-shady groups, we need to require all paid editors to identify themselves and this is what our ToU change reflected. However, just as you point out, the problem exacerbates and just the ToU change is not sufficient. I think that communities should have wide autonomy, but my own view is that any admin involved in malicious paid editing should be banned for life. I'm inclined to use the same measure against bad-will PR stunts. Unfortunately, penalization does not increase detection. I believe we may need to have a wider community brainstorming exercise on how to address the issue. There can and should be semi-automated processes we can use (detecting edits in just one or several similar articles in a high risk topic, such as brands, politicians, etc.). There could be more qualitative control from recent changes patrols (who could use some tools, too, as I know myself well - if we can warn about obscene language edits or blanking, we can think of PR warning signs in edits, too). Additionally, I would encourage creating a listing of potential PR edits for each project (and process them in a fashion similar to copyvio, in a separate procedure). CU policy could make it clearer that bad will PR detection is also within its prerogatives. Finally, I would make it publicly known that confirmed cases (properly sourced) will deserve a mention on Wikipedia as well. These are my ad hoc ideas, but I believe that the topic deserves a separate discussion and should be followed. Pundit (talk) 06:12, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I agree that paid advocacy and advertising are different. Paid advocacy, is not bad if done following all the guidelines and policies, but the advertising making a damage to Wikipedia and must be forbidden . amd we must Differentiate between them
I agree that paid editing is problematic, but I think it's a problem that can be managed if we are vigilant enough.
With respect to identifying paid editors, I agree that we need to identify them, though we must always remember to assume good faith, and not all editors engaged in paid editing activities necessarily do so to undermine our integrity. Users primarily engaging in paid editing activities should reasonably identify themselves to administrators, or barring that (since we know that the current system of self-identification doesn't lead to many people actually identifying as such), there should be some authority (admins, the ArbCom, stewards, PR patrol, etc.) that should be able to flag users as paid editors project or system-wide should there be substantial evidence that such is their main activity. (Of course, this is subject to confirmation by the user being flagged, and this should be threshed out more. A paid user flag though is something that we should pursue.)
To be clear though, I believe that editing activities that lead to financial compensation but are not explicitly oriented towards public relations and pose a net benefit to our mission (e.g. Wikipedians in Residence, etc.) shouldn't be included under our definition of "paid editing activity".
With respect meanwhile to the Wifione case, at this point we can only be more vigilant with who makes it to RfA, and that solutions to this ought to be deliberated by the communities and not imposed by the Board. I strongly believe though that yes, administrators' primary loyalty should always be to the projects first before themselves and their employers, and that it's up to the communities to provide reasonable policing mechanisms to ensure that. --Sky Harbor (talk) 05:46, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
A fundamental aspect of wikis is assuming good faith (AGF) of editors. It seems to me that when issues around paid (or interest-oriented) advocacy or advertisement on Wikipedia etc. break, they reflect clearly much more on the editors concerned than on Wikipedia itself, which clearly sets out the standards it expects of editors. Mostly such breaches are spotted by other editors in the first instance. Occasionally wilful misinformation is included in an article as a joke, or what its editor thinks is a joke; such behaviour interestingly has also taken place in the past (and may be even in the present) in printed dictionaries, where remedying the situation is not so simple. I suggest that the ramping of wiki advocacy stories in the printed media and broadcasting may reflect an underlying jealousy from media which have interest in discrediting competition (and are not without advocacy issues of their own). The proportion of paid/interest advocacy in WP articles remains pretty small and is dealt with as it is discovered. We should continue to encourage editors to report actual or possible actions of this sort (as we do for copyvios) but we don't have to approach the false hysteria of the media which makes a song and dance about them. --Smerus (talk) 06:33, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
one of my duty after being elected to the BOT, in collaboration with my colleges we'll have a time of going through manifesto of each elected BOT member for exchanging to reach on the way forward, I remember this question has being asked every election period and solution it seems to be a problem which might end now but before we do, let us ask our self that are we for WMF or WMF is for us? this is a solution to all users every is titled for wages in what he did and it's a matter spending some funds as much as available. Francis Kaswahili Talk 22:24, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
In my opinion paid advocacy and advertising are two very different things. Paid advocacy, especially in the less the controversy-prone scenarios of GLAM projects as for example for Wikipedians in Residence, does not necessary bring damage to the projects if done following all the guidelines and policies and I am not a priori opposed to that as such. IMHO the case you describe above is not a result of paid advocacy, but it is vandalism, and a particularly destructive example of a vandalism. Of course this cases of vandalism, where there is a clearly malicious intent are very hard to deal with, as anyone with a minimum of patrolling experience knows it is very easy to spot the vandals that just want to destroy, delete content or add profanities. These cases instead, and also the cases where people add elaborate false information, are much more difficult to deal with, but they are outside the realm of paid advocacy in my opinion. In this sense, I consider these action as coming not from a paid-advocate admin, but from a rogue admin. I do not think that paid advocacy should a priori be incompatible with adminship, but I can see that this can undermine the trust that a community as in an administrator, as such I think that communities should adopt policy to deal with cases complementing the policies already in force about paid advocacy (for example, to me it would be much less problematic to see an admin working as a Wikipedian in residence in a like-minded institution for a period).
Like it or not, paid editing is the future of Wikipedia and some of its sister projects like Wikivoyage and Wikibooks. Even with dwindling editor numbers, Wikipedia continues to become more important. There were days when a favourable Wikipedia entry was worth 100 US$. We are now at ten or a hundred times that amount, and we will get to the big sums sooner or later. No policy will prevent that editors convert their long-term experience into hard cash.
The first answer is to continuously increase our base of editors. All our current policies favour big numbers of like-minded people, be it various revert rules, deletion discussions, votes, or RfCs. And numbers of adversaries are what makes advocacy expensive: I can hire one skilled editor and let them put spin on articles, that's reasonably cheap. If I have to hire three dozen because my one skilled editor runs into an army of volunteers, that's expensive.
The second answer is to explicitly allow, even encourage, paid editing. If we drive it underground it will be much harder to fight, and a lot of paid editing is not actually malicious.
Of our editors with advanced permissions we should request something along the w:Hippocratic Oath; These editors should always disclose payment they receive for their work, be it as editor or by using their buttons. To enforce this, we could use the popularity or our web site to our advantage: Asking every admin, bureaucrat, and steward to identify themselves to the Foundation, and threatening to expose their real names and to document their unethical behaviour once proven beyond reasonable doubt. I know this is a drastic suggestion, and it is more an editor's idea of what to do, than a future Board member's area of activity.
Now, here you're asking me as potential Board member. Paid advocacy editing is a reality. I believe WMF should have close relations to established and upstart businesses in this area. They should develop a Code of Ethics together, and subscribe to regulations comparable to those of journalist watchdogs.
I think any edit that is intentionally not neutral is a problem. Paid or not. We have POV warriors bent on introducing biased content for free. The ToU gives us tools to deal with paid editors, and communities can add their own policies as well. Some had in place mechanisms to regulate paid editing long before the ToU update, remember. All users, including admins, have to follow these rules. Spanish Wikipedia for example has a process to recall admins who do not follow policy, maybe other projects can adopt something similar. Paid (and non-paid) advocacy is one of the biggest challenges we have. Finding a solution that works for all projects, regardless of language, is the issue. More eyes (=users) on content could work.
I support Jimmy’s distinction between paid editing [any circumstance where someone might get paid for editing] and paid advocacy [specifically getting paid to promote a point of view on-wiki]. Paid advocacy is where we have the problem -- we don’t want someone actively trying to make content non-neutral, for hire. And yes, I think that is a problem, because much of the trust people have in the site comes from our neutrality and our good-faith effort to provide good information: scandals and promotional articles undermine this. (Paid editing is a more complex topic: for instance, I work at a university, and I would love to convince the subject-matter experts here that it is a good idea to contribute to Wikipedia during the course of their daily work).
I do not have fantastic ideas about what to do about advocacy, though, other than perhaps (as for many other problems) better global patrolling tools to more easily catch questionable patterns of edits. I do believe we should be careful to try and help good-faith editors who may fall afoul of the ToS accidentally, much as we would with any other new editor -- there are plenty of people who work for companies who can contribute useful information about that company or industry, but the content must speak for itself and they must often be helped by experienced editors. I am not in favor of drastic measures (global identifications, etc), in part because I think it will only serve to drive off good-faith editors and not do anything for those who want to intentionally game the system, and because I want to find ways that do not involve our existing editor base spending ever-increasing amounts of time policing.
You don’t have to be a paid editor in order to try to influence articles on vaccination, evolution, or presidential candidates in a way not compatible with the neutral point of view. On the other hand, you can be a paid editor and create, extend, and maintain brilliant articles on certain topics.
I don’t think the board has much power to fight the issue of contributors deviating from the neutral point of view. We can call for and support research, initiatives and development into understanding and researching the topic. In fact, the research program RENDER, for which I co-wrote the proposal, managed to implement and validate a few interesting ideas to better understand and expose such issues, but also didn’t manage to find any easy answers for this.
I agree that undisclosed paid editing were their is a conflict of interest is a significant issue. It puts our projects shared good name in jeopardy and we must do more to try to deal it.
One possible measure which would balance our concerns regarding privacy with those regarding paid editing could be to create a group of elected functionaries with both the mandate, legal protection, and extra tool such as check user to address this.
Other possibilities include working with the websites at which this sort of business is transacted and request their support in closing down the accounts on their site which are involved in undisclosed work.
I do not see Wikipedians in Residence as falling into the concerning group described. While they may, if for example the Cochrane Collaboration was to have their WiR work to improve the articles about the organization itself, this typically does not occur.
I am of the position that paid editing where a conflict of interest in present is incompatible with adminship. If that paid editing is undisclosed de adminship would be reasonable. I think the movement as a whole needs to eventually discuss this specific issue but first we need a group able to carry out the investigations. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:14, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I support the site-wide requirement that paid or financial conflict of interest needs to be identified either on the talk page of the article in question or the user talk page of the editor in question. Content is a matter of community control for those Wikipedias with sufficient critical mass for self-administration and it is not really the business of WMF micromanaging that. There is even less place for the WMF Board to begin trying to micromanage that. English Wikipedia has arrived at a reasonable equilibrium on the question, which has not stopped the radical minority from seeking intervention from San Francisco. I'm not supportive of their efforts to have paid WMF staff begin swinging the cudgel, they have other things to do and we are perfectly capable of community self-management of content, as always. Carrite (talk) 19:47, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I'll assume you're limiting the focus here to paid advocates, not GLAM staff or professional researchers or archivists.
A good question for the Board here is: how significant a problem is this; do we have the right information to observe its current impact; should it be a medium or long-term priority? The biggest priority is certainly high-volume advocacy, in general. Once we can't detect it as quickly as it is contributed, this becomes a more serious problem : the more effective spam is on a site, the more spammers come to it. Two things that we could do about it are invest in better automated edit analysis, and emphasize our culture of npov v. one of publicity.
The core dilemma around paid advocacy rather than subject advocacy is that it encourages specialization: allowing an arms race of propaganda techniques. While the Scientologists will always have quirks that give them away, and will only invest so much time in gaming any one publicity outlet - a professional advocate can spend full time gaming a single system, and convincing as many subjects as possible that they should massage their public image.
I don't know that it helps to set different standards for admins than for other editors: if discovery leads to being blocked, then admins and established accounts already have more to lose.
Paid advocacy is indeed a trivial aspect. On the Hindi Wikipedia itself, we've three-four accounts promoting the biography and writing of a poet named Ravindra Prabhat. Surprisingly, these very accounts have promoted the poet in other languages such as Japanese, Arabic, Fiji Hindi, etc. I think glaringly promotional (advocacy) accounts operating on multiple Wiki Projects are a class of different nature, and has to be dealt separately. --Muzammil (talk) 13:25, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Trying to deal with individual bad faith paid editors at the WMF level is asking for trouble. There's too much activity, and it would be a massive drain on resources; the only use might be if we can send a message by exposing high profile offenders, like with @parliamentedits.
Fundamentally, if editors are acting contrary to established community standards, they should be dealt with appropriately, whether they are paid or not. If we are to act positively, then we should e.g. educate common classes of offenders, like with the Donovan House Agreement.
thank you for your question. I see a difference between paid editing (being paid) and paid advocacy (being paid to promote a point of view). Paid editing is not wrong in itself. Indeed many Wikimedians in Residence have done a great job. Paid advocacy however goes directly against our guidelines of a neutral point of view. I do not see a direct solution, except to stay vigilant. Disclosing paid editing will not stop paid advocacy. Yet making it "more illegal" certainly helps to discourage. It is important that we keep discussing this topic. Keep it at our attention. Yet at the same time keep good faith. Do not let it stop us from creating the best content we can by working together. I hope this answers your question.
Concerning which seat a trustee has Edit
You are applying for one of the community-selected board seats. How do you interpret this part in comparison or contrast to a chapter-selected, appointed, or founder seat (or any future "special" seat)? Does or should it matter after all in which way one obtained a board seat? → «« Man77 »» [de] 09:53, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I personally think that special seats are required in WMF Boari. There are some people who were leading the creation of Wikimedia Foundation. They need special recognition. I think that a person like Mr. Jimmy Wales who militates to create Wikipedia and Wikimedia Foundation should not be like all other members of this important Board... Such people are those who insure stable funding to the institution. Sponsors would not like to fund an organization if it does not know that they are several administrators who are going to work within the Board for some years. They would like to negociate funding with a unique representative and not begin from nothing each three years... However, community members have distinct roles within this important board. They have to discuss the creation of new wikis and the creation of new versions of wikis in several new languages. They have also to discuss how to create some procedures to insure the quality of projects and works within a specific wiki and transmit the community matters. So, the holders of special seats do not have the same role as the holders of community seats. They are doing distinct and complementary actions in order to develop and maintain the quality of the WMF wikis and the stability of Wikimedia Foundation. --Csisc (talk) 11:00, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
When it comes to the BOT's, I think , it does not matter whether the seat is selected by the community , chapters or the Founder himself. As everyone here, have an aim and that to make Wikimedia revolution large, empower people and let people access free knowledge.
- Founder's Seat : Jimmy Wales has initiated this way to provide Free knowledge to everyone. So, his decisions is also important to us for the growth of Wikimedia.
- Chapter Selected Seat : They chooses their representative to represent for all good and bad within them. It encourages the involvement of Chapters within Wikimedia Foundation. Growth of chapters leads to the growth of that particular community and even most of the time their initiatives are helpful to us like; Wikidata initiated by Wikimedia Deutschland , Wiki Loves Earth by Wikimedia Ukraine etc.
- Community Selected Seat : Community always plays an important role in Wikimedia Movement. People from different community get a chance to share their experience globally, being a member of Board. When different people from different community gathers their a new idea grows.
We know everything here happens in democratic manner, There shouldn't be any question that how they got a seat. So, All total I don't find any comparison or contrast of these seats, as all of them are equally important to us. -- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs)
The founder seat is reserved for Jimbo. The chapter seats are reserved for chapter representatives - for good and for the bad, chapters are and will be an important part of our movement and have a major role to play (although, just as with the WMF, there needs to be some community oversight, to avoid bureaucratization, deviations from our mission, etc.). The community-selected seats in theory are designed as reserved for people representing the community at large, who are not chapter-related. However, quite naturally, since chapter activists are also, in general, our movement activists, and since chapter activists are also generally more active in any elections, the community seats may often be taken by people with chapter experience. I don't think that so far it has been problematic in any way, although (as a person who made a conscious choice never to run for a chapter board seat) I think there is some value in diversity in this respect and thus the voters could take this into account (Speaking of diversity, as Josh has mentioned, it is sorely lacking on the Board: so far never ever a person outside of Northern America or Western Europe has been elected). Finally, the appointed seats, by current design, serve two functions: they increase outside expertise and they increase diversity. This means that in fact they should be appointed after community and chapter seats are taken (to understand what kind of expertise and diversity is most lacking). As far as expertise goes, I am convinced that within the movement we already have plenty of highly qualified people, who also know our movement well. While external expertise is useful, I think that it could be channeled through board advisers or non-voting members, rather than full members. I am generally inclined to prefer people from within our movement and the community at large to take the appointed seats (be it expertise or diversity). Once people join the board, however, they should act in the best interest of our movement, and leave the way they joined the Board behind, with all the interests they may have vested. Pundit (talk) 12:42, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
No it doesn't matter , as we all work together for a common goal. and the chapters' seats are very a good idea
It's clear that once you sit on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, your responsibility should be to the movement at large. While I do think that the way you make it to the Board (except Jimmy's seat, for obvious reasons) reflects the skill set and voice you bring, those skill sets should be complementary to one another in order to ensure that the Board functions effectively as a collegial body. It doesn't matter if your expertise with affiliates, your viewpoints from outside the movement, your non-traditional "diverse" background (and again, I stress that diversity is sorely lacking in the Board) or your ability to represent the community's best interests is what got you a seat—what matters is that your expertise will help give the bigger picture that is needed to ensure that the Foundation is run effectively and that the movement has a strong leadership to look up to. --Sky Harbor (talk) 06:03, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Anyone participating in a Board should do so as one amongst equals, and make decisions on the basis of what is good for the organization as a whole. Of course they are free to address issues which relate to their 'constituency' on the basis of their own knowledge and experience, but they should have no right or expectation that such opinions should be accorded intrinsically greater value than those of other members. It is up to board members to be informed, to discuss, to seek to persuade if they wish, and hopefully to assist at arriving at a clear consensus. --Smerus (talk) 12:38, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
One of the points of my proposal to specializing the permanent seats of founders this can make an opportunity of increasing a number of Community BOT, but also to think on contents representation, if I success to be among of the BOT’s member I will recommend to my colleges a big reform of WMF policy for enabling fair and sharing as one community in this global, I just give an example of African Continent I know that we are two contestinds from the sub Saharan Africa, I in the BOT and one from Ghana on the FDC its now opportunities to bring a fair leadership to the WMF. Francis Kaswahili Talk, 16:51, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that which seat a representative is elected (or selected or appointed) in should play a major difference. After all, as stated in the FDC pledge of commitment I believe that every board member should «faithfully pursue the mission and goals of the Wikimedia movement, namely to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.» (by the way, I like much more the FDC pledge of commitment because it talks about the Wikimedia movement and not just the Wikimedia Foundation, contrast that with the pledge of commitment for WMF board members). In this light I do not think that having experience as a volunteer in a chapter should be seen as a drawback or a lack of diversity, I think it only testifies the commitment of a volunteer in his own context (I do think that there are many other dimensions where diversity is important, though).
Once you sit on the Board the way you got there should not matter much anymore. But appointed board members should be an exception, not the rule. We have accountants, lawyers, software engineers, academics, politicians, brick layers, nurses, and fire fighters in our editing communities. We don't need appointed Board members per se. Only if it turns out that, as a result of popular elections, the Board is lacking certain areas of expertise, is co-opting a (possibly non-voting) specialist a good option. The Co-founder seat is special to Wikimedia and should be kept. The chapters' seats are a good idea, too.
Of course, diversity is always a challenge if Board members are not appointed but elected. I assume it is unlikely that the result of the popular vote will be a diverse candidate set, also and particularly this year. But if the electorate decides that their seats should all be taken by technocrats or by high-impact editors or by academics or by outspoken critics, then that is that. The credibility of how a Board has been assembled is, in my opinion, more important than its diversity.
It shouldn't matter, but in practice it does. I don't refer to votes, they all have the same value, and opportunities to participate within the Board are equal. But take for instance when we discuss Board composition, don't you get a feeling that of the four types of seats, only two (community and affiliates) are the ones open to debate for increasing/decreasing and merging/dissolving/changing? I suppose it is something open for interpretation. I do think there is value in having both community seats and affiliate seats, for one the latter have been more successful adding diversity to the Board imho.
It's important that everyone (candidates and voters) realize that there *is no formal difference* between the seats. As Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, the job of all ten of us is to act in the interests of the Wikimedia Foundation. That is our specific, legal job, and there are no special powers, duties, responsibilities, etc. assigned to any trustee except the officers. The various seat-selection mechanisms mainly ensure that people with different types of experience are represented on the Board. It is highly unusual to have a US nonprofit of our size that is governed by people who are not major donors or fellow executive directors. Our election and selection mechanisms mean that is not true for us: we are governed in large part by project participants.
As a community candidate, I see my role is to (first and foremost) be a responsible trustee, and to bring both my Wikimedian values and experience to the table. And when questions of values come up, I argue for what I see as core Wikimedia tenets (for example, openness, free knowledge, community governance). This is not something that is solely the responsibility of elected trustees, however!
No, it should not make a difference.
As I said in Question 5 on the first page, the Board is not a parliament. No Trustee represents the interests of any group - we all work together for a common goal. Whether I would be elected or appointed, I would support the Board and the Foundation and the movement as a whole in the same way and with the same energy.
All the positions on the Board are mission driven. So the Board members should be committed towards the community and the movement as a whole. It does not matter whether a seat is a community elected one, a chapter-selected one, an appointed one or the founder seat.
Wikimedia work is a team work. WMF is not the company and the Wikimedians are not its employees. The decisions of WMF to take the wikimedians into the board is itself a token of democracy and an act of appreciation. If the wikimedians (community people) are boarded in WMF board, it will give a wider scope of democracy. The community, as the backbone of this movement, should have the representation in the board. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 17:06, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Everyone on the board should be working to the best of their ability to achieve the shared goal of improving Wikipedia. The reason to have a fixed number of different seats assigned to different group of people is to make sure the board contains a diverse group with differing expertise. Once on the board all involved are equals who simply bring different perspectives to the table.
How a trustee is elected should not matter. All have the same duty to support the WMF, and to support the projects and the community. However community selections, by limiting candidates to active participants on the project, ensure that a minimum number of Trustees will have that direct experience. This is what is meant in the Bylaws when it says that a majority of Trustees will be from the community. –SJ talk 02:22, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I believe in reaching out more enthusiastically to communities - take for instance my efforts in writing blogs for Maithili, Esperanto and Punjabi on WMF blog. I also advocated Hindi Wiki Sammelan and I am glad to be part of the Hindi Wiki Sammelan in Delhi in February this year. Thus, I see my role as a strategizing individual for the reached and unreached linguistic communities on the board.--Muzammil (talk) 13:25, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
A good board is like a swiss army knife. It makes sense to me to actively seek a wide range of specialist skills. Technology, finance, governance etc for sure - but also knowing a lot of people across the community, knowing how the projects function day to day, knowing the history of the projects, are all useful (and different) skills as well, and much harder to find on a CV.
thank you for your question. All board members are equal. Obviously different people will have different areas of expertise. I value such expertise and will certainly listen to people who are knowledgeable about a subject at hand. I hope this answers your question.
Level of board involvement in major decisions Edit
The WMF Board of Trustees is an oversight group, not a "working" board. However, what do you believe should be the appropriate level of consultation for major decisions? For example, the current Board of Trustees was not specifically briefed on the WMF decision to sue the NSA, nor was it specifically briefed on the recent major restructure of the largest department (engineering). Do you believe the Board should have known about these major decisions beforehand? If so, how do you ensure that the Board is not "meddling" in the Executive's ability to lead the way they see fit? If not, how do you ensure that the Board is accountable for the WMFs decisions "under your watch"? Wittylama (talk) 13:59, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
In the one hand, I do not think that the board should be consulted for every action done by the staff of Wikimedia Foundation. This will harm the flexibility of work within the WMF team. These actions could be agreed and adjusted by the team itself. But, I think that the WMF Board should be given a detailed report about the actions of the WMF Team in order to control them and see if deficiencies exist. However, I think that important and major decisions should be taken by the Board (Creation of new wikis, Funding Issues, Regular Control, Solving problems...) and the departmental issues are not the responsibility of the Board. The Board gives some queries to the departments of the WMF Team and the WMF Teams are required to give results to the WMF Board and not how they got their results.
In the other hand, I think that the role and the actions of the WMF Board are misunderstood by communities because of the way the Board interfered those years to solve problems and that is why such questions are common. So, if I will be elected to the Board of Trustees, I will try to organize and explain the fields of action of each board and committee so that the Board can control all actions and so that the flexibility of work would not be affected. Many people think that the Board is only responsible for actions including money and obligation and unfortunately, the actions of the WMF Board had supported this overview... However, this will not be true if I will be elected because I will try to propose decisions that have wider effects and adjust as many wikis and communities as possible, that can be made only by the Board and that are absolutely free. --Csisc (talk) 10:13, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
I do not know, whether the Board is working or not. However, I feel that at-least for the name sake of BOT's, WMF should provide detailed information on major decisions or changes to BOT's . On other hand , I believe that the Board shouldn't always interfere on matter of WMF. If the decision/changes made will gain community advantage, then it's should be known by the board or by the community for better discussions.- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 15:17, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
The Board should not be involved in hands-on decisions. However, big strategic changes should be consulted. A major restructuring or the NSA case, in my view, could be processed in a quick turn-around consultation mode, I think that a briefing would be appropriate (although I understand in the same time that the Board should not meddle too much in things smaller than the big picture). Under my watch I would insist on being informed and briefed on larger changes, but step in only when it was really called for (as an emergency thing) - I would not consider the mentioned cases to require intervention, but a briefing. However, I would say that our movement is very specific and in many cases, which normally would just involve the exec and sometimes the board, for us community consultations would be appropriate. Engineering department restructuring is an internal WMF affair to large extent, while the decision to sue NSA could be consulted more widely (and probably receive a lot of community support as well). Pundit (talk) 17:36, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
While it is true that the Board is not a working Board, I think that they should definitely be informed beforehand when major strategic changes that could affect the direction of the movement and/or the Foundation specifically are being considered. The mere fact that they're being briefed on these changes happening does not necessarily mean that the Board is meddling in or is micromanaging the Foundation's affairs; rather, the Board should generally play an advisory role in these changes happening and these decisions being made.
That being said, we must also consider that should Board action be taken for any major decision that involves them specifically intervening, this should be exercised sparingly, and only when it absolutely has to after consulting with the community first. I intend to uphold this: I prefer to be briefed on decisions of major importance, and I would only step in only when absolutely necessary after getting the pulse of the community. After all, we serve at the community's pleasure, right? --Sky Harbor (talk) 05:45, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Basically the Executive and the Board should be effectively a 'team', as they are all washing in the same (metaphorical) water - we should expect them to share principles and objectives, and to respect each other's roles. I very much doubt whether it is possible to lay down in advance when consultations are appropriate. The Executive will make decisions (including decisions as to whether consultation of the Board is appropriate) and report back to the Board. If the Board is not satisfied with these reports or feels that the executive has overstepped its mandate in undertaking some action without consultation, it will make this known to the Executive and work out with the Executive what (if any) are the consequences and action to take. It is not the Board's job to look over the shoulders of the Executive or to micro-manage the Executive's activities. --Smerus (talk) 11:32, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
According to rules of WMF BOT is a supervising body for any sanctions of WMF in any manner I have already explained in other part of my answers but let me tell that you can't have a bot of that type waiting a brief, to whom? aah is this question for real? may be our college want to what action can taken, let tell me tell you my dear the BOT is the mandatory body with jurisdictions of the WMF and if it happen, that is not administration system. The BOT should be given report before them self demanding, any act of officer delaying to react is incomplete of accountability and liability and I can't agree with any especially on the organization like WMF. let us come together for change, I believe on the slogan of President Barack Obama "Yes we can" As for Wikimedia Yes we Can. Francis Kaswahili Talk 21:55, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I would expect the board to be briefed for such actions like the ones you mention and give at least a quick approval. This is because if one hand the board have to provide strategic guidance it has also to function has a guarantor to the community, i.e. it has to take the "political" responsibility for WMF actions and be prepared to face possible consequences in term of this political responsibility. This of course requires the board members to be informed. I can imagine some cases (i.e. emergency cases where a quick response need to be put in place) where the board consultation follows a specific action but this should not be standard.
Actually I am shocked to have to answer this question, and the reason is this: In every organisation (known to me) that is overseen by a Board there are clear policies and guidelines for which decisions the Board has to be briefed, and for which decisions the Board has to be asked for approval. For instance, changing the organisational structure is typically subject to Board approval, while individual lawsuits are not. Actions that for other reasons impact on mission and vision, like suing the NSA, again are. That's apparently not the case in the WMF. So I see an urgent task coming up for the new Board: To sit with the WMF defining where Board input is mandatory, where it is recommended, and where it is not needed.
- Expanding on my answer in light of the response of the sitting Board members, and considering how a question with so many incorrect assumptions can come up: How is the community supposed to know what the Board was briefed on, and what it discussed, resolved, endorsed, rejected? Maybe I didn't find it, but there seem to be no published minutes for the August 2014 Board meeting. Is this all the community is allowed to read about that two-day meeting? What is that? What are the 'October minutes' it mentions, are they confidential?---For the sake of transparency, there need to be professional minutes taken and availed to the community. If you elect me I will push that through.
- Hi Peter, resolutions are published on http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Resolutions, minutes are on http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Meetings. This hasn't been well documented here on meta. I fixed some links and hope it helps to find these information better in the future. Alice Wiegand (talk) 07:47, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
As has been said, the Board did get briefed. To avoid "meddling", I think you have to be perfectly clear about what is the role of the Executive Director and what is the role of the Board. The Board is not composed of ten Executive Directors, nor is the ED the eleventh Board member. Clarity of roles and good communication help to avoid this. So if we take the example you offered, the reorganization of engineering falls squarely on the ED, but the Board is updated about it.
First, I'm not totally sure where you're getting your information from -- we did get briefed on both of those issues, and have been briefed since as well. Does that mean that we argued over legal strategy with the general counsel, or over the product management org chart with the ED? No -- those are granular issues that are firmly within the area of the staff. Making these decisions in the first place is also firmly within the role of the ED and staff.
As for how to be accountable -- all of the trustees, especially considering our vocal and vigilant community, must be comfortable with being accountable for decisions that they did not make :) That is the nature of the job. But what I look for in evaluating WMF actions, in general: (for something like the reorg) are goals set, for engineering, do those goals advance our strategy, and then are those goals met well? Does it seem like there are good or bad long-term trends (i.e. all of our senior engineers leave, or conversely we are gaining great people and software development is speeding up?) Does the action generally fit within our mission, does it fit with our values, and does it not conflict with other goals and actions?
Based on Phoebe's and Sj's answer, I am glad to hear that your premise is wrong: the Board was briefed on both issues, and I think both issues have sufficient strategic impact to necessitate such a briefing. If I were a Boardmember, I'd be rather unhappy to hear about the NSA lawsuits from the newspaper.
The Board Handbook describes the separation of concerns between the Board and the Executive Director. I trust that over the years this has developed well, but it is also a matter of personalities of both the Executive Director as well as the individual Trustees. In the end, I expect a trusting (sorry for the pun) work relationship between the Board and the Executive Director to develop, and the Director to know on which topics she is not only required to inform the Board, but also for which topics it would be particular beneficial for the Foundation.
WMF Board of Trustees should be consulted in detail before implementation of any major decisions. I believe that does not hamper the status of the BoT as a “working’ board at all. The kind of decisions you have mentioned have great impact on the community and the movement; these decisions may even change the course of many movement dynamics. It is the duty of the Board to represent the community and getting abreast with such major decisions are among the core responsibilities of the Board. A structured and clear operational protocol for implementation of such decisions can resolve this problem and eliminate all misunderstandings.
The board should provide guiding principle with the nuts and bolts of how to achieve them left to the WMF staff in collaboration with the editing community. While I am supportive of the NSA suit, IMO there should have been greater consultation with the editor community prior to us joining. Noting of course that what is left out of most of the media attention is the other 8 organizations who we have sided with. And that legal services are provided by the American Civil Liberties Union rather than donor funds thus we are not expose to significant expenses. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:36, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the Board's role is oversight, not micromanagement either of the affairs of the San Francisco office or the content of this, that, or the other language encyclopedia and the communities governing them. That said: it is impossible to perform the task of oversight without full, accurate, timely information and I would push very hard to make sure that there are monthly reports from either the Executive Director or a top level deputy chosen by the Executive Director. I believe that WMF is currently in good hands, but it is absolutely vital that complete information flows frequently and regularly. Carrite (talk) 20:07, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Liam, the current board mainly provides strategic input as much as oversight. You're right that it is no longer an operational board (as it was when Sue was first hired :)
But part of the question is mistaken: The board was specifically briefed on the NSA case before staff committed to it, and had time to raise any concerns. The case itself was the responsibility of the legal team, but the board confirmed that it was aligned with our mission and worth being very publicly linked to the proceedings. And the board has been continuously briefed on the restructuring of the tech department, which started before our new ED was appointed. The details of org structure are the business of the ED, but the board is regularly informed as this changes. The ED and board chair have more regular checks and consultations to see if anything needs to be flagged for the whole board.
A good ED-board team works together to make major decisions. Active communication in both directions: the board sharing its priorities, the ED sharing aspirations and current major initiatives. You avoid meddling by distinguishing for each issue: who is consulted in making a decision; who approves that it has been done properly; and who is informed once it is done. The board approves a well-defined set of decisions: major changes in strategy, budget, or funders [anything that might influence our neutrality]. On other topics the board is consulted, sometimes extensively, but doesn't formally approve the results.
thank you for your question. The board should be kept informed on issues like these. Issues that have a major impact for our community. Answers from current board members indicate that the board was informed about both issues, which is what I would expect. It is up to the executive director to have the good judgement when they should inform the board. This is a matter of trust. Moreover I think it should be common that the board asks for more information on topics. The board should not passively accept information given, but actively think along with the ideas presented and give (general) feedback to the executive. Specific actions are within the confines of the executive, yet it is important that the overal actions of the executive expres the wishes of the board and by extension the community. Ultimately the executive director answers to the board. I hope this answers your question.
Bad faith edits Edit
Do you think a version of w:Wikipedia:Gaming the system should be added to Meta-wiki? What are your opinions on identifying and tolerating habitual bad faith edits? How important do you think it is to distinguish and be patient by assuming good faith edits, such as by new or enthusiastic editors at Wikipedia? Thank you. -- Sidelight12 02:44, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
- Sorry, I'll clarify a little. I'm concerned with systematic bad faith, not with insignificant acts. There is some overlap with above questions relating to abuse, disputes, and child protection. -- Sidelight12 21:55, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I think that such actions are currenly existing in Wikis. However, judging a given action as a system gaming is subjective and could be not very accurate. So, I do not think that it would be a good idea to consider judging users for gaming the system in any of the wikis. If the guidelines and the rules of wikis are not very accurate, more specific rules should be added to them in order to inhibit all unethical actions in the near future... --Csisc (talk) 09:50, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Dear Sidelight12, I think for certain Wikimedia projects, we can have system gaming. However, It can't be implemented as an Universal policy because every Wikimedia project have its own policy of working. Please correct me, but pressurizing editors or binding them with certain barriers can't help us improving/growing to certain level. This is personal view, I think we need to debate on such policies before making it universal.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 18:14, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I am against the bureaucratic creed. I also support wide autonomy of projects. Thus, I do not endorse adding behavioral guidelines of one project to meta level (I read your question as relatwd to cross - project propagation, rather than just meta itself). In a Wikimania 2013 presentation I showed that en-wiki has several million words of regulations and essays of this sort :) This is all not to say that gaming the system is good. There are just also many other, equally important issues, e.g. on Wikilawyering, dsirupting Wikipedia to make a point, and others. You need to remember that members of our communities get a feeling of ownership and agency when creating their own rules. On many non-English projects mechanistic application of en-wiki rules is frowned upon and perceived as imposing. Also, all projects have to deal with the issue you signal in some way anyhow. Having written that, I have to add that I believe that identifying bad faith edits is very important (please, observe, that here I write about action, not guidelines accumulation). For me personally, good faith edits require patience, guidance, and not biting, most of the time. Bad faith edits need to be weeded out - since their authors get better and better versed in our rules with time, so finally they destroy Wikipedia with low detection probability. Thus, I am in full support of developing mechanisms of bad faith edits and their prevention. While all projects develop own approaches, on a meta level we can offer good practices, and sometimes tools.
I agree that we can use a universal policy where its use is warranted and where we need to standardize behaviors across projects. This is one of those cases, but given the conflicting interpretations of what "gaming the system" entails, we should do so carefully and with respect for the traditions of other Wikimedia communities who may think differently from their counterparts on the English Wikipedia. After all, many times over this discussion delves into grey areas where we have to make judgement calls where not everyone will be happy. Assuming bad faith is never always clean-cut.
That being said, I think that we need to foster a culture of good faith, particularly from newer editors who have yet to be fully immersed in our community. We can't expect everyone to get things right the first time, and we shouldn't presume this. However, what is then demanded of editors is that they too must operate under a presumption of good faith, and too often people fail to internalize this. It should always be possible to change a Wikipedian's behavior: I remember Tarawneh saying in a blog post (or article; can't remember where I read it) covering the early history of the Arabic Wikipedia that, and I'm paraphrasing here, "it didn't matter what their behavior was so long as they helped the project, because we can always change them (behavior)". This is the type of culture that we need to foster on our projects, not a culture of suspicion and mistrust.
If however you have a record of being disruptive, then the onus is on you to either shape out or be shipped out. A universal application of what constitutes bad behavior is beneficial, but we have to have a serious discussion on what those values are. But if you ask me, such a policy reduces the potential for abusing grey areas in what constitutes bad faith, and also solidifies to an extent what sort of behavior we expect of our contributors and community members. --Sky Harbor (talk) 17:17, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Sidelight12 Editing is editing whether with good faith or bad faith provided doesn't violate copyright and if you were meaning of editing with wrong manner that's a vandalism and it can be acted as vandalism, to be honest no body can diced to edit with Bad faith if its not for real either creating of project it's not a jock and no body can force creator to create to meta - wiki or Wikipedia and it's technical issue if you are competent just do it bu if you vandalize action against you to follow. Francis Kaswahili Talk, 20:47, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
I do not see why this matter should be regulated by the board and not by the community through policies or guidelines. Every community is different (or, better, diverse) and I think that every community wants to be able to set its own boundaries for good vs bad faith edits.
That's not for the Board to resolve. But as you have asked, wikilawyering, in every isolated case, should result in one of the two things: Either, telling them that their interpretation is ridiculous and closing the hole that the wikilawyer was exploiting. Or, acknowledging that the wikilawyer was right and starting a community discussion about whether this interpretation of the rules was intended or not. Without a follow-up in each case we are wasting our time.
This is a community matter. I would be very hesitant to create a universal policy based on what may happen in one or two projects, I would rather have a global RfC and see what people would want. Toxic users usually have supporters, so it takes a strong community to face them and protect their project.
I know you are asking about systematic bad faith, but I’ll answer your first question first: I think it is incredibly important to assume good faith of new users. It is paramount. I am guessing that most of the long-time editors participating or reading here were at some point welcomed with good faith -- I was, in 2003, and that experience meant I wanted to come back to edit more, and here I am over a decade later, still passionate about the Wikimedia projects. I encourage us all to remember this, to slow down, to take the time to understand and empathize with where new editors are coming from.
At the same time, I have little patience for toxicity. If you are making other editor’s lives intentionally and persistently difficult, if you are wasting time in discussions, if you are being obstreperous by wikilawyering and finding loopholes, I don’t care how many other things you do on the project -- you’re not helping. I would like to see our site-wide culture move to one that is much less tolerant of such behavior.
As for ideas of what to do to make such a culture come about -- I don't know how powerful a policy would be. Is it useful on en.wp? I don't know. I'd rather explore other creative ideas -- radical notions of adminship, perhaps (automatically granted at a certain level of edits, but also automatically rescinded after a term?), projects being supported if they adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards bad behavior, a mechanism to downvote (and eventually hide) trolling comments in discussion... I am just brainstorming, but I would like to see us collectively discuss such ideas.
@Sidelight12:: Sorry, can you clarify what you mean with "adding the policy to Meta"? Do you literally mean to introduce and accept this as a policy for the Meta-Wiki, or do you mean to make this an universal policy for all Wikimedia projects?
- @Denny: For universal policy. My question was on opinions on bad faith and identifying it, based on that policy. I'll add, differently than the gaming the system policy, I didn't intend for it to be for content disputes and differences in point of view for content. If not policy based on that, are there other measures that you believe would address those potential problems? -- Sidelight12 01:31, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification. In general, I am not a friend of global policies if they can be avoided. From my experience at Wikidata, global policies can be quite a pain for some projects that are sufficiently different. Even NPOV - which I regard pretty sacred for most Wikipedias - is treated rather creatively on English Wikiversity, and is explicitly replaced on Wikivoyage. We have more than seven hundred projects, and it is hard to understand the impact of a global policy on them. I am extremely proud of the WMF and the communities for their achievement in forging Terms of Services which are not only short and clear, but also widely applauded and lauded by external observers. Lifting any policy - including Wikipedia's Gaming the System policy that you ask about, or a similar policy regarding Bad faith edits - should, in my opinion meet with a very high bar.
On the other hand, helping the smaller communities with translations and discussions when selecting and building their own rules, that's something I think would be quite beneficial. I do think that policies that allow the local communities to effectively deal with trolls, bad behavior, toxic editors, etc. are important and useful. But even more I believe in the autonomy of each individual project to choose their own such rules.
Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects are offered in a wide range of languages and each of the language communities have their own culture, social context and thus the sociocultural dynamics of one community is very diverse from that of another community. As a result, there is no one perfect formula that works for every community. As a result, I believe that the communities should have the sole discretion on deciding how they are going to make distinction between a good faith edit and a bad faith edit. Implementation of any such policy should rest on the community itself and it also applies to meta-wiki as well.
I guess the first question is is this a significant enough problem on meta for this sort of policy to be required? I have only made a couple thousand of edits to meta and have not seen problems within the areas I have worked of this nature but of course may have missed issues in other areas. I am against creating policy for problems that are either not significant or are solved easily with common sense.
On the question of identifying bad faith edits versus good faith edits, this is difficult. Some edits are obviously bad and some obviously good faith but many lie in a grey area inbetween and we are left with a judgment call. We should generally assume good faith. This does not necessarily mean that a block to prevent further disruption may not be warranted while a person explains themselves such as with issues of repeated copyright violations. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:18, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
- @Doc James: I think so. A few other board questions seem to be about recent wiki-wide issues, and some point to examples. The issues seem common, but all of them may not be in bad faith. There's more added to my question above, that gets a little more specific. -- Sidelight12 01:31, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't edit on Meta and have no specific opinion for the need for that. With respect to English-Wikipedia, the doctrine of "gaming the system" is all too often used by insiders to deflect rule-based argument. There is nothing wrong with the rule of law, with written strictures defining what can and cannot be done. So I would advise caution and consideration before adapting such thinking. (I have no idea how this question relates to the WMF Board, frankly.) Carrite (talk) 00:30, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Assuming good faith of new editors is key to being welcoming, and to inviting everyone to edit. Everyone comes with different expectations and goals; we shouldn't judge them too harshly on their early work.
Once someone has been around for a while, and has developed patterns of contribution, their work can be evaluated more easily. Finding ways to flag bad faith contribution, or slowing down such contribution, is important. Meta can serve as a hub for the work done on each project. No need for a global policy; most projects get by without one, and the less policy-creep the better.
I take the example of Hindi Wikipedia here. Durinf 14-15 April 2015, there were massive edits and Nepali article creations on Hindi Wikipedia by IPs from Kathmandu in Nepal. This was a well-planned disruptive editing exercise. Since no admin was available at that moment, I had to appear on Meta and take a stewards help in blocking IPs and deleting the stuff. But this is a rare thing. I believe that the normal practice of "assuming good faith of new editors is key to inviting everyone to edit" and hence unless a predetermined "vandalistic spirit" is not shown, we should not assume one.--Muzammil (talk) 13:25, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Most people join the community because they:
- Realise our projects are important
- Find something they want to change, and then
- Figure out how to edit
These are huge hurdles! We've not yet figured out a good way to teach muggles to become community members, but we have had much success teaching new community members what we've learned about collaborative work and fufilling the mission. I'd rather we get better at educating people than getting better at kicking people out.
thank you for your question. For a community to function well, we need to assume good faith. Being kind and welcoming to one another. That is the best way to make all editors feel welcome, and create a good atmosphere to work in. That being said, people who play the system, who intentionally cloud issues, waste time in discussions etc., should not be tolerated. I don't care how many good edits people do, you should not systematically ruine the project for others. That does not help the project grow. I do not know whether or not we need a guideline for this. This is up to the community, and not up to the board. Personally I think it is mostly up to our attitude towards playing the system. If we can all agree that we want to act in a certain way, and do not tolerate playing the system, then we can put this into practice, with or without a guideline. I hope this answers your question.
Retaining current volunteers versus recruiting new ones Edit
In a discussion at the ED's talk page, the Chair of the Board opined that We want to attract new editors ... All of this is going to require change, change that might not be acceptable to some of you ... if you decide to take a wiki-break, that might be the way things have to be. . Where would strike the balance between alienating existing contibutors and attracting new ones?
I don't think that attracting new users is against alineating new users. I think that promoting the quality of the edits of existing contributors will enhance the adoption of new users as these users will build some materials that explain the guidelines of WMF wikis in a way that is simple and intelligible to their home community and this will help attract new users to the WMF wikis. We can attract new users by showing them the advantages given to existing editors and specifying how easy is writing in WMF wikis. So, this is not a major problem for WMF. --Csisc (talk) 10:00, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
First of all, Anyone can [Edit] Wikipedia this is the moto of our revolution. I don't endorse the statement of alienating the existing users. Even, alienating the existing users can't attract the new one. New and old users both are dependent upon each other and they should value that. Our priority is to share free education , not to burden them who are with us as a part of this revolution.
I don't think it is an "either/or" choice. I think both goals are important. Attracting new users is crucial, as even under the best circumstances existing contributors move on, edit less frequently, etc., just because life happens. But attracting new users should definitely not happen at the expense of alienating our current editors. They are the ones who create Wikipedia here and now. They should have a really major influence on how we're going to attract new users - if they do, it is much more likely that our approaches to new editors will not alienate the existing ones. While it sounds simple, even here so far we've been struggling and making mistakes. It is the role of the Board to fix it.
We don't need to turn this into an us-versus-them discussion; rather, we should discuss how exactly is it that both groups of users can mutually benefit from each other for the benefit of the movement as a whole. This is a topic that is very close to me, so I must apologize for the long answer; bear with me here.
First of all, I strongly disagree with Carrite when he says that the idea of being one community is "anti-democratic to its very marrow". I don't care if you're a Wikipedian from a larger or smaller project, a non-Wikipedian, or you're new or old: you are still, for all intents and purposes, a Wikimedian. Giving special treatment to the top 20 Wikipedia languages simply because they're "larger" is in itself undemocratic because you effectively shut out all the other projects from the discussion, leaving it to be dominated by English, German, Spanish and French Wikipedians, to name a few. And this has very damaging consequences.
I edit a smaller Wikipedia project and a lot of Wikipedians from the smaller projects (non-top 20; heck, make that most of the non-European language Wikipedias) don't even know that the Foundation is doing things under their noses. When discussion of the image licencing resolution came around back in the day, a Malay Wikipedian asked me what on Earth was going on when the Foundation—in compliance with said resolution—started deleting fair use content from projects without EDPs. He was in utter shock because his community was not consulted on the matter. Now, if you're going to tell me that being an English Wikipedian should carry more weight simply because it's the largest community that we have, then I'm sorry but we'd be dooming ourselves from the very start. Let me emphasize here: the movement is NOT only about the U.S., Canada, Australia and Western Europe, where most contributors to our largest projects come from.
That being said, let me actually address the question at hand. I don't think onboarding new editors should necessarily lead to alienating old ones, and we HAVE to be open to our movement evolving and bringing in new blood. It won't be popular and it will step on a lot of toes, but it is necessary. On the one hand, we must make the Wikimedia projects easier to use for our newest contributors to use. For example, in the Philippines many of our newest editors use the VisualEditor, and it's worked wonders for them since it democratizes access to editing where before it was limited to those who had the patience to learn wikicode. And we've seen the results: they stay. Many of our editors for the now-recently concluded Philippine Cultural Heritage Mapping Project (CHMP) used the VisualEditor first before graduating to wikicode, and they're still going at it, editing away. Now that's progress. (On that point, I disagree that we should let the Foundation "do its work". We still have to check them to make sure that their work is in line with what the community expects of it.)
But at the same time, we definitely need to ensure that we keep older editors, since they not only set the tone for the community's onboarding efforts (meaning, how people perceive the projects to be at a social level), but also possess knowledge of the projects that the Foundation and/or the Board may not have. Older editors still dominate discussion on important movement issues, so we need to increase engagement with our editors on these issues, come up with solutions that are ground-up instead of top-down, and slowing down the pace of deploying technological improvements until we get them right. But at the same time, we as older editors have the responsibility to make sure that we're welcoming to new editors. Fact of the matter is, we've been so preoccupied with editing that we've forgotten what it's like back in the day when editing was fun and anyone and everyone could edit, to the point that we've driven away new editors, we're fighting among ourselves, and we've built such an animosity between community members, communities and the Foundation that it doesn't seem possible for us to overcome those challenges.
But we must. For our sakes, we have to. We are one community, whether you like it or not. As I've mentioned previously, Wikimedia is about the sacrifice of individual editors for the sake of the whole, and the movement doesn't revolve around us veteran editors. We need to envision our social contract as one where the input of older editors is taken into account and acted upon when building the product, but at the same time making the barriers to entry low enough that newer editors won't feel threatened by what we've built, allowing them to thrive. They may contribute a little now, but we need to build our projects so that they'd be encouraged to contribute a lot a year or so down the road. We need to encourage our newer editors to become the older editors that we are, and at the same time older editors should be reaffirmed that their place in the projects is secure. We'd all come out better for it. --Sky Harbor (talk) 06:54, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
The quality of information we provide should be non-negotiable. Greater inclusivity is a great objective, but not at the cost of the quality of what we offer. If our quality lapses, so does our reputation and we will fail. I cannot accept that the two objectives, of retaining editors and recruiting new ones, should be see as, or be expected to be, mutually exclusive. We should encourage and support all editors, old and new, to develop and improve. Dividing new and existing editors undermines the Wiki movement, rather than promoting it. "If you decide to take a wiki-break, that might be the way things have to be" - is that not the language of implicit bullying, the sort of thing we should condemn?--Smerus (talk) 06:44, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
All this depends on strategic plan to way forward for implementation of what we're obliged to perform as I can use a Swahili word of "Ukipanda bangi tegemea kuvuna Bangi" means, "If you plant a bang you must harvest bang" all the questions posted targeting to break the development thirst of the community and this can be continuously for every year of elections and to wave out the concept of bring a change. am not a politicians what I know is my responsibility and if am officially elected it's my obligation to know what is what and who is who, it's not possible for me to complain to any body else about my commitment, am a man of administration and I promise to control regulations accordingly not by force but by reconciliation and considerations. This methodology of principals shall lead on the transparency and accountability give the chance and ask me about it in the next term and if i found impossible I will tell you and what is behind and i will decided why staying on the position. Francis Kaswahili Talk 20:16, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Is there such a balance to be struck in the first place? As many other candidates have pointed out, I do not think that these two goals are mutually exclusive.
I'm afraid I share Carrite (talk · contribs)'s sentiments below. We don't need change for the sake of change, and at the expense of alienating our authors. What we need is to facilitate writing stellar content in many languages, and fostering an environment of mutual respect and appreciation. We do not need to reach out to our readers. If our content is fantastic, they will find us. We do not need to acquire armies of new editors. For as long as it is a wonderful movement of people with high social and classical intelligence, new editors will find us. We do not need to compete with the few websites that rank higher than us. They will always be there, they serve a different purpose. I would be concerned if our direct competitors move past us, but I don't see that happening. The only encyclopaedia that could ever move past us in page rank would be a fork. That fork we need to prevent.
We might need to reach out to experts because their early rejection was partly a misunderstanding and has by now formed a prejudice. We might also need to reach out to new generations that never had the chance to experience to experience the movement when it was new. But mainly we need to make sure we're all doing The Right Thing again, and all other things will fall into place.
I would hope attracting new users does not equal alienating experienced editors. I think the main point of that message was that, as with life, moving forward implies change, and some people simply do not like change. But change doesn't have to be bad, there's many ways in which the work of experienced users can be supported. The new Community engagement team aims to help with that. We do need new people to replenish those who leave if we do not want the projects to stagnate and become obsolete. Surely we can find a balance there.
It is not, I hope, an either/or question. There are plenty of things that are good for both experienced and new editors, including well-done software improvements. (For example, I can write wikitext in my sleep, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want a better citation editor -- like the new one in visual editor! -- which will be good for newer editors too.) And when needs are different, we must address them for both groups; as Denny points out, the current reorg is a recognition of this.
So the balance, I suppose, involves being aware of the impact of our choices on both groups. We could lock every page from editing; it would cut down on vandalism and make the lives of experienced page-patrollers much easier. But it would also severely impact the ability of new editors to participate, and that is not a good tradeoff.
But I’ll write a bit about the question of people leaving the projects, because how people leave a volunteer community like this one is something that has interested me for a long time. There are many ways to leave the wiki: dramatically, quietly, in anger or in sadness, or even in happiness, if you find a new passion. But here’s the thing: it is very likely that we will *all* someday leave, and that’s great. Why is it great? Because I want Wikipedia to outlast us all. Both literally: I want this project to be around in 50 or 100 years -- and figuratively, in that I expect that I, and most of us reading this, will someday find another joy or passion or activity, and I will spend less time on Wikimedia as a result. And this is natural and normal and healthy. (Perhaps the biggest reason why it’s important to welcome and recruit new editors is because current experienced editors won’t be around forever!)
Does that mean I am saying people shouldn’t argue with decisions that they don’t like, shouldn’t try to make change, should either put up or leave? No. I am a big believer in shared and collaborative governance and decision making, and that means argument and discussion and conflict (all of which can be productive). And I do not want people to leave out of anger and frustration. But I respect your right and your decision to leave, and if you do I will wish you well.
The Foundation has recently announced the creation of a Community Tech team. The task is to explicitly support core contributors. At the same time, other teams are picking up the task to make reading our projects even more enjoyable, and to ease editing also for new contributors.
The Wikimedia projects have to change. Our successes are few (although they are blindingly huge), but half of our Wikipedia language editions have less than 10 active editors. We have more than 750 projects! More than 90% of these projects are starving for new contributors. As I discussed in more detail in Question #3 that it is not the fact that we have to change, and do change, which is bothering established contributors, but the way certain changes have been deployed. There are much more disruptive changes being rolled out - the finalization of SUL, the move of language links to Wikidata - but which were welcome by the established editors.
Wikidata has recruited several thousand new contributors to the Wikimedia movement. At the same time, it has freed up the resources of many established contributors who were dealing with language links, etc. It had made them far more effective in contributing to Wikimedia, by making it easier to resolve language links conflicts, and by severely reducing the number of bot edits happening to our sites.
I think it is a false dichotomy to ask whether we should concentrate on recruiting new editors or retaining current ones. The latest restructuring recognizes that they are indeed different, and may have different needs - but the needs of both groups will be explicitly addressed.
We must not forget the 700 Wikimedia projects which are not on the top. The Board and the Foundation has a responsibility for these too.
I think retaining existing volunteers/editors is as much important as attracting new volunteers/editors. These two things can not be mutually exclusive. Existing volunteers/editors ensures sustainability of the movement and new volunteers/editors ensures growth. We can not have growth without sustaining the current achievements and similarly, sustainability depends on growth. So, there is no question of attracting new volunteers at the cost of losing existing volunteers. The goal should be to retain existing volunteers and, at the same time, to attract new volunteers as much as possible. The balance will come naturally.
“Alienate the current” can not be endorsed. The current stature of Wikimedia is because of them. We can not bring renaissance with the newbies. But both have their own significances. Take an example Telugu Wikipedia, many GLAM, workshops, community meet ups, Editathons have taken up but could not produce 10 % of new editors. The entire movement of Wikimedia is shouldered by the dedicated seniors otherwise called veteran wikimedians. If they are alienated the number of editors will fall from 100 to 5. This step is nothing but feeble the movement. If the seniors are so disruptive and aristocratic, they may be asked to take a long leave. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 19:23, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
We have no idea how to effectively attract new long term editors. We have spent millions of dollars, spent thousands of hours, and tried dozens of methods with little to no success and we should definitely continue experimenting. As we have no idea how to grow the core community we should be doing more to try to keep those already involved.
Now there have been disagreements regarding which groups of editors have "created" the most significant part of Wikipedia (ie does the core community matter). Aaron Swartz has argued that often single editors add large junks of content over a few edits and that this is than massaged into place by the core community. While this is occationally true my experience is that it is not the norm. It takes time and edits to become a good editor. And one of the greatest predictors of future prolific content creation is past prolific content creation.
Myself and User:West.andrew.g recently look at this for medical content in this paper. We list the number of editors who made more than X number of medical edits in 2013 by language here. A total of 406,003 edits were made in En by 93,191 editor. The 129 who made more than 250 edits (0.14% of editors) make 132,109 edits (32.5% of all edits). Now some argue that changes in bytes to articles is more important than number of edits so we looked to see if those who made the most edits are the same editors as those who made the most changes by bytes. Basically how many of those in the top medical editors by edit count are in the top 250 editors by bytes changed. The answer is about 75%.
To make a long story short I see this as supporting increased efforts to retain and improve the output of existing editors. Common sense of course dictates that we work to recruit new editors; however change for change's sack is not going to fix our problems. We need evidence based change. I am not supportive of Jan-Barts statement "you have to let the Foundation do its work". One of my favorite quotes from Churchill is "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried". This movement is in a way one of the most radical forms of democracy that has ever been attempted. I think this has contributed a great deal to our past successes and can contribute to our future successes. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:15, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Jan-Bart's declaration strikes me as a manifestation of the old regime and I respectfully suggest that is perhaps time for him to "take a wiki-break." Let's take a look at his orientation:
- "We want to attract new editors. They don’t have to become heavy editors, they could even contribute once in a while, as long as we get lots of them. We have to make it easy enough for anyone to contribute so that people once again feel that 'anyone can edit.'" — This is absolutely preposterous with regards to English-Wikipedia. As the encyclopedia continues to develop, they crying need is not for 100,000 IPs "crowd sourcing" their personal opinions like it's 2003, the crying need is for a new cadre of academic experts and specialists, as well as additional quality control people to man the gates to keep out vandalism and crap. WMF has lost its way if they are obsessed with rolling back WP to the bad old unsourced days in pursuit of gross editor numbers.
- "We want to have our information everywhere. Not just on your browser, or integrated in your operating system and phone (as they are now), but everywhere. While 500 million readers a month may sound like a lot, it’s a fraction of whom we need to reach." — This is an obsession with number-counting. We need to renew our commitment to creation of the best possible multi-lingual encyclopedia possible, not chase google placement or raw reader counts.
- "We need to move faster than ever before. This means we need to be tolerant of things we may not like and let experimentation happen. We also need to remove things we are attached to that don’t have wide adoption." — After the abject debacle of VisualEditor, the lesser fiasco of MediaViewer, and the coming catastrophe of Flow, it is clear that WMF needs to move "smarter and slower" with its software rollouts, not "faster."
- "We need to act as one community, not 1,000. This means we cannot enact the wishes of a few hundred, but have to build processes that support the successes of millions." — This is meaningless blather to justify an orientation towards action by centralized fiat. Fact is, there are about 20 viable language Wikipedias, and each of them have a community voice which must be recognized and considered. This "one community" line is anti-democratic to its very marrow and is to be opposed vehemently. Carrite (talk) 00:11, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
When it comes to changing the projects and improving them, we should start with one another: the current community of contributors, who have committed knowledge and passion and creativity, and are already inspired by what we are accomplishing together. All of us are also active in other communities, each more rewarding in some ways. Let's learn from those experiences. Getting that right will also attract more new participants.
Once that is done, we can find new audiences, each with their own needs and desires. As we reach out to those groups, they may need room to experiment, to find their own voice, without disrupting existing community norms and processes. This doesn't mean alienating current communities: virtual space is not a scarce resource. We should create new spaces, and try different techniques in each.
Dear Rogol Domedonfors,
thank you for your question. This is not a simple yes or no issue. After all these years we still do not have "the" answer on the question how to increase the total amount of editors. There are many approaches to help us increase our number of volunteers and as such there are many answers to your question. Firstly we need to keep improving the working atmosphere on our projects. This can be done in many ways. For example we can create a more friendly athmosphere to work in, create systematic ways to improve cooperation, or create new ways to thank one another for really awsome work. Secondly we can improve our software. We can introduce more workable and inviting software for new editors, add minor fixes that long term editors ask for, etc. Thirdly, we can look outside. Start local projects, cooperate in news ways, cooperate with musea, universities etc. All methods that try to help us gain more volunteers will not be liked by all. It is up to us all to find the best ways in which to improve ourselves. Find the best way to help the community grow and keep the community a great place to work in. We should always keep the best interest of all our volunteers at heart. I hope this answers your question.
Question regarding working environment Edit
As a prospective trustee of a US-based non-profit, are you generally supportive of maintaining the standards for non-hostile working environment as defined in US civil rights/employment/education laws for our online volunteers as well as our employees ?
I think that the active people within the WMF Departments and wikis should have some passion for what they are doing. A person who is under pression could not give creative ideas and solutions that are mostly wanted by WMF. I think that people working in WMF should be free to have religious and cultural convinctions and not be adequate to a common profile. In fact, diversity within WMF departments could help creating some innovative ideas that are adequate for many ethnicities and social communities and that are very exceptional in attracting new users from areas that are not involved in WMF wikis. --Csisc (talk) 10:00, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Wikimedia Foundation is already registered in accordance to US law , So, we can not do anything. If i will be a part of this Board, I will try to cope up with all friendly behavior or difficulties within it. I hope i will be able to work in the environment of US civil rights/employment/education laws for online volunteers as well as for employees -- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 18:42, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I have to admit that I am not intimately aware of the differences between American law, the European regulations, and other legal nuances in this area. I generally fully support non-hostile working environment standards and I do believe that they require procedures, and when left to innuendo and just common courtesy, may result in actually perpetuating a hostile environment (as common courtesy is also a part of power system, that is abused in hostile work environments). It is my understanding that US laws are reasonably ok in this area and thus I would not mind their application to our online volunteers. Still, I do think that any universal procedures have to be applied very carefully, also to avoid legal colonialism: Some American regulations and practices for employees are way below typical standards I'm used to, for instance, an unpaid and short maternity leave, or the way pension funds work. But I do think that a safe working environment is important and poorly addressed currently for online volunteers. So, in practice, I would for instance support creating a procedure for online volunteers to allow for safe harassment reporting. I also would support starting a discussion on how we can address the issue (seeking clever solutions from our community, across projects and legal cultures), as well as try to better understand the problems online volunteers face in this area.
I most certainly am. In fact, this shouldn't be governed as much by U.S. anti-discrimination laws as much as it should be governed by good sense and common courtesy. To be clear though, WMF employees are already covered under these provisions to begin with, so I support extending this to our editors in general.
Remember that we, first and foremost, are Wikimedians. Your loyalty lies not in your race, your religion, your creed, your sexual orientation, your gender, your politics or whatever else that may set us apart as human beings, but to the projects and the welfare of readers, editors and our community at large. That means that you have the responsibility to assume good faith, be the best person you can be, and work with whoever in furtherance of our goals.
I've always believed that the power of Wikimedia allowed us to leave "worldly" problems at the door so we can work together without any sort of hitch, but it turns out that this may be a bit misguided. It is exceedingly difficult to ensure that people remain civil if you know that you can't agree with them. This happened with the Acehnese Wikipedia Muhammad images controversy, the Croatian Wikipedia controversy, the general hostility of people on our projects, and so on, and so forth. If it means having to bring in the force of the law to make sure that our communities stay harmonious, then it's a solution that should be implemented, but only as a last resort. After all, we should uphold our tradition of working out our problems first before bringing in the big guns.
That being said, we need to reaffirm our culture of good faith, civility and doing the right thing. Hostility in any form of our projects is not doing the right thing, and we need to seriously examine our social contract to make sure that this culture prevails. I've advocated in other questions here for a reformulation of our social contract to make it more inclusive and more representative of our shared values as a community and as a movement, and whether it leads to an inner reflection of where we are, a tangible document that guides our movement forward (as I've advocated for a "Wikimedia charter"), or something else completely is, well, entirely up to us. The Board, however, should lead the charge. --Sky Harbor (talk) 16:01, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
I am not a lawyer, so these are a layman's comments. I of course expect the organization to meet its legal responsibilities as regards its employed staff and would expect (and require) the Board to receive reports on this to confirm compliance. I am not sure whether it is feasible (or even meaningful) to seek to extend such care of standards to online volunteers. Whatever (if anything) we can do to assist on-line volunteers, in this field or in any other, we should of course seek to do. But we shouldn't make gestures, we should base our actions firmly in reality.--Smerus (talk) 18:47, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
I think is OK with the policy as regarded with Procedure and guidelines which is standard to any foreigner intending to work in US normally are offered supportive employees document with TN or H1B Visas. This is according with pluralism, Internationalism and diversity policy. Francis Kaswahili Talk 14:08, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
For WMF employees: yes, for volunteers: no. As much as I would like to have a friendly environment on all wikis I doubt the U.S. labour law can achieve this.
Yes. I understand this question has a very specific legal sense which applies to the U.S. While technically (I am not a lawyer) I am not sure how feasible this is beyond the workers of the org, I definitely would like to see our volunteers be able to contribute without fear of harassment.
Volunteers in our community should be able to do their work free from harassment, and yes, specifically free from harassment based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc. which is what U.S.-based laws focus on. Specific laws designed for in-person environments may not be entirely applicable, but the sentiment behind them certainly is.
One unusual and difficult part of our environment -- and one where we can and should be leaders in the world of online community building -- is that everyone involved, paid staff and unpaid volunteers, should be free from harassment from other members of our community, even (particularly) in antagonistic situations.
Yes, entirely for the US-based employees of the Wikimedia Foundation. My understanding of the role of the Board is actually to also make sure that this is the case.
With regards to the community, I am not sure what this would entail. I obviously support a non-hostile environment for contributors to the Wikimedia projects, and there is a lot that we can improve - two other questions on the first page dealt with this issue as well.
Yes I am. Additionally, there may be some best practices that are not yet in place in the US laws, which I would like to see implemented eventually for our volunteers and our employees. Since Wikimedia movement is a global one, it also in the spirit of the movement that we south to implement the best practices in every aspect of our works and activities.
I am supportive of existing American law helping to guarantee a non-hostile work environment and believe that it is part of the WMF Board's mandate to ensure that such rules are being adhered to by all of its employees in the San Francisco office. The questioner, of course, is not asking that at all, but rather is seeking some sort of affirmation of belief in an agenda to make American workplace law a supreme governing factor over volunteer contributions to the Wikipedia website. The law does not apply in this way, so far as I understand. Site civility policy remains a matter for democratic decision and control at each of the various language encyclopedias. Speaking for English-WP, I do not see a serious problem in this respect, actual sexist harassment is dealt with quite vigorously, I believe. Carrite (talk) 17:14, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Question regarding non-hostile online environment for women volunteers Edit
Do you feel our efforts to maintain a non-hostile online environment for women volunteers have been adequate over the past two years ? Why or why not?
I think that such efforts had been fructuous as there are now more women contributing to WMF wikis although they represent 20 pc. of the WMF global community. This year, the InspireLab in which I participated had helped proposing many ideas for the promotion of the role of women in main WMF wikis and adopting more efficiently some of them. Furthermore, more works about women has been done in Wikipedia... However, this is not sufficient. Many procedures should be taken in the future. If elected, I will propose doing some detailed booklets and works that are sufficiently structured and designed to let women decide to contribute to all WMF wikis. I will work in the Education Programme to create some procedures to attract women to contribute in WMF wikis. --Csisc (talk) 10:00, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
From my personal experience, One continues with Wikimedia projects by his/her own wish. Creating hostile or non-hostile environment can't bind anyone for long-term. Everyone here is equal so, gender gap is not a major issue within Wikimedia movement. Here, we are considering on the participation of more female on Wikimedia projects, So i feel we have have improved a lot, (There wasn't any problem of WMF, but of a certain groups). This year, the InspireLab had invited volunteers to take part in discussion for minimizing the gender gap , I think these innovatives could work a lot. Working together will benefit both genders.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 21:49, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
As I have already indicated in the previous question, I don't think they are adequate, and this may be a core reason for the gender gap we suffer from (which I also wrote about). Harassment logging and reporting, related to gender, but also to orientation and race, is really not functioning on our projects. It is difficult to report harassment in a safe, standard way. We need to think of creating the ways for action, procedures, and just relying on elementary culture of users will not get us anywhere (or rather, will not get us closer to finding a solution). It is important to offer a possibility to use a set of solutions and tools to the communities, after getting ideas and feedback from them (so as not to create an English-only bubble in these procedures). As mentioned before, there already are seed ideas to work on.
While we've made a lot of progress in the last two years or so with our efforts to onboard more women, we can certainly do more to make sure that female editors on the Wikimedia projects will feel comfortable editing. A lot of the activities that we've done in the last two years to ensure greater female participation have not directly translated to significantly increasing the number of female editors in proportion to their male counterparts (still at around 17% versus 83% for males), nor has it translated to women from non-Western countries (with the notable exceptions of India and parts of Central and South America) actually being onboarded and joining us in editing the projects. Though we've succeeded in making the female editor and her plight more visible, we have yet to translate this visibility into something truly sustainable and impactful in terms of changing the overall makeup of our editing community.
That being said, we must consider that women still face greater hostility on our projects than men do. Women are still more likely to be harassed than men are. We've done a lot of work into understanding the plight of our female editors, but the time has come to step up our efforts and translate that into meaningful action that would be beneficial for women and their participation in the projects. The Inspire campaign is a step in the right direction, as are events and programs oriented towards women (edit-a-thons about prominent women, the WikiWomen Conference, etc.), but we must also find a way to change the underlying culture of the Wikimedia movement and the attitudes of editors so that it is more accepting of women and we are better able to retain our female editors. To make that happen, we must call into question the fundamental values we hold dear as Wikimedians—something which we have yet to really do with regards to increasing female participation—and make the necessary changes to ensure that the future of women on Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects is secure, as well as reaffirm positive attitudes that are beneficial for retaining our female editors. --Sky Harbor (talk) 11:40, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
I should like to see a report on the problems faced by women volunteers and how the situation has changed over the past two years before venturing an opinion on this. Is fear of harassment in fact inhibiting potential female contributors? Evidence-base will enable us to take appropriate decisons and actions.--Smerus (talk) 18:47, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
All the questions looks to be the same, the point is how to increase women users it's the basic question but even this the issue is over there. That's why am saying to be a matter of accountability. if you go through on my project https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/National_wiki_projects/TZI will inviting more than 700 women and among them Ten of them they will attend to the Wikimania conference in Mexico City, it's an efforts. Francis Kaswahili Talk 15:19, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
No response yet.
I don't know where the idea comes from that only women seek for a friendly on-line environment. I am also unsure whether there is sufficient proof for the hypothesis that hostility is the reason for the underrepresentation of female editors. But as male dominance here is a fact, the obvious answer is: No, we haven't done enough. Hostility also is a fact, as I and probably every other long-term editor have experienced, again: No, we haven't done enough. The hundred-dollar-question is, of course, что делать? I think our interventions are not sufficiently backed by research. We still don't know what it exactly is that characterises a person that positively contributes to the movement. We don't know if it is possible to 'convert' a non-Wikimedian into a contributor, by means of education, outreach, or policing. That's why our editor retention is going nowhere. We have no idea exactly what to do and move around like headless chicken, trying this and that. This judgment of course reflects my real-life occupation, but I do believe we need to attract more researchers answering our specific questions.
No. Probably because the culture hasn't changed that much. There have been efforts to increase content about women across projects, and my own experience is that a lot of women participate in workshops and edithatons to learn how to contribute to the projects, but then get templated or reverted really fast. This probably is generic to all new users, but the hostility and the mindset of the lack of women contributors not being a problem remains. For this reason I hope the Inspire campaign can achieve results and insights in order to revert the situation.
No. Why? We still have a gender gap in participation, and women still are prone to find themselves in situations of harassment and, sometimes, general bullying over adding content and editing. I like DocJames’ succinct answer, though: harassment, trolling and incivility isn’t strictly a gendered problem, and dealing with it benefits us all.
The answer to this question is, considering events surrounding the Chelsea Manning and Gamergate controversies, obvious (and those are just the most visible examples in the last few years): No. we, as the communities, we have not done enough. We, a members of the Wikimedia communities, can choose to strengthen our policies, to be less accepting of hostile behavior, and to have policies and procedures in place that allow the local administrators to effectively act in those situations.
But again, due to the broad autonomy of the individual projects, this is something that should be handled on the level of the projects as long as it does not seem to be more appropriate to use legal intervention (in which case, Question 10 might be a better answer).
There are a number of questions regarding friendliness and hostility on our projects. Let us consider them in a wider context: there are two values that we, as a movement, value very highly: the autonomy of the projects and the right to anonymity of our contributors. Both of these values likely have a negative impact on how welcome our projects are. If we would ever want to reconsider the balance between these values, then this must not be something mandated by the Board or - even worse - the Foundation, but has to come through a broad discussion within the hearts of our communities. I think that only a broad consensus could achieve a sustainable and effective shift. And the outcome of such a discussion would be, at least to me, entirely unpredictable.
I don't think that our efforts have been adequate over the past few years to maintain a non-hostile online environment for women volunteers. The reason is simple, we haven't seen WMF doing anything significant in this regard and the response on this issue from the movement is mostly scattered. Talking about gender gap in Wikimeida projects has become cliche yet we couldn't come up with anything constructive on this matter. As in many other online platforms, women in Wikimedia projects still feel vulnerable as they are often targeted and harassed. This is a serious issue, needs much more attention and should be tackled with adequate study, movement wide awareness along with organizational and legal actions.
As I have experience with Indic language communities, there is a healthy atmosphere with non-hostility environment for female volunteers. It has created an increase in the number of female volunteers, which is a token of good gesture. Further it is totally depends on the behavioral approach of both the genders. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 19:43, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Decreasing personal attacks and hostility will benefit both genders. And should definitely be a movement priority. Some incivility might just be due to a lack of awareness. Calling editors on it when you see it is somewhat effective but needs to be done more consistently. Those who are willing to take on such a roll needs support from both the community and WMF. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:36, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
For all the sensationalistic furor and misinformation which was fed to the mainstream press during the Gender Gap Task Force Case before English-Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee, I do not believe that a hostile environment towards female editors exists on English-Wikipedia. Of course, one's mileage may vary, as the saying goes, we all see things differently. It seems to me, however, there is no systemic singling out of female contributors for abuse, there is no systemic attack of the editing contributions of female editors, there is no systemic "voting down" of female candidates for Administrative status. The gender war rhetoric that a few on both sides of the aisle spew has no place at Wikipedia. So, in answer to the question in the context of En-WP: yes, I believe the environment for female editors has been acceptable over the last two years and that sufficient institutional mechanisms exist to keep that way. Carrite (talk) 15:34, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
The current environment is fairly hostile, period. It amplifies drama rather than letting it fade away. This amplifies the harassment faced by women, as Sky Harbor points out. We haven't done enough to address the general hostility. Two basic social tools that most online communities offer, which we simply don't have yet:
- Readers of a discussion should be able to fade out or collapse comments that most people don't want to see. (Hiding is possible but not known to most people)
- Editors should be able to tune out others who are bothering them, and stop seeing their pings. They should be able to flag harassment privately, without adding fuel to the fire.
And this spring's campaign to solicit proposals to bridge the gender gap was a small step: but the WMF simply hasn't gathered much relevant data. This makes it hard to separate good courses of action from unhelpful ones. In particular, some of our individual communities (Armenian WP, WikiEd) and similar communities (WikiHow, Quora) have different dynamics and more gender-balanced contributors. It's time to analyze more thoroughly what is working for them, and learn from it.
thank you for your question. I recognise that we currently have a low female participation in many areas. More female participation is certainly welcome. That being said, I feel that anyone who wants to help our project should feel welcome. I believe that we should always keep improving our working environment. We should work towards friendly discussions on content, be open to suggestions for self improvement when others give us advice and make sure we can all work in a place we want to work in. I do not believe in positive discrimination. Because in the end, you will discriminate others. Yet I do believe in opening new methods to approach groups of editors. We should reach out to editors that currently do not yet participate. Wonder why they do not participate. And work towards getting new editors to join our project. More female input in Wikimedia will improve our content. I hope this answers your question.
Community participation Edit
Do you agree that the WMF board, and especially the community-elected board members, have a mandate to constantly expand the participation of the community at large in Wikimedia Foundation governance? (I personally include all users, registered or unregistered.) What are the main issues? (I'd say the ever-decreasing number of voters in WMF board elections.) What is being done or should be done by the board about them? What are you personally doing to involve more people in the current elections and what will you do to increase participation during your mandate (or what have you done during your past mandate(s) if any)?
I think that community should have a better situation if we like to better the performances of WMF wikis. As you already know, some decisions taken by the WMF Board those years were faced by communities and it was needed to use the SuperProtect to apply these procedures... I personally think that if the WMF community should be efficiently consulted when the Board Proposal is about the policy and the structure of wikis as this community will be the most affected from such actions... That is why I will create a council of main admins of the versions of each wiki that will discuss and regulate structural adjustments to each of the wikis. I think that this excellent procedure will help to solve efficiently many currently existing problems. --Csisc (talk) 09:21, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
First of all, Wikimedia is a community driven organisation. I think, it's the right of the the community to participate in Wikimedia Foundation governance. Even, we want the opinion of individuals or the community before any major step. I think the main issues are :
- Lack of awareness : This is a major issue within the community. Many people in a community are aware of Wiki-projects or initiatives but they prefer to keep the information in secret chest ( Even govt. falls when they were unable to spread their schemes or initiatives). Awareness is most important to us.
- Gap between foundation and community : The BOT's/ employees of the foundation should run with community. They should spare some time, from their busy schedule to know about the good and bad going on the community.
With time the Wikimedia community has evolved itself, Individually you can't solve problem and a name tag could help you a lot to get the solution. Personally, I would like to share every information/events of Foundation to the community, on wiki or on their respective social media groups.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 20:51, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the WMF board and the community-elected members have a mandate to expand the participation of the community in WMF governance, and I think it should increase from the current practice. The Board should recognize that we are addressing a very diverse mix of stakeholders: new editors, veteran editors, chapter activists, non-registered occasional editors, etc. All have very different needs that need to be accommodated (but need to be addressed, it is not enough to keep persuading the veterans that only new editors should have priority). I don't think that elections participation is the biggest problem we're facing. Naturally, I would like to see more people take part (and I am personally convincing people to vote, irrespective of whom they choose), but I think that people should have their right not to participate as well. One way to increase interest in the Board is to open it more to the public, in terms of community-driven selection of points to discuss by the Board, more reporting, as well as community liaisons (as I described in one of my previous answers, I would like to discuss with the communities an idea of volunteer community liaisons, to interface with the WMF and the Board more). The area I believe we really are behind in terms of reaching out is Academia, and I have made repeated efforts to address it.
I think that community is the most important for the movement because he who makes the content and should have a better participation in Foundation governance .
I strongly believe that the community at large must have a stake in the future direction of the Wikimedia Foundation's governance, since after all they're the ones most directly affected by any and all changes that could happen at the very top. To that end, I see three main issues (and on that note, a lack of turnout is a symptom of these issues, not an issue in and of itself):
- Lack of awareness. Many, if not most, Wikipedians have little to no idea about how our movement is run, about the politics that our movement is defined by, and the important issues that we face as a community and as a movement. Many are simply there just to edit and they don't care about the Foundation, about the things going on beyond their individual projects, or the issues in the real world that affect the movement at large.
- Apathy and hostility. Communities, in particular those that have an acrimonious relationship with the Foundation, have either disengaged from the movement and are apathetic about what's going on, or have become hostile to the Foundation and its overtures and refuse to cooperate with them at all.
- Incomplete engagement. The Foundation and communities have attempted to engage communities regarding issues of movement-wide importance, but have been unsuccessful in attracting editors to actually participate in those discussions, especially from smaller projects, non-Wikipedia projects and from outside the developed world. (Case and point was the Board's call for more diversity in this election.)
Community members may have to serve the Foundation's interests, but remember that they're there to bring in a community perspective to things, and it is therefore their responsibility to ensure that the communities are reasonably engaged. For my part, in my role as a member of the the Affiliations Committee I liaise with seventeen affiliates, getting them up to speed with what's been happening in the movement at large. In the Philippines, a major part of my role in Wikimedia Philippines and as an editor in general is getting Filipinos to be more aware of movement politics, whether that be through translating pages into Tagalog/Filipino (including the pages related to this election), encouraging people to participate in movement-related discussions, or fostering exchange between Filipino and non-Filipino editors. And, with respect to these elections, I've been encouraging people in Asian countries to take a look at the pages, read them and, when the time comes, vote.
These are the things that I intend to bring on board when I join the Board of Trustees. We need a tradition of hands-on engagement with communities so that they know someone from the Foundation is actively listening to them, and we also need to bring in more perspective on our other communities in order to provide better-targeted messaging and stronger engagement strategies so that they can really feel a sense of ownership in defining the future direction of the movement. I look forward to using my experience with our communities in order to build these—and more!—as a member of the Board.
On my some previous answers I wrote about this but any way, every body whether representing Chapter or community they all have the same equal right for every matter related to decisions on the WMF. I also under stand that the Organisation like WMF it has an International face, I think in next years it should have to change its structure to establish a globally representation at any level, am also insisting that Mr. Jimbo should have not nominated periodically but being automatically order that he's a life board Member as an adviser. on the participation of our Community I have a plan to this like https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/National_wiki_projects/TZ and through this project we're planing to enable 40 new users From Tanzania to attend on the Wikimania 2015 Conference in Mexico City. Francis Kaswahili Talk 12:56, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry for this delayed answer. I believe that board members have a mandate to engage the community in the topics that are under discussion and in the governance of the Wikimedia Foundation. The first thing that I am trying to do is to encourage participation in this election. In every election there are some hundreds of voter (a few thousands in the best cases) and so on one end every single vote counts and on the other it is very important to increase participation also through the means of vote. I have suggested to change the BoT election banner that is now displayed with a counter that maybe can make the problem (of the limited number of votes) clearer to everybody. If you go to schools (which I regularly do with Wikimedia Italia to make presentations about Wikipedia), you can hear all sorts of things. A couple of months ago, I asked to a group of young high school students (14 years old) "Who writes Wikipedia?" and the first answer was "Wikipedia is like Facebook". On another occasion I was told that "Wikipedia is written by Chinese people" which also indicates a complete lack of knowledge of the availability of Wikipedia in China (https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2015/05/chinese-wikipedia-blocked-by-great-firewall/ which is now blocked, again]). So I think that there is still a lot of work to be done to make people aware of how Wikipedia works internally to the general public.
Yes, community involvement and control must be expanded. Frankly, it is a joke that of the ten-member Board only three are elected by the very community the WMF is supposed to support. Should I make it to the Board I would advocate for:
- More community-elected Board members at the expense of voting appointees. At least so many that a unilateral decision by community-elected members cannot be overturned by Board majority.
- Exploration whether an Annual General Meeting of stakeholders (every individual active editor plus everybody who can put forward a reasonable argument to hold a stake) would be legally possible, enabled to overturn each and every decision by the WMF that does not meet the approval of the WMF's subjects. The inaction, even dismissal, following 1000 leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
- Experiment with the election banners: Instead of 'Board of Trustees election now on' have something that explains the impact 'Vote who will decide on Wikipedia's long-term strategy', or the like. WMF has ample experience experimenting with donation banners. These employees are an asset to the movement and could be asked to help out with internal communication as well.
Yes, I do; I think participatory governance is crucial to our movement, and that requires having constructive avenues for participation. The Board is uniquely placed to amplify many diverse voices and to encourage participation in particular issues.
That means many things: voting in elections, standing in elections, and also participating in processes to determine strategy and priorities: tool & feature priorities, etc. As I previously wrote about, I would like to see additional processes for getting community input as well.
My role in promoting this election has been fairly limited (I helped write the call for diverse candidates that we issued), but in past elections I have written Signpost stories about the election, answered many questions about the election, and in general have tried to promote it. I have also advocated for community-elected seats (and issuing more explicit calls for candidates for these seats) in the Board discussions that Sam references. I try to do the same with other big issues and RfCs; one of my roles on the board has been to help write many of our community-facing calls for participation and other communications, and then responding to wiki-page feedback -- as well as bringing that feedback forward to the board to discuss. I have also spent a fair amount of time over my terms trying to make the Board visible: to answer questions as they arise, participate in community events and roundtables, have q&a sessions, write blog posts, etc. to make the workings of WMF and the Board known to the community. It's not surprising that there's low turnout for the elections; why would you spend a lot of time voting for people you don't know for seats on a governance body that you don't understand? So I have tried to keep making the board more understandable as a continual priority.
I agree with the general sentiment of the question - but I disagree with a few of the details. So, first, yes, the Wikimedia movement thrives on active participation by its member. A higher turnout increases the legitimacy of any body, and a high turnout in an election like the Board of Trustees should directly reflect on the confidence of the Board in its ability to act.
Now the details: no, I do not think the community elected Board members especially have a mandate to increase participation. As discussed above in Question 4, I think all Board members are equal in this regard (it sure would be interesting to compare how consistent the answers to these two questions are).
Also, I don't think the claim that we have an 'ever decreasing number of voters in the WMF Board elections' is true. The elections history show a constant up and down. Last time it decreased, the time before that it increased considerably. The last election was quite an outlier - the number of votes was basically on a record low if we disregard the very first election in 2004 - but from the available data it is impossible to tell whether that was a trend or an outlier.
I also am not sure about how important a high turnover in these elections is (and thus contradicting to my opening paragraph on this answer). Sure, I would love to have a high turnover, and I will try to reach potential voters and try to convince them to vote - but in the end, if I had to choose between spending more effort in increasing the number of votes in these elections or spending more effort in increasing contributor activity in our projects, I would usually choose the latter. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between 2000 or 5000 voters, but I can tell the difference between 10 or 20 active editors in a small project. We already have about half a million characters of text for candidate presentations, questions, answers. I would at least allow the question whether the effort spent by voters to make a well-informed decision - effort which possibly might have gone into editing our projects - is really the best way to spend effort towards achieving our mission.
Ensuring participation of the community in the governance of Wikimedia Foundation is one of the biggest challenges of the Board, yet it has to be done to further the mission of our movement. I personally feel that there is serious lack when it comes to the participation of members from different communities in the developing world. We lack diversity in all aspects: be it gender, be it geographical and so on so forth. To achieve the desired level of participation from all communities, diversity should be ensured in the Board at the first place. I believe lack of diversity is the main reason why there is lack of proper perspective regarding the Global South. I am from South Asia and belong to the Global South community. From the beginning, I have been trying to engage people from diverse backgrounds and learned from them. I also focus on having interaction among the communities, especially the smaller communities that often are not aware of such governance issues. I will continue to focus on increasing interaction and cooperation among the communities and it will create the opportunity for knowledge share and to build awareness among those communities regarding the importance of governance issues of the movement, not just the elections.
Community participation in the WMF governance will definitely bring the democratic values, so I endorse it.
As I hail from small Indic communities like Telugu and Urdu, where the voter count is very less, equating to below 2 dozen voters :). If compared to the major communities (in number), I may not invite attention of the voters or can impress them. But still I wish to ask the valued voters to franchise their votes to the best candidates. After all it is the matter of WMF governance.
I will bring this election matter to the notice of Indic communities and ask them to vote for the best candidate.
Finally I suggest the Election board to communicate once again to all communities, forums, wiki news and wiki related pages.
I consider direct participation of the community in WMF decisions to be of greater importance than simply voting for a candidate. Many voters may not know or have interacted with many of the candidates so it is not surprising the low turnout for the election.
Most editors while however understand at least some of the issues facing our movement. And our software gives us the opportunity to involve them and thus leverage their insights and experience to solve these issues.
I want us to be a "participatory democracy" not just a "representative democracy". What we need is guidelines outlining what roles and by what mechanisms the community will become involve in foundation decision making. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:46, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
Meta is in many respects a parallel world to the various language Wikipedias. It is a very "insidery" place by its very nature — "inside baseball" for the people who temperamentally care about such things. Low levels of election participation here are more than anything a function of poor communication between Meta and the language Wikipedias. I'm not certain how the Board can fix such things, but it remains a real problem, to be sure. Increasing community control of the Board by making a greater number of seats controlled through this election process would naturally increase participation; by how much I can't say. I favor an expansion of direct community control along these lines. I do believe the fact there are 21 candidates for 3 seats is indicative that there are a substantial number of people who understand the potential role of the Board in guiding WMF and Wikipedia, so attributing the situation to apathy or ignorance isn't quite correct. There is an information disconnect that needs to be fixed.
For myself, I will pledge this: if elected I will make quarterly reports on the activities of the WMF Board to En-WP, and will make every effort to have these reports translated and reposted to De-WP and Fr-WP (the next two biggest language Wikipedias), at a minimum. Carrite (talk) 21:00, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, this is essential to maintaining a self-governing movement, and a majority community-selected board.
I was on the 'Future of the Board' working group this spring that tackled (among other things) improving visibility and accessibility of the elections. We increased the energy put into the banner campaigns, focused more strongly on recruiting nominations for candidates who might not stand themselves, and particularly encouraged discussion of the election and nominations from communities that have not traditionally been very involved. The call for voters will be similarly more focused than it was two years ago.
The election committee should be a standing committee, with a few members who continue to work on these issues throughout the year between elections. It should maintain participation in WMF governance by encouraging more community participation in Appointee selections as well (nomination and discussion).
And finally, the most interesting topics that affect the future of the projects, or come before the Board, are not private and are not decided by Board resolutions: the Board at best advises (the WMF or the projects). These issues don't need to be handled by 10 people in a closed room. We need a larger community body that can grapple publicly with these issues, and build movement strategies together. Participation in that work is an ongoing invitation, not limited to a few weeks every other year, and more directly relevant to being a contributor.
I do not think the community elected Board members especially have a mandate to increase participation. But, yes, they have a major role towards this direction. The board itself to be more dynamic, proactive and each member needs to discharge not just a preordained role as a member but also one by choice. And going my efforts to study different Wikipedia communities, I see myself as more as a communities' man who always approachable than as a board member just seen during meetings.--Muzammil (talk) 14:04, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Dear Nemo bis,
thank you for your question. Most editors will know some of the issues we currently discuss. Things like software, a friendly working environment, and a decrease in the number of volunteers are important issues. If more people work towards solutions, we can better reach our goals. Both in new ideas, in participating in votes such as these, and in actually putting our ideas into practice. More participation means better results, that better reflect what we want, and better help improve our projects. Direct participation of the community should go beyond only voting. Give constructive feedback to our board at all times. Present issues as they arise. Help find answers, and help the project at large. I welcome all participation by our community. I was the first to reply to the Sign Post when they asked for comments about this election. I have often informed projects of developments within the larger community, by posting messages on general talk pages. I have started wikimeets. Have nominated or encouraged dozens of admins. I have started projects to help editors write articles more easily. For example the NGC project created over 7800 articles. I have started help pages to make sure people do not lack information. For example, I wrote the Dutch Wikipedia general help page that people go to when their article has been nominated for deletion. I have started general discussion pages, like the Medical discussion page. And I help people find translators when they need them. All these things help volunteers to better participate in our projects. Participate in new ways. I fully encourage people to follow your example Nemo bis, and join the conversation. Ask questions, make suggestions, and help us improve our project. I hope this answers your question.