Legal and Community Advocacy/Community Advocacy

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Legal and community advocacy[edit]

What does it mean?
How can you help?
What do we do?

As the legal and community advocacy team builds out their plan for staffing, we're curious what ideas you have. How can the Foundation, and the LCA team, advocate and support the work of the community? Discussions will take place here, but for now, let's brainstorm!

Supporting the Wikimedia community[edit]

How can the Legal and Community Advocacy Team best support your work?

  1. [Discussion moved to Talk:Inactive administrators survey#Discussion and the very preliminary results to Inactive administrators survey#Results teaser. One more quick update here: At least four formerly inactive admins have already resumed editing after receiving the survey (Cholmes75, EWS23, James086, and ReyBrujo.) James Salsman 05:13, 13 February 2012 (UTC)]
  2. Project-wide protests have been a great success, but defeating the troubling Italian legislation and SOPA/PIPA in the US has not diminished the threat of the ACTA treaty, the Research Works Act, the new ex parte remedies of the OPEN Act (which would certainly put Wikileaks out of business), or the perennial extensions of copyright terms. And there is no doubt that publishers' lobbyists will soon be back with revisions of SOPA and PIPA as soon as they can call in their donation, bundling, and fundraising favors. The Foundation's Executive Director has noted articles by Larry Lessig and Alex Cummings which point in the same direction that the community thinks would solve corruption problems in the US Congress: We could address the root cause of lobbyist influence post-Citizens United v. FEC instead of just sweeping threats under the rug bill by bill, at the risk of losing our political strength and the goodwill of our readers. Similar conclusions have been reached by journalists outside the community. But the community needs guidance and leadership for these solutions to be implemented: What can we do in this regard? How can we best make use of Foundation resources to accomplish these goals? And what leadership support can we expect from the Legal and Community Advocacy Team? James Salsman 11:52, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    • My understanding and personal view: the Foundation has no political stance on any issues that do not directly put its mission at risk, and would not devote its own resources towards 'political strength' or related work. However if there are community groups working on wikiprojects with legal implications or ramifications, this group could provide relevant analysis and advice. And when the Foundation is involved with a legal debate, as when it collaborates on an amicus brief for an ongoing court case, it would engage the community in the discussion and why it matters to our work. 04:10, 20 February 2012 (UTC)
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Think Globally[edit]

What mechanisms can we put in place to ensure that we're not just talking to English speakers? How do we support the global community?

  1. There has been a proposal since at least 2010 to create simple language wikipedias in non-English languages. The Simple English Wikipedia continues to improve and is generally considered a success. There are easy ways that the other languages can obtain simple wikipedias without having to provision a large number of new wikis, using namespaces. Simple language encyclopedias are crucial to early childhood and beginning reader education. Why should English have the only simple language encyclopedia that anyone can edit? It would be a great service to the community to enable these new, namespace-based Wikipedia enhancements. What do we need to make it happen? James Salsman 12:00, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    Now this is an interesting thought exercise. Since the "scope" of this group isn't defined, here's an interesting place to begin. My immediate instinct was to say "out of scope", because it has belonged to LangCom. But maybe you were envisioning a role for the group that isn't one that usurps (but rather supports or advocates for) the community. How would you see us playing a role in this, bearing in mind that the decision making authority is delegated by the Board to LangCom? Is there a need for another body to fill a hole in the organization? Help me to understand what it is you'd be suggesting that we do. Philippe (WMF) 11:46, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    My understanding is that LangCom has already approved this; if I'm wrong about that let me know because I was asked to keep trying until they have. I am worried that the fact it is possible, but nobody has done the work necessary to accomplish it, is why entire new wikis aren't being allocated for non-English simple wikipedias. Every time this suggestion has come up, it's been generally well received, as far as I know, but it just doesn't seem to happen. It does require some programming, but I doubt it's anything even approaching a major project. It's more like "adding a pair of namespaces," with a few changes like search defaults from different search pages. I would go so far as to suggest that it could be a 100% sysadmin, non-developer project, although I'm sure the developers would want to review and check in the resulting changes. It needs a champion on the inside who can get managers to approve and assign. That's not something that LangCom or an ordinary community member can do. Can the LCA Department? James Salsman 11:59, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    Update: They have not been approved. The chicken-and-egg problem I was remembering is that, per a LangCom member I just discussed this with, requests for non-English simple wikipedias (which are made at Requests for new languages) would have been more likely with the enhancements which never got done. However this has all been superseded by the Incubator on which anyone can start a new simple language Wikipedia at any time. The Incubator itself uses very similar namespace techniques to those which were proposed to support simple language Wikipedias. The Simple English Wikipedia gets about 1.5% as much traffic on serious, beginner-level topics as the English Wikipedia, so the case for simple wikipedias in other languages is made by example if someone gets an incubator project going. It seems that all that remains to be done is outreach to German, French, Japanese, etc. Wikipedia communities is necessary to let them know how to start a simple language version on the Incubator. James Salsman 18:38, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    Given that, I'm not sure there's anything here for our team to do. That sounds like a community function to me, correct? Philippe (WMF) 19:28, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
    Someone needs to tell the major non-English wikipedias' communities that all they have to do to get a simple language version is start a few dozen articles on the Incubator and then ask on Requests for new languages. I could try with Google Translate making me sound like I learned how to write from import/export instruction manuals, or you could get some of the fantastically fluent polyglots you work with to do it. Let me know what you think would be best. James Salsman 17:02, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
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Strategic approach for tools[edit]


At a of good tools user page at meta a conversation took place about Toolserver tools that get picked up by the global community as being very useful, and then literally become endemic use tools. My concern was that when hacker leaves (disappears), the toolserver account expires and the tool(s) becomes unavailable, which is not just a nuisance and, in some cases, a problem. This indicated to me that what role did/could/should the WMF community undertake, and have supported by the foundation, to look at a broader model for tool support. The person with whom I raised the issue fairly reminded me that WMF's primary role is not to support tools as a priority function, though there was scope to participate in the solution, or at least in the discussion.

To me it also highlighted that some of our hackers like to develop tools and toys for us, however, being the creative people that they are, they may not wish to be identified as those who maintain the functionality of a tool ongoing on a day to day basis (especially as the best get stolen to work on Mediawiki from the inside), so my next question was what scope is there to have tool administrators, and hackers as exists in the general MW model. A regular toolserver netizen pointed out that that community was already having a broader scope with relation to approach to tools. Also as a note, when some of these tools fail, we then become reliant on getting the tool owner to be available to receive requests and to be able to action them. This reliance on an individual is a critical control point both for the activity of a service, and for adaptations to is functionality.

Examples of tools

This short list of tools are examples of the functionality undertaken either at Toolserver, or wider, that would leave holes if they became unavailable. It is not meant to be an exclusive list, and please excuse the administrative nature as that is residential space at WMF.

  • SieBot @ Commons. Moves files/categories between categories ( a rename functionality)
  • CommonsDelinker @ Commons and wikis. It removes file links or updates file links across all servers for images hosted at Commons.
  • sulutil: @ ts. Used to identify the breadth of users' contributions across WMF property, had had one change of owner
  • luxo: @ts . Used to identify recent contributions of users across WMF, and has the functionality to assist edit rollback
  • COIBot and XLinkBot (recently moved to Labs): used to monitor links added across the wikis primarily for tracking xwiki or local spam, and the like
  • Soxred's pcount @ts (now transferred to Tparis) that enables a per wiki review of contributors
  • OCR for WS @ ts : the ability for the Wikisource sites to (re)OCR a page for their transcription efforts.
Strategic approach required

The community should have a strategic approach to tool management/support, not an ad hoc approach, whether it be via WMDE et al as the host of toolserver, or by other means. Losing a tool is not going to be a catastrophe, but for many who do the work, it would be quite problematic. I do not see things are broken and this isn't a criticism, I just sense a weakness and no systematic approach to resolution. I would appreciate comments from those who can assist, and I hope that the discussion down belong here for brainstorming. billinghurst sDrewth 04:19, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

«The community should have a strategic approach to tool management/support, not an ad hoc approach, whether it be via WMDE et al as the host of toolserver, or by other means.» I don't understand this dichotomy. tswiki:Multi-maintainer projects seems to me a good community solution (and interwiki map allows us to update links). Anyway, this discussion would probably be best held at mw:Talk:Wikimedia Labs, as they're looking for ideas about the Tools section. Nemo 12:51, 14 February 2012 (UTC)