User talk:LilaTretikov (WMF)

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WMF superblocks its community


since Erik doesn't answer, I'm now sending this remark to some other WMF officers and board members. I apologize for using your time.

I'm a crat in german wp. The so-called super-protections that Erik Möller/User:Eloquence and User:JEissfeldt (WMF) have put on our common.js on sunday, acting officially on behalf of WMF, have left some blood on the carpet. Many fellow wikipedians are upset, even those who accept the media viewer (which had been the conflict's origin). Several long-time contributors have left or stopped editing due to this. Journalists picked up the case.

Personally, I strongly protest against the WMF's action, and it's failure to communicate afterwards. Our communities are capable, and willing, to handle problems like this without office-actions.

There have been no official or private comments from WMF in the last days, so I'd like to suggest you have a look and give some response to the criticism.

(apologize again, for my translation errors)


Links to ongoing discussions in german language: [1], [2], [3]

Greetings, -MBq (talk) 20:11, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi, i second MBq request and especially this post by Rich. This issue is not taken lightly especially among german wikipedians. Regards, Ca$e (talk) 20:52, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
This is a temporary measure to prevent churn on the file for the lack of a better process currently in place (more on this here). LilaTretikov (talk) 21:19, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Lila, please stay that sober and unintimidated. I wholeheartedly agree with such a minimal invasion. Instead of blocking or deadminining an entire camp of notorious know-betters, just one template was commensurately frozen from those administrators' access for them to cool down and stop them from disrupting the public user experience with their edit wars. Commentor summarized it well on their central protest page:

Funny: Someone at the Foundation is passing the same medicine to the German admins that they have been passing their authors for years. And now the German admins react with insult since they realized how it feels to be given such medicine. The San Franciscan physician has thus contributed much to the climate and future quality of the German Wikipedia, either by self-aware admins diminishing their kindergarden behaviour in the future or by at least giving their mere mortal victims another parody on the wikihierarchy to laugh about. Also very amusing how the German admins voluntarily put up squeakingly green bars on every page linking to their own idiocy.

Wishing you good luck and the proper amount of patience: IM Serious (talk) 09:27, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Somehow liberally translated. I wrote "humiliation" ("Schmach"), not "idiocy". -- 14:12, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Right! Thank you: IM Serious (talk) 01:03, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Hello, for two years I was member of german arb-com (only just for your information).
Your post above is no answer. It maybe denote as a declaration of war. Is it that what you want? I hope not.
Please remember, that your money is earned by voluntary!
If we go away, you will earn no money! Okey, no problem for you, because you will get a new job after this...
Nearly 3 hours ago I postet that at de:wp: perhaps this would be a possibility to... I don`t know the right word for: "Das Gesicht wahren" --Hosse (talk) 22:28, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Hosse, in response to your suggestion, while we will not remove the software feature, we would be happy to immediately remove the protection of common.js on de.wp if there's agreement by admins that we will continue the conversation on the basis of the current state and improve it together, rather than disabling the feature. What do you think would be a reasonable way to establish that agreement? And yes, we're absolutely happy to continue the conversation on a page dedicated to this purpose. Thanks for the constructive suggestions! --LilaTretikov (talk) 23:01, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The reasonable way is to comply to the bugreport regarding the community consensus of German Wikipedia (then also no hack is needed). You work now with and for volunteers. Noone of them has bad intentions, but the WMF lost much trust in the last two, three years for its actions. Why don't you work to convince us instead of forcing? With force you don't get anywhere in the end, you just show how weak your positions and the results of the work of the Foundation are. --Julius1990 (talk) 23:05, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@LilaTretikov: Thank you, but no, thank you. The volunteer community have never agreed to the superprotection feature in the first place. The only real way forward for you is to unprotect MediaWiki:Common.js, take the superprotect user right from the global staff user group, and then disable this feature altogether. To have this threat of your unilateral and unlimited use of this feature hanging constantly over our heads cannot be accepted at any point in the future. odder (talk) 23:09, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
To prevent "churn on the file", direct WMF staff to quit editing it to overrule consensus, don't "superprotect" it. Seraphimblade (talk) 22:36, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Lila, I created a page at de:wp. Thank you for your nice answer. I hope you (really you) and the staff will take the chance to come into conversation with the German wikipedia. --Hosse (talk) 23:37, 12 August 2014 (UTC) PS: Sorry for my bad English
Hosse -- I will keep an eye on progress there. Looking forward to it! Thank you! LilaTretikov (talk) 00:29, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Lila, "preventing churn" is a task that is dealt with daily on many Wikimedia projects, and I think it's fair to say that Wikimedians have developed sophisticated methods of doing so. Before we talk about super-protection, we should talk about normal protection for a moment, and the practices that have evolved around that. Protecting an article on Wikipedia always involves a judgment about which version is correct, and which is incorrect; therefore, there are some best practices administrators are expected to adhere to when protecting a page. I will speak only in broad strokes here, but I would encourage you to talk to some experienced administrators about this, and explore their wisdom drawn from dealing with this kind of conflict many times, in many kinds of circumstances.

There are some important principles, though, that you will surely hear about if you talk to some administrators:

  1. The person protecting a page should not be involved in the dispute, and ideally should not have a very strong opinion on it at all; if the topic is Israel vs. Palestine, for instance, the ideal admin to protect a page might be a career mathematician from Kansas who has never bothered to think much about religion or the Middle East;
  2. The protection is considered a temporary condition, not a decision; it is intended to encourage discussion, which is where the actual decision gets made;
  3. In discussion, it is generally advised to get more uninvolved editors to give it some thought and weigh in.

These sorts of disputes are brought successfully to resolution on a daily basis throughout our projects. If they weren't, we wouldn't be a successful web site, we would be Encyclopedia Drammatica. The experience and practices that apply to resolving editorial disagreements can certainly be applied here, but they cannot be applied if the organization taking the more radical approach ("We must enable this software because we said we must enable this software") is the one applying the kind of fix that is meant to be temporary ((super)protection), and pointing to no realistic longer-term dispute resolution process on an even playing field.

If you must stick to your staff's decision, so be it; but the credibility of your organization, among a stakeholder group whose paticipation is necessary to the site's survival, is at stake. So please choose wisely. -Pete F (talk) 01:48, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Dear Lila, please remove the superprotect feature and refrain from using it. In my humble opinion, it is not acceptable to overrule a RfC in a community-based project, especially for these reasons. Best regards, --Ghilt (talk) 07:46, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the details, Pete F. I am not sure the analogy is exactly applicable for software, but it is helpful nevertheless. I think the conversation we actually want to spur is specifics on what we need to have changed in the feature in question. I am asking the team to engage everyone here on user tests so we can do just that. -Lila Tretikov 13:39, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
I assume this comment above is from Lila -- I have changed the IP address to your name, please revert me if I am incorrect.
My comment was not meant to precisely correlate these admittedly different situations, but to highlight one specific practice that has been found to work very effectively in resolving disputes -- and maybe I did not make this clear enough:
Reverting something to the state it was in prior to the dispute is a tremendously powerful technique for setting the stage for dispute resolution.
With the Visual Editor, the WMF did in fact revert the feature, but as far as I know it did not take steps to continue the discussion in a more generative way. This may have been a missed opportunity. (I am not intimately familiar with how things went with VE, and I know it was before your time.)
With the Media Viewer, however, the WMF is continuing to refuse to take the one step that is guaranteed to interrupt the drama and discord: simply revert the default enabling of the software. The software doesn't have to be removed, none of the 3 projects that have had RfCs have called for its complete removal. But reversing the ill-considered decision to enable it by default on, at least, these 3 sites is a very clear precondition for more sober reflection and deliberation. And let me be clear: I am not stating a personal boundary or condition here, and I am not in a position to negotiate. I am simply stating what the clearly expressed expectation of a very large group of users is. I have no ability to change those expectations, any more than you do.
But as I said initially -- please find some Wikipedia or Commons administrators who have actively worked on dispute resolution, and ask them about these things. You needn't take my word for it -- we have a great many people in our community with deep experience in these matters, much deeper than mine. And a great many of them have not bothered to comment on the Media Viewer situation, and so they might be in a position to give you a more dispassionate and less biased opinion than I am. -Pete F (talk) 19:07, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

You and Erik claim superblocking is a temporary measure but you also name a precondition (if there's agreement by admins…). So if there is no agreement then superblocking won't be temporary, am I right? Somehow this sounds like teaching Wikipedia's community for educating the world. I cannot believe that this is of interest to the Foundation. Please remove the superprotect feature. Maybe this feature is needed but first of all we need a discussion when this feature shall be used and by whom. NNW (talk) 08:18, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

It is temporary for many reasons, including that we are planning to make process changes. But you are right, the timeline is an issue right now. We need to resolve the MV issues so we don't have this corse-grained hammer that only can do on or off switch. We need to collaborate to improve, rather then flipping switches. -- 2601:6:2080:187:A54B:B04B:FB9:1FDE 13:39, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Dear Lila, your accountability as the Executive Director: „Your are the person ultimately responsible for the direction and actions of the WMF.“ Could you please explain what position WMF takes on the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (UNESCO) – refering to WMF superblocks its community. --Edward Steintain (talk) 15:08, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Location of this discussion

Somewhere above Lila said she's not sure where this discussion should happen. The solution is rather simple, she can move the whole content of this page at Requests for comment/On a scale of billions or similar and continue operating in the same way but in a more "official" setting. --Nemo 07:10, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

I think, you don’t mean "move", but copy and paste it there, do you? Because it wouldn’t be good to move (with the function "move") a user talk page to an RfC page, there were also other personal comments on the talk page (also archived ones) before this discussion which shouldn’t end up in a version history of an RfC. But as the comments here all have signatures (or should have), so the authors are clear, there wouldn’t be a problem with copying and pasting the whole discussion to the target RfC page. It would be best, if the RfC page will link to the version history of this user talk page afterwards. The RfC is a very good idea for this discussion, better than here. --Winternacht (talk) 21:23, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Feel free to copy this if you think the new page is a better place. Note the new process page we are pulling together as well. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 21:51, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

Pete F can you please copy not delete. Also could you please not copy the Working Together section as it is septate. Thank you! -- LilaTretikov (talk) 22:26, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

OK -- I think having the discussion happen in two places will be really confusing but...I'm happy to revert everything I just did. -Pete F (talk) 22:28, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
@LilaTretikov: Sorry if my move wasn't the way you wanted it to work -- I've reverted, and will let somebody else handle it -- as far as I know there really isn't any perfect way to do it, and I don't want to mess it up. -Pete F (talk) 22:31, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Sorry Pete, my bad. I am not 100% up to speed on talk page mechanics... -- LilaTretikov (talk) 00:00, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Not to worry! I just realized that there was a potential for it to become a big mess, and wanted to revert what I did before it was too late. It looks like @Winternacht: has done a better job of it now. If I could suggest, finding somebody to mark the RfC for translation ASAP would probably be a really good step. -Pete F (talk) 01:05, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
If there are any sections in the RfC that don’t fit there, they can also be placed here again instead.
Translation would be a good idea, I just don’t know how that could be done with these lots of comments there. Or do you mean, the initial statement On a Scale of Billions and Lila’s questions shall especially be translated? That would be a very good idea, because they are essential to the RfC. --Winternacht (talk) 01:24, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Could you create sections for those here so they are visible in the TOC please? In all honesty thought it is easier for me to watch this -- more pages strain my bandwidth for sure. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 15:19, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

I think it’s better to copy and paste the discussion, meaning that the content (not the page itself) will move to the RfC. If it is only copied (but not deleted here), then the same discussion will be on two different pages which isn’t good. So, now the question seems to be, which parts of this page shall get into the RfC and which ones should stay here. Perhaps, it would be best to leave the first section #WMF superblocks its community here and start the RfC with the second section #On a scale of billions which shall be the title of the RfC. And as Lila said above, the #Working Together shall also stay here. So all other sections can get into the RfC (copy and delete here and paste it there). Is that ok? --Winternacht (talk) 22:46, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

And, not mentioned, this section should surely also stay here. In the beginning of the RfC, there can be placed a permanent link to the top section here, so that the connection to it will be clear and that it was a response to the questions raised and the discussion there. --Winternacht (talk) 22:59, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

So, I’ve tried to do this. Now the content is at Requests for comment/On a scale of billions. I hope, this is ok this way. If any section shall be at another place now, it can also be copied and pasted this way. --Winternacht (talk) 00:23, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps the top of the RfC could clarify a bit more about the RfC, I don’t know. I tried to put some initial information into it. If you or someone else have a better idea for that, please improve it. --Winternacht (talk) 00:55, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

How do you guys do this???

I am just SOOOO amazed you all are able and willing to make your way through these pages. This takes serious dedication! I am even more amazed how new editors survive this antique experience. This IS the stuff we've got to focus on. MV is such peanuts, we should really not be spending our joint mental cycles on. It will take all of us a lot of time to make this basic stuff work: conversations, data normalization, messages, etc. work... -- LilaTretikov (talk) 15:19, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Working Together

Thank you everyone for the insights and arguments you’ve shared with me and each other over the past week -- I am continually using them to inform my thinking. Your passion is undeniable, and I want you to know that my passion for this movement is too. I’ve read what you’ve sent my way these past few days. In return I want to share with you my thoughts on where I think we are, and where we need to be.

The Board brought me into this project in order to lead a transformation at the WMF. I accepted the challenge because I believe you’ve created an incredible project that has changed the way the world experiences knowledge. However, I also believe both your contributions and our movement’s mission are at risk of being lost as a result of changing technologies, much as Encyclopedia Britannica was in the 90s.

This means we must make some changes. And we must make them together. I spoke about this at a high level at Wikimania, but in action this means we must:

  • Improve our process for software design, user and community feedback, and operations;
  • Learn how to work together through disagreements and make decisions that have global impact with objectivity;
  • Improve our product consistency globally and think of ourselves as the world’s source of free knowledge;
  • Increase the responsiveness and speed at which we develop and deliver product; and the rate of innovating; and
  • Do this with mutual understanding and respect.

This weekend I posted a set of questions here, on my talk page. They represent the issues I am grappling with, and the things I wish to understand in order to assess the specifics of changes we need to make. I appreciate the responses you’ve shared so far, and look forward to receiving more. I would like to quote Martijn Hoekstra, who stated on this page that it is “the burden of the person with the initiative to initiate the dialog. In case of WMF software projects, that's the WMF.” We are going to do that.

I want you to know that I hear you, as different as you all are. Everyone has legitimate concerns about the current situation: not just the recent issue involving the WMF and the de.wp community, but the ways in which we work together overall. I actively engaged with you to solve this. We need to transform our conversations into an ongoing and improving process with common goals.

While we are all part of a larger community, we have different tasks. Of our movement entities, the Wikimedia Foundation is in the unique position to lead the continued development of the technology making these projects possible. This means we understand ourselves as a technology organization. This also means we are a global organization responsible for technology powering 800+ projects.

Yet many of you need to be able to influence and affect the direction our projects take -- this means being heard and taken into account even on things you don’t directly work on. We need to find a way for all of the contributors from all of those 800+ projects to participate. You need opportunities to review the development of product earlier and during critical junctures. Our approaches need to evolve and mature. We need to find a better way to collaborate.

The WMF is a part of our community -- the part that is responsible for developing and maintaining software and servers. We all want to want to participate in deciding which features get implemented and how, but the current approach of voting on them post-rollout is disruptive and inefficient. We need to change our processes so that they are iterative, incremental, and inclusive of feedback throughout. We understand that our recent decision to restrict edits to site-wide JavaScript on German Wikipedia was a surprising move that upset a significant number of people - we’re sorry for that. At the same time, it gave visibility to an important issue: we need a better mechanism for managing changes that impact all users -- the way the MediaWiki: namespace works right now is not sustainable. Let's use this opportunity to improve.

At the WMF, we’re preparing to unprotect the disputed page on German Wikipedia, but we need to do so within a framework that allows us to come to reasonable resolutions -- giving everyone a voice and a say in the process, but also understanding WMF’s leadership role in technology. We will post thoughts on how this can be accomplished (and in what timeframe), in partnership, in coming days, starting with a brainstorming process.

As part of this process, we have heard feedback that WMF employees should have distinct accounts for their WMF-related actions as opposed to their personal actions on the projects. We accept that feedback and will put in place such a system within the next month.

In summary:

  • You have my commitment that we will work towards a constructive resolution of this current and any future disputes together and in good faith.
  • We intend to undertake a review of our present processes immediately and propose a new approach that allows for feedback at more critical and relevant junctures in the next 90 days. This will be a transparent process that includes your voices.
  • We will establish improved centralized communications for all wiki software changes.
  • All future updates and current developments will be based on this new process.
  • For the purpose of additional clarity regarding roles and responsibilities, we will put in place a clear distinction between work and personal accounts for all WMF employees by September 15.

I hope we can agree to exercise restraint in this transformative time so we can work together in good faith and in concert. As Magnus Manske said in his recent blog, “the house that is Wikipedia cannot stand without a foundation, and a foundation without a house on top is but a dirty pond.”

Thank you, -- LilaTretikov (talk) 16:22, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

Working Together Comments

Dear Lila, thank you very much, i really appreciate this notice. However, i cannot agree with your proposition "the current approach of voting on them post-rollout is disruptive and inefficient". This should rather read: The current approach of WMF of ignoring important (among them legal) issues, clearly and repeatedly voiced months ahead, and nevertheless rolling out broken und unfixed software, is disruptive and inefficient. Also, i do not agree that establishing "product consistency globally" would be in every case fortunate. Especially, communities should decide on the status of critical new software (beta/opt-out/opt-in) and also, opting-out should always be possible when proposed new software does not include all capabilities of working software (please - as has already been spelled out above - keep this in mind for future software projects). Again, please check out Jimbo's principles: "Any changes to the software must be gradual and reversible. We need to make sure that any changes contribute positively to the community, as ultimately determined by the Wikimedia Foundation, in full consultation with the community consensus." This implies that you should never, ever, find yourself in a position to enforce critical software changes, and especially not broken software like MV, against evident community consensus. Can we agree on this principle? (Else, the conditions for "working together" would have to be rewritten from the start, and it would be very open which part of current communities would accept the outcome. I suspect: not very many!) Ca$e (talk) 17:07, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
We are looking in the particular issue of potential legal implication. If it is a legal issue -- it will be treated as a blocker. If not, we will attempt to fix. From what I understand the issues is affecting about 1% of the images, but I have asked to confirm. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 21:41, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
CC-BY_SA-3.0 requires at a minimum such credit will appear, if a credit for all contributing authors of the Adaptation or Collection appears, then as part of these credits and in a manner at least as prominent as the credits for the other contributing authors. [4.c.iv]
Legal issues are two-fold:
1. By breaking this term we are breaking copyright law on around (by your 1% estimate) 220,000 images. (Of course some are PD.)
2. By selectively breaking copyright the Foundation is not acting neutrally, and hence could loose DMCS safe harbour protections under section 230.
Rich Farmbrough 15:23 20 August 2014 (GMT).
+1. I appreciate the communication by Lila, but the software features like Visual Editor and Media Viewer were far from being ready to be rolled out since essential problems were still existing. And the communities get ignored on that (still they are). Also i agree with Ca$e that this "consistency" is not a valuabel goal for cultural projects like encyclopedias. This might be nice for Facebook et al, but every Wikipedia should be sensiblel to it readership regarding its cultural background (also on questions of design). The way to go is to build a module based technical infrastructure from which the communities can decide how to serve their respective readership best. And that is not a matter of money as often voiced in the discussions. The WMF has likely more money then it should have (much growth which was not thought through properly happend just because money was there), and there will be more coming in if it doesn't keep on discuraging the people who make such great products that sell so well to the donors. --Julius1990 (talk) 17:25, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
In terms of "ready" we need to define an objective definition of readiness. We can do this together. Current RfCs are not objective, but, by the same token neither is the WMF. So let's find a better solution. Consistency is important from both user experience and cost standpoint. We are a global site with local communities. Technology needs to provide a consistent and predictable foundation for all of them. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 21:41, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Lila, this is no science. As long as the Media Viewer is not able to display every media file with the right attribution and liscence there can't be a full roll out. Same on the Visual Editor: As long as it was not able to perform at least the mayority of tasks like editing tables and so on but is just useful for typography edits and with saving even caused many deletions of texts as it was during the roll out last year, it was not ready. And I seriously doubt it is now. And instead of taking those concerns seriously I heard developers complain that our editor is simply too complex. Now, our editor works for all the tasks needed. As long as they can't develop something that does the same, no readyness for roll out is given. Beta means fixing up the details to me, not that software features with problems at the core are put to all users. And with doing this, forcing features with core problems on the editors you (meaning the Foundation) destroyed the good faith of many editors in the last years. And with the good faith it is like with the trust that especially Erik Möller destroyed in the current case. The destroying takes short time, building it up again takes much, much longer. That's why you should take us more seriously than you did before and do right now. Even if, as I said your communication right now is good (I haven't seen Sue ever engaging this deep with community memebers online, no offense to her, but a cudo for you) and you still have more trust than the "Community Advocate" or Erik Möller because you didn't destroy it so far. I just can recommand you to act wisely and not to destroy it. Because what is destroyed takes long to be rebuildt. And that'S also a reason for many offensive speech on that. There is so much bitterness caused by the WMF in the last two, three years ... and by Superprotect you gave the people teh feeling of authoritarism and insults are also a form of resistance when you feel overpowered by a much more mighty institution who doesn't seem to want to act anymore according to its Mission Statement, Values and Jimbos Principles. According to Jimbos Principles you should comply to the bug report that asks for your acceptance of teh German Wikipedia vote. A vote that is not against the MV itself, but against teh full roll out while still core problems around teh attribution and license exist. --Julius1990 (talk) 21:54, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Let's decouple some of the issues: we have painful history, let's look forward and try to improve how different parts of the community complement each other. I believe that is important. And it does take time and effort to understand you guys :) Now, on the software side... Actually saying that every corner case needs to be satisfied is a huge product design fallacy. You might be familiar with the 80/20 rule, where you get 99% of the benefit from satisfying 80% of the requirements. This also means that hitting every corner case is completely inefficient from cost standpoint. This is where the tough decisions need to be made. Between us here, no article and no piece of software is ever perfect, but it has to be good enough and we need to decide what that means. I know this is all product mumbo-jumbo, but this does not come from me. So unless we truly have a legal issue, not every corner case should be solved. On the other hand there are other creative ways to solve these corner issues. Since some of them come from template typing we may do better writing a script to convert that specific template over to something more typical. Especially as we move closed to a normalized way to view data with Wikidata project. I am not going to problem solve here. Just outlining the options. And again -- thank you for the feedback (and, frankly, for encouragement) as this can get really tough to stomach! -- LilaTretikov (talk) 22:04, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
But Lila, that the Media Viewer doesn't violate our licences and attribution is not a corner case. It is the most central point according to our free licenced media files. It is at the very core, not some halflid corner ... And the same goes for the Visual Editor. A VE that isn't able to work on most of teh tasks needed to write our articles, but basically is just good for correcting typography has not some pretty unnecessary corner cases that would be nice to be fixed. It has problems at the very heart. And both were because of this not ready for such a roll out as it took place. And the Wikidata has also a core problem: Many data sets are without valid source, because bots simply putted them there before any clear policy was established. A Wikipedia version like the German with its focus on quality won't be able to accept Wikidata as a working tool until this is solved.
The problem basically is that apparently noone at the WMF seems to have any idea what is core case or corner case when it comes about software for the different projects. Maybe everyone of you should be encouraged to use half a workday per week to work on one of the projects, writing articles, doing clean-up work, whatever ... so you can understand the projects from within. Or you need to listen when one or in this case three mayor projects (Commons, de:wiki, en:wiki) tell you what are the core problems to them and what needs to eb fixed before they can accept on their projects a full roll out. Especially since people told on the mailinglist already in spring that this problems would occur.
The very core are also the actions that happend right now and how you deal with them. You do as if this is a pointless looking in the past. But if you don't resolve it, such things will remain and poison all your efforts. I ask you: Do en:User:Jimbo Wales/Statement of principles still exist? Then why did the WMF especially Erik Möller violate principle 4? Do the Mission Statement and the Values of the Foundation still exist and have meaning? Then why is the Board backing up such actions that clearly violate such three chartas of principles that to em were the fundament of the WMF-communities relation? This needs to be fixed before there can be a moving on from my side. Yes, i could say "let's move on, everything fine", but this would be a lie and this issue would remain in me, decouraging me from further work in the Wikipedia. --Julius1990 (talk) 22:19, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Internet lawyer, is not a good use of any anons time. In the few "corner case" files, attribution is given in the link, that satisfies attribution. This has to be so, because on the face of wiki articles, where we display the image in content, we do not identify the CR owner there, either. At any rate, you're not the WMF's lawyer. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:07, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Do I claim that? No. But that is the critic of many in de:wiki and the Foundation is not able to convince us otherwise. And to us it is the core case of the feature. You can make it easy and label it different to a corner case. But that won't convince for obvious reasons. You have to take the issues raised by the communities as core case seriously or you can just openly confess that you don't care and go for leading the projects in an autocratic way. Then just say it and I won't bother any more with my comments here and my articles on Wikipedia. Heard there are many other nice hobbies around, but then the Foundation will mourn again the loss of more editors and all the classical "we need more editors" stuff starts again ... --Julius1990 (talk) 13:16, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Taking it seriously means analyzing the compliant. You have made a legal complaint, but without competence or responsibility to do so, and moreover are wrong -- that's what taking it seriously looks like. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:50, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, yes, surely the German Wikipedians with interest in this aspect and expertise have to be fully wrong. Just sad that users with a certain profession on it proofed the complaints to be serious. But you can do the Pippi Langstrumpf version of handeling things. But it's not the way you seriously handle the problems that occured and it certainly is not convincing the German Wikipedia community. --Julius1990 (talk) 13:55, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
The expertise you claim is inaccessible to everyone but you, that's what is meant by 'on the internet no one knows who you are'. Your claimed inability, indeed refusal, to consider, with competence or responsibility, demonstrates you are being unserious. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:09, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Sure ... the points were made on the German Meinungsbild and convinced the voters. The Foundation didn't proof otherwise and you do neither but claiming. The same you say applies to your own comments. I tell Lila what for the German community is the core problem and that it believes that this is not solved. If it would be, you easily can show and concvince with arguments, not with your claims. I don't claim to be wrong or right, i just claim to say what for the German voters was one of the core problems. And as i said before: denying this and labelling it to a "not core" problem won't change anything on this tied up situation. --Julius1990 (talk) 14:18, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
No. No one of any responsibility or seriousness is going to put legality to a vote. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:46, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
I imagine that Lila's statement probably is a huge step forward for the WMF, regarding what had happend before during the past week. But what strikes me is that it seems that the superprotect right still will not be abolished. If I got this correctly, I don't think this will bring us much "forward" after all.--Aschmidt (talk) 18:20, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
haha yeah. But sorry Aschmidt; "we’re preparing to unprotect the disputed page on German Wikipedia, but we need to do so within a framework that allows us to come to reasonable resolutions" - means nothing else then; if the german wikipedia does as WMF wants, then WMF will unprotect the page. If not, then not. That is not a step forward. its the same situation since the superprotection was put in place. Just nicer wording :) ...Sicherlich Post 18:38, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
So I got it right again. Thanks for confirming, Sicherlich. (I didn't want to be that cynical.)--Aschmidt (talk) 18:52, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
All we are doing is asking everyone to hold the current state until we jointly find a better way to make decisions on product. This includes lifting superprotect. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 21:41, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
You ask us to accept the dagger in our chest until the argument has been sorted that has led to the fight. Sorry, but the most pressing issue is not software deployment. It is the superprotect mode and the mindset it stands for.---<(kmk)>- (talk) 22:31, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
+1. The "current state" is strictly not acceptable and also goes against the principles that govern the relationship between WMF and communities. There is no ground for discussion or cooperation unless this issue is resolved. You notably did not answer my question from above: Please check out Jimbo's principles: "Any changes to the software must be gradual and reversible. We need to make sure that any changes contribute positively to the community, as ultimately determined by the Wikimedia Foundation, in full consultation with the community consensus." This implies that you should never, ever, find yourself in a position to enforce critical software changes, and especially not broken software like MV, against evident community consensus. Can we agree on this principle? (Else, the conditions for "working together" would have to be rewritten from the start, and it would be very open which part of current communities would accept the outcome. I suspect: not very many!) Ca$e (talk) 22:38, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
But "the current state" is the one imposed by the WMF against German Wikipedia's will. You are, indeed, saying "we won't remove the superprotection until German Wikipedia has agreed on a version of Media Viewer that it will accept as default", which is basically "we won't remove the superprotection until German Wikipedia agrees to lose the dispute." Why not remove the superprotect, set Media Viewer back to opt-in, and turn it to opt-out only after German Wikipedia agrees you've done a good enough job with it for it to be default software? Why is a feature that we did without for over a decade worth forcing on one of the communities? Why is it necessary for you to hold the software in a state where you have effectively won the dispute instead of yielding gracefully?Kww (talk) 23:01, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I wouldn't view this as being about winning or losing, prevailing or yielding, but rather about reestablishing trust in a partnership and working towards a win-win. Unfortunately I currently don't see this happening for the reasons you and Ca$e state. I don't understand what the foundation's problem is. Lila: What stops you from switching MV to opt-in for the time being as requested in the German Meinungsbild and enwiki's RfC and remove the superprotect right until we (the communities and the foundation) have established proper guidelines on how, where, when and by whom it shall be set and unset? Then we have all the time in the world to discuss visions, goals, products and processes to implement them. Cheers --Millbart (talk) 23:29, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
We don't have that much time as those guys have to discuss and we don't have the money to buy huge Conferences with glamorous key notes of outstanding testimonials. Please just stop disruptive sanctions for now. The readers will be thankful, promised :-D --Sargoth (talk) 18:39, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

My two cents on the key points.

  • Improve (...) user and community feedback (...). -- There already was feedback galore. Rather than feedback, more feed forward is needed. Communicate to the community early and often. Sell your plans to us before the first line of code is written, persuade us, make us part of the process from day one.
  • Learn how to (...) make decisions that have global impact with objectivity (...) Improve our product consistency globally (...). -- That is, ignore the explicit wish of local communities in favour of global uniformity? Since when is global uniformity a necessity? German Wikipedia has sighted revisions in effect and is happy with it since a digital eternity. This is a rather far reaching difference in the UI. Still, the wikipedia as a whole does not seem to suffer tremendously.
  • Increase the responsiveness and speed at which we develop and (...) -- I couldn't care less for speed of software development. Do it fast, or do it slow, whatever you feel appropriate. What I do feel, though, is that bugs need to be less long standing. See for example the problems with SVG. The contents are sufficiently accessible with current software. Eye candy is nice to have but in the end it is just that. The fundamental asset of the wikipedia is its content, not its presentation.
  • Do this with mutual understanding and respect. -- I hope, these buzz words translate to "Embrace the community. Do not even think to fight against it"

---<(kmk)>- (talk) 22:17, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

"we jointly find a better way to make decisions on product." - we means WMF? ... and the better way means a better technical way to prevent the community to do changes? ... or it really about the decision making? By the community? De-WP had a straw poll on the MV so you want something better? And de-WP has a poll against the superprotect - you ignore it as well. ... So it leaves me to the conclusion that the opinion of the community is not what you accept as a good way. ... Interesting. ....Sicherlich Post 07:23, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

(BK) Rather embarrasing to read Lila's responses overnight. I second the critical remarks from my fellow German editors. I also would like to add that we are here to write an encyclopædia, not for giving feedback to software development.--Aschmidt (talk) 07:27, 20 August 2014 (UTC) To make it absolutely clear: This is not about lifting superprotect, but about doing superprotect away, abolishing superprotect.--Aschmidt (talk) 08:38, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

On Working together: Well, you got your requested comments, when are we going to get our single issue here fulfilled? Please remove superprotect and never use it again. It is an unnecessary (existing means of dispute resolution were not used), previously undocumented and massively unsocial feature for a commons-based community like ours. --Ghilt (talk) 08:24, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
By the way, not only because of reasons already explained, i do not see any basis to discuss in a platform like Community_Engagement_(Product)/Process_ideas. The "status quo" there is not only described with an ridiciulous bias, but simply wrong. "announcements are posted through a number of channels" - that may be your perception, our perception is that they more often than not do not reach us in time and when they do, our input is ignored anyway. "Significant-scale rollouts are staged from smaller wikis to the largest ones" - that is often untrue. "After deployments, ad-hoc straw polls and RFCs/votes are sometimes organized by community members" - that is also misleading. See above where i corrected your own phrasing: The current approach of WMF of ignoring important (among them legal) issues, clearly and repeatedly voiced months ahead, and nevertheless rolling out broken und unfixed software, is disruptive and inefficient. "When following a defined process, these requests sometimes culminate in a request for a configuration change via Bugzilla." - that is also misleading. It should rather read: "Oftentimes, critical and high-priority problems are many months before rollout highlighted by expert community members via several channels, among them Bugzilla, but get ignored or handled with utmost neglect." Also, there is a very criticial point not mentioned about status quo: Oftentimes, WMF produces broken and decidedly unwanted software, and, when it is even after rollout remembered that communities voiced months before that they will not accept anything as broken (and causing technical and even legal issues, not to speak of problems for recruting new editors) as that, this is not even recognized, but the unwanted software change is just stoved down the throat of communities, while WMF-employees threaten admins with revoking user rights and even implement new user hierarchies and superblock their community to enforce such unwanted implementations of broken software. Something like that would fairly describe the status quo. "the editors think the readers can be ignored" - i will not even go into details as to why that is not only untrue but an inacceptable affront in itself towards almost every editor (see Kww above on this topic e.g.). You cannot expect community members to discuss anything 1) before the current unacceptable situation, uniliteraly created by WMF, is resolved by WMF, 2) in a not only highly biased put pullulated with untrue descriptions, environment established by members of WMF, being the party who caused and not yet resolved the affrontation against communities. Ca$e (talk) 09:30, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Dear Lila, I would also like to express my gratidue for the time and effort you take to address this problem - it makes me feel that you take our concerns seriously and this is definitely a good first step. A problem that I see here is that two issues are closely intermingled: The question of how to move forward with the MV in particular and software development in general on the one hand, and the problem of the relation between the foundation and the communities on the other. Concerning the former, you are right, we need to talk with each other and think deeply about issues of speed, direction, uniformity vs. diversity etc. And this probably takes some time and we should not rush our fences on it.

But the other issue is much more pressing right now, and it requires quick and determined action from your side. It all boils down to the matter of trust: The foundation has lost a tremendous amout of trust in the German community over the past few years because many in the community feel that the foundation doesn't listen to their concerns and doesn't respect their specific needs and generally moves on to be something that uses the content we generate to make money, but is not willing to give anything back. Whether this view is justified or not is another question, and I'm probably not the right person to judge this. But that is the prevailing view in many discussions about the foundation.

On the other hand, the use of superprotect makes a very strong impression that the foundation, in turn, has lost their trust in the community, in particular in our ability to resolve wheelwars as the one that happened there. Just in case you don't know: RfC are generally considered as binding for the German community and DaB's edit was not covered by the RfC on the MV. Thus, I am pretty sure that this change would not have prevailed long. The fact that now he is getting a lot of approval for this action is precisely due to the unfortunate action of superprotecting the page. You guys unintentionally put him into the role of the rightful avanger against the evil system, to exaggerate a little (but just a little - that is the sad part).

To make a long story short, I would heartly recommend you to take one step after the other, that is: First unprotect the disputed page without any conditions, just to show that you are willing to trust our ability to resolve possible edit/wheelwars ourselves. Then, start/continue the discussion on the relation between foundation and communities, involving the question of how to deal with similar situations in the future, and the discussion about software development. In the current situation, I'm afraid that most of the community is not able or willing to discuss about content, when feelings are still being hurt. But a clear sign of goodwill could well put a beneficial dynamic into running.

Best wishes, Darian (talk) 09:50, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

@Lila: You say: From what I understand the issues is affecting about 1% of the images, but I have asked to confirm. No, it affects every single media file. If author and licence are not immediately and intuitively accessible especially for the un-experienced user, violations of authors' rights and licences are bound to occur, due to the failure of WMF. This is definitely a legal matter. Moreover, further information about the media files should also be readily and easily accessible (which is not a legal issue but an issue of our mission as an encyclopedia, and as such no less important).--Mautpreller (talk) 13:10, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

1) Incorrect and outside competence, see my comment above. 2) Further information is available. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:45, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
No, it's simply correct. It took me, as a truly experienced user, enough time to find the information relevant, due to the misleading buttons and arrows. There are other problems as well (zoom!) but these are the most important ones. And who should be a competent judge as to intuitive accessibility but a user?--Mautpreller (talk) 13:52, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
No, your first legal point is incorrect and without competence. As for your second, it is your intuitive feeling -- that's fine but your intuition, is your intuition. Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:59, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
.:Thanks a lot, I see now what you (a least) mean by "working together" and "feedback". As to legal issues, the point is not that the MV itself violates law but that it is apt to promote violations of law because it fails to give easy and immediate access to the information relevant. As to intuition, look at the results of the RfCs on en.wp and de.wp as well as the reader experience collected by WMF. Seems that my "intuitive feeling" is shared by a good many users, editors as well as readers. Maybe a software developer shouldn't discard such user experiences as irrelevant?--Mautpreller (talk) 14:11, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
"Apt to promote" -- that's rather nonsensical, when you look at this page [4] and see how it identifies no rights holder. Apparently, you admit that MV gives easy access for 99%, but you focus on the 1% -- now if one looks at that objectively that is a mountain out of less than a molehill (and the molehill is largely fictitious). Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:43, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Lila Tretikov. Please recommend to the international Communtity of Individual Volunteers (iCIV) the developement of a Charter of Coordination in coordination with the Wikimedia Foundation. Bylaws Article II (Statement of Purpose) mentions the coordination of WMF and the iCIV but does not say how. In On a Scale of Billions it was stated: „This process must have multiple opportunities for community feedback. We realize that has not always been the case in the past, but this will be one of my top priorities as Executive Director.“ and you have discribed further details in Working Together. In terms of "coordination" we need to define an objective definition of how to coordinate.
Please support this recommondation and please compare the Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process adopted by the conference of international non-govermental organisations (Council of Europe).[1] There has been spent very much and useful work with a high level of agreement – some of it could be copied easily for ccordination, you might call balance, too. --Edward Steintain (talk) 15:07, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
  1. "Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process". The Conference of INGOs of Council of Europe. 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2014-08-18.  Unknown parameter |comment= ignored (help)

Our Future and the role of the Foundation

Hi Everyone

This note reflects my personal opinion and might not represent the view of the entire board :)

I am a volunteer. I volunteer for something incredibly special, something that 30 years from now people will either say “That was quite something, whatever happened?” or they will say “I cannot believe it started in such a simple way, and has grown to become a worldwide resource, free for everyone."

Truth is, we are at a crossroads, and unfortunately have been for quite some time. Blaming each other for being there does not make much sense, as it would probably result in us spending more time at that crossroads. If you want me to take part of the blame, I will.

Other internet projects (not limiting ourselves to websites) are passing us by left and right, and none of them have the non-profit goals that we have. In fact, some of them, with more commercial propositions, are actively undermining us.

When we started our search for a new Executive Director, we set out to find someone with a strong executive product background and solid hands-on experience. After years of building up the organization from scratch, Sue made it clear that we needed an expertise different from her own in order to take us all to the next level.

We found Lila, and she is exactly what we need: someone to look at our special thing with a different view. We are unique in many ways, but not unique enough to ignore basic trends and global developments in how people use the internet and seek knowledge. We have to get better at software development, roll-out, and user adoption. And Lila is helping us do exactly that. (a discussion on process ideas has been started here: )

But at the same time, change works both ways. There is no point in getting better at the development of software if the roll-out of these new features is going to be partial.

We talk often about “the community” (although in reality we have a lot of different communities, with different characteristics). One thing is clear to me: we need to grow that community - not just in numbers, but also in maturity in welcoming newcomers, accepting change (sometimes for the sake of others), dealing with non-productive discussions, and quickly scaling successful new initiatives.

On Wikimedia-l and in some other places I hear a lot from the few and the angry. There is an argument I hear a lot: “We are the community, without us the projects would be nothing. We are the ones who got us here.” That is true, to a degree. But at the same time… we don’t want to be here…. We want to be much further along the road.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

All of this is going to require change, change that might not be acceptable to some of you. I hope that all of you will be a part of this next step in our evolution. But I understand that if you decide to take a wiki-break, that might be the way things have to be. Even so, you have to let the Foundation do its work and allow us all to take that next step when needed. I can only hope that your break is temporary, and that you will return when the time is right.

There is one thing will never change, and that is our commitment to providing free knowledge to everyone in the world. And while software development is a part of this, we have a lot of areas in which we also need to make progress -- and these are the areas where we look to you to take the lead. I am looking forward to working with you, the individual volunteers, and all our movement organizations in order to grow our successes.

Jan-Bart de Vreede

Jan-Bart (talk) 15:27, 20 August 2014 (UTC)


The deletion discussion for Jan-Bart de Vreede led me to the article about the WMF where I noticed that it uses CiviCRM. As your recent background is in CRM and the foundation is having a difficult relationship with its customer community, this could be a fruitful priority. I'm an active editor and volunteer but the chapters, projects and foundation seem to do a poor job of recording my identity and interests. For example, I was a volunteer at Wikimania, where I heard you speak on the need for change, but all the processes and systems for engaging with me as a volunteer and chapter member seemed quite ad hoc and diffuse. Wouldn't it be good to develop and integrate the profiles of our stakeholders? This might help improve your understanding of what we want and so help you better direct the foundation's resources so that we can pull together in the same direction. For example, I often try using Wikipedia through my smartphone but find the interface weak. You have mobile use as a high priority and I'm keen to support you in this. As your systems could do a better job of bringing us together, what are your plans to improve them, please? Andrew (talk) 08:50, 20 August 2014 (UTC)