Grants talk:Project/Isarra/Post-deployment support
Eligibility confirmed, round 2 2017
We've confirmed your proposal is eligible for round 2 2017 review. Please feel free to ask questions and make changes to this proposal as discussions continue during the community comments period, through 17 October 2017.
The committee's formal review for round 2 2017 begins on 18 October 2017, and grants will be announced 1 December. See the schedule for more details.Questions? Contact us.
- @Mjohnson (WMF): Questions: Is it too late to split this into two proposals? Also how would I go about cancelling the proposal if it came to it? These are not necessarily related. -— Isarra ༆ 20:14, 5 October 2017 (UTC)
- @Isarra:, it is not too late to reformat your proposal so that it takes a smaller bite out of your over all vision, with other pieces postponed for later. It is too late to introduce a second proposal into this round, though. You can cancel your proposal any time. Please make any changes to your proposal by October 17, before the committee begins their review. If possible, it's best if you can cancel the proposal by October 17, if you choose to do so, for the same reason--I prefer not to have our volunteers do the extra review work if you know that you will not proceed this round. Let me know if you have any questions. Warm regards, --Marti (WMF) (talk) 20:32, 5 October 2017 (UTC)
- @Mjohnson (WMF): I know this is unorthodox, but would it be possible to get an extension on the community comments period for this? (Like if the evaluation people just look at all the other ones first and this one last or something?) The problem is I held off on notifying most of the relevant communities at first because I wanted to work on it a bit more beforehand based on some of the initial input, and it hardly seemed fair to get people to comment on something likely to change significantly, but then I got really, really sick. I've been unable to do much of anything for the past two weeks and am still recuperating now, but at least I was able to make the most important change (I think?) yesterday - but even if I announce it as-is, half a day is hardly enough time for me to get much meaningful input, or for them to properly consider it in general. -— Isarra ༆ 19:25, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
- @Isarra:, I am so sorry to hear that you've been sick. Unfortunately, I'm not able to offer you an extension, since it would mean additional pressure on the committee. Since the Committee members are all volunteers, and since their job during each round is already very substantial, I rely on the process we have set up to make the work as manageable as I can for them. However, I have an alternative strategy to suggest: The Committee will begin their first round of reviews tomorrow. That review will take about two weeks. My suggestion is that you do community notification today and when you ask for feedback, request that those who can respond within a week so that their feedback can still be reviewed by the committee. Then, make a note about that deadline here on your talkpage so reviewing committee members will understand the situation and can check your proposal in the second week of their review. Warm regards, --Marti (WMF) (talk) 21:00, 17 October 2017 (UTC)
Feedback deadline: 24 October
General note for everyone, despite the fact that I was only able to really announce this on the 17th due to being ill, we still need all community feedback in by the 24th so the committee reviewers have a chance to take it into consideration (though in practice they may or may not be able to, even with this deadline). -— Isarra ༆ 00:28, 18 October 2017 (UTC)
Aggregated feedback from the committee for Post-deployment support
|(A) Impact potential
|(B) Community engagement
|(C) Ability to execute
|(D) Measures of success
|Additional comments from the Committee:
This proposal has been recommended for due diligence review.
The Project Grants Committee has conducted a preliminary assessment of your proposal and recommended it for due diligence review. This means that a majority of the committee reviewers favorably assessed this proposal and have requested further investigation by Wikimedia Foundation staff.
- Aggregated committee comments from the committee are posted above. Note that these comments may vary, or even contradict each other, since they reflect the conclusions of multiple individual committee members who independently reviewed this proposal. We recommend that you review all the feedback and post any responses, clarifications or questions on this talk page.
- Following due diligence review, a final funding decision will be announced on March 1st, 2019.
- Thank you all. Question: should I update the proposal itself based on responses to the comments here, or just put the responses below?
- Anyway, some responses, especially for things that seem to come up a lot in general:
- Outcomes are big targets for the grantee. Suggesting taking a more prudent conservative approach.
- Are the outcomes that big of targets? Some of it's a bit fuzzy, but if anything, I'd expect I need to aim for something bigger. Of the three following, two could easily wind up happening even without the grant, which really isn't that helpful for evaluating its success/failure:
- More users opted into Timeless than Cologne Blue
- Timeless deployed everywhere, and enwp not angry
- Gadgets and features being made for/backported out of Timeless for other skins
- 1 is hard to measure (we only want to count active users, but even users who've enabled a skin for reading, not necessarily editing, would ideally be counted for this sort of thing, which is unfortunately not currently possible), but at present on the French Wikipedia we have over a hundred people opted into Timeless even despite all the bugs (of which there are many, and some very significant such as VE trapping users forever in its shiny deeeeepths), compared to 4000-some opted into CologneBlue, and that's including inactive users. Better metrics a la T147696 are needed, but what we're really aiming for here is progress made toward getting rid of CologneBlue and the other old minor skins, more than just exceeding the usage. We want to effectively replace these with Timeless and Minerva, moving forward the visuals for everyone so that the designers have an easier time working within only more modern contexts, as opposed to the historical precedent.
- Mind you, I have no idea how we would measure that. Meaningful usage statistics are hard enough.
- 2 looks like it's just going to happen regardless. The English Wikipedia already got consensus to have it deployed as an option there, nobody is angry aside from at the lack of progress toward this actually happening, and we're (developers tracking the deployments) leaning toward just deploying it everywhere now anyway because you know what, we're bloody slow at doing all the individual ones, enwp and dewp already want it, and there really isn't any compelling reason not to. The worst that's happened on any of them so far has been wholly contained to Timeless itself - no bugs have affected any users not using the skin.
- 3 was supposed to be the crazy stretch one and you're probably right that I need something a little less crazy and stretchy. More on this when I come up with something.
- there is no ... indication that this skin will be used more often after completion of the project
- It will be less broken and a lot more usable. If that doesn't make it used more often, then we can safely kill it and just use all its guts to make something better. Most of the bugfixes and features could be applied to any other similar skin, so the work won't be wasted even if Timeless itself is ditched.
- 50/hr is a little too much, having in mind other projects from grantee
- This has come up a few times now, so to clarify: asking for 50/hr is on the low end for this kind of work. As a freelancer, I receive no benefits, pay double taxes on all wages, have to cover all auxiliary costs out of the lump sum. And yet what I am asking for is a comparable hourly rate to what someone with my level of expertise and cost of living would receive as a full-time employee at a major tech company with full benefits, where the company is paying their side of the taxes, where management overhead would all be taken care of for them, and where reasonable mis-estimates when it comes to amount of hours required to complete the project would be taken in stride with all employees still being paid for their work. I get none of that here, along with the added stress of it only being one part-time project among several.
- And if you want to compare this to what we asked for in the IEG WikiProject X, don't. That was a different kind of grant for a different kind of work. I am simply asking for something within the range of my normal contract rates here, with a discount for the fact that that all resulting code will be open source and is intended to be reused to further MediaWiki development in general.
- Good community support, although more support from WMF staff would be needed to make this project successful; Potential impact may be rather weak as Timeless is somewhat stuck. It might be impactful and sustainable if it gets WMF support, but it is unlikely to get it, so there is a potential problem.
- It's true we need more WMF support for non-vector skins, but having non-vector skins that are actively adopted by users and maintained by anyone should be a major step toward emphasising the need for this in the first place. If we can demonstrate that users are adopting the skin, interested in particular features, etc, this then becomes something managers can work with when it comes to prioritising budgets, project and team focuses, etc. This may be a potential outcome worth exploring.
- it is unclear why it takes 6 months for the completion of the project and why grantee works one day per week
- It's not so much that it takes six months to complete this, as that this project is to allocate six months of weekly work to the project. This way we can make progress within a set of reasonable expectations in order to complete the stated goals and move along our overall understanding of the needs within the Wikimedia projects when it comes to new skins, while accounting for the time required for changes to be deployed, and user responses to trickle back. I am hoping we can work together to develop better expectations and goals moving forward, of course - I realise that what's down is pretty vague at present. -— Isarra ༆ 22:55, 17 November 2017 (UTC)
Revised based on feedback
I've revised the proposal based on the feedback here, and after talking more to @Mjohnson (WMF):. Hopefully more of the concerns should now be addressed.
I also have a revised budget table that goes into more specifics, but given that I'm not sure if I'm actually allowed to ask for more money than the original amount at this point, I've just, er, left it out of this version, as it came out to be somewhat more. (Shoehorning this work into the smaller number can still work, I think, but it's just going to be painful, and I really can't reasonably back it up because it's just not what doing the maths came up with. It's just a random number I came up with earlier because I had too little actual information to do better at the time. I have a LOT more information now.) -— Isarra ༆ 03:01, 3 December 2017 (UTC)
Round 2 2017 decision
This project has not been selected for a Project Grant at this time.
We love that you took the chance to creatively improve the Wikimedia movement. The committee has reviewed this proposal and not recommended it for funding, but we hope you'll continue to engage in the program. Please drop by the IdeaLab to share and refine future ideas!
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@Mjohnson (WMF): can we get a reasoning behind this decision? This is a huge setback to the project. Also, in my opinion, this shows how little we are willing to do to support our volunteer developers. I see that Isarra addressed all of the concerns raised by the committee in her earlier post. I'm curious to know why this was still declined despite overwhelming support from staff as well as community members. -- NKohli (WMF) (talk) 01:02, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- NKohli (WMF), there has not been support for this project among staff I've been directed to consult for their particular expertise around skins. A variety of objections have been raised, but the following are the main ones that influenced this decision:
- Product quality: Staff with design expertise have strongly objected to Timeless stating that it does not follow standard principles that create a positive user experience in skins. Their recommendation has been against funding Timeless.
- Impact to WMF technical staff: In my due diligence inquiries, I was informed that the Timeless skin creates a burden of unplanned work for WMF staff who do not have resources available for this purpose. This is a decisive barrier for grant funding. In the past, there were serious restrictions on the technical projects we could fund because of the perception that they might disrupt the work of WMF staff. Consequently, we formerly could only fund gadgets and niche projects that did not touch the core code. We were able to lift this embargo and fund more robust projects only through an agreement to focus exclusively on projects that grantees could complete autonomously, without any staff support, including any implied long-term workflows created by the project. Alternatively, we can fund projects that were developed in agreement with the staff and/or related maintainers whose workflow would be impacted. This is not yet the case with Timeless.
- The former issue has been the more influential source of concern for the committee. The latter has been the more influential source of concern for me. I am very cautious about funding technical projects that encroach on staff resources, purely because the failure to avoid them historically resulted in a decision to exclude technical projects that touched the MediaWiki core. I'd like us to be able to continue to fund extensions, etc. and this means I am responsible for making sure WMF staff aren't subject to unplanned work because of grant projects I approve.
- Let me know if you have further questions.
- --Marti (WMF) (talk) 01:45, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- I cannot comment on the design, which I personally love and so do a lot of other community members as apparent from the endorsements and the wishlist proposal. I can comment on the technical aspect of it. The skin is deployed to all Wikimedia projects (phab:T154371). I am not clear on what the "unplanned work for WMF staff" is here. The skin has a lot of feature requests, maintenance and bugs reported. Given that the project is deployed everywhere, by the WMF, somebody would have to work on these. It seems to me that if we do not fund a volunteer developer to work on this, it's a much greater burden on WMF staff to make these required fixes on their own. And given Isarra built the skin from scratch, she knows more about it than anyone else. The point raised here would have been totally valid had the skin not been deployed since code review and initial deployment are the bulk of work that WMF staff have to undertake. However at this stage, that no longer holds. Also, to the best of my knowledge, there are staffers with +2 rights who have committed to helping with code review in their free time. Given that, I cannot fathom why this project would be any burden on WMF whatsoever. -- NKohli (WMF) (talk) 02:29, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- Marti, could you tell us which staff members you spoke to? Because I'm utterly baffled by those comments. Niharika addressed the second part (specifically myself and other staff had already committed our free time to this), and I'm confused about the first - the skin isn't perfect, but the point of the grant was to improve it...but apparently other staff are objecting to funding it because it's not already perfect? Legoktm (talk) 03:13, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- +1 to what they both said. It's a damn shame we can't seem to fund this project. As Niharika rightly points out: the bulk of the staff work is already complete (initial review & deployment support). It's no different from the many other volunteer-developed extensions that we provide support for by the very nature of their having been deployed. Just ongoing code review which we do anyway (and which several staffers have already pledged to help with). Skin work is greatly under-appreciated, and it's been refreshing to see this project make so much progress so quickly. I hope the committee can revisit this decision, as I believe it's been made in error. 😂 (talk) 04:14, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- PS: It'd be great if we could have a technical discussion here with the relevant team weighing in before all the effort is expended putting together a mighty fine grant proposal. 😂 (talk) 04:17, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- I am a complete ignorant on the topic of what does or does not "follow standard principles that create a positive user experience in skins", but I enjoy Timeless a lot. It's by far the best looking skin I've been using lately. Same goes for a lot of people in our community, as pointed out previously. I want to stress that not granting a fund to fix bugs in a product already deployed in production will only **increase**, not decrease, the amount of work that paid staff must do. I don't think that latter reason for rejection holds any ground, from a technical point of view. Also: the whole point of "creating more work for the WMF staff" is problematic to me when it comes to funding work from volunteer developers - we talk so much about engaging them more, and this seems to contradict that goal. GLavagetto (WMF) (talk) 06:50, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- I'll just note that normally, for technical proposals who request some kind of resources from Wikimedia (including mentoring), what we require is that they have suitable code review (and project management) resources available, whether volunteer or otherwise. It's not clear to me whether a lack of such resources was identified, or whether other kind of costs were envisaged/feared. Nemo 15:11, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- Unless we plan on killing this skin (removing it from production) or letting it bitrot, why would we not want to fund someone who's done a ton of the work, to continue doing that good work? I understand if there were competing proposals that were just much more compelling, but that's not what's being said here. -- ArielGlenn (talk) 17:40, 19 December 2017 (UTC)
- I also wanted to add that I find the reasoning strange. From the technical side, not funding this creates more work for wmf staff, not less. Most of staff time that would be needed for this project (e.g. security review, deploying it) has already been done and many of the people endorsing this skin are prominent developers (ie the staff that would be doing the "unplanned work"). I would be interested in knowing specificly what "unplanned work" people are worried about potentially happening, is. From the design side - while its always difficult to get a straight answer on design issues, afaict nothing in this skin violates https://wikimedia.github.io/WikimediaUI-Style-Guide/ and of the concerns raised at https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T158012 during the design review, most of them seemed minor and unclear. So its really unclear what the design concerns actually are. Furthermore isnt the point of making alternative skins to experiment with alternative designs? Why is it even relavent if this skin complies with the totally undocumented design principles, whatever they are? BWolff (WMF) (talk) 02:11, 20 December 2017 (UTC)
- @Mjohnson (WMF): I would like to publicly echo the request to know who was consulted on this. Regarding the design aspects, the lack of meaningful standards or research around skinning and what does create a positive user experience has been a long-standing pain point, so if someone has more information on the topic, it would be very helpful to be able to get in touch with them. And regarding the technical aspects, if a team has specific concerns about Timeless' continued support and development, these concerns are going to need to be addressed with or without the grant being funded. -— Isarra ༆ 04:51, 20 December 2017 (UTC)
Alternatively, we can fund projects that were developed in agreement with the staff and/or related maintainers whose workflow would be impacted. This is not yet the case with Timeless.
I'll ask the same question as others, since this explanation makes reference to it: which specific staff and related maintainers need to agree? Who is impacted and is objecting? Lots of Wikimedia Foundation staff are on record, repeatedly, supporting this skin, so this rationale is very difficult to understand. --MZMcBride (talk) 04:37, 21 December 2017 (UTC)
Hi all -- Working with volunteers in the technical community is important to the Foundation and something we take very seriously. At the same time, we have to balance these desires with the technical challenges of running a very high traffic global website. The grants team did their due diligence in consulting with technical staff, but this grant has exposed some issues with how we assess technical grants and given the WMF some insights in how we can make some process improvements to make sure that this balance is considered.
We are planning on addressing these issues in the coming months, including making sure that better communication occurs across and between grants and technical teams. Specific to this grant, we’d like to invite Isarra to submit an updated proposal in the upcoming period with some specific support on standards and guidelines from the WMF. Isarra -- we’ll reach out to you directly with these materials and information on the next round of grants can be found here.
- Thanks for commenting Toby, however you didn't address any of the comments above, specifically that the rejection reasons don't make sense at all. Were you part of the "technical staff" that was consulted? Because nearly everyone in the above definition are also technical staff at the WMF and strongly disagree with the recommendations/advice/feedback that was given to the grants team. (I don't really blame the grants team here).
- Quite frankly, I think it's ridiculous to ask Isarra to submit a THIRD grant proposal, when she received an email after this one basically telling her that without support from a WMF team, this proposal was never going to get funded. Yet she has no idea which WMF team is opposed to Timeless, when many WMF staff have repeatedly spoken out publicly in support for her work on Timeless. Isarra's commitment and perseverance is commendable and I'm disappointed that we have treated her so poorly. Legoktm (talk) 02:49, 22 December 2017 (UTC)
- I'm glad that some unspecified steps will be taken to address the irrationality around this proposal's assessment, but it's a nonsense to ask that the proposer gain «support on standards and guidelines from the WMF». The whole point of everyone's response to the proposal's assessment is that nobody knows who believes such support is missing, or why; and that nobody is aware of someone at WMF being tasked with decreeing that such support is lacking, or who they are and how they make such calls. --Nemo 14:08, 26 December 2017 (UTC)
- @TNegrin (WMF): I expect the WMF staff members with concerns regarding Timeless to stand up here and to explain their concerns, and for the community to decide if they're legitimate or not. I'm disgusted at the way a valuable member of the community has been treated by the Foundation, and disappointed at the way in which the Foundation has yet again forgotten that you're here to serve the community; the community is NOT here to serve staff members. Nick (talk) 15:07, 26 December 2017 (UTC)
- @TNegrin (WMF): As a grants committee member, I would like to ask you to provide your concerns to the committee before the evaluation phase in the next round, of course if we happen to receive any Timeless submission. We have worked on two Timeless grant requests only to find out that staff has concerns that prevent WMF from funding Timeless. It is a legitimate decision but we need to find a solution that would allow both to advance on Timeless and not to create an extra burden on the staff. Personally I find that the current situation where we do not fund Timeless and do not explain to Isarra what she should do in order to get funding rather problematic — NickK (talk) 17:31, 28 December 2017 (UTC)
@TNegrin (WMF): So it's been a month since your comment — what's the latest on this? Like the commenters above — some WMF staff, some volunteers; all people who care deeply about the Wikimedia movement as well as the underlying MediaWiki software and the people interacting with Wikimedia websites — I, too, am extremely surprised and astonished by the way how poorly this has been handled. Having worked on MediaWiki for some 10+ years, written a few extensions and skins myself and having followed the Timeless project from the very start, I would be more than curious to hear what exactly is the problem here, the alleged "technical challenges" you reference.
Timeless has been reviewed for security and enabled on all Wikimedia wikis in late 2017, so I would argue that there are no technical issues in this respect either. That being said, if and when there are software bugs the developers aren't aware of, it's important to report them! Developers aren't mind readers and instead we rely on precise, accurate, actionable bug reports in order to be able to spot, test and fix issues.
Looking at the project grants main page, the deadline for proposals is rapidly approaching, so an update on the situation would be very much needed. Furthermore I'm sure that the communities — especially, but not only, the early adopter ones mentioned in phabricator:T154371 — would love an explanation as to why the WMF is unwilling to fund this important project; it's not like good designers who also happen to have a deep knowledge of MediaWiki's internals grow on trees. --Jack Phoenix (Contact) 23:39, 21 January 2018 (UTC)
Proposal resubmitted at Grants:Project/Isarra/Timeless: Post-deployment support
Based on WMF recommendations, I have resubmitted this proposal for the current round of project grants here: Grants:Project/Isarra/Timeless: Post-deployment support. It is essentially the same proposal, with some clarifications as to the specific work to be done and a budget better reflecting current understanding of the project as well as some added work resulting from the delays.
I would like to invite everyone interested to support the new proposal and show that there is still interest in this project, or if you have any questions or comments, to add them to the talkpage there.