IRC office hours/Office hours 2013-03-30

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Topic for #wikimedia-office is: Office hours with Sue Gardner and Jan-Bart de Vreede at 11am PST, 6pm UTC today | Q&A: | Blog post: |
Topic for #wikimedia-office set by Thehelpfulone!~Helper@wikimedia/Thehelpfulone at Sat Mar 30 15:21:55 2013

[17:59:09] <MissGayle> Hi Risker!
[17:59:27] <Risker> Hi MissGayle!
[18:00:07] <sgardner> Risker! Hello!
[18:00:13] <sgardner> And hello everyone :-)
[18:00:35] <Jan-bart> Hi Everyone, welcome to today office hours with Sue Gardner and me, we are here to talk about Sue’s announcement and the work of the transition team. I propose we spend 15 minutes for any additional questions to Sue with regards to her decision. We then have an 45 minutes left for a discussion with regards to the transition team. Apart from asking questions we hope to also get input from you.
[18:00:47] <Jan-bart> Also: By the end of today we should have a meta page where you can leave your suggestions and where we will also update everyone on the progress.
[18:01:43] <tommorris> hey sgardner
[18:02:06] <Jan-bart> ok, so lets get started
[18:02:06] <sgardner> tommorris hello!
[18:02:58] <sgardner> So I think probably everybody here saw the blog post and the e-mail to announce-l -- if anyone didn't, it's here:
[18:02:59] <sgardner>
[18:03:44] <sgardner> So I tried in the post to lay out the basics of what I've been thinking, and also JB posted about the transition team. And, like Gayle said earlier, we've been talking in the office in the evenings about the implications, next steps, and so forth.
[18:03:57] <sgardner> But if anyone here has questions or things they want to say, this is one forum for that.
[18:04:01] <sgardner> So please feel free :-)
[18:04:22] <Thehelpfulone> There's also a Q&A at (both of these links are in the channel topic)
[18:04:53] <sgardner> (I think we are officially unmoderated today. Usually Philippe or StevenW or Maggie collects questions and acts as a kind of traffic-cop. But I think today we don't have a master of ceremonies: it's just free-flowing.)
[18:05:05] <sgardner> Thanks thehelpfulone -- I forgot the Q and A has been published.
[18:05:13] <Thehelpfulone> no problem :)
[18:06:28] <tommorris> Thehelpfulone: could you s/onboarding/induction/ in the Sue QA page on Foundationwiki. ;)
[18:07:06] <Jan-bart> we are (for now) unmoderated, so fire away… if there aren't any on this topic we can move along to the transition team
[18:07:49] <sgardner> tommorris lol :-)
[18:07:55] <tommorris> sgardner: I haven't really got any questions. Just wanted to say that both as a Wikimedian and personally, thank you for everything you've done for the Foundation and the movement. I'm sad to see you go but happy that you are starting a new chapter in your life.
[18:08:28] <tommorris> so, hugs and kisses. :) anyway, family calls.
[18:08:38] <Thehelpfulone> tommorris, sure, done :p
[18:08:48] <sgardner> Thanks tommorris -- that's very kind :-) Enjoy your family :-)
[18:08:48] <jps> sgardner: what does "the public interest online" mean to you?
[18:08:48] <tommorris> thanks Thehelpfulone
[18:09:48] <sgardner> jps: what I mean by that is that I think the internet is very powerful & useful for ordinary people. I think it matters that ordinary people have access to this powerful tool, and that its development is shaped by what's in their interests.
[18:09:51] <sgardner> Does that make sense?
[18:10:19] <jps> yes. I have a followup. Why do you think you'll be able to advance that interest more effectively elsewhere?
[18:10:38] <sgardner> (So, like, they should be able to express themselves freely. They should be able to share information with other people. They shouldn't have their experience overly influenced by considerations that are purely corporate in nature. Etc.)
[18:10:47] <sgardner> Yes, to your followup:
[18:12:27] <sgardner> The anti-SOPA campaign was an important moment for me. You know that after it, we at the Wikimedia Foundation did a lot of thinking about how we should approach similar situations in future. Ultimately (and correctly, I think) we determined that it isn't the core work of the Wikimedia Foundation to advocate for a free and open internet. We're *dependent* on a free and open internet (the projects are dependent on it), but it's not our c
[18:12:27] <sgardner> ore competency to advocate for it directly. That makes sense to me.
[18:13:00] <sgardner> But it struck me that there are (IMO) insufficient voices doing that direct advocacy. There are lots of organizations and individuals who are doing that work, but they are not sufficiently powerful or influential, yet.
[18:13:16] <Abbasjnr> Hi Sue, I don't have any questions related to your departure. However, I just wanted to ask: what happened to hiring a successor to Barry?
[18:13:33] <sgardner> And so that's where I want to put my energy and my time. Because I feel like we're at a dangerous place -- the trends are moving in the wrong direction, I am not optimistic.
[18:13:42] <sgardner> Hi Abbasjnr.
[18:14:19] <MissGayle> I'll help capture questions so they don't get missed.
[18:14:30] <Jan-bart> thanks missgayle
[18:14:57] <sgardner> I decided not to hire a successor to Barry, because I felt like between Anasuya and Frank they were able to do the necessary work. In part, to a degree, this was because Anasuya was new to the movement, and I didn't think (and don't think) it made sense for her to be new, for her to hire new staff to work for her, and for her simultaneously to report to a new person. That felt like a lot of newness (inexperience in Wikimedia) which fel
[18:14:57] <sgardner> t risky.
[18:15:06] <eia> Q: in the past, I remember discussions that it was complicated to hire Sue because of her being Canadian (not being US citizen). Is that (nationality) likely to play a role in the process/criteria?
[18:15:32] <sgardner> hey eia. I will leave this question for JB, unless JB you want me to take it?
[18:15:38] <Jan-bart> eia: I assume you are talking about successor
[18:15:40] <Abbasjnr> Fair enough. Thanks
[18:15:48] <Jan-bart> I would imagine it does NOT have any influence
[18:15:56] <sgardner> (Abbasjnr, let me know if what I wrote doesn't fully answer your question, or if you have a followup.)
[18:16:00] <sgardner> (And thanks Gayle.)
[18:16:06] <eia> Jan-bart: yes, I was talking about the to-be-hired-ED :)
[18:16:09] <Jan-bart> first you decide who you are looking for, then you find a way to make that happen :)
[18:16:48] <MissGayle> We're much better as an org about dealing with immigration issues than we used to, too.
[18:16:58] <sgardner> Thanks to MissGayle :-)
[18:17:03] * mindspillage agrees with Jan-bart there: way more important to find the right person and no need to resitrct it unnecessarily...
[18:17:48] <eia> mindspillage: I was just wondering if there were any legal obligations to first look for a US person. Obviously that wouldn't be a criterium by choice :)
[18:17:50] <Jan-bart> era subtly bridged us to the "transition" discussion.. feel free to fire away with suggestions or questions
[18:18:27] <Risker> Sue, what would you say were the biggest successes under your leadership, and the most significant failures?
[18:18:39] <sgardner> Risker, good question! Tough question!
[18:18:55] <sgardner> I'll take a crack at it...
[18:21:44] <Jan-bart> meanwhile other questions?
[18:21:45] <Risker> while Sue is working away at that (I think it will take a few minutes), to the transition team: since someone will inevitably ask this: does your role on the transition team preclude any of you from applying for the ED position?
[18:21:59] <Jan-bart> risker
[18:22:01] <Jan-bart> YES
[18:22:39] <Jan-bart> If anybody had the intention to apply for the job, they would have excused themselves from the transition team
[18:23:40] <sgardner> I feel like there were probably two major successes with me as ED, one mostly attributable to me directly, and one less so. 1) The reboot of the Wikimedia Foundation itself. When I started, the WMF wasn't able to capably and competently support the projects. We kept the sites up (mostly) but we weren't doing a good job e.g., rolling out new MW releases in a timely fashion, defending against legal threats, managing the trademarks and do
[18:23:40] <sgardner> main names, etc. etc. Since I came I (and later we) grew the Wikimedia Foundation to the point where I think it is today a much more capable partner to the Wikimedia community in maintaining and supporting the projects. That is mostly attributable to me, as well as the Board and the staff I hired. 2) The other big success I think is the growing credibility of the projects. In 2007 the general public was still distrustful of Wikipedia,
[18:23:41] <sgardner> because it was new and disruptive and unproven-to-work. Over the past five or six years though, I think that has shifted enormously. I think that today most people agree that Wikipedia is on balance a gift to the world and an important and very useful and generally reliable repository of knowledge. That mostly is a function of the hard work of editors. I would take very little credit for that, but I would take a little credit: I've spe
[18:23:46] <sgardner> nt a lot of time trying to help persuade people that they can trust Wikipedia, and helping them understand why.
[18:23:49] <sgardner> A little more text coming :-)
[18:23:54] <tommorris> okay, this is for Jan-bart: how important do you think technical management vs. community management is going to be in deciding the future ED?
[18:24:12] <Jan-bart> hmmm Tom tough one
[18:24:36] <sgardner> I am also proud of the fundraising. We are making a lot of money, and we are doing it in a way that is 100% aligned with the values and goals of the movement. I'm proud of that.
[18:25:16] <Jan-bart> Keeping in mind that this is my personal opinion I see no greater asset than the community… I think that this is the "real" capital of our movement. I am very happy that tech development has improved tremendously… but it all serves to support the community
[18:26:36] <Risker> thanks for your answers, Jan-bart.
[18:26:36] <sgardner> I think my most significant failure is a collective one, probably, and not mine alone. I wish that we had been able, or were being able, to imagine a future for the Wikimedia movement that was/is more imaginative and inventive with regards to how we structure ourselves from an organizational standpoint. I don't think we're doing a very good job imagining what a 21st century decentralized collaborative movement should look like from an
[18:26:36] <sgardner> org structure perspective.
[18:27:50] <Risker> thanks for those responses, Sue.
[18:27:54] <MissGayle> I agree with what JB said - and part of the narrowing focus was the recognition that we're an engineering and grant making organization, so the ability to make wise decisions about the technical challenges we'll have (whether it's the ED or making sure their team can) has to be an organizational core competency
[18:28:02] <sgardner> Let me know if you need/want me to elaborate on that Risker -- it may read a little euphemistically, and I don't mean it to.
[18:28:57] <tommorris> sgardner: okay, kind of a long-winded one. if you were advising the board on hiring your replacement, or you were talking to your replacement, how would you advise them on radical change? like, let's say it became clear that chapters needed a major rejig to function, or some other radical change, what would you advise on that?
[18:28:58] <Risker> MissGayle, I think what tommorris might be getting at is that the "engineering and grant making organization" isn't really getting the buy-in from the community that one might expect if the community actually believed it
[18:29:13] <Jan-bart> and to add to what MissGayle stated: the question is often "do we need those skills at an ED level…?"
[18:29:24] <MissGayle> that seems like an interesting thing to explore at some point!
[18:29:38] <sgardner> tommorris, okay I will start to answer that next :-)
[18:29:41] <MissGayle> but I'd like this conversation to stay focused on Sue :)
[18:29:47] <tommorris> Risker: I wasn't making that assumption about the community, just really saying that the Foundation has to juggle both community and technical management work.
[18:30:00] <sgardner> MissGayle it's supposed to be about both me and the transition -- it's okay :-)
[18:33:07] <sgardner> tommorris: The Wikimedia movement is not good at radical change -- we're not suited to it. We're kind of like an ocean liner (or like the Quakers) -- we only achieve a lasting and true commitment to change if we do it slowly, through lots of discussion and the gradual building of consensus. (I think that is neither good nor bad, it just *is*.) And so I wouldn't advise a new ED to chart a radically different path WRT e.g. the chapters.
[18:33:07] <sgardner> I would advise them though to be intentional and iterative. Not just going with the flow, but observing and thinking and imagining different future possibilities, and facilitating explicit direct honest conversations about what we're trying to build here, what's helping achieve the mission, and what isn't.
[18:33:43] <jps> sgardner: I have one more. The "Foundation Policy and Political Association Guideline" seems to specifically contemplate the sort of action you say has been rejected. When was the determination made that advocacy for a free and open internet wasn't part of the "empower" imperative of the mission, and who made that determination?
[18:33:47] <sgardner> But I want to say that knowing that it's hard. That's what I have been trying to do myself, and like I said, I don't feel like I was tremendously successful in that area.
[18:34:52] <sgardner> jps do you have a pointer towards that policy? I'm sure I know it, but I don't recognize it under that name.
[18:35:03] <jps>
[18:35:29] <sgardner> Thanks -- I will go refresh my memory and come right back :-)
[18:35:52] <sgardner> oh yes, of course I do know it. Sorry.
[18:37:31] <sgardner> That policy is the result of our post-SOPA discussions, and it's an attempt to delineate what we think we should and should not do vis-a-vis advocacy. What it contemplates, I think, is us lending our name and in other ways potentially supporting like-minded organizations in their efforts to advocate on behalf of a free and open internet, in the explicit understanding that we're not doing it ourselves. So, *we* won't do it, and we *will
[18:37:31] <sgardner> * provide some support to others who do it.
[18:37:40] <sgardner> Can I ask Risker a question?>
[18:37:52] <Jan-bart> yes you may .)
[18:38:49] <Risker> sure
[18:38:55] <sgardner> Risker, I can't find it scrolling back quickly, but I think I remember you saying something about how you didn't believe the community was necessarily accepting the engineering & grantmaking frame. Can you talk a little more about that? Which aspect was the community not necessarily accepting do you think, and why do you think it?
[18:39:18] <sgardner> (Not "what evidence do you have to support what you're saying" but "if the community isn't accepting it, what do you think is their objection.")
[18:40:45] <Risker> some of what I have heard is that the actual editing community is being left out of the equation in favour of technical solutions to human problems, and in favour of forming internal advocacy groups that may or may not actually benefit the movement or the projects
[18:41:01] <sgardner> Ah.
[18:41:10] <Risker> the editing community sees Wikimedia as an "information" organization, as opposed to a technical one or a grant making one
[18:41:14] <sgardner> what does internal advocacy groups mean?
[18:41:22] <tommorris> yeah, was going to ask that
[18:42:36] <sgardner> (Just in case there's confusion here: the Wikimedia Foundation has been saying the Wikimedia Foundation's contribution to the mission is engineering and grant-making, not that the Wikimedia movement is about engineering and grant-making. The Wikimedia movement is clearly about information, education.)
[18:42:39] <Risker> two examples I have heard of the "advocacy groups" is the deliberate spinning off of the WMF Education programs and the Wiki Med group.
[18:42:43] <Jan-bart> meanwhile: missgayle I believe we have no questions on the backlog? Anyone else have questions?
[18:42:51] <MissGayle> i don't have any
[18:42:58] <MissGayle> in the backlog, that is
[18:43:02] <Jan-bart>  ;)
[18:43:40] <tommorris> Risker: I'd like to think that they aren't so much "advocacy groups" as groupings of editors who are adding formal organisation to support improvement of the projects.
[18:43:51] <sgardner> Ah. But the WMF Ed program getting spun out takes that out of the Foundation's remit, and the Foundation doesn't have anything to do with Wiki Med. But you're saying (in effect) that people are feeling those types of organizations are getting too much priority, regardless of where they sit in the overall ecosystem, right?)
[18:44:07] <Risker> tommorris, I'd like to think so too, but I've been living in the real world too long to really believe it
[18:44:14] <tommorris> and if they aren't benefitting the projects, then the Foundation shouldn't recognise 'em.
[18:44:50] <Risker> sgardner, I think you're missing the point. Editors PREFERRED the education program to be under WMF because when it messed up there was some accountability.
[18:45:35] <Risker> accountability is a rather big issue for the editorship.
[18:45:54] <sgardner> Oh. I am missing your point then. Hm.
[18:46:12] <Nemo_bis> What editors?
[18:46:24] <tommorris> The ones who edit anonymously. ;)
[18:46:26] <sgardner> I had never thought about it from that perspective. What's the worry with it being outside the WMF -- that it will spend Wikimedia money poorly, or embarrass the projects in some way?
[18:46:37] <jps> Before the backlog evaporates I want to point out that the "Promotional Use of Website Assets" section of the Policy & Political Affiliations Guideline does specifically allow for follow-on actions similar to (but not necessarily as drastic as) the SOPA blackout. I really want to be able to understand why no such actions have been proposed, or if there is some determination I don't know about which means there never will be any.
[18:47:14] <tommorris> jps: I think there's little political will on the part of the community. Like a lot of people think "yeah, that was probably the right thing to do, but let's not do it again" ;)
[18:47:56] <jps> tommorris: is that explicit, or just default because no proposals have been made?
[18:47:56] <sgardner> Yes to tommorris. I think a lot of people feel that way, and have been saying it. We all, I think, realize that the blackout was a kind of nuclear option that should be used very very rarely.
[18:48:09] <jps> who? where?
[18:48:24] <tommorris> jps: err, no, I base it on neither, I base it on just observing the community, talking to editors on IRC and at meetups and so on.
[18:48:30] <Risker> Sgardner, the education program requires a lot of editorial resources with very little actual result. "Edits not reverted" is not a reasonable metric for success. It just means the editor found a comparatively unwatched article to edit.
[18:49:28] <MissGayle> It also showed up in interesting ways in the limited culture study - there isn't a huge revolutionary streak in the community, as compared to the more sage archetype showing up….reinforces exactly what tommorris said
[18:49:50] <tommorris> yep, sgardner, I think the point Risker is trying to make is that with the Edu Prog. being done internally at the Foundation, the buck stops with the management of the WMF or perhaps the board. but if it is an external organisation and educational program editors fuck up, there isn't really the same chain of command to hold to account.
[18:50:31] <tommorris> currently, if the Foundation don't listen to the community in the running of the Edu Prog, we can come and bitch and moan about it to senior people at the Foundation. but that won't really happen if it's run externally.
[18:50:48] <Jan-bart> short update: Transition team page was started at : thanks Mindspillage
[18:50:52] <jps> Risker: why do you think there has been little result from the education program? seems pretty clearly better than volunteers do on the same number of articles
[18:50:53] <MissGayle> I'm really appreciating hearing this perspective.
[18:51:05] <sgardner> Right, I get it. What you're saying is that if the education program is at the Foundation and it screws up, people know where to go to apply pressure to have the problem fixed. if the education program is outside the Foundation and not accountable to the community (through Board members or whatever) they don't have recourse or a way to apply pressure.
[18:51:14] <sgardner> (Sorry I will shut up about this now and listen to KB.)
[18:51:17] <sgardner> *JB
[18:51:49] <Risker> jps, the "success" metric was that an edit remained in the article for a certain period. There is no qualitative measure of the usefulness of the edit
[18:52:03] <tommorris> Jan-bart: yer "open RfC" is empty. you may wish to remedy that. ;)
[18:52:15] <Jan-bart> yep, working on intro text :)
[18:52:27] <jps> Risker: on the contrary, "metric evaluators used, with assessment areas for comprehensiveness, sourcing, neutrality, readability, formatting, and illustrations, on a 26-point scale"
[18:52:54] <Jan-bart> it got delayed because I simply hadn't made a page on meta yet (ever) so wanted to make sure that it was done in the right place
[18:53:05] <sgardner> I wanted to draw people's attention to a page I'm making here:
[18:53:11] * tommorris has just spilled tequila over himself.
[18:53:26] <sgardner> (Sorry JB, I don't mean to cross-talk you: let me know when you're done this part.)
[18:53:29] <Jan-bart> I really don't have much to add to this discussion, all the information will be added to the meta page
[18:53:33] <Risker> sgardner, you are correct about the accountability issue. Keep in mind that there is the forseeable point where a group gets funding from the WMF, but because of their activities may actually be disrupting projects
[18:53:51] <Jan-bart> and finally one question: is is ok to publish office-hours logs on this page?
[18:54:15] <tommorris> sure
[18:54:59] <sgardner> Risker: yes, thanks. In theory the point of influence would be through the funding process -- meaning, editors could contribute to the discussions there pointing out disruptions. And I guess the backup mechanism would be through the WMF directly -- telling the WMF that there was disruption.
[18:55:00] <Risker> of course to the publishing :)
[18:55:11] <tommorris> Risker: well, then, the answer seems to be simple there - tell the Foundation to stop funding the external organisation unless they start playing by the rules
[18:55:15] <sgardner> So can I draw people's attention to the Guiding Principles page I started?
[18:56:44] <Thehelpfulone> Jan-bart, you might want to publish the log in the usual place and then link/transclude it on the Meta page
[18:56:46] <jps> anyway, back to the advocacy thing. If the blackout was a nuclear option, that should only happen about once a decade or whatever, that doesn't mean weekly psyops actions would be a bad idea. But none have ever been proposed to the community for consensus approval, so that part of the policy dies on the vine?
[18:57:03] <Jan-bart> thanks TheHelpfulone
[18:57:24] <sgardner> I started it because when I joined the Foundation, we had explicit articulated values and a mission statement and a vision statement, but there was no high-level text explaining how we manifested those values in practice, in our day-to-day work. People were able to tell me things like "no ads" or "we're open source" but that was about it. I feel like it's a service to the next ED to have a good articulation of how we actually live our
[18:57:24] <sgardner> values on a day-to-day basis -- still at a high level, but a little more detailed than e.g., this
[18:57:42] <sgardner>
[18:57:57] <Risker> it's a good idea Sue
[18:58:00] <sgardner> So, I started that page so that we have something we can hand to the new ED, so they don't need to figure out everything from scratch.
[18:58:23] <tommorris> jps: I think I prefer Sue's "living our values on a day-to-day basis" to your "psyops" ;)
[18:58:31] <sgardner> Thanks Risker. So I'd appreciate if people have a minute to talk a look and comment there. There's some good conversation happening there already :-)
[18:58:37] <sgardner> *take
[18:59:06] <tommorris> sgardner: I hope that when the new ED is chosen, you sit them down and with reference to this document, explain to them how it works in practice. ;)
[18:59:12] <Jan-bart> just to make sure we haven't left anybody hanging…. any addition questions?
[18:59:16] <jps>
[18:59:36] <sgardner> Yep. I am going to start building a very large manual of information for them. It will take months to build :-)
[19:00:13] <Jan-bart> sgardner: we will call that manual: "The Internet(s)"
[19:00:13] <sgardner> Yes jps. Let's do everything soon and perfectly :-)
[19:00:15] <Risker> thank you everyone for taking time on the Saturday of what is for most of us a holiday weekend
[19:00:26] <Thehelpfulone> sgardner, will you make as much of that manual public as possible? It would probably be useful to others too I think (outside the WMF)
[19:00:56] <sgardner> Thehelpfulone, yes, definitely. Thank you -- that's an obviously good idea and for some reason I hadn't thought of it :-)
[19:01:06] <sgardner> Maybe I will build it on my meta talk page.
[19:01:22] <jps> sgardner: look, I'm all for living good values everyday and helping the infirm across the street, but if you never propose any less-drastic-than-blackout actions, you'll never know if those 12 million pageviews per day went to waste on your watch
[19:02:40] <Jan-bart> yeah, so people can hang around if they want to (I will be available a bit longer,don't know about Sue) but I want to close the "formal" part of the meeting :)
[19:02:52] <Jan-bart> thank you all for showing up
[19:02:53] <tommorris> thanks again sgardner
[19:03:06] <tommorris> and Jan-bart and MissGayle and Thehelpfulone etc.
[19:03:09] <MissGayle> We're all going to be having many sit-downs with the new ED. :)
[19:03:33] <sgardner> Thank you JB and other folks. I need to run -- I am behind on a million things. But thank you for coming, and we'll talk lots again, obviously.
[19:03:56] <Jan-bart> thanks sue
[19:04:10] <sgardner> Thanks everybody. I am leaving my IRC client open, but I am actually gone. Have good weekends :-)
[19:04:21] <sgardner> Bye JB, see you in a few weeks.
[19:04:28] <_sj_> Thanks Sue. Enjoy the weekend! The Guiding Principles page looks like a good start.
[19:04:31] <MissGayle> Take care all! I'll also leave IRC open, but will be puttering around at home.
[19:04:59] <MissGayle> I love the GP page - we're also building out some concepts for our managers to really think through what we hire/fire/promote on, grounded in those guiding priciples.