Research:Committee/Reorganization

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This is a summary of the main achievements of RCom during the last fiscal year (2011-2012) and a proposal to make sure it can fulfill its mission in an effective and sustainable way.

  • RCom's main achievements
  • What problems emerged over the last year
    • discontinued regular RCom meetings
      • they have not been effective at coordinating work or reporting progress
      • SR has monopolized the committee's attention
    • project review has become increasingly costly to sustain and suffers from many problems
      • lack of community involvement
      • hard to find sufficient interest from RCom members to participate in the reviews
      • no clear review criteria
      • no clear timeline for the review process for the applicant
      • no clear expectation for the applicant on the outcome of the review
      • most importantly: no policy to back the review process, which means:
        • incentives to freeride and by-pass the review process
        • lack of legitimacy of RCom to accept/reject proposals
        • no guarantee that a project reviewed by RCom will eventually be accepted by the community
    • delayed or archived requests for potential new members to join RCom
      • capacity limit only justified if RCom needs to make decisions or hold meetings of a manageable size
      • missed opportunity of engaging with new people and talent
    • declining participation in WRN
      • we need to find a better model to make WRN sprints more sustainable as it currently relies on a very small team of volunteers with an enormous workload
    • loose integration of research, Wikimedia communities and WMF work
      • despite initiatives such as WRN and outreach efforts, we still haven't found a good way to pitch to external research teams problems/questions emerging from the community or the Foundation in need of answers and, vice versa, we haven't found a good model to make existing research results more easily accessible to the community/Foundation
  • A proposal for RCom 2.0
    • launch an RFC for SR, led by Aaron
    • reorg RCom as a federation of teams, resuming the original idea of teams per area of interest
      • no limit to # of participants per team
      • RCom membership as union of team membership
    • discontinue regular meetings and replace them with 1 or 2 annual meetings (Wikimania/WikiSym)
    • Dario to discontinue his role as RCom coordinator, will remain the contact point for all data requests and research collaborations that directly involve the Foundation
    • rethink WRN
      • identify a more sustainable recruitment/participation model for WRN
      • discuss a new format to complement monthly updates with more topic-driven updates
    • blog with a new proposal on RCom reorg after Wikimania