Recommendation 1: Decentralize
Q 1 What is your Recommendation?
Currently the majority of the decision making and execution of software development is performed by the Wikimedia Foundation. This recommendation is to work towards decentralizing the development of that software. A few different activities are required for this to be possible. First what software is going to be built needs to be determined, next who is going to build the software and then finally how.
Decentralize development and infrastructure, going as far as outsourcing specific projects to non-WMF entities which then become contractors/grantees for the Foundations. We recommend that WMF retains ownership of and focuses on core development, but that other projects are evaluated to determine if better served by being developed by other organizations and groups of community members.
Set-up an ongoing strategic consultation in which long-term goals and visions can be determined in a participatory manner. This process should lead to a public roadmap with project dependencies outlined.
From the roadmap affiliates and volunteers can make proposals to build components of the roadmap. These proposals will be vetted for their technical merit, cohesiveness with the technology architecture through the “Technology Council”.
After delivery of the software projects they will be reviewed to determine the success of the project. This review will be used as input into further decisions regarding this groups award of future proposals.
Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?
In order to provide “knowledge equity’ it is important those building technology enabling that equity are from backgrounds representing the world’s knowledge. By decentralizing technology development it allows greater opportunities for people from varied backgrounds to contribute as well as a broader range of views and use cases to be taken into account.
Currently the movement is mainly supported by the Wikimedia Foundation which is a San Francisco organization. To achieve equity so the members of the movement should be empowered to build their own tools and make their own decisions to the extent possible. Large wiki communities should be co-decision makers in their projects and this should be reflected in the governance structure. Knowledge as a service requires responsiveness to opportunities and local differences and decentralizing is a way to achieve that.
Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?
Expected outcome is broader range of inputs and development base. Competition between proposals and for resources will lead to a more efficient use of the latter, as well as a drive for partners to involve more funders and participants on their side, thereby increasing projects’ growth.
Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?
WMF and external partners.
Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?
If not coordinated well the maintenance costs of maintaining software build by so many different groups could be unsustainable.
Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?
Each proposed project should have a maintenance plan on how the software will be maintained into the future.
Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?
Currently the Wikimedia Foundation develops the majority of the software deployed on Wikimedia Foundation servers. The exception to this is Wikidata which is mostly development by Wikimedia Deutschland. This process would change that so more people would be contributing.
Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?
Q 8 Do you have anything to add that was not covered with previous questions, yet essential for understanding the recommendation?
To execute this process there would have to be multiple steps. Choosing a single product, service or feature group to run as a pilot would make sense. MediaWiki is the core technology used across the Wikimedia Movement and already has interest by a variety of 3rd parties. It could be a good candidate for beginning a distributed decision and software development process. Beginning this could happen through a consultation to create a one year roadmap and determine specific features to be built by parties other than the WMF.