Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Sprint/Product & Technology/4

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Deployment Council[edit]

There has not been consensus regarding this recommendation but we would like to discuss it with the rest of the WGs

Q 1 What is your Recommendation?[edit]

Make governance of the software used in Wikimedia projects more inclusive, participatory and predictable by setting up a “Deployment Council” for setting the requirements for deploying new functionality to the wikis, in the form of a co-decision-making process between the organization building the feature and the editor community.

Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?[edit]

This recommendation aims at unifying the view of what are required and acceptable features between the product and engineering people in various movement bodies with some of the stakeholders such as content contributors. We hope that establishing a trusted council with a mandate would help the cause of a unified view.

Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?[edit]

Becoming the essential infrastructure of free knowledge will no doubt mean significant changes to the software the wiki communities interact with, and currently deploying major changes is often controversial and stressful, as there is no formal system for editors to set requirements, so they are left to oppose changes they disagree with by informal means; and with no dedicated process, they default to processes used on wikis (like requests for comment) which tend to be poorly suited for the task. While the situation is not completely unmanageable, it does limit the pace of deployment.

To fix this situation, and a new group with a community-given mandate is needed to provide the continuity (product owner organizations need to be secure that basic planning choices won’t be rehashed after millions of donor dollars have already been invested) and high quality of decisions.

Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?[edit]

The late stage of the product development process will become smoother (being based on the consensus of more stakeholders).

Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?[edit]

Movement entities doing major product development work (such as the WMF and WMDE; if the recommendation on Decentralization is followed, significantly more in the future), wiki editor communities who are most affected by new products.

Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?[edit]

Yes, If implemented wrongly, will lead to more frustration from the communities than today, or low-quality decisions.

If a good process isn’t determined the deployment council could potentially slow down deployment by slower decision making. An overly risk-averse council might hold back new features due to small problems within them even though the existing problems they solve might be far bigger.

Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?[edit]

Involve the communities in the change process; ensure participants are well-informed.

Determining a good process for the council will be crucial for mitigating this risk. A focus on creating and acting on policies with a clear mandate will be important for mitigation.

Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?[edit]

It adds a new structure around product decision making.

Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?[edit]

It is complemented by the Open Product Proposal Process recommendation which deals with the other half of the development process.

Good decision making requires constructive and respectful but frank discussions with well-informed participants, thus this recommendation relies on Support Community Decisionmaking and Disseminate Product Knowledge.

Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?[edit]

It answers the scoping question “Which are the structures and processes to assure the required level of inclusion in decision making and planning of the community at large in their full diversity?”

Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?[edit]

It suggests changing movement-wide decision-making processes, which is also in the territory of Roles and Responsibilities.