Talk:Communications/Wikimedia Foundation messaging strategy

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Wikimedia Foundation messaging strategy
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Minassian Media, Inc.[edit]

Minassian Media, Inc. is an S-Corporation based in New York run by Craig Minassian. Minassian is the Chief Communications Officer for the Clinton Foundation who—according to the 2015 C.F. 990 form (p. 43 of 117)— was paid $200K for a 50 hour work week. I think "the Community" should learn more about the arrangement with this public relations firm, because according to the Wikimedia Foundation's [2015 990 form] this firm was paid close to half a million dollars (see page 58/58 or 60/60) for public relations work on behalf of the foundation. GVarnum-WMF, could you provide any further information on this?

I reached this page via a redirect from the specific talk page concerned... Thanks for your help with transparency! 08:30, 18 June 2017 (UTC)

Comments on the 2014–16 communications audit[edit]

See Communications/Wikimedia Foundation messaging strategy/2014-16 audit and the audit pdf. --Andreas JN466 10:11, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Focus on sentiment analyis[edit]

This audit is largely focused on sentiment analysis. It would have been nice to see some attention devoted to the accuracy of media reports, to identify popular misconceptions among members of the media, and possible corrective action the Comms department could take. --Andreas JN466 10:07, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Shunning independent-minded journalists[edit]

Passages like this in the audit report are troubling:

"... the impact of social media should be considered as a core component in our strategy to increase proactive media relations. This would benefit the Foundation in several tangible ways, including allowing us to better control and shape narratives. We recommend pursuing proactive pitching and media strategies that rely on accompanying editorial content (e.g., a blog post highlighting the subject we are pitching). By engaging outlets in a compelling way we are better poised to garner coverage and shape the narrative in a way that benefits our programs and organization. Finally, the Communications team currently provides comment on articles infrequently, generally based on the tier of the outlet (i.e., we prefer upper-tier outlets over lower-tier publications and blogs), and whether a comment would shed positive light on our organization. In the future, it is suggested that we begin to check the sentiment, tone and the author and outlet’s history with Wikipedia. This will help us gauge whether it is worthwhile to offer a comment, should one be requested. For instance, given the articles written by Jason Koebler (Motherboard) recently, offering a comment would most likely do little to advance our messaging strategy."

Koebler (editor-in-chief of Motherboard) is a conscientious and well-informed journalist. He does not deserve to be dismissed in this manner. --Andreas JN466 10:07, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

It seems to me that this is a case of "whatever you say, you won't get it right". Koebler's pieces, while based on facts, seem to have a significant op-ed component, making them very hard to respond to without sounding dismissive or without appearing to use wooden language.--Strainu (talk) 21:09, 6 July 2017 (UTC)
It seems to me that the question may very well be more general, and should be extrapolated away from this single journalist (though the finger-pointing is interesting). If you search through that report, you'll find the word "harassment" mentioned 9 times and the word criticism mentioned 0 times. This is very much in keeping with the tradition on English wikipedia, although I gather meta is a bit more open. The en.wp behavioral guideline WP:LINKLOVE similarly contains the root "harass" 29 (twenty-nine) times and the root "criti[c|q]" exactly once (as a table heading "good faith critique"). Recently I noticed that the gamergate article (the one about the controversy, not the one about the imperious caste of sex ants with power pheromonez/toolz) has similar proportions: 102 "harass" roots and 37 "critic" roots -- of which as few as 3 actually ascribe motives of (generally bad) criticism to those who were "gamergater supporters"). I wasn't around for all that so I have no idea what's justified and what isn't, but there *is* a general pattern that this Minassian Media Communications Audit fits into.
I think you pointed out on Wikipedia Weekly, Andreas, that there was a tendency to just tick whether criticism was positive, negative, or neutral without really looking into what might be learned from the substance of the criticism or positive analysis. Everything seems to hinge around advertising value equivalences, which in itself seems a bit alien to the typical community aversion to advertising (at least on en.wp) SashiRolls (talk) 21:39, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Suggestion of a "breaking news Twitter feed that pushes out neutral content when controversy breaks"[edit]

This does not seem to be a good idea. Wikipedia articles on breaking controversies are unstable and particularly susceptible to the insertion of bias and sensationalism as contributors attracted to the article focus on the most inflammatory sources. Such articles often take time to mature into a neutral account. --Andreas JN466 10:07, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Reliability and accuracy of Wikipedia[edit]

The document recommends leveraging studies with positive findings on Wikipedia's reliability and accuracy, saying, "More proactive stories should be pursued, especially when new data are released to ensure our status as a trustworthy and accurate source of information."

It is my view that the WMF should be guided by public interest, and that it is not in the public interest to encourage blind faith in Wikipedia's accuracy. Wikipedia needs literate readers that are awake to the potential of misinformation inserted in Wikipedia, and know how to distinguish a sound Wikipedia article, or a sound piece of information contained in Wikipedia, from an unsound one.

Highlighting positive reliability studies only, while downplaying actually existing problems, does not serve that aim.

WMF Comms efforts related to reporting on Wikipedia's reliability should take a neutral and scientific approach guided by social responsibility. I believe any other approach is unethical, and ultimately counterproductive.

Recall, too, that Wikipedia contains a good amount of neutral information about its own reliability, including its failings. The public's and the media's response to this is overwhelmingly positive: it is considered endearing, a sign of integrity. It is viewed as increasing the trustworthiness of Wikipedia. Honesty and integrity build trust, none more so than openness about one's own product's limitations. I'd love to see the WMF earn the same kind of trust and goodwill.

Moreover, being open, even proactively open, about failings reduces the scope for hurtful exposés. --Andreas JN466 10:07, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

"Wikimania as (in part) a scientific conference"[edit]

"Encourage people to publish major science about Wikipedia, free knowledge, open movements, etc at our annual conference to get more coverage."

Inviting scientific publications at Wikimania seems like a good idea, provided that critical papers highlighting problems are as welcome as laudatory ones.

Note though that this idea of Wikimania as a scientific conference seems to be controversial with some community members. These concerns should perhaps be explored further. --Andreas JN466 10:07, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Choice of consultant[edit]

The work history of the communications consultants chosen for this audit seems to be squarely focused on maximising popularity, especially in political elections. This does not seem to be a good fit for Wikimedia (ironically, at one point in the document, the authors contrast Wikipedia's values against those that drive electioneering).

I would love to see the next communications audit done by a consultant specialising in academic/educational rather than political communications work. --Andreas JN466 10:07, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Unidentified authorship[edit]

The authorship of the audit document is unclear. Multiple references to "we", "our organization" etc. imply that the document was at least in part authored by WMF staff.

Future audit documents should list the authors and their affiliations to remove ambiguity. --Andreas JN466 10:19, 6 July 2017 (UTC)