Talk:Letter to Wikimedia Foundation: Superprotect and Media Viewer

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Comment by Peteforsyth[edit]

The issues that prompted this letter have sparked a great deal of discussion, on various email lists and various pages of various wikis. But in spite of all the noise, the issues at the core are very simple. This letter is intended to demonstrate that a large number of Wikimedians, and those who care about Wikimedia, share a strong belief that the WMF must take two simple actions, in spite of their varying positions on any number of related issues.

The strength of this belief has already been expressed in many ways. I don't support or oppose any of these, but offer them for context:

  • One of the calmest, most reserved and productive Wikimedians I know, who has been active much longer than me, gave up his administrator privileges and devoted his user page to an essay criticizing the WMF.
  • Another colleague has resigned from his active position writing for the "Tech News" publication, which is produced by the WMF but typically has strong volunteer involvement; he has also successfully recruited some of those who voluntarily translate Tech News into other languages to stop doing so.
  • Others have suggested taking Mondays off from editing and/or performing administrative tasks, and if that doesn't lead to positive results, taking off Tuesdays, and progressively more days.
  • There is active discussion in various forums about what it would take to fork German Wikipedia, or maybe other projects as well.
  • The Deputy Director of the WMF has been blocked from editing German Wikipedia for 30 days.
  • A popular Wikipedian, who I count as a friend and who now works as a WMF Community Liaison, participated in the superprotection, and received a motion of no confidence in a matter of about an hour -- record time, I'm told, for the kind of decision that I believe typically takes weeks.

I think it's possible that we see the Wikimedia movement unraveling right now, but lack the tools to measure or properly perceive or understand that.

So what I want to do is clearly express the simple actions WMF can take that will put a stop to all of this. It's very easy to look at a situation like this and think, "it's really complicated." But in this case, it's not. There are two decisions WMF has made that sparked all the outrage, and they are both easily reversible. I want to express them clearly, and without too much interpretation or context, in a way that less involved Wikimedians and the general public can easily understand, and potentially even sign onto themselves.

This can be part of a growing body of evidence that WMF has erred, and needs to walk back its erroneous actions. The other major piece is an RFC on German Wikipedia that will be final on August 21. The numbers are pretty stark as of today, 16 August:

  1. "The WMF is asked to remove superprotection from all pages on the German language Wikipedia"
    Yes: 480, No 68, Other comment 17.
  2. "The WMF is asked to remove the superprotection right from the Staff group, immediately."
    Yes: 376, No 58, Other comment 24.
  3. "The WMF is invited to, next software update, reverse the software change(s) which introduced the superprotection right."
    Yes: 273, No 82, Other comment 64.
  4. "The WMF is invited to assign new group rights only to rights-holders (ie administrators, bureaucrats, check user, Oversight, stewards) in user groups whose members were chosen by the local ( or possibly international) community."
    Yes: 259, No 58, Other comment 67.

The preceding unsigned comment was added by Peteforsyth (talk • contribs) 2014-08-19T23:14:30.

Numbers[edit]

Note, it only takes 750 signatures of Wikimedia editors to overcome the most successful WMF board member. However, it should be easier for a random person reading the letter to understand what it is about. Superprotect is mentioned a few times but you never say what it is, even briefly. --Nemo 04:42, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

What do you mean "overcome"? Is that the current Tetris record of a WMF Board member..?
You make a good point about defining SP -- I will address that. Thank you for tidying up the translation pages, too. -Pete F (talk) 04:58, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
I mean that the most voted WMF board trustee only received ~750 votes. (Probably the affiliate-selected members a bit more when you consider all the assemblies behind all the boards; but it gets complicated.) We could also try to see how many people supported any of the board members, but the election results are too opaque to extract meaningful information. --Nemo 05:14, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Lets go further[edit]

I think there is a huge majority of the community that wants the WMF to not impose -anything- on the projects. We don't serve the WMF, and we are independent from the WMF unless they want to be liable for content problems. Their immunity requires independence, so we need to stand up and ensure it. Ottava Rima (talk) 21:13, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Canvassing[edit]

I do not appreciate being canvassed to essentially mutiny against the WMF. I would suggest you reevaluate your tactics. LtPowers (talk) 23:52, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

+1 Tony (talk) 00:58, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Noted - thanks for letting me know, and apologies to you both for the inconvenience. -Pete F (talk) 01:03, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Of what ship is Erik the captain, and when did Wikipedia become the navy? 2601:7:1980:BF6:7440:4B16:768B:EE69 07:40, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I disagree with the superprotection of the German Wikipedia JS, but I also disapprove of canvassing. PiRSquared17 (talk) 01:24, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Canvassing only applies to votes, not for those willing to sign on a letter that has no consensus based outcome to influence. Ottava Rima (talk) 01:36, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

oppose[edit]

I oppose WMF superprotect Media Viewer, and oppose conservative behavior from wikipedia community--Shizhao (talk) 01:22, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Disapproval section[edit]

I'm going to be bold and add a section for those who disagree. Feel free to revert me. PiRSquared17 (talk) 01:21, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the effort, but I did revert; I set this up with the intention of establishing that there is strong agreement, without addressing whether and where the disagreement might be. An open letter is a very different thing from an RFC; I'm not looking to capture nuance here. Nuance is very important, but it belongs in places like the relevant RFCs -- or even this talk page, if people like. Here's my edit summary from the reversion:

reverting disagreement -- this isn't an RFC or a discussion, but a place for those who do agree to express that. Talk page may be useful for dissent or nuanced points, though.)

-Pete F (talk) 02:51, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Pete that has a censored type notion to it. Whilst there is a lot of dissent in some quarters, there is also a lot of support in others. The format of this open letter, and removing dissent to it, is creating an echo chamber of sorts. User:PiRSquared17 I would suggest creating an opposing open letter, and both could include links to the other at the top, so that we can see exactly where the majority of people lay their opinions. Russavia (talk) 12:26, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
@Russavia: I personally support this letter (even though I think Media Viewer has some potential). I think it would be better for someone who actually disagrees to write the opposing view. PiRSquared17 (talk) 14:26, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Of course, anybody who wants to create an alternative or an opposing letter (or pretty much anything else in the scope of the project) is free to do so. Whether or not it should be linked from here is a separate question, I'd suggest we address that only if and when a page/letter/etc. that somebody wants to link to is created. -Pete F (talk) 15:21, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with that process. You know that the opposition of that kind of letter are very heterogeneous and disorganize. That this variety can't create a ordered and representative response. So because their are disorganize their will not be allowed to express their point of view. It is not very better then the WMF... But it's too late know. --Nouill (talk) 19:37, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Oppose option[edit]

I signed the petition, but in addition to the support option, please provide an option those who support the WMFs as well as one for neutrals. Its the wiki thing to do, and will show the board where the balance of feeling on this issue is. Otherwise however many signatures we receive , a hundred or a thousand we will be painted as a self interested, self selecting clique that is not truly representative of community feeling.--KTo288 (talk) 06:57, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

This is not a vote, it's an open letter that interested parties might sign. Just create a letter supporting the WMF, and one for neutrals, if that's what you are interested in. odder (talk) 07:55, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
you might want to add the "and i'm out of here" option, so we can gauge who we will lose over this matter. dueling letters seems even more divisive; it partitions the conversation; it suggests unanimity here which does not exist. Slowking4 (talk) 13:38, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
user:odder & user:Peteforsyth, as you will recall, it is very unlikely that an opposing section wont be included eventually, so it may as well be added sooner than later, and I agree with user:Slowking4 that duelling pages isnt helpful.(also ping user:Russavia who mentioned that in a different thread) That was a strategy used by WMF when responding to Community Logo/Reclaim the Logo by creating Community Logo/Request for consultation, which (IMHO) was a crafty muddy-ing of the waters. It also happened with Requests for comment/Remove Founder flag and Requests for comment/Restore Founder flag. I think it is better to keep it all on a single page, and let the ducks fall where they may. John Vandenberg (talk) 13:51, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
There are already multiple venues for voting and nuanced discussion. This letter is not intended to be yet another place to hash everything out. Please express views that this letter doesn't cover -- whether they are supplementary or in opposition -- at another venue, for instance, John, the RFC you started on superprotect: Requests for comment/Superprotect rights -Pete F (talk) 16:12, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
@Odder. I know you want to go further, but that "open" letter must be fair and I don't want to have my signature meaning any extension in scope of the two items listed in the letter. I approve this letter, but NOT what you have spammed to various mailing lists and pages on Wikimedia. But now given you are interested in seeing only approvals, I doubt this "Open Letter" will be heard if it's not fair and people want to sign the letter but include ome reserves. Please don't manipulate signatures !!!! verdy_p (talk) 22:27, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
@odder, in case its not apparent we are on the same side, I made this suggestion because I believe that it strengthens our case, that when given a choice people will chose to endorse this letter rather than disown it. However many signatures we receive in support for this letter in its present form, the WMF could resort to the argument that they have been using that we are as a vocal minority who do not speak for the uncounted millions. By having a disown option it becomes more apparent where the strength of feeling lies.--KTo288 (talk) 14:32, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

"part of the movement"[edit]

Pete, in the bottom section you have written: "Do you consider yourself a supporter of the activities and ideals of Wikimedia, but not a part of the movement?"

I am a supporter of free culture and free knowledge, but I do not consider myself part of "the movement". "The movement" to me has cultish undertones, and I am definitely not a member of the cult of Wikimedia. I have tentatively signed under "Signatures of Wikimedians". Should I remove that signature from there, and sign the change.org petition instead? Russavia (talk) 12:21, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

@Russavia:, whichever one feels right to you is fine. -Pete F (talk) 16:09, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

"Unelected" isn't really right[edit]

I generally agree with the tone of the petition, but the problem with WMF isn't strictly that they're "unelected", since, at least in theory, the Board controls their actions and people elect that. The real issue is that the structure is hierarchical. The more levels of naysayers who stand one atop the other's shoulders all the way down to the ordinary editor, the more interference with content generation and the more it deviates from a crowdsourced model. In other words, if the Board had sat down and resolved that the wikipedias have to implement this, it would have been unpopular but at least there would be a sense that they can only interfere so much. But when you have Board -> ED -> WMF personnel -(via superprotection)-> stewards -> bureaucrats -> admins -> reviewers -> editors, that is three layers of people who, for liability reasons, should not be touching articles at all, who now are wielding the club over any article they want. Wnt (talk) 22:52, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

@Wnt: The letter is correct in saying that Wikimedia Foundation employees are unelected, as opposed to local administrators. Also, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is largely unelected — as volunteers, we only elect 3 trustees out of 10. odder (talk) 22:58, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't remember very clearly, but I thought the others were elected by (for example) national chapters. Which is a flawed mechanism, because (for example) the U.S. despite heavy involvement is largely disenfranchised by arbitrary limitations on how many or where chapters can be formed, but that particular issue is clearly not relevant here. Wnt (talk) 23:05, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Doesn't really matter: 1) it's not a majority; 2) legally it's still an appointment. See how it matters: in 2013, at once, they nominated the first non-community-elected chair and then proceeded to approve resolutions by majority where all non-officer community elected members opposed. The community is very clearly and legally a minority in the WMF decisions. --Nemo 05:09, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Support - but with caveats[edit]

My main concern is that the WMF should restore the status quo ante bellum. This will remove barriers to pressing forward with cultural change and negotiating ways forward. Notably it would be foolish to "entrench" any position, saying for example "we reserve the right to..." or "X is not negotiable" is a sure fire way to scupper talks before they start.

(In particular, most have said they are willing to accept MV when it is user-ready. Insisting that MV is not negotiable is therefore a tactical as well as possibly ethical mistake.)

Rich Farmbrough 01:34 22 August 2014 (GMT).

yes, this typical battleground merely entrenches positions. for example, Visual Editor has improved, but there is no chance of opt out, because the climb down from "the WMF are dolts" is too hard. better to set a consensus standard of quality implementation. this "failure to communicate" interaction is counterproductive. is this wikipedias Battle of the Somme? Slowking4 (talk) 16:53, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Short term attrition is only on the community's side. I am not up-to-date with the German situation. I know some are talking about a "death spiral" - I did mean to start a project to cover this eventuality.. maybe it is in existence somewhere. Rich Farmbrough 22:48 7 September 2014 (GMT).

Results from German superprotect RfC[edit]

A first quick count of the survey about "superprotect" brought these figures:

Pro Contra Abstention Total Pro (%) Contra (%)
1. "immediate release" 664 103 32 799 87% 13%
2. "no superprotect for WMF staff" 509 79 34 622 87% 13%
3. "Disable superprotect tool" 377 108 89 574 78% 22%
4. "New powers only to elected persons" 375 77 86 452 83% 17%

(Numbers & table by User:Wassertraeger[1], translated by me.)

And a very impressive statistic by User:Hubertl[2] (translated by me):

  1. Editcount of pro voters (question 1) in de:Wikipedia: 11,441,000
  2. Editcount of pro voters (q. 1) in all projects: 15,450,000.
  3. Editcount of contra voters (q. 1) in de:Wikipedia: 952,000
  4. Editcount of contra voters (q. 1) in all projects: 1,150,000

But for WMF, we are "Just a few"! Read more @ de:Wikipedia Diskussion:Umfragen/Superschutz#Auswertung & de:Wikipedia:Umfragen/Superschutz#Auswertung --Trofobi (talk) 07:13, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Curious that the opposers are the most de.wiki-specific editors, while the supporters are most crosswiki (1/3 of their edits on other wikis) and presumably more "representative" of other wikis' sentiment. --Nemo 18:48, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Quantifying the best approach[edit]

I find myself somewhat in opposition to this letter. The point I have particular issue with is:

"The Wikimedia Foundation should clearly assert that it will permit local projects (such as German Wikipedia, English Wikipedia, and Wikimedia Commons) to determine the default status of the Media Viewer, for both logged-in and non-logged-in users, uninhibited."

I don't think either party should have subjective rights to decide this either way without evidence of what will work best for all/most users. A proper, quantitative analysis of the issues here should take place, and both parties should follow the outcome of that analysis. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 23:46, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

@Mike Peel:, thank you for the feedback. While it doesn't make sense to change the text now that it has gathered more than 360 signatures, I want to acknowledge the point, and explain my (maybe imperfect) thinking that led me to state it this way.
I think you and I are in agreement on one core point: it's a very bad state of affairs for either party to have and exercise the power to make unilateral decisions on things like this. I think it's important to have a WMF that pushes the envelope, applies expertise, challenges assumptions, and so forth; and some disagreement between the WMF and local communities is inevitable, and I would say even desirable. (Please elaborate if I'm mistaken, and this paragraph doesn't match your views.)
I feel strongly that in this specific case and for the immediate future, the decisions of these local communities should be fully implemented. As it currently stands, the way I see it that means "opt-in" for all parties on English Wikipedia and Commons, and "opt-in" for account holders on German Wikipedia (and no option for IP's to enable).
This is the thing that I believe would get us to a point where we can have a reasonable discussion about bigger-picture issues. The WMF made two decisions (declining to implement consensus decisions on MV, and deploying SP) which were:
  • radical
  • extremely poorly announced (especially in the case of the first MV decision, which was announced as a "recommendation" and, if I hadn't forced the issue, would have been accompanied by a pocket veto)
  • unpopular.
That's not to say that these decisions, or parts of them, or other decisions like them, are wholly without merit. I think it's really important that we have a broad and genuine discussion about how we will handle such things better in the future. I believe that is the same position that Erik and Lila have asserted; I think we have very strong agreement on that point, and I am confident that many of those signing this letter do as well.
Where we differ, though, is that I do not believe it is possible to have a sufficiently authentic discussion about that while the WMF is enforcing its unilateral decision.
And I think it should be rather obvious that it doesn't matter one bit whether that enforcement occurs through technical means (superprotect) or through social coercion (insisting that local communities do not alter the files). -Pete F (talk) 00:20, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Pete F for your thoughtful response. I completely agree with your core point - unilateral decisions like this are bad. I don't think that it should just be the WMF that's pushing envelopes, though - the community should also be doing exactly the same. But more fundamentally, both groups should be doing so based on quantitative information - neither should just be pushing their POVs, as it feels like they are currently doing.
I would agree that, in this case, the WMF has gone too far, and that it does need to stop and listen to the community. However, I think it's started doing so now, as evidenced in Erik's comments on wikimedia-l and Lila's comments here on meta. I think saying that it should follow the community's viewpoints blindly is a step too far, though. A reasoned debate is the best way forward right now, moving towards a better quantitative assessment in the long run.
Please accept my apologies for not articulating my thoughts on this matter better when we last talked (or, indeed, in this reply) - I'm still trying to figure out my exact position here.
Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 00:42, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
On «A proper, quantitative analysis of the issues here should take place, and both parties should follow the outcome of that analysis»: all the community decisions I saw claimed to be doing so. --Nemo 06:49, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
I think a proper analysis should be done, yes. If there hadn't been millions invested in this particular software feature, I'd question whether or not this is the one that should get that kind of investment; but since there has been, I think it does make sense to focus on what a MV should or shouldn't have.
Personally, I have no interest in participating in a discussion like that when unilateral and unreasonable steps have been taken, and not reversed. Others may not feel the same. -Pete F (talk) 18:57, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

WMF is just a necessary evil[edit]

The WMF is just a necessary evil, it's been implemented, so that the real sovereign, the community, has access to better technical and coordination support from professional people. This includes international coordination, maintenance of infrastructure, and as well the programming and implementation of software changes, asked for by the community and/or the professionals.
The final decision of course has to be with the community, not some top-heavy bureaucracy somewhere in San Francisco. The WMF is a servant of the community, like in an ideal world the government is the servant of the people. If the fat cats move too far from the sovereign, querulousness will arise, and that's usually the fault of the fat cats.
The WMF has the duty to involve itself in the community discussions and must never ever be bossy towards the people who really are the WP: it's editors and readers.
The introduction of SP in de:WP was a Putsch against the community by people with technical, but illegitimate, power, comparable with a power-grab by military (servant of the people) against an legitimate government with illegitimate use of their weaponry.
Those complicit in this Putsch should apologize, of course the power-grab has to be reverted, and the WMF should really look for a better communication with it's employers and superiors, that's editors and readers. --Sänger S.G (talk) 10:16, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Media Viewer[edit]

I dont understand why the Media Wiever is bad as stayted in the petition. I dont undertand, how it disallow to contribute to wikipedia.--Juandev (talk) 17:39, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi @Juandev:, thanks for asking. This is one of many problems with MV that have been discussed, but in my view it is the worst problem, in terms of doing what we are here to do -- share, and facilitate the sharing of, free knowledge.
The Media Viewer has no "edit" button, no "upload" button, and no indication whatsoever that the person looking at it might be able to improve what they are looking at. Also, in the WMF's user tests, 0 of 3 users found the "details" button that would take them to the traditional page, which would have those buttons. In spite of several questions that encouraged them to look for a "details" button.
So now, many millions of Wikimedia pages exist that no longer have any suggestion whatsoever that the reader can become more than a reader. -Pete F (talk) 18:09, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
I see, but that is just an image in preview. If the user is watching Wikipedia page, there is still edit button available right?--Juandev (talk) 22:06, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
The edit button is still available for the article, yes. But editing the image itself is different than editing the article or the markup that puts the image on the page, and clicking on the image itself gives no real viable way of editing anything. There are ways of getting past the MediaViewer, but it's far from simple and completely contrary to the point of Wikipedia and its "come edit" approach. - Aoidh (talk) 00:12, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd say the Media Viewer really isn't that terrible. Nonetheless, most readers surveyed and most editors in RfCs on two projects rejected it. If Media Viewer and superprotection are imposed over strong disapproval, what will be next? Wnt (talk) 21:12, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Well that is my point. I would personally not be against Media Viewer, but I dont support WMF practise to surppress local decission. As far as I think WMF is a service organisation to wiki communites not a directorate. So the problem with this petition is, it is closely connected to MV and it looks like a petition against a) surppressing local decitions, b) against MV.--Juandev (talk) 22:06, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
@Juandev:, I tried to word the letter in such a way that it would work for people with varying views. Some people believe that Media Viewer moves Wikimedia in a bad direction; and some think that the software is fine, but still believe that when Wikimedia projects make a decision, it should be respected. I wanted the letter to capture the simple action that unites both kinds of Wikimedians, and leave some of the specifics aside, for other discussion venues. I do not intend this letter to be about the merits of MV in particular, but about the decisions that WMF has made relating to it, in overruling considered decisions of its project communities. Perhaps I could have done a better job; but with 625 signatures (here and on change.org) I think it does capture something that resonates for a great many Wikimedians.
What would you like to see happen next? -Pete F (talk) 18:34, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
I think it's extremely clear that this letter is not against the Media Viewer itself. If it were, I wouldn't have signed it. The comments that resulted in me being pinged to check this out were specifically how I thought the software was great (if still needing improvements), but that the way they went about it was wrong. They flat out told someone not to have a !vote on their project. And that wasn't a one-time thing: they did it about the most recent theme change, too. What I object to is them working outside the consensus process that every Wikimedia project has developed. The sites are all founded on community-governance.
I'm all ears for ways to make this letter about overriding the consensus established on the sites in question, but I think it was perfectly clear as is. I only want to make it better because my past conversations with WMF people seems to indicate that, if there is a remote possibility of misunderstanding, it will happen--to the point that it almost seems to be deliberate. Trlkly (talk) 19:02, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Discussions at portuguese wikipedia[edit]

As requested by Peteforsyth: This subject was initially mentioned at w:pt:Wikipédia:Esplanada/anúncios#Superprotect. This letter was mentioned few days after in the same space (announcement's at village pump) at w:pt:Letter petitioning WMF to reverse recent decisions with a "response" of WMF at w:pt:Process ideas for software development). As far as I know, there's little if any serious discussion about this topic in portuguese wikipedia. I believe most active editors are aware about what is going on and some of them like Jbribeiro1, Biologo32 and Danilo.mac signed this petition already (sorry if I forgot someone). If something changes at pt.wiki, I'll let you know. Personally, if this petition accomplished a significant number of names, it can be formally delivered to WMF. Sorry for bad english. Regards, OTAVIO1981 (talk) 20:15, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

What would an analysis of the signatures tell us?[edit]

Okay, I am fascinated by statistics -- but the people at the WMF are too. Has anyone thought about doing an analysis of the signatures by date started & project affiliated? FWIW, I've poked at that question a little & can say that (1) the majority of people are not from the German Wikipedia -- thus concern is clearly widespread; & (2) the year of the people who signed appear to fall all over the place -- this not a case of "old timers" being upset at things changing. A more systematic analysis would confirm my impressions. (And it would also be useful to compare the number of people who signed this with the number of participants in similar activities, such as participants in RfCs on en.wikipedia.) -- Llywrch (talk) 22:37, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

I did a semi-automatic counting and sumarize it:
year number of editors year number of editors year number of editors
2001 5 2002 3 2003 12
2004 56 2005 94 2006 113
2007 68 2008 52 2009 40
2010 41 2011 31 2012 29
2013 27 2014 7
I agree with (2) and (1) seems very reasonable but it's not easy to count manually since a lot of people indicated more than one project and language. In fact, some people indicated two dates of starting so, data I collected is just to get an overall idea. Regards, OTAVIO1981 (talk) 10:52, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
For me the interesting thing is that it looks like a bell curve with the peak at about 2006. Which roughly correlates with the canard that 2007 was the peak year for new editors, edits etc to Wikipedia and since then participation has been declining. Now does this represent a cross section of the Wikimedia community interested in Wikimedia politics/governance or does it represent a cross section of the active wikimedia community as a whole.

When to close[edit]

I suggest that this be closed either ten or fourteen days after it was started (i.e. August 29 or September 2). Both of those seem like a natural stopping point. (So would one week, but we're already past that.) Thoughts? --Jakob (talk) 02:23, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

  • I think it should remain open as long as new signatures are coming in. Alvesgaspar (talk) 10:51, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • They're certainly still coming in now. --Pi zero (talk) 13:20, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I'd prefer a clear deadline (instead of a maybe never ending story) and a not too far away "delivery" to the Foundation when the whole issue is still actual. Thus I'd give it a third week. The word should be well spread to all projects until then. --Martina Nolte (talk) 16:46, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • People are still reposting, a few days more, 2 weeks is a good time, a clear deadline on September 2 would be nice, 3 weeks makes the link to cold.Mion (talk) 17:39, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Mid September at the earliest. Many are still on holiday, and it takes a while to catch up with this much text produced in the discussions on the crisis.--Aschmidt (talk) 21:41, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Thank you @Jakec, Alvesgaspar, Pi zero, Martina Nolte, Mion, and Aschmidt:. Mion, I want to address your point about the issue getting "too cold" -- I appreciate this point, but since Jimmy Wales has explicitly acknowledged the letter and stated that it has had as much impact as it will, I think it is clear that this is getting noticed by key decision-makers. It seems that a likely outcome is that WMF will disregard the request, no matter how many people sign it. If that is the case, it is worthwhile to pick a date that will have the maximum impact to a broad audience. I would suggest that we close this on September 7, the closing date of the recently-launched WMF effort to redesign the Media Viewer by committee: Community Engagement (Product)/Media Viewer consultation This way, all those paying attention to this issue will have two significant pieces of information to consider at the same time: what the WMF has arrived at, and what the WMF has chosen to ignore. The date also falls within the range of possibilities you have all suggested. Thoughts on that date as our end date?

In addition, we should consider how to go about delivering the letter. I think there are a lot of options -- off the top of my head, we could do one or more of the following:

  • Send by regular mail
  • Post in a prominent place on a Wikimedia wiki
  • Leave it where it is, but place notices/links prominently (e.g., Central Notice, or Main Pages of projects) on Wikimedia projects
  • Send it to the Wikimedia-L email list
  • Request a meeting (public? private?) between one or more representatives chosen by the signators, and one or more WMF leaders
  • Seek press coverage
  • ...

Thoughts on that? -Pete F (talk) 20:14, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

  • I like either option 2 or option 3, but I think we should seek press coverage as well. --Jakob (talk) 20:18, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Jakob's suggestions sound very good to me. --Martina Nolte (talk) 15:28, 30 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I don't much like the idea of forcefully closing a public space like this while people are still entering. If you do, I suggest giving at least 7 days warning to all interested users (including all Wikimedia projects sysops? their permissions are being radically changed). --Nemo 17:42, 30 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I would go for 2 and 3 too, as for don't let it get cold, the numbers have momentum now as we can see on the German RFC response, it was turned off on DE, maybe i missed it, but i don't see that they removed the code and the configuration script from the software[3][4][5], i know that it wasn't requested in this petition, but for going forward and build on this we need to close this and post this part to the community. Mion (talk) 20:12, 30 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Again, I'd like to suggest to keep it open for awhile, as signatures are still coming in, perhaps till the end of the month. Then we should definitely seek press coverage because superprotect is a move to do away with Wikiepdia as a self-governed project as we know it. Everyone should know about these plans and our resistance to it, most notably the donors.--Aschmidt (talk) 14:13, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

I would not close it before there is not a day without any further signature, but latest on the end of the month. It will amke no positive differnce to close earlier since the Foundation anyway won't react fast. And i agree, press coverage is heavily needed since the Foundation openly says that she isn't interested in what the "heavy editors" want and say. So the pressure needs to come from somewhere else. --Julius1990 (talk) 13:47, 6 September 2014 (UTC)


Thank you all for sharing your perspectives on this. I've been following with interest, and have decided on what I think is the best path forward. I think many of the differing views above may be mitigated by separating the concept of delivering the letter from the idea of closing it to new signatures. It is important to deliver it soon, so that it can be formally considered by WMF, which recently closed its own inquiry into some related issues; but there is no reason to close it to new signatures as long as the requests have not been met. So, here is what I plan to do:

  1. In 24 hours (at 21:00 UTC on Tuesday 9 September 2014) I will mark the letter with a horizontal line, indicating what is being delivered to the WMF; and start a section for additional signatures.
  2. I will then deliver it to WMF leaders for their consideration.

As I write this, we have 810 signatures here on Meta, and an additional 80 signatures on the change.org version. These numbers far exceed my hopes and expectations when I initially published the letter. As far as I know, more Wikimedians have spoken in unison on this issue than on any issue in the past; I do not know of any issue in which more than 810 Wikimedians have voted together. (Please let me know if you are aware of such an instance, though.)

Still, there are some appealing thresholds within reach. Having more than 100 signatures on change.org would be a nice accomplishment, as would more than 900 signatures total. I would urge you to use the remaining 24 hours to ask a few friends to sign the letter. -Pete F (talk) 21:11, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Request #1 of 2 has now been met[edit]

Please note, the first of the two requests has now (as of signature #607 on our list) been addressed: Special:Diff/9665238

The Wikimedia Foundation should remove the "superprotect" status recently enacted on the German Wikipedia's "MediaWiki:Common.js" JavaScript page

The second request, though, has not been addressed in a satisfactory way:

The Wikimedia Foundation should clearly assert that it will permit local projects (such as German Wikipedia, English Wikipedia, and Wikimedia Commons) to determine the default status of the Media Viewer, for both logged-in and non-logged-in users, uninhibited.

I should note, there has been a bit of confusion lately about bullet #2. Since it doesn't make sense to alter the text of the letter now that it has gathered signatures, I'd like to clarify something here: It was not my intent that this letter should make a statement about long-term decision-making processes. The letter was intended to make a very specific request, about this particular deployment. It may very well be that one or more language communities and the WMF find ways to amicably and productively make decisions mutually, or to explicitly grant WMF the right to implement its judgment, or to implement its judgment as long as it has engaged in A, B, and C activities in good faith ahead of time...there are many possibilities.

In this letter, what I intended was that WMF merely relinquish any claim that their own judgment is paramount in this particular matter, at this particular time. And that, they have clearly not yet done:

...we are investing our trust and goodwill in every community member that you will work together with us before making changes to site-wide JavaScript.

Signatures continue to come in, though the pace has ebbed in the last 24 hours. Regardless of how the signatories mean bullet #2 (that is, even if some assume it has a long-term policy implication, though that was not my intent as the letter's author) -- its requests have not yet been met. The preceding unsigned comment was added by Peteforsyth (talk • contribs) .

I feel, that the implicit policy of the WMF is the cause of the drama. As long as the foundation insists to be the driver rather than the facilitator of the project, there will be similar clashes ahead. Unfortunately, there is no way to restart at zero. People who got alienated will remember the incidents and will be more easily more annoyed next time. The MediaViewer hardly touches the core of the wikipedia experience. IMHO, it was the combined experience of the VisualEditor and the images that made editors touchy. The MediaViewer conflict is not an isolated event. A long term solution has to involve the long term causes.---<(kmk)>- (talk) 01:26, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
From the evidence I've seen (both statements and actions), the only problem the WMF preceives is editors who don't know their place (as disposable units to serve the WMF). I'd really like to believe something more optimistic, but I'm still waiting for evidence to support such. All I've seen is attempts to distract the communities with dialog about process based on the premise that whatever the WMF says goes unless the WMF later changes its mind. --Pi zero (talk) 02:25, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
I think #2 was also meant as a compensation of the fact that #1 doesn't ask for superprotect right to be removed altogether. The permission stands on all projects, together with a warning to de.wiki not to disable MediaViewer; so, even for the specific de.wiki case, there is no concrete progress yet. --Nemo 05:33, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
That's right, @Nemo bis:. It doesn't accomplish anything for the actual restriction to be lifted, if there is a sense that it might be reimplemented (or other measures taken, such as removal of admin rights) if this "request" is not honored. The last time the WMF made a "recommendation" it turned out to be a firm decision. @Eloquence: acknowledged the problematic lack of clarity in that case, but here it is again. Is this request a demand, just with nicer wording? -Pete F (talk) 20:16, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
  • There's a certain irony in that both SuperProtect, and the Media Viewer, are tools you'd really want in a commercial situation — such as managing a wiki farm. Opt-in, versus opt-out pretty-much should be down to 'per-community' decision-making level, and different communities will have different media use-cases. Developers won't see any argument from me on the need to vet changes to sitewide scripting on a security basis; nor on the basis of reducing maintenance overhead through less complexity. I don't see superprotect flags in database tables going away anytime soon, and on that basis I've signed the letter with more of an understanding that there's a widespread need to be reassured that "MediaWiki build A.B.C, deployed on Foundation Wiki X, has Superprotect Effective set to false".
My key concern with Media Viewer — display of video content inline — was addressed; I expect the issues around highlighting image editing/upload/access for reuse will be addressed over time, much as there seemed to be a less-confrontational resolution leading to Vector going WMF-wide; as I say, I can see the commercial uses for both of these features. I've not looked at the draft RFC, but hope it pretty-much boils down to 'user acceptance' of local configuration; you can be sure the people who curate the content are going to voice concerns when they fear ongoing opportunities to attract more curators are being lost. Given the current proliferation of the annual Wiki Loves Monuments banners, I'll leave looking at stats on media file contribution to someone else, and hope a little more openness on development goals might help here. Oh, and with the current links from the UK WLM site, I'm dropped on a signup page if I 'play dumb' and choose to "click here to sign up" guessing many people will not immediately grasp than an account on any other WMF wiki automatically means one on Commons. Maybe some as-speedy-as-SuperProtect hacking around there could restore faith in the WMF addressing technical hurdles to diversifying the content contributor base. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:06, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

Notifying likely interested parties[edit]

Are you aware of this letter, and are you interested in signing it? Pinging people who voted in the German RFC in ways that are consistent with the goals of this letter. -Pete F (talk) 20:03, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Considering WMF first used GMD for their own brainstorming and is now using CentralNotice to promote yet another talk page, perhaps this letter should be advertised with CentralNotice as well? --Nemo 05:39, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
Worth considering. I'd like to see specific steps spelled out here: http://etherpad.wikimedia.org/CNforSPletter -Pete F (talk) 19:48, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Jimmy Wales discusses these issues[edit]

Quick update -- Wikimedia Foundation trustee and founder @Jimbo Wales: has taken up this issue on his English Wikipedia talk page: w:en:User talk:Jimbo Wales#Some thoughts about MediaViewer.2C my Statement of Principles.2C and the community.27s relationship with the foundation

-Pete F (talk) 22:54, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Statistics[edit]

I have made a rough calucaltion of where sigantures are coming from and also a precentage of active users/project where I use number of editors who made more then 100 edits in June. The total was 715 and I boldmark the one with over 10%

Language (A) # signators as of 31 Aug (B) # Users > 100 edits in June '14 Ratio (A/B)
German 250 849 0.30
English 143 2994 0.05
Italian 60 345 0.17
Commons 36 1341 0.026
French 29 687 0.04
Dutch 21 201 0.10
Chinese 20 274 0.07
Polish 19 210 0.09
Czech 12 79 0.15
Spanish 12 453 0.03
Malay 9 7 1.29
Hebrew 8 113 0.07
Ukrainian 6 0.04
Greek 5 46 0.11
Russian 5 520 0.01
Korean 4 0.04
Farsi 4 0.06
Portuguese 4 144 0.03
Swedish 4 106 0.04
Estonian 3 24 0.13
Indonesian 3 0.04
Lithuanian 3 12 0.25
Japanese 2 341 0.006

and 24 more version with one or two names.--Anders Wennersten (talk) 16:01, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

Here's an entirely different statistic I was curious about — the number of signatures accumulated per day. I derived this by hand, so, judge chance of error accordingly (but it's relatively easy to check against the page history).
date total increase
August 20 44 43
August 21 229 185
August 22 369 140
August 23 448 79
August 24 502 54
August 25 547 45
August 26 574 27
August 27 612 38
August 28 658 46
August 29 682 24
August 30 705 23
August 31 724 19
September 1 730 6
September 2 744 14
September 3 764 20
September 4 786 22
September 5 795 9
September 6 800 5
September 7 807 7
September 8 812 5
September 9 817 5
post-delivery
September 10 817+6 6
September 11 817+7 1
September 12 817+30 23
September 13 817+36 6
September 14 817+44 8
September 15 817+55 11
September 16 817+63 8
September 17 817+65 2
September 18 817+67 2
September 19 817+71 4
September 20 817+77 6
September 21 817+79 2
September 22 817+79 0
September 23 817+81 2
September 24 817+83 2
September 25 817+83 0
September 26 817+85 2
September 27 817+88 3
September 28 817+91 3
September 29 817+93 2
September 30 911 1
October 1 911 0
October 2 912 1
October 3 912 0
October 4 914 2
October 5 914 0
October 6 917 3
October 7 919 2
October 8 919 0
October 9 919 0
October 10 919 0
October 11 921 2
October 12 922 1
October 13 922 0(?)
October 14 922 0
October 15 923 1
Following the initial surge, things have been gradually slowing, except for an up-swing following the joint statement by Lila and Erik on the 27th. --Pi zero (talk) 00:04, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
+ I have added the numbers for September 1 & 2. Alvesgaspar (talk) 12:18, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
Anders, Malay is marked as 129%. Does anyone know the extent to which there was canvassing on the projects listed above? I was certainly canvassed on Meta. Tony (talk) 03:26, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
Tony1, you're noting, with some concern, that two people (or perhaps, horrors, as many as nine) with more than 100 edits/month to their home wiki (Malay) signed the letter. Is that right? If so, I'm not sure what could be said to ease your mind. On the other hand, maybe you're requesting a factual overview of who was notified, by what means, at what time. If so, I'm happy to comment on that. Start a new section, perhaps? -Pete F (talk) 03:53, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
Small communities work very differntly from bigger ones. I know eswp have a core of 8-10 persons from the same university who both are the majority of 100+editors and chepter board members, so there it is significantly low with just 3 signing, as you would expecct most to go the same way. As for canvassing I fully agree on you concern here. On svwp we call the messages from WMF on our village pump Spam, and try to compresse them if not delete, and of course this message was called canvassing and did not survive more then 24 minutes before being deleted. There are a genuine negative sentiment on dewp acting on this issue, not opposing their critisism as such. I likened their way with the Swedish word "yla" meaing what happens when the wolfes howl in the deep woods to get attention from fellow wolfes. You feel frightened (your blood freezes) and it is hard to not join in the howling, at the same time att it is dimishing the indivual to agggresive flockbehaviourism. --Anders Wennersten (talk) 13:36, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Also noticeable that there's not at all users from Finland on the list even though the Finnish Wikipedia is atm the 20th biggest Wikipedia with over 1,500 active users. --Stryn (talk) 20:15, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, remarkable, but easy to explain: there is only a couple active Finnish translators and they all happen not to like this sort of things. --Nemo 20:47, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

I’m sorry, but 129 % for Malay isn’t possible at all, so the statistics are false. How many active users with more than 100 edits/month are there at Malay wiki and how many of them signed? If there were 9 such active users and all of them signed, then this would be 100 %. 129 % means, that 9 such active users signed, while there are less then 9 such active users. That’s not possible. Why does nobody correct this wrong statistic? As long as there are such impossible percent numbers, I can’t trust this whole statistic. Perhaps, there are more mistakes in it. That said, this wrong statistic is useless for everything. --Winternacht (talk) 20:55, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

129 % means that 9 of 7 users with more than 100 edits/month shall have signed the petition according to that false statistic. But if there would be 9 active users which have more than 100 edits/month, then there can’t be just 7 active users at the same time. Either the number of active users is 7 or 9, but can’t be 7 and 9 at the same time. --Winternacht (talk) 21:02, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Winternacht I think you're making it too complicated -- I am pretty sure all the number means is this:
  • There are 7 people who made more than 100 edits to Malay Wikipedia in the last month
  • There are 9 people (now 10, actually) who signed the letter indicating that Malay Wikipedia is their home wiki. So, at least 3 of them didn't have 100 edits last month.
I don't see anything unusual about that. Sure, the number looks a little strange, but I think the underlying facts are pretty straightforward. -Pete F (talk) 21:26, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
If there aren’t 7 or 9 people with more than 100 edits there, then the 129 % is wrong. And then the percentages should all be removed, because they say nothing at all and are just misleading. What shall anyone do with percentages which all are wrong? Perhaps, we should strike out all those wrong percentages. And it is unusual to post wrong percentages which try to say something, but just are misleading. Noone can do anything with any false statistic, that’s for sure. Perhaps none of those 9 or 10 users made more than 100 edits/month. Then it would be 0 %, who knows? When it says nothing, it shouldn’t look as if it should say something. Why are percentages bold, when those percentages all say nothing? And what is complicated with a misleading statistic? --Winternacht (talk) 21:36, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
What could be done instead, is this: To remove all those false percentages and to post the plain numbers of people who signed the letter and the plain numbers of active users on each wiki. And to write above, what those numbers mean. Then noone could misinterpret those numbers anymore. It has nothing to do with percentages, what you try to say. If you or someone else wants to post the percentages of active users who signed, then you have to look at each user, if they have done more than 100 edits or not. But if that has not be done, then there can’t be posted any (misleading) percentage here. Cause not all signing users had automatically more than 100 edits/month, that should be clear. --Winternacht (talk) 21:45, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
I have to confess, I just don't understand why you think it's wrong. It seems totally normal to me. If I told you an organization spent 129% of its 2013 income in 2013, would you say that statistic is wrong? Would I have to say it spent 100% of its income, and then spent 29% of that amount coming from another pool of money, in order for my statement not to be wrong?
Your expectation of how statistics should be presented is unfamiliar to me. Perhaps there are different ways of expressing these things in different cultures/languages? To me, this seems perfectly normal.
I do think a table that includes the actual numbers/raw data would be useful, but I think it's also useful to see them expressed as percentages. Maybe a table that contains all that information would address both of our expectations better than the current presentation. -Pete F (talk) 21:47, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
No, that’s not a fitting example. An organization is able to spend more money than it gets in a year. There could be money of the year 2012 which it spent in 2013, or perhaps it gets a credit for this money it doesn’t have at the time. But this here is totally different. I can’t understand at all, that it shall be normal to post a misleading statistic, and anyone shall do anything with it. I just can’t trust a misleading statistic, when it's obvious at first sight that it has to be wrong. And as I see now, it’s not only this one percentage, but all are wrong. So, it isn’t just a copyedit, as I thought at first sight. I thought, that perhaps someone wanted to post 29 % and the 1 before that would be a mistake. But obviously, every percentage number is wrong, because it doesn’t say anything about the percentages of users who really are active on the wikis. It would really be better to change that into a table with numbers and data, then it would be useful; now it isn’t at all. I’m very astonished that this shall be a normal way for making a statistic. And I’m even more astonished that there doesn’t seem to be anyone else who also is astonished about this. I just can’t believe this. --Winternacht (talk) 21:58, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
Winternacht what do you think of a format like this one? I don't have time to go through the whole table right now, but I could come back to it in ~5 hours if you think it worthwhile. (Or I'd be happy for anybody else to do it.) -Pete F (talk) 22:12, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
Language (A) # signators as of 31 Aug (B) # Users > 100 edits in June '13 Ratio (A/B)
German 250 849 0.30
English 143 2994 0.05
...
Wouldn’t it be better to leave that ratio out? I think it’s meaningless. It seemed to be that someone looked at the activity of each signing user. But this seems unlikely now. What shall this ratio say then? Everyone can look at the plain numbers of signing users in such a table and at the number of active users in those wikis and see, what it can mean. But because there aren’t just active users signing, there are also a lot of users with less than 100 edits in June 2013(?, do you mean 2014?), I think a ratio of those two numbers is a bit misleading. By the way, where are those numbers of June 2013 from? Must be a link to statistics of the last dump, I suppose.
It would be interesting, what percentage of signing users were this kind of active or inactive (in June), but I think noone will make such a statistic. Too much work. :) But then it’s better not to insinuate (is this the right word?) something which isn’t meant, but instead just post the plain numbers. They seem to be there already, on some page. --Winternacht (talk) 22:28, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

I see, critics about misleading statistics aren’t wanted here. You can also remove the misleading statistic then, if you don’t like the critic about it. Or do you want to mislead other readers with that? This is so strange here, I’m wondering even more. --Winternacht (talk) 10:36, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Please, Nemo bis, this is about understanding, what this statistic means, because it is misleading by itself. You can’t cut off the whole context. --Winternacht (talk) 10:45, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

It might be interesting to have a combined global edit count. Rich Farmbrough 15:52 8 September 2014 (GMT).

I have made an updated verion

Language (A) # signators as of 9 Sept (B) # Users > 100 edits in June '14 Ratio (A/B)
total 812 9328 0.09
German 272 849 0.32
English 162 2994 0.05
Italian 61 345 0.18
Russian 37 520 0.07
Commons 37 1341 0.03
French 29 687 0.04
Dutch 23 201 0.11
Chinese 21 274 0.08
Polish 17 210 0.08
Czech 12 79 0.15
Spanish 14 453 0.03
Malay 10 11 0.91
Hebrew 8 113 0.07
Ukrainian 6 141 0.04
Greek 5 48 0.10
Arabic 4 97 0.04
Korean 4 89 0.04
Farsi 4 62 0.06
Portuguese 4 144 0.03
Swedish 4 106 0.04
Lithuanian 4 12 0.33
Estonian 3 24 0.13
Macedonian 3 7 0.43
Bangla 2 17 0.12
Japanese 2 341 0.01
Esperanto 2 25 0.08
Norwegian (bokmål) 2 58 0.03
Turkish 2 54 0.04

+15 verions with one. (there are also a dozen or so not included as not stating version)Anders Wennersten (talk) 10:14, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, it’s better to understand than the first version, even though the ratio doesn’t make much sense in my opinion.
  • User:Impériale and User:MBq both link to the German WP (MBq also being bureaucrat there), also User:Gruß Tom (links to de.WP) and User:Hubertl are much active and well-known there, and User:Wdwd is sysop and active there (so + 5 users from de.WP).
  • User:Koavf has made > 1.3 million edits on the English WP and > 10,000 edits on Commons. Also User:Jayabharat has his home wiki at en.WP.
  • And User:Amgine has made > 14,000 edits on en.Wikinews.
  • User:Glaisher says on his Meta user page that he’s sysop on Meta (and global sysop) and on Simple English WP and on MediaWiki wiki.
  • User:Lenka64 links to the cs.WP, and User:Trần Nguyễn Minh Huy to the vi.WP.
  • The user page of User:Az1568 says, he is sysop on en.Wikibooks and has been former sysop and bureaucrat on Meta and has also a lot been on Foundation wiki.
  • User:PiRSquared17 is sysop on Meta and global sysop. So 8 more users.
These are the ones without stating anything or with "Wikimedia supporter" or something like that instead, so I’ve found 13 altogether. --Winternacht (talk) 01:42, 10 September 2014 (UTC) 

Anders Wennersten do you have a list of the 15 languages with one signature? It would be helpful to me to have a complete list, and if you've already compiled it, I don't want to duplicate your effort! -Pete F (talk) 20:47, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

not perfect: Alemannic, Amharic, Azerbaijani, Bosnian, Catalan, Central Kurd, Croatia, Danish, Gujarati, Indonesian, Malagasy, Marathi, Occitan, Romanian, Simple English, Slovak, Tamil, Thai, Vietnamese(2). Anders Wennersten (talk) 06:56, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Signatories by year of first edit

Here's a chart reflecting when signatories first got involved with Wikimedia. -Pete F (talk) 17:40, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

That’s an interesting statistic. Do you also know the median? Could be around 2007, I don’t think that it’s 2006. --Winternacht (talk) 22:10, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
As I’m seeing, the number of signators per year are in the summary of the file. So, there are 374 signators with first edit from 2001 to 2006, 344 with first edit from 2008 to 2014 and 95 in 2007. Then the median is 2007 with little weight towards 2006. --Winternacht (talk) 22:53, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Not me[edit]

I want to dissociate myself from this pathetic letter. People with visions should consult their medic. [6] Weissbier (talk) 11:36, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Russian discussion?[edit]

I notice that the latest additions have mostly been from Russian Wikimedians. I'm curious, is there a relevant discussion underway? Maybe one of the recent signators could let us know? :Ryanag kf8 Фил Вечеровский Sigwald Saint Johann ? -Pete F (talk) 13:36, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

A link to the petition has been posted to the local News Forum: link. There is no particular discussion there, as you can see. Kf8 (talk) 14:02, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
Thanks -- very good to know! -Pete F (talk) 03:12, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Translating the template[edit]

The template contains signing instructions, so, IMHO, it should be translated too. Excuse me, how do I mark it for translation? I've tried but failed, so I've reverted myself. --Синкретик (talk) 09:32, 5 September 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for asking. It's done now: I've just moved the instructions to the main page. I was forced to break the previous links to edit the section directly though, I hope there are not too many around. --Nemo 10:00, 5 September 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. Could you do the same with the "Background" and the "Signatures of other interested parties" sections? --Синкретик (talk) 15:00, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

What now?[edit]

So, this letter listed 2 requests. #1 has already been met. Some of the people who signed this don't even agree with #2, and it makes no sense for the WMF itself to agree to it anyways. There was absolutely no positive action associated with this letter from day 1, and there were no consequences named if your demands weren't met. And now you've officially delivered it to the WMF?

You might have a lot of signees, but that's not too hard when signing puts absolutely no skin in the game. Why waste the WMF's time with toothless petitions like this? Get bold, take real action, and be the change you want to happen. Give me something real to sign! -wʃʃʍ- 08:24, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

  • Speak for yourself. I don't see your signature on this petition. I signed the change.org petition because I agreed with both #1 and #2. If I didn't agree with both, I wouldn't have signed it. As for taking real action, what would you suggest? That we petition administrators on the appropriate projects to yet again change site javascript to implement consensus, bringing superprotect down on us again? There definitely need to be some changes in the WMF because they've taken power that doesn't rightfully belong to them, but given that board elections are so far away, I don't know how we could effect the change that's needed in a reasonable time frame. If there is anything real we can do to disable Media Viewer in accordance with the RfCs, I'm more than willing to pour time and energy into it. And I'm not even an editor. --98.207.91.246 15:06, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Wllm Is there any basis for your odd claim that some of those signing the letter didn't mean it? Citation needed. (A few people -- 3, I think -- removed their signatures after signing, and were not included in the total sent to WMF. Apart from that, I'm not aware of anybody signing who does not agree with the letter -- and I find it hard to imagine why anybody would do so.) -Pete F (talk) 17:39, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
I said that there are some signees who don't agree with #2. You'll find discussion about that on my blog. And Pete, please tell me which version of the letter are you finding it hard to imagine anybody signing and disagreeing with? This one, or the complete misrepresentation that you made on the community consultation page, indicating post facto that there was some positive path forward outlined in this dead-end document?
This thing was ill-conceived from the get-go because there are no consequences built in. The WMF has done what's appropriate without kowtowing to toothless petition politics. Now what? Everyone who signed this joins you in looking rather silly and impotent. That's precisely why I didn't sign it myself. Like I said, give me something that actually pushes positive change with or without the WMF taking the lead- which, to their credit, they have done- and I will be more than happy to sign it. That's putting up. I'm sure you're aware of the standard alternative. -wʃʃʍ- 20:28, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
If you want "something real to sign", go make it. Whining about the others' initiatives is distasteful. --Nemo 20:53, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Nemo, I think by now the community is aware that when I believe that a cause is worth taking up, I don't hesitate to take it up and I'm prepared to take whatever comes my way consequences-wise. There is no cause here after the WMF's most recent actions; there is nothing real to sign until a better path forward is presented than the one the WMF has proposed. I don't see one; the WMF has reacted with clear vision and made a commendable good faith effort to work with the community. I find that whining about something that is a non-issue- and especially artificially promoting it as an issue after the WMF has listened to community sentiment, specifically addressed the problem with 'superprotect' that is outlined in this played-out petition, and very clearly wants to move forward together down a constructive path- distasteful. That may well be the fundamental difference in our personal tastes, tho; I know when it's time to move on. -wʃʃʍ- 03:50, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm confident that 1 of the 4 commenters on your blog agrees substantially with the letter, and I know you didn't sign. So, that leaves as many as 2 people who may have signed, and who you suggest disagree with half of what the letter requests.
If 1 or 2 of the 900+ signatures might be considered suspect, that's not something I'm going to worry about. (Though I'd encourage those 1 or 2 people to remove their names, if in fact they disagree with request #2.) -Pete F (talk) 20:58, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Pete, if you'd like to stay productive, I suggest you consider the issue from the WMF's perspective. Cheers on focussing everyone's attention on request #1. But the WMF would be insane to agree to 'uninhibited' external decision making on any piece of software they are charged with supporting as is requested in #2. I'm glad to see them sticking to their guns on this point. And, because there are absolutely no consequences built in to this weak-sauce letter, you haven't given them a good reason to respond to this point. This letter has played out. Time to move on. -wʃʃʍ- 04:02, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Update, 14 September[edit]

All:

Last week, I emailed this letter and its signatures to Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director LilaTretikov (WMF), Deputy Director Erik Moeller (WMF), and all members of the Board of Trustees.

In the meantime, dozens of additional Wikimedians have signed the letter. (See the #Statistics section above for a breakdown of who signed when.)

And today, the English Wikipedia's Signpost published my op-ed piece: w:en:Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2014-09-10/Op-ed

I talked about why I consider this letter, and the large (unprecedented?) number of signatures significant. I urge everybody who signed the letter to read this op-ed. I'd be interested in your comments, either here or on the Signpost's talk page. -Pete F (talk) 22:06, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

What's the point? The WMF has already taken decisive, constructive action on the issues this letter brings up. -wʃʃʍ- 04:05, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Decisive, constructive action??? Some cosmetics and distractions, like removing the per se irregular superputsch protection from commons.js, but with the more than clear hint that any try to implement the MB will be met by the next move of pure might against the community. Such rights must be reserved for elected people like stewards or real emergencies. This was by far no emergency. --♫ Sänger - Talk - superputsch must go 04:25, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
As soon as the elected people like stewards are supporting the software, they should have the final say over something as critical to the software stack as common.js. Of course, that would be a horrible idea. The 5th largest website in the world run by elected volunteers? Are we going to issue them pagers so they can jump up to support software in the middle of the night to support software they have devoted their full working days getting familiar with?
This is no job for amateurs, volunteers, or elected community members who get swapped out regularly. When the WMF decides to hand the keys to the servers off to a loosely organized, often distracted group of volunteers who regularly engage internal power conflicts to decide who can do what, the volunteers can have the final say over the software. Luckily for our community and our readers, the WMF seems to have no intention of going down that road.
Also, I've seen this 'superputsch' term come up a few times. I know that a 'Putsch' can be a general term, but is this a reference to what English speakers call the Beer Hall Putsch? I ask this in all sincerity; I simply don't know and am curious. -wʃʃʍ- 17:09, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
<quetsch>A putsch is the take-over of power by those with de-facto instruments to do so but without legitimation to use them, like generals in demokracies, or here WMF-staffers in a community. Like de:Pinochet had the means to overthrow the democratic leader with the military might he commanded as a general and used it against the legitimate president in Chile in the 70ies, so did Erik do with his implementation and immediate use of the new superprotect right against the German community in WP. He had no legitimation to do so, but he had the de-facto power and used it ruthlessly. I'm well aware that such comparisions, especially with something as bloody as a real military putsch usually is in RL, is a bit strong, but it was imho well OK to do so after the puschists did until now obviously still have the impression to have done something right, while it wasn't even remotely. --♫ Sänger - Talk - superputsch must go 10:55, 16 September 2014 (UTC)
This letter doesn't assert that volunteers should have final say over the software; if you want to discuss that, I suggest you find a different venue than this talk page. -Pete F (talk) 17:14, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Similar incidents are rapidly depleting Wikipedia's credibility[edit]

I am seeing an overall shift on en.wikipedia toward an attitude that those with tools can use them however they want to impose their power. In this case, the nominal removal of "superprotection" in favor of the previous threats on one particular page has no real effect, while the power remains ready to be used at any time in the future. But in the past few weeks I've seen two other cases where power from above is being used to settle everything:

2-3 weeks ago, they took what had been an unheard-of step of completely deleting via "suppression", with no edit history viewable even to admins, the AfD discussion (let alone the article) for w:David Cawthorne Haines, with the Oversight Committee making other widespread deletions of material naming the man, at a time when only the British press were withholding his name, and even his wife was giving public-interest interviews. Before, even the much-trumpeted deletions of information about the kidnapping of w:David S. Rohde in 2009, which was not in the news except in one Pakistani source and some wordpress pages, did not involve that kind of suppression; the contested edits are visible in the history to this day.

Now you could say people went temporarily batty imagining life-and-death arguments (though I do not believe the justifications given), except something very similar has gone on with w:Zoe Quinn, which has been subjected to coordinated use of Pending Changes level 2 -- something which the community never accepted the use of to begin with, as still reflected in w:WP:Pending Changes -- and frequent revision deletions to remove allegations that were made by the sources named. As with Haines, the objective of Wikipedia is not even to keep things little-known, let alone secret, but simply to spin the thrust of what is out there in the press to match what some people say is nice. Now that is what has been diminishing Wikipedia's readership ever since w:WP:BLP was decreed as an uberpolicy in 2007, but now there is no tool too extreme to use for this goal. The right of editors to at least see what is under discussion no longer seems to matter.

I think we are rapidly approaching the point where we should see Wikipedia as a suggestion box, or writing an old-fashioned Letter to the Editor. If what you have to say is appealing to the Company, maybe they will use it, in full or in part. If not, you have no right to an explanation. You have no right to set the rules. You have no right to know what the rules are, except in the sense of observing what happens by experiment as people sometimes do in China. "Consensus" is defined as an edict from above. Now of course, Wikipedia is still different from a regular company in that it is non-profit, which of course doesn't mean that people don't get paid or don't make deals or don't have a way to pull in extra funding if they do the right things for the right people, nor that the enterprise needs to actually accomplish much if anything of a noble purpose, only that they don't have to pay someone a dividend.

And to be clear, that's a disaster. Wikipedia was a noble enterprise, and if it loses its honesty and credibility, even at the level of editor bickering over how articles will be skewed, what is left is only a husk. It might limp on a few more years until people wise up about it, but with cases like this its reputation is bleeding out right this minute. At this point what I expect is not really a reform but the imposition of Flow to try to come up with clever ways to conceal dissent. Unless there is an outright miracle, a veritable tent revival of the belief that Wikipedia was meant to spread knowledge rather than cover up and skew even what is well known, the site is fast approaching the final phase where the only productive action possible is to think of ways to try to copy and rebuild the content elsewhere. Wnt (talk) 23:17, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Appeal to the "readers"?[edit]

Looks like it is safe to say that the letter as the letter to WMF hasn't achieved much (not that I have expected more). Are there any plans to give it more publicity? To encourage the "readers" (the ones in whose name WMF claims to do everything) to read it and form an opinion..? Let's say, with a link above articles? That is likely to be a really visible place: after all, WMF always tries to put the messages that they really want to be read (that is, the ones about donations) there... --Martynas Patasius (talk) 19:37, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

The reader doesn't exist. However, there was a similar proposal whose discussion you can join. --Nemo 12:00, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
"The reader doesn't exist" - yes, that's why I added the "scare quotes".
And concerning that proposal, it seems to be about appeal to the readers before the signatures were gathered. Furthermore, the notice is just one possibility. I guess something could be done by informing some journalists... And there might be even more possibilities to, um, counter the claims to donators that donations to WMF help to maintain "sum of all knowledge" (as much of it ends up dedicated to some, eh, competing goal)...
That's why I wonder if anyone (perhaps Pete F?) has any plans... --Martynas Patasius (talk) 20:31, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

ZeitGest[edit]

By the way, as predicted, this page easily wins the most prominent position ever in the Meta-Wiki zeitgeist. Even Global sysops/Vote was only present for one month, not three, and probably doesn't reach the number of participants this page had when combined with all the related pages, not to mention the fact that the GS vote was advertised via CentralNotice. --Nemo 20:30, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Proposed resolution for WMF board[edit]

As anticipated at the Board noticeboard, I'm drafting a (personal) proposal of resolution for the WMF board to vote on this month: User:Nemo bis/User rights process. The aim is just to make the board say something at all about the things Wikimedians care about; even something obvious as long, as it's common sense. It's just my own proposal and everyone is free to make alternative ones, but I appreciate suggestions to polish it while keeping its spirit. --Nemo 20:29, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

I just want to say I think this is a great draft and the Board should pass it. --MF-W 12:30, 7 May 2015 (UTC)

Relevant statement and action from the Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

On November 5, 2015, Executive Director Lila Tretikov (one of the recipients of this letter) stated in the monthly Metrics & Activities meeting:

We wanted to remove Superprotect. Superprotect set up a precedent of mistrust, and this is something it was really important for us to remove, to at least come back to the baseline of a relationship where we're working together, we're one community, to create a better process. To make sure we can move together faster, and to make sure everybody is part of that process, everybody is part of that conversation, and not just us at the Wikimedia Foundation." [7]

Earlier the same day, it was announced on the Wikimedia-L email list that the feature had been removed from Wikimedia servers. -Pete F (talk) 21:07, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

I wanted to report the facts (above, yesterday) before forming or expressing an opinion on what this means. I also published a blog post about this, with a bit of analysis of the announcement of changes.
Today, I'd like to take the next step.
Consider that:
  • Along with the change.org version, 1,068 people have signed this letter;
  • Three Board of Trustees candidates were voted in, taking the place of the three former community-elected members (who had not previously made any public statement about the problems with Superprotect)
  • In yesterday's announcement, Executive Director Lila Tretikov explicitly acknowledged that the implementation of Superprotect had "set up a precedent of mistrust," which I believe(at least in my opinion) captures the central message of this letter
In light of these developments, we should consider whether yesterday's announcement marks the successful conclusion of this effort.
It's true that the decision-making around Media Viewer was not explicitly addressed. However, in the absence of superprotect, we are -- at least theoretically -- back to a point where decisions about software from wiki communities, through processes like RFCs, could be pursued, and local administrators could implement any resulting decisions, subject to local policies and processes.
Today, in November 2015, the question of whether Media Viewer should be removed looks very different than it did in August 2014, when this letter was originally published. No consensus from last year, regardless of how thorough it was at the time, should be considered binding at the present date.
And so, I would propose that points specific to the Media Viewer are the less significant ones. The removal of Superprotect was the core thrust of this letter, and it has now been effected. So, pending commentary from those of you who signed the letter, I propose that yesterday's announcement marks the successful conclusion of this effort, and that we should declare victory success and move on.
I will arbitrarily ping the first ten people to sign the letter. I am not comfortable contacting the whole list, but I encourage anybody else to notify anybody they think would be especially interested. odder Steinsplitter Carrite (Tim Davenport) Glaisher Clément Bucco-Lechat Sicherlich Ottava Rima Matthiasb Nemo Hubertl
-Pete F (talk) 01:51, 8 November 2015 (UTC)
The superprotect incident is pretty much unfixable. Removing superprotect means things may not get worse in that particular direction, but I care more about the future.[8] Nemo 10:37, 8 November 2015 (UTC)
@Nemo bis: I don't think many would deny that substantial problems remain; even the initial WMF announcement acknowledges that. However, the specific requests made by the 1,068 people who signed this letter have been met. Superprotect has been removed, and the language Lila Tretikov and a board member have used makes it clear that such a blunt manner of overruling preferences of local communities is not appropriate or constructive.
I do not suggest that you, or I, or anyone stop pointing out problems or working for solutions; merely that what was requested in this letter has now been achieved. I do not think it makes sense for this letter to live on eternally. Just yesterday -- after the announcement -- another person signed the letter. To be honest, I don't even know how such a signature should be interpreted. Perhaps they were not aware of the WMF's announcement; perhaps they felt it was insufficient in some way.
One of the strengths of the letter, I believe, was that its message was clear and specific. Let's not let it turn into a proxy for every problem a community member might have with the WMF.
I'm pinging another 10 of the early signers: Holder Wdwd Denniss Patrick87 Don-kun Wee Curry Monster Julius1990 Ghilt JAnD BHC
-Pete F (talk) 18:39, 8 November 2015 (UTC)
It would be nice if this would be accompanied by a guarantee that in case of the next big software implementation community consensus will be followed, regardless what the WMF says. For example, in the perhaps not that far future, something similar could happen with Flow, something obviously desperately wanted by the WMF, but nobody else. It should be made clear, that only after a clear consensus to implement such stuff it will be implemented, such violent actions like with MV must never happen again. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 19:21, 8 November 2015 (UTC)
Personally I think we're a far way from success or even "victory" (the sole choice of this word makes it more than clear that the trust in WMF has been severely damaged and that the community is still split). The mere removal of the superprotect feature is not more than a small gesture of goodwill. A lot more of those are required - and more importantly actions have to follow - in order to restore trust and unite the community again! --Patrick87 (talk) 01:47, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
@Patrick87: Thanks for pointing out the problem with the word "victory," I agree and changed it above. I took it from the phrase change.org uses, without a lot of thought; what I intended was, the thing we asked for has been accomplished, which is good for all of us (WMF included) -- not "victory" in the sense of one group "defeated" another. -Pete F (talk) 04:27, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
Personally, I think not. "The Wikimedia Foundation should clearly assert that it will permit local projects ... to determine the default status of the Media Viewer" - that should be the default position, not just for Media Viewer, but for any optional feature that is not either part of core, or mission critical for Wikimedia operations (i.e. extra extensions providing functionality that is necessary for the wikis to run, such as translation localisation, etc). At present I am still of the belief that the Product Managers feel like they should be able to deploy software at any software quality and even if they provide functionality the community does not want; indeed the PMs show have done this in the past, and other staff who fought valiantly for WMFs right to do this, continue to be on the staff and have been promoted to higher positions in the organisation. IMO only a very clear statement from the top can provide clarity about this and rebuild trust. It is very simple. New software should be accepted by the broader community, or be disabled if it continues be un-welcomed within a reasonable period. Also, WMF running biased surveys of readers without engaging the community in the content of the poll, clearly intended to be used as a weapon to ignore the communities concerns, should be acknowledged and prevented in the future. John Vandenberg (talk) 02:39, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
@John Vandenberg:, a message today from Qgil-WMF (Engineering Community Manager) stated: "It is the job of the administrators to judge whether an edit in a page editable only by admins is appropriate or not." While it is true that Quim's position is less senior than the recipients of the letter, I consider it reasonable to assume his words are authoritative. If they are not, I would expect him or his boss to clearly retract the statement immediately -- say, within the first business day after he sent the email. -Pete F (talk) 04:27, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
For years now, approximately weekly I see a WMF staff member saying they wish these pages were not editable by administrators for one reason or other. And there have been many attempts to remove it. Superprotect is just one of them. phab:T71445 is another where the 'battle' is ongoing, and some more community-engaged/minded WMF staff do push back, but only lightly. WMF product development process is encouraging, but years of seeing the staff ship shit and believe they can shove it down the community throats leaves me wanting a little more of a top down declaration before I believe that they have magically changed while the same people are the PMs. Even the recent announcement came with whitewashing from staff (~"there was no Superprotect code in MediaWiki." - in truth the Superprotect 'configuration' required 'bugs' to be fixed before it was possible, and almost all of the senior core devs were involved in pushing through those changes so the 'Superprotect' configuration was possible.) John Vandenberg (talk) 07:29, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
Hi, thank you for the ping. I have tried to address the concerns of this thread in New Q&As added based on feedback. There are different threads in different places about highly overlapping topics, and I'm trying to respond at once through the Q&A and the related discussion page.--Qgil-WMF (talk) 12:42, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
@Qgil-WMF: Thanks for the link, but did you perhaps paste the wrong one? Or do you perhaps just mean your first comment, rather than the full discussion? IMO, this will continue to be challenging if nobody higher in the org chart than yourself addresses how similar disputes will be avoided and resolved. Personally, I am comfortable with your words; but as you can see from the other comments in this section, others are especially interested in more explicit statements from those to whom the letter was explicitly addressed. (I removed an earlier comment) -Pete F (talk) 00:18, 10 November 2015 (UTC)
Sorry for the brevity of my comment, I really don't want to interfere in this discussion beyond leaving a link to the canonical page where we are discussing and documenting the topics related with the removal of Superprotect and the next steps. The Q&As that I added yesterday clarified the determination of the WMF to use the product development process and the Wikimedia processes for building consensus and resolve disputes, and not a technical tool like Superprotect. I have added another one: What happens when there is no agreement between the WMF and a community about the deployment of a feature?. In this link I'm also clarifying my role in this announcement and Q&A.--Qgil-WMF (talk) 08:48, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

I'm happy to see superprotect finally removed, but I'm not sure this is enough to repair the relationship between the WMF and the community. PiRSquared17 (talk) 05:16, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

It is definitely a step in the good direction. -- Taketa (talk) 08:32, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

Yes, this case is settled now. But generally I'm not really content. The reaction by the WMF to this voice of opion by the highest number of community members I have encountered in 10 years of working for Wikipedia is still disappointing. Neither @LilaTretikov (WMF): ever acknowledged this open letter and really engaged with it nor did it other staff of the WMF even if directly pointed to the issue like it happend here. To me this is a sign that the mindset that caused all this trouble is still strong in the WMF. It is just a matter of time until it happens again, no matter if it will be Flow that will be forced on communities or another feature that got developed without acknowledging the position of the local communities. There is no sensibility that every project is different, and there is no caring for those matters and a bunch of false arguments (if it is monetary or the invention of "the reader", the hopes for changes in the actual editors or research by the WMF that I can't trust anymore). Yeah, Superprotect is gone, but no, i don't think the WMF learned from that really and I'm sure - that as it is - that sooner or later (and i fear it is the "sooner") we will be at the exact same spot just with another point of cause. --Julius1990 (talk) 11:14, 9 November 2015 (UTC)

Superputsch was just the tip of the iceberg, it was so out of anything imaginable legitimate, it should have been ditched the very next day by any decent person that could do so. No, the mindset, that would go this far against legitimacy to act against explicit community consensus just to have some futile bling-thing opt-out instead of opt-in is the core of the problem. You should openly declare that it was wrong from the beginning to implement MV this way, that the actions against the community were never anyhow legitimate and will never happen again without those responsible getting the boot. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 20:54, 11 November 2015 (UTC)

@Nemo bis, John Vandenberg, Patrick87, Sänger, PiRSquared17, Julius1990, and Taketa: I have now set up a poll below (to coincide with the publication of my op-ed in the Wikipedia Signpost). Could you please add your names to the appropriate section below? -Pete F (talk) 23:04, 15 November 2015 (UTC)

November 2015 poll: Has the letter achieved its goal?[edit]

As presented in the above section, the WMF has made some statements and removed Superprotect. Please add your name below in the appropriate section. (Please keep discussion separate, so it's easy to see the numbers generated in each section.) -Pete F (talk) 22:05, 15 November 2015 (UTC)

You may be interested in my analysis in an op-ed piece in today's Wikipedia Signpost. -Pete F (talk) 22:07, 15 November 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure what sort of "success" you expected. WMF as a whole is hopeless, you can't seriously hope to fix it though some tweaks are possible. The success is in gathering thousands people together, a great community building effort and know-your-enemy education. Nemo 14:19, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
@Nemo bis:, I addressed that point rather explicitly in the op-ed linked above; especially in this section and in bullet (e) near the bottom. "Success," quite literally, would have been the implementation of the requests; is this not readily apparent? Success of the letter is not identical with success in repairing the relationship or the development process -- at this point, I would say, far from it. But success of the letter is still worth seeking, IMO. -Pete F (talk) 17:43, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
@Peteforsyth: Perhaps the responses you're getting below (including mine) are not what you intended? You're getting comments about the situation, rather than simple yea-or-nay assessments on the fairly objective question of whether the narrow goals of the letter have been met. Others may have thought, as I guess I did, that the narrow question has a pretty clear answer, so the point of asking for feedback would be to get broader assessments of the situation. (I do, btw, quite approve of the decision to give the letter narrow goals, fwiw.) --Pi zero (talk) 19:31, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for asking, Pi zero. I did intend simple signatures below, with discussion continuing in this section (or the above section); but it's not a big deal. Even if the answer is clear, however, I hope more people will assert as much; clearly, LilaTretikov (WMF) (and perhaps others) believe that a significant step toward rebuilding trust has been taken, so it's worthwhile to see if anybody outside the WMF's walls shares that opinion, and equally worthwhile to find out who disagrees.
One interesting, if tangentially related, development: while writing my op-ed, I emailed the executive coach I quoted (Charles Feltman), to ask if he knows of relevant peer reviewed research. He just sent me this link to a study that ties willingness to apologize to a belief that the offended party will forgive. In a general sense, this does not seem too surprising; in practice, I hope the people of WMF can see more broadly than that. -Pete F (talk) 20:11, 16 November 2015 (UTC)

I prefer not to choose one of the to options yes and no. Superprotect has now been removed but: I still miss an official statement like "it was wrong then and we are sorry for what it caused"; technically, superprotect could return, with still no clear guidelines, whenever "we [WMF] want to reinstall it"; letter and success are far apart from each other, at least chronologically. So I see some success and several reasons to stay sceptical. → «« Man77 »» [de] 19:40, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

I signed the letter; it has been a success.[edit]

  1. --Ghilt (talk) 19:22, 26 November 2015 (UTC) i guess signing helped in the removal of superprotect, but i fear a potential reinstallment during potential future situations that are seen as critical

I did not sign the letter; it has been a success.[edit]

  1. I did not sign the letter, but I supported the removal of SuperProtect when I was a candidate to the Board, and I put a lot of effort into making the removal happen (I held talks with the ED every couple of weeks, basically asking when it will be done; I also added this as an item to all Board meetings held). I believe the removal is a success - and I agree it matters symbolically most. The very existence of a tool that can undermine a community's consensus is wrong. The removal of this tool signifies recognizing a line that should not be crossed. Pundit (talk) 23:28, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

I signed the letter; it has not (yet) been a success.[edit]

  1. I find it is hard to say at present. The 'new' development methodology has yet to be finalised, let alone be tested in practise. Words are cheap, and we've heard them before. There have been a few successful medium sized product deployments, such as Global user pages, but the real test will be when there there is a community rejection of a deployed feature. Hopefully the processes being development will include adequate negotiation regarding deployment, in order to avoid community rejection in future. As there is no evidence of better deployment practises in this area, yet, without accountability, and apologies where necessary, it is hard to rebuild trust. Many of the WMF staff who implemented and publicly defended Superprotect are still at WMF, being paid by the donations made possible by the largest stakeholder: the community who build the projects. Were they just doing their job, or did they believe it was appropriate and have since learnt it was not appropriate to treat stakeholders with disrespect. Without more dialogue on this matter, with those individuals participating, the assumption is that they still hold those beliefs, and will work against the community where possible in the future when they believe their 'feature' is more important than the community. I fear that most of those responsible would prefer to let 'WMF' be blamed for Superprotect, and let the organisation 'fix' it by disabling it, so that they do not need to acknowledge their own personal role in it and they can avoid their individual need to rebuild trust. If that is the case, then we need to wait and see if the new management can keep them under control. John Vandenberg (talk) 23:20, 15 November 2015 (UTC)
  2. My opinion stated above still holds: The removal of superprotect is a gesture of goodwill and a small step into the right direction, but it did not solve any of the underlying issues (yet). --Patrick87 (talk) 00:04, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
  3. As I said just above: Superputsch was just the tip of the iceberg. It was so out of order, it would have been ditched the very next day by any decent organisation, the clear and unambiguous community decision would have been installed in a proper programming way by the paid developers, so that no hack by non-professional admins would be necessary. The admin in deWP would have been whacked on his fingers by deWP anyway, the rogue perpetrators in San Francisco should have got a call to order, perhaps there would have been some proper solution by some community programmers quite fast, we will never know. MV now and MV then is not comparable, it was alpha, at maximum beta, at the time it was made opt-out. There is still no promise not to use force again against the communities with the next pet project, Flow still seems to be a candidate for the next accident in the making. No, the removement of this explicitely anti-community tool was far too late and far too little. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 05:35, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
  4. The pro-forma removal of superprotect is good rather than bad, but in the larger scheme of things it's rather trivial. The above-quoted reason for removing it makes very clear that the underlying problem remains substantially untouched:

    "Superprotect set up a precedent of mistrust, and this is something it was really important for us to remove, to at least come back to the baseline of a relationship where we're working together, we're one community, to create a better process. To make sure we can move together faster, and to make sure everybody is part of that process, everybody is part of that conversation, and not just us at the Wikimedia Foundation."

    Realistically, the Foundation isn't part of the community; it's doubtful whether they can become part of the community; and the important conversation takes place in the community that the Foundation realistically isn't part of. If the Foundation wants to move toward becoming part of the community, they'd have to start by recognizing that they aren't already, and asking, humbly, how they can serve the community and how, and whether, they might become more part of it. Rather than imagining they are the source of importance and trying to make the volunteers believe they're being allowed to participate in the important conversation. --Pi zero (talk) 14:41, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
  5. as I stated above. --Julius1990 (talk) 17:32, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
  6. Whilst the removal of superprotect is a welcome gesture, to my mind that was only symptomatic of a wider problem. The foundation has sought to impose a series of disastrous software "upgrades" on the community, citing rather dubious surveys as justification, dismissing concerned editors as little more than Luddites and riding rough shod over community concerns. The foundation came to see itself as more important than the wikipedia community and that attitude drove away a lot of veteran editors. I still don't believe the foundation sees itself as part of the community but rather as its overlords and its that attitude that needs to be changed. Wee Curry Monster (talk) 10:16, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
  7. &S (well, the letter is and has been a huge success in bringing parts of the community together and making the antidemocratic Wikihierarchy more visible to those who still thought Wikimedia was a community-driven project. It has not (yet) been a success to change that, but it can be a start. :) --.js ((())) 11:03, 21 November 2015 (UTC) (updated 30 Dec 2015)
  8. In the past few months I have practically begged a half dozen different WMF staff to engage the community on a pair of issues. The exact issues aren't important here. What is important here is whether WMF staff are willing to let go of the Facebook-management vs Facebook-users approach, and successfully engage the Community in discussions as a partner. In one case the Community Liaison, a Project Manager, and the Executive Director all ignored a half dozen requests for a WMF-Community discussion. Note that I didn't ask for any action or preferred outcome, I merely asked if the WMF was willing to discuss one of their minor projects with the Community. I would get a reply of some sort, but the reply consistently evaded answering that particular question. When I limited my post to that sole question, so that it was impossible to reply to something else, I got no response at all. My ping was ignored. In the other case I was initially told that an RFC on the issue was not needed and apparently not wanted... basically because the Community was obstructionist and they'd rather go ahead with their idea of what would be best for us, without any pesky community input. The Community Liaison (a different one) eventually made promising statements that we could discuss it constructively... however I was told I'd get a response "soon"... which turned into no response at all after weeks of requests. So the answer here is firmly "Not Yet".

    On the other hand the WMF is working out a new Software Development Process, and I find it very promising that Qgil-WMF included a link above to my question What happens when there is no agreement between the WMF and a community about the deployment of a feature? Qgil gave some promising answers in that discussion. So... when I have time to focus on it... I'll try to see if we can start shifting from "not yet" to "yes". I'll present the two issues to Qgil directly. We'll see if Qgil thinks I am making reasonable requests for WMF-Community discussions, and hopefully hammer out a shared vision of what success here looks like. Alsee (talk) 12:27, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

  9. What I find shocking is that this took so long for them to take it down. It must have been lingering for a long time that .. maybe they should keep it anyway. Anyway, the mindset behind this is obviously still there. Whether server-critical or not, implementations are being started without central announcement/discussion (after MV), or systems are being brought down without a proper explanation of the why (after MV) - WMF does not care that their active volunteers frustrate, their only care is attracting new editors. Flow is going to be installed, no matter what, VE is going to be installed, no matter what, MV ... well, we are here because they were going to implement it no matter what by even enforcing the implementation. Meanwhile, requests for (sometimes quite critical) upgrades in the system are ignored. I wonder if the WMF finds that the number of new editors that came/stayed due to the implementation of MV outweighs the (temporary) loss of manpower because editors left/leave in frustration. --Dirk Beetstra T C (en: U, T) 13:01, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
    Dirk Beetstra, I have been tracking the Flow issue and engaging the WMF director and about it. There is a significant view of some unknown portion of WMF staff that Flow is The Future. However I'd ease up on your statement "Flow is going to be installed, no matter what". The WMF seems to recognize that there a problem here and that it would be a bad idea to try to force out Flow. The WMF has backed off on pushing it for some time now. My impression is that they're at a bit of a loss on what to do. The current passive-strategy seems to be to offer Flow to any Communities that establish a consensus for it in the hope that people see how awesome Flow is, and that enthusiastic adoption will grow. In the meanwhile every Flow board on English Wikipedia has had traffic drop to zero. There used to be seven Flow pages on EnWiki. It is now down to four Flow pages and an open MFD and RFC should imminently drop that to two. It is possible that EnWiki will be Flow-free soonish. I've been thinking of contacting other languages with Flow boards to see whether they want to move forward with Flow or roll it back. Alsee (talk) 07:42, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
    @Alsee: That is then different from some time ago, where there was a statement (not sure if it was for Flow, though I thinks so) that s.t. what going to be implemented (when I find the statement I will add). Anyway, the core of my concern stays: WMF prefers to spend time on fancy gadgets that the community does not ask for, because they expect that it will attract/retain new editors ('supported' by limited statistics - for VE the question whether VE-edits by new editors 'leave' more, less, or the same number of 'broken' pages in comparison to the old editor is still unanswered, still it was implemented for new editors ..), whereas keeping old editors happy by not implementing those changes, or even enforcing changes against the community will (which will make the editors that are there (temporary) leave, resulting in a decline in number of editors - I don't think that MV will attract a huge number of new editors over the old viewer), and keeping old editors happy with solving bugs in a timely manner, being clear in communication and finally working on long-awaited feature requests or upgrades of systems is not on that priority list. --Dirk Beetstra T C (en: U, T) 08:07, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
    Dirk Beetstra, at Request_Flow_on_a_page, both community-page and personal-page deployments require evidence of community consensus. That is solid progress. Regarding Visual Editor: We did get the answer on what effect it has. I even spoke with the researcher in charge and he pulled up a second round of expanded data for me. VE helped an extra 0% of new accounts to make their first edit, there was 0% increase in new editor retention after 1-week and at 3-months, and it in resulted in a 0% increase in total edits. The WMF hasn't been eager to integrate that information though. I tried to add it to one or two relevant VE documentation pages and it was reverted. Also, the VE team still opens every quarterly goal page with Involve more people than ever before. Regarding Media Viewer, there is no data but I suspect it diminished the on-ramp for new editors. Aside from the low key edit&talk buttons, the file page was the only place readers got a glimpse behind the curtain. BTW, activity on EnWiki Flow pages has dropped to zero. Flow deployment has dropped from 7 pages to 4, and that will drop to 2 when a pair of discussions close in a few days. It's possible EnWiki Flow deployment could hit zero soon-ish. Alsee (talk) 14:42, 23 December 2015 (UTC)
    Let's hope that this is then the start of a re-assessment of things (IMHO, keeping the current community happy has two effects: 1) it keeps the current editor/gnome base, and 2) if the current editors are happy, new editors are more likely to be happy as well - sending off established editors because of enforced implementation of features that you don't really know whether they improve .. bad strategy). I have personally however not seen too much of this (the latest feat, a good week ago, was also not communicated well, and a couple of months ago I was left in the dark as well (both nothing to do with flow/VE/MV in any form, this is labs-related)). --Dirk Beetstra T C (en: U, T) 06:16, 24 December 2015 (UTC)
  10. While superprotect has been removed it is unclear if the sentiment behind its use remains a concern. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:06, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

I did not sign the letter; it has not (yet) been a success.[edit]

  1. The letter by definition was not a success; as far as can be determined no one at the WMF read it, had any intention of paying attention to it, or plans to read any such letters in the future. The WMF has been very clear in its actions to date: it does not care about editor feedback or opinions, except in the form of bug reports on projects that it is launching. It does not take into account editor opinions when designing/developing projects, and it has no intention of doing so in the future. It regards the editor userbase as a group that does not know what is good for it, and should fall in line with the decisions made by the WMF. If editors complain about a WMF action, such as in this letter, then it is because those editors do not know what is best for them, and likely didn't even read what they were signing. That the WMF has dropped Superprotect is nothing more than the yearly "we want to engage with the community" token effort; just like all prior nice-sounding statements, it is unlikely to be followed by any real engagement. --PresN (talk) 01:38, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
  2. No parenthetical, not a success. - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 18:28, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

I signed the letter, or plan to, AFTER the November 5 announcement.[edit]

Wikimedia Foundation board ousts community-elected Trustee[edit]

See here: http://wikistrategies.net/james-heilman-removed/

-Pete F (talk) 23:09, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

The only legitimate reason would be some severe criminal offence by James. Until any reason is given by those, who ditched him, I'll apply bad faith to the WMF, they have proven beyond much doubt that they can't be trusted in regard of interaction with their superior, the communities. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 23:38, 28 December 2015 (UTC)
Apparently no reason was given, at least not communicated 'til now. Here's the "decision": [9] Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 00:23, 29 December 2015 (UTC)
NB: The event took place Dec. 15, and the board did not choose to announce their action for two weeks. It seems reasonable to conclude their action and the announcement of same were deliberately timed to minimize community awareness and reaction. - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 18:32, 29 December 2015 (UTC)
How do you come to the conclusion, it took place two weeks ago? On the decision page linked above stands Approved by the Board of Trustees on December 28, 2015, and Jimbo said on enWP that Doc James mailed about it asap, so that the other board members didn't have time to react properly. If it really was decided two weeks ago, there should have been a press release ready asap, even before James mail. But even if not: Such a harsh action against the communities, to ditch one of the few properly elected members of the board, should be either well thought about long beforehand and an explanation should be ready before the official decision, or it was an emergency, that at least the fact of an emergency, regardless of what exactly, should be made asap. No other valid reason for this action without an immediate explanation is possible. And as they refuse to give proper answers, we must expect something severely fishy. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 18:43, 29 December 2015 (UTC)
This edit indicates the Dec. 15th board meeting. - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 21:29, 4 January 2016 (UTC)
An edit from 23:36, 28 December 2015, linking an article posted 23:35, 28 December 2015 with next to no text in it, suggest in what manner that this event took place on 15 December? Sounds a bit like bistromathics to me.
However, there were some statements on the mailing list, but none came up with a proper reason to oust one of the few really legitimate members on that board. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 22:27, 4 January 2016 (UTC)
Now the minutes are out, and still not the faintest reason given for such a severe step by the board against the community. Will the board ever come up with a valid reasoning for such an enormous measure of distrust against the community? Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 09:51, 9 March 2016 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure the WMF board has no idea what it does, even less why it does what it does. Nemo 21:17, 9 March 2016 (UTC)

Project for more Wiki-democracy[edit]

Happy new Year altogether! I'm looking for people who join en:Wikipedia:WikiProject Democracy and help improving it and spreading the word :) --.js ((())) 04:33, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

Approaching two years without a WMF reply[edit]

The WMF still has an open task to provide a reply, and has not addressed the root of the problems that brought us to a crisis two years ago. I just left a request on the new Executive Director's talk page asking if there's any chance we can get this resolved before the two year mark (Aug 19). Alsee (talk) 06:00, 3 August 2016 (UTC)

Hi, I think the WMF has addressed the root of the problems that brought us to a crisis two years ago, and I believe the situation nowadays doesn't compare to the one we had in those days. I am explaining this in more detail in the discussion related to that Phabricator task.--Qgil-WMF (talk) 07:12, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Alsee, I put a lot of effort and time into having Superprotect gone, so I'm a bit disappointed that you believe otherwise :) In general, I can agree that we will know if the WMF has really changed only by observing, but I can assure you that the climate for repeating the mistakes of SP and MV is absolutely not making it likely. I also strongly believe that the Board, as well as individual Board members, have the role of objecting to solutions that are force-fed (unbaked) to the community. Pundit (talk) 13:43, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
Hi Pundit. Superprotect was removed, but the WMF still hasn't issued a response to the letter, the WMF still has an Officially Open task to provide such a response, and several people are asking for one. It's been two years, it's long overdue.
On a closely related topic, Qgil-WMF has suggested that the new Collaboration Guideline serves as a substitute to a response. Qgil-WMF said the issues didn't need to be dealt with because The WMF has addressed the root of the problems that brought us to a crisis two years ago. In case you didn't catch it, my comment above is an exact reversal of that sentence. I don't want to make a wall of text, so I'll make a micro comment that the community recently came within a hair of deploying a javascript hack to override a WMF setting, and semi-recently we have the persistent issue of the WMF being unable or unwilling to discuss a problem at all, of refusing pleas for WMF-Community discussion to sort it out, until the flames are half way to the roof. Part of the reason the discussion is happening now is because we're not in the middle of any significant conflict. That's the time to sort out how we deal with the hard cases. And because currently, it seems like Qgil is indicating that Superprotect and at-will revocation of admins still on the table as a combat tactic. Qgil is working on the Collaboration Guideline. It looks like it lead directly to a Superprotect situation. The bottom line is that it says the only thing the community is allowed to do is request early deployment. We asked if our understanding of it was correct. Qgil indicated the WMF does intend to push out a deployment against a Global Community Consensus that something is harmful. We asked what that means, what is the next WMF step in that situation. We asked if that meant redeploying Superprotect, revoking admins, and similar tactics. Qgil evaded directly answering, and instead gave us an explanation for WHY the the answer is yes, why WMF should/would do that. We pressed the question again, what was the WMF's next step in that sort of situation. We made it clear that an absence of an answer to that question would be interpreted by many people as meaning a Superprotect-style enforcement of that outcome. Qgil was repeatedly unwilling or unable to answer that question, and unwilling or unable to suggest any alternative. I can't see any way to interpret that, except as saying Superprotect (or equivalent). I am seriously afraid that sooner or later another conflict will arise, and it won't be based on some stupid petty matter like the Viewer default. I'm afraid that it could escalate far worse than before. And I don't want us filling in the answer to "what comes next" when everyone is fighting. I want some collaboration model that does fill in some answer other than Superprotect. The reason I want that is because it won't matter which side it right or wrong... the fallout of that conflict would be far more damaging to everyone than any possible value of any possible software deployment.
That is really the key point. Any software deployment that would provoke a Global Community Revolt is per-se a deployment the WMF should not make, because it would directly undermine the WMF's core mission. Alsee (talk) 15:56, 4 August 2016 (UTC)

Other petitions[edit]

I just encountered a petition to the WMF I had not been aware of, from 2008: Community petition It was mentioned in the Signpost and the related board action was covered on English Wikinews. Are there others? -Pete Forsyth (talk) 02:55, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

See also: Petition (List). --.js[democracy needed] 04:28, 27 February 2017 (UTC)