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Query the appropriateness of Merchandise giveaways
The Merchandise giveaways scheme appears to have been created by a WMF account on the English Wikipedia in 2012: . There may have been some consultation with the community, but I haven't found any. Most of the nominations are not well attended; there are a number with just the nomination and then the acceptance, so in essence this has the same value as a barnstar, yet costs money. Money that does not belong to the nominator, nor to the WMF. The money comes from donors, the majority of whom would not be aware that their money is not going towards maintaining the encyclopedia, but toward internal, unpublicised gifts. As such there are ethical concerns here. Examples:
A) Do the communities want donated money to be given away like this when a barnstar would (and should) serve the purpose of acknowledging good works. There are some users, like Gerda who operates the Precious scheme, who echo this Merchandise giveaways scheme in that an individual gives an award to someone they feel has done good work. The main difference is that schemes like Precious do not take money from donations and so are fully in the spirit of Wikipedia. This merchandise scheme is more business orientated, and does not match well with a volunteer community.
B) Do the donors want their money to go to a scheme which is little known, little attended, and which has at best (and possibly less) the same intrinsic honour value as a free barnstar or free Precious. That the WMF are pausing on this mass nomination underlines the point that there is a monetary value to this gift which is not given by the nominator. No matter what the final decision, that there is a pause is significant. If Sdkb has created a special barnstar and mass nominated a bunch of people to receive it, then there wouldn't be any issue at all. It would have been gratefully received by everyone. So, questions:
- ) Was there consultation with any Wiki community about this scheme?
- ) Does the Foundation feel the cost is justified for a scheme which few people seem to be aware of and use?
- ) What is the Foundation's ethical justification for using donors money in this way when there are existing schemes for thanking and incentivising users which are well known, popular, successful, and free? (And please do not say that saying thankyou to someone is more significant when there is a monetary value attached, as that would be insulting to the thousands of us who work unpaid on this project because we value it beyond money)
- ) What do the communities feel about this scheme?
- ) How aware are communities of this scheme?
- ) Should there be a RfC on if the scheme should continue or be folded?
I want to make clear that I feel Sdkb has done this nomination in good faith and with the best of intentions. It is not Sdkb's mass nomination I am questioning, it is the existence of the Merchandise giveaways scheme. SilkTork (talk) 20:00, 2 January 2022 (UTC)
- @SilkTork: the nomination page wasn't the appropriate venue for these questions. And moved to this talk page. Seddon (talk) 00:22, 3 January 2022 (UTC)
- The money comes from donors, the majority of whom would not be aware that their money is not going towards maintaining the encyclopedia, but toward internal, unpublicised gifts That's just one point of view. Gifts encourages people to contribute, so it is very well going towards maintaining the encyclopedia. In any case, you cannot stop WMF from distributing free t-shirts or mugs among its employees. What's wrong if volunteers too occasionally get some of those? WMF's annual Wikimania also consumes a lot of donor money in travel arrangements and other expenses, yet I don't see anyone proposing to stop it.
- The "honour value" varies person-to-person. Tangible gifts, wikilove, and barnstars all have their own appeal. If you personally don't like one of those, you can of course decline. SD0001 (talk) 18:05, 3 January 2022 (UTC)
- Ditto the above, I had come here to basically say the same thing.
- Wikimania cost WMF $209,690 in the 2019 budget, down from $267,482. Awards and grants cost $12 million, down from $13.5 in 2018. Travel and conferences for WMF staff cost $2.867 million.
- Looking at scholarship eligibility for Stockholm, the last in-person event, it makes reference to "individuals who solely contribute to non-Wikimedia free content projects or movements are no longer encouraged to apply, as Wikimedia related activities are the main basis for evaluation." So we used to fund random people's trips to the internal conference.
- MelanieN calculated the expense as $7000 before shipping. That's 1/29th the cost of one of the events that didn't run. -- Zanimum (talk) 00:28, 5 January 2022 (UTC)
- I would challenge the premise of the original questions: I don't think any approval or consultation is per se needed if you want to set up an appreciation program. Especially because it is a "private" appreciation, rather than a formal stamp of approval from the mothership. Whether donors would appreciate this sounds like a great question though - I'm however not convinced that editors are best placed to answer it. I'll leave that line of questions to the WMF. Given how long this has been running, I would probably not be out of line to suggest that most likely, there's not a revolt about this among donors.
- So let me turn around the question: what exactly do you see as the concerns with the program, and how can they be improved. I can see the cost as being a concern, but given that we're talking usually about people who have volunteered for years, I doubt that would be a big factor to me. However, your other questions hint at another category: are we setting this program up with sufficient equity and access? For example, I see that the page is currently only translated into Chinese. For me, this is a great encouragement to nominate more people from unusual corners of our little universe! Effeietsanders (talk) 23:02, 29 January 2022 (UTC)
- I would lean in, but I haven't gotten a shirt yet... I do agree that there need to be some additional hurdles to make sure money isn't being hurled down the drain. For example, I believe that mass merch nominations (such as multiple nominations by one user in one swoop and, IMO, like what Sdkb did here), as well as making sure that a nomination passes because multiple people agree, not just one. Panini! (talk) 07:44, 3 February 2022 (UTC)
- The beauty of this scheme was that it was always low key and whenever i've dropped by over the years it would look barely operational. I bet the mass nomination caused a few fire alarms to go off at the WMF headquarters, this scheme was never intended for rewarding the masses and should remain that way. If merch giveaways are going to become more common then at the very least the community should see some reports on projected expenditure. I know you're trying your best to live the wiki-ascetic lifestyle but if you would like a t-shirt SilkTork i will happily buy you one, you've been doing god's work for a long time. Zindor (talk) 05:00, 13 May 2022 (UTC)
Gilding my lily
Delighted though I am at the honor, I see that the majority of us nominees are perennial attenders of Wikimania and other grand events, who have already been shirted multiple times and otherwise recognized. Some of those times, I was handing out the T-shirts. If the number of shirts is limited, I hope the nominators will thoughtfully dig up more of our wise and industrious editors who, for whatever reason, have long been unable to travel or have been underrecognized for any reason. Which might mean I wouldn't have a third that is black; not a great loss since I can console myself with those of blue, red, purple, or whatever color. Jim.henderson (talk) 05:07, 3 January 2022 (UTC)
Request for verification of ethical sourcing
Right now this is a physical merch giveaway of corporate consumer products. Wiki community values require disclosure of the labor conditions of the factory workers and ethical production.
Prefer that the merch come from unionized labor where we can confirm from the workers themselves that working conditions are appropriate.
- This talk page probably isn't the right venue for this specific question but a ping for @JBrungs (WMF): anyway. I would also suggest you email merchandisewikimedia.org. Seddon (talk) 18:09, 3 January 2022 (UTC)
Need virtual gifts
We need virtual gift alternatives.
I would love to see a Wikimedia collaboration with online virtual art communities to create images which both improve Wikipedia, and also can recognize good contributions to Wikipedia editors as planned in this scheme.
The current scheme pays US$10 for shirts. $10 is a lot of money for many online artists accepting commissions through Twitter, DeviantArt, Patreon, Ko-Fi, and similar creator communities. If there is money for t-shirts which are out of scope of the Wikimedia mission, then there is at least as much money available to commission original and reusable art with Wikimedia compatible copyright licenses as virtual gifts for those who merit a t-shirt according to the criteria of this program, but who would prefer to share a virtual gift. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:13, 3 January 2022 (UTC)
- From what I remember the existing process basically leverages workflows and processes that already exist because of [store.wikimedia.org] and the use of merchandise by teams across the org in support of volunteers and events. Which means it keeps the complexity down. Whilst I like the idea you are proposing, it would require a wholly different approach which I think reduces the likelihood of it happening in the near/mid-term. Seddon (talk) 18:13, 3 January 2022 (UTC)
- Wouldn't a $10 piece of art be undervaluing the time of artists? Unless it's a derivative of an existing work, or a quick sketch, that's not even hourly minimum wage, depending on where you're hiring people.
- But as Seddon notes, merch uses existing workflows. Depending on account procedure at WMF, they might even have to register each artist as a contractor. What's the overhead for all of that? -- Zanimum (talk) 00:13, 5 January 2022 (UTC)