Talk:Official position history

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Benefits of official titles[edit]

Yes, this is something that we really need: for general PR, for legal or semi-legal aspect (like asking for content autorisation, asking to wikipedia mirrors to comply with the GFDL (backlinks and c°) and probably for many other reasons. -- Looxix 16:17, 8 May 2004 (UTC)
Wikipedians understand that the community runs by consensus and debate. The outside world, though, would naturally have problems accepting ordinary community members speaking for the community. Oficial titles could certainly help, especially when contacting companies who might not want to deal with a "lowly" user. Isomorphic 02:21, 21 May 2004 (UTC)
There is another benefit of the "official" title. Some people can spend extra effort when they can write some nice title on their resume. That means that titles are not necessarily for contacting external bodies. Internal positions could be made official as well. Say, for example, interlingual coordinator or site management policy advisor. People do these things without holding a title. That is fine. But if there is a way to give these things some title, that would be good. Wikipedia can help their career, and they have more reason to be active on wikipedia. I believe that these titles are more easily given out, primarily driven by community decisions in each projects. Tomos 00:17, 18 Jun 2004 (UTC)

on positions themselves[edit]

these were added to the proposal

Other positions to consider might be Fundraising co-ordinator, Print version co-ordinators (one for each language that is being printed), Sales co-ordinator (of WikiReaders etc). I don't think public relations should be mixed in with fund raising as suggested above. The two don't have to be the same. Angela 15:26, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Sites using Wikipedia content[edit]

I think it would be a good idea to have a "titled person" to contact sites with low degree of compliance with the GFDL. It would give a better impression from our side and simplify the procedure for notifying such sites. Rmhermen 18:28, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Yes - a copyright compliance officer is needed as well. But in order to give such a person the legal ability to act in that capacity we will need make en:wikipedia:submission Standards go live. --mav 03:41, 7 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Finances[edit]

Comment made by Mav during Board election
Article V of the Wikimedia bylaws states that one of the trustees has to be selected by the board to be treasurer (there is no provision for a non-board member to act as treasurer). This is a vitally important position that needs to be filled by somebody who is willing to spend a great deal of time and care tracking and budgeting Wikimedia's income and expenses. Since no one else was performing this very important role, I have been doing what I could with the limited amount of information that Jimbo has given me. I feel that I have demonstrated both an ability and willingness to do this work and that my presence on the board will be needed so that the work can be continued and expanded upon.

I would like to nominate Mav as CFO (Chief Financial Officer). His work to date has been exemplary, and he has already won the trust of a large part of the community. Danny 11:40, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

If the role of Developer Coordinator is to oversee hardware decisions, I would like to nominate Brion. He is already our mainstay in that area. Danny 11:43, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I second both of these nominations; both are excellent choices. -- [[User:Viajero|Viajero (Talk)]] 17:34, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Likewise. How about just Hardware Coordinator for Brion? since that's the role which is most sensitive and most in need of special accountability? I would be happy with creating these two roles, as long as related departments and sharable duties were defined beforehand. +sj+
Thanks for the nomination and the second. But I'm not sure how official this nomination process is... If it is somehow official, then I accept the nomination and second the nomination of Brion (please think of a better title for him though!). --mav 05:55, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I also second these nominations. --Elian 15:30, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)


An alternate approach to "official" titles[edit]

Noting that the below was written last summer, I should update it since acquiring a semi-official title of my own. I was not keen on having titles for the Quarto, particularly not for the coordinators at the most abstract level, because the idea was to encourage boldness and collaboration, rather than to present my or Anthere's or anyone else's individual vision. I think that a few of the great successes and a few of the great bottlenecks in the Quarto's development occurred in part thanks to the decision to have Titles. And similar effects can be seen in other projects. A year later, I would say that:
a) having two overall editors of the Quarto was often very useful;
b) an ideal Quarto structure would have a tight community of representatives from each contributing arm (translators, editors, designers, distributors) making key decisions; and
c) the best Titled Positions should work to replace themselves with written rules of thumb and a small community of coordinators. They may stay on as figureheads, or for bureaucratic or proselytizing purposes, but should not be required to make regular - if any - unilateral decisions.
That said, the rest of my earlier comments stand. A more detailed proposal for Special Interest Groups can be found further down the page. +sj | Translate the Quarto | + 20:06, 23 May 2005 (UTC)


I think what is important is creating departments for each of the above roles that develop effective procedures, distribute relevant information, advocate for new related wikiprojects, and coordinate work done in those roles so that the many parts of Wikimedia work smoothly and predictably together.

for instance, I do not think it is important to have a single "CFO"; indeed I think it would be preferable *not* to have "foreman" titles in any of these departments, but to have a few different Financial Officers (and if necessary to have a rotating foreman). This helps avoid single points of failure, and encourages boldness in contribution.

Where it is desirable to leave unilateral decision-making in one person's hands, it should be explicitly noted, and limited in scope and time.

A clarifying aside, I think that Kenny sh's recent bold changes to the main page on en: (trying to introduce icons for the By-Topic categories) was an excellent use of boldness, though I didn't enjoy the result.
My personal experiences, I have had two positive experiences contacting people for Wikipedia; in both instances I was bold (stating I was "a publicity coordinator for" and "a photographer for" Wikipedia), and in both cases (in the latter case, with an ID) I was responded to professionally and promptly, receiving a database update and press pass, respectively.

I agree that it helps to have the trappings of officialdom -- business cards with the wikimedia/project logo, wikimedia.org / [project].org forwarding addresses, laminated photo press IDs, etc. However, for each of the positions listed above, I am not sure that it would help to require official approval of any new 'title', or that it is most effective to put *individuals* in private long-term contact with the rest of the world. It makes more sense to me to have, e.g., department-level email addresses, which are broadcast to everyone in the department. +sj+ 04:59, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Funnily enough, I was discussing with Angel yesterday evening of my desire to create a Wikimedia committee page, mentioning that none of the above required now a very precisely defined title, but for the Financial Officer. I suggested that instead, groups of people begin to loosely team to focus on a topic, such as fundraising, and that no official title would be given for now in a "leadership" perspective. The initial wish I had for official title, was mostly to help wikipedians to be bolder outside. Yann Forget, for example, wanted to create the french association very quickly, because he felt he needed to be able to show "proof" he was "right" to speak in our name; For this reason, Jimbo made him a "porte parole". This is not a leadership role, this is essentially the possibility for Yann to go outside, perhaps find someone to discuss money issues on, and can show he is trusted to do so. Right now, but for the financial officer, this is how I perceive what an official title should be. In short, I feel we should just let things proceed quite naturally on their own, take our time, and not make things more complicated than they need to be. Anthere 05:34, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I really do think that specific people, who have passed the necessary background checks, should be held responsible for certain tasks. For example, the CFO would need to have some form of access to Wikimedia's bank account in order to properly keep the books (I would like to be able to download Quicken format data and have better access to PayPal info - transcribing from faxed statements takes too much time and is prone to error). I know from experience that having to depend upon overworked Jimbo to find time to fax me bank statements has been an effort in frustration for both of us and his wife (many time conflicts and technical problems - that would have to be repeated monthly). He is also on holiday right now so I don't have access to any recent bank statements (not to mention all the statements for last year - which are needed in order to formulate a budget). In short we need somebody who would be

  1. Legally and criminally known and accountable (background check to confirm identity, which can then be used to hold the person accountable if he/she uses sensitive info or privileges inappropriately),
    • I agree that a specially-privileged Chief Financial Officer must have explicit accountability, and a separate title. I also think there should be many unprivileged Financial Officers who help maintain the books, update informational pages, help create new donation pages and investigate/share information on tax law and incorporation law in various locales, &c. (For instance, while over half our contributors are from outside the US, our contributions page says something like 'if you live outside the US, check with your local tax authorities to find out if there is some treaty or law under which you may deduct contributions from your income'. Filling this gap in organizational knowledge does not require sensitive info or privileges.) +sj+
  2. Be the point person responsible for making sure things get done. If things don't get done, then that person would be reprimanded. If this happens often, then a deputy would take over as chief.
    • In general, I think there should be a number of people all empowered to 'get things done'. It is fine to have one person responsible, at any given time, for being on top of the timeline and related planning; however I think this should be a rotating, and undesirable (more work!), position -- as with the rotating position of "Department Chair" in many american universities. And I am not convinced that a system of individual reprimands and accolades -- for instance, an encyclopedia project where every user's name is openly connected with a rank proportional to the number of her/his contributions -- will promote better or faster progress than a system of shared responsibility where all are encouraged to be as bold as their momentary energy allows. +sj+

Since no officer will get paid, titles (which can go on resume's) would be compensation. A disincentive for slacking off would be the possibility of getting sacked (if the title is official, then a detailed background check by a third party will uncover that and the fact of termination). (mav)

  • This in particular seems counterproductive to me. It creates an artificial scarcity of titles in order to encourage competition for them, and commitment to them. However, it takes away with the other hand -- discouraging those who lose such competitions from making bold suggestions or from editing the ideas of a titled 'superior'. It is not two weeks since the board elections, and already I have seen two people arguing on IRC (badly paraphrased, if I was not imagining things) : "we should do it this way" "well, Anthere was saying we're doing it the other way, and what she says goes." "<anthere> um... no. I didn't say that and I don't have jurisdiction over it."
  • It would be a fine thing to avoid an environment in which it can be profitable for one contributor to damage another's reputation, or to demean their contributions. Consider the proliferation of misleading quickpolls, once it was readily possible to extract a community condemnation of someone, potentially providing for a day's respite from an edit war. Encouraging contributors to compete for prizes, however small, rather than asking for people to contribute time and effort for no explicit compensation at all, risks attracting the wrong kind of energy. (FWIW, people who are active on WP can already put their unofficial titles on resumes -- a detailed background check will turn those up just as readily, and they will probably mean just as much to a future employer.)+sj+

The chief server coordinator, for example, would need to have access to a large petty cash account for use in emergencies (such as a few servers going down that would need to be replaced fast). If and when any chief is away on holiday, then a deputy (same background checks yada yada) would be assigned as acting chief until the chief returns. But Ant is right and the board should move slowly (a better word would be deliberately) on granting titles. --mav

  • Again I agree that those people with special privileges should have extra accountability. I hope only that there are a number of deputies for each such chief role, all suitably checked, and that in the absence of emergencies, such chiefs are not broadly encouraged to act on their private decisions (and even in the presence of emergencies, there should be fallback plans that have been discussed previously which at least roughly describe how one ought to cope with foreseeable disasters).
Sj - I agree that there should be departments with a number of deputies. I'm not sure if every department needs a chief except for the ones already noted (a chief of legal councilors would seem odd to me, for example). Also, some departments may do well with rotating chiefs but others may not (each officer of my high school's Honor Society was president for a quarter but IMO the result was a lack of focus due to non-consistent leadership).
A better idea perhaps, would be to limit the number of consecutive terms somebody could be chief of a department before they have to take a term off. They would then have the choice between being a deputy for a term in the same or different department or to not be an officer at all for that time (in rare cases they could be chosen by the board to head a new special project or even start a new department). After a single term has passed, the person could try to compete for his/her old chief position again. That should prevent stagnation and encourage cross-training and fertilization among the various departments.
In addition, chiefs should never act outside the scope that the board sets for their role and should, whenever possible, work in conjunction with his/her deputies, other volunteers, and of course the board. I feel that officers should be a manual extension of the board with the board primarily acting as the foundation's policy-formulating body and the officers as the policy-implementing body. Thus the officers would be responsible for much of the day-to-day operation of the foundation (the officers can and will be expected to council the board but that would be the limit of their policy influence, which would be muted a bit since any foundation member should be able to express their views on foundation policy). --mav 11:42, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Special Interest Groups[edit]

A parallel proposal. +sj | Translate the Quarto | +

Community[edit]

  • Monitoring and reporting on community developments
  • Bringing together news and events in many subcommunities, to reduce splintering
    regular overviews of WikiProjects and Suggestions; coordination across internal publications
  • Polishing community surveys - actively finding out about community members
  • Matching new members with projects and small sub-communities that interest them
  • Adding more feedback loops : regular contests; user-page enhancements; statistics (See the Research group)
  • Promotion and coordination of embassies, celebrated translators, and cross-project initiatives
  • Coordinating recommendations to design, metadata, PR, software, and translation groups

Outreach[edit]

  • Encouraging chapter development and community gatherings
  • Providing kits and guidance for explaining the Wikimedia mission and introducing audiences to the projects
  • Campus contacts, network of student groups
  • Separate websites for Wikipedia promotion (cf. Firefox)
  • Coordinating presentations at libraries, schools, and conferences
  • Developing high-reliability demonstration servers for public presentations
  • Attracting new members to fill the most pressing community needs
  • Recomendations to community, translation, PR, design, logistics, software and hardware groups.

Translation[edit]

  • Coordination and updating of translation of key documents, articles, announcements and software.
  • Organization of unresolved translation issues, language concerns
  • Monitoring of available translators, active contact with multilingual contributors and partnering organizations
  • Fast translation of sensitive documents
  • Coordination of project-wide events (elections, gatherings, contests, policy changes)
  • Maintenance of MediaWiki and other software interfaces in all active project languages
  • Recomendations to community, classification, PR, logistics, and software groups.

Page Classification, Organization, Metadata[edit]

  • Site documentation. World-class introduction to Wikimedia.
  • Other documentation: MediaWiki, Meta
    Excellent documentation of Policy on the larger projects (as models for the others)
  • Analysis and revision of categories and templates
  • Recommendations to community, design, software, and translation groups

Design, usability[edit]

  • Sites, subprojects
  • Logos, banners, collateral : design and consistency
    Specialized collateral for meetings, events, etc.
  • General MediaWiki and site-specific user interfaces
  • Special attention to the most popular sites; optimization of information content and relevance
  • Structure and long-term development of major project pages (VP, VfD, RC, ...)
  • Recommendations to classification, publication, and PR groups

Publication, printing[edit]

  • CDs, DVDs : making an impress, creating covers and inserts
  • Business cards, collateral : production, budgeting
  • Presentations : posters, table-setups
  • Books, newsletters, broadsheets
  • Recommendations to PR, partnerships, metadata, software groups.

Public Relations[edit]

  • Translating and distributing new notices
  • Responding to published articles
  • Responding to correspondence: copyvio claims, complaints & praise (see OTRS or its replacement)
  • Maintaining case studies, testimonials, benefactors pages
  • Responding to requests for public presentations; talks about WM, WP, MW, community. (see Outreach group)
  • Recommendations to translation, printing, usability, partnership, and research groups.

Logistics, Bureaucracy & paperwork[edit]

  • Preparing formal documents, framing WM in the way expected by various bureaucracies (governments, the UN, granting orgs); preparing different views of WM collateral and statistics.
  • Preparing for chapters around the world : following local regulations and requirements
  • Document and documentation control; tracking official copyright, archive, and financial doc contacts
  • Tracking shipments and payments, distribution of mail and other campaigns
  • Recommendations to grants, metadata, printing, and translation groups.

Quality control, Contingency planning[edit]

  • Quality control, and recommendations for fault-tolerance, at many levels.
  • Maintaining contingency plans for many aspects of the foundation and each project
  • Regular analysis of developing policy / software / hardware infrastructure for exploitable weaknesses
  • Overseeing testing (testing suites, code/network reviews) for software and hardware
  • Drafting and implementing metrics for project success and popularity, the effects of grants, &c.
  • Recommendations to software, hardware, community, and legal groups.

Legal and copyright issues[edit]

  • Responding to requests for legal help
  • Processing legal complaints and threats
  • Interacting with lawyers on retainer in various countries
  • Preparing formal positions on copyright and other frequently requested issues
  • Slowly developing a world-class overview of copyright/copyleft law, sensitive to many local nuances (with partners)
  • Recommendations to logistics, partnerships, translation, wikihistory, and software groups.

Grants and partnerships[edit]

  • Identification, classification of opportunities
  • Rapid separation of public from semi-public aspects
    Maintenance of a transparent system that thrives primarily on public input and effort
  • Engaging interested non-profit employees and orgs in helping qualify and process these negotiations
  • Identifying academic, corporate, and international partnerships
    Expanding the reach of free knowledge and include exicting communities in Wikimedia's goals and dreams
  • Recommendations to bureaucracy, PR, outreach, software groups.

Research and WikiHistory[edit]

  • Coordination of research by community members into the Wikimedia communities
  • Maintenance of project autobiographies and histories; and archive snapshots
  • Collection and specifications for tools for mining statistics and tracking internal and external events
  • Preparation of papers for publication; presenting at conferences and seminars
  • Helping academic and corporate researchers get the data and tools they need to do external analysis
  • Historical and aggregate statistics
  • Recommendations to metadata, software, hardware (for collecting own stats), partnerships, and printing groups

Software[edit]

  • Road map/timeline of development and releases
    Beyond the next few months; a year and more out.
  • Prioritization of feature requests (multiple priority lists where there are significant disagreements)
  • Who is working on what; contact information and casual roadmaps for individual projects/devs
  • Who is available for what; collecting untapped developer resources in the community
  • Recommendations to outreach, hardware, grant, operations, quality control groups.

Hardware[edit]

  • Long-term solutions; preparing for a billion hits a day with special-interest groups that need high-reliability access for fixed periods of time.
  • Updating overviews of current and future hardward status
  • Rapid public analysis of anomalies and disasters.
  • Recommendations to outreach, software, and quality control groups.

Refactoring[edit]

moved to Talk:Official positions#Refactoring