Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Coordinate Across Stakeholders

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Governance documents[edit]

Where are the draft "living governance documents"? I can't believe we're now on the third iteration of a recommendation to create these and nobody has started anything we can discuss in concrete terms yet. Would someone who understands what they are supposed to say please start them? EllenCT (talk) 17:16, 21 January 2020 (UTC)

Heya User:EllenCT, they don't exist yet. The recommendation states that they should be created if this recommendation becomes part of the movement strategy along with the other outcomes. The focus of this consultation is on the recommendations, particularly the What, Why, and How. CKoerner (WMF) (talk) 17:25, 21 January 2020 (UTC)
@CKoerner (WMF): do you see any issues with trying to decide whether they are a good idea or not if nobody knows what they are supposed to say? EllenCT (talk) 17:27, 21 January 2020 (UTC)
User:EllenCT, not any more so than any of the other outcomes, no. If the preceding goals of the recommendation are changed through the process it's possible the outcomes will as well. We can't start drafting the outcomes if we don't agree to the what, why, and how. Given what the recommendation encompasses currently in those sections, do you think that "living governance documents" would be a positive expected outcome? Why or why not? That would be useful to understand. CKoerner (WMF) (talk) 17:32, 21 January 2020 (UTC)
@CKoerner (WMF): yes, because if I asked you whether you would support amending your country's Constitution to improve its government, but when you asked me "how?" I just said something like coordination between stakeholders, without specifying a proposed amendment text, would you be willing to give me that blank check? EllenCT (talk) 18:52, 21 January 2020 (UTC)
I'm sorry EllenCT, I don't understand the comparison. This recommendation is not asking to propose text. We're not there yet. If you said, I have a recommendation, here's why I think it's important, and how we might go about making a change, then I would consider discussing those elements before attempting a draft. CKoerner (WMF) (talk) 19:11, 21 January 2020 (UTC)
So let's say your homeowner's association decides that houses painted lime green are a blight on the neighborhood. Does it first pass a resolution saying to do something about it, and then if that passes decides to introduce a rule, or do they just go straight to proposing the rule? EllenCT (talk) 19:16, 21 January 2020 (UTC)
Ah, ok I think I understand the confusion. Part of this recommendation is proposing the community develop governance to support coordination across stakeholders. We're not at the point to introduce a resolution (to use your analogy). It's up to the community to define what guidelines would look like. Folks participating in the strategy process can't propose a resolution (again to use your analogy) if we havn't yet agreed that we even need to talk about house color. If we agree (through these recommendations) then next steps make sense. But again, we're not there yet. CKoerner (WMF) (talk) 20:08, 21 January 2020 (UTC)

@EllenCT: I don't think these strained political and business metaphors are particularly useful. Fundamentally what we are doing is a well understood thing - nonprofit strategy, even if we are doing it in a very unusual way, because our movement is unusually open and participative. So if you are looking for examples of how this kind of planning is usually done, why not look there? Here's Mozilla's and Creative Commons' recent strategy, for example. --Tgr (talk) 05:04, 22 January 2020 (UTC)

@Tgr: those are specific governance documents with specific texts. Are you saying our open and participatory nature should require people to endorse the idea of such governance documents in advance, without knowing what they say? EllenCT (talk) 14:20, 22 January 2020 (UTC)
Hi EllenCT, thanks for your comments on the recommendations. Many ideas in these recommendations have roots in community discussions far and wide. People have voiced the need for clear roles and responsibilities in the movement, a movement charter, global governance documents for offline entities, etc. Once it's agreed upon that indeed these documents are needed, then The Principles dictate how they can be developed. For me in particular, the principle of 'inclusive community development' fits the bill. Thanks for being here. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 23:06, 22 January 2020 (UTC)
What people? Where was the discussion held? When? Seraphimblade (talk) 11:30, 23 January 2020 (UTC)

What gets devolved?[edit]

Bluntly, I have significant concerns about devolving many aspects of the Community's part of Community/WMF decision-making authority. Let's say this group has 10 members, as any statistical significance modelling suggests happens, we can easily end up with major cases where 6 members support, even if only 1/3 of the actual Community does.

A consensus of members can change when they change their minds, but the members of any group can't be changed until the next electoral (or whatever) cycle comes round.

Obviously it's less clunky, but I'd rather change up how the community made it's massed decisions to be a bit quicker than hand off authority. Consider this an oppose unless and until someone gives me some good detail on how this group will flawlessly represent the actual global Community opinion. @CKoerner (WMF): may agree with me, that with past WMF and WMF-related decisions, there's been immense pressure to carry on once a project has started - that's why I think a change recommendation without at least some more detail of the specifics is non-viable.

As a secondary issue, "representation" (that's not quite ideal, but it gets the idea across) is likely to focus on representing as broad a range as possible, rather than more of a "pro rata" set-up. That has its benefits, but has some serious negatives attached. Nosebagbear (talk) 10:54, 23 January 2020 (UTC)

@Nosebagbear: FWIW mostly what gets devolved are powers held by the WMF now. The Technology Council would be the successor of TechCom which is made up of WMF staff selected by the WMF CTO (to be fair, any successor would probably still mostly consist of WMF staff, since the WMF tends to hire most highly experienced MediaWiki developers; but whether they are subordinate to a WMF executive or an elected movement governance body still makes a difference); the "emergent support structures" would be independent organizations focusing on a specific region or thematic area, closer in membership and background knowledge to the projects they serve, taking over some of the service functions of the WMF. There is this fictional notion of community autonomy, but in reality there is very little of it; code is law and most code is written with the communities at best having a veto right about it but no real say in what should be changed and how. And that is not just an issue of the WMF hoarding power, there are structural reasons for it which will require a strategic effort to fix: with decisionmaking power comes responsibility, and the current community decisionmaking mechanisms could not live up to that responsibility. Speed is the least of it.
These recommendations ask for the WMF to give up its hold on power where it has resulted in pain points (from software development to how grants and affiliate relationships are managed); for the wiki communities to do the same where their hold on power has resulted in pain points (in far fewer areas, comparatively; basically minimum standards of behavior which some projects have not been very successful at enforcing, and maybe some of the boundary-work that has resulted in the exclusion of marginalized systems of knowledge and where there seems to be a lack of willingness to even consider the prospect of change); and for a more intentional system of governance to be created, that ensures that the power is used responsibly, and the various actors within the movement seek consensus or at least compromise before exercising it.
Quite likely that would result in some decisions going against the opinion of some wiki community, where before the decisionmaking power was held by that community; and in some decisions going against the opinion of the WMF, where before that decisionmaking power was held by the WMF. I think there's reason to believe it would mostly happen where those opinions were wrong; neither the WMF nor the communities have a great track record of making decisions while taking into account perspectives other than their own. How the decisions are made is a much more important question than who makes them, in my opinion; currently we lack decisionmaking mechanisms which truly challenge groups arguing for some outcome to engage with opposing arguments.
(As an aside, thinking in terms of "1/3 of the community wants this" is also a convenient fiction. English Wikipedia, for example, has about a hundred thousand active editors today. In a typical RfC, a hundred of them might participate; if it's something absolutely groundbreaking, maybe a thousand. Is it even the same hundred or thousand people from time to time, or a different random (or not so random, depending on where and how it was advertised) sub-sample every time? I don't think anyone has bothered to check. And we have not even begun to talk about movement-wide decisionmaking, where there are hundreds of communities, language barriers, cultural barriers, different levels of involvement and different types of expertise (in a discussion about a software feature, how would you weigh the opinion of the developer community versus the affected wiki communities?) and so on.)
--Tgr (talk) 02:20, 26 January 2020 (UTC)
@Tgr: - without knowing what is wanted, to a good degree of accuracy, in a UCOC (I mean specifics, not the current mission statements), I simply would view that as an unacceptable trade of "pain points". I'm not sure if there's been research into how well an RfC respondent group gathers viewpoints from the community or if it's just the same bloc. I do know that RfAs have a surprisingly broad mix (it's not just the same 200 souls), so that would be an interesting bit of research. If it's a "how are decisions made", I'd rather have a broader discussion on how the various issues should be fixed rather than jumping to certain commitments for either side. Given the quality issues for several translations (plus the English) of some recommendations, starting with hiring some long-term WMF translators to cover 90% of the community during meta-discussions seems a good easy win. Nosebagbear (talk) 12:42, 26 January 2020 (UTC)

Some personal feedback below[edit]

In this recommendation and the previous one there are several mentions to a platform with good usability, multilingualism, etc. IMHO, we should continue supporting wiki platforms, where we excel, and bringing them to surpass current and new challenges, which we could also share to the world (under the 'working in open' philosophy) as a different way to share our values. If existing technologies not created 'by us' are considered, they should be more intimately integrated into our software stack and adopted by our technical team. A "Technology Council" could be a good proposal to help in that direction. As a suggestion, we should try to promote a more hacking spirit and Labs spaces could become an environment where we should try to trigger more innovation. --Toniher (talk) 22:38, 28 January 2020 (UTC)

Thanks for taking the time to provide this input. Do you mean, with the first part of your comment, that technological solutions should be solely integrated into existing platforms? As for the Lab space and hacking spirit, did you find the proposals in the recommendation Innovate in Free Knowledge to be fulfilling of your expectations? --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 18:57, 2 February 2020 (UTC).

"volunteer communities and other parts of the Movement"[edit]

"… there is a lack of harmony between the volunteer communities and other parts of the Movement." What exactly are the "other parts of the Movement" beyond paid staff and the Board? If all that is meant here is paid staff and the Board, then this is a very biased and backward wording: "Everyone is out of step except my Johnny." Volunteers are the bulk the community. If paid staff and volunteers are out of sync with one another, the burden of blame should not be on the volunteers, and the burden of solving the matter should not be on the volunteers. Could this could equally well be put as "… there is a lack of harmony between paid staff (and the Board) and other parts of the Movement"? If so, then there should be a much more neutral "… there is a lack of harmony between, on the one hand, the volunteer communities and, on the other, paid staff and the Board." If it means something else, then examples should be given of what "other parts of the Movement" means beyond paid staff and the Board. - Jmabel (talk) 17:33, 1 February 2020 (UTC)

I agree. The original thinking in the Roles & Responsibilities working group was that there was, on the whole, a 'lack of harmony' between different entities regardless of type. There are points of tension between WMF and project communities, yes. But also there are tensions between different project communities, between WMF and affiliates, between affiliates, and between affiliates and project communities. I feel the current wording does not capture this richness. It could also be read to imply that the problem is the volunteer communities, which is unhelpful. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 20:53, 1 February 2020 (UTC)
I see that this has in no way been addressed in the current draft, nor has it been in any way responded to. I hope that is not symptomatic of something broader. I don't have time to do another review of the whole set of documents this week. - Jmabel (talk) 16:47, 17 February 2020 (UTC)

Who will be the "stakeholders"?[edit]

Seems that this recommendation doesn't mention qualifications and/or guidelines of being a stakeholder. I'm also worried that big (multinational?) corporations and businesses (or business partners) from China, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other authoritarian countries will become stakeholders. I'm also worried that those spreading disinformation can become stakeholders. I'm also worried about how much stakeholders would impact highly-reputable and reliable publications and content from ongoing projects. Can anybody be a stakeholder, regardless of qualifications? Am I only one thinking that this recommendation is as vague as other recommendations, despite attempts to be "more concrete", like what someone at a live chat said? George Ho (talk) 20:43, 3 February 2020 (UTC)

No kidding. What happens if states or security agencies demand a "seat at the table"? Vexations (talk) 21:21, 3 February 2020 (UTC)

Which of these are fad phrases?[edit]

"equitable decision-making" peaked in 1982 and may be a fad phrase from the business world: ngram viwer results

"cooperation and collaboration" peaked in 1996 and may be a fad phrase from the business world: ngram viewer results

"unity of purpose peaked in 1943, but does not appear to be a fad phrase. For obvious reasons, though, it appeals to monists rather than pluralists. ngram viewer results

"Distributed leadership" peaked in 2006 and may be a fad phrase from the business world. ngram viewer results

"define our relationships" peaked in 2001 and is potentially a phrase term. ngram viewer results

"threats or opportunities" peaked in 1989 and may be a fad phrase from the business world. ngram viewer results

"support structures" peaked in 2006 and is potentially a fad phrase. ngram viewer results

"new functionalities" peaked in 2005 and may be a fad phrase. ngram viewer results

"internal knowledge peaked in 2006 and does not appear to be a fad phrase. ngram viewer

"goals and areas" peaked in 1979 (when smoothed; unsmoothed peaked in 1952), not sure if it was a fad phrase. ngram viewer results

"management of knowledge" peaked in 2005 and may be a fad term. ngram viewer results

"What Why How" appears to be a derivative of the so-called Hegelian triad, which I explained in more detail on this talk page: Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Plan_Infrastructure_Scalability.--Epiphyllumlover (talk) 04:10, 4 February 2020 (UTC)

There have been quite a few comments in that regard, and certainly this constant use of buzzwords doesn't help. All they need is to mention "cloud", "blockchain", and "NoSQL", and they could fill out every utterly useless meeting I've ever sat through. After reading these documents, I really have no clearer idea what it is they're actually proposing than before I read them. Seraphimblade (talk) 17:26, 5 February 2020 (UTC)
It seems that someone read your comment, and mine, and posted on the Wikipedia posting of my above comment. I responded to it. Here is the link to the parallel discussion on wikipedia: [1].--Epiphyllumlover (talk) 06:14, 6 February 2020 (UTC)

3 questions about the Communication channels[edit]

Hi! Concerning the way information will be conveyed in the movement :

  • will a common dashboard (a kind of "Wikidata Com") be created to list all the ongoing projects and events of the movement ?
  • For the communication channels, will you take in account the language barrier ? The biggest unrepresented community in the movement are the non-speaking english people. Access to the global movement infos, projects and structures is generally conditioned by good skills in english. This prevents a lot of people to participate to decision. So will there be a corrective to this gap by promoting communication channels in local languages ?
  • For passing the infos from the english speaking common channel to the language groups and vice versa, will you train facilitators (messengers) who will convey infos from one to other channel in order to make the discussion more "universal" ?

Thanks --Waltercolor (talk) 10:33, 9 February 2020 (UTC)

3 questions about the Technology Council[edit]

Hi! There are only 2 mentions of the Technology Council in the document, but it seems to be an important body in order to improve the service for sharing free knowledge.

  • Which kind of body is this Council ? A consultative body, a regulating body, a decision making body ?
  • How many seats and how determined ?
  • Will third parties have also seats in the Technology Council ?

--Waltercolor (talk) 10:45, 9 February 2020 (UTC)

Highlights from the Spanish and Catalan/Valencian Conversations - Coordinate Across Stakeholders[edit]

The recommendation was perceived as reiterative and with little new things. Everything had been discussed in previous points. That made people show little interest in discussing same things again.

When it comes to the Valencian Salon, it was nice to hear about flexible parts, for the reasons explained in 5: Amical doesn’t fits any of the existing regional agents, and is not the only agent in this situation.

Technology Council: On one hand, interesting for solving the development issues in our platforms we already know. On the other hand, it is an individual thing, which could be set up by other bodies of representation. There are doubts why Technology is so important to have more weight (a specific council) than other functions of the movement (for other editors, it is logical because of the problems that a 15-year old platform has). Complaints of possible bureaucracy. “If there is a Tech council, why not more council about more issues?” (they don’t want more councils).

When it comes to coordination with external partners: see safety. We would save time, money and profit.--FFort (WMF) (talk) 16:41, 13 February 2020 (UTC)

That's nice but irrelevant. If they'd like to participate in the conversation, invite them to join it here. Seraphimblade (talk) 01:23, 15 February 2020 (UTC)

Feedback from Hindi Community members for Coordinate Across Stakeholders Recommendation[edit]

Six users agreed technology council would be able to ensure better management of the existing resources and missing gaps, a centralized council is needed for equity in projects and their language versions. Five users supported for Wikimedia develop emergent support structures, for effective coordination for regional, or thematic focuses. It was mentioned by one user that emergent support structures should only be implemented in a way that can be opted out by affiliates if they need to. RSharma (WMF) (talk) 15:22, 14 February 2020 (UTC)

That's nice but irrelevant. If they'd like to participate in the conversation, invite them to join it here. Seraphimblade (talk) 01:23, 15 February 2020 (UTC)