Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Working Groups/Roles & Responsibilities/Recommendations

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Different format[edit]

Hi, the format of the recommendations of the Roles & Responsibilities working group differs from the recommendations of the other working groups. What is the rationale for this difference? What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make these recommendations? What will change because of your recommendations? Who specifically will be influenced by these recommendations? Could these recommendations have a negative impact/change? What could be done to mitigate these risks? Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 08:42, 10 August 2019 (UTC)

It's pretty simple, we just didn't fill in the recommendations document provided by the core team at this point, because we've not published anything that doesn't have almost-complete consensus within the group. There is plenty of work continuing within the group about further developing and iterating these recommendations, and all of it will end up being complete before the 'harmonisation' of recommendations across groups in September. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:21, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
Obviously, after the public feedback closes ~September 15. Winged Blades of Godric (talk) 19:28, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
Are there any Roles and Responsibilities recommendations you actually disagree with, or are concerned about? if so please do say which and why, we would be interested to hear from you :) (Hopefully, there is enough rationale in these recommendations for people to understand them - looking at other groups' recommendations and the responses to them, I am unsure that a much longer document would necessarily help...) Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:34, 11 August 2019 (UTC)
I will leave a note, soon. FWIW, I heavily appreciate you making a genuine attempt to engage with the feedback, in a constructive manner. For reasons unknown to me, folks from other groups are yet to appear and explain/clarify any stuff; despite receiving a barrage of criticism/queries and getting pinged. So, Thank you :-) Winged Blades of Godric (talk) 09:24, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

Dealing with opposing interests[edit]

Decentralizing decision making also has a downside. You don't appear to address that different distributed decision makers can have opposite interests, and how that is dealt with in Power and responsibilities. Or am I misreading/barking up the wrong tree? I could see it related to recommendation #3, but not that explicitly. Siebrand (talk) 20:53, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

Also from a more meta-level view, many/most of the recommendations made by other working groups conflict with the core premise of decision-making at the lowest level and empowering individual communities to govern themselves. Most models discussed, particularly relating to community health, have been done from a top-down perspective. – Ajraddatz (talk) 22:13, 11 August 2019 (UTC)

The starfish or the spider[edit]

Title of a book about the internet. Positive about Wikipedia for being a model for radical decentralization. Once upon a time everybody knew Wikimedia was about empowering individuals. Somehow the offline side has gotten too centralized, and that can be remedied. However there remains a rift between autonomous online communities and offline organizations. How will this movement strategy process ever gonna ompact online communities? Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 19:44, 12 August 2019 (UTC)

Welcome... caution... concern[edit]

Here are my responses as I read through the "recommendations":

  • I broadly welcomed 1&2, as they acknowledge part of the problem with the WMF and indicate a move away from the centralisation of power and decision-making.
  • Welcoming became caution at 3, which introduces the notion of a "charter", without addressing the key question: what would the status of this charter be? Would it be binding, like the terms of use? Would it be advisory? Something else?
  • Caution had turned to concern by 6, which states: "expectations with respect to diversity will be one of the principles that will be included in the charter". This sounds a lot like the '40% female, 40% male, 20% various' proposal at Diversity/Recommendations/4, which is both a bad idea and unenforceable.
  • After reading the whole thing, and having read most of the other working groups' "recommendations", my overall feeling about the Roles & Responsibilities "recommendations" is confusion. The other working groups largely advocate greater centralisation of power, less subsidiarity, more top-down enforcement. This working group starts by seeming to oppose that (1&2), then, as a little more detail is revealed, it appears to support greater centralisation (not explicitly, but the proposals would require it). Overall, these "recommendations" are the most level-headed of the ones that I've read, as they appear to be based on the 2030 strategy without having been hijacked by special interest groups pushing an agenda... but their contradictions and lack of clarity make me at least cautious, and leaning towards concerned. Expanding on the nature, not just the scope, of the proposed charter is necessary. EddieHugh (talk) 11:26, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Broadly, I agree with EddieHugh. I'm really not sure what even is being proposed here, or what things would look like afterwards if this proposal were to be implemented. It could do with a great deal more detail. Seraphimblade (talk) 12:51, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
Hi @EddieHugh! Thank you for the comments. Broadly, our recommendations are shaped by the observations that organisations which have a high level of trust and independence for individual actors also have a common shared understanding of values, principles and expected behaviours, and that everyone in this kinds of organisations holds everyone else accountable for how well they comply with those values, principles and behaviours. At present there is not really a shared statement of those values and principles, let alone a shared understanding or an active commitment to them, within the movement - which underpins many of the tensions within the movement at the moment. Hence the need for the charter.
Re point 6: There is some overlap here - what we are saying is that we as a movement should expect that any movement organisation should take steps to ensure that its governing body (or equivalent) is diverse and representative of the communities it seeks to serve. We haven't gone as far as the Diversity recommendation you refer to, because there will be many different entities with a range of size and maturity, and operating in very different contexts where diversity means different things. Speaking personally, I think something like a guideline that mature movement organisations (the size of the WMF or larger chapters) should aim to have at least 40% women on their boards would be helpful, as part of an overall set of expectations - but the recommendation as drafted is simply that these kinds of expectations should be created and mutually agreed on. And our recommendation is more limited in scope as it does not apply to online communities, only movement organisations. [I mean, I'd also encourage people to think about how to encourage more diverse groups of administrators and functionaries, but that isn't among the R&R draft recommendations]
And @Seraphimblade - yes, our current work is developing this in more detail. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 12:57, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
The Land: thank you for responding. I noticed that you didn't mention the nature of the charter, so assume that there is no agreement on that within the working group. A question: you say that "our recommendation ... does not apply to online communities, only movement organisations"... does that apply to the whole set of "recommendations" here? If so, I suggest making that clear and spelling out what "movement organisations" covers. EddieHugh (talk) 20:35, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
When you say "nature", can you expand on what you mean? I'm not quite clear. And Recommendation 6 is the only one we have explicitly limited in scope to movement organisations, though I think it's fair to say our thinking is that many of the other recommendations have different meanings (or at least different influence on) project communities as compared to organisations. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 21:04, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
"Nature"... as I wrote above: "what would the status of this charter be? Would it be binding, like the terms of use? Would it be advisory? Something else?" In other words, would everyone be obliged to follow it, with repercussions for not doing so? This looks like the crux that will show whether you're really going down the subsidiarity/local autonomy path, or the centralisation of power path. EddieHugh (talk) 22:53, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
Ah, thanks. In short, it would be a deeply embedded, guiding document - think the equivalent of a constitution, or the Pillars of Wikipedia. What we have in mind is something with sufficiently broad acceptance that anyone taking part in the movement can hold anyone else to account if they aren't reflecting it. It would then provide the framework to enable the level of trust that decentralising decision-making requires. Some corollaries of this are that - firstly the document will be written at a very high level, secondly, that the process of creating it might well need to be another step broader and more collaborative than the whole strategy process already is. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 07:06, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

A new charter?[edit]

I was under the impression that the Wikipedia projects have already fundamental principles which can be considered as a charter: five pillars (en:wp, goes back to 2005 when they were announced as five unchangeable pillars – which in turn were based on the statement of principles which was first published on 27 October 2001), Grundprinzipien (de:wp, goes back to 27 May 2003 as translation from en:wp), principes fondateurs (fr:wp, goes back to 16 April 2004), and many more. These foundations are universally accepted among all Wikipedia projects, they are easy to read, to understand, and to communicate. They are the foundations which not only made the tremendous success of the Wikipedia projects possible but where also the volunteers trust that they remain indeed unchangeable. Please do not attempt to replace this. --AFBorchert (talk) 15:23, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

Personally I see the movement charter as probably supplementing, rather than replacing, those statements of principles. For example, the Pillars of Wikipedia don't provide much guidance about how to handle a discussion between the WMF and the English Wikipedia, or between the English Wikipedia and Wikidata, or between the Foundation and the affiliates. IT's no accident that these are the conversations that are often difficult and sometimes verging on catastrophic. So the need for something at a broader and deeper level. (Also, I find it very hard to think that Civility is one of the fundamental principles of Wikipedia, or that Wikipedia has no fixed rules.... really? I had not really seen Jimbo's original 8 principles, thank you for sharing them - also I don't believe the English Wikipedia currently follows his principles 1,2,3, 7 or 8 at the moment and 4 has scarcely been widely observed either...) Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 15:42, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
It is quite natural that the fundamental principles or a charter do not address everything. They provide something like a constitution where changes are hard or impossible. The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, for example, includes an eternity clause (article 79 (3)) according to which articles 1 to 20 must never be touched in any way. I think that we should treat the five pillars in a similar fashion and we must make sure that any recommendation which is possibly to be introduced as policy will not be in conflict to these pillars. Statements like [t]he classic notion of an encyclopaedia and ‘universal knowledge’ needs to be discarded (recommendation # 2 of the diversity WG) let many volunteers wonder in which direction we are heading here ([1], [2]). It is surely helpful to consider how to handle the relationship between WMF and the individual projects. A proposal was made by Tinz beginning with [t]he WMF must respect the fundamental principles of the projects which found a lot of support so far. The civility pillar titled Wikipedia's editors should treat each other with respect and civility should provide the foundation for strategy discussions in regard to community health and diversity. I really wonder why the role of these pillars appears nowhere to be recognized in these recommendations (beside the infamous recommendation to discard the classic notion of an encyclopaedia). The pillar Wikipedia has no firm rules – or more traditionally ignore all rules makes sure that we stay pragmatic (we are not wiki lawyers) and have no problem with beginner's mistakes. This is an important part of the welcoming culture where we help but do not bite newcomers. I still think that from Jimbo's old list 3 should still apply even if this has been restricted in the past (IPs and beginners can no longer create articles at en:wp, reviewing of pending changes at de:wp, protected pages) but this recommendation would effectively kill this principle if every edit by an IP has to begin with the formal acceptence of a lengthy code of conduct. This would put the principles of our pillars upside down. Until now, we raise as few barriers as possible for newcomers and provide an explanation or warning if a policy is violated with a reference to it. This practice follows IAR and Jimbo's principles #3 and #4. The recommendation would raise the barrier (by having to read, to understand, and to accept the whole CoC) and provides a different background in case of violations: “You did this despite having formally accepted the CoC before.” I do not think that this helps in the regard of a more welcoming environment and I do not think that we should transfer safe space rules which are important for real-life meetings to our virtual collaboration. I agree that Jimbo's principles 7 and 8 should indeed find more consideration than lately. --AFBorchert (talk) 16:53, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
I think this risks straying off the topic a little. I did see the proposal that there ought to be "terms of use" for the WMF or whatever, and am sort of scratching my head about it. I (speaking personally and not at all for the working group) would certainly agree that the Foundation has often not been great at working with the community. But also I do not see a future where different Wikimedia projects continue to work in this kind of splendid isolation where they never talk to each other or to the WMF or whatever replaces it. I think what everyone should be aiming to work for is a kind of active, mutually respectful partnership.
Also I have to say I really do not recognise anything in the English Wikipedia at the moment that is welcoming to newcomers, and I do not see very much of anyone being treated with respect or civility, and only the faintest hints of Ignore All Rules in amongst tonnes of bureaucracy and wikilawyering. I would treat the argument that we should use the five pillars of Wikipedia as a starting point much more compelling if the English Wikipedia collectively seemed to be paying much attention to them. But, as someone who's edited the English Wikipedia for over 15 years, one after the other seems just to have been forgotten. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:00, 13 August 2019 (UTC)
Sorry for straying further off, but not talking to each other is not at all what I meant. Interwiki communication is hard, not everyone can and wants to discuss in english. Reading something like this is really interesting, but in svwiki and nlwiki most people speak english very well.
I would love it if the WMF would invest some resources (especially translators) into some kind of major community survey where regular editors (not so much the people active in the chapters) of say the largest 30 Wikipedias are asked to describe their communities, what they think is special about them, what do they perceive as their largest problems, what were important moments in their history, how do they rate the level of civility in their Wikipedia, maybe also some fun stuff like the weirdest editwar in their history. If the results would be consolidated on meta that would be extremely interesting for many people to read, maybe even for the community teams at WMF. And this could trigger change, which I do think has to come from within the communities, not in the form of rules imposed by the WMF. --Tinz (talk) 11:06, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

Editors have donated a large amount of labor to produce works that generate $100 million per year in donations, and donors have made a financial investment based upon certain assumptions regarding commitment to quality and to fairness. "Equity" means many different things to many people, but it must mean fairness to the people who have made these investments and have sacrificed to get the movement to this point. What provisions in the proposed charter will address equity toward the existing stakeholders? Hlevy2 (talk) 07:23, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

What is the timetable to publish this draft?[edit]

This is one of the Working Groups whose reccommendations I've most interest in reading. is there any proposed timetable to publish them, so that discussion can start? Also, how does this agree with the timetable already set by the core team, where a final set of recommendations is going to be published by October? Will there be any space for discussion for this WG recommendations?--- Darwin Ahoy! 11:53, 15 August 2019 (UTC)

Some thoughts on a global governance body[edit]

In the past, one of the working group members highlighted how inconsistent participation on volunteer bodies across the movement is. Have best practices or options for addressing this deficiency in a global governance body been explored? (This is potentially at a more operational level than what is currently being presented) – Ajraddatz (talk) 10:19, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

Models now available and one question answered.[edit]

I've just added the three draft structural models that we are looking at - these were still being workshopped on Thursday, hence the delay to uploading them.

One question we have already been asked off-wiki is:

"Where do existing movement organisations (WMF, chapters, user groups, Thematic Organisations) fit within these models? Will they continue as currently, or be disbanded, renamed or have different roles? What will they be called?"

This answer comes with some caveats as we have not much discussed how any of these models would be implemented - the path to reaching any new structural model would be complicated and require a lot of detailed thought, but that is not our current focus.

We envisage that existing organisations will find a home in the new structure and provide an important contribution to the future success of the movement, though possibly organised in quite a different way to the present. Abandoning them would be an obvious waste of expertise and commitment.

Of the 3 models Elgafar is closest to the status quo and is the least specific about the role and nature of future movement organisations. It's pretty easy to see existing affiliates continuing in this model in much the same form, though not necessarily with the chapter/thorg/UG distinction, and working in a different environment for recognition, resource allocation which might prompt affiliates to redefine their own purpose and scope.

Situla and Quotiel are more prescriptive about the nature of movement organisations and existing affiliates would need to define how they would evolve into that structure. It's easy to see many UGs being "teams" in Situla, or chapters becoming 'support structures' and chapter networks becoming 'Regional Hubs' in Quotiel. But there would not be a 1-1 match between existing and future organisations, there would inevitably be a complicated set of transformations as existing entities merged or split or changed scope and new ones were created.

It's also clear that in any of these models there would be significant changes to the scope of the WMF. All models include an entity that does many of the things that the WMF currently does, but also many areas of the WMF's current work would in future be performed by different entities. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:53, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

@The Land: how are we supposed to answer questions like, "The Charter lays out the fundamental purpose, rules and processes that govern the Movement. ( )Agree ( )Disagree ( )Other:______," when we don't even know what the proposed Charter says yet? And that is just the first question when every single one of them are in the same format. These are hopelessly specific for plans which have not yet been implemented. Why not ask people's opinions of the structures themselves, their implications, and suitability, instead of impossible true/false questions speculating on specific parts which have not yet been described? Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate and have a great deal of respect for the charts, as org charts, and I would be very happy to see a survey which can actually be answered. But there is simply no way anyone can honestly respond to any of the questions that you have posed about all three. EllenCT (talk) 00:20, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
@EllenCT: - Hi Ellen - I think we're looking for the feedback that you want to give, we've just tried to set this up in a way that will help us focus on the parts of each model that are most controversial or challenging. Using the "Other" sections to highlight complexities, risks or dependencies you see is really valuable input. Or if you find the survey format entirely offputting then feel free to post here and we can consolidate that with the feedback that's coming through the forms. Thanks! Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 15:01, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
@The Land: First, let me suggest the survey that I think you want. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I dug a little further and I'm pretty sure someone just copied headings and propositions from the three proposals, and made each of them into those Agree/Disagree/Other questions. Even if it were possible to answer questions such as whether some TBD document fulfilled its proposed purpose, which again it is not, that would still not provide information about how to evaluate and improve the proposals. Here's what you want:
For each of the three orginizational structure proposals:
(I-III A) How would this organizational structure improve the Movement?
(I-III B) How would this organizational structure limit the Movement from achieving its mission?
(I-III C) How could this organizational structure be improved to better achieve the Mission?
(I-III D) What unintended consequences might this organizational structure entail?
(I-III E) On a scale of 1 to 5, what is your opinion of the suitability of this organizational structure?
(I-III F) Which specific parts of this organizational structure do you like the most, and why?
(I-III G) Which specific parts of this organizational structure do you like the least, and why?
(I-III H1-H16) [Sixteen likert 1 to 5 response questions:] Please indicate on a scale of 1 to 5, whether you believe this organizational structure will help or hinder {improvements to the Projects, technology maintenance, technology development, resource allocation, revenue generation, contributor diversity, conflict resolution, community health, capacity building, volunteer development and recognition, community organization, affiliate support, partnerships, outreach efforts, event support, and education efforts}.
As for my opinion, I will gladly fill out such a survey if you make it, but for now I will just repeat what I wrote on WP:JIMBOTALK: I like Situla because it elevates ombuds to highest echelon status, far better than disparate line worker community liaisons. I don't like Quotiel because it doesn't and therefore isn't worth the re-org. EllenCT (talk) 04:17, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

Survey requires a Google account[edit]

The surveys appear not to allow responses except from those signed in to a Google account. Presumably this wasn't intentional? --Yair rand (talk) 18:29, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

So it does. No, our intention is not to only gather feedback from people with Google accounts. Apologies, I will pass this on!! Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:04, 18 August 2019 (UTC)
I came here to make the same point so I will make it. I have managed to a avoid a centralised Google account for many years and don’t want to have to create one to participate. Thanks. Mccapra (talk) 04:38, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
@Yair rand:, @Mccapra: - sorted now, thank you for pointing this out. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 08:34, 19 August 2019 (UTC)
Great thank you. Mccapra (talk) 08:45, 19 August 2019 (UTC)