Jump to content

Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Values

Add topic
From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Latest comment: 4 years ago by Omotecho in topic Stable version?

Wisdom over excellence


I'd suggest the first value be modified to "We strive for wisdom" - excellence is overrated, and rather too generic and corporate-esque. Wisdom takes more time, but it's generally worth it.--Pharos (talk) 03:01, 24 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

Hi there, the reason that we chose excellence over wisdom, is that we thought that wisdom is a state of mind that we should inhabit, but it is not an outcome. We need to also stay focused on outcomes. I see wisdom as necessary to even come close to excellence. AStillwell (WMF) (talk) 05:15, 28 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

I'm baffled by the absence of any mention of accuracy, verifiability, facts, quality, or even education. While it's not really a word, at least the current "Values" page calls out a "commitment to scientificity." --MZMcBride (talk) 04:13, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Max, first of all it is worth clarifying that these values are for the Wikimedia Foundation - not for the movement or any particular project. Secondly, to me "accuracy, verifiability, facts, quality, . . . education" are traits of excellence, or contribute to excellence. In the framing of this values process, we tried to articulate that the values should be core and intrinsic: "To identify our intrinsic beliefs, we can ask "Why is this a good thing?" If it's a good thing because it's in service of something else that is good, we can repeat the process. If it's a good thing because it "just is", we have reached a core intrinsic value." Why are accuracy, verifiability, facts, quality, education important? In my opinion the core, intrinsic reasons those are valuable are captured in "excellence" as well as the other values we arrived at. Thinking about this from the perspective of the WMF, does this shift what you're articulating here at all? Awjrichards (WMF) (talk) 18:32, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Excellence (def.) – "Something in which one excels" – is rather meaningless if you don't specify what that something is. Excellence in the acquisition of wisdom? How about excellence in the commission of vandalism? Vandalism that goes undetected and unreverted for years is "excellent" vandalism. "We strive for excellence." Period. Right. Wbm1058 (talk) 17:17, 21 April 2017 (UTC)Reply

Lost in translation


I love this work, its outcome, and the words and tone used to bring it out to the world. Every single line of these values talks to me, even those that show what they aren't (and I am a big fan of positive statements over negative ones, but I find you have captured those excellently). The only thing I am worried about, and really worried about, is the fact that some of these things are untranslatable. I am not sure they should ever be translated, but there are so many precise concepts and words that exist in English, and don't exist in any of the languages I speak (granted, that's not many), that I am worried that we will struggle trying to do the very thing we're trying to achieve here, ie. share our values so that people understand us and why we are doing things. I see two levels here. Anna mentionned in her Metrics presentation that the headlines were meant to be read with their accompanying texts, so these are the two levels: the headlines (or values) and their text. In the headlines, if I refer to my native tongue (French), here are the words/concepts that don't translate adequately, for example: "strive". "We are in this together". In the texts, along the sentences, I find it hard to translate "steward", "thrive", "runs deeper", "strive" (again), "revere" (actually, it's more of a difficult word for non-English speakers than a word difficult to translate, at least in French), "awe", "ponder". I have no good solution to what I am pointing out here. I don't particularly think this should be changed, but I thought I would point it out. If these values are ever to be translated, make sure that they are by people who not only speak the languages they are translated in well, but also really understand who we are and why we are doing things. Thanks. Delphine (WMF) (talk) 07:51, 28 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

Such a good point, Delphine. Can I get you to join the group on how to embed these in the employee lifecycle? An integral part of that work could be how we would convey the spirit of these words through translation, rather than a literal translation. I'd love to see these in different languages and work with translators to convey the spirit. AStillwell (WMF) (talk) 07:28, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

The trap of the word "help"


I am not a big fan of the word "help". Maybe it's because I am a mother, and I know my kids like to do things alone and when I say "I'll help you", I feel I am depriving them of some autonomy they are longing for as they grow. Maybe it's because I have found myself often on the receiving end of "help" in the Wikimedia Movement, as bigger, smarter, older orgs and people were offering "help" to orgs I worked with or myself. It's one thing to ask for help - it shows humility, and another to offer it- I think it often shows condescendance rather than the compassion and empathy it is trying to convey. Therefore I have read and read again the bit in the "We welcome and cherish our differences" that says: "We encourage others to do what we can't, and we help them succeed" and I am a bit stuck on the word help here. I think I see exactly what is meant there. And I like it. It is, in this case, definitely about humility (encourage others to do what we can't). But we help them. How about something like we give them all we have, so that they succeed (it's probably not super well phrased, but hopefully you get the meaning)? Just because help is always this double edged sword. I don't know if I'm overthinking this, just putting this out there. Delphine (WMF) (talk) 07:51, 28 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

Work together? · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 13:49, 28 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Yeah, interesting perspective. I see your point. Let's all think about it. I like your suggestions. AStillwell (WMF) (talk) 07:30, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Thank you


Just that. Thank you for this work. Merci. Delphine (WMF) (talk) 07:51, 28 February 2017 (UTC)Reply



I'm struggling to see the subject-space page as an improvement over the current "Values" text. While the draft text mentions that "we iterate our way toward making the world a better place," where is this happening, exactly? I don't see any iteration here: <https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Values/2016_discussion/Synthesis&action=history>. The whole document seems to be a complete rewrite of the past (2008) page, which is pretty much the opposite of iteration. Many of the good parts have been removed without explanation. --MZMcBride (talk) 04:11, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Wiki spirit


Where is the wiki spirit in this draft text? The page history makes it look like a few Wikimedia Foundation staffers drafted this document in a Google Doc somewhere and then dumped it on Meta-Wiki. Where are the wiki links? There's no mention of wiki at all in the text. If this document really wants to harp on about who we (whoever "we" is, it's unclear) are, which I would refer to as identity, how is "wiki" not included? Wiki is central to Wikimedia's identity. Here we are at Meta-Wiki. The most famous project is Wikipedia. There's a Wikimedia Foundation. All of the projects are powered by MediaWiki. And yet the wiki spirit, the wiki identity, is completely missing from this draft, both in style and in substance. Where's the call to be bold? Is that not a value?

More to the point: is there anything in this draft text that's specific to Wikimedia? Every sentence I read sounds as generic as possible and could apply to many organizations and groups of people. "We strive for excellence." is the kind of language you would read in a marketing brochure for a consulting firm. How is this text capturing Wikimedia's values? --MZMcBride (talk) 04:23, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

In discussion elsewhere, it's becoming clearer that this text is intended to apply to the Wikimedia Foundation, not the broader Wikimedia movement, for better or worse. It's perhaps fitting, in this light, that the text reflects such a divorce from wiki culture and spirit. This is a worrying trend—the separation of wiki culture and values from Wikimedia Foundation Inc.—but it's not really fair to blame this text for that large underlying problem. The draft text is a symptom. When Anthere wrote the Values text in 2008, there wasn't much of a Wikimedia Foundation to speak for (it was just starting to grow in December 2007 and into 2008), but there was a large Wikimedia community, and I think she captured many of the community's values. A possible mitigation might be to move/rename this page to make its title clearer. Maybe Wikimedia Foundation values or similar. We could also keep the current Values text, but put it elsewhere. --MZMcBride (talk) 05:02, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Max, these values are indeed for the Wikimedia Foundation. Every group has its own distinct set of values, whether or not they are formally articulated. The WMF values are not necessarily separate from Wikimedia movement values, but they are certainly distinct from them. Since they are WMF-specific, the process for formally articulating the org's values was indeed mostly, thought not exclusively (hence the discussion here on meta, as an example), internal. Awjrichards (WMF) (talk) 20:30, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply
They are indeed for the Wikimedia Foundation. To be consistent with comments I made elsewhere, this page and the header page should state that more clearly. Delphine (WMF) (talk) 08:57, 2 March 2017 (UTC)Reply
@Guillaume (WMF): I still think that this page should be called "Wikimedia Foundation's values" and not "Values". I find it also kind of weird that the history (histories?) of this page has been moved to a subpage, I would have found it much more accurate for history's sake to keep the changes here and do a copy paste of this iteration on a page with the full history. The page "Values" might be a hub to the different iterations and reflections, rather than have the values of the Wikimedia Foundation on them and if not, it still should have the full history (and you might then copy paste the different iterations on sub pages for legibility sake). Delphine (WMF) (talk) 15:37, 21 April 2017 (UTC)Reply
In the wiki's spirit, I plan to revert [1] based on broad consensus on this page, and move the text to another title. Nemo 07:39, 2 June 2017 (UTC)Reply
Delphine (WMF): I'm fine with moving everything to Wikimedia Foundation Values; I prefer conciseness but I can live with that. I don't understand yet what you mean about the page history; I was told to keep a separate version of the 2008 text instead of simply replacing it on this page. Could you rephrase what you propose so I better understand the alternative you're talking about? Guillaume (WMF) (talk) 14:42, 2 June 2017 (UTC)Reply
Guillaume (WMF) Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. On the road and all. The history bit means that what used to be the values of the whole movement have been moved to a subpage and the history of our thinking about values is thus somewhat hidden from view. Since these are supposed to be the Foundation's values, I think that we should keep the original value page as a hub of different things that happened around the values. So you'd have: Values with the page history of Values/2008 and as a hub to a page that would display a link to Wikimedia Foundation Values and Values/2008 (with a copy/paste of the 2008 set of values). Delphine (WMF) (talk) 09:50, 16 June 2017 (UTC)Reply
Thanks Asaf for the move; the title can be further improved. In updating the WMF wiki, as suggested below, I used the title Wikimedia Foundation staff interaction values, to fit the text, which mostly talks about how people work together at the Wikimedia Foundation. There might be more specific words to describe the content, though.
I agree with Delphine, better to move the larger chunk of editing history from Values/2008 to Values (can some sysop proceed please?). The text describes movement-wide values (freedom, accessibility and quality, independence, openness and diversity, transparency, community) which pretty much define what Wikimedia is about, although the text under each title mostly describes WMF's part in working towards that value (for instance uptime). --Nemo 15:18, 19 June 2017 (UTC)Reply

Substance issues


"The sum of all knowledge for every single human being; we can’t do that by leaving people out."

What is this about? We regularly leave people out, often quite intentionally (cf. w:en:Special:Log/block). We deal with all kinds of people who should not be editing our projects, whether they're too stupid, too malicious, etc.

"Our vision is about more than providing universal access to all forms of knowledge. It’s about creating an inclusive culture."

What is this about? Since when is creating an inclusive culture a part of Wikimedia's vision? Some of this text feels like certain individuals pushing their own agendas instead of trying to capture Wikimedia's values. --MZMcBride (talk) 04:28, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

We spoke to 110 people. Staff, volunteers, board members. We had two-hour long conversations with all of them. I am fairly certain that this is not the agenda of one person or small subgroup and I am fairly certain that we have captured the Wikimedia Foundation's values. AStillwell (WMF) (talk) 07:36, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply
I agree completely with all of MZMcBride's above points. --Yair rand (talk) 17:57, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply
Anna, if you would like to test your organization's commitment to inclusive culture and not leaving people out, float a trial balloon at the office next week by announcing, "We're going to invite Gregory Kohs to San Francisco to sit down with him and ask questions about how we begin to recognize the critics of our movement in our inclusiveness." Let me know how that goes. Ping me. - Thekohser (talk) 18:09, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply
Hello MZMcBride. Inclusive, as I understand it, means that a priori we do not leave anyone out. We don't block people before they come onto the projects because they have blue eyes, they speak French or have voted this or that in the last election, we block them because they have harmed the projects or are detrimental to what we're doing. We block them for things they have done (OK, IP range blocks may be an exception but they are not the norm). As I see it, being inclusive is a state of mind, people should feel welcome to start with. This is about assuming good faith, and making sure that the mechanisms we develop to welcome people don't leave anyone out. This might also mean for example paying attention to accessibility etc.. I am not sure how you read this as being someone's agenda. But since you are, let me ask, whose agenda? To what purpose? How is being inclusive a negative thing? I read your words and I feel you're angry, and I don't understand why. Can you maybe try and explain so that I understand where you come from? Thanks. notafish }<';> 09:04, 2 March 2017 (UTC)Reply
Indeed. Thekohser seems to have anticipated his own banning. No charges. No public hearing. What has Thekohser done that has harmed the projects or was detrimental to what we're doing? Will the Foundation say? "When voices are absent, ignored, or silenced, we seek them out." Right. I am displeased with this ban, and will continue to seek out Thekohser's voice by reading his comments posted in other forums. The Foundation's actions belie its words. I urge the Foundation to either explain this ban or reverse it. Wbm1058 (talk) 17:53, 21 April 2017 (UTC)Reply
110 people doesn't seem much. The original values have been discussed with the entire community, AFAIK. Also, "Staff, volunteers, board members" seems to focus a lot on WMF stuff, so it would be better to call the text a WMF-only thing. Nemo 07:38, 2 June 2017 (UTC)Reply



Although I don't disagree with these values, I feel that they are missing important ones out (particularly surrounding education/learning, and free licenses/easy dissemination; in fact, the "freedom", "transparency" and "community" parts of the current values capture the things I'm worried are missing here quite well). But I guess these are the principles for the Wikimedia Foundation rather than the Wikimedia movement, which is a bit more of a special case. Plus it's a bit late to try to introduce new aspects into this document.

These thoughts make sense, Michael. We see the foundation as having four founding documents: the vision, the mission, the guiding principles, and the values. Many of your concerns are covered in the guiding principles and are not going anywhere. Let me know if you have further questions. AStillwell (WMF) (talk) 06:07, 2 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

So instead, can I focus on another point: this document really needs a good copyediting. There are sentence fragments everywhere, unnecessarily short sentences that should be tied together, and grammatical errors. A few examples: "our communities, *and* our world", "iterate our way toward*s*". There is also redundancy, e.g. "getting, giving, and receiving" (getting and receiving), "to wonder, to ponder" (also note confusion with the "wonder" in the previous sentence with a different meaning). Short sentences in a short paragraph make sense; lots of small sentences in a long paragraph just look odd. I'm wary about editing the page directly, but maybe this can be done by someone within the WMF before the document is finalised? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:48, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Maybe worth adding the links to those various documents

Essentially the original set was only made of vision/mission/values. The first two were not much changed since they were defined back in the old days. However, what was values was largely moved to guiding principles. So the new values set brings in more in depth elements that comes to complement the initial list. I think it is fine.

I am a bit unconvinced by point 4. That point certainly reads as a WMF value. But much less as a community value. Hmmm. And it rather feels like a "how" rather than a "why" to me.

I am a bit hesitant with the language... it is beautiful... it reads like poetry and it is nice (and a big change for wikipedians ;)). But it is going to be hell to translate.

And yes, I know the 4th of March is over. But yeah... sorry :) Anthere (talk)



At some point in the editing process, the text seems to have lost any meaningful content. I've just read the entire wmf:Values and I didn't find anything but buzzwords and feel-good rhetoric. There isn't even a mention of free culture or free-content! I'll keep referring to the old version. --Nemo 07:34, 2 June 2017 (UTC)Reply

I suggest to restore the old "Values" and call this a "Wikimedia Foundation moral principles" or something like that (which could be a section/addendum of the Wikimedia Foundation Guiding Principles), since the text seems to be about morality. --Nemo 07:36, 2 June 2017 (UTC)Reply
(More on this above.) Nemo 15:27, 19 June 2017 (UTC)Reply

To test how well the text worked, I asked several people and most of them had the same reaction. As a sort of focus group, several persons have also tried to apply/use the text in some real-life occasions when such documents should be of help, such as some project assessment (including grant requests) and personal assessment (including yearly self reviews and peer reviews at the WMF, which were happening in this period). There was a wide agreement that the long-standing text proved more useful in such activities (also to explain why something felt "good" or "bad"). I can provide examples if need be. --Nemo 15:27, 19 June 2017 (UTC)Reply

@Nemo bis: I have to say I agree. The current version of this page consists entirely of "applause lights". PiRSquared17 (talk) 22:48, 19 March 2019 (UTC)Reply

Stable version?


This is stable version? This is synchronized with the foundation:values? This is may be marked for translation? --Kaganer (talk) 18:22, 20 September 2017 (UTC)Reply

FYI, translation going on; Foundation:values has been redirected to wmf site. --Omotecho (talk) 11:54, 13 March 2020 (UTC)Reply