Problem: abysmal distance between Meta/WMF and Homewikis
- General exposition
What we have today is a Meta and a WMF (which uses Meta as an essential communication tool) formed by users who have migrated from their Homewikis (base communities) and formed a new community, who decide and impose these decisions on the base communities in a top-down model of governance. In this model, the design of the relationship between Meta (consequently also WMF) and the base communities is a star, with Meta at the center, where each base community has a relationship only with Meta. In the image on the right, Meta is represented by the central green dot (when WMF uses the Meta for global governance, then WMF takes the central position).
The negative consequences of these models are several. To name a few: a) the decisions do not reflect the opinion of the totality of the communities, but only of those who form the community on Meta/WMF and those most intimately concerned.; b) editors and users who do not have the full confidence of their base communities, but possess that of the Meta community, end up deciding and imposing their decisions on the base communities; c) sometimes decisions of the base community are administratively contested by Meta/WMF (formed by outsiders in relation to the base communities), overruling the decisions of the base community; d) several editors that don't frequent Meta (for various reasons, such as language, difference of political and technical structure, lack of time and others) end up not participating in the decisions on Meta; e) there is no knowledge and recognition between communities, since they don't interact other than through Meta; f) etc.
1) Concerns about the fundraising banner, which is not at all harmonious with the Brazilian (Portuguese? Others?) society (therefore probably not very effective), and not even with the Wikipedia.pt community (see the discussion, with participation of Ppena (WMF) and JBrungs (WMF));
2) Serious safety problems caused by deficient or non-existent guidelines on how to behave to protect oneself from lawsuits and other abuses (no response from AKeton (WMF), Jrogers (WMF) and JSutherland (WMF) on the topic). Lack of guidelines that should have a clear line for users to access the protections provided by WMF (discussion of the topic can be found at Legal guidelines and intervention).
Suggestion: Meta as communication channel and organizer
A modification in the function and structure of some discussions of the Metawiki (and especially WMF's use of Meta) is proposed, changing the communication structure between Meta and base communities from Star to Mesh, where the Meta does not function as a centralizer and separate decision maker, but as a communication channel and organizer of discussions. When the WMF uses this tool, therefore, it also ceases to be the central decision maker and becomes a communication channel and discussion organizer.
In the image on the right, Meta is not symbolized by any points, but by the edges connecting the points. Meta, in this sense, does not form a separate community, but forms the base communities' communication channels.
- In practice
In practice, this would work like this: every important decision that the Meta community so decides or every important decision from WMF (for example on finance and security) would have to open a page on Meta and immediately, without fail, open a page on the largest Wikimedia communities, and could be taken to others depending on the interest and willingness of local users.
In this way, in addition to discussions on Meta itself, discussions would take place in parallel on various communities forums and in various languages simultaneously and there will be a link in each of these discussions to all other discussions, so that editors in one base community can easily access the correct discussions in the other base community. In addition and mainly, the Meta will function as a place to organize the flow of discussion, this is best commented on below, organization for which, in cases concerning WMF, they should be facilitated by WMF itself.
It is not necessary that all arguments be brought into Meta, but it is necessary that the main argumentative flow of the different discussions be reproduced in Meta. The Meta will continue to be the place of global monitoring and where decisions should come from, because it is where all the discussion flows come together (more about this below).
A good example, but limited to the pt.wiki is: Unite Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese into Portuguese.
The WMF has tried to solve this problem, an example is listed ahead, but this type of solution brings problems as commented below: Universal Code of Conduct;
About the intermediate solution being adopted by WMF
- Argumentative flow and the pulverization of discussions
It seems undeniable that there is a chronic communication problem between WMF and Communities, it also seems undeniable that one of the biggest reasons for the failure of this communication is the feeling that the users' opinions are not taken seriously and that therefore participation in discussions, often difficult and extremely time consuming, is pointless.
- The multiplication of discussion forums as a solution
One attempt to correct this problem is the multiplication of communication forums. Multiplication of communication forums is not only the opening of several forums, but also the establishment of these forums within the communities and in the language of the communities. This kind of procedure aims to facilitate the participation of as many users as possible in an environment that is comfortable for them.
- The pulverization of discussions
While the multiplication of discussion forums is a way forward, it is not in itself a solution and contains serious internal dangers. One of these problems is discussion pulverization. Pulverization of discussions is the situation where discussions are held without a unifying center, a center that is able to put all the relevant lines of argument of the multiple discussions into a single forum. The problem of pulverization of information is caused by the error of connecting all discussions correctly.
- Argumentative flow
What is the problem of not having a central forum that brings together not only the links of the various discussions, but the argumentative flow of the discussions? The problem is the difficulty this creates for the individual, the single user, to follow the discussions and participate in them. It is not possible for an individual to follow, and much less participate in, all the forums, which makes it imperative to have a central forum alongside the multiple forums that is capable of reproduce the argumentative flow.
- Why Reports Don't Solve It
Although reports are an efficient way to inform users of the status of discussions, the reports produced by control centers are useless for solving the problem of participation of individuals (users) in discussions, because user participation means not only passive absorption of discussions, but active participation in discussions. Active participation in discussions means the possibility to modify the argumentative flow through one's own arguments.
- The inherent unfairness of pulverized discussions
If for the individual it is impossible to absorb, process and generate a response to the multiplicity of pulverized argumentative flows, institutions can do it, because they have enough personnel to collect information and take this information to unified internal forums, solving the problem of pulverization and being able to follow the complete flow of the discussions. But individuals are not able to do this.
The pulverization of discussions, instead of helping the active participation of individuals (users), ends up neutralizing their participation, thus increasing the initial problem.