- Is Wikimedia most like a library, a school, a museum? something else?
No metaphor can be perfect or suitable if stretched to the limit. I would rather not try it.
- Of the other candidates, who do you most support?
Apart from myself and Capsot, since he is my friend and I am unable to judge him impartially. From among the remaining candidates, I would choose Harel for his excellent work at Wikimedia Israel, his role in organizing Wikimania in Haifa and his intelligent suggestions. I see him as a man who combines both interesting ideas and the ability to make things happen.
- Do you have a favorite article (or more) that illustrates the 'best' of Wikipedia? Favorite on other projects?
My favorite articles are listed on my Catalan Wikipedia user page: http://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usuari:Gom%C3%A0#Participaci.C3.B3_a_la_Viquip.C3.A8dia Go to "Articles de qualitat en els que he col•laborat significativament" and click on "mostra".
- Of the current board members, who do you think is our most effective leader / who do you look to as a role model?
I believe Jimmy is the most effective, but none of them has been a model for me. I am just the way I am, and I think having a diverse Board is good.
- What's your Myers-Briggs type-- here's a test if needed. (I can't imagine the answer themselves directly affecting any votes-- but it's sorta fun and might help people understand your other responses)
WM in Politics/Activism/Law
I believe that fulfilling our mission within a community with values like ours can have a great political impact, but this is a side-effect and not one of our direct goals. Moreover, I think we should only intervene in matters that affect us directly, such as proposals of laws in several countries that try to block CCSA licenses and to force authors to keep the economic rights derived from their work through collecting companies, or countries that restrict access to our projects.
- Should WMF have an advocacy role in any circumstances? If so, broadly speaking, how do we decide what issues to take a position on?
- Does the WM Movement have a role to play in local, national and international politics? If so, what does that role look like in the future?
- What can we do to help those directly-affected by 'The Arab Spring'? What can the WM movement do collectively do for those nations? What can the WMF foundation do? What can individual wikimedians do?
- If it were feasible, should the foundation promote 'internet freedom'-- that is, advocate for or active provide unfiltered internet access to citizens of repressive regimes?
- If it were feasible, should the foundation promote 'universal internet access'-- that is, advocating for or actually providing computer&internet access to impoverished peoples?
- Should the WMF promote "Net Neutrality" in the US?
- Should WMF advocate any position on copyright reform?
Movement Vision, Scope
- What's our Big Purpose? What's our Mission? Jimmy Wales famously said "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." Without quoting or paraphrasing, how would you say it?
That is what we do but it is not what we are. Our main characteristic is the way we do it: with voluntary contributions by anonymous authors and a self-organizing, hierarchy-less system.
I have a vision of a world where people work together on a voluntary basis to make knowledge available to all.
- What is the "big new exciting amazing thing" that the Wikimedia Movement could potentially accomplish in the next five years?
I would like to extend our mission: not just limiting ourselves to making knowledge available, but going further and actually creating new knowledge. I would like to broaden our scope to cover original research works and the collaborative developement of research projects.
Another thing that would please me to no end would be to go one step beyond the mere collection of educational material and to start training courses using this material.
- Can WM host a 'non-educational' project if we want to? For example, suppose there was a multiplayer online game targeted at Israeli and Palestinian children, in the hopes that this childhood experience will promote future peace. If there's a broad consensus that the non-educational project would bring good in a clear way, could we host it if we wanted to?
I think we should not do this however good our intentions are. Non-educational contents work in a very different way, and I have a hard time seeing how they could fit in with the movement's culture, values and mission.
- Should promoting "free culture" a goal in and of itself for the WM movement?
My vision of the free culture movement is a structural vision that, in my opinion, complements my ethical vision, "sharing is good", and my pragmatic vision, "technology makes it impossible to prevent sharing".
I see that technological progress constantly improves productivity by reducing production and reproduction costs. At the same time, innovation provides an ever greater variety of offers, saturating the market and making it harder to sell, which increases marketing costs. In the specific case of cultural products, we have reached a point where the gap between production and marketing costs is so wide that it has become more viable to do business by giving the product away and earning money through streams of revenue that used to be marginal.
Wikimedia projects are taking us one step further. We do not need to earn money, since we are giving our ability to generate value during our spare time while enjoying a rewarding activity.
In this sense, I do not see free culture as an end in itself for the WM movement, but as an essential part of us.
- WM content has generally been described using terms like "knowledge" and "educational". Do you think WM has a role in hosting non-notable art, fiction, music, and other works of open-culture? As hosting expenses naturally approach zero due to ever-dropping technology cost, should WM host increasingly more diverse content, or should we stick to the domains we currently focus on-- namely, factual, notable, instructional content of the kind that might be found in an encyclopedia or textbook.
In my opinion, there are two worlds with very different dynamics. It is one thing to satisfy human curiosity, the need to know and understand, while amusing, entertaining and contemplating beauty is a wholly different thing.
I would not mix them. I would rather contribute to creating a WC (WikiCulture) organization that hosts this type of contents than make the WM projects host them.
- Looking far forward, beyond the next few years. Should each Wikimedia-named projects have to adhere to the same basic set of values we, as a community, currently hold here in the existing projects? (Namely, valuing the free distribution of factual knowledge). Or will falling hosting costs eventually mean that Wikimedia's projects will eventually become more diverse in their values, methodologies, and purposes?
In my answers to previous questions, I have already mentioned that my vision for expanding the projects focuses on knowledge and know-how. The routes I see for expansion focuses on publishing original research, scientific research and technological development projects that generate new knowledge, educational courses and processes or even games that favor the acquisition of knowledge and knowledge-related skills.
In this sense, I believe there are a series of universal basic values that are independent of the cultures of the societies and people who support them. We take these values and add some more: free knowledge and the cooperative work of a community that organizes itself with no need for a hierarchy.
On the other hand, projects that choose other paths will be shaped by each society and culture.
The same hosting costs reduction argument used to explain the possibility of taking this expansion route can also be used to explain that there is no need for the WMF to do so, and that it will be ever harder for someone to do it.
I am deeply concerned by the fact that the community tends to be very conservative and shy away from innovation. This is a natural phenomenon: all changes are firmly opposed by those who are afraid of losing their current advantages and are only timidly supported by those who expect uncertain improvements.
Looking at the way we work now, I am sure it would not be possible to start up a project few people have faith in and which is considered a bad idea by the majority. I am afraid that the Wikipedian community would be unable to start up Wikipedia. But if we lose our ability to invent and start up new projects that are as successful as Wikipedia, sooner or later the initial dynamism will disappear.
I think the only way of being innovative while keeping a community-directed scheme is reaching a consensus that we have to be innovative. But this should not be agreed on a case-by-case basis, since this would lead to a lack of support for even the slightest changes. We should reach a consensus on accepting a certain amount of experiments with limited risk both in terms of cost and time, even if they do not seem to be a good idea, and then decide whether to switch or not after trying the concept. If we do not give innovation a chance, we will stagnate and sooner or later will disappear.
- How can we empower our developers and other programmers to "be bold" in trying to create 'the next big Wikimedia thing' that will do good for humanity?
The previous comment would be applicable here, but I have decided not to reuse it because it does not affect only software, but also developing new projects, improving the policies of existing ones, organizing the movement, creating new types of chapters, etc.
- How do we fix the "MediaWiki Problem", namely, an over-reliance on a single software platform?
I see no reason not to use other platforms. For example, we could use Moodle as part of an initiative focused on combining the use and creation of material on Wikipedia and Wikibooks with the organization of online courses.
- If it were technically feasible and of negligible cost, should we someday empower trusted users the "be bold" and create new projects on their own initiative, ala Wikia?
It could be a great way of promoting innovation and experimentation. But after some time, these projects should be assessed to decide whether they are to become official projects or should be closed down. I see it as an incubator with a trial period that leaves great leeway for experimentation. Otherwise, the system could evolve towards content that does not focus on knowledge, or become crowded with a myriad of projects with no substantial content.
- On projects like Wikipedia, how do we fix the quality problem? (some of our articles aren't very good and don't necessarily seem to be improving with time)
I think it is a mistake to try to improve Wikipedia's quality by adopting classical editing methods based on with experts and professional reviews.
We should start by trying to better understand quality-generating mechanisms on Wikipedia, the likelihood of errors creeping in with each edit conditioned to its author, the likelihood that each edit improves existing content, the dynamics that increase the likelihood that an article is edited and improved; and then create mechanisms that increase the likelihood that the lower-quality articles are improved. I see great margin for improvement in the automatic detection of inconsistencies by comparing the different language versions of a same article, and the automatic comparison of article content and the text of the sources used in each article, as well as the automatic update of numerical data based on public statistical data. I also see great potential for improvement in learning ourselves as Wikipedians.
- Distributed Wikipedia-- great idea or greatest idea?
I think it is great and that we should do our best to achieve this, but we should also find a way to keep our content's search engine ranking, since more than nine readers out of ten come to us through Internet searches.