User:MarkTraceur/Essays/WMF and community

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There have been a lot of frightening things happening with respect to WMF and community relations lately. Without going too far into summarizing what events have brought me to this essay, I'd like to talk about how I see the problem.

The WMF is a collection of people who believe in the mission and want it to succeed. We build interesting software, we make grants, we provide legal support, and we do all of this to help the community of editors and other contributors so they can get on with their work.

But there's a fundamental flaw in how the WMF looks at the community. It's not a question of who has power over whom - I'm not even going to enter into that question, because from my point of view, it doesn't even make sense to ask. I don't think there should be any real separation at all between the WMF and the community, I just think the WMF is a collection of people who happen to do work and get paid for it.

Obviously there's specific work, like administering the servers and software, that seems like a power struggle. But there are people involved in those tasks who aren't staff, and we should try to find more for those jobs. Looking at the WMF as the final gatekeeper of those domains does not strike me as a healthy or scalable paradigm.

For myself, I try to espouse the values of the community whenever I can. Transparency and freedom are among my highest goals, even when I'm on the clock for the WMF. And it's absurd that I should be looked upon as some sort of nemesis by anybody, just because my business cards have the Foundation logo on them.

On the flipside, I find it very frightening when my coworkers talk about the community as if they're some separate group that is somehow mysterious, as if we didn't come out of the community. As if we aren't part of it. Most frightening is when the rhetoric includes oppositional terminology - and that can come from both sides.

Let's stop this crazy thought process before it seriously harms the relationship WMF employees have with other Wikimedia community members. We're all on the same side, and it would be a shame to see us brought down by in-fighting.