User:Micru/Draft RFC

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Requests for comment/Question to admins: do you want to be financially supported by a community?

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Translation admins: Normally, drafts should not be marked for translation.

To admins and structural volunteers/metapedians[1] of the Wikimedia movement. At least two Wikimedia communities have reported a severe decline in the number of admin applications, plus other negative patterns in the role/access to the role (see this Signpost article). Additionally, there are concerns about POV pushing [1], and the inability of the community to keep up with disclosed or undisclosed paid editing [2], which in turn affects negatively the project social atmosphere. This is a clear threat to the reputation and well-being of the project, therefore in this Global RFC[2] a proposal is put forward to (1) take care of the existing admins and other structural volunteers so they don't get burnt out, (2) explore ways to free admins and structural volunteers from earning a living so that they can focus on their passion and have time off for themselves, (3) cultivate the wisdom of volunteers, so that they can deal better with their challenges and create a better social atmosphere in their projects. This Global RFC is addressed to all admins of all Wikimedia projects, therefore it is advised to comment/answer in English to facilitate world-wide communication.

The proposal[edit]

The proposal in a nutshell is to enable admins and structural volunteers to be financially supported by a community, on the condition that they commit to a volunteer-led process to increase their individual and collective wisdom. More specifically, an organisation would be constituted to select which participants would be eligible to be financially supported by a community according to the resources available, and to coordinate the process of wisdom and insight building. It is still unclear how the members of this proposed organisation would present themselves to potential donors, but the intention is to not rely only on one donor (like the WMF) but to diversify sources of income to guarantee individual freedom.

For the cultivation of wisdom aspect, a seed group of volunteers would be selected by a commitee based on self-reported acts of wisdom (links to their own projects, initiatives, conversations, or anything else that they consider relevant), plus some additional criteria for the initial core group like cultural awareness, multilingualism, global mindset, etc. This seed group of volunteers, composed by at least 3 people, but no more than 8[3], would be tasked to cultivate their deep listening (which is the ability to listen with curiosity and with the intention to learn from another person without interferring with personal opinions, while asking questions to clarify the perspective of the person being listened to) and deep understanding (which is the ability to question your own perspective to build a multifaceted approach to any subject) among themselves through video-conference sessions, until they feel ready to expand their group. From this point on, a mentorship program could be devised to assist in bringing their insights to other volunteers.

FAQ[edit]

How did this RFC and proposal came into being?[edit]

On May 25th 2018 Anders Wennersten sent a message to the Wikimedia-l mailing list with the title "Are we losing out against bad editing?" [3]. In the conversation participated: Micru, Adam Wight, GerardM, James Salsman, Gnangarra, Ymblanter, and Pine. From that conversation this RFC was drafted by Micru with the intention to gather more feedback, develop the idea, and find out who would be interested in moving it forward.

Why should I support this proposal?[edit]

That's a question every person should answer for themselves. Possible reasons include: to allow financially disadvantaged volunteers to dedicate themselves fully to the project, to appreciate the task that some people are doing out of selflessness and love to the project, to increase the capacity to listen to each other, to bridge the gap between paid employees and volunteers, to have volunteers that have more time to spend in the project, etc.

What is a structural volunteer/metapedian?[edit]

Structural volunteers or metapedians are volunteers that perform non-content tasks that help developing the project(s) further. For instance, bureaucrats, researchers, arbitrators, are structural volunteers, but also any volunteer whose main focus is to develop the projects in a non-direct way, elaborating documents like for instance this RFC. There is of course an overlap with other categories, and it is up to each person to determine if their focus on structural issues, either in their local projects or globally, is important enough to consider themselves structural volunteers. Activities like participating in global issues through mailing lists like Wikimedia-l or contributing to the site meta.wikimedia.org are considered global structural activities. See also: metapedianism.

Is it only for admins? What about editors?[edit]

The intention is to build the capacity to access and manage donations progressively, first reaching volunteers with high responsibility in the community, and then spreading the area of influence. It could happen that the amount of donations that the group is able to gather is not enough, or that the program is not successful. However, if things go well, it would be great to be able to involve all dedicated volunteers.

Is this paid editing?[edit]

No, this is "volunteers supported financially by a community", which is different in several aspects. First of all, the volunteer keeps their independence to do the work they want to do without reporting to any employer. Second, this scheme is based on trust, financial support in exchange of dedication and the commitment to make an effort to increase your wisdom.

What is wisdom? Why is it necessary to increase it?[edit]

Wisdom is ability to gather in-depth knowledge about a complex situation and act and communicate in a way that is the most beneficial for the sum of implicated parts. Wisdom is supported by awareness (of underlying patterns, of assumptions) and knowledge (of different core values and how they relate to each other). Some reasons to make an effort to improve personal wisdom are to prevent callousness, entitlement, and selfishness. As a volunteer has noted [4], it is not uncommon that a volunteer stops listening to others, or become entrenched in their point of view after receiving a compensation for their work, therefore it is necessary to develop the personal faculties that prevent this behaviour.

Can anyone recognize wisdom?[edit]

As with any skill (playing an instrument, programming, etc) the mastery of wisdom can only be appreciated by those who have fully developed it themselves. For this reason it is recommended that volunteers eligible to be supported by a community are designated by a committee, and not elected. This committee can, however, be chosen by the community, for instance by referral of possible candidates, and voting on those who have accepted the nomination. The members of the committee can be further trained in wisdom-identifying skills by those who feel capable of providing such training.

For how long should volunteers be designated to receive financial support?[edit]

Since wisdom is a rare skill which is highly valuable, it is in the interest of the Wikimedia movement to retain those skills for as long as possible. There can be special circumstances where the support to a volunteer should be terminated, but it is recommended to leave the handling of those special circumstances in the hands of the proposed organisation, as it is assumed that they will have a more clear view of the situation. If there is mistrust in the community, a trial period could be devised before starting the permanent relationship between the proposed organisation and the designated volunteer (same as privately held companies do).

How can I make sure that this program or the designated volunteers don't deviate from the intended goal?[edit]

It will be in the best interest of the designated volunteers to make public their activities, and it will be also in the interest of the community to track those activities and comment on them. Sometimes the designated volunteers will have questions for the community, and sometimes the community will have questions for the designated volunteers, so it is important to have an open communication channel where both parties can communicate openly and honestly to each other, with understanding that the designated volunteers are free people that act in their own interest (which normally will be aligned with the interest of the community), and that the community acts freely in their own interest too (which normally will be aligned with the interest of the designated volunteers). A high degree of mutual empathy will be requested of both parties to be able to notice when there is a mismatch of interests between both parties, and discuss them in an open and constructive manner.

Is it only for the Wikipedias?[edit]

No. However, given that some projects gather the most attention/resources, it is important to consider them adequately.

Why is it advised to comment on this RFC only in English? Isn't the Wikimedia movement supposed to be multilingual?[edit]

Yes, the Wikimedia movement is multilingual, that is why an effort has been made to translate this global RFC into several languages. However, for communication to be possible at a world-wide level, a shared natural language is needed so that interaction with each other is possible. Until more neutral solutions are found, English seems to be the language most suitable for now. If you don't feel comfortable expressing yourself in English, you still can use Google Translate or any other machine-translation system, or ask a colleague of yours to assist you translating your messages.

Why is this RFC so serious? Is it binding?[edit]

Elephant.
Elephant.

In general volunteers tend to believe that if they give a RFC an aura of officiality, it will be binding and everybody will be forced to obey the results. This is not so in this case. This RFC has been conceived as a "living document" meaning that it has been evolving and clarified as more input has been provided, with the hopes that at some point it will be desirable for some, acceptable for many, and outrageous by a few. We'll have to live with that.

To make it a bit more lighthearted, look, an elephant.

But wait... that is not an elephant?[edit]

Every person has their own version of reality. Sometimes a person decides to not agree to a shared common view, and that is ok, right? Let's see how far we can get with planetary consensus building.

How can I be notified of the results of this RFC?[edit]

You can subscribe to this list and you will receive a message when the RFC ends.

Questions asked in this RFC[edit]

  1. How do you feel about this idea? Most/least interesting points? Potential pitfalls?
  2. Would you like to be a volunteer financially supported by a community?
  3. If not, would you like that others are financially supported by a community?
  4. What do you think about the suggested wisdom building process?
  5. If you have a favorable opinion about this, how much would you like to get involved?

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Structural volunteers or metapedians are volunteers that perform non-content tasks that help developing the project(s) further. For instance, bureaucrats, researchers, arbitrators, are structural volunteers, but also any volunteer whose main focus is to develop the projects in a non-direct way, doing things like for instance this RFC. This is explained further in the FAQ. See also: metapedianism.
  2. A Global RFC is a Request for Comments that has world-wide reach and affects all projects of the Wikimedia movement.
  3. In groups supporting mental health therapists like dialectical behavior therapy (Q1208421) consultation teams, the size of the group is specified as at least 3 people, but no more than 8. On this website it is explained why the group should have this size.

Answers/Discussion[edit]

This draft RFC is not open for comments yet. Comment on the talk page meanwhile.