User talk:LilaTretikov (WMF)/Archive 1

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Welcome to Meta!

Hello, LilaTretikov. Welcome to the Wikimedia Meta-Wiki! This website is for coordinating and discussing all Wikimedia projects. You may find it useful to read our policy page. If you are interested in doing translations, visit Meta:Babylon. You can also leave a note on Meta:Babel or Wikimedia Forum if you need help with something (please read the instructions at the top of the page before posting there). Happy editing!

-- Meta-Wiki Welcome (talk) 19:15, 1 May 2014 (UTC)


Hi Lila, congratulations for your new role! With you as the new executive director, I'm optimist that Wikimedia will get bigger. Best of luck!--Ricky Setiawan (talk) 16:08, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Thanks Ricky Setiawan. I happen to believe that knowledge is infinite, and by extension, so is Wikimedia. But it will take all of us to make it happen. Lila Tretikov (talk) 01:14, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

Dropped "a"

As an ethnic Russian, surely the name should be "Tretikova"? --Ohconfucius (talk) 09:49, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for clarifying Ohconfucius. You are correct, in Russian there is an "a" at the end, in English there is not. Lila Tretikov (talk) 01:20, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

Another question about name

Dear Lila, your firstname should be written in Russian as "Лайла" or "Лилия"? --Kaganer (talk) 20:34, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

Hi Kaganer -- thank you for asking. It is actually "Ляля" -- English Wikipedia has it exactly right in Cyrillic. Lila Tretikov (talk) 20:41, 15 May 2014 (UTC)
Hmm. In English Wikipedia is written "Ляля" :( --Kaganer (talk) 21:12, 15 May 2014 (UTC)
Sorry -- I must have mistyped, it is я (I corrected above as well). Lila Tretikov (talk) 21:48, 15 May 2014 (UTC)
Ok, Thanks! --Kaganer (talk) 22:09, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

IRC office hours

Hi Lila—thank you for publishing such a great post about your experiences from the Zurich Hackathon. Is there any reason why you decided to host your office hours in the late afternoon Pacific time? 23:30 UTC is 01:30 AM in Europe (Central European Summer Time), which means that very few Wikimedia contributors from Europe will be able to participate in the discussion.

As far as I am aware, IRC meetings (including the monthly metrics meetings) are generally hosted during San Francisco mornings, which allows both U.S. and Europe-based users to participate in them. Would it be possible to reschedule the meeting to, say, 11 AM PDT (= 19:00 UTC, 21:00 CEST) so as to make sure that we Europeans can take part in it? Thanks! odder (talk) 10:34, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

+1 --Nemo 10:49, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
Nemo and odder unfortunately it is not really possible to get one time that provides good global coverage, so our team has scheduled this OH to accommodate towards the Western hemisphere hours (given that I just got back from being in Europe in person). I propose we alternate between Eastern and Western hemisphere office hours. Lila Tretikov (talk) 11:18, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply: of course you're right, it's impossible to make all timezones happy at once; I'm happy to hear the problem is on your radar. I'm not sure who exactly you have in mind that would be excluded by a time like 19 UTC, but if you aim for thoroughness of timezones coverage via alternating times that sounds like a reasonable rationale as long as you can sustain it. Cheers, Nemo 17:45, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
i'd really love if the schedules would allow volunteers who have normal day jobs to participate as well, i.e. early morning or evening at some times in the respective time zone. --ThurnerRupert (talk) 09:57, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
ThurnerRupert -- I understand. Feel free to propose some hours that would work well. We will try to do our best to accommodate and create a rotation calendar so that we try to account for non-working hours by timezone. Lila Tretikov (talk) 15:12, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

If you have any feedback on the last one -- feel free to post here. Lila Tretikov (talk) 19:01, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

Plans for VisualEditor re-launch on English Wikipedia

Hi Lila, would you or one of your employees who knows your thinking about VisualEditor please comment on Grants talk:APG/Proposals/2013-2014 round2/Wikimedia Foundation/Proposal form#VisualEditor re-launch on English Wikipedia? Thanks, --Pine 02:34, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

User:Pine, I saw this question here today, and User:Whatamidoing (WMF) asked James about it during office hour. I've replicated his response at the grants page. Thanks! --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 18:44, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
Thank you Maggie Dennis (WMF). --Pine 07:22, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

Mobile gaming and Wikimedia

I saw that this came up during the hackathon. We discussed this last year on the EE list, here, but I think it wasn't a leadership priority at the time. Mobile seems to be a bigger priority in the 2014-2015 Annual Plan and if you want to give this general idea some leadership support I think it would make a big difference. Thanks, --Pine 05:17, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

User:Pine, This would be a great project for the community to jump-start. You are correct, there are hard priorities in the development that take precedence next year. Small elements can be a part of the overall design, but addressing this area in-depth needs both analysis and experimentation. I personally believe it is very powerful and would love to see it happen. (talk) 20:16, 24 May 2014 (UTC)
Pinging Quim. What would it take to get a project like this into GSOC or OPW and make it a priority? Thanks, --Pine 07:40, 25 May 2014 (UTC)
Pine, all it takes is a project idea backed by 1-2 mentors and posted under "Featured project ideas" at mw:Mentorship_programs/Possible_projects. Proposals going through these initial steps are very likely to be picked up within 6-12 months from now. This also sounds like a good potential candidate for Individual Engagement Grants.--Qgil (talk) 09:31, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Quim, before going there I'll continue this discussion on your talk page. --Pine 06:40, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Forbidden discussions

Lila, I am taking you up on your generous offer indicated on your recent Wikimedia blog post, that we may address you on your Meta talk page. You may already be familiar with me. I'm a "banned user" on English Wikipedia, but a welcome contributor on other projects (such as Commons, Wikisource, Wikiversity, and Meta). I thought that this attempt at discussion with Jimmy Wales about "London First" was interesting enough in its own right. I would be interested in your opinion of whether you think there is a certain bending of Wikipedia standards when an article like London First is included in Wikipedia, almost solely on the prompting of its being a Wikimedia Foundation sponsor, or being mentioned on the site However, perhaps more important, what do you make of the fact that this discussion was immediately and repeatedly disallowed on Jimmy Wales' talk page, where it is said that an "open door" policy presides? - Thekohser (talk) 15:34, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

I can't talk to all user pages, but I would like to make sure my page is kept open. That said I may not have enough information yet to discuss every topic in-depth. As for the fact that association with wikipedia makes one more notable -- it definitely happened to me in the last couple of weeks (even though this was not something I was personally after), but there was a healthy discussion on whether it should have had that effect. Lila Tretikov (talk) 16:54, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

A quick note

Thanks for all the comments and questions. It's going to take some time to learn enough about these issues- especially since some of them link to information I'd like to go over thoroughly -- before I can address everything. For now, I'll reply to what I can, when I can. Keep it coming! Lila Tretikov (talk) 05:43, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

Noted. If you manage to address everything I will be very impressed! (: --Pine 07:20, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

What to do with unattainable goals

At what point should a goal be declared unattainable? If what we desire most is impossible or simply too big for us, should we pursue something else? Or should we increase the efforts tenfold, try an even harder way? (Possibly needless context follows.)

Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2013-14 contains some crucial passages:

We have known for several years that we will not achieve the 2015 plan targets, which were audacious guesswork [...] We do not believe editor decline is intractable or irreversible. [...]

In 2010 I see that I posted some general thoughts on the strategic planning process and I postulated that we could fail for two opposite reasons: goals too abstract, not concretely workable; or insufficient ambition, making all efforts vain.

In my view the final strategic plan came mainly from a document which, in essence, tried to extract some safe-looking things that could be done centrally, by the WMF, in an ocean of things not in control of the WMF like social dynamics of the Wikimedia projects, internet access, language literacy.

Concretely: imagine that one 10 M$/y WMF program, after several years, despite being good and everything, failed to show any really substantial concrete effect on Wikimedia projects and the Wikimedia vision/mission. How to decide that time is up and choose among some options like a) continue all the same; b) make it a 100 M$/y program and ask help; c) shut it down and let it to others; d) shut it down and tell the world we need something completely different, like a 10 G$/y initiative for internet access or a 40 G$/y wiki education program involving all the students of the world? --Nemo 11:27, 20 May 2014 (UTC)

Hi Nemo, there are some other options for dealing with failing or troubled programs besides the ones that you point out. In the private sector a common one is to replace the leadership. I think Lila has some skills that could be very valuable in the ED role and I am cautiously optimistic that having some fresh perspective and new skills in the ED's office is a good thing. Of course, along with having new leadership, this is a good time to review the strategic plan goals and how they are resourced as you suggest. I am not ready to quit on any of the strategic plan goals and I think some of them are in need of fresh perspectives and/or additional resources.
I am specifically underwhelmed with the results of WMF's editor recruiting and retention efforts to this point, including of female editors, and I have been disappointed that I have not felt much urgency in WMF's senior management about dealing with editor recruiting issues in the past year or two, possibly because they have spent a lot of their time recruiting the new ED along with addressing chapter issues, VE, and any number of other urgent problems, and also because the current ED's skills are better suited to other issues. Personally I think WMF has been behind the times on mobile, and I am hoping, aligned with 1. my comments above on this talk page about mobile engagement, 2. comments that hackathon participants made about mobile engagement, and 3. the greater resourcing of mobile in the 2014-2015 plan, that there are some opportunities in mobile that WMF will capture. WMF has been making some progress in mobile for awhile, but I would like to see everything related to mobile in WMF accelerate significantly. I appreciate that Sue agreed to make mobile a priority for the next Annual Plan year, and I think with Lila's guidance there will be further strategic editor engagement successes in mobile. --Pine 07:18, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
Blaming persons is too easy for my taste; hence my (hypothetical) question on "intrinsically" unattainable goals. Of course there are other ways to look at it, like yours. --Nemo 08:58, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
Nemo, thanks for clarifying. I understand that some goals are intrinsically unattainable, such as a goal of deploying a bug-free VE within the next 24 hours. That's not humanly possible. In the case of some of these other strategic goals, I think the appropriate quote is emphatically "Failure is not an option!" --Pine 06:41, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

Thank you Nemo and Pine for your thoughts on this. I want to address the question of vision to tactics development. As Nemo pointed out a strategy can fail for multiple reasons, including "goals too abstract, not concretely workable; or insufficient ambition, making all efforts vain". In fact the whole point is to tie those two together: the moon shot that we want to achieve and the individual steps we need to take to get there. I would agree that we learned a ton from the last strategy, but we are only starting to think through the next one. Your thoughts now are both important and timely. In my view one of the really important things a strategy does for both organization and the movement is clearing priorities. It answers the question: "Should we be doing this?"

Which brings me to the second point: how do we know when we failed. First I want to say that failure is critical -- without it we won't learn. But repeating and reinvesting in failure is insanity. Usually it is pretty clear when a program or a solution did not hit the mark. And it is important to weed-out programs that are not successful, no matter if there is "sunk costs". I want to differentiate here implementation and goal failures. Both can occur and need to be evaluated. Typically I've managed those with clear set low/medium/high goals associated with timelines. If we hit high, we may want to double-down and replicate what we are doing, if we are barely at low, we may need to change what we are doing.

I am still early in thinking about this, so please feel free to comment. Lila Tretikov (talk) 16:40, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

Hi Lila, the way I tend to think of implementation failures and goal failures is that implementation failures and small-goal projects' failures are sometimes acceptable or good if we learn something from them. Failure, although undesirable, is particularly reasonable in projects that are known from the start to be high risk or experimental and when the costs of failure are acceptable. However, catastrophic failures for strategic goals, or for major projects like IEP, are unacceptable, can cause significant collateral damage, and can endanger the sustainability of entire wikis or the WMF.
As you probably know I'm on IEGCom and we are willing to take measured risks in that committee. (Personally I'm proud of our overall record. IEGCom functions well, gets good support from WMF employees, has a wonderful diversity of capable community members who speak a combined 16 languages from 5 continents, and produces results that are often well received by the communities and WMF departments. I feel the only major failure in that committee was partly my fault, and that the failure was a difficult part of an otherwise solid and growing portfolio of grants).
Anyway, I hope we are thinking about ways to succeed at least as much as we are thinking about how to keep risks and failures to acceptable levels.
I'm sure people in Grantmaking, Engineering and Platform would have some thoughts on these issues as well.
Lila, is there anything in particular you would like to get input on, from Nemo and I or others who may come to this talk page? I'm not sure how much I'm helping vs. just thinking out loud.
Thanks, --Pine 08:20, 25 May 2014 (UTC)


Hi, just a quick note: I see most of your contributions on this page are made under an IP, so make sure you are logged in when you edit, it’s better to track the edits and to sign with ~~~~. Perhaps you may want also redirect User:Lilatretikov/User talk:Lilatretikov to this account to avoid duplication of the identity :) And warm welcome in the Wikiverse! ~ Seb35 [^_^] 18:42, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, I always forget to log in. The redirect idea is also a good one. LilaTretikov (talk) 18:31, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Congratulations 2

Congratulations from a Russian-affine Swiss wikipedian to a Russian emigrant to your honorable job! -- Хрюша ? ! ? ! 14:05, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

+1 :) Caspiruant (talk) 19:18, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
Thank you LilaTretikov (talk) 18:32, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

A few things

Hi Lila,

  • Thank you for interviewing with the Signpost.
  • May I suggest that you send a congratulatory note to Wikimedia Bangladesh about their successful registration as a Bangladeshi society? I think a note from you would mean a lot to them. I hope you have read the report about their journey that we published in the Signpost. The Bangladeshi Wikimedians are a remarkable group of volunteers.

--Pine 20:28, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

Hi Pine. Thank you. We have not yet gone through the responses from posting perspective, although I've read them all. This is probably a good post-Wikimania activity and I will take a look at the Signpost article on Wikimedia Bangladesh -- glad to hear they are making strides. LilaTretikov (talk) 18:35, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Your Position on Access to No-Public Information Policy Revision

Dear Ms. Tretikov,

I assume you're aware of and briefed on the recent revision of the "Access to No-Public Information" policy that allows totally anonymous administrators on the English and all the other Wikipedias to see the IPs and other potentially personally-identifying information (browser version, settings) of volunteer editors. Even though not usually immediately identifying in itself, this information can obviously be used as a stepladder to identifying through tools like Geolocate and TraceIP, as well as supporting indicators in websearching other clues from the editor's edit history.

What is your position on the change? Do you support it, and if so, why?

In my opinion, if there are cases where volunteer administrative participants do somehow need that information, it should be entrusted to identified individuals, not anonymous usernames like "Wizardman" and "Beeblebrox" and "Dord" and so forth. Authorizing checkuser and the other tools to anonymous participants is going to attract, and has attracted, exactly the wrong kind of individuals. I mean creeps and cyberbullies.

Please respond. I really think the community deserves to hear your position on this matter, which represents a significant change in the dynamic between administrators and editors.

Colton Cosmic (talk) 14:53, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

Hi! Lila asked me to respond to this, since the issue was evaluated and decided before she joined the organization. As we've publicly discussed in response to related questions (email, blog), this issue was discussed in public, and then approved by the board. The basic facts of the situation have not changed since then, so we still believe that is the right decision, as we've explained in the email and blog post linked above. We appreciate your concern for other contributors, but this was the best outcome we were able to come to under the constraints we operate under as a volunteer-driven project. We will of course continue to work to protect everyone's privacy, and hope you'll support us in that. —Luis Villa (WMF) (talk) 16:12, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Luis, I appreciate this answer, which is more informative than on the Wikimedia-l mailing list where you gave "there is no silver bullet" non-answers. What should be said (you don't) about those public discussions is that they were intermittent and frequently incoherent with week-long gaps, but the key thing is that they resulted in "no consensus" (and this is by Ms. Paulson's own account in one of your links there ("because there was no community consensus on the matter, we are closing the consultation)." Therefore the change proceeded evidently on the position of WMF Legal. You don't specify the nature of the "constraints" you operate under, but I'll note that these identifications were received for years when the WMF had much less resources than it does now. The problem then was that the personnel in charge then decided to shred them in violation of the prior policy. It was not a matter of constraints. Buying a lockable file cabinet should not be a constraint. You close by saying you will continue to work to protect everyone's privacy, but as I've explained and is clearly evident by the nature of the policy change itself, you're totally doing the exact opposite. Colton Cosmic (talk) 14:35, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Ms. Tretikov, as Luis above points out the policy change was decided by WMF Legal and the Board before you joined the WMF, but of course it was implemented on your watch. I don't want to encourage suspicions, but the timing is undeniably curious to me. Sue Gardner neatly stepped aside before the policy change occurred.

Let me point you to a particular extreme example of an administrator abusing these privacy-invasive tools to stalk an editor and indeed to to threaten his family: In there FT2 (who was also an arbitrator) actually says "You have a deadline below, and I'll repeat everything as often as you need to hear it, and consider concerns all the way till then. One minute after that, gloves come off all the way, without any further warning, starting with <redacted>'s workplace for evidence, and the Department of Health, and probably unavoidably, ending with family or someone will inform the police. Do you actually love your family, or need them? ...I don't know what settlement you'd get, but I bet it won't include the things in real life you care most about. Risk it if you like. Your call. And watch me not minding if it hurts you to put this all right." The entire email is incredibly psychotic. FT2 had been using the checkuser tool and so forth. When Arbcom found out, some among them defended him saying the problem in the email was only one of "tone." FT2 was not kicked out of Arbcom. He was not desysopped. Even today he still has access to OTRS, in which personal information of editors is often disclosed.

Finally, and in meager hopes I can convince you to take a stand against this non-identification policy change, I point you to text in one of Luis' links above (the blog one). "Community members underscored ... risks in the retention of copies, and requirements of forced disclosure in light of legal mandates." I believe that the Access to Non-Public Information policy being constructed to dodge subpoenas ("requirements of forced disclosure in light of legal mandates") is clearly in bad faith to the U.S. and other national legal systems, and may in fact be viewed when it comes to it as unlawful. Colton Cosmic (talk) 15:03, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

A kitten for you!

Cute grey kitten.jpg

Hi. I'm your personal kitten. There's a lot of kittens here at Wikipedia, but i'm the most powerful, i swear!

Itu (talk) 13:44, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

"powerful" should be in quotes. Never trust kittens bearing matzo. – SJ + 19:15, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

Welcome to The Wikipedia Adventure!

TWA guide left bottom.png
Hi ! We're so happy you wanted to play to learn, as a friendly and fun way to get into our community and mission. I think these links might be helpful to you as you get started.

-- 22:07, Monday, September 16, 2019 (UTC) Template:TWA/Navigation2

Media Viewer implementation

Hi Lila Tretikov,

As Wikimedia Foundation's Executive Director, you may be interested in following this Rfc. A reassuring word from you, concerning the enforcement of the new Media Viewer in all wikis against the consensus of the community, would be most welcome. Best regards, Alvesgaspar (talk) 09:04, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

All -- Thank you for your comments, criticism, support and advice on software that you've collected in the RfCs. I agree that we need to improve both our process and our software. MV is a great feature to use as a testbed for those improvements. I also believe it represents a good foundation that we should improve together. We are not going to make any hasty changes, but we will will get back to you on:

  • Next steps (in the next 2-3 weeks)
  • Process improvements
  • Software changes
  • Policy clarification (deployment, RFCs, reverts, etc.)

We love your feedback and your support.

Thank you.

LilaTretikov (talk)

Additional Clarification

  • Our overall communication, design, prioritization, testing, roll-out mechanisms and general product development practices are insufficient and must be brought on-par with our user’s expectations. We are not planning any new major deployments until some of those basic improvements are put into place. This will be done in the open; it is fundamental and urgent. I've touched on it at Wikimania.
  • We are not removing MV. It has been in production for months. Its removal will cause more problems and confusion for our users. We will hold ourselves accountable to getting it to the level of quality that is expected of the top site.
  • We are working to post next steps to clarify development and deployment process including rights and responsibilities; you can expect more information in coming days.
  • I encourage you to help us improve our process as a whole as well as this specific feature by offering your time, advice, and collaboration. We will be engaging you on it. Please refrain from making unassisted changes to the feature’s configuration.

LilaTretikov (talk) 18:39, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Thank you very much for sending out this signal, it is very good to hear that the difficult interactions between users and WMF are considered as fundamental and urgent matters which need improvements. If I can be at any help, feel free to contact me.
PS: I hope you liked our stroopwafel(s) at Wikimania? Romaine (talk) 12:18, 13 August 2014 (UTC)


Hi Lila,

Unfortunately software and process aren't the place to start. The relationship and interface between the community and the Foundation is the place to start. I have posted about this elsewhere, so I will not repeat myself, but there is nothing exceptionally difficult to be achieved, provided good will is present.

Rich Farmbrough 18:34 12 August 2014 (GMT).

Rich -- can you point me to those please? Thanks, LilaTretikov (talk) 18:39, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Here, (second paragraph) and part of this post and the sentiments in this post over recent matters. I would be happy to expand on any parts where I am not clear. Rich Farmbrough 18:49 12 August 2014 (GMT).
Rich -- are you suggesting the WMF should get out of the software business and just become a legal/financial entity? Am I understanding right? LilaTretikov (talk) 21:03, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
* Not necessarily, though I think we should be asking this sort of question. I am suggesting that we carefully review the purpose of the WMF, and how it can add most value to the Wikimedia projects. It may even be that we rethink the Memorandum and Articles (and tweak the Mission statement). Maybe this [the rethinking] should be done form a zero-budget perspective.
* Without prejudging that stage, it seems to me that a healthy interface between the community and the foundation is key. In the past we lost the Spanish Wikipedia community, by bad communication, and Wikia lost a significant number of communities when they forced a skin update on them, so we have the empirical evidence that volunteer communities can leave en masse and certainly they can leave individually.
* There is probably consensus over the broad thrust of what the Foundation should do, but there are a lot of problems when it comes to detail. An example from development: I have followed bugs on Bugzilla for years, even very "popular" ones, which have had fixes written and ready to go (by volunteers) have not been released because no-one could be found to do a code review.
* We should retain flexibility, the software development process has done well to use both unpaid, contract and employed volunteers (I am not familiar enough to know much about the difficulties encountered, though I am sure there have been some). Where we have academics, designers, legal experts and so forth we should not hesitate to use their expertise as and when it is offered.
* What is valuable is to make evidence based proposals, the community will probably go along with these. For example in the graphical redesign, had the design team been able to point to an A/B test of readability, statistics on page load time, and reader preference surveys, they would not have had such a rough ride, and we would not be left even now with a suspicion that serif headings and sans text looks like the product of some 1980s desktop publishing app, rather than an authoritative encyclopaedia.
* One thing I would like to see is pilot projects, and careful curation of corporate memory. Many outreach projects have been dismal failures, nonetheless we can benefit from seeing which were more successful (in editathons, notably one or two of the women's have outstripped all others, as far as I can see) and attempting to reproduce these successes.
* An issue with the development staff is that many of them are "minor deities" in the Wiki pantheon - and this can result in an apparent arrogance. They have moved form unpaid volunteer status to employed volunteer status, their priorities have changed. In some cases the wiki-culture has changed dramatically since they were last active in the community, leaving them out of touch. In others they seem to discount community expertise. This latter trait is evident with many of our employed volunteers in other roles, on a good day the combined knowledge and experience of the community will beat any of us into a cocked hat, we should use it not fight it.
* It would be a cultural improvement if the employed volunteers saw the communities as the customers, in the traditional corporate model. Still not perfect (we should be friends and colleagues), but it reconciles the dichotomy between "I do what my boss tells me" and "The community wants something different". We all, I hope, these days are familiar with the importance of customer satisfaction. Building job descriptions and hence job titles in a goal centred way might also help - I notice Gayle Young is "Chief Talent and Culture Officer" (I was searching for her at Wikimania to talk about culture) - this seems to me a good title. (I like the words "Talent and Culture" "Chief" and "Officer" could be improved, in terms of culture.) It is quite important that we try to be "egoless", also that we understand the difficulties in textual communication (I know Fabrice and his team are working on this).
I hope these notes are useful, please feel free to point out difficulties or parts that aren't clear.

Rich Farmbrough 03:20 13 August 2014 (GMT).
"Minor deity" is an interesting phrase. I know that one member of WMF staff finds my tone insufficiently respectful and uses that as justification for refusing to answer my questions: Because asking such a basic question betrayed a stunning, contemptuous, ludicrous lack of respect for our professionalism, competence and judgement on your part that it didn't really bear scrutiny? Because instead of saying it in a "collegial" way, you instead insinuated that you knew all about this and how it worked, and we didn't? [1]. If that attitude is at all common, then there's a pretty large gap to be bridged before the paid staff can work effectively with the volunteer community. (BTW, looking forward to hearing if there's any progress on the mathematics software planning front) Deltahedron (talk) 21:05, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Usability Testing at Wikimania

All --

This year we are setting up our first User Experience lab at Wikimania. Please join us to test and provide feedback on some of the features under development.

Here is a post from Steven Walling with more details.

LilaTretikov (talk)

Thank you, Lila. At Wikimania I have attended the research booth twice, once for testing Flow, and once for testing Winter. Is there a way people can participate from in these tests? Could you enable Flow on this user talk page? Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 07:23, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

WMF superblocks its community


since Erik doesn't answer, I'm now sending this remark to some other WMF officers and board members. I apologize for using your time.

I'm a crat in german wp. The so-called super-protections that Erik Möller/User:Eloquence and User:JEissfeldt (WMF) have put on our common.js on sunday, acting officially on behalf of WMF, have left some blood on the carpet. Many fellow wikipedians are upset, even those who accept the media viewer (which had been the conflict's origin). Several long-time contributors have left or stopped editing due to this. Journalists picked up the case.

Personally, I strongly protest against the WMF's action, and it's failure to communicate afterwards. Our communities are capable, and willing, to handle problems like this without office-actions.

There have been no official or private comments from WMF in the last days, so I'd like to suggest you have a look and give some response to the criticism.

(apologize again, for my translation errors)


Links to ongoing discussions in german language: [2], [3], [4]

Greetings, -MBq (talk) 20:11, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi, i second MBq request and especially this post by Rich. This issue is not taken lightly especially among german wikipedians. Regards, Ca$e (talk) 20:52, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
This is a temporary measure to prevent churn on the file for the lack of a better process currently in place (more on this here). LilaTretikov (talk) 21:19, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Lila, please stay that sober and unintimidated. I wholeheartedly agree with such a minimal invasion. Instead of blocking or deadminining an entire camp of notorious know-betters, just one template was commensurately frozen from those administrators' access for them to cool down and stop them from disrupting the public user experience with their edit wars. Commentor summarized it well on their central protest page:

Funny: Someone at the Foundation is passing the same medicine to the German admins that they have been passing their authors for years. And now the German admins react with insult since they realized how it feels to be given such medicine. The San Franciscan physician has thus contributed much to the climate and future quality of the German Wikipedia, either by self-aware admins diminishing their kindergarden behaviour in the future or by at least giving their mere mortal victims another parody on the wikihierarchy to laugh about. Also very amusing how the German admins voluntarily put up squeakingly green bars on every page linking to their own idiocy.

Wishing you good luck and the proper amount of patience: IM Serious (talk) 09:27, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Somehow liberally translated. I wrote "humiliation" ("Schmach"), not "idiocy". -- 14:12, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Right! Thank you: IM Serious (talk) 01:03, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Hello, for two years I was member of german arb-com (only just for your information).
Your post above is no answer. It maybe denote as a declaration of war. Is it that what you want? I hope not.
Please remember, that your money is earned by voluntary!
If we go away, you will earn no money! Okey, no problem for you, because you will get a new job after this...
Nearly 3 hours ago I postet that at de:wp: perhaps this would be a possibility to... I don`t know the right word for: "Das Gesicht wahren" --Hosse (talk) 22:28, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Hosse, in response to your suggestion, while we will not remove the software feature, we would be happy to immediately remove the protection of common.js on de.wp if there's agreement by admins that we will continue the conversation on the basis of the current state and improve it together, rather than disabling the feature. What do you think would be a reasonable way to establish that agreement? And yes, we're absolutely happy to continue the conversation on a page dedicated to this purpose. Thanks for the constructive suggestions! --LilaTretikov (talk) 23:01, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The reasonable way is to comply to the bugreport regarding the community consensus of German Wikipedia (then also no hack is needed). You work now with and for volunteers. Noone of them has bad intentions, but the WMF lost much trust in the last two, three years for its actions. Why don't you work to convince us instead of forcing? With force you don't get anywhere in the end, you just show how weak your positions and the results of the work of the Foundation are. --Julius1990 (talk) 23:05, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@LilaTretikov: Thank you, but no, thank you. The volunteer community have never agreed to the superprotection feature in the first place. The only real way forward for you is to unprotect MediaWiki:Common.js, take the superprotect user right from the global staff user group, and then disable this feature altogether. To have this threat of your unilateral and unlimited use of this feature hanging constantly over our heads cannot be accepted at any point in the future. odder (talk) 23:09, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
To prevent "churn on the file", direct WMF staff to quit editing it to overrule consensus, don't "superprotect" it. Seraphimblade (talk) 22:36, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Lila, I created a page at de:wp. Thank you for your nice answer. I hope you (really you) and the staff will take the chance to come into conversation with the German wikipedia. --Hosse (talk) 23:37, 12 August 2014 (UTC) PS: Sorry for my bad English
Hosse -- I will keep an eye on progress there. Looking forward to it! Thank you! LilaTretikov (talk) 00:29, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Lila, "preventing churn" is a task that is dealt with daily on many Wikimedia projects, and I think it's fair to say that Wikimedians have developed sophisticated methods of doing so. Before we talk about super-protection, we should talk about normal protection for a moment, and the practices that have evolved around that. Protecting an article on Wikipedia always involves a judgment about which version is correct, and which is incorrect; therefore, there are some best practices administrators are expected to adhere to when protecting a page. I will speak only in broad strokes here, but I would encourage you to talk to some experienced administrators about this, and explore their wisdom drawn from dealing with this kind of conflict many times, in many kinds of circumstances.

There are some important principles, though, that you will surely hear about if you talk to some administrators:

  1. The person protecting a page should not be involved in the dispute, and ideally should not have a very strong opinion on it at all; if the topic is Israel vs. Palestine, for instance, the ideal admin to protect a page might be a career mathematician from Kansas who has never bothered to think much about religion or the Middle East;
  2. The protection is considered a temporary condition, not a decision; it is intended to encourage discussion, which is where the actual decision gets made;
  3. In discussion, it is generally advised to get more uninvolved editors to give it some thought and weigh in.

These sorts of disputes are brought successfully to resolution on a daily basis throughout our projects. If they weren't, we wouldn't be a successful web site, we would be Encyclopedia Drammatica. The experience and practices that apply to resolving editorial disagreements can certainly be applied here, but they cannot be applied if the organization taking the more radical approach ("We must enable this software because we said we must enable this software") is the one applying the kind of fix that is meant to be temporary ((super)protection), and pointing to no realistic longer-term dispute resolution process on an even playing field.

If you must stick to your staff's decision, so be it; but the credibility of your organization, among a stakeholder group whose paticipation is necessary to the site's survival, is at stake. So please choose wisely. -Pete F (talk) 01:48, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Dear Lila, please remove the superprotect feature and refrain from using it. In my humble opinion, it is not acceptable to overrule a RfC in a community-based project, especially for these reasons. Best regards, --Ghilt (talk) 07:46, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the details, Pete F. I am not sure the analogy is exactly applicable for software, but it is helpful nevertheless. I think the conversation we actually want to spur is specifics on what we need to have changed in the feature in question. I am asking the team to engage everyone here on user tests so we can do just that. -Lila Tretikov 13:39, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
I assume this comment above is from Lila -- I have changed the IP address to your name, please revert me if I am incorrect.
My comment was not meant to precisely correlate these admittedly different situations, but to highlight one specific practice that has been found to work very effectively in resolving disputes -- and maybe I did not make this clear enough:
Reverting something to the state it was in prior to the dispute is a tremendously powerful technique for setting the stage for dispute resolution.
With the Visual Editor, the WMF did in fact revert the feature, but as far as I know it did not take steps to continue the discussion in a more generative way. This may have been a missed opportunity. (I am not intimately familiar with how things went with VE, and I know it was before your time.)
With the Media Viewer, however, the WMF is continuing to refuse to take the one step that is guaranteed to interrupt the drama and discord: simply revert the default enabling of the software. The software doesn't have to be removed, none of the 3 projects that have had RfCs have called for its complete removal. But reversing the ill-considered decision to enable it by default on, at least, these 3 sites is a very clear precondition for more sober reflection and deliberation. And let me be clear: I am not stating a personal boundary or condition here, and I am not in a position to negotiate. I am simply stating what the clearly expressed expectation of a very large group of users is. I have no ability to change those expectations, any more than you do.
But as I said initially -- please find some Wikipedia or Commons administrators who have actively worked on dispute resolution, and ask them about these things. You needn't take my word for it -- we have a great many people in our community with deep experience in these matters, much deeper than mine. And a great many of them have not bothered to comment on the Media Viewer situation, and so they might be in a position to give you a more dispassionate and less biased opinion than I am. -Pete F (talk) 19:07, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

You and Erik claim superblocking is a temporary measure but you also name a precondition (if there's agreement by admins…). So if there is no agreement then superblocking won't be temporary, am I right? Somehow this sounds like teaching Wikipedia's community for educating the world. I cannot believe that this is of interest to the Foundation. Please remove the superprotect feature. Maybe this feature is needed but first of all we need a discussion when this feature shall be used and by whom. NNW (talk) 08:18, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

It is temporary for many reasons, including that we are planning to make process changes. But you are right, the timeline is an issue right now. We need to resolve the MV issues so we don't have this corse-grained hammer that only can do on or off switch. We need to collaborate to improve, rather then flipping switches. -- 2601:6:2080:187:A54B:B04B:FB9:1FDE 13:39, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Dear Lila, your accountability as the Executive Director: „Your are the person ultimately responsible for the direction and actions of the WMF.“ Could you please explain what position WMF takes on the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (UNESCO) – refering to WMF superblocks its community. --Edward Steintain (talk) 15:08, 13 August 2014 (UTC)


The deletion discussion for Jan-Bart de Vreede led me to the article about the WMF where I noticed that it uses CiviCRM. As your recent background is in CRM and the foundation is having a difficult relationship with its customer community, this could be a fruitful priority. I'm an active editor and volunteer but the chapters, projects and foundation seem to do a poor job of recording my identity and interests. For example, I was a volunteer at Wikimania, where I heard you speak on the need for change, but all the processes and systems for engaging with me as a volunteer and chapter member seemed quite ad hoc and diffuse. Wouldn't it be good to develop and integrate the profiles of our stakeholders? This might help improve your understanding of what we want and so help you better direct the foundation's resources so that we can pull together in the same direction. For example, I often try using Wikipedia through my smartphone but find the interface weak. You have mobile use as a high priority and I'm keen to support you in this. As your systems could do a better job of bringing us together, what are your plans to improve them, please? Andrew (talk) 08:50, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Edits of WMF employees

'We have heard feedback that WMF employees should have distinct accounts for their WMF-related actions as opposed to their personal actions on the projects. We accept that feedback and will put in place such a system within the next month."

Thats too late. You can write a memo to every employee, that they should use strictly separate accounts as private persons and employees. To be in force immediately. Something like User:Lila Tretikov (WMF). Later you can implement software, that disables normal users to use (WMF) in their signature. --Eingangskontrolle (talk) 15:51, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

no need for rush here IMO. Most of them are not active on Wikipedia anyways. ...Sicherlich Post 16:24, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Most stupid idea ever, which will only further widen the gap between WMF and community, but it seems that all reasoning has gone out the window, and we must let WMF employees bleed and we will brandish them... If I were an employee I would start making all my edits using my personal account and never use my WMF labelled account anymore. For the majority of them, the reason for working there is personal commitment to the goals of the movement, so they will want to express that. —TheDJ (Not WMF) (talkcontribs) 08:03, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
"For the majority of them, the reason for working there is personal commitment to the goals of the movement" - if that would be so, they would have fired their board already, which explicitly tramples on those values. Ca$e (talk) 08:05, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Or perhaps there are different perspectives, all of value and all shaped by the roles and responsibilities that each and every person has. —TheDJ (Not WMF) (talkcontribs) 08:36, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Of course there are. But the values we are talking about are stated explicitly. For WMF, the community must be its biggest asset, WMF "must respect the work and the ideas of our community. We must listen and take into account our communities in any decisions taken to achieve our mission", WMF has to "empower" and "support" us [5]. You can check how big of an asset, how listened to, how respected and how empowered and supported we feel e.g. here. Now go and read Jan-Bart's statement and tell me again that this is a matter of perspectives and Jan-Bart's stance could be somehow reconciled with WMF's mission. Ca$e (talk) 08:39, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Some answers (Man77)

Hi Lila,

thanks for honestly joining the debate, this is already more than many expected :)

Well then, your questions, to some of which I'd like to post a comment:

WMF and the whole wiki movement(s) have obviously quite a lot to do with technology, therefore it would not make much sense to believe that WMF is no tech org at all. However, what kind of tech org is it? If you compare Wikimedia with other top-traffic websites you'll probably find more fundamental differences than similarities. The common goal of the Wikimedia wikis has been so far, at least I suppose that's the case, free content for everyone, as much as possible and as good as possible. I actually don't think being a top 5/top 10 site has ever really been in our focus (nor that there has ever been a strategy), this rather happened because what we offer seems to have been pretty attractive to quite a lot of people. The offer came and comes from almost uncontrollable idealists who also administer the offer, our visitors came and come for information (be in as a text or as a picture or as a sound), not for being entertained or impressed by software fads or gimmicks. This does not mean that our software should never be updated, but I'd like to stress the point that (for me) first and foremost WMF is not a software development organization, but rather a digital (and free) content organization.

The wikis have developped and administered themselves quite independently so far. Their communities have been and will be among WMF's most valuable forms of capital (see Bourdieu). Erik's actions were quite a shock to our community (German language Wikipedia) and paralyzing to a certain extent, even though they did not happen all out of a sudden. Many of us have the impression that WMF (or at least some of its staff) disrespects and devalues its communities, that our arguments do not bother anyone, that the amount of autonomy that we thought we had is under attack or simply gone. Even worse than that, this "annexation" happened without being deducible from the guiding principles or the WMF charta and it clearly misses the requirements for an office action. And worse yet, the process from an idea to implementation and use of superprotect happened overnight, without proper review and without any guideline about the use of this new feature. In most cases software updates take months or years from the first request to being finally in use. In this case we still don't know if it was an office decision to implement a superprotection level or merely an Erik action, carelessly sacrifizing the community advocate. And finally superprotect as a group right demonstrates a gap between staff and all the others with the staff being in ultimate position of power in a legal vacuum.

Which proofed to be a paralyzing action for de.wp's community. I would say that every editor as much replaceable as he or she is irreplaceable, and everybody has the right to leave at any point, but right now the consequences are definitely negative to daily life in our project, as some of our most vital accounts (experienced sysops, specialized editors, important bots) stopped doing what they have been doing for a couple of years. Which for sure was avoidable. That however left a gap that will take quite some time to be appropriately closed and obstructs our natural development and growth. For me, the superprotection case caused a greater damage to de.wp than what the media viewer or any other new gadget can bring as a benefit in the medium term. Again for me, this should be reason enough to forgo superprotection now and to chose a less extreme interim that does not stand as a symbol of distrust.

Who decides? WMF won't decide those deletion requests, block appeals etc. that would have been executed by those who currently are on strike. Placing the threshold is difficult, but things that directly affect a community should not be imposed against a clear community consensus, unless you have a really good (for instance, legal) reason which I don't see here.

Where communication is concerned, I'd recommend to listen to what those communities really require. Balance prestigious projects "from above" such as MV or VE and work on bugs and requests "from the bottom" better than it appeared to be lately. Last fall there was a survey at de.wp about technical wishes (w:de:Wikipedia:Umfragen/Technische Wünsche) which is now getting slowly evaluated by WMDE. Some of the top wishes have been in bugzilla since 2004/05 (!), to which I refer as "my would-like-to-see features". I, for example, appreciate Echo (which still could be made a lot better) which worked well from the very beginning. VE and MV were simply not ready at the time of their rollout and thus quite a mess. Please keep that in mind for future "big things". (And maybe arrange surveys about WMF plans and community requests once or twice a year.) As Austrian I suppose that WMF had a better reputation if they had a self-conception similar to the Austrian chapter.

Would I write if nobody were reading? Nobody reads what I write. Almost. I cover rather exotic topics. I do it for the idea of an open project of free content about any (notable) topic, not for a specific reader or use. You can't control the personal interests of "the editors", but you will ever need them. The mission is not just about the editors, but the mission depends on their editing.

Thanks again, good luck on your journey, Europe is watching you. :-) → «« Man77 »» [de] 18:54, 20 August 2014 (UTC) (currently sysop and arbcom member of de.wp)

Man77 Thank you for your note -- one of the more helpful ones. Yes, I now realize that the "shock" of the protection and the perceived "disrespect" are the emotional riggers we are dealing with. I can tell people that there is no disrespect and that it was the simplest way to stop a revert so we can have hash out problems on the feature, but I don't think it will matter. What I can tell you is that I've learned a few things through this process. It is not trivial, there is a lot of history and emotion, yet a lot to do going forward. We need to better define our roles in building technology and the technology itself. I don't believe our goal is to be a top-5, but we are here now and we have a different set of needs and responsibilities than we did just a few years back. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 16:45, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi Lila, if I may step in here: For me knowing the motives behind an action matters very much. If You say, it was just the simplest way for You, I can understand, that the action was driven from a lack of experience with the communities, because it was of course not the simplest way as is seen now and has put needless ballast on the discussion about the MV. I don't know, why noone in Your office has forseen it, but the use of extended rights for personal advantage is the most serious misconduct in the communities. Any sysop, that would conduct an edit war and then protect the site in his favourite version, would be surely de-sysoped, so everyone reacts very allergic against such a behaviour. It seems with the simple solution of Superprotect, You were directly stepping in a sandtrap. Instead using the normal processes of the community (reporting the edit-war on local sysop-sites) would have had a much better chance of bringing the majority of the local sysops on Your side for at least temporarily disabling the hack and putting the MV on again until further discussions. The community processes are slow and sometimes may seem anarchic, but they have worked for more than a decade without any need of Superprotection. --Magiers (talk) 18:52, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd be interested to try and see that in action. Although we still need to implement revision control around production file -- but that's a different issue. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 22:36, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Lila, thanks Magiers for your remarks. In my view, the "simplest" way was in fact way too complicated as it first had to be built by developers and requires (still!) to be given an official policy. On the other hand, the most ordinary step towards restoring the community's confidence in the staff is to finally, after more than 2 weeks, unsuperprotect this js-page. My impression of being in negotiation with a wall is unsettling me more and more. → «« Man77 »» [de] 17:33, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Your Recent Comment

"All we are doing is asking everyone to hold the current state until we jointly find a better way to make decisions on product. This includes lifting superprotect. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 21:41, 19 August 2014 (UTC)"

No. As someone else has remarked, this is like sticking a dagger in someone's chest, then saying that you'll leave it there until we can jointly negotiate a mutually agreed solution. How can you not see the astonishing damage you're doing? I'm not an administrator, or anything else particularly special in Wikipedia. I wouldn't even know about this problem if my partner (who isn't a Wikipedia editor) hadn't had a problem with the insanely incompetent Media Viewer (whoever ran that roll-out should be summarily fired, as they're clearly not up to the job). But the more I dig into this issue, the more I see that the entire supporting structure is rotten. I know you want to save face, but this is not the time for that. This whole issue is now percolating down from the hugely committed highly active editors to the ordinary guys like me, and the more that happens the more difficult it will be to repair the damage. The best thing you could do would be to completely retract all your team's actions over the last 3 months (roll back superprotect, Media Viewer, etc.), and give full, complete apology, with an undertaking to work more collaboratively in future. RomanSpa (talk) 06:19, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

"How can you not see the astonishing damage you're doing?" - i think it's become pretty clear by now. Just have a look at the previous paragraph where Jan-Bart lays out its vision for WMF's brave new "future". Sticking daggers to a few hundred chests does not count that much if you virtualize billions applauding you on your way towards an imaginative top5-facebook-twitter-super"consistent"-lookalike (do not attempt to argue that something like that would not be possible - you are talking with people who never even really used the software they stove down your throats!). You do not like this "innovative" vision? Fork off! Ca$e (talk) 08:32, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Antique versus modern

I was interested by your comment "I am even more amazed how new editors survive this antique experience." [6] A number of people have taken issue with it, but I think there is a point that has been overlooked. The experience has been evolved by a large number of volunteers, almost all also editors, members of and in constant touch with the community of users: the result is that, by and large, it works: indeed, the encyclopaedia was built that way. Replacing it by a more modern experience would only make sense if that more modern software actually works. It would be interesting to hear your views on this particular point. Whatever the aspirations, design goals, consultations and so forth, is your view that Visual Editor actually works? Does Media Viewer actually work? In each case, if not, what plans are there for making it work? Deltahedron (talk) 13:20, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

When I started authoring at WP eight years ago, I was also wondering how new editors survive this experience, which was already looking "antique" then compared to state-of-the-art web UI technology. But I learned that this odd-looking software tools of WP have some special magic, a magic which makes authors work together in a transparent way and encourages them to learn how to master it. These tools are deeply connected to the culture of WP authoring, so they should be evolved carefully and with respect to this culture. The large Wikis like enwiki and dewiki have the complexest and most elaborate and "finalized" culture and community social structure, which is the reason why they react most sensitive to disturbances by abrupt software changes and need special care.
Things that are modern today will be outdated tomorrow. This is especially true for the user interfaces of the digital world. I doubt that the ripe Wiki communites like en and de are able to synchronously follow such fast trends, that would be too disuptive to their culture and work. Seeking a timeless user experience with carful evolution might be the better idea. Not running after trends -- but confidently ignoring them and setting own standards, that's what ingenious tech companies do. It's what Steve Jobs did.
Another wise decision may be to stick to what we are: An encyclopedia, a quality-oriented collection of the world's knowledge, not an arbitrary social network or Q&A website. As encyclopedia, we are in the comfortable position of being the absolute and unchallenged market dominator. So besides of asking "what can we make even better", we should also ask "what are our strengths which brought us here". And besides the spirit of the community, I would not be surprised to find out that among these strenghts are some quirky-looking old software tools. --PM3 (talk) 19:22, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
In 1982, the U.S. newspaper USA Today launched with a bold emphasis on the design of the front page. When the New York Times first ran a color photo on the front page 15 years later, in 1997, was that in response to an emergency? When the Wall Street Journal did a major redesign of its front page in 2001, was that because it was about to slip into irrelevance due to the fancy full color USA Today front pages? Or is it possible that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal had established strong reputations independent of their cover design, and earned the ability to make such changes on their own schedule, and on their own terms?
What is the emergency around photo viewing that requires us to keep the Media Viewer software active? -Pete F (talk) 19:34, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Pete, you can go further and point out that these actions by the Board seem to precede the decrease in editors. The reason why editors are leaving is interference from the top bureaucracy (WMF) or from a mid-bureaucracy (ArbCom). It is the behavior of people unqualified to interact with others that causes this. A lot of good people have been treated like utter crap. The WMF makes money off of the work of other people. The content producers do not make any money from their work. They are also treated like crap. The WMF employees and their fellows throughout act like entitled, spoiled brats even though they get in the way of the content instead of increasing it. Lila is incapable of recognizing that, which shows that the WMF should probably be done away with as a whole. It serves as an entity only to hijack and destroy, not help, the projects. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:41, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Ottava, you are welcome to say those things, of course. I'm not sure why I would say them, considering I don't believe them. -Pete F (talk) 19:44, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The "you" was the plural sense, i.e. anyone could go further to say such. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:45, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Ottava, i concur with the first part of your post, not the later part. Especially, we are not yet in a position to judge what Lila might be capable of. We can now, however, where WMF's board and especially it's head are concerned. Those should probably in fact "be done away with", exactly. Ca$e (talk) 20:15, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I wasn't referring to Lila in that, but the many developers of these really awful projects that have a strong track record of making nasty comments and waging war against content producers on the Wikis, in the Lists, and on IRC. I can name 3 major offenders that show that the WMF not only encourages but funds those who represent the exact opposite of what our standards say how to behave while treating the content people like crap. The Queen of Hearts has a far more logical and just way of treating people. Ottava Rima (talk) 21:30, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
An ideal WMF, which would be the only way to truly satisfy the legal requirement that they are not content producers to keep their immunity, would be one that merely operates the servers and is a host only. I would say there could be no more than 10 people in total employed, and the only time they would be allowed to ask for money through banners and the rest is when they prove they need more funds for servers. Ottava Rima (talk) 21:33, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
As one of the top content producers across any project, I have always despised any of the changes and found that they got in the way. The original format was clean, simply, and precise. It allowed for the creation of a true piece of information. All of the other stuff is just unnecessary dressing that takes away from the information and makes it seem less precise, amateurish, and awful. The use of "antique" vs "modern" is like saying there is a difference between graffiti is preferable to the Sistine Chapel simply because your college drop out buddy was the one to create it. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:45, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
As the person who asked the question, let me remind you that the question addressed to Lila was Whatever the aspirations, design goals, consultations and so forth, is your view that Visual Editor actually works? Does Media Viewer actually work? In each case, if not, what plans are there for making it work? Deltahedron (talk) 19:49, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
My view: VisualEditor will probably never work in the sense that it could replace working without it. That might at least theoretically be possible in principle, in, say 5 years maybe, with constant input of very large amounts of developer resources -- almost all of which should be much better spent elsewhere. In the meantime, VE could serve special opt-in roles for subparts of what an actual WP editor does, but never of course as default. Flow definitely will impossibly ever work. People who stand behind Flow have evidently no idea how e.g. the actual moderation of discussions works in a very fluent collaborative project that is trolled more every second, that by the minute needs to move discussion threads from here to there, that needs frequent and convenient cutting and pasting of subthreads, on-the-fly indentions, adaptions of signatures, almost all and much more of that also to be done by bots, etc etc. If Flow could be made completely backward-compatible and then also serve a special opt-in role might be open for discussion, but i severely doubt it, maybe subparts of its code could be reused within a proper project design. With MediaViewer, making it actually work is in principle possible -- depending on what it should achieve. If it should achieve all that is currently achieved, it will still take much time. If however it shall serve just as an optional viewer, without pretending to actually provide useful information especially about license and image content in almost any case, that's not that much of an issue. But whether in that case it should be made opt-out instead of opt-in should be decided very carefully and by the respective communities. Not at all by WMF, who also has multiple times now proven to be incapable of judging on such issues competently. How many board members have even a marginal expertise in what Commons admins are doing on a daily basis? And these people stand behind enforcing such broken software! Ca$e (talk) 20:33, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Hence the proposal for a Board Technology Committee. But the Board hired Lila to manage these things, so I remain interested in hearing her views on the subject. Deltahedron (talk) 10:50, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

We are thinking through how to ensure we hear all audiences. People here most heavily represent the experienced editors, and we need to figure out how to give you more say over what "mature editor features" we will work on and when and what form they take. Keep in mind we work on a lot of features, but the ones that are relevant to you should be especially driven by you. We are not sure that a committee is the right method for making those decisions, but it very well may be. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 16:10, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Open culture in the WMF

What strikes me most in the whole Superprotect-affair is the communication process in the Foundation. Everyone is hiding, everyone seems unsecure, what he can say, what he is allowed to say, what divergences from the big "We" are allowed in the WMF. The VP, that was himself not only inventing the superprotection right but also using it in the German Wikipedia, is saying, he cannot unprotect the page again without discussions. The board members, from them at least five should feel some responsibility for the communities, are hiding behind the official statement. Noone dares to have a divergent opinion, noone dares to say his own point of view. I get the impression, the WMF is a place, where people live in fear of making mistakes, of saying anything wrong, of walking not in the same line. It seems a very hierarchic and autocratic organization, which is quite odd, when the organization is born out of the open and nearly anarchistic structures of collaborative Wiki-editing, that are still ruling the communities. Because of this cultural divergence noone in the WMF seems to be able to find the right tone in speaking to upset community members. At least some in the WMF should know the communities from their own past long-ago. But noone seems to be able, to express their trust and confidence in the communities, their good will for a future collaboration. It seems to me, everyone in the WMF is so filled up with mistrust against how the communities are working and organize themselfs, that whenever a voice is raised (as Jan-Barts above), it reaveals negative opinions, when it's absolutely not the suitable situation to do so. And so better everyone in the WMF speaks nothing, because when their real thoughts and plans were spoken out, it would only antagonize the communities even more. So better work in the shadows, launch unexpected attacks as the superprotect right, and then crawl back and sit them out in the hope, the communities prove impotent again in their reactions. Of course, this is only my impression, but I cannot help seeing it that way after the communicative disasters the last days. --Magiers (talk) 10:25, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Of course, this is not only your impression ;) → «« Man77 »» [de] 14:34, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Aye. --Matthiasb (talk) 15:36, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
i'd say it's a fairly unavoidable impression. Ca$e (talk) 16:58, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I presume the Board exercises collective responsbility? That is, once a decision is taken, members are expected to support it whatever their position might have been in the discussions leading up to the decision. A Board member who cannot reconcile that with their personal position would be expected to resign. At least, that's the case on the various trustee boards that I have been on. Similarly, the Board appoints the ED and then backs her decisions unless and until they find those decisions inconsistent with the Board's strategic direction, in which case they fire her. Of course, those positions are somewhat formal -- a Board, and especially its chair, should try to avoid these situations from occurring. So unless a Board member has resigned, they are held to be in agreement with the Board's decisons, and we should not expect to find Board members disagreeing in public with a decisions they have just signed off. Deltahedron (talk) 17:33, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
You maybe right, how the board works, but this I don't call an open culture. It's a culture, where the different views - if there are any - are discussed behind closed doors, but afterwards everyone must speak with the same voice. So the result is, noone dares to say anything in the fear of saying too much or saying the wrong things. In the chair of the German chapter, votes are recorded, so You can see, if it was an unanimous or a split decision. And the highest court of Germany gives a reasoning of the minority vote if necessary. I don't see, what is wrong in showing that decisions are the result of a contreversial debate. Such a procedere would match much better the open culture of the communities, where every edit is saved and every debate and vote can be reconstructed years later. A board, where everyone has to speak unanimous has a bias to hypocrisy and sorting the world in friends or enemies: en:You're either with us, or against us. I think much of the rage in the communities (at least mine) comes from the fact, that there seems to be not the slightest bit of insight in anyone associated to the WMF to a blatant misuse of power. Maybe there is, but it's kept behind closed doors. Then this would be a bad mistake in communication, that hardens the fronts without need. Of course, if there is no insight at all, every word here is wasted. --Magiers (talk) 20:50, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi guys. There is no special conspiracy here and no hiding. For those of you who are speaking to professional responsibility -- thank you for shedding the light on how that works. It is neither possible nor effective to comment on every statement or discussion. The job of the board, myself and the WMF employees is not to make conversations (unless they we are having them to get their jobs done), but to focus on their specific roles and deliverables. So I am doing this mostly in my free time ;) The fact that there is little discord here is not a mystery -- it is the reality that we all understand that we are building a path towards more effective and more engaged process for building software and running the site. And no, there are no activist decisions here, I am responsible for the decisions made by the WMF. -- LilaTretikov (talk) 04:03, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

So focus on your specific roles and deliverables, immediately. Let me remind you: For WMF, the community must be its biggest asset, WMF "must respect the work and the ideas of our community. We must listen and take into account our communities in any decisions taken to achieve our mission", WMF has to "empower" and "support" us [7]. You can check how big of an asset, how listened to, how respected and how empowered and supported we feel e.g. here (short summary of the results of the largest and most definite survey in our community ever).
People have been relatively patient now for 2 weeks while you in effect, that is, regarding your very mission, role and deliverables, ignored us. Time is up. Ca$e (talk) 07:20, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
I'ld like to pick up on Lila's point "The job of the board, myself and the WMF employees is not to make conversations (unless they we are having them to get their jobs done), but to focus on their specific roles and deliverables. So I am doing this mostly in my free time." It's great that you are is willing to do that, but I think your view about the nature of "conversation" is underambitious. Firstly, constructive engagement with the community is rather different from conversation. We're not just having merry little water-cooler chats here, we're having serious (in the main) discussions about the nature and future of the relationship beween the paid and unpaid members of the community. Surely a healthy working relationship beween the various parts community is something you need in order to deliver? So at the very least being aware of community thinking and feeling is part of your day job. It is certainly part of the remit of the Board to oversee every aspect of the work of the Foundation and so again being aware of that, how it is being handled, and whether the communications are consistent with the Foundation mission and the Board's strategic direction, is again certainly part of their responsibilities: I welcome the fact that Jan-Bart has chosen to participate in the discussion and be brutally frank about the way the he wants to see the whole Foundation, and its relationship with the community, shift. As you say, there are members of the WMF staff explicitly charged with communications between the WMF and the community. I am a little surprised that they have not been as active as I expected here. I think it's fair to say that the members of staff with an explicit communications role are generally overstretched, and equally that in general communications have been less than optimal, possibly because they have not been seen as a high priority. Again I welcome the initiatives that recognise that and aim to improve on it. It is also fair to say that even if things were working perfactly in general, the current situation would probably have overwhelmed them. But nonetheless, as ED you responsbile for getting things done, and that communication is an integral part of the work of WMF. It is not an optional extra to be done in somebody's spare time, even, or especially, yours. I suggest that you need to task someone, or more than one, from the WMF staff, and equip them with the resources and authority to speak on behalf of the Foundation to manage this communications process. In the longer term I would hope that you would view appropriately constructive engagement with the volunteer community as being an integral part of the day job of every single WMF staff member. Deltahedron (talk) 08:46, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
So I am doing this mostly in my free time. – Imagine that. You probably have learned that, except for the paid-editing contributions, most of Wikipedia has been created in people's free time, but I don't buy that from you because it's your job to get rid of us and to replace us with someone else. Period.--Aschmidt (talk) 08:55, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Dear Lila, the editors are contributing all of the content of wikipedia in their free time, not just this discussion, and i think it should be your job to take part in this discussion, as community relations are part of it. So you don't really need to do this in your free time. I also believe your own job definition should comprise more than the focus on "the board, myself and the WMF employees", as it is also stated in the WMF Values, besides the links provided by ca$e above. So far i have read very little on future cooperativity in regard to superprotect, maybe i've been fooling myself a bit over the last years. How do you expect a cooperation of the communities with WMF, when the communication is 'top-down' like in this superprotect case? The german RfC on superprotect had the highest participation in the history of the german language wikipedia and a quite unanimous result of 86.6%, which rarely occurs in democratic settings. Are there any consequences from the RfC for you? What about the Letter_to_Wikimedia_Foundation:_Superprotect_and_Media_Viewer, are there any consequences you see arising from that? How has this discussion so far been constructive from our viewpoint? --Ghilt (talk) 09:03, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Lila, you could undoubtedly spend all your free time debating issues on this page, so perhaps it would help you, and us, for you to give us an indication of what you do and do not find it useful to discuss here, or at all, and where, if at all, issues should be discussed. For example, you might wish to state that broad matters of strategic direction are the responsibility of the Board, and should be discussed with the Board chair, individual members, especially the the co-founder, or at the board noticeboard. You might wish to direct specific proposals for better engagement to the Community Engagement (Product)/Process ideas brainstorming page. You might wish to state what, in your view, is a fixed strategic decision, and not open for discussion. You might, and in my view, should take responsbility for discussing the functioning of the WMF as an organisation. For example, I think it's proper for the community to ask you to account for issues such as whether software products are fit for purpose, and the way in which they are rolled out to the various projects. After all, these are issues squarely within your remit, on which I am sure you already have, or are developing, your views, so it should cost rather little to be open with the results of those assessments. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Deltahedron (talk) 10:35, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for the answer and for the first time showing some anger - maybe it's good, when You start to feel, how many people in the German Wikipedia feel for weeks. But if You say, You are responsible for every single decision in the WMF, than there is no other way as annoying You personally, until the situation is fixed. Of course I would think, it would be much better to have someone to speak to, that knows the communities and their mechanisms, that knows how to find their tones and that also has some authorization in negotiations with the community. I still think, it's odd, when the WMF, that has its roots in the Wiki-editing communities, is build so hierarchic. And when You say, You have no internal discord, because You all want the best, it's hard to believe, why there is so much discord with some community members now. Do You think we all don't want the best? I think, divergence is normal in every culture, when it is not repressed. And it's a quality of it's own. It's hard to understand, why the WMF talks so much about supporting diversity in the editing communities, when there is no diversity shown inside the Foundation itself. --Magiers (talk) 10:49, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Hello Lila, you state: "The fact that there is little discord here is not a mystery -- it is the reality that we all understand that we are building a path towards more effective and more engaged process for building software and running the site." Imho you've got a completely wrong understanding of what your job is. Not the in-group of bureaucrats in SF matters, but the community. You (and the whole WMF) are a servant of the community, not the other way around. The WMF was only created, because the community became too big and successful and needed some professional support, that's your main purpose.
If you really thing there "is little discord", than you are far removed from reality, there is quite heavy discord here, only the fat cats in SF don't seem to give a f*** about it. They act according to "might is right", best example is the brutal "superprotect"-Putsch by Erik) and that's absolute opposite to any possible principle of a project like WP. --Sänger S.G (talk) 12:09, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
I think, You misread her there. She was answering to my complaint, that there are no divergent voices from the WMF. So the "here" refers only to "inside the Foundation". Of course You are right, that the focus should be bigger. Lila also said, there is no decision in the WMF, she is not responsible for, so the Superprotect right was not a Putsch by Eric, but a Putsch by the whole WMF, approved by everyone in the office and the board (who apperently always act in chord). --Magiers (talk) 13:09, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
No. I didn't misread her, I just think it's completely irrelevant what the inner circles of the support professionals in SF are thinking, that's just some marginalia. Whether there is discord or de:Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen is not that relevant, it's the community that matters. And regarding the Putsch: If they are really such a homogeneous bloc, then yes, they are all evil, as the implementation of superprotect was evil to it's core. Superprotect was a declaration of war against the German community, and probably as well a warning shot against all other not subservient enough ones. --Sänger S.G
But if there really is such a culture of obedience, and the WMF is populated by spineless lackeys, that don't dare to utter their own opinions, then they are all not fit for the job. Lackeys are never fit for any job, and esprit de corps is a bad thing usually. --Sänger S.G (talk) 13:24, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Just for the record Lila, in case your sentence "The fact that there is little discord here is not a mystery -- it is the reality that we all understand that we are building a path towards more effective and more engaged process for building software and running the site." wasn't meant as a failed ironic attempt to play down the situation. The actual discord between WMF and German WP community is not a little but is a major one. (And from discussion here and elsewhere I got the feeling that parts in the English WP community have similar feelings.) We are feeling utterly disgraced, deeply misunderstood, fairly hurt, and are very displeased. With every statement from the Foundation through its Board of Trustees and other channels frustration is growing. I don't know wether You (You as the foundation as a whole) are trying to play out but every day this goes on anger in the community is deepening. This won't calm down by playing out, this gets only worse. There is only a small window left open to close the deep trench the superprotect right and the overruling of community decisions have ripped, but this small window begins to close. The German WP community has lost its trust to the foundation to full extent now, there is no trust anymore now, and it will take much more efforts than those seen by now to reconcilate the community again with the foundation, and I am quite unsure wether this is possible on the short run at all. It is high time to take the community serious. Please act now. Remove superprotection rights immidiately and start to discuss how community decisions will be respected. --Matthiasb (talk) 16:54, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Specific questions for Lila

I thought it might save time to list specific questions for Lila here. I would suggest (although this is of course her talk page and not mine) that this section be restricted to questions by other people and answers by Lila. Non-Lila people wanting to answer, or comment on, the questions might prefer to start another section. It might also be helpful to ask only questions that are requestes for information that she is in a position to answer, rather than rhetorical or otherwise non-question questions. I've gathered together some that have already been asked and not, I think, yet answered: please add any that I may have missed. Deltahedron (talk) 15:52, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Could you please explain what position WMF takes on the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (UNESCO)
  • Who were the executives responsible for the enforced MV-Rollout and the Superprotect operation
  • Is it your view that Visual Editor actually works? Does Media Viewer actually work? In each case, if not, what plans are there for making it work?
  • Is mathematics is not "foundational" or should we conclude that mathematics is indeed foundational, but not foundational enough for WMF to work on in the foreseeable future?

Answers to specific questions for Lila from not Lila

Here is such a section. Please post such things here instead of above so we can keep the above limited to questions for Lila and their answers from Lila. Zellfaze (talk) 19:59, 25 August 2014 (UTC)