User talk:Mdennis (WMF)

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No problem[edit]

Hello, thank you for the communication and no problem for the mistake. :) --Malore (talk) 11:46, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

Community consultation[edit]

I read your post here, clicked to the page 2016 Strategy/Community consultation and was rather shocked. The least problem is that the German translation is, well, moderate. As a German, it is easier to read it in English if you want to understand what's the matter. A much bigger problem is that the questions themselves are heavily biased. This is the case in all three questions, but most significantly in the last one, knowledge.

"What do you think is the best way for the Wikimedia Foundation to adapt to changing knowledge needs of readers (short snippets, diverse formats, language, etc.) and to help facilitate content quality?" Sorry, I'm not at all convinced that the "knowledge needs" (whatever this is) are changing in the direction that is intimated here. "Short snippets" you will get anywhere (especially via Google), you certainly don't need Wikipedia for this, not at all. On the other hand, why not define the thing from our own side? We should ask: what can we give that others cannot? These are issues like in-depth knowledge, interdisciplinary knowledge, personal partners you can address, and most of all, learning by doing, i.e. by contributing knowledge. Moreover, acquiring knowledge is always a process that needs effort. What you can acquire without effort is not knowledge. The thing about knowledge is that before you get acquainted with a subject you don't even know what you "need". How should I answer such a question? The only possibility is to reject the question itself. My opinion is that the WMF is preparing to drive on in the wrong direction, only faster than before.

I could say similar things concerning "reach" (I will never understand why "traffic" should be a good thing in itself!) or "community" (I will never understand why "health" should be a suitable term to describe an active community) but "knowledge" is the most problematic issue. Why isn't it possible to ask truly open questions? This thing looks as though WMF "knows already" what is right but the communities are permitted to answer minor questions about the way how to reach these top-down stated goals. I don't like that at all. And I'm a community member since 2005, with a history of featured articles, meta work and sysop work.--Mautpreller (talk) 20:06, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

Hello, Mautpreller. I'm sorry that the German translations do not yet seem to work for you; you are very welcome to help out! Translations are open to ongoing collaboration.
I think if you feel that the questions are themselves problematic, that's worth noting in your response to the consultation in the individual talk pages. Our strategy consultant will be reviewing those answers, and reading your thoughts will help her in summarizing trends.
Your open ended input is certainly welcome and is invited as "option 7" of our approaches to each of our focal areas. If you think we should be doing something entirely different, please do indicate there. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:13, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
First: Sorry for the sub-prime translation, I think it's a bit better now (THX Jcornelius), I'm obviously not that good in it.
But I have to agree with Mautpreller. While I translated this, I often asked myself: This looks like a "Guided Democracy", a putinesque charade by those higher ups to pretend that the unwashed masses have some input. The WMF is not the avant-garde of the proletariat, it's just a service agency of the true bosses, the communities. Whom have they asked in the communities beforehand? Where was this pre-consultation in deWP, enWP, nlWP, esWP etc., that had to be somewhere, as without involvement of the communities from the very beginning, this is simply not valid.
Without community vetting, no decision by the WMF is valid, full stop. Without full and open community involvement from the very beginning, no process has any validity at all.
Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 20:47, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Hi, Sänger. Your support with translations has been much appreciated. We were not able to give much time for that, and you have really helped out a lot.
One of the bases for this consultation is the 2015 Strategy/Community consultation. There were also several small community consultations in the weeks before this was put up for translation - I'm afraid they were small, mostly because of time limitations. As 2016_Strategy/FAQ#Why_this_process.3F notes, we have to finish this process quickly. When the WMF hired an external contractor in mid-December, we thought it was important that her preparation for this broad, movement-wide consultation on WMF strategy include hearing about the movement and its needs, and about the WMF’s role in the movement, from a broad range of contributors, not only staff. While the holiday season and our own Foundation annual meeting made the timing tight, we accordingly reached out to around 45 people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to set up conversations with her. Because we would not be able to supply translators, we did need to look for people who could converse in English, but otherwise our goal was to reach out to people from across the world with diverse areas of work, including volunteer developers, stewards, OTRS correspondence, movement affiliates and content contributors. We by no means had involvement from all projects (although I'm happy that a few Germans were present). I do not have permission to publicize the list of attendees from the attendees themselves.
One of the things our strategy consultant is doing is putting together a list of best practices for us going forward so that we do, for instance, start this process sooner and not find our time so limited. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 21:08, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Just a short info: I've proofread Sänger's all translations now, I've done some fixes and corrected some terms, now all German translations should be consistent and correct. Especially the term "knowledge" can't be translated to German without loosing some significance, I've added a footnote for that. Best regards and good luck with the consultation! (I appreciate it, especially comparing to last year's "consultation".) --Jcornelius (talk) 23:07, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Hi, please make a dummy edit here: 2016 Strategy/Knowledge – I've put the pagedisplaytitle to translation but it cannot be translated untill the bot wakes up, thanks.--Piramidion 06:04, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done, User:Piramidion. Please let me know if I didn't do it correctly. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:38, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
The pagedisplaytitle can be translated now, thanks. It's not a big deal, but there's a visible spacing between lines on the top of the page (between "translate this page" and the <languages/> block). So to do a dummy edit without visible changes it is recommended to insert or remove a space inline. You may use the "languages" tag for this purpose, like this: remove space here <languages /> or add a space here <languages/>, this doesn't affect the visual appearance of the block itself --Piramidion 16:46, 21 January 2016 (UTC)


No thing Bungsuaja4 (talk) 21:24, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

Double delivery at Novial[edit]

Novial (novwiki) received two copies of your last missive. They also received two copies of the preceding one.
I was intending to delete the duplicates, but thought you should have a look first.
Cheers, Varlaam (talk) 18:07, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

Hello, Varlaam. Sorry about that! Those mailing lists are reused, and it seems that at some point Novial must have been double-added. User:PEarley (WMF), you helped connect me with the list. Can you check to see if duplicates on the master you found are gone? :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 22:45, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Varlaam, not sure why that was delivered twice. I have nov:Wikipedia:Li komun chambre on my list, but only once. I'll see if MassMessage has any similar errors recently ... Patrick Earley (WMF) (talk) 22:57, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
I've left a query here, Varlaam, if you want to watch that page. Looks like that problem has been happening for a while, and with different target lists. Best, Patrick Earley (WMF) (talk) 23:35, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
There is doubtless a rational explanation.
As a software engineer, I can say that investigating a seemingly trivial matter can expose something of greater importance.
That can be the main reason to pursue it.
Varlaam (talk) 03:45, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

Hello Mdennnis![edit]

I noticed that your talkpage contains the words: "One of my core goals is to improve communication between community members and staff. Do you have questions? Do you have ideas? Please let me know."

What have you achieved so far in order to reach that goal?

I have an idea, maybe the WMF should stop treating the community like shit. Do you agree? I think the WMF should apologize to the community for its incompetence and the fact it has wasted so much time and money. All WMF people should be fired, and only a handful (just the ones who are competent) should be rehired. Do you agree that the WMF should apologize to the community? Do you agree that it would be a good idea to fire everyone, and rehire the ones who aren't incompetent? I think that this is a great way to save money. The Quixotic Potato (talk) 20:24, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Hi, The Quixotic Potato. I think good communication is a two-way street. Happy to talk to you, but not with this tone. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:35, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Hi Mdennis. What does that smiley mean? I wrote this on Danny's page, but the same applies here: "Would you have treated me better if I would've lied to you and manipulated you into believing that I am a positive person? If so, then I am willing to adapt". I am not a very optimistic person. But OK, my tone will be as positive as I can make it. The Quixotic Potato (talk) 20:45, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
The smiley means that I want you to know I do not harbor ill will towards you in spite of the tone of your approach. I don't believe that I treated you badly. I have invited you to talk to me, just in a different tone. It has nothing to do with optimism, just collegial conversation. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:48, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Well, then I promise to try to be as "collegial" as I can be, OK? As far as I know you haven't treated me badly, TBH I barely know who you are so I have no reason to like or dislike you. I dislike certain companies, but of course I do not dislike every single employee they've ever had! Can you please reply to my questions now? The Quixotic Potato (talk) 20:56, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Do you have any questions that aren't of the "When did you stop beating your wife?" variety, The Quixotic Potato? I'll answer questions that aren't phrased to insult and humiliate people. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 21:00, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
As far as I know none of the questions above are phrased to insult and humiliate people.
"What have you achieved so far in order to reach that goal?" is not an insult, nor an attempt to humiliate you or anyone else. It is simply a question from a curious potato. I apologize if you felt insulted by this question, because that wasn't my intention, but I do not believe that that question is humiliating or insulting to anyone.
I will rephrase the rest of the questions for you. The Quixotic Potato (talk) 21:10, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Interjecting as an admin who has Maggie's talk page on my watchlist: The Quixotic Potato, your approach here is nowhere near my understanding of generative and respectful communication. I'd suggest you reflect on more than the mere phrasing of your questions. Maggie, from my perspective you've been remarkably patient here. If there's any way I can help around this let me know. -Pete F (talk) 21:16, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
@Peteforsyth: Hi Pete. I am not quite sure what you mean, but you made me curious. What do you think I should reflect on? Your userpage contains the sentence: "The Wikimedia Foundation misunderstands the movement it was created to support, and consequently undermines it." I agree. The Quixotic Potato (talk) 21:20, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
@Peteforsyth: I used the word "shit" and I said some negative things about the WMF. Mdennis has been an admin on since 2007 so I would be very surprised if Mdennis would need your help to deal with that. If you really want to help someone, please make one of the following links turn blue: Kathy Ferguson, Danica Draskovic, Heather Dean, Hörður Tryggvi Bragason, María Elísabet Bragadóttir, Lóa Björk Björnsdóttir, Nicole-Claude Mathieu, Julka Hlapec-Đorđević, Lidia Falcón, Kehajia Kalliopi, Carol Keyes, Barbara Leon, Patricia Mainardi, Niamh McLoughlin, Carol Moore, Agnes de Silva. Thanks in advance, The Quixotic Potato (talk) 09:48, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
@Mdennis (WMF):
  1. Do you agree that the WMF (as a whole) should treat the community better than it currently does? I believe that this is a big problem, but maybe you disagree.
  2. Do you agree that it would be a good idea for the WMF (as a whole) to formally apologize to the community? I think that this is an important step towards a better future.
  3. Do you agree with me that it would be a good idea for the WMF to fire many people and hire many new people? For example, I believe that it would be a good idea to hire many new coders to work on phabricator tickets.
I hope I have phrased these questions in a way that is acceptable for you. I think most people use smileys in response to jokes/funny stuff. Maybe it is better to invent a new symbol to indicate that you do not harbor ill will against someone, because using a smiley can be a bit confusing. The Quixotic Potato (talk) 21:38, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Hello, The Quixotic Potato. I consider the open - mouthed smiley - :D - in response to jokes/funny stuff. To me, a smily - :) - is the equivalent of a friendly face. If you came up to my desk to talk to me (if I had a desk), I would smile at you. If you pop by my talk page to talk to me, I'm likely to smile at you as well. I do it a lot, as my talk page history will show.

I will answer your questions, understanding that I am speaking for myself (a staff member who also happens to be community, albeit not as active at the moment as I want to be), and not as some kind of global spokesperson for the WMF.

Question 1: I do agree that the WMF should treat the community better than it currently does. Moreover, I think the bulk or perhaps even all of the WMF would agree. There's a lot of room for improvement on how the WMF engages and where. For instance, we've been hoping to get out for some time a hub that will raise transparency and make it easier for people to talk to staff. It's in the works, but we have rather a shortage of people to work on it right now. There are only seven of us in Support and Safety (who would probably primarily staff the conversational part). We're heavily engaged in the strategy consultation and in our harassment project. Hasn't been abandoned, though - still in the works.

Question 2: No, I don't. I think formal apologies are political gestures and kind of empty. I think apologies have best meaning when they are specific and related to the incident being apologized for and when they reflect the feelings of individuals. "We regret any inconvenience...." "We are sorry to say...." No, to me that's not the same.

Question 3: No, I don't. We may need more resources in some areas and less in others, but I lack the data to support such a sweeping statement. I don't think coding is all that the WMF should do. I think we need to be smart about assessing the impact of WMF work and figuring out where resources should be allocated. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 22:06, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Hi Mdennis! Thanks for your response. Of course I understand that you are not the WMF and that the WMF is not you (pars pro toto & totum pro parte).
To me, as an outsider, "Support and Safety" sounds very important so I am suprised to learn that there are only 7 people in that team.
If we do not agree on what the problems are then it is very difficult to solve them so I think it is good news that many people in the WMF believe that the WMF should treat the community better than it currently does. I think many members of the community are unaware of this, or very sceptical about it.
I agree that formal apologies can be empty and meaningless. But I know from experience that apologizing is also a powerful tool that allows both sides to move on. Because of the lack of an apology it seems (for those on the outside) that the WMF isn't learning/improving. Maybe if the WMF would apologize for some of its mistakes the community would stop being mad about them. It is far easier to forgive someone who made a mistake and apologized than someone who made a mistake, refused to admit it, was finally forced by the community to stop making that mistake and then simply stopped talking about it, which I believe to be the current pattern.
Maybe an apology is too much to ask. But I do think it would be good if the WMF would at least acknowledge the fact that they've made a mistake (instead of claiming that the community is opposed to change). The community really wants the software to change... as long as it is an improvement!
Creating this "hub" sounds like an excellent idea. I imagine it would be a centralized place where the community can post feedback and ask questions and the WMF can respond. Is that correct? If so, then we need that yesterday.
It would be nice to have a FAQ, and a place where WMF members can describe the projects they are working on and invite the community to give feedback. Currently, the community isn't able to see what the WMF people are working on. More transparancy = more trust. Another problem is that the community is unable to give feedback on projects that are unfinished. I think a lot of time and money is wasted because the WMF does not ask the community for help when it should (in the earliest stage possible). Certain members of the community are ready, willing and able to point out the mistakes made by the WMF and some can even fix/improve the code written by the WMF.
Because the community doesn't know what the WMF is working on we have to wait until the WMF releases something, and then everyone complains and the WMF is forced to undo the changes that were made.
There must be someone in the WMF's hierarchy who is able to allocate more resources to the team to speed up the process of creating this hub. Do you know who that might be?
The Quixotic Potato (talk) 00:57, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
There really isn't at the moment, The Quixotic Potato. :) We're tasked very heavily at the strategy consultation. But we are hiring, and as our capacity increases and we get through strategy and annual plan, we should be set to go.
There actually is quite a lot of information out there on what the WMF is doing, from early stages, but many people don't know how to find it - which is a big problem that's improved in recent years, but not enough. We see the Hub as not only a place to talk to the WMF, but also to clearly link to where you can go to become more involved in various projects. You can learn a lot about what products are being produced at mw:Wikimedia Engineering (and linked subpages, of course). You can read about education and other efforts at outreach:Main, at which site exists the education newsletter. We want to make it easier for people to know what's going on and to know where to go to get involved - ask questions, challenge ideas, suggest new ones, help out.
In terms of your tone, I really hope on reflection you can recognize that your initial approach here was unfriendly. I see you questioning User:Peteforsyth above - I appreciated Pete's input. Your initial approach felt like an attack, and his calling that out was a kindness and something we should all do when we see aggressive behavior. Whether I can handle it is beyond the point, really - I shouldn't have to. And it's not really the most productive approach for you, either. People are much more likely to respond to you in an open and frank manner if you talk to them like colleagues. Your last round of questioning was something I felt comfortable responding to. Your first round wasn't. I know you have valid criticism, and I'm happy to listen to it and respond and help how I can in a collegial manner. I imagine I want better relations between the WMF and the Wikimedia volunteers as much as you do. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:36, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Hi Mdennis,
I do not like meta-discussions, but I think that you need to carefully re-read the stuff I wrote.
You are not the WMF. I am annoyed by decisions made by a constantly changing group of people over the years.
There was one single question about you, and it was phrased neutrally, and multiple questions about the WMF that were phrased negatively.
Maybe you feel a bit uncomfortable answering them because you belong to that group; but it would be incredibly unlikely that you personally made the decisions that annoyed me.
If I say something like "humans should stop mistreating animals" then you would agree with me, despite the facts that you are human and that you personally do not mistreat animals.
I don't know about you, but personally I am a member of a lot of groups. I can say many negative things about these groups. Many of those things do not apply to me, but I do not feel insulted if someone says (for example) that potatoes are terrible dancers. I know I am a great dancer, but I do not deny that potatoes in general suck at dancing.
Pete was actually quite insulting to the both of us (by implying that you cannot handle having a conversation with me and vice versa), so I gave him a list of articles to work on. I took the names from the article "List of feminists".
So no, my initial approach was not unfriendly. I understand you feel some loyalty towards co-workers and the organisation as a whole. Unlike many WMF members you actually started as a member of the community. At the moment, the community is yelling I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore. You should too.
The Quixotic Potato (talk) 21:18, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Looks like we disagree on that, then. :/ --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 21:40, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
About the initial approach being unfriendly? It is only unfriendly if you deliberately misinterpret my comments. And deliberately misinterpreting someone's comments is unfriendly. The Quixotic Potato (talk) 22:40, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Sorry to bother you again, but Pete is trying to cause drama. Someone who intentionally makes non-constructive edits with the goal of provoking an angry reaction from other users is a troll. I have deleted his comment and I have responded to him on his own talkpage. Instead of giving him the reaction he was hoping for I have posted a polite request to help me with a very boring task. Face-grin.svg The Quixotic Potato (talk) 00:30, 3 February 2016 (UTC)