User talk:Mdennis (WMF)

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Code of Conduct[edit]

Maggie, when you have a moment please review the progress that has been made at mw:Code of Conduct/Draft. I invite you to consider whether that progress is satisfactory, or whether, as has been suggested at mw:Talk:Code of Conduct/Draft#Nine months and mw:Talk:Code of Conduct/Draft#What happens next?, it is now time for your staff to move this project on to its next stage. In any case, this is another area in which I do not see any way to help you. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:07, 30 May 2016 (UTC)

We discussed this at another page in June. Are you still satisfied with the progress being made on this code? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 17:25, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
I'm told it's going well and is probably not far from completion. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 12:11, 6 August 2016 (UTC)
I do not know who has told you that, but if you had asked me I would have given you a different answer. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 15:35, 6 August 2016 (UTC)
Let me just follow up on that. I note you didn't answer my question as to whether you regarded progress as satisfactory. Let me give you some reasons to believe that it is not. It is now over a year since this project was started, and it is not yet finished. That is in itself quite deplorable. The ultimate object of this and indeed any other such code must surely be to reduce the level of misconduct in Wikimedia technical spaces and make those spaces more civilised, more pleasant, more fulfilling and more productive to work in. You know better than most of us what some people are suffering from in those spaces, and unnecessary delay in promulgating a code of conduct is unacceptable for that reason alone. The management of the drafting of this code, and indeed almost all the drafting work, has been in the hands of WMF staff. This may be inevitable in that paid staff probably have more time to devote to this task than volunteers, but speaking as a volunteer attempting to contribute, I felt excluded by actions of staff. One, not quite trivial example: in September I raised a legal question which I felt need attention from WMF Legal. Quite by chance I discsovered some months later that a member of staff had taken on themselves to tell Legal (through some other channel that I was not privy to) that the question did not need to be answered. The conduct of the discussion has been managed, even micro-managed, by members of staff who have taken it on themselves to declare whether and when consensus has been reached. The rather few non-staff participants left have on several occasions posted comments to the effect that they do not recognise this as a community consensus. I agree with that position.
Well, let us suppose that you regard it as satisfactory that this code should be drafted by your staff and promulgated on the authority of the WMF. This is a tenable position, just not what was initially envisaged or hoped for. Let me now address whether this project is being effectively delivered on those terms. There has explicitly never been a timeline or schedule for delivery, even though I have asked for one. There is no published stakeholder mapping or communications plan. There is no sense of pace or any of the other positive outcomes one might expect from such a closely managed process. This is quite unsatisfactory, and the result is that after more than a year there is no code and no plausible date for the delivery of a code. This is not what I would recognise as success.
Having said which, let me suggest some positive actions that you may wish to consider. There needs to be an actionable plan for delivery to the community and generation of consensus; there needs to be a set of metrics for the success or otherwise of this code that you can use to determine whether or not it is succeeding once it is in place; and there needs to be a timetable. I am sure you agree with me that this project is capable of being effectively delivered and being of benefit to the community as a whole. I ask you to take steps to make that happen. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 11:09, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
Am I satisfied? Based on my understanding, yes. Am I delighted? No.
I would have been delighted to have a quick and effective solution, with universal agreement, that would ensure that people could feel safe working in technical spaces with the knowledge that, if they were mistreated, they would have willing assistance from others. That said, this would never have been my expectation. Through my years as a volunteer and staff I've watched (or lightly participated) in conversations trying to figure out how to solve this problem in another space, English Wikipedia (my Wikimedia birthplace as it were :)). There, the Personal Attack Noticeboard of 2005 lasted less than two years before it was closed due to the contentiousness of the board and its perceived ineffectiveness. In 2012, the Wikiquette assistance program went down for similar reasons, with a consensus to find another alternative. (Transparency: I opposed. I thought we needed to fix it.) So far as I'm aware, no alternative was ever created, and in 2014 en:Wikipedia:Requests for comment/User conduct was also shut down for inefficiency. What this all comes down to, I guess, is that I'm sadly aware how difficult it is to create effective processes for dealing with misconduct and to reach agreement on those, and as delighted as I would have been, I'd have never expected it to be swift or easy. Behavioral policy and enforcement is arguably the most complex and challenging topic our communities have to navigate. I'd rather see a slowly hammered out code that will work and will last, and I hope that the time and effort that have gone into this one will be so rewarded.
My experience as a Wikimedian - overall, not specifically as a WMF employee - is actually that volunteers can drive projects quite ably. Volunteers’ energy and ability to achieve is pretty spectacular; it's the base on which this whole thing was created, after all. :) Because of that, even given the complexity of responding to behavioral issues, I don't think it's inevitable that staff lead drafting the code, but I can see many reasons why staff may wind up doing so. In relation to this, staff are a large component of the technical spaces and so are deeply impacted by behavior there themselves. And it’s particularly likely that staff may lead if there's not any particular group of volunteers who are able under the circumstances to hammer down on solving a difficult situation. I know from Support and Safety's exploration of harassment last year that some in community are afraid of becoming too visible in this area, because they've become targets after doing so. (For that matter, so have some staff.) I am sorry to hear that you feel the process hasn't been as collaborative as you'd like - I don't know what question it is you felt legal needed to answer or who decided on what basis that it may not have been necessary to consult them. If you still have unresolved questions there, I'm happy to ask somebody to look into it, but I can't promise that legal will be able to specifically answer the question (they can only give legal advice to the WMF).
I imagine you know that this plan was not born in my team or even in my department, but that rather it came out of those staff and volunteers who worked in the technical spaces themselves. My awareness of it has accordingly risen as it has grown and as my own role has evolved. What I've been told by both staff and volunteers who've discussed this with me is that progress on the Code of Conduct work has been slow, but steady, with consensus reached on each section as it is complete. (I don't imagine consensus will mean unanimity, and I do hear that you don't necessary agree that consensus has been reached at points.) I am told that it is approaching the final stages, which would seem quite satisfactory to me. I'm not sure that I agree with you that a timetable is essential when it comes to collaboratively agreeing on an approach to a problem that has been demonstrably so difficult to handle. Such conversations shouldn't go on forever, of course. But building the right approach may be time-consuming, and - if it is the right approach - will be worth it in the end.
In terms of metrics to evaluate its effectiveness, we are building review of community health in our Community Engagement Insights surveys, which I hope will deliver regular data on people's sense of safety in the various spaces of our projects and also in the effectiveness of techniques and policies to handle issues. This should allow us to assess what our effectiveness is and to adjust as we go. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:57, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
If you are satisfied, then all I can do is wait for the process currently underway to complete at some point in the indefinite future. I am increasingly disappointed with how hard it is to help the WMF. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:53, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Maggie, I just want to say thanks for that summary. My mind is too full of other issues to keep on top of the TCOC as well, but I am hopeful that we will make some progress on the broad issue of civility in the community, particularly in regards to how it affects contributor diversity and attrition. I'm not sure that a COC is the tool that I would choose to invest so much time in; I think that some of the themes and projects being developed in the anti-harassment campaign may be more fruitful. But I am glad that people are viewing the problem of incivility with enough seriousness that they are trying to make it better.
  • Rogol Domedonfors I appreciate your asking questions about the progress of this matter. I've communicated occasionally with Maggie for years, and I'm confident in her ability to do as well as anyone could reasonably be expected to do in her position. On a personal level, in some ways I don't have much choice but to trust WMF people to do the right thing because I'm too stretched -- and the organization is now simply too big -- for me to try to keep track of numerous important initiatives while also trying to make progress on my own projects both on and off of Wikimedia. While I have some vivid memories of WMF doing things in ways that were harmful, I'd like to suggest to you that you choose your priorities carefully. Of the issues that I see as the biggest risks and those with the highest potential benefit to the community, I might suggest that this is one which none of us should lose sleep over. If you'd like to help WMF, I'm sure Maggie could offer some good suggestions about areas in which your input could be particularly helpful. I like that you are trying to do the right thing. (: --Pine 07:38, 11 August 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for that. Unfortunately the overlap seems to be narrowing between those areas where I believe the WMF needs help; where the WMF is ready, willing and able to accept help; and what I personally can do. Incidentally, it is not a question of wanting "to help WMF", it is a question of wanting to support the mission. The WMF and the volunteer community are or ought to be working together to that end. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:26, 11 August 2016 (UTC)

This "hub" thing[edit]


Please ping me when responding. I was wondering if any progress has been made on the "hub"-idea, and when we can expect to see it in action. TBH I think it is very very important. The Quixotic Potato (talk) 22:48, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

Hello, User:The Quixotic Potato. Progress is being made, yes. This year, the “central Wikimedia resource center” (as it’s currently titled) is part of the annual plan, as a series of quarterly goals being lead by the Learning & Evaluation team. It is in early testing phase, and I hope will be rolled out before too much longer. I expect to be hearing the results of the testing by the end of this quarter. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:55, 16 August 2016 (UTC)
The objective appears to be "Develop a Wikimedia Resource Center that allows community leaders to design, deliver and evaluate core programs more efficiently – through semi-automated tools and infrastructure". Please tell us who those community leaders are, and how they were involved in the planning stage. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:23, 16 August 2016 (UTC)
It would also be helpful to have someone explain the difference, if any, between this new Wikimedia Resource Center and the Communications/Resource center. The latter seems to be a revival of the (presumed defunct) Communication Projects Group, and overlaps somewhat with the Communications committee. Please consider whether there ought to be a single locus that explains the remit and status of all these activities, groups, centres, programmes, and how to interact with them. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 09:27, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
Hi Rogol Domedonfors, I'm responding to your questions below:
1. Who these community leaders are and how they were involved in the planning stage. We refer to program leaders here - those Wikimedians who develop and manage programs, like editathons, photo contests, writing workshops, educations programs, etc. We consulted with many of them in different one on one conversations through November last year. After that, we had an online conversation about our Program Capacity and Learning strategy, which was drafted based on these ideas. You can see the plan on Program Capacity and Learning page, and the conversation on the the talk page. Although that team has split into the Learning and Evaluation and Programs teams, we are still working on the same shared strategy and projects. Consultations were also conducted at various pre-conference Learning Days amongst programs groups by L&E (and, formerly, PC&L). These consultations, however, are not over. As we launch and develop the Wikimedia Resource Center, we will continue to gather feedback as Wikimedians begin to interact with it in order to also improve its usability.
2. Differences with other resource centers and comment on committees' roles. The Wikimedia Resource Center is an umbrella that includes the Communications Resource Center. We aim to connect from the WRC all resources available for Wikimedians. One of them is the Communications Resource Center. There are other resources, as well, for example: Program Toolkits for Wikimedia movement leaders, Technical Collaborations Guidelines for Mediawiki volunteers, Support and Safety public question posting system, just to name a few. As you state, the Communications Committee is expected to oversee, contribute and promote to the Communications Resource Center, and this will continue to be the case. As a a group of people with expert skills and the capacity to mentor others on diverse communication topics, we will continue to connect people to them and we hope to do this through the Wikimedia Resource Center, as well. So there will be two types of content linked from the Wikimedia Resource Center: (1) guides like toolkits and FAQs, and (2) people that can give direct support. We will also explain in which ways Wikimedians can contribute.
I hope this gives more clarity about the project. Please let me know if you have any other questions or comments. María (WMF) (talk) 17:01, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for that information. To my mind, "community leaders" is different from "program leaders" and in particular I would have hoped to see a wider consultation than direct personal approaches to those already benefitting from the current system. You might have taken the opportunity to capture the views of those who do not participate in these programmes already, and find out why not, for example. Your comments on the Wikimedia Resource Center are most interesting. The multiplicity of resources available underline, I think, the suggestion that I made above to Maggie, which I reiterate for clarity here, that she "consider whether there ought to be a single locus that explains the remit and status of all these activities, groups, centres, programmes, and how to interact with them". I do not believe the Resource Centre is intended to be that locus. I look forward to hearing Maggie's response to my suggestion at some point. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 17:34, 22 August 2016 (UTC)

Concerns about Foundation grant[edit]

I left some concerns regarding a grant that was approved on its talk page. Would you be willing to respond?--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 23:12, 12 August 2016 (UTC)

Hello, The Devil's Advocate . I have full confidence in our grants team and in the organizers of that conference to make sound decisions about attendees and events. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:56, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

Interview Request on Engagement Report[edit]

Hi Maggie, I’m a researcher and author of an upcoming report commissioned by Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace and slated for publication in early 2017.

I’m conducting interviews in September to increase our understanding of whether NGOs, nonprofits and even for-profit companies can increase reach and impact if they invest in and empower volunteer leaders. We're talking to everyone from Airbnb to Planned Parenthood.

We'd love to talk to somebody at Wikimedia about your volunteer relations work, particularly with what I'll call "top-tier" Wikipedians. The interview will take no more than 45 minutes and is very informal. We’re talking with organizations who excel at volunteer engagement to uncover patterns, insights and best practices that we can share with the rest of the nonprofit sector.

I'm guessing that you're the best person to talk to, but if there's somebody else at Wikimedia, let me know. If possible, please email me at darren at darrenbarefoot dot com--I don't check my Wikipedia notifications very often. Thanks! Dbarefoot (talk) 20:16, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

Hi @Dbarefoot:! It would be great if you could email your request to Our communications team, who watches that, will be able to connect you with the best person for the interview whether that be Maggie or someone else within the org. Jalexander--WMF 20:46, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, will do. Dbarefoot (talk) 03:40, 14 September 2016 (UTC)

Locked account with staff rights[edit]

Hi Maggie. Does Geoff still need staff rights? His account is locked and he's left WMF. Maybe you forgot to request us the removal? Best regards, —MarcoAurelio 11:19, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Hey, Marco. He most certainly does not. Thanks for noticing that. I don't actually do that request - it's a workflow through our human resources team. That said, we have since Geoff's departure added a member of the Support and Safety Team to the offboarding process for staff, which will hopefully help avoid such matters being neglected in the future! I'll point this out to Joe and ask him to look into it. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:47, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
@MarcoAurelio: Did they already get removed? Or are you talking about a different account? :) Joe Sutherland (WMF) (talk) 23:38, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
Hello Joe. I removed Geoff rights' based on Maggie's above statement. Please let me know if that was wrong. Best regards, —MarcoAurelio 06:02, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
That's alright - I was going to remove them myself but saw they had already been removed. Thanks for that. :) Joe Sutherland (WMF) (talk) 18:39, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

In case you find interest[edit]

Hello Mdennis, I hope this message finds you happy and well. As your time permits, please review a question I asked at Your decision to comment or not rests with your discretion alone. I will be glad simply knowing you are aware of it. Sincerely.John Cline (talk) 13:23, 26 September 2016 (UTC)

Hello John Cline! I just wanted to let you know that Maggie has asked me to look into this issue for you (she's travelling for meetings this week, and my whole team has just returned from a different week of meetings, so we're playing a bit of catch-up). I am going to ask around my team and see if anyone can help supply an answer for you; will get back to you here (and ping you!) when I have more information. Kbrown (WMF) (talk) 13:43, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for this reply. I appreciate the many things WMF staffers do to ensure Wikipedia has her needed things. I am humbled that amidst fulfilling that charge, time is set aside for a team of professionals to research the answer to a question asked by a single editor, especially when that editor is one like myself.John Cline (talk) 20:26, 27 September 2016 (UTC)