User talk:The Land/Why do They always do It wrong

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Product Development[edit]

(Reposting from the comment I left on Facebook) This is great, Chris. One other thing I think both staff and community can do is work more closely on product development together. WMF product development /engineering, with maybe a few exceptions, has generally happened in isolation of users (community) and I think there is a lot that can be done to involve the community more deeply in the the process. I believe this would have the effect of helping better, more valuable products be developed, fomenting a deeper sense of agency and connectedness amongst users, and ultimately a healthier relationship. It could be done simply, but this is easier said than done ;) Awjrichards (WMF) (talk) 18:40, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

Yes the recent prioritisation exercise was good. But generally the approach has been to design things as if the community is only fit for bugtesting. If you want to solve the community's problems I would suggest involving the community from the stage where you are defining problems and solutions. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:58, 27 February 2016 (UTC)
I agree - I am sure there is scope to do this, probably easier in some areas than others.. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:01, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
Awjrichards (WMF), I wanted to mention the WMF product development process that is being developed. As a community liaison (and MediaWiki community member) I think it's a solid attempt to provide a roadmap for development teams and community. If you haven't seen it, please take a look and provide feedback. CKoerner (WMF) (talk) 22:00, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
  • This is a great essay, Chris. Thank you. SarahSV talk 20:45, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

Consultation outcomes and expectations[edit]

Thanks for taking the time to write this up, The Land. I'll be bringing this to the attention of my colleagues in any future consultations I work on.

Also, at the recent metrics meeting earlier this week, one staff member brought up a great point that could also be added here: consultations with the community should make clear the general nature of the outcomes that are expected to come from them. For instance, myself and a few others on the Community Resources team finished this consultation on Wikimania recently. We had written this section that we intended to use feedback to implement a broad change to Wikimania, but some feedback our team received noted that something closer to a recommendation was expected rather than a broad change. Looking at the main consultation page now, we probably could have done a bit more to make that clearer, and further explained that the change would be experimental, and not necessarily permanent. I JethroBT (WMF) (talk) 19:56, 27 February 2016 (UTC)


Acknowledge the value of other peoples’ contributions is an important topic, thanks for raising it. I know I'm not the only person to have had bad experiences with the WMF on this one. As well as being the BY bit of CC-BY-SA, attribution in the broadest sense is one of the key motivators of our volunteers. There are several things that the WMF could do to improve their act on this, simply going back to people who report bugs would be progress. WereSpielChequers (talk) 19:58, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

Re: Pure fantasy[edit]

Abolition of chapters and abolition of affiliate-selected seats are not pure fantasy. They were in the air for ages, as an integral part of the fear of risk described by Delphine, and they are officially on the table. The most visible proponents of what I call the culture of terror were Sue, Stu and Geoff (with occasional help from Jimmy in the cases where keeping his promises would have mattered); two of them left, but it's not clear who was behind them and the board decisions I linked have not been rescinded yet. Nemo 08:59, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

Hi Nemo, I can't see any sign from the first link you provided that anyone ever considered abolishing chapters. If you read the FAQ it says "Does the WMF support chapters and thematic organizations as a model? Does the WMF think chapters are a good idea? Yes.". It is something I have heard a lot of people worried about the WMF doing it but have never seen anything to indicate the WMF is even vaguely thinking about it. This is really why I wrote that section.
The question of the affiliate selected board seats is probably now more up in the air in 2016 than it ever was when Sue was ED, but, as you have noted, they are still there after the most recent consultation on Board composition and we are now in the process of nominating affiliate-selected members until 2019.
I would agree that under Sue's leadership the WMF approached affiliates in a very cautious way with a great deal of concern about their ability to manage finances and the movement's reputation. Given the history of Wikimedia UK in 2012 I think I probably had more experience of that approach than most people in the movement do. But we are no longer in 2012. Regards, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 09:58, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
That pseudoFAQ item is an excusatio non petita at best. The facts are that the WMF board doesn't want (new) chapters, this decision hasn't changed. By burning the land around existing chapters, they surely help them die. If someone expected the WMF board to make a resolution to terminate all chapter agreements at once, that was certainly "pure fantasy"; but the overall direction not.
Sure, nowadays the WMF has more pressing matters than the phantom menace of the chapters, and under Lila the WMF stopped proclaiming its perfection and proposing itself as a role model, but the underlying issues (explained well by Delphine) have not been touched yet. Nemo 11:00, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

Re: Superprotect[edit]

The power structure of the wikis is important. I wrote User:Nemo bis/User rights process, which can be seen as a way to further your point 7, and I think the WMF board should approve it as soon as possible (certainly before the new ED is selected). Nemo 08:59, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

I love "active listening"[edit]

Thanks for creating this page User:The Land. I'm a huge fan of active listening - this is not just a term people use - its an actual skill with techniques that helps to understand where others are coming from. It has really helped me in multiple situations - in-person AND online. I started a learning pattern on it: --EGalvez (WMF) (talk) 18:40, 29 February 2016 (UTC)


Hi, thanks for the great essay. I want to comment on

  • "please don't get too hung up on the wording people use", and
  • "You are quite a diverse group of people operating across different timezones and many of you are not working in your first language."

These issues deserve an entire essay to themselves! (if there isn't one or more already?). But briefly:

  1. There are plenty of people in all 3 groups, who do a lot of work in their second (or more) language, and this isn't always obvious. We have some serious recurring problems on the mailing lists, and onwiki, where people get leaped upon (or silently misunderstood) for their ambiguous or unclear word choices. A lot of the times, these are cross-cultural (or even just cross-demographic). I'd love to see more gentle re-phrasings, provided by and for anyone who is a bit confused about an unclear sentence or idea. We need to get better at encouraging the good aspects, that are often contained within a complex proposal, rather than purely criticizing the bad or potentially-bad aspects (or word-choices).
  2. Writing/sending something to a single recipient, is vastly different from writing/sending to a large group. And the difference is even stronger for people closer to the top of any management chain, or even in informal positions of influence. When sending to large groups, every phrase has to be checked for potential ambiguity, or ways it could be (mistakenly, or purposefully) interpreted in an unintended way. This is why organizational communications (throughout the world) are so often bland and generic, even the ones that aren't encumbered by (what some might view as) buzzwords! This will never be entirely fixed, but can always be improved and considered.
  3. For writing assistance, the best (concise and easy to follow) guide that I know of, is at Tech/News/Manual#Guidelines - are there more that we have onwiki? I wish I could follow that more instinctively, but instead I have to laboriously re-re-re-write most of the things that I send/save, if I want them to be maximally understandable and minimally misinterpretable. Whilst I wish we all had infinite time and patience, I grok that we don't, and that some people use their limited time/patience on edits to the project contents, rather than on interactions with their collaborators. Personally, I'd rather have 100% of the people giving their bits of imperfect input, than just a fraction giving the best they possibly can - this can lead to more misunderstandings in the short-term, but I think/hope it gets more people involved in the long-term.
  4. For reading, I wish we were all a bit better at "reading between the lines", and always trying to do so with as much AGF as possible (even when there's hostility/sarcasm/etc mixed in with good underlying points). A lot of inference requires "exformation" (I always point people towards this great video explanation) and that can only be gotten by years of experience, and/or helpful patient mentors who explain or link to what they mean. More of us need to do more of that, more regularly.

TL;DR: We must always keep in mind that nobody exactly shares our context, our definitions, our idioms, our sense of humour, our assumptions, or our language. Sometimes that means editing what we write; sometimes that means assuming a positive interpretation for what we read. [And I must save this post, before I spend more time writing/editing it...]. HTH, and thanks again. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 20:15, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

I agree with all of that, and glad you like the essay. :) The best on-wiki resources on writing I know are by User:Tony1, particularly this. Those are aimed at articles rather than emails, but I think the same principles apply. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 21:32, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

Problem state[edit]

What I perceive as fairly constant anti-pattern in the relationship between core infrastructure (WMF in this case) and the community which relies on it/instigated it is: does a problem exist?

That is, in general the status quo exists probably because it works and does the job. Every change to it is because someone believes there is a problem, a use case where it does not work, does not do the job. In many situations this problem is not communicated clearly to the community, or when communicated and understood by the community they do not agree the problem exists or they do not agree with the proposed solution for whatever reasons.

The infrastructure, in the addressed case, has assumed authority for determining when a problem exists and, incidentally, the prioritizing of the problems it chooses to track.

- Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 15:01, 18 March 2016 (UTC)