Values/2007 discussion

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Noto Emoji Pie 1f4c4.svg (English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

Values are the driving force in a nonprofit. If you want to know more about values, please read the article Values Based Organizational Development[1], for example. Or type values non profit in Google, or read Anthere's post in January 2008 and its 2016 update.

Current proposition[edit]

An essential part of the Wikimedia Foundation's mission is encouraging the development of free-content educational resources that may be created, used, and reused by the entire human community. We believe that this mission requires thriving open formats and open standards on the web to allow the creation of content not subject to restrictions on creation, use, and reuse.
At the creation level, we want to provide the editing community with freely-licensed tools for participation and collaboration.
The community will in turn create a body of knowledge which can be distributed freely throughout the world, viewable or playable by free software tools.

Accessibility and quality
All the legal freedom to modify or distribute educational content is useless if users cannot get access to it.
We try our best to give online access to high quality Wikimedia project content 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, as well as provide access to regularly updated, user-friendly, and free dumps of Wikimedia project content.
We try, through partnerships if necessary, to ensure the widest distribution, through DVD's, books, PDF's, or other non-internet based means.
To insure worldwide, unrestricted, dissemination of knowledge, we do not enter into exclusive partnerships, with regards to access to our content or use of our trademarks.

As a non-profit, we mostly depend on gifts to operate (donations, grants, sponsorship etc...). It is very important to us to ensure our organization stays free of influence in the way it operates. For this reason, we strictly follow a donation policy, reserve the right to refuse donations which could generate constraints, and try to multiply the diversity of revenue sources.

Commitment to openness and diversity
Though US-based, the organization is international in its nature. Our board of trustees, staff members, and volunteers are involved without discrimination based on their religion, political beliefs, sexual preferences, nationalities, etc... Not only do we accept diversity, but we actually look forward to it.

We must communicate Wikimedia Foundation information in a transparent, thorough and timely manner, to our communities and more generally, to the public.

Our community is our biggest asset
We are a community-based organization. We must operate with a mix of staff members, and of volunteers, working together to achieve our mission.
We support community-led collaborative projects, and 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.



  1. Freedom
  2. Transparency
  3. Independence
  4. Quality of service
  5. Diversity
  6. Community

Personally, I want the WMF to maintain a community free from undue constraints that will in turn create a body of knowledge which can be distributed freely throughout the world. In my opinion, that is the kind of intellectual freedom at the heart of what WMF ought to be setting out to accomplish, and which should be at the core of what we value. I realize this overlaps with the Mission Statement, etc., but frankly it is so basic to what we do, that I think it ought to overlap. Free content, Free tools for collaboration, Freedom to fork, Freedom from undue influences, etc.
I agree with Tom and Rob. "Freedom" really needs to be moved to the top of the list, our definition of it needs to be expanded, and we need to really frame it as being the most important of these values. We need to think on grand terms here. It's the mass-liberation of all human knowledge that should really be our most powerful value.

The term 'sexual preferences' is no longer socially acceptable. Please modify to 'sexual orientation' an include 'gender identity' to the list.

I think Florence's idea of 'community' as a collaborative, cooperative, mix of supporters is a highly significant value. In that case communications has a lot to do with listening and sharing from all parties. And 'community' is central to what makes us successful, it's where so much of our strength, capacity, and energy flourishes.

But this also brings up to me that Quality of Service is not really a fitting description. I find it very important that the content is available. However, not per se only through our website service, but maybe in the future also through DVD's, OLPC's, books and PDF's. And who knows what else. I'd suggest to change that to Availability of content or something similar, maybe someone else has a better description.
In dealing with free content for en.WS I always think of the two main concerns as "Freedom" and "Accessibility". There are many PD works which are free from copyright but will never be scanned and put online because they only exist in a collection with retricted *access*. I think this is the issue Florence really means to address here, all the legal freedom to distribute modify something is useless if you cannot get access to it.


In 2007, an exercise made with the advisory board raised keywords which attempt to define our core values. I'd like that over time, we define a set of core values, which will be shared generally by the communities, the board of WMF, the staff of WMF, and the chapters. Core values may be expressed by keywords, or by full sentences, or anything in between. The goal is simply to express what is important to us, what we support, what we value.

Group 1[edit]

  • right to knowledge (knowledge without borders)
  • participating
  • community
  • openness
  • diversity
  • friendliness
  • trust

Group 2[edit]

  • Inclusiveness
  • Freedom
  • Openness / Transparency
  • Pioneering

Group 3[edit]

  • Openness
  • Objectivity (strive to)
  • Quality (factual, relevant, valuable)
  • Access to production / collaboration
  • Respect for the editing community
  • Commitment to diversity

Other propositions ? Sentences ?[edit]

  • quality of process generates quality of result maybe more a strategy than a value?
  • awareness of position (actual and desired, and of all wikimedia projects) in a broad context
  • knowledge as an ongoing process
  • "We can only create a complete a diverse knowledge base when we have a complete and diverse set of volunteers."

Knowledge without boundaries
We believe in the value of knowledge and believe everyone should have access to it.

We are trying to empower the greatest number of people possible to make a positive contribution to free knowledge & free culture. We're not trying to empower idiots and trolls.

We're not always the first to come up with a great feature, but we sure as hell are quick to integrate it if it's libre & useful.

Consideration for others
Although friendliness is nice to new editors, there is also a certain type of friendliness to the readers. That is usability in the broadest sense of the word. The content should be in such a shape that it is easy to use. Websites should be in such a layout and accessibility that the information is easy to find, etc. And there is also friendliness towards re-users of the content. That could include the making available in a nice and friendly way of database dumps etc. Maybe friendluness is not the best word, but I certainly agree that it is important, not only towards (new) editors, but also towards readers and re-users. Perhaps the implicit value here is that Wikipedians are as important as Wikipedia, and that the process of contributing is as important as he contribution itself.
The value is that anybody can edit. Some restrictions remain necessary to deal with the worst offenders, but they must remain minimal. Some forms of bad behaviour occur only rarely. For much of these it may be simpler to just clean up the damage and go on with life instead of implementing sophisticated prevention measures that make everybody's life miserable.
We can envision a collaborative environment where empathy and mutual respect have clear constructive benefits


Wikipedia five pillars

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  1. Vogelsang, John D. (2008). "Values Based Organizational Development". Journal for Nonprofit Management 2. Archived from the original on 2008-03-26.