Values/2016 discussion/Transcripts/S

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1 == preliminaries ==
2 5 : it’s the only way to ensure that we keep collaborative nature. The WMf is just here to enable the community to do things, and without transparency we can’t reach that goal. Enabling collaboration between the WMF and the community
3 4: I see the values more as a how, rather than a why. Things like transparency are a means to an end, it’s  not what we want to achieve.
4 1: When we approved the guiding principles, I was uneased because I didn’t understand where the separation was between them and the values. If this is the narrative we agree on and use in the future, I’m fine with that. We need some clarification between those things if we want to keep them in the future.
5 3: Are we talking about values of the foundation or of the movement?
6 F: For the WMF
7 4: In the Guiding principles document, it says it may come to replace the values, so this wasn’t as clear then.
8 N: transparency: equality, shared power as underlying values underneath transparency
9 4: Being transparent is giving people a way to trust you.
10 == your three values ==
11 === 1 ===
12 Openness
13 Openness here is meant in a broader way, it’s like open up your mind, open up your abilities and open Knowledge and information for everyone everywhere. Openness also is meant in two directions, being open to others and being open to adopt changes by ourselves.
14 If we are not open, we create closed shops. In our head as in our projects.
15 1: Being open to influences, to changes, have an open mind. Not only invite people to contribute to our projects and platforms, but also being open to any new ideas, to things we haven’t thought about before. Two-direction openness. What you believe in has effects on what you create. And what we want to create is something that’s very open to every human being, so openness must be the starting point of that. Maybe difficult to separate from 5’s concept of freedom. Freedom may be one step higher.
16 Respect
17 Respect anyone as you want to be respected. Respect is the key for mutual understanding and for the ability to learn from each other. For the WMF this is important because we are still on our path to identify. (Many had identified with the mission, but do we identify with the organization?)
18 1: We live from collaboration. We only exist because people work together, fight, discuss, make consensus, and this can only happen if we respect each other. Not just for the community, but also for the WMF. Because of all the different perspectives people take on toward us. We need to educate a special kind of respect, that enables people to identify not just with the mission, but also with the organization. I’m very proud to be part of an organization where the vision and mission are motivating people, but I also believe that the organization itself should be drawing people in.
19 Tolerance
20 Tolerance means that we accept opposite opinions, standpoints and perspectives. We may not like them but they are part of the world. If we want to be relevant for any human being, we have to be tolerant to their difference
21 1: Maybe not the right word, but it’s not the same as respect. Although we don’t like one another’s opinion, we need to tolerate it. We’re an international organization. There are so many people. We need tolerance to accept and discuss with people, even those who don’t understand what we do. And this is something we need to be prepared for, we need tools for that. Tolerance will help us understand how others are thinking.
22 2: Could also be called nonviolence in a Gandhian sense. We don’t mention it in Wikimedia. There are ways to disagree and reach consensus while being nonviolent. You can stand up with your opinion without turning to ad hominem attacks, aggressive language. This is a value that we should bring up in the movement and the foundation.
23 1: This is part of it indeed. Tolerance for me also means that we can’t always get to consensus. Sometimes staff, or the Board, or volunteers were looking for consensus and they lost their focus. They spent more time trying to create consensus rather than accepting that we have different opinions. Sometimes it’s ok if my peers, or the organization, or my boss, decides and we follow them because it may be a very wise decision that I just don’t yet understand. Of course, this is a tricky thing, that in general we’re looking for consensus. But it’s a very costly thing. We’ve all been in situations where it’s just not doable, and we should be wise enough to find for a pragmatic way to move on.
24 4: Reminds me a little of the contrast with focus. On the one hand we want to be open and inclusive, and on the other hand we need to be focused and have priorities.
25 F: From my perspective, it’s really important that the values that we espouse have some tension between them, to provide some balance. Values may have a shadow side, or dark side, so balancing them is a healthy way to approach how we look at values.
26 4: Are we trying to document that conflict, or to provide guidance on priorities?
27 5: I’d find it important and to have an ordering of the values. And also to understand that the ordering is not binary. It doesn’t mean that we’ll sacrifice e.g. all our freedom to achieve openness, but some guidance on the order that matters would be great.
28 (Excellence) cut off after having understood the “why”-approach
29 I do think that the WMF should strive to more excellence and that this should be a catalyst for all of us. I understand now that this is more a how than an why.
30 1: Don’t mean not making mistakes, but we should strive to be experts in what we do, and therefore we must understand what we’re doing, and maybe this Values discussion will help with that.
31 3: When I was listening to your values, I was wondering: potential friction between humanity concept of 5, and the tolerance. Tolerance of people who may not agree with that humanity, or our understanding of it.
32 1: There is friction. For me this is very usual. I can take very different perspectives, and sometimes that friction happens in my own head. In the end it matters how you define tolerance. If you go the way 2 proposed: we might not accept someone’s opinion but you shouldn’t shout it out; try to understand where it comes from, where to hit them with their own weapon, which includes understand their thinking. It’s tricky.
33 3: One form of tolerance that I can imagine is nonpartisanship, not making a political stand. So if the WMF takes a political stand, we’re almost automatically excluding people in our movement. Would that fall under that value, or is it something different.
34 1: I think I’ve thought about that value in a broader perspective. So it may be worth digging into that detail but for me right now it’s too detailed. It’s not the depth I had been thinking of it so far.
35 5: If it becomes a political issue to treat people people from different religions, sexual orientation, etc. then we should absolutely take that political stand.
36 F: Tolerance may be on top of some other value (pragmatism, international composition, inclusiveness)
37 1: I agree, if something like that happens, we’ll make a stand. I’ll stand and fight with you.
38 === 2 ===
39 Impact.
40 Openness.
41 Collaboration.
42 (not ordered.
43 There is, to me, only one goal, goal 0: minimizing suffering, maximising happiness. Values, in this sense, are means to that end. But for the sake of conversation here, they can by ends in themselves.
44 If you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance - Derek Bok
45 Information is power → giving information is giving power. Distributing, decentralizing information is decentralizing power, one of the way to goal 0.
46 There are 2 ways to do things: competing or collaborating. Collaboration leaves less bodies on the ground.
47 2: We want as a movement (and as an orgà to make a better place. See goal 0. We as a movement have chosen access to knowledge as a path to do that. There are many others. We try to empower people, giving them access to knowledge, to decentralize power. This is the theory.
48 2: openness and collaboration and the two values that are probably the most common values in our community. Openness is related to freedom. Another aspect is being vulnerable. Being open to faults, being open to bleed. Wiki is like this. There are disadvantages to this, but also a lot of advantages. We’re contributing to the projects, but it’s also true in the movement and the organization. Between competing a,d collaborating (two ways of nature to do thingsà, collaboration is less violent.
49 2: We need to think a lot about our impact and the effectiveness of what we’re doing. And sometimes we can change. E.g. maybe in 10 years we’ll also build schools, and not just host encyclopedias online, because maybe giving access online is not enough. Access to knowledge is important for people who really want that knowledge. If someone doesn’t want to learn or understand, we’re useless. Maybe we’ll step in the education industry later on. But that’s ok because that’s impact. Knowledge is what we do. Maybe it’ll be a next step; trying to reach the goal through a means.
50 5: Do you think that impact is a value per se?
51 2: All these things are means to an end, and the end is minimizing suffering, maximising happiness. Impact towards the goal is a value. Sometimes in the movement, volunteers do things because they want to do it, because it’s fun. That’s fine. But I do try to use impact as a value when prioritizing work. I’m doing this, I’m in this community because I want to do stuff, not because I like or dislike the people in it, my primary goal is not to make online friends.
52 === 3 ===
53 3: Maybe those can apply to any organization. Reflecting a bit on this. For us, I think “keeping it fun” is extremely important to our movement because of how our movement work. The other side concept is safety.
54 3: What follows: what I want the Foundation to be when I walk into the building, etC.
55 Honesty
56 It's the core fundament for a group to work together. Honesty takes many shapes, including but not limited to speaking up to your friend and not distorting facts. Without honesty, there's no trust, no efficiency, no effective collaboration.
57 3: Not about avoiding lies, but broader concept. You don’t avoid issues just because you can’t handle the discussion. If you want to function effectively in an international environment like ours with so many cultures, it’s dangerous not to be honest with each other.
58 facilitating, collaborative
59 Not sure of the perfect word here, but when I think about the ideal WMF, I see a 'serving' organization towards the movement with affiliates and volunteers we have. At the same time, the WMF makes use of those volunteers to execute the mission/vision. I would hope to see a similar value with the other members of this movement. We're not here for ourselves, but rather to 'serve the movement' - we have a role to fulfill. Sometimes this means doing chores that don't give you a lot of credits, but help others ahead.
60 3: Knowing your place in the movement. Can’t find a perfect word. Looking back from where the foundation has come from, it has been in a serving role. Making sure that it provides the infrastructure, etc. But maybe doesn’t do justice to what the foundation does today. Knowing your place and what you’re responsible for, but also doing your chores and making sure others can do their part (affiliates, volunteers, etc.)
61 4: Do you see the WMF as being in a serving role, or more towards leadership?
62 3: The best leader is also serving. There are different roles you can take in a movement. IT would be good if everyone in a movement thought about serving in some capacity. If you are focused on how you can help other parts of the movement to fulfill their role best, it’s a great driving force for collaboration, friendly interaction. If you take it as a value, a serving attitude is not necessarily what you do in the end. You may end up leading, but you do it from a perspective of service. Service is an attitude that you can take with every action. Always good to keep in the back of your head. And this should happen in all parts of the movement.
63 Effectiveness
64 In the end, we have to work towards out goals. Accomplish them. There's not really a 'why' to this.
65 3: We’ve talked about this already; quite obvious.
66 2: I really like the honesty one. Something I didn’t think about before. Really useful for the collaborating, being open. Maybe it could be inserted in the open value. Being honest is really important for the WMF. And it’s also important to be effective.
67 5: I have a bit of trouble with honesty as a value. Crucial and important principle for our day to day actions, but maybe not as value of the foundation. Honesty is not something that leads us to a goal where our vision is realized. It’s more about how we work together. More a how and not a why.
68 3: You could see it both as a how and as a why. It’s also a big why for me. I do certain things because I want to be honest with people. It’s also a driving factor about how I make choices in my life, not just a tool to work better with people. You could use it as a tool, but for me it’s also a why. And I’d like to see a WMF where you don’t need a “why” to be honest.
69 === 4 ===
70 4: Selected things that I felt were not represented in our goals. Some values are already represented in staff. Selected values to modulate, complement that rather than reinforce them.
71 Effectiveness
72 Make good use of our resources, be focused, deliver quality results.
73 4: About focus
74 Independence
75 One of the biggest assets our projects have is trust from readers, which depends on the perception of being independent.
76 4: The reason (or one of) Wikipedia is so popular is because people trust it. If the foundation were perceived as not being independent, that trust would be lost.
77 1: Such a huge term, could you clarify a bit?
78 4: Like our funding model (many small donors) encourages independence. And also avoiding partisanship, being apolitical. Anything that would be perceived as us being a tool being controlled by an organization. Would undermine the trust.
79 3: Would “neutrality” be better? Independence could also be perceived as independence from our volunteers, from partners.
80 4: Neutrality covers the content aspect better; it could indirectly capture the funding and influence part.
81 F: Hearing from 3: concern about isolationism.
82 3: If you were saying the movement should be independent, that would make sense, but just wanted to clarify that there would be downsides to the Foundation itself having “independence” as a value.
83 Innovation
84 WMF has a leadership role in developing the projects and communities, and needs to innovate to do so.
85 4: At this point, the WMF has enough resources to innovate. We should have a leadership role to make sure projects move forward.
86 === 5 ===
87 5: There were a lot of good things to select from.
88 Freedom. And not just in the passive sense, but also in the sense of empowering. Knowledge is power. We believe that knowledge empowers, and empowerment means freedom if it is widely shared. That is why we believe that every one should have the freedom and the capability to access knowledge. Should have the freedom and capability to join is in creating the knowledge. This is a value I feel is and should be shared with the Movement.
89 5: Value of the movement but also of the foundation. Open up the potential of every human. Empowerment is the active side of freedom, it means people can indeed go ahead and do it. We don’t want them to just read, but also contribute content. Join the global conversation about how we as humans understand the world. And also freedom in the sense of license; freedom to fork. All stemming from freedom being one of our values. Even diversity is a secondary goal coming from the fact that you want to empower everyone. Same for multilinguality, accessibility: knowledge should be accessible to everyone. The main and lead value.
90 Focus. There is so much to do in order to save the world. We cannot do everything. The Foundation has to focus on the things only the Foundation can do. We have to have to say no. We have to be able to prioritize. Our priorities should always be aligned with the mission. There are many other worthwhile goals and values - language diversity, privacy, reducing global warming, fighting for democracy, freedom of speech - but the Foundation must and should focus and prioritize on its own specific goals. This does not have to be to the detriment of these other goals, and often they can be aligned, but in the case of a conflict our priorities should be clear. This should be more a value of the Foundation than of the Communities.
91 5: Almost contradictory with freedom. A lot of people drawn to the foundation and the movement are do-gooders, they want to be superheroes and do everything. But we can’t, we have to focus on our main goals. Fighting for global warming, diversity, saving endangered languages etc. are deeply important but they’re not what we should focus on. We should be clear about what our priorities are. This is slightly controversial because things like privacy, diversity are important but they still come second to our main goal. We have 100,000s of volunteers but we’re still a small movement so we have to set clear boundaries
92 5: The foundation should focus on the parts that only the foundation can do. We should have the courage and explicit goal to not make everything perfect, because small imperfections in UI, workflow are things that can be done by volunteers, by volunteers who didn’t yet contribute. Not creating problems on purpose, but maybe not polish everything too much, to empower more people, giving them something to work on. Otherwise we lose the invitation for others to come in and contribute. Not just for the content (which is in the purview of the community) but also on the technical side, which is led by the WMF.
93 4: Reminds me of focusing on the platform aspect, providing something that others can build on and extend. Benefits both the WMF internally, and external developers as well.
94 3: example: the UI of Wikidata is terrible for readers. It’s partly intentional, because it’s something that can be done easily if the underlying platform is done well. It was more important to focus on the APIs etc. More important to focus on a very functional platform, on deeper parts of the infrastructure. We pay the employees to do the boring grunt work, so that volunteers can work on the more fun parts.
95 Humanity. I don’t know how to formulate this one. We have to acknowledge that neither the Foundation nor the Communities not the Movement as a whole are just abstract entities but composed of single, individual, three dimensional humans, with their faults and with their beautiful perfections. We have to act accordingly. We have to be accepting of our humanities and do the right thing to treat each other as humans, even if we have to break other rules for that. No one of us is in for the money. We are there because we believe that the Movement’s mission is important. We should be treated and we should treat each other with the dignity we deserve. This is also and in particular true for the Foundation and its relation to its employees, but also for the employees and the Community.
96 5: Caring about people, being a Mensch. We’re often thinking about the movement, about Wikipedia editors as a big abstract thing, and we forget that we’re 100,000s of individuals with their personalities, their flaws. Mostly crazy people who think we can make a big splash in the world, and we sometimes forget to treat each other with the humanity we deserve. Notably with foundation and chapters who have staff, employees paid for by the movement. I want them to fight for every single right of their employees, for their benefits, etc. because we care about the humanity of individuals.
97 If for example a government removes tax or health care benefits for same sex couples or for immigrants from specific countries or having a specific religion, I certainly want the Foundation to provide these benefits nevertheless within the Foundation if possible, or fight with claws and teeth for their employees.
98 1: This really touches me. Especially the focus and humanity, we need to tackle somehow in the broader discussion and the future steps we’re taking. We have a responsibility towards the people working for the organizations.
99 == why are those good things? do they enable other good things? are they intrinsically good? ==
100 [out of time]
101 == feedback on the session ==
102 What worked? What didn’t?
103 1: Level of overlap in general even if we don’t agree on the specifics. This may be core, this may be worth thinking about as we conclude these discussion. We have this huge vision
104 F: Yes it’s been really fascinating; spectrum of experiences.
105 4: Conversation captured pretty well the conflict of the identity of this organization. Be efficient about achieving technical goals, provide infrastructure, or are we primarily do-gooders who care more about how we do things. That question will need to be settled at some point. Big question that a lot of people have, that will inform strategy, and what the WMF is.
106 2: Personally think that the diversity and openness that are in the movement is difficult to integrate in the WMF. The movement can accept to lose millions of human hours in discussing and doing stuff, but in an organization being so open to everyone’s point of view is a daunting task. Difficult to deal with such a shapeless, unstructured thing like the Wikimedia movement. Agree that we’ll have to decide at some point.
107 2: Really liked this conversation, and values I didn’t think of (tolerance, focus, honesty). It’ll be important to see how this is discussed with the movement and the chapters. Everything went well from an organization point of view.
108 F: Your observation about this big existential question about the organization. The values may not answer that question themselves, but they should be part of the answer.
109 1: What 4 mentioned has led us to a lot of distraction in the past. This conflict of tech-vs.-education seems unfair to the organization we are. More than half of our staff work in product/engineering. And this seems like a way to say “you’re not part of what we do”. At some time we’ll come to that point; the values alone probably won’t answer that directly, we’ll need a broader discussion.