Values/2016 discussion/Transcripts/X

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1 == preliminaries ==
2 1: As a nonprofit supported by donors, we need to be transparent to everyone.
3 3: Living in a society that tries to obfuscate. By being transparent we’re setting an example for the society we want to see. This is why we work here. “D’uh.”
4 4: element of transparency coming from the open source movement. And also important in service of neutrality.
5 == your three values ==
6 === 1 ===
7 Organizational sustainability
8 Part of being good stewards to the projects is continuing to exist and continuing to have the resources to sustain universal access
9 1: My favorite thing about this is things about perpetuity. Producing a body of works that’ll never go away.
10 Democracy, collaboration, anti-authoritarianism
11 This strikes me as something that the projects themselves take for granted as a value but has never been made explicit as a value that WMF itself holds (especially as a workplace)
12 1: collaborative, bottom-up on projects; I’d like to see the foundation adopt that as well
13 Safety and privacy of contributors
14 To serve the cause of all knowledge, content can’t be constrained by fear of reprisal, judgement, surveillance
15 1: Can’t stop thinking about this this week (hacks, and newly elected repressive government). People need to be safe before they can participate on projects
16 === 2 ===
17 Connection
18 Connection to self, community, humanity
19 Enables collective action and growth
20 Fosters service,
21 Service
22 I see the Foundations as here not just to serve the Wikimedia community, but to serve the good of humanity
23 I see myself as here for the same as the above, as well as to serve my colleagues.
24 Service is important to me because through service we learn and support one another’s learning, it is how we grow individually and collectively, it is how we build something better than what we had before.
25 Encourages mindfulness
26 Mindfulness
27 I struggled to choose mindfulness vs kindness and chose mindfulness because I think it begets an honest kindness
28 Mindfulness is about awareness; awareness of the self, awareness about the group, awareness about the broader contexts in which we exist.
29 Mindfulness helps us stay out of our own individual existences, enabling learning and service, enabling growth and connection, and honesty - all of which are essential ingredients for trust, community, and effective collective action
30 Leads to learning
31 Learning
32 Learning is how we grow and how we improve. Without learning, there is at best, stagnation, at worst, going blindly in the wrong direction - ineffectiveness and/or destruction
33 Learning is how we individually get closer to self-actualization; learning is how we collectively get closer to group-actualization.
34 Learning requires humility, openness, curiosity
35 Requires development and maintenance of trust
36 Allows us to create and achieve things greater than ourselves
37 Stewardship
38 Leaving the world a better place than we found it
39 Respect
40 Respect for each other
41 Respect for our environment
42 Respect for ourselves
43 Respecting and honoring difference and diversity
44 === 3 ===
45 Knowledge as a human right. Wikipedia represents one of society’s highest ideals: That knowledge and information should be free to everyone, regardless of class and condition.
46 3: Even pop culture; relate to culture in a different way. We’re not about “let’s change the world” 100% of the time, sometimes we want to be entertained, we’re humans.
47 Principled consensus. Every Wikipedia article -- even stubs -- represent a consensus of sorts, where people have decided that this is the information that’s important, that will inform readers. This is how Democracy works: Those who participate get the most say at first, but it’s always open to more active participation, and always welcoming to whomever knocks on the door. We’re like the United Nations -- except that everyone is able to join and have a voice.
48 3: Anyone can contribute; the consensus weeds out things that are extreme, not factually correct. In the end you get a jewel of sorts. Even if there are lots of bad things or unformed, on WP, there is no such thing as perfect state, but we are committed to that perfected state, and that’s what’s really motivating.
49 A lifelong commitment. Everything changes on Wikipedia. An article gets updated with the latest information. New articles appear. Wikipedia isn’t static. The foundation has pledged to keep the projects ongoing in “perpetuity.” That means forever. Few other outlets have taken such a public pledge. That means a lot to me.
50 3: Mirror a lot of what 1 said, albeit in different words. Public pledge to say that this is bigger than all of us. Facts to help people; documents and facts for people to look at and have a discussion about. Wikipedia sparks conversations, generates new ideas that people wouldn’t otherwise have had.
51 === 4 ===
52 Civility: Common human decency + appropriate workplace behavior + informed, engaged, polite actions and communications
53 4: Interesting to me because I’ve never worked anywhere where this would be said aloud. So foundational that it would be implicit. Didn’t need to be discussed because it was such a closely shared value. We’re a different kind of place. This is hugely important for WMF specifically, for nonprofits generally, and for humanity overarchingly. I’m hard press to see how we can come out of that process without this explicitly stated.
54 Accountability: we do what we say we’re going to do. A culture of accountability builds trust and strong mutual reliance inside and outside and org
55 4: And when we don’t, do we explain that, do we put out stick down the ground on those things.
56 Inclusiveness: It’s a big tent. There’s room for everyone, providing we can agree and abide by some basic ground rules for engagement.
57 4: Important for the content, diversity, depth of our projects, but also for human beings that participate in the projects. There’s room for everybody, even the people we profoundly disagree with
58 === 5 ===
59 Curiosity - not imagining that you know everything. Entering a conversation or a problem with an open mind. So many times, I see people entering a conversation with their minds made up, so much so that they seem incapable of listening to other people’s perspectives. I see people disagreeing with a perspective before they have even understood the other’s perspective. I know this because I ask, which part of her perspective did you disagree with? Usually they can’t even clearly represent the perspective just stated in way that actually represents what that person meant. Curiosity also means slowing down, not assuming that you know what the other person is saying. Checking that you understand. Asking clarifying questions. Asking them why they think that. Asking them what they are basing their conclusions on (what if they see information or patterns of perspectives that you don’t have access to). Often I see that we debate forgone and potentially premature conclusions, rather than unpacking sources and assumptions.
60 5: Related to 4’s conception of civility. Often people think they know everything. Arriving at a situation open minded, not moving into the basement of belief and treating it like a bunker. Avoid the bunker mentality when arguing about something. What are you basing this on? What are the data, the assumptions? Don’t argue about the conclusions only.
61 Excellence - to me, excellence is an attitude, a spirit. Are we focused on our most important problems and are we giving the moment and our problems our best? It’s easy to mistake excellence with perfection and obsess and look for perfection rather than substantial progress. This is not what I mean by excellence. Excellence is going the extra mile, seeking to understand a problem, seeking to understand what the relative stakeholder think about the issue and why, seeking outside source material. We need not always be “on” certainly there is time to ebb and flow, but half-assing it falls bar below the nobility of our vision and mission and the promise that we hold for the world. It also means facing our mistakes in an excellent way. Learning from them. Reckoning with them, both privately and publicly. Without excellent accountability for a mistake it is difficult to regain trust.
62 5: A state of mind. Am I pointing my attention towards the most important/significant thing that I can given my purview, my role? Am I thinking about them relative to how much they matter? It’s not about some of the popular meanings around winning and perfectionism. It’s about going the extra mile, realizing when you’re mid stream that you’ve unlocked a new part of the problem, stop and consider this, reconsider the plan. Getting involved in a problem.
63 Inclusion
64 Different points of view, different angles on problems, different angles on solutions, different ways of speaking in conversation… it makes our solutions stronger, more resilient. It reflects the multiplicity of views, languages, users that we either already have or we would like to have. By inclusion, I don’t just mean friendliness, inclusion is about more than tone, it’s about really reckoning with the substance of someone’s perspective.
65 Over the next four years (and let’s hope and fight for just four) this value will grow ever more important.
66 5: Right now in the world it seems less about left and right, and more about open vs close. Dangerous, scary trend. We represent a certain promise to the world and to ourselves about who we could be. It creates being problem solving skills, better solution sets to look at different information streams.
67 5: These are skills I believe are required to solve problems well.
68 === 6 ===
69 Empowerment/service: helping people help themselves (and others) and feel ownership because that is what sharing knowledge is all about at the end of the day. That is what people need knowledge for.
70 6: One of those things that needs to be pervasive in all contexts, in all parts of our movement. We can’t achieve our vision of sharing the sum of all human knowledge alone so we need to empower others to help us and scale it.
71 Curiosity: being interested and open to new things and perspectives is crucial for sharing knowledge. If we only share without being curious we fail by not questioning what we “know” and the status quo. Contributing to our projects and movement is often driven by curiosity about a given topic - not necessarily by just wanting to share knowledge I already have.
72 6: Being really open and willing to find out new things about the world. If we don’t do that, then we fail because if you just share what you already know, you’re not …
73 Transparency/openness: working in the open in order to let everyone see how the sausage is made and take part in making it is crucial because without it we could not get people with so much passion and dedication to do what they do around Wikimedia. They need to feel a sense of ownership (and actually have this ownership!) in order to truly make the projects their own and dedicate so much of their life to it. At the same time without transparency it would be too easy to overtake our projects and movement in favor of a single agenda.
74 6: Has to be pervasive in all parts of our movement. Let people govern themselves. I understand how things go to where they are; If I don’t like them, I can change them this or that way. Having that sense of “I did my part in it”.
75 == why are those good things? do they enable other good things? are they intrinsically good? ==
76 1: (perpetuity) Maybe it’s a thing that everybody wants and nobody knows how to do it. There seemed to be an ambitious plan a few years ago (?). Content syndication serves our mission very well but it threatens our fundraising model. Worry about sustainability.
77 3: Fundraising messages are often about “let’s go through the year”. The idea of perpetuity, of an endowment, tells our readers that we’re much bigger than a year. Don’t think of us like a newspaper that you throw away, but rather like a university that you don’t want to go away. You’re gonna be there for my kids. Bigger connection. It’s why people feel connected to things like religion. Feel part of something bigger. We need to state explicitly that we’re bigger, we’re a big deal. That’s our commitment.
78 5: perpetuity feels so much bigger than sustainability. Echoes of legacy. Established way of life.
79 1: Agree, like it better too.
80 2: Paradox between sharing content but also threat to the organization. Org sustainability is about being good stewards. Obligation around us as an org, be better than people who syndicate our content.
81 6: more than money and funding. It’s about people and governance.
82 1: If we don’t have vandal fighters, it doesn’t matter if we have money.
83 6: backing up our data on the internet archive or similar is also a part of sustainability
84 F: Access to information in perpetuity. How do we go about achieving that? Why does it matter?
85 4: Tension between what the values are and what we say we want things to be. E.g. Is it Wikipedia or the WMF that we want to exist in perpetuity. Does our ideology compromise our values? We have a funding model current, but is our ideology about how we’re doing things right conflicting with our values? Do we need to reenvision how we do things in order to do what we really want to do. Are we getting in our own way and preventing us from doing the things we really want to do?
86 1: Archivist instinct. I want the data that we’ve amassed to continue to be available. Relatively cheap and easy to solve. I want (something like) Wikipedia to still be there 30 years from now. To the extent that I like the vision statement, I think I want the foundation to last forever. But it’s not just about our static content, it’s also about continued participation.
87 F: There are many levels and layers to explore here, and that’s ok.
88 1: org democracy feels a bit too pragmatic, maybe more of a guiding principle.
89 3: Collaboration is a notion that has come up during these discussions. How one goes about working with others. So it’s not too far-fetched.
90 1: quick summary of that value for me: C-level churn a few years ago, it felt like nobody was sitting down with them to explain who we were.
91 5: Yes we were!
92 1: It felt like it was the role of the bottom-ups to educate the managers and higher ups (?). Maybe it needs to be on the masthead, explicit so that people know that it’s how we roll. That’s always been how my team has functioned.
93 4: Interesting. I hear “this is a value and this is how we do things, and now you’re doing it differently”. Example about how sometimes, long time habits need to be reevaluated because they’re not practical any more (like how we use the staff calendar).
94 1: It’s more about “We’re organized this way for a reason”
95 5: I see a problem with asserting a political system on an organization. In a country with free speech, a nation is a large space to have different opinions. But on a smaller scale you can blow apart collective togetherness with toxic speech. So I feel like balancing this with togetherness. How do you define democracy?
96 1: I hesitated about using the word democracy. The thing that I care about is basically higher-ups considering themselves as facilitators instead of autocrats. Not perfect wording, but closer to what I mean.
97 2: (stewardship)
98 F: concept of leaving the world better than we found it. Objectives of stewardship?
99 4: Set of assumptions in a nonprofit. Changing the world for the better. Nonprofit ideals. Very interesting to me that we need to stumble on them, or we’re not sure if we share those assumptions. If those aren’t our ideals,
100 2: It’s hard for me to separate stewardship from the “connection” supervalue. Notion that I want to be able to self-actualize. Reach my potential as a human being, whatever it is. Not something I can do on my own. I need a community, a reciprocal relationship to do this. Self-actualization of the group as well. Inherent need to be better, to do better, bigger than just the individual. This is where stewardship is coming from for me.
101 F: self-actualization in the group requires sharing, personal growth, growth within the project. What would individuals need within themselves in order to achieve this?
102 3: I absolutely share that mindset of wanting to be connected. I’m not convinced that leaders necessarily share it. Very utopian ideals. Like picking up the trash at a campsite: leave it better than you found it. But it’s a very mystical conversation. It needs explaining, it’s not as self evident as I think w’d like it to be.
103 1: When the Operations team was picking where to set up the new datacenter, we ended up with two bids, one almost entirely hydro-powered, and the other mostly coal powered. The coal one was much, much cheaper. It’s the one we chose because we couldn’t find any guidance (from the board, or values, etc.) that we could have used to tip the balance the other way. Environmental sustainability vs. use of donor dollars.
104 4: We have people who have made choices to be here that may have had negative consequences for them. We seem to have difficulty separating our personal values from the org values, which sometimes leads us to wonder “why am I even here”. But there needs to be a separation, and be aware of the Venn diagram of the overlap between the two. Having this explicit is hopeful.
105 5: I really like the word “sharing”. Better than “collaborating” or “listening”.
106 3: Really liked the conversation around democracy, and its flaws. Principled consensus: it’s not a consensus that defaults to “that’s the best we can get”. It does reflect our principles. There is overlap between this idea, and the one of knowledge as a human right. To me, why would anyone disagree with this? We already state this in our vision. In a way, this is just restating for my own purposes what I see in the values that are already out there.
107 F: What about principled consensus for people who work on a team?
108 3: Respect each other’s views; this is how families work (theoretically). Unconditional love that will be there regardless.You can disagree and respect. Respect to disagree is important. There is an integrity there, and transparency. It’s all these values in one circle. Self-aware; I don’t know everything. Extends to curiosity (without it we’re lost). Relates to bunker mentality. Wikipedia is a safe space. The WaPo posted this piece where they said Wikipedia is where consensus happens. People change when they participate to Wikipedia.
109 5: I like the idea of principled consensus. Principles make consensus look less like a mob rule.
110 4: interested in the intersection of curiosity, respect, civility. Wondering about how, especially in divisive times, “Don’t tell me I have to listen to these people” is the end of the conversation. It gets hard, especially in times like this. It’s personally hard, it’s hard in a group. I’m interested in the intersection of those things and how you construct and phrase it in such a way that it’s all but ironclad.
111 F: That’s the challenge. When you hold a perspective, you may think that another perspective is garbage. How do we get to that notion of sharing. When people get ready to take a look at the other side of the conversation (...). Empathy is another word that people have used.
112 6: Isn’t it also the case that not listening got us here in the first place? Maybe it’s less painful to listen now rather than later.
113 5: I do wonder where the mutuality is. I know some difficult discussions go well when I listen, but when comes the time for them to listen, they don’t. When does it become a suicide pact? At what point is there advocacy?
114 2: Perhaps it’s because you’re thinking of listening as a way to get good information, and others don’t think of it that way. We value information (civility, inclusiveness, respect, diversity) ; revolve around the way we can do things better.
115 4: +1. Communication is a skill. Not everyone knows how to do it, and people need to be self aware about their need to learn.
116 5: (excellence)
117 F: Notion about prioritizing. Share more?
118 5: In my personal work, or in the org work: sitting back and thinking about the problems that could get in the way this year, or 10 years from now, and we’d get in trouble if we didn’t solve. Taking the time to establish what I believe to the best of my own particular limited ability, establish the most important things I need to work on. Usually, it’s harder work, it demands more of you (personally, cognitively, emotionally) so it can be easy to just react and respond,  but if I’m not advancing on my own problems, what’s the point? What’s the point of doing excellent work on doing something that’s not what I do best?
119 6: You were talking about how this is not about winning. Where do you draw the line? Just “going the extra mile”? Or just “you care”
120 5: Maybe a better value is “care”. I want people to care. I’ve heard people caring about one another, about the mission, but do they care about the problem and about solving it? I don’t know where the line is.
121 3:  WMF/WP started because it’s messy. That’s what makes it great. The messiness is right there in the articles (grammatical mistakes, deeper issues in articles). All these things are works in progress. This is the best information we have right now, and godspeed; good luck with that. It’s a very limited view of the world, but it’s the best we have.
122 4: Idea of asymptotic mission. It gets harder and harder the more content you have. The mission is a living thing that we’re always working on.
123 3: In other institutions, (...)
124 F: Concept of NPOV.
125 6: (civility) Super important. But the first people always ask is “so now I can’t have honest discussions any more?”. We do want people to have honest discussions while being civil to each other. But people struggle with that.
126 4: I have a teenager, and having to explain things to someone that age is great because you have to speak at a certain level. “Being an adult is great; you can do whatever you want;, but you also have to be prepared for the consequences”. You /can/ say whatever you want, but you may want to phrase it in a way that doesn’t alienate others, because otherwise people might tune you out, or refuse to work with you later, and in that case you suffer the consequences.
127 5: “Be yourself, the universe will give you feedback.” It gets turned on its head: people don’t like the feedback they’re getting when they’re themselves without consideration for things like civility. Some of the things that we see (in discussions with the rest of the community) has been our own doing in the past. So it’s difficult to untangle that from the issue at hand.
128 4: I’m always happy when someone is able to pick out the one relevant question in rants etc. But I also hope that the person is also having a discussion about the tone, the form they chose to communicate. It may be a genuine listening and learning opportunity to ask people
129 1: Goes back to curiosity. The heroes in difficult threads are the ones genuinely asking what the asshole was trying to say.
130 == thoughts on this discussion ==
131 What did you like? What could be better?
132 3: two hours feels like a long time, but at this time I feel like we could go on for days.
133 5: really glad that people outside the WMF could join
134 4: I would have liked a little more context about which values: in my work here at the WMF, or out there in the world? I felt pulled in two directions on that.
135 F: There are various levels. We want those inside the WMF, but we’re also projecting those to the world and the rest of the movement. So it’s big on purpose.
136 4: As somebody who loves context, saying “it’s big on purpose” is useful context.
137 F: We’ll also use the values when looking at whether people are exemplifying the values in their work.