Wikimedia Café/minutes 2020 02

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15 February 2020 at 8:30 AM PST / 11:30 AM EST / 4:30 PM UTC / 10 PM IST[edit]

consider this one-page summary of the recommendations from WREN's own user:Fuzheado

The Café meetup will happen relatively early this month, partly due to a scheduling conflict on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd.

This will be a longer meetup than usual, and is divided into two major sections. The schedule is as follows:

  • 4:30 PM UTC
  1. Introductions, including usernames and/or realnames, affiliations, interests in attending the meeting, and one thing for which you're grateful
  2. Mention the meeting notes
  3. Discuss approximately the first half of the 2030 strategy recommendations
  • 5:30 PM UTC
  • Break for 15 minutes
  • 5:45 PM UTC
  1. Introductions, including usernames and/or realnames, affiliations, interests in attending the meeting, and one thing for which you're grateful
  2. Mention the meeting notes
  3. Discuss approximately the second half of the 2030 strategy recommendations

Background reading

Short texts:

Longer text:

Full text:

If you plan to attend then please sign here. The organizers can use this list to know who to contact individually if there are significant changes to the plan to the meeting, such as for the schedule.

Notes[edit]

meeting to discuss Wikimedia Strategy 2030

attendees
  1. Vexations https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Vexations - I am not affiliated with anyone or anything other than a couple of Wikimedia projects. I have informal connections to affiliates and user groups. I have chosen not to take official roles in any of those. I got interested in the strategy conversations because so much of the strategy development has been by people outside the Wikimedia community.
  2. Lane / bluerasberry
  3. Mehrdad - I am in Toronto. I am the "information knowledge manager" for the strategic recommendations process.
  4. Pine - I am from Wikimedia Cascadia and a host of this meeting.
  5. Gergo https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tgr - I am from Hungary and am a MediaWiki developer. I am one of the writers of the recommendations.
  6. dele - First time here in the cafe, interested in the strategy discussions. I am African and my interest is in growth toward the global south and I wants a password is to be i to know more about how the African community can be involved in this. I know that there are local issues in Africa, actually everywhere, and I want to know that the strategy planners know of the local issues. Wikipedia to me is still a bit of a Western website and I want to see that if it moves to a global community then I want that done right.
  7. Jeffrey Keefer - I was one of the writers of the strategy and also intimately involved in the LGBT+ user group.
Strategy recommendation discussion

Mehrdad: All the notes which everyone submits in response to the recommendations will go to a final group of writers synthesized as a summary. There will also be input from former working group members as reviewers. A third stream of input will be guidance from the Board of Trustees. So the 3 streams of communities, including affiliates, reviewers and board of trustees will be placed side by side and help a final small group of the writers to refine and finalize the recommendaitons before we transition to implementation.

see the texts at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2018-20/Recommendations

Pine shared the one-page version at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:In_Brief_-_Wikimedia_Strategy_2030_-_One_Pager_-_Januaryedxr,st Louis_2020.pdfcardinals you more f home from please don't know her and

  1. Pine: Mehrdad, do you have feedback on this one-page summary?
    1. Mehrdad: it is a great overview and entry point. Here is an updated version -
    2. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/One-page_overview_of_the_first_version_of_the_Wikimedia_2030_movement_strategy_recommendations.pdf
  2. Does anyone have a wish to talk about any of these first? Otherwise we will go in order.
    1. Dele: Let's start with 2!
  3. first half
    1. Promote Sustainability and Resilience
    2. Create Cultural Change for Inclusive Communities
  4. Dele: There are some countries where there is discrimination against certain people. For example, some countries have restriction against LGBT+ people. What should the Wikimedia Foundation do to support communities experiencing pressure?
    1. Pine:Who has ideas?
    2. Mehrdad: The Wikimedia community is aware of discrimination in various places. For example, in some laws, being LGBT+ is illegal. This means that if Wikimedia projects showcase LGBT+ programs then there could be protests against LGBT+ projects. The Wikimedia Community will not agree to adopt discriminatory practices as a compromise in its outreach in programming. There is also talk of a "Universal Code of Conduct" to guide behavior throughout Wikimedia projects. For example for gender representation the Wikimedia community would like about 50% women, but if we do not get to that, we want as much equity as we can get.
    3. Dele: In Africa people can still promote LGBT issues. The laws are not so strict and there are ways to do implementation. Things could be different elsewhere but in West Africa things are no so strict.
    4. Pine: Bluerasberry, can you repeat what you said previously about safety?
    5. Lane: What did I say?
    6. Pine: You mentioned that LGBT+ people experienced extra harassment
    7. Lane: This community is global and this community talks with each other and experiences extra harassment. If we find a solution for that, it would apply to many other communities which face problems for other reasons. There is an LGBT meeting coming up and we are hoping to address that. People come to wikipedia with all kinds of problems and we need to find a way to address that.
    8. Pine: There are two big labor intensive recommendations in this. One is the movement charter and one is the code of conduct. I think these will be laborious and contentious topics and I am not anxious to start giant RfCs on meta for stuff that I am not sure that we need. I am a little more supportive of a universal code of conduct. On Meta, it routinely happens that someone from some smaller wiki comes to ask for global support outside their language community. The complaints are routinely that two or more admins in the wiki have gone rogue and started to enforce discriminatory practices to achieve some goal in editorial bias, such as taking side in a military or political conflict, or otherwise denying voice to one side of a major social issue. On Meta there are good practices in place for some global issues, like abuse of the privacy rights among checkusers, where it should be possible to quickly review the offense. I can see use of the policies but it seems so complicated, without going into way too much detail. There are conduct policiesthat are different for different Wikis. For the Movement Charter, I can see how the Wikiemdia Foundation would want this to aid them in their projects, but considering how labor intensive this would be and how little use it would be for the Wikimedia community, I am unsure why the Wikimedia community would want this.
    9. Jeffrey: there was a lot of attention around issues of safety, multilayered with online and offline harassment, including stalking relating to editing. We cannot be an inclusive community if we don't make it welcoming and a safe space, but what does it mean with different cultures and legal structures. In parts of the world things are enshrined in law and in others, there either aren't such laws or are outwardly not supportive of such communities. Complexities are what this looks like locally. There is a necessity to protect our various communities. How it will work and how it will be institutued is a little beyond our scope. These will be the real complexities - people should be treated fairly and with respect. What does this mean? How will we formulate inclusive language? What does that look like when it is countered by local laws and restrictions? Beyond stating that we need to dive into them.
    10. Pine: How do we define safety? In the United States if someone threatens physical safety then there are government interventions, but if someone is aggressive in words or behavior, then that hostile person can continue their behavior. In English Wikipedia there is a concept of "out of process" threats, which means that conflicts have to follow the dispute resolution process. The Technical Code of Conduct imagines a work environment for people who operate in spaces under its governance, which is not the usual way to imagine Wikipedia collaboration. There are some obvious problems with the status quo but there are not obvious ways to change things in a way that will not cause other problems.
    11. Jeffrey: there is a difference between the recommendations and their implementation. There are many things we feel passionate about, e.g. inclusivity. But how do we actually make them inclusive.
    12. Gergo from chat: the technical code of conduct talks about "Personal attacks, violence, threats of violence, threats of legal action, or deliberate intimidation." ###https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Code_of_Conduct#Unacceptable_behavior
    13. Vexations: I have been involved in a number of editathons and one of the things that made me sad was that many people came into them with the idea that Wikipedia was super toxic and that whatever was submitted would be deleted. What upset me about this is that Wikipedia's public reputation set the stage for Wikipedia being very adversarial, when in fact, most of the regular Wikipedians are friendly and totally on board with all these goals for diversity. The broad consensus is for broader coverage. When someone comes from an underrepresented community I have only seen them welcome."The kind of change we need is that people feel empowered to speak up against abuse." The idea that Wikipedia needs to change because it is toxic is incorrect and not good advertising. The Wikipedia community wants a pleasant environment and almost everywhere is friendly.
    14. Pine: The projects just won't be successful otherwise. There are exceptions unforutnately, but by and large, people do a remarkably good job. We are not 4chan, our project wouldn't work otherwise.
    15. Lane: There is not need for this kind of criticism when Wikipedia compared to everything else is doing so well.
    16. Gergo: Many of the problems brought up in the recommendations are real problems, e.g. there are no easy ways to inform incidents and the administrator's notice board is not a functional place and these working mechanisms don't work well, including an admin that is abusing power and being aggressive, including preventing participation of certain people. en.WP is largest and one of the more functional Wikipedias and we need to make sure these standards apply to other projects as well, but there are few examples, especially smaller ones where a group of people take over the project and it was the admin's power to enforce their point of view and divert anyone who challenges them. E.g. Croatian Wikipedia discussions on Meta. We don't have global standards to do anything about it other than a global terms of use.
    17. Pine: there could be a global arbcom and these conversations have existed.
    18. Gergo: For the UCoC one of the key insights was that it doesn't have to just have a document, but needs training and enforcement mechanisms, perhaps not a universal Arbitration Committee, but definitely some sort of a functional way and functional decision-making body. At the moment we don't have the guidelines for who should intervene. Re: Movement Charter - currently WMF is relatively well-positioned that enforce all money. E.g. any event organized by WMF funds it comes with friendly space policy. For the online communities also. One of the major changes in the recommendations is to have a more equitable distribution of power and to transition it from an absolutist monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. The movement charter is supposed to be a way to transition power from central control to distributed.
    19. Mehrdad: Many working groups and many local contexts asked for a charter. The idea of this came up repeatedly among various groups who wanted sharing of power and movement inclusion.
  5. Plan Infrastructure Scalability
    1. Pine: "create a fluid infrastructure..." this is from the one pager. Among all the other recommendations, most of them talk about social infrastructure. To me, it seems like all technical infrastructure is reduced to this one recommendation. Wikimedia is a digital platform and depends so much on software. Is it not the case that technology should appear everywhere?
    2. Mehrdad: We in the strategic planning team are getting feedback about how various communities feel that the recommendations are not meeting their needs. There is a proposal for a "Technology Working Group", which would speak to all matters of tech development in the Wikiemdia movement and be accessible for conversation and to answer for anything. Otherwise, all of the other strategic goals are supposed to incorporate tech. Gergo, do you have thoughts about where tech is made prominent?
    3. Gergo: The recommendations are more general and do not say how anyone will achieve those goals. We expected that technology would be part of the implementation. For example, for the safety recommendations, we expected that there would be technological development as part of the solution. Recommendation #13 includes technological development not otherwise imagined in the other recommendations.
    4. Pine: a lot of what I think I'm reading is like "Victoria" style recommendations, with Victoria being a former Chief Technology Officer for the WMF. Some of this is good, but it's calling out for more committees and this is not easy, and once you set up rules, it's costly in terms of time. Cocerned that what is being seen is increased bureacuracy around technical decisions and not convinced if the pay off will be worth it.
  6. Gergo: Moving from "benevolent dictatorship" to democratic development is not easy - at the moment a lot of effort is spent on big debates which don't lead anywhere. Having a governance structure that is accepted by everyone, will help the core volunteers drive that forward and can avoid a lot of not very produtive debate. I hope that is would result in better strategic for what technology should focus on. Clarification - the vocabulary is confusing to a lot of people. The Foundation has both product and technology departments. Product are all the features that people use, e.g. visual editor, mobile skin, etc. Technology is the underlying platform, such as site operations or Media-Wiki. There is a technical committee and Victoria did try to make that more functional as it wasn't working well before and also made it more centralized placing the CTO in charge for technical decision making and NOT product decision-making. This is confusing but that's how it's been historically. THERE IS NO PRODUCT COMMITTEE and there isn't a real clear process for how this is made and who makes them.
    1. Jeffrey: When the comment had been that this seems like it'll be a bit more bureaucratic, I think we need more of this. It's not inclusive enough right now, including end-users. The decision-making is not inclusive whatsoever across the movement, rather highly concentrated in a small group of people that is counter what the strategy wants to capture. In the same way that we think about the strategic goal of being inclsuive, it will require in the ways we develop, test and use technology and right now, those decisions are not involving these communities, and those are the type of things were more committees and involvement in decision-making are needed, including around how resources and projects move forward.
    2. Pine: A good bureaucracy which I admire is English Wikipedia ArbCom. I think that should be a model for other community discussions."Let's do more of the same."
    3. Mehrdad: Thanks Gergo for raising the idea of a technical product committee. Pine, I hear you say that many of these recommendations are about healing grievances and bridging gaps. Alternatively more of them could be about radical changes to process. Gergo, what do you think about the way that Wikimedia Deutchland does it? As I understand, the Wikimedai community produces a technical wishlist, then tech proposes a product, then the community discusses it and selects what goes forward. How practical would this be for everyone?
    4. Gergo: The Wikimedia Foundation has a wishlist also.
    5. Vexation: I have something to say about that. There are "new page patrol" tools for English Wikipedia. The community members who were developing those tools got told by the WMF to participate in the wishlist. Their perspective was that the tools were essential and had huge backing of a lot of community members. The WMF said that they should canvass for tools, and they won. About a month ago, the product manager halted development, and the community responded by saying that there was no working product, any core functionality, or any useful outcome of the development except for the experience of developing it which is not at all what the community wanted. There was no accountability for actually producing the tool or talking through with the Wikimedia community what their intention was. I used ot work for a a very large software developer where I was a technical liaison between customers and developers. I was the "technical lead". We had to create products which people wanted to invest in, so we had a core functionality, and wanted users to invest in development of new features. At a very minimum, we had someone who was accountable for making sure that with the resources and budget we had, then the features would be made and that users would actually want them. In the wishlist there are people who do not know how software works and who ask for features which are nearly impossible to create. That is fine, as people who do not know software make impossible requests, but an expert software liaison should talk this through with them. For the New Page Patrol tools, one of the outcomes was that the tool was only useful in English Wikipedia, when the community expected that the same software could be used to examine pages in multiple languages.
    6. "A layer where technical expertise meets user needs because users are often not good at articulating what they need." You need people who have that technical expertise.
    7. Pine: My understanding is that WMF has technical liaisons and they are good at what they do and there is need for more of them. At the moment product managers are making these decisions, but at the moment it's hard to trace who is making what decision, where and a product committee could be a good place to sort that out. I think quite highly of Toby and I am hoping that this will be an issue that he will engage with.
    8. Jeffrey: And to be fair, we want discussion and inclusivity, and while we do not want that weighed down by bureaucracy, to involve more voices in decision-making processes, we will need structures that do not necessarily exist in this way now.
    9. Gergo: currently the foundation has a corporate kind of planning - ED, CTO and CPO decide what large level goals should be and what teams should exist. Teams are often significantly reorganized every year. Within the team scope and high-level goal, product managers decide what's the best way to get there. You might have a team for editors, such as relating to mobile editing. The details are written by product managers and decisions are made at the very high level taking into account input from various structures, but at hte moment it's very top-down and not very accountable and transparent. E.g. people that do outreach with GLAMs are continuously asking for tools, readers in certain areas don't have good tools, accessibility and mobile editing are not good at the moment and are not easy to solve. Cannot work on everything and have to make decision on what to prioritize. Making this more participatory is a huge challenge, you need to incorporate technical expertise and have to balance different groups, such as readers and experienced editors. Current discussion structures privilegize experienced editors and people who speak English, lots of hard problems to solve there. Writers and before that the Product and Technology didn't really feel to have the knowledge and resources to suggest anything specific there other than high-level guidelines. After the summit, there will be the period of implementation to work these out as these are hard problems, but we need to find a better way to solve them.
    10. Pine: there is a fininte capacity in the community and staff to support multiple processes - not clear if skill, capacity, willingness and time is there to support multiple initiatives. And that may mean that not everything will get done and not all at once. Staging may be a way to approach that. Another issue is charging for API access and thinking about that whole group on revenue streams and not clear about.
    11. Mehrdad: The sequencing or staging (people use different words) of the recommendations should happen after this Wikimedia Summit. The thought is that if there is consensus then affiliates and partners and seek funding and take forward the implementation of various aspects of the strategy over the next ten years. Some of the Wikimedia afiliates have their funding on hold and are expecting to get more Wikimedia Foundation funding after these recommendations are in place, so that they can carry them forward.
    12. Gergo: paid API work is already happening and the recommendaitons are a just reflection of the reality in that regard. Small-time and personal users would stay free. However, large corporate users put a lot of strain on the infrastructure, also they have a business need for more reliable service than they can get now, such as not being affected by a denial of service attack. Sustainaing the recommendations, the current budget is not proportional in terms of what recommendations want, and the paid API suggestion is one of the hopes of reaching the larger budget the strategic direction requires. Also currently the movement is entirely funded with donations and having a single source of funding is fragile, we depend very much on readers seeing the banners, but this is risky b/c that is not where trends are going - there are a few gatekeepers to the Internet, as traffic is shifting to mobile apps that take the content, or smart assistants which can read up a Wikipedia article, but you would not know it's coming from Wikipedia, you also would not see the banner to donate. We need to diversify our revenue sources and the paid API work is one approach.
    13. Pine: time to wrap up! closing comments?
    14. Vexations: No closing comments. The conversation here is a welcome change from the corporate speak of the recommendations.
    15. Dele: (?? audio challenge) A lot of schools and students do not trust Wikipedia, but I did not see recommendations which talk about improving the reputation of Wikipedia. A lot of the recommendations talk about the place of the Wikimedia Foundation but not about Wikipedia itself. In Africa there are a lot of issues about quality and sourcing.
    16. Jeffrey: I think it has been helpful to have an informal and non-charged conversation about these things. I appreciate your pulling this together to bring a human quality to what would otherwise be a collection of more impersonal usernames. I hope all this speaks to interest in serving on implementation groups!!
    17. Mehrdad: It is not easy to make a strategy document out of 89 recommendations and also not easy to balance input from the community. It is also not easy to weigh contributions from various communities so that even underrepresented groups get their wishes in our planning.
  7. Gergo: thanks for organizing the Wikimedia Cafe in general and having strategic conversations. The Wikimedia Movement is currently not having enough conversations like this.
    1. Pine: There will be another Cafe in a month. If anyone wants to add something to the agenda then they may.