Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/Archives/2013

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Personal and Moral Rights?

In a discussion with Jimmy Wales on the moral rights of the photographers and the personal rights of the subjects, he said "I think that the commons community has gone down a very sad and disappointing path with respect to ethical matters. My views on this are not new, and are well known. Our project is a grand humanitarian effort. That it has been hijacked by people who do not share our values is something that needs to be fixed."

We further requested him to bring this matter to the attention of WMF and make a resolution or something to force Commons make enough policies to protect our rights as a photographer and our commitments to our subjects. He replied: "I am just one board member on this issue. I will continue to call this to the attention of the board and staff, but I need help from the community to illustrate that this is a problem that concerns many of us."

So we would like to bring that discussion to the attention of every member on board.

Further, please note somewhat related discussions at Commons too: Concern about the bureaucrat role of Russavia and Commons:Bureaucrats/Requests/Russavia_(de-Bureaucrat).

One admin even exclaimed in that discussion: "I find this rather an interesting discussion but what I find really intriguing is for all the "official" concerns being raised about Russavia's competence as a representative with authority within Commons this isnt being backup by the action of WMF. The reason being is that if there is such official concern over Russavia actions and representations of the community does he continue in a position of trust with OTRS having access to personal information and answer emails sent to the Foundation."

I would like to let you know that some of your strong opinions in your individual talk pages ([1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]) influenced the Commons community to initiate a discussion to develop a policy for courtesy deletions.

We expect resolutions, guidance, opinions, and participation in the development of similar policies and guidelines in future too. Thanks. JKadavoor Jee 16:08, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree that the WMF should be more vocal and possibly specific with the community at commons as well as other projects. They normally have a 'hands off' approach but if they could be more vocal and specific then that may save us time in discussions crafting the wording of any new policies and guidelines.--Canoe1967 (talk) 15:29, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Hey Jkadavoor, just wanted to post that I did see this question (and the same question that you posted on our individual talk pages). Probably better to answer here. I'm sympathetic to the request for guidance, but struggling a little in what form that guidance would take beyond (e.g.) the resolutions that we passed a couple years ago on this subject. I'm also not 100% sure what precisely you're asking for here as there seem to be a few issues mixed up: courtesy deletions, how we treat privacy and moral rights of subjects, and working through editor disputes and bad behavior. Maybe other members involved with these conversations can help clarify. I will say that on the face of it, without having reviewed the policy and implications closely, a courtesy deletion policy seems like a good, common-sense thing to implement. -- phoebe | talk 15:55, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Phoebe for the reply. The only intention behind giving links to an example is to give you an idea about the problems we are currently facing. We already have the resolutions Images of identifiable people and Resolution:Biographies of living people; but many people in Commons think that the BLP resolution is only intended for Wikipedia and the IIP resolution covers only photos of people taken in private places. So I think we need a proper resolution that covers all the concerns regarding the dignity requirements of photographs of an identifiable living person that can be hosed in Commons. Then we can develop a Courtesy deletions policy to delete files that not satisfying the requirements. Otherwise some people argue to keep everything as now (if they are legally eligible without considering any ethical considerations); so no chance for a clear consensus in this matter. JKadavoor Jee 07:55, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Hi Jkadavoorle, thanks for pointing me to this discussion. I've been giving it a lot of thought these last days. So, in your informed opinion as a Commons user, you really think that a BLP amendment by the Board to explicitely include Commons is going to prevent and resolve the problems Commons is, in your own words, currently facing? Raystorm (talk) 15:48, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I think so after reading several comments/arguments form some people in Commons (Commons_talk:Courtesy_deletions, Commons:Deletion_requests/File:JRKRUK_20130829_ALFRED_MIODOWICZ_BUSKO_IMG_3314.jpg, Commons:Deletion_requests/File:Jimmy_Wales_by_Pricasso_(the_making_of).ogv, etc.).
At Commons:Deletion_requests/File:Jimmy_Wales_by_Pricasso_(the_making_of).ogv, Tsui stated "It's a form of harassment. The sole purpose of the painting and the "making of" ist to harass J. Wales. Loading up quite a lot of photos of identifyable people myself, I would never even think about purposely publishing content to embarrass and annoy the one depicted." and Canoe1967 replied "We don't have a policy nor guideline to delete on these grounds yet. If the subject doesn't like the video then he can request removal through OTRS. This is the same as a DCMA takedown where the rights holder or legal rep have to formally make the request to WMF." Further he/she said "The ethical issues may come into play later once we have a courtesy deletion guideline in place. As it stands now we can keep any image that is legal in FLA. The WMF requested ethical guidelines from all projects but we have yet to create one here." But White Cat opposed that argument "Please do not pretend as if it is certain that the proposal will pass. There are some of us that outright oppose the idea."
At Commons:Deletion_requests/File:JRKRUK_20130829_ALFRED_MIODOWICZ_BUSKO_IMG_3314.jpg also we can see entirely contradicting arguments. There some people argued there is nothing wrong in using the picture of a weeping father (identifiable living person) as an example of Grief whereas many including the closing admin took the stand "it is better to respect the privacy of a mourning father." (thanks, the wise admin.)
At Commons_talk:Courtesy_deletions, we can see many supporting an opposing arguments. The argument of Tom Morris seems interesting to me. He said "I think that reasonable people should be empowered to deal with these kinds of cases quietly and without incident. One problem is dealing with them in a way that won't cause Streisand effect style problems for subjects." which was supported by Canoe1967 too ("A good method may be to empower WMF or OTRS to quietly have these images deleted by an admin.").
But currently Legal_and_Community_Advocacy/Legal_Policies#Office_Actions #7 says "As a general matter, disputes regarding biographies of living persons or defamation should be resolved by the Community, including the Email Response Team (OTRS). See (or equivalent policies in other Projects). An office action by the Wikimedia Foundation – which should be approved by the Office of the General Counsel -- may be appropriate if community actions have not been effective and legal considerations require such action." This advice also has a tone that it is only meant for Wikipedia; not for other projects.
So I humbly request the Board to make a BLP amendment to explicitly include Commons to prevent and resolve the problems Commons is currently facing. Thanks, JKadavoor Jee 07:51, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

A somewhat related discussion is started at commons:Commons:Bureaucrats'_noticeboard#Biographies_of_Living_Persons_and_Defamation too. JKadavoor Jee 06:44, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Thanks all for this amended resolution. JKadavoor Jee 06:11, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Comment: this amendment was drafted in October and approved at the November Board meeting. SJ talk  04:38, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Letter of institutional commitment


I am preparing a grant application to the United States National Endowment for the Humanities. Their funding program is called the "Enduring Questions" program which has a September 12, 2013, deadline. The grant is to prepare and teach an enduring questions course at Wikiversity. The question chosen is "What are "dominant group" and the concepts behind it?"

The application guidelines states, "A letter (from the president, provost, dean, program chair, or department chair at the institution at which the course will be taught) MUST certify 1) that the institution supports the proposed course; 2) that the course is new; and 3) that during the grant period it will be offered at least twice by each faculty member involved in developing it. Ideally, this letter would also explain the importance of the course within the institution’s overall curriculum."

Subject to the Board's answer to this guidelines request, I will include their quote with the application.

Presently, I am planning to include "Wikiversity is a Wikimedia Foundation project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning. We invite teachers, students, and researchers to join us in creating open educational resources and collaborative learning communities. To learn more about Wikiversity, try a guided tour or start editing now." from the Wikiversity Main Page. This may be sufficient or not. Comments, criticism, yeas or nays, welcome.--Marshallsumter (talk) 00:15, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Hello Marshall, this sounds like an interesting project and I hope it succeeds. The institution here seems to be Wikiversity, and the closest equivalent to a program chair might be a custodian. You need confirmation that the Wikiversity community supports the proposed course, and an explanation of the importance of a course on dominant groups within the overall frame of Wikiversity -- both are statements that active Wikiversity curators can make more accurately than the WMF. I suggest that you request a letter there.
Have you discussed your grant proposal on Wikiversity? Do you have fellow editors there who can support your proposal in this way? You might start with a colloquium post that lays out your plan, and asserts the things you want the letter to say: that this is unlike other courses on WV, that you will offer it twice, and that you have support from others. SJ talk  17:29, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
I posted on the Wikiversity:Colloquium as NEH Proposal on September 9, 2013. I also shortened the question to "What is a dominant group and the forces behind it?" when the proposal was submitted on September 12, 2013. The proposal was successfully received and assigned an agency tracking number. So far, so good. --Marshallsumter (talk) 19:53, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
Included in the Wikiversity Colloquium post are links to the proposal sections and NEH requirements. Courses have been hosted before at Wikiversity for specific periods such as semesters or quarters. If you look specifically at the letter of institutional commitment, I let NEH know that I would present the course in the manner they wanted as well as in the dynamic mode that principles of radiation astronomy is being prepared and presented. I also sent emails to the WMF Board and the board's Wikimedia outlet. The latter responded positively and suggested the email to the board, the former did not respond at all, probably leaving it up to the local (Wikiversity) community. I hope my efforts have not created any problems for WMF or Wikiversity. --Marshallsumter (talk) 19:53, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
Here's a partial content from Wikimedia Answers per Maggie Dennis, "If you are just seeking comment from us on the statement you plan to include, I think the description of Wikiversity is concise and accurate to the Wikimedia Foundation's intentions. If you are also intending by your email to ask for a letter from the Board to fulfill that point from the guideline, you may want to contact the Board itself. They can be reached at I would recommend putting something in your subject line indicating that this has a close deadline just to ensure that it receives a timely response."--Marshallsumter (talk) 20:35, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

Community health review?

I am concerned that we get indication that several smaller communities and related projects are taken over by special interest group. We heard it of Kazachstan and Azerbadjan that the "governement" is stepping in as community, and there are other smaller that halfroumour says it has taken over by special interest group. The same discussion on Wikimedia-l is also stating that when the actice participant on a project is getting below a critical mass, say 20-30 making 100+ edits/month, the risk of it being hijacked is there. And I see it as risk for the movement if a project is run against our five basic policies, that this can cause really bad publicity. Is there any thoughts that the board could initiate a review of the health of the community/projects with focus on the smaller ones, but perhaps encompassing all? Anders Wennersten (talk) 16:19, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Hi Anders, this is not something I had picked up on, and I will bring it to the attention of the board so that we can decide if we need to deal with this in some structured way. To be continued! Jan-Bart (talk) 16:40, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
This is a good idea to do regularly - not just for small wikis being taken over, but larger ones that may be losing energy, or facing a crisis; or wikis growing very fast, in need of different kinds of help (commons and wikidata, I'm looking at you). the Board can publicize and help kick this off, but this calls for language-work and collaboration. most communities do have people interested in helping contribute to such reviews, if we come up with a simple way to do it without simply hashing over local drama. SJ talk  16:32, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

Non-community elected chair

We were invited to comment wmf:Minutes/2013-08-07 here. My question is simple: was there any particular reason to break the long-standing tradition of electing a community-elected board member as chair? Thanks. --Nemo 18:14, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

HI Nemo, I looked at that page and it looked impossible to comment so referred people here (did I miss a comment page somewhere and therefore this comment?). About your second comment I can only state that I think that the board ought to choose the candidate thats best fit to lead the board for the coming year, regardless of the way they joined the board. And apparently the rest of the board agreed with this, but maybe (hopefully) they will chime in. Jan-Bart (talk) 16:39, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Even the longest traditions are broken from time to time :-) While there are benefits to this particular tradition, Jan-Bart substituted efficiently as chair when needed last year; has a great deal of time to dedicate now, as we face many tight deadlines; and has been thoughtful and effective so far. So I feel we made a solid decision. SJ talk  17:05, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
+1 -- phoebe | talk 20:14, 17 October 2013 (UTC)