Wikimedia Foundation elections/Board elections/2015/Questions/1

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Behavior towards new editors[edit]

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In several recurring press articles in different languages the wikimouvement and its "star" project Wikipedia has been criticised for bashing and bullying behaviour from members of the community towards newcomers, and an unwelcoming attitude towards expert contributors/contributions. In part the current system of soft "community rules", code of conduct and unregulated hard enforcement of soft rules are at the center of those issues. Also the risks of abuse and outside censorship loom in the distance. All of those elements constitute a risk factor for contributions to the "sum of all knowledge". My questions to candidates : a) do you think WMF should be involved in this matter? and in what way could it be involved? b) how can WMF contribute to the Wiki-community to resolve some of these issues What are your ideas in this matter, there is no wrong answer? --DerekvG (talk) 10:47, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
I think personally that the star project is needed. Unless, regular contributions within wikipedias would not be as rewarded as it should be and this will cause a lack of interest to old contributors... However, I see that new users are facing problems during their first months... But, I don't think that the policy of the project or the behaviour of the community is the main important reason for that. The main reason is that the rules and guidelines in Wikipedia are too long to be respected... They involve many details and they are very difficult to access. So, I don't think that such problems require the interference of the Board... However, the policies and rules can be simplified and explained using simple words in a paragraph containing several hundreds of works and involved in the main page of the wiki. The paragraph involve the scope of the wiki, the main important conditions under which works are accepted and some important links to help pages and a link to community page... The paragraph is the same for all versions of the same wiki and is regulated by community... --Csisc (talk) 10:01, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
Every new editor is important to us in this movement. All our expert editors , admins or bureaucrats should pay special attention to the new editors.

I think this is a major problem in large language Wikipedias, where position holder abuse new editors, which leads to the loss of an editor. In other hand some encourages new editors to contribute for the growth of Wikipedia. New editors initially gets abused ( here abused means; most of their edits either gets deleted or reverted or get attacked in talk page) but with time new becomes old and it's their duty that not to do the same if and only if proper reference and information have been provided.

a) do you think WMF should be involved in this matter? and in what way could it be involved?

I believe that this is a central matter of WMF, for the growth of its sister projects and if matter creates issue, they should get involved in this. In a contradiction to my statement WMF should never pressurize the community by taking wrong steps because Sometime we don't know who's right ?.They should set some new rules for behaving with the new editors.

b) how can WMF contribute to the Wiki-community to resolve some of these issues

If matter cross all odds then WMF can take a step like warning the abusive person. With very vast community WMF can't put personal attention to every problem and sometime knowledge of languages also matter for WMF to take action. I think the community itself should find the answer in the village pump with discussions and voting, later they can provide it to WMF for proof reading.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 14:17, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
Well, I have written about this problem myself and I think it is not only serious, but also will pose an even bigger problem in the future. User retention is getting more difficult, our actual everyday practices of treating newcomers are far from desirable (not because of bad will, often just because of the lack of time, routine, etc.). The Teahouse is a step in the right direction, but we should do more. However, I believe that the role of WMF in this matter is limited. Instead of direct interventionism (which in practice could go against the community) I believe that WMF and the Board should seek best practices from our communities to share (through organized events, fairs, friendly competitions, etc), and also foster new ideas. There's a number of techniques known in knowledge management field, which may help, and I believe that WMF and the Board could do more in this area. Pundit (talk) 14:43, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
We have become self-alienating, as I have presented back in 2013. That is, as the project has grown, we have become more isolated from one another because it's more efficient that way to maintain Wikipedia and the other projects. As such, we have started forgetting that first and foremost, we are a community, and I think the Foundation can play a key role in reconceptualizing this idea.

I strongly believe that we need to reinforce the idea that the community does not revolve around us veteran editors, and that new blood is very important in ensuring the continued vitality of the projects. While mechanisms for onboarding new users exist among different projects, I think the Foundation should play a role in helping make the transition easier for new editors by harmonizing best practices among projects to better ease editors into their respective communities, actively foster initiatives like the Teahouse that seek to build understanding between new and old editors, continue building its capacity to understand community dynamics better through funding research and providing the means for researchers to conduct their experiments, and calling out inappropriate behavior when it sees it. While the Foundation shouldn't intervene directly in making project policy, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't sit themselves out when these things happen, and they are in a better position to make noise on the social issues we face than individual editors are.

That being said, let me remind people that being a Wikipedian entails sacrifice. It means having to give up something of yourself for the greater good of the whole. There are many Wikipedia editors who, unfortunately, have forgotten this, and I think the Foundation is in a very good position at this point to help drive user retention by sending the signal that it doesn't, and that it will never tolerate, behavior that would cause editors to leave. I think our new editors and our expert editors as well will appreciate that, since now they will have someone to turn to when things go badly for them where before they didn't. The Foundation should advocate for editors more strongly, and editors will thank them for it. The Board has the power to make that happen. --Sky Harbor (talk) 01:11, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
It is not Wikipedia (the institution) which generates "bashing and bullying behaviour from members of the community" but it is some (a small minority) members of the community themselves. This derives from a phenomenon known as 'human nature' which the Foundation Board can (and does) deplore, but cannot make any claim to control. Self-policing by editors and administrators within (e.g.) English Wikipedia can, and should, deal with most manifestations of this sort. Editing no less than other forms of human interaction involves risks, and creating a fully-controlled environment (were that possible) which was fully risk free would change the nature of the enterprise. Of course the Foundation can and should set out the standards which editors should maintain. It is up to the Board to promote such standards and encourage their general adoption. And it is also up to contributors to a cooperative enterprise to be prepared to find that others may disagree with them, and to defend their points of view. But bullying the bullies does not build consensus - and for the Board to be invoked to determine who is the 'baddie' in any controversy is the road to lunacy. We should trust the wiki communities as a whole to do their own policing on their territory. --Smerus (talk) 19:30, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
My dear DerekvG (talk) thank you very much for questions especially at this time of racing to the WMF Board but my simple answer to you lather than to give more unimplementable answers and without any research or Deeping further. the only solution is to bring a comprehensive revolution to shape wikimovements especially the wikipedia, I came from Africa where a number of thousands are using the page with its challenges of being trusted with consumers (community) and the only solution is for the coming WMF Leader to bring a change. Francis Kaswahili talk, 01:24, 02 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
There are several points to your question, and let me also add a point about your premise. While I can understand from a management perspective that Wikipedia is the "star project" (as you name it) and for this reason should in theory receive much (or all) of the attention, I can not help but think that the Wikimedia movement is more about access to free knowledge and not just a (single) website. Of course we should not ignore the development of the projects from a technical point of view, and I want to point out that WMF has already been involved in the matter: in fact one of the strategic goals for 2010-2015 was "Increase participation" and the development of the Visual Editor was one step in this direction. I think that this involvement should continue and new possibilities should be tested. This development path should be well know in advance by the community because these experiments will most likely (especially if they are successful) affect then, I think that creating a communicative environment with the community we can allow ourselves to experiment more.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
This is a very complex problem, and it has no easy solution. Creating a friendly work environment is an important task of any institution. But the WMF is not 'running' Wiki[m|p]edia in the traditional sense: It has no control over staffing (who becomes editor) and behavioural rules, it cannot conduct a disciplinary hearing. This is, and should remain, the task of the communities. The Foundation can and does set the bar for their own meetings: at Wikimania and other WMF-sponsored gatherings, and of course for the work environment in their San Francisco offices. I'm sure WMF staff won't insult each other while at work.
  1. WMF should be involved. It can fund promising projects with grants, it can facilitate information exchange between communities on how to handle these issues, and it can gather researchers to explain the underlying social dynamics. It can't, and shouldn't try to, directly police misbehaviour.
  2. A detailled plan on how to win over and retain editors is pretty much the 'holy grail' of the entire movement. I can't offer that. I have for some time lobbied for an independent documentation of editor portfolios so that anybody could look up that User:ThisEditor has authored 10 articles whose English has been judged to be "brilliant", that User:ThatEditor is the main author of 57 core articles on Uruguayan history, and so on. This might help the experts who always look for something to put in their CV, or into their next grant application.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I think the health of the Wikimedia projects should be of concern not just to the WMF, but to every single contributor. Soemtimes it seems like we are in a constant race to the present, first aiming to have a decent text editor and in this case with civil community behavior: there are existing strategies today to revitalize and grow communities. While the Board can provide guidance and perspective, and the WMF can take a more active role (without hardly needing to reinvent the wheel, as I said this is an area that has been researched and for which strategies exist), at the end of the day we know that the members of the communities of the different projects must be willing (and desiring) to change any toxic culture. It's not just the matter of a loud minority that makes participating in a project difficult or stressful: it's an entire structure supported by more people that we want to acknowledge which permits, and sometimes turns a blind eye to, behaviours which we wouldn't tolerate in person. To change the status quo would require a serious commitment from those who want the projects to thrive, and not merely survive. I would hope we have the critical mass for that, because we need to start racing to the future, and this is something that is pulling us down.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
Both cases you mention – unfriendliness to new editors and to expert editors – are a subset of the larger question of what it is like to join Wikimedia projects, and whether it is a welcoming, civil, joyful environment to work and participate in. The answer should always be “yes”; to the extent that it is “no”, we have a problem.


Yes, this is a central matter for the WMF; the survival of our projects is at stake. However, that does not mean every idea and solution will come from the WMF, or be driven by the WMF: most ideas and culture change will come from the participants on each project. What the WMF has is an ability to shape the software and platform that we all work on, to build tools (like better article patrolling, etc.), and fund cross-project research in an effort to understand the problem. The WMF is also in a position to fund and promote ideas (like the Teahouse, or simplified rulesets, as mentioned by other candidates) and share those practices across projects. The WMF Board specifically is primarily in a position to amplify and endorse cross-project values and priorities: for instance, that aggressive behavior towards new editors must not be a part of Wikimedia’s culture, and that this is a priority for us to work on. But, the work to make this a reality has to come from every part of our movement.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
I agree that a lack of friendliness towards new contributors - be they experts or laypeople - is a risk factor towards increasing the number of active contributors to the Wikimedia projects. “Don’t bite the Newbies!” has been a slogan for a number of years. John Riedl, Aaron Halfaker, Fabian Flöck (who was a PhD student when I was at KIT and when he worked on some of these questions), Dario Taraborelli and many others have spent a lot of time researching these issues, and many causes have been identified.

The WMF and in particular the Board are limited in how they can deal with this issue directly. The projects and their communities are autonomous in many regards relevant for the question of friendliness. But still, there are a number of things the WMF can do or where the Board can encourage the allocation of funding to: organize and collect examples of community policies and projects from our hundred of projects and distill the lessons learned and the patterns that helped shape successes, and also the antipatterns that had negative consequences, and spread this knowledge among the projects. encourage experimentation with projects such as the Tea house and their transfer to other projects.

research into how widespread this problem is. Is it something that happens only to large and medium sized project? What about smaller projects? Does this transfer over languages and project families, i.e. is it the same for Wiktionary, Wikivoyage, etc. Most of our knowledge is derived from the largest projects.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
This is a very typical problem for most of the Wikimedia projects. In general, the attitude of the community members towards newcomers/expert contributors is far from desirable. I strongly believe such behaviors prevent a good number of new users from becoming active contributors. It should be taken seriously as the number of contributors is declining and user retention has become more & more difficult, whereas we want to increase the contributor base. We have been vocal on this issue for years in Bengali Wikipedia. I regularly discuss the matter with our community members in Wikimeetups/ discussion sessions, especially with the active contributors. So, we now have a general understanding within our community to be friendlier with new contributors and their contributions (of course there are some exceptions as well). We encourage the community members not to tag or delete contribution of a new contributor unless it’s damaging to Wikipedia’s repute and give preference to improving problematic contribution of new users and sending them a message explaining why the correction was made. However, Bengali Wiki-community is relatively smaller and geographically less dispersed than that of the larger ones. So, it’s a problem that cannot be resolved on ad hoc basis or by a single entity. In future, I won’t be surprised if resolving this issue becomes a strategic priority for the Wikimedia movement at large and WMF in particular. In addressing this issue, there has to be a coordinated joint effort by the Wikimedia communities, affiliate/thematic organizations and WMF. I see the role of WMF as the organizer cum facilitator in this joint effort. And I also expect WMF to play similar role in resolving issues of such nature. --Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (talk) 11:10, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
This is a crucial question about the behaviour of the admins towards the new editors. New editors means new to Wikipedia but not to the content or knowledge. In many cases there should be a clear policy to act against the admins, if they found that they are really deteriorating the dignity of writers (editors) and their prudent write ups. The WMF can act as an arbitrator or a facilitator, even if there is no complaint from the new editors and hassle activity from the admin side. But finally I say WMF and its facilitating involvement can reduce these issues by reviewing the activities of the admin side. And there should be a policy in English wikipedia, for instance the articles about Indian topics should be reviewed by the Indian editors or admins, if it is reviewed by a non native, there is a problem of availability of references in other than English language. Here we faced problems in writing India related articles and deleted by non native admins. In this way there is a jeopardy of losing good editors and articles too. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 20:30, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
We have two question here: 1) is Wikipedia too hard on newcomers? 2) is Wikipedia anti intellectual? This is than followed by asking, if this is true, can we do anything about it.

Regarding the second question, I disagree that Wikipedia is anti-intellectual. We recently looked at the core editing community for medical articles and found that about half are health care providers and 85% have at least a university education.[1] This was true for both the En and non-En communities. The current community is very much composed of experts, at least in the area of science and medicine. P.S. these sorts of statements by newspapers are why we do not generally allow them as sources for medical content on En W.

Now some professionals do struggle when they initially beginning to edit. Just because you are an expert does not mean that you automatically know how to write an encyclopedia. I know I did not when I arrived; however, with guidance from established editors I gradually learned how. Wikipedia editing does take substantial effort. One should not expect otherwise though. We have substantially increased in quality since our beginnings. What would have passed as an FA 10 years ago on En Wiki would likely not make it through GAN today.

In the world of journal publishing it is almost guaranteed that an initial submission will be rejected with requests for further work. It is important that all editors make clear why they have reverted someone. While I see falling editor numbers as one of our most significant issues, I am not convinced that Wikipedia being "hard" on newcomers is the primary reason for the fall. I support both the WMF funding further research into this question and small trials of ideas to attract editors. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:10, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
Short answer: Site culture is a matter of decentralized community control for all Wikipedias with volunteer bases which have reached "critical mass" in terms of number of active participants. It is not WMF's place to micromanage the day-to-day activities of such communities, they have their own evolving structures for control of abuse.

Long answer: "The sum of all knowledge" is a catchy slogan, but it is merely a slogan — something that will generate polite and appreciative applause in any given room filled with reasonably intelligent people. What we are actually doing is building a set of comprehensive encyclopedias in the various languages of the world, with greater or lesser success depending on the language and the subject. We need to focus upon that mission. Speaking of English Wikipedia, we don't need 100,000 random IPs to "crowd source" unfootnoted opinion, we need scholarly experts to develop specialized content, we need a legion of quality control and vandalism prevention specialists to occupy the gates to make good better. Other language Wikipedias doubtlessly have different needs, to which WMF's professional staff must be equally attuned. English Wikipedia can be rough on new contributors but to some extent it needs to be a little rough on new contributors, to make sure they are coming from the right place and making things better, not worse. Teahouse is a great addition on that front, helping newcomers to navigate the learning curve. Credit to Sarah Stierch & Co. for that creation. As a general statement, at En-WP we need more expert contributors and anything WMF can do to advance that mission should be explored. I'm looking at you, retired teachers and professors… Carrite (talk) 03:40, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
This is a growing problem, amplified by the automation of regular wiki-gardening and curation tasks. It is one of the things the WMF spends the most time thinking about; but the Foundation hasn't been effective at helping the projects address it so far. This is a distributed problem, and needs a distributed solution. The WMF can't fix this directly, but can help each community recognize this issue, visualize how it is affecting them, and test out different solutions. It should provide data and tools that help communities track their development, and should get better at identifying and sharing what works well -- both within Wikimedia communities, and in the many other collaborative communities online that have faced [and sometimes overcome] similar problems.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
Every new editor is significant. Yes, new editors often err in assuming Wikipedia to be a blog-posting or short-story-hosting site. The onus is on the experienced editors admins or bureaucrats should pay special attention to the new editors and show them what Wikipedia is and what it is not. Open discussion and a friendly approach can often convert these newbies into dedicated contributors. And that's exactly what we need!
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
I think the WMF can help by doing things that the communities are struggling to do on their own; create, support & disseminate tools and pieces of infrastructure. Tools that that help identify and protect new editors. Improvements to the social and community features of the site so that editors get integrated into subgroups more quickly and deeply. Better admin tools that would allow those with a more mature understanding of consensus processes to find live issues more quickly and resolve them more efficiently, before problems have time to fester. Snuggle is a nice example, but is under-supported. Simple things could have a big effect, e.g. how about if all new accounts were clearly marked as such?
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear Derekvg,

thank you for your question. Editor retention is vital to maintain a healthy community. In my opinion the best approach is to help people who ask for help. Answering questions, going into conversations, simply being friendly and pro-active makes people feel more welcome. I believe the communities are doing a great job in working towards a solution. Things like the Teahouse, Please do not bite the newcomers and BRD are a great way to go and help this effort. It is an example to us all. For experts it can be frustrating to have to explain "simple" things repeatedly. Also in these matters I believe the best way to go is friendly help desks. Pro-actively help people who need help. Help experts in simple matters. And help people in discussions. Do not let them stand alone.

Yes, I believe the WMF should be involved in the matter of editor retention. Attracting and maintaining new editors is vital for a healthy community. Firstly the WMF can be involved in how we are perceived by the public. We work hard, yet a single bad case can ruin our entire public image. The WMF helps explain what we do to the public. Public appearences, publications in media, wikimeets. All oportunities to explain what we do, and answer questions. Moreover, we go out to the public. Start workgroups at universities. Help local Wikimedians to set this up. I believe that all we need is a room with computers, and Wikimedia volunteers will gather. The WMF can help with getting a room (preferably for free) and help with minor expenses. I believe that anywhere Wikimedians gather, good things will follow. We can work together, answer local questions, help local editors. In short, create editor retention. The main work will be up to the community. The WMF can help support such efforts.

I hope this answers your question. Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 20:37, 15 May 2015 (UTC)


WMF role in disputes[edit]

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In recent years, there have been several instances (1, 2, 3) where intractable disputes over content and/or user conduct have consumed a wiki community to the point where it can no longer work towards the goals of Wikimedia. Currently it is difficult to solve such problems since there is no body tasked with resolving these disputes. What are your thoughts on these issues, and do you believe that WMF staff or the WMF Board should play a role in this? Rschen7754 04:25, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
I think that such an action could not be done by a board composed by several members... This will cause controversies... However, it can be regulated by a council composed of the administrators of all versions of wikipedia... Such a council will have more recognition in doing such actions... As for the Board, it will be more fructuous to give more interest in funding, organization, discussing new wikis, promoting the Education Programme... --Csisc (talk) 10:05, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
This is a very serious issue. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia , here each and every topic is equally respected , there should be no discrimination against any topic. I think for board it will be a situation like , you are in a middle of river of and your boat starts drowning. If Board will directly get involved in this matter it will create controversies and if board doesn't interfere in this matter, the question will also be raised on board. So, in this typical problem we should find a different path to solve these problems without harming the community value. WMF , Board , Chapters and Community at this moment should stand united for this abuse of power.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 11:21, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
This is a really good point. I'd say that there are two kinds of possible problems that we have trouble addressing now: one category is with projects that have internal problems (for whatever reason - there could be a cabal holding all the buttons, abuse of power, homophobia, etc.), and another is with cross-organizational disputes (typically, between WMF and a chapter or a community - we've had a couple of such, e.g. with the default visual editor, with controversial content and referendums, also on three major projects, disabling anonymous editing, and others - ignoring community consensus is rare, but not unprecedented). The first category could perhaps be to some extent handled by stewards, if explicitly empowered to do so (there would be a need to establish a procedure of starting an investigation). The second is not so easy. Although I despise bureaucracy and setting up a committee is a sure sign of its reign, I think that in some situations a dedicated body could help resolve some of such conflicts. I don't have a design ready, I'm just thinking out loud, and there are many possibilities here. For instance, major communities could have elected liaisons for relations with the WMF (this would also make deployments of new software and other changes easier). Another possibility would be a body shaped in similarity to the ombudsman commission (with an obvious risk of attracting petitions from trolls, but there could be threshold requirements for filing a case... Another problem will be that unfortunately, as you perfectly know yourself, it is really difficult to look into cases in communities that we do not share a language with). A third possibility would be a standing committee advising to the Board and, in justified cases, recommending a certain action (the difference here being that it would be a decision from the Board, after a committee recommendation, similarly to the FDC process). All of these are not perfect solutions, and yet I totally agree with you that lengthy discussions may paralyze work towards our goals. I would be reluctant to engage WMF staff in resolving community issues. Pundit (talk) 10:26, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
I participated in the Croatian Wikipedia discussion, and at that discussion I advocated both a "regional" Arbitration Committee and a harmonization of rules and policies across the Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian and Serbo-Croatian Wikipedias as part of a wider range of reforms to be implemented across all four projects designed to help balance each project out (as what I've written here). I think we can do something similar across all projects, though on a more decentralized scale.

As I've mentioned previously, I strongly believe that it is the Foundation's responsibility to ensure that editors are provided protection from the unsavory behaviors of others, while at the same time upholding the right of projects deciding how they ought to do things. I think at this point, we seriously need to have a discussion on what our values as a movement really are and in the process renegotiate the social contract that binds us together. I remember in 2010 I was discussing with people the idea of having an editor-written "Wikimedia charter" that would provide common cause for governing our projects together—we should be able to do that now, and the Board should play a role in making that happen.

I've also seen some suggestions here for a "global" ArbCom: while I agree with the idea in principle, we must ensure that it won't be dominated by editors from the largest Wikimedia projects, since that would be problematic for many communities (for one, it may be seen as an unjust imposition of "Western values" on other projects, and we don't want that). Rather, like plans to reform the United Nations Security Council, we must ensure that all geographies are adequately represented so that there is a balance of opinion. This is something that ought to be threshed out if we choose to go this route, but I think it could work. --Sky Harbor (talk) 01:11, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
As per my answers elsewhere, the Foundation Board has a responsibility to set or suggest standards, but it can't be involved in every detail of enforcing them. One answer could be for each wiki project to set up a voluntary board of arbitrators to whom problems from other wikis could be referred, with the parties involved agreeing beforehand to be bound by such independent arbitrators. Whether you could get people to serve on such panels might be a different issue :-). The Board could perhaps investigate a process along these lines. --Smerus (talk) 19:35, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
Yes, Rschen7754 WMF through the Board has the role on the projects of WIKIS and its community because the Board of trustees is the policy maker and supervising any daily activities of WMF as I can also refer you on the first answering to DerekvG (talk) am saying with confidence that the most of our community is to dare. To me if I get a chance of being the Board member I will fully collaborate with other member to bring a change, yes it can be done through collaboration with two option of resolving disputes through reconciliation and the last one is to set a tribunal purposely on disputes according to the nature of the disputes in the WMF. Francis Kaswahili talk 19:18, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
I do not think that WMF should engage its staff in patrolling the projects, even if they have a low participation and can be more exposed to problems like the ones you describe (this would also lead to an issue about responsibility for the content on the projects in general, I think). I think that this problem should be addressed first and foremost at a community level, with the WMF Board deliberating a globally discussed policy.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
The reason of the longevity and intractability of the disputes you mentioned, as well as of many others, is that no body governs the respective areas. We have built an empire. Building an empire is easier than to successfully govern it. But we haven't even appointed anyone to govern it, we leave it to whoever comes along and makes a bold decision. The Foundation is not supposed to assume the Governor role but it could certainly aide and support any promising process in this regard. That is their role, and to make sure the WMF is acting on reasonable suggestions to overcome Wikimedia's shortcomings, is the role of the Board of Trustees. Incidentally I had a talk submitted to this year's Wikimania, outlining the options and the potential repercussions of putting such government in place. The talk closely missed the inclusion threshold and is now on the waiting list: It might still be included on short notice. But the gist of it-should you not make it to Wikimania this year-is that anarchy is characterised by one common property: the lack of binding decisions. That's where we are now, and that needs to be overcome.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I would be averse to creating a permanent committee that deals with the kind of problem that affects entire projects. I think taskforces created to deal with specific issues would be better. We could get interested volunteers (who speak the language, who are familiar with the project culture, stewards...) to help, and then after the issue is resolved gratefully let them go, and avoid the typical committee burnout. These taskforces could even have staff support to make their jobs easier. This really could be created today, it doesn't require Board approval. Perhaps you should open a RfC. :)
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
We (by which I mean Wikimedia as a whole) do need to create and support a global dispute-resolution body for those cases that are too tough for a project or that span multiple projects, but are out of scope for the stewards. This has been much discussed over the years, but we are overdue for doing it. I’d like to see a group of volunteers with mechanisms similar to current steward processes and dispute resolution on mature projects, including mediation, who could feel empowered to act in cases like this. The WMF Board’s role should not be to get involved directly in such disputes. But we can approve such a group, and help mandate it to act, and approve global policies in its aid. (A group or process like this certainly does not *need* board approval to be formed, but where such approval is helpful we can give it). The role of WMF staff might vary; we could have staff certainly in various support capacities, legal aid, language support, etc. The specifics would be worked out with the Executive Director and her community team. Certainly, in general, there is interest in supporting the current community in ways like this in the WMF, which is a direction I support.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
To me, it is clear that the WMF should not get involved in these cases beyond what is legally required. I am wary of yet another global WMF body. But it seems that something akin to a Global Arbitration Committee is required. It would complement the day-to-day work performed by stewards. It would draw on support from the WMF (for translation, legal and technical advice, etc.).
One comment to Carrite’s answer below: I am not denying that the Croatian Wikipedia has issues, but I strongly disagree with the characterization of the Croatian Wikipedia as a “dysfunctional”, “abusive” “microencyclopedia”. Based on your threshold, about 90% of our projects have not reached “critical mass” (excluding projects with ‘only’ 17 or less very active contributors) and are thus potentially subject to this kind of characterization.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
The kind of disputes/issues you have referred to are very complex and diverse in scope & nature. So, resolving the disputes of such nature are not going to be an easy task, yet we inevitably have to face them. In the ideal Wikimedia movement, in my view, the global community has the final say and any decision taken by the global community should be given the top priority. To deal with such disputes/issues, we should create a Global Wikimedia Forum where there will be representatives from all Wiki-communities, user groups, chapters, thematic organizations, WMF staff and WMF Board (including others entities related to our movement). Stakeholder of the Wikimedia movement can bring any such issue to the notice of the Forum. The Forum will discuss the issues/problems related to Wikimedia movement, solicit outside expert opinion (if required), arrive at a common understanding/decision, workout the way forward and request WMF to act on issues if needed. I definitely believe WMF board and WMF staff has a role to play in this process. WMF board should convene the creation of such a global forum and WMF should act as the facilitator for its creation and smooth functioning. WMF board may also bring issue to the forum for discussion, provide guidance and offer opinion/advice. WMF may take part in the implementation part of the decisions taken if requested by the Forum. --Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (talk) 08:51, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Indeed its a good raise of point. We can categorize this point in to two 1) Editorial and its administration and 2) Foundation and in its administration. For both categories there should be two bodies from the WMF, with broader vision and genuine activity to create hassle free and friendly atmosphere, and to resolve the issues smoothly. It may be easy to resolve the problems in second category, as it has a small periphery but in first category there is difficulty as the scope is large. There is a need to control the aristocracy in the editorial administration, if there is. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 20:54, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
Having the WMF provide a perspective in discussions regarding issues that directly affect our shared brand would be useful. They do this currently to a limited extend. Their comments should not be binding except in cases in which this is legally required but would provide a wider perspective for smaller communities for whoever closes the discussion. Additionally the WMF could set up a global "arbitration committee" to accept these sorts of cases from communities which have been unable to address them by other means. Such a committee would be elected from the community similar to current arbcoms. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:10, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
Here we have a problem that is a byproduct of excessive decentralization. Historically, the decision has been made to launch Wikipedias in every language of the world, if possible — to set them up under the "if we build it, they will come" model, hoping that roughly equivalent volunteer communities will spontaneously emerge around each in the same manner that they did for the English, German, Spanish, French, and other major Wikipedias. The problem is that some of the smaller language Wikipedias have not at this point developed sufficiently large volunteer bases to rein in abuse.

The questioner cites dysfunctional situations at the Chechen, Pashto, and Croatian Wikipedias. Here is the count of Very Active Editors for Feb. 2015 for these three problem encyclopedias: Chechen — 2; Pashto — 4; Croatian — 17. LINK. Are we noticing a pattern here? I suggest that WMF has the right to put abusive microencyclopedias into a sort of receivership if truly fundamental problems arise in the same way that an Executive Committee of a political party or union or fraternal society has the power to revoke the charter of local chapters not adhering to the fundamental mission of their organization.

I emphasize that this is not a principle to be applied to the actually functioning encyclopedias with volunteer communities that have attained "critical mass," but rather that this is an extreme measure to be taken in the event of fundamental dysfunctionality of tiny language Wikipedias under control of a dedicated clique.
Samuel Klein (Sj)
Thanks, Rschen. These are hard problems because they can be so varied, and so specific to the local context. I think we need a community body to handle [dispute resolution], a proposal I helped to draft. Coordinating this with the work of the Ombudsmen makes sense, since these disputes often get into questions of socking and privacy [and, on larger projects, questions of whether or not local checkusers can be trusted]. Either a subgroup of the ombudsmen, or a parallel group that coordinates them, would make sense. The WMF can support this by helping the body get started (as it does with appointing ombudsmen), and by providing some facilitation and recognition for this work.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
WMF, subgroup of the ombudsmen, or a parallel group needs a cautious approach to deal with these issues in reconciliatory manner. --Muzammil (talk) 19:11, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
The WMF's role should be to design a product that communities can use to accumulate and disseminate knowledge. Different communities will have different problems. The WMF should not intervene as this does nothing to stop the problem coming back again in another form, or in another project. Instead, it should study how the process has failed and try and improve the product so that these problems can more effectively be overcome by the communities themselves.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear Rschen7754,

thank you for your question. I believe we do not need to form a new permanent committee to handle cases that are too tough for a single project to handle or where it is out of scope for the stewards. However we can have community members who are willing to work on this form a group to work together with all parties involved on a case by case basis. It is definitely good if we have a standard approach. Also feedback would be great, places where people with experience from previous issues can relate their experiences for the benefit of the whole community. The WMF board and staff should not involve itself in such community matters. The WMF can ofcourse give support with translations or legal aid. I am favor of any community initiative that will work towards a solution for these problems.

I hope this answers your question. All the best, Taketa (talk) 21:03, 15 May 2015 (UTC)


Use of Superprotect and respect for community consensus[edit]

Question.svg

Please explain whether you believe it was the right thing to do for the WMF to disregard community consensus on the English and German Wikipedias regarding MediaViewer, and to forcibly prevent the German Wikipedia community from disabling MediaViewer by implementing Superprotect. If you are a current Board member, then please explain how your actions on the Board in supporting WMF's decision were consistent with your duties to support and represent the community. --Pine 22:30, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
I think that the issue is more than controversial. Anyone can tell you that working in a wiki should involve respect to the global community decisions and thoughts. You cannot add something within a wiki that is refused by the global community... However, wikis are regulated by Wikimedia Foundation and this regulation involve some adjustments to the policy of the projects... If a project is affiliated under the Wikimedia Foundation, its members should respect any adjustments and regulations to the policy of the considered wiki. We cannot adopt an adjustment for some versions and neglect it for other versions. But, I think that major regulations should be based on a consensus on MetaWiki in order to avoid such matters. We can even do a Wikipedia Council constituted of the admins of all Wikipedias who discuss and adopt such consensus... We can also do this for Wiktionary and other projects... --Csisc (talk) 09:01, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
I think Superprotect is a bad idea and even conterversial too. (Why?) Without any information of the community, WMF employees can not implement such decission. Whereas, there should be detailed & well planned guidelines for implementing Superprotect, and community need to get informed about it.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 11:40, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
TL;DR version: I am against Superprotect.

Longer: I've briefly addressed this issue in my previous answer. While I believe that the community consensus sometimes may need to be overthrown (I can imagine a situation in which one community makes a decision in stark contrast to our values as a movement), I believe that we lack procedures, which would allow some form of arbitration when a given community disagrees with the WMF's decision. Especially in cases where software implementation has to go as scheduled (not to be considered a failure), and an under-baked product is released, or when a tool concept is generally liked by some communities, but disliked by the others, there should be a way to seek a non-forcible solution (obviously, in the described case the community consultations should have been conducted much earlier). The WMF may be very often right in its actions and general strategic oversight. Still, I think that especially in such cases, when communities disagree with a certain tool, it should not be WMF's prerogative to make the final decision. As suggested previously, I believe that ultimately a decision should be up to the Board, but the Board should consider such cases only after receiving an opinion from a community-driven committee, similar to the FDC or ombudsman commission (I know, another committee... and yet, I don't think it is realistic to assume that the Board will convene an emergency online meeting to consider ALL cases, there has to be a social filter somewhere). Pundit (talk) 06:35, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

@Pundit:: You still need to actually answer @Pine's question: Please explain whether you believe it was the right thing to do for the WMF to disregard community consensus on the English and German Wikipedias regarding MediaViewer, and to forcibly prevent the German Wikipedia community from disabling MediaViewer by implementing Superprotect. Thanks, odder (talk) 06:47, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Odder:: Hi Odder, apologies for being unclear, I've assumed I made my point explicit. I believe it was not the right thing to do. I think that irrespective of arguments and reasons, and even if the WMF was 100% right in their approach to MediaViewer (which I'm not certain they were, as communities differ and may have different needs, and also may sometimes have better, or at least alternative insight into their readers' preferences, although may also sometimes just be wrong - veteran Wikimedians rarely can imagine an average user or reader's perception), the whole process was flawed. It lacked proper community consultations, as well as proper dispute resolution methods. Both can and should be introduced in the future and it is up to the Board to do so. Pundit (talk) 08:23, 3 May 2015 (UTC) (added TL;DR version to avoid further confusion) Pundit (talk) 08:25, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Added: After reading Maria's and Phoebe's replies, in which they both state that SuperProtect was/is not the Board's matter, I want to strongly emphasize that I disagree with this viewpoint. SuperProtect is not just some trifle UI change, it is a technological tool that goes against our culture, tradition, and values. Disrespecting community's consensus cannot be used to roll out virtually not consulted changes of wiki-mechanisms, that a given community disagrees with. This is entirely different than not giving a priority to some whim or undesirable change to the mechanism a community may demand. I think that SUperProtect was definitely something the Board should be consulted about, and if it wasn't, then something the Board should spend some time discussing and clarifying, rather than treating as something not pertaining to its mandate. Pundit (talk) 08:30, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
We could argue all day on whether superprotect is justified. On my part, I think it isn't, and it's reprehensible that we've gotten ourselves into a situation where communities have to be strong-armed into accepting the way of the Foundation where before this was unnecessary. But let's face it: it's there. We have to mitigate then the risk of it being used again and ensure that the community has the ability to maintain oversight over the Foundation's use of that function.

That being said, I've been torn about the entire issue. Personally, I feel that tools like the VisualEditor and Media Viewer go a long way towards helping make Wikipedia more intuitive for readers and new editors, helping update the "staid" look of our projects and providing a more modern approach to how content is consumed on Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. We must take those users into account, as user conversion ensures that we remain sustainable in terms of user numbers. But at the same time, editing communities have legitimate complaints about these features and the Foundation should do way more to address them first before running over roughshod the way this rollout happened. The Foundation may have been right in its intent (to help make it easier for readers to use Wikipedia), but definitely wrong in its methods (by overriding communities), and it should've committed itself to more discussion before rolling out buggy features. After all, we editors look out for readers too, right?

This is a prime example of the disconnect that exists between communities and the Foundation. We need to rebuild those connections, and the only way we can do that is if we're able to talk to one another as equals. The entire Media Viewer fiasco has destroyed that equal footing, and the only way we can make it right is to both commit to extensive community consultation processes before rolling out features, and curtailing the use of superprotect only to scenarios where there is broad consensus warranting its use, if not removing it entirely. --Sky Harbor (talk) 03:57, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
My understanding is that Superprotect has been invoked only once, to intervene in a local war between administrators. It is not unreasonable for the Foundation to have a supreme sanction in reserve, but the conditions in which it can be invoked and exercised need to be clearly defined, understood and agreed between the different Wiki communities. It should be the responsibility of the Foundation board to ensure that such a consensus is developed. --Smerus (talk) 17:13, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
Hello, Pine, as well as you know that Wikimedia is a gateway to user enabling them to post or viewing, commenting and discussing conscientiously, and according to the question posted you optioned to believe or mot, I can’t to ignore your point but let me tell you one thing Pine The Wikimedia has a millions of user with different calibers. The important here is now for those who seek positions as board of trustees members to undertake their responsibility with accountability, as I have already explained on my previous answers if I get a luck of being elected as a board member I promise to collaborate with my colleges on the change for better future. Francis Kaswahili talk, 19:46, 04 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
I think that superprotect is a bad idea and it should have not be implemented, I think that the projects have already shown in several ways that you don't need that kind of superpowers to manage them. More than that, I am much more concerned about why and how we arrived at a situation where some WMF employees felt it was necessary to implement Superprotect. Why there wasn't enough communication with the community? Was this reaction from the community completely unforeseeable? I remember that a result of that discussion was putting in place some mechanism that would increase the community feedback (at earlier stages of development). I think that this would help the community and also the developers.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
The Board is of course not micromanaging WMF's daily affairs. I very much assume that the Board discussed these matters after the horse had already bolted. That said, it is never the right thing to do for the WMF to ignore community consensus. Such actions are at the core of the rift between WMF, communities, and Chapters that I alluded to in my candidate statement. I am concerned that an action like the creation of the superprotect right seems to have happened ad hoc, without seeking much input from either the community or the Board. I am further concerned that none of the responsible WMF employees had an inkling about what damage the creation of such user right and its immediate application on a contested page would do to the relationship of the Foundation and the editing communities. Whatever the merits of MediaViewer and other recent software development projects, if WMF cannot convince the community of their usefulness it needs to engage in more dialogue rather than forcing them down the volunteers' throats. I believe the Board should have made a clear statement in this regard.
@Pgallert: Can you answer @Pine's question specifically by providing an unambiguous answer rather than dealing in generalities, ie. state whether you believe it was the right thing to do for the WMF to disregard community consensus on the English and German Wikipedias regarding MediaViewer, and to forcibly prevent the German Wikipedia community from disabling MediaViewer by implementing Superprotect? As a follow-up to your answer, the Board – on which @Raystorm and @Phoebe were sat at the time – published a pretty clear statement supporting that decision, so perhaps knowing this could help. odder (talk) 15:35, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Sorry to have disappointed you with my answer, I believed it was sufficiently clear. Here it is: I do not believe community consensus should have been disregarded in this or any other manner. The German wp community should not have been prevented from disabling MediaViewer. The block of Eric Möller was entirely justified. Superprotect should not have been created in this context, and not have been used for this purpose. And I would not have endorsed the Board statement.
Do you really belive, Superprotect was one of WMF's daily affairs? Really? Such a slap in the face of the Volunteers by those who live from the Volunteers work? Marcus Cyron (talk) 17:08, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
No, Marcus Cyron. What I wanted to say--apologies if I didn't say it clear enough---is this: Sometimes a small technical workaround is applied to solve an issue. The Board should never be involved in that, those are the daily affairs. In this case, the "workaround" could easily have been foreseen to be the shit that is about to hit the fan. It should not have been done that way, with or without Board involvement. That the Board ex post facto approved of it is all the worse and one of the reasons you find my nomination statement here. --Pgallert (talk) 22:15, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
Add-on: Two sitting community-elected Board members don't see much wrong with superprotect and the resulting Board statement. I do. --Pgallert (talk) 22:30, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
Hi Pine. I think most people are aware that operational decisions such as adding an additional protection level in the Mediawiki namespace are not Board decisions. The Board does not go into this kind of detail, and so had no role to play in the decision of implementing superprotect. After establishing that, I think the timing was bad. This all happened when Wikimania was ending, while we were celebrating our new ED who just days before at the Board meeting had been talking about how her vision was to involve the community at each step of product developments, communicating sooner, prioritizing smarter, testing more. Something I believe everyone would endorse. Then this happens. It is true that MediaViewer was released without such a level of noise in the other projects, and there was mention that in German Wikipedia some users didn't get a chance to test MediaViewer because a link to Beta features was previously locally disabled by an admin. But still. Product development cannot be a battleground between staff and community members, this is not sustainable across all our projects. Today, a new editor in Spanish Wikipedia has to activate Visual Editor in their Preferences, because veteran editors find it preferable to do that than to have it by default and let people who don't want to use it opt-out. I use this as an example for the line of thinking within our movement that some communities have become so change-resistant and innovation-averse that they will fight any Beta features which are released. We now have a new Community Engagement department which will hopefully be able to develop an innovative relationship between communities and WMF. At least one of mutual respect and empathy, where the most important thing is not to be right or wrong. I don't want it ever to be the right thing to do for the WMF to disregard community consensus. Neither the WMF is right all the time, nor the communities are right all the time. Does anyone think MV needed to be the line in the sand for either the WMF or communities? But there are community members with strong interests to promote a confrontational relationship with the WMF, as if only they cared about the projects. I think that's exactly the wrong kind of approach and the kind of small thinking that can make the projects stay stuck in 2006 while the rest of the internet is thinking about 2020 and the next three billion users. Superprotect will go away, it has to, because forcing features on communities like on German Wikipedia is not okay, it's battleground mentality, and the ED has been working really hard to improve product development including the testing and release processes so that this never happens again, and I hope succeeding at this will make superprotect go away (again, it is not the Board role to micromanage at such a level of keep/remove an additional protection level in Mediawiki).


As for the second question, remember that (a) there's only three community seats in a Board of ten. There probably should be more, I for one think so. (b) Also, I feel it important to mention that the assertion that the community-elected members represent the community (or that chapter-selected seats represent the chapters, for that matter) is inaccurate. Board members represent the WMF when they join the Board, this should not be a surprising statement. The community elected members, among other things, can try (and do try) to inject a community perspective into Board decisions, statements, and thinking (see (a) again). At the time of superprotect we were available & willing to interact with concerned community members. Generally speaking, at least for the Board incumbents you have the advantage of checking how we have voted in Board resolutions for the last two years since they are publicly available, and decide in your opinion if we support the projects, communities and WMF. I encourage you to do so.

@Raystorm: I would like to ask a follow up question. You claim that the Board had no role to play in the decision of implementing superprotect; however, Erik Moeller has admitted publicly that the Board were briefed on the intention to implement superprotect ahead of time. Can you confirm whether this is true, ie. whether the Board had known about the plans to enable superprotect before it was enabled and used on the German Wikipedia? Thanks, odder (talk) 19:59, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
@Raystorm: Hello? odder (talk) 20:34, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
The Board does not go into this kind of detail - and THIS is the problem. For what we need the board, if they not able or willing to do anything elso then cruising about board issues? So, I say, we don't need a board. It should control and lead the WMF. But as long such "details" are not interesting for the board, why do you think, the board should be longer interesting for us volunteers? Marcus Cyron (talk) 17:12, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Hey there. Sorry, between the Q3 Board meeting, the FDC meeting and the Wikimedia Conference all happening simultaneously, time has been scarce. So, Odder, I think SJ has given a good reply. Marcus, the Board cannot be comprised of ten executive directors: being a Board member is different from being an ED. The Board oversees the ED and the organization, it is a safety mechanism. And we care about volunteers: all of us are volunteers, and most of us are contributors to the projects. Raystorm (talk) 07:52, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
This is a loaded question, and no wonder: it’s a loaded issue. On the one hand, it’s surprising that this incident did get so hot: at face value it was a revert war in a project over a non-critical (but potentially helpful, though that’s disputed) UI change. Not pleasant, but not exactly a life-or-death matter. On the other hand, though, it’s not surprising at all: the dispute over what say a particular editor or community (or community subset) should have over the project interface, and whether the WMF as website operator gets final say on how the project software works, raises questions of community autonomy, how decisions are made, the relationship of editors to software design and vice-versa, and the role of the WMF in setting the appearance of each of the projects. These are big questions.

To be clear, this specific case is not a Board matter; we don’t monitor what changes are rolled out when or what specific changes are made to MediaWiki, nor should we; this is not our purview. It arguably *became* a Board matter when we spent time discussing it, when people asked us what we thought, when philosophical questions were raised, and when it generally caused community uproar, but that does not mean we are going to become the final arbitrators of some sort in this case. But since you asked what I personally thought…

In a nutshell: I support the creation of superprotect as a tool. I wish that it hadn’t been used in this case, however.

To elaborate: I support the creation of the tool because the ability to lock which software version a project is running is useful in a world where we’ve got 280+ independent websites all running *ever so slightly* different and customized versions of MediaWiki, with all the resulting complexities, dependencies and conflicts that creates. We can (and must) develop some basic guidance about when such a protection level might be used; hopefully not often, hopefully not in contentious situations. It’s useful because of the larger picture: we need to and will change lots of aspects of MediaWiki in the coming years, everything from making citing sources easier to adding discussion features. And consistency across projects is important, because having projects with a consistent interface and having new tools available to all editors is important. There is an imbalance between projects currently, with some smaller projects in particular getting shortchanged, and some larger projects unable to come to consensus on new tools (and editors on those projects sometimes unable to even access features, as happened on de.wp).

I wish superprotect hadn’t been used in this case, though, because the resulting drama obscured a central point, which is that WMF, as operator of MediaWiki and the projects, must be able to make software changes -- but, to be supportive of the projects and editor community, those changes must be well-done and useful improvements. That is our social contract.

I want to see our software rollouts be smooth enough such that arguments like this won’t happen -- that individuals won’t feel the need to revert new features to protect a vision of how the wiki looks or operates. We must therefore improve how we develop and deploy software -- especially since we need to make a lot of software changes in the near future, to fulfill our other goals and meet our current challenges. The WMF Board has given strong guidance on this point and the Board and ED are in agreement, and the WMF is currently focusing on this; we’ve already made a lot of progress. And, for this specific case, we’ve also addressed many of the problems that were raised with MediaViewer; it’s better than it was when all this happened. And that, too, is important; addressing bugs and rolling back software changes that cause problems should not be a dramatic matter, but simply part of daily work.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
Implementing superprotect in order to forcibly prevent a community from acting on their consensus was a mistake. Still not having rules on how Superprotect can be used is another mistake. We can and should remedy the latter.

It is often claimed that the Wikimedia communities are averse to change or stuck in the past. While introducing Wikidata, I have to say that this is not the experience I have made when introducing Wikidata. Actually, I am afraid that the preconception of regarding the community as conservative and change-resistance is actually a possible factor in leading to not properly listening to them. But we have to listen to them. The German contributors did not oppose MediaViewer merely because it was new, but because it had some major flaws (such as licensing issues). It sometimes can be hard to recognize such valid concerns amongst the sea of arguments which are less valid, but if there is such a massive pushback, then there is often a valid underlying concern in it.

Wikidata was not perfect, and still is not, and there are many, many valid concerns with regards to it. And yet, the project was designed and developed in a way that allows to be helpful nevertheless, while the existing problems are gradually being resolved. We have listened in particular to the critical voices, and have tried to find the underlying reasons in those that might need to require changes in what we do. And this helped make not only Wikidata, but the Wikimedia projects as a whole better.

The experience I have made with Wikidata, and the skillset I have demonstrated with it, this is what I think might be my most important contribution to the Board in case I get elected. I would obviously not control the day-to-day work of the WMF, but I would provide support and advice in planning, evaluating and performing deployment of new features to the Wikimedia projects. There were alternatives to handling the situation around MediaViewer’s deployment that did not involve the implementation of Superprotect. It’s not MediaViewer which was fundamentally broken - it was Superprotect as an answer to the reaction of the community which was, and is, deeply broken. If you consider how big the change is that MediaViewer brought, and compare it to how big the change is that Wikidata embodies, you will see that Wikidata is a much larger change - and yet, it never came to a situation which was comparably heated.

I think that the Foundation has not only to continue introducing changes to our projects, but should even increase the speed and the boldness of these changes. I think MediaViewer as a concept is a step in the right direction. I absolutely think that VisualEditor is an important step in the right direction. And there are many, many more things that need to happen. But all these deployments have to be done with care and proper communication (which doesn’t just mean ‘inform the communities early enough’, but actually means ‘discuss it with the communities and listen to their concerns’). I think that a Board member with a deep understanding of our communities, the technical infrastructure of Wikimedia, and the different software components that power our site, can be a huge benefit for communicating between the Board and the Foundation, for exercising the duty to oversee the Foundation, and for providing the Foundation with help towards deploying the necessary changes to our projects. I am confident to be the right person to fulfill this role.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
I think it was not the right thing to implement the ‘Superprotect’ and the way it was implemented & exercised was a mess. There are two elements in it: 1) creation of ‘Superprotect’ as a special right above the existing user rights of Wikimedia project and 2) use of this feature by WMF. I don’t like the idea of Superprotect. There may be some arguments in favor of Superprotect where it can be argued that it is sometimes beneficial to overturn a community consensus for the greater benefit of the movement, but it can be contested in many front at the same time. In general, however, I believe it is very important to have enough community consultation before implementation of any such sensitive feature and community feedback should take place right from the planning stage. In ideal situation, there should be a discussion with the global community and WMF should convince the community members regarding the usefulness of any such new feature. In addition, there should be detailed & well planned guidelines for the use of such features incorporating the community feedback so that everyone has a clear understanding of what do and expect. Unfortunately, no such thing was done in this case.
Consensus of the global community should be taken into consideration. To bring the consensus, community consultation on the issues are to be taken place. Both the WMF and the communities should see that the features like superprotect is really bring what Wikipedia aims to. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 07:32, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
Superprotect is a bad idea. It should be exceedingly uncommon for the WMF to take actions without and against community consensus. The WMF should work to get community support and maintain community involve throughout the entire software development process similar to what is required from those within the community who propose new changes. If this would have been done it likely would have prevented this issue from arising. Rollout of new technology generally needs to be done slowly and with plenty of discussion. Additionally listening to the many great ideas coming from the editor community will substantially increase the chances that development time will not be wasted on non supported efforts. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:10, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
I commend fellow candidate Pete Forsyth for his activism on the issue of Super Protection and urge everyone to note his statement on the matter below.

Super Protection as put into use against the German Wikipedia was a symptom of an illness — a growing apart of the paid professional staff of WMF in San Francisco from the volunteers around the world who actually build and maintain the encyclopedia. Software development was undertaken with little care or concern for the actual needs of the volunteers at the core of The Project. The Visual Editor debacle led to escalation with the unilateral launch of MediaViewer, exacerbated by a "screw you, we know what's best" attitude emanating from San Francisco.

I think, I hope, I believe, I presume that Executive Director Tretikov has identified this fundamental error in WMF's software development process and that changes moving forward will not require either the "nuclear option" of community hacking of the software or of "super protecting" such alterations. I was in solidarity with German WP in their assertion of right to accept or reject changes of the fundamental editing environment. I did believe that the controversy was a tad overblown and that Media Viewer was more or less an improvement and a workable piece of gear at the time of launch — certainly fixed now. Still, it is our duty as community-elected board members to represent our constituents in such matters, and to make sure that San Francisco does not attempt to foist faulty, broken, defective software upon the core editing community merely to "meet a timetable" or "show results" for expenditure of donor funds. Carrite (talk) 21:58, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
It is never healthy to ignore strong community consensus - a rare and useful occurrence. We should build a movement that welcomes this wherever it occurs and learns from it.

'Superprotect' was a poor idea, in name and concept. It opposed our wiki values, distracted the projects, and did not solve any pressing problem. It will likely never again by used. In the end, MediaViewer was improved and the deployment process was fixed, but it took longer and was more painful thanks to this super-intervention.

The idea was mentioned to the Board as a possibility, a few days before it happened, as a way of responding to technical wheel wars. I advised strongly against it, noting that it was unnecessary and out of touch with our wiki norms. But not everyone agreed, and this was an implementation detail, not up for line-item approval.

After it was done, many more detailed concerns were raised with the ED. The Board discussed ways to avoid any future disastrous deployments, and to preserve our community values while experimenting with tools, in two following Board meetings. But a Board should not micromanage staff: they must be free to make their own plans and decisions, take responsibility for the results, make and fix their own mistakes. Like the fundamental problem with 'superprotection' itself: forcing an unwanted change rarely works; far better to listen and facilitate change from within.

On the Board's letter: The new ED was still settling into her role, and asked the Board for public support. That would focus discussions on her work to find a better way forward, and to fix what was broken, rather than on internal differences within the Foundation. This led to the public letter from the Board, supported by a majority of trustees. Finding a better way to roll out MediaViewer was likewise taken up by staff.

In the same spirit of unity and focus: now, months later, we should also encourage publicly admitting failure and learning from it. We should encourage everyone involved to recognize what went wrong and why, and the changes made as a result. I don't know if keeping the legacy code as a reminder is a good idea, but it may not hurt.

Planning for the future: the timeframe of Board guidance and decisions is usually measured in years, not in months.

Since last fall, the Board's engagement around deployments has been in strategic discussions about how to make community feedback and buy-in an integral part of the development cycle. The WMF has seen two recent steps in that direction: the creation of a separate Community Engagement department, and the collaborative rollout process developed by the new VP of Engineering.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
no response yet.
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
It seems very strange to me that this should have happened at all. To me, the community arguing with the WMF is like someone complaining at their car for going in the wrong direction. The community itself develops strategy. If the strategy was put into place and the outcome was rejected by the community, then obviously the community did not reach consensus on its own strategy. This should look the like the community arguing with itself, rather than the community arguing with the WMF - this strongly points to a lack of transparency in WMF decision-making. If there was a subset of the community that tried to override the consensus, then the WMF ought to indeed take appropriate measures to stop it, and it should be obvious that that's what is happening.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear Pine,

thank you for your question. Superprotect is a bad idea. Using superprotect showed a lack of understanding of community processes. This was not an emergency. There was no reason to use advanced rights. Implementing software against community consensus showed that there was a lack of previous discussion. The WMF should get community support for software proposals. New software will have a better reach and usefulness if we discuss it together. Effort should not be wasted on software that does not have community support.

I hope this answers your question. Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 21:22, 15 May 2015 (UTC)


Project management experience[edit]

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Please describe your hands-on experience with researching, designing, funding, staffing, coding, and deploying large and complex projects. Please provide links to examples of your work that demonstrate your personal involvement. --Pine 22:33, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
I contribute regularly to the project of Tunisia in some wikipedias... I had been interested in emphasizing Education and Scientific Research in Tunisia... I had created some pages about the examinations and the main scientists of Tunisia... In order to make my work more fructuous and have a list of scientists who should have a Wikipedia page, I had made a Ranking of the 307 most leading Tunisian Scientists and posted it online for several reviews... The work had been downloaded efficiently 647 times in less than one year... After, I have made a Wikipedia Page for some of them and the works had been very efficient... The same work is currently done for universities... Furthermore, I participate in WikiConcours and WikiCup with works about Tunisia and had several successes... However, the most important project that can prove that I have some experience is doing some wikis in Tunisian. In fact, I started launching a wikipedia in Tunisia in 2011 and I had guessed after that nonstandard languages have little chance to build their own wikis. That is why I had joined a group that was working on the subject and adjusted its works in Early 2015. After, I had build my own group of standardization of Tunisian and had contacted several linguists for review and succeeded in making a very conventional orthography of Tunisian... So, I have an exceptional working experience in leading projects and launching wikis in Incubator and know about all problems and matters faced by Board Members, SIL and Language Committee about the adoption and the adaptation of new languages for Wikimedia wikis and I think that this important experience can help me adjust some problems within the Board if I would be elected. --Csisc (talk) 09:39, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
I have been a part of Wikimedia movement in India since 2012, a regular contributor to Odia language Wikipedia and occasionally contribute to Hindi and English Wikipedia. I coordinate with CIS-A2K, India for the growth of Odia Wikipedia since 2013 and member of Wikimedia India from March 2015.

Morever;

  • I am active in outreach programs for Odia Wikipedia.
  • Helps in organising conferences and workshops for Odia Wikipedia.
  • Had organised an Editathon on the occasion of International Women's day , Check the status here.
  • Volunteer/Co-organizer of Wiki Loves Food , Member of it's filtering committee and social media handler.
  • Nabakalebara 2015 will be a religious event in Odisha this year which occurs once in every 15 years, more than 5 million people around India will gather at Puri for this occasion. Am working to bring Odisha's tourism department under QRpedia project and will colaborately organise this Editathon . (In initial stage by now)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
I've founded ling.pl, the largest online dictionary in Poland (currently ~9 million views monthly) - I personally managed its development and growth (acquired copyrights, managed a team of software engineers, etc.). For 6 years I was a CEO of Collegium Invisibile, an NGO for gifted students (at the time, I've successfully fund-raised about 50 thousand USD per annum, writing the projects myself, while coordinating my colleagues' work, too). As a scholar, I'm heading a research center and an International Management Department, with 10 people (most of whom I've hired after a self-designed, collaborative and team-driven recruitment process - although the department is one of the youngest ones at my university, it already is in top 3 in terms of publications, conference presentations, grants). Over the last 5 years I myself have successfully applied for several research grants, for a total sum of about 300 thousand USD. I've been appointed by the Minister of Science to Scientific Policy Committee, a body opining on academic policy legislation, and also making own initiatives. I also sit on the advisory board for one of the largest scientific centers in the region, and have board experience with granting programs. I don't really have any experience with coding (except for some crude and mostly forgotten knowledge of Basic, Turbo Pascal 5.5, as well as HTML, MySQL, and other common tools). Within Wikimedia movement, I've been elected three times in a row to chair the Funds Dissemination Committee and I am proud that I've contributed to its currently working design. I've never been involved in any Wikimedia chapter's board, but I believe it can be perceived both as a flaw and an advantage. Pundit (talk) 06:54, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
I will admit that most of my experience is in community management, so I apologize in advance if my project management experience pales in comparison with some of the other candidates. However, I strongly believe that my experience merits a look.

I was the founder of Wikimedia Philippines, and since 2010 we've been handling projects totaling some $150,000 over the last five years. In that capacity, I was responsible for conceptualizing and implementing Wikipedia Takes Manila, one of the largest Wikipedia 10 celebrations and the progenitor of our GLAM program (something that we're now well-regarded for), and I have done significant community-facing work for the recently-concluded Philippine Cultural Heritage Mapping Project (CHMP). On-wiki, I am one of the founding members of WikiProject Post-hardcore, and within WikiProject Philippines I established our copyright task force and personally organized a number of meetups, including the tenth anniversary of the Tagalog Wikipedia in December 2013. I also built the Tagalog Wiktionary, largely single-handedly.

Beyond Wikimedia, I have organized two debate tournaments with over 150 students from some twenty different schools in Metro Manila participating, and an East Asian cultural fair at the Ateneo de Manila University. I am also the administrator of the Philippine Eurovision Group, the Philippines' only group for fans of the Eurovision Song Contest, with some 100 members. --Sky Harbor (talk) 02:09, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
For 25 years I have been Team Leader or Senior Expert on a range of development aid projects funded by the European Union in the former Soviet Union. Eg. from 1993 to 1997 I led two projects with a total expenditure of €6mn. setting up from scratch a network of 40 enterprise support agencies in the regions of the Russian Federation. At the last count 25 of these were still flourishing which by the standards of such projects is a very successful outcome. Most recently I have been working on the INOGATE project which seeks to coordinate energy policies of the EU and the NIS, and the Eastern Partnership Youth Regional Unit, which coordinates youth policy between the EU and its immediate Eastern neighbours. In the 1980s I was an elected political leader of the London Borough of Enfield, determining priorities for strategy and expenditure on an annual budget of about ₤1000mn, with a staff of around 10,000. Subsequently I was a non-executive director of Enfield Primary Care NHS Trust, a National Health Service Trust with a budget of about ₤400mn, where I was chair of the Audit Committee supervising expenditure and performance. Tougher than all of these in a way was when I ran my own business (clothing manufacture) in the 1970s, employing 150 people and manufacturing in the UK and in Sri Lanka- I sold the business in the 1980s. I was also for many years a lay governor of Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication. On a smaller scale, I organize every year an international music festival at Levoca, Slovakia. --Smerus (talk) 19:58, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
Pine Everything is well explained in our users and technically you can check through our presentations you’ll find everything. . Francis Kaswahili talk, 11:42, 04 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
  • research: I am currently a PhD student in Computer Science at the University of Trento, Italy. My background (M.Sc.) is in Physics. I have published some papers at conferences. The only thing that I want to point out is that I was able to do so in areas as diverse as Physics (my M.Sc. thesis work), cultural heritage management (in the EAGLE confenrece, see the proceedings, documenting a project that I have participated in as a volunteer with Wikimedia Italia), neocartography (a work about the possibility to use OpenStreetMap for disaster prevention, to appear at the FOSS4G Europe conference).
  • project management/staff: my experience in this area comes from my experience within Wikimedia Italia. I have become a memeber of the board in 2010, and I have been appointed Program Coordinator. In this capacity I followed (with the rest of the board) all the projects of the organisation, from 2010 to 2014 the budget of the organisation has been comprised between 150,000 and 300,000 €. In this position I have participated with the rest of the board in the hiring of initial members of the staff of Wikimedia Italia.
  • funds: Within Wikimedia Italia I have matured a direct experience in requesting and managing grants for example for the Archeowiki Project, a project with a budget of 110.000 € where Wikimedia Italia was the main proponent (out of 5 partners) and that has been co-financed by Fondazione Cariplo. In 2012-2013 while I was Vice-President Wikimedia Italia obtained a grant to organize the Wikimedia Conference 2013 in Milan.
  • coding: as a PhD student in Computer Science coding is part of my job. I have contributed or created several small free software projects (see my repos on GitHub), although I never participated in large scale projects.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
  • Research: I have been my employer's representative to comment on Namibia's Communications Bill. I made it to the front page of Namibia's largest newspaper with my analysis, although the National Council thanked me for 'my lecture' and passed the bill unamended.
  • Design and staff: I was the lead developer of our School's Bachelor (Honours) degrees that have been taught from 2003. The B.IT Hons in Computer Networking was under my sole responsibility, including the hiring of staff to actually teach this academic degree. We haven't had one unemployed graduate of this program ever. We bid farewell to a number of unproductive staff members in this process, and we retained the ones that delivered. That's of course not available online, for obvious legal reasons.
  • Code and deploy: The Bilateral [Namibia-South Africa] Commission on Science and Technology co-opted me in 2010. Due to inactivity of other members of this commission, much of Namibia's ICT development policy is actually my brainchild. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is another matter entirely. Again, there's no link, as such elaborations are strictly confidential, sorry.
  • Fund: I have only limited experience in obtaining funds. I wrote a few grant proposals and obtained some money in return, but none of that was on the magnitude as handled by the WMF. WMF has granted me some money, a source that unfortunately is going to dry up should I be elected, but we also secured funding in the range of 20,000-50,000 US$ from UNESCO, Telecom Namibia, Namibian Government, and others.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
To be honest, I’m not sure how relevant this question is -- Trustees do not themselves project-manage things at the WMF (nor do we oversee technical development or research), and the scope of our budgets and operations is larger than most projects.

That said, I’ve run many projects in and out of Wikimedia, including working on several Wikimanias (co-organizer in 2006, scholarships lead in 2007, program committee and bid jury several other years) and running WikiSym 2010 (a 150 person academic conference held just before Wikimania, in Gdansk, Poland). In my day job, for the last 9 years I’ve worked with colleagues across the largest academic library system in the world, which provides a rich but complex environment for getting projects done. I spend an annual book & journal budget running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (and participate in the decision process for a budget of several million), and I have run many events, programs, and other ongoing work. In my spare time, I wrote a 500pp book on Wikipedia, organizing three co-authors, acting as primary publisher contact, organizing reviewers, etc. I have also, of course, served on the WMF Board for 4 years, overseeing a $55M+ organization.

Though you didn’t specifically ask this: I am involved in and deeply familiar with the Wikimedia research community and current Wikimedia research, have done some research myself, and have supported the research community in various ways (as a reviewer, working with WikiSym, etc.). And though I’m not a developer, I do try to keep up with the Wikimedia tech community as well (via wikitech, announcements, RfCs, etc.). I also work with computer scientists and CS information in my work.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
  • Wikidata: wrote the proposal, gathered and integrated input into it, secured the donations (both initially and subsequently, amounting in about 2M USD), hired the team, set up the team, and lead the development and deployment.
  • Deputy project coordinator for the EU research projects ACTIVE (12M EUR) and RENDER (4M EUR), and participated in other research projects; co-wrote the proposal for RENDER and other projects.
  • As a researcher: more than a hundred publications with more than 3000 citations. Many of them involve wikis.
  • Software developer for more than a quarter of a century and Open Source contributor for two decades. I wrote the first validating XML parser for Ada95 (duly forgotten), co-developed Semantic MediaWiki (widely used), and others.
  • Member of the Steering Committee of OSDA.
  • Organizing and Program Committee member of several scientific conferences (such as WWW, ESWC, AAAI, etc.) and also the research track of Wikimania 2008 in the library of Alexandria
  • I am currently working on the Google Knowedge Graph, the largest knowledge base in the world.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
In real life, I am a finance professional. Currently I am working as Head of Mortgage Finance department in my company. Setting up this department was also my responsibility and I commissioned market research for it, written the Product Program Guideline, structured the department, supervised recruitment of marketing, technical & legal personnel and formally launched the products. At present, I am overseeing the day to day functioning of the department and, at the same time, evaluating the implementation phase. Earlier, I worked as a credit analyst; analyzed loads of credit proposals and so far approved loan amount of more than BDT 2500 million (equivalent to USD 32 million).

I also have some research experience. Notably, I conducted a research to explain the unrest of Bangladesh foreign exchange market after the country adopted floating exchange rate system. My article on this was published on our Business Faculty Magazine. I am one of the most active members of Bangladeshi Wikimedia community and deeply involved with the movement. Since 2008, I have been dedicating a significant amount of my time for community building, outreach, content generation etc. I regularly participate in organizing most of the Wikimedia events in Bangladesh. I am a founder member & Treasurer of Wikimedia Bangladesh chapter. I wrote most of the Chapter bylaws. Getting the chapter registered was a cumbersome, time consuming and bureaucratic process as non-profit societies require clearance from National Security Intelligence (NSI) before getting registered. I lead the effort of getting our chapter registered and it took us more than 2 years to get the clearance & registration. This success story was published on Wikipedia Signpost at that time. I was also a member of FDC Advisory Group and took part in formulating FDC framework for WMF. I am a member of WMF’s Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) for last 3 years & served as its Vice-Chair for 2 terms. I am one of the FDC members who advocated for objective & volunteer focused approach and contributed to the current APG system.

I have some basic knowledge of QBaisc, Visual Basic & MySQL but I am not in touch with these programming languages for a long time.
I have worked in Education department in Andhra Pradesh for around 23 years, in which I have performed the duties as a head of institution at Primary, Upper Primary and secondary level schools. I had worked as the head of secondary school for 8 years. I have experience of administration in the schools. As a research part, the article writing, contribution in different projects in Telugu and Urdu Wikipedias shows my research and content creation. Apart, my recent activities engaged in All India Radio Urdu services New Delhi discussion program RUBAROO, and in Urdu Department of Sri Sankaracharya Sanskkrit University in Kyilandy Kerala, and interviews in the media explicitly shows my focus on Wikipedia programs. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 11:46, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
With respect to project management I played an important role bringing back together the En and De communities of a travel wiki, which is now our sister site en:w:Wikivoyage.

I was a founding member of WikiProject Med Foundation. This organization has supported a number of other health organizations and universities with their efforts on Wikipedia. This has included the en:w:Cochrane Collaboration’s and en:w:World Health Organization’s hiring of a Wikipedian in Residences and the UCSF's creation of a 4th year elective for medical students which involved editing Wikipedia.

I began the Medical Translation Task Force in Collaboration with en:w:Translators Without Borders back in 2012 which coordinates the efforts of thousands of translators with those of Wikipedians in local languages. Since it began the efforts have translated more than 4 million words of text and has received small amounts of funding from the Indigo Foundation.

Another project in which I have been involved since 2012 is the development of a "copy and paste detection bot" based on a donation of the API of Turnitin. It initially began by running on medical articles and is now running on all of En W [2] with expansion to other languages being worked on. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:10, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
I don't have a background in software development and am pleased that WMF now has an Executive Director who does. I do have a background in business, helping to keep a family owned retail store running for three decades — which involves hiring, firing, prioritizing, budgeting, and periodic evaluation of what works and what does not work. These are the skills one should wish to see in someone performing oversight of an organization raising and expending funds. I believe the logic of cost/benefit analysis flowing from business background would be a boon to an organization which at times seems to have more money than sense. I have played an oversight role before as a director of the Downtown Corvallis Association previously, although that has been 20 years ago now and involved an organization considerably smaller than the $50 million-plus WMF. Carrite (talk) 22:24, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
no response yet.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
I've more than a dozen years of teaching experience. Also I was the Programme Officer at Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore between 2013-14. During this time I was part of the Christ University Wikipedia Education Program besides several other workshops. I am active on Hindi, Urdu and English Wikipedia besides Wikimedia Commons. I also study other communities and I've written several blogs in this context for WMF.
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
I worked as a product owner in a global investment bank for five years - sadly nothing non-proprietary that I can show for it. In 2011 I founded a creative agency, which produces many varied projects, both self initiated and for major brand clients, including managing a 5 story building and launching an international event franchise. I was conference director for Wikimania 2014, which was the largest and most complex event this community has done.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear Pine,

thank you for your question. I was twice a finalist of the Dutch national Mathematical Olympiad and have Bachelors in Medicine and Biochemistry. During my medical internships I presented a poster at the national cardiology convention [3] and currently participate in the CLEFED studie of children with schisis. I am an instructor of taskforce QRS, a volunteer resuscitation group of 200 students at 3 universities, where I have coordinated groups of instructors. Together we have trained over 10.000 people in basic life support, have set up a course for medical students recognised by the university, and have introduced a proposal to adopt basic life support in the highschool curriculum, which is currently under review by parliament (video training an army colonel, during the national resuscitation convention). On the Dutch Wikipedia I co-founded the NGC-project, which wrote 7800 articles on NGC galaxies, co-founded the Did You Know project, in which over 80 editors wrote and checked nearly 2000 facts, and started the Medical discussion page. I have started projects on 15 Wikipedias to add images by using Wikidata. Together with Swedish editor LSJ I have created the image suggestion project on the Dutch and Italian Wikipedia. In total these projects have added images to over 30.000 Wikipedia articles and added about 10% of all images on Wikidata. On the English Wikipedia I coordinate the translators list. I am a member of the Wikiversity Journal of Medicine editorial board. Assisted at several dozen wikimeets. Together with editor Romaine I set up and coordinated three starter courses at Maastricht University, worked on GLAM cooperations and organised the Dutch 2014 Wiknic. I am currently coordinating the effort to have an online Wikimedia volunteer knighted.

I hope this answers your question. Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 22:01, 15 May 2015 (UTC)


Board composition[edit]

Question.svg

Do you think it would be good to reduce the number of appointed positions on the board and replace one or more of them with an additional community elected member or a member elected by user groups (which currently do not have the right to vote for affiliate-appointed board seats)? --Pine 22:36, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
I do not think so because this will significantly harm the stability of Wikimedia Foundation. However, I approve creating the Wikipedia Council which is a council constituted by all administrators of all versions of Wikipedia... Such action will help making consensus regarding the policy and the regulation of Wikipedia and will help the Board give more interest to important matters like funding... Such action could be also done for Wiktionary, Wikivoyage, Wikisource, Wikibooks... --Csisc (talk) 09:44, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
Pine, Your questions are always the tricky ones, Here I would like to say both No and Yes. No, for reducing the number of positions, when foundation and Chapters expands the community itself will expand. We need more number of seats on Wikimedia board as the chapters, groups and communities are expanding day-by-day and about the community, we should increase one or two seats to give opportunity to more community members and to make Wikimedia Board more diverse. Like chapters, Yes the user groups should have an elected seat on the board for the decision making within them or have the right to vote for affiliate-appointed board seats.

But before this informal discussion here, we need to know, What are the problems within it? , What will be the outcome from this? and Is there any other way, how Board diversity will be maintained? . One could answer this questions properly after being elected as a board member.

I supports Csisc's proposal, and i think it's need to be done within the chapters as Chapters plays the important rule in a community or specifically Council of Administrators is similar as Ombudsman.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 10:58, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
Maybe. I definitely see there may be a problem of user groups not having a say in affiliate-appointed seats. However, currently, the Board composition system relies on the community seats covered through open elections and through chapter appointments. Quite naturally, chapter activists tend to also be elected in open elections. I'm not sure if this is entirely a good or a bad thing (although, as a person without chapter board experience, I think there is an additional value in Board members, who are engaged Wikimedians, but not necessarily chapter activists - just for the variety of perceptions). The appointed positions are sort of a way to supplement the Board with some variety and expertise it otherwise lacks. Diversity has always been an issue (suffice to say, almost never a member outside of Northern America/Western Europe gets elected), and some embedded process to address it is useful. But to reply directly to your question: I don't think that user groups should have a separate one seat reserved, I think they should rather be included in the affiliate-appointed seats poll, while I also believe that one more directly elected member (at a loss of an appointed one) could possibly be a good solution. Pundit (talk) 08:37, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
I think the number of community elected members should be more than the appointed members . I believe we should give more voice to the community and the User groups .
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
Yes and no. I have always believed in the community having adequate representation in the Board, and in fact the five Board seats allocated for that purpose (remember, affiliates are part of the community too) already does that. I do think though that as we onboard more affiliates, particularly user groups, it would make sense for user groups to have a stronger say in how affiliates should select their Board seats, including the possibility of allocating one seat for user groups, and I think this is a discussion that we ought to have when affiliate Board seat elections come around in 2016. That being said, I support an expanding Board, and if we are to consider bringing in more community seats, I would prefer making another seat for community folks rather than taking one away from the allocation for appointed Board members, since after all we're bringing them on board as a way to tap into their wide expertise to help run the Foundation better. However, before we can even have a discussion on Board seat allocation, we need to have a serious discussion first on Board composition first. We can no longer afford to have more of the same: what good is more seats or a reallocation of seats if the people who compose the Board virtually come from the developed world, for example? Short of suggesting diversity quotas (a terrible idea since I believe we need to be able to stand on our own and we shouldn't have to rely on the Foundation's good graces to get representation), we need to have a discussion on how to address this appalling lack of diversity before we go around discussing Board seats. It's a good thing the Board has recognized it by calling for those candidates to run, but it's not enough, and we have to do more before we have this discussion. --Sky Harbor (talk) 01:34, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
I will tell you when I get there! I need to assess the way the Board operates before I make recommendations on its composition and procedures. --Smerus (talk) 19:58, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
First of all am a follower of the current system of electing Bodies to the WMF that is more democratically, Right and fair, my dear Pine there is a need of escalating the representatives lather than to reduce it, my points on this I will bring a proposal to the WMF authority for changing the system of making appointment to the founders of Wikimedia and Wikipedia especially to Jimmy Wales and his colleges for announcing them as life Board members. This is to recognize their contribution and to give an opportunity of expanding the ratio of users representation to WMF. Francis Kaswahili talk, 11:14, 05 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
In all honesty, I do not recall having discussed or having seen petitions from User Groups to participate in board seat elections, but I may have missed these discussions (if so, please point those out). That said, it would seem a little weird to me to discuss such a thing without an input from the interested people, i.e. user groups. On the other hand if such a request comes in I think it should be answered positively, with a formula that should be discussed (I have no particular preference at the moment). As other candidates have already pointed out, though, I think that there are also other issues: (1) all seats, with the exception of the founder seat, should have a term known in advance and there should be a maximum serving period or a maximum number of re-elections. These mechanisms are part of many election systems to ensure change and diversity (2) I think introducing quotas should be discussed. I am not talking necessarily of gender-based quotas but, for example, of location-based quotas or using another suitable criterion. I know I am possibly one of the least diverse candidate in this election from many points of view, nevertheless I do recognize that the lack of diversity in the board is a problem and I am open to discuss concrete solutions for this. Quotas is the first solution that comes to my mind, but of course there may be other possibilities. If we agree that the lack of diversity is a problem then we should intervene because I do not believe that this situation with magically solve itself otherwise.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
If Chapters have a quota of seats on the Board then so should user groups. Taking a bit of a broader perspective on the composition of the Board, I am uncomfortable with a Board that appoints 2/5 of their members. This has the danger of creating political alliances just to keep the seat. If it is really the case that the editing community does not feature specialists in accounting or law I would open up the Board elections to non-editors rather than having almost half of the Board appointed. This is of course not to say that current appointed members are not up to the challenge, just that there is a danger of covering one another's back in order to keep the privileges that such position entails.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I think the number of community elected members and appointed members should be equal. I am in favour of increasing the number of community elected seats. User groups should also have a proportional say in the affiliated selected seats, definitely. And perhaps we could take a look at the Founder seat as well while we are at it. There are multiple options that can be considered.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
No. But I would support expanding the Board to add additional community-elected seats. I also support adding user groups to the selection process for affiliate-selected seats, and I would like to explore ideas about having additional community-based councils that could work on various issues. Having a mix of appointed and elected seats for the Board has, I think, worked well, enabling us to both draw on our community's expertise and also bring in a wide range of outside perspectives and skills. And once on the Board, each member has the same responsibility to the WMF; there is not a difference in trustee roles and concerns, either legally or in practice, that comes from how people are placed on the Board.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
I am not a friend of increasing the number of total seats on the Board (but not against bringing in observers or similar when needed). With ten members, the Board is surely large enough. I think that some seats should remain being appointed in order to ensure a diversity in skills and representation. The current voting mechanism would not guarantee either, so if we would blindly expand the current voting mechanism to all seats we would almost certainly lose the current diversity.

Furthermore, since the Board does not work like a parliament but rather through consensus, we don’t have the situation that the Board members elected by the communities are struggling against the others. Also, the appointed members are appointed by the Board. I would like to know what motivates the question: what are the problems that are identified with the number of elected Board members, and how would a change in these numbers resolve these problems?

Regarding user groups and thematic organizations, they should, once sufficiently established and if they express that wish, be part of a new formula for the composition of the Board.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
I would like to see more community elected seats as well as more diversity on the board. Increasing the community elected positions can be done either by reducing the number of appointed positions or by increasing the number of members on the board. However, it is much more difficult to increase true diversity on the board. So, we should give focus on that crucial matter as well given the fact that both appointments and community elections have not done well in terms of increasing diversity in the past. User groups, on the other hand, should be allowed to vote for affiliate-appointed board seats.
It should be based on the consensus of the Board, Chapters and the communities. I recommend that the expertise from the communities shall be given priority. Because the entire process of Wikipedia or Wikimedia and their projects are run by the communities. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 21:50, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
As previously stated the Wikipedia community is composed of large numbers of experts. I would be supportive of increasing the number of seats that are elected by the community. During this election we have a large number of excellent candidates to chose from. I would support more elected from the general community, rather than specifically from user groups. User groups and thorgs should get a say in the chapter nominated seats IMO. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:10, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
I am in favor of complete democratic control of the WMF Board by the international Wikipedia volunteer community. I happen to believe that the first step along this path should be elimination of seats specifically assigned to user groups, putting these seats up to community scrutiny and voting in the same manner as the current three community seats. I would also be in favor of reduction leading to eventual elimination of all appointed seats. WMF should not be some external entity, chosen on high to lord it over the volunteer community — the foundation is merely a legal manifestation of the community itself. Those who write the encyclopedia, those who protect the encyclopedia from vandalism, those who train new volunteers in the Wiki way, those who help to improve the quality and content of the encyclopedia are the "shareholders" of this project. We shareholders need to step up and demand democratic control of the "ownership" structure. This will not happen overnight, it is an evolutionary process. The fact that so many candidates are taking a direct interest in this process is a very positive sign moving forward. We hardcore volunteers are not "power users" or pawns of a faceless bureaucracy — we are Wikipedia. Democracy is a good thing, not a bad thing, as some have intimated. Carrite (talk) 03:13, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
Our community is full of talented people, as shown by the current pool of candidates for WMF elections. We should certainly include community members in the pool of potential candidates for appointments, as we have started to do this year. However we also have systemic bias in who participates on the projects: so to attract similar levels of expertise from regions where we do not yet have large communities, we need to be able to recruit Trustees who are not active editors. This means either our current appointee model, or changing how we nominate and identify candidates for elections. I think we should add at least one elected seat: shifting to 3 [s]elected trustees each year (or 2 each year for 3-year terms). And to get a wider range of perspectives, we should make more active use of visitors and observers. The Board has started to invite staff to sit in on more Board meetings, and we should do the same for community members.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
I think reduction in numbers is not a good option. But I think there is a need for geographic orientation - say representation from South Asia, Africa, Oceania, etc.
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
I don't have a strong opinion on this. It seems good that the board has a mix of community representation and co-option of relevant skills. I don't think that affiliates should specifically be entitled to board representation.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear Pine,

thank you for your question. I support increasing the number of seats elected by the community, and support that user groups have a vote in the chapter nominated seats. The main argument for having appointed members is expertise they bring into the board. I support electing experts as "non-voting" board members. Advise from experts is vital, but the final decisions should be in the hands of Wikimedians. This method lets us appoint more community members to the board, giving more community feedback and interaction, appoint more chapter/user group members to the board, giving more chapter feedback, and at the same time appoint more experts to the board, while keeping the number of voting board members the same.

I hope this answers your question. Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 22:31, 15 May 2015 (UTC)


Time dedication[edit]

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Time: The WMF BoT's work needs a lot of time. It includes at least four 3-day in-person meetings, with additional travel time, for some geographic regions travel can mean almost 24-hours travel every trip. This means that possibly you will need at least 15 days at least for travel and in-person meetings. Adding to this there are telephone conferences, mailing-lists, votings that need to be kept in time. And if possible, attending additional community events. Are you sure you have the free time, or can get time off work / study for all these works? --Wing (talk) 08:50, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
If someone had nominate himself for WMF Board Elections, he knows that he would have many responsibilities if elected and that he would be obliged to travel and meet some people... I think personally that I have time to do all this because I had made a programme that would be applied when elected. So, I will not lose much time in searching for what I will do as the programme is ready and as the most of my solutions are online... As a B.Sc. Student, I will be working full time for the WMF Board in Summer and two days per week in working terms... So, I can deal with problems and solve them in time and study as it should be. --Csisc (talk) 09:13, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
I am a student, long journey could affect my education. BoT's is a responsible position So, we have to find time to serve well. Difference in timezone will also help me working in off time, as IST is 5 hours and 30 minutes ahead of UTC. I think it's not a matter of issue for me and my University will always allow me to participate for such important things Face-smile.svg.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 19:38, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
I do have experience of board participation from other organizations, a well as from the FDC (which has been really time consuming; suffice to say that apart from 2 three/four-day meetings, we always have had to read through tons of applications, conducted online discussions, etc., totaling to hundreds of hours of work per round). Also, as I am a tenured scholar on a research-dominant position, I can decide about my time commitments pretty flexibly. I can responsibly say that I have the required bandwidth. Pundit (talk) 09:17, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
I am currently in the process of joining a second startup in Singapore as its Chief Advocate, sort of like a chief community officer. Based on discussions I've had with the co-founders (which were held before I decided to run), this position allows me to work remotely, so I certainly can dedicate time to the Board without sacrificing my career. This won't be the first time I'd be managing my time to meet movement responsibilities: the Affiliations Committee is also time-consuming yet I'm able to find time to dispense my duties there. I intend to do the same should I be elected to the WMF Board. I have been known for working while traveling—those who were at Wikimania 2010 in Gdańsk probably remember that I was lugging around a very thick copy of Plato's The Republic which I had to read for class. In fact, I read that on the plane and stayed awake in the process. 15+ hours in a metal tube (which is normally how long it takes to get to San Francisco from Manila) gives me time to think and work on movement-wide issues, so I certainly look forward to dedicating my travel time to Board work—something that I've been doing for the last two years now at the AffCom—instead of sleeping on the plane. --Sky Harbor (talk) 01:24, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
I am now semi-retired, working only on short-term projects for part of the year, and am thus very confident that I can make the necessary time commitments. --Smerus (talk) 20:00, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
no response yet.
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
Yes, as pundit said the time commitment for the FDC is equally demanding.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
Indeed, I would be one of those candidates that spend 36 hours to get to San Francisco. My work contract allows for 10% outside liaison per academic year. Consultancies and board memberships are specifically encouraged, and I currently have no active consultancies. Then there are the perks of being an academic, like doing your own scheduling and having plenty of recess time. In short, I foresee no problem at all meeting the time requirements of being a Board member.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
The time commitment is considerable, especially if you do not live in the United States. I think the question underestimates it, even. :-) The Board has been trying to reduce it but it still has ways to go. But yes, I've been able to make the time and would continue to do so.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
I have been making the time and anticipate being able to continue doing so; my employer (both current and future) is extremely supportive of my Wikimedia involvement. Related to this issue, the Board is currently actively working to cut down on the time required, both in travel and discussion; we are moving at least one of the meetings entirely online and have shrunk the rest to be two days. We are also trying hard to be efficient in discussions. (We should all try to be efficient and respectful of each other's time in our meta-discussions: one email that takes 100 people on a mailing list 5 minutes to read adds up to 8 hours of person-time, an entire workday that could be spent editing!)
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
Ting, thanks for this very important question, and I can hear your experience when asking it.

I have a full-time job and a small baby. I have talked to my wife, who is also a Wikipedian, and to people at my work, and fortunately both are very supportive of Wikimedia and the possible time commitment. My job is fairly flexible. I have discussed this exact question with several previous Board members and people working for Wikimedia, in order to make an honest assessment whether the expected time dedication is possible for me, and I have decided that it is and to be a candidate.

I have been a Wikimedian longer than any other candidate, and have dedicated a lot of time to Wikimedia before. I have attended all but two Wikimanias.

I live in San Francisco, and work literally three blocks away from the Foundation offices, which will make some of the trips for the meetings rather short.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
Yes, I have enough time to commit for the BoT role. I am an active participant of Bangladeshi Wikimedia community, a founder member & Treasurer of Wikimedia Bangladesh chapter and serving in the Funds Dissemination Committee for last 3 years. I regularly take part in organizing the community events in Bangladesh, play my role in the Wikimedia Bangladesh executive committee with responsibility and at the same time, work for the Funds Dissemination Committee with full commitment. Working for the Wikimedia movement has become a part of my life. --Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (talk) 09:21, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
I am a voluntarily retired academician, now a visiting faculty and academic director (part time) by visiting at my own convenient time. As a candidate for this election, I have full comprehension about the meetings and their schedules. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 21:31, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
About a year ago I cut back on work as an ER physician to half time to allow more time to improve Wikipedia. Additionally I am my department's head which means that I make the schedule giving me the flexibility to attend meeting as required. As I have family in San Francisco I additionally visit the city fairly frequently which means that I would not need funding to attend in person meeting. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:10, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
My company (a small shoe store) schedules upon a 3-day workweek for about 48 weeks of the year and I control the schedule, assuring that I can get time off as needed and that I have significant free time to dedicate to WP each week. In addition, I live on the west coast of the USA, the same geographic region as WMF's offices, so I'm no more than a 10 hour drive away, or a very short flight. Time is absolutely not a problem in my case. Carrite (talk) 13:31, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
A good question. I do have time, especially since I sleep well on planes. However the Board can be more effective with much shorter meetings, and this will also let us recruit Trustees whos agendas would not otherwise let them join. I have pushed to reduce the travel time (and jet fuel) involved in being a Trustee: we are down to only 3 in-person meetings this year, two of them 1-2 days long, plus monthly hour-long meetings online.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
It depends on the kind of engagement that WMF likes from Board Members. If the engagement is restricted to just primarily to board meeting and looking into addressing a few of the pressing issues, then its more of an extended volunteer activity. Else, the members have to work almost like full-time employees. Depending on the need, I am ready to take the responsibility.
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
I run my own business. I certainly have the flexibility to fulfil all the time requirements of the role.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
I understand the time commitment of the board. I work on Wikimedia content on a daily basis and have the time. My university encourages participation in Wikimedia.



Conflict of Interest disclosure[edit]

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May I ask you kindly to disclose any possible conflict of interest, especially in relation to involvement in government agencies by you or your close sprouse please?--Wing (talk) 08:49, 5 May 2015 (UTC)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
I am not affiliated to any organization excepting Wikimedia Tunisie. So, Conflict of Interest are less likely to happen for my situation. --Csisc (talk) 09:13, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
I am not involved with any government agency. I am just a member of Wikimedia India chapter and a coordinator to CIS for Odia Wikipedia.
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
I'll write more broadly on possible COIs. I am not and I have never been a board member in a Wikimedia chapter. I am an advisory board member for Copernicus Science Center (a public non-profit institution), as well as English Teaching program of Nida Foundation (the program is oriented at improving language skills of teachers in rural areas in Poland; I volunteered my skills to the program, and later was invited to join the advisory board). In terms of government agencies, I am an appointed adviser to the Minister of Science (as a member of Scientific Policy Committee) in Poland. Polish Academy of Sciences also elected me as a member to the Academy of Young Scholars, but I don't think it should even count as government agency, as the process is entirely merit-based. Pundit (talk) 09:22, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
My only significant conflict of interest is with Wikimedia Philippines, where I sit on the Board of Trustees. Of course, should I be elected, I intend to resign from all WMPH offices immediately. We're holding elections this June, so there will be ample time to find a replacement. Beyond that, I have no other conflicts of interest. However, should they come up (particularly with my future employer, where they may, for example, want to partner with the Foundation to roll out hackathons in Southeast Asia), I will recuse myself accordingly. --Sky Harbor (talk) 10:38, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
There are no conflict of interest issues involved here, either as regards myself or my spouse. --Smerus (talk) 20:02, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
Wing (talk , Actually to me and being honest, am very close with my government Officers and providing of support which makes me, planning a lot and doing a lot. The different with other users may be it could be procedure of implementing some issues, in Tanzania you are not allowed to run or gathering groups of more than ten people for more than a month without being Legally and at the time of officiate you must explain the reason why you run organization without being registered and this is the reason of registering the Wikimedia Tanzania waiting for being approved by the WMF as a Chapter.Francis Kaswahili talk,01:02, 05 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
You can read an extensive description of my COI disclosure in my userpage.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
  1. I am close to Wikimedia South Africa. Not a member, but close in the sense that I personally know four of the five Board members and endorsed some of their projects. They sponsored me to attend WikiIndaba.
  2. I have twice received grant money from the WMF (first time, second time), and I am still sitting on some WMF money. One report is not yet approved, the second one is not yet due. I am aware that I cannot receive such money while I am an elected Board member.
  3. I have received a scholarship to attend Wikimania 2015. I am sure there will be a possibility to allocate this scholarship to someone else should I be elected.
  4. I am researching and publishing on the relationship of Indigenous Knowledge and Wikipedia. I am aware that I may not use confidential information for my research that I gained as Board member.
  5. There is still a pending appointment to the Advisory Board of the Namibian Ministry of Higher Education. This is probably going nowhere, but should I be appointed I don't see an immediate danger to Board duties.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I don't work for any government agency and neither does my spouse. We were both involved with Wikimedia affiliate boards in the past, and have asked past grants and scholarships (for example, to attend Wikimania) from the WMF. My spouse has not asked for any grants or scholarships since I joined the Board. I have signed the Conflict of Interest form when I joined the Board detailing this, and updated it annually, and recused myself on one instance from a Board decision (related to the affiliate recognition of a group in which my partner was involved). Neither we nor our families have any business relationship with the WMF. Right before joining the Board two years ago I was also a member of the Affiliations Committee and the IEG committee, but resigned from them before entering the Board.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
I do not have any government ties, nor do I work with any organizations that provide services to or contract with the WMF. I do work for university libraries (currently UC Davis, soon to be MIT) and am involved in professional library organizations. My professional work thus often complements my Wikimedia work by providing me venues to speak about Wikimedia and open knowledge, as well as time to pursue Board and outreach work, but this doesn't provide a conflict of interest situation. I am not involved formally in any Wikimedia affiliates, nor have I ever been. As a side note, all trustees when they are appointed (and annually thereafter) sign a conflict of interest form which gets reviewed by WMF legal; I have done this.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
I work as an ontologist on the Google Knowledge Graph. Whereas there might be potential for Conflicts of Interests between Wikimedia and Google, these do not concern my actual position at Google.

For my candidacy for the Board of Trustees, I do not regard myself as the representative of Google. I have been a Wikimedian much longer than I have been a Googler, and almost all of my 20% time within Google has been devoted to projects benefitting the Wikimedia communities. Google has a strict policy regarding Conflict of Interests, and so does the Handbook for the Trustees.

Besides that, I am a member of the steering committee of the Open Semantic Data Association, have previously worked for Wikimedia Deutschland, me and my wife have been recipients of awards and grants from Wikimedia, and have from 2004-2012 received most of my income through research grants awarded by the European Union research framework programme. Besides the latter, I do not have any other affiliations with government organizations in the present or the past.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
I am not involved with any government agency. I am an executive committee member & Treasurer of Wikimedia Bangladesh chapter. Neither I nor any of my family members have any business relationship with WMF. --Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (talk) 09:33, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
I am a voluntarily retired academician and now a freelancer. If I become the part of WMF, it may be easy for me to convince and invite the government agencies to become the part of few Wikimedia projects. Even if I am not elected for the WMF body, I ask the WMF to authorize me to have contacts and negotiations with the government and quasi government agencies for their involvement with Wikimedia movement in India. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 07:43, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
As an ER physician I am funded by the Canadian government. Additionally I have received some travel expenses from the United States government for a half week of lecture / Wikipedia editing sessions I gave at the National Institute of Health a number of years ago. I am also providing some ongoing guidance to the NIH and w:en:AHRQ with respect to how they can best interact with Wikipedia. I have received some travel expenses from the Cochrane Collaboration to speak at their conferences about Wikipedia and Medicine. I do not; however, accept speaker fees. I am on the board of Wiki Project Med Foundation, Faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and on the board of the Doctors of BC Section of Emergency Medicine. I have never received any funding from the pharmaceutical industry. I am aware that if elected I will need to step down from the board of Wiki Project Med Foundation. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:10, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
I am not a member of any Wikipedia user group's board of directors — which is the really big potential conflict of interest that voters should be looking for in this particular election. I am not affiliated with any governmental organization in any way, nor an elected officer of any political party, nor likely to be subject to any potential conflict of interest through a private company or NGO. In real life I am co-owner of a shoe store, which seems pretty far afield from COI concerns here. Carrite (talk) 13:26, 5 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
I have no position with any government agencies, have never had a position with a Wikimedia Chapter. I don't work with any organizations that provide services to or receive services from the WMF. I head the technical advisory committee of the Digital Public Library of America, a non-profit funded by grants, and advise Boundless, a Boston company that develops freely-licensed textbooks. I own WikiMoney.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
I am not having any government association.
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
I consult on community strategy for organisations, most recently for a major UK political party. This typically involves explaining how they can improve their community dynamics, largely based on my experiences with Wikimedia. I don't believe it will negatively affect my performance on the board; on the contrary, it is active professional experience solving comparable community issues.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear Wing,

thank you for your question. I have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

I hope this answers your question. Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 22:50, 15 May 2015 (UTC)


Child Protection[edit]

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WMF's Child Protection policy, or relative lack thereof, has been a matter of some debate and controversy. How significant of an issue do you believe Child Protection to be? Is there anything more that WMF can or should be doing with respect to the protection of minors from online sexual predators? What should be the formal process for filing a Child Protection case? Once initiated how should a Child Protection case be handled by WMF? Carrite (talk) 17:22, 5 May 2015 (UTC) (candidate)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
The issue of the Child Protection is very important for me because the wikis can involve some data that are not adapted to children like works about gender and religion... Some references could be very tough to understand for children and can let them develop falsified ideas... That is why the issue had been raised in WikiArabia 2015 that has been held in Monastir. In fact, Algerian Users had proposed that WMF Board adopts WikiKids. This project is not currently regulated by WMF... We have several independent projects that are of course not very developed... We have Vikidia that is written in five languages, WikiKids in Dutch, School-Wikipedia in English, Wikimini in French... and all of the projects are led by independent organizations. I think that supporting this idea would be efficient in solving such matters. If elected, I will contact each of the organizations leading these projects and talk with them in order to merge all works in a unique and more efficient project led by Wikimedia Foundation. --Csisc (talk) 09:11, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
I think Child protection is a important topic for every Wikipedia. However, Wikipedia should have encyclopedic content, We can't refuse any content which is vulgar but informative. Sometime , we don't know that to which age group our reader belongs to?. I think, for any vulgar content page we should warn the reader, contradict to my statement it never gonna work. Conclusion : It has some issue which can't be fixed, we should plan a debate with WMF and community to get better answers.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 19:26, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
I think that Child Protection is definitely significant in principle. However, the issue has to be dealt by the WMF (and, in some cases, with possible local assistance of chapters), and not by the community - because of the legal gravity, but also because of the seriousness of the issue and the responsibility on anyone involved. It is my understanding that currently all cases are actually dealt with by the Legal Department of the WMF, who are really highly qualified (even if mainly in IP and copyright American law). I don't have any additional policy concept ready in my mind, but I believe that Wikimedia is not particularly unique in terms of the issue, which actually applies to all websites (and, possibly, to much larger extent to social networks and portals targeting minors specifically). If there are best practices to be copied, we may look into them, and our community itself is actually really good at brainstorming ideas. Pundit (talk) 06:07, 8 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
I personally feel that child protection is an important part of what the Foundation ought to be doing, but we must also take the time to reconcile it with the movement's aims of disseminating free knowledge; after all, we wouldn't want another repeat of what happened on Commons when Jimmy deleted supposedly pornographic images. Luckily for us, the Wikimedia projects are not known for harboring pedophiles who want to seduce little boys and girls, so our child protection efforts ought to focus on preventing that from happening. While we're doing a good job now, we can certainly do more. There is no one uniform child protection policy—the English Wikipedia's policy delegates this task to the Arbitration Committee, for example. At this point I believe we should empower stewards to directly handle child protection cases across all projects in coordination with the Wikimedia Foundation, giving them the authority to block users who may be out to exploit children. There should be a direct line of communication that potential victims of exploitation can report to, centralizing the receipt of child protection-related communication where currently this is disjointed. Finally, there should be one concrete child protection policy applicable Wikimedia-wide, building on the policies of projects that already have them, and the Board is in a position to make all of that happen. --Sky Harbor (talk) 01:13, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
Not sure I entirely understand where this query is coming from. Child protection is a web-wide issue. It doesn't seem to me that we should go ahead and forge our own policy in some way. Rather, we should seek to cooperate with other major forces on the web to ensure that everyone is aware of the issues involved and work towards developing guidelines that can be widely adopted. I would be happy even to see us taking a lead in this direction but I don't think it should be seen just as an internal Wiki issue. If we just look at it from a Wiki perspective, it could in fact prove to be highly divisive - one can imagine religious fundamentalists for example seeking to prohibit information about sexuality, vs. activists who think it should be more highly profiled. We should try to be 'neutral' as far as possible whilst respecting both our mission to make knowledge available and the standards of other major responsible web institutions. --Smerus (talk) 19:15, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
My Dear, Carrite (talk Child Protection has International policy which ratified by all states globally under International Labor Organization and even the process of processing cases refer to international conventions, Declarations and Treaties. My opinions on this are to insisted and setting regulation of refusal of an abusing article against the child. But remember that [[ http://www.unicef.org%7CUnicef]] is responsible with our Child. Francis Kaswahili talk, 01:07, 06 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
Such cases should be handled by the legal department at the Foundation. As DocJames (talk · contribs) said it would be too heavy to leave the burden of such cases on volunteers in any capacity.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
With a lot of socialising happening on the Internet, child protection is important for the Wikimedia movement. Comparing the existent child protection policy with best practices advocated elsewhere, there are several things missing: a dedicated person to report to, children's involvement in the the making of these policies, staff screening and training, and so on. The policy itself is hard to find for outsiders, for instance parents: Both w:Report abuse and w:Report child abuse are red links, also on meta. The Board has not endorsed the policy (or I could not easily find that declaration, which amounts to the same thing), contrary to what is considered good practice elsewhere. So yes, WMF should have a person, not a mailing list, to be contacted in case of a complaint. That person should take over all formal aspects and the hand-over to the relevant authorities, and they should also ensure that they can be easily contacted in case of a complaint, across all wikis.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
Yes, the proposed policy has been a matter of debate within members of the community. It is an important topic. In accordance with the terms of use, the WMF has an ongoing obligation to protect the sites and their users. In such cases, users must contact the Foundation’s Legal team. They will handle it professionally and deal with potential risks that volunteers should not have to shoulder.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
If you are asking about suspected cases of abuse or exploitation of minors by people on the wikis, or of people on the wikis, those cases are likely best handled by the legal and community teams at the WMF, supported by current volunteer reporting and dispute-resolution mechanisms. Note that illegal and harassing behavior, particular geared towards minors, also violates the current Terms of Use. For users who violate these terms or commit other egregious violations, we can ban them from participating in our sites. We are also of course required to, and do, follow reporting laws where they apply. Though I am open to input from those who work on such issues, I think the current ToS is both broad and specific enough to suffice as a global policy.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
Child protection is an important question that, like hostility towards women (Question 19) and stalking and threatening (Question 10). Such cases and accusations have to be treated appropriately. We do have policies and procedures for such cases in place, but if they are deemed to be insufficient or hard to use, we should investigate how to make it easier to report such cases.
I think we should not be burdening volunteers with the handling of such cases. Not only because often they might not be sufficiently trained to do so, but also because of requirements of timeliness and professionalism that we should not demand from volunteers. It is OK to let a Wikipedia article linger for a few months with an unfinished sentence, but in a possible case of child exploitation this must not be acceptable. Fortunately, this is how our processes are indeed setup.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
Child Protection Policy is very important. It should be more visible & consistent for all Wikimedia projects. The legal aspect of it should be dealt with by Wikimedia Foundation as they are equipped with an experienced legal department and legal matters are complex. At the same time, WMF may seek outside advice/help from other affiliated organizations or the community members as relevant laws in different parts of the world are not the same. Most importantly, all the Wikimedia organizations and communities should understand the policy the same way and should know what to do in issues relating to child protection. Wikimedia Foundation should make a coordinated effort to achieve it.
I suggest to discuss these issues with the social psychologists and the legal experts. The laws vary from country to country. The native communities should be enlightened about the law by the local chapters and WMF. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 08:01, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
Cases of concern, as they are of a legal nature, should be dealt with by paid legal staff at the WMF. While some members of arbcom are lawyers I do not believe requesting volunteers to take on this sort of work is reasonable. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:17, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
(Note that this is my question.) — Child protection is a very important issue and it is a job for San Francisco — it is not a matter to be foisted on the Arbitration Committee of English-WP, as it was in the past. There needs to be an easily locatable physical and email address for the filing of complaints, and it needs to be a matter handled directly by the WMF's office in San Francisco, by an employee working under the supervision of the Executive Director dedicated to that specific task. I believe that any and all check user tools should be used in investigation of child protection complaints, that law enforcement authorities should be contacted as necessary, and that Office-Action Site Bans should be used against those reasonably suspected of malfeasance.

I've drawn fire at Wikipediocracy for criticizing hysteria around this issue. I don't think it is a numerically gigantic problem at English WP, but I do believe the potential impact on minors is gigantic and that reporting and investigation mechanisms have been woefully inadequate in previous years. Carrite (talk) 21:23, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
I think it's fine for you to ask this question: since we don't have a round-table debate where all can talk directly to one another. I've always thought the energy and enthusiasm around these elections could be put to good use by having the candidates all collaborate on finding good solutions to open problems rather than compete for the "best" answer; this is a case in point.

The WMF should have a de facto solution for these complaints. Staff do handle such complaints now, but the process could be clearer. Some recent site bans implemented by the WMF office were related to such concerns. As Pundit says, looking to best practices from other organizations, and working with them to make a version that fits our community, makes sense. Our policies are often adopted by smaller like-minded communities online, so it's worth doing whatever we do transparently.

@Csics: I like your enthusiasm for WikiKids! it's important, and deserves consolidated support. And of course we'd need to get even better at child-related policies in order to make such an effort work. This is worth doing for many reasons: young people have boundless enthusiasm for knowledge, are eager to share it with one another, and have few places online to collaborate on research and teaching others.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
I don't think this is a serious issue, yet we need to ensure that we have adequate safeguards against even such a remote possibility.
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
I think the WMF should take its lead from legal approaches from similar entities in the relevant territories, e.g. learning from the approach to child protection taken by Twitter, Facebook, Youtube.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear Carrite,

thank you for your question. Child protection is important. People involved should act timely. It should not be handled on a case by case basis. It is best to have clear guidelines we can all agree on, so people can act timely. The Wikimedia Foundation can handle legal aspects. I hope this answers your question.

Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 23:02, 15 May 2015 (UTC)



Flow[edit]

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WMF has spent many thousands of dollars developing a new talk page conversation system called Flow. Not a single Wikipedia project has requested such software and the project remains bug-laden and largely unloved. What is the way forward with regards to Flow? Is it time for WMF to cut its losses and drop the initiative or should it continue to spend money to continue work on refining the software? What should be WMF's approach if the various language Wikipedias resist a move to Flow; to wit: is use of SuperProtection merited to force Flow upon unhappy and unwilling communities? Carrite (talk) 17:30, 5 May 2015 (UTC) (candidate)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
I think personally that the matter in doing discussion in a WMF wiki is that these WMF wikis did not support instant messaging. This caused many problems for us leading some of us to talk offline about projects using Skype and other software. So, Flow is required for us so that all discussions about wikis could be done and seen in the same wiki. Personally, when a project in Tunisian would be accepted, I will move it to Flow... So, I think that Flow should be regulated and adopted. However, if a certain community do not like to move to Flow, I do not think that WMF should interfere for all projects. I think that the SuperProtection should be used only once for MetaWiki as it is widely used by active admins of wikis in a way that would not cause a debate... After, we have to wait until the admins of other wikis get convinced of the benefits of Flow. As for spending money for it, I think that Wikimedia Foundation had spent now enough money to achieve a core development of the project... So, Further development could be done by the interested community for free... --Csisc (talk) 09:11, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
The discussion is ongoing for this project. Giving a clear response on you question that, Why Not a single Wikipedia project has requested such software?, will be difficult and unfair . I think we should give some time for this. Implementing everything suddenly will create an alien atmosphere within the project. Now, people are unaware of this technology, we should let them understand how it works. Due to lack of communications, many Wikipedia are slowly growing. I will endorse Flow , If it will solve this problem. Until then let the community decide about it.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 21:50, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
I think that Flow is symptomatic of problems that the relations between WMF - the chapters - the communities are suffering from. It started as a nice idea. And then it got skewed, possibly because of IT deployment logic (it is more important to deliver on time than to deliver something the users will be most happy about, I actually researched this very issue on software projects in the Sillicon Valley, Route 128, and Europe; also - the logic of developers is often different than the logic of editors, and veteran editors see things differently than newcomers). I would be very strongly against the use of SuperProtect for a forceful implementation of Flow. I think that at this stage we need to think strategically: not about how much has been spent already, but about what we have at hand (also as a result of the investment) and what we can achieve. It is quite possible that the currently developed tools can be transformed into something really amazing. It should be done, however, hand in hand with the communities, and through proper and structured communities' feedback and advice (something often lacking and causing trouble). One of my priorities as a Board member, if elected, will be focusing on better governance and planning, incorporating communities at early stages already. Pundit (talk) 11:47, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
Okay, first of all, I think that it's too early at this point to say that people don't love Flow. Technology is not meant to be built perfectly in one go—it still has to be perfected. Given the Media Viewer fiasco, I don't think Flow will be forced down communities' throats this time around, nor should it be; as far as I know, Flow will be rolled out very gradually (as is being done now, contrary to the question's claims that no one has adopted it) until it's perfected and ready for deployment Wikimedia-wide after significant consultation. That being said, we seriously need a new way to talk on the Wikimedia projects. Discussion pages are too clunky, many users don't even bother trying IRC, and e-mail is just inefficient. Flow may not be perfect yet, but at least we have something to work on, and judging it now in its current state where it is not ready for mass deployment is putting the cart before the horse. Should we get to the point where Flow is being considered for mass deployment, we should proceed with caution—people should be given every ample opportunity to try it out and comment, and the Foundation should take that feedback into account and improve the product, before we deploy. --Sky Harbor (talk) 10:31, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
I ave not studied this issue and am therefore of course not prepared to give a judgmental answer one way or the other. If I am elected to the Board I will expect to be given a report on the issue and will certainly wish to look into it - as I will wish to be assured of the value and relevance of all major expenditures undertaken. --Smerus (talk) 20:05, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
Carrite (talk), The concept of flow is to develop the talk pages with knowledge to users not only that but also is a pillar where editor are purely building encyclopedia, which means that will primarily get help improving some article and contents. Flow also providing constrictive inputs to our community discussions, intentions or process expected to improve their projects with quality. Francis Kaswahili talk 01:05, 06 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
From what I can see from the latest discussions on wikitech-l it seems to me that Flow is still developed and there is a fair share of users that are happy with it. Of course, it still needs work. I think that a close feedback loop and a gradual deployment (maybe an opt-in system for user talk pages?) could be a way to collect test and use cases and iron out bugs. I would not support a massive deployment or the use of superprotect.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
@Carrite: I hope you will still list the asking of questions to your fellow candidates as a possible COI, as per Wing (talk · contribs)'s request. To answer your last question first, superprotect is not the answer to anything. Not to MediaViewer, not to Flow, and not to anything else. It is in the interest of not only Wikimedia's stakeholders, but the WMF itself, to have a relationship of mutual respect and appreciation, rather than power struggles, with editor communities. I don't know the way forward with Flow. Now that so many funds have flown into it I would expect a beta version at some time that editors could try out, but reading a bit on the technical background, Flow might not be the kind of software for which an (opt-in) beta version is even possible. What I do know is that the Foundation is not a software engineering company. It is not particularly good at it as evidenced by previous projects, and developing software is not its core business. As a Board member I would be very careful to approve expenditures that are far beyond the institution's mandate.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
As other candidates have already stated, there is a new product rollout process which Flow is following. The best thing would be for as many users as possible to test it and provide feedback, obviously. Just as LiquidThreads was abandonned, Flow could be abandonned if it came to that, but it seems to be very early to make the assessment that it has already failed. I would not like a repeat of the MV process, and I find it unlikely it will happen with the new product development process in place.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
To echo Maria and some other candidates, stating that it's unloved is a bit strong, since not very many Wikimedians have tried it out, and for those that have at some point in the past, it's probably changed: it's under ongoing development. I agree we need to improve our current discussion system; there is lots we could do with global discussion workflows to make general collaboration and decision-making easier, and we can make discussion less confusing for newcomers. (The fact that it is confusing is backed up by user tests, as well as anecdotally from the students I've trained to edit). Like Maria, I think that the software rollout process and testing process will be robust and critical.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
I have not seen a recently updated timeline on Flow, and as far as I understand Lila's recent comments, it is being re-evaluated. There are certain pieces and ideas in Flow that are long overdue, but I think we should let the Wikimedia Foundation formulate a new plan on where they want to take the current work from here. I have recently met with a number of people at the Foundation, and they have asked about my experience with developing and deploying Wikidata, and I have offered it to them to the best of my capabilities. I will continue to do so, and I would be happy to do it in a way that would allow me to be more accessible to the Foundation.


The following is just a technicality and can be safely skipped: your follow-up question on superprotect does not really apply. Superprotect could not be used in the way you describe. In the case of MediaViewer, contributors on the German Wikipedia disabled MediaViewer in the global JavaScript-configuration, which was possible because it was basically a browser-executed script. Flow on the other hand would have most of its changes on the server side. A situation where the community could negate the deployment of Flow, as it negated the deployment of MediaViewer, through edits in the global JavaScript files cannot arise, and thus superprotect could not be used to force the deployment. But as said, this is a technicality. What you are actually asking is: 'can we stop the deployment of stuff against our will?' And for that, the employees of the Foundation have new and improved processes and are learning from previou examples good and bad.
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
There is two issues when we talk about Flow. First one is whether the idea or the committed features of Flow are bad and the second one is whether the current status of this feature is in bad shape. For me community comes first and if the community is not happy at all about the idea then it should be scrapped. However, if the community still thinks that Flow is not such a bad idea but it's just that the current status of the feature is not good, then WMF should make sure that the software feature is improved in consultation with the community. WMF needs to make sure that community feedback is properly incorporated in the software development. Since WMF is now focusing on software development, community feedback should be at the core of it. Even businesses do market research and consumer survey before introducing any product and we expect WMF to do much more than that. I do not support the use of Superprotect for the deployment of Flow. As for any software, Flow needs to be tested and it's deployment should be done gradually. WMF should also make sure that community feedback is taken care of during the gradual deployment process.
Better notification features are always welcome. At the same time I experienced no big difference between the existing software and the Flow, and no eagerness of the editors, rather confused to the new editors. Finally I advocate for a good system of discussions. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 21:15, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
I actually like a number of aspects of Flow as it deals with a number of shortcoming of our current talk pages. We know that we have issues with insufficient talk page use from new users. Solutions to solve this need to be trialled and presented to the editor communities. Additionally better notification features would be nice.

The way forwards is to seriously engage with the community in development. This software is trying to accomplish many thing of which not all may be supported by editors. Through intensive discussion what should be kept, what shouldn't, and what is still needed can be determined. Super protection should not be considered.

From what I understand this is to be rolled out slowly to communities who wish to use it. We at WikiProject Medicine have been contacted regarding trialing it. I do have concerns that the en documentation states "we may mandate" it and this sort of statments needs to be recinded. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:18, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
(Note that this is my question.) — Flow is an absolute debacle, just as Liquid Threads was before it. There is no way to make this proverbial sow's ear into a silk purse or a cotton purse or any sort of object of functional utility. Flow simply breaks the software in a non-reversible way — there is no "Just Kidding" button, Flow comments can't be converted to bad ol' Wikitext with a magic filter. When put into place, old talk pages will be archived, new talk pages will be in Flow, and if it proves defective (as it inevitably will), we will be thoroughly screwed. I promise to make it my highest priority to stop San Francisco from implementing this software atrocity. It may well be possible to enable Facebook-style newcomer comment parallel to talk pages without breaking the discussion pages, which are a fundamental part of Wikipedia's editing process. Flow for talk pages is a non-negotiable non-starter, from my perspective. It does not work. Carrite (talk) 21:32, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
One of the biggest problems that affects user-facing design is not getting continuous feedback. If we move to designing features in lockstep with an audience that wants the result – making many releases a day and seeing what works and doesn't work – many of the assumptions in this question go away. You still need to make the result, which worked for that audience, feel good to the rest of the community. But that can be done over a long opt-in period. In recent years larger sites than ours [FB comes to mind] have developed good deployment techniques that minimize disruption. Flow tried to do many things at once, as a single, monolithic project. There may be motion away from that model towards clusters of features and tools that interact with a shared platform and shared interface. I certainly hope to see the best flow ideas see the light of day. (The current 'talk page per page' mode is itself one of the old monolithic implementations: not a very good or flexible solution, just the simplest thing that could work at the time.)
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
"Flow" needs a thorough study as to why it is unloved.
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
Communication on mediawiki is utterly baffling compared to the expectations of modern UX. Improvements are needed as a matter of high priority. Whether Flow is being well managed is not something I can confirm, but it's unrealistic to expect a major redesign of the core part of the product to happen overnight, or for free.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear Carrite,

thank you for your question. I think the community should be involved in the further development of the Flow software. This will ensure it supports the wishes of the editors. Furthermore any software like this should have a long period of opt-in for projects and editors. Superprotect or any force for that matter should not be used. Only implement Flow on projects that ask for it. I hope this answers your question.

Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 23:12, 15 May 2015 (UTC)


WMF involvement regarding abuse[edit]

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Dear candidate. Our current Terms of Use prohibits some activities that disrupt our projects, or are unlawful. Actually if an user egregiously violates those ToU, the response from the office seems to be a global ban. However that does not prevent the banned user to come back over and over (abusing multiple accounts, etc.) and continue with the abusive activities, with the communities and the affected users having to deal with the problem again. Certain problematic long-term abusers and vandals had already caused that some good editors leave the projects as they could not stand anymore (e.g. continuous harassment towards them, death threats, stalking, vandalism, etc.). As such, would you support a greater involvement of the Foundation at all levels, including pursuing civil or criminal actions towards specially problematic long-term abusers, where previous measures have demonstrated to be inefficient? Thanks. -- MarcoAurelio 11:04, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc)
Pursuing these people requires that Wikimedia Foundation should be present worldwide and have offices in different countries. This will cause the WMF to spend much money... So, I do not think that this will be a very good idea. However, I think that arriving to a consensus and writing protected and neutral pages for all controversial issues that cause such problems will let these users leave these wikis as they cannot modify the pages they like to modify and begin an edit war about them... --Csisc (talk) 11:23, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Sailesh Patnaik (Saileshpat)
Global ban is not a solution to stop all vandalism within Wikimedia projects. I find revert option is the best way to stop vandalism. For every bad there lies a good, like that for every single vandalism there are many contributors waiting to correct it. There are many editors who are doing these problematic issues , they have started doing it in different Wikipedia. Wikimedia foundation can't take legal action for every issue, think about situation for how many people it will sue civil or criminal case and will fight at different courts in different countries?. For that only Global ban is the only option left and i think united community could also help in fighting these vandalism.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs)
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
hi MarcoAurelio, as you know, as a steward myself, I am well aware of the problem. Without pointing to any specific users, there are at least several heavy offenders from different countries, who keep returning year after year. I believe that using organizational power and resources of the WMF in such cases is reasonable and justified - and I would support WMF's involvement in such cases (as the communities themselves cannot address them for obvious reasons, and even chapters will often not have enough structures to do so). I want to stress that such involvement should be done on direct request from the community or community representatives (e.g. stewards). Also, WMF should work much more closely with the chapters to establish local law possibilities (for instance, in some European countries spurting Nazi propaganda to local users, irrespective of the server location, may be open to prosecution; often ISP will also treat abuse complaints more seriously when they come from the WMF). Pundit (talk) 11:15, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Mohamed Ouda (Mohamed Ouda)
no response yet.
Josh Lim (Sky Harbor)
As I have mentioned in previous answers, it's important that the Foundation safeguard the integrity of the projects from those who wish to inflict harm on the projects themselves or the community that builds them, and in this case by any means necessary. However, I think that using the law as a deterrent against vandals and long-term abusers of the project should only be done as an absolute last resort after all options that don't require litigation have failed, because to be honest, no one wins when the law is involved. It would only cause undue stress on both parties, particularly on our end, when movement resources could be better used elsewhere. In that regard, while we should keep the 'nuclear option' open for particularly prolific vandals and abusers, I think the Foundation should help local communities in deterring long-term abuse and vandalism before it happens, rather than merely countering individual instances. We should devote resources to fostering a tight culture that would single out vandalism as being undesirable (similar to how Quora frowns upon snippy, irrelevant one-liners as answers), creating more efficient anti-vandalism tools, and empowering the community to better deal with long-term abuse across projects and languages to minimize collateral damage. --Sky Harbor (talk) 15:36, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
David Conway (Smerus)
There may be conceivably be cases where intervention at the Foundation level could be appropriate, including legal measures, but it's difficult to foresee exact circumstances. If the Foundation starts being a world (or universe) policeman it however robs something of the integrity and self-government of wiki organizations. It's not appropriate for the the Foundation to seek to micro-manage. Here as elsewhere the Board can help to set standards and offer advice, to get consensus amongst wiki organizations and users as to the best strategies to employ against vandalism, assisting and empowering individual wikis and wiki-users to deal with such issues themselves as far as possible .--Smerus (talk) 08:36, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
--Smerus (talk) 08:35, 13 May 2015 (UTC) Hello, Csisc (talk) , my point of fact is that: wikimedia Foundation was established with consideration of legal status especially on the Intellectual Property basics and according to you are relate question about abuse or violation of Wikimedia policy. I also have some comments not of entertaining violator but realistically I have learned that not all of them who omitting were intended to vandalize but is some mistakes and others are real attempting to vandalism, unfortunately, it’s the duty of our Stewart's to work carefully with Multlanguage. Francis Kaswahili talk 16:52, 06 May 2015 (UTC)
Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro)
no response yet.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
From gut feeling I would say criminal action yes, civil action no. But I'm not a lawyer, and the little Legalese that I can master was acquired outside the U.S. The WMF Legal Counsel has the insight, I suppose, and I would largely have to follow their recommendation. Of course I would be behind stopping long-term abuse, that's wasting our resources, but what legal action has a good chance to succeed I dare not say. I further have the feeling that tools can be developed and improved to chase abusers across all wikis in our domain. There is even some possible action relating to policy: I see no reason to give someone the chance to troll on another wiki once they have been banned for abusive behaviour on one. For now, the different projects are still a bit disconnected, despite the existence of stewards.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
Yes. I'm pretty sure I know to which case you are referring to, but I will comment generally: I think there are cases where it is justifiable that the WMF takes an active role defending the projects and their users. Stewards such as yourself can only do so much, and there really are people bent in misusing the projects for their own purposes for as long as it takes, burning contributors and compromising the quality of articles on their wake. While the WMF cannot have a presence in every single country of the world, there are four or five high-level instances where I believe it would be warranted to try to stop such people and their abusive activities. I'm not talking ordinary vandalism, but those cases that cut across multiple wikis, infect content in multiple articles and harass individuals to the point of abandonning the projects. There has to be a way to deal with that that is not beyond the resources of the WMF.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
First off, I have nothing but respect for the stewards: you deal with tough issues and, like project-based arbitrators, often see the worst of the wikis. Thank you for doing it.

For long-term trolls and problematic users in general: I think we must evolve more towards a culture that is simply not tolerant of uncivil and trolling behavior, *whether or not* they contribute in other ways. We should not welcome people who cause harm to others. And if there are software tools that would be helpful for those involved in dealing with such people (global flagging, or something similar) we should build them.

For the specific question of pursuing legal action against specific individuals (rather than, say, against companies abusing our projects) -- part of being a good trustee is deferring legal questions to your very good legal department :) So, I would defer to legal as to whether this is possible, precedented, or advisable. My instinct is that it isn’t except perhaps in the very most egregious of cases: where specific harm is threatened toward individuals, say. In those cases, if global bans are being evaded, perhaps. But since most cases of trolling are not like this -- most cases are simply deeply irritating and time-consuming -- that’s where culture change must happen.
Denny Vrandečić (Denny)
In 2014, Wikimedia decided to offer legal support to a contributor who became subject of a defamation lawsuit in Greece because of their editing of Wikipedia. I think that was a bold and important step for the Foundation, and I hope we are ready to defend our contributors everywhere in the world, if needed.

Harassment, death threats, stalking -- these are serious allegations. The Wikimedia Foundation should, in my opinion, treat these no other than lawsuits against our contributors, and should offer support to the victims. It is obvious that it will take time to build up the capacity to handle these cases, but we need to ensure that Wikimedia is a safe space.

(Also it should be clear that these cases are rare. Most cases of trolling, vandalism, etc. are unpleasant and can be sufficient to drive contributors away, but they do not merit this kind of drastic intervention - I reserve that for the case described in the question. A general improvement in our overall friendliness - as discussed int he first question above - is also important, but a very different question.)
Ali Haidar Khan (Tonmoy) (Ali Haidar Khan)
For serious kinds of abuses and offenses, I think WMF should get involved and, if possible, take legal actions against those persons involved in such kinds of abuses and offenses. There should be clear guideline how WMF could help the Wikimedia community from such incidents. WMF's legal team should draft out a workable plan and upon community consultation, should implement that plan.
I agree for the WMF involvement with its legal department in abuse cases. It can take assistance of the local chapters also in resolving the cases. Ahmed Nisar (talk) 13:01, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
James Heilman (Doc James)
I agree this is an important problem that wastes a great deal of the core communities time and effort. We need more tools to deal with these issues. I would like to see the WMF actively supporting the community that is currently attempting to deal with these issues. One specific aspect I have been trying to address is that of undisclosed paid editors who are using armies of sock puppets to advertise via Wikipedia per this Signpost article. Encouragingly many other websites are willing to help us enforce our ToU. This appears to be so potentially beneficial that I have received legal threats from one of our most famous banned editors / trolls :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:28, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Tim Davenport (Carrite)
I believe that the idea that legal action may be successfully taken against trolls, sock puppeteers, and vandals is fanciful in the extreme. I believe the new Site Bans Via Office Action are a necessary step forward in wiping out abusive or potentially dangerous editors and anticipate the use of such bans against the worst cases shall continue. I am supportive although there needs to be an appeals process established. A fundamental problem lies with the ridiculous ease with which accounts can be created and with the ability of unregistered IP addresses to edit without registration and I would work to make sure that no intervention should come from WMF if a local community should collectively decide to tighten registration procedures or ban IP editing. This is, of course, a matter of local control — so I would be equally opposed to forcing such a solution via edict from San Francisco. Carrite (talk) 20:16, 7 May 2015 (UTC)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
Marco, harassment support is something the WMF should definitely offer functionaries who put themselves at risk of being targeted. A fair bit of this does already happen in the community advocacy team, but it could be more visible and accessible, particularly to admins who don't regularly visit meta. I like the idea of stewards being the conduits for identifying where this would be useful, and the WMF supporting them on request. That also addresses much of the language barrier issue.
Syed Muzammiluddin (Hindustanilanguage)
When somebody threatened me @ Commons "I will ensure your existence is challenged unquestionably", I realized the gravity of the threat - although it was a vain threat I received. - I therefore believe that Foundation resources should certainly be directed at this issue, because in many cases the threat is real.
Edward Saperia (EdSaperia)
It would be interesting to explore some other approaches to this; perhaps the WMF could run an inspire campaign around trying to prevent trolls/abusers. For example, it may be possible to algorithmically find them, like in this article, or using methods like browser fingerprinting. We should also look at approaches taken by other companies like Facebook.
Mike Nicolaije (Taketa)
Dear MarcoAurelio,

thank you for your question. The stewards are aware of a significant problem for our near future. Long term intensive global vandalism cannot and should not be ignored. When our volunteer administrators can no longer handle vandalism or threats, such as is the case in a few specific cases of heavy long term global offenders, I believe the WMF should get involved. The community should be able to request such assistance. I hope this answers your question.

Sincerely, Taketa (talk) 23:26, 15 May 2015 (UTC)