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In my opinion a structural problem WMF has is its technically absolute lack of accountability to anyone: nothing can stop WMF from going off-track, hence few trust WMF. IMHO the solution is simple: make WMF democratic (in Bobbio's very specific sense; see a one-page summary at §2). So, do you agree with ensuring community majority and why? What will you personally do on this matter if elected, or what have you done if you already served on the board? Nemo 07:30, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
As I said before, I do not think that regulating Board composition will help adjust the current situation within WMF. However, it can harm funding, administration and structure of WMF. However, I personally think of adjusting the structures of all other committees and communities by modifying existing boards and involving new boards so that we will enhance the role of the WMF community within WMF. --Csisc
) 10:00, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
, I was totally unaware of these things but following this election, talk pages and your links,i found many contributors have grievance on WMF. This is certain and natural because we are the contributors who spends are valuable time for Wikimedia projects and for us only the WMF grows.
Even I endorse your statement to make WMF more democratic, so that a contributor can have his/her right for the contribution he/she did in this movement. WMF runs on community, I don't want any structural changes on WMF as it is better and will always be. It's the time that, we have to fill the gap between the community and the Foundation or it may go off-track, which will be a loss to both WMF and community.
The three members on the board will get elected by the community , so it's their prime responsibility to work for community if we follow the democracy in WMF.
If, I get elected in this election, I will put my personal effort at my level best to fill the gap between WMF and Community. Even i will try introduce this initiative Few hours with a "Wikipedia"
to find the successes or failures of any language community. -- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs)
21:47, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
A nice reference! I like the idea of our community having a majority on the Board. It is, of course, debatable if (as you insist) anyone who has been the Board member for more than 5 years cannot be considered a representative of our community, but in terms of being an elected representative the distinctions is pretty much straightforward (either someone gets elected or not). I do not think that all members of the Board should be directly elected, but I think that a composition of community elected - affiliates/chapters appointed - co-opted experts (in more or less equal proportions, with possible adjustments for chapter activists not to dominate totally), plus the founder seat would make sense. A change of this sort would require a majority support in the current Board, though. However, it is worth discussing, as in some occasions the community representatives are at odds with the rest of the Board, which may signal a certain alienation of this body. In practical terms, as the Board member, I would be against FDC funding capping (currently instituted), or 2-year affiliated organizations freezer (introduced in 2013). I would also support FDC review of parts of WMF budget, as a form of community control. Speaking of limits on terms, I think that 2, max. 3 consecutive terms should call for a break (but a person should be eligible for re-election after that, although in practice I don't think it would matter).
This is arguably the hardest question that I'm going to answer in this election, but it is a necessary one. I agree in fact that we need to ensure that the community has a very strong say in our movement's governance, especially in the Foundation's affairs, but there are many ways to approach this. Board composition is one of those ways, and this is a good start. (Ergo, I support having a community majority, but with additions, as I will explain below.)
I'd like to think though that while a Board composed primarily of community members will naturally have a more community-oriented bent, but this may not always happen. While we are one community, we are a multifaceted one, and there are many other players who are part of the community but either choose not to have a say in how the Foundation is run, or are incapable of having a say. It's one thing to have a community majority, but it's another to have a community majority that is not completely representative of our movement, and that's the hard part given the many challenges we face (gender gap, onboarding the developing world, etc.). There should be a stronger community process for selecting trustees who don't represent our core editorship before we go around talking about Board composition.
To compensate for that, I agree that having a community majority on the Board should be accompanied by having stronger external actors and stronger transparency. We need to strengthen affiliates so that they too also have a say in Foundation governance. Projects should be given a stake in major Foundation decisions through stronger consultation processes with the Foundation. We should have open, publicly accessible conversation both within and outside the Board (some affiliate boards already have committed to holding open meetings) that can be publicly observed, with mechanisms for community members to provide input. There are many ideas that the community may have to increase transparency, and we should thresh them out. --Sky Harbor (talk)
11:09, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
, I see you are an idealist! In my considerable experience of community politics I can tell you that the moment someone gets elected to anything, they are perceived by those who have elected them as being less trustworthy! Underlying your comment I sense a feeling that the Board does not stand up to the Executive, and that the Executive is the 'enemy'. Such an attitude is a recipe for management disaster. To express my own idealism, the Baord should not be conceived of as divided into 'us' and 'them', but each member should exercise their responsibilities to assess issues independently and seek mutual consensus. --Smerus
) 18:56, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
but you know, the issue here is how to manage, and every management coasting time and commitment. Wherever you have a good structure if there's no reconciliation, Responsibility and accountability nothing you can do, and it seems to me that we still have people who think that WMF is there for some one special, even some few colleges contesting on the WMF Election process with failing attitude before sat on the office. I don't see a reason of doubting about the mandate of the Board. the matter is to ask your self that "what's my perception" as to me is "Bring a change and make the world better place to live" this slogan is meaning a lot and let me say simply "every body need a good forward and not backward" I promise if elected I will do whatever god wish me to do objectively. Francis Kaswahili Talk
14:59, 10 May 2015 (UTC)
Hi Nemo, I saved your reference for reading but I will do that later and answer you now. I think that (1) a maximum number of board terms or other similar mechanism is a good idea to be implemented (2) thinking about the previous question about User Groups and them being represented in the board a possible solution is that we could add an additional seat for user groups or other affiliates that are not currently represented (3) as a former FDC member I think that the review of the WMF budget done by the FDC last year was a good idea and should be repeated (4) I feel that many problems that the WMF faced in the past could be avoided with a better communication process with the community (for example, as I have already said, the most concerning thing about superprotect to me is the fact that we were able to arrive at that point at all).
If the WMF itself was democratic, a Board would not make sense. The WMF should not be democratic. The Foundation reports to the Executive Director, and the Board selects that person and oversees and directs her actions. The Board itself already decides democratically, it can vote for or against certain actions. Elections for those Board members who enter via an election, are democratic, too, even though participation in these elections is pathetically low. This is a point where improvements could be made to alert more Wikimedians on why these elections are important, and what a no-vote means for them.
Now, I assume that your actual suggestion is to have a majority o Board members elected by the community. I am in favour of that suggestion, and I would go far beyond 50%+1 if I had it my way. It is absolutely unacceptable from my point of view that the Board could
(and already did)
push through decisions that the no elected member is in favour of. Appointed Board members do not have to have voting rights, and the number of appointed members can be reduced. There is plenty expertise among the editing community. I do not agree on term limits for elected members: If the electorate gives them their vote again and again, there should be something right about them. My ideal Board at this time would be 1 Co-founder + 2 Chapter + 7 community elected, with all co-opted experts non-voting.
- @Pgallert: Because Nemo made a similar claim on my talk page, could you please say which decisions you are referring to, that were 'pushed through' against the opposing votes of all elected Trustees? I am seriously curious, but I couldn't find any such case. --denny (talk) 06:41, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
- I must admit I was a bit too hasty with that one: followed Nemo's link and thought, see, there it is. Phoebe was on the 'other side' in those decisions, I have struck my comment. I'm sorry for that, I should have been more careful. That said, if I am not totally blind I did not find many such minutes, particularly from recent Board meetings, the pure possibility is scary, and the Board did not overwhelmingly operate on consensus, as you assume on the linked talk page thread.
- The possibility is indeed scary, but it just didn't happen. One possibility to avoid it in the future would be extending the bylaws with a veto right which has to be invoked unanimously and explicitly by the community-selected Board members, although that would break the principle of equality of Trustees. Still, a worthwhile consideration, and an idea which I would support. --denny (talk) 18:17, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
- Actually you cannot say it didn't happen. Most of the Board decisions are not publicly documented, you have no idea who voted for or against. I would hope that no community-elected trustee voted for the statement issued by Jan-Bart, for instance. But I don't know, and neither do you.
- @Pgallert: Sorry, I do not follow. The list of resolutions is available, including who voted in opposition and in approval of each of the resolutions. Are you talking about something else? --denny (talk) 03:34, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
- @Denny: I cannot imagine that appointing one Board member and approving six meeting minutes (which are unspecific in the extreme) is all the Board decided in 2015. For example, [t]he Board discussed the Foundation's engineering practices (here). What was discussed? What was approved, what was rejected? Was the Board unanimous on this? We don't know. Or the example that I gave above: Can, or can't you say who was in favour of Jan Bart's statement? Call me nosey, but I would like to know. --Pgallert (talk) 19:10, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
- @Pgallert: I would be surprised if they went through that particular statement in detail before it was sent. But hey, why guessing around? :) @Raystorm:, @Phoebe:, @Sj: - mind to enlighten us? Where is the list of work done by the Board in 2015 so far? --denny (talk) 03:41, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I would like to increase the community-elected seats. And there has to be a formula by which user groups can have a proportional say in the affiliate-selected seats. The way I see it term limits only make sense if they apply to all Board members without exceptions, otherwise the effects you are trying to prevent are cancelled out. As for accountability, I think the other candidates have already said it: we are accountable to readers, editors, donors, affiliates...
I disagree philosophically with the premise of the question: I think WMF is accountable in all kinds of ways. We are accountable to the projects and editors on those projects, of course; that is our purpose for existing, and we are obligated to keep the projects running and sustainable as our part of the bargain. We are accountable to the readers, similarly: we exist to be used, and we have an obligation to provide the best site we can. We are accountable to each and every donor, from the child who gives $1 to the foundation that gives $1,000,000, to spend their money wisely. We are accountable to the terms of our free licenses, and more broadly to their spirit of openness and sharing. And, we are accountable to a number of legal and financial regulations and laws that restrict what we can do with funds, how we operate, etc.
The board's job is to embody all of those accountabilities on behalf of the organziation: to weigh them, be aware of them, and be responsible for them. We absolutely cannot do this without help: without trusting the amazing staff and volunteers of Wikimedia to raise issues, look out for problems, come to solutions, and whistleblow when necessary.
I do support adding an additional community-elected trustee to the board. as stated earlier, which might help ease discussions of whether we are community-majority or not. But believe me, regardless of how they got there, each trustee feels the responsibility to be accountable in many ways keenly.
As others have pointed out in their answers, the Foundation is accountable to the Board. Also, arguably, the Foundation is insofar accountable to the contributors and the donors insofar that both can withdraw their support if the Foundations mucks it up. The history of the Spanish Wikipedia shows that this case is not merely hypothetical, and following Superprotect last summer I am still surprised the German Wikipedia did not realize that option.
Sure, we can increase the number of elected Trustees, we could even have them all be elected. But I am unsure whether that would increase the accountability of the Wikimedia Foundation. What indication do we have that this would indeed be the case?
What if we instead focused on more decentralization? If we tried to come to a stronger and smarter Balance of Power between the different agents in the Wikimedia movement? I recently had a chat with Lydia Pintscher - she is know leading the Wikidata project as my successor at Wikimedia Deutschland. We were talking about the role of the Chapters inside the movement, and she reminded me of a simple, but beautiful truth: Wikidata is as successful as it is because it was not done by the Foundation. Now, this might easily be misunderstood: the Foundation played a major role in Wikidata's conception and in the way it was eventually developed and deployed. But because Wikimedia Deutschland was an independent entity, it also could not control Wikidata as tightly as it would have otherwise. The need for consensus and compromise between these two entities, automatically opened us to external channels. We in Berlin had to talk and communicate with an external entity in San Francisco anyway, we can't just walk over to the other desk and quickly gather some handwaving agreement. We had to communicate and express our ideas constantly, and since we had to do so anyway, why not publicly? And this in turn lead to even more participants in that conversation.
Was this planned? For sure not. But can it be repeated? Yes, I certainly think so. We need more and stronger participants in the Wikimedia movement. Instead of focussing whether three, five, six, or ten members of the Board are directly elected, I'd rather focus on creating a more decentralized environment, that necessitates communication and participation, and that creates a stronger balance of power.
Having more community representation can resolve many issues that often arise between WMF and the community. Of course there is need of specific skill set and expertise on the board. But I believe that the Wikimedia community is big enough and have people with the right kind of skill set and expertise. So, I would propose for approaching the community first even if we need a specialized skills and experience on the board. It can be a way of ensuring more representation on the board. At the same time, introducing term limit for re-election/appointment of board members can also improve more community representation and diversity.
Yes indeed. Where democracy prevails, the rate of accountability is always high. WMF is still in growing stage. Lets hope to learn from the past mistakes and pave an accountable and democratic platform. Decentralization of powers and responsibilities is essential. Ahmed Nisar
) 08:21, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I am in favor of greater "direct democracy" rather than just "representative democracy" at the WMF. This would include decisions at the level of granularity of, "what software should we develop next", "what experiments should we try to address editor retention", and "how can we make the community more welcoming / more polite"?
I am supportive of having the majority of the board elected by the community, even though the above changes will make board composition less important. This could be carried out by making one more seat elected (4 elected by the community rather than 3). I do not consider term limits to be unreasonable either and would vote for a maximum of two consecutive terms. Doc James
) 04:55, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
Re: In my opinion a structural problem WMF has is its technically absolute lack of accountability to anyone: nothing can stop WMF from going off-track, hence few trust WMF. IMHO the solution is simple: make WMF democratic...
— I'd differ with you that there is a "technically absolute lack of accountability to anyone." WMF — the professional organization headquartered in San Francisco — is accountable to the WMF Board of Trustees. Hence: be very careful whom you vote for in this election. Insiders will give you the same old-same old without critical oversight; motivated outsiders will provide oversight and new ideas for a better way forward. As for myself, I would like to make all 10 Trustees directly elected by the community to provide a much needed organizational counterbalance to San Francisco's growing hegemony. I also will work to improve the flow of information between the board and the community and promise to publish quarterly reports, hopefully in three languages. Carrite
) 15:17, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
As I mentioned on the page you linked, a community majority is important for WMF governance. Especially because the decisions of the WMF are so tightly bound up with decisions about the movement as a whole. If the movement were to become more independent of a central foundation, this would be less critical: but that's where we are today.
I suggest two steps to move in this direction:
- Increase the number of community trustees to 6
- Clarify in the Bylaws that a majority of the board must be appointed through community [s]election (as opposed to the current language, "from the community", which phrase is itself defined by the Board)
Another key aspect of accountability is observability & regular monitoring of results.
Having open board meetings that interested community observers could call into (to listen, not to contribute) would be a start.
I agree with the idea of open board meetings that interested community observers could call into (to listen, not to contribute) would be a great start here.
Dear Nemo bis,
thank you for your question. Experts are currently appointed to the board because of their expertise. Personally I am in favor of appointing experts as "non-voting" board members. This will keep the board at a workable number of voting members, while at the same time increase the community and chapter/user group participation in the board. Moreover, we can appoint experts to the board when needed, and not only when there is a seat available. Experts advise, and Wikimedia can use this advise to make a decision. More community participation in the board will improve the working relation with the community, and by extension the relation between the community and the WMF. As a first temporary act, I am in favor of appointing the person who comes fourth in this election as an appointed board member. I hope this answers your question.
) 08:06, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Comment la WMF peux consacrer le plus efficacement ses ressources (temps et argent) à améliorer le contenu de plusieurs projets? Didcot power station (talk) 17:37, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
I think that WMF Board should interfere globally and not specifically. I mean that the WMF should not lose money on developing specific projects because knowledge is regularly developing and an acceptable status can be considered as below the standards in the near future. However, I think that developing some means of assessment and elimination of projects would be more fructuous. If a project is always endangered and could be deleted, its admins would be obliged to work regularly to develop it. That is why I decided to create a WikiLeague within each version of wikis that help valorizing important projects and eliminate inactive ones so that only active projects would be remaining within a period of several years. --Csisc
) 13:01, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Wikimedia is spending a lot for improving its projects. For now, we have IEG
many others for engaging Wikimedians in their respective projects.
Other than this we can have,
- On ground development : Foundation should create a structural platform which could bring/attract new editors to the project. Communication gap is a major issue in every Wikipedia, we should create a sustainable community that they can engage or empower new editors.
- Few hours with a "Wikipedia" : We could start this project to know every successes or failures in a Wikipedia, Employee/Board/Steward/FDC person of foundation to spend few hours with a Wikipedia community.Having conversation with any random users in a talk page or social media platform and knowing; what problem they are facing ? , What solution they have? or anything else. Now we have 288 Wikipedia following these things everyday we could be able to make a good report about, What is our opportunities or drawbacks in particular.
- Outreach Programs : GLAM , QRPEDIA , even Visual editor or other star projects of Wikimedia are still unknown to several users, Foundation/Chapters should invest some money on spreading awareness on this, lot of work is needed at grass-root level. Developing better communication skill , increasing the potentiality of a Wikimedian is equally important because they represent themselves from the brand Wikipedia, For example Train the Trainer program of CIS-A2K is a similar program to groom the leadership quality of Indic Wikimedia community members. Wikipedia Education program is also an asset for spreading the value of free education among the citizen, we should work on it so, that more countries will participate in this specific program.
: In conclusion, I can say that we have lot of projects and we can create many some of them requires money or time but the most efficient one is the community without it we are zero, So building community should be first priority.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs)
21:02, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I think that the WMF can and should support the editors, and this will lead to improving content. We have many different approaches: making life easier for new editors (important!), making life easier for veteran editors (even more important, but often neglected - as if being a veteran meant that you will not leave anyway... I remember stewards pleading for certain tools for years...), educating and propagating Wikipedia, teaching about licenses, developing more GLAM-like initiatives. There is no one perfect way to do it all effectively, and in hundreds of languages and different communities, but the role of the Board is to prioritize promising initiatives, and support the organizations in our movement (including WMF, but also the chapters, as well as volunteer-driven thematic groups) in finding new ideas, as well as proper storing and exchanging of working older ones. In my role of the FDC chair for three terms, I was actively supporting projects, that contributed to content development, and I think that the current granting schemes make sense, although require improvements (for instance, I've been an advocate for less bureaucracy and paperwork requirements for small organizations, as well as lobbied for multi-year funding for (a) well-proven initiatives as well as (b) major projects with clear milestones and longer time-horizon).
I think the most effective way to improving the content is to concentrate on protects like wikimedia education programs and GLAM projects around all over the world .
There are many ways we can support content growth on the projects, but we must remember that content does not exist in a vacuum. Content will always interact with the community around it, and we must be careful not only to invest in content generation, but in the growth of our movement as well. To that end, I suggest three courses of action:
- Invest in editor growth, both new and old. This means that we have to invest in editors actually editing the projects, whether that be funding materials needed to expand knowledge, reasonable travel to far-flung places for documentation, better tools for our power users, or better processes for consulting veteran editors on major technical changes. One of the successes of the Philippine Cultural Heritage Mapping Project is that we directly invest in our editors, giving them reasonable support to help them write their content. Not only have we developed content, but more importantly, we've brought in promising new editors who will help grow the projects and, more importantly, the movement at large. We need to seriously support that.
- Invest in community dynamics and community health. We need to invest in understanding how our community works, researching on best practices and solutions to problems that can be replicated Wikimedia-wide, and preventing the breakdown of social relations between editors so that they can be focused on content generation and not petty politics. Whether that be through meetups and conferences, edit-a-thons and community-building sessions, a rewards program for prolific editors (something that we're currently toying with at Wikimedia Philippines) or just a couple of barnstars to motivate editors to keep on editing, we need to put time and resources in ensuring that our community is capable of producing content without distraction.
- Invest in our outreach and partnerships. We must let people know about Wikimedia and what we have to offer, whether that involves onboarding new editors, pursuing new partnerships both GLAM and non-GLAM, entrenching our place in academia, investing in promising initiatives, or helping spread our reach (and, in turn, our content) through tech partners. Some of this can be done by the Foundation itself, but we must also invest in our affiliates—who in fact do most of the groundwork for the movement to begin with—so that they can do so more effectively. Given that this is heavily dependent on local context, we must be capable of investing in multiple initiatives in different countries rather than one-size-fits-all approaches.
We can invest all we want in content, but if we don't have the people to make the content work for us, then it will simply sit there useless. The Foundation should definitely consider investing more in our people and the projects they run in order to get that ball rolling. --Sky Harbor (talk)
21:25, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
By recruiting and supporting editors.--Smerus
) 18:57, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
Didcot power station
), Not only time and money but Plan, Strategy, Vision and Mission it completing a tool of implementing the objectives of the WMF and if you talk about WMF means Organisation which definitely doesn't Talk,walk, Plan or implement it's objectives but need some one capable for operating that objectives doesn't matter of color, religion or National but a person with comitment, responsibility and accountability it's enough to cut your thirst for WMF. Francis Kaswahili talk
11:18, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
That indeed is its major task. Except keeping the servers running, fostering content creation and improvement is just the important mission of the WMF, and apart from paying necessary bills, pretty much all of its activities should be directed to that aim. How that can be done most effectively needs to be the subject of constant research, discussion, and action.
There are multiple ways, I can think of a few at different levels.
- Asking the community members what tools they need to make their jobs easier: one great example is the Content Translation tool for editors who do translations. Different projects have different needs, maybe Wikisource needs something different in order to make contributing to it easier. Or maybe different language versions of Wikipedia need different things to improve content and increase participation and diversity.
- Work with affiliates: affiliates are the best positioned to make local partnerships with GLAM and other institutions and do collaborations to free content. We have a global network of affiliates which we can use to our (mutual) advantage.
- Access: There is a certain amount of work the WMF can do to prevent and fight hostile situations that prevent users in certain parts of the world to contribute for fear of reprisal. Suing the NSA comes under this heading. If we lose voices, our content will suffer.
This is a great question with a lot of good and very thoughtful answers from other candidates. Clearly, there's not one single path forward: lots of things are important!
I think the WMF can have the biggest impact by improving tools that are used to work on content: curation, rating, bulk import from other free sources, anti-vandalism, draft spaces, translation, etc. So many of our core systems (like AfD on English Wikipedia, checking texts on Wikisource, or reviewing photos on Commons) are hacked together on top of MediaWiki, and aren't that easy to use -- and can be totally impenetrable for new editors who want to help out. We can improve the whole stack of tools to make things easier on both current editors and new editors that want to get involved; Denny has a really interesting perspective here.
Next, supporting editors who work on content is important: everything from funding conferences to edit-a-thon support (swag!) to legal and PR support, as well as funding innovative projects (projects like the medical translation efforts DocJames has been putting together, which are fantastic). But also more in-depth on-wiki support -- for example, helping deal with deeply problematic people is something that other questioners have raised, and is clearly an issue for many current contributors.
Every time I go to Wikipedia -- as a librarian working in the world's largest academic library system
, and a long-term Wikipedian -- I am reminded of how much
we have to do. After a decade or so, we have only just barely scratched the surface. We have hundreds of languages that don't yet have a proper encyclopedia, for one thing. We have tens of thousands of articles that are highly read but could be improved to be more readable, better cited, more comprehensive; we have millions of articles that are more obscure that also need work. We have entire swaths of types of knowledge that aren't yet fully realized: from the data in Wikispecies to the sources in Wikisource, as well as whole areas of human endeavor that aren't well represented (from practical agricultural engineering to fashion, we have gaps in coverage in every language). And we have huge remix challenges and opportunities: making summaries of articles that can be read on feature phones around the world in every language. Linking citations up to libraries so researchers can find what they need. A tooltips overlay that help new editors understand what they're looking at and what's missing. And on and on; these are just ideas off the top of my head. I think the way to get there in a scalable manner is through better software and making the projects more accessible and exciting to all contributors: enabling people to realize their ideas, in other words, and contribute effectively.
Many of the other candidates say that we have to increase the number of active editors, and that this will improve the content of the diverse projects. But they usually do not offer how
they would use their role on the Board in order to increase the number of active editors. And for a good reason: no matter what we tried in the last eight years, the number of active editors is falling overall. Many smart people have done research, many projects have been performed, many dollars spent, and nothing lead to a reversal of this trend. Two exceptions: 1) Wikidata has added several thousand new active contributors to the Wikimedia movement and it seems that this number is sustained, and 2) the competitions on Commons like Wiki Loves Monuments have created significant increases in the number of contributors during the competition.
I am not against continuing to spend resources into trying to increase the number of active editors. We need to experiment with that, and we need to continue spending significant grants and funds into this question. But I suggest we stop being completely fixated on this one number (I have suggested a new metric for success in August last year). More than half of our Wikipedia projects have less than 10 active editors. Even if we double their numbers, we still won't get enough community engagement to seriously achieve the goal of completing and maintaining an encyclopedia in the given language.
Instead of single-mindedly aiming to increase the number of active editors, I would strongly reposition towards increasing our effectivity. Wikidata is a mere first step in this direction. Thanks to Wikidata, more than 240 million lines of wikitext have been removed from the projects - without any loss of functionality. 240 million lines that don't have to be maintained anymore, that cannot be vandalized anymore, that allow every single contributor to be more effective. Look at the graph "Wikipedia edits per month" (you have to scroll down): you will find a spike in March 2013, which was the introduction of Wikidata, but after that the number of edits on average was reduced from about 12 million to about 9-10 million edits per month. And that's a good thing! Those edits are not needed anymore, they were done mostly by bots and caused a lot of confusion and grief. Wikidata reduced the workload for the communities dramatically, and opened up resources to get other things done. And that's not only a technical thing: it has strong social effects too. On smaller Wikipedias, the histories of many articles are basically just a list of bots who passed there to fix language links. This prevented one major component in community building: recognition of other contributors through seeing the history, and an effective knitting together of the community. Now these projects are getting room to breath, and the article histories are becoming significant again.
What can Wikimedia do in order to help the communities improve the content? What do you think is easier to do: Increasing individual productivity by 10% or recruiting 8,000 new active contributors? What about increasing contributor productivity by a 1000%? 10000%? And I am being entirely serious here. If we manage to decouple content creation and maintenance from the surface language for a large part of our projects, we can make our editors a hundred times more productive. And then suddenly the goal that we have formulated so many years ago, of letting everyone share in the sum of all knowledge, sounds actually achievable.
The editors are at the heart of all the content we have on various Wikimedia projects. Quality improvement is also an outcome of how well we can engage and facilitate the editors. So WMF's focus should be on devoting more resources for improving editor engagement, facilitation, training as well as providing improved tools for better editing environment.
In this matter I agree with Pundit. Apart I suggest for more IEG and Project grants. The WMF should deal and accord directly with the editors without involvement of the intermediate organization or chapter. A successful story of Mr.Pavan Santosh
of Telugu wiki is an example. Ahmed Nisar
) 08:48, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I think the first key is increasing support of the current editor community. We have a few thousand people who are donating the equivalent of a full time job or more to Wikipedia ( I know I am ). If we can make them more efficient than they already are this will increase the rate of Wikipedia improvements.
The next key is supporting already existing collaborations which we know are working well. For example Wikimedia Taiwan has a very effective collaboration with a medical school in Taipei. This model could potentially be adopted by other chapters with other medical school in other languages.
Finally working with the communities to trial efforts to increase editor numbers is important. Creating long term editors is the holy grail of the movement but will not be an easy problems to solve. But by spending time considering what other NGOs have done and through trial and error I believe we can achieve at least a few successes. To achieve this we will need to give people room to experiment with at the same time making sure all changes are reversible if not effective. To determine effectiveness we will need to have clear metrics as part of all experiments. Doc James
) 05:19, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
I endorse the view of Doc James that the most important thing what WMF can do is increase support of its current core volunteer base. We always hear public statements about "Oh, there are hundreds of thousands of people who edit Wikipedia." That might be true, but it is also fundamentally wrong. There are, in very round numbers, slightly more than 10,000 volunteers across all projects
who contribute 100 or more edits each month. That number is virtually a constant, down from a shade over 11,000 in the good old days LINK
. About a third of these are at En-WP, roughly 10% at De-WP, and slightly less than 10% at Fr-WP, with the other half or so working on other projects. This is the core volunteer community. Who are these people? What do they need? What are their fundamental complaints? Do they have suggestions to make? WMF doesn't even know because they haven't been bothered to database them and to survey them in any sort of regular manner. This is a terrible failing that needs to be immediately addressed.
WMF needs to survey, survey, survey, and then to listen, listen, listen. That's the key to editor retention and content improvement.
I read an interesting blog post today that suggested that another key to editor retention involves the experience to which new editors are subjected following their first few edits. It suggests that WMF-sponsored intervention in various ways happen after first edits and the responses to these interventions on editor retention be monitored and summarized. Again: this is a matter of study, study, study. That's what the Board should be actively pursuing. The Board must push the tech/software oriented San Francisco Office towards social sciency research efforts. "Fixing" what ails Wikipedia isn't a matter of writing better code, it is much broader than that alone.
In general, the needs of the various language encyclopedias are apt to be different, one from the other. At En-WP we need a new cadre of subject experts to write esoteric content and additional volunteers to handle the ongoing fight against vandalism and the addition of gunk. Other encyclopedias no doubt have different needs. The WMF Board needs to take the various needs into consideration. There is no "one size fits all" solution. Carrite
) 22:34, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
- We need to be bolder in how we position ourselves in the world of cultural archives. The Wikimedia projects are one today. And our communities know a robust, distributed way to manage an digital archive - the sort of archive that billion-dollar institutions would like to set up but have difficulty sharing online. That will start to open up collections on the scale of the tens of millions of texts and hundreds of millions of other records in public archives.
- We need to think longer term, and champion digitization more seriously. All material will eventually be freely licensed: let's be sure that it is in formats and with partners who integrate nicely with our model for free knowledge. There Is A Deadline applies to getting things digitized in the first place; not sort out licensing details.
- Josh and James put it well: we have many current partnerships that work at a smaller level. The WMF can help identify, promote, and scale those efforts through local communities around the world. In particular, we have a few examples of cutting-edge grad students and professors in a field developing their subject in tremendous detail. Some have done it on Wikipedia, others on single-purpose wikis which could easily be incorporated into the sister projects. This is exactly the spirit we need to realize our mission in the current generation. By promoting and honoring that work, we can find scholars in other fields to take up the cause.
I think IEG has worked fine on many Wikis in this direction.
Dear Didcot power station,
thank you for your question. The community is responsible for the content. The board can best help improve content, by helping the editors. Help increase the number of editors. Help when editors asks for software. Help editors initiate new ideas for improvement. I hope this answers your question.
) 08:15, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Do you believe that the Board has, or will have, sufficient technology expertise to adequately oversee and advise on technical aspects of the work of the WMF? If not, how would you enable the Board to develop that capacity: for example, would you support the Board establishing a Technology Committee, composed of members of the Board together with outside experts? Didcot power station (talk) 20:43, 12 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
I had always supported the fact. However, the tech experts should be doing that for science and not for making money. --Csisc
) 13:05, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Personally , I support to have techies to adequately oversee and advise on technical aspects of the work of the WMF. As the Wikimedia community serves maximum time in the software platform and sometime they face glitches within their project, this issue can only be fixed by some tech experts. The interested Tech experts should start their own committee to deal with all interwiki problems and i hope Board will support them.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs)
10:39, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I believe that technical expertise of the Board members is not necessarily a must, but something that should be looked for, and if missing - definitely to be complemented by appointed experts. Fortunately enough, the current composition is already reasonably technical for the kind of oversight it needs to provide. An idea of a Technology Committee is interesting - however we need to be careful not to try to address all problems with committees, it is a sure sign of bureaucracy. Yet, this area may be worth consideration, considering slips we've had with technological implementations in recent history. Still, I believe that with the new ED, as well as technological department reorganization, these problems are hopefully already being addressed.
The way I see it, I think that the Board has sufficient technological expertise to be able to guide it in making tech-related decisions, and it wouldn't hurt if it had more whether in the Board or otherwise. The fact that our ED comes from a tech background, many of our Board members already have tech backgrounds, and the Foundation has been expanding on the technical side, is a testament to this fact. An advisory committee composed of people with strong tech backgrounds from within and outside the community headed by a Board member would be beneficial for us, especially as we chart our further technological advancement. However, we must remember that our technological development doesn't happen in a vacuum, and we need to make sure that the technical advice being fed to the Board is sufficiently vetted by community consultation processes before pushing through with implementing them. --Sky Harbor (talk)
08:22, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Of course the Baord needs technology expertise. It also needs to ensure that it can address and explain such issues to those who are not technology experts (e.g. myself). Whether or not the Board has the necessary capacity is something to be assessed when we know its composition! If it is lacking I am confident that appropriate advice can be obtained.--Smerus
) 08:49, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes Didcot power station
) it's possible to form a technical body of expertise but whatever we think to do nothing can be done without a fair reconciliation between us and remember that all these arises problems is the one part of the cone, if you look at the other side you'll found many of issues. The truly WMF need a big reform to reshape, WMF requires respect to make people trusting Wikipedia and it's projects which is the role of the BOT. I promise to put my efforts of support on the process of establishing the committee. Francis Kaswahili talk
15:46, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't think the Board should not be too technical. Technical insight is easiest to compensate in a Board of an organisation where the challenges are social. Further, after several years of Wikimedia exposure, pretty much all of the standing candidates have picked up technical knowledge how the sites work. I don't see an urgent point of action here.
I would like to see an appointed seat with a technical background that would be advantageous to the Board. I'm not too sure about a TechCom, it would depend on their mandate.
I believe we have enough expertise to oversee, yes, but I would still like to have more technical expertise on the Board. In this area as in all areas, of course, we depend on our staff to be the experts and trustees to provide additional perspective. But, it's a big part of what we do, and I have for many years wanted to see the engineering community better represented on the Board. I am not sure about a technical committee; I'd want to think through how that might work.
The advantage of having appointed members is that they can provide the diversity and expertise that is found lacking, be it technical or otherwise. Also, the Board can at any time dip into a huge pool of technical experts and seek their input and opinion. But remember that the hard technical issues the Foundation faces are not resolved by the Board, but by the engineering and operation teams. They have to struggle with tasks like setting up scalable graph databases, creating a WYSIWYG editor for wikitext, or serving 7,700 pages per every second.
Having said that, I think I might be the Board candidate with the deepest expertise in how our technical infrastructure works, how MediaWiki and its numerous extensions work, and how our communities interact with these features and our infrastructure. I also have worked together with many of our technical contributors, both working for the Foundation and outside of it, and have actually hired a few of them. I have repeatedly pushed what is possible with MediaWiki (see my work on Semantic MediaWiki and Wikidata), and I definitely plan to continue pushing that frontier in order to get closer to realizing our vision.
I don't think high level of technological expertise is necessary for the Board. WMF already has a big enough technical department and adequate capacity. The thing that is missing is adequate community feedback and community consultation. Creating another committee for dealing with technological issues could be an option. However, I am not sure how effective will it be and there is also concern around introducing another level of bureaucracy. Technology is fast moving and I not sure whether a committee could address the issues on a timely and effective manner. Seeking outside expert help can be another option.
If there is a separate technical division, it will strengthen the Foundation. I endorse to have a technical team which shall be like technical advisory committee. If an expert is accommodated in the board may also be good. Ahmed Nisar
) 05:18, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
The board has access to a great deal of technical expertise. They have access to the community, who works with the software every day and knows what needs developing. And they have access to tech people within the WMF who know how easy or hard these ideas will be to develop. A team composed of members of the community and members of tech within the WMF will be able to address many issues. Doc James
) 06:40, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm very pleased that WMF is now headed by somebody with a tech background. The WMF Board's job is oversight and it certainly will need to rely upon the outside opinions of tech savvy people as part of that mission. I don't happen to think that formal subcommittees launched by the WMF Board are the way to solve anything, however. The Board's duty is to make sure that WMF's Office is surveying, consulting with, and working with the language encyclopedias to determine the needs of writers, quality control workers (bearing in mind the needs of readers) and developing tools in tandem with them. Committees of experts would be most efficacious if it were the communities that were establishing them to work on development tasks with professional staff in San Francisco. Carrite
) 22:14, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
We do need technical expertise on the Board, to help build an effective strategy for the Foundation, and to advise on partners and alternatives for its technology plan. Our ED was chosen for her technical background, but we still need to improve our longer-range vision and plans: for instance, to decide how much the WMF wants to be focused on solving technical challenges rather than the many other aspects of producing and sharing free knowledge.
Most boards wouldn't have a formal technology committee. (The WMF did create one in 2006, but it was never active.) However, a group of technical advisors makes sense. This could include specialists who wouldn't have time or interest in governance generally. Similarly, a group of content advisors could help the WMF decide on some of the content and sister project issues raised above.
I support the idea of technical committee / group to look into specific issues.
Access to nonpublic information policy
What is your view of the current status of the Access to nonpublic information policy? Do you believe that the current state of affairs is satisfactory? Didcot power station (talk) 06:07, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
If I might be allowed to amplify that: by status I was refrring to the fact that the policy in question was decided by the Board over a year ago but has still not been implemented. Is that satisfactory? Didcot power station (talk) 05:48, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
I think that the policy is excellent in its current situation. However, it seems that it is a bit unfair for young talents below 18. In MENA like in other regions, there are several users who started their career when they were 15 or less... These users are doing excellent works like GA... and they can need to consult some documents to ameliorate their works. It would be very crual not to let them work as it should be. I think that this policy should be ameliorated although it is excellent till now. --Csisc
) 13:29, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
In general, I think the policy seems reasonable. There always needs to be a balance between the need to recognize and ID individuals and respect their privacy (thus, e.g. storing ID scans would be controversial; even with the current policies I know of elected checkusers who quit because of the need to one-time ID, although I think this is a minimum we have to stick to, at some level of responsibility and tool access there should not be anonymity). So, I think that the new policy makes sense, although I agree with you that one year of delay is already long enough to be somewhat concerned.
The current policy is a welcome change from the old policy, where it was expanded to take into account the changing dynamics of personal information and how this interacts with the movement. Given that we've yet to implement the current policy though, we need to make sure that any plan to implement this policy upholds both the need to recognize people who need to be identified to the Foundation and the sanctity of people's privacy. We should be able to keep data for a reasonable amount of time (maybe 30 days, maybe longer if warranted), but at the same time we need to make sure that data is properly dispensed with when the Foundation no longer needs it. --Sky Harbor (talk)
11:32, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
It seems OK to me - but as with all policies, this is a matter for the Board to review on a regular basis.--Smerus
) 08:52, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Didcot power station
) No comment on it as regards that policy is always policy, whatever you have punctual policy if no supervision nothing can be done, if the community give this opportunity it will take me some hours to study on full management of WMF by now I can say is ok. Francis Kaswahili talk
16:06, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I was one of the Board members who supported it. Sometimes implementation takes time.
Yes, we approved
It is unfortunate that the implementation of this resolution is taking more than a year, maybe it has slipped through the cracks or maybe implementing this does indeed take a bit longer. I come from engineering, and large projects can easily take a year or longer to get implemented - I do not know how many resources are available and how much work is involved in getting this done.
I hope that this question will serve as a reminder in order to get the work unstuck. If not, I am confident that the new Board will be asking for a status update on this.
The policy is a rational one. However, it is a concern that the policy has not been implemented yet after over a year of approval by the board. We expect much quicker response time from WMF and if the delay is because of bureaucracy, it is indeed a concern and board should look into it.
The current policy seems reasonable and logical. Hence I agree with this. Ahmed Nisar
) 09:01, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
The new policy is not that different from the old policy. Yes it has been over a year since the new policy came into being. What new processes are required before we can begin using it I am not sure. Would be useful for the board to clarify this.
With respect to how long checkuser data should be kept, I think this is an important discussion to have. It is a balance between trying to deal with those using multiple accounts and privacy of editors. I guess the first question would be how useful would having data for longer be? Doc James
) 07:25, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I believe that the current policy is reasonable. I would like to see Check User data be retained for longer than 3 months on En-WP to better fight off banned editors using alternate accounts, but that's a minor detail, not part of general policy. Carrite
) 22:05, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I go with the current policy.
Murder of Meredith Kercher Article
What about the Murder of Meredith Kercher article in the English language Wikipedia? Most of the other questions are quite general but I believe examination of a specific topic is sometimes necessary.
The Kercher article is probably the most troubled entry in Wikipedia's history and one that has caused profound harm to living human beings. In the words of Jimmy Wales the article was "highly biased because one side was taken out." He also identified "systematic exclusion of reliable sources" and "censorship to promote an agenda." It strikes me that in a highly contentious criminal case that lack of inclusion of reliable sources who have heavily criticized the trial and police investigation raises grave BLP issues. For more information Google "Amanda Knox Wikimania" and see my Groundreport article.
The problem is worse today than ever. About a dozen editors were blocked because of their POV. The harm caused to Knox and Sollecito by Wikipedia's irresponsible coverage of the case is far worse than anything ever faced by John Seigenthaller. The RS banned from the article include four CBS documentaries, three retired FBI agents, an American Judge, a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist and many other respected journalists. These people are all breathing fire.
Is there a place for the WMF to act in this case and others where there appears to have been a breakdown of Wikipedia's system? What happens when apparent "consensus" about violations of policy is different from what an impartial finder of fact would conclude? Do you agree or disagree with the statement that many editors were blocked as part of an effort to expel those with a POV opposed by the administrators who controlled the page? Is the article in its current form a BLP violation against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito? Thanks in advance. PhanuelB (talk) 14:18, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
This issue is controversial and common. I personally think blocking the concerned page and trying to arrive to a consensus is the best solution. If this does not happen effectively, the Board should not interfere because the idea expressed by the Board can be understood as a political orientation of the Wikimedia Foundation that should be always considered as unbiased. So, I think that the community should solve such matters itself within a specific institution like the Wikipedia Council I have proposed before. --Csisc
) 13:44, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
There is no place for a contributor to put his/her own point of view on Wikipedia. PoV is not always biased, However, advocating POV and implementing POV is totally different. Wikipedia is, was and will always support NPOV, facts and references. It is a serious issue. However, I believe that Board should not put its nose for each and every community clashes, unless and until the matter cross all limits. These kind of problems can get solved within the community itself.
- I also endorse Pundit's point that, libelous material after published should get verified by legal department. This step could make articles reader friendly. -- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs) 11:16, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
It is a very important problem. However, I do not believe in the Board's direct interventionism in content issues of different projects. I trust the communities to be able to resolve content disputes on their own (and I know it is not always realistic, yet I still believe it would be worse if the Board meddled). Even the content dispute resolution methods and procedures pertain to the communities. I would not like to comment on a particular project's rules (en-wiki BLP). Moreover, I definitely believe that if some libelous material is published and there is a complaint, it should be dealt with by the legal department (and this is sort of a safety valve if a current consensus on policy differs from impartial reader's view).
I'm not sure this is particularly relevant to the election, but as far as I know the Board shouldn't get directly involved in the content disputes of individual Wikipedias. This should really be left to the community to decide through the proper mechanisms.
That being said, I think that at this point, we need to ensure that the integrity of BLPs is maintained. What happened with the Meredith Kercher article is reprehensible, and it shouldn't have happened in the first place—"neutral point of view" doesn't mean discounting other points of view to make a point, and it should never mean that. I think the English Wikipedia's dispute resolution mechanisms are capable of resolving this, and I strongly believe at this point that any Foundation intervention treads a very fine line between enforcing an editorial line (which we're not supposed to do) and maintaining the projects' sanity (which we can do). Should the Foundation—which shouldn't
involve the Board—need to intervene, it should only do so as an absolute last resort. --Sky Harbor (talk)
07:51, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
The particular issue raised here (which is one I have not personally followed in detail) is I think one for en:Wikipedia and not for the WF Board. --Smerus
) 20:04, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
MMKA, it's an project like any other project, remember that wikipedia is crosscutting, among of that it's including information of living and died Person. WMF's Board of trustees are the ultimate corporate authority supervising the organisation sanctions. The question of our college raised on Wikipedia project, wikipedia is among of 12 projects of the Wikimedia Foundation nothing wrong has been done to the queries but remembered that there are technical’s staffs dealing with articles of the Wiki projects controlled between the administrators and the executive committee, the WMF doesn’t have a jurisdictions whether criminal or civil sanctions. WMF’s BOT will deal on the ethical code accordingly and where there’s no codes it will be on discussions. Francis Kaswahili talk
12:31, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
As all the other candidates before me have already pointed out, this issue should be dealt by he community and not by the board.
I don't think the WMF should get involved in content issues, that's for the communities. The only instance I could think of is when actual harm is intended (for instance, publishing an address or a naked pic), but I would like to think that community members would revert and delete promptly such blatant harm.
The question that you asked that is most relevant for the Board in all this is: "Is there a place for the WMF to act in this case and others where there appears to have been a breakdown of Wikipedia's system?" That's a reasonable question, one that certainly many people have asked over the years, and one where we have historically answered "no".
I don't know what such an intervention would look like, is the trouble; I'm not sure what that place would be. I'm not especially familiar with this case, but have followed other deeply contentious articles/topics recently, and have certainly run across instances where I thought the editor consensus model broke down under either the deep divisiveness of the issue, or the weight of outside noisy interests. But I do not see a cleanly defined, scalable role for the WMF in those cases, beyond strengthening our overall discussion and participation infrastructure.
I actually read your article on the topic a few months ago, and I found it a detailed and interesting read. Thank you for writing that.
As I stated in several other answers, I am a supporter of the autonomy of the individual projects. There are mechanisms in place if the individual processes fail. As far as I can tell, you have explored these exhaustedly. I understand that you remain convinced that the result the English Wikipedia community came up with in this case is not good, but there are plenty of people who think so about plenty of content in the Wikimedia projects. The Board of Trustees cannot and must not directly partake in the discussion about a single topic on a single project - remember, we have more than 700 projects. But in general, I trust and respect the communities (which does not mean I always agree with them).
Content creation is left to the wit and wisdom of language and the local community. NPoV should be viewed and reviewed by the local communities. Intervention of non local communities and WMF may not be fair for content creation. Ahmed Nisar
) 09:09, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
It would not be appropriate for the WMF to become directly involved in content issues. I have no expertise in this case and without spending a fair bit of time developing a good understanding should not weight in. En-WP has a number of dispute resolution mechanisms. The talk page appears relatively quiet for the article in question and that is were issues should be discussed. Doc James
) 06:55, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
This is an En-WP content debate that is clearly outside the purview of the WMF Board. I suggest that this question be removed. Carrite
) 22:02, 13 May 2015 (UTC)
I think local community should decide its own policies.
Accurately measuring the reliability of Wikipedia
I read the first few days' responses to the 2015 Strategy/Community consultation and - at least from the unregistered respondents who I assume to be readers rather than community members - there was a clear theme emerging: they don't - but would like to be able to - trust Wikipedia. In its 2015 Call to Action the foundation listed a number of objectives reflecting its commitment to excellence, community, and innovation. Among those objectives was: "Improve our measures of ... content quality..."
Do you think the fact that our readers can't trust us is a problem, and do you support the foundation's commitment to improve our measures of content quality? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 09:09, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
I personally think that this mistrust is a problem. Unfortunately, this problem is growing... and even the solutions like Community Peer Review and Journal Peer Review could not solve this important issue... If elected, I will try to work with institutions like SIL International for Linguistics and involve some independent wikis done by experts in Wikipedia to solve this problem. Moreover, I will try to ameliorate the means used for the quality assessment of works in Wikipedia and involve a new tool in the wiki called "Rate this" in order to see what are the papers that are causing such problems and try to invite community to work on them and ameliorate their output. --Csisc
) 14:01, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
I think that it is one's own view. There are many people who finds Wikipedia reliable and there are some who find them unreliable. I found that Supreme court of India and other Indian courts cite judgments
on the basis of Wikipedia. Actually the statement that "anyone can edit Wikipedia" makes people confused, they don't know how tough it's to save your article from deletion in Wikipedia (When you don't have proper references and citations).
-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs)
20:26, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Obviously, the fact that some of our readers don't trust us is a problem. This is particularly acute and disastrous in the academic community (I wrote about this issue
and hope to address it more if on the Board). Truth is though, that it is even really difficult to systematically and properly evaluate content quality. There are window studies of selected areas (showing
that our quality in some of them is quite high), but it is barely possible to accurately evaluate article quality across topics on one project, and we have hundreds. Even the very perception of quality differs across the projects (I am going to present results of my quantitative research in this respect at Wikimania in Mexico
) Thus, I fully support the idea to try to improve measurements of content, but in practice I find them difficult to implement across all articles (although e.g. there already are some
pretty promising ideas
for automated quality predictions). The issue definitely deserves more and more attention, as our projects mature.
Potential loss of reader trust is a problem as much as loss of editor trust also is. Remember that the Wikimedia projects in themselves aim to be authoritative; for example, the English Wikipedia aims to be an authoritative academic encyclopedia. But we need to note two things here:
- Reader metrics will vary from project to project and from culture to culture. Global metrics attempts to resolve this, but we can't reduce differing cultural contexts of encyclopedia reading (if I may put that way) to just a couple of data points. Understanding the specific cultural context of reader trust and reliability can't be gleaned from numbers alone.
- Trust is wavering. As pointed in some of the other answers, trust is a poor indicator of reliability: some will think Wikipedia is unreliable even if the information being presented is well-source and comprehensive, and vice-versa.
That being said, we need better ways of improving our measures of content quality, and global metrics is a good start, but we can always improve on them. But we shouldn't be afraid of skepticism—if anything, this should stimulate our academic curiosity and should motivate us to improve our content. Academic skepticism is healthy for it allows us to seek a holistic picture of what we're learning about, which is still very much aligned with what we want to do. However, let me be clear here that this is something that the Board can't necessarily be always hands-on with. We are not solely responsible for overseeing reader data; Foundation staff, affiliates and individual projects should also play a hand in better understanding our readers. --Sky Harbor (talk)
10:16, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
As regards the headline - I don't know how one would 'accurately measure' reliability. As regards the question - of course reader trust is a crucial issue; if we lose it, the project fails. Developing trust with other providers/disseminators of information (academia, journalism) is intrinsically going to be difficult, not least because there is an element of competition. This is exacerbated by the fact that our 'competitors' are 'licensed' to provide information - by being academics or professional journalists - and can (and do) use this to characterise the open editing policy of Wikipedia as 'unregulated' behaviour which can misinform and mislead existing and potential readers. And even when information is technically correct, it may give rise to criticism if it is 'undue' (see e.g. here
). The volume of existing material, and growth of new material, on English Wikipedia alone is beyond the capacity of voluntary editors to monitor for accuracy. As time goes by, undoubtedly it will be possible to develop trawling bots which can make some assessment of accuracy (in a sense these already exist as regards blatant or apparent vandalism); we also need to ensure support for editors and that editors clearly understand the issues involved. Given the principle of open editing, and the fallibility of human nature, I am not sure what other actions the Board can profile to enhance accuracy, but as a member it is an issue I will seek to progress.--Smerus
) 20:33, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
12:56, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I actually like the idea that our readers do not trust us. This behaviour is desirable and indicates a good level of media and Internet literacy. Neither should they---blindly---trust other publications. I must admit that I have little empathy for people trying to cure their diseases, or develop their financial portfolio, or source their understanding of history, from the mass media, Wikipedia included.
Wikipedia is not the sum of all human knowledge and will never be, because knowledge is personal (belief+truth of the fact+justification for the belief). All we can hope for is to become the sum of all important information from which knowledge could be derived, offering several interpretations for the facts we collect and present. For now we concentrate on presenting facts: Who did what, when, how. A good encyclopaedia also offers interpretations, something that is still lacking in most of the Wikipedia articles: Why did it happen at this time, why was it done by this particular entity, why was it this particular action and not something else? For these explanations, largely absent as they are, Wikipedia has a big advantage: We don't rely on one particular point of view. We can offer a 'controversy' section outlining parallel explanations. This should be strengthened.
For content quality there is exactly one universally accepted measure: The result of a double-blind peer review, assuming that both author and reviewers are seasoned academics. This measure does not apply to the movement just yet: Neither are all of our authors academics nor could we convince the entire scientific fraternity to do 35 million peer reviews, only counting Wikipedia articles in various languages. Our reliability will have to be measured differently, and that measure is not yet in place.
Readers shouldn't trust anything they read! No, seriously, I wouldn't like it if people trusted our content just because it is in Wikipedia. It's not our purview to convert people into critical thinkers, but I hope we don't do the opposite either. Some articles have high quality and others do not, some include multiple points of view and others are biased (and tagged) (or not). Overall, people use Wikipedia because they find it useful. Maybe an article will send them to another source where they can compare and contrast info. Trust is not really required. Being able to help people is. So while I do support improving measures of quality and all the rest, the end goal is not necessarily so that people trust us more, but that we are able to be of help to people.
I do very much support the objective to improve how we measure quality and reliability. Some of this simply involves aggregating, understanding and making visible community-produced metrics, such as article ratings. There’s also plenty to be done in research and producing measures that can be applied automatically across all of our sites, to get a better handle on what the Wikimedia projects look like today. This is also important so we can highlight our best work. And then of course the ultimate goal of figuring out what quality means is so we can increase it. For instance, developing and highlighting quality measures means we can easily highlight areas where works needs to be done: in other words, where new editors can constructively help (I believe one of our major failings today is to not make the many, many tasks we have to do more visible to new editors).
As for whether it’s a problem that readers trust us: of course I want our readership to be able to trust our content. I also, simultaneously, want readers to understand us as a continual work in progress. I think a lot about this as a librarian and an educator. I believe that the cultural perception of Wikipedia has shifted, at least for certain demographic groups, which poses a problem for gaining new engaged editors. Every year, I ask a class of freshman university students that I teach (in the US, at a California university) whether they were told not to use Wikipedia in high school. Each year for the past 4-5 years, every hand in the room has gone up. At the same time, these students, who are usually around 18, have been using or aware of Wikipedia for their entire school careers. But how they perceive Wikipedia has been deeply shaped by the admonition that it’s untrustworthy that they’ve been hearing for years, often since middle school. (Of course, this is an English-centric perspective; for other languages, the issue for students may be that content is simply lacking in that language).
What’s our role in all this? I think having a very clear understanding of what the current state of Wikipedia’s quality is would be a start, and making this kind of information much more visible for the sake of people learning how to use the encyclopedia. We need to work with educators much more to help them understand us. And, we need to do some deep work on figuring out what ensuring reliability might mean in a variety of contexts. Right now in the English Wikipedia, for instance, we rely heavily on citations to outside sources, including scholarly sources. But access to those sources is restricted by the closed scholarly publishing industry, and we know (anecdotally at least) that few readers bother going to them even if they are able to. So does having sources really ensure reliability? How do we know, and how do we check? What kind of sourcing is appropriate for a tertiary source like ours (a question that only a few subject areas, like medicine, have tackled to date)? There are many epistemological questions like this that as a community we need to move forward on figuring out for the future of the project.
I trust you don't trust the Trustees to alone solve the issue of trust in Wikipedia. There has been a general thrust towards more reliable content for more than a decade now, and many smaller Wikimedia projects have adopted the stricter rules of the English Wikipedia very early, maybe even too early in their development cycle. One of the major decisions in Wikidata - and one I got chided for a lot - was to adapt the data model used in Wikidata to explicitly model references.
I actually doubt your premise that readers do not trust Wikipedia. I mean, yes, if you ask them "Do you trust Wikipedia?", I am convinced that many people would think about it and say no. But asking people such questions is not a reliable method. Look at where they go if they need information. Imagine instead a quiz show with options to help you answer questions, e.g. asking the audience, calling someone you know, etc. If they would offer an option "use Wikipedia for a minute", I am pretty sure that would become a very valuable option. Bismarck said, that most people who know how laws or sausages are made, would stop respecting them. And I think a similar effect happens when you ask people "Do you trust Wikipedia?". They think about how the sausage is made, and answer accordingly.
In short, the question of trust in Wikimedia projects is not a question I see for the Trustees. It is indeed a question of the individual projects and lies in their autonomy. I would not want to impose rules of reliability and sourcing developed by the English Wikipedia community of 30,000 active editors on a small project, which is just starting to develop and blossom. Each of these projects need, especially in their early phases, the freedom to explore and grow by their own heartbeats. An article like this one would be frowned upon on the English Wikipedia today, but it might still be an improvement for the Burmese Wikipedia today.
(And sorry for the wordplay in the beginning, but I think everyone who made it so far reading the answers deserves a smile. Also, if you actually followed the link for Bismarck, you will learn that he did not say such a thing. At least, if you trust Wikiquote.)
The perception of readers towards Wikipedia/Wikimedia projects vary from project to project, from language to language and from country to country. Indeed some of the Wikipedia readers don't trust the content and it is a big problem. Wikimedia Foundations commitment to improve the measures of content quality is appreciable. However, measuring quality of Wikipedia content is a subjective one and there is no easy answer to it. We have to find out different avenues for doing so and it's the responsibility of WMF to engage the community in a more constructive way so that every Wikimedia community has focus on quality content and measurement of quality. WMF should also ensure that community feedback is an integral part of this quality pursuit and there are tools available for the community to evaluate and improve quality.
Absolutely. In many instances the readers questioned me about the reliability of the content. Though I gave logical briefings to them, still their faces had question marks! Reliable content creation is the prime objective of the wikipedia articles. Merely depending on the news paper reports, we can not create articles. We need some more authenticity which may be in different forms. Recently on English wikipedia many articles have been deleted with a single mouse click, though they have book references in the local languages. This mindset of the admins on English wiki should be changed. The authenticity of the content may be in many forms. Ahmed Nisar
) 13:53, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
One goal of the movement should definitely be to increase the reliability of our content. I see collaborating with journals as one way of achieving this. For example four of us worked to get our article on dengue fever formally peer reviewed and published. The article is now pubmed indexed 
and on pubmed commons. This may expose our content to a group which may not have previously accessed it due to reliability concerns.
We have also started a peer reviewed open access journal medical on Wikiversity here. There is still a fair bit of work required to get the articles pubmed indexed, however this will hopefully one day be another way to get our best content published in static form / make it more trustworthy (at a lower cost).
I think it is wise counsel not to trust any source completely, including Wikipedia. We want our readers to be skeptical. I am surprised how much people actually do trust Wikipedia per this survey
. We must also keep in mind that both the formally peer reviewed literature and textbooks may contain errors. For example a major medical textbook from the Oxford University Press was recently caught copying and pasting from Wikipedia.
The amazing thing is that they changed the references so that the new references no longer supported the text. So they not only copied our text but made it worse while doing so. Doc James
) 23:59, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
There has been very little attention paid to the question of reliability of Wikipedia. Even the academic literature falls far short of where it should be on this topic. There are no good metrics for development of quality, only the sheer number of articles and average size of those articles, which are increasing. I've made the contention in a thread at Wikipediocracy that English Wikipedia is steadily improving over time, which one may observe by checking diffs between the current version and the first stable version of randomly selected articles. This perspective unsurprisingly drew shrieks from the "Death to the Beast" faction. Nevertheless, I believe that any reasonable effort to confirm this assertion will do exactly that — En-WP's content is
improving over time. There does
need to be serious study of the quality of the content of Wikipedia, however, and I suspect that WMF has a very great role to play in helping to make this happen. I would support such an effort, although I must admit that my first study goal if elected to the Board would be to get the ball rolling on databasing core volunteers and surveying them as to needs. Assessing content to find its deficiencies and needs logically flows from this shortly thereafter. Carrite
) 15:38, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I think that the very fact that some court judgments are based on Wikipedia articles is a measure of its reliability. But many on non-English Wikipedias fall short of proactive reviews/ admin activity. There is a need to build active editors and admins here.
Long-term vision for Wikipedia's direction?
Which of the following two directions would you prefer as a long-term vision for Wikipedia? Why?
- A non-profit software company leveraging open data efforts of volunteers.
- A respected cultural and educational institution providing general access to knowledge to everyone, over the Internet.
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
I think that the second option is more accurate for our situation. Wikimedia Foundation had received worldwide recognition for its role in enhancing the use of free and accurate knowledge through Internet... Wikimedia Foundation is not just an international organization. It is an organization having the sixth most visited website worldwide according to Alexa Statistics and a community constituted from interested users from all over the world. --Csisc
) 14:08, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
I would prefer the second one, Wikipedia is respected cultural and educational institution providing general access to knowledge to everyone, over the Internet.
To answer this question, I would like to share one of my experience :
In my state/province, we have very few historical drafts reserved over the internet. If i search for an important person of my state , i get no/less results. Through Wikipedia we are able to draft our past or the present, it is a revolution for the free knowledge. I can assure that only for Wikipedia, my future generation will find their history on their hand and will not face problem like us.-- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs)
22:14, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Both visions are close to what we do. However, vision no. 2 in my view is the one in which we have more competitive advantage (i.e. we are more unique). Being the sum of all human knowledge is, more or less, what we are trying to achieve even now. I have to admit though that your no. 2 vision, without emphasizing the open data character of what we do, sounds to be a bit artificial (and, in fact, could fit a university - after all, e.g. MIT
offers free courses, too, over the internet). I also think it is important to stay true to our non-profit status. Thus, I myself would probably go for "A highly respected, non-profit organization providing access to open knowledge to everyone".
I strongly think it's the second one (and I think this takes place both on and
offline), but we can't deny that elements of the first come out from time to time, and it should be able to reconcile both.
We can't deny that the Wikimedia movement today provides more knowedge in more languages than many, if not most, other movements and institutions. Millions of people rely on Wikimedia projects to get the information they need. Those millions also look up to Wikimedia as a platform for people to share the knowledge that they know or have been able to glean off what they've seen or read. In that sense, our respectibility as an educational, cultural and informational institution, and the dynamism and mutual trust that defines our community, are what gives us legitimacy.
On the other hand, we must also consider that our community is not only composed of editors and content contributors. What about those who share their programming knowledge for the development of MediaWiki? What about those whose efforts to help the movement through the release of data, either online or offline? We must consider that they too are helpful for the movement, that they too are part of what we're building, and we have to take them into account as well. Without MediaWiki, there'd be no Wikimedia, for example. Sure, they don't contribute actual Wikipedia edits, for example, but without them we wouldn't be able to run as we've been able to.
That being said though, the Foundation will probably never be a software company. We don't necessarily have anything profitable to offer people. What we do have is knowledge: knowledge that we've committed to being free. That is where our primary focus is, but we should focus on the whole, and that means focusing on software development, open data and community organizing too, among others. --Sky Harbor (talk)
07:41, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Why can't we be both? I would hope to be able to support these visions - which are mutually reinforcing in my opinion - in parallel.--Smerus
) 20:08, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
I prefer to both projects provided that Wikipedia is a portal at any level with a slogan of any body can edit regardless of color, tribe, religion, or age depends on knowledge. Francis Kaswahili talk
13:45, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
You said "Wikipedia" bu I think you meant the Wikimedia Foundation. I think that our movement is centered around open knowledge
, if the WMF becomes a software company (even one developing free/libre software) it would be different, there are other entities in the world devoted to F/LOSS bu I think that the Wikimedia movement has a broader mission. On the other end, what we do is not just about education, we are not the Khan Academy
(which is a great project, by the way. They are also using a Creative Commons license, although a non free one (CC-BY-NC)), we are neither Coursera, EdX, Duolingo or one of many other companies or projects revolving around education. Both components of freedom and culture are central to what we do and defining who we are, and I do not think we should renounce to either of them.
I agree with you that the WMF should not be a software engineering company. This part can and should be outsourced.
I imagine you mean the WMF. I would go with the second option, because it is more inclusive of what we do today: a great part of what the organization does has to do with grantmaking. We facilitate others increasing access and content of the projects; we are much more than a software company.
I’m going to interpret this question as referring to the future of *the Wikimedia Foundation*, rather than Wikipedia-the-website. If that’s the case, then I think it’s both, and in fact the one (the non-profit software company) is a means to the other (a cultural and educational institution). The WMF, since its founding, has always spent most of its resources (staff, money, time) on technological infrastructure: keeping the sites up, maintaining and writing MediaWiki, etc., and the same is true today. We are, objectively, a non-profit software company, and I believe that at least for the near-term that must be a role we continue to play. But the *mission* is for the Wikimedia movement -- including the projects (Wikipedia) and the WMF and affiliates -- to be recognized as a distributed, volunteer-led, cultural and educational institution providing free knowledge to all.
: I have a little bit trouble with the terminology, and I would be happy if you could clarify: are you referring to the Wikipedia projects specifically, the Wikimedia Foundation, or to the Wikimedia movement as a whole? Because for each of these the answer would look very different.
Wikipedia's long term vision should align with the second statement. Wikipedia's success so far has been it's noble image around the world as a website that aims at disseminating free access to knowledge to every human being in the world. I believe, future success of Wikipedia also depends on how closely this direction can be maintained. The institutionalization of part of the movement in the form of establishing the WMF was done later to sustain the projects, because some form of organization is needed to maintain such projects. So, I never see Wikipedia's long term vision or Wikimedia Foundation's long term vision in particular to be similar to any other software firm.
Absolutely the second one. The mission WMF is free knowledge. The participants, editors are engaged withe volunteerism, with no profit motto. Ahmed Nisar
) 09:22, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
The second one obviously :-) We are first and foremost a purveyor of knowledge. Software is only useful if it supports general access to knowledge for everyone. I would trim the last bit "over the Internet" though.
We also need to spread knowledge by methods other than the Internet. For example I am involved in a collaboration with Samsung and others to have SIM cards preloaded with Wikipedia content before they are shipped to Africa. Additionally we have Kiwix and I know many people keep an offline version of Wikipedia on their phone or computer. This is especially important in areas of the world were access to the Internet is less than ideal. Doc James
) 00:05, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
A bit of a loaded question, eh? Of course, this touches upon the divergence of orientation between the core volunteers at the various language Wikipedias and the professional paid staff (mostly engineers) in San Francisco. I am a content writing volunteer at English-Wikipedia and have been repeatedly critical of WMF in public fora, so there should be no question about my Weltanschauung.
Here's the question, voters: what do you want, more of the same or a change??? Carrite
) 15:48, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
I would like to see us become a cultural and curatorial organization, that makes essential knowledge available to all, with no strings attached; and that lets everyone write down, organize, and preserve what they know for future generations.
Cultural and educational organizations are increasingly moving online, and developing or using software to realize their work. But we don't have to build that software ourselves. What is essential is that we build a movement to capture knowledge that is disappearing before it is gone; to identify gaps in knowledge and offset systemic bias; and to create practical legal / technical / social channels for people to find and use that knowledge in their daily lives.
I think both - 1st may be helpful for editors to create bots and the second is indeed useful. For example, free online knowledge can be a useful article reference point.
Responsibility for content dissemination
The WMF mission statement has a major point of unresolved grammatical ambiguity regarding whether the Foundation has the responsibility to disseminate free education content, or to empower and engage people to disseminate said content. Currently, either reading fits well with the general behavior of the Foundation (maintaining the Wikimedia projects could be considered as aiding the communities in disseminating content, or disseminating content itself), but they could be conflicting at some point in the future, if there is a dispute between the Foundation and its partners as to how content should be disseminated.
In your opinion, does the Wikimedia Foundation itself hold direct or indirect responsibility for disseminating free content effectively and globally? --Yair rand (talk) 17:23, 14 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
As other users said, the mission of WMF is clear. The WMF is efficiently engaged in disseminating free content worldwide. I think that this is clear and does not even need to be discussed. --Csisc
) 14:27, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
As an user of Wikipedia, I think both of them fits for Wikipedia nature. Our only mission is to provide free education to each and every citizen in the World, So i don't object WMF for disseminating knowledge. -- Sailesh Patnaik (Talk2Me|Contribs)
I don't really see the ambiguity. The mission clearly states that WMF should "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content". There are also later paragraphs about providing infrastructure, but in my view the mission is straightforward about the supportive and aiding role. The part about dissemination is not conflicting, as our licenses allow for anyone to reuse and redistribute the content (so I don't see how it may cause conflict). However, I definitely do not object to WMF disseminating knowledge :)
As far as I'm concerned, I don't see any grammatical ambiguity in the mission that could possibly impair the Foundation's ability to perform both types of activities. Both activities go hand in hand: the Foundation has and should continue to empower volunteers and communities to disseminate the content they have generated. At the same time though, community efforts to bring this content to more and more people has been and should continue to be supplemented by Foundation efforts to enable this wider dissemination of knowledge. Sure, the Foundation has employed Wikipedia Zero, the Education Program and the Public Policy Initiative that came before it as means of spreading Wikimedia content around on its own, but at the same time it has supported Wiki Loves photo contests, article-writing programs like CEE Spring, and offline access methods such as Kiwix. Those happen to all be community-led.
If you ask me, the answer to this question lies in our vision, to which our mission supplements. Remember that our vision is to "imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge" (emphasis mine). While we can debate on the finer points on what this "sharing" implies, this means that the Wikimedia Foundation exists not only to facilitate sharing knowledge at a largely individual level, but also for its spread both by itself and by the community at large. This is something that is clearly enabled by our mission as is currently written, and is something that the Foundation ought to continue supporting.
The spirit of Wikimedia is inherently collaborative and predisposed to sharing: a spirit that we've built over these last fourteen years. If anything, should there be any ambiguities that could result in the Foundation going the other way, it's our responsibility as the community to keep the Foundation in check. --Sky Harbor (talk)
11:46, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
I find it difficult to envisage a situation in which these clauses would stand 'in conflict'. The statement does not seem to me to contain any major ambiguity - the Foundation's start-point is to animate people, for the purpose of disseminating knowledge - via wiki projects. That's it.--Smerus
) 07:55, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Ooh, Yair rand
) That is the Vision and Mission of the WMF which is unquestionable, undoubted, It's for real and that's why The WMF spend some funds for providing and involving the community globally. no doubt every thing can be done either I normally find solution according to problems occurring. Any dispute occurring to WMF must be resolved accordingly with any projects harmless or ties. Francis Kaswahili talk
13:20, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
I would not object to the WMF disseminaing content. Wikipedia Zero
can be seen as an effort to disseminate the content. On the other hand many affiliates finance their dissemination activities (e.g. workshop, conferences, editathons, etc.) via the Program and Event grants
or the Annual plan grants
of the Wikimedia Foundation. I do not see why this double role should be a concern.
The ambiguity probably rather lies in the term 'disseminate': The Foundation needs to keep the infrastructure running. I think that is the only WMF task that all would agree on. So the information currently assembled needs to be kept accessible, and it that sense the Foundation disseminates free educational content. The Foundation further needs to keep the editor communities happy. It needs to empower and engage communities: make them not feel alienated, welcome their contributions, hear their complaints. In that sense the Foundation is facilitating the process of disseminating knowledge, acknowledging that pure technical broadcast is too little a task if you have 50M US$ to spend every year.
Yes, I think the Wikimedia Foundation itself holds responsibility for disseminating free content effectively and globally. The Education Program or Wikipedia Zero come to mind as successful ways to do this. I particularly like the comment Phoebe has made about "not solely". It is a shared mission and a shared responsibility.
I understand the question, and it's actually an important and subtle point, especially as the WMF is working more aggressively on partnerships. I have always interpreted the mission, and I think the organization in general does as well, to mean direct but not sole responsibility. In other words, it is WMF's responsibility to keep the site up, certainly, but we should also pursue ways of getting free knowledge into the hands of more people, hence projects like Wikimedia Zero. But this is not our responsibility alone; we do this work with our community members, and thanks to the free license with anyone who wants to come up with innovative distribution techniques. Often these projects are great (Kiwix! OLPC!); occasionally they're not, but are still permitted (spam publishers). And sometimes -- here's the tricky bit -- it's ambivalent; what do we do about reusers that get lots of traffic, for instance, and may be following the license but drawing potential contributors away from Wikipedia? I think in that case the WMF's role can be to advocate on behalf of our projects and volunteers: to push for appropriate credit, following the license correctly, and adding methods for contributing back to Wikimedia, for instance.
Thanks! That's a fun question. I was checking the translation of the Mission in the languages available to me, and there it seems to lean towards empowering and engaging the people to disseminate the content, which is also, I think, the more ambitious version, and I lean towards that. I do not see much potential for conflict there, because it seems in the end to turn into a difference of priorities, not really in a difference of goals: using the Web as the prime mechanism to disseminate content in the first place is probably the only viable option today anyway.
The question now might be, is empowering people to disseminate the content on other means, to people and situations where the Web is not so readily accessible, is this also covered by the Mission statement? And I would say yes, absolutely. But the most important parts to achieve this goal are already core pillars of our movement: free licenses or public domain, and disseminating the content through the Web. Even if there would be a conflict in the sense that the Foundation would for some reason choose the other reading and regard disseminating content as it own exclusive mission instead of helping others to do so, the Foundation could not stop anyone from doing so thanks to our licensing choices. I think the right to fork, and the freedoms everyone enjoins with our content, are fundamental freedoms that ensure that the work of our contributors endures well beyond the life of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Wikimedia Foundation's mission is "to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content". So this is a supportive role and consistent with the history and scale of our Wikimedia movement. The Wikimedia movement is so huge that it will be beyond WMF's capacity if it alone decides to develop, collect and disseminate the content. However, as a movement entity, WMF can also take part in dissemination of content along with the community and other movement partners.
I opine both views are fit with the WMF behaviour. Ahmed Nisar
) 09:36, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
I would say both. The WMF should both disseminate our content themselves plus facilitate the dissemination of our content by others. We of course do currently do both now.
We make it easy for anyone to download and build upon our content by using open licenses. This for example has allowed the company Boundless.com to take Wikipedia content and turn it into 25 university level textbooks which are used by million.
We provide Wikipedia via our own website and work with cellphone companies to provide Wikipedia content through Wikipedia Zero. By letting go of control we facilitate innovation. Doc James
) 00:14, 15 May 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia's content is already ubiquitous. Since it is freely licensed, it will continue to be so. WMF needs to rededicate itself to building the best set of language encyclopedias possible, to make sure that content writers and quality control workers have the tools they need to do the job. WMF should also do what is possible to expand the core voluteer community with intelligent, thoughtful Wikipedians. Distribution of what is produced will take care of itself, as always... Carrite
) 00:26, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Direct but not exclusive responsibility. And a responsibility to distribute knowledge in a way that allows others to reuse and redistribute at will.
I agree with both views as fitting with the WMF nature.
Skills and capacities for working with others on the Board
I am concerned that certain current debates have the potential to threaten the Wikimedia enterprise as a whole, due to apparent divergence of opinions about the relevance of different frames of reference (us in relation to Facebook or Twitter; Board in relation to Editors; balance of focus on people vs. focus on technology for examples). Such tensions can become exacerbated by interpersonal conflicts related to personal style and manner of interactions. What skills and capacities would you bring to the Board that would help keep debates constructive and avoid avoidable conflict? What principles or outlooks do you think are necessary to keep current debates from driving the Wikimedia enterprise as a whole off the rails? Cclowe (talk) 01:46, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
If elected, I will try to modify the structure of the Wikimedia Foundation by enhancing the role of admins in taking decisions (The policies of wikis) about the policies of wikis and ameliorating the role of the Board in monitoring the committees (Control of the wikis and ameliorating the effect of wikis) . This will ameliorate the performance of WMF Board and will help to find consensus and avoid conflict. As for the principles I think that they are necessary to keep, the board should have the same structure as the one of nowadays and there should be some lifelong members like Jimmy Wales. This will help to give stability to WMF as sponsors and organizations can find a known person who can negociate long period projects with them. By that, these important supporting institutions would not be obliged to begin again everything each three years because of Board Changes and harm the future of WMF. --Csisc
) 19:21, 25 May 2015 (UTC)
I have experience both as a member and as a leader in different organizations. Even within our movement, when I was elected for the first term as the FDC chair, I (hopefully) was able to seek consensus and minimize tensions. A proof of that ability is that I was re-elected twice in this role (unanimously, if my memory does not fail me). I head a research center, I'm also a member of other advisory boards (including large organizations, as well as a the Scientific Policy Committee, where I was appointed by the Minister of Science). I have a personality trait that is useful in conflict: I rarely take offence, and I also do not bear grudges. I'm also highly result-oriented; I don't mind changing my mind if persuaded, or making concessions if the goal I perceive as right can still be achieved. As far as current debates are concerned, I think that even our Wikipedian principles (assuming good faith, forgiving and forgetting, etc.) could really help a lot on our mailing lists :) However, the fact that we, as a movement, appear to be really conflict-driven, does not necessarily signify conflicts of such high scale. In normal organizations people are afraid to speak up in fear of hierarchy, in our movement they speak much more freely - which may create an impression of a more antagonistic environment (while it also signifies egalitarian character of our organization).
I am a trained competitive debater (I in fact won the Philippine Schools Debate Championship
back in 2008), and one of the things that we are trained in is being graceful in engaging with others' points of view—something that I take very
seriously. I generally don't, and in the case of the Board I never
will, elevate tensions on the Board, as is the case with me elsewhere. It also helps that I have four siblings—three of whom are twenty years my junior—which should attest to my patience.
I have a very long history of working together with Wikimedians of different stripes: editors, administrators and persons in authority, people in affiliates, WMF employees and even the current Board of Trustees, and perhaps I should say that I am proud of the relationships that I have built with the movement's actors at large. I have never been blocked on any Wikimedia project, and people both within and outside the movement perceive me as being opinionated but gregarious and very friendly. I work easily with everyone, no matter how hard it is to work with them, and while I will push for my opinions, I will always listen to others first. In fact, at the closing ceremony of Wikimania 2011 I was heavily applauded when a video of me showed up on the screen. This attests to how I really try to be friends with everyone, and how I intend to work with the people I will interact with: always with respect, always with honesty, and always with kindness.
While I have gotten into lively debates with other Wikipedians, this has never descended into the usual wiki-drama that defines interaction between many Wikimedians, and I remain friends with the many Wikimedians I have interacted with over the years. I enjoy cooling down debates and putting them back on track, and this is really important when things get heated. The Board will strongly benefit from an added Asian perspective on corporate culture, where in negotiation we highly value honesty, consensus and patience rather than intimidation, restlessness and under-the-table dealing. At the same time though, we need to reinforce a Board culture where we work together to solve problems according to consensus, not fight one another to get what we want. --Sky Harbor (talk)
12:07, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
I have considerable experience of working a board level in areas where there has been potential for conflict (health trust boards, cross-party political committees [awarding grants, staff issues. etc.]), where I learnt by experience that conciliation and steering towards appropriate consensus is always feasible and practical. I have led multinational teams in development aid programmes. And i have run my own business with 150 employees from many different ethnic backgrounds. I have had my moments of wikidrama in the past and have I hope learnt from them. I believe my experience and approach will help me to play a very constructive part on the Foundation Board.--Smerus
) 13:58, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
The WMF as an organisation has a mission and vision for fulfillment of the founders dream and objectives, my experience will help to integrate with very administrable, encouragingly and lovely community, enabled community. I will make sure that our community are sharing and experiencing system at any level of academic and non academic very fairly. The WMF need a some one standing for expanding experiences, integration, stability, sustainability and knowledgeably. but this perception need two important things which is transparent and accountability. Francis Kaswahili talk
19:08, 21 May 2015 (UTC).
I'm analytic to a degree that I can drive people crazy. In complex debates this can help concentrating on the target. I further have a lot of experience steering difficult debates and getting something constructive out of them. I'll be happy to offer my services in this regard. Regarding current debates, people need to be able to let go, at least for a while. Let the flames die down, think of what little impact the current debate has in the theatre of world history, and move on. If after some months the topic comes back in mind, check if you can make a positive impact. If you can win the fight, put it up. If not, wait a little longer.
I think an important characteristic when you work with any group of people is empathy. Not only towards those you work with, even if you disagree, but in this case with the people who would be affected by the decisions. Having the ability to consider multiple points of view and sometimes competing needs is a must. Listening comes into play here. Being able to listen to different views (and not interrupting), even be able to be persuaded by them, helps the group be more effective. Personally, I like to challenge assumptions. I have a varied experienced as a volunteer, as an editor of potential contentious topics (LGBT), as an admin, as a contributor to sister projects, as a chapter person, as a Board member, etc, so I don't tend to accept things at face value: I try to add extra angles for discussion. Not everything is English Wikipedia, not everything is Wikipedia, not all chapters are similar, etc. You get the idea. I tried to add different perspectives. It helps that I am a very analytical type of person, so it is easy for me to hear other viewpoints and then try to combine them. And if in the end the arguments do not persuade me, I coherently vote no. The key thing is that everything is done with respect. We can disagree on the path to take to fulfill the mission, but we cannot doubt that everyone wants the best for the WMF, projects and editors: otherwise we are doomed to fail. I think the more diverse the group, the better the decision-making, especially in our very international ecosystem.
Thanks for the question. This is important: a diverse group weighing the interests of an even more diverse body of volunteers is bound to have differences in perspective and disagreements.
I think that working with others is one of my great strengths on the board: I am quite good at helping us discuss issues fully, considering alternate points of view, and coming to resolution and consensus. I speak my mind but also try to speak for people not at the table, and do a lot of facilitation to make sure everyone is heard. I am also totally willing to change my mind in response to arguments (and do!), which I think is an important quality. I bring Wikipedian values of consensus and openness, combined with an awareness that we have limited time, scope and energy to work on issues.
The board aims for consensus, but a few years ago decided we didn't need to aim for perfect consensus -- a few people voting "no" is sometimes OK, versus spending many more weeks trying to hammer out an unhappy consensus or compromise. During this shift in attitude we had a few split votes that were divisive and uncomfortable; one has been highlighted by other questioners. At this point, though, I think we've come to a happy medium: we aim for consensus, not split votes, but occasionally someone will want to oppose an issue for various reasons, and that is fine. Typically when this happens though we have spent enough time in the consensus process that everyone has agreed the majority outcome is OK (if not ideal). I have helped with many of these discussions, and I think what we have now is good. The current board works well together, but it has taken some time to get there.
I've also volunteered over my four years on the board to be the public face of a number of heated issues [by posting emails, replying to comments, etc.], some of which issues I believed in strongly and some of which simply needed someone to step up. Doing this has required working with and trusting my fellow trustees in a deep way, and being deeply open to community discussion as well.
In other areas, I use the same techniques and qualities in endless committees and projects at work. As a Wikipedian, I've been editing [and running events and real-life activities] for over ten years with no disagreements becoming serious disputes.
I grew up with siblings. And I have about 40 cousins. I certainly learned a lot about interacting with others while I grew up :) In school and in university, I participated in student's politics and newspapers. I am known to be a friendly person - and yet, I usually reach consensus on common goals.
I have been an active Wikipedian longer than any other candidate, and in all that time, I never got blocked. I never had to deal with ArbCom or the German Schiedsgericht. At my first job after university, I was elected to be the person of trust for several years in a row, the go-to person of my colleagues when they had problems with anyone else, and I would usually resolve these issues. I secured the donations for Wikidata, hired and lead the team, and we deployed Wikidata without much drama. We listened to and engaged in conversations with the communities.
I know quite a few people working at the Foundation, at the chapters, many Wikimedia contributors on various projects, and also quite a few of the other candidates and other Board members, and communicate with many of them rather regularly and always with respect, if not even friendship. I have been in the middle of very heated debates - my home wiki was the Croatian Wikipedia, after all - and on the Board, I expect us to have very lively debates among Board members, and then, with a unified voice, with the Executive Director, with the communities, with the other organizations of the Wikimedia universe, and outside, but I have learned how to turn heated fights into effective and productive conversations towards a consensus, and I think I can contribute a lot towards keeping Wikimedia as a whole and not derailing it from its vision.
People skills are necessary to work with a group in a constructive way and avoid interpersonal conflicts. If I am elected for the Board, I will emphasis on building relationships of trust, respect and productive interactions. In my profession, I have been engaging and working with many people from the beginning of my career. At present, I am heading a department in my company where engaging, managing and interacting with people is one of the most critical part of my job. So, I have developed my people skills to a high level and always look for continuous improvements. In the Wikimedia movement, I am a founder member of Wikimedia Bangladesh Chapter and servicing as its Treasurer since the beginning. I am one of the active board members who devise and implement the strategic decisions for the Chapter. In addition, I have been a member of Wikimedia Foundation’s Funds Dissemination Committee for 3 years and was elected its Vice Chair for 2 terms. I believe I made some contribution to the Funds Dissemination Committee on its becoming an efficient, effective and consensus driven committee.
I have been involved in many heated discussion. The key; however, is to clearly define the issue and have the discussion. We have run into issues when decisions are made without sufficient discussion.
One requirement for board members should be an ability to facility effective conversions among the members of the movement. I believe that I have shown this ability through such discussions as our welcoming Wikivoyage as a Wikimedia sister site and my involvement in Wikiproject Medicine.
I additionally see an analytical mind as being critical. We must make decisions based on small scale experimentation followed by analysis of their effects. Only once we have favorable results should we proceed to wider rollout of major changes. Doc James
) 08:38, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
Anyone that stays around for any length of time at Wikipedia is apt to develop skills for dealing with disagreements with others. Those who don't tend to leave in frustration or to be banned off eventually, or else they work monomaniacally on their little topic in their own little world. The big rift that needs to be healed is between the volunteer editing community and between the professional, paid staff in San Francisco — between those who produce and maintain content and those who create and maintain the tools for that effort. There is a new sheriff in town in San Francisco and there have been a number of promising and conciliatory steps made that indicate that the bureaucratic hubris of the past may be at an end and that a new partnership can be forged. I look forward to helping to make this happen. Ultimately both groups are in the same boat and it makes no sense paddling in opposite directions. Carrite
) 03:43, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
Diversity and scope
Hi! Thanks for volunteering as a candidate for the Wikimedia Board. I have two questions. This one is about diversity and scope. Various projects by various Chapters and individuals had been funded during the last few years. I would like to ask you about your opinion on their diversity.
- What do you see as the key problems or challenges in the distribution of funding?
- What would you say about the past and current projects language diversity?
- Would you say that smaller wikis are adequately funded?
- What is your impression on these projects breadth of impact (as opposed to depth, seeing every project complete)?
- What do you think about funding of work on the wiki software? Would it be better to decentralise the wiki software development and do it with active participation of Chapters and individuals instead of being centralised around the WMF Engineering Team, or would such change make it worse?
Please take a moment to pick any relevant points from the above and comment, and ignore the ones which are less important. Thanks. --Gryllida 01:56, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Houcemeddine Turki (Csisc
The main challenges in attributing grants is to set priorities... I meant that the grants should be given to the project that renders more benefits in short moments. However, as assessing this fact can only be subjective, the decision of FDC cannot be conventional at all. That is why I think that creating a council of admins for each wiki will be efficient in giving a conventional overview of the priorities of the community of wiki and by that obtaining conventional criteria to assess grant proposals.
As for language diversity, I think that the language committee had done an excellent work those years. There is even a linguistic project called Crudaban that is using the available data for the endangered languages supported by Incubator in creating a corpus for them. more than 286 languages are supported nowadays by WMF Incubator... This didn't exist in the past... However, the existence of this great quantity does not mean quality... Many of the languages supported are not standardized and this can cause some important problems within the projects created in these languages...
As for the small WMF wikis, it is normal that smaller wikis are not funded as important wikis because Wikimedia Foundation is not obliged to spend money on failing projects. Wikimedia Foundation supports only the wikis that are bettering the overview of the movement of wiki.
If smaller wikis would like to be efficiently funded, their communities have to work more to ameliorate their output and effect.
As for the support for wiki software, I think that this is an excellent idea. Inspiring ideas from new contributors from all over the world will give the structure of wikis more adaptability to societies. For example, developers from India will add some tools to the software that let it adapted to all Indian People... --Csisc
) 16:18, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Good and difficult set of questions. As the chair of the FDC for three terms, I can tell you that your first question does not really have an easy answer to. The major problem is that in our current model we sometimes really are not certain what organizations, applying for funding, really want to achieve. There is often lack of precision in projects. One of the things I would like to change as a Board member would be changes in the FDC process. For instance, I think it would be really reasonable for larger budgets to allow more bi-directional discussion with the applying organizations. Ideally, the FDC (which is a community-driven body) should be able to hold 1-2 video conferences with the applicants, to allow for good understanding of strategy, project, etc. Another problem in the distribution of funding (and I will add just this one, but trust me, there are many others) is that small organizations, with grass-root model of functioning and mainly activist-driven are, in fact, undergoing the same detailed and difficult process of funding within the FDC as large, professional chapters. In my view, if you're applying for 50 thousand USD, you should not write as detailed proposal as an organization applying for 1 million. This is another thing I would like to change as a Board member (a part of my larger agenda to reduce bureaucracy
). A more major problem, irrespective of funding itself, is the fact that we, as a movement, lack mechanisms for exchange of great ideas and best practices. There are wonderful projects all around the world, that barely anyone (except the FDC members, frankly) even knows about. About the smaller wikis
, I think that smaller chapters need to have a much simplified process of funding application. But your question is wider, pertaining also to wikis, and not chapters - and here I also believe that smaller wikis do not receive enough priority. It is not just about the size of a project, but also about language diversity: en-wiki receives a lot of tools, which could then be propagated to other wikis at a fraction of development cost, but aren't. ProveIt or Twinkle, extremely useful tools for years available on en-wiki, are just but two examples of things that should have been propagated to smaller wikis years ago. Unfortunately, there is a huge bias against non-English projects, and an apparent lack of balance in diversity (suffice to say, several of WMF attempts to learn from e.g. arbitration processes focused on en-wiki functionaries only, etc.). Breadth of impact
: I'm not certain what you mean there. I think that projects develop at their own pace and it is up to the communities to prioritize between depth or width (both are needed, e.g. Swedish Wikipedia developed a huge number of articles by bots, and they proved really useful). Decentralization
of software development is something that worked really well with WikiData and that I would like to see more. It would also help to address the language bias. However, some core development should be done by WMF engineering team.
These questions are very important given the diversity-oriented focus of this election, and I will answer this point-by-point.
- On funding distribution: Particularly in developing countries with existing affiliates, there is the perception that WMF funding is out of reach. Users in these areas who would strongly benefit from WMF funding either don't know that they exist, or they aren't equipped with the skill set required to write grant applications. We need to be more proactive with actually offering available funding for our users to avail of in order to pursue meaningful programmatic work, even lowering barriers to entry so that there would be a greater incentive to apply.
- On language diversity: The fact that we have 280+ languages is a very good thing as it shows that we are committed to empowering communities throughout the world to share and spread information in their own languages. I believe however that Wikimedia is also an effective tool for language preservation: smaller languages that may only have thousands of speakers, for example, may still find our projects useful in preserving information in their own tongues, and we need to enable that whether through changing the language proposal policy or enabling the creation of content that is not necessarily limited to Wikipedia or, alternatively, Wiktionary and Wikisource. (The latter is especially the case for oral cultures.)
- On funding of smaller wikis: If we're talking about funding as in keeping the servers running, then yes, they are well-funded. However, growing smaller wikis entails more than just spending on server space. We need to invest in growing our editor communities—something that we still fail in. We need to invest in enabling those communities to generate content—something we're also still failing in. We also need to invest in understanding these communities better so that we know which community building process would work best for them. While we're seeing some traction in studying our communities (mostly through private efforts), we're not there just yet. If anything, funding for the communities that run our smaller wikis is still inadequate, as I pointed earlier.
- On breadth of impact: This is actually one area where we're doing really well, whether that be through ensuring that more people in the developing world get access to Wikipedia Zero, or we enable the impactful work of affiliates in some of the regions of the world that need this support the most. But this is something that the Foundation can't do alone, and so it must take the appropriate action to allow for a wider dissemination of the projects. Certainly in terms of depth and coverage, this is something that is also enabled by investing in breadth.
- On software development: I agree that Foundation-led software development has a mixed track record, but this is something that can be resolved through enabling our communities to once again give meaningful input on software development, if not developing tools outright, just like the olden days. However, the Foundation can and should play a role in overseeing how our software architecture serves the best interests of readers, working with editing communities who know the best interests of editors, and working to make sure that we meet halfway.
I hope these have answered your questions. :) --Sky Harbor (talk)
04:30, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
Key questions to which I am not yet sufficiently informed to give answers. I would certainly wish to use my position on the Board to review the evidence base (and to examine the quality of that evidence base) so as to help make appropriate decisions on these issues, but I don't come to the task with any prejudices and it would be wrong for me at present to set out a programme of priorities without having access to a full background.--Smerus
) 14:05, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you very much Gryllida
for your question but as a human being I can’t challenge the current system for avoiding biasness for all questions. The board work through documentation and synoptic chart to lead on principals, my perceptions of the board sanctions is unity and utility whatever you have mandated constitutionally, it’s very importance to consider on integration and that’s why we had elected the FDC committee all those elected are competent if happen that I have been elected as a board member I will convince my colleagues member to work on your questions and all of them it will taken as one of challenges to our administrations. Francis Kaswahili talk
19:48, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
- Funding: WMF needs to take a proactive position towards funding: Of course it is nice to wait for activists to write grant applications, but for the key questions, both in research and in engineering, solutions need to be actively solicited by the WMF. I don't see that happening in the current situation, and I would wish that to be more en vogue.
- Language diversity: I wouldn't like to see the Foundation encroach further on the resuscitation of dying languages. That's far beyond its mission. Suppose we had the major areas of knowledge covered in a few 'world languages', it would be easy to translate that. However, there are currently many languages where there is a sustainably large speaker base. For some reasons there is no editor base in these languages, content is being supplied by expatriates, tourists, and students of ethnology and anthropology. We need to ask the question why this is happening, or, as a Board member hopeful, we need to ask that question to academics that have a track record of answering such riddles, be they Wikimedians or not, and we need to develop incentives to answer them.
- Funding of smaller projects: From my perspective smaller projects lack active editors more than money. Heck, even of English Wikipedia, surely the flagship of our movement, we have no idea if it is possible to convert a non-contributor into an editor by means of outreach, barnstars, Tea House, and whatnot. The ethnology of Wikimedia contributors needs to be investigated.
- Breadth of impact: Many local-language projects in my region have no impact at all. This is of course a vicious circle: Below a certain amount of articles a project is not useful because one generally would not find what one was looking for. For Wikivoyage or Wikiquote that number might be a few thousand, for Wikipedia it is probably much more. To form a community that puts up this initial work is challenging, even more so as editors want to get some recognition out of their donated spare time. I think the Foundation can do a lot more to give local activists some form of official recognition (Something like "This person is WikiX's representative for country Y", with business cards, appointment letter, and the like) that they could use to spread the word.
- Wiki software: Respectfully, the Engineering team has developed a rather shaky track record. I see a lot of changes recently under the new Executive Director, but we still need to ask the question whether putting software projects on tender would not actually be cheaper than developing everything in-house. As an open content project, Wikimedia should be supported by the free/open source developer communities, something that is currently not happening. This needs to be investigated, and ties to that community need to be developed, strengthened, funded.
This is a great set of questions, with as usual good answers from fellow candidates as well. In this area, I would certainly want to hear from colleagues at the WMF and on the FDC and other granting committees, since many of these questions (especially what are the key challenges) can be best answered by those working on distribution directly. That said:
- I think the biggest challenges are related to getting a pipeline of good, fundable ideas and the people to make them happen, and to distributing those funds in a way that is both effective (measurable things happen that benefit Wikimedia projects as a result of the funding) and non-bureaucratic (it's easy to apply and receive grants). I am very much in favor of micro-grant programs with very little paperwork associated, for instance. Overall we know that money does not fix everything: money is not a motivator for most editors, for instance. So what can funding do that is effective? We need to really focus on the question of "what is money good for in our movement", and then apply it appropriately.
- We need more language diversity, absolutely, both in applications (i.e. global diversity of applicants) and in types of projects: I would love to see more proposed translation and recruitment projects in minority languages, for instance. This is a huge and needed area, and one where I think there's a lot of opportunity for partnerships. I would love to see us working closely with native-language organizations, for instance. Often their knowledge and publications should be free, but they may not know how to make this happen; we can help. I want to see us work with language teachers and students all over the world, too. There are many such small-scale partnerships where a granting program could aid individual projects through existing granting mechanisms, whether it's buying a scanner or funding a volunteer to work in classrooms.
- This is a tricky question because I think we need to reconsider small-wiki lifecycles in general. Historically I think we've assumed that small wikis would get bigger organically: that more content would attract contributors, which would attract other contributors. Is that true? We've had many projects that have been dormant or stagnant for many years, and it's not clear what will kickstart growth. Are the big wikis anomalies? I think we need to do more intensive research, both in terms of academic research into growth patterns and in terms of surveying contributors about what they need, to answer this question fully. That said, this is related to languages: I think we can imagine lots of amazing translation and recruitment work that might need funding to get off the ground (I'm thinking of things like the WikiAfrica contests, or Mayalam outreach work, for instance). And in general, if a small wiki does want to have a project funded, I think we should absolutely prioritize it. This is a crucial area for removing the bureaucracy around grants; if we can only make grants accessible to English speakers with a tolerance for paperwork, we won't serve our whole movement.
- I think in terms of breadth we've only scratched the surface; we could be much more collaborative with other organizations (even our own sister projects!) and much more imaginative in the types of programs we fund. There is a point of tension right now over whether we fund types of projects that have worked elsewhere, or whether we try new things. Both are important, of course, but I very much do not want to see the FDC, IEG, et al penalize entities trying brand-new ideas that may fail. We all have to be bold enough to try new things.
- I'd love to see decentralized technical development; the challenge is breaking out pieces that can be worked on separately without causing a huge overhead in code review, adoption, etc. But: absolutely these projects exist, and I think if we can have shared to-do lists of tasks and wanted tools, building these is a great role for groups and individuals doing development outside the WMF.
I choose to answer all your questions, but will try to keep the answers short. I hope that is fine.
- Key challenges in funding distribution: I think we are still at the beginning of figuring out Funding distribution. The FDC, the GAC, the IEG - they all need to be evaluated, and we also need to experiment further, in order to find the most effective ways to use the available funds. The key challenge for the Board will be to find an evaluation method to compare the outcomes of the different programs.
- Language diversity: The language diversity is one of the most fascinating and miraculous aspects of the Wikimedia movement. Supporting 280+ languages is just an insane goal - and yet, we are doing it. I don't want to speak for the Language Committee - because it is ultimately their decision - but I hope to see them continue their open approach towards language diversity. But we also need to honestly think and discuss what the goals for many of these languages can and should be.
- Funding smaller wikis: The Board should not engage in funding specific projects or languages. We have more than 70 chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups. I think these are the right channels to fund these projects, and it is often the case that we do not lack funding, but actual ideas and proposals to be funded. Having said that, there is important centralized work to be done in language engineering and multilingual content creation from which the smaller languages could benefit especially well. But this would not be funding in order to support any specific wiki, but rather to support the whole ecosystem.
- Breadth of impact opposed to depth: I don't think that breadth of impact can be achieved without sufficient depth. It is pretty clear that a Wikipedia in Cherokee with its 600 articles cannot have the impact we would hope it to have. We have to make the contributors working on the Cherokee Wikipedia much more effective.. What we also need to figure out is which languages would have the most impact if supported, i.e. which languages do we need to support better in order to unlock the sum of all knowledge for every human. I heard that the Language Committee has such a knowledge base, and I recently (actually, just the day before yesterday) asked a member about that, and I am looking forward to the answer.
- Decentralized development: Considering my role in Wikidata, which is easily the most prominent chapter-lead software development project, I know that many software projects can be successfully developed without centralizing all the development effort in San Francisco. With my experience I would support the Foundation in continuing to decentralize more and more of its development effort.
One of the major problems of our Wikimedia movement is that, lion’s share of the movement resources are spent on the Global North and proportionate of resources spent on Global South is very nominal. However, the problem will not be solved just by increasing the amount of spending on Global South. There is no doubt that smaller wikis and language communities are not adequately funded and it should be increased. But we may not get the desired result if we cannot effectively engage, activate and mobilize those communities. This is a major challenge for the Wikimedia movement because without the growth of activated and inspired communities, increased spending in Global South would not bring any positive result. So I would emphasis on changing the approach for engaging the growing communities alongside changing the funding model for smaller communities. On software development, I believe some level of decentralization is necessary. WMF engineering team should lead the effort but at the same time, WMF should ensure that the larger community is also involved in the software development process.
We need to be careful with funding. The psychological literature is fairly consistent that intrinsic motivation is more powerful / effective than extrinsic motivation. Wikipedia has succeeded based on thousands of hours of volunteer effort. We need to make sure these volunteers are heard and supported rather than paid. And in fact attempting to pay volunteers could possibly destroy the movement.
The WMF does not have a huge amount of money. What they raise in a year would be barely sufficient to run my small emergency department. We need to be careful how we spend the little money we have, making sure that (1) it goes to what the movement see as most important (2) we apply due diligence and verify that projects are having an effect
None of the wikis are adequately funded as we give away what we produce for free. Thus this poor state of funding is unlikely to change. I view language as key and thus one of my major efforts is to improve medical content in as many other languages as possible throught the Translation Task Force.
We have already had large successes that organizations a hundred times our size have not been able to match. We at Wikipedia for example have Ebola content in more than 110 languages and our content was the top viewed source in the three countries most affected countries in Western Africa.
With respect to software development, we definitely need to expand the number of people involved. More than the nuts and bolts of writing code thought we need to expand the involvement of the community in determining the direction the software is taking. Doc James
) 09:08, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
Wikimedia Foundation has lots of money, the donations of hundreds of thousands of readers around the globe. It has not achieved adequate returns on its various investments. WMF has failed to do adequate research into editor demographics and needs. It has failed to connect needs of editors with software development. It has failed to significantly improve the default reading experience of users. It has failed to consistently develop high quality software in an unobtrusive manner. It has spent millions and millions of dollars on various user groups around the world without receiving much of anything in return in terms of development of the encyclopedia or the editing base.
So here are some slogans that I will push:
- Survey, survey, survey. Then listen, listen, listen.
- Spend money on things that work. Don't spend money on things that don't work.
- San Francisco exists to serve the community, not the other way around.
The whole notion of smaller wikis "needing" to be funded I find to be offensive. We are volunteers. We need to defund certain institutions, not replicate the same errors on a smaller scale. Carrite
) 17:46, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Hello Gryllida! Small languages and projects are generally not adequately supported. The WMF recognizes this, but hasn't yet fixed it.
Rather than identifying the long-term value of a project to our mission, and encouraging many different groups to support and realize that goal, our movement (largely the WMF, but others taking leads from it) currently waits for proposals and judges them on how they are written. The recent Inspire Campaign is a counterexample where a specific focus was encouraged, but that was quite small compared to the bulk of project support and funding. We tend to focus support on institutions and organizations, because they have the capacity to ask for funds and write proposals. Most awesome community projects that stall, in comparison (stats.grok.se comes to mind), need very little to make them more successful: but the organizers usually may not be interested in filling out forms and reports or asking for specific help.
Many of the great improvements to collaborative tools (including wiki tools but not limited to that) have come from distributed development. We should dedicate much more energy to highlighting and supporting this work: with strong support for the non-wm MediaWiki community, reviewing patches within days, helping community devs find interesting problems to tackle, and helping great ideas find external partners and sponsors.