Board statement regarding biographies of living people

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Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Michael Snow-3
As I mentioned in my previous message, the Board of Trustees prepared a
statement at its meeting related to biographies of living people. It
touches on the major considerations in this issue, but also how this
relates to our fundamental objectives. The statement was unanimously
approved by the board. The text of the statement follows:

The Wikimedia Foundation takes this opportunity to reiterate some core
principles related to our shared vision, mission, and values. One of
these values which is common to all our projects is a commitment to
maintaining a neutral point of view.

In our efforts to offer a source of knowledge that is valuable and
useful to all, we have a responsibility to uphold these values by also
providing accurate information. Participants in Wikimedia projects have
created resources of vast size and scope. As we have emphasized for
several years, in addition to the quantity of knowledge that is
available, its quality is also an essential matter. The generally high
quality of information in Wikimedia projects has been confirmed by a
number of studies, but it is important that we always strive to improve.
As with any endeavor that provides educational and informational
material, errors need to be avoided, especially when they have the
potential to cause harm. One area where this applies is when writing
about living people.

Increasingly, Wikimedia articles are among the top search engine results
for just about any query. That means that when a potential employer, a
colleague, friend, neighbor or acquaintance looks for information about
a person, they may find it at the Wikimedia sites. As the popularity of
the Wikimedia projects grows, so does the editing community's
responsibility to ensure articles about living people are
neutrally-written, accurate and well-sourced.

As our popularity has grown, some issues have become more prominent:

* Many people create articles that are overly promotional in tone: about
themselves, people they admire, or those they are paid to represent.
These are not neutral, and have no place in our projects. Generally, the
Wikimedia community protects the projects well against this common
problem by deleting or improving hagiographies.
* People sometimes vandalize articles about living people. The Wikimedia
community has developed tools and techniques for counteracting
vandalism: in general they seem to work reasonably well.
* Some articles about living people contain small errors, are
poorly-written or poorly-sourced. Articles about people who are only
marginally well-known are often neglected, and tend to improve much more
slowly over time, if at all.
* People sometimes make edits designed to smear others. This is
difficult to identify and counteract, particularly if the malicious
editor is persistent.

The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees urges the global Wikimedia
community to uphold and strengthen our commitment to high-quality,
accurate information, by:

1) Ensuring that projects in all languages that describe living people
have policies in place calling for special attention to the principles
of neutrality and verifiability in those articles;

2) Taking human dignity and respect for personal privacy into account
when adding or removing information, especially in articles of ephemeral
or marginal interest;

3) Investigating new technical mechanisms to assess edits, particularly
when they affect living people, and to better enable readers to report
problems;

4) Treating any person who has a complaint about how they are described
in our projects with patience, kindness, and respect, and encouraging
others to do the same.

--Michael Snow


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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

thekohser
Says Michael Snow:

The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees urges the global Wikimedia
community to uphold and strengthen our commitment to high-quality,
accurate information

++++++

So, the "community" is urged to do this work at the request of the Board,
but the
Board itself is going to do virtually nothing (other than this collection of
words
that urges the community to work harder) to strengthen the commitment to
high-quality, accurate information.

How many Board members were in attendance in Berlin, and what was the mean
travel distance of the Board attendees for this excursion?

--
Gregory Kohs
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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Thomas Dalton
2009/4/22 Gregory Kohs <[hidden email]>:

> Says Michael Snow:
>
> The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees urges the global Wikimedia
> community to uphold and strengthen our commitment to high-quality,
> accurate information
>
> ++++++
>
> So, the "community" is urged to do this work at the request of the Board,
> but the
> Board itself is going to do virtually nothing (other than this collection of
> words
> that urges the community to work harder) to strengthen the commitment to
> high-quality, accurate information.

Basically, yes. Content has always been the responsibility of the community.

> How many Board members were in attendance in Berlin, and what was the mean
> travel distance of the Board attendees for this excursion?

This was far from the only thing they did while in Berlin. Their
schedule was even more crowded than that of the Chapters'
representatives, and I found the chapters meeting the most exhausting
thing I've ever done.

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

thekohser
In reply to this post by thekohser
Am I on moderation?

On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 9:23 AM, Gregory Kohs <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Says Michael Snow:
>
> The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees urges the global Wikimedia
> community to uphold and strengthen our commitment to high-quality,
> accurate information
>
> ++++++
>
> So, the "community" is urged to do this work at the request of the Board,
> but the
> Board itself is going to do virtually nothing (other than this collection
> of words
> that urges the community to work harder) to strengthen the commitment to
> high-quality, accurate information.
>
> How many Board members were in attendance in Berlin, and what was the mean
> travel distance of the Board attendees for this excursion?
>
> --
> Gregory Kohs
>
>
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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

David Gerard-2
2009/4/22 Gregory Kohs <[hidden email]>:

> Am I on moderation?


Not that I can see. Your previous email came through OK. However, note
that even if you tell it to, Gmail will *not* show you a copy of
messages you sent to a list. This is, apparently, for your comfort and
convenience.

If you're not sure if a message made it through, checking the archive
page is useful (though it doesn't update instantly and can sometimes
have a delay of hours).


- d.

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Paul Williams-13
On 4/22/09, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Gmail will *not* show you a copy of
> messages you sent to a list. This is, apparently, for your comfort and
> convenience.


I have never noticed this one before... my messages always appear!

Regards,

Paul Williams
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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

David Gerard-2
2009/4/23 Paul Williams <[hidden email]>:
> On 4/22/09, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> Gmail will *not* show you a copy of
>> messages you sent to a list. This is, apparently, for your comfort and
>> convenience.

> I have never noticed this one before... my messages always appear!


Yeah, they're showing you the copy you sent - not the copy as received
back from the server. There's a FAQ about this.


- d.

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Domas Mituzas
In reply to this post by thekohser
Hi!

Sorry for late answer - I visited the offline world (it had awesome  
mountains with snowcaps, sky-blue oceans and tulip fields ;-)

> So, the "community" is urged to do this work at the request of the  
> Board,
> but the
> Board itself is going to do virtually nothing (other than this  
> collection of
> words
> that urges the community to work harder) to strengthen the  
> commitment to
> high-quality, accurate information.

Do note, exercising any kind of authority over community is very  
strong step.
Board does not rule the community, we work on facilitating the  
community.

> How many Board members were in attendance in Berlin, and what was  
> the mean
> travel distance of the Board attendees for this excursion?


I have difficulty seeing why this question is important, but can sure  
answer it, just let me clarify a bit.

excursion |ɪkˈskəːʃ(ə)n| |ɛk-|noun
1 a short journey or trip, esp. one engaged in as a leisure activity

I really cannot classify any of board meetings as 'leisure' - they're  
usually quite intense days (don't forget the jetlag our global  
commitments bring in :)
In this particular trip the agenda was combined with chapters meeting  
agenda, tech team meetings, also meeting local communities.
I cannot call it leisure, it is way more intense than my day job (oh,  
and vacation time is used ;-)

By using such words you seem to be antagonizing the organization and  
the work that is being done, and therefore either you're a troll, or  
you just genuinely do not understand the work everyone around is  
doing, and see just your own agenda.

Anyway, back to the Berlin meeting. Average travel distance for board  
members was (pardon the metric) ~5000km (for three members it was  
below 1000km) - and whole board was attending the meeting.
Sometimes meetings involve meeting quite some staff, as their feedback  
is extremely valuable in certain topics too, so usually meetings  
happen in SF.
In this case, as I mentioned above, nearly (over?) 100 community  
members were met overall - so if we'd include that, the mean travel  
distance would be way way lower - and the value of the meeting was  
extremely high.

I hope this satisfies your curiosity, and also I hope next time you'll  
be more polite and careful picking your words. Thanks! :)

BR,
--
Domas Mituzas -- http://dammit.lt/ -- [[user:midom]]



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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Thomas Dalton
2009/4/30 Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>:
> In this case, as I mentioned above, nearly (over?) 100 community
> members were met overall - so if we'd include that, the mean travel
> distance would be way way lower - and the value of the meeting was
> extremely high.

I believe there were about 50 chapters people about about 100 devs.
I'm not sure why the mean travel distance would be lower if you
include everyone - there were people from all around the world there,
many having travelled further than the average board member.

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Domas Mituzas
Thomas,

> I believe there were about 50 chapters people about about 100 devs.
> I'm not sure why the mean travel distance would be lower if you
> include everyone - there were people from all around the world there,
> many having travelled further than the average board member.


Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it  
shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this  
"excursion".

Cheers,
--
Domas Mituzas -- http://dammit.lt/ -- [[user:midom]]



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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Thomas Dalton
2009/4/30 Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>:

> Thomas,
>
>> I believe there were about 50 chapters people about about 100 devs.
>> I'm not sure why the mean travel distance would be lower if you
>> include everyone - there were people from all around the world there,
>> many having travelled further than the average board member.
>
>
> Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it
> shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this
> "excursion".

Every single chapter was represented by at least one person - I was
extremely impressed by that.

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of livingpeople

Sue Gardner
I agree that the turnout was impressive, and I was also impressed that many of the wealthier chapters helped to fund travel for the less-wealthy.

I was also amazed by the volunteer devs, many of whom travelled long distances on their own dime (e.g., Aude, and many others).  I've spoken with Brion, and if it would help the devs to have some form of subsidy for their travel, or some form of other support, the Wikimedia Foundation would be happy to help next year.

It was all really great :-)
Sue


-----Original Message-----
From: Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>

Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 18:12:11
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List<[hidden email]>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Board statement regarding biographies of living
        people


2009/4/30 Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>:

> Thomas,
>
>> I believe there were about 50 chapters people about about 100 devs.
>> I'm not sure why the mean travel distance would be lower if you
>> include everyone - there were people from all around the world there,
>> many having travelled further than the average board member.
>
>
> Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it
> shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this
> "excursion".

Every single chapter was represented by at least one person - I was
extremely impressed by that.

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Anthony-73
In reply to this post by Domas Mituzas
On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:10 PM, Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>wrote:

> Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it
> shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this
> "excursion".


But yet you can't classify it as "leisure"?
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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Alex Zaddach
Anthony wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:10 PM, Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>wrote:
>
>> Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it
>> shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this
>> "excursion".
>
>
> But yet you can't classify it as "leisure"?

It may not be for the board members, but I imagine for the volunteer
developers and other community members who had few or no real
commitments it was.

--
Alex (wikipedia:en:User:Mr.Z-man)

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Michael Bimmler
On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:15 PM, Alex <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Anthony wrote:
>> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:10 PM, Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>wrote:
>>
>>> Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it
>>> shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this
>>> "excursion".
>>
>>
>> But yet you can't classify it as "leisure"?
>
> It may not be for the board members, but I imagine for the volunteer
> developers and other community members who had few or no real
> commitments it was.
>
>

I'm not sure why you regard the commitments a chapter board member has
towards his/her chapter as less real or less serious than the
commitments a WMF board member or staff employee has towards the WMF.
Really, this was not a wiki-meetup...

Michael


--
Michael Bimmler
[hidden email]

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Alex Zaddach
Michael Bimmler wrote:

> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:15 PM, Alex <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Anthony wrote:
>>> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:10 PM, Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>wrote:
>>>
>>>> Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it
>>>> shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this
>>>> "excursion".
>>>
>>> But yet you can't classify it as "leisure"?
>> It may not be for the board members, but I imagine for the volunteer
>> developers and other community members who had few or no real
>> commitments it was.
>>
>>
>
> I'm not sure why you regard the commitments a chapter board member has
> towards his/her chapter as less real or less serious than the
> commitments a WMF board member or staff employee has towards the WMF.
> Really, this was not a wiki-meetup...
>

I'm not sure why you feel the need to read more into my comment than was
there. It was a short comment, so I thought a short reply would be
adequate. My apologies for not researching and specifically mentioning
every group that was at the event.

--
Alex (wikipedia:en:User:Mr.Z-man)

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Alex Zaddach
2009/4/30 Alex <[hidden email]>:

> Anthony wrote:
>> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:10 PM, Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>wrote:
>>
>>> Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it
>>> shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this
>>> "excursion".
>>
>>
>> But yet you can't classify it as "leisure"?
>
> It may not be for the board members, but I imagine for the volunteer
> developers and other community members who had few or no real
> commitments it was.

Without any hyperbole, I can tell you I have never in my life been as
exhausted as I was when I got home from Berlin. It was fascinating,
enjoyable, productive, worthwhile, interesting and all kinds of other
positive adjectives, but leisurely, it was not!

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Re: Board statement regarding biographies of livingpeople

Pharos-3
In reply to this post by Sue Gardner
On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:25 PM, Sue Gardner <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I agree that the turnout was impressive, and I was also impressed that many of the wealthier chapters helped to fund travel for the less-wealthy.
>
> I was also amazed by the volunteer devs, many of whom travelled long distances on their own dime (e.g., Aude, and many others).  I've spoken with Brion, and if it would help the devs to have some form of subsidy for their travel, or some form of other support, the Wikimedia Foundation would be happy to help next year.

I would like to support this too.  Devs like Aude can be be a real
asset in jumpstarting chapters activities as well, as she has shown
with her great organizing work in Washington DC.

Thanks,
Pharos

> It was all really great :-)
> Sue
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>
>
> Date: Thu, 30 Apr 2009 18:12:11
> To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List<[hidden email]>
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Board statement regarding biographies of living
>        people
>
>
> 2009/4/30 Domas Mituzas <[hidden email]>:
>> Thomas,
>>
>>> I believe there were about 50 chapters people about about 100 devs.
>>> I'm not sure why the mean travel distance would be lower if you
>>> include everyone - there were people from all around the world there,
>>> many having travelled further than the average board member.
>>
>>
>> Actually, I'd be happy if you were right (and you probably are!) - it
>> shows, that lots of people had the motivation to come to this
>> "excursion".
>
> Every single chapter was represented by at least one person - I was
> extremely impressed by that.
>
> _______________________________________________
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