Communications issues (was Re: This is not an Advertisement @ pgunn)

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Communications issues (was Re: This is not an Advertisement @ pgunn)

Michael Snow
James Hare wrote:

> For the record, I'm asking about an apology for the poor communication,
> because that -was- rather minimal communication prior to the ad.

Others have said it already, but since I'm the chair of the
Communications Committee, I think it's appropriate for me to add my
apology for the difficulties in communication between the Wikimedia
Foundation and the community. It's clear that the level of communication
is not adequate, and I share the frustration that I think many of us
feel. Because of the scope of the problem, I think it's worthwhile to
explore it at some length.

Part of the problem is a lack of resources, both human and technical, in
the communications area as much as in any other. That sort of thing is,
of course, exactly what this fundraiser is trying to address. As has
been noted, we've barely managed sufficient communication to merely
coordinate what we're going to do, let alone communicate those
intentions more broadly. Although there has been some previous
communication that produced disappointingly little discussion. The
community seems much more inclined to give feedback when the Foundation
does something as opposed to when it talks about planning things.

Some of that feedback is over the issue of advertising, with various
attempts to draw lines in the silicon and declare them crossed or not
crossed. Honestly, it reminds me greatly of a typical dispute over
competing points of view on a Wikipedia talk page. It is not resolvable
by simply insisting on a particular interpretation, and in the meantime
the Foundation has to make decisions in order to continue operating.
Wikimedia is committed to maintaining a neutral point of view, as is
well known, and I believe that value has not been compromised in any
material way. Perceptions are admittedly important too, but they do not
always reflect reality, as anyone familiar with the media coverage of
Wikipedia can tell you. What is advertising and whether we should have
it are important considerations, and have been debated at length, but
it's not a fundamental value in the same way that free content or
neutrality are. Anyone who's convinced that our actual content has been
compromised already by the recent decisions is welcome to try and
demonstrate how that's the case.

A wise person once told me that basically all longstanding members of
the community are outliers on certain issues. I know that it's true for
me, and I'm sure that it's also true even of people closer to the center
of Wikimedia, including Jimbo himself. There will always be some matter
on which your personal viewpoint does not prevail, even though you think
it's an important point and use your most persuasive arguments to get
that across. In any group project that consists of more than just your
ideological clones, this is something we have to deal with. Here we do
share a few fundamental goals, and hope that people can put aside other
agendas to work on them. If upon closer examination you find that you
cannot adopt these goals, or that the path to them includes elements
that you absolutely cannot live with, then we wish you well in your
other endeavors.

Meanwhile, we have a number of communications needs, and some go beyond
communicating just with the immediate community of Wikimedia projects.
I'd like to mention some of those to remind people of the many tasks
being handled, often unseen and unappreciated, and invite additional
help. We have the general public to communicate with, for example
through the volume of email Wikimedia receives, which many volunteers
take turns responding to (some of you may know this as the OTRS system).
This is frequently overloaded, especially in English, but through a
valiant effort we actually cleaned out the backlog about a month ago. Of
course, over the holidays the emails have built up again, and we need to
renew the effort. Anyone willing to help with this for a few months,
please contact UninvitedCompany, the chair of the OTRS subcommittee, or
else the contact for your particular language. Good customer service
skills are a key here.

Communicating with the project communities is also a challenge, because
they are so widely distributed. There is no central place to reach
everyone, and many differing expectations about what "affects" the
community and how it should be notified. (I use quotes because
everything affects the community, but notice doesn't seem to be expected
every time we buy servers, as long as the site runs.) The solution is
for the community to help spread the word about anything that might be
of importance. Some people may be familiar with The Wikipedia Signpost
on en.wikipedia, or the Kurier on de.wikipedia. These are community
efforts to grow and build on, and more like them should be encouraged. I
know the TIME honor is so last year, but "You" are the only way
Wikimedia can ever communicate with its projects. Contributions like
Walter's Wikizine or Improv's LSS are invaluable (and as we regret the
latter's departure, thanks to BirgitteSB for committing to keep it going).

Returning to the public side, the Wikimedia Foundation gets a number of
requests to provide speakers at various functions. Some want Jimbo, but
he's not able to fill them all, and many of these requests would be
happy with community representatives. A few of these may be large
conferences that can offer to cover travel expenses, but often it's a
smaller function simply hoping that someone local would be available to
meet with them. We're looking for someone who can volunteer to
coordinate public speaking assignments, both handling requests and
organizing a pool of available speakers. If you're interested in doing
this, please let me know (in the meantime, if people who have presented
on Wikimedia subjects can
update http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Presentations it would be
appreciated).

--Michael Snow
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Re: Communications issues (was Re: This is not an Advertisement @ pgunn)

Gatto Nero
2007/1/3, Michael Snow <[hidden email]>:

> Part of the problem is a lack of resources, both human and technical, in
> the communications area as much as in any other. That sort of thing is,
> of course, exactly what this fundraiser is trying to address.

I'm sorry, 'cause of language differences maybe I've not understood:
are you saying that "lack of resources" is one of the reasons why are
we collecting money?
This means, "people needs to be payed"? (I'm asking, 'cause I'm not
sure, that's not an accusation)
Cause if so, it seems to me a "standard excuse" ("jolly excuse",
translating an italian phrase): everyone could say so, but this is not
enough to explain how communication failed so much, in this and other
occasions.

> The
> community seems much more inclined to give feedback when the Foundation
> does something as opposed to when it talks about planning things.

This is a problem of communication, too. Community doesn't feel
involved in planning things. Users are not asked their opinions.
Moreover, when they express it anyway, they're answered in a bitter way.
In the recent past, I remember a user answering to me and other
italians "Communities doesn't matter. Funding does. Capisce?".
How does this phrase should be interpreted?
Let's think about a new user who's starting to communicate with the
Foundation, and he's been answered in this way.
Obviously, I don't think this is an isolated case.
Community doesn't think its opinion is welcome. If community's opinion
is welcome, then there's a problem of communication.

> Wikimedia is committed to maintaining a neutral point of view, as is
> well known, and I believe that value has not been compromised in any
> material way.

There are many ways to compromise anything.
Neutrality is strongly linked with independence.
In this very case, neutrality is strongly linked with independence by
any type of commercial reality (explicit or implied, as Virgin
United).
This mine opinion could be - maybe - a cultural heritage, 'cause is
shared by other people inside the italian community, and - as far as
I've seen - outside the italian community too. But - always thinking
about cultural differences - this opinion seems not to be shared by
the en: or the east communities.

> What is advertising and whether we should have
> it are important considerations, and have been debated at length, but
> it's not a fundamental value in the same way that free content or
> neutrality are.

Let's return to the begin. How this phrase is going to demonstrate
interest in community's opinon?
"Advertising is not a fundamental value". Who did decide this?
Lots of users think advertising is a fundamental value, indeed. If you
say that, you seem no to respect other opinions.
That's an important duty for the CommComm: *hearing*, *listening*,
*considering*.
As far as I've studied Communication is made by a sender and a
reveicer, and they often interchange their roles.

> Anyone who's convinced that our actual content has been
> compromised already by the recent decisions is welcome to try and
> demonstrate how that's the case.

I should not consider this question, 'cause I could make the same
reflected: "Anyone who's convinced that our actual content has not
been compromised already by the recent decisions is welcome to try and
demonstrate how that's the case".

But simply, anyone (at least: anyone who made mediacommunication or
psychology studies) is aware that noone is immune to influences. Both
in a positive or a negative way, no matter.
Moreover, communication's results are heavily influenced by perception.

Let's make an example.
We have an academical audit.
A man talks about the importance of sobriety in the political duties.
First case scenario: the man is wearing an elegant suit, he's well
cleaned, speaks calmly.
Second case scenario: same content, but the man is wearing a jeans and
a shirt, has a not-perfect-hairdo, speaks loudly and gesticulating.

They say perfectly the same things, with the same words.
But in the first scenario, the man will be listened with more
attention, and his communication is going to be more effective.

Same content, different perception.

> Communicating with the project communities is also a challenge, because
> they are so widely distributed. There is no central place to reach
> everyone, and many differing expectations about what "affects" the
> community and how it should be notified. (I use quotes because
> everything affects the community, but notice doesn't seem to be expected
> every time we buy servers, as long as the site runs.) The solution is
> for the community to help spread the word about anything that might be
> of importance. Some people may be familiar with The Wikipedia Signpost
> on en.wikipedia, or the Kurier on de.wikipedia. These are community
> efforts to grow and build on, and more like them should be encouraged. I
> know the TIME honor is so last year, but "You" are the only way
> Wikimedia can ever communicate with its projects. Contributions like
> Walter's Wikizine or Improv's LSS are invaluable (and as we regret the
> latter's departure, thanks to BirgitteSB for committing to keep it going).

And here we are at the end of this mail.
Personally, I'm a bit saddened. This email is titled "Communication
issues" but doesn't seem to talk that much about communication (it
talks more about how people should not complain about advertising).

We *must* discuss about our communication problems. And we must decide
which is our "starting point" in this discussion.
Personally: sorry to say this, but mine is "Communication Committee
totally failed in internal communication".
As far as I remember, I have no memories at all of reading a
communication "signed" by the CommComm. Better: I have no memories at
all of reading a communicaton about Foundation's issues or problem.
(Apart from Wikizine, but that's not about Foundation)

Why has there not been a periodical mail/message/zine/whatever
summarizing what's going the Foundation?

"This week/month the Foundation did..."
"This week/month the Foundation talked about..."
"Foundation told we have some problems with..."

This is an internal communication. This express the will to be
transparent, to involve communities in what's going on, to inform
about the problems etc etc.
Periodical information is really, really important.

And I think we can start discuss about how to improve it.
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Re: Communications issues

Florence Devouard-3
Gatto Nero wrote:
> We *must* discuss about our communication problems. And we must decide
> which is our "starting point" in this discussion.

Oh, a thought.
Transcom had a hard time because there was no one really available to
coordinate translations of site notice and to make sure translations
went live on the website.

Aphaia, god bless her, was supposed to be offline at that time, and jd
had said he would help. It so happened that Jd was not available either,
and thank god, Aphaia came to help nevertheless.

I suggest that we need more back up on transcom. There is room for at
least one more coordinator there.

Ant

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Re: Communications issues

KIZU Naoko
Thank you for reminding our activities, Florence,
and again (I am not tired to repeat it) my all gratitude would go to
our fellow translators.

On 1/4/07, Anthere <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Aphaia, god bless her, was supposed to be offline at that time, and jd
> had said he would help. It so happened that Jd was not available either,
> and thank god, Aphaia came to help nevertheless.

Fortunately I was available at that time. But it was genuine *of
fortunes*. Yes, I am afraid no one was aware of how we have been in a
tight rope - when I got a message about first matching donor notice
from the office to ask me to coordinate translations,  it was at *4:30
am* in my local time and just before four and a half hours.
Occasionally I was vigilant at that time - perhaps God would have
blessed us really - I got the mail from Brad just before going to bed
and could contact other translators before diving into sheets. But I
wouldn't be bored to repeat it was just a fortune which we shouldn't
expect such come upon us again and again. We need to establish
organizational system with which we can handle a good amount of tasks.

> I suggest that we need more back up on transcom. There is room for at
> least one more coordinator there.

Definitely. I would rather say three - three in major timezone. I
invite specially all TCPLs to consider to be more involved into this
sphere. Including not yet publicly announced staff, Mido and Fruggo,
in my opinion all of them deeply understand what is coordination  of
translators and communications between the local community and global.
I repeat three additional coordinators we need to deal with our
concerns properly. Our global activities requires an amount of
manpower suitable for our tasks both daily and occasional.


--
KIZU Naoko
  Wikiquote: http://wikiquote.org
  * Nessuna poesia prima di noi *
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Re: Communications issues

Michael Snow
In reply to this post by Florence Devouard-3
Gatto Nero wrote:

>> ...if
>> you've been subscribed to this list, and truly have no memory of reading
>> communications about the Foundation's issues, I really can't help you
>> with that.
>
> Maybe you can't help me, but you should be worried about it.
> "Receiving" is one of the most important element of the communication.
> It *is* the most important element.
> A communication which's not received, is a communication which has
> failed. If theres' no receveing, there's no communication. There's one
> of the first things learned by a communicator.
> What you should do is wondering "Why has he not memories of CommComm
> comunication at all?"

I agree that listening and receiving communication is important to the
process. I'm not wondering why you have no memory of hearing
specifically from the Communications Committee - as I indicated, it
hasn't exactly "signed" everything it has input on. I am wondering why
you spoke as if you'd never seen any kind of communication from the
Wikimedia Foundation at all. Considering that Anthere, Brad, Jimbo, and
Erik have all been actively involved in raising and discussing issues on
this list, I don't know whether you've missed that entirely, or you're
looking for Wikimedia's communications to take some other form we
haven't dreamed up yet.

--Michael Snow
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