Fwd: [Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF

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Fwd: [Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF

David Gerard-2
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Theo10011 <[hidden email]>
Date: 18 October 2012 13:48
Subject: [Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF
To: Wikimedia Mailing List <[hidden email]>


Hi

Sue Gardner started working on this document on Meta a couple of weeks ago
- http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Sue_Gardner/Narrowing_focus The
document outlines some rather big changes in the priority for WMF and
future responsibilities it will agree to keep. I am surprised by how little
attention this is getting from the larger community. There are comments but
mostly from the same individuals on Meta, little to none from some of the
most active voices and the larger English Wikipedia community.

This is the new direction being considered by the WMF, to basically abandon
or cut back on majority of activities from the last few year. Here are some
points-
1) No more Fellowships.
2) No more direct work in the developing markets (aka Global South- India,
Brazil, MENA)
3) No more support for International events, and cutting back on Wikimania

Instead of these, things like Editor engagement, Mobile and FDC/grant
making are being made priorities for WMF in the future. A large majority of
editors have had no interaction with grants and are unlikely to have so
with FDC as well, same with some of the mobile initiatives like Wikipedia
Zero which are limited to certain developing markets. A lot of these
changes will have a lasting impact, its not just relevant to those
interested in governance issues. Some of the implications are - Fellowships
would be removed all together, little to no spending on Hackathons,
possibly GLAM camps and other international events all together, less
spending on Wikimania and scholarships, the work in India and Brazil will
be moved away from WMF completely for a "partner" organization to take over
with a grant from WMF. If you do find some time, please consider taking a
look and commenting on these developments before they are approved.
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Sue_Gardner/Narrowing_focus

Regards
Theo

The document has some interesting quotes -

"The Wikimedia Foundation is not a think tank or a research institute.
We're not an advocacy organization or a lobbyist, and our core mission
isn't to keep the internet free and open. We are not a general educational
non-profit. (We are a website, or set of sites, and everything we do needs
to be understood through that lens.) We don't just reactively "support the
community"—responding to requests from editors and doing what they ask us
to do. Our purpose isn't to provide MediaWiki support for third parties
(but it's in our interest to ensure that a healthy third party ecosystem
develops around MediaWiki). We're not, ourselves, content creators. Our
purpose is not to ensure the chapters grow and develop, nor is it to
support the chapters in their growth and development: rather, chapters are
our partners in supporting editors and other content creators.

The Wikimedia Foundation is not the only fish in the sea of free knowledge;
not everything that needs to be done must be done by the Wikimedia
Foundation, and it's not our job to do work that other individuals or
entities are better positioned or mandated to do, however important that
work may be. When we try to do work that more properly belongs to other
individuals or groups, we imperil our ability to get our own core work
done, and we arguably make it less possible for other entities to do what
they're supposed to be doing."
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Re: Fwd: [Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF

Charles Matthews
So Sue sees the need for some sort of clearer "mission statement", I
suppose. A natural reaction on coming up to five years as Executive
Director, would be one way to look at it.

Charles

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Re: Fwd: [Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF

Mark
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
I suppose I'll put in a positive word for what I see here so far. It's
interesting because I was arguing, during the expansion of the WMF, for
some things vaguely along these lines, but I had assumed that battle was
lost by now.

Two things in particular I like:

1. The Wikimedia Foundation should not become some kind of overarching
NGO, but should look at what we actually do better than other
organizations, and partner with other organizations (or even leave it
entirely to them!) in other cases. The strength of grassroots-driven
organizations is that they have a necessary but limited bureaucracy and
legal apparatus, which keeps the servers running, handles legal matters,
gets money where it's needed, but mostly stays out of the way. I'm very
skeptical of professionalization of such organizations, where the
professional staff takes the lead in big, costly initiatives (nonprofits
of that kind start looking more like a bizarro-world version of
corporations, complete with highly paid executives and big org-charts
and that kind of thing).

2. I'm hugely skeptical of the "Westerners bring enlightenment to the
third world" style of philanthropy, which has a quite bad history, tying
into colonialism and Christian missionaries. So I think it's a very good
direction to have efforts in the Global South driven by people and
organizations actually from there, rather than from a San Francisco
office. It doesn't appear that this propose would rule out those being
local Wikimedia chapters, or funded via the FDC process, just that the
efforts wouldn't operationally be run from the US-based headquarters. It
would also be nice to partner more with existing organizations: goals
like, "educate rural Indians" are not new goals, and many organizations
actually based in India, with longer histories, have much more knowledge
about the sticking points than we do.

Plus, decentralization of operations and dissemination of funds to
support decentralized operations seems rather in keeping with the
general Wikimedia spirit.

-Mark


On 10/18/12 3:27 PM, David Gerard wrote:

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Theo10011 <[hidden email]>
> Date: 18 October 2012 13:48
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF
> To: Wikimedia Mailing List <[hidden email]>
>
>
> Hi
>
> Sue Gardner started working on this document on Meta a couple of weeks ago
> - http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Sue_Gardner/Narrowing_focus The
> document outlines some rather big changes in the priority for WMF and
> future responsibilities it will agree to keep. I am surprised by how little
> attention this is getting from the larger community. There are comments but
> mostly from the same individuals on Meta, little to none from some of the
> most active voices and the larger English Wikipedia community.
>
> This is the new direction being considered by the WMF, to basically abandon
> or cut back on majority of activities from the last few year. Here are some
> points-
> 1) No more Fellowships.
> 2) No more direct work in the developing markets (aka Global South- India,
> Brazil, MENA)
> 3) No more support for International events, and cutting back on Wikimania
>
> Instead of these, things like Editor engagement, Mobile and FDC/grant
> making are being made priorities for WMF in the future. A large majority of
> editors have had no interaction with grants and are unlikely to have so
> with FDC as well, same with some of the mobile initiatives like Wikipedia
> Zero which are limited to certain developing markets. A lot of these
> changes will have a lasting impact, its not just relevant to those
> interested in governance issues. Some of the implications are - Fellowships
> would be removed all together, little to no spending on Hackathons,
> possibly GLAM camps and other international events all together, less
> spending on Wikimania and scholarships, the work in India and Brazil will
> be moved away from WMF completely for a "partner" organization to take over
> with a grant from WMF. If you do find some time, please consider taking a
> look and commenting on these developments before they are approved.
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Sue_Gardner/Narrowing_focus
>
> Regards
> Theo
>
> The document has some interesting quotes -
>
> "The Wikimedia Foundation is not a think tank or a research institute.
> We're not an advocacy organization or a lobbyist, and our core mission
> isn't to keep the internet free and open. We are not a general educational
> non-profit. (We are a website, or set of sites, and everything we do needs
> to be understood through that lens.) We don't just reactively "support the
> community"—responding to requests from editors and doing what they ask us
> to do. Our purpose isn't to provide MediaWiki support for third parties
> (but it's in our interest to ensure that a healthy third party ecosystem
> develops around MediaWiki). We're not, ourselves, content creators. Our
> purpose is not to ensure the chapters grow and develop, nor is it to
> support the chapters in their growth and development: rather, chapters are
> our partners in supporting editors and other content creators.
>
> The Wikimedia Foundation is not the only fish in the sea of free knowledge;
> not everything that needs to be done must be done by the Wikimedia
> Foundation, and it's not our job to do work that other individuals or
> entities are better positioned or mandated to do, however important that
> work may be. When we try to do work that more properly belongs to other
> individuals or groups, we imperil our ability to get our own core work
> done, and we arguably make it less possible for other entities to do what
> they're supposed to be doing."
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l


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Re: Fwd: [Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF

Charles Matthews
On 18 October 2012 22:19, Mark <[hidden email]> wrote:

<snip>

> Plus, decentralization of operations and dissemination of funds to support
> decentralized operations seems rather in keeping with the general Wikimedia
> spirit.

I agree. Though at this point we have little enough idea about how the
FDC will be run. It is kind of hard to see how it could operate in a
"lightweight" way if it is a main channel by which donated funds are
spent.

Charles

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