Improving dialogue between editors and "tech people"

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Improving dialogue between editors and "tech people"

Guillaume Paumier
Hi,

[Posting this from my personal address because I'm not subscribed to
the list with my work account.]

I've started a discussion on the technical Village pump on how to
establish a better dialogue between editors and "tech people"
(developers, Wikimedia engineers, etc.):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_%28technical%29#Improving_communication_between_editors_and_.22tech_people.22

I'd love to get more comments and suggestions, so that the outcome
isn't only representative of the subset of the community who reads
VP/T.

You can participate there or here on the list, I'll follow both. Also,
feel free to advertise this discussions to fellow editors,
particularly those whom you know to be interested in these issues.
Thanks!

Below is the text I've posted on VP/T:

-------------------------------------------------------

Hi. I'm posting this as part of my job for the WMF, where I currently
work on technical communications.

As you'll probably agree, communication between Wikipedia contributors
and "tech people" (primarily MediaWiki developers, but also designers
and other engineers) hasn't always been ideal. In recent years,
Wikimedia employees have made efforts to become more transparent, for
example by writing monthly activity reports, by providing hubs listing
current activities, and by maintaining "activity pages" for each
significant activity. Furthermore, the yearly engineering goals for
the WMF were developed publicly, and the more granular Roadmap is
updated weekly.

Now, that's all well and such, but what I'd rather like to discuss is
how we can better engage in true collaboration and 2-way discussion,
not just reports and announcements. It's easy to post a link to a new
feature that's already been implemented, and tell users "Please
provide feedback!". It's much more difficult to truly collaborate
every step of the way, from the early planning to deployment.

Some "big" tech projects are lucky enough to have Oliver Keyes who can
spend a lot of time discussing with local wiki communities, basically
incarnating this 2-way communication channel between users and
developers. The $1 million question is: how do we scale up the Oliver?
We want to be able to do this for dozens of engineering projects with
hundreds of wikis, in many languages, and truly collaborate to build
new features together.

There are probably things in the way we do tech stuff (e.g. new
software features and deployments) that drive you insane. You probably
have lots of ideas about what the ideal situation should be, and how
to get there: What can the developer community (staff and volunteers)
do to get there? (in the short term, medium term, long term?) What can
users do to get there?

I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, and I can't do a
proper job to improve things without your help. So please help me help
make your lives easier, and speak up.

This is intended to be a very open discussion. Unapologetic
complaining is fine; suggestions are also welcome. Stock of ponies is
limited.

--
Guillaume Paumier
[[m:User:guillom]]
http://www.gpaumier.org

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Re: Improving dialogue between editors and "tech people"

WereSpielChequers-2
Hi Guillaume,

Firstly move Bugzilla to Meta. Currently it is a different user experience
to the rest of our wikis, and it isn't even part of the Single User Login.

Secondly try to shift from a developer led Software program to more of a
community led one. Yes of course there are going to be things going on
which have to happen anyway for valid technical reasons, from what I've
seen the WMF has a significant budget to invest on programming changes. But
there isn't a way for the community to prioritise development projects. So
part of the clash is the dissonance between the community empowerment ethos
which is the norm for most community activities, and the disempowerment
that characterises community involvement in IT development. If a million
dollars of the annual IT budget was set aside for projects that the
community could suggest and prioritise via a page on meta, then the
relationship between IT and the community would be transformed, as would be
the project.

WSC

On 25 October 2012 14:07, Guillaume Paumier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi,
>
> [Posting this from my personal address because I'm not subscribed to
> the list with my work account.]
>
> I've started a discussion on the technical Village pump on how to
> establish a better dialogue between editors and "tech people"
> (developers, Wikimedia engineers, etc.):
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Village_pump_%28technical%29#Improving_communication_between_editors_and_.22tech_people.22
>
> I'd love to get more comments and suggestions, so that the outcome
> isn't only representative of the subset of the community who reads
> VP/T.
>
> You can participate there or here on the list, I'll follow both. Also,
> feel free to advertise this discussions to fellow editors,
> particularly those whom you know to be interested in these issues.
> Thanks!
>
> Below is the text I've posted on VP/T:
>
> -------------------------------------------------------
>
> Hi. I'm posting this as part of my job for the WMF, where I currently
> work on technical communications.
>
> As you'll probably agree, communication between Wikipedia contributors
> and "tech people" (primarily MediaWiki developers, but also designers
> and other engineers) hasn't always been ideal. In recent years,
> Wikimedia employees have made efforts to become more transparent, for
> example by writing monthly activity reports, by providing hubs listing
> current activities, and by maintaining "activity pages" for each
> significant activity. Furthermore, the yearly engineering goals for
> the WMF were developed publicly, and the more granular Roadmap is
> updated weekly.
>
> Now, that's all well and such, but what I'd rather like to discuss is
> how we can better engage in true collaboration and 2-way discussion,
> not just reports and announcements. It's easy to post a link to a new
> feature that's already been implemented, and tell users "Please
> provide feedback!". It's much more difficult to truly collaborate
> every step of the way, from the early planning to deployment.
>
> Some "big" tech projects are lucky enough to have Oliver Keyes who can
> spend a lot of time discussing with local wiki communities, basically
> incarnating this 2-way communication channel between users and
> developers. The $1 million question is: how do we scale up the Oliver?
> We want to be able to do this for dozens of engineering projects with
> hundreds of wikis, in many languages, and truly collaborate to build
> new features together.
>
> There are probably things in the way we do tech stuff (e.g. new
> software features and deployments) that drive you insane. You probably
> have lots of ideas about what the ideal situation should be, and how
> to get there: What can the developer community (staff and volunteers)
> do to get there? (in the short term, medium term, long term?) What can
> users do to get there?
>
> I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, and I can't do a
> proper job to improve things without your help. So please help me help
> make your lives easier, and speak up.
>
> This is intended to be a very open discussion. Unapologetic
> complaining is fine; suggestions are also welcome. Stock of ponies is
> limited.
>
> --
> Guillaume Paumier
> [[m:User:guillom]]
> http://www.gpaumier.org
>
> _______________________________________________
> 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: Improving dialogue between editors and "tech people"

David Gerard-2
On 26 October 2012 09:25, WereSpielChequers <[hidden email]> wrote:

> If a million
> dollars of the annual IT budget was set aside for projects that the
> community could suggest and prioritise via a page on meta, then the
> relationship between IT and the community would be transformed, as would be
> the project.


+1

Projects other than Wikipedia might get the slightest attention too.


- d.

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Re: Improving dialogue between editors and "tech people"

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by Guillaume Paumier
On 25 October 2012 14:07, Guillaume Paumier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> As you'll probably agree, communication between Wikipedia contributors
> and "tech people" (primarily MediaWiki developers, but also designers
> and other engineers) hasn't always been ideal. In recent years,

From the community's side, awareness of issues is good, but is not
always matched by the framing and articulation. Given that tech
requires spec - a good way to annoy a developer is waffling about what
is wrong rather than specifying a fix - the potential for mismatch in
communications is high.

Now I have thought for a little while now that "getting smarter all
round" is what we must do, rather than the traditional blame games. So
more meeting in the middle is what has to happen. One thing that could
be an improvement is more exposition from the tech side, less meeting
a request or query with a rhetorical question (which has happened to
me, even face-to-face).

Charles

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