More on Wikimedia strategic planning

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More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Michael Snow-3
To follow up on the board's resolution, here is some more information
about the strategy development process we are starting. This is not
necessarily the complete picture, that hasn't been fully laid out yet
and you will hear more about it in coming weeks and months. We will
share progress as we go, and discussion is welcome. I expect the other
members of the Board of Trustees, along with Sue, will be happy to join
in. We spoke briefly about the project at our meeting with the chapter
representatives in Berlin a few weeks ago. They may be able to help
answer basic questions, and I also anticipate that the chapters will be
a good way to relay ideas from the wider community.

This is a rather unusual endeavor, as it is intended to be the world's
first completely open and collaborative strategy development project. We
aim to draw upon the experiences and knowledge of a wide range of
contributors: Wikimedia volunteers, experts in various fields, the
board, the foundation's staff, and other appropriate advisors that may
be suggested to us. I'm excited about the possibilities in this project.

Anybody who wants to help the Wikimedia projects is invited to
participate. I expect that the primary activity will involve working
groups developing pieces of the strategy on-wiki. That's both because
it's the key tool for open collaboration we're all familiar with, and
because it would be prohibitive in time or expense to coordinate
strategic planning through a set of meetings, as might happen in a
normal organization. All relevant planning outputs will be publicly
available for review, as well as reuse, so hopefully we can produce some
thinking that other groups will also find useful.

We expect the strategic planning project to officially launch in July,
although this is a preliminary kickoff of sorts as well. In the
meantime, Sue is planning to hire a project manager, a research analyst,
and a facilitator to support it. Those jobs will be posted on the
Wikimedia Foundation site sometime during the next week. Between now and
the launch, Sue will be hiring the project team. These positions will
bring skills we already need, and while we want all the staff to have
input, this will be the group designated to work particularly on this
project.

Sue and I will also be working through the structure and framework of
the project: essentially, which strategic questions require the most
focus. You will hear more about this, and I will be asking for your
views, as we begin to make progress.

--Michael Snow


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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Thomas Dalton
2009/4/30 Michael Snow <[hidden email]>:
> Anybody who wants to help the Wikimedia projects is invited to
> participate. I expect that the primary activity will involve working
> groups developing pieces of the strategy on-wiki.

How will these working groups be organised? Having a specific group
working on something and having everything open to participation by
everyone seem to be contradictory. Will there be a deadline to sign up
to each group before it starts work, or will the groups not actually
have a well-defined membership? Or do you have some other plan I
haven't considered?

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Milos Rancic-2
In reply to this post by Michael Snow-3
On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 7:47 AM, Michael Snow <[hidden email]> wrote:
> This is a rather unusual endeavor, as it is intended to be the world's
> first completely open and collaborative strategy development project. We
> aim to draw upon the experiences and knowledge of a wide range of
> contributors: Wikimedia volunteers, experts in various fields, the
> board, the foundation's staff, and other appropriate advisors that may
> be suggested to us. I'm excited about the possibilities in this project.

This is why it is a really good feeling to be a part of Wikimedia
community. I am very happy to see that the Board opened this issue and
that it was opened in such way.

I wanted to say something similar to the first sentence in a response
to your previous email. Wikimedia may build new history and, again, I
am very happy to see that the Board took that responsibility.

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Sue Gardner-2
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
2009/4/30 Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>:

> 2009/4/30 Michael Snow <[hidden email]>:
>> Anybody who wants to help the Wikimedia projects is invited to
>> participate. I expect that the primary activity will involve working
>> groups developing pieces of the strategy on-wiki.
>
> How will these working groups be organised? Having a specific group
> working on something and having everything open to participation by
> everyone seem to be contradictory. Will there be a deadline to sign up
> to each group before it starts work, or will the groups not actually
> have a well-defined membership? Or do you have some other plan I
> haven't considered?

Hi Thomas,

We don't have answers to those questions yet :-)

Basically, we (mostly Michael and I) will be designing the process
over the next few months -- it's scheduled to kick off in July, and
we'll be working through org structure, timelines, etc., between now
and then.

What you say is true: there is a fairly fundamental tension between
openness and a structure designed to drive towards decisions.

The fastest way to develop a strategy would be to have me and Michael
create it alone in a room in a single day, or have Michael tell me
what the strategy is, or have me recommend one to him.  But it
wouldn't necessarily be a very good strategy, and it certainly
wouldn't be as good as what we can accomplish collectively :-)

In a conventional organization, strategy development usually involves
just the senior management team, sometimes including consultation with
key stakeholders or experts.  We obviously don't want to do it that
way.  Our strength is our openness, and our fundamental premise is
that broad participation drives good decision quality.  Many, many
people have something to contribute -- be it a fact or piece of
information, the ability to brainstorm, a contrarian view, the ability
to reconcile divergent views, or a pointer towards expertise we don't
currently have.  That is true of the work that's done in the Wikimedia
projects, and we think it also should be true for our strategy
project.

Having said that, we need some structure to ensure the work happens.
The trick will be trying to design a process that strikes a good
balance between total openness, and driving towards decision-making.
It's my responsibility to try to find that balance :-)

Here's a very quick sketch of the structure I am imagining right now:

* A steering committee, made up of the board. The steering committee's
job is to oversee the work, and make sure it's consistent with our
core values. To evangelize on behalf of the project and support it,
and to make hard decisions about priorities when necessary.

* A project team made up of a small number of people accountable for
driving the work forward, keeping it on track. I expect it would be
mostly paid staff and paid support. It would be process-focused not
substance-focused.

* A small number of Working Groups, responsible for developing a set
of strategic recommendations within a fairly broad scope. For example,
we might have Working Groups on Reach, on Quality, on Participation.
The Working Groups' job would be to evaluate and synthesize
recommendations from the Sub-Groups, below.  I do not think the people
on the Working Groups would necessarily need to be experts in their
area, but they would definitely need to be strategic thinkers,
inclined towards convergence, and ideally with some expertise doing
strategy work.

* A larger number of Sub-Groups, with responsibility for developing
recommendations that feed into those broader-scope Working Groups. For
example, the Reach Working Group might have a Sub-Group focused on
"reaching people with offline readers"; the Quality Working Group
might have a Sub-Group focused on "freeing up archival/library/media
content"; the Participation Working Group might have a Sub-Group
focused on "attracting academics to participate in the projects."
Those aren't necessarily the best examples, but I'm sure you get the
idea.  The people in the Sub-Groups will need, ideally, to have real
subject-matter expertise, or be willing to work hard to get it where
it's missing.

* A small number of people supporting the process, and the groups, in
various ways.  That will include the Wikimedia Foundation staff, who
will be available to the groups for advice and expertise as needed. It
will also, I hope, include our Advisory Board members, who support our
goals and are expert in various fields.  And it will include three new
paid positions -- short-term contracts designed to support this
process.  Those jobs will be posted within a week or so, and will
include a Project Manager, a Research Analyst, and a Facilitator.
(I'll post a note here when those jobs go up.)

A couple of quick additional points:

* The structure outlined above will simply address the "what" -- what
we want the Wikimedia movement to accomplish together. It will not
address the "how" --- big questions around how to structure ourselves
to achieve this work, how to pay for it all, how to communicate our
plans externally once they are developed, etc. I am thinking now about
how to best address the "how" questions in this process.

* I believe the Working Groups and Sub-Groups should be fairly small,
in order to gel as a team and get the work done. Like, 4-6 people in
each.  And, the people in the groups will need to be able to dedicate
quite a bit of time to the project, probably over a duration of
several months.  So, we will additionally need to create other
mechanisms for involving additional people -- as experts who can be
called upon by the groups, as reviewers to comment upon the work as
it's being done, and in other roles.  I am thinking now about what
that might look like, and also about how to make the work of the
groups as public and transparent as possible.  (It is also probable
that we'll aim to construct some surveys and other mechanisms for
feedback, for people who don't have the time or inclination to really
get involved, but who nonetheless would like to have some input.)

* There is also a big question about languages. The work will need to
be done in English, but we will also want to provide avenues for
non-English-speakers to participate, other than through their own
direct connections to people who do speak English. That will be hard.

* I am also thinking about how best to involve the voices of readers
-- the people who use our projects, but don't contribute to them. I
think this is really important -- after all, the purpose of the
projects is to freely provide information to people everywhere in the
world, so it's critical that those people's differing opinions and
attitudes and desires be well-understood.  I am not yet sure how to
make that happen.  But I think that if the project were to end up
ignoring Wikimedia readers, that would be a huge missed opportunity.

Hope this helps a little. Please feel free (anyone) to comment on
this: it's very much a work-in-progress, and your views are welcome
:-)

Thanks,
Sue

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

metasj
I would love more context for this (excellent, ambitious) discussion.
What timescales are to be considered?  What range of scope
reassessment is appropriate?

A long-range planning section would be helpful, if only to provide
context for more immediate targets.  For comparison, here is a brief
list of 'three-year' goals I had more than three years ago, when the
foundation was but a legal construct.  A couple of them have since
been met :)  :

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/three-year_plan


I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
knowledge dissemination, what is important and what will pass, what
comes first and what comes next.  I'd like a shared roadmap for
improving language coverage: how can we move beyond
single-common-language, do we have tiers of language support that new
languages filter up? how do we integrate, support, and iconify clear
communication: simple v. complex language, language learning?

We also need focused discussions about ideals and goals over shorter
timescales... and ideas about projects that support and expand our
ideals that other non-WM projects could take on.  Where do our
projects fit into the grander scheme of things?  What are our grandest
ambitions, our fallback positions, our contingency plans?

Conservation and innovation could both be better served by our plans.
We could use a serious endowment discussion.  Preparation for how to
sustain Wikimedia services and data across a major global war or
catastrophe.  A list of valuable collaborative projects not yet begun.
 A list of significant tools and services that would enhance
development and use of the projects.


On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM, Sue Gardner <[hidden email]> wrote:

> * A project team made up of a small number of people accountable for
> driving the work forward, keeping it on track. I expect it would be
> mostly paid staff and paid support. It would be process-focused > not substance-focused.

Or support the work with bureaucratic help?  These are two fine uses
of paid teams / contracts in my mind for massively parallel volunteer
projects.  Then again, some of the best "drivers" I can think of are
volunteers who are engaged 24/7.

> * A small number of Working Groups...  to evaluate and synthesize
> recommendations from the Sub-Groups

There's nothing wrong with having a good multi-layered process.
Sometimes that's not the most effective, though - I hope there is
always an open low-process low-barrier to entry process in the
background, like the Nupedia wiki, which is expected to at worst
produce great draft material without strictures (and at best can do
much more).


> idea.  The people in the Sub-Groups will need, ideally, to have real
> subject-matter expertise, or be willing to work hard to get it where
> it's missing.

I see energy and an interest in discovering what's possible as being
more valuable than subject expertise.  Choosing by expertise and then
seeing how much work people do is a standard weakness of traditional
committee-forming.  Choosing by activity and merit without filtering
first allows selection of people who truly thrive on whatever the task
at hand is.


> * There is also a big question about languages. The work will need to
> be done in English,

Can you elaborate a bit?  Could a group that all speak better French
than English not do their work in French and have it translated for
others?  I would hope the language issue could be phrased as  "All
work will need to be translated into English as a shared working
language"...

> but we will also want to provide avenues for
> non-English-speakers to participate, other than through their own
> direct connections to people who do speak English. That will be hard.

'avenues for participation' rather than equal representation and
participation, seems in a small but persistent way to run counter to
the mission.


> * I am also thinking about how best to involve the voices of readers

This is really important.  WP has 3 billion readers, all of them
potential contributors, sources of ideas.  Again, the majority of
these readers do not read English as their first language.

SJ

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Sue Gardner-2
2009/4/30 Sue Gardner <[hidden email]>:
> Having said that, we need some structure to ensure the work happens.
> The trick will be trying to design a process that strikes a good
> balance between total openness, and driving towards decision-making.
> It's my responsibility to try to find that balance :-)

May the IPU have mercy on your soul! That's one hell of a responsibility...

I agree with pretty much everything you've said, the big question
remaining is the one of how to get everyone that isn't on one of these
small committees involved, and I'm glad I'm not the one that has to
answer it! ;)

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by metasj
2009/4/30 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
> I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
> knowledge dissemination,

Did you mean 300 years? 3 years is hard enough in our line of work, 30
would be a real challenge, 300 is simply impossible. I'm assuming that
was a typo...

>> * There is also a big question about languages. The work will need to
>> be done in English,
>
> Can you elaborate a bit?  Could a group that all speak better French
> than English not do their work in French and have it translated for
> others?  I would hope the language issue could be phrased as  "All
> work will need to be translated into English as a shared working
> language"...

If, by coincidence, there happens to be a group better able to
communicate in French than English, then I don't see why they
shouldn't be able to, but it is pretty unlikely. I would advise
against choosing committees along language lines, a diverse membership
of each committee would be far better.

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

metasj
On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 6:23 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 2009/4/30 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>> I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
>> knowledge dissemination,
>
> Did you mean 300 years?

Yes.  Considering the stakes and our capacity for history, this seems
to me appropriate and possible.


>>> * There is also a big question about languages. The work will need to
>>> be done in English,
>>
>> Can you elaborate a bit?  Could a group that all speak better French
>> than English not do their work in French and have it translated for
>> others?  I would hope the language issue could be phrased as  "All
>> work will need to be translated into English as a shared working
>> language"...
>
> If, by coincidence, there happens to be a group better able to
> communicate in French than English, then I don't see why they
> shouldn't be able to, but it is pretty unlikely.
<
> I would advise against choosing committees along language lines,

If the goal is creative communication, groups must be able to
communicate effectively with one another.  If we want to benefit from
the excellent ideas everywhere in the community, an active translation
nexus to ensure refined ideas are shared widely, and groups of great
contributors brainstorming however is most effective for them
(including, often, using their native language) is not unreasonable.

Live meetings require single languages or simultaneous interpretation;
extended deliberation can be more flexible.

> a diverse membership
> of each committee would be far better.

Sue's post covered committees and layered subgroups, some of no more
than a few people.  Certainly the right sort of diversity of
participants in each major area of discussion and at each level of
abstraction or scope is valuable, all else being equal --  say,
diversity of language, interests and background, and type of
contribution.  And yet small groups will always cluster some
qualities.


SJ

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Thomas Dalton
2009/5/1 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 6:23 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> 2009/4/30 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>>> I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
>>> knowledge dissemination,
>>
>> Did you mean 300 years?
>
> Yes.  Considering the stakes and our capacity for history, this seems
> to me appropriate and possible.

It is impossible to predict what humanity will be like in 300 years,
if it even still exists, so it is completely impossible to predict
what Wikimedia will be like or what challenges it will need to face.

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
In reply to this post by metasj
Samuel Klein wrote:

> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 6:23 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>> 2009/4/30 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>>    
>>> I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
>>> knowledge dissemination,
>>>      
>> Did you mean 300 years?
>>    
>
> Yes.  Considering the stakes and our capacity for history, this seems
> to me appropriate and possible.
>
>  

Personally on this scope, my personal burning priority would
be off-planet database backups. And I am not joking, one bit,
either.

Not because disaster fears, but more fears of political kinds.
I don't hold with the view that we can rest assured liberal
democratic systems are inherently stable under all conceivable
extra-political real world contexts.


Yours,

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen


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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

phoebe ayers-3
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 10:24 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> 2009/5/1 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 6:23 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> 2009/4/30 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>>>> I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
>>>> knowledge dissemination,
>>>
>>> Did you mean 300 years?
>>
>> Yes.  Considering the stakes and our capacity for history, this seems
>> to me appropriate and possible.
>
> It is impossible to predict what humanity will be like in 300 years,
> if it even still exists, so it is completely impossible to predict
> what Wikimedia will be like or what challenges it will need to face.

Can we perhaps split the difference between you two and say: 30 years?
There are all sorts of issues that arise on this time span that are
also useful to consider on much shorter and much longer scales. Some
are considerations of what we would like to become; some are simply
considerations of organizational and project survival. E.g.:

* long-term archival backups, and their distribution, storage and processing
* how our live content interfaces with the rest of the changing
internet and information universe (how do we deal with disappearing
sources, references, languages? project forks? Increasingly available
public domain materials?) How do we advocate for more free content
everywhere?
* keeping the codebase up to date and maintainable
* a long-term, sustainable funding model, through good times and bad
* how to keep governance open and yet sustainable
* keeping the projects we work on relevant, useful and high quality
(including maintaining current projects and content, and finding new
projects to take on)
* how we transmit our community culture to new people who become
involved (at all levels); how we maintain our values over the long
term, and yet remain flexible and open to new ideas, new styles, and
other projects that may develop that share our goals.
* how do we scale everything?

I see these as the *big* questions that are equally relevant no matter
if you're talking about 3 years out or 300. I hope the strategic
process will at least take the time to reflect on some of these
questions, or perhaps frame the whole discussion in terms of them or
similar questions, as well as working on more specific and concrete
strategies and initiatives.

-- phoebe

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

phoebe ayers-3
On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 11:08 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 10:24 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> 2009/5/1 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>>> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 6:23 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>> 2009/4/30 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>>>>> I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
>>>>> knowledge dissemination,
>>>>
>>>> Did you mean 300 years?
>>>
>>> Yes.  Considering the stakes and our capacity for history, this seems
>>> to me appropriate and possible.
>>
>> It is impossible to predict what humanity will be like in 300 years,
>> if it even still exists, so it is completely impossible to predict
>> what Wikimedia will be like or what challenges it will need to face.
>
> Can we perhaps split the difference between you two and say: 30 years?
> There are all sorts of issues that arise on this time span that are
> also useful to consider on much shorter and much longer scales.

Besides, this is a (slightly long) generation, which makes a useful
human-scaled measure to think in. I really want my kids, at some
point, to be able to say in exasperation, "Mom, this isn't *your*
Wikipedia anymore!" Or better yet: "Grandma, we are sick and tired of
hearing how you had to write your own markup, both ways in the snow!
We edit through the power of our minds now, OK?! Sheesh!"

-- phoebe

--
* I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
<at> gmail.com *

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
2009/5/1 phoebe ayers <[hidden email]>:

> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 10:24 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> 2009/5/1 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>>> On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 6:23 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>>> 2009/4/30 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>:
>>>>> I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
>>>>> knowledge dissemination,
>>>>
>>>> Did you mean 300 years?
>>>
>>> Yes.  Considering the stakes and our capacity for history, this seems
>>> to me appropriate and possible.
>>
>> It is impossible to predict what humanity will be like in 300 years,
>> if it even still exists, so it is completely impossible to predict
>> what Wikimedia will be like or what challenges it will need to face.
>
> Can we perhaps split the difference between you two and say: 30 years?

I think we would be missing an opportunity if we didn't at least
outline some rough ideas for a 30-year timeframe, but much more than
that involves far too much guesswork to be worthwhile.

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Stuart West
In reply to this post by Michael Snow-3
As someone who is relatively new to the Foundation's Board (just
over a year now) and has been through this kind of strategic
planning exercise a few times, I thought I'd share some thoughts:

- There seems to be more agreement on a high-level vision ("every
single human being can freely share in the sum of all human
knowledge") in our community than in anything I've been a part
of. And we're actually doing it -- last month one estimate had us
bringing knowledge to over 325 million people around the world.
That's not yet every single human being but wow, what a great
start.
- Despite that apparent high-level unity, it is very difficult to
translate such a sweeping vision into a set of near-term
priorities.
- As we've grown and succeeded, we've attracted more donors
(something like 135,000 in the last fundraiser) so now have
greater financial resources to make investments and support the
volunteers.
- There are many things we could focus on: usability, quality,
outreach in countries without chapters, language issues,
technology scalability, performance, data center expansion,
access for those with limited/no connectivity,
legal/trademark/copyright protections, etc.
- We can't do them all at the same time -- even with all our
success we have limited money and volunteer energy.  A strategic
plan can help provide focus and prioritization.
- The approach the Board and Sue have laid out -- widespread
involvement from our entire community -- is unprecedented. Many
organizations do strategic planning, but typically with a few
dozen people. We are going to do it with thousands.  That's just
the way we do things.  It will be harder and messier and take
more time, but we're used to that.  I also think it will as a
result have a bigger impact.
- I know our final answer won't match my personal priorities
exactly, and as volunteers of course we can and will all still
focus on our own passions.  But the more we work together to
agree on priorities, the more we can do as a community.

Finally, I want to say I'm incredibly excited about this process.
I'm confident the same energy and cooperation that creates a
great article will also create a great strategic plan, and that
we as a community have an amazing opportunity here to come
together and set some direction for how over the next few years
we can best pursue our vision.

-stu
stu <at> Wikimedia.org

-----Original Message-----
From: [hidden email]
[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of
Michael Snow
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 10:47 PM
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Subject: [Foundation-l] More on Wikimedia strategic planning

To follow up on the board's resolution, here is some more
information
about the strategy development process we are starting. This is
not
necessarily the complete picture, that hasn't been fully laid out
yet
and you will hear more about it in coming weeks and months. We
will
share progress as we go, and discussion is welcome. I expect the
other
members of the Board of Trustees, along with Sue, will be happy
to join
in. We spoke briefly about the project at our meeting with the
chapter
representatives in Berlin a few weeks ago. They may be able to
help
answer basic questions, and I also anticipate that the chapters
will be
a good way to relay ideas from the wider community.

This is a rather unusual endeavor, as it is intended to be the
world's
first completely open and collaborative strategy development
project. We
aim to draw upon the experiences and knowledge of a wide range of

contributors: Wikimedia volunteers, experts in various fields,
the
board, the foundation's staff, and other appropriate advisors
that may
be suggested to us. I'm excited about the possibilities in this
project.

Anybody who wants to help the Wikimedia projects is invited to
participate. I expect that the primary activity will involve
working
groups developing pieces of the strategy on-wiki. That's both
because
it's the key tool for open collaboration we're all familiar with,
and
because it would be prohibitive in time or expense to coordinate
strategic planning through a set of meetings, as might happen in
a
normal organization. All relevant planning outputs will be
publicly
available for review, as well as reuse, so hopefully we can
produce some
thinking that other groups will also find useful.

We expect the strategic planning project to officially launch in
July,
although this is a preliminary kickoff of sorts as well. In the
meantime, Sue is planning to hire a project manager, a research
analyst,
and a facilitator to support it. Those jobs will be posted on the

Wikimedia Foundation site sometime during the next week. Between
now and
the launch, Sue will be hiring the project team. These positions
will
bring skills we already need, and while we want all the staff to
have
input, this will be the group designated to work particularly on
this
project.

Sue and I will also be working through the structure and
framework of
the project: essentially, which strategic questions require the
most
focus. You will hear more about this, and I will be asking for
your
views, as we begin to make progress.

--Michael Snow


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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

geni
2009/5/1 Stu West <[hidden email]>:
> - There are many things we could focus on: usability, quality,
> outreach in countries without chapters, language issues,
> technology scalability, performance, data center expansion,
> access for those with limited/no connectivity,
> legal/trademark/copyright protections, etc.
> - We can't do them all at the same time -- even with all our
> success we have limited money and volunteer energy.

Everything you've listed we already are doing at the same time.


--
geni

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

geni
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
2009/5/1 phoebe ayers <[hidden email]>:
> Besides, this is a (slightly long) generation, which makes a useful
> human-scaled measure to think in. I really want my kids, at some
> point, to be able to say in exasperation, "Mom, this isn't *your*
> Wikipedia anymore!" Or better yet: "Grandma, we are sick and tired of
> hearing how you had to write your own markup, both ways in the snow!
> We edit through the power of our minds now, OK?! Sheesh!"
>
> -- phoebe

If wikipedia like collections of information are still being written
by human beings in a couple of decades I will be rather surprised.
We've already to a large extent reached the point where the quickest
way to fill in info boxes would be computers making suggestions and
humans sanity checking them.


--
geni

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Philippe|Wiki
In reply to this post by geni

On May 1, 2009, at 3:56 PM, geni wrote:

> 2009/5/1 Stu West <[hidden email]>:
>> - There are many things we could focus on: usability, quality,
>> outreach in countries without chapters, language issues,
>> technology scalability, performance, data center expansion,
>> access for those with limited/no connectivity,
>> legal/trademark/copyright protections, etc.
>> - We can't do them all at the same time -- even with all our
>> success we have limited money and volunteer energy.
>
> Everything you've listed we already are doing at the same time.
>
>
> --  
> geni



Doing them?  Sure.  But doing them *well*, in an organized,  
structured, fully designed method?  I'm not sure we are... we're doing  
some of them really well and we're doing some of them ad hoc, and  
we're doing some of them kind of half-assed; a strategic plan is a  
collective chance for us to step back, take a deep breath, and assess  
how to proceed forward.  And, no doubt, the brainstorming sessions  
that will come out of this process will identify some areas that Stu  
didn't - some of that has already come out on this list.  It would be  
a mistake to take Stu's examples and say "well, we're doing all those  
things already" without qualifying that with "but there are going to  
be other things come up, as well".

Philippe
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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

geni
2009/5/1 philippe <[hidden email]>:
> Doing them?  Sure.  But doing them *well*, in an organized,
> structured, fully designed method?

Going by the rate of guideline and policy growth on en there is
probably a method somewhere.

> I'm not sure we are... we're doing
> some of them really well and we're doing some of them ad hoc, and
> we're doing some of them kind of half-assed; a strategic plan is a
> collective chance for us to step back, take a deep breath, and assess
> how to proceed forward.

Doesn't really work. The flawed assumption is that very little of the
wikimedia community cares about how others think they should move
forward.

> And, no doubt, the brainstorming sessions
> that will come out of this process will identify some areas that Stu
> didn't - some of that has already come out on this list.  It would be
> a mistake to take Stu's examples and say "well, we're doing all those
> things already" without qualifying that with "but there are going to
> be other things come up, as well".

Maybe but that doesn't stop me being concerned about where the
foundation appears to be starting from.

--
geni

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Philippe|Wiki


On May 1, 2009, at 4:30 PM, geni wrote:

> Doesn't really work. The flawed assumption is that very little of the
> wikimedia community cares about how others think they should move
> forward.

And that, Geni, is where I think Wikimedia is going to do it  
correctly:  if the plan goes as it has been described to us, it won't  
be "others" telling the community how to move forward, it will be the  
community having discussions and charting the course.

Philippe

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Re: More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
As the discussions about all these plans is going to be in English, it will
be very much "others" telling communities how to behave, how to move
forward. The notion that policies and guidelines are good is offset by
people who found themselves not or no longer welcome and moved away. As this
is already true for English language projects, you may appreciate that the
notion that "the" rules and guidelines are beneficial is just wrong when you
try to project them on other projects.

When you want to transcend local policies and guidelines, you have to start
thinking on a more global level. On this level there are big and small
Wikipedias, Wiktionaries, Wikibooks etc. There are projects that serve a
global need and are the victim of local constraints like Commons and also
Meta. We are not organised in a way that gives priority to the more global
issues and consequently we are very much unaware of issues that the "others"
face and why our "local" issues can be irrelevant elsewhere. Given this lack
of awareness there are few low hanging fruits because we forgot to bring the
bees to the orchard.
Thanks,
        GerardM

2009/5/2 philippe <[hidden email]>

>
>
> On May 1, 2009, at 4:30 PM, geni wrote:
>
> > Doesn't really work. The flawed assumption is that very little of the
> > wikimedia community cares about how others think they should move
> > forward.
>
> And that, Geni, is where I think Wikimedia is going to do it
> correctly:  if the plan goes as it has been described to us, it won't
> be "others" telling the community how to move forward, it will be the
> community having discussions and charting the course.
>
> Philippe
>
> _______________________________________________
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