Our values

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Our values

Florence Devouard-2
Hello,

In the past few months, the WMF has adopted officially a vision
(tagline) and clarified its mission statement.

The difference between the two is that the vision is the dream, what we
are trying to do, even if that seems impossible. This is the long long
long future.
The mission is the more practical path we decide to follow to reach our
vision.

Currently, you may find our vision
here:http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Vision

and the mission there:
http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Mission

--------

A next step for a non-profit is to define its values. Values are the
driving force in a nonprofit.

Before you tell me "what's that boring stuff and why on earth would it
be useful for", let me explain :-)

Values represent the core priorities in the organization’s culture,
including what drives people's priorities and how they truly act in the
organization, etc.

I'd like that we establish four to six core values from which the WMF
would operate. These values would not only be the values glueing us all
together (such as free culture, commitment to diversity etc...), but
should also be the values YOU, as an editing community, want the WMF to
have toward the community, the readers, the staff, etc...

The more we expand the staff, the more chance there is that part of the
staff joins WMF with no single idea of our values. So the more it
becomes important for us to make sure the staff understand our values
and respect them. As such, writing down them will help.

Same for chapters. Until now, we consider that a chapter sharing most of
its mission statement with WMF one is a "like minded" organization. But
will it always be true in the future when we have 200 chapters ? How
will we identify and check that chapters are really on the same "foot" ?

Even without going as far, we might meet a problem sooner than we can
think of, if a big company just decide to create a BIG encyclopedia for
free, which, for whatever reasons, would get good ranks on some search
engines.... in this case, what would be important to us ?
Probably, it will be important that we explain to the world what is
truely important to us. What is truely important are values.

----------

I would like to ask you to have a look at the value page on meta:
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Values

And add more suggestions there, or different phrasings. Values can be
expressed by keywords, or by sentences. Either are fine, as long as they
express what is important to us.
Or comment on some of the keywords already there.


Be careful to notice the difference between our preferred values and the
true values (those actually reflected by members behaviors). In this
case, just put a note (''we are not very good on this, but I think this
value would be very important to us to follow).


The current values were defined with the help of the advisory board
member, during the board retreat immediately before Wikimania.
More on this here: http://advisory.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meeting_August_2007

Thanks to all for your help.


Anthere


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Re: Our values

Mark
Florence Devouard wrote:
> I would like to ask you to have a look at the value page on meta:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Values
>
> And add more suggestions there, or different phrasings. Values can be
> expressed by keywords, or by sentences. Either are fine, as long as they
> express what is important to us.
> Or comment on some of the keywords already there.
>  

This strikes me as somewhat reversed from our typical practice---we have
goals, like creating a neutral, wide-coverage, multi-lingual
encyclopedia, or a repository of free media, etc., and then we choose
means to those goals based on what we find works and doesn't work. We
use wikis, for example, because they work better than Nupedia did, not
because we love wikis; and we use consensus-based decision making
because it seems to work better than the alternatives, not because we
have some attachment to consensus-based political systems ([[en:WP:NOT]]
has said as much for many years).

The same goes with the things on that list---we encourage diversity
because diverse groups of contributors tend to reach less biased and
more wide-reaching consensus; we encourage friendliness because it makes
the whole process go smoother; and so on. But this seems to be setting
those values up as the organization's values per se, which seems
backwards. When it comes to Wikimedia projects, I don't think we should
specifically value friendliness, or diversity, or openness, or trust,
for their own sake. In particular, I can see situations where we
*wouldn't* want to put undue value on openness or trust, if they didn't
serve our mission (at the moment they mostly do).

An exception is the first value on the list, "right to knowledge". Now
*that* sounds like the sort of thing that should be on our list of core
values, because it actually relates to our vision and mission.
Principles of community organization, on the other hand, I think should
remain means to an end, since organizing ourselves is just a way to
carry out our mission, not the actual mission (we aren't a social club
or something).

-Mark


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Re: Our values

Erik Moeller-4
On 9/1/07, Delirium <[hidden email]> wrote:

> This strikes me as somewhat reversed from our typical practice---we have
> goals, like creating a neutral, wide-coverage, multi-lingual
> encyclopedia, or a repository of free media, etc., and then we choose
> means to those goals based on what we find works and doesn't work. We
> use wikis, for example, because they work better than Nupedia did, not
> because we love wikis; and we use consensus-based decision making
> because it seems to work better than the alternatives, not because we
> have some attachment to consensus-based political systems ([[en:WP:NOT]]
> has said as much for many years).

To some extent I agree with you. However:

- Quality (which encompasses many dimensions) may at first seem
blatantly obvious, but it's quite clear that many similar knowledge
collecting websites do _not_ emphasize quality, sometimes deliberately
so to focus on collecting large amounts of factoids or uploads (think
UrbanDictionary. YouTube). I'm not sure how much one can believe in
quality as a "value", though.

- I do not believe that we should ever sacrifice friendliness "for the
greater good". At the most, we should downgrade it to politeness, but
we should never be impolite or unfriendly, and in fact build a
community which strongly emphasizes this throughout its projects.
(Mind you, I do not claim that I or anyone else can always live up to
that goal, but I consider it a failing when we do not do so.) Anyone
who has been on the Internet for a while knows that this idea is far
from self-evident.

- "Participation" and "openness" are perhaps a bit shallow, but it
seems clear that we are trying to empower the greatest number of
people possible to make a positive contribution to free knowledge &
free culture. We're not trying to empower idiots and trolls, of
course. How could this goal of empowering _good_ contributors be
phrased as a value?

I like the slogan "knowledge without boundaries" because it
encompasses, in my view, this element of openness, while also
describing a few other beliefs (the value of knowledge, the idea that
everyone should have access to free education, and so forth).

- I liked the explanation of the word "pioneering" that the group gave
which came up with it. We're not always the first to come up with a
great feature, but we sure as hell are quick to integrate it if it's
libre & useful.

- I do not much like "diversity" as a value and said as much during
our discussions; it sounds too much like corporate-speak to me without
really signifying much.
--
Toward Peace, Love & Progress:
Erik

DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.

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Re: Our values

Matthew Britton-2
Erik Moeller wrote:
> - I do not believe that we should ever sacrifice friendliness "for the
> greater good".
You haven't edited the English Wikipedia recently, have you?

-Gurch

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Re: Our values

Florence Devouard-3
Matthew Britton wrote:
> Erik Moeller wrote:
>> - I do not believe that we should ever sacrifice friendliness "for the
>> greater good".
> You haven't edited the English Wikipedia recently, have you?
>
> -Gurch

Well...

This is also what I mean by difference between "preferred values" and
"actual values".

It seems to me that "wikilove" is something most of us would like to see
as one of our value (a mix of respect for others, what they do, what
they believe in, and a desire to listen to them rather than just
straight telling them they are jerks if they believe in blablabla...).
It is a desire of empathy for others. For some of us, it is because it
is the type of environment they prefer. For others, very practically,
because it is *good* for the project to have a great diversity of
approaches and skills, and we can not have this diversity if there is
not a minimum of tolerance and trust.

This said, we can not make wikilove a rule, a policy, but certainly a
guideline in how we expect editors to behave one with each other.
On some websites, the people are not expected to behave nicely with each
others. In some TV shows, you are even expected to be nasty and vicious
with the other people on the stage. I would hope that the majority of us
would prefer respect and tolerance at a minimum. Limits of tolerance are
very quickly reached when a very racist person, or a pedophile, or a
extrem-right wing person is editing. But still, we do not ban them on
the spot, right ?
Wikilove can only be a guidelines, a hope.

That does not mean that this guidelines is always respected. Yes, there
are edit wars, yes, there are personal attacks, yes, there is
cyberstalking etc... and yes the english wikipedia is not always very
friendly. But is this really the type of working environment we are
looking for ?

Ant


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Re: Our values

Effe iets anders
Although friendlyness is nice to new editors, there is also a certain
type of friendlyness to the readers. That is usability in the broadest
sense of the word. The content should be in such a shape that it is
easy to use. websites should be in such a layout and accessibility
that they are easy to find the information. Etc. And there is also
Friendlyness towards re-users of the content. That could include the
making available in a nice and friendly way of database dumps etc.
Maybe friendlyness is not the best word, but I certainly agree that it
is important, not only towards (new) editors, but also towards readers
and re-users.

Best regards,

Lodewijk

2007/9/1, Florence Devouard <[hidden email]>:

> Matthew Britton wrote:
> > Erik Moeller wrote:
> >> - I do not believe that we should ever sacrifice friendliness "for the
> >> greater good".
> > You haven't edited the English Wikipedia recently, have you?
> >
> > -Gurch
>
> Well...
>
> This is also what I mean by difference between "preferred values" and
> "actual values".
>
> It seems to me that "wikilove" is something most of us would like to see
> as one of our value (a mix of respect for others, what they do, what
> they believe in, and a desire to listen to them rather than just
> straight telling them they are jerks if they believe in blablabla...).
> It is a desire of empathy for others. For some of us, it is because it
> is the type of environment they prefer. For others, very practically,
> because it is *good* for the project to have a great diversity of
> approaches and skills, and we can not have this diversity if there is
> not a minimum of tolerance and trust.
>
> This said, we can not make wikilove a rule, a policy, but certainly a
> guideline in how we expect editors to behave one with each other.
> On some websites, the people are not expected to behave nicely with each
> others. In some TV shows, you are even expected to be nasty and vicious
> with the other people on the stage. I would hope that the majority of us
> would prefer respect and tolerance at a minimum. Limits of tolerance are
> very quickly reached when a very racist person, or a pedophile, or a
> extrem-right wing person is editing. But still, we do not ban them on
> the spot, right ?
> Wikilove can only be a guidelines, a hope.
>
> That does not mean that this guidelines is always respected. Yes, there
> are edit wars, yes, there are personal attacks, yes, there is
> cyberstalking etc... and yes the english wikipedia is not always very
> friendly. But is this really the type of working environment we are
> looking for ?
>
> Ant
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

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Re: Our values

Marc Riddell
on 9/1/07 8:13 AM, effe iets anders at [hidden email] wrote:

> Maybe friendlyness is not the best word, but I certainly agree that it
> is important, not only towards (new) editors, but also towards readers
> and re-users.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Lodewijk

Three words come immediately to my mind: helpfulness, consideration and
kindness.

Marc Riddell

--
* Practice random acts of kindness. *


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Re: Our values

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Matthew Britton-2
Matthew Britton wrote:
> Erik Moeller wrote:
>  
>> - I do not believe that we should ever sacrifice friendliness "for the
>> greater good".
>>    
> You haven't edited the English Wikipedia recently, have you?
If we let ourselves be guided by the excesses of some English
Wikipedians, and use that or a reaction to that as a foundation for our
values we are deeper in the doo-doo than I ever would have imagined.

Ec

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Re: Our values

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
On 9/1/07, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Matthew Britton wrote:
> > Erik Moeller wrote:
> >
> >> - I do not believe that we should ever sacrifice friendliness "for the
> >> greater good".
> >>
> > You haven't edited the English Wikipedia recently, have you?
> If we let ourselves be guided by the excesses of some English
> Wikipedians, and use that or a reaction to that as a foundation for our
> values we are deeper in the doo-doo than I ever would have imagined.

You had me till "excesses of some". While I can not pretend to speak
for anyone but myself, I cannot deny that emphasizing various super-
ordinate goals (wisely or otherwise; I genuinely will not say which) has
led to a *systemic* culture of "balancing" the value of contributions
and the behaviour of the contributors who have made them. The
Arbitration Committee deserves much of the praise/blame here.

--
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen, ~ [[User:Cimon Avaro]]

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Re: Our values

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Florence Devouard-2
Florence Devouard wrote:
> A next step for a non-profit is to define its values. Values are the
> driving force in a nonprofit.
>  
What are the five pillars if they are not values.  They may also be
called principles, but I don't see any benefit in trying to analyse the
difference between values and principles.
> Before you tell me "what's that boring stuff and why on earth would it
> be useful for", let me explain :-)
>  
Boring?  This is the fun stuff. It makes people think.
> Values represent the core priorities in the organization’s culture,
> including what drives people's priorities and how they truly act in the
> organization, etc.
>  
Principles, not priorities.  Priorities have more to do with the order
in which we want to do things.  It's about what we should be doing now
and what can wait a while longer to be done.
> I'd like that we establish four to six core values from which the WMF
> would operate. These values would not only be the values glueing us all
> together (such as free culture, commitment to diversity etc...), but
> should also be the values YOU, as an editing community, want the WMF to
> have toward the community, the readers, the staff, etc...
>  
My first impression, with respect, was to find this last part strangely
worded, but mostly in terms of who is doing what for whom.  The
relationship between WMF and the editing communities (plural, not
singular) is indeed the glue that holds it all together.  The values of
the WMF should be a synthesis of the values _of_ the communities.  (not
"towards").  With luck the communities will reflect the values of the
readers.  Staff that does not have an intimate acquaintance with the
values should not be hired in the first place.
> The more we expand the staff, the more chance there is that part of the
> staff joins WMF with no single idea of our values. So the more it
> becomes important for us to make sure the staff understand our values
> and respect them. As such, writing down them will help.
>  
Yes, and if the statement of values is more than one printed page long
it is too long.  Give a prospective employee a copy of the statement,
well ahead of time, and make it a talking point in the job interview.  
Once a statement is drafted this should be one of the easier facets of
the subjec.
> Same for chapters. Until now, we consider that a chapter sharing most of
> its mission statement with WMF one is a "like minded" organization. But
> will it always be true in the future when we have 200 chapters ? How
> will we identify and check that chapters are really on the same "foot" ?
>  
WMF will always retain the right to recognize the chapters, and to
withdraw that recognition.  The same goes with the licensing of
WMF-owned trademarks.  Centipedes manage quite effectively to not step
on their own feet.  I don't see his as a big problem, and hopefully,
once a chapter is established the checking should not be so detailed as
to resemble micromanagement.
> Even without going as far, we might meet a problem sooner than we can
> think of, if a big company just decide to create a BIG encyclopedia for
> free, which, for whatever reasons, would get good ranks on some search
> engines.... in this case, what would be important to us ?
> Probably, it will be important that we explain to the world what is
> truely important to us. What is truely important are values.
>  
Anybody can establish a mirror, and make it available for no cost, and
perhaps get good rankings.  Is that alone what really worries us?  
Values are important, but having to explain them to the world is
certainly not as important as living those values.  Being able to
refresh our thinking, and being able to provide added-value will help to
keep us ahead of the curve.  Until this other BIG encyclopedia is able
to compete on that level, and able to provide a comparably dynamic
product that is being perpetually revised they can't compete.  What
would it have cost to put Wikipedia together as a proprietary project
with all the editors being paid a fair wage?
> Be careful to notice the difference between our preferred values and the
> true values (those actually reflected by members behaviors).
>  
I don't see this as a helpful distinction.  Values are too fundamental.
> The current values were defined with the help of the advisory board
> member, during the board retreat immediately before Wikimania.
> More on this here: http://advisory.wikimedia.org/wiki/Meeting_August_2007
>  
No.  The values were already there.  Perhaps they might have been poorly
codified.  Had they not been there, neither you nor I would have stuck
around for over five years.

Ec



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Re: Our values

Waerth
In reply to this post by Florence Devouard-3

> This said, we can not make wikilove a rule, a policy, but certainly a
> guideline in how we expect editors to behave one with each other.
> On some websites, the people are not expected to behave nicely with each
> others. In some TV shows, you are even expected to be nasty and vicious
> with the other people on the stage. I would hope that the majority of us
> would prefer respect and tolerance at a minimum. Limits of tolerance are
> very quickly reached when a very racist person, or a pedophile, or a
> extrem-right wing person is editing. But still, we do not ban them on
> the spot, right ?

On nl.wiktionairy someone got blocked for eternity for having a
different opinion. The reason given was that the Dutch wiktionairy
doesn't have time to deal with people with different vieuws, And no the
person blocked is not me. But I tried to talk to the mod blocking. So
the answer is YES in the wikimedia projects you DO GET blocked for
having a different vieuw. And no this person wasn't talked to. Immediate
block.

Waerth



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Re: Our values

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-4
Erik Moeller wrote:

> On 9/1/07, Delirium <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>> This strikes me as somewhat reversed from our typical practice---we have
>> goals, like creating a neutral, wide-coverage, multi-lingual
>> encyclopedia, or a repository of free media, etc., and then we choose
>> means to those goals based on what we find works and doesn't work. We
>> use wikis, for example, because they work better than Nupedia did, not
>> because we love wikis; and we use consensus-based decision making
>> because it seems to work better than the alternatives, not because we
>> have some attachment to consensus-based political systems ([[en:WP:NOT]]
>> has said as much for many years).
>>    
> To some extent I agree with you. However:
>
> - Quality (which encompasses many dimensions) may at first seem
> blatantly obvious, but it's quite clear that many similar knowledge
> collecting websites do _not_ emphasize quality, sometimes deliberately
> so to focus on collecting large amounts of factoids or uploads (think
> UrbanDictionary. YouTube). I'm not sure how much one can believe in
> quality as a "value", though.
>  
At first blush quality seems like an obvious value, but when you reflect
upon it it ends up looking like some kind of weaselly tautology.  
Everyone except the vandals wants a better Wikipedia.  Even the
neo-Nazis, when considered from their own warped perspective, want to
improve Wikipedia.  As long as individuals insist on their own
interpretation of quality it becomes a convenient justification for all
manner of incivility, for pompous notions of notability and for removing
concepts before their full impact can be evaluated.  An obsession with
quality destroys quality.
> - I do not believe that we should ever sacrifice friendliness "for the
> greater good". At the most, we should downgrade it to politeness, but
> we should never be impolite or unfriendly, and in fact build a
> community which strongly emphasizes this throughout its projects.
> (Mind you, I do not claim that I or anyone else can always live up to
> that goal, but I consider it a failing when we do not do so.) Anyone
> who has been on the Internet for a while knows that this idea is far
> from self-evident.
>  
Absolutely.  Whether you call it friendliness or politeness doesn't
really matter.  And too, we always need to be aware of our human
fallibilities, to the point where we recognize that we are all prone to
occasionally act out of frustration. Perhaps the implicit value here is
that Wikipedians are as important as Wikipedia, and that the process of
contributing is as important as he contribution itself.  Persistent
bullying should be frowned upon as much as any other bad behaviour.
> - "Participation" and "openness" are perhaps a bit shallow, but it
> seems clear that we are trying to empower the greatest number of
> people possible to make a positive contribution to free knowledge &
> free culture. We're not trying to empower idiots and trolls, of
> course. How could this goal of empowering _good_ contributors be
> phrased as a value?
>  
The value is that anybody can edit.  Some restrictions remain necessary
to deal with the worst offenders, but they must remain minimal.  Some
forms of bad behaviour occur only rarely.  For much of these it may be
simpler to just clean up the damage and go on with life instead of
implementing sophisticated prevention measures that make everybody's
life miserable.
> I like the slogan "knowledge without boundaries" because it
> encompasses, in my view, this element of openness, while also
> describing a few other beliefs (the value of knowledge, the idea that
> everyone should have access to free education, and so forth).
>  
Perhaps this could shorten to "knowledge unbounded". ;-)
Put out a few possibilities and see which get used.
> - I liked the explanation of the word "pioneering" that the group gave
> which came up with it. We're not always the first to come up with a
> great feature, but we sure as hell are quick to integrate it if it's
> libre & useful.
>  
We are well into uncharted paradigms.  We ain't seen nothin' yet!
> - I do not much like "diversity" as a value and said as much during
> our discussions; it sounds too much like corporate-speak to me without
> really signifying much.
>  
Yeah, it's like all those people who say that they have discussed a
variety of solutions to a problem, but are unable to specify a single
one. :-)

Ec


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Re: Our values

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Florence Devouard-3
Florence Devouard wrote:

> It seems to me that "wikilove" is something most of us would like to see
> as one of our value (a mix of respect for others, what they do, what
> they believe in, and a desire to listen to them rather than just
> straight telling them they are jerks if they believe in blablabla...).
> It is a desire of empathy for others. For some of us, it is because it
> is the type of environment they prefer. For others, very practically,
> because it is *good* for the project to have a great diversity of
> approaches and skills, and we can not have this diversity if there is
> not a minimum of tolerance and trust.
>
> This said, we can not make wikilove a rule, a policy, but certainly a
> guideline in how we expect editors to behave one with each other.
>  
Maybe this is what distinguishes a value from a rule or policy.

We can envision a collaborative environment where empathy and mutual
respect have clear constructive benefits, but those of us with that
vision are still a minority.  The competitive model that favors the
superior performance of one person to the exclusion of all others is not
about to die easily. It has too long been a part of fundamental social
structures, including educational systems.
> On some websites, the people are not expected to behave nicely with each
> others. In some TV shows, you are even expected to be nasty and vicious
> with the other people on the stage.
Things haven't changed much from the time when people were put into the
Roman Colosseum to fight with lions.
> I would hope that the majority of us
> would prefer respect and tolerance at a minimum. Limits of tolerance are
> very quickly reached when a very racist person, or a pedophile, or a
> extrem-right wing person is editing. But still, we do not ban them on
> the spot, right ?
>  
These extreme views may be the loudest, but they are not the most
important.  They are blatantly obvious, and thus the most easily monitored.
> Wikilove can only be a guidelines, a hope.
>
> That does not mean that this guidelines is always respected. Yes, there
> are edit wars, yes, there are personal attacks, yes, there is
> cyberstalking etc... and yes the english wikipedia is not always very
> friendly. But is this really the type of working environment we are
> looking for ?
It's a work in progress with much to be done.

Ec


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