Recent firing?

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Re: Recent firing?

geni
2009/10/31 Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>:

> I agree with Lodewijk completely.  One of the best reasons for this is
> simple human dignity.  People come and go from jobs all the time, it is
> neither a scandal, nor a shame.  Public speculation about such stuff is
> offensive and embarassing.
>
> Yes, to community-facing positions.  Yes, to high-level positions.
> Those things are relevant public information and can and should be
> discussed.
>
> But not every job is like that, nor should it be.


And the reason for speculation is that people first found out by rumor
rather than foundation announcement. Basic communication management.
Get stuff out before someone else can put their spin on it.


--
geni

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Re: Recent firing?

Sebastian Moleski
On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 10:22 PM, geni <[hidden email]> wrote:

> And the reason for speculation is that people first found out by rumor
> rather than foundation announcement. Basic communication management.
> Get stuff out before someone else can put their spin on it.
>

I have to disagree. The reason for the speculation is not the rumor. The
reason for the speculation is a misguided sense that there's some sort of
absolute right to know about these things. Jimmy's right: it makes sense
that board or upper level management positions are discussed among the
project community (although I would not consider this list to be a useful
forum of community discussion). It does not, however, make sense that this
principle be applied to someone responsible for office IT.

I don't know what the reasons were for why this particular employment is
scheduled to end. And there's no reason that I or anyone other than those
directly involved with it internally to the foundation should know. It's a
simple case of none-of-your-business.

Best regards,

Sebastian
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Re: Recent firing?

Gregory Maxwell
On Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Why would you even ask that question, let alone expect an answer? Last
> I checked, no Wikimedian also carried the title of "majority
> shareholder" or anything close. You're not entitled to sordid details
> of personnel management. Try to remember that the Wikimedia Foundation
> is a business, and needs to operate with more professionalism than
> "announce everything announce often."


On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 5:30 PM, Sebastian Moleski <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I have to disagree. The reason for the speculation is not the rumor. The
> reason for the speculation is a misguided sense that there's some sort of
> absolute right to know about these things. Jimmy's right: it makes sense
> that board or upper level management positions are discussed among the
> project community (although I would not consider this list to be a useful
> forum of community discussion). It does not, however, make sense that this
> principle be applied to someone responsible for office IT.
>
> I don't know what the reasons were for why this particular employment is
> scheduled to end. And there's no reason that I or anyone other than those
> directly involved with it internally to the foundation should know. It's a
> simple case of none-of-your-business.

Practically every state and municipal government in the US is subject
to public disclosure laws, sometimes part of 'Government in the
sunshine' legislation, which require most relevant information about
the daily operations to be made available.  This usually includes
information on employee performance, reasons for departure/dismissal,
etc. about everyone from top management through the junior
dog-catcher. Though the law usually does exclude highly
private/personal information (for example, medical information).

[I'm coming from a US centric angle here because that is what I know.
Feel free to mentally replace US locations with any other place with
robust records laws]

Accordingly, I find the supposition that being very open about the
operations of the foundation is somehow incompatible with
professionalism or ethical behaviour to be simply unsustainable.

Wikimedia is not a business. It is a publicly supported charity. The
WMF depends on the public both for the funding used to cut everyone's
paychecks and for the creation of the material which makes its sites
worth visiting. In terms of man-hours-input the community of
contributors dwarfs the foundation's full time staff considerably.

The inescapable reality of this is that the employees and officers
serve at the pleasure of the public. Although the chain is not a
direct chain of command, it is no less real.  So I don't think it's
surprising to see people making noises expressing a desire for the
kind of openness which is technically available from state and local
governance almost universally thought the US.


"In enacting this article the Legislature finds and declares that it
is the intent of the law that actions of state agencies be taken
openly and that their deliberation be conducted openly.

The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the
agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not
give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the
people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people
insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the
instruments they have created." Cal. §11120


I believe Wikimedia Foundation already has a stated goal of being on
the leading edge of organizational openness and has done well /by
commercial standards/.    Perhaps it's time to take that a step
further and voluntarily subject the organization to the public record
laws of some state or some composition or subset thereof.

Not only would this advance openness but it may help avoid arguments
over the form and level of openness by delegating those decisions to
others who have thought harder about them than we have. It may also
make cooperating with other organizations simpler because rather than
trying to explain Wikimedia's bizarre one-off openness requirements
and the inevitable debate about the wisdom of every aspect, it could
be simply pointed out that the WMF operates under some particular
rule-set used elsewhere.

Pre-existing government openness rulesets also have the advantage of
the existence of training materials for staff and layman guides for
the public.

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Re: Recent firing?

geni
In reply to this post by Sebastian Moleski
2009/10/31 Sebastian Moleski <[hidden email]>:
> I have to disagree. The reason for the speculation is not the rumor. The
> reason for the speculation is a misguided sense that there's some sort of
> absolute right to know about these things.

Something of a strawman.

No one suggesting the foundation should have made a statement has
suggested that it is due to some right to know.

Wikipedians do have an absolute right to be interested in things. They
are also rather good at finding things out. In such an environment the
rational approach is to make an announcement early to head of the
rumor mill.

> Jimmy's right: it makes sense
> that board or upper level management positions are discussed among the
> project community (although I would not consider this list to be a useful
> forum of community discussion). It does not, however, make sense that this
> principle be applied to someone responsible for office IT.

The community can and will discuss whatever it likes. Ranging from the
copyright status of File:L O Schoolhouse Brochure Cover.jpg (probably
PD due to failure to renew) to who should be on the board. Somewhere
in between you have debates back room foundation personnel. Now either
you can have these debates based on rumor and gossip in a situation
where you have people out there looking to spread malicious gossip or
you can have them based on foundation announcements.

> I don't know what the reasons were for why this particular employment is
> scheduled to end. And there's no reason that I or anyone other than those
> directly involved with it internally to the foundation should know. It's a
> simple case of none-of-your-business.


None-of-your-business? Please we are talking about wikipedians. That's
not really a concept that has wide recognition.

--
geni

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Re: Recent firing?

Anthony-73
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 3:24 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> As I said above, he wouldn't be working a month's notice if he had
> been fired.

You correctly qualified that with "In my experience people don't
usually" the first time.

In any case, the difference between "laid off" and "fired" is often
quite blurry, and people certainly often get notice when being "laid
off".

> "Resigned by mutual agreement" is more likely.

I don't know.  With the unemployment rate in the double digits, it's
often better to refuse to sign that "resignation by mutual agreement"
letter.  I wouldn't venture a guess one way or the other.

> I guess
> either a) he didn't fit in in the office, b) the job turned out to be
> not quite what he was expecting or c) he had some kind of major change
> of plan. None of those options really makes for a good rumour.

Being the head of office IT support for a bunch of techies is always a
tough job.

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Re: Recent firing?

Thomas Dalton
2009/10/31 Anthony <[hidden email]>:

> On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 3:24 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> As I said above, he wouldn't be working a month's notice if he had
>> been fired.
>
> You correctly qualified that with "In my experience people don't
> usually" the first time.
>
> In any case, the difference between "laid off" and "fired" is often
> quite blurry, and people certainly often get notice when being "laid
> off".

Perhaps this is a wrong-side-of-the-pond issue. In the UK if an
employer calls it redundancy when actually they just want to replace
you they would get sued for wrongful dismissal in an instant.

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Re: Recent firing?

Nathan Awrich
In reply to this post by geni
Geni, Thomas and MZMcbride suggest that the Foundation should announce
the dismissal of low-impact employees because otherwise the rumor mill
will make up stories. Perhaps you're right that the spread of rumors
is inevitable, but you don't seem to acknowledge your own role in
this. Even so, "Wikipedians will do what Wikipedians will do" is not
the best argument for immediately publishing sensitive employment
information, particularly when doing so may go against various
elements of employment law and/or simple best practice.

Gregory Maxwell argues that the Wikimedia Foundation should
voluntarily submit to the type of openness required of government
agencies; I suspect this is a fundamental difference of philosophy,
and relates to why I mentioned "majority shareholder" in my initial
post. As the Wikimedia community, what level of detailed control are
we entitled to? We have some of the hallmarks of the role of the
shareholder but not others, in that legally we have no particular
rights to the Foundation but practically we control the Board
composition through elections. The information given to shareholders
of large, publicly owned corporations in the United States varies
widely, but generally speaking announcements are not made about the
hiring or departure of non-executive staff. Gregory cites a California
statute, but all governments are not equally open:

North Carolina:

<quote>
� 126‑22.� Personnel files not subject to inspection under � 132‑6.
Personnel files of State employees, former State employees, or
applicants for State employment shall not be subject to inspection and
examination as authorized by G.S. 132‑6. For purposes of this Article,
a personnel file consists of any information gathered by the
department, division, bureau, commission, council, or other agency
subject to Article 7 of this Chapter which employs an individual,
previously employed an individual, or considered an individual's
application for employment, or by the office of State Personnel, and
which information relates to the individual's application, selection
or nonselection, promotions, demotions, transfers, leave, salary,
suspension, performance evaluation forms, disciplinary actions, and
termination of employment wherever located and in whatever form.
Personnel files of former State employees who have been separated from
State employment for 10 or more years may be open to inspection and
examination except for papers and documents relating to demotions and
to disciplinary actions resulting in the dismissal of the employee.
(1975, c. 257, s. 1; 1977, c. 866, s. 9.)
<endquote>

Even California is not as permissive as you imply; see
http://www.sos.ca.gov/admin/pdf/sos_pra_guidelines.pdf (Records Exempt
from Public Disclosure) and
http://law.onecle.com/california/government/6254.html (Government Code
Section 6254 Paragraph C, describing the exemption of personnel
records from public disclosure).

In my opinion we should be informed about changes and actions that
affect the Foundation and its operations or substantially impact the
execution of its mission. This can include broad employment
information on some employees, as evidenced by the recent announced
departure of Jennifer Riggs. Maybe some people want the gory details
when anyone is fired; every office has people like that. But we're not
entitled to it, its poor manners to ask, and the Foundation is right
to decline such requests.

Nathan

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Re: Recent firing?

Anthony-73
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 7:24 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> 2009/10/31 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
>> On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 3:24 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> As I said above, he wouldn't be working a month's notice if he had
>>> been fired.
>>
>> You correctly qualified that with "In my experience people don't
>> usually" the first time.
>>
>> In any case, the difference between "laid off" and "fired" is often
>> quite blurry, and people certainly often get notice when being "laid
>> off".
>
> Perhaps this is a wrong-side-of-the-pond issue. In the UK if an
> employer calls it redundancy when actually they just want to replace
> you they would get sued for wrongful dismissal in an instant.

Yeah.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment

Here in the US, if a company doesn't mind its unemployment tax rate
going up, they can do pretty much whatever they want.

In the UK, what, if anything, can a company do if they want to
redefine a position altogether?

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Re: Recent firing?

Thomas Dalton
2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
> Yeah.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment
>
> Here in the US, if a company doesn't mind its unemployment tax rate
> going up, they can do pretty much whatever they want.
>
> In the UK, what, if anything, can a company do if they want to
> redefine a position altogether?

If you are genuinely redefining the position so the existing job will
no longer exist then you can make the employee redundant (you have to
pay at least the statutory redundancy pay, which depends on length of
service). If you are just using it as an excuse to get rid of someone
you don't like, you'll get sued. If you want to fire someone they have
to have done something either really seriously wrong or have received
lots of warnings and not improved.

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Re: Recent firing?

Anthony-73
On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 8:08 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
>> In the UK, what, if anything, can a company do if they want to
>> redefine a position altogether?
>
> If you are genuinely redefining the position so the existing job will
> no longer exist then you can make the employee redundant (you have to
> pay at least the statutory redundancy pay, which depends on length of
> service).

Like, say, if you have two offices that combine into one big office?

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Re: Recent firing?

Thomas Dalton
2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:

> On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 8:08 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> 2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
>>> In the UK, what, if anything, can a company do if they want to
>>> redefine a position altogether?
>>
>> If you are genuinely redefining the position so the existing job will
>> no longer exist then you can make the employee redundant (you have to
>> pay at least the statutory redundancy pay, which depends on length of
>> service).
>
> Like, say, if you have two offices that combine into one big office?

Yes, that would generally result in genuine redundancies.

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Re: Recent firing?

Pedro Sanchez-2
In reply to this post by Nathan Awrich
On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 5:47 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Gregory Maxwell argues that the Wikimedia Foundation should
> voluntarily submit to the type of openness required of government
> agencies; I suspect this is a fundamental difference of philosophy,
> and relates to why I mentioned "majority shareholder" in my initial
> post. As the Wikimedia community, what level of detailed control are
> we entitled to? We have some of the hallmarks of the role of the
> shareholder but not others, in that legally we have no particular
> rights to the Foundation but practically we control the Board
> composition through elections.
>


Greg raises a very strong point that demolishes your reply. You say
"wikipedia is a business, therefore..." and of course... Wikipedia is not a
bussiness (perhaps you mixed up with wikia?)
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Re: Recent firing?

Anthony-73
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 8:19 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:

> 2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
>> On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 8:08 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>> 2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
>>>> In the UK, what, if anything, can a company do if they want to
>>>> redefine a position altogether?
>>>
>>> If you are genuinely redefining the position so the existing job will
>>> no longer exist then you can make the employee redundant (you have to
>>> pay at least the statutory redundancy pay, which depends on length of
>>> service).
>>
>> Like, say, if you have two offices that combine into one big office?
>
> Yes, that would generally result in genuine redundancies.

And, of course, is exactly what the Wikimedia Foundation just did.

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Re: Recent firing?

Nathan Awrich
In reply to this post by Pedro Sanchez-2
On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 8:31 PM, Pedro Sanchez <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 5:47 PM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>>
>> Gregory Maxwell argues that the Wikimedia Foundation should
>> voluntarily submit to the type of openness required of government
>> agencies; I suspect this is a fundamental difference of philosophy,
>> and relates to why I mentioned "majority shareholder" in my initial
>> post. As the Wikimedia community, what level of detailed control are
>> we entitled to? We have some of the hallmarks of the role of the
>> shareholder but not others, in that legally we have no particular
>> rights to the Foundation but practically we control the Board
>> composition through elections.
>>
>
>
> Greg raises a very strong point that demolishes your reply. You say
> "wikipedia is a business, therefore..." and of course... Wikipedia is not a
> bussiness (perhaps you mixed up with wikia?)
> _______________________________________________


I'll stipulate that "corporation" is a more accurate term. I don't see
how the semantic difference impacts my reply. But thanks for making
sure I wasn't confusing the various entities.

Nathan

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Re: Recent firing?

WJhonson
In reply to this post by MZMcBride
In a message dated 10/31/2009 12:32:11 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
[hidden email] writes:


>
> It's possible, but since that would require the WMF to intentionally
> mislead the community and there is no evidence to support it, I think
> it is unlikely to be the case.>>

That would be true only if the Foundation had actually made a statement of
some sort, and they haven't.  So they aren't misleading by silence, they
just aren't commenting at all.

Will
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Re: Recent firing?

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Anthony-73
2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
>>> Like, say, if you have two offices that combine into one big office?
>>
>> Yes, that would generally result in genuine redundancies.
>
> And, of course, is exactly what the Wikimedia Foundation just did.

Sure, but in this case there wasn't any duplication of roles between
the offices, to the best of my knowledge. The Staff page on the
foundation site mentions two people involved with Office IT Support,
Ariel Glenn and Steve Kent. I may be completely wrong, but I was under
the impression they both worked in the main office prior to the move.
I didn't think there was anyone in the usability office handling IT
support - half the group are programmers, so I doubt they have many
problems on a day-to-day basis and someone could go over from the main
office pretty quickly if needed.

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Re: Recent firing?

Anthony-73
On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 8:54 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
>>>> Like, say, if you have two offices that combine into one big office?
>>>
>>> Yes, that would generally result in genuine redundancies.
>>
>> And, of course, is exactly what the Wikimedia Foundation just did.
>
> Sure, but in this case there wasn't any duplication of roles between
> the offices, to the best of my knowledge.

But "the best of your knowledge" is that you don't know what happened.
 You're quick to criticize the rumor that he was fired, but then you
yourself engage in speculating that he wasn't fired (and presenting
that speculation as fact).  We don't know what happened.  It could be
any one of a large number of things.

If you'd like to respond to this, fine.  I'm done commenting on this
subthread.  Sorry for the multiple messages, everyone.

Anthony

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Re: Recent firing?

Thomas Dalton
2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:

> On Sat, Oct 31, 2009 at 8:54 PM, Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> 2009/11/1 Anthony <[hidden email]>:
>>>>> Like, say, if you have two offices that combine into one big office?
>>>>
>>>> Yes, that would generally result in genuine redundancies.
>>>
>>> And, of course, is exactly what the Wikimedia Foundation just did.
>>
>> Sure, but in this case there wasn't any duplication of roles between
>> the offices, to the best of my knowledge.
>
> But "the best of your knowledge" is that you don't know what happened.
>  You're quick to criticize the rumor that he was fired, but then you
> yourself engage in speculating that he wasn't fired (and presenting
> that speculation as fact).  We don't know what happened.  It could be
> any one of a large number of things.

I have never heard of someone being fired and working a month's notice
and without evidence to the contrary I will assume that the WMF aren't
trying to intentionally mislead us about who is and isn't working for
them. That leaves me to assume he was not fired. There are all kinds
of other possibilities; I've listed the ones I think are most likely
earlier in this thread.

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Re: Recent firing?

WJhonson
In reply to this post by MZMcBride
In a message dated 10/31/2009 6:18:19 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
[hidden email] writes:


> I have never heard of someone being fired and working a month's notice
> and without evidence to the contrary I will assume that the WMF aren't
> trying to intentionally mislead us about who is and isn't working for
> them. That leaves me to assume he was not fired. There are all kinds
> of other possibilities; I've listed the ones I think are most likely
> earlier in this thread.>>

Sure you have Thomas.  It happens all the time.  At one of my jobs I was
fired and still "worked" for three more weeks.  Of course I wasn't actually
there, but I was still listed as there for three more weeks and got paid for
it.

And again they are not intentionally misleading you by being silent, and
the mere appearence of an "end date" is not a statement that someone is
"working".  You may as well say it's a statement of the last day of their
severence package.  I don't find that date evidentionary that a person is still
physically on-site.

One of my bosses had a six-month parachute.  For the first month he
actually showed up! (believe it or dont) and sat in his office making phone calls
to his broker or golf buddies.  The remaining five months he didnt even
bother to show up.  He was still listed on the payroll "working" throughout the
six month period.  And that's what the personnel records show.

Will

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Re: Recent firing?

Thomas Dalton
2009/11/1  <[hidden email]>:

> In a message dated 10/31/2009 6:18:19 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> [hidden email] writes:
>
>
>> I have never heard of someone being fired and working a month's notice
>> and without evidence to the contrary I will assume that the WMF aren't
>> trying to intentionally mislead us about who is and isn't working for
>> them. That leaves me to assume he was not fired. There are all kinds
>> of other possibilities; I've listed the ones I think are most likely
>> earlier in this thread.>>
>
> Sure you have Thomas.  It happens all the time.  At one of my jobs I was
> fired and still "worked" for three more weeks.  Of course I wasn't actually
> there, but I was still listed as there for three more weeks and got paid for
> it.

Were you actually fired or did you resign after it was made clear to
you that they didn't want you there any more? There is a difference
(the latter looks better on your CV, for example).

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123456