[Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

Jimmy Wales-5
On 2/29/16 7:00 AM, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
> A few days ago, Oliver Keyes said[1] here on this list that, even though he
> had already quit his job, he was scared to share with people the content of
> the non-disclosure agreement he had to sign as a WMF staff member.
>
> Do you believe the various non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement
> clauses that staff have to sign to work at the WMF should be public? Will
> you encourage staff to share their content, in the interests of
> transparency?

I don't know, as I haven't seen those.  If there is a standard
boilerplate non-disclosure agrement that all staff sign (normal
practice) then I don't see any reason why that shouldn't be made public.
 I also don't see much reason *for* it to be made public, if it's just
the usual sort of thing.  I don't see that it matters much either way,
to be frank.

In some cases, employees will be bound by specific nondisclosure
agreements with partner organizations that bind the Foundation.  I would
not say that publishing the details of those makes sense.  Let me give a
purely hypothetical example for the sake of clarity.

Suppose we negotiate with a vendor to buy some hardware and manage to
get a great discount because the vendor loves Wikipedia.  The vendor
might say, hey, look, I can only give this discount to Wikipedia, and it
would hurt my competitive position in the marketplace if the price I'm
giving you were well known.  So they'll say, hey, I can give you this
discount, but only under a nondisclosure agreement.

I wouldn't support publishing that nondisclosure agreement.



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

Dariusz Jemielniak-4
In reply to this post by Andreas Kolbe-2
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 10:00 AM, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Do you believe the various non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement
> clauses that staff have to sign to work at the WMF should be public? Will
> you encourage staff to share their content, in the interests of
> transparency?
>
>
There are different ways to perceive the WMF and different benchmarks to
relate to.  If we perceive the WMF as a Silicon Valley, high-tech
organization, that just happens to be organized as an NGO, and is
contemporarily relying on an open collaboration in a community of editors
(until the machines can substitute them), then surely good benchmarks will
be other Silicon Valley organizations, and using the industry standard
non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements make sense.

I believe that we are something else. We are a social movement, and the WMF
is a mission-driven NGO, that has its top competence in supporting the open
knowledge community, and happens to be pretty good at legal and tech
support, too. But tech has a supportive, not leading role. We,
theoretically, could outsource a lot of tech, but we could not outsource a
lot of community work.

Therefore I believe that better benchmarks would be other rights- and
access-oriented NGOs (Amnesty International? Soros Foundation?), F/L/OSS
movement (Apache Foundation? EFF?), and universities (Oxford? Harvard?
Sorbonne?). By understanding these benchmarks, we can build adequate
standards of transparency, and follow suit in legalese. I believe that a
lot of our current tensions stem basically from not formulating the
fundamental vision of who we are and who we want to be.

dj
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

Jimmy Wales-5
I agree with Dariusz on this, and have 2 additional thoughts:

1. I'm not sure that Silicon Valley organizations as a whole are more
secretive than many NGOs.  Some are famously super secretive - Apple.
Others are not really - Automattic (Wordpress).  Some NGOs tend to be
very controlling of messages, and some not so much.

2. The overall point, I think, is that we should make sure that employee
agreements are on the open end of the spectrum.  F/L/OSS movements and
organizations tend to be much more open than other organizations.  We're
a strongly community-driven movement *about the free sharing of
knowledge* - so our culture means we need to push openness to a point
that most organizations would find bewildering.

--Jimbo


On 2/29/16 7:26 AM, Dariusz Jemielniak wrote:

> On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 10:00 AM, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Do you believe the various non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement
>> clauses that staff have to sign to work at the WMF should be public? Will
>> you encourage staff to share their content, in the interests of
>> transparency?
>>
>>
> There are different ways to perceive the WMF and different benchmarks to
> relate to.  If we perceive the WMF as a Silicon Valley, high-tech
> organization, that just happens to be organized as an NGO, and is
> contemporarily relying on an open collaboration in a community of editors
> (until the machines can substitute them), then surely good benchmarks will
> be other Silicon Valley organizations, and using the industry standard
> non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements make sense.
>
> I believe that we are something else. We are a social movement, and the WMF
> is a mission-driven NGO, that has its top competence in supporting the open
> knowledge community, and happens to be pretty good at legal and tech
> support, too. But tech has a supportive, not leading role. We,
> theoretically, could outsource a lot of tech, but we could not outsource a
> lot of community work.
>
> Therefore I believe that better benchmarks would be other rights- and
> access-oriented NGOs (Amnesty International? Soros Foundation?), F/L/OSS
> movement (Apache Foundation? EFF?), and universities (Oxford? Harvard?
> Sorbonne?). By understanding these benchmarks, we can build adequate
> standards of transparency, and follow suit in legalese. I believe that a
> lot of our current tensions stem basically from not formulating the
> fundamental vision of who we are and who we want to be.
>
> dj
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>


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

Andreas Kolbe-2
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales-5
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:06 PM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> On 2/29/16 7:00 AM, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
> > A few days ago, Oliver Keyes said[1] here on this list that, even though
> he
> > had already quit his job, he was scared to share with people the content
> of
> > the non-disclosure agreement he had to sign as a WMF staff member.
> >
> > Do you believe the various non-disclosure agreements and
> non-disparagement
> > clauses that staff have to sign to work at the WMF should be public? Will
> > you encourage staff to share their content, in the interests of
> > transparency?
>
> I don't know, as I haven't seen those.  If there is a standard
> boilerplate non-disclosure agrement that all staff sign (normal
> practice) then I don't see any reason why that shouldn't be made public.
>  I also don't see much reason *for* it to be made public, if it's just
> the usual sort of thing.  I don't see that it matters much either way,
> to be frank.
>


Well, there's been enough interest in this over the years to justify it. It
would quell speculation.

As you are currently in SF, it should be fairly easy to arrange for someone
to post the standard, boilerplate non-disclosure
agreements/non-disparagement clauses that (1) staff and (2) management have
to sign here on this list, or lets us know where we can find them on the
WMF website.

If universities and commercial companies are able to do that, so should WMF.



> In some cases, employees will be bound by specific nondisclosure
> agreements with partner organizations that bind the Foundation.  I would
> not say that publishing the details of those makes sense.  Let me give a
> purely hypothetical example for the sake of clarity.
>
> Suppose we negotiate with a vendor to buy some hardware and manage to
> get a great discount because the vendor loves Wikipedia.  The vendor
> might say, hey, look, I can only give this discount to Wikipedia, and it
> would hurt my competitive position in the marketplace if the price I'm
> giving you were well known.  So they'll say, hey, I can give you this
> discount, but only under a nondisclosure agreement.
>
> I wouldn't support publishing that nondisclosure agreement.
>


Sure. Me neither.

Andreas
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

Oliver Keyes-5
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 10:38 AM, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:06 PM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
>> On 2/29/16 7:00 AM, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
>> > A few days ago, Oliver Keyes said[1] here on this list that, even though
>> he
>> > had already quit his job, he was scared to share with people the content
>> of
>> > the non-disclosure agreement he had to sign as a WMF staff member.
>> >
>> > Do you believe the various non-disclosure agreements and
>> non-disparagement
>> > clauses that staff have to sign to work at the WMF should be public? Will
>> > you encourage staff to share their content, in the interests of
>> > transparency?
>>
>> I don't know, as I haven't seen those.  If there is a standard
>> boilerplate non-disclosure agrement that all staff sign (normal
>> practice) then I don't see any reason why that shouldn't be made public.
>>  I also don't see much reason *for* it to be made public, if it's just
>> the usual sort of thing.  I don't see that it matters much either way,
>> to be frank.
>>
>
>
> Well, there's been enough interest in this over the years to justify it. It
> would quell speculation.
>
> As you are currently in SF, it should be fairly easy to arrange for someone
> to post the standard, boilerplate non-disclosure
> agreements/non-disparagement clauses that (1) staff and (2) management have
> to sign here on this list, or lets us know where we can find them on the
> WMF website.
>
> If universities and commercial companies are able to do that, so should WMF.
>

It's worth noting that publishing the current standard != publishing
what people have signed. The document has varied a lot over the years
(I helped tweak/copyedit some of the volunteer NDAs a few years back,
hence paying attention to this). I would really love if whatever the
latest version of the NDA is, everyone re-signed, to avoid ambiguity
here. At the moment what people are prohibited from doing varies
depending on when they joined the organisation.

The current staff NDA, interestingly, I can't find on the Office wiki.
The volunteer NDA is there, but even I don't know what the current
staff one is (I may just be missing a link, or having a bad search
experience, which given the team I work for would be a weird kind of
funny). The version I signed, way back when, both prohibited me from
disclosing confidential information and contained a non-defamation
clause around the organisation and its legal agents.

Now, I have no idea if this is still in the staff contract and NDA. I
sincerely hope it's not. But I hope people recognise that a clause
prohibiting staffers from saying a class of things about C-levels in
public, when most staff are not lawyers, is by definition going to
have a chilling effect on conversations about organisational direction
and staff performance. Sure, that class of things may in fact be
totally unacceptable and actually not things that we'd say...but how
the heck are we to know that?

So I support the idea, at a minimum, of publishing the current NDA and
contract form, and I would really like it if legal could bring all
staff NDAs up to spec.

One thing that was discussed early on that would also be fantastic;
the whistleblower policy currently protects people for reporting
*legal* violations to the *government*, and nothing else. Given that
California is an at-will state, broadening this would be...I was going
to say nice but really I mean "essential to any transparent
organisation that wants processes resistant to one bad apple".

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

Oliver Keyes-5
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales-5
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 9:13 AM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 2/29/16 2:25 AM, Molly White wrote:
>> Thank you for your reply, and I apologize for how late this one is. When
>> I asked how you intend to speak with the Board of Trustees and with staff, I
>> did not mean what technical means you will use. It doesn't much matter to me
>> whether you speak with them in person, over email, over Hangouts, or what have
>> you.
>
> Ah, ok. :)  I wondered why it mattered but thought I'd just answer
> plainly in case you were concerned that not doing it in person would
> fail to convey nuance, etc.  (A valid concern, always.)
>
>> I am instead concerned with how (and if) you will be able to clearly
>> communicate your discussions between these two groups, since you are apparently
>> the one doing so.
>
> I'm not the only one.  Alice is here in San Francisco, too.
>
>> Perhaps more concerning to me: do you intend to take steps to
>> make WMF staff comfortable speaking to you? If so, what are these steps? As
>> Oliver and others have made clear, staff have gone through what sounds like an
>> extended, traumatic period. I think the mass exodus of staff members makes that
>> very clear. Some have spoken of intimidation about speaking up with their
>> concerns. How will you ensure they don't feel the same around you?
>
> Sure.  It's a potentially tough problem, and likely made worse by a lot
> of misconceptions being thrown around by people who have misrepresented
> my views.  It's been claimed, for example, that I was the chief
> architect of a concept that staff shouldn't talk to board members -
> overcoming that misunderstanding is important to me.
>
> I am not involved at all in hiring and firing decisions, and don't
> intend to become so involved.  I'm not becoming the interim ED nor the
> permanent ED.  I've been here from the beginning and I am very
> passionate about Wikipedia and our mission.  I have no specific axe to
> grind other than that one.
>
> My heart is heavy about what has happened here, and one of the things
> that I feel most heavy about - and that I've heard from staff - is that
> I lost touch with them.  I remember driving to the November board
> meeting thinking "Well, this is going to be fairly routine and boring"
> because I had no idea what awaited me there - which was a train wreck of
> a meeting which left millions more questions than answers but which made
> it clear that something big was going on.

Well, to make my position as one (current, for a bit) staffer clear:
that *you* lost touch with things is not my worry. It's not the thing
I regret. This might simply be because I tend to treat you more as
"the guy who kicked things off and so has a board seat" rather than
"the carrier of the flame of What The Ethos Of Wikipedia Is". I rely
on the community trustees for that, because (1) the community ethos is
set by the community, not by what the community looked like in 2001
and (2) having a dependency on any one person is a terrible idea.

So my concern is not that you lost touch with staff. I don't
particularly care about any one person. My concern is that the *board*
did. My concern is that when staff reached out the Board replied with
a letter indicating they had full and unanimous confidence in our
leadership. You indicating that you see a problem here and have some
sympathy is nice; so is you visiting the office. So is Alice visiting
the office. But nice is not sufficient.

Guy Kawasaki, I believe, lives in the bay area (correct me if I'm
wrong). Denny works a 10 minute walk from the office. Kelly's org is
based in Mountain View. There are a whole host of trustees who could
be making it into the office, experiencing the culture and the
sentiment and the concerns directly. Why are they not coming in? Why
are they not listening to people?

While I appreciate, deeply, both you and Alice coming in, I am unable
to shake my concerns that the rest of the board making decisions
informed not by their perspectives but by your recollection of your
perspectives, is going to be tremendously limiting. We selected these
people because we thought they had something to contribute we didn't
already have: because their experiences would shape incoming
information in new and interesting ways. So let them receive that
information, and let them shape it. Let's have an informed board.
Because trust isn't great, right now, and this last year should have
made us steer *away* from processes with a small bus factor, not
towards them.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

Andreas Kolbe-2
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 4:44 PM, Oliver Keyes <[hidden email]> wrote:

> So my concern is not that you lost touch with staff. I don't
> particularly care about any one person. My concern is that the *board*
> did. My concern is that when staff reached out the Board replied with
> a letter indicating they had full and unanimous confidence in our
> leadership. You indicating that you see a problem here and have some
> sympathy is nice; so is you visiting the office. So is Alice visiting
> the office. But nice is not sufficient.
>
> Guy Kawasaki, I believe, lives in the bay area (correct me if I'm
> wrong). Denny works a 10 minute walk from the office. Kelly's org is
> based in Mountain View. There are a whole host of trustees who could
> be making it into the office, experiencing the culture and the
> sentiment and the concerns directly. Why are they not coming in? Why
> are they not listening to people?
>


I must confess that this was my initial response as well.

My initial impression of Jimmy coming to SF was that this was a
self-selected PR exercise for Jimmy – borne out of a desire to be seen as
part of the solution of the problem, rather than part of its causes – and
not so much an effort by the Board to develop a better rapport with staff.

As you say, there are several board members who could comfortably pop in
for afternoon tea at the WMF office any day of the week.

Still, I hope the discussions with Jimmy and Alice in SF are fruitful.



> While I appreciate, deeply, both you and Alice coming in, I am unable
> to shake my concerns that the rest of the board making decisions
> informed not by their perspectives but by your recollection of your
> perspectives, is going to be tremendously limiting. We selected these
> people because we thought they had something to contribute we didn't
> already have: because their experiences would shape incoming
> information in new and interesting ways. So let them receive that
> information, and let them shape it. Let's have an informed board.
> Because trust isn't great, right now, and this last year should have
> made us steer *away* from processes with a small bus factor, not
> towards them.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] I am going to San Francisco

Anthony Cole
If a board member mentions staff fear, you might ask if item 2 of the code
of conduct [1] couldn't be rewritten so it's not a soviet-style catch-all
that outlaws discussion about anything that happens within the WMF.

Staff, if a board member mentions staff fear, you might ask if item 2 of
the code of conduct [1] could be rewritten so it's not a soviet-style
catch-all that prohibits discussion about anything that happens within the
WMF.

(Off topic, but: If Jimmy utters the word "accountable" over the next few
days, would one (or all) of you please take the opportunity to ask him to
relinquish his founder seat, abolish the seat, add another
community-selected seat, and run for election as a community-selected
trustee in the next round? (That's the next round, not in three years when
his current term expires.)

If any board member mentions "transparency", ask them if we could please at
least know what topics are discussed at board meetings. I.e., could the
secretary please take down and publish at least the barest minimum by way
of minutes, if that's not too much to ask.

Take notes. If they disallow note-taking in the meeting, sit down
immediately afterwards and summarise what happened, from memory.

1.
https://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?title=Code_of_conduct_policy&mobileaction=toggle_view_desktop

On Tuesday, 1 March 2016, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 4:44 PM, Oliver Keyes <[hidden email]
> <javascript:;>> wrote:
>
> > So my concern is not that you lost touch with staff. I don't
> > particularly care about any one person. My concern is that the *board*
> > did. My concern is that when staff reached out the Board replied with
> > a letter indicating they had full and unanimous confidence in our
> > leadership. You indicating that you see a problem here and have some
> > sympathy is nice; so is you visiting the office. So is Alice visiting
> > the office. But nice is not sufficient.
> >
> > Guy Kawasaki, I believe, lives in the bay area (correct me if I'm
> > wrong). Denny works a 10 minute walk from the office. Kelly's org is
> > based in Mountain View. There are a whole host of trustees who could
> > be making it into the office, experiencing the culture and the
> > sentiment and the concerns directly. Why are they not coming in? Why
> > are they not listening to people?
> >
>
>
> I must confess that this was my initial response as well.
>
> My initial impression of Jimmy coming to SF was that this was a
> self-selected PR exercise for Jimmy – borne out of a desire to be seen as
> part of the solution of the problem, rather than part of its causes – and
> not so much an effort by the Board to develop a better rapport with staff.
>
> As you say, there are several board members who could comfortably pop in
> for afternoon tea at the WMF office any day of the week.
>
> Still, I hope the discussions with Jimmy and Alice in SF are fruitful.
>
>
>
> > While I appreciate, deeply, both you and Alice coming in, I am unable
> > to shake my concerns that the rest of the board making decisions
> > informed not by their perspectives but by your recollection of your
> > perspectives, is going to be tremendously limiting. We selected these
> > people because we thought they had something to contribute we didn't
> > already have: because their experiences would shape incoming
> > information in new and interesting ways. So let them receive that
> > information, and let them shape it. Let's have an informed board.
> > Because trust isn't great, right now, and this last year should have
> > made us steer *away* from processes with a small bus factor, not
> > towards them.
> _______________________________________________
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> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
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--
Anthony Cole
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1234