[Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Chris Sherlock
On 1 Mar 2016, at 2:00 AM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 2/29/16 6:46 AM, Chris Sherlock wrote:
>> Unfortunately though, the WMF very much did have internal documents
>> that were positioning the WMF into building a search engine. In fact,
>> it was a grand idea. But one that was done in secret. James was not
>> wrong, and he wasn’t lying. You may not have been aware of it at the
>> time, but there were indeed confidential documents that showed that
>> someone was developing an internal search engine.
>
> There are a lot of confusions here and I think you've not been very
> precise, so let me work through this slowly.  Apologies for the tedium
> but I'm sure you'll agree there has been too much that has been too vague.

Not at all, I apologise for any confusion I may have brought to bare here.

> First, before we start, let's clarify some terminology.  There is "an
> internal search engine" which we have now, have had for many years.[1]
> There was and is a project to improve it - this is part of what the
> Knight grant is all about, and I think it's great.  It's also not
> controversial.  The controversial part is "search engine" in the sense
> of a Google-competitor.  It's important to recognize that using the term
> 'search engine' as a standalone can lead to misconceptions.

Drat. Autocorrect’ed by my iPad. That *should* have read “Internet”, not “internal”.

FWIW, I don’t think anyone is opposed to a better search engine. I’m rather impressed you had built one back in the day :-) In fact, I don’t think anyone is opposed to a search engine that indexes the wider Internet, taylored to the WMF’s purposes. I think even Google would find this a total non-issue. In fact, if it was truly open, they could just use it as a source of index data. Google knows just how hard it is to develop a search engine, it’s taken them years and years and a LOT of expertise, and they have to bypass bad actors and goodness only knows what else.

> Second, I am now aware that a former employee was advocating for the
> idea of building a direct competitor to Google. His presentation about
> this was shared under rather extreme "cloak and dagger" with PGP
> encryption, etc.  This idea did not get traction, and never rose to
> being something presented to the board for approval.  As far as I
> understand it, some of the dramatic language did survive here and there,
> but if you read it independently you'd not really interpret it that way.

Yeah, I’ve read those emails on this mailing list. Its very… odd.

I was very harsh in a reply to a blogpost by Lila on the 16th [1], and frankly I regret the degree of hostility in that comment - I read it now and cringe a little. Nevertheless my conclusions stand. If the dramatic language in the Knight Foundation document is the language that talks about being a transparent Internet search engine by Wikimedia, then that document was very badly put together.

If the grant application that was put to the Knight Foundation had specific language that talked about Internet search, then it appears that we may have inadvertently misled the Knight Foundation. There’s no real way of putting it I’m afraid - that’s just sheer incompetence.

Is what I’m saying is the truth, then I do hope someone has gotten in contact with the Knight Foundation to clarify the application? Surely if they are giving us money though, it’s on the proviso that we do what we say we will do? Part of what we were telling them was that we want to make an amazing transparent Internet search engine, one that does away with the opaque and potentially damaging search algorithms of proprietary search engines - and we made it worse by stating that Google could be a risk due to interference and wasted effort working on the same thing?

Forgive me for harping on about this, but that document *did* give the *very strong* impression to almost everyone, including I’d hazard the Knight Foundation, that we were applying for a grant into searching the wider Internet. Whilst I’m not exactly a fan of the global media, that was their take on the matter also - the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was one of the first to pick this up, and they are (despite being a state-funded institution) quite a reliable and reasonably neutral source of news.

If you could please advise then why we added dramatic language that gave an impression we were building something we aren’t to the Knight Foundation, who then funded the first tranche, then I’d appreciate it.

If you could clarify that if this is an accurate summation of a big problem in that grant application, to a big and well respected grant funder, then what has the WMF done to reach out to the Knight Foundation to clarify what they were actually funding?

> James had gotten, from somewhere, the idea that there really was a
> secret project to build a Google-competing search engine.  We had a
> discussion where I told him that wasn't right.  We had further
> discussions at the board level of what it means, and eventually James
> himself made the motion to approve the Knight grant, and voted in favor
> of it.

Yes, well as much as I respect James (and I think from my previous emails that’s abundantly clear) he made a big mistake in approving the grant given what he suspected.

>> In the interests of transparency, could you please release these
>> emails? They sound innocuous enough, it would be nice to be able to
>> verify this and read the email discussion you and James had.
>
> I'd like to do that.  I'm starting a private conversation with James
> that I hope will be productive.

Thank you Jimmy! This is great news. I really appreciate you doing this.

>> Under Fl. St. § 617.0808(1) [2] James is not allowed to possess any
>> such email records.
>
> I think you are badly misreading that.  I think the point is that he's
> not allowed to withhold "records" (which probably meant paperwork at the
> time the statue was written), not that he's not allowed to keep copies.
> I've never heard of the idea that a board member has to delete all
> their old board email archives!

Actually, that’s precisely what it says, though of course I am not a lawyer, the language is refreshingly unambiguous.

> (g) Any director removed from office shall turn over to the board of directors within 72 hours any and all records of the corporation in his or her possession.
> (h) If a director who is removed does not relinquish his or her office or turn over records as required under this section, the circuit court in the county where the corporation’s principal office is located may summarily order the director to relinquish his or her office and turn over corporate records upon application of any member.


It might be nice if WMF legal counsel could clarify this. A bit off topic though I guess.

> Anyway, the issue is probably just about finding a particular discussion
> in a mountain of correspondence.

Oh, agreed! I was just pointing out that James probably does have a copy of the emails, that’s all.

Appreciate you responding so quickly Jimmy. I’d really appreciate you clearing up these other questions. Sorry to all if I’m hitting my post limit, I’m trying hard to ensure that I don’t spam everyone unnecessarily!

Chris Sherlock
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Andreas Kolbe-2
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales-5
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 1:36 PM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> We went back and forth in pleasant emails discussing the situation and
> as a part of that I said: "I am always in favor of more community
> consultation."  I went on to discuss a bit that I didn't think we were
> at the point where a full-scale community consultation (like the one
> that legal did on revising the terms of service) was necessary for a
> mere $250,000 grant.  But I was supportive of consulting the community.
>


Here is what I don't understand: both Dariusz and James have said that they
pushed hard for transparency and community engagement about the project at
that time, and expressed concern that there hadn't been any. Do you not
remember that? Yet nothing happened.

If they were in favour, and you were in favour, why didn't it happen? Who
resisted?

Why was there resistance from other board members to even show James and
Dariusz the documentation that was later leaked?

And there are things in the FAQs even today, like the plans for "public
curation or relevance",[1][2] that are of material interest to volunteers,
because they are the ones envisaged to be doing that work.

Wikimedia volunteers have never been called upon to determine search engine
rankings. It's a whole new field of activity.

[1] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/RFC
[2] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/FAQ
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Andreas Kolbe-2
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:55 PM, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> And there are things in the FAQs even today, like the plans for "public
> curation or relevance",[1][2] that are of material interest to volunteers,
> because they are the ones envisaged to be doing that work.
>


That should have read "public curation *of* relevance". Apologies.



> Wikimedia volunteers have never been called upon to determine search
> engine rankings. It's a whole new field of activity.
>
> [1] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/RFC
> [2] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/FAQ
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Jimmy Wales-5
In reply to this post by Chris Sherlock
(People keep mentioning a post limit, and I'm sure I'm going to hit it.
 I'll see if someone can give me a temporary exception, but I also
wanted to warn that I'm in back to back meetings for the next 3 days and
intend to deliberately go quiet because of that.  In the evenings, I
plan to be writing up my notes and reflecting on what I'm learning.)

On 2/29/16 7:41 AM, Chris Sherlock wrote:
> Not at all, I apologise for any confusion I may have brought to bare
> here.

No problem.

> FWIW, I don’t think anyone is opposed to a better search engine. I’m
> rather impressed you had built one back in the day :-)

Well, it wasn't anything too amazing. :)  It wasn't long before Magnus
Manske did the radical thing of actually using a real database, making
my amateurish efforts a moot point.

> I was very harsh in a reply to a blogpost by Lila on the 16th [1],
> and frankly I regret the degree of hostility in that comment - I read
> it now and cringe a little.

We've all been through a very emotional time.

> Is what I’m saying is the truth, then I do hope someone has gotten in
> contact with the Knight Foundation to clarify the application?

My understanding is that the Knight Foundation is fine.  Keep in mind
that many people have a mental model of grant making that works like this:

1. A program is announced to fund projects of a specific kind.
2. Someone writes up an application and mails it off, fingers crossed.
3. The funder decides and announces the award.

In reality, it's more a conversation with multiple meetings and
conversations.

> If you could please advise then why we added dramatic language that
> gave an impression we were building something we aren’t to the Knight
> Foundation, who then funded the first tranche, then I’d appreciate
> it.

I wasn't involved but it seems to be a non-issue.  As I am here in SF,
I'll try to figure out who to ask more about our relationship with
Knight.  But as I say, my rough understanding is that there isn't a
problem there.



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Dariusz Jemielniak-3
In reply to this post by Andreas Kolbe-2
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 10:55 AM, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Here is what I don't understand: both Dariusz and James have said that they
> pushed hard for transparency and community engagement about the project at
> that time, and expressed concern that there hadn't been any. Do you not
> remember that? Yet nothing happened.
>

My recollection is that we were given a plausible explanation that all the
big visions and brainstorming never went into production. Yes, there were
ideas floating around, but they did not go anywhere.

This is why James motioned to approve the grant, as I understand. I don't
think either of us would support the grant if we were unconvinced at the
time. We did, however, insist that any work going outside of the simple
"improve internal search" scope should be consulted.

My personal view is also that we need to be careful not to commit any
resource in the future by agreeing on some relatively small grants in the
present.




> If they were in favour, and you were in favour, why didn't it happen? Who
> resisted?
>

I don't think that anyone resisted - we basically came to an understanding
that the grant was not a big project, and that while there may have been
grand(iose) visions about it, they never materialized to the level that
would require board or community involvement.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Nathan Awrich
Jimmy - the limit is a "soft limit" of 30 posts per month. If someone goes
well over you might get an e-mail from Austin or another moderator to cut
back, but otherwise there is no need to ask for an exception.

Chris Sherlock -  It is certainly not "unambiguous" what qualifies in that
statute as a corporate record; feel free to google "corporate record" or
"business record" in search of the many different definitions offered by
various states and federal agencies. My suggestion is that you let this
tangent go.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Andreas Kolbe-2
In reply to this post by Dariusz Jemielniak-3
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 4:01 PM, Dariusz Jemielniak <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 10:55 AM, Andreas Kolbe <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > Here is what I don't understand: both Dariusz and James have said that
> they
> > pushed hard for transparency and community engagement about the project
> at
> > that time, and expressed concern that there hadn't been any. Do you not
> > remember that? Yet nothing happened.
> >
>
> My recollection is that we were given a plausible explanation that all the
> big visions and brainstorming never went into production. Yes, there were
> ideas floating around, but they did not go anywhere.
>
> This is why James motioned to approve the grant, as I understand. I don't
> think either of us would support the grant if we were unconvinced at the
> time. We did, however, insist that any work going outside of the simple
> "improve internal search" scope should be consulted.
>


Thanks for this, Dariusz.

We should be quite clear here though that the Discovery 0-1-2
presentation,[1] which is still part of the official FAQ,[2] speaks of
"federated open data sources". It envisages far more than a purely
*internal* search engine.

It envisages a volunteer-curated search engine drawing on a whole host of
sources from within and outside of the Wikimedia universe, with output
vectors including "Mobile", "API", "Kindle" and "Apps".

This is part of the overall strategy to this day. Consultation would really
be appropriate here.



> My personal view is also that we need to be careful not to commit any
> resource in the future by agreeing on some relatively small grants in the
> present.
>
>
> > If they were in favour, and you were in favour, why didn't it happen? Who
> > resisted?
> >
>
> I don't think that anyone resisted - we basically came to an understanding
> that the grant was not a big project, and that while there may have been
> grand(iose) visions about it, they never materialized to the level that
> would require board or community involvement.



Thanks again, that helps.

[1]
https://www.mediawiki.org/w/index.php?title=File:Discovery_Year_0-1-2.pdf&page=9
[2] https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Discovery/FAQ
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Chris Sherlock
In reply to this post by Nathan Awrich

> On 1 Mar 2016, at 3:09 AM, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Jimmy - the limit is a "soft limit" of 30 posts per month. If someone goes
> well over you might get an e-mail from Austin or another moderator to cut
> back, but otherwise there is no need to ask for an exception.
>
> Chris Sherlock -  It is certainly not "unambiguous" what qualifies in that
> statute as a corporate record; feel free to google "corporate record" or
> "business record" in search of the many different definitions offered by
> various states and federal agencies. My suggestion is that you let this
> tangent go.

I appreciate your legal advise here.

I’m not quite sure why you think I’m going to say any more on the matter, I thought the fact that I had already said it is rather off-topic might have been a clue that I’ve got no intention of making any further comment on this :-)

Chris
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

SarahSV
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales-5
On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>
wrote:

>
> James had gotten, from somewhere, the idea that there really was a
> secret project to build a Google-competing search engine.  We had a
> discussion where I told him that wasn't right.  We had further
> discussions at the board level of what it means, and eventually James
> himself made the motion to approve the Knight grant, and voted in favor
> of it.
>
>

​Jimmy, this is something I find disturbing.

In October 2015 James opposed accepting the grant application because of
the lack of clarity and transparency around it. [1] But on 7 November he
not only formally supported its acceptance, but actually proposed it to the
Board. [2]

James has written that he did this "following pressure which included
comments about potentially removing members of the Board." [3] He wrote:
"Jimmy Wales had made comments about removing other board members during
the days before the Knight grant vote. I believed that my opposing at that
point in time would have changed nothing (because there were not enough
opposing votes to block it), and doing so would have led to my removal." [4]

After his removal, you used that he had proposed accepting the grant to
show that he was being inconsistent. You later called it a "flat out lie"
that any board member had put pressure on him. [5]

James is an honest and independent-minded person. If he says he acted under
pressure, he did. That doesn't mean anyone intended him to feel that way,
of course. But please say whether you said anything about removing board
members during, or in the days leading up to, that meeting.

If James did feel so much pressure that he acted against his own views, it
raises the question of whether other trustees have been similarly affected,
now or in the past. When we elect trustees, we need to know that they're
going to make their own decisions.

This is one of the many reasons we need all the emails to be released, as
well as all documentation around the Knowledge Engine and Knight grant.

Sarah

[1]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus

[2]
https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/2015-11-07#Knight_Foundation_Grant

[3]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus

[4]
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Doc_James&diff=prev&oldid=704867811

[5]
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales&diff=prev&oldid=704228495
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Kevin Smith
I think some people aren't realizing the difference between the leaked
presentation (which outlined a general search engine) and the actual grant.
The former was just an idea, while the latter is official. By my reading,
the grant clearly is NOT for a general internet search engine, although it
(unfortunately) did retain a bit of the language from earlier documents.

Also, I think I disagree with this statement:

> It envisages a volunteer-curated search engine drawing on a whole host of
> sources from within and outside of the Wikimedia universe, with output
> vectors including "Mobile", "API", "Kindle" and "Apps".
>
> This is part of the overall strategy to this day. Consultation would
really
> be appropriate here.

The only "volunteer curation" I see in the actual grant can be covered by
the curation of Wikidata that volunteers are already doing. I don't see
anything in the grant that relies on volunteers signing up for additional
work.

To my knowledge, drawing on non-Wikimedia sources is still in the
"strategy" (or more accurately the roadmap) in two ways: 1) OpenStreetMap
data is already being used in limited ways, and 2) other free information
sources are only being considered in a vague "maybe someday but not this
year" way.

I don't recall hearing of any plans for Kindle support, but we do already
support APIs and mobile apps, and will (presumably) continue to expand
both. If Kindle support were considered at some point (past or future),
that wouldn't seem like a radical step to me.

I say all of this as someone who works closely with the Discovery team. If
I'm mistaken on any of the facts, please let me know.



Kevin Smith
Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation


On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:41 PM, SarahSV <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > James had gotten, from somewhere, the idea that there really was a
> > secret project to build a Google-competing search engine.  We had a
> > discussion where I told him that wasn't right.  We had further
> > discussions at the board level of what it means, and eventually James
> > himself made the motion to approve the Knight grant, and voted in favor
> > of it.
> >
> >
>
> ​Jimmy, this is something I find disturbing.
>
> In October 2015 James opposed accepting the grant application because of
> the lack of clarity and transparency around it. [1] But on 7 November he
> not only formally supported its acceptance, but actually proposed it to the
> Board. [2]
>
> James has written that he did this "following pressure which included
> comments about potentially removing members of the Board." [3] He wrote:
> "Jimmy Wales had made comments about removing other board members during
> the days before the Knight grant vote. I believed that my opposing at that
> point in time would have changed nothing (because there were not enough
> opposing votes to block it), and doing so would have led to my removal."
> [4]
>
> After his removal, you used that he had proposed accepting the grant to
> show that he was being inconsistent. You later called it a "flat out lie"
> that any board member had put pressure on him. [5]
>
> James is an honest and independent-minded person. If he says he acted under
> pressure, he did. That doesn't mean anyone intended him to feel that way,
> of course. But please say whether you said anything about removing board
> members during, or in the days leading up to, that meeting.
>
> If James did feel so much pressure that he acted against his own views, it
> raises the question of whether other trustees have been similarly affected,
> now or in the past. When we elect trustees, we need to know that they're
> going to make their own decisions.
>
> This is one of the many reasons we need all the emails to be released, as
> well as all documentation around the Knowledge Engine and Knight grant.
>
> Sarah
>
> [1]
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus
>
> [2]
>
> https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/2015-11-07#Knight_Foundation_Grant
>
> [3]
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus
>
> [4]
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Doc_James&diff=prev&oldid=704867811
>
> [5]
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales&diff=prev&oldid=704228495
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Andreas Kolbe-2
Kevin,

Those were quotes from the current WMF documentation explaining the
Discovery project and its underlying strategy. I linked the sources in my
post.

Federated open data sources and Kindle are mentioned here:

https://www.mediawiki.org/w/index.php?title=File%3ADiscovery_Year_0-1-2.pdf&page=9

That slide show is part of the current Discovery FAQ here:

https://www.mediawiki.org/w/index.php?title=Wikimedia_Discovery/FAQ&oldid=2061227#What_does_your_overall_strategy_look_like_.3F

Public (volunteer-based) curation of relevance is mentioned here:

https://www.mediawiki.org/w/index.php?title=File:Discovery_Year_0-1-2.pdf&page=12

https://www.mediawiki.org/w/index.php?title=File:Discovery_Year_0-1-2.pdf&page=16

https://www.mediawiki.org/w/index.php?title=Wikimedia_Discovery/FAQ&oldid=2061227#What_does_your_overall_strategy_look_like_.3F

https://www.mediawiki.org/w/index.php?title=Wikimedia_Discovery/RFC&oldid=2040196#Public_Curation_of_Relevance

It's about the long-term strategy, not what is covered by the $250,000
grant. The grant is expressly restricted to Stage 1 – even though the grant
agreement provides descriptions of the subsequent stages which still tally
substantially with what's outlined on the pages linked above.

If you're telling me that those pages are out of date as well, then I'll
take note of that. My impression was they reflected current thinking.

Andreas




On Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 12:12 AM, Kevin Smith <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think some people aren't realizing the difference between the leaked
> presentation (which outlined a general search engine) and the actual grant.
> The former was just an idea, while the latter is official. By my reading,
> the grant clearly is NOT for a general internet search engine, although it
> (unfortunately) did retain a bit of the language from earlier documents.
>
> Also, I think I disagree with this statement:
>
> > It envisages a volunteer-curated search engine drawing on a whole host of
> > sources from within and outside of the Wikimedia universe, with output
> > vectors including "Mobile", "API", "Kindle" and "Apps".
> >
> > This is part of the overall strategy to this day. Consultation would
> really
> > be appropriate here.
>
> The only "volunteer curation" I see in the actual grant can be covered by
> the curation of Wikidata that volunteers are already doing. I don't see
> anything in the grant that relies on volunteers signing up for additional
> work.
>
> To my knowledge, drawing on non-Wikimedia sources is still in the
> "strategy" (or more accurately the roadmap) in two ways: 1) OpenStreetMap
> data is already being used in limited ways, and 2) other free information
> sources are only being considered in a vague "maybe someday but not this
> year" way.
>
> I don't recall hearing of any plans for Kindle support, but we do already
> support APIs and mobile apps, and will (presumably) continue to expand
> both. If Kindle support were considered at some point (past or future),
> that wouldn't seem like a radical step to me.
>
> I say all of this as someone who works closely with the Discovery team. If
> I'm mistaken on any of the facts, please let me know.
>
>
>
> Kevin Smith
> Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation
>
>
> On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:41 PM, SarahSV <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > James had gotten, from somewhere, the idea that there really was a
> > > secret project to build a Google-competing search engine.  We had a
> > > discussion where I told him that wasn't right.  We had further
> > > discussions at the board level of what it means, and eventually James
> > > himself made the motion to approve the Knight grant, and voted in favor
> > > of it.
> > >
> > >
> >
> > ​Jimmy, this is something I find disturbing.
> >
> > In October 2015 James opposed accepting the grant application because of
> > the lack of clarity and transparency around it. [1] But on 7 November he
> > not only formally supported its acceptance, but actually proposed it to
> the
> > Board. [2]
> >
> > James has written that he did this "following pressure which included
> > comments about potentially removing members of the Board." [3] He wrote:
> > "Jimmy Wales had made comments about removing other board members during
> > the days before the Knight grant vote. I believed that my opposing at
> that
> > point in time would have changed nothing (because there were not enough
> > opposing votes to block it), and doing so would have led to my removal."
> > [4]
> >
> > After his removal, you used that he had proposed accepting the grant to
> > show that he was being inconsistent. You later called it a "flat out lie"
> > that any board member had put pressure on him. [5]
> >
> > James is an honest and independent-minded person. If he says he acted
> under
> > pressure, he did. That doesn't mean anyone intended him to feel that way,
> > of course. But please say whether you said anything about removing board
> > members during, or in the days leading up to, that meeting.
> >
> > If James did feel so much pressure that he acted against his own views,
> it
> > raises the question of whether other trustees have been similarly
> affected,
> > now or in the past. When we elect trustees, we need to know that they're
> > going to make their own decisions.
> >
> > This is one of the many reasons we need all the emails to be released, as
> > well as all documentation around the Knowledge Engine and Knight grant.
> >
> > Sarah
> >
> > [1]
> >
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus
> >
> > [2]
> >
> >
> https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/2015-11-07#Knight_Foundation_Grant
> >
> > [3]
> >
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus
> >
> > [4]
> >
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Doc_James&diff=prev&oldid=704867811
> >
> > [5]
> >
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales&diff=prev&oldid=704228495
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> >
> _______________________________________________
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Kevin Gorman
In reply to this post by Kevin Smith
The thing that disturbs me more than anything else about a lot of recent
events is the utter lack of transparency related to a lot of recent
changes.  To pick a tangential topic: WMF now has six employees dedicated
to foundations and major gifts.  I don't mean general fundraising
employees, I means specifically tasked to pursue foundation grants and
major gifts.  I think it's probably a *good* thing that we now have a major
gifts team, but the standard in the past was to be extremely leary of major
gifts, and for pretty good reason. I think we should have a team pursuing
grants and major gifts, but the standards governing what type of major
gifts WMF pursues and accepts  should've been developed as part of an open
community conversation, not apparated out of thin air.  We've always taken
some major gifts and grants - e.g., Stanton & the USEP - but there has both
been a lot of caution around them, and community discussion around them.
The Knight Foundation grant is an example of how this goes wrong, but I'm
betting a lot more are going to surface.

Jimmy is also refusing to release a single exchange he had with James that,
I am assured, contained no remotely confidential information - een though
James has requested its release multiple times.  It's disappointing to see
such a lack of transparency on so many fronts at once.  When I tried to
return my (working) key to the WMF offices a year after I'd no longer had a
real reason to have a key,the person (who no longer works there, and their
departure from WMF wasn't good for WMF,) they laughed and told me to keep
it because I came in to the of office enough that I might as well save
people the time of opening doors from me.  I have a feeling if I had an
identical internship now, I'd be required to sign a NDA, have my key yanked
the second either my internship was over or I did anything remotely
suspicious, and would not been exposed to the valuable training working
with Moka and Jay provided me, because that information would be perceived
as too sensitive to let an intern near.  It seems more and more like
instead of a shining light, a black sheet is being draped over WMF's doings.

----
Kevin Gorman

On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 4:12 PM, Kevin Smith <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think some people aren't realizing the difference between the leaked
> presentation (which outlined a general search engine) and the actual grant.
> The former was just an idea, while the latter is official. By my reading,
> the grant clearly is NOT for a general internet search engine, although it
> (unfortunately) did retain a bit of the language from earlier documents.
>
> Also, I think I disagree with this statement:
>
> > It envisages a volunteer-curated search engine drawing on a whole host of
> > sources from within and outside of the Wikimedia universe, with output
> > vectors including "Mobile", "API", "Kindle" and "Apps".
> >
> > This is part of the overall strategy to this day. Consultation would
> really
> > be appropriate here.
>
> The only "volunteer curation" I see in the actual grant can be covered by
> the curation of Wikidata that volunteers are already doing. I don't see
> anything in the grant that relies on volunteers signing up for additional
> work.
>
> To my knowledge, drawing on non-Wikimedia sources is still in the
> "strategy" (or more accurately the roadmap) in two ways: 1) OpenStreetMap
> data is already being used in limited ways, and 2) other free information
> sources are only being considered in a vague "maybe someday but not this
> year" way.
>
> I don't recall hearing of any plans for Kindle support, but we do already
> support APIs and mobile apps, and will (presumably) continue to expand
> both. If Kindle support were considered at some point (past or future),
> that wouldn't seem like a radical step to me.
>
> I say all of this as someone who works closely with the Discovery team. If
> I'm mistaken on any of the facts, please let me know.
>
>
>
> Kevin Smith
> Agile Coach, Wikimedia Foundation
>
>
> On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 3:41 PM, SarahSV <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > James had gotten, from somewhere, the idea that there really was a
> > > secret project to build a Google-competing search engine.  We had a
> > > discussion where I told him that wasn't right.  We had further
> > > discussions at the board level of what it means, and eventually James
> > > himself made the motion to approve the Knight grant, and voted in favor
> > > of it.
> > >
> > >
> >
> > ​Jimmy, this is something I find disturbing.
> >
> > In October 2015 James opposed accepting the grant application because of
> > the lack of clarity and transparency around it. [1] But on 7 November he
> > not only formally supported its acceptance, but actually proposed it to
> the
> > Board. [2]
> >
> > James has written that he did this "following pressure which included
> > comments about potentially removing members of the Board." [3] He wrote:
> > "Jimmy Wales had made comments about removing other board members during
> > the days before the Knight grant vote. I believed that my opposing at
> that
> > point in time would have changed nothing (because there were not enough
> > opposing votes to block it), and doing so would have led to my removal."
> > [4]
> >
> > After his removal, you used that he had proposed accepting the grant to
> > show that he was being inconsistent. You later called it a "flat out lie"
> > that any board member had put pressure on him. [5]
> >
> > James is an honest and independent-minded person. If he says he acted
> under
> > pressure, he did. That doesn't mean anyone intended him to feel that way,
> > of course. But please say whether you said anything about removing board
> > members during, or in the days leading up to, that meeting.
> >
> > If James did feel so much pressure that he acted against his own views,
> it
> > raises the question of whether other trustees have been similarly
> affected,
> > now or in the past. When we elect trustees, we need to know that they're
> > going to make their own decisions.
> >
> > This is one of the many reasons we need all the emails to be released, as
> > well as all documentation around the Knowledge Engine and Knight grant.
> >
> > Sarah
> >
> > [1]
> >
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus
> >
> > [2]
> >
> >
> https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Minutes/2015-11-07#Knight_Foundation_Grant
> >
> > [3]
> >
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus
> >
> > [4]
> >
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Doc_James&diff=prev&oldid=704867811
> >
> > [5]
> >
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales&diff=prev&oldid=704228495
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> >
> _______________________________________________
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> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Chris Sherlock
In reply to this post by Kevin Smith
> On 1 Mar 2016, at 11:12 AM, Kevin Smith <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> I think some people aren't realizing the difference between the leaked
> presentation (which outlined a general search engine) and the actual grant.
> The former was just an idea, while the latter is official. By my reading,
> the grant clearly is NOT for a general internet search engine, although it
> (unfortunately) did retain a bit of the language from earlier documents.

With the greatest of respect, I'm not sure how could come to the conclusion that general Internet search was not a core component of the Knowledge Engine.

I'm just going to quote directly from the Grant application here [1]:

> Knowledge Engine By Wikipedia will democratize the discovery of media, news and information—it will make the Internet's most relevant information more accessible and openly curated, and it will create an open data engine that's completely free of commercial interests. Our new site will be the Internet’s first transparent search engine, and the first one that carries the reputation of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation.

So to reiterate the words that make it hard for the WMF to deny that they were pitching for an Internet search engine:

> Our new site will be the Internet's first transparent search engine, and the first one that carries the reputation of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation.


For context, this is the answer to the grant application question "Opportunity: What is the overall challenge being addressed? What is the proposed approach? And what evidence is there that this approach will work?"

The grant application also states that one challenge that could disrupt the project is:

> Third-party influence or interference. Google, Yahoo or another big commercial search engine could suddenly devote resources to a similar project, which could reduce the success of the project. This is the biggest challenge, and an external one.

It truly strains credibility that an internal search engine merely indexing internal sites could be threatened by either Google or Yahoo devoting resources equal to or greater than the grant money allocated to this project, just to index Wikimedia properties. Similarly, it makes no sense to me how you can "democratize the discovery of media, news, and information" to "make the Internet's most relevant information more accessible and openly curated" without pulling that information from...the Internet!

And of course, to risk repeating myself, the next line states that "our new site will be the Internet's first transparent search engine".

You can tell me the scope was intended to be only for Wikimedia projects, but that isn't what is said in that grant application. That document as it stands literally states that it is to be an Internet search engine. No, I correct myself. It says it is to be THE Internet's search engine.

So when you say than there is confusion between the internal presentation and the official external grant application, I must respectfully disagree with you. There is no such confusion. The two parts of the application I have quoted cover almost a third of the grant application and I'd argue are the key parts of the application.

If fully one third of the grant application seem to be ambiguous or even flat wrong - and key parts at that! - then it's not just "unfortunate" that a "bit" of the language of the presentation remained in the grant application accidentally. That's sheer downright incompetence. Lila signed off on this document, and it was reviewed by others. I don't know who vetted and drafted this, but the buck stops with Lila, and she has never acknowledged her part in the language and scope of this application aside from once stating in a Discovery team meeting [2] that:

> How do we explain the story now? The original idea was a broader concept. Never a crawler. We abandoned some ideas during the ideation phase, but we haven’t been clear what/when we abandoned.


I mean, we have here an admission from Lila that it is unclear to the wider community and even WMF staff what they have and haven't abandoned! Why have they assumed that the Knight Foundation would take anything from that grant application that most of us here, the Press, and interested members of the general public would not conclude from merely reading the document?

There has been some handwaving going on from a variety of different parties that "oh, it's just a Grant application, these things are very high level and vague, it doesn't really matter what we write in it lets just put the broadest possible objectives and vision for this thing and we'll deal the scope later on after we've been given the grant money".

Others may not think this is not a concern. I do though, and I'm very concerned that we are making grant applications and not really disclosing our full intentions, and we are not making it clear what are the corresponding scope limitations. Before someone objects, it's even worse when I have asked about the first challenge that could threaten the project and the response [3] is, in part:

> Why is Google mentioned? Because they are the undisputed giants of search. If they wanted to dedicated even a small amount of their resources to creating a “Wikisearch” or “Free Knowledge Search” they could do so with ease. This is a risk because the foundation could invest both money and time into improving our search capabilities in an attempt to better surface Wikimedia content, only to be upended by those with more fiscal, staff, and technical resources. When submitting grants you have to be honest about stuff like this so that the grantor doesn’t get surprised down the road.
[...]
> Please do understand that grant language is not the same as technical writing. The knight foundation is not a technical organization. The grant, again written my many authors over a substantial period of time, is written to entice and explain simply how we might use the funds.

This is very, very worrying. The explanation given in that comment is given in no more than three sentences, yet if it is a clearer and more accurate reflection of the stated threat than that given in the original document! I mean, we aren't talking about paragraphs of written, turgid prose written by someone like myself on internal Wikimedia mailing lists. It's a pithy, well written and rather excellent explanation on the apparent threat to the project.

And this comment that grant writing isn't like technical writing... Well yes and no. More yes than no. But grant applications - especially ones that are applying for millions of dollars in funds for charitable endeavours - must be clear and not ambiguous about the purpose(s) of the funding.

Nobody can say that the Knight Foundation grant application was clear.

So... I think I've made myself clear now. We can and do understand the differences between those two documents. I don't think anyone is terrible confused by them.

Chris

1. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/a/a7/Knowledge_engine_grant_agreement.pdf

2. https://m.mediawiki.org/wiki/Discovery/2016-02-16_Discussing_Knowledge_Engine_with_Lila

3. https://blog.wikimedia.org/2016/02/16/wikimedia-search-future/#comment-25090

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Erik Moeller-3
2016-02-29 19:24 GMT-08:00 Chris Sherlock <[hidden email]>:

> With the greatest of respect, I'm not sure how could come to the conclusion that general
> Internet search was not a core component of the Knowledge Engine.

It's important to remember that this is a $250K grant, with a grant
period that ends later this year. It's clear that this was done
because everyone involved realized that the plans are likely to
change. Knight has given grants to WMF in the past, including a $600K
one with a longer grant period [1], so this isn't a particularly bold
step for them or for WMF. Within the scope of a grant with these
parameters, it's completely reasonable for WMF, at the end of the
grant period, to go back to Knight and say: "We've done everything we
committed to for the grant period [improve internal search etc.], but
we won't be doing anything beyond that."

That is not to say that this process was managed well -- obviously it
wasn't. But at least there are no catastrophic long term consequences
for the organization or for the movement, as far as I can tell. That
is, unless Larry Page read one of the early news stories and decided
to send a DESTROY WIKIMEDIA memo to all Alphabet companies, in which
case I expect Boston Dynamics robots to show up at New Montgomery
Street any day now. [2]

Erik

[1] http://knightfoundation.org/grants/20123673/
[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVlhMGQgDkY

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Chris Sherlock
On 1 Mar 2016, at 5:00 PM, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> 2016-02-29 19:24 GMT-08:00 Chris Sherlock <[hidden email]>:
>
>> With the greatest of respect, I'm not sure how could come to the conclusion that general
>> Internet search was not a core component of the Knowledge Engine.
>
> It's important to remember that this is a $250K grant, with a grant
> period that ends later this year. It's clear that this was done
> because everyone involved realized that the plans are likely to
> change.

That’s rather missing the point though. The plan may change, but from the very start we have been told the plan is not the one that was proposed to the Knight Foundation.

We have been told, over and over again, that the application is for internal search. I have quoted the relevant sections in my previous email that show that the Knight Foundation proposal, as written, was not at any stage what was being planned for (apparently) within the Board.

The only other option is that there were indeed plans afoot within the Board of Trustees for an external search engine, but these got changed after the grant was submitted. In which case, James Heilman is entirely vindicated.

This raises an interesting point though. Is this grant still active? If this grant is still active, who is actively working on it? What is currently being done in the Discovery team around this particular grant application?

I’m very interested to hear who is in charge of getting this grant going if that’s the case. Have I entirely missed something (possible) or has there been no announcements about who or what is working on the requirements of this grant? The grant was issued in September last year, and the grant specifies that the initial $250,000 was for activities to be run over a 6 month period, after which the Discovery team needs to show some quite measurable results from the “discovery” stage. [1] In particular, the team need to establish core usage and performance metrics to work out core usage and performance metrics, and will need to have show test results of how well content can be found, the results of research and user testing, an improved search engine and API for Wikipedia searches, a public-facing dashboard of the core metrics used in product development, and a sample prototype based on a small dataset.

So basically, 6 months means that by midway through this month, we will see all of these deliverables. Could someone please advise us how this is proceeding?  I’d imagine that we should at least be able to see the dashboard by now, but I’m curious to find out more about the research that’s been conducted and the results of the user testing performed.

> Knight has given grants to WMF in the past, including a $600K
> one with a longer grant period [1], so this isn't a particularly bold
> step for them or for WMF. Within the scope of a grant with these
> parameters, it's completely reasonable for WMF, at the end of the
> grant period, to go back to Knight and say: "We've done everything we
> committed to for the grant period [improve internal search etc.], but
> we won't be doing anything beyond that.”

I’m in complete agreement. The Knight Foundation I’m sure feels the same way. Sadly, that is definitely NOT the point I was making. From what I can tell, the Knight Foundation was given an application for increasing mobile access to those on lower end, less well powered devices. This has been a rousing success, and from what I can tell (as I can’t see the grant application anywhere) achieved every one of the criteria that were specified by the Knight Foundation.

That’s very different than saying, however, that we will be making an Internet search engine, building up a team within the WMF, and then pivoting the direction from what was stated radically.


> That is not to say that this process was managed well -- obviously it
> wasn't. But at least there are no catastrophic long term consequences
> for the organization or for the movement, as far as I can tell. That
> is, unless Larry Page read one of the early news stories and decided
> to send a DESTROY WIKIMEDIA memo to all Alphabet companies, in which
> case I expect Boston Dynamics robots to show up at New Montgomery
> Street any day now. [2]

If I hear about any weaponized Roombas in Wikimedia Australia I’ll be sure to advise everyone immediately.

Personally, I think the idea of an open search engine is great. I think it should be largely based on Wikimedia projects, but the whole idea has a lot of merit. The governance, as I have said a number of times, and debacle about how various people have been treated and the loss of trust within the wider community due to closed an opaque processes, and abusive comments from the top of Wikimedia management, have made what *should* be a positive and lasting project into an absolute nightmare. We’ve lost an ED and a trusted member of the Board already, and a steady exit of very good staff.

Chris

1. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/a/a7/Knowledge_engine_grant_agreement.pdf - see page 2 and 3.


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

David Emrany
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-3
Dear Erik,

Wikimovement veterans recall your invaluable assistance in arranging
the 3 million grant from the Sloan Foundation to WMF, so reading your
email, we also recall these quotes from the time of the Stanton
Foundation fiasco ? [1]

"The Executive Director and Chief Revenue Officer agree that in the
future, any grants that are not unrestricted will receive a special
high level of scrutiny before being accepted."
..
"The ED plans, with the C-level team, to develop a better process for
staff to escalate and express concerns about any WMF activities that
staff think may in tension with, or in violation of, community
policies or best practices. It will take some time to develop a
simple, robust process: we aim to have it done by 1 May 2014."

In this context can we have a public comment from Jimmy / WMF on who
exactly are the large donors funding WMF's systematic promotion of
LGBT "Wiki loves Pride" type themes and Pride edit-a-thons, and can
the political biases / preferences of WMF be clearly linked to when
soliciting donations from Wikipedia users through banner ads along
with links to full disclosure of WMF's institutional sponsors and
their quid-pro-quos.

[1] https://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Assessment_of_Belfer_Center_Wikipedian_in_Residence_program.
[2] https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2014-March/070665.html
[3] https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2014-March/070670.html
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wiki_Loves_Pride

David

On 3/1/16, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> 2016-02-29 19:24 GMT-08:00 Chris Sherlock <[hidden email]>:
>
>> With the greatest of respect, I'm not sure how could come to the
>> conclusion that general
>> Internet search was not a core component of the Knowledge Engine.
>
> It's important to remember that this is a $250K grant, with a grant
> period that ends later this year. It's clear that this was done
> because everyone involved realized that the plans are likely to
> change. Knight has given grants to WMF in the past, including a $600K
> one with a longer grant period [1], so this isn't a particularly bold
> step for them or for WMF. Within the scope of a grant with these
> parameters, it's completely reasonable for WMF, at the end of the
> grant period, to go back to Knight and say: "We've done everything we
> committed to for the grant period [improve internal search etc.], but
> we won't be doing anything beyond that."
>
> That is not to say that this process was managed well -- obviously it
> wasn't. But at least there are no catastrophic long term consequences
> for the organization or for the movement, as far as I can tell. That
> is, unless Larry Page read one of the early news stories and decided
> to send a DESTROY WIKIMEDIA memo to all Alphabet companies, in which
> case I expect Boston Dynamics robots to show up at New Montgomery
> Street any day now. [2]
>
> Erik
>
> [1] http://knightfoundation.org/grants/20123673/
> [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVlhMGQgDkY

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Erik Moeller-3
2016-02-29 23:19 GMT-08:00 David Emrany <[hidden email]>:

> so reading your email, we also recall these quotes from the time of the
> Stanton Foundation fiasco ? [1]
>
> "The Executive Director and Chief Revenue Officer agree that in the
> future, any grants that are not unrestricted will receive a special
> high level of scrutiny before being accepted."
> ..
> "The ED plans, with the C-level team, to develop a better process for
> staff to escalate and express concerns about any WMF activities that
> staff think may in tension with, or in violation of, community
> policies or best practices. It will take some time to develop a
> simple, robust process: we aim to have it done by 1 May 2014."

I'm not sure if there's a question for me here? I wasn't involved in
the Belfer project until the postmortem. The ED transition happened
shortly thereafter. Regardless of whether it came up in that context
(I don't know for sure, but I doubt it), the follow-up was lost in the
shuffle. Nemo pointed that out a few months later, and Lila's final
response on the issue is here:

https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2015-March/077339.html

Erik

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

David Emrany
I was subliminally aware of your assist in Nemo's protest to Lila.

What nobody is prepared to acknowledge is that only under Lila's term
some of the most blatant and egregious instances of coordinated PR
socking and on-wiki abuses could come out.

1) WIKI-PR (250 sock accounts)
2) Orange Moody(350+ accounts)
3) DeCoetzee
4) Wifione
5) Cuntgate - Eric Corbett
6) Gamergate

How long will WMF/BoT keep denying that there are persons in high
positions of trust (remember Essjay) who are misusing Wikipedia for
personal profit and in ways detrimental to the Terms of Use. Surely it
would be the simplest thing for WMF to insist on verification of WMF
user accounts, to ensure that minors cannot edit, or else to ensure
that anonymous editors must take responsibility for defamatory/biased
content..

David

On 3/1/16, Erik Moeller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> 2016-02-29 23:19 GMT-08:00 David Emrany <[hidden email]>:
>
>> so reading your email, we also recall these quotes from the time of the
>> Stanton Foundation fiasco ? [1]
>>
>> "The Executive Director and Chief Revenue Officer agree that in the
>> future, any grants that are not unrestricted will receive a special
>> high level of scrutiny before being accepted."
>> ..
>> "The ED plans, with the C-level team, to develop a better process for
>> staff to escalate and express concerns about any WMF activities that
>> staff think may in tension with, or in violation of, community
>> policies or best practices. It will take some time to develop a
>> simple, robust process: we aim to have it done by 1 May 2014."
>
> I'm not sure if there's a question for me here? I wasn't involved in
> the Belfer project until the postmortem. The ED transition happened
> shortly thereafter. Regardless of whether it came up in that context
> (I don't know for sure, but I doubt it), the follow-up was lost in the
> shuffle. Nemo pointed that out a few months later, and Lila's final
> response on the issue is here:
>
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2015-March/077339.html
>
> Erik
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

Marc-Andre
On 16-03-01 03:57 AM, David Emrany wrote:
> What nobody is prepared to acknowledge is that only under Lila's term
> some of the most blatant and egregious instances of coordinated PR
> socking and on-wiki abuses could come out.

I was tangentially part of the investigation that led to many of those
things being ferreted out and I can tell you with absolute certainty:

(a) The Foundation did not in any way prevent those investigations for
abuse in the past (before or after Lila), so saying that "only under
Lila's term [they] could come out" is at best misguided.

(b) The single biggest help we have had in being able that kind of abuse
were the revised terms of use, that were put in place in 2012 and
started being worked on at least a year prior.  As far as I know the ED
had minor to no involvement in this - that was a long-overdue initiative
from Legal.  But even *if* it had ED involvement, it would have been all
Sue.

(c) The foundation has always given volunteers support when we needed
Legal/Comm help getting rid of significant abuse, for as long as I can
remember (At least since 2008).  The help they were *able* to give at
the time was more limited because the LCA team was tiny and overworked,
but they always tried their best.

So, nobody is "prepared to acknowledge" your assertion because it has no
relationship with reality.

-- Coren / Marc


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Open letter: Issues needing addressing by the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees

David Emrany
Dear Coren

I think you are mistaken. The paid editing amendment was added in 2014
(16th June) during Lila's term.[1] Lila took over the reins from Sue
on 1 June 2014.

I'm appalled that you credit Sue for the steps taken (under Lila) to
widen the volunteer base by exposing many rotten apples, including
through better technology.

I equally state with certainty that your claim re the WMF's not
preventing in any way the investigations is tremendously flexible with
the truth and is completely divorced from reality. The enforcement of
the Terms of Use lies exclusively with the WMF. There is no point
repeating here the legal defeats WMF has suffered in many
international courts during Sue's regime. We can discuss this
privately.

[1] https://wikimediafoundation.org/w/index.php?title=Terms_of_Use&type=revision&diff=98138&oldid=90463

BTW, its unclear how someone "tangentially involved" can state facts
with "absolute certainty".

Dave

On 3/1/16, Marc A. Pelletier <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 16-03-01 03:57 AM, David Emrany wrote:
>> What nobody is prepared to acknowledge is that only under Lila's term
>> some of the most blatant and egregious instances of coordinated PR
>> socking and on-wiki abuses could come out.
>
> I was tangentially part of the investigation that led to many of those
> things being ferreted out and I can tell you with absolute certainty:
>
> (a) The Foundation did not in any way prevent those investigations for
> abuse in the past (before or after Lila), so saying that "only under
> Lila's term [they] could come out" is at best misguided.
>
> (b) The single biggest help we have had in being able that kind of abuse
> were the revised terms of use, that were put in place in 2012 and
> started being worked on at least a year prior.  As far as I know the ED
> had minor to no involvement in this - that was a long-overdue initiative
> from Legal.  But even *if* it had ED involvement, it would have been all
> Sue.
>
> (c) The foundation has always given volunteers support when we needed
> Legal/Comm help getting rid of significant abuse, for as long as I can
> remember (At least since 2008).  The help they were *able* to give at
> the time was more limited because the LCA team was tiny and overworked,
> but they always tried their best.
>
> So, nobody is "prepared to acknowledge" your assertion because it has no
> relationship with reality.
>
> -- Coren / Marc
>
>
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