[Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

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[Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

Ting Chen-2
Hello dear all,

 From 2008 on until recently the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) had seen a
staggering growth to fulfill its mission, and it had pulled a great deal
of the resources, in money, but as well as in talent, manpower and
volunteer's effort of the movement.


 From the beginning hosting of the Wikimedia projects was the core
competency of the WMF. A big part of the WMF budget and staff is
dedicated to the operation of the servers. Meanwhile the main server
farm is moved from Tampa, Florida to Ashburn, Virginia.


In the last years the WMF had evolved to the main development party of
the MediaWiki software. The software and product development had drawn
many resources and talents from around the world to San Francisco. Many
developers were relocated to join the WMF team.


With the increased prominence of especially Wikipedia the WMF and its
projects were facing more and more legal challenges in the past years.
Law suits from around the world were reported since 2005. Because of
this the WMF had expanded its legal team.


To improve its role as the leader of the movement and to settle the
disputes between the WMF and chapters about the processing and
distribution of the funding the WMF had evolved since 2010 into a grant
making organization.


All in all the WMF is without doubt the center peace of the movement and
claims four fifth of the expanses of the entire movement.


The recent dispute about the URAA motivated massive content deletions on
Wikimedia Commons highlights the problem of this strong centralized
approach.


In basic, the storage solution of the Wikimedia projects is still a very
classical approach with two central database centers, both of them
located in the US. This approach had repeatedly induced conflicts about
what content can be stored and what cannot. It does not reflect the
international character of the projects and had repeatedly induced
critics on the Wikimedia projects to be US biased and it is, measured on
today's storage technology, outdated. Even though currently the US law
is one of the most liberal in relation to freedom of speech it does has
its bias. The US copy right law for example is meanwhile one of the most
restrictive and backward looking copy right laws in the entire world.
Another example of the potential hazardous result of this approach are
the image files that are currently stored in the individual projects.
For example on Chinese Wikipedia images that are free according to the
Chinese and Taiwanese copy right laws are stored directly there, and not
on Commons. These images are nevertheless not free according to the US
law and are stored in servers that are located in the US and distributed
from there. This poses potential problems for all parties that are
involved here: for the Foundation, for the project, for the community
that is curating these images and for the users that are using these images.


In a larger sense the problem is not constrained to the file
repositories, but also to the content. Even though the Foundation had
increased its legal department and had tentatively tried to work out an
approach to support its community in legal conflict basically it is
still working with the old strategy: In case there is a legal case in a
foreign country the Foundation will avoid the call of the court while
the Chapter will deny any responsibility for the content. This leaves in
the end all potential hazards to the volunteer who contributed the
content. In case of a court suit he is probably the one that have the
worse legal support and had to take the charge privately, even if he
handled legally and in good will.


In my opinion, since the technology is ripe, it is time for the movement
as a whole and WMF especially to seriously consider the approach of a
distributed hosting. Files and contents that let's say are legal in the
EU but not in the US should be able to be stored on a server located in
the EU and distributed and operated from there. Files and contents that
are legal in PRC and Taiwan and may violate copy right law in the US
should be able to be stored in a server say in Taiwan or Hongkong and be
distributed from there into the world. This approach is meanwhile
technical viable and is used by almost all major international internet
providers today.


This also means that the chapters, as far as there is one, should be
able to take the responsibility for the content and the hosting of those
servers in their country. They should be obliged to provide legal
consultation and defense to the community, which means a distribution of
the legal defense from a central point into the world, to the chapters
and directly to the communities. Indeed the legal consultation and
protection of the community is in my opinion one of the most missed duty
of the chapters and the Foundation to the movement.


Every country, that meets a certain standard of freedom of speech,
freedom and media and freedom of justice is a potential place to set up
such a server and in which the chapter can be entitled to claim the
responsibility of the content that is stored there. There are meanwhile
pretty many renowned independent organizations that provide such
standards and measure the status of a country against these standards,
like Reporters sans frontières, Human Rights Watch, etc.


Also software and product development can be done distributed. Many
commercial companies do this successfully, many open source projects do
this successfully. The WMF is not unfamiliar with distributed software
development. One of the most prominent developer of the WMF, Tim
Starling is for example never relocated to San Francisco. Also in the
past decades many important impulses came from outside of San Francisco,
the last one is WikiData, initiated and developed by Wikimedia
Deuschland (WMDE). Wikimedia Serbia had offered in the past to hire
developers in Belgrade because the people there are well educated,
talented and the wage there is low. I believe there is no necessity to
concentrated all developers at one place. Fore sure distributed
developer teams need certain trainings, standards, communication skills
and procedures to be able to doing well. But it is possible, it is even
meanwhile industrial standard. It is meanwhile a backward looking
approach to draw and concentrate developers at one place.


 From organizational view it makes more sense to have these distributed
developers organized by the chapters (as far as there is one) instead of
let them work as contractors for the Foundation, which also means an
organizational decentralization of the software and product development.


For me personally there are some life experience that makes me an
absolute supporter for the decentralization.


I was born 1968, the year which marks the climax of the darkest period
of the Chinese history, the Cultural Revolution. In the year when I was
born Chine was experiencing the worst political purge since Stalin's
death in the whole world. At that time, no one could imaging, that from
the boys and girls that were born that year in China, millions will go
to North America or Europe to study there and work there and live there.
No one could imaging that some of them will go back to China because
they know that China will provide them better chances for work, research
and life than in North America and Europe. 1988 I traveled with the
train throw Soviet Union and crossed the no man's land of Berlin Wall,
and at that time no one in the whole world could imagine that less than
four years later there will be no Soviet Union any more and the Berlin
Wall will fall.


Those experiences tell me not to trust any fortune teller and future
researcher. I won't bet that USA will not turn into a dictatorship
within my life time, and I won't bet that Central and West Africa won't
turn into the most prosperous and most liberal region of the world in my
life time. However unprobable this looks like. Because of that I don't
trust one central prominent hub, because however strong and well
developed and well organized, it is the single point to fail.


Decentralization, on any aspect, only works if the parties are aligned.
One of the darkest hour of my board chair's personship was by an
interview with an Austrian television. Together with me a chair's person
of a chapter board, a volunteer and a researcher of Wikipedia were
interviewed. When the reporter came to the topic of gender bias and
Foundation's effort to balance it he at first addressed the question to
the chapter chair's person. And the person answered: Well, for our
chapter this is not a topic, we concentrate our work on article quality.
And for the next few seconds before the question is addressed to me I
was feverish thinking about an answer which would not sound like I
support and agree with him but also don't like as if we will publicly
take out a dispute about what is the movement goal.


I think this should not happen. And if the movement really want to be
organized decentralized, we cannot afford such things to happen. It made
me sad to see that WMDE and WMUK published their strategic planning for
the coming years, each by themselves. I think it should be a strategic
planning with all organizations, agreed by all organizations and all
organizations will work together on those goals, together.


I think there should be a charter for all organizations in our movement,
signed by all organizations that want to join us, that set up standards,
set up things like working together on strategies and working together
on goals. Unfortunately, and I do blame myself partly for this, that
despite the movement roles work group, despite some other tries
afterward, we were not able to set up such a charter. And I think that
one of the goals for a movement strategic planning should be set up such
a charter in the next few years.


So, if we decentralize the hosting, the software and product
development, the legal and the movement organizations, where is the
place of WMF?


I imagine the WMF as the United Nations of Wikimedia. I can see a lot of
people now wrinkle their nose and say: What? that ugly and useless
bureaucracy? And I will tell you: No, I am not thinking about that ugly
and useless bureaucracy, I am thinking about that organization that
concentrated and coordinated the world's effort to eradicate smallpox, I
am thinking about that organization that set up standards to preserve
the world's heritages, the organization that coordinates and develops
standards for civil air and sea traffic that makes an smooth and safe
international travel possible. So, I am imagining an organization that
coordinates the movement resources, that set up and safe guard
standards, but not dominating the movement. And all in all, despite the
40 and plus partner organizations, there are still more volunteers that
don't have an organization to support them, and there are still much to
do for the Foundation. Especially, I still see the WMF as the leader of
the partner organizations and the movement.


Looking back into the history I believe it is necessary for the
Foundation to have the last six year's growth. The Foundation had
learned a lot from this and it had repeatedly set up standards for the
movement, despite all the grudging and all the disputes, looking back,
it is good to have those standards set up. All organizations inside of
the movement are profitable from those standards.


But the growth of the WMF had more and more extincting the growth of the
partner organizations inside of the movement. Its dominance and its
feeling responsible for everything inside of the movement began to take
the air away from the other organizations, its concentration at one
place had always been felt as an alienation and is becoming more and
more a problem. A good captain of see knows when the wind turns and he
need to change the sail setting and course to cope with that change, for
the Wikimedia movement now is the time.


I want to repeat one sentence I said earlier: I see the WMF as the
leader of the partner organizations and the movement. I want to
emphasize that I want to see the WMF as the strong leader of the partner
organizations and the movement. The strong leader because he is wise and
experienced, not because he is a dictator; the strong leader that knows
that every member in his team has something that they can do better than
himself and knows to use those abilities in benefit of the group, and
not the one who dominates the team.


Greetings
Ting
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

Thomas Morton
Hi Ting,

It's lovely to see such operatic vision! And I for one would love to see
some of those things happen.

But, just to bring it down a bit; the technological issues rear their ugly
heads. Engineering-wise, hosting Wikipedia is a tough problem. Distributing
Wikimedia hosting across the globe is very definitely a "hard" problem. If
it could even be considered in a 5 year project scope that would be IMO an
aggressive timescale :)

Also, I am not sure the WMF has attitude for decentralisation to chapters;
nota bene the work relating to Labs and Toolserver. So commercially that
might be a tough sell.

However, despite this, I hope enough people see something in your vision to
push forward change.

Tom




On 7 April 2014 14:39, Ting Chen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hello dear all,
>
> From 2008 on until recently the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) had seen a
> staggering growth to fulfill its mission, and it had pulled a great deal of
> the resources, in money, but as well as in talent, manpower and volunteer's
> effort of the movement.
>
>
> From the beginning hosting of the Wikimedia projects was the core
> competency of the WMF. A big part of the WMF budget and staff is dedicated
> to the operation of the servers. Meanwhile the main server farm is moved
> from Tampa, Florida to Ashburn, Virginia.
>
>
> In the last years the WMF had evolved to the main development party of the
> MediaWiki software. The software and product development had drawn many
> resources and talents from around the world to San Francisco. Many
> developers were relocated to join the WMF team.
>
>
> With the increased prominence of especially Wikipedia the WMF and its
> projects were facing more and more legal challenges in the past years. Law
> suits from around the world were reported since 2005. Because of this the
> WMF had expanded its legal team.
>
>
> To improve its role as the leader of the movement and to settle the
> disputes between the WMF and chapters about the processing and distribution
> of the funding the WMF had evolved since 2010 into a grant making
> organization.
>
>
> All in all the WMF is without doubt the center peace of the movement and
> claims four fifth of the expanses of the entire movement.
>
>
> The recent dispute about the URAA motivated massive content deletions on
> Wikimedia Commons highlights the problem of this strong centralized
> approach.
>
>
> In basic, the storage solution of the Wikimedia projects is still a very
> classical approach with two central database centers, both of them located
> in the US. This approach had repeatedly induced conflicts about what
> content can be stored and what cannot. It does not reflect the
> international character of the projects and had repeatedly induced critics
> on the Wikimedia projects to be US biased and it is, measured on today's
> storage technology, outdated. Even though currently the US law is one of
> the most liberal in relation to freedom of speech it does has its bias. The
> US copy right law for example is meanwhile one of the most restrictive and
> backward looking copy right laws in the entire world. Another example of
> the potential hazardous result of this approach are the image files that
> are currently stored in the individual projects. For example on Chinese
> Wikipedia images that are free according to the Chinese and Taiwanese copy
> right laws are stored directly there, and not on Commons. These images are
> nevertheless not free according to the US law and are stored in servers
> that are located in the US and distributed from there. This poses potential
> problems for all parties that are involved here: for the Foundation, for
> the project, for the community that is curating these images and for the
> users that are using these images.
>
>
> In a larger sense the problem is not constrained to the file repositories,
> but also to the content. Even though the Foundation had increased its legal
> department and had tentatively tried to work out an approach to support its
> community in legal conflict basically it is still working with the old
> strategy: In case there is a legal case in a foreign country the Foundation
> will avoid the call of the court while the Chapter will deny any
> responsibility for the content. This leaves in the end all potential
> hazards to the volunteer who contributed the content. In case of a court
> suit he is probably the one that have the worse legal support and had to
> take the charge privately, even if he handled legally and in good will.
>
>
> In my opinion, since the technology is ripe, it is time for the movement
> as a whole and WMF especially to seriously consider the approach of a
> distributed hosting. Files and contents that let's say are legal in the EU
> but not in the US should be able to be stored on a server located in the EU
> and distributed and operated from there. Files and contents that are legal
> in PRC and Taiwan and may violate copy right law in the US should be able
> to be stored in a server say in Taiwan or Hongkong and be distributed from
> there into the world. This approach is meanwhile technical viable and is
> used by almost all major international internet providers today.
>
>
> This also means that the chapters, as far as there is one, should be able
> to take the responsibility for the content and the hosting of those servers
> in their country. They should be obliged to provide legal consultation and
> defense to the community, which means a distribution of the legal defense
> from a central point into the world, to the chapters and directly to the
> communities. Indeed the legal consultation and protection of the community
> is in my opinion one of the most missed duty of the chapters and the
> Foundation to the movement.
>
>
> Every country, that meets a certain standard of freedom of speech, freedom
> and media and freedom of justice is a potential place to set up such a
> server and in which the chapter can be entitled to claim the responsibility
> of the content that is stored there. There are meanwhile pretty many
> renowned independent organizations that provide such standards and measure
> the status of a country against these standards, like Reporters sans
> frontières, Human Rights Watch, etc.
>
>
> Also software and product development can be done distributed. Many
> commercial companies do this successfully, many open source projects do
> this successfully. The WMF is not unfamiliar with distributed software
> development. One of the most prominent developer of the WMF, Tim Starling
> is for example never relocated to San Francisco. Also in the past decades
> many important impulses came from outside of San Francisco, the last one is
> WikiData, initiated and developed by Wikimedia Deuschland (WMDE). Wikimedia
> Serbia had offered in the past to hire developers in Belgrade because the
> people there are well educated, talented and the wage there is low. I
> believe there is no necessity to concentrated all developers at one place.
> Fore sure distributed developer teams need certain trainings, standards,
> communication skills and procedures to be able to doing well. But it is
> possible, it is even meanwhile industrial standard. It is meanwhile a
> backward looking approach to draw and concentrate developers at one place.
>
>
> From organizational view it makes more sense to have these distributed
> developers organized by the chapters (as far as there is one) instead of
> let them work as contractors for the Foundation, which also means an
> organizational decentralization of the software and product development.
>
>
> For me personally there are some life experience that makes me an absolute
> supporter for the decentralization.
>
>
> I was born 1968, the year which marks the climax of the darkest period of
> the Chinese history, the Cultural Revolution. In the year when I was born
> Chine was experiencing the worst political purge since Stalin's death in
> the whole world. At that time, no one could imaging, that from the boys and
> girls that were born that year in China, millions will go to North America
> or Europe to study there and work there and live there. No one could
> imaging that some of them will go back to China because they know that
> China will provide them better chances for work, research and life than in
> North America and Europe. 1988 I traveled with the train throw Soviet Union
> and crossed the no man's land of Berlin Wall, and at that time no one in
> the whole world could imagine that less than four years later there will be
> no Soviet Union any more and the Berlin Wall will fall.
>
>
> Those experiences tell me not to trust any fortune teller and future
> researcher. I won't bet that USA will not turn into a dictatorship within
> my life time, and I won't bet that Central and West Africa won't turn into
> the most prosperous and most liberal region of the world in my life time.
> However unprobable this looks like. Because of that I don't trust one
> central prominent hub, because however strong and well developed and well
> organized, it is the single point to fail.
>
>
> Decentralization, on any aspect, only works if the parties are aligned.
> One of the darkest hour of my board chair's personship was by an interview
> with an Austrian television. Together with me a chair's person of a chapter
> board, a volunteer and a researcher of Wikipedia were interviewed. When the
> reporter came to the topic of gender bias and Foundation's effort to
> balance it he at first addressed the question to the chapter chair's
> person. And the person answered: Well, for our chapter this is not a topic,
> we concentrate our work on article quality. And for the next few seconds
> before the question is addressed to me I was feverish thinking about an
> answer which would not sound like I support and agree with him but also
> don't like as if we will publicly take out a dispute about what is the
> movement goal.
>
>
> I think this should not happen. And if the movement really want to be
> organized decentralized, we cannot afford such things to happen. It made me
> sad to see that WMDE and WMUK published their strategic planning for the
> coming years, each by themselves. I think it should be a strategic planning
> with all organizations, agreed by all organizations and all organizations
> will work together on those goals, together.
>
>
> I think there should be a charter for all organizations in our movement,
> signed by all organizations that want to join us, that set up standards,
> set up things like working together on strategies and working together on
> goals. Unfortunately, and I do blame myself partly for this, that despite
> the movement roles work group, despite some other tries afterward, we were
> not able to set up such a charter. And I think that one of the goals for a
> movement strategic planning should be set up such a charter in the next few
> years.
>
>
> So, if we decentralize the hosting, the software and product development,
> the legal and the movement organizations, where is the place of WMF?
>
>
> I imagine the WMF as the United Nations of Wikimedia. I can see a lot of
> people now wrinkle their nose and say: What? that ugly and useless
> bureaucracy? And I will tell you: No, I am not thinking about that ugly and
> useless bureaucracy, I am thinking about that organization that
> concentrated and coordinated the world's effort to eradicate smallpox, I am
> thinking about that organization that set up standards to preserve the
> world's heritages, the organization that coordinates and develops standards
> for civil air and sea traffic that makes an smooth and safe international
> travel possible. So, I am imagining an organization that coordinates the
> movement resources, that set up and safe guard standards, but not
> dominating the movement. And all in all, despite the 40 and plus partner
> organizations, there are still more volunteers that don't have an
> organization to support them, and there are still much to do for the
> Foundation. Especially, I still see the WMF as the leader of the partner
> organizations and the movement.
>
>
> Looking back into the history I believe it is necessary for the Foundation
> to have the last six year's growth. The Foundation had learned a lot from
> this and it had repeatedly set up standards for the movement, despite all
> the grudging and all the disputes, looking back, it is good to have those
> standards set up. All organizations inside of the movement are profitable
> from those standards.
>
>
> But the growth of the WMF had more and more extincting the growth of the
> partner organizations inside of the movement. Its dominance and its feeling
> responsible for everything inside of the movement began to take the air
> away from the other organizations, its concentration at one place had
> always been felt as an alienation and is becoming more and more a problem.
> A good captain of see knows when the wind turns and he need to change the
> sail setting and course to cope with that change, for the Wikimedia
> movement now is the time.
>
>
> I want to repeat one sentence I said earlier: I see the WMF as the leader
> of the partner organizations and the movement. I want to emphasize that I
> want to see the WMF as the strong leader of the partner organizations and
> the movement. The strong leader because he is wise and experienced, not
> because he is a dictator; the strong leader that knows that every member in
> his team has something that they can do better than himself and knows to
> use those abilities in benefit of the group, and not the one who dominates
> the team.
>
>
> Greetings
> Ting
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

Russavia
In reply to this post by Ting Chen-2
Ting,

On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 9:39 PM, Ting Chen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hello dear all,


Like this was really, really deep man.

Just one question for you -- can you see the dog wearing sunglasses at
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Russavia&oldid=120804806:)

Russavia
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
In reply to this post by Ting Chen-2
(Note this reply is entirely in my personal capacity, and does not in any
way represent anything at all official)

On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 9:39 AM, Ting Chen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Files and contents that let's say are legal in the EU but not in the US
> should of the be able to be stored on a server located in the EU and
> distributed and operated from there. Files and contents that are legal in
> PRC and Taiwan and may violate copy right law in the US should be able to
> be stored in a server say in Taiwan or Hongkong and be distributed from
> there into the world. This approach is meanwhile technical viable and is
> used by almost all major international internet providers today.
>

As I recall, the problem with this suggestion is that it wouldn't actually
work that way. For material that's illegal in the US but legal in the EU,
the US branch would be sued despite the material being hosted in the EU.
And similarly, for something legal in the US but not legal in the EU, the
EU branch would be sued. The end result would be that everyone everywhere
would have to comply with the *most* restrictive laws, not the least. And
if it did work, the individual contributors would still probably have to
watch out for liability.

Or is the idea here to have Wikipedia be "run" by a large number of
different legal entities? I don't have any idea of how that might work to
do more than guess that the necessary legal structure (if it's even
possible) would result in something hugely complex.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

Cristian Consonni
In reply to this post by Ting Chen-2
Hi Ting,

Thank you for sharing your view. It is interesting in many aspects,
and I think that I support its spirit but I feel obliged to add a
couple of points.

2014-04-07 15:39 GMT+02:00 Ting Chen <[hidden email]>:
[...]
> Even though the Foundation had increased its legal
> department and had tentatively tried to work out an approach to support its
> community in legal conflict basically it is still working with the old
> strategy: In case there is a legal case in a foreign country the Foundation
> will avoid the call of the court while the Chapter will deny any
> responsibility for the content. This leaves in the end all potential hazards
> to the volunteer who contributed the content. In case of a court suit he is
> probably the one that have the worse legal support and had to take the
> charge privately, even if he handled legally and in good will.

I can confirm that, this is precisely what Wikimedia italia is doing
right now (and rightly so) for the infamous "20 million € lawsuit"[1]
you should already know about. Plus, the fact that we do not have any
responsibility over the projects nor we want to "intervene" or
"manage" them is in our bylaws[2] too.

It is worth adding that following the law and jurisprudence in Italy
(but mind that IANAL) the mere possession of servers can be enough for
an Italian judge to consider you responsible of the contents. That's
why Wikimedia Italia does not want any server.

Moreover, the association itself is not a legal person and its rights
and duties are exercised in the person of his legal representative,
that is the chair (in Italian, presidente) So in the aforementioned
case the lawsuit is on the shoulders and head of Frieda herself (which
was the chair and legal representative at the time).
You can imagine that in no way we can think that a single person
accepts this kind of burden (I mean, we have already received a 20M€
lawsuit and we don't even have any servers!).

[...]

> This also means that the chapters, as far as there is one, should be able to
> take the responsibility for the content and the hosting of those servers in
> their country. They should be obliged to provide legal consultation and
> defense to the community, which means a distribution of the legal defense
> from a central point into the world, to the chapters and directly to the
> communities. Indeed the legal consultation and protection of the community
> is in my opinion one of the most missed duty of the chapters and the
> Foundation to the movement.

Well, Wikimedia Italia is providing assistance to Frieda since day 1,
of course. it is also worth mentioning that the case should reach its
end sometimes this year (it needed only 5 years)

Cristian
(speaking in my personal capacity)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jimbo_Wales/Archive_50#Wikimedia_Italia_in_trouble
[2] {{it}} http://wiki.wikimedia.it/wiki/Statuto
These are probably outdated:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Italia/bylaws
We have modified our bylaws in 2009 to become a registered non-profit:

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

Simon Knight
This is very interesting Ting just to reply to one (fairly minor!) part re:
WMUK & WMDE strategy, I agree further sharing and coordination would be a
good thing (indeed, we did try to look to other chapters/organisations for
guidance) but I also think thinking about localisation of strategy is
important, and within the spirit of distribution. Im hoping we can discuss
both of these aspects - co-ordination, and localisation - at wmcon in
Berlin this week and would welcome thoughts on this element (on a new
thread probably).

Best

Simon
On 7 Apr 2014 16:49, "Cristian Consonni" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Ting,
>
> Thank you for sharing your view. It is interesting in many aspects,
> and I think that I support its spirit but I feel obliged to add a
> couple of points.
>
> 2014-04-07 15:39 GMT+02:00 Ting Chen <[hidden email]>:
> [...]
> > Even though the Foundation had increased its legal
> > department and had tentatively tried to work out an approach to support
> its
> > community in legal conflict basically it is still working with the old
> > strategy: In case there is a legal case in a foreign country the
> Foundation
> > will avoid the call of the court while the Chapter will deny any
> > responsibility for the content. This leaves in the end all potential
> hazards
> > to the volunteer who contributed the content. In case of a court suit he
> is
> > probably the one that have the worse legal support and had to take the
> > charge privately, even if he handled legally and in good will.
>
> I can confirm that, this is precisely what Wikimedia italia is doing
> right now (and rightly so) for the infamous "20 million EURO lawsuit"[1]
> you should already know about. Plus, the fact that we do not have any
> responsibility over the projects nor we want to "intervene" or
> "manage" them is in our bylaws[2] too.
>
> It is worth adding that following the law and jurisprudence in Italy
> (but mind that IANAL) the mere possession of servers can be enough for
> an Italian judge to consider you responsible of the contents. That's
> why Wikimedia Italia does not want any server.
>
> Moreover, the association itself is not a legal person and its rights
> and duties are exercised in the person of his legal representative,
> that is the chair (in Italian, presidente) So in the aforementioned
> case the lawsuit is on the shoulders and head of Frieda herself (which
> was the chair and legal representative at the time).
> You can imagine that in no way we can think that a single person
> accepts this kind of burden (I mean, we have already received a 20M EURO
> lawsuit and we don't even have any servers!).
>
> [...]
>
> > This also means that the chapters, as far as there is one, should be
> able to
> > take the responsibility for the content and the hosting of those servers
> in
> > their country. They should be obliged to provide legal consultation and
> > defense to the community, which means a distribution of the legal defense
> > from a central point into the world, to the chapters and directly to the
> > communities. Indeed the legal consultation and protection of the
> community
> > is in my opinion one of the most missed duty of the chapters and the
> > Foundation to the movement.
>
> Well, Wikimedia Italia is providing assistance to Frieda since day 1,
> of course. it is also worth mentioning that the case should reach its
> end sometimes this year (it needed only 5 years)
>
> Cristian
> (speaking in my personal capacity)
>
> [1]
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jimbo_Wales/Archive_50#Wikimedia_Italia_in_trouble
> [2] {{it}} http://wiki.wikimedia.it/wiki/Statuto
> These are probably outdated:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Italia/bylaws
> We have modified our bylaws in 2009 to become a registered non-profit:
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

metasj
In reply to this post by Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 10:49 AM, Brad Jorsch (Anomie)
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 9:39 AM, Ting Chen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Files and contents that let's say are legal in the EU but not in the US
>> should of the be able to be stored on a server located in the EU and
>> distributed and operated from there. Files and contents that are legal in
>> PRC and Taiwan and may violate copy right law in the US should be able to
>> be stored in a server say in Taiwan or Hongkong and be distributed from
>> there into the world. This approach is meanwhile technical viable and is
>> used by almost all major international internet providers today.

> As I recall, the problem with this suggestion is that it wouldn't actually
> work that way.

Something like this could work.

> For material that's illegal in the US but legal in the EU,

MediaWiki could be designed to more flexibly look for material from
multiple sources.  This can be host-neutral.

> the US branch would be sued despite the material being hosted in the EU.
<
> if it did work, the individual contributors would still probably have to
> watch out for liability.

There are problems to overcome.
As we have seen, people are sometimes sued even where there is no
legal case against them. And sometimes the Internet itself is
challenged, ISPs are pressured to change their policies, over content
issues.  But if you live in a country where a file is legal to copy
and share online, and you copy it to a server/website in that country
while correctly indicating its (c) status, it is difficult to find
fault with that.

How these local websites interact with one another, or with
international requests for geo-blocking, or with client readers and
international websites that help aggregate their contents, is a
trickier question.

A properly designed distributed system could go a long way towards
addressing some of the issues noted above.  And in the long run this
would make the projects more robust against certain attacks that (even
with multiple server farms) we are currently vulnerable to.  Thanks,
Ting, for starting this thread.

SJ

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia

Peter Southwood
In reply to this post by Ting Chen-2
Why not?
Peter
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ting Chen" <[hidden email]>
To: "Wikimedia Mailing List" <[hidden email]>
Sent: Monday, April 07, 2014 3:39 PM
Subject: [Wikimedia-l] United Nation of Wikimedia


> Hello dear all,
>
> From 2008 on until recently the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) had seen a
> staggering growth to fulfill its mission, and it had pulled a great deal
> of the resources, in money, but as well as in talent, manpower and
> volunteer's effort of the movement.
>
>
> From the beginning hosting of the Wikimedia projects was the core
> competency of the WMF. A big part of the WMF budget and staff is dedicated
> to the operation of the servers. Meanwhile the main server farm is moved
> from Tampa, Florida to Ashburn, Virginia.
>
>
> In the last years the WMF had evolved to the main development party of the
> MediaWiki software. The software and product development had drawn many
> resources and talents from around the world to San Francisco. Many
> developers were relocated to join the WMF team.
>
>
> With the increased prominence of especially Wikipedia the WMF and its
> projects were facing more and more legal challenges in the past years. Law
> suits from around the world were reported since 2005. Because of this the
> WMF had expanded its legal team.
>
>
> To improve its role as the leader of the movement and to settle the
> disputes between the WMF and chapters about the processing and
> distribution of the funding the WMF had evolved since 2010 into a grant
> making organization.
>
>
> All in all the WMF is without doubt the center peace of the movement and
> claims four fifth of the expanses of the entire movement.
>
>
> The recent dispute about the URAA motivated massive content deletions on
> Wikimedia Commons highlights the problem of this strong centralized
> approach.
>
>
> In basic, the storage solution of the Wikimedia projects is still a very
> classical approach with two central database centers, both of them located
> in the US. This approach had repeatedly induced conflicts about what
> content can be stored and what cannot. It does not reflect the
> international character of the projects and had repeatedly induced critics
> on the Wikimedia projects to be US biased and it is, measured on today's
> storage technology, outdated. Even though currently the US law is one of
> the most liberal in relation to freedom of speech it does has its bias.
> The US copy right law for example is meanwhile one of the most restrictive
> and backward looking copy right laws in the entire world. Another example
> of the potential hazardous result of this approach are the image files
> that are currently stored in the individual projects. For example on
> Chinese Wikipedia images that are free according to the Chinese and
> Taiwanese copy right laws are stored directly there, and not on Commons.
> These images are nevertheless not free according to the US law and are
> stored in servers that are located in the US and distributed from there.
> This poses potential problems for all parties that are involved here: for
> the Foundation, for the project, for the community that is curating these
> images and for the users that are using these images.
>
>
> In a larger sense the problem is not constrained to the file repositories,
> but also to the content. Even though the Foundation had increased its
> legal department and had tentatively tried to work out an approach to
> support its community in legal conflict basically it is still working with
> the old strategy: In case there is a legal case in a foreign country the
> Foundation will avoid the call of the court while the Chapter will deny
> any responsibility for the content. This leaves in the end all potential
> hazards to the volunteer who contributed the content. In case of a court
> suit he is probably the one that have the worse legal support and had to
> take the charge privately, even if he handled legally and in good will.
>
>
> In my opinion, since the technology is ripe, it is time for the movement
> as a whole and WMF especially to seriously consider the approach of a
> distributed hosting. Files and contents that let's say are legal in the EU
> but not in the US should be able to be stored on a server located in the
> EU and distributed and operated from there. Files and contents that are
> legal in PRC and Taiwan and may violate copy right law in the US should be
> able to be stored in a server say in Taiwan or Hongkong and be distributed
> from there into the world. This approach is meanwhile technical viable and
> is used by almost all major international internet providers today.
>
>
> This also means that the chapters, as far as there is one, should be able
> to take the responsibility for the content and the hosting of those
> servers in their country. They should be obliged to provide legal
> consultation and defense to the community, which means a distribution of
> the legal defense from a central point into the world, to the chapters and
> directly to the communities. Indeed the legal consultation and protection
> of the community is in my opinion one of the most missed duty of the
> chapters and the Foundation to the movement.
>
>
> Every country, that meets a certain standard of freedom of speech, freedom
> and media and freedom of justice is a potential place to set up such a
> server and in which the chapter can be entitled to claim the
> responsibility of the content that is stored there. There are meanwhile
> pretty many renowned independent organizations that provide such standards
> and measure the status of a country against these standards, like
> Reporters sans frontières, Human Rights Watch, etc.
>
>
> Also software and product development can be done distributed. Many
> commercial companies do this successfully, many open source projects do
> this successfully. The WMF is not unfamiliar with distributed software
> development. One of the most prominent developer of the WMF, Tim Starling
> is for example never relocated to San Francisco. Also in the past decades
> many important impulses came from outside of San Francisco, the last one
> is WikiData, initiated and developed by Wikimedia Deuschland (WMDE).
> Wikimedia Serbia had offered in the past to hire developers in Belgrade
> because the people there are well educated, talented and the wage there is
> low. I believe there is no necessity to concentrated all developers at one
> place. Fore sure distributed developer teams need certain trainings,
> standards, communication skills and procedures to be able to doing well.
> But it is possible, it is even meanwhile industrial standard. It is
> meanwhile a backward looking approach to draw and concentrate developers
> at one place.
>
>
> From organizational view it makes more sense to have these distributed
> developers organized by the chapters (as far as there is one) instead of
> let them work as contractors for the Foundation, which also means an
> organizational decentralization of the software and product development.
>
>
> For me personally there are some life experience that makes me an absolute
> supporter for the decentralization.
>
>
> I was born 1968, the year which marks the climax of the darkest period of
> the Chinese history, the Cultural Revolution. In the year when I was born
> Chine was experiencing the worst political purge since Stalin's death in
> the whole world. At that time, no one could imaging, that from the boys
> and girls that were born that year in China, millions will go to North
> America or Europe to study there and work there and live there. No one
> could imaging that some of them will go back to China because they know
> that China will provide them better chances for work, research and life
> than in North America and Europe. 1988 I traveled with the train throw
> Soviet Union and crossed the no man's land of Berlin Wall, and at that
> time no one in the whole world could imagine that less than four years
> later there will be no Soviet Union any more and the Berlin Wall will
> fall.
>
>
> Those experiences tell me not to trust any fortune teller and future
> researcher. I won't bet that USA will not turn into a dictatorship within
> my life time, and I won't bet that Central and West Africa won't turn into
> the most prosperous and most liberal region of the world in my life time.
> However unprobable this looks like. Because of that I don't trust one
> central prominent hub, because however strong and well developed and well
> organized, it is the single point to fail.
>
>
> Decentralization, on any aspect, only works if the parties are aligned.
> One of the darkest hour of my board chair's personship was by an interview
> with an Austrian television. Together with me a chair's person of a
> chapter board, a volunteer and a researcher of Wikipedia were interviewed.
> When the reporter came to the topic of gender bias and Foundation's effort
> to balance it he at first addressed the question to the chapter chair's
> person. And the person answered: Well, for our chapter this is not a
> topic, we concentrate our work on article quality. And for the next few
> seconds before the question is addressed to me I was feverish thinking
> about an answer which would not sound like I support and agree with him
> but also don't like as if we will publicly take out a dispute about what
> is the movement goal.
>
>
> I think this should not happen. And if the movement really want to be
> organized decentralized, we cannot afford such things to happen. It made
> me sad to see that WMDE and WMUK published their strategic planning for
> the coming years, each by themselves. I think it should be a strategic
> planning with all organizations, agreed by all organizations and all
> organizations will work together on those goals, together.
>
>
> I think there should be a charter for all organizations in our movement,
> signed by all organizations that want to join us, that set up standards,
> set up things like working together on strategies and working together on
> goals. Unfortunately, and I do blame myself partly for this, that despite
> the movement roles work group, despite some other tries afterward, we were
> not able to set up such a charter. And I think that one of the goals for a
> movement strategic planning should be set up such a charter in the next
> few years.
>
>
> So, if we decentralize the hosting, the software and product development,
> the legal and the movement organizations, where is the place of WMF?
>
>
> I imagine the WMF as the United Nations of Wikimedia. I can see a lot of
> people now wrinkle their nose and say: What? that ugly and useless
> bureaucracy? And I will tell you: No, I am not thinking about that ugly
> and useless bureaucracy, I am thinking about that organization that
> concentrated and coordinated the world's effort to eradicate smallpox, I
> am thinking about that organization that set up standards to preserve the
> world's heritages, the organization that coordinates and develops
> standards for civil air and sea traffic that makes an smooth and safe
> international travel possible. So, I am imagining an organization that
> coordinates the movement resources, that set up and safe guard standards,
> but not dominating the movement. And all in all, despite the 40 and plus
> partner organizations, there are still more volunteers that don't have an
> organization to support them, and there are still much to do for the
> Foundation. Especially, I still see the WMF as the leader of the partner
> organizations and the movement.
>
>
> Looking back into the history I believe it is necessary for the Foundation
> to have the last six year's growth. The Foundation had learned a lot from
> this and it had repeatedly set up standards for the movement, despite all
> the grudging and all the disputes, looking back, it is good to have those
> standards set up. All organizations inside of the movement are profitable
> from those standards.
>
>
> But the growth of the WMF had more and more extincting the growth of the
> partner organizations inside of the movement. Its dominance and its
> feeling responsible for everything inside of the movement began to take
> the air away from the other organizations, its concentration at one place
> had always been felt as an alienation and is becoming more and more a
> problem. A good captain of see knows when the wind turns and he need to
> change the sail setting and course to cope with that change, for the
> Wikimedia movement now is the time.
>
>
> I want to repeat one sentence I said earlier: I see the WMF as the leader
> of the partner organizations and the movement. I want to emphasize that I
> want to see the WMF as the strong leader of the partner organizations and
> the movement. The strong leader because he is wise and experienced, not
> because he is a dictator; the strong leader that knows that every member
> in his team has something that they can do better than himself and knows
> to use those abilities in benefit of the group, and not the one who
> dominates the team.
>
>
> Greetings
> Ting
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