[Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

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[Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Brion Vibber-4
I think there are many different interpretations of what it means to "be a
high-tech organization", which makes it a difficult label to base arguments
around; readers will interpret it very differently depending on their
personal experiences and biases.

One view might concentrate on notions of "innovation", "excellence", or
"return on investment" achieved through super-smart people creating unique
technology -- this view associates "high-tech" with success, competitive
advantage, brand awareness/marketshare, and money (profit for traditional
corporations, or investment in the mission for non-profits).

Another view might concentrate on other features considered common to
"high-tech" companies such as toxic work environments, lack of diversity,
overemphasis on engineering versus other disciplines, disconnection from
users' needs, and a laser-focus on achieving profits at the expense of
long-term thinking. This view associates "high-tech" with social and
economic inequality and exploitation of employees and users for their labor
& attention to the detriment of their physical and emotional health.

And there are many, much subtler connotations to be found in between.


I believe a high-tech organization should invest in smart people creating
unique technology. But I also think it should invest in people, period.
Staff and volunteers must be cultivated and supported -- that's how loyalty
and passion are developed, and I believe they pay dividends in productivity
and recruitment.

Absolutely Wikimedia Foundation needs to build better technologies --
technologies to serve the needs of our editors, our readers, our
photographers, our citation reviewers, etc. This means Wikimedia Foundation
needs a good relationship with those people to research, brainstorm, plan,
develop, test, redevelop, retest, and roll out software successfully. The
people who represent Wikimedia Foundation in those relationships are its
staff, so it's important for management to support them in their work and
help them succeed.

It is my sincere hope that when the current crises are resolved, that the
Board of Trustees and the executive can agree on at least this much as a
shared vision for the Foundation.

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Leigh Thelmadatter
As a humanities person myself, I did read into Lila's post that the non-engineering aspects of Wikimedia would take a back seat... perhaps a far back seat to all the shiny new things happening in Silicon Valley. This may not be the case, but if it is, I can understand it as to an engineer, everything is a tech issue.
I have been a college professor for 20 some-odd years and despite my linguistic and humanities background, don´t hate technology. I dont love it as much as others, but simply the fact that I will touch it has made me something of the technology "expert" in the various colleges and universities language departments I have taught.
Brion touches on something very important here... especially with the words "user disconnection."  Integration computer technology has been the buzzword for decades, but we are still in many ways no closer to effectively using technology in educational institutions than we were in the 1990s.  Some of it is how fast technology changes, but most, IMHO, is a lack of understanding of how to best use the tools that we have and will be invented.
Teachers and administrators, in my area at least, either swing toward "Technology is useless." to "If we buy stuff, it will solve all our problems."  Heck, I had to laugh when MOOC's got introduced as a way to have large classes with only one lecturer. We have learned nothing from the first online classes in the 1990s, mostly because adminstrators still pray for 1000-student classes paying for only one professor. I exaggerate, but not by much.
Perhaps the most difficult thing is matching technology with the needs of end users, often because computer people and the rest of us look at the technology so differently. Unlike a doctor, who can tell patients what is good for them (or rather their bodies), engineers often understand what we non-techie end users need about as much we understand how to code.
This is one reason why schools waste so much money when it comes to technology. We have teachers who understand their classes but not the technology, and technology experts that do not know how to teach writing, history, philosophy, foreign language etc.
Finding someone to bridge the gap, IMHO is crucial.
It could be tempting for a Foundation in Silicon Valley to work solely on the technology end, but the end users (readers and editors) see Wikipedia/Wikimedia as a reference first. The technology serves the goal of informing and educating.  Not all technologies do help this. For example, in the 1990s and part of the 2000s, early research seemed to indicate that the immediate feedback from foreign language practice software was a benefit for students, as they could do more practice in less time. More recent research seems to indicate this benefit is limited at best. Fast and superficial feedback seems to get ignored, especially after the novelty has worn off.
My point is that it is necessary to monitor trends and make sure Wikipedia does not get so aniquitated that is it left behind. But on the other hand, blindly chasing new tech fads can tear the organization and the humans still very much needed to add to, improve and update a huge gathering of data. Any new technologies we want to explore must conform to the main purpose of Wikimedia, the free dissemination of information. I have no problem with, say, Wikipedia content be reused for other formats (it is already.) but that encyclopedic basis needs to remain intact and accessible to all, not just those who know all the new tech gizmos.


> Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 13:29:17 -0800
> From: [hidden email]
> To: [hidden email]
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization
>
> I think there are many different interpretations of what it means to "be a
> high-tech organization", which makes it a difficult label to base arguments
> around; readers will interpret it very differently depending on their
> personal experiences and biases.
>
> One view might concentrate on notions of "innovation", "excellence", or
> "return on investment" achieved through super-smart people creating unique
> technology -- this view associates "high-tech" with success, competitive
> advantage, brand awareness/marketshare, and money (profit for traditional
> corporations, or investment in the mission for non-profits).
>
> Another view might concentrate on other features considered common to
> "high-tech" companies such as toxic work environments, lack of diversity,
> overemphasis on engineering versus other disciplines, disconnection from
> users' needs, and a laser-focus on achieving profits at the expense of
> long-term thinking. This view associates "high-tech" with social and
> economic inequality and exploitation of employees and users for their labor
> & attention to the detriment of their physical and emotional health.
>
> And there are many, much subtler connotations to be found in between.
>
>
> I believe a high-tech organization should invest in smart people creating
> unique technology. But I also think it should invest in people, period.
> Staff and volunteers must be cultivated and supported -- that's how loyalty
> and passion are developed, and I believe they pay dividends in productivity
> and recruitment.
>
> Absolutely Wikimedia Foundation needs to build better technologies --
> technologies to serve the needs of our editors, our readers, our
> photographers, our citation reviewers, etc. This means Wikimedia Foundation
> needs a good relationship with those people to research, brainstorm, plan,
> develop, test, redevelop, retest, and roll out software successfully. The
> people who represent Wikimedia Foundation in those relationships are its
> staff, so it's important for management to support them in their work and
> help them succeed.
>
> It is my sincere hope that when the current crises are resolved, that the
> Board of Trustees and the executive can agree on at least this much as a
> shared vision for the Foundation.
>
> -- brion
> _______________________________________________
> 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] What it means to be a high-tech organization

SarahSV
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 2:29 PM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> I believe a high-tech organization should invest in smart people creating
> unique technology. But I also think it should invest in people, period.
> Staff and volunteers must be cultivated and supported -- that's how loyalty
> and passion are developed, and I believe they pay dividends in productivity
> and recruitment.
>

​Brian, I'd be interested to hear how volunteers could be cultivated and
supported. We felt under attack by the Foundation until Lila arrived, and I
think a lot of editors are grateful to her for having improved that
relationship. But not feeling attacked isn't the same as feeling supported.

The Foundation often boasts that it only has around 200 employees, but the
truth is that it has an enormous unpaid workforce. Most of us don't go to
meet-ups, so we don't even see travel expenses. We're grateful if we can
get a free JSTOR subscription.

Sue Gardner once declared that the Foundation would never pay for content,
which was a blow to those of us who produce it. Unpaid workers with
technical skills might one day be paid, but if your skills are editorial,
forget it. That very much supports the idea that the Foundation is a tech
organization and not an educational one.

So – how does a tech organization nurture and support its unpaid workforce
of mostly writers and researchers?

Sarah

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Brion Vibber-4
On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 2:34 PM, SarahSV <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 2:29 PM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > I believe a high-tech organization should invest in smart people creating
> > unique technology. But I also think it should invest in people, period.
> > Staff and volunteers must be cultivated and supported -- that's how
> loyalty
> > and passion are developed, and I believe they pay dividends in
> productivity
> > and recruitment.
> >
>
> ​Brian, I'd be interested to hear how volunteers could be cultivated and
> supported. We felt under attack by the Foundation until Lila arrived, and I
> think a lot of editors are grateful to her for having improved that
> relationship. But not feeling attacked isn't the same as feeling supported.


> The Foundation often boasts that it only has around 200 employees, but the
> truth is that it has an enormous unpaid workforce. Most of us don't go to
> meet-ups, so we don't even see travel expenses. We're grateful if we can
> get a free JSTOR subscription.
>
> Sue Gardner once declared that the Foundation would never pay for content,
> which was a blow to those of us who produce it. Unpaid workers with
> technical skills might one day be paid, but if your skills are editorial,
> forget it. That very much supports the idea that the Foundation is a tech
> organization and not an educational one.
>
> So – how does a tech organization nurture and support its unpaid workforce
> of mostly writers and researchers?
>

Excellent questions, and important ones for WMF and the wider Wikimedia
movement to explore and answer.


I think first we have to ask: why did many people feel attacked or in
unwanted adversarial positions before (both among volunteers, and among
staff)? What sort of interactions and behavior were seen as problematic,
and what led up to them?

Second we have to ask: given that several people on this list have
described improved relationships with staff in the last year or so, what
has actually changed in those interactions, and what can we do to make sure
we keep doing well?

Third we have to ask: what do our volunteer editors, module writers,
template tweakers, copyright divers, and library researchers need to
further the mission that they don't already have, and what can WMF do to
help them?

I know I'm answering questions with questions, but I think that's where we
stand; I do not have a "do this" answer to give beyond listening and
adjusting our behavior based on what we hear. I suspect that folks who have
worked on the 'product' side of WMF in talking to users about our software
projects have already been learning some of these lessons, but it's
important that we document and retain that knowledge and make it a
deliberate part of how WMF operates.


In that third subquestion is an implicit decision point, which is the crux:
"what can WMF do to help them?" can only be answered within the context of
what monetary and human "resources" the company has available or believes
it can develop.

It may well be that the answer is "WMF concentrates on building and
operating the tech that content-contributing Wikimedians use to accomplish
amazing things" while things like coordinating activity in specific content
areas is managed by other organizations -- I've seen people cite the Wiki
Education Foundation which helps organize professor & student activity as
being a good example of this sort of work going on, though I have to admit
I'm not intimately familiar with them.

I would personally love to see people employed to do serious content work,
and I'd rather see them supported through educationally-minded institutions
than be hired by random PR firms to work on their clients' articles. I
don't know whether that's politically feasible through WMF now or in the
future, but I also think it's important that the WMF not be seen as the
only funding game in town either.

That, too, might need further thinking about how we fundraise as a movement.

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

SarahSV
On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 4:02 PM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
>
> I think first we have to ask: why did many people feel attacked or in
> unwanted adversarial positions before (both among volunteers, and among
> staff)? What sort of interactions and behavior were seen as problematic,
> and what led up to them?
>

​The crux of the problem is that we all see ourselves as bosses.
​The paid workers don't want to be told what to do by the unpaid, and vice
versa.

There were clashes around the introduction of software, but these were only
flashpoints. There was (and remains) a simmering resentment of the paid
among the unpaid, for obvious reasons. And the paid staff seemed to regard
experienced editors as "power users" who need to be chased off, missing the
point that (a) "power users" have invaluable experience and a very unusual
skill set that should be used not discarded, and (b) that the new users the
Foundation wants to cultivate will become "power users" too one day if
they're cultivated well – unless the idea is to appeal only to occasional
users who want to fix typos, but you won't get an encyclopaedia that way.

You mentioned the "exploitation of employees and users for their labor
" in your email, and I'm glad you did, because that's almost never
discussed. It was in part why there was such a strong reaction to the
misunderstanding about the Knowledge Engine. We had visions of the
Foundation trying to create yet another unpaid workforce to "curate" search
results.

I don't want this email to be essay-length, but let me raise an issue
that's closely related to exploitation, namely addiction. A lot of the
unpaid workers are addicted to what they do, and I've seen staffers discuss
how to keep them that way (e.g. by creating feedback loops of responses to
keep people going). Should the Foundation be paying for that kind of work
and thinking in those ways? I would say not.

So the question of how to support volunteers involves:

1. Recognizing that we are an unpaid workforce.

2. Recognizing that there are questions about exploitation and addiction
that should be discussed, and that these are serious ethical and perhaps
even public-health issues.

3. Developing an attitude of social responsibility toward us within the
Foundation, rather than seeing us as a nuisance and an obstacle.

4. Rethinking Sue's decision that the Foundation would never pay for
content. I can think of several ways in which the Foundation could either
pay or facilitate payment.

I'll leave it there, because this is long, and perhaps reply to your other
points in another email. Just one final thought. When I lived in London
years ago, a new newspaper started for homeless people, The Big Issue. It
is sold by the homeless on the streets, with the idea of giving them a way
to earn an income. The homeless and other volunteers also used to help
write it. The idea was that, as it became more successful, everyone would
be paid, because the concept of it was to lift everyone up.

I would love to see the Wikimedia Foundation embrace that philosophy,
namely that part of its job is to nurture its workforce (paid and unpaid),
offer them opportunity where it can, lift them up, educate them, show them
how to educate others, and respect them, so that everyone who gets involved
seriously with Wikipedia finds their lives improved because of that
involvement.

Sarah
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Brion Vibber-4
Thanks for the thoughtful response; you've raised some excellent points
that strongly warrant further discussion.

Some more recent initiatives like the Community Tech team have been
specifically meant to help "power users" get stuff done; I hope that's
working out and helping, and that the focus on providing tools that our
contributors want and need continues.

The topic of unpaid labor -- and exploiting addictive behaviors -- is a
general one with free and open source software specifically, as well as
user generated content generally, and I agree it deserves a lot more
thought.

-- brion
On Feb 23, 2016 3:41 PM, "SarahSV" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 4:02 PM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> >
> >
> > I think first we have to ask: why did many people feel attacked or in
> > unwanted adversarial positions before (both among volunteers, and among
> > staff)? What sort of interactions and behavior were seen as problematic,
> > and what led up to them?
> >
>
> ​The crux of the problem is that we all see ourselves as bosses.
> ​The paid workers don't want to be told what to do by the unpaid, and vice
> versa.
>
> There were clashes around the introduction of software, but these were only
> flashpoints. There was (and remains) a simmering resentment of the paid
> among the unpaid, for obvious reasons. And the paid staff seemed to regard
> experienced editors as "power users" who need to be chased off, missing the
> point that (a) "power users" have invaluable experience and a very unusual
> skill set that should be used not discarded, and (b) that the new users the
> Foundation wants to cultivate will become "power users" too one day if
> they're cultivated well – unless the idea is to appeal only to occasional
> users who want to fix typos, but you won't get an encyclopaedia that way.
>
> You mentioned the "exploitation of employees and users for their labor
> " in your email, and I'm glad you did, because that's almost never
> discussed. It was in part why there was such a strong reaction to the
> misunderstanding about the Knowledge Engine. We had visions of the
> Foundation trying to create yet another unpaid workforce to "curate" search
> results.
>
> I don't want this email to be essay-length, but let me raise an issue
> that's closely related to exploitation, namely addiction. A lot of the
> unpaid workers are addicted to what they do, and I've seen staffers discuss
> how to keep them that way (e.g. by creating feedback loops of responses to
> keep people going). Should the Foundation be paying for that kind of work
> and thinking in those ways? I would say not.
> ​
> So the question of how to support volunteers involves:
>
> 1. Recognizing that we are an unpaid workforce.
>
> 2. Recognizing that there are questions about exploitation and addiction
> that should be discussed, and that these are serious ethical and perhaps
> even public-health issues.
>
> 3. Developing an attitude of social responsibility toward us within the
> Foundation, rather than seeing us as a nuisance and an obstacle.
>
> 4. Rethinking Sue's decision that the Foundation would never pay for
> content. I can think of several ways in which the Foundation could either
> pay or facilitate payment.
>
> I'll leave it there, because this is long, and perhaps reply to your other
> points in another email. Just one final thought. When I lived in London
> years ago, a new newspaper started for homeless people, The Big Issue. It
> is sold by the homeless on the streets, with the idea of giving them a way
> to earn an income. The homeless and other volunteers also used to help
> write it. The idea was that, as it became more successful, everyone would
> be paid, because the concept of it was to lift everyone up.
>
> I would love to see the Wikimedia Foundation embrace that philosophy,
> namely that part of its job is to nurture its workforce (paid and unpaid),
> offer them opportunity where it can, lift them up, educate them, show them
> how to educate others, and respect them, so that everyone who gets involved
> seriously with Wikipedia finds their lives improved because of that
> involvement.
>
> Sarah
> _______________________________________________
> 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] What it means to be a high-tech organization

James Salsman-2
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
SarahSV wrote:
>
>... how does a tech organization nurture and support its unpaid
> workforce of mostly writers and researchers?

I remain convinced that http://wikimedia.org/wiki/Accuracy_review can
solve this problem through a new spinoff such as WikiEd Foundation,
but that's still probably at least a year off.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

James Salsman-2
Sorry, http://mediawiki.org/wiki/Accuracy_review


On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 4:59 PM, James Salsman <[hidden email]> wrote:
> SarahSV wrote:
>>
>>... how does a tech organization nurture and support its unpaid
>> workforce of mostly writers and researchers?
>
> I remain convinced that http://wikimedia.org/wiki/Accuracy_review can
> solve this problem through a new spinoff such as WikiEd Foundation,
> but that's still probably at least a year off.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

pajz
In reply to this post by SarahSV
Sarah,

thank you and Brion for some really insightful e-mails. I'll just add one
thought to one of your points.

On 24 February 2016 at 00:41, SarahSV <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Should the Foundation be paying for that kind of work
> and thinking in those ways? I would say not.

[...]

4. Rethinking Sue's decision that the Foundation would never pay for
>
content. I can think of several ways in which the Foundation could either
> pay or facilitate payment.
>

Well, we all know about the problems of giving monetary compensation to
editors. Just thinking aloud here, but I guess if you want to reward
editors in some way, but don't want to pay them directly, there's some
middle ground: Don't pay them, but let them donate their share of the cake.

At the beginning of the year, the WMF would set a budget, add some buffer,
and all that is received on top of that goes to a charity pool which
"belongs" to the editors. However, they can't claim any of the money for
themselves, but instead can choose how much they'd like to give to charity
A, charity B, etc. So, for instance, I'm a fan of the work of UNICEF and a
lesser-known charity called Evidence Action. So "my" compensation for my
Wikipedia work would be an amount X that I prorate between these two
organizations. Other editors would also take part in this scheme.

That would ensure we have a fully-funded (but not over-funded) WMF, we've
all done something good for the world, readers have a way to show
appreciation for editors, we don't negatively affect the intrinsic
motivation of editors by giving them money, all while transaction costs are
low as there'd just be one cumulative transfer per organization.
Economically speaking, I also think it's quite efficient: The WMF has a
great shiny product to showcase: Wikipedia. Wikipedia is something that
lots of people use, and benefit from, so it's rather easy to get them to
donate. On the other hand, if a more "classical" charity spends money on
installing water dispensers in Malawi, that goes unnoticed by most people.
So you'd expect that redirecting money to other charities should also
increase the total amout of donations made. Aside from that, the marginal
utility of the 50,000,001st dollar received the WMF is probably pretty low,
whereas if you're in the business of installing water dispensers, one would
expect it to be pretty high.

Best,
Patrik
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Sydney Poore
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
Thanks for writing this email Brion. I agree that the movement needs to
invest more in people and the processes that support people.

One of the largest challenges facing the wikimedia movement, including WMF,
is creating good models for how people in the movement can successfully
engage with each other.

This means investing in people and structures that provide ample time and
motivation to engage/collaborate with other people.

For the past 4 years (at least), I've had the sense that WMF is attempting
to accomplish important public facing projects/programs/initiatives on a
tight time line, and it is causing strain inside WMF, with affiliate
organization, and with the larger wikimedia community.

Instead of a well executed "continual improvement process"1  like "Kaizen" 2,
"Agile" 3, or "Lean" 4, the timelines are rushed and too often WMf staff is
redirected from their planned activities.

Affiliates and the community have to shift their priories so are not well
positioned to engage with WMF. The work sprints appeal to people in the
wikimedia movement who tend towards addictive personalities and
unfortunately it normalizes the process. And the tight timelines hinder
engagement from people in the global movement who do not regularly engage
on meta.

While there has been justification made in each situations for the
accelerated timelines, this form of community engagement is far from ideal
and it has contributed to the miscommunication and stress felt by WMF staff
and the whole wikimedia movement.

So, while I'm eager to have changes that improve governance of WMF and
strengthen the wikimedia movement as a whole, I strongly urge that an
adequate time, resources and people are invested in the process to
implement the changes.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continual_improvement_process
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen
3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_management
4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_software_development#Lean_principles
Warm regards,
Sydney Poore
User:FloNight

Sydney Poore
User:FloNight
Wikipedian in Residence
at Cochrane Collaboration

On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 4:29 PM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think there are many different interpretations of what it means to "be a
> high-tech organization", which makes it a difficult label to base arguments
> around; readers will interpret it very differently depending on their
> personal experiences and biases.
>
> One view might concentrate on notions of "innovation", "excellence", or
> "return on investment" achieved through super-smart people creating unique
> technology -- this view associates "high-tech" with success, competitive
> advantage, brand awareness/marketshare, and money (profit for traditional
> corporations, or investment in the mission for non-profits).
>
> Another view might concentrate on other features considered common to
> "high-tech" companies such as toxic work environments, lack of diversity,
> overemphasis on engineering versus other disciplines, disconnection from
> users' needs, and a laser-focus on achieving profits at the expense of
> long-term thinking. This view associates "high-tech" with social and
> economic inequality and exploitation of employees and users for their labor
> & attention to the detriment of their physical and emotional health.
>
> And there are many, much subtler connotations to be found in between.
>
>
> I believe a high-tech organization should invest in smart people creating
> unique technology. But I also think it should invest in people, period.
> Staff and volunteers must be cultivated and supported -- that's how loyalty
> and passion are developed, and I believe they pay dividends in productivity
> and recruitment.
>
> Absolutely Wikimedia Foundation needs to build better technologies --
> technologies to serve the needs of our editors, our readers, our
> photographers, our citation reviewers, etc. This means Wikimedia Foundation
> needs a good relationship with those people to research, brainstorm, plan,
> develop, test, redevelop, retest, and roll out software successfully. The
> people who represent Wikimedia Foundation in those relationships are its
> staff, so it's important for management to support them in their work and
> help them succeed.
>
> It is my sincere hope that when the current crises are resolved, that the
> Board of Trustees and the executive can agree on at least this much as a
> shared vision for the Foundation.
>
> -- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

phoebe ayers-3
In reply to this post by pajz
On Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 8:20 PM, pajz <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Well, we all know about the problems of giving monetary compensation to
> editors. Just thinking aloud here, but I guess if you want to reward
> editors in some way, but don't want to pay them directly, there's some
> middle ground: Don't pay them, but let them donate their share of the cake.
>
> At the beginning of the year, the WMF would set a budget, add some buffer,
> and all that is received on top of that goes to a charity pool which
> "belongs" to the editors. However, they can't claim any of the money for
> themselves, but instead can choose how much they'd like to give to charity
> A, charity B, etc. So, for instance, I'm a fan of the work of UNICEF and a
> lesser-known charity called Evidence Action. So "my" compensation for my
> Wikipedia work would be an amount X that I prorate between these two
> organizations. Other editors would also take part in this scheme.

And here I thought you were going to suggest giving each editor a pool
of $$ to assign to their favorite skunkworks projects.

If we divide the current WMF budget ($58M) by the current number of
monthly active editors (71K), then take 60% off the top for keeping
the lights on, infrastructure, etc. -- this is a fairly typical
overhead percentage for grants at universities -- we're still left
with $325/editor.

Personally, I'd vote my funds for edit-a-thons in a box :)

Phoebe, causing trouble

p.s. this is a thought experiment. I think the logistics would be
unwieldy. But not so unwieldy that the the highly-praised community
tech punchlist couldn't be implemented in many other areas too.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

SarahSV
On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> And here I thought you were going to suggest giving each editor a pool
> of $$ to assign to their favorite skunkworks projects.
>
> If we divide the current WMF budget ($58M) by the current number of
> monthly active editors (71K), then take 60% off the top for keeping
> the lights on, infrastructure, etc. -- this is a fairly typical
> overhead percentage for grants at universities -- we're still left
> with $325/editor.
>
> ​As of January 2016, the English WP had 3,492 editors that the Foundation
calls "very active," but that's only 100 edits a month. [1] The core
workforce is considerably smaller, and they're the ones who keep the place
running by tidying and writing/rewriting articles, creating and maintaining
various processes and policies, creating templates, and so on.

The Foundation could pay that number of workers, especially if it found
imaginative ways to do it.

For example, it could set up a department that accepts contracts from
individuals and groups who want certain articles to be written or
rewritten. Instead of paying a PR company, those people would pay the
Foundation. The Foundation would maintain a list of excellent editors and
would offer the contract to the most appropriate, taking a percentage of
the fee for itself.

The brief would specify that any article produced must adhere to the core
content policies, so there would be no whitewashing, but there would be an
effort to be fair. As things stand, unpaid editors have to clean up PR
efforts anyway, so they might as well get paid to produce something decent
from the start. It might only take a few ethical companies to sign up for
the thing to take off.

Sarah



[1] https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/SummaryEN.htm
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Risker
Well, Sarah, after all of these years I didn't think you'd come up with
anything that would surprise me. I was wrong,  And I'll say that if I was
going to favour paying anyone, it would be paying qualified translators to
support smaller projects, and Wikisourcers, and people who may have the
interest and ability to edit but instead have to work 60 and 70 hour weeks
on susbsistence wages simply to feed their children.  I

On 24 February 2016 at 21:09, SarahSV <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> >
> > And here I thought you were going to suggest giving each editor a pool
> > of $$ to assign to their favorite skunkworks projects.
> >
> > If we divide the current WMF budget ($58M) by the current number of
> > monthly active editors (71K), then take 60% off the top for keeping
> > the lights on, infrastructure, etc. -- this is a fairly typical
> > overhead percentage for grants at universities -- we're still left
> > with $325/editor.
> >
> > ​As of January 2016, the English WP had 3,492 editors that the Foundation
> calls "very active," but that's only 100 edits a month. [1] The core
> workforce is considerably smaller, and they're the ones who keep the place
> running by tidying and writing/rewriting articles, creating and maintaining
> various processes and policies, creating templates, and so on.
>
> The Foundation could pay that number of workers, especially if it found
> imaginative ways to do it.
>
> For example, it could set up a department that accepts contracts from
> individuals and groups who want certain articles to be written or
> rewritten. Instead of paying a PR company, those people would pay the
> Foundation. The Foundation would maintain a list of excellent editors and
> would offer the contract to the most appropriate, taking a percentage of
> the fee for itself.
>
> The brief would specify that any article produced must adhere to the core
> content policies, so there would be no whitewashing, but there would be an
> effort to be fair. As things stand, unpaid editors have to clean up PR
> efforts anyway, so they might as well get paid to produce something decent
> from the start. It might only take a few ethical companies to sign up for
> the thing to take off.
>
> Sarah
>
>
>
> [1] https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/SummaryEN.htm
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
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>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Risker
On 24 February 2016 at 21:16, Risker <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Well, Sarah, after all of these years I didn't think you'd come up with
> anything that would surprise me. I was wrong,  And I'll say that if I was
> going to favour paying anyone, it would be paying qualified translators to
> support smaller projects, and Wikisourcers, and people who may have the
> interest and ability to edit but instead have to work 60 and 70 hour weeks
> on susbsistence wages simply to feed their children.  I would have an
> extremely difficult time justifying paying people in large, well-to-do
> countries to edit Wikipedia. I also strongly suspect it would kill the
> donation stream almost entirely once it became known that Wikipedia was no
> longer written by volunteers, but instead was written by paid editors.
>


(Sorry for the inadvertent early send)

Risker




> 24 February 2016 at 21:09, SarahSV <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]>
>> wrote:
>>
>> >
>> > And here I thought you were going to suggest giving each editor a pool
>> > of $$ to assign to their favorite skunkworks projects.
>> >
>> > If we divide the current WMF budget ($58M) by the current number of
>> > monthly active editors (71K), then take 60% off the top for keeping
>> > the lights on, infrastructure, etc. -- this is a fairly typical
>> > overhead percentage for grants at universities -- we're still left
>> > with $325/editor.
>> >
>> > ​As of January 2016, the English WP had 3,492 editors that the
>> Foundation
>> calls "very active," but that's only 100 edits a month. [1] The core
>> workforce is considerably smaller, and they're the ones who keep the place
>> running by tidying and writing/rewriting articles, creating and
>> maintaining
>> various processes and policies, creating templates, and so on.
>>
>> The Foundation could pay that number of workers, especially if it found
>> imaginative ways to do it.
>>
>> For example, it could set up a department that accepts contracts from
>> individuals and groups who want certain articles to be written or
>> rewritten. Instead of paying a PR company, those people would pay the
>> Foundation. The Foundation would maintain a list of excellent editors and
>> would offer the contract to the most appropriate, taking a percentage of
>> the fee for itself.
>>
>> The brief would specify that any article produced must adhere to the core
>> content policies, so there would be no whitewashing, but there would be an
>> effort to be fair. As things stand, unpaid editors have to clean up PR
>> efforts anyway, so they might as well get paid to produce something decent
>> from the start. It might only take a few ethical companies to sign up for
>> the thing to take off.
>>
>> Sarah
>>
>>
>>
>> [1] https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/SummaryEN.htm
>> _______________________________________________
>> 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] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Dan Andreescu
I'm very new to this concept of paid editing.  But from what I understood
paid editing is allowed, as long as the editors disclose who they are paid
by on their talk page or in edit summaries.  I understood this to be
roughly the idea of the Wikipedian in Residence title.  I didn't look this
up on purpose, because I wanted to point out this might be a common
existing understanding.  Am I mistaken?  What is the policy?

As I was thinking about this, if it's true, I figured the hardest part for
the community would be finding out which edit was sponsored and which was
not.  If the disclosure was just on the user's page, someone looking at
edit histories would have to click through a lot to find possible
affiliations.  I'd say we could easily create an "audit" mode to the edit
history that would decorate each revision based on any affiliation
templates from the user pages.

But, there I go inventing a feature for a problem I don't even know exists
: )  I'll just go look it up now.

On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 9:19 PM, Risker <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 24 February 2016 at 21:16, Risker <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Well, Sarah, after all of these years I didn't think you'd come up with
> > anything that would surprise me. I was wrong,  And I'll say that if I was
> > going to favour paying anyone, it would be paying qualified translators
> to
> > support smaller projects, and Wikisourcers, and people who may have the
> > interest and ability to edit but instead have to work 60 and 70 hour
> weeks
> > on susbsistence wages simply to feed their children.  I would have an
> > extremely difficult time justifying paying people in large, well-to-do
> > countries to edit Wikipedia. I also strongly suspect it would kill the
> > donation stream almost entirely once it became known that Wikipedia was
> no
> > longer written by volunteers, but instead was written by paid editors.
> >
>
>
> (Sorry for the inadvertent early send)
>
> Risker
>
>
>
>
> > 24 February 2016 at 21:09, SarahSV <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> >> On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >> >
> >> > And here I thought you were going to suggest giving each editor a pool
> >> > of $$ to assign to their favorite skunkworks projects.
> >> >
> >> > If we divide the current WMF budget ($58M) by the current number of
> >> > monthly active editors (71K), then take 60% off the top for keeping
> >> > the lights on, infrastructure, etc. -- this is a fairly typical
> >> > overhead percentage for grants at universities -- we're still left
> >> > with $325/editor.
> >> >
> >> > ​As of January 2016, the English WP had 3,492 editors that the
> >> Foundation
> >> calls "very active," but that's only 100 edits a month. [1] The core
> >> workforce is considerably smaller, and they're the ones who keep the
> place
> >> running by tidying and writing/rewriting articles, creating and
> >> maintaining
> >> various processes and policies, creating templates, and so on.
> >>
> >> The Foundation could pay that number of workers, especially if it found
> >> imaginative ways to do it.
> >>
> >> For example, it could set up a department that accepts contracts from
> >> individuals and groups who want certain articles to be written or
> >> rewritten. Instead of paying a PR company, those people would pay the
> >> Foundation. The Foundation would maintain a list of excellent editors
> and
> >> would offer the contract to the most appropriate, taking a percentage of
> >> the fee for itself.
> >>
> >> The brief would specify that any article produced must adhere to the
> core
> >> content policies, so there would be no whitewashing, but there would be
> an
> >> effort to be fair. As things stand, unpaid editors have to clean up PR
> >> efforts anyway, so they might as well get paid to produce something
> decent
> >> from the start. It might only take a few ethical companies to sign up
> for
> >> the thing to take off.
> >>
> >> Sarah
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> [1] https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/SummaryEN.htm
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> 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] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Keegan Peterzell
On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 9:51 PM, Dan Andreescu <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> I'm very new to this concept of paid editing.  But from what I understood
> paid editing is allowed, as long as the editors disclose who they are paid
> by on their talk page or in edit summaries.  I understood this to be
> roughly the idea of the Wikipedian in Residence title.  I didn't look this
> up on purpose, because I wanted to point out this might be a common
> existing understanding.  Am I mistaken?  What is the policy?
>
>
​Different wikis have different policies on paid editing, most have no
policy. There ​is no global policy.

--
~Keegan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan

This is my personal email address. Everything sent from this email address
is in a personal capacity.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

GorillaWarfare
On Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 12:24 AM, Keegan Peterzell <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> ​Different wikis have different policies on paid editing, most have no
> policy. There ​is no global policy.
> <[hidden email]>
>

That's not exactly true. All Wikimedia projects are beholden to the Terms
of Use (https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Terms_of_Use) which was
recently amended to add:

*Paid contributions without disclosure*

> These Terms of Use prohibit engaging in deceptive activities, including
> misrepresentation of affiliation, impersonation, and fraud. As part of
> these obligations, you must disclose your employer, client, and affiliation
> with respect to any contribution for which you receive, or expect to
> receive, compensation. You must make that disclosure in at least one of the
> following ways:
> - a statement on your user page,
> - a statement on the talk page accompanying any paid contributions, or
> - a statement in the edit summary accompanying any paid contributions.
> Applicable law, or community and Foundation policies and guidelines, such
> as those addressing conflicts of interest, may further limit paid
> contributions or require more detailed disclosure.
> A Wikimedia Project community may adopt an alternative paid contribution
> disclosure policy. If a Project adopts an alternative disclosure policy,
> you may comply with that policy instead of the requirements in this section
> when contributing to that Project. An alternative paid contribution policy
> will only supersede these requirements if it is approved by the relevant
> Project community and listed in the alternative disclosure policy page.
> For more information, please read our FAQ on disclosure of paid
> contributions.


Many wikis do not have policies that supersede this requirement, and so are
subject to it. That said, the ToU does not specify precisely what happens
when someone is found to be in violation of this rule, which I know we
struggle with on the English Wikipedia.

– Molly (GorillaWarfare)
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Keegan Peterzell
In reply to this post by Keegan Peterzell
On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 11:24 PM, Keegan Peterzell <[hidden email]>
wrote:

>
>
> On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 9:51 PM, Dan Andreescu <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
>> I'm very new to this concept of paid editing.  But from what I understood
>> paid editing is allowed, as long as the editors disclose who they are paid
>> by on their talk page or in edit summaries.  I understood this to be
>> roughly the idea of the Wikipedian in Residence title.  I didn't look this
>> up on purpose, because I wanted to point out this might be a common
>> existing understanding.  Am I mistaken?  What is the policy?
>>
>>
> ​Different wikis have different policies on paid editing, most have no
> policy. There ​is no global policy.
>
>
​I've been poked to clarify:

Terms of Use[0] prohibit undisclosed paid editing. Local projects may have
their own way of interpreting and enforcing this. Local projects can also
opt out of this particular prohibition in the Terms of Use.

0. https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Terms_of_Use

--
~Keegan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan

This is my personal email address. Everything sent from this email address
is in a personal capacity.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Keegan Peterzell
Yeah, so, my ultimate point remains: we're talking about hundreds of
Wikimedia projects and how they interact with paid editors, and not just
how a few handle it. LIke everything, it's complicated beyond local
instances ;)

--
~Keegan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Keegan

This is my personal email address. Everything sent from this email address
is in a personal capacity.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization

Yaroslav M. Blanter
In reply to this post by SarahSV
On 2016-02-25 03:09, SarahSV wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 4:20 PM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
>>

>
> The Foundation could pay that number of workers, especially if it found
> imaginative ways to do it.
>
> For example, it could set up a department that accepts contracts from
> individuals and groups who want certain articles to be written or
> rewritten. Instead of paying a PR company, those people would pay the
> Foundation. The Foundation would maintain a list of excellent editors
> and
> would offer the contract to the most appropriate, taking a percentage
> of
> the fee for itself.
>
>
>
>

I am sure this has been discussed before, but I also think this is a bad
idea. Whereas I can imagine that as an exceptions some editors can be
supported by the Foundation via an engagement grant, it should really
stay an exceptions. The obvious reasons are:

- Different image of the movement, and, as a consequence, less
donations, as Risker already pointed out.
- Possibly POV will be compromised in paid articles.
- Unhealthy situation within the editing community. In the debates with
WMF staff when we disagreed, I always felt awkward, because they were
paid arguing with me, and would do it until they convince me or I give
up, and I was doing this in my free time, and got tired very quickly. I
also had very unpleasant experiences interacting with some chapter
people whose only goal was to keep their position. They did not care
about the quality, efficiency, anything, only about their personal good.
And if somebody defends their personal good, you know, thy usually win,
and the quality loses. Now, imagine there is a content dispute between a
user who is paid (and is afraid to lose the salary) and a user who is
unpaid and have to do the same for free - I am sure a paid user will be
way more persistent.

There should be many other reasons which I am sure have been already
voiced.

Cheers
Yaroslav

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