[Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

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[Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Lila Tretikov
Why we’ve changed


I want to address some of the many questions that are coming up in this
forum. From the general to the very concrete, they all touch on the fact
that many things about the WMF have been changing. We are in the thick of
transformation, and you all have the right to know more about how and why
this is occurring. This is not a statement of strategy, which will come out
of the community consultation next week. This is the ED’s perspective only.


After 15 years since the birth of Wikipedia, the WMF needs to rethink
itself to ensure our editor work expands into the next decade. Recently we
kicked-off some initiatives to this end, including aligning community
support functions, focus on mobile and innovative technology, seeding the
Wikimedia Endowment, re-organizing our internal structure, exploring
partnerships and focusing on the most critical aspects of our mission:
community and technology. We started this transformation, but as we move
forward we are facing a crisis that is rooted in our choice of direction.


The choice in front the WMF is that of our core identity. Our mission can
be served in many ways, but we cannot do them all. We could either fully
focus on building our content and educational programs. Or we can get great
at technology as the force multiplier for our movement. I believe the the
former belongs to our volunteers and affiliates and that the role of the
WMF is in providing global support and coordination of this work. I believe
in -- and the board hired me to -- focus on the latter. To transform our
organization into a high-tech NGO, focused on the needs of our editors and
readers and rapidly moving to update our aged technology to support those
needs. To this end we have made many significant changes. But the challenge
in front of us is hard to underestimate: technology moves faster than any
other field and meeting expectations of editors and readers  will require
undistracted focus.


What changed?


When Jimmy started Wikipedia, the early editors took a century-old
encyclopedia page and allowed anyone to create or edit its content. At the
time when creating knowledge was still limited to the chosen few, openly
collaborating online gave us power to create and update knowledge at a much
faster rate than anyone else. This was our innovation.


As we matured, we encountered two fundamental, existential challenges. One
is of our own doing: driving away those who would otherwise join our
mission through complex policies, confusing user experiences, and a caustic
community culture. The other is external and is emerging from our own value
of freely licensed content: Many companies copy our knowledge into their
own databases and present it inside their interfaces. While this supports
wider dissemination, it also separates our readers from our community.
Wikipedia
is more than the raw content, repurposed by anyone as they like. It is a
platform for knowledge and learning, but if we don't meet the needs of
users, we will lose them and ultimately fail in our mission.


Meanwhile, in the last 15 years revolutionary changes have taken hold. The
rate of knowledge creation around the world is unprecedented and is increasing
exponentially <http://qpmf.com/the-book/welcome-to-hyper-innovation/>. User
interfaces are becoming more adaptive to how users learn. This means we
have a huge opportunity to accelerate human understanding. But to do so
requires some significant change in technology and community interaction.


So let’s begin with technology: Many at the WMF and in our community
believe that we should not be a high-tech organization. I believe we
should. With over half of our staff fully committed to delivering product
and technology, it is already our primary vehicle for impacting our mission
and our community. In fact we constantly see additional technology needs
emerging from our Community department to help amplify theirs and our
community work.


What do we need to do in light of the changes I described above? We need to
focus on increasing productivity of our editors and bringing more readers
to Wikipedia (directly on mobile, and from 3rd party reusers back to our
sites).


When we started, the open knowledge on Wikipedia was a large piece of the
internet. Today, we have an opportunity to be the door into the whole
ecosystem of open knowledge by:



   -

   scaling knowledge (by building smart editing tools that structurally
   connect open sources)
   -

   expanding the entry point to knowledge (by improving our search portal)


There are many ways to alleviate the manual burdens of compiling and
maintaining knowledge currently taken on by our editing community, while
quickly expanding new editing. We made significant strides this year with
our first steps to leverage artificial intelligence
<http://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/11/30/artificial-intelligence-x-ray-specs/>
to remove grunt work from editing. But that is just a start. Connecting
sources through structured data would go much further and allow our editors
to easily choose the best media for their article and for our readers to
recieve content at their depth of understanding or language comprehension.


Wikipedia is the trusted place where people learn. Early indicators show
that if we choose to improve the search function more people will use our
site. We are seeing early results in use of Wikipedia in our A/B testing of
search
<https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/First_Portal_Test.pdf>
, but we have a long way to go. We want people to come directly to our
sites -- and be known as the destination for learning -- so that eventually
we can bring our readers into our editing community. And without community
support none of this will be remotely possible.


Which brings me to the community. Over time the WMF has grown, with an
opportunity of becoming a complementary, mutually empowering partner with
the community. We need each other and we share one focus: humanity.
Reaching and sharing with people across the world is our common goal.


In the past year we managed -- for the first time since 2007 -- to finally
stem the editor decline. But that will not be enough. We need to find ways
to re-open and embrace new members instead of the hazing we conduct at
least in some parts of the site today. We must treat each other with
kindness and respect. Technology is not the main reasons for rampant new
editor attrition. It is how we talk to each other that makes all the
difference.


Without tackling these issues we artificially limit our growth and
scalability. And we will continue to reject those whose ideas are new or
different, the most vulnerable members of our community. In this, the
Gender Gap is the “canary in the coal mine”. Women are the first to leave
contentious and aggressive environments and are less likely to remain when
they encounter it. They are less likely to run in elections because of rude
and aggressive treatment. Yet in editor surveys and in our latest strategy
consultation, Gender Gap has been considered a low priority. I disagree.


Over the past two years I have actively pushed funding to improve
anti-harassment, child protection and safety programs; work in these areas
is ongoing. We are actively exploring some tangible approaches that -- I
hope -- will turn into concrete outcomes
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Harassment_workshop>. In the latest
research this year the number of female editors shown some growth.


What does this mean for the WMF?


In the past 18 months -- and thanks to hard work of the people at the WMF
and our community supporters -- we have made significant structural
changes. We have organized around two core areas: technology and community.
We have made changes with an eye on improving our relationships between the
volunteer community, the chapters and the WMF, including the creation of
structures that should vastly improve the WMF's responsiveness to
volunteers. We began adopting best industry practices in the organization,
such as setting and measuring goals and KPIs. We’ve given managers a lot of
responsibilities and demanded results. We’ve asked for adjustment in
attitude towards work, our responsibilities and professional relationships.
We prioritised impact and performance so that we can provide more value to
our communities and the world.


This has not been easy.


In practice this means I demanded that we set standards for staff
communication with our community to be professional and respectful. It
meant transitioning people, shutting down pet projects, promoting some but
not others, demanding goals and results to get funding. This level of
change is necessary to set up our organization to address the challenges of
the next decade.


All of this means stepping away from our comfort zones to create capacity
for building programs and technologies that will support us in the future.
It is a demanding and difficult task to perform an organizational change at
this scale and speed.


I believe that in order to successfully serve our community and humanity,
the WMF has deliver best-of class technology and professional support for
community. This will ensure we are delivering significant impact to
volunteer editors and opening avenues for new types of contributions. This
requires that we choose the route of technical excellence for the WMF with
support and encouragement from our community partners. Without this
empowerment, the WMF will not succeed.


The world is not standing still. It will not wait for us to finish our
internal battles and struggles. Time is our most precious commodity.


Lila
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Brion Vibber-4
Lila, a few notes.

First, many staff members feel that the accomplishments you claim under
"we" are not attributable to you.

Complaints about lack of strategy and confusing management have come from
all levels of the staff; the implication that people who failed to be
promoted might be behind discontent seems not to hold water.

As to shutting down pet projects to improve focus, it's unclear what
projects you refer to.

Fundamentally we agree that we must improve tech. But the tech side of the
organization, based on my conversations with other employees including
managers, does not seem to have benefited from your tenure -- ops laregely
manages itself, while the other sections get occasionally surprised by a
reorg. We've still not fully recovered from the 2015 reorg and Damon's
appearance and disappearance.

If your contention is that tech supports you as a silent majority, I have
strong doubts that this is the case.

-- brion

On Feb 21, 2016 4:22 PM, "Lila Tretikov" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Why we’ve changed
>
>
> I want to address some of the many questions that are coming up in this
> forum. From the general to the very concrete, they all touch on the fact
> that many things about the WMF have been changing. We are in the thick of
> transformation, and you all have the right to know more about how and why
> this is occurring. This is not a statement of strategy, which will come
out
> of the community consultation next week. This is the ED’s perspective
only.

>
>
> After 15 years since the birth of Wikipedia, the WMF needs to rethink
> itself to ensure our editor work expands into the next decade. Recently we
> kicked-off some initiatives to this end, including aligning community
> support functions, focus on mobile and innovative technology, seeding the
> Wikimedia Endowment, re-organizing our internal structure, exploring
> partnerships and focusing on the most critical aspects of our mission:
> community and technology. We started this transformation, but as we move
> forward we are facing a crisis that is rooted in our choice of direction.
>
>
> The choice in front the WMF is that of our core identity. Our mission can
> be served in many ways, but we cannot do them all. We could either fully
> focus on building our content and educational programs. Or we can get
great
> at technology as the force multiplier for our movement. I believe the the
> former belongs to our volunteers and affiliates and that the role of the
> WMF is in providing global support and coordination of this work. I
believe
> in -- and the board hired me to -- focus on the latter. To transform our
> organization into a high-tech NGO, focused on the needs of our editors and
> readers and rapidly moving to update our aged technology to support those
> needs. To this end we have made many significant changes. But the
challenge

> in front of us is hard to underestimate: technology moves faster than any
> other field and meeting expectations of editors and readers  will require
> undistracted focus.
>
>
> What changed?
>
>
> When Jimmy started Wikipedia, the early editors took a century-old
> encyclopedia page and allowed anyone to create or edit its content. At the
> time when creating knowledge was still limited to the chosen few, openly
> collaborating online gave us power to create and update knowledge at a
much
> faster rate than anyone else. This was our innovation.
>
>
> As we matured, we encountered two fundamental, existential challenges. One
> is of our own doing: driving away those who would otherwise join our
> mission through complex policies, confusing user experiences, and a
caustic
> community culture. The other is external and is emerging from our own
value

> of freely licensed content: Many companies copy our knowledge into their
> own databases and present it inside their interfaces. While this supports
> wider dissemination, it also separates our readers from our community.
> Wikipedia
> is more than the raw content, repurposed by anyone as they like. It is a
> platform for knowledge and learning, but if we don't meet the needs of
> users, we will lose them and ultimately fail in our mission.
>
>
> Meanwhile, in the last 15 years revolutionary changes have taken hold. The
> rate of knowledge creation around the world is unprecedented and is
increasing
> exponentially <http://qpmf.com/the-book/welcome-to-hyper-innovation/>.
User
> interfaces are becoming more adaptive to how users learn. This means we
> have a huge opportunity to accelerate human understanding. But to do so
> requires some significant change in technology and community interaction.
>
>
> So let’s begin with technology: Many at the WMF and in our community
> believe that we should not be a high-tech organization. I believe we
> should. With over half of our staff fully committed to delivering product
> and technology, it is already our primary vehicle for impacting our
mission
> and our community. In fact we constantly see additional technology needs
> emerging from our Community department to help amplify theirs and our
> community work.
>
>
> What do we need to do in light of the changes I described above? We need
to

> focus on increasing productivity of our editors and bringing more readers
> to Wikipedia (directly on mobile, and from 3rd party reusers back to our
> sites).
>
>
> When we started, the open knowledge on Wikipedia was a large piece of the
> internet. Today, we have an opportunity to be the door into the whole
> ecosystem of open knowledge by:
>
>
>
>    -
>
>    scaling knowledge (by building smart editing tools that structurally
>    connect open sources)
>    -
>
>    expanding the entry point to knowledge (by improving our search portal)
>
>
> There are many ways to alleviate the manual burdens of compiling and
> maintaining knowledge currently taken on by our editing community, while
> quickly expanding new editing. We made significant strides this year with
> our first steps to leverage artificial intelligence
> <http://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/11/30/artificial-intelligence-x-ray-specs/
>
> to remove grunt work from editing. But that is just a start. Connecting
> sources through structured data would go much further and allow our
editors
> to easily choose the best media for their article and for our readers to
> recieve content at their depth of understanding or language comprehension.
>
>
> Wikipedia is the trusted place where people learn. Early indicators show
> that if we choose to improve the search function more people will use our
> site. We are seeing early results in use of Wikipedia in our A/B testing
of
> search
> <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/First_Portal_Test.pdf
>
> , but we have a long way to go. We want people to come directly to our
> sites -- and be known as the destination for learning -- so that
eventually

> we can bring our readers into our editing community. And without community
> support none of this will be remotely possible.
>
>
> Which brings me to the community. Over time the WMF has grown, with an
> opportunity of becoming a complementary, mutually empowering partner with
> the community. We need each other and we share one focus: humanity.
> Reaching and sharing with people across the world is our common goal.
>
>
> In the past year we managed -- for the first time since 2007 -- to finally
> stem the editor decline. But that will not be enough. We need to find ways
> to re-open and embrace new members instead of the hazing we conduct at
> least in some parts of the site today. We must treat each other with
> kindness and respect. Technology is not the main reasons for rampant new
> editor attrition. It is how we talk to each other that makes all the
> difference.
>
>
> Without tackling these issues we artificially limit our growth and
> scalability. And we will continue to reject those whose ideas are new or
> different, the most vulnerable members of our community. In this, the
> Gender Gap is the “canary in the coal mine”. Women are the first to leave
> contentious and aggressive environments and are less likely to remain when
> they encounter it. They are less likely to run in elections because of
rude

> and aggressive treatment. Yet in editor surveys and in our latest strategy
> consultation, Gender Gap has been considered a low priority. I disagree.
>
>
> Over the past two years I have actively pushed funding to improve
> anti-harassment, child protection and safety programs; work in these areas
> is ongoing. We are actively exploring some tangible approaches that -- I
> hope -- will turn into concrete outcomes
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Harassment_workshop>. In the latest
> research this year the number of female editors shown some growth.
>
>
> What does this mean for the WMF?
>
>
> In the past 18 months -- and thanks to hard work of the people at the WMF
> and our community supporters -- we have made significant structural
> changes. We have organized around two core areas: technology and
community.
> We have made changes with an eye on improving our relationships between
the
> volunteer community, the chapters and the WMF, including the creation of
> structures that should vastly improve the WMF's responsiveness to
> volunteers. We began adopting best industry practices in the organization,
> such as setting and measuring goals and KPIs. We’ve given managers a lot
of
> responsibilities and demanded results. We’ve asked for adjustment in
> attitude towards work, our responsibilities and professional
relationships.

> We prioritised impact and performance so that we can provide more value to
> our communities and the world.
>
>
> This has not been easy.
>
>
> In practice this means I demanded that we set standards for staff
> communication with our community to be professional and respectful. It
> meant transitioning people, shutting down pet projects, promoting some but
> not others, demanding goals and results to get funding. This level of
> change is necessary to set up our organization to address the challenges
of
> the next decade.
>
>
> All of this means stepping away from our comfort zones to create capacity
> for building programs and technologies that will support us in the future.
> It is a demanding and difficult task to perform an organizational change
at

> this scale and speed.
>
>
> I believe that in order to successfully serve our community and humanity,
> the WMF has deliver best-of class technology and professional support for
> community. This will ensure we are delivering significant impact to
> volunteer editors and opening avenues for new types of contributions. This
> requires that we choose the route of technical excellence for the WMF with
> support and encouragement from our community partners. Without this
> empowerment, the WMF will not succeed.
>
>
> The world is not standing still. It will not wait for us to finish our
> internal battles and struggles. Time is our most precious commodity.
>
>
> Lila
> _______________________________________________
> 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] Why we changed

Kevin Smith
On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 5:41 PM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:

> First, many staff members feel that the accomplishments you claim under
> "we" are not attributable to you.
>

I assumed that's why she used the word "we". I took it that she was taking
some credit for pushing some of the initiatives, but not that she was
taking credit for all of the results.


> Complaints about lack of strategy and confusing management have come from
> all levels of the staff; the implication that people who failed to be
> promoted might be behind discontent seems not to hold water.
>

I didn't see any such implication when I read it. If it is/was implied, I
would agree with your disagreement.

As to shutting down pet projects to improve focus, it's unclear what
> projects you refer to.
>

Agreed.


> Fundamentally we agree that we must improve tech. But the tech side of the
> organization, based on my conversations with other employees including
> managers, does not seem to have benefited from your tenure -- ops laregely
> manages itself, while the other sections get occasionally surprised by a
> reorg. We've still not fully recovered from the 2015 reorg and Damon's
> appearance and disappearance.
>

The process that led to the 2015 reorg was horrible. And the current
structure is far from perfect. But I think the structure of the tech
departments of the WMF after the re-org is, overall, much more effective
than it was before the re-org. I say that having only experienced the old
structure for a couple months, so my perspective is limited.

The tech parts of the org seem to have more of a sense of accountability
now, with more of a focus on outcomes, and costs, than before. Again, it's
far from perfect, but those seem like healthy improvements, as part of an
organization maturing. I know a lot of techies will disagree (strongly!),
as they prefer more of a "hacker" culture, and they feel we are becoming
too "corporate". I would like to see us settle in at a happy medium,
avoiding either extreme.

I think those are a couple ways in which the tech org *has* benefited from
Lila's tenure. It's very possible that those benefits are overshadowed by
other problems. But I think anyone who sees absolutely zero improvements
either has clouded judgment, or isn't paying attention. I would prefer to
judge each action and decision (by anyone) on its own merits, attempting to
avoid the "halo effect/horns effect"[1].


>
> If your contention is that tech supports you as a silent majority, I have
> strong doubts that this is the case.
>

I didn't see any indication that this was being asserted. If it is/was
being asserted, I would agree with your doubts.

Recognizing that change *is* painful and difficult is valuable. I think
people generally tend to underestimate that pain, and I think that has
happened here. It's not clear how much of the pain we are experiencing is
due to "change", and how much is due to other causes. I'm pretty sure
change itself is a non-zero (and underestimated) component, but obviously
it doesn't account for anywhere near 100% either.

For me, this essay as a whole is a welcome (and probably long overdue)
expression of Lila's vision for where she wants to take the WMF, and why.
Perhaps I'm naive, but I am assuming good faith here. Understanding Lila's
tech focus is important, since that has been a point of contention with
many people. Whether that vision is optimal for the org is debatable, of
course.

Kevin


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Andreas Kolbe-2
In reply to this post by Lila Tretikov
On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 12:22 AM, Lila Tretikov <[hidden email]> wrote:

> When we started, the open knowledge on Wikipedia was a large piece of the
> internet. Today, we have an opportunity to be the door into the whole
> ecosystem of open knowledge by:
>
>
>    - scaling knowledge (by building smart editing tools that structurally
>    connect open sources)
>    - expanding the entry point to knowledge (by improving our search
> portal)
>


Lila,

Could you please explain the reasoning behind the focus on "open knowledge"
and "open sources" in what you wrote above?

Just to avoid any misunderstanding -- I am of course well aware that
Wikipedia itself is (at its best) "open knowledge". This, after all, is
what volunteers are here to build – a body of open knowledge.

But I would contend that if we are talking about Wikipedia aspiring to
be a *door
*to something, then that aspiration is to be the door to *all knowledge*,
isn't it? Not the door to *open knowledge*?

This is reflected in the fundamental Wikimedia vision, which is -- to this
day -- for people to be able to freely share in "the sum of all knowledge"
-- not "the sum of all *open* knowledge" (i.e. knowledge that is *already*
 open).

In line with this vision, Wikipedia for example cites all manner of sources
today – from paywalled journals and books costing hundreds of dollars to
CC-licensed and public-domain websites.

Indeed, in terms of creating open knowledge, content based on the most
exclusive, most expensive sources is arguably the most valuable content
Wikimedia projects contain: it liberates knowledge that would otherwise be
inaccessible to those without ample enough means -- or indeed any means --
to pay.

Beyond that, there are many mainstream sources of knowledge that are "All
rights reserved", i.e. not open, yet can still be consulted by anyone with
an Internet connection, without payment.

We all consult such sources every day. They include publications like the
Guardian newspaper (whose publisher's board Jimmy Wales joined recently);
the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; CNN; and thousands of others.
These are high-quality knowledge sources that are "All rights reserved" --
not open -- yet freely accessible.

So, if you speak of structurally connecting *open* sources, as a basis for
smart editing tools, you seem to be saying that such copyrighted yet openly
accessible sources, as well as all genuinely paywalled sources, should be
excluded from these efforts.

If that's correct, and I am not misunderstanding what you mean to say here
(please correct me if I do!), how do you square it with the Wikimedia
vision?

Andreas
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Virgilio A. P. Machado
In reply to this post by Lila Tretikov
Lila,

Congratulations for having such a clear and wise understanding of the
present and future of Wikimedia. Your views collide with those of many who
from positions of power both at the WMF and the communities have had a
chance to impose them on everybody else, squashing, blocking and deleting
dissent. Your task will not be easy, but you are doing the right thing.

With respect to the Gender Gap, I believe there's room for improvement
recognizing that there's more than men and women. The contributions of the
LBGT genders are not adequately recognized.

I'm also very sorry to have to state that although you have the freedom to
share you views using this list, and many that nurtured for you nothing
else but hate and contempt, I have no such freedom. Following a dubious
process, that has been described elsewhere and of which, conveniently, only
part is saved in the list archives, this comment will only reach the
members of this list if a group of censors (kindly called "moderators")
approve it for publication.

This message is sent at the risk of having myself removed form this list,
as it has already happened from others, for reasons that shame any human
being worthy of that name. To have my support might also not do any good
for you. I fear that it will bring more hate to bear on you. That is the
fate of the human condition, to be its own worst enemy.

I wish you, the Foundation and Wikimedia all the best, and a bright and
shining future,

Virgilio A. P. Machado
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Nathan Awrich
Lila's statement of her vision for WMF is compelling and attractive. If
properly and faithfully executed, it seems like it would make just the
right adjustments to the culture of the WMF and its interaction with and
support of the Wikimedia community. I have long been concerned that a
number of positions at the WMF amounted to sinecures, or at least returned
little value to the projects in exchange for resources expended. It seems
logical to me that such a radical change, even well enacted, would prompt
discontent and departures from the organization.

That said, I'm not convinced that this paradigm shift has been handled well
by the WMF executive team and the board. First and foremost, this statement
from Lila is the best explanation given anywhere that I'm aware of
describing the shift within the WMF. That is not good. Second, it appears
that the work has not been done to get key members of the paid team and
volunteers on board with this process. This is another very substantial
failure.

For anyone who believes that Lila's vision statement is right for the
future of the WMF, these unforced errors should cause serious anguish -
needed changes might be lost or avoided because incompetent execution of
prior initiatives left everyone deeply change-averse.
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi,
Where have you been when the search was on for a new director for the
WIkimedia Foundation? It was the vision that Lila refers to that made her
the chosen candidate. The fact that people object, frustrate and sometimes
sabotage is an unfortunate micro level consequence of what is happening.

Yes, we as a community are extremely self serving, we care for our own
hobby horses and we do not consider the impact of this narrow mindedness.
It makes what Lila stand for one enemy, others who have differing
objectives are at best ignored because arguments do not really matter, are
ignored or are refuted by quoting the same old old.
Thanks,
      GerardM

On 22 February 2016 at 05:38, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Lila's statement of her vision for WMF is compelling and attractive. If
> properly and faithfully executed, it seems like it would make just the
> right adjustments to the culture of the WMF and its interaction with and
> support of the Wikimedia community. I have long been concerned that a
> number of positions at the WMF amounted to sinecures, or at least returned
> little value to the projects in exchange for resources expended. It seems
> logical to me that such a radical change, even well enacted, would prompt
> discontent and departures from the organization.
>
> That said, I'm not convinced that this paradigm shift has been handled well
> by the WMF executive team and the board. First and foremost, this statement
> from Lila is the best explanation given anywhere that I'm aware of
> describing the shift within the WMF. That is not good. Second, it appears
> that the work has not been done to get key members of the paid team and
> volunteers on board with this process. This is another very substantial
> failure.
>
> For anyone who believes that Lila's vision statement is right for the
> future of the WMF, these unforced errors should cause serious anguish -
> needed changes might be lost or avoided because incompetent execution of
> prior initiatives left everyone deeply change-averse.
> _______________________________________________
> 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] Why we changed

Anna Stillwell
I'm with Vibber. He has seen things clearly.


On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 8:56 PM, Gerard Meijssen <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> Hoi,
> Where have you been when the search was on for a new director for the
> WIkimedia Foundation? It was the vision that Lila refers to that made her
> the chosen candidate. The fact that people object, frustrate and sometimes
> sabotage is an unfortunate micro level consequence of what is happening.
>
> Yes, we as a community are extremely self serving, we care for our own
> hobby horses and we do not consider the impact of this narrow mindedness.
> It makes what Lila stand for one enemy, others who have differing
> objectives are at best ignored because arguments do not really matter, are
> ignored or are refuted by quoting the same old old.
> Thanks,
>       GerardM
>
> On 22 February 2016 at 05:38, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Lila's statement of her vision for WMF is compelling and attractive. If
> > properly and faithfully executed, it seems like it would make just the
> > right adjustments to the culture of the WMF and its interaction with and
> > support of the Wikimedia community. I have long been concerned that a
> > number of positions at the WMF amounted to sinecures, or at least
> returned
> > little value to the projects in exchange for resources expended. It seems
> > logical to me that such a radical change, even well enacted, would prompt
> > discontent and departures from the organization.
> >
> > That said, I'm not convinced that this paradigm shift has been handled
> well
> > by the WMF executive team and the board. First and foremost, this
> statement
> > from Lila is the best explanation given anywhere that I'm aware of
> > describing the shift within the WMF. That is not good. Second, it appears
> > that the work has not been done to get key members of the paid team and
> > volunteers on board with this process. This is another very substantial
> > failure.
> >
> > For anyone who believes that Lila's vision statement is right for the
> > future of the WMF, these unforced errors should cause serious anguish -
> > needed changes might be lost or avoided because incompetent execution of
> > prior initiatives left everyone deeply change-averse.
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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>
> >
> _______________________________________________
> 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>
>



--
Anna Stillwell
Major Gifts Officer
Wikimedia Foundation
415.806.1536
*www.wikimediafoundation.org <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>*
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Nathan Awrich
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 11:56 PM, Gerard Meijssen <[hidden email]
> wrote:

> Hoi,
> Where have you been when the search was on for a new director for the
> WIkimedia Foundation? It was the vision that Lila refers to that made her
> the chosen candidate. The fact that people object, frustrate and sometimes
> sabotage is an unfortunate micro level consequence of what is happening.
>

Most of what I read at that time, and since, has revolved around some
simplistic version of "make the WMF a technology / high tech organization."
For that reason the OP here struck me as the best and most complete
statement of this vision that I have read. If you are aware of a better one
that I have missed (completely possible, even likely!), could you please
provide a link?

Thanks,
Nathan
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Oliver Keyes-5
In reply to this post by Anna Stillwell
I'm with Vibber too. I work in Engineering. This summary does not
represent my views, or the views of anyone I know.

On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 12:04 AM, Anna Stillwell
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> I'm with Vibber. He has seen things clearly.
>
>
> On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 8:56 PM, Gerard Meijssen <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
>> Hoi,
>> Where have you been when the search was on for a new director for the
>> WIkimedia Foundation? It was the vision that Lila refers to that made her
>> the chosen candidate. The fact that people object, frustrate and sometimes
>> sabotage is an unfortunate micro level consequence of what is happening.
>>
>> Yes, we as a community are extremely self serving, we care for our own
>> hobby horses and we do not consider the impact of this narrow mindedness.
>> It makes what Lila stand for one enemy, others who have differing
>> objectives are at best ignored because arguments do not really matter, are
>> ignored or are refuted by quoting the same old old.
>> Thanks,
>>       GerardM
>>
>> On 22 February 2016 at 05:38, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> > Lila's statement of her vision for WMF is compelling and attractive. If
>> > properly and faithfully executed, it seems like it would make just the
>> > right adjustments to the culture of the WMF and its interaction with and
>> > support of the Wikimedia community. I have long been concerned that a
>> > number of positions at the WMF amounted to sinecures, or at least
>> returned
>> > little value to the projects in exchange for resources expended. It seems
>> > logical to me that such a radical change, even well enacted, would prompt
>> > discontent and departures from the organization.
>> >
>> > That said, I'm not convinced that this paradigm shift has been handled
>> well
>> > by the WMF executive team and the board. First and foremost, this
>> statement
>> > from Lila is the best explanation given anywhere that I'm aware of
>> > describing the shift within the WMF. That is not good. Second, it appears
>> > that the work has not been done to get key members of the paid team and
>> > volunteers on board with this process. This is another very substantial
>> > failure.
>> >
>> > For anyone who believes that Lila's vision statement is right for the
>> > future of the WMF, these unforced errors should cause serious anguish -
>> > needed changes might be lost or avoided because incompetent execution of
>> > prior initiatives left everyone deeply change-averse.
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > 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>
>> >
>> _______________________________________________
>> 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>
>>
>
>
>
> --
> Anna Stillwell
> Major Gifts Officer
> Wikimedia Foundation
> 415.806.1536
> *www.wikimediafoundation.org <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>*
> _______________________________________________
> 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] Why we changed

Gerard Meijssen-3
In reply to this post by Anna Stillwell
Hoi,

<grin> It is not that I am not with Brion. </grin> The problem is multi
faceted and I do not pretend that I know personell and how Lila is
appreciated. I am talking about community and about perceptions and maybe a
bit of the sociology of all this.

Being for or against is not the point, hearing arguments where they are
made is at issue. If all we can do is state positions and let the dice
role, a lot more people will be hurt than necessary.
Thanks,
      GerardM

On 22 February 2016 at 06:04, Anna Stillwell <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> I'm with Vibber. He has seen things clearly.
>
>
> On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 8:56 PM, Gerard Meijssen <
> [hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > Hoi,
> > Where have you been when the search was on for a new director for the
> > WIkimedia Foundation? It was the vision that Lila refers to that made her
> > the chosen candidate. The fact that people object, frustrate and
> sometimes
> > sabotage is an unfortunate micro level consequence of what is happening.
> >
> > Yes, we as a community are extremely self serving, we care for our own
> > hobby horses and we do not consider the impact of this narrow mindedness.
> > It makes what Lila stand for one enemy, others who have differing
> > objectives are at best ignored because arguments do not really matter,
> are
> > ignored or are refuted by quoting the same old old.
> > Thanks,
> >       GerardM
> >
> > On 22 February 2016 at 05:38, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > Lila's statement of her vision for WMF is compelling and attractive. If
> > > properly and faithfully executed, it seems like it would make just the
> > > right adjustments to the culture of the WMF and its interaction with
> and
> > > support of the Wikimedia community. I have long been concerned that a
> > > number of positions at the WMF amounted to sinecures, or at least
> > returned
> > > little value to the projects in exchange for resources expended. It
> seems
> > > logical to me that such a radical change, even well enacted, would
> prompt
> > > discontent and departures from the organization.
> > >
> > > That said, I'm not convinced that this paradigm shift has been handled
> > well
> > > by the WMF executive team and the board. First and foremost, this
> > statement
> > > from Lila is the best explanation given anywhere that I'm aware of
> > > describing the shift within the WMF. That is not good. Second, it
> appears
> > > that the work has not been done to get key members of the paid team and
> > > volunteers on board with this process. This is another very substantial
> > > failure.
> > >
> > > For anyone who believes that Lila's vision statement is right for the
> > > future of the WMF, these unforced errors should cause serious anguish -
> > > needed changes might be lost or avoided because incompetent execution
> of
> > > prior initiatives left everyone deeply change-averse.
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > 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>
> > >
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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>
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Anna Stillwell
> Major Gifts Officer
> Wikimedia Foundation
> 415.806.1536
> *www.wikimediafoundation.org <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>*
> _______________________________________________
> 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] Why we changed

Asaf Bartov-2
Please consider, Gerard: Maybe it is time you stopped explaining to us all
what is and isn't the point.

   A.

On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 9:26 PM, Gerard Meijssen <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> Hoi,
>
> <grin> It is not that I am not with Brion. </grin> The problem is multi
> faceted and I do not pretend that I know personell and how Lila is
> appreciated. I am talking about community and about perceptions and maybe a
> bit of the sociology of all this.
>
> Being for or against is not the point, hearing arguments where they are
> made is at issue. If all we can do is state positions and let the dice
> role, a lot more people will be hurt than necessary.
> Thanks,
>       GerardM
>
> On 22 February 2016 at 06:04, Anna Stillwell <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > I'm with Vibber. He has seen things clearly.
> >
> >
> > On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 8:56 PM, Gerard Meijssen <
> > [hidden email]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Hoi,
> > > Where have you been when the search was on for a new director for the
> > > WIkimedia Foundation? It was the vision that Lila refers to that made
> her
> > > the chosen candidate. The fact that people object, frustrate and
> > sometimes
> > > sabotage is an unfortunate micro level consequence of what is
> happening.
> > >
> > > Yes, we as a community are extremely self serving, we care for our own
> > > hobby horses and we do not consider the impact of this narrow
> mindedness.
> > > It makes what Lila stand for one enemy, others who have differing
> > > objectives are at best ignored because arguments do not really matter,
> > are
> > > ignored or are refuted by quoting the same old old.
> > > Thanks,
> > >       GerardM
> > >
> > > On 22 February 2016 at 05:38, Nathan <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > >
> > > > Lila's statement of her vision for WMF is compelling and attractive.
> If
> > > > properly and faithfully executed, it seems like it would make just
> the
> > > > right adjustments to the culture of the WMF and its interaction with
> > and
> > > > support of the Wikimedia community. I have long been concerned that a
> > > > number of positions at the WMF amounted to sinecures, or at least
> > > returned
> > > > little value to the projects in exchange for resources expended. It
> > seems
> > > > logical to me that such a radical change, even well enacted, would
> > prompt
> > > > discontent and departures from the organization.
> > > >
> > > > That said, I'm not convinced that this paradigm shift has been
> handled
> > > well
> > > > by the WMF executive team and the board. First and foremost, this
> > > statement
> > > > from Lila is the best explanation given anywhere that I'm aware of
> > > > describing the shift within the WMF. That is not good. Second, it
> > appears
> > > > that the work has not been done to get key members of the paid team
> and
> > > > volunteers on board with this process. This is another very
> substantial
> > > > failure.
> > > >
> > > > For anyone who believes that Lila's vision statement is right for the
> > > > future of the WMF, these unforced errors should cause serious
> anguish -
> > > > needed changes might be lost or avoided because incompetent execution
> > of
> > > > prior initiatives left everyone deeply change-averse.
> > > > _______________________________________________
> > > > 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>
> > > >
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > 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>
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > Anna Stillwell
> > Major Gifts Officer
> > Wikimedia Foundation
> > 415.806.1536
> > *www.wikimediafoundation.org <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>*
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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>
> >
> _______________________________________________
> 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>
>



--
    Asaf Bartov
    Wikimedia Foundation <http://www.wikimediafoundation.org>

Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the
sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
https://donate.wikimedia.org
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

rupert THURNER-2
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
brion,

there is 10'000 km between you and me so i only read mails on this
list. would you mind detailing what you expect from your CEO to
trigger "she benefits me"?

best,
rupert


On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 2:41 AM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Lila, a few notes.
>
> First, many staff members feel that the accomplishments you claim under
> "we" are not attributable to you.
>
> Complaints about lack of strategy and confusing management have come from
> all levels of the staff; the implication that people who failed to be
> promoted might be behind discontent seems not to hold water.
>
> As to shutting down pet projects to improve focus, it's unclear what
> projects you refer to.
>
> Fundamentally we agree that we must improve tech. But the tech side of the
> organization, based on my conversations with other employees including
> managers, does not seem to have benefited from your tenure -- ops laregely
> manages itself, while the other sections get occasionally surprised by a
> reorg. We've still not fully recovered from the 2015 reorg and Damon's
> appearance and disappearance.
>
> If your contention is that tech supports you as a silent majority, I have
> strong doubts that this is the case.
>
> -- brion
>
> On Feb 21, 2016 4:22 PM, "Lila Tretikov" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> Why we’ve changed
>>
>>
>> I want to address some of the many questions that are coming up in this
>> forum. From the general to the very concrete, they all touch on the fact
>> that many things about the WMF have been changing. We are in the thick of
>> transformation, and you all have the right to know more about how and why
>> this is occurring. This is not a statement of strategy, which will come
> out
>> of the community consultation next week. This is the ED’s perspective
> only.
>>
>>
>> After 15 years since the birth of Wikipedia, the WMF needs to rethink
>> itself to ensure our editor work expands into the next decade. Recently we
>> kicked-off some initiatives to this end, including aligning community
>> support functions, focus on mobile and innovative technology, seeding the
>> Wikimedia Endowment, re-organizing our internal structure, exploring
>> partnerships and focusing on the most critical aspects of our mission:
>> community and technology. We started this transformation, but as we move
>> forward we are facing a crisis that is rooted in our choice of direction.
>>
>>
>> The choice in front the WMF is that of our core identity. Our mission can
>> be served in many ways, but we cannot do them all. We could either fully
>> focus on building our content and educational programs. Or we can get
> great
>> at technology as the force multiplier for our movement. I believe the the
>> former belongs to our volunteers and affiliates and that the role of the
>> WMF is in providing global support and coordination of this work. I
> believe
>> in -- and the board hired me to -- focus on the latter. To transform our
>> organization into a high-tech NGO, focused on the needs of our editors and
>> readers and rapidly moving to update our aged technology to support those
>> needs. To this end we have made many significant changes. But the
> challenge
>> in front of us is hard to underestimate: technology moves faster than any
>> other field and meeting expectations of editors and readers  will require
>> undistracted focus.
>>
>>
>> What changed?
>>
>>
>> When Jimmy started Wikipedia, the early editors took a century-old
>> encyclopedia page and allowed anyone to create or edit its content. At the
>> time when creating knowledge was still limited to the chosen few, openly
>> collaborating online gave us power to create and update knowledge at a
> much
>> faster rate than anyone else. This was our innovation.
>>
>>
>> As we matured, we encountered two fundamental, existential challenges. One
>> is of our own doing: driving away those who would otherwise join our
>> mission through complex policies, confusing user experiences, and a
> caustic
>> community culture. The other is external and is emerging from our own
> value
>> of freely licensed content: Many companies copy our knowledge into their
>> own databases and present it inside their interfaces. While this supports
>> wider dissemination, it also separates our readers from our community.
>> Wikipedia
>> is more than the raw content, repurposed by anyone as they like. It is a
>> platform for knowledge and learning, but if we don't meet the needs of
>> users, we will lose them and ultimately fail in our mission.
>>
>>
>> Meanwhile, in the last 15 years revolutionary changes have taken hold. The
>> rate of knowledge creation around the world is unprecedented and is
> increasing
>> exponentially <http://qpmf.com/the-book/welcome-to-hyper-innovation/>.
> User
>> interfaces are becoming more adaptive to how users learn. This means we
>> have a huge opportunity to accelerate human understanding. But to do so
>> requires some significant change in technology and community interaction.
>>
>>
>> So let’s begin with technology: Many at the WMF and in our community
>> believe that we should not be a high-tech organization. I believe we
>> should. With over half of our staff fully committed to delivering product
>> and technology, it is already our primary vehicle for impacting our
> mission
>> and our community. In fact we constantly see additional technology needs
>> emerging from our Community department to help amplify theirs and our
>> community work.
>>
>>
>> What do we need to do in light of the changes I described above? We need
> to
>> focus on increasing productivity of our editors and bringing more readers
>> to Wikipedia (directly on mobile, and from 3rd party reusers back to our
>> sites).
>>
>>
>> When we started, the open knowledge on Wikipedia was a large piece of the
>> internet. Today, we have an opportunity to be the door into the whole
>> ecosystem of open knowledge by:
>>
>>
>>
>>    -
>>
>>    scaling knowledge (by building smart editing tools that structurally
>>    connect open sources)
>>    -
>>
>>    expanding the entry point to knowledge (by improving our search portal)
>>
>>
>> There are many ways to alleviate the manual burdens of compiling and
>> maintaining knowledge currently taken on by our editing community, while
>> quickly expanding new editing. We made significant strides this year with
>> our first steps to leverage artificial intelligence
>> <http://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/11/30/artificial-intelligence-x-ray-specs/
>>
>> to remove grunt work from editing. But that is just a start. Connecting
>> sources through structured data would go much further and allow our
> editors
>> to easily choose the best media for their article and for our readers to
>> recieve content at their depth of understanding or language comprehension.
>>
>>
>> Wikipedia is the trusted place where people learn. Early indicators show
>> that if we choose to improve the search function more people will use our
>> site. We are seeing early results in use of Wikipedia in our A/B testing
> of
>> search
>> <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/First_Portal_Test.pdf
>>
>> , but we have a long way to go. We want people to come directly to our
>> sites -- and be known as the destination for learning -- so that
> eventually
>> we can bring our readers into our editing community. And without community
>> support none of this will be remotely possible.
>>
>>
>> Which brings me to the community. Over time the WMF has grown, with an
>> opportunity of becoming a complementary, mutually empowering partner with
>> the community. We need each other and we share one focus: humanity.
>> Reaching and sharing with people across the world is our common goal.
>>
>>
>> In the past year we managed -- for the first time since 2007 -- to finally
>> stem the editor decline. But that will not be enough. We need to find ways
>> to re-open and embrace new members instead of the hazing we conduct at
>> least in some parts of the site today. We must treat each other with
>> kindness and respect. Technology is not the main reasons for rampant new
>> editor attrition. It is how we talk to each other that makes all the
>> difference.
>>
>>
>> Without tackling these issues we artificially limit our growth and
>> scalability. And we will continue to reject those whose ideas are new or
>> different, the most vulnerable members of our community. In this, the
>> Gender Gap is the “canary in the coal mine”. Women are the first to leave
>> contentious and aggressive environments and are less likely to remain when
>> they encounter it. They are less likely to run in elections because of
> rude
>> and aggressive treatment. Yet in editor surveys and in our latest strategy
>> consultation, Gender Gap has been considered a low priority. I disagree.
>>
>>
>> Over the past two years I have actively pushed funding to improve
>> anti-harassment, child protection and safety programs; work in these areas
>> is ongoing. We are actively exploring some tangible approaches that -- I
>> hope -- will turn into concrete outcomes
>> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Harassment_workshop>. In the latest
>> research this year the number of female editors shown some growth.
>>
>>
>> What does this mean for the WMF?
>>
>>
>> In the past 18 months -- and thanks to hard work of the people at the WMF
>> and our community supporters -- we have made significant structural
>> changes. We have organized around two core areas: technology and
> community.
>> We have made changes with an eye on improving our relationships between
> the
>> volunteer community, the chapters and the WMF, including the creation of
>> structures that should vastly improve the WMF's responsiveness to
>> volunteers. We began adopting best industry practices in the organization,
>> such as setting and measuring goals and KPIs. We’ve given managers a lot
> of
>> responsibilities and demanded results. We’ve asked for adjustment in
>> attitude towards work, our responsibilities and professional
> relationships.
>> We prioritised impact and performance so that we can provide more value to
>> our communities and the world.
>>
>>
>> This has not been easy.
>>
>>
>> In practice this means I demanded that we set standards for staff
>> communication with our community to be professional and respectful. It
>> meant transitioning people, shutting down pet projects, promoting some but
>> not others, demanding goals and results to get funding. This level of
>> change is necessary to set up our organization to address the challenges
> of
>> the next decade.
>>
>>
>> All of this means stepping away from our comfort zones to create capacity
>> for building programs and technologies that will support us in the future.
>> It is a demanding and difficult task to perform an organizational change
> at
>> this scale and speed.
>>
>>
>> I believe that in order to successfully serve our community and humanity,
>> the WMF has deliver best-of class technology and professional support for
>> community. This will ensure we are delivering significant impact to
>> volunteer editors and opening avenues for new types of contributions. This
>> requires that we choose the route of technical excellence for the WMF with
>> support and encouragement from our community partners. Without this
>> empowerment, the WMF will not succeed.
>>
>>
>> The world is not standing still. It will not wait for us to finish our
>> internal battles and struggles. Time is our most precious commodity.
>>
>>
>> Lila
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Giuseppe Lavagetto
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 2:41 AM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> If your contention is that tech supports you as a silent majority, I have
> strong doubts that this is the case.

I think the silent majority of the WMF employees, tech or not,
expressed their opinion quite clearly with the employee engagement
survey.

[goes back to lurking]

Giuseppe
--
Giuseppe Lavagetto
Senior Technical operations engineer.

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Erik Moeller-3
In reply to this post by Lila Tretikov
Hi Lila,

Thanks for the message. I won't go into this and the other aspects of
the current situation in detail -- I think this is an important
conversation primarily with current staff and active community members
--, but I'll respond to a couple points that I think are important,
and for which I can provide some historical perspective.

> In the past year we managed -- for the first time since 2007 -- to finally
> stem the editor decline.

This is a pretty powerful statement! As many folks know, "stemming the
editor decline" was long a top organizational priority, due to
research that showed an increasing tendency for new editors to
encounter barriers, such as the Editor Trends Study, summarized here:

https://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Editor_Trends_Study

Many will remember the graph illustrating this study, which
specifically underscores that new editors' 1-year retention decreasing
dramatically during Wikipedia's most rapid growth, and remained low
since then.

https://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Enwp_retention_vs_active_editors.png

As a consequence, an important number to pay attention to when
characterizing the editor decline is the number of new editors who
successfully join the project. Has that number increased or
stabilized?

It has not, as far as I can tell:
https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaZZ.htm

Note in interpreting all data that January is a seasonal recovery
month in editor statistics.

One number to look at here is "New editors", which is the number of
editors who have crossed the threshold of 10 edits in a given month.
For all Wikipedias combined, this number has been in the 12000-13000s
for the last 6 months. Near as I can tell, the last time it has
hovered around or below those levels for this long was a decade ago,
in December 2005. The more modern metric of "new editor activation"
(which does not seem to have the same level of data-completeness)
appears to show similar troubling signs:

https://vital-signs.wmflabs.org/#projects=all,ruwiki,itwiki,dewiki,frwiki,enwiki,eswiki,jawiki/metrics=RollingNewActiveEditor

Another key metric we paid attention to is the "Active Editors"
number, which has stagnated for a long time; it appears to continue to
do so with no recovery. The most complete visualization I was able to
find is still the one we created years ago, here:

https://reportcard.wmflabs.org/graphs/active_editors

Finally, there's the measure of "very active editors". These are folks
who make 100 edits/month, and one could also call this the "core
community". It's a measure less affected by new user barriers, and
more by the effectiveness of existing editing/curation tools. This is
one metric which does indeed show a positive trend, as was noted here:

https://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/09/25/wikipedia-editor-numbers/

This graph focuses on English Wikipedia; this table contains the
numbers for all languages combined, in the "Very active editors"
column:

https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaZZ.htm

The numbers for "very active editors" appear to have stabilized at a
slightly higher level than previously. I can't find any firm
conclusion on what has caused this in Wikimedia's public
communications, but the HHVM rollout, long-planned and implemented in
December 2014 under Ori Livneh's leadership seems like a plausible
hypothesis:

https://blog.wikimedia.org/2014/12/29/how-we-made-editing-wikipedia-twice-as-fast/

It seems reasonable to assume that very active editors would most
benefit from performance improvements.

One very positive trend is the Content Translation tool, and its
impact on new article creation, especially in combination with
targeted calls to action, as detailed here:

https://cs.stanford.edu/people/jure/pubs/growing-www16.pdf

But overall, it seems premature of speaking of "stemming the decline",
unless I'm missing something (entirely possible). I don't mean to be
negative about it -- I do think it's a super-important problem, and
hence important to be clear and precise about where we are in
addressing it.

> In practice this means I demanded that we set standards for staff
> communication with our community to be professional and respectful. It
> meant transitioning people, shutting down pet projects

Like Brion, I'm also curious what this ("pet projects") refers to.
With regard to tech, I'm not aware of any major projects that were
shut down. I read that major feature development on Flow was
suspended, but active maintenance work to support an active trial
(launched after said announcement) on user talk pages is ongoing, as
far as I can tell:

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/#/q/Flow+status:merged,n,z

To be clear, the course of action taken here -- to evaluate a
controversial tool for a specific use case, and see how it fares --
seems completely reasonable to me. I'm just curious if that's what
you're referring to, though, or if there are other examples, perhaps
outside engineering, you have in mind?

Erik

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Brion Vibber-4
In reply to this post by rupert THURNER-2
On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 11:14 PM, rupert THURNER <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> brion,
>
> there is 10'000 km between you and me so i only read mails on this
> list. would you mind detailing what you expect from your CEO to
> trigger "she benefits me"?
>

I'd say these would help a lot:

* articulate a vision for her leadership term that is aligned with the
stated mission of the Wikimedia Foundation
* communicate with staff to understand what we do for the mission & what we
believe we can do further, and to help us maximize our ability to achieve
great things
* foster a positive, creative work environment where staff can do that
without burning out
* communicate with our broader community of editors, volunteers, chapter
organizers, readers, educators, developers, students, photographers,
videographers, copyeditors, researchers, etc about what they need to
maximize their contributions to the mission and how Wikimedia Foundation
and its staff can help achieve that

I don't believe these have been achieved during Lila's tenure.

This thread is the closest to a leadership vision that I've seen, and it
comes after months of private complaints, some intervention from the board,
an employee engagement survey that indicated very low confidence in senior
leadership's ability to convey a strategy, and finally weeks of open
complaints from staff that communication is bad, morale is bad, and
strategy is missing. We've seen some public strategy consultation, but
that's been recent (after the November board meeting) and there remain
concerns as to how open and consultative the process is.

As for the work environment, I believe I've made clear that I don't think
it's super great, and we're losing valuable staff rapidly due to that and
will likely continue to lose more.

I'm glad that some people outside the organization reportedly feel that
communication between them and the Foundation has improved, but internally
many staff do not feel they have been communicated with clearly. We've
spent so long talking about things like the 'Knowledge Engine' project
origins because we never got straightforward answers about what direction
things were moving in...

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Tim Starling-2
In reply to this post by Lila Tretikov
On 22/02/16 11:22, Lila Tretikov wrote:
> We started this transformation, but as we move
> forward we are facing a crisis that is rooted in our choice of direction.

Not really. The crisis has always been about means, not ends. I keep
hearing people say "this is a good idea, but why did it have to be
done this way?"

The gripe list which the staff presented to you in November
essentially said the same thing. It complained about process and the
absence of strategy, not the choice of direction.

> The choice in front the WMF is that of our core identity. Our mission can
> be served in many ways, but we cannot do them all. We could either fully
> focus on building our content and educational programs. Or we can get great
> at technology as the force multiplier for our movement. I believe the the
> former belongs to our volunteers and affiliates and that the role of the
> WMF is in providing global support and coordination of this work. I believe
> in -- and the board hired me to -- focus on the latter.

You are referring to the "narrowing focus" strategy introduced by Sue
Gardner in 2012. Indeed, you were hired to continue with Sue's
tech-focused strategy, which was already fully established by the time
you took office. Until now, I have not heard anyone suggest that it is
still a significant source of conflict within the Foundation.

> In the past year we managed -- for the first time since 2007 -- to finally
> stem the editor decline.

Well, the minimum number of very active editors on en.wikipedia.org
was in September 2013, but yes, more or less. As the blog post said,
nobody is quite sure why this has happened. Nobody is saying that
Wikipedia is a lovely and friendly place to work.

There is no WMF initiative that fully explains the reversal, although
the Teahouse (which was not officially supported by WMF engineering)
may have played a role.

> Over the past two years I have actively pushed funding to improve
> anti-harassment, child protection and safety programs; work in these areas
> is ongoing. We are actively exploring some tangible approaches that -- I
> hope -- will turn into concrete outcomes
> <https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Harassment_workshop>.

I am very happy to see this. For years I argued for more effective
moderation of Wikipedia as key to editor retention, and I was very
frustrated that nobody ever had the guts to do anything about it. Not
Sue, not the Board, not the ArbCom.

I agree with your broad strategic goals (educate, innovate, retain
volunteers, secure funding), I just doubt your ability to implement
them. Because an ED of a non-profit organisation needs to be able to
lead, not just dictate. And an effective manager should make decisions
rationally and collaboratively.

-- Tim Starling


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Austin Hair
In reply to this post by Lila Tretikov
On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 1:22 AM, Lila Tretikov <[hidden email]> wrote:
> In practice this means I demanded that we set standards for staff
> communication with our community to be professional and respectful. It
> meant transitioning people, shutting down pet projects, promoting some but
> not others, demanding goals and results to get funding. This level of
> change is necessary to set up our organization to address the challenges of
> the next decade.

I could take issue with several things you've said on this list, Lila,
but I've tried to remain neutral for the sake of fairly moderating the
conversation.

I really don't think I can let this one go, though. Would you please
name one "pet project"—actually, I don't think it's so much to ask to
name them all—that's had to be shut down?

And, for that matter, why? I honestly cannot think of any reason that
this could not be truthfully and immediately answered.

Austin

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Legoktm
In reply to this post by Lila Tretikov
Hi,

On 02/21/2016 04:22 PM, Lila Tretikov wrote:
> The world is not standing still. It will not wait for us to finish our
> internal battles and struggles. Time is our most precious commodity.

No, it's not.
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Values#Our_community_is_our_biggest_asset>

-- Legoktm

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Why we changed

Tim Starling-2
In reply to this post by Erik Moeller-3
On 22/02/16 18:45, Erik Moeller wrote:
> The numbers for "very active editors" appear to have stabilized at a
> slightly higher level than previously. I can't find any firm
> conclusion on what has caused this in Wikimedia's public
> communications, but the HHVM rollout, long-planned and implemented in
> December 2014 under Ori Livneh's leadership seems like a plausible
> hypothesis:
>
> https://blog.wikimedia.org/2014/12/29/how-we-made-editing-wikipedia-twice-as-fast/

I don't think it is plausible, given the data collected at:

<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:HHVM_newcomer_engagement_experiment>

25,000 new users were put into an HHVM bucket, so the whole site was
twice as fast for them. Then they were tracked for a week. There was
no improvement in engagement or productivity.

I'm sure the performance improvements we did in 2004-2005 had a big
impact, especially initial batch of 9 Tampa servers in February 2004.
There must be a scale effect: going from 20s to 10s is much more
important than going from 2s to 1s.

-- Tim Starling


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