Here's what we all agree on: We want the users of
Wikimedia sites to have
more control over whether their data is used for application improvement
purposes. To be clear, we're not talking about data collected and deleted
for operational purposes.
Based on our conversations, we have three choices.
1) We use the divide in interpreting what DNT means to interpret it in a
more restrictive way. This has its own advantages and disadvantages as
discussed in this list and others.
2) We add an opt-out option that users can use to signal that they don't
want any data from them to be collected by us (except for operational
purposes). The nice thing about this option is that Wikimedia has control
over it and if browser X decides to change their DNT defaults (IE10
example Aaron brought up), we can stay consistent in the choices we provide
to users. The downside is that I know it will take some time to implement
this and we don't have an interim solution.
3) We use DNT as an interim solution and interpret DNT as "do not log
anything from me" and work towards an opt-out option.
If we have capacity to go with option (2) and have it ready in few months,
I'd like us to go with that option. Otherwise, option (3) is a reasonable
option to me.
On Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 7:23 AM, Aaron Halfaker <ahalfaker(a)wikimedia.org>
It seems that people are well enough informed by the field studies that
our team runs to want us to continue to run them. In fact, demand has
sky-rocketed both within and outside of the Wikimedia Foundation. You hold
a minority opinion that testing software in the field is unnecessary. Yet,
field tests are considered a best-practice and have become a critical part
of our strategy for minimizing the disruption (and maximizing the benefits)
of software changes. I don't think that many people would appreciate your
proposed strategy of releasing the software and waiting for people to
complain. Given how difficult it is to develop good user-facing software,
it's likely that every major deployment would be disruptive if we adopted
that strategy. I can speak for a few disruptions that my research helped
prevent and some opportunities that it helped us explore.
Allow me to share a specific example. In this study, we found that
telling anonymous editors to register dropped their productivity by
*25%.* Yet we didn't identify substantial issues in user testing. If
we had not run this field experiment, we might have deployed the change
thinking that we were improving Wikipedia when we were really driving good
editors away. During the experiment, we received no substantial negative
For a large collection of field experiments that were used to iterate on
Wikimedia software, see: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Growth
Really, what I want to say is this: If you want to improve privacy
protections, I am your ally. We're merely disagreeing about whether it is
good to assume that DNT means something it wasn't intended to mean or not.
However, when you say that my work has no value, it's hard to talk to you
productively because, honestly, I don't think your opinion is
On Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 7:22 AM, Christian Aistleitner <
On Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 12:07:57PM -0600, Aaron Halfaker wrote:
For example, not collecting usage data about
certain sections of our
population (e.g. IE10 users where DNT is set by default) means that we
don't know if our software works for them.
If WMF's main form of QA was through automated usage data collection,
you'd have a point.
But actually, I think WMF is doing better than that.
From my point of view, a central pillar in QA is “software getting
That's happening widely across WMF.
Both manually and automated.
It's great already and getting better every day.
And for me the main QA ingredient is listening to feedback from the
users. Besides studies and dog-fooding, WMF's bugtracker is a
testament to that and contains reports that “$X is not working on
browser $Y” or “$X needs to also do $Z”.
And that's really great!
To me, user behaviour data collection is a way to support and assist
the above two. But it is not a requirement when trying to determine
“if our software works for them”.
Users are sending us emails about issues, come to IRC to discuss
issues, file a ticket, or they just tell someone.
All without having their usage data collected.
I am convinced “IE10 users that do not want to unset DNT” are no
exception to that.
P.S.: I for one received bug reports from IE10 users. (But I do not
know whether or they used DNT.)
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