meeting was on Dec. 22, 2011).
*RCom is not dead. It changed into something less formal and less
hierarchical. You can still email me and Dario to get support for your
research plans. We'd still reconvene the committee if it looks like
that'll help. *
While RCom hasn't met in a long time, the process for subject recruitment
hasn't slowed. We don't have a technical requirement that all recruitment
studies must follow The Process, but I have been helping researchers
document their studies and obtain feedback and sometimes consensus for more
than five years now.
Really, RCom has morphed slowly into the Research Team at the WMF + a few
interested volunteers that we can manage to pull in to help us with review
work (shout out to Daniel Mietchen, Nemo, Yaroslav & BluRasberry). Within
the research team, we *do* have structured processed for supporting
researchers access to data and engineering support, but subject recruitment
has been mostly left in my (volunteer time) hands.
Regretfully, I wasn't involved in the planning of this project or I would
have directed it towards best practices for minimizing disruption
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Research_recruitment> -- e.g. an
RFC. I would have also pushed Leila to find a way to make posts on talk
pages work (since they are known to be generally preferable, police-able,
etc.), but I can understand why concerns around privacy might be worth
discussion. I regret that this discussion only happened after-the-fact as
it could have informed the study design for the better. FWIW, SuggestBot
posts recommendations on user talk pages and also does not filter for
offensive content (to my knowledge).
Finally, I think it is important to consider the source of this research
work. Leila is not some random academic or industry researcher who is
planning to take advantage of Wikipedians for a study, but not give back.
Leila is working with a team at the WMF tasked with building better
translation tools. She helped them design an experiment that would explore
the effectiveness of these tools so that when something is deployed, it's
actually better and we know it scientifically. A lot of the work I do with
external researchers is to help make sure that their work has the potential
to benefit Wikipedia/Wikipedians/Wikimedia/Open knowledge. In this case,
the Leila's team is just helping the product teams engage in best practices
around empirical software change practice. After all, every software
deployment is an experiment that is inflicted upon you without consent. In
this case, Leila's job is making sure that we know the effect before we
So, what I really mean to say is:
1. You're right. We should do this better. We have a process and
everyone should go through it. It might have caught some of the issues
that have been raised.
2. Leila is WMF staff. She's trying to help the WMF build better
software for the purpose of benefiting Wikipedians. Her team deserves some
slack. The alternative of not running the study is less desirable.
On Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 12:56 PM, Michelle Paulson <mpaulson(a)wikimedia.org
Please see in-line below.
On Saturday, June 27, 2015, Leila Zia <leila(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
+ Michelle Paulson
On Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 7:37 AM, Pine W <wiki.pine(a)gmail.com
This issue is also being discussed on the
Research mailing list.
I have three questions:
1. Was this outreach method approved by RCom?
No, and RCom, as far as I know has not been active in the past year or
more (last meeting was on Dec. 22, 2011). This is a research from the
Research team in the WMF.
> 2. Email addresses are nonpublic information on-wiki unless they are
> proactively and publicly disclosed by users. Does the bulk collection
> nonpublic email addresses in this manner and
the bulk provision of
> addresses to researchers for their use in
this campaign violate the
> email address to let you know about things
that are happening with the
> Foundation, the Wikimedia Sites, or the Wikimedia movement, such as
> you important information about your account,
letting you know if
> is changing about the Wikimedia Sites or
policies, and alerting you
> there has been a change to an article that
you have decided to
> bulk scraping of email addresses from account
> and outreach purposes doesn't appear to
be contemplated or authorized
Michelle can help with this one as this is related to Legal. Note that
it's weekend here and this may have to wait until Monday.
The research team did speak to me prior to beginning this project to
type of use falls within the permissible potential uses for email
under the policy. The examples listed in the policy are meant to be
illustrative, not exclusive -- the absence of this situation as an
enumerated example shouldn't be taken as a prohibition.
That said, it is a new use and therefore, will and should be the subject
discussion and debate. It is such feedback and testing that will help us
refine email practices to be both effective and reflective of community
3. Wouldn't talk pages be a more appropriate
outreach method than bulk
The reason we chose email over talk pages (or Echo notifications) is
Hope this helps.
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