On 14 August 2011 13:46, Krinkle <krinklemail(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> The thread is about one of the following:
> * .. the ability to clone a MediaWiki install and upload it to your own domain
> to continue making edits, writing articles etc.
> * .. getting better dumps of Wikimedia wikis in particular (ie. Wikipedia)
> * .. being able to install MediaWiki easier or even online (like new wikis on
> * .. making it easy for developers to fork the MediaWiki source code repository.
I was thinking of content and community forks specifically.
MediaWiki is ridiculously easy to set up and install. Setting up a
copy to fully function like Wikipedia is somewhat more difficult.
Forking the MediaWiki codebase is not hard, but probably not a good
idea. (The two cases I can think of are Citizendium and Wikia, and
both now work with and on the mainline and put their local stuff in an
To anyone who's interested... on a request to close a Wiki on meta, we were
just debating the problems that exist with Incubator, when one of the
bureaucrats from Incubator asked something along the lines of "wait, there's
a problem with Incubator?" So I went on a little quest to prove how
difficult it is for users, particularly those inexperienced with Wikimedia
projects (or even with computers and the internet, as the case may be), to
even *find* the test-Wiki in their language.
So if you'll indulge me briefly, and follow along at the site if you'd like,
I'd like to go on a brief journey through just how many clicks it takes to
find a particular test Wiki (in this case I chose Central Morocco Tamazight
Wikipedia because it has quite a few speakers). Also I'd like to note that
this is just my commentary and perspective, maybe you'll actually find it
quite easy and disagree with me. So let's begin step by step:
1. You go to http://incubator.wikimedia.org/ (what are the chances a person
would even know to go to the incubator site in the first place? we don't
exactly advertise it; it's not linked to from any high-visibility page)
2. You scroll down. You look for awhile. Unless you're looking for Kichwa,
Ingush, Yucatec Maya or Tashelhit Wikipedias, you get confused and you look
some more. Then you _finally_ notice that there is a link to "incubating
Wikis" (what does that even mean? yuck. poorest choice of link label ever!)
3. You scroll through walls of text looking for your language. We're on at
least the 3rd click by now. You must look through a long list of languages
you probably don't even know are languages... how do you know you're even in
the right place? Also, rather than sorting by project popularity, or putting
the projects on separate pages, Wikibooks is first. THEN Wikinews. Then
finally, our most popular project (by FAR), Wikipedia.
4. It's probably been about 5 minutes already (if you're a novice user, that
is), you're getting bored of this searching. OK, whatever. Then you
''finally'' find your language. Let's pick the Central Morocco Tamazight
test-WP, which has lots of speakers but is near the bottom of a VERY long
list of test-Wikipedias.
5. What's this? There are 5 different links to click. Chances are, you
either didn't notice or you no longer remember what the column labels said,
so you have no idea why there are 5, or what the difference is. So at this
point, your chance of clicking the right link rather than just giving up is
1/5. Also, the most intuitive link to click, the language name + Wikipedia
("Central Morocco Tamazight Wikipedia"), leads to the PROPOSAL on meta,
*NOT* the test wiki!
6. Let's say somehow, you figure out which link is the right one to click.
Even for the tech-savvy, this takes 6 clicks already and is somewhat of a
usability nightmare. Then, once you click it, where do you land? Is it the
main page of the test wiki? Please? NOPE! It is a stupid, pointless, totally
useless "splash page" that serves no purpose to users, only to incubator
admins and nobody else.
7: If you made it to this point as a casual user without this guide, you've
probably used Incubator before when it was _slightly_ more user friendly
(they recently redesigned it to be even LESS usable, I didn't think that was
possible but they surprised me!), or you're just very determined. Anyhow,
thanks to certain editors (like one that creates nonsense or poor-quality
pages in many Mexican indigenous languages he doesn't speak at all), there's
a good chance that the page you do end up at if you find your language will
be totally useless and worthless, possibly filled with fake writing that
isn't actually in your language, or is supposedly in your language but makes
no sense at all. So even if you made it to this point, there's still a good
chance you'll get discouraged and leave!
Now add to this the confusing process for starting a new test-wiki, the
confusing and non-transparent process of adding new pages successfully,
etc., and it becomes clear the system is broken. Not that this means much,
but I'd like to note that I was the one who originally suggested the idea of
"test Wikis" way back in Febuary 2005, and have closely watched developments
since then with great disappointment.
(after a bit of thinking, I'll post this to foundation-l after all. As a bit
of context, the whole fundraiser discussion continued on internal-l and a
discussion emerged about disconnect between the board of the WMF and the
chapters, of which the letter would be an example. Based on that discussion,
I wrote the email below. As far as I am aware, it contains no confidential
information, so after consideration, this would be a better place actually)
I think we should be honest with ourselves here: yes there is disconnect -
but it is not /just/ about the foundation. It is a wider problem than that -
but I agree with Dan that this *is* a typical example. Not because of the
direction of the decision even (which I totally disagree with as it is
explained by Sue, but agree with as it is explained privately by some board
members, like noted before) but how it is taken.
I could not have imagined the board changing its bylaws without consulting
the community (not asking approval, but consulting) a few years ago. I could
not have imagined these important decisions to be taken without serious
discussions with those involved. And that someone then notes "we could have
discussed it but honestly they wouldn't have changed their mind anyway" (my
interpretation) is the most striking for where we are today. Small groups of
people sitting in their ivory towers taking decisions. Sure they do their
best to come out and talk with people, but it too often fails.
I have seen it too many times. I know of several chapters too, which are
malfunctioning because they are not able to connect to the editing community
any longer - Wikimedia Nederland has been there too (I hope I'm correct to
speak in the past sense). Listening is hard, involving is even harder. I see
it with the board even stronger - some individuals are still working hard to
engage in conversations, but it is no longer default procedure. Another
striking example is that we had to learn about this discussion from Stu's
blog - and nobody bothered to involve others in that discussion by sending
an email to internal or foundation-l.
It is happening in chapcoms, it is happening in staff (I cannot count
anymore how often I got into the position that I have to defend what Sue and
several other people in the foundation are doing and the saleries they are
alledgedly getting for that) - we all seem to do an extremely bad job in
communicating /with/ the community - not /to/ the community. I have been
saying this a lot of times during the chapters meeting - but I know there
were no foundation people there unfortunately (another example?) so let me
repeat it just once more: talking to people will not suffice, will not
involve them. We are no priests or teachers that will tell them what to do,
but we can motivate them and cooperate with them and be part of it by
talking with them, involving them in conversations.
I know it is very hard to actually accomplish it - and I know it is easy to
say that you're trying and will try even harder - but that won't be good
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Rosenthal <swatjester(a)gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Internal-l] Board letter about fundraising and chapters
To: "Local Chapters, board and officers coordination (closed subscription)"
Well, I think this entire debate over the fundraising letter is a great
example. The board and office seriously miscalculated how strongly the
chapters would feel about such a drastic change. I think, frankly, you still
do. The "us vs. them" tone of these discussions, especially from some of
Erik and Jan Bart's emails, appears to me to be causing people to become
defensive and entrenched in their beliefs.
The fact that this is all being done last minute when many these issues were
known back as of the 2010 fundraiser* sends the message to me that nobody
adequately expressed to the chapters what frustrations the WMF was facing,
at least not in any sort of way that would have prompted a thoughtful series
of responses like we have seen here.
Then we see things like Jimmy saying "WMF owns Wikipedia" -- something that
I believe we have always shied away from saying on ComCom due to the various
interpretations of "what does own mean?"; the side dispute with Thomas
blaming his chapter for not living up to certain standards that they may or
may not have been actually obligated to do….
I should have probably said "In my view, this is an example of a growing
disconnect…" because I certainly can't speak for others. But I think broadly
looking at this whole debacle, it's hard to see anything BUT a disconnect.**
*(such as the inadequacy of the fundraising agreement; as well I vaguely
remember there being several chapters that were not in compliance at some
point and we had discussions about it, but it was so long ago and I don't
have access to any notes at the time I couldn't say for sure)
*notwithstanding recent alternative proposals and attempts to bridge the
gap, of course.
I don't know if anyone has made a post-Wikimania thread yet thanking our
hosts --- if so, I'm sorry to duplicate, but I've missed it.
It was such an amazing Wikimania! I want to say thanks to everyone who
helped make it happen --- the site selection jury, the Israeli chapter, the
local planning team, the program committee, the people who worked on
scholarships, all the presenters, and everyone else who contributed. I
_think_ the key people were Deror, Harel, Itzik and Tomer, so thank you to
you four especially (as well as whoever else I have inadvertently missed).
Among the highlights for me:
* Yochai Benkler was seriously awe-inspiring.
* I was thrilled like I am every year to see old friends and to put faces to
names (FloNight, finally!) that I've only previously known on-wiki.
* The WikiChix lunch is always a highlight for me, and I am so happy to see
it grow every year. There was lots of energy and useful information-sharing
this year: it was great :-)
* This year I did less media than in previous years, so I was able to attend
a lot of talks. I still missed plenty that I wished I'd seen, but I saw a
lot of good stuff. In general, it seemed to me that there's a lot of good
thinking happening around editor retention issues -- it is great to see
people, in addition to naming and exploring the challenges, starting to move
* It was lovely to finally meet Angela and Tim's gorgeous baby :-)
* And this year the closing party was AWESOME. I don't think Wikimedians are
generally renowned for the excellence of our parties, but this one was
super-fun. There was lots of energy on the dance floor, and I laughed out
loud to see Topher, James Owen and Andrew Garrett wearing garlands of
flowers and dancing on speakers. (In retrospect I wonder if I imagined that
part. It's possible I did :-)
All in all, it was beautifully managed and enormously fun: my thanks to the
Haifa organizers, who made it look easy :-)
Anyone in contact with him? He has been frustrated with some recent
events ; I got his email during the second day of Wikimania
[madness] and I hadn't realized that I have to hurry before he closed
his email account.
I think that his insights are very important for Wikimedia movement
and that we need people like he is. So, I would appreciate if anyone
is able to reach him and tell him that we miss him.
this year I had the honour of presenting an overview of some of the
Wikimedia Chapters' coolest and most interesting/inspiring activities. This
is not only about big budget projects, but can also be meetups in a city.
The video of my presentation should be up in a few days on youtube/commons
(keep an eye on http://www.youtube.com/user/WikimediaIL, which will include
all sessions' videos ) but the slides are already available through
unfortunately Wikimedia Commons still doesn't accept any presentation format
(.ppt, .pptx, .odp) so the layers within the slides are not visible. If you
would like to see those too, just email me offlist and I'll send you the
I would like to encourage people to make any derivatives from it they think
With kind regards,
Perhaps we might reflect on all the mistakes made by far older global
NPOs - the Catholic Church and all the younger proselytizing churches
are good examples.The mission has always been the dissemination of
knowledge (of a specific sort), so it has experiences that might be
helpful - what not to do, etc.
They've always had wealthy and poor locales. A large part of their
efforts have been devoted to raising money from the wealthy to fund
programs for the poor. They all have had to learn how to meet the legal
obligations of whichever states they are located and have evolved
systems to manage their money - some of which work better than others.
On 8/12/2011 7:21 AM, foundation-l-request(a)lists.wikimedia.org wrote:
>>> On Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 10:13 PM, Michael Snow<wikipedia(a)frontier.com
>>> > >wrote:
>>> > >
>>>> > >> On 8/11/2011 7:08 PM, phoebe ayers wrote:
>>>>> > >> > Anyway, thanks for raising the importance of decentralization. The
>>>>> > >> > Board agrees: there's a reason it was first in our list of principles.
>>>>> > >> > To my mind "decentralization is important" raises a whole bunch of
>>>>> > >> > other important questions: is decentralization more important than
>>>>> > >> > efficiency as a working principle?
>>>> > >> I think it is, at least up to a point. We need to have a diversity of
>>>> > >> tools and actors involved in fundraising, and decentralization should
>>>> > >> help that if done well. Also, we do not have an obligation to maximize
>>>> > >> revenue, so efficiency is not necessarily a cardinal virtue. I don't
>>>> > >> mean that we should disregard efficiency, but we can choose to sacrifice
>>>> > >> a bit of efficiency if, as a tradeoff, this benefits some other value we
>>>> > >> think is important like decentralization.
>>>>> > >> > One thing that struck me about reviewing chapter financials was that
>>>>> > >> > there are 20+ chapters that don't directly receive donations and
>>>>> > >> > haven't applied for many grants to date, and thus have little to no
>>>>> > >> > money to support program work. Though mostly outside the scope of the
>>>>> > >> > Board's letter, this is for instance one part of our model that I
>>>>> > >> > would like to see change -- Wikimedians everywhere should have better
>>>>> > >> > access to resources to get things done. On this specific point, I do
>>>>> > >> > disagree with Birgitte -- I think a well-developed grants program [and
>>>>> > >> > it's true we're not there yet, but want to be soon] could actually
>>>>> > >> > help us decentralize faster, in that to obtain money needed for
>>>>> > >> > program work chapters or other groups wouldn't have to develop the
>>>>> > >> > (increasingly difficult) infrastructure needed to directly fundraise
>>>>> > >> > with all the attendant legal and fiduciary concerns.
>>>> > >> I like the sound of this, but with a note of caution about a
>>>> > >> "well-developed" grants program. In many contexts, as grants programs
>>>> > >> develop and mature, grantees end up needing to develop increasingly
>>>> > >> complex infrastructure to secure and manage grants. At that point, it
>>>> > >> may not be any more helpful to these objectives than the model we are
>>>> > >> trying to move away from.
>>>> > >>
>>>> > >> --Michael Snow
>>>> > >>
>>> > >
>>> > >Fair point. By "well-developed" I just meant "something that works well."
>>> > >One of the criteria of working well could be low overhead... Again, the
>> > idea
>>> > >of supporting grants is not exclusive to the WMF: I am so pleased to see
>> > the
>>> > >expansion of the WMDE program, as well.
>>> > >
>>> > >-- phoebe
>>> > >I can't help but point out that is begging the question.  It is a
>> > logical fallacy to say in answer to concerns that a grants program won't
>> > work well that you are supporting well-developed grants program (defined as
>> > something that works well). It is just wishful thinking.
>> > BirgitteSB
>> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question
> Sorry, I didn't intend to beg the question. Maybe I misread Michael's
> comment. I thought he was saying that a high-overhead grants program, such
> as many granting organizations end up with after a few years, would not be
> helpful. My response is that we should strive to build a functional
> low-overhead grants program. Yes, that is "wishful thinking", since it's an
> aspirational goal, but it's also in response to concern over a hypothetical
> future... I think it's totally fair to think about what kind of criteria we
> would like to see in a grants program generally (e.g. low overhead, open to
> all, etc.), since the program will need to be expanded quite a bit if it
> covers funding many more chapters and groups. Now if people don't think it's
> *possible* to build a low-overhead grants program, that's a fair point:)
To answer Michael Snow's concerns. Yes there is an efficiency problem
if you have a global audit committee covering organisations in
multiple legal jurisdictions. But that problem is the same whether you
have the existing WMF committee covering the chapters or you replace
that US-centric committee with a more globalised one.
>As for the monitoring of risks for the movement as a whole, a globalised
committee that was not dominated by any one country would be in a much
stronger position to do this.because of the need to comply with requirements
that vary in detail from one jurisdiction to the next. If you're talking
about an audit committee to monitor risk factors more generally, then the
existing audit committee already takes it as being part of its mandate to
study risks for the movement as a whole. For example, see
>If you're talking about overseeing a financial audit process, I >doubt that a group audit committee would be at all efficient,
>As to the idea of decentralization, I'm having trouble seeing whythis suggestion would be the place to start. I don't know if it's a meaningful difference in function, so I'm skeptical as to what the proposal would accomplish.
To answer Nathan's concern, a Group Audit committee need not be set up
as an outside entity. That might mean that the WMF had to endorse
candidates nominated by the rest of the movement, or it might even
require that enough non-WMF board members on the Group Audit committee
had to be observers that the WMF had a formal majority of voting
members of the committee. I'd be interested in seeing a legal opinion
on this, but I'd be surprised if we couldn't get a long way away from
the current model to a more "Global" one if we decided that was what
we wanted to do.
And I think the potential gains in getting a more globally representative
group of people supervising the chapters and pondering global risks would
justify such a change
>I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think the WMF has much of a choice about having an Audit Committee of the board, nor would they be able to cede authority for such a function to an outside entity. This means that the board has to retain effective oversight over the operations and spending of the WMF, including the fundraiser, the channeling of funds to chapters, and the affiliates themselves.