Pete Forsyth wrote:
>... there are very good reasons to be cautious about how much
> and what kind of advocacy the Wikimedia Foundation engages
> in, but by and large, the reasons are not *legal* ones. They're
> related to our vision, our mission, our strategic plan, and our
> model of community governance.
Any new set of potential advocacy topics based on no editor growth
instead of exponential editor growth should be reviewed for legality,
compatibility with vision and mission, but not strategy or governance,
because choices made for those topics are necessarily influenced by
the volunteer growth rate. Thereby circular dependency in reasoning
can be avoided. If someone implies that some of them are illegal or
incompatible with vision or mission without saying which ones or why,
then I generally don't take them seriously. People have had plenty of
time to raise specific objections for specific reasons, and over time
the extent to which they have or have not becomes significant. And I
agree with James Alexander's concern about spreading effort too thin,
which is why I've been trying to encourage ranking the combined set at
which has been picking up a little lately.
So I hope the Foundation will survey an accurately representative
cross-section of volunteers to find their relative preferences on a
set of advocacy topics which assumes no editor growth instead of
exponential editor growth. Any such survey would have design
trade-offs involving how much to weigh preferences by volunteer
effort, and I very much want to move on to that topic, except for the
fact that it should be possible to collect that data and decide later
by looking at how different rankings turn out. Which may be the only
way to do it, because I can't figure out how to decide how much more
important someone's opinion should be if they've made thousands of
edits compared to someone who's made a dozen. I will raise that
question on wiki-research-l when I come up with something that feels
like a reasonable answer two it, or a week or two if I can't. But
again, the Foundation can do this and should do it. Luckily community
volunteers can do it to, so if there is ever any question about fraud
or misconduct, that can be audited by the community, which is what
open collaborative editing is supposed to be about.
thanks for pointing this out. This is just the question I mentioned on my
You say the main thing is to share in the sum of all knowledge, no matter
I say the main thing is to support the communities doing this. These are
the opposite opinions I mentioned - and we should discuss this in a very
And that's why I cited the mission of the foundation in my blogpost, with
the first sentence *"Our mission is to empower a global volunteer community
to collect and develop the world's knowledge and to make it available to
everyone for free, for any purpose."*
Empower the community is stated there as the main thing, and not share in
the sum of all knowledge.
That's why I think this question is not answered yet, and I want to find an
answer for WMDE at least.
2014-04-08 8:22 GMT+02:00 Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen(a)gmail.com>:
> Take one step back. What our aim is, is to share in the sum of all
> knowledge. Arguably, this is the main and overriding objective of what we
> do. There are many strategies to get to the point where we share
> information. From where I stand, with Wikidata we have the opportunity to
> do better than with an only Wikipedia strategy: with Wikipedia we share the
> sum of knowledge that is available in one Wikipedia and with Wikidata we
> share in the sum of all the knowledge that is available to us.
> Wikidata provides access to more information than any Wikipedia by a large
> There are those in our communities who aim to restrict the practices that
> realise Wikidata as the resource of information that is available to us. To
> say it in a political correct way, they can be and should be ignored. There
> are organisations that want to share information with us under a CC-0
> license and there are those who want to share information under a CC-by
> license. The later can and should be ignored as well.
> However, when I am to argue these points in a private setting, I will say
> that they can screw themselves. It is to make the point forcefully, it is
> to hammer on the fact that our objective is not the community but the
> sharing of knowledge. Yes, the community is important but that is the
> extend of it. When we can gain authoritative information provided by a
> GLAM, we should not consider the fact that we can enter all that
> information by hand. Those who want to add statements by hand can do so but
> they should not force their behaviour and attitudes on others.
It is with great pleasure that I present to you the new board of Wikimedia
During our General Assembly of March 29, 2014 the following persons were
elected for a new term of 1 year.
Ronn Boef - new Board member
Jan Anton Brouwer - Treasurer, board member since 2013
Justus de Bruijn - new Board member
André Engels - Secretary of the Board, new Board member
Frans Grijzenhout - Chair, Secretary since 2013, Board member since 2012
Ad Huikeshoven - Board member since 2012
Marlon Thé - new Board member
André en Ronn have been active Wikipedians for a long time and we are glad
that they are willing to serve the community in a different role.
Justus and Marlon are new to the Wikimedia community but both have a track
record in serving volunteer organizations.
The general meeting gave a warm applause to the two board members that
stepped down after serving the community for many years: Ziko van Dijk,
Board member and Chair since 2011 and Paul Becherer, who served as
Secretary of the Board and as Treasurer since 2010. They have led the Dutch
chapter in an outstanding way during turbulent years.
*Frans Grijzenhout*, chair
+31 6 5333 9499
Vereniging Wikimedia Nederland
3500 AD Utrecht
Hello dear all,
From 2008 on until recently the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) had seen a
staggering growth to fulfill its mission, and it had pulled a great deal
of the resources, in money, but as well as in talent, manpower and
volunteer's effort of the movement.
From the beginning hosting of the Wikimedia projects was the core
competency of the WMF. A big part of the WMF budget and staff is
dedicated to the operation of the servers. Meanwhile the main server
farm is moved from Tampa, Florida to Ashburn, Virginia.
In the last years the WMF had evolved to the main development party of
the MediaWiki software. The software and product development had drawn
many resources and talents from around the world to San Francisco. Many
developers were relocated to join the WMF team.
With the increased prominence of especially Wikipedia the WMF and its
projects were facing more and more legal challenges in the past years.
Law suits from around the world were reported since 2005. Because of
this the WMF had expanded its legal team.
To improve its role as the leader of the movement and to settle the
disputes between the WMF and chapters about the processing and
distribution of the funding the WMF had evolved since 2010 into a grant
All in all the WMF is without doubt the center peace of the movement and
claims four fifth of the expanses of the entire movement.
The recent dispute about the URAA motivated massive content deletions on
Wikimedia Commons highlights the problem of this strong centralized
In basic, the storage solution of the Wikimedia projects is still a very
classical approach with two central database centers, both of them
located in the US. This approach had repeatedly induced conflicts about
what content can be stored and what cannot. It does not reflect the
international character of the projects and had repeatedly induced
critics on the Wikimedia projects to be US biased and it is, measured on
today's storage technology, outdated. Even though currently the US law
is one of the most liberal in relation to freedom of speech it does has
its bias. The US copy right law for example is meanwhile one of the most
restrictive and backward looking copy right laws in the entire world.
Another example of the potential hazardous result of this approach are
the image files that are currently stored in the individual projects.
For example on Chinese Wikipedia images that are free according to the
Chinese and Taiwanese copy right laws are stored directly there, and not
on Commons. These images are nevertheless not free according to the US
law and are stored in servers that are located in the US and distributed
from there. This poses potential problems for all parties that are
involved here: for the Foundation, for the project, for the community
that is curating these images and for the users that are using these images.
In a larger sense the problem is not constrained to the file
repositories, but also to the content. Even though the Foundation had
increased its legal department and had tentatively tried to work out an
approach to support its community in legal conflict basically it is
still working with the old strategy: In case there is a legal case in a
foreign country the Foundation will avoid the call of the court while
the Chapter will deny any responsibility for the content. This leaves in
the end all potential hazards to the volunteer who contributed the
content. In case of a court suit he is probably the one that have the
worse legal support and had to take the charge privately, even if he
handled legally and in good will.
In my opinion, since the technology is ripe, it is time for the movement
as a whole and WMF especially to seriously consider the approach of a
distributed hosting. Files and contents that let's say are legal in the
EU but not in the US should be able to be stored on a server located in
the EU and distributed and operated from there. Files and contents that
are legal in PRC and Taiwan and may violate copy right law in the US
should be able to be stored in a server say in Taiwan or Hongkong and be
distributed from there into the world. This approach is meanwhile
technical viable and is used by almost all major international internet
This also means that the chapters, as far as there is one, should be
able to take the responsibility for the content and the hosting of those
servers in their country. They should be obliged to provide legal
consultation and defense to the community, which means a distribution of
the legal defense from a central point into the world, to the chapters
and directly to the communities. Indeed the legal consultation and
protection of the community is in my opinion one of the most missed duty
of the chapters and the Foundation to the movement.
Every country, that meets a certain standard of freedom of speech,
freedom and media and freedom of justice is a potential place to set up
such a server and in which the chapter can be entitled to claim the
responsibility of the content that is stored there. There are meanwhile
pretty many renowned independent organizations that provide such
standards and measure the status of a country against these standards,
like Reporters sans frontières, Human Rights Watch, etc.
Also software and product development can be done distributed. Many
commercial companies do this successfully, many open source projects do
this successfully. The WMF is not unfamiliar with distributed software
development. One of the most prominent developer of the WMF, Tim
Starling is for example never relocated to San Francisco. Also in the
past decades many important impulses came from outside of San Francisco,
the last one is WikiData, initiated and developed by Wikimedia
Deuschland (WMDE). Wikimedia Serbia had offered in the past to hire
developers in Belgrade because the people there are well educated,
talented and the wage there is low. I believe there is no necessity to
concentrated all developers at one place. Fore sure distributed
developer teams need certain trainings, standards, communication skills
and procedures to be able to doing well. But it is possible, it is even
meanwhile industrial standard. It is meanwhile a backward looking
approach to draw and concentrate developers at one place.
From organizational view it makes more sense to have these distributed
developers organized by the chapters (as far as there is one) instead of
let them work as contractors for the Foundation, which also means an
organizational decentralization of the software and product development.
For me personally there are some life experience that makes me an
absolute supporter for the decentralization.
I was born 1968, the year which marks the climax of the darkest period
of the Chinese history, the Cultural Revolution. In the year when I was
born Chine was experiencing the worst political purge since Stalin's
death in the whole world. At that time, no one could imaging, that from
the boys and girls that were born that year in China, millions will go
to North America or Europe to study there and work there and live there.
No one could imaging that some of them will go back to China because
they know that China will provide them better chances for work, research
and life than in North America and Europe. 1988 I traveled with the
train throw Soviet Union and crossed the no man's land of Berlin Wall,
and at that time no one in the whole world could imagine that less than
four years later there will be no Soviet Union any more and the Berlin
Wall will fall.
Those experiences tell me not to trust any fortune teller and future
researcher. I won't bet that USA will not turn into a dictatorship
within my life time, and I won't bet that Central and West Africa won't
turn into the most prosperous and most liberal region of the world in my
life time. However unprobable this looks like. Because of that I don't
trust one central prominent hub, because however strong and well
developed and well organized, it is the single point to fail.
Decentralization, on any aspect, only works if the parties are aligned.
One of the darkest hour of my board chair's personship was by an
interview with an Austrian television. Together with me a chair's person
of a chapter board, a volunteer and a researcher of Wikipedia were
interviewed. When the reporter came to the topic of gender bias and
Foundation's effort to balance it he at first addressed the question to
the chapter chair's person. And the person answered: Well, for our
chapter this is not a topic, we concentrate our work on article quality.
And for the next few seconds before the question is addressed to me I
was feverish thinking about an answer which would not sound like I
support and agree with him but also don't like as if we will publicly
take out a dispute about what is the movement goal.
I think this should not happen. And if the movement really want to be
organized decentralized, we cannot afford such things to happen. It made
me sad to see that WMDE and WMUK published their strategic planning for
the coming years, each by themselves. I think it should be a strategic
planning with all organizations, agreed by all organizations and all
organizations will work together on those goals, together.
I think there should be a charter for all organizations in our movement,
signed by all organizations that want to join us, that set up standards,
set up things like working together on strategies and working together
on goals. Unfortunately, and I do blame myself partly for this, that
despite the movement roles work group, despite some other tries
afterward, we were not able to set up such a charter. And I think that
one of the goals for a movement strategic planning should be set up such
a charter in the next few years.
So, if we decentralize the hosting, the software and product
development, the legal and the movement organizations, where is the
place of WMF?
I imagine the WMF as the United Nations of Wikimedia. I can see a lot of
people now wrinkle their nose and say: What? that ugly and useless
bureaucracy? And I will tell you: No, I am not thinking about that ugly
and useless bureaucracy, I am thinking about that organization that
concentrated and coordinated the world's effort to eradicate smallpox, I
am thinking about that organization that set up standards to preserve
the world's heritages, the organization that coordinates and develops
standards for civil air and sea traffic that makes an smooth and safe
international travel possible. So, I am imagining an organization that
coordinates the movement resources, that set up and safe guard
standards, but not dominating the movement. And all in all, despite the
40 and plus partner organizations, there are still more volunteers that
don't have an organization to support them, and there are still much to
do for the Foundation. Especially, I still see the WMF as the leader of
the partner organizations and the movement.
Looking back into the history I believe it is necessary for the
Foundation to have the last six year's growth. The Foundation had
learned a lot from this and it had repeatedly set up standards for the
movement, despite all the grudging and all the disputes, looking back,
it is good to have those standards set up. All organizations inside of
the movement are profitable from those standards.
But the growth of the WMF had more and more extincting the growth of the
partner organizations inside of the movement. Its dominance and its
feeling responsible for everything inside of the movement began to take
the air away from the other organizations, its concentration at one
place had always been felt as an alienation and is becoming more and
more a problem. A good captain of see knows when the wind turns and he
need to change the sail setting and course to cope with that change, for
the Wikimedia movement now is the time.
I want to repeat one sentence I said earlier: I see the WMF as the
leader of the partner organizations and the movement. I want to
emphasize that I want to see the WMF as the strong leader of the partner
organizations and the movement. The strong leader because he is wise and
experienced, not because he is a dictator; the strong leader that knows
that every member in his team has something that they can do better than
himself and knows to use those abilities in benefit of the group, and
not the one who dominates the team.
(Please pardon any cross-posting)
The final in our series of the Evaluation Reports (beta), the report on the
Wikipedia Education Program, is now available on meta:
Highlights of the report include:
The average Wikipedia Education Program reported cost a total of almost
$8,000 USD in total, and $275 each week to implement. The average Wikipedia
Education Program invests a total of $67 US and 3 hours into recruiting
each new editor participant.
Program leaders reported participation rates ranging from 25 to 2,372, and
programs lasted from two weeks to 21 months with an average of 37.5 weeks.
For the seven reported Wikipedia Education Program implementations, almost
3,000 different Wikimedia pages were created or improved. The average
Wikipedia Education Program produces about 120 pages of content each week.
The average program participant adds just under half a page of content to
Wikipedia and creates or improves six wiki pages each week.
Out of the 3,334 new editor participants in Wikipedia Education Program, 36
(1.2%) participants were "active" three months after the program ended; 33
(1.1%) were "active" six months after the programs ended.
Questions are welcome and encouraged on the talk page.
On behalf of the Program Evaluation team,
Jaime Anstee, Ph.D
Program Evaluation Specialist
+1.415.839.6885 ext 6869
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the
sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
As I have been helping out with wikipedias from time to time, here my
@Fae: I do not think that it is within the spirit of the Nolan
Principles to break a promise given to participants... there is no
trade-off possible between the principles for the principles
(Leadership, Honesty, Integrity Selflessness Objectivity vs Openness,
Accountability ?!). That is, after all the basic concept of
principles - that they are even followed when you don't want to or
@discussion culture: To get to a decision, everyone must be allowed to
express her/or himself in a discussion without fearing repercussions
afterwards - otherwise you just get yes-people who will not
participate or worse, tell you what you want to hear. Why it is
important to say something stupid like "fuck the community" is because
it came right from the inside, without prior going through a filter...
with this reaction people will filter and you will not only loose
dumb but also intelligent contributions.
@future (sarcasm warning): if you do not wish this sort of
comments, just say so in a general sense - YES, it's possible to
get the message across without a witch/wizard hunt and even CHANGE
the rules for the next time... learning without burning... how the
world could have looked if this had been used more often...
yesterday April 6th, 2014, in Florence at "The Impact Hub" Wikimedia
Italia held his general assembly which comprised the vote on the final
budget for 2013 and the budget for 2014 the election of 3 new board
The new board is:
* Andrea Zanni, President
* Simone Cortesi, Vice-president (newly elected)
* Luca Martinelli, Secretary (newly elected)
* Cristian Consonni, Treasurer
* Ginevra Sanvitale, Director of Programmes (newly elected)
Please join me in applauding the new members and wishing them good luck :-)
We would also like to thank Alessio Guidetti, Lorenzo Losa, Francesco
Tarantini and Frieda Brioschi for their service in the board.
[*] Wikimedia Italia adopted since last year to have two-year long
board mandates with staggered deadlines so we will be electing either
2 or 3 board members each year.
You have continued this, and related, lines of questioning of multiple
staff members and of the community for quite some time now. It is clear
that you have not received an answer that you find satisfactory, and I
understand that, but may I ask what makes you think that you will receive
an answer that is satisfactory to you by continuing to ask the same
questions. It is possible, and in my opinion likely right now, that you
will never receive an answer that satisfies you given the realities of the
My read of the discussions (and lack thereof) that have happened here and
elsewhere over the course of many years when you bring these topics up is
that the level of interest in pursuing your specific agenda is not only low
but, if anything, actively negative. That is not to say that many of us do
not, personally, agree with the goals that you espouse just that we do not
believe the foundation should be actively participating in them. Spreading
us too thin is not helpful for any of our goals and focus, including in
advocacy, is incredibly important.
I would encourage you, James, to move on from this line of discussion.
Continued work on it, whether it be via passive aggressive emails 'to'
staff members (while copying in a public mailing list), attempts to rally
up support through different mailing lists or via proposed surveys of the
community are unlikely to change the response that has been clear for at
least 5 years. I understand that you may not see these emails or proposals
in the way I described but I urge you look at them through others eyes.
On Sun, Apr 6, 2014 at 4:47 PM, James Salsman <jsalsman(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Geoff,
> Would you please clarify which of the advocacy topics below, if any,
> are precluded by the restrictions at
> Since multiple people have claimed that some are without saying which,
> it would be very helpful to have some clarity from an authority. The
> topics were designed to address volunteer quality of life issues on
> which the Foundation has not been active because they were not
> considered when volunteer survey respondents were polled on their
> advocacy preferences. I am not interested in correcting those
> omissions with any topics which are precluded by IRS regulations.
> Thank you!
> 1. Labor rights, e.g., linking to fixmyjob.com
> 2. Support the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the
> Child and its protocols without reservation
> 3. Increase infrastructure spending
> 4. Increase education spending
> 5. Public school class size reduction
> 6. College subsidy with income-based repayment terms
> 7. More steeply progressive taxation
> 8. Negative interest on excess reserves
> 9. Telecommuting
> 10. Workweek length reduction
> 11. Single-payer health care
> 12. Renewable power purchase
> 13. Increased data center hardware power efficiency
> 14. Increased security against eavesdropping
> 15. Metropolitan broadband
> 16. Oppose monopolization of software, communications, publishing, and
> finance industries
> Wikimedia-l mailing list
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
Would you please clarify which of the advocacy topics below, if any,
are precluded by the restrictions at
Since multiple people have claimed that some are without saying which,
it would be very helpful to have some clarity from an authority. The
topics were designed to address volunteer quality of life issues on
which the Foundation has not been active because they were not
considered when volunteer survey respondents were polled on their
advocacy preferences. I am not interested in correcting those
omissions with any topics which are precluded by IRS regulations.
1. Labor rights, e.g., linking to fixmyjob.com
2. Support the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child and its protocols without reservation
3. Increase infrastructure spending
4. Increase education spending
5. Public school class size reduction
6. College subsidy with income-based repayment terms
7. More steeply progressive taxation
8. Negative interest on excess reserves
10. Workweek length reduction
11. Single-payer health care
12. Renewable power purchase
13. Increased data center hardware power efficiency
14. Increased security against eavesdropping
15. Metropolitan broadband
16. Oppose monopolization of software, communications, publishing, and