Ha! Awesome stuff. I wish I could find the one of CJ
telling Will that his
one and only task is to never let the press corps see that they've gotten
under his skin...
What amazes me isn't anything about his behavior (he has yet to make a
point that we haven't all talked through a zillion times, right? and he's
not entirely wrong), but hers -- in just letting this go on. Is she unaware
of what he's doing? If so, why hasn't anybody pointed it out to her yet? Or
is she so confounded by the social dynamics that she really doesn't care if
he stirs the pot before she (presumably) comes up with a plan for how to
engage with the community, what issues to prioritize, etc.? What if she
decides to hire somebody...with actual qualifications...to do a job along
the lines of what he's already volunteered for? Do they then have to spar
with him, and just accept him as a professional liability? Or can they
"fire" him?? Some job they'd be walking into!
Of course I don't have much to go on yet, but it's looking like we ended up
with an amateur, and that's pretty frightening. We've had tin ears at WMF
for a long time, but at least they've had the virtue of a few years'
experience. If she's got no keel on the open sea, who knows where her take
on the community will wash up? Will it just be more of the "grease the
squeakiest wheel" approach? It doesn't give me a lot of hope that she can
chart a better course through the crippling dynamics of the last couple
On Fri, May 23, 2014 at 8:49 PM, Wil Sinclair <wllm(a)wllm.com> wrote:
going to give you a serious piece of advice here as someone who has
held one of the most public position of "authority" on the English
Wikipedia (the scare quotes are quite on purpose, ask me about them some
Thanks. I appreciate any advice.
Wikipedia Review and its successor WO are the
roaming grounds of a
diverse group of people, some of them with astute and sometimes
insightful criticism about the failings of the Foundation's projects.
On a surprisingly large number of occasions, the criticism there has led
to exposing serious problems that desperately needed fixing, and some of
the commentary can be downright painfully precise when pointing out the
I think you're right about this. That's why I participate there. I'd
like to find out as much as I can about the movement.
This is the reason why, when I first got elected
to the Arbitration
Committee, I tought much as you do and felt it important to "keep an ear
to the ground" as it were.
The problem with WO - and it's a fatal one - is one of motivation. The
vast majority of participants there do not offer critique out of a
desire to improve how we do things, or point at things that we are doing
wrong with the aim of having them fixed; they do so out of spite,
revenge or simple outright malice. It is no coincidence that the more
prolific participants there are people who were excluded from the
on-wiki discourse before joining: it is the rallying point of the
malcontent. The *reason* why they are so often uncannily accurate in
their "investigations" is because they are driven by an obsessive need
to turn over every rock, pick apart every comment, and expose (with no
regard for safety or privacy) those they deem to be their adversaries.
Somtimes just to make a point and gloat but - too often - in order to
harass, bully and threaten (and occasionally blackmail) participants in
Here's where I get confused. If they are exposing serious problems
that desperately need fixing, then what does it matter what their
motives are? They may or may not choose to be part of the solution,
but if we want to build the healthiest community possible isn't it
important that we know what's not going right. I suppose what I'm
trying to say is that I personally care more about the message than
the messenger, so it seems to make sense for me to participate there,
too, for the reasons you've mentioned above.
(And you need to be aware that, historically,
those fora had a number of
"private" boards restricted to the bigger participants, where the level
of bile is much higher and much less veiled of legitimate criticism - so
what you've seen to date is certainly the *tamest* that can be found on
Yes. You can see the private boards on the main forum page. They very
graciously set up a temporary private forum for me to ask some of the
members further questions about potential threats to my family once
Lila's position was announced. This particular board was particularly
productive. The people on that board were kind and helpful, although I
don't know what goes on in the other boards. I have never tried to
enter the other forums, but I'm assuming I wouldn't be allowed. Have
you ever been on those boards?
The net result is that everything on those sites
is tainted with bile
and venom; and every opportunity to hurt is exploited mercilessly. You
may *think* you can abstract that poison away from your participation,
concentrating on the buried legitimate claims that can be found. You
can't. It will grate on you, imperceptibly at first, but it will affect
Well, we'll have to see how I fare. It certainly hasn't bothered me so
far. For that matter, some of the less-than-friendly responses on this
list haven't bothered me either. I've been told many times that I'm
persistently positive. ;)
Sure, they'll occasionally dig up something
that desperately needed to
be found and fixed - giving us the opportunity to right some wrong - but
that's a side effect of their effort to dig up "dirt" to throw at their
enemies. In practice, everything of value that bubbles up from WO will
reach "mainstream" venues soon enough if it was legitimate.
But what if this problem weren't discovered and fixed? Couldn't it
turn in to a larger problem down the road? If we all work on our
problems in good faith, a few inevitable mistakes like we've seen in
the past won't matter; the positive news should far outweigh the
So yeah. You're of course perfectly
*allowed* to participate in those
venues, but you shouldn't be surprised if that makes many in the
movement weary as - historically - that has proven over and over to be a
very bad idea.
Thanks again for the advice. I will continue to participate there,
because it happens to work for me. I realize it's not for everyone.
For example, with all the trash talking on there, it certainly isn't
for Lila. As I've mentioned, we are two *very* different people. I'm
looking forward to working with you on WP, tho. I'll try to drop by
your talk page to say Hi soon. Ta's!
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