On Tue, May 6, 2014 at 5:34 PM, Nathan <nawrich(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On Tue, May 6, 2014 at 8:18 PM, Pete Forsyth
I want to point out something that stands out to me. This is not an
outright contradiction, but it's a puzzling contrast. In an unrelated
thread on this email list, Executive Director Sue Gardner recently said:
"Editorial policies [for WMF staff] are developed, and therefore also
best-understood and best-enforced, not by the WMF but by the community."
That is the WMF policy as it applies to WMF staff: essentially, no
rules, use your own judgment in interpreting how
to best comply with
community standards. But here, in the report Sue authored, it seems there
is a very different standard for movement partners who seek funding or
endorsement from the WMF:
"In the future, the Wikimedia Foundation will not support or endorse the
creation of paid roles that have article writing as a core focus,
regardless of who is initiating or managing the process." 
Again: this is not a direct contradiction, and it is entirely within the
rights of the WMF to apply different standards to its own staff vs. to
other organizations. But I do think it deserves some careful
as to *why* such different standards would be
Decision point #1 in the Belfer Center report is not something that is
based in any Wikipedia policy. It does have a basis in the Wikipedian in
Residence page on the Outreach Wiki. That is an important page, and I
believe many in the movement consider it to have the weight of a formal
policy; but I don't. Elevating it from a best practice recommendation to
absolute rule is a significant step, and one that
I don't believe should
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, and I hope you can clarify for me so that
I can follow your position. I don't see the contradiction at all between
the two policy-related statements. In the first case, the WMF says that the
editorial policies that apply to its employees are promulgated by specific
projects and their communities, not the WMF. In the second, it says
effectively that the WMF will not sponsor paid editing. The presumption in
the first instance is that the WMF already does not pay its employees to
edit, so Sue was not referring to "paid editing" at all. Russavia's
question was about editing with a conflict of interest, not payment.
I'm not seeing any conflict between those two statements, and the WMF does
not appear to me to be applying different standards to others than to
itself. In fact, the only time paid editing by an employee has come up as
an issue, the employee was quickly dismissed. Perhaps you can explain?
Again, I don't say it's a contradiction, it's not. But I do think it's an
important contrast, and yes, I'll try to clarify why.
Does the Wikimedia Foundation create additional policies, related to
editing Wikipedia, over and above those established by the Wikipedia
community and documented on Wikipedia?
For its staff, according to the email I quoted above, the answer is "no."
(You're right, there is one case that might suggest otherwise, relating to
paid editing -- but we don't, and shouldn't, have public access to all the
specifics of that case, so it's a tricky one to draw conclusions from,
especially in a public forum.) But, there are countless ways in which
Wikimedia Foundation staff edit Wikipedia and other projects as a part of
their compensated work (and also, in their free time). There is apparently
no policy from the WMF governing that behavior beyond general trust in its
staff to abide by community-set rules.
For other organizations, though, that might seek Wikimedia funds and/or
endorsement, the answer is apparently "yes" (according to the Belfer Center
I think that's a contrast that merits some consideration. I think Pine's
example is a good one to consider: if a movement-affiliated organization
wants to guide another organization in adding content to Wikipedia, and
there is payment involved, the WMF apparently won't support that.
Is that really a good rule to have? I don't think so. Many organizations
have added material directly to Wikipedia, in some cases with the guidance
of a Wikipedian in Residence, with unequivocally positive impact to the
Wikimedia mission, and with much support from the Wikipedia community. I
don't think it's a great idea for the WMF to distance itself from such
projects on the basis of paid editing.