> on 12/30/07 11:46 AM, Florence Devouard at Anthere9(a)yahoo.com wrote:
>> First problem: who can be defined as a community member ? What is
>> community ? We worked on that problem a year ago during the chapter
>> meeting and no satisfactory solution was found.
> This is a rather critical question here in the Project. References to
> "Community", "the Community", "Community Member(s)",
etc., are made nearly
> every day throughout the various communications. When you worked on the
> problem a year ago, what was the final conclusion as to a definition of
> "Community" as relates to the Projects?
> Marc Riddell
on 12/31/07 6:26 AM, Florence Devouard at Anthere9(a)yahoo.com wrote:
Unfortunately, not satisfying answer. Community
is too amorphous a concept.
In its largest meaning, community is "human population". The people we
are working to create content for.
Some, in particular with regards to elections, consider that "community"
is "every person interested in what we are doing". This will be a reason
why some will consider that Larry Lessig, though not a participant of
our projects, though not knowing anything of our internal workings, is a
A more restricted definition will be "every person involved in what we
are doing". That will involve editors, but also our developers for
example. Note that some members of our internal community belong to this
group, though they have hardly ever be editors; we would nevertheless
consider them as "part of the community". Note that this definition is
not the one followed by current elections (people who are developers,
and have hardly ever edited do not have the right to vote).
I consider more or less this definition as being the definition of "the
An even more restricted definition is "those who have at least xxx edits
on one of our projects". This is the current election definition for voters.
Of course, even the more restricted definition of community allow
further division. There is the Wikipedia community, the Wiktionary
community, the Wikibooks community (the first being dominant but the
other ones fighting for their recognition and the recognition of their
own specificities, which is good). Then, there is the english community,
french community, japanese community. And every mix we could imagine,
english wikipedia, german wikibooks, spanish wiktionary.
I'll be happy to add there the mediawiki community, overlapping largely
with all others.
And it would be fair to say that there are two other communities, which
to the contrary of ALL others, are closed and very little flexible. The
internal community, and the comcom community.
And I think I can not leave aside the chapter communities, which is also
a group of sort.
I probably forget a couple of communities...
The meeting in oct 06 was unable to decide what "community" was, because
it is simply impossible. However, I thought we should have tried to work
on the definition of "community" meaning with regards to representativity.
The current situation at the board level is broken, because we stated
that "we want a majority coming from community" (through elections or
appointement), but without defining what community is.
So, current situation is that for example, some are arguing that
Jan-Bart is not from the community; but others are arguing that he is
from the community. Both statements are correct, depending on the
definition. For JB, it is probably very hurting to tell him "you are an
outsider", however, he has never put his hands in the practical job.
For example, some are arguing that Jimbo is not a community member,
whilst Jimbo argues that he is. He knows some of our communities, but it
would be fair to argue that he always had a special position, and as
such, can hardly represent those with no special position.
For example, some argue that Larry Lessig is a community member, whilst
most do not. Larry knows part of the free world, does that mean he could
represent the editors or developers playing with the clay every day ?
What I would love seeing is a rather more granular definition of
community, without going radical. By and large, there is
* the editing community, and I would suggest breaking it down by
projects, then perhaps by languages if necessary
* the developer community
* the chapter community
Each of these three communities would have a certain number of seats
reserved on the board, each seat being clearly labelled as "representing
the 1) editors, or 2) developers and 3) chapter, communities".
It is up to these three communities to decide how they want to select
I would freely suggest chapters could do so by direct vote of all
chapter members; it would make wonder to push chapters to get a common
I would freely suggest developers could do so by direct vote of all
developer members; with "eligeability" to vote being "have submitted at
least xx number of accepted patches, or whatever allow them to recognize
real developers from jerks".
I would freely suggest editing community to think of moving toward
indirect vote, thought the wikicouncil.
All this draw a picture of three main communities.
* Those editing the projects
* Those helping through technical maintenance or software improvement
* Those facilitating content development, distribution and lobbying,
through legal structures (wikimedia chapters)
We could imagine 6 seats being reserved for these three communities.
Such as 1 for developer, 2 for chapters and 3 for editors.
That would let 5 seats. Which could be filled up directly by board
itself through appointment, or be filled up by a nominating committee,
if there is such thing one day.
Thank you very much for this, Florence. This is the most precise,
well-articulated description of the various aspects of "community" as it
applies to the Wikipedia Project I have seen to date.
Where your thoughts run in the practical direction of the concept of
Community (voting & other decision-making areas) mine runs in a more
intangible one: Anyone who contributes in a positive way to advance the
values and goals of the Project.
Until recently, when I spoke of "The Wikipedia Community", I had been
thinking, according to your breakdown above, specifically of the body of
persons who actually edit the encyclopedia. And my goals have been to want
this Community of persons to be regarded with dignity, respect and trust.
For them to have a reasonable voice in the workings of the Project's
administration and decision-making processes. And for them to have some
semblance of control over their own fates within the Project.
This respect and trust must, of course, work both ways - We must earn it
from each other.
I'm really just brainstorming without an umbrella here:
What I'm going for is more of a sense of community than a fact of community.
A sense of belonging and loyalty that can be instilled and held only though
the culture. It can begin by each person being honest and asking themselves
what they are doing here and why.
One outstanding positive effect this sense of community pride would have on
the Project itself is that persons are less likely to freely abuse a group
they truly feel they are a part of. Would you burn down your house if you
still felt it was your home?
A person who feels they have been valued by a community is less likely to
abuse or harm it, or its members, if they feel they are still a part of it.
There needs to be a civility initiative in the Project that is reflected in
every interaction. People need to compliment each other more, and cut each
other some slack when they take risks and make some mistakes.
Take care of the new members of the Community, and remember they are
learning about the culture with every new encounter and interaction.
Also, there could be something similar to a barnstar that we place on our
User Pages ourselves saying something like "I am a proud Member of the
Wikipedia Community" with a design such as a Globe similar to the WP Globe,
but with a figure of a person at the N, S, E & W locations.
I would like to see placed at the top of the Wikipedia Main Page, a banner
that says something like, "Be honest - be fair - be assertive, be civil."
Wikipedia: A Community of persons building and refining an Encyclopedia of
knowledge - and trying to learn how to get along while doing it.
And these community values must be shared, practiced and reinforced every
single day, by every single member: This is how it is here & This is how we
are. And anyone not willing to share these values, must find a community
more to their liking.
For civility and a sense of Community to truly be a part of Wikipedia's
identity - they must first be a part of its bloodstream.
Be healthy in the new Year,
Very beautiful email Marc. Thank you for it.