Hi Ale and all -

Thanks for vocalizing your concerns. I'm glad they finally came out here in the open because I must admit they take me very much by surprise; I didn't realize these were all stirring under the surface – which indicates to me we all need a better method of transparency! So let's get started figuring that out...

I want to start by apologizing profusely if anything has come across as being secretive or planned in isolation. That is most certainly NOT the intent of WMF – there is no desire to try to sneak something in around the local Brazilian community; we obviously want the same things: a prosperous Portuguese Wikipedia and growth in the Brazilian community. This can only be done in conjunction with you all, so there is no intentional effort to eliminate you from the process.

It seems, though, unintentionally we have done so, so let's try to fix that. I will say like any organization, things happen about which not everyone can be aware – I'm sure you've all experienced this in your work environments before; I certainly have experienced this in WMF, Wikimedia, as well as other jobs and organizations I have been heavily involved with: sometimes thoughts/ideas/notifications go out that slip through the cracks, sometimes the act of sending out a notification slips through the cracks! I agree we should try to minimize both.

In terms of communication that has gone out: the work with Michael Page was NOT suppose to be done in secret, which is why we talked about it multiple times over the past months! It was on a wiki in June[0] and October[1] and we also brought up this meeting verbally at all our meet-ups over the past months, where we also talked about it openly during Wikimania, WikiSampa8 and 10[2]. Same with the office, which I thought we were agreed upon based on the letter from the community back in August[3].

So, I guess that brings me to a point of confusion. What should we do to be more transparent? I guess things are getting missed through all these discussions and emails, and I'm not sure what else to do besides this? Suggestions would be welcome. I know language barrier is an issue for some, so as Nevio recommended: one step is making sure things are translated (thanks to Rodrigo, Beria, Tom, Castelo, Daniela, Mateus and others for doing this thus far!).

There are other topics that are not addressed in this email, and I fear they are too much for one email: (1) the hiring process via Michael Page and (2) the opening of an office in general. I will expand on those things below (“Appendix”) and do want the discussion to move forward on those, but first can we tackle how to maintain transparency and strategically deciding things together, as you suggest?

Thanks; and FYI – Barry is on vacation this week, and we have holidays (Thanksgiving in the US) the next few days, so we may not be as responsive as normal.


PS sorry if this doesn't make much sense; I'm in an airport waiting for my last flight after 30hrs of traveling...6 more to go :)

[0] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Brazil_Catalyst_Project/Agenda_June_2011 I'll admit, now looking at this, it appears a bit hidden (listed as “Office planning” and you have to scroll down to see, but we got no questions on this).

[1] http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Brazil_Catalyst_Project/Agenda_October_2011

[2] See agenda: ttp://br.wikimedia.org/wiki/Encontros/2011/8_e_9_de_outubro

[3] see appendix for more details on this office discussion! http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Proposed_letter_of_agreement_between_Wikimedia_Foundation_and_Brazilian_volunteers


  1. Re: Hiring with Michael Page

We have found good success with working with professional search firms both for our positions in the US as well as abroad (India), so we engage with them – as do MANY other nonprofit firms – as a way of expanding our networks into broader areas. The executive search firm in this Brazilian case as always does NOT have final say.

That is very important.

What we are agreed upon with MP is that they will present a “short-list” of candidates for us, and we will take-over from there. MP does not control who is selected, and we are certainly allowed to go back to MP and say “these people are all wrong!” or the like. It is a good concern, though, about whether or not they will be able to find people that match our mission. After our first meeting with them, Barry and I were a little skeptical of this too. But after a second meeting with them they brought on a new guy (Marcelo) to head up the search, who was a lot more connected in are realms of social work, and we were a lot more confident and excited about working with them. Obviously, though, we are wanting to cast our net as wide as possible, though, and want all of your help in advertising the position and identifying excellent candidates. Most successful placements in most organizations are made by internal recommendation![1]

Ok so as for the step two of the hiring: “we take over from here.” this part is much more tbd, and I am glad we are discussing it now. I love the recommendation on having a wiki where applicants put up their ideas publicly. Also, we are obviously going to have a couple rounds of interviews with panels from the WMF side of things, and WMF wanted to have some Brazilian representatives involved with that process as well. None of this is finalized yet; let's discuss and come to agreement on the best way.

  1. Opening of the office

Ok, I am struggling to know where to begin with this, it is so complex. This obviously isn't a new idea, it was identified in the strategic plan in 2010[2]. It was talked about openly during all Carolina's work as Tom mentioned. It was talked about it in January, June, and October when WMF came to meet-ups in Brazil. We even held a special time to talk about it in Wikimania 2011, where WMF actually decided to put the idea of starting an “office” on hold, based on that feedback at Wikimania.[3]

In terms of the structure: the two positions posted (Global Ed Person and National “Director”[4]) would work completely together. If you read the job description for the “Director,” you'll see it involves a lot of other things besides just Education. It would incorporate a lot of the partnership type building that Kul and I take on at the moment, for example. So, it would for now be a two man-team. Again, these things were outlined by Carol in the plan and in the note by Barry and in all our verbal conversations.

Most importantly, though, was the letter issued by the Brazilians – which stated:[5]

Participant members of the Brazilian community decided to: Support the creation of Wikimedia Foundation office in Brazil which, as explained at the meeting, will have the goal of fostering the realization of partnerships and events with the community and the external audiences, provisionally and until the local chapter and even the local chapter have enough structure to develop such activities directly”

I think that is where I get confused, as I thought we were in agreement. So is the better process to set up a “voting” page? (note: I'm not sure that's the best (or even a good) idea, but I am suggesting for lack of a better one at the moment!)

[1] citation needed :) but that seems the case in my experiences!

[2] http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Movement_Strategic_Plan_Summary/Increase_Participation

[3] http://br.wikimedia.org/wiki/Nota_do_Barry

[4] yes: we can reconsider the title. Please offer suggestions!


2011/11/23 Nevio <nevinhoalarcao@gmail.com>
And if a wiser man haven't said, for sure he should have done so: for your comrades perfectly do understand what you are meaning is mandatory employing their native language. ;o)

Ale, I know your message targets WMF people, but the brasilians are very important in this case. Please do translate.

Hugs, Nevio

Enviado do meu iPad

No dia 23/11/2011, às 00:19, Alexandre Hannud Abdo <abdo@member.fsf.org> escreveu:

> Ni!
> A wise man once said... whenever you start a message with "don't get
> me wrong" you raise your chances of being misinterpreted to 100% =D
> I should have listened. : )P
> But, back to matters, there were two things in my message.
> A) One assessment, which I still hold on to, that we are being fed
> consummated facts when we could be assisting in the strategic choices
> of the foundation's actions a lot more. This would actually be better
> phrased as 'whereas the foundation should be seeking our assistance a
> lot more'.
> B) One rant, in fact one last and isolated phrase in my e-mail, where
> I voice an indiscriminate and wrongfully exaggerated concern over the
> unstated fact, that we're moving towards a chapter plus office
> situation, which I don't currently understand.
> Your comments, Tom, though intermingled with A and B, only address B,
> making it clear it is "indiscriminate and wrongfully exaggerated".
> Well, my bad, but that's what rants are for ; )
> However, back to A, while I do agree that we have had a lot of opening
> during Carol's work to discuss and provide input, the fact remains
> that, after she left and decisions started being announced, we had no
> traceable influence nor the opportunity to understand, let alone have
> a referendum, on why some paths were chosen over others and some
> actions are being given priority.
> We had, instead, a back-and-forth of positions regarding the office
> and finally a sudden announcement that in a few days a job position
> would be announced and sought through a specific channel with set
> criteria and a given scope of work.
> That, in this particular case, we could so obviously be doing things
> better together, only calls attention to a wider pattern I feel.
> So that's what still bothers me.
> Welly well droogs, I hope to have made my previous statement more
> understandable in face of Tom's thoughtful observations.
> Hugs,
> ale
> 2011/11/22 Everton Zanella Alvarenga <everton137@gmail.com>:
>> Em 22 de novembro de 2011 14:15, Alexandre Hannud Abdo
>> <abdo@member.fsf.org> escreveu:
>>> Why weren't we consulted about this?
>> I don't intend to answer in name of WMF, but Jessie has sent an email
>> on 10th of November. Then we had 9 days to discuss it.
>> Besides that, I was also wondering why this job position if we have this other
>> http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/RFP/Global_Education_Program_Consultant
>> My question is how both job positions fit with each other? There seems
>> to be a connection, but it isn't clear to me and think important to
>> Wikimedia community (beyond Brazil) understand it.
>>> 1) Michael Page does not understand the job and does not have the
>>> competence to recognize the right people, not even for a raw
>>> selection.
>> I don't know anything about Michael Page to say about their
>> competence, but I have to say I am also a bit skeptical about it and I
>> hope I am wrong. This is a reason I proposed a more open selection
>> process and I hope it's possible to Michael Page do so.
>>> 2) I am not the only one here who could have arranged a pro-bono
>>> headhunter at least  as good with one or two phone calls.
>>> You don't know our country (at all, don't fool yourselves) and you
>>> don't know the resources our community has at its disposal. If we do
>>> not cooperate, you will be wasting money, resources and opportunities
>>> all the time.
>> Abdo, I believe they have used Carol's recommendations:
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Global/Brazil/BCP_Recommendations#Establish_a_WMF_presence_in_Brazil_and_hire_a_National_Program_Director
>> So I believe the discussion on this was open. Maybe a notice about
>> Carol's report was sent to the mailing list, I cannot remember, and we
>> haven't seen it because of the sea of arguments ad hominem and some
>> useless messages sometimes we have here.
>>> Finally, on a funny detail, I don't think this person should have
>>> "director" in his title. It gives the wrong impression towards others
>>> and the community itself, and we Brazilians are very easily impressed.
>> Maybe you are right and another name for this person who will
>> coordinate a national program would be better. But I believe this is a
>> detail which can be solved easily.
>>> Actually, my personal opinion is that this whole Brazilian office
>>> affair is a huge mistake, but that was not even put on the table for
>>> us to discuss.
>> I am not sure about this being a mistake. My feeling is that it's good
>> idea to have someone to coordinate a project such as Wikipedia
>> Ambassadors. Besides incredible people working here as volunteers and
>> doing a great job to start a legal entity, *maybe* the group is no
>> mature enough (or don't have volunteers enough) to lead an important
>> project such this one. As I am saying for years, using the knowledge
>> *locked* inside Brazilian universities (mainly when paid by public
>> money) is very strategical and will help to improve the commons of
>> free knowledge.
>> But as I said during the last Wikimania discussion, things should be
>> more open and transparent. Besides I tend to think a good idea to have
>> this "director" (or whatever name it will be), it's strange that
>> firstly we were going to have an office, then we would not have
>> anymore, and, finally, we are going to have. There are discussions in
>> between that the Brazilian community is not part of it and maybe this
>> is an atitude from WMF bothering you. (My feeling is that this can
>> indicate WMF perception about our community - or not community ; )
>> Hugs,
>> Tom
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Jessie Wild
Global Development, Manager
Wikimedia Foundation