Summary: I'm trying to get comments and ideas on how to improve
communication between developers and Wikimedia editors, and I'd like
to ask the help of people on this list to ask your local communities
what they think, and post the results of those discussions here.
Communication between Wikimedia contributors and "tech people"
(primarily MediaWiki developers, but also designers and other
engineers) hasn't always been ideal. In recent years, Wikimedia
employees have made efforts to become more transparent, but what I'd
like to discuss today is how we can better engage in true
collaboration and 2-way discussion, not just reports and
announcements. It's easy to post a link to a new feature that's
already been implemented, and tell users "Please provide feedback!".
It's much more difficult to truly collaborate every step of the way,
from the early planning to deployment.
Some "big" tech projects sponsored by the Wikimedia Foundation are
lucky enough to have a Community Liaison who can spend a lot of time
discussing with editors, basically incarnating this 2-way
communication channel between users and engineering staff. But one
person can only do so much: they have to focus on a handful of
features, and primarily discusses with the English Wikipedia
community. We want to be able to do this for dozens of engineering
projects with hundreds of wikis, in many languages, and truly
collaborate to build new features together. Hiring hundreds of
Community Liaisons isn't really a viable option.
There are probably things in the way we do tech stuff (e.g. new
software features and deployments) that drive editors insane. You
probably have lots of ideas about what the ideal situation should be,
and how to get there: What can the developer community (staff and
volunteers) do to get there? (in the short term, medium term, long
term?) What can users do to get there?
Instead of just postulating that "The problem is X" and "The solution
is obviously Y", I've started an extensive consultation process to
learn from users, to hear you, to listen to your complaints and your
ideas on how to fix the issues. I'm hoping that this open and
collaborative thinking process will yield better results than a
An preliminary consultation took place last month with projects in
English and French. I've summarized the initial findings and
I'm hoping that we can now expand this consultation to more projects
and more languages, with your help. It isn't feasible for me to launch
a discussion on each wiki in each language, but I'm hoping that you
can help me spread this message and start those discussions with your
I realize this will take some of your time, but I think it's worth
spending a little time to discuss this now in order to make big
improvements later on how we communicate with each other.
I'm available to answer comments, concerns and questions.
Many thanks for your help!
Technical Communications Manager — Wikimedia Foundation