On Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 4:02 AM, Benjamin Lees <emufarmers(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 9:32 PM, Tim Starling
I've long believed that MediaWiki should be
considered a project of
the WMF, on the same level as the wikis we host. Perhaps if we
included donation requests on the download and installer pages then
MediaWiki might be considered worthy of some attention in its own right?
If MediaWiki is currently underserved and would only receive attention
from the WMF by virtue of its revenue generation (rather than its
contribution to the WMF's mission), maybe it needs a separate (subsidiary?)
organization to address the needs of third-party users. Third-party users
could donate money (or buy support, as with Canonical vis-à-vis Ubuntu)
with the knowledge that it will be spent on the things they need done.
I've long mused out loud about this possibility, but I've become less
certain over time that this is a good outcome based on what happened
with Mozilla Messaging (spun out to work on Thunderbird, then folded
back into Mozilla). The overhead of yet another organization wasn't
worth it for them, and probably won't be worth it for us.
That said, I think there is a structural problem here, and I'm glad
Mark has started the process of making release management something
that has more volunteer involvement. The needs of running the
Wikimedia family of websites are strikingly different than the needs
of small websites who want a simple-to-install wiki. For that matter,
they are very different than the needs of large websites that need
wiki software, but consider it a commodity that they don't want to
think about very much, rather than as their core product. Without the
concerted involvement of people who understand and are good at
balancing those concerns, we'll do a poor job of serving those folks.
We'll be able to empathize and guess, and probably continue to do
alright, but due to human+organizational nature, it'll probably never
be as great as it could be.
I think MediaWiki as a standalone product suffers from some of the
same problems as Bugzilla as a standalone product. Since both are
byproducts of each organization serving a different mission than "make
great general purpose software in category X", it's difficult to
dedicate the kind of attention necessary to make both great
general-purpose products, which is sad, because the world needs great
general purpose products in both areas. In fact, even the areas that
WMF could benefit greatly from, we seldom muster the energy (such as
in the area of integration between the MediaWiki and Bugzilla akin to
the much-touted integration between Confluence and JIRA).
In answer to Tim, I've lobbed the idea out there of MediaWiki-focused
fundraising to WMF people outside of WMF Engineering, to somewhat
lukewarm response in the past. It may be possible that the time
wasn't right, or that my pitch sucked (it was admittedly not a fully
polished proposal, but just a casual suggestion). That said, I
suspect the people who deal with bringing in money generally have an
even stronger Wikimedia-project focus than I'm expressing here.
Standalone MediaWiki goals are not on the 5 year plan; not even on
next fiscal year's plan, so it's hard to invest direct Wikimedia
resources in this area beyond what we're already doing.
Just because a separate standalone MediaWiki entity isn't necessarily
viable, that doesn't mean that we can't figure out how to make the
release process a little more community-driven, so I'm glad there
seems to be momentum around outside contributors participating more