[Foundation-l] Mission & Vision statement updated

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 26 16:37:47 UTC 2007

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen wrote:
> On 4/26/07, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:
>> On 4/26/07, Jussi-Ville Heiskanen <cimonavaro at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> However the version of the mission statement linked from that post,
>>> which you suggest adopting "without objection", is definitely _not_
>>> the one you have now adopted officially.
>> True - more edits happened after that announcement & we did some final
>> tweaking on the Board-level (e.g. we had a brief discussion about
>> whether we want "neutral" in there or not, and decided in favor).
> In fact, I find it hard to say how anyone could claim that the further
> emendations made were in fact made "in consultation" with the
> community or had any serious review by it at all. So to me it appears
> that those "edits" and "tweaking on the board-level" largely by-passed
> approval by the community, even by ommission to comment, since they
> were not submitted for even dissaproval after the call for instating
> the unstable-mission statement as it then stood.
>>> It still has the language "free licence" which I personally would think
>> would
>>> implicitly (if not explicitly) mean "free content available in formats
>> under free
>>> licences"
>> There are plenty of open source decoders for patented file formats, so
>> that wouldn't necessarily be clear enough. One can always make up
>> phrases such as "unfettered file formats" and explain them elsewhere.
>> I'm generally supportive of incorporating a free&open format clause,
>> as I think the issue is becoming very hot with Windows Vista's
>> built-in DRM malware, the MP3 lawsuit, and so on.
> In my opinion this is simply not good enough. If you are of the
> opinion that we do _not_ need to specify that we are *only* interested
> in keeping the *content* under a free licence, why "clarify" the
> sentence by adding that specific word "content" there, when a
> reasonable reading - and I do think my reading is reasonable - will
> contend that adding "content" in there is a specific disinclusion of a
> requirement for free formats, and thus a radical shift in policy.
> I genuinely hope you are not being disingenous in suggesting that we
> "incorporate" language - in the future -  to say we are for free
> formats. The language as it stood, if not clear, certainly supported
> what was already long standing practise of our projects. So it is in
> my view very much inaccurate to say that it would be an innovation to
> add such language, when much simpler would be to not add the confusing
> term "content" there in the first place.
> I do infact urge the board to reconsider their position, and
> specifically would urge the community to voice whether they wish to
> *only* have free "content" or whether that is a too limited phrasing.
> --
> Jussi-Ville Heiskanen, ~ [[User:Cimon Avaro]]

I do not think anyone can reasonably claim that the change came as a 
total surprise. The issue of updating the mission statement has been 
mentionned as early as october 2006.

I do believe that the current mission statement is an "improvement" 
compared to the original one.

For reference, the old one

The general purpose and objectives of the Foundation shall be the 
following: Wikimedia Foundation is dedicated to the development and 
maintenance of online free, open content encyclopedias, collections of 
quotations, textbooks and other collections of documents, information, 
and other informational databases in all the languages of the world that 
will be distributed free of charge to the public under a free 
documentation license such as the Free Documentation License written by 
the Free Software Foundation Inc. at http://www.fsf.org or similar 
licensing scheme, see http://www.wikimedia.org. The goals of the 
foundation are to encourage the further growth and development of open 
content, social sofware WikiWiki-based projects (see 
http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki) and to provide the full contents of 
those projects to the public free of charge. In addition to managing the 
already developed multilingual general encyclopedia and almanac named 
Wikipedia, (http://www.wikipedia.org) there is a multi-language 
dictionary and thesaurus named Wiktionary, an encyclopedia of quotations 
named Wikiquote, a collection of e-book resources aimed specifically 
toward students (such as textbooks and annotated public domain books) 
named Wikibooks and a collection of source works called Wikisource; 
other projects are envisioned. The Foundation also manages the 
operations of the largely dormant Nupedia project (which is not a wiki 
but is open content).

The new one

The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people 
around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free 
license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and 
In collaboration with a network of chapters, the Foundation provides the 
essential infrastructure and an organizational framework for the support 
and development of multilingual wiki projects and other endeavors which 
serve this mission. The Foundation will make and keep useful information 
from its projects available on the Internet free of charge, in perpetuity.

Now, no one is claiming the new one is perfect. Kat herself is not fully 
happy with it. I am not 100% happy either, even if I prefer it to the 
previous one. For example, I am embarassed by the restriction caused by 
the use of the words "educational content", because wikinews is more 
about "informational content" than about "educational content".

However, the previous statement basically limited ourselves to be wiki 
projects hosting providers (is dedicated to the development and 
maintenance. To encourage the further growth and development of open 
content, social sofware WikiWiki-based projects and to provide the full 
contents of those projects to the public free of charge).

Do you really think this is ONLY what we want to be ? That this is ONLY 
what we want to do ? Being host providers ?
I do not think so.

I think many of us also wants the Foundation to push the distribution 
and the dissemination of content beyond online. I think many of us also 
wants to be freedom advocates. I think many of us want to develop a 
global awareness, partly thanks to the collaboration with the chapters.

All this was not in the previous statement.

We wondered whether to wait again till everyone is 100% happy (which may 
be an unreachable dream), or to update the statement to better fit what 
we think the Foundation is about. Some of you have noticed that we are 
not always very quick to do things and to take decisions 
(understatement). I do believe that when we are "reasonably" happy, we 
should avoid waiting forever to take a decision. In particular for 
issues which can be changed in the future.
I will add that whilst we knew that Kat was not fully happy with it, the 
call for comment and participation did not provide much feedback, so we 
had the reasonable expectation that the change was okay for most.
Hence the decision to update it.

Now, this is not graved in stone. You want to discuss it ? Discuss it. 
Put a new version on meta. Call for feedback. Get a new agreement. No 
problem. Once a new version seems to be reasonably approved and 
preferable to the current new version, it may be updated in the bylaws.
Elections are a perfect time to do that. Please do be an actor on this.

As for me, I think that this statement is 90% good. In comparison, staff 
situation is maybe 60% good. Governance is perhaps 30% good. I prefer 
focusing my attention on what is really really broken, than getting a 
90% satisfaction to 95%. But do keep the discussion open please Cimon.


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