[Foundation-l] Our values

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 1 01:30:42 UTC 2008

Ray Saintonge wrote:
> Florence Devouard wrote:
>> The values represent the principles we share together
>> What is the difference with the Wikipedia pillars ?
>> The values I am talking about are the *organization* (WMF) values, not 
>> the projects values. Obviously, many values will be shared, but not
>> necessarily all of them. For example, Wikipedia has NPOV as a pillar,
>> the Wikimedia Foundation does not have NPOV as a pillar.
> The difficulty when you establish a distinction between WMF and 
> projects' values is that it tends to focus on the difference.  If 
> community is to be a key value then effort should be directed at 
> bringing these distinct values into harmony.
> While NPOV is indeed a Wikipedia value, other projects cannot ignore it  
> It's direct role in the life of other projects may be more limited, but 
> it still underlies a lot of activity.  We can't have Wikinews reporters 
> injecting their bias into stories.  Wikisource must accept that texts 
> are as they are without attempting to designate one as containing better 
> ideas.  Wiktionary cannot start inventing definitions.  Even Wikispecies 
> must find a neutral approach to issues of traditional taxonomy versus 
> modern cladistics.

I fully understand what you say Ec, but the values I am trying to 
identify are to be the ones driving the activity of the Foundation. Not 
of the projects. NPOV, just as "be bold" are values of the projects. I 
love these values, but I see not how and why they should fit as values 
of a legal entity.

>> Wikipedia in particular, currently enjoys very much support because it
>> is clearly identified as a brand. Other Wikimedia projects are not as
>> well clearly identified yet (there are still people wondering what
>> Wikiversity exactly is about for example).
> Is there a hurry for them to be so identified?  The fundamental notions 
> underlying Wikiversity are more complex than for any other project.  
> Treating Meta as more of an internal project, all the other projects are 
> about the information we provide to the public.  Wikiversity is distinct 
> because it is about people's relationships with the information.  
> Wikiversity should not be thrust into a popularity contest when it is 
> still trying to find itself.  I see it's long term value as a broadly 
> useful and usable educational tool.  That's a much more difficult task 
> that sticking discrete bundles of information onto the internet.

You are correct, there is no hurry to identify them :-)
In any cases, I do not think that is the job of the Foundation to 
identify these values. That's the job of the community working there.

>> There are also beliefs that, as a web 2.0 company, every one can do
>> whatever they want on the websites, and no one is responsible. 
> This leads to a significant philosophical question between collective 
> and individual responsibility.  If we end up saying that no one is 
> responsible, there is a serious ethical flaw in that philosophy.  The 
> internet has unleashed tools for the evil-doers just as much as for the 
> rest of us.  The pressure is on legislators to put serious restrictions 
> against online abuses, and the kind of solutions that they are likely to 
> effect will have closer ties to expediency than to enlightenment.
> There are obvious areas of collective responsibility, such as keeping 
> the servers going and otherwise maintaining infrastructure. Beyond that 
> I think it's important to stress the importance of individual 
> responsibility.  We cannot put ourselves in the position of being the 
> ones to decide whether someone else's actions are illegal without 
> sacrificing the neutrality of an ISP.  We can notice strong 
> possibilities that an act may be illegal, but we cannot judge.  We can 
> also tell those people who insist on posting questionable material that 
> they cannot do so behind the cloak of anonymity.  If they want to 
> persist they must make sufficient personal information available to 
> allow those whose rights have been violated to take action.

I am not sure I really understand you here...
I am very very supportive for us to take responsibility when we are 
responsible. You are correct we should really stress out that editors 
are responsible of what they write, and that should be in anyone mind.
Beyond this, as a hosting provider, the WMF has the responsibility of 
removing content deemed illegal.

>> It seems that past and recent discussions show how important it was for
>> the community that our entire projects be build upon free software,
>> using free format and free standards. It goes beyond the simple notion
>> of creating freely-licenced content, as described in the mission
>> statement. Whilst supporting, defending, developing, the free mouvement
>> is NOT our goal, nor even within our mission, it seems to be an
>> important value to most of us. Hence, the very notion of listing our
>> support to freedom is a VALUE, which has been clarified in a recent
>> resolution.
> It's important to note that values are not rules.  Values still leave 
> room for pragmatic considerations, and strict rules against the use of 
> proprietary software should never be an excuse for putting ourselves at 
> serious disadvantage.

It is correct values are not generally rules. They are primarily there 
to convey what is important to us, from what is not (or less important).
Secondary, they can constitute guidelines for those running the Foundation.
And then, sometimes, they are so important that they require ruling 

>> Last summer, the board + advisory board brainstormed together over our
>> values. We further discussed the issue on this list, as well as here: 
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Values
> I would also see Wikicouncil addressing this to give the perspective of 
> seriously involved people.

In the absence of a Wikicouncil, I am asking your opinion guys :-)

>> I have been thinking over it in the past few weeks, and here is the 
>> result of my list.
>> * Community
>> * Diversity
>> * Quality of service
>> * Transparency
>> * Freedom
>> * Independance
>> Text is rough draft for now
> Good.  But I would take to task those who would create a priority for 
> one over another.  Put them into alphabetical order and stress that they 
> are all equal.  Saying that one is more important than another will give 
> some interpreters a trump card that they will not hesitate to play. Some 
> of the most difficult problems arise from conflicts of values when both 
> sides have clearly valid positions.  Those situations require a balanced 
> and negotiated solution with neither side having a tool for triumph.  
> Such tools breed rigidity.

I tend to agree with you.
I think it is probably best not to order them... because no one will 
ever succeed to agree on an order, because priorities may be slightly 
different depending on people and circonstances.
Also, some might argue the most important is at the top, whilst others 
will argue that the most important is the bottom (foundation) :-)

>> Our community is our biggest asset
>> We are a community-based organization. We must operate with a mix of
>> staff members, and of volunteers, working together to achieve our mission.
>> We support community-led collaborative projects, and must respect the
>> work and the ideas of our community. We must listen and take into
>> account our communities in any decisions taken to achieve our mission.
>> Commitment to openness and diversity
>> Though US-based, the organization is international in its nature. Our
>> board of trustees, staff members, and volunteers are involved without
>> discrimination based on their religion, political beliefs, sexual
>> preferences, nationalities etc... Not only do we accept diversity, but
>> we actually look forward to it.
> Good.  We also need diversity of opinion and ideas. Concepts like "Be 
> bold." and "Ignore all rules" are also important.  We need to protect 
> ourseves from those who depend on rigid literal interpretations of rules.

"Be bold" and "ignore all rules" may not be suitable in an 
organization.... At the project level, it is a value. At the 
organization level, I think it is more a management issue. I'll let that 
to the management.

>> Quality of service is a priority
>> We will try our best to give access to high quality Wikimedia project
>> content 24 hours a day and 7 days, as well as provide access to
>> regularly updated, user-friendly, and free dumps of Wikimedia project
>> content.
>> To insure world-wide, unrestricted, dissemination of knowledge, we do
>> not enter into exclusive partnerships, with regards to access to our
>> content or use of our trademarks.
>> Freedom
>> We make extra efforts to use only free software on our own servers, and
>> to support open and patent-free media formats that are viewable and
>> editable with free software.
> The description does not match the title. I agree with the description, 
> but find the title misleading.  A public that sees only a six-word list 
> would never guess that description.  It is easy to imagine that they 
> would take the word "freedom" into areas that we would do well to 
> avoid.  We do not want claims that we must support irresponsible speech, 
> or that we are somehow a force in political movements such as working 
> for the "freedom" for the Tibetan people. Individuals can still support 
> that idea, but it is well beyond our collective scope.  A term like 
> "open sourcing" might be more to the point.

Okay, I am reworking that paragraph

>> Transparency
>> We must communicate Wikimedia Foundation information in a transparent,
>> thorough and timely manner, to our communities and more generally, to
>> the public.
>> Independance
>> As a non-profit, we mostly depend on gifts to operate (donations,
>> grants, sponsorship etc...). It is very important to us to ensure our
>> organization stays free of influence in the way it operates. For this
>> reason, we strictly follow a donation policy, reserve the right to
>> refuse donations from a limited number of sources, and try to multiply
>> the number of sources.
> I'm generally supportive of these ideas, but they need work.

Yup {{be bold}} :-)


> Ec
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