[Foundation-l] Top 10 Wikipedias

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 8 07:04:21 UTC 2008

Lars Aronsson wrote:
> Filip Maljkovic wrote (on behalf of Waldir):
>> I would like to request your attention to a vote that will start this 
>> midnight, regarding a rearrangement of the top ten Wikipedias that are 
>> displayed on the main wikipedia portal
>> Please head to the poll 
>> <http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Metapub#Top_10_Wikipedias.28poll.29> 
>> to vote. I hope to see you there! --Waldir
> You failed to mention what sort of authority or mandate this poll 
> has been given, compared to all previous opinions, votes and polls 
> on the same topic in recent years. 

Apparently the same as previous years...

  I don't even know whether the
> design of the www.wikipedia.org front page is the responsibility 
> of the WMF board, its chairman or the CEO.

No, no, and no. At least, unless the community decides to put something 
illegal in the USA, I hope that the CEO, the Chair or the board will 
always have the sense not to decide they have the responsibility of the 
design of this page. What would be next if they do ?
Oh, presumably, I guess the community would be served by a "we need to 
improve the communication and we'll serve the readers with a video of 
Jimmy asking funds to the crowds". And if so, what will be next ? WMF 
being in charge of deciding the design of all main pages ? WMF deciding 
to be in charge of deciding of the editing policy ? WMF deciding who is 
allowed to be sysop ?

Will they agree to be
> micromanaged by spontaneous polls among the audience?

Are will they agree to micromanage the projects ???

   After the
> vote has ended on July 31, who will implement the changes?  Who 
> decided the time limits for this poll, and the criteria for who 
> can vote (account 3 months ago, 500 edits total)?  To an outside 
> reader it might seem like anybody can make the rules and decide 
> anything.  Does this mean I can start a new poll on the same 
> subject in September?
> I don't mind an opinion poll.  I don't mind the front page being 
> redesigned.  What I do question is the right to initiate new polls 
> or institutions (last time it was the community council) that take 
> the shape of government over the WMF.  The WMF should be ruled 
> according to its bylaws, not by spontaneous mobs.

Well, the projects largely run on precedent and consensus. Hopefully, if 
you start a new poll in september, you will get 10 people telling you 
"are you nuts, we just voted on this !" and no one will come vote on 
your poll. When you really think of it, the ENTIRE project has been run 
by spontaneous "mobs" since 2001, and up to date, it has been pretty 

Fact is, our projects are not, should not, be run by WMF. If we take the 
line that WMF is a host provider, then the host provider does not decide 
what is in the projects. If the WMF decide of the way the projects are 
run, then WMF is not a host, it is THE editor of the project.

WMF did not come before, or even at the same time than the projects. It 
came *after* because it was meant to support them, to help them do what 
the projects could not do themselves (in particular funding). Not to run 
them. It was never meant to run the projects.

Now, you ask one good question though. "Who will implement the changes 
?". Well the developers. That is... the ones paid by the Foundation. 
What if they refuse to do so, on the principle that, say, the ED has 
opposed them doing so ? That's a fair question. There are various 
alternatives. What do citizens do when they do not agree with the way 
their government goes beyond running the state, but start trying to run 
their personal lives. Voting differently at next elections, 
demonstrating in the streets, sending petitions, requesting resignation 
of the prime minister, throwing a revolution, moving to another country 
where the grass is greener...

I am actually a bit abashed by your questions and hope that they have 
not been planted in your minds. But to second your questionning about 
"institutions", I fail to understand the relative opposition to a wiki 
council sort of thing. In the past, on the projects, certain decisions 
were taken by the entire communities. Then, as the communities grew, 
some people realised that some degree of delegation was necessary. And 
that's why for example, the arbitration committees were created. I know 
some complain arbcom are not working so well, but can you really figure 
an active community of 400 people making the decision to ban a bugger ? 
What a huge loss of time for 400 people ! Huge opportunity for internal 
warring as well. I, for a start, think much more efficient to delegate 
certain decision making to a subgroup.

That said, I also think that decisions such as new wikipedia.org main 
page SHOULD BE KEPT global, with no delegation of power, because there 
are one of these last few opportunities for different linguistic 
communities to work together to come to ONE decision. That's a typical 
barnraising event (just as deciding logos) that makes wonder to make 
people feel their opinion matter and that they belong to a global 
project. The huge benefits of having poeple feel this warmth of 
belonging largely outweight the inconveniences of this little anarchy.


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