[Foundation-l] More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Thu Apr 30 21:23:59 UTC 2009

I would love more context for this (excellent, ambitious) discussion.
What timescales are to be considered?  What range of scope
reassessment is appropriate?

A long-range planning section would be helpful, if only to provide
context for more immediate targets.  For comparison, here is a brief
list of 'three-year' goals I had more than three years ago, when the
foundation was but a legal construct.  A couple of them have since
been met :)  :


I'd like to see Wikimedia as a community take some 300-year stances on
knowledge dissemination, what is important and what will pass, what
comes first and what comes next.  I'd like a shared roadmap for
improving language coverage: how can we move beyond
single-common-language, do we have tiers of language support that new
languages filter up? how do we integrate, support, and iconify clear
communication: simple v. complex language, language learning?

We also need focused discussions about ideals and goals over shorter
timescales... and ideas about projects that support and expand our
ideals that other non-WM projects could take on.  Where do our
projects fit into the grander scheme of things?  What are our grandest
ambitions, our fallback positions, our contingency plans?

Conservation and innovation could both be better served by our plans.
We could use a serious endowment discussion.  Preparation for how to
sustain Wikimedia services and data across a major global war or
catastrophe.  A list of valuable collaborative projects not yet begun.
 A list of significant tools and services that would enhance
development and use of the projects.

On Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM, Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> * A project team made up of a small number of people accountable for
> driving the work forward, keeping it on track. I expect it would be
> mostly paid staff and paid support. It would be process-focused > not substance-focused.

Or support the work with bureaucratic help?  These are two fine uses
of paid teams / contracts in my mind for massively parallel volunteer
projects.  Then again, some of the best "drivers" I can think of are
volunteers who are engaged 24/7.

> * A small number of Working Groups...  to evaluate and synthesize
> recommendations from the Sub-Groups

There's nothing wrong with having a good multi-layered process.
Sometimes that's not the most effective, though - I hope there is
always an open low-process low-barrier to entry process in the
background, like the Nupedia wiki, which is expected to at worst
produce great draft material without strictures (and at best can do
much more).

> idea.  The people in the Sub-Groups will need, ideally, to have real
> subject-matter expertise, or be willing to work hard to get it where
> it's missing.

I see energy and an interest in discovering what's possible as being
more valuable than subject expertise.  Choosing by expertise and then
seeing how much work people do is a standard weakness of traditional
committee-forming.  Choosing by activity and merit without filtering
first allows selection of people who truly thrive on whatever the task
at hand is.

> * There is also a big question about languages. The work will need to
> be done in English,

Can you elaborate a bit?  Could a group that all speak better French
than English not do their work in French and have it translated for
others?  I would hope the language issue could be phrased as  "All
work will need to be translated into English as a shared working

> but we will also want to provide avenues for
> non-English-speakers to participate, other than through their own
> direct connections to people who do speak English. That will be hard.

'avenues for participation' rather than equal representation and
participation, seems in a small but persistent way to run counter to
the mission.

> * I am also thinking about how best to involve the voices of readers

This is really important.  WP has 3 billion readers, all of them
potential contributors, sources of ideas.  Again, the majority of
these readers do not read English as their first language.


More information about the foundation-l mailing list