[Foundation-l] Follow up: Fan History joining the WMF family

Pharos pharosofalexandria at gmail.com
Wed Dec 2 03:50:41 UTC 2009

On Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 12:04 AM, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Nov 29, 2009 at 10:06 AM, Laura Hale <laura at fanhistory.com> wrote:
>> This is a follow up to my proposal that Fan History Wiki join the wMF
>> family, based on my experiences via e-mail, on the list and on strategy
>> wiki.
> <snip a lot of detail>
>> As some one who has proposed a new project for the WMF (which would really
>> probably be an acquisition if it happened), some changes need to be made:
>> 1) Clear procedure for what happens step by step in making such a proposal.
>> Post proposal.  Contact people who support your position to vote in favor of
>> it using talk pages on Strategy wiki.  After one hundred votes vast in favor
>> with no more than half that total in opposition, project moves to
>> development stages where WMF staff will be in contact with the person making
>> the proposal.  Something like that.
>> 2) Clear timeline of what happens and when so that people can plan
>> accordingly
>> 3) Expectations regarding exclusivity of proposal to the WMF during the
>> proposal process.  Can people propose it elsewhere or seek acquisition by
>> others while there is an open proposal on Strategy Wiki?
> <snip>
> Regardless of the merits of FanHistory itself -- and I agree with the
> criticisms others have brought forth for whether the project should
> join the WMF -- Laura's criticisms of process are legitimate. For all
> intents and purposes, there is no process for proposing new projects,
> whether home-grown or brought in from outside.
> Yes, Wikiversity was created in 2006; it was also pushed through by
> some extraordinarily dedicated editors (especially user:Cormaggio) who
> were willing to take part in meta-discussions for *years*. It was also
> created under the aegis of the Special Projects Committee
> ([[meta:SPC]] for those who don't remember), which worked with the
> Wikiversity editors and brought forth a proposal to the Board after
> much back-and-forth.
> The SPC doesn't exist anymore, and there's not really anything to take
> its place (such as it was) that I'm aware of. Even with an expanded
> Foundation staff, it's unclear what area such proposals would fall
> under: new projects aren't business development, and they're not
> really outreach either. High-level strategic development? But clearly
> not all proposals are created equal, and not all are of potential
> interest, and not all are fully developed. And it's not at all clear
> to me that this kind of discussion/decision should even go through the
> office or board, at least initially; it's really undefined what "the
> community" (whatever that means) wants in terms of WMF projects.
> To my knowledge, there hasn't been a good discussion on the topic of
> new projects in the community in a long while; I don't know if there
> has been in board or staff discussions. Questions that I'd like to see
> discussed on a large scale are:
> * Do we want any new projects? Right now? In the future? Ever?
> * If so, do we only want projects that follow traditional reference
> book models of organizing information? (e.g. Wikiquote, which follows
> the model of books of quotations)
> * or perhaps only educational projects?
> * do all projects have to follow NPOV? What about the other guidelines: NOR, V?
> * do we only want projects we start ourselves, or would we consider
> projects started by other organizations?
> And yes, this could go on the strategy wiki -- but I don't know of a
> good, unstructured place to have a discussion about such things there
> (that isn't a specific proposal or strategic objective or whatever).
> To that end, I'd like to try and revive this meta page:
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Proposals_for_new_projects/process
> which was started last summer then faded out.

I find myself very much in agreement with Phoebe's call for a renewed
look at developing a process for new WMF projects.

I think that in considering future steps, one middle option that may
be considered is the "virtual wiki", the namespace-specific subproject
that may be hosted at a larger project while still developing its own
specific norms.

Consider the Wikiversity and Wikijunior projects, both started as
"virtual wikis" on Wikibooks.  Wikiversity eventually took its own
path, while Wikijunior after some discussion was still felt to be best
as part of the mother wiki.

I feel that this Wikiversity/Wikijunior model could prove valuable
again in the development of new types of WMF reference works, whether
they may be also hosted as subprojects of Wikibooks or perhaps of
another project.


> And yes, Laura, to your specific question: if you want to see anything
> happen with your project anytime soon, I wouldn't pick the WMF.
> Whether this is a failing of a disorganized, bureaucratic system, or a
> benefit of a deliberative, community-based system, I leave as an
> exercise to the reader.
> best,
> -- phoebe
> --
> * I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
> <at> gmail.com *
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