[Foundation-l] Remembering the People (was Fundraiser update)

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Fri Jan 9 04:33:08 UTC 2009

2009/1/8 Marc Riddell <michaeldavid86 at comcast.net>:
> * A person at the Foundation level who has true, sensitive inter-personal as
> well a inter-group skills, and who would keep a close eye on the Project
> looking for impasses when they arise. The person would need to be objective
> and lobby-resistant ;-). This would be the person of absolute last resort in
> settling community-confounding problems.

Aside from section 230 concerns, my primary concern about the
appointment of any single person to such a role would be scalability
across languages and projects. I continue to believe that the idea,
proposed I think by GerardM, to have a Meta-ArbCom as an institution
of last resort for dispute resolution could be very helpful, and
easier to get off the ground than any kind of general council.

> *This is more of a cultural issue: I would like to see the more established
> members of the community be more open to criticism and dissent from within
> the community.

To me, this is synonymous with openness to systemic change in general.
Wikipedia[n]s tend to become resilient against systemic change as
policies and practices become established and entrenched. To some
extent this is necessary to serve the mission of the project. In other
cases it's debatable: e.g., is a predominantly deletionist community
"better" or "worse" to serve the mission of the project than a
predominantly inclusionist one?

I think a fundamental inhibition against change is that people don't
know how to achieve it: the lack of clarity in decision making
processes is almost a usability issue. This is especially true for
contentious large scale decisions. I wonder if WMF should officially
"bless" certain decision-making processes, or if that would prevent
innovation and experimentation.

Another method to achieve greater openness to change would be to
specifically empower a group of people to conduct time-limited trials
(technical trials, policy trials, etc.), on the basis of broader
community suggestions. These would then be evaluated, with the final
decision returned to the community as a whole. This would address the
problem that any change that's highly debatable can never be tried out
due to lack of consensus.
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

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