[Foundation-l] More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Sat May 2 17:27:43 UTC 2009

Stu writes:
> - We can't do them all at the same time -- even with all our
> success we have limited money and volunteer energy.  A strategic
> plan can help provide focus and prioritization.
> - The approach the Board and Sue have laid out -- widespread
> involvement from our entire community -- is unprecedented. Many
> organizations do strategic planning, but typically with a few
> dozen people. We are going to do it with thousands.

Until you got to these points, I was with you 100%.  Now I'm not sure
who you mean by 'we' .

1) We do in an abstract sense have limited money and energy.  But
we're far from saturating what has been raised so far.  And our
community have always managed to raise as much money as we needed,
particularly when we it was clear what it was needed for and what the
targets were.  I certainly know of people and orgs who would gladly
provide additional support, in kind or in money, were there a specific
need for that; I expect many long-time wikimedians might say the same.
 So worries about limits should not color or hamper a first
need-assessing effort!
    We also have a few magnitudes (2? 4?) more volunteer energy and
input than is being directly focused towards particular strategic
goals.  Most people spend their time on-wiki working on projects that
matter to them or that they've helped start, or that they happen to
have cottoned to recently.  There are few measures for telling editors
(as an active body of volunteers) what larger priorities there are, or
when they are furthering them.
   - There's no mechanism for this, regardless of where priorities come from.
   - We lack a set of shared, enumerated priorities or targets in
usability, quality, outreach, languages, access for those without
connectivity; and have few/limited priorities for tech scaling,
performance, data center expansion, legal/trademark/copyright
protections, etc.

2) You say the approach proposed in this thread - "widespread
involvement from our entire community" is unprecedented.  This is
somewhat shocking :-)  Everything Wikipedia is and has become has been
through widespread involvement from our entire community.  The same
holds for most Wikimedia projects.  For our Foundation to take a
different approach to significant planning would be surprising.

    That said, I understand that this approach is, compared to
processes of other non-profits, unusual.  Please recognize that this
approach is similarly unusual (in the other direction, with an
unusually strong role for the Foundation as an independent entity)
compared to other community-governed projects.

> On May 1, 2009, at 4:30 PM, geni wrote:
>> Doesn't really work. The flawed assumption is that very little of the
>> wikimedia community cares about how others think they should move
>> forward.

Interesting comment.  I'd like to resolve some of the issues above, to
help people see/discuss large-scope priorities and see how they could
contribute to them (or how much their daily work does contribute),
before believing your own assumption above.   I think right now few
people actively care b/c there's no way for them to know about or
reflect on larger issues.  Change that and you'll change the picture.
Not unlike civic engagement.  If all you do is vote once every other
year, you actually don't have much input into a social process.  If
you are actively engaged, and share your interests and concerns
effectively with hundreds of people you know, clusters of people can
again directly control large scale efforts, and that ability to simply
go fix visible problems leads back to caring about the best way to
move forward.

GerardM writes
> When you want to transcend local policies and guidelines, you have to start
> thinking on a more global level. On this level there are big and small
> Wikipedias, Wiktionaries, Wikibooks etc. There are projects that serve a
> global need and are the victim of local constraints like Commons and also
> Meta. We are not organised in a way that gives priority to the more global
> issues and consequently we are very much unaware of issues that the "others"
> face and why our "local" issues can be irrelevant elsewhere.

+1.   This should be an iterative process, and one of the first steps
should be improving organisation of goals/priorities so that global
issues are visible everywhere (and <cough> not only in English.  If
this is an important conversation, it too should be had in other
languages).   Likewise nonstandard local issues - as a member of a
federation of states, I believe a diversity of local goals and
implementations is useful for this type of planning).


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