[Foundation-l] More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Sue Gardner susanpgardner at gmail.com
Sun May 3 08:19:04 UTC 2009

Just a few quick notes.

* I was speaking with Lennart face-to-face, in Berlin -- although I think he and I have been having a version of the quality/participation conversation for about a year now. This conversation about the strategy project on foundation-l is the only one happening at the moment. (I posted one of my messages here to the internal list, but asked people to reply here to keep the conversation together and public.)

* Personally, I don't think it matters (for the purposes of the strategic plan) whether particpation is a subset of something else. I think what matters is whether participation is important enough to warrant "working group" status -- and I think it is.  To me, that's because 1) we need a minimum critical mass to keep the projects alive, 2) we need to actively recruit knowledgeable contributors, to maintain/increase quality, 3) a lack of diversity = groupthink and a distorted worldview. That distortion is particularly problematic for us, since we aspire to offer _all_ the world's knowledge, not just the subset that's interesting to our core contributors.  4) There are also probably good arguments about engagement and empowerment.

A couple of quick comments on posts earlier in this thread:

* Thanks Milos for advocating on behalf of a permanent Research Analyst!  I want this too.  I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do with the role, and then we'll see where we are financially and in terms of other competing needs, once the strategy project concludes.

* I don't particularly want to routinely include "working with volunteer committees" in job descriptions though. Obviously working with volunteers is a huge part of nearly everybody's job (the CFOO and accountant probably do this the least, which is role-appropriate), but I don't want to proscribe committee work specifically as the best or only way to do that. I think each staff person needs to figure out for their area of responsibility how their work and the community can most usefully intersect. For example, Frank works mainly with individual chapters: I think a committee of chapter reps would not be the best path for his work. (If it was, he'd be doing it.)

* In response to geni/Thomas, I doubt the Working Groups will need much or any money -- my past experience suggests that administrative and facilitative support is much more important to getting this kind of thing done. But if people need money, they will get it. And I think geni suggested the Working Groups won't have access to staff -- that's not true.  The board and I are imagining staff will participate in two primary ways: 1) some staff will be working group members -- for example, I imagine Frank would be a member of a participation-focused or quality-focused group, and) as resources available to all working groups. So if someone for example had a legal question, Mike would be available for that.

SJ, in response to the general issue about foundation-l not being the best (nor most representative) place to have this whole conversation -- sure, I agree. In my view, I'm using foundation-l to solicit some early thinking from people who happen to be here. Once there's a project manager on-board, that person will construct a proper working space for the entire project -- likely, a special wiki, a new mailing list, etc. But this space is the best we've got for early-stage thinking and musing, until we're ready for more structured discussions.


-----Original Message-----
From: Samuel Klein <meta.sj at gmail.com>

Date: Sun, 3 May 2009 02:08:26 
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List<foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] More on Wikimedia strategic planning

I could use a revision history and list of related discussions for
this conversation.  [perhaps a mailing list isn't the best or
highest-visibility venue, considering the audience]

Where else is this conversation taking place?
Are past discussions of high-priority questions relevant?

On Sat, May 2, 2009 at 11:43 AM, Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> their scope. The three Working Groups, I am imagining right now, would
> focus on Reach, Quality and Participation.

Vision & Reflection is an important topic left out here, before all of
the others.
  What are we trying to accomplish?
  What is now possible, what should be possible?
  How are we doing it, how can we do it better?

This process itself form deserves more thorough ongoing consideration,
equal at least to the other topics you list.

Also high on my list : Coverage (of types of knowledge) and Reuse (in
other formats) are also high on my list.

Coverage : we've stopped creating new projects.  There are still
massive areas of knowledge not covered by existing Wikimedia projects.
 What does this mean?

Reuse : in formats other than one article per topic, online or off;
most works or processes which involve knowledge could benefit from
direct use of WP material, yet most do not use it directly, for
awareness, license confusion, or other reasons.

> First, let me note that Lennart Guldbrandsson and others have pointed
> out to me that Participation is itself a sub-set of Quality. I agree:
> the purpose of participation is to increase quality.  (We are here to

Was this discussion in another thread?  I'd like to see Lennart's and
others' rationale here.*


* I do not think Participation is a subset of Quality.  It could be
considered a complete subset of Reach, if the latter is interpreted
broadly.  Within reach, splitting reading and contributing may be
reasonable (I assume your intent above was that participation means
editors/conversers/lawyers/scripters).  For me an eventual goal is
that every person becomes a contributor (or understands what it means
to be a potential contributor).  I do not agree that the primary
reason for this is to increase quality.  For instance, new ideas and
directions, and increased reuse through personal affiliation with the
project, are both higher on my personal list of advantages to higher

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