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

phoebe ayers phoebe.wiki at gmail.com
Mon Nov 30 05:04:52 UTC 2009

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?


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:

which was started last summer then faded out.

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.

-- phoebe

* I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
<at> gmail.com *

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