[Foundation-l] Sue Gardner, Erik Möller , William Pietri: Where is FlaggedRevisions?

William Pietri william at scissor.com
Mon Mar 1 06:03:31 UTC 2010

On 02/28/2010 08:59 PM, MZMcBride wrote:
> I finally figured out that the "view history" button in Pivotal Tracker is
> where all the relevant details are. For each of the items I'm looking at,
> Aaron appears to have completed them "2 months ago." But they're not marked
> as finished because you and Howie haven't done so? What's the hold-up
> exactly?

Sorry, I thought I explained this earlier: deploying to somewhere that 
people can see is the current holdup. I believe that something isn't 
actually done until it's has been tested in an environment sufficiently 
like production that you have reasonable confidence that it will work.

>> My point is that drama will slow things down, not speed things up. My
>> long experience is that people swearing at programmers impedes progress.
>> You should decide which you're after. I figure it's progress, which is
>> why I mentioned it.
> Are you a programmer? The programmers seem to be the ones who have done
> their jobs here. This isn't a development issue by the looks of it, it's a
> management issue. And I'm "swearing" at the management (see e-mail subject
> line).

I have not noticed that swearing at other people noticeably improves 
their performance either, but I am specifically concerned that the team 
members will be affected by your tone, whether or not you mean it for 
any specific individual.

If you'd like to swear at me specifically, fine, whatever, but please do 
it off list. In public, and specifically when people who are working 
hard might take it amiss, I ask you to speak politely and 
professionally. Team morale is important to team productivity.

> I watch a live feed of every edit and action to the FlaggedRevisions labs
> site<http://flaggedrevs.labs.wikimedia.org>  and I've been the one doing the
> admin promotions on there since September 2009.
> Can you point to where you're seeing this feedback you're talking about?

Off the top of my head, direct email, plus these pages:


Plus various direct communication from Erik when I joined the project 
about the current state of things. And whatever else Howie dug up as he 
looked into improving the interfaces.

>> The usability team and I agreed with that, as did others, which is what
>> motivated this latest round of changes.
> Where are the comments from the Usability team?

We get together and talk. In the WMF office, mainly. It's faster.

> Who exactly is working on these user interface issues? What are they doing?
> I'm curious.

Howie, Aaron, and Parul all worked on that. The visual design is done 
and, I believe, implemented. There are some language changes going on now.

> And shouldn't I be able to see all of this Usability work at your Pivotal
> Tracker? I don't.

No. The only thing we care about in the end is delivered software, so 
that's all Pivotal Tracker tracks. Upstream artifacts are tracked via 
email and verbally.

>> As soon as we can release to labs and check out the new stuff, which I
>> ardently hope is soon, we'll have some useful data on productivity.
> You "ardently hope"? Aren't you the person in charge of this project?

Sort of. Project manager means I'm responsible for pushing it through, 
not that I'm particularly in charge of it. In my view, the community's 
ultimately in charge.

I expected things to be released before this point, and indeed I 
previously expected to be able to release on the current Labs site 
without issue. Having been surprised before, I hope but do not yet plan 
that I won't be surprised again. I could make up dates, or I could press 
other people to make up dates and give them to you, but I believe that 
to be the sort of BS project management that gets a lot of perfectly 
fine projects into needles hot water.

When I have enough data to give everybody a date I have some confidence 
in, I'll do it. But given that speed is the primary driver here, I'm not 
going to increase the workload of already busy people, thereby delaying 
the project, just to create dates whose value is questionable.

> Unlike the impediments you've been throwing up in this thread and that
> others have been throwing up over the past months and years? Originally it
> was getting the software mostly finished. That happened, and Erik announced
> that any project could request FlaggedRevisions. Then it became an issue of
> user interface (and oh-my-god usability). Then a hardware issue (though that
> turned out to be mostly, if not completely, bunk). I wonder what the next
> boogeyman will be. Perhaps http://bit.ly/djkLDa ?

I don't appreciate the implication that I'm somehow trying to block this 
project, or that there's some grand conspiracy to block it. I want to 
get it done. Everybody involved wants to get it done. None of us 
benefits by not getting it done.

>> If, as seems likely, there are some further proposed changes, we'll be
>> able to estimate development time and project dates.
> You've said in this very thread that "there is no specific deadline." Now
> you're saying the opposite? Estimating "development time and project dates"
> sounds like a deadline to me. Why can't we have one of those? Why can't
> there be a specific date by which FlaggedRevisions will be enabled on the
> English Wikipedia. That's what I'm after.

I understand that's what you want. If it were in my power to give you a 
correct and accurate date, I would do that. It would be a glorious 
relief to me, and it would make a lot of people happy.

However, what would not make anybody happy in the long run is for me to 
give a date that I don't have confidence in. The only real way to get 
confidence in dates is to make measurable, incremental progress and then 
project dates from that. That is what I am trying to do.

>> Everybody is  also keenly aware that this is a high-profile, high-priority
>> project.
> "High-profile, high-priority"? This has been in development for years and
> years and still isn't finished. What on Earth happens to the low priorities?

As a relative outsider, my impression is that all of the WMF people are 
working hard to run a foundation and keep the lights on for one of the 
world's most popular and important web sites. Most of my work is with 
commercial operations, and I can promise you that relative to any 
comparable site, they operate on a shoestring. Why? Because they love it.

Compare it with Twitter, for example. They have taken $160m in funding 
and just added their 140th employee. But Twitter serves circa a third 
the number of web users, and it's mainly a small box where you can type 
in a message for your friends. While the WMF serves how many different 
projects and languages?

So before you do too much of that, it's worth thinking about all the 
other things they are currently accomplishing. And what effect a lot of 
external snark has on that feeling of love that is their primary 
motivator for working there.


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