[Foundation-l] Proposal for new projects

Robert S. Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Sat Oct 23 15:47:48 UTC 2010

On 10/23/2010 05:13 AM, Samuel Klein wrote:
> Hello,
> WikiHow is a good place for how-tos, and has an amazing community.
> They unfortunately use a license (NC-SA) that isn't compatible with
> Wikimedia projects.  If you want to do something like WikiHow under a
> CC-SA license, you might pursue a new Project for them -- while
> incubating the project on Wikibooks.  As Robert Horning notes, there
> are some examples there already.
> There are other models like HowStuffWorks that you could look at for
> how to organize this sort of information, if you really want to
> organize a new Project.
> On 10/21/10, Robert S. Horning<robert_horning at netzero.net>  wrote:
>> I've never been a real fan with the "new project" process as it relates
>> to Wikimedia, and I find it unfortunate that nothing new has been
>> created for quite some time.  The last major "community-sponsored" (aka
>> the idea originated with ordinary users as opposed to something of a pet
>> project by a WMF board member) project to become a major Wikimedia
>> project was Wikiversity.
> I'm not sure what 'pet projects' you are thinking about.  Wikiversity
> is the last major Wikimedia project, period.  [unless you are counting
> the Incubator itself?]

Actualy, I would count the incubator project as a "pet project" that 
ignored community consensus building and discussion of the nature that 
was associated with the creation of projects like Wikiversity and 
Wikinews.  There were several attempts at getting an "incubator project" 
going and the current incarnation of that concept completely ignored 
previous ideas that were suggested about the idea.  It also didn't get 
created with the "proscribed" new project creation process.  This is 
water over the dam now and I'm not necessarily saying that we can't move 
forward, but a solid incubator building community could have been 
organized along much different lines.

Wikispecies is an example of a project idea that didn't get the critical 
early effort to get it going, and is still sort of floundering.

Previously, nearly all "project incubator" efforts were done strictly on 
Meta, Wikibooks, or as sub-pages in the "User:" space on Wikipedia.  I 
could also mention some of the other "minor wikis" that are associated 
with the WMF including the Wikimania wiki, some of the foundation 
communication wikis, and there are a few other that do serve a useful 
role.  I also hope that I don't have to bring up the creation of the 
German Wikiversity project, which predated English language Wikiversity 
by nearly two years.

There is room for cynicism in how projects are created and it isn't 
always pretty.

>> As I've mentioned on the talk pages at Meta, I wish somebody would
>> officially state on Meta and elsewhere that new Wikimedia sister
>> projects will never be started,
> Whereas I see support of good sister projects -- including avoiding
> duplication of effort and directing them to partners when Wikimedia
> isn't the right incubator/host -- as essential to realizing our
> mission.  So I think we should just fix the process.
> There are at least two good candidates for new sister projects:
> * Wikibibliography / WikiScholar, which has been developed on Meta and
> in a couple of threads on this list
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WikiScholar
> * Wikifamily / Rodovid, which has been working well as an independent
> project but may be looking for more stable long-term support.

What has been the problem with these efforts then?  These are hardly the 
only new sister project proposal to be put forward and to me there have 
been some very good ideas, including some concepts that would serve as a 
strong support role to other Wikimedia projects even if not necessarily 
Wikipedia itself.  My complaint is more that the resistance to these new 
project ideas is so fierce that the best advise I ever give to folks who 
want to create a sister project is to simply don't try, or go somewhere 
else like Wikia.... but if you do don't ever consider that such a 
project would ever become a sister project if that happens.  Once the 
community is already established outside of the sister projects, it will 
NEVER be adopted as a sister project.  I dare a counter-example here at 
the very least.  The Wikifamily/Rodovid example is precisely the kind of 
project that I fail to ever see adopted and integrated into the 
Wikimedia family of projects because of its outside development.  Some 
of the Wikidata efforts are also something that while very interesting 
and useful for the projects are something more likely not to be formally 
integrated into the Wikimedia projects either.

Heck, in the board election campaign process there has been several 
suggestions to simply jettison all of the rest of the sister projects as 
a bad idea and stick strictly with the core Wikipedia support role and 
throw the rest of the existing sister projects out to sink or swim on 
their own.  I'm not saying that this faction of the Wikimedia community 
is necessarily gaining ground, but to ignore that it doesn't exist is 
also putting your head into the ground.  Based upon some comments on 
this list I don't think the "movement" is necessarily dead either to go 
this route.  For myself, I think the non-Wikipedia sister projects serve 
a strong role that can help each other too, but there certainly are many 
folks who see these as distractions.  My point here is that this faction 
is also what stops up the creation of new sister projects and was 
responsible for many of the opposition votes for the creation of 
Wikiversity when the vote was held on Meta... if you want me to name 
names and point to specific statements along this line of thought.

New project creation and organization has been a long time passion of 
mine, and I've participated in the meta discussions including even 
establishing some of the organization for project creation.... and 
project termination on Meta.  I haven't been so active lately mainly 
because of the apparent futility of even trying, and my life has turned 
in other directions lately.  This still doesn't mean that I don't care 
and in fact if a group is interested in getting a new sister project 
organized, I would certainly be willing to share my insight on my role 
with getting Wikiversity going.  While a great many other people were 
involved with the project too, I feel I had at least a small but 
significant role in getting that project from a seed idea to becoming a 
full fledged sister project.  It isn't all negative but it is a huge 
uphill climb and your idea for a new sister project simply must be 
crystal clear and very well developed if it is going to have a chance.  
It also helps to build a community of supporters, which is perhaps my 
main contribution as I was able to find enough supporters of Wikiversity 
across multiple language communities and knew enough about inter-project 
politics that those suporters were able to push the idea on their own 
momentum and sustain the project community well after it was established.

For the most part, well intentioned but naive newcommers to Wikimedia 
projects thinking that simply making an announcement here on 
Foundation-l is all it will take to create a new sister project is 
missing a few steps along the way.  I wish it didn't have so much 
process, but that process can build a substantial enough community where 
even if the WMF were to pull the plug that the community would live on.  
Certainly if somebody wanting to create a new sister project would do 
well to see how Wikiversity and Wikinews were organized prior to their 
respective "launches" and what kind of efforts were put into those 
successful project proposals.  I put those out as examples of the best 
way to get something like this organized, if that is your goal.

-- Robert Horning
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