[Foundation-l] Fwd: Announcement: WMF engineering promotions and role changes

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Tue Jun 21 00:58:53 UTC 2011

FYI :-)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org>
Date: Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 5:58 PM
Subject: Announcement: WMF engineering promotions and role changes
To: Wikimedia developers <wikitech-l at lists.wikimedia.org>

Hi folks,

I’m pleased to announce the following promotions and role changes in
engineering, effective immediately.

* Rob Lanphier is the Director of Platform Engineering.
* Tomasz Finc is the Director of Mobile and Special Projects.
* Alolita Sharma is the acting Director of Features Engineering.
Alolita has gracefully agreed to take on this role, for which we’re
kicking off a full search process.
* Mark Bergsma is now the Lead Operations Architect, reporting to CT.
* Tim Starling is now the Lead Platform Architect, reporting to Rob.

I’ll explain a bit more what these roles mean below, but first, please
join me in congratulating Rob, Tomasz, Alolita, Mark and Tim! :-)

Let me also take this opportunity to thank Danese Cooper for helping
to build and professionalize the Wikimedia Foundation engineering
organization as Wikimedia’s CTO.  She also set these changes in
motion, and our overall strategy is one that we’ve begun developing
and socializing together in the last few months.

Here’s how these roles fit together. The engineering department is
principally structured into four sub-departments, each headed by a
director who is the functional manager of all people within that

* Technical Operations - CT Woo: Keep Wikimedia Foundation sites and
services running, increase uptime and performance, support code
deployments, and ensure recoverability of data and services.
* Platform Engineering - Rob Lanphier: Maintain and support the
MediaWiki platform; ensure reliability, maintainability, and
performance of our software; lead the release management process; grow
and nurture the developer community and ecosystem.
* Features Engineering - Alolita Sharma (Acting): Advance Wikimedia’s
strategic priorities by focusing resources on specific feature
projects such as the visual editor, or interventions designed to
increase editor retention.
* Mobile and Special Projects - Tomasz Finc: Advance Wikimedia’s
mobile platform and ensure that mobile devices are fully considered
across the engineering development process; execute projects with
strong overlapping requirements (e.g. offline delivery of Wikimedia

We’re also recognizing the importance of architectural engineering
leadership in the development of a mature engineering organization
(which also represents an additional career path for our distinguished
engineers beyond “become a manager”). The three architects - Tim, Mark
and Brion - will work together as follows:

* Brion Vibber, as Lead Software Architect, has key architectural
responsibility for getting MediaWiki ready to be the world’s leading
tool for mass collaboration, by enabling the development of new
technologies like the visual editor (his current priority), real-time
collaboration, improved discussion systems, etc. This also includes
architectural leadership to support bottom-up feature development.
Brion reports directly to me.
* Mark Bergsma, as Lead Operations Architect, is responsible for
creating and communicating the vision and roadmap for the
infrastructure needed to run all Wikimedia projects, for ensuring the
design/implementation of our operating environment is reliable,
scalable, supportable, secure and cost-effective, and for driving
cross-functional alignment, especially with other engineering
* Tim Starling, as Lead Platform Architect, is responsible for the
performance, stability, security and architectural cleanliness of the
MediaWiki platform. Tim is leading potentially transformative
engineering projects like the HipHop support in MediaWiki. He’s also a
key mentor to all MediaWiki developers and is keeping us honest while
we’re pursuing our feature dreams.

In addition, we’re considering the shape of product and project
management outside the Director-level leadership in the department.
Currently, Howie Fung (Senior Product Manager) and Dario Taraborelli
(Senior Research Analyst) are continuing to support our feature
development projects to ensure that 1) development is aligned with
strategic priorities, 2) we’re focusing the development on the needs
of the user, 3) we’re making data-driven decisions and working
effectively with the global wiki research community, 4) we’re engaging
with the Wikimedia editor and reader community on complex feature
development projects.

I’m taking on the role of VP of Engineering and Product Development,
on an interim basis for now. We’re not going to immediately hire
either for that role or a CTO role. Thanks to Mark, Tim and Brion, we
have very strong architectural leadership in the department. Moreover,
we’ve got more than enough disruptive change as an engineering
organization to absorb for now, so we’ve decided that it doesn’t make
sense to immediately bring in a new person to lead the department.

We may decide that it’ll make sense for me to continue in this role,
or that it’ll make sense to bring in a new person 6-12 months from
now, possibly in conjunction with further structural change.

What this means, simply put, is that I’ll be organizing and supporting
the work of the engineering department as a whole, with the directors,
the product managers, Brion and Dario reporting to me, and that’ll be
how we’ll be set up for the near future. My interest is to grow a
strong, visible leadership team that’ll be on the lists and wikis and
highly responsive to the community. I’ll be suspending most of my
non-engineering-related work for the time being.

I’ll be posting more about process improvements, further discussions
about intra-departmental structure, and so forth, in coming weeks.
I’ll also be sharing an updated org chart soon for those who care
about those kinds of things. ;-)

All the best,
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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