[Foundation-l] Community consensus for software changes (Re: Show community consensus for Wikilove)

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Mon Oct 31 17:34:22 UTC 2011

On Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 6:54 AM, Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com> wrote:
> I see Brandon replied to this thread several times; did anyone notice
> if the question in the OP (if community consensus is required for
> implementation, where was it demonstrated for en.wp) was answered?

As a matter of general practice, the Wikimedia Foundation aims to be
responsive to the community both before and after the deployment of
software, but it doesn't obtain community consensus before deploying
software which it would like to deploy on its sites and services, nor
does it necessarily write or deploy software changes if a consensus to
do so exists. That has always been the case; indeed, there was no
explicit consensus ahead of time for the vast majority of major
software changes in Wikimedia's history.

Being responsive and applying appropriate effort towards a problem
shouldn't be confused with a constitutional commitment to act only
with, or never against, a consensus in a community. We've never made
such a commitment as a general principle. Some features, like
WikiLove, require community customization to be useful in the first
place; others, like FlaggedRevs, influence a community's practices so
deeply that they require both the community's expertise and buy-in to
succeed.  And of course there are lots of small tweaks and
customizations that communities can request from us, but we can only
respond to them if  they can demonstrate that there's a consensus to

However, if we found evidence that, say, WikiLove turns out to be the
best thing since sliced bread (which of course it isn't, duh -- it's
just a small bit of culture shift), then we might put lots of effort
towards working with the community to localize it and deploy it
globally. As it is, that particular feature is still experimental, and
will likely continue to change shape and application, as we better
understand the dynamics of how it is used.

The partnership between WMF and the community is founded on mutual
trust. If you don't trust WMF, you can - and probably should -
contribute your effort elsewhere, because WMF may - and probably will
- do things you won't like.

Erik Möller
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation

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