[Foundation-l] Communication

Noein pronoein at gmail.com
Wed Jun 2 23:23:38 UTC 2010

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I've been watching the dialogues between the WMF and this mailing list
for a while now and most of the conflicts are the same: bad
communication. This is apparently not due to individuals but institutional.

 I'm still ignorant of many aspects of the internal mechanisms and
interactions of the WMF, its projects, chapters, communities, sites,
tools, pages, agendas and mailing lists and to be honest I think it's a
One has to invest months, maybe years of investigation to really know
where he should be communicating, searching or waiting for certain kind
of information. Maybe these very considerations should be put instead on
the meta, on the strategic, on the village pump, on another mailing
list, or on several lists, or directed to the WMF, globally or to
certain dedicated persons only?

So let me ask some genuinely ignorant questions:
- - are there somewhere an organizational map and schematics of the
overall components of the Wikimedia institutions, projects, foundations,
chapters and communities, their governance, roles, duties and
interactions, synthesized in one main page instead of dozens, each one
in a different part?
- - is there one main page instead of dozens for announcements and news,
with a RSS feed system, with selectable categories to choose what kind
of information one wants to follow ?
- - why, simply, the activity of the WMF is not published each day or
week? For example why the Gallimard letter and negociations were not
made public? why the confidentiality instead of a transparency policy?
why the causes, debates and decisions of Jimmy and the board in the
recent censorship controversy were not published in time? I sincerely
don't understand.
- - how a newbie could understand the current activities and projects?
where to start? who to contact?
- - in case of emergency like the Fox News attack, is there a plan?
protocols? a priority channel? plannified meetings and groups of
reflexion/discussion? plannified ways of updating the situation, of
sharing official declarations and resources?
- - are there ways to delegate, federate, synthesize, communicate opinions
and information between each community, chapter, board members?

I don't mean to force a type of governance or another, but simply to
organize the information so it's easier for everybody to know what's

Everything seems so fuzzy and chaotic currently. It seems that it all
depends of the charism of hyperactive community members and the good
will of board trustees. Please enlighten me.

On 02/06/2010 23:49, Mike Godwin wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:15 PM, Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Yann suggests that he (and the Wikisource community) did not know
>> about the takedown in a timely manner; anyone not watching the files
>> or the deletion logs might have missed it if the only note was in the
>> deletion log.
> But of course, the deletion log was not the only notice. And Yann Forget
> knew about the deletions at the time they occurred.
>>  If you
>> can't communicate certain facts during negotiations, why not do so
>> afterwards?
> Sometimes you can. I just did. But of course sometimes you can't, for
> reasons I've already outlined. (There's nothing magical about the passage of
> time that eliminates the disincentive effect of disclosing negotiations.)
>> There is some tension built into this general issue, though; Cary
>> advises that the fr.wikisource project needs to make its own decisions
>> about what content to allow, based on a local interpretation of
>> applicable law -- and then the Foundation deletes content without (a)
>> providing advice on what is acceptable and what isn't and (b) without
>> referring to the local decisions the project was advised to take.
> I'm not sure what advice you think it is even theoretically possible that
> the Foundation could have offered.  Are you suggesting that the Foundation
> is acting as the lawyer for everyone who posts content to Wikisource?  There
> are obvious reasons that is not a sustainable or feasible model.
> You seem to have the impression that the Foundation staff directly deleted
> the content. Actually, I shared the list with Cary, who shared the list with
> community members who implemented the takedown. (I deleted no content
> myself.) So you can see why the whole notion that the takedown wasn't shared
> with the community seems flatly wrong to me.  We absolutely engaged
> community members in implementing the takedown. Yann seems to suggest that
> our actions have been some kind of big secret. The reality, however, is that
> we did nothing in secret, and that Yann in fact has known what we did for
> quite a while now.  We even made it trivially easy to contact Gallimard and
> complain about the takedown.  But I do understand that it is easier to
> complain about WMF than it is to pursue Gallimard directly, even though
> doing the latter might be a more effective choice.
> I'll note also that the real complaint, as I perceive it, isn't really that
> we didn't communicate what we were doing. The real complaint is that we
> actually complied with a formally correct takedown notice, consistent with
> longstanding policy.  Now that it's clearer that we really couldn't make any
> other choice but to comply, consistent with our fiduciary responsibilities,
> the need to complain shifts to another target. I hope I may be forgiven for
> believing that if we had put our compliance with Gallimard's takedown notice
> in a banner on every project page, we'd still face complaints -- likely from
> the very same people -- for other ostensible reasons.
> In short, the real unhappiness here is that we complied with a formally
> correct takedown notice. All the rest is distraction, IMHO.  But as a matter
> of official policy, we will comply with such notices as we have in the past.
> Other contributors have responded to our takedowns by reposting the content
> with appropriate affidavits ("put-up notices"), and we've left the content
> up in spite of followup demands that we remove it.  I do not believe such
> legally correct responses are beyond the ability of contributors to
> Wikisource or other projects.
> I'm
>> not sure how this can be resolved, but surely its a legitimate source
>> for grumbling and not grounds for a personally accusatory response
>> from the WMF.
> I'm not sure what you're perceiving as "a personally accusatory response" --
> I've simply shared the facts as I understand them.  (Did you think Yann
> Forget's posting was not "personally accusatory"? I noticed that Cary and I
> are mentioned by name, personally.) I do share as much as I can, within the
> constraints of law and professional ethics. I am forbidden to step beyond
> those constraints.
> I don't have much to say beyond this.  But I do ask that you not assume
> anything about the takedowns without looking at them yourself.  And I'll
> respond privately to any queries about how we proceeded, if I can.
> --Mike
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