[Foundation-l] Communication

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen cimonavaro at gmail.com
Fri Jun 4 18:33:24 UTC 2010

Bod Notbod wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 12:23 AM, Noein <pronoein at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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 think you're wrong.
To paraphrase a common bromide in Finnish, I think he
is right, wrong, and grand-daddys long-johns.

> Try to get any sense out of the upper echelons of your phone company,
> your gas providers, whoever gives you your electricity.
> The Wikimedia community is huge. The staff relatively small. It's
> unthinkable you'd write to AT&T and get a response from the CEO.
> Looked at in that light, the WMF is very transparent. The WMF office
> would be incapable of turning over every query the wider public has.
> We're a community and we should be supporting the office folk in their
> roles. They do not have a call centre and nor should they.

I think the big issue is that communication goes upwards,
downwards, and laterally, and those are three issues that
correctly shouldn't be mixed up, when examining how well
we as a whole are doing in the field of internal communication.

> However, should you have a question that needs to be looked at by
> someone high up, my best recommendation is to be a good community
> member. If you have a rep for doing lots of good work on the projects
> you will come to the attention of WMF staff and they will communicate
> with you because they have to come to know and respect you.

Absolutely true, but when the information is going
downstream, there have been instances where there
hasn't been a clear presumption that people in the
various communities themselves know what they are
doing, as a default, taken as a whole.

I genuinely think this is just a learning curve people
who have come from more traditional top-down
organizations have to pass through; and I have seen
very encouraging signs that the staff can learn new
tricks, and are gradually "getting it".

The big unadressed problem is lateral communication
between particular organs. Top-down and bottom-up
communication are things that generally tend to have
a dynamic that is self-correcting (though sometimes
drama-filled). But communication between parts that
are nominally on the same level, is not so easily fixed.

Chapters are organizing as a conduit for such
communication between languages -- though it
has to be said at a snails pace, and in fits and starts.

On the foundation top level we all know that there
is on-going work on how to optimize the advisory
committees usefulness.


Jussi-Ville Heiskanen

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