[Foundation-l] Community, collaboration, and cognitive biases

Benjamin Lees emufarmers at gmail.com
Wed Jun 9 00:48:13 UTC 2010

On Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 6:55 PM, Aryeh Gregor
<Simetrical+wikilist at gmail.com<Simetrical%2Bwikilist at gmail.com>
> wrote:

> 2) Make sure that every paid developer spends time dealing with the
> community.  This can include giving support to end users, discussing
> things with volunteers, reviewing patches, etc.  They should be doing
> this on paid time, and they should be discussing their personal
> opinions without consulting with anyone else (i.e., not summarizing
> official positions).  Paid developers and volunteers have to get to
> know each other and have to be able to discuss MediaWiki together.
> [...]
> The basic attitude has to be that paid developers are treated
> identically to volunteers, except that you can tell the former what to
> do and expect them to put in more time.  There should not be
> communication between paid developers and the community, paid
> developers should be an integral *part* of the community rather than a
> separate group of people.

I really agree with this sentiment, but it seems difficult to get staff to
really be part of the community unless they're _from_ the community.  The
developers I've seen discuss their personal opinions on public fora
(especially in ways that are accepted in an open community but not in a
business environment—one example would be criticizing their co-workers) have
been those who were recruited from the community.  There's nothing wrong
with having outsiders as employees, but communication is rather different in
the outside world, and I get the sense that a lot of the people hired from
elsewhere aren't necessarily familiar with the Wikimedia Way™ of discussing
things—and even if they understand that it's there, I'm not sure they always
understand that they're supposed to join in.

I recall someone once suggesting that all employees be required to choose a
Wikimedia project and get involved in it.  I haven't thought through the
practical implications, but it always seemed like a cute idea, at least.

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