[Wikimedia-l] WMF Policy and Political Affiliations Guideline

Risker risker.wp at gmail.com
Fri Aug 3 03:59:59 UTC 2012

On 2 August 2012 21:07, MZMcBride <z at mzmcbride.com> wrote:

> Brandon Harris wrote:
> > On Aug 2, 2012, at 5:45 PM, Andreas Kolbe <jayen466 at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> On Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 12:11 PM, MZMcBride <z at mzmcbride.com> wrote:
> >>> What type of action was the SOPA blackout in January?
> >>
> >> You mean, given the $500,000 Google donation Wikimedia received in
> November
> >> 2011, one month after the Italian Wikipedia's blackout, and two months
> >> before the English Wikipedia's SOPA blackout, and round about the time
> >> Wikimedia first made public statements denouncing SOPA?
> >>
> >> Good question.
> >
> > This is inserting a conspiracy theory where one does not exist.
> >
> > The English Wikipedia community voted on the blackout and directed it
> into
> > existence, not the Foundation. We merely facilitated.
> To be clear, my question isn't about Google or donations or anything like
> that. My question, more directly, is: if the SOPA action from January 2012
> were held in August 2012 (following the implementation of this new
> statement
> from the General Counsel's office), would it be considered a "community
> initiative" or not?
> Given that this statement was written as a response to the January 2012
> blackout, it seems like a reasonable question. Philippe and others have
> indicated that such actions would _not_ fall under this new doctrine. Is
> this correct?

My sense is that the statement is written as a response to the overtures
that have been made to the WMF since the January 2012 SOPA blackout. Like
many people outside of the WMF umbrella (and quite a few inside it, as
well, based on comments we see regularly), it seems that many of these
advocacy groups believe that WMF=Wikipedia.  Those of us "in the know"
understand that there's an awful lot more that is involved, and that there
are widely divergent opinions on many issues between projects and within
the broader community.

It's easy to forget (in fact, most people have forgotten) that the English
Wikipedia community had been discussing some form of action in relation to
SOPA for almost two months before the blackout. The Italian Wikipedia
blackout in late 2011 demonstrated some significant fault lines if a large
project suddenly closes up shop; because of this, I think the WMF
justifiably had an interest in ensuring that if the English Wikipedia
community followed suit, it was done in a controlled way that would not
cause short-term or long-term harm to the actual project. I'm not talking
"reputational harm", but damage to the hardware, software, and data that
are integral to the project.

> The line between what constitutes a community initiative and what's
> considered a request from an outside group still isn't clear to me,
> especially when I consider the Wikimedia Foundation to view the entire
> Wikimedia editing community as an outside group some days.
Ah, interesting point.  My read of this was that the guideline would
consider an initiative requested by a non-WMF community or organization to
be an "outside group", whereas an initiative from one or more WMF
communities, or from the broader general WMF community, would not fall
under these guidelines.  The recent request for comment with respect to the
Internet Defense League[1] would be an example of an initiate that would
fall within this guideline, I think.

I think your questions illustrate the need for improving some of the prose
within the guideline so that these issues are clear to future readers, both
inside and outside of our broader community.  It's quite possible that my
own interpretation is off the mark as well.



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