[Foundation-l] Discussion duration and the SOPA shutdown

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Thu Jan 19 00:24:55 UTC 2012

On Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 3:39 PM, FT2 <ft2.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:
> It's worth pointing out the discussion was open from 15 December to 16
> January before any close.

No, there was informal discussion going back into December.  "The
discussion" - the concrete, date-attached specific policy and
implementation proposals and so forth - was about 3 days worth.

People talking about it and bandying informal ideas around for a month
doesn't make it a formal consensus discussion.

That having happened is why anyone reasonable here should be starting
from the point that the sense of the community was correctly
identified through all this, which I don't dispute.  But bare sense of
the community is mob rule.  Wikipedia is not a majority-rules, snap
decisions mob, despite occasional resemblance thereof.  It is not well
served when community leaders treat it as such, or the Foundation acts
in a manner to encourage that behavior.

That way lies even more madness and despair, and a break with a lot of
currently very carefully (if badly) balanced precedent and informal

I don't believe the decision was *wrong* - But a poorly made decision
that's right can set a behavioral and decisionmaking precedent that is
in its own way far worse than having made a wrong decision.

There are a whole raft of nuanced issues that were bulldozed in all of
this, ranging from the wisdom of WMF / Wikipedia taking political
stands organizationally, to lack of sufficient consideration for the
invisible third leg of the stool (the readers / userbase), to rapidity
of decisionmaking, to aspects of the community majority bullying those
who for some reason opposed the change.

Again - the decision wasn't *wrong*.  I certainly oppose SOPA,
understand why other organizations blacked out and WMF and the
community sought to do so here.  SOPA is wrong on more political,
policy, and technical levels than I can conveniently count in one

But it can be wrong, and WMF could potentially be wrong to engage in
the advocacy action.  It can be wrong, and the community can damage
itself significantly in making snap decisions on objecting to SOPA.

It can be wrong enough, apparently, to convince its opponents that
opposing it is enough to justify bulldozing the usual Wikipedia
community process.

If people wanted this badly to do it, the actual solid RFC should have
been going in late December or first week of January.  Eventually,
procrastinating precludes reasonable responsible action.  It does not
appear to have prevented effective or community supported action, in
the end, but the reasonableness and responsibleness of the process is
the issue.

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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