[Wikimedia-l] Fwd: [Wikitech-l] [Tech/Product] Engineering/Product org structure

Philippe Beaudette philippe at wikimedia.org
Wed Nov 7 20:18:44 UTC 2012

One thing that I really like here:  Terry specifically calls out past
projects (ArticleFeedbackTool, PageCuration, MoodBar), as things that his
team continues to support, though in a less structured/rigid/team-based
method (my own interpretation of what he said).  I want to say that this
has been a massive help to me - it's nice to know that features aren't
abandoned when deployed, and that - for the time they're out there - we
still support them.


Philippe Beaudette
Director, Community Advocacy
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

415-839-6885, x 6643

philippe at wikimedia.org

On Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 12:04 PM, Terry Chay <tchay at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> Sry, apparently this message gout bounced :-)
> Begin forwarded message:
> > From: Terry Chay <tchay at wikimedia.org>
> > Subject: Re: [Wikitech-l] Fwd: [Tech/Product] Engineering/Product org
> structure
> > Date: November 7, 2012 11:47:56 AM PST
> > To: Wikimedia developers <wikitech-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
> > Cc: Wikimedia Mailing List <wikimedia-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
> >
> > Quim,
> >
> > On Nov 7, 2012, at 10:00 AM, Quim Gil <quimgil at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >> Hi, am I the only one having difficulties understanding the proposal
> and what it implies?
> >
> >       You aren't the only one. It turns out we use a lot of industry
> terminology, without realizing that we are poorly communicating what that
> means to most people. For instance, I once introduced our Director of
> "Product" to someone and Howie got inundated with a request for help in
> getting them a Wikimedia T-shirt. :-D
> >
> >>
> >> On 11/05/2012 07:03 PM, Erik Moeller wrote:
> >>> we need to split the current department into an engineering dept
> >>> and a product dept in about 6-8 months.
> >>
> >> It is strange to see "engineering" and "product" side by side, since
> (as i understand them) these words belong to different categories.  :)
> >
> >       First of all, this will help greatly to the others (you already
> read it): <http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Staff_and_contractors>.
> >
> >       In this case, the current structure has three separate concepts
> under the banner of "Product": they are product design (i.e. new software
> features <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_design>), project
> management (getting those features out on a schedule), and
> user-interface/user experience/design (in this case, the pixels as the
> actual coding of the UX/UI is in "Features").
> >
> >       On the "Engineering" side, there exists an amalgam of specific
> focused groups with their own directors. The focused groups are: Language
> (formerly "i18n and Experimentation",
> internationalization/localization/globalization is a cross-cutting
> concern), and Mobile (formerly, "Mobile and Special Projects: the mobile
> web, the mobile app, also including Wikipedia Zero). The "area" focused
> ones are: Operations (keeping the lights on), Platform (keeping the code
> working) and Features (ostensibly new features).
> >
> >       (In reality, taking my division, Features, as an example, I have
> teams working on the Visual Editor (actually three challenges: the visual
> editor, the parser, and integrating the two), FR-tech (engineering support
> for the Fundraiser), Editor Engagement (this year: Notifications and
> Messaging), and Editor Engagement Experimentation (i.e. post-edit feedback,
> account creation, new user flows, and analytics to support it), and
> normally Multimedia (Commons, video, UploadWizard). Plus there is stuff I
> haven't counted but take resources here and there: maintenance of existing
> stuff, being available for UI/UX for platform,
> ResourceLoader/ResourceLoader2, the Agora project for standardized UI/UX,
> previous and current Editor engagement projects (ArticleFeedbackTool,
> PageCuration, MoodBar), and MicroDesign.)
> >
> >> Do you mean a "platform" team and "product" team, both filled with
> engineers and other profiles but each one focusing on different things? The
> MediaWiki (platform) team and the Wikimedia (product) teams, so to say?
> >>
> >> Or are you indeed referring to the classical separation between
> "product managers + designers" and "developers + testers"? The first ones
> defining requirements and the second ones implementing them?
> >
> >       I believe what is being talked about is more the latter, less the
> former: a separation of "Product" into distinct teams. Initially that will
> probably be splitting the product and project managers from the UI/UX
> piece. Already, Product works closely with Features (projects), Mobile, and
> Language providing the product management support and design. On doing
> this, it elevates Product Development as a whole to a higher level (along
> with Global Dev, Fundraising, Legal and Community, Finanace and
> Administration and HR, and distinct from Engineering). This does not mean
> that they are separate. For example, currently, Mobile (in engineering)
> works closely with mobile partnerships in Global Development on Wikipedia
> Zero, FR-tech in Features works closely with Fundraising (obviously), and
> none of us can do anything without Finance and Administration, HR, and
> Legal counsel.
> >
> >       Right now, Erik wears three hats: deputy director, VP of
> engineering, VP of product development. As you have noticed from the staff
> and contractors page, "Engineering and Product Development" is an umbrella
> that encompasses nearly half the WMF. While groups like Mobile and Language
> are focused, Features, Platform, and Ops have become "catch-all" areas and
> lack focus. As the groups have grown, fragmentation has increased. I showed
> what Features really looks like above, but I'm sure Rob and CT can share
> similar examples of that in Platform and Ops.
> >
> >       I think it is believed that splitting off a dedicated VPE distinct
> from the demands of new feature release will create someone with the
> wherewithal to focus these groups into a more effective engineering staff
> as a whole. Right now, deducation where directors have more focused
> responsibilities like Mobile and Language, and less fragmented isn't
> possible because Erik has competing things demanding his attention. Hence,
> following a "narrowing focus" mandate. :-)
> >
> >       I hope this explains the decision (or at least, my interpretation
> of the decision :-D).
> >
> >> What is clear from your email is that the current Engineering team is
> underrepresented at a high level and you Erik have too much in your bucket.
> A split and flattening getting more people in the high decision levels
> makes total sense.
> >>
> >> What also seems to be clear is that such reorganization should solve
> the slightly schizophrenic tension of priorities between Wikimedia/product
> and MediaWiki/platform, right?
> >
> >
> >> Whatever the result, I hope we end up with teams where software
> developers, sysadmins, product managers, designers etc are well mixed in
> focused teams going after clear common goals.
> >>
> >
> >       You nailed it on the head. :-)
> >
> >       Take care,
> >
> >               terry
> >
> >
> >
> > terry chay  최태리
> > Director of Features Engineering
> > Wikimedia Foundation
> > “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in
> the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment.”
> >
> > p: +1 (415) 839-6885 x6832
> > m: +1 (408) 480-8902
> > e: tchay at wikimedia.org
> > i: http://terrychay.com/
> > w: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Tychay
> > aim: terrychay
> >
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