[Wikimedia-l] The new narrowed focus by WMF (cleaner version), apology

David Goodman dggenwp at gmail.com
Fri Oct 26 00:43:29 UTC 2012

I owe a number of good people an apology. I have worked for several
self-protecting bureaucracies myself, and it
is possible, though not easy, , for individuals to do good work there.
 I never intended to imply that everyone there is incompetent, though
it is certainly my opinion that some of the people assigned to some of
the programs I have been involved in have been.  I admit that my anger
is an inappropriate reflection of my frustration at my inability to
work with those in one particular program.

On Sun, Oct 21, 2012 at 8:54 PM, David Goodman <dggenwp at gmail.com> wrote:
> One obvious possibility for support is the chapters and the thematic
> organizations; even if the WMF continues these fellowships as it
> should, the other bodies in the movement should supplement them--it is
> good to have more than one source of funds and more than one body
> deciding on requests.  But whether their work can be actually
> implemented at those levels is another matter.
> The proposal at meta says "the Wikimedia Foundation was never able to
> resource the fellowships to the point where they could achieve
> significant impact: " I don't think the resource at issue is primarily
> money, considering that in all recent years we have had not only
> surpluses, but greater than expected surpluses.  The resource which is
> lacking is sufficient qualified people at the Foundation to work with
> the fellows and help implement their projects. Rather than get such
> people--which admittedly would require a change in WMF culture--the
> WMF staff finds the easiest thing is to not even attempt to make the
> improvements; it is too troublesome to deal with the good ideas of the
> community, so the reaction is what one expects of self-protecting
> incompetent bureaucracies: diminish the flow of good ideas.
> On Sun, Oct 21, 2012 at 7:57 PM, Steven Zhang <cro0016 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> In my opinion, the value of fellowships in my opinion is huge, and I feel that ceasing to support projects like the Teahouse would be a real shame. That said, I do feel there are other ways that individual editors could get the support they need to work on critical projects. As long as this remains in some capacity, then I think that could work too.
>> Regards,
>> Steve Zhang
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> On 22/10/2012, at 10:25 AM, Jacob Orlowitz <wikiocaasi at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>> A letter in support of the Community Fellowship program from past,
>>> current, and prospective Fellows,
>>> The WMF has expanded profoundly over the past decade, and especially
>>> in the last few years.  Recently initiatives to streamline and focus
>>> the WMF have been undertaken; while these efforts are worthy in spirit
>>> and necessary at some level, one useful if not vital program has been
>>> caught in that process:  The Community Fellowship program.  We would
>>> like to express our strong support of this valuable and important
>>> program.
>>> The Fellowship program is first and foremost a community-based
>>> program.  It selects editors to work on projects -- those which are
>>> novel and have yet to be tried, those that have been tried but have
>>> not been rigorously developed or tested, and those otherwise that need
>>> financial, technical and institutional backing to succeed.  It
>>> represents a direct line of support from the WMF to
>>> community-organized, community-driven, and community-maintained
>>> projects.
>>> We strongly believe that the Fellowship program is a great way to jump
>>> start many projects cheaply, efficiently, and with low-risk.  Most
>>> importantly, because Fellowship projects are community-organized,
>>> there is high potential for their broad community support.
>>> We recognize that the Wikimedia Foundation’s allocation of funding
>>> must reflect the priorities of the Foundation’s annual and strategic
>>> plans, and we understand that the future of the Fellowship program is
>>> at risk under the justification that it does not fit within those
>>> plans.
>>> The Fellowship program of course has a cost, but it is one we believe
>>> is well justified by its impact.  The following reasons explain why we
>>> think the program is a worthwhile asset to the WMF and one that will
>>> ultimately help it succeed in its strategic goals:
>>> 1) The program has a track record of producing successful projects,
>>> with promising upcoming efforts that would be interrupted by a loss of
>>> funding.  Most recently a new-editor community called the Teahouse was
>>> developed directly through the Fellowship program.  The Teahouse, as
>>> well as other projects have targeted goals which often match up with
>>> those identified by the Foundation as urgent, such as new editor
>>> engagement and editor retention.  Other projects besides the Teahouse
>>> have worked on improving our dispute resolution processes, our small
>>> language wiki development, improving the usability of help
>>> documentation, and facilitating cross-wiki translation efforts.
>>> GLAM/Wikipedian-in-Residence positions were pioneered under the
>>> Fellowship program as were studies in long term editor trends through
>>> Wikimedia Summer of Research.  (See the full list of past projects).
>>> These projects are of great value and exist in areas that the
>>> community had or has not made sufficient advances in on its own.
>>> In the works are projects to create a sense of community around the
>>> sorely lacking female demographic, to build a game which would ease
>>> new editors through the maze of skills needed to be effective, a
>>> Wikipedia Library initiative which would outfit our most experienced
>>> editors with access to high quality resources through a single sign-on
>>> portal, and a Badges experiment to employ a proven approach to
>>> recognizing, motivating, and rewarding the efforts of our users.
>>> Without the Community Fellowship program, those efforts may stall or
>>> collapse.
>>> 2) The Fellowship program's core strength is as a laboratory of agile,
>>> community-driven creativity and innovation.  The program has nurtured
>>> projects that require more investment and organization than the
>>> community alone can support, but that innovate in areas of importance
>>> to both the community and the Foundation.  The Fellowship program has
>>> the asset of targeted flexibility and cost-effective implementation.
>>> Fellowship projects require few if any development resources,
>>> substantially reducing their burden on the Foundation.  Through its
>>> varied portfolio of projects the Fellowship program can address any
>>> number of key goals, and do so in a lightweight but meaningful way.
>>> 3) The Fellowship program is committed to demonstrating results and
>>> making data-driven recommendations that help meet Foundation targets.
>>> Fellowship research projects have set and maintained a high standard
>>> for reporting results and making actionable recommendations.  The
>>> Teahouse pilot reports and metrics reports, the dispute resolution
>>> survey results, and the template A/B testing projects are excellent
>>> examples of this commitment to transparency and accountability.  The
>>> Foundation has benefitted from these data: results from fellowship
>>> projects have been featured at Wikimania.  Deputy Director Eric
>>> Moeller’s presentation on supporting Wikiprojects drew extensively on
>>> Fellowship project findings, and E3’s template testing presentation
>>> was based substantially on Fellowship research.  Fellowship research
>>> has been a frequent feature on the Wikimedia blog, and has generated
>>> good press for the Foundation.
>>> 4) The Fellowship program been instrumental to our understanding of
>>> the editor decline, and how to stop it.  Fellowship projects have
>>> yielded many valuable & actionable insights into the editor decline:
>>> such as the negative impact of the gradual increase in newcomer
>>> warnings and newcomer reverts, and the recent decline in participation
>>> in community processes by newer groups of editors.  Fellowship
>>> research has also refuted several prominent decline theories, such as
>>> the theory that the quality of new editors has decreased over time, or
>>> that the workload of vandal fighters has increased.  In short,
>>> Fellowship research allows Wikimedia to prioritize promising work and
>>> make decisions about which decline theories to address based on actual
>>> data, rather than anecdotes, accepted wisdom, or intuition.
>>> 5) The Fellowship program builds good will between the WMF and the
>>> community by spotlighting and bootstrapping community-driven
>>> initiatives.  Fellowships are devised by community members, endorsed
>>> by community members, implemented with community involvement--and the
>>> community reaps the benefits of those initiatives.  The Foundation
>>> gets to play the vital role of supporting projects that otherwise may
>>> have floundered, sat idle, or been ignored completely.  The community
>>> appreciates this and recognizes the Foundation’s pivotal part in
>>> making these projects happen.  Also, not continuing the program would
>>> mean not just removing funding from the recipients of Fellowships and
>>> their projects, but also losing the community infrastructure and
>>> networks that have been developed as a result.  The Foundation is the
>>> keystone to continuing this progress.
>>> 6) The Fellowship program gives the Wikimedia Foundation one of the
>>> only channels to directly fund individual editors.  And not just any
>>> editors but some of the most active, engaged, driven, and enthusiastic
>>> editors Wikipedia has.  Funding those editors directly enables them to
>>> devote a degree of focus and commitment to Wikipedia that they might
>>> not otherwise be able to balance while meeting other constraints in
>>> their lives.  The Foundation has become a recipient of a great amount
>>> of donations, but much of that financial support is unavailable to
>>> individual editors.  There is not yet a grant-making process which
>>> doesn't run through Chapters.  The Fellowship program is one lifeline
>>> to those editors, and it is a good one.
>>> 7) The Fellowship program provides a pipeline of trusted and
>>> knowledgeable editors to contribute to the Foundation's efforts.  Many
>>> of those editors would be ideal candidates for positions within the
>>> Foundation, and the Fellowship program is a great way to identify,
>>> enlist, and onboard those individuals.  Maryana Pinchuck and Steven
>>> Walling were Fellows, as were Liam Wyatt, Lennart Guldbrandsson,
>>> Stuart Geiger, Diederik van Liere, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Melanie
>>> Kill, Aaron Halfaker, Achal Prabhala, Jonathan Morgan, and James
>>> Alexander.  While being a training ground for future Foundation
>>> staffers, advisors, or researchers is not the stated purpose of the
>>> Fellowship program, it is nonetheless a positive side-effect.
>>> 8) The Fellowship program partners with and complements other WMF
>>> initiatives.  The fellowship program enhances programs such as Editor
>>> Engagement Experiments by experimenting with community features rather
>>> than just interface features.  Creating new spaces for new editors to
>>> find help and build community, identifying pain-points in existing
>>> community processes by surveying editors, and organizing cross-wiki
>>> translation efforts are excellent ways of improving the editor
>>> experience on Wikipedia.  Fellowship projects have also benefitted
>>> existing WMF initiatives by providing necessary services: for
>>> instance, the Teahouse has served the needs of students enrolled in
>>> Global Education programs that do not have access to Classroom
>>> Ambassadors.  The impact of the Fellowship program scales and exceeds
>>> the scope of the individual projects to numerous other forums and
>>> facets of the community.
>>> For these reasons, we urge the Wikimedia Foundation to reevaluate the
>>> worth of the Community Fellowship program and to continue it in its
>>> original or a similar capacity.   The Fellowship program is an
>>> impactful, flexible laboratory of creativity which connects the
>>> Foundation and the community's best and most passionate editors.
>>> Having it has been a huge gain, and losing it would be a significant
>>> loss.
>>> Sincerely,
>>> * Anya Shyrokova User:Anyashy, prospective Fellow
>>> * Jake Orlowitz User:Ocaasi, prospective Fellow
>>> * Jon Harald Søby User:Jon Harald Søby, former Community Fellow
>>> * Jonathan Morgan User:Jtmorgan, former Research Fellow
>>> * Liam Wyatt  User:Wittylama, former Cultural Partnerships Fellow
>>> * R.  Stuart Geiger  User:Staeiou, former Wikimedia Research Fellow
>>> * Peter Coombe User:The wub, Community Fellow
>>> * Steven Zhang User:Steven Zhang, Community Fellow
>>> * Tanvir Rahman User:Tanvir Rahman, Community Fellow
>>> _______________________________________________
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> --
> David Goodman
> DGG at the enWP
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DGG
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:DGG

David Goodman

DGG at the enWP

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