[Wikimedia-l] Office hour inside out (program evaluation)

ENWP Pine deyntestiss at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 27 03:27:21 UTC 2013


I agree with you on several points, although I think I am more 
supportive of holding project supervisors accountable for problems.

I hope that WMF is paying attention to this conversation. I'll be very 
interested in hearing what Gayle has to say. After hearing from Gayle, 
I may have some questions for Frank.




If we try out a new initiative and it turns out not to work we should  not
regard that trial as a mistake. Rather as something we have tested and
found not to work. Our focus should be on what we should learn from such
experiments, not who we should blame and fire. One of the downsides of a
hire and fire culture is that people who are running a failing project have
a vested interest in keeping it going until they can move on to something
else. It is much healthier if such people have the attitude that ending a
failing project as soon as it is clearly failed is a positive thing to do.
More importantly a culture of willingness to end experiments that have
failed would have seen both the IEP and the AFT killed far more quickly
with far less waste and angst in the process.

One of the things that the IEP and the AFT had in common was that they
required a lot of support from the existing editor community, and they were
seen by some as disrespectful to the existing community because of their
substantial cost in editor time. (Disclosure, I was one of the early
critics of the AFT, but IEP I largely ignored until February 2012 when I
made a number of proposals in edits on Meta, for example
but I found that no-one else was editing the IEP pages there). Another
thing they had in common was that they were top down initiatives in a
community that works better with approaches that stem from the community
and start by seeing consensus.

If we truly want to learn from these two, I would suggest running an
election on meta where editors can lobby for the next initiative. This is
what I'd hoed that the Strategy wiki would foster, and it might have done
if the Strategy debate had been on Meta rather than hidden on a separate
wiki made more complex by liquid threads. Maybe the result would be Global
watchlists, maybe it would be software changes to resolve more edit
conflicts without losing edits (both currently languishing as low
 priorities in Bugzilla). The important thing is that the resulting
initiative would be likely to make a positive difference to the project and
unlikely to share the fate of liquid threads, the IEP or the AFT.


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