[Wikimedia-l] Go away, community (from WMF wiki at least)

Gayle Karen Young gyoung at wikimedia.org
Sun May 12 23:58:09 UTC 2013

Hello folks,

So... I caught bits of this while I was on layover between plane flights,
so I've had time to have the multiple reactions that one has (nothing like
an 11-hour flight to think about a situation). I've had time to feel
defensive, insulted, opened, humbled, curious, thoughtful, regretful,

This is an earnest “I'm sorry, I'll do better” and I don't perfectly know
what that looks like yet, because I (and I suspect like you) go from day to
day within in a complex life trying to do the best I can. I'll respond more
later, as I've got some scheduled time a way and like all human beings I
need it, but will circle back when I return to work next Monday.

I was thinking that I would be a very different person if I never made
mistakes. :) In fact, contemplation of that is rather funny if any of you
know me or the circumstances of my life. I could have done the process

I DO sometimes forget we're all on the same side. That's a darned shame. I
do it sometimes because part of my job is to deal with how beleaguered some
members (not all – I'm trying to find my way back to nuance and ask you to
too) because sometimes they ask me for help, because I deal every day with
burnout and chaos and challenging interpersonal dynamics, and I see some of
the downright abusive messages that no person (staff or admin or user or
each and any one of you reading this) should be subject to while pursuing
work they love. (I also get to see some of the grateful messages, the way
we support one another, not just tear people down. That part is /awesome/.)

I find our staff and volunteers that I've worked with remarkable - people
who I'm ridiculously grateful to work with and for.  And I have no doubt
that some of you have experienced staff (myself included) in ways I'm blind
to, and I think there's room for all of us to get better. But I wish people
could see how, even though it's our job, it can be sometimes just
exhausting to try to please so many different voices. Some of you may think
that the Foundation doesn't think about the community – and I think we
sometimes listen so much that it's a little crazy because, as has been
explained to us, the community is not one voice, not one thing, not one
person. It's a vast, beautiful, sometimes conflicted, sometimes coordinated
people working on this enormous shared endeavor. So it's not that community
is not worth listening to, but how and where and to what pieces, and how do
we get better at it and how do we amplify the constructive voices and not
let deconstructive voices (both within the Foundation and without) tear us
down because this work is hard. All our work is hard. I do appreciate the
volunteers who have stepped and kept things going when I was personally at

When I read that I need to remember just who pays my salary, I think a
whole bunch of things (and have the various reactions I have, where both
assume good faith that someone means that and I also look at the
possibility that it was meant to be insulting and provoking). And at the
end of the day, millions of people do and hundreds of thousands of editors
help make that happen. I don't forget that. I do think that I am called to
this role because on my best days, it uses me well – it uses my skills and
knowledge and abilities in ways that I hope are good for the world. I am
not anyone's servant (except perhaps for this cause), and I am deeply

So sometimes I forget we're on the same side, and thank you for reminding
me. Thank you for the temperate voices, the ones who present a point of
view I hadn't considered. As you can likely imagine, I hear more that way.
Most people do.

Someone mentioned that it's easier to lay good ground than to fix something
in retrospect, and that most certainly is very, very true. :) (I really
dislike that other people had to answer for me while I was out of
commission - and my own fault for doing something on my to-do list the
Friday before leaving town. Totally get that.)

So...listening, thinking... also tired, but optimistic, and I hope and want
to keep doing better. This definitely feels like a bit of trial by fire.

Warmest regards,


Gayle Karen K. Young
Chief Talent and Culture Officer
Wikimedia Foundation

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