[Wikimedia-l] Moving forward: a proposal (Re: Community/WMF)

FT2 ft2.wiki at gmail.com
Sun May 12 23:59:01 UTC 2013

I've started a new thread to step back from the long thread, and look
forward towards something that I think we need - or might want - to do.

This is not at all the first time of clumsy handling, or conflicting
actions and perceptions, leading to tensions and drama between the editing
community and foundation. There are some common themes.

As noted by Sue and others, WMF and the community may have different
low-level priorities and motivators. They have a different structure and
legal context. There are different scales and kinds of consequences
possible. Even when contemplating the same issue, the processes and input
of both may be equally valid but diverge a lot. Last, even when a WMF
matter is valid or chosen diligently, the communication aspects of
transparency, consultation, and mutual respect can be missing, and it may
be perceived as very or grossly inappropriate or a breach of unspoken

*This has added heat and fuel to many incidents over many years. Not just
one or a few matters. It benefits nobody that we give no guidance to reduce
or (if able) avoid these confrontations in future, and no one part of the
wider Community can draft such guidance in isolation.  *I think it's time
we addressed it head on.

I would like to call on WMF and the Community (in its broadest sense) to
set out terms, and organize, a formal consultation, to answer these

   1. *What expectations and needs do the Volunteer Community, Chapters,
   and WMF, have of each other?*

   2. *What guidance and guidelines can we agree upon*, that can be given
   to new staff at WMF/Chapters, or referenced by anyone in the Movement, to
   understand how to recognize and deal with situations that may impinge on
   other parts of the Movement?

   3. *In particular, what best practices or necessities can be outlined
   for someone* wishing to broach, consult, and progress an proposal or
   action that may be seen as "unexpected" by a subset of the Movement, and,
   if there must for operational/legal purposes be a "done deal", how do we
   collectively concur these (hopefully uncommon) cases should be approved,
   handled, and discussed/communicated?

I would like the outcome to be a *living document*, like any other major
policy, that can be used to *understand how to reduce friction*, and *"best
practices" and understandings of viewpoints, within different parts of our
Movement*, and thereby ensuring everyone involved is more aware of these
aspects and of "best practices" in working with other areas and "subgroups"
in our Community.

I'd note that policies often contain nuances and don't always imply a
single fixed answer exists. Their aim is to reduce the areas of discord,
even if it can't be eliminated, by outlining what is mandatory, or
preferred, or good practice, or unacceptable, or may be important to know.
I see the result as being a policy of that kind.

I'd note also that although mainly considering WMF and the volunteer
community, it's worth addressing broadly, because other movement
"subgroups" can also have internal decisions capable of this kind of
problem. For example, and in principle, OTRS administrators might one day
make a unilateral decision to limit or alter some aspect of how OTRS and
its team operates, a chapter might make a clumsy or ill-conceived choice
affecting WMF or editorial aspects in a given country, or a
computer/data/system administrator may make a decision about computer
matters, as well. There may be useful guidance applicable to others in the


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