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

Everton Zanella Alvarenga tom at wikimedia.org
Mon May 13 03:02:33 UTC 2013

Hi Philippe,

your message just reminds me a recent message I sent here and a
general feeling about sometimes the wiki community only stressing the
negative aspects and mistakes we all do (contractors, staff,
volunteers etc.)

* Highlight the positive aspects and multicultural comparisons

I must tell it can also be difficult for the community to realise the
amount of work done by WMF professionals (and it is really difficult
to share this), summed up with this environment of distrust makes the
situation be like we are seeing here in this most recent wikidrama,
that can be solved with some patience and, as you are doing here,
messages after a little walk away from the computer no thursty to be
the last voice. :)

It is curious this agressive nature of the momevement seems also to
happen in soem other local communities - at least is what I see at the
Portuguese Wikipedia and some volunteers more involved with offline
activities (no visual editor or similar initiatives will solve that

My best wishes for this particular case and I hope you and other
colleagues will be treated with respect. I know how hard it is after
working hard and beeing kicked in the ass all the time, sometimes by
the very same people, who work hard as volunteers, but put themselves
as gods because of that. (and hey, it is even harder when you also
worked for years as a volunteer)


On Sun, May 12, 2013 at 10:03 PM, Philippe Beaudette
<philippe at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> So, I took Florence's excellent advice and went for a walk (beautiful day
> in SF, by the way - absolutely perfect).
> And I reflected on what I've seen since "flipping the switch" on things
> last Friday.  Here's where I stand, and I haven't discussed this with
> anyone else at WMF, including Gayle.
> At the expense of sounding trite, I think I can safely say "Mistakes were
> made."  Gayle was trying to solve a real problem, and she got a lot of
> advice on how to do that.  But the principle role of a staff member in a
> role such as mine is "to advise", I think, and I'm afraid that I didn't
> offer good advice in this case.  I don't think I gave bad advice - rather,
> I didn't give as good of advice as I could have.  What our leadership
> should be able to expect from staff is that we look at things from a
> different perspective, and I think I failed to get as far out of my own
> head and into other peoples' to offer that varying perspective.  So when I
> say that mistakes were made, I include my role in that, through commission
> or omission, and I sincerely apologize for that.
> With that said: I'm afraid we're headed toward a precipice.  What I'm
> seeing scares me.  I see less and less good faith being offered toward the
> WMF.  One of the arguments that doesn't work for me is "seven years ago the
> WMF didn't make these mistakes" - because seven years ago the WMF was
> paralyzed from lack of strategy and direction.  All of that has changed and
> the WMF is out and aggressively trying things to arrest the editor decline
> and improve the user experience.  And yet, when our talented engineers try
> a data-driven tactic for something that needs to change, they're lambasted
> for forgetting the existing community.  And yet everyone here knows that if
> we don't change some things, things will get very very ugly, very very
> quickly.
> One of the things that must continue to change is the tone on the wikis,
> and the tone (in IRC and by email) between staff and volunteers.  I know
> that volunteers are individual and - in addition to several frankly abusive
> emails I've received this weekend, I've also received absolutely wonderful
> support from volunteers who reached out to make me smile, laugh, or just
> remind me why I love this community.  But the abusive ones absolutely
> *must*stop.  I have never once, in my entire time at WMF, sent an
> email that
> approaches the level of things that I see WMF staff subjected to routinely,
> and I have to counsel over and over that "it's okay, they don't speak for
> the community", but I see the community tacitly support that behavior (or
> fail to condemn it), and it's hard to say with a straight face that the
> people sending abusive mail or making abusive statements in IRC don't speak
> for the community.
> So my challenge and my promise:  I promise to reflect on the experiences of
> this weekend and figure out how I could have offered Gayle better advice,
> given the circumstances, and given the fact that there are some things that
> are not public about the decision, and unfortunately they can't be.  My
> challenge to the community:  think about the tone of what you see happening
> around you.  And if you wouldn't want to see your grandmother asked a
> question like that, and if it would make you feel defensive to see her
> questioned in that tone, then step in and make it clear that the tone is
> unacceptable.  Staff members are people too.  How about finding one that
> has done something you appreciate (come on, there must be ONE) and tell
> them so?  You'd be shocked how much gratitude they'll feel, because you may
> be the first community member EVER to tell them that.
> Best,
> pb
> ___________________
> Philippe Beaudette
> Director, Community Advocacy
> Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
> 415-839-6885, x 6643
> philippe at wikimedia.org

Everton Zanella Alvarenga (also Tom)
"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more
useful than a life spent doing nothing."

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