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

James Alexander jamesofur at gmail.com
Mon May 13 05:50:56 UTC 2013


I'm just going to top post here because responding to you in line won't be
helpful to anybody.The staff ARE held to a higher standard, they are held
to a higher standard day in and day out. If you don't think they are then
you're blind. They get attacked at a level that is NOTHING compared to what
they do or dish out NOTHING. They hold back because they're staff and they
should hold back.

Can the foundation get better? Of course it can, is every single thing
Philippe said still true? Yes, in fact I'd probably be harsher about it.
I'm sometimes embarrassed to be from the community when I read the mailing
list and, less often, on wiki. Even I have to sit down on my hands, calm
down, have a cup of tea and then go on damage control explaining to other
staff members that we need to get better but that the community isn't
nearly as bad as it seems sometimes. I have to remind myself that I'm not
lying when I tell them that it isn't the entire community yelling at them,
just a dozen or two on a mailing list and that they don't represent
everyone. There is no doubt that the Foundation can get better in many
areas, but I will 100% stand by my statement that the way that some
portions of the community (that tend to congregate on the mailing lists and
certain areas on wiki)  is embarrassing and insane. Given some of the
statements that are made I'm not actually sure staff SHOULD respond to
those people, yet they still do in the end because they're staff, and
they're held to a higher standard.

Is it true that some of this is 'the wiki way' and they should 'get used to
it' because 'that's how we treat ourselves'? I'd say that 99%+ of the wiki
isn't anywhere near as bad though I sadly admit that some of it is though
most realize that's bad. The lack of civility on wiki has been a long
running problem we have all known about, yet for some reason some people
have decided that targeting the staff is fair game.

In the US, and most countries I know, employers have a legal obligation to
ensure a "healthy working environment" both physical and emotional. The
working environment for our staff is NOT always emotionally healthy.

On Sun, May 12, 2013 at 10:05 PM, Casey Brown <lists at caseybrown.org> wrote:

> On Sun, May 12, 2013 at 8:28 PM, Theo10011 <de10011 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Try and be a bit nicer please. Gayle is still relatively new and this
> level
> > of scrutiny might be jarring for someone.
> Comments like these have always bothered me.
> Gayle isn't some random secretary or new run-of-the-mill employee. She
> is a C-level staff member who has been here for more than a year and
> made a policy decision that people have feedback on. While the
> feedback may not have come in the nicest form, it is still valid and
> we can't just ignore it because "it wasn't nice enough". As a high
> level staff member in charge of your own department, you need to deal
> with it -- this is one thing that comes with the job, unfortunately.
> It's an insult to Gayle to assume that she will not be able to handle
> criticism or answer people's responses. A C-level staff member needs
> to be able to handle this "scrutiny", even high level scrutiny, when
> they were the one that made the call, and I'm sure she's more than
> capable of doing that.
> [Note that I'm speaking generally -- I personally think Gayle can
> handle criticism and she seems very nice. She also probably had no
> idea this would create dramz. My comment is directed towards the
> general "omg think of the staff member!" response to criticism that is
> systemic in our movement.]
> On Sun, May 12, 2013 at 9:03 PM, Philippe Beaudette
> <philippe at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> > 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.
> This is something that bothers me too.
> The situation is always framed as "poor WMF". Yes, it is true that bad
> faith is assumed on both sides, but I don't really think the community
> (including the chapters) is the only one doing that. A lot of the
> reason the community responds with such little faith or with such
> outrage at the actions of the Wikimedia Foundation is because they do
> not afford them any good faith either -- the community is simply
> acting on the defensive. Many decisions are just handed out, are
> half-baked, or are handled behind closed doors, so people have no idea
> how to respond and feel no ownership.
> If people have no control over a situation, the only way to respond is
> to point fingers and complain. We all work on things together -- there
> aren't many areas that are exclusively community or WMF. If you don't
> let the community do anything to fix a problem or constructively
> contribute to bettering the situation, you're going to find yourself
> stuck with a lot of bad faith and complaining.
> Take the WMFwiki policy decision for example -- was it really
> necessary to discuss everything behind closed doors? Did the action
> need to be taken two hours before the work week ended and before the
> "decision maker" would be out of reach? We're always painting the
> Wikimedia Foundation as the victim, but we're forgetting that they
> definitely have their share of the blame. I realize that we're all
> human, but, at the end of the day, the Foundation *should* be held to
> a higher standard -- they are being paid to learn from their mistakes,
> get things done correctly, and handle criticism. If something is going
> to be controversial, it should not be done on a Friday before work
> ends and then say no one can respond until Monday when someone
> critiques it.
> [Again: I'm speaking more generally. I don't personally care that much
> about the WMFwiki issue, since I'm not active much anymore.]
> We definitely have an agency issue here. The volunteers and the
> community should not be viewed as a lone "aggressor" -- they're who
> the Foundation ultimately report to: Staff => ED => Board =>
> Community. The readers and donors are clear stakeholders, but the
> community is at the top of the pyramid. The Foundation is not
> completely innocent, but when things go wrong, we can't just call the
> community out for complaining and then ignore the reason for that
> complaint.
> --
> Casey Brown (Cbrown1023)
> caseybrown.org
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> Wikimedia-l at lists.wikimedia.org
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