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

Florence Devouard anthere9 at yahoo.com
Mon May 13 07:51:37 UTC 2013

On 5/13/13 8:54 AM, Theo10011 wrote:
> Hi Casey
> First, I miss seeing you around, in case you are not omnipresent anymore.
> On Mon, May 13, 2013 at 10:35 AM, 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.
> Fair point. I'll concede that one, I might have a soft spot for certain
> people for no apparent reason. Out of anyone else affected perhaps you're
> truly the really slighted party in all of this, and it really wouldn't be
> my place to tell you to be nicer.
> I still find out in bits and pieces how many things Casey handled. You and
> Cary made these issues disappear and made a lot more currently broken
> things function. The cracks seem to be showing more these days, which lends
> credence to a theory that you and Cary might have acted as buffer points on
> some of these things. As both of you became more inactive, minor things
> start generating more friction.
> Perhaps, it's a bit of maturity that makes the difference here, but there
> is no real-world implication of "C-Level" - they have these tiers that
> supposedly imply something in staff but they aren't born different or sent
> to army camps for training - they are just people. You know, people
> fumbling around, making mistakes, accidentally pissing other people off. We
> all stumbled our way here I think, no one started editing perfectly or
> never said a wrong thing or made a faux-pas - I made 4 today. Yes, some
> people handle criticism better than others, but I can tell your from
> witnessing it first-hand that being singled out by ~100 strangers is an
> emotionally taxing experience. Or maybe the gender gap discussions have
> sensitized me too much :P and I'm being biased.
> Lastly, I'll ask again, what was the expectation here? "Yes, I took some
> time out between clubbing baby seals, and kicking blind people, to take
> away flags I don't understand, from strangers I don't know. You know,
> because I'm evil like that" - nothing short of that would have gratified
> the current quest. There are two possible reasons, either someone else on
> staff asked or Ms. Young wasn't provided all the facts and didn't realize
> the implications. Both involve implicating another staff member, the course
> she took seems evident that it's not the road she wants to go down. While I
> don't agree, given her position, I can empathize.
>> [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.]
> You've actually read my mail on those other lists, do you really think I'm
> the one to say "omg think of the staff member!" ? I recall arguing the
> opposite on at least 3 very visible occasions.
> On the other hand, I had deja vu reading Philippe's email. Between the two,
> I think Gayle is far more pensive than Philippe's appears to be. It's
> almost combative. He agrees that he advised her wrong, and then spends the
> latter half chastising the tone on IRC and emails, and ends with a familiar
> sign-off. I vehemently believe he had more to do with this than just being
> the trigger-man. Considering how long he's known Mz, the amount of
> interactions they've had, even the times Mz has helped Philippe. He knew
> the reaction, perhaps why this was done first without warning in this way.
> I would point out "seven years ago the WMF was paralyzed from lack of
> strategy and direction" - and say I can really make an argument that it's
> actually the other way round. The strategy then was to grow. Now it's
> running in every direction and switching mid-stream - you can start from
> global development, to the education program and find a lot in between.
> -Theo

Just as a side comment, I laughed a bit when I read that "seven years 
ago, WMF was paralyzed".

Eck... early 2006, Wikimedia Foundation was hardly more than two years 
old. I would have many words to paint these days, some black, some white 
and many greys. But "paralyzed" would definitly not be a word I would use.

I would urge people who were not part of the Foundation at that time to 
avoid making comparisons "out of thin air".
I know this is usual for higher staff to criticize and belittle the way 
a company was run *before* they came to save it. It is an easy way to 
boost their ego and make them appear saviors and I can not entirely 
blame them for doing that. Fair enough.
Still, I find it more disturbing coming from community members who 
became staff and are directly benefiting from the work done by previous 

Philippe... early 2006... 7 years ago... you were still not even an 
editor. How can you comment on the WMF "paralysis" back then ?

Except for repeating what you heard, a common meme carved to boost the 
current troops ?

The WMF was never paralyzed. It has been through different stages of 
development. And each stage had its challenges. It is completely 
different now that what it used to be obviously. I think you should use 
a grain of salt with the strategy that consist of criticizing the work 
done by people who worked essentially as volunteers to lay the ground of 
what is now strong enough to provide you a paycheck. Stay critical about 
stories of a past you have not enjoyed yourself please :)


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