A Fork in the Road?

Fork-In-The-RoadI’ve been watching the MediaViewer debate unfold with uncharacteristic silence. I figure every point to be made has been made by others far more eloquent than I. Just to get my opinions out of the way:

  • I share most of the concerns with MediaViewer.
  • I believe that the way the WMF and the broader community collaborate to develop and release software going forward is the bigger issue by far.
  • I don’t think that adding another level of privileges to Mediawiki is a good solution to any problem.
  • Having had to make go/no go decisions on software releases myself, I reserve rollbacks for releases that break existing use cases with no workarounds. Since users can opt out of MediaViewer, I don’t think that a rollback is called for where it has already been deployed.
  • I believe that MediaViewer can and will be a great addition to Mediawiki.
  • I know that development cycles are long, that big changes have been made at the WMF since the MediaViewer project was kicked off, and that Lila was appointed specifically for her expertise in managing software releases. Patience may pay off now, even if it hasn’t before.

As far as I can tell, with the possible exception of the necessity of a rollback, my beliefs are consistent with those of most people speaking up on wikimedia-l and elsewhere. If this post were just about these issues, I’d leave it at “+1”.

There is one plot twist here that I’d like to add something to. In my opinion, the Letter to the Wikimedia Foundation is the best thing to come out of the MediaViewer debate by far. The letter is very well written, and it captures the sentiment of many members of the community. I think it’s possible to misread “for the first time, a software feature has been designed to take the ability to edit pages away from Wikimedia project communities,” as the new superprotect privilege having been introduced to prevent edits to articles. As far as I know, it has only been applied to a JavaScript file. Of course, JavaScript files are a part of the software as opposed to content served by the software, but I’m sure the supporters are aware of that distinction.

It’s the number of those supporters that really blows my mind. 500 and counting! This is exactly the kind of community engagement and outreach that can revitalize the project. That’s 500 voices rising in unison to say that the Wikimedia Foundation should 1) remove the “superprotect” status recently enacted on the German Wikipedia’s “MediaWiki:Common.js” JavaScript page and 2) clearly assert that it will permit local projects (such as German Wikipedia, English Wikipedia, and Wikimedia Commons) to determine the default status of the Media Viewer, for both logged-in and non-logged-in users, uninhibited. This specificity really gives the community something of substance to rally around.

Where this letter comes up short, however, is in consequences. A fork is mentioned somewhere. That’s one possibility. Or maybe mass retirement? Another option would be that everyone who signs the letter will refuse to donate money to the WMF going forward. Or maybe it makes sense to leave the negotiating table by refusing to discuss further collaboration until these demands are met? There are lots of candidates, but the letter ends on a rather weak “but we need the Wikimedia Foundation to act decisively before it is possible to move forward effectively.” If I’m asking what exactly this means, my guess is that the WMF isn’t sure either.

When I created a petition to allow Greg Kohs to attend all open Wikipedia conferences, I wrote it as a pledge that supporters would refuse to attend any event to which Greg was banned. Of course, it can be harder to get signatures that way; after all, the signees must accept some consequences for themselves, too. For example, since I created that petition, Greg revisited a statement that would have been a showstopper for the petition if not for what seemed to be a very sincere apology. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t create a petition supporting Greg by name now, but I still believe that Wikipedia conferences should be open to all and I committed to my beliefs by signing the petition along with some 30 others. Just imagine what could be accomplished with 500 community members deeply and demonstratively committing to a cause like we have!

However this plays out, we’re at a turning point for both the WMF and the community. The WMF has new leadership. The community has proven that it can rally significant support around a cause, although more needs to be done to clarify the members’ commitment to that cause, IMO. The question now comes down to whether they will be navigating this tricky terrain together or turning their separate ways.

,Wil

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20 thoughts on “A Fork in the Road?

  1. Abd says:

    The decisive action is clear, and it is listed as two actions: remove superprotect, and “assert that it will permit local projects to determine the default status of the Media Viewer.” I signed the letter, but do not agree with the second. One needs to understand the controversy; it’s not difficult for me because of my decades-long study of organizational structure. There are two “entities,” the “community” — which is not necessarily coherent, and which has defective organizational structure — and the WMF, which is a corporation with clear power and control. The WMF cannot, in fact, leave final decisions to the “community,” not as the community is now constituted.

    The first item is simply for the WMF to withdraw its assertion of exclusive control, with a return to the status quo, to be followed by discussion. In the end, the WMF has and must have the legal right to decide, but that does not mean that it should behave as if it has ”exclusive right,” and for it to go ahead, assert control, in the face of extensive opposition, with “we can discuss this, but we are in charge and we are not going to change our position” is unnecessarily confrontational, and it is simply no surprise that so many reacted as they did.

    That the WMF appears to have been caught flat-footed would show that the WMF has lost its institutional memory. That happens. The community has reacted that way in the past, in an incident that I summarize as, tongue-in-cheek, “You can take away our academic freedom, but don’t take away our porn.”

    The second item goes too far and places final decision in the hands of the community, which is an incoherent body with no reliable means of expression. I have suggested that the WMF facilitate the formation of coherent structures that would allow the true negotiation of widespread consensus, efficiently, and I predict that this will eventually happen. However, even then, the buck stops with the WMF, as the legal owner. What will happen, with functional structure, is that the community will much more powerfully and coherently advise the WMF, and the WMF will routinely follow that advice, because it would be crazy not to. The same structure will also give the WMF a means to coherently and powerfully advise the community. You will never again see something like the situation with superprotect. Unless the WMF somehow and suddenly becomes really dumb.

    Suppose you are a for-profit software company. Somehow your customers become organized and able to coherently advise you. Will you defy them without necessity?

    Let’s take this to something very close, Wil: Offwiki. On Offwiki, you declared that the community would decide about a user ban, then, next day, you decided, forcefully and radically. What happened? The end is not visible, of course, because you may, eventually, actually create Offwiki 2.0, but your momentum has probably been demolished, and you effectively killed Offwiki 1.0 with that and similar unilateral actions. Was that a wise decision? What do you think?

    For now, the WMF can and should withdraw superprotect — it is only a tool necessary to enforce the WMF position on something against community opposition. It may decide to allow the assignment of superprotect to be up to the local community, and the WMF can always monitor this to ensure that the privilege is not abused. The WMF can reimpose superprotect within minutes if needed. It has the big stick, that stick cannot be taken away, but it should speak softly and assuringly and behave accordingly.

    As to the second matter, It should assert, firmly, that, absent emergency, it will strongly avoid unilateral decisions against consensus, but intends to be advised by the community in all matters that the community believes affect community interests. That is not a surrender of the right and responsibility of decision, but it would be highly assuring, particularly if the WMF then shows that it is actually listening and responsive.

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    • John Lilburne says:

      [Suppose you are a for-profit software company. Somehow your customers become organized and able to coherently advise you. Will you defy them without necessity?]

      This is web2.0rhea. No company with a sense of what is correct listens to its current crop of commentards. Does facebook listen to the cries of rage when it changes its user interface – no it doesn’t. Does Yahoo listen when it changes its style and interface on flickr – not much at all they tweak around the edges but the essential changes remain. I’ll give you the example of when flickr took away the German’s porn access, did they threaten to go elsewhere yes they did, did they cause a ruckus across the intertubes yes they did, do the German’s have porn access on flickr no they don’t.

      The problem here is that the WMF software implementations appear to be buggy. BTW the media viewer is neither here nor there. For the casual user it appears to work and that is what really matters. However, I’ve not really used it in anger nor am I adding any images to commons etc. But hey they get over the wiki markup crap so it aint as if they aren’t used top dealing with poorly thought out interfaces.

      For all the brouhaha on the mailing lists, the talk pages, arbcom, and everywhere else only a handful of people are involved and of them it is mostly the usual suspects. But hardly any of them are going to take their ball away.

      If the WMF had any spine and had any confidence in what they do they’d put a stop to all of the so called ‘community’ whining. Each one of the drama whores are replaceable, if they go no one will miss them.

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      • Abd says:

        John, something is missing in your comment. I did not write about commentards. I did not write about a company being dominated by the few who complain the loudest.

        I wrote about customers “somehow” becoming “organized” and able to “coherently advise” the company. This is a very generic comment. The Wikipedia community is not coherently organized. Discussions are heavily vulnerable to participation bias. Short of generating a train wreck, there is no functional way to consult the entire community, to develop “coherent advice.” And then the advice you get is a mess, but it is possible to discern signals in it.

        “Coherent advice” is advice with high consensus among those informed, that is also high general consensus through trust in those who are informed. It requires a functional structure which is usually missing, and is certainly missing on Wikipedia. It’s obvious that the reaction to superprotect represents a genuine general response.

        Coherent advice will be presented through one or a few representatives. A larger discussion will only take place when there is some breakdown.

        Your advice, if followed, would represent the WMF denying its original mission, which was to empower the community, not disempower it as you would have “spine” dictate.

        Largely, the real community is not empowered, it’s asleep.

        Superprotect disturbed that sleep, creating some window of opportunity. The usual sequel is that when the obvious danger is past, it will then go back to sleep. At some point, however, it will wake up and stay awake. That’s going to take what we call “structures for fulfillment.” It doesn’t necessarily happen naturally. Naturally, we want to go back to sleep, to bask in the sun, enjoy our food and our families, and what is this encyclopedia fuss? Read it or don’t! What’s the big deal? Stop arguing, go away, shut up, it disturbs my day. tl;dr.

        Sure, if a company is sure that it’s right, and that what it wants to do is better for the company than what the customers understand and want, it could defy a genuine customer consensus. However, if you are going to shoot the King, don’t miss!

        (If you are going to tell the King that he’s full of it, hope for a wise King who will ask for evidence, instead of cutting off your head.)

        In fact, sane companies spend a lot of money to understand what the customers want. That process, though, does not create the intelligent representative advice of the customer I’m talking about. and some companies would be afraid of an awake and aware customer base. What if they decide to support a different company? However, I saw a software company go for it, and support customer organization. As a result, they became a highly responsive, large, and successful company, as other companies were going down, and, in fact, they bought a major competitor. They went public and it went well. And I got free software for life. A $10,000 package. Cheap for them, their gain was in the hundreds of millions.

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        • John Lilburne says:

          [which was to empower the community]

          They don’t have a community. They have a huge group of readers, a large number of independent editors, a tiny group of vociferous commentards, and a miniscule number of people riding the gravy train in divers Chapters. They could dispense with the two later groups (which is probably actually one group) call the two other groups the ‘community’. Problem solved.

          Yes you listen to your existing customer base, you take on board their issues and problems, but most importantly you want to know why your non-customers aren’t customers. Your existing customers like things the way they are, mostly they’ll put up with all sorts of squeaks and rattles, they will have become accustomed to a complex and creaking UI, and mostly they want things to improve but to never change.

          Several years ago we made a fundamental change to our UI, the support desk was inundated with complaints, the sales people were being called by customers, the user groups meetings were bitching. We thought that the newer way was better, the code underneath was better and more flexible, the UI had a lot of potential for expansion. The development director sent out the following message through all the channels “Least there be any misunderstanding, the old way is not returning.” this was on a $25K software package. You need to have confidence that the changes you make are correct for the long term.

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      • wllm says:

        I agree, with the exception of what you’re describing as not being a community. Of course it’s a largely dysfunctional community, because of some aspects that you already call out, along with many others.

        Given the state of affairs that the WMF had no small part in- after all, I haven’t heard anyone at the WMF say that MediaViewer is a great piece of software- it seems that Lila has chosen the least worse option to move forward. The real solution to such problems begins with deep collaboration with the community before the first line of code is written. At the very least, a suitable development process would have gotten the community more involved and invested in the success of MediaViewer.

        I’ll confess to an ulterior motive, which I doubt was lost on anyone in the original post. While I think that the community engaging in broad consensus building (which, as we both know, united some people who can’t stand to be in the same room with each other under one cause) is an incredibly positive development, I wanted to show that such consensus is much easier to build in our community in opposition to something. I don’t think there would be any significant consensus behind a positive action to remedy the situation. To be sure, most members of the community would think that forking Wikipedia over something like MediaViewer is going way too far.

        In the end, this community has a far bigger bark than bite. I’d like to see that balance change, because all that barking that is scaring off new contributors. A quieter and more certain assertion of power would be more effective, but I don’t think that this is possible in the community as it now stands. And if it takes something like a power struggle with the WMF to get the community to get behind positive changes, then I’m all for it. Alternatively, the community could put a modicum of trust in the WMF to see if the new leadership will present effective leadership going forward. One thing is clear to me; this community hasn’t seen effective leadership from the WMF for years- if ever- or we wouldn’t have gotten to this point in the first place. I know enough about Lila to say that the community has a pleasant surprise in store.

        ,Wil

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  2. wllm says:

    Good to hear from you again, Abd.

    I agree with you on everything you’ve said. In fact, I think you’ve said it much better than I would have.

    The situation quickly escalated to nothing less than asserting the roles and responsibilities of the WMF and the community without any clear guidance beyond loose precedents for who gets to make final decisions if the two don’t agree. And I think you’re spot on when you say that the solution lies in avoiding a winner vs. loser confrontation.

    You didn’t address it explicitly in your comment, but I’m sure you’re aware that much of this is dependent on trust. In its every action, the WMF must keep in mind that trust is accumulative, and they have a lot of accumulating to do. Given the leadership changes at the WMF that could disrupt long established dysfunctional patterns, I believe the community serves itself best by giving the WMF opportunities to win their trust little by little. And you’re absolutely right, the WMF does have the biggest stick of all. They have the bomb in the form of the domain and the keys to the servers. The community needs the WMF’s trust as much as the WMF needs theirs. There is a circular dependency here that defines the Wikipedia ecosystem: the WMF needs the community, and the community needs the WMF. If one hurts the other, they hurt themselves at least as much. There is no winner vs. loser confrontation to be had here. The confrontation that the two parties are currently moving towards can be described only as a loser + loser situation.

    The comparison to Offwiki is interesting and apt. What I find most interesting, however, is your insight on my motivation here. Most people would probably predict that you would be the first to declare Offwiki dead, because you would stand to gain more satisfaction out of its demise than anyone else. In fact, you’re the first person I’ve heard from to allow for the possibility that the Offwiki 2.0 effort is not dead. For what it’s worth, I allow for the possibility that you would get no satisfaction whatsoever from Offwiki going silent.

    Indeed, while Offwiki 1.0 is more or less dead, work on Offwiki 2.0 is the main reason I’ve been so silent over the past few weeks. It seems that even on matters that you and I disagree most about, you still have more insight on the workings of my mind than others. Our shared experience with ADHD may or may not be a significant factor in this dynamic. But considering its profound effects on motivation and dulled- if not oppositional- reactions to peer pressure, it stands to reason that it is very much in play. I still wonder if ADHD is something that can be intellectually understood by non-ADHDers to better predict ADHD-driven behavior. I’ve tried to explain it to others, but I’ve only gotten through with the most superficial behaviors that don’t help much in prediction and are usually framed as downsides. Stuff like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and garrulousness on topics that interest us. I wonder if you’ve had more success explaining the aspects of ADHD that can be used to understand and predict our behaviors with more accuracy and/or could be understood as positive traits by non-ADHDers. At this point, I’ve all but stopped trying. Anyways, that’s a different conversation entirely.

    ,Wil

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    • Abd says:

      Offwiki was mentioned here because it was an example of owner domination damaging the project. Starting Offwiki with ideals of the community making decisions, generating coherent advice about the future of the WMF, you then reproduced much of the dysfunction similar to Wikipedia history. Offwiki was an opportunity, and the opportunity may have been lost. But I don’t gain satisfaction from that, because my training is in a very different direction, I place no value in being “right.” I don’t even believe in it.

      What happened on Offwiki was useful as a demonstration of many characteristics of wiki community. Are you aware that you would be welcome on beyondpolitics.org? Right now, BP is only registration with permission, because we are not going to repeat the same error you made, of opening, full-on, without having resources in place. I’ve run wikis before that were completely open. Too open. Spam, in a word. Not sustainable. In the Offwiki territory, there are also many who would dislike your success. BP’s goal is the facilitation of consensus, and facilitators take strong stands, and maintain and protect them.

      Those stands, however, do not dominate the “customers.” They empower them.

      I’m involved in the training of leaders. What I do is called “dominating,” sometimes — another leader just said that in a mock, and he was also referring to himself — but really I’m enthusiastically assertive, as is he. The result is empowered leaders, not Abd clones. As I gain more skill in this, I listen more and say less. But, in writing, I’ll probably always be tl;dr for many, except where I deliberately write polemic.

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      • wllm says:

        Well, you also show your own immunity to peer pressure in tl;dr comments. It can be a good thing, as the first comment on this blog shows. But it can also be frustrating for many, including me.

        As far as Offwiki goes, I think you’re right. By the time I decided an Offwiki 2.0 was necessary, I didn’t see many other options. Offwiki 1.0 had become profoundly unfun for me and many others. And my absence has shown that Offwiki 1.0 was not self-sustaining in its current form. And, to be fair, you found yourself on one side or the other of most of the conflicts that made Offwiki 1.0 so unfun for everyone.

        I’m doing a post-mortem on 1.0, and there will be significant changes to governance. Also, many of the lessons learned from 1.0 will provide more definition for the purpose and workings of 2.0 out of the gate. I’m anxious to see what difference this new approach will make, but I’ve also gotten very busy IRL, so I’ll have to have some patience while I put 2.0 together in a form that will work better for all.

        ,Wil

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  3. gh says:

    here are some impressions that could be useful for further discussion
    and solution-finding:

    MISCONCEPTIONS – SITUATION AFTER ESCALATING TO A GENERAL

    DISCUSSION ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHAPTERS AND HQ

    The Situation (this is feedback – think about it and find out if you
    think it applies to you or not – no sense in dis/agreeing):

    Misconceptions from WMF-side:

    1. Editors: Those “volunteers” making a lot of edits and helping
      out in the community are – even when they sometimes act like your
      14-year old son or daughter – not children, customers or interns,
      they are your BUSINESS-PARTNERS.
    2. Users: Those using the information stored need other tools than
      those editing, as there IS a discrepancy between those two groups.
      Still, they are Users and not CUSTOMERS (the difference being that
      users do have the possibility to participate).
    3. Content: The information provided is not a product, it’s a work of
      love – this includes the form it is presented in. Accepting that
      others mess with it, is hard enough, if the “procedures” are followed,
      that are cumbersome for a reason – sidesteping controversy with
      “super”powers is not a good idea – especially because it is tempting
      (for me to… think of all the time saved by it) and will be used
      more, if available (don’t think you are better than the rest – if a
      tool is established and works, you will use it more often – look it
      up).
    4. Global Perception: You are not seen as the “leaders” or
      “managers” – you are seen as the Tech-/Community-Support. If you
      compare these two perceptions, a lot of criticism will get clearer. So
      please once and for all state what you really are and what you are
      not, which rights you reserve, where autonomy ends and so on (this
      might hurt the movement short-term and lead to forks…).
    5. Money: Donations are not for shiny new tools, they are – at least
      under continental european law – bound to a purpose – which is to keep
      the site up long term and only then – develop and hire. Don’t
      underestimate

    Misconceptions from Community:

    1. WMF: No, the WMF is not a business – not really (this
      from an Europe-centric perspective, where this attribute is not a
      virtue).
    2. Money: No, the WMF is not misusing the money – they have just
      grown to a certain number where there is some overhead. If we really
      want to support this “business-model” might be open for discussion.
      But they keep up the servers and even have enough left to pay over 100
      employees…
    3. Ownership: The WMF does not own the content nor the code. The only
      thing they “own” under US law is a trademark. The validity of this
      trademark in Europe is still undecided as there have not been any
      cases clarifying this peculiar situation.

    Part 2: The Fork

    Just to play around, here some thoughts on the validity of a fork from
    the german-speaking content-sites. To clarify – I don’t want that and
    would not advise anyone to go that way but it’s importat to know:

    Hosting

    Central Europe still has some of those large Universities which are
    larger than PenState (e.g. Uni Wien – University of Vienna). To play
    it through with Uni Wien as an Example: they sit directly at the
    backbone, have a large and open server infrastructure and could (at
    least that’s what they told me) easily take the additional
    visitors.

    Finance

    The “Vereinsrecht” (NGO-Laws) and the Lax Laws offer a lot of
    options. Donations given to the local “Verein” for a purpose might not
    be allowed to easily be transferrd to a third-party (see the
    LIONS/ROTARY controversies between the US HQ and EUROPE as legal
    precedent).

    Further, and in the context of our University-hosting example, a lot
    of indirect funding through grants and content that is prepared by
    official state archives/unis for wikipedia could be redirected through
    such actions (actually that would be the main purpose).

    Lastly, through the publicity generated, Users would be more aware and
    able to choose.

    Strategy

    As seen by download-jurisdiction, it is important to generate public
    awareness for the alternative while at the same time disabling access
    to the content on the main site… If one side would start legal
    proceedings, access to the site in question could now – after we
    idiots allowed blocking to be enacted in Europe – be frozen for the
    duration – great for alternative sites – a horror vision for the
    movement.

    Part 3: Solutions

    final part of three – I think after all this gloom I do have to
    propose some solutions too:

    #1 EASY but hard on the ego

    Only activate the pretty viewer on mobile devices per default. See
    – easy. And those german wikipedians, who are “in Europe but
    certainly in the global south (GerardM)” can live happily ever
    after as well as those tablet driven southern rascals who are the
    future. Give the chapters some clearly defined discretion
    concerning feature-activation. Define the difference and rights
    (!) of the community concerning tech decisions, management stuff and
    content-specific decisions.

    #2 HARDER but easier on the ego

    Just set it active but don’t hinder admins to deactivate it after
    local RfCs. Get rid of the – now – poisonous superprotect.

    #3 DESTRUCTIVE but great for the ego

    Have fun showing those volunteers who got the power. We got the
    money, we got the last say, we have superpowers! I mean – really?

    ##Part 4: PS

    to show that this is something cyclic, that is happening all over
    the place and in all types of organisations, here some examples of
    other community vs hq processes. Some helped get a more robust system
    in place, others just lead to a fork.

    #1 EVE ONLINE

    Situation: Space Sim, you fly spaceships. Management wanted to
    implement an avatar to make it “more attractive” to new players.

    LOW: Subscriber numbers went down, CCP had to downsize.

    HIGH: Establishment of a player council, which takes part in decision
    making processes and also has a say in new tech features (hear hear).

    #2 OPEN/LIBRE OFFICE

    Situation: Business interest and top down management decision angered
    community – noone wanted to step down.

    LOW: Fork, Sun lost.

    HIGH: Man, libre office has all the nicest features and the apache
    foundation keeps open office up too.

    I just post this to show you the chances and dangers of this situation
    – if handled right it can be an asset – or not.

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    • wllm says:

      You make some interesting points. One thing that you touch on that gets me thinking is the fact that the software requirements for editors are very different from that of readers. Perhaps MediaViewer is too much of a one-size-fits-all solution, and the WMF should consider building different or extending more basic versions of such tools that meet the needs of editors more squarely as an opt-in or “editor default” option. This may have the beneficial effect of encouraging users to create accounts for access to more powerful tools.

      As far as the relationship between the community and WMF goes, I think that both need to see the circular dependency at hand and keep it in mind for all decisions. In other words, for these two, what goes around comes around- very quickly and amplified if neither party is working toward de-escalating the situation.

      The suggestions that you’ve made here as guidelines for attitude adjustments on both sides make sense to me.

      ,Wil

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  4. Abd says:

    In some discussions of the superprotect affair, commenters seem to treat the WMF and the Community as if these entities were both responsible adults, so to speak. The WMF is a legal person, and there is a reason for that distinction. It has a coherent structure, with two levels of strong authority: an Executive Director, who makes ad-hoc decisions, and a Board, which supervises the ED. The Community, in a sense, is a fiction. It’s a large collection of people, who will respond individually and differently. Many people will suggest that the Community do this or that, or, especially, not do this or that. But, outside of certain exceptions, and until a genuine consensus forms, individuals will continue to disregard this advice, no matter how sound it is, or even how well-presented and cogent.

    So the WMF must always be, sanely, more tolerant of criticism, because “the Community” will not be restrained, there are no mechanisms of restraint that don’t cause more harm than good. (I.e., you can block critics, it’s been tried and it’s still being tried — more than most realize.)

    Sanely, the WMF will develop mechanisms whereby the community may more coherently advise it. It will facilitate consensus formation, through an interactive process that is not merely a vote but more accurately a negotiation. It will, in a way, create a community intelligence. In theory, the community could do this and the WMF could not stop it. But, my experience, large, already-active communities do not spontaneously generate the structures needed. It will take leadership.

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    • Abd says:

      What happened to the formatting in the above comment? Entered it normally, I did.

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      • wllm says:

        It looks like all of it got centered somehow.

        ,Wil

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        • wllm says:

          Looks like some mismatched paragraphs tags that gh used were the format breaking perps. If you think that this behavior is far too fragile for a blog, I’d be the first to agree. I’ll cast myself in to CSS hell to fix it when I have more time. In the meantime, everyone please be careful about using HTML tags in their comments.

          ,Wil

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  5. wllm says:

    All right! Now it looks like someone is ready to take action on this matter! Just take a look at this:

    https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:CentralNotice&method=listNoticeDetail&notice=MediaViewerConsultation

    It looks like writers of the letter are planning to display a site banner to encourage every reader to get in to the MediaViewer consultation process. Honestly, I didn’t see this one coming, as the vast majority of users will have no idea what that discussion is all about and probably wouldn’t care if they did. And I hope that all ~700 signees of that letter support this action, because I didn’t really see anything mentioned anywhere else.

    In any case, it seems like some admins have decided now is the time for action.

    ,Wil

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  6. Tim Davenport (Carrite on WP, Randy from Boise at WPO) says:

    Re: On OffWiki:

    “Offwiki will remain in read-only mode until I get around to pushing some critical updates to this site that will better serve compelling discussions about onwiki issues. I doubt anyone will care, since no one edits anything here anymore anyways. While you’re waiting for 2.0, feel free to gloat, crack wise, and/or chortle with glee at my expense. After all, the ideals behind this site may have only been illusions, and sometimes even I have to laugh at my latest windmill tilting exploits. Let’s face it; despite society’s rhetoric to the contrary, there are great reasons to simply not bother. Watching other people try something and fail miserably is really funny, and most of us don’t like getting laughed at. Unfortunately for those who would rather see Offwiki go away, I’m almost always down for a good laugh at myself.

    “I can’t promise that I will ever update this site, much less within a timeline, but I can tip you off to this: unless circumstances change, as time wears on it won’t become any less likely, because lots of people found something they wanted here. I’ve kept the best stuff they left here for others to consider until Offwiki 2.0 can bring them back to life. Feel free to look around.

    “As Hitler once said, a army that refuses to surrender can never be defeated. Finishing his Wikipedia biography is on my todo list right below updating this site, but so far everything’s been coming up Adolf.

    “With all sincerity, best wishes to everyone who contributed to Offwiki 1.0, and while we’re waiting for me to get back on task, let’s take a moment to remember to treat each other with kindness. See you on the other side of 2.0.”

    Hitler also made the mistake of attacking Soviet Russia while already trying to fight a war on another front. Hitler also didn’t ban his top 2 associates or launch a defamation attack of Mussolini or come up with the idea that instead of wearing helmets his troops should wear tinfoil hats.

    Not my choice of tortured metaphors, but you’re the one who went there, after all.

    Just shut the mother down and move along. It’s dead. The same can be said for this blog. Find yourself a new hobby like golf or stamp collecting or online video gaming…

    tim

    Like

  7. wllm says:

    Thanks for the advice, Tim.

    Here’s a bit from me. I know the numbers. A lot of people read this blog. You are making yourself look like a dreary hater with nothing to offer beyond a steady stream of rehashed grievances, and not everyone knows better like I do. If you’re OK with this, feel free to juice my blog’s google rank with comments like these. Just don’t expect a response from here on out.

    Whether it’s apparent from this blog and Offwiki, I ‘m getting to know more Wikipedians than ever; you’ve helped to convince me to devote my time and attention to getting to know those who have the most interesting things to say and focus on what they can do to affect positive change onwiki. As of now, I’m not counting you among them. Best.

    ,Wil

    Like

  8. Happy says:

    Shiver me timbers, them’s some great inioomatfrn.

    Like

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