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By Resident Mario

Affiliations Committee launches referral for comment on user-group application procedures

The Affiliates Committee this week announced the organization of a community referral for comment, currently open on the meta-wiki, to address upcoming changes to the way that the Affiliations Committee will review movement-affiliated user-groups in the future.

The Affiliations Committee was established on January 15, 2006 by a resolution by the Board of Trustees under its former name, the "Chapters Committee", a board-responsible group whose original mandate was the coordination and organization of the officially legally recognized movement-affiliated chapters, then at an early stage of organization. Following extensive community, Foundation, and Board dialog in 2012 through 2013 on the role that chapters and local affiliates play in the movement, AffCom's scope was expanded to include newly created "user-groups", small and flexible local organizations that need not be incorporated, and thematic organizations, sub-national organizations covering specific topic areas.

There is only one thematic organization at this time, the Amical Wikimedia project, which covers Catalan language and culture. With small start-up requirements, no need for expensive incorporation, and a great deal of organizational flexibility, the growth in the number of user groups, on the other hand, has been explosive—there are currently 31 recognized user groups, joining 41 (far larger and almost mostly older) Wikimedia chapters. Dealing with this influx has been a primary concern of AffCom for some time now: the affiliation procedure used for early user groups was adapted from the one used for chapters, but since the expansion of AffCom's scope it has twice found reason to modify the approval process for the purposes of simplicity and expediency.

This third round of modifications follows along much the same line of thought. The current requirements are: three active Wikimedian editors; information about the groups is published somewhere on-wiki; a "clear purpose and scope", subject to definition by the committee, as well as "clarity on structure"; and the presence of two "contact people" for association with the Foundation. Proposed user groups fill out applications and are assigned committee liaisons who review applications, vet requirements, and then issue approval on the part of the committee—or, if there are irresolvable issues in the application, a denial, something that has so far happened only extremely rarely.

There are now just two requirements: three or more active Wikimedians (defined as having made 10 edits within the previous 12 months) and agreement with a new user-group code of conduct, drafted with assistance from the Foundation's Legal and Community Advocacy department. User groups will now apply using a simple form, a mock-up of which is presented in the RfC. Review will continue to be the purview of two liaisons, but instead of explicitly assigning two committee members to the task, approvals from any two members of the committee will now trigger total committee approval. As the RfC states, "Committee and Foundation staff can watch applications and raise objections, but the aim is to approve the group after a 48 hour waiting period." This is down from a current projected wait time of 2–4 weeks.

More details on why AffCom is seeking community input on this decision is available in an FAQ put together by the committee in support of the process, a document that is likely to be of particular interest to current user groups, which will, pending 30 days in which they may object, automatically be rolled over to the new requirements and procedures schema. Reiterating a theme that has become refreshingly common across the movement (see this month's "State of the Wikimedia Foundation" report), the Affiliations Committee stated that the RfC signals they are "committed to the effort to increase dialogue between the community and Wikimedia Foundation entities. The committee maintains open dialogue with the community at all times, and these changes have been made largely based on that dialogue." R

Still more high-level organizational changes at the Wikimedia Foundation

Executive director Lila Tretikov laid out further high-level changes at the WMF in a lengthy post on the mailing list this week, reproduced in full below:

Dear Wikimedians,

Today we had a meeting at the Foundation to announce changes in our Product and Engineering team structure. They represent the outcome of many conversations with people from across the Wikimedia community and within the Foundation. These changes will organize our teams around the needs of people they serve, and empower them to focus deeply on their audiences to deliver great outcomes.

We’re bringing together our Product and Engineering departments to form new audience teams, reporting to Damon Sicore, our VP of Engineering. We’re grouping core research, architecture, performance, and security functions together, and will begin the search for a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to lead our engineering future. And we’re integrating support for Community Engineering into the broader Community Engagement team. These changes are effective today.

Earlier this year we set out some goals for our work at the Foundation, described in our Call to Action for 2015. These goals came out of conversations with you, and with Foundation staff. You’ll see that the first thing we identified was the need to improve our technology and execution. These goals focused on defining commitments, data-driven decision making, support for community engineering requests, and a commitment to engineering leadership.

The new changes reflect these commitments. We have organized our product engineering around six teams each with unique audiences. This includes a Community Tech team dedicated to supporting tools for core contributors, as well as teams for Editing, Reading, Search & Discovery, Infrastructure, and Fundraising Tech.

In particular, I wanted to share more about the plans for the Community Tech team. The creation of this team is a direct response to community requests for more technical support. Their mission is to understand and support the technical needs of core contributors, including improved support for expert-­focused curation and moderation tools, bots, and other features. Their mandate is to work closely with you, and the Community Engagement department, to define their roadmap and deliverables. We are hiring for a leader for this team, as well as additional engineers. We will be looking within our communities to help. Until then, it will be incubated under Toby Negrin, with support from Community Engagement.

We’re also committed to our long-term technology future. A new CTO will support teams and functions dedicated to performance, architecture, security, privacy, structured data, user experience, and research. Their mandate is to keep Wikimedia fast, reliable, stable, and secure -- and to support the Engineering team in their development of excellent products and features.

You may notice there is no standalone Product department. We are moving away from a matrix management structure. Instead, product managers, designers, analysts, engineers, and others working together will report to the same manager, who will report through to the VP of Engineering. This is because we believe that everyone is responsible for user experience and each team is ultimately responsible for delivering on the product vision and a roadmap. It also gives teams ability to make decisions that are best for their audiences, based on their user’s feedback. This represents a maturation of our organization and processes, and will give each new teams more focus, dedicated focus, and more support.

I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to bring this new structure together. Thank you to everyone in the community, for being thoughtful and honest with your needs, criticisms and encouragements. Thank you to our engineers, designers, researchers, and product managers, who have given us extensive feedback about what works best for you. Thank you to our new team managers and leads for stepping up into new roles. And thank you to Erik and Damon, who have worked closely for many months to make this happen.

You can find more information about this new structure, the new teams, their missions, and leadership, as well as other questions in a FAQ on Metawiki. We will update the Wikimedia Foundation site Staff page soon to reflect these new teams.

These changes come hot on the heels of last week's resignation of Erik Möller, long-time Wikimedian staffer and formerly executive vice president of product and strategy (and a named party in the re-organization effort).

This week in wiki-history

From the Signpost April 18, 2005 edition, "Wikimedia Foundation granted tax exemption":

The Wikimedia Foundation announced last week that it had officially been recognized as a tax-exempt charitable organization in the United States, almost two years after the Foundation was created, with the exemption being retroactive to its founding.

Foundation president Jimmy Wales reported last Saturday that he had received a letter from the IRS confirming that the Wikimedia Foundation would be considered a public charity under title 26 (Internal Revenue Code), section 501(c)(3) USC. This communication, confirming what had long been anticipated, came just over six months after submitting a final application for recognition of non-profit status.

The tax exemption will allow American taxpayers to deduct contributions to Wikimedia on their income tax returns if they itemize deductions. Since the decision is retroactive to the Wikimedia founding date of June 20, 2003, all contributions made to the Foundation since then are considered tax-deductible.

Wikimedia CFO Daniel Mayer noted that unfortunately this came one day after April 15, the deadline for people to send in their income tax returns. He indicated that the Foundation would be emailing individual donors with the information. If the donation is significant enough to justify the effort, an amendment can be filed to take advantage of the deduction for the 2003 or 2004 tax years, and obtain any return that would be due. An amendment is filed with form 1040X (pdf file).

In addition, this may make it easier for Wikimedia to find new sources of funding, since many grant-making organizations make qualification for 501(c)(3) status a requirement as part of their grant applications.

As our March 7, 2005 issue reported just before this announcement, "The Wikimedia Foundation's fundraiser for the first quarter of 2005 surpassed its goals and ended early ... with nearly US$100,000 having been raised." In 2012 the Foundation netted $25 million in just nine days, and this year's total was $58 million—just short of a 500-fold increase in the intervening decade, after adjusting for inflation. R

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Seriously? "common security guidelines recommend hiding the usernames of privileged accounts" and " MediaWiki truly can’t rely on any 'security through obscurity' tactics"? As our article on Security through obscurity article makes clear, "Security through obscurity is discouraged and not recommended by standards bodies". All competent security consultants follow Kerckhoffs's principle and make everything except the system keys -- system architecture, source code, the usernames of privileged accounts, etc. -- completely open. The system needs to be secure against insiders who know the usernames of privileged accounts as well as from external threats. --Guy Macon (talk) 02:29, 24 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Possible correction

 Fixed Having made ten, thanks. ResMar 21:14, 24 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Tags added

  • I noticed after I added <nowiki> ... </nowiki> in an article there was a tag saying so. But I couldn't achieve what I was trying to do without it. I wanted an actual asterisk, not a square like here, to use in the way an asterisk is normally used.— Vchimpanzee • talk • contributions • 18:46, 24 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]
If you mean that an edit filter item was attached to it, I believe that is because VisualEditor has had a problem with nowiki spam, and to help monitor progress on the problem an edit filter was applied to it. ResMar 21:14, 24 April 2015 (UTC)[reply]


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