The Signpost


Lila Tretikov: the WMF needs your input in developing our strategy

In 2010, the Wikimedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation collaborated to develop a five-year strategy for the movement. The final strategy focused on major priorities such as increasing the number and diversity of contributors to our movement, the amount and quality of knowledge in our projects, and the number of people we reached every month.

Last year, in anticipation of the end of those five years, the Foundation began reviewing our progress. In 2015 the movement reached a long-standing goal of stabilizing the overall number of highly active editors on the projects. In other areas, such as increasing Global South contributors and improving gender diversity, more progress is needed. Overall, the movement targets adopted by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 2010 have not been reached yet and are still applicable today.

Therefore this year, we decided to focus on the role of the Foundation in supporting our movement and our vision, which we see as conceptual triangle of reach, communities, and knowledge:

While these provide a framework for our overarching goals, the Foundation needs a practical plan that will:

To make our plan as effective as possible, we will limit the scope of this strategic planning to the Foundation as one global organization within the broader movement. We are inspired by the efforts of the communities and Wikimedia movement affiliates, which support overall movement goals through independent local strategies tailored to their own strengths, capacities, and operating environments.

Last week, we launched a community discussion about this planning, focused on the topics of reach, communities, and knowledge. Building on the outcomes of our spring 2015 consultation with readers and editors, we have identified a number of approaches that could guide the the Foundation’s future plan and actions. Today, we’re asking for your input and contributions. The community is the primary catalyst of the movement, and the success, health, and participation of contributors is central to any Wikimedia Foundation strategy. Your thoughts will be essential in informing how the Foundation can best contribute to the Wikimedia movement going forward.

The consultation will be open until February 15. We invite you to participate and look forward to your thoughts.

Lila Tretikov is the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.
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Dear User:LilaTretikov_(WMF). I have the feeling that, when the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation releases some piece of software, the reaction of the so-called community is strong rejection. The usefulness is challenged, the quality of the underlying code is vilified and the process ends into an attrition war. This pattern has been seen for VisualEditor, MediaViewer, SuperProtect, Flow, and now Gather. What is the opinion of the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation about this repetitive story ? Pldx1 (talk) 08:31, 28 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

While it has been true in cases you mentioned, you can see our increasing track record of successful software releases in 2015 here. We do need to evolve our tools, for you and for those to come, so you can better manage knowledge. Talking helps (although is hard to scale). Incremental change vs. big change helps. But in the end if we are not tolerant of each other, we end up wasting precious time and no-one benefits in the end. Change is hard. LilaTretikov (WMF) (talk) 23:55, 17 February 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Very good questions. The aims of most of these software developments - especially VisualEditor and Flow - are precisely those aims outlined above, and shared by much of the community: to make editing and discussion easier for newcomers and thereby "empowering more people from all walks of life to share in knowledge" and "growing the quality and depth of all free knowledge". Without innovations like those, this project will fail. Therefore I'm glad that VisualEditor is now here to stay but very disappointed that Flow has been shelved. It works superbly well, and the only real insurmountable problem it faced was the attitude of the naysayers. WaggersTALK 12:50, 28 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Yea, sure, every sales department knows customers are the greatest obstacle to the progress of all these wonderful products produced. Staszek Lem (talk) 22:42, 28 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Unfortunately, "collaboration" has begun to take on a negative connotation with respect to the communities' interaction with the WMF, more along the lines of the WW2 usage, especially due to recent events. The WMF board can best be described as ignorant, and has recently shaken the communities' confidence to the core. The WMF executive has best been described as inconsiderate and incoherent, and recent actions of the board will do nothing to encourage cooperation (instead of more confrontation). I can't help but get the feeling that whatever your status before this fiasco, you are now a lame duck executive director, who's next battle with her staff will be her last, and if my time spent on voting for WMF board members was any indication, community participation is futile. int21h (talk · contribs · email) 10:43, 28 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

  • A careful reading of the piece—which might be seen by the cynical as feel-good corporate talk—reveals several interesting statements. First, there is a striking admission that the last medium-term plan failed in many respects; the global south and the gender gap are mentioned. Second, the message is clear that the WMF intends to stop planning for the whole movement, and from now will focus on itself (“we will limit the scope of this strategic planning to the Foundation as one global organization within the broader movement”). This is adjacent to a number of generally warm and fuzzy (but meaningless) statements about “the community”. Third, the primary focus will be on the reach of WMF sites in terms of readership. This may represent a renewal of the (failed) global south strategy.

    Memo to WMF: I don't think warm and fuzzy is working on the community in the way you might intend. Better to be straight, even if sometimes it might appear to be a little blunt. Tony (talk) 11:21, 28 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

    • I agree in part, though I would say that it is a good thing they are restricting their strategy to the Foundation. It is our job as English Wikipedia volunteers to make the long term goals for the English Wikipedia community as a significant chunk of the movement, and for some reason we fail in this. Personally I think we should be capturing the ideas on Meta and moving them to the English Wikipedia to start setting up our own "English Wikipedia long-term strategy", setting out our vision for long-term collaborations with Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons, other language-pedias, gendergap issues, and all the rest of it. When we do it ourselves, we preserve transparency and make it possible for future generations of English Wikipedia editors to follow our thinking in a structured way, rather than trying to reverse engineer strategy discussions conducted by the Foundation for the entire Wikiverse. In theory these strategies should line up, but in the examples mentioned above (MV, VE, etc), they don't Jane (talk) 15:52, 28 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
If you read many of the responses to the Strategy discussion on meta, you cannot help but notice they are based largely or in part on the English Wikipedia. We should copy these to an English Wikipedia WikiProject Strategy page. That's all I meant. Jane (talk) 14:17, 30 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Jane, OK. I was wondering where the strategy discussions are. Is there a central link, or is a diffuse? Thanks! --GreenC 18:10, 30 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • Your strategy need be no more complicated than complete the most items in the 2015 Community Wishlist as possible. The fact that you "can't actually work on ten unrelated projects at the same time" is disheartening. The top ten is just the tip of the iceberg of issues that need addressed. Enough of these "high-in-the-clouds" surveys already. Wbm1058 (talk) 19:12, 28 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • I don't understand this comment by Wbm1058. We need to first simplify, not complexify. Complexity arises out of simplicity, not the other way around. Long term strategic planning needs to be simple and flexible as technological innovation in informatics is increasing exponentially. We should have only one overarching concern: are we improving the lives of people and are we helping them to improve their own lives with our products? My biggest concern as of late is the lack of clear major summaries and "takeaways" from our topics. Too many people focus on nonsensical, meaningless trivia and neglect the importance of what our articles actually say and what our readers gain from them. As editors, our goal is not just to write about a subject, but to help our readers see how the topic fits into the larger conceptual structure of ideas, and to allow them to critically think about it and see how related topics fit together. Out of those explicit connections true meaning arises. We simply don't do this (except in terms of mostly hidden, abstract categories) and this is our greatest shortcoming. What's the point of knowledge if our readers don't understand it? Newton saw further into reality by standing on the shoulders of the ancient giants of knowledge who contributed the foundation needed to raise our older understanding of the universe to a new level. In the same way, every article on Wikipedia is tied into and connected to every other article, but this is left mostly unstated and unexamined in the vast majority of our topics. These connections must be made clear for our readers to benefit from any real understanding. From these simple roots, a new complex structure emerges. How do all the pieces fit and why are they important? What have we learned? Viriditas (talk) 20:36, 29 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Perhaps technological innovation in informatics is increasing exponentially, but the Foundation's ability to quickly knock off relatively simple tasks seems not to be. The Foundation has completely taken content off the table of things they concern about; they are only interested in technology. Content is left almost entirely for the community to manage. Hence, there is no role for the WMF to play in strategic, long-term planning for the content of the encyclopedia, unless they are first willing to change the fundamental role that they have assigned to themselves. Wbm1058 (talk) 17:27, 30 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • The most important thing is quality. Wikimedia projects are full of information, but the reliability of that information is often questionable. I know that there is a nascent plan to make medical articles more reliable (and this is a good place to start) but I would like to see a WM initiative to support this with a view to rolling it out across more strands, and all languages. pablo 21:52, 29 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
    1. Reach: Reach every human being by getting into the ISP business and developing internet infrastructure where it doesn't yet exist, or cheaper options where it does exist.
    2. Communities: Empowering more people from all walks of life to share in knowledge – see above to make sure they have Internet access; build libraries in the places Carnegie missed, and offer more free access to high-quality paywalled sources (perhaps Aaron Swartz had some good ideas related to that)
    3. Knowledge: Growing the quality and depth of all free knowledge – I have no idea how the Foundation itself can do that. They rely entirely on unpaid, independent volunteers for this function. Wbm1058 (talk) 18:10, 30 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  •  Done KeepGet the Wikimedia Foundation on track and accountable with clear and achievable goals: Complete x (fill in an appropriate number) items on the 2015 Community Wishlist by the end of 2016. Wbm1058 (talk) 18:30, 30 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]


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