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Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)

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Proposal: New Village Pump Page

There has been a long recognized need for improved communication and coordination between the community and the Wikimedia Foundation. Too often Foundation plans have come as an unexpected and unwelcome surprise to the community. Too often community concerns or objections have come as an unexpected surprise to staff members. Better communication and collaboration would reduce the rate of conflict and failed projects. Staff members are generally enthusiastic about our public service mission, have good intentions, and want to help us. However to be frank, most of them know about as much about what goes on over here as most of us know about what goes on inside the Foundation. They are employees in a conventional top-down authority structure. Most of them have no experience in the community, and our consensus system is alien concept. Sometimes they struggle to understand how we work, what we want, what we need, and even how to talk with us effectively. There is a communication and culture gap.

I have seen positive efforts from the Foundation over the last few years. However I believe both sides need to work to bridge the communication gap. I have some ideas, and it begins with this proposal to create a new village pump page. The current Draft Village Pump Page header reads as follows:

The WMF section of the village pump is a community managed page. Editors or Foundation staff may post and discuss any information, proposals, feedback requests, or any other issues of significance to both the community and the Wikimedia Foundation. It is intended to aid communication, understanding, and coordination between the community and the Foundation.

There is currently a Pump Proposal open above, asking WMF Legal to enforce the Terms of Use against an abusive company. That is a prime example of kind of topics I envision for the new page. The Central Notice template also currently lists an RFC for the Foundation's rebranding strategy to rename itself from Wikimedia to Wikipedia. As part of that project they evaluated the level of community support and produced a report, which I believe has been delivered to the Board of Trustees. The report states Measure community appetite for change: ✓ 0.6% of informed oppose. The 0.6% oppose figure is in rather stark contrast to the over 92% oppose on the RFC. I have several other examples of confirmation bias in Foundation's gathering or handling of data. I believe bad data has contributed to some of the tensions between the Foundation and Community. The RFC page also has a Statement by the Foundation. Given how the RFC is going, I believe it is clear that the staff handling the project do not grasp the significance of the RFC.

I have long been following Foundation projects, plans, and strategy. I have a small pile of similarly significant topics for the new page, including matters of past and future Foundation strategy. As some of you may be aware the Foundation has finally given up on the Flow project, and a Consultation resulted in a decision to keep and enhance existing Talk pages. I am concerned that the enhancement project is going off course. For example, like Flow, the project has a design flaw that can result in wikitext content corruption. The manager has indicated that he considers it an insignificant matter, not worth fixing. One of my priorities for the new Pump page will be to provide more detailed information on the new Talk Page Project. I hope to bring that team helpful information on our needs, concerns, and expectations for any major changes to Talk pages.

Over the years I have had discussions with several top managers, with the previous Executive Director, and with the current Executive Director. I believe the Executive Director would be receptive if we produce some consensus message regarding Foundation strategy and engagement. That is beyond the scope of the immediate proposal.

Proposed: Install Draft Village Pump Page. The page may of course evolve based on comments here or later. Alsee (talk) 12:04, 29 January 2020 (UTC)

Responses (NEW VP)

  • Support as proposer, per the rationale above. Alsee (talk) 12:04, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Additional communication is a good thing! This makes hella sense! GenQuest "Talk to Me" 12:53, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • So another village pump page that most people won't watch? Much less WMF? Nah. --Izno (talk) 15:08, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
    Izno... Can you come up with a better suggestion? We do need SOME way to facilitate more communication with the WMF. Blueboar (talk) 15:20, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment Previous discussion: Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)/Archive 130#New Village Pump page?. Anomie 15:23, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Support concept, but in practice, this will need buy-in from the WMF - if they don't use it, then there's no point. creffpublic a creffett franchise (talk to the boss) 15:32, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • In my opinion, such a thing is better placed on the Meta wiki; that's where the WMF does most of its work and it would make this venue usable for non-enwiki projects as well. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 15:47, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Support as beneficial, even a less active Village PUmp page would be seen more then the current set-up which is basically "meta pages only seen by a couple of keen souls. They panic and dump on CENT after a significant delay". The only other action that could provide a substantial assistance would be something akin to Tech News "WMF Newsletter". The issues with this are threefold: you'd need about 200 sign-ups to get reasonable awareness; you'd need several active people to run it reliably; some major WMF discussion areas would need much quicker response times than (a max) 30 days to give a chance for proper discussion. Nosebagbear (talk) 15:53, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
    Summoning @Whatamidoing (WMF):... — xaosflux Talk 16:13, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
    User:Nosebagbear, rather than creating Yet Another Newsletter that nobody reads, the English Wikipedia would probably find it easier to promote the WP:Wikipedia Signpost, which already has the subscribers, and which could be a reliable source of information that mattered to this particular community. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:45, 30 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Support concept per Creffpublic's similar comment above, but Jo-Jo Eumerus has a good point too. Ivanvector (Talk/Edits) 16:57, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support Regarding Jo-Jo Emerus's comment; Meta is where the WMF does most of its work, but the problem with discussions on Meta is that members of the individual communities rarely go there and can easily miss important discussions. Having a page here to discuss things with the WMF makes it easier on the community. Such a page can house links to important discussions that are taking place on Meta, thereby driving traffic there. ~ ONUnicorn(Talk|Contribs)problem solving 17:05, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
    • ONUnicorn, have you heard about User:DannyS712's work on a global watchlist? Flow/Structured Discussions, which is widely used at MediaWiki.org, will ping people with every new discussion thread on a watched page. That's great for cross-wiki notifications, but at Meta, your options are either changing your prefs to email you for every change to your Meta watchlist, or hoping that we get a global watchlist. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:48, 30 January 2020 (UTC)
      @Whatamidoing (WMF): I'm glad you find it useful. Useful enough to support the grant request / incorporate it as an extension? See m:Grants:Project/Create a global watchlist extension DannyS712 (talk) 23:58, 30 January 2020 (UTC)
    • Yes, I'm aware of the global watchlist project. I also have no idea why it's relevant to this discussion. ~ ONUnicorn(Talk|Contribs)problem solving 01:13, 31 January 2020 (UTC)
      • Being able to see, while you're still "here", that a discussion page has changed "there", seems like a way to improve the problem you identified, that "members of the individual communities rarely go there and can easily miss important discussions". Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 20:10, 31 January 2020 (UTC)
        • Yes, but in order to add a discussion "there" to your global watchlist, you need to first be aware that it exists "there". ~ ONUnicorn(Talk|Contribs)problem solving 20:42, 31 January 2020 (UTC)
          • I agree with you that it's not a complete solution, but it could improve the situation, especially if you put Meta's central announcement pages, such as m:Template:Main Page/WM News, on your watchlist. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:50, 31 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Having a dedicated page for communication with the WMF seems like a no-lose proposition. I think it needs to be two-way; people should be able to post questions for, and expect answers from, Foundation personnel, and the Foundation should also be expected to make announcements for the community, using the page. I can't think of a downside to this proposal. --Jayron32 17:08, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Support A direct way to see WMF related proposals, and for clear, one on one communication with them? Yes please! This would, hopefully, greatly help with places where the WMF clearly didn't get proper consensus, and would allow for us to bring proposals their way in a place everyone would see. --moonythedwarf (Braden N.) 17:24, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Support in principle per Creffett. I would love to see this happen. Our best chances for greater two-way communication with the Foundation may be by raising it as an issue in the Board of Trustees election. EllenCT (talk) 19:13, 29 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - Having a centralized enwiki discussion forum for interacting with WMF would be beneficial. I hope that WMF agrees. - MrX
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