User talk:Jimbo Wales

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Software and the WMF vs. the English Wikipedia Community[edit]

There is a Request for Arbitration currently being considered: The issue illustrates a problem that needs to be addressed, which is tension between the English Wikipedia community and the WMF staff. On the one hand, it is true that the Wikimedia Foundation owns the servers and so sometimes has to assert power. On the other hand, Wikipedia has operated, with a few exceptions, on the model of community consensus. The issue in point has to do with the Media Viewer software. An RFC was concluded as to whether Media Viewer should be enabled by default or disabled by default. The RFC concluded (consensus of the English Wikpedia community) that it should be disabled by default. It appears that a "regular" administrator tried to set those options, and a conflict with a WMF staff member arose, in which the "regular" administrator was severely cautioned, and was threatened with desysopping for interfering with the Office. The issue about Media Viewer is very similar to Visual Editor. WMF staff and its developers attempted to push poorly tested software into production, and the community pushed back. The basic problem, as I see it, is that WMF staff is resistant to input by the community. There are a few situations, such as legal response to copyright violations, in which the principle of Office Action really must trump the community. The rollout of software is not one of the situations in which WMF must act unilaterally. Because of the complex and subtle relationship between the WMF as legal owner of the servers and the community as the purpose of the servers, Arbitration is not the ideal way to resolve this conflict. A cultural change would be preferred. We have already had one disaster narrowly averted with respect to Visual Editor. It does not appear that the WMF staff and its developers have learned that they should listen to the community about software. You, Jimbo Wales, are a board member of the WMF and its founder, and are the representative to the community of the WMF. Can you, Jimbo Wales, reason with WMF staff and remind them that, except in special cases such as Office legal action, their function is to serve the community (not to dictate to the community)? Robert McClenon (talk) 03:27, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

  • I think this is a perfect case for ArbCom, personally. I only hope they are up to the task. There is an enormous issue here: does WMF engineering, with a budget of tens of millions of dollars and a professional interest in their expensive initiatives "succeeding," quote-unquote, have an ownership right to shove broken or unwanted software down the volunteer community's throats? This is not so important with MediaViewer, which works fine, but is a huge issue with badly broken toys like VisualEditor or the massive disruption that will be inevitable if Flow is allowed to be imposed. This is the time to figure this question out... Carrite (talk) 15:09, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
  • The answer, quite obviously, is "yes". And ArbCom has no power to change that. But there really are two competing issues here. The first is that the implementation of technical enhancements should rarely, if ever, be determined by vote. Too many people (myself included) prefer the status quo, and that tends to result in stagnation. That is an issue for the community. The issue for the foundation is their reliance on the community for this site to work at all. So technical implementations that are broken (notifications) or likely to cause a massive uproar (Flow) carry the risk of eroding the community's trust and diminishing that community. A lot of that comes down to communication. Large swaths of people are going to be upset any time any of these changes are made. That is inevitable, and should not be used in and of itself as an excuse not to implement. From the community's perspective, I don't think MediaViewer is the hill we should want to die on. It is just as easy to open an image in a new tab to get the 'old look' and the feature does seem to be generally supported by our readers. Resolute 13:42, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
MediaViewer is a proxy for the real fight, which as far as I am concerned is all about Flow — a real frankenstein monster created because the bureaucracy had a budget and needed something to do, with an absolutely gargantuan potential for disruption of the entire WP project. The fight needs to be fought (and lost) over the fairly benign MediaViewer — but a fight lost in such a way by a committed and aggressive ArbCom that Flow's damage is diverted from an English WP launch until it can be proven by practice elsewhere to be a substantial improvement. Obviously, there is inertia among those of us using the software leading to preference for old ways over new. Less obviously, there is a multimillion dollar careerist incentive for WMF Engineering to churn out something, anything new to justify their ever expanding budget. So, I beg to differ: YES, this is the hill where the fight needs to be made; because if the fight starts after Flow is already unilaterally imposed systemwide, the disruption will have already taken place and it will be too late. —Tim Davenport //// Carrite (talk) 17:24, 17 July 2014 (UTC) Last edit: Carrite (talk) 17:25, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Carrite this is an extremely unfair and false representation of the situation that does nothing to bring light and love and healing and progress and does much to create the kind of tensions that make progress difficult. You've got the motivations exactly wrong. We badly need software improvements, including improvements to our rather ridiculous system of discussing things with each other by editing raw wikitext (instead of a philosophically wiki but more technically sophisticated approach that allows us to do the same things but in an easier and more intuitive way) and so we are investing engineering in that. It isn't like we are just showering money on the tech team for no reason and then they have to make up a reason to spend it. Saying that is just simply and purely a personal attack on good people who are doing good work. Stop doing that please.
Are there problems with disconnect between what editors want and what the developers are developing? Sometimes clearly yes. Sometimes that's because editors forget what readers want matters too. But sometimes it's just a dysfunctional disconnect and ALL SIDES have the capability through assuming good faith and entering into non-hostile dialog to work to change that. I encourage you to make your complaints in a positive and constructive way and point out better solutions. Insulting people and spreading FUD is just simply not ok.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:25, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
This is clearly not the venue for me to speak frankly on this matter. My apologies for attempting to do so. Carrite (talk) 20:16, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Look, there is a time and place for generalized bitching and moaning. I personally recommend private email to friends as a good place for that. What I am asking for here is a dropping of emotional outbursts and a very practical set of requests in the form of an NPOV description of what you want. That's something I can take action on.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:02, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Let me chip in here, if only to communicate that it is not only a handful of usual suspects that are worried by WMF's handling of software updates. Jimbo Wales, you sit on the Board of Trustees. A legitimate concern has been brought up, and you dismiss it as 'insults' and "spreading FUD". There is no insult in saying that the VE deployment was characterised by utter incompetence, both in coding and in communication with the community, that has been documented ad nauseam. Thus, there is no insult in speculating that the same team might fail again. You are old enough to remember the joke "MS Windows - from the people that brought you edlin". And thus, there is no insult in speculating what the motivation might be of a team that in the past could not gather customer requirements, could not roll out software that works, and became defensive when massive bugs were pointed out. Feynman's "Safecracker meets Safecracker" is a classic on this: (quoted from memory) 'My boss asks me to drill a safe [...] I have no idea how to do that, but I'm the janitor. So I take my drill to the room with the safe and make zzzzzzz, zzzzzzzzzzzzz. --Pgallert (talk) 22:06, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
Pgallert, you misunderstand me I'm afraid. I have no problem with legitimate concerns, and legitimate concerns are neither insults nor FUD. But "Frankenstein monster", "multimillion dollar careerist impluse" and the rest was simply not helpful for Carrite to have said for the simple reason that neither of those is either objectively true nor actionable. It is patently obvious that our antiquated way of holding discussions in raw wikitext is significantly inferior to what is possible, without losing any functionality. Flow is an effort to take what we already do and make it both easier for longterm highly proficient users and easier for newcomers - and it strikes me as clear that improvement will not be difficult given how horrible it is now. To reply to you, for example, one of the most common things that anyone would do in a discussion, I had to scroll up to the most recent section break and click edit then come down and cut and paste (or tediously count) indention levels and add a colon. I then have to sign my comment by either typing dash dash tilde tilde tilde tilde or typing out my username or something or waiting for a bot to notice that I didn't do it and do it for me. That's all completely silly.
No amount of false ranting about the evil developers and their careerist goals (despite that they work for significantly less than they could get at Google or elsewhere in most cases!) is going to result in one line of better code being written. Constructive and loving feedback about what works and what doesn't in proposed designs, with clear and NPOV explanations of why, based on our intimate knowledge of the editing process is the way forward. That's why I will continue to critique those who engage in unnecessary dramatics and insults of good people. As I said to Carrite above, if he wants to have a "frank" discussion of how much he hates certain developers, he can do it with friends in private email. But please let's use this page to be productive.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:02, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
That would only be true if the developers were sufficiently skilled to land themselves jobs at major corporations such as Google, which they clearly are not. Eric Corbett 14:19, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
That comment is made all the more amusing in that I have, this very week, turned down recruiters from both Google and Apple. (Which is rather unusual, while there is no shortage of headhunters trawling the technical staff lists of the Foundation, it's the first time that two big players contacted me at the same time). I don't know where you get this fantasy that the WMF engineering staff can't "get better"; I've yet to work with a more talented bunch of people. We work with the WMF because we believe in the cause, not because the salaries are high or because we can't get better. — Coren (talk) 18:33, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Where else have you worked as a software engineer? Anywhere? Eric Corbett 18:44, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
... nowhere? I'm an operations engineer and my ~23 year career was doing that (well, strictly speaking that's not entirely true – I was a dev for a very short while before I veered into system administration). It's also entirely besides the point. Your assertion is ridiculously false on its face given the number of devs working at the Foundation that actually came from Google, Amazon, and Yahoo (that I know of); probably other big players as well. Saying they "clearly are not" sufficiently skilled to work there is obviously nothing but a baseless, gratuitous personal attack given they not only did work there, but left to join the Foundation. — Coren (talk) 19:19, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
So basically you're not a software engineer, have never been a software engineer, and are therefore in no position to judge the competence or otherwise of software engineers. Thanks for the clarification. Eric Corbett 19:27, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
You mean, excepting the fact that this is what my master's major is in, that I've been in the industry for over two decades working in close collaboration with people whose specialty is software engineering, that despite my focus on system administration I have never stopped coding (though mostly on the infrastructure side of things), and that I have taught the subject matter?

What, pray tell, are your qualifications? — Coren (talk) 19:31, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Jimbo, I have no problem with a WYSIWYG editor, or with improvements of our message system. Any improvement is welcome. But in a system where some 100,000 regular editors cooperate on a fairly important knowledge project I would prefer the software to be tested by people explicitly volunteering (or being paid) for that, not by the writers of this encyclopedia. VE was Alpha software; to deploy it in this stage was irresponsible. Now, maybe Carrite should have used different words for what they tried to communicate. But I think I was able to distil the message from the theatrical wording. --Pgallert (talk) 08:18, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Someone should be by shortly to point out the WMF serves a much broader audience than the editing community. It won't actually matter if the software is fit for purpose. Saffron Blaze (talk) 15:26, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
    • I don't really understand this comment. Software that is not fit for purpose does not serve readers or editors. Software that makes editing worse does not serve readers or editors. The only way I can make sense of what you are saying is as a straw man attack, i.e. making up a position that the WMF does not take and then refuting it. No one at the Foundation has ever said or thought, not even once, "It doesn't matter if the software is broken, because... readers!" That would be silly.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:27, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Perhaps this diff will help you understand. The point was... the needs of the 500,000,000 casual users are in effect being held out as the requirement for MV, which may be true, but only if MV actually serves their needs. Saffron Blaze (talk) 13:36, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Perhaps, but that does not excuse what appears to be an abuse of admin tools (or, more accurately, the threat to use them in an abusive fashion), which were also not granted via normal community processes. If WMF people are going to behave in that fashion, they should either be required to use clearly designated WMF usernames or go through normal community processes (RfA) to gain their tools. Anything else seems to be against the spirit of this project. Intothatdarkness 16:26, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
  • [Some thoughts I also posted at the case page]: The "foundation" on which this is built is the Foundation. Sure Users, it is hoped by the Foundation and others come to this Project to write an English encyclopedia but upon the Foundation's legal and technical ownership and facilities, which has, as been seen in results, benefited the User's in doing so. This is not without demands on Users, however, Users must, according to the Foundation, for example, licence their work freely. Who determines what are attractive forces on donors to and readers of, as well as protecting and promoting the brand and the good will and other assets of the Foundation projects is placed in the Foundation, which has that purpose, not in a multitude of others who don't have the legal responsibility. As for Users, we all obviously showed up using the facility provided, and it's a well known and undisputed phenomena that changing technology is cognitively, emotionally, intellectually a challenge - and that free software is sometimes worth what one pays for it. It does not seem true that the Foundation does not consult widely and openly about the creation and deployment of free software. What anyone should do about the Foundation is go directly to the Foundation. If, for example, one wants them to no longer be adverse to commercial software then go lobby them to change course. Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:04, 16 July 2014 (UTC) Alanscottwalker (talk) 16:36, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
User:Carrite says that this is a perfect case for ArbCom, if they are up to the task. I agree with Carrite's statement of the issue, but not with his conclusion that ArbCom is the right vehicle. I agree that it is time to figure the question. However, the assertion of "Office" privilege in what is not an "Office action" shows that some WMF personnel see themselves as the owners and not the servants of the community. Some WMF personnel clearly do not accept the will of the community and are willing to use their status to bully the community. If senior WMF personnel accept the will of the community, they may also accept the ArbCom as a representative of the community; but if senior WMF personnel accept the will of the community, they should remind other WMF personnel that they are there to serve the community, not to dictate to it. A cultural change is needed in the WMF. I am asking Jimbo Wales to explain to WMF staff. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:48, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Can User:Saffron Blaze explain in more detail whether the explanation should be make to the WMF or the community, and what it should be? Robert McClenon (talk) 18:48, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
The WMF rep that is at the center of this articulated as much and I think he was addressing that at the editing community. It was essentially the needs of the many (users) trumping the needs of the few (editors). When he made the statement he didn't really address what those needs were so one might be left to consider this is a textbook example of the self-licking ice cream cone. Saffron Blaze (talk) 14:25, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
I agree with User:Intothatdarkness that the threat of arbitrary use of admin tools and wheel warring is problematic. Should that abuse be dealt with by arbitration (which WMF might or might not accept), or by a cultural change? The latter would be preferred. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:48, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Culture change doesn't occur on its own, and without some sort of push I can't see the WMF giving up what it's gotten thus far (admin tools with no community comment or validation and what seems to be an unacceptably wide discretionary action zone) for free. I agree that culture change is to be preferred, but also accept that it might not come without an actual case or threat of action (removal of admin tools) on the part of ArbCom (which seems to be the only group that can do this). Intothatdarkness 20:53, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
User:Alanscottwalker says that anyone who is concerned about the Foundation should go directly to the Foundation. I agree with him that changing technology is complicated. I partly agree and partly disagree with him when he says that the Foundation does consult openly and widely about the creation and deployment of software. The Foundation does discuss its plans for software openly and widely, but has a bad record with regard to accepting feedback. The backdown on Visual Editor was difficult and painful. Because the Foundation does not readily welcome community feedback, I am accepting Jimbo Wales on behalf of the community to go to the Foundation as the face of the Foundation. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:48, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Talking of going to the Foundation, perhaps it's time we blew the dust off Wikipedia:Petition to the WMF on handling of interface changes. It didn't go anywhere when it was put together last year, but could probably garner a fair few more signatures now.  — Scott talk 20:04, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
"Welcome community feedback", depends on what you mean by welcome - make changes - or do everything 100 people say you must do only their way (but not all 100 people agree exactly what that is). As for Wheel, there was none, and as for Staff Permissions, take it up with the Foundation which is the granter of them, obviously because they think they need them to fulfill their obligations. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 22:35, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Here's what I think is the right way forward, and much thanks to those who have asked me to represent the community on these issues (which, of course, I very much desire to do). A great model is what happened recently with concerns about LaTeX support in mathematics. I asked the math community to give an NPOV summary of what isn't working and what they need, and a few people went out and worked with a larger group of people, and they came back with a great explanation and a specific set of actionable requests, which I was able to pass along to Lila in a constructive way. Of course there are still things that could break down between where we are now and actual implementation, but this is at least a powerful and appropriate way to start.

On the Media Viewer issue, it might be very very useful if someone or some group of someones could write up an NPOV summary of what the issue is. And the community could seek a way to better serve both readers and editors. This is the Wikipedia way with articles. Two people are disagreeing? Then the best thing is if some third person comes along and sees a way out of the disagreement by finding a compromise that both parties agree is better than either of their initial preferred options. "Mediaviewer good or evil?" is a question with no happy answer. "Mediaviewer: how to make it better for everyone than the old way" is a question that, if we can answer it, resolves the problem neatly and moves everyone forward with joy and relaxation.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:34, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

I think this all sounds very sensible, although I think you may need to offer your guarantee that editors who engage in something like that will not simply be wasting their time. The underlying problem, I think, is a perception among editors that they are seen as an obstacle to "progress" and WMF staff are not really interesting in engaging with them until they are forced to. IMO, whether this perception is a good reflection of reality or not is besides the point. WMF ought to be scrupulous in ensuring that it carries editing communities with it and I think it is hard to mount an argument that this is the way things are. In this discussion, I think it can fairly be said that you are seeking engagement, but there is a stark contrast between this and the recent behaviour of WMF's deputy director. Formerip (talk) 22:31, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
As an aside, could the process you suggest be easily undertaken using Flow? I'm not sure, but at the moment, it doesn't look like Flow is going to offer the flexibility to provide a space where editors can draft something in collaboration. Formerip (talk) 23:32, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
@FormerIP: Hi, I believe you're referring to the current experimental-configuration, whereby only the original author of a flow-post (or an admin) can edit the post. This is currently a trial-setup, and they did some analysis of the use-cases, which is documented at mw:Flow/Editing comments. The rationale for it is given at mw:Flow/FAQ#Will we be able to edit other people's posts?. Whilst that experiment is ongoing, they're also considering creating a type of open-post that could be inserted anywhere in a discussion (a 'scratchpad' or 'sandbox' post). So, those are the 2 main possibilities at the moment (but alternative/new suggestions, are appreciated). There's also, of course, the option of doing the collaborative editing on a project-page, and having a Flow discussion on the talkpage. Feedback is welcome (and appreciated, they want wider constructive-input) ideally over at WT:Flow or mw:Talk:Flow (which is an active Flow page). HTH. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 01:54, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, @Quiddity (WMF):, for the info.
IMO, though, "We welcome your feedback" is not sufficient in terms of engagement. It is unfortunately obvious that WMF does always walk this limited walk in any case, but it doesn't really work, moreover, because the community's understanding of what WMF is doing naturally lags behing WMF's (particularly to the extent that it opts for incubation in seclusion). This means that if you just sit around waiting for community feedback, you will tend to get it at a stage in the process where it is not really convenient. So, with Flow, WMF seems to have begun considering the needs of Wikipedias only after having designed something that is not well-suited to their needs. Now you are at an awkward juncture of thinking about how to retrofix. It feels unlikely that this will result in software that is as good as it would have been had you been able to see ahead. The main thing that, I think, has to be insisted on, is that none of this is the fault of editing communities. Formerip (talk) 12:02, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
@FormerIP: Re: "in seclusion" - This is the eternal difficulty - The Flow dev team has been getting feedback from many editors for over a year. But most editors don't have time (or inclination) to help beta-test new software. Additionally, many editors approach developing software with the perspective that by the time they are seeing it, it should be 'complete' and nearly-bug-free, and hence will often give only negative/angry feedback if they see early prototypes, or experimental ideas, or unpolished UIs, or missing features.
[Tangentially, this mirrors the slow slide away from Eventualism, that worked so well for articles and project-content over the years, and is an ongoing concern for the retention of old and new editors.]
Even the BetaFeatures, some of which have ~10,000 editors using them (across all 800+ wikis), often only have a few dozen editors giving feedback.
They also run into the m:Not my wiki problem in a few ways, e.g. Editors are less likely (or able) to properly test software that isn't on their homewiki, and are less able to participate deeply in the process because of the separation (which global-notifications and crosswiki-Flow-discussions, will eventually help with). But at the same time, some editors are reluctant to have incomplete software anywhere on their homewiki.
There are a number of ideas for ways to increase the quantity of editors who participate in software beta-testing/feedback: everything from better newsletters, to simple inhouse survey systems, to broader (or more targeted) announcements when an extension has been updated, to more specific requests for input on specific features, and others. All of these (and more) are being worked on or investigated, but most of them take time to code, and they all add to the many projects/tasks already clamouring for attention from each editor, so have to be done gently. [I'll stop there, before I tangent/ramble further. HTH.] Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 20:09, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
There's a bit of WMF double speak at work there. What editors expect is that when a new piece of software becomes the default it should be "complete" and "nearly-bug-free". And that just hasn't been happening, witness the visual editor and now the image viewer. Eric Corbett 20:21, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
And this is the problem in a nutshell; making non-optimal software opt-out rather than opt-in. When people know something is beta and they're trying it out, they don't moan if there are problems - indeed they often report them. Whereas - like with Visual Editor - if they think this is the standard way of working then they simply say "this is rubbish, it doesn't work". Whilst MV is clearly not as broken as VE was (at least it doesn't actually mangle content), it is not optimal for the editors that contribute the most to the encyclopedia. Black Kite (talk) 20:32, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
@Quiddity (WMF):. I don't think it's realistic to think in terms of an identity between beta testing and engagement. Imagine my tailor called me up an told me he had made me a suit, so when would I like to come in and have my measurements taken and get a quote for the work. After I had gotten over the surprise of discovering that I had a tailor, I think I would decline the suit. I definitely don't want, or expect, software to arrive complete. What I really want is the opportunity to comment on it before it exists. If it even has a name I'd feel late on the scene.
WMF's engagement process seems to go something like: "We don't care what you think ... No, we still don't care what you think ... Here's some buggy software ... Why aren't you pleased?" Flow appears to take this to another level entirely by not only excluding editing communities but being designed in willful ignorance that those communities even exist (i.e. how on Earth can you deliver software that is unable to handle basic Wikipedia talkpage processes?). Formerip (talk) 21:54, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
Formerip, do I understand you correctly? You say here that you want to become involved before the product has a name, but after the decision has been taken about which one of the multiple collaborative-editing proposals will be used. I'm sure that can't be correct, because if it were me—and my only role in Flow is making sure that Quiddity has a long list of requirements from me—I'd care a lot less about what the name is, and a lot more about which one of these methods is chosen. I've seen at least four proposals that don't require giving newbies and IPs the ability to blank or vandalize other people's comments (common area per thread, common area per post, 'scratch pad', separate/transcluded page), and I like some of them a lot better than others. I don't keep up with the discussions very closely, but even I know that the necessity of providing some method for collaborative editing within Flow has been considered a settled fact for months and months now. The question is not "whether", but "which way", and if you care more about editing than about naming, then please think about different ways to achieve the goal and tell Quiddity what your favorite one is. Perhaps you'll come up with an even better proposal than the ones that other people have been looking at. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:21, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
No, you don't understand me correctly. Where did I suggest that I wanted to "become involved...after the decision has been taken about which one of the multiple collaborative-editing proposals will be used"? What I want is for editors to have the opportunity to be involved in interface development from the outset of any discussion. I'm perplexed that options to do with collaborative editing are only being considered at such an advanced stage in the process. Formerip (talk) 00:38, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
People have been considering them since before a prototype for Flow existed. I've seen discussions about this for about a year. That is, I saw discussion on this question before the product even had a product manager assigned, which is to say that I saw discussions about this feature before it was possible to make decisions for the product. Discussions on core features that started, for the first time, today might be considered to happen "at such an advanced stage" (a dubious position, I think, but not unreasonable position, especially if you don't know anything about the state of the software). However, the fact is that discussions about collaborative editing needs are not starting now. The first time I personally saw this issue considered was about a year ago, but I pretty much ignored the product before then. (For all I know, those discussions started before the discussions happened to impinge upon my consciousness.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:13, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
Can you point me to these discussions? I'd like to try to understand why they were ignored. BTW, by "too advanced" I don't mean "today", I just mean any time after a relevant decision has been taken. It's ridiculous that the core purpose of the software is only being uncovered during the testing phase. Even "today", there doesn't seem to be any firm silk-pursing plan. According to the page linked to by Quiddity above mw:Flow/Editing_comments, a scratchpad would "slow down the development and deployment process ... and be worse than existing functionality in some ways", while "Obviously, the ideal is 'not needing comment editing'". So, it seems like WMF may still be hoping that, in default of it having designed software that is fit for purpose, the projects will redesign their processes to be fit for the software. Formerip (talk) 11:48, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
I think it possible that the reference might be to User_talk:Whatamidoing_(WMF)#Engaging_with_the_mathematics_editor_community, Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Mathematics/Archive/2013/Aug#Is_it_time_for_mathematicians_to_leave_Wikipedia? or Talk:Flow_Portal/Archive2#Maths. Deltahedron (talk) 15:51, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
See now, here's the problem. There are quite a few people who don't think that the software is fit for purpose, which is (by definition) communication. Risker (talk) 15:06, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
Without wishing to prejudge the issue, and I'm quite looking forward to hearing how they seem in retrospect, I would not have attributed any failure of those discussions to deficiencies in the software. Deltahedron (talk) 15:42, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
As a participant in and observer of those discussions, WhatamIdoing, do you think they went well or badly, and why? What could have been done to make them more constructive? Do you think that Community Advocates should have been aware of the discussions earlier? Deltahedron (talk) 09:11, 20 July 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I could, User:FormerIP, but it would be pointless, because your premise is wrong: "I'd like to try to understand why they were ignored". These discussions were not ignored. The need for this feature has been agreed to by all parties, including the devs for months. So if your goal is to find out "why they were ignored", you're doomed to failure: you're only going to find the devs saying "Yes, that's obviously necessary. The question is, which of these many possible methods, some of which do not include anyone editing anyone else's actual comments, would be best support collaborative work on article text?"

What hasn't been decided yet is "how"—not "whether"—to have a method of people being able to edit the same text.

Perhaps this will help:

  • Yes check.svg Done Everyone agrees that a method of working collaboratively on text is absolutely necessary for discussions.
  • X mark.svg Not done yet Nobody agrees on the exact method of working collaboratively on text that will be best for collaborative editors.

The status of collaborative editing is "Not done yet". Your premise is that the status is "not going to do it", which is both very different and wrong.

The Flow team really needs people to talk about how to promote collaborative editing. For example, would it be good to have a structured system that indicates that the OP truly does want you to edit what s/he's written (or, conversely, that s/he doesn't)? "Just edit this" hasn't usually worked in my recent experience. If you go look through the recent archives of most major policies (WT:V, WT:CONSENSUS), you'll find few people actually editing the other person's, but instead putting up slight variations, one after another.

One of the problems with this "I'll just post my preferred version, without changing yours" approach is that it's actually hard to tell what has been changed from one version to the next, because you can't get a useful diff. Would you like a system that encourages people to actually edit the original proposal? Would you like one that makes it possible to get a diff on just the changes to the collaborative text? Would you like a system that makes it possible to import the collaborative history into the article, so that if you post a requested edit or help out with collaborative text on a talk page, and your text gets put in the article, then the attribution would be correctly represented in the article history?

People who can wrap their heads around the distinction between "the method I've been using" (e.g., editing someone else's comment) and "what I actually need to achieve" (collaborative editing as part of a discussion) would be really valuable in testing and discussions. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:14, 20 July 2014 (UTC)

Break (WMF software discussion)[edit]

I thank Jimbo for his kind words about the recent initiative over mathematics content tendering and editing: I am looking forward to seeing the next step in what I hope will become a productive engagement. However, I would be disturbed if it were seen as the model for that sort of engagement, rather than the exception. It took something like a year, on and off, for several people, all from the volunteer side of the house, to get that under way, using time and energy taken away from other contributions to the project and it's still not clear that it will have been worth while. In the meantime, WMF has a team of Community Advocates whose role is to facilitate communication between staff and all the communities in every project under the umbrella of the Wikimedia Foundation, to help ensure that both sides of this important equation are pulling together towards our common goal and to help volunteers get access to resources and information they need from the Wikimedia Foundation and to ensure that the Wikimedia Foundation remains aware of the character of its communities. Unfortunately right now they are unable to act in the way I had hoped, and many members of the community clearly expect: one of them stated "in the way things are currently set up, I am not able to advocate for you in the way that you request, and I have no authority to assign anyone to advocate for you in the way that you request. I can point you to resources; I can pass along your suggestions; I can generally get information. I cannot proactively help tease out requirements for math development from the community, and what I know about what is planned is all public information" [1]. Clearly whatever is getting in the way of the Community Advocates playing the role they asipire to play and the volunteer community wants them to play needs to be fixed, whether it be lack of resources, lack of information, lack of access or lack of authority. Deltahedron (talk) 15:13, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
Deltahedron, I think this is very excellent feedback. The reason I use this as a model is not the "something like a year" that it took, but rather the "something like a month" (as I recall) from me suggesting the NPOV summary to me getting a commitment from Lila for resources. You are absolutely right that in this particular case (as in all particular cases) time will tell about the results but I'm very hopeful here. It's a lot better than the usual lack of communication and carping, that's for sure.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:12, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that resources are being committed. I hope we hear more good news in due course. Deltahedron (talk) 06:14, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
"Community Advocates" are company employees, bottom line. There needs to be formal organization of the volunteers and frank and realistic negotiations need to take place between the two groups, bearing in mind that objectives of each group are not necessarily identical. A "company union" is no substitute for a real union in hammering out a fair contract... The relationship right now is one-sided. Carrite (talk) 03:23, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
I think that's unduly cynical: they are indeed employees, but their job involves liaison between volunteers and staff. For various reasons unknown to me they are unable to do that to the extent that I would have expected, but I would imagine that one of those reasons is that each group sees them as representative of the "others". Indeed, that's fairly usual for people in a liaison role. Fixing that would involve fixing the culture. Deltahedron (talk) 15:57, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
More realistically, "fixing that", where "that" means community advocates not being able to pick up any projects that any volunteers like Deltahedron wants them to take on, would require that there were far more of them. Right now, there are four community advocates supporting 800+ WMF projects, two million contributors, and half a billion readers. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:23, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing, I think that's right. Carrite's view is just false - it doesn't reflect the attitudes of the WMF nor the community advocates nor is there inherent tension between the Foundation's goals and the community's goals. When there are frictions, the solution is not to unionize and battle but to fix the underlying problem.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:12, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Firstly, having community advocates "pick up any project that any volunteer like Deltahedron wants them to take on" is not what I am asking for, and I think that I have discussed this often enough with community advocates, including WhatamIdoing, that she should know this. Just to repeat myself, I was asking for constructive proactive engagement. Is there any serious opposition to that? Secondly, "fixing that" referred to the problem that each group sees the advocates as representative of the "others". Deltahedron (talk) 06:48, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
Before you get overwhelmed trying to support half a billion readers, I suggest that you focus on the most active 10,000, or the subset of those who have edited within the past three months, and make more use of your Mass message sender privileges. This would be analogous to members of the US Congress, who "support" several hundred thousand voters, focusing on the subset of those voters who are their biggest financial contributors. The most active content contributors are probably Wikipedia's biggest asset. Wbm1058 (talk) 23:47, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
Interesting point. The biggest asset is probably the readers, whose actions are what makes Wikipedia a top-5 google-hit for almost every subject; the only role of the editors in that is the creation of the page in the first place. Risker (talk) 01:24, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
I think it is a mistake to go down this path. The Foundation exists to serve the goal of building an encyclopedia. We are here to build it and we want the readers to read it. We can look for points of opposition and devaluation and we might find some if we try really hard. But I think it's a strain. As an editor, I value readers. As a reader, I value editors. In either role, I value the developers who do the technical work to make the rest of it possible. And the developers, in my personal experience, care very deeply about the readers and editors. It is important not to mistake errors or breakdowns in communications as evidence of a fundamental and irreconcilable difference in goals that has to be fought about.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:12, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Readers are the consumers of the product. That any business which loses its customers (money-paying consumers) likely won't continue its operations for long is a trivial point. I'm not sure what you mean by asset, but I was thinking of the primary meaning: Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value. One might argue that editors aren't owned or controlled, but perhaps they are ;0| Wbm1058 (talk) 04:16, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
Sending out a mass message is not generally considered "proactive engagement". It would be insufficient to the point of irrelevance for Deltahedron's goal.
What Deltahedron wants is for the (four) CAs to push the volunteer mathematics editors into holding long, organized, conversations about product requirements for mathematics software, so that detailed, actionable product specifications and a plan for implementing them can be created and adopted.
This is not a bad idea at all, except:
  • none of the CAs are technically qualified to hold this conversation,
  • the most natural department for gathering software requirements is not the one called "Legal and Community Advocacy" department, and
  • doing this—even just for this one project, not even counting Deltahedron's desire for this to be done more generally, to find and support many more ideas—the CA team would have to stop at least some of what they're already doing (e.g., answering the emergency contact systems and supporting community discussions about legal-related policy discussions) to make time for this.
Again: it's not their job to collect product requirements, and it would not be possible to do this in general without a massive expansion of the staff. (Since Congress was mentioned above, I'll note that each US Representative has 18 official staff members, not just four.) Should somebody do this? Maybe: Product already collects requirements for software they're building, but they have historically relied on volunteers community members to approach them with ideas for which products to build. But maybe not: Maybe we don't want a culture in which paid staff crowd out volunteers by taking over tasks that volunteers have historically done (and done well), like talking about how the site software should evolve. Maybe we want to have these discussions when the community feels like it, instead of when some staff member gets an assignment to talk about something. I can see advantages and disadvantages to the general goal. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:34, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
I note that User:Whatamidoing (WMF) has as part of her job description "ensuring that readers and editors are represented in the decision-making process and that our planned software adequately reflects user needs". I applaud her frankness in explaining that it is not actually possible for her to do so, at least in the way I propose. What would be needed for it to become possible? Deltahedron (talk) 17:21, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
What would it take for me to do what you want? It would take my boss making my main assignment be talking to 800+ WMF wikis and thousands of communities in 200+ languages about anything and everything, rather than talking to (currently) three wikis about one product. Also, as a practical matter, we would need an advanced state of human cloning technology, because the last time what you wanted was undertaken, it involved a thousand participants, including multiple staff and volunteers working full-time. If you'd like to consider the outcome (which might be a reasonable way of figuring out whether you would like to repeat this; AFAIK, the WMF has no official position on that point), then you should note that the previous iteration of your proposal decided what what the communities urgently wanted and needed was VisualEditor, Flow, and Mobile web. The proposal to minimize all that scary mathematics stuff fortunately didn't go anywhere. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:18, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
That would seem to simplify down to "more staff". How many more, would you estimate? Or, if you think the required numbers unfeasible, what alternative and less costly mechanism would achieve the required degree of ensuring that readers and editors are represented in the decision-making process and that our planned software adequately reflects user needs? Deltahedron (talk) 19:37, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
For what you're talking about, I'd estimate about 20, speaking at least 10 major languages between them, for two years—and that's just to make a plan, not to implement it. The more important parts are:
  • Would the communities of contributors want to give up thousands and thousands of hours of work on the projects, to talk about software that might or might not need any changes as far as they're personally concerned? For example, since you favor LaTeX support, are you interested in spending a couple of weeks talking to people who believe that LaTeX is a poor choice and that everything ought to be done in HTML or as static images? Would that be a productive use of your time?
  • Would the communities accept the decisions that were made by whichever contributors decided to join the process? For example, VisualEditor was identified in the last round as a key priority. But when it was announced last year, there were some people who objected to the idea of any rich text editor, because they thought that learning to use wikitext proved you were smart enough to write an encyclopedia article.
Finally, we do have mechanisms that allow editors to report their needs and wants. The main mechanism is called "posting a note on the Village Pump", which any moderately experienced editor should be both capable of finding and capable of doing. There are many other options, including contacting devs directly, talking to people at [[Mediawiki:]], filing bug reports and enhancement requests at Bugzilla:, and even writing the code yourself, for people who know how to do that. In some areas, especially tech-oriented areas like mathematics, you don't even have to do that much: Several MediaWiki developers are also members of WikiProject Mathematics, so messages there tend to get noted by people who could take action on them, if they wanted to. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:02, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Twenty sounds about right, and quite consistent with WMF budget and staffing aspirations. There are a lot of interesting points here: some specific comments
Would the communities of contributors want to give up thousands and thousands of hours of work on the projects, to talk about software that might or might not need any changes as far as they're personally concerned? I'm told that there are some 75,364 active editors on all Wikimedia projects, sp that's a few minutes each, hardly onerous.
are you interested in spending a couple of weeks talking to people who believe that LaTeX is a poor choice and that everything ought to be done in HTML or as static images? Would that be a productive use of your time? No and no. But I had to anyway, hence my desire to see a strategic and structural solution in place.
The main mechanism is called "posting a note on the Village Pump" which any moderately experienced editor should be both capable of finding and capable of doing Yes, if you happen to be an English-speaking editor on Wikipedia. We have been told that there are 800+ WMF wikis and thousands of communities in 200+ languages. Are they all likely to be able to go there?
There are many other options Indeed, and that is part of the problem, not part of the solution, as I know having spent time navigating some of the many options. I would hesitate to say that it's a way of giving non-staff the runaround, but it does seem that there's always another page somewhere that I should have posted at, which staff knew about but I didn't. Surely it makes more sense for staff, who presumably know their way round the structures already, to do it.
Several MediaWiki developers are also members of WikiProject Mathematics, so messages there tend to get noted by people who could take action on them, if they wanted to My experience does not support even this limited view of engagement.
The tone suggests that everything is already catered for. I wonder whether the facts support that? The tenor seems to be that sufficiently determined editors, let's call them power users, will always find a way. But then we discover that the opinion of a small number of power users doesn't count! Previous mechanisms for developing views from the volunteer side and incorporating them effectively into WMF planning simply are not fit for purpose any more. Deltahedron (talk) 18:07, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Additional: WhatamIdoing has pointed out to me that she is a Community Liaison, not a Community Advocate as I had thought. Sorry for the confusion, but I do not think it affects either the principle or even the detail of my argument here. Deltahedron (talk) 19:44, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Risker suggests that the "biggest asset is probably the readers": actually, I'm pretty sure it's the encyclopaedia, which is what we are building here -- "the only role of the editors in that is the creation": yes, and quite an important one I would have said. Deltahedron (talk) 17:25, 21 July 2014 (UTC)
Quite. That was a rather strange and very revealing thing for Risker to have said. Eric Corbett 14:14, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Not strange at all from a narrow "head office" sort of view where you focus on money raised. It does, however, ignore the reality of product quality (which is created and maintained by those valueless editors). If the product is crap (or becomes crap), you lose customers (readers)...or they lose their willingness to feed the coffers. Intothatdarkness 15:10, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Break (WMF Engineering and the Wikipedia Community)[edit]

The underlying problem is that the WMF engineering team think they should be able to dictate what the Wikipedia community chooses to enable/disable on the Wikipedia project. No one seriously thinks they do not have the right or power to make changes to the underlying software, that is what they get paid to do. However the EN-wikipedia project community takes the view that the community is the final arbiter of what parts of that software are on and visible by default on en-wikipedia. What should be the preferred and least objectionable version of wikipedia that the public sees. Now VisualEditor (and Flow to a lesser extent) are not 'reader' centric upgrades. They are aimed at the editing community who are frankly (and justified in my opinion) unforgiving of engineers who dont listen to feedback, dont understand what is and isnt a priority, and yet still insist on ramming their badly-designed and bug-laden babies down editors throats. Media Viewer is a slightly different kettle of fish in that it is a reader-centric upgrade. However there are still valid concerns with it, and the community decided it should be off by default until its in better shape.

The problem this causes for the WMF engineering team is that they *need* en-wikipedia to adopt their software upgrades to justify their budget and staffing. Its the biggest and most PR/newsworthy project. Its not satisfactory to them to say 'Well we have done all this but no one is using it'. This isnt really their fault, as there is a clear lack of oversight, targets & goals, project management etc etc. The only validation they get is seeing their work turned on on en-wiki. If the engineering team had proper leadership and oversight, they wouldnt be in the place they are now, having software after software rejected by the wiki-project's communities.

Its within Arbcom's scope to say 'This is our project, we will decide what we want to use of your software'. If the WMF does not want to accept that, then it needs to start acting professionally within its engineering teams and not like a bunch of amateurs. There is a proposal for an oversight committee that is a good start, but without dismantling some of the WMF's engineering fiefdoms, I dont really expect it to do much. Only in death does duty end (talk) 23:15, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

An interesting proposal, and well worth further consideration.—Neotarf (talk) 16:22, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

They deployed it too early. That's all. They did it again. Too many bugs. Too many important functions missing or poorly implemented. Again. Yes, there will always be troglodytes who resist any change, and editors who seem oblivious to the existence of that other stakeholder, the reader. Those people can always be ignored. But here there are many critical faults being reported by sane volunteers and the WMF's response is, "Aww, people always bellyache about new stuff. They just need to learn where the buttons are." Again. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:32, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

I haven't followed the discussions on MediaViewer closely, but I did have it enabled in beta for several months before it was made mandatory. Were they still receiving complaints of broken or missing features that were legitimately broken and missing features as opposed to "it moved, I don't like it, put it back"? If yes, then I would agree launch was premature. As to the latter point, I agree somewhat with your characterization of WMF's oft-used response to community complaints, but I have to admit that we as a community have partially done that to ourselves. Many people - again, myself included - have railed against changes simply because they were changes. The amount of static we've helped to create has helped to drown out legitimate concern and feedback in some cases. Resolute 15:10, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
@Resolute: Here's the list of open bugs. I think that they have an interesting idea, and they've made some major improvements... nonetheless, every developer (even for free software) has to face the harsh reality of the marketplace eventually. Wnt (talk) 00:02, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

I think there is more going on here. The thing is that the MediaWiki software is used in tens of thousands of web sites (some fairly important) outside of Wikipedia. I think it's important that the developers of MediaWiki be completely free to do whatever improvements they want/need without Wikipedia breathing down their necks. However, Wikipedians must be the ultimate decision-makers in whether we wish to upgrade to some new and (arguably) improved version - or whether we'd prefer to wait things out on a maintenance branch of our own until things stabilize enough to be used here. Ideally, things like the visual editor, the new media viewer and flow should be options that can be turned on and off - preferably by individual users of Wikipedia. Rather than turning something on by default and waiting for a slew of complaints - we should provide it as an option and carefully inform users that they can turn it on if they like it.

Obviously, there will come a time when some very ancient option that very few people still use needs to be dumped in order to streamline some newer functionality - but it should be easily possible to look at the user base statistics and say "Well - less than 1% of editors are using this - we can just dump it now."

The deal here is that both communities need the freedom to do their thing. That's what makes people happy. That's what allows innovation. If the software team produce a feature that's truly a massive win - then people will flock to use it. If they produce something that's basically just eye-candy, they won't. That's how you figure out what your users want. SteveBaker (talk) 14:23, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

  • Let me ask a candid question. From what I read above it appears that Jimbo's position is much closer to the MV's team than to the editors'. Is that is indeed the case, how can he represent this community in the dispute? -- Alvesgaspar (talk) 20:05, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
    • Perhaps you could explain in exactly which particulars you find my position to be "closer to the MV's team than to the editors" as a first step. I don't think that's true at all, but I also think that the whole "editors versus developers" meme is factually mistaken and the result of not having a robust view into all sides. What the developers need is non-insulting factual (NPOV) summaries of existing problems and desired solutions. A whole lot of AGF is called for.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:01, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
      • @Jimbo Wales: In order to represent the editors in a hypothetical dialogue with WMF, you should share with the community a couple of important convictions: (1) That MV was implemented prematurely as the default viewer: because it was not ready and because the community was not consulted as it should; (2) That a vast majority of the editor’s community in en:WP does not consider MV useful. That is demonstrated by the poll made by WMF in June; (3) That a vast majority of the editor’s community in en:WP consider that MV should not be implemented by default. That was demonstrated in a recent RfC, whose results are in line with the WMF poll. In my opinion no effective dialogue is possible while MV continues to be the default viewer. I would be honored to have you as my representative in this dispute. However, in what you have written above I see no clear indication that you share with the community any of those convictions. Please correct me if I am wrong. Alvesgaspar (talk) 21:44, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
        • @Alvesgaspar:You are wrong, as it turns out, but it is also important to note that my personal opinions of MV are of absolutely no relevance. I don't go to the Foundation with my personal software gripes elevated to a position of privilege. Instead I work to move forward dialog in a constructive way. What I have been asking for - and still hope to get - is an NPOV summary of the problem, stripped of all insult and hypothesizing about the eeeeevil motives of the Foundation or the developers, so that I can consult with them in a constructive way.  :-) To repeat the important point here: I wouldn't be of much use as a voice for the community, if I have to agree with everything the community says before voicing it. Please reconsider that part of your idea.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 11:12, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
          • @Jimbo Wales: I’m afraid there are two misunderstandings here: the first is about the concept of representative. If you want to be our representative, then your view of the problem must be identical to ours, at least in its fundamental points. A different thing, apparently more in line with what appears to be your personal opinion and status, is to be a mediator between the community of editors and WMF. The second misunderstanding is about scope. Of course, you are worried about the big picture: how to modernize the rather primitive interface of Wikimedia and involve the community of volunteers in the process? However, that is not the object of the recent RfC or the specific focus of the present conflict. My opinion is that in order to start dealing with the big problem, we will have to solve the small one first. Otherwise animosity between the two parties will tend to increase and AGF to erode rapidly. I fail to understand why the MV team hasn’t yet acknowledged that they did wrong and hasn’t yet retracted with its decision to make MV a default. Could it be pride? Or the very human reluctance of losing the face? I don’t think it is that difficult to write a NPOV description of the facts concerning the MV problem. That is what I did in my last post, with no insults or suggestion of evils motives ;-). The bottom line: yes, maybe you could act as a good mediator between the community of editors and WM; no, I don’t think you could represent the community in the present conflict: that is the role of ArbCom. Alvesgaspar (talk) 17:41, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
            • @Alvesgaspar: "If you want to be our representative, then your view of the problem must be identical to ours, at least in its fundamental points." That's just not true and couldn't possibly be made operational. There is a vast and diverse editing community who disagree about all sorts of things. But that's really a philosophical question because, as I've said, it's just mistaken that I don't agree. I can represent that community very effectively by communicating consensus and majority viewpoints clearly. It would be inappropriate for me to require that I agree with everything before I do so, and no one could possibly represent a community all the time under that condition. Second "I don't think it is that difficult to write a NPOV description of the facts concerning the MV problem. That is what I did in my last post..." Can you point me to the diff, because I'm not sure what you mean. Could we pull that out of whatever thread it is in, and start a separate document? User talk:Jimbo Wales/NPOV report on problems with MV how about? That'd give me something to use as a basis for advocacy.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:16, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
              • @Jimbo Wales: I have done what you asked for, please check User talk:Jimbo Wales/NPOV report on problems with MV. But I don't agree with your interpretation of what a representative of the community should be. I see two possibilities: either your were elected to represent us all in whatever situation (the case of ArbCom); or you were accepted in some ad hoc fashion to represent the community in a specific situation. In such case it seems obvious that you POV should be the same as the one of the editors you represent. Giving a carte blanche would never be accepted. Alvesgaspar (talk) 21:26, 25 July 2014 (UTC)
                • Jimbo, is that what you were looking for? Or something more along the lines of a summary of open bugs that listed them by severity and indicated which, if any, should be considered show-stoppers? Wbm1058 (talk) 18:18, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Why would you think that Jimbo's role was to represent the community in this dispute?—Kww(talk) 15:34, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Because of the implicit invitation in the first comment of this thread and of his response above: ... and much thanks to those who have asked me to represent the community on these issues (which, of course, I very much desire to do). -- Alvesgaspar (talk) 16:00, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

One thing people are missing here is that "we don't like changes, why did you move this stuff around" is a legitimate complaint. Arbitrarily changing the user interface so the designers can feel they've accomplished something is one of the scourges of bad software design.

I'm also astonished at the suggestion that Wikipedians "compromise". What does it even mean to compromise with tearing something down and replacing it? Tearing down half of it and replacing the half?Ken Arromdee (talk) 16:06, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

Indeed, all change comes as a cost. Sadly, the people making the change very often are not the ones paying the cost. Deltahedron (talk) 16:45, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
To be fair, you should say that they don't pay the same cost. They likely have a lot of other costs (monetary and other) related to a situation of NOT changing, and they have directs costs for the change itself. The problem is that those are not visible to you and don't have short term impact on you. This is the 'consumers don't care'-problem. But our movement (also its software consumers) does have to care, because we are the reason there is a foundation, and the ones shaping it's future. So in my opinion we have a responsibility to take a wider view for problems that we face.—TheDJ (talkcontribs) 13:27, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Well the ArbCom represents the editor community, as it was elected by the community. Readers, who don't edit and thus don't vote, can only be represented by reputable neutral third-party-produced opinion polls and analysis of site traffic (page reads). Jimbo's request that someone write up an NPOV summary of the issues is reasonable, but is a distraction from other priorities for those who might take the time to do this in a quality way. I've already taken time to give feedback on Visual Editor and Flow, and am frustrated that I only got so far in discussions with product management before the conversation stalled. I would like to know who asked for the Media Viewer, and at what level the decision to undertake the project was approved. – Wbm1058 (talk) 20:20, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
  • ArbCom, while elected, does not directly represent the editor community, as they all have opinions of their own. In fact, no one can be said to "represent the editor community". If representation of editors is what you want, an RfC would be closer, but still not close enough. KonveyorBelt 00:14, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
    What you are suggesting is that for Wikipedia, a direct democracy should be preferred over a representative democracy. But the WMF is saying that they have issues with the self-selected participation levels in our direct democracy-based requests for comment. If you don't like the way ArbCom handles this case, then you can vote them out of office. Wbm1058 (talk) 13:28, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

I asked a couple of simple questions:

  1. who asked for the Media Viewer – and in what venue did they ask? please link to where discussion was initiated, if possible.
  2. at what level was the decision to undertake the project approved? Board of Directors? Executive Director? Head of Product Management? A product manager under him? Please link to where approval was given if possible

Anyone have answers? Wbm1058 (talk) 13:45, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Hi, I don't have answers to all of these questions but I could try to find out if I can understand the purpose of the questions. Why does it matter "who asked" and "in what venue"? Is it your view that it is always improper for the community to propose new features? Always improper for staff to propose new features? I just don't see how it could be of interest at this point to know who asked for it.
In terms of "what level was the decision to undertake the project approved" I can only say that it quite properly was not at the board level. If you want my opinion as to where the right level of management for that sort of approval should be it should be with the relevant head of product. (I.E. a relatively straightforward product improvement doesn't need ED signoff, but individual developers shouldn't allocate resources without management review at the appropriate level). There can be reasonable deviations in specific cases (where the feature is very minor, or where it is very major, then a higher or lower level of approval would be fine). Given that general discussion, can you understand why I'm not sure why you are even asking this.
Isn't this a better question: "What are the specific problems that people have with the Media Viewer and how can they best be communicate to the appropriate level of the WMF organization so that fixes and improvements can be implemented in a timely fashion?" That's the question that I'm asking you: what's the problem, written up unemotionally, so that I can make sure that the right people hear about it and respond appropriately.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 14:14, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
There are two issues here. (1) Whether a project which uses readers' donations of money should be undertaken at all, and (2) Once undertaken, whether it is ready to go "live". The discussion above is mostly about the second question, but that presupposes that the first question was already answered satisfactorily. So my questions here are getting at the first question, which presumably was already answered satisfactorily. This should just be a matter of public record, as this is a charity dealing with donated money. I don't see why the answers to these questions should be secret or controversial. As to whether the community or the staff should propose new features, I don't think it should matter. May the best ideas get funding, regardless of where they came from. If there is one person making a proposal, and then approving their own proposal without adequate review, then that would be a problem. Routinely publishing information on this sort of decision making would remove any doubt that might be the case. While this isn't as big a project as VE or Flow, I don't see it as very minor either. Wbm1058 (talk) 16:24, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
The "purpose of the questions" is simple, Jimbo. The WMF seems to be implementing features that make things "modern" without sufficient engagement with the community to make sure that they will actually improve things and without spending time understanding the editing flow. Combine that with the dismissive attitude towards "power users" and you have a breeding ground for problems. Quite simply, there's nothing about Media Viewer that I could describe as an "improvement" unless you presume the reason I want to examine the image is to get a larger version of the image, which I rarely want to do. Flow actually seems designed to intentionally interfere with our normal communication methods, ostensibly on the grounds that the reason people have a hard time joining the community is that editing talk pages is hard. In practice, it seems to be designed to encourage brief, superficial discussion without allowing us to branch into subtopics as easily.
All of this seems based on the strange concept that we need to grow the editing base by some substantial margin. Why would we do that? Are we falling behind? Are the 4 million or so articles that have been created inadequate? It's no great surprise that any project that has created this mass of material has idiosyncratic ways of producing it. I've never worked for a company that said "the people working on this project have developed a largely successful method of producing product. Let's go disrupt all that so that we can hire more employees!".—Kww(talk) 14:06, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
This is another huge issue, I think. As English WP fleshed out, the need is not for more editors, it is for better editors, at least as far as content writing is concerned. Obviously, vandalism policing and copy editing are different subsets of volunteers and may have different needs. Gone are the days when we want Joe IP to drop by and "add what he knows" about parsley or the atomic bomb, in the hopes that somebody else will come along an fix his errors and that through the magic of "crowdsourcing" a fine article will result. Specialized topics need specialized writers with access to specialized sources. It's not about counting noses and feeling the need for quantitatively more — it's a matter of targeted recruitment. (Again YMMV for copy editors and vandal fighters). Carrite (talk) 21:09, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Tim makes a really good point. Editing has changed a lot in the past nine years. It used to be much easier to stroll by and drop in a packet of information. As our standards have increased, making substantial content edits (as opposed to gnoming) requires a great deal more energy and concentration. My general impression of the big, controversial software projects (AFT, Visual Editor) is that they've largely focused on the barrier to initial entry: going from being a non-Wikipedian to being make small edits. They don't address the much larger barrier (IMO) that exists between making little tweaks and typo fixes to actually writing paragraphs of well-sourced and well-formatted content. Software can't do anything about the cognitive load of having to read and integrate multiple sources, but what it can do is abstract away the technical details of reference formatting, template syntax, etc. that crop up in making a polished article. The initial release of VE lowered the first barrier, but if anything, it made the second barrier worse, which I think accounts for a great deal of the ill-will surrounding its introduction.
I understand that there are plans afoot to overhaul the citation system. [2] A good implementation of reference management in Visual Editor and the ability to make bibliographic queries on our article base is the sort of thing that could vastly improve editor productivity, and I would expect it to be quite well-received. (Although I don't doubt that there will be an angry minority complaining about any change and trying to stonewall the whole thing with WP:CITEVAR.) Choess (talk) 00:49, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
If a "power user" has no idea in what venues accepted project proposals are proposed, and what the process is by which accepted project proposals are accepted, what chance do they have of submitting an accepted project proposal themselves? It seems that "power users" are shut out of the process. – Wbm1058 (talk) 15:01, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
I would myself be intrigued to learn how this and other projects were conceived and approved. The new ED of WMF, Lila Tretikov, at the July Metrics Meeting in San Francisco included the slogan "You Work For The Users" in her presentation, without managing to say exactly of whom she speaks of as "Users" — the readers or the volunteers who write, edit, and maintain this site. These two questions: (1) How are projects conceived and approved by WMF? and (2) Which so-called "users" does WMF think it is working for? seem critical. Carrite (talk) 15:34, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
You're absolutely right for the need for more explanation there. The truth is, that for the Foundation as a whole, I think Lila means all the users (readers and editors of all experience levels). Balancing these user groups is something we have to do at the top level of the organization and its planning for the year and beyond. It's when it comes to any individual feature or change to the site however where we need to be more specific. I think this is where TheDJ's comments below are helpful. If there's a lack of clarity about A) who something is for B) our theory about why it's improvement C) data of some kind to show whether we were remotely correct or not, then that's a problem. Communicating this stuff to thousands of people isn't easy, but that doesn't mean we can't do better. I think everyone working on software at WMF would echo that sentiment. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 18:44, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Adding something constructive to this conversation: I have never been formally surveyed about what I need as a content writer on this site. I assume that is true for other content writers, copy editors, vandal fighters, and administrative facilitators. WMF needs to immediately figure out who those 10,000 or so Very Active Editors are across the projects and to systematically and regularly ask them things. Projects should emerge from actual needs. That's the huge disconnect, I think. Also: stop calling the active volunteer community "power users." It is insulting. Carrite (talk) 15:45, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
The last general editor survey did include questions about what tools people desire, and I believe we're working on another one. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 18:45, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Great, but I think you should do two surveys: (1) A randomized general-editor survey to determine what would help casual, occasional editors make fewer mistakes. (2) A survey of all, for lack of a better term, power-editors to determine what tools might help them fix the errors and omissions of the casuals. A better de-orphaning tool immediately comes to mind. We have something developed by a volunteer, but could use better. Wbm1058 (talk) 19:03, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Hey, we have an article on Power users: it does seem like an insult to call template editors, Lua module coders and bot operators. Wbm1058 (talk) 17:57, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
Personally I use the term 'advanced users', which to me includes active (and invested) editors that are involved with common tasks. Be it discussions for deletion, clerical work, write JS tools or lua modules, do spell fixes, write FA articles, sort categories, issue blocks or protect pages, crop or rotate pictures, cleanup wikicode, preventing link rot, adding sources etc etc etc. Basically people that have build up expertise that is very specific to building the encyclopedia. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 07:21, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Right. If an expert PHP programmer leaves Wikipedia, they can easily be replaced. But a PHP programmer who also has built up expertise that is very specific to building the encyclopedia, that is a skill that is priceless to Wikipedia, but alas, nontransferable to another position for the programmer. Wbm1058 (talk) 13:51, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
I just ran across the Multimedia usability project report on a project funded by the Ford Foundation which developed the file upload wizard. Hey if the Media Viewer was funded by a similar corporate grant, and the grantor is happy with the project, that's good. Cool usability videos in this report, and it seems that this was implemented quietly and with no or minimal drama. What a contrast with MV. Is there a similar project report for Media Viewer? Wbm1058 (talk) 19:03, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
I don't believe that any such report exists, although one may be written in the future.
However, have you heard of the "not my wiki" problem before? Things that happen on another wiki don't "count" as far as people "here" are concerned. Upload Wizard's deployment happened "quietly and with no or minimal drama" because it didn't happen at your wiki. There are several dozen archives as well as discussions like this that suggest your assessment, made a couple of years later and from the vantage point of another wiki, might not be based on full information. That said, it was a relatively successful product introduction, with only a minority of users demanding that it be immediately turned off for all users. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:11, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
OK, I was thinking of Wikipedia:File Upload Wizard when I wrote that. Is Commons' wizard a totally unrelated product? Off hand it seems like there should be some synergy between the two. What I do know is that Wikipedia:File Upload Wizard was a big improvement and that {{error}} transclusions from the poorly designed {{logo fur}} slowed to a crawl after the new wizard replaced the previous process. Wbm1058 (talk) 22:38, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
I assume it's the same, but I'm not sure. Different communities (and subcommunities) often have different reactions to the same software. The first community is usually the least pleased (because they get all the bugs and unfinished design issues), but a "specialist" community often is less happy than a community that is less dependent on the software.
The way someone became a major contributor to Commons pre-deployment was to know how to use the old software, right? So completely new software is low on their priority list, and the benefits have to be substantial for the frustration and time spent learning the new system to be worthwhile to them personally. The old system, by definition, was basically working for them.
Now, for someone who was having problems because of the old system—the old system that they gave up on, or that they used in ways that produced all those errors—the new system might be easier to learn than the old one, and it's probably good for them. However, they're not present (because of all those problems they encountered with the old system). The deployment process rarely hears from those users. The comments after a deployment come disproportionately from the established contributors. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:33, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. Taking that a little further, what mechanisms are in place for the various proposals to be made and triaged, and for preferences and requirements, costs and benefits to be captured, assessed and prioritised? As an example, how was this done for VE, Flow and VM? Are those mechanisms reviewed, discussed and assessed as fit for purpose? Deltahedron (talk) 05:58, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

I consider the whole above discussion ample proof of why the whole process will simply never work satisfactory. Too many differing expectations, too much build around volunteers (software and website). You can never even come close to the efficiency of a company and at the same time you are expected to deliver better quality than a company. It's the most expensive development model there is on the lowest budget, the lowest velocity and exposed to an extreme amount of criticism. You need to be in full control and at the same time are at the mercy of a (and/or the most important) fraction of your user base. You need extreme amounts of input by the different stakeholders of the software, but if you are lucky a few stakeholders are represented in you testgroup of volunteers that are already too busy with other things. You need the most transparent communication and processes and at the same time get out of the way of everyone. You need to be Apple (One More Thing, iMac, iPhone) and Microsoft (Look this enterprise IE6 app that you never spent a dollar on in 10 years still runs on IE11). It is guaranteed to lead to conflict as soon as people stop understanding/respecting these extremely contradictory influences. In the past this used to be less of a problem. No money meant, too bad, good luck and see what happens, aka no expectations everyone is on their own. Now there is money and management and thus people have (wildly varying) expectations. In general I do see a few problems though

  • Making the project bigger than it needs to be: how and why did a lightbox imageviewer idea turn into file description page replacement before it's 1st public release ? Probably too ambitious and too much focus on long term.
  • Using opt out as the deploy strategy, instead of gradual and repetitive invite (Invite is a nudge from the website to try something and is often employed by google).
  • Feature development is overly focused on non-editors, but does often create new problems for these editors. There is no reward only 'punishment'. It's like giving a present to the youngest child and then letting it play with the oldest child. Don't be surprised if the older one crushes the toy.
  • No in your face explanation of where the opt-out is located. Make that visible to 'editors'.
  • Worse, no initial opt-out at all...

Other improvements:

  • Don't poke the bear (do stuff that you know will give en.wp everything it needs to stomp you back in the ground)
  • Explain the way the new feature works. Getting started tours should be requirements of every single new feature.
  • Put a lot more attention on the ethical principles of the community, review the software on those criteria as well as the other criteria.
  • Invest a lot more into identifying stakeholders (types of users). Forgetting institutional donations in MMV was not too handy for instance. That should have been known and documented, with possible justification based on strategy (Please inform the institutions that we are committed and show them these prelim designs for version 2 coming in august 2014).
  • Make those things part of a public specification (Wether people comment on it or not).
  • Make this a required material for every developer/product group:

These are some small things that would probably help just a bit. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 16:06, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

I agree with all
said, particularly about inviting people to try it on a large scale. Thanks, Matty.007 07:28, 24 July 2014 (UTC)
Ditto. I think the lack of response here is just a sign that everyone is bowing to Derk-Jan's insights and expertise. Wbm1058 (talk) 13:51, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Did anyone notice the massive IBM PR?[edit]

It's hard to find a single page about IBM Rational division's software that is not written like it was penned by a PR flack. JMP EAX (talk) 23:23, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

I'm not at all surprised by this, in fact I'll switch it around. Are there any examples of articles on large firms or small (mid-sized are sometimes better) that don't look like they have extensive influence from the company's PR flacks? Examples, please.
In this particular example there are about 30 articles showing the following signs: a pretty slick, well-organized presentation with nothing controversial mentioned, sourced mainly to the company and pretty boring. Nothing extraordinary here (to a non-programmer) but overall they all read like out-of-date software manuals. In fact a quick tour of about 5 articles shows a lack of some of the usual signs - e.g edit warring, long fruitless talk page discussions, an editor asserting ownership, or edits from User:Jackat XYZCorp.
Well there is one from an editor who describes himself as "Paul is Senior Rhapsody Product Marketing Manager at IBM working with major customers worldwide to successfully develop software and systems using state-of-the-art Model Driven Development tools and methodologies."
Which brings me to my point. A lot of these folks had no clue that this type of editing is unethical. They must have thought that Wikipedia was magically put on this earth to provide companies with free advertising. They weren't "really breaking any hard-and-fast rules" and many users, even admins, seem to have encouraged this type of editing.
Given the overwhelming results of the RfC on the ToU change, it's clear that our standards are tightening up, but there's still a way to go before it can be said that we are systematically avoiding new articles like this.
Then there's the question of how to get rid of the old stuff like IBM Rational. How many articles are there like this? The "offer" of free advertising on one of the world's busiest websites probably led to some huge numbers. 250,000? 500,000?
Specific advise to JMP EAX - get to work on the 30 article rewrites, see if you can find somebody to help you. "Slash-and burn" editing might not be completely out of place here, but you'll likely get some grief for doing so.
So what's the solution to the 2 bigger problems?
  • Stopping the flow of new articles like this, and
  • Getting rid of the huge number of old PR-inspired articles?
Smallbones(smalltalk) 01:09, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
Suggest checking whether those articles satisfy the WP:Notability guideline. --Bob K31416 (talk) 01:56, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
I will take up your challenge, Smallbones. I have written the following articles about small businesses, simply because I was interested in them, and found them notable, and in my opinion, worthy of inclusion in this free encyclopedia: Mezzetta, Sonoma TrainTown Railroad, Gladding, McBean, Hagafen Cellars, Marin French Cheese Company and Whoa Nellie Deli. No one else asked me to write any of these articles, and I wasn't paid a penny, though the winery owner gave me a 375 ml bottle after I wrote the article, which I did not ask for. They are businesses I've visited and patronized, and that I find worthy of my research and writing time. I agree that PR editing is a problem but resent the implication that all writing about businesses here is paid PR editing. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 03:54, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
Bravo! You've shown that properly documented small business articles can be written, and I apologize if you thought that I meant that every single business article is pure PR. However, I suspect that you might be the exception that proves the rule. There is one thing I'll say, even though all the articles have very high quality sources, they are all highly complimentary to their subjects. That's likely due to the nature of wine, cheese and restaurant reviews. Perhaps you'd feel uncomfortable writing about something more controversial in a small business, but in any case I'd think a set of well-written articles like this can lead to a systematic bias along the lines of "all small businesses are great." But that is just a quibble. Smallbones(smalltalk) 05:07, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
Hmmm. I appreciate your kind words, Smallbones, but am unsure whether the phrase "the exception that proves the rule" really applies to me. I am just another dedicated editor, and I come from a left wing, socialist background. So maybe, I might be inclined to be a POV pusher arguing that the evil businessmen are exploiting the workers and despoiling the environment, and all that. If I chose to edit articles about the companies I hate the most, then maybe I would have a POV pushing reputation. But when I set out to write these articles, I had no idea if I might discover something negative in reliable sources. But I didn't. Leaving aside a generalized critique of capitalism, which is a POV I simply won't push in articles about individual companies, I think that most notable, successful small businesses have generally favorable coverage in reliable sources because they succeed by doing a good job meeting the needs of their customers. And that is worthy of coverage in this encyclopedia. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:22, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
While your articles are exceptional in their sourcing and writing style, I have to say they (the 6 examples you gave) are not exceptional in the fact that they are all absolutely glowing about the subject. It's no problem with one editor doing this, but when all our articles about businesses are glowing it must be a systematic bias somewhere. I am not some raving left winger saying that all businesses are evil, but I do have the firm belief that the average business is average, they cannot all be above average, which is what our articles show.
While I do not consider myself anti-business in any way, I perhaps do have a bias against advertising and PR. Every day I'm bombarded with messages that tell me that a credit card company/bank is going to give me free money, airlines are going to give me free transportation, vitamin pills are going to make me healthier, a certain brokerage firm will make my savings grow faster, buying certain brands of (clothing, fragrances, medicines, food, cigarettes) will make me (sexier, healthier, happier, a better person). And of course everything is on sale all the time.
Our articles on business are not as bad as all the above, but they do have a tendency in that direction. Letting that systematic bias persist in an encyclopedia is a great disservice to our readers. My questions are what to do about it? Any suggestions? Smallbones(smalltalk) 12:04, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
If all the independent sources about a subject are "glowing", then the article must be equally "glowing" (although with encyclopedic language and structure rather than ad copy), because only a glowing article would accurately and neutrally reflect the sources. The "neutral point of view" is not achieved by toning down glowing sources so that the subject seems more mediocre than fabulous, or by lightening up harshly critical sources so that the subject seems more middling than evil. It is achieved by reflecting what the source happens to say. If, as happens in some cases, all the independent sources say only positive, or even wildly enthusiastic, things about a subject, then the Wikipedia article must reflect the uniform enthusiasm of the sources.
Also, Smallbones, as an example of paid PR not resulting in ad copy, you might look at the history of Vector Marketing. This article has been edited by disgruntled ex-contractors in the past, and has also had several PR firms paid to correct errors. More than half the words in the article are about lawsuits and other criticisms from the 1990s. Every attempt at adding non-disparaging information was fought tooth and nail, including someone actually saying that sales information couldn't be described because he just (magically?) knew that the daily newspaper copied the sales information from a press release (one that somehow couldn't be found anywhere), and so he insisted that the entire newspaper article, which was mostly about a local store opening, ought to be treated like a self-published press release. I can't decide whether to laugh or cry about the line in the middle of the ==Controversy== section about independent contractors not getting expenses reimbursed the way that employees do: I'm betting that it was written by a student who signed up without understanding what independent contractor means. Adding critical information, like stories about one unhappy teenager's assertion that his manager lied to him, was always very easy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:55, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
JMP EAX, I notice that this discussion has digressed from the topic of your message. It might help if you specified the articles about IBM Rational division's software with which you had concern. --Bob K31416 (talk) 14:24, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
A prototypical example of article I touched is Rational Rose. That was actually a well-known product in its day. The wiki article had 0 sources and was tagged for lack of notability and advertisement [3]. I can surely agree with the latter, but not the former. The issue is that doing "30 article rewrites", like someone suggested above, is a lot of work for an unpaid editor. By the way, most of the advertish language, albeit mixed with some useful info, was added by an IP not obviously connected to IBM [4], nowadays anyway. If you're not convinced there is a pattern, you can easily follow the links from there to see what the other related articles such as Rational Software Architect look like. JMP EAX (talk) 18:34, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
From the article's history, it looks like it's been developed in a normal way. I noticed the improvements you recently made which addressed issues mentioned in the tag at the top of the page. You changed the article from the July 22 version to the July 25 version. So you might consider changing the tag at the top of the page. Good work. Regarding "30 article rewrites", fugetaboutit. We're volunteers. --Bob K31416 (talk) 20:25, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
P.S. [5] --Bob K31416 (talk) 20:48, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
By "normal way" you mean that editors like this guy or this guy or this guy or this guy wrote most of the articles (or at least most of the contents thereof, even if someone else started it as a stub) in that area? JMP EAX (talk) 21:09, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
The article I was referring to was the one you gave as an example, i.e. Rational Rose. I just now looked in the edit history of Rational Rose[6] for the four editors (Sjweaver, Bbryson, Kkronstain, JSarberHoch) you referred to in your last message and I didn't see them. I'll take your word for their activity in other articles. --Bob K31416 (talk) 19:44, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

I don't know if it will make any difference...[edit]

Rebooted discussion[edit]

And I'm writing here just to say that I'd like this discussion to continue but with concrete proposals for improvement rather than the fight that was going on.

As for me, one proposal that I would make - just to open brainstorming - is to ask "What can the Foundation do?" and answer it with a hypothetical (which I neither support nor oppose but think worthy of consideration): imagine if the WMF hired community managers and gave them mediation training and asked them to help the community deal with civility problems. The idea here is to say: look, here is a problem worth solving, and resources to give good people time (a full time job in fact) to help solve it can be useful. There are obvious potential objections to this idea: what powers will these new WMF community managers have? Will this be a tyranny of staff? What recourse will the community have if the mediators aren't behaving properly themselves? Etc. I think it's not too hard to devise a plan which overcomes such objections. Please discuss and although Wikimania is coming up, I will read with great interest.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 17:59, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Thank you. It's an excellent idea. I have my granddaughter this morning, but I will think about it. Lightbreather (talk) 18:08, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
It is a mistake to think that language has unexplored territories. These terms are not expressive. Beyond a certain point, which has long since been passed, it is not the terms which matter but rather the overall message. This is a discussion about words, is it not? But nowhere in this discussion, unless I overlooked it, is there a discussion of wider communication, i.e., what is one is one trying to say? I think you will see that nine times out of ten the same message can be said without resorting to the questionable terms discussed. Therefore—why are questionable terms used? I don't know if questionable terms should be banned, but their use should be frowned upon. Bus stop (talk) 18:05, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
One of the reason I hatted the original discussion is that I think discussion about whether particular words should be banned or filtered is not a very fruitful approach. The problem here is not that particular words are magically bad, but that aggressive and abusive communication (whether using questionable words or not) is a huge problem. The negative impact is disproportionate across different demographics as well, which negatively impacts the quality of the encyclopedia.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:18, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Or, don't bite the newbies. Bus stop (talk) 18:28, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Give these CM regular priveleges, including the possibility of RfA, and maybe a dedicated noticeboard where they can post and discuss and uninvolved admins can act on them as needed. The CM's should be subject to the same possibility of admin imposed sanctions as anyone else. John Carter (talk) 19:12, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Jimbo, I honestly believe one of the problems Wikipedia has is separating content disputes from personal conflict. There seems to be a somewhat uneven handling of conflict, incivility and personal attacks on Wikipedia. Many times there can be a very quick response to tell editors to have a thicker skin one moment, and the next outrage that something stronger isn't being done. The uneven reaction is understandable...that is just life, but in a group or crowd sourced editors we do need a more standard approach. But a standardized approach can be difficult to achieve with so many people of differing opinion. Lightbreather had asked about a civility board, but your suggestion of paid mediators sounds interesting as well, although I would suggest these not be editors. It might be better if these were mediators that were independent of the project.

A centralized board for personal attacks sounds like a difficult arena to control, but...perhaps if we were to accept that along with dispute resolution....we should be attempting some sort of Conflict resolution the project can move forward. I just feel that, some editors cannot understand the difference between a "dispute" and a "conflict" and I am not trying to split hairs here. I truly believe that generally, disputes are over content and conflict arises as a personal issue or attack on the individuals or groups.--Mark Miller (talk) 19:29, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

  • I'm going to rescue a snippet by Wbm1058 from the hatted section that I think is very smart: "Doesn't it seem to be a double standard that we have an Orwellian friendly space policy for in-person events, but are like the Wild West online? Some balance needs to be found." — That is very true. There needs to be a reasonable place between shrill, ultra-PC, bureaucratic micromanagement of every word, thought, and action on the one hand; and intentional loutishness by those who feel they simply can on the other. The problem we face is that by attempting to write formal proscriptions of the behavior of the latter (small) group of people tends to create the first-mentioned situation, which leads to the censorship of all. And, speaking for myself, I don't find that outcome at all acceptable. Carrite (talk) 19:56, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Not one word of Eric Corbett's comment in the edit summary would ever end up on a list of "blacklisted words", if such a list were even desirable. Yet, the manner in which these innocuous words were fashioned into a sentence were clearly in violation of the foundations Terms of Use. To paraphrase, the terms state: "You are free to: [participate] Under the following conditions:  • Civility – You support a civil environment and do not harass other users." There is no ambiguity in those terms, and the foundation is egregiously remiss to not enforce them; verging on culpability. Civility needs to be elevated to the same level of enforcement as "no legal threats" and because so many administrators are willing to exploit the "second mover" advantage, wp:office is not ill-advised. The terms of use are a legally binding instrument by the way, and trampling them contemptuously as I have too often seen erodes our institutional standing in lawful commerce. So tell me, why should wp:office be out of bounds as a corrective measure?—John Cline (talk) 20:14, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Short answer: because as soon as WMF begins meddling in the daily activity of the community, there are no logical limits to their intervention. They have inspired no confidence with their so-called Friendly Space Policy, which takes "civility" to ludicrous (and offensive) extremes. Carrite (talk) 20:44, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
  • In the lead of the policy WP:NPA is the following sentence.[25]
"Derogatory comments about other editors may be removed by anyone."
Could this have been used in the example where someone was referred to with a vulgar word? --Bob K31416 (talk) 20:53, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Debating is more stimulating than creating content[edit]

I think that's the basic problem. --Bob K31416 (talk) 12:04, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

  • Nonsense. Sorry Jimbo for saying a fairly bad word here. But this is nonsense. Drmies (talk) 17:10, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Well, I don't know about that. The claim is over broad and oversimplified, but I think we can remember that sometimes debating (and/or drama) is something that people can (perhaps inadvertently) enjoy more than they should.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 17:29, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
There's the nub. (so to speak…) Some people are getting off on "cunt"; it's a pity they can't admit it (and then just enjoy it). Nomoskedasticity (talk) 17:33, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
I quit enjoying debating things on Wikipedia a long time ago, Jimbo--unless it's over some actual content-related thing. There's debate and debate. The academic debate over the grammaticality of "Between you and I" (you should read that article: it's written by one of our finest editors) is exciting, but the various debates on my talk, on ANI, on Dennis Brown's talk, on your talk, not so much. They serve only to entrench. But I'm not supposed to be a frequent visitor here; it prevents me from filling up my own talk page, so sayonara. Don't forget Alabama: you have a standing invitation to have a beer and dip in the pool in Montgomery, and when you make it down here, please don't forget to bring my admin shirt. I'll take a medium, even though--apparently--Wikipediocracy thinks it makes me look fat. Bob, article writing is more fun than most things here--Zazie in the Metro, for instance, is woefully underdeveloped. Best, Drmies (talk) 17:46, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Super. :-) I fully support what you are saying. I sometimes feel like closing my talk page and refusing to talk to anyone about policy for a week or two.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:01, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
I just took your talk page off my watch list a while back. It actually helped me to get back to content creation. I like reading the debates here but sometimes...they aren't really I understand Drmies comments and yours. Back to work (which really isn't work or I'd probably not be doing it. LOL!)--Mark Miller (talk) 20:18, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
We are I think in several topics getting to the point that some editors with a form of tunnel-vision and maybe something like ADD have decided that what matters is not the NPOV development of content, but the weight and attention it gets in a specific broad article. The "my group has this opinion on baptism, and it has to be covered fully in the Baptism article, whether there is a spinout or not." I have a feeling many of the debates we have in much of the content relating to beliefs of all sorts are driven by this need to clearly "win" in a topic. To the extent that is true, expect the problem to get worse until and unless wikibooks and longer content become better developed and known to the general public. John Carter (talk) 18:10, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

ANI Noticeboard[edit]

Jimbo, I just wanted to inform you that someone (not me) started a discussion about you at Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Incidents#Jimbo. -A1candidate (talk)

*Repeatedly hits head against desk* Can't we all just get along nicely? Dusti*Let's talk!* 20:25, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
When this sort of thing kicks off, as it regularly does, don't you just think 'who the hell would want to get involved with us'? Anyone looking in on WP from the outside must think this place is just bonkers. DeCausa (talk) 20:36, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Can we pause this? I need to go buy more popcorn. Dusti*Let's talk!* 20:39, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
Really. I can't manage to sign out long enough to watch my evening news programs. Fylbecatulous talk 20:43, 29 July 2014 (UTC)