I haven't edited much in the last few years because I was busy with work and other "real life" things, but I always figured I'd come back to contribute eventually. I love reading, writing, researching, and – above all – learning. I do not love drama, bureaucracy, cliquishness, or any of the other distractions that plagued Wikipedia when I was active, and it was cathartic to take a long break from caring about policies, guidelines, and procedures. During my absence, it seemed to me that the project was heading in the right direction: There were new UI features to make editing friendlier and easier for new users, for example, and I noticed last year that the number of WMF staff had increased exponentially. (My memory is spotty, but it feels like when I first started editing, the foundation had no more than a couple dozen full-time employees.) As far as I could tell while removed from all the on-wiki goings-on, the project was healthy and growing.
I saw the news earlier this year that Lila Tretikov was stepping down as executive director of the foundation; this struck me as unusual, given the brevity of her tenure. But I wasn't aware of the entire saga of apparent management and communication failures until I stumbled upon GorillaWarfare's timeline this week. I hadn't even heard of "Discovery" or any plans about a knowledge engine.
I am not anti-change or anti-innovation. Frankly, I don't care if the foundation decides to invest money into building a Google or Wolfram Alpha competitor. In fact, I think the community is often too stubborn and conservative when it comes to change. But what worries me is the apparent way in which mismanagement has led to a lack of oversight, transparency, and communication. The project leadership has lost sight of its core principles and, in the process, alienated a lot of community leaders for whom I had great respect. I was shocked to see how many foundation employees, many of whom began as regular old editors, have left in the past two years. The community does not run the foundation, but it's the lifeblood of the foundation's projects. The community doesn't always have to agree with the foundation's decisions, but it needs to trust the foundation and ultimately take a leap of faith and buy into the decisions that are made. It's clear to me that the trust has eroded, and there is no buy-in.
I still love the idea of building up a repository of the world's knowledge. I still love researching topics that pique my interest and I still love writing. But I don't think I could care enough about Wikipedia to spend hours writing articles now after seeing how the leadership has alienated the very people who built their projects up – both volunteers and staffers – while neglecting the crucial tenets of transparency and accountability.
I'll return when I think I can care enough again, but until then, thanks for all the fish, and try not to take this place so seriously. (Seriously, lighten up!)
/ƒETCHCOMMS/ 18:51, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
- Hey fetch, welcome back Mlpearc (open channel) 18:56, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
- Fetchcomms, I'm so glad I ran into your talk page today! It was a pleasant surprise to see this note. I've also been much less active these past few years (until very recently) and have not had the drive to do any substantial writing, so I can empathize a bit in that respect. Hope all is well with you, and I hope to see you around some time. Best wishes, Airplaneman ✈ 15:14, 4 August 2016 (UTC)
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