It's not all roses -- we might see more conflict between the two functions, more us vs. them thinking, and more communications breakdowns or forum shopping. But net I think the positives would outweigh the negatives, and there are ways to mitigate against the negatives.
—WMF Vice President of Engineering and Product Development Erik Möller
WMF Executive Director Sue Gardner was forced to clarify this week that proposed structural changes to the Foundation's Engineering and Product Development Department were not a "done deal" and that it was "important that you [particularly affected staff] realise that ... your input is wanted". The reorganisation, announced on November 5 and planned for the middle of next year, will see its two components split off into their own departments.
Gardner's remarks come in the context of a great deal of confusion about the effect of the change, particularly (but not exclusively) from contributors with little industry (or specifically WMF) experience. Similar follow-up posts have seen "Product" defined, a clarification that day-to-day work would still be co-ordinated on a "team" basis, rather than in functional groupings, and several exchanges about the optimal management strategy.
The upshot, Associate Product Manager Steven Walling said, was that what is now "one department [that] includes engineers, designers, product managers, community liaisons, data analysts, and more ... will be two departments, Engineering and Product Development. Each will have their own leaders that report to Sue, instead of everyone reporting to Erik [Möller]. Engineering will contain software engineers and their managers, for the most part. Product Development will contain designers, product managers, and data analysts, for the most part. There will also probably be new Director-level positions under the new departments, such as to manage the design team. "
The move, Möller (currently Vice President of Engineering and Product Development) argues, will allow the WMF to scale as it seeks to refocus on a smaller number of competencies, mostly notably technology. He also wants to see Operations specialists involved earlier in the development procedure and UI/UX developers' time spread more equally among projects.
Other staffing news this week included the WMF's hiring of Juliusz Gonera (whose previous work includes software for aiding the study of macromolecular structure of proteins) as a software developer in its Mobile team and Catalan-contributor Quim Gil as "Technical Contributor Coordinator (IT Communications Manager)". Wikimedia UK also managed to hire two technical contributors to fill the gap after a previous failure to find a suitable candidate for a full-time position earlier this year.
Not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for several weeks.
WMF Localisation Team member Santhosh Thottingal addressing the OpenSource Language Summit, held in Pune, India earlier this month. The conference featured on the Wikimedia blog this week.
Signpost polling retired: (from the editor) In response to apt criticism of last week's poll title, I have decided to retire the polling feature until I can devote sufficient time to administering it properly. Apologies for the inconvenience; in the meantime, readers can look back over six months' worth of polling data.
OpenSource Language Summit writeup: The Wikimedia blog this week featured a writeup of the OpenSource Language Summit, a conference co-hosted by Wikimedia and Red Hat (Wikimedia blog). The summit "focused on language tools and technology development to support languages on Wikipedia, the Web, Linux and other Open Source platforms" and "in total, 45 core language technology developers, open source contributors, typographers and technology evangelists from the Wikimedia Language Engineering and Mobile teams, Red Hat, Mozilla Foundation, KDE, GNOME, translatewiki.net and other open source projects participated in sessions and work sprints on internationalization and localization features".
Foundation appeals for women interns: Having announced its possible participation in the scheme a fortnight ago, the Foundation has now officially appealed for female developers to apply for three WMF-mentored internships. The full-time internships, part of the GNOME-led "FOSS Outreach Program for Women", last for three months (January to March 2013) and include a $5000 stipend.