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tylerromeo at gmail

Aug 21, 2012, 10:10 AM

Post #1 of 45 (4770 views)
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Wikimedians are rightfully wary

Hey,

Not sure if anybody has seen this article yet:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2012-08-20/Op-ed

Thought it was interesting and possibly worth discussion.

--Tyler Romeo
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ori at wikimedia

Aug 21, 2012, 11:46 AM

Post #2 of 45 (4680 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 10:10 AM, Tyler Romeo wrote:
> Hey,
>
> Not sure if anybody has seen this article yet:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2012-08-20/Op-ed
>
> Thought it was interesting and possibly worth discussion.
I responded on the talk page[1], taking credit for the elephants quote, apologizing for it, and providing a bit of context. I think the context changes the meaning and tone of what I wrote considerably. It sucks that it is used in this way -- to malign the efforts of my colleagues. Sorry.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia_talk%3AWikipedia_Signpost%2F2012-08-20%2FOp-ed&action=historysubmit&diff=508490521&oldid=508490153

--
Ori Livneh
ori [at] wikimedia



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tparscal at wikimedia

Aug 21, 2012, 12:04 PM

Post #3 of 45 (4692 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

That was unfortunate - I've been ridiculed (by Max) for things I've said
before as well, I feel your pain Ori.

That said however, I generally agree with this piece. I have more faith
than the author seems to have that we are on the right track to doing
better work in the future, but the points made are pretty valid. It's
difficult, but very important, to observe mistakes made in the past as to
not repeat those mistakes in the future.

One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users; and
it should be taken seriously. I also believe strongly that, as the author
suggests, we should treat editors as colleagues rather than customers.

It is true that MZ has a tendency to be dramatic, but he's holding back a
lot here to make a rational point, and I hope people don't write this off
because of Max's propensity for being offensive and complaining.

- Trevor



On Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 11:46 AM, Ori Livneh <ori [at] wikimedia> wrote:

>
> On Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 10:10 AM, Tyler Romeo wrote:
> > Hey,
> >
> > Not sure if anybody has seen this article yet:
> >
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2012-08-20/Op-ed
> >
> > Thought it was interesting and possibly worth discussion.
> I responded on the talk page[1], taking credit for the elephants quote,
> apologizing for it, and providing a bit of context. I think the context
> changes the meaning and tone of what I wrote considerably. It sucks that it
> is used in this way -- to malign the efforts of my colleagues. Sorry.
>
> [1]:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia_talk%3AWikipedia_Signpost%2F2012-08-20%2FOp-ed&action=historysubmit&diff=508490521&oldid=508490153
>
> --
> Ori Livneh
> ori [at] wikimedia
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> Wikitech-l [at] lists
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>
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ori at wikimedia

Aug 21, 2012, 12:18 PM

Post #4 of 45 (4691 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 12:04 PM, Trevor Parscal wrote:

> One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users; and

> it should be taken seriously. I also believe strongly that, as the author
> suggests, we should treat editors as colleagues rather than customers.

Yes, agreed. I've articulated my view here:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Experiments&diff=4046416&oldid=4046196

Ori


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tparscal at wikimedia

Aug 21, 2012, 12:23 PM

Post #5 of 45 (4678 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

Well said. Thank you for sharing.

- Trevor

On Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 12:18 PM, Ori Livneh <ori [at] wikimedia> wrote:

>
>
>
> On Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 12:04 PM, Trevor Parscal wrote:
>
> > One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users;
> and
>
> > it should be taken seriously. I also believe strongly that, as the author
> > suggests, we should treat editors as colleagues rather than customers.
>
> Yes, agreed. I've articulated my view here:
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Experiments&diff=4046416&oldid=4046196
>
> Ori
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> Wikitech-l [at] lists
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>
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afeldman at wikimedia

Aug 21, 2012, 12:26 PM

Post #6 of 45 (4669 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

While I don't agree with the negative sentiment around experimentation, I
think there's value both in MZMcBride's op-ed, and in the comment thread
that follows. He correctly calls out some of our long term organizational
failings around product planning, resource allocation, execution, and
follow-thru. It's almost as painful to read about LiquidThreads as it is
to use talk pages today, eight years after the LT project was first
proposed. Are we learning from our failures?

The criticism around AFTv5 in terms of product design (nevermind the code)
is largely echoed in the comments, yet we seem rather sure that we're
giving editors a tool of importance. My daily sampling of what's flowing
into the enwiki db from the feature appears to be 99% garbage, with the
onus being on volunteers to sort the wheat from the chaff. If we had a
dead simple, highly function, and well designed discussion system (see
LiquidThreads), wouldn't that be the ideal route for "high value" feedback
from knowledgeable non-editors instead of an anonymous one-way text box at
the bottom of the articles that's guaranteed to be a garbage collector?

The one thing the op-ed seems to miss is that one of the main goals of the
foundation is to attract new editors and improve the editing experience. I
think development in that direction (visual editor with a new parser
especially) is hugely promising but we also need to remain cognizant of the
needs of our community, take care in allocating resources, and integrate
feedback lest our efforts mistakenly contribute to our retention problem.

On Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 10:10 AM, Tyler Romeo <tylerromeo [at] gmail> wrote:

> Hey,
>
> Not sure if anybody has seen this article yet:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2012-08-20/Op-ed
>
> Thought it was interesting and possibly worth discussion.
>
> --Tyler Romeo
> _______________________________________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> Wikitech-l [at] lists
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l
>
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morton.thomas at googlemail

Aug 21, 2012, 12:33 PM

Post #7 of 45 (4672 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

>
> The criticism around AFTv5 in terms of product design (nevermind the code)
> is largely echoed in the comments, yet we seem rather sure that we're
> giving editors a tool of importance. My daily sampling of what's flowing
> into the enwiki db from the feature appears to be 99% garbage, with the
> onus being on volunteers to sort the wheat from the chaff. If we had a
> dead simple, highly function, and well designed discussion system (see
> LiquidThreads), wouldn't that be the ideal route for "high value" feedback
> from knowledgeable non-editors instead of an anonymous one-way text box at
> the bottom of the articles that's guaranteed to be a garbage collector?
>
>
I've been roundly critical of AFTv5; but there are good things to draw from
the process, if not the outcome.

It was nice, for example, to see Oliver assigned to bridging the
developer-editor gap. It hasn't been 100% successful but it has been
pleasant to see the feedback from developers -> wiki.

That said there were downsides; like, the tool seemed to have conflicting
aims (is it for editors? For recruitment?) and seemed to lack feedback from
wiki -> developers (the tool itself has a number of obvious "flaws" for
anyone used to dealing with the wiki eco system).

So; steps forward.

Tom
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rlane32 at gmail

Aug 21, 2012, 1:01 PM

Post #8 of 45 (4721 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 12:04 PM, Trevor Parscal <tparscal [at] wikimedia> wrote:
> That was unfortunate - I've been ridiculed (by Max) for things I've said
> before as well, I feel your pain Ori.
>
> That said however, I generally agree with this piece. I have more faith
> than the author seems to have that we are on the right track to doing
> better work in the future, but the points made are pretty valid. It's
> difficult, but very important, to observe mistakes made in the past as to
> not repeat those mistakes in the future.
>

A few of MZ's points make a lot of sense. It's sad, unfortunate and
pretty unacceptable that we're been shipping features with no
anti-vandalism or spam protection. Some of the newer interfaces do
indeed look pretty childish. AFT, in it's current form really doesn't
provide a lot of useful feedback.

That said, a number of the points are misguided. FlaggedRevs is a poor
example to be used by either the foundation or the community.
FlaggedRevs is a perfect example of how design by committee (where the
committee is the community) utterly fails. FlaggedRevs should be used
by both the foundation and the community as an example of a project
that failed because the community designed something by committee and
the foundation went along with those plans. We should never forget
this lesson.

LiquidThreads was also originally community designed. The maintainer
added every feature under the sun that the community requested, which
lead it to become a bloated and difficult to maintain piece of
software. The original design was flawed in that it used wiki pages
and wiki page revisions for storage, which leads to it being unusable
at scale. We should take this as an example of why we should avoid
featuritis as much as possible and that we should consider scalability
in initial designs to be a crucial feature.

I think the major problem with the Op-Ed is that he points the blame
fully at the foundation when the blame is a combination of the
foundation and the community. A major part of the problem is that the
feedback from the community is almost always purely negative, and this
Op-Ed is another example of that. The flip side of that is that the
foundation communicates very poorly with the community. It's difficult
to effectively communicate with the community because our
communication tools suck. Our communication tools suck because it's
very difficult to change them because it's difficult to get the
community to agree with changes. Welcome to the vicious circle.

> One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users; and
> it should be taken seriously. I also believe strongly that, as the author
> suggests, we should treat editors as colleagues rather than customers.
>

This assumes that we aren't currently. I challenge the assumption. Can
we get some evidence of that being the case? During the summer of
research we worked directly with the community as colleagues. There's
numerous other examples of this being the case.

> It is true that MZ has a tendency to be dramatic, but he's holding back a
> lot here to make a rational point, and I hope people don't write this off
> because of Max's propensity for being offensive and complaining.
>

I feel the Op-Ed takes a very negative approach at trying to solve
what is effectively a communication problem. MZ's constructive points
are very likely to be ignored because his negative and offensive
approach makes it difficult to discuss his points without splitting
the views into an us vs them debate.

- Ryan

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Platonides at gmail

Aug 21, 2012, 1:19 PM

Post #9 of 45 (4675 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On 21/08/12 22:01, Ryan Lane wrote:
>> One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users; and
>> it should be taken seriously. I also believe strongly that, as the author
>> suggests, we should treat editors as colleagues rather than customers.
>
> This assumes that we aren't currently. I challenge the assumption. Can
> we get some evidence of that being the case? During the summer of
> research we worked directly with the community as colleagues. There's
> numerous other examples of this being the case.

I think that there are both cases. Sometimes with a colleagues mind and
others with a customers view. Also with fluctuations depending of the
developer, the other person and the developer mood.


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spage at wikimedia

Aug 21, 2012, 1:20 PM

Post #10 of 45 (4670 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 12:04 PM, Trevor Parscal <tparscal [at] wikimedia>wrote:

> One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users; and
> it should be taken seriously.

Loaded terminology. "Experimenting on wikis" is one thing, while
"Experimenting on users" sounds BAD -- the lab rats will revolt! Obviously,
testing changes to a web site means presenting alternatives to users of the
web site and measuring outcomes.

(There is My preferences > Appearance > check "Exclude me from feature
experiments"; though it's probable some artifacts will leak out, as
happened for a few weeks in the bug he references.)

--
=S Page
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maxsem.wiki at gmail

Aug 21, 2012, 1:30 PM

Post #11 of 45 (4667 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On 22.08.2012, 0:20 S wrote:

> (There is My preferences > Appearance > check "Exclude me from feature
> experiments"; though it's probable some artifacts will leak out, as
> happened for a few weeks in the bug he references.)

Unfortunately, anons have no preferences and most registered users
don't know what is an experimental feature and what is not - they
can't make informed decisions here.

--
Best regards,
Max Semenik ([[User:MaxSem]])


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tparscal at wikimedia

Aug 21, 2012, 1:31 PM

Post #12 of 45 (4668 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 1:20 PM, S Page <spage [at] wikimedia> wrote:

>
> (There is My preferences > Appearance > check "Exclude me from feature
> experiments"; though it's probable some artifacts will leak out, as
> happened for a few weeks in the bug he references.)
>
> As the person who implemented that preference, I can tell you that the
reason we did so was because the lab rats indeed did revolt.

Experimenting on users - perhaps it is loaded, what I take from it though
is the way we tend to not do enough testing or evaluation as to whether a
change actually accomplishes it's objective before unleashing it on our
users. There are many cases where this has failed, and in each of those
cases we have lost the trust of our users.

- Trevor
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bawolff+wn at gmail

Aug 21, 2012, 2:50 PM

Post #13 of 45 (4659 views)
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Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

[This didn't send the first time, trying again]
Re: Ryan Lane
>That said, a number of the points are misguided. FlaggedRevs is a poor
>example to be used by either the foundation or the community.
>FlaggedRevs is a perfect example of how design by committee (where the
>committee is the community) utterly fails. FlaggedRevs should be used
>by both the foundation and the community as an example of a project
>that failed because the community designed something by committee and
>the foundation went along with those plans. We should never forget
>this lesson.
>
>LiquidThreads was also originally community designed. The maintainer
>added every feature under the sun that the community requested, which
>lead it to become a bloated and difficult to maintain piece of
>software...

I most definitely agree - WONTFIXING a request that is a "bad idea" is
just as important as fixing bugs, or implementing the good ideas. The
art is of course in being able to determine what constitutes a "bad
idea" and a "good idea". Its also important to keep in mind the
community is full of many people with different conflicting goals, you
can't blame them for requesting bad ideas or things they don't
actually want. (Just to be 100% clear, I'm not saying that you (or
anyone else) is blaming the community for that, just making the point)


>I think the major problem with the Op-Ed is that he points the blame
>fully at the foundation when the blame is a combination of the
>foundation and the community. A major part of the problem is that the
>feedback from the community is almost always purely negative, and this
>Op-Ed is another example of that.

I would disagree that all feedback from the community is negative. I
often get positive feedback from the community. Positive feedback in
my experience seems to most often happen for small bug fix type
changes, but I have seen it for larger changes as well. Then again I'm
a volunteer, so which side of the us vs them fence I fall on seems to
vary.

If a foundation project is solely receiving negative feedback, then
perhaps that is the community trying to tell the foundation something.

>The flip side of that is that the
>foundation communicates very poorly with the community. It's difficult
>to effectively communicate with the community because our
>communication tools suck. Our communication tools suck because it's
>very difficult to change them because it's difficult to get the
>community to agree with changes. Welcome to the vicious circle.

Quite frankly, the communication tools don't suck that much. It seems
that no one really uses them. When was the last time a developer
posted on the village pump asking for user feedback, or notifying
users of a change, or otherwise talking to the users? We don't even have
messages about upcoming deployments anymore [.I guess that's
because they're so frequent it might be considered spam?]. Sure there's the
occasional message, but not much. Although jorm's op-ed didn't meet
with a full 100% positive response, it did seem to be a good step in
the right direction in terms of communication as far as I can tell
from the comments it received.

>> One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users; and
>> it should be taken seriously. I also believe strongly that, as the author
>> suggests, we should treat editors as colleagues rather than customers.
>>

>This assumes that we aren't currently. I challenge the assumption. Can
>we get some evidence of that being the case? During the summer of
>research we worked directly with the community as colleagues. There's
>numerous other examples of this being the case.

I agree with MZ on this point. Furthermore it feels this problem has
gotten worse with time. (On the flip side, there is an even more
pronounced problem with the "community" treating us as service
providers instead of colleagues - so it goes both ways)

--
-bawolff

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rlane32 at gmail

Aug 21, 2012, 3:29 PM

Post #14 of 45 (4663 views)
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Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

> I most definitely agree - WONTFIXING a request that is a "bad idea" is
> just as important as fixing bugs, or implementing the good ideas. The
> art is of course in being able to determine what constitutes a "bad
> idea" and a "good idea". Its also important to keep in mind the
> community is full of many people with different conflicting goals, you
> can't blame them for requesting bad ideas or things they don't
> actually want. (Just to be 100% clear, I'm not saying that you (or
> anyone else) is blaming the community for that, just making the point)
>

Indeed. The really difficult thing here is that every time a bad idea
is WONTFIX'd it makes a community member feel that they are being
ignored. Do it too many times and you have a lot of community members
that feel this way. Don't do it enough and and the product suffers and
then there's complaints about it being bloated, difficult to use, etc.
It's difficult to win either way.

>>I think the major problem with the Op-Ed is that he points the blame
>>fully at the foundation when the blame is a combination of the
>>foundation and the community. A major part of the problem is that the
>>feedback from the community is almost always purely negative, and this
>>Op-Ed is another example of that.
>
> I would disagree that all feedback from the community is negative. I
> often get positive feedback from the community. Positive feedback in
> my experience seems to most often happen for small bug fix type
> changes, but I have seen it for larger changes as well. Then again I'm
> a volunteer, so which side of the us vs them fence I fall on seems to
> vary.
>

Not all of the feedback is negative, but the majority is. This is
actually fairly natural, though. All software has this problem. People
tend to provide negative feedback far more often than positive
feedback (think restaurants or seller reviews). What we need is more
positive feedback telling us what's going right, rather than mostly
hearing what's going wrong.

Positive feedback makes developers feel good. That may sound cheesy,
but it's pretty demeaning when people give nothing but bad feedback.
Positive feedback is far less likely to be ignored, and having a mix
of positive and negative feedback makes it more likely that negative
feedback won't get ignored due to numbness.

>>The flip side of that is that the
>>foundation communicates very poorly with the community. It's difficult
>>to effectively communicate with the community because our
>>communication tools suck. Our communication tools suck because it's
>>very difficult to change them because it's difficult to get the
>>community to agree with changes. Welcome to the vicious circle.
>
> Quite frankly, the communication tools don't suck that much. It seems
> that no one really uses them. When was the last time a developer
> posted on the village pump asking for user feedback, or notifying
> users of a change, or otherwise talking to the users? We don't even have
> messages about upcoming deployments anymore [.I guess that's
> because they're so frequent it might be considered spam?]. Sure there's the
> occasional message, but not much. Although jorm's op-ed didn't meet
> with a full 100% positive response, it did seem to be a good step in
> the right direction in terms of communication as far as I can tell
> from the comments it received.
>

When I'm doing an ops change that is user facing I write a blog post
and I post something to wikitech-l. I don't bother using village pump.
There's a reason for that. There's a *lot* of village pumps. Hundreds.
In different languages. I can't possibly handle that many different
conversations in that many languages. Even if I only post to 2-3 of
them, I still have to have the same conversation over and over again
with different sets of people.

We need a global system for communication for things like this.
Everyone should be a part of a single communication thread about
changes. All posts in the thread should be able to be translated in a
crowd-sourced manner.

Thankfully, there's messaging and notification systems planned (and
being built currently?) that will bring us part of the way there. Of
course, MZ's Op-Ed harshly criticized the Op-Ed that discussed these
systems, so it seems my point about this is kind of being proven ;).

>>> One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users; and
>>> it should be taken seriously. I also believe strongly that, as the author
>>> suggests, we should treat editors as colleagues rather than customers.
>>>
>
>>This assumes that we aren't currently. I challenge the assumption. Can
>>we get some evidence of that being the case? During the summer of
>>research we worked directly with the community as colleagues. There's
>>numerous other examples of this being the case.
>
> I agree with MZ on this point. Furthermore it feels this problem has
> gotten worse with time. (On the flip side, there is an even more
> pronounced problem with the "community" treating us as service
> providers instead of colleagues - so it goes both ways)
>

Can you provide us with some examples? I'd like to see what's been
happening so that I can avoid behaving similarly.

- Ryan

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Platonides at gmail

Aug 21, 2012, 3:55 PM

Post #15 of 45 (4699 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On 21/08/12 23:50, bawolff wrote:
>> LiquidThreads was also originally community designed. The maintainer
>> added every feature under the sun that the community requested, which
>> lead it to become a bloated and difficult to maintain piece of
>> software...
>
> I most definitely agree - WONTFIXING a request that is a "bad idea" is
> just as important as fixing bugs, or implementing the good ideas. The
> art is of course in being able to determine what constitutes a "bad
> idea" and a "good idea". Its also important to keep in mind the
> community is full of many people with different conflicting goals, you
> can't blame them for requesting bad ideas or things they don't
> actually want. (Just to be 100% clear, I'm not saying that you (or
> anyone else) is blaming the community for that, just making the point)

This is an important point. Pretty much everyone here can "accept" a bug
(by coding the feature), but when to "reject" it?
I'm sure there's a number of "bad-ideas" bugs which nobody closed.
Because "who am I to decide on this?", "this might be implemented in an
extension if it's really needed...", etc.

I don't think it's a problem for "clearly wrong bad ideas", IMHO they
are properly closed (even then, I prefer that several people chime in
saying so before closing, showing that there is consensus in not doing it).
But there's a gray area inbetween. Some even had commits or got implemented.


(LQT had a lead developer, so it would have been much easier, but I
wanted to center into the general case)


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sumanah at wikimedia

Aug 21, 2012, 3:58 PM

Post #16 of 45 (4661 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On 08/21/2012 06:29 PM, Ryan Lane wrote:
> When I'm doing an ops change that is user facing I write a blog post
> and I post something to wikitech-l. I don't bother using village pump.
> There's a reason for that. There's a *lot* of village pumps. Hundreds.
> In different languages. I can't possibly handle that many different
> conversations in that many languages. Even if I only post to 2-3 of
> them, I still have to have the same conversation over and over again
> with different sets of people.
>
> We need a global system for communication for things like this.
> Everyone should be a part of a single communication thread about
> changes. All posts in the thread should be able to be translated in a
> crowd-sourced manner.

Just a quick note that the wikitech-ambassadors list
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-ambassadors is
helping with this, and is going to be helping more -- I'll wait for
Guillaume to lead the conversation about this, hopefully in the next 2
weeks.

--
Sumana Harihareswara
Engineering Community Manager
Wikimedia Foundation

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quimgil at gmail

Aug 22, 2012, 10:36 AM

Post #17 of 45 (4660 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 3:29 PM, Ryan Lane <rlane32 [at] gmail> wrote:
> Indeed. The really difficult thing here is that every time a bad idea
> is WONTFIX'd it makes a community member feel that they are being
> ignored.

In fact users filing bugs feel really ignored when nobody reacts to
their reports. Getting a WONTFIX means that someone cared enough in a
context where there is no lack of issues to deal with. Making this
point clear to anybody getting a WONTFIX is a first step toward a
happy ending.

> Do it too many times and you have a lot of community members
> that feel this way. Don't do it enough and and the product suffers and
> then there's complaints about it being bloated, difficult to use, etc.
> It's difficult to win either way.

Most people filing bugs do understand this, specially after someone
explains this point to them once. They usually understand it even
better when such explanation doesn't come necessarily from the
powerful professional maintainer but from another peer with just a
little more experience.


>>>I think the major problem with the Op-Ed is that he points the blame
>>>fully at the foundation when the blame is a combination of the
>>>foundation and the community. A major part of the problem is that the
>>>feedback from the community is almost always purely negative, and this
>>>Op-Ed is another example of that.

The expression "the foundation and the community" is at the core of
the problem. If there is one problem and two sides then it's too easy
for any independent contributor to be in a different page than a WMF
employee. In practice what everybody wants is one community and a
myriad people with different levels and tonalities of engagement,
expertise and focus.

Engaged and skillful developers not working for the WMF are as
important for this biosphere as motivated ambassadors willing to test
and follow new developments. In many or most cases they are in a
better position to tell other contributors why something deserves a
WONTFIX or more constructive criticism, and get a positive response.
Of course this only works when core developers are sharing, discussing
and working together at least with those most engaged contributors.
And when those contributors feel informed and entitled to answer more
junior (or more upset) community members.

In the context of the http://maemo.org community we have got plenty of
chances to fall into non-productive fights between @nokia.com
developers and upset users. Having some layers of empowered community
members in between (including a Bugsquad team entirely made of
volunteers [1]) helped a lot to build a common understanding and more
constructive discussions.

[1] http://wiki.maemo.org/Bugsquad

--
Quim Gil /// http://espiral.org

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bawolff+wn at gmail

Aug 22, 2012, 12:56 PM

Post #18 of 45 (4627 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 7:29 PM, Ryan Lane <rlane32 [at] gmail> wrote:
>> I most definitely agree - WONTFIXING a request that is a "bad idea" is
>> just as important as fixing bugs, or implementing the good ideas. The
>> art is of course in being able to determine what constitutes a "bad
>> idea" and a "good idea". Its also important to keep in mind the
>> community is full of many people with different conflicting goals, you
>> can't blame them for requesting bad ideas or things they don't
>> actually want. (Just to be 100% clear, I'm not saying that you (or
>> anyone else) is blaming the community for that, just making the point)
>>
>
> Indeed. The really difficult thing here is that every time a bad idea
> is WONTFIX'd it makes a community member feel that they are being
> ignored. Do it too many times and you have a lot of community members
> that feel this way. Don't do it enough and and the product suffers and
> then there's complaints about it being bloated, difficult to use, etc.
> It's difficult to win either way.

While that's certainly true some of the time, if a good reason is provided
for wontfixing, there are also many users who will accept that not all bugs can
be fixed, and will be happy someone took the time to look into the issue.
(These types of users tend also to be the quiet type, so we hear about
them less)



[..]
>>>> One of the most important points here is about experimenting on users; and
>>>> it should be taken seriously. I also believe strongly that, as the author
>>>> suggests, we should treat editors as colleagues rather than customers.
>>>>
>>
>>>This assumes that we aren't currently. I challenge the assumption. Can
>>>we get some evidence of that being the case? During the summer of
>>>research we worked directly with the community as colleagues. There's
>>>numerous other examples of this being the case.
>>
>> I agree with MZ on this point. Furthermore it feels this problem has
>> gotten worse with time. (On the flip side, there is an even more
>> pronounced problem with the "community" treating us as service
>> providers instead of colleagues - so it goes both ways)
>>
>
> Can you provide us with some examples? I'd like to see what's been
> happening so that I can avoid behaving similarly.

Honestly, I think its easier to see there is a problem when you look
at how community treats developers, rather then developers treat the
community. I think individual developers by in large do a good job
here, it is more in the planning stages (and possibly deployment)
where things go wrong.

When you mention negativity, I think that is a symptom of the "service
provider mentality" problem. After all, your internet service provider
would really have to go above and beyond the call of duty before you
called them up and told them what a good job they did. While I don't
think the feedback is all negative, I do notice that sometimes it
seems the third party re-users of MediaWiki tend to be more
understanding and polite than the Wikimedia users.

I'm not a Wikipedian, nor have I ever been. I follow enwikipedia
politics only so much as what happens to make the Signpost. So the
following may be misguided. However, with that said I think a strong
contributing factor is the way that foundation projects targeting
enwiki are just done, without first asking the community for
permission first. From what I understand moodbar, article feedback,
etc were all deployed without gathering consensus first. Gathering
consensus helps ensure that the individual wiki communities feel like
they own their communities, that they are in control. From this I
believe would result in a more "colleague" relationship with the
community as opposed to a service provider relationship. Having
consensus for doing the enwiki targeted projects would also help give
the foundation legitimacy in what it does.

That said, I'm not advocating getting consensus for every little
change. Security and performance concerns always have and always will
be the realm of the developers. Similarly I don't believe new features
in mediawiki that are on by default need consensus - generally such
features are non-controversial, and there's a lot of them. If
something gets enabled for everyone, we're usually pretty confident
that people will like it, and that it doesn't need much explaining.
Similarly extensions, or config changes that are going to all wikis do
deserve some sort of notice, but again for the same reason as new MW
features, I don't think consensus in general needs to be sought (There
are of course exceptions I'm sure. And individual communities should
perhaps be able to reject such deployments, but the onus should be on
the community to reject). However, when one starts focusing on a
single wiki, I really believe one should get permission from that wiki
first.

That of course has a downside - What if foundation hires X people to
develop feature, and enwikipedia rejects it. After all features aren't
free, and that would represent a wasted investment. I think such an
"employees need consensus" policy would have the side effect of
forcing employees to really make sure that what they are doing vibes
with what the community wants.

--
-bawolff

p.s. Since I don't follow enwikipedia, or developments targeted there
very closely, this email will be very embarrassing if Moodbar et al
folks actually did gather consensus before deployment

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nemowiki at gmail

Aug 22, 2012, 3:11 PM

Post #19 of 45 (4629 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

About colleagues vs. customers: I don't think it can be considered a
misunderstanding by the community, it's largely due to what the WMF
really wants.
The WMF, as the article puts it, doesn't [necessarily] want to work
better with the existing community (-> colleagues) by providing what's
felt useful /for them/ to get things done; instead, it largely assumes
that what's disliked or even plainly harmful now is actually good, if it
can attract a new demographic of users which will like it (-> new
customers).
And more: changing the demographic by ignoring the existing one is
sometimes the very aim of changes; community is assumed broken (it
scares people off), consensus even more so (we can't get anything
decided, we need "leaders" – surely not pre-emptive consensus), nobody
is indispensable (we have a big turnover, we only need to improve "_new_
editors retention"). And yes, this sometimes borders social experiments
(eugenetics? :-) ).
I'm not going to prove all this*; it's nasty to "the community", but
there's also a lot of truth in it and all in good faith.

Nemo

(*) I could quote individual WMF developers or officers but that would
be tough and unnecessary: it's the official strategy, just seen from a
different perspective (by stretching it a bit perhaps).

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tparscal at wikimedia

Aug 22, 2012, 3:28 PM

Post #20 of 45 (4674 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

The idea that we are trying to attract new users at the detriment of the
existing ones is putting words in our mouths, but I do know what you mean.
The good news is that many of us are very conscious about these issues.

Here are some excerpts, for instance from the VisualEditor software design
document[1]:

- "Visual editing should first improve the usability of the most common
tasks. Less frequent tasks may still be performed using a source code
editing mode."
- "Visual editing should enhance, not degrade, the ability to inspect
what was changed between revisions."
- "At the very least, a visual editor should not make more work for
administrators and editors who are reviewing edits done by others."

VisualEditor isn't alone in these beliefs, but I realize also that they are
not held widely (yet) enough either.

[1] http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/VisualEditor/Software_design#Objectives

- Trevor

On Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 3:11 PM, Federico Leva (Nemo) <nemowiki [at] gmail>wrote:

> About colleagues vs. customers: I don't think it can be considered a
> misunderstanding by the community, it's largely due to what the WMF really
> wants.
> The WMF, as the article puts it, doesn't [necessarily] want to work better
> with the existing community (-> colleagues) by providing what's felt useful
> /for them/ to get things done; instead, it largely assumes that what's
> disliked or even plainly harmful now is actually good, if it can attract a
> new demographic of users which will like it (-> new customers).
> And more: changing the demographic by ignoring the existing one is
> sometimes the very aim of changes; community is assumed broken (it scares
> people off), consensus even more so (we can't get anything decided, we need
> "leaders" – surely not pre-emptive consensus), nobody is indispensable (we
> have a big turnover, we only need to improve "_new_ editors retention").
> And yes, this sometimes borders social experiments (eugenetics? :-) ).
> I'm not going to prove all this*; it's nasty to "the community", but
> there's also a lot of truth in it and all in good faith.
>
> Nemo
>
> (*) I could quote individual WMF developers or officers but that would be
> tough and unnecessary: it's the official strategy, just seen from a
> different perspective (by stretching it a bit perhaps).
>
>
> ______________________________**_________________
> Wikitech-l mailing list
> Wikitech-l [at] lists
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/**mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l<https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-l>
>
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strainu10 at gmail

Aug 23, 2012, 4:27 AM

Post #21 of 45 (4672 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

2012/8/22 Sumana Harihareswara <sumanah [at] wikimedia>:
> On 08/21/2012 06:29 PM, Ryan Lane wrote:
>> When I'm doing an ops change that is user facing I write a blog post
>> and I post something to wikitech-l. I don't bother using village pump.
>> There's a reason for that. There's a *lot* of village pumps. Hundreds.
>> In different languages. I can't possibly handle that many different
>> conversations in that many languages. Even if I only post to 2-3 of
>> them, I still have to have the same conversation over and over again
>> with different sets of people.
>>
>> We need a global system for communication for things like this.
>> Everyone should be a part of a single communication thread about
>> changes. All posts in the thread should be able to be translated in a
>> crowd-sourced manner.
>
> Just a quick note that the wikitech-ambassadors list
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-ambassadors is
> helping with this, and is going to be helping more -- I'll wait for
> Guillaume to lead the conversation about this, hopefully in the next 2
> weeks.

You guys (and by that I mean "anybody who doesn't regularly edit a
text-producing project[1], but needs to make announcements from time
to time"; this includes most of the WMF employees) seem to have a
problem with village pumps and instead invent all kind of alternative
communication methods, like mailing lists, IRC meetings, Meta, WMF
wiki etc., with the sole excuse being "they're hundreds of them".

Well, let me tell you in plain English with no regard to political
correctness: your excuse sucks.

It sucks mainly because automation was invented half a century ago -
I've said this here before and I'm saying it again: it takes at the
very most 2 days to write and test a script that can post a message to
any number of pages. There could be thousands of projects, the effort
from the poster would be the same.

It also sucks because the vast majority of contributors don't
know/don't want to use IRC, mailing list or even other wikis [2].
Those who know and want to use those alternative methods are
discouraged by the scarce organization of the information.

Finally, it sucks because you basically expect people to look for your
announcements and extract the information, when the whole idea of an
announcement is to push the information from the originator to the
receiver.

Sumana, my understanding of the "ambassador" concept is someone that
takes the information from you and puts it on their home wiki(s).
That's great, except it's unlikely you will find users from all the
200+ languages and even if you do, people quit, go on vacations etc.,
leading to information loss. An automated English message on the pump,
translated on the spot would be much better.

Strainu

[1] text-producing projects are all language versions of Wikipedia,
Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikiversity
and Wikispecies
[2] The Romanian community recently decided to lock the
Romanian-language mailing list because of the many people that were
not aware what a ML is and were replying to every email asking not to
be contacted again.

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oscar.vives at gmail

Aug 23, 2012, 5:01 AM

Post #22 of 45 (4633 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

Well. duh.

A community will always give incremental features. This is the bazaar
thing, where you can find everything, and is not a bad thing if the
architecture support a bazaar (like a command line).
When you are actually building a cathedral, you need a central entity
that take all the input, and then proceed to do whatever he damn
please.

PR as a role here, as you can tell people "we are taking all the
input, studying it, and designing a system with the best ideas that
make the more sense", actually reserving to you the role to design,
not acting as a proxy for others.

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

Bazaar is not always the solution.

--
--
ℱin del ℳensaje.

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tbayer at wikimedia

Aug 23, 2012, 6:10 AM

Post #23 of 45 (4632 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 4:27 AM, Strainu <strainu10 [at] gmail> wrote:
> 2012/8/22 Sumana Harihareswara <sumanah [at] wikimedia>:
>> On 08/21/2012 06:29 PM, Ryan Lane wrote:
>>> When I'm doing an ops change that is user facing I write a blog post
>>> and I post something to wikitech-l. I don't bother using village pump.
>>> There's a reason for that. There's a *lot* of village pumps. Hundreds.
>>> In different languages. I can't possibly handle that many different
>>> conversations in that many languages. Even if I only post to 2-3 of
>>> them, I still have to have the same conversation over and over again
>>> with different sets of people.
>>>
>>> We need a global system for communication for things like this.
>>> Everyone should be a part of a single communication thread about
>>> changes. All posts in the thread should be able to be translated in a
>>> crowd-sourced manner.
>>
>> Just a quick note that the wikitech-ambassadors list
>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-ambassadors is
>> helping with this, and is going to be helping more -- I'll wait for
>> Guillaume to lead the conversation about this, hopefully in the next 2
>> weeks.
>
> You guys (and by that I mean "anybody who doesn't regularly edit a
> text-producing project[1], but needs to make announcements from time
> to time"; this includes most of the WMF employees) seem to have a
> problem with village pumps and instead invent all kind of alternative
> communication methods, like mailing lists, IRC meetings, Meta, WMF
> wiki etc., with the sole excuse being "they're hundreds of them".
>
> Well, let me tell you in plain English with no regard to political
> correctness: your excuse sucks.
>
> It sucks mainly because automation was invented half a century ago -
> I've said this here before and I'm saying it again: it takes at the
> very most 2 days to write and test a script that can post a message to
> any number of pages. There could be thousands of projects, the effort
> from the poster would be the same.
>
> It also sucks because the vast majority of contributors don't
> know/don't want to use IRC, mailing list or even other wikis [2].
Yes, that's true, it has been a major learning for WMF in recent years
that while all these (and also the Wikimedia blog) can be useful
channels, many Wikipedians don't leave their home wikis and expect
really important announcements to be delivered there in some form. In
our Wikimania talk, MZMcBride and I gave an overview of the mechanisms
that are currently available to do so.

> Those who know and want to use those alternative methods are
> discouraged by the scarce organization of the information.
>
> Finally, it sucks because you basically expect people to look for your
> announcements and extract the information, when the whole idea of an
> announcement is to push the information from the originator to the
> receiver.
>
> Sumana, my understanding of the "ambassador" concept is someone that
> takes the information from you and puts it on their home wiki(s).
> That's great, except it's unlikely you will find users from all the
> 200+ languages and even if you do, people quit, go on vacations etc.,
> leading to information loss. An automated English message on the pump,
> translated on the spot would be much better.
>
> Strainu
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Global_message_delivery (a bot
operated by MZMcBride) can do exactly that.

It was used by the WMF engineering department to inform all of the
projects about the IPv6 deployment in June (e.g.
https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Wikisource:Scriptorium/Juin_2012#Update_on_IPv6
), and all non-Wikipedia projects about changes they needed to make to
their main page in order for it being displayed properly on mobile
devices (e.g. https://nl.wiktionary.org/wiki/WikiWoordenboek:De_Kroeg/archief19#Mobile_view_as_default_view_coming_soon
)

This still relies on local Wikimedians translating that village pump
message into their language, many are doing so with those
announcements. And, as Ryan says, it is difficult to follow up on
discussions in all those (ca. 600) village pumps, so those messages
need to point back to a central venue for feedback.

And, this is obviously a channel which can only be used for
announcements of some degree of importance. One might be tempted to
create a separate "Wikitech ambassadors village pump" and have the bot
post there. But the new broadcasting functionality that is being
developed as part of the Echo and Flow projects will offer a much
better solution (basically, as user on a Wikimedia project you will be
able to subscribe to receive notifications from information channels
across projects, and I'm sure that one of these channels could offer
such tech updates).

--
Tilman Bayer
Senior Operations Analyst (Movement Communications)
Wikimedia Foundation
IRC (Freenode): HaeB

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strainu10 at gmail

Aug 23, 2012, 7:02 AM

Post #24 of 45 (4621 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

2012/8/23 Tilman Bayer <tbayer [at] wikimedia>:
> On Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 4:27 AM, Strainu <strainu10 [at] gmail> wrote:
>> 2012/8/22 Sumana Harihareswara <sumanah [at] wikimedia>:
>>> On 08/21/2012 06:29 PM, Ryan Lane wrote:
>>>> When I'm doing an ops change that is user facing I write a blog post
>>>> and I post something to wikitech-l. I don't bother using village pump.
>>>> There's a reason for that. There's a *lot* of village pumps. Hundreds.
>>>> In different languages. I can't possibly handle that many different
>>>> conversations in that many languages. Even if I only post to 2-3 of
>>>> them, I still have to have the same conversation over and over again
>>>> with different sets of people.
>>>>
>>>> We need a global system for communication for things like this.
>>>> Everyone should be a part of a single communication thread about
>>>> changes. All posts in the thread should be able to be translated in a
>>>> crowd-sourced manner.
>>>
>>> Just a quick note that the wikitech-ambassadors list
>>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikitech-ambassadors is
>>> helping with this, and is going to be helping more -- I'll wait for
>>> Guillaume to lead the conversation about this, hopefully in the next 2
>>> weeks.
>>
>> You guys (and by that I mean "anybody who doesn't regularly edit a
>> text-producing project[1], but needs to make announcements from time
>> to time"; this includes most of the WMF employees) seem to have a
>> problem with village pumps and instead invent all kind of alternative
>> communication methods, like mailing lists, IRC meetings, Meta, WMF
>> wiki etc., with the sole excuse being "they're hundreds of them".
>>
>> Well, let me tell you in plain English with no regard to political
>> correctness: your excuse sucks.
>>
>> It sucks mainly because automation was invented half a century ago -
>> I've said this here before and I'm saying it again: it takes at the
>> very most 2 days to write and test a script that can post a message to
>> any number of pages. There could be thousands of projects, the effort
>> from the poster would be the same.
>>
>> It also sucks because the vast majority of contributors don't
>> know/don't want to use IRC, mailing list or even other wikis [2].
> Yes, that's true, it has been a major learning for WMF in recent years
> that while all these (and also the Wikimedia blog) can be useful
> channels, many Wikipedians don't leave their home wikis and expect
> really important announcements to be delivered there in some form. In
> our Wikimania talk, MZMcBride and I gave an overview of the mechanisms
> that are currently available to do so.

Can you please point me to the location of the slides (if available)?

>
>> Those who know and want to use those alternative methods are
>> discouraged by the scarce organization of the information.
>>
>> Finally, it sucks because you basically expect people to look for your
>> announcements and extract the information, when the whole idea of an
>> announcement is to push the information from the originator to the
>> receiver.
>>
>> Sumana, my understanding of the "ambassador" concept is someone that
>> takes the information from you and puts it on their home wiki(s).
>> That's great, except it's unlikely you will find users from all the
>> 200+ languages and even if you do, people quit, go on vacations etc.,
>> leading to information loss. An automated English message on the pump,
>> translated on the spot would be much better.
>>
>> Strainu
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Global_message_delivery (a bot
> operated by MZMcBride) can do exactly that.

Great! What's the holdup to using it more?

>
> It was used by the WMF engineering department to inform all of the
> projects about the IPv6 deployment in June (e.g.
> https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Wikisource:Scriptorium/Juin_2012#Update_on_IPv6
> ), and all non-Wikipedia projects about changes they needed to make to
> their main page in order for it being displayed properly on mobile
> devices (e.g. https://nl.wiktionary.org/wiki/WikiWoordenboek:De_Kroeg/archief19#Mobile_view_as_default_view_coming_soon
> )

Hmmm, I remember the message, but I hadn't realized it was delivered
by a bot at the time.

>
> This still relies on local Wikimedians translating that village pump
> message into their language, many are doing so with those
> announcements. And, as Ryan says, it is difficult to follow up on
> discussions in all those (ca. 600) village pumps, so those messages
> need to point back to a central venue for feedback.

Agreed! Why not use a standard message for the feedback link, that
could be translated once and reused?

>
> And, this is obviously a channel which can only be used for
> announcements of some degree of importance. One might be tempted to
> create a separate "Wikitech ambassadors village pump" and have the bot
> post there.

I'm all in favor of "some importance" being less rather than more :) I
don't think 10 or 15 messages per month would be considered too much,
if the information is relevant to the project (i.e. don't send
Wikisource-specific updates to Wikipedias)

> But the new broadcasting functionality that is being
> developed as part of the Echo and Flow projects will offer a much
> better solution (basically, as user on a Wikimedia project you will be
> able to subscribe to receive notifications from information channels
> across projects, and I'm sure that one of these channels could offer
> such tech updates).

I don't know many details about those, but I do have 2 observations
here. First, the fact that sometime in the future there will be a
better solution should not stop us from implementing quicker fixes.
Second, if there isn't a history of those somewhere easily reachable,
people will quickly forget about notifications.

Strainu

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platonides at gmail

Aug 23, 2012, 7:29 AM

Post #25 of 45 (4625 views)
Permalink
Re: Wikimedians are rightfully wary [In reply to]

On 23/08/12 16:02, Strainu wrote:
> Second, if there isn't a history of those somewhere easily reachable,
> people will quickly forget about notifications.

Good point. If someone complains about an unknown new feature that
wasn't announced and is directed to that channel, it should be possible
to view previous announcements. Just like you can view old entries when
subscribing to a new rss feed.
(I don't know if that's already contemplated in the current plans)

Regards

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