Katherine Maher wrote:
> Valerie and her team drafted
> an ambitious new vision for the work of Community Engagement focused on
> decentralization of power and resources, safe and welcoming spaces,
> equitable collaboration, increased language and cultural fluency, dedicated
> programs for groups such as women and young people, and expansive
> partnerships in service of free knowledge. > > With this vision in hand, Val and I both see this as the right juncture for > her to move on to her next professional challenge.
I’m sorry to hear the news of her leaving. I wish her good fortune in her next endeavour and I wish success for the WMF in implementing the vision of her team.
Katherine Maher wrote:
> We will not be starting a search for a new Chief of Community Engagement.
> Instead, over the course of the next few weeks, the seven teams currently
> within the Community Engagement (CE) department will be integrated into the
> Foundation’s other departments.
I believe this change might give a new chance to improve community engagement with the WMF teams.
The Movement Strategy community conversations and the office actions consultation was a step in the good direction, but the community is looking for a more engaged, real-time, person-to-person discussion with team members, besides the unidirectional flow of these plans. As Valerie’s ted talk states: “Think Circles, Not Pyramids”. We very much appreciate the contributions of the few working group members, who joined the discussions, but hoped at least one member of all working groups would join.
I hope as a result of this restructuring all teams and members will take part to some extent in “community engagement”. Direct communication is the most effective way to achieve community goals. With the strong divide between the WMF and the communities, I see direct communication as the only way to bridge those gaps and create healthy cooperation between the communities and the WMF.
I believe if engagement with the communities increases, the communities will be more trusting and helpful to the teams, thereby paving the road to success for the Movement’s goals.
Katherine Maher wrote: > For example, if you need something from Trust & Safety or Community Resources, > they’ll continue to be here to work with you.
As the community health research projects revealed in previous years, editors are occasionally bullied, harassed; often this is done to influence decisions and silence different POVs. Established editors are part of a social network of fellow editors, who can protect them from harm, but new and casual editors don’t enjoy such safety. As an example: the first response I’ve received from the OTRS, when I asked how to handle an issue of preferential treatment, that I often see new users are a victim of: “Report them to ANI and hope you’re not hit in the face with a boomerang.” This is the safety new users can expect currently. Needless to say, such response in a professional support team would be unacceptable.
My questions are: Where should new and casual editors seek help in the new team structure if the communities ignore their problem? What team and individuals will work to improve community health?
Paul J. Weiss wrote:
> I definitely do not want Trust & Safety to narrow its focus to ensuring
> enforcement & reducing liability. As you know, legal but negative behavior
> is a significant threat to the future of Wikipedia and sister projects. The
> team needs to be organizationally placed to maximize, not minimize, its
> access to resources, the community, and other staff as well as its impact.
> Placing it in Legal could, for example, decrease significantly contact and
> trust from our community members whose experience with laws is that they
> are used as weapons and tools to oppress rather than engendering fairness
> and cooperation.
I wholly agree with your concern, my first thought too. However, my experience (as detailed above) and observation is that T&S already only gets involved with legal matters, therefore placing it under the Legal department won’t change anything in the regard. That’s why I have no concerns about that move.
Katherine Maher wrote:
> The planned restructure and expansion of Community Engagement was intended to help us support
> the community in achieving these goals [of the Medium Term Plan]. This includes the MTP’s focus on
> building a thriving movement, increasing community health and diversity,
> and growing among new languages, regions, and audiences. We set these goals
> as part of our interpretation of the Movement Strategy, and they will
> remain our focus for the medium term.
> I still believe we need to make many of these changes, as well as be
> prepared for further changes that may arise from the recommendations of the
> Movement Strategy Working Groups.
This year many long-running community and governance issues surfaced: the mass-desysop proposals of Azerbaijani and Croatian Wikipedias, admin civility issues on English Wikipedia and a few long-term, valued editors being sanctioned. These were present for many years and these are just the public issues known to me.
I believe in the Movement’s targets of diverse, inclusive communities and I recognize that we are very far from it. I believe the WMF has the resources to increase community health and diversity, if that target is pursued consistently. Change is not an easy task however and cannot be done without close cooperation with the communities. The key to community acceptance is transparency, communication, and practical solutions; enforcing rules and unilateral decisions would only result in resistance. I hope there will be specific roles in the new structure to engage with the community on a daily basis to resolve community issues and establish healthy practices. I’ve suggested in the partial bans consultation, that the WMF hire professional arbitrators/mediators to tackle the hardest cases in cooperation with community-elected arbitrators. Professionals would bring a new set of more nuanced tools to the table to resolve issues with minimal sanctions and without punishments.
The WMF is facing a huge challenge. I wish the best luck and good faith from the community to achieve the Movement’s targets.
Sincerely, Aron Manning