Saturday, February 20, 2016

#Wikimedia - the #blame game

The Wikimedia Foundation is in an unfortunate position. The most depressing part of it is that we all suffer. We are at a stage where the problem seems like a tangled knot, and it may seem that the solution Alexander though of is the likely way forward.

There are many issues, many have been mentioned in places. The main thing however is that the Wikimedia Foundation is us. It is what we stand for. We own the problem and together we are to blame.

I sincerely believe that intentionally everyone wants what they think is good for us all. The problem is very much that we do not agree on what that is. What we have in front of us is the result of past decisions that turned out to have nasty side effects.

One particular decision that bites us is the chosen answer to "What kind of organisation must the Wikimedia Foundation be?". The choice was to be a technical organisation and many people have been hired with that in mind. It changed the culture and it clashed with much of what the WMF stands for. The unintended result is much heartache and a lot of dysfunction.

Another thing that hurts a lot is that people do not really consider what others say. The outward face of Wikipedia became a talking shop with vested interests. It may give us a direction but the unintended consequence is that people hardly listen particularly when other issues are raised. There are so many examples to give, it is painful to do so.

Truly disturbing is that members of the board acknowledge that they collectively are dysfunctional. As all their communication has to be considered for possible implications, the result is communication that is not timely and bland. This is just one consequence of talking heads that over-analyse what has been said and insist on an understanding that is not necessarily what is intended.

We are at a crossroads. A lot of damage has been inflicted, many people are outraged, distraught, depressed. The solution that we end up with will not be optimal. It is stupid to expect this, to demand this. It is stupid because we do not agree on what an optimal solution will be. What we need is a workable solution. The way we are involved, the ambitions we have will not be realized without cooperation with everyone involved.

It is time to put  many favourite hobby horses to pasture. It is time to listen and consider priorities. The most important priority is that we stop talking and start to have a conversation.

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