We need new Angelas, Antheres and Andres

•May 13, 2011 • Comments Off on We need new Angelas, Antheres and Andres

I am in Berlin on Hackathon 2011 and up to ten minutes ago I was talking with Gerard Meijssen about many things. The last part of our conversation was about his platform for Board elections.

His position is that we should put emphasis much more on how things are getting done than on what has been done. Because that’s why we are Wikimedians. I agree with him. And it is not just a philosophical position, it is empirically proved: primates are getting their endorphin not when reward comes, but during the process of work.

Then I started to talk about things which matters and which we’ve forgot because being more and more bureaucratic. And he told to me that he wants my blog post about that. So, here it is.

I remember well how important was to me to get help during the first months of building the community around Serbian Wikipedia in 2004. From that time I remember well Angela, Anthere and Andre Engels. It was so good to see some friendly nicks on project, which are asking do we need some help, which are informing us about important issues inside of the rest of community, which are helping us technically.

Last months I’ve been thinking a lot about what should we do to constantly let know that we care about small communities. To ask them do they need something; is there something which bothers them; how can we help?

Angela, Anthere and Andre are still Wikimedians. However, their lives have been moved from the point when they were helping to small communities half of decade ago. So, we need new persons who would go around Wikimedia projects and do the job which they were doing.

As far as I know, there is one similar example. People from the projects in languages with relatively small population from former Soviet Union have a kind of networked community. More experienced editors from Russian Wikipedia are helping them.

But, I want such thing to be global!

So, be bold: go around and ask small projects editors do they need help, what bothers them… If you don’t know the answer, ask more experienced Wikimedians and transfer it to the particular community. If you don’t have permissions and you need them, you will get them for sure.

Dealing with vandalism is important, but that’s just the top of the iceberg. We are humans, we want to know that we have friends, we want to have them when we need them; we want to love and to be loved. That’s the most important part of our nature and edits, words, articles mean nothing without it.

On my motivation, WMF and brutal reality

•May 5, 2011 • Comments Off on On my motivation, WMF and brutal reality

I am a candidate for Wikimedia Foundation Board. Inside of this and a couple of next posts, I’ll describe my reasons for becoming a candidate, as well as points about what would I do if elected.

To be clear, I want to be a Board member just if Wikimedians express the same wish on elections. From one point of view, it sounds tautologically: How can I become a Board member if I wouldn’t pass elections? But, that quasi-tautology is deeply connected to my motivation.

Being a Wikimedia Board member is not as hard as being a miner, let’s say. Obviously, I wouldn’t stand for elections to become a miner. However, there is a set of disadvantages which makes me personally ambivalent toward taking that position.

Most notably, it is about one new big responsibility on my neck. I don’t like to make decisions for others or in the name of others. I don’t like to find myself in the middle of confronting interests, even one of the sides is my own.

But, my own life choices often lead me to such situations. That’s one of my important disagreements with the world around me. If I want to do something, I have to do that. If I want to do something with others, I have to do that with them! Otherwise, it won’t work. It would be so good to see things done when I want them to be done; or, if I am so crazy to really want to do something and it is by accident something which I have to do with others, to be able to do that alone. But reality is so brutal…

Because of that, I’ve learned to ask myself a couple of questions whenever I am close to one of such situations: May I expect to make significant contribution or I have nothing important to add there? Is there someone else who would be able to do that instead of me? How bad it would affect much more pleasant parts of my life, like spending time with people who I care about?

A few years ago I thought that there is limited number of my ideas for improvement Wikimedia and that the end of my significant input is near. I still think that there is limited number of my ideas. My brain has limits. (Yes, it has, don’t ask me why! I was so upset when I realized that even LDAP documentation and Latin texts from 16th century are beyond my awareness capacity!) But, I’ve learned that the end of my significant input is not so near. So, yes, I think that I may expect to make significant contribution to Wikimedia as a Board member.

When I take a look into, let’s say, 2005, I can say that Wikimedia movement has made great advance. The most responsible persons for that are in the present and past Boards, as well as in the present and past WMF staff. Yes, inputs of others — chapters, volunteers — are very significant. Yes, WMF could do better. But comparing a bunch of good will without sensible organization with more mature community and, obviously, an organization which pretends to be a global one, leaves me an impression that WMF has done a good job. Take a look into other organizations and movements from our milieu. Nothing comparable to Wikimedia movement. Why? Obviously, because no central organization has made what WMF has.

But, there is always more. There are things which haven’t been done. Maybe because I wasn’t so patient to explain them properly, as it was not my responsibility. Maybe because I simply have to do that because no other won’t. So, I don’t have definite answer on the question is there someone else who would do some things for Wikimedia movement instead of me.

Finally, there is the most important question for me personally: How bad it would affect much more pleasant parts of my life, like spending time with people who I care about? — I don’t have a lot of tolerance in relation to that issue.

During the past couple of years I’ve realized something which is both sad and delighted. I’ve realized that I have friends around me, in Belgrade, but that I don’t have my own community. My friends have their own communities, I passed a number of communities, but I don’t feel any of them as my own.

My community is somewhere else. It is nowhere and everywhere. A lot of people who I care about, maybe thousands of them, are all over the world. I am Wikimedian.

Steward elections and candidates overview

•January 30, 2010 • 3 Comments

Candidate submissions for 2010 steward elections are closed now and it is possible now to talk about candidates.

Unlike elections for the Board, elections for stewards are not exclusive. It is possible that all candidates pass and become stewards, theoretically. If we are looking from the bright side, it is good, as we are able to get more stewards. But, if we are looking from the dark side, it is possible that we won’t get any new steward.

Steward elections are becoming expression of popular will, instead of expression of reasoning who could become a good administrator of [all] Wikimedia projects. I don’t like it, but it is our reality and I am choosing to act according to it.

We badly need more stewards. This year we approached steward elections with less stewards than we had last year before the elections. Number of very active stewards is lowering for more than one year.

Normal processes assume that some of the stewards will become tired of their stewardship and involvement in Wikimedia, while some other will increase their activity in other Wikimedian fields and thus become less active as stewards.

However, we have a problem. While Wikimedian community is maturing, while steward tasks are becoming more and more complex, we are in the “steward recession”.

Here is the timeline of stewards number:

  • 2004/04: first 8 stewards were elected.
  • 2005/05:
    • 1 stewards less before the next elections
    • 7 stewards immediately before elections
    • 9 stewards elected
    • 16 stewards after elections
  • 2006/01
    • 3 steward less before the next elections
    • 13 stewards immediately before elections
    • 9 stewards elected
    • 22 stewards after elections (plus Jimmy who was appointed)
  • 2006/12
    • 4 stewards less before the next elections
    • 18 stewards immediately before elections
    • 12 stewards elected
    • 30 stewards after elections
  • 2007/12
    • 1 steward less before the next elections
    • 29 stewards immediately before elections
    • 12 stewards elected
    • 41 stewards after elections
  • 2009/02
    • 7 stewards less before the next elections
    • 34 steward immediately before elections
    • 9 stewards elected
    • 43 stewards after elections
  • 2010/01
    • 12 stewards less before the next elections
    • 31 steward immediately before elections
    • 12 elected stewards needed to avoid lower number of stewards after elections

Period from the beginning of 2006 up to the end of 2007 — almost two full years — was the culmination of raising stewards number. 2008 and 2009 were especially hard years. We lost 19 stewards (9 stewards had been lost for four previous years).

Unlike the most of non-stewards are thinking, steward’s tasks are not much more complex than, let’s say, tasks of local checkuser, bureaucrat and administrator combined. And there are a lot of Wikimedians with such experience; as well as checkuser and specific steward tasks can be easily learned.

So, we don’t need a perfect person for this position. We need a Wikimedian which would fulfill the next minimums:

  • Candidate has to be reliable. And this requirement shouldn’t be read strictly: Was that person making troubles to the community? Was that person lying? If not, it is reasonable to suppose that candidate is reliable. If yes, did she or he change her or his behavior long time ago and proved herself or himself at some other position inside of the community? If yes, again, it is reasonable to suppose that candidate is reliable.
  • Candidate should have experience in administrating Wikimedia projects. Being an admin on some Wikimedia project is good enough recommendation.
  • Speaking more than one language is a very needed quality. However, stewards are usually doing tasks which don’t require knowledge of many languages. Technical knowledge, general Internet knowledge and basic intelligence are much more important than knowing many languages.

According to those principles, here is the list of candidates which I will support:

  1. Avraham: Highly involved English Wikipedian.
  2. Annabel: Highly involved Dutch Wikimedian.
  3. Billinghurst: Highly involved Wikimedian.
  4. Bletilla: Sysop on Japanese Wikipedia and we don’t have any Japanese steward, although Japanese Wikipedia is the second most visited Wikimedia project.
  5. Carkuni: Highly involved Japanese Wikimedian.
  6. Dferg: Highly involved Wikimedian.
  7. Jamesofur: Highly involved Wikimedian.
  8. J.delanoy: Highly involved Wikimedian.
  9. Jyothis: Active Wikimedian with knowledge of a needed language. (Malayalam language has more than 30 millions of speakers.)
  10. Melos: Highly involved Wikimedian.
  11. Mentifisto: Highly involved Wikimedian. Interesting language skills.
  12. Mercy: Highly involved Wikimedian.
  13. Razorflame: Highly involved English Wikipedian and Wikimedian.
  14. Sir Lestaty de Lioncourt: Highly involved Portuguese Wikimedian.
  15. Wutsje: Highly involved Wikimedian.
  16. سمرقندی: Highly involved Urdu Wikimedian, even the statement is not brilliant (he explained what had he thought at the Questions page). I would give him a chance.

I hope that all of those candidates will pass, as well as I hope that at least some of the rest of candidates would explain their involvement in Wikimedia projects better.

Distributed backup of Wikimedia content

•August 1, 2009 • Comments Off on Distributed backup of Wikimedia content

Your comments are welcome — Distributed backup of Wikimedia content: http://ping.fm/pUsWx.

Also, feel free to correct my English 🙂

Redefining position toward Domas

•July 30, 2009 • 2 Comments

As Domas made clear what did he think with his position toward explicit sexual content, I am glad to redefine my position toward his candidature. Here is the overview of his and my positions and our communication:

Domas’ answer to the question:

Though better media tagging in general could allow better content repositories in multiple senses, we should discourage shocking juxtapositions, and always try to place information where appropriate. Though inclusion of various content is usually subject to community guidelines, it would be community action to use any implemented tagging or filtering measures.Wikipedia and other projects by itself are not that shocking, and one has to research and dig to get into problematic material – so this may seem bigger issue only after considerable time investment into it.

On the other hand, I believe that in lots of adult topics, Wikipedia can be way milder and neutral, than most of other internet media around. There’re always at least 5 entries of adult topics in our top-100 most visited articles, and we rank highest on search engines for lots of adult keywords. Once we look at that context, information we carry is needed, educational and way better than the surrounding environment. Being compendiums of knowledge, our projects do great job, and instead of running away from the audience interest, we should just always try to do better job on how we structure our information or media.

Something what can be shocking juxtaposition in one case, can be something needed and useful in another – and balancing at that is one of many issues we have to solve.

My position toward Domas and according to this answer was:

The next candidate about whom I was thinking is Domas. I would give to him 2 because he is a MediaWiki contributor for a long time. … Domas and Beauford Anton Stenberg want to have balanced censorship. So, they’ve got balanced 50.

Domas stated that I misunderstood him:

milosh, it was interesting to see my position on “having information shown where appropriate” as censorship. the current problem is that content gets tagged in interesting ways, including fetish or exhibitionist images in generic categories.

it isn’t censorship, it is question of classification – and I already said, it is better us carrying that information, than others, for people who search for it.

is that censorship?

After which I asked him to define more precisely his position:

The problem with “the rest of you” (except four candidates which I mentioned) is that I don’t know a lot about your positions and that I am reading what did you write there (as well as a lot of voters are doing that).

I’ve read your answer again.

* The context of the question is very clear: One person who tried a couple of times to *censor* Wikipedia asked the question and you are aware of that.
* You haven’t stated anything in relation to censorship.
* You didn’t define what “shocking pictures” are for you.
* So, when you are talking about them in this context, I am reading that “shocking pictures” for you are photos which present anal sex in the article about anal sex. And if it is so, it is a censorship.

If it is not your position, you should explain your position better (in your answer). There are enough of time for other voters. Also, I’ll write another blog post about your position (and correct this one).

And, he made it 😛

well, my position actually enforces having ‘anal sex’ images in ‘anal sex’ articles. what I suggest, is that the community should always take best effort to avoid shocking juxta-positions (e.g. consider gray areas in should anal sex image be in sex article? and obvious ones – leather fetishists shouldn’t be in “leather” article :-)

As he made it and I am happy with that, I am defaulting back to supporting him as the best option after my favorite candidates. His position is similar to the position of Adam Koenigsberg, but Domas did a lot in the development of MediaWiki. As Ting stated, it is important to have one MediaWiki developer at the Board. At the other side, I am not as satisfied with his previous involvement at the Board as I am satisfied with Ting’s and Kate’s. That means that I wouldn’t be perfectly happy with him at the Board instead of my preferred candidates, but, also, I wouldn’t be unhappy, too.

My vote can’t be changed (or I think so; I should check it with folk from Electoral committee), but I think that you should consider him as a serious candidate, too.

My votes

•July 28, 2009 • 13 Comments

I support public voting. Because of that, I’ll say how and why did I vote.

To be honest, my first four votes were already known. There are four candidates which I am supporting because I am convinced, according to their previous work, that they will be good Board members: Gerard Meijssen, Kat Walsh, Samuel Klein and Ting Chen. So, all of them got 1 from me. I would be perfectly happy if I would see any of three of them at the Board.

The next candidate about whom I was thinking is Domas. I would give to him 2 because he is a MediaWiki contributor for a long time.

Then, I went to check candidates’ answers to questions so I would be able to rank others. Thanks to Privatemusings for asking the question about the explicit sexual content.

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen will be at the sixth place and Jose Gustavo Gonora at the seventh (see below for the fifth one). The first one said nicely worded “fuck off” (which I really prefer as the answer to such question), the second one raised that not only explicit sexual content is a censorship-related problem. Yes, Muhammad cartoons are the same type of problem. Just persons who are totally unaware about multiculturality may say that explicit sexual content is not acceptible, while pictures of Muhammad are.

Because of the answer on the same question Gregory Kohs got 99 (just because I am not sure would 100 work; it is the bottom). I was thinking to give 99 to Kevin Riley O’Keeffe, but he got 98. I have some sympathies to genuine right-wingers. They are honest.

Because of the answer on the same question Adam Koenigsberg got 4, which means that he is at the eight place. He said that he is against any kind of censorship, but that it should be decided by community. Nice position, however, too polite answer. Maybe others would appreciate such answer more.

Domas and Beauford Anton Stenberg want to have balanced censorship. So, they’ve got balanced 50.

Because the rest of the candidates didn’t give answers to this question, I had to find another way for making decisions about them: Dan Rosenthal, Steve Smith, Relly Komaruzaman, Brady Brim-DeForest, Ralph Potdevin, Lourie Pieterse, Thomas Braun.

Dan was a candidate last year, so I tried to find a similar question from the previous elections, and, of course, I’ve found it. Dan gave last year the answer which I would give: “fuck off”+”try to understand that there are other cultures, too”. So, he is at the fifth place with score 2.

Steve Smith. He was the candidate last year, too. Nicely worded “fuck off”, so he will be together with Jussi-Ville at the sixth place with 3 points.

Relly Komaruzaman. This is the candidate who didn’t know what to state. 40 for participating in the race 🙂

Brady Brim-DeForest. Interesting and strong candidate. Unfortunatelly, I know approximately nothing about his involvement in Wikimedia projects. 10 points.

Ralph Potdevin. Weak statement, without any answer. 90. (I suppose that he would be better than Gregory and Kevin. It is really hard not to be.)

Lourie Pieterse. I know many 18 years old who would make much better statement than Lourie. Board elections are not about his dreams, but about our dreams. 95. Weak is better than dangerous.

Thomas Braun. Interesting. As with Brady, unfortunately, I know approximately nothing about his involvement in Wikimedia projects. 10 points.

Withdrawal of candidacy

•July 21, 2009 • 2 Comments

I was a candidate for the WMF Board for two days. So, it seems that I need to explain why did I withdraw my candidacy…

Actually, the most important question is why did I candidate myself. I couldn’t say that while I was in the race because I would sound too arrogant. Now, I can.

At the time of my candidacy, Ting was a candidate and I knew that Sj will be, too. Two of them were the only preferable candidates for me and there are three seats. OK, there were two more candidates who would be acceptable for me: Ad and Domas. But, I think that acceptable candidates are good as possible solutions, not as preferred ones.

There is one more important thing: I really don’t want to be a Board member 🙂 I have to have a strong motivation to accept that duty.

Being a board member means that you have to be a politician. I don’t want to be a politician. It means that you need to travel. I don’t like to travel. It consumes a lot of time. I would have to find that time. Besides that, I like committee work a lot more than public work.

Today I’ve seen that Kat is in the race, which raises a number of preferable candidates to three. Ad withdrew his candidacy, which means that, in my opinion, there are three candidates that I would like to see in Board and one backup candidate 😉 For me, this is good enough.