Mailing List Archive

Questions about new Fellow
Hi.

As Daniel noted in his earlier e-mail to the list, Achal Prabhala is now a
Wikimedia Fellow.[1] I actually missed this announcement as it didn't hit
wikimediaannounce-l or this list (foundation-l), it apparently only got
posted to the blog, but that's not really here nor there.

There have been rumblings about some of the surrounding circumstances that I
think warrant consideration and discussion. Achal is a member of the
Advisory Board[2] but isn't very active in wikis/open source. A few
questions pop up in my head. Is there a concern about such an individual
being a Wikimedia Fellow? That is, someone who's not particularly attached
to wikis/open source? All of the other Wikimedia Fellows have fairly strong
editing backgrounds. The edits by Achal seem to be rather sparse:
http://toolserver.org/~vvv/sulutil.php?user=Aprabhala

More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member being
chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?

Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new operations
in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc. This is
more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow even
stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary. I think conversation
and engagement (on this list and elsewhere) would be very good in a number
of ways.

MZMcBride

[1] http://blog.wikimedia.org/?p=2748
[2] http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Advisory_Board



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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
I agree with what he said.

After looking him up, the only qualification I can find of this person is
that he's on the advisory board, No idea, how he got there and for how long
is his "term", makes me think that maybe there is a Cabal. Most places
mirror his description on the Advisory Board page. I am tired of seeing the
same names, doing the rounds over and over again, from groups to committees
to fellowships to whatever that comes next.

Will anyone else from the Advisory board or maybe even the board, past or
present members included, going to receive a "fellowship" now? Does it
matter that they are mostly unknown by the community, obviously not.


E. Forrester


On Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM, MZMcBride <z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:

> Hi.
>
> As Daniel noted in his earlier e-mail to the list, Achal Prabhala is now a
> Wikimedia Fellow.[1] I actually missed this announcement as it didn't hit
> wikimediaannounce-l or this list (foundation-l), it apparently only got
> posted to the blog, but that's not really here nor there.
>
> There have been rumblings about some of the surrounding circumstances that
> I
> think warrant consideration and discussion. Achal is a member of the
> Advisory Board[2] but isn't very active in wikis/open source. A few
> questions pop up in my head. Is there a concern about such an individual
> being a Wikimedia Fellow? That is, someone who's not particularly attached
> to wikis/open source? All of the other Wikimedia Fellows have fairly strong
> editing backgrounds. The edits by Achal seem to be rather sparse:
> http://toolserver.org/~vvv/sulutil.php?user=Aprabhala
>
> More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member being
> chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
> there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?
>
> Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new operations
> in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc. This
> is
> more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow even
> stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
> Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary. I think conversation
> and engagement (on this list and elsewhere) would be very good in a number
> of ways.
>
> MZMcBride
>
> [1] http://blog.wikimedia.org/?p=2748
> [2] http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Advisory_Board
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
Greetings,

I'm happy to tell you a little more about myself and the scope of this
short-term research project I'm undertaking, and I'm as happy to assume
that you fully intended for your messages to come across as decorous and
rational.

I've been on the Advisory Board of the Wikimedia Foundation for some
time now, and there have been large periods where I've done nothing, and
many periods when I've done a lot. This, I suspect, is the case for many
fellow Advisory Board members; overall, I can say for myself that it's
been a rewarding and interesting experience. I'm involved in various
aspects of the Wikimedia movement - from helping to organise communities
in India and South Africa to looking at broader, more global questions
around the work of the Chapters Committee and the possibility of other
kinds of affiliation that might usefully exist within our world. All of
this work, as it should be, is completely open and transparent, and is
in no way forced or mandated.

Funnily enough, I wasn't very involved with the strategic 5-year plan; I
started off trying to look at what community members from India might
want to do, but the exercise didn't get very far, and I sort of gave up
in between. I'm glad it went forward with the help of a whole lot of
others from India, and I'm glad it exists, but I haven't even read what
it says yet. So I'm forced to confess (like Shaw almost said) that
reports of my influence are greatly exaggerated. I am, however, involved
on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is related to the movement,
and I'm delighted to be of use to you.

As for me, I work on intellectual property rights as a researcher, and I
also write. I've worked in India, Guyana and South Africa, mostly as an
activist on access to medicines and access to knowledge; I am now
engaged in writing a larger piece of work that is unrelated to
intellectual property.

Now to the project. I see that neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts
on it, and I welcome your engagement. The problem with oral knowledge
vs. published knowledge is an old one, and there are many interesting
ways in which the sum of published material in the world reflects the
order of the world. For us, unfortunately, it also means that in some
cases, to make Wikipedias work in languages where scholarly publishing
is not that strong is a difficult task. This problem applies not just to
languages with a primarily oral tradition (such as many of those in
circulation in sub-Saharan Africa today) but also for those with a
non-Latin written tradition but with a lower output of published
material (like many South Asian languages today). What excites me about
this is that I am interested in the idea of 'legitimate' knowledge - and
the manner in which our ideas of authenticity, reliability and
certification can be shaped and changed in our own lifetimes. This
spirit of consistent reinvention, I think, is central to the idea of
Wikipedia and everything else that comes under the umbrella of our movement.

I have a fairly good understanding of the academic literature on this
subject; I've had excellent discussions with Wikipedians working in
languages across India and South Africa where this is a tangible
problem; and working together with them, I think we can make a useful
contribution to this topic, or at least mark a starting point from which
to make this movement truly inclusive, plural and global.

I'm looking forward to it very much. As I am certain you are too.

Fondest wishes, etc.
Achal




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------------------------------------------------------------------------

I agree with what he said.

After looking him up, the only qualification I can find of this person is
that he's on the advisory board, No idea, how he got there and for how long
is his "term", makes me think that maybe there is a Cabal. Most places
mirror his description on the Advisory Board page. I am tired of seeing the
same names, doing the rounds over and over again, from groups to committees
to fellowships to whatever that comes next.

Will anyone else from the Advisory board or maybe even the board, past or
present members included, going to receive a "fellowship" now? Does it
matter that they are mostly unknown by the community, obviously not.


E. Forrester


On Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM, MZMcBride<z at mzmcbride.com <https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l>> wrote:

>/ Hi.
/>/
/>/ As Daniel noted in his earlier e-mail to the list, Achal Prabhala is now a
/>/ Wikimedia Fellow.[1] I actually missed this announcement as it didn't hit
/>/ wikimediaannounce-l or this list (foundation-l), it apparently only got
/>/ posted to the blog, but that's not really here nor there.
/>/
/>/ There have been rumblings about some of the surrounding circumstances that
/>/ I
/>/ think warrant consideration and discussion. Achal is a member of the
/>/ Advisory Board[2] but isn't very active in wikis/open source. A few
/>/ questions pop up in my head. Is there a concern about such an individual
/>/ being a Wikimedia Fellow? That is, someone who's not particularly attached
/>/ to wikis/open source? All of the other Wikimedia Fellows have fairly strong
/>/ editing backgrounds. The edits by Achal seem to be rather sparse:
/>/ http://toolserver.org/~vvv/sulutil.php?user=Aprabhala <http://toolserver.org/%7Evvv/sulutil.php?user=Aprabhala>
/>/
/>/ More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member being
/>/ chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
/>/ there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?
/>/
/>/ Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new operations
/>/ in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc. This
/>/ is
/>/ more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow even
/>/ stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
/>/ Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary. I think conversation
/>/ and engagement (on this list and elsewhere) would be very good in a number
/>/ of ways.
/>/
/>/ MZMcBride
/>/
/>/ [1]http://blog.wikimedia.org/?p=2748
/>/ [2]http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Advisory_Board
/>/
/>/
/>/
/>/ _______________________________________________
/>/ foundation-l mailing list
/>/ foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org <https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l>
/>/ Unsubscribe:https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
/>/
/



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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
Thanks Achal :-)

In addition to what Achal said, it's important to note that this
fellowship was processed as a grant, and is transparently documented
at
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:WM_Fellowships/Oral_Citations
consistent with the principles of the grantmaking process. It's a
short-term engagement, and the total budget includes a strong focus on
documentation so that whatever lessons are learned can be easily
accessed by any member of the community. Money not spent will be
returned.

In the same way that the usability videos showing the experiences of
real users editing Wikipedia helped the community to have
conversations about the editing interface, we hope that the film
documentation that Achal will create will help the community have
conversations about citations and sources, and offer practical
approaches to deal with lack of published materials in many of the
languages in which Wikipedia is available. Given our desire to help
foster healthy Wikimedia projects e.g. in the languages spoken in
India, this isn't a theoretical but very practical issue. As always, a
public report will document the deliverables and results.

The fellowship program is intended to leverage great opportunities for
volunteers with a proven track record to help us accomplish
extraordinary things. Whether that volunteerism is in the form of
editing, engineering, event organizing, chapters development, cat
herding, evangelism, etc. shouldn't really matter. They can all be
things that greatly advance the movement's goals. Achal has put
countless hours into efforts to help get Wikimedia India and Wikimedia
South Africa off the ground, and his proven track record through this
and other volunteering was key to our decision to engage him.

With all that said, as we scale up the fellowship program, it would be
good to have more open conversations about the criteria and process
through which fellowships (but also Wikimedia Foundation grants) are
awarded. While WMF will always need to exercise judgment and
discretion when money changes hands, I do think it's important to give
the community more of a voice in both proposing and selecting
individuals and projects, perhaps through some form of review
committee which makes a preliminary recommendation, and which strongly
interfaces with WMF to align the program with our strategic
priorities.
--
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On 20 January 2011 11:00, Achal Prabhala <aprabhala@gmail.com> wrote:

> Now to the project. I see that neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts
> on it, and I welcome your engagement. The problem with oral knowledge
> vs. published knowledge is an old one, and there are many interesting
> ways in which the sum of published material in the world reflects the
> order of the world. For us, unfortunately, it also means that in some
> cases, to make Wikipedias work in languages where scholarly publishing
> is not that strong is a difficult task. This problem applies not just to
> languages with a primarily oral tradition (such as many of those in
> circulation in sub-Saharan Africa today) but also for those with a
> non-Latin written tradition but with a lower output of published
> material (like many South Asian languages today). What excites me about
> this is that I am interested in the idea of 'legitimate' knowledge - and
> the manner in which our ideas of authenticity, reliability and
> certification can be shaped and changed in our own lifetimes. This
> spirit of consistent reinvention, I think, is central to the idea of
> Wikipedia and everything else that comes under the umbrella of our movement.


This will be *fantastic*.

English Wikipedia's verifiability rules start from a simple good idea
but have accreted into a disastrous mess in many ways, even for things
that there are in fact documentation for. They're ideally suited to
history (mostly written), science (mostly written) or current affairs
(mostly written), but are disastrously awful even in the Western world
for the arts, for example. There's a lot of knowledge in fields which
everyone assumes, and which are transmitted academically, but not in a
format that teenage en:wp admins can grasp in five seconds.

It's exactly like having to compress the knowledge of ontologies and
weighing of evidence that people do four-year degrees to learn, into
three or four paragraphs.

Progress in the areas of how to write about oral knowledge will help
with the vast spectrum of knowledge between oral knowledge and
academic writing.


- d.

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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
In a message dated 1/20/2011 11:37:00 AM Pacific Standard Time,
dgerard@gmail.com writes:


> There's a lot of knowledge in fields which
> everyone assumes, and which are transmitted academically, but not in a
> format that teenage en:wp admins can grasp in five seconds.
>



Knowledge transmitted academically, but not actually ever published?
For example?
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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
Achal Prabhala wrote:
> Greetings,
>
> I'm happy to tell you a little more about myself and the scope of this
> short-term research project I'm undertaking, and I'm as happy to assume
> that you fully intended for your messages to come across as decorous and
> rational.

Hi. I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post. However, you seem
to have only replied, not responded.

> I am, however, involved on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is
> related to the movement, and I'm delighted to be of use to you.

What kind of daily involvement? Is this work in your capacity as a
volunteer, as a member of the Advisory Board, or as a Wikimedia Fellow?

> Now to the project. I see that neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts
> on it, and I welcome your engagement.

I'll admit that I don't particularly care what you're working on. That's
approximately my attitude toward what the other Wikimedia Fellows are
working on as well. I do care if you received the Fellowship for different
reasons than the other Fellows, though. I do care if there's the appearance
of impropriety or a conflict of interest (or worse, actual impropriety or
conflicts of interest).

I'll repeat the questions I feel you haven't answered. You're obviously free
to not answer them ever, but I do want to make sure that your reply to the
opening thread isn't viewed as a response to most of the questions asked
about/to you.

MZMcBride wrote:
> More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member being
> chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
> there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?
>
> Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new operations
> in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc. This is
> more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow even
> stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
> Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary.

If you could answer some of these questions, particularly about what your
specific role has been in hiring in India, I'd really appreciate it (as
would many members of this list, I imagine). In your reply, you say that
you're involved "on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is related to
the movement," but also "that reports of my influence are greatly
exaggerated" [in the context of the strategy report]. These statements don't
seem to reconcile with me currently. And I never meant to suggest that you
were deeply involved with the strategy _report_, but with the strategy
_implementation_. There's a world of difference.

If you've been involved with the hiring process in India, you should say so
outright as someone who's committed to openness and transparency. If you've
been involved with site selection in India or whatever else, you should say
so. These are the things I'm hearing, but I've no idea what level of truth
there is to them. That's why I started this thread and that's why I'm glad
you've replied (though I'd be more glad if you responded). As E. Forrester
noted, there is a wariness among some Wikimedia participants that an inner
circle exists, but I think you might be able dispel some of this notion with
more candid responses.

MZMcBride



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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
Knowledge in olden times of India are transferred orally from Gurus (
Teachers) to students/disciples . They are not necessarily recorded. We are
talking about the ages even before manuscripts & paper are invented.

Regards
Tinu Cherian

On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 2:53 AM, <WJhonson@aol.com> wrote:

> In a message dated 1/20/2011 11:37:00 AM Pacific Standard Time,
> dgerard@gmail.com writes:
>
>
> > There's a lot of knowledge in fields which
> > everyone assumes, and which are transmitted academically, but not in a
> > format that teenage en:wp admins can grasp in five seconds.
> >
>
>
>
> Knowledge transmitted academically, but not actually ever published?
> For example?
> _______________________________________________
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> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On Friday 21 January 2011 07:26 AM, MZMcBride wrote:
> Achal Prabhala wrote:
>> Greetings,
>>
>> I'm happy to tell you a little more about myself and the scope of this
>> short-term research project I'm undertaking, and I'm as happy to assume
>> that you fully intended for your messages to come across as decorous and
>> rational.
> Hi. I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post. However, you seem
> to have only replied, not responded.
>
>> I am, however, involved on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is
>> related to the movement, and I'm delighted to be of use to you.
> What kind of daily involvement? Is this work in your capacity as a
> volunteer, as a member of the Advisory Board, or as a Wikimedia Fellow?
>
In all these capacities and more.
>> Now to the project. I see that neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts
>> on it, and I welcome your engagement.
> I'll admit that I don't particularly care what you're working on. That's
> approximately my attitude toward what the other Wikimedia Fellows are
> working on as well.
That's the spirit. And I've always felt that a waste is a terrible thing
to mind.
> I do care if you received the Fellowship for different
> reasons than the other Fellows, though. I do care if there's the appearance
> of impropriety or a conflict of interest (or worse, actual impropriety or
> conflicts of interest).
>
> I'll repeat the questions I feel you haven't answered. You're obviously free
> to not answer them ever, but I do want to make sure that your reply to the
> opening thread isn't viewed as a response to most of the questions asked
> about/to you.
>
> MZMcBride wrote:
>> More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member being
>> chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
>> there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?
>>
>> Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new operations
>> in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc. This is
>> more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow even
>> stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
>> Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary.
> If you could answer some of these questions, particularly about what your
> specific role has been in hiring in India, I'd really appreciate it (as
> would many members of this list, I imagine). In your reply, you say that
> you're involved "on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is related to
> the movement," but also "that reports of my influence are greatly
> exaggerated" [in the context of the strategy report]. These statements don't
> seem to reconcile with me currently. And I never meant to suggest that you
> were deeply involved with the strategy _report_, but with the strategy
> _implementation_. There's a world of difference.
>
> If you've been involved with the hiring process in India, you should say so
> outright as someone who's committed to openness and transparency.
You're right. I should. But somehow, I assumed it was perfectly clear -
not to mention open and transparent - after this report
(http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Report,_November_2010#India_planning)
and this one
(http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Report,_December_2010#India_planning),
as well as countless other conversations that were had on the subject.
> If you've
> been involved with site selection in India or whatever else, you should say
> so. These are the things I'm hearing, but I've no idea what level of truth
> there is to them. That's why I started this thread and that's why I'm glad
> you've replied (though I'd be more glad if you responded). As E. Forrester
> noted, there is a wariness among some Wikimedia participants that an inner
> circle exists, but I think you might be able dispel some of this notion with
> more candid responses.
Settle down, my friend...going around in circles will make us all dizzy.
Personally, I recommend half an hour of Pranayama
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranayama) every morning: it makes one
feel calm and loving.
> MZMcBride
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
Thanks for introducing yourself Achal after so many years on the Advisory
Board. Dare I suggest, you add part of that introduction to your Advisory
Board page on one of the wikis. About the 5 year plan, dare I suggest you
get around to reading that one of these days, you're on the Advisory Board
after all.

Let me clarify something, the page thats being linked to by Erik Moeller is
a grant page, you are appointed as a fellow. I might be wrong on this but
none of the other fellows had to apply for grants or the majority of them
did not. Even the existence of such a process was unknown to most. The grant
in question, I have no issue with, you are more than welcome to pursue any
research you want, its your position as the fellow that I am concerned
about. You can't be on an advisory board and tell a non-profit organization
what to do as a pro-bono advisor to the board and then get paid by the said
foundation as a fellow a few years into your tenure, serving both positions
at the same time. This I believe, wreaks of impropriety, none of the other
Advisory Board members ever had or will have the same privilege I assume,
which is why I replied to this thread in the first place.

This is something that the Foundation should have checked and announced
before your appointment. In my opinion, you can have one or the other, you
can either be a paid staff member/researcher for as long as the foundation
employs you or you can be on the board as an advisor.

Also, from your and Erik's admission above, the scope of your involvement
seems to be far larger than I previously thought, encompassing the board,
chapters and "other kinds of affiliation that might usefully exist within
our world", this only heightens my concerns even more.

I hope others reading this realize the implication of your appointment. I
had no idea who you were before this, and still don't, its nothing personal
against you. Its the foundation I am bringing this up to, which I hope
realizes, is for their own benefit.


E. Forrester

On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM, Achal Prabhala <aprabhala@gmail.com>wrote:

>
>
> On Friday 21 January 2011 07:26 AM, MZMcBride wrote:
> > Achal Prabhala wrote:
> >> Greetings,
> >>
> >> I'm happy to tell you a little more about myself and the scope of this
> >> short-term research project I'm undertaking, and I'm as happy to assume
> >> that you fully intended for your messages to come across as decorous and
> >> rational.
> > Hi. I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post. However, you
> seem
> > to have only replied, not responded.
> >
> >> I am, however, involved on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is
> >> related to the movement, and I'm delighted to be of use to you.
> > What kind of daily involvement? Is this work in your capacity as a
> > volunteer, as a member of the Advisory Board, or as a Wikimedia Fellow?
> >
> In all these capacities and more.
> >> Now to the project. I see that neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts
> >> on it, and I welcome your engagement.
> > I'll admit that I don't particularly care what you're working on. That's
> > approximately my attitude toward what the other Wikimedia Fellows are
> > working on as well.
> That's the spirit. And I've always felt that a waste is a terrible thing
> to mind.
> > I do care if you received the Fellowship for different
> > reasons than the other Fellows, though. I do care if there's the
> appearance
> > of impropriety or a conflict of interest (or worse, actual impropriety or
> > conflicts of interest).
> >
> > I'll repeat the questions I feel you haven't answered. You're obviously
> free
> > to not answer them ever, but I do want to make sure that your reply to
> the
> > opening thread isn't viewed as a response to most of the questions asked
> > about/to you.
> >
> > MZMcBride wrote:
> >> More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member
> being
> >> chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
> >> there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?
> >>
> >> Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new
> operations
> >> in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc.
> This is
> >> more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow
> even
> >> stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
> >> Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary.
> > If you could answer some of these questions, particularly about what your
> > specific role has been in hiring in India, I'd really appreciate it (as
> > would many members of this list, I imagine). In your reply, you say that
> > you're involved "on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is related
> to
> > the movement," but also "that reports of my influence are greatly
> > exaggerated" [in the context of the strategy report]. These statements
> don't
> > seem to reconcile with me currently. And I never meant to suggest that
> you
> > were deeply involved with the strategy _report_, but with the strategy
> > _implementation_. There's a world of difference.
> >
> > If you've been involved with the hiring process in India, you should say
> so
> > outright as someone who's committed to openness and transparency.
> You're right. I should. But somehow, I assumed it was perfectly clear -
> not to mention open and transparent - after this report
> (
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Report,_November_2010#India_planning
> )
> and this one
> (
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Report,_December_2010#India_planning
> ),
> as well as countless other conversations that were had on the subject.
> > If you've
> > been involved with site selection in India or whatever else, you should
> say
> > so. These are the things I'm hearing, but I've no idea what level of
> truth
> > there is to them. That's why I started this thread and that's why I'm
> glad
> > you've replied (though I'd be more glad if you responded). As E.
> Forrester
> > noted, there is a wariness among some Wikimedia participants that an
> inner
> > circle exists, but I think you might be able dispel some of this notion
> with
> > more candid responses.
> Settle down, my friend...going around in circles will make us all dizzy.
> Personally, I recommend half an hour of Pranayama
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranayama) every morning: it makes one
> feel calm and loving.
> > MZMcBride
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > foundation-l mailing list
> > foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
> >
>
> _______________________________________________
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>
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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On 21/01/2011 03:36, whothis wrote:
> Thanks for introducing yourself Achal after so many years on the Advisory
> Board. Dare I suggest, you add part of that introduction to your Advisory
> Board page on one of the wikis. About the 5 year plan, dare I suggest you
> get around to reading that one of these days, you're on the Advisory Board
> after all.
>
> Let me clarify something, the page thats being linked to by Erik Moeller is
> a grant page, you are appointed as a fellow. I might be wrong on this but
> none of the other fellows had to apply for grants or the majority of them
> did not. Even the existence of such a process was unknown to most. The grant
> in question, I have no issue with, you are more than welcome to pursue any
> research you want, its your position as the fellow that I am concerned
> about. You can't be on an advisory board and tell a non-profit organization
> what to do as a pro-bono advisor to the board and then get paid by the said
> foundation as a fellow a few years into your tenure, serving both positions
> at the same time. This I believe, wreaks of impropriety, none of the other
> Advisory Board members ever had or will have the same privilege I assume,
> which is why I replied to this thread in the first place.
>
> This is something that the Foundation should have checked and announced
> before your appointment. In my opinion, you can have one or the other, you
> can either be a paid staff member/researcher for as long as the foundation
> employs you or you can be on the board as an advisor.
>
> Also, from your and Erik's admission above, the scope of your involvement
> seems to be far larger than I previously thought, encompassing the board,
> chapters and "other kinds of affiliation that might usefully exist within
> our world", this only heightens my concerns even more.
>
> I hope others reading this realize the implication of your appointment. I
> had no idea who you were before this, and still don't, its nothing personal
> against you. Its the foundation I am bringing this up to, which I hope
> realizes, is for their own benefit.
>
>
> E. Forrester

Welcome Achal!

Well, it seems you were already there for longer than I was, so
"welcome" feels strange to say. But anyway, it's good to have someone
important coming out of the shadow to receive a well deserved grant.
Speaking of which, I feel merrier when I know why I'm applauding, so
don't be modest and tell us in full detail about your merits!


To the people who are "wary": come on my friends, it's only power and
money. Assume good faith from the people who are handling it and go back
to a quiet mode as usual. Keep positive vibes like edits and donations
coming, though.

Achal even tossed a solution to your *emotional* problems: "half an hour
of Pranayama every morning: it makes one feel calm and loving." That was
very considered from his part, given how busy he is. You can also try
some pills.

Cheers.




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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On 21 January 2011 06:36, whothis <whothith@gmail.com> wrote:
>You can't be on an advisory board and tell a non-profit organization
> what to do as a pro-bono advisor to the board and then get paid by the said
> foundation as a fellow a few years into your tenure, serving both positions
> at the same time.

I think you are over-estimating the influence of the Advisory Board.
It's a loose collection of people that support the movement and have
useful experience that get asked occasional questions by the Board and
get invited to Wikimania every year. They don't have any power. I
don't see a conflict of interest here.

Achal could easily give up his position on the Advisory Board and it
wouldn't change anything - the board could still ask him questions if
they wanted to, he could still get a ticket to Wikimania through any
one of several routes (normal scholarship, foundation staff, guest of
the foundation, etc.). Being on the Advisory Board doesn't really mean
anything, it's just an honorarium given to people to thank them for
their advice and to make things more convenient administratively. I
don't see how an honorarium can give rise to a conflict of interest.

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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 4:24 AM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton@gmail.com>wrote:

> On 21 January 2011 06:36, whothis <whothith@gmail.com> wrote:
> >You can't be on an advisory board and tell a non-profit organization
> > what to do as a pro-bono advisor to the board and then get paid by the
> said
> > foundation as a fellow a few years into your tenure, serving both
> positions
> > at the same time.
>
> I think you are over-estimating the influence of the Advisory Board.
> It's a loose collection of people that support the movement and have
> useful experience that get asked occasional questions by the Board and
> get invited to Wikimania every year. They don't have any power. I
> don't see a conflict of interest here.
>

That's exactly right. An advisory board for most organizations is merely a
way to try to coax some labor out of valuable people with needed expertise
who are very busy with their own projects and careers. There is absolutely
no power held by the advisory board. Hence the "Advisory" label.

We're lucky when we can get members to find time to help us in significant
ways, and in this case even luckier that we have Achal working on an
intensive project for a time.
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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 1:26 AM, Achal Prabhala <aprabhala@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> On Friday 21 January 2011 07:26 AM, MZMcBride wrote:
>> Achal Prabhala wrote:
>>> Greetings,
>>>
>>> I'm happy to tell you a little more about myself and the scope of this
>>> short-term research project I'm undertaking, and I'm as happy to assume
>>> that you fully intended for your messages to come across as decorous and
>>> rational.
>> Hi. I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post. However, you seem
>> to have only replied, not responded.
>>
>>> I am, however, involved on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is
>>> related to the movement, and I'm delighted to be of use to you.
>> What kind of daily involvement? Is this work in your capacity as a
>> volunteer, as a member of the Advisory Board, or as a Wikimedia Fellow?
>>
> In all these capacities and more.
>>> Now to the project. I see that neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts
>>> on it, and I welcome your engagement.
>> I'll admit that I don't particularly care what you're working on. That's
>> approximately my attitude toward what the other Wikimedia Fellows are
>> working on as well.
> That's the spirit. And I've always felt that a waste is a terrible thing
> to mind.
>> I do care if you received the Fellowship for different
>> reasons than the other Fellows, though. I do care if there's the appearance
>> of impropriety or a conflict of interest (or worse, actual impropriety or
>> conflicts of interest).
>>
>> I'll repeat the questions I feel you haven't answered. You're obviously free
>> to not answer them ever, but I do want to make sure that your reply to the
>> opening thread isn't viewed as a response to most of the questions asked
>> about/to you.
>>
>> MZMcBride wrote:
>>> More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member being
>>> chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
>>> there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?
>>>
>>> Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new operations
>>> in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc. This is
>>> more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow even
>>> stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
>>> Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary.
>> If you could answer some of these questions, particularly about what your
>> specific role has been in hiring in India, I'd really appreciate it (as
>> would many members of this list, I imagine). In your reply, you say that
>> you're involved "on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is related to
>> the movement," but also "that reports of my influence are greatly
>> exaggerated" [in the context of the strategy report]. These statements don't
>> seem to reconcile with me currently. And I never meant to suggest that you
>> were deeply involved with the strategy _report_, but with the strategy
>> _implementation_. There's a world of difference.
>>
>> If you've been involved with the hiring process in India, you should say so
>> outright as someone who's committed to openness and transparency.
> You're right. I should. But somehow, I assumed it was perfectly clear -
> not to mention open and transparent - after this report
> (http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Report,_November_2010#India_planning)
> and this one
> (http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Report,_December_2010#India_planning),
> as well as countless other conversations that were had on the subject.
>>   If you've
>> been involved with site selection in India or whatever else, you should say
>> so. These are the things I'm hearing, but I've no idea what level of truth
>> there is to them. That's why I started this thread and that's why I'm glad
>> you've replied (though I'd be more glad if you responded). As E. Forrester
>> noted, there is a wariness among some Wikimedia participants that an inner
>> circle exists, but I think you might be able dispel some of this notion with
>> more candid responses.
> Settle down, my friend...going around in circles will make us all dizzy.
> Personally, I recommend half an hour of Pranayama
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranayama) every morning: it makes one
> feel calm and loving.
>> MZMcBride
>>
>>

Oh, I like it. Glad to see you're one of us, Achal ;-)

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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
Achal Prabhala wrote:
> In all these capacities and more.

33

> That's the spirit. And I've always felt that a waste is a terrible thing
> to mind.

81

[links shortened]
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=2284834#India_planning
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=2284834#India_planning

First link: 231
Second link: 285

> Settle down, my friend...going around in circles will make us all dizzy.

72

> Personally, I recommend half an hour of Pranayama
> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranayama) every morning: it makes one
> feel calm and loving.

140!

Your commitment to openness and transparency is ready to be transferred to a
Twitter account. You'll have to work with Erik to make all of his openness
and transparency fit. (In all seriousness, thank you, Erik, for the
reports.)

I don't know why anyone would be interested (in more than 500 characters)
about one of the biggest portions of Wikimedia's five-year plan (which you
didn't help write, I get it!). But your snide answers to legitimate
questions only serves to highlight the exact problems and concerns that most
people have been quietly observing in you. Good work.

MZMcBride



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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 12:36 PM, MZMcBride <z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
> Achal Prabhala wrote:
>> In all these capacities and more.
>
> 33
>
>> That's the spirit. And I've always felt that a waste is a terrible thing
>> to mind.
>
> 81
>
> [links shortened]
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=2284834#India_planning
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=2284834#India_planning
>
> First link: 231
> Second link: 285
>
>> Settle down, my friend...going around in circles will make us all dizzy.
>
> 72
>
>> Personally, I recommend half an hour of Pranayama
>> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranayama) every morning: it makes one
>> feel calm and loving.
>
> 140!
>
> Your commitment to openness and transparency is ready to be transferred to a
> Twitter account. You'll have to work with Erik to make all of his openness
> and transparency fit. (In all seriousness, thank you, Erik, for the
> reports.)
>
> I don't know why anyone would be interested (in more than 500 characters)
> about one of the biggest portions of Wikimedia's five-year plan (which you
> didn't help write, I get it!). But your snide answers to legitimate
> questions only serves to highlight the exact problems and concerns that most
> people have been quietly observing in you. Good work.
>
> MZMcBride
>
>


Honestly, I don't see how you could expect a better set of answers
given your approach. You're not a prosecutor, and you have no right to
interrogate him about whatever "improprieties" you and your supposedly
like-minded (but anonymous and uncounted) associates perceive. You're
also not a shareholder, an auditor, or in any other fashion entitled
to receive polite replies to snide implications of corruption.

Nathan

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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On 21 January 2011 17:36, MZMcBride <z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:

> Your commitment to openness and transparency is ready to be transferred to a
> Twitter account. You'll have to work with Erik to make all of his openness
> and transparency fit. (In all seriousness, thank you, Erik, for the
> reports.)


You started in attack mode and continued in attack mode. This is not a
good way to get anyone to bother talking to you.

No-one is in fact obliged to respond to you on foundation-l, indeed
many WMF employees and WMF and chapter volunteers don't read it,
referring instead to it as troll-l. It would be nice if this weren't
the case.

Approaches such as yours, which merely makes you look like you're out
for a fight, are why. Please reconsider.


- d.

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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
I was going to drop this and fade away until your patronizing comments.
First, I am not a gentleman, I would be a lady, according to the
pseudo-chivalrous, patronizing tone you used in your last response.

/>/That's the spirit. And I've always felt that a waste is a terrible thing to
mind.

/>/Settle down, my friend...going around in circles will make us all dizzy.
/>/Personally, I recommend half an hour of Pranayama
/>/(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranayama) every morning: it makes one
/>/feel calm and loving.

Now, I took offense to this, Antagonizing the only two people who asked a
direct and straightforward question about your position and conflicting
interests while the rest of the list remains quiet. We are taught to assume
good faith, thats one of the founding principles of the organization that
you supposedly lead. Now, if I were to make an ad hominem attack in response
along those lines, I might say something like, you have an atrocious command
of the English Language, you know (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language). Invoking Shaw, and
mis-attributing a quote implies nothing about your literary prowess, just
the lack of it.

/>/In all these capacities and more.

On to the point, You are very actively involved in the hiring process from
the last two reports that you linked to, you have been interviewing the
potential hires. Perhaps you're the only member on the Advisory Board who
has ever been this involved in the hiring decisions. I assume you probably
had some say in selecting the current Board Member from India since you
announced his appointment, you helped form the Indian chapter
and started with the south African one by your own admission. Now, for
someone who knows so little about the 5 year plan, our ethos and the
community you are none the less leading, thats an awful lot of control to
exert. Incidentally, the two areas that you are representing are also the
focus according to the 5 year plan, which you were allegedly not actively
involved in formulating. All of this could be looked at as payoff or reward
from the outside, with opportunities for more down the road, but that would
be assuming Bad faith, and we certainly don't do that.

I fear that I have gone too far, Maybe its time for someone from the cabal
to place me on moderation. More comments below for your entertainment:

On Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 4:30 PM, Achal Prabhala <aprabhala@gmail.com> wrote:

> Greetings,
>
> I'm happy to tell you a little more about myself and the scope of this
> short-term research project I'm undertaking, and I'm as happy to assume
> that you fully intended for your messages to come across as decorous and
> rational.
>

Believe me if my intention was to be anything less that decorous or
rational, you wouldn't have had to assume anything.

>
> I've been on the Advisory Board of the Wikimedia Foundation for some
> time now, and there have been large periods where I've done nothing, and
> many periods when I've done a lot. This, I suspect, is the case for many
> fellow Advisory Board members; overall, I can say for myself that it's
> been a rewarding and interesting experience. I'm involved in various
> aspects of the Wikimedia movement - from helping to organise communities
> in India and South Africa to looking at broader, more global questions
> around the work of the Chapters Committee and the possibility of other
> kinds of affiliation that might usefully exist within our world. All of
> this work, as it should be, is completely open and transparent, and is
> in no way forced or mandated.
>

So it was a ceremonial position as we thought and you have gotten more
involved of recent. The scope however of your involvement seems to be ever
expanding- India and Africa, the chapters and possibly "other kinds of
affiliation that might usefully exist within our world." Yes, your work has
been open and transparent, like how and when you were appointed, what
exactly you do and when does your supposed term end, if ever. I think this
thread has more information about you than any profile I have read so far.

>
> Funnily enough, I wasn't very involved with the strategic 5-year plan; I
> started off trying to look at what community members from India might
> want to do, but the exercise didn't get very far, and I sort of gave up
> in between. I'm glad it went forward with the help of a whole lot of
> others from India, and I'm glad it exists, but I haven't even read what
> it says yet. So I'm forced to confess (like Shaw almost said) that
> reports of my influence are greatly exaggerated. I am, however, involved
> on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is related to the movement,
> and I'm delighted to be of use to you.
>

Exactly as we thought, you haven't been involved with Wikimedia policy work.
The claims above are in direct conflict with the statements earlier, either
"reports of my influence are greatly exaggerated" or "you're involved on a
daily basis with all kinds of work that is related to the movement." Second,
I don't think Shaw ever said that, you're either confusing a Quote by Mark
Twain or referring to someone we don't know about, we have a project called
Wikiquote.com you might want to check out one of these days before quoting
someone.


> As for me, I work on intellectual property rights as a researcher, and I
> also write. I've worked in India, Guyana and South Africa, mostly as an
> activist on access to medicines and access to knowledge; I am now
> engaged in writing a larger piece of work that is unrelated to
> intellectual property.
>

Again, this introduction should have came before any of this. It should have
been on the advisory board page.


> Now to the project. I see that neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts
> on it, and I welcome your engagement. The problem with oral knowledge
> vs. published knowledge is an old one, and there are many interesting
> ways in which the sum of published material in the world reflects the
> order of the world. For us, unfortunately, it also means that in some
> cases, to make Wikipedias work in languages where scholarly publishing
> is not that strong is a difficult task. This problem applies not just to
> languages with a primarily oral tradition (such as many of those in
> circulation in sub-Saharan Africa today) but also for those with a
> non-Latin written tradition but with a lower output of published
> material (like many South Asian languages today). What excites me about
> this is that I am interested in the idea of 'legitimate' knowledge - and
> the manner in which our ideas of authenticity, reliability and
> certification can be shaped and changed in our own lifetimes. This
> spirit of consistent reinvention, I think, is central to the idea of
> Wikipedia and everything else that comes under the umbrella of our
> movement.
>

A rather verbose way of saying, you wanna research "Oral knowledge" for
Wikipedia. As for "neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts on it" I do, in
fact. What you're talking about is, I believe called Oral Traditions, the
same ones that became the basis for the Talmud and the Gospel. There is
already a large body of work available in that very discipline, to
some extent I agree that your research might be interesting given its target
demographic and language. Would you consider yourself a unitarian or an
analyst in your field.

>
> I have a fairly good understanding of the academic literature on this
> subject; I've had excellent discussions with Wikipedians working in
> languages across India and South Africa where this is a tangible
> problem; and working together with them, I think we can make a useful
> contribution to this topic, or at least mark a starting point from which
> to make this movement truly inclusive, plural and global.
>

Again, you might not be aware of this, but the majority of people on this
list are Academicians and Scholars but above all Wikipedians.

>
> I'm looking forward to it very much. As I am certain you are too.
>

Certainly, the entire community awaits your research.

>
> Fondest wishes, etc.
> Achal
>
> Same
E. Forrester
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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
>
>
> On Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM, MZMcBride<z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
>
>> Hi.
>>
>> As Daniel noted in his earlier e-mail to the list, Achal Prabhala is now a
>> Wikimedia Fellow.[1] I actually missed this announcement as it didn't hit
>> wikimediaannounce-l or this list (foundation-l), it apparently only got
>> posted to the blog, but that's not really here nor there.
>>
>> There have been rumblings about some of the surrounding circumstances that
>> I
>> think warrant consideration and discussion. Achal is a member of the
>> Advisory Board[2] but isn't very active in wikis/open source. A few
>> questions pop up in my head. Is there a concern about such an individual
>> being a Wikimedia Fellow? That is, someone who's not particularly attached
>> to wikis/open source? All of the other Wikimedia Fellows have fairly strong
>> editing backgrounds. The edits by Achal seem to be rather sparse:
>> http://toolserver.org/~vvv/sulutil.php?user=Aprabhala
>>
>> More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member being
>> chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
>> there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?


Hello

I really fail to see how being an advisory board member could in any
sense create a conflict of interest. As the term very well describes it,
advisory board members are merely advisors.... not decision makers.
Just as *any* community member is also an advisor to the Wikimedia
Foundation staff.

Incidently, the advisory board has been originally created so that we
could create links with people who were NOT editors, but had things we
(the board at that time) thought they could share with us, and help us
on the difficult path of bringing the Foundation to a professional,
efficient, helpful model. It is a side effect that now past board
members who happened to be involved in the community are also part of
the advisory board. Originally, none of the members were community members.
We (and "we" actually included the community; the community was involved
in building the advisory board, on this very list, on meta and through a
special committee) looked together for people with various expertise
BEYOND our own wiki world. People with expertise in legal issues,
financial issues, business, education, politics and so on. That was
*exactly* the goal of this advisory board. Making sure that we would not
be merely relying on our own community, but would actually learn from
others and welcome comments, suggestions, help. Look beyond our own wiki
world. Expand !

Within the original advisory board, Achal has probably been the most
active in the past years. He definitly joined the conversation. I find
it really odd to read now that being on the advisory board might
actually be a disadvantage and that "being a community member" would be
considered more important than being bright, involved, funny, good
looking (yeahhhh), entrepreneur and so on.



>> Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new operations
>> in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc. This
>> is
>> more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow even
>> stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
>> Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary. I think conversation
>> and engagement (on this list and elsewhere) would be very good in a number
>> of ways.
>>
>> MZMcBride
>>
>> [1] http://blog.wikimedia.org/?p=2748
>> [2] http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Advisory_Board


On 1/20/11 9:46 AM, whothis wrote:
> I agree with what he said.
>
> After looking him up, the only qualification I can find of this person is
> that he's on the advisory board, No idea, how he got there and for
how long
> is his "term", makes me think that maybe there is a Cabal. Most places
> mirror his description on the Advisory Board page. I am tired of
seeing the
> same names, doing the rounds over and over again, from groups to
committees
> to fellowships to whatever that comes next.
>
> Will anyone else from the Advisory board or maybe even the board, past or
> present members included, going to receive a "fellowship" now?


LOL
Long time since I saw such a perfect example of fallacious argument.
Thank you for the laugh :)


Anthere



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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
Nathan, I understand you don't know me, but can''t you see he is exactly the
same as me, an anonymous and uncounted associate, who is as much a
shareholder, auditor as I am. The only difference is I don't lead the
Movement, I supposedly am lead by anonymous unknowns like him.

E.

On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 11:12 PM, Nathan <nawrich@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 12:36 PM, MZMcBride <z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
> > Achal Prabhala wrote:
> >> In all these capacities and more.
> >
> > 33
> >
> >> That's the spirit. And I've always felt that a waste is a terrible thing
> >> to mind.
> >
> > 81
> >
> > [links shortened]
> >> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=2284834#India_planning
> >> http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=2284834#India_planning
> >
> > First link: 231
> > Second link: 285
> >
> >> Settle down, my friend...going around in circles will make us all dizzy.
> >
> > 72
> >
> >> Personally, I recommend half an hour of Pranayama
> >> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranayama) every morning: it makes one
> >> feel calm and loving.
> >
> > 140!
> >
> > Your commitment to openness and transparency is ready to be transferred
> to a
> > Twitter account. You'll have to work with Erik to make all of his
> openness
> > and transparency fit. (In all seriousness, thank you, Erik, for the
> > reports.)
> >
> > I don't know why anyone would be interested (in more than 500 characters)
> > about one of the biggest portions of Wikimedia's five-year plan (which
> you
> > didn't help write, I get it!). But your snide answers to legitimate
> > questions only serves to highlight the exact problems and concerns that
> most
> > people have been quietly observing in you. Good work.
> >
> > MZMcBride
> >
> >
>
>
> Honestly, I don't see how you could expect a better set of answers
> given your approach. You're not a prosecutor, and you have no right to
> interrogate him about whatever "improprieties" you and your supposedly
> like-minded (but anonymous and uncounted) associates perceive. You're
> also not a shareholder, an auditor, or in any other fashion entitled
> to receive polite replies to snide implications of corruption.
>
> Nathan
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
David Gerard wrote:
> You started in attack mode and continued in attack mode. This is not a
> good way to get anyone to bother talking to you.

I made an effort to not start in attack mode, as it were. I asked questions
and hoped that out of all the noise that would come in the replies, there
might be a few responses. And there have been one or two responses, but the
major questions remain unanswered.

> No-one is in fact obliged to respond to you on foundation-l, indeed
> many WMF employees and WMF and chapter volunteers don't read it,
> referring instead to it as troll-l. It would be nice if this weren't
> the case.

Completely agreed. Does that mean that nobody should use foundation-l as a
venue to ask Wikimedia Foundation-related questions? Do you have an
alternate venue that would be better? If people working for Wikimedia don't
read this list, it's to their detriment, in my opinion. But it's not as
though it's ever going to be mandatory reading.

> Approaches such as yours, which merely makes you look like you're out
> for a fight, are why. Please reconsider.

I'm really not out for a fight, not being a person looking for a job at
Wikimedia in India. I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I do try my
best to express the concerns of others and myself, particularly when others
feel that they do have something to lose by interjecting themselves.

You (David) seem to biting around the edges here, but looking past the
nobility of Achal's research project or my tone, there might be more serious
issues to address and examine here.

MZMcBride



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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
On Fri, Jan 21, 2011 at 11:32 PM, Florence Devouard <Anthere9@yahoo.com>wrote:

>
> >
> >
> > On Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM, MZMcBride<z@mzmcbride.com> wrote:
> >
> >> Hi.
> >>
> >> As Daniel noted in his earlier e-mail to the list, Achal Prabhala is now
> a
> >> Wikimedia Fellow.[1] I actually missed this announcement as it didn't
> hit
> >> wikimediaannounce-l or this list (foundation-l), it apparently only got
> >> posted to the blog, but that's not really here nor there.
> >>
> >> There have been rumblings about some of the surrounding circumstances
> that
> >> I
> >> think warrant consideration and discussion. Achal is a member of the
> >> Advisory Board[2] but isn't very active in wikis/open source. A few
> >> questions pop up in my head. Is there a concern about such an individual
> >> being a Wikimedia Fellow? That is, someone who's not particularly
> attached
> >> to wikis/open source? All of the other Wikimedia Fellows have fairly
> strong
> >> editing backgrounds. The edits by Achal seem to be rather sparse:
> >> http://toolserver.org/~vvv/sulutil.php?user=Aprabhala
> >>
> >> More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member
> being
> >> chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
> >> there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?
>
>
> Hello
>
> I really fail to see how being an advisory board member could in any
> sense create a conflict of interest. As the term very well describes it,
> advisory board members are merely advisors.... not decision makers.
> Just as *any* community member is also an advisor to the Wikimedia
> Foundation staff.
>

Let me explain, I'll start by a lifetime appointment, then pick or help pick
board members and then start interviewing who you want to hire, then decide
what other affiliations we need and no one will hold me accountable. Then I
might just go in for a fellowship to one of the focus areas I might or might
not have helped pick, for a while.

>
> Incidently, the advisory board has been originally created so that we
> could create links with people who were NOT editors, but had things we
> (the board at that time) thought they could share with us, and help us
> on the difficult path of bringing the Foundation to a professional,
> efficient, helpful model. It is a side effect that now past board
> members who happened to be involved in the community are also part of
> the advisory board. Originally, none of the members were community members.
> We (and "we" actually included the community; the community was involved
> in building the advisory board, on this very list, on meta and through a
> special committee) looked together for people with various expertise
> BEYOND our own wiki world. People with expertise in legal issues,
> financial issues, business, education, politics and so on. That was
> *exactly* the goal of this advisory board. Making sure that we would not
> be merely relying on our own community, but would actually learn from
> others and welcome comments, suggestions, help. Look beyond our own wiki
> world. Expand !
>

Again, Board members are accountable. They have a set term and structure,
but apparently no one knows how the Advisory board works, and appointments
are for life. Most of the other people on the Advisory Board are
accomplished in their field, how are they picked ?

>
> Within the original advisory board, Achal has probably been the most
> active in the past years. He definitly joined the conversation. I find
> it really odd to read now that being on the advisory board might
> actually be a disadvantage and that "being a community member" would be
> considered more important than being bright, involved, funny, good
> looking (yeahhhh), entrepreneur and so on.
>

I think you made my point, it doesn't matter if you know how Wikipedia
works, what open-source is, or if you can even open a computer, you can
still lead it if you are "funny, good looking and entrepreneur and so on."
It shouldn't matter if you know what movement you are leading, what open
source culture is like, you just have to be good looking enough to impress
others. Perhaps his bio on the Advisory Board page should say the exact same
thing.


>
>
> >> Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new
> operations
> >> in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc.
> This
> >> is
> >> more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow
> even
> >> stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
> >> Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary. I think
> conversation
> >> and engagement (on this list and elsewhere) would be very good in a
> number
> >> of ways.
> >>
> >> MZMcBride
> >>
> >> [1] http://blog.wikimedia.org/?p=2748
> >> [2] http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Advisory_Board
>
>
> On 1/20/11 9:46 AM, whothis wrote:
> > I agree with what he said.
> >
> > After looking him up, the only qualification I can find of this person
> is
> > that he's on the advisory board, No idea, how he got there and for
> how long
> > is his "term", makes me think that maybe there is a Cabal. Most places
> > mirror his description on the Advisory Board page. I am tired of
> seeing the
> > same names, doing the rounds over and over again, from groups to
> committees
> > to fellowships to whatever that comes next.
> >
> > Will anyone else from the Advisory board or maybe even the board, past
> or
> > present members included, going to receive a "fellowship" now?
>
>
> LOL
> Long time since I saw such a perfect example of fallacious argument.
> Thank you for the laugh :)
>

Clearly, I am laughing too.

>
>
> Anthere
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
Nathan wrote:
> Honestly, I don't see how you could expect a better set of answers
> given your approach. You're not a prosecutor, and you have no right to
> interrogate him about whatever "improprieties" you and your supposedly
> like-minded (but anonymous and uncounted) associates perceive. You're
> also not a shareholder, an auditor, or in any other fashion entitled
> to receive polite replies to snide implications of corruption.

You're perfectly correct. Or at least what you write sounds good. I can only
ask questions and hope that they get answered (I said this in some reply of
mine). If they're not answered, oh well. At least the questions are out
there. In this case, Achal's responses seem to have highlighted some of the
concerns that people are having (I also said this in some reply of mine).

You, like David, seem to be focusing more on my tone (or perceived tone)
than the underlying questions being asked, but perhaps that's a predictable
(albeit unfortunate) response.

MZMcBride



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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
2011/1/20 whothis <whothith@gmail.com>:
> I hope others reading this realize the implication of your appointment. I
> had no idea who you were before this, and still don't

I had no idea who you were before this. Then I checked my mail
archives and saw that the only other thread you've been engaged in was
a different set of accusations about the existence of a cabal and the
impropriety thereof.

This is not a constructive conversation, because it confuses and
conflates a bunch of very complex issues (questions of NPO governance
and ethics, which you clearly have a very limited understanding of,
vs. questions of effective and transparent operations, vs. community
participation, etc.), and has from the beginning taken the tone of
prosecutorial questioning. If you're interested in having a
constructive conversation e.g. about the grants process and the
fellowships program without attacking individuals, I'll be happy to
join it, here or on Meta.
--
Erik Möller
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation

Support Free Knowledge: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate

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Re: Questions about new Fellow [ In reply to ]
----- Original Message ----
> From: MZMcBride <z@mzmcbride.com>
> To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org>
> Sent: Fri, January 21, 2011 12:15:43 PM
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Questions about new Fellow
>
> Nathan wrote:
> > Honestly, I don't see how you could expect a better set of answers
> > given your approach. You're not a prosecutor, and you have no right to
> > interrogate him about whatever "improprieties" you and your supposedly
> > like-minded (but anonymous and uncounted) associates perceive. You're
> > also not a shareholder, an auditor, or in any other fashion entitled
> > to receive polite replies to snide implications of corruption.
>
> You're perfectly correct. Or at least what you write sounds good. I can only
> ask questions and hope that they get answered (I said this in some reply of
> mine). If they're not answered, oh well. At least the questions are out
> there. In this case, Achal's responses seem to have highlighted some of the
> concerns that people are having (I also said this in some reply of mine).
>
> You, like David, seem to be focusing more on my tone (or perceived tone)
> than the underlying questions being asked, but perhaps that's a predictable
> (albeit unfortunate) response.

This isn't the first time someone who perceived your tone negatively has written
about it seeking a remedy. Perhaps the fault is not with David's nor Nathan's
perception skills.

Perhaps you might find more success if you change your approach in the following
ways.

1) Don't ask questions you already know the answer to. It seems as if you
expect people to lie and is perceived as both insulting and insincere.

2) Do state what your concerns are point-blank. Are you concerned WMF
fellowships are too numerous or too generous? Are you concerned that Foo who is
better qualified was not given the fellowship instead? Do you have a grievance
with this particular fellow or some work he has done in the past? Are you
concerned that the work being done as part of the fellowship is not useful? Or
do do you think the fellowship itself turned out decently, but are concerned
that your input was not solicited when it was in the proposal stage? After
reading all your questions which seem to assume some general knowledge that I
don't have (i.e. what "people" have been saying), I haven't a clue what your
concern actually is.

Birgitte SB




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