On 10 February 2012 14:43, MZMcBride <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > Philippe Beaudette wrote:
> > MZMcBride wrote:
> >> A political (lobbying?) arm of Wikimedia? And the Wikimedia community
> >> Board have said they're okay with this?
> > I'm not really sure where you get that, MZ. Politics and lobbying were
> > mentioned at all.
> > What was mentioned was advocacy... advocacy for the community, in varying
> > roles and flavors.
> > So to clear it up: this is not a lobbying or political wing. Or anything
> > that even resembles it. :)
> I think, even if Wikimedia staff strictly adheres to the terms "advocacy"
> and "community advocacy," this fails the duck test.
> If it's lobbying and political action that people (the Wikimedia community
> and the Wikimedia Board and other stakeholders) really want the Wikimedia
> Foundation engaged in, I can't do much to stop that (except leave). But I'm
> reasonably confident that most people in the Wikimedia community aren't in
> favor of Wikimedia being a political action committee.
> So I suppose I'll ask again: has the Wikimedia community or the Wikimedia
> Board expressed support of going forward with this?
>  https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/duck_test#Etymology
As a matter of general principle, I too would like to know whether the WMF
Board is consulted and/or informed and/or formally approved the creation of
new departments or general major organisation re-shuffling. I don't mind
who actually gets to make "the announcement" first, but I think things on
this scale (setting up a new division of the organisation) should be
dependent on board approval. Also, it would have been nice to see some
discussion and buildup to this (or any) new department or major project
rather than merely announcing it one day, "ta da!" style, and expecting
that the community wouldn't make assumptions about why it was kept secret
in the first place.
With the specifics of "is this a political lobbying wing of the WMF or
I think it is quite clear to everyone that Wikimedians have a hard time
agreeing about *anything* but that the two things we all agree on is "Free"
(in the technical sense) and that providing a neutral source of information
is itself an inherently non-neutral activity. We spent quite a lot of time
talking about the legislative environments where we live (and how
that interacts with USA laws), what rules govern freedom of panorama in xyz
country, who can request takedown of what content in what circumstances,
whether we can provide workaround methods for accessing the content in
censoring counties, etc. etc. So, in that light it makes perfect sense to
me that there should be a group of people at the WMF dedicated to
supporting individuals and Chapters to learn more about those kinds of
things and to advocate for a "free culture" position when appropriate.
It is in no way against the WMF's (or Chapter's) mission to "advocate" in
the way it has done in the past, to general community acclaim, with for
- Mike's brilliant response letter to the CIA takedown notice http://mashable.com/2010/08/03/wikipedia-fbi-seal/
- Geoff's filing of an amicus brief to the Goldman v. Holder case http://www.librarycopyrightalliance.org/submissions/domestic/amicus.shtml
- Submissions to government policy reviews such as that written by the
Research Committee http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Research:Committee/Areas_of_interest/Open-access_policy/EU_Consultation_on_scientific_information_in_the_digital_age
I imagine that it is this kind of thing that would be in the scope of the
"advocacy" aspect of this new department. Certainly, I too do not want to
see an overt political lobbying department created, but that is not what is
being created. For comparison, the formal job title of Mathias Schindler at
WM-DE, if I understand correctly, is "project manager - politics and
society" and it's his job to help write submissions to the German
parliament when applicable. He's been doing this task for years.
So... vigilance required to make sure we're not losing our way by focusing
too much on the politics, but we shouldn't be ignoring it or leaving it to
others to sort out either. From what that project page says it looks like
this strikes a good balance and we'll see how the department evolves over
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