WMF closed

It was just a matter of time.  With SXSW now closed, along with Mecca, Iran’s prisons, and Google, could the Wikimedia Foundation be far behind?

Katherine tweeted it on a Friday night, the typical time for killing a story — or rather, slightly after midnight Saturday — and I didn’t see it until this morning.

The mailing list?  Crickets. https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2020-March/thread.html The WMF blog has a longer statement.

Katherine’s statement on Twitter:

So, we officially went fully to a work from home protocol today. We have cancelled all non-essential travel. Our first and primary focus is the safety of our communities – our volunteers, our staff, our families, those in which we live.

Replying to @krmaher
Also. No one should experience final hardship as the result of a public health crisis. We are continuing to honor commitments with our colleagues holding part-time and contract arrangements, including service staff. We will do so as long as necessary.
Replying to @krmaher
How do you define “essential” travel? (Serious question.)

Katherine Maher@krmaher · 

Something with an urgent and specific deliverable essential to organizational functioning.
Katherine Maher@krmaher
Replying to@krmaher and @randomsubu
But even then, we would not approve a critical meeting in Rome or Wuhan, for example. It has to still meet a set of tests for risk.

 

So if you are a remote contractor, or don’t have any work to do, you don’t have to come in, but they will try to pay your salary for as long as “necessary”.

In other words, start looking for a new job now. But the economy is in for a nosedive, so good luck with that.

One could hope for one result of this is some of the deadwood being culled from the ranks, and I’m sure everyone has their favorite list of staffers they believe to be non-essential in the extreme. But too often in these situations, it is the valuable employees who are most able to find work elsewhere. So it is more to be hoped that those people close to the heart of the movement are brought into the loop and cherished as soon as possible. We all have our lists of those employees too.

This is why it matters (okay it’s the Daily Mail, but it’s a nifty chart).

The AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) held their conference in Washington DC earlier this week in spite of fears about the rapid spread of the virus.

Two New Yorkers who attended the conference have now tested test positive for coronavirus.

The AIPAC attendees are among the 44 who have tested positive for coronavirus in New York state.

This afternoon, Governer Andrew Cuomo said that ‘most’ of the cases are linked to a Manhattan lawyer who tested positive earlier in the week.

Also a particular synagogue, now closed, with the rabbi and his family among the afflicted. The university of the rabbi’s son is also closed.

This one Manhattan lawyer dude appears to be the Typhoid Mary of the New York coronavirus.

Is Katherine destroying the planet with plane travel?

Somewhere I read that it was Kumioko who first raised this issue, but as intrepid leader and CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, it has now become fashionable to ask about Katherine Maher’s carbon footprint. In fact, at this very moment Fae is proposing to add carbon offsetting to the expenses of his LGBT conference in Europe and make a big donation to some corporate carbon offsetting entity on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation and all the gay peoples of the world.

So we asked our statistics department at Genderdesk to come up with some numbers.

First, how much gas does a plane burn?

According to this, and it is translated into European for our metric friends,

a  Boeing 747 uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel (about 4 liters) every second. Over the course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons (150,000 liters).

This sounds like a lot at first, but a 747 can carry 568 people So, if on a given flight, there are 500 people on board, it will burn 0.01 gallons per person per mile. This works out to 100 mpg per person.  (This is 2.35 liters per 100 km.)  If you use 25 mpg (9.41 liters per 100 km) as the number for one car, this starts to look more favorable.

But this is for a whole plane load of people.   How much of this is just for Katherine?

Surely the airlines are not going to stop scheduling flights just because the WMF stops buying plane tickets.  And surely a plane is going to take off whether Katherine is on it or not.

This time we turn to Quora for a crowd-sourced answer.  Here we learn that a plane can burn one ton of fuel, just taxiing to the runway.  We also find out that the old FAA weight standard was an average of 180 lbs for men and 165 lbs. for women. I think that’s a little high for Katherine, she works out and is in good shape, especially considering her age, she is in phenomenally good shape. But it’s a good enough ballpark number to work with.

We also find a calculation there for how much extra fuel a fat person takes up on a plane. This is the answer given by an aviator with experience on DC-8s and B-707s

The technical answer is yes, the more weight each passenger weighs, the more fuel will be burned. How much fuel per person, exceeds the national weight average as described above?

If memory serves based on specs of current wide body twin engine aircraft (B-777–300er or A350-XWB) flying 7,000 kilometers across the Pacific or Atlantic from somewhere in North America in a fully loaded (368 passengers, full cargo hold, Maximum fuel load, supplies, etc.) aircraft, excluding all airport runway taxing, take off and landing (which follow specific power settings) and the passenger was 50 lbs above average, that person’s portion of extra fuel burn is probably around 2 gallons of fuel, +/- 0.5 gallons or about $8.00 USD of Jet A.

So there it is: 7,000 km (4349.598 miles), 50 lbs, and 2 gallons of fuel.  So if Katherine weighs 165 lbs, sending Katherine to Wikimania in Stockholm took 6.6 extra gallons of fuel.  At $2.50/gal, (since we haven’t seen gas above $4 since the Bush White House), this is $16.50. Personally I would rather see this money go to an animal shelter than some corporate tax shelter set up by rich lawyers who know how use guilt and political pressure to shake down contributions from non-profits.

So let’s take this to the next level and consider her carbon footprint when she is NOT traveling.  We know when she is in San Francisco, she has a pied-à-terre within sight of Sutro Tower.  The distance between the antenna tower and One Montgomery Tower in the financial district, where the Wikimedia Foundation is located, is 5.2 miles.  At 25 miles to the gallon, she can make about 5 car trips (4.8) on one gallon.  With 6.6 gallons in her tank, she can make 32 one-way trips, or 16 round trips. Probably less than that, if you count parking and stopping off for milk on the way home, but these are ballpark figures.  So if she is out of the office for 16 days, this is is the equivalent carbon footprint of a flight to Europe or Asia. And if you count Wikimania as one week, the net carbon footprint is more like 4 gallons of gas, or $10.

That’s a lot of puppy chow to some homeless animal.  But $10 is probably a drop in the bucket to the CEO and officers of some carbon offsetting outfit.

But that’s not gonna stop the usual suspects from whining on the mailing list.

The wikiPedia foundation?

Ah, branding…

According to this on the mailing list, there is now an actual Director of Branding.

I’m genuinely curious what you think a “Director of Brand” does. Other than leading a rebranding effort, what does that role entail?

We’re talking about the same organization that hired search engine optimization consultants. For Wikipedia, a site with notoriously incredible search engine results page placement. And even among the sleazy underbelly of search engine optimization consultants, Wikimedia Foundation Inc. partnered with a particularly bad group.

We’re also talking about the same organization that unilaterally changed its logo in a dramatic “fade to black”.

Operating in good faith only works bidirectionally. When people are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and making bad decisions without community consultation, much less community endorsement, it becomes clear that at least one party is no longer acting in good faith.

So, no, I don’t think everyone is working toward the same goals here. Should we have a conversation about the neglected sister projects? Absolutely. This isn’t it.

MZMcBride

What is going on here?  What was the “fade to black” thing?

As far as I can tell, the fade to black reference must be to the 2016 effort that went through the WMF stationary and business card stuff and regularized it.

In particular, a standardized alternative to the colored logo was presented, so the thing could be used on name tags and stuff where there wasn’t a color printer. This seems reasonable enough.

wmf logo white background 1 stationary

The work was done by Mule Design.

Ruh, roh.

Teh google tells us Mule Design is led by someone named Mike Monteiro (although his “co-founder” is listed as the nearly invisible Erika Hall).  I actually followed the guy on Twitter for a while, until I saw him drop some c-bombs in one of his conference presentations and then complain there weren’t enough women attending his talks.  By all means, it’s time for the WMF (WPF?) to ditch this guy.

But who have they got now? And what is new thing about?

The answer seems to be in this WMF blog post: Leading with Wikipedia: A brand proposal for 2030, By

The proposed system change suggests elevating Wikipedia into a high-visibility entry point that can be used to better introduce the world to our range of projects and their shared mission.

Is Wikipedia not already in a “high visibility entry point”, whatever that is?  And there are now “products”?

The company is “Wolff Olins, a London-based brand consultancy” although they have offices in NYC and San Francisco.  Oh looky they even have a Wikipedia article. The current CEO is Sairah Ashman (red link), who does not.

Sairah Ashman: this is what a CEO looks like

Sairah Ashman:

Ashman with client panel – no sausagefest here

She is an alumna of Harvard Business School and Goldsmiths University of London, an active supporter of The House of St Barnabas (working to break the cycle of homelessness) and a regular TEDx host and speaker.

I’m kinda liking this company, and in spite of the shenangans on the mailing list, starting to think it might be worthwhile to listen.

So what is this consultation?  Lots of glossy stuff to look at on the Strategy Session. Vague stuff, with circles and arrows.

Huh?

Apparently it means putting the word “wiki” in front of everything. Commons will now become “shortened” to Wiki Commons.

Will Meta be shortened to wiki meta?

They are proposing to change all the domain names?

This is getting worse and worse, not counting the obvious fiddling with the numbers. Do they think no one is going to check the math?  Talk page here.

This is User:ZMcCune (WMF), Zachary McCune, Global Brand Manager, Wikimedia Foundation, on board since 2015.  Zachary hates the hashtag #basic to the point where he had a sign on his office created to have a lego woman appear every time someone tweeted the hashtag. “It’s like a cuckoo clock. For people talking about leggings.

basic hashtag sign basic hashtag sign with lego woman

So if you didn’t know before what a director of branding is like, now you know.

Right now, the machine lives at my office where it is annoying the hell out of the office dog.

Because someone is tweeting about #basic every 1.5 minutes and that sets our animated machine into motion.

Poor, poor Baxter the dachshund.

 

 

Does Wikipedia eat its own babies?

Every hero becomes a bore at last. -Emerson

Two aphorisms.  Here is the first piece, from Twitter:

Don’t grieve because reality isn’t what you thought it was. Don’t cry because your heroes were hollow and complicit. Be grateful the truth is out. Now you have choices.

When the pain of things staying the same is greater than the fear of change, things change. It is up to you and me to make change happen.

This tweet, picked out of Katherine’s Twitter feed, is about the MIT/Joi Ito/Jeffrey Epstein scandal, as well as Lawrence Lessig’s inexcusable defense of Ito (but not the underage girls who were sex-trafficked) (Lessig’s eccentric campaign for president was endorsed by Jimmy Wales), but it strikes a chord, about leaders, about choosing allies, about Framgate of course, and ultimately about trust, misplaced or otherwise.

pandora - Linsey Messecar
Linsey Messecar: Pandora

How do you stop harassment without re-victimizing the harassed?  Some things can only take place in private. So how are those decisions made, and who decides?  Ultimately, without safeguards and review processes, it all boils down to trust.  We are asked to trust decision-making that takes place in the dark, but who can you trust?

Arbcom?  Trust & Safety? Or is it too early to place hope in the Strategy process, which represents a much broader swath of The Community than the band of brigands that has taken over Wikipedia’s inner city, and turned it into a rock-throwing slum.

The second piece, from Sucks:

So Fram is the kind of person, who attacks new products in their infancy, instead of helping out? The kind of person, who demotivates good-willing, hard-working contributors by criticizing the early issues, that are part of any new project, and unavoidable? Anybody who nurtured a project into adolescence knows this is part of the process, and respects the hard work behind what’s been achieved. It seems he has no such experience, and does not know what it takes to make it work.

This is about the new Fram bogpost on Wikipediocrazy. “Wikidata: Melania Trump was a ‘former sex worker and porn star’”.  Quite obviously Fram does not understand what is going on with WikiData and is trying to turn back the clock to a day when WikiData didn’t exist. It was kind of weird though for Wikipediocracy to publish the thing after the Fram arbcom case started, and before it was closed. But this is not just about Fram, although Fram may be the most obvious example right now.  It is about the way users are treated, the way that the inevitable problems that always surface are to be solved.

This huge philosophical difference, I think, can go a long way to explaining some of the WMF other controversial moves, for instance the Brill Lyle ban. Bril Lyle was also hugely critical of startup programs, not offering constructive criticism, but just trashing people who were trying something new, without much in terms of analysis or suggestions for the future.

And in the end, an organization that doesn’t try new programs and new ways of reaching people is going to die from lack of new blood. The old blood of course may try to find ways to keep its entrenched privilege and whatever small perks they have managed to hoard — the smaller the perk, the more cutthroat the competition. But if Wikimedia doesn’t find a way to give these new voices some breathing room, and figure out how to onboard them without taking casualties, they will eventually grind to a halt just from attrition, failure to adapt to changing circumstances, and reputational damage among those who are best placed and most inclined to lend their expertise.

No one yet seems to have pointed out the irony of Fram handling problems by getting rid of the person he disagreed with vs. T&S handling the Fram problem by getting rid of Fram.

And the arbitration committee has once again proved it is incapable of solving any of Wikipedia’s problems.  This time they are about to deprecate the word “harassment“, which is an actual policy with a clear definition.

Because the word “harassment” spans a wide variety of types of behavior, and because this word as used off-wiki can carry serious legal and human-resources overtones, at times it may be better to describe allegedly problematic on-wiki behavior such as “wikihounding” with more specific terminology.

What kind of arbspeak is that?  And “Overtones”?  They don’t want to police civility, which is an actual pillar, but they will police “tone”?  Oooh it’s a Wikipedia article, : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_policing  The category is relevance fallacies.

lmao lmao lmao lmao lmao lmao

And they don’t say what kind of “more specific terminology” might be best utilized to protect their friends, and insulate them from the consequences of their “allegedly problematic” bullying.  May I suggest “fluffy bunnies”.

bunny with club evilbunny bunny with ax 1
And since this is your paper doll and coloring connection, here is your fluffy bunny mask, so you too can pretend to be an arbcom hat-collector and protect your harassing, er, “more specific terminology” friends. It’s not too early to start planning that Halloween costume!bunnies_mask

August gossip at a gallup

  • Wikimania on Youtube  (WMF)
  • Wikimania 2019 videos on Commons (by Knowledge Savers)
  • Funds Dissemination is halted “The FDC’s role is currently under review as FDC members, the board and staff await the Movement Strategy outcomes and recommendations, particularly as they relate to Resource Allocation.” Yes, and a lot of people refuse to apply for funds at all, if their names will be published.  Judging by the current lynch mob gathered at Wikipediocracy combing over a certain (female) person’s records, finding nothing, and then completely fabricating imagined pillow talk, what competent person would want to do any work at all for these people.
  • Jimbo’s speech at Wikimania may have been the shortest speech ever, but there was one consolation, Jimmy was referred to as the “founder”.  At the same time they dumped Wikipediocracy/Greg Kohs’ “co-founder” schtick, the explanation was brought forward at Wikimania that Jimbo was actually the one to type the first words on Wikipedia “Hello world”.  And why not.  Whether Jimbo has been a good parent or not depends on your perspective, but no one can say he has been an absentee parent.
  • Ryan Merkley, formerly CEO of Creative Commons, will be CEO Katherine Maher’s new chief of staff, starting Monday, September 16th. During Merkley’s 5 years at CC, he developed and implemented a 5-year strategy.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Pinkie?
  • Jake Orlowitz, who developed the Wikipedia Library, will be leaving Sept. 6 (which was two days ago) He was very very good at talking to high-level people and getting them to provide free online library passes and other special perks for Wikimedians.  Judging by his Twitter, he does not seem to have a new gig lined up.
  • September 20 is the deadline for the North America conference.

How safe is Wikimedia Space?

The new Wikimedia Space forum is about to have the first test of its “safe space”.

Last month I wrote about the new feature: “WMF introduces moderation: “Wikimedia Space’“.

Unlike Wikipediocracy, which trashed Wikimedia Space with their usual stock anti-WMF bugbears, and unlike the mailing list, which for some reason responded with knee-jerk hostility, I tried to be reflective and fair. In short, this was not a puff piece. I don’t write those.  But I did find some positive things to say.

And now someone has posted a link to my review at Wikimedia Space.  And right away, someone else has proposed to censor me.

Who?

Ajraddatz.

Oh Adrian.  How could you.

And just when I thought you were starting to mature and mellow out a bit.

In all fairness, I think Adrian might be one of the better and more thoughtful stewards right now. But some of his past actions have raised some major, major questions.

In case anyone doesn’t know, I wrote about Ajraddatz a while back

  • Kumioko unchained…by the most curious admin Ajraddatz – in which I detail Adrian’s curation of Uncyclopedia pages related to raping children with tentacles, shooting blacks in the face, and how to beat your wife: “Anything can be used to smack the bitch down…”, also his nine years playing League of Legends, which teaches kids how to collaborate to kill unarmed bystanders.

Maybe he had some remorse though, because he vanished his user name and has done his best to scrub his presence there, as detailed with screenshots at the end of my report.

But he didn’t erase everything.   A few things did get archived before he went on his deletion spree.  It came up here, in this comment about the arbitration committee elections.

A “gay” forum

“Raped by gay Jew ponies”

  • There was also the matter of “Mr-ex777”.  This was a kid who had some trouble fitting in at Uncyclopedia.  He was bullied and picked on. The other kids created an Uncyclopedia article about him, “Mr-ex777 raped by Magic Ponies”,  featuring a cartoon of the child being sodomized by a “gay Jew pony”.  The other users, including Ajraddatz, then proceeded to vote to put this on the next Uncyclopdia front page.

Here, Ajraddatz votes in favor:  http://en.uncyclopedia.co/w/index.php?title=Uncyclopedia:VFH/Mr-ex777_raped_by_Magic_Ponies&diff=prev&oldid=5702569 [Archived.]



Here is the “featured” article in question (NSFW): https://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/Mr-ex777_raped_by_Magic_Ponies [Archived.]

Screenshot:


The rest of the (NSFW) cartoon is below the fold.

So we don’t know how Ajraddatz feels about all of this now, we only know he tried to hide it.

And now we also know he is trying to have me silenced.


So he thinks he knows who I am?  And he is trying to dox me in that venue?  How exactly is that “friendly and welcoming”.  We already know about the classy incels and Gamergaters and what they do with dox.   It has already happened with way too many women on Wikipedia, and elsewhere.

His second point is about harassment, and how it is defined. Is it harassment to promote a cartoon for sodomizing children – or one particular child – with “gay Jew ponies”, or is harassment to point out when someone has promoted such a cartoon.  Am I harassing someone when I point out, with links and screenshots, what they have done?  This goes to the very heart of the harassment problem on Wikipedia – the harassers are in high places, and they expect omertà, the code of silence.

If Wikipedia Space is going to be “friendly and welcoming to everyone”, is it going to be “friendly and welcoming” to me, and not publish personal attacks, undocumented accusations, and attempts to identify me, which bottom line, is just another attempt to silence me?  Or is it it only going to be “friendly and welcoming” to those who think raping children is funny, and who make unsupported accusations against other volunteers.

So let’s take our questions about Wikimedia Space one step further. If the moderators of Wikimedia Space get locked out of their Wikimedia accounts, who gets them back in?  Stewards, that’s who. If Jimmy Wales gets locked out of his Meta or en.wiki account, or his password gets compromised, who locks down his account, and gets it back to him safely? Stewards.  I seem to remember that happened not too long ago too.  Now, if any staffers get locked out of Wikimedia Space, who can get them back in?  I don’t know the answer to that one, but I would suggest that someone find out.  Because just maybe we have a new constitutional crisis here, where Stewards are allowed to flaunt the Safe Space rules, just because they can.

Now, how do we get our Stewards?  They aren’t stewards-for-life, like admins, are they?  They have to be elected every 2 years, right?  Wrong.  About two years ago, on an obscure back page, they voted themselves a change in the election process, since they decided they were all friends and there was nothing controversial about what they were doing.  The only person who noticed was Nemo Bis.  They are now in for good, and they have got all their friends in too, and all of them voted for each other, and you had better believe it is not a secret vote either, which is the foundation of freedom from tyranny. They communicate somewhere off-wiki, maybe IRC, more likely on Wikia.

So now, what about our current “constitutional crisis”, as has been unfolding at WP:FRAMBAN, which is a proxy for whether women, gays, blacks, and Jews are real Wikipedians, and will have a seat at the table, or whether Wikipedia will be held hostage by those with traditional Male Privilege. The strike, or revolution, or whatever you want to call it, that was declared by our resident Marxist, Tim Davenport (user:Carrite), may have failed, but there were a few individuals who followed him blindly. See Wikipedia Signpost/List of Fram related strikes. Fortunately most of these users and admins were not very active, they were just ones who like to stir the pot.  There was a bot owner as well, but the bot actually makes a lot of errors, so Wikipedia may have come out ahead on the resignation game.

Still, you have to wonder, what if all the Stewards got together in their Secret Place and decided to lock out all the WMF employees.  Seriously, the Foundation needs to find out who has the keys to the moat, and have some copies made. And while they’re at it, do an inventory of critical bots and other functions.  The Superprotect crisis is over, the community did well with that, in the absence of leadership and common sense from the Foundation, but that was in the now-distant past.  I fear “the community” — as they style themselves — is not suited for the new challenges ahead. At this point they are just a mob, and a very destructive one at that.   The Wikimedia Foundation needs to get control of their platform.  Soon.

The WMF has accused Fram of harassment.  “The community” has asked to see the evidence.

Ajraddatz has accused *me* of harassment: “frequently engages in off-wiki harassment of Wikimedia users”  So where is your evidence, Adrian?  Or are you above the law.

And when are you going to disclose your own Conflict Of Interest in making attacks against me.

Below the fold: the rest of the “featured” Uncyclopedia article, a child sodomized by “GAY JEW PONIES FTW” (for the win).  The one that Ajraddatz voted for.

NSFW:

Continue reading “How safe is Wikimedia Space?”