Sentiment - Mixed, with positive views of the automatic translation feature of the forum and how easy it is for newcomers to participate. Volunteers have already brought cross-wiki conversations outside of the wikis, and this platform offers some of the same advantages. Criticism focuses on the risk of confusion and lack of adoption by adding yet another platform. People opposing the forum maintain that we should invest in bringing the good features of this forum to Meta-Wiki instead (most of this discussion is happening on Meta and Wikimedia-l).
Summary of opinions:
Positive - If the topics of Movement Strategy are presented in a simple way, this platform can bring more opinions, especially thanks to the ability to communicate in your mother tongue. Many people are left out of conversations because they feel rejected or embarrassed for their English skills.
Positive - The translation capabilities here are so powerful and something we have never had before. The only way to get widespread feedback and buy-in for important topics like the future Movement Charter is through a platform that can provide for widespread, translation on-demand.
This forum feels welcoming to newcomers. Participation here can be significantly easier than in Meta. The interface walks users through it.
Positive - This is not a competitor to existing platforms, it simply seeks to move Movement Strategy content to a centralized platform.
Positive - MediaWiki offers good support for discussions tied to wiki pages, but it lacks many features for general discussions compared to other platforms
Positive Cross-wiki discussions are already happening outside the wikis. Volunteers have been adopting new platforms already on their own initiative, and this one has a chance to succeed especially thanks to its translations capabilities.
Positive - Providing a better alternative with this forum to mailing lists, Telegram and Facebook is a realistic goal, in terms of values, user experience, and flexibility.
Positive - If we can embrace and extend at least one existing platform so that its users all abandon other platforms (especially the proprietary) and come here, then this forum is serving a valid purpose.
Positive - This is a great platform to centralise the strategy discussions. It is a good tool to hold international and asynchronous conversations.
Positive - It would be a big deal if the Movement Charter Drafting Committee could commit to using this platform for ongoing dialogue, in addition to meta and its talk pages.
Neutral - If the choice is to participate here or in many other channels, this forum probably won’t succeed. If the choice is to participate here or not to participate, maybe it will be successful.
Neutral - This platform can succeed if it is able to offer a similar experience to social media platforms in terms of integration with mobile and laptop, intuitive interface, and access to everyone.
Neutral - Some criticism can be resolved with a commitment to post updates on Meta in some way.
Critical - There are already many platforms in use, and there is doubt that volunteers will have the time and the energy to master yet another platform.
Critical - There’s a risk this becomes an echo chamber for a handful of WMF staff and the few volunteers/affiliate staff devoted to Movement Strategy – with limited positive effect for the movement.
Critical - Risk of adding confusion for regular volunteers on where to keep updated with the most important information when discussions are already scattered.
Critical - MediaWiki is what our volunteers use, and a new platform is not going to get a representative sample for discussions.
Critical - Volunteers may not venture far from their home wikis. Getting people to contribute on Meta is hard enough. Getting them to contribute here will be significantly harder.
Critical - Moving Movement Strategy updates to a more obscure platform will reduce reach.
Critical - Building a new silo to unite the old silos never works.
Critical - This forum will only make MediaWiki more obsolete. If there are difficulties using a MediaWiki platform for conversations, it could be more effective to seek improvements rather than creating a new platform.
My first thought is: I doubt that volunteers with limited time commitment will have the time and the energy to master yet another platform. I mean, having it might be great for people deeply immersed in movement strategy, but most of the folks in the movement are not.
As a result, there’s a risk this becomes an echo chamber for a handful of WMF staff and the few volunteers / affiliate staff devoted to this topic – with limited positive effect for the movement but a lot of time commitment from the Movement Strategy team to maintain it, and in the worst case with more confusion for “ordinary” people on where to keep updated with the most important stuff.
The initiative might still succeed, but I think it’s important for the team to think about these questions and maybe address them more explicitly in communications.
In response to the paragraph ending with “This needs to change”. Meta-Wiki and Telegram are not the only places community discussions happen. Facebook, GroupMe, Wechat, IRC, Discord, Matrix. All of these are used by community members currently. What this does is creates yet another platform, a non-mainstream one that new editors are going to be more lost in if they even manage to find this, and adds to the scattering of discussions. And there are ways to work on the problems of existing platforms rather than creating entirely new ones, namely in terms of ease of multilingual communications.
Basically seconding Aced’s point. MediaWiki-based discussions lack quick machine translating (intentionally, to some extent), but MediaWiki is what our volunteers use, and creating a whole new platform is only going to attract those with the time and interest to make their voice heard. This means affiliate people and people otherwise in tune with WMF Movement Strategy developments. That’s not very many people, and it’s not going to get you a representative sample for any sort of Movement Strategy based discussions. It will alienate a large part of the movement, namely the part of the movement who actually creates and maintains content, who may not venture far from their home wikis. Getting people to contribute on Meta is hard enough. Getting them to contribute here (though it is a easy-to-learn platform, great job there) will be significantly harder.
If there are difficulties using a MediaWiki platform for this, it could be more effective to seek changes rather than creating a new platform. Perhaps develop a machine translation gadget for discussion pages. (client-side machine translations for specific paragraphs, maybe?)
Overall…no, I don’t think this forum will inherently be a net positive to Movement Strategy discussions. It’s a selection bias problem, and…well, see the xkcd comic.
Yes, time management is one of the most important factors to take into account. We can look at this problem from the perspective of three different groups:
People already involved in Movement Strategy implementation projects. Right now, the only channels for cross-project collaboration are Telegram and Meta-Wiki. Both platforms have serious limitations for this type of collaboration, it takes significant time to find and follow the topics that interest you and ignore the rest, and this is why people and their collaboration have been migrating to other places. As a result, we don’t have a place where actual cross-project conversation is happening, and this hampers the MS implementation.
People interested in getting involved in Movement Strategy and looking for the right way to do so. Right now the basic options are to find your way through the pages on Meta (we are improving them, especially highlighting opportunities to get involved) or to join a Telegram group (we have spun-off a couple of specialized ones to have alternatives to the big general one). Still, it takes a lot of time to even understand what opportunities you have to get involved and find your first peers.
People not interested in getting involved, but willing to stay informed and participate in specific calls to action. This communication is essentially broken except for announcements translated to multiple languages and distributed to multiple channels manually. And even then, it is difficult to go beyond the core members of each community. For this people, following up takes so much time that they understandably give up.
The main objective of this forum is to save time to these three groups by offering a user-friendly and multilingual space for
Movement Strategy announcements and calls to action
questions, “networking”, and opportunities to get involved
complex discussions and project collaboration.
Yes, this is always the dilemma. On which platform(s) to put our time and our bets? Then again, a question to ask is… why all this proliferation of discussion platforms? Clearly enough people aren’t satisfied with what their wiki initially offered.
As mentioned above, our scope here is the Movement Strategy implementation, and the hypothesis is that none of the channels mentioned above is as well equipped to support this complex process as this one. We want to propose this forum for the goals that other platforms are not accomplishing well, and we are not aiming to disturb what is working well in these platforms.
If Movement Strategy is highly interesting for a few hundreds of volunteers and then only occasionally interesting for a few thousands more on a specific call to action, that works.
Thank you, this clarifies the scope significantly. As I understand it now, this is not a competitor to existing platforms, it simply seeks to move Movement Strategy content to a centralized platform, one which evidently has better translation and threading possibilities. Kewl.
MediaWiki has great content organization capabilities, and discussions strongly related to specific wiki content benefit strongly from those capabilities. (Think about how many new talk page topics are started on English Wikipedia in a day. In a typical forum that would be a chaotic mess; Wikipedia’s system of watchlists, categories etc. makes it pretty manageable.) Discussions which aren’t related don’t; and in most other aspects MediaWiki’s discussion tools are very outdated, even with the recent facelift (which is great). No multilingual support; no community moderation support; very little UI guidance; poor formatting abilities (e.g. adding images is a nightmare); no likes or similar features to bubble up informative or insightful comments etc. Improving all that within the foreseeable future is well beyond the limits of plausibility.
Which is why cross-wiki discussions are already happening outside the wikis, on mailing lists, Telegram and Facebook primarily. Providing a better alternative than those three things (both in terms of UX, and, in the last two cases, in terms of values and adaptability) is a realistic goal IMO. Facebook has a huge reach advantage but is a poor match in terms of values, allows very little control over the conversation, notification options are poor, formatting options are poor etc. Mailing lists provide huge flexibility with many different email clients, but are also very limited because of that in terms of formatting or moderation, and really bad at dealing with conversations with lots of comments. Telegram is just plain bad IMO, it doesn’t really have any benefit (and while I wouldn’t necessarily mix up async chat tools like Facebook or Discord and real-time chat tools, I don’t think we make real use of the real-time-ness in Telegram, unlike e.g. IRC which is used for all kinds of things where a rapid response is required).
In general, I agree with your observation that “Yet Another Platform” is a very tough thing to sell to the community unless it really adds utility that we don’t have. However, I’m not sure I agree with your comment that “MediaWiki is what our volunteers use” in the area of communication and dialogue. In fact, that’s been the problem in that we don’t like using on-wiki for complex or engaged conversation. Instead, as Quim mentioned, Telegram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Discord and others outside the wiki sphere have become very active. So I’m not entirely against the idea of a new platform, especially with the strong translation capabilities that the other platforms really lack.
However, if this platform is to have a chance of succeeding, it has to surface interesting conversations easily and quickly, and the default display doesn’t do that, I’m afraid. To do that, In the “Latest” display on the right hand side of the front page, I’d like to see real usernames and at least part of the first sentence of the reply. This way I can quickly scan to see if it’s something worth reading. Otherwise, click in, click out, click in, click out, is a very 1990s bulletin board system way of reading content.
Do I think this forum can improve discussions and collaboration? Maybe. There is a balance between making feedback easy to give and having a larger discussion. If my choice is to participate here, or on Meta, or on Telegram, or on my local wiki, or during live meetings, or in any of several other places I doubt that this tool will ultimately succeed. If my choice is to not participate or to participate here maybe it will be successful.
I do however lean towards @Aced. As I’m reading through the thread I was also reflecting and thought about why am I easily accessible in social media platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram) and email but not so much accessible on, for example, talk page on meta. Then it hit me:
ecosystem that is integrated with my phone and laptop,
system that is intuitive,
a place where I can easily have access to everyone, and by everyone I mean everyone - sort of like social media for Wikimedia.
For me, if this platform will have this factors I don’t see why I should feel the need to leave to somewhere else.
Having said this I think this is a great platform to centralise the strategy discussions. Like really great idea that we have this platform dedicated to the strategy.
From the three points you make, critical mass of users is the deal or break, and the one that we all have more possibilities to act upon.
The other two are more related to business and tech (tightly related). Discourse cannot compete with the budget and tech of Google, Facebook, etc. But the desktop and mobile user experience is good, Wikimedia login helps, and here nobody is tracking you and selling your private data (the only reason why those companies can be among the most profitable in human history while users don’t pay a cent for their services).
Perhaps more importantly, Google and Facebook aren’t focused on productive public discussion. Google is not focused on public discussion at all (or at least not in a sustainable way; the regular rise and demise of its social platform products has become a running joke), and Facebook optimizes its discussion surfaces to be maximally distracting so as to maximize the time for which the user is on their platform, which in many aspects is a conflicting goal. Discourse, even at its modest current size, is one of the top players in the “collaboration platform” space IMO.
Hola, gracias por la invitación a este espacio. Pienso que es una buena herramienta para sostener conversaciones internacionales y asíncronas. Muchas personas en el Movimiento quedan fuera de las conversaciones al sentirse rechazadas o avergonzadas por no poder opinar en un nivel de inglés adecuado. Por tanto, cualquier herramienta de inclusión siempre será bienvenida.
Opino igualmente que el problema de “no es otra plataforma más” puede solucionarse llegando a un consenso colectivo que este espacio tenga una preeminencia sobre otras conversaciones o bien, que exista un compromiso de que lo expuesto aquí pasará a Meta de alguna manera.
Por otro lado, creo que las problemáticas de participación tienen que ver con otros factores y no con las herramientas, precisamente. La Estrategia ha sido un proceso largo en el que no todas las personas pueden sostener participación, especialmente en sitios del mundo en donde factores socioeconómicos no permiten estar en todo lo que se desea estar.
Agree, and I think it would be a big deal if the Movement Charter Drafting Committee could commit to using this platform for ongoing dialogue, in addition to meta and its talk pages. The translation capabilities here are so powerful and something we have never had before. The only way to get widespread feedback and buy-in for the future Movement Charter is through a platform that can provide for widespread, translation on-demand.
No. This forum will only make MediaWiki more abandonware. Invest money and time in making our discussion system better. We have plenty of money, and plenty of workers. -Theklan (talk) 10:01, 29 May 2022 (UTC)
The first post contains a summary of the discussion so far. The top post is editable, and anyone can contribute to improving it. We will try to update it on a weekly basis in conjunction with the community review weekly reports.
Discourse would have been amazing to have much earlier (personally asked for it few times), now it feels a bit it is less obvious since so many initiatives already formed and have their own communication and work dynamics. Anyway I am supportive of it as a method and a tool, but coutious to see if it is too-late for onboarding critical mass of users *(agree with more conservative opinions that Meta should remain central, just not only and just not as alternative, but co-existing).