Monday, February 22, 2016

The Late-February 2016 Wikimedia Foundation "Leak"; Wikipediocracy Slipping into WP Fanpage

This is as close to a real scoop as we will ever get, and it's ongoing. Over on the Wikipedia Sucks! messageboard, it was brought up that Brion Vibber had written this on the Wikipedia-1 email list:

"As a longtime part of Wikimedia's community and staff, I would really appreciate some clear answers on what's going on and why we're losing more and more longtime community and staff members while an ED who needs management coaching is still in place."

He emailed that on Friday, February 19 at 2:08 AM, and over the weekend it went back and forth between MzMcBride, Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit on the Polish Wikipedia), Millosh (Milos Rancic of the Serbian Wikipedia), with the undercurrent being that nobody at the WMF is wild about how Lila Tretikov has been running the store ("The engagement survey in November showed very, very low support for the Executive Director" in Brion Vibber's words.) It is known that ten people left the WMF from November to January, and eleven staff have left/ announced they were leaving in February, making it twenty-one total. Then there was this from Coren (Marc A. Pelletier):

On 2016-02-20 10:36 PM, Lila Tretikov wrote:
> Information asymmetry is a big issue. For example, in my role there is a
> lot I cannot say, I have responsibilities to protect people in the
> organization both current and former. So, for example, if someone is fired,
> even for cause, I would not say anything about this person that may hurt
> their chances in the future.

That is... downright brilliant.  Pretend to be caring and responsible,
while at the same time make an underhanded implication that the people
who left are villains and that you are a poor victim for being unable to
speak the Truth.  I hope you choke on shame for having the gall to even
so much suggest that pillars of the staff and community like Siko, Luis,
and Anna left for any reason other than your "exemplary" leadership.

"Information asymmetry" is right, mind you.  Staffers have shown
extraordinary restraint in keeping thing quiet and civilized so that
what has been going on does not reflect too badly on the foundation and
- by extension - the movement.  After all, as Ori so eloquently pointed
out earlier, the Foundation is full of passionate and dedicated people
who managed to do a great deal of good things despite all the "fun" of
being rudderless, leaderless and without anything resembling a vision.

If you have a single iota of integrity, please leave now before more of
the foundation crumbles around you.  Even if you were perfectly correct
in all you did and everyone else was perfectly wrong, any supposed
leader that has no trust from at least 93% of their staff should realize
that - if nothing else - they are a bad fit and cannot possibly salvage
the situation.

-- Marc / Coren
There was no response from Lila Tretikov, at least on that email list. As Coren is no longer an employee of the WMF, there is nothing to be gained by having some sort of public pie fight. "Flip Flopped" of the Wikipedia Sucks! messageboard thinks that Tretikov is just serving time until 2017 or 2018, and then will leave for some other executive directorship because the WMF is un-repairable. Her faith in herself is said to be enormous and she wants to be powerful, and being a part of the WMF right now is like being chained to a meteorite tumbling through deep space, instead of being inside a powerful spaceship heading at high speed to some far-away point in the cosmos. Whatever the case, we will be watching for further developments.

Wikipediocracy Lets the Trash In

Since Eric Barbour and Peter Damian stopped participating in the Wikipediocracy message board (WO-MB), all sorts of skeezy characters have been showing up, such as Beeblebrox (who blocked 2400 accounts on Wikipedia from 2009-2013.) Nobody knows who Beeblebrox (it's a Douglas Adams reference) is, except that he is from Homer, Alaska, is a professional IT worker, in his late forties, and acts like a thirteen-year-old on Wikipedia. And Wikipediocracy let him in at the beginning of this month, no questions asked. They let NewYorkBrad in, they let MONGO in, when they get Essjay or a convincing Essjay imposter, the jig will be truly up.

For Wikipedia criticism to work, there has to be a distance between the subject and the critic. When a criticism site allows some of the worst people from the target to become members, the necessary distance is destroyed. The situation at WO-MB is unworkable, unless they want to be a toothless fanpage.

(Thanks to "Sigma", "Mutineer", "Flip Flopped", "ilvadel", "ericbarbour" and "The Dark Knight" for their input on those threads.)

1 comment:

  1. Readers may wish to view Molly White's "Wikimedia timeline of recent events" at It details the implosion of the relationship between WMF staff and Tretikov, WMF Board of Director issues, and the controversial Knowledge Engine.

    The Wikipedia Sucks message board is a great place to be.