Starting at the Beginning

Starting at the Beginning

I keep reading immense amounts of detail about changing specific processes at Wikipedia but have yet to see anyone list the entire process at wikipedia as a framework so we can start looking at it and commenting on what works and what doesnt work IN THE FRAMEWORK. For those of us who are a bit more visual, moi, this linear thread looks like more of what I don't like about Wikipedia -- a bunch of talking heads talking about what they think about something (absolutely no offense intended and hopefully none taken). If the comments were grounded in a framework, that might be appropriate. The problem for me is that there is no framework. To date, none of Philippe's questions have been answered. Point of fact, I am not even certain that they are the correct questions.

These are the questions I think we should be asking ourselves:

1. What is Wikipedia?
2. What does Wikipedia provide?
3. How does Wikipedia provide it?
4. What works/doesn't work about how Wikipedia provides it? (this is where most of what you all have been typing in would go.)
5. What needs to change in how it is provided? (here is where the conversation about policies goes)
6. How do we build buy-in to the changes, especially when people are used to doing it a certain way?
7. How do we communicate the Wikipedia "brand" through all of this?

In order to do the above, we need to know the brand so we can thread it through everything.

Quality is a really big word. It is probably the biggest word in the change vocabulary because it encompasses everything from the user experience to how FAQ's are written.

Everything I am reading on here is focused on improving the quality of the experience and the content, and this is really good. However, as a team, we need to keep thinking big picture.

1. What is the big picture for quality?
2. What does quality NOT touch?

I may be overstepping here, but as a facilitator, I want to get us on a track that will produce at least a list of recommendations in the next few months. I want to do it in a way that makes sense to all of us. I want it organized and manageable. And if we have to use LT threads to do it, we are going to have to find a cohesive way to present these ideas in discussion so anyone walking in can read this and have more than half a clue of what we are talking about.

So, perhaps we need to start a Wiki page that is not this discussion where we can start building and filling in a framework. I think this will make these ideas much more manageable.

FT2 and Piotrus, can the two of you start building a framework of a wiki page and cull all the ideas from this LT discussion to start filling it in? I don't think it really matters who gets credited for the content, as this current discussion page will still be referenceable. I would do it myself but I have time constraints I cannot change. (This will get better in a few weeks between semesters.)

I am hoping this makes sense. Currently, I am unable to process all of the myriad of details being discussed here without a framework, and I figure if I can't organize it in my head neither can other people who look at this for the first time. And, being Wikipedia, it's appropriate that more people give input and that we design the process to make it easy for them to do so.

FT2 -- perhaps this can be set up as we were discussing "offline" -- a framework/template, with a discussion that will eventually be agreed upon and posted as a "final" (malleable final) draft?


For those of you who may be or who may wish to remain policy-phobic, a few words from Ronald Dworkin:

Policy vs. Principle

1. Policy is forward looking
2. Principle is backward looking
3. Implications
to get certain results, policy is an effective tool
policy can serve the community
policy can further important social goals
policy can be seen as disrespecting the rights of the individual
if a policy encompasses equal concern and respect, if it addresses equity and creates a level playing field, then it can be seen as a positive
it is only when policy takes the place of principle that we get into trouble (ed.)

Bhneihouse18:57, 28 November 2009
Edited by another user.
Last edit: 20:50, 28 November 2009

Local link: File:Branding flowchart full version.pdf

I put the branding graphic here because I feel it has to do with Wikipedia brand and the brand is what we begin with.

Bhneihouse20:37, 28 November 2009

We're one of a number of groups looking at different aspects. So we can probably limit ourselves to a simpler structure:

  • Take for granted what Wikimedia and its projects are, their goals, their audiences, etc.
  • Take for granted what quality is. We may have to prioritize some quality points over others for now, but we probably don't need to figure how to define it right now.
  • Look at the aspects of quality that we will focus on for no. These are the ones that we feel could have the most powerful effect on quality, be most sure of realizing that effect, and be most practical to focus on.
  • Look at what may most boost those (to do) and what we know most gets in the way (to figure how to reduce).
  • Look at long term structural threats to quality. For example, "political" type editors, who know the ropes, get a following, dont much care for some kinds of norm, aren't a threat now, but allow it too much and it could be in 5 years. Ditto content arbitration or other "fixed views", what starts as dispute resolution could end up as a tool to control/censor other content viewpoints.
FT2 (Talk | email)20:49, 28 November 2009

I would also like to get away from the threads. A lot of great info and perspective is being provided, but we eventually need to get past the discussion phase and start working towards providing real deliverables. We also need to find a way to organize all this info, as well as all the other information that has been provided by others in the past. That is why I suggested we start a series of subpages under the Quality Task Force page that we can each contribute to and edit like an article. The first subpage I was suggesting is something that defines how we are going to approach the problem of quality improvement. I was thinking in terms of steps we need to take, and what order we need to do them. If we truly want to deliver some final proposals by 01/12/2010, we also need some target dates to compelte each activity or assigned task.

MissionInn.Jim21:08, 28 November 2009

I think we're doing okay on that. What we're seeing is suggesting very firm "deliverables". If we need to look at other forms of deliverable (if these are not in the right area) that's a different point. But right now the threads above are working well for actual hard discussion of deliverables.

Look on threads as each being a forum page. What I'd suggest is some threads will be used for general discussion, or for discussion on a theme. Meantime other threads will be opened for evaluation and pitching of very specific ideas and suggestions. That's how we have it so far. It seems to work.

If you have specific perspectives or ideas to consider, start a new thread for each.

FT2 (Talk | email)21:40, 28 November 2009

I don't agree about firm deliverables. I think we have ideas that have no cohesive framework.

So far, I am still not experiencing anything cohesive coming together or "working." There are fragments. There is no "thread" no backbone holding this all together, except the assumptions all of us have about Wikipedia, which may or may not be accurate or held in common. Which is why I keep going back to looking at what Wikipedia is, how it does what it does and where it is going.That is also why I suggested above a new beginning -- to take stock, create a framework and put all the "threads" inot some sort of organization.

Bhneihouse04:03, 29 November 2009

"Top down" from too abstruse a level is going to be a vast issue. I've tried to tackle a framework from a slightly different perspective. See the thread above, "Friends and enemies of quality". Any use?

FT2 (Talk | email)04:14, 29 November 2009

I'm not talking top down. I am talking about working in parallel. If you can imagine renovating a building. you have this framework there, and you have to figure out what works and what doesnt. Then you get to figure out new layouts within the defined rooms that are being kept. Like: you have this great bedroom you want to keep but the colors of the walls dont work or the bathroom has only one sink. You work in parallel with what is and how you want it to be over time. That is what I am talking about with framework -- it exists regardless, and big changes, like changing the foundation or reframing walls are big deals but changing out sinks isnt such a big deal. This isnt top down, it's sideways.

Bhneihouse05:04, 29 November 2009

FT2; I also am not talking about a top down approach, although I would not be opposed to that. I only feel we need to be more organized and methodical about how we approach this problem (i.e. the problem of how to improve quality). Discussion lists are good for discussion, but they do not provide a summarized and organized presentation of the material. We can consider each thread a "forum", but forums don't provide a good product either. Using my job as an example, if I was to turn in a threaded discussion as a final product, I would likely be fired. My boss and other stakeholders are not going to want to wade through a discussion list to understand an issue and how we reached a conclusion. The information has to be packaged. Also, the various threads are popping up arbitrarily based on whatever comes to mind of each Task Force member. It is unclear to me what our Task Force priorities are, or should be, or why I should spend my time on one particular thread versus another. I don't mean to come across as critical of what has been done. I really think that everyone is providing a lot of good input.

MissionInn.Jim06:33, 29 November 2009

The process I'm seeing is slightly more open than that. A threaded text as a final product would indeed be unwise. But consider, we have a vast and strange area of uncertain characteristics, and we need to find major orienting points quickly. Those exploring also come from very different backgrounds, philosophies, conceptual approaches, and expectations.

What I'm seeing is that the landscape itself is holographic. Wherever we explore, if we do it well, we'll probably come to the same (or similar) final conclusions.

We're starting by creating threads on a range of ideas that come to different people's minds, some looking at the structures and philosophies, some practicalities, some small items that cause known problems. What I think'll happen is some kind of common understandings intuited through these, of common themes that keep coming up in different guises. That in turn will inform an overview that maps to the issues as they are in reality (not in concept), which we can then turn around and use as a guide to check for exceptions, frame our thinking, and ask "is this what we want".

Not saying that's "how to do it", but it's what I think we're seeing, and projecting forward, what will come out of it.

FT2 (Talk | email)07:00, 29 November 2009

I second this.

I believe those micro discussions, that explore the entire minutaie (thank God for spell checker on that word) of a concept can be extremely productive in a thinktank environment, but this is not specifically a thinktank. This is a group that MUST have recommendations by a certain date that is less than 2 months away.

Yes, we need certain aspects of a thinktank here, but it can be done within a framework that will organize the thoughts and cause them to be cohesive enough to hopefully spawn recommendations.

Bhneihouse17:44, 29 November 2009

Bhneihouse; I agree we don't have any firm deliverables yet. We have not even identified what we need to deliver. I think I am in agreement with you. You are referring to a framework, and I am calling it a plan or approach. Regardless of the specifics and what we call it, we need some kind of structured approach to make sure we are focusing on the right issues and doing the right research. Unless we do that, we will just continue discussing issues endlessly. The discussion and ideas presented so far really show a lot of creativity, but we need to harness it and provide a clear direction. We also need a way to ensure that we take into account all the other ideas that have been submitted by other users throughout the Wikimedia projects.

MissionInn.Jim06:17, 29 November 2009


ditto. and discussing issues endlessly will not get us where we need to go.

"we need a way to ensure that we take into account..." that is why I am suggesting mapping out the framework, which can work as a blueprint or guide of what already exists and then we can use things like a "newbie user experience" as a litmus test for the workability of existing ideas/processes/concepts.


Bhneihouse06:22, 29 November 2009

I really don't think we can take anything for granted. The problem with taking things for granted is that each of us may understand or perceive things differently, so we are all working from a different "zero" or starting point. I also cannot take for granted what the word "quality" means for the same reasons. If I do not know what everyone else on this team experiences as quality how can I prioritize anything? and if I do not fully understand the brand of Wikipedia, which is what your point one is, then how can I focus on one part of quality over another? How do I know which part of quality is the most important or the most important now?

If I do not fully understand Wikipedia's brand in the same way as the rest of the team, then how can I understand or agree to what the structural threats to quality are? For example: if Wikipedia's brand is to include everyone, then policies that ban people only when they engage in really abusive behavior are probably appropriate, and not sanctioning them when they cross the lines of common courtesy and socially accepted behavior might be okay. However, if Wikipedia is trying to be a well vetted source of reliable, neutral information, then anyone that gets in the way of that doesnt belong in the community.

Can you see the shift?

So it's impossible to take anything for granted and get real, meaningful work done.

Bhneihouse05:17, 29 November 2009

This led me to an interesting "tipped on its head" question. See thread above: "Quality\community balance"

FT2 (Talk | email)05:50, 29 November 2009