User:Nemo bis/General thoughts on the strategic planning process
Submitted to Pre-Strategy Finalization Goals Survey (Community) (Sue's blog post).
Are there other measures that you think are important and should be tracked, that are not listed here?
I've very much liked that measures are now project-neutral, i.e. they don't mention any more the number of Wikipedias with more then x articles and so on. But this is not enough, because they're still biased towards Wikipedia; and I'm not talking about very generic measures (which are IMHO less useful, see also below) but about the more specific measures listed in the plan, which are many but not good enough to give a sense of what we're going to do and they look like an assessment of what already exists and maybe of what it would exist anyway, as opposed to something which drives our daily (or weekly) action. See below.
Are there any other comments or input you would like to provide with regard to the goal-setting for the strategy plan?
Audacious goals are useful to describe our vision, and measures of success are useful to make them understandable and verifiable at the end of the strategic plan period. But I don't think that this is the most important thing: goals measures should help us on a monthly basis to understand how are we doing and what do we have to do. The strategic planning process has produced lots of proposals and discussions (some vexatae quaestiones but many very interesting ones); task forces have partly reorganized, reformatted and sorted out such proposals, but even the task forces recommendations are often not very refined and most importantly quite generic (long, long lists of things we should do/achieve, and not all of them consensual) and not so useful to prioritize and actually say what we are going to do concretely. We've written down our vision, mission, goals, things we care about, things we should achieve etc.: that's very fine. But it's not enough. The only thing that is quite clear is how we eill adopt the "make the servers runing" proposal: we're saying that WMF will invest millions in a new data-centre and so on. All the rest is quite unclear. E.g., usability is a key area: but are we going to invest millions here (the usability team has done a lot of work but it doesn't seem o have achieved anything really revolutionary)? do we want a WYSIWYG editor? is this enough to improve participation? is it the only thing the WMF can actually do? We should definitely prioritize, decide what we want to do, give us a timetable; this is what measures should serve for, It's very difficult to do this, and I don't have magic proposals.
I think that these goals are not unattainable in theirself (especially "reach", but I don't know how it was calculated), but I'm not sure we can succeed if we don't have real clues about how to achieve them: things won't happen automagically.
Changing topic. In fact, we could fail because we are not ambicious enough. I mean, perhaps we won't be able to have that much readers and contributors; but maybe we could do much, much more if we did different things. There is a long (albeit incomplete) "List of things that should be free" on strategy wiki, but even our projects are highly underrated. What about Wiktionary? Dictionaries are a reference paper work much more used than encyclopedias; Wiktionary is probably the Wikimedia project I use more (en.wiktionary is often quite good now), and there are lots of online dictionaries even if they're not so good, but we have a very low market share (not to mention all those languages where no commercial online dictionary exists). What about books and documents? Encyclopedias, dictionaries, dictionaries of quotations, newspapers are only a very tiny part of our libraries. Wikisource could increase thousands- or tens of thousands-fold. Sister projects are often overlooked: but precisely because they're currently so small (although useful) there's plenty of room to grow.
Any comments on this survey?
I hope you're going to release this spreadsheet as the Usability team did for Beta feedback. I'm not sure that August is a good period, but I understand that we don't have time and it's very useful to gather some general feedback on the process.
Is there anything else you'd like to say?
As I said above, the strategic planning process has been awesome. It's perhaps the best thing that the WMF has ever done. But it's a pity that lots of users submitted their own proposal (or worked on few proposals) and were not interested in discussing other proposals. We have lots of proposals with very little discussion or collaboration to improve them and assess them; and actually, very few "strategic" proposals, since most of them are very narrow proposals (which doesn't mean that they're automatically not interesting, obviously). I have not seen a very active "strategic community". Task forces have been a great idea and they've done a huge work, but they were not helped by this lack of actual strategic discussion on proposals. It's very important that we continue to encourage strategic discussion/planning/action on strategy wiki, Meta-Wiki or other places, to work on those proposals which should be addressed by the community itself but also to help the core strategic planning process which has to produce an actionable strategic plan for the WMF, Wikimedia chapters and all those who care. I won't discuss the technical and organizational details; but I'll add that I'm happy to see that an ideaTorrent has been finally set up, and I'm looking forward to seeing it in action.