WikiEducator Runs LiquidThreads

WikiEducator, a wiki-based education community with a strong focus on developing countries, is the first production wiki to use LiquidThreads, a MediaWiki extension for threaded discussions. The project has a long and interesting history: three years ago, I reached the conclusion that regular wiki discussion pages were inadequate as a communication tool for many reasons, and wrote very basic specifications and created a mock-up for an alternative discussion system called LiquidThreads.

The core idea was to replace talk pages with discussion threads, which could be flexibly attached and re-attached to multiple different points in the wiki (hence the “liquidity”). Archiving was to be done automatically, but only if a summary had been created for a thread.

As these things go, it was merely an idea that would probably have been destined to be abandoned — until David McCabe picked it up and used it as a basis for a Summer of Code application in 2006. He demonstrated a fairly slick prototype at Wikimania 2006 (Hacking Days), but the project was on hold until Wikia and the Commonwealth of Learning joined forces to pay David for further work on it. I have played a project management role during this time. By now, LQT is still beta software, but it’s largely feature-complete.

It has turned out to be less liquid than we originally intended. It does not have the “one thread on multiple talk pages” feature, for one thing. It does implement the summary-based archiving, as well as page moves and a fairly cool message watchlist that replaces the “You have new messages”. Essentially you can get notified about any reply to threads you’ve been posting on — curently the notifications are shown on the watchlist, but David is working also showing a general notification for user talk messages.

There’ll be more debugging and usability work as we try this out with a real community, and the other major remaining step is to turn it into a proper MediaWiki extension (because it touches so many pieces of the code, it wasn’t possible to implement without touching the core codebase — we’ll have to get those hooks merged back into MW proper and get rid of anything idiosyncratic). After that, my hope is that it’ll be increasingly widely used as an alternative to talk pages, hopefully also on Wikimedia projects. With a basic framework like this in place, it’s now more realistic to think about things like in-wiki chat and e-mail-to-wiki gateways as well. All it really needs is a budget. :-) If you’re interested in funding such projects, let me know.

I love Wikipedia, damnit!

So Sabine is trying to bootstrap a campaign where people show in a photo how and why they love Wikipedia. Well, Gerard and I weren’t particularly creative, but at least we did make a small visual contribution:

I hope you’ll do the same and upload it to Wikimedia Commons or Flickr’s Wikilove Pool.

The point? During the next fundraiser we can show the faces of all the people who participated and give it a more human feel. So even if you cannot or do not want to donate, please consider taking out your camera and photograph yourself or your friends in ways that show your support for Wikipedia and Wikimedia.

Ubuntu updates still suck

My father is running (K)ubuntu Linux. A few days ago I helped him update from the previous release (6.10) to the most recent one (7.04). After the upgrade, his scanner and sound card stopped working. In the case of the scanner, the culprit was bug #85488, which was triggered due to an experimental feature enabled in the kernel of the latest version. I managed to pull a workaround from one of the comments, but I spent several hours on these two problems. (ALSA sound configuration is almost as horrible as CUPS.)

Rolling out upgrades that kill hardware == bad. Not even rolling out any kind of fix or workaround == worse. “It’s going to be fixed in the next release” is terrible policy when you introduce new problems that the user didn’t have before! If my choice on Ubuntu is between an out of date “long-term support” release and an extremely unreliable up-to-date “current” release, I might as well go back to Debian.

While I was at it, I also gave the Google-sponsored Tesseract and Ocropus projects a whirl. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, it is still going to take years until we have commercial grade open source desktop OCR under Linux. (The Tesseract command line client produced passable results on some input files, and zero byte files on others; Ocropus produced crap even on its own test files.)

Wikimania & Advisory Board thoughts

One of the greatest things about the Wikimedia community is its annual conference, Wikimania. With a new location chosen every year, it gives interested Wikimedians an opportunity to meet like-minded wiki nuts from all over the planet. I have attended all the conferences so far, including this year’s in Taipei (August 3-5).
The Foundation’s Board of Trustees used the opportunity of Wikimania 2007 for the first-ever meeting with many members of its Advisory Board. This is a belated summary of my impressions from both events.

Advisory Board meeting

Angela, who is the Chair of the Advisory Board, is still working on a detailed report, so I will keep this one short. The following Advisory Board members managed to attend: Ward Cunningham, Heather Ford, Melissa Hagemann, Teemu Leinonen, Rebecca MacKinnon, Wayne Mackintosh, Benjamin Mako Hill, Erin McKean, Achal Prabhala, and Raoul Weiler. We met in a small room at the Chien Tan Oversea Youth Activity Center, the main conference venue.

The two-day meeting was facilitated by Manon Ress; the Agenda is publicly available. I will say this much upfront: The single most important function of this meeting was for Board and Advisory Board members to get to know and trust each other, and to figure out how we can actively work together in the future. I believe the meeting reached this goal. For many Advisory Board members, visiting Taipei also must have been the equivalent of drinking from a firehose of knowledge about wikis. Of course there are exceptions. 😉

Naturally, there were also some very specific exercises which will hopefully have practical use. For instance, randomized groups tried to identify the key values of the Foundation. The group I was in started out by humorously defining all the things we don’t want to be — extremely hierarchical, exclusive, western-centric, etc. — and then compared those with positive value statements. (For some reason, “world domination” ended up in both lists.) I suggested the slogan “knowledge without borders” or “knowledge without boundaries” as a possible framework for many of the key values we found: access to knowledge (in a participatory sense) on a global scale, multilingual and multicultural diversity, content that can be freely shared and modified, etc.

I don’t know if this particular slogan will catch on, but I like the idea of trying to express key principles in a short catchphrase. The list of values itself could also be useful for messaging and policymaking. There wasn’t a lot of notetaking on the wiki, so I hope Angela has some notes from the different groups available to her. We also tried to identify some key goals, and the list my group worked on (with some predictable disagreements about the meaning of “goal” etc.) included primarily these items, read through my own personal bias:

  • Increasing quality of content in our projects, but also challenging and changing misperceptions.
  • Massively scaling volunteer participations in all areas of organizational and project-level work, to live up to our ambitious mission & vision.
  • Building greater awareness of Wikimedia’s mission & purpose. (Gregory Maxwell recently proposed adding an essay I started, 10 things you did not know about Wikipedia, to the notice displayed to unregistered users of Wikipedia. I think that’s an interesting experiment in changing people’s perceptions — we should use our own website properties more often to actually communicate with our readers.)
  • Build capacities among partners and users — the ability to participate, to create and deploy new tools, and so on.

I believe that there is a deep and complex challenge of what I call “meta-management” — the Foundation has such a diversity of projects (Wikibooks, Wikinews, Wikisource, etc.) and goals that any approach which does not scale massively will not serve our community well. So, yes, we should of course hire coordinators for grants and projects, and get better at business development, and improve our technical infrastructure, and so forth. But I think networking and empowering volunteers to do many of the things we hope to pay more people to do is a much more scalable approach.

This is a very difficult idea to promote in a group of highly intelligent people, as it’s much more exciting to focus on more specific problems, so I’m not sure if I got this particular point across well in our discussion.

Unsurprisingly, then, I also found the biggest practical value in an exercise where I moderated a group on the topic of Volunteerism (link goes to the notes), consisting of Angela, Mako, and Achal. I was especially intrigued to hear more about Ubuntu’s process for creating and coordinating volunteer teams. I am left with the conclusion that we need more semi-formal ways for Wikimedians to self-organize than the heavy process of starting a chapter. Check the notes for some other interesting ideas. We got some more suggestions later, such as an “Edit Wikipedia Day” and other online events that could be held every year to encourage different types of participation.

It’s a bunch of people in a room. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that.

Photo: halafish, CC-BY-SA.

I missed some of the more creative and physical elements that we used during the Frankfurt Board+Chapter Retreat which happened last year. For example, our facilitator there had an interesting exercise where she asked all participants to come up with a gesture to identify themselves (I used Columbo’s famous “Just one more thing”). While a bit repetitive in the end, I thought it was a fun bonding game that also helps very practically to remember people, faces and names. This makes me think that it would be good to have someone in-house for facilitation work, to build upon knowledge from previous events. Also, is there a wiki to document these kinds of processes? 😉

In practice, we will continue to use our Advisory Board mailing list to consult with A.B. members as a group — these are typically strategic questions, or “fishing” of the type “Does anyone know someone who ..”. But I believe the more frequent interactions will be with individuals, around issues in their domain. And while I initially viewed the A.B. as only being truly connected to the Board, I am increasingly coming to the opinion that we should encourage them to interact with staff and community members as well (and possibly sometimes chapters, though I hope these will also set up their own advisory bodies).

What is the ideal size for an Advisory Board? During the meeting I believe the consensus was against significant further expansion before we’re happy with the utilization of the current Advisory Board (this is not the case for the actual Board, where there is a consensus leaning towards another expansion). I suspect there’s another reason to keep it roughly at the present size: it allows us to get to know the members socially, to form a collegial trust relationship, which can lead to very different types of useful interaction than merely someone who you suspect to know something. It also keeps it manageable to prune members, to invite them into a single place, and so forth.

At the same time, if you think about expansion because “more is better”, then any size would be too small — you’ll want to manage knowledge and trust on a global scale. Wait a minute, knowledge and trust on a global scale? That sounds like a familiar problem! 😉 I suspect indeed that innovations of internal knowledge management will be driven by our project communities. And I don’t think that a massively decentralized approach of acquiring information from trustworthy sources and a fairly stable group of passionate advisors would be mutually exclusive. :-)

Wikimania itself

Wikimania visitors posing (being posed) for some group shots on the last day.

Photo: halafish, CC-BY-SA.

Most members of the fantastic team that made it all happen!

Photo: halafish, CC-BY-SA.

The main conference was absolutely wonderful. We cannot thank the organizers enough for putting together an event that, I think, nobody who was there will soon forget. I will have to resort to the maligned bullet point list to even begin to enumerate all the things that were done well:

  • a well-chosen venue (a youth hostel) with plenty of spaces to mingle
  • a large number of sponsorships that never appeared obtrusive in any way
  • a highly committed local team that went out of its way to assist with anything (starting with welcoming people at the airport)
  • a compelling program with talks that were truly interesting to any Wikimedian
  • many opportunities for ad hoc events (laptop content bundles, lightning talks, workshops, and so forth)
  • side events – citizen journalism, hacking days, party, etc.
  • excellent catering
  • Taipei itself
  • all of you who made it 😉
  • and a million other things.

You owe it to yourself to come to Wikimania 2008, which is currently accepting city bids. Swim if you have to. And block the first week of August in your calendar. :-)

I do think we should try to have more content that appeals to wiki newbies next time: editing workshops, project tours, exhibits, etc. Whether that’s the intent or not, many people who have barely seen an edit page will always be inclined to visit a conference like this — just because it’s about this crazy new wiki thing. That’s doubly true if the conference is in a location where the community isn’t yet as strong as in the U.S., parts of Asia, or Western Europe.

Some of the first users of the OLPC at Wikimania. The laptop had a very prominent place in the “free culture space” of the conference.

Photo: preetamrai, CC-BY-SA.

I did enjoy Taipei itself, especially a fun little tour with Shun-ling Chen, Mel from OLPC, and the Semantic MediaWiki developers. There is also some incriminating video evidence from another occasion that Kat will probably use against me sooner or later. I derived the greatest enjoyment from making new friends, having interesting conversations, and discovering new patterns (in reality in general and Wikipedia in particular). In that respect, I especially cherish the new things I learned from people like Luca de Alfaro (trust and reputation in Wikipedia), Michael Dale (Metavid), Shay David (Kaltura), and Brian Mingus (quality heuristics – let’s chat some more about this soon). I think all Board members had great conversations with Sue Gardner, our new “Special Advisor”, and Mike Godwin, our new Legal Counsel. And of course, it was great to connect again and catch up with many old friends in an unlikely location.

There was definitely a language barrier to connect more with the local folks. English isn’t that commonly spoken in Taiwan, and I found it difficult to converse much beyond smalltalk. Not much that can be done about that other than learning Chinese, which I’m afraid is unlikely to make my to-do list anytime soon. I tried to be accessible to anyone who did want to speak with me and gave an interview to a local magazine about OmegaWiki.

I will find it very interesting to look back on this Wikimania in context, and to hear more from others about it. I for one think it was a complete success. But I felt the same way about Boston and Frankfurt, so I hope there will also be some constructive criticism and maybe even some trolling. 😉 I’m also keen to see more wiki-events small and large. I won’t be able to make it to all or even most of them, but that’s OK. One way or another, it is wonderful to see the global community for free culture thrive. As a community, as friends; constructive in conflict, united in diversity.

Delphine and me are sharing a precious moment. “I ate what?!” I’m sure you can come up with a funnier caption for this one. I really have no memory of what actually happened. :-)

Photo: Kat Walsh, CC-BY-SA.

Wikipedia Offline Readers

Looks like all the Wikimedia Foundation had to do for decent offline reader software to be developed is continue to provide database dumps. 😉 There are now several implementations, some open source, that can be used to build Wikipedia DVDs – and I’m not referring to the neat offline reader hack that was just slashdotted. Look at these:

  • Moulin (open source) uses static HTML inside a XUL-based cross-platform reader application with Gecko as the rendering engine. Doesn’t seem to have full-text search (only titles), but seems to have a very active development team. Current downloadable version still very simplistic, future versions should be interesting. Current versions do not contain images but there’s nothing technical that stands in the way of including them. I missed the Wikimania talk about this one. :-(
  • Kiwix (open source) is awesome and the slickest implementation I’ve seen so far. It was used for the Wikipedia 0.5 DVD (actually a CD, with only about 2000 articles, sadly). Has a nice full-text search, search autocompletion, and printing. Also uses static HTML as a source. Storage efficiency could be better, but this first selection does include image thumbnails, which take quite a bit of space.
  • Ksana For Wiki is still closed source. It was demonstrated at Wikimania to provide “Wikipedia on a USB stick”. Pretty nifty for looking things up without a net connection. The application actually parses the wikitext and does a fairly shoddy job at it, which makes many of the articles look rather raw. On the positive side, it does support accessing dumps in any language, has a fairly fast full-text search, and is cross-platform.
  • ZenoReader is a Windows-only closed source reader application developed for the German Wikipedia DVD. While the company which made the DVD, Directmedia, deserves credit for bringing the first WP DVD to the market, I don’t think this particular framework is likely to have much of a future. I’m not even going to bother to try to get it to run under WINE on Linux, as they suggest. From what I can gather, it’s based on the HTML of the de.wp articles which is served through a local webserver.
  • Wikipedia Offline Client seems to be a student project to create a nice graphical client. From what I can see quickly, it appears to be also based on rendering & indexing HTML pages, though they seem to have hacked the standard MediaWiki parser for the purpose. Not sure what the current status is and how likely it is to be developed further. It appears to be partially based on Knowledge, an earlier offline reader effort.
  • WikiFilter takes a similar approach to Ksana, using the wikitext as a source. Judging by the screenshot, the output is somewhat slicker, but the code hasn’t been updated in more than a year and is Windows-only. It runs as an Apache module so setup is definitely not for the meek.

UPDATE: A couple of other ones pointed out in the comments:

  • yawr is Magnus Manske’s effort to create an open source equivalent of ZenoReader.
  • WikiMiner is a Java-based search tool that can be used in conjunction with the static HTML dumps.

A few other methods to view Wikipedia without the Internet exist, such as a reader for the iPod or Erik Zachte’s TomeRaider edition. TomeRaider is a proprietary ebook reader format for PDAs. Erik explained to me how he spent countless hours trying to get every last detail to render correctly.

Perhaps the WMF should pick one of those platforms and support the developers, offer a DVD toolchain on, etc. My long term wishlist for offline reading includes:

  • “Make your own dump” style scripts that generate input files for the reader application which include exactly the articles & images I want, so it becomes easy to customize it down to a megabyte-size selection, or to access many gigabytes of text and
  • More than one-article-per-window display modes. It should be possible to scroll through an entire category, or even the entire encyclopedia, without ever opening a new window. Google Reader or Thoof style smart loading may help here.
  • Embedded Theora & Vorbis playback. If Grolier did it 15 years ago, we should be able to have a rich media DVD as well. :-)
  • Smarter parsing of the contents. Templates in particular typically mark up semantic blocks that you may want to filter out, match to an offline equivalent, render in a separate window, etc. Of course if we want to really dream, think of the possibilities of DBpedia style data extraction and queries: go beyond full-text search and offer limitless queries & dynamic lists of the data within Wikipedia.

Of course the real challenge in the long run will be off-line editing with syncing to the live side once connectivity is available.
And I’d love to see decent enough voice recognition on mobile devices so that you can simply say the name of an article and it will immediately display it. 😉

Going back to the boring present, are you aware of other wiki reader & parser projects that are worth mentioning? & paying for free culture

Micropledge is a new platform for pooling resources to develop software. Users can pledge money towards the development of a specific project; the money is only paid if the pledgers vote that the project has been successfully implemented. Note that you have to transfer money to Micropledge before you can pledge it towards any specific project; this largely eliminates the risk of pledge fraud, but also reduces the likelihood of spontaneous pledges.

I’ve started an example Micropledge for a MediaWiki extension which I would consider very useful, an RSS extension for namespaces with smart quality filtering.

Micropledge is part of a growing number of sites and services that combine Web 2.0 style social networking and slick UIs with mechanisms for fundraising and pledging towards specific goals. Pledgebank is a universal pledging service (without built-in payment processing), whereas Fundable is a platform for goal-oriented fundraising. I’ve blogged before about, which tries to connect people concerned about certain causes with non-profit organizations that relate to them. When it comes to widgets, ChipIn makes it easy to embed dynamic fundraising boxes into any website. And there are a number of Facebook applications as well.

Of course, free culture does not mean that people do not get paid; it means that the cultural works people create are not encumbered by monopoly rights. Distributed funding mechanisms are one of many ways in which people can and do get paid for authoring works which are freely available to everyone, in perpetuity. It remains to be seen which ones of these new services will be successful in the long run. I’d also love to see some pilot projects in the area of content development on Wikimedia Foundation projects.

Beyond usability, one key question seems to be: Why would people visit a pledging platform in the first place? It seems clear that many people would do so in order to start a pledge, but how do you get people there to join an existing effort? Wikipedia and eBay could gain popularity because they offer things people want: information or goods/services. It seems much harder to match people searching for a particular application to the relevant pledge on

Instead of trying to generate attention for hundreds of small pledges, I suspect that it may be more effective to focus attention on a broader cause, and to let an interested core community decide how the pooled resources can be used in service of that cause — especially if you have some credibility from prior endeavors. Campaigns like “Let’s create a world-class open source game” or “Let’s massively improve the state of open source drivers for graphics hardware”, if backed by a credible non-profit organization like the FSF, might motivate many people to give without requiring individual donors to think too much about every single step it takes to achieve the larger goal.

A real-world example of this model is Project Peach, an open source / free content 3D animated movie project by the good folks behind Blender. People who want to see the film done can pre-order the DVD; those who want to get involved in the details are also encouraged to do so. Having already successfully produced one open source movie, Elephants Dream, the Blender folks have the credibility to pull it off again. My only criticism of the project is that it does not seem to aim significantly higher than the previous one.

That said, the Micropledge model might still work very well for solving very specific problems that would never be addressed under the umbrella of a larger initiative, provided that the instigator of a pledge manages to network with those who have the same problem.

Interesting historical perspective: An Economy for Giving Everything Away.

Piqs: CC-BY Photo Repository

Bryan Tong Minh points out that his cool Flickr/Wikimedia Commons Upload Tool now also supports Piqs , which is a database of CC-BY licensed photographs. It’s really good to see the proliferation of free content licenses as a default for user uploads.

Wikipedia’s core problem is not expertise, it’s self-selection

Bringing Wikipedia articles up to a quality standard we can be proud of will require more than just “stable versions” (frozen revisions that community members claim to be of a given quality standard). Take the article on Mitt Romney, one of the many people hoping to become the next president of the United States. The article describes Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts with the following words:

Romney was sworn in as the 70th governor of Massachusetts on January 2, 2003, along with Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey. Within one year of taking office, Romney eliminated a 3 billion dollar budget deficit. During this time he did not raise taxes or debt. He also proceeded to end his term with a 1 billion dollar surplus as well as lower taxes and a lower unemployment rate.

All this information is properly referenced and sourced to … Romney for President, Inc. Of course, the article will eventually become more sane, but this is the state it’s been in for weeks, and this is what we currently serve readers looking for information about this particular candidate. And it’s quite likely that such a revision would at least have been approved as “non-vandalized” under a stable version system.

Yet, is the answer to give up on the idea of radically open editing? The source of the problem here seems to be not so much that “anyone can edit”, but that the people who do edit are self-selected. And for many topics, self-selection leads to bias. Whether it’s Mormons writing about Mormonism, Pokemon lovers writing about Pokemon characters, or teenage Mitt Romney supporters writing about Mitt Romney, the problem shows up on thousands of topics. Sometimes different self-selected factions counter each other’s bias, but that is obviously not something one can rely on, especially when one faction wins a particular war of attrition.

Putting stronger emphasis on professional expertise will not address this problem, and indeed, one will find examples of the same self-selection bias in more expert-driven communities like Citizendium (e.g. an article on chiropractic largely written by a chiropractor). All one can hope for from self-selected experts is that their bias is more intelligently disguised. Are volunteer communities doomed to self-selection bias? Well, dealing with the problem requires first recognizing it as such. And currently recognition of the problem on Wikipedia is very limited. Indeed, suggestions of self-selection bias are usually countered with replies such as “judge the article, not the authors”, often followed by reference to the “no personal attacks” policy. Outside clear commercial interests, Wikipedians are ill-prepared to deal with their own bias.

It also seems clear that a broad recusal & disclosure policy that would extend the current “conflict of interest” guidelines would go too far. Firstly, it would simply lead to much self-selection bias being hidden from view: The editor promoting Romney’s campaign on MySpace would simply remove the reference to that MySpace page from their userpage. Secondly, biased or not, self-selected editors will often be the best-informed about a particular subject. Rather than trying to remove them from the set of editors working on a particular article, it generally seems wiser to broaden the set to include more independent voices.

I believe we need to think of this as a socio-technical problem: How do we get a large number of relatively random, but highly trusted contributors to carefully look at a particular article and to scan for bias? Clearly, NPOV dispute tags aren’t sufficient: POV fighters will have an interest in removing them as soon as possible, and given the sheer number of them, they no long serve as sufficient motivation for the average editor. Furthermore, the articles which people choose to “fix” are again highly self-selected.

As just one possible alternative, imagine that some trusted (elected?) group of users could flag articles for “bias review”. They would set a number of people from 10 to 100 who would be randomly selected from the pool of active editors. Those people would get a note: “The article XY has been flagged for bias review. You have been randomly selected as a reviewer. Do you accept?” If the user does not accept, the review notice would automatically be propagated to another random user. In combination with stable quality versions, this could help to get many independent voices to look for obvious signs of bias. One might also consider encouraging the development of article forks by separate workgroups, and letting readers decide (by discussion or vote) which one is the least biased.

Do you have other ideas? Whatever the solution, I do believe that we need to start thinking seriously about the problem if we want Wikipedia to be useful in any area of “contested knowledge”. And we need to start experimenting, rather than waiting endlessly for a consensus that will never come. Right now, thousands of contested articles are dominated by factions fighting POV wars of attrition. That cannot be the final answer.

Wikimedia Board Election 2007 – The Last Hours

As many of you know, three seats on the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees are up for re-election. The polls will close in about 6 hours. I was elected last year to replace Angela Beesley mid-term, so my term lasted only 9 months. I’ve written a summary of my experience here; my main candidate statement is here. I would like to continue the work I have started and would appreciate your support. I have also endorsed Kat Walsh and Oscar van Dillen, whose seats are also up for re-election; I would be honored to continue to serve alongside them.

Whether you support me and the other incumbents or not, I would also like you to consider voting for the following people (you can vote for as many people as you like):

  • Kim Bruning – a biologist and software programmer with strong experience as a community mediator and analyst. Full disclosure: I am working with Kim on the OmegaWiki project. This has also allowed me to get to know him personally and understand the way he thinks; while I found his candidate statement this year somewhat weak, I would encourage you to specifically take a look at his Q&A page. If you want someone on the Board who cares deeply about the community and who is likely to bring innovation and change, please consider voting for Kim.
  • Michael Snow – a lawyer and long-time Wikipedian who started the Wikipedia Signpost and chairs the Communications Committee. He has worked directly with the Board on many occasions and would complement the Board’s skills well with his own. He will take clear positions but defend them in a calm and reasonable fashion. If you want less wiki-drama and more legal expertise on the Board-level, consider voting for Michael.
  • Steve Dunlop (UninvitedCompany) – a manager and musician who also stood in last year’s election. His frustration with progress in WMF and the state of the organization shine through his presentation and Q&A; I think the general direction he recommends is the right one, but his views are colored by an unavoidable information deficit. I disagree with his belief that projects like Wikisource and Wikinews should be “spun off” into separate organizations and consider his views on non-profit governance a little too traditionalist; at the same time, I would value this additional voice at the Board table. If you want someone who will shake things up a little and push for structural and organizational changes, consider voting for Steve.
  • Yann Forget – a free software advocate who has worked in progressive non-profits for more than a decade. I have not a shred of doubt about his passion, honesty and integrity. Those who want someone with deep community roots and a strong commitment to progressive values on the Board who will speak his mind openly should consider voting for Yann.

These are the candidates I feel comfortable supporting; I will not comment on the remaining ones. If you are qualified to vote and haven’t done so, please log into your “home Wikimedia project” and visit the “Special:Boardvote” page that should be linked from the sitenotice.


Gapminder is a highly useful tool for visualizing and analyzing human development statistics.