Wikipedia:Village pump (WMF)

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The WMF section of the village pump is a community-managed page. Editors or Wikimedia Foundation staff may post and discuss information, proposals, feedback requests, or other matters of significance to both the community and the foundation. It is intended to aid communication, understanding, and coordination between the community and the foundation, though Wikimedia Foundation currently does not consider this page to be a communication venue.

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Meetings about misinformation with FBI, CISA, etc..Edit

Re: https://theintercept.com/2022/10/31/social-media-disinformation-dhs/ Are there centralized contribution pages regarding changes made that were requested by these organizations, or are any changes made by uncollated accounts? -- Jeandré, 2022-11-02t16:25z

The report says that someone from Wikipedia (which I interpret to mean WMF) spoke to US government organizations about how Wikipedia addresses misinformation. It doesn't say that any changes were made to Wikipedia. Thebiguglyalien (talk) 19:00, 2 November 2022 (UTC)
Pinging user @Jeandré:. But as TBUA said, CISA didn't ask for any edits at all from the WMF, and the WMF in turn hasn't made any disinformation edits. Intercept (who I normally like) had a rather poor article here. As well as asking how we address misinformation, the meetings also were things like "we think X might be trying to add disinformation, you guys should be aware" rather than "Remove edits a, b, c to get rid of this disinformation". Nosebagbear (talk) 10:18, 3 November 2022 (UTC)
I recall that the Wikimedia Foundation's job ads for Disinformation specialists which started to spring up around 2020 ask for Arabic, Russian and Persian language skills (example; apparently, fighting ISIS is also part of the remit). What would interest me to know is how, to what extent and through which kinds of mechanisms WMF work in this field impacts content.
As far as I am aware, the WMF never volunteered the information that it collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security. "Government agencies" were mentioned, yes, but that is a rather unspecific term. (Corrections welcome; maybe I overlooked a disclosure somewhere.) All of this makes it very clear that Wikipedia is a U.S. project. At least I am not aware of the WMF collaborating with any other country's government in a similar way.
See also ongoing related discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Wikipedia_Signpost/2022-08-31/In_the_media#Foundation_help_with_disinformation, where HaeB mentioned a lo-o-o-ong but notable Techdirt critique of the Intercept article. Andreas JN466 11:13, 3 November 2022 (UTC)
In France, big websites should write a report about fake news every year (Report of 2021). It's done by WMF (+ me and a staff member of Wikimédia France if it's more informal meetings). Pyb (talk) 21:37, 3 November 2022 (UTC)
Thanks, interesting. Regards, Andreas JN466 00:26, 4 November 2022 (UTC)
The WMF has also worked regarding disinformation regarding Indian and Iranian elections, and this work is not limited to the English Wikipedia (e.g. the main target of many disinformation actors relating to Iran is likely to be the Farsi Wikipedia) which is why they recruited people with knowledge of those languages. Thryduulf (talk) 10:28, 4 November 2022 (UTC)
I take it this work was coordinated with the U.S. government rather than the Indian and Iranian governments? Andreas JN466 16:28, 4 November 2022 (UTC)
It doesn't have to have been coordinated with anyone. WMF can have decided, on its own, that deliberately using Wikipedias (of any language) to spread misinformation is counter to its mission, and then it can decide, all by itself, to hire people that can help them do so. I have no idea if this is what they did, but I also didn't jump to any conclusions that they were coerced to do so or coordinated with any government to do so. The best answer is usually the one that involves the least assumptions. --Jayron32 18:12, 4 November 2022 (UTC)
I would further add that while the WMF is headquartered in the US (and, more specifically, is incorporated in the state of Florida), it operates as a Non-governmental organization, not beholden to any government. I see no indication that the WMF would allow itself to be seen as under the influence or control of any government. Fighting misinformation arises out of the second of the five pillars, and is independent of the agenda of any government. - Donald Albury 19:22, 4 November 2022 (UTC)
I think Wikipedia:Verifiable but not false should be raised to the status of a guideline. At the moment the second pillar says "verifiable accuracy" but points only to verifiability. Hawkeye7 (discuss) 19:36, 4 November 2022 (UTC)
I simply commented on the coincidence that for about twenty years, the WMF never hired any Disinformation specialists. But just around the time the meetings with the DHS started, it placed multiple job ads for Disinformation specialists speaking the various foreign languages mentioned.
Certainly, it could be completely unrelated and a complete coincidence, but it doesn't seem very likely to me. Andreas JN466 20:04, 4 November 2022 (UTC)
Looking back at the earliest Functionaries emails I have saved that mention disinformation, it seems it was a minor incident during the 2020 US election campaign that made the WMF sit up and take notice. It is very clear that the initiative to learn from the incident and get processes etc in place was the WMF's own.
It seems very plausible the US government's interest originates from the same event, but this is speculation on my part.
Sorry for being vague, but the details are in document marked "Private and confidential - not for distribution" so I obviously have to be very careful what I say. It was primarily handled by Oversight and stewards and there wasn't an ANI thread or similar. Thryduulf (talk) 13:30, 5 November 2022 (UTC)
Thanks, Thryduulf, I appreciate it. Was that the case described in the document shown on the right?
I still have a hard time seeing how this would have naturally segued into a specific interest in Indian and Iranian elections, as well as Arabic and Russian. That seems far more aligned with U.S. foreign policy interests. Regards, --Andreas JN466 13:57, 5 November 2022 (UTC)
The community has had to deal with attempts by (possibly government supported or aligned) groups trying to control content in various language Wikipedias for a while, now. Simply trying to maintain the neutrality of all language Wikipedias should be enough to explain a desire to fight disinformation with more formal tools. - Donald Albury 14:11, 5 November 2022 (UTC)
It's the coincidental timing and terminology. The WMF left the Croatian Wikipedia in the hands of right-wing extremists for a decade, despite community outcry ... now the belated WMF intervention in that project is held up as the first example of the Disinformation effort in the context of the WMF m:Human rights impact assessment, which is a project run by User:RGaines (WMF), who says on his user page, Prior to joining the Wikimedia Foundation, I worked at the US Department of State leading a portfolio of foreign assistance programs. Andreas JN466 15:08, 5 November 2022 (UTC)
Speaking of government alignment, I recall that as far back as 2012, Hillary Clinton sent Richard Boly to Wikimania. Boly was then in charge of "an ambitious State Department initiative that uses social media and online platforms to change the way employees communicate and reach outside their boundaries to advance U.S. foreign policy interests.
There is a video of his Wikimania address on YouTube. The whole thing was part of a [email protected]: "Wiki.Gov" initiative. (More about this here.)
So I have some sympathy for people living outside the U.S. harbouring suspicions that Wikipedia is essentially aligned with, or infiltrated by, the U.S. government.
I love the U.S. but I'd much rather see Wikipedia clearly aligned with the U.N. than aligned with any national interest. I think it is more compatible with the NPOV idea and would enable Wikipedia to make a more effective contribution to international understanding. Andreas JN466 15:27, 6 November 2022 (UTC)

On this topic, see Slate article published today: No, Wikipedia Is Not Colluding With DHS --Andreas JN466 22:48, 21 November 2022 (UTC)

Opening this topic up again, on a broader level in some ways, and much narrower in others.
Firstly addressing some of the above the CIA asking what is done to prevent x or y, is not the same as them saying we do x, y and z. Highlighting the issue and actively trying to counter them are two separate things, the Intercept article, probably gave as much detail as they knew and the sources would not give specific examples as then actors would know they may be compromised.
Next, I agree with most of the above and in these times there are 6 or more States (Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, India and Pakistan) that may want to or are already actively engaged in or pursuing such activities. The counter is wiki is heavily populated with western editors that can reverse most of the blatant propaganda.
However, the clever Russian web brigades are not necessarily blatant, and I believe are active today on wiki en and possibly other wiki's, using standard Russian political techniques of telling verifiable truth e.g. the partial truth, obfuscations (e.g. mixing NPOV, verifiability with propaganda even if on a otherwise RS, a deliberate confusion over contentious and controversial, one needs great sourcing, the other should have as well but not so much and can be tagged with a cn tag, the other conflicts with your view), brigade level tactic i.e. many editors agree or oppose as required certain items, removal of content when a cn tag is much more appropriate or additions and much more.
So, to the crux of my post, have we implemented any direct counter or mitigation to this type of activity, whether US, Russia or even little ol NZ (I know we are actively trying to influence), identifying and restricting these accounts in some manner, possibly with some subtly, such as tasking good users to report them, conducting a review and blocking for a week, restricting topics they can edit and see if they disappear, checking locations or VPN use, verifying the same, rechecking SHA, double checking edits for suspicious locations or VPN etc, obviously I have not covered even 10% of possible mitigation or identification methods of such actors and any methodology to combat should probably not be revealed in any public forum, however, at this time I cannot see any and there are far to numerous to mention Russian, Ukrainian and other articles going into various disputes on the talk pages where the tactics above are prevelant. Thoughts2404:4408:638C:5E00:7527:D2E8:A117:F6A (talk) 00:23, 4 December 2022 (UTC)

Procedures on test accountsEdit

Following an extended discussion on this board in August, the foundation has finalized and posted new policy. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 17:14, 11 November 2022 (UTC)

That's a very positive outcome, the policy looks solid... and short, and clear, which is much appreciated :-) Levivich (talk) 19:30, 15 November 2022 (UTC)

AnnouncementsEdit

WP:VPM has new WMF announcements about fundraising banners and committee opportunities. Rather than repeat such items, I suggest that editors interested in future news watchlist WP:VPM. Certes (talk) 13:55, 14 November 2022 (UTC)

Community wishlist survey every two yearsEdit

Another announcement, just in via Tech News: Starting in January 2023, Community Tech will be running the Community Wishlist Survey (CWS) every two years. This means that in 2024, there will be no new proposals or voting. Time to take things into our own hands? Certes (talk) 23:29, 14 November 2022 (UTC)

I'm rarely openly critical of the WMF, but the CWS announcement concerns me. As I understand it, the gist of the announcement was "We don't have enough staff to keep up with the requests, so we're taking action to reduce the number of requests we get". I would have hoped they would do the opposite, i.e. increase the number of staff allocated to the work. There's a note from @DannyH (WMF): at meta:Community Wishlist Survey/Updates/2023 Changes Update that they are "taking this announcement down". It's not clear if that means they've changed their mind, or that they just want to rephrase things. Danny, could you clarify the intent for us? Thanks. -- RoySmith (talk) 15:52, 15 November 2022 (UTC)
Well, given that the community itself had criticized the WMF earlier for holding a new CWS while the wishes from the last remained unfulfilled, the move seems logical. – SD0001 (talk) 18:54, 15 November 2022 (UTC)
I think the criticism was that wishes remained unfulfilled a year later, rather that the annual CWS continued. Certes (talk) 18:58, 15 November 2022 (UTC)
Hi all — I understand that the initial announcement and then taking it down has caused some confusion. Our intention with the Community Wishlist Survey moving to a two-year cadence was so that the team can take on more complex wishes. However, I understand the concerns with this approach, and our goal is not to reduce the number of requests we get, or the chances for input. We haven't made a final decision regarding changes to the timing of the CWS, and we hear and will take all of these concerns into account. Let me know if you have questions. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 23:58, 16 November 2022 (UTC)
I will also state, that this would be a terrible decision. You are doing team driven management of the problem here, instead of goal driven. I understand that the team needs more time for some of these projects, in part because they have to do more with less and because some of the asks have become more complex. But considering how many times I and others have stated (including in meetings attended by senior wmf management) that the foundation's whole problem is that they should do MORE little stuff for the editing community, more polishing, more bug fixing and especially be more responsive, a two year cadence leaves a terrible gap. A gap that the community tech team was founded to fill in the first place. Back to the drawing board. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 10:41, 22 November 2022 (UTC)
I too was concerned by this announcement. I'd like to see enough resources provided to the community tech team to hold the wishlist more often, not less often. With a good amount of devs, an ideal cadence to hold the wishlist might be every six months. It's important to shorten that feedback loop between requesting software and receiving software.
I honestly think there is huge potential to improve community relations by increasing the size of the community tech team, so that they can do the wishlist more often and deliver more wishes. WMF sometimes works on abstract software and ideas (e.g. Wikimedia Enterprise, Knowledge Equity Fund, etc.), and some volunteers don't feel that volunteers tangibly benefit from these. The wishlist is something that volunteers do directly and tangibly benefit from. The wishlist puts volunteers in the driver's seat. It deserves WMF upper management's full attention.
I'll step off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening. –Novem Linguae (talk) 02:21, 17 November 2022 (UTC)
@Novem Linguae and DannyH (WMF): combining these views, perhaps splitting the wish list into small requests held every ~6-12 months and large requests held every ~12-24 months would be worth discussing (if feasible)? It's not always easy for non-technical users to know the scale of the requests though, so ideally each request would be responded to with a back-of-the-envelope outline of how much work would be involved in implementing it, and whether any teams (e.g. legal, trust & safety, etc) would/might need to sign off on it. Thryduulf (talk) 04:37, 17 November 2022 (UTC)
You are not aware Thryduulf, that Novem Linguae and others are highy competent with MediaWiki and can run rings around most of the salaried engineers. We already costed out the need for engineering for the NPP and newbie onboarding issues that were discussed. NL alone has already done 1,000s of $$ worth of work for free for the WMF. He churns out his patches in days and then has to wait for for weeks for the code reviews. Our volunteers are not the WMF's galley slaves. Either employ him as a contractor and give him +2 or hire other staff; either way it's going to cost money, but not a lot, and the Foundation is swimming in so much cash they are looking for any ways of spending it or even giving it away - except on required development. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 05:35, 17 November 2022 (UTC)
Whether that is true or not, that is completely irrelevant to my suggestion. Thryduulf (talk) 10:31, 17 November 2022 (UTC)
So the WMF budget continues to skyrocket and yet the CWS is running less often now? Classic WMF. WP:CANCERpythoncoder (talk | contribs) 02:50, 17 November 2022 (UTC)
  • I am very concerned about these recent statements from DannyH (WMF) especially as he sat in on a video conference between members of the volunteer communities and very senior staff barely two weeks ago. The meeting was essentially about increasing the engineering workforce. The community was however again met with many vague excuses as to why this 'apparently' can't be done despite a huge glut of funds. With most of the traditional encyclopedic topics already covered and under continual updating by regular gnomes, growth is probably at a sustainable level already and hardly any of the new articles arriving are important or urgent material. Expenditure on costly 'Growth' experiments to recruit and retain more editors are not a priority for software development, nor have they been requested by the Wikipedias. Now the WMF wants to cut back the support for the communities even more. I find this highly disturbing in the wake of that very recent meeting.
It will certainly now not encourage the volunteers to continue to do the WMF's development and repair work for free, or even think out of the box for new ideas as they have been doing recently. Instead, even patches and minor features developed by Wikipedians are being rejected for code review at Phabricator which now appears to adopt a stance of gatekeeper for policy and the purse. It does indeed look as if the WMF is determined to exasperate the volunteers even more. The community vs WMF relations are once again at a very low ebb and it's a question how long the volunteers will continue to tolerate this before making a drastic stand. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 05:20, 17 November 2022 (UTC)

This reduction of output is particularly frustrating in light of meta:Community_Wishlist_Survey_2022/Larger_suggestions#1%. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 05:41, 17 November 2022 (UTC)

  • My occasionally pragmatic self does have to wonder and go "the WMF is shortly going to have to decide what to do about the RfC over at VPR on fundraising banners. Even amongst those who oppose deleting the banners, are hardly enthralled with them (a category including myself). Is everyone just too nervous to phrase it as messily as "buy the community" [A better phrasing would be interim community-driven, but not dominated, expenditure]. If, for every $ the WMF would like to spend on the equity fund, they put $5 extra into a second Wishlist team (with the first team's budget increasing at least in line with inflation), I imagine complaints will reduce. Regarding Kudpung's comments, some of which is accurate, and some of which is not, I have to specifically call out his comments on the Growth (retention) work as inaccurate. Both in terms of the specific projects being unwanted and the focus on them as the proximate cause of the dearth of desired expenditure seem unwarranted. Nosebagbear (talk) 15:55, 17 November 2022 (UTC)

Does anyone know the positions of our representatives on the board, on this issue? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 16:12, 17 November 2022 (UTC)

That's a good question but any views they hold would be ignored. A fundamental problem is the disconnect between the elite who have taken over the WMF and the noisy members of the bazaar who do the work. The only way to bridge that would be for the community to conduct a large discussion to produce a short statement of the problem (insufficient maintenance resources) and a proposed solution (more developers). Then representatives would politely draw the attention of the WMF to our humble request. Then escalate through the media. We need to acknowledge that the wishlist process has major problems in that shiny glitz gets more votes than, for example, anti-spam tools. That also needs to be addressed. Johnuniq (talk) 00:12, 18 November 2022 (UTC)

So this might sound a bit stupid, but the CommTech team has not been reduced or they are not working on other things in the missing year. This means the output won't change so it's not a redaction in resources (they are going to be paid the same, they are not taking extra vacations, their focus won't shift, etc.). It's just instead of doing top 5 wishes every year, they are gonna get to top 10 every two years (maybe 11 since they don't have the overhead of running an extra survey). Don't get me wrong, I'm all for increasing the resources for the community and I have been advocating for it, maybe we can have two teams, etc. But this is not a redaction IMHO. That being said, I think in technical spaces, commtech shouldn't be the only way community have a say on what needs to be done. CommTech's mandate is to fix specific technical problems. That's important but not all community should tell WMF. For example, the community should be able to tell WMF to work on multimedia for a while, to work on NPP for a while, and there is no way to do that. And it's a massive problem, I agree but I don't think it's solvable through CommTech. Ladsgroupoverleg 03:14, 24 November 2022 (UTC)

Missing option on "please donate" banner - "no, and don't ask again"Edit

I just look something up on Wikipedia on my work machine (in Australia), where I am not logged in, and see a banner asking me to donate money. It's annoying of course, but making it even more annoying are the specific options I can click on:

  • "I already donated" (I haven't),
  • [select donation type, amount, method then] "Continue" (which I don't want to do)
  • "Maybe later" (no, I'm not going to change my mind next time you nag me)

Please add a link "No, and don't ask me again".

For the record, I actually would be happy to donate some money (in addition to my time) if I could do so without giving you my e-mail address. Surely it's not too hard to just display the receipt in the browser for me to print or save. Mitch Ames (talk) 01:53, 30 November 2022 (UTC)

I use the "Don't ask me again" option here, but I'd rather not have to. The assumption that everyone wants to donate either "now" or "later" is the height of arrogance. To be fair, implementing an option not to ask again may require collecting more user data then either you or Wikipedia might like, unless a cookie on your current device would be acceptable. Certes (talk) 11:55, 30 November 2022 (UTC)
I'm no expert, but the only ways of tracking who doesn't want to be asked again would be cookies, tracking the IP address or a flag on/against your account name and none are perfect. Cookies could only work per device and would be time limited (GDOR apparently recommends 12 months, Chrome allows a maximum of 400 days; asking once per year doesn't seem unreasonable to me though). IP addresses would have issues of both false positives and false negatives and would be particularly unreliable for those on highly dynamic ranges (I also don't know if its compatible with the Foundation's non-public data policy). A flag on your account would obviously only work for logged in users (and would be per account not per person, but again this seems perfectly reasonable to me), however it would likely require a change to the software that would need to be signed off by multiple teams (including for compliance with the privacy policy) so it seems very unlikely this could be practically implemented this year even if it is seen as the desirable option. Thryduulf (talk) 13:21, 30 November 2022 (UTC)
A cookie would be reasonable under the circumstances (assuming that they are going to display the banner at all). It's the principle of asking and then not allowing "no, never" as an answer that irks me. Mitch Ames (talk) 14:00, 30 November 2022 (UTC)
I'm not certain I'd want such an answer box, honestly. I'm reminded of all the nag-boxes that Microsoft throws at you when you try to install any Internet browser other than Microsoft Edge. Why give them an opportunity to say "please reconsider" if you say "no, never"? I like Certes's idea better. 🌈WaltCip-(talk) 19:58, 30 November 2022 (UTC)
Thank you for your message Mitch Ames, you can find more details on other ways to give here.
Additionally you can hide the donation banners. They are designed to show to readers that have enabled cookies on their browser, and to hide after the banner is shown a few times or after a donation. Hiding, however, depends upon a cookie that we insert in the browser. Banner hiding won't work if you clear your browser's cache, delete cookies, or change browsers or computers. There are several options available to you to hide the fundraising banners in the future:
  • If you click on the 'already donated' button, or the X in the corner of our banner (or No thanks/Close on a banner on a mobile device), it will hide for one week;
  • If you donated, the ‘Thank You' page will give the a browser cookie. You can revisit the page for a chance to reinsert the cookie. If you read Wikipedia on multiple devices, please visit this page on each of them to suppress the banners.
Best, JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 07:45, 1 December 2022 (UTC)
Perhaps instead of showing me all the hoops and the order in which I am required to jump through them, WMF might consider just making it simple and reader-friendly.
  • Add a "no, and don't ask me again" button to the banner
  • Do not make the e-mail field mandatory
Mitch Ames (talk) 08:17, 1 December 2022 (UTC)

WMF-Enwiki Communication VenueEdit

One of the issues in the Enwiki-WMF relationship is the lack of communication. A step towards addressing this would be to make this page a formal communication venue, which would require the WMF to commit to posting all communications here, as well as to monitor this page for communications from Enwiki and respond as appropriate.

Requesting this is difficult, because as far as I am aware there is neither a venue to make such a request in nor a contact person to make such a request to, and so instead I am floating the idea here. BilledMammal (talk) 22:15, 5 December 2022 (UTC)

Just on the note of whom to contact, your best bet is probably community relations? As always, happy to poke people or ask the question internally — TheresNoTime (talk • they/them) 22:41, 5 December 2022 (UTC)
Good idea to centralize enwiki-WMF communications here. It'd be good to get a commitment from key people to try to post WMF related correspondence here, instead of at the other Village Pumps. I feel that Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)#RfC on the banners for the December 2022 fundraising campaign, Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous)#Banners and changes at the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous)#Join the Movement Charter Regional Conversation Hours, Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous)/Archive 72#WMF English fundraising campaign update and example banners should have been posted here instead. I also feel it's very important for the WMF to advertise important things going on on metawiki here, so that enwiki is able to participate and doesn't end up out of the loop. Could we perhaps get a notice and/or editnotice placed on WP:VPM stating that WMF related communications should go here instead? –Novem Linguae (talk) 22:43, 5 December 2022 (UTC)
Per my comments on the talk page earlier this year I don't think this board should be the place. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 23:10, 5 December 2022 (UTC)
There should be one place, even if it's for a one-line "There is an announcement about Foo at WP:BAR#Foo". This page is an obvious place, and I've been posting such signposts here, but somewhere else would work as long as everyone is (literally) on the same page. Certes (talk) 10:10, 6 December 2022 (UTC)