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What we've got here is failure to communicate (some mobile editors you just can't reach)[edit]

Summary of overall issues: User:Suffusion of Yellow/Mobile communication bugs ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 03:08, 21 March 2021 (UTC)

Over a year ago, I reported two problems to the WMF:

(1) Logged-in mobile web editors are not given a very strong indication that they have new messages. There's just a little number in a red circle. It's similar to what many other sites use for "Exciting! New! Offers!" and other garbage. There's nothing to say "A human being wants to talk to you."

(2) Mobile web IP editors are given no indication at all that they have new messages. Nothing. Every template warning, every carefully thought out personal message, and everything else just disappears into a black hole, unless the user stumbles across their talk page by accident, or switches to the desktop interface.

But I get it. Bugs happen. They can be fixed. Instead both problems were marked as a "low" priority.

This is baffling. Problem 1 is a serious issue. Problem 2 is utterly unacceptable.

We are yelling at users (or even dragging them to WP:ANI) for "ignoring" our messages that they have no idea exist. We are expecting them learn without any communication all sorts of rules from WP:V to WP:3RR to WP:MOS that don't even apply to most other sites on the web.

Until they get blocked, of course. What a terrible experience. How are we supposed to gain new users when their very first interaction with a human is being told to f--- off, for "ignoring" a message they didn't even know about?

WMF, please explain to this community why this is a "low" priority. One year is long enough. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 22:55, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

I'll just note that a majority of our users are accessing us on mobile so this isn't a niche problem either. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 23:26, 16 February 2021 (UTC)
Wow. Neglected high-priority phabricator tickets are nothing new, but this is another level. Jimbo Wales, this deserves your attention. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 08:11, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
I would like to point out that the majority of messages left to IPs will never reach the user in question anyways, ESPECIALLY on mobile connections. Due to shared ips, the chance of someone else viewing the message before the person you are trying to reach is probably about 50/50. I realise that sometimes leaving a message is effective, but there are serious questions about all the cases where it is simply leaving a very confusing and often aggressively toned message to a completely different user just randomly reading an article at the busstop a month later. What we really need is a completely new way to leave messages to anonymous users. Possibly with some sort of very short lived session or something. But as ip users are more or less stateless (the software concept) right now, that is probably hard to implement. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 09:26, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
@TheDJ: I would have no objection to expiring the OBOD if the talk page isn't clicked in a few days. Many messages come only a few minutes after the user makes the edit; most mobile carriers aren't that dynamic. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 17:14, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
Equally baffling is that mobile app users do not see any notifications, including no talk page notifications, logged in or out. The link to talk is buried within the settings. Official mobile apps! They don't even see block messages! See T263943 and others. This block review and also this discussion where an editor also tested block messages. The editor was blocked multiple times for something that was not their fault but that of a poorly thought out app. They are not alone. Quote from phab task: Conclusion: Using the app is like being inside a bubble, without contacts with the exterior. It's no wonder there's so much people complaining here that using the app caused their Wikipedia account to be blocked, for reasons they don't understand. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 09:33, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
I have filed T275117 and T275118. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 10:22, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
I'm always surprised that anyone manages to edit with the mobile interface. As another example, if you're not logged in, there is no way to access the talk page of an article, or even any indication that it exists. If an unregistered user makes an edit and is reverted with a common summary like "see talk", I imagine many will have no idea what's going on. – Joe (talk) 09:39, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
The mobile web, and mobile apps, appear to be designed for readers and not writers. Having used mobile web occasionally, I think it's usable for logged in editing, but I do have to switch to desktop every now and then. I've used the iOS app only for a test - it is not usable for editing imo. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 09:55, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
The number of edits I have made with the mobile web or app interface is most likely less than 50 (out of 13,000). Even for reading, the mobile interface is borderline unusable. I do frequently edit from my 4-inch cell phone screen (in fact, I'm doing that right now)... but I use the desktop version. —pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 14:04, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
I agree with Joe and have always found Cullen328 to be a bit of a superhero for being who he is on a mobile device. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 18:19, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words, Barkeep49, but I simply use the fully functional desktop site on my Android smartphone. It's easy. If I was the king of the Wikimedia Foundation, I would shut down the mobile site and apps, because they are an ongoing impediment to serious editing. RoySmith, there is no need to invest more effort (money) on a good editing interface for mobile, because that interface already exists - the desktop site. Just change its name from desktop to universal or something, and the problem will be solved.Cullen328 Let's discuss it 18:34, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • In some parts of the world, laptops and desktops are common, and people's phones are their second screen. In an environment like that, yes, it makes sense for mobile devices to be thought of as a read-mostly interface. On the other hand, in other parts of the world (particularly India in the context of English language users), mobile is how people access the internet.[1] There's no doubt that building a good editing interface for mobile is a hard thing, but we should be investing more effort there. Poor mobile editing tools disenfranchises a large segment of the world's population. -- RoySmith (talk) 14:41, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • @Suffusion of Yellow: Thank you for basically expressing exactly the same problem I wanted to. I have blocked a few editors who seem to be editing in good faith but just don't communicate, which eventually end up at ANI and after much agonising, get hit with as friendly a WP:ICANTHEARYOU block as we can muster. In the last instance, Mdd97 (talk · contribs), I specifically made a custom block template that said "CLICK HERE TO READ YOUR MESSAGES" in a way that they surely couldn't miss .... but again, following the block they've not edited again. We have to get to the bottom of this; if it's got to the stage where I've got to block people and the root cause is a software fault, it needs to be fixed. Surely the WMF can't be happy that I've needed to issue blocks on good-faith editors in this manner. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 16:10, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • To address a reaction some might have, yes, the vast majority of users on mobile are readers, not editors, and no, I wouldn't want the community totally in charge of redesigning the mobile interface, since we'd end up with the phenomenon we have at desktop where e.g. the tools section of the sidebar is visible to every user on every page despite it being of zero use to 99.9% of them. But this request is not just editor-centrism; it applies to users who have already edited and who badly need a notification to help them not get lost. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 18:55, 18 February 2021 (UTC)
  • I think the mw:Talk pages project, especially now that they are beginning to work on subscribing to notifications for talk page sections, could be interested in this discussion. Pinging User:PPelberg (WMF) and User:Whatamidoing (WMF). It also touches on UCoC Enforcement, highlighting that there needs to be funding for software dev. in addition to other measures. Pinging User:SPoore (WMF) and User:BChoo (WMF) for want of knowing who to contact regarding Phase 2. Pelagicmessages ) – (09:51 Sat 20, AEDT) 22:51, 19 February 2021 (UTC) ... Adding User:Xeno (WMF) after seeing section above. Pelagicmessages ) – (09:55 Sat 20, AEDT) 22:55, 19 February 2021 (UTC)
    Pelagic: Thank you for the ping and highlighting how this is a related need for my current project. I've been following this thread and will be including the comments (and phabricator links - thank you for those!) in my work categorized under important requests for additional human or technical resources to assist with on-wiki workflows. Xeno (WMF) (talk) 15:02, 14 March 2021 (UTC)

Question - Is this something that could be cured by bringing back the "Orange Bar of Death"? Mjroots (talk) 16:31, 22 February 2021 (UTC)

@Mjroots: the orange bar of death never went away. Last I check, it's still there for non mobile IP editors. That's why they get an indication of new messages. AFAIK, it was never there for the mobile web editor, that's probably part of the problem. Nil Einne (talk) 03:06, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
What no one has ever told me is why it was left out in the first place. Was it a simple oversight? Did someone have such a little understanding of how the sites work that they thought communication was unnecessary? Some other reason, that I'm not thinking of? This is the most confusing part. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 17:14, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
I wish it could be brought back for all editors. Looks like bringing it in for IPs on mobiles could be the cure here. Mjroots (talk) 18:40, 23 February 2021 (UTC)
This is alarming but not surprising. Since I do a lot of question answering at the Teahouse, I'll point out a random IP's post from yesterday, in the same vein as some of the sentiments noted above: "Also, why don’t they get rid of the mobile view? So terrible!".--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 00:29, 24 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Does anyone with a (WMF) account plan on commenting in this thread? Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 17:21, 8 March 2021 (UTC)
    Don't hold your breath. For most WMF employees, commenting on Wikipedia using a WMF account is a quick way to get yourself fired. You might, if you make enough noise, get a department head to respond by saying that mobile users are very important to us and we will do everything we can to address this, up to but not including doing anything differently that we are doing them now. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:39, 8 March 2021 (UTC)
    @Guy Macon: When they did the same thing with desktop IPs, it was fixed within hours of being pointed out. Serious, not rhetorical question: what's changed about WMF culture since 2013? Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 17:58, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

When you spend three times as much money without the actual job you were hired to do changing, you start to focus more on spending all of that money instead of on doing your job. When you hire a boatload of new employees when the current bunch are more that enough to do the job, those new employees find something to do, whether that something needs doing or not. I'm just saying. --Guy Macon (talk) 18:31, 8 March 2021 (UTC)

  • User:Suffusion of Yellow broadly you have two factors. Firstly there is little incentive for WMF people engage people here were they will get a bunch of people shouting that them (which is not fun). Secondly there has been a longstanding unwritten understanding that mobile is the WMF's turf while the community has more ownership of the desktop.©Geni (talk) 11:21, 11 March 2021 (UTC)
    Well, imagine this. Someone is standing on your foot. You politely ask them to move off of it. They don't. You repeat your request more loudly. They continue to ignore you. It still hurts. At some point, does shouting and shoving come into play?
    If WMF doesn't like being shouted at, well—certainly, no one does. But people do not like being ignored either, and doing so is an excellent way to get them started shouting just to be heard at all. Seraphimblade Talk to me 21:42, 14 March 2021 (UTC)
  • Action from the WMF! One two three new mobile bugs I discovered while investigating this have been triaged as "low" priority, and a fourth was lowered to "medium", after a volunteer developer had raised it to "high". All without a word of explanation. The first (unparsed spam blacklist messages) isn't a huge deal I'll agree. But why is not telling users why they're blocked or falsely telling registered users that they're blocked personally not a major concern? That's how we lose people. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 22:55, 22 March 2021 (UTC)
    • Can we locally block these apps from editing English Wikipedia? That would force the WMF to fix them. Fences&Windows 00:02, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
      @Fences and windows: Yes, this can be done with the edit filter. It could even be limited to users with no confirmed email address. But there's a catch. The apps don't properly display custom edit filter warnings, either! The iOS app just displays the title of the page where the message is stored. And the Android app doesn't display custom messages at all. The mobile web editor does display messages properly, however. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 00:10, 26 March 2021 (UTC)
      If this were a lower-priority issue, I would say we should come back in a month and see if the WMF fixed it. But this is such a glaring oversight that I feel this may be the only option if we want to fix this. Question: would this apply to just the app, or to the mobile site as well? —pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 15:06, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
      It's app only (the user_app variable in the edit filter). ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 15:12, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
    Thanks, ProcrastinatingReader. If we prepare an RfC, where would it be held? It would need advertising on cent. Fences&Windows 23:47, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
    @Fences and windows: Any RFC will need some very careful drafting first. If it fails (for any reason) the WMF could interpret the failure as "see the community doesn't really care about this issue". Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 23:51, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
    We might want to move this thread to WP:VPT; this noticeboard is not widely watched. –xenotalk 23:54, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
    I really don't want to rush into an RFC, though. There are many questions. Should we also disallow mobile IP web editors? Should we disallow edits from users with a confirmed email address? Which bugs, exactly, do we want fixed? How long do we give the WMF to fix them? This is a nuclear option. It should not be taken lightly.
    But please don't move the whole thread to VPT. It's here so it doesn't get buried in the archives. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 00:33, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
    (edit conflict) Two-question RfC maybe? Initial brainstorm - Question 1: consensus 'letter' to WMF requesting resources be allocated to promptly fix the issues. Question 2: if not done within 90 days, mobile apps blocked from editing enwiki by edit filter. Best to move this particular matter to VPI. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 00:36, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
    It has to be noted though that disallowing edits, if it comes to it, is really not great and rather bitey, as the editors will hardly have any clue what's going on due to EF messages being iffy. Maybe bugging Jimbo and/or Doc James to contact someone in engineering is a viable option? ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 00:43, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
    As I said. Nuclear. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 01:09, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
    Yes, IDEALAB is the best place (for a new thread). That will discourage any supporting and opposing until we figure just what we're asking for. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 01:09, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
    This needs caution—an overly enthusiastic RfC or proposal at WP:VPI is bound to be voted down and that would cause a lot of people to automatically vote down any future proposals of a similar nature. I'm thinking of masked IPs—any proposal to impede or block such users could easily fail if it appeared to be similar to an earlier idea to block "good faith" users who were unaware that communication was even possible, let alone required. Johnuniq (talk) 08:34, 30 March 2021 (UTC)
  • I wish I could say I was surprised by any of this but I've long assumed that something like this was the cause of numerous editors I've come across who display quite clearly that they have never seen their IP/user talk page, and simply have no idea why their edits "aren't going through" (because a human editor keeps undoing them). A thorough waste of thousands of hours of volunteer time, on both ends. There are some countries or regions in which accessing the internet is only financially possible for the everyday person via a mobile phone, so the WMF's inaction here is another built-in systemic bias which prevents some cultures from effectively contributing their knowledge and skills to Wikipedia. — Bilorv (talk) 06:51, 29 March 2021 (UTC)

  • User:Suffusion of Yellow/Mobile communication bugs seems to be an excellent overview but it would get more attention if it were on phab. I have tried to roughly copy it to which can probably be used as a parent task for all these issues. – SD0001 (talk) 15:04, 30 March 2021 (UTC)

Hi everyone, thanks for raising these issues, and documenting the problems so thoroughly. We're going to get a group of people from the Product department together next week to talk about these problems, and see what we can do about it. I'll let you know what we figure out. I appreciate you all bringing it up. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 22:17, 7 April 2021 (UTC)

Thank you, Danny! I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 19:55, 9 April 2021 (UTC)

26 April update[edit]

Hi everyone, we talked in the Product department about the issues that are being raised in this conversation.

We're currently showing notifications to logged-in editors on mobile web, which appear as a number in a red circle at the top of the page. It's the standard design on mobile that indicates that there are messages for you.

We've been reluctant to do that for IP editors on mobile web, because mobile IPs shift around so much. Desktop IPs can change as well, so there's some risk of not reaching the right person on desktop, but the risk is a lot greater for mobile. People walk around with their phones and move from one wifi or cell tower to another. We haven't wanted to show a message bar to a mobile reader who happens to be picking up the same cell tower or wifi access point as someone who made an edit a year ago.

On the apps, the Android team has released improvements to the talk page experience in February and March. Echo notifications currently exist in the Android app, and user talk pages are also discoverable through the watchlist. Users can access article talk using a dropdown menu at the top right; you can see how this works in this walkthrough gif. There are some further improvements planned, including enabling in-line replies, and building onboarding features to help people discover both the watchlist and talk pages. You can learn more, and ask the team questions, on their Android communication project page.

The iOS team is also looking at improving the talk experience on their app. They're currently in the initial design and technical planning phase for enabling Echo notifications on iOS. Later this year, they're planning to fill in some of the missing collaboration features on the app, including making editing tools and talk pages more prominent.

There are some different things to discuss here, and I'd like to know what you think. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 18:47, 26 April 2021 (UTC)

What are we doing about the block notification messages and the other edit screen notices?? —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 19:02, 26 April 2021 (UTC)
@DannyH (WMF):
  • About IP users: As myself and others have suggested, there's a solution to the "random unrelated reader" problem: Don't show the alert if the new message is over X days old. Or (if the privacy policy permits) set a cookie anytime they click "publish", and only show any new message alert to people who have edited in the past X days. Or even both. I think most people already understand that messages sent to IP users are not guaranteed to reach the user. But we do expect that when edits Foo, we leave them a message, and then an hour later edits Foo again, that they've seen our message. That's the disconnect between expectations and reality that's been bothering us. You're also making the assumption that users on mobile devices are also on mobile connections. What about the phone user on their home WiFi? That could be stable for months.
  • About logged in users: No, the red circle is not (only) the standard "you have new messages" alert. It's also the standard "we have some spammy garbage we'd like to sell you" alert. Of course experienced users know Wikipedia doesn't do that, but inexperienced ones are the people we're trying to reach. As matter of habit, I ignore similar-looking notices on unfamiliar websites.
  • About the Android app: Again, what about spam-weary users who have turned off push notifications. With no in-app alert, how are they supposed to know that there is an urgent message on their talk page?
  • About the iOS app: If users are currently in a total bubble, why enable editing at all? Why not wait until basic communication features are implemented, and keep the app read-only in the meantime?
I'm really getting the impression that the WMF thinks that user communication is an afterthought. Y'all didn't just forget one communication-related feature, you forgot most communication-related features. How did this happen in the first place? Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 20:15, 26 April 2021 (UTC)
@DannyH (WMF): Thank you for your time working on and responding to this. I recognize the difficulties in developing a good software product for the diverse projects that rely on MediaWiki software. However, I am deeply frustrated that this has been allowed to occur. Ensuring that existing community mechanisms for communicating with other editors, especially new editors, continue to function is a bare-bones requirement for any Wikimedia minimum viable product. To paraphrase Risker's related thoughts on Wikimedia software development in a different area: the intention behind a lot of this has been good, but sometimes I think engineers have no idea how our projects actually function and how significant some of these problems are. Frankly, if logged-out mobile editors don't have an interface to see messages, then the logged-out mobile interface should not contain editing functionality. Otherwise, this software is wasting many many hours a day of volunteer time tracking down and reverting and warning (not that they'll see the warnings) and blocking good faith IP users who are oblivious to community norms and this software is wasting just as much time spent by new editors trying to help out but unable to access any feedback about their editing. Best, KevinL (aka L235 · t · c) 10:01, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Let me make more explicit a position that I suspect a broad swath of the English Wikipedia community may support: If the Foundation feels that it is impractical to build a communication system to communicate with logged-out mobile editors, then logged-out mobile users should be required to log in to edit. Wikipedia is a collaborative project; we simply cannot allow users to edit without being able to communicate with them effectively. KevinL (aka L235 · t · c) 10:05, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
Absolutely, thank you for the clear description of the situation. I was thinking of going rogue and just blocking any uncommunicative user/IP after a single warning. That would avoid mega-frustration and wasted time and would focus minds on fixing the problem rather than ticking boxes for the number of new edits from new users. Johnuniq (talk) 10:23, 28 April 2021 (UTC)
@DannyH (WMF): If fixing all the issues is going to take some time, and you don't want to disable editing entirely, can you break the Android app a bit more? See this. Using that hack a message can be conveyed to iOS users but the same can't be done for Android. It shouldn't take long to make the tweak, which would at least allow a custom mechanism to communicate a message to Android editors. Perhaps directing them to login via their browser app, for example. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 03:16, 30 April 2021 (UTC)

Hi everyone, thanks for posting more thoughts. As usual, there's lots to respond to here.

It's true that the apps are late to including talk page features. That's partly because we didn't have a clear strategy for how we could improve talk pages sitewide — we knew that we wanted to improve the usability of talk pages, but the Flow project was not successful, and we knew that we needed to find a new direction. We determined that new direction with the Talk Pages Consultation in mid-2019, and then the Editing team started their Talk pages project to build tools for replying, starting new discussions and being notified when people comment in specific talk page sections. (If you haven't yet, you can turn on the new tools for replying and starting new discussions in the Beta preferences tab.)

As part of that project, the Editing team has developed the ability to break down wikitext conversations into individual comments, and all of that work is now informing the work that both the Android and iOS teams are doing to improve the talk page experience on the apps as well.

Now, one of the things that we do when a product team is working on a feature is to look at both the usage numbers and the revert rate for edits that are made using the feature. If the revert rate is higher than average, then clearly there's a problem with the feature that we need to fix.

Comparing the revert rates across desktop, mobile and apps, we see a similar pattern with both logged-in and logged-out editors. Looking at the last 30 days on English Wikipedia, mobile web edits have a higher revert rate compared to desktop edits. That's true for both logged-in users (10.2% revert on mobile web to 3.7% revert on desktop) and IP editors (35% revert on mobile web to 22% revert on desktop). Edits made through the apps are closer to the desktop revert rate. For logged-in app users, about 6.5% of app edits are reverted, compared to 3.7% on desktop. For IP app users, it's around 24% app edits reverted vs 22% IP edits on desktop. So while every single revert is a waste of time for somebody, we don't see app editing causing significantly more problems than desktop editing, especially compared to mobile web.

As I said earlier, the Android team has recently released improvements for talk pages just last month, and has plans to continue work on it, and iOS will be working on communication features later this year. So while those teams had a late start on these features, they are currently getting attention.

Some more specific points: Suffusion of Yellow, your suggestion about offering a time-limited message is interesting, and started a conversation in a couple of teams, so thanks for bringing that up. For your question about the assumption that mobile devices are used on the go: yes, there are definitely people who use mobile devices on stable IPs. However, it's a lot more likely that any given mobile device will be on an inconsistent IP than a desktop device.

Regarding people who ignore red circles and turn off push notifications, it's true that banner blindness is very strong, and that's a problem for web designers in general. However, we've found that when someone takes a specific step like turning off push notifications, responding with larger and more insistent notifications is not likely to help.

I'm happy to keep talking, if folks have more questions or suggestions. DannyH (WMF) (talk) 18:47, 30 April 2021 (UTC)

Danny, I'm intrigued and puzzled by your statement here. You have people here (and in many previous conversations) expressing frustrations at an inability to communicate with users. Some prior discussions have been about specific editors who have a mixture of constructive and troubling edits which are the kind of editors who can frequently be helped to stop the troubling edits. Your response, if I'm understanding it correctly, is that because there is no difference in revert rates for these editors compared to those on other platforms that the lack of communication doesn't matter. This might be true but would be a radical shift in culture in terms of how we handle disruptive editing and would be at odds with other foundation sponsored initiatives, including obligations to help new users in the UCoC. Can you help me either understand where I am failing to get what you're saying or if I do understand what you're saying how we, as an enwiki community, can square this circle. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 19:17, 30 April 2021 (UTC)
Hi Barkeep49: What I shared about the revert rate was in response to a couple of things. First, Johnuniq commented on the fact that I'd only talked about edits from app users, and didn't acknowledge the impact on the editor community who have to clean up a mess. (The part about "ticking boxes for the number of new edits from new users.") It was also a response to the suggestion made in a few places that the apps shouldn't allow editing if the communication features aren't up to desktop standard. My point is that we do try to take the impact on the community into account, by making sure that features that we build don't result in a mess that's noticeably bigger than the mess that already exists.
But yes, this conversation is mostly about reaching specific editors who might be helped to stop making troubling edits. I agree that the communication features are important, and both apps teams have been and will continue to work on communication features. Some of the problems that we're talking about have already been addressed on Android; I think that in the case mentioned in the thread on Jimbo's talk page, they would have received talk page notifications as of March 30th — but that was sadly too late to reach that user. These conversations have inspired us to talk more about the communication features as a product team, and I appreciate the folks who have brought it up here. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 20:37, 3 May 2021 (UTC)
DannyH (WMF), the desktop site is fully functional on modern mobile devices. The solution to this problem to shut down all apps and sites that are not fully functional, and redirect all users to the desktop site, which should be renamed the "fully functional site". That would save enormous amounts of money and draw a gigantic worldwide pool of new editors into the WMF free knowledge websites. Right now, we are erecting barriers to collaboration with people editing with mobile devices, and that is terribly sad. I speak as an editor who has been editing and more recently administrating with Android smartphones for ten years. 99+% of my edits are on smartphones. The WMF is spending buckets of money on a problem that does not exist, and making matters worse in the process. Cullen328 Let's discuss it
While this may have been a hypothetical, I would personally oppose such a proposal, solely because while the desktop site is functional on mobile, the text is still really small. The probably-crazy solution that immediately comes to mind is to switch the site skin to the new Responsive MonoBook, because that would display the content at a reasonable size on mobile while presumably allowing IPs to see the Orange Bar of Doom. (I haven't tested this, but I assume it works because unlike Minerva, MonoBook is maintained by the editing community.) Also, there are some plans to make Vector responsive too, but I don't know anything about that. —pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 22:19, 5 May 2021 (UTC)
At least a couple of us have disagreed with your view a few times, Cullen. The desktop site is not at all well optimised, and the apps are better for reading already. The solution is not to delete everything, rather than fix the issues. It's such an overly simplistic view anyway; compare this to this in terms of page size. I mean, the suggestion just isn't considerate of all the language projects and global users, and is just so unlikely to happen that it distracts from real solutions, which really is to disable editing in the interim / provide a roadmap, or at least allow the community to do that if it wishes to by consensus. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 01:36, 6 May 2021 (UTC)
hear hear. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 08:35, 6 May 2021 (UTC)
I agree that just nuking mobile and forcing everyone to use desktop is the wrong solution. What many people don't quite grasp is that not everyone is like them. They assume that because they have a large screen smartphone and a fast connection, then of course everyone does, and if a desktop website works for them then of course it works fine for for everyone else.
In the real world some people access Wikipedia on old flip phones, satellite phones with huge packet delays, rugged industrial phones with tiny screens, and ancient computers using modems.
I recently finished a preliminary design for a major toy manufacturer that includes a very low performance web browser with a really cheap display. That one got cancelled (90% of toys that make it to prototype do) but sooner or later you are going to see something similar in the toy aisle at Wal-mart for $29.95 USD. --Guy Macon (talk) 11:02, 6 May 2021 (UTC)
@DannyH (WMF): is this a joke or am I misunderstanding? You're saying that it's a deliberate design choice that mobile app editors are not seeing the messages being left for them? How do you suggest that we contact CejeroC, or does it not matter that thousands of volunteers' time (both newbie and experienced) are being wasted? — Bilorv (talk) 23:33, 29 May 2021 (UTC)
Hi @Bilorv: I think that you're misunderstanding slightly. It's a deliberate design choice not to show notifications for IP editors on mobile web, because there's a higher chance that we'll show the notification to the wrong person. It's more likely that a mobile web edit was made by someone who's moving around, so the notification would appear for a random reader who happens to be picking up the same cell tower or wifi access. We are showing notifications for logged-in editors on mobile web, and both logged-in and logged-out editors on the Android and iOS apps.
CejeroC was an editor on the Android app, which added talk page notifications in some changes made in February-March 2021. This was too late for the people trying to contact CejeroC, unfortunately, but it should be easier to contact Android app editors from now on. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 18:35, 4 June 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply, DannyH (WMF). I'm glad that I was misunderstanding, as the other option was deeply undesirable. My new questions are as follows: you're saying that it's a deliberate design choice that unregistered mobile web editors are not seeing the messages being left for them? Where can I see the WMF's data on the percentage of IP talk page messages that would have been seen by someone who was not the intended target, versus the percentage that would have been seen by the intended target? And how should a volunteer attempt to get in contact with an IP editor tagged as making mobile web edits, particularly when the IP has clearly been static for a non-trivial amount of time (based on the length of the editor's contributions)? — Bilorv (talk) 18:57, 4 June 2021 (UTC)
@Bilorv: I wish we could get data on who sees which notifications; it would make life easier. Unfortunately, we don't know. (There are a lot of stats that are typically collected by other big websites that we don't collect out of respect for users' privacy.) The judgment call that we're making right now is based on our understanding that a large number of IPs move around and are unreachable even on desktop, and that problem is obviously magnified for mobile IPs. For the question of how a volunteer could get in contact with a stable mobile IP editor, one potential workaround would be to leave them a message on the IP's talk page, and then when you revert one of their edits, you put a link to their talk page in the edit summary. That's obviously a hack, but IP editors having a talk page at all is kind of a hack. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 20:58, 8 June 2021 (UTC)
I don't believe that the users I'm thinking of are aware that there's a page history—in fact, I often see behaviour that makes me think they are going "my edit didn't go through, why is it not there when I look again a few hours later?" after a revert (and I don't think the layout makes the page history obvious). I need to send a big fuck-off banner saying "SOMEONE IS TRYING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THE EDIT YOU DID" in order to engage attention. Unfortunately, no such functionality exists. I do appreciate the privacy afforded to readers and editors, but you're making a judgement call based on not very much—certainly not what the community wants—and using a 2001 IP-based system is not the solid foundation for communication that I need. (I understand the WMF is planning to anonymise IPs but not change them as the method of tracking unregistered contributors.) I don't necessarily want us to start tracking people with cookies, so I know every solution comes with a disadvantage, but this situation is honestly ridiculous. So much of my time is wasted with sending out messages to people who will never see it, and the alternative is just undoing what they did without explanation (what message is that to send to a newcomer? How can we get new editors involved by doing that?). — Bilorv (talk) 21:25, 8 June 2021 (UTC)
@Bilorv: As you say, the 2001 IP-based communication system is very flawed. The big f'off banner doesn't even work for desktop IP editors all too often, because IPs shift around, or just because the person who's making the edits doesn't understand or doesn't respond to talk page messages. For mobile IP editors, you're even less likely to make a connection. I think that if the folks who created MediaWiki twenty years ago were creating it today, they probably wouldn't use IP addresses as the foundation for communication, but this is the legacy system that we have.
I do think that the work that the Anti-Harassment Tools team is doing on "IP masking" will help with this, especially if we use cookies on mobile devices to associate the device with an auto-generated user name. There's a lot of planning and discussion left to do on the IP masking project, and figuring out how to communicate with "masked" IP editors will be one of many things to figure out. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 22:42, 9 June 2021 (UTC)
@DannyH (WMF): We are showing notifications for ... both logged-in and logged-out editors on the Android and iOS apps. Can you link me to the phab task where the the lack of iOS notifications was fixed? I don't have an iOS device handy and phab:T274404 and its subtasks suggest work is just getting started. Also, the Android app still isn't showing me any alerts for logged-out talk page messages. And least no one has responded to my simple question at phab:T95396. So what have I missed? Suffusion of Yellow (talk) 19:37, 6 June 2021 (UTC)
@Suffusion of Yellow: Sorry, you're correct about iOS. I just checked my own post at the top of the section and realized that I made a mistake when I replied to Bilorv. Android has already made the changes; iOS is getting started on that work. I looked at your question on that ticket, which I think was not the correct ticket for that bug report — it looks like that ticket was closed in May 2020, and may not have been the right ticket anyway. I just asked the PM to take a look at it, and tell me where that report should go; I'll let you know when I get an answer. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 21:06, 8 June 2021 (UTC)
Ah, I see that you've already made that connection on phab:T276147. At least, I think so. Let me know if I'm not correct. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 21:22, 8 June 2021 (UTC)
@DannyH (WMF): So I understand there is still a subset of logged-out mobile editors not getting talk page notifications, yet they are still editing? This is unacceptable.
As has been stated above, if an interface does not have basic communication capabilities, then the interface should not have editing capabilities. --DB1729 (talk) 02:17, 8 June 2021 (UTC)
@DB1729: I understand your dismay; I agree that communication is essential for productive wiki collaboration. I think that at the root, this is actually a flaw in the concept of allowing people to edit without an account on Wikipedia. Twenty years ago, it may have been roughly accurate to assume that IP addresses were mostly stable, because everybody had a desktop and mostly a dial-up connection, so if you posted a message for a particular IP address then you were likely to reach the same person. Today, the use of laptops at wifi hotspots and phones and tablets using cell service has basically broken that model. A few years ago, we reached the point when mobile pageviews hit 50% of our traffic, and by now the majority of Wikipedia readers are accessing our site with a mobile device.
I think that your suggestion of restricting IP editing on mobile is an interesting one, and it's possible to argue that that should apply to desktop as well as mobile. But that's a much bigger conversation, and I don't think we'd be able to settle it here. — DannyH (WMF) (talk) 21:19, 8 June 2021 (UTC)
I don't have the data, but edits I make using my phone usually come from the same IP (my home or work wifi) that my desktop edits come from. (I use responsive monobook, so my phone edits count as "desktop"). What's inhibiting communication with some mobile editors is not that their IP changes, it is that the software they use is not fit for purpose. Do you know any of the people who can fix the software? —Kusma (talk) 08:28, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
@DannyH (WMF): Speaking of notifications Danny, for some reason I never got that ping from your last reply.(ironic) Did you get a confirmation it was sent? Thank you for the reply and for sharing your thoughts. In the meantime, yes I understand the dynamic IP problem, but these users are notified (I hope) when their IP addresses are blocked, are they not? Presumably when they open an edit window? Similarly, a talk page notification could be displayed only when there is an attempt to edit. It could then time-out or become invisible after a set duration, much like I assume a block notice will disappear once the block expires. DB1729 (talk) 15:48, 12 June 2021 (UTC)

#suggestededit-add 1.0[edit]

I think it would be a good idea to also bring up what I think is the related issue of the #suggestededit-add 1.0 process, as this seems to a mobile idea. See for example Jomart Allaguliyev (talk · contribs), a new mobile user who has made over 1000 edits exclusively through this process. Most are fine, but some are wrong, and some are almost nonsensical. Sometimes they re-do and worsen their own better work! [2] [3]. They've also a few times made the same edit twice after being reverted [4][5], which feels like something popped up and they simply repeated the action? The only documentation seems to be on Wikidata, so it is unclear how exactly these are happening or where they're happening from. There is an old Phab task (T227623) closed suggesting the process is working as intended. CMD (talk) 02:42, 22 April 2021 (UTC)

I'm confused about how this is a suggestedit issue. That editor was given exactly one warning, as far as I can tell. If an editor is editing disruptively, the first step is to notify them on their talk page, isn't it? (Also, I have fixed your broken link above.) – Jonesey95 (talk) 04:26, 22 April 2021 (UTC)
Thanks for the fix. The user is not editing disruptively, on the whole. The point is, this user's edits are being solely guided by some program out there providing editing suggestions to new users, provided by WMF, of which there seems to be little documentation. How is it not a suggested edit issue, when any potential disruptiveness would presumably be due to this feature? It would be nice to have documentation. If the edit summaries are automatically generated, why don't they include a wikilink to such documentation? The Mediawiki FAQ states only that it is to "Add short descriptions to articles that are missing descriptions", which is clearly not the case given these are edits to existing short descriptions. CMD (talk) 09:14, 22 April 2021 (UTC)

New annual WMF fundraising record after just nine months[edit]

Financial development of the Wikimedia Foundation (in US$), 2003–2020
Black: Net assets (excluding Wikimedia Endowment, currently at $90m+)
Green: Revenue (excluding third-party donations to Wikimedia Endowment)
Red: Expenses (including WMF payments to Wikimedia Endowment)

The Wikimedia Foundation has taken $142 million in the first three quarters of this financial year – more than it took over the entire twelve months of the year prior. That's according to a quarterly review for the third quarter (January to March 2021) of the WMF financial year (which started 1 July 2020 and will end on 30 June 2021). The original year goal was $108 million (matching planned expenses in the annual plan); in the second quarter, this was raised to $125 million. By 31 March, the WMF had exceeded this revised target too, by $17 million. (Note also that last year the WMF underspent considerably, because so many events were cancelled. This is what led it to stash $9 million in a new Tides Advocacy fund, as people didn't know what else to do with the money. Given that the global pandemic actually accelerated over the past 10.5 months, one would expect that the same cancellations happened again.)

In addition to the $142 million, the first three quarters of the year have also seen $18.6 million added to the Wikimedia Endowment. Established in 2016, the Endowment was at $90 million at the start of the year; it will reach its ten-year-goal – $100 million – five years early.

As we speak, there are fundraising banners runnning in South America: 1 2 3 4. According to a Washington Post article published last week, "South America leads the world in new cases and deaths per capita." Readers there are asked to "defend Wikipedia's independence", saying a donation is required today so the WMF can continue to protect said independence. The banners add that it's the 2% of readers who donate that ensure that Wikipedia remains accessible to all. They also add that by donating money to the WMF, people can tell the volunteers that their work matters.

Now given that the WMF had already exceeded its original fundraising goal by $34 million six weeks ago, do people feel that's ethically okay? --Andreas JN466 08:32, 17 May 2021 (UTC)

Relevant link: WP:CANCERpythoncoder (talk | contribs) 16:40, 17 May 2021 (UTC)
I don't know about ethically OK. That depends on how the money is spent. The proper job of the WMF should be to provide the necessary infrastucture to support its projects, and to ensure that all of the projects are run in accordance with its legal obligations as a charity and that they don't get taken over by people who wish to exclude others based on attributes that have nothing to do with its objectives. The impression I get is that it spends its money on perpetuating and expanding the many paid positions in its bureaucracy rather than these. Independence and accessibility can be guaranteed on much less money than this. Phil Bridger (talk) 17:54, 17 May 2021 (UTC)
As the author of WP:CANCER, For several years I have been calling on the WMF to do the following:
  • Make spending transparent, publish a detailed account of what the money is being spent on and answer any reasonable questions asking for more details
  • Limit spending increases to no more than inflation plus some percentage (adjusted for any increases in page views) -- even if the limit is "spend no more than ten times what we spent last year".
  • Build up our endowment, and structure the endowment so that the WMF cannot legally dip into the principal when times get bad.
All three recommendations have either been rejected out of hand, or responded to with laughably false claims that they are already being done.
For example, I have been told that the words "Professional service expenses: $8,998,26" and "Other operating expenses $9,005,744" meet the requirement of "publishing a detailed account of what the money is being spent" and that pointing to those two line items is "answering any reasonable questions asking for more details".
I have also been told that the fact that an account labeled "endowment" exists meets the requirement of "structuring the endowment so that the WMF cannot legally dip into the principal when times get bad."
If we do these things now, in a few short years we could be in a position to do everything we are doing now while living off of the endowment interest, and would have no need for further fundraising. Or we could keep fundraising, using the donations to do many new and useful things, knowing that whatever we do there is a guaranteed income stream from the endowment that will keep the servers running indefinitely. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:20, 17 May 2021 (UTC)
In 2020, the wage bill expanded >20% to >$55M, so it'll be a long time before an endowment is adequate! EddieHugh (talk) 22:14, 17 May 2021 (UTC)
In 2010 the total spending for everything was ten million. I was here in 2010. I didn't notice Wikipedia not being able to function because they were spending too little. --Guy Macon (talk) 12:05, 18 May 2021 (UTC)
Guy, the Foundation can expect to earn over $10 million in annual interest from now on, based on the $100 million endowment it has with Tides and another 100 million of investments it has in its own name. While this doesn't pay 500+ staff and contractors, it is already enough to ensure "actual sustainability of Wikimedia's mission", according to Erik Möller writing in 2013. --Andreas JN466 10:51, 18 May 2021 (UTC)
That assumes that the $100 million endowment doesn't disappear. Here is how it can, and how we could prevent that.
Assume for the sake of argument that the day comes when spending becomes larger than revenue. This could happen because of a scandal making contributions fall off a cliff. Or revenues leveling off while the spending continues to increase. Or we lose a huge lawsuit and are forced to pay a $300 million judgement. Or we have another great depression. Or hyperinflation. Or maybe some future CEO decides to try to compete with Google in the search engine space -- again.
Assume that the WMF sees the shortfall but assumes that it is a temporary. After all, everybody loves having meetings in exotic vacation destinations, and all those employees are absolutely essential, right? Surely you wouldn't want us to lay off our friends, you monster. So they dip into savings. That's what savings are for, after all.
Now assume that they burn through all of the savings and the shortfall persists.
If I had my way, they could not drain the endowment. They would have to live on whatever donations are still coming in plus a hefty amount of interest from the endowment. But they could not spend the principle. Result: Wikipedia survives.
The way things are set up now, they could drain the endowment to maintain spending. When that runs out it is sell assets and fire people time -- unless they can borrow money and thus keep spending more than they take in. There are clever lawyers out there who might be able to make it so that the WMF could put up the encyclopedia as collateral. How much do you think Google would pay to own Wikipedia? Result: wikipedia is now owned by a corporation.
All of this could be avoided if only the WMF would structure the endowment so that the WMF cannot legally dip into the principal when times get bad. Yet they refuse to do that (or sometimes they lie and say they already have done that, but go silent when asked to provide a legally-binding agreement that says they cannot touch the principle). It makes you wonder why they resist the idea, doesn't it? --Guy Macon (talk) 12:05, 18 May 2021 (UTC)
Guy, no such provision is iron-clad. Note e.g. "In cases of extreme financial hardship, the court may grant cy pres relief permitting a charity to invade an endowment fund in order to meet the charity’s financial obligations." [6] (As it is, some of the funds will have come with donor restrictions.) Best, --Andreas JN466 17:15, 22 May 2021 (UTC)
I am fine with the Cy-près doctrine or indeed with any situation where the WMF can dip into the principle only after a judge approves doing that. Right now The WMF refuses to even try to put any restrictions on draining the endowment. Go ahead and ask them. Ask them to show you any agreement, contract, bylaw, or any other document that puts any restriction at all on spending the endowment on anything they choose. I would be happy to report that I was wrong. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:50, 22 May 2021 (UTC)
I am quite convinced you are right. Face-smile.svg There are quite probably some restrictions that apply now, because of what donors specified, and some UPMIFA regulations limiting what can be done with the money, but like you I have not seen any commitment from WMF that the principal will remain untouched except for cy près cases. And I agree that such a commitment would be a good thing. What's also important in the short term is what form the new 501c3 charity will take – as you know, the whole endowment, all $100 million of it, is soon to be returned to the WMF to be put into a standalone charity. I said on the mailing list some weeks ago that it would be nice if the WMF could share legal details of that envisaged organization – no reply. If all the funds are returned to the WMF, is the WMF even legally bound to set the new charity up as an endowment? --Andreas JN466 11:11, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
"I have here an empty bag, capable of containing £100,000. As I am wanting that amount, I merely place the bag upon the table, whisper the magic words 'Gordon', 'Khartoum', when, hey presto! we shall find the bag is full." Kind of fits for Wikipedia fundraising too. Just replace the words Gordon and Khartoum with "really need money today to protect Wikipedia's independence". Except the WMF money bags are bottomless.
Honestly, this is just unfortunate and wrong. Guy's recommendations look completely reasonable. I'm not extremely familiar with finance, endowments, etc, but if this amount of money is pouring in, perhaps it could be used for grants, servers, etc? I'm honestly just confused on WMF's spending. EpicPupper (talk) 16:23, 18 May 2021 (UTC)
It could allocated 0.1% of that to hire more people to fix bugs and work on projects like Deploying ArticleAlerts on other wikis and other things from the Community Wishlists. Hell, let's go crazy. Let's go for 0.2%. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 01:23, 21 May 2021 (UTC)
That's just crazy talk. Who let this guy in? "Fixing bugs" indeed. I say good day to you sir!
Disproving Otter Disapproves :) --Guy Macon (talk) 14:27, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
I have been a trustee for a charity with an endowment, there is a downside to the idea of not being able to dip into the principal. To invest longterm you need most of the assets to be in stocks and or real estate - assets that perform well in the longterm but which will have good and bad years. In the medium to longterm this will outperform leaving the money in the bank and just receiving interest, but you will have years when the fund drops quite a bit. Maintaining the longterm value in real terms can be done in various ways, including investing part of the fund in stocks and using the dividends as income, setting a floor to the fund below which the trustees can't or shouldn't go without a unanimous vote, or having a floor that increases in line with inflation and unspent reserves in the fund that give a cushion against bad years. But if we are going to get something useful out of having this fund, such as the ability to commit to institutions considering mass uploads to Wikimedia Commons that commons will be around for the foreseeable future; You don't want to set up the fund in such a way that every decade when the market has a downturn you have a year or three when you can't get anything from the endowment. A longterm yield of 3% is not unreasonable, but to be useful an endowment needs to be set up so it can continue to make grants during a recession. ϢereSpielChequers 20:22, 22 May 2021 (UTC)
I don't follow your reasoning there. If you invade the endowment, you just make the situation even worse for any future difficult years. The whole idea of the endowment is to have a minimum annual income from interest. --Andreas JN466 11:16, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
(edit conflict) That's certainly the promise made at [ ].
"The Wikimedia Endowment is our enduring commitment to a world of freely shared knowledge, now and in perpetuity."
"The purpose of the Wikimedia Endowment is to support Wikimedia projects in perpetuity. [It] ensures long-term security. A robust Endowment also provides Wikimedia’s community of volunteers and donors with the confidence that the mission and vision in which they’ve invested will be supported for future generations."
The Devil is always in the details. At the bottom of [ ] it says:
"Tides or the Wikimedia Foundation may choose to transfer the Endowment from Tides to the Wikimedia Foundation, or other charities identified by the Wikimedia Foundation that are engaged in activities that further the Wikimedia Endowment’s purpose. Following any transfer, the Endowment would continue to act for the purpose of being a permanent, income-generating fund to support the Wikimedia projects."
Most people reading that would assume that they mean funding the core activities that keep Wikipedia, Wictionary, etc. on the internet. Paying for servers and bandwidth, funding the minimum number of employees in legal and accounting to remain a charity and respond to lawsuits, fixing security bugs in the software, that sort of thing.
But does it actually say that? Does it say "Keep Wikipedia running" or does it say "support the Wikimedia projects"? We already had a CEO secretly start spending a boatload of cash on a "Wikimedia project" to develop a search engine to compete with Google and Bing. Literally anything can be declared to be Wikimedia project.
We should have a legally binding agreement that the endowment principle is not to be spent and that the endowment interest must be spent to keep the projects currently listed at [ ] up, running, and independent.
Please note that the the WMF also has roughly $100 million USD in non-endowment investments. They should be continue to be free to spend that money on anything they choose. But if the WMF fucks up, spends all of that $100 million USD in savings and then tries to drain the endowment to avoid living under a budget like the rest of us have to do, they should have to go before a judge, make a case that the spending is needed to keep the projects currently listed at [ ] up, running, and independent, and get the court's permission per the Cy-près doctrine. So tell me; Is asking the WMF to agree to this this an unreasonable request? Is asking them to explain why they refuse to discuss this an unreasonable request? I'm just saying. --Guy Macon (talk) 14:10, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
You only get interest if you lend the money rather than invest it. It would be irresponsible to lend an endowment rather than invest it in assets such as stocks and shares. Maybe you would lend a proportion of it if you were being cautious or risk averse. But even if you put some of the endowment into fixed interest bonds, the value of those bonds will go up and down. So if the fund was partly invested in government bonds you would get interest payments for owning those bonds. But if we had a spike in inflation, and interest rates rose, then the money you could sell those bonds for would fall, and the value of the endowment would drop. Plus any dividends or interest are part of the endowment, you need part of them to maintain the value of the endowment in real terms. If you set your endowment up so that all interest and dividends were treated as money that could be disbursed then your fund is pretty much guaranteed to dwindle over time. ϢereSpielChequers 13:44, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
True, but let's get them to agree to not dip into the principle before focusing on where the interest goes. Baby steps. :) --Guy Macon (talk) 14:13, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
Whether interest or dividends (or whatever income you like), the principle remains that if you want to convince others e.g. that Commons is here to stay, the endowment's principal should never be dug into. If the endowment can evaporate, you can't argue that it guarantees the Commons' existence in perpetuity. And yes, part of the interest and dividends should be retained so the endowment maintains its value in real terms. (The WMF has been sending out emails asking people to include them in their will. So the principal seems likely to rise naturally ...) --Andreas JN466 14:37, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
My objection is to your suggestion that the principal can never be dipped into. An endowment will go up and down in value as the stock market or whatever it is invested in fluctuates. Maintaining that principal in real terms over a period of decades or even centuries is one thing. Not being able to make any grants for two or three years after a stock market crash would be a problem. There are various ways round this, but one that you want to avoid is setting a principle that the "the principal can never be dipped into". I was a trustee of a charity with an endowment during the years of the 2008 banking crash. We held our nerve and continued to make grants during those years, we were able to do that because our aim was to maintain the value of the endowment in the longterm, but accept that it would fluctuate in the short term. There are various ways to do this, including setting a floor on the value of the fund, or to link it to various stock market indices. The important thing is to avoid making a commitment such as "the principal can never be dipped into". ϢereSpielChequers 15:43, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
I see your point. --Andreas JN466 16:17, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
I don't see their point. I can see the point in the case were an endowment is making grants on a regular basis, but there is no need to do that when you have a hundred million in the endowment, an additional hundred million in the bank, and revenue has never been lower than expenses. Basically, the WMF endowment isn't there to make grants. It is there to ensure the survival of Wikipedia.
I do not trust every possible future set of WMF managers and board members to not drain the endowment so as to temporarily delay needed spending cuts. It is just too easy to look at the start of a multi-year decline and say "this is just a temporary glitch. Donations are down, we burned through our hundred million in the bank, and now we can't afford our planned huge Wikimania at a ski resort in the Swiss Alps. Let's just pay for it out of the endowment. We will pay it back when things get netter, we pinkie promise." --Guy Macon (talk) 16:46, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
Actually, it's $200m+ in the bank by now. [7] All in all, there's $100m+ with Tides (not included on that page), and $200m+ in short-term/long-term investments and cash ($180m shown on that page, but add in the fact that takings this fiscal year have already exceeded budgeted spending per the annual plan by over $34 million, and the WMF is still fundraising as though it were down to its last penny, and you get there). Just sayin'. --Andreas JN466 17:30, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
To WSC's point, no major institution (i.e. those with an endowment the size of the foundation's) that I'm aware of manges their endowment on a "legally bound to never touch the principle" basis. The practical effect of this would be to spend less than the total interest in any given year because investment returns fluctuate so much and you don't want to hire people or otherwise commit to spending you may not be able to afford on an ongoing basis. At least with current board/management what we saw with the pandemic is that spending was slashed dramatically - and in retrospect unnecessarily - over fears that donations would dry up. That didn't happen but the aftermath of that decision lead to the facts which started this thread. So in essence the foundation's conservative and cautious approach to budgeting is now being leveraged as a reason to handcuff them further. I have major issues with how the foundation allocates its resources (and plan to ask board candidates about it in some way) but this critique seems unfair to me. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 15:32, 24 May 2021 (UTC)

Re: "no major institution (i.e. those with an endowment the size of the foundation's) that I'm aware of manages their endowment on a 'legally bound to never touch the principle' basis", while unrestricted endowments are common, so are endowments where you cannot touch the principal.

  • "Under law, Cornell is not allowed to spend the principal value of the endowment, but can spend a portion of investment returns. Nearly all of the $5.4 billion is invested, and after adjusting for inflation, a portion of investment returns are spent."[8]
  • "The Whatcom Community Foundation (Foundation) exists, in part, to manage funds permanently endowed by donors for the benefit of a specific charitable cause... An endowed fund is a permanent fund, designed to work in perpetuity to benefit your organization. Its principal is not distributed, and is invested to maintain the purchasing power of the fund over time."[9]
  • "One of the first points that people need to know is that while you can’t spend the principal from the endowment unless the donor or court says so, income from the principal is normally accessible."[10]
  • "Wellesley's large endowment is the result of generous donors and prudent management over many years. The value of the endowment on June 30, 2019 was $2.2 billion. It is comprised of about 3,000 individual endowed funds, most of which carry donor restrictions on spending. Gifts to the endowment are generally made so that the annual income earned by the principal supports an activity such as financial aid or a professorship in perpetuity. The income may only be spent to support that activity and the principal cannot be spent."[11]
  • "True Endowments, which are often referred to as simply endowments, reflect the original historical intent of the term. In a true endowment, the donor transfers assets to the institution prohibiting the principal from being spent. Institutions rely on the income from these assets to provide funds to further their philanthropic purpose."[12]
  • "All principal amounts will be retained, and only the income or a portion of it, will be expended."[13]

--Guy Macon (talk) 17:34, 24 May 2021 (UTC)

Thanks for these examples Guy. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 18:04, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
Be careful what you wish for, and know that it may not help. The Cornell example linked above is a good one. Their return was +1.9%, but their overall endowment balance shrank from $7.3 billion to $7.2 billion (-1.4%). They may not have spent any principal, technically, but the result is the same. Imagine an endowment of $1,000 where half of the principal has a +100% return (+$500), and half of it has a -100% return (-$500). You spend all of the investment income ($500). Your ending balance is $500 (half of what you started with), and you haven't touched any of the principal. – Jonesey95 (talk) 18:52, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
Guy, you and I may not be as far apart as you think. We are currently in a low interest rate, low inflation rate era, that may not last. In the future one possibility is that we could be in an era of say 10% annual inflation and 14% interest rates. If we simply have a policy of not dipping into the principal, the foundation could put the endowment into interest bearing accounts and bonds that would generate 14% interest per annum and ten years later have the same number of dollars in the principal, but with 10% inflation the fund would have lost more than 60% of its value in a decade. Even at current rates of inflation, over decades the fund would dwindle in real terms if we didn't embed something into the structure to require the trustees to maintain the value of the endowment in real terms. One strategy is to keep a mixed portfolio of shares and bonds - stocks tend to pay a dividend and also increase their value, another is total return investment But for any strategy other than just leaving it in the bank, expect that there will be years when the fund loses value. As for the idea of not touching the principal, always check whether they are talking about the amount or the value in real terms. A charity that aims to maintain the value of its endowment in real terms over the economic cycle is a charity that aims to last indefinitely. One that merely wants to maintain the amount of the principal may look very different after the next bout of inflation. ϢereSpielChequers 20:04, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
If we are heading for high inflation[14] and the WMF wants to maintain the true value of the endowment, the WMF would have to not only not spend the principle, they would have to not spend some of the interest and instead fold it back into the endowment. Spending all of the interest plus spending part of the principle would be going in the other direction, making the true value drop quicker than it would by inflation alone.
The fact that the WMF refuses to even discuss the possibility of not spending into the principle does not bode well for them deciding to not spend part of the interest. --Guy Macon (talk) 05:00, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
The article you cite is from the Babylon Bee, a satire publication, not known for its economic analysis. Wug·a·po·des 05:07, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
Actually [15] is both satire and an excellent economic commentary, just as Gulliver's Travels is both a satire and a commentary on petty differences between religions. (So, which end of an egg do you crack? Are you a bigendian or a smallendian?) --Guy Macon (talk) 15:59, 1 June 2021 (UTC)

Daily Dot article[edit]

Out today:

If you could share it online, I'd appreciate it! Best, --Andreas JN466 13:42, 24 May 2021 (UTC)

Thanks Andreas, I don't know if that 2013 estimate $10M+/year, "to ensure not only bare survival, but actual sustainability of Wikimedia's mission" is still valid, and what it includes and omits. I'm not sure I would equate sustainable with comfortable as you have in that article. To me comfortable would include internationalisation so that one day editors on the Georgian Wikipedia could just click an icon and edit on their Qwerty or Cyrillic keyboards, rather than only being able to edit if they have a Georgian keyboard. Erik was clear that his sustainable estimate didn't require dropping back to a single data centre - so not "bare bones", but did it include funds to fix major problems such as our sites being almost read only for the smartphone generation? I'm not defending the WMF's fundraising, some of what I've seen gives some the impression that the site is in financial difficulty. But my idea of financially comfortable is more than just sustainable, but sufficient to address some of our problems that are amenable to being addressed with money. Of course it would be better if we were asking people to donate for things like internationalisation rather than giving the impression that we need what might be quite a bit of money from them because our programmers drink coffee that costs £5 a cup. ϢereSpielChequers 20:53, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
The article does specifically say, "But keeping Wikipedia online is a task that the WMF could comfortably manage on $10 million a year. I think that's true, given that Erik said it includes actual sustainability of the WMF mission, in addition to hosting Wikipedia. For reference, here is the article passage in context:
... these banners have created a widespread impression that the WMF must be struggling to keep Wikipedia up-and-running, with tearful-sounding messages like: “This Thursday Wikipedia really needs you. This is the 10th appeal we’ve shown you. 98% of our readers don’t give; they look the other way … We ask you, humbly, don’t scroll away.” But keeping Wikipedia online is a task that the WMF could comfortably manage on $10 million a year, according to a casual 2013 estimate by Erik Möller, its VP of engineering and product development at the time.
And what Erik said was this:
WMF has operated in the past without staffing and with very minimal staffing, so clearly it's _possible_ to host a high traffic website on an absolute shoestring. But I would argue that an endowment, to actually be worthwhile, should aim for a significantly higher base level of minimal annual operating expenses, more in the order of magnitude of $10M+/year, to ensure not only bare survival, but actual sustainability of Wikimedia's mission. The "what's the level required for bare survival" question is, IMO, only of marginal interest ... --Andreas JN466 21:21, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
As Erik said, sustainability means things like "more than one data centre", so we can both agree that the $10 million is more than bare bones or bare survival. I have given a couple of examples of activities that are more than just making the movement sustainable, do you agree that such things are worthwhile? ϢereSpielChequers 22:29, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
Sure. --Andreas JN466 23:29, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
Have you ever heard the story of the admiral's yacht? According to the story, whenever someone proposes a reduction in military spending, the military immediately cuts the budget by not buying bullets or food for the troops, but they never touch the admirals' yacht or the general's ski vacations in the Swiss Alps. Whether or not the story is true in the case of the actual military, in certainly is in the case of the WMF. We keep hearing about maybe spending less on redundant datacenters or on fixing bugs, but we never discuss the Wikimanias or the HQ located in the second most expensive city on earth. --Guy Macon (talk) 05:00, 27 May 2021 (UTC)

Hacker News[edit]

Wikimedia Foundation accessibility office hour 20 May (late notice)[edit]

We're hosting an open for everyone accessibility office hour on Global Accessibility Awareness Day 20 May 2021 from 8:30, 20 May 2021 (UTC) to 18:30, 20 May 2021 (UTC) --Volker E. (WMF) (talk) 17:04, 20 May 2021 (UTC)

Making the announcement an hour and a half before ithe office hours closed made it so that nobody had time to bring up the fact that the WMF discriminates against the visually impaired and that this was reported over 15 years ago. I'm just saying. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:16, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
@Guy Macon: How does it discriminate against the visually impaired and where was it reported? Genuinely curious. Kleinpecan (talk) 18:54, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
On February 3 2006, it was reported to the WMF that our CAPTCHA system discriminates against blind people. See [ ]
This appears to be a direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and leaves Wikipedia open to discrimination lawsuits.
National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation was a case where a major retailer, Target Corp., was sued because their web designers failed to design its website to enable persons with low or no vision to use it. This resulted in Target paying out roughly ten million dollars.
I have been repeatedly told that the proper way to request that Wikipedia stop discriminating against the blind is through phabricator, but clearly this was not effective in this case. I do not consider 15 years of refusing to answer to be reasonable behavior on the part of the WMF. I have been asking this question since 3 August 2017.
What I expect from the WMF
I expect a yes or no answer. Either the WMF makes an official statement saying "No, we have decided not to fix this" or an official statement saying "Yes, we have decided to fix this."
If the answer is "Yes", I expect a page to be created (preferably on the English Wikipedia, but I will accept a page on Meta) that gives us the requirements (a testable definition of "done"), a schedule with milestones and updates, and budget and staffing information. The WMF has made multiple statements saying that they intend to be more open about these sort of thing, and this is an excellent place to show that the commitment to openness is more than just talk. --Guy Macon (talk) 22:01, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
@Volker E. (WMF), Raystorm, Jimbo Wales, and Pundit:. Please don't ignore this. If you were pinged and it's not "officially" your job to take care of this, then please make arrangements for the person who's job it is to take care of this see the message and reply to it. And if there's no one who's job it is to take care of this, then please make a arrangements to appoint someone to take care of this. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 23:01, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
...or be straight with me and tell me to my face that you refuse to fix this. Don't stonewall for fifteen years.
Again, if nobody is assigned the job of fixing this, it won't get fixed. If fixing this isn't in the budget, it won't get fixed. If there is no deadline assigned, it won't get fixed. --Guy Macon (talk) 01:24, 11 June 2021 (UTC)

Join the new Regional Committees for Grants[edit]

Dear all,

We hope this email finds you well and safe. The COVID 19 situation continues to affect many of us across the globe and our thoughts are with everyone affected. We are also aware that there are several processes currently in progress that demand volunteer time and we do not want to add more work to anyone's plate.

We do want to draw your attention to our new Regional Committees for Grants though as they are an opportunity for you to have an active say in the future of our Movement!

📣 So today, we invite you to join our new Regional Committees for Grants! 📣

We encourage Wikimedians and Free Knowledge advocates to be part of the new Regional Committees that the WMF Community Resources team is setting up as part of the grants strategy relaunch [16]. You will be a key strategic thought partner to help understand the complexities of any region, provide knowledge and expertise to applicants, to support successful movement activities, and make funding decisions for grant applications in the region.

👉Find out more on meta [17].

Regional Committees will be established for the following regions:

  • Middle East and Africa
  • SAARC [18] region (Includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka)
  • East, Southeast Asia, and Pacific (ESEAP) region
  • Latin America (LATAM) and The Caribbean
  • United States and Canada
  • Northern and Western Europe
  • Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)

👉All details about the Committees and how to apply can be found on meta [19]. Applications have to be submitted by June 4, 2021!

If you have any questions or comments, please use the meta discussion page [20].

Please do share this announcement widely with your Network.

Best wishes,

JBrungs (WMF) (talk) 06:22, 21 May 2021 (UTC) on behalf of the Community Resources Team

On the subject line and word choice in the message[edit]

I sincerely doubt that new points are going to be made if this discussion continues, so let's try closing it. Barkeep49 (talk) 18:19, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

"Subject line"? "This email"? Does anyone at the WMF remember when they got their money and jobs from the work some volunteers did on some wiki? The good old days, you know? It would show a bit more respect if you adressed us as if you were a Wikipedian / Wikimedian as well, and not as if this message here is a distant afterthought after it had been shared on some much more important mailing list for the "true" WMFians.
Greetings, your key strategic thought partner from your Network. Fram (talk) 07:34, 21 May 2021 (UTC)
WP:SOFIXIT Wug·a·po·des 21:15, 22 May 2021 (UTC)
And Fram is supposed to "fix" the way the WMF makes What steps, exactly, would Fram have to take in order to accomplish this? --Guy Macon (talk) 14:16, 23 May 2021 (UTC)
You're losing your mind over a noticeboard post assuming it's some grand conspiracy to insult you. Fram's comment wasn't some magnum opus on the organizational structure of the WMF; it was a complaint about how a notice to hundreds of wikis and mailing lists was formatted. This might be a crazy idea—we can't possibly have the technology in this day and age—but maybe some people get notified of watch list changes through email and so would actually see this as an email? Perhaps, and I'm really just making things up at this point, a post can be made by email and on-wiki simultaneously so that work is minimized while audience and participation are maximized? No, that would make no sense. Why would the evil empire WMF try to inform as many people as possible? It's much simpler to assume this is part of some grand conspiracy where the illuminati WMF decides to screw over this wiki specifically with it's insidious mass message to hundreds of communities. Stop yelling at clouds getting pissed off at mass messages like it's a personal insult, you look unhinged. If you want to go back to the "good old days" try editing the post to remove the vulgar "subject line" and insulting "this email". It's a wiki after all, or do we only appeal to the wiki ethic when it's convenient? Wug·a·po·des 22:06, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
Fram was making the point that someone from the WMF has no idea about community norms for posting a talk-page message. It's not a question of fixing it or educating them, it's a reflection on the unfortunate fact that many people in the WMF are in a bubble where staff are concerned with their own welfare and are almost totally cut off from Wikipedia. Johnuniq (talk) 23:24, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
Johnuniq, This page was created to enhance communication between the WMF and enwiki editors. Beating up on and insulting WMF staff when they try to communicate isn't going to advance that goal. WP:CIVIL and WP:BITE apply here just as much as they do anywhere else on enwiki. -- RoySmith (talk) 23:45, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
WP:BITE shouldn't apply to WMF'ers, they shouldn't be "newcomers". I find their post insulting, you don't, fine. I don't see you complaining about Wugapodes claiming "You're losing your mind over a noticeboard post assuming it's some grand conspiracy", which is a completely over the top reply to my and Guy Macons post. Further on: "you look unhinged." Seriously, that is an acceptable post but mine or Guy's are a problem? No one claimed or implied a grand conspiracy, no one but Wugapodes is "losing their mind" over it. But apparently it is fine to give such over-the-top replies to enwiki editors, but it isn't fine to see issues with how the WMF too often interacts with us. Strangely, the "Subject line:" part was already removed from their post when they posted to other communities[21], e.g. here two minutes later. So it was perfectly possible to change the message, they realised that their post looked poor, they just didn't come back to change it here. Wugapodes simply assumed stuff putting the WMF in the best possible light, as a means to blatantly insult people here, and you RoySmith, apparently have no problem with that? Good going there. Fram (talk) 08:16, 25 May 2021 (UTC)
I can't imagine why someone would rather not come back to this board. It's such a nice place where everyone assumes good faith (ah, the good old days, remember when that was a policy!). It's certainly not a place where simple notices are met with passive aggressive insults from someone previously admonished and de-sysoped for failing to improve their behavior towards other editors particularly those at the WMF. I apologize for being disrespectful, I thought sarcasm was acceptable given your first reply, but like you said in 2018 I'll do my best to work on these things. Best regards from your strategic thought partner Wug·a·po·des 04:50, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
Your reply wasn't "disrespectful" or "sarcastic", it was a pure and simple personal attack. Either make a genuine apology or don't bother. If you want to lecture people on their behaviour, perhaps first look at yourself. And please don't misrepresent the ArbCom case, there was no "particularly those at the WMF" or anything close in the link you provided. Fram (talk) 07:09, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
Sorry, you're correct and I misremembered; you were admonished for your conduct towards people you disagreed with generally not necessarily the WMF so I've struck that part above. You seem to think it was a personal attack, which I'll trust you on given your experience with the topic documented in the link above. As I said, I thought candidly stating my unfiltered response to someone's tone rather than the content was appropriate on this board given your original comment. You rightly point out that incivility is wrong regardless of who it is directed towards (I think, you actually completely ignored Roy's point about WP:CIVIL instead trying to justify why you should be allowed to bite the WMF and shifting attention away from your conduct but I'll assume the best). Hopefully we can both learn from this experience. Perhaps my sincerity was lost in my sarcasm, it's a shame how that can happen, but sincerely I'll do my best to work on these things. Hopefully you can say the same? Wug·a·po·des 19:46, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
I'll take your sincere comments a bit more seriously when you give any indication that you mean them. Something like "You seem to think it was a personal attack, which I'll trust you on given your experience with the topic documented in the link above." is not really reassuring, both because you apparently can't recognise your own personal attacks even when they are quoted, and because you felt the need to add another sniping comment in this. If you can't refrain from making such attacks in the very statement where you claim that you'll do your best to work on them, then either you don't mean your "sincere" comments, or you lack the self-awareness necessary for your role. In any case, I don't think it is fruitful to continue this discussion which has apparently only reaffirmed your view of me, and has given me a good view on you. Fram (talk) 07:22, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
And User:JBrungs (WMF) is a "Senior Community Relations Specialist"! Heaven knows what we'd have got from someone more junior, or not specializing in Community Relations at all. Johnbod (talk) 20:07, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
I imagine it would have contained all the exact same information but with a different name at the bottom. Wug·a·po·des 20:55, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
That response is probably not as clever as you intended it to be. But sarcasm isn't your strong point, is it? Fram (talk) 07:22, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
  • I cross-posted this to WP:VPM with the minor fixes mentioned, as this noticeboard is not well-watched. I'm writing in my volunteer capacity here, but I also sometimes post to this board as User:Xeno (WMF).
    Just a thought, but maybe we shouldn't bite in general - whether they're newcomers, staff, newcomer staff, or otherwise? While everyone is entitled to their own opinion on Foundation hiring practices, I don't think it's practical or even possible to hire a steeped contributor for every wiki-involved position. As such, some staff performing outreach will necessarily learn terminology and how MediaWiki works "on the job", and constructive assistance from established contributors would be more useful (imo) when we encounter a new user, even if they have those three bracketed letters at the end of their username. –xenotalk 13:26, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
    • I don't get how such a large company as the WMF, who is for much of its income dependent on Wikipedia and its largest entity, enwiki ("dependent" as people and institutions give money to the WMF because of Wikipedia, Commons, and to a much lesser degree all other parts), can hire a "Senior Community Relations Specialist, Wikimedia Foundation" and not either look for someone with some editing knowledge (plenty around of those), or as a second choice would make sure that the person with this function gets a thorough first hand knowledge of the main sites and their ins and outs (i.e. not just play the Wikipedia Adventure and be done with it). How can you have good community relations if you don't have the faintest knowledge of "the community", what it deals with, how it does this, ...? This is two months of "editing", well, not even simply interacting with the communities on the ground, by the Senior Community Relations Specialist. It seems that none of the four words in the job title are particularly well chosen. Fram (talk) 13:51, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
      • The thread is related to seating regional committees to grant money to volunteers (including the volunteers sitting on the committee!), essentially helping to provide resources to the volunteers that helped generate them. If I were to guess, her first two months involved off-wiki work scaffolding the structure that lead us to this post. I just think it would be more useful to express thoughts about hiring and onboarding practice to someone at Talent and Culture, rather than a post to an unrelated thread on a barely-watched noticeboard. –xenotalk 14:11, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
        • My thoughts, my original post, were about the text of the post she posted here. If it wasn't directed at the vast bulk of the volunteers but only to those in regional organisations (chapters), then it shouldn't have been posted here. If it was aimed at individual volunteers, and at the community of individual volunteers as a whole, then the very least it could do was pretend to be written as an onwiki message, and not as an afterthought which very reluctantly had to be posted here as well. The thread then degenerated in personal attacks by an admin, and then diverted away from the original post to the function of the poster. I have no interest in dealing with the people of Talent and Culture or anyone at the WMF, my experiences with them aren't really brilliant (with some exceptions). It's largely a parasitical organisation instead of a symbiotic one. I try to deal with this sometimes on this side, but that's as far as I go. Fram (talk) 14:28, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
          • If the intent was to improve future communications and enhance staff understanding of our project norms, something like: "Welcome to the project - I hope you enjoyed The Wikipedia Adventure and are starting to gain and understanding about how wikis work. Just so you know, technically you've posted a "message" (i.e. on a message board), not an email. I'm not sure if you noticed, but you forgot to delete the "Subject Line:" marker here, like you did in subsequent messages on this project. Both of these make the post look a bit awkward in context. The good news is, this is a wiki and (almost) everything can be edited! Just click the "Edit" button at the top of this section, and delete the part that says "Subject Line:", then "Publish changes", you can fix it. I know this can be a bit confusing at first, it took me a while as well. Don't worry, you can't break anything - at least not permanently ;>. Let me know if I can be of any assistance." might have worked, too (jmho). –xenotalk 14:50, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
            • And then probably someone would have complained that I sent a patronizing message to the "Senior Community Relations Specialist" of the WMF (plus, of course, "sofixit"). How can someone be responsible for the framework, the communication, the outreach, to give out grants to Wikipedia volunteers, if they have no idea how Wikipedia actually works? Or have they given up all pretense that such grants are for Wikipedia improvements and not just for some plush jobs and extra money for insiders? Anyway, don't you see how ridiculous it is that someone would need to sent such a message to a person with that job description? "Enhance staff understanding or our project norms" in so far that they don't even know the difference between an email with a subject line or a post with a section header (which wouldn't include the words "section header" to start with)? It's not some obscure policy or guideline they were unaware off, they just had never interacted with anyone on wiki (nor edited articles). Fram (talk) 15:05, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
              • Every single day is someone's first day to interact with another person on a wiki, there are literally billions of them. This is all the more reason to make their first interaction a positive one. –xenotalk 15:24, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
  • Fram, it's not reasonable that you criticize someone for writing "email" and "subject line". God forbid, someone copied and pasted a message across platforms without personalizing it for each platform! Fire them immediately!! Not only is the criticism fundamentally ridiculous, of such minuscule importance that it wasn't worth raising at all, but the way you've raised it is incredibly, over-the-top harsh. When you're behaving like an asshole, someone saying "you're behaving like an asshole" is not a personal attack, it's the truth: you're behaving like an asshole. I want the WMF to keep posting updates here, and they're going to stop if they're met with harassment from disgruntled community members. Stop "biting" WMF staff. Keep it professional or keep quiet. Levivich 14:59, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
    • No. Fram (talk) 15:06, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
      Fram, Your public criticism of a WMF employee's qualifications and performance of their duties is inappropriate and borders on WP:HARRASSMENT. Please stop. -- RoySmith (talk) 15:17, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
      • All bow to the overlords. I would take you more seriously if you had e.g. interfered when Wugapodes started throwing around personal attacks, but apparently not everyone here is worthy of your interest and protection. Oh well, the volunteer will "keep it professional" and the professional may keep it amateuristic, who cares how they interact with us as long as we can suck up and kick down, no? Until the next round, I guess. Fram (talk) 15:35, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
Your public criticism of a WMF employee's qualifications and performance of their duties is inappropriate and borders on WP:HARRASSMENT No. The WMF works for us. When they suck at something, we are more than entitled to criticize them. There is a very real disconnect between the WMF and the community, and this is an example of it. It is not the end of the world, in the grand scheme of things, but it is something the WMF needs to be called on and it is something the WMF should address through orientation sessions or whatever. Especially for someone who's job is to apparently represent the "Community Resources Team" as "Senior Community Relations Officer". This isn't some internal pen pushing position. As much of a tempest in a teapot this is, debates about who (and whether) one is allowed to criticize the WMF are red herrings that are detrimental to community health. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 16:04, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
I agree with Roy, this isn't criticism, it's borderline harassment. I criticize the WMF all the time, lots of editors do, but we shouldn't do it in a hostile way like this. And not only that, it's a childish thing to criticize the WMF about. Changing "email" and "subject line" is not anywhere near important enough to rip someone a new one over. We (the editing community) have serious concerns about the WMF, and this isn't one of them; this is immature and distracts from the important issues, like who the next trustees and CEO will be, and how they're going to spend that $300 million they're sitting on. Levivich 16:51, 28 May 2021 (UTC)
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Proposal that may be of interest to the WMF[edit]

Sorry if my English is a little bad. I am Brazilian and I came here just to make a proposal that is being debated in the Lusophone language and that you can move forward with the help of you and the WMF. What do you think of a partnership between Wikipedia and the Kindle? More information can be found on Wikipedia in Portuguese (more specific in the section Esplanade: Proposals). If this is not the right place to make this proposal, I ask you to guide me. Editor Master Plus (talk) 17:15, 24 May 2021 (UTC)

I'm not part of WMF but I do think this is a good idea. I mean, Amazon Alexa uses Wikipedia for questions! But just out of curiosity, do you own a kindle and is there an encyclopedia on it? Oh and they would have to get deals with Amazon (company) to have it on kindle as it is owned by Amazon Thank you. Yaxops Banter 18:11, 24 May 2021 (UTC)
So this is about w:pt:Wikipédia:Esplanada/propostas/Parceria entre Kindle e a Wikipédia Lusófona (24mai2021). Editor Master Plus, your proposal is effectively to add the library of the Kindle Store to Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Library. Except who exactly is going to pay for this? The Wikipedia Library can work because the partners primarily publish their own content. So giving accounts away for free costs them hardly anything. Amazon/Kindle however pays authors a per page rate, and those thousands of authors aren't going to waive that rate for Wikipedia. So you expect either the WMF (forget it) or Amazon (most likely forget it) to cough up the dough. — Alexis Jazz (talk or ping me) 08:53, 25 May 2021 (UTC)

@Alexis Jazz:, as I said in Lusófona: “It doesn't hurt to try”, I know it's very optimistic, but Amazon is big, and it sells to the whole world! We are a non-profit organization, and not a company that seeks profit, it would be unethical for them (the authors of the books) to charge for this, we are not gaining (in monetary terms) practically nothing with this. --Editor Master Plus (talk) 13:23, 25 May 2021 (UTC)

Editor Master Plus, actually it does hurt to try when it's nothing but wishful thinking because it's a waste of time. This is an administrative hellhole and you have no idea how big of a hellhole (it's very, very big) or how to deal with it and you have no idea why Amazon would even consider this. On top of that, I'd actually be concerned that Wikimedia could get a WP:COI for all articles related to Amazon. — Alexis Jazz (talk or ping me) 20:48, 25 May 2021 (UTC)
Alexis Jazz let me see if I understand, your justification for the proposal to be considered inadequate is because "it would be too complicated". I see, we all hate bureaucracy, but, with all due respect, I think that your argument is unsupported. I understand that we should avoid having to go through bureaucracy as much as possible, nobody likes that. But we can't just run away from bureaucracy and decide not to look for any more bureaucracy because "it would be too complicated". I think that, if necessary, we should go through the bureaucracy to get more partners. You call my proposal "very optimistic" I already said that I was really optimistic I just wanted to propose this idea here and see if the community has an understanding like mine. For the time being, two have manifested themselves. Once again I say that I understand your point of view and respect, but my point of view differs from yours (at least) on that point. I emphasize that I am speaking to you in a respectful tone. Editor Master Plus (talk) 21:23, 26 May 2021 (UTC)
Editor Master Plus, with all due respect, your proposal is inadequate because it hasn't been thought through. It's like proposing world peace: everyone is in favor, nobody knows how. I already told you there is no incentive for Amazon to do this. That's your first hurdle, you'd have to think of something. But let's say you did it. I told you there's no way to get thousands of authors to agree. Just contacting them would be a challenge! And we can't even do it, Amazon would have to, because permission would have to go to Amazon. So now you have to come up with an incentive for Amazon to go through all that. But let's just say you managed this as well. (no idea how, but for the sake of argument) Since many authors won't respond or won't agree, Amazon would have to make changes to their infrastructure to exclude those authors. That'll be fun. But let's just say you managed this as well. (we are well into fantasy land already) I decided to read slightly more about Kindle Store. As I could have guessed, it uses Digital Restrictions Management. This is the polar opposite of everything Wikimedia stands for, so even if you manage to jump through all the previous hoops, we simply don't want it! It's fine to fantasize about silly things, you might accidentally run into something that turns out not to be entirely silly. But please don't ask others to fantasize for you. Do some research and think it through. Don't propose world peace unless you have already figured out a way to maybe make it work. — Alexis Jazz (talk or ping me) 03:33, 27 May 2021 (UTC)
  • Editor Master Plus: No opinion about the idea, though I think Meta:Wikimedia Forum would be a better venue for suggestions like this, this noticeboard is specific to EnWiki, and is not well-watched. –xenotalk 13:38, 28 May 2021 (UTC)

IP Masking Update[edit]

The IP Masking team have provided an update on IP Masking that can be seen here.

Given this will affect many editor's workflows, as well as a fairly significant WP:PERM change, please take the time to look and comment Nosebagbear (talk) 13:12, 10 June 2021 (UTC)

Serious issue for SPI, I think. Now, we often post accounts + IPs at SPIs to illustrate the total amount of socking. According to the proposal, "All users with accounts over a year old and at least 500 edits will be able to access partially unmasked IPs without permission. This means an IP address will appear with its tail octet(s) – the last part(s) – hidden. This will be accessible via a preference where they agree not to share it with others who don't have access to this information.": (emphasis mine) it will no longer be allowed to post any IP information, not even with the last octet(s) hidden, to SPI pages (or to other pages like AN/ANI). This will make battling disruptive IP sock editing much harder, and probably will increase IP vandalism. Fram (talk) 14:41, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
Fram, I think the answer is simple; take ptwiki's lead and outright ban IP editing. -- RoySmith (talk) 15:00, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
No objection from me, but I doubt that's what the WMF wanted. This would reduce the number of edits, and downwards trending statistics aren't really what they aim for. Fram (talk) 15:04, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
I can only wonder what percentage of productive IP editors wouldn't be willing to register a user name. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:19, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
I think how SPI reporting would work is a good question to ask over at meta from this framework. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 16:48, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
Barkeep49, see my comments there. -- RoySmith (talk) 20:03, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
Using my crystal ball, I foresee much more liberal use of semi-protection to protect the encyclopedia. --Malcolmxl5 (talk) 16:48, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
  • There will clearly be unintended consequences to this, which could include banning unregistered editing or a large expansion of semi-protection, which will both result in a reduction in editing. If this is what the WMF want then they should go ahead with such a proposal, but I doubt whether they do actually want this, because I am sure there are plenty of employees who will look bad if edit numbers go down. Phil Bridger (talk) 17:18, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
  • Without knowing the legal advice its really hard to predict how this is going to work out. Reality is whatever agreements you get people tick through Masks to IP lists will start being created. Only way to avoid it is fairly aggressive mask rotation at that point its essentially an open proxy and we block those on site.©Geni (talk) 17:39, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
  • Agree that if the rational is to mask IPs because those editing from IPs don't understand the ramifications of doing so, then IPs need to be banned from editing entirely. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 22:42, 10 June 2021 (UTC)
  • Wow this is horrible. It's incredibly obvious that the authors of this (ill-informed) proposal at the WMF have spent virtually zero time reverting vandalism and/or culling LTAs. Agreed with the sentiments above; it's time to seriously consider following the ptwiki playbook and restrict editing to registered users. -FASTILY 00:38, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • Before I go off and start writing code, do we have any statistics currently on quality of IP edits vs logged-in edits? I'm not sure how to measure "quality" but the most obvious metric would be what percentage of edits are reverted. -- RoySmith (talk) 01:35, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    a helpful pie chart visualizing the data
    RoySmith: WP:IPHUMAN cites studies saying 80% of total vandalism is from IPs, but >80% of IP edits are not vandalism. Data is from 2004 & 2007 so it may have changed since then, but probably not too much. —pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 13:30, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    I would expect the data to have significantly changed. In today's hyper-privacy-obsessed world, I think less people would be fine with having their IPs logged, unless they're just vandalising. – SD0001 (talk) 16:09, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    Also - it was harder to get onto the internet back then -- smartphones didn't exist, and that acted as a filter for childish behavior like vandalism. Now any random person could just hop onto Wikipedia on their phone and make disruptive edits. -- Rockstone[Send me a message!] 01:48, 12 June 2021 (UTC)
    Actually, running this analysis again shouldn't be too hard. Take a 3 minute interval of all edits and see which proportion of them are made by IP users and which proportion of those edits are good. Compare to registered users. Easy peasy. -- Rockstone[Send me a message!] 01:49, 12 June 2021 (UTC)
  • Uhh - if they're actually considering implementing this instead of just asking for suggestions, this is so incredibly shortsighted, I don't know what to say. I'm not sure how there's any legal impact to this, anyway. IP addresses are not private. They've NEVER been private. -- Rockstone[Send me a message!] 03:27, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I think the current form of IP masking that is to be implemented would turn SPI and AIV work into a logistical nightmare because the current plans for IP masking is that it would direct registered users with access to IPs, wishing to report unregistered editing on SPI and AIV to private mailing lists such as the info-en-v OTRS queue (in a similar way to how presently ArbCom deals with private evidence). As a result, my prediction is that we would see a substantial rise in emails sent to those OTRS queues compared to what the OTRS teams currently deal with.

    The worst thing about it all is that the WMF hasn't come up with a credible-enough reason that would allow IP masking to be implemented in the way that they are hoping to achieve, and for the reasons I have mentioned earlier, would give rise for the enwiki community to implement sweeping changes to WP:OUTING which would make it easier for someone to get blocked from editing for simply disclosing an IP on-wiki. While I believe that someday IP masking will be implemented in one form or another, the implementation of IP masking on WMF projects should be deferred until the WMF can provide a satisfactory explanation for needing IP masking that would generate enough support from the Wikimedia community at large. Hx7 08:24, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • +1 to outright banning IP editing. Now is the time. – SD0001 (talk) 10:52, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I'm as "anyone can edit" as they come, but if the choice is "ban IP editing" or "some complicated mess", banning IP editing gets my vote. —Kusma (talk) 11:06, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • Depiction of Wikipedia Foundation Wikimedia Foundation destroying Wikipedia with the Fram ban, IP masking, and the 2020 rebrand instead of making obvious but boring improvements to what we have. —pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 13:27, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    I would support a ban on all IP editing, effective right after this change is rolled out to enwiki. The ban would be lifted if the WMF changes their mind. It's disappointing, but in light of the WMF's opacity/stubbornness, it's the only option we have if we don't want to open Wikipedia to floods of vandalism/abuse. —pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 13:27, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I sort of agree with WMF Legal's stance, but for slightly different reasons - no other major websites publicly log IPs to the outside world like we do anymore, and privacy laws are catching up. I would personally support disabling IP editing on all namespaces except main. I'm just slightly reluctant to go for complete disabling because I appreciate the argument that you shouldn't need to fill out forms in triplicate to fix a typo, but the way other sides solve this is by having a "log in from Google" or "log in from Facebook" option, which takes a couple of seconds. Now, we can argue about the pros and cons of that method until the cows come home, but remember that option isn't for us - we've already got accounts registered here - it's for the casual editor who wants to change "teh" to "the" on some article somewhere and couldn't give a flying monkeys about what the Wikipedia Adventure is. A general relaxation of when to semi-protect may be the answer as well. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 13:58, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
  • Thinking a bit more about this I am getting more and more convinced that this will do nothing to increase privacy and may well reduce it. Every web site that you visit knows your IP address - that's simply the way that the Internet Protocol works - so no amount of masking or anything else will prevent you from revealing it. Introducing measures such as masking may well lead to people thinking that they are not revealing it when this is not the case. We should be educating people that every time they visit a web site they are revealing something about themselves, rather than trying to convince them that they are protecting their privacy when they visit Google or Facebook or a political blog or a porn site or Wikipedia or whatever. Phil Bridger (talk) 19:32, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    Phil Bridger, Actually, "no amount of masking or anything else will prevent you from revealing [your IP address]" is incorrect. See WP:PROXY.
    But, that's not my main concern here. I'm mostly wearing my SPI Clerk's fez and looking at how an already difficult task will be made even more difficult. Even if the full IP information is still visible to authorized users via some new tool, it's another level of complexity to an already complex job. We're already losing the war. This will just be one more thing on their side of the balance. -- RoySmith (talk) 20:37, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    If you are using a proxy then you reveal your IP address to the proxy. If you want any response to anything you have to reveal it to someone, or it simply doesn't get back to you. Phil Bridger (talk) 20:41, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    I find that a shortsighted take. There used to be a time, where 'the internet' knew all the sites you came from and went to, all traffic went unsecured over the line etc, and XSS and CSRF issues were the default. .Those are all holes that have been mostly closed. I find it incredibly logical that IP information is being hidden more and more, esp from other visitors of that website. Educate ? ppl don't even read the ToS, and you are going to explain what an IP address is and its privacy implications are to that 99.9% of the masses that didn't used to be online when you yourself were first introduced to the Internet ? For the masses, the Internet is no more than a utility to complete their goal. It's exactly that the technology sector is caring more and more about protecting the privacy of the masses that they still have any privacy left. Some divisions of Google and Facebook might have be dragged into that new reality kicking and screaming, it's undeniable that it is happening and has been happening for years. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 20:51, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    I'm not entirely sure why this is Wikipedia's problem. We assume that editors are competent enough to realize that their IP is revealed when they make edits unregistered. -- Rockstone[Send me a message!] 23:30, 11 June 2021 (UTC)
    But why, because it's a completely invalid assumption (and we've known that for a long time). Things change all the time. Blocking all anonymous edits or applying IP masking makes much more sense. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 14:47, 12 June 2021 (UTC)
  • Can I push the people commenting here to comment on the IP:Masking talk page - viewpoints here don't necessarily get read by the relevant people Nosebagbear (talk) 01:17, 12 June 2021 (UTC)
  • It would be interesting to learn more about the impact of IP editing ban on Portuguese Wikipedia. It looks like early after the implementation, vandalism decreased dramatically and daily account creation almost doubled. Also, if we ever get to that point, we would need to coordinate it with the WMF. If this is done through edit filters or range blocks, WP:THEYCANTHEARYOU will ensure that unregistered users on mobile apps will have no clue about what's going on. MarioGom (talk) 17:58, 13 June 2021 (UTC)
    I'd also love to hear about the effect on ptwiki checkuser workload. —Kusma (talk) 18:43, 13 June 2021 (UTC)
    MarioGom, Johan (WMF) is working on compiling that and will be presenting it "in the near future", but I don't know what the exact schedule is. If you're interested in the data, you should add meta:IP Editing: Privacy Enhancement and Abuse Mitigation#Data on Portugese Wikipedia disabling IP edits to your watchlist. -- RoySmith (talk) 18:52, 13 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I know this goes against the idea of the "encyclopedia anyone can edit" but the time's come to end IP editing. Things have changed in the time Wikipedia has been around, and at this point, creating an account needs to be the way to go. Will we lose a few editors due to this? Most likely yes. How many of those will be productive though? Any other site I go to at this point, in order to edit, or post a comment, etc. I need an account. It's time we go that way as well. RickinBaltimore (talk) 12:08, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
  • This is a ludicrous idea, and the only responsible thing to do now in order to protect the encyclopaedia and good-faith editors is to ban all IP editing. That or we just give up and let the vandals have their playground. DuncanHill (talk) 13:57, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I agree with WMF Legal's stance. The reality is that the status quo with publicly logged IPs to all is not really acceptable. Don't really mind whether IP editing stays or goes, but I note that it's really not difficult to register an account here, and if IP editing is disabled then who's to say the problem editors wont just create tons of accounts which are even harder to link together? Pretty indifferent about banning IP editing as a result, but the data from ptwiki (I think?) seems good, and arguably it'll stop the "wanna make this bad edit, but too lazy to register" variety of edits. Arguably IP editing is now a bit archaic and more problem than it's worth. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 14:02, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
    That said, it would be nice to know why people think this specific plan is bad. It seemed fine to me. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 14:07, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
    ProcrastinatingReader, I'm looking at this mostly from the point of view of a SPI clerk and a tool developer. This plan obscures information, which means it will make both of those jobs harder. Yes, the information will still be available via a WMF-supplied tool, but that adds another level of complexity to the job of investigating a SPI case.
    It will certainly make it more difficult to build automations of various kinds, and make people more dependent on WMF to add features to their tool rather than just rolling our own. I mean no disrespect to the WMF developers, but their time is limited and WMF priorities don't always line up perfectly with the priorities of enwiki editors. Any time you hide information behind a layer of access control, it adds complexity.
    If the goal is to prevent an editor's full IP address from being publicly visible, making it impossible to edit anonymously meets that goal.
    You asked a legitimate question; I hope I provided a useful answer. There's no doubt that a lot of the comments above reflect a "I hate the WMF and everything they do" mentality, which is sad. That's not where I'm coming from. -- RoySmith (talk) 15:18, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
    If WMF creates permissive API endpoints that provide the raw data, that would alleviate this issue, right? Then developers could create userscripts to use the data in different ways, possibly up to the point of reversing the effects of the masking entirely? (for users who have the required permissions) ProcSock (talk) 15:37, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
    If too many users have the permission, this is likely going to cause IP masking data to leak. Don't know if that is a problem, but this is why I don't expect things to be as easy to use as now. —Kusma (talk) 15:56, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
    ProcSock, To some extent, yes. That would eliminate the need to get WMF developers to update their tool. But it would still be added work on our part. And the set of people with the technical skills to access an authenticated API is smaller than the set of people with the technical skills to grab the text from a wiki page and parse it with whatever local tools they have. Also, SPI clerks often have conversations along the lines of, "I see X, Y, and Z IPs in the archives. To cover that range, it would take blocking the /25, but I'm thinking I'll just block the /28 since that seems to cover the recent activity". It would no longer be possible to have conversations like that in the public forum of SPI. -- RoySmith (talk) 16:03, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
  • I'd say that the best route to protect the project in this case is going to be to disable IP editing in response. !ɘM γɿɘυϘ⅃ϘƧ 17:54, 14 June 2021 (UTC)
  • So as someone who is currently unsure on the logical response re IP-editing remaining, I would highlight a couple of significant negatives: one is that it's not so much the direct positive editing from IP editors that is beneficial. It's the longer-term conversion to registered productive editors that's valuable. Many of us made our initial edits as an IP. The question that none of us can truly know, and it would take at least a year to have any real idea, is what % of that group would have just directly registered accounts. A fairly small difference makes a big impact on the weight of that prong. The other is that banning IP-edits would drive up the number of CU requests. A lot. We already have less coverage than we'd like and it's not something we can just choose to fix without issue. Nosebagbear (talk) 20:10, 14 June 2021 (UTC)