Engine room/2013

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A Water Cooler for members only?

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

It has been suggested several times above that it would be useful to set up a 'private' water cooler, for members of the charity only, where members can speak openly and raise issues that are perhaps best not discussed in an entirely open forum. I am myself in two minds about that, and it would be good to have a discussion here. As I see it, there are pros and cons:


  • There is nowhere else that members can discuss private issues of interest, nor internal or contentious issues that may not be easy to discuss openly in public. Having to ring the office is not always a good solution for a member who would like to start a quiet discussion.
  • Members with concerns would be able to raise issues without contributing to what otherwise - to uninvolved readers - can easily come over as 'washing dirty linen in public' or 'navel-gazing'. Doing everything on a public forum can easily give the incorrect impression that the charity is more concerned about internal in-fighting than actually getting on with its mission.


  • Transparency is part of the charity's mission, and we should not keep things confidential unless there are very good reasons to do so.
  • The very existence of a closed discussion forum could and probably would generate suspicion, and provide fuel for conspiracy theories.
  • Users with critical views to express may well not want them kept0 confidential, and may prefer to have an open discussion in a forum (here or elsewhere) where they might hope to garner non-member support. That could largely undermine the purpose of having a confidential forum.

I am sure there are more issues that I have not thought of. Comments and discussion would be welcome. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:21, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

We have long experience of closed wikis, they tend to be used rarely and only by small numbers of the groups they are intended for. If you consider the closed WMUK Board wiki, the closed OTRS wiki and the closed Chapters wiki as examples, they tend to be used as places to dump reference material, none is a good place to discuss any issue and are likely to disenfranchise those that are less wiki-passionate, in fact related open email lists tend to be far more popular. I'm not against an experiment, even if openness is at the heart of the WMUK values, however my expectation would be that few of the 220 members would join (after all only an average of 20 members ever write here) and even fewer would use it for anything. If we increase membership (the target for 2014 being 400), I would expect an even lower proportion to engage in closed wikis or closed email lists.
If the incentive here is to close down discussion of topics such as entryism for this charity, it should be noted that the board of trustees openly published minutes of their vote and discussion on this issue of membership verification. The general way membership functions or fails to function correctly for a public charity, should be a matter of public record as it is of distinct public interest. I struggle to think of any topic that would be of genuine interest to members that should not be discussed publicly that would not create equivalent problems if encouraged to be discussed on a closed forum, for example suspected instances of financial fraud or defamatory allegations that should not be made in any written forum. Especially in the light of the fact that members are effectively anonymous, and we would have no way of stopping any member copying discussions back into an open forum, nor could we take any legal action in such circumstances unless it were a criminal matter or libel. -- (talk) 19:16, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
No 'incentive' here from my perspective. I opened the thread as it is an idea that Philafrenzy has suggested several times, and it seems at the very least to merit discussion. But there are quite clearly serious 'cons'. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 20:11, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I will give a fuller reply later but may I point out that it is hardly my original idea Michael. The chapter, and Jon in particular, have been worried for a long time about how the water cooler appears to the rest of the world including potential members and trustees, and I think several people including trustees and Jon have asked whether things raised here could have been raised in private. I am just stating the obvious which is that if this is too public, the only logical response is to make it more private. Philafrenzy (talk) 23:40, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for raising this, Michael. At the moment I would tend towards "no", for two reasons;

  • It is useful and possibly important to have non-members looking at, and participating in, the kinds of issues that members discuss. For instance - a Wikimedian who's never quite got around to joining might see something that interested them, and add some useful comments, and then get more involved. Also, there are some people who have valuable input but have reasons for not joining: for instance because of professional reasons, or because they don't want to compromise their anonymity.
  • Any shared space is vulnerable to abuse: if the frequency of negative interaction increases too much, people will start to avoid it and find other places to have conversations. This problem is worse in closed spaces which have fewer users. There was an example of this recently on a Wikimedia Foundation email list called internal-l, which used to include many Foundation staff and board members, chapter board members, and the like. Sadly, it became dominated by a couple of people sending shouty emails, a bunch of people unsubscribed, and it's now scarcely used. In general, more interaction, more positive interaction, and more community regulation of the shared space is more likely to make it successful, and these things are on the whole easier in the open.

But it would certainly be worth hearing more thoughts on this. The Land (talk) 08:29, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

Some good points there, and in conjunction with Fae's point about the probable lack of engagement with such a forum I am also tending towards "no". More comments would be welcome, though. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:12, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Clearly there are major disadvantages in protecting this page in some way or making it member only and I don't think that two water coolers would work or be necessary. There remains, however, a reason for having a page, perhaps little used, where members only may raise matters that are not suitable for a public forum and which need to be raised in writing with the membership as a whole in a confidential way. I acknowledge the point that such confidentiality is easily broken but that is not an argument for not having such a page.
The page could act as a sort of safety valve that would allow members to "whistle blow" to other members and act as an early warning mechanism for the board that there may be something that demands their immediate attention. It would also give members a choice, which they do not have at present, of how they raise matters with the chapter and the membership and remove the excuse that there was no alternative but to post here. I acknowledge the possible anti-democratic implications of, for instance, having important debates such as about CIPR there rather than here but it is desirable, I think, that members should be able to communicate with each other in writing and in private without having to go through an intermediary on the board or the staff, as we are currently encouraged to do. It is irrelevant that such a page may be little used. It ought to exist for its own sake, much like the emergency brake on a train. Philafrenzy (talk) 14:16, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Change is required

The Water cooler had many uses, not the least of which showing me that tilde is not spelt like a 70's instant curry! Moving to a private space is not the answer but we need to think hard about how it is or is not functioning.
It is not attracting more than 20 people. That cannot be good. It is uspetting people. That is certainly not good. Despite all the news of good initiatives and opportunities its content tends to be dominated by 'navel gazing'. Even I struggle to understand the nuances of some of the discussions. This IS our public forum after all and perhaps we should make more of an effort to be accessible? I would argue that it is far too introspective. From my observations much of the vibrant dialogue on the community happens on facebook (crosses himself lest the devil takes his open source soul). The watercooler has little levity or humour or lightness of touch. There is often a distinct lack of AGF. One of my staff fears looking at it and told me so this morning. Should I ban staff from using it? That would be so sad. How can we make it more interesting and accessible? We share a lot of brickbats and not enough barnstars on the Watercooler. As one ex-trustee once told me ' we are an organsiation that hasn't learnt to say thank you" Could the Watercooler be part of a change in this culture?
I would like to see a watercooler where my member of staff logged on every morning with enthusiasm hoping to learn more about what people were thinking and feeling ready to contribute knowing people would be polite and even kind to them. I don't think this is impossible.
Tilde time Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 20:17, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
I somewhat agree with Jon here, particularly when it comes to not moving to a private space, and also when it comes to people fearing to look at this page. :-( This should be a place where everyone can discuss WMUK in a pleasant manner, without aiming to upset anyone. At the same time, though, everyone should be able to honestly and openly express and explain their viewpoints here. I think that introspection is a really important aspect of this - and I'm really disappointed to hear that there is dialogue taking place on facebook, since that excludes a lot of people (including myself since I only participate in personal conversations there!) Levity and humour doesn't necessarily need to be here, although I would hope that this would happen naturally where things are going well. I'm not sure what 'brickbats' means (since enwp also doesn't know this term), and barnstars belong on user pages rather than this page, but it would be good to see more barnstar-worthy comments left here. I'm rather saddened by Jon's last line, though, as it really should be *our* members of staff rather than Jon's. :-( Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:31, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't want to put words in his mouth but I think Jon feels protective of the staff Mike, and that their efforts are under-appreciated and meet only with criticism. I understand why he might feel that way. Philafrenzy (talk) 21:42, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
In some ways I agree with Jon here, but I also feel he is also using polarising language: Should the CEO be either commanding staff to use the Watercooler, or banning them from using it. Could not they be given discretion as to how to handle whatever situations arise as they arise? And isn't it the tensions which surface on the Watercooler which upset people, rather than the water cooler itself. Yes, it is a public forum, but not a platform for WMUK to advertise itself. For myself I think one area where clarity would be useful is that I feel we need a clear distinction between Wikipedia/Wikimedia communities, and WMUK which is a firm. In fact they are like chalk and cheese, and whenever they are turned into an amalgam, it will generate problems. When I edit Wikipedia, I am not a "volunteer" so much as an "amateur" (I really dislike the way "professionalism" has come to imply a superior quality of performance, when this is so often far from the case.) When I edit are participate in what Yochai Benkler calls Commons-based peer production. However when I volunteer for Wikimedia UK, I am functioning as an unpaid member of a firm, donating my labour because I wish to contribute to the shared goals of the organisation. Now I realise this all getting somewhat theoretical, but it is my view that this is the only way to develop a way of coping with what I regard as inevitable tensions. Let's see! Leutha (talk) 22:25, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Splitting the Watercooler

(after edit conflict with Leutha and Philafrenzy) Wiktionary is more illuminating about what a brickbat is, possibly it could be more so but it is a start. The second sense is the one being used here.
As to the substance of the comment, I can understand why someone may not like reading this page. Far too often I'm seeing comments that read as if they are based on the assumption that the staff and/or trustees are bad, wrong and out to deliberately destroy the charity. Not a single one of the WMUK people I've met (at least two trustees and most of the office staff I think) has been anything of the sort and such attitudes should have no place on any Wikimedia-related project. If staff are frightened to come here how can we hope to attract volunteers?
Linking to Wiktionary has given me an idea for a possible way forward that might be a step in the right direction to fix this problem. At the English Wiktionary there are multiple central discussion spaces, all equally public, but each with their own purpose:
  • An Information desk, similar to the Help desk at the English Wikipedia. For minor problems, help and queries
  • The Tea Room, and Etymology scriptorium which deal with queries about specific words and etymology (not dissimilar to the en.wp Reference desks).
  • The Beer parlour is where policy discussions happen; and
  • The Grease pit is where technical requests, discussions and development happens.
I get the feeling that here the Water cooler is trying to be all of them, and isn't doing a good job of it. We don't need 5 spaces, we're not that big. So can I suggest the following reorganisation (but maybe with better names):
  • Water Cooler (or maybe Lobby or Pub it wants an image change): A place that focuses on being an open and welcoming space for informal light-hearted discussion among everybody. The welcoming public face that we show the world. The atmosphere should be as friendly and welcoming as the office is.
  • Break room: For discussions about internal matters that are not relevant to the world at large. While anyone is welcome to come and join in, it isn't thrust in their faces if they aren't interested. This should still have a welcoming atmosphere, but needn't necessarily be as jovial as the main area.
  • Technical lounge (if needed): For technical requests and queries about the wiki. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 22:30, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Since the discussions here are discursive, and making any of them private seems to be off the menu, how will we ensure appropriate use of the pages? Won't it just lead to discussions spread over three pages? Philafrenzy (talk) 22:49, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not even sure we need that many options: just one for "Governance and Membership" and one for "Events and Endeavours": that is, one where we discuss "serious, dull" issues, and one where we discuss "charitable, fun" issues - or similar. Just a thought! Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 23:34, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Richard, as frequently happens an idea of mine is improved by simplification! Thanks!
Philarenzy, all it needs is someone to split threads when tangents arise. More thread discipline wouldn't go amiss regardless of what we do. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 23:39, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
Cat herding? Philafrenzy (talk) 23:44, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
I like the idea of "Governance and Membership" and "Events and Endeavours" spaces. The first is essentially internal-facing, the second external. What we need are two short, snappy names for them. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:11, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

A lovely discussion full of good ideas and faith - thanks. Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 11:17, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

So, could we have some suggestions for short, snappy names for the proposed "Governance and Membership" and "Events and Endeavours" spaces? --MichaelMaggs (talk) 11:51, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

This is a proposal for the renaming of the Water Cooler and the creation of a new public facing page if I understand it correctly. I am not sure about names but where will each page be positioned in the navigation? Philafrenzy (talk) 15:29, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
If by "the navigation" you mean the sidebar on the left, then I'd suggest the "Events and endeavours" page takes the Water cooler's spot at the top of the "wiki" section with the "Governance and Membership page" appearing on the line below. Alternatively the public facing page could move to the "participate" section (either at the top, or after Events, Join us or Volunteer) and the inward-facing page would take a spot in the "Organisation" section (probably after either People or Board meetings). I think there would also be benefit in adding linking both pages from the "Get involved" section on the main page.
As for names, "Smoky back room" comes to mind for the membership page but that's completely inappropriate! "The pub" might work for the public page, but I'm in two minds about that. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 17:26, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
This discussion seems to have morphed from making the Water cooler members only to changing its name and possibly changing its position too. I acknowledge the sometimes fractious nature of the debate but I am not sure that there is consensus to do either right now. Under "Participate" we have events, join us and volunteer which seem eminently useful pages and where I would go first if I was new. I actually wouldn't head to Water cooler first because it is not a term in everyday use in the UK. And if visitors are going there and being put-off participating (for which we have not seen the evidence) it may only because they are seeing us as we really are. Philafrenzy (talk) 14:20, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I've added a couple of section headers to try and clarify that this discussion is about splitting the present Water cooler page into two separate spaces, one friendly and welcoming to everyone that focuses on public-facing things; the other for internal-facing discussions of governance and membership that is open to all but primarily of interest to members. Obviously that should be friendly too, but there will sometimes be reason to be harder and more interrogative which can be offputting. The names issue is purely because we cannot have two pages both called "Water cooler" and so we need a new name for at least one of the pages. The only person to bring up changing position is you - based on your comment I floated an idea, which may be the best thing since sliced bread, the worst idea in the history of the world or anywhere in between. With exactly zero feedback on it I can't say. Your point today that the name and change of position may not be independent isn't something I'd previously thought of. A sidebar link saying something like "discuss at [the Water cooler]" or "Talk with us (at [the Water cooler])" may or may not help (I've given it only a few seconds thought). The split isn't dependent on the change of name of course - temporary names can be used until we come up with something better.
As for what there is consensus for, I'd say that there is consensus that the status quo needs changing, and of the possibilities for change splitting has the most support and seemingly meets with the approval of Jon, who was the person who noted the issue with the member of staff having problems with this place (it seems that this is not a safe space (for a reason that is likely confidential)). I don't know whether Jon has discussed the splitting proposal with that member of staff (I'm not sure whether it is appropriate for us to know that or not?), but if they have and both Jon and that staff member think it would help (or would at least be worth trying) then in my opinion it should be done. If something within the control of the Chief Exec is preventing the charity from getting the full value from a member of staff then I want him to do what he can to improve the situation as doing otherwise is wasting the charity's money. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 16:12, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, but I am unclear how renaming this page (and/or moving it) or creating a new public facing page (we already have several good ones) will make anyone feel any more comfortable. Won't it just be the same people posting the same things? Unless you vary posting rights and/or access in some way, which has been rejected, then you essentially have the same participants as you do now. I don't want to be defeatist about it but I think the problem, to the extent there is one, relates to the conduct of individuals and no amount of messing around with the pages will change that. We also need to be very careful not to further reduce member discussion of the activities of the chapter even if occasionally it might result in bruised egos. Can we have more details please of how the new arrangements will make the staff feel safer reading or commenting here, or is the idea that the staff will not be expected to post on or read the new Water cooler? Philafrenzy (talk) 19:23, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
The basic premise underlying the proposal is that there are two sorts of topics discussed here, for ease of reference only I'll call them A and B. Type A topics are the ones about events, activities, workshops, etc, These are the ones that most interest non-members and new members, and the discussion around them is generally positive and friendly. Type B topics are the ones which discuss membership, governance and similar things - including this thread. They are typically less interesting to non-members, but it is around these sorts of topics that the ill feeling happens (and I agree it's only a small number of individuals responsible in almost all cases). This navel gazing and intemperateness is not welcoming to newcomers and outsiders.
Based on this premise, my theory (and it is just that) is that if we split the Water Cooler into Space A and Space B then things will improve. By becoming more welcoming to everyone, Space A will draw more people in (everybody wants this) and it will be a non-toxic environment to which staff, members and everyone feel welcome in. This should lead to more input into everything and hopefully more members. Space B will not be fixed by this proposal alone, but it should be less contaminating. With more people becoming members then that should lead to more discussion - once people are comfortable that is. I am unusual in being prepared to jump right in to a policy discussion and not be afraid to offer suggestions, even when the environment is hostile. Sensible newcomers would run for the hills.
My intention is most definitely not to reduce member commenting, indeed exactly the opposite. I hope that is what will happen anyway - I have no evidence. Nobody has presented any evidence to the contrary though, nor any better alternatives, and something needs to be done. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 22:44, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
The issue was discussed at the Board in December and we are looking for a consensual solution. Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:47, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Could you clarify what you mean by that please? Is the board looking for a solution that has the consensus of the board? of the community? If the latter it is presumably the case that the idea of splitting proposed here has been judged not to have consensus (yet?)? If so are alternatives being looked at by the board? By a staff member? or are the community being asked to look for other options? Have I got the wrong end of the stick entirely? Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 10:58, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
There clearly is not consensus here about splitting, which would have various disadvantages and the main advantage, apparently, only that everyone will be nicer afterwards, despite all the same people being involved. (I have made a proposal for a separate, probably little used, whistle-blowing page with different rules.) I am not convinced that there is even a "problem" requiring a "solution", or at least one that can be achieved by creating new pages. Would this discussion even be happening if all the comments were flattering about WMUK and the board? I don't think so. This page is the only place where members can have their say, in public, in real time, between AGMs. One could argue that the fact that a number of people, principally those on the official side, wish to dispose of or neuter this page is evidence that it is valuable. I think the board and Jon should just accept the fact that although this page is sometimes fractious, it is an essential component of the democratic processes of the chapter which are already weak and we tamper with it at the risk of leaving the only way to raise matters as being in an EGM with all the disruption that involves. Philafrenzy (talk) 11:46, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
If this page were just a space for praise of wmuk/board not constructive discussion I think we'd rightly be worried about that. That we have members reluctant to engage here at the moment should be a major concern both with respect to trying to create a positive working environment (and a space that doesn't put off potential new members) and in terms of democratic deficit. There is no proposal to remove a space for critical discussion, the issue is around how to maximise effective discussion; the proposal to create more discussion pages is targeted at aiding that. Sjgknight (talk) 11:53, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Please define "effective discussion". This page seems quite effective to me in raising issues that get no airing elsewhere. I could give a list but we all know what they are. It's in the nature of democratic debate to be at times unpleasant and bruising. I see no way round that. Philafrenzy (talk) 12:19, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
I, and others, have described what is meant above. It is not an effective discussion when many do not feel welcome to take part, this leads to a twofold democratic deficit firstly around recruitment and secondly around the ability of members to take part in discussion. It stifles voices - a concern we both share - and is largely unnecessary, despite what you seem to be suggesting. I disagree with many of my colleagues on a good many things, but our discussion is not unpleasant or bruising; e.g. you don't have to punch someone in the face to restrain them. Sjgknight (talk) 13:41, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Indeed you don't, but the ability to say something that other people are going to find uncomfortable to hear is one end of the spectrum of democratic debate and not one that any vigorous democracy can exist without, but I sense that we are repeating ourselves now. Is there any actual evidence that people are deterred from membership or participation and how would splitting fix this? It seems to me that this is a problem of the conduct of individuals, if indeed it is a real problem at all, and therefore you need to change the conduct of those individuals. Since there are no sanctions that can be imposed and no agreement as to what is acceptable conduct or otherwise, that may be impossible. Philafrenzy (talk) 14:03, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Is there any evidence - yes. Will splitting wc help - unsure, but worth a try. Yes I agree sanctions & acceptable conduct code (I think there actually is one) are other options but there again we'd need some consensus and scope for difficulties is high. I think we largely agree on other matters and as you say are just repeating now, hope this helped clarify in any case (even if you are still somewhat unconvinced by the solution) Sjgknight (talk) 14:07, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
(unindent) If there has to be a split (I'm not entirely convinced that there does), then I'd recommend going along the same lines as Wikipedia:Village pump - have multiple water coolers focused on different topics, with this page acting as a landing/disambig page. Perhaps Water cooler (activities) and Water cooler (governance)? Maybe also with a Water cooler (miscellaneous). Any more than three pages would probably be too much of a split at this point, though. Some sort of code-of-conduct along the lines of Participation policy could work (as it stands, that page talks about 'activities', but this page isn't really an 'activity' hence the need for adaption here), but given the past types of discussion here I suspect it would result in "toeing the line" behaviour rather than actually solving any problems. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:39, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks again for the thought people have put into this. We must never lose our ability to debate the issues and be critical when necessary. The question is where and I am convinced the WaterCooler, one of our windows to new people is not the best place and has ceased to be a place for a refreshing drink and chat as intended. Rightly contributors ask for evidence and I will do my best.
I think there are three pieces of evidence that we need to think again about how Watercooler works. The first is that out of 240 members and 102 active volunteers less than 20 people post on the Watercooler. I checked through the last 100 edits (not very scientific I know) and 65 of the edits came from four of the fifteen users. Five of the users were staff.
Secondly although I have described how some staff are genuinely upset by posting there owing to the nature of what they see as personal attacks but mostly because they feel it presents an overly inward and negative looking view of WMUK this would not be reason enough to make changes but should be taken into account
Thirdly I would point to the member's survey. To be anonymised and published on-wiki in the New Year when the volunteer doing it has safely moved house. There were no positive comments about the Water Coller but look at the answers that relate to the watercooler to the question:
Please can you describe any negative experiences as a member? How can this be improved?
I have never written anything on the water cooler, but reading the occasional rather destructive conversations would not encourage me to do so. If that was my only, or initial experience of WMUK I would not want to be part of it. Sadly, it sometimes gives a very negative and off-putting view of WMUK.
Negative environment online. No way to communicate with staff or other volunteers due to hostile nature of discussions.
I do not enjoy that some members of the community are rude. I also do not like that no action is taken to restrain this rudeness. I feel it disencourages others from getting involed.
Other volunteers airing the chapter's dirty laundry in public fora
Only on Wikipedia and Water Cooler, the latter should be banned!
The conduct of a couple of users on the wiki is offputting, perhaps someone independent acting in a moderatorial role would help (needs more thought though).
Hostile atmosphere in discussions
Negative interaction on cooler/mailing list
There's way too much negativity. Compliments and praise - whether to other volunteers, staff or trustees - is whispered very quietly while criticism is done at a roar
Some of the volunteers are negative, carping, whiny types. I'm not sure what's to be done about this, but it is a very big turn-off, and participating in discussions with those people does not appeal at all.
Some very negative members put me off getting involved.
I would feel much happier if there wasn't so much negativity about everything. There are one or two members whose negative behaviour and at times blank hostility to everything, especially staff, which is extremely disruptive.
Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 11:11, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

A few immediate thoughts Jon:

  • Yes, the last 100 edits is not very scientific as it only covers five days, but in those days fifteen different users contributed. That seems quite good actually given the short time span and small membership. It would be interesting to know what proportion of members contributed over 30 and 365 days.
  • I don't think anyone has any sound basis for saying that this page is for one purpose or another, it is free-form and created by those who choose to contribute. Clearly contributors are taking the trouble to write here in their free time, without pay and on subjects they feel are important. If that was not the case there would be nothing on the page, but it seems to fill up fairly quickly.
  • You can't control what people choose to post about and inevitably a lot of that is going to be inward looking.
  • The comments about the negativity are absolutely typical of what is found in every survey of the public about any kind of political debate. "It's too negative" "Why can't they all get along" etc. If the complaint is about specific individuals then you need to have the courage to tackle those individuals. Don't stifle everyone else's right to speak because of the behaviour of one or two people.
  • As ever with democratic debate, the answer is not less engagement but more. If you don't like your local Councillor get involved, vote them out or stand yourself. In this case, those who don't or rarely participate should get involved and change this page to what they want it to be. Anyone can contribute here and I hope they will. Philafrenzy (talk) 12:27, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

I would like to highlight my discomfort as a trustee the last time that a survey was used to assess member feedback on staff performance. The results were significantly biased due to the number of staff members taking part and expressing opinions on topics related to their own performance in comparison to the numbers of members that took part in the survey. For this reason the board of trustees at the time pretty much discounted the survey on strategy when it came to issues of judging staff performance, even though publicly this was counted as an indicator of successful performance. If Jon's list of quotes above are to be taken as evidence, those from employees and board members should be highlighted so that we can judge how much this influences the feedback.

It should also be noted that the question asked is only canvassing for negative opinions, that the result is a list of negative opinions is no surprise. Thanks -- (talk) 12:38, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

The follow up question was 'Can you talk about positive experiences'. No one mentioned the Watercooler. Also, I doubt all these comments came from staff but I'm troubled that if staff feedback the above that wouldn't be taken seriously as well. Katherine Bavage (WMUK) (talk)
(ec) Wikimedia UK employees do an excellent job, especially Katherine. I would appreciate a link to where the answers to positive experiences are published.
I would be troubled if staff feedback were not taken seriously, indeed I would be troubled if my comments here were portrayed in a way that made it seem that I said anything of this kind. A concern for bias, is not the same thing as throwing away feedback. Until now I have not felt the need to caveat my comments with a prefix and suffix saying positive things about WMUK employees, perhaps that was a mistake. If we do have to start treating comments on the watercooler as a PR opportunity, or worry that any comment may be taken out of context and need to consider how to write it defensively on the assumption that it will be read in bad faith, then I rather wonder what the point of having a public wiki is, as it will start to seem falsely described as an open forum.
I continue to be concerned that we do not know how many of the above comments were from board members or employees and which were from members who are neither board members nor employees.
I look forward to more feedback from Wikimedia UK employees on this water cooler, and I encourage members to say positive things about employees, especially during fundraising/holiday season. Thanks -- (talk) 15:27, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I refer you to my previous posts Sjgknight (talk) 15:34, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, could you provide a link to where the comments are split so we can tell which are from non-board members and non-employees? Thanks -- (talk) 15:38, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand the question. I assume good faith, but can I suggest 'show preview' is a better means to ensure the tone, content, form, etc. of your posts are appropriate over saving and re-editing. Sjgknight (talk) 15:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Hi Simon, thank you for assuming good faith and your tip about the preview button. Congratulations on being one of the co-opted trustees to fill the seats left by Mike and myself after our early resignations. I note we both have a connection with the OU.
Sorry my question is not comprehensible. I have carefully reviewed your previous comments in this thread, which you referred me to as an answer to my question, but nothing you have previously written was an answer, so there seems to be a disconnect here. Perhaps the best thing is to try rephrasing it, and hope that someone who knows more about the unpublished survey can provide an answer.
Above, it can be seen that Jon Davies has introduced selected comments from the recent survey of members, the ones that display in grey boxes in my browser, this is the first time these have been published. The survey results have yet to be provided to members. A survey was completed at the beginning of 2013 (I have not checked dates, so am going from memory) which was then used as evidence by Jon in his report to the board of trustees of the member satisfaction with the performance of the charity. Unfortunately due to the low number of members taking part in the survey, when the ratio of opinions from employees was compared to the total of opinions from members who were not employees, it became obvious that it was not sensible for the board to draw conclusions from the results; so we did not.
Until we know which of the 12 comments published by Jon above were from employees or board members, it is not possible judge how critical or representative these comments are in terms of the views of general members, rather than members who are employees or trustees.
Opinions from trustees and employees are highly valued and I am sure everyone wants to evaluate them as part of the survey, this is not any sort of suggestion that we would not. From a statistician's point of view, drawing conclusions from survey data like this is entirely dependent on understanding the sample space; in this case without understanding which feedback is from those who direct or are contracted by the charity and which are from those who are not, we can only speculate rather than draw meaningful conclusions.
Thanks to Jon for taking the bold step of publishing an extract from the survey so early. -- (talk) 06:47, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
The question isn't "who said these things", it's "is there a justifiable case for change". My previous comments reply to that issue. Your concern with the authorship of these specific statements is moot, if it needs talking about it can be done in a separate discussion. Sjgknight (talk) 09:37, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
I am not enthusiastic about creating another thread on this, if you think any one of your previous comments specifically addressed my question I would appreciate a link to it.
If the sample space must remain a complete secret, then no conclusion can be reliable. Thanks for sharing your views. -- (talk) 08:44, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Email notifications - configuration request

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

Please could someone with the relevant permissions change the configuration of the description of this wiki for email notification purposes.

Wiki From Subject line
en.wp Wikipedia <user> left you a message on Wikipedia
WMUK (current) MediaWiki Mail You have a new talkpage message
WMUK (better) Wikimedia UK <user> left you a message on the Wikimedia UK wiki

Thanks, Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 09:55, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Does anyone know where this table is? Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 13:05, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

ps: This message also triggered the new external link captcha and I'm puzzled about why? Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 09:55, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I get exactly the same problem even when there is no external link in my contribution. Philafrenzy (talk) 21:15, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I reckon it's the table that's triggering the captcha as I my edit adding one to the #FDC 2013-14 recommended funding for Wikimedia UK section required me to enter a captcha despite there being no new external links. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 12:43, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
But just adding a table in my userspace here didn't trigger it, so it's not as simple as that. Sorry. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 13:03, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I think the CAPTCHA applies to existing external links, as well as new ones. Chris, the links to your talk pages on other projects in your signature is probably what's triggering it. I suspect most people don't notice because a lot of the more active users on this wiki have admin rights; personally, I'd gladly give you both admin rights (I'm sure you can both be trusted not to break anything) but I'm not important enough to make that decision. Harry Mitchell (talk) 12:28, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Have given Thryduulf admin rights now. Thanks for the edit summary Harry - difficult to spot this otherwise! Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 12:56, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Cheers Richard. Harry it's more complicated than that as I wasn't getting a captcha for every edit I signed, but it's possibly some combination including that as I didn't sign the test edits in my userspace. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 13:21, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I *think* that this is determined by MediaWiki:Notification-edit-talk-page-email-subject2 using Echo (based on the code at [1]); I've just changed that so it uses Thryduulf's recommended message (based on the syntax at MediaWiki:Notification-edit-talk-page-email-subject2). Would anyone like to test this? If it doesn't work, then we need to find the right MediaWiki: namespace page to edit (or file a report on bugzilla). Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:51, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Thryduulf for sending me a test email. The email subject from that is defined by MediaWiki:Defemailsubject; it currently has a subject along the lines of "Wikimedia UK email from user "Thryduulf"". Does that need changing? It's a different variable than the one used for notification of a user talk page message, though.... Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:52, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

The talk page message notification is better but not quite right yet. It still comes from "MediaWiki Mail" and the subject is "$1 left you a message on the Wikimedia UK Wiki", so it's seemingly treating the variable as a literal for some reason. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 11:25, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Ah. I've changed it to read "A new message has been left for you on the Wikimedia UK wiki" for now, until the variable can be figured out. I'll send an email to the WMUK tech list to see if anyone there can figure this out better than I can. Also see [2]. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:58, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

CIPR publications

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

Just for the record, CIPR have released new social media guidance which specifically excludes Wikipedia for which members are referred to the 2012 booklet listed last. Links:

Philafrenzy (talk) 22:13, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

The guidance also links to other guides (e.g. their social media monitoring guide), so this is probably a case of conciseness rather than specific exclusion. Plus, Wikipedia isn't a social media website (although some people think it is), so shouldn't really be included in such a guide anyway. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:18, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting that they were wrong to exclude Wikipedia Mike, just noting the fact that they had and were directing people to the other brochure. Philafrenzy (talk) 21:45, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Ah, apologies for misunderstanding. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:58, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Considering that Wikimedia UK's name is on the guide, it is a great pity that the board of trustees refused to either issue the draft document, or withdraw it. Staying in limbo is an abdication of responsibility. -- (talk) 13:29, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Could you elaborate a little more by what you mean by "it is a great pity that the board of trustees refused to either issue the draft document, or withdraw it." ? Seddon (talk) 00:31, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
-- (talk) 11:49, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
Ahhh thanks for the links. Seddon (talk) 20:37, 16 December 2013 (UTC)


I find this very odd behaviour for trustees. What is going on? We have a WMUK Secretary who is also CEO of CIPR and therefore a paid advocate of the PR industry, apparently suppressing public comments from another trustee about WMUK's actions with regard to the partnership with CIPR, this is not what I would expect if it is important that Alastair is seen to be avoiding acting in affairs where he has a direct conflict of interest. -- (talk) 00:31, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

I think it's safe to assume it was an accident, don't you? Roll back's a twitchy feature, especially on mobile devices for example. I have restored Seddon's comment. Richard Nevell (WMUK) (talk) 08:59, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
I asked what was going on, a question that can be answered without being forced to make assumptions. When it comes to governance issues, assumptions are not good foundations. -- (talk) 09:40, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Then this is the second time in less than a week that I am going to have to remind you that assuming good faith should be second natured to seasoned Wikimedians. Your question came across as distinctly pointed. Richard Nevell (WMUK) (talk) 10:02, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Richard, Alastair hardly ever posts here and this was one of his rare edits that removed links to pages critical of WMUK relationship with CIPR, a subject he has said he would stay away from. Fae's question is entirely legitimate. If he hadn't asked it I would have and I am sure a number of other people noticed the change. Philafrenzy (talk) 12:34, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
The rollbacked edit didn't remove any links, it removed the latest edit on the page which said "Ahhh thanks for the links". Katie Chan (WMUK) (talk) 13:04, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
I stand corrected, but I am still wondering why as it is the first edit Alastair has made since 18 October. (Is that right? Can one be Secretary but inactive on this Wiki?) Philafrenzy (talk) 13:18, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Alastair is no longer the Secretary, in the way that Mike Peel was our Secretary, as this role has been fully delegated to the CEO and no longer exists separately on the board. Alastair has a title of "Secretary" on the board of trustees but I have seen no definition of what this means now that the legal definition is not applicable, it may well be an honorary title without any powers beyond a normal trustee. This is something that ought to be explained more clearly to the members if we are to be expected to understand these changes to the board structure, after we voted for the board members. By the way, both Mike and I would have firmly objected to this full delegation of the authority and responsibility of Company Secretary to the CEO, this was an initiative that became operational quite quickly after we both resigned. -- (talk) 14:07, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
I was aware of the fact that UK companies may now drop the role of Company Secretary. I think that has been widely done and makes sense since in all but the largest companies it is a meaningless job occupied usually by spouses or aged relatives of the proprietors, and I don't think there has ever been any requirement under company law to have a named Chairman (I might be wrong about that), but since WMUK is a membership organisation and says it has both a Chairman and Secretary then I would expect those jobs to have clearly defined duties within the organisation, even if neither role has any significance as far as Companies House is concerned. Philafrenzy (talk) 19:34, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
It's worth noting that the role of Company Secretary in WMUK is/was rather different from that you set out here. Certainly I never felt like a spouse or an aged relative of anyone (although I did once end up being profiled as the 'grandfather of WMUK'!), and we've never had 'proprietors'. The draft description at Board/Role_profiles#Secretary does need an update though (see below), as do the descriptions of the other roles of the board office bearers. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 23:27, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Well I know Mike, I was contrasting the role of Coy Sec in small owner-managed companies, which was why it was abolished as a huge waste of everyone's time, with the position here. Philafrenzy (talk) 23:39, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Ah, thanks for the clarification. This may make sense for small owner-managed companies, but I really don't think that it does for charities. :-( Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 00:12, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I am sure that Alastair can answer my simple question himself without relying on employees to field it for him. Thanks -- (talk) 12:31, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Hi I'm a bit perplexed by this discussion. I look at the water cooler most days and follow the discussions on various topics. I tend not to contribute but just follow the various points made. I have noted Fae's querying of the CIPR guidelines on Wikipedia but since I clearly have a conflict on interest in that matter I have not made any comment about it. I am surprised to see discussion around the fact that i have apparently edited someone else's contribution on this topic. I certainly have not consciously done so. I click on 'prev' and 'curr' to see what contributions people have made on different topics but that's it. I'm not sure how I have ended up rolling back some else's edit but if I have somehow done that I do apologise. I have been looking at the WC on my phone since losing my ipad 10 days ago and it is perhaps possible that this was a 'fat finger' error.Mccapra (talk) 23:11, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
OK, it's regrettable that it happened on that particular topic though isn't it and your first edit for a really long time, but stranger things have been known to happen. By the way, I can't help but suspect that the acronym WC is not accidental! Philafrenzy (talk) 23:39, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
This does definitely seem to be far too much talk about nothing/an accidental click. However, it has surfaced an important topic - what exactly is the role of Secretary nowadays? Board/Role_profiles#Secretary is now rather out of date, and could do with an update. However, as Fæ noted, the change in role here is definitely something that both him and me would have objected to. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 23:20, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Well I've looked back at the history and clearly I did edit this. Sorry about that Seddon! No idea how I managed to do that.Mccapra (talk) 23:35, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. I would be cautious about editing from any tablet or phone, wikis do not do this well. I have a rather complex work around in that my rollback links are shrunk to a hard to hit single character when on a mobile device, as the WMF does not seem to be prioritizing a better mobile interface, this is unlikely to improve for a while. -- (talk) 23:58, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I will indeed be much more cautious in future on my phone. I wasn't even intending to edit, just to read. Sorry to get everyone worried.Mccapra (talk) 11:21, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I think I've just seen how I did this. On some lines in the 'view history' tab the sentence is so long that it kicks 'undo' round off the end of the line and it sits underneath 'curr'. I think I hit 'undo' when I meant to hit 'curr'.
Have you tried the latest version of the mobile interface? The WMF have been investing quite a bit of work into it, and I've found it quite impressive so far (particularly with watchlists etc.), although it's a bit of a shame that it doesn't automatically work on tablets. Sadly, the Wikipedia app has really been left behind in terms of features over the last year or so. Also sadly, there still isn't a good way of commenting on discussion pages yet, although article page editing seems to be getting better nowadays. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 00:20, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
On the question of the role of the Secretary on the Board - it was established quite some time before I became a trustee that Board members were to move away from being operational and take on a more strategic role. This wasn't my decision but the decision of the Board previous to my election, and confirmed in the findings of the Hudson Review, which the previous Board accepted. I agreed with this direction, as I made clear in my election manifesto and at the AGM hustings. Shortly after I was elected, the Board noted that there is no longer a legal requirement to have Company Secretary, and the fairly limited formal duties which the CS use to undertake are in many charities in any case carried out by the CEO. This seemed a sensible approach to us and we agreed to it. The current roles of Chair, Treasurer and Secretary are not set out in formal job descriptions in WMUK. Some charities do define these roles and indeed require people to stand for election for specific roles. We might want to consider that but I don't have strong views about it myself. In general terms, the Secretary in most similar organisations has the lead responsibility on the Board for liaising with the secretariat to ensure that agendas and papers are properly prepared and circulated for meetings, proper minutes are kept, actions followed up, and business does not get lost between meetings. Secretaries are usually also the point of reference for questions about the conduct of meetings or matters relating to the constitution. That's what I do. Mccapra (talk) 23:30, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
I would have expected the role to extend to oversight of similar bureaucratic needs for committees with delegated powers. You may want to consider if these expectations for minutes, actions etc. extend to those groups or if they are free to operate differently. Certainly action tracking has remained pretty dismal with things easily lost over time and then resurrected when related risks turn into issues.
In terms of the need to define roles, with a large staff of 9, there is a need to have formal definitions, in particular to ensure that performance of the charity is reliably measured, that treasurer functions continue to be a high and reliable standard, and that the performance review of the CEO is done reliably and professionally even if it may adapt to the thoughts of each new Chairperson (who may change every year, if indeed this remains the Chair's responsibility). -- (talk) 23:58, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
I personally never expected the role to extend to the committees, whether they had delegated powers or not. Committees should really appoint their own secretaries who have knowledge about the topics that they talk about in order to record the discussions, and keep track of actions, suitably. When it comes to reports to the Board, though, then the Board Secretary should play an important role. I agree with your other points though. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 00:29, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
There is a lengthy debate that could be held on the transition from a operational to a purely strategic role. Certainly, I was never on-board with the board switching so abruptly to being purely strategic, given the many issues that the operational side of WMUK has (I still estimate that the board is at least a year away from being in a position that the operational activities of WMUK can be fully and confidently delegated to the staff!). Likewise, it's worth noting that there are a number of Hudson Review recommendations that I have serious objections to, so I would strongly encourage the board to continue to avoid adopting these recommendations only where they make sense for WMUK rather than <insert generic charity here>. Whether or not it was a legal requirement for WMUK to have a company secretary was never as issue - it hasn't been a requirement since before WMUK existed, but it was always thought to be essential until I resigned from the role (and I seriously doubt that the CEO is actually carrying out the necessary work here, although I do trust the WMUK staff that this work has likely been delegated to will effectively do the necessary work here.) One of the important roles of the Governance Committee is to set out formal roles for the office-bearers, so they really need to do their job here. There is currently no such thing as a WMUK "secretariat", so I would avoid referring to such a position until it is (or *if* it is) properly set out, although I broadly agree with your other points about what the secretary's role could be. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 00:10, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Hi Mike by 'secretariat' I meant 'staff in the office'. As to whether the CEO and staff are currently carrying out the necessary work in terms of functions previous exercised by a volunteer Company Secretary, the two matters of immediate concern around the time the Board agreed to abolish that role were (1) submission of our accounts to the Charity Commission and (2)submission of our annual return to Companies House. Both of these have been done. Were there other specific things you were concerned about? Mccapra (talk) 11:31, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

Proposal for a chapter Request for Comment process

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

I would like to propose a simple supplement to the Water cooler, a parallel of the standard RFC process that we use on many Wikimedia projects. This would give the chapter a light-weight process for assessing the views of our members (and others interested) without resorting to surveys or EGMs.

I would be happy to see alternative ideas on how this could work successfully, but I suggest the following characteristics to fit the chapter:

  1. RFCs should be written to be short and positive. They are kept to simple propositions of less than 50 words which can be answered with a binary "support" or "oppose" and may link to supplementary essays, case studies or guidelines as necessary. If an RFC becomes overly complex or divisive, it may be closed down early or replaced by a better written RFC.
  2. Consensus is not a vote (hence the term "!vote" to refer to opinions), so to make it simpler to decide what is suitable for RFCs, we would like to see more than 75% supportive !votes.
  3. RFCs should be unambiguously within the scope of the charity's mission.
  4. A limit to the number of RFCs being raised in order to avoid "proposal fatigue". Perhaps no more than one per month as a rough guide, any more might be held in a backlog area, which could usefully act as a place to draft out new proposals.
  5. A norm of at least 60 30 days might work well with a longer period agreed if there is extended discussion and research.
  6. A minimum number of opinions are required to be valid. I am uncertain how to set this, we currently have 224 members, a minimum of 12 !votes might be wise for an RFC closure to count. Less than this and the RFC closes without real consensus.
  7. Closure takes account of the proportion of board member, employee and unpaid volunteer numbers. It may appear contrived if the majority of !votes in a RFC were trustees and employees, a fair proportion of general members should be interested enough to take part for an RFC to count as meaningful (50%+ of !votes from general members perhaps?). Matters of operational interest but without much traction with members may be better as general discussion and board meeting reports rather than RFCs.
  8. Non-members will be welcome to take part, though notification would normally be though channels focussed on members.

Note that much of the value of RFCs comes from discussion of consequential issues and detail, such as getting a better wording for policies, or resolving questions around implementation. -- (talk) 17:37, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

This generally sounds good to me, but I think 60 days would be too long (and I suspect interest would die out long before the end of that period) - two weeks or a month would be much better. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 17:55, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm open to it. The norm on en.wp is to close at 30 days, while on Commons the minimum of 30 days is just that as RFCs tend to stay open for many months (in practice stagnating). What may work well here is to make a decision to close with a consensus or lack of sufficient consensus at 30 days, unless something came up during discussion that effectively rewrote the proposal and a few people are asking for more time.
With regard to who closes, I guess that is anyone interested, though what I see working well (for more complex RFCs) is that someone offers to be the closer a few days before the end is due, and then puts a bit of time aside into writing up a closure statement. Personally I don't see much harm in the proposer being the closer, but others may feel differently. -- (talk) 18:02, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for posting this suggestion Fae. In principle I think this is a decent idea. It would certainly make identifying a consensus easier. It could be particularly useful for longer term ideas. There are a couple of things I think would need to be ironed out. Such a lengthy process doesn't lend itself to agility, for example. It adds a greater bureaucratic burden, too. It would need to be backed up with some cross-channel promotion as we know from experience and from the survey that not all of our members or volunteers find the wiki a particularly welcoming or friendly place but perhaps people could be encouraged to join the conversation when there's a particular topic with a defined outcome. A potential problem that I see is that there's often a tendency towards whispering positivity and loud negativity. I wonder to what extent that would have an impact on any process. Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 18:17, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes it's not very agile but is a wiki-process so can adapt after being raised. Quick opinion polls are a different beast and do not currently fit our membership, perhaps apart from emails on wikimediauk-l (which is a not a chapter list, even if used as a channel).
Bureaucracy is minimal in my view. It does not need board or employee authorization, it can be flexible in format and it does not require any particular operational maintenance. Compared to, say, the expenses and bureaucracy of getting trustees to vote on something, this is extremely light-weight.
Yes, cross-channel notification would be good, but there is nothing here that could not be covered by current communications so I don't see additional costs (a link in a relevant blog post, if there is one, an email out to wikimediauk-l, a note on the main page of this wiki listing open RFCs).
As for negativity, I suggest RFCs are drafted before being proposed. If they are going to be disastrously controversial, then they probably should not be RFCs as we want to see a super-majority / solid positive consensus. Saying that, RFCs are often usefully cathartic, everyone gets one opinion and a few highly critical opinions are normal and often met with the usual 'meh' response. If someone starts lobbying on every opinion counter to theirs (as opposed to logical corrections or adding neutral new information), we might nudge them as to RFC etiquette from other Wikimedia projects; in practice the community tends to balance itself out on these things. -- (talk) 18:34, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

This seems like a good idea, and while there are undoubtedly kinks that will need ironing out the best way to find them is to actually see how it works in practice. The only adjustment I'd make at this point would be to the bullet regarding scope - there are things such as the EU policy statement that would be well suited to an RFC format but are only ambiguously within the charity's scope. I can also imagine an RFC to determine whether something is within scope or not. The best way I think to express this while keeping RFCs focused on charity business may simply be to change "RFCs should be unambiguously within the scope of the charity's mission." to "RFCs should be directly relevant to the scope of the charity's mission.". Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 19:06, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

First time editor, long time listener. I have a few concerns here. I list them below.

  • Speaking as someone who has in the past been heavily involved in the RFC process, RFCs are less successful than you might think. My experience is that they tend to polarise the decision making process - except when there is a supermajority, in which case the outcome was obvious in the first place and the RfC unnecessary!
  • The water cooler community does not seem to reflect our membership (ie. those entitled to a view in how the charity is run). It certainly doesn't reflect my views, and seems to be used by a hard-core of Wikipedians (a dozen at most). I find it difficult to believe that these dozen, however well meaning, reflect all 200 members! In short, I cannot see any way to make this proposed process inclusive of all of our members, including those who don't or can't use the water cooler (I know of three friends, also members, who are incapable of using it). I am seriously worried that this proposal actively discriminates against those people by offering them no other way to get involved and ensuring that their voices cannot be heard.
  • The proposal talks about 'opinions' (!votes), but counts them as votes (with support/opposes, majority decision making, a minimum number of votes etc) in so many ways that they become votes in all but name. If we want a genuine request for comment, it need be no more complex than we currently use: eg a notice sent on the water cooler and the mailing list reading "please comment on the proposal at X" - which is exactly what we currently do!

TLDR: I am concerned that this proposal fails to solves a problem we don't have, using a solution we already use... it needs a lot more work! Flossing a Dead Horse (talk) 19:59, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

(My personal view - I am not speaking for the charity here). I would not like to see this, for three reasons. First, the RFC process is only really useful where there are so many editors that discussion needs to be formalized in order to encourage focus and ensure that it reaches a conclusion. That is not the case here, and adding additional rules and complexity is likely to detract from our efforts to be open and easily accessible to new contributors. Second, the process would introduce unnecessary polarization into community discussions and would open the door to all the negativities and conflicts that too often characterize such processes on WMF controlled sites. And third, the board of WMUK (a registered charity) has a legal duty to further the charity's objects to the best of its ability, and that legal duty cannot be overrridden on the basis of a !vote by the very small proportion of editors who are able to or who wish to contribute to this page. While openness and transparency are built into what the charity does, a formal RFC process would give a false impression that the board is here to follow the instructions of the editors of this page. The board welcomes but cannot be constrained by suggestions posted here; rather, it is subject to the votes of our members at the AGM. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:42, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
True. I guess our saving grace for this form of democracy is that with a minuscule number of members in comparison to the large funds the charity controls, the members should more often consider running EGMs, instead of RFCs, for anything where in the opinion of a minority of members the board does not appear properly to have taken on board or understood community views or values. Currently it only takes 5 signatories to require the board to organize a meeting and hold a legally binding vote.
By the way Michael, as you are the Chairman now, I cannot divorce your statement here from speaking for the charity; it is not really a hat you can easily lay aside when making public statements about charity processes or policy. Thanks -- (talk) 11:12, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
12 signatures. Seddon (talk) 02:37, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Michael, your third response seems to assume that the issues that would be raised would be ones that the board would make decisions about. I'm not sure that necessarily be the case with questions that could be asked via this process - I'd have expected this to be a useful avenue for the staff to gain an understanding of the community's viewpoints on operational issues. Couldn't a system like this co-exist with the board's decision-making ability, and both reduce the number of items that the staff would have to raise with the board and also give the community more of a say in the work that the staff does? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:33, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Why do you believe it takes 12 members to call an EGM rather than 5, given we have around 225 registered members? -- (talk) 09:28, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Under the Companies Act 2006, the directors are required to call a general meeting once the company has received requests to do so from 5% of the total voting rights of all the members having a right to vote at general meetings. 5% of 225, rounded up, is 11.25, so a request from 5 members would not be valid. You would need a minimum of 12. Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry (talk) 14:03, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Could you stick to one account please? You are an employee of the UK chapter, writing on this wiki, or any other website, under different account names does not legally change any responsibilities for what you choose to publish about the chapter or its members. Thanks -- (talk) 14:17, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Please assume good faith, Richard is not using the account to avoid legal responsibilities as you are suggesting.

By the by, the latest membership numbers are 237 rather than 225. Richard Nevell (WMUK) (talk) 14:21, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Today I'm not at work - I'm on holiday. I have the right to get involved with discussions that affect the charity I'm a member of. I was a teller at the last few general meetings so I thought myself best placed to answer your questions about general meetings and company law. Nevertheless, I am sorry if my conduct is confusing and I will try my best to be clearer in future. Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry (talk) 14:40, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I would expect any employee of the charity to always use their employee identity when writing about the charity and its processes. I will take your statement as a commitment to stick same account or make your identity known if you are using other identities on other websites to publicly write about the charity or its members, or indeed to be transparent if you are writing via others. I had thought this was both a consequence of the employee contract and pretty obvious good practice. This is not a choice between your human rights and the employee contract. -- (talk) 15:19, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Fae, that really wasn't nice. That's a shame as this tangent was otherwise quite interesting. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:26, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Seems that a lot is being read into basic good practice. No representative of the charity should believe that any form of pseudonymity, meatpuppetry or sticking "this is my personal view" at the end of a public comment or allegation may not come back to bite them and the charity. I am surprised that I have had to spell this out so many times over the past couple of years. Thanks -- (talk) 19:34, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
Members of staff and trustees are perfectly entitled to have personal opinions, and to share those opinions by speaking in their personal capacity. It is absolutely best practice for someone with an official capacity in an organisation to make explicit with which hat they are speaking when there is a possibility of confusion, and the use of a personal account is one acceptable method of doing so. Only people with authority to act on behalf of WMUK who are acting in that capacity have the right to associate or disassociate the charity with remarks not made on behalf of the charity. My understanding is that this authority is held only by the board of trustees and the staff, and that you presently hold neither position. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 19:51, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
There is a difference between having an opinion and choosing to publish it (particularly libellous or defamatory allegations). Trustees are free to follow their conscience and publish as they see fit. It is one of the expectations for the behaviour of a UK charity trustee to be able to speak up if things are going wrong (there are plenty of recent legal cases of charity fraud that illustrate why this is a good thing). The same is not true of employees, who would not just appear remarkably foolish to publish statements which damage the charity they work for, and probably their own careers, but they would be by-passing the employment policies in place that give them the ability to complain about any issue they believe they have. As for me, I am not an employee of the charity, so yes I am free to publicly call anyone a bad name if I want to, and this is only my problem not the charity's, unless I were delivering an event as a named volunteer for the charity as I do from time to time. Luckily for wiki projects I always use the same identity so there is never any confusion, as I did when I was a trustee, I don't really understand why others feel the need to do otherwise and jump from one to the other willy nilly (as can be seen in email correspondence even today). -- (talk) 21:27, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

I can't see how this proposal would help solve any problems we actually have. The best point in it is that contributions to discussions should be "short and positive" - I would certainly endorse that - but otherwise it strikes me as a procedure that's unneccessary and unlikely to be helpful. The Land (talk) 12:59, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Training the Trainers February 2014 event (split from Water Cooler notification of Training event)

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.
Thanks Katie. I have lost track of how the training contract was re-awarded to Midas, I am aware that this is the largest services contract in terms of how the charity's money is spent. Where can I find records of the last open invitation to tender for the training programme? Thanks -- (talk) 15:16, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
I was not involved in the original tendering process, so am unable to provide details on that other than point to Training the Trainers/2013 Tender. Per recommendations resulting from the review conducted earlier this year, the re-tender process will take place early next year. -- Katie Chan (WMUK) (talk) 15:29, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, I had thought that the tender process was going to be before spending on the next tranche of training, my mistake. I am familiar with what happened in 2012, being a trustee throughout that year and particularly interested in monitoring how the tender and a related conflict of interest were managed. If there is a schedule for this key open tender, it would be useful to share it with the members. Thanks -- (talk) 15:57, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
We have agreed to go to tender for the future Train the Trainers in the new Financial Year for TtT from September onwards. This is later than we would have intended but the review process suspended the programme and so we are catching up. Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 11:23, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
A pity, considering that this is the largest value service contract the charity has, there remains a declared conflict of interest from a current trustee with how this supplier was introduced to the charity, and were later issues with how the contract was managed.
Where can I see a summary of how much money has been spent to date on this contract(s)? I previously estimated that WMUK spends more than £800 per head on train the trainer weekends, which I think excluded expenses such as hotel bills and travel, though this figure was neither confirmed nor rebutted by anyone handling operations. Thanks -- (talk) 12:49, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I believe that the latest public financial and budget information is being worked on now, following the December board meeting, and will be published at about the same time that the minutes of that meeting are ready. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 16:28, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, I am grateful that financial reports have become increasingly reliable over the past year.
You may recall from my time on the ARC that I was concerned that financial reporting of contracted work should take into account cumulative spends rather than only the most recent payment, or payments for particular items. I believe this was put in to operation so that the most appropriate controls, such as procurement audits or checks, would be chosen based on the cumulative risk to the charity rather than leaving risks effectively hidden due to the nature of repeat contracts. Consequently I would expect that the current total cumulative spend with Midas Training Solutions since our first purchase from them in 2011 (when I selected them as a supplier) would be available in a current report to the board of trustees and in line with our shared commitment to openness and transparency, that this should be suitable to be a published report accessible to members of the charity. See related Action 10 in Audit and Risk Committee/Meeting 2013-04-29.
I am sure you are busy with other stuff, so I appreciate your response here. Thanks -- (talk) 16:48, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
This is the first I recall hearing, of a decision to hold a new tender process. Where does this leave the recommendation of the original review panel, "The CE to approach [Andy Mabbett] with a view to supplying WMUK with services to this effect, leading our work in this area and coordinating other volunteers to deliver quality training."? Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 00:12, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Note: I believe that Andy is referring to Training the Trainers/2013 Tender Action 3, the actionee being Jon Davies. -- (talk) 07:01, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Andy, responding to your email query: my personal take on this is that I proposed the above suggestion based on my own judgement about the expertise available. A great deal has happened since then, not least that we've had trainer assessments with detailed audits of our individual skills by professional consultants. My judgement then has been rendered moot by these developments. I still admire your dedication to giving newcomers a good experience with Wikipedia, and to sharing your good practice. My judgement that you're the appropriate person to lead the relationship with a partner organisation, if the appropriate opportunity arises (which was the context of my recommendation) has been borne out by the roles you've had since. On the other hand, WMUK has a group of lead trainers now, and past decisions don't overrule that. Nothing stops you putting in a tender to the new process. MartinPoulter (talk) 11:19, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
£262.44 this year to Midas owing to the aforementioned delays. Next one will happen in financial year 2014-15. Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 17:23, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Jon, thanks for publishing a figure.
It seems an odd figure, considering there have been training courses delivered this year and over £19,000 was in this year's budget—which means that all the 2013-14 budget has been entirely underspent and must now be carried over into 2014-15, however there is no indication of this track record at 2014 Activity Plan/Train the Trainers where the board of trustees has chosen to increase the budget by 26% to £24,000.
You appear to saying that the total cumulative payments to Midas Training Solutions for this financial year (Feb 2013 to Feb 2014) will remain at £262 pounds. Considering that each trainer weekend costs the charity something like £6,000 to 8,000 in fees from Midas Training Services, I am unclear what we purchased for this small amount of money, or where to find records of payments for the training that has been delivered.
Could you provide the cumulative total spent on Midas Training Solutions as a supplier as per my original request?
Thanks in advance for your help in assuring that these figures are understood by our membership. Thanks -- (talk) 17:51, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
It is £17,600 according to our figures - most of which we supplied to you before, perhaps you could check? I hope this is helpful.The procurement review by the way is being done in the New Year and will be reported in due course. Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 12:12, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

Archiving this page

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

If you've left comments on this page, then I'd like to suggest that you say thank you! to Richard Nevell for taking the time to archive this page every so often, which prevents it from becoming unusably long. Thanks Richard! :-)

Can I suggest, though, that we think about setting up a bot to automate archiving this page, to save Richard from having to do the job? User:lowercase sigmabot III is currently doing a similar job on enwp - perhaps someone could set up a copy of that bot and operate it here? The source code of the bot is available, so it could be a simple task for someone that knows Python to do? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 23:08, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

Yes, thank you to Richard and everyone else who keeps the wheels turning. How often would this page be auto-archived? Archiving does tend to curtail discussions so it might be best not to do it automatically? It's no coincidence that the debate on splitting this page has come back to life when that section is next to be archived is it? Philafrenzy (talk) 18:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I'd suggest auto-archiving threads a week or two after the last comment on them. The water cool splitting discussion was probably more resuscitated by the discussion at the board meeting than it was it appearing at the top of the page; personally I think it might have been more navigable if it had been done in several discussions rather than one big one, as the title of that section is rather outdated now. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:10, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

The above has been moved from Water cooler, which is teh subject under discussion. Does it also apply here? Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 15:04, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for adding the notices Andy, very helpful. I think the above thread does still apply to this page, and this page would probably be the place to raise such issues in the future too. I guess in this transition period there will be some such posts which are slightly out of context where they would not be had they originated on this page. If there are any threads you think really don't work moved across let me know (and I'll keep an eye out too) but I don't think that's the case at the moment (copying to both pages) Sjgknight (talk) 15:51, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

In terms of archiving of sections, then I think it applies to both pages equally. If an archival robot works the same as at least some do on en.wp then the trigger is time elapsed since the latest timestamp in the thread. This means that a discussion can be prevented from archiving before it is complete by manually entering a future timestamp - e.g if the archiving is set to say 1 month without comment, but a response is expected at the beginning of February, entering a timestamp of "12:00, 20 January 2013 (UTC)" will mean it isn't archived before 20 February, regardless of whether anyone has posted in the thread or not. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 14:30, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

OTRS email confidentiality disclaimer

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

After a discussion on meta, WMF Legal have created this disclaimer for wherever OTRS email addresses to volunteer queues are quoted:

Disclaimer: E-mail to this address is reviewed and responded to by volunteers from our user community. Please understand that the Foundation cannot guarantee confidential treatment of any sensitive information you include in your message.

I doubt the wikitable format is essential, but probably best to leave it this way. I note that on Contact us a standard wikimedia.org address is quoted, I recommend the disclaimer is added there under the address, I hesitate to do this myself as I have no operational authority to make changes. If anyone knows of other places on this wiki where we quote OTRS email queues, this disclaimer should be added against each instance.

This is not relevant for addresses directing to Wikimedia UK's email system, however we may wish to consider something similar as a disclaimer for any email queues (such as for the fundraiser) where volunteers in addition to employees have access to email sent to "official" addresses.

For those of you not wanting to plough through the page on meta, the issue here is protection for the volunteers rather than the organization. In particular if there were to be an allegation that private information from emails was misused or compromised, this disclaimer would help avoid the volunteer being the target of personal claims for damages. It is worth noting that, based on the last time I checked it when I was a trustee, volunteers for Wikimedia UK that are acting in recognized roles (such as helping with fundraising queries or running training courses) do have liability insurance provided by the charity and I assume this applies for anyone helping with the chapter email queues. Unfortunately the WMF has no equivalent insurance to help protect volunteers answering email on the main Wikimedia OTRS queues. Thanks -- (talk) 07:48, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

Hi Fae. I have added the disclaimer - this is sensible. You are right in saying that our insurance covers volunteers for certain roles. However, you say that "Unfortunately the WMF has no equivalent insurance to help protect volunteers answering email on the main Wikimedia OTRS queues.". I do not think this is an accurate statement and I would like to correct it: my understanding from my discussions with Geoff, Sue and others is that the Legal Fees Assistance Program has covered, and continues to cover, the WMF's Email response team members. Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 11:21, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, this was brought up on the meta discussion. However it is not independent liability insurance, or any other type of insurance, and remains discretionary and stated as unreliable, as stated in the definitions under "No guarantees". Scenarios where this would definitely not be used includes if a member of the public alleges misuse by an OTRS agent and the WMF feels there is a case for them or another party to claim damages from the volunteer, this may even become a requirement of the WMF's own insurance cover.
As an issue this was raised in the meta discussion, there was no clear answer from WMF Legal apart from stating that insurance cover was sufficient, and then later confirming that there is no insurance for volunteers. Thanks -- (talk) 14:45, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I am aware of the discussion - I was part of it :-). You asked some very useful questions which needed asking. That said, I still don't think the statement you made was accurate. Regardless, the WMF's insurance or lack thereof is not really an issue for WMUK's: we are insured for our own volunteers doing work on our behalf. To go back to the initial point you made, I'll get Richard N to go around updating the disclaimer on our pages where he finds it. Thanks for letting me know! Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 15:00, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
I get it, I am not representing a view of Wikimedia UK and unless the board of trustees wishes to publish a position, I doubt there will ever be one. Thanks -- (talk) 15:16, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Can I suggest some rephrasing? Saying "the Wikimedia Foundation" in the middle of the WMUK contact page seems a bit odd - perhaps say something like "neither Wikimedia UK nor the Wikimedia Foundation (who operate the global volunteer helpdesk)"? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 15:33, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
I see no reason why it cannot be adapted better to fit this site, so long as we drop a note to WMF legal to say that's how we have chosen to do it. If there is some issue we are unaware of, it would be up to them to advise. -- (talk) 15:38, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Sure Mike, I'll let Richard N know. Thanks for the suggestion. Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 15:58, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
I think that takes care of it. Richard Nevell (WMUK) (talk) 17:07, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

Survey results

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

It was mentioned above that the survey results are to be anonymised, and presumably the results collated too, by a volunteer in the new year. Given some of the highly personal information gathered in the survey, I don't think it is appropriate for this job to be done by a volunteer, however trustworthy that person may be. I am sure that respondents would have expected that their replies would remain entirely in-house, be treated with the utmost care, and that the anonymisation would be done by a member of staff operating under the supervision of a senior employee of the organisation who was able to ensure the confidentiality of the data and that applicable data protection rules were followed. That certainly would have been my assumption. If this job has not started, I believe that is how we should do it. I assume that there was no intention to transfer the raw data to the computer of the volunteer, as that would indeed be a grave breach of confidentiality. Philafrenzy (talk) 19:01, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

There are two parts to the survey, one anonymous (the second part, almost entirely demographic information) and the other (the first part) not. Certainly I wouldn't expect, as a volunteer, to see non-anonymised data (whether raw or aggregated) from the second part. Raw data from the first part would present less of a problem, but there is absolutely no reason for any data to be treated in any sort of cavalier way or for any data protection rules to be breached.
What would people think of a volunteer seeing non-anonymised data if that person signed a confidentiality agreement that held them to the same standard and the same/equivalent terms as a staff member? Personally I wouldn't have an issue, but I know I am less protective of my information than some people so I may not be representative. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 21:50, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I realised there may be different parts, treated in different ways. My own view, as above, is that the only safe way to do this is to do the whole thing in house. That should be possible as when last reported there were only 57 replies. I don't think that drawing up a separate confidentiality agreement is really necessary or desirable here and would be of little comfort if the whole lot leaked as the damage would be done. And certainly the raw data should never leave the office on anyone's laptop, in an email or a memory stick, whoever does the job. (I realise it has already been gathered on an external server in the cloud somewhere). Philafrenzy (talk) 22:07, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

Getting us started

Now we have an engine room perhaps we can go full speed ahead!

We're still working on the text to go in the "welcome" at the top of this page. Over the next couple of days I'll be moving appropriate threads over from the water cooler to here. cheers Sjgknight (talk) 20:28, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

(Update) I've now gone through the process of moving threads regarding WMUK operational matters to the newly created Engine room, while keeping threads around our activities and getting involved on this page. This will be our first attempt at creating different spaces for different types of discussion, and we're still working on the headers for these pages (the divs now inserted at the top of the page). If you watch the Water cooler you may also want to add the Engine room to your watch list. I've also moved the Water cooler up to the "get involved" section on the sidebar. The new Engine room can be found under 'organisation' on the sidebar. If you think I've incorrectly moved something, or have a suggestion for how we should define and describe these places do let us know (ideally here in the Engine room). Finally, I look forward to seeing people engage on both pages. Cheers Sjgknight (talk) 21:29, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't get it. WMUK doesn't have an engine? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:41, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
It doesn't have a water cooler either! Sjgknight (talk) 21:43, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Cheers Simon, let's see if this split ups the engagement level as I hope it will. Thryduulf (talk: local | en.wp | en.wikt) 10:12, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Simon, good work on this. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:18, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, thanks, and now we have room for an engine:
"Two telegraph units must be installed; one to be installed on the bridge and the other one in the engine room." 00:13, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

QRpedia technical and organizational issues (was QRpedia what next? on the Water Cooler)

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

We are now dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's on QRpedia. The next question is how do we make sure the community benefits from it? Do we need training, events etc. We have already started a FAQ page to help those who want to use it but is there more we can do?

Can we get some ideas going?

Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 15:30, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

There's a parallel discussion on the UK mailing list (aside: it's almost always better to have one discussion, and post pointers in other places). I've posted a link there to Wikipedia:QRHowTo and mentioned the outstanding development tickets. By FAQ, you eman, I think, meta:QRpedia. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 21:45, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
The important milestone here is the domains being transferred to WMUK's ownership, as it's only when that happens that this issue is really resolved. Until that happens, I would recommend that WMUK doesn't do anything to advertise QRpedia, although starting to plan to do things after that milestone makes a lot of sense. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:43, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
As of today, qrpedia.org is registered to Terence Eden. I am puzzled as to why a domain transfer takes more than a day to sort out. Mike used to do this sort of thing live during our board meetings. Is there some problem that the members have yet to be told about? -- (talk) 15:20, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Please note the action here from the last Technology Committee. I have communicated with Tom already again today and as I understand it determining a mutally convenient time and getting hold of Roger had been issues but he was going to re-chase.
The reason we didn't just rush through a transfer was a planned intention to let users know the domain would transfer before it did and I'm awaiting a date to go to users with. Will update on here again tomorrow. Katherine Bavage (WMUK) (talk) 16:25, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the pointer. I do not understand why there would be a necessary connection between updating the registered owner and changing of servers. One is a legal record of ownership, the other is the specific operational set up. I look forward to finding out what the date/plan is going to be tomorrow. -- (talk) 17:29, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
The combination of Xmas, co-ordination of three people and assurances as to the processes we're undertaking means there has been a bit of a delay. I've been dashing all over the place for the last week so it's been a bit difficult connecting with people (kids + christmas = nightmare combination). But I am sure we'll get through this in the next couple of days! --ErrantX (talk) 19:59, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Updating the owner of the domains sadly isn't as simple as just changing the contact information that's available through whois for a domain. It requires transferring the control of the domain to the new owner, which generally means moving it from one domain registrar to another (or at least, moving it from one account to another at the same registrar). This also means transferring from one set of settings to a new set of settings. Yes, this new set can be the same as the previous set, but that does need a lot of precise communication beforehand to make sure that the new set is exactly the same as the old set - and any differences can easily cause a lot of downtime. It's much better if there is sufficient communication time available to those involved in the transfer of a website to ensure that the new host has fully set up the new site on their hosting and can set out the new settings in their registrar's control panel in advance of the transfer taking place.
I don't think that I ever conducted the transfer of a domain during a board meeting - if I did, then it would have been between two accounts that I controlled, which is different from the issue here. I could register a new domain name during a board meeting, but that's also a different issue. The transfer of a domain from one owner to another will always inevitably take a reasonable amount of time time, which should be given to those working on this before they're subjected to criticism. ;-) Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 01:09, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Update: Hello all. I have spoken to Roger this afternoon and he will unlock the second domain for transfer tomorrow when he is not occupied with family commitments. Following this Tom will make arrangements to switchover the DNS settings on the weekend (Sunday 22nd) and I will contact known existing users via mailing lists/direct email. There will be a formal announcement on here too. Katherine Bavage (WMUK) (talk) 14:43, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

QRpedia domain transfer update

This discussion has been moved here from the Water cooler.

Dear all,

In January it was announced that Wikimedia UK had reached an agreement with Roger Bamkin and Terence Eden to accept the donation of the intellectual property rights of QRpedia to Wikimedia UK. WMUK are choosing to do this via a company called Cultural Outreach limited.

This will mean that in future the site qrpedia.org will be managed by Cultural Outreach Ltd and governed by the Wikimedia UK Website Privacy Policy.

Both the domains qrpedia.org and qrwp.org have been transferred to the registrar maintained by Cultural Outreach Ltd as of today. This is a notice that the server hosting for the sites will be changed at 22:00 on Sunday 22nd December. Users should not notice any difference, however there is the very slight chance that in some cases QR codes may not work for short periods during the switch.

If you experience a problem you can report it by emailing Tech@wikimedia.org.uk or by logging a bug at the Wikimedia UK install of bugzilla (https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org.uk/)

Thanks all - Katherine Bavage (WMUK) (talk) 16:54, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

This is very good news - well done! Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:46, 20 December 2013 (UTC)