Talk:Draft Openness Policy

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Implementation[edit source]

This is a fantastic idea, but I have a few concerns (with my office manager hat on) about implementation:

  • Producing two copies of potentially every document we generate - one redacted, one not redacted - is a lot of work
  • Presumably all staff emails which didn't involve confidential information would need to be made public, eg "We need more ink for the printer", or "Please remember to fill in your holiday sheets" - and how do we filter "open" emails from "non-open" ones after the fact? Should emails about paper supplies running low be sent to one list, and confidential emails be sent to another list? How do we manage things if an email thread crosses over between the two lists?
  • From a staff point of view, I'm worried about staff members having their decisions second-guessed, eg "Why did we buy such expensive staples for the Annual Report?", followed by an inevitable community discussion on better staples.
  • Finally - and I hate to say this - but I've had more requests from people that we stop sending out so many emails to the public list (because it's flooding their inboxes), than I have from people asking to have more emails sent.

In short: Certainly, we need to be open. But being open doesn't mean releasing everything in a torrent of inconsequential information which only a minority (less than a dozen) of volunteers have time to read. I think the best way to approach this is with reports, and phone calls to volunteers, and turning up at wikimeets, and having volunteers working in the office. After all, the best way to hide something is to cover it in inconsequential information. I think that the best way to go about this is not with a policy, but with a re-affirmation of our values. We could go ahead with this in a "full and uncut" version, but I would not be able to keep up with the extra work generated. I hope this makes sense! Richard Symonds (talk) 11:09, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

It was a quiet day yesterday - only sent 37 emails. The vast majority are very dull day-to-day stuff. If I wanted to hide something from the community I would publish them all in the complete expectation that nobody would have the time to fillet out the one where Richard and I buy the helicopter.
Another example that goes against the 'publish all' idea is when Stevie creates something like the annual report. With tweaks between him, the community feedback, trustee suggestions, printer's corrections and the graphic designer's tuppence worth this will amount to dozens of versions.
WMUK is already very open and we publish, I would say, 95 out of every 100 documents we produce that are of any potential importance.
If there is a genuine problem that needs fixing then identify it - if we are hiding something from the community tell us (although of course if we are good at hiding things they wouldn't know!)
Most of all we are working hard to make things happen - if we have to report everything we do it will cut down dramatically on that. I want to get 100% activity out of the staff targeted towards delivering the plan, not reporting on what they did today. My job is to make sure the office delivers. I currently report weekly to the trustees and in detail at the Board meetings. Much more importantly, I respond to all member requests for information promptly and, unless it is confidential, in full.
It comes down to trust.
  • Trust the staff to get on with their work
  • Trust the Trustees to make sure they do it well
Jon Davies WMUK (talk) 11:19, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  • The gist of this Harry has my support. As Richard notes we don't want to spam a copy of every email because of both annoyance and cost but the expectation of openness is central. I would expect more information to be on wiki. That way the dozen can see it and show the hundred if they have a concern or suggestion. I can see that creating redacted versions is a good reason to not do it if it is expensive. However designing our systems to minimise redaction and allow dozens of versions is a good aim. This will be an issue as we have more commercial partners, in the same way we can encourage our partners to follow our lead. We managed a lot of this with Monmouth County Council Victuallers (talk) 11:30, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  • No document written at stupid o'clock in the morning is going to be perfect. :) Do, please, feel free to tweak it or mercilessly strip it down—this is, after all, a wiki. In no particular order:
    • I do trust the staff. Jon, I have the utmost respect for you and your team, and you've done an amazing job of establishing a core staff team in a relatively short period of time. But as much as I trust the staff, you're doing 140 hours of work a work between you, and, like most of the community, I (like, I suspect, most members of the community) have no idea what you spend most of that time doing. Is it that the bureaucracy has expanded to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy, for example, or is it that there was 140 hours' worth of work nine months to a year ago that mostly wasn't being done? I suspect it's a combination of both.
    • Likewise, I trust the trustees. I wouldn't have voted for them if I didn't (and I voted for all the current trustees). But the trustees are accountable to the membership.
    • I don't want the staff to feel they don't have the independence to do their jobs, and I don't want them to spend time duplicating documents in redacted form, but documents they're producing with the purpose of reporting (such as weekly reports to the board), should be public wherever possible. Obviously, those reports will contain some things not suitable for public dissemination, and those things can be kept on the office wiki. Likewise, non-sensitive documents that would normally be placed on the office wiki could be placed on this wiki. Neither of those things require more than minimal additional effort. Other items, that weren't made to be reported (like an email saying "we need more paper for the printer"), obviously don't need to be publicly disseminated.
    • To take Richard's example of staples, if we're spending thousands of pounds on staples that we could get for significantly less, the members and donors might have an opinion on that, and might want to share that opinion. Alternatively, we may have a community member who owns a staple shop and might be able to offer us the staples for free. Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 14:44, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts Harry - but I can't help but point out that we already do an awful lot of what you're suggesting. For example:
  • Reports to the board from the staff are public at Reports 30Jun12. The weekly reports we make to the board - which include confidential stuff are at 'Chief Exec reports' on the office wiki. There's scope to have a lot of this moved into Jon's reports at News, but would probably take up another hour or so of staff time each week to do so. Not my decision as to whether or not that's worth it! We don't record day-to-day activities; all this is the extent of the reporting we do. We do answer any questions that people ask, however - whether they're from trustees or not.
  • Anything that goes on the office wiki is on there for a reason: at present, the only activity over the past two days is myself uploading invoices (about 20 of them), Mike uploading one of my reports on our cash situation, an in-camera report for the board meeting, and Jon updating the 'contact details' page with the new press phone number. There's really not a lot on there except things like lists of press contacts, how to get into our conference call system, the passwords to our Youtube and Twitter accounts, etc. Even the checkuser wiki is more exciting than the office wiki, and that's pretty dull. I expect the board wiki is even more dull (although I don't get to see it).
  • As to emails, I'll give you a rough rundown of what's in my inbox:
  1. Invoice
  2. Message from some folks from a medical organisation who are interested in exactly how we raise funds for Wikipedia
  3. Email from Mike asking me to update the list of members
  4. Email from me to me to remind me to query part of Mike's expenses spreadsheet (specifically, what the colours refer to)
  1. Unpaid expense claims are marked in yellow. I think that's the only colour that matters in that spreadsheet. :-) Mike Peel (talk) 19:24, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  1. Complaint from a donor about Jimmy's "support of criminals". Donor is happy now I've explained it.
  2. Email from our bank about becoming a direct debit originator
  3. Email from SmartDebit about becoming a direct debit originator
  4. Mike asking me to get together a planned expenditure amount for the next few months
  5. Volunteer expenses
  6. Discussion about who is interviewing for the Developer role
  7. Email about my new flat
  8. Daria querying an invoice
  9. Query from a donor about his email address details
  10. Emails from about half a dozen volunteers asking for business cards
  11. The list goes on....
Maybe a good way round this would be to have a volunteer working in the office for a few days. That way, you can all see how dull things really are on the office list! Something to chat about at the weekend? Richard Symonds (talk) 18:07, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

Comments from Stevie[edit source]

As an employee, I'm acutely aware that transparency is a key issue, as is volunteer involvement. In fact, I mention both of these in our comms strategy (cracking read, by the way, whoever wrote it). So if there's anything that can be done to reassure volunteers that the office is transparent and doesn't want to exclude the community from decision making or involvement in projects etc then I am all for it. In principle.

On the other hand, how do we define what should be sent around? Who decides what is important enough? Will there be consultation on everything we do? Experience shows this isn't a sensible way of getting things done although if someone can show me how this can be effective I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

A couple of things. How would this policy change what we do already? I know that we all try really hard to make sure we're open about what we do and to offer opportunities to get involved, and also to support initiatives the community are working on. And do people really want to receive lots more email to UK list? My intuition tells me the exact opposite (which again is outlined in the comms strategy). --Stevie Benton (talk) 11:42, 28 June 2012 (UTC)