Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Fork in the Road?

I’ve been watching the MediaViewer debate unfold with uncharacteristic silence. I figure every point to be made has been made by others far more eloquent than I. Just to get my opinions out of the way:

  • I share most of the concerns with MediaViewer.
  • I believe that the way the WMF and the broader community collaborate to develop and release software going forward is the bigger issue by far.
  • I don’t think that adding another level of privileges to Mediawiki is a good solution to any problem.
  • Having had to make go/no go decisions on software releases myself, I reserve rollbacks for releases that break existing use cases with no workarounds. Since users can opt out of MediaViewer, I don’t think that a rollback is called for where it has already been deployed.
  • I believe that MediaViewer can and will be a great addition to Mediawiki.
  • I know that development cycles are long, that big changes have been made at the WMF since the MediaViewer project was kicked off, and that Lila was appointed specifically for her expertise in managing software releases. Patience may pay off now, even if it hasn’t before.

As far as I can tell, with the possible exception of the necessity of a rollback, my beliefs are consistent with those of most people speaking up on wikimedia-l and elsewhere. If this post were just about these issues, I’d leave it at “+1″.

There is one plot twist here that I’d like to add something to. In my opinion, the Letter to the Wikimedia Foundation is the best thing to come out of the MediaViewer debate by far. The letter is very well written, and it captures the sentiment of many members of the community well. I think it’s possible to misread “for the first time, a software feature has been designed to take the ability to edit pages away from Wikimedia project communities,” as the new superprotect privilege having been introduced to prevent edits to articles. As far as I know, it has only been applied to a JavaScript file. Of course, JavaScript files are a part of the software as opposed to content served by the software, but I’m sure the supporters are aware of that distinction.

It’s the number of those supporters that blows my mind. 500 and counting! This is exactly the kind of community engagement and outreach that can revitalize the project. That’s 500 voices rising in unison to say that the Wikimedia Foundation should 1) remove the “superprotect” status recently enacted on the German Wikipedia’s “MediaWiki:Common.js” JavaScript page and 2) clearly assert that it will permit local projects (such as German Wikipedia, English Wikipedia, and Wikimedia Commons) to determine the default status of the Media Viewer, for both logged-in and non-logged-in users, uninhibited. This specificity really gives the community something of substance to rally around.

Where this letter comes up short, however, is in consequences. A fork is mentioned somewhere. That’s one possibility. Or maybe mass retirement? Another option would be that everyone who signs the letter will refuse to donate money to the WMF going forward. Or maybe it makes sense to leave the negotiating table by refusing to discuss further collaboration until these demands are met? There are lots of candidates, but the letter ends on a rather weak “but we need the Wikimedia Foundation to act decisively before it is possible to move forward effectively.” If I’m asking what exactly this means, my guess is that the WMF isn’t sure either.

When I created a petition to allow Greg Kohs to attend all open Wikipedia conferences, I wrote it as a pledge that supporters would refuse to attend any event to which Greg was banned. Of course, it can be harder to get signatures that way; after all, the signees must accept some consequences themselves, as well. For example, since I created that petition, Greg revisited a statement that would have been a showstopper for the petition if not for what seemed to be a very sincere apology. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t create a petition supporting Greg by name now, but I still believe that Wikipedia conferences should be open to all and I committed to my beliefs by signing the petition, along with around 30 others. Just imagine what could be accomplished with 500 community members committing to the cause like this!

However this plays out, we’re at a turning point for both the WMF and the community. The WMF has new leadership. The community has proven that it can rally significant support around a cause, although more needs to be done to clarify the members’ commitment to that cause, IMO. The question comes down to whether they will be navigating this tricky terrain together or turning their separate ways.

,Wil


Filed under: Wikimedia, Wikipedia Tagged: MediaViewer

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Wil Sinclair

Wil Sinclair works on technologies that facilitate and encourage cloud adoption in the PHP community. His Simple Cloud API enables “cloud native” applications that can be deployed on all major clouds. He brings 10 years of experience in the software industry at companies from the smallest of startups to large multinationals such as Oracle and Amazon. Most recently he served as project lead on the leading PHP framework: Zend Framework.

Latest Stories
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing bes...
Join us at Cloud Expo June 6-8 to find out how to securely connect your cloud app to any cloud or on-premises data source – without complex firewall changes. More users are demanding access to on-premises data from their cloud applications. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have” but an important differentiator that drives competitive advantages. It’s the new “must have” in the hybrid era. Users want capabilities that give them a unified view of the data to get closer to customers and grow business. The...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, paneli...
Cloud applications are seeing a deluge of requests to support the exploding advanced analytics market. “Open analytics” is the emerging strategy to deliver that data through an open data access layer, in the cloud, to be directly consumed by external analytics tools and popular programming languages. An increasing number of data engineers and data scientists use a variety of platforms and advanced analytics languages such as SAS, R, Python and Java, as well as frameworks such as Hadoop and Spark...
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...