WikiEducator talk:Community Council/Meetings/Third

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Thread titleRepliesLast modified
Being critical713:51, 6 May 2010
Guidelines / policy relating to ancillary web services (e.g. Google Custom Search)121:09, 9 March 2010

Being critical

I am concerned that the council is becoming too like minded. We have some amazing resources (people) available to us as elected council and nominated council. The challenge I see is that when they have been critical of policy or approaches, discussion occurs (sometimes heated), and eventually the ones apposed leave or disengage. Going to close WikiVersity With the policies that are forming around elected council termination and nominated council renewal we may end up with a council that would be better served by a virtual benevolent dictator and not a community council (for they are so like minded). I see the impact of like mindedness becomes complacency, for there is no-one challenging the like mindedness. WE would lose its nimbleness and innovation edge, which is key to becoming the defacto OER resource on the web.

Prawstho (talk)05:35, 27 March 2010

Peter, I stopped being concerned after I learned about the business model of Wikipedia and other of Wales' for profit wikis. I think we should be practical and realize that it's all about money and Jimmy Wales has a lot to lose if he forfeits his control.

Nelliemuller (talk)06:28, 27 March 2010


I agree with your sentiments regarding Wikipedia, Profit and Jimmy Wales. My concern is that I see WikiEducator moving closer to WikiMedia Foundation (and therefore more under Jimmy's control) than away from WikiMedia Foundation. All of this is so much bigger than me... I'd just hope that the WE council stays healthy around critical thinking and putting into place policies and practices that encourage healthy discourse about important issues. I feel the evidence presented from Leigh's blog post is valid, and needs to be considered as WE trends toward WMF.

Sincerely, Peter

Prawstho (talk)07:14, 27 March 2010

Hi Peter,

You know what they say -- DFTT :-)

WikiEducator is an independent community project. It is funded by the OER Foundation, an independent non-profit entity.

Speculation about WikiEducator moving closer to the WikiMedia Foundation and being under the control of Jimbo, WMF or any other organisation is just that -- mere speculation. If folk want to ask a question -- all they need to do is ask, rather than speculate and fuel rumours which have no substance.

The OER Foundation subscribes to Open Philanthropy which means all our planning documentation is developed openly in the wiki -- so that's a good place to start.

WikiEducator has adopted and implemented governance model which is different from WMF and is more aligned with the structures and processes one would expect to find in the formal education sector. WikiEducator is predominantly a project working in the formal education space and this is our particular niche.

WE subscribe to freedom of speech and every member is free to express their opinions. This has contributed to our growth and success.

As a community with significant membership from the formal education sector, we are less tolerant of emotive discourse intended to disrupt and offend individuals when compared to some other communities. This is not a value judgement -- its the way it is in the formal education sector. We value reflective scepticism based on respect for the individuals in our community with a healthy dose of "assume good faith".

From practical experience in teaching and life raising a family -- I have found that its better and more productive to play the ball than the person.

Mackiwg (talk)14:56, 27 March 2010


I am happy to read their is no intention for WE to be moving closer to WMF... Wise. My intention was never to initiate an emotive discourse. And I don't believe I did. I made reference to a very good (and well researched) blog post and subsequent discussion kicked off by one of WE elected council members. My concern is the policies that are forming within the WE council are going to encourage like-mindedness. So there may be freedom to express opinions, yet very little criticalness and "challenges" to the status quo. For those "disruptive" voices are not supported and have met with bureaucratic responses [see discussion on Liquid Threads (LQT)] and eventually withdraw their engagement. I believe strong communities encourage differences and critical discourse, I just want to initiate a dialogue to determine if other council members have a similar concern. Given the silence on this thread I'm beginning to think not.

I agree let's play the ball... Are the forming WE policies encouraging like mindedness and group think?

Be Well...


Prawstho (talk)04:47, 20 April 2010

Hi Peter,

I too support critical dialogue, and WikiEducator has a proven track record of engaging in frank and candid discourse.

The "well researched" blog post to which you refer was lacking in a fundamental principle of good journalism - that is to consult your sources before publishing speculative assertions.

WE respect freedom of choice in our community -- it is a core value. There is a fine line between frank and open discourse and sophisticated trolling.

Let's start with a dose of good faith and focus on our mission to build sustainable OER ecosystems rather than dwell on the political idiosyncrasies of "group think". I don't attach a value judgement to group think one way or another. Reading your post -- I assume that you attach a negative value to "group think". How do you distinguish a consensus opinion from group think in the real world?

I do not concur with your assertions that WE are forming policies that encourage group think --- If you have any issues with the policies being formed -- you have had every opportunity to voice and participate in their development.

I encourage you to initiate open dialogue on these an other matters. Perhaps a community workgroup or postings on the main WikiEducator list is the vehicle to achieve this aim?


Mackiwg (talk)00:04, 26 April 2010

Guidelines / policy relating to ancillary web services (e.g. Google Custom Search)

Due diligence could include (with search as an example):

0. Understand all the associated issues (e.g. privacy issues, lack of transparency in search prioritisation, dependence on one company for special features, risk of monopolies suppressing innovation, ...)

1. Do a thorough assessment of existing libre software options.

Start with Lucene and its sub-projects:

Find others - e.g. mentioned on WikiEducator, Wikipedia, etc. (via your favourite search engine :-).

2. Consider more creative options which might lend themselves well to education such as the Semantic MediaWiki extension.

3. Compromises may be possible. For example, allow users to set a preferred search service in their preferences. The default should be a libre option such as MWSearch. It may be possible to develop browser extensions (e.g. for Firefox) which search specific repositories.

4. Decouple the best educational search services from WikiEducator (not a new idea - e.g. Establish an OERF project to establish or enhance best of breed federated education-oriented search across multiple OER repositories. Encourage third parties to develop educational search engines which also cover multiple sites. User may specify the search to include (e.g.) only WikiEducator [and/or some other group of repositories such as Wikiversity, Connexions, ...]. License should be something like: GNU Affero General Public License.

KTucker (talk)20:26, 9 March 2010

Hi Kim,

Thanks for these inputs -- much appreciated.

This solid well-founded advice.

  • The current Mediawiki search facility is based on Lucene technology, and from what we can see, Lucene is an active and growing community. In alignment with our values -- WikiEducator should not replace an Free Software solution in favour of a non free service. For example, we shouldn't replace the default MW search for a non-free external service.
  • We have been talking about the Semantic Mediawiki extension -- it is an impressive technology and I'm keen to investigate further. At the same time, we're being prudent at this stage preferring not to overcommit until we have reasonable assurances of adequate funding to support technologies like SMW as well as code development work to contribute back to the community.
  • Agreed -- the default is Libre and our commitment to free cultural works (most notably open and editable file formats for our core OER business is non negotiable.)
  • Agreed on the decoupling of services -- search is not our forte but we can focus on creative solutions on our end to provide metadata in ways which can be harvested more effectively through services like (but I do worry about their default license which by our interpretation is a non-free license :-(.), search, and others.
Mackiwg (talk)21:09, 9 March 2010