The conversation below took place between User:wctaiwan and User:Dungodung, the latter of whom is an IRC group contact, on August 20, 2011. The logs are published, with permission, for reference in attempts to improve #wikipedia-en-help.
[2:18pm] wctaiwan: OK. Just an off-chance.. (I've been talking to Chzz) Two questions, if you would answer them: 1. who chose you as group contacts? and who actually does the assigning of group contacts? (would it be a community thing or a foundation thing?) 2. Do you regard your role as largely technical instead of decision making—assigning cloaks but not deciding the cloaking policy, for example? [2:18pm] dungodung is marked as away. [2:18pm] wctaiwan: (I'm just trying to grasp the picture. Not prejudiced against you or anything, sorry if it comes off that way) [2:19pm] dungodung: 1. previouos GCs chose new GCs. it's the way it worked for a long time now; the older ones have the best understanding of the job and can make the best decision about who would be most suitable for the position [2:20pm] dungodung: 2. it's largely technical, but it's not like we don't have to make any decisions. stewards used to be like that (only applying consensus), but they outgrew to a position where you have to make certain calls. here as well, you have that, but we don't set policies, just practices that work and no one complains about [2:22pm] wctaiwan: Okay, say, if the English Wikipedia's help channel community decides something involving the help channel (based on a consensus-building process) that requires involvement on your part, would you respect that consensus and carry it out, even if you disagree with it? [2:22pm] wctaiwan: hypothetically, if people are crazy enough to request that cloaks be assigned twice per day. [2:23pm] dungodung: no [2:24pm] dungodung: if a certain channel decides on something, that's fine, but any particular channel has no rights to tell us how to do our jobs [2:24pm] wctaiwan: OK. Fair enough, what about if the channel decides to demote one founder and promote someone else (through an on-wiki, consensus building process), or if it decides that founders should be periodically replaced? [2:25pm] dungodung: O [2:25pm] wctaiwan: (personally my impression was that your role is largely technical and thus it shouldn't be that big an issue that the people aren't chosen through the community. I'm trying to gather arguments that my assumption is correct, so we can focus on individual channels instead of involing GCs should we want change) [2:25pm] dungodung: I'd largely disagree with that, but then again, I don't think I would have a say in that [2:25pm] dungodung: since we don't micromanage, it's up to the channel to govern itself [2:26pm] dungodung: if there is consensus throughout the channel that things should work that way, then fine by me [2:27pm] wctaiwan: So you agree that the community of a channel (which would be a subset of the community of a Wikipedia) has authority over the running of the channel, and that *that* authority trumps yours and isn't subject to your veto so long as it doesn't touch upon your overall management of Wikimedia's IRC channels? [2:28pm] dungodung: I guess so [2:28pm] dungodung: but then again, personally, I don't think that could happen in reality [2:28pm] wctaiwan: I don't know. I think Chzz has some interesting ideas on improving the help experience for newbies. [2:29pm] wctaiwan: but he seems to feel that such improvements cannot be carried out under the current power structure [2:29pm] wctaiwan: so I'm just trying to figure out whether he's right in thinking that the community does not run the channel. [2:30pm] dungodung: honestly, close to no one thinks his arguments are valid [2:30pm] wctaiwan: And after talking to you I'd say I think that notion is misguided, and that we could probably use consensus to affect change [2:31pm] wctaiwan: I'm not fretting over his arguments. I'm trying to get him involved and to carry out the actual improvements. If that involves convincing him that no, the channel is indeed run by consensus, then that's that. [2:31pm] wctaiwan: I think the answers you have given me here are better than his impression. [2:31pm] dungodung: you should talk to kibble as well, for the completeness' sake [2:32pm] wctaiwan: i.e. the channels *are* autonomous and not under the control of GCs so long as the GCs' overall management of Wikimedia channels isn't affected. [2:32pm] dungodung: even though are views are largely equal, we do have some minor differences [2:32pm] wctaiwan: what's his role? [2:32pm] dungodung: he's the second GC [2:32pm] wctaiwan: Oh, okay. [2:34pm] wctaiwan: Can you give me a more certain answer than "I guess so" to "So you agree that the community of a channel (which would be a subset of the community of a Wikipedia) has authority over the running of the channel, and that *that* authority trumps yours and isn't subject to your veto so long as it doesn't touch upon your overall management of Wikimedia's IRC channels?" if you don't mind? Just in case Chzz or anyone else objects. I think my question is pretty clearly defined. [2:34pm] wctaiwan: And thanks, I will talk to kibble if I get the chance. [2:34pm] dungodung: I wouldn't put it strictly that way [2:34pm] dungodung: so that's why I didn't give a clear answer [2:35pm] wctaiwan: Can you elaborate then? [2:36pm] dungodung: but yes, I agree that the community of the channel (which is defined by the most active contributors therein, not as a subset of any given wiki project) has the authority to decide on its principles and practices, as long as it abides by the freenode guidelines and general wikimedia IRC practices, is not contraversial and doesn't affect our work [2:37pm] wctaiwan: Would you consider occasional (say, every few months max.) repacement of the founders "affecting your work?" [2:37pm] wctaiwan: (since that seems to be one of Chzz's main gripes) [2:37pm] dungodung: I'm not sure I understand [2:37pm] dungodung: repacement of the founders "affecting our work?" [2:38pm] wctaiwan: Well, you're the people who set the flags, right? [2:38pm] wctaiwan: So I assume that means no, it doesn't affect your work. [2:38pm] dungodung: not really [2:38pm] wctaiwan: o.O who does then [2:38pm] dungodung: we set the flags in inactive and new channels [2:38pm] wctaiwan: the founders themselves? [2:38pm] dungodung: but we don't micromanage. a well-established channel like -en-help shouldn't need our involvement [2:38pm] wctaiwan: Okay. [2:38pm] dungodung: unless there's such a chaos that we have to interfere [2:39pm] wctaiwan: So pretty much the community of the channel can decide who the founders are, correct? [2:39pm] dungodung: yes [2:39pm] wctaiwan: Okay, thanks. [2:39pm] wctaiwan: That was really, really helpful. Thanks a lot. [2:39pm] dungodung: and by community, that means "clear consensus throughout the channel", not "Chzz's hunch" [2:39pm] dungodung: no problem [2:40pm] wctaiwan: Sure, I understand. It'll probably an on-wiki process anyway. [2:40pm] wctaiwan: (Just to be sure—Do I have permission to publish parts of this conversation and / or quote them?) [2:41pm] dungodung: yes, just not out of context ;) [2:41pm] wctaiwan: Certainly not. Thanks again. [2:41pm] dungodung: well, about onwiki process... some would regard that as invalid [2:41pm] wctaiwan: I'll stop bothering you now. [2:41pm] dungodung: and rightfully so [2:41pm] wctaiwan: Well, not if the participants are all active members of the help channel [2:41pm] dungodung: first you'd have to get a channel-wide consensus that such a process is valid [2:42pm] wctaiwan: You can't do it off-wiki though, timezones issues. [2:42pm] dungodung: you can set up a meeting and hope most come [2:43pm] dungodung: but it's more likely that people won't care that much [2:44pm] wctaiwan: The increase in founders from 2 to 4 was on on-wiki discussion, though. And like you said, IRC meetings are hardly going to get the most active people. [2:44pm] dungodung: ok, I have to go now [2:44pm] wctaiwan: OK. [2:44pm] dungodung|away: bye [2:45pm] wctaiwan: see you.