Wikipedia:Gather/Gather RFC proposal - February 2016


The WMF Reading team recognizes and appreciates the valid concerns raised by community members on wiki. The document below specifically details the Reading team’s response to the RFC requesting that Gather be disabled in Beta on the English Wikipedia.


We propose to address the concerns raised in the RFC in the following ways:

  1. Make the feature private. In other words, all collections created by Gather will only be visible to their creators.
    1. This will address (in the short term) the objectionable features of Gather related to moderation, encyclopedic content and image copyright. We believe that is a compromise that balances the objections from community members while maintaining value for the users of Collections.
  1. Once the feature is private, start the clock on a 60 day countdown.
  2. During this period, we will work on the following tasks:
    1. In consultation with current users of the feature, we create a plan for export their collections if the feature gets disabled.
    2. Discuss potential product arcs with the community (for example, collections, books, watchlists).
    3. Explore potential solutions to problems with the feature.
  3. If we do not have a viable roadmap by the end of the 60 day countdown, we will disable the feature.

We believe this proposal will:

  1. Allow us to address concerns of the users of the feature in a reasonable way.
  2. Engage in a meaningful discussion around product’s goals and other related issues.

We will initiate the technical work in our next development cycle, which starts February 29. We expect to complete the work to make the collections private about one month later.

We have considered the lessons learned from this experience and will address them during subsequent development cycles:

  1. Be transparent about aspirations, goals and execution and involve the community from the start in planning and prioritization.
  2. Understand and respect community culture, values and requests during all stages of development.
  3. A less risky and more iterative deployment strategy starting on less heavily trafficked wikis and projects before rolling out to the larger communities.
  4. Be clear with and adhere to communicated exit and promotion criteria.


More than twenty people from the Reading team participated in the discussion and collaboration that led to this proposal. I am telling you this because I think it shows the level of interest that exists around this feature and the subsequent community reaction. Personally, I’m proud of my team for being able to agree on the proposal showing the concerns they have for the community, the project, and collaborative decision making in general.

When the Reading team was started, as noted in the RFC, we announced our actions as they were being developed. Last quarter we published our roadmap and planning process and this quarter we have invited community members to join in. We are trying. We look forward to a more collaborative relationship.