(Pasted from previous discussion page)
Hey, since there are some "how do we do this" notes... Why not match these volunteers or interns with actual product managers at the Wikimedia Foundation? Product management is not a common role in FOSS communities or in general, and throwing random volunteers at such a little-known and largely misunderstood profession seems like a recipe for disaster. If we're being honest, Platform and Ops are a really dangerous territory to bring in completely inexperienced product managers who may be flaky or poison the well. These departments have generally never had PMs, and our value is unsurprisingly little understood in those areas of Wikimedia/MediaWiki engineering. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 01:10, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
- I completely agree with you. However, my understanding is that the primary motivation for setting up a volunteer PM program is that the Product department at the WMF doesn't have enough resources to manage those projects, nor bandwidth to mentor or guide volunteers to do it. I believe a conversation is currently happening at the Tech Director level to clear that up a bit, because there isn't yet a shared understanding among them of the whys and hows. In the meantime, what I'm focusing on is a lightweight system where the activities in need of PM resources consistently provide a list of clear calls to actions that volunteers can get involved in (for example, prioritizing bug reports or features requests), because it seems like something that can be useful regardless of the outcome of the D-level discussion. Does that make sense? guillom 22:54, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
- Product management is a normal role in any team environment - but it is not necessarily a designated one. If needed, someone steps up and starts coordinating the team and stuff happens, but they don't need any fancy title or what have you to do so, they just do it. You only get the designated folks with titles and such when that stops working, or when there are higher ups that don't expect it to work/keep working (and with bigger projects they tend to be right, but many FOSS projects tend to be made up more of little things where such designation, if anything, is as like to get in the way as anything else).
- To call out Uncyclopedia as a personal example, we don't have product managers so much as people who will rip your head off if you break certain things, but in the end the effect is about the same. Things inevitably get broken anyway, and that is why we have these folks - so they get fixed. But at the same time, none of us knew what we were doing coming in - we learned because we needed to. We cared for the project and did what was necessary and by the gods it actually worked. And that's the beauty of FOSS - people care, and people learn. These are projects we can sink our teeth into because they matter to us, and nevermind how clueless we are starting starting out, we learn precisely because we can get into it and actually be part of it. -— Isarra ༆ 07:45, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
- "...we don't have product managers so much as people who will rip your head off if you break certain things, but in the end the effect is about the same. Things inevitably get broken anyway, and that is why we have these folks - so they get fixed" That's not really what a product manager does. Or at least, it's a lot more than making sure bugs get fixed and functional requirements are met. Anyway, you're right that product management is a role just as much as a job, and lots of teams have those needs met by others informally. That can be perfectly healthy. My concern is more to do with setting up volunteer product managers to fail, and souring developers in Platform/Ops on the idea of product managers altogether. Steven Walling (WMF) • talk 22:02, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
- Everybody fails. It's how people learn. Fearing to fail just makes the inevitable failure worse and the learning less useful. If the folks want to work with people and want them to learn, general failures won't sour anything - but that does take effective communication to get set up in the first place. Fortunately communication a key skill especially for an official sort of product manager, so that should be no trouble if you help work with them. -— Isarra ༆ 18:12, 3 March 2013 (UTC)