Topic on Talk:Phabricator/Creating and renaming projects

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Requiring consensus for spaces

11
MZMcBride (talkcontribs)
AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)
Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I'm thinking about the practical aspects, and I foresee those conversations going like this:

Alice: I need a private space to do my job.
Bob: I object! I don't even know what you're doing, but there's no need for you to keep anything private. Everything you do should be visible to everyone in the world.
Alice: I'm evaluating software that we might buy next year. I really do need to keep some of my work private, especially from the salescritters that we're dealing with.
Bob: I object! There's no community consensus for you to have a private space on Phabricator!
Alice: I can't do this work on Phabricator if I can't keep it private there.
Bob: I object! We all share Phabricator. If you create a private project, then that'll somehow make Phabricator worse for the rest of us!
Alice: *shrugs* Okay, I guess I'll use Asana instead. Goodbye.


When the person doing the work believes that it's best for that work to be done in private, then that work will be done in private. The only question is whether that's a private space on Phab or a private space elsewhere. Consequently, there's no realistic possibility of refusing "private projects"; there's only the possibility of encouraging people to have those private projects off Phab and therefore completely out of your sight.

Krenair (talkcontribs)

Your comments there were addressed and you eventually said "This task does not feel like a good use of my time. I've explained my views more than once, so I'm leaving this conversation.", so why are you now objecting here?

@Whatamidoing (WMF), private projects *in* Phabricator are kept completely out of our sight (the most obvious example of this is that our administrators cannot enforce any oversight of such spaces because their powers do not extend over policies), which is the problem. Not to mention the fact that giving someone a private space in phabricator allows them to take public tasks and hide them away where noone else can see them. The fact that people can get away with doing Wikimedia things in private which do not need to be is not our problem if it does not occur on our sites, we should not allow it to happen in places we can control.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

On Phab, you at least know that the private projects exist, and usually who's involved in it. Publicly requesting a private project is, itself, a form of transparency. In practical terms, the choice is between "know that the project exists on Phab" (minimal transparency on Phab) and "no transparency at all" (private projects are handled elsewhere). "Elsewhere" is still "our sites" and "places we can control": they will (and do) happen in WMF-controlled spaces that simply aren't available to the public. Consider, e.g., the long list of private wikis that the WMF has created: three billion internet users, 30 million registered editors – and fewer than 500 people (every one of whom has signed non-disclosure agreements) can read anything at collab.wikimedia.org beyond the main page.

I agree that it would be annoying to have a previously public task suddenly disappear. Everyone should exercise some discipline and care to prevent tasks that ought to be public from disappearing into private spaces. In my own experience, this has not been a major problem, but perhaps some individuals or teams have been less careful about it. But that's a risk regardless of whether it's your opinion that any given project ought to be private or not. Anybody could mark my tasks as being sensitive security matters, and from my POV, those tasks would disappear.

AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I'm objecting here because I also objected in Phabricator. If you think someone is "doing Wikimedia things in private which do not need to be", feel free to contact that someone (because that's what I'd do too). People are very free to "hide their tasks away" in other places than Phabricator if that makes you any happier (but I doubt). Your objections related to Phabricator Spaces don't solve any actual underlying problems.

Krenair (talkcontribs)

I don't think that 'people can get away with it elsewhere' is a very convincing argument against making something against our rules, and the logical conclusion of it is terrible. I do think we need to ensure wikimedia principles are enforced when people are using our resources.

MZMcBride (talkcontribs)

Andre: you seem to be talking in circles. In the linked Phabricator comment you write "As already explained, there was no need to address your concern beforehand, as per guidelines." Krenair attempted to update the guidelines and you reverted his edit. Now you're pointing back to your comment? This doesn't make any sense.

Phabricator is a shared resource and its use should be governed by consensus, as far as I'm concerned. Referencing other places, private or non-private, is a distraction. We're discussing Phabricator and practices surrounding it.

You (Andre), as I understand it, have advocated for a fairly restrictive policy for creating projects/tags in Phabricator. Why would private spaces in Phabricator be treated differently? It seems pretty clear to me that we should default to having everything be open and only grant exceptions with a demonstrated need, after reaching a consensus among Phabricator users and participants that such a need exists.

MZMcBride (talkcontribs)

Andre: again, arguing that people can hide tasks in other systems is a distraction from what's being discussed here. We're discussing Wikimedia's installation of Phabricator and specifically your actions within it. While it's undoubtedly true that people can hide their tasks elsewhere, the point of this page and its associated talk page is to discuss Wikimedia's installation of Phabricator and its policies, guidelines, and processes. We (you, me, Krenair) can't control how others behave, but nobody is asking for that. They're asking that the place we do control, phabricator.wikimedia.org, be governed by openness and consensus.

AKlapper (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Openness is provided by having to request (private) Spaces in a public task ("explain why there are repeatedly tasks in your project which should only be accessible by a defined group of people") and by documenting existing Spaces. Basic information about the (public and associated) project was requested and was provided. We seem to disagree if the provided information was sufficient - for my needs, it was, and it also was when the Ukrainian chapter asked for a Space and other previous Space creation requests.

Consensus is definitely desirable. When "missing consensus" is used as an argument to block people from being able to plan and perform their work it is rather counter-productive though.

The attempt to "update" the guidelines was putting a very restrictive policy in place for no convincing reasons. If you think that the current Space / project description is way too unclear (obviously I do not think so), feel free to contact the project maintainers, as with any other Phabricator project description. That is all possible already without having to "update" the guidelines.

Whatamidoing (WMF) (talkcontribs)

> They're asking that the place we do control, phabricator.wikimedia.org, be governed by openness and consensus.

The consensus is: Groups can have private spaces, if they believe that they need them and can openly explain why they believe they need privacy. Therefore, creating such spaces is a true example of "being governed by openness and consensus".

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