Topic on Talk:Wikimedia Technical Committee/Charter

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System vs. software architecture, "software"

Summary by KSmith (WMF)

Systems architecture is considered to be in scope. Adding member(s) with knowledge of ops systems is planned. Also, TechCom is committed to reaching out to affected teams (such as ops, in the case of systems issues) prior to making decisions.

Faidon Liambotis (WMF) (talkcontribs)

One of the reasons ArchComm has always felt a little out-of-scope and honestly, a little boring :) for us opsens is that it has traditionally focused on very esoteric software architecture decisions (e.g. dependency injection), and less so on the broader system/platform architecture of our software stack and its application in production.

There are obviously counterexamples (the SOA RFC and the Thumbnail RFC from 2013 come to mind) but this context-switching between vastly different abstraction layers of our stack and level of detail have made the committee a bit impossible to follow or join. It has also resulted in at least the appearance being that ArchComm was not really interested in that sort of level of detail and thus a lot of the broader architectural work happening outside the committee -- and, frankly, in my opinion, with most committee members even unaware of the changes in that space.

Is that something that you have thought about and if so, what is your opinion on this? (This won't be a surprise either, I've discussed this with a number of you already before)

Daniel Kinzler (WMDE) (talkcontribs)

We have indeed thought about this, and the intended solution is "recruit more people with a wider range of expertise". Adding an ops person to the committee is high on the wish list - after all, the committee used to have an ops member.

We are currently in the process of considering new members to invite.

Krinkle (talkcontribs)

@Faidon Liambotis (WMF): I agree system architecture is in-scope. See also Topic:Tsbmmoubdfkoy41s#flow-post-tsroqqw2qud22bks. With regards to following/joining, I hope this is addressed by improving communication.

Such RFCs would already be tagged with #Operations (and any more specific tags). They'd also be in the status update on Wikitech-l. And in general, I don't think it would make sense to discuss such RFC without input from opsen (regardless of whether or not we'd succeed in recruiting operations members to the committee). For example, by pinging relevant members from the conversation on Phabricator, informally over IRC, inviting to a hangout meeting when the committee discusses the RFC, and by announcing and inviting you to the public IRC meeting when a meeting about the task has been scheduled.

What kind of communication would you prefer for hearing about such proposals? We could also announce them as part of SoS.

Faidon Liambotis (WMF) (talkcontribs)

You're raising a semi-related issue that I've had with past ArchComm decisions and that I have mentioned before but one that it's probably worth surfacing again: "silent approval".

I recall at least one ArchComm decision that was made in the absence of all the affected teams (like us), with the assumption being made that since we weren't present in the IRC meeting, we were OK with the proposal. Granted, the last occurence of this I can recall is years ago and it may just have been an isolated incident, but perhaps it's worth calling it explicitly: if a team is affected, ArchComm needs to actively seek involved parties' input, and don't make any decisions unless the affected parties have been involved, rather than just go ahead unless someone objects. The incident I recall was before "last calls" and emails to wikitech-l were instituted, so this may have helped already quite a bit and may not be a problem in practice nowadays, which is why I hesitated to make it yet another topic in this conversation before.

As for ways to communicate with ops, or any other affected team for that matter… your ideas make sense to me. I'm not too worried about figuring that part out, as long as the intention is there :)