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Wikimedia Foundation’s new VP of Engineering introduces himself

By Stanistani, with additional reporting from Nathalie Collida

Recently Wikipedia’s parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, selected a new VP of Engineering, Texas University Computer Science graduate Damon Sicore. This may well mark a watershed in the WMF’s recruiting practices for its software team, given that until recently, a commitment to spending large amounts of time on Wikipedia was often deemed a more important qualification than actual professional training and experience. Some of the high-profile software hires at the WMF were not sourced from the considerable talent pool in the Bay Area, but from much farther afield. James Forrester, the product manager for the troubled VisualEditor, is a British Politics graduate and former civil servant who has been editing Wikipedia since 2002. Oliver Keyes, another British import, has a degree in Law but is employed as a “research analyst” for the WMF, with a special focus on Flow, a discussion system with severe teething problems. Another long-term Wikipedian, Ukraine-born Maryana Pynchuk, holds various degrees in Eastern European languages and literature. Yet, at the WMF, she earns her keep as a product manager for mobile web communications.

Damon Sicore, on the other hand, is not only local and without a prior history of editing Wikipedia, he also has impressive credentials, including six years as Vice President of Engineering at Mozilla, the corporation most famous for its Firefox web browser. But in spite of his wealth of professional experience, he got off to an awkward start by quoting Che Guevara, the controversial Argentinian/Cuban guerrilla leader, as an inspiration for Damon’s Call to Action. Okay, we all have different heroes.

A few days later, Mr. Sicore held what were whimsically described as ‘office hours’ using the ancient Internet Relay Chat (IRC) system.

If you comb through the logons, logoffs, dropped connections, miscues and other

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