I am okay with this either way, and it seems that at least two of the folks spearheading these groups think they should be separate and focus on different areas. There is obvious overlap, and I am in a position where I will benefit from and contribute to both of them. I am using this as an opportunity to just blurt out a whole bunch of thoughts. It is easier than waiting for them to come up, and it will help us all get on the same page (if it is the case that I am not the only one not on said page). ^_^
Pros of a single group:
- Single points of contact - As it is, we are going to have to consolidate some of our communication channels, since to get anything to a group, I have to post in multiple places. This is a communications issue, but it is multiplied by multiple groups, and it would useful to collapse those channels for two groups that have overlap.
- Diversity - It is uncharacteristic of me, but I actually think this would benefit one side more, the develops among us. Writers, especially the dedicated ones that might start projects of their own will of course want access to a pool of folks to work with. Members who are inclined to the more technical aspects of running and configuring a wiki would greatly benefit from see how they are actually used, and to have a feedback loop where writers are equal-class citizens. This is a digital divide thing, and it is important to me.
- I am selfish - I like keeping things simple, and having one group is easier than two. Consider this my disclaimer!
Cons of a single group:
- Potentially too much noise - I don't know what volume of messaging will happen. I can't think there are many things that one group would be concerned with that another wouldn't. Even though the meetup group is called the Wikimedia Engineering Group, the next talk is Brion talking about the mobile interface, which is important to everyone, and it is also important that lots of different folks are present to ask questions that affect them. All the events that Wiki BUG mentioned would be posted here, and so far the wikimedia-sf list has been fairly low volume. I don't think anyone is so technically inclined that they don't want to hear about an edit-a-thon happening; we are all interested in this stuff!
- Confusion with branding. Bigger discussion than will fit in a list item.
As far as I can tell, Quim solicited suggestions for a group name and no one spoke up, so it became MediaWiki Group San Francisco. However, it is more than the city, and as Pete has pointed out, the region served by BART is a good, logical grouping, and I think the SF group feels the same. I'm in Berkeley, myself. I think the SF group overlaps the same area as Wiki BUG, in practicality if not in name.
The SF group has an ambiguous mission, but the gist is that we should be an easy outlet for folks to interact with the WMF and MediaWiki communities (an interactive outlet is probably called an inlet...). If we can leverage non-Foundation employees/contractors, all the better. In this way, we are mostly left to do our own thing, but we have reps from WMF coaching us and offering resources, such as the WMF offices for meetups. We haven't established an alternative meetup yet, but it has been suggested that we have something separate from the Wikimedia Engineering group's. Quim, tell me if I am off, or if your vision is drastically different.
Wiki BUG, on the other hand, is a group of wiki writers (which I personally prefer over "editors", by the way), that use the methods and some of the tech to run a bunch of non-WMF projects, in addition to being Wikipedians. Pete, why is it that you folks are trying to become a sanctioned group, from the WMF? I suspect it is because we use Wikimedia sites as a central place for wiki stuff, and it makes sense to use their resources where we can to further the entire hobby/industry/passion/art/technology of wiki.
I know it seems like there are two axes: MediaWiki versus Other, and Techies versus Writers. I just don't those axes being particularly long. Instead, I think that there are so many benefits from exposing all the various folks that we would attract separately, it makes a lot of sense to bring them all together.
Also, I like the name better, though I would leave out the space: WikiBUG. San Francisco is a privileged word (I live in the Bay Area, not the SF Bay Area), and it makes some folks feel excluded. And as it stands, I think that if someone is looking for groups to join, they are going to look at one or the other, are not going to find the overlap, and will pick one instead of both.
Whew! Okay, with that out of the way, if folks still feel they should be separate, then I have some pointed advice on how to ensure that there is cross-pollination, and that we are encouraging folks to participate in the other.