Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

12 Sep 2014, 11:54 a.m.

I'm Leaving My Job At The Wikimedia Foundation

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2014 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

(Music for this entry: "You Can't Be Too Careful" by Moxy Früvous; "Level Up" by Vienna Teng; "Do It Anyway" by Ben Folds Five; "Teenagers, Kick Our Butts" by Dar Williams.)

I've regretfully decided to leave the Wikimedia Foundation, and my last day will be September 30th.

I've worked at WMF since February 2011, so I've seen the Foundation grow from 70 to 214 people. It's the best job I've ever had and I've grown a lot. And my team and my bosses are tremendously supportive. In April I summarized my work achievements from the past four years and I remain proud of them. Most recently, I'm proud of co-mentoring Frances Hocutt, who's about to turn her energies to Growstuff API development (with help from your donations).

But I want to redefine myself and grow in new directions, as a maker and activist. Wikimedia has 13 years of legacy code and thousands of vocal stakeholders, and WMF has one office, in San Francisco. I'm a junior-level developer (I'm a much better software engineer than I am a coder) but don't want to move to San Francisco, where we (understandably) prefer to have junior devs onsite. And I'd like to try out what it's like to get better at making software, to have more of a blank slate and perhaps less of a public spotlight, to work face-to-face with a team here in New York City, and to exclude destructive communication from my life (yes, there's some amount of burnout on toxic people and entitlement). One of the things I admire about Wikimedia's best institutions is our willingness to reflect and reinvent when things are not working. I need to emulate that.

I remain on the board of directors of the Ada Initiative, which aims to close the gender gap in Wikimedia and other open culture/source projects. (Please donate.) And I don't see any way I could stop being a Wikimedian and pursuing the mission. You'll see me as User:Sumanah out on the wikis.

After I wrap things up at Wikimedia Foundation, I'll be privileged to spend six weeks at Hacker School, concentrating on learning how to crank out websites and fiddling with web security, and then in late November I'll be meeting other South Asian geek feminist women at AdaCamp Bangalore. Aside from that I'm open to new opportunities, especially in empowering marginalized groups via open technology.

"Level Up" by Vienna Teng. ("If you are afraid, come out.") And heck, why not, a Kira Nerys fanvid I love, set to "Shake It Out" by Florence + The Machine. ("So tonight I'm gonna cut out and then restart.")


12 Sep 2014, 13:13 p.m.

I'm sorry to hear you will be leaving the WMF, as I felt you did a capable job while you have been there, but if you feel you would be better served doing other things, you have prayers and best wishes on your future endeavors,

12 Sep 2014, 14:21 p.m.

Thank you so much for all of your work with OPW this summer. You've been such an inspiration to me. (From the very beginning to the videos you posted above!!)

I can't wait to hear about your newest adventures!!

Seth Schoen
12 Sep 2014, 20:59 p.m.

Hi Sumana, I hope you have lots of fun and lots of success with your next undertakings!

13 Sep 2014, 11:44 a.m.

Hi, Sumana! This is big news! Congratulations!

I wish that commute-by-teleporter were a thing, because I would invite you to apply at my (teaching-friendly, junior-dev-friendly, Python and open source-based) workplace. I would love so much to work with you!

But there are obviously many great opportunities in NY, and I know you'll find someplace awesome, there. I look forward to hearing more about this adventure! :)

13 Sep 2014, 17:07 p.m.

Congratulations on forward motion!

Toni Hermoso
14 Sep 2014, 10:16 a.m.

Thanks for all your work in WMF and good luck with your new challenges!

David Richfield
14 Sep 2014, 11:07 a.m.

Good luck! I found it educational and inspiring to have contact with you through the movement, and I'm sure you'll keep on making a difference in the next phase of your career.

14 Sep 2014, 16:21 p.m.

Best of luck with your new adventure! Thank you for everything you've done for getting Wikimedia involved in OPW and as a career advisor for OPW this round! It's so awesome you are going back to Hacker School and then to AdaCamp Bangalore! I'm just glad we'll keep working together in one way or another :).

16 Sep 2014, 18:04 p.m.

I've said as much through other mediums, but: congratulations on 3+ years of incredible work and also on being able to recognize when a change is needed. Good luck in all things. :)

24 Sep 2014, 22:21 p.m.

Sumana,<br/>Great were the times that you were around.<br/>Great are the times that you are around.<br/>And, I am sure, greater will be the times because you will be around still..

..because, that's how intensely the passions of you and Wikimedia are bonded to each other.

Have a good break. Conquer yet more terrains...<br/>:)<br/>