Wikimedia Foundation elections/Board elections/2007/Candidates/Oscar/questions

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Contents

Candidacy Questions

Board election?

[This question originally posted at User talk:Oscar#User_talk:Oscar#Board_election.3F.] Will you be appointed, or stand for election? IV.3 is not clear. -- Jeandré, 2007-06-03t10:47z

i was appointed like kat for 6 months, on one of the two seats with which the board expanded last december, in the future open for elected candidates for a regular two years term. we are to remain appointed board members until the same date as ends the term of the elected member erik moeller, who was elected for 9 months to complete the term of angela after her resignation. it was kat and i who were appointed since we came in as nrs 2 and 3 after erik in the results of the elections of 2006. all three of us have incomplete terms therefore, ending at the same moment.
i will stand for re-election as well, since the work we did in the last 6 months needs to be continued and taken into its next phase, personally i hope by the exact same people; this board has grown into a diverse yet efficient team by now. best regards, oscar 23:11, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Ads, branding, business dev.

[These question originally posted at User_talk:Oscar#Board_election.3F.]

I'm busy creating an article for the Wikipedia Signpost about the board election candidates' positions on certain topics, and was wondering if you'd like to answer some questions:
  1. Will you vote for ads on Wikimedia sites?
    1. yes
      1. pop-ups/flash/banners/graphics
      2. flash/banners/graphics in skin whitespace or at bottom
      3. company logos in site notices
      4. prominent text ads
      5. company names in site notices
      6. text ads in skin whitespace or at bottom
      7. opt out
      8. opt in
      9. other
    2. only for a huge amount of money
    3. only during budget emergencies
    4. only if editors support it
    5. never
    6. other
  2. What are your thoughts on Wikimedia branding?
  3. What are your thoughts on the foundation's hiring of a business developer? -- Jeandré, 2007-06-04t19:14z

dear jeandré, i will try to answer your questions in a concise way, as clear as possible. if you have any further questions, please let me know.

  1. Will you vote for ads on Wikimedia sites?
    • it depends a bit on style and context but personally i do not like advertisements in general, i tend to even avoid looking at them, avoid listening to them, when i can. more important for me in this respect however is that wikimedia retains her independence and freedom. for this, economic independence is required, which means generating some kind of an income out of our potential. with the amount of traffic the wikimedia projects currently attract, other income generating activities are perfectly possible, even though its advertising potential is enormous. oscar 09:24, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
  2. What are your thoughts on Wikimedia branding?
    • an essential area to consider: i will answer on the topics/questions presented there over the weekend. oscar 09:24, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
      • Yes check.svg Done best regards, oscar 14:46, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
  3. What are your thoughts on the foundation's hiring of a business developer?
    • i am very happy we are starting to have the essential jobs of wikimedia-staff being perfomed by more than one person only, in collaboration with the community of course. business development in my opinion is a crucial task. oscar 09:24, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Many thanks for answering. -- Jeandré, 2007-06-08t12:47z

These answers won't be part of an article on Signpost. -- Jeandré, 2007-06-13t11:09z

GHGs.

One more question: How would you vote on the board about the foundation reducing or offsetting anthropogenic greenhouse gases, e.g. power used by hardware, flights, etc.? -- Jeandré, 2007-06-08t12:58z

there are many such things which intentions i would certainly support in general but that i think just do not belong to our core mission as an organization. david attenborough's state of the planet mentions a core list of 5 of these global environmental problems, not just the emission of greenhouse gases. i quote attenborough: "today, we have the ability to make a difference, and what the human species does to the planet over the next 50 to 100 years will determine the future of all life on earth." and "somehow, we must find ways of reducing the pressures we're putting on the planet." i share these concerns and worries.
attenborough in fact lists the following basic problems:

  1. over-harvesting
  2. the introduction of alien species
  3. the destruction of habitats
  4. the piecemeal destruction of populations caused by islandisation of habitat
  5. pollution of the atmosphere (especially global warming that results from human activities that pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere)

although i certainly share these concerns, and feel that where feasible, all of us should indeed very much contribute to a better environment where possible, not just by reducing pollution, yet i also think that these matters simply do not, nor should they, make part of our core mission as wikimedia. oscar 11:04, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Non-free images and other media

Hi Oscar. What are your opinions on the use of non-free images and other non-free media on Wikimedia Foundation projects? Should they be used at all, or disallowed completely? (Unlike the other candidates I'm asking, I'm already pretty sure of your opinions on the 23 March board resolution regarding licensing, based on the fact that you voted in favor. Am I correct that you continue to support it?) Picaroon (Talk) 20:15, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

yes i continue to support it, especially in view of the special cases made possible by an EDP, as formulated in this recently adopted resolution. i believe we have to be consequent with our licensing policy to make sure we live up to our mission regarding the dissemination of freely licensed educational content. best regards, oscar 10:05, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Change

Hi Oscar,

What is the top 3 things you want to have changed in the current strategy of the foundation? Thanks, Effeietsanders 21:11, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

i think we are already developing along this path, but this is my idea of important things to work on in the coming time; among and in addition to the things which are already under development i would like to mention especially:
  1. develop further more effective strategic communication between wmf/office/board and communities/chapters (e.g. lately in the absence of an ed the board has been overworking imho), and revise committee-structure where needed. personally i still believe in the possibility and necessity of forming (what i call) an advisory council (link is still red, yes, see also search results with frankfurt retreat links) with (elected) community-representatives from all over the projects/planet, so different from the advisory board;
  2. set up a system of statistics to improve the management information system wmf needs to facilitate further development of regular income by business development, apart from fundraising a.o. also through branding, expanding effective use of trademarks etc.;
  3. develop further more effective strategic communication between the community of editors and developers.
best regards, oscar 10:58, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Added Value

Hi Oscar,

What kind of value do you add to the current set of boardmembers in the area of Legal, Financial, Accounting etc expertise? (In your case: to the other current boardmembers ;-) ) Thanks, Effeietsanders 21:11, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

i am perhaps rather a generalist than a specialist; apart from my added value as a creative person being a professional artist, having been an interim manager i have expertise in the financial and organisatory areas as well. best regards, oscar 11:22, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
What kind of expertise in financial/organizing? Any academic degrees in those areas? Swatjester 13:54, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
i was an interim-manager in both profit and non-profit sectors. i mostly worked to help implement reorganizations, and once to investigate a fraud. i do not have any academic degrees other than in music, in which i am not planning to do a doctorate before i finish my term(s) as wikimedia board member btw. oscar 08:18, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Project autonomy

To what degree do you feel the foundation should get involved in the running of different projects? Do you lean towards the near-complete autonomy most projects are given today or a more hands on approach? Also, what would be your position on a Wikimedia-wide arbcom and how do you see the other Wikipedias (and other projects too, I suppose) in contrast to the English Wikipedia? Should they all basically be built upon the same main principles (let's say we disregard the inclusionist vs. deletionist part) and if so, what can\should the foundation do to ensure this? Yonatanh 01:44, 13 June 2007

autonomy means self-government, and the wmf is not a governing but a facilitating organisation. i strongly believe in the autonomy of the projects, and in that of the chapters as well, for that matter (all within the scope of our mission and within the boundaries set by the law of course); it is the only construction that scales with our growth. the idea of a wikimedia-wide arbcom makes me think of the international court of justice or perhaps rather the international criminal court; such bodies may perhaps be needed at some point in the future (i hope: *not*, in any case the communities themselves should have a large voice in such a decision), but then mainly to ensure the autonomy, coherence and quality of the projects is not permanently endangered by concerted abuse, in my humble opinion. best regards, oscar 11:51, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Ads

What are you views on advertisements on Wikimedia projects? Would you support a resolution that forced Wikimedia projects to use ads? Would you support a resolution that gave projects the right to vote on the use of advertisements? Would you support a resolution that forbid the user of advertisements? Mets501 02:27, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

(quoting myself if you permit, from above:)
it depends a bit on style and context but personally i do not like advertisements in general, i tend to even avoid looking at them, avoid listening to them, when i can. more important for me in this respect however is that wikimedia retains her independence and freedom. for this, economic independence is required, which means generating some kind of an income out of our potential. with the amount of traffic the wikimedia projects currently attract, other income generating activities are perfectly possible, even though its advertising potential is enormous. oscar 09:24, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Flagged revisions

What is your view on the use of flagged revisions to help prevent vandalism from appearing before it is reverted and the extension's possible use to mark "quality" versions which would display by default even instead of the stable (non-vandalized) version? The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mets501 (talk • contribs) .

i applaud the idea, and would basically like to see it implemented rather yesterday than tomorrow, but the exact specifications may need some more refining before implementation, and this should involve the communities rather than the board imho oscar 11:41, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Office evolution

In what way do you forsee the office (and staff) evolving under your tenure as a board member, should you be elected? i.e. would you be in favor of expansion, contraction, status quo, more interns, new positions, less, what?Swatjester 01:08, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

i forsee that the foundation office will expand further, and also that more and more chapters will start having offices as well, as is already the case at present with wikimedia germany. compared to the vast number of people contributing to our projects however, and looking at the small amount of people actually on payroll, we will still remain a very small and flexible organization of course. best regards, oscar 08:02, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Lesser-known projects

What is your opinion on some of the projects that are not as well-known as Wikipedia? Would you favour a situation where attempts are made to nurture these projects rather than almost-solely concentrate on the one that has the highest profile? --Brian McNeil / talk 14:41, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

ever since i have been doing presentations, press-interviews etc about wikimedia, i have stressed the existence and importance of the fact that there is more to wikimedia than wikipedia, and shown people wherever possible all these projects. being a teacher myself, i love especially wikibooks and wikiversity, to which i still plan to start contributing regularly with my music knowledge in particular (developing teaching materials which i also plan to use e.g. in my music theory classes), but not before i have more time to start doing this faithfully.
no matter how interested, interesting, and important, one just can't do everything at the same time ;-)
i favor no one project in particular. as wikimedia, i believe it is our mission to develop them all. best regards, oscar 08:19, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Membership

Last December, the Wikimedia Foundation revised its bylaws to change itself from a membership organization to a non-membership organization. In a membership organization, the trustees are directly responsible to the membership; in a non-membership organization, the trustees are ultimately responsible only to one another (and indirectly to donors, who presumably will not donate if they feel the trustees are not being responsible). Do you feel that the Foundation, constituted as it is as a non-membership organization, provides sufficient structural checks and balances to ensure that the trustees observe their fiduciary responsibilities appropriately? Would a return to a membership structure, with the ability of members to bring policy proposals themselves at the annual meeting or by other methods, to remove board members by appropriate vote, and to sue the Foundation under certain conditions limit the ability of the Trustees to do what they need to do? If you do support a return to a membership structure, how would you determine who the voting members are? Kelly Martin 18:42, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

i fail to see who those all-powerful members would be, certainly not rich people or companies who would own the place instead, or? because that would certainly mean the foundation had become subject to another party and had lost its independence.
it is now the time of another kind of membership organization, it exists in various countries already: a wikimedia chapter, starts being organized everywhere. maybe this is causing some of the problems you address: a wikimedia chapter does not yet exist in the usa. ask around, some people actually consider the foundation to be a kind of "us-chapter": it is *not* imho. i personally think a us-chapter should first start by chapters in individual states rather, before an overall-organization can acually be organized, in the same way as an "eu-chapter" also becomes a possibility in the future. chapters would perhaps have some aspects of the kind of "membership" you describe or desire, they are an integral part to our fast growing network-like organization in a more scaleable manner. best regards, oscar 08:54, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

advisory council

Can you explain why the "now dormant special projects committee" is dormant? Is there any other person/system/structure of the WFM that has taken over the work of the special projects committee? How would an "advisory council" avoid the same kind of collapse that has plagued past committees? --JWSurf 03:53, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

to summarize my answers in a bulleted way:
  1. not all committees are dormant
  2. the spc started with a scope which was too broad, much of it actually overlapping with (at that time understaffed) tasks of the office
  3. all the people involved have been overburdened because they were at the same time struggling in other areas as well
  4. mind you: some of the subcommittees installed by the spc are still functioning
  5. the frankfurt board retreat envisioned a review of the committee-structure, which has not been done yet
  6. the adisory council i envision could have a similar role, without any delegated authority
i hope this answers your questions :-) best regards, oscar 09:18, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Committees

What is your opinion on the committees? Should the dormant committees seize to exist? Should the committee-structure as it is now be maintained? What can the Foundation do to make the committee(-like) structure in the future succeed? Thanks, Effeietsanders 06:51, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Checkuser policy

What is your opinion of the privacy policy, particularly relating to checkusering of adminship candidates? Majorly (talk) 13:25, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

the checkuser privacy policy (which went live 8 months before the adoption of the foundation's general privacy policy) should prevent abuse of this powerful tool. i do not see how the policy would allow for routine checks of admin candidates, because its use is limited to a number of specifically described situations, i quote from the meta-page:
  • The tool is to be used to fight vandalism, to check for sockpuppet abuse, and to limit disruption of the project. It must be used only to prevent damage to one or several of Wikimedia projects.
  • The tool should not be used for political control; to apply pressure on editors; or as a threat against another editor in a content dispute. There must be a valid reason to check a user. Note that alternative accounts are not forbidden, so long as they are not used in violation of the policies (for example, to double-vote or to increase the apparent support for any given position).
"there must be a valid reason to check a user" says it all imho: any usercheck performed must have its own individual good reason, which is also why nowadays a commentary line (visible in the logs) is used with this recently improved tool. best regards, oscar 23:08, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Communication with communities

Smaller communities in my experience can have problem drawing attention of the Board to important community issues where Board input is really necessary. Do you recognise such needs are currently left unanswered, and what could change to let the Board process such requests?--Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 15:08, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

in daily practice, smaller communities could perhaps be assisted here and there first of all by the stewards, on the one hand technically, and on the other hand these may also adopt a temporary advisory role when needed? anyway, for all cases concerning the wikimedia foundation and its projects, there is now also the new Metapub, which i started in september 2006 to facilitate this kind of communication on-wiki (not everybody reads foundation-l). but most important in this regard: i am an advocate of installing an advisory council (yes the red link i have been speaking about before) with representatives from the communities of a variety of projects and languages which could serve as the more direct organizational link to the board we are currently missing and direly needing imho. best regards, oscar 23:33, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Foundation Growth

The Wikimedia Foundation is growing at much faster rate now than ever before. We are trying to establish ourselves as a stable, mature, international non-profit organization. What type of organizational and management skills can you offer that will benefit the foundation?

we are indeed moving step by step into a more mature organization, with all the "growing-pains" that go with "growing-up", imho basically we are doing well and on the right path, but of course a lot still needs to be done to further improve our current situation and further remain on this track. once all the necessary audit information is collected and provided (which should in fact be pretty soon now), we will be able to scrutinize the wikimedia foundation's current organizational and financial situation and procedures in depth, and come up with structural recommendations. though i am not a professional auditor myself, similar situations i have dealt with before many times in my work as interim-manager.

Also, our advisory board (http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Advisory_Board) is filled with experienced and competent professionals. The foundation can benefit greatly from their expertise and knowledge in various fields. Currently, their involvement in the foundation seems limited, how can you change the system to utilize their expertise? Do you think the advisory board should have more influence on decision-making? Vpatel 15:19, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

i think our current system is fine and only needs some time to fully fledge (yes indeed we now have an advisory board with angela as its chair and many excellent professionals on it; communication between board and avisory-board which goes by an email list is still relatively new and growing), imho it just needs a bit more time to grow into its full functionality, which is in itself understandable since the advisory board was installed so recently, and personally i am very much looking forward to the first joint retreat (if it is up to me: annual retreat) of both board and advisory board prior to wikimania 2007 in taiwan. best regards, oscar 19:20, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Religious Picture Ban – Muhammed (Islam) versus Bahá'u'lláh (Baha'i)

Islam is a religion which don't want to see/show pictures or images of the founder Muhammed. Baha'i is a religion which don't want to see/show pictures of the founder Bahá'u'lláh. Wikipedia in most languages show respect for Islam and don't show Muhammed. But Wikipedia in most languages show a picture of Bahá'u'lláh. Wikipedia show more respect for the picture ban in islam than it show for the picture ban in Baha'i. What do you think is the cause for this and do you think that Wikipedia shall treat religions equal? Caspiax

there are several reasons for this, at the time i happen to have been involved in the discussion about this on nlwikipedia in fact, and we found a good compromise with which the Baha'i contributors agreed as well: to put the picture of Bahá'u'lláh only at the article on himself (not on that on the religion), and at the bottom of the article, so it would be shown to those who at least scrolled through the whole article.
the reasons for this include:
  1. there exists a photograph of Bahá'u'lláh (apparently he himself consented to have his picture taken at the time)
  2. the official position of the Bahá'í is "There is no objection that the believers look at the picture of Bahá'u'lláh, but they should do so with the utmost reverence, and should also not allow that it be exposed openly to the public, even in their private homes."
so the two cases are different, also, there is no photograph of Mohammed.
we should treat knowledge npov as much as possible, each (type of) topic will have its own requirements. it means that this is respected: that important, relevant, real, and verified information is properly added, in a balanced manner (perhaps like in this case with respect to sensibilities if and when possible). we cannot allow our projects to be censored however. best regards, oscar 07:54, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

What are "free" works?

Hi Oscar,

  1. What is your opinion on the fact that the WMF has based its licensing policy on a definition of free cultural works that is not controlled by the WMF itself but by some external group? Doesn't that make it harder to adapt it, if that should ever become necessary?
  2. How should, in your opinion, requests for clarifications from the community regarding said licensing policy and/or the definition of free cultural works or their impact on the Wikimedia projects be handled?
  1. Trick question: would you consider Image:Empire State Building3 Dec.2005.jpg or Image:HH Polizeihauptmeister MZ.jpg "free" works? They are properly licensed CC-BY-2.0 and CC-BY-SA-2.5, respectively... (please look at the images before looking at the hint :-)

Cheers, Lupo 10:27, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Headquarters location

From time to time there has been discussion about whether the Foundation's current headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the United States, is the best location for the office. Do you think that the Foundation should continue to be headquartered in and operate out of Florida, or would you support a move to another location? If you think a move is appropriate, where would you move the Foundation to, and why? Kelly Martin 21:37, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Professional?=

By nature and design, wiki communities are an amateur, unstable amalgam of widely differing perspectives and agendas. There is no individual or collective responsibility and no competence test for participation. Yet, the board of the ever-expanding and legally constituted foundation that runs one of the world’s top websites, needs to be highly professionally, highly competent, collectively coherent and responsible. It must have business savvy, and be willing to make hard-nosed and even unpopular decisions. In your opinion:

  1. Is the current board, vision and structure fit for that purpose?
  2. Are you? (Would you be a competent candidate for a board in any non-profit venture?)

(same asked of all candidates)--Doc glasgow 14:44, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

allow me to attempt a redefinition of your definition:
  • you said "By nature and design, wiki communities are an amateur, unstable amalgam of widely differing perspectives and agendas."
    • i would propose wikimedia communities are an amalgam of widely differing professionals and non-professionals, with different degrees of professionalism towards their common workspaces: the wikimedia-projects.
this gives a pickup to my answer: yes, i think the current board and vision are fit for that purpose. as to the still evolving structure, i do think we can do with constant improvements, among other things an Advisory council which i suggested in my platform. with my professional background i believe i am a competent candidate, with relevant working experience as well. best regards, oscar 11:08, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Chapters

Taking into account the growing importance of Wikimedia chapters in furthering our common goals on the one hand and the impact the decisions made by the Wikimedia Foundation have on the work (if not existence) of the Wikimedia Chapters on the other hand: What do you think about the idea of giving the chapters a formal say in WMF's decision making process? What do you think especially about a) letting the chapters appoint one or more board members (beside the ones elected by the community) and/or b) changing the WMF back to a membership organization (with the chapters as members)? Do you have any other ideas to achieve more checks and balances between Foundation and chapters? On top of that, would you care to elaborate on your vision about the current and future role of the Wikimedia chapters? Thanks in advance, Arne (akl) 15:42, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

(i'll try to be as concise as i can here) i agree these are all very interesting future options and i consider them seriously worth discussing as well, but not until there are enough chapters to ensure true representation (hopefully in 2 years' time?). best regards. oscar 14:37, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Project policy involvement

What are your views on board involvement in writing and implementing policy for the various projects, especially in controversial areas where it appears that community consensus will be difficult to establish, such as on the "attack sites" [1] and biography of living people (BLP) [2] issues? Cla68 15:55, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

one of the major problems is the current use of the word "consensus" (translated into practice it can lead to a majority agreeing and enforcing the minority to comply), which however literally means "full agreement by all parties included", a thing unlikely to occur in such a wide community, even on fundamental issues. what is actually being strived for i would call something like "general agreement", or perhaps "broad consent". the wmf's task is to facilitate all its projects, and not to meddle with their basic self-regulation, to provide an organisatory and legal framework for them to keep growing, and, although we will have to comply with or even enforce some general legal and organisatory boundaries wherever necessary, whether these are given or set by law or by the ideal limitations implied in our mission, never give up our independency. i use to say intelligent decency needs no rules, which also implies that for intelligent indecency no ready-made rules may exist or even be generally possible. best regards, oscar 11:34, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

What if

What would you do/recommend when elected and faced with 40% budget deficit? Absolwent 18:41, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

although certainly a reason to worry, it is not one to get frantic over immediately: a budget-deficit technically means that planned expenses exceed planned income, which means there should still be some time to adjust the planning of things. this time-period should basically allow for thorough analyses of the reason(s) first and for taking appropriate action(s) next. the action(s) to be taken depend(s) on the outcome of the analyses really, and may vary from cutting on planned expenses to looking for additional income, and of course possibly both. oscar 08:39, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Stupid question

Why don't you use capital letters? w:User:SFGiants 02:21, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

i don't believe in stupid questions, though stupid answers are perfectly possible according to my experience ;-)
to answer your question: in the first place, simply because i like it. it may also be interpreted as an expression of my respect for equality. oscar 08:22, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Cash & users

We need money and people. We have lost users (for a while) after this event. Nobody expected it, but... the same was in 2006. Do you want to talk about money (with these wealthy guys) and what's your opinion about that event ;)? Przykuta 11:57, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Wikinews and Accredited reporters attending events

Wikinews may be one of the lesser-known projects, but we recently managed to get a contributor entry to the G8 conference. Efforts were made to get the Board involved in the drafting of a letter for the reporter's entry to the G8, but these received no response. As an involved party there is more about this issue on Eloquence's questions page [3]. What is your opinion on this, it is - I believe - an issue the board should take seriously. Those of us who contribute on Wikinews are ambitious enough to think that we can overtake the Wikipedia article count (although I may be retired before we manage it there are new news stories every day). As we really want to be able to do truly original reporting we need people who can "almost" say they represent us. Do you support this, and do you believe the board should have been involved for something as important as sending a reporter to the G8 conference? --Brian McNeil / talk 21:08, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Impending failure

The Wikimedia Foundation at a corporate level is soaked in its own drama and if conditions don't improve soon, it will crash and burn. I want the newly elected trustees to act as catalystic mediators to simply and peacefully transform drama into productivity and then success for the foundation. How do you plan on doing this? Signed, your friendly neighborhood MessedRocker. 06:09, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

we have been working on it, i have been working on it and will be in whatever capacity. perfection can be strived at but never attained. the best i can offer and have been dedicating for years now is the larger part of my freetime and my personal and professional experience of a 49 old composer and ex-interimmanager, a teacher and father of 4 children :-) best regards, oscar 11:56, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Smaller Wikis

Within the Wikimedia Foundation, there are multiple smaller wikis such as the Simple English Wikiquote, the Romanian Wikisource, and the Cherokee Wiktionary. All of these wikis lack local communities, and many go for long periods of time without any improvements made. Most also lack any active admins and 'crats and are prone to vandalism. First, do you think it is worth keeping these wikis, or do you think we should close them down until there is more active? Second, if they were to be kept, what would you do to improve the local communities? Wikihermit 20:39, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Some questions for existing board members

  1. Since the departure of Brad Patrick, both Brad and the Foundation have been remarkably silent regarding the state of the WMF office and the reasons for Brad’s departure. Did the Foundation sign an anti-defamation agreement with Brad? If so, does it prevent the Foundation from providing a factual account of the situation that led to Brad’s resignation? Did you vote in favor of or otherwise support this agreement?
    1. no such agreement was necessary, as both parties are decent professional people and trusted each other to remain professional about the professional differences that occurred.
  2. While I realize that travel expenses are a necessary part of conducting the affairs of the Foundation, some individuals in the community are concerned about the appropriateness of some travel expenses incurred by board members. Would you be willing to share a list of the trips you’ve taken at the Foundation’s expense, and the rationale and total cost of each trip?
    1. see my agenda for a rough checklist of my activities. discussing only those trips i did as a board member here, i don't have the exact figures but the nature of the costs the wmf reimbursed for these were:
      1. january 12-14 - wikimedia foundation board meetup in rotterdam - rationale: board meetup (organized by me), costs reimbursed: only meals and drinks (no alcohol).
      2. february 17-25 - wikimedia foundation office st. petersburg, florida - rationale: observing the office's daily practice, interviewing employees, costs reimbursed: (cheap) hotel, meals and drinks, train tickets to and fro the airport in holland, airplane ticket and travel costs in florida (airport shuttle roundtrip and car rental for one day).
      3. march 14-20 - wikimedia foundation board meetup in florida - rationale: board meetup a.o. with oppenheim, costs reimbursed: hotel, meals and drinks.
      4. may 4-6 lugano switzerland wikipedia day - rationale: invitation from this italian-language community and presentation, costs reimbursed: airplane ticket and only a small part of the costs for hotel, meals and drinks, rest paid for by invitor(s).
      5. june 1-3 wikimedia foundation board meetup in amsterdam - rationale: board meetup a.o. with sue gardner, costs reimbursed: none as yet (i did not use the offer to stay in a hotel but travelled by train to the venue instead).
  3. Concerning travel, many corporations adopt a travel policy to define acceptable and unacceptable expenses. At the board retreat last fall, a “reimbursement policy” was one of the items determined to be necessary, yet no such policy has been forthcoming. Do you support the adoption of such a policy by the Foundation?
    1. of course it is necessary to adopt a policy on this. we have been working on it since, and it was redrafted several times. it seems atm the final draft of this policy is (almost?) finished btw.
  4. Have you incurred any travel expenses that would be in violation of the typical limits of such a policy, e.g. first-class airfare, meal expenses in excess of $50 a day, or reimbursement of expenses other than transport, food, and lodging?
    1. no. some other expenses than travel expenses were also reimbursed though, such as photocopy costs in the rotterdam board meetup, and phone costs i had to make before we had a more cost-efficient phone-system for this.
  5. The Foundation does not make the votes of individual board members on matters before the board public. Do you believe it is wise for votes to be kept secret in this regard? Would you be willing to share your own voting record for the time you have been on the board?
    1. i believe that once adopted resolutions are public, the votes should be public as well. as to my willingness to share my voting record: yes, of course (maybe it's most efficient if you tell me which resolutions in particular you are intersted in, i will provide with this information).
  6. The board has stated that “involvement of board members in executive issues” is a major obstacle in recruiting an Executive Director. Do you agree with this statement? Do you believe that you personally have been involved in executive issues that are outside the board’s legitimate purview?
    1. after brad's resignation, we as board had to temporarily step in to "fill in the gaps", we did so without overstepping our mandate imho. the period in which the current three "interim board members" were active has been one of working very hard, and we were meeting much more often than any board of the wmf before us did (especially online, for a long time every week!). personally in the past 6 months i not only had to fulfil my duty but at the same time getting acquainted with all matters and procedures concerned pretty much on my own. that huge workload is luckily over now, especially now that the interim management responsibilities no longer need to be performed by the trustees after our hiring of a "consultant and special advisor to the wikimedia board of trustees".
  7. The Foundation’s most recently issued financial statement covered the period ending June 30, 2006. Do you believe that more frequent financial statements should be issued? If so, what steps have you taken as a board member to move towards more frequent reporting?
    1. there is as yet no management information system in place, it is one of my priorities that such be implemented asap, integrating all the necessary statistics as well!
  8. A major role of the board is oversight. Can you describe your oversight activities? How frequently have you visited the major operational sites (e.g. the Florida data center and the St. Petersburg office)?
    1. apart from having briefly visited sara in january, i have visited the office in florida twice, and described those trips above.

UninvitedCompany 21:23, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

i apologize for the delay in answering your questions. best regards, oscar 12:16, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Executive director

I'm asking this question of the other two existing Board members too.

To what factors do you attribute the failure of the Board to this date to hire an executive director? It is now more than a year since Brad Patrick was hired as interim executive director, and just shy of five months since Phillips Oppenheim was engaged to help find a candidate. --bainer (talk) 08:27, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

IRC Debate

This is a mass question being posted to all candidates. A couple days ago there was a proposal to hold an all candidates debate on IRC at a time TBD. The planning page is at ElectionDebate07 - please indicate if you are interested and if so, a time that would work for you. -- Tawker 23:00, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

i made it there after all, thx for your kind notification :-) greetz, oscar 13:46, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Signature

Why do you use a template (1, 2, 3, etc.) as a signature when it is specifically forbidden by the developers? In fact, it is forbidden technically, not just in terms of policy, if you were to use the normal method of signing with 4 tildes. —METS501 (talk) 04:30, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

if you are aware of the reason for the technical disabling by the developers of a sig like mine, then you should imho also appreciate this way around it which still renders a clickable sig. i am not aware of any ban on the technical solution with "home-made templates" that i am currently using. oscar 08:26, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
From the English Wikipedia signature policy (which I realize does not apply here or on other projects, but the statement by the developers is still valid)
Transclusions of templates and parser functions in signatures (like those which appear as {{User:Name/sig}}, for example) are forbidden, because the developers have determined them to be an unnecessary drain on the servers. Transcluded signatures require extra processing--whenever you change your signature source, all talk pages you have posted on must be re-cached.
Signature templates are also vandalism targets, and will be forever, even if the user leaves the project. Simple text signatures, which are stored along with the page content, use no more resources than the comments themselves and avoid these problems.
You'll also notice that if you had tried to put a template in the regular spot where you'd put a signature in your prefs, it would automatically add "subst:". This should give you a hint; it's not a bug. —METS501 (talk) 12:41, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
if you could help me change the technicalities of my sig without altering it's looks, i would be happy to adapt it :-) best regards, oscar 13:40, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
guess this is what you meant, my earlier sig version: oscar it does render a bit of a nasty string though. greetz, oscar 09:45, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Usability

Most Wikipedia users are technically inclined, but usability studies have turned up serious problems for non-geeks, and many of these problemsd remain uncorrected.

Have you read these usability studies? Do you consider them to be important? Would you commission more such studies? How would you implement their results?

Here's an example from just a couple months ago: a journalist working for a major newspaper thought that "there's no way to tell who wrote the entry or how many people contributed to it" until one of his readers corrected him -- he works for the media! How many regular people know how to check an article's contributors?
 If i might be permitted to opine for a second: the fact that you can view the revisions of an article should be obvious from the design of the webpage, but it's not: "history" is a terrible, non-obvious name for the function.

Put yourself in your parents' shoes: you're reading a page about Thailand that you found through Google, and you see a square that says "history". You click the square expecting to read about the history of Thailand and suddenly you're faced with a long, mysterious list of nonsensical words and numbers. You click the back button.
 Aaron Swartz gave one of the best summaries of the issue that I've seen:

"The page design the site uses encourages specific actions by making some links clear and prominent. Software functions like categories make certain kinds of features possible. The formatting codes used for things like infoboxes and links determine how easy it is for newcomers to edit those pieces of the site.

All of these things are political choices, not technical ones. It's not like there's a right answer that's obvious to any intelligent programmer. And these choices can have huge effects on the community.

...

One presentation was by a usability expert who told us about a study done on how hard people found it to add a photo to a Wikipedia page. The discussion after the presentation turned into a debate over whether Wikipedia should be easy to to use. Some...questioned whether confused users should be allowed to edit the site at all -- were their contributions even valuable?

As a programmer, I have a great deal of respect for the members of my trade. But with all due respect, are these really decisions that the programmers should be making?"

How would you solve this problem?

Tlogmer 00:10, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Recruiting expertise

Danny Wool has proposed replacing the current board with "a professional board consisting of captains of industry and academia" -- presumbaly, web leaders and information academics, etc. Do you agree? What do you think Wikipedia can learn from, for example, professional writers of paper encyclopedias like Britannica? How should the foundation best recruit their advice and put it into practice? Tlogmer 00:10, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Appropriate conduct for Board members

Recently, in a non-Mediawiki forum, Erik Moeller made the following comments: "Cyde's and Kelly's arguments are on the same level: they are driven by blind hostility, not thoughtful analysis." [4] Do you believe that responding to criticism of one's credentials and conduct as a member of the Board with personal attacks such as these is appropriate for a member of the Board of Trustees? Kelly Martin 01:41, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

the quoted text questions motives rather than credentials imho. considering the text(s) you wrote, could it be explained by the law of action and reaction perhaps? e.g. do you consider labeling someone "untrustworthy" without stating reasons and proof appropriate? best regards, oscar 08:53, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Wikiquote & copyright

What's your stance regarding Wikiquote and copyrights? As it is, most wikiquotes depend and extensively use fair use content, which is contrary to the philosophy of most other projects. What are your views on this? Should wikiquotes move to only free content? Should resolution on fair use have a special exemption for wikiquote? Should fair use be removed from Wikiquote after deadline for the resolution? drini [es:] [commons:] 16:06, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Cost

A bunch of questions :) Can you give an estimate of how much money that the foundation has spent so that you can attend meetings? Any other expenses? Do you know how much in total for all boardmembers, has been spent by the foundation in the last year? Will that cost be higher or lower, and why? How much money (estimate) does the foundation have on hand now? Are we gaining or losing money? If we are losing money, what can be done about it? Do you think that the foundation will have the same amount of money that it has now 4 months from now? If not, will we have more or less, why? I know that is a lot of questions, and I appreciate any responses. Thank you. —— Eagle101 Need help? 18:25, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

IRC Debate (2)

Hi, as this seems to get closer to the time that the elections are to start, I thought it would be best to go ahead and attempt to get the unofficial IRC debate a time and a place. By the time analysis on the talk page, the best time for the debate appears to be 1800 UTC, to 1900 UTC. As it would be best for this debate to occur before the elections, June 27 was chosen as the day. I know that this is short notice, but the whole unofficial debate thing was on a very short notice to start with. I hope that you are able to attend. Again the time is 18:00 UTC, June 27, 2007, it will be held at ##wikimedia-debate. Please do note that this debate is unofficial, and you are not required to attend. —— Eagle101 Need help? 20:38, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

thx for your kind notification :-) greetz, oscar 13:48, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Donors and scope

Asked of all candidiates: Okay, I'm not naive so yeah, it follows that large donors will probably get some pull when policies, direction and the scope of the foundation get decided, but what's your take on it all? How far do we bend to satisfy our donors, and to what extent are ideals of the foundation non-negotiable? In five years say, would you expect the foundation to still exist in the same legal fashion as now and assert ownership over the assets it currently has? Steve block 20:43, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

What do you do when faced with a difficult decision to take ?

I saw in the recent irc debate the following question. Would you support releasing the state of the foundation's finances quarterly? Why or why not.. Of course, making such a decision is a matter of board-level policy. Now, the job of the board is also oversight. So, let's imagine the hypothesis that the board made a policy for quarterly release, the staff was asked to provide the statements according to the policy... and in spite of this, the report does not come. As board, you are embarassed. First because the policy is not respected. Second because the community is complaining. And third because, with no financial statements, there is no oversight possible. Please imagine you are facing this situation, reminded the staff once, then twice, then three times, and still no report.

What do you do ? The preceding unsigned comment was added by Anthere (talk • contribs) .

if this turns out to be a structural problem, i'd probably hire someone else to do it and turn to a third party to get things done regularly and on time. just like cleaning the office, accounting can be commissioned to people not on our payroll. greetz, oscar 22:15, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

fund raiser and chapters

do you support to facilitate fundraising by offering a direct link to country specific donation possibilities? an example woulde be medecins sans frontier's donation page. in wikimedia's case the donation page for the year end fundraiser would contain flags, and the links behind the flags would go to the donation page of local chapters, for two reasons:

  1. local law (which donators know and can make use of) strengtens donators feeling, that their donations are used at their will
  2. local tax exemption allows to donate up to 50% more without paying more

--ThurnerRupert 12:14, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Committees

The committee system has been around for roughly a year and a half now, not counting previous initiatives. Several of the committees are now dormant and some never got off the ground. Some, conversely, have done fairly well.

I know this is a long-standing and groan-inducing topic of debate, but what is your view on the committee system? Do you have ideas for reviving the current committee system or making it more functional? Do you think there is a place in the Foundation, in theory at least, for community-based committees to do some of the day-to-day work or oversee certain areas? Who should the committees report to, ideally? Are there new committees that should be formed, or old ones to be reworked?

Sorry about posting my question(s) so late! Note: this is very similar to effe eits anders' question above, but I am asking this of all candidates. Thanks! -- phoebe 00:36, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

i like the basic idea of having a certain number of committees, and also i certainly think the committee structure as it is now should be re-evaluated thoroughly (we have discussed it in the board as well). i think in this discussion three parties should be involved: board, office and project-communities. so i rather prefer to have this done in a collaboration with e.g. an Advisory council with representatives from the projects, to have a maximum feedback from the community, instead of trying to "come up with a magical rabbit": my hat was not bought for such a purpose, if you get my meaning ;-) best regards, oscar 12:13, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Free resources

Wikipedia, being one of the ten most visited sites in internet, has some negotiation power. I believe we should be able to use this power in order to increase both the freedom and quality of the encyclopedia. In example, the board could contact copyright holders of promotional images (places, objects, models, singers, bands, etc), and convince them to release their items under a free license. I have been doing this myself, but I believe the Board could have better chances than a single person, a WikiProject or even a Wikipedia project. What do you think, do you think this could be a priority? And good luck! -- ReyBrujo 18:38, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Several questions

I am asking these exact same questions of you and all your opponents so I can make an apples-to-apples comparison.

  1. Do you think the Wikimedia Foundation should invest in stocks and bonds so that it has a source of income if donations dry up? If so, should its investment strategy be active or passive, diversified or focus, value or growth?
  2. Do you think the Foundation's spending on travel and conferences before it has a long-term source of income is responsible?
  3. Should some of the Foundation's major financial decisions, such as expansion of the paid staff, be subject to referenda of the editors and donors?
  4. The oversight function -- where edits are hidden even from admins -- has legitimate uses, but the potential for misuse is Orwellian. How can abuse be avoided?
  5. Do you believe control over Wikipedia content policy should ultimately rest with the man who created the skeleton of the site, or the editors who create its flesh and blood and/or their elected representatives?
  6. What is your position on freedom of expression in the User namespace?
  7. Where U.S. copyright law unfairly impedes Wikimedia Foundation projects, should the Foundation lobby for the law to be changed? If so, how should it do so without spending money it can't afford?
  8. To what extent is Wikipedia yet reaching the developing world, and what could you do during your term to speed that up?

Seahen 05:37, 30 June 2007 (UTC)


Wikinews and building on an unexpected publicity opportunity

As I would hope you have seen, Wikinews has made a splash in the news as the original non-blog source for the story of a prank edit to w:Chris Benoit's Wikipedia page. Our Alexa rating has skyrocketed, Google news has hundreds of articles that mention - or cite - us. I had planned to sponsor a Writing Contest on Wikinews following these elections - but this seems like too good an opportunity to miss. I've asked a few people to contribute to the prize pot, but most of our local contributors don't have the spare cash.

  • First question, should we do things like this - we've had other competitions in the past and the daily article count has gone up significantly.
  • Second, are you prepared to put your money where our projects are and donate to the prize fund?
  • Third, if you are prepared to donate to the prize pot would you also be prepared to help out as a judge? I feel the impartial position the board should strive to take day to day would be welcome in defining rules and judging a competition. --Brian McNeil / talk 11:17, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

International Symbol of Access

If elected, would you act to remove the Foundation's ban on the use of the International Symbol of Access and International Symbol for Deafness outside the scope of fair use? If you are unfamiliar with this issue, it boils down to the fact that these symbols may be freely used for their intended purpose but are extremely unlikely to be released under a free license. Because they are internationally recognized symbols, no free equivalent could be created to replace them. There would be no legal risk to either the Wikimedia Foundation or to downstream users if we were to use these symbols in infoboxes to designate handicapped accessible metro stations, Disney rides, etc. I'm not asking for permission to use them in userboxes or the like. I just think that the current Foundation-level policy of lumping them into the "fair use" category is quite detrimental our goals.

There is actually general consensus to make this change on the English Wikipedia. The only thing standing in the way is the Foundation's policy. —Remember the dot 04:01, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

"Attack site" link bans

On English Wikipedia, there has been some controversy about whether it is, or ought to be, the policy that linking to so-called "attack sites" against Wikipedia and Wikipedians is to be banned. Some administrators have (overzealously, in some others' opinions) removed links to criticism sites from such places as talk pages, evidence pages for ArbCom cases, and even in a few cases from actual articles where they were being used as a source. I wrote an essay on this issue. What is your opinion? Dtobias 04:03, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

How will you deal with this...

Whenever I can not find the specific answer to a question in an article I turn to Wikipedia help. In many instances, however, the reply is devoid of thought or knowledge and merely a student's guess to fill blank space on the page as if to say: "Here is my guess. I've done my job. You have received my authoritative response."

How to deal with consensus of uninformed editors

Sometimes a popular opinion is contradicted by scientific evidence. Majority of editors stick to the popular opinion (which is also theirs) and vote to delete all pages that contradict their opinion (intrinsic weakness of democracy). As a result Wikipedia propagates old prejudices. How would you solve this problem?

Supporting evidence for the problem: Once I wrote several pages on Einsteinian physics (I'm just doing my PhD on it) and all of them were deleted by consensus of editors (9:1) who preferred their old high school physics :-). Unfortunately their high school physics was invalidated about 100 years ago by Einstein. Yet till today one can read as the first statement of Wikipedia's Gravitation: "Gravitation is a natural phenomenon by which all objects attract each other". According to contemporary science objects don't attract each other they just look like they do. Similarly as the Sun looks like running around the Earth while it doesn't and there exists a simple explanation in both cases. So I just explained the simple Einsteinian mechanism of this apparent attraction, since I thought it may be interesting to Wikipedia's readers. All those pages were deleted by consensus of editors cooling my enthusiasm for Wikipedia. So the issue of propagating old prejudices, because of democratic process involved in editing, seems to be very real in Wikipedia. JimJast 14:08, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Majority biasing the facts

12:33, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Dear Candidate,

it is an increasing frustration to me that a supermajority of wikipedians has apparently decided to defend their common view of the world as the only truth. All minority views are blocked. This goes so far as to not allow facts, which are acknowledged to be true, on article pages when they are seemingly at odds with this view. This tends to make the articles POV and destroys the knowledge and hard work brought together by many, many editors in this unique enterprise. It makes wikipedia a very unreliable and biased source of information. Subjects are e.g. terrorist attacks. Will you make an effort to change this trend? It is imortant to us that the guidelines are upheld fairly and equally, and not just to defend a single viewpoint.

regards,

Xiutwel
NL

How to attract authors who know facts

How to attract authors who know facts (e.g. from the scientific literature) and could pupularize them dispelling cultural prejudice about those facts but don't have time to waste on fighting misinformed editors. Those editors unconcsiously push their popular, and therefore already generally accepted, POVs (since brain, being a perfect antibody, automatically rejects any new idea) deleting the new pages by those authors. Those editors always prevail since they have much more time than those authors. How would you address this issue? JimJast 17:40, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Who Writes Wikipedia?

Late question: do you have any thoughts on this essay (and if so, what)? It suggests that Jimbo formed a radically false picture of anonymous users and their contributions to Wikipedia. This may have far-reaching implications. Dan(pedia) 21:42, 6 July 2007 (UTC)


A Fairer Voting System

Would you support the use of choice voting in the next Board Elections?


Choice voting protects majority rule while providing for the fair representation of minority views. Voters rank the candidates 1, 2, 3, and so on, in order of preference. If your top choice either is not elected or already has enough votes to win a seat, your vote goes to your next choice. No vote is wasted, and all viewpoints are represented. Choice voting would drastically reduce the number of wasted votes.

Choice voting can be used for single or multiple position elections. It is used for national elections in a number of countries including the Republic of Ireland. It is also used by a wide variety of organsations such as students' unions, charities, trade unions, universities, hospital trusts and housing associations. Choice voting is already used to elect the board of Nominet UK.

Choice voting is also called preference voting or wikipedia:single transferable vote (STV)

John Cross 17:01, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

my favorite system is the condorcet method, but imho choice voting is good for both single and multiple seat elections, probably better for multiple seat elections than the current system even, although i consider that to be a good compromise as well. for these elections we had actually had a board-discussion about the various systems but we decided against changing system this time for various reasons. oscar 21:04, 7 July 2007 (UTC)