Wikimedia Foundation elections/Board elections/2008/Candidates/Questions/3

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The election ended 21 June 2008. No more votes will be accepted.
The results were announced on 26 June 2008.
2008 board elections
Organization

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Directory[edit]

For readability, the questions page has been broken up into subpages, each containing 20 questions and the answers by the candidates.

Questions

Your candidacy[edit]

Do you consider yourself the best candidate? Why? Hillgentleman 02:48, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
  1. Yes.
  2. Be-bold
Alex Bakharev
Yes, I have put myself in the first position then voting. I happen be the only candidate whose wikiphilosophy and wikidecisions I completely share. I happen to know this candidate (myself) the best and I could recommend him (duh). There are a few candidates who IMHO do not want the best for the project and see this elections as a some form of a demonstration against the WMF. It is their democratic right but I hope the voters will be smart enough to google for their offsite remarks. There are others who want to keep the status quo. I personally want strong changes in the project but do not want to breal anything working. I want us to have the great projects not the great upheavals (see q:Pyotr Stolypin). There are a few candidates who seem to be fine but whom I do not know as well as myself
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
Each candidate running offers something different, there is not one candidate who is best in all areas, nor will there ever be. I believe I am able to best address the issue that I think are most important. We need a candidate who is able to make the community and particularly the sister projects feel its voice is being heard, and make sure it is actually being heard. We need someone who can improve communications between the project and the board . I believe I am the best candidate to make this happen.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
Yes. I have the experience in the fields that are most needed on the board: legal, financial, non-profit governance and public relations. I have been an avid spokesperson for Wikimedia in the international media. I have worked closely with the staff and board members, and will be able to work well with them on the board. I respect the role that the board is meant to play, and the limits that should be placed on it. I strongly care about the opinion and voice of the community, and will act as its representative. And, perhaps most importantly, I am proposing changes that are not pipe dreams. I'm realistic about what can and cannot happen, and is feasible for the board to do and what is not. I am not making empty promises to the electorate. I can sum it up in the following: The best candidate for the election is someone that on Day One of their term on the board already possesses the experience with large budgets, experience with the foundation's legal issues, experience speaking on behalf of the foundation, experience with being on the board of a non-profit, experience working with the members of the foundation office, and experience and familiarity with the board they will serve on and the community they will be representing. That candidate is me.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
There was no way of my knowing whether I would be the "best" candidate until the field of 15 was closed. I earnestly wished to see someone with offline professional credentials in publishing reference resources, to whom I most likely would have bowed in deference. But none seems to have emerged.

Steve makes a good point below about editorial policies. For those who think the Foundation and WMF Staff have been doing an excellent job building accountability and excellence in online media for these projects, then you have probably 13 or 14 better candidates than me to choose from. However, if you have serious concerns that there is a severe weakness of accountability and ethics in media at the uppermost levels of the Foundation, then I very well would be the "best" candidate (along with Steve), because we seem to be the two calling for the most pro-active content and user management changes from the Foundation level.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
It would be quite arrogant for me to say that I'm the best in all parameters. Life is more complex than that. I think I'm a true representative of the community, and I can bring to the board the perspective of the somewhat long-forgotten "average" editor, with an emphasis on the less-represented and less-understood smaller projects, where some of the true spirit of the origins of Wikimedia still remains because they haven't become the huge political power struggles that enwiki perhaps has. I am very committed to Wikimedia, very involved in my home project, have gained lots of experience and trust there, as well as in our local chapter (see my other answers for more details), and attended Wikimania. I do not come to the board to make a huge nihilistic revolution, or as some kind of fierce opposition, rather to represent the interests of the community. I have worked in big organizations. I can read and write in three languages, two of them those of our biggest projects. Admittedly, I do not have direct experience in running big non-profit organizations or in organizational finances. But don't we have expert seats and paid stuff for those matters? You're also welcome to read all my other answers here where I explain my views in more detail.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Again this is a very broad question, where there are many different questions subsumed. Let me answer it by breaking down the larger question into smaller, more detailed portions...
  • Am I the most experienced wikipedian running? Definitely not. I have very little doubt that honor falls to Ray Saintonge. And that is no small plus to his credit. But neither am I a rank newcomer.
  • Am I the candidate with most experience in corporate governance? Well, it is obvious I am not. On this point I would say that this is perhaps the least significant factor voters should focus on, considering the fact on the ground of how the board structure was reworked. The fact of there being many who are more experienced than I on the candidate list now in the field of corporate governance, would figure very prominently in how I would advise the nominating committee for appointed expert seats to approach its task, if I were personally elected.
  • Would I fulfil a unique shortcoming in the current board. I can say that along with our friend from Israel, I would be one from a relatively small language. The current board includes Domas Mituzas, but he is there primarily as a developer. The rest of the trustees are from large to mid-size/large languages (And yes, Dutch is a large/midsize language to my mind, and besides Jan-Bart is not there as community rep primarily either).
  • Am I the candidate with the best ideas? I don't think I really need to answer that one :)
  • Are there candidates to whom I would not mind losing to? No there really aren't. There are candidates who I feel could do a fair and decent job of it, and whom I would to the best of ability help to do their task as trustee, if the voters deemed them more worthy than myself.
  • Is there someone whose dedication to our mission I defer to, in awe? No, absolutely not. I live and breathe wikimedia.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I believe I offer the best combination of skills and qualities in a Board member, otherwise, I would not waste voters' time reading and my own time in writing these answers. I am experienced in non-profit finance, accounting, strategic planning, I have edited extensively on the projects and understand the wiki-philosophy. I an open to change and growth and seek to include as many viewpoints as possible in making decisions, and would seek the communities' betterment in my actions as Board member.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I believe that I am the best candidate because of my experience with projects outside of Wikipedia. I believe that the issues affecting these projects have a strong hold on the overall development of the Foundation, and these need to be addressed as much as everything on Wikipedia. I am also willing to listen and learn from the communities - what they need/want is often better than what the Board imposes.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Absolutely! I would be wasting my time if I thought otherwise. I have broad experience, both on and off wiki. I am not afraid to try new ideas, but am cautious enough to not be reckless. I can listen.
Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
The current election process makes it difficult to say. I regret that I don't know, even among the friends of mine who are running in this election, how good they would be as candidates; and hope we find a better process for electing community representatives (and for letting talented representatives prove themselves with similar work before becoming Trustees) in the future.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
Like most candidates in most elections, I consider myself to be the best candidate. In brief, the reasons for this are as follows:
  • I am in the top tier of candidates for relevant real world experience (see this question).
  • I am the only candidate proposing to take the necessary step of having the Foundation intervene in the governance of its largest projects while still maintaining community self-government (Greg is proposing intervention, but in a way that would have far more substantive editorial policy decisions made at the Foundation level).

I believe that the combination of these two factors - combined with a large number of much more minor factors - makes me the best candidate.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
I would not say that I am THE best candidate. I have certain qualities, and I lack other qualities. I am in aware of that. What I think is important for this seat is, that the candidate should be able to represent the community. He should be doing the basic works. Only so he can know which decision is good for an editor or an administrator. I know the european culture, and I know the chinese culture. I know the german Wikipedia, the english Wikipedia and the chinese Wikipedia quite well. I think this is what qualifies me. But there are also communities that I don't know well, for example the hebrew community (of which I only know from Heral's talk last year), or the spanisch speaking community, and that's what I would like to improve. Some of the other candidates are also from the community. They are also very good candidates, and they bring other qualities. For example they know other communities better, or they have financial and accounting knowledges. I find it difficult to say someone is the best. We have all different views on things. And it is to you to say, I think he represents my view better, or I think he has the quality that can represent the community better.

Recent scandals[edit]

In the past 18 months or so, we have seen Jimmy Wales appoint a Wikia, Inc. employee (Essjay) to the Arbitration Committee, apparently knowing he had deceived the community and the mainstream media about his academic and professional credentials. Wales later framed the appointment as having been done "at the request of and unanimous support of the ArbCom". We have seen at least two private mailing lists hosted on Wikia servers and moderated by SlimVirgin and by JzG, where Wikipedia editors were singled out for criticism and surveillance. We have seen allegations of financial expense reimbursement requests from Jimmy Wales that included a $1200 dinner for four, two bottles of wine exceeding $500, and a Moscow massage parlor visit. While these reimbursements were refused internally and quietly, the public-facing response to the media has been to frame the whistle-blower as a "disgruntled ex-employee" and that (according to Sue Gardner) "Jimmy has never done anything wrong." Finally, we saw a situation where Jimmy Wales sought to have modified the Wikipedia biography of a woman he was soon to engage physically in a Washington hotel room, and JzG was there to do the modifying. I have to assume that none of these accusations are libelous, since they have not been legally rebutted to date. I will retract any portion of this question that is proven to be untruthful.
As a Board candidate, how do you feel about these various incidents, and what would you propose to do, if anything, to prevent similar recurrences? Thekohser 15:53, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Jimmy Wales isn't a competitor in this election, no use for throwing mud at him, and anyway I am not engaging in a below the belt mudthrowing campaign.
Alex Bakharev
I see that WMF and Wikipedia often is a target of an unfounded and blown out of proportion media criticism. Googling on the election matters I have bumped into La Monde hatchet piece on Florence. It is absolutely incredible that a civilized society can allow a major newspaper to print such a stinking piece of crap. It is absolutely awful and shameful that we were not able to protect her. I am also disappointed with former employees of WMF and prominent Wikipedians with high respect in community who are engaged into such low attacks. They want to fork English Wikipedia. They have all the rights for it but it is it necessary to destroy what we all were trying to build?

One of the reason is that we have grown big enough to be newsworthy but have not grow means of self-defense yet and so we are a soft target to any media-idiot. I would also suspect a foul play - the desire to influence the leadership of a fund having 7 billion dollars of potential assets but operated on peanuts. The third reason is that with a very small budget used to support our staff and with very challenging tasks they have we are bound to make mistakes. It is good that we seem to not repeat old mistakes so we are at least good in learning on our own mistakes though it will be better to learn on mistakes of other people.

Regarding those incidents (I had to be brief and my info might not be complete):

  • The root case of the controversy is that we allow people to get positions of trust (like checkusers) without knowing their identity. If we continue to do this we might be bitten harder. I am not sure what WMF could done differently after they have learned that Essjay had grossly inflated his credentials. They put on Wikia his true resume that eventually led to his outing. Can it be done better PR-wise? Perhaps.
  • I do not see hosting mail lists on WikiA (that is a publicly available for-profit hosting service that is not controlled by WMF) by prominent Wikipedians (who are still not WMF or WikiA employee) to be something that WMF could prevented. The whole culture of semisecret dealings in Wikipedia editing should be minimized. The good effects out of it do not worth the amount of drama and mistrust they generate.
  • I think we need to significantly increase our publicity. We should lobby politicians and potential sponsors to help our projects. The projects deserve it. That means increasing, not decreasing the total amount of traveling and promotion expences. I am not fully aware of Jimbo's expense reports but it is quite possible that $300 a person dinner with a billionaire American or a $500 a person informal entertainment with a Russian billionaire (indeed there are people in Moscow who have business talk in saunas and massage parlors) is a worthy effort to potentially get millions in sponsorship deals. We must have better defined expense reimbursement policy though making sure that some sorts of extravaganza are not allowed. Still if we plan more promotion activity the expenses in this area are to be significantly increased.
  • I think it is a duty of any Wikipedian (including Jimbo) to fix articles about living people (whether they know them personally or not) if they have reasons to believe the info is incorrect. If a doubtful info is well publicized and comes from reliable sources it should be stated as an attributed opinion if the source is unreliable the article should be stubbed. Jimbo was right her. Usage of WP:OFFICE or Godking or other official powers in the editorial conflict would not be appropriate but do the best of my knowledge it was not the case
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I deplore Essjay's conduct. I won't comment on Jimmy here because he cannot intervene here to defend himself. I will say, however, that I am not in favor of a community founder seat. Jimmy's position should be an appointed one (or if the board decides not to appoint him, he could run for a community elected seat). I'm also not going to comment on either the issues in Jimmy's personal life (which are personal), or allegations regarding expenses (which has been done to death before). With regard to Wikia and Wikimedia mailing lists, I disagree with Wikia mailing lists being used to conduct Wikimedia affairs in secret, but with that said, we don't have control over what Wikia does. Even if it wasn't Wikia, it could be a google group, or a yahoo group, or some private listserv anywhere else. These and other issues facing the foundation are well served by an increase in transparency. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we could use more of it.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
This is an outstanding question, and I'm pleased that it was asked, because it certainly shows a clear split among Wikimedians -- even the Board candidates. There are those who think these are rare, minor problems that can be overlooked or minimized by circling the wagons. And then there are those who have deep concerns why these public relations blunders have been allowed to fester and repeat themselves.

In fact, my biggest concern is that the above-mentioned incidents only scratch the surface of what non-transparent schemes are actually brewing within the Foundation's top echelon. How many Wikimedians have any clue about Elevation Partners' strategic plan for the Foundation? How many know the real status of the relationship between Jimmy Wales and Michael Davis? Huge battles for control are yet to be fought, and 99% of the Wikimedia community has nary a clue as to their magnitude, or even who's allied on which side. Even if I don't win this election, hundreds of you will come back to this page sometime in the future (2010? 2012? I cannot say) and remark that I truly warned you, yet my message was rejected.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
I'm unfortunate to answer this question later than most of my colleagues here, so I do not have a lot of new things to add. Sarcasticidealist and Wing below, for example, have given very good answers. If you recognize that every organization has failures, consider the foundation's relatively short history and the unique position Jimbo has and had in it, remember that every coin has two sides and every story can be told a multitude of ways, then you realize that this is not the huge corruption scandal that you try to make it, but rather a collection of separate incidents, some more serious and some trivial. As it is not Jimbo who's up for election here, I do not see a lot of reasons to dwell into these matters, beyond stating that I have no tolerance whatsoever to corruption and think that the foundation and the board should exhibit spotless moral and financial conduct.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
The only thing I would add to what Ray Saintonge put perfectly into words below, is that personally I find it gratifying, simply awesome, that the criticisms on the financial matters front that wikimedia foundation has to field, are to do with the way that financial controls of how the foundations *own* money is spent, worked _flawlessly_.

Really; wake me up, when we are in a situation where some foundation trustee or staff person is having undeclared lavish meetings with COI bodies, where those meetings expenses are picked up by those COI organizations *themselves*. Now *that* _I_ would consider an alarm bell worth getting out of bed for.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
The majority of incidents you mention are incidents involving the en.wp community (EssJay, Durova, JzG, Marsden), while a select few, the liquor reimbursement primarily, involve the Foundation. As to the en.wp incidents, the community at that wiki has historically made Jimbo its "Founder" and given him various prerogatives. If they decided to remove those prerogatives, it would occur with no intervention from the Foundation, if they decided to transfer them to another individual, same thing, a community issue, not a Foundation issue.

I should further note that it is my understanding that the liquor reimbursement was declined internally by the Foundation. In my prior non-profit experience, I would frequently deal with individuals requesting liquor reimbursements, and had to politely remind them that organization rules and federal guidelines prohibited such reimbursement. As long as no money was acutally misused, there would be no reason to publically shame the individual by announcing they had submitted unreimbursable receipts.

Now to the larger question of maintaining the Foundation's reputation. Well, when Gov. Pataki nominated me to President Bush for a seat on the Selective Service Draft Board, I had to undergo a rather thorough background check before the President appointed me. Ideally I'd say anyone being employed by the Foundation, having access to nonpublic Oversight/Checkuser data, sitting on the Board, or being an SQL access/Root access developer, should undergo a similarly rigorous background check. Lacking access to a federal database, vetting all current and future individuals in that position through a rigorous private background check provider, for past criminal and financial history would be something I would greatly support, in order to reduce the likelihood of fiduciary misconduct and the resulting public scandal.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
It is my opinion that this is simply an attack on the named individuals, and is trying to resurface these issues that were dealt with and done with. I do not wish to answer this question. If I have misjudged the question, please feel free to contact me.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Without addressing the merits or lack of merits of the specific cases mentioned, it would appear that these are very few, and it would not be appropriate to give them any more weight than they deserve. Like it or not, it's a fact of life that these issues will arise; given the size of the organization I believe that they are proportionally very few.

When we blow these incidents so completely out of proportion to the alleged offence, we do ourselves more damage than the original could ever have done on his own. Some things just need to be handled quietly and with discretion, and not by feeding the journalistic trolls that run the scandal sheets.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
<cough>
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I'll comment on each of the incidents to the extent that I consider appropriate, but first I'd like to make a couple of general points that are relevant to more than one of the incidents:
  • No Trustee, including Jimmy Wales, should have a privileged position within any WMF project by reason of anything but a community decision to award such a position. This means that Jimmy Wales shouldn't have the authority to appoint arbitrators to English Wikipedia unless it's by the will of the English Wikipedia. As I understand it, his authority to do so now is predicated on the support of the community for that authority, and that the Foundation would have no issue if the community wished to change the method by which arbitrators are appointed.
  • It is legitimate for the WMF to wish to avoid airing its dirty laundry in public, but it has the obligation to listen to informed parties who are alleging malfeasance, and to treat them with dignity.

Those things said, here are some brief responses to each issue:

  • The appointment of Essjay - This should not have occurred. The Board should make sure that the English Wikipedia has the ability and authority to decide how its arbitrators will be selected, and then the English Wikipedia community should use this ability and authority to ensure that its selection process does not hinge on the will of any one person.
  • Private mailing lists: Anybody can set up a private mailing list for any reason. The WMF cannot and should not be able to stop them.
  • Reimbursement requests: The Foundation's response to this should be "We make no comment on specific expense claims made by Foundation officers or employees, but can assure our donors that no WMF resources have gone to pay for massages, $1200 dinners, or $500 bottles of wine." If the allegations are patently false, the Foundation should state this as well.
  • Provided that Jimmy Wales does not have any Foundation-sanctioned position of privilege within the English Wikipedia, I view editing under a conflict of interest at that site to be a purely community matter (and an important one).
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I don't want to comment the allegations in detail because I don't know the details. I only want to give a common reply. At first I think it is good that we are watched. To be watched means to be controled and make less errors. And that is important.

Every organisation, started from the United Nation, and down to the smallest companies, make failures. People are failable. No rule, no law, no codices can 100% prevent people make failures. I don't know if we really have such things, if not, I think we should make a codex for all foundation employees and board members. We cannot prevent people to conduct crime this way, but we can remind people don't do things they are not aware of.

I want to say something about Jimbo at this point. As I have mentioned in an earlier question, I am not interested in gossips and scandals. Beside created Wikipedia, Jimbo had, especially in the first two or three years, made some very good and very wise decisions to make our project that, what it is now: He defined that the goal of our projects is to create and provide free knowledges, he created the foundation as the organisation who maintains our projects, he also defined the most principles of our projects, its openness, its neutrality. He would have be able to decide otherwise. But he didn't, and that alone is reason enough for me to respect him. Even today he take part in community discussions, he never misused his founder's or celebrity's position to be arrogant or commanding before the community. He has a very high reputation inside the community. You see it everytime on a WikiMania conference. Jimbo owned special thanks from the chinese community for his emphasis of our NPOV policy and his try, though without success, to explain our goal and our policy to chinese officials, that we are not a subversive website against them.

Maybe he made some errors, who not? Maybe he lerned some lessons, others never learn. Some people like to cast stones, maybe they are without sin.

Determining number of community-elected seats[edit]

Would you support an amendment which would indicate at least the spirit of the following text: The number of community-elected seats must be always at least equal to number of board appointed seats; and no less than one-half the total number of seats, minus one: (TS/2)-1, round down.

To illustrate: Under the current restructure, there are 10 members. 1 founder + 4 "special expertise" = 5 board-appointed seats. However, there are only 3 community-elected seats, which is less than the number of board-elected seats; and which is equal to less than one-half the board membership (regardless of whether you subtract 1). So, to meet this requirement, the number of community-elected seats would thus be increased from 3 to 5.

Is this something that you would support? - Jc37 23:45, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
I count chapter appointed seats as community seats - thus - board appointed seats and community seats will soon balance.
Alex Bakharev
Yes, I would support such an amendment. It is sensible.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I would support an amendment like that which you suggest. I also support increasing the number of community seats beyond that. I believe the majority, if not the entire board, should be selected from the community. The community is what makes the Wikimedia Foundation projects function. If the board is not able to represent the community the foundation will eventually fail. We need to ensure that the community is properly represented, increasing the number of community seats is one very positive way of doing that.

The chapter seats are also community seats, but they only represent a small subset of the community, as such I do not believe it is fair to count them when weighing community vs appointed seat.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I would come to the generally the end through different means. I believe that the majority of the board should be community members, but this does not necessarily need to come entirely from the elected community seats. For one, there should never be fewer elected community seats than there are appointed expert seats. More elected seats than appointed is ok, but there should never be less. I also do not agree with a permanent founder seat. That seat should come from one of the appointed expert seats (as an expert in wiki governance) and not at the expense of the community's majority.

Once the role of the chapter's seats is more clearly defined, there is a strong possibility that those seats will serve the purpose of ensuring a majority community voice on the board. Or, if they turn out the other way, to be essentially puppet seats for appointed members, allowing a fluid number of community seats (so long as there are the same as or more in relation to the appointed ones) ensures that the community will still protect its majority.

It is important to remember that as soon as the community loses power to be represented on the board due to a lack of ability to gain a majority of votes, it becomes virtually impossible for them to amend the bylaws to fix it. At the same time it gives the appointed majority the ability to modify the bylaws to become tyrants over the organization. For this reason, I believe the community should always be the majority control on the board.

I also think that these scenarios adequately explain why we should at the very least review and consider the concept of returning to a membership based organization. If there is an official membership with the ability to exert a recall, or that can modify the structure of the board, the likelyhood of a horror scenario involving an overthrown board is greatly diminished.

Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
That "founder" seat is really what we need to be moving away from. Having said that, I would generally support this plan. Alternatively, why couldn't the community have more of a role in nominating "non-Wikimedians" who are blessed with "special expertise", such that the community even has a partial role in shaping and coaxing gifted outside people who can enter into those Board-appointed seats?

The community needs to remember a very important thing. The groundwork for the Board to start taking away influence from the community was set in motion quite some time ago when Jimmy Wales and Brad Patrick decided to reject the contributions of pro bono legal aid who were preparing paperwork to make the WMF a membership organization. Those two scrapped that initiative, for fear that "their" Foundation could be taken away from them by "outsiders". I hope that voters are savvy enough to comprehend this power play. It may be too late to restore a community-influenced Board, unless you really make a strong statement with your vote. A rotten board of directors that exclusively elects its own successors will perpetuate rotten boards. It's just that simple.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
Like some others here, I think of the chapter seats as representative of the community too. If anything, then this universal suffrage way of choosing community seats (where the vast majority of voters either doesn't care or doesn't know the candidates) is nothing to write home about. The chapter seats might let us have experienced chapter activists "from the field" and that's very important. The big problem remains how the chapters will select them. With that said, I agree with your basic view that "grassroots" volunteers should fill (at least) about half of the board. Appointed board members should also preferably not be just professional technocrats but people truly aligned with WMF's core vision and ideology. Also bear in mind that the board is not a representative body, in that it shouldn't necessarily correctly portray the numerical demographics of the community.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I definitely think there is room to revisit the question of the composition of the board at a later date. For me to directly address a specific proposal would be wrong (the way I see my role personally, if elected), before the community has a full say on these matters - that is where the board went awry the previous time around, was it not so?

I can say about my preference about the way of moving forward on this, that it is best if first the chapters are given ample time to figure out if they can see a way that their new franchise can be deployed in such a way as to allay concerns about community losing voice in the affairs of the board, and we see at least one suggestion by the new nominating committee led by Sue. If the product of that nominating committee falls short, I will see no problem with countermanding the whole process. Since the act of appointment still resides in the trustees, they have an imperative right of not appointing any of the nominees. And as yet, the board with us still does not fall into the category of merely theoretical authority such as the Queen of England, so that situation would not be a case of something akin to a constitutional crisis, but clearly merely one of the board exercising its correct role.

In short, if I am elected, rest assured, the trustees would stand guard against the community being disenfranchised.

Additionally, let me note in passing that since the board has in general a responsibility to set the framework and goals with which the staff operates, it would be well in tune with this that the board give fairly specific guidelines to Sues nominating committee in terms of what kind of a balance of people should be the general aim, when it deliberates on who to recommend to the board, so as to pre-empt the need to over-ride any unfortunately unacceptable list of nominations for board trusteeship.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I would like to see the number of community appointed seats increased. Whether it would be to 5, or some other number, or some totally different arrangement, I am not sure. However, it would be to a percentage greater than the current 30% represented in the most recent governance restructuring.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I am a strong supporter of a majority, if not fully, community-appointed board. It is of vital importance that the community has a say in what happens on the Board, as I have stated over and over before, however we need to be careful that the members of the Board are chosen carefully, because of their abilities, not because of their level of fame on a particular project. Some members of the current board are in place because they are good advisors, but the Board should not be where they sit. Advisory panels should be formed around a largely community-appointed and elected board.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
I very much support the notion that a majority of trustees should be drawn from the community, but I would not take your detailed position as an absolute hard-line position. Whether they should all be elected is a moot point. This election will fill one such seat to the Board to go with the two that already exist. What then? What's the next step? I agree that the recent resolution on Board Structure is problematic, but I want to avoid simplistic solutions that will really only make things more difficult.
Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Yes.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
For the reasons I have given in response to previous questions about the board restructuring, this is not an amendment that I would support.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I have answered this question already earlier in the sections Board restructure and Biggest Error. Yes, I agree with you. I think the board should consist of members from the community and from the chapters.

Images and censorship[edit]

Imagine, that some users from one of Wikipedias want to delete pornography photos from the Wikimedia Commons. We have only one category with hard porno and it is illegal (even criminal matter) in some countries, if children could look on these photos. This is a problem not only for parents, but for us too. Do you agree with this sentence? So, on pl wiki we have troll who like almost everyday add links to these images and talk about missing censorship (not in BAR/village pump, but on "School and university projects" pages). He has many puppets and produces new. I want to know your advices. (Admins on Commons don't want to delete it, we, wikimedians, dont't want to delete pictures of Muhammad, we have sometimes problems with PR...). Przykuta 07:43, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Your question almost duplicates a prior question. However, in this case, your question is about trolls and their sockpuppets. Don't feed them. And, of course it is a project level community decision to indefinitely block trolls.
Alex Bakharev
I think it is an important policy that Wikipedia is not censored for minors (in w:Penis article we need a picture of Penis, not a w:stamen or w:pistil). It is not a porno-site either. Adding unsuitable images (pornographic or not) is not trolling, it is vandalism and we block vandals. If an image on Commons is a particular problem on your project you can always add it to the w:MediaWiki:Bad image list (such lists are on all projects) and the image would not be shown on your articles.

I think we have a policy that non-encyclopedic images are to be deleted. WMF is not a free image host. I think explicit images that was not used on any project for awhile can be speedily deleted. Certainly images used only for vandalism should be deleted (or at least added to MediaWiki:Bad image list. What WMF could do is to organize better interactions between Commons and Project admins (e.g. adding a commons image to any MediaWiki:Bad image list should automatically trigger IFD on Commons). Maybe we could transfer all explicit images to projects. The problem with this approach is to sufficiently clear define what Explicit image means. We know what unused means, we know what unusable means, we know what used for vandalism only means, but definition of the explicit is very culture-dependent.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
The Wikimedia projects should not be censored. Images should not be deleted from commons just because one project has an issue with them. We have software functions such as the Bad image list that can prevent images from being used inappropriately. Functions such as this are a much better solution to the issue as they allow projects to maintain their autonomy and do not require Commons to be censored. We have a number of tools (blocking, check user, page protection, etc) that a project can also employ to manage trolls and vandals. These tools are more effective and have much less collateral damage then deleting images on Commons.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
Projects will have different opinions, even amongst languages of the same project. It doesn't mean that we use the least restrictive approach, but it doesn't mean we cater to the most restrictive rules either. What individual projects decide is up to their communities, at least up until the point that it becomes a legal or ethical issue for the foundation. History shows that we rarely ever have to come to that point.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
It's funny how so many people get all up in arms when "trolls" start trying to edit their encyclopedia that they've put a sign out to invite "anyone" to edit. The Board approved $182,000 for legal counsel this year. I would rather see the person(s) being paid $182,000 figure out "one category with hard porno and it is illegal (even criminal matter) in some countries" than unpaid Board members who are instead responsible for the long-term vision and strategic guidance of the organization.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
I'll sum it up in points:
  • Pornography is a matter of geography, and a universal standard will be hard to enforce and decide about. So I expect it to be quite natural for commons to hold some things that local projects will choose not to display.
  • A troll should be dealt with like a troll - I guess you know how by now. Even if he's persistent. Eventually he'll grow tired with it.
  • It might help to make it easier to set some images on commons that will not be so easily displayed on every project (how exactly, I don't know as of yet), but the problem should be dealt with at the "despair the troll" level, not at the "hide the pictures" level.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I specifically disagree that is a problem for the board of trustees to handle.

On a more human level, I will say that linking inappropriate things to inappropriate pages on wikiprojects, should not be allowed to happen, and projects should have fairly expansive autonomy to deal with such issues. There is not much more to be said really, that hasn't been said by the other candidates. I have to say that this is one question on which I agree with nearly every word written by every other candidate.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I personally disagree with deleting free content that it is not a crime to host on a US based server. However, as it is inherently an editing issue, I leave it up to the Commons community to decide what they host, within the relevant US law and GFDL requirements.

Now as to the issue of a wiki that does not wish to ever use such material, or is experiencing image-bombing of such material. This wiki could upload and protect single pixel images locally with the same name as the commons images, thus meaning when the image bombing occurred, it would result in single pixel white space being added, as the local copy would override the Commons copy. Or there is the image blacklist and whitelist, which would permit a wiki to ban certain image titles from being displayed or permit them to be displayed on only a certain set of pages.

So technically, there are ways for a wiki to segregate itself from material made available to all wikis through Commons, if it so desires. Therefore, I do not see a need to make Commons subject to the requests of all Wikis.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
Wikimedia projects should not, and cannot, be censored, sue to the very nature of what they are - a sum of all human knowledge. We have tools to prevent the abuse of so-called "controversial" images, and methods to hide images if people do not wish to view them. We should not remoaves images from our repository of free, unbiased images, if one project has a problem with them. There are ways to remove the image from a local project (upload a blank image) whilst keeping it for all other projects without damaging our incredible set of resources.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Opinions about what is pornographic will vary widely, and I don't believe that Commons should accept the lowest common denominator as its operational definition. This doesn't mean that those who operate a sister project can't accept a different, more rigid standard.

Commons is there to serve the other projects, and that includes projects with a more liberal attitude. Whether an image is in fact pornographic sometimes leaves us examining the motives of the poster, and images which are added for no other purpose than to titillate are just as well deleted, but that is a judgement call best left to each project.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
This is a hard problem, but one to address project by project. Ray's note on sister sites, third party sites, or mirrors is spot on.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I think a few of the other candidates, especially Alex and Ray, have this one exactly right. On the one hand, we shouldn't allow the most conservative common denominator to determine our content. On the other hand, images on all projects should be there to inform, not to titillate. If an image serves only to titillate, I can't see a place for it on any WMF project.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
At first the images themselves are not illegal. If they are licensed GFDL and compatible licenses I would advocate agains deleting them from commons.

What the problem is, and I am with you to say it is a serious problem, we should take care of it, that to show children such images is illegal. I think we need in MediaWiki a mean to protect such images (and also text content). The local community should have the possibility to mark a content as "Adult only". If someone hit a link to such a content (text or image), he must at first confirm that he is of legal age, before he can access the content. If it is an image embedded in the text, it should be hidden with a hint, and only if he confirmed his legal age the image would be shown. I think this is an important feature MediaWiki should have. I would suggest you to talk with the developper community directly, and if I am elected, I will push that this feature be implimented.

As of vandalism. We had similar cases a few years ago on zh-wp. I can give you no other advice as what we did: Blocking, blocking and blocking. Most vandals do not have a long patience. After at least a few months they left. If we want to keep our projects open, we must take as a price that we are vulnerable to vandalism. And the best weapon we have against a vandal is we are many, he is alone. So we can afford more patience than he.

Wikiversity[edit]

Some candidates mentioned in their responses Wikiversity - so this now goes to all candidates:

  • (if your mission is to help the sister projects) can you provide some examples how you plan to help Wikiversity if you are elected?

To answer this good enough you certainly need to know Wikiversity so you could combine above with following:

  • please tell two things which work good at Wikiversity and two things which don't ? You can also refer to a Wikiversity project in your language - your feedback will surely be appreciated.

This text above was created in collaboration with Darklama and Cormaggio----Erkan Yilmaz (Wikiversity:Chat, talk) 19:54, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
  1. As a board member I will support the continued hosting of all current projects, that is, keep the servers running.
  2. Wikiversity is a young project with great potential. For example, in the Netherlands, schoolbooks at the high school level are very expensive. The Government is in support of "free" schoolbooks. Wikiversity has the potential to provide "free" schoolbooks. I would certainly encourage collaboration with other open educational learning sources. And generally I belief in a bottom up approach. In this case a project level, project community responsibility to promote their project and tell, tell, tell their project success story, to sell, sell, sell their success.
Alex Bakharev
I have not edited Wikiversity yet but I believe it is a very important project. Potentially it might have even greater impact than Wikipedia. I am not in a position to give my "wise" advise to people who have much better experience than me but I can assure I will support the project.

Still I believe I know the main problem of Wikiversity: it is its maturity. While Wikipedia is a toddler; Wikiversity is an infant. Almost all people I know have heard about Wikipedia. The educators know it. They might recommend Wiki to use as reliable source, or forbid to use it as an unreliable source, or teach their students how to use it correctly. They may hate us for our shortcomings but they know we exist. There are almost no non-wiki people who know about Wikiversity existence. No educator or student I have heard of use it.

I think all this would change dramatically after some critical mass is accumulated on the project. I think WMF should facilitate the development of Wikiversity by aggressive promotion of Wikiversity among educators.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I have long supported the idea of Wikiversity. I believe that Wikiversity can be an extremely valuable tool. It is still a young project though and has a lot of growing left to do. The role of the board with it will largely be to allow it to grow on its own with minimal interference, but still providing support when needed.

Wikiversity offers amazing potential for outreach with educators and educational institutions. Amoung other things, I would like to see us work with real world universities to build content for Wikiversity.

While I could come up with a number of things I like and think work good at Wikiversity, you only asked for two, so here they are. :) I like the idea of calling adminship, custodianship. The whole Candidates for Custodianship is a fairly interesting way of handling the process and though I am not sure it is the best way to do it, it certainly solves a number of issues. The Guided Tours are also very cool. The project need to make sure that they are welcoming to newbies who are often overwhelmed by it all. Giving the Guided Tours the prominent place they have is an excellent idea.

As Dan mentioned, Wikiversity's problems are largely growing pains. Wikiversity lacks significant numbers of users and thus content in a number of areas. I am confident that Wikiversity will grow and overcome these problems.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
Wikiversity is my favorite non-wikipedia project, although I have neglected to edit it in nearly a year (though I did write one complete class and one incomplete class for a course I designed). I have a special fondness for it, and I certainly would work to improve Wikiversity while on the board. One thing that Wikiversity does very well is that it presents information in a way that is designed to educate the reader, instead of inform the reader. These are different things. The reader doesn't simply need to know the information, he needs to know what it means, and how to apply it, where he can follow up, etc. Another thing that Wikiversity does well is that it is designed in a manner that is not overwhelming for beginners. Schools are presented up front, courses within the schools, classes within the courses, etc. It's not messy and convoluted and hard to find.

I find Wikiversity's problems to be simply growing pains. It doesn't have enough members, and some of the ones that it does have, like myself, don't edit frequently enough to really improve things. That will change, of course, over time, but Wikiversity needs our support to get more visibility, which leads to more members. As stated before, I will work, especially through our outreach, to find ways to address these problems for Wikiversity. We really ought to be pushing more and more educators to use Wikiversity, at both the grade school and university levels. We can proactively contact schools, universities, and educational nonprofits to work with us. We can spur on and support the chapters to do the same in their local areas -- this is something that I strongly believe the local chapters are perfect for. We can be more vocal about Wikiversity in our public interviews. I try to bring the subject of Wikiversity up with every reporter I can, something I'll continue to do on the board.

Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I would do two things to try to help Wikiversity.

1. Communicate about it to the world. Even a lower-tier small college has more than 500 exchanges of information per hour within its walls, but Wikiversity seems to be getting fewer than 500 edits per day. It's quite obvious to me that hardly anybody's paying much attention to this project. One of the topics about which I'm most passionate (and indeed pursued to the C.Phil. level) is World War II. However, the "course" about this subject on Wikiversity looks like a ghost town, even 11 months after it was born. There are tens of thousands of WW2 enthusiasts out there -- so we have to ask why aren't they churning out content for this project.

2. The second point is a segue from the first. Maybe contributors (especially paid academic professionals) aren't stepping forward because the free, open-source model, if carried to the bitter end, devalues the paid contributions of people like university instructors. Is that part of the mission here? Certainly, it's not a deliberate plan to put people out of jobs, but look folks, it is a consequence of the free and open mission. Peter Suber has opined that authors of royalty-free content have everything to gain and nothing to lose by consenting to open access. He seems to do well enough for himself and his family in Maine, but what of the rest of academia who are not riding the "crest" of the free content wave? We see the decline in jobs at newspapers and at encyclopedias, in no small part due to free content online. Are we simply adding universities to the list of organizations we'll help push toward extinction? Somehow, we would need to find ways to assure that Wikiversity does not exacerbate that unfortunate side-effect.

P.S. I just saw a stat that over 1,100 voters in this election so far have come from the various language Wikipedias. Only 3 voters have emerged from Wikiversity. That profoundly sends us all a message, doesn't it?

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I regret to fall into a mode which may make me sound partly like a broken record, but the biggest thing we as a board of trustees can do, is to encourage direction of resources and further encourage the resources are even used, rather than hoarded (in the fear perhaps that resource allocation will at some future date be used as a lever), in the direction of technical innovation.

What Wikiversity most needs in order to become a great success, in my opinion, are workable ways of presenting lectures, both live and canned & organizing online seminars. These will make it transcend being just an adjunct of wikibooks, and raise it to a genuine new working endeavour. But as yet, to integrate such into mediawiki, requires real technical innovation. It should be noted though, that many of the same technical features it needs most, will be pivotal in making Wikinews be a challenge to such current news outlets as CNN.com.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Well specifically to Wikiversity's matters, I would encourage better interwiki re-use of material. I suspect Wiktionary and Wikiquote would be excellent supplements to many Language and Literature courses, and Wikispecies would provide a firm basis for many biology courses. I would want to continue Wikiversity and would look to strategic partnerships with other physical universities to both host their material (under a free license of course), and permit them to use Wikiversity's materials.

As to areas of excellence and areas for improvement. I like that Wikiversity retains an open atmosphere with few obvious policies or bitey warnings. I also enjoy its use of graphics and background colors to bring the pages to life. I would recommend greater standardization as to what a course format looks like, how things like the MBA relate to the other courses, and other such details. Also, some general clean up work for links that point to pages at Meta, that have since been moved to Wikiversity, would improve the overall feel of the site. Great work overall though!

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
Wikiversity is a fantastic project with an incredible set of resources that can only get better - and the Board needs to facilitate that. I see promotion of Wikiversity going down well in 3rd world (and even 2nd and 1st world) countries, where an education is not only desirable, but often necessary to survive. Wikiversity can provide just that, and I think the Board needs to see this and promote Wikiversity in the way it deserves. I will not insult anyone by pretending to know more about Wikiversity than I actually do, however I know that if I am elected, the communities can approach me with the issues that they see as important for their project, and I will do what I can in my capacity as a community-elected representative of all projects to help them.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Wikiversity is a very important project with far reaching consequences. (I may have been the first to use the term, four or five years ago, but I can't prove it.) I'm glad that Wikiversity is consistent with the concept of life-long learning as a cradle to grave experience. While we would all like Wikiversity to grow, I think that growth here needs to be managed and nurtured more carefully than on other projects.

It would be wrong to view Wikiversity as a mere extension of Wikibooks. It is an important mission of Wikibooks to house textbooks and other educational resources, but education is more than its resources. Education is a process. To use a grammatical analogy, it is the verb between the subject that learns and the object that is learned.

To make a great contribution our educators need to understand how people learn. They need to also know how to adjust the content to age appropriate modules that take into account the more limited vocabulary of younger children. Drawing in key persons with pedagogical experience would advance the project a long way.

One way that all Board members can help is by participating in key educational conferences of teachers and administrators. For administrators who often need to manage insufficient school district budgets the prospect that quality open source material available at a reasonable price could be very convincing.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
As with most of the questions posted to Board candidates over the past month, the best way for the Board to support Wikiversity is to help balance priority given to discussions and requests from the Wikiversity community, bearing in mind that it is one of the newest Projects, and that its importance in expanding and complementing other Wikimedia projects may not be proportional to its current community voice.

The best way for any interested person to support Wikiversity is to facilitate discussion with its users, supporters, and detractors, to help us all articulate how best to organize collaborative educational resources and an open learning community around them. This includes improving outreach, speaking at events and to different potential users or contributors, and publishing thoughts on the project.

Two things that work well currently : the focus on learning and not just raw materials, and the self-awareness that leads to deep discussion about the project goals and audiences and how they are being met.

Two things that don't work so well : defining the relation between Wikiversity and Wikibooks, and coordinating pages about the idea for a course with an explicit calendar targeted at a group of students.

Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
no response yet.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I don't know Wikiversity good. I know that there is such a project but I had no contact with it until now. What I can say is what I had also said in the questions relating WikiNews and WikiSpecies. I would promote the projects when ever I can and I would give support if you think support is necessary. I also think that the projects should by themselves develop new ideas which collaboration with which institutions would be beneficial for the project.

Non-free content[edit]

What position should the Wikimedia Foundation take on the use of non-free content? In particular, what do you think of the foundation's licensing policy and the definition of free content that the Wikimedia Foundation has adopted, which states:

In most countries however, these freedoms are not enforced but suppressed by the laws commonly named copyright laws. They consider authors as god-like creators and give them an exclusive monopoly as to how "their content" can be re-used. This monopoly impedes the flourishing of culture, and it does not even help the economic situation of authors so much as it protects the business model of the most powerful publishing companies.

Would you make any changes to the licensing resolution or adopt a revised definition? —Remember the dot 20:06, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
The Foundation should stick to open/free content, preferably under a CC-BY-SA license.
Alex Bakharev
The question is very similar to Board_elections/2008/Candidates/Questions/2#Image_licensing. My answer is the same. The current policy is about right: Non-free content greatly increase the value of our project for the direct users. Imagine talking about the modern art without possibility to show some works, talking about companies without the possibility to show their logos, etc. On the other hand non-free content creates potential legal problems for us, non-free content complicates re-using of our content and forking, it also is not desirable for the zealots of free software development and can drive them out. The exact compromise is to be done by each individual project but WMF is to oversee that it is legal in Florida, USA and that usage of non-free images does not inhibit creation of equivalent free images.

One of the perennial sources of conflicts around the non-free content is the non-free publicity images of living people. The foundation presses the projects to delete such images as they inhibit creation of free content. On the other hand only very brave or very stupid people would agree to release their photos if derivatives are allowed (I did it because I am both stupid and brave). So we delete legal but non-free content and receive nothing or controversial content instead. In my opinion the ban of Non-Derivative free images potentially puts us in legal and ethical jeopardy. We should find a way to accept non-derivative free images of living people. This would significantly reduce the need for the non-free images.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
Free content is much better then non-free content and should always be our goal. Occasionally non-free content is needed to illustrate something because no free equivalent exists. In these situations the evils of non-free content should be outweighed by the benefit the content serves. I have no significant objections to the foundation's licensing policy and the definition of free content that the Wikimedia Foundation has adopted (other then the requirement that they be replaced as it relates to Wikinews's archives). Like most everything, both policies could be better, overall though they are fairly good.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
Free works are always better than the equivalent non-free work. To that end, we should always support free content and the opening up of more free content. With that being said, that does not mean that there is no place for non-free content within our projects. The projects have EDP's that are individually determined (within the bounds of what is acceptable as a ceiling, per our legal department). Within each project, some will require more free content, some will require more non-free content. A blanket statement will help nobody. What works for Commons does not work for Spanish Wikipedia or Polish Wikisource. So, adopting changes to the licensing policy, at least with regards to free vs. nonfree content, is not something I see happening without extensive review and legal input.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Is the Board ever going to grow up and start associating itself with laws and policies that aren't prone to "consensus" alterations in the future? Why did the Board align itself with the FreedomDefined.org site, whose FAQ states:

Who wrote this? Who administers the site?

Yeah, how are you?


This is yet another example of the faceless, anonymous, unaccountable immaturity that pervades too much of the "free content" movement. I have tired of it almost to the point of nausea. Is not anyone else offended by it?

Well, my WHOIS search seemed to point to the fact that this guy is leading the Wikimedia Foundation's policy on free and non-free content. Is everybody okay with that? He's almost certainly bearing a genius IQ, but why all of the obnoxious footsie-under-the-table crap in terms of permanence of the definition and accountability of its authors and protectors? People should wonder when nobody wants to take credit for something.

Once again, while I would defer to the $182,000 legal team on the Wikimedia Foundation payroll, I understand that explicit use rationales are not required by law, but it is always good ethical practice to give credit where credit is due. It's a rather simple concept.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I translated the document you quote from into the Finnish language, on the Freedom Defined site. It was far from an easy task, since the document suffers from many ambiguities, logical confusion and clear cultural bias. That said, I very broadly support the underlying intent, and believe if the people behind it were receptive to adjusting it to a more rational and culturally neutral basis, it could certainly develop into a very formidable intellectual and ideological achievement of our century.

For the purposes of the Wikimedia Foundation, the shortcomings of the document, which I consider to be philosophical rather than practical, are insignificant. I don't share the outlook, but the document advocates no action we should not embrace.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Hmm, I like the current definition of Free Content, with the unfortunate invective recognized as that, invective. I think the Foundation policy could be updated a bit to define things like "machine readable", etc, but is generally sufficient for our uses. Obviously free images are preferred to non-free images, but for some topics, it is actually impossible to get a free version, such as a corporate logo or certain historic images.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I do not have a solution to this problem. The worst thing we can do is to change the policy, only to realise that we changed it erroneously.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
If you're going to quote the definition at least quote the correct definition rather than an argumentative paragraph that comes later in the same document.
"This document defines "Free Cultural Works" as works or expressions which can be freely studied, applied, copied and/or modified, by anyone, for any purpose. It also describes certain permissible restrictions that respect or protect these essential freedoms. The definition distinguishes between free works, and free licenses which can be used to legally protect the status of a free work. The definition itself is not a license; it is a tool to determine whether a work or license should be considered "free.""

Whatever one might think of this definition, this subject is difficult enough without playing games about what the definition is.

While I personally believe that we need an avenue to allow for the publication of nearly free works with the intent of making them free, I am fully aware that we would be walking through a legal minefield. Even what may be perfectly free under U.S. law may be subject to additional restrictions under European moral rights provisions or database protections, or the lack of protections in many countries for parody. Thus, saying with certainty that any given work is free is next to impossible.

Any policy can be improved, but don't expect any radical deviations soon.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
The actual definition to which Wikimedia subscribes is a good one. The Foundation should avoid getting involved in strong philosophical language about such licensing such as the paragraph you cite.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
First of all, I think our current definition of "free content" serves us well insofar as it's used to determine which licenses are sufficiently free for our purposes. I've addressed elsewhere the possibility of treating "free" as a less binary concept (such that there may be cases in which, even though a completely free image is preferred, a CC non-commercial license may be acceptable while a copyrighted and unlicensed image may not be). I do want to briefly expand on my views of free content. I like free content, as I presume do we all. As a consumer, I like free content because i. you don't usually have to pay for it, and ii. all else being equal, is better to have a product that you can reproduce and propagate than it is to have one that you can't. But I think we need to stay far away from the notion that it is somehow "evil" for the creator of a work to wish to restrict its use in such a way that he/she can profit from it. As a contributor, I don't mind licensing my contributions freely because I'm essentially a hobbyist generator of content. If I was a professional (writer/photographer/programmer), I would be much more leery of so-licensing my work, and I think quite understandably. In addition to the free material I use (Firefox, OpenOffice.org, Wikipedia), I also use quite a bit of non-free material, especially in the books I read. I often pay for this material knowing that a portion of the price is for the right to access the content, and I don't begrudge paying this at all. Indeed, I realize that a good deal of this content would never have been created were it not for the profit motive of the creator. In fact, even something like OpenOffice.org likely owes a great many of its features to the work done by the developers of Microsoft Office.

Free content is a wonderful thing, and the Foundation should continue its work in generating and disseminating it. But let's not pretend that all content can be free, or that it would be desirable for it to be so.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
I don't think that we need to change our licencing policy. The text you cited is too radical for me. The fact is, we create free content and the foundation promote using free content. I don't see the WikiMedia-projects as revolutionairs that want to overthrough the dictatorship of copyright. We create free content, in accordance to the law. Nonetheless we change the world through our work.

Competitor or independent to other media?[edit]

Thank you for being passionate enough to WikiMedia's projects to be a candidate. I wanted to ask about your views on WMF's projects in relation to other creations in the world, primarily those with a commercial element. For example, do you regard Wikinews as a serious competitor to the mainstream news, do you regard Wiktionary a serious competitor to other dictionaries, do you regard Wikipedia as a competitor to the Britannica (or even Wales' other co-creation, Wikia), and so forth? If so, why? If not, how so? And for either answer, how does this affect your view on what role in the world WMF projects should hold in contrast to these other media outlets? Guroadrunner 03:29, 7 June 2008 (UTC) (Guroadrunner on en.wikipedia)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Yes, the projects are very competitive, though success is varying per project. The Wikimedia projects have their own strengths and can build their future on their own strengths. The projects will strive as long as individuals are prepared to spent time and energy contributing content and many more individual people visit the projects to find valuable information. As a non-profit, the Foundation will continue to move independently from for-profit businesses.
Alex Bakharev
I think WMF projects are in many ways unique and much broader than their commercial analogs but they obviously take (or will take in the near future) a significant proportion of potential customers from some commercial service. Lets consider Wikipedia ( a major language edition together with commons). It is still a toddler in its development but we already see it is competing with many commercial servises:
  • It is an online Encyclopedia like Britannica. It is much more comprehensive already (3M articles instead to 300K for Britannica), way better illustrated, the information is much more contemporary (often Britannica's articles were written 100 years ago), less biased, etc.
  • It is a specialist reference manual with formulas for calculating Von Mises stresses,Reynolds Numbers, etc.
  • It is a competitor to web search engines like Google providing quality weblinks on all areas of knowlege;
  • It is an art album (or online art gallery) with quality reproductions of almost all classical painters (and usable reproduction of modern painters);
  • It is a news source that is slightly less instant than newspapers and TV but much less biased and gives good background to the events (unlike typical newsmedia);
  • It is a competitor to the National Geographics and similar media - providing quality illustrations of exotic places;
  • It is a huge collection of trivia - a direct competitor to different funcraft books;

...

  • Being a social network we are even a competitor to MySpace and LovePlanet - people are finding friends and spouses by editing Wiki.

Are we destroying somebody's business? Not sure: while me take away many customers from traditional services our editors are using those services en-mass (except LovePlanet, perhaps) searching for new material for wiki. I am not sure what the real balance the commercial services have, but for the humanity in whole we bring significant improvement.

It seems like most other WMF projects are not even toddlers - they are newborn babies, but then they will grow up the impact will be similar.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I view all similar projects as both competitor and potential ally. For instance, while some candidates feel that Britannica is unable to keep up with Wikipedia, that may not always be the case. It's foolish to dismiss other projects as "not competition" just because they are not competition now. A long time ago, a little project called Wikipedia could not have hoped to keep up with Britannica, and look how things have changed. That being said, while we must consistently find ways to stay on top of our competitors, we should also look to view them as potential allies. For instance, if we can find ways to leverage the strengths of our competitors to improve our own project, we benefit. A case in point is Veropedia. By definition, Veropedia is a competitor to Wikipedia. However, in doing so, it improves the quality of articles on Wikipedia. Therefore, it is beneficial to us for Veropedia to exist; it may be beneficial to us to ally with them in some way. It is not beneficial to us, however, to ignore its existence and dismiss it as not a competitor, lest we grow complacent and one day awaken to a lost market share. Now, I know I answered your question in reverse, by addressing how other products compare to us. Let me now address how we compare to other products. Wikinews, if well supported, will eventually be able to compete on a level far greater than what it is right now. It may not ever beat CNN. It may eventually replace CNN. By ignoring the smaller projects, we will never know whether they can stand on their own as potential competitors to commercial projects in their sphere.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
While ruminating on an answer, I conducted an experiment where I clicked "Random article" on the English Wikipedia, then determined whether that same topic was available on the subscriber-based edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. I had set out hoping to find 10 articles that "matched", but given that it took 84 clicks of random Wikipedia articles to find just 6 that were available on Britannica, I halted my efforts at six!

So, let's consider the consequences of that, and I'll try to opine a bit more on this later.

UPDATE: Considering that the link immediately above has been clicked only 3 or 4 times in the past few days, I wonder whether much of the Wikimedia community is even continuing to read these candidate responses. Nothing wrong with that... as I feel that we've rather blathered on quite enough already in the scores of questions above.

In sum, I strongly sense that the Wikimedia Foundation projects have the potential to decimate commercial competitors, which has an adverse effect on diversity and choice in the marketplace of information. That is why I so strongly feel that the WMF owes the world its very best, most talented efforts to strive toward ethics, accuracy, and excellence in online media. In a way, Wikipedia is the Wal-Mart of the encyclopedia world. Is everyone comfortable with a Wal-Mart level of ethics and excellence?

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
On the encyclopaedia front we have never had any competition. What we were was something qualitatively and quantitatively new, a quantum leap into a whole new energy level (yes, I know that is a tired metaphor ;) into applying the old Oxford English Dictionary model of gathering snippets of knowledge, into a completely new technological infrastructure, way more radical than moving type.

Britannica was doomed from day one. It never was competition, since it was ever a sitting target, nay, not a target even, but a milepost. Once we got past it, we never looked back. None of the stay behinds like citizendium or veropedia will ever catch us, because we are a *moving target*. Anything they innovate, we can incorporate more intelligently.

The other projects we have are a more complex situation. I'll take just one as an example, because it offers such a great contrast. Wikinews really has its work cut out for it. The pre-existing news product out there was well developed, vibrant, and fiercely competitive, nimble etc. at the grassroots, reporters shoe on the pavement level. The only ossification visible was in the infrastructure and way of defining itself in terms of editorial criteria. Those are not nearly insurmountable to reform, so as to take the challenge by wikinews squarely on and defend the old media angle quite effectively, while incorporating any minor thing wikinews looks to be doing right.

There will really be an interesting and dare I say *equal* competition between the old and the new media there. And there genuinely are no guarantees that our vibrancy and youth and new way of looking at things will overcome the wily experience of fending off competition and opposition the old media has in abundance, skirmishing between each other, and the three other estates.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
If in 2001 you had asked Britannica if Wikipedia was a threat to its business, I'm almost certain its response would've been to laugh you out of the room. But, low, and behold, today Wikipedia is number 8 on google search, and Britannica is barely in the picture. Granted Wikipedia, through its leap in ease of use over Britannica, had an advantage, it still was a new idea. Wikinews has a larger leap to make. Cnn.com, MSNBC.com, even the Drudgereport, all provide a much wider range of competitors to Wikinews. Wiktionary also has a range of tech-savvy competitors like dictionary.com and OED. So I think it will take more time and resources to ultimately grow these projects. That said, I think these projects can grow into equal-sized competitors in their respective fields, and support the WMF in continuing to fund and advertise them. Hopefully, someday, WN will become a source for CNN, much like the AP and Reuters are today. We have many more potential contributors, in many more parts of the world than either of those organizations do, so it is merely an issue of motivating them to contribute to the projects.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
It is important to note that if the communities do not see them as a competitor - then why not? We have the resources, we have the capability, we can make every project a worthy competitor in its field. And each community needs to decide how best to do this, because this is not something the Board is going to ever be able to change, but we can facilitate and help the communities with whatever they need to achieve the very real goal of being a major competitor in whatever field is relevant.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
You can't ignore the Darwinism of the competitive market. I don't regard Wikipedia as a competitor to Britannica, because Britannica is unable to keep up. I have not had enough close contact with Wikinews to predict its level of competitiveness. For Wiktionary may I be bold enough to take personal credit for the single policy that will make it a serious competitor: it is a dictionary for all words in all languages. I don't think that all of our projects are destined for long life, but those that are will give their counterparts a good run. Hopefully they won't be so big as to be monopolistic; that position would open up a whole new set of problems.

Commercial projects that have an advantage when they start may not be able to sustain that advantage. That's very hard for them to sustain when we have the edge of no salaries to pay. Our role in contrast with our competition should probably be to become the leaders and trend setters.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Wikipedia and sister projects need not compete with commercial projects, which target a specific edited lens into the world's materials. There is room for both to coexist, just as there is room for both professional and amateur astronomy, virtual world construction, and law review compilation; though the commercial projects may not see it that way.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
Insofar as the WMF's projects are trying to fill the same broad niches (can niches be broad?) as commercial projects, there is definitely an element of competition. I think the only WMF project that is doing well enough in this competition to threaten its more commercial competitors is Wikipedia, and this isn't entirely a good thing. Wikipedia can't replace conventional encyclopaedias, and if the latter fall by the wayside by reason of our success the world of knowledge will have suffered a significant loss. I think the WMF has to emphasize in its PR efforts that, as far as it's concerned, there will always be a place for professionally-produced and fact-checked encyclopaedias alongside Wikipedia. Hobbyists should only ever supplement, and never supplant, professionals.

The same is broadly true of non-Wikipedia projects: I'd hate to see the OED go down because of Wiktionary's popularity, or the Associated Press go down because of Wikinews, or textbook publishers go down because of Wikibooks. However, those are sufficiently unlikely that they're really not a concern at this point.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
I don't consider our projects as competitors to other media. What are we competing against them? Do we want more profit, market share? No we don't. Britanica was already in trouble long before Wikipedia came into being. We are not competing with Britanica, nor are we competing with newspapers or magazines or textbook publishers with our WikiNews or WikiBook. What makes the classical media so uneasy in the last years, was the new technology. But we didn't invent the new technology. Even if there are no WikiMedia-projects, the classical publichers will still see themselves facing big trouble. What they should do, is to find a way to use the new technology for them, not against them. I even don't think we are competing against them in content. If they are clever, they can discover in the WikiMedia-projects resources they can use, for free, for their own benefit, as for example the magazine Spiegel in German in now doing.

Have the viewpoints of other candidates impressed you?[edit]

Nevermind who is the best candidate overall. Have there been specific views on a narrow or broad question that the other candidates have expressed either in their candidate statements or in their answers to the questions on these pages, which have impressed you, modified your approach in some way, completely changed your outlook on an issue, or have expressed a valid point of view which you nevertheless do not subscribe to, but you would wish to acknowledge publically? -- Cimon Avaro 20:38, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Great question Cimon. You yourself being a candidate, what is your answer? Impress me, modify my approach, change my outlook, express a valid point to which i don't subscribe to, which you wishes to be acknowledged by me publically.
Alex Bakharev
Most of the questions are actually of perennial nature there it is difficult to say something new. Some of the answers had interesting insights, some ideas appear to be wrong. Most deserve long answers that are outside the format of 1600 byte replies. I am ready to discuss some proposals but I cannot comment on all the 200+ answers.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
A number of the answers have impressed me. There are a few too many questions to really go through them again an pick out the ones that impressed me, but in general the answers of the users who I said I would vote for [1] have been the ones I liked the best. A few of your (Cimon Avaro) answers caused me to rethink how I ranked you and I ended up ranking you much higher then I originally thought I would.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I share viewpoints with several other of the candidates on different topics. I don't think there is a particular answer that jumps out at me. If I find one, I'll surely modify this answer to reflect it.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I have been most impressed (not in a good way) with the response from Alex above, which contained the following lines:
That means increasing, not decreasing the total amount of traveling and promotion expences. I am not fully aware of Jimbo's expense reports but it is quite possible that $300 a person dinner with a billionaire American or a $500 a person informal entertainment with a Russian billionaire (indeed there are people in Moscow who have business talk in saunas and massage parlors) is a worthy effort to potentially get millions in sponsorship deals.

This line of reasoning could not be further from my own.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
no response yet.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
No, nothing that really surprised me in the question answers. Most were reasoned and well thought out, representing the trend towards the mean of community views. Some I agree with, and I ranked those candidates highly as a result, some trend in ways I disagree with, and I ranked those individuals lower. More of a sense issue than a scientific process, but one that I think is a valid means.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
Yes.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Since the ballot requires us to rank our choices, I set up a spreadsheet for myself showing the other candidates, and scoring each of their responses on a 1 to 5 scale and totalling the results. Failure to answer a question meant no score to total for that question; saying anything, however disagreeable, would be enough to earn a 1. With one of my opponents, with whom I had a public disagreement on the mailing list just before the elections started, it turned out that the question relevant to that dispute was the only one where I gave him a low mark, and his 168 score is currently the highest.

I already believed in the importance of the sister projects and smaller language communities, and have perhaps been casual in saying that those who participate in those projects and communities bear the primary responsibility for their development. Maybe this is because, having experienced the drama of en:wp, I sometimes feel a little more at ease in the quieter backwaters where the lack of publicity diminishes the attraction for vandals and other problem individuals. I'm sure this will make me more attentive to the needs of these other projects, and finding ways to grow these projects without endangering their autonomy.

I have always strongly believed in the autonomy of each project, and in keeping intervention by the Board at an absolute minimum. It still bothers me when some candidates say, "This issue is for the projects to solve," as though to absolve the Board of any responsibility. A Board member, especially one from the community, must still show an understanding and concern for what is happening in the projects, even when it is not his role to intervene. A Board member who hides in the protection of a bank cashier's cage is likely missing an important part of the experience.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
This year's election asked candidates not to write coherent, well-organized essays and platforms, preventing the creation of any really good essays for future discussion.

That said, Ting's answers impress me for their careful consideration. A few candidates have impressive commitments to using their seat to implement new policies and boldly Get Things Done, which strikes me as an awkward position for a community representative.

Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
First, a little prelude that in no way answers your question, but seems to fit here better than anywhere else: I am profoundly impressed by the candidates for whom English isn't a first language and who are running in what is, effectively, and English election. This goes for those who have achieved a good mastery of English, because they make me feel so wimpy and North American and unilingual, but especially for those who struggle with English, and who still have the courage to put themselves in a situation in which they have to express complex ideas in a language that is foreign to them.

As for your actual question, there are several examples of other candidates impressing me with analyses. In this question, I thought both Dan and Harel raised some excellent points, and framed their answers from perspectives that I hadn't necessarily considered. In this one, Craig made an important point about the distinction between membership-based, which is a technical question of governance, and community-driven, which is a broader philosophical one. I thought quite highly of Matthew's systematic answer followed by innovative thinking on this question. Ting Chen makes a great point here. I think Greg makes some excellent, daring points on a few questions - this is one such question. And, if I may say, my answer to the current question has been excellent.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
Yes sure. I read every answer carefully, after I have put my answer in. Especially the detailed answers are often very insightful. Some I agree with, some I don't. And from some answers I can learn. Some of the candidates have already worked with the foundation, and their answers open a window for me into the inside of the foundation mechanism. Other candidates have more experience and knowledge in financial and legal issues. From their answers I can learn or acknowledge my shortcoming.

How do you perceived yourself as a mainboard member[edit]

How do you perceived yourself as a mainboard member?. Che090572 05:19, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
I perceive myself as a capable board member, long term wikimedian and community member.
Alex Bakharev
I am not sure I completely understand your question. Can you clarify it?

I see myself as a representative of the editorial community (rather than a representative of the board within the community. I will use my Wiki and real life experience trying to promote development that is beneficial for the community, preventing the decisions that might be negative and drawing the attention of the community when a discussion is due. I am reasonably loyal to our project and would not stir the troubles so to get some scoring points or publicity. Still if I believe I have to oppose some board decision I would not hesitate to oppose and to promote my views to the community. I believe I have some integrity and that it is difficult to buy or scary me but I am open to the arguments of all the sides and can change my mind if the arguments of my opponents side are valid. I think I good in finding compromises and mediating disputes.

I do not intend to micromanage WMF staff or, god forbids, projects, but I consider WMF board to be the highest authority for the WMF work that is to intervene if the intervention is needed. I have to work for the living but I promise to attend all the WMF meetings and do all the required work as a matter of course.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
(answering what I think the question to be, since it's not clear) I see myself as being a very effective board member. Part of being able to be successful on the board is being able to institute the changes that you want, or an acceptable compromise, against potential objections from dissenting board members. A trustee must be able to get along with his fellow board members. This does not mean he will agree with them, but he must be friendly with them. The trustee must know clearly what the role of the board is and how non-profits work, something I have experience in as a board member at other organizations. The trustee must know how to properly represent himself to the public and conduct good media relations. This is another thing I have great experience with due to the many interviews for the foundation with major media networks that I have already conducted. The trustee must know how to be fiscally responsible and know how to manage a large budget against competing interests, something that I again have experience with. The trustee needs to know and respect his constituency. For the seat we all are running for, that constituency is the community. We need to be upstanding members of the community; we need to proactive in contacting members of the community to ask their opinions; we need to be open and receptive to their ideas, and we need to be aware and respectful of their dissenting ideas. Without the community there is no Wikimedia. A good trustee understands and remembers that.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Please re-word your question.

Mainboard: See MOTHERBOARD. The main board of a computer, usually containing the circuitry for the central processing unit, keyboard, and monitor and often having slots for accepting additional circuitry.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
I believe this question is quite similar to this question and this one. Please see there. If there are specific aspects of being a board member that you want me to relate to, please specify. Harel 06:17, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Like the others, I will answer what I think you are asking; that is how I would fit in as a member of the board of trustees.

I think I know Kat Walsh pretty well as a person, and have never had so much as a heated word with her, quite the contrary, I have every respect for her, including her ability to speak her mind.

I have great respect for Michael Snows ability as a communicator, and his dedication to neutrality, as evinced in his work for the Signpost. While our paths have rarely converged in affairs of a wikimedian nature, I think he wouldn't disagree that we could work well together.

Jan-Bart de Vreede and Stu West are members of the board I know least about as persons, but their expertise is clear and uncontroversially highly valuable for the board. I would certainly listen attentively to anything they had to say on the matters they are experts on.

I cannot comment at all about Frieda Brioschi, other than to say that we definitely need some form of connection to experience from the chapters, and how they operate, and what their legitimate interests are.

How would I work with Jimbo Wales? That is an interesting question. I have had some contact with him during the half a decade I have been a wikimedian, including once memorably waking him up around six o' clock his local time, to alert him to the (single!) wikipedia server being down, by phoning his personal phone number. Is there some source of friction between us that might surface? Well, the closest one from my side would likely be how in an interview, where he was asked about how the en:WP:BITE policy was drafted, Jimbo claimed to have actually personally instituted it. But I would be really petty to hold that against him, since in every real sense, it was his example that underlies it, and I merely as an accident of history, happened to draft the outlook he put into daily living practise into the dead medium of a policy page.

It would be completely premature for me to express what role I would in practise assume in the board, but clearly everything I did, would have two sides of a coin present. The oversight of the organisational structure and the stewardship of our means and assets. And on the other side, the representation of the interests of the community, for whose benefit ultimately, the other side of the coin is there, and would be answerable, through me as a trustee.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I see myself as being a representative of the community. That means presenting and supporting community petitions and proposals, communicating with the communities regarding the Board's activities, and helping the communities improve their content through shared services support. I would expect that community members would come to me with ideas that I could take to the Board and argue on behalf of. Additionally, I would hope they would bring proposals for making the MediaWiki software better to use, making WikiMania's more relevant, and other ideas on the shared services aspect of the Foundation. Also, I would intend on regularly communicating with the communities specific changes the Board has implemented or intends to implement.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I have already answered this question here and here - if there is something else you would like clarified, please get in contact!
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
The first responsibility of a Board member is to consider all resolutions brought before the Board fairly and objectively. As an elected Board member I would have an additional responsibility of reporting to the constituency that elected me, and making sure that the clear views of the community are presented when the relevant issues are considered. If I find the community divided I need to make that fact clear as well.

Depending on how the board collectively decides to allocate tasks among its members, I understand that I may sometimes need to represent the Board in either public or private functions where my representation should be strictly consistent with Board thinking. If I am in serious disagreement with a clear majority of the Board on a specific issue, another Board member is bound to be able to better represent the Board on that issue than one who can only insincerely parrot that policy.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Serving to focus the Foundation on tasks and safeguards that only it can accomplish, and to make its workings more transparent. Personally, working to amplify the input of smaller communities and projects; to represent the interests of the community and to identify ways to safeguard their interests that may not be obvious to individual projects. However, these personal goals are ones that all community members can address.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I'm afraid that I also don't understand this question; could you rephrase it? If English is not your first language, perhaps you could post it in a language in which you are more comfortable?
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I will keep contact with the community and I will make decisions always in the interest of the community. I will keep our goal to make the foundation and the board work more transparent. When ever possible I will try to promote our smaller projects and to win collaborations with other none profit institutions. I know that I cannot represent every single member of our community and I know that there are things I don't know. That's the reason why I would always decide carefully and would work hard, try to overcome my shortages.

What would you do to encourage WOMEN to run for the board; there are no women candidates![edit]

What would you do to encourage WOMEN to run for the board; there are no women candidates! 65.183.137.179 22:24, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
On both nl.wiki and en.wiki I've added several entries on feminists last month - please check my contributions! Current system is self-nomination. In some cultures, for example Japan, Taiwan, self-nomination is very rare, and probably the reason there are no Japanese or Taiwanese candidates. Anyone who can edit a Wiki, can complete her own nomination as a candidate by filling out a template on this Wiki.
Alex Bakharev
I am not sure it is fair to paint WMF as completely man-dominated organization. We have such strong female leaders as w:Sue Gardner, w:Florence Devouard, Kat Walsh, and w:Angela Beesley.

One of the obstacles that might prevent women from seeking the board positions is the intensive amount of traveling involved. It might be very difficult for women with young children especially if they are single. One of the ways to counter it is to make reimbursement of child care expenses to be a part of our traveling policy (I know it was an issue before). The other way maybe to cut in-person meetings. With all the advances in the teleconferencing software surely we can cut on the amount of in person board meetings. It might make board positions more attractive for women. It would also save some traveling expenses. If we can have three in person board meetings less it would allow us to hire one more paid staff. It might be worth it.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I have no idea why we have no women running this time around. We have had several successful female candidates in the past. Unless we start to find this to be a trend, the lack of female candidates in this election is probably just a odd coincidence rather then something to be concerned about.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I encourage strong candidates to run for the board. I don't care what gender they are. Perhaps this question would be better directed at female Wikimedians who chose not to run, or at our two female board members, or the two past female boardmembers, or our female executive director, or our largely female office staff. If the intent of this question is to insinuate that the WMF is a male dominated organization, it does a poor job.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Duly noting the other responses here, I did not know that women have in the past been so successful with community-voted Board campaigns. Still, I wonder when we'll see the first person of color on the Board -- as much of a concern (if not more) than the gender issue.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Ironically, the best way to increase the number of women coming forward to be a candidate in trusteeship elections in the future, may be to attempt to insure that the next female candidates _lose_. At present, prospective female candidates are facing a chilling fact that statistically speaking, postulating from past performance, if a woman steps forward, there is an enormously good chance of them becoming a Wikimedia Foundation Trustee. For instance Kat Walsh, who failed to win trusteeship through election, was nevertheless later appointed to that position.

I am only half kidding. Nevertheless, along with many others answering this question, I find it a genuinely low priority cause of alarm.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I'm not sure why there were no women running this time. I am disappointed at the lack of gender diversity, as well as the lack of candidates hailing from outside N. America and Europe regions. I support the efforts of things like the WikiChix mailing list and WikiWomen meetings at larger conferences, as well as the standard non-discrimination policies, but short of forcing female editors to run, I really don't see how the board can encourage more women to nominate themselves. I would though support efforts such as the greater use of teleconferencing, if it were determined that in-person meetings decreased the number of female participants.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I do not know why there are no women candidates, but I don't see it to be an immediate problem. If we find ourselves in a trend of declining female contribution and participation then we have a problem.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Let me take this opportunity to venture into political incorrectness. If our anonymous questioner is male I find the question insincere and paternalistic. If you are female why are you asking this question of 15 guys, each of whom would have a potential conflict of interest with you? The way women candidates have been cleaning up in past elections, at least this time a guy has a chance. (You aren't doing so well among the appointed Trustees.)

If women run for office they do stand as good a chance of being elected as any man, but the voters can't vote for a person who is not on the ballot. Men have a tendency to act first, and ask questions later, but I find that women, by asking first, discover such a wide range of doubts and excuses as to put risk beyond reach.

If you are a mother of young children with a partner tell (don't ask) him that there will be times when he will need to be alone with the kids. It will do him and the kids a lot of good, as well as you. I certainly profited by having spent a lot of time with my son when he was growing up.

If you have the passion for leadership follow it.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
A valid concern; but this is something all community members should address..
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
First of all, the WMF projects seem to be numerically male-dominated. I suspect that this is for reasons that are beyond our control, but I would very much like to hear others' thoughts, especially women's, on this topic (and I also think it would make a great Wikimania discussion topic, if it hasn't already been one). But because of this, you can always expect that electoral fields will be male-dominated, which indeed they always have been.

(Interestingly, though, women who run do very well: of the eight positions that have been filled by election, women - four different women - have filled six of them. In fact, Erik Möller is the only male ever to be elected by the community.)

So the question is, are women running in proportion to their prominence in the community? Obviously in this election the answer is no, but I don't know the overall answer. If they are running in proportion to their prominence, then we should congratulate ourselves on this, and then worry about how to increase women's prominence in the community (on the assumption that they would continue to run in proportion to their prominence as this prominence approached fifty percent). If they're not, we need to determine why not. The only idea I have is the same as Alex's (I came up with it independently of him, though, I swear!). Women still bear a disproportionate share of the responsibility of child-rearing in most societies, so anything we can do to make board participation a more parent-friendly experience should be endorsed.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
I don't know why this time there are no women candidating. In the past every run we have women candidating, and they had quite good chance. In total I would encourage more women for our project. If there are more women in the community, there will probably also be more candidates.

Important subject[edit]

1. Which subject would you make most changes for if elected to the commite? What changes? Is there any thing you think is most important to do if elected? What subjects are you most interested in (specific projects, economy, WYSIWYG editing, etc)? Leo Johannes 18:22, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Your first question implies individual Board members would have the authority to make changes to anything. Individual Board members may pay specific attention to specific subjects, however, the Board as a whole decides. Specific subjects I will pay attention to are maintaining openness and transparency of the Foundation, long term financial sustainability of the Foundation, focusing on Foundation issues and delegating project level issues to project level communities to prevent Foundation/Board interference with project level issues, encouraging project level communities to draft their project success story they want to tell, tell and tell to everybody and would like to see the Board tell as well, facilitating migration to CC-BY-SA, and collecting resources to implement WYSIWIG. On the strategic side in my vision there will be over a hundred chapters, covering as many countries, in five years time.
Alex Bakharev
I think there are many challenges that WMF has:
  • In my opinion the main challenge is to counter slowing down of our project and achieve high sustainable growth in both quantity and quality of information we provide.
  • It corresponds to another challenge: to achieve the real life recognition of our work.
  • We also have the daily challenge of insuring smooth work of our servers, our staff, comfortable works for our volunteers and no defeats on the legal front.
  • In the media-universe we have to ensure proper promotion of our goals and successes and countering all the negative info we might have.
  • In the financial sphere we have to ensure that we have the income we needed by either winning large sponsorship deals or getting some governmental grants or significantly increase the flow of the small donations
  • In the organizational sphere we have to find the proper role for the local chapters, ensure they are sustainable and strong;
  • On the software side we have to make proper use of the flagged revision option that I believe is a very important development
  • On the legal side of the things we have to improve our handling of biographies of living people (maybe enforcing special rules for deletion, non derivative imaging). We have also continue our fight with copyright violations
  • On the editorial side WMF should not interfere unless we have pressing reasons to do it. Still WMF is the only structure that can have leadership if the consensus is not achieved. We might want to organize expert panels or other means to solve the content disputes.
  • I would advocate establishment of WMF prizes for the best volunteer contribution and the legal fund to protect wikipedians from persecution and harassment related to their work.

Eech of this task is IMHO critically important. Each is a mammoth task. I do not promise to singlehandedly solve any of them but I promise to support every board movement that makes a step toward solution and stingingly oppose every step in the opposite direction.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
First of all, my priority will be "What has the board already discussed, or is already discussing?" There is no point in wasting energy on topics that have already been discussed to death, unless there is something new to bring to the table; one new board member is not likely to change that. Therefore, unless the board has already come to internal decisions on the topic, these are my priorities:
  • Working with Jay Walsh and Sue Gardner to improve the Foundation's public image and image within the community. This is an area of interest and college study for me, so it is one of my high priorities.
  • Comprehensive review with Mike Godwin of the foundation's legal position, outstanding cases, and strategy for the future.
  • Development of a policy that will allow the foundation to protect its volunteers from stalking and harassment.
  • Work with Cary Bass on ways that we can implement a formal community voice to the board that does not rely on the elected community trustees. (This may be in the form of a Wikicouncil or PVC, or some other form).


In addition, the following are priorities of mine, but I believe are likely to have already been discussed by the board, and thus are lower priorities than the above.

  • Examine the possibility of a transition to membership based organization (may already be discussed)
  • Work towards the establishment of an endowment fund for the foundation, in a way that will not take donations away from our budgetary needs. (Probably has already been discussed, will need more discussion with Sue).
  • Develop ways to make smaller projects, especially Wikiversity, more approachable and more visible, and increase their membership. (A longer term project, which likely has already been discussed)

If there is anything else that the community believes that I should be making a priority of on the board, I invite them to contact me, either on my en.wp user talk page, my meta user talk page, or via email and let me know their thoughts..

Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
The most important subject that I'll want to address from the Board is a top-down mandate to begin immediate scientific trials of simple modifications that would improve the excellence and accuracy of the content on these projects -- while simultaneously making editing and maintenance more tolerable for all serious Wikimedians.

Hint: Experiment #1 would be semi-protection of a sample of biographies of living persons with a post-evaluation after 90 days. Imagine the reduction in drive-by defamatory vandalism if anonymous IPs were removed from the mix. If "the community" prefers beating itself against the wall, fighting IP vandals day and night, don't vote for me.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Well, if I am elected to the _Board_, I'll try very hard to not change anything in a bad way. That will be more important than wreaking any fundamental shifts in the way the board or the foundation operates. The most important thing I personally would do would be to talk softly into the ears of people who are involved in various areas of wikimedia, and if and when those people can bring good things to fruit, I would on the board support their efforts, and help in any way the board can, to enable the efforts coming from our various people in the various communities and organisation organs.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
My two main goals would be a to:
  • Establish a long term strategic plan, encompassing project goals, financial goals (endowment, funding, etc), and Board governance planning.
  • Create a system of communications channels to link the communities' voices more closely to Board actions and Foundation activities, as detailed in earlier question answers.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
Everything in this question has been answered in either previous questions or my candidate statement. Please review them, and, if you have any further questions, please do get in contact!
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
It's hard to be too specific about this, and it's important not to take hard views that really need to be solved by the projects, the chapters or even Wikicouncil. I think that it's important to be more forthcoming about what's going on at the Board to avoid the appearance of being a cabal. I think it's important to be pro-active to protect the copyrights of WMF and its members, just as much as we look out for the rights of others. I would like to work on eliminating the barriers faced by potential editors who are not as software savvy as many of our leaders. I have also come to see the need to make sure that the sister projects are recognized as equal in importance to Wikipedia.
Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
I proposed a three-year plan and goals for the Foundation in 2004; it still represents what I believe the Foundation should focus on, with few changes.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
The two subjects that I'm most interested in are long-range financial planning - which may include the establishment of an endowment as advocated by several other candidates, although I'm skeptical that any such endowment should come from a dedicated donation stream - and the creation of policy committees at the WMF's largest projects. While I don't feel this latter move ought to be in the purview of the Board, the fact is that it needs to happen, and the Board is the only entity capable of making it happen. Think of it as an "Ignore all rules" as applied to the separation between Board and projects, I guess.

Besides these moves, of course, ongoing oversight is always the primary function of a Board, though there aren't really a lot of campaign promises that a guy can make in that department.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
I think I have stated my main concern in my candidacy. And as these are the further improvement and development of the MediaWiki software to meet the modern technologies and an enhanced userbility. To encourage and develop collaborations with other non-profit institutions, if possible, to enhance the quality of our projects. To promote our smaller projects and call more people to work on them. Last but not least to develop a way to further improve the communication between the projects.

Promotions and recruitment[edit]

I keep reading statements about promoting Wikimedia, and reaching schools and colleges, as well as recruiting good editors. Fine, How do you see that practically happen?. Nasib Bitar 04:44, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
The Foundation/Board/Office will engage in publicity and outreach with a main goal of attracting donors, grants and selective partnership. In my opinion it is a responsibility of project level communities to promote their specific project, to reach schools and colleges, and recruit editors. The best thing they can do is be-nice-to-newcomers.
Alex Bakharev
Well, I see it as a three-fold task: we have to educate people how to use our products, we have to promote our goals and we have to promote our editors. This is a big thing but I have to be brief. See also my answer to Board_elections/2008/Candidates/Questions/2#Quality_and_recruitment.

There is enormous interest of the society to our products. A few examples: the next year High Schools on w:New South Wales state in w:Australia will have wikipedia editing course as an elective in their curriculum[2]. It is an ideal course of the Wikiversity. Do we have one? Does WMF checked the curriculum they use? Do we push the dpeartments of education and schoolboards for similar courses in other places? Do we prepare textbooks for them (a good wikibook project). I am not sure a full semester wikiediting course is needed for many students but I would advocate a 1..2 hour Wiki-using for workshop for most students of high schools and universities. Are their teachers qualify for those tasks. Can we recommend qualified wiki-educators to teach wiki to educators. Do we have teaching material available somewhere onwiki? Can we ensure that any significant professional and educational conference there more than one active wikipedian present has wikiwriting workshop or wikipedia booth? Do we have materials for such a workshop onwiki? Maybe we should organize a conference Wikipedia in Education?

The second direction is promotion of our goals. There are many wikipedians who worked in media business. Can they educate people about our goals? Can they report how our work is promoting public good, helps underdeveloped nations, poor and disadvantaged? Wikipedians are voters, can we make promotion of free information, limiting terms of the copyright law, support for WMF to be a political issue. There is Disney and others advocating extending their copyright for the Mikey Mouse forever, there are publishers lobbying for extension of copyright on the classical paintings to the reproductions, there are Goverments putting copyright restrictions on the taxpayers-funded historical photos. Can we somehow counter those trends. Can we lobby govermental support for GFDL and Creative Commons?

The third direction is promoting wikipedians. We must educate people how wonderful our editors are, how many bright and respectful people are among us. The society should now we are not a bunch of jerks hiding under weird pseudonyms. We must still support anonymity for people who needs it but we should help people to get out of the closet and show their wiki-achievements. They worth it.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
We pick up the phone and call them. Email them. Have our local Wikimedians recruit on their campuses. We have an outreach director now, a paid employee who can do this kind of work. We make appeals to them at educational conferences, especially where their and our interests meet. We have the chapters do the same thing with their local schools and universities. We hold Wikimedia Academies. In short, the problem is not "How" we do it, but "When" we do it. We just need to get up and DO it.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
The way forward to build solid relationships with schools, colleges, and "good editors" is not to keep promoting and publicizing and pushing the current product down their throats. The way forward is to reform the Foundation and the projects in such a way that accuracy, ethics, and excellence are made "Job #1". Believe me, if we fashion a community and content that are more reliable and trusted, these reputation-based suitors that we seek will come along. As it stands now, they are actually being driven away by what they see here and how they are treated in content spaces.

Let me give you two promotion models. Surely, you remember America Online's advertising campaigns throughout the late 1990's, where CD-ROM start-up software was shoved down the American population's collective throat. These CDs were showing up in magazines, in your mailbox, at movie theaters, at the Post Office, and even in cereal boxes. This certainly built up a huge base of subscribers, but the AOL product itself was lacking in so many ways that two out of three of those subscriber counts quickly disappeared. Why would we follow that business model?

Instead, let us look at the model forged by The Body Shop, which emphasized a set of core values: Against Animal Testing, Support Community Trade, Activate Self Esteem, Defend Human Rights, and Protect Our Planet. With hardly any advertising at all initially, The Body Shop drew in so many customers who identified with those core values, it has grown to be the second-largest cosmetics franchise on the globe. Or, we could look at the model of Google, another outrageously successful brand that does very little advertising and self-promotion compared to its revenue base. Google simply hires incredibly talented thinkers to create outstanding products in an environment that fosters creativity. That's how they get away with spending only 1.1% of revenues on advertising (compared to Yahoo!, which spends more than 20% of revenues on advertising).

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Well, just saying that I wasn't one of the candidates speaking in those terms, will make me look like a right douche-bag. So I will not.

I think the people who talk about outreach in general, are talking about something that will in the long term be quite a big part of our operations and (sadly or gladly) an increasingly significant source of recruitement of new wikipedians. We will progressively lose the growth potential we have for long held among people in general who are internet-savvy.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Well we hold Wiki-Academies in major college towns, possibly in college libraries, we email professors and schools with facts about Wikimedia projects they didn't know, we get chapters to partner with school organizations like WM NYC did with Columbia and NYU at the Wikipedia Takes Manhattan event. Also we partner with institutions, which can use the MediaWiki software for internal research collaboration. Lots of different opportunities exist to get the projects on campuses.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I see this happening in the form of tutorials, workshops, sessions, general advertising, and removing the ideaology that because everyone can edit, that makes it wrong. If we can educate people about how to properly contribute and add to the already immense information we have across all our projects, we can make a huge difference. The Board needs to facilitate such things wherever it can, be it financially, in-person, or helping with the co-ordination of such events.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Primarily, we need to pro-actively send Board and other highly respected representatives to key conferences of educators and administrators. We also need to produce quality material that is usable in school courses; easiest among these would be workbooks in relatively non-controversial subjects such as mathematics and languages. To this end, probably with the help of Wikiversity we could produce a limited number of paper copies for distribution. These could be varied to reflect the curriculum requirements of the relevant jurisdictions.
Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
this is something all community members should address.. There are many current proposals to do this in different fields; and some great practical efforts to engage school classes, libraries, and scientists (among others). These should be given some priority and a public spotlight as we reach milestones and publish new announcements about the projects.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
Within the English speaking world, Wikipedia has an enormous profile. I don't see any particular need to reach schools and colleges there, because Wikipedia is so pervasive that it's most students' first stop for information on almost every topic. I think it would be great to get more classroom projects devoted to improving content on the various projects, but I actually think that this is likely to happen anyway as a new generation of academics, one that is aware of the promise and shortcomings of our projects, takes over. In short, I don't see much need for the involvement of the WMF, although it should keep its eye on any opportunities.

That's in the English speaking world. The same is not true in all other linguistic communities in the world. I think the WMF should work as closely as possible with the chapters, especially those outside of the English speaking world, to raise awareness of Wikimedia projects there. One thing that I think would be useful is for the chapters to put together information packages - probably with Foundation funding - for educational institutions in their part of the world on the use of Wikimedia projects in the classroom. A translation of the Wikipedia Signpost article about the English Wikipedia's two thousandth featured article (here) would be quite illustrative, I think. There could also be more specific information packages for academic programs in the field of translation, suggesting the translation of articles into underrepresented languages as a classroom project.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
I have mentioned the collaboration of the german WikiMedia with a expert club for environmental content. I think this is a model case we should put more attention to. I would name another example of such a collaboration: We know a lot of languages in the world are endangled. If we can collaborate with ethmologists we can have benifit on both sides. On our side we can get gut articles about these languages, and we can even win authors for these languages. For the ethmologists they can get a site to preserve these languages. There are other examples of this. I don't know if we had ever had talk with such institutions. But I would like to test if we can get more such work-togethers.

Promoting Wikipedia II[edit]

How can Wikipedians approach organizations representing Wikipidia, when in most cases they them selves are registered as anonymous users? Nasib Bitar 08:32, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
What about introducing themselves as a Wikipedia editor?
Alex Bakharev
Nasib, I am not sure I fully understand your question. There are many ways to contact WMF: via mail, E-mail, fax, phone. You can ask for help from your local chapter or a WMF staff or OTRS or a member of the WMF board. In most cases WMF does not need to certify your Wikipedia nickname: if you have a brilliant idea or want to help promote our project you have only have to tell them that you are an experienced Wikipedian. If there is a need for WMF to verify that a particular account belongs to you than you can just send an E-mail using the Wikimail feature of the software or just make a requested edit to your userpage, etc. WMF staff, board members and OTRS volunteers are trusted members of the community, they would not out you. I think we should encourage people to edit under their real names but there it is not required for the interactions with WMF.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I'm reading the question to say "How can users approach organizations that represent Wikipedia, when those organizations are composed of anonymous users". Generally, that is not the case. The WMF represents Wikipedia, and it is not comprised of anonymous users. Neither are the regional chapters. There is a "Contact us" link available at www.wikimediafoundation.org that offers other ways to get in touch with the WMF.

If the question was meant to be read as "How can users approach other organizations as representatives of Wikipedia", that depends on what they are looking for. Generally, things like business deals, agreements, etc. all will have to be done through a chapter, or the WMF proper, as they are the only ones able to enter into contracts on behalf of the chapters, or WMF, respectively. However, if the purpose of meeting with these organizations is simply to educate, inform, to introduce yourself, to conduct all sorts of useful things that DON'T require the WMF, simply go and represent yourself as a Wikipedian. Go as a Wikiproject representative. Consider contacting the Communications Committee via Meta, and getting their approval to go as a Communications Committee representative. Get someone from the foundation to help you, give you advice etc. The help is out there, and available, for those willing to seek it.

Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I believe the question is meaning: "How can dutiful Wikimedia volunteers approach outside organizations to 'pitch' what Wikimedia projects have to offer, when their own participation in Wikimedia projects is quite often as an anonymous user name like 'FrogDaisy25' or 'Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi'?"

Personally, I think the "answer" to that question is for the anonymous volunteers to take pride in what they're prepared to do, get together some courage, and use their real name or affiliate with their real name on Wikimedia projects, such as I have done. There's a reason one of the first things you teach a child to write is their own name. Self-esteem and pride and responsibility all derive from taking account of your own work, not hiding in anonymity.

I work for a Fortune 100 company. If 'FrogDaisy25' wanted an appointment to speak with me, I couldn't get 'FrogDaisy25' past the security desk in our building.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
no response yet.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
If your asking about editors contacting the Foundation or chapters, emailuser and the identification board can be used to verify identity. If you are talking about editors approaching outside organizations, you may not need to affiliate your username and real life name publically, if your only goal is to get that organization to use/work with a project. Anything more, like conducting business, would require direct intervention of the Foundation or a chapter (where appropriate), for legal reasons.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I do not understand your question. Are you asking how people can contact the WMF? If so, Alex sums it up quite nicely. If not, please rephrase and I will answer!
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
I don't think that being anonymous is relevant. A lot depends on who you want to approach, and about what. Most representations that individual Wikipedians will make will necessarily be unofficial; for it to be otherwise would carry a serious potential for liability. If you have a connection with a particular type of organization, and can see how Wikipedia can help them to achieve their goals you need to work to point out to them how that can happen.
Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Be bold!
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I have to echo others' lack of understanding of this question, and unfortunately I have nothing useful to add at this point.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
If I understand you correctly, I think organising local chapter is the right way to go. And perhaps attend WikiMania. You can also tark part in the discussion of the foundation mailing list. And I believe in most cases you can also contact the board members directly through their talk page in Meta.

American politics and wikipedia[edit]

Perhaps the most troublesome area of wikipedia is the American political articles. What are your thoughts on their current quality, do issues of bias, both amongst users and administrators, give you concern, and what are your ideas for improving the standard of pertinent political articles? 67.165.44.16 22:09, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Definitely a project level issue, not a Foundation/Board/Office issue, except that Foundation/Board/Office will maintain that our projects are and will be written with a Neutral Point of View (NPOV).
Alex Bakharev
I agree that it is not an easy area and I predict it will be quite hot when approaching the polling date on American presidential elections. In most of the cases the consensus way of building the articles works in that area though it sometimes require a lot of human efforts. Some users, especially those on both sides who have extreme views feel that we are biased, some admins may overstep their rights, but overall the results are reasonable. We have many people from all the political positions monitoring important articles, most people agree on the NPOV goal and there is some consensus what constitutes reliable sources (e.g. that New York Times and Washington Post are more reliable than New York Post and Washington Times and they in turn much more reliable than salon.com and frontpage.com. It is much better than e.g. the situation around the Armanian-Azerbaijan conflict, there most of the sources come from either the Armenian or Azeri side and paint completely different picture; a few people who have knowledge feel like to kill for the right to tell their side of the story and the rest of the editors neither have the knowledge nor interest with the subject.

Most of the burden of American politics conflict is carried by the projects particular En-Wikipedia and presumably En-Wikinews. WMF could help with the establishing of some Expert Committee (arbcoms for content disputes) there we could set the final stop in a few obnoxious chronic editorial conflicts like whether 9-11 Control Demolition theory is mainstream or marginal, etc. I think the flagged revisions could help alleviate editorial conflicts and planted hoaxes. Still the most burden is up to projects.

WMF should be neutral in the politics and keep the decorum. Particularly we should reject large donations from the political parties and other organizations that may be seen as the conflict of interests in the area

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
There is always going to be issues with topics users feel very strongly about. You are never going to make everyone happy, but the community generally works out the issue and a better article results. The board and the foundation should avoid getting involved in these issues. The community should be allowed to work out the problems on its own without interference.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I disagree, the American politics articles are nothing compared to the articles on the correct names and histories of Balkan states, the Turkey-Armenian-Azerbaijan histories, culture and language articles, China - Taiwan naming conventions, etc. In a strange turn of events, the debates edit wars have the effect of increasing, albeit slowly, the quality of those articles, by ensuring that the sources used are bipartisan and highly accepted. Over the long run, that's what happens. In the short term, they are cesspits. Those articles will always exist and the way to deal with them is active and knowledgeable administrators, who are able to intervene and take action when needed, i.e., something the projects, not the board needs to handle.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I organized a small team of amateur researchers to evaluate three months' worth of edits on the 100 English Wikipedia articles about the current United States senators. The results have not been released yet, but I have access to the near-final data file. Not surprisingly, most defamatory edits about these senators come from anonymous IP users. The falsehoods range from silly to horrifying.
  • Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, according to about 7 days of permanence in Wikipedia (and more than 4,000 estimated page views), "attended Redondo Union High School, participating in kinky sex adventures." For the last 2 days of that edit's span, the sex adventures were (according to Wikipedia, again, don't take my word for it) "with donkeys".
  • Senator John McCain (you may have heard of him) was, according to Wikipedia for three straight days, born in Florida. It's estimated that the article was loaded 90,000 times during that span.
  • Even though Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln has been married exclusively to Dr. Steve Lincoln, according to Wikipedia (for 5 weeks last year) her husband was named "Spencer Bingham".
  • Regarding Senator Bob Menendez's divorce, did you know "the main reason for the divorce was his infidelity"? That was our encyclopedic version of truth for more than 5 days and an estimated 700 page views.

Is the English Wikipedia community so fixated on the "anyone can edit" and the "sofixit" mantras, that such defamation is tolerable and expected in an encyclopedia setting? Imagine the reduction in drive-by defamatory vandalism if only the anonymous IPs were removed from the mix. Personally, I'm tired of the Wikimedia projects being used as enormous, unenforceable revenge platforms (I have done it myself!), and I'm disgusted that the Board and Staff have tolerated it for so long with this "it's not our problem" attitude -- out of fear of losing Section 230 protection. Folks, I am here to tell you there are duties of care to the principles of human decency and professional ethics which transcend Section 230.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Surprising as it may appear to some, I actually think you have glanced on a very important point. While no real problem will ever exist with regards to american political articles, nor will the board allow such to occur, (because of the sad angle of being incorporated in Florida - which tends to often reside in the United States of America; the Conch State notwithstanding), it is legitimate to enquire the quite complementary question of how to deal with the problem of board inaction in cases where its incorporation domain is not so closely at risk. I will not say nor huzzah... well, not so as I could be pinned down....
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I actually feel that American politics, due to the large amount of media and academic coverage, are one of Wikipedia's less problematic areas. Finding an executive order Bill Clinton wrote to cite in an article is quite easy compared to a proclamation by a Central Asian leader. Further, there is much more commentary, especially neutral commentary on American politics, due to the establish academic networks than in many other places of the world and topic areas. As already mentioned though, the Foundation should not involve itself in everyday good faith content matters. So I would encourage the projects to develop details reliable sources standards, engage in thoughtful debate, and establish methods of ascertaining consensus as to NPOV versions, in order to improve the coverage.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
no response yet.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
I don't think that American political articles are in any worse shape than any others involving controversial material. Having so many people involved in them guarantees that there are enough eyes available to keep them on the path to NPOV. In microcosm we have had to cope with practically every major dispute in the world today, and we are holding up remarkably well in this task. There are still excesses which each project must work through, but each project needs to evolve at its own pace rather than having the Board impose any kind of official POV on any political issue.
Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
This really isn't something for Trustees to address.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I would disagree fairly strenuously with the notion that American political articles are the most troublesome area of Wikipedia. As somebody who spends most of his time on Canadian political subjects (but who has a lot of American political articles watchlisted and who has done some Good Article reviewing of articles on American politics), I see just as much trouble in Canadian political articles - conflict at the en:Jim Prentice article, for example, recently got quite a bit of media play in Canada. But conflict in both of these areas pale in comparison to the conflict you get in other subjects, such as ethnic politics in the Balkans, or pseudoscientific topics. When you get right down to it, some people can fight tooth and nail about almost every topic under the sun.

For the most part, I think existing conflict resolution methods work fairly well, with articles improving over time and most problems eventually being resolved (this is true even in biographies of living persons; the trouble with those is that improving over time and eventual resolution often isn't good enough, given the real life consequences to the subjects). Ultimately, enforcement of all policy is going to come down to the community's willingness to enforce it, and the best thing the Board can do is ensure that the communities are empowered to do the enforcing.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
In almost every language version I know there are conflicts about actual topics, not only in politics. I don't consider this as a problem. Because the topic is comtemplate or was very near in the past, even academic historic studies take a very controvertial dispute about the events and their evaluation. I think most Wikipedia articles about contemplate events are quite neutral. Most of them state the major controvertial opinions. Disputes are normal and is even normal among academics. And if there are serious conflict I think we have until now quite good mechanisms to control or even solve these conflicts. I don't see a shortcoming here. I believe compare with most other websites Wikipedia is a very good resource even for future study of these events.

About wikibooks[edit]

Hi, i'm a french Wikibookian and i will ask you some questions only about this project.

  1. Many people think Wikimedia is only Wikipedia. How do you think you can make Wikibooks more visible ?
  2. What could you do to encourage teachers (especially those in universities i.e. PhD) to give the content they have written for their classes to Wikibooks ?
  3. In a upcoming future, when Wikibooks project will supply good and verified textbooks, do you think Wikimedia Foundation should organize the sale of printed copies ? If so, Do you think that Wikimedia Foundation should make profits to help the projects ?
  4. Would you agree to modify the roadmap of the mediawiki software to consider the needs (new features, new extensions) of projects such as wikibooks and not only wikipedias.
  5. In general, how do you think you can help Wikibooks ?

Thank you.

Sub 17:54, 17 June 2008 (UTC) French admin and author on fr.wikibooks

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
  1. As with the other questions about sister projects - it is primarily a project community issue. What you can do with your fellow Wikibookians is to collaboratively write a factual success story to date about Wikibooks, the story you and your fellow Wikibookians to tell everyone. Of course, you, or any other Wikibookian can tell tell tell that story, once written. The Board and Board members can relay that story.
  2. What I can do is tell you that you are free to contact teachers yourself. Some cooperation with Wikiversity in this area can be called for as well.
  3. Could, not should.
  4. Please do start with your fellow Wikibookians to specify any Wikibooks specific modification to mediawiki that could be necessary prior to asking for blank support to the very general mediawiki software. Try a bug report, for example.
  5. I will help Wikibooks in the same way as all other projects by caring for long term financial sustainability of the Foundation to keep the servers running. And yes, I will support the 'broad cast' of any project specific success story by any media channel available specifically to further the mission and goals of the Foundation in general.
Alex Bakharev
  1. The best source of ideas are the people working for the Wikibook project itself. Do not expect WMF to make some miracles, we are not good in miracle-making yet. Obviously we should promote all our lesser known projects when we deal with real life people. WMF can take leadership if there is a dispute on the project and no consensus is visible either way or if money involved, etc. WMF could promote the inter-project coordination so to get some synergy from our commitment to different projects. E.g. we have b:Control Systems as a feature book in wikibooks. Presumably it is a good reference material. Would it be nice to have visible links to it in all related wikipedia articles. Alternatively can we use text of good wikipedia articles to get faster development of wikibooks? I think we will see an explosion in the development of Wikiversity and Wikibook development when it get some critical mass of development and started to get some real life impact as Wikipedia does now.
  2. I think when the project would start to have the real life impact we will have more people for Universities. I think we should make much more stronger presence in the academic and education word including not only Wikipedia but the other projects aw well. We must fight to make the work of our people to be more recognizable in those worlds. Particular the authorship of books, wikicourses, good articles, management of the projects, etc. should be a positive resume-level point not something shameful. One of the way to encourage it would be to have the main contributors names on the cover a book or a chapter. It might be a good encouragement for the authors.
  3. I think that as a general rule WMF is not the best organization to organize book sales. Our staff have no experience with book sales nor with the subject area of most wikibooks. We could spend a lot of money without progress towards our goal. Thus, I think in the most cases some spin-off companies are better equipped to organize book sales. Still WMF might want to involve itself in a book preparation if we are very interested in the book being published, e.g. we could promote a book about Wikipedia itself (history, using as a source, editing) or e.g. about using the WikiMedia software. We also could be involved into printing of a few first books, just to help to pass this milestone of the project development. Obviously, if we happen to make some income on the sale of those books the money should be returned to foundation.
  4. Obviously the software development should include the needs of all the projects, not only Wikipedia. We also should remember that as most of our development is done by volunteers any roadmap is not an order but just a recommendation.
  5. As I said Wikipedia is a toddler and all other WMF projects are infants. I expect a significant real-life impact and an explosive growth of wikibooks and wikiversity once they reach some critical mass.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
  1. The same way I suggested I would do so for Wikiversity, it applies to every smaller project.
  2. Same answer as #1.
  3. Consistent with my philosophy on engaging in services other than providing the encyclopedia, I believe we should do so when we can do it at a net benefit to the project, at no detriment to our mission or our contributors, and when we can do so in a way that substantively helps people. Any revenue we make (and we certainly SHOULD make revenue, though we don't need to be pricing ourselves at outrageous margins like many publishers do) from sales of Wikibooks should go towards an endowment for Wikimedia Foundation projects; this has certain considerations with our non-profit status, particularly UBIT, which we ought to avoid paying. Therefore, any decision on that topic would certainly need to be run by our legal department, as well as our treasurer on the board, and possibly tax experts if needed.
  4. MediaWiki does not need our agreement to be modified. Whether or not specific features are implemented on certain projects has typically been left as a project decision; see for instance Flagged Revisions. Since I am running as a community representative, not a developer, I would need to consult the community, as well as our developers, board members with technical experience (such as Domas) and staff members specifically in that field (Brion, Erik, etc).
  5. Wikibooks needs the same help that smaller projects all need: visibility. I've addressed this substantially in my answer to the question on Wikiversity.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
At this moment, on the front page of the English Wikibooks, the top "Featured Book" is the United States History Wikibook. I opened it to the chapter on the Great Depression and New Deal. The very first two sentences read as follows:

The US stock market crashed (sic) occured (sic) in October of 1929. The value of commen (sic) stock and shares were cut by 40%, resulting in a global depression.

How did that pass upward to "Featured Book" status?

The chapter on World War II and Rise of Atomic Age begins with... "Protocols of Zion". That is the foundation upon which the chapter is built? Wow. It gets worse. This chapter of UNITED STATES history includes multi-paragraph sections about Henning von Tresckow and Karl Dönitz, but no mention whatsoever of the Flying Tigers, the Doolittle raid, Aleutian Islands campaign, Rosie the Riveter, the Tuskegee Airmen, George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, or rationing of consumer materials on the American homefront.

Am I the only one who finds this appalling? I would not want my daughter learning about the most significant events in American history this way.

So, you asked, and I shall respond:

The Foundation must institute a global, top-level mission and foster a culture that promotes accuracy, excellence, and ethics in online media. Is the above passage from a "featured" Wikibook accurate? Is it excellent? Is it ethical to encourage teachers (especially university PhD's) to contribute the fruits of their years of labor to a project that has not put accuracy and excellence at the very top of its priority set? In fact, do we want to ask for their contributions when the founder of the Wikimedia Foundation says that he is "anti-credentialist" and has been quoted as saying, "if a person's really smart, and they're doing fantastic work, I don't care if they're a high-school kid or a Harvard professor"?

Sorry, but most university professors chafe at a cultural attitude such as that; and guess what, they will point to the first two lines of the Wikibook text about the Great Depression as completely damning evidence why their advanced labors and wealth of intellectual experience would be wasted here.

I can best assist Wikibooks by smashing the cycle of expert exclusion and encouraging a higher bar of excellence on all Wikimedia projects. I repeat, I strongly suggest that the Foundation concentrate on returning to a mission of achieving a respectable level of accuracy, excellence, and ethics in online media before it even thinks of polluting offline media with such unpolished content as I found in the United States History Wikibook.

(Note: There is a follow-up discussion about this on a Wikibooks blog. I have also registered at English Wikibooks and have attempted to make initial improvements to the WWII chapter mentioned above.)

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I will deftly sidestep the pointed question of what I would do for a particular project to advance it. I would like to think I would do the same if it was about wikipedia or even just simply the english language version of wikipedia too; so not sidestepping it for wikibooks would not be cool in my book. Our intent as trustees is never to play favorites.

However, different projects have different needs and that variety in itself has to be addressed in some way, not swept under the carpet. Personally, I would probably listen, and learn; and respond responsibly and reasonably. To me, on the face of it, what Wikibooks most needs is more work by its contributors, and that is something that is quite unlikely to come from the direction of the Board of Trustees.

There is a great temptation here to give my personal opinion on many of the specific project policies wikibooks has instituted, but I will wisely not broach on that subject, as I have done the same about wikipedia matters too. (I hope, atleast, that I haven't broached project policy in any of my answers).

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Well first I would ask that our next tax return be updated to include all of our projects as the primary activities of the WMF, and not just Wikipedia. This fits with my view that we are not just a single project organization, and should give equal coverage to all our projects. I think we could create more user friendly interfaces to aid professors seeking to upload their material (frequently written in Word documents), to the mediawiki software, and I would support Buzilla requests to that end. I would also support the development of user created extensions of the Mediawiki software tailored to large book-like documents. This would of course be weighted against our total developer resources and placed in a long-term planning roadmap to ensure it is done, in proportion to its importance to the entire Mediawiki universe.

As to the second part of publishing materials, WMF is a service provider, to maintain our liability shield, we can't enter the publishing field. I would support agreements with other organizations though to give them easy to print copies of Wikibooks for further dissemination. As to the issue of sales, I personally am against the WMF selling the content created by its users, since its purpose is to spread free content, I would work to exhaust other sources of funding before I would consider turning to selling the content. So in short, I think we can support Wikibooks better, we can give it a higher profile by making it easier for the people writing the books to use it.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
no response yet.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Wikibooks, like all the other sister projects, needs to determine its own mission. I have always viewed it as a place that could consider a topic with greater depth and continuity than could ever be attained in a series of disconnected Wikipedia articles. Each sister project exists because it deviated in some way from the Pillar that says "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia." Yet all these sister projects provide vital information for building a corpus of free information.

Making Wikibooks more visible is, strangely enough, primarily the responsibility of its own participants. They are the ones who know the contents of Wikibooks, not the average Wikipedian who barely knows that Wikibooks exists. Wikisource already carries many full length texts, but it is not up to Wikisourcerors to speculate about which ones have been chosen for literary studies on Wikibooks. Go to the Wikisource text and add a link when it exists.

I don't see what having teachers give up their class notes will do that good collaborative editing won't. We absolutely would like for these teachers to participate, but what does that have to do with giving up their personal notes. As we climb the ladder of education class sizes become smaller because interests become more divergent. I think we would do better to aim a little lower on the educational ladder than universities. Do we yet have a range of appropriate textbooks for highschool students?

I support the idea of publishing good textbooks. Whether this should be done by Wikimedia itself is an open question. Before undertaking such a venture I would need to see some cost/benefit analyses to make sure that publishing textbooks will not be a bottomless financial drain. For now there is nothing to prevent any individual from publishing such a book as long as he sticks to the requirements of GFDL.

I am not a technical person, so I haven't got a clue about what Wikibooks needs in this regard. I can only answer in vague generalities that specialized software modules should be made available for Wikibooks as much as for the other projects. How easily you get them may very much depend on having at least one Wikibookie with a strong appreciation of how the software works, and how complex the writing of that module.

To be able to help Wikibooks, I need to know what Wikibooks wants. Beyond that I can only offer platitudes. One idea worth considering would be to be more focused in the allocation of scholarships to Wikimania. In a given year emphasis could be placed on participation in Wikibooks. The schedule could be drafted with a view to allowing more collaboration both public and private around that year's featured project.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
The most prominent projects can more actively direct traffic and attention to smaller ones; however this is not something the Trustees need to guide, but rather a discussion for community bodies to address.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
  1. The best thing to make non-Wikipedia projects more visible to users is the liberal use of interwiki links, especially on Wikipedia. Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wiktionary, and Wikisource do this quite well, currently (on the English projects, at least), but I'm not sure if I've ever seen a Wikibooks interwiki link on the English Wikipedia.
  2. The first thing we can do is make them aware of the opportunity, which is one place I see a role for chapters. I suspect most academics wouldn't be thrilled with the opportunity, since they're essentially professional generators of content, and giving away their content for free doesn't fit with their business model (and if it's being published, there are likely legal issues surrounding their agreements with their publishers), and most probably also wouldn't be thrilled about putting their carefully-developed content at the mercy of anonymous and faceless editors, but it can't hurt to ask. Such requests should also stress the important distinctions between a free license and the public domain.
  3. As I've said elsewhere, I'm opposed to the WMF devoting financial resources to the non-electronic publication of project content.
  4. Software development should take into account the needs of all projects. If elected, I would start and monitor user pages on all English, French, and German projects (I don't actually speak German, but my partner is a native speaker), such pages being used largely to discuss those projects' needs from the WMF - including technical needs.
  5. If elected, the best thing I could do for Wikibooks is listen to what the editors there say they need from the Foundation to grow. Perhaps this would include working Wikibooks and other non-Wikipedia projects more extensively into the WMF's PR efforts. Perhaps it would be starting to edit Wikibooks slightly actively myself, so I could get a feel for the community's needs. At this point, I'd need to hear more feedback.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
  1. Yes you are right. Many people only know Wikipedia, but don't know the other WikiMedia projects. Last year on PicNic in Amsterdam I attended a panel and asked the attendents if anyone know WikiBooks or Wiktionary, of the about 50 attendents no one knew it. I think the board and the foundation should make more publicity about these projects. Make more press releases. Also the projects can make more efforts themselves. Make more inter project links, go to conferences and tell about your projects.
  2. This is a very good point. I didn't see this before. Surely there are good school teachers with their own scripts. Perhapst we should really intensify and search contacts to schools, not only research institutions. So one addition to my election agenda: beside research institutions also schools.
  3. At the moment I think we should concentrate ourself on our online content. As I stated in other question, I would rather prefer to give the print media thing to organisations with which we collaborate. To my understanding testbooks are mostly not profitable. In most cases the government finance part of the testbooks. So I don't know if we really can use WikiBook to make money. And to my understanding our goal is to provide and promote free content, and not to be profitable.
  4. Yes, if there are features that are important for WikiBooks, you should put them together and through them to the developper community. MediaWiki should also work on features that is desired by smaller projects. Yes, definitively.
  5. Promote the project. As I mentioned above. Tell people, WikiMedia-projects are not only Wikipedia. And if necessary and possible, make contacts with schools.

Re: Promoting Wikipedia II[edit]

Gregory Kohs (Thekohser) Actually pinpointed the meaning of my question. All of you live in countries were Wikipedia is understood and some how is easier to accept nicknames. I am a 55 years old professional and media expert with 32 years experience in Middle Eastern television with a long list of contacts. Since I also believe in transparency I joined the Arabic Wikimedia with my real name last August 22, 2007. I thought I will make a difference some how.
Two months later, I was suddenly severely attacked by unknown individuals using open IPs. I was called with the most obscene names. They dug up information about my family and started calling them with all sorts of obscenities.
I stood my ground for about two months, but I had to change my name to an anonymous nick name, a handicap that did not stop me writing, but It certainly weekend my position dramatically in the PR area.
Since I started I have made 17,000 edits so far, and uploaded more than 150+ Images to Commons. I believe in Wikipedia, but how can Wikipedia protect us to benefit from what we can offer?
I apologize for this lengthy explanation and question. Best Regards and Good luck! Nasib Bitar 21:46, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
no response yet.
Alex Bakharev
Many media people are working under pen-names. I do not believe any media related corporation that would forbid entry to say, w:Rowan Atkinson just because w:Mr. Bean is a weird pseudonym. Still I am for encouragement of working under the real names (or making the real identity known). It is important for the credibility and safety of our project. I think the real identity of Stewards, Arbcom Members, Checkusers and Oversighters should be known. We must be prepared to protect our editors in the case of harassment and threats. I, personally, work under my real life name. Once I received death threats from a guy apparently involved in a University 30 minutes drive from my home. It was a small scare but usually the threats over Internet are not that credible, it was not credible that time, anyway. The guy also made a quite a pathetic attempt to mail bomb me. And it was the only problem I have in more than two years despite working under my real name.

Some people get much worse experience. Still I think if we protect our people, if we help to legally persecute the stalkers and harassers, if our IT geniuses would counter hacker threats even if somebody would help to alleviate the physical treats we would be better equipped to deal with the issues.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I know only too well what you have had to deal with. I've experienced (several times) the harassment of having internet stalkers using Wikipedia to attempt to intimidate me. I've brought the question of "how can we protect our editors from those who would wish to harm them" before various parties within Wikimedia, and had lackluster responses. It's a personal goal of mine to conduct a thorough review of what Wikimedia, as an entity, can do to protect its editors from external harassment. It may be that we are more forthcoming with law enforcement and ISPs, that we consider contacting the harassers and demanding they stop, many different things. We won't know what our options are until we sit down and take a hard look at what we are doing wrong, and how we can fix it. And the first step is acknowledging that this is a problem that crosses many different projects in many different languages, and has affected many good contributors. We are hurt every time someone is driven from the project because of harassment and stalking. If it is within our power to stop it, and we can do so in an ethical and responsible way, we should do so.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I hope that I garner a higher vote ranking from Nasib Bitar for having correctly interpreted his question!

Once again, we see someone using their real identity on a Wikimedia project (something I applaud) subjected to "sudden" and "severe" attacks by "unknown individuals using open IPs". Why does the Wikimedia Foundation insist on providing this attractive nuisance forum for anonymous malcontents? As I suggested above, tally all of the threats of physical violence ever entered into Wikimedia properties. Now, how many came from unregistered IP addresses? How many came from pseudonymous account names? And how many came from account names that trace easily to a real-world person's name? My guess would be 80%, 19%, and 1%, respectively. Why is it so important for so many Wikimedia loyalists to maintain the "right" of unregistered IP addresses to edit freely on Wikimedia sites? Once again, many blemishes on Wikipedia's record could be halted with a fairly simple patch on the user log-in protocols, but nobody's willing to make the simplest of decisions, or to even experiment with options for a few months. Will Nasib Bitar and others reading this begin to realize the logic of my Board candidacy? Where possible, I don't trifle with the recurring symptoms of a flawed premise -- I try to overhaul the flawed premise.

Open IP participation in these Wikimedia projects was meant to facilitate the quick and unencumbered genesis of new content. Isn't it about time we graduate to "Phase II" and start showing some respect for the good content and the good editors?

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I ask you in earnest to forgive me for not responding squarely to your own personal situation, which on a personal level, I am sure all of us candidates feel is horrific and not to be borne.

But to refute the point you seem to be trying to make - no doubt from a genuine anguish brought upon from your personal situation - about the general way wikipedia approaches pseudonymity...

I have a real hard time believeing that people in the middle-east are all that naive about pseudonymity and nicknames. After all, what are "Averroes", "Avicenna" and a long list of arabic and jewish literati of antiquity other than pseudonyms...?

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
This is an issue of considerable importance. Over at Wikipedia where I coach users who want to become administrators, I always include a lesson as to the real life examples of harassment that Wikipedians face for their activities. Your story is another case of this. I think we can address this through a more assertive policy of blocking open proxies and tor nodes, as well as more quickly banning editors who harass other users. At a Foundation level, complying readily with judicial requests for private data and encouraging users to report harassment to the proper authorities should also aid the issue. Finally, warning individuals at registration, as to the dangers of using a real life name may also help the problem. Possibly a better renaming system would permit users to change their name to something more private, without the old connection remaining. I find it despicable that there are people in the world who would seek to harass and harm those seeking to generate free knowledge and will assist in any reasonable means possible to stopping them from using the WMF's projects to further their harassment.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
no response yet.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
I approach this question as the only candidate older than you, and commend you for your resistance to the intimidation attempts of cowards. One of the skills that comes with age is the ability to realistically evaluate such threats without reacting out of knee-jerk panic. If you are going to Wikimania, I look forward to meeting you there.

As unfortunate as your experience may have been, and given its time scale, I don't read your questions as so much relating to what we do about the bad guys. Rather it is with how your enforced anonymity affects your credibility.

In many societies one's word is one's reputation, and as such is the foundation for the reputation of any work that one produces. In the Wikimedia projects many of us have even built such reputations around our pseudonyms. The collectivization of knowledge through NPOV and free access turns this notion on its head. More and more, it is the knowledge itself that counts, and not the reputation of its contributors. This is just one corner of the paradigm shift that is being induced by modern communications; few of us have yet grasped the breadth of its implications.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
In this case, publicizing the potential misuse of RealNames is the safest approach. This sort of guidance is something that the projects as a whole can provide as we develop a unified login framework.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I believe that the WMF should continue to allow anonymous editing, but I frankly don't believe that it's the WMF's duty to actively protect editor anonymity. On Wikipedia, as with other sites (web forums, blogs, etc.), it's the duty of the user to manage her/his own internet footprint. I would say that, as a rule, people who go around trying to out Wikipedia editors, for whatever motivation, are unpleasant people, but I view the "right to anonymity" as more of an absence of a requirement for identity disclosure than as a true right that the Foundation has an obligation to protect. I have always edited openly, and have as a result been harassed off-wiki by one user; I filed an abuse report with his ISP and got his account suspended. I realize that this is fairly mild compared to what you and others have gone through; my point is just that this sort of thing can be dealt with off-wiki by existing authorities, even in relatively mild cases like mine. I have no trouble with treating attempts to out editors on-wiki as being bannable behaviour, but I don't see the need for much beyond that.

Also, it's my view that if you edit anonymously, you have no business editing or otherwise affecting articles about living people who don't wish to be covered by WMF projects.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
Hello Nasib, I am very sorry to read your experience. I only know two cases previous of yours that is comparable in its severity. If it is possible for you in your country, it is free to you to go to police. The police should be able to track down the person who insulted you and your family so personally according to the IP. If the person is using a log in name, in such cases it is also valid to ask for check user from the foundation to get the IP. In some situation it is better for you to edit using a user name that is not your real name. It depends always on the situation of your country and your own safety assessment. This is a valid reason and I have full understanding for it. I wish you and your family all well, and thank you for your works on WikiMedia projects.

Wikiquote and fair use[edit]

Wikiquote is unique among Wikimedia projects in that much of its recent source material (for example, most 20th- and 21st-century fiction) can only be made available at all under fair-use provisions. On the one hand, there are many publications (like the Oxford quotation dictionaries) that successfully provide considerable compendiums filled with fair-use quotations. On the other hand, with no physical size limitation, Wikiquotians like to expand articles in ways that can't help but violate copyright, and often do so far faster than copyright-conscious editors can trim them. What are your thoughts on how to handle Wikiquote and its use of copyrighted material? ~ Jeff Q (talk) 06:10, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Stay within the law, and respect copyright, and please remember also the fr.wikiquote case.
Alex Bakharev
I think a short quote ( say a less than 1K in length) is an unquestionable fair use. I think longer quotes should not be in the wikiquote at all. The limitation on the length can be enforced by a bot. There are special cases (one line verses, etc.) but they are rare. If needed an advise from a copyright lawyer could by arranged by WMF
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
There is no easy way, such as a length, by which we can determine if a quote can be considered fair use. Wikiquote editors should try to keep quotes minimal and to the point. We need to make sure we are not reproducing excessively long quotes that are too long to have any meaning or are infringing. A bot could possibly flag long quotes for review, but humans are best at determining if it could be fair use. Flagged revisions may be helpful to prevent the copyright violations from getting ahead of the “copyright-conscious editors.” The best solution though would be to try and educate users about fair use, so as to create more copyright-conscious editors.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
When selecting our admins, we should select them based on good judgment. They should be able to look at a quote and tell if it will likely be infringing or not. And even if it is not infringing, we should be trusting the Wikiquote community to know whether they want to accept longer quotes or not. The precise ceiling on the length of quotes on Wikiquote is not something the Board needs to be determining.

That said, this is an issue that has received some discussion outside Wikimedia, due to the Associated Press recent policy of sending takedown notices to websites using even small portions of their quotes. The situation highlights the dilemma clearly: Some websites are lifting quotes from AP articles that are essentially entire stories, hundreds of words, which is a strong case for infringement. The AP should be able to protect their rights in that case. At the same time, however, the AP is also sending takedowns to websites using quotes just a few words long, and other ridiculous situations (such as when the majority of a quote's content is a subquote from a public speaking engagement that is readily available elsewhere). Clearly that's overzealous; traditional fair use clearly applies there. But there is a valid argument there: too long a quote is unacceptable and should be taken down, and short quotes can and should be protected.

Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
This does not appear to be a Board of Trustees matter. The Board is asked to craft long-term vision and strategy. Questions such as this one, while intriguing and probably quite complicated, are for legal counsel staff with $182,000 annual budgets, and for the project community itself to iron out successfully.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
This question (like many) and answers (like many) are noticably english language centric. I would remind people that the French Wikiquote was decided to be so far in breach of french (not fair-use) rights of citation limits, that it was considered prudent to temporarily put the whole project on hiatus, and restart it later, fresh.

That said, many of the answers are spot on that the foundations remit in this instance is to look at the big picture, perhaps considering the larger question of how to as a general case accommodate local and international legislation within our contributor culture in a manner that is neither paranoid, nor blatantly in breach unnecessarily.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
This is a community issue that I am confident the Wikquote community can solve. It needs to weigh the need for certain quotes or certain lengths, against the intellectual property rights of the holders. I'd say some fair medium exists that permits Wikiquote to use material up to a certain size, while protecting the rights of the copyright holders. What that limit is, I am not sure, and would defer to the community's judgment. Ideally the Quote community will grow to have enough wise admins capable of handing the matter, or develop standards that can be bot-enforced.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
no response yet.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
This simply comes down to the ability of the Wikiquote admins to use common sense. There is no magic formula for determining, on the basis of length alone, whether a quoted passage is fair use or infringement. The proportion of the material used is only one of the four factors that goes into determining fair use.

The other problem to keep in mind with excessively long quotes is that they lose their impact and utility. A user who wants a quote for an after-dinner speech isn't going to be looking for a long passage that will put the dinner guests to sleep. This applies just as well to quotations from the public domain. In most cases this limit will be reached long before fair use needs to be analyzed.

Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
This should be handled with care, by individual projects; this is something all community members should address..
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I agree with Alex and Ting. I'm not sure at exactly what length a quote is unquestionably too long for fair use, but such a point must exist, and a bot should be able to detect that. Moreover, I notice that the relevant mediawiki interface doesn't include any note about this, only the (in this case) quite misleading "DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!" You could probably cut down on copyvios by some fraction by including a notice that "quotes longer than X are extremely unlikely to be usable under fair use", or something to that effect.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
If I understand you right, the problem is not a lack of policy, but a lack of capacity to check all the copyvios. In this case I would suggest you use a bot. A bot is relative primitive. We use bot in zh-wp to mark untranslated or substub articles, or to mark images without license information or source. You can also devise a bot to check the length of the citations and give a warning if a citation is too long, or otherwise looks suspect. At the end it must be a human that come and see if the citation really fills copyvio, but the bot can reduce your work.

Article quality incentives/awards[edit]

Alex Bakharev has stated that to improve article quality an idea might be to "award prizes and celebrate achievements of individual editors" and I would be a strong advocate of that. Would you agree with that? If not, why? If so, in what form would you envisage this happening? 90.207.182.246 14:34, 20 June 2008 (UTC) Donek

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Definitely a question worth a barn star.
Alex Bakharev
I was thinking of two ways to make to distribute such awards. One will be annual WMF or say Jimbo Wales Awards. Say 3 Awards per annum, to the Best Editor, to the Best Developer and to the Best Supporting Volunteer (including Admins, OTRS, Wikignoming, etc.) . All the projects are encouraged to submit their nominations but the final decision is up to WMF or Jimbo Wales. The award would include a moderate monetary sum (say 2..10K we can afford, maybe more in the future), reimbursing of the traveling costs and a medal. The presenting ceremony can be held on Wikimania or as a separate event. We should ensure as much media attention to the event as we can get. It would be a good way to promote our goals and the foundation as well as our people. I guess receiving such an award might be a good time to disclose somebody's real name but if people want to have anonymity we can arrange black masks, etc - it would look cool on yourtube.

Another thing might be to encourage sponsors to have their own awards (or to top up ours). Suppose Boeing distributing awards for the best articles in Aerodynamics and Aeronautics. Or Google giving awards on the best Feature Article, etc. Or Cannon for the best wiki-photograph. Presenting such awards can be combined with the presentation of our own awards or made separately. I would think it might be a good way to approach people for sponsorship deals as well as to improve awareness of the Real World about our activities.

Among the good things there are possible dangers. One of them is that it increases the amount of drama. It would not be good if we present somebody with the Best Editor award and at the same time the Editors #2, #3 and #4 are leaving the project in disgust as they were expecting the award. I think if we conscious about it we can prevent the drama. We could explain people that they might get the award next time, that this is not sports there the winners take all, etc.

Another danger is that the awards from the sponsors might be used to push some particular POV. Say if Azeri (or Armenian) government would award prizes for the best articles on the Azeri-Armenian war it might promote bias towards a particular POV. Maybe we could require a veto power on such controversial awards.

Still I think the benefits outweigh the possible drawbacks.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
no response yet.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
We have barnstars and article bounties already. With regards to the foundation itself doing the rewarding, we need to be careful it does not qualify us as a publisher with regard to our 230 immunity; there may also be taxation issues to consider. However, I'm not against the principle of rewarding editors if it has the end benefit of improving our article quality. Whether rewards actually DO that is as of yet unknown. I should add that I am opposed to the concept of various corporations sponsoring articles within their areas of expertise as it presents a conflict of interest and the perception of non-neutrality. I am not comfortable with Toyota sponsoring articles on trucks; even if it were in fact neutral it is bad PR and presents a perceived conflict of interest. It would seriously harm our reputations.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Earlier, I made a possible suggestion for a vision of Wikimedia projects where reader-optional advertising revenue could go toward an editors' grant or fellowship program ($10,000 per editor per year) paid to the 100 editors who have done the most productive work in building their project, as voted on by the community. One vote per household, based on a credit card authorization process (perhaps a $1 charge on the card to authenticate one's address and prevent vote-stacking). With a $1 million-per-year team of outstanding editors working on content (especially on pages that weren't constantly being disrupted by anonymous IP vandals, which is another vision of mine), I believe article quality would reach unprecedented levels of accuracy and excellence.

The real question is, "Is the Foundation, the Staff, and the community prepared to place accuracy and excellence at the top of their priority list? Or, are the tenets of open to IP editors and no advertising, ever and this is my personal power and revenge platform, don't you dare change it more important to voters?"

Harel Cain
(Harel)
no response yet.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Heh, no, I would not be a strong advocate of that. I wouldn't even go so far as agree with it. I can understand why the suggestion was made, and it bears no ill reflection on the maker of it. I personally have received some good vibes/jollies/kudos from contributions I have made in the past, but in general, these things have a strong tendency to go astray, either through being a smear on the contributions themselves not being there but for the sake of gaining the prize, or through just in general poisoning the atmosphere of our site being one where benevolent ( see, Jimbo, I can too spell that word ) contributions without ulteriour motives are what drives improvement in the long term...
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
no response yet.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
no response yet.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
no response yet.
Ryan Postlethwaite
no response yet.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
This is an important issue, but not one for Trustees to address.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
no response yet.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I remember taking part of a session on the first WikiMania in Frankfurt about incentives. So this is a topic with a long history. I myself have a Barn Star Free Zone on my user page. Personnally I would refuse any incentives because I don't come and edit Wikipedia or work for WikiMedia to get reputation or incentives, that is not my goal. To be honost, I doubt such mechanisms will really work. I doubt that one can get reputation and social respect outside of the community in writing good articles for Wikipedia or other WikiMedia projects. Though, if the community decide to adapt such a mechanism to increase the quality, I would not advocate against it. Though I think I personnally would not take part in it still.