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Board of Trustees Board noticeboard Archives
Welcome to the Board of Trustees' noticeboard. This is a message board for discussing issues related to Wikimedia Foundation governance and policies, and related Board work. Please post messages at the bottom of the page and sign them.
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Questions left over from Wikimania Board Q&A[edit]

Following are the two questions that were not answered during the Board Q&A at Wikimania. The original page with some more questions and answers can be found at: https://wikimania2014.wikimedia.org/wiki/Questions_for_the_Q%26A_with_Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_of_Trustees

Fundraising[edit]

I'm quite interested in the fundraising situation in the United Kingdom with the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia UK, specifically the board's decision to not renew Wikimedia UK's fundraising agreement, and the loss of approximately $500,000 (at current exchange rates) of Gift Aid funding (a UK Government incentive, explained at https://www.gov.uk/donating-to-charity/gift-aid). Will the Wikimedia Foundation be renewing the fundraising agreement with Wikimedia UK, or will they form an overseas subsidiary in the UK to enable the collection of Gift Aid receipts. Does the board agree that the loss of such a significant sum is regrettable, that its collection must be investigated as a priority, and that such a sum could create significant benefits to the movement around the world.

It seems odd that at all levels the WMF was openly and publicly praising the UK chapter during Wikimania, and yet this nuts and bolts question of why so much of the donor's money is actively thrown away is skipped over. Wikimedians need not just draw their own conclusions, they can read Jon Davies' (WMUK Chief Executive) open letter to Sue Gardner in May 2014. If nothing is ever said by the WMF, then a fundamental lack of trust in WMUK's competence to manage fundraising must still be a core problem, despite the last 3 years of negotiation, expensive consultants and politics, this lack of trust costs the movement $500,000 a year. If a change of management or leadership is needed to resolve this, maybe 3 years is long enough to decide on what action is needed?
Along with many other active Wikimedians who are focused on content creation rather than politics, I could find a huge number of worthy open knowledge projects that would deliver amazing value with these lost funds.
P.S. I did not raise the question and unfortunately I was unable to attend this session, being busy as a Wikimania volunteer on other stuff; my travel for my volunteer days cost £14, which I have yet to be paid, and at that rate you could fund around 250 volunteer years worth of effort from willing unpaid folks like me with this lost money. -- (talk) 13:31, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Hello Fae, these extra potential funds are important. The WMF this year qualified for Gift Aid [via the UK Fund for Charities, something that was beneficial when we raised sponsorship for Wikimania. I am not certain how this might fit into the donation flow for individual donors, that is something worth clarifying. SJ talk  07:07, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
I suppose I need to declare an interest, in that as a UK taxpayer, WMF failing to collect Gift Aid has probably saved me one or maybe two pence. But having just read the letter referred to above, I find it odd that WMF would not bother to institute a UK-based process, whether it be via WMUK or some other vehicle, that would enable it to more effectively collect donations from the UK and claim the tex refund. Deltahedron (talk) 14:00, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
@Sj: It is possible we might be talking about different things. If the WMF will be able to claim gift aid in the UK, that sounds great, as it will make a huge difference to the impact a donor's money can make, particularly if Wikimedia UK is never to be recognized again as a funds processor for the WMF. Do you have a link to point to where this is explained further? -- (talk) 07:57, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
To be frank, I don't see how this can be quite right. Charities have to be based in the UK, EU, Iceland or Norway to qualify [1] and as far as I know the WMF is not. Deltahedron (talk) 17:19, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
The [UK Fund for Charities channels gifts to validated non-UK based charities. We were able to use their service this year for large Wikimania-related donations. They charge 1% for large gifts, making this an effective way to receive gift aid. However this is not a great solution for individual donors: for gifts under £100, they charge up to 20%, consuming most of the gift aid. This works for small donations as well: they calculate the fee based on total gifts in a year. While they charge £20 of the first £100 donated in a year, this quickly tapers off to 1%. SJ talk  21:33, 8 December 2014 (UTC) (The question remains: whether having this option available is as convenient as other ways to give, and whether we could more effectively obtain Gift Aid with a more streamlined donation flow. 05:53, 22 January 2015 (UTC))

block of fundraising in Russia without explanations[edit]

Hello. I asked my questions in wikimedia-l, I also posted to wmfboard email but still got not answer in 2 weeks. That's why I want to make a public request here.

I would like to bring Board's attention to recent block of fundraising in Russia:

  • 1 and other messages of the thread
  • 2 and other messages of the thread

For about 2 weeks we had no official communication from WMF, no private letter to Wikimedia RU chapter with explanations of the issue.

We don't understand the actions taken and we ask only for transparency and explanations.

It could be possible, that WMF staff is driven by some internal thoughts but Wikimedia movement declares openness and I ask you as an ultimate authority to look into the issue and help us to learn the truth. Otherwise, at the moment it looks like some politically driven action without valid reasons. rubin16 (talk) 08:36, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

Rubin16 are we any the wiser as to why donations from Russia are not being accepted? I have someone in the media in Russia who is interested in this. The WMF owes answers to the community and it would be best to do so before the media makes an issue of it. Russavia (talk) 08:37, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
I am gonna wait till the end of January without any action rubin16 (talk) 06:40, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for posting here, Rubin16. I know that the matter is taken seriously, and not for political reasons. WM-RU should have gotten an update by now; let us know if you still need information after the end of January. SJ talk  05:53, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Our directors got some explanations on the recent meeting in WMF but, frankly speaking, it was just the reason stated without any explanations and proof... So, the situation is still not clear for us because I don't understand why the reason you told our directors is kept as a secret (if it true, there is nothing bad or private in it), and I don't think that it is sufficient enough to block all donations from here rubin16 (talk) 18:40, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

WMF Global Ban Policy[edit]

Was WMF Global Ban Policy approved by the WMF Board of Trustees? Usually creating policy that affects all projects requires a board decision. John Vandenberg (talk) 03:44, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

It was not. For the most part, staff policies have stopped requiring a board decision. Since the LCA department was set up, this includes policies related to implementing or enforcing other policies; and basic modifications or revisions to existing cross-project policies. SJ talk  05:53, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
This policy, as implemented, being a radical departure from prior practice and policy, is causing some serious reactions, damaging trust in the WMF. I do not suggest any immediate response, but there are definitely board issues here, dealing with the respective roles of the WMF and the community. Thanks, SJ, for informing us that there was no Board approval. Thus appeal to the Board may be possible.
Please do not place this matter before the Board until and unless there is a developed RfC on the involved issues. --Abd (talk) 15:33, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, but it is a bit of a joke that a few vocal community members instrumentalize the long overdue ban of an absolutely toxic contributor to cook up another story about "the loss of trust in WMF". I for one say thanks for finally stepping up to the plate and dealing with this "vested contributor" situation. --Dschwen (talk) 16:07, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for openly expressing your views about Russavia, Dschwen. As you are one of the tiny handful of active Commons bureaucrats that have a duty to show community leadership on Commons, is there a reason that you were unable to take justifiable action against Russavia on his main project with the evidence you had for this "absolutely toxic contributor", and instead have abdicated responsibility to WMF legal? -- (talk) 17:22, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I am taking the liberty of expressing my personal opinion on this wiki, where I am not a crat. I do not have to wear this hat every second of every day. I will not be bullied into being quiet, I will, however, choose not to interact with you during my hatless time :-) (for the benefit of both our blood pressures!). Over and out. --Dschwen (talk) 17:57, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I do apologise if my question appears to be bullying to your eyes. It was intended to be a straightforward question to one of our leaders with the highest trusted rights on Commons. I had hoped for a straightforward answer on the presumption that leadership comes with responsibility for the project. Thanks -- (talk) 18:49, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
It is always good to name the user directly without using planters comments sentimentality and resentment. Here was locked globally by a "completely logical reason", however, never explained not even who has been blocked. This behavior is typical of totalitarian regimes. Remembering that "toxic contributor" is a phrase Jimbo to commons community. "I should be clear - the problem is not the abuse of me, but the toxic and juvenile ... problem.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 23:04, 14 October 2014 (UTC)" --The Photographer (talk) 17:52, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
SJ, can you please create a "staff policy" template (and category) as you did on wikimediafoundation.org some time ago? This is not the first time WMF staff creates confusion about the scope of some documents. --Nemo 18:48, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Good idea, done. SJ talk  08:43, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Commons - User:Russavia[edit]

Hi all, I have a question. From my recent edits, you will notice I changed the User:Russavia/Flickr-letter/nl-informal. I noticed Russavia has been blocked globally and I was wondering if the text of the Flickr letters should be adapted accordingly. Something like: I was an editor on Wikipedia and an admin on Wikimedia Commons. Thank you for your time. Lotje (talk) 14:47, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

It seems irrelevant now as these will not be used again, apart from the fact that if you appear to represent Russavia in any way, you risk being officially but secretly investigated by WMF employees. For that reason I would not touch these with a barge-pole. -- (talk) 15:25, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
That's fine by me, only wanted to be helpful. Lotje (talk) 15:32, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Lotje, Fae is right that they simply won't be used again. SJ talk  08:43, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Resolution on superprotect[edit]

Hello, Letter to Wikimedia Foundation: Superprotect and Media Viewer is reaching 1000 signatories and the board has never said anything on the matter (only the chair did). I give you one week to put the topic on the agenda for March meeting; after that, I'll propose a resolution myself and will ask all board members to put it up for voting.

As you are starting Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Thinking about the WMF Board composition, I find it very worrying that thousands of active contributors will only react thinking "ah, yes, WMF, the entity which superblocks us; ah, yes, the board, the thing which never does anything". If the board wants someone to care about it, it needs to get something done. --Nemo 07:29, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Hi Nemo, are you most concerned about how the board talks about the letter, or about how the underlying issues are addressed? The Board reviewed these issues - technical engagement with the community, respect and appreciation, releasing products once they are ready and not before, and include community feedback continuously in the release process, including the definition of blockers that preclude deployment - at the February Board meeting, with Damon. Most of the underlying issues have already been brought up; and I have great confidence that Damon will handle them attentively and with grace.
We did not review details of the media viewer rollout in particular (we used the Visual Editor rollout as a richer case study). However to my knowledge, all of the features and bugs identified after the fact as blockers have since been addressed - if not perfectly, then well enough for the bug filers. Do you know otherwise? This sort of technical consultation needs to be implemented continuously, and I understand it will happen soon across the board. If you find yourself leaving a 'here we go again' comment for any reason, you might compile links to those on a Technical Rollout Feedback page on mw: so they can be resolved promptly.
Communicating with those who care about the topic is important, and has been done spottily. It would be good to compile a summary of where things stand now, with input from the communities that cared deeply about it, those who triaged the public requests, and Damon. I'm not sure that an official response to the letter will help. Feel free to move this section to the talk page there; and other suggestions are welcome. SJ talk  08:43, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
The simple fact is that more than 1000 stakeholders (including some who signed the letter on change.org; about 900 at the time of formal delivery) made a request -- and got no official response -- not even a "we hear you, but we know better than you" response. No board member, no executive, ever publicly or privately even acknowledged receiving the letter (which I delivered on September 9). I do not know what aspect in particular Nemo bis thinks needs discussing, but the idea that the Board has not produced any public response at all is simply baffling. The process stuff you say you discussed at a meeting is nice, but does not address the simple requests of the letter. Perhaps WMF leadership thinks the underlying issues will take care of themselves; if so, I think history will prove you wrong. -Pete F (talk) 02:37, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Nemo, it sounds like a threat. Pete, I wouldn't assume that the board is conducting itself in relation to this matter with anything less than good faith. Please also note that 1000 people signing something is not the same as community opinion as a whole. A complex set of issues are involved, and it's hard to see how signatories are acting as one voice in relation to all of them; a single petition statement can also inadvertently be associated with confirmation bias and peer effects. The board has access to expertise in the relevant areas, and has to weigh up competing requirements. Tony (talk) 03:26, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Threat? Not to my eyes. I think you would have to assume bad faith to read it that way. As far as the WMF board, I not only assume good faith, I am absolutely convinced that the board members I know act with good faith. Merely having good faith, however, is an egregiously low criterion for the actions of an entity charged with supporting and maximizing Wikimedia's potential. -Pete F (talk) 22:09, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
I support you (Nemo) and Pete fully. Unfortunately, reality shows that the Board is in full control and support of everything WMF does and did, but they always carefully try to hide their real power and decisions; likewise Jimbo hides behind the Board, although he is - in my eyes - in full control of nearly anything the Board does, thus also anything WMF does. The ridiculously pseudo-elections for some of the board members are only the sweet pill for the communities and the tool for Jimbo to pretend he is not the de-facto CEO of the whole Wikiverse. To accomplish what most users expect to be a collaborative and community-driven project we would need far more democratic entities and rules. Therefore, more contributors and readers would firstly need to understand the current structures. --Trofobi (talk) 19:05, 28 February 2015 (UTC)