Chapter-selected Board seats/2012/Candidates/Salmaan Haroon
|Salmaan Haroon (Theo10011)|
Statement of support by WMAU
Wikimedia Australia has come to know Salmaan Haroon as an enthusiastic and passionate contributor to the Wikimedia projects, and more importantly to the governance and organisational support of these projects.
Salmaan Haroon has worked closely with many chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation, and has encouraged all movement organisations to develop their strengths, collaborate more, and strive for excellence in financial stability and transparency, to each other and to the community. By listening and participating in discussions, he has come to understand many of the issues that chapters face. Salmaan Haroon was a key supporter of the Movement Roles project, which has recently been ratified by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. It is the belief of Wikimedia Australia that his enthusiasm and determination will bring about positive changes at all levels of this movement.
Statement of support by WMID
Wikimedia Indonesia nominated and supported Salmaan Haroon as a candidate for Wikimedia Foundation Chapter-selected Board of Trustees based on the Resolution which can be found here: http://wikimedia.or.id/wiki/Resolusi:Pengajuan_Calon_Kedua_Dewan_Pengawas_Asosiasi_Wikimedia_2012
I am known to most people within the community as Theo - a name of my own choosing. Why? I wish to explain now. The selection process for which lasted a whole 10 seconds, 10011 was added because 'Theo' was unavailable at the time. I am not sure why I chose 'Theo' at the time, I wasn't listening to Thelonious Monk or reading any articles about Theocracy, it was just the first innocuous thing that came to my mind. I felt what I had to say at that point mattered more than that name, or what it revealed about me. I wanted to use something generic and random.
The edit that I felt was more important, was a proposal on strategy wiki. It was my first page, a proposal to create a Wiki-Fund, an endowment fund for WMF, so it could limit its reliance on the annual fundraiser and be sustainable. I subsequently discussed and explained my idea to others, even got a chance to bring it up to a couple of board members. One thing led to another, and I ended getting more involved in the process, and became an admin there. My area of interest was, and is, financial sustainability. It is one thing, I feel I have something to contribute in. I somehow, remained active in the process till it ended, became active on English Wikipedia, and eventually migrated to Meta for my daily activities.
I still chose to go by that name, not because I didn't have a chance to change it or use my real name. I liked remaining relatively anonymous, I liked being known for what I say than who I am. I have built my standing from what I say, rather than where I am from, the language I speak or what I do in my day-job. I like fading into an ocean of anonymity, I would have been known as an IP address if I could, but 'Theo' is good enough, I suppose.
I value people by their contributions, not their names or identities. That culture of meritocracy, is the idea behind our movement. I value people for what they say and know, what they can prove and not who they are or what qualification they have. That is why Wikipedia is written by just about anyone, you, me, teenagers, housewives, teachers, students, not only grey-haired, primarily anglo-saxon scholars, that came to represent the establishment when it came to knowledge. They came to represent the keepers of the gate to knowledge for centuries; our movement, to that extent, is breaking the door down, and removing those barriers.
Later that year, I appeared in a series of videos created by WMF at Wikimania in Gdansk, then got hired to work for WMF during the fundraiser, and I thought there went my anonymity. I became more active on IRC and the mailing lists. My interaction also changed inside the community, I eventually found my voice as I became more active in governance related discussion, too active, by some accounts.
I believe WMF and the movement is at a critical juncture now than it has ever been. Decisions, taken now will shape what our movement will look like in years to come. I strongly believe each chapter should strive to be independent, financially and organizationally, to pursue 100 different goals at any given point, for a 1000 different volunteers all across the world. Coordination should not be confused with control.
I have strong opinions on subjects related to governance. I have never been shy of expressing them. I continue to engage in tense discussions, I believe I'm least likely to retire and pull away from controversial topics and heated debate. The board needs strong direction now with decisive actions. I would do everything within my power to be the best representative of the chapters and the wider community as possible.
Within every ideology, philosophy, there are voices that occupy a spectrum. There are moderates, who can continue month after month of writing reasoned letters without losing their focus, there are extreme voices, usually passionate, inarticulate fools that scream at the top of their lungs, and there are silent protesters; the underlying ideas are always the same. I have occupied the entire spectrum from my involvement in Wikimedia governance issues. As a staff member once put it, the idea of chapter independence has always been a bit of fiction, it is statements and perceptions like those that I wish to alter permanently.
And with that, I wish to announce my acceptance of nomination from Wikimedia Australia. I am generally a pessimist, so whatever the outcome of the elections, I hope to not let any of my friends down.
Real life Resume
Salmaan Haroon (User:Theo10011) is an Indian businessman, a self-described finance geek and an amateur economist. He attended Delhi University as a Bachelor of commerce student. His foray into the business world involved managing his family business since he was 17. He subsequently worked as a trader in commodities, currencies and stock futures for several years. He was temporarily involved in the trading of polymer resins from the MENA region. During the course of his work, he has lived and worked from several places within the MENA region, South-east Asia and most recently Brazil. He has traveled extensively, dealing with client/supplier negotiations in a multicultural environment.
Salmaan is a bilingual, his mother tongues are Hindi and English, along with some variation of dialect and written systems. He can understand Spanish and to a certain degree, Portuguese. He is also learning Latin.
Salmaan's involvement in Wikipedia started when he became a contributor to the English Wikipedia, under username Theo10011. He was extensively involved in the WMF strategic plan formulation, primarily focusing on financial sustainability. He proposed a Wiki-fund, an endowment fund for WMF as one of his first contributions. He remained active within the strategy-space, going through majority of the research material and information about Wikimedia and other similar organizations, on strategy wiki and Meta. Salmaan briefly worked for WMF on the fundraiser, which gave him a different perspective, working in proximity of other staff members. He was later involved in the Movement Roles group, where he proposed a Chapters council and a abstract classification system for all entities in the movement. Recently, he has been heavily involved in the fundraising discussion suggesting a tiered approach, and being a strong proponent of decentralized fundraising. He has vocally spoken out against attempts to centralize fund collections and dissemination, and undermining the existence of chapters.
He has helped organized several meetups and events in his city and the local community. Most of Salmaan's activity on Meta these days, is li mited to Wikimedia and governance-related areas.
Salmaan believes that WMF and the movement is at a critical juncture. He strongly believes that decisions, taken now will shape what our movement will look like in years to come. Wikimedia foundation is in a much stronger position now than it was 2 years ago, the number of staff members is more than twice of what it was, the budget too, has expanded several times, in the same period. The focus, he believes, should now be on better international representation, multicultural interaction, better financial control, and know-how about target geographies. He is in strong favor of using chapters to expand in target geographies and increasing outreach efforts. He believes in better communication from the board, with clear, decisive actions, along with proper communication of the thought-process behind a decision. He strongly respects the project and community's sovereignty, and is against any change or modification against the community's wishes, like the controversial-content filter. He is against proliferation of random, continuous and ongoing research projects, which don't have any measurable ROI (Return on Investment) for the community. He believes a large portion of annual revenues are wasted in research projects that don't yield any conclusive results, instead of going directly towards supporting the community and its activities. He would like to see more development within Mediawiki, to better customize it for non-flagship projects. He is also not in favor of rapidly expanding the staff with more consultants, designers and analysts, without addressing the core issues of the day. He believes each chapter should be a strong, independent organization within its own country, capable of standing on its own, financially, and organizationally, to defend the common interest of our movement.
Responses to the questions by nominator