Affiliate-selected Board seats/2014/Questions
Please add your questions for all the candidates here. Candidates are advised to watch this page for new questions as they come up.
- 1 Appointed trustee term limits
- 2 Affiliate-selected Board seats
- 3 Results
- 4 The role of new chapters or theorgs
- 5 The aim of the movement and of the WMF
- 6 What role do you see yourself playing on the Foundation Board of Trustees?
- 7 Incorporation and human rights
- 8 Wikipedia Zero and Net Neutrality
- 9 Payment processing by chapters
- 10 Role of non-Wikimedia WMF working partnerships
Appointed trustee term limits
Jimmy, Jan-Bart, Stu and Bishakha will have been on the board for approximately 12, 9, 8 and 6 years respectively at the end of their current term, without any community involvement in their reconfirmation as happens for the community-elected trustees.
There is a lot of advice available from the non-profit sector regarding term limits, but each non-profit needs to evaluate the costs/benefits for their organisation.
Do you believe community reconfirmations or term limits are appropriate for appointed Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation?
If so, how long do you believe an appointed Trustee should be given before they undergo a community reconfirmation, and what is your ideal term limit? e.g. Bish will have had six years as a Trustee; is that enough time for her to have settled into the role and for the community to become 'familiar' with her positions?
If not, the decision to re-appoint lies with the Trustees alone. i.e. You! What factors do you consider most important when deciding whether to re-appoint a Trustee rather than bring in new blood? John Vandenberg (talk) 22:38, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Term limits had been discussed in the Board several times before I joined it and I brought it on the agenda again in 2013. The Board came to the understanding that at that time we didn’t see a necessity to change our bylaws and implement term limits, but we agreed to talk about that in the future again. That’s why you already find it on the BGC’s agenda for January 2016. Personally I think the WMF should follow the mentioned recommendations, when we talk about a maximum tenure of 6 or 8 years. That’s what I would recommend, combined with a 2 years rest between two tenures. But I don’t see any damage for the WMF to postpone this decision until 2016.
When you talk about reappointment I think the crucial point is the Board’s internal evaluation before the reappointment. That’s a part we need to improve in the process and that’s where community input could be included. The community’s ability to assess the value of an individual Board member is limited by nature, but I can imagine getting a more complete picture with different aspects which could be helpful.
The BGC currently starts to create a new Board Skill Grid, which is a useful tool to identify the skills and expertise we need to face the challenges which comes with our plans and strategy and to provide proper guidance for the next years. Selection and reappointment of appointed Board members should be based on the needs and gaps we have. It's the opportunity to come to a balanced composition where the competences of the single members add value to the body's competence in total. Reappointment should also take into account, if someone is able to make decisions, ask challenging questions, bring in additional perspectives, and concentrate on vital issues. And there should be some passion for this work. Alice Wiegand (talk) 12:03, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
We had a discussion about term limits in the Board during my current term and there wasn’t consensus to implement them. There are several reasons: the onboarding process is not easy and it seems to be quite a waste of energy dropping Board members when they are starting to be more effective. On the other hand, finding suitable candidates for the appointed seats is becoming more and more difficult. Having been on the Board for a couple of years is not an inherent merit, but neither is it an inherent demerit. However, I'm in favour of term limits, considering a maximum period between 6 to 8 years.
It would be interesting to find a way to receive community feedback, not only before a reconfirmation of an appointed trustee, but also about the overall effectiveness of the whole Board and everyone of its members. We should find a way for the community to comment, support or oppose the re-appointment of current Board members (and there’s no need for it to be binding, but still it would be a really valuable input. But that is not enough.
The community should also propose names for the appointed board seats, so that the knowledge about possible profiles is not restricted to current trustees, to Foundation staff or to some consultancy firms. Our projects are enough proof of the strength and viability of co-ordinated community organization. Patricio.lorente (talk) 16:00, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
Term limits are a great idea but they need to be balanced with new candidates availability, their cost (in terms of finding and learning period) and commitment. A board needs to receive periodically new energies and fresh ideas to remain effective and lead a lively organization. If WMF grow, it’s BoT must consequently grow, to include new skills that can help in the most suitable way.
On the other hand, every member is different and handles his participation in a variable way: some have a strong commitment even after years and the entire BoT can benefit from a low turnover, since every member acquire an experience in his board-life. Besides relationship and contacts are personal and couldn’t be transferred to anyone else.
I personally was in a situation that probably would have taken advantage of term limits: I was been president of WMI for 8 years (over 9, WMI was founded in 2005); there I was elected by our members and at last I resigned when I decided that I finished my cycle. Did WMI benefit if I had resigned earlier or term limits obliged me to step down? I’m not sure. But in other moments I faced the issue of having one or more inactive members in my board after many terms, since their commitment was changed.
Regarding community involvement, I'm favorable to let appointed member to run for a community board seat after a reasonable term (approx 6 years), which seems to me an interesting way to reconfirm them. Furthermore I second Patricio's idea about involving our community in proposing names for the appointed board seats.
Affiliate-selected Board seats
At least within the English Wikipedia community, there is resistance to Affiliate-selected Board seats being called community seats, as the community at large is not involved in the final decision of who to select, and often affiliates do not consult their members on who should be selected, or do not clearly document who they are selecting and how they came to that decision.
Should there be more consistency and transparency in how the affiliates engage their members in choosing between the candidates for these seats? Can you identify any process improvements to build editor confidence in the affiliate selected seats?
The community elected seats have a two year term. The community typically gives board election seats a second term, at least. However affiliates have always replaced their affiliate-selected board seats after their first full term. Phoebe was removed from the board by the chapters, only to be given her seat again by the community election. Why do you think affiliates prefer new board members rather than reconfirming the board members they selected the previous time? Is this good or bad for the movement?
I know about the resistance, but in fact we all can’t ignore that „community“ is not one consistent body. There are individuals, project communities of different languages and culture, chapters, thematic organizations, user groups, groups with specific interests like developers or photographers, and much more. And they all have a different presence, different backgrounds and different perspectives. The BGC discussed arguments to merge the community elections and the affiliates selection in November and we came to the result that we won’t recommend such a merge. There was one argument against it that is most powerful in my view. It’s the opportunity to bring in more diversity in language and culture into the Board by affiliates selection. I do think that’s true, given the fact that the selectors come from different organizations all over the world, each with the same weight in the selection and there isn’t any project-related majority.
I don’t share your perception that affiliates prefer new board members rather than reconfirming board members. For one thing the former CSBS were only introduced in 2008 and first selected in 2009, for another thing Arne is an example where there already was a reselection.
What I believe is that we should establish better methods to exchange between affiliates and the affiliates selected Board members after the selection. More opportunities to explain our mutual understandings and expectations. Things like the „Meet your Board member“ lunch in Hong Kong and even more. There must be reason why there is hardly any conversation between affiliates and the selected Board members after the selection. And I believe that there is a huge opportunity sleeping which just hasn’t been roused yet. Alice Wiegand (talk) 12:12, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
I think there’s not a long history behind the affiliate-selected board seats to reach such generalizations or conclusions. I have the feeling (maybe not really accurate) that the first true affiliate-selected board members were Phoebe and Arne, before that we had some kind of transition from community seats to affiliate-selected seats. Arne decided not to run after that term, so we can’t really say that the affiliates prefer new blood -we just have a really short history to pretend to identify patterns of behaviour.
The affiliates do not represent the whole community, but their members are typically a subset of the community: those interested in organizational and governance issues, and also offline advocacy. Given that, it is not surprising that the focus is different than in the community election. Popularity is more important in the community election, and so it is less surprising that most of the elected trustees (and we have a longer history here) come from large Wikipedias and wealthy countries, where most editors come from. In the affiliates selection, a common agenda between the affiliates and the candidates has obviously more weight.
Just to draw a quick parallel, community-selected trustees have a direct legitimacy in the same way as representatives do in modern democracies --they have an institutional responsibility which is far larger that their constituencies’ interests, but still they have to satisfy a series of criteria in order to be competitive within their respective electorates. Affiliate-selected trustees have instead an indirect legitimacy vis-à-vis the community at large, but still I think they solidify the Foundation’s legitimacy as a whole and our stability as a complex, multidimensional movement. They are selected by those volunteers who engage the most on outreach and offline work, and whose vision is obviously diverse, from those Wikimedians who are mostly focused on editing contents.
Members of Wikimedia organizations may be far fewer in number than the total of active editors, but one has to keep in mind that the kind of contribution they have chosen to do is also very different in terms of time and physical commitments. The possibility of Wikimedia affiliate organizations of contributing to the Board by selecting candidates of their own is a way of both recognizing their work and enhancing the Foundation with different views and viewpoints from our movement.
I reject the idea of opposing community-selected Board members and ASBS. If any, the principal distinction is between community-oversighted trustees and Board-appointed trustees. I support the idea of enlarging either the absolute or relative importance of directly community-selected seats within the Board. Yet, there is no need for that to imply replacing the ASBS --we could easily add two new community selected trustees without removing the former.
On Phoebe, I can refer to my previous action as president of Wikimedia Argentina during the 2010 process. We always thought she had the best possible profile for a community seat, but we thought she was not the best possible candidate for a CSBS because she lacked enough expertise within the kind of work that Wikimedia affiliates do --she’s more of a militant community advocate, and she’s fierce and great at that. When the chapters decided to select Alice and me, years later, many of us --myself included-- thanked Phoebe for her work and encouraged her to run for a community seat. She did, and she won the race. It is not that affiliates deprived Phoebe of being a Board member only for the community to correct their decision --it were the chapters who selected Phoebe for a first term and who later encouraged her to run for a community seat. She’s a friend of mine from the times of organizing Wikimania 2009, she’s a wonderful trustee, and someone I enjoy discussing and working with.
Let me add something: the resistance that some English Wikipedia editors have towards affiliate-selected Board seats in other language versions of Wikipedia (at least on es.Wikipedia) at times extends even to directly community-selected trustees. Many feel the process is inherently biased towards favoring candidates who are already known on the biggest Wikipedia (en.Wikipedia) and count with a certain command of the English language. In that line, the ASBS help correcting that strong majoritarian bias by the formula of “one affiliate, one vote”. All legitimacies can be discussed, and that is good. It encourages us to think again about our connection and accountability towards the broader Wikimedia community, and to think about how can we best get to know, discuss and express their ideas, proposals and worries to the naturally narrower Foundation framework.
Regarding how the affiliates engage their members, the preference of each affiliate is typically a board level decision. Ultimately, each affiliate’s members community is able to decide and agree on their internal dynamics; for instance, whether these instances of “international voting” should be decided at the executive, Board or members level. This is not about how they reach their members to make a choice between different candidates, but how to engage them in their governance routine --including, of course, this decision. This is something that the affiliates themselves should work on permanently, to ensure real participation and transparency in the daily life of our organizations, and I know that many of them that have this issue on their agenda. Affiliates, unlike the Foundation, do have members and are called to have great levels of increased democracy. The Foundation and its advisory committees (i.e. AffCom) work to ensure our affiliate organizations work in that line and to help them if needed. Patricio.lorente (talk) 16:12, 4 April 2014 (UTC)
I’m not aware in any particular constraint in becoming member of an affiliate but I can agree with the general idea that affiliates are not a direct explicit expression of a community. How each affiliate engage its members in choosing the preferred candidates is a matter of governance which is, I’m pretty sure, regulated according to the bylaws.
ASBS are representing part of the movement, with other skills and background than community elections, since this election consider different candidates, has different criteria and probably different goals (voters are different!).
I agree with Alice and Patricio that we’ve a too short time frame to evaluate ASBS and their turnover.
When Patricio was still the only candidate, Nemo asked him this question. I'm copying it here for the other candidates (after talking with Nemo, who confirmed that he wants to ask it to all of you). - Laurentius (talk) 20:06, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
- Ciao, Patricio. Just to mention a recent example, I want to thank you for opposing the wmf:Minutes/2013-11-24#Movement roles decision (together with all community trustees except Phoebe); however, the result is that it passed. The discussion on that can continue in its page, but I have a couple questions for you.
- Do you think there is a way for the Wikimedia community to act within the Wikimedia Foundation governance (as opposed to, say, rebellion) to pursue the Wikimedia mission? Which is it?
- That vote, where 100 % of [non-officer] community-elected trustees voted against a decision but the majority of the board passed it nonetheless, seems to prove that board elections are not a way for the community to influence the WMF.
- --Nemo 11:51, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
- Ciao, Nemo. Let me quote your questions so I can answer them properly:
- Do you think there is a way for the Wikimedia community to act within the Wikimedia Foundation governance (as opposed to, say, rebellion) to pursue the Wikimedia mission? Which is it?
- Regarding the Movement roles decision, it is known that I don’t share the arguments behind this. I’m worried that, unlike other discussions, it didn’t come from an identified community need. As said, I’m not happy with the process’ outcome, but this is still an ongoing process and the Board, no matter its future composition, will review it periodically in light of the results. There are not dogmatic views here, but different opinions about how should the Wikimedia movement organize itself --the key here is to document, publicize and discuss those different opinions.
- There is space for reinforcing alternative arguments in that discussion and to change the current path if interested stakeholders make their voice heard and struggle to produce documented materials. In this sense, I am willing to be a bridge between all Wikimedia stakeholders, and I think I did my best to be such bridge during my tenure.
- * Do you agree? Is this the reason why the 2013 elections saw a 99.5 % abstention rate and a 48.2 % decrease in participation compared to 2011? What sense do elections/selections like this one make?
- I see your point, but I don’t agree. In fact, I wouldn’t be asking for a new term if I wasn’t convinced that the community is and should be part of the Wikimedia Foundation. What I do think is that our community is diverse and that there are multiple ways to participate in our projects. It is not surprising for me that most Wikimedians are not interested in governance issues --that is the same reason why many people are not interested in organizational matters, and that is not, and should not be read, as a demerit for Wikimedia affiliate organizations. Another element to consider is the need for advanced English skills to fully participate in most of all movement-wide discussions --in that sense I think that internationalization is still a need, we’ve made baby steps in the last couple of years but there’s still a long way to go.
- I’d favor a slight change in the Board composition to increase the percentage of community-elected trustees, but of course that is a discussion for the long term and that can’t be appropriately handled in the current conditions. We could conduct some project-wide survey to have better input about the reasons for low general involvement in movement discussions and low voter turnout in community elections, and take lessons from there in terms of what can we do to increase overall participation. And I'd like to highlight that despite all the difficulties and concerns, every two years we have a wide offer of excellent candidates to choose from, which means that fortunately there are always people from our worldwide community willing to serve as Board members. Patricio.lorente (talk) 23:34, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
A spilt vote is a sign of wekaness of a body. An intelligent and insighted dialoge starting with a common view of mission, what the reality looks like and the view of different players should be the base for a group before making decision/voting. The represantatives from communities and affiliates have an important role of secutring a common view of what the raalty look like for conibuters and chapters. More Board internal talks/lobbying is need by them --Anders Wennersten (talk) 07:23, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Like Patricio I already see the community acting within the Foundation governance, especially when I look at the recent policy consultations. Those were tough, several different opinions were raised. And when you look how the proposals had changed over time you can’t ignore that it was the community’s voice (or better the sum of different voices) which brought up aspects which led to adjustments and even drastic changes. There is a value the community brings into these discussions which can’t be appreciated enough. I also count the three community elected and the two affiliate selected members as part of the Wikimedia community, bringing with them a especial set of experience and background. What we don’t exercise much (and what should be done more often and more consciously) , is that kind of exchange and feedback between the selectors/voters and the Board members which would help us learn about expectations and come to a common understanding of the Board member’s role. And I'm interesting in new and different ideas, so I play the question back to you? What would you like to see?
If you only measure influence in a single vote, you might ask the question of impact correctly. But votes are only one part of Board work. It’s the one sentence result after sometimes hard and long discussions. I’ve seen people moving their positions as well as I had after listening to different views and balancing their consequences. A single member in the Board can’t change a Board’s direction within short term, but if he acts with respect and with trust, he can build respect and trust vice versa and influence the Board’s common orientation in the long term. It’s more about little steps and sustainable conviction than to find temporarily majorities.
I don’t know the reason why so many Wikimedians didn’t participate in the recent election. Like many who would like to see more voters in those elections I believe that there are two main reasons (and hundreds individual reasons I can only guess). Those two I see in a) a general non-interest in this kind of governance issues and b) english focussed elections. Most Wikipedians are part of the community because they want to write or improve article in one or the other way. They just don’t care who is on the Board and that there is a Board. I respect that attitude, and I wouldn’t try to evangelize. But there are others, in Wikipedia’s sister projects and in different language projects, who care. And who want to participate. And here we need to make improvements to make the elections more attractive. Beautiful pages, understandable structure, better, faster and more translations would be first steps. I really believe that we can increase the number of participants in the elections and create a larger diversity if we try. It’ll be a lot of work to recreate the community elections, but it should be feasible. Alice Wiegand (talk) 10:52, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
As I said in Berlin, I don’t know which reasons and discussions led to that resolution, but I can’t agree with it. However I’m convinced that Wikimedia community and, generalizing, the entire movement must work together with WMF to purse our mission, as we’re doing. Board composition try to mix movement elements and appointed persons, to create the perfect blend between representation and skills to govern in best way but as every mix we can discuss it until death without finding the right recipe. I think that a situation showing appointed Vs community seats should be a huge alert for the board to reconsider or postpone such a voting, since I’m sure that oppose this two groups was never the right answer. They should work together and person inside them should have different ideas, because of their background and position too, but they should never split in this way.
The role of new chapters or theorgs
Regarding the decision of installing new chapters or theorgs not before a two year usergroup period:
I don't understand the part about "how far should be their independence". In my opinion, chapters, thorgs and also unincorporated user groups should be independent from the first time. I can't think of them otherwise. About the establishment of new chapters, if their members are mostly wikimedians, their activities and goals are aligned with our mission and their proposed bylaws are approved by the AffCom -which means that they are membership based, they are opened to new members and they observe some governance standards-, I'm completely fine with them. The new rule of the two years usergroup period intends to verify that effective programmatic work is done by the applicants, but the rest (membership based, goals, kind of activities, governance standards, etc.) applies as well. Patricio.lorente (talk) 21:49, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Establishing new chapters/theorgs is always a great news since it shows that our movement is lively and full of constructive energies; I trust AffCom job in approving them. I join Patricio in asking you to clear what do you mean with independence.
The aim of the movement and of the WMF
What do you think is the major aim of a) the Wikimedia movement and b) the WMF? To create, collect, develop and share free knowledge or to empower a global volunteer community to do this? Or something completely different? --Stepro (talk) 01:36, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
- According to this resolution, the foundation has chosen to focus on the roles of engineering and grantmaking. However, I think that the foundation should provide human support to affiliates, which would be more valuable. Why do you think that the foundation should or shouldn't do that? --NaBUru38 (talk) 17:09, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
WMF should do programdevelopment of mediawiki, running the servers, make grantmaking and give overall support to the movement: communities and entities (legal, finance, grant support, PR etc). I see no conflict of interest between chapter/WMF aim and work and community aim and work. Personell at WMSE make the Swedish main archive authority free all images of coat of armns for communes, supports the extracs and puts them into a file at Wikiepdia/commons. We at communty then uses these to get them into the relevant commune articles using bots, partly developed by personell at WMSE. --Anders Wennersten (talk) 07:12, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
- for the follow up question. I would have no problem for WMF to also give support in the human resource area (as legal, finance etc)--Anders Wennersten (talk) 17:52, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
In my opinion, the aim of the Wikimedia movement is to create, collect, develop and share free knowledge by empowering a global volunteer community. In this context, the WMF has specific and also essential responsabilities: running the servers, developing the software, raising funds; and I also like to think that the WMF has a leading role in the movement. Patricio.lorente (talk) 22:02, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
@Stepro: I think that WMF mission is still up-to-date and mix correctly scope, goals and resources. WMF and the movement should share the kernel and differentiate the activities.
@NaBUru38: I'm not sure what do you mean with "human support to affiliates", because I see a lot of different way to support affiliates, but I'm not sure that this should be WMF job. I always thought that Wikimedia Conference as a sharing moment and more in general sharing knowledge between affiliates or even great experiences like IberoCoop are the best way to support affiliates, particularly if you have orgs spread all over the world.
I see an "active" role for WMF when I think of affiliates in term of stakeholders: e.g. thinking of the next strategic plan, I can imagine someone in WMF who cares to involve (and, if necessary, visit!) every affiliates to collect their points.
Hi, thanks for clarification! In this case I uphold my answer above: I think that cooperation between affiliates should be better since each affiliate has experiences to share. A general consultancy service seems to me a bit complicate since we're a world wide movement and that kind of service needs to be reliable and consistent in any different law system, etc. Why don't look for a financial support to buy directly that kind of consultancy?
If I understand you correctly, the primary question is, if there are different goals for the movement and for the WMF. wmf:Mission describes quite well what the WMF aims for and that there is an environment of affiliates in which this happens. But is this the movement? My understanding of the movement also includes editors, photographers, developers. Those who create the content and those who make them accessible, regardless of their relationship to WMF or any Wikimedia affiliation. I believe that we as individuals and as organizations share a core idea of what we want - sharing free knowledge. Which parts of that huge plan we pick up and try to realize and how we do that, can differ. And everyone and every organization should try to find the area where they have competence and capacity and where their participation has the biggest impact. Alice Wiegand (talk) 11:31, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
What role do you see yourself playing on the Foundation Board of Trustees?
(This question was asked from the floor at the ASBS session at the Wikimedia Conference. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 15:42, 14 April 2014 (UTC) ) What role do you see yourself playing on the Foundation Board of Trustees?
To make sure the board, chapter and WMF coordinate their roles in a good way, to make sure we are aligned (exact answer given by mail during session).--Anders Wennersten (talk) 15:47, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
The role of a Board member depends of course on her functions and tasks within a Board. But there are always some characteristics and intents which affects the Board member's impact and working style. The individual Board member is just part of the picture. A single member does not turn a Board upside down. But she can change tone, trust and direction within the group with constructive criticism. I'm a friend of creative controversy. I don't think the board needs to (or even could) reach consensus in each question. We need to have different opinons and come to better conclusions and results. I have two main areas for the next two years: 1. I want to raise the board to a different level of efficiency and help to create a trustful relationship with the new ED and 2. I want to continue advocating for a strategy for the movement structure. I'm worried that this might be tipped over the edge with all the other important tasks we need to handle. Alice Wiegand (talk) 15:24, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
I want to be sure that affiliates are correctly represented inside the board, which means that there should be a channel, a link, between the board and the affiliates, and I want to be that channel. Every relevant part of the movement must be taken in account when the board decide something, to avoid such situation as November resolution; and in every moment there should be communication between the parts, board & WMF must cease to be (considered) a black box, since this is insane for all of us.
As said above, I'd like to be a bridge between the different affiliates and the Board. Talking about specific roles, I'd like to continue as Board liason at the FDC, I think there's a lot to learn and to improve there. Patricio.lorente (talk) 21:22, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
Incorporation and human rights
(This question was asked from the floor at the ASBS session at the Wikimedia Conference. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 15:45, 14 April 2014 (UTC)) The Foundation Board resolution regarding recognition of user groups says: "All organizations wishing to be recognized as a chapter or thematic organization must first be recognized as an unincorporated Wikimedia user group for at least two years." This could be read as a prohibition or restriction to incorporate as a user group (for at least two years). Do you believe this is the intention of the resolution, and if so is it compatible with the right to freedom of association?
The whole issue should have been handled different by the Board, and then the wordings would have been less ambigous (exact answer given by mail during session).--Anders Wennersten (talk) 15:47, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
After a request from the AffCom -because it was actually not clear- this paragraph was rephrased as you can see in the FAQ. To be clear: there is no restriction for a user group to incorporate. Patricio.lorente (talk) 22:38, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
This question of incorporation should be answered with the clarification Patricio linked to. In general I think this resolution really had and still has a lot of problems and we (the Board) should have been more sensitive and careful. And thoughtful. The language we used and the style we communicated before and after the decision was really not got at all. Way too many misunderstandings. The delay in publishing it is not excusable, neither is the confusion we raised. Alice Wiegand (talk) 15:09, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
As I said in Berlin, I don't know which are the discussions that led the Board to take such a decision, I'm not able to think of which problems this resolution is supposed to fix and I definitely can't agree with it. Bad wording is the minor problem.
Wikipedia Zero and Net Neutrality
Dear candidates, I write as a member of the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU. Recently the Wikimedia Foundation considered releasing a statement about Wikipedia Zero and how it may be affected by net neutrality regulations. (I don't believe the statement has been sent out but it was discussed in draft form on the Advocacy Advisors mailing list.) The statement implied that Wikipedia Zero may be negatively affected by these regulations because it is provided for free and this free provision would be against the principle of equal access to information.
On reflection, while we love Wikipedia Zero as a project we are concerned that this statement appears to suggest that the WMF is moving away from supporting net neutrality in favour of supporting Wikipedia Zero. We perceive a couple of difficulties with this. One could easily reach the conclusion that the WMF's position on Wikipedia Zero and net neutrality could result in WMF being accused of being anti-competitive. Creating exceptions - even for Wikipedia - is almost like saying: "We believe in net neutrality but don't think it should apply to Wikimedia projects".
It appears that there is something of a trade-off here - believing in free knowledge for everyone vs Wikipedia Zero potentially compromising neutrality. This could be potentially very harmful for a free and open internet as it appears to create and endorse an exception to the principle of neutrality. While this may appear to protect Wikipedia Zero, it also lays the foundations for those who do not provide free content and would like to see a multi-tiered internet, where preferential treatment is given to those content providers / hosts that wish to pay ISPs (such as streaming movie services, for example) for their content while other providers receive a lower standard of service. This would be bad for content consumers as well as non-paying content providers. Do the candidates have any opinions on this? Thank you in advance! Stevie Benton (WMUK) (talk) 16:33, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
I don't know the draft statement you are talking about, so I'm afraid I cannot give you a specific answer. Anyway, my understanding is that the primary issue with net neutrality is that big players are paying for special access to the "fast lanes" on the internet. We are far from doing that kind of arrangements (or even thinking on that): we are not paying anyone to discriminate and we are no getting any financial benefit. At the same time, we are bringing human rights access to basic knowledge into the discussion: Wikipedia Zero is all about granting access to a basic information service to people who can't pay for it. If Wikipedia Zero is negatively affecting net neutrality I would reassess, but honestly I don't see this happening right now. Patricio.lorente (talk) 22:09, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
I always understood net neutrality as a technicism with huge impact on everyone. What I discovered reasoning on your question is that it implies more than just a technical level. Wikimedia has always chosen the difficult way if it means be ethic and correct, and do stuffs in the right way even if this requires longer times, more resources, and so on. Wikipedia Zero has a noble goal, but if it infringes net neutality, then I'm sure we can agree that the ends do not justify the means and we will be able to reach the same goal in another way.
I do not feel I have enough insight into this issue to give a clear statement. I am positive to Wikiedma Zero, and also of net neutrality. I do not see any conflict for the moment.--Anders Wennersten (talk) 14:14, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
I realize that there is a lot of discussion, paired with high emotions, among the entire complex of net neutrality. Listening to the people who participated for example in the advocacy advisors mailing list, I wonder if we really have a common understanding of what we talk about when we talk about net neutrality. Speaking in my personal capacity I understand it as a power instrument ISPs can play towards content providers as in "give me your money and your content will get preferential treatment". I know that this is simplifying but it helps to focus on the what we agree on to find out where the differences come from. If you thing that Wikipedia Zero harms net neutrality there must be a different premise of what net neutrality means. This is where we should start, find a common definition to provide a common understanding. That should be done before suggesting about double standards. And although I, following my understanding of net neutrality, don't think that Wikimedia Zero fits into that, there are still questions worth thinking about. For example: With each cooperation we start, this particular mobile carrier gets a competitive advantage. Do we know how much we influence the market regulation in those countries? Are we sure we share the business culture of those carriers? Alice Wiegand (talk) 12:09, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
Payment processing by chapters
Wikimedia CH and DE are the last two chapters benefiting from the payment processor status. This means chapters get a direct contact with our donors (which we use quite extensively for outreach), and donors get a tax-exemption certificate (a clear incentive, since they would not get it by donating directly to the Foundation). More info on the matter can be found in this exchange with Sue: my reading is that she has been considering for a while that what used to be the norm among large chapters should disappear, eventhough there is a proven gain in terms of outreach and no discernible impact on the Foundation since in the end the funds are integrally forwarded to it at minimal cost.
The BoT is to rediscuss the issue next year. Notwithstanding Lila's own views, which may differ from Sue's, what is your personal position on the matter: Keep or Remove? Do you think that such status could be re-extended to other major chapters (e.g. UK, FR, NL), provided they give the right guarantees? Popo le Chien (talk) 15:10, 15 May 2014 (UTC)
When we talk about decentralizing payment-processing we should consider, at least, the operational costs involved (including the need of a specialized fundraising team), the existence of local incentives (e.g. tax deductions for donors), the relationship with donors, and, of course, the confidence that our movement's transparency principles will be met. I'm in favor to extend this status to other Chapters provided that considering all those terms, there's a clear net benefit for the movement. This said, I'd like to add that becoming a payment-processor shouldn't be a goal in itself for the Chapters. Only in certain countries and under certain conditions the heavy load of work and the risks involved may be worth of it. Instead, focusing on programmatic work and working to improve the FDC process seem to be of a higher priority. Patricio.lorente (talk) 18:47, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
I am not in favour of chapters keeping the funding they recieve as part of the general fundraising campaigns. I also like the centralized way of promoting fundraising and that there are a good team at WMF doing this. I am postive to chapters using other means of receiving local funds, like WMDE using peronal "letters" etc and would like that successful experience to be spread to other chapter. Anders Wennersten (talk) 14:10, 19 May 2014 (UTC)
As you said this is a discussion we will have in 2015 and I think it's a discussion that should be prepared with the experiences, numbers and facts collected during the 4 years since the decision was made to only let 4 chapters having the opportunity of payment processing. This is a decision which is crucial for the whole structure and the interdependencies of our organizations. I want to listen to the chapters, to those who want to get back that right as well as to those who don't. And to donors. And to others who are interested. I don't want to make a decision without those voices. So, for now the only thing I can say is that it seems to be too complex to find a one fits it all solution. The differences of donating culture, legal responsibilities, international money transfer, company or association law have to be taken into account. And if it reduces to the question, who is the one to write the thank-you-letter and maintain the official contact, or who has a say in the creation of the fundraising banners, we should find a solution for that particular questions, which are not necessarily chained to payment processing. Alice Wiegand (talk) 12:34, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I think that a world-wide localized campaign offers more opportunities to our donors to support us. I'm not a professional fundraiser but it seems to me that fundraising with chapters and, in perspective, with the orgs, is a good idea: creating effective relationship with donors, building their loyalty, and making them more (if possible!) passionate in our movement, should be easier if you know context and desires, if you are familiar with ongoing initiatives in that country, etc. In terms of image, fundraising together show that we are a cohesive movement (not only because it's in WMF mission!). Obviously it's not easy: an org should be able to fundraise, to open a dialogue with donors and cuddle them; should be accountable, transparent and very efficient, with strong financial and legal advisors. But what I'd really love is to delete the label "payment-processor" and find another name ;-) Fundraising together is a plus if theorgs are not just a technical tool" as payment-processor evokes.
Role of non-Wikimedia WMF working partnerships
What are your views on the role of non-Wikimedia movement partners going ahead? I ask this in general terms as well as specifically in case of CIS whose current FDC proposal has met with significant community opposition here and here? AroundTheGlobe (talk) 16:19, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
- Just wanted to second the above question and also clarify that the WMF working partners in India / Brazil are not movement partners as defined here. WMF positions itself as a grantmaking organization for non-Wikimedia organizations in these cases. But, there are no clear guidelines evolved for these in the Wikimedia affiliation models yet.--Ravi (talk) 13:22, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
In general I appreciate the idea of collaborating with non-Wikimedia partners too, since they can increase our diversity, add different perspective and good synergies are stimulating for everyone.
Regarding CIS.. well, the situation in India is complex and critical. I appreciate FDC work and their latest recommendation and I completely agree that this situation should be addressed and resolved; we need as well a new strategic plan which can contextualize such a problem and legitimize a new course.
Base for the FDC funding is this resolution. The decision to include them to the FDC funding was made to provide the same feedback and approval mechanisms which are in charge for the affiliations. Looking at CIS or Wiki Education Foundation I appreciate that there are organizations which take over defined parts of our mission, focus on them, create successful initiatives an programs and with that help us to achieve our common purpose to share free knowledge. Alice Wiegand (talk) 13:59, 29 May 2014 (UTC)