Affiliate-selected Board seats/2019/Primer for user groups

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Infographic about the process, with clickable links.
Infographic about the process, with clickable links. Please help with translations!

The following guidance was written to facilitate participation of new entities, which are new to similar processes and may lack experience in taking certain important decisions. The related infographic has clickable links and is also translatable, thanks for your help with it!

Welcome to your first affiliate-selected Wikimedia Foundation board seat selection (ASBS) process. Per the December 2018 bylaws amendment, all the affiliates in good standing, including user groups for the first time, can participate in the upcoming selection of two members for the Board (see key dates; more details about eligibility in the current Resolution). This is a short overview of what this means for you.

What trustees are and what they are not[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees oversees the organization. It ensures that the latter continues to be a good steward of the infrastructure, trademarks, and resources supporting the communities and affiliates working with it. Its goal is to achieve the vision to freely share the sum of all human knowledge with every person in the world. The Board appoints the Foundation’s Executive Director and approves the annual and strategic plans. Trustees do not take part in the organization’s regular operations. Unlike most of its affiliates, the Wikimedia Foundation is not a membership organization and by US law the exclusive right to appoint new trustees rests with the Foundation’s Board itself. Trustees are required to serve the organization itself and, like eight other board members, the two affiliate-recommended trustees are not representatives of who proposed them. You can learn more about what is expected of a trustee throughout their three-year term in the board handbook.

Where to find general information about ASBS 2019[edit]

The ASBS-process is traditionally facilitated by some volunteers selected by the eligible affiliates themselves. You can refer to Affiliate-selected_Board_seats/2019 for some key information.

User groups: Advice on how to engage with your own user group members in deciding whom to vote for[edit]

It is probably good to start out by asking yourself what kind of group your user group is and how it usually discusses issues that matter to you. The answer to these questions goes a long way in deciding upon how to engage with ASBS because the process has to work for you and your members. Here's an example of a user group deciding about participation in 2019.

If you are unsure, a good general approach worth considering includes the following steps:

  • Let your members know that the process is happening, give a brief overview of what a Foundation trustee is, and decide together whether you think participating in ASBS is a good use of your collective time in serving your user group’s goals. If the answer is “no”, that’s perfectly okay and you can stop reading here :)
  • If your group’s answer has been “yes”, welcome to "page two" with next steps:
    • Organize conversation(s) within the process’ defined time windows to discuss the following issues together:
      • Look at who currently sit on the Foundation’s Board. What skills, perspectives, and competencies do they seem to bring to the table?
      • What skills, perspectives, and competencies would your group like to see being part of the Foundation’s Board?
      • Who among the potential candidates seem(s) to be the best addition(s) to the existing Foundation Board to add the skills, perspectives, and competencies your group would like?
      • If your group is unsure whether the trustee profile you seek might be matched by a candidate, you could talk to other affiliates you have had contact with about what trustees you and they are envisioning respectively.
      • It is always possible to nominate a candidate yourselves! If you know someone who would be a great addition to the Board, you can encourage them to step up as soon as possible, to give other affiliates time to get to know them, ask questions, ...
      • If you don't have a person to nominate, you can still endorse existing candidates. See the Resolution for details about this.
    • Your user group’s internal conversations on these issues will most likely look like other internal discussions you’ve had so far. The only general guidance is that it should work well for all of you. So discussions can take many forms in many different forums and formats, including but not limited to:
      • On wiki.
      • Social media; affiliates traditionally use a wide range of these (Telegram, IRC, Facebook, WhatsApp, Line, etc.) in various formats. The Foundation’s Trust and Safety team standard recommendation for Wikimedia-related activities is Signal.
      • Hosting remote calls on Google Meet, Skype, etc.
      • Hosting an in-person meeting to discuss the issues, especially if all your interested members live close by.
      • Email mailing lists, Google Groups, etc.
      • Delegate it and entrust the primary or secondary contact person for your user group to review the issues and decide on whom to vote for in ASBS on the user group’s behalf while everyone else gets on with working on other issues.
    • Whatever form you and your group decide works best for you to reach agreement internally about what trustee profile you would like to see and who among the candidates best matches that profile, you should be arriving at one or two preferred candidates, and rank them accordingly in case. If you feel like you'd appreciate some additional guidance around general decision-making in your group, please flag this in time! See also the resources provided below.
  • Vote in line with the general guidance on how to do so on Meta, when it will be published.

Additional resources[edit]