Wikimedia Foundation elections/Board elections/2008/Candidates/Questions/1

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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
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Questions

Improving Wikipedia's responsibility regarding biographies[edit]

I believe Wikipedia is jaw droppingly irresponsible in the area of Biographies of living people. As such, I believe there is an urgent need for positive change. It is extremely worrying that this has been a fairly high profile concern for quite some time (months, if not years) and it remains difficult to point to tangible improvements. Two questions on this issue; What are your proposals for improvement in this area, and how confident are you that Wikipedia does not contain significant levels of defamatory material? Privatemusings 04:18, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Issues such as BLP are primarily the responsibility of the project community to deal with. Project communities deal with these issues through the OTRS queue processes quite well.
Alex Bakharev
Second question first. We all know that at any particular moments there is anything in the main space of wiki. It is a fact of life in such a project like ours. The problem is to have the defamatory materials removed sufficiently fast so to not damage the reputation of the project and be clear from the litigation threat.

Now to the first question. There are three levels of this problem:

  1. Defamatory material that was introduced by stealth so the wider wikipedian community is not aware of. This is the most common case of BLP violations. I think we could significantly improve the situation by promoting various review tools so to ensure that all potentially contentious edits are reviewed by people who has a clue in the subject. I believe such things like yellowing non reviewed new articles or e.g. AlexNewArtBot feeds of new articles by project significantly reduce the amount of attack and hoax articles. Similarly vandalism reversion bots reduce the amount of garbage in the articles about living people, etc. I think WMF should promote migration the best tools and practices from one wikiproject to the others of similar size. WMF could also promote (or even finance) the development of such tools. Another important development is support of OTRS, we should be sure that any complains about defamatory materials were properly investigated.
  2. The second level is defamatory material that community is well aware of but that is pushed anyway by groups of soapboxers. WMF could help the projects by taking leaderships in adoption of contentious policies. E.g. it probably requires WMF decision to change the AFD rules on en-wiki. I would support changing the requirements for BLP deletions from "consensus to kepp" to "consensus to delete". It is the action of last resort but we have en:WP:OFFICE policy. That allows WMF staff to intervene in the contentious cases. I think it should be used more frequently and above table (rather than silently and below table that only feeds the drama and creates rumors)
  3. Finally, the third level are contentious materials that are well known and properly attributed but the subject is in litigious mood and wants to fight. I believe we should form a Legal Fund that would allow to help wikipedians and WMF itself to protect ourselves in the courts if we believe that we are right. It does not mean that we want to diminish WMF protection as a sevice provider nor that we should foolhardy enter every legal fight we could find but we should be ready to support our editors if we think they are accused in bad faith.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
The BLP issue is an important issue that will shape the long term reputation and value of Wikipedia. The foundation should take care however to avoid forcing a solution upon the community. I have faith in the community's ability to sensibly handle this issue. The BPL policy itself looks fairly good, but we need to find a way to ensure that it enforced rigorously. We need to be more aggressive in our handling of unsourced materials.

People are starting to understand and accept that the nature of Wikipedia. We need to make it easier for our readers to alert us to issues when they find them. Wiktionary's very cool feedback thing could perhaps be adapted to Wikipedia. The sheer size of Wikipedia makes it hard for us to monitor everything, so allowing readers to alert us when they spot a problem would be incredibly helpful. I also rather like Mbisanz proposal of making the OTRS system more accessible with a web form. OTRS is one of our very valuable tools in combating BLP and general quality issues. Despite the great work of the OTRS volunteers, we are not keeping up with the e-mails we receive very well. There is quite a backlog on the quality queue. We need to find more volunteers with the skills and willingness to handle these tickets.

To your second question, from handling OTRS tickets, I have seen quite a bit of defamatory material in articles, fortunately most of the time, someone else has dealt with it before I get to it. I have little doubt that with the sheer size of Wikipedia there is not more defamatory material sitting somewhere unreverted.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
2nd question first: By Wikipedia's nature, it is impossible to be truly confident at any given time. We could do some checks of all BLPs, but who knows if what we checked yesterday is still the case? Which leads to the first question. I believe a strengthening of the BLP policy through a clarification is needed. We need it to be more clear than it is right now. I want OTRS to take a more active and official role in handling BLP issues, which of course will require some other form of oversight, possibly via Arbitration Committees on the projects that have them. The counterpoint to this is, of course, we need to be very careful that the Foundation is not compromising its legal immunity under §230 CDA. This is something that will take careful work with both Cary, Mike Godwin, and Erik to implement from the volunteer, legal, and technical standpoints. That being said, it is the role of the board to guide things, rather than directly interfere. So, said proposals would be implemented and championed by the staff, not the board. The board's job would be to help ease the process, and give assistance and input where possible.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
There is a weighty threat to most of the BLPs on Wikipedia. They serve as an attractive nuisance for vandals who want to get their jollies with silly comments (such as when Joe Lieberman's article was defaced, explaining that his divorce was because he "has too many ants all over his face and genetalia"). But, more insidiously, they serve as a defamation platform that can have real-world consequences for people like Taner Akcam (look him up on your favorite online encyclopedia, if you don't know his story).

I have little faith in the volunteer Wikipedia "community" fixing this problem without a Foundation-level edict for improvement. That's why I would aggressively explore implementation of hard-line policies, such as:

  • Give all BLPs the same protective features that are bestowed on the article about Jimmy Wales (edit privileges extended only to those registered accounts at least four days old, with at least 10 edits under their belt).
  • Changing the Articles for Deletion policy to read:
In the case of biographies of living people, especially those where a published paper biography does not already exist, where multiple editors have expressed the opinion either, (a) that the biography could cause distress to the subject, or (b) that the biography will be particularly difficult to maintain in a fair and accurate state, due to the poor available sourcing or it being of such low interest that few but biased editors will be willing to maintain it...
In such cases, the closing administrator shall close the debate as "Keep" only where there is a clear consensus that Wikipedia should retain the article. In all other cases the default shall be to "Delete" the article.
  • Explore through scientific method a project-wide ban on IP address editors in BLP articles.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
The BLP issue is another sign of Wikipedia's success and influence as an information source. My feeling is that this is not so much a wide-spread epidemic, but rather a case of relatively few high-profile scandals creating lots of media hype. My approach can be summed up as follows:
  • there has to be an easily approachable way for people to complain about defamatory material
  • upon receipt of such complaints, entries may have to be rewritten and/or much better sources provided, but (in most cases) not entirely deleted
  • in general, it is easier to evaluate the encyclopedic value of people in retrospect, so therefore, the inclusion criteria for living people have to be quite higher than for historical persons
  • because wikis are by nature modifiable and dynamic, libel is easily removed. This makes it easier to handle BLP libel issues, so we shouldn't react "hysterically" to requests or demands to remove content.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I honestly think on the whole, the wikipedian general approach to BLPs has been the right and ethical one. I do not think good wikipedians act irresponsibly in a culpable way in this regard. The real problem is one of maintainability, and has to do with the sheer number of articles we have on wikipedia that deal with real live people. I do not think the correct approach is to go out on a deletion spree zapping all but the very very very famous people from wikipedia. In the moderately near future, I have great hopes that software improvements will significantly improve our ability to keep a watchful eye on these types of articles. I am thinking specifically such things as the flagged revisions experiment on the German Wikipedia, and the various patrolled edits trials that are on multiple wikipedias, which will streamline simple vandalism from being visible, and ease the maintainability burden, making better use of the good faith pairs of eyes we *do* have looking at these things.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Thank you PM for presenting this question. I am aware that BLPs are a major at en.wiki. I for one have signed the responsible BLP editing pledge. I've also supported altering the default AFD result in no-consensus BLP AFDs at en.wiki and maintained a broad view of what constitutes a BLP article.

However, the Foundation is a service provider, not a publisher. It gives the various technical resources it does not give them content policies or regulate the types of content. For this reason I would not support a Foundation imposed BLP policy. For instance, how would Wikiquote present a page on Charles Manson without creating an unduly negative view? Therefore, I think the way the Foundation could encourage more responsible BLP presentation is twofold.

One, it can follow the method it used in EDP relating to copyrighted content. Under that policy it said that if projects want to use copyrighted materials, they must adopt and be in compliance with an EDP policy meeting minimum legal requirements. Commons does not have any copyrighted material and therefore would not need an EDP policy. En.wp uses copyrighted material and created a detailed 10 point NFCC policy.

My second point would be to support making the OTRS system more easily accessible. Providing a direct web form to OTRS in MediaWiki would reduce the learning curse required to report BLP issues.

I believe Wikipedia does not contain a significant level of defamatory material, to the extent that clicking on the Random Page link is unlikely to produce libelous entries on a regular basis. However, at the end of the day content regulation is a matter for the communities and ultimately their editors to decide. The Foundation should though require communities that deal with BLPs to devise some minimum standards, such as that unsourced BLP material should be removed on sight. Thank you again for asking this insightful question.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
To answer your second question, I am unfortunately certain that Wikipedia does contain significant levels of defamatory material - and this is a disappointing factor, and one that will prevent the use of Wikipedia as a primary, reliable source of information. This material is not widespread, however, but is restricted mainly to high-profile cases and people (such as those in the news currently) - but these are the ones that get picked up on. This is, therefore, one of my main priorities for working on, not only in Wikipedia, but in all projects, to ensure that the facts are present and BLPs (as well as other mentions of LPs) are handled correctly and with the proper discretion, where necessary. The current system is good - but rather than sticking steadfastly I believe that we can learn a lot and improve the process by listening to feedback from others, not just the board.

My proposals for improving the BLP "issues" include Flagged Revisions, which would prevent a vandal from displaying their vandalism of a BLP article to everyone in the world (of course, this would need to be fleshed out). But overall, I believe it is down to the communities to create and implement the policies that work best for their community, rather than the board impose something controversial that has the potential to hinder rather than help.

Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
I believe that our diligence in dealing with BLP issues has been quite good, and pro-active, so I'm generally confident that the amount of defamatory material remains low. To improve the situation further, I would support a place (perhaps a sub-page or the talk page) where article subjects themselves could help with the accuracy of the article. That also requires distinguishing between defamation and inaccuracy; the latter can be fixed without much fuss with the help of the subject.

I should perhaps suggest that those who want "tangible improvements" describe their yardstick. These improvements are far more difficult to quantify in circumstances where there already is a high degree of compliance.

Ryan Postlethwaite
BLP's are of course an important issue on the encyclopedia side of the foundations operations – it’s probably gives the biggest threat of bad press and publicity which can be seriously damaging to our reputation. On a personal note, I think we need to listen to complaints by the subjects of these articles – OTRS volunteers should strive to make our subjects happy, but they must be careful not to go against core policies such as NPOV and verifiability.

From a foundation perspective, a resolution could well help to ease some of the battles that are often seen on the biographical pages. Something as simple as “all statements made in biographical articles must be referenced with highly reliable sources and anything remotely unreliable must be removed on sight”. This would no doubt help to reinforce our BLP policies on wiki and give another tool for the users who work hard to enforce our BLP guidelines, who often have to deal with a lot of abuse because of what they do.

I would say however that I don’t particularly think it’s a good thing for the board to be getting involved with editing guidelines/policies. It’s up to the individual projects to come up with their own editing policies and wherever possible, the board should offer help and advice in setting these up, rather than instruct.

Samuel Klein
(Sj)
BLPs and biographies in general will always be sensitive subjects, by their nature can hard to verify and targets for both malicious fabrication and false claims of slander by the subject and supporters. Setting of good editorial policy is the province of the projects. The Foundation should help by improving infrastructure for finding and broadcasting BLP problems, including making OTRS more scalable; and by asking individual projects to set up thoughtful policies that devote extra attention to these articles.

Wikipedia certainly contains some defamatory material at a given moment; our goal should be to minimize how easy it is to contribute and how long it remains.

Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
To answer your second question first, I am quite certain that English Wikipedia, and very likely other projects as well, do contain significant levels of defamatory material. OTRS isn’t enough of a solution, because it can only take action once the subject notices the problem, by which time the material may have spread to Google’s cache and any number of mirrors. On English Wikipedia, I've supported a variety of proposals to address this problem (including your opt-out proposal) and proposed one of my own as well. All were rejected as having no consensus, despite most thinking editors realizing that some action needs to be taken. There are two major reasons for this: first, "consensus" as interpreted at English Wikipedia is, for controversial decisions with high participation, an unreachably high threshold, since a few tenacious editors can scuttle any proposal. Second, it takes some effort to make editors realize that these problems exist, and every time one group of editors, a new group comes along and you have to start all over.

Policy development by consensus doesn’t allow significant changes on large projects. This is why I'm proposing Foundation-imposed policy committees for our largest projects. That way, there will be a group of editors responsible for paying attention to policy problems and a mandate to fix them. I favour leaving the composition and specific powers of these committees up to the communities, but I think the Foundation is the only entity with the clout to step in and end the governance morass in the largest communities.

I believe that these committees will develop solutions to our BLP problems. Only if they failed or if I failed in my efforts to convince the rest of the Board to impose them would I support direct intervention by the Board, taking care to safeguard our section 230 immunity and to involve the affected communities extensively.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
Wikipedia is an open project. Open projects are vulnerable to vandalisms. I take the input of defamatory materials as one sort of vandalism, though a very bad sort, because it attacks personality of Unconcerned. We have to deal with daily vandalisms, so we have also to deal with this.

I want to answer your second question at first. I personally don't think there is a high level of this sort of vandalism. But we don't know. I think this is a field where we need concrete data. I mentioned in my candidate statement collaborations with university and other research institutes. This could be a good topic for a research work: How much intentional input of defamatory material do we really have. Is there difference between the percentage and grade between different language version (especially between english and german), and if there is, what are the reasons for the defference (rules, community, more intensive admin works, or what else?) and what we can learn from these reasons. We need more knowledge here. Better knowledge means better decision and better contermeasures.

I don't think we can wholy eliminate such vandalisms, unless we turn the project into a closed project, what would mean the death of Wikipedia in my eyes. But we can install more faster responses if cases get know. This is one of the few issue which I think the Foundation should be able to directly meddle into the projects. To order the project admins to delete certain changes. In the few cases I know in the zh-wp exactly that happend. These orders should be recorded. If we have no mechanisms here in MediaWiki yet, we should create one. Also I think the local chapters play a very important role in these things. They can report and react more fast and more according to the local law. And this is also why I think the chapters are important. In such cases they can help the Foundation and the Foundation should provide help to them. For Wikipedia versions where there are no chapters until now we can think of someone appointed responsible for such cases.

Overall I don't think this is a really giant problem in Wikipedia. It is spectacular because of media report and legal issues. And it is also not a problem solely related to living person. In Germany a publisher company from cologn sued the german chapter because they think an article contains negative reports about them. But in compare to other vandalisms I believe the number is small. I also think it is a problem that we can handle with our community and chapters while keep Wikipedia open.

Board restructuring[edit]

What is your opinion on the recent restructuring of the board and the petition created in response? Davewild 21:23, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
The Foundation has steadily increased community involvement on all levels, including the Board. The recent addition of chapter appointed seats is an example. I don't see a reduction in representation. To the contrary, the Foundation is not a membership organization, and however, does allocate at least half it's seats to representatives of the communities.
Alex Bakharev
I have signed the petition. I think it is a bad idea to diminish the role of the community of editors, this is the major asset of the project. Besides while the budget of WMF is very small (in millions, mostly spent on the essential costs like hardware, bandwidth and salaries) the potential value of the project measured by the Internet impact is huge (in billions). Large venture capitalists will be (and probably are) trying to influence WMF, the only ones that could not be bought a millions of wikipedia editors. Another point is that while I admire the idea of creation of the local chapters (and participated in the meetings on the creation of Australian chapter) I do not think they should be directly given voice. All people involved in the chapter are active wikipedians and surely involved in the elections like this. No need for separate places for them. It is unclear who would decide which of the many local chapters will be represented. Who is more important Australian chapter or Argentinian? or maybe Austrian or Russian?
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I strongly oppose having fewer community selected seats. The community is what makes the projects valuable. I believe the community should hold the majority of the board seats. The chapter seats while without a doubt are going to community members. The chapters however only represent a small subset of the community. I would prefer to see these seats be selected by the general community rather then the subset served by the chapters.

It is very important that the board have the advice of experts in making decisions. I do not however believe that it is necessary to appoint the experts to the board in order to provide this assistance. The direction of the Wikimedia Foundation should ultimately be determined by the community. A greater effort should also be made to recruit experts from within the community both for the board of trustees and the Advisory Board.

I am very disappointed with the way the board handled the restructuring. This proposal radically changed the governance of the foundation, but there was little consultation with the community before announcing that it would happen. The chapters vary so much in structure, representativeness and formality that it requires careful planing in order to fairly select people for the chapter seats. This careful planing does not appear to have been done. It feels a lot like the board just rushed into this without considering the practicalities of managing it or the way in which the community would react.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I am a signer of the community petition, and have been vocal on the mailing lists in terms of my concerns with the board restructuring. While I support and approve of the chapters getting a role in the board governance, and the establishing of clearly delineated seats for community members and "outsiders", I feel this move was conducted in a way that was to the detriment of the community. There was not enough consultation with members of the community or the advisory board before hand. The roles of the chapters in determining their seats were not defined. The issue of which seats constitute the community seats was not immediately answered. And the creation of a seat-for-life for Jimbo that serves no purpose other than to guarantee him a potential spot on the board and disappears if he does not stand for trusteeship, is something I have very mixed feelings about.

I believe the board should have approached this in a more thoughtful, more measured way, and delayed taking action if there were insufficient plans for how to properly implement the steps. As a trustee, one of my priorities would be to work closely with the chapters and community members to determine their role on the board: the chapters with regards to their two seats, and the community as a whole with regards to defining itself and its effect on the foundation.

With regard to the weight of expert outsiders vs. non-expert community members -- we certainly have members within our community that have the relevant legal, financial, or technical qualifications to sit on the board. We should only be bringing outsiders in when we cannot find an appropriate member from within the community. This means that we need to step up the job of enticing members of the community to volunteer their time (in any position). That said, I think it is irresponsible to put people on the board without at rudimentary understanding of financial, legal and technical qualifications. It should not be required that board members be experts in those fields (though that's obviously quite helpful) but they should at least be competent in more than one of them. One of the biggest risks to Wikimedia's future is losing the community's voice. I intend, as a trustee, to ensure that the community always has that voice, not just nominally, but an effective voice.

Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Once the Foundation Board has demonstrated that it adheres to a durable example of excellence and ethics in online media, then it probably has the authenticity to begin taking on more responsibility and relieving the volunteer community of those aspects of due care.

Frankly, though, I have not seen to date a resounding example of excellence and ethics nurtured at the Foundation Board level; therefore, I think it was premature for the Board to restructure in a way that assumes an authenticity of care it has not yet earned. I am also highly suspicious of the "Community founder" position. Isn't it ironic that the Wikipedia community is at odds with the so-called "sole founder's" interpretation of who actually founded Wikipedia? Constructing a Board seat on such a sandy foundation promises to be unstable in the future.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
I do not think that the restructuring is a very drastic step or necessarily a negative one. It may turn out to be a smart and natural move. My view on the subject is as follows:
  • the foundation's primary asset are the thousands of community members for whom the foundation's projects are a hobby and a delight
  • the foundation is a kind of "grassroots" movement, and this has always been one of its dominant characteristics, and should always remain so, with the community at the core of the foundation in all respects (this is why I signed the petition)
  • the two "chapter seats" are representative of the community much like the directly elected community seats. Universal suffrage gives an advantage to the bigger communities. The chapter seats might balance this built-in advantage.
  • the balance between expert seats and non-expert seats is quite right. For sure, a growing foundation needs experts in corporate governance. When applicable, it would best to appoint experts who are themselves wikimedians, or at least deeply familiar with the foundation before they begin their term.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
The people who are "shocked, shocked" by the idea of Jimbo being given a permanent status within the board, are failing to consider (perhaps out of lack of perspective) the quite astonishing work he did in getting wikipedia successfully off the ground at all. Let no one mislead you; Wikipedia could quite easily have crashed and burned, had it not been for Jimbos endless patience with pacifying and community building in the early days. That wikimedia has successfully transcended Jimbo is a testimonial to the greatness of his achievement. Jimbo will never be just another wikimedian. That will never happen.

As to chapter elected seats; I have to say if I had been asked my view about them beforehand, I would have been highly sceptical, and in fact I think I did say that, in one forum or another, at the time. It smacks of particularism, and imbalance between the various interests at work improving wikimedia. If the chapters use their franchise wisely, I will swallow any criticism I might have about the purely theoretical structure of the franchise. The one justification for it I can get behind, is that chapters folks will be a bunch of wise people, more so than the average editor. If that is borne out in their decisions, I will have no reason to cry foul; but will openly admit that for purely practical reasons the choice was an acceptable one. Not ideal, but workable.

Likewise the members appointed by the board itself. The board will be wise, if it avoids making appointments that will draw criticism. The appointment of Stu West was notable in how unnotable it was; no significant flak was drawn, and hopefully all the other appointments will be as uncontroversial. I see little benefit in "drawing the devil on the wall" (the finnish term for borrowing trouble) about all the ways the board could botch things in their appointments, but admonish all current members, and promise personally if elected, to consider the responsibility of appointing board members as a very weighty one indeed, never to be taken lightly.

As for the "community petition", I found it remarkably vague, inflammatory, unuseful and very very premature. While the board really has to up its game in justifying the moves it makes, it is worth remembering that while you can lead a horse to water, you can't force it to drink. Individual board members will always have the option to only act within the board, not representing their choices to the best of their ability towards the community. This is a feature, not a bug. But a wise board member will be forthcoming, because communication will enchance their influence, not reduce it, in the long run. I believe this with every fiber of my being.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I have followed the board restructuring issue and the community petition in response to it. While I applaud the extension of board seats to include the Chapter network, a vital part of the Wikimedia community, I am concerned with the reduction of community representation from the projects. Also, I recognize the importance of a Board adequately advised by relevant field experts, but I believe a similar end could have been achieved without reducing community involvement.

For instance, the Beta Alpha Psi Honor Fraternity has an international board of directors, advised by experts on an Advisory Forum (similar to our Advisory Board and assisted in its mission by a group of organizations who hold membership in the Associate group. In such a way, it is able to maintain its focus on financial information education, while still including relevant experts and supporting organizations in an official manner.

Another model I would have investigated is the German model, which includes boards consisting of employees and boards of management in making decisions. A board consisting of topical experts or of donors who have made restricted gifts under the donor advised funds provision of US tax law, who would advise the primary WMF board is something I would like to see further discussion on.

A final model would be that maintained by NYU, with a Board of Trustees who make decisions, and a Board of Life Trustees who attend all the meetings, but do not vote.

I am glad to see the Board is open to altering its governance structure, but I would prefer that it have asked the communities for ideas, before implementing a resolution. Having more individuals present ideas creates more outcomes to choose from and can lead to solutions a single individual has not thought of.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I do not see the restructure as harmful or potentially limiting. I respect the communities for making it clear to the board that many were not comfortable or happy with the change. The restructure opens up a wider variety of input onto the board - from those in the Specialist seats, and those in the Chapter appointed seats. I see a large potential for a more diverse decision making process, that will have learnt from any previous mistakes and will now listen to the community rather than subvert it.

I do believe that the Chapters need to make the right decisions in deciding who to appoint to the two Chapter seats - and by that I do not believe it should be an autocratic decision or internal vote. Chapters, in my opinion, are there to serve the needs of the communities, and to that extent should solicit community votes to decide who should be appointed as chapter representatives. Of course, this is, ultimately, down to the chapters.

I see further potential for the expansion of the foundation with ideologies such as Advisory boards, which would not only improve the decision making process of the board, but also allow greater input from all areas of all communities - something which I am determined to implement if elected.

Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
While I am sympathetic to much of what is said in that petition, I chose not to sign it. This is mostly because I have felt that my long standing support for a Wikicouncil would put me in a position where it would seem that Council and Board were in competition with each other. That such a petition, which at the moment has 125 signatures, including many from persons with a very high degree of commitment to Wikimedia and its projects, is a significant warning to the Board that traditional techniques of non-profit governance are open to question.

The proposal itself put the cat among the pigeons, it brought into focus much of what is wrong with current governance. To be specific:

  1. The principle that chapters should be represented is good, but this should not be a part of the official Board structure until the chapters have sought representation, and have provided a model for how that representation will be decided.
  2. Having all three community seats decided together in alternate years may very well obviate the need for annual elections, but we have experienced Erik's resignation during the first year of his two year term. If that were to happen again would we need to wait for more than a year before that vacancy is filled?
  3. While I don't mind reserving a few seats for expertise appointments, those needs need to be identified rather than speculated. All appointed seats should be linked to a specific expertise need. That need would not apply if an elected Trustee is willing and able to fulfill it.
  4. I have no problem with Jimbo holding a supernumerary seat. He is unique in the history of Wikipedia. If for any reason he chooses to no longer be on the Board that position would not be refilled.
Ryan Postlethwaite
I’m personally fully against the resolution to limit the number of community endorsed people on the board. It’s paramount that the community is given a full voice and that means having a number of people elected by the projects that the board oversees. I respect that as the foundation grows, great expert input must be sort, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the volunteers that make the project what it is today. I would put the reversal of the resolution as a key priority should I be elected. I would in fact like to propose more input from the individual projects; I’d like to see committees set up for each project (Wikipedia, Commons, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquotes, Wikinews, Wikisources) that would report back to the board every quarter to represent their individual community views. As far as external expertise is concerned, I think consultancy roles could work better rather than board places, and that’s certainly an idea I’d explore.

With regards to giving individual chapters a voice on the board, I have mixed feelings. On a positive, they’re still community members, and I approve anything that gives the community members a greater voice. The negative aspect comes from the fact that these users are not directly elected by the wider Wikimedia community – approval would be from a small subset of the community and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing.

I think the community would be best served by the continuation of the Advisory Board, with more “experts” being placed on it, freeing up the board for more community input. I do however think it’s important that the board do recognise the opinion of the Advisory Board – they know the specifics in their field and their experience is invaluable to us.

Samuel Klein
(Sj)
The Board should never again alter the Bylaws or change its own structure without public discussion. That this is possible under the current bylaws is a loophole that needs to be closed. Currently, a Board quorum can effect a change in the founding documents with no public notice and with only 10 days' notice to other Board members.

The loss of the community majority on the Board, so recently gained, was a real blow; it should be restored. While we currently have a representative Board, it has unwittingly taken the first steps towards a Board whose majority is unaccountable to the community. We could now end up with a biased Board majority that perpetuates itself -- being empowered to appoint the next year's majority, and at times to veto publicly chosen Board members, with no recourse for even a preponderance of community members to change matters.

Considering how completely the projects' contributors now depend on the Board's goodwill to sustain even the most basic processes, such as dump creation, feed provision, backups and server uptime, the community should have more direct input into Foundational deliberations, not less -- certainly until there are solutions to these long-term needs that are robust to fluctuations in alignment of the Board and the community.

The switch from annual community elections to biannual elections limits the regular refreshing of community values on the Board, and is emblematic of the hasty way in which the latest Bylaws change was effected.

As for the identification of "expert" seats on the Board, this is inferior to an active and explicit Advisory Board, of which more is expected and to which more responsibility is given. The Board is not currently utilizing much of the knowledge and interest of our extraordinary community to inform and address the problems and opportunities it faces, and this is the obvious first place to look as our new position as a bastion of free knowledge becomes clear.

Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
Reduction of the proportion of community reps: I strongly support this, because the Foundation does not belong to the community, and should not be primarily accountable to the community. Community members are major stakeholders in the Foundation's activities, but so are our readers, our subjects, our donors, and the broader public. Although it's not feasible for all of these groups to elect their own directors, it's important to get people on the Board whose perspective on the Foundation and its projects isn't that of contributor. I would actually like to see us aim big with these positions, getting people who not only have great expertise but also PR value and fundraising connections; the board needs more people with Wikipedia articles and not Wikipedia accounts.

Chapter reps: I can't pass final judgment on these until I see a process for how they're appointed and on what basis they're going to be selected. I would be strongly opposed to them becoming de facto unelected community reps, for the reasons above.

Community founder: If the intent of this position is to give Jimbo a de facto lifetime seat on the board, I oppose it.

Petition: I didn't sign it because it wasn't clear to me exactly what it was asking for. If it was only expressing frustration at the lack of communication, I endorse it (I have found communication from the board to the community to be lacking in general; for example, when the Foundation communications committee created that awful "Wikipedia is not Wikia" template and dropped it on Wikipedia articles about Wikia and Wikimedia, I contacted one of the community reps on the board to ask whether the committee was acting with the authority of the board, but did not receive a response). On the other hand, if the petition is intended to demand parity of community representation with other representation, I can't support it for the reasons above.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
First of all, I think the community is the most important part of all WikiMedia-projects. Nupedia was the Wikipedia without community, and Nupedia died. Without the community there is no Wikipedia, nor any other projects. Second I am against the idea of the 'Specific expertise' seats. If the board think it is lacking of certain specific expertise, it can build a committee and sought help from experts through this way, but these experts don't need to be a member of the board. These seats are undemocratic and they are the best way to open doors for nepotism. The core spirit of all WikiMedia-project is its openness and its neutrality. Until now, the community is its best guarantee of this core spirit. Appointed Experts can have their own interests. And they can later appoint peoples that represent their interests and oppinions, and the community would have no way to control and change that. Also, organisations can buy or set presure on members to get people of their interest appointed as member. But the community cannot be baught or pressured, even by the mightiest organisations. WikiMedia is an organisation of the community, without the community all projects die. So I advocate and when ever possible vote for a board with only members from the community and from the chapters.

I want to say one thing about the chapters here. Chapters are local organisations of community members. WikiMedia is an international organisation, but its root is everywhere, in all the countries of the world, even in countries like China. The chapters are our link to the organisations and authorities there, so they have a very important function. That is why in my opinion they deserve representation on the board.

Candidates' content contributions to Wikimedia[edit]

While matters of internal bureaucracy are necessary for something like the Wikimedia Foundation, it is still important to remember the the actual purpose of the foundation's many projects. What, in terms of pure content, have you contributed to Wikimedia in the past, and how would this be affected by your being appointed to the board? giggy (:O) 12:32, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
You are free to investigate my user contribution lists. If you've found a pattern, please tell me.
Alex Bakharev
Take a look into en:User:Alex Bakharev some of my contributions to English wikipedia are mentioned there (more than 450 new articles, many on DYK level, 30+K edits on enwiki, more than 1K image uploads to commons, etc.). I am also daily patrolling the new articles related to the Russian history and are trying to mediate (sometimes in vain) contentious disputes over Eastern European issues. Realistically, the rate of my contribution will decrease if I elected, but I would still continue as I enjoy it greatly).
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
The bulk of my contributions have been to the English language Wikinews. I have 60+ published articles (a full list can be found on my Wikinews user page) and over 9,000 edits there. I also create the Wikinews Print Edition. The print edition is a PDF version of the day's Wikinews articles and selected content from the other projects. I have produced it almost every day since May 2005. Though I am mostly a wikignome on the English Wikipedia, I have written a handful of articles. I also have a few dozen photos on commons and a lot of small contributions on the other English projects. I spoke at Wikimania 2007 and will likely again at 2008.

It would be completely unrealistic to say being elected to the board would have no effect on my contributions. I however take my commitments to the projects very seriously and will do everything I can to balance the new responsibilities of a board member with my existing commitments to the Wikimedia projects. If I am elected, the Wikinews Print Edition will continue to come out daily (or near daily), and I will continue to contribute to the projects. The goals of the Wikimedia Foundation are very important to me, so I will dedicate the time that is necessary to ensure that I can fulfill my responsibilities as a board member and continue to contribute to the projects.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I have submitted quite a few high resolution pictures to Commons, and continue to do so whenever I get the chance to go out and do more photography. I have written several Good Articles and DYK's for English Wikipedia, as well as recently a significant collaboration on a featured article. I tend to focus on U.S. Supreme Court Cases, and military history related topics for my article editing. Some of my photography under a free license on commons has been featured in the "Cresset" magazine, from Valparaiso University, and a commercial picture-geomap. In working on the board, my editing, article writing, and photography will not decrease, since I keep them at an easily maintainable rate.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
About 60% of my total Wikimedia activity has been in Main space on English Wikipedia; about 30% in Talk and Wikipedia space; and the remaining 10% in spaces on other Wikimedia projects. Recently, I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the articles that I ever created (ab initio) for English Wikipedia, and then check User:Henrik's traffic tool to see how many people per month (February 2008) visit each article.

My volunteer work helped to assure at least some improvement in the user experience of tens of thousands of annual visitors to Wikipedia. And what did I get for it? Blocked from editing Wikipedia. Some articles I created, in order of creation date:

Avia (not only my first article, but my first edit) - viewed 2,031 times in February
Kohs - viewed 569 times
Jacobson Stores - viewed 362 times
Carolina Ardohain - viewed 5,116 times
Russell Weigley - viewed 198 times
Spiraling - viewed 285 times
Kohs block - viewed 457 times
Tom Brislin - viewed 223 times
Czech Air Force - viewed 3,295 times
Baywood Greens - viewed 122 times
Resorts Atlantic City (the article that inspired me to conceive of MyWikiBiz.com) - viewed 955 times
Nemours Foundation - viewed 340 times
KidsHealth - viewed 213 times
Omnibus (survey) - viewed 353 times
Markov strategy - viewed 93 times

Of course, I've also made hundreds of smaller edits within existing articles. I also created about 10 articles released on my own website under GFDL terms, which were authored in exchange for payment to MyWikiBiz. These articles were then copied into Wikipedia by unpaid editors who found them to be suitable for Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales issued these terms of business practice to me in August 2006, but he rescinded them in October of that year. I am not disclosing these specific articles, because every time I have (see the interesting case of Arch Coal, an unpaid "test" article, as an example), nothing but trouble has ensued.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
I like your question, because it's really easy to dive into the whole drama of the foundation as a kind of bureaucratic state and forget what's at its core, free knowledge and information. My main activity has been on the Hebrew-language wikipedia. It was still very young when I joined it, so there were many gaping holes to close. My expertise in our local community has been with:
  • German-related issues, mainly German literature, with an inclination towards German Jewish culture. I have written a few featured articles (Heinrich Heine, Richard Wagner), usually starting with the German-language article and expanding or modifying it based on my own knowledge.
  • Consulting other writers in German matters, especially transliteration issues which are a recurring problem.
  • Special "content-generating projects" such as writing competitions and quality offensives. I became somewhat of an expert in starting and running such projects on the Hebrew wikipedia. Writers need this change of atmosphere and the fun of working together in a concentrated effort on some topic.
  • Some other special projects I initiated on he.wp were a reader satisfaction survey and a real-world poster exhibition about Wikipedia that was displayed in many different locations.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I am a very *average* content creator. I hope you don't mind me putting it in those terms. I am not a stahanovian hero of any project, and I dabble in many, but yet, my contributions are not merely occasional. Though I did make some forays into the policy formation side of wikimedia in the early days, and still do my bit to keep watch on some minor sides of that, particularly on the Finnish wikipedia, with regard to deletions, my heart has always been with tinkering, wordsmithing, and adding knowledge. On the english wikipedia there is at least one legitimate article that likely would not be there, had I not begun it, so perhaps it is fitting I choose it as an example (it is btw on a subject completely unknown to Encyclopaedia Britannica). That article is on the en:Walhalla-orden a clandestine society where the first ideas of Finnish national independence were hatched, Another one that is largely my handwriting is the article on Finnish folk sayings on Wikiquote. I have avoided getting into controversy, and I can't think of very very very few edits, if any, I have done in the past, that I feel I could not have done while on the board of trustees. So no, in short, there should not be any expectation of board trusteeship significantly affecting my editing.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Well, at en.wp, I've created 91 new articles from original creations and large page splits, as well as 94 redirect pages to ease navigation. I've got a DYK under my belt. By one of my primary areas of work has been keeping our image content. So far I've fixed 5,000+ images tagged for deletion for improper licensing rationales. So in that sense, I've help keep content that would have automatically been bot deleted. I've also uploaded a couple images to commons and performed basic copyedits/spelling corrections on about 4,000 articles. So my main contributions have been maintaining and improving existing content, while still creating (and intending to continue) new content.

I don't see my election decreasing my content contribution because of the strong staff the Board has put in place in San Fransisco. The Board should no longer be involved on a day to day basis with operations because we have an executive director for that. So while I would need to dedicate a great deal of time to Board activities, I expect and plan on maintaining my ~2,000 edits a month historical trend.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
My home project is at Wikinews, where I have (a relatively small) 1,750 edits in all namespaces at time of writing. I have approximately 30 published articles, and a variety of Spoken Wikinews articles. I also ran a bot for a short period that amassed 2853 edits on Wikinews. I have also contributed a variety of photos to Commons. It would be naive of me to say that my contributions will not be affected by my board position, however I hope to limit the impact it has to a minimum and continue contributing to the projects, especially my home project.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
A Board member can keep himself grounded by contributing to his chosen project(s). In the forseeable future I plan to continue my contributions to Wikisource. I have a large personal book collection with plenty that I would love to share. When the material is not particularly controversial it can be a relaxing experience.
Ryan Postlethwaite
With respect to content, I’ll happily admin that I’m no Giano. I’ve created a number of pages, en: Football refereeing in England is probably my favourite because it’s close to my heart. I have however written two featured portals on the English Wikipedia (en:Portal:England and en:Portal:Tennis) which I update each month. I’m proud of those portals because they get a good number of hits each month and help new contributors start editing. One thing I would say however is that there are many other valuable tasks that our editors to that aren’t direct content additions – without these tasks, the projects wouldn’t be as reliable as they are today.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
I have contributed most extensively to the English Wikipedia, and have been the third most active contributor to Meta, with another 7k edits -- including a large number of pages dedicated to translation, communication, long-term planning and outreach. I am an accredited Wikinews reporter, and have contributed technology articles there; along with original articles, photographs, and interviews for the Wikimedia Quarto while it was published. Other contributions include original Nahuatl texts to multilingual Wikisource, texts on the English Wikibooks, core terms for the Swahili Wikipedia while it was getting off the ground, and sections of the 2005 and 2006 wikimania wikis. I have cleared rights on the photographs and works of other groups for inclusion in the projects, including the Whole Earth Catalog and a catalog of name pronunciations from the Voice of America.

As a Board member, I expect my contributions would continue in all of these projects, with motivation to increase contribution on the smaller projects and in other languages to develop a better rounded understanding of individual projects.

Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
The vast majority of my content contributions have been on the English Wikipedia, although I've uploaded some images to the Commons and made some minor edits at the French Wikipedia as an IP. I've generated a bunch of new articles and brought many others up from stubs to well-cited B class articles. I only have one Good Article (an English Wikipedia designation for well-written and well-cited articles that aren't of featured article calibre) under my belt so far, but I have another one that's been awaiting review for quite some time and a few more that are likely ready to pass, but which I've held off submitting until I get a better handle on the process. I haven't yet written a featured article, though I'm working on my first (about former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau) off-wiki; I hope to have it ready for peer review sometime in early June.

I don't think my election to the board would appreciably affect my content contributions. When I was made an admin, I was concerned that I might start hanging around exclusively in the Wikipedia space and stop contributing content, but that hasn't happened. Indeed, whenever wiki-politics are feeling especially frustrating or stupid, I go on mainspace sprees that remind me of why I got involved in the first place.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
I am one of the most productive contributers on the zh-wp. I wrote a lot of articles or improved them from stub. I cannot tell you how many articles I have improved or have created because I don't do statistics of that sort. You can check my contributions here. I am also one of the guys on zh-wp who do the most image license check and copyvio check. Until bots get more reliable, I also do a lot of interwiki links, but still sometimes I correct manually false interwiki checks nowaday. I also contribute on the de-wp. Here mostly doing small error corrections and translation of excellent articles from zh-wp. Here is the reference to my contributions there. I also work on commons for translations. On the 2005 WikiMania in Frankfurt in Germany I took part of a panel and introduced the chinese Wikipedia community. I helped organise the 2007 WikiMania in Taipei. And I would be a speaker on this years WikiMania in Alexandia.

Continued contribution & representation of unfamiliar projects[edit]

Involvement at board level has, in the past, seen many people become almost non-contributors on their home projects. Are you confident you can continue to contribute to your "home" project if elected? Do you believe this introduces any degree of conflict? Do you believe you can do so and not be seen to favour one project over another? --Brian McNeil / talk 09:57, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
I contribute to a project whenever I feel like to contribute anything. There will be no conflict and in my opinion Board members should not get involved in matters to be handled by project administrators or OTRS teams. I'm not going to favor any project over another.
Alex Bakharev
I will continue to contribute though probably at slower rate. I do not see any conflicts of interests here. Most of the editorial conflicts I was ever involved in do not go to WMF level. On the other hand I have been in the situation of possible conflicts of interests as an editor and as an admin and I believe i have handled them well.

I believe I am a reasonably typical wikipedian in regarding to the projects: mostly work on our flagship en:wiki with interests to language wikis, commons, etc. I do not have much exposure to other WMF projects like WikiNews (thous has written an article there), WikiVersity, WikiBooks, WikiDictionary, Meta but I appreciate those projects and I could not imagine myself sacrificing that project to advance enwiki. I guess if there will be a situation of a COI on an issue I will recuse myself.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
As I mentioned in the above question, I expect my contributions to be affected by being elected. I am however confident that I will continue to be an active contributor if elected. I believe a close relationship with the communities is critical to serving as a board member. This relationship is best formed by contributing to the communities. There are obvious limitations that prevent board members from contributing at a high level to all of the Wikimedia Foundation projects. A board member should despite these limitations try to remain an active participant in the communities. I will continue to produce the Wikinews print edition, participate in community discussion, preform bureaucrat tasks on Wikinews, and create content. I will not disappear from the projects.

I care about all of the Wikimedia Foundation projects. I believe the sister projects are being underrepresented. I would like to help the sister project feel they have a voice in the affairs of the Wikimedia Foundation. I will advocate for the concerns not just of my home project of Wikinews, but for the concerns of all of the projects. I do not have any intention of ignoring the English Wikipedia, nor any other project. The English Wikipedia is what allowed all of this to be possible, and ignoring it would be counter productive. The sister projects while lacking the size of Wikipedia are rapidly developing into excellent resources. They need the continued support of the board to continue to grow and develop. I would like to be part of a board that provides this support.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
Based on the stated role of the board, there is no degree of conflict involved in continuing to contribute to your home project. Board members should be focusing on things that effect the foundation as a whole, not officially interfering with the day to day operations of the projects. This gives them freedom to continue to edit without conflicts. I do not anticipate a drop in my activity. I would, however, anticipate that I carefully consider my activity on my various projects to reflect what would be the most effective and best use of my time. So my contributions would neither increase nor decrease, but simply get better.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Upon election to the Board, I anticipate no increase or decrease in my current on-project activity, which is virtually nil.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
These are of course questions I asked myself before posting my candidacy. I guess if I'm elected to the board:
  • it would necessarily cause me to be less present in my home project. I don't see a way around that. I think in such a case I would like to become something like a regular editor there, back to bare-bones article writing, and would probably have to forsake my more managerial tasks as one of our three bureaucrats (and a checkuser).
  • a small local community that suddenly has "its own" board member might not like this board member intervening locally under his new hat too often, it may pose some problems. So a certain "stepping back" in the home community might even be advisable, in order to let it preserve its autonomy.
  • as for being seen as favoring the home project, I think this is the smaller of the risks you raised. If anything, then being able to see the foundation through the smaller and medium-sized projects, and not through the (perhaps distorting?) lens of the English wikipedia, is an advantage that can add to the plurality of views that the board needs. I certainly don't see myself as a representative of the home project, if elected, but rather of the community of editors everywhere.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I have had extensive periods when I have - for various reasons - mainly edited as an anonymous IP (and never cried foul! on-wiki, if blocked or reverted - though those times have stinged ;-). If elected to the board, I doubt I would go that far, but I might retreat into a sort of wikignoming stance, mostly editing spelling, grammar and punctuation stuff, etc. small potatoes editing. I have pretty much given up hope of ever wrangling anything through to FA status anyhow, with the way the standards there keep climbing. Those also serve, who do the more menial tasks on-wiki.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
As I said above, Board involvement should not equate to a decrease in participation with the home (or any project). Board duties are broad and strategic. They do not include day to day operational duties. So I do not forsee my contributions to en.wp decreases. I do however suspect that my level of contributions to other projects (and possibly other languages), will increase. Additionally, they are one of the faces of the Foundation, and I would expect to participate in venues such as the Wikipedia Weekly or The Signpost, and their equivalents in other projects and languages.

You are correct though that being a Board member creates issues of COI. Board members must be careful not to throw their weight around on projects for their own aims, or to interfere with actions taken by the Foundation staff. Related to my position as an admin and BAGer at en.wiki, I maintain a recall page and a COI page page detailing that I should be held accountable if I use my positions of trust to bully other users and declaring issues on which I may not be totally impartial.

If elected, I would adopt a system similar to at Erik's at en.wiki, that unless he says otherwise, he is just a regular editor and only if he specifically says he is acting as a Board member, should his actions be interpreted as such. If elected I will probably resign as one of the co-coordinators of Admin coaching and not seek a seat on the Mediation committee, to reduce the appearance of a conflict.

While my main interest has been at en.wiki, as a Board member, I would be responsible for looking over the interests of all our projects, of which en.wiki is one. If anything en.wiki, with its developed community and policies needs less board attention, while developing projects need greater board input and support in order to gain traction and grow. Thank you for this insightful question.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
As stated above, it would be naive of me to believe that my election to the Board will not impact my editing, however I hope to limit this as far as possible in order to continue contributing to the projects in an editing capacity, as well as serving the needs of the communities on the Board.

I believe that there is an under-representation from smaller projects on the Board, and I hope to counteract that and serve the needs of all communities, not just the needs of the English Wikipedia. Having come from a sister project, I can understand the impacts of resolutions and policies that were drafted with Wikipedia at the forefront, and I hope to be able to solicit input from all communities on policies and resolutions that affect them, rather than having to deal with the cleanup afterwards.

Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
In some ways Wikisource is an easier project than most for maintaining contributions and lack of conflict. The debatable issues there are more often matters of format than substance. My contribution rate may suffer from the reduction in available time, but it should not vanish entirely.

I believe in the autonomy of the projects, even though there are some whose scope would not be consistent with what I enjoy doing. It would be unlikely to find me working on them, but I believe that there are very few situations that give rise to the conflicts that you envision. Some may still arise; at that point it would be my obligation to declare my conflict.

Ryan Postlethwaite
I’m extremely confident I will continue to be active on en.wiki. I’m a member of the mediation committee on the English Wikipedia, and I thoroughly hope to continue in that role. I think it’s especially important for a member of the board to keep in touch with the communities, and the only real way to do this is by continuing to contribute. With regards to conflict of interest, I’m not sure there is one – at the end of the day, we’re all working to provide free content to millions of readers around the world so we all have the same key goal in out minds. Whether that be on Commons, Wikinews or any of the other projects, I don’t see me contributing to one will mean I make biased decisions with respect to the other.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
As mentioned above, I would be motivated to contribute more widely across the projects, and across languages other than English, in order to maintain a balanced sense of how others experience our different projects.

As to conflicts, it is important for Board members to both remain active contributors to community discussions and creation, and to clearly separate their roles as contributors and authors from their roles as Board members.

Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I believe that my level of contributions to the English Wikipedia would remain similar to their current level if I were to be elected, although I can't guarantee this (obviously). My time is sort of organized in silos, and I anticipate the Foundation work would come out of the governance silo, not the internet time-wasting silo. It's possible that I'm horrendously naive and that I will have to drastically cut back my content contributions to do the job of trustee properly, in which case I will.

As for the conflict angle, that is a possibility. We all have our biases, and it's only natural to have a preference for projects to which you've given a lot of time over projects with which you've had no involvement. In addressing this, I would say that i. I think the community overestimates the extent to which Foundation decisions have the potential to favour one project over another, and ii. I'm very good at recognizing my biases (in all spheres) and adjusting for them.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
Hello Brian, this is a very good question. I confess I don't know. I considered if I would candidate for the board since the WikiMania in Taipei, when Florence called on her opening speech for more participants of other communities on the board. I talked with many of my colleages in the chinese community. I have a fulltime job, I do a lot of edits on Wikipedia, and naturally I have friends, boyfriend and home. Is it possible that I take another responsibility? I think I can. And I will keep edit zh-wp after I am elected, probably not so much, and probably I would greatly reduce my admin works on zh-wp. But I will remain in contact with the community and the basic works. And I can tell you this now already: If I am elected, I will not recandidate after the two years turn. I hope someone from another community, for example from ru or ar or any other smaller community can take a courage and candidate for this seat. At least then I will resume my pensum of work on the zh- and de-wp again.

Prior finance and non-profit experience[edit]

In your candidate submission statements some of you have described past financial experience. Please elaborate on past work and volunteer experience and education related to finance, whether that be financial analysis, accounting, bookkeeping, or a different field of experience related to finance. Please also briefly elaborate on any work and volunteer experience/positions you have had in non-profit organizations. How do you feel you can apply these past experiences and skills to a Board position with the Wikimedia Foundation? Thank you, Cirt 09:58, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Graduated in Economics and Business Administration at the University Maastricht, Certified Internal Auditor designation from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), over ten years work experience in oversight functions. I'm a director of two privately held (small) investment vehicles.

I've been a secretary of a student association, I've been president of the local Go (Asian Board game) club. I've been on the board of the Dutch Go Association. Operating as a team is key, in my experience, for board effectiveness. Another key for non-profits is openness and transparancy. Not the last key is effective delegation to prevent overburdening the Board with issues that can perfectly well handled by volunteers in projects.

Alex Bakharev
I do not have much of financial experience but I have some successful experience with applications for governmental grants. While I think the financial part of the WMF work is extremely important I think the need to have an input from the editors is important as well especially since there are special places on the board reserved for the specialists (including specialists in finances).
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I have a functional understanding of the basics of nonprofit accounting and tax law, though I have no formal training in these areas. I have been involved with non-profits for a while, though mostly in the role of providing volunteer IT services. I have assisted with the books for a department of a state agency, as well as assisting with basic accounting for other small organizations. Accounting is definitely not my strongest area, but I am confident that I will be able to understand the financial aspects of Wikimedia to the level required of a board member.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I currently oversee a budget of around a half million dollars yearly, as a SBA Senator at my law school. This budget goes towards funding various competing student organizations, as well as publishing our four internationally recognized law reviews, student magazines, law briefs, etc. With regards to non-profit organizations, I am on the board of directors for the Iraq War Veterans Organization and Long War Veterans Organization. IWVO and its parent LWVO, are a national veterans advocacy non-profit with a very large membership. I helped develop the organization from the ground up, and it is now one of the national leaders in supporting Iraq veterans. I come from a family that has extensive experience with non-profits and financial experience. My mother, aunt, and god-mother are CPAs. My parents have served on the Board of Councilors for the Carter Center, as well as numerous other non-profits. As well, my legal studies are taking me into the relevant field as well; this Spring I will be taking "Federal Corporate Income Tax" and "Law of Non-Profit Organizations:Taxation of non-profits".
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I am currently serving on the Board of Directors (Chair of Development Committee) of the Church of the Loving Shepherd, an independent Christian church in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The church's annual budget is near $300,000.

Between 2000 and 2007, I was a Vice President at a marketing research firm with annual revenues near $20 million. Over those years, I grew and managed a research portfolio that rose from about $400,000 per annum to $1.7 million per annum, which included clients like AT&T, Comcast, SunTrust, Vanguard, IBM, and Merrill Lynch.

Between 1995 and 2004, I owned a Delaware S-Corporation called Facts On Call, Inc. (merely a side-business), which had annual revenues of about $4,000 per annum at its peak.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
Admittedly, I do not have direct experience with organizational finances. I have a B.Sc. in mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (summa cum laude) and I'm now at the final stages of a master's degree in math at the same institution. I read the financial press on a regular basis and believe I can understand and evaluate financial information.

I have worked in big organizations -- in the intelligence corps of the Israeli Defense Force, as an intern at Intel and now in a big global software company in Jerusalem. I believe this gave me a lot of insight into how these corporations are run, into staffing, into information exchange between management and workforce, and so on.

For the past year, ever since the founding of the Wikimedia Israel chapter, I have served on its control (audit) board. I believe I made a difference in this role. I warned the chapter's board against some dubious projects they wanted to be involved in, which indeed proved to be potential failures. I recommended in favor of focusing on a limited number of tangible, feasible projects and this approach proved itself, especially in the wandering poster exhibition which is now the chapter's biggest success to date.

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Well, the past semester, even though my chosen track is the Library and Information Sciences one, we have had only one course so far to do with that directly, the rest have been all about accounting, marketing, business correspondence and the like. At the outset I thought I struggled with the material, but as the semester draws to a close (this very week), I have slowly began to find my feet. In fact in a move that I found blush-inducingly flattering, my accounting instructor made an overture, attempting to entice me to switch tracks to Business Administration proper. I have to say I continue to find that prospect remote, and will with a fair degree of certitude stick with Library and Information Science. As for more general interest in economics, I have privately studied economic theory, though on a level that can only be charitably called pedestrian; I had a four year running subscription to The Economist, and regularly bought Fortune magazine for about a year, and continue to read The Economist at our schools library every week. In my youth, I have been active in many hobby related associations, though never in any capacity that even tangentially had to do with those associations finances.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
So I have some experience in non-profits and in finance. For 2.5 years I worked as the part-time assistant to the grants manager at a $350 million/year university. We processed and managed ~80 grants totally $8 million. I primarily reviewed grant applications, prepared budgets, etc. For another year I was the gradaute clerk to the head of an office with 3 federal grants, this involved traditional purchase orders, check requests, etc. I interned at at Big 4 account firm as an accountant in non-profit taxation, and will soon be beginning a similar position full time.

I also have served as vice president of the Delta Pi chapter of the Beta Alpha Psi. We have a $30K annual budget support scholarship for various students. Further, I lead the effort that resulted in our chapter placing second in the regional Strategic Planning competition for expanding the national organization.

Additionally, I hold an MBA in accounting and a BBA in accounting, legal studies, and management. I have a firm grasp of US financial law and accounting regulations, as well as a detailed understanding of the challenges non-profits face in doing business in a global economy dominated by for-profit firms.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I am currently in the examination process for an A-Level in Accounting (with a strongly British tone to it), aside from which I have no further financial or non-profit experience, currently.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
I am a university dropout who has worked as an independent personal tax consultant since 1974. Since 1978 I have dealt with both Canadian and US taxes, and the special problems encountered by individuals who must file in both countries. I spent 10 years on the Board of Directors of a local community society, including a year as treasurer, and more recently on I have been on the Board of a district parents' association including two years as vice-chair.
Ryan Postlethwaite
Unfortuntely, I have no prior experience in finance. I would therefore look at the opinions of the experts that the foundation take advice from and other board members when looking at financial structuring within the foundation. I would however like to explore how the foundation gains it’s funding, and hopefully take a lead role in securing funding from larger corporations/groups/charities so the foundation can have it’s future secured for years to come. With regards to non-profit organisations, I haven’t had any direct experience with them.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
I have been a director of the One Laptop perChild association for the past two years, a fairly high-profile non-profit which has had direct engagement with countries, global foundations, and social responsibility arms of international corporations. I have had the chance to engage with many non-profits as partners, and have seen the impact of their different organizational structures.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I have
  • taken senior-level university courses in accounting (both financial and managerial), organizational analysis, and business law.
  • participated in a workshop put on by the Government of Alberta on the governance of non-profits.
  • spent the last three years as the business manager of a non-profit with an annual budget in excess of half a million dollars.
  • sat on the boards of directors of three different societies (incorporated under the Societies Act of Alberta) each with a budget in excess of a hundred thousand dollars per year and on the board of one for-profit corporation incorporated under the Canada Corporations Act.
  • served as Vice President (Operations and Finance) of the Students' Union, University of Alberta (a statutory corporation with an annual budget in excess of nine million dollars) and then served two years on its de facto board of directors where, among other things, I chaired committees to re-design the organization's budget process and re-evaluate its relationship with various autonomous groups that received money collected under the Students' Union's powers of taxation. During my time there, one observer of student politics called me “one of the University of Alberta’s highest-profile student politicians by virtue of the fact that he actually does stuff.” Here are links to some of the on-campus media coverage of my time in that position: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]
  • been called upon to give presentations to boards of directors on subjects ranging from policy development to chairing meetings, and been brought in to chair contentious general/membership meetings of a variety of different groups.
  • assisted a non-profit with which I had no previous involvement (with a budget of more than a hundred thousand dollars per year) with the preparation of their books for auditing for the last four years.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I had a classical engineer's education and as such, finantial skills was not on the plan. Though my professor always said, it is the responsibility of an engineer to make sure that his project is always affordable. I work in a big international computer company now and I am a first tier worker. That is, I work directly with our customers and very often on site in their company. I have no financial responsibility in my company or in our projects but I am aware that every decision and suggestion I make have financial consequences. I have always handled in the best interest of my company and of our customer. Every year I must do an excercise on financial integrity.

Years ago as a student I was member of a local (Braunschweig, Germany) chess club and as such actively took part on the administration work of the club.

Whenever possible and necessary I would support fund raising efforts of the WMF, and I would put an eye on the financial integrity and transparency of the WMF, but financy issue is not my main interest.

Supporting Wikimania and other events[edit]

How do you think the Foundation can or should best support Wikimania in the future? What about other events? Thank you, phoebe 14:43, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Wikimania is supposed to be the annual conference of Wikimedia, that is nothing less than full support by the Foundation. The Board will be present and is used to organize a board meeting at Wikimania. And, of course, the organizing team will be held responsible to organize the event effectively to cover all cost by fees, sponsors and other income.
Alex Bakharev
I think Wikimania is an important event - it helps to reduce interpersonal tensions and to take important decisions that might otherwise needed months of email exchange. It is also a good publicity stunt. Foundation should support it by their human and organizational resources but should make it self-financed. There are two major problems with Wikimania: most editors (especially living overseas) could not afford to visit it; Wikimania could lead to "outing" users conscious about their anonymity. While the second problem is IMHO unsolvable, the first one can be fixed by placing the event there many wikipedians live. I do not think that Egypt was the best choice as the Wikimania-2008 location. Probably either USA or Europe not very far (less than 200km) from a major international airport would be a more convenient choice.

Another important events are the local meetups. I think there might be a place for some sort of events between the Wikimania and local meetups. I could imagine Australian, Japanese, Russian or North American annual local conference could cause a lot of interest. It might be a job for the local chapters but WMF help can be handy.

Wikimania and Wikimeetups are mostly praying to already converted. I think if we could ensure that major scientific, educational or internet-related events have a boot named Wikipedia or a "Wikipedia writing workshop" it would be great for promoting our project. WMF could help financially as well as by providing some administrative help.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
Real life events are very important to creating a devoted and productive community. I attended and greatly enjoyed both Wikimania 2006 and 2007. Both events were excellent and well run. I look forward to attending Wikimaina 2008. There are a few small areas where additional support from the foundation could have helped, but overall it looks like the foundation's level of support in the past Wikimanias was adequate and should be continued into the future.

Wikimania is a valuable part of the community activities. There are however obvious issues that prevent many Wikimedians from attending. Regional conferences nicely supplement Wikimania. I believe the foundation should provide further support for regional conferences, particularly in areas where there are not chapters. I was a part of the Wikimania Atlanta bid team and the now canceled Conference of the Americas. The Conference of the Americas largely fell apart due to a lack of support from the Wikimedia Foundation. We were unable to find a nonprofit willing to take our donations. The foundation told us that they felt responsible for the final product if they were to handle our donations and they did not feel they had the resources to support both the COTA and Wikimania. I understand the foundation's position and reluctantly support the foundation's stance. The foundation lacked the resources to support it and it would have reflected poorly on Wikimedia if COTA was a disaster. The fact that this situation occurred though is incredible unfortunate. We need to develop a way to ensure the community can hold regional events in chapterless areas without putting the foundation at risk. An additional employee who could focus on real world outreach such as regional conferences, meet-ups, academic events, if funds allowed, I believe would be a good solution.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
Note: I was part of the Atlanta bid team, and COTA team. The foundation needs to be able to support regional meetings, such as COTA, and find a way to be more fiscally responsible with regards to expenses for Wikimania. Wikimanias should be hosted in countries easily accessible to the widest range of people. Tapei and Alexandria are not widely accessible; there is no reason that large numbers of Wikimedians should be excluded due to travel costs, when we could have just as easily hosted a conference in Tokyo, London, Paris, Geneva, Toronto, Atlanta, Moscow, etc. Buenos Aires is a step in that direction, but we can do better. Moreover, I do not agree with our hosting of projects in countries that do not support the basic freedoms that are fundamental to human rights. Wikimedians should never, ever, EVER have to hide their religion, sexual orientation, gender, or national origin, in order to attend a conference without fear of violence, harassment, or imprisonment. It is the duty of the foundation to ensure that Wikimedians do not suffer these things at a foundation-run event. Furthermore, I disapprove of the idea that things like security risks, quality of accomodations, and atmosphere of freedom are given equal weight to the distance from the last Wikikimania. I'm all for rotating as much as possible to make things cost effective for Wikimedians across the world, but it is fundamentally wrong to think that is worth as much weight in the bid process as ensuring that Wikimedians are staying in safe accomodations, will not be assaulted, will not be imprisoned, will not go bankrupt getting to the location, etc. What we should be doing is establishing some sort of rotation between major areas that satisfy very well the needs of Wikimedians in terms of cost effectiveness, reach, accommodations, price of event, and culture. I mentioned some such cities above. We should be rotating between these places, and to satisfy outreach in more remote locations like Taipei, Alexandria, Singapore, etc. we ought to be supporting local events. This is something the Foundation ought to be working closely with the chapters to develop.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I suspect that the Foundation's selection of Alexandria, Egypt for Wikimania 2008 puts the conference practically out of reach for 99% of the contributors to Wikimedia projects. Therefore, I would hope that the Foundation will begin to consider future destinations that are a little less self-indulgent and a lot more practical for the vast majority of Wikimedia stakeholders. Much could be accomplished by serving up more "mini-conferences" in many locations across the globe.

Furthermore, in this day and age considering the fiscal and environmental costs of burning jet fuel and laundering hotel sheets, isn't it about time the Foundation started promoting more tele-conferencing opportunities? I take part in presentation-based "webinars" on just about a weekly basis. While they may not be 100% as effective as in-person gatherings, they still work quite well.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
Certainly Wikimania is the flagship annual event that any serious wikimedian should strive to attend. I don't see that changing. Sure, it's an expensive endeavor, and having it move around the globe means that some people will not be able to attend year after year. I think the foundation should seek local sponsors specifically for the event to help with the costs. I would not be surprised if in the future, Wikimania will become a biennial (or even quadrennial?!) event. Not many international organizations hold a big conference every year.

Having said that, with the community growing so rapidly all over the world, I think the foundation can have a role in boosting local or regional communities by allocating some resources towards others events, such as meet-ups, academic conventions, editing camps and the like. This should be done organizationally through the chapters, but in some cases financial backing by the foundation might be in order, if the local community is still young, or cannot afford it, or for any other special reason.

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I can well imagine that in the future a majority of wikimanias will be held in locations which already have regular experience of holding their own regional events. I don't think it is healthy for the foundation to put a spoon in every pot, and the matter of regional wikimedia related events is a very good example of a thing where foundation involvement is likely to not bring significant benefit, apart from the natural assistance of trademark usage permissions for such events. As for the main wikimania. I have attended it twice, and found both immesurably enriching experiences. There is so much that text cannot acheive with the best will in the world, that is as easy as snapping ones fingers, when one meets face to face. Last years meeting in Taiwan, I didn't have the finances to attend, and I fell back to relying on the streams provided through the internet. One interesting question that has not yet been addressed comprehinsively is the size of wikimania. Will we choose to actively limit it into a size where relatively speaking most everyone knows each other, or will we let it evolve into a mega-event with thousands or more participants. I confess my inclination would be to wimp out from taking a clear stance, and advocate us steering a middle course, avoid going very large very soon, but not try to keep wikimania extremely tight.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Interesting question phoebe. Personally, I've never been to Wikimania, because when it was near me, I wasn't involved in the project, and since then its been too remote for me to afford travel/time away from work.

However, I believe Wikimania is a vital part of the Foundation's mission of spread free-culture. It offers a unique setting for Wikimedians to engage in real-time, in-person discussion of the projects, their goals, the Foundation, and its goals. Additionally, it provides a unique place, even compared to Meta, where individuals from many projects and many countries are all in the same room. Lastly, it adds a human dimension to a project generally conducted 100% on the internet.

While it is nifty that this year's Wikimania is being held in Alexandria Egypt, the site of the original library of historical lore, for individuals outside the Middle East and Europe, it will be very costly to attend just in trans-oceanic airfare terms. In the same way, Wikimania's in Boston or Taiwan also incur large expenses to significant portions of the editing community.

My suggestion would be to place Wikimania on a rotating basis among major world regions, so that interested individuals can plan in advance when a mania will be in their region of the world. At the same time, I would support more Foundation+Chapter initiatives to hold regional and/or continental conferences dedicated to the projects. I believe the Germans have pioneered the Wiki Academies to introduce new individuals to the system, and I see no reason why that model couldn't be scaled up to a Wiki-mini-mania Europe or N. America, etc.

Further, I would support the continued expansion of the scholarship budget to increase the regional diversity at the manias by bringing in more individuals who otherwise would be unable to attend due to prohibitive financial costs.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I am a strong advocate of the Wikimania project, and I believe that it opens up a whole variety of opportunities that are otherwise inaccessible through our internet-based norm, such as live talks, brainstorming sessions, and general face-to-face meeting of the other people who make these great projects what they are. I am unaware of any changes to the way the Board handles Wikimania that need to be made, however I do have other views on the way Wikimania should be conducted.

Wikimania should be given a rotating schedule, whereby each year a continent is given the opportunity to host Wikimania in a country / city of their choosing. This a) allows for further planning and b) allows for people to plan ahead in order to attend. This, I believe, will increase participation, and make it a truly global event.

The Board should support in any way that it can other local events, however it would not be feasible for the Board to organise all these events as well. Much like the way Wikimania is handled, small teams of local people are the best way to organise and implement these events, coming to the Board for any advice and support they require - which I am sure the Board will be happy to provide.

Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
I am a strong supporter of Wikimania, and the most important factor in deciding the site should be the ability of the local team to provide a strong event. Rotating the event among the continents is helpful for drawing Wikimedians that might not otherwise come. In Taipei I met a number of Australians for whom travel to Europe or North America was out of the question. Still, Wikimania should not go to a scheduled continent if no city there is capable of putting it together. While the concentration of members in Europe and North America may suggest more frequent Wikimanias on those two continents we cannot allow the people elsewhere to feel excluded. We want to make the fruits of our labours available to all countries and all languages without the usual condescension for which advanced civilizations have been noted. While some of our members may feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in a country with questionable human rights records, our presence there can be a valuable service for its residents, who have limited exposure to what is happening outside of their country.

More local and regional meetups absolutely need to be encouraged, but that kind of organization is not a central function of the WMF. Chapters and sub-chapters are more appropriate to that task. One thing that the WMF can do is send key staff or Board members to regional meetups to let these local groups know that they are appreciated as a part of something bigger.

Ryan Postlethwaite
It’s extremely important that the board gives its full backing to Wikimania and helps with securing funding for the scholarships that available to some of the people that attend. We have people from many different backgrounds, and financial circumstances shouldn’t stand in the way of a hard working volunteer from attending Wikimania. I would like to see the foundation attending more independent fairs/events to spread the word of the projects and the need for funding. I think this could help to attract that big donors that the foundation needs and could have the advantage of giving us support from the wider community. It may be good for the board to create material for reuse by local chapters/groups of wikimedians who wish to use these at various meetups or events throughout the world – this could only help the foundation move forward and encourage the chapters to take a more active role in advertising the foundation.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
The Foundation should encourage these grassroots efforts by promoting the fact that they are community-run, and addressing the common misperception that they are centrally organized -- this will in itself encourage more local gatherings to spring up.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
Bearing in mind that the primary purpose of the Foundation is to facilitate the generation of content by the community, I think an event that only a tiny fraction of one percent of contributors will be attending has to rank some distance down on the priority list. That's not to say that I oppose Wikimania - I don't, and I hope to attend one someday. If the Foundation has the resources - financial, staff, or other - to spare, I think Wikimania's a reasonable use of these. Same goes for any national or larger regional gatherings (although you'd hope to see chapters taking a more active role in these). Wikimania, in my view, falls under the heading of "nice to have, but not core to the Foundation's objects". Beyond that, my limited experience in this department leaves me unable to offer any great insight.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
Hello Phoebe :-) What many people don't know, is that also the WikiMania events are mainly a local and as such a grassroot initiative. From the beginning of candidate to the finalizing report to WMF, the local organisational team make a great part of the work. I am happy to be able to take part in the organisation of the last year's event, though a very small part compare to the local volunteers.

The most important thing that WMF can provide to the local team is experience and assets. A framework, which can be used by the local team, beginning with formular for registration to a responsible contact person with the local team would be very nice.

As of regional and local meetings. I think also here the local grassroot and the chapters play a very important role. In the chinese community we have seasonal meetings of Wikipedians in Taipei, Hongkong, Macao and Beijing, long before the chapters in Taipei and Hongkong are established. And the Hongkong community also managed to organise a chinese conference two years ago. The same is also in Germany. There are many local meetings that are simply organised by the Wikipedians without the help of the foundation or the german chapter. Also from the talk of Harel I heard this is the same in Israel for the hebrew community. They began to meet by themselves, began to organise events and later that structure developped to the chapter.

So, I think local initialive is important, is vital, and I don't think that WMF should interfere into such initiatives.

WMF and Chapters[edit]

Could you share your thoughts on the relationship between WMF and chapters with us? Not only with regards to governance and board rep. (which is covered in questions about) but in terms of 'who should do what' in business deals, outreach, press stuff, fundraising, events and whatever more comes to mind. This question is deliberately rather open. --Mbimmler 16:08, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Chapters have members, the Foundation not. Chapters will work locally, the Foundation globally. Chapters can do anything in business deals, outreach, press stuff, fundraising, events and whatever more comes to mind to promote the common goal of open/free content adding to the sum of all human knowledge. The Foundation will run the servers for the project websites, that is the bottomline.
Alex Bakharev
I participate in organization of Wikimedia Australia chapter. Those organizations are new in WMF structure but they are quite promising. They are much better suited than the central WMF for soliciting local grants (especially from the governments), organizing local events, local public relation work. On the other hand they are in their infancy yet. So far they are not in the position to take major burden from WMF yet. They might be more mature in a year or two and it will be great help
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
The chapters are a fascinating and important part of the Wikimedia community. If properly utilized the chapters can help make up for the natural limitations of the foundation. The chapters are able to perform a variety of tasks the foundation can not. A close working relationship between the chapters and WMF is necessary in order maximize the potential of the chapters. The involvement of the Wikimedia Foundation in the chapter's daily operations should be fairly minimal after the initial establishment, rather the focus of the WMF should be on the strategic elements of the chapters.

What a chapter can handle will of course be determined by the size and resources of the chapter. For a fully developed chapter, I think business deals should ideally be arranged by the chapters and finalized by the foundation. Outreach, press stuff, fund raising, events and the like should be handled by the chapters with clear guidelines on what sort of issue should be passed on to the foundation. The chapters also need to feel that they are able to pass issues and concerns they can not manage on to the foundation. The foundation must have the resources to manage these issues and concerns.

The foundation should try to keep in close communication with the chapters and know what the chapters are doing. The foundation's public image is strongly affected by the chapters. It is thus the responsibility of the foundation to know what the chapters are up to. The chapters also are often doing some really cool stuff that the larger community should be aware of.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I support the idea that chapters should have a presence on the board. The efforts of the German chapter have been proof positive that the chapters exist for reasons that go far beyond simply allowing tax-exempt donations. To that end, I founded the working group for the Wikimedia DC chapter. I view the chapters as working closely with WMF to accomplish the goals of both organizations. And moreover, every chapter will be different. This is one thing that has, IMHO, been a problem with past views of the chapters: people want them all to be a single purpose. They're not. WM DE has different needs, goals, and abilities, than WM CH. Both have different needs than any US chapters. Some chapters do not need tax exemption as a purpose, and can devote their energies to other things. Some chapters may not need or want to incorporate. Some chapters are located in major cultural centers and can develop amazing relationships that will bring great new opportunities to the WMF (The DC chapter is potentially one of those.) Others can focus their energies on simply outreach to people who might not otherwise be aware that there is a Wikimedia project in their language. (Countries/regions etc. that have languages represented by small wikis would be part of this). I support the chapters having a lot of leeway; but this must be tempered by some level of oversight by the foundation. Business deals that are purely chapter related should not be touched by the foundation. But business deals that are for the purpose of benefiting the foundation, ought to have final approval from the WMF, even if the chapter is the one that does the legwork on it. The WMF should be communicating to the chapters, saying "This is what we want/need, this is how you can help us. Tell us what it is that YOU want/need and how we can help".
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Chapters are a nifty idea to disperse the "social" and "personal" attractions of various Wikimedia projects, but the Foundation needs to take a more assertive role in defining how chapters are generated and operated. For example, I'm of the opinion that children should not be chairing Wikimedia chapters. I'm also of the opinion that the Chapters Coordinator should not only assure against the Daytona Beach Wikimedia "chapter" sponsoring a wet T-shirt contest to raise money for the Foundation, but also work closely with the Foundation's legal counsel to gauge whether publication of DVDs (for example) could potentially call into question the Foundation's status under Section 230 of the CDA. Protection of the overarching Wikimedia brand and reputation from overextension is important.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
I'll break down my position into a few points:
  • the chapters are (still) a new phenomenon, with many chapters still being set up, so their role and relationship with the WMF is something that will become clear as we go along.
  • chapters can be expected to be very different in size, character, abilities etc. I therefore think that what's right for one chapter may be very wrong for another. Few universal truths here.
  • I see chapters as the best way for wikimedian volunteers to carry on their wikimedian hobby offline. That's the slogan I repeat about my local chapter. Think of chapters as hobby clubs, if you will. They can be just a gathering point for like minded people, or mini-scale copies of the WMF, or anything in between.
  • I tend to think that WMF interference with the chapters should be quite minimal, just like with the various projects. Too much interference and you contradict the raison d'etre of the chapters. Only where really bad stuff is happening (abuse of WMF goals, problems with the law, very incompetent management) do I see the WMF possibly stepping in (not that it has too much formal leverage anyway).
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
As you no doubt expected, we will nearly unanimously say that it entirely depends on the particular chapter. Personally I haven't got any novel angle to expand the issue further than that, just to appear more thoughtful than I am.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Well being a member from the in-progress NYC chapter, I greatly support the chapter program. In NYC for instance, the Wikipedia Takes Manhattan event joined our local colleges with the chapter, to create needed content on Commons and Wikipedia. I recognize that the German chapter and the British chapter, as well as many of the other European chapters have created extensive programs that aid the foundation, and am supportive of their efforts.

Ideally I'd like to see networks of national chapters and local chapters formed (say NYC operating under the Eastern USA chapter). I'd also like to see chapters engage in more cross-licensing with the WMF so that chapters can arrange press at their local events, more easily create fundraising accounts, etc. For US chapters, and chapters that choose to place themselves under US law, I'd like to look into the potential of filing under supporting organization status, to protect the Foundation from legal liability, while still maintaining the flow of intellectual property and financial resources.

Each chapter should be unique and be as involved with the Foundation as it sees fit. Developed chapters like Germany may need less day to day involvement at the operational level (setting up meeting locations), but more periodic involvement at the strategic level (say arranging the donation of $1,000,000 worth of servers. NYC on the other hand still faces issues such as when it can use a WMF logo and when it cannot, so it faces more basic question that require more foundation involvement.

I see the WMF as being the sole conductor of business deals that impact the projects in a legal sense, that involve foundation assets, such as granting licenses, etc. I see the chapters as being joint conductors of local PR contacts, on the ground fund raising efforts, and general points of contact for wiki and free content related queries.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I am of the opinion that the chapters should conduct their business (whatever they deem to be necessary) on a local basis, restricted to their own country / state / area. This allows a small, focussed team of people to work on goals that are specific to that area, rather than the Board and Foundation working on a generic global level, which may or may not be suitable for that particular area. For example, further to my response on Wikimania, I believe the local chapter (if one exists) should have a major role in the organisation and development of the event.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
First and foremost, chapters are needed to provide a legal presence in various countries. A non-profit in one country does not generally provide tax deductibility of financial contributions in another. Non-profit laws often prohibit the spending of charitable contributions except for the benefit of residents of that country. Presence in a country also provides opportunities for access to documents that we may want to include in one of our projects; they can also be a medium for lobbying when matters of copyright law are at issue.

This all means that the behaviour of chapters must first be consistent with national laws when those laws conflict with Wikipedia policy. There must nevertheless be constant threads that bind the chapters, particularly in terms of our goals and aims. It's really a complex relationship that needs to be developed with care in the legal minefield of international internet law.

The situation for the United States will be different because of the situation of the WMF headquarters. I would like to see a United States chapter, and, as in any geographically large country, a series of sub-chapters. They can provide great organizational benefit for our American members. That being said, it is up to our American members to develop their national organization in a manner that suits them.

Ryan Postlethwaite
The chapters are an extremely important set up in the Wikimedia Foundation structure. They are the local representatives who are available as contacts in their respective area. I’d like to see them given more education about the foundations core values and goals for the future – this would allow them to take an even greater role in their area and would probably lead to more active chapters, with greater participation from the wider Wikimedia community. There are some key areas however which I believe the main foundation should keep in house; especially things such as securing financial deals and making resolutions. The chapters are obviously very different, and also have developed to different extents. The more active chapters can take a greater role, but smaller chapters could easily expand with more participations/experience. The key areas chapters should work on are “in the trench” fundraising and advertisement of the foundation and projects. There is of course the advantage of having local press contacts.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Chapters should be encouraged to take responsibility for local projects, partnerships, fundraising, events, and other initiatives; and actively supported in outreach and communication. Chapters should more directly and explicitly represent their members than the Foundation as a whole, which should attend to necessary infrastructure.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
no response yet.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I personally think that the chapters are a good development and an important cornerstone in the community and for the WMF. Most chapters developped from meetings of local Wikipedians. And this is important for me, because it means it is an organisation that comes from the community. And I think they play an important role. They are the most important advisor and partner of the WMF in handling with the local authority. They are very important in fundraising, as is seen by the german chapter. And they are important organisers for local and countrywide or even inter-country events.

As far as I know, the relation between the chapters and the WMF are relation between equals, are relation of partners, not a relation between top and down. I think this is a good structure, because the chapters are organisations according to local law and local custom. On the other hand, if the chapters are going to elect board members, they should also have a minimum standard. This should still be elaborated. And this is for example a work on which I would to take part in.

Wikicouncil / Volunteer Council[edit]

Recent weeks have seen engaged and sometimes controversial discussions on the topic of a Wikicouncil / Wikimedia-wide Volunteer Council. Would you approve of such a council? If no, why not and would you suggest an alternate way of changing 'Wikimedia governance' and community representation? If yes, could you summarise your thoughts on how much decisive influence (i.e. 'statutory powers') this council should have? Mbimmler 16:11, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
The current path the Foundation is following is to gradually increase community involvement in Foundation issues. The board has three community elected seats and two chapter seats. What I would like to see is that anybody in favor of a volunteer council would become an active member of a chapter. Community involvement structured through a global network of chapters will be far more effective than setting up parliamentary like institutions.
Alex Bakharev
So far WMF projects were trying to avoid work by committee unless it is absolutely necessary. We do not have a volunteer committee on AFD nor on RFC nor on RFA, etc. The idea is that anybody can participate in any work without beeing formally appointed for the job. I will be happy to discuss any contentious issues (assuming I am not bound by confidentiality agreement, etc.) with any number of wikipedians and then communicate their ideas to the board. I am sure this is true for all board members selected by the community. If the members selected by the community were the majority of the board members I would not support the idea.

On the other hand, it looks now after restructuring the majority of the board is not elected by the community. I think for this case as an additional safeguard mechanism a volunteer board with a veto power might be a good idea.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I strongly support the principles of the volunteer council, though the existing proposals have a few unresolved issues. The community is what makes the projects function, and by extension the foundation. The community needs to have a way of ensuring that its voice is heard and its will is done. I would like to see more direct representation in the form of additional community held board seats. A volunteer council however could be an effective substitute. We need to ensure any version that we adopt is allows for fair representation and is not overly bureaucratic. Overall, I think it is a worthwhile idea. Once we have a proposal that is acceptable to the community, I would support adopting it on an experimental basis as an advisory council. If the experiment is successful we can look at given the council a formal role in the operations of the foundation.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
The community deserves a formalized voice TO the board, in addition to community members who are voices ON the board. To support this, an organization such as a volunteer council, which defines (for the purposes of that voice) what the community is (or a representative subset of the community) is theoretically a good thing. Note the bolding. I support the theory of a volunteer council. The problem is the execution. All of the ideas that have been floated so far have severe problems. Some are solutions looking for a problem. Some are completely undeveloped. Some look like people who want a cool title, and a new power-clique. Some don't give the organization enough power. Some give too much. If there were a well thought out, well developed organization that did not have the above flaws (or any others), I would tentatively support it (but would require significant review). With regard to how much decisive influence the council should have, that will obviously depend on the nature of the body and its size, but a balance must be struck between having some kind of influential power to ensure the board does not ignore the community, weighed against the board and the office's need for freedom to conduct their own affairs without excessive interference, and both of those carefully scrutinized for legality, undue influence (internal or external), and transparency. If the council can have a) the right goals in mind and b) do its job reaching those goals, then we should be OK, but if either a or b fail to occur, I cannot support yet another layer of inefficient bureaucracy.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
The community has had over seven years to bring about the dramatic safeguards that are needed to promote a respectable level of accuracy, excellence, and ethics in media. In my estimation, the community has mostly failed to do that with Wikipedia, but it's hardly the community's fault! Rather, blame rests with the Foundation and Staff who have, to date, mostly hidden behind Section 230 allowances to reject ultimate responsibility for almost all of the garbage that is allowed into the Wikipedia system.

I sense a community that is tired, frustrated, and exasperated with a lack of leadership at the highest levels and a general failure of the Foundation to show appreciation for all the work that the volunteers do. Endless IP address vandalism reversion should not be sidetracking good editors hour after hour, day after day on this project. Once the Board starts showing respect for building encyclopedias, dictionaries, news gathering systems, quotation libraries, and the rest (rather than adhering foolishly to the notion that the "wiki process" is more important than the output), then we should discuss a Volunteer Council.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
  • I understand that devoted volunteers want to be "in the know", become involved, have influence, make a stand. It's natural in any organization based on volunteers, especially with a kind of hobby in its core.
  • I think the most natural venues for this desire to be involved are the local chapters and meta. It's more natural and even more rewarding to be involved in your local chapter or community or project.
  • I tend to think that a formal global council with formal authority, in a huge and complex community like ours, is bound to be a bureaucratic nightmare. Contrary to popular imagination, WMF is not a country, and I'm not sure we need a parliament or a representative council with dozens or hundreds of members.
  • People who want to be involved at the global level are welcome to make a difference on meta and the mailing lists. These are wonderful opportunities to make a difference. Meta currently leaves much to be desired.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I am going to answer this pretending I live in a world where nobody elses opinion matters at all. In the real world I would probably listen to what other people have to think, and try to think of ways to fit the differing vies to something that would still be functional.

If I had everything my way, I would constitute a council consisting of each foundation committees head, or person from the committee designated by the head to act as their proxy, (perhaps two attendees from the more significant committees, such as the advisory committee, added to those committee representatives, I would take one or two from each chapter (depending on if there are two available who have time for it), adding to that, moreover, 5-6 people chosen by vote in the identical fashion we are now selecting a board trustee; board trustees I would give free rights of attendance in the councils deliberations (whether of the electronic or the fleshy kind), and the option to voice their views, but no vote. I would not give this council the right to expand it's own number except should the Board of Trustees so decree. That way people on the council would not vote to perpetually increase it's size, in an attempt to keep their own seat, thus providing some measure of accountability. Additionally I would set a cap on the number of chapter representatives and committee representatives, so as that when the number of chapters and foundation committees inevitably increases, at some stage some more restrictive manner of electing representatives from those sources would have to be employed, rather than taking one or two from each. I would give it the power to issue solemn proclamations, which communities would have a *moral* but not an actual responsibility to heed to, and sofar as applicable to their own cases, try to implement. The Board of Trustees would have their choice of immediately ratifying such proclamations into bylaws (when applicable to the foundation bylaws), vetoing them (when applicable, and not concerning matters that are purely community matters), or waiting to see if communities take the proclamations intent favorably or revolt against them, and choosing which part to take in such an unfortunate state of affairs - which of course we would hope never happened.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Hmmm, that is an interesting proposal. The idea of encouraging cross-wiki coordination is one I strongly support. As is the idea of encouraging more community participation at the Foundation level. However, in its current form, I see some issues with the proposed Council that might make me disinclined to support it. The biggest being it has a closed membership that is elected to office. Really, I'd prefer an open membership or RFA style method to keep the organization fresh and vitalized.

Some alternate ways I could see the foundation governance being issued might be Ballot Resolutions similar to those used in American corporations or through term limits on the members of the Board. Also, the idea of parallel advisory councils in specific areas is something that would appeal to me.

As to the third point, I would be against bifurcating the Board's power. At the end of the day, there needs to be a final "desk" where all problems stop at. Splitting up the Board's responsibilities by granting a Council statutory powers would not be something I favor at the current time.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I would approve of such a council, only if it can be demonstrated to include our Wiki values. I do not believe the creation of such a council to exist above the communities, alongside (or below) the board is a good idea, and that will lead to even further problems. However, the creation of an Advisory board, consisting of people from within the communities, would be a good idea if fleshed out correctly. I leave it to the interested parties to flesh out these ideas, rather than the Board impose a policy or resolution regarding this.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
I believe that I have supported the idea of a Wikcouncil longer than anyone else. I first bruited the idea when suggestions were being sought about the very first bylaws of the WMF. Wikicouncil should not be a rival to the Board; it should work in co-operation with the Board with primary responsibility in different subject areas.

It would be pointless at this stage to pretend that we can draft up a list of responsibilities where we can say that these are the beginning and end of what Wikicouncil will do. The first responsibility of the Wikicouncil will be to build trust, and we can't do that by repeating the governance errors of the past. Building trust is best done in an environment where the Wikicouncil has minimal powers. It gains the trust of the community by showing that it pays attention to what the community says. It gains the trust of the Board by being responsible in the policies that it adopts.

The current fact is that Wikimedians have NO rights in their relationship with the Board whatsoever. They may be preparing to elect a representative to the Board now, but there is no legal impediment to the Board someday deciding that there will be no community members The Wikimedia Foundation is not a membership organization.

Assuming, however, the best intentions on the part of the Board, how much can it do? Its mambers only have limited amounts of time that they can devote to community issues. The communities still need to find ways to figure it out for themselves, while still taking into account that we are a community of autonomous communities.

Ryan Postlethwaite
Whilst I greatly appreciate the idea of a volunteer council, I don’t think that should be at the expense of having members of the community on the board. Given that the community are the people that understand the projects better than anyone else, and are the people working at the ground level making the projects what they are today, they should have a big voice in the running of the board. I’d actually like to see a volunteer council (made up from representation from various projects/chapters) run in conjunction with a community voice on the board. The volunteer council could deal with the day to day community foundation issues and make proposals to the board (and I seriously hope the board would listen to them).
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
The current arguments about the Board's response to a proposed Volunteer Council miss the point. It is not up to the Board whether an effective volunteer council is set up or not; this is something all community members should address.. If an effective body is set up by and for the communities, it will not need the approval of the Trustees; it will advise and address them.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
This might sound odd coming from the candidate who wants to impose policy committees on the Foundation's largest projects, but I think the Volunteer Council concept is ridiculously bureaucratic. Creating new bodies makes sense when there are either specific powers that need to be apportioned (which there aren't here) or responsibilities that need to be discharged and are not going to be without a committee. We're an online community; such communities are bad at some things, but one of the things they're extraordinarily good at are breaking down communication barriers. Editors have the means to communicate with the board as it is; either the board will listen or it won't. If it listens, then we don't have a problem. If it doesn't listen, the creation of this council won't solve the problem.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
This discussion remembers me of another conflict that we have since the being of Wikipedia: The conflict between administrators and users. Administrators are users, but many user don't trust them. And my feeling is that this is the same conflict, but on the highest level. A part of the community don't trust the foundation and the board and they want to have an institution that can control and supervise the foundation and the board.

This is a serious conflict and we must take it serious, because it matters our root.

For my opinion such a concil is not neccessary because the board should be the control and policy making instance of the foundation. But the conflict remains, perhaps even intensifies because of the recent restructure decision. My opinion to this conflict is, that it shows we need even MORE transparency in the board working and decision making. Most people are reasonable. It is the best way to meet people who don't trust you by tell them why you decided to make this choice and not the other.

For that I think we should publish all board decisions in a more open and effect way. I also advocate for publishing all board meeting protocols and activities. The board and the foundation should be accountable and absolutely transparent for the community.

Legal basic policy statement for Media[edit]

At Commons we have now a really big collection of free media. But until today there's no strategy known by Wikimedia, how to handle a lot of different Licenses, Right Systems and so on. Will you be the person, who work in the Foundation for a ground, where we can stand the System? We need a legal basic policy statement. It'S not possible to work along like yet. But not only I think, the Foundation don't care about that. Marcus Cyron 21:29, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Und nochmal auf Deutsch: Wir haben auf den Commons mittlerweile eine riesige Sammlung von Daten - vor allem Bilder. Aber wir haben auch ganz große Probleme aufgrund der verschiedenen Rechtsformen- und Normen in den vielen Ländern. Es gibt von Wikimedia bislang keine klare Linie, wie wir denn damit umzugehen haben. Bislang läuft vieles in Grauzonen ab. Es kann aber nicht Sinn der Sache sein, daß wir solange warten, bis die Blase platzt. Unser Ziel kann es nicht sein, so weiter zu machen, die Grenzen solange auszureitzen, bis wir irgendwann vor Gericht gezerrt werden. Wikimedia muß endlich eine Vorgabe machen, was geht - und was nicht. Welches Recht greift (nationales Recht, je nach Userherkunft, US-Recht aufgrund des Serverstandorts). Was lassen wir zu? Wer tut etwas gegen "Fair Use", was den Projektzielen (Freihei der Inhalte!) völlig widerspricht. Wer nimmt sich endlich diesen Dingen an, daß wir auf Commons endlich aufhören uns etwas zurecht zu basteln, ein fragiles Gebilde von Normen und Regeln, das zudem immer vom einstützen bedroht ist? Es geht so nicht weiter. Das ist in meinen Augen eines der vordringlichsten Problemen, die es derzeit gibt. Marcus Cyron 18:46, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

Translation: "And again in german: meanwhile, we have an enormous collection of data on commons. But we also have big problems due to differing laws in the various countries. Wikimedia does not have a clear line on how to deal with this; much is in a gray area. It's not sensible to wait until the bubble bursts. Our goal can not be to continue as before until we are sued by someone. Wikimedia has to hammer out rules as to what can be done and what not. Which laws should be applied (national law per user, US law because the servers are in florida)... What do we condone? Who will do something against "Fair use", which is opposed to the project's aims (free information)? Who will finally deal with these things, so that we (on Commons) stop making it up as we go along, a fragile construction of rules and regulations that is in danger of collapse. It can't go on like this. This, in my view, is one of the most pressing problems we face."
Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
A very great idea to develop policies. This one I like best: There are no rules. Project policies are the responsibility of the project community, not the Foundation, Board or Office. In general, I'm in favor of moving to CC-BY-SA. However, that is not something the Board can impose on projects, for well, uhm, legal reasons. And lastly, if it ain't broken, don't fix it. The legal basic policy is open/free content with a copy left license.
Alex Bakharev
I know that operations of Commons requires solving difficult and sometimes esoteric problems in the international copyright law. Sometimes we might need to seek a professional legal counsel on the matter. It is an important part of our mission. Obviously we do not want our Wikipedians nor WMF to be sued for copyright violations. Nor do we want to compromise our commitment to the copyleft development

On the other hand I would strongly oppose any motions to delete a significant amount of images for the sake of unification of our copyright licenses. So far as the license allows to freely use (including the commercial use) and modify the images they are good enough for us.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
Commons has a interesting problem of trying to manage the demands of many often contradictory international copyright laws. Despite the challenges, they appear to be doing a fairly good job at manging it.

The question is a bit unclear and my German skills are too limited to make things much clearer. I think what is being asked is if the board should take a more proactive role in managing the copyright issues of Commons. I do not believe the board should. This issue would be best managed by WMF's general counsel. I would be very surprised if he was not already aware of the issues Commons is encountering. I can only assume that the lack of intervention, means either intervention would put the Foundation at more risk, or the current situation is judged to not be putting the Foundation at risk. Protecting the Foundation from legal risk is the WMF's general counsel job. Since we definitely have a good one, I believe the foundation should continue to stay out of it, unless Mike recommends otherwise.

I can certainly understand the frustration of the Commons community with not getting much feedback on this issue from the Foundation. I would like to see if some sort of way could be found to provide more feedback without placing the Foundation at risk or overburdening the limited legal resources.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
It's not the role of a board member to be the legal counsel for the foundation. That said, as a law student, I would have an interest in working with Mike Godwin, the WMF's general counsel to review licenses, if that is needed. Whether it is needed or not, is a decision collectively for the board as a body to make, not as an individual member, or for Mike to make in his professional capacity. Now, all of that being said, I am under the impression that there is work being done currently by the office staff on the topic of licensing, specifically with regard to the GFDL and CC licenses and their interactions. With regard to a "legal basic policy statement", I do not understand the question, or rather, I do not understand what kind of statement you would be referring to. In any event, such a statement would be drafted by Mike for approval by the board as a body.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
The Board approved $182,000 for legal counsel this year. I would rather see the person(s) being paid $182,000 figure out "how to handle a lot of different Licenses, Right Systems and so on" than unpaid Board members who are instead responsible for the long-term vision and strategic guidance of the organization.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
Tja, Markus, eine schwierige Frage hast Du gestellt, und zwar leider ohne einfache Antwort. Urheberrecht ist ein ganz kompliziertes Thema, auf der internationalen Ebene sogar noch. Vom Foundation kann man nicht erwarten, dass es das ganze Thema für die ganze Welt löst. Solche Sachen dauern Jahrzente, und können vielleicht nur durch Organizationen wie die UNO gelöst werden. Bei uns soll man darauf acthen, soweit als möglich in die grauen Zone nicht hineinzutreten, sogar wenn das bedeutet, dass Commons weniger Medien beinhaltet. Die allgemeinen Regel dafür können vom Board her entworfen werden, sollen dann aber weiter von interessierten Editors in Commons aufgearbeitet werden.
Translation: "Yes, Markus, this is a very difficult question that you're asking, and also one without an easy answer. Copyright law is a very complicated matter, and when it gets to international issues it becomes even more complex. One cannot expect the foundation to solve this issue once and for all for the whole world. This stuff takes decades to, and possible solutions may come only from bodies like the UN. For the meantime, we should take as much care as possible not to enter the gray zones, even if it means that Commons will have fewer media items. The general guidelines on how to do this can (and should) be drafted by the board, but it's up for editors interested in these matters to work this out in detail inside Commons."
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Sorry I won't be providing a German reply.

I will definitely not be the point man for a comprehensive Intellectual Property rights stance. But I will certainly bring my own perspective into the mix, and there are real red lines for me.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
It s important that Commons remains the domain of free images, and that fairuse (which is not free) is prevented from staying on Commons per the community's expectations. On en.wiki I have pushed to define fairuse issues where they remain ambiguous and support a rigorous interpretation of the fairuse policy.

If I understand it correctly, we define free as things in the public domain or things that meet some free license. Right now the free license of preference is GFDL with specific Creative Commons licenses and other free licenses accepted. I think the Foundation staff are working to better define Creative Commons in relation to the GFDL and believe it would be appropriate for the Foundation to opine in the general sense as to what licenses meet the GFDL level of freedom. I am opposed to the Foundation imposing license changes that would alter the fundamental path of a project or the Foundation altering licenses in order to alter content.

As far as choice of law goes, I believe the Foundation and the projects should generally act within the confines of US law, because that is where the Foundation and server farm is located, and would be the likely location of any realistic legal actions.

Also, I think that projects can "make things up as they go along", most of the time, because that is part of the nature of the wiki, the grow based on the ideas of the masses of contributors.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I believe that this is something that needs to be taken up with the Foundation's Legal Counsel, not something the Board should "fix" until it has correct and proper legal advice on the matter.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
The problem here is that we are dealing with an extremely complex problem of international law. My approach is to be cautiously aggressive, perhaps by housing parts of the database on servers in countries where the copyright status might be less problematic. I don't know if a perfect licence is even possible. I believe in not only using free material, but in making material free that is not yet free. I believe that we are much further from being sued than most believe, but changing that into a policy is not easy.
Ryan Postlethwaite
I think it should be of high importance for the board to speak to the projects and discuss the difficulties with the current licensing systems. It would be good if our free could all come under a standardised licence, but it’s clear that would be controversial. On commons, we have a number of different licenses which have to cover many different international copyright laws so it would be hard to have a global license. I would certainly be interested in getting Mike Godwin involved with looking at the licenses and it would be good for the board to listen to his views. The communities should also have a say before any resolution is made.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Trustees should work actively with Commons and media developers to help describe and prioritize these problems, and to make sure there is followup on the best proposed solutions. Solving them is not something the Board should do; this is something all community members should address..
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
no response yet.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
Sorry I must confess I am not aware that there is a problem here. If you can provide me more information I probably can work through it and work out a more found opinion.

As far as I know, commons only accept GFDL and compatible licensed materials. I think this is a good policy because it is the minimum of all the different copyright and authoring right laws we have in this world. If you use a media material from commons, you should be sure that there's absolutely no problem using it, where ever you are in the world, which ever project you are participating. This is the idea. If it is not so, if indeed we have stuff on commons which is not compatible with GFDL, I would suggest remove them from commons.

For every individual project the community set up a local rule according to the custom and law of countries, where most of the users and contributors of that project come from. There we have content of fair use. We have again and again users that misuse fair use, just as we have always people put on copyvio content. The local admins are responsible for removing these materials. As far as for zh-wp, where I am admin, I think it works very well. I can say that zh-Wikipedia has the most rigorous copyright policy of all chinese websites.

Hier meine Antwort mal auf Deutsch: Meiner Meinung nach gehört NUR GFDL und kompatiblen Inhalte auf commons. Sollte das nicht der Fall sein, sollte man hier die Policy ändern, hier ist tatsächlich die ein Feld, wo WMF tätig sein soll. Jedoch war bislang meiner Erfahrung, dass auf commons auch tatsächlich die Lizenzen sehr streng beachtet werden.

Auf den unterschiedlichen Wikipedia-Versionen gibt es lockelere Bestimmungen, was Fair-use betrifft. Dies sollte den lokalen Gesetzen entsprechen, oder mindestens das amerikanische Gesetz genügen. Die Admins in diesen Projekten sind dafür zuständig, dass in ihren Projekten ungerechtes Benutzen von Fair-use unterbunden wird. So weit ich sagen kann, funktioniert das bislang auf zh-wp recht gut. Ich kann behaupten, dass zh-wp wahrscheinlich die strengste chinesisch sprachige Webseite ist

Skeletons, closets, etc.[edit]

Are there any incidents from your past that you consider it the right of voters to know? Sarcasticidealist 22:01, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
None.
Alex Bakharev
None
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
None.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
No skeletons.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
If you can't find all of the rattling, chattering Wikimedia-related skeletons in my closet with a simple Google search, then you probably shouldn't be voting in this election. Good question, Steve.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
Sorry, I just can't find a juicy skeleton in my closet. I have been a law-abiding citizen all my life, my biggest run-in with the law has been two parking tickets. No grand drama there. Perhaps the most embarrassing mention of my name online, all because of a misunderstanding, is my being listed in an appendix to an academic paper describing what happened on Israeli IRC rooms the night Israeli PM Rabin was assassinated. It lists me in a channel called, *cough*, #fuckright. However this was a spontaneous channel set up that night full of people angry at the Israeli (political) right, and not what it sounds like to normal people...
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
This is a good question. There is a great temptation to answer it non-seriously. But for the purposes of this election, I will have to give a straight answer; no, there isn't. I am quite happy to tell about all the embarrassing things that have happened to me in an informal setting, such as IRC, but that isn't what you are asking here.
Let me expand on what some may consider a non-responsive answer. After writing the above, I have spent some time thinking about what people could use, if they really, really wanted to smear me. The best I came up with is my youthful involvement with the Finnish Science Fiction Fandom scene. At the time when I was most active in it, in it's very earliest days, the level of discourse within the "inner core" was quite "colourful", and I am sure if one were to pore through all the correspondence therein, I am sure I recieved my share of brickbats, and so likely some statements about my character expressed by some parties, might, taken out of context and without an understanding of the underlying tradition of rhetorical bombast, might appear a mite peculiar to those unfamiliar with the sub-culture.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Hmm, nothing that interesting, I'm the only Matthew Bisanz in the world, so Google is as good a place as any to find out things about me. Was active in my school's SGA and produced some notable headlines, but nothing formal or binding. It involved an impeachment from my student government role, that I was later vindicated of publically, fulfilled out my term in office, and served on the Elections Commission that oversaw the election of my successor and of the student body president. Heck, I've never had a speeding ticket or even a parking ticket.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
None that have affected Wikimedia (or, for that matter, anything major).
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
None
Ryan Postlethwaite
Nope.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
No
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
Thank you for the question, and yes. In March of 2004, I was re-elected to the Council of the Students' Union at the en:University of Alberta as a representative of the University's faculty of business. Shortly thereafter, I ceased to be a student of that faculty, at which time it was incumbent on me, ethically and according to the organization's bylaws, to resign. I did not do so. Instead, I actively misled all concerned (or, in the parlance of our times, lied to them and committed fraud). Eventually I was discovered, whereupon I was prosecuted under the University's Code of Student Behaviour for non-academic misrepresentation of fact. I plead guilty and received a surprisingly light sentence - a formal reprimand and a year of conduct probation, which meant that if I committed further misrepresentation of fact during that year I would, in addition to probably being expelled for repeating a serious offense, have to pay a fine (of two hundred Canadian dollars, I believe).

There were no mitigating circumstances surrounding this story. It was not a lapse in judgment, but a serious ethical failure. If I can offer any encouraging words to you on the subject - I am, after all, asking you to support me despite this - it's that I feel that my ethics and moral fortitude have become stronger by reason of having exposed their weakness in this case. But take that for whatever you consider it to be worth.

Again, thank you for the question.

Ting Chen
(Wing)
I am an advocate for citizen privacy and I respect the privacy for every other person and I am not interested in gossips or sensational reports what so ever.

I for myself am an open person. Since my coming out 10 years ago I am a happy and open man.

Conflicts of Interest[edit]

Do you have any other duties with other organizations which could be perceived as having conflicts of interest with serving on the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation? If so, can you describe them and explain why you feel you would be appropriate for the Board in spite of them? Thank you, Cirt 18:34, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
No COI
Alex Bakharev
I do not have any conflict of interests here.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
Fairly soon I will begin a term as president of the board for the Collaborative Media Network. The Collaborative Media Network is an organization myself and several other Wikinewsies are founding to be able to better handle press accreditation for citizen journalists. I do not perceive having any conflicts of interest. I will of course refrain from participating in any WMF decisions that relate to the Collaborative Media Network and vise versa. If the Wikimedia or Collaborative Media Network board members or legal counsel believe it is necessary I will resign from the Collaborative Media Network board, but I do not expect this to be an issue.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
None. I am not a member of any other organization that has a similar, or competitive goal with the WMF. If there are any perceived conflicts, I am more than happy to discuss them openly and transparently.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I can say with utmost confidence that any of my conflicts of interest would appear as a grain of sand against the Ayers Rock of conflict of interest that the sole founder of Wikipedia has been asked to address over the past few years, with respect to "no-follow" and links to Wikia.com, appointing a Wikia employee to the Arbitration Committee, speaking fees exceeding the average annual household income of an American family, and Form 990s completed to appear that there were no business relationships between the Foundation board and Wikia, Inc.

That being said, I do own and manage a wiki directory site called MyWikiBiz.com, which in some ways competes topically with Wikipedia for "non-notable" persons and entities that Wikipedia might otherwise reject. The site garners about 3,500 unique visitors per month, and I generate less than $2 in monthly advertising revenues. If I were to be elected to the WMF Board, I will embargo my promotion and advertising of MyWikiBiz.com for the duration of my WMF service, and any revenues that I personally accrue from MyWikiBiz.com will be donated to a non-profit humanitarian charity.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
None I can think of. The only things that come to mind are membership in the local wikimedia chapter and working in a big international company (which I avoid writing about). However I don't think these represent real conflicts of interst.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
I have no duties in other organizations, in conflict with the intrests of wikimedia, or otherwise. Just no responsibilities or affiliations whatsoever. I have participated in the work of several distributed computing, and clickworking projects, but only doing the volunteer work, not in the organisation of any one of them, even in a minor fashion. For the record, I have volunteered at various Distributed Proofreading projects (and despite us having wikisource, which is a bit similar to Project Gutenberg, I don't think my volunteering my personal time is even close to a conflict of interest). Similarly I have participated in trying to pick out interstellar particle impacts from an aerogel collector at stardust@home. That project doesn't have any even closely parallel project on wikimedia. I seem to remember also picking out craters from a satellite images at some site or another, again no wikimedia parallel.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Nope, checked into it quite thoroughly and can't find any overlap.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I am not able to see any potential COI problems with my existing duties.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
None. In the last few years my Wikiholism has not allowed be enough time to develop such conflicts.
Ryan Postlethwaite
I have no conflict of interest by an affiliation with any other organisation or group that would affect me being a member of the board.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
As director of community content for OLPC, I would recuse myself from discussions of making materials more accessible offline, or to a young audience; or of specific outreach to educators and schools. That said, I see the role of a good Trustee as being representing the views of the community, not his/her own; and of focusing on sustainbale infrastructure, not making decisions about content or audience; I feel my contributions and ideas in this regard would have no conflict.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
As of July 31, I will have no directorships or financial interests in any companies at all. Until then, I will continue to be employed by a news organization, though I sincerely doubt that the University of Alberta student newspaper and WikiNews have any overlapping interests.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
As I said in my candidate, I work for IBM as a programmer. At the moment I don't see any interest conflict here, but I cannot rule out some odd constellation, where I can get into interest conflict.

The busyness guideline of IBM encourages employees to take part in social and cultural activities. And it says if there is an interest conflict, the employee should abstain. And exactly that I will do if I see an interest conflict: I will inform the board, the community and my company and I will abstain. If the conflict is a severe one I will resign.

How can the Foundation help Wikinews?[edit]

I don't think I'm alone among Wikimedians in seeing Wikinews as a project with great potential but (so far) only modest success; in English, at least, Wikinews is frequently overshadowed by Wikipedia as a "go-to" place for complex breaking news, and participation levels are several orders of magnitude lower. Do you see a specific role for the Foundation in fostering the success of Wikinews? If so, what specific policies or proposals would you pursue, and how else would you use your position on the board to help Wikinews reach its potential? Would you work to bring Wikimedia Radio on-line? Ragesoss 01:51, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Project issues are project issues not Foundation or Board issues. Wikinews will reach its potential with many enthusiast volunteering editors. Meta wiki is the place to discuss creation of new projects, not the Foundation, Board or Office. There is no need currently to revise project creation processes for the coming years.
Alex Bakharev
I guess the solution should come from Wikinews editors. Board can help to shape policy ar resolve a conflict but is was less experienced than WikiNews people themself.

IMHO the main problem with Wikinews is that Wikiprocess is not fast enough for them. We need days sometimes months and years to shape a descent article. In the news we have to fix it and promote to a visible place in a few hours better in a few minutes. An old stale news is not useful for anybody.

As a brainstorming suggestion we could use Wikipedia to help Wikinews. There might be a tool that would ask Wikipedians editing articles labeled as {{Current}} or linked to a Wikinews if they want to generate an articles in the News section itself. The same way if we ask the author of a new News article to link to the correspondent Wikipedia article.

Another suggestion will be to allow "HeadsUp" newsarticles with only a heading, an external link to an online newsitem and a wikipedia link for background. Like:

en:Phoenix (spacecraft) grounded on en:Mars! [7]

If such short notices will be aggregated by say RSS or even manually compiled to lists of current event (global/by region/... etc.) we could beat major online newssources. This not a proposed policy just a brainstorming suggestion.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
My home project is Wikinews. I have great faith in the eventual major success of the project. Wikinews is still a fairly young project, we are still growing and experimenting. I believe we will eventual grow to become a top source for news, just as Wikipedia has become a top source for general information.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, while Wikinews is a news source. Occasionally the line between these is blurred on Wikipedia, but I do not believe Wikipedia and Wikinews are truly competing. There is unfortunately more duplication of labour then I would like to see. One way to fix this would be by adopting a dual license policy on new Wikipedia current event articles, so that they can be reused by Wikinews. In general, we need to be collaborating more between the projects.

One of the very cool things that I have seen happening recently, is the subjects of several Wikipedia articles are doing interviews with Wikinews, so as to have an opportunity to share information they would like to see in their Wikipedia article. Wikinews can make an excellent source for Wikipedia. Wikipedia provides Wikinews both with the obvious benefit of name recognition and reputation, but also the benefit of the wealth of knowledge that we can point readers to by using interwiki links.

As I mentioned in my candidate statement, the sister projects often feel they are being ignored. We need a board that is able to be responsive to the needs of the sister projects. The sister projects have unique needs, the board too often takes a one size fits all approach tailored to the needs of Wikipedia. The Foundation needs to be able to provide for the needs of Wikinews. We are finding we need several off wiki things to allow us to best meet our goals such as affiliated e-mail addresses, a private embargo wiki, and better accreditation support. The Foundation has not been particularly good at meeting these needs.

I love the idea of Wikimedia Radio. I think it is an excellent way to spread Wikimedia content to a wider audience. I am however very skeptical that we presently have the resources to make it happen. My skepticism comes from seeing the past failures of other Wikinews attempts at this idea such as WNN. Audio content requires significant resources to create, Wikinews does not appear to have these resources. I hope with the addition of the other projects or maybe outside like minded groups we will have enough people involved to make it a success.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I would love to see Wikinews do some more original reporting and interviews, in the vein of what MikeH and David Shankbone have been doing. Some of their work is the best that I've seen on Wikinews. However, Wikinews has a serious problem, and that is an overabundance of stories directly related to the activities of the WMF. To me, this is a conflict of interest, even when you disclaim it with a template at the top. There are stories all around the world that we could be writing about, and yet, certain members of Wikinews choose to focus on the WMF. I'd like to see foundation support to help fix this problem. Let's look into ways where we can legally (i.e. without losing our 230 protections) assist Wikinewsies, in obtaining accreditations, in defraying travel expenses to do high profile interviews around the world. Lets re-obtain a global focus for Wikinews. As long as the focus has been drawn away from "real news", of course Wikipedia will overshadow Wikinews: people are going there because of a lack of good content at Wikinews. To counter this, the foundation should be doing more to promote Wikinews. Conduct outreach, work with the chapters to get more Wikinewsies. But get the word out that we need more Wikinews reporters. That's another way we can help. Finally, we need to find a way that Wikinews can be more adequately integrated into things like the Wikimedia blog.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
I'm not exactly sure. Do you think it would help if maybe the Foundation would not get itself involved only when Wikinews stories emerge that have the potential to make the Foundation look bad? Seems to me that such forms of selective censorship are destructive to the health of Wikinews, while also calling Section 230 into question.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
What you describe about English repeats itself in the Hebrew projects too. Wikinews, IMO, suffers because it is not always very clear just what content should be there, and where it should originate from. Other projects are better defined. If you limit yourself to "real (breaking) news" then I think Wikinews will unfortunately remain overshadowed by Wikipedia. What I would suggest is to put even more emphasis on feature or magazine style articles (interviews, special inquiries, travelogues) which are longer, have a more lasting appeal, and can merge more naturally with content on the other projects. But this of course has to win the wikinews community's support.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
"If so, what specific policies or proposals would you pursue, and how else would you use your position on the board to help Wikinews reach its potential?" - Well, to be honest, mostly by staying out of the way. Providing support from the sidelines against any moves from whatever quarter to prevent wikinews from reaching its potential, maybe. Sorry I cannot be more specific. I will say though that as I said in my candidate statement, I know what it can be like in a smaller project, though I only know of it in terms of a language, not a non-wikipedia project as such.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I see the Foundation's role as providing the tools for the Wikinews project to become successful. As far as formal policies, I am against the Foundation regulating content or communities. As far as proposals, I'd be open to creating a better infrastructure for the Wikinews community to use, should they wish to. One idea I'd support would be inter-wiki transclusion, so that en.wiki could say transclude part of Wikinews coverage, and vica-versa across other projects.

I was unfamiliar until now with the WikiRadio idea. It looks like an intriguing idea. My main concerns would be cost and legal issues, which I see the core team there is cognizant of. Assuming those could be satisfactorily resolved, and the project's community showed a focus on creating and spreading free audio content, I could see myself supporting such a project.

So yes, I see the Foundation's role in fostering Wikinews' success to be that Wikinews has the infrastructure, publicity and other tools available to create and distribute free current events content.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
Being my home project for the past few years, Wikinews has a special place in my heart, and it has opened my eyes to the needs of not only itself, but of all sister projects that are often forgotten about when big policy changes / resolutions are made. It is my primary concern that being elected to the Board will ensure a fair say from all projects in all matters that involve them, not just the English Wikipedia (or Meta) being solicited for input.

Back to your original question, I am an optimist for the future of Wikinews. I see it flourishing in the face of some strong adversity, and trying to gain a footing for itself in an already saturated and well-developed market - news - by being one of the very first Citizen Journalism projects on such a large scale, and certainly the only one based on Wiki principles. I believe that the foundation should support Wikinews in the same way it supports Wikipedia - by being there whenever it needs it, for whatever reason. It is up to the communities to develop plans in order to further the projects, not the Board, however I want to see the Board being receptive of ideas from all smaller projects, not just Wikinews, and seeing them with just as much force as the proposals forwarded by the Wikipedia communities.

One thing I would like to see changed is the licensing on the projects to be truly compatible with each other - such as that Wikinews can use information from Wikipedia (and vice-versa, Wikinews is an absolute mine of information for Wikipedia) freely. This is something for the communities to discuss.

As for Wikimedia Radio, I was one of the people who originally backed the idea in an IRC chat some months ago. I am very, very willing to support this in any way I can.

Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Since I have not participated in Wikinews it would not be honest for me to suddenly come up with policy views about what we should do for Wikinews. I can only agree to respond with concern to initiatives proposed by Wikinewsies themselves, but there should be no need to promote Wikinews any more than any other project. Wikimedia Radio is an interesting but ambitious project; wikinewsies are free to experiment with it.
Ryan Postlethwaite
An excellent question, and I think it’s a problem that’s not specific to Wikinews, but also to many of the other projects under the jurisdiction of the Wikimedia Foundation. It’s important that we advertise these projects and the board and foundation clearly have a role to play in this. As I’ve said previously, I’d like the foundation to make available material that local chapters can use to advertise these projects. If elected, I would make it a personal goal to make these projects more well know, by getting press time to advertise our excellent projects that are less well known.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Promoting the need for different tools and interfaces for wikinews, and encouraging those with ideas about how to address these needs, is the sort of immediate support needed. The Foundation can use the tremendous PR value of Wikipedia to focus media attention on successes and milestones of smaller projects, and rather than having them be overshadowed, help the projects reach sustained geometric growth faster than their predecessors.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I personally doubt that Wikinews can ever achieve the level of success of Wikipedia since it, unlike Wikipedia, is essentially in competition with corporations with large professional staff to provide free (as in beer, not as in air) news content. The competition has better access, the ability to work in a more timely fashion, and the ability to provide enough breadth of coverage that people will visit their sites for news. I certainly don't support the Foundation shutting Wikinews down (I've been wrong about these things before, after all), but I think Wikinews' failure is probably inevitable. In the meantime, we should continue placing interwiki links on Wikipedia (and other project) articles that discuss subjects on which Wikinews has reported, in the hopes that this will drive people towards Wikinews and create the critical mass of readers and contributors needed. But I don't think it will work.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
WikiNews is not the smallest project in all WikiMedia projects. We have Wikipedia language projects that are smaller than the english WikiNews. So, at first I want to address them in a total. I think WMF should take measure to promote these small projects. The goal of WMF-projects is to let everyone have free access for free knowledge. WikiNews and the smaller Wikipedia language versions are both important part of this goal. This is a field in which I would like to work on. I think WMF should develop mechanisms to improve the communication between the projects. We had Wikizine earlier, which is now fall asleep again. I think WMF can take this project again and make it a sort of WMF official newspaper. And in this newspaper we can invite people from communities like WikiNews to introduce their projects, to make it more interest for members of other communities. I also think WikiMania can reserve one or two tracks for these projects and invite its members through scholarship to talk about these projects. What they do, what is their goal, their problem and so on.

What WMF cannot do, is just make some policy to force people go into these projects. The projects must themself recruit participants. The community must work on it. And the community defines what they can do to make their project more attractive. The WMF can support the community, it can provide them place to promote themselves, but it cannot tell the community what to do.

As of WikiMedia Radio. I don't know. I find the draft of the plan still in a very early stage and I don't know if it will work or not. If you can find enough people from the community who would contribute for the plan, I would say, let's make a test and see how it works and how it works.

What I am also missing is what do you think is the benefit of this project for WikiMedia and its goal?

What I can also imagin is, you can make this project as a spin off of the WikiMedia-projects. It can take its own organisation and coorperate with WikiMedia. It must reassure that the material it uses from the WikiMedia-projects are under GFDL again. This way you maybe can have more freedom in experimenting. Just a suggestion from me.

The Future[edit]

I'd like to ask a rather general question of the candidates: what are your thoughts on and hopes for the future of Wikimedia? What relationship do you think the Board has to this future, and how important do you think the Board's influence on that future will be? --Anonymous DissidentTalk 12:36, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
The Wikimedia Foundation will continue to flourish and grow for the foreseeable future. The Board's influence will be on governing the organization, managing the unexpected. Community involvement primarily through chapter membership will help the foundation to reach its goals everywhere in the world.
Alex Bakharev
I think the future of Wikipedia or its successful clone is bright. Imagine a free (as a speech), authorative, well organized, perfectly illustrated, easily available, up-to-date reference source with 20..50 millions usable articles, with hundred thousands articles of FA class. Imagine textbooks on most of the courses that are magicalyy updated with the progress of science. Imagine they are freely available for the lecturer to edit. Imagine a non-biased news source that shows, say news and the background of the Arab-Israeli conflict with the perspective both Israeli and Arabs agreed to be factual and free from manipulation. I think a significant proportion of functions that our contemporary society gives to non-fiction books, media, etc. would be covered by such a project. As it will be free and equally (or almost equally) accessible to the whole population including underprivileged, living outside the major population centers, even outside the industrialized countries. I think the fruits of such a gift to the humankind should be great.

As a return the project could expect a small fraction of what governments spend on libraries, government-sponsored non fiction publications, government-financed media. We could also expect some personal respect and gratitude to be given to the people that made the project come true. Given the predicted en:Exponential growth of the project such results can be seen in a reasonable time (say five years if we are lucky, twenty years if we are not).

I think WMF and its board is instrumental in shaping of this dream. If our policies and governance are right we will achieve the goal sooner. If they are wrong the goal will be achieved later and the project achieving it would not probably have Wiki preference in front, though it most probably will use a part of our work

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I expect the Wikimedia projects will continue to grow. We will become larger and more reliable. The sister projects especially have huge opportunities to continue to expand and flourish. I would like to see them become the top destination for information in their area, just as Wikipedia has become the top source for general information. The Board plays a very important role in making this vision a reality. The board is responsible for ensuring the continued operation of the foundation and for providing needed support for the projects. The community, however, is who will actually make it happen. The board needs to ensure that it remains in touch with the community and the community feels it is being listened to.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
This Board is critical in the shaping of the WMF for the immediate years to come. The WMF is in a time of transition, where we are moving towards a more professional office staff, adjusting to a larger scale of global importance, a wider user base etc. We need a board that will guide us through these times strongly and effectively, but without losing the true nature of who we are and where we came from. Wikimedia came from the community. It continues to grow by the community. Without the community, it will shrivel and die. This Board, especially with this upcoming term, faces the question of how to satisfy a growingly unsatisfied community. I deeply and personally share these concerns, so I have made it one of my most important platforms, to be a liaison for the community on the board, to address their concerns, be they over new languages and wikis, community governance, Wikimanias, etc.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
My controversial view of the future of Wikimedia, as far as go my would-be goals:
  1. Set a timetable to become a PUBLISHED reference. By that, I mean that the Wikimedia Foundation would declare that the contents provided herein are the responsibility of the Foundation, and that any legal complaints against the content should be brought against the Foundation. Preferably set an aggressive timetable, such as January 2010.
  2. To protect the Foundation, we would begin to protect articles from further editing by users not able or willing to be identified as to their legal name and country of residence, starting with editing privileges on BLPs. This would help share the burden of legal risk with those persons who were willing to stand behind their content.
  3. To pay for the legal consequences of publishing this compendium, reader-optional contextual advertising would be deployed. Money accrued would be used to pay for the Foundation's operations, maintenance of the servers, and begin a legal fund endowment. Much of the surplus would be given to the world's leading humanitarian charities with the highest ratings from independent philanthropic auditors. (Kind of like Paul Newman's commercially-funded "Newman's Own" non-profit efforts.)
  4. Ad revenue would also go toward a modest wage an editors' grant program ($10,000 per editor per year) to the 100 editors who have done the most productive work in building the encyclopedia, 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 editors working on content that wasn't constantly being disrupted by anonymous trolls, I think we'd get a hell of a lot done.
  5. Anonymous complainants about the new editing privileges could still weigh in on Talk pages -- which would be automatically blanked every 60 days.

I suppose we'd have about 2,000 die-hard Wikimedians enraged about any or all of these changes, but they would be offset by the millions of users of Wikimedia who would be getting a more professionally-written encyclopedia that legally stood behind its content. I have said that too many Wikimedians have lost sight of something. The wiki software was intended as a (brilliant) way to generate initial content for an encyclopedia. It's not a brilliant way to maintain, protect, and serve excellent content for an encyclopedia. It would be like waking up in the morning and saying, "Driving an automobile is an excellent way for me to get to work; therefore, it must be an awesome way to actually do my job, so when I pull up at the office this morning, I'm going to crash my car through the lobby, drive through the hallway, and ram my car into my office, and I'll work on my computer through my open driver's-side window, and answer my phone through the passenger-side window!" Has anyone else noticed all of the cars parked inside the Wikimedia Foundation office?

Harel Cain
(Harel)
The w:Babylonian Talmud teaches us that ever "since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from prophets and given to fools and children" (Baba Bathra 12b). So I'll make a fool of myself and try to answer your question... I think the future of Wikimedia will depend mostly on the thousands of volunteers out there, on bigger trends in the information society and digital copyright law, together with technological advances in the MediaWiki Software. I'm not sure our way of doing things (especially governance of the different projects) scaled very well to our huge growth. I do not think that the future will be as ground-breaking and exciting as the first new years (unfortunately). Rather the next years are a time for the projects to mature and to stabilize. The Board, together with everyone else, will have to work hard to find novel ways (new projects, new technologies, new ideas) to keep it all exciting with lots of room for innovation. The Board has its modest and important share in navigating our huge ship, but it's up for the thousands of oarsmen in the community (I hope no-one is offended by that analogy) to get us there.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
no response yet.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I see the future of the Wikimedia Foundation as providing more services to its projects. It needs to encourage inter-project and inter-language cooperation. It also needs to spread the message that WM is not just en.wiki, there are the other projects and all the other languages. That is the future I see for the WMF.

I see the Board's role as being to guide the Foundation through hiring the right executive level staff, approving well thought out long term plans, and assisting in the acquisition of fundings for fulfill those plans.

For instance, I could imagine the Board approving a plan to hire a PR firm to advertise the projects, or creating a technological plan to integrate project-level Meta-type installations like Wikispecies and Wikisource already have. Other things such as working with the Incubator to find ideas for new projects or ways to integrate new ideas into existing projects can be encouraged through Board resolutions and community discussion.

Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I believe that it is time to start furthering the promotion of Wikipedia and the sister projects as reliable sources, following in the steps of Wikinews, which is often seen quoted in major newspapers and other outside sources – some of whom will still refuse to use information from Wikipedia or other projects. This, I believe, can be countered by example and education – and is something I would like to see the board take action on, as it not only damages the credibility of the projects, it damages the credibility of the Foundation. However, this needs to be supported by the communities, who need to display a level of commitment (like some already have) to providing accurate information. This could be accomplished with extensions such as FlaggedRevs.

I also believe that what has happened to Wikipedia – primarily the popularization, and thus the growth, content quality, and internal wiki projects – can be learnt from and applied to other projects in order to bring us closer to the overall goal. Sister projects often struggle with a lack of contributors (as many will end up on Wikipedia, which is not a bad thing, but people may find an interest elsewhere). By promoting and popularising the sister projects we can hopefully alleviate this problem – and by using Wikipedia to do this (by decentralisation, content-sharing, and collaboration between the projects (both sister-sister and sister-Wikipedia)) we can create a true collection of all types of knowledge on the internet – from encyclopædic content, to free-license images, to quotations, to educational material, to news, and so on and so forth. The possibilities are truly endless, but the limiting and restricting factors as explained in my candidate statement need to be corrected first.

Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
Wikimania-Frankfurt took place shortly after the French and Dutch voters had rejected the new European Constitution. My response at the time was to suggest that somebody should start a wiki to draft a new people's constitution of Europe. My point is that we as volunteers are capable of accomplishing as much as we are willing to dream. Dreams don't need to be realistic, or affordable, or immediately supported by those who fear to dream. The fearful ones try to compensate for their lack of imaginations with complaints about notability.

The Board is a facilitator for the dreams. It provides a platform for developing dreams.

Ryan Postlethwaite
I’d like to see the projects grow both in terms of quantity and quality. The quantity issue is of real importance to the smaller projects where we need to help them cover as much information as possible (obviously, that’s under the scope of their subject area). The board could help with advertising the projects and recruitment of newer editors (again, this could be through delegation to local projects). The quality issue is slightly tougher, and is mostly down to the individual contributors who create the actual content. What could the board do to help this? I’m not sure actually – they can’t force contributors to at the highest levels of quality, but encouragement to them would be good. Recognition of contributors/content on a foundation level would be something certainly worth looking in to.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Wikipedia serves as a model for how our civilization can self-organize to achieve impossible feats of knowledge and learning, without waiting for some mythical entity or organization to start what we know to be right. The Foundation can help to carry that torch and preserve that sense of community, of possibility, of wiki-nature, in two ways -- by ensuring that these first projects are always around, protecting them against calamity; and by constantly extending these principles in new directions, reminding people to be bold and to think big. Conversely, the Foundation is in a unique position to weaken the impact of Wikipedia's success, to frame it as something special to the encyclopedia, or as a fluke.

It may sound silly to say that we should avoid this at all costs, but Foundation representatives do occasionally suggest that anything impossible not currently known to be achievable by a distributed group of 10,000 people won't work that way.

Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
When I first heard about Wikipedia - in February 2004, I think - I concluded that it was a dumb idea that would never go anywhere. Some time later, I realized that I was wrong about that, and some time after that I joined up. In summary, I'm really bad at making internet-related prognostications. The only predictions that I feel comfortable making about the future of Wikimedia projects are that i. whatever projects the Foundation's running in fifteen years will be nearly inconceivable to us today, and ii. those projects will not be my brainchildren, nor probably those of anybody else on the Board of Trustees. In general, governance boards aren't very good at innovation. Because of this, the best things the Board can do to prepare the Foundation for the future are as follows:
  • continue to foster an environment where innovation at the volunteer level is possible and encouraged,
  • ensure that the projects' technical and infrastructural needs are met, and
  • closely monitor where the projects are going and try to anticipate the challenges - especially legal challenges - that the evolution of these projects is likely to engender.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I think the community is the basis of our projects. They decide where to go. What contents the projects have and how they develop. The Foundation is the framework for the projects. The foundation garants that we have enough server-power for the projects, that we have an up-to-date MediaWiki-programm, that there are more cooperation and communication between the communities. The board is the control and policy making institution of the foundation. It oversees the work of the foundation, and it garants that the project run in the legal from (this is the only point where the foundation should issue rules to the projects in my opinion) and that we don't lost our goal: to provide free knowledge to the world, while the projects prosper. I hope that the board and the foundation will keep themselves small and simple, and they should communicate more to the community.

Scalability of consensus decision-making[edit]

Is there a problem with the governance of English Wikipedia (and maybe other large wikimedia projects), and if so, what should the WMF do about it? PaddyLeahy 15:05, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Definitely not a Foundation, Board or Office problem. It is a project level challenge, and indeed a big one. The best way to attack the challenge is at the project level and prevent having any need for Foundation, Board or Office involvement at all.
Alex Bakharev
I think it is scalable enough for the almost all of the problems. There are contentious persistent content problems were it would be helpful to have made a final decision rather than drag if forever. I think we need some sort of Arbcom bodies but for the content disputes. The content courts may include real world experts working as volunteers or even payed experts comissioned by the board (the last option will be preferred but is expensive).
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
There are several areas in which Wikipedia could improve. I do not believe that Wikipedia's governance is so broken that it needs to be completely overhauled or that board intervention is justified. Board intervention might appear to be a good quick fix, but it would be overall harmful to the community. Board intervention would harm the community cohesiveness and create resentment towards the board. The only way to fix Wikipedia is for the community so fix itself. Board members as community members can be a part of this solution, but they should not be interfering in the governance of Wikipedia in their role as a board member.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
Yes. While consensus can be scaled, as far as English Wikipedia is concerned, it has not. First, I understand that the role of the Board is not to interfere with individual projects. However, it is becoming a problem, where good policy initiatives are failing because we cannot achieve consensus with so many conflicting interests. This is a major issue, one that does merit board concern, because as each new project grows, it will have these problems if it did not manage itself in such a way at a younger stage to avoid them. One solution is to find out what changes are important and need to be made, and then get them done at a stage when the project is smaller and younger, and more easy to implement the changes. Another problem is identifying where the community stands. A potential volunteer council, or Wikicouncil or other such organization potentially could be a solution to that (Note: I have outlined my concerns with such an organization above). There are other ways, however. Perhaps we should be looking for software based solutions. We should explore new ideas, such as new permissions, new policy-developing organizations similar to the ArbCom (but for the purpose of developing policies), etc. Another critical issue that we're having, though, is not only developing policies and the like, but implementing them. Currently, we have policies and guidelines with massive grey areas, conflicting overlaps, giving lots of loopholes and leeway for troublemakers to have their day of fun. We might consider a more effective way of implementing policies. As a project such as English Wikipedia grows larger, the amount of effort taken to implement and enforce these policies must so too grow.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Of course there's a problem with governance on English Wikipedia! A fish rots from the head down, they say. The Foundation has not even thought about implementing various scientific tests that might show us the way out of most of our problems. As an experimental trial for 3 months, why don't we edit-protect all BLPs with a surname beginning with "W", just like Jimmy Wales' article is protected? Why don't we disable IP address editing on BLPs with a surname beginning with "K"? Then, after 3 months, an independent team of researchers could evaluate the net impact of these tests, versus unprotected and "open-to-IP" BLPs with surnames beginning with the letter "V" and "J"? Why doesn't Wikipedia try 3 months of editing only by editors who identify themselves by real name, verified by a credit card transaction of 1 dollar? Those who fear they'd lose Wikipedia as their favorite revenge and defamation platform will tell us that these experiments would bring about the end of Western civilization. I'm doubtful of that. If you wish to see progressive changes such as these, vote for me. If you prefer Wikipedia the way it is currently, vote for somebody else.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
This is a very big question and I'm afraid it cannot be satisfyingly answered here. To put it short, yes. We have a problem, and it's built into the very basics of the wiki platform (so it might be here to stay). You have thousands of people pulling in every possible direction in an almost anarchic fashion. No matter your specific form of governance (and the trend has been to install institutions such as the Schiedsgericht or the ArbCom), any gain you have from the institution is countered by the huge effort needed to bring it about and the endless discussion and bureaucracy it creates. So it's a kind of meta-problem: not only is there a problem, but any possible solution will be hard as hell. Does it mean we have to give up all hope? not necessarily. We also have to remember that technological changes in the software may possibly enhance governance, whether by creating more manageable discussion pages (forums?), by providing a more advanced set of permissions, etc. This problem has been with us since the beginning, and maybe it's part of the fun. I'm not sure the foundation can or should "solve" it for the communities. It can foster discussions and technical advances such as I listed above.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Mostly what I have done in response to this question. That is, delay, delay and hope the problems fix themselves, through other parties responding to them. I think in this instance many of the other candidates responses have adequately proven the efficacy of this approach, to the point that I have very little to add to them ;-) But I do note the above, just to indicate my general approach to board involvement with project specific matters. I have private opinions on affairs on the English Wikipedia, but I would try my darnednest not to take recourse to such in any foundation matters I considered, in any way whatsover, in terms of commission or omission. I do aknowledge that Jimbo breaching this form of operation has not been detrimental to the general developement of Wikimedia, but Jimbo is and necessarily remains a special case.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Being an active participant at en.wiki I am the first to admit we can do things better there. While I have yet to do it, I do have a strong theoretical background in organizational dynamics, specifically in appeals court arrangements, that I hope to use at en.wiki to suggest new ideas. That said, it is not the WMF's role set standards of community governance. So long as communities are not blatantly violating the law (copyrights, libel, etc), I do not see a need for the Foundation to step in and attempt to impose a solution. I agree that there are issues with the scalability of discussions. en.wiki for instance, delegated parts of dispute resolution to an Arbcom long before de.wiki felt the need to do so. Also, at the end of the day, the Board is but a small number of people; I for one would prefer a longer period of churn at en.wiki to get the right system of governance, than a quick Board decision that creates a bad decision that drives away dozens of editors. So in short, I agree en.wiki has issues. As an editor and contributor there, I hope to contribute to their eventual solution, but I don't think the Board or me wearing a Board-hat would be the right thing to do.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I believe that having a board-imposed governance structure would be the absolute worst thing possible for this problem. With that said, here are my thoughts on the matter.

The communities themselves need to solve this problem, because the same process will not work on every wiki or in every community. Smaller projects are often fine with a consensus system, whereas larger wikis with thousands of users may find consensus unreachable - and thus a voting system may work better. Of course, some have obscure and strange consensus systems, whereas others are voting systems disguised - whatever works for a community is the best solution, but that solution will not remain the best forever. Because of the dynamic and constantly evolving nature of our projects, we need to be constantly on top of how things are working and adapt them as necessary - the governance of a Wiki is no different.

Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
There are indeed governance problems in the English Wikipedia, but the responsibility for fixing it lies with that project. At the root of the problems is a lot of good-faith punitive zealotry that make it look like a chapter out of Forster's novel Lord of the Flies. The excesses are being mentioned in other fora, and are a greater sources of embarassment than claims of inaccuracy. Once brought to our attention inaccurate data can be fixed, but changing persistent behaviours is far more difficult.

It is one thing for the Foundation to step into a small wiki with no active editors when the only activity on that wiki is drive-by vandalism, but quite another to go into a mature community to start cracking skulls. The best that could be accomplished by Foundation intervention would be a temporary calming of the situation until a new wave of fanatics could come to power. Any long-term solution must come from within the infected community. Wikicouncil could work on standards for community governance, but each community should remain free to adopt those standards or not.

We are dealing here with the recurrent problems of human nature. There is a direct parallel between our deletionist vs. inclusionist debates and the neat-freak vs. saver debates which some of us may have experienced in our personal home lives. Solving both problems requires an understanding of what the other side is trying to do, and making dialogue a part of the solution.

Ryan Postlethwaite
I do agree that as projects grow, consensus decision making becomes difficult, but I disagree that this is a board/foundation issue. If they got involved, it would take away the voice from the local projects. I believe that the individual communities have the right to decide how their project is run and how consensus decision making is done. There are obviously times when the board may have to step in, especially in decisions that involve legal issues, but these interventions should be kept to a minimum.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
It is not the role of Trustees to set community governance. this is something all community members should address.. Consensus-building has certainly scaled to larger polities than the largest Wikimedia project.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
English Wikipedia has become essentially ungovernable, and intervention by the Foundation is the only thing that's going to change that. A critical plank of my platform is the Foundation-imposed creation of project-specific policy committees, that would have their compositions and precise mandates determined at the community level. As Harel says, it's a self-exacerbating problem: the English Wikipedia's governance problems mean that it's incapable of solving its own governance problems. The Foundation therefore needs to step in, but should do so in a way that preserves community self-government.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
As one of the elder (both biological or wikipedian) Wikipedians I take a conservative position in this question.

At first how the community should be gouverned, this is a thing of the community, the community should make this decision, not the foundation, neighther the board. This is definitively a thing that I think the foundation and the board should not meddle in. A board member, who is also a community member, can naturally take part in this discussion and decision process.

Second because the community should make the decision, it would be a consensus. So the chance that here a revolution would happen is quite inprobable.

I think our consensus policy we used until now works well and is vital for our projects. Yes, I know, it is tedious and it is slow. On zh-wp we are discussion the rules and procedures for de-admin for almost two years now, without an end of that discussion in sight. But I do think this discussion is important, and I think it is far more better than an order from a group of person. Remember, the WikiMedia projects are open and grassroot projects. Acceptance for orders from above is small. This is the reason, why the Arbitration committee performs so poor. Because their authority are questioned by the community. So in the new model with a new "gouvernment", the authority of this gourvernment would also be questioned and challenge.

The policy we have until now are good enough for Wikipedia to become what it is today. We have edit wars and endless discussions in our whole history. But that is part of Wikipedia culture, and that's not a bad part of it.

It is easy for the community (or part of the community) to call for the fundation or the board to take a decision for them. But it is not a good strategy.

Your one goal as a Board member[edit]

Name one thing that you'd like to accomplish as a board member. Ral315 (talk) 21:40, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Trust, credibility and reliability of the Foundation through timely and transparent (financial) reporting, a global network of chapters, and full support to WYSIWYG capability of editing projects.
Alex Bakharev
To counter slowing down and stagnation of the project.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I would like to see improved communications between the board and the community, especially the communities of the sister projects. The board needs to both to make sure that the voice of the community is heard, and also that the community feels its voice is being heard.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
A measure that clearly and permanently secures the role of the community in the Foundation as one that is dignified, respected, and appreciated. If I can name another, it would be a cohesive review of the foundation's public image problems -- externally (with the mass media and people unfamiliar with the foundation) and internally (within the Wikimedia community, and news sources that ARE familiar with the foundation) and develop and implement a list of steps that can be taken to improve that image.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Challenge the Board to halt the current strategy of denying wrongdoing and framing critics as "disgruntled" "trolls", and instead return to a mission of achieving a respectable level of accuracy, excellence, and ethics in media. All other planks in my platform derive from this two-step objective. Excellent question, as it rather obviates all the others.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
To make sure that our projects remain a very popular and reliable free information source for all as well as a major pastime for thousands of editors who wish to enjoy their volunteering here, stay informed, make a change, not grow bored and feel part of this unique wonder of the digital age.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
That the Board of Trustees not fail to do its duty during my watch. Everything else is gravy. We *do* need the Foundation. So it is imperative the Board of Trustees not lose its way.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
My single most important goal would be promoting inter-language and inter-project collaboration to build the standing and content of all the WMF's projects. I see this as an imperative to continuing to grow the Foundation and fulfill its goal of spreading free content.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
My primary concern is to ensure that all communities are represented fairly on the Board, not by the introduction of new members, but be ensuring that concerns are listened to. My primary goal is to decentralise content from Wikipedia and promote a much stronger (both community and technically) co-operation between all projects.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
In the short term, and in the context of the need for confidentiality, I would like to see the Board develop a list of criteria for what topics must remain in camera so that any Board member can feel free to publicly and openly discuss anything that is not on that list.

In the long term, we need to have strategies for innovation and renewing our mission so that we can keep capturing the imagination of the passive public that uses our content without adding to it.

Ryan Postlethwaite
As a board member, I’d like to get long term financial support to enable the foundation, and projects, to continue for years ahead, meaning our content can only get better and better.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
Define and implement robust long-term contingency plans: financial, governmental, and technical. Separate the essential from the bells and whistles.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
My single most important goal (though by no means the only one) is to see the Foundation step in and impose a governance solution on its largest projects, albeit one that retains the concept of community self-government.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
My first goal is to represent the community: As a community member to control the foundation and take part in the policy making of the board.

Office performance[edit]

How do you feel Sue Gardner and the rest of the staff members have done over the last year in building the office, and moving to San Francisco? Ral315 (talk) 21:41, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Sue is doing a great job and I fully trust her.
Alex Bakharev
I do not have the whole information to answer the question yet. I would rather avoid to made a public evaluation of a full time work by a devoted project participants based on pieces of informations and rumors
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
There is so much that I am not privy to that it would be impossible to fairly attempt to evaluate the office performance without more information. My interactions with the staff have mostly left me with a positive impression of their work. Sue Gardner appears to be doing a good job. I have noticed a few areas which could be improved, but I see them mostly as growing pains that have already been resolved or will be resolved fairly soon.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I do not believe that the majority of candidates here have full knowledge, or even close to full knowledge, of how the staff have done. To the extent that they do, they are viewing it through a particular lens, perhaps one that does not reflect the whole picture. I do not feel it is at all appropriate for a potential board member to pass judgment upon the office staff, without a full and complete briefing of all of their activities. I would not hesitate, as a board member, to offer criticism (or praise) as needed; however it is much more appropriate coming from a position where the criticizer (or praiser) knows what they are talking about, rather than commenting from a potentially distorted position.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
The senior management's current strategy of denying wrongdoing and framing critics as "disgruntled" "trolls" is utterly disappointing. While this strategy predates Sue Gardner, I have observed that the strategy has become more emboldened during her tenure. The move to San Francisco felt disorganized and forced, and it introduced unnecessary new costs to what ought to be a leaner organization.

Gardner hired Erik Moeller straight from the Board of Directors, without announcing the new position, without conducting a competitive search for more suitable candidates for the Deputy Director role. In the past month, we've seen the folly of this procedural blunder; and it's alarming that it took place even in hindsight of the Carolyn Doran fiasco.

Harel Cain
(Harel)
I'm afraid I'm not in a position to make a very informed judgment. I got to see Sue in Taipei and she seemed very experienced and impressive. I was also impressed by the board at that time. We all know there have been too many scandals, some substantial, some a result of misinformed media, hypocrisy and schadenfreude. I'm an optimistic person and I tend to think our staff must surely be comprised of talented and devoted individuals. There have been accidents along the way, and if elected to the board, I hope to help make sure they don't recur.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Let me describe what I feel should be the relationship between the board and the staff.

The situation should be much like that between Moses and Aron in the bible. The Board in this analogy is Moses. It's job is to define the mission and define the "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots" for the staff. And it is for the staff to implement.

As in the bible, when the staff does something silly, like building a golden bull or maybe using the magical power of a rod to bring water out of the rock needlessly, when a spade would have done just as handily, it is the job of the board to rein the staff in.

To the degree that has not been the relationship so far (*if* it has not been that way), an adjustment needs to be made. If it has been that way, that is the way it should continue.

I note that Helsinki is somewhat remote from San Francisco.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Having not had much opportunity to interface with the staff so far, I am of course reserving judgment. However, in my dealings with Mike Godwin and Cary Bass, I have only good things to say. Obviously the fact that the move occurred without noticeable hiccups at the Project level is a good thing. While Board members are prohibited from interfering in the day to day, I would seek to get to know the Foundation staff and understand the operations of Foundation to judge future resource needs and scalability issues. Also, I am rather pleased at the fundraising efforts that have secured several large grants for the Foundation and would seek to see how the Board can work with the fundraising staff to maximize our efforts.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
While I have not interacted with many staff members, those I have interacted with have been pleasant, understandable, and genuinely nice people to work with. I believe that they hold our values at heart and are trying to implement them into a business model - not an easy task. However, due to my lack of interaction or involvement, I am withholding any judgement until I am better informed.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
At this point the only valid basis that I have for evaluating staff performance is "Assume good faith." There have been a few public incidents in the past, but expressing an opinion on a specific situation cannot be fairly extrapolated into a general criticism of a staff member. Carrying on about the unfortunate incidents in Carolyn Doran's personal life does nothing to answer the question, "How did she perform in the duties for which she was hired?". I have no reason to be critical of any staff member.
Ryan Postlethwaite
I’ve got to say, I have no real way of evaluating how Sue is doing because I have never been in direct contact with her. It would be unfair of me to comment not having a full picture. I would say however, she’s still in her early days with the foundation and it’s unfair to judge performance over such a short time frame.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
The staff seem to be pulling together into a strong and trustworthy team. My primary concern is making sure that this short-term strength not cut off a model of long-term sustenance that draws on the depths of talent and dedication in the community.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I'm afraid that, as that's a very difficult thing to evaluate from my vantage point, I have to cop-out on this one. I'm a regular reader of a variety of sites that discuss staff performance - most of it from an unfavourable perspective - so I wouldn't be going in blind, but I'm certainly not going to take office with preconceived notions of how staff members are doing their jobs without bothering to check things out for myself.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
While working on WikiMania 2007 in Taipei I got a glimpse on the work of the foundation staff. I found the coorperation not optimal, not professional and often tedious. I would like to take a close eye on this. Before that I would restrain myself to give a final opinion.

Membership[edit]

Do you believe the Wikimedia Foundation should revisit the decision whether to be a membership organization (ie, with dues-paying members), as specified by the original 2003 bylaws but never implemented? Why or why not? --brion 22:43, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Chapters are membership organizations. Anyone wishing to be member of Wikimedia, please join your local chapter, or, if no such chapter exist to date, help create one.
Alex Bakharev
I think the main stakeholders for the project are the editors, they should have the main influence over the organization. I think creation of a special class of fee-paying editors (based only in USA, right?) that have stronger influence over the foundation is a right decision.

We are currently creating a network of local chapters that maybe fee-paying to cover the costs. Maybe we can see if there is any advantage in the formal membership on that level

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
The idea of a membership organization sounds wonderful, but the benefits of a true membership organization are fairly minimal, and it adds complexity and risks creating inequality. There is also no real fair way of determining who should be members.

Wikimedia can and should become more community driven, but this does not require the foundation to become an actual membership organization. Additional community seats and a board more in touch with the community would serve the ideals of a membership much better then actual membership ever could.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I think the issue bears revisiting, and in a broad sense I am in favor of the idea of a membership based Wikimedia, especially as far as attracting donations is concerned. The idea deserves further study. Potentially it can help solve other problems too, such as issues of governance and community voicing. It also creates a slew of other concerns that need to be reviewed. Either way, it's not a step that should be entered into lightly, but it is a step that I believe absolutely deserves to be revisited.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
Attorney Alex Roshuk provided a substantial number of pro bono hours helping Jimmy Wales in the earliest days of the Foundation, trying to assist in its becoming a membership organization. Things fell apart when Wales brought together his closest associates to run the Board, and with their selection of Brad Patrick as legal counsel and executive director the notion of the Wikimedia Foundation being a transparent, community-member influenced organization was snuffed out. I tend to agree with Roshuk's lament, found at FreeWikipedians.org.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
I think it's enough to base the chapters as membership organizations. Introducing membership into the foundation as well will foster the notion of those who are "more equal than others", and I don't see how the benefits can possibly balance that.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
Some chapters will likely be membership based, so to some extent there is going to be that. The question then is should there be an overarching parallel foundation based membership, and whether membership in that would be automatic, if you are a member in any chapter. I am skeptical, but if someone has a suggestion that would work, I could be convinced otherwise. I don't however have a magic bullet answer myself.

There also remains a completely separate question of what to do about wikimedians who don't have a chapter they could join, or be represented by. This remains an espescially acute problem with the current board restructuring.. I really could see one or more chapters which are not geographically tightly local or national, but which would allow those who don't have a natural chapter fit be represented. I do acknowledge the difficulties of setting up such are formidable, whether it just be one large chapterless editor organisation, or for instance continent based chapterless umbrella-chapters, or even smaller units. But if choosing two trustees by chapters is going to be a permanent part of our operations, this needs to be considered seriously.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I've always been interested in that change, and understand it dealt with issues of Florida law. Of course if such a change would result in more community involvement in Foundations matters I would approve of it. However, I would need to be satisfied that the community involvement would include ALL community members, not just those willing to verify their identity, use a credit card, etc. Further, as I understand it, the reasons for incorporating in Florida were more convenience with the size and location of the Foundation at the time. Since the Foundation has grown so much over these years and moved to California, I would also investigate the advantages of re-incorporating in another state, particularly if such actions permitted a way to implement a membership organization under broader terms than apparently Florida law permits.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I believe that the membership "function" lies with the chapters. Members become members to get involved and contribute - and doing this on a local level is much more rewarding than on a global level, in my opinion. So, to answer your question, I do not believe that it would be appropriate to revisit the decision at this time, but I am not ruling out a possible future revisiting.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
The idea definitely merits revisiting, though that does not necessarily imply that membership would be based on paying dues. Ours is a large and complex organization that needs to acknowledge the importance of project, national and linguistic threads. It has no model that it can legitimately use as a template for its organization, yet if it could be put on the open market it could be worth several billion dollars.

The present situation where effective control is based in a small group with a tradition of corporate governance is open to abuse. The potential market value is the incentive for that abuse. Consider this future horror scenario when the operation has a market value of $10 billion: An offer of $10 million to each trustee to subvert the purposes of the organization would still only be be 1% of the market value. It might be enough to make the offer only to so many as can bring about quick changes to the by-laws ... Why waste money on a couple of dickish idealists? Somebody who puts this kind of scenario into operation is not going to warn everybody ahead of time. If you think you're incorruptible, take the time to lean back for a couple minutes and start imagining what $10 million would do for you when you are a college student that has survived for the last couple years on the brink of starvation in sub-standard housing. Exciting, isn't it?

What checks and balances do we have in place to prevent this? A membership organization may be one possibility; a chapter focused organization with a high proportion of decentralized governance may be another. I do know that once the nightmare has arrived it will be too late to wake up.

So yes, we should explore the membership option, along with a number of other possible governance options.

Ryan Postlethwaite
I’m not sure I would support the formation of a membership organisation. It’s all good and well the board having people to be directly accountable to, but I think they already have the perfect people for this job – the contributors to the projects. I don’t like the idea of the board being accountable to the people that pay the most money.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
this is something all community members should address.. There was only weak support for revisiting this idea when it was first undone.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
As I said in my answer to an earlier question, I don't believe that the Foundation should be accountable primarily towards its volunteers - that leaves out too many people with legitimate interests in the Foundation's activities. As far as I can tell, the initial plan for a membership-based Foundation (here are the earliest bylaws I could find on the subject) contemplated membership (or, at least, suffraged membership) on the basis of contributions to Wikimedia projects only, so I would reject that corporate model. It may be that a membership-based organization with more classes of members to better-represent the various stakeholders in Wikimedia projects would be beneficial, but I don't see it as a compelling need.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
My answer on this question is a premature no, and you are welcome to convince me I am wrong.

I confess I understand that there could be much benefits for a membership organization, and from the view of a european or american citizen it is almost compelling to change the foundation into such an organization.

But the WikiMedia projects are not first-world-only projects. For people from some country it could be difficult or even impossible to be a member. I see the danger that with a membership organization we would foster a two class community with contributers who are members and can vote on foundation policy (and maybe elect board member or candidate for the board) and people who are not members and cannot. I am uneasy about such an idea.

I think a membership in the chapters are far more better. The chapters are organised according to the local law, where the member live.

But as I said at the beginning. This is a premature opinion of mine and you are welcome to convince me that my concern are not relevant.

Offline goals[edit]

Do you believe the Wikimedia Foundation should concentrate resources on online activities or divert more work to offline efforts? There has been much talk about reaching those without internet access, but is this something our organization can effectively do? If it is to become a priority, how should resources be allocated to achieve it, without coming at the expense of our primary audience and contributor base? --brion 22:43, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
Chapters, in my opinion, are the perfect vehicle for off line efforts, so the Foundation can concentrate efforts on on line activities.
Alex Bakharev
Wiki has some kind of anarchist approach to the things. If people believe there is value in some project (like getting an offline edition) they just do it. Internet grows with such a speed that I am afraid to the time we will be ready to make a full official offlin edition anybody would have an online access anyway, though I would love to have a nicely printed CD/DVD/Blue Ray whatever labeled Wikipedia 1.0 in my bookshelf. Our efforts on the creation of reviewed version of the online wiki should significantly help with the offlin publications as well.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
I like the idea of offline distribution. I create a daily PDF version of the English Wikinews called the Wikinews Print Edition. Offline distribution expands the availability of our content. We should support offline distribution efforts, provided they do not come at the expense of more effective distribution methods.

As long as online distribution remains the most effective way to distribute content we should consider it to be our top priority. Offline distribution is valuable, but must not come at the expense of online distribution. If something changes that makes offline distribution or some other method more effective, we should switch our focus to that method. Our goal is to develop and disseminate information, whatever way lets us do this best is what we should devote our resources to.

Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
Yes, it is something that we can and should be doing. According to the FAQ The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free content license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. Nothing about the mission says that it must be online, or offline, merely that it be global and effective. To that end, I firmly believe that the online component should be at the forefront of our efforts. Offline components are good, but remember our mission is to do so in the most effective global manner, and as far as I can tell, right now that is via the online content. If an opportunity presents itself where we can support our mission offline, without hurting the broader mission that the online content supports, then I'm all for that.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
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 unacceptable content.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
Let's differentiate between distributing content offline (for example, in poor countries) and helping bond editors together as a community in the real world. These are different issues, and both are important. For the first issue, I see cooperations with other organizations as the key to success. I'm thinking along the lines of the Moulin project that was introduced in WM 2007 for example. With our GFDL content, it's quite easy for all sorts of organizations (governments, NGOs etc.) to find new distribution channels, and we can help along and advise. The second issue of advancing local communities of editors all over the world is ours only, and I think the foundation should, at times, help local chapters achieve this goal both organizationally and financially (to a reasonable degree).
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
There are two kinds of off-line.

There is the wikimeet, wikichapter, etc. side of things. This I think properly enriches our online activities, rather than drains resources from it, as long as remain focused on our mission.

Then there is the fixed media side. That is something we should get into only after others have thoroughly tested the workability of the concept, and even then only if we have decided it really will not detract from our basic content creation/collection mission. Go slow, there. We can still get into that in 2019 if we like, no rush.

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
I believe the WMF best does online content generation and propagation. While things that relate to it, such as Meetups, and Academies, and Manias build on online content generation, I am on the opinion that our primary focus should be in the online aspects and not the offline aspects. While we have enough legal headaches in navigating online licenses and liabilities, I am not eager to jump into the world of off-line liability through the MWF being a publisher of products or in dealing with consumer product liability, etc. So my primary focus would the online projects and those off-line activities that directly support them. Since our online projects generate lots of free content, there is no reason that some organization better suited at off-line distribution can not take it and further work with the material, as has been done in Germany.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
I think that this is something that Wikimedia needs to pursue (continuing the success of Wikimania). However, I also believe that this is a project that the chapters could spearhead - working for these events on a local basis rather than the board and foundation overseeing them globally.

As I have stated in previous answers, offline interaction is of absolute paramount importance, and is something that the communities should embrace - I know there is a regular UK meetup in pubs in / around London. I think this offers a great chance to meet and discuss in a more informal environment - and it is no secret that humans perform better when face to face as opposed to being blocked from seeing and speaking by a computer screen.

As for expanding into offline media (which is what I suspect your question is more about), I believe that this is something we can achieve in the future. Not all projects are ready to submit material into this process, and if this is to happen, it would be unfair and unrepresentative to divert funds to "Wikipedia on DVD" as opposed to a true knowledge base, containing the best of the best of our media, text, news, quotes, books, and everything else that I have missed - which I would suspect would take up a good few DVDs in itself.

Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
The answers here are rooted in the budgeting process. For any enterprise budgeting in periods of rapid growth is next to impossible, and it's also a time when the threat of total collapse is ever present. It needs greater resources to sustain higher demand, but cash flow tends to lag demand. When growth becomes more predictable it provides the opportunity to explore less urgent aspects of our mission. Server upgrade can follow an equipment plan where the most senior equipment can be retired without damaging our ability to serve our public. If we know that a particular new piece of equipment has a five-year life expectancy we can amortize its cost over that time, and begin to build its replacement into the budget five years hence.

Once we have secured our base we can and should budget for outreach in the most cost-effective ways. I can't predict whether a hardcopy Wikipedia 1.0, or providing content for the One Laptop Per Child will be the most effective way to use funds. Nevertheless, Research & Development is an important component of long-range planning. Some R&D will lead to dead ends. Some will lead to ideas which we cannot sustain but which could be sold to others to recover R&D costs. Still others can be integrated into our mission when it's cost effective to do so.

Ryan Postlethwaite
I would fully support more effort being made into making Wikimedia projects into an offline medium. I don’t necessarily mean we should create a print copy – in many ways this would be a bad idea because we’ll find all too often that this goes out of date the minute it gets printed. One of the key advantages of having the encyclopedia as an online resource is the fact that content can be updated the minute there is new information on the subject. What I’d certainly support is making offline copies available to people who do not have access to a regular internet connection – One Laptop Per Child would certainly be an ideal target audience for this project.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
this is something all community members should address.. The Foundation should avoid unlawfully prohibiting community members from trying to do this themselves, as happened with an effort to make wikibooks available via Lulu.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I am generally supportive of efforts towards some form of Wikipedia 1.0, as a starting point for non-electronic publication. However, I think that this should be done either by an existing publisher or by a new organization; I would much rather that the WMF focus on the online element, at which it has demonstrated some level of competence, rather than jeopardizing its viability by venturing into something so risky. Besides that, I don't believe the WMF has a single project with sufficient high quality content to make a respectable paper encyclopaedia/book/other project. Nevertheless, I think it should be a goal to see content developed in Wikimedia projects disseminated at some point, and this should be a major consideration of any discussion on migrating the license from the GFDL to something under the Creative Commons umbrella. All of this said, I would be astonished if there was a viable large-scale print project in the works by the time whoever is elected is finished his one year term.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I think we should concentrate ourselves with our online activities. What I also think we can do is to coorperate with development charities. They are more professional than us and they know what they need and what they don't need. They have the local contacts that we don't have, and they have the professionals.

To initiate such coorperations is a thing that the foundation and the board can und should do.

BTW, Brion, do you know if there is plan in the developper community to make MediaWiki more viable for smartphones and other mobile devices. I see this a task that is more in accordance to our goal.

Who can we trust?[edit]

Please tell us why we should believe your promises and assertions. What makes you credible? Are any other candidates especially less credible? Why? (WAS 4.250) 4.250.168.246 00:22, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Confirmed as being w:en:User:WAS 4.250. Daniel (talk) 01:26, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
As a non-board member I was appointed to the Audit Committee to the Board in January 2007. Last month I was reappointed for another fiscal year.
Alex Bakharev
My wiki history can be easily seen online. I was always trying to be true to my words. My real life history is available via googling. I am editing under my real name and do not hide and skeletons. I have spent a lot of time doing wiki work and the project is dear to me.
Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
My credibility can best be evaluated by my contributions. I have had my real name on my user page for most of the time I have been an editor. I am proud of the work I do on the Wikimedia projects, and I have no problem associating it with my real life identity. I have no reason to doubt the credibility of any other candidates.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
I certainly don't intend to speculate on the credibility of the other candidates here. I personally have for a long time been very open about my identity on Wikimedia projects. I link my account to my real name. I have no skeletons in my closet, as mentioned above. If you think that the candidates, most of whom have spent several years towards helping Wikimedia projects as unpaid volunteers, lack credibility in wanting to help continue to volunteer on the Board, then I'm not sure what answer to the question would satisfy you.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
What's your first and last name, WAS 4.250? Where do you live? Who is your employer? I, for one, don't like the tone of your questions, especially the second and third ones. I would hope that my fellow candidates will not stoop to sniping at the perceived "credibility" of one another. All of us have our real names and reputations on the line. You're swooping in with the cloak of anonymity to ask us why you should trust us? Based on your past insightful and incisive questions that I've seen you pose, especially in conflict of interest disputes, I'm disappointed by this one.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
I hope I can use the credibility I won over at my home project for that. Over the course of 3.5 years I proved myself there as credible, reliable and friendly editor. When I was elected as checkuser, the result was 32 for and 0 against. When I was made bureaucrat, I was again happy to receive wide support with a result of about 96 for and 2 against. I'm often called upon to mediate and arbitrate between warring parties. I never hid my identity, have attended multiple local meetups and also Wikimania 2007 where at least some people from abroad got to know me better.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
This is the eternal question. I think the only real answer is: You can't. You simply can not trust any of us. We need to be held accountable. Which one of us you do in the event vote for, and elect; whether it be me or any one of the other candidates... I *beseech* you to not leave it at that. Do continue to examine us and our actions, and require that our actions can be examined.

Not to appear too sombre, let me remind you of the journalists motto which goes something like "If your mother says she loves you, remember to verify that."

Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
Well I think you can trust me because I've been public on en.wiki since I registered my account name. I spread a wide internet footprint and have been trusted in similar situations before. As to my colleagues running, they all have verified their real life identities, and their editing contributions and logs speak to their record. Also, this term is for a finite period of time, so if I or one of the other fine candidates running were to break their promises, I'd expect the voting community to refuse to re-elect them.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
Aside from my editing history, there isn't much around to support my assertions that I will work to better the communities by being elected to the board. I know I have built strong friendships with many editors on my home project, and they may be able to vouch for me, however I hope that by placing your trust in me I will not disappoint. As to the second and third questions, I will not be answering as this is not a place to harm or hinder the other candidates, all of whom I am sure have the same overall values as I: to better the foundation and its' projects. I have no interest in slandering any other candidate.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
The one feature which both trustworthy and untrustworthy candidates have in common is that both will say that they are trustworthy. One cannot depend on what either says. I have been around for over six years, on Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikisource and the mailing lists, and my endurance speaks for itself.

I know of one candidate that I would consider less credible because of comments on another unconnected site, but to name him would be to engage in the same kind of behaviour as he.

Ryan Postlethwaite
I have no comments on who would be, and who wouldn’t be credible if they got elected – I personally thank my fellow candidates for offering their services to the foundation. With regards to credibility – I am who I say I am. I hope people who know me realise that I’m a genuine person who speaks from the heart. I’ve been a respected admin (March 2007) and MedCom (September 2007) member on the English Wikipedia for some time now, and I believe that my contributions to the project speak for themselves.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
This is a hard one to answer! And one of the reasons that good candidates should be long-standing and long-known community members.
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
My record is limited, and admittedly not readily accessible to most of you, but I feel comfortable standing on it. Besides the incident I mentioned in my answer to this question - which should give any voter serious, serious pause - I think I left everybody I've worked with with generally positive impressions of me, and I'd be happy to provide references at anybody's request. Regarding the second part of your question, I don't think my position as a candidate has given me any privileged perspective on my opponents' levels of trustworthiness, so I'll leave it at that none of them have done anything to make me stop assuming good faith on their part.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
I think I have a good reputation in the chinese community. I have joy in edit articles and contributing content; I have courages to do unpopular and annoying works, for example do copyvio check and image license checking; I took a lot part in policy building discussions in the earlier years on chinese Wikipedia. In the last year I didn't took a lot part on the policy discussion but am occasionally called to moderate conflicts. I have no secrets, in RL or online.

I personally know Harel and Sj and I trust them. I know Harel by his talk in Taipei and I know Sj from the WikiMania in Frankfurt and Taipei.

Response to Threats of Violence[edit]

Recently, there have been several news-making threats of violence posted on various Wikipedia articles, such as Violent threats on Wilson High's Wikipedia page went unchecked. Stories like this can be very embarrassing for the project. There is still no codified method in responding to these sorts of threats and other than a short note from Jimbo. There has been utter silence from Mr Mike Godwin. While it is most likely that a vast majority threats are hoaxes, there is the tiny chance that there very well might be a manifesto posted about a legitimate threat. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Det. Dan Jackson has advised "How do you make them accountable for policing it? It's pretty much impossible," he said. "Somebody with authority, like the administrator, should be monitoring it" and reporting threats to police, because "we certainly can't cruise the Internet on thousands of sites." As a board member, what is your position on this issue? What should the policy be regarding responding to such threats and what level of direction should be expected from the board? Bstone 04:26, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

  • Addendum to question: The community recently rejected a proposal on the English Wikipedia which attempted to set a guideline or policy regarding reporting these threats to the police. Do you feel, as a board member, that you should overturn the community's decision? Furthermore, do you feel that communication with the authorities should only come from the WMF or can it come from community members who have great concern and interest in the issue. Bstone 04:41, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
Ad Huikeshoven
(Dedalus)
A project issue, not a Foundation, Board or Office issue. Project communities handle these issues very well through admin activity and OTRS queue.
Alex Bakharev
We have tens of thousands incidents of vandalism reverted a day, many of those incidents can be reconstructed as a threat of violence of a sort. The absolute majority of the threats are just silly vandalism some are credible enough to warrant informing the authorities. Only humans can recognize which threats are credible and which are not. In most cases there is absolutely no reasons why a user who just discovered a credible threat of violence could not directly inform the police directly instead of using WMF as proxies. Still there are cases there WMF or project volunteers could help: imagine e.g. a Canadian editor discovered a threat to Singapore school. What is the contact for the Singapore authorities? Do they speak English? I imagine contacting WMF, OTRS, or a board on a project would be easier for the concerned user. In that case the judgment is on us and I would think that if a small chance of the threat be reasonable we should pass the informations to the authorities.

In the case in question no sensitive information were released (the IP was already publicly visible). Releasing sensitive info (e.g. the IPs for a register user) is ruled by community guidelines and usually requires subpoena. Obviously a legal advise from a professional may be indicate a problem with the guidelines. Obviously, in that case WMF should insist on modifying the guidelines.

Craig Spurrier
(Cspurrier)
When we have enough information available to make a meaningful report to the authorities, we should do so. We are not qualified to determine if a threat is credible or not. I am by no means calling for a mindless reporting of every bit of vandalism, but for us to use our judgment and report any threats that could possibly be credible and we have enough information to make a useful report. If the user who discovered the threat is able to, they should report the threat themselves and alert the foundation. If they are not able to (Alex Bakharev example of Canadian editor discovering a threat to Singapore school) the office should attempt to coordinate the reporting. The best thing we can do is have an established method of handling threats, so as to avoid the circus we get otherwise. Mishandling of a threat could have very serous real world implications that I believe outweigh the opinion of the Wikipedia community.
Dan Rosenthal
(Swatjester)
This is an issue for the office staff, OTRS, and/or the projects, not the board. To the extent that the board has a stake in this, it is determining the privacy policy implications for the manner in which sensitive data about users may be released to law enforcement. To that end, the board has an already established policy, for how sensitive information may be released to law enforcement either via subpoena, or in time sensitive situations without one. I am absolutely, 100% opposed to the board overturning the decision of the community. That is not the role of the board, and that is contrary to the general principles of the WMF: if it were to ever happen, it would be for something far more important and urgent than making policy out of something very widely rejected by the project's community as unnecessary.
Gregory Kohs
(Thekohser)
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. I hope that Bstone and others reading this will 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.
Harel Cain
(Harel)
Whenever the "real world" meets the wiki world strange things can happen. It's very easy to be holier than thou and act with superhuman responsibility, drafting a policy according to which every such incident will have to be dealt with within 5 minutes by a WMF employee according to some detailed prescribed protocol. Is that realistic? Not very much. We're a global project, so many different languages. Customs and norms are different from place to place. It just won't work. It's up for responsible editors in every project to be able to differentiate between real problems (shooting threats, murder threats, suicidal intentions, you name it) and hoaxes, vandalisms etc. I just fail to see how a formal global protocol for handling such incidents can work.
Jussi-Ville Heiskanen
(Cimon Avaro)
This question, just as the question about "obscene material" suffers fatally from overbroadness. How long is a piece of string, exactly? Is "Fuck you!" a threat? We can collectively act correctly to the best of our ability, without attempting to make misjudgement of a persons intent a punishable matter. We need to deal with threats, yes, and do so as well as we know how. But no, thinking that a particular choice of words is jocular, rather than vindictive, is not something you can legislate against.
Kurt M. Weber
(Kmweber)
no response yet.
Matthew Bisanz
(MBisanz)
This presents an interesting question Bstone that I'm glad you asked. My position would be that the Foundation and by extension the Board, plays no direct role in analyzing or reporting threat of violence. At the same time, I'd encourage the development of an OTRS-like tool through which TOVs could be reported and processed. Ideally such a tool would have the speed of Oversight reporting. Further, my creating a tool to be staffed by volunteers, the Foundation is protected from liability issues and teh volunteers are better able to match their geographic locations with the actual TOV. For instance, if a threat came through today on en.wiki and the IP/threat indicated it was in Finland, it would take a great deal of time sorting through which editors live where, contacting one of them to call the Finnish police. A reporting system creates a set of standard operating procedures that would work regardless of if the Foundation office is closed and all the board members are asleep. And to the addendum, if some wikis decided they didn't want to report TOVs or all of a wikis editors didn't report threats, well it is a volunteer project and I don't think the Board should override community consensus and try to force volunteer editors to actively do things.
Paul Williams
(Skenmy)
As a Board member, I would consider this a project-level issue that can be escalated to office-level if needed. Humans are capable of determining if a threat is petty vandalism or something that might need to be taken more seriously - and it is up to the discretion of our communities to decide whether to bring the information to the Office, who can deal with it further.
Ray Saintonge
(Eclecticology)
A common feature in the news reports about serious perpetrators of violence is that the people closest to them had no idea that they could do this. Are we who are complete strangers to the individual in question in any better position to evaluate a credible threat? We can suggest procedures to be followed if a person believes he has found a credible threat, but we cannot require any initiative on the part of any Wikimedian. There are no foolproof guidelines that everyone can use to evaluate a threat. Most of us do not normally encounter these threats, so we cannot draw upon experience.

This is one of those situations where we need to realize that we are mostly powerless, and that nothing we can do will significantly change the course of events.

Ryan Postlethwaite
I’ve spoken to you Bstone about this in some depth, and I think we have very different views on the matter. I believe it’s up to the individual who sees the threat to either report the incident to the authorities, or to the foundation for them to decide what to do. We do waste a lot of time on-wiki deciding exactly what to do, and arguing over whether or not something is a threat. A simple post to AN/I, and a response by someone saying they’re reported it to the relevant authorities is all that it takes – not huge amounts of meta discussion. I do think the foundation has a responsibility here – they should be available to make decisions, should community members report threats to them. They shouldn’t be dictating to the communities how to deal with them.
Samuel Klein
(Sj)
An issue for each project. this is something all community members should address..
Steve Smith
(Sarcasticidealist)
I think the appropriate response to a threat of violence with any specificity is to report it to the relevant law enforcement personnel, and I think this should be Foundation-mandated (I remain open to changing my mind if Mr. Godwin has some compelling reason that he's remained silent). These things need to be handled with discretion, but that discretion should come from law enforcement, not from the Wikimedia community.
Response to addendum: Insofar as establishing a protocol to report threats of violence constitutes overruling the community, I suppose that I do believe that it should overrule the community, although I'd favour something very brief (one sentence, likely), with the proviso that everything beyond that (e.g. where should these things be logged?) could be a community decision. As for who should do the reporting, I would think that it would almost always be volunteers, since the WMF offices aren't always open. Restricting it to WMF staff would defeat a good part of the policy's purpose.
Ting Chen
(Wing)
We have threats of violence against individual Wikipedians on chinese Wikipedia occasionally. In most cases because the user don't agree with this or that decision, mostly because he uploaded copyright violating stuff or the uploads don't fill the condition for fair-use.

In most cases we consider these threats vandalism. We will block the user and delete the content.

The community cannot go to police because the community is de jure not a person. If a individual member of the community want to go to police the community cannot prevent him because it is an individual decision. If the threat is serious and severe, and there is a chapter in that country, I think the chapter can (and probably should) go to police.

While preparing the Taipei WikiMania we got a very serious threat. We had enough reason to assume that the person can do harm. The local preperation committee reported the case to the police and the person was kept in a psychiatry during the conference. I think this was a right decision.