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Risk Assessment Document update[edit]

The Audit committee at their March meeting wmf:Audit Committee/2015-03-16 referred to this update being ready for the Board by the end of June and then refers to "review of the document by the Community". Does the Board have that update, or does it expect to have it in the next few days? What arrangements will the Board make to publish it for review by the community? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:34, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

Two months later, without response or even acknowledgement, should we assume that the document has still not been delivered to the Board? Or that the Board has decided not to share it with the Community? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:39, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
And now it is nearly four months. I think we should make this a major issue in the next board elections. --76.194.210.58 09:43, 22 October 2015 (UTC)
This was delivered to the Board by the July meeting. There was almost nothing confidential in it, so I hope that a finance staff member will share a public version soon. [In the future, better to structure the whole document as a public doc, with a possible private addendum, to avoid this delay – not having regular public feedback is an important meta-risk]. SJ talk  23:46, 8 December 2015 (UTC)
Is this the document that was belatedly added to the Wikimedia Foundation Annual Plan/2015-16? If not, will it be published "for Community review" as suggested last March and if so when? It seems unsatisfactory that it should have taken so very long to decide on this point and that there is still no definitive answer on this page nine months since the Audit Committee meeting and six months after my original question. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 17:27, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Since the time has come round again for this document to be produced, sadly without any progress on the issue I raised last year, please may we be assured that the Audit Committee will prepare this year's Risk Assessment in a form which makes it convenient for review by the Community, without major effort required for redaction, and that the Board will then actually publish it for such review? It is entirely possible that the Community may have some useful input to this process. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:54, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

Reliability[edit]

Our shared vision is free knowledge for all, but reliable information is what makes knowledge, and presently we are publishing unreliable assertions. Readers and editors who responded to the recent community consultation [1] wanted improved accuracy and neutrality in our offering. By my estimation there are fewer than fifteen English language Wikipedia articles that have a version that meets our own definition of reliable.* The board needs to recognise this as a serious failure, and needs to empower the community and the WMF to prioritise making the world's encyclopedia trustworthy.

Improving quality was on the five-year-plan but to my knowledge not one staff member was appointed to monitor reliability. There is no board committee tasked with monitoring the problem. No resolution addresses it.

I'd like to hear individual board members' thoughts on this issue, and wonder if the board might consider passing a resolution that acknowledges Wikimedia's reliability problem and empowers the WMF and the FDC to enthusiastically support realistic initiatives addressing the problem.

I realise the board can only express wishes and intentions, and give overall direction and priorities to the ED and the FDC. But you're not presently doing that with regard to the reliability problem. And I realise there are limits to what the WMF can do. But they will be restrained even in that already limited capacity without clear direction on reliability from you, the board.

I'd like to see the board name the problem as a priority issue, and so encourage volunteers and partners to work toward a solution, and reassure the FDC and the ED that they may direct appropriate resources toward it. While the board publicly ignores the problem, it is harder to convince potential partners that we have the WMF's full support in our efforts to address it.

* Here I'm referring to articles like Dengue fever, where this version passed expert review and was published in a journal.

Anthonyhcole (talk) 02:37, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

"Reliability" made me first think of site reliability (in terms of server uptime and connectivity), but we obviously have articles such as w:en:Reliability of Wikipedia. Maybe accuracy or verifiability or breadth of deep, rich content could be alternate terms to explore?
There's a larger question of how much the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees should be focused on editorial content. That's typically the editors' purview. Keeping the sites up and available for reading and writing (i.e., site operations) is what this Board of Trustees is really responsible for, not prioritizing content development and quality, per se. That said, the Board has passed resolutions such as wmf:Resolution:Controversial content. These types of resolutions are largely decorative/toothless, though it sounds like you may be fine with that. For example, in the case of controversial content, it was a lot of time spent, ultimately resulting in the conclusion that the community needs to solve the problem itself and has been implementing adequate enough measures to do so. Similarly, even if you get a resolution passed about the reliability of editorial content, it probably won't have much effect on its own as it will probably mostly be a few paragraphs reaffirming that the Wikimedia community is in charge of the content and that we all eventually want great, high-quality content. --MZMcBride (talk) 21:44, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
I think I agree with all of that. "Accuracy", "trustworthiness", any number of terms might capture the concept. I settled on "reliability" because it's what we use at en.Wikipedia to denote the best sources, but I'm not wedded to it.
The WMF won't be involved in editorial decisions, but the board should be (and is) concerned about the reliability of our product. The resolution would be largely symbolic: encouraging efforts already under way, and giving the green light to the FDC and ED to support them and new initiatives as they arise from the community.
On the mailing list, Gerard asked what would the money be spent on. IEG's, and chapters are already supporting these initiatives (and individuals are contributing a lot of their own personal funds). I attended a conference in London last year that was all about improving the reliability of Wikimedia's science content. That was supported by WMUK and Wellcome Trust. I envision a summit happening in the next few years, where the editors-in-chief of the world's top medical journals agree on a structure to provide free expert review for our medical content. Hopefully, we can tack that on to an existing industry conference, but it will still cost something. The resolution would simply endorse this kind of thing as a ligitimate use of WMF resources.
One project I'm working on will require some developer input as it matures. It would help us when we're competing for developers' time if the board expressly prioritised making our product reliable.
I also agree with your last sentence but would just highlight your use of "eventually". This symbolic gesture from the board would, in my opinion, smooth the road and speed things up a bit. It won't cost the board anything but a bit of time, and would help us at the coal face. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 23:49, 31 January 2016 (UTC)
Would you be pushing for reliability assessment across the board, or for selected aspects? For example reliable information in medical articles has a more direct influence on the usefulness of Wikipedia than reliable information in engineering and taxonomic articles, or articles on music, sports, games, politics and religion. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 07:12, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Peter, if you're referring to assessing the reliability of a sample of our content on a topic, then I'm still open to ideas about how best to do that. But one method would involve subjecting a random sample to rigorous expert review, using the field's top researchers and scholars chosen by the editors of the relevant top peer-reviewed journals. If that's the method employed, then you'd be limited to assessing only topics that are well-covered by good scholarship, and where the relevant journals are willing to get involved.
But we're getting off track here. There are many possible approaches to making Wikimedia reliable. Here, I'm just asking the board to make a statement to the effect that (a) it is a problem that the world's encyclopedia and most (all?) other Wikimedia products are not reliable sources and (b) it empowers the WMF to support reasonable efforts to fix that. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 09:52, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Doesn't it seem like a majority of Wikipedia articles (at the English Wikipedia) are not on subjects "well-covered by good scholarship"? Also, it's worth pointing people to w:en:Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/Google Project again. When we did something similar before, we determined that even the very organized and active WikiProject Medicine wasn't able to handle more than about 20 reviews (all on important subjects) in a reasonable length of time. A sustained rate of five reviews a month would be seriously pushing our capacity to respond. If a review falls on a talk page, and nobody acts upon it, did it make a sound? WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:56, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing:
  1. Are the majority of topics in Wikipedia poorly covered by scholarship? Yes. So? An awful lot are well-covered - like most medical topics.
  2. Regarding the Google project, It was poorly conceived. The pilot I'm running only reviews articles that have passed FA and have been nominated for review by the editors. I'm not proposing dumping unsolicited reviews on random articles.
  3. Regarding the existing WP:MED workforce not being able to handle 20 reviews a year, I know. The main, underlying hypothesis here is, if we offer review by the world's top experts, it will incentivise other experts to start editing and getting our articles up to FA, and responding to the review.
Think what you will of the last point, but only doing it will prove or disprove it. If it doesn't ultimately lead to large numbers of experts volunteering to work our medical articles up to FA, then it will have failed. I know this. Believe me, What, I've thought this through.
Anyway. Why are you taking this opportunity to criticise one attempt at improving Wikipedia's reliability. My question is, should the WMF board of trustees care that Wikipedia is unreliable, and should they urge the WMF to support efforts to improve reliability? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 00:27, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
  1. IMO a more broadly applicable approach might be appropriate. Reliability matters for biographies of living people, even though >95% of them aren't "covered by scholarship" at all.
  2. The Google Project wasn't poorly conceived. It did not address random articles. It addressed important articles, especially articles that are of relevance to developing countries.
  3. I honestly don't think that this incentive will actually produce more experts creating FAs on scholarly subjects. I wish it would, of course, and the only way to prove it is to try, but if the allure of having "your" medical subject featured on the Main Page doesn't attract a medical expert enough to figure out how to edit, what to say, how to source, where to get help, how to resolve disputes, what the conventions are, how to navigate the FAC process, etc., then adding a Board resolution in favor of reliability (and motherhood and apple pie) seems unlikely to do so. It certainly would make no difference in my own willingness to take an article to FAC, and I'm already well past the learning curve. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:24, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
I'm happy to discuss specific approaches to improving reliability, though it's off-topic for this thread - which is about the simple notion that the board recognises unreliability is a problem and empowers the WMF to support sensible efforts to improve reliability.

  1. There is more than one approach to improving reliability. Different topics will have different solutions.
  2. The Google project was poorly conceived. It missed the important point that volunteers will work on whatever articles take their fancy, when they feel like it. It's all very well having experts turn up at an article and offer advice (I think they were medical writers not topic experts, though), but if no one feels like working on that topic, nothing will happen. The model we're discussing - the pilot I'm working on - waits for an article to reach FA before the topic experts step in.
  3. You can dismiss such a motion as motherhood and apple pie. From their complete lack of response here, it seems the board does too. I don't, and I'm the guy trying to actually do something, structurally, about reliability. I don't expect the board motion to have a direct effect on your motivation or random experts' motivation to edit medical articles. It would help me in approaching potential partners - particularly medical journal editors-in-chief - and it would help me when I'm competing for scarce developer time within the WMF. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 02:41, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
Considering that the "Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia" grant application was funded to allow WMF to develop "the most reliable and trustworthy public information channel on the planet", I would have thought that an explicit commitment to reliability by the Board would not come amiss: refusing to do so when asked would look very odd in the context of that grant application. It will be interesting to hear from the Board how, in their opinion, the fact that Wikipedia does not regard itself as a reliable source fits into that commitment. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 12:23, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

Utterly opposed to the Board or Foundation having any control or standards for editorial content on any national Wikipedia including, but not limited to, en-Wikipedia beyond, at least, editorial content involving legal issues. To do so goes against the very wiki-nature of the project. The suggestions made at Jimbo's talk page and on the Village Pump are nothing less than converting Wikipedia from a wiki to, at least in part, a professionally-edited encyclopedia. Why aren't the original principles on which Wikipedia was founded sufficient? People may rant about reliability, but the success of the encyclopedia in its present form clearly indicates that those are the expressions of a vocal minority versus the millions of people who use Wikipedia on a daily basis without substantial concern about its reliability. It's also to be remembered that it is and is intended to be nothing more than an encyclopedia. It's not intended to be an academic source and need not be more reliable than traditional encyclopedias of the past. I have no issue with the idea, as suggested by Jimbo on his talk page, is that the primary role of the Foundation should be to provide, through software, means by which reliability can be made easier to achieve or unreliability easier to avoid or control, but I'm opposed to any direct intervention on their part in regard to editorial content or, indeed, to having software changes forced upon the individual Wikipedia communities which those communities believe to be more harmful than beneficial. Regards, TransporterMan (talk) 19:07, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

TransporterMan: I agree the Board or Foundatiion may not control content. Nor should they. This proposed resolution is not about that. I'm asking for an expression of concern from the board that Wikipedia and its sister projects are unreliable, and a call from them for the WMF to support efforts to improve reliability.
You say complaints about reliability are the expressions of a vocal minority. I understand some editors don't care and like things just the way they are, but the main plea coming from readers and editors in the recent community consultation (I discuss this below in my response to Ajpolino) was for improved quality, reliability and accuracy. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 00:27, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Oppose I'm sorry but this is kinda silly to expect the foundation board to make a statement like this. Its not going to happen and its just not realistic. Of course its not "reliable", its updated by individuals with no proven professional certifications or training (some have them, but we don't make them prove it to edit). Frankly, until the WMF can get a handle on civility, attrition and recruitment, the board has bigger problems to deal with than stating the obvious. Reguyla (talk) 19:50, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Reguyla: Well, Jimmy said he'd sponsor such a resolution if there was support for it from the community. And from the comments immediately above and below, do you think it's obvious to everyone? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 00:27, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
@Anthonyhcole: Honestly I don't know why we even care if Jimmy would support it. He has a position only because he is the founder and does almost nothing for the projects these days. If it were up to me I would remove his Admin access he never uses and remove any mention of him being an avenue of review for the Arbcom. Still though, if the WMF deals with the problems with abusive admins thinking they are exempt from policy and the toxic environment on the projects that's hindering recruitment and driving away editors then a lot of these types of problems will work themselves out. Because we will have editors actually editing instead of a bunch of POV pushers and power hungry bureaucrats that don't actually edit. Reguyla (talk) 22:09, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose any such move. Wikipedia is not supposed to be reliable in the same way that our sources we use are reliable. Otherwise, study after study have shown that, contrary to insistence otherwise by random people who don't actually do any studies in this direction, Wikipedia is generally more reliable than most other only sources of a similar nature. Given that a) the premise is wrong and b) we already explain the reliability of Wikipedia, I'm not sure what else we need to do here. --Jayron32 (talk) 21:13, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
Jayron32: Who says Wikipedia is not supposed to be reliable? We all know it isn't, but do we all think that's how it has to be? Those studies into the reliability of Wikipedia are all poor quality. But even if Wikipedia is as reliable as some other sources, shouldn't it be better? Just because you can't envision a way for that to happen without harming Wilipedia, doesn't mean a way can't be found. No one is proposing a solution should be forced on the encyclopedia. The foundation wouldn't try, and if they did the community would reject it. The solutions come from the community. All I'm asking for here is the board to give moral support to the aspiration. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 00:27, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose Comment (See below for addition). I think such a statement has potential downsides that outweigh any upsides that I can see. I fear that if the board were to release such a statement, it may irritate some editors who might take it as an insult to their hard work. It seems to me that some editors already feel that the board does not have their best interests in mind, and so I'm afraid a statement like this could fan the flames.
I'm not totally clear on what the benefits would be. I've read the arguments above, but they seem a bit abstract and hypothetical. Could you please explicitly state what you think the positives of such a statement would be? I think that would help some of us to better understand your position. Thanks! Ajpolino (talk) 01:19, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Hi, Ajpolino. The community is aware of the reliability problem. Last year, the WMF surveyed 1,295 people, asking them to describe (a) global trends that are affecting Wikimedia projects and (b) characteristics of vibrant and healthy projects in the future. The respondents were 69% anonymous, 7% new accounts created to complete the survey, and 24% established, experienced users.[2] Although this last group were only 24% of respondents, they made 31% of the comments. [3]
The 2,468 comments were organised into 28 themes; the top five emerging concerns (by number of respondents mentioning them) were, in order of popularity:
  1. Mobile & apps
  2. Multimedia
  3. Accuracy
  4. Neutrality
  5. Content structure and breadth [4]
I'm happy to define "reliability" as "accuracy and neutrality" so, if you combine those comments, reliability outranks all other concerns.
The ranking of these concerns differs between logged-in users (more likely to reflect the editor perspective) [5] and anonymous respondents (more likely to represent the readers)[6] but accuracy and neutrality were high on both groups' list of concerns.
I would like the board to just acknowledge these concerns, and empower the WMF to support any realistic initiatives that address them. That's all.
In practical terms, when I approach a potential partner institution with a proposal that they work with us to improve reliability, it would help me a lot to be able to point them to such a resolution, and reassure them that the WMF is supporting such efforts. When I approach the Funds Dissemination Committee to fund a conference or meeting aimed at devising strategies to measure or improve Wikimedia's reliability, it would help me if I could point them to such a resolution. When I approach the very pressed WMF technical team for help with software to present the reviewed versions of our articles, it would help to be able to point them to such a resolution. But that's just me. There are many others working on the reliability problem who would also benefit from a clear statement from the board on this. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 04:17, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. I'm not sure I have the experience to really evaluate those benefits since I have no involvement with potential partners, funding committees, etc. I'm still a bit worried, but hey what do I know. I've changed my vote from "oppose" to "comment", and I'll keep an eye on others' responses. Thanks. Ajpolino (talk) 02:20, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment Agree that our readers have requested as one of their top priorities the improvement of our reliability (it was ranked 3rd, 4th, and 5th while search and discovery come in 13th)[7]. Agree that having greater support from the WMF to improve quality would be useful. For example it was a community effort to get the copy and paste detection bot up and running.[8] It has been selected by the community as one of the top 10 efforts so hopefully we will see it improved with some support from the WMF soon. The improvement of reliability however is a slow effort that is hard to measure. Not entirely sure how to bring it about but the verbal support of the effort from the board would not be harmful. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:35, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment Pardon me. I'm a relatively new user on the "user" side of Wikipedia, but I've been a "real" user (that is, the general public) of Wikipedia for most of your 15 years. I sort of fell into this discussion by accident, but it certainly is in line with many of my personal concerns about Wikipedia, both as it is now, and its future. I believe this is the concern, here. IMHO, Wikipedia (and by that I mean the broad community of user-side editors and the foundation) tends to forget who its users are. This problem is compounded by the fact that we call our editors "users".
Wikipedia has two user communities. The first, and most important community are not [[User:]]s. They are the general public who go to our website, search for information and read our articles. They know nothing about what Wikipedia is, what our history and values are, who our editors are, what our publishing process is, and how much editorial control is exerted (or not) by who. Let me repeat that point. The general public who uses our articles have no clue, none, about the black magic that produces Wikipedia articles. They assume (and we all know what happens when you assume!) that "somebody" had to make sure that this information is correct. Now, we all know that to be untrue, and cannot be true, by the very nature of how Wikipedia works, and the founding principles. But the general public knows nothing of this. When I hear stories of Oxford University Press, of all organizations, using our content as reliable information, that's just shocking! But that is what the general public expects of us. Rightly, or wrongly, that is what the man on the street believes. This is a problem.
Once upon a time there were these big things made of paper and cardboard, and fake leather, and they called themselves "Encyclopedias". They were very expensive. But they were worth every penny because they contained the sum of all of mankind's knowledge ... or so their salesmen pitched. Then came the Internet. And one of those big old companies (we all know who) decided to jump on the Internet fad ... but then they decided to do something stupid. Then the Internet rose up and made a fuss and virtually blacklisted the company from the Internet. Soon after, Wikipedia came into being. And Wikipedia started growing ... and getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Eventually, Wikipedia had more articles on more subjects than the old companies ... and the old companies found themselves irrelevant to today's world. Where the old encyclopedias once stood, there was Wikipedia, and it was free. But what the public doesn't know is that Wikipedia wasn't written the same way as those encyclopedias once were. And because of that, Wikipedia can't pretend that one word of its 5 million articles is the least bit correct. It can say that it did look over a few articles, at one time or another, but it can't say that the articles they have today are the same as the ones they looked at, so they can't even say that the few they looked at are correct! But the public doesn't know that!
So with all this said, we come upon an existential question: What is Wikipedia's mission??
Is it to have a fun "toy" encyclopedia that anyone can mess around with and scribble on and post four letter words all over? Or is it to create a "real" encyclopedia created by crowdsourcing the editorial process the way free software did, and brought us GNU and Linux and LibreOffice??
Well, there's a big difference between Wikipedia and them. You see, Wikipedia says it's the encyclopedia that "anyone" can edit. That's a good thing ... and a bad thing. It's been the key to our success, and our biggest problem. It is the reason you're even having this discussion in the first place! The problem is that "anybody" includes literally "anybody" such as an 8 year old, who just learned a new four-letter-word, and likes to post that word over everywhere he can scribble. Or a mentally unstable person who insists that Wikipedia articles must reflect his own personal version of "reality". Or somebody who wants to proclaim himself an "expert" by posting a bio of himself on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia wasn't created with some grand plan for what happens when they hit 5 million articles. I doubt the founders honestly believed they'd reach that mark. They just wanted to do better than Nupedia. And Nupedia did very badly ... they never hit the 100 article mark. And that includes drafts, not published articles. Wikipedia was founded as the anti-Nupedia. Instead of exerting all this control that was killing Nupedia, let's exert no control at all! But there was no long-range plan.
Here we are, 5 million articles later. The public thinks we're something that we're not. Now what? That's the question being asked here. Now what?? If the public knew what we all know, Wikipedia would fold. Someone else would come up to fill the void. Just like someone else came up to fill the void of that big company that thought it could own the Internet. He who does not know history repeats it. I believe I've stumbled into a perfect example of it in action.
The question being asked is "Does Wikipedia want to remain relevant in the future?" Yes? Well, then, you need to do something about this problem. No? Well, then, we can take care of that. You can remain a playpen, and the grown-ups can go elsewhere. Where, you ask? Elsewhere. It's the place you went when Nupedia was going bust. Do you want to be a "real" information provider, or a toy? This is the question.
Now the way GNU and Linux and LibreOffice created their product was similar to yours, but it differed in one key aspect: they accepted submissions from anyone, but they published only the submissions that made sense. What if someone wrote code for the Linux kernel that created a backdoor for every Linux computer in the world?? Linus would look at that submission and hit "reject". Wikipedia publishes it. That's the difference. It's not the matter of setting up a big, bad editorial board, who passes judgement on eveyone saying, "none shall pass". It's a matter of applying some basic sanity, here. We're talking about looking at the scholarly submission of "Sally is a poo-poo head." and deciding, is this a proven fact, backed by a reliable source? Or is it a bunch of nonsense from a 4 year old??
It's also about making a judgement call of what is the impact of our "information"? Is a dubious "fact" about the love life of a dead practitioner of some occult group going to be a matter of life or death? Or is a dubious "fact" in an article about drug dose that, if followed, would kill people a matter of life or death?
We're talking about sanity checks. Is Wikipedia going to be sane or insane? That is the question. So. Will history repeat itself? Will some new project rise up and slay Wikipedia? Or will Wikipedia go forth and prosper? The answer's in your hands. Think carefully. Your 25th anniversary could be somebody else's 10th. That is what you're debating. Just ask a historian. High-storian (talk) 12:48, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
So what's new? · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 13:02, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
P.S. Not so heavy on the italics please, it is distracting.· · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 13:04, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
What's new? There is nothing new under the sun. The question is do you want to learn from history, or be a fool destined to repeat it? As for italics, I'm sorry. I'm a human. I do not talk like a robot. Like a robot. Like a robot. Like a robot. ERROR 52: Infinite loop detected. Face-smile.svg Do you have any constructive comments to share? High-storian (talk) 03:18, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
You probably haven't encountered it, but there are several Wikipedias that do require most edits to be double-checked by someone else before being published. You can read about it at Flagged Revisions. The English Wikipedia (where you edit) has rejected the standard implementation of this, and only rarely uses a variant called "Pending Changes". WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:33, 4 February 2016 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing Very interesting. It's good to know that the capability is there. I wouldn't have ever known otherwise, thank you for a constructive comment. It's certainly worth looking into this further. The broad issue to the question at hand, IMHO, is that Wikipedia is in the information business, but does not want to concern itself with information. Is there something ironic, at least, about that?? I believe the question is do we want to express a concern about the information we provide. To me, it's a no-brainer. History will be the ultimate judge. High-storian (talk) 03:18, 14 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Support While the board certainly should not get involved in the detail of content (heaven knows, neither they nor senior management have been recruited with expertise in this area in mind), the content is the reason Wikipedia/media exists, and broad top-level statements of this kind are entirely appropriate and an important part of their function. It would be good to reduce the thinking that WMF is a software organization, which some seem to believe. It is not. Johnbod (talk) 15:16, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment One can consider starting a new project, a sort of a fork of Wikipedia, where one uses different rules that favors the reliability aspect more. So, you could start with a copy of Wikipedia as it exist today and then let that evolve under different rules and then perhaps adapt those rules to make it work better according to the different reliability criteria. I guess this would work best if this new encyclopedia would only contain scientific content. Count Iblis (talk) 18:12, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks Count Iblis. That's an option. I've been thinking we should publish an online "journal": Wikipedia Reviews or Reliable Wikipedia or something, and present a nicely-formatted (like a journal article, not a wiki page) copies of each version of an article that has passed rigorous independent review. But we're digressing. Do you think it would be nice for the board to express their concern about the unreliability of our product and set a goal for making our products reliable? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 00:23, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
Yes, but I think they don't necessarily have to take a position on this matter, they can let independent scientists do some research into this matter and then take appropriate measures based on such research results. Count Iblis (talk) 00:34, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
Fair enough. I don't think we need scientists to tell us we're unreliable - we admit as much ourselves. I'm just trying to get the board to highlight it and prioritise it. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 01:49, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose: Striving for verifiable accuracy is already part of the five pillars. There's no need to force the board to reiterate what we already know. Praemonitus (talk) 22:20, 2 February 2016 (UTC)
You can't force the WMF board to do anything. They'll make a resolution if they think it will help our mission. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 00:23, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Support per Johnbod. Quality measurement and improvement has long been a curiously neglected part of the Wikipedia project. There is a lot more that could be done, be it along the lines of the current efforts in the medicine topic area (which, it is worth noting, are generally welcomed by the community) or those of the Wiki Education Foundation. The board definitely should express support for such initiatives. It's a no-brainer. Andreas JN466 04:38, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Totally support - as I understand it's not the intention for the WMF to interfere with content, or to control it, but to better enable those that do. Peter Damian (talk) 18:30, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

Meanwhile in Community Resources[edit]

Anthony, It may interest you to learn that WMF's Community Resources team, after community consultation, does think content quality is important enough to do something about in the short term, and will focus its next proactive grantmaking campaign on content curation. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 21:59, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Asaf (WMF), thank you. The IdeaLab investigation was a great initiative. (You'll be hearing from me. Face-smile.svg) --Anthonyhcole (talk) 01:49, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

Obligations and Responsibilities[edit]

Does the Board accept the WMF Statement of Obligations and Responsibilities, either formally or informally, as a statement of the behaviours that they expect to adhere to?

If so, would Board members consider that the Non-disparagement provision has been adhered to with respect to the statements made by Board members collectively and individually about the trustee that they removed in December?

Again, if so, do Board members claim that they adhered to the provision to "Become adequately informed regarding all aspects of any proposed decision or action" in respect of recent Board nominations?

On the other hand, if not, will the Board explicitly repudiate this statement and publish as a matter of urgency the equivalent code that they currently accept as being in force? Will they instruct their Governance Committee to meet and review that code, and will they publish the results of that review? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:44, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Comment Comment I like the idea of a Code of Conduct for trustees. Raystorm (talk) 22:24, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
So you currently do not? That seems less than ideal. In particular you do not regard yourself as bound to adhere to the standards described on this particular page? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:25, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
...What? Raystorm (talk) 07:33, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I take it from your reply that you, the members of the Board, currently do not have a Code of Conduct: that sounds less than ideal. The question is, whether you and the other Board members regard the Statement referred to as something that you think you ought to adhere to. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 22:21, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Hi Rogol Domedonfors. I'm not sure what you mean. Have you read through wmf:Resolutions? It's pretty easy to spot wmf:Resolution:Code of conduct, which leads you to wmf:Code of conduct policy. :-) There are other related resolutions and policies in place as well, of course. --MZMcBride (talk) 16:59, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
You are addressing your remarks to the wrong person. It was User:Raystorm who said that she liked the idea of a Code of Conduct for Trustees. My question was, and is, about the status of the page WMF Statement of Obligations and Responsibilities. It has not yet been addressed. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:46, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
As you can see in its header the page is a draft, 7 years old, never implemented. I didn't even know that page until you have mentioned it here. You can find our policies including the code of conduct at the foundation wiki and a review is planned. Alice Wiegand (talk) 22:19, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for that. The second part of my question was whether Board members would accept it informally, and there was a follow-up on non-disparagement. I note that the final part of my question is answered. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 22:32, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Alice, if you're involved in the review, would you please discuss the language used in point two of the code of conduct? Presently it reads,
People acting on the Foundation’s behalf must respect and maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information they have gained due to their association with the Foundation. This may include personal information about community members or members of the general public, and/or information about the internal workings of the Foundation or its partners or suppliers.
(My bold.) The bold text may lead staff and board to believe any and all information about the internal workings of the Foundation is sensitive, and so confidential. I presume that's not the intent. If that is the intended meaning, would you mind raising the question of whether such a blanket restriction is appropriate in today's climate? (I think the default position should be freedom to discuss anything about the internal workings of the WMF that has not been specifically classed as confidential.) --Anthonyhcole (talk) 11:18, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Adding seat type to infoboxes at wmf:Board of Trustees[edit]

Hi. The thread at Special:Permalink/15340631#Regarding Board of Trustees suggests adding the seat type to the infobox of each Board member at wmf:Board of Trustees. Barring objections, I'm inclined to accept this request. --MZMcBride (talk) 17:01, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

I've always found it confusing to find this information and it required digging around, so I'm personally (without consulting with anyone) in favor :) Pundit (talk) 17:18, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
@MZMcBride:: Just one thing you might consider: Board members take different paths to join the Board, it doesn't mean that we have different classes of Board members. You know that, but it is as obvious for external readers who want to get information about the organization? It could be that pointing out the paths leads to a misinterpretation that there are differences in status, rights and obligations. But tbh it could also be that I'm just putting too much weight on it. Alice Wiegand (talk) 19:59, 16 February 2016 (UTC)
Small intervention: The members, that were properly elected by the community have a better legitimation to be on the board as the other ones, that are only appointed.
Unfortunately the board recently made clear that it doesn't care about democracy, and it ditched one elected member for dubious reasons. So yes, in practice you can probably say now: they are all the same, as they are all just inside jobs, just appointed without further legimization. But please say so officially on the relevant pages, don't just act in this way. --Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 09:37, 17 February 2016 (UTC)
Hi Alice. Yes, I had similar thoughts. In some ways, I'm not sure how necessary the seat type information is to readers and it seems a little pointed (overly critical) to include the data point in the infobox as seat type is really not very important. And I agree that the information could potentially be misleading. But in other ways, it's very Wikimedian (matter-of-fact, precise) to include such details. (cc: Lokal Profil) --MZMcBride (talk) 05:21, 18 February 2016 (UTC)
I can see your reservation. To me (as a community member) it is mainly relevant since it shows me which elections I can affect directly (community seats), or indirectly (through chapters). It also allows me to go back and find more informations on their candidacies etc. Especially for these two categories there is often an overlap (many chapters appointees could just as well have been community elected). If we are worried about the phrasing then "Took the seat after community election 2015"/"Took the seat after appointment by the board in 2016" might be more neutral ways of communicating the same info. Finally is this something we really want to make less transparent/harder to figure out? /Lokal Profil (talk) 19:34, 12 May 2016 (UTC)

Transparency - cost versus benefit[edit]

In discussions about Transparency, at such places as Wikimedia Foundation transparency gap, there seems to be an assumption, more or less explicit, that transparency is nothing but an overhead: that we do it because we have to, because it's the good thing, but accountability to the community is fundamentally an overhead. To the extent that this is believe, I suggest that it needs to be challenged, from the top, and by example as well as words. Firstly, of course, there is a cost attached to preparing and publishing reports and accounts. This can be reduced by embedding transparency into the business activities. When a report is being produced, it needs to be written in such a way that it's easy to remove any sensitive content that could not be published, or mark portions that are time-sensitive. If built in this process takes much less time than having to unpick a document afterwards (we see this above on the #Risk Assessment Document update). Secondly, building mechanisms for engagement around transparency would significantly improve the quality of decision making. For example, the Board governance committee has failed to publish any accunt of its agenda or activities since 2014. Yet its remit includes "Recruit, for Board review and consideration, new appointed trustees when a vacancy exists or is anticipated". There is no doubt that effective community involvement in this activity at an earlier stage would have improved the chances of avoiding the recent damaging conflict between Board and community. Better exposure of the WMF technical plans would have prevented the waste of effort on Flow and Gather, and the damage by the launch of Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia. Any one of these examples of these demonstrates, I think, that transparency and better engagement would have delivered far more benefit than its cost. Since transparency is already an agreed principle, I call on the Board act to ensure that transparency and engagement are embedded in the WMF planning and business processes and that resources are made available to deliver the benefits which would accrue from effective engagement with the community at the strategy and planning stages, as well as the direct delivery of the projects. A copy of this is at Talk:Transparency/Practices#Cost versus benefit Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 22:20, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

Crisis of confidence[edit]

The continuing failure of the Board collectively and the majority of its members individually to engage with the stakeholder community in any meaningful way over such issues as: removal of a community-nominated member; selection of a member unacceptable to the community; inadequate supervision of the Knowledge Engine project; staff discontent; technology planning; work of the governance committee; discontinuation of the advisory board; long-term strategy -- all of these suggest a crisis of confidence. Are we at the point where a motion of no confidence in the Board by the stakeholder community is warranted? Would any members of the Board care to explain whether or why they feel such a motion should not be brought forward? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:18, 20 February 2016 (UTC)

Without commenting on the substance of the issues above, I submit that it is clear at this point that the board is (now) paying attention and no doubt actively discussing next steps. Bearing in mind they are all volunteers spread out across the world spanning about 12 timezones, it is no doubt difficult to secure the time to actually get (at least a quorum) together to have the urgent and high-stakes discussions they need to have. I would suggest we assume that the extraordinary developments of the last 72 hours have had effect, and let the board deliberate. I think we have been heard loud and clear, and am prepared to wait for the board's considered response. Ijon (talk) 02:12, 21 February 2016 (UTC)
Disclosure: I am saying this in my capacity as a longtime volunteer, but I am also a WMF employee. Ijon (talk) 02:12, 21 February 2016 (UTC)
It may be clear to you but it can hardly be by reading this noticeboard. Can you point to any public statements by the Board or its members in a venue likely to be seen by a large proportion of the stakeholders? How much time and effort does it take to post a short message here saying that the Board is considering certain matters and will take action on a certain timescale -- five minutes, maybe ten? I am not calling a vote of no confidence, I am suggesting that one might be imminent if the Board does not give the community good reason to hold off. Like it not, time has all but run out and it is for the Board to take action now, or, by further inaction, let matters come to a critical, and highly damaging breach. This has been happening since summer of 2014, when the then chair explained to the community that they might have to leave if they did not agree with his views; or early 2015 when the Board allowed its advisory committee to lapse and its governance committee to go silent; or mid 2015 when the Board allowed the KE project to go ahead without involving the community; or late 2015 when the Board made two unexplained and highly controversial decisions on its own membership. This is not the Board being suddenly and unexpectedly bounced into action, this is the Board facing the predictable and inevitable consequences of its own failure to engage with the community. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 09:46, 21 February 2016 (UTC)
Rogol Domedonfors, I am reading what Ijon has to say for the first time here, but I would urge you to heed what he says. He has been tracking these issues closely, and has been a strong advocate for important changes, for a long time. He probably cannot share details, but if he is confident that there is a newfound sense of urgency among the Board, that is not an insignificant thing. -Pete F (talk) 23:36, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
I also concur, there have been a lot of discussions and commentary throughout multiple forms of communications including emails, wiki's, IRC and blogs. The next few days should be interesting. Reguyla (talk) 02:50, 23 February 2016 (UTC)
Peteforsyth: you may well be correct. But my point is that time is running out. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:29, 23 February 2016 (UTC)
It seems worth noting in this thread, for posterity, that Lila Tretikov announced her resignation on February 25 (four days after Ijon's words of reassurance). -Pete F (talk) 00:04, 1 March 2016 (UTC)
Does that announcement tend to increase or decrease the community's level of confidence in the Board, I wonder? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 05:04, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

It is somewhat troubling that little seems to have been done by the Board to allay concerns that the volunteer and donor community might have about the Board's handling of the events of the past few months. Let me just remind the Board that they have lost two Board members and an Executive Director in that time, and that suggests that the Board has been unusually unlucky, to say the least. If the Board wish to maintain the confidence of the community, they need to exert themselves to explain as fully as they can what has happened, why it happened, what lessons the Board have learnt and what they plan to do to manage such risks in the future. On the issue of the Board's removal of a community-selected member, it is vital to have better, clearer and more measured communications. The majority of the communications on this matter have come from one member of the Board -- it is not clear whether he is communicating on behalf of the Board or not -- and those communications have been unduly combative and have failed to resolve issues to the satisfaction of the community.

Of course, it may be that the Board simply do not regard the confidence of the community as of any importance, and do not see the necessity to spend any time trying to retain or regain that confidence. If so, and their lack of communication suggests that it may be be the case, then they need not be surprised to find themselves facing an explicit vote of no confidence. Is that what the Board wants, and do they think it would be in the best interests of the projects? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:09, 17 March 2016 (UTC)

It seems clear from the failure of any Board member to engage with this issue, and the continuing failure to adhere to the timetables laid down in the Board Handbook, that members of the Board no longer concern themselves with the views of the Community, and hence presumably are indifferent to whether or not they retain the confidence of the Community. It is time to begin the process of articulating the ways in which the Board is losing that confidence and I am listing them here in case there is any member of the Community or the Board who wishes to make a comment at this stage.

  • The Board's failure to oversee the strategic direction of the Foundation.
  • The Board have failed to publish their long-term strategy.
  • The Board have mismanaged the decision-making around the Knowledge Engine proposal.
  • The Board has failed to ensure effective senior leadership of the WMF.
  • The Board have failed to engage with the Community.
  • The Board have failed to give an adequate explanation for the removal of a community-selected trustee.
  • The Board have allowed one of their members to engage in a public dispute with a former trustee in a manner which is below the standards expected of a member of the Board when discussing Board business.
  • The Board have failed to manage their own activities.
  • The Board have failed to check the background of an appointed trustee with damaging consequences.
  • The Board has allowed its Advisory Committee to lapse without ensuring adequate external advice.
  • The Board is in breach of its own procedures for notification and publication of its own business.
Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 11:50, 30 April 2016 (UTC)

Reviving important archived item (Superprotect)[edit]

This thread from 2015 was archived, but is still important: /Archives/2015#Resolution on superprotect

Although there has been much informal discussion in many venues, there has never been an official acknowledgment of the letter signed by 1,000+ people, nor a formal statement of what will be done going forward. There is a bug entry on this (thank you Qgil-WMF. It may also be worthwhile to review the recent discussion and the November 2015 poll about the WMF's response to date. -Pete F (talk) 21:04, 22 February 2016 (UTC)

Small addendum -- this item is, according to the Phabricator ticket linked above, on the February agenda for the Community Liaisons. This seems like a good thing; but as I have stated before, I still feel strongly that explicit participation from senior leadership of WMF (the recipients of the letter) are important. If the response is fully delegated, that will send a clear message, and IMO not a healthy one. -Pete F (talk) 21:12, 22 February 2016 (UTC)
Hi Pete, I'm uncertain what kind of official acknowledgement would be appropriate. I can reply in my personal capacity and comment on my own view: I have fiercely opposed the introduction of SuperProtect since the beginning of my tenure. Once I was elected, I put the removal of SuperProtect on the publicly available list of items I have wanted to address. The actions I personally took to successfully resolve the issue was putting a discussion about SuperProtect on the agenda of every Board meetings we had, as well as discussing the timeline for removal of SuperProtect with the WMF ED at least every month, requesting status updates, and expressing my strong view that it is disruptive to the WMF relations with the community. I believe it was eventually instrumental in the SuperProtect's removal, although I believe it was basically the final small step in a series of many, done by many respected community members individually, and by group voice as well. If you believe some additional recognition of your petition is due, I can assure you that it definitely made me feel more certain that my own views on SP were right, and that the petition was a good, organizing and empowering move. Pundit (talk) 22:47, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
Agree having this strong statement from the community that superprotect was inappropriate made it easier to push for its removal. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:04, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
As The Board officially sided with the hostile actions against the community in this mail to wikimwdia-l, I think some apology for this huge mistake should come from the board as official as this, not only for superprotect alone, but for the whole actions against the communities with the MV-disaster, where the board and some rogue devs kicked the communities explicitly in the face. You are a new board now, so I hope such utterly wrong actions will never occur again, but to distance yourself from misdeeds of past boards would be well taken by the communities.
The Board should make clear, that this mail by the board was wrong and should never have been sent. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 11:03, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
User:Sänger I was not on the board when Jan Bart made that statement. I disagreed with JB statement when he made it, I disagreed with his statement when I was on the board, and I disagree with his statement now. I believe that the community and the WMF needs to interact as equals. Superprotect was the WMF trying to claim the upper hand. We have gotten superprotect disabled but we also need a clear statement by the WMF board that the sentiment behind that action no longer exists either. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:17, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
I know, that you were not on the board, that hostile decision against the community was one of the reasons, the community nominated members were all sacked by the community in the last election (or better so-called election;). It is nevertheless, regardless of its members, still The Board, and it would be fine if The Board revokes its wrong and hostile declaration and comes back to the community. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 18:23, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
I was not on the Board that issued this support neither, obviously, and from my activity on the Board it is clear that I worked consequently towards the SuperProtect removal. I generally agree that a clear statement that overriding communal consensus is never a good idea can help. However, I don't think that spending 30 minutes discussing this at a Board meeting NOW makes sense. We basically have to prioritize, and the search for a new ED, appointing an interim, seeking a new Board member, reforming the Board governance, as well as addressing the strategy, or reviving the Advisory Board are the things that need to be addressed ASAP. I will definitely support addressing this issue later in the year. Pundit (talk) 15:06, 3 March 2016 (UTC)
That assessment makes sense if you take the view, discussed above, that the community can be of no help to the Board. I suggest that in fact the Board cannot afford to do without any help they can get from the community, and indeed that such help would be available were the Board to choose to reach out for it. If you take this view then a few minutes spent repairing one of the more significant breaches between the Board and the community would be time very well spent if it promoted a more constructive engagement . It seems likely to me that the Board will not be able to resolve the multiple serious issues facing it and the movement if it attempts to do so entirely from its own resources -- perhaps you disagree?. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 22:42, 3 March 2016 (UTC)
I agree with you: I believe it makes sense to use the community's help. It is just that even the form of reaching out needs to be discussed, agreed upon, and planned - while currently we're spending a dozen of hours every week on things that have to be done ASAP, all of course over and above our normal work. I really hope once we're out of emergency mode, a constructive way of drawing on the community's resources will make sense. In fact, even for the ED search I think we will be able to ask for some support. I also wrote of three different ways of improving the Board and collaboration with the community on wikimedia-l (volunteer liaisons, revamping the advisory board, revising the Board's structure). I want to follow up on these ideas, as well as reach out for the community's input - but trust me that it is not viable to make it happen NOW. Pundit (talk) 00:25, 4 March 2016 (UTC)
Well, the decision is yours to make, and all we can reasonably ask for is that you take that decision explicitly and stand by its consequences. I am however gratified to note that my suggestions above under #Community broker, #Advisory Board membership and #Thinking about the WMF Board composition have aligned with your thoughts. Do you think this page might be a better venue for discussion of those ideas rather than a mailing list? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:25, 4 March 2016 (UTC)
I think we should have a structured discussion somewhere on meta, here it is difficult to refine proposals and discuss them, IMHO (but still easier than on the list). Pundit (talk) 15:54, 7 March 2016 (UTC)
Pundit, could you just join the discussion underway here, which began following Lila's November announcement? Talk:Letter to Wikimedia Foundation: Superprotect and Media Viewer#November 2015 poll: Has the letter achieved its goal? I don't see the benefit of creating yet another venue for discussion -- but I'd welcome hearing your thoughts there. -Pete F (talk) 20:28, 8 March 2016 (UTC)
This is the noticeboard of The Board, can you tell me a better suited venue to discuss this? And don't come up with less open venues like mailing lists or Phabricator, they are no proper wikipage. This is the wikiversum, and everything should be discussed on open wikipages, unless some very important facts recommend otherwise. If this is not the right wikipage, just show me the right one. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 10:42, 9 March 2016 (UTC)
Sänger, I think Pundit's point is that this page is not a good one to deliberate -- and that linking specific proposals that have been developed elsewhere (like Nemo_bis did) is a better use of this page. I agree with that in principle. In the case of Superprotect, it seems odd to me that the WMF should need advice on how to respond to a letter -- odd, but not impossible to work with. At this point, however, I believe the biggest obstacle to moving forward on this issue is now in the past; as such, I think talking with staff, rather than trustees, might be the most effective way to move things forward. Staff, as always, can advocate internally as needed, but may encounter less resistance now than previously. At the moment, I see an opportunity to bring this longstanding issue to a positive conclusion -- and, like Pundit, I'm not sure that getting it on the Board's agenda is a necessary step. Do keep an eye on phabricator:T119595. -Pete F (talk) 18:07, 9 March 2016 (UTC)
Hey, since when is Phabricator a venue for discussions? I was kicked off Phab because I dared to discuss something and didn't strictly adhere to problem solving. Could someone please inform user:AKlapper (WMF) about this change in the rules there, so that I could again use Phab? Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 18:37, 9 March 2016 (UTC)
I did not suggest Phabricator as a venue for discussion, I merely pointed out that relevant stuff is happening there (which you are able to read, even if blocked from participating). The venue I suggested for discussion is one you're already aware of, Sänger -- the letter's talk page. -Pete F (talk) 18:43, 9 March 2016 (UTC)
[offtopic] Sänger's Phabricator account got disabled due to phab:T90632 and phab:T90801 after the user ignored warnings to please follow mw:Bug management/Phabricator etiquette. --AKlapper (WMF) (talk) 11:26, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
I see the mentioned Phab as something purely for discussion, not even remotely technical. If the same logic that got me banned there would be aplied, it should never have been opened, and you, Pete, should be banned by now from Phab.
I was banned there, because I asked for a venue for discussion, and the devs failed to deliver any answer, despite there had to be some venue for such a pure community item as a profile. Discussion outside Phab was refused, inside it was denied. It was a catch 22 for me. So consequently those, who didn't want to discuss, banned me. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 12:37, 10 March 2016 (UTC)

#Proposed resolution on user rights process is the current concrete proposal. Nemo 15:03, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Nemo_bis, I like that proposal a great deal; but a statement from the board or from the executive director (or even the interim executive director) need not get into that level of detail to accomplish good things. -Pete F (talk) 00:07, 1 March 2016 (UTC)
Might be. But producing a statement, even one sentence long, will require a lot of work. On the other hand, my resolution is ready for approval and can't possibly be improved further. :) Nemo 21:16, 9 March 2016 (UTC)
I do agree, Nemo_bis, that moving to enact this proposed resolution would be a good, strong step, and the board should certainly consider it, and consider it a pressing priority. My point is merely that it's not the only possible step forward. But it would be an excellent one, and there is no visible obstacle to passing it at the next meeting (nor has there been since you published it). -Pete F (talk) 22:05, 27 March 2016 (UTC)
I generally agree with the spirit of the proposed resolution. I have some doubts (for instance, why should it always be up to the global community to decide what technical roles be introduced? I'd prefer local communities to be able to take or leave some), but this is ok. my main concern now is bandwidth: we're in the middle of a search for a new ED, a new Board member, and we're already dangerously cutting the workload on critical topics such as strategy. My personal view is that SuperProtect is gone. I did my fair share of work to make sure it got removed, and when I was making actual effort to make this happen, I truly believed it mattered. I'm not so convinced that such a resolution is critically important now (for instance, more than thinking about the vision for our movement in 5 years), and it still can take disproportionately much of our time. As I stated before, I hope we will have an opportunity to readdress this issue before Wikimania, and you can also think of ways the topic can be discussed in the community. I don't think that drafting a Board's resolution is the way to go though - this is the final step (and done by the Board), not the middle one. Pundit (talk) 16:58, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
Is the strategy work you refer to something which you feel that the wider community is or ought to be involved with? If so, perhaps you could point to the venue where that community engagement will take place. If not, please at least tell us when and where you propose to publish the results of that work. (I asked a similar question here some time ago [9] but it seems that the Board did not then regard the issue as important enough to take notice of.) Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 10:31, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
Strategic consultations were conducted by the WMF, but currently we're for instance seeking the community's input on the desirable skills, things to seek or avoid in our ED search, etc. Before Wikimania I intend to start a discussion about the Board's reform, and even before that I plan to publish an agreed on skills matrix. Pundit (talk) 15:13, 30 April 2016 (UTC)

Requests for comment/Indefinite block the user:6AND5 in the armenian Wikipedia[edit]

Please give advice, what do I do?--6AND5 (talk) 01:14, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

+Talk:Affiliate-selected Board seats/2016/Nominations/Susanna Mkrtchyan#Questions from 6AND5/2--6AND5 (talk) 10:52, 24 March 2016 (UTC)

Unpublished resolutions[edit]

It seems that the Chair of the Board has the power to determine that a resolution should not be published: see wmf:Vote:Board deliberations. How often has this been done? Will the Board commit itself to publishing for every resolution either the full text or a dated statement that a non-public resolution was passed? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:48, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

I don't remember that we ever used that clause since I'm on the board. Alice Wiegand (talk) 08:40, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

Audit Committee membership[edit]

The list at wmf:Audit Committee seems incorrect. Could it be checked please/. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:49, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

Done now, thanks. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 11:26, 3 April 2016 (UTC)

Meetings in February and March 2016[edit]

The Board usually meets monthly, and had presumably had meetings in February and March of this year. Please may we know when the minutes of those meetings will be posted? (Even better, of course, would be to have the minutes posted, but one step at a time.) Currently the latest set of minutes linked at wmf:Meetings is for January 2016. Should we take it that no resolutions were passed at the February and March meetings, since none are recorded at wmf:Resolutions, or were they perhaps secret resolutions? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:17, 27 March 2016 (UTC)

Update: it now appears that resolutions were passed on the 10th and 30th of March [10]. So there were at least two meetings held in March for which minutes are not published. This is not a satisfactory state of affairs. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:11, 1 April 2016 (UTC)

Further update. Just to add to the confusion, the resolution wmf:Minutes approval January 30, 2016, approving the minutes of the meeting of 30 January 2016 (the last one mentioned at wmf:Meetings) states that it was approved on January 30, 2016. Surely that cannot be correct? It contradicts the minutes themselves and is prima facie nonsense. That resolution was posted on 8 March, so it cannot have been approved on either the 10th or the 30th March, the only two meetings of which we have any evidence, even though they are not properly documented. So there must have been a third meeting after 30 January which is currently undocumented. Do members of the Board agree that this degree of laxity in publishing a timely and accurate account of Board business is unacceptable? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:26, 4 April 2016 (UTC)

Hi Rogol, it's in the middle of the night where I live, so I won't look up what you say in your last paragraph, but I want to give you a comment note on your general question. The board can pass resolutions following two paths: a) have a formal meeting and vote while every board member is able to hear everyone else and b) via an online vote. Both resolutions you mention in your first post have been passed online with unanimous votes. There has been a meeting in march with the overall topic of internal governance, minutes will be published as soon as they are prepared by our secretary and approved by a board vote. Especially the last part usually takes more time than you may suppose. I try to come back tomorrow to respond to your last question. Alice Wiegand (talk) 21:57, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for your prompt reply. The current mode of presenting the resolutions does not distinguish between the two species, and, as it appears, there has been at least one formal meeting which is currently undocumented. It would be helpful to the community, and follow the values of transparency which the Board is committed to, if the fact of a meeting having been held on a certain date were published promptly: this does not seem an onerous task. I am well aware of the fact that preparing Board minutes takes time (having more experience of being a trustee myself than you may suppose) but do not regard that fact as an acceptable reason not to publish the mere fact that the meeting has occurred. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 22:14, 4 April 2016 (UTC)
Follow-up. The Wikimedia Foundation Board Handbook requires that the agenda for each meeting be posted to wikimediaannounce-l at least two days before the meeting. Was this done for the meeting in March? Where is the agenda for that meeting? What was the date of that meeting? The Handbook also requires that the minutes of a meeting be published no more than five weeks after the meeting. In the case of the December 2015 meeting, the delay was over nine weeks. Why was that? Will the Board examine the way in which is has conducted its own business in recent months and publish a statement as to whether they believe it has been acceptable? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:01, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
Further follow-up. I see that the obvious error in the resolution wmf:Minutes approval January 30, 2016 has been silently corrected (with no acknowledgement here, which would have been courteous). That correction reveals that there was a Board meeting on 4 March, in addition to the non-meetings of the 10th and 30th March. It is somewhat shameful that we are reduced to this sort of exegesis to recover information which, according to the Board's own handbook, should have been published long ago. Just to make it explicit: there was no publication of the fact of the meeting on 4 March to the mailing list wikimediaannounce-l. The minutes of that meeting have not been published within five weeks of that meeting. Both of these are violations of the procedure laid down in the Wikimedia Foundation Board Handbook. No member of the Board, or Board officer, has troubled to post here an acknowledgement of that fact, let alone an explanation or an apology. It seems that the Board have abandoned the Guiding Principles of Transparency of which they appear to be so proud. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:56, 14 April 2016 (UTC)
Hi Rogol, the minutes of the January 30 meeting have been approved by an online vote as said above. That online vote was closed on March 4th when the last Board member signed the resolution online. The correction is just that: a correction of an obvious mistake, there is no resolution needed to do that. The fact that the March meeting wasn't announced with its agenda is my fault. An announcement was prepared, then we postponed the meeting, then the announcement slipped out of my mind. In general I beg for some understanding that there are many things on the table of the Board. We have to prepare the search for the next ED, we have two vacant seats, we need to review our internal processes and efficiency, we need to provide guidance and support to our interim ED, we have to come to some general working agreements. We do this in regular meetings, with informal check-ins, we are discussing via mail and phone and the current frequency of all this is really high. Same is true also for the staff which is supporting the board. This is not an excuse, I agree with you that we have to follow our own rules. But reality demonstrates that -- especially when the workload is high -- it's hard. It's not our intention to hide anything. The existence of an resolution though doesn't mean that there was a meeting.
These are the regular meetings of the Board:
Hope that helps to clarify. Alice Wiegand (talk) 08:21, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to provide that information. I realise that the Board is rather busy, but suggest that it would have saved your time, not to mention mine, to have adhered to the normal procedure. As I understand it then, there was a meeting of the Board on 21 March, the notification and agenda for which were never published, and the minutes of which are due to be published by 25 April. Presumably there were no formal resolutions made at that meeting since nothing has been published, but I suppose that will transpire within the next few days.
Of course it is hardly important, but when I pointed out the obvious anomaly in the published resolution, I was not expecting a formal vote of thanks, as you appear to think, and which would have been rather disproportionate, but I did feel it would have been nice if the person making the correction had spent an extra minute of their valuable time posting either here or to my talk page acknowledging the mistake, thanking me for bringing it to their attention and noting that the change had been duly made. But still, as you say, the Board is very busy and such niceties take up time. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:29, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
  • It appears that while the agenda for the meeting of 22 April was posted on the 18th (thank you) it was not announced on the mailing list as discussed just one day previously. Much more seriously, the minutes of the meeting of 21 Msrch, presumably approved at the meeting of 21 April, have still not been posted, in breach of the procedure described in the Board Handbook. This is the fourth consecutive Board meeting for which minutes have not been posted within the time limit laid down. While we appreciate that the Board is somewhat busy, this lack of attention to timely communication with the Community is simply not acceptable. Please post the minutes of the Board meeting of 21 March without further delay. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:44, 27 April 2016 (UTC)
I note that these minutes were finally posted last night, two weeks late, and, it would appear, as a result of a public posting [11]. Even so they are not correctly linked. The situation remains unsatisfactory, and I call on the Board to explain, apologise and take corrective action to deliver on this part of their commitment to transparency. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:38, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

New Board Handbook[edit]

It seems that at its meeting on 30 Jan 2016 (see wmf:Minutes/2016-01), the Board agreed a "new handbook to be published soon". It appears that there has been at least one further meeting since that one, although not details have been published yet. Has the new handbook been agreed? When will it be published? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 10:33, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

This is an update which covers the term limits resolution, the resolution about the standing election committee, and some procedural adjustments. No surprise potential. To be clear: There is no _new_ handbook. I guess that updates are implemented soon, this again depends on people's workload. Alice Wiegand (talk) 08:33, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for that. I acknowledge the correction, the minutes do indeed state "Updated handbook" not "new handbook" as I mistakenly wrote. I note that the updated handbook will be published at some point in the indefinite future. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:18, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

Board vacancy[edit]

Following the Chair's suggestion [12] it seems appropriate to suggest that the Board respond to the loss of two of the community-selected members by holding a new community-wide selection process -- I hestitate to call it an "election", although I know this is what it has been termed in the past -- this summer. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 10:41, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

A specific point worth raising. It may well be that if there is a community selection process, the community will choose to nominate the person removed from the Board in December 2015. My understanding is that that person is eleigible to hold a seat on the Board under the Bylaws -- will the Board confrm that is the case? Will the Board make a statement as to whether they would be prepared to accept that person onto the Board if they are selected by the community? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:37, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

HR Committee[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation Board HR Committee meets at least once a year according to wmf:Resolution:HR Committee Charter. However, the wmf:HR_Committee minutes were last posted for meeting wmf:HR Committee/2014-01-31. Has this committee met since January 2014, and if so, when? Why have no subsequent minutes been published? Does the Board view this lack of publication as an acceptable state of affairs? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:18, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

About this page[edit]

When I entered the WMF Board of Trustees in summer 2012 I wanted to create a place where the community can get in contact with the Board, where exchange and deliberation can happen and where Board and community have the opportunity to get a better mutual understanding. After some discussions in the Board SJ started this page in November 2012.

Looking back I think the page hasn’t fulfilled its purpose and it was created with too little thinking about expectations and realization. In general the page has become more a Q&A page, where the Qs are a mixed bag of curiosity, assumptions, and inquiry and where the As are behind schedule or missing at all.

Why is that? The Board does not have a general process how to deal with this page. So, if you get an answer depends on if your question has been noticed by a board member who feels able to answer. If your question addresses staff related issues, you probably won’t get an answer at all. That’s far away from what was intended and also far away from how we imagine a fruitful communication between community and board. We definitely need to think about how to fix it with the resources we have. Given the amount and the importance of issues on the Board’s task list, I can’t promise you a quick solution, but I wanted to let you know that the Board is aware of this flaw and wants to change it. Alice Wiegand (talk) 09:34, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

It would help us, the Community, to help you, the Board, if you were able to give us some ideas of the amount of additional effort that you might be willing to invest in the desired fruitful communication. So far it is clear that the interaction has not been as fruitful as we all wish but I claim that the principal reason is that the Board has not been willing or able to invest the time and energy required. This is a pity as I am sure there are members of the Community ready willing and able to assist if only they were able to engage the Board in a constructive way. As I have already pointed out, the persistent failure to engage is diminishing the Community's confidence in the Board, and this is something that needs to be improved sooner rather than later. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:27, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Rogol, I honestly disagree that "additional effort" is a realistic opportunity. My personal opinion is that if something does not work the way you expect, it doesn't help just to do more of it. You need to do it differently to make a shift. Alice Wiegand (talk) 18:45, 18 April 2016 (UTC)
It is for you and your fellow Board members to determine the amount of effort you wish to devote to engaging with the Community: the choice is yours. You seem to be telling us that however you wish to engage in the future, you will not be devoting any more effort than you do at present, and that is your decision to make. But that decision has consequences, and it is for you to accept responsibility for those consequences. The amount of effort devoted by the Board collectively and individually in this forum and elsewhere to engagement with the Community on strategic matters has been small: very small. Indeed, elsewhere on this page I described it as conveying an impression, whether intentional or not I cannot say, of an attitude to the Community akin to contempt. This is the message you are sending out, and the message you are willing to continue to send out for the indefinite future. That is your choice, and I think it is a damaging one: you are choosing to worsen an already poor relationship by your inaction and disengagement. It is clear that the Board needs help in the present situation. It has, for whatever reason, chosen to allow its Advisory Committee to lapse, and it is faced with a major crisis in the governance of the Foundation and in the management of its own membership, to the extent that it cannot always manage its own affairs correctly. This is a time to ask for help, not the time to alienate the Community by comments which suggest that the reason for the Board's lack of engagement is that the Community has somehow failed to ask you the right questions. There is no way in which a successful mode of exchange and deliberation can be developed if you are not prepared to invest time and effort in participating fully and frankly in it. It doesn't matter what the Community does, if the Board is not prepared to engage. I do not know how to help you if you are determined not to be helped. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:33, 18 April 2016 (UTC)


Training for external Board members at Wikimania 2016[edit]

hi, I've created a proposal page to ask for community feedback regarding a possible workshop for our external Board members, to increase their understanding of our culture, values, and relevant topics. Please, weigh in! Pundit (talk) 19:22, 29 April 2016 (UTC)