Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
(Redirected from Board noticeboard)
Jump to: navigation, search
Board of Trustees Board noticeboard Archives
Welcome to the Board of Trustees' noticeboard. This is a message board for discussing issues related to Wikimedia Foundation governance and policies, and related Board work. Please post new messages at the bottom of the page and sign them.
  • For details of the Board's role and processes, see the Board Handbook.
  • Threads older than 90 days will be automatically archived by ArchiverBot.


Proposed resolution on user rights process[edit]

As announced earlier, I prepared a very simple text the board can certainly agree with: User:Nemo bis/User rights process. Please schedule for the earlier opportunity (a quick online meeting is probably sufficient). I recommend to vote on it before the WMF board elections end, to ensure higher participation. --Nemo 20:48, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Hi Nemo, I will bring this to the attention of the board. But this is in no way the "easy" topic you are suggesting it is. I will get back to you Jan-Bart (talk) 10:30, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

Move for closure of a proposal[edit]

Proposals_for_closing_projects/Move_Beta_Wikiversity_to_Incubator#Move for closure I believe that this conversation has gone on for plenty of time to assess the feasibility, community consensus, relative strengths of discussions, etc. regarding closing beta.wv and incorporating its content into Meta and Incubator as appropriate. I hope that someone here can put to rest the conversation there and either a.) have us move on and let beta.wv be or b.) let us get started with winding down beta.wv. —Justin (koavf)TCM 04:15, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

@Justin, let me check how to close this issue best. Will come back to you soon. Alice Wiegand (talk) 20:36, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
We should have a community process for closing proposals for new projects & for closing projects. And a dev contact who can carry out the details required to flip the relevant switches. It's not a board task. But if that doesn't exist, perhaps we can help create one. SJ talk  23:22, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
There is a process, it seems that there is no member of WMF staff responsible for monitoring those discussions and implementing them, and there is no way that the volunteer community can find out who is responsible for doing what. Perhaps the Board might want to look into that. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:20, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
@Justin, the Community Engagement team, in this case Philippe is figuring out details, in general my understanding is that it's in the scope of Language committee to deal with closure proposals. As I see on the proposal's talk page, it might bot be as clear as I thought. I propose to follow the discussion there. Alice Wiegand (talk) 15:06, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

Accountability to the community[edit]

Following an exchange with the Foundation Treasurer, he has made it clear [1] that he does not regard himself as required to respond to questions from the community regarding the financial and business operations of the WMF, but rather sees his accountability as being restricted to the Board. This raises questions for governance which I think it is for the Board to address. There seem to be three main lines that the Board might wish to take.

Does the Board believe that members of the community have the right to raise a question of this nature directly with WMF staff? Does the Board believe that common courtesy imposes a requirement that such questions be properly acknowledged and managed by a nominated staff member, even if it not possible or desirable to answer them in detail? Will the Board mandate a clear coherent effective process with known lines of responsibility and accountability for such questions to be raised and answered?

If the Board does not believe that individual community members should raise such questions directly with WMF staff, will the Board institute a process for taking such questions themselves for subsequent discussion with staff? Will the Board commit to acknowledging such questions and, in the interests of transparency, publishing as much of the answer they receive as possible?

If the Board believe that community members should not involve themselves in these issues either directly or indirectly, will the Board make a clear public statement of their position on this issue?

Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:03, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

A correction to the statement from Rogol, I have never stated that I do not need to respond to questions to the community. Over my nearly four years with the Foundation, I have a record of responding to inquires from the community. What I was responding to was the request for a detailed listing of purchases of furniture and equipment. I have provided information on the percentage allocation of spending to furniture and computer equipment (servers) and I believe this is sufficient given my review of the records.GByrd (WMF) (talk) 16:56, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
This "correction" is not quite correct. The link I gave makes it plain that my question was specifically about the procedural issues and not about furniture, as members of the Board can readily verify for themselves. GByrd avoided answering it by diverting back to the furniture issue, just as he has done again here -- that evasion leads me to believe that he does not accept the requirement to answer questions from the volunteer community (although in the interests of fairness I suppose it is possible he simply assumed he knew what the question was without actually reading it). It is noteworthy that in this comment he does not actually go so far as accepting that the WMF has this respnsibility to the community, he merely denies having denied it. Let me ask again for the sake of clarity -- does he positively accept this responsibility? If so, perhaps he might like to inform the Board, and the community at large, what arrangements the WMF has made to discharge this responsibility -- what is the venue for posing such questions, what process is employed for answering them, and who is responsbile for delivering those answers. In the absence of a satisfactory process, then no real acceptance of that responsibility can be said to exist, and my questions for the Board stand unaltered. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:04, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Financial questions can be and have been sent to my talk page, my WMF email address or when we have a comment period on a financial report, on the Talk page of that document. I will respond to questions via those forums.GByrd (WMF) (talk) 22:15, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for that commitment, which I think resolves the issue as far as Board intervention is concerned. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:14, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
We appear to have wildly different views about the meaning of the word "resolve". See User talk:GByrd (WMF)#Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard#Accountability to the community. Promising to answer questions and then letting an unanswered question sit for a month is simply one more example of WMF stonewalling. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:13, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Rogol, I generally have received prompt responses to occasional questions that I've emailed to Garfield. I did have a little difficulty getting precise answers in response to some of my questions about last year's annual plan, though I believe that was because of concern about the sensitivity of some information that I think should be public and transparent but which WMF so far generally has been reluctant to make public. In general I don't think this line of questioning about the office furniture is a high-value interest for any of us when we have next year's Annual Plan to think about; that plan is supposed to be implemented starting on July 1st and I am quite perplexed about the delays associated with that plan. In general I don't feel that Garfield's integrity or communicativeness are in question. My present concerns about WMF financial matters are much more focused on the Annual Plan for the next fiscal year. --Pine 23:27, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
As I stated above, the principle is now clear. I think that direct email with senior WMF officials is sub-optimal for most issues, as it may consume time responding to repetitions if answers are not made public. It is also a weaker form of transparency than the community is accustomed to. However, having established the principle, the implementation issues will no doubt resolve themselves over time. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:14, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Echoing Pine's viewpoint, based on several meetings about various serious community issues, Garfield is a very genuine and skilled chap. I have never known him to spin facts or avoid a difficult question. I hope the WMF can retain his services for a long time ahead, as he is a great asset to our projects and community. Keep on asking high level governance questions, but there is no evidence that the community needs to be concerned about Garfield's personal commitment to our shared goals of transparency and accountability. Thanks -- (talk) 07:37, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Unfortunately personal commitment is only a part of the story -- it needs to be accompanied by effective communications and processes. Effective engagement between the WMF and the community is still poor and this is one example of it. Lila made various commitments to improve matters last August, but it is clear that they have not yet worked through into practice, and it may be that the Board will need to examine whether more could and should be done. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:40, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
Specifically, is
"I have responded to the question with information that most of the money listed in "Purchase of computer equipment and office furniture" is for servers."
a reasonable answer to the question
"I would really like to see an itemized list of exactly what computer equipment and office furniture was purchased with the $2,690,659 spent in 2012 and the $2,475,158 spent in 2013. Verifying that those purchases were reasonable and fiscally prudent would go a long way towards giving me confidence that the rest of the money was also spent wisely. As a non-profit that accepts donations and is committed to openness, the WMF should have no problem with telling me exactly what was bought, the price paid, and in general where it went No specific names, of course, just a general description of which department got what."
?
I don't believe that my question was answered in the thread where I asked it (I have seen no itemized list) and I don't believe that my request was denied (I see nothing from GByrd (WMF) saying that they will not provide an itemized list. much less a reason why they decided not to do so)
Now, on this new page (which I was not have known about if Rogol Domedonfors had not posted a link on my talk page) I see a new "answer":
"I have provided information on the percentage allocation of spending to furniture and computer equipment (servers) and I believe this is sufficient given my review of the records"
In other words, "trust me". There are several areas where I am willing to trust. I trust that GByrd (WMF) and all others on the WMF staff are honest and trustworthy and would have reported anything fraudulent long before I started asking questions. I trust that GByrd (WMF) was aware of and approved all furniture purchases, believed them to be reasonable then, and believed them to be reasonable when he reviewed them. And most of all I trust the independent auditors who wrote "In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. as of June 30, 2013 and 2012, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the years then ended, in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles."
I do not trust that the WMF always made wise decisions in this area (they are fallible and may have overspent on furniture when faced with a big budget surplus -- it is a natural thing to do) and the steadfast refusal to simply reveal what furniture was bought and how much it cost (and the gymnastics while denying that they refuse to reveal what furniture was bought and how much it cost instead of simply telling me no) gives me zero trust that the WMF is committed to financial transparency.
I don't expect that I will ever get an accounting of the 2012-2013 furniture purchases, especially on this page. Because this is to Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard, let me ask some new questions that members of the board should be able to answer:
In the following document...
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/b/bf/Audit_Report_-_FY_13-14_-_Final_v2.pdf
...on page 10 it says "Furniture: 2013=$439,562, 2012=$277,312"
Would the board be willing to ask for a detailed accounting of how that $439,562 and $277,312 was spent, as a spot check on the theory that if the furniture purchases were reasonable, the rest of the finances probably are as well?
I am not at this time asking that this information be made public. I just want to see if the board is able to get an accounting.
If you get the information and the the decision is made to not reveal it, I would really prefer a straight answer telling me so. And if you decide to not ask for the information I would really prefer a straight answer telling me so. --Guy Macon (talk) 04:59, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
( ...sound of crickets...) --Guy Macon (talk) 07:55, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
(...chirp...) --Guy Macon (talk) 15:13, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
@Guy Macon: I think there is an echo in here... Green Giant (talk) 14:55, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I think your question is clearly within the scope of the Audit Committee, although I am not certain if it will look specifically into furniture (although I understand that you're specifically concerned with the increase - possibly related to office restructuring?). Please, note, that it is not common to provide an itemized list of all furniture purchases for organizations of this size. Do you know some? We should match the high standards, but within reason. Pundit (talk) 15:33, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

Access to nonpublic information policy[edit]

It is now fourteen months since the Board mandated this policy and yet it has not yet been brought into force. No doubt the Board are well aware of this and are receiving regular updates on the factors that make it impossible for WMF to comply with the Board's mandate: equally we presume that the Board are satisfied with the explanation for non-compliance that they are receiving. Would the Board please ensure that the community share those updates and explanations, preferably by way of frequent if brief updates at Talk:Access to nonpublic information policy. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 10:59, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

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)

Please Submit Questions for Board Q&A[edit]

Saturday July 18th the Board will hold its annual Board Q&A. Although the session will not be broadcast live we do want to take questions from this noticeboard (and either answer them over there, or over here). From what I understand the session will be streamed at a later stage. So please feel free to add your question below! Jan-Bart (talk) 15:41, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

(PS: I have given some answers, asked clarifying questions below Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC))

I am slightly confused about how this works. Jan-Bart, where you are giving answers here, are the questions rejected for Wikimania? There seems to be an automatic presumption that your answers are speaking for all board members, which was not how I thought this community engagement had worked in previous years. Thanks -- (talk) 13:46, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
As always: my aim is to confuse you :) Experience teaches us that we cannot answer all questions during the session. And last year we also answered several questions online as I recall (just after the fact). In this case I am answering some, asking for clarification on some, ignoring others and we (the board( will sit down somewhere before the Q&A session as a board to see which ones are good picks. Honestly some of the questions here are very complex and cannot be answered in a Q&A session... Other board members will chime in when they have the time, so far I am alone :) Jan-Bart (talk) 22:07, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
Tangent alert - I used "confused" out of a form of British softness when posing a question, it is intended to be polite rather than political or literal. Directness is easier to understand, though being abrupt can seem rude. -- (talk) 22:36, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Fae and all, here is how it will work: we will get questions from audience members. We will also take a couple of questions from this page -- how many depends on time. They might be questions Jan-Bart has addressed, or they might not be. We won't answer all questions, but will try to pick the ones that seem both most relevant to actual board work and that are of the broadest interest for the audience. -- phoebe | talk 16:43, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
What a shame! It would have been such a powerful statement if you had undertaken to answerall the questions on this board, or at least ensure that they were answered, even if the answer were only to be "We are not going to answer that question because of [whatever reason]". What a clear demonstration of the Wikimedia Foundation Guiding Principles on Transparency and Accountability that would have been! Can we not persuade you to reverse that decision and commit to such a great gesture of openness? 188.29.124.75 19:33, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
We did deal with some of the questions and some were answered on this page. Don't forget that this was also an opportunity for those present to ask their questions.Jan-Bart (talk) 09:49, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Sooo...<thumb_twiddling>...a week later...How did it go? Did the Q&A take place? Were any of the questions looked at? When should we expect feedback from the meeting? Will the remaining questions be answered here? Green Giant (talk) 14:52, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
I "think" that this was recorded, but I am not sure. There will be no other feedback I am afraid. I for one intend to go through some of these questions again and see if I can answer some, but will ignore those that are not really board matters or those that clearly do not assume good faith. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:49, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

Submissions[edit]

  1. Does the Board think that the WMF and the community have adequate structures, processes and resources in place for the degree of Innovation needed to take the projects forward over the next five years? If not, what action does the Board propose to take? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:44, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
    There is no board position, but I personally feel that Innovation is in safe hands with our Executive Director. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:51, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
  2. Does the Board think that adequate structures, processes and resources are in place right now for constructive interaction between the volunteer community and WMF staff in the area of technical development? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:44, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
    There is no board position, but I personally think that this is an priority which has been adequately identified by our Executive Director. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:51, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
  3. Has the Board reviewed the last fundraising campaign, taking the results of the survey and comments on mailing lists and Signpost into account? Does the Board think in retrospect that the campaign was compliant with the basis of the fundraising principles? Will the Board change the direction of the next campaign as a result? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:43, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
  4. Do board members feel that Wikimedia culture has a problem with truthfulness? To give two examples, the fundraising messages during the last fundraising drive were widely criticised on the mailing lists for being misleading. Do you accept that there is a problem with the fundraising messages? More recently, WMF board member Jimmy Wales told Guardian readers in an article calling for political action on image rights that "Wikipedia only uses freely licensed images" – a statement that probably made his message more compelling, but suffers from the drawback of being blatantly false. Do you condone this sort of messaging? Andreas JN466 09:28, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Personal opinion here, Specifically referring to the statements by Jimmy. I think that in order to have a powerful message you sometimes have to sacrifice some nuance. In this case I think the threat of awful legislation was very real, and we (amongst many others) were able to draw attention to it and thankfully the proposal did not become law. Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    This personal opinion sounds rather like saying that the end justifies the means. It will be interesting to hear what the other Board members think. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:14, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Agreed. As you are aware, Jan-Bart, this was not the only problem with the July 3rd Guardian op-ed. If you look at it today, there is a fat correction at the bottom, apparently placed by Guardian editors. (Before, after.) The correction reads, "This article was amended on 8 July 2015. An earlier version said that the European parliament is currently engaged in the adoption of some copyright reforms, which, if accepted, would mean that the freedom of panorama would be restricted throughout all EU states. In addition it also said that “this is the last chance” to stop the proposal becoming law. This has been corrected." In other words, everything you've just read in italics was false or misleading enough to require a correction. It is extremely rare for the Guardian to add a correction to a "Comment is Free" op-ed. Do you really feel that suffering the embarrassment of being corrected by a newspaper that has a long history of reporting favourably on Wikipedia is making Wikimedia's messaging more "powerful"? This is hot on the heels of the Shapps story. The Press Gazette reported the other day that the BBC had apologised to Shapps for giving too much credence to a story that originated from a Wikimedia UK staffer. Like the Guardian, the BBC has a long history of reporting positively on Wikipedia. By condoning it when people take liberties with the truth, you are dicing with the Wikimedia brand's reputation, at least here in the UK. Up to you if you want to do that. Andreas JN466 15:50, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  5. It took the WMF over a year to find a VP of Engineering under the assumption that he will work together with a VP of Product. Some time after he was found, the VP of Product left and his role was merged with VP of Engineering. The new VP of Engineering started implementing a major reorganization, and shortly after starting the same he suddenly stopped working for the Foundation. It took more time to find the VP of Engineering than the time that he actually worked as one. According to the Executive Director's communication on the matter, no new VP of Engineering or Product is expected to fill his role any time soon. For an organization that executes a lot of software development, such frequent engineering course changes are very puzzling. It doesn't help that there was very little public communication about the reasons for any of them from the Executive Director, and even less from the Board. Is the Board sure that this is the right way to manage the Engineering work of the Wikimedia Foundation? --Dhoj Besra (talk) 15:25, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    If this was a trend then we are right to be concerned. In this case I think Erik (VP Product) made it very clear why he choose to leave, and as mentioned there will be no details about the departure of the VP of Engineering... But I think your N=1 here? Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    I'm not sure what do you mean when you write "N=1". I understand that the reasons for the departure of the latest VP of Engineering are supposed to remain private and I am not asking for them. But I do feel that there is, indeed, a worrying trend here - whatever the reasons are, the leadership of Engineering is in flux for a long time, and it's unclear how and when will things stabilise. Maybe an answer to my question about the CTO will make things clearer. --Dhoj Besra (talk) 18:26, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    N=1 means that your sample is one, so I am implying that there is not really a trend? Jan-Bart (talk) 09:25, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  6. Related to the previous question, why is the search for the Chief Technical Officer prioritized over the search for a VP of Engineering? Will the CTO be responsible for product development, for maintenance of the servers and the current software's internals, or will he lead both? --Dhoj Besra (talk) 15:25, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  7. Can the Board kindly explain the recent resolutions that give the Executive Director various financial privileges, such as wmf:Resolution:Amendment to the Delegations of Financial and Spending Authority and wmf:Resolution:Delegations of Financial and Spending Authority? They sound boring and bureaucratic, but all the more, talking about millions of dollars in a non-profit that says that it is committed to transparency and governed by the community requires clearer and wider communication. --Dhoj Besra (talk) 15:25, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    So when you say recent you linked to 2013/2012 resolutions? Or am I missing something. Actually these resolutions allow the right people within the foundation to execute these transactions (which are part of their responsibilities)... Not sure why this is an issue Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Sorry, my mistake. I was reading similar past resolutions and linked to them instead of the recent ones: wmf: Resolution:Second amendment to the Delegations of Financial and Spending Authority and wmf: Resolution:Updated Brokerage Account Authorizations. About the second one, I can understand that it is something to do with money and investments, but it would be nice to explain what a "Brokerage Account" is to people who don't know the American legal and business language well. Wikipedia didn't help. The amendments to the delegation of financial and spending authority are also written in a very legal language that is hard to understand. So I would love to have a readable explanation of what does this mean in general, and why were amendments needed. (For that matter, the older resolutions are just as opaque.) --Dhoj Besra (talk) 18:26, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    On that subject, @Jan-Bart, the Foundation pages on both those resolutions currently violate the Board of Trustees Voting Transparency resolution from 30 March 2012. In fact, this is also the case with the Annual Plan 2015-16 resolution as well as others, including the Jan-Bart de Vreede reappointment 2013 and Stu West reappointment 2013 resolutions which I have been trying to get information on since January 2014 (ie. 17 months ago). odder (talk) 19:10, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Hey Odder, I think you mean that the individual votes are missing from the resolution? That is strange indeed, I will find out why. As I recall all three of those were unanimous, but it is still better to be very explicit about each of the votes. I will look into it.(Dohj, I will also ask someone from the foundation to explain the terminology rather than trying to do it myself :) Jan-Bart (talk) 09:28, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  8. As an example of embracing a diversity of viewpoints; for each board member, can you name a community issue that you have pursued or still are, that you believe is not popular with the majority of the WMF board? -- (talk) 16:16, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Fae, this is based on the assumption that there are several community issues which fall under the "governance" role of the board. My estimate is that the vast majority of community issues fall within the responsibility of Foundation Staff? Or am I missing something? Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    The WMF Board owns the strategy, and the CEO produces a plan to deliver on it. Lila's recent announcement of the Annual Plan[2] reiterated that the strategic "core" is two things "community and technology". In the Board's role as the owner of the strategy and your continuous role of oversight, you have a guiding vision for the community aspects of the strategy and you determine whether your CEO is delivering on them. If there are members of the board that feel they are specialized and have no viewpoint or special passion on community issues and improvement, that's fine they can say so. I would be surprised that applies to all members of the board, and I know it does not apply to the incoming trustees. My question is fishing for evidence that the Board is adding value through meaningful discussion or even difficult debate, and is not always just nodding things through unchanged, hence the "name one thing you do not readily agree on" format to avoid "we all love apple pie" type responses. Face-smile.svg Thanks for asking so quickly for a clarification. -- (talk) 18:05, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Ok, that is a broader question which I can answer on. As you can see from a lot of resolutions we do not always agree. Sometimes we disagree and then work to a compromise and then try to get a unanimous vote. And sometime we simply go with a majority. I know you want more specific examples, but I would rather keep it general. A little but more in the past: there was strong discussion on the 2 year "programatic activity" requirement in order to become a chapter, as there still is on the "how to (s)elect community seats" discussion (by the way, there is no discussion on keeping the majority of the seats "community" seats. Not sure that helps, but its all I can give you... Jan-Bart (talk) 09:35, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  9. Is the Board satisfied with the progress implementing the access to nonpublic information policy, mandated 14 months ago? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:17, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  10. What are the Board's views on having the WMF staff multi-centred? For example, would the Board support having an office in London to tap into the tech areas around Old Street and the Knowledge Campus? If the WMF is seeking to expand its technical innovation, that could be an exciting option. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:48, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  11. It is nearly a year since Superprotect was implemented. It is deeply divisive. Will the Board oversee its removal? - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 18:58, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the Superprotect feature has been invoked exactly once at the very beginning? I refer you to Lila's page on the whole discussion on that, but I doubt that it is highly divisive at this point. I think that the super protect feature is something that falls within the domain of our Executive Director, whom I trust to have good judgment. I would personally never vote for or against a specific feature of Mediawiki software, unless this is at the specific request of the Executive Director, it simply is not our job. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:40, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
    I am aware of at least two uses of the Superprotect feature1. As far as I am aware, there is no public way to monitor its use, so I do not know if it has been used more than twice. This is not a feature of the Mediawiki software, per se, but a function created and implemented specifically to over-rule community consensus. As such it constitutes a conflict between the executive and the community, making it a board decision. - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 00:05, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  12. Was referred to the board with the following question regarding the terms and conditions surrounding partnerships:
    The English Wikipedia community / Arbcom has repeatedly affirmed that it is unwilling to observe the standards set out in US law for a non-hostile working environment for volunteers, and supports the use of gender-related and sexual profanity in the administrative and enforcement areas of this website. Why do you believe that institutions supported by US taxpayer money should put up with this poor treatment of volunteers as a condition of participation on the website? -- Djembayz (talk) 23:23, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

    Does the Board support the use of gender-related and sexual profanity in the administrative, enforcement, and talk pages of this website? --Djembayz (talk) 23:27, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

    What is the Board's position on creating a sexual harassment policy that covers online volunteers? Is the Board comfortable with the fact that there is currently no sexual harassment policy covering online volunteers? Does the Board see itself playing a role in creating, approving, or reviewing such a policy? --Djembayz (talk) 11:21, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
    Does the Board feel that online volunteers deserve the same anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections as paid staff? If not, why not? --Djembayz (talk) 11:21, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  13. Does the Board feel that more than enough time has been given for all Wikimedia websites to have complied with the 2007 resolution on licensing policy, i.e. adopt an Exemption Doctrine Policy (EDP) for local file uploads? As of July 2015, there are 51 wikis that have or are close to having EDPs, but there are at least 85 wikis that each host more than a thousand images each and a grand total of about 2.3 million non-free files. Is the Board aware of the extent of this problem and if so, will the Board be prepared to act immediately to resolve it? For a number of years, some of us have proposed a solution that crystallised last year in a proposal for a NonFreeWiki, which could act as a central repository in the same way as Commons but with a focus in ensuring that non-free content is being used appropriately. A particular problem is that we often have duplicate copies of images, e.g. we still have 36 copies of a promotional poster for the Titanic movie, of which 16 were on wikis without EDP's. Centralizing such content would ensure that the WMF resolution is complied with. Green Giant (talk) 11:50, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  14. Does the Board feel that the Fundraising Principles, which the Board formally adopted in 2012, have been adhered to in recent years? (see the various principled as we as specific complaints compiled at Talk:Fundraising principles). If not, then do you believe that these principles need strengthening/adjusting as a result? Wittylama (talk) 13:23, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  15. Would you agree that the WMF should follow the same standards, or higher, financial planning and public scrutiny that it enforces (via the FDC process) for the Annual Plan Grant system? If so, what steps will the Board take to ensure this happens in the future? (For comparison, this year's WMF annual plan had 2 days' public scrutiny for a 14page PDF valuing $65m, that includes the ability to fundraise 20% more than the approved budget - while APG chapters must meet much higher standards of detail, for much less money, for much longer periods of scrutiny). Wittylama (talk) 13:23, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  16. Last year the Board chairman made a public statement [3] which he warned us "might not represent the view of the entire board" to the effect that if experienced and long-standing members of the community who did not approve of decisions of the Foundation with respect to the imposition of new software decided to leave "that might be the way things have to be", since "We want to attract new editors. They don’t have to become heavy editors, they could even contribute once in a while, as long as we get lots of them." Has the Board reviewed and discussed that statement in its entirety and to what extent, if any, does the statement reflect the overall strategic view of the Board? 92.41.117.219 20:37, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
    Being the author of that statement (actually they are two different opinions within it) I still stand by it, and no we did not discuss it extensively or come to a conclusion as to whether or not this is the entire boards opinion. Frankly #:I think it is unlikely that everyone on the board would agree with this, but it is my personal opinion. Jan-Bart (talk) 22:11, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  17. I notice the Foundation is building an endowment fund. Is this the result of a board resolution or is it an initiative of the ED? (I'm open-minded on its merits. I used to think it was a bad idea - that the Foundation should be perpetually reliant on ongoing goodwill of our readers, and if donations ever dried up it would be a sign that the WMF no longer deserved to exist. But the ED's comments at Wikimania 2014 have given me pause for thought: funding might dry up for reasons independent of the Foundation's performance.) Regardless of the answer to this question, could you please explain the reasons behind the decision? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 22:40, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
    This is one of those things that have come up several times over the past years. The Foundation put a serious proposal before the board after a few preliminary discussions at the february meeting. The minutes are here. The formal approval has not taken place but there are already steps being taken. I am not sure if the board is going to have a specific resolution on this in the coming months, but I think that this is likely. Jan-Bart (talk) 01:44, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
    Thank you, Jan-Bart. I can understand Lisa Seitz-Gruwell (Chief Revenue Officer) and Garfield Byrd (Chief of Finance and Administration) thinking this is a good idea, and they seem to be driving it. I did ask what the thinking is behind this initiative. Why does the board think it's a good idea for the WMF to live on forever, regardless of the quality of the job it does?

    Giving the Foundation a guaranteed income until the end of time will effectively prevent a younger fresher smarter leaner more responsive team from challenging you for the privilege of serving the content creators and curators - or at least make such a challenge almost impossibly difficult. A large endowment will likely saddle us with you, no matter how poor your performance, until hell freezes over. And in the unlikely event that a challenge succeeds, what will you do with the endowment when the articles, images and other data that we make is being accessed by the world on someone else's site, while your site is a clunky clone languishing on page 15 of Google? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 10:20, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

    I think that this is the most negative way of possibly looking at the concept of an endowment, and I am tempted to just leave it at that.... BUT... the performance of the Foundation itself is constantly under review by both the community, board and our donors. To be clear: an endowment is likely to generate enough income to keep the lights on (unlikely to be near current budget). Also: an endowment allows us to reach new donors that like to leave money specifically for long term purposes that an endowment represents. Jan-Bart (talk) 16:35, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
    Well, yes, it's negative - It's a worst case and a sound argument against an endowment - the only sound argument I'm aware of. I'm still wavering but I think the ED's implicit (if I've inferred correctly) warning in her Wikimania speech trumps it: that due to more prominent reuse of our work by others such as Google - but not only Google - we may suffer such a significant drop in page views that our ability to raise sufficient funds from banners is threatened.

    On your point about raising large tied donations, please don't if you don't have to - and you don't. There is a huge smell over the Belfer donations and nothing is as free of smell as tens of thousands of small donations from our readers. Again, I can see why your fundraising staff would want to focus on big fat lump sums - it's the usual model - but Wikipedia isn't the usual nonprofit. We are in a position (at least for now) to invite millions of our very grateful readers to donate, and so far they've given us what we ask for.

    As others have said above, please direct your fundraising staff to not mislead our readers in the next round. It is really immoral. It makes me ashamed, but it is also just stupid to insult the very people we're serving and on whom the WMF depends for its survival. If they can't generate enough funds from our very grateful readers without misleading them, then you need a new fundraising team. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 22:12, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

    I am sorry, but you are jumping to so many conclusions which i do not agree with (and mixing up discussions) that I think going into each one of them is not going to help this discussion. Bottom line: an endowment is something we as a board have discussed several times over the years. We are now in a position fortunate enough to start this, and once the details are worked out we see if this is something that fits with our movement. Jan-Bart (talk) 22:24, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
    I came back to correct "focus" - obviously the fundraisers aren't focussed just on lump sums - but you had already responded. I'm sorry if I misunderstood where the initiative for the endowment fund lies. You'll ignore my last paragraph at your peril. Thank you for your time. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 22:35, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  18. The WMF has a number of vacancies in senior leadership roles. Does the Board believe that satisfactory procedures are in place to ensure the strategic leadership of the Foundation? 92.40.119.230 21:18, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  19. Has the Board reviewed the political lobbying and campaigning activities of the WMF? Is it satisfied that those activities adequately represent the expressed will of the community? 92.40.119.230 21:23, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  20. Has the Board reviewed the actions of the WMF in the "monkey selfie" affair? Does the Board believe the WMF has behaved honourably towards the photographer in question and the macaque conservation programme? 94.196.249.81 06:19, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  21. A longstanding arbitrator on the English Wikipedia said yesterday, My view is that many of the encyclopedia's structures and policies are less fit for purpose than they were five years ago. My own view is that trust and safety issues - outing, doxxing, harassment, anonymous etc - should be handled not by a bunch of part-timers but by experienced professionals people with a budget for legal assistance for victims. Many of the problems would go away if people understood that their actions would have likely consequences, and that they might find themselves in court, facing either criminal charges or civil proceedings for restraining orders and damages. And the outcome was publicised.  Roger Davies talk 01:09, 15 July 2015 (UTC) Another editor says she has been receiving rape and murder threats for years (as have many other editors in the relevant topic area), even though the Foundation is fully aware of the perpetrator's name and location. Is the Wikimedia Foundation doing enough in this area? Will you do more, and if so, what and when? Andreas JN466 15:59, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

How to petition the board[edit]

Hi, I'm here to ask a board member what a group of Wikipedians needs to do to petition the board over an issue – that is, how to get a proposal on the table for the board to discuss. Any advice would be much appreciated. Sarah (SV) talk 21:57, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

With respect to a formal answer from the board as a whole I am not sure. I know personally that if an issue is 1) within the scope of the board 2) a clear community consensus around the issue is presented I will be happy to bring it forwards as an individual board member. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:04, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
That's very encouraging, thank you for that commitment. Could I ask that you interpret "consensus" to mean consensus that the issue needs a decision, not necessarily what that decision is: it may well be that there is significant support both for and against a proposal and that what is required is for the Board to resolve community tensions by a decision one way or the other. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:51, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
While I am happy to bring community consensus forwards I am not sure the board should resolve disagreements within the community. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 09:34, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 10:08, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm just wondering, but if a consensus has been determined, why would it need to go to the board? Reguyla (talk) 13:10, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Some things such as a new group of functionaries can be created by the WMF other things may need the support of the WMF. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:39, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Also, occasionally communities may be in disagreement with the WMF, and the Board may serve as an intermediary. I will be happy to help, if cases approved by local communities require the Board's attention. Pundit (talk) 13:50, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification but after seeing the fallout from superprotect, mediaviewer and Visual Editor and how the community didn't want them, but were basically forced to use them, at least for a while, makes me think the intentions of the statement may not be how it actually works. Communities come to a consensus all the time and sometimes they are just ignored because the people who don't want it won't allow it. Reguyla (talk) 14:17, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Last week I've taken up an initiative (supported by James as well) to resolve the SuperProtect issue. We are working on the solution hand in hand with the WMF, and it is my honest belief that the Foundation is willing to address it. My expectation is to come up with a sensible solution within the next year or sooner (not because it is so difficult, but because it takes time; nevertheless I do not anticipate SuperProtect to be used any time soon, anyway). Pundit (talk) 15:36, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
On the issue of VE I see it as wanted, just initially poorly rolled out. It now has support for being turned on on EN Wikipedia by default. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:57, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
True on both counts, thanks. Personally I don't think its ever been in doubt that the WMF had the ability to do certain things (like super protect a page) I think it was a matter of how it was done, when it was done and why. With regard to VE I agree 10%. Its something that the communities have been asking for an the current version is pretty good. Personally I would now support it being turned on in ENWP as well but it has been about 2 years since it was prematurely released so thats still likely to be on a lot of peoples minds. Reguyla (talk)
I totally agree. VE is actually really good now. I mean, really good. Even veteran editors can benefit from it (e.g. because of better reference management). But it was rolled out prematurely, and using SP to force it was just a mistake. All in all, most communities have enough common sense to accept stuff, when it is ready and useful - forcing anything down their throat is not such a great move then. I hope we'll be able to build a proper procedure around SP, since it is also a useful tool (as was shown on wiki-data already). Pundit (talk) 07:19, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
The only major thing I wish VE did that it doesn't know is make it more obvious you are in editor mode. if they decreased the color of the background by 10% or something it would be great. Its hard to tell sometimes when your in editor mode and there were a couple times I accidentally changed something because I didn't realize it. Reguyla (talk) 13:28, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
BTW, it was the media viewer not VE that SP was used for :) just straightening it after a talk with Jan-Bart. Pundit (talk) 13:40, 29 July 2015 (UTC)