Talk:Board elections/2007/Informal/Discussion07/debate (en)

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This is not a part of official election document. PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE IT OR ITS TRANSLATION to the official documents on Board elections and its subpage. Thank you.


Rules of the debate[edit]

<Dmcdevit> So, there was not much notice and there has not been much discussion at all about structure. I'll take the opinion that it's not a big deal and use some arbitrary guidelines, since at least one of you has indicated he is only available until the end of the hour. I will ask a question, and that same question goes to all candidates, who will answer in alphabetical order, starting with ^demon, and then reversed for the next question. You will have one minute to respond to a question, and an option for a 30 second rebuttal. Rebuttals are for when someone answering after you addresses your argument. PM me for a rebuttal before the rebuttals start so I know to voice you (in the order I get the PM). Additionally, when I run out of the questions that were posted by users on-wiki, I will open it up to questions from the lurkers (er, audience) here. Lurkers: please PM me at any time during the debate with such questions. The rebuttal is just a chance for extra time to respond to someone who has disagreed with you.

First question[edit]

<Dmcdevit> First question: Board members each bring something new and unique to the board. What quality can you bring to the board?

<dannyisme> as someone who has worked in the office, i know the foundation intimately. I havee experience in nonprofits, i organized the previous audit, and i have experience in raising money and publishing encyclopedias

<DragonFire1024> I am an ordinary person. I may not be a professional lawyer or accountant or etc, but I bring to the board, what it lacks IMO. People skills. I want to bring more of a people environment to the board.

<Eloquence> Good evening/day to all of you. As MediaWiki dev and CTO of an open source/open knowledge non-profit, I believe I have a thorough understanding specifically of the technological challenges facing our projects, and can give strategic advice about areas in which to innovate. My positioning within the free software/free culture movement is reflected by my co-authorship of the Definition of Free Cultural Works on which I worked with the likes of Richard Stallman and Lawrence Lessig.

<UninvitedCompany> I bring a background of long-time participation in ENWP and Foundation work, along with a professional background in management and business. I also bring previous experience from another Board of Trustees at a non-profit. I believe that I can work well with other board members, the communities that make up the foundation, and outsiders. My primary reason for running is to support a greater degree of autonomy for the foundation's executive director, which I believe is crucial to solving fundraising problems. It is also necessary for addressing the various other matters before the foundation.

<WarX> First of all I'm vissionaire ;) For now I'm working of getting as much free content ass possible I will try to make the world better (for Wikimedia Projects) changing view on copyrights by ordinary people and second: ENTUSIASM :P

<DragonFire1024> Eloquence: Curiousity kills the cat ;) What makes your definition of "free works" binding? Why is your definition better than that of other "free" definitions, and why must that be the definition we use?

<oscar> i'll be quick yo all :-) being a composer, i am a professionally creative person with a broad organizational experience - i am good with people and a professional educator as well. i cancelled a meeting of my work to be here on time, and my time available is limited as well - i hope we finish more on time than we started ;-) even as a composer i am i firm believer in copyeft

<Eloquence> DragonFire1024, it's not binding at all. It is a document that communities which collaborate on content on any kind can choose to adopt, or not to, and it has been adopted by several communities. Including, for instance, the Commonwealth of Learning, which has used it in its international projects for content production in the developing world.

<oscar> i hope to be able to continue spending my free time in such a valuable way

Second question[edit]

<Dmcdevit> Second question: Where do you see the Wikimedia Foundation 5 years from now? If you had any one single goal you wished to accomplish, what would it be and why?

<oscar> 50 wikimedia projects in different languages with over half a million articles, 50 wikimedia chapters on all habitable continents around the world founded, at least one staffed office on each continent, all with the wikimedia foundation still non-profit, independent and of course the mission unaltered.

<WarX> WMF still not bound to any comercial industry and cooperation with every possible institution that can generate free content eg. ministries of culture in countries

<UninvitedCompany> In five years, I would hope that the foundation will have sufficient money, and sufficient ongoing sources of money, to ensure its survival. I would hope that it will have started to build an endowment. I would hope that the role of ED will be well-defined, and that there will be clear communications with each community. I would hope that each community would feel that the foundation listens and responds to its concerns. I would hope that the legal strategy will have matured. And I would hope that many of the things the communities have longed for will be fulfilled - stable versions, more responsive servers, a toolserver that is up to date. I also would hope that we would serve the wider public with better quality articles and that we would continue to be among the most popular web sites in the world. The first step would be to have a well-defined role for the ED, since all else hinges upon that.

<Eloquence> 5 years from now I want us to be an efficient, scalable organization that has successfully completed many projects based on grants and donations on an international scale, such as helping people throughout the world make use of our content, inventing new methods for people to collaborate, improving its accessibility and reliability, and enriching it in new an exciting ways. (Sorry for copy & pasting, BTW, 1 minute is not very long.) I believe WMF can become such an organization while remaining a charitable non-profit, without resorting to advertising, by following best practices in the non-profit sector, hiring brilliant people, leveraging our volunteer comunity, and also setting new standards of participation and transparency wherever it makes sense.

<DragonFire1024> I see it as being the most popular organization of free content and information to the world. Although I have several goals, my main one is to make the "collaboration" between projects, actual collaboration and not a competition between each other. In order to achieve our goal to being the top provider of free information/media, we need to work together as projects: not against.

<dannyisme> Financial independence. Without that, nothing else can get accomplished.

<UninvitedCompany> Oscar, you measure your goals in the success of each project rather than in the work of the Foundation itself. What do you think the Foundation needs to achieve in order to facilitate the great breadth of /project/ success you hope we attain?

<WarX> dannyisme: aren't you afrais that aggressive seeking of money wll change WMF rom content oriented to money oriented biurocracy ?

Third question[edit]

<Dmcdevit> All right, now the third question: How do you reconcile the multilingual goals of the Wikimedia Foundation with election proceedings, like this debate, that limit potential candidates to English speakers?

<dannyisme> Nowhere do I say aggressive seeking of money. I am just being practical. We need money to survive. People want to give us money. Let's get the show on the road.

i think greater efforts need to be made for translation, but i have no practical solution for the question. Perhaps having questions in advance like this will help, and asking the election committee to translate his log will be of service to people

<DragonFire1024> Tough question. The only answer I can think of would be to have translators elected on projects that would translate logs, proposals, debates and elections. Since we have a great amount of languages in the Foundation, it would only make sense to translate to all of them. Its just a matter of finding those who are able to.

<Eloquence> I'm a native German speaker. English is the most widely spoken second language, which often makes it the most practical choice for debates crossing project and language boundaries. That being said, I am personally working on (specified, allocated funding and developers for, overseeing implementation) technological projects that would help to assist multilingual communication, such as m:Multilingual MediaWiki (prototype at http://mw.visc.us , under development by Charles Pritchard with financial support from Wikia and the University of Bamberg). I believe the Foundation needs to build a policy framework around such technological innovation, and to some extent hire translators to help with the most critical documents.

<oscar> to answer the question by UninvitedCompany: to facilitate the projects in their full scope is the goal of the foundation; to sustain this effort over a longer period of time a stable organization is needed.

to answer the third question: i am not a native speaker of english ad have endeavored all my life to be multi-lingual. it may be a matter of mentality: maybe we can inspire the native speakers to learn more languages?

<UninvitedCompany> There are those who help with translations (an important and thankless task), which mitigates the effect. I am pleased to note that there are more and better translations of the election-related materials than was the case last fall.

<WarX> first: creating *core* from languages that are very spread across globe: en, fr, es, ru, zh, de and trying to have translators for this core cause most of people on the world speak one of those ;) than maybe starting larger project

<mindspillage> I have to say I am no fan of this debate format because it is limited to either pasting pre-prepared statements or off-the-cuff thinking. The first makes this format inefficient and the second is not a good indicator of a person's qualifications for the Board. However, I do think a candidate will have to have at least some proficiency in English to be able to function effectively on the Board; it is effectively the working language of the Foundation and it would be difficult working in a small group that does not share a common language, whatever that language is; also, most communications to the Board come in English and a member who could not read it would be at a great disadvantage.

<Frieda> penso che l'unica risposta possibile sia in italiano :-p which means:I think the only possibile answer is in italian.. out of joke there isn't a practical solution else than using translator. But it's unfriendly if a candidate cannot debate, for instance..

<DragonFire1024> Eloquence: Eloquence: Why spend the money to hire translators? that would cost an great deal amount of money. We have an extensive user base from around the world. Why not form a proposal Wikimedia-wide that would have those translators operate under the authority of the board? (just an example)

<Eloquence> Jason, I think you're completely correct that we should resort to empowering our volunteer community whenever possible. However, as with everything, there are time constraints, and there are minority languages that we may not be able to serve well in this manner. This is where spending money, in a certain number of cases, may be a reasonable thing to do.

Last scripted question[edit]

<Dmcdevit> Here is the last scripted question. To what extent do you feel board members should continue to participate in various wiki comunities in which they participated before being elected?

<Frieda> according to their willing

<mindspillage> I believe that they should continue to participate, but should be careful about separating the board role from the community role. I still contribute to discussions, but I think I take much less of a role and do not get involved in as heated positions as I may have in the past... but I think it is important to keep in touch with what goes on And to edit for fun. :-)

<WarX> I think that everyone should decide for himself. on my own example - I have not many time for editting, now, but I try to do this (even more frequently then few months earlier when I had time) And we should remember that everyone is human, and sometimes has time and power to do something, sometimes not


<UninvitedCompany> In general, I believe that members of the board of trustees should continue to participate in the WMF's constituent projects. I believe that it is vital that trustees remain abreast of the current issues facing the projects, and understand the path of evolution the projects are following. I believe that most community members are capable of understanding that board members don't have special authority over the projects except in the rare case where they are speaking on behalf of the board as a whole. Board members should be accessible and involved.

<oscar> some people seem to believe in a more centrally governed wikimedia foundation, even ruled by outside" specialists"... i on the other hand believe in the our fundamental and main potential as a grassroots-organization that develops chapters worldwide and becomes a kind of "mycelium", a more network-like worldwide structure that does not have a single point of failure so, to answer the question: *to some extent certainly* because i believe the elected people in the board should *always* be community-representatives.

<Eloquence> I think we need to be careful not be seen as official agents of the Foundation when editing the projects, both for legal and ethical reasons. My participation in Wikimedia projects since I was elected to the Board has been relatively low, and I've done so under a clear disclaimer posted on my main user pages. But that was more due to lack of time than anything and might change again in the future. ;-) I would not want to impose a requirement of low or no participation on Board members unless explicitly advised to do so by legal counsel.

<DragonFire1024> I think board member should contribute extensive at least to one project. I personally think that if the board does not participate in our projects, they have no business representing the "communities" which they are not aware of or involved in. I contribute to Wikinews with massive amounts of articles and Original Reporting, As a contributer, I "know" the community. In order to serve, those people should have trust in you. You have a hard time gaining that rust with nothing to show for it. (OR and article examples: http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/User:DragonFire1024/Articles )

<dannyisme> deally, being on a board should take less than 15 hours a month. They should be able to continue to participate, provided their position does not interfere with handling issues internal to that wiki. On the other hand, it is not the role of the board to participate in projects but to oversee the Foundation as a whole. It is to keep the lights on and the computers running, so to speak.

<DragonFire1024> dannyisme: The board is elected by the community. How, if you are not contributing to any project, would you gain the trust of the users from the communities voting for you? assuming you do not contribute :)

<dannyisme> As you know, I do not support a community elected board. The fact is that one of our most prolific board members, a man who has saved the foundation on countless occasions, works behind the scenes and never once edited.

<oscar> dannyisme: i believe such is only possible provided others are around him who know the projects and *do* edit

<mindspillage> I support selecting the most suitable people, whether they are from the community or not. I would be against having a board that did not have a strong voice from the communities.

<UninvitedCompany> I believe that it is important for us to have a balanced board. I believe that we should structure our selection process so that there will always be a mixture of: a) community members b) professionals c) donor representatives d) employees on the board.

<dannyisme> To oscar, that is why I suggest a strong advisory board made up of community representatives. I can, however, accept Steve's proposal as well

<Eloquence> Diverse skills need to be present on any functioning Board of Trustees, and a deep familiarity with the entity that is being governed is among them. As per the Bylaws, which were revised to this effect in December, the current Board is not entirely comunity-elected; it is partially elected and partially appointed. And I do believe that permits us to strike the right balance. The current Board plans an expansion to 9 members, allowing to bring in additional talent.

<WarX> UninvitedCompany: Many people in Poland have asked me about selling Wikipedia. Don't you think that if there will be not enought representatives of community something awfull can be done to projects?

<Dmcdevit> Okay, that's all teh scripted questions. Now for ones I've just received in PM, to make it interesting. Er, one more rebuttal first.

<UninvitedCompany> Reply to WarX: In short, no. Trustees have a fiduciary responsibility, which means that they have to put the financial interests of the foundation above their own. Since the foundation is a non-profit, technically, it can't be sold, though the underlying assets could be. I think it's important for us to be able to trust people outside our own project community. And a balanced board is just that. No one faction should be in control.

Question from IRC[edit]

<Dmcdevit> Now the question: There have been a number of queries surrounding Wikinews and some of its differences from other projects - including original reporting and issuing of press passes - were you elected would you continue to support these rather exceptional aspects of the project? If so, how?

<dannyisme> yes, provided that there was some oversight for this. We have professional journalists in our community who could give us guidance.

<DragonFire1024> I definitely support that. In fact the accreditation policy was written by the board. When, for example a Wikinewsie was sent to the G8, we required the board to get involved and they did not. when we represent the foundation, using the Wiki-name, we ned that kkind of interaction

<Eloquence> All of our projects are exceptional in their own right (can you tell that both my parents are teachers? ;-). Wikinews has particular needs. I've been working with Ilya Haykinson and the Office on a grant proposal that would allow us to develop new technology and physical spaces for the Wikinews community, if successful. successful. Accreditation is an issue that needs to to be carefully legally examined; in particular, if it goes beyond the implicit approval that is current practice. We need to be careful not to turn the Wikimedia Foundation into a publisher, which would endanger our Section 230 liability protection. It may be sensible to set up a separate organization for this purpose, and WMF could provide seed funding to do so.

<mindspillage> I don't think that it is primarily the board's role to support. Most of this needs to come from the individual project communities themselves, and from dedicating working groups from within those communities. For special asistance that needs the board's attention, however, decisions can't be made quickly and a lot of requests made from WN to the Foundation have been on a short timescale. For anythign where the foundation is going to get behind it, there must be consideration of consequences -- legal, reputation, use of resources -- that need organization and careful throught, even though ideas may sound good. And the board did not write the accreditation policy, unless I'm misinformed.

<oscar> it's really very simple: as everything started with wikipedia, an encyclopedia, a lot still sticks around revolving around "how to develop a new encyclopedia" with the newer projects now taking off one by one, this of course needs adjustments. in the case of wikinews, i'd support and trust the community to work out detailed additional requirements to be approved by the board, rules, etc

<UninvitedCompany> I think that Wikinews is an excellent project and is within our mission. I support its work. I believe that the Foundation should be responsive to its needs, and should be willing to take steps to be sure that reporters are empowered to do their work. I don't think that Wikinews can achieve the success it deserves without original reporting. Whatever the legal, governance, and administrative hurdles are to a good press pass process, they ought to be solved. Although I could think up some specific solutions, I won't do so because it isn't the board's job -- that's what we have an ED for.

<WarX> I think that without Orginal Reporting Wikinews will never be 'real' news' ;) I think that accreditations should be driven by local chapters - I'm working on it in WM-PL with some success. Making chapters more self confident about their own should be main goal of WMF in this

<DragonFire1024> Expand answer: I also have a press pass from Wikinews, and for major events like the G8, government officials and organizers would like to know who we are representing, and without board approval, we represent no one but ourselves technically.

Last question[edit]

<Dmcdevit> One more question, and then we will conclude with final statements. Would you support releasing the state of the foundation's finances quarterly? Why or why not.

<WarX> I think it would be good idea - maybe it will cut off some press speculations like closing wikipedia ;)

<UninvitedCompany> I believe that we should be releasing complete, formal financial statements quarterly.

<oscar> i agree to this, provided this does not create an unworkable situation in the office: allow for some time for things to get ready

<mindspillage> I think that everyone thinks this is a good idea; I'd be surprised to hear someone who didn not think so. One of the major current tasks of the office has been to get the financial information organized to a point where we can do this, but right now it is a major production to get them out.

<Eloquence> Absolutely. The office has been busy establishing the necessary accounting practices, and the Board has just received draft monthly financial statements from the COO for the period of July 2006 - June 2007. Once everything is functioning smoothly, quarterly statements are definitely meant to be provided. Note that we also have a real-time, public fundraising database (developed by David Strauss :-). http://fundraising.wikimedia.org/

<DragonFire1024> Well if I were donating to the foundation i would like to see where that money goes and what its doing. 85% of the money the Foundation receives comes from donations. So I do support that, and it should be a matter of public record.

<dannyisme> I do, along with Board minutes that do not compromise the Foundation.

<DragonFire1024> I also support the minutes being released. Private information should only be striked if absolutely necessary

Concluding remarks[edit]

<Dmcdevit> Okay, now we'll close with any concluding remarks. I'll post some questions we didn't have time for, in case you are inclined to address them.

To what extent do you feel the balance needs to be struck between focusing on the biggest project, the English Wikipedia (which is, ultimately, how we are judged by your average Joe Bloggs on the street), and promoting free content in general through WMF's other projects?

Wikinews has a lower alexa rank than the World of Warcraft wiki. Do you see this as a failure by Wikimedia to provide proper promotion to that project and how do you intend to fix this problem?

Someone wanted opinions on privacy, specifically with respect to TOR.

To what extent do you think the WMF can become multilingual, and what do you hope to do to ease the translation problems? How do you hope to represent the smaller language wikis (not just Wikipedias but Wikisources, Wikinews, and so on) outside of the languages you speak?

Wikimedia is community run but the community is oftentimes vandalistic. What is your approach to solving the issue of vandalism and other deconstructive problems without stopping freedom? Is there a way to be free productively? Or must we be slaves to freedom to prevent abuse?

Okay, that's probably not realistic. Just say what youwant. One minute each, starting with dannyisme. No rebuttals.

<dannyisme> I hope that people look at the bigger picture, at the Foundation, not at the individual components like chapters and projects. They are mature enough to take care of themselves. We have plenty of visionaries. We need people who can see to the very humdrum side of things, like ensuring fiduciary responsibility is maintained and that we are financially secure for a long time to come. English is the largest project, in terms of publicity and money raised through it. The measure of small projects will often be gauged by the success of English, at least until they gain some degree of independence.

<DragonFire1024> Well alexa is inaccurate in that if you do not have their tool bar, the stats are not generated. Point is the Board needs to take into consideration the needs of *every* project when making decisions/policies. The board should involve the community in every way they can. The contributers are who provide the information to the Wikis. Without them, there is nothing. Thats where the collaboration comes in as one goal of the Foundation is collaboration. If the board does not interact with the community, and communities do not interact with each other, there is no collaboration IMO.

<Eloquence> OK, this is not a closing statement. I think our approach to dealing with privacy/anonomity and vandalism, so far, has been a bit misguided. For instance, we pride ourselves in allowing "anonymous" editing. But as a matter of fact, when not registered, your IP address is broadcast to the entire world, and recorded in our page histories for eternity. And our somewhat paranoid attitude towards open proxies is the opposite side of the equation. The fundamental question is: How do new users gain trust within the Wikimedia projects? How do they beocme editors? And I do believe this relates strongly to the proposition of "stable versions". If we can manage, in a scalable fashion, to review the flood of changes by people without a trust record, as they come in, we may be able to find new ways to confer editing privileges. Without restricting, necessarily, the use of open proxies and TOR.

<mindspillage> Most of what I have to say here I would rather answer via my questions page, and much of it has been. Otherwise, I think it is important to have a Board with principled, long-term thinkers, who have a deep understanding of the core values, over anything; this I think is more important than any particular position on a particular issue.

<oscar> i would like to thank you all my fellow-wikimedians, fellow-volunteers and fellow-candidates and especially Dmcdevit for chairing the debate :-) When the logs go public *please* take out the texts of the troll-fake-candidate (yes, even here!) as there is no point in disseminating that any further.

<UninvitedCompany> I believe that the key governance question at issue is whether we will continue to have a "working" board that is closely involved in every decision, or a board that will serve primarily to appoint an ED and provide high-level guidance and oversight. I do not believe that the Foundation is well served by a "working" board and hope that each of you will choose to vote for one of the... I would like to thank Dmcdevit for serving as Moderator, and I'd like to thank the other candidates for participating. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has listened and offered questions, and even those taking the time to read through the debate after it takes place. You will be among the informed voters taking the election seriously. I hope that all of you will vote, and that you will all get as many qualified Wiki*ans to vote as you can. I believe that the future of the Foundation rests upon the results of this election, and whatever the outcome should be, I hope we will be able to look back and say that the community became involved and made its voice heard....candidates who favors an oversight-oriented role rather than a "working" one. Finally, the term for elected trustees is two years, and the issues we face will shift during that time. I hope that you will consider not only candidates' stands on issues we face today, but will also consider the extent to which you see wisdom, judgment, and shared values at work in each candidate.

<WarX> I think that better position of Wikipedia (read: bigger and better known) will be good for other projects. Many editors move (or even oscilates) from Wikipedia to oher projects. I think that in long time Commons will be project that will be main accelerator of Wikimedia. In the future we will have best sources both of text (pedia+source+quote+other) AND multimedia in internet, but we have to work hard to change people's view of our projects from content providing to content creating (we need more creators cause readers we have a lot for today)

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