Talk:Funds Dissemination Committee Advisory Group

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Composition[edit]

It's great to see this moving forward, and for there to be an Advisory Group established to facilitate this process.

However, I'm concerned that the process of appointing this Advisory Group is not particularly transparent. It's unclear as to why these members were selected rather than the others that were nominated, particularly given the fairly generic criteria that were (somewhat arbitrarily) set out by the WMF. Given that this committee is intended to advise the dissemination of funds for the movement at large, it would be good if this could be expanded upon in public rather than kept confidential within the WMF. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:08, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

Sure, fair point. Let me at least share how we made the selections. I ran a small, short process to get a good group to choose from and got Sue's sign-off (The decision on the composition of the committee was ultimately Sue's, since the group advises her). We needed to move quickly as the WMF Board of Trustees set a deadline of 30 June for recommendations to be complete. We solicited nominations here and on Wikimedia-L. I then posed a few questions of the nominees via email (those who were nominated during the open period). These questions were:
  1. Why do you want to serve on the FDC advisory group?
  2. What experiences of yours do you think will enhance the group's work?
  3. Do you accept (even if you disagree with the decisions taken) the WMF Board of Trustees' resolutions on fundraising, funds dissemination and affiliation or are you looking to debate them? (only because the advisory group is not intended as a forum for debating the resolutions)
  4. How would you describe your style of interaction on teams and in groups?
  5. Is there other information about your history with Wikimedia and your views that we should be aware of as we consider you for the Advisory Group?
  6. Do you have the time available to participate in and follow the discussions on wiki and attend the scheduled meetings?
From this, we filled each slot (people were only considered for the specific slots that fit their affiliations) with the aim of creating a well-rounded group that would bring both new perspectives and experience in the discussion to date; provide geographic/project/language diversity to the group. This was not an easy decision as there were multiple good candidates for several of the slots. Hope this provides more transparency on what we did. Of course, the FDC design process is open to any and all contributors, so those who aren't on the Advisory Group can still play an active role in helping to shape the recommendations. The work will happen here on Meta and we will share all materials that the FDC Advisory Group sees as well as minutes from their meetings in a timely fashion. --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 22:55, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
Also, note that the FDC Advisory Group is not the FDC itself. Furthermore, note that the method of selection of FDC members is yet to be determined, and the design of that process is one of the roles of this Advisory Group. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 23:20, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
For the reason Asaf mentions, it seems to me that any group of community members who are willing to take their task seriously and to be transparent about their discussions and deliberations, could serve as effective advisory group members. (As I am sure this group will.) We might consider randomized jury selection at some point to complement [self]nomination for roles such a this that are less time-consuming... SJ talk  05:29, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
See for instance the over-the-top randomized process used by the Internet Governance Caucus to form nominating committees. A much simpler version could work. SJ talk 

Thanks Barry for the explanation; it looks like a good group so far. What is the process for selecting the WMF Board & External seats on the Advisory Group, and when will they be announced? (sorry if this has already been documented) John Vandenberg (talk) 05:44, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

No, not documented. I'll defer to the Board on their selection. My understanding is that they are trying to figure out workload between board members, so that those selected can spend the needed time on this. They should have their reps named very soon. On the external advisers, we are talking to a few people with grantmaking experience and are open to suggestions of others. The timing on this is as soon as we can get good people who will add value to the process, are sufficiently creative and open to grasp the Wikimedia world, and have time to commit to it. Expect to get this done within a week, but might extend into May if we don't find the right people. Bridgespan has suggested a couple of people. There are a few people from my network and I've had a suggestion from a couple of community members. --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 15:58, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
In regards to the external expert seats, I would appreciate a public call which clearly defines which skills/experience/etc are still wanted/needed on the AG, so the community can forward the notice to external people who we know have the desired skills. It would be very unfortunate if these two external expert seats are filled with people from USA which have prior ties to the WMF – we can do better than that. John Vandenberg (talk) 00:38, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
  • This is probably the first time in all my years as a Wikimedian that I've observed the formation of a designated group reporting to the Executive Director and the Board where there hasn't been at least one woman Wikimedian included in the mix. This isn't to take away from any of the candidates who have been selected, all of whom appear to be well-suited to the task. It does seem to contradict the messaging about the desire to engage more women in the broader Wikimedia movement, however. I'd never have expected this group to be gender-balanced, but the complete absence of women Wikimedians was a shock, and it's not one that will be "fixed" by appointing female board members or outside advisors. Risker (talk) 12:54, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes it is disappointing, but we were dealing with a paucity of women nominees. We had one nominee come in before the deadline last Monday. One came in well after the deadline. We weren't willing to select purely on gender, so the lack of options made it a difficult situation in which to get fair representation. In general, the way to get more gender balance is to have a good balance in the nominees. This is where we failed this time, though we did attempt to encourage some people to nominate themselves (without prejudicing the process), but those people didn't end up stepping forward. While I agree it doesn't fully address the gap, the outside advisors we are talking to right now are women. Again, this is an open design process, so hope that more people than those in the advisory group will engage. --Barry Newstead (WMF) (talk) 15:52, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Not cutting it with me, Barry, sorry. "To achieve an effective composition, the Executive Director might select a member who was not nominated in advance" is written right into the call for nominations. Honestly, I think this is the first time I have ever played the "woman Wikipedian" card; but it is important that the women of this movement be at the table for financial decisions. Please don't try to tell me that the decisions made by this advisory committee are not intimately related to money. I do have higher expectations ofthe WMF to ensure that there is an active effort to bring aboard qualified individuals within what has publicly been identified as one of the major target groups for "higher" WMF engagement. This process specifically built in the option for the ED to actively recruit candidates; if you thought that would prejudice the process, you shouldn't have included it in the process. That you're considering women from outside of the movement to participate in this process actually makes it a little bit worse, not better, as it implies that there are no women Wikipedians who are qualified for this role, and you had to look elsewhere. Risker (talk) 16:09, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
I'll admit that the reason given does not warm my heart.
2 of 14 community candidates were female; 0 of 7 community appointments were female.
Both of the two female candidates are quite good, and equal to many of the males in the candidates list from what little information we have about these people. Also, one of the females is unaffiliated and the other is affiliated, so there were two opportunities for females to be selected. However as we dont have a transparent process here, with public Q&A, we cant evaluate whether these females were suitable for the seats that were filled with males.
Also the formation page says that 10-12 would be appointed, however the committee is already going to be 13, with 7 community seats instead of the 6 originally planned. If we want to address this gender-gap, I recommend that we expand the AG to 14 and put out another call for a female and indicate which types of skills/experience/etc are still wanted on the AG. John Vandenberg (talk) 00:38, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Hey folks. Barry's on a flight, I think, so I will jump in a little here.
I hear you Risker on the general principle, but I am honestly not persuaded that gender is a key factor here: I think that for this purpose, the most important characteristics were and are i) commitment to (and understanding of) the mission, ii) representation of people with an array of experiences with different roles inside the Wikimedia movement, iii) some amount of geographic/economic diversity, iv) subject-matter (grant-making/grant-receiving) expertise, and v) willingness and ability to make the necessary time commitment.
Ideally, as Barry, the Board and I kicked this around, we wanted to have the following types of characteristics on the group: people with a deep commitment to the Wikimedia movement; people with financial planning experience and/or audit committee experience; people with some experience with non-profit organizations, ideally involving grantmaking and/or grant applications; some managerial or governance experience; a track record of being constructive; general orientation of being supportive of the overall purpose and goals of the FDC ("critical friends" okay); willing and able to make a significant time commitment, including travel; ability to communicate in English; willing to set aside COIs for the purposes of their work with the FDC and work towards its goals without considering their own individual or organizational self-interest; someone from a large chapter; someone from a middle chapter; someone or several someones from Global South countries; someone or several someones with extensive experience and credibility inside a large project who is not involved with a chapter; two people from the Board of Trustees; someone or several someones with limited experience with the Wikimedia movement (for fresh perspective) who could bring extensive related experience from other grantmaking work.
Obviously we knew when we began that we wouldn't be successful in getting all those characteristics represented, but in the end, I think you can see why gender wasn't a significant factor in the decision-making. (Even if you disagree, and think it should have been.)
I did badly want *you* prodded to see if you'd volunteer to join, Risker. I know that sounds convenient/weak given that you are now raising the gender issue, but it's true: you can see how you fit some important criteria. Somehow we dropped the ball on that on our end, and nobody pinged you. If you do have any interest though, you should let us know.
And bear in mind regardless, this is not the group that is going to make funding decisions. This is the group that will have responsibility for watching the FDC do its work, and offering the FDC (and the Wikimedia Foundation Board) suggestions so it can improve over time. The FDC itself has yet to be created. Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 01:57, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for commenting, Sue. I realise this isn't the FDC itself, but the Advisory Group will play a significant role in developing the processes for the FDC. Regardless, I do intend to follow this issue very closely, so you'll see my name around in the coming months. :-) Risker (talk) 04:37, 27 April 2012 (UTC)