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The proposal at Wikicouncil, though finally saved to Meta by me, isn't really my proposal at all, but the result of a lot of discussion between Jimmy, Anthere, myself, and various people who have suggested similar ideas over the last 4 or 5 months. The current board is certainly interested in exploring the Wikicouncil idea, but we don't want the proposal to come across as something which is set in stone. I expect there are a still a number of improvements that can be made to it, and a number of issues that need to be addressed, so please do edit it. We probably don't have answers to all the questions related to the proposal, but the point of putting it here now was to allow for it to develop, and for these questions to arise, and to see whether there would be any support for trialing the idea. Angela —Preceding undated comment added 03:26, 21 August 2005 (UTC).

Nevertheless, the tone of the page suggests something that will definitely happen, that will happen soon and on a specific timescale, and that will happen not as a test but as a permanent fixture. +sj | Translate the Quarto |+
After the meeting today, it seems more likely it won't happen at all rather than happen as a permanent fixture. I've changed the intro to explain where the proposal came from. I think more general discussion on whether we should have this at all might be more useful than questions about specific details of it. Angela 03:55, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

Council representation

This is more a "point of order" here: It is said that "Tier IV will have 3 reps (because all the Tier IV combined are as large as a Tier I)". I would like to point out that all of Tier III projects are the size of one tier I project as well. That is hardly a criteria to lump everything else as just another group of useless projects with no user base.

The apparent "over representation" of Wikipedia may also be a concern, but that is not a major concern for me at the moment. The point I would like to make is that I would like to see the other "sister projects" get some reasonable and fair representation as well. If that means a "bicambral" type situation where each sister project gets just one representative in a "senate", "house of lords", or "upper chamber" role, perhaps that my have some uses as well.

On this issue, I think European experience in regards to representation in the EU would be useful, considering that Luxembourg has somewhat equal status to France and Germany in the EU, despite the huge differences in population. American experience is not quite so bad as the difference between Wyoming and California is not nearly so big. --Roberth 21:39, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

There has been very extensive debate on the draft 'constitution' for the EU, about how to distribute representation (~voting power) over member states. One proposal that originated in the academic world argued that voting power is most equally divided between members states when each state receives a number of votes relative to the square root of its population, how counterintuitive this may seem. Here is a short publication Voting in the EU council - a scientific approach that describes this so called 'Penrose's square root law'. I'm not sure if this was the original source of the idea. But the article has a high 'citation index' according to Google. Erik Zachte 11:32, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

Whilst I like the idea I think that en:WP is, on the figures given, under-represented by too large a factor. I have a proposal though. Most of the other languages are basically only languages generally official in only one to three countries, English (however she is spoke) is far wider, and includes a large number of major countries as well as being the closest we have to a worldwide lingua franca. I would suggest that the representation is tripled from that given, with three reps from the USA, three from the UK (being the two countries with the largest number of editors on en) and the remaining three from the rest of the world. This would also benefit the sometimes-perceived US-bias whilst retaining a broad timezone and experience for the Council. --VampWillow 22:30, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Role of the council

What is the primary role of the council? Will it just discuss issues and collect input from the community, for the board? Or will it share some of the de facto power that the current board has? I'll elaborate on this. In the current situation much of the de facto power rests with the board, and in my perception (no hard facts, just my gut feeling) this fraction grows steadily. This is partly because more and more people seem to look to the board for a decision, and expect the board to lead, to hire and dismiss officers, to define overall strategy.

The board does a commendable job to keep the community informed and vice versa tries to collect input from all projects, regions and languages. Clearly this is a daunting task, one of the reasons this council is proposed. But just as with information gathering and opinion building, decision making does not scale easily either. Most societies have a small inner circle that takes care of day to day government. Societies differ vastly in how these inner circles are formed and replaced, and how much these inner circles can be held responsible for their decisions later on. Wikimedia is a combination of all styles of government like Jimbo likes to say. In the past we had a benevolent dictator, Jimbo, who could intervene at all times, but hardly ever did (he still is and and seems even less inclined to act as such). Most issues were discussed sometimes ad infinitum, as often as possible till a broad consensus was achieved, but sometimes till a stalemate was broken by bold action. In the first days of the board I feel the board was very sensitive in not taking action that was not discussed broadly in the community. It might just be that this is slightly less so today. Sometimes discussions on an open board meeting take ten sentences before a decision is made. I read a quote from one board member that sometimes the topic has been closed and decide before he/she could type an answer. This may lead to suboptimal decisions. It is of course only human. So many more issues have to be dealt with every day. Sometimes fast action is needed. Sometimes secrecy is needed. So there are indeed cases where some autonomy for the board is beneficial. Still most of these cases could be based on guidelines that have been discussed in the whole community and then perhaps voted on in a larger group like this council. It could help when some issues are first crystallized into clear cut problem definitions and possible courses of action, are evaluated by others, and only in a later stage are decided upon. Here the council might help again.

I hope noone sees these lines as a personal attack on any of the chosen board members (the others have been almost invisible, which is all I can say about them). I truely believe Angela, Anthere and Jimbo do a great job. I'm only voicing a mild concern about group dynamics where Wikipedia seems like the rest of the world. Maybe I'm hypersensitive to all this, and one of the few who sees some room for improvement. In fact if this is criticism at all, it is directed to those wikimedians that wait for the board to give direction. And I applaud the initiative of the board to look for new schemes like this council. Erik Zachte 01:43, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

I understand your perception. And I agree it is not suboptimal. It is also true nevertheless that some people feel like asking us to make a decision, which truely should not be decided by the board at all. We should probably be much firmer and clear that this should be a community decision rather than a board one. The same could now be happening with the chapters (is already happening for some issues). This said, you will read the log of yesterday meeting, and I do not think the wikicouncil would get much support right now. Ant
Ironically the discussion about the council, yesterday on the open board meeting, is a good example of why I think some issues should not be decided on a board meeting. Seven or eight people took part in the discussion, some had no prior knowledge of the proposal, and got a one sentence introduction, the discussion had a lack of depth that seems to be the norm on IRC. Since noone advertised this article on mailing lists I bet hardly anyone who might be interested in the subject knows at all that this proposal exists, much too early to 'decide' anything on a board meeting. Erik Zachte 20:09, August 28, 2005 (UTC)

Size of Wikicouncil

With the current scheme the Wikicouncil will grow rapidly in number of members from year to year. Depending on the role of the wikicouncil this may be good or bad. For discussions a council larger than the current EU parliament (=732 now), to name an extreme case, will prove impracticable. This example may seem exaggerated, but with new projects being started each year and languages growing fast per project this might happen. Communication would then be no more focussed than it is now. I recently read a book about how the EU functions. Most decisions are made in committees of experts and reps per country and the final discussion about some issue in the parliament has mostly a ritual character where one is supposed to read a prepared speech and not to debate much. So for discussions too many members might lead to stagnation. For voting a larger council means better representation of the whole community. Automated counting of votes would be useful. We might develop a voting form where members can cast a vote on an issue for 24 hrs, to cover all time zones, and where results are automatically produced. Chats are a bit impractible with so many people from all over the world. One might argue why no let the whole community vote? The council would safeguard against highjacking the results by very vocal minority. Erik Zachte 00:39, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

I'm not so sure that the infinite growth is going to hold out for Wikimedia projects, but I'm not sure at all of the upper limit that we can expect for growth. A similar project to Wikipedia that has been around for many more years is the Open Directory Project, which has gone through boom and bust periods, including a huge group of dissatisfied users and others who try to just plug along with keeping it going. Its editor base is about 4,000 to 5,000 editors at the moment, and seems fairly stable, with just about as many leaving as are coming in. Because of the structure of Wikipedia and most other Wiki projects, I think this number is going to be significantly higher for Wikipedia, but I don't think you can expect it to go much beyond 100,000 editors that do "regular" contributions. Over one million regular editors would be a wild upper end, from my viewpoint. I guess that is the figure that we need to concern ourselves over, and find a way to get "representation" from those editors if we ever get to that point. Internet usage has pretty much been saturated for the USA and some portions of Europe and Asia as well. In other words, there are no new groups from these areas that are going to come "on-line" in large groups, unlike when AOL flooded the internet a few years ago when they gave internet connectivity to their users.

That representatives are going to be needed is already apparent, and essentially the Wikimedia projects have become successful enough that communication between everybody is beginning to become very difficult, at least to form community concensus.

In terms of what to do with a council that gets very large, I offer to suggest the committe/sub-committe organization that the U.S. House of Representatives currently has. While they do use some experts to do the heavy research, most representatives also sit on specific committees that vary depending on seniority and personal experience. Educators and "scientists" who also happen to be elected representatives sit on the science committe that oversees NASA, for instance. Agribusiness leaders with the agriculture committe, or if their district if largely rural in nature. Some committees are hightly sought after due to prestige and raw political power that comes from being there.

They don't read prepared speeches so much (unless written by their personal staff) but rather do the voting and discussion in committee and then the results and recommendations of the committee are then passed on to the whole of congress. At that point most bill that make it out of committee are largely rubber-stamped with little or no contention unless it happens to be a hot political topic or a political party want to do some political manuvering. For instance, commissioning of rural postmasters and 2nd Lieutenents in the military is hardly ever contended, even though both have to be done by a vote in congress, from a legal viewpoint. In terms of numbers, the U.S. House of Representatives currently has 435 members, and there is some discussion that the number may be increased, from pressure due to the electorial college fiascos in America and some states losing representation due to population shifts. The number of representatives in the past was usually expanded only when new states were created. --Roberth 02:34, 10 September 2005 (UTC)

Indexation of thresholds?

Maybe it is better to index the thresholds for the different tiers. This means that not every project will reach tier I in the long run. This does not imply that the current projects will be dominant forever. If activity diminishes (like is now rumoured for the Japanese Wikipedia) balance will shift. Erik Zachte 00:57, August 21, 2005 (UTC)


How do we deal with language barriers? Does the council ask help from translators or will English be the language of choice? Erik Zachte 00:39, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

Fix a date for establishing rep counts

We need a date for the determining the number of representatives. Say one month ahead of the elections the numbers will be determined. That means a dump job should be run shortly after Sep 1, so that stats for Sep 1 can be available at e.g. Sep 7 or earlier. Erik Zachte 00:39, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

Good point. I've added this in the Elections to the Wikicouncil section. Angela 03:26, 21 August 2005 (UTC)


Can anyone be candidate for any community or do they need to have a minimum number of edits on that project and in that language? Likewise can everyone vote or should a voter have a minimum number of edits on that project and in that language? On one hand why not let communities decide this for themselves, on the other hand software may be needed to make any checks practicable, also lots of discussion could be avoided by setting rules. Erik Zachte 02:17, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

It may be best to let each community decide, though it depends how the election is going to be run. If we're using software like Special:Boardvote, it would be easiest if the same rules applied everywhere. Perhaps each project could decide who is allowed to stand, but the rules for who is allowed to vote could be handled centrally. Angela 03:26, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

What if a candidate campaigns on several projects, to better his/hers chances, say wikipedia and wiktionary for language x, and is chosen on both tickets, how do we decide which runner up on which project gets the second position? Erik Zachte 02:21, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

Would it seem unfair to state candidates have to choose which post to stand for and that they can't stand for more than one? Angela 03:26, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

Sounds nice. More simply, candidate can run for either one language project or one project as a whole - e.g. you can stand for both English Wikipedia and Commons. it will reduce complexity. --Aphaia++ 03:39, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

Purpose of the council

  • Does the council exists to inform, or to pass judgment? If the latter, judgment on what? If the former, why limit the inputs from 'small' projects? That's a rather low bar placed on smallness, encompassing a dozen projects with ~10k articles. Compounding the matter, the real communication difficulties come in when one investigates the long language tail, where we have no active multilingual contributors on meta to share details from/about those communities.
    More concretely: is the idea to have a group of people holding closed meetings and voting as representatives on "what the communities want"? Is it to have a group responsible for making public executive summaries of existing opinion -- summarizing and linking to existing commentary and discussion? Or is it something else altogether?
  • What kinds of meetings would the council have? What would the regular duties of members be, aside from 'remaining informed of Board decisions' and 'making sure community needs are communicated to the Board'?

+sj | Translate the Quarto |+ 15:46, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

  • I would like to say "meeting of all members" would be very difficult under the current amero-eurocentric atmosphere around the WMF (and it is partly understandable because all Board members live either in Europe or in USA). Besides the language barrier, there is a timezone trouble. During preperation of Wikimania I must have skipped most of meetings because of timezone differences - it isn't realistic to make it mundatory for people to attend a periodical meeting held from 4 or 5 a.m in their timezone. (In case of coming open meeting it will start at 5 a.m. in JST and 4 a.m. in Beijing time - so theoritically it is open but practical only targeting Euro- and American Wikimedians). --Aphaia++ 21:04, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

Does the draft/proposal change the bylaws?

Will the institution of a Wikicouncil be effectuated by a change to the bylaws? If so, where can I read the proposed changes to the bylaws in this respect? If not, what will be the formal position of the Wikicouncil within the Wikimedia Foundation Inc. as regulated by Articles of Incorporation and bylaws? Dedalus 20:29, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

This simple has been pending for over 9 days. I conclude this draft proposal has been entirely abandoned and aborted prior to 21 August 2005. Still wondering why the draft proposal was discussed on 27 August 2005. Dedalus 14:50, 30 August 2005 (UTC)
I believe it went unanswered because no-one is sure, yet.
James F. (talk) 01:03, 31 August 2005 (UTC)
We need to decide if this proposal is even worth pursuing before we start changing the bylaws. Please don't see this as something that will definitely happen. It was just a proposal, which has gained little support so far. Angela 08:45, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Provisioinal tier assignments

The following tier assignments are based on the most recent available wikistats data: Wikipedia from April, Wiktionary from May, Wikiquote from July, Wikibooks from May, Wikinews from June. Note that the combined subdomain figures are too high, because duplicates were not filtered out. Also, bots have not been filtered out of any of these numbers. Hence, some tier assignments may be downgraded when more data becomes available. Wikibooks and Wikinews did not meet the tier III criteria, Wikibooks had exactly 25 very active users (with possible duplicates), and Wikinews had 22. Based on this data, there will be 38 representatives. -- Tim Starling 02:46, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

Domain Active V. Active Tier Reps
Tier IV Wikipedia 1207 315 I 3 8801 1364 I 3 3424 494 I 3 1128 223 I 3 778 151 I 3 491 119 I 3 460 97 II 2 444 80 II 2 352 76 II 2 343 77 II 2 274 55 II 2 252 64 II 2 206 44 III 1 205 38 III 1 194 55 III 1 143 29 III 1 109 26 III 1
Tier IV Wiktionary 200 64 III 1 109 32 III 1
Tier IV Wikiquote 219 42 III 1

Using Penrose's square root law

The link to Voting in the EU council - a scientific approach above I've found to be quite enlightening. Using this approach, I've modified the list based on a normalizing with the Dutch Wikipedia, the smallest of the "Tier I" projects, staying at three representatives. So the square root of the number of very active users in each project is taken and multiplied by 0.275, with allowance for rounding. This results in 22 additional representaives, making 60 in all. Though there is a growth of 7 for the English Wikipedia, there is also a growth of 8 for small "Tier III" projects and smaller, including a representation for Wikibooks and Wikinews.

Theoretically, as stated in the article, it would be most fair if it took 62% to pass anything, which can be rounded off to 37 votes here, which would require wide support among many projects. As an additional safeguard for the rights of smaller projects, we could also require that for a motion to pass it must be approved by a majority of the 22 participating projects, with a motion counted as approved by an individual project if at least half of its own representatives support it.--Pharos 19:37, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Domain Active V. Active Tier Reps Change
Tier IV Wikipedia 1207 315 I 5 +2 8801 1364 I 10 +7 3424 494 I 6 +3 1128 223 I 4 +1 778 151 I 3 0 491 119 I 3 0 460 97 II 3 +1 444 80 II 2 0 352 76 II 2 0 343 77 II 2 0 274 55 II 2 0 252 64 II 2 0 206 44 III 2 +1 205 38 III 2 +1 194 55 III 2 +1 143 29 III 1 0 109 26 III 1 0
Tier IV Wiktionary 200 64 III 2 +1 109 32 III 2 +1
Tier IV Wikiquote 219 42 III 2 +1
Tier IV Wikibooks ? 25 - 1 +1
Tier IV Wikinews ? 22 - 1 +1

Current Status?

I found someone categorized this page to "Foundaiton". It gave me a feeling of oddity. It had me find another question.

Though it is somehow related to the Foundation issues, but it is not a genuine Foundation issue, but a matter of relation between each community and Foundation. I am not sure if it is appropriate to simply categorize this page under "foundation" category. Any thought?

And, in addition, what is the current status of this idea - I feel it already historical, buried after some discussion, but want to know how other editors consider it now. --Aphaia 09:11, 3 April 2006 (UTC)