Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board Governance Committee

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Latest comment: 2 years ago by NTymkiv (WMF) in topic Elections Committee Concerns....continued

Expanding ..[edit]

I reverted this edit because it was inaccurate. The Board of Trustees approved the Board Governance Committee in 2010 at the Gdansk meeting. There was no "interim committee" for the last two years. Mhalprin (talk) 15:07, 30 March 2012 (UTC)Reply

My edit did not say there was an interim committee for two years; it said there was an interim committee between April and June 2010, as that is what the minutes for April and June appear to say. John Vandenberg (talk) 15:10, 30 March 2012 (UTC)Reply

Thanks Matt for filling in the history. Cheers! John Vandenberg (talk) 13:18, 4 April 2012 (UTC)Reply

Board Obligations and Responsibilities and Pledge[edit]

Hi, is the BGC aware of WMF Statement of Obligations and Responsibilities? Has it been in defacto use, or should it be marked {{historical}}? John Vandenberg (talk) 08:03, 13 April 2012 (UTC)Reply

Currently under discussion at Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard#Obligations and Responsibilities Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:33, 9 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
For the record, we were informed at Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/Archives/2016#Obligations and Responsibilities that "the page is a draft, 7 years old, never implemented". Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 13:36, 24 August 2016 (UTC)Reply


Is it really the case that the committee has not met since August 2014? If they have, please may we know the dates, and the results of their deliberations? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:32, 9 February 2016 (UTC)Reply

Of course it is not the case. You can read this on this same page, I dont know where you get the August 2014 date. As it says, there were weekly meetings, and if you read this page in conjuction with Board minutes and resolutions, you can see what the BGC has been doing in the past. Cheers Raystorm (talk) 13:24, 9 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
Thank you for the correction, I read the list in the wrong order. The last meeting documented here was September 2014 and the last meeting date given is November 2014, not August as I mistakenly wrote. That does not change the force of my point in the slightest. I repeat my request, please may we know the dates of the subsequent meetings and the result of their deliberations. The suggestion that the information can be found by textual analysis on some other, unclearly specified, pages is not in keeping with the WMF_Resolutions/Wikimedia_Foundation_Guiding_Principles#Transparency. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:30, 9 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
As it says, there was a standing weekly meeting, first on Thursdays, then on Fridays. The agenda for the term is linked. You can check on the resolutions what the results were, because do not forget, at the end of the day it is the entire Board that makes a decision, not a committee. Cheers Raystorm (talk) 20:56, 9 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
We are clearly talking about different pages. On the version I am looking at there is no link for Wikimedia Foundation Board Governance Committee/Agenda 2015-2016? Whether or not there were weekly meetings in 2014-2015 tells us nothing about what is currently going on. Has the committee met at all in 2015-2016 -- we cannot tell. As you know, the Wikimedia Foundation Board Governance Committee Charter specifies a wide range of activities other than recommending decisions to the Board: indeed that charter mandates regular reports to the Board on the committee's activities. To suggest that the Board's resolutions constitute a sufficient summary of the committee's activities is not correct. Why is it so hard to accept that the committee's agenda and activities could and should be summarised in a timely and transparent fashion at this page? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:35, 9 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
Ah, I understand now. You are referring to the current BGC. Well, it depends on how they have determined to do the reporting, timeframe-wise. It can be from week to week to bimonthly to annually - it depends on the workload and availability. A soft ping to ask them when they'd be able to update the public pages will probably yield information on this regard. Cheers Raystorm (talk) 20:02, 10 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
I am referring to the BGC since the time in late 2014 when it ceased to publish information here about its activities and agenda. My own view is that viewing transparency and accountability as optional extras to be undertaken, if at all, on a time lag of months or even years is unsatisfactory. Do you not agree? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:54, 11 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
The agenda and meeting schedule of the previous bgc is on this page. I reiterate, the bgc does not make decisions, the board does, and when the board makes decisions, those are published. Raystorm (talk) 19:50, 12 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
I said "activities" not decisions. As you must be well aware, and as I pointed out, the BGC charter involves a variety of activities which do not constitute board recommendations -- do you deny this? -- and recommending that the community data-mine the main Board minutes for information about this committee's activities is not transparency, it is wilful obscurity. Better involvement of the community in the BGC activities in 2015 might have saved the Board considerable difficulty. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 23:13, 12 February 2016 (UTC)Reply
Do not misrepresent what I said. I refuted -easily- your claim that the BGC had not met since August 2014. You have dates of following meetings and the agenda available on the page about what the committee was working on at that time. Calling data-mining reading the Board minutes in which BGC recommendations may be approved is frankly underwhelming as an argument. The BGC and the Board had problems in late 2015, but my considered opinion is they were of a different nature and origin. Raystorm (talk) 10:42, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
I am not aware of having misrepresented you. If you believe that I have, please have the courtesy to explain where and how you believe this to have have happened. Returning six months later to issue a curt instruction does not help me or other readers of this page to understand what the issue is and gives me no opportunity to correct it, if indeed correction be needed. As far as "August 2014" is concerned, you will know perfectly well that this was a trivial error which you pointed out and I acknowledged and corrected within twelve hours of making it, and the correction, to November 2014 does not in any way detract from the validity or substance of my original point. Reopening this trivial issue now is simply an attempt to muddy the waters, for what reason I cannot imagine. I asked about "activities" and you have consistently responded about "decisions" as if the only activities of the BGC were recommendations to the Board. It is not the case that the only activities of the BGC are recommendations to the Board, as you must be well aware, from reading the BGC Charter: I have already stated this several times and you do not deny this. It was and is discourteous to me and to the community at large to suggest that looking through the Board minutes for reports of the BGC recommendations is an adequate account to the community of the BGC recommendations during the period after November 2014, and even if this were a transparent account of the BGC's recommendations, it is not in any way an account, transparent or otherwise, of the totality of the BGC's activities. I fail to understand why, having apparently decided not to address this issue at all for six months you revive this issue in this way by repeating your position of February, and bringing up trivial issues already settled long since If you decline to give a fuller account of the BGC's activities under your leadership, then by all means say so. Are you attempting to suggest that it is somehow wrong of me to have asked for an account of these activities? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:38, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
"Is simply an attempt to muddy the waters" - this is again a very poor way to engage people. No, your mistake was not a trivial error, and you misrepresented me when you said I was recommending the community to data-mine the Board minutes. It is a pity that you do not seek to engage with better faith Rogol, because you do make really good points in other topics - but it is hard to see good faith when you do not offer it for others. Raystorm (talk) 19:01, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
The interested onlooker, should there be one, can look at my posting of 1930 on 9 February and decide for themselves whether or not writing August for November was a trivial error quickly corrected, as I believe, or a major flaw in my argument as you seem to suggest. Your suggestion was to read this page in conjunction with Board minutes and resolutions, a dispersed set of pages across two wikis. I regard the word "data-mine" as an appropriate term for the exercise, in view of the effort involved to produce what would even then be only a partial answer to my question. You think it is not. We must agree to disagree on both these issues, it seems. Since you have chosen to raise this issue six months after it was, apparently, allowed to drop, for no reason other than to chastise me for the failings you perceive in my engagement, I suggest that we terminate this discussion once and for all. The object of the exercise was, is and should only be, how to improve the engagement between the Board, it's committees, and the wider community, I believe that it would be improved by greater efforts for transparency on the part of the Board and its committees: you do not accept my view that there was any deficiency in transparency on the part of the BGC from late 2014 into 2015; I hope and believe that your successors will take a different view to you of the ways which that transparency might be achieved. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:27, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
Well, with a brand new BGC, why is it odd to comment on this now? I must however ask you to refrain in the future from making comments about how I perceive your views - unfortunately, we are not understanding each other, and we would not like interested onlookers, should there be any, to get a wrong impression, would we? I'm happy to let this drop per your wishes. I hope we can meet in another thread with more constructive results. Raystorm (talk) 19:52, 29 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
I haven't seen minutes from the previous BGC meetings and thus I cannot confirm if they were taken and published anywhere (pundit, could you please correct me if I am wrong?), I can say that Dariusz Jemielniak has sent a summary of the work BGC done in the recent past. You can read his letter/report posted on wikimedia-l. To make my first post here more constructive: the BGC established during Wikimania 2016 has not met yet, we are (hopefully) going to meet for the first time as the BGC during this week. And I am planning to publish the minutes on Meta after the meeting --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 23:28, 3 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
We held regular meetings, and the updates were published periodically to the list. We have not published the minutes, which may be something to correct for the future - this was due mainly to the work- and solution-oriented nature of our meetings, and also a major overload (with several issues requiring immediate attention in the same time), which is hopefully amended now. Pundit (talk) 13:03, 4 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
Thank you for that -- unfortunately the reference to "the list" is rather imprecise. I presume that you are not referring to this page. Could you be more specific, please? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:27, 4 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
Rogol Domedonfors, I think that Pundit was speaking about wikimedia-l as "the list". He published there the updates from BGC --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 16:39, 5 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
Yes, apologies for the lack of precision. I meant wikimedia-l. Pundit (talk) 18:43, 5 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
Thank you for this at clarification. So as I understand it, in order to find the public record of the Committee's activity, all we, the members of the Community, have to do is go to that list, now that we have been told which one it is, and read through every month in the archives, since of course we have not been told which months the Committee has met in. As I said to your predecessor above, who had a different reason for not publishing these reports here, this is the sort of transparency which looks to me more like wilful obscurity. Not only is this unsatisfactory in itself, but failure of the Committee to adequately connect with the Community was surely a factor in the poor decision-making that caused such a loss of time, energy and credibility for all parties around the end of 2015. I accept that transferring the historic archive from wherever it may currently be to this page is going to be low on your list of priorities but I strongly urge that going forward the Committee resume the practice of publishing the announcements and records of its meetings (to the extent that they can be made public) on this page here on Meta which is the obvious single location to centralise them on, and where they have been published in the past. This is surely the best locus to engage with the Community in a constructive way on issues arising out of the Committee's activities, an engagement which as I never tire of reminding you, will be of mutual benefit if entered into in a spirit of mutual respect. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:06, 6 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
Rogol Domedonfors just to let you know that the minutes from our July meeting are published here: Wikimedia Foundation Board Governance Committee/Minutes 07-08-2016. And yes, "transferring the historic archive" from wikimedia-l to Meta subpages (or one subpage) does not seem like a very pressing task. It would be wonderful even to have a list of letters sent to wikimedia-l with the updates, and publish it on Meta --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 23:38, 18 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
Thanks for that move towards greater transparency. I think it better to concentrate on going forward rather than getting bogged down in recriminations over the history. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 04:16, 30 August 2016 (UTC)Reply

Membership 2016[edit]

I updated the membership in the light of Resolution wmf:Committee Membership 2016 of 30 March 2016. Is there anyone whose job it is to keep this page up to date? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:49, 24 April 2016 (UTC)Reply

Thank you! Well, I guess that for a while it will be my responsibility --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 23:11, 18 July 2016 (UTC)Reply

Liaison with the Election Committee[edit]

In spite of the disclaimer at Wikimedia Foundation Board Governance Committee/2017 Election Disclosure I do not see how a potential candidate for an election can have any form of special role with respect to the Wikimedia Foundation elections committee. I suggest that anyone aiming to fulfil the Liaison role effectively needs to be clear that they are not going to ask for Community selection in a process overseen by that committee. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:31, 22 July 2016 (UTC)Reply

@Rogol Domedonfors: My intention is to specifically work on topics not related to the upcoming elections (in particular, a more long-term reform of the system we have been discussing for quite a while, with no clear outcome). I find this topic important, and I'm afraid that without continuing the discussion started already with the previous committee the result may be lost. Naturally, unless I decide that I definitely do not run, I will not be participating in any discussions related to the elections, not even passively. Nataliia, the chair of the BGC, is in charge of the upcoming elections. This committee is a permanent one, and its work will extend beyond the horizon of just the nearest elections, and has a scope that goes wider than the upcoming elections. Please, keep in mind that the Board itself as a whole is using the committee for recommendations anyway. Does this address your concern? Pundit (talk) 20:44, 22 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
No. In my view for one candidate for selection to have a curent special relationship with the Committee and hence a potentially privileged insight into or even influence over the conduct of the selection process creates the appearance of an unlevel playing field and put the candidate and the committee in an awkward position. The more careful you are to avoid these issues the less effective you are as a liaison. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:54, 22 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
@Rogol Domedonfors: I understand your concern. Yet, on the other hand, following this logic, every single Bpard member, and especially a BGC member, is privileged. I expect to have zero influence over the conduct of the selection process. Also, I basically want some work that I started a while ago done, and this work pertains to this committee. However, since I value your critical insight and we've known each other (virtually) for quite a while. I suggest this: I will address this issue as the first order of business with the committee and request them to come up with a solution, not just for me, but for any similar case systematically. This will be useful for the future as well, instead of an individual decision (since I really don't feel attached to this formal role). Does this make sense? Pundit (talk) 22:09, 22 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
It is indeed the case that a current Board member has an insider view of the WMF processes in general. But not every Bord member is designated to engage specifically with the election committee, and not every Board member is or about to be an active candidate for a further term selected by a process overseen by the committee with which they are in a specially active engagement. I think it is for you to decide whether or not you are in a tenable position. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:26, 23 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
My experience is that people who are in a general perceived COI are the last to really recognize it, and thus I think it will be best for the election committee to make it the fist order of business to decide once and for all for such cases (which will be common anyway). Pundit (talk) 16:42, 23 July 2016 (UTC)Reply
Thank you anyway for agreeing to take another look at this issue. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:27, 23 July 2016 (UTC)Reply


I understand there are currently two vacant seats on the Board, one appointed and one community nominated. Has the Governance Committee decided how to fill those seats? Will they be seeking Community input as happened in 2015? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:40, 17 August 2016 (UTC)Reply

Yes, there are two vacant seats now. And at the end of 2016 two more appointed seats will be vacant. We have discussed it. As for community nominated seats, we have an option to have early community elections for all three seats, so they can join us in Berlin, during Wikimedia Conference. As for the appointed seats, this matrix was taken into account, but we also want to support Katherine, thus we want to make a choice taking into account her needs for expertise. As for the Community input in 2015: it does not seem that it led to anything --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 07:53, 18 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
I am glad to hear that you have discussed this issue, and suggest that you share as much of your thinking as you can with the Community in the interests both of greater transparency and greater effectiveness. Having had community input into the matrix, I propose that you publish the revised person specifications after taking the ED's needs into account and seek community input and suggestions for candidates. As for the 2015 input, the assessment that "it does not seem that it led to anything" is probably valid, but my perception is that is because it was not allowed to (and possibly was never intended to) lead to anything. I personally suggested some names both in public [1] and in a private email to the then VP/HR. As far as I can tell no interest whatsoever was shown in those suggestions: I was not asked for further information or given any feedback on why the suggestions might or might not have been appropriate. In other words, the reason that it led to nothing was that it was not taken seriously. I would say that you have various options. (1) Publish the person specification and solicit suggestions from the Community which you then assess seriously and give appropriate feedback on; (2) Publish the person specification and solicit direct applications by individuals which you then assess seriously and give appropriate feedback on; (3) Publish the person specification and solicit nominations which you then ignore and proceed to a secret selection on private criteria; (4) Publish nothing and carry out the whole process in secret. Naturally I would prefer (1) or (2) or both: there is clear evidence that (3) leads to disaster, and so probably would (4). Please, have an early, open and frank engagement with the Community, which can surely help you if only you will let it do so. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 17:02, 18 August 2016 (UTC)Reply

It seems that there is some misunderstanding about the purpose of the page you have linked to. I set it up in Feb 2015, and maybe It wasn't best worded. So, please take this as a try for belated clarification.
The page had been set up to initiate some general discussion about how to improve the board's composition, how to raise diversity and find talents, and how to raise flexibility. The board had discussed this in 2014 and early 2015 and came up with 3 rough ideas, which we wanted to discuss with the community. It was meant as discussion about generals, and looking at the talk page this is exactly what happened. During the discussion the board realized that our ideas didn't made it to consensus, and that there were a lot of other ideas and issues, which needs to be considered also. We didn't want to change bylaws and board composition just for the sake of a change, so we deferred the idea in May (the last section of the page). If my wording was understood to start discussions about individual potential board members, I apologize. However, when the BGC started to collect names for the search in September 2015, I pointed your list of names on the talk page out to the staff which supported us in the search. Alice Wiegand (talk) 13:16, 19 August 2016 (UTC)Reply

Thank you for that historical update. I hadn't realised that you had forwarded my suggestions as well, belated thanks for that – unfortunately that only underlines the point that my suggestions arived at, well whoever was conducting the search, by not two but three separate routes without my being asked for further information or receiving any subsequent feedback, which only tends to reinforce my belief that the input was not taken seriously. However while I'm happy to see the history corrected, the issue before us is, what is going to happen now? I think it is worth having a genuine engagement with the community: Alice apparently disagrees? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:57, 19 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
The BGC and their advisors have an impressive agenda, and I trust them to do their work - prudent and focussed. I don't understand what you imply with your last sentence, and I won't engage in discussions based on assumptions. Alice Wiegand (talk) 19:56, 23 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
Very well, I will be completely blunt. My experience of the engagement in 2015 led me to the conclusion that it was not a genuine engagement: that is, that it had been undertaken to produce the appearance of community engagement but not the substance. (I note that this is probably but not necessarily the opposite view to Alice's.) My understanding of Alice's posting is that she felt that the engagement was both genuine and a failure: and that on that basis she is not in favour of repeating it. My belief is that it was a failure because it was not genuine, and I am in favour of holding a further exercise of this nature on the basis of genuine engagement with the Community. My position is that it is better to have a genuine enagement than a bogus engagement or none at all. Alice is free to clarify her position on this issue if she wishes, and if she does not wish, then so be it. However, the issue for discussion on this page is and always has been: How best to manage the process for filling the current vacancies on the Board and what suggestions can we make to Nataliia and the Governance Committee. I hope that Alice will join me in making suggestions as constructive and positive as possible. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 13:33, 24 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • Perhaps it would be more productive to return to looking at the question going forward. How can the Community best play its part in helping to select the new members of the Board? In particular, will the BGC be interested in suggestions of specific individuals? How can the likely person specifications best be publicised, and how should suggestions be gathered? What sort of feedback can be given to the suggestions? Will there be a formal process of nomination (proposer, seconded, that sort of thing) or just an informal list of names? I would propose a wide range of input and selection from a wide range of candidates. It is my view that the movement can only survive and prosper by harnessing innovative, even disruptive, thinking. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 04:23, 30 August 2016 (UTC)Reply
A gentle reminder: are you yet in a position to say how you intend the Community at large to be involved in the nomination and selection of new Board members? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 17:01, 2 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

Diversity versus unanimity[edit]

I have been disappointed by the lack of willingness of Board members to discuss, or even express, their views on the long-term future of the movement and the Foundation: see, for example, last February's non-discussion at Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/Archives/2016#Deep strategy and the current statement at Talk:Strategy/2016-2017#Board contribution. I think that the Board is leaning too much in the direction of collective responsbility as expressed by section 7 of wmf:Code of conduct of the Board of Trustees, possibly as a result of some unhappy disagreements in 2015. I suggest that there is no contradiction between Board members expressing their personal views before a collective decision, provided of course that after a substantiative decision is taken they do not seek to undermine any decision which has been collectively agreed. Unanimity after a discussion is not weakened, indeed it is strengthened by a robust conversation around the diversity of opinions beforehand. I propose looking to encourage the Board and its members to be more forthcoming while discussions are still under way, such as is the case right now with the hugely important Strategy/2016-2017 discussion. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 12:14, 8 September 2016 (UTC)Reply

Ethical underpinnings[edit]

In the course of a (somewhat unproductive) discussion at the Wikimedia Research Newsletter, former trustee Denny Vrandečić suggested that computer scientists and engineers "rarely discuss in depth how their work impacts human lives". For what it's worth, I disagree with that sweeping assertion, but it seemed that it was worth asking what steps the WMF has taken to avoid this ethical pitfall. I asked Anna Stillwell, as Director of Culture, about the policy for staff, but in her response [2] she has stated that the Board is outside her remit. I wonder whether whether there are professional codes of conduct, and ethical training and support, that Board accepts as approriate for its own activities? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:59, 2 October 2016 (UTC)Reply

We do not have any trainings of this sort at the moment. We have a Board Handbook, as well as pledges, but the training the Board receives is more focused on legal aspects of governance, than the ethical ones. Most of the Board members have professional backgrounds, but I agree that we cannot by design rely on that only. If you have any good benchmarks from the NGO world that we could relate to, I assure you I'll bring them to the governance committee discussion. Pundit (talk) 11:24, 12 October 2016 (UTC)Reply
Unfortunately my experience as a trustee is entirely in the UK and so is probably not particularly relevant. However, I am sure that if the Board and its members see this as an iumportant development, you will have no difficulty in finding the corresponding resources in the US. No doubt there will be Board members and advisors with more relevant advice and experience to share. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:10, 14 October 2016 (UTC)Reply


Dear BGC, Have there been any minutes published since 2016? –SJ talk  21:54, 22 June 2020 (UTC)Reply

Pinging a couple of the advisory members, who might know: @Mindspillage and Alleycat80:. --Yair rand (talk) 21:14, 6 July 2020 (UTC)Reply
@Sj and Yair rand: Just noticed this message; I'm no longer on the advisory committee (I believe several of us departed at the end of 2019), but while I know there were minutes taken since that time I don't know if they were published. Kat Walsh (talk) 21:10, 5 September 2020 (UTC)Reply
@CRoslof (WMF) and Pundit: could someone update this page so it is current + add recent minutes? Thank you -- –SJ talk  20:06, 25 October 2020 (UTC) @CRoslof (WMF): checking in again :) 19:20, 17 November 2020 (UTC)Reply
Chuck is the good person to get around this, thanks for the reminder. Pundit (talk) 07:54, 26 October 2020 (UTC)Reply

Revisiting this! @Jackiekoerner: - as you are helping with this :) any update of membership + minutes would be welcome. –SJ talk  14:59, 24 January 2021 (UTC)Reply

Great minds think alike, SJ! I actually pinged the folks who know this information the other day. Hopefully they'll make the updates soon. Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 12:06, 25 January 2021 (UTC)Reply
@Sj:, please see my answer re minutes in the topic below. Best, Shani (WMF) (talk) 03:46, 29 January 2021 (UTC)Reply


Per Mindspillages comment above, @Raystorm and Pundit: could you update the committee membership list? –SJ talk  19:22, 17 November 2020 (UTC)Reply

I'm told Esh77 was added to the Committee. Can someone please confirm? Megs (talk) 03:42, 29 November 2020 (UTC)Reply
Sorry @Megs:, I missed this notification. I am now indeed officially part of the BGC. Per @Sj:'s question about minutes, I have checked and was told that it was decided years ago to stop posting minutes from the BGC (and most other internal committees), and only release minutes from full Board meetings. I apologize this has not been clarified before. Best, Shani (WMF) (talk) 14:16, 28 January 2021 (UTC)Reply
@Shani (WMF): ? How was the decision to stop posting minutes made? It was never mentioned in any Board resolution or minutes.
Also, nobody mentioned this when previous requests for info about this have been made. And apparently Pundit (BGC member since 2015) and Kat (BGC member 2012-2013, BGC advisory member 2016-2019 (?)), based on the presence of their comments above, did not know about this decision. And if it was a deliberate decision, it clearly wasn't coordinated: HR Committee stopped in 2014, and the Audit Committee, thankfully, never stopped publishing minutes.
(Checks HR Committee records.) @Sj: It looks like you were actually chair of the HR committee when it stopped posting the minutes. I take it that, for that committee at least, it wasn't a specific deliberate decision?
I am confused. --Yair rand (talk) 23:08, 28 January 2021 (UTC)Reply
Hi @Yair rand:, you are right that the Audit Committee is an exception. It has to be, as it serves a slightly different purpose, part of which is compliance, which we always want to keep transparent. It is my understanding that some of the challenges with sharing minutes from other Committees (not all, but certainly some, like BGC & HR), is that more times than not, the material discussed are delicate / private / could be revealed only in a specific point in time, when it makes sense and the Committee is ready for it. All I can say with a certainty is that in the (very) short time I have been part of the BGC, I have indeed seen that some processes may take a long time to develop and mature, and it would not have made sense to reveal details and materials before they are ready. For this reason, when a Committee has something to share, it simply does so with a specific dedicated messages to the community. But. It could be that I misunderstood. We really have to ask the people who were part of the Committee when that was decided, or raise it again in a coming meeting. I hope that answers. Shani (WMF) (talk) 03:40, 29 January 2021 (UTC)Reply

@Yair rand:, there was no decision to stop posting minutes at the time. As an example: the internal minutes for the HRC meeting on 2014-01-31 were roughly a page long; there is no reason that a high level agenda such as this couldn't be published, and I suggested such a summary when I posted the long-form minutes in February (internally, on the Board wiki). I recall no objections, but Meta didn't get updated with the result. Mea culpa in that case.

In general, longer form minutes such as this BGC meeting summary can always be published, it's just one more step (approve internal minutes, approve public minutes) that sometimes gets dropped. For a time (including in 2014) there was an effort to summarize committee meetings in a single short paragraph in the next full Board minutes. That can be a fine mechanism for publishing, if Board minutes are robust and not so condensed as to be meaningless. But there should be a public record of the essential governance work of each committee. That is especially true now, when committees are proliferating, and taking on essential, time-critical work that directly affects community practice + timelines + norms.

I used to worry about the inconsistent publication of minutes as a source of delayed transparency. But over time this can compound into something more serious: delay later justified as an implicit decision not to publish at all. That makes us more vulnerable to internal conflict, and less internally consistent. @Shani (WMF): if you see the benefit to publishing high level summaries of what topics are under consideration, I hope you will indeed raise that in a meeting and resolve where and how that happens. –SJ talk  20:51, 31 January 2021 (UTC)Reply

Still not updated...[edit]

More generally, a number of people with knowledge of the current committee structure and process have visited this page, and yet none has corrected the errors on the page. How can we fix this now, how should we ensure it is fixed generally? How do keep the Board and WMF's work well + promptly documented, + kept up to date, even given the decrease in editing volume across the board? An ombuds or observer exclusively to help with communication might be put to good use.

Doing this well avoids duplicated effort across the communities + movement, builds capacity to replicate and extend that work, and generally makes us a beacon for our network. Not doing it leads us to spending much of our energies looking inward, struggling with ourselves, and missing out on the broader societal conversation of how to realize our long-term goals with our civilization. –SJ talk  20:49, 31 January 2021 (UTC)Reply

Related challenge: How do we ensure that as the Board grows (size, breadth of committee work), this is matched with a proportional increase in sharing work in progress, building an ecosystem skilled in relevant work and focused together on shared goals? This is currently a tangible gap, and one worth bridging! It is particularly relevant to this BGC discussion: every part of the movement faces similar considerations at one time or another, and other movement-wide bodies are having similar discussions as I write this, without the benefit of insight into the reflections of the committee and its research so far. –SJ talk  20:51, 31 January 2021 (UTC)Reply
@Sj:, personally, I am always for transparency, and believe many issues could be solved with better communications and some Good Will. I advocate for transparency in every system I am part of, including the Board, but I am just one and cannot change everything by myself at any given moment. This is of course not to say that I am the only one in the board who believes that transparency is important. But. At this point it comes down to resources and priorities. Simply put, there is a lot on our plates right now. A lot. Some of it is known to the community, and some will be revealed in due time; but whether the community knows why or not, it is still a lot to deal with for a small group of people who are doing this as volunteers (part of the reasons for the Board expansion).
Now that I painted the current picture, I have 2 encouraging things to share in this context:
1) The board has made it a priority this year to (finally!) hire an admin to assist the Board. This is a long time coming, and something that the Board not only desperately needs, but that can really help alleviate some pressure points, including minutes and their publication in a timely manner. Besides getting the necessary help to keep track and post minutes (especially if it will be decided to follow the multi-minutes-system you've described above), the other aspect of it is getting this topic onto a Board meeting agenda, after being discussed in a relevant Committee that recommends this to be changed. Which brings me to:
2)You will have to trust me when I say that the coming Feb Board meeting is not the right time to push for it, as there are simply too many other high-priority issues for the Board to deal with. That said, the Feb meeting happens to be when the Community Affairs Committee (CAC; which I've been advocating for since July) is to be formally approved (fingers crossed!). Why is it important? Because I believe that between the BGC (which I am now part of) and the CAC (which I will be leading), I will be in a good position to make sure that this is discussed in one of these Committees (depending on how packed the agenda is for each). FWIW, I have been keeping a list of things (small and big) that either I or others believe need to be changed. This is on my list, and at the right moment in the coming few months I will do my best to make sure it is re-discussed and a recommendation is made for the full Board. I cannot promise anything, as it is up to the whole Board, but it is on my radar. I (and others) recognize that this is very important for the community at large, can help reduces some tensions and most importantly, part of how our Board should conduct itself (unless we deal with confidential topics, which we do at times). So I will try my best.
Final note -- I have taken the time to describe the process that is needed to make something like that change, not so much for you, SJ (or other previous BoT members), as you know how Board processes work and how time-consuming any decision can be; but for community members who are less familiar with Board works, and may wonder why such a "small" thing may take a while to be changed, especially as it is connected to one of our Core Values - transparency. As of now, it is important for me to be transparent that this is where we are -- we are all over-worked, we have a lot to deal with, and everyone is really doing their best. We are all giving out time, efforts and pouring our souls into this work. We are all committed to doing right by the community, by the organization, by the Movement at large, by millions of readers around the world. Yes, our work as volunteers has its limited. But saying that, I also know we are proactively working for this reality to change for the better. So. Please be patient and give me some time. I am on it and I will get back to you on this one. Just not right away. Sincerely, Shani (WMF) (talk) 22:12, 31 January 2021 (UTC)Reply
Thanks, Shani. CAC: Excellent! Fingers crossed as well; can't wait to hear more.
Admin: Great. Key to the most effective periods I recall on the board.
Timing: Fine. And - a) perhaps we could maintain a Meta page with ideas like the list you're maintaining yourself? Community members could contribute to that w/o taking up Board time. b) Could someone please update this page? :) At least to remove Kat and add you. –SJ talk  23:03, 31 January 2021 (UTC)Reply
Thanks, SJ. Your support means a lot.
CAC -- once the Committee Charter is approved by the Board, we will update the community and Meta. And yes, part of its work, as I've imagined it, will indeed include creating venues for more 'regular' communication with the Community (multiple venues, BTW, as the "Only Meta" / "Only Wiki" approach has proven to be less inclusive). So a Meta page for proposed changes will be one such venue. We'll need to think how exactly to do it in a constructive way, but it's exactly part of what's on my mind.
Admin -- just so. Wanted this one for a long time and looking forward to implementation. That said. It will take months till the position is advertised, someone is hired, they learn the work, etc. So again, managing expectations.
Updating the BGC page -- we are aware. We are awaiting another small change to be approved by the Board in the Feb meeting, as we ran out of time in the Dec meeting. Did I mention we have a lot going on..? :)
Finally, thank you all for your patience and trust. I do not take it lightly. Shani (WMF) (talk) 23:31, 31 January 2021 (UTC)Reply

Elections Committee Concerns[edit]

Hi @Shani (WMF): - wasn't quite sure who to add as the logical ping(s) here, please feel free to let me know who is a better go-to!

On the 4th July, the specific sub-set of Community questions was selected and various users and I @TomDotGov and ProcrastinatingReader: immediately raised queries and concerns. That was both about the specific questions selected but also the methodology for choosing such. While the full list of questions was given a secondary position, it has only been answered by a small fraction of the BOT candidates.

On the 5th July, a full ping to every ElectCOM member was made. No member of ElectCOM (or, I believe the 2 of its WMF attached staff pinged) itself would answer, although @JKoerner (WMF): would actively work to attempt to answer questions within her specific sub-field of facilitation (including posting a document on it), she would refer any of the actual questions about decisions to ElectCom.

On the 16th July I re-pinged and contacted every member of ElectCOM, to a distinct lack of response. I requested answers focus on the following, though they were by no means the only ones by this stage:

  1. Please provide the general criteria both used for drawing the questions and for determining what a reasonable number of questions was.
  2. Please provide the specific reasoning for every question on the list, as to why it was included, or excluded (uploading a detailed copy of the notes to Commons is fine here, for practicality).
  3. Could you cover why so few heavily endorsed questions made the list?

A message was also placed on the 17th July onto their own talk page to call further attention to the queries.

Due to the lack of ability to acquire answers, on the 3rd August, I raised a new query on Electcom's talk page about if they had any oversight set-up. Not having been provided with one, I assume there isn't.

On the 20th August, now 7 weeks after contact was requested, further queries were asked about the complete absence of response. While discussion with Jackie elucidated her distinctly difficult position in this circumstance, and has elevated my respect of her, that is a situation that a) should not have arisen and b) specifically notes that no solution not attempted appears present.

So, to now We are in the end-game of the election, and had these issues arisen just now, of course I'd add them to a discussion list for post-election consideration. But that is not when they arose. So it cannot be considered a viable option to just conclude the election. We must reset to the point in time the questions were raised and the answers must be provided, in full, before continuing. To do otherwise would indicate that "running out the clock" is a viable tactic in elections...not something I would hope the BGC would endorse.

As an additional question linked to above, could you let me know if I've missed any documentation on oversight, and, particularly, oversight by organisations other than the BCG itself (a busy and rarely gathering body)

My Thanks for your Time Nosebagbear (talk) 13:34, 21 August 2021 (UTC)Reply

It's not viable to do elections over again, and equally importantly the WMF would never do it. "Running down the clock" was clearly the intended strategy. On enwiki we'd call this a fait accompli. The Elections Committee needs to be dismantled or seriously reformed, this spectacle was a disaster. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 13:50, 21 August 2021 (UTC)Reply
However I do think this issue warrants review from the Board. It seems the page isn't updated with the latest members of the Board Committee, and Pundit and Raystorm are on community seats so their terms are expiring, so I suppose @Shani (WMF) is the only known Governance Committee member at this time? It might be better exploring this once the new Board is empanelled with a new Governance Committee. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 14:18, 21 August 2021 (UTC)Reply
Dear @Nosebagbear: & @ProcrastinatingReader:, thank you for your messages. This is to confirm I have seen them and that I have no immediate answers to your queries, as they involve the Election Committee & various staff members practically working on it. As you know, the Board is usually not involved in operational issues, so your questions will require checking with relevant parties and getting back to you.
In the meantime, I can share how I see what you raised in my personal capacity as a Board member, not in coordination yet with the BGC / rest of the Board (i.e. I speak for myself, not for the Board here)  -- 1) On the BGC page needing an update -- noted. We will be updating all committee pages and charters soon, so please bear with us for a little while longer. I do hope that after this coming update (October to the latest), updates will be more timely. 2) On selecting questions to candidates: The Board is aware of the issue raised. To my understanding (before speaking directly to staff about this), there was no easy answer here. The questions raised made it obvious this will have to be addressed in future rounds, but for this round it was impractical to translate 60+ questions, nor to ask people to review so much materials,  nor to delay it all and figure out the perfect process. To my understanding staff have already identified this issue as one to be included in their conclusions / lessons learned / points for improvement from this round, so their recommendations will be discussed after the elections both by the Board and with the community so we can improve the process for the future. 3) While I completely understand your frustration from not receiving a timely answer to your queries (a frustration I share when people don't answer me), it is very hard to fix in retrospect. Contacting the BGC / the CAC / me before we got to a point where people are voting might have helped in getting some timely answers; but in the current state of things, it does not necessarily mean you will have received the answers you wanted. For various reasons, the current election round is a complex one, and there is a learning curve to everyone involved in it (from staff, to volunteers, to the Board), as we implemented a few new things in this round (among them massive outreach, an evaluation form and a shift to a Single Transferable Votes, which in itself was technically more complex than anticipated). It will get better and smoother in future rounds, but this one is therefore not "perfect". We knew that like in everything you try for the first time, things we did not consider will arise, and we'll learn from them. In the current state of things, with COVID and the delay of the elections, it was more important for the Board to have this elections now, rather than to have a "perfect" process that would have had to be delayed till we answer all the questions. One thing I can say with certainty -- knowing the people involved and their seriousness and dedication to having a solid & successful process deployed, I am certain no one stalled as a tactic. I will check though, why no one answered.
Finally, it is unlikely that we will stop the elections and "reset" just to figure out the issue with the questions for candidates. At this point, my advice would be to come to terms with the imperfections of the current process and find a way to accept that this happens when you try new things. I can promise two things -- a) the issues raised (from the amount of questions, who chooses them, to who oversees the Election Committee and what is the best channel to ask questions about the process itself) and others, will be discussed and we will improve next time. b) I will do my best to check why you did not receive a timely answer. Give me some time, please, as this involves speaking to multiple folks, many of them will only come back to work on Monday. Best, Shani (WMF) (talk) 11:31, 22 August 2021 (UTC)Reply
Thanks very much, Shani (WMF), for your prompt and detailed response, and for being willing to look into it. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 11:38, 22 August 2021 (UTC)Reply
@Shani (WMF): firstly, thank you for your detailed and especially prompt response - I had actually hoped for something like this on Monday at the soonest, so to get it on a weekend is much appreciated.
The issue with that is that it highlights quite how poor ElectCom has been in comparison - this is not the case of a slow email response taking a couple of weeks. This is 8 weeks of continual requests, pleadings, implorings, of some response from a group with a specific remit to handle the field we were asking about. That not even a single person could take the five seconds to tell the Community they were aware of the issues surely indicates apathy, or, wilful refusal to answer - as someone who clearly has picked up the critical features of this issue in rapid time I have to ask you what other reason could apply?
If they had said at the time (though it should have come before, these missed contacts do happen) that they couldn't enable translation of 60 questions, that would explained a number, even if we disagreed with it. But the real concern was on the questions selected - they missed 4 of the most endorsed questions, which means there had to be a system utilised to pick others - so why haven't we been told that?

You note that this happens when you try new things - I would say that in both my professional career and my wiki-history, in any effort affecting this many people, I have never delayed through 8 weeks and 6 requests for answers. Ever. So no, it doesn't happen - mistakes happen, all the time, to all of us, but not like this. I do look forward to you locating an answer, but even if you can confirm it was not a tactic, I would ask you (and do take a couple of days!) one additional question on those you are following up:
Even if it was not deliberate, do you believe such long-term, recurring, failure to respond, through multiple contact routes, which has had the literal effect that I'm required to "come to terms with the imperfections", demonstrates an acceptable level of competence compatible with the ElectCom members retaining their positions? Nosebagbear (talk) 12:17, 22 August 2021 (UTC)Reply
Hi @Shani (WMF):,
Firstly, I'm just sending this on a Sunday because I had a free hour, not because I expect an answer while still on the weekend.
I was wondering whether you'd had any luck at getting answers to the outstanding questions, or at least if they had provided a confirmed timeline to respond to a Board member if they weren't able to immediately answer your questions?
Nosebagbear (talk) 15:47, 29 August 2021 (UTC)Reply
@Shani (WMF): Just wanted to gently follow up on this. ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 13:57, 8 September 2021 (UTC)Reply
Hello, (@Nosebagbear:,@ProcrastinatingReader:. Hope you are both well and thanks for your patience. As of now, I do not have any news for you. Not because I did not check or did not get answers, but because I'd like to progress from what happened (which I've already noted on), to what can we learn from it, and how we can do this better. So this is merely to say I did not forget about your feedback and requests.The election results were just announced yesterday and we (Board & Staff) are still processing everything. Our staff will be working on a report with lessons learned and recommendations for future rounds based on this experience. That should include recommendation about process (including the issues that you both raised, and more), as well as about the technological platform / election system, and about ways to better achieve our goals. Once the Board sees these recommendations and deliberates, we will be wiser. I know staff are considering feedback from community, including the feedback provided here, and will be taking it into consideration in their report and recommendation. So the best practical thing to do (to anyone with feedback, not just the two of you) would be to ping relevant staff (Jackie / Quim) and share your thoughts. There is also going to be an Open Meeting with the Board's Community Affairs Committee during October, so that might be another place to engage directly, if you feel you did not get sufficient answers by then. Just write to askcac(_AT_) and the relevant Trustee and/or staff will address it (more details about the meeting coming soon). If there is anything that I've missed / failed to answer, please don't hesitate to ping (sorry, it is both Rosh Hashana holiday in Israel, and also happen to be my birthday, so am a bit distracted today.. :)). Shana Tova to all of us, Shani Evenstein. 19:19, 8 September 2021 (UTC)Reply
Hi @Shani (WMF):, I hope you enjoyed both birthday and holiday, despite needing to do some Board work. You note that you'd like to progress from what happened to what we can learn, but as it is, we (that is, Proc, myself, and every other editor who queried the question issue) can't do that until we do know what happened. As I note above, if I'd just come across the problem in the midst of the election then it would absolutely be a pure "lessons to learn" issue. But that wasn't the case. @Mike Peel: and I have both raised concerns on the washup page, without any indication of a post-election answer coming from that source. Given that we've already waited 9 weeks since raising the issue, only to ultimate be told that we'd just have to lump it for a major issue with the most critical election Wikimedia has, I'd hope you can see that needing to wait between 4-8 weeks longer would be not be viable.
If you do have answers could you clarify why they can't be provided here, or (better yet) on the Washup page? While the original problem might be "something to do better" the non-communication escalated past that as an issue, to the point that it needs either a great explanation provided publicly (washup page would be good) or structural action to be taken. Nosebagbear (talk) 00:19, 9 September 2021 (UTC)Reply

@Shani (WMF): Hi -- Do you know where additional information about the Open Meeting with the Board's Community Affairs Committee can be found? (unless I've missed it?) ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 18:26, 15 October 2021 (UTC)Reply

@ProcrastinatingReader:Hi, no you haven't missed it. It's on October 20th. Here is the link to the Meta page. When in doubt, you can always check the CAC page on Meta, which has a link to all the open conversations we have. To register, please write to askcac(_AT_) Best, Shani (WMF) (talk) 18:46, 15 October 2021 (UTC)Reply
Ah, great. Thanks very much! ProcrastinatingReader (talk) 18:48, 15 October 2021 (UTC)Reply

Elections Committee Concerns....continued[edit]

Hello @Pundit @Shani (WMF) @NTymkiv (WMF):

I'm writing in a, seemingly doomed, attempt to see if we can actually get meaningful change with the Elections Committee.

To summarise numerous discussions here, on their talk page, CAC hours, and other office hours, the core problems seem to be thus:

  1. The Elections Committee is unacceptably non-responsive. Queries go completely unanswered, and those that are have frequently taken well over a month
  2. The Elections Committee is made up of editors, but the Community has no oversight of them. We don't select them, we cannot remove them
  3. The Election Committee is insufficiently transparent. Beyond that of poor communication, the EC does not have a tradition of explaining their choices (or lack of choices, where applicable).

Other issues are generally a symptom of one of these three, and so if they are resolved, hopefully issues will stop occurring (or at least be better resolved if/when they do occur)

Issues 1 & 3 alone will require significant, ongoing activity by the BGC to resolve - it's not a one contact and done resolution. Issue 2 will require some discussion between the BGC and movement, but needs to commence sooner rather than later, if to be done within 6 months. I look forward to seeing your response(s) Nosebagbear (talk) 09:12, 18 May 2022 (UTC)Reply

Hello Nosebagbear. I am going to answer in my role as a board liaison to the Elections Committee: I agree with the issues you are raising in principle. And indeed 1 & 3 need constant work, but also some mandate, and we hope to address it after the conversations we (as the Board Selection Task Force, staff, and the Elections committee) had during the past weeks. Issue 2 would require a bit more work, and we cannot concentrate resources on that now (and I am not talking only about staff time, but also volunteer fatigue from all things the Wikimedia Foundation and Movement level discussions are demanding), so this Elections cycle will be conducted by the Elections Committee as we know it now, and we shall work on how to reform the committee's membership for the next cycle: to that extent we are slightly amending the Charter for now, extending their terms for 1 year, with the understanding that both the Elections Committee and the Governance Committee would need to work on how to change issue 2, which eventually would also influence issues 1 & 3 in your message. I am sure you are not going to be happy with my answer entirely, but that is the most that is practical at this point from our perspective --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 09:43, 18 May 2022 (UTC)Reply
@NTymkiv (WMF) firstly, thank you for your commendably quick response. I understand that the currently running nominations cycle means that we shouldn't "change horses" until that's concluded in a few months (and obviously it would need the discussion time after it's concluded), so my reaction to that is hopefully not as unhappy as you might fear. I am also pleased that a proper consideration of structure per point 2 is intended, I would hope that consideration outside the BGC and ElectCom would be sought (at the appropriate juncture). Regarding points 1 and 3, what discussion was had (or, more relevantly - what changes are we hoping to see in this cycle)? Nosebagbear (talk) 10:39, 18 May 2022 (UTC)Reply
I agree with the assessment that the current system does not work well. It is difficult to expect immediate responsiveness from volunteers, but overall we all need to be more agile in communication, as well as decision-making, it is a recurring issue. Unfortunately, I agree with Nat that this is something to address in the next round - any changes now would be perceived as meddling, IMHO. Pundit (talk) 11:47, 18 May 2022 (UTC)Reply
Nosebagbear Mostly the issue was seen as the committee not being sure if this or that was clearly their responsibility or the staff's. And the staff being unsure if they are not overreaching. This should become better with a clearer mandate, and better coordination of the volunteers and staff, and with their practice at working together for the second year (well, and being aware of how it did not work well last time) --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 20:32, 19 May 2022 (UTC)Reply