Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/April 2022 Board Election process in 2022

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

Special Rules for Special People[edit]

"For the first time, affiliate members involved in affiliate activities will be eligible to vote in the community election even if they do not meet the voter eligibility criteria."

Yeah, let's just create a whole class of supervoters. Great idea. /s Carrite (talk) 19:41, 19 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You're pretending like the only people involved in Wikimedia projects are the ones editing... Braveheart (talk) 10:31, 20 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
These are our new "leaders". They don't need to know how to edit to tell us how to do it. Vexations (talk) 11:22, 20 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Where is all this bitterness coming from? Braveheart (talk) 17:42, 20 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A board that doesn't consider the editing that comprises the Mission important, and that managed to adopt a movement strategy that doesn't mention "wiki" in a meaningful way. There's a big disconnect between the WMF and people who provide value by editing content, and actions like this only make it wider. TomDotGov (talk) 22:37, 20 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You've been doing volunteer work for years, you're good at it and and your work is wildly successful. Your requests for stuff you need to do your work are routinely ignored. Your tools are outdated and poorly maintained. Out of nowhere, people appear who tell you that you need a leader, and they're it. They have no history with the project, no demonstrated competence, and they are being paid for their work. They now get to decide things for you. Are you still enjoying your volunteer efforts? Vexations (talk) 11:20, 21 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This change in the eligibility criteria has been made in response to a recurring request from the community. During the 2022 elections - both for the board and for the MCDC - multiple people in the community pointed out that the elections were failing to represent the volunteers whose activity takes place mostly offline. We are talking about active volunteers, who sometimes have been contributing to our movement for years, but their contribution does not show up in an editcount. The contribution of the volunteers that organize Wiki Loves Monuments in their counties is no less valuable than the contribution of the volunteers that upload photos in the same contest. The same request came up again during the call for feedback in February.
Finding a fair way to take into account those contributions is challenging, as there is nothing similar to an edit count. However, we already have multiple criteria for eligibility, beyond edit count: for instance, everyone who contributed code to MediaWiki, or is maintaining technical tools, is eligible to vote, because that is also considered a meaningful contribution. I don't know how it will be spelled out exactly, but I'm confident that it is doable. The board didn't set a specific criterion or metric: it will be defined by the Election Committee.
This addition is not aimed at reducing the power of volunteers: on the contrary, it will increase the number of volunteers that are eligible to vote. This has nothing to do with being paid. Actually, paid staff, both in the WMF and in affiliates, were already eligible (they have been eligible for many years): what we are doing now is giving a vote also to the volunteers that are active mostly in affiliates. - Laurentius (talk) 14:43, 21 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If only other "requests from the community" were so easily granted. Vexations (talk) 20:41, 21 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree it's nice if people who help with affiliate activities can vote. That's not a problem to me. The far more significant change here, Laurentius, is that affiliate organisations will determine whom the unaffiliated volunteers – who represent the vast majority of editors – will be allowed to vote for. That is yet another step in volunteer disenfranchisement. If this change remains in place, going forward, it means that WMF governance will be completely controlled by people who have a financial stake in it. --Andreas JN466 13:20, 23 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
At least this time non-Western people might actually have a chance to get elected. If that requires disenfrachising angry old white men it's probably worth it. Braveheart (talk) 06:51, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If these two seats had been filled along with the four determined at the 2021 selection, they would now be occupied by a woman from Côte d'Ivoire and an English bloke living in Tenerife, a Spanish island off the African coast. Just saying. Andreas JN466 07:53, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Why do you call this "election"??? Habitator terrae (talk) 15:55, 22 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. This is a fundamental change to the WMF board election process that disenfranchises the volunteer community even further.
Moreover, this pre-selection of electable candidates is performed by functionaries who are financially dependent on the Wikimedia Foundation. ("Affiliates will vote to pre-select 6 candidates. A community vote will decide who from these 6 candidates will be recommended for the two seats.") This builds further conflicts of interest into the process – at a time when the Wikimedia Foundation already asks the public for more and more money each year.
The WMF simply no longer represents the volunteer community, and no longer even considers that to be its role – if it did, it would hold free elections.
Personally, I think that is a shame. I guess if volunteers would like to have an organisation representing their interests, they will have to form one themselves. Andreas JN466 13:03, 23 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
For at some affiliates, it is entirely unclear how they represent their members. Or how to become a member of an affiliate at all. who are these people that make these decisions, and who gave them that power? Vexations (talk) 14:29, 23 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As far as I know, affiliates are required to be open membership organizations - i.e., they have members and everybody can join. If an affiliate does not allow you to join, I think you can (and should) notify that to the Affiliations Committee. - Laurentius (talk) 10:15, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Habitator terrae: If you are referring to the fact that the so-called "elections" (including bot community elections and affiliate elections) are not technically elections, because the "winners" are not automatically on the board but must formally be appointed by the board - indeed, "election" is not technically a correct term. "Selection" would be more correct. The bylaws has a more complex wording, that never mentions elections.
Despite that, these processes are often informally referred to as elections. Personally (and I know that others disagree on this choice of words), I choose to use the word "election" because I believe that it should be an election (i.e., the person who gets elected should just get on the board). There are technical and legal reasons why this isn't the case, and I understand it, but using the word "election" in my opinion help us by committing to have at least an election-like process. - Laurentius (talk) 10:15, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Laurentius: Oh, thats only the least problem, the whole problem starts with "The affiliates constitute a newly created Analysis Committee (AC) to review candidate statements and to rate them."
If you want to select the best candidates not by vote, but by analysis, then don't pretend its an election. Habitator terrae (talk) 10:44, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
PS: It would be really helpfull if you clarify, that e.g. at least four seats will still be elected with a real election. Habitator terrae (talk) 07:15, 25 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Habitator terrae: The Analysis Committee will not select candidates. Its role is to make an analysis; the selection is made by voting (in two rounds). It is an additional piece of information available to the voters - in addition to the candidates' statements and self-assessments.
The voters can use the analysis to inform their choices, but, ultimately, how they use it, or whether they use it at all, is up to them. It should not tell how to vote, but even if it did, it would not bind in any way the voters. - Laurentius (talk) 16:42, 25 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But it does officially the work, which is the whole point in voting: rate the candidates. Habitator terrae (talk) 08:42, 26 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Laurentius: So what about the four former community seats? You have not answered Habitator terrae's question. Can you, on behalf of the WMF, make a binding commitment that – next time those four seats are up for re-election – the community will not be restricted to a shortlist of candidates pre-approved by the affiliates, but be able to vote for whomever they want? Andreas JN466 14:36, 26 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Habitator terrae: Note today's post by User:Pundit on the mailing list, where he declined the opportunity to confirm that there would be an open election in 2024 and says the method of selecting these four seats will have to be decided later: "we do not provide a response on a thing that has not been collectively discussed. That's a standard that should be kept, and the organization of elections is definitely something that needs discussing every time they happen (the procedure involves several months of work of the governance committee, before going to the board discussion). In no way the "reluctance" should be read as a commitment to organize the future elections in some specific way. ..." --Andreas JN466 16:39, 27 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Checks and Balances[edit]

Before this change, there were two main ways the editing community could influence a WMF it thought was going in the wrong direction. One is to elect members to the board that would then change the WMF's direction. The other way would be to for admins or editors to strike, as happened at en:WP:FRAMBAN. It's a bit disconcerting that the Board would decide to remove the less disruptive of those two options. Given that one of the movement strategy goals is to "Ensure Equity in Decision-Making", I'd hope that Board would develop more accessible for the editing community to check the Foundation's accumulation of power. TomDotGov (talk) 15:27, 23 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think you've got it the wrong way round. This isn't the community election being scrapped. It's the affiliate selection which is being changed so that it's now the affiliates providing a shortlist, then the community voting. It's a shift of power away from affiliates and towards the community. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 20:49, 23 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
These seats are not described as "affiliate seats" overleaf. They are described as follows: "For this reason, the Board has approved a new process to select two community-and-affiliate trustees this year." The new board composition no longer distinguishes between affiliate and community seats. See e.g. the table here: the four most recently filled seats are also described as "community-and-affiliate-selected" on that page. And what has been announced here is a new process for determining "community-and-affiliate trustees", "implemented on a trial basis for the 2022 election", as Dariusz put it on the mailing list. --Andreas JN466 22:16, 23 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The fact this this is so unclear, seems to be evidence in and of itself that this change wasn't communicated properly. Bawolff (talk) 08:58, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Indeed, they are not described as 'affiliate seats'. And they are no longer being elected by affiliates. Instead of 2 seats being elected by affiliates, there are instead 2 'community and affiliate' trustees being elected by this method, to join the 4 elected last year by the more conventional method. The actual change here is that no longer will affiliates elect 2 board members, instead they will be a vague kind of nominating college which selects candidates to go to the community vote. I really struggle to see how this in anyway is a disadvantage to the community as a whole. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:22, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@The Land: It is a disadvantage because a body of functionaries that is beholden to the Foundation decides who the community is allowed to vote for. You might want to refresh your memory of this Signpost article from late 2020, which began with the following words: The Wikimedia Foundation may be inching toward removing the board seat of its founder Jimmy Wales against his objections, amid a controversy over planned bylaws changes that according to Wales may greatly reduce community influence on the organization and risk "takeover by outside interests who do not understand our values." The issue Jimmy Wales fought over then was precisely the 'removal of the [then-]current requirement to hold a regular "community voting" process', and it is precisely this removal which has led to this present situation. I am no friend of Jimmy Wales, but he fought for the precise community right then that is now being watered down, and lost the fight; see 2021 Signpost report. All of this has been a long time coming. --Andreas JN466 22:17, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I feel this disenfranchises the community[edit]

Affiliates are great, and important parts of our movement. Ultimately though, they are a very specific demographic, that are very different then the editing community at large with different hopes, dreams, goals and needs. By having them pre-select candidates this effectively disenfranchises the community at large - it almost feels like a soft coup.

I understand that I am a bit late to the party here, there was apparently a community consultation that I was unaware of. However I would note it seems like very few people participated in that, and the questions discussed don't seem to have much to do with the final result. Given this is such a drastic change to the power structures of Wikimedia, I would strongly encourage the board to hold a broader community consultation. Alternatively perhaps try this for the next affiliate election as planned (The concern about disenfranchising the community doesn't really apply to what was previously the affiliate election, since the community was never affiliated) and have a question on the ballot on if the community wants to use this method going forward, to turn this proposal into a plebiscite. Bawolff (talk) 08:57, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

But this is, in essence, the next planned affiliate election. Or more precisely; after the last affiliate selection, the Board decided that the affiliate and community seats would be merged, in an unspecified way, with an unspecified method of election. Then 4 Board members were elected last year, to replace the 3 from the previous community selection. Now, the terms of the 2 affiliate-selected Board members will be up this year, and instead of an affiliate selection to replace them, there is this process. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:18, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
sure - and that would be fine if the seats weren't merged and this process was used only for affiliate seats, but that does not appear to be the case here and it sounds like the intent is that this will be the process going forward unless there is significant pushback. Bawolff (talk) 12:58, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One reason why you missed the "consultation" is that it was first announced one day before Christmas Eve – always a great day for important announcements – and a subsequent WMF post to the mailing list in January 2022 made no mention whatsoever of the fact that anything important about community voting rights might change. Instead it asked: "How should affiliates be involved in the selection of new seats? ... The Board of Trustees is seeking feedback about this question especially, although not solely, from the affiliate community. Everyone is invited to share proposals and join the conversation in the Call for Feedback channels. In addition to collecting online feedback, the Movement Strategy and Governance team will organize several video calls with affiliate members to collect feedback. These calls will be at different times and include Trustees." So yeah ... a coup is what it feels like to me as well. Also see comments in the preceding section about Jimmy Wales' 2020/2021 concerns about the consequences of the bylaw change. --Andreas JN466 22:25, 24 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The removal of community seats is another step on the WMF's gradual but consistent move away from supporting Wikipedia and representing wikipedians, and towards owning and controlling them. Beware that an increasing number of frogs are starting to notice the heat, and may soon jump out of the water. Certes (talk) 13:03, 26 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Intercultural Dialogue[edit]

From my point of view after a voting process with a preselection has been chosen for this board election I have thinked about how far there are structural problems that lead to underrepresention of specific areas in the world and people involved from there in decison making bodies of the Wikimedia Foundation, when it would be a open election. Do you think that there exists such a behaviour in the Wikimia Projects and how can this be solved without making a election with a preselection. I have the hope that people decide based on facts and not based on origion of a person. From my point of view this is a chance to think about how to enable more dialogues and direct conversations between people. Meeting at virtual meetings people from other countries involved in the Wikimedia Projects is something that I like and where I wish more possibilities for that in the future where it is possible to take to a single person or a small group and that uses a plattform like Workadventure. This hopefully helps to reduce the risk as far as it can be called so, that people select not based on facts and instead based on origin of a person through knowing people from other cultures better through helping knowing each other better.--Hogü-456 (talk) 20:48, 27 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi there, Hogü-456! Thanks for taking the time to comment here. It is nice to meet all together. I'll take this feedback and bring it up to the Movement Strategy and Governance facilitators as they consider events for the election. Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 16:17, 9 May 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Criteria for Affiliates Participation in the Analysis Committee (AC)[edit]


The fact that there's only one criterion to select those 2 trustees which is diversity, is vague and doesn't clarify the actual settings that should be kept in mind to chose them in the two stages whether in the pre-selection of 6 candidates or in the final selection of the 2 trustees. This means that the community and affiliates have nothing to base their choices upon which is misleading and chaotic. This is dut to the fact that new affiliates have limited knowledge regarding the processes and boards in the foundation and old, dormant affiliates may have outdated knowledge and experience and this might lead to misjudgement. It's important to include the current activities of the affiliates in the criteria and the diversity in the affiliate itself.

For example, Wikimedia Summit 2022, that will be held in Berlin, we had a clear criteria for the chosen affiliates that will participate in the summit. So, in my opinion, setting the criteria for who can participate in the creation of the Analysis Committee (AC) will help us make informed choice. NANöR (talk) 22:15, 28 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi there, NANöR! Thanks for taking interest in the Board of Trustees election. Let me first answer your concern about the criteria. The Analysis Committee will be provided with the skills the Board is looking to add to the Board of Trustees and the diversity, equity and inclusion criteria from the Board.
Affiliates and voters are expected to interpret the call for skills and diversity characteristics made by the Board and vote for candidates accordingly. It is understood that affiliates and voters may and should consider other factors. The rating information from the Analysis Committee will be available for voters to consult.
From my understanding, the Board and Elections Committee saw this process of self-organizing and coordination as similar to the process affiliates undertook for the Movement Charter Drafting Committee selection process in late 2021. If you have suggestions or recommendations on how to improve this process, please feel free to share what criteria you see would help this process.
Could you explain what you mean by "it is important to include the current activities of the affiliates in the criteria and diversity of the affiliate itself"? I'd like to address your concern, but first I'd like more clarity. Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 03:42, 7 May 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So you publicly tell the voters which person is best to vote for? And voters are expected to vote like the WMF wants them to vote?
So that I understand correctly, the Board wants to decide which are the best to vote into the Board? Habitator terrae (talk) 13:49, 12 May 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I keep remembering the comment Jimmy Wales made in November 2020. He said:
My most keen interest is for the future of the encyclopedia, with all the core values intact: that we are a community-first project, that we are a charity, that we are neutral, that we strive for quality, and that we work towards governance that means safety for all these values in the long run.
In the past few years, there have been several crises that have made it increasingly clear to me: the biggest problem on the board is not a lack of professional expertise, but rather a lack of community representation and control. I am a steadfast proponent of that - you can speak to James Heilman for more details (I've not consulted with him in advance but I'm sure he'll tell you about my concerns about the "professional" board members who don't seem to have our values at heart.)
I am deeply concerned about the tone of some of the latest proposals from some quarters: a reluctance to be firmly clear that community control - in the form of voting and not just some vague "community-sourced board members" language that might mean anything or nothing - is not negotiable.
I believe that we need to be moving in a mildly different direction with the board expansion. I don't want to make a specific proposal but I will say this: rather than an expansion that keeps community in a slight +1 position, I think we need an expansion that gives the community an absolutely dominant role.
I've not spoken yet about my personal role, because I want us to focus on the long run. But my preference is not to step aside until I am sure that the "professional" appointed seats are absolutely always in service to the community, by making sure that their numbers are - relative to the community numbers - reduced.
Removing my voting seat - yes, it's a good idea in the long run, as I am just one person and not that important in the grand scheme of things. But for now, I feel that my role is to represent the moral conscience of the movement and to prevent takeover by outside interests who do not understand our values. So for those who ask when, I would say: when we are safe. And I don't think that's true just yet.
His views obviously did not win the day, but the merits of what he was saying – and the reasons why he was saying it – are becoming clearer by the day. Andreas JN466 10:03, 15 May 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
i have just seen this, and I have been mulling this over. I don't consider myself a viable candidate for this elected role, at the present time, due to other various commitemnts. however, is there any possibililty or any latitude to set up some kind of advisory committee of editors, who might take on some role to communicate with the board? is that possible? since one key goal is to hear from editors, then wouldn't that idea have some merit? I'm truly open to all views, opinions and ideas on this. i would appreciate any reply. thanks! Sm8900 (talk) 18:08, 9 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]