Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/James Heilman removal FAQ

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Is it possible to put translation template on this page?[edit]

Lesson learned for the whole Wikimedia movement should be as accessible as possible. --Liang(WMTW) (talk) 01:16, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Just do it ;-) John Vandenberg (talk) 01:18, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
I believe these days, that requires advanced permissions (beyond mere admin) and advanced knowledge. Pinging Siebrand, Varnent, Ochilov -- can any of you mark up this important document for translation? -Pete F (talk) 01:29, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Done Jalexander--WMF 01:45, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

"Did James have access to documents for Board decisionmaking?"[edit]

My apologies, but this question seems oddly worded given the circumstances. The more common question seems to be: did the board (presumably through some sort of chair) ever refuse/decline/ignore requests by James for documents? Ben Creasy (talk) 03:00, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

The answer is also a little weasel-wordy... All the documents he needed for his work and decision-making, not all the documents he asked for or all the documents available to other board members, etc. 03:23, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

+1, it seems like an easy prediction that this question and answer will not stand up to the scrutiny they will surely get. -Pete F (talk) 03:40, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Indeed. Even a rank amateur board member should know that any discoveries of malfeasance are to be handled exclusively by the Malfeasance Committee, of which James was not a member, and so therefore he was denied access to the box with the smoking gun in it. The Malfeasance Committee assures us with their utmost confidence that there is nothing amiss with the Wikimedia Foundation, and they advise anyone who has any doubts to please check with the Move Along Committee and/or the Nothing To See Here Committee. - Thekohser (talk) 03:54, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Comments on missing actual reason for lack of trust[edit]

  1. I have still been given no actual reason not to trust Doc James' ability to be a board member.
  2. The fact that the board is even considering not having another election, given the remaining term lasts until Wikimania 2017, is a travesty.

BethNaught (talk) 07:24, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

As stated this is "not the result of any single action". There was simple a lack of "mutual trust". Should this be sufficient for justification for removal of a board member? IMO no, which was why I did not resign. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 08:58, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
My point is, they haven't said why they don't trust you. What kind of things have caused lack of trust? They did say you "couldn't agree on a common path forward". That makes it sound like they're removing you for not agreeing with them. BethNaught (talk) 10:14, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Yes they have not provided evidence for their lack of trust. Yes I spoke with staff but so were the majority of the rest of the board. They claim I mislead staff but some staff state that I did not mislead them.[1] The have accused me of pushing for an open discussion of our long term strategy and even though I suggested such an open discussion and offered to begin such a discussion I didn't. They have accused me of announcing my own removal but that occurred after I was removed. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:56, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Even thinking about a non-open discussion of our long term strategy should lead to the immediate expulsion of those members who do such anti-community thinking. Contemplating such blatantly anti-community behaviour is a contradiction of fulfilling ones duty for this community. Those, who want more secrecy are the bad guys who have to be kicked out of the board, secrecy is bad, full stop. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 21:53, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

"his fellow Trustees came to the opinion that they lacked sufficient confidence in his discretion, judgment, and ability to maintain confidential Board information" is certainly not an actual reason for a lack of trust, does not answer why that lack of trust exist. The individual board members need to explain their vote, not try to handwave like that. 13:24, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply


Why does this FAQ rather appear like a press release clothed into a Q&A list than a bunch of answers on really frequently asked questions? --Matthiasb (talk) 09:39, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Re: Why are Trustees appointed?[edit]

In the paragraph Why are Trustees appointed? it's said, that the Bylaws allow the community to select some seats in order to ensure the Board retains community experience. For an organization, that is in essence just a sevice organisation for a community that makes up the wikiverse, and only eists to make it more easy to get some things done for a diverse community, those number of seats are quite few. They are the only truly legitimized seats, perhaps besides the founder. So to remove one of the trustees, that were selected by the very core of the organisation, the community, the board has to come forward with extreme good reasons to remove such a person, like stealing property, raping co-trustees or such. The "reasons" given here are more about bad vibrations or such, nothing that would make a full blow against the community legitimate.

The excessive secrecy of the board seems to be at the core of this, and secrecy has to be restricted to very few items in an open community organisation, transparency about next to everything should be the norm. Secrecy in itself is something fishy, HR and pending law cases should be the only secrets at all. I think the mindset of Doc James would have helped the bad standing of the board in the community better, as they have lost trust in 2014 as they sustained the bad actions of some rogue developers against the community in the superprotect disaster.

In short: I think, no valid reason was given on the front side here, it was legal, but illigitimate. Legitimacy ashould trump pure legaleze in a community and educational project. Transparency is paramount to smooth operations, and direct interacting with the core of the organisation, the community, with as much as possible information sharing, especially before decisions take place, are sine qua non.

The bylaws must be edited, to give the full vetted and legitimized elected members a beter standing on the board, and to make it nearly impossible to simply ditch them just because you don't like them. Appointed members can be ditched as they are selected, but there should be fewer (and more diverse). --Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 15:47, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Thanks User:Sänger. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:14, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

What happened?[edit]

No specific reason is mentioned here. Additionally I have not been given any specific reasons other than a lack of "mutual trust" either.

The majority of the board and I disagreed regarding the level of involvement and transparency we felt our communities deserved in the planning of the long term strategy of the WMF (and thus the involvement and awareness around the spending of movement resources). I was of the opinion that our communities deserved greater transparency and involvement and that the lack of these were putting the relationship between the WMF and community at further risk with the longer this continued the greater the risk.

Our new strategy has become slightly more transparent over the last year. It is described in a single slide here in June 2015 as a “knowledge engine”. Today we have an announcement regarding search.[2] Many details however are still missing.

I am less concerned about our actual plans than the lack of prior disclosure, discussion, and community involvement. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:14, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

@Doc James: so the text released here wasn't approved by you? That was my expectation/understanding when I read through this earlier today. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:45, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
If you mean this text no it was neither approved nor discussed with me before it was posted. And I disagree with a fair bit of it. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:55, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Perhaps you should write a formal rebuttal. I realise you've already posted in various places, though. BethNaught (talk) 22:29, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
@Doc James: Has the board tried to, or is still trying to reach out to you in order to come up with a common statement? That would explain their reluctance in providing a substantial account so far. --Tobias talk · contrib 22:39, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
I reached out to the board on wikimedia-l with the offer to provide a common statement. We worked on something for a bit but were unable to come to agreement and I do not know if there is any interest on their part to continue. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:06, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
tl;dr They didn't like the fact that you disagreed with them, so they kicked you out. Board members are not expected to "rock the boat"; boards are typically, in practice, rubber-stamp committees that sign off on decisions already arrived at by the people holding the real levers of power, to give the illusion that the community (and/or shareholders, in for-profits) is represented. It sounds to me like you went in with expectations different from this, and got burned by it. All of the mealy-mouthed PR language of what the board has officially stated just serves to reiterate this fact. They can't state the actual truth that any board member who doesn't go along with the plan will be kicked out, because it would cause a revolt, so everything is couched in terms of "confidence in his discretion" and "differing expectations". -- 23:39, 6 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
  • I just want to note here that when Doc James ran for the board, one of the planks in his platform was greater community involvement in decisions about technology strategy - Visual Editor, mobile, translation, databases, etc. (see his statement here and this comment by him on a Signpost story about the upcoming elections.) That is part of the basis on which we elected him. It seems to me that conflicts between James and the majority of the trustees over this (more community involvement in technology strategy = more transparency) may be what led to the dismissal. I don't know if the issue was fundamental opposition among the other trustees to this goal, or if it was more tactical/interpersonal.... The Board's actions make it seems that they were concerned that James was pushing too hard too fast for transparency and community involvement, (for example, they could have been concerned that he would start simply making the technology strategy deliberations more transparent by talking about them to staff or members of the community or even to the community, or that they were concerned that he actually was doing that already...) It is unfortunate for all of us that the Board and James cannot come to an agreement about a way to state the core dispute in a way that both find acceptable. It would be a service to the community and I hope more efforts are made. Jytdog (talk) 15:08, 8 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Why are you lying about the appointment process?[edit]

In this revision you reinserted the lie about the majority of the trustees being nominated to the Board through transparent, open processes. In what kind of math is 3 out of 10 a majority? Or, if you include the opaque process for the affiliates members, 5 out of 10, but still no majority. The rest is just appointed by the board itself, no open process at all, just inbreeding. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 05:20, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

I asked Dariusz the other day who originally proposed the new additions to the board, Kelly Battles and Arnnon Geshuri. I was told that information was confidential, making Sänger's point quite valid. Andreas JN466 13:01, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
Affiliate-selected seats are as transparent as editors-selected seats. In both you have public candidatures, non-public votes, and public vote counts. But yes, 5 out of 10 is not a majority. - Laurentius (talk) 14:38, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
There is an easy way to make it a majority, remove Jimbo. ;) Nemo 16:38, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply
No need to "wink" there, Nemo. That would be a very beneficial solution to many problems with the Wikimedia Foundation. - Thekohser (talk) 21:20, 12 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Contempt for the community[edit]

I have to admit, I'm still appalled. I didn't see any indication that the board took into consideration the fact that James was elected by such a large number of folks from the community. You would think that there would need to be really extraordinary circumstances in order to override that mandate; but nothing in this FAQ hints at that. James was a de-facto representative of the community, and this action sends a strong message, IMO, about how the board feels about the community in general. It makes one wonder what "welcome" might mean, in this sentence: "We ... look forward to welcoming the next eligible community-selected Trustee." Klortho (talk) 21:14, 7 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

And what about community?[edit]

After reading this FAQ and discussions on Wikimedia-l I fail to find an answer to one question: how was the opinion of our community taken into account by the Board? The FAQ states that The majority of the remaining Board members felt that they and James were not able to agree on a common path forward. Was the opinion of the community on this common path forward ever taken into account? As there were no notable open community discussions recently, the only way for the Board to get the input from the community was via community-elected trustees. This, unfortunately, seriously raises the question of how the community input is taken into account by the Board, and this question unfortunately is not adressed in this FAQ — NickK (talk) 10:56, 8 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

Signpost op-ed essay by Doc James[edit]

Doc James just published an op-ed essay in the enWP Signpost Transparency, and it seems quite clear, that too much secrecy by the board was at the core of his demotion. Secrecy has to be restricted to very few areas (HR and few legal cases), nearly everything should be dealt with in the full open. To do anything not in the open has to be justified by real good reasons, as it's a deviation from the core values of the movement and the foundation. People, who insist in more secrecy, should not have any leading role in the wiki-movement, they are working against the core values. Not complying with excessive secrecy should lead to praise and honour, not removal from the board. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 14:18, 17 January 2016 (UTC)Reply

unfortunately, the Board apparently see to their "convenience", not transparency--Ozzie10aaaa (talk) 01:07, 20 January 2016 (UTC)Reply