Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/October 2020 - Board candidate evaluation form

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page is for discussions related to the October 2020 Bylaws changes and Board candidate rubric.

  Please remember to:

Wikimedia Foundation logo - vertical.svg

Diversity: Background[edit]

I'd like to focus on better defining diversity in this form. It should be easy to put a candidate in these brackets, but the current form does not allow it. Can every woman check yes, just for being a historically discriminated gender? If yes, then it should be made clear. How about a disabled non-white LGBTQ+ man raised in a poor family. Should there be a distinction between him and other candidates that also fall into the diversity bracket? Cheers! Nadzik (talk) 17:31, 7 October 2020 (UTC)

Hi, thanks for your message. The answer to your question is likely "it depends". The application of the rubric would not happen in a vacuum - it would be used to meet the needs of the Board at that time. So in your example, for instance, if the Board was composed 90% by men, there would be a case for saying that adding a woman instead of a man would bring on diversity and a different life experience. If everyone was white, then the consideration could shift towards someone who isn't, and so on. Kind regards, Raystorm (talk) 11:45, 9 October 2020 (UTC)
If the diversity that's sought is diversity in the board, the point about diversity shouldn't be about membership of a group that's faced historical discrimination but "contribute to the overall diversity in background of the Board of Trustees" and have it worded like the section under "Diversity: Geography". ChristianKl❫ 14:19, 9 October 2020 (UTC)
It depends. The composition of the Board at the time will be a factor no doubt, but not the only one. That could be very limiting. Raystorm (talk) 21:22, 10 October 2020 (UTC)

I feel like this rubric is a mix of those things:

  • Would the candidate contribute to the overall (for the lack of a better term) demographic diversity of the board?
  • Does the candidate have experience with historical discrimination and underrepresentation in structures of power?

For the latter, what I wrote in #Criteria for candidates vs. criteria for the board applies; and also, belonging to a group that has been discriminated against somewhere, somewhen is just not useful criteria. E.g. Christians have faced plenty of discrimination historically, and still do in many places of the world. A Christian living in the United States probably has zero experience with any of that.

So, maybe split actual experience with discrimination (a valueable knowledge for a few board members to have; not a sensible evaluation criteria for all board candidates) from demographic diversity of the board, which should apply to all board candidates (in the sense that ideally they wouldn't belong to a demographic that's already overrepresented on the board). --Tgr (talk) 07:10, 26 October 2020 (UTC)

"Rubric"[edit]

Is there a more internationally accessible word which can be used instead of "rubric"? A rubric is something written in red. I also can really figure out what meaning it's supposed to have here. (education) A printed set of scoring criteria for evaluating student work and for giving feedback? It seems very schooling-related. --MF-W 10:01, 9 October 2020 (UTC)

Thank you for flagging this issue. We would be happy to consider proposals for alternate terminology to use, and to hear from people about what terminology would be both accurate and widely understood. We have also referred to the "rubric" as an "evaluation form". Is that wording better? Raystorm (talk) 21:23, 10 October 2020 (UTC)
Yes, I think "evaluation form" would be easier to understand. --MF-W 09:54, 15 October 2020 (UTC)

Willingness to engage in community discussions[edit]

Currently, appointed members of the Board do not seem to care for discussing with the community at all. Of course, they don't need to become huge content contributors and onwiki discussion participants if they don't want to and were brought to the Board for some other quality, but it's very telling that the only Board members who actually interact with the community, especially when some "crisis" is going on over some new Foundation idea (like the "rebranding"), are the community-selected ones and Jimbo Wales. Take these embarassing discussions: Talk:Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard#Future_of_this_Noticeboard, Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard/Archives/2017#Results or the fact that zero out of four current appointed members seem to even have a SUL account. That's why I think something like "willingness to engage in discussions with the community, explaining the reasoning behind Board decisions and listening to community feedback" should be an important criterion. --MF-W 10:12, 9 October 2020 (UTC)

@MF-Warburg: I think it would be good to have such a point but I'm not clear about how to best word it. Is it about edit count on mediawiki? ChristianKl❫ 14:20, 9 October 2020 (UTC)
If we think of people who are not yet part of the community, that's not so helpful. I'm thinking more about willingness to make a commitment. --MF-W 17:05, 9 October 2020 (UTC)
To be fair, appointed members do interact with community members mostly at movement events, such as the Wikimedia summit, regional events or Wikimania, and they've recently also been involved in the different working groups of the movement strategy. Edit count - particularly on Meta - would not necessarily be a good indicator of involvement in community discussions imho. Raystorm (talk) 21:28, 10 October 2020 (UTC)
'Interacting' with the small self-selected minority of community members that attend such junkets is of next to no relevance when it comes to understanding the wants and needs of contributors as a whole. AndyTheGrump (talk) 18:28, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
Please don't forget that Meta is also a self-selected minority. How many board members have ever tried to interact with editors of featured articles on Mongol Wikipedia on their talk pages? Pretty sure the answer is zero, and pretty sure editors of featured articles on Mongol Wikipedia are not on Meta — NickK (talk) 23:14, 24 October 2020 (UTC)

How will this rubric be used?[edit]

What's the process for using this rubric? Is it supposed only to affect the non-community appointed members or also the community appointed ones? Who fills out the rubric and decides the Yes/No? When will the rubric for a particular candidate be communicated? ChristianKl❫ 14:24, 9 October 2020 (UTC)

Feedback from Wugapodes[edit]

I like the idea of a rubric and the transparency it provides. I was pleased to see that community participation will be taken into account, but it's quite obvious that community experience is underrepresented. If this were adopted in its current form, particularly when community-trustee elections have been postponed, I expect the community will be incredibly hostile. I urge whatever body is considering this to not hinder their own efforts: the WMF is viewed as disconnected from the community and if community experience is reduced to a single, unimportant criterion, it will only prove that distrust was rightly placed.

While criteria related to diversity are (rightly) given their own section, diversity in community experiences are not taken into account. I believe the ideal board candidate is part of the Wikimedia movement already, and so the board should be able to provide more information than just the length of their tenure. Here are some suggestions:

  • The board should evaluate the number of WMF projects the candidate has contributed to
  • Clarify the "Years of experience" for "Wikimedia experience". Is it time an account has been registered? Time active on projects? At what activity threshhold? Most editors care about quality, not quantity, and simply telling us a candidate has been around for X number of years is not very informative.
  • The board should provide some basic metrics of contributor quality:
    • Has the candidate participated in a volunteer-run peer review process on a WMF project?
    • Has the candidate produced featured content on a WMF project?
    • Does the candidate hold community-granted rights on any WMF project?

If the drafting body agrees that the ideal board candidate is part of the Wikimedia movement, this information should be easy to supply. There may be apprehension to put forward candidates who do not satisfy these criteria, but even in those cases it still furthers your goal of transparency to provide the community with experience metrics it actually uses. Not every candidate will satisfy these criteria to the community's satisfaction, and that's okay because a diversity of Wikimedia experience is important. Adopting criteria like these would help to rebuild trust between the board and community, and even if board members do not have robust Wikimedia experience it still benefits everyone to be transparent about that fact. Wugapodes (talk) 03:19, 16 October 2020 (UTC)

Geographic diversity[edit]

The rubric includes "The candidate would contribute to the overall geographic diversity of the Board of Trustees, based on the geographic regions where they have lived." I don't think checking just where candidates have lived in the past is adequate. While diversity of national origin might be of value in its own right, it's not a substitute for actual geographic diversity of where the trustees currently live. (I wouldn't consider a dozen immigrants to the US from various countries to be as diverse as a dozen people who still live in those countries.)

(This is somewhat related to Amir's point about native speakers of another language who also speak English not being a substitute for people who still don't speak English.) --Yair rand (talk) 09:42, 19 October 2020 (UTC)

Not suitable for Community Reps[edit]

Firstly, most critically, any filtering method being applied to community nominees after a vote should be prohibited as a matter of course. The WMF can't have involvement in selecting who is providing the community reps.

If it is being provided to community voters for them to consider before choosing, that's one thing - and I would suggest that the rubric would need a far greater consideration of their community involvement. For example, the different ways of participating and interacting with communities and so on.

If it's for the appointed members, then a rubric definitely could be of use, but I would still feel that having 4 whole segments on diversity is extreme weighting. Since there is no weighting quotient given (or rules under which said weighting would be decided), allocating a full half of considerations to it seems disproportionately focused. Gaining a spread of perspectives absolutely is valuable, but not if it's drawing attention away from their experiential aspects. Nosebagbear (talk) 19:05, 19 October 2020 (UTC)

+1 Wugapodes (talk) 22:49, 19 October 2020 (UTC)
The WMF can't have involvement in selecting who is providing the community reps. is a key point. The community won't abide by a system where the current board has the final say over new board members. Levivich (talk) 04:31, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
And I should note to readers that we all mean that in the functional sense. Yes, the Board obviously does the current "legal appointing", but except in cases where people fail their paperwork, NDA-signing etc, declines are never going to be viable. Nosebagbear (talk) 07:45, 20 October 2020 (UTC)
  • This can be suitable, but this should probably be consensual between the Board and the community. I can perfectly imagine some criteria for rejecting bad candidates, but they should be pretty straightforward. For instance, Wikimedia experience is a valid one: we do not want a person who have just joined and hardly ever edited to take a community seat. Board, executive or subject matter experience is probably also relevant — I think we can safely set some minimum barrier to make sure community representatives have a minimum qualification needed for the Board. However, I think requirements like 'community needs to bring candidates with this specific subject matter experience or with this specific diversity dimension' are not acceptable as this is exactly why the Board needs appointed seats — NickK (talk) 00:35, 25 October 2020 (UTC)
@NickK: - but I'm not sure we have ever elected a community member without genuine significant experience in at least one project. Nosebagbear (talk) 12:45, 26 October 2020 (UTC)
I do recall candidates who did not have one, but indeed they were not elected — NickK (talk) 08:46, 27 October 2020 (UTC)

The proposed bylaws changes adds "The Board of Trustees shall convey its priorities and requirements for members" to the section about community-sourced trustees, which makes me assume that the rubric is meant to apply to them.

As long as it's strictly advisory and can be ignored by the community in a situation they perceive as extraordinary, I don't think that's a bad thing. --Tgr (talk) 06:49, 26 October 2020 (UTC)

Information or filter?[edit]

I'm concerned on how this would be used, whether it is just an information form for use by the Board, or whether - even if only implicitly - it's used as a filter. If it's used as a filter - we would not end up with a diverse group at all, rather the opposite. Let me give you an example, say in the top section the 2-5 years experience or above would be considered acceptable, and the bottom section only "yes" is considered acceptable. Then total up the acceptable points for each candidate, and say that only candidates with 4 or more points (half or the possible total) are acceptable. That would end up with a very non-diverse group.

People in that group would almost have to be deeply involved with Wikipedia, another charity, or the corporate world (probably 2 of the preceding), be well over 30 years old (to get all that experience), part of the transnational (world-traveling) class of well-off junior or senior level executives (i.e. no middle class folks who have stayed in their home country for most of their lives). I'd love to see 20-50% of our trustees fall in that group, but anything more than that and our board would be very non-diverse. I'd think there could be lots of well qualified people who might only check off 2-3 of the boxes, e.g. a young or mid-career academic who has spent his or her career in their home country; or an accountant with modest experience on Wikipedia and charities/academics. Using the rubric as a filter will inevitably filter out many of the truly unique individuals in the world that could really make the board more diverse. Filters don't increase diversity, they decrease it. Smallbones (talk) 15:46, 22 October 2020 (UTC)

That, is a very interesting point. Nosebagbear (talk)

Political system experience[edit]

What does "political system experience" mean? "The candidate has substantial experience living in and/or working to share knowledge in a non-democratic, state-censoring, or repressive context"? Can we please include a minority of board members who have enjoyed the fruits of privilege? 107.242.121.51 01:05, 24 October 2020 (UTC) Would candidates sanctioned by the community benefit from this aspect of the rubric? 96.90.213.161 03:22, 28 October 2020 (UTC)

Criteria for candidates vs. criteria for the board[edit]

All of the diversity rubrics seem very reasonable for evaluating the board. Some of them don't seem as reasonable for evaluating a single candidate. For example, having people on the board with experience of repressive regimes is very valuable. All board members having such experience does not have that much added value, and it would surely happen at the detriment of other criteria. As such, it feels more like a special type of subject matter expertise than diversity. --Tgr (talk) 07:01, 26 October 2020 (UTC)

Update from the Board Governance Committee[edit]

Pundit has posted an update following the conclusion of this discussion period. That update includes an explanation of the change to the title of this page. –Charles M. Roslof (WMF) (talk) 18:45, 29 October 2020 (UTC)

Add a section for donations[edit]

This should be added:

"This candidate has donated, has relationships with, or is backed by current or potential donors" with the donation options being $0-$5k, $5,001-$30,000, $30,001-$100,000, $100,001-$500,000, $500,001-$1,000,000, and $1,000,001+--Epiphyllumlover (talk) 04:31, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
Presumably with us weighting against anyone who is attempting to get access to governance purely on the basis of financial relationships? I don't believe a charity with fundraising on our scale has the slightest need for this type of consideration Nosebagbear (talk) 09:30, 25 November 2020 (UTC)
Some charities report the contributions of the largest donors. I have not seen a list of this for Wikipedia. If one is available, please link to it here. If you're going to go with self-appointing instead of electing, then everything needs to be transparent.
It is not uncommon for a foundation to expect a board seat allocated to a designated individual in return for a grant. When applying for a grant, some foundations specifically ask what the typical donation level is for a seat. Isn't it assumed (in general, for non-profit boards) that securing benefactors is a major purpose for appointing instead of electing?--Epiphyllumlover (talk) 21:42, 25 November 2020 (UTC)

Add another category to diversity[edit]

"historical discrimination and underrepresentation in structures of power"

We should add religion to this. For example, Hutterities fled the United States en mass about a century ago, and over 35k are still abroad. There are many other religious groups which are disenfranchised, or were historically.--Epiphyllumlover (talk) 04:21, 25 November 2020 (UTC)

Approval of Bylaws amendments and upcoming call for feedback about the selection of new trustees[edit]

Hi, please see Approval of Bylaws amendments and upcoming call for feedback about the selection of new trustees. Qgil-WMF (talk) 17:36, 21 January 2021 (UTC)

Size and complexity: proposed amendment[edit]

Hi @Qgil-WMF: Based on recent discussions, "of comparable (or greater) size, complexity, and scope" seems overspecific here. Experience with the operation of complex organizations, and executive experience at organizations, are important -- but focusing exclusively on time spent as executives of 500-person organizations seems more constraining than necessary. Someone with a decade of running a series of impactful regional 50-person organizations would not appear. Worth amending, I think. –SJ talk  18:01, 20 February 2021 (UTC)