Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

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Other discussion about the board[edit]

Wikimedians discussed and continue to discuss the Board and, in typical fashion, the conversation sprawls over many pages. See the election results.

Early conversations[edit]

Live conversations[edit]

How does the board do its work? (explaining might help people vote)[edit]

I have edited since probably 2006 or before, and my involvement in Wikimedia is medium. Though for several years I could have voted, I may never have, because, though there is enough information on the many candidates, I wish the the board article was larger.

Do members work full-time, part-time, only when they want for a few hours a week? Do the they work at home or a Wikimedia location? How do people running elections know candidates seems able to fulfill duties, and what happens if you need a new member between elections? (I suppose all candidates are admins.)

Maybe I did not vote also because I did not feel I had expertise or time to consider candidates, but for years I have learned more about how Wikimedia works & tools, rules; hopefully I will vote later.--Dchmelik 12:37, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

Hi, I can try to answer some of your questions. The board of trustees are composed of elected and appointed members. There are community elections for the elected members, every other year(once for chapters than once for the editing community). The appointed members are selected for their expertise and experience, and they are appointed rather than elected. The term for elected members is for usually 2 years, but it might be increased or they might be re-confirmed. If a board member chooses to resign, which might have already happened once, depending on the whether the resigning member is elected or appointed, a decision is made by the rest of the board to appoint someone else in their position or appoint an interim trustee till the elections. They are strictly unpaid, there are non-profit laws and Wikimedia's own rules, that require board members of non-profit to be unpaid and neutral, and disclose any conflict of interests in issues beforehand. They have a certain number of physical meetings through-out the year, mostly coinciding with other events and conferences, there are also certain meetings with staff and office-visits that the board members can do at their discretion. They keep in touch with each other through mailing lists, emails, IRC meetings -official and unofficial and interact with the community through the previously mentioned forms. Theo10011 13:28, 28 December 2011 (UTC)
The rest of this question was never answered, I guess :(
Being on the Board is a volunteer job. People work at home using the wikis, mailing lists and IRC, just like being an editor. However, the Board does meet in person between 3-4 times a year, often in conjunction with Wikimania or other events. I'd estimate it takes around 10 hours a week of work; some members spend more, and during meeting times it comes close to being a full time job. Candidates are not necessarily admins. Board responsibilities have a lot more to do with off-wiki responsibilities: like passing budgets. -- phoebe | talk 18:30, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

Others languages[edit]

Need help? See the Translation FAQ or Meta:Babylon. All translators should also subscribe to translators-l to be kept up-to-date (and to ask questions).

Why this template, or something similar like the ones we can see on other meta pages, did'nt appear on the main page ? Simon Villeneuve 11:04, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

That's an old-style translations template for translating to the Foundation wiki. You can add it if you want. PiRSquared17 (talk) 00:26, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
It's not really "cute". Do you think you can actualise it ? Simon Villeneuve 14:30, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Move this page to History of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees[edit]

Right now there is no central place for the Wikimedia community to develop the presentation of the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation. This is a problem to be addressed. Currently this page is titled Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, but the coverage here is on the history and it refers readers to the WMF website for information about the current board. This page should instead cover the current board.

At WMF:Board of Trustees the board is listed, but community members can neither edit this nor give comments on the talk page as this is on the WMF's own private restricted wiki. I have copied the content there to User:Bluerasberry/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. I would like for a copy of that WMF page to be on meta so that the community can present the board as the community likes. The community is as much of a stakeholder in this as the Wikimedia Foundation.

My reason for wanting this move is that I want board positions to be labeled. Some seats are community elected, some are chapter elected, and some are appointed. The Wikimedia Foundation is not labeling the positions in this way and I feel that the Wikimedia community should be able to readily determine who is serving in the elected seats, since 5 of these seats are particularly close to the Wikimedia community. On meta if the community could edit a listing, then this would be possible, whereas this is not possible on the WMF site. I requested permission to make a request on the WMF website, and my request was not granted. Because it is extremely difficult for community members to interact with the WMF website, this content should be hosted here on Meta.

Because the page currently at Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is less about any current board and more about historical boards, I think that it should be moved to History of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees so that it would reflect the content that it contains. After this move is done, User:Bluerasberry/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees should be moved to Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees so that the meta page on the board actually focuses coverage on the present board. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:17, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

I support the idea. Mainly because I think its up to the community to decide how information like this should be maintained and found on meta. wmf wiki is our official place to present information about the foundation, here of course it can be done differently. If you think that's the better approach, move on. If you have some supporters to help with updating from time to time -- even better. Alice Wiegand (talk) 16:57, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
Again... Nothing stopping you from creating those page Blue Rasberry.--AldNonymousBicara? 21:56, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
I created the pages but I am stopped from doing the move. Only Meta:Translation administrators can move this page. I need an administrator to perform these moves -
Once those moves are made, I think that Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees should be tagged for translation, because information about the current board should be translated. I am indifferent about tagging History of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees for translation because history is less of a priority for me. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:30, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
I like this idea - but I think the proposed page has a lot of duplication from the WMF site. Is there an advantage to duplicating so much? --Varnent (talk)(COI) 20:57, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
I have gone ahead and moved the BoT page out of the way - but do think the new page needs a bit of work first. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 21:04, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Resolved.
My immediate concern is met. The table you provided labels trustees' positions. This page can be developed, as can the history page. Both pages need work but now I am satisfied that this is an improvement and also anyone else can develop this also. Thanks. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:36, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry and Lyzzy: What do you think about bringing WMF Board portal into this page as well? --Varnent (talk)(COI) 13:38, 12 June 2015 (UTC)
Some of that information seems useful and some seems less useful. If it remains there, people are unlikely to find it. If it is moved here, people would find it but not all of it will be relevant and some could be confusing. Here are some thoughts:
  • I would prefer to keep this page short and simple to make it more accessible for more people
  • I recognize that more information exists, and this page is probably the best place for people to begin when they review all the documentation on the board (already thousands of pages, I expect)
  • I would support that portal being moved here. In time, I would expect about half of it to stay, and the rest to eventually be sorted somewhere else
  • I do not see any reason to rush this or put changes on a schedule. The page is nice now, and it would be nice if that portal were migrated here, and it would be nice still if people made more changes.
Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:48, 12 June 2015 (UTC)

No standardized names for the types of board appointments[edit]

It seems that the community election and the chapter election currently have no formal name. I just linked to them from here. Here is what it says now:

I think all four of these appointments should have names, and that the names should seem orderly among each other. I cannot think of an appropriate name - ideas from others? Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:08, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

Related is #Inside vs outside directors, but those standard names cut across the divisions outlined above. The founder is implicitly an insider. The seats nominated by the affiliates and community have consistently been insiders. 'Affiliate insider seat/director' and 'Community insider seat/director' would be accurate names for them. Of course both processes try to allow for outsiders, but it is extremely unlikely that the community will opt for an outsider, especially in the current climate of distrust, and there is a similar improbability that the affiliates will nominate an outsider for similar but more complex reasons. John Vandenberg (talk) 22:06, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

Wording of "directly elected"[edit]

Stating that "three seats [are] elected directly" is inconsistent with the Foundation's bylaws, where this is not a direct election but a recommendation for appointment to the Board. Adamw (talk) 13:49, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

I went ahead and made this change directly (see the diff) as you're quite right that "directly elected" gives a false impression of the legal implications of the community voting process. The people the community selects are, legally, only a recommendation to the Board which they then ratify. Wittylama (talk) 15:03, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
This wording comes from the initial version by user:Varnent which largely came from wmf:Board of Trustees which still said 'directly elected'. The WMF wiki has always strongly implied a proper election, since the first version by user:Anthere. I've copied the change to the wmf wiki. John Vandenberg (talk) 21:31, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
The bylaws need to change, to end this charade and bring in some real democratic element. As was seen in the dismissial of Doc James for no reason beyond we don't like him, the board doesn't take the communities serious at all. Direct elected is the only valid procedure for the board, the current absolutistic approach is plain wrong. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 14:53, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

Inside vs outside directors[edit]

Since mid 2009 the four appointed seats have are typically been an 'w:Independent director', intentionally chosen from outside the organisation to bring diversity to the board. However the recent re-appointment of Alice, previously a affiliate-selected appointee, is not an outsider, and prior to 2010 those four slots where insiders.

Worth noting that while affiliate-selected appointee could be outsiders, they have never selected outsiders, and having been involved in that process I am confident the reality is that they will never select an outsider unless they are required to do so.

Requiring that three seats are outsiders, and explicitly naming them so, is IMO a good ingredient, but I think four outsiders is too many for our movement, especially if they are all from direct appointments.

IMO the most important improvement for the affiliate-selection system would be to require that they 'select' one insider and one outsider. That will mean they can only 'select' one of their own, which is more likely to require consensus rather than allowing Horse trading between the largest groups within the affiliates, and will mean they need to actively find suitable candidates outside of the movement to bring diversity. John Vandenberg (talk) 21:57, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

I have two questions related to your idea:
  • What are the benefits for the movement of having an independent director? As far as I understand the main point in appointing outsiders is bringing people with profiles (geography or experience) that are otherwise not represented. In this case it would be much more benefitial to discuss with the Board what kind of profiles the Board is looking for. For instance, if the Board needs a person with HR experience and a person with an experience in Africa, I am pretty sure that all affiliates together have at least several members with appropriate profiles AND good knowledge of our community at the same time, which is a strong advantage.
  • How would you measure the fact that a person is an outsider? Some affiliates have board members who have never been active editors of Wikimedia projects (like WMUK), some affiliates have board members who joined an affiliate organisation first and only then started editing Wikimedia projects. If you want a complete outsider (i.e. a person who has nothing to do with Wikimedia movement) it would be very hard to find such candidate without any prerequisites — NickK (talk) 15:53, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

Maria was appointed, not selected by the community[edit]

I just changed the table on the front here, as Maria was not elected by the community, but appointed by the board. The community selected seat is still vacant, as the community has not voted since the dismissal of user:Doc James without any valid reason. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 16:29, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

@Sänger: I recognize that is the situation you would like, and respect your right to advocate for that. However, as Patricio stated in his 29 January 2016 email announcing María's appointment: "María Sefidari will accept an appointment to the Board of Trustees, stepping into the third community-nominated seat." As has been recently discussed, all community-nominated and affiliate-nominated Trustees are ultimately appointed to the Board, which is why the word "appointment" appears in his message. So, as it stands now, María is holding the third community-nominated seat previously held by user:Doc James. As a result, I plan to revert these edits to the Board page to accurately reflect where things stand now. Again, I respect your right to explain why this should be changed, but I do not believe anyone is helped by implying the change you are seeking has already been made, when in fact it has not. I hope you understand the desire to keep this page accurate. --Gregory Varnum (WMF) (talk) 20:43, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
This is the fairy tale those that ditched the proper elected board member without any valid explanation, thus kicking the community in the face, gave as an excuse for their illegitimate deeds, to cover up their fault. No, it's plain an appointed seat, no matter what they maunder. I don't have anything against Maria on the board, she is probably much better suited then the crook Arnnon ever was, although she acted explicitly against the community in the superprotect disaster, along all other board members at that time.
Maria was not selected by the community, full stop. She was appointed against the community wish, and it was tried to get her as a replacement for the illegitimate removal of Doc James. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 21:02, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
P.S.: If you change the board page back to the wrong tale, please state explicitly, that all this charade about community seats is just that: a charade to keep the masses calm and pretend some kind of democracy, that in reality never existed. The removal was oligarchy acting pure and simple. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 21:06, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
Again, I respect that this is your position, but your disagreement with what was done does not change the fact that she was appointed to the community-nominated seat, and currently holds that seat. After considering your response, I am proceeding with the revert. --Gregory Varnum (WMF) (talk) 21:13, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
Will you make clear with your change, that this so called community-nominated doesn't have any connection with the community at all, but is all just at the whim of those already on the board? That all this pretending of democracy is just that: pretending? Or will you keep lying to the communities about this obvious fact that they are willingly ignored if the (fake) election doesn't get the right result? Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 21:18, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
@Sänger: I have added notes. --Gregory Varnum (WMF) (talk) 21:39, 28 February 2016 (UTC)
And you have simply reverted the other change to the old, false fairytale about community nomination. Why do you insist on this fake? user:Doc James was removed with no reason at all, it may has been somehow legal by the words of the bylaws, but it was completely illegitimate by any moral values. And it made clear, that the board doesn't care about this so-called election, if someone inconvenient will be elected. The whole election process is obviously just a charade, and the wrong description on the front page here is a mosaic piece in the Potemkin village you at the disconnected WMF are building. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 21:47, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

To GVarnum-WMF and Sänger, I think you are both expending a lot of energy over a detail. As we frequently find with Wikipedia editing, often the best way to get out of a dispute is simply to use different language or a different approach, that exposes the underlying disagreement to the reader, and lets them decide. The reader is not well served by either the statement "she was appointed without a nomination" or the statement "she holds a community seat," unless there is additional context. I hope my addition of a new footnote (which is about the nature of the seat, not about Maria herself) will help. -Pete F (talk) 23:18, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Why was Doc James removed?[edit]

@Lyzzy, Pundit, Denny, Frieda, and Patricio.lorente: @Guy Kawasaki, Jimbo Wales, Stu, and Jan-Bart:
Up to now not a single valid reason was given by any of the members of the Board, why Doc James got kicked out from the board.
I'd like to point you to this mail by Jimbo on the wikimedia-l mailing list (which I expect to be read by all board members, if they take their job serious). There is a huge amount of mistrust towards you, because you keep silent and don't say anything. Perhaps there is a valid reason, but as long as you keep quiet, I tend to believe Doc James, as he seems to be believable and has a coherent story. I don't think a slick joint answer by The Board in meaningless corporate lingo will do anything to get this situation straightened, I'd rather see your personal reasons to ditch a community elected member from the board, without consulting the community beforehand, or even informing it in a meaningful manner afterwards.
Your silence has done enough damage, come fore and deliver some answers to the community. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 14:25, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

I believe this question will be better answered by someone who voted to remove James (I voted in James' favor). I think there is an internal discussion regarding a reply now, but I would also hope you'd understand that while this issue is also urgent, there are currently things that are actually critical time-wise, in the times of leadership transition. Pundit (talk) 16:28, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
While I definitely agree that things have boiled over, and there are other pressing issues now, it should be quite easy for those who so light-hearted dismissed an elected member to give their reasons here, now that two months have gone by. It was a severe lack of required openness and accountability not to do so by those members, who decided against the community, and how should we trust them with the next, even more important, task of new ED and staff uproar, if they failed here so completely? Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 16:44, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
I shared my thoughs on wikimedia-l. --denny (talk) 19:09, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

There just was an update about this on the Wikimedia-l Mailing list by Denny Vrandečić. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 09:22, 3 May 2016 (UTC)

My reading of this post:
  • Some staffers contacted a few select members of the board to make their discontent with the Foundation heard, and demanded and got promised strict confidentiality.
  • After some time those few select members decided, to take the issue to the whole board and a official task force was created. This task force demanded the information given to the select members under strict confidentiality for all of them to see. James didn't want to break his promise for a long time, before he budged to the pressure. This was constructed as non-cooperation with the task force and lack of transparency.
  • This exemplary adhering to the given promise of confidentiality and was then one of the reasons to ditch him, as it was even construed as lack of confidentiality for board manners.
The staffers only gave their input to some select members, with a demand for strict confidentiality. This confidentiality was broken by all those members, which is for me a mayor reason not to trust those members. James seems to have adhered to his duties not to betray the staffers for quite some time, until he as well budged team pressure. His exemplary adherence to the essential principle of caring about privacy and confidentiality was construed as something bad, while in reality all others showed bad judgement with their illegitimate breaking of given promises.
Of course it could be, that all those staffers were asked to give their consent to making the notes etc. public to the board, but that's not how I read the statement now. Without this explicit consent the information must never have been given to the other board members.
@Denny: How was the trust the staffers set in you as a person maintained? How were they asked for their consent to share the information with lots of other board members and even outsiders? Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 05:55, 4 May 2016 (UTC)
Without going into details and reporting on the internal affairs, just to disperse another forming myth: the people contacting us gave us liberty in timing and decision on talking to the others. I also don't believe that James was non-cooperating in his actions. The stubbornness that Denny is referring to is a personal, subjective account of his, which he justly recognizes and emphasizes - and in my view is a matter of perceived attitude (just as Denny writes). I understand that James may be perceived as arrogant, or nonchalant in an organizational sense (as I occasionally am as well - this is typical for academic, legal or medical professions btw). I also agree that any board member in any organization may basically have strong convictions about other members professionalism/conduct/attitude, and that if such feelings cluster (that is, a large majority of a board strongly believe that a single member is unfit, not even necessarily objectively, but in a given subjective configuration) it is natural that this person is removed. Still, I believe that James' removal was a mistake. Even if he had been disruptive at the time (which I'm not commenting on - just observing that some people appear to may have felt this way), the fact that nearly half a year later the issue is still fueling major discussions and conflict clearly shows that the costs for the movement are just huge. Pundit (talk) 15:30, 4 May 2016 (UTC)
Yes, it is a problem. A problem inflicted on the board solely and completely by itself by ditching a valid elected member without any decent explanation at all. And just week later appoint some completely unsuited member, that behaved in a most anti-social way as a HR manager, to the board, and even held fast to him until he himself decided to do the inevitable and resigned.
Will there ever be an explanation by the board, to justify their obviously anti-community decisions?
I especially ask those, who have remained silent until now, who ducked for cover instead of standing to their decisions. @Guy Kawasaki, Frieda, Stu, and Jan-Bart:. Why are you not answering the questions of the community? Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 16:01, 4 May 2016 (UTC)
Denny just answered my questions on the mailing list, I very much appreciate his openness and forthcoming about this issue, quite a contrast to most other members of the board at that time. Thank you very much for that, Denny (and Pundit as well, of course)!
Before that, User:LuisVilla wrote this very interesting mail on that list, recommended reading as well. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 16:17, 6 May 2016 (UTC)

Removing the 'Dr.' from the Names[edit]

Hi, personally, I find the 'Dr.' in the names of some Trustees rather unusual. I think that in most circumstances it just takes unnecessary space. If someone is interested in the educational background of a person, they can look them up. Any thoughts on that? --denny (talk) 19:07, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. Physicians typically go by "Name, MD" rather than "Dr. Name". I do not think we need either. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:15, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Board minutes about Knight grant[edit]

Doc James has said in several places that he and Dariusz were asked to propose and second accepting the Knight grant. The minutes say that James and Denny did this. [1] Can someone clarify? SarahSV talk 23:08, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Thanks User:SlimVirgin I made an error and it was only me who was requested to put forwards the motion not Dariusz. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:36, 29 February 2016 (UTC)
James, thanks for clarifying. SarahSV talk 02:42, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

Link to current election?[edit]

One'd say that people may want to reach Wikimedia Foundation elections/2017 from this page, but I don't think I see it linked from here. Elitre (WMF) (talk) 09:42, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

Hello! I think it makes sense. Though I cannot think of how and where. Any suggestions? --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 09:49, 18 April 2017 (UTC)
At the very top? I'm thinking of that as a sort of disambiguation, a "You may be looking for" note. I don't remember if there's a specific template for that on this wiki. Elitre (WMF) (talk) 10:11, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

Wikimedia Endowment[edit]

May I please have some substantive answers from the WMF to the questions asked at Talk:Wikimedia Endowment#How should we select members of the Wikimedia Endowment Advisory board?.

For background, see User:Guy Macon/Wikipedia has Cancer and Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2017-02-27/Op-ed. --Guy Macon (talk) 17:47, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

Answered on 19 April 2017 -Guy Macon (talk) 12:02, 21 April 2017 (UTC)

Bug in line 84?[edit]

I see a note to Jimbo was added to translation here. How come it show as a plain ref in its translated page in translated Japanese? Could you fix and show it under "Notes" as intended please? ----Omotecho (talk) 04:44, 4 May 2017 (UTC)

It needed to be marked for translation, which I did. Ruslik (talk) 12:28, 5 May 2017 (UTC)

Update?[edit]

Shouldn't this be updated to reflect the recent changes to the Board? Kudpung (talk) 00:18, 2 June 2017 (UTC)

User:Kudpung The newly selected trustees do not officially join the board until voted on at Wikimania. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:35, 2 June 2017 (UTC)
Yes, that's one of the strange outcomes of this rather byzantine and slightly undemocratic procedure here at work. Despite being the best legitimated trustees we have on the board, the rules say, that this election by the highest power in the wikiverse, the communities, was just a mere proposal, and some very much less legitimated people can overturn this decision by simply doing so without any need for explanation (see the illegitimate removal of Doc James 1.5 years ago). This procedure is something that desperately need fixing, the bylaws have to be changed to a correct procedure. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 06:56, 2 June 2017 (UTC)