Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Specialization seats

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Please propose the idea first[edit]

Hi Csisc, please propose the idea at the main Talk page before integrating it to the call for feedback. This page is ok as a first draft but let's discuss. For reference, see how we handled the Regional seats idea. Qgil-WMF (talk) 16:40, 9 February 2021 (UTC)

Qgil-WMF: Yes check.svg Done. --Csisc (talk) 13:02, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Just for the record, the idea has been accepted into the call for feedback. Thank you! Qgil-WMF (talk) 22:43, 10 February 2021 (UTC)

Proposing to add seats for capacities[edit]

Moved from Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Specialization seats Qgil-WMF (talk) 13:28, 11 February 2021 (UTC)

Dear all,

I have seen that the Board of Trustees lack specialized individuals that can help in several interesting tasks. For example, the Board of Trustees does not include a legal specialist, an economist, a linguist or a GLAM Specialist. I think that having such people in the Board is key for the development of the Wikimedia Governance. Please see the full proposal on Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Specialization seats. I will be honoured to receive detailed opinions about this.

Yours Sincerely,

--Csisc (talk) 17:11, 9 February 2021 (UTC)

Thank you @Csisc. I have made some edits, basically to simplify language. I have also removed the last sentence where you were combining your idea with regional seats. I think it confused and otherwise clear idea. Please review. When the page is ready, we will remove the draft template, mark the page for translation, and list your idea in the usual places. Qgil-WMF (talk) 21:34, 9 February 2021 (UTC)
Qgil-WMF: This is excellent. Feel free to add more significant edits if this is required. --Csisc (talk) 12:51, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
@Csisc Idea accepted in the call for feedback and listed in the usual places.
What about moving this discussion to its Talk page? People landing there directly will be surely interested in this conversations, and it is likely that many will miss it here. Qgil-WMF (talk) 22:31, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
@Qgil-WMF: I agree. This discussion is interesting. --Csisc (talk) 11:15, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
This seems to me to be doubling down - the existence of appointed seats is primarily to ensure the provision of certain vital skillsets. Specifying that some of the Community seats must also use that (and, in doing so, massively truncate the potential pool of candidates - probably to less than 10% of the already small pool capable of winning community approval) Nosebagbear (talk) 10:04, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
You're right, that's the only reason for the appointed seats, if this would be already included ion the elected seats, there is no reason any longer for appointed seats. On the other hand: this is quite intrusive for the election of the proper seats, so I'll stick with the appointed seats and give more leeway for the elections. And of course, there have to be proper elections, with only legal vetting by anyone in the WMF, the communities (and up to a certain degree as well affiliates) are after all the highest entity in the Wikiverse, the WMF is just a servant of the communities. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 10:27, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Nosebagbear, Sänger ♫: The reason you have provided is the main one that I considered to develop this proposal. It is nonsense to appoint several skilled capacities outside the Wikimedia Community as these people have limited ideas about how Wikimedia Projects have evolved. Currently, skilled people in the community are currently organized in specialized Wikimedia communities (e.g. Wikimedia Medicine, Wikimedia GLAM User Group, Wikimedia and Libraries User Group, Wikimedia Tool Developers Group and Wiki World Heritage User Group) and can be easily identified there. What I propose is to substitute some of the Appointed Seats by several elected seats from specialized Wikimedia affiliates. --Csisc (talk) 12:51, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Thanks, I hadn't followed your link before, but it really makes sense. I only would take those seats away from the less legitimate appointed ones, as those are the seats, that exist now exactly for that purpose, not from the community seats. The community seats, that could onclude aff-seats, though affs are not the community, at most a small part of it with more or less connection to the real communities, the online editors of the content. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 15:58, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
@Csisc: that might hold up for GLAM, but I wouldn't say it holds up for either Legal or Economics .Even within that, while it would be a skillset that encouraged me to vote for someone, I still wouldn't say it was so critical as to reduce the number of individuals who best represent the Community generally Nosebagbear (talk)
Nosebagbear, Sänger ♫: Here, many options can be chosen. We can select nominations for the chairs directly from the Community. For example, we can include a University Degree or a practical experience as a requirement. --Csisc (talk) 18:08, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
When was the last time we elected a candidate without either a degree or useful practical experience? Nosebagbear (talk) 18:14, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
The only member of the board that got ditched without any proper reason given was one with a very high degree and good standing and community vetting, while another one, with completely unsuitable behaviour for our organisation, was appointed by the board at the same time. I trust the communities more then the board/WMFers, so less appointments and more elections will eb beneficent. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 18:46, 10 February 2021 (UTC)
Nosebagbear, Sänger ♫: This is not what I meant. You asked about how to accept nominations for a specialization seat. Let us consider the example of a seat for a developer. Here, we can consider all the members of Wikimedia Tool Developers Group and Technology Department as eligible. Another option is to consider the people having a B.Sc. or B.A. in Computer Science or that have research publications in the field as eligible. This has nothing to do about the high standing of the already appointed people in the Board. What I propose is that the Board identifies its specialized needs and that this chair should be assigned to someone with proper wiki experience and relevant standings through election. Another point I should raise here is that WMF employees did not evolve as board members for years although they have a long wiki experience. This can alter their work motivation when they get promoted as the Head of their WMF Department as this seems to be the highest position they can have inside Wikimedia Foundation. Specialization Seats can solve this matter as well. --Csisc (talk) 11:11, 11 February 2021 (UTC)

Take it from the appointed seats[edit]

The appointed seats are there for exactly that purpose, so these seats should be taken from the contingent of the appointed seats. The community seats have the main purpose to let the highest entity in the Wikiverse, the online communities, have the majority, and it's for them only to decide in open elections, how to do that. So did youu propose to diminish the community seats for this specialisation seats, instead of using those for appointed seats for this purpose? Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 05:15, 11 February 2021 (UTC)

The idea itself is mostly important. The seats can take the six appointed seats as it can take three appointed seats and three community seats. --Csisc (talk) 11:13, 11 February 2021 (UTC)
What are appointed seat good for, if not for exact this reason? They have absolutely no other right to exist. The only reason not to have all seats elected by the most superior entity in the Wikverse, the online communities, are missing specialisations. If these will already be dealt with in the election process, there is no further need for any appointments. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 16:38, 22 February 2021 (UTC)

Oppose[edit]

I find this proposal overly deterministic. No doubt there are talented people in Wikimedia Medicine and the development community with things to contribute. No doubt there are talented people in other corners of the movement as well. Favoring one particular skill set over another is largely a matter of personal opinion.

In general I think the importance of 'skills' has been over-emphasized in this consultation (not just in this proposal). More precisely they've been conflated with 'hard' skills. Those are good to have, but the Board is inherently a generalist body. Trustees have to make an independent decision on every issue that comes up. They can't simply contribute when their field of expertise comes up and nod along the rest of the time. We're looking for people with soft skills and you can't reduce those to a checkbox. --RaiderAspect (talk) 07:03, 15 February 2021 (UTC)

RaiderAspect: Soft skills are needed for every single member of the WMF Board of Trustees no matter the method of his-her inclusion. This is a must-be for a given member disregarding what his-her hard skills are. The choice behind recruiting people with hard skills and advanced wiki experience to the WMF Board of Trustees is prevent making decisions that are not feasable in practice. This is actually what happened where Branding and Strategy decisions have been taken. You presumably know how Branding and Strategy decisions have been controversial and seen as deficient by the overall Wikimedia Community. The general trend of emphasizing hard skills are occurring in this context. However, this is not the only reason behind Specialization Seats. WMF Employees have never been promoted as members of the Steering Committee. This is quite deficient because these workers can be demotivated when they see that they cannot reach leadership inside the Wikimedia Foundation. Solving this matter can enhance the output of WMF Teams and Boards. --Csisc (talk) 16:41, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

a Seat to defend Digital freedoms?[edit]

If I understand what we are doing here, it would be nice to see a Digital freedom defender seat or something amazing like that :) This is not necessarily related to Tech, and not necessarily related to the development of something new or something nerdy. It is often simply linked to promote everyday good practices and respect others (even if minorities). Related to Wikimedia Forum#Please no Google Form :) Apologies for cross-posting or if unrelated. --Valerio Bozzolan (talk) 12:06, 15 February 2021 (UTC)

Valerio Bozzolan: You are absolutely right. This is the point. --Csisc (talk) 15:20, 16 February 2021 (UTC)

"American lawyer" seat[edit]

The Foundation is a legal entity incorporated under Florida law. A lot of misunderstanding and mistaken expectations towards what the Board can do, cannot do, and ought to do stems from the failure to recognize that at the end of the day, the Foundation is still thoroughly an American institution, governed under American law and having its greatest threats coming from American legislations and public policies. It stands to reason that one of these specialized seats to be reserved for someone who has an understanding of, at the very least, American legal system; or preferably, law of Florida. If I am not mistaken, the only Trustee in the past that has background in American law was Kat Walsh, who is an attorney in the bar of the state of Virginia. An "American lawyer" seat could serve as a good anchor towards the diversity of experience and skills coming from the rest of the Trustees. You don't need four American lawyers on the board; one is more than enough. dwf² 10:20, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

dwf²: Interesting point. Thank you. --Csisc (talk) 20:02, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

Adjusted Proposal: Objective and data-driven evaluation of the wiki engagement of Board Candidates[edit]

Dear all,

I thank you for your opinions regarding this community proposal. Taken into consideration the skeptical opinions towards my "Specialized Seats" proposal, I decided to reformulate into a more conventional proposal that prevents the following points:

  • Conflicts of interest between the Board of Trustees and WMF Departments
  • The conflict of quotas between the types of chair in the Board
  • Having an Excessively Inclusive WMF Board
  • The difficulty of assessing skills and qualifications

The new proposal keeps the composition of the Board of Trustees as it currently is. However, it imposes the verification of the wiki engagement of each Board Candidate (Appointed and Elected Seats). This can be simply done using the Global Account Information, Special:Block Log and Global User Contributions of the Board Candidates as well as the verification of the outcomes of the WMF grant proposals filled by the candidate. Such a process is objective and can be done in a nutshell without having to assign a committee for that. --Csisc (talk) 17:04, 20 February 2021 (UTC)

Specialization should be used for appointed seats only[edit]

2 members in the Egypt user group said that Specialization should be used for appointed seats only. This should be the purpose of having appointed seats in the first place, to have people with the required expertise to decide for the foundation and to appoint people with the missing skills and qualifications needed by the board.Ravan (WMF) (talk) 11:02, 22 February 2021 (UTC)

Collected Feedback about Specialization seats from the second weekly report[edit]

The facilitation team was thinking it might be helpful to share the feedback pertaining to each idea on each idea's talk page. Here is the feedback from the second weekly report covering February 8 - 15 as this idea came up after the first week of the Call for Feedback. The facilitation team has revised the reporting procedure for weekly reports after feedback received from the community regarding the weekly reports. Specialization seats

This proposal was suggested by Csisc to increase specialists on the Board (legal, economist, linguist, GLAM) by replacing some appointed seats with elected specialist seats saying having such people on the Board is key for the development of Wikimedia Governance.

  • One person said appointed seats should be used to fill skill needs and think this might reduce the pool of candidates.
  • Some people said qualifications are not an issue for community-elected Board members as all previous ones have been well-qualified.
  • Everyone at a North Africa Wikimedia community meeting disagrees with this idea. They said there could be an advisory committee with experts instead.
  • One person in the Spanish Telegram chat said this idea will only work with training since access to education is different globally. Another in the chat said this proposal is less inclusive because of this. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ravan (WMF) (talk) 12:23, 22 February 2021


Collected Feedback about Specialization seats from the third weekly report[edit]

  • At the WikiBlind Community meeting, a volunteer said what the Board would also need is  servant leadership and must dedicate their time to really rally behind projects.
  • At the German Wiki Women conversation one person said diversity was clearly ranked as more important than broad and vaguely-defined skills.
  • A Wikimedia Thailand lead said for the nomination, Board and the community should come together to discuss who is the potential candidate with specialized skills and invite them to participate. But for regional seat candidates, they can nominate themselves.
  • One person noted skills have been overemphasized and the Board should be a generalist body.

Ravan (WMF) (talk) 09:09, 25 February 2021 (UTC)