Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Board-delegated Selection Committee

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In my opinion (s)elections for community- and affiliate seats of the Board of Trustees should be entirely organized, designed and run by the community, without involvement of the Board or staff of the WMF. The Board appoints the candidates selected by the community. Half of the board seats are appointed by the Board, and that is more than enough. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 10:46, 3 February 2021 (UTC)

I'm not sure it's possible for volunteers to run a poll with tens of thousands of votes. The expertise to use the SecurePoll extension let alone modify it only exists within the WMF. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 20:57, 3 February 2021 (UTC)

Opposed[edit]

So if I understand this proposal correctly, we would stop having elections entirely. The "community" candidates would be assessed by a committee made up of community members and existing board members, and then appointed. This option would be a disaster for the relationship between the community and the WMF. Under no circumstances should it be adopted. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 21:19, 3 February 2021 (UTC)

Hi Chris Keating (The Land), Let me see if I understand where this makes you feel uncomfortable. On the idea page it states: "The Elections Committee is entirely selected by the Board (specifically, by the Board Governance Committee), but the Selection Committee would be at least partially selected via community election." Are you opposed because not enough of the committees involved are appointed from the community through community processes or is it that you are adamant about voting? Also, if you don't mind, could you expand a bit more on how you see this change as being (I'll quote you so I don't misrepresent your words) "a disaster for the relationship between the community and the WMF?" Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 22:24, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
Hi Jackie. Direct election by community members to the WMF board is vital to trust between the WMF and the community. This was seen pretty clearly in the Fram Ban situation the other summer, where the fact that angry community members had board members they knew, trusted and most importantly *had elected into office* was vital to reassure them that the WMF knew about and was paying attention to their concerns. The outcome in terms of volunteer disengagement and reduced trust might have been much worse if this was not the case. Indirect election would be a very poor replacement. Also I can't see the election of a Selection Committee attracting anything like the level of engagement. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 18:08, 6 February 2021 (UTC)

JKoerner (WMF), I'd like to point out that Chris Keating, above, would be a Board member right now[1] had the Board been one seat larger for the last election. The top three candidates were elected, and he came in fourth. His comment should be considered particularly noteworthy.
I would like to continue by saying I have a lot of experience informally representing the community, and experience in a formal role evaluating and issuing consensus of the community. Not only do I agree with his comments, I would say the community is broadly in agreement. There have been repeated bad relations between the Foundation and Community - so bad that I have repeatedly seen serious consideration of abandoning the Wikimedia Foundation and seeking new hosting for Wikipedia. The proposals here threaten to badly escalate the already bad relationship. This call for feedback basically proposes a choice between fraudulent elections or fraudulent elections. To illustrate, Iran supposedly has a democratically elected president. However the Iranian Supreme Clerics decide who is or is not allowed to be a candidate. The election for president is therefore functionally a sham. It doesn't matter whether there would be a Board-delegated selection committee or a community-elected selection committee. It doesn't matter whether it would be "Election of confirmed candidates" or "Direct appointment of confirmed candidates". Either way it would be a move to prohibit the community from voting for the candidate(s) it considers best for the job.
The community has already proven that it is eagerly willing to elect women to the board. I believe the community is also abundantly willing to elect candidates from Global South regions. The reason we haven't been electing Global South candidates is because few such candidates have run for the position, and because those few have lacked remotely comparable qualifications. The board can vet candidates for compliance with Fiduciary duties of care & good faith, loyalty, and obedience to the mission and any other legal qualifications, and it can advise on any other desirable characteristics or qualifications. However the Board's current status and actions are already viewed as having dubious legitimacy, given that the Board's elected term has expired. There would be a backlash if the Board now attempted to terminate or delegitimize any future elections.
I understand your job is to summarize the feedback. I hope I have been clear and credible, and I hope you make the situation appropriately clear in any summary you provide. I'm happy to answer any questions or somehow assist if I can, just ping me. Alsee (talk) 11:31, 13 February 2021 (UTC)
  • As Chris. This should not happen, the community will not feel represented by the people selected this way — NickK (talk) 11:41, 6 February 2021 (UTC)
  • Any election should be done by the electorate themselves, and definitely no meddling by some members of the board. They should have no involvement beyond giving one vote each, like any other member if the community. If the board/WMF usurps even more power from the legitimate possessors of this power, the online communities, the estrangement of the detached WMF with the real Wikiverse will be deepened even more. The WMF has to make considerably steps towards the communities after all the actions it took against them in the past, and such an inbreeding sham will not go well with those that get stripped of their legitimate rights. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 12:35, 6 February 2021 (UTC)

Oppose[edit]

Selection seems overrated, in general. If national governments and corporate boards can be populated without selection committees, then it seems like the WMF should be able to populate the board without one as well.

One of the main reasons for having an elected board is so that the community has a check on the Foundation. If the Foundation isn't going in a direction the community approves of, the community can replace the board, and then rely on the new board to right the ship. Regular free and fair elections serve as valuable safety valves - it provides a way for the community to impose its will on the Foundation that's less damaging to the mission than editor or administrator strike, like the one that occurred at en:WP:FRAM.

I'd think the range of possibilities for a Board-delegated selection committee ranges from the trivial (they select the same people the community would have), to something that could harm the movement by making it more difficult for the community to replace a Board that's lost sight of the community's goals. It also opens the possibility for the committee to be accused of (or actually conduct) shenanigans, and that['s not something that would add to the process. TomDotGov (talk) (hold the election) 02:27, 5 February 2021 (UTC)

Hi TomDotGov, Might I ask for clarification? Is your opposition to this idea about the committees and how they're suggested to be composed or because you're adamant about voting? Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 22:31, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
The committee is unnecessary, as similar organizations do not use them for community appointments to their boards. It'd be actively harmful to the mission, as they partially remove a check on the Board, making the withdrawal of volunteer labor one of the few checks remaining. There's a place for evaluating it someone is eligible for the board (where the state requires it, but it's important that people that the current board considers unsuited, but the community sees as qualified, be allowed to serve.
Probably the way I'd think about it is that if the current board of a company or charity were allowed to decide if their replacements are suitable for their positions, or were able to delegate this to a committee they control, things like proxy battles wouldn't be possible. Since you do see the boards of companies and charities being selected through proxy or community voting, it's clearly possible for that to happen. Just looking at things like the bylaws of the American Red Cross and IBM, they tend to want to ensure that the elected board is independent, and that the candidate meet minimal standards, but allowing the current board to filter candidates they dislike would make community board seats a sham. (And would disempower volunteer labor.) TomDotGov (talk) (hold the election) 00:31, 6 February 2021 (UTC)

How to avoid a second Doc James disaster?[edit]

This looks for me, as if nothing was learned from the disaster, the board inflicted on itself, as it acted active against the community to remove a board member in good community standing without any proper reason from the board, obviously because he dared to oppose. Here is the wikimedia-l starting post about this complete disgrace for the board. Stuff like that must never ever happen again, thtere have to be more safeguards for the community against such bad behaviour by the board members conspiring against the communities. Having a board-selected Selection Committee is just the opposite of that, it's even more removal of power from the highest entity in the Wikiverse, the online communities, to some pure serving agency with no legitimate power on its own, the WMF and some bureaucrats.
Such anti-wikimedian actions like the forceful removal of a community member against the communities must be prohibited by any future rules, those, who inflicted that bad stuff on the board must be reprimanded for those anti-wikimedian deeds. The board mus always act as a enabler for the communities, it's only purpose is to solve them.
Every selection process must be done by the community, may be with delegation in a democratic way, but not by the elected bodies themselves, that's just a way to support cronyism. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 09:59, 6 February 2021 (UTC)

Hi there, Sänger, Thanks for your feedback. I have included your feedback in the first weekly report, including the situation you mentioned about Doc James summarized as: "Several contributors mentioned the removal of James Heilman in 2015 and want to prevent similar situations from happening again." Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 22:03, 12 February 2021 (UTC)

Oppose, no selection committee[edit]

Any "Selection Committee" would be, at best, disruptive pure bureaucracy. However it appears to be far worse than that, if it is intended to prohibit free election of legally-qualified candidates.

Any committee just creates a bureaucratic two-layer process which only multiples the opportunity for breakage or dysfunction or abuse. There is no possible process for creating a committee that would magically be better than the process for electing the candidates themselves. Alsee (talk) 06:30, 13 February 2021 (UTC)

Collected feedback on "Board-delegated Selection Committee" from the first weekly report[edit]

Here follows the collected feedback on the idea, "Board-delegated Selection Committee" from the first weekly report covering the call for feedback during February 1-7:

  • It is important to the community for the board members to be people they know, trust, and elect into office.
  • A selection committee might not attract the same level of engagement as other elections.
  • Board members selected this way will not represent the community.
  • A selection committee seems to be unnecessary.
  • This would remove too much from the community.

Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. KCVelaga (WMF) (talk) 18:38, 18 February 2021 (UTC)

Collected feedback on "Board-delegated Selection Committee" from the second weekly report[edit]

Here follows the collected feedback on the idea, "Board-delegated Selection Committee" from the second weekly report covering the call for feedback during February 8-14:

Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. KCVelaga (WMF) (talk) 18:38, 18 February 2021 (UTC)

Collected feedback on "Board-delegated Selection Committee" from the third weekly report[edit]

Here follows the collected feedback on the idea, "Board-delegated Selection Committee", from the third weekly report covering the call for feedback during February 15-21:

Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. KCVelaga (WMF) (talk) 11:25, 25 February 2021 (UTC)


Collected feedback on "Board-delegated Selection Committee" from the fourth weekly report[edit]

Here follows the collected feedback on the idea, "Board-delegated Selection Committee", from the fourth weekly report covering the call for feedback during February 22-28: Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

6 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. DBarthel (WMF) (talk) 16:28, 4 March 2021 (UTC)

Collected feedback on "Board-delegated Selection Committee" from the fifth weekly report[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 6 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • One member of the Elections Committee considers that with this type of idea, you end up having the same problem of diversity on the board, except now it is the selection committee’s problem to solve.
  • Another member of the Elections Committee suggests that a hypothetical selection committee might cause important disagreements, and be seen as taking power away from the community.
  • Some Wikidata volunteers felt that any kind of committee with a limited number of people can introduce a lot of bias into the process of selection compared to elections, as it “is a basic human tendency to favour people who are similar to us.”

Bachounda (WMF) (talk) 13:48, 15 March 2021 (UTC)


Collected feedback on "Board-delegated Selection Committee" from the sixth weekly report[edit]

Here follows the collected feedback on the idea, "Board-delegated Selection Committee", from the sixth weekly report covering the call for feedback during March 8 - 14.: Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 6 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page.

  • A Nepali volunteer felt this approach is better because it puts the onus of ensuring diversity on the Board, rather than on the election process. The committee thus formed should shortlist candidates and present evaluations before the voting process begins.

Please reach out if you have any questions or comments. DBarthel (WMF) (talk) 20:42, 17 March 2021 (UTC)