Talk:Wikimedia Foundation elections/2022/Candidate guidelines

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Rule queries[edit]

Hi @MNadzikiewicz (WMF):, could you publish ElectCom's reasoning for these candidate rules, either in a subpage or just as a new section at the bottom?

Many are obvious and a clear positive. But a couple aren't immediately clear why they're there. The Publish individual campaign materials regarding their candidacy during the community voting period. - it seems to hinder candidates who are organised enough to do a more detailed policy laying out. As well as providing more information to make decisions off, it's also beneficial in its own right - knowing which (if any) candidates have time to provide such reviews and the knowledge/transparency to do so is helpful in its own right. Nosebagbear (talk) 09:02, 25 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi there, Nosebagbear! Let me see if I can offer some clarification since I've worked with the Elections Committee over the past year to clarify some of the questions around election guidelines.
During the 2021 election, candidates expressed there were not clear guidelines. These new guidelines were developed to provide clarity of old guidelines and provide clearer understanding for everyone involved.
My understanding of why "Publish individual campaign materials regarding their candidacy during the community voting period" is a guideline is because voting has started. Some of the Board Selection Task Force members and the Elections Committee noted campaigning once voting has began is not allowed in their countries. One member noted publishing material during the voting period might serve to confuse voters by adding in information during a time when voters should be able to reflect on the information and make clear choices. If this does not answer your question, do let me know and I can try to get more context. Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 20:56, 28 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@JKoerner (WMF) firstly, thank you for the response, it's appreciated. Would that (reducing voter confusion) not be the opposite of the case? When we get to the actual community voting period (as opposed to affiliate selectors), the majority of individuals voting will only notice when the vote is actually ongoing - as indicated by all previous votes on this scale (whether WMF or Community led). If they have any questions that aren't answered by an editor's already written content, the only way to reduce content is to get updated material - currently prohibited.
Thus too, campaigning generally. Our online votes are more akin to the postal-vote window, rather than the on-the-day voting. Very few countries, if any, prohibit all campaigning for any period where you can postal vote (often a month in advance).
Beyond that particular question - where did these get consulted on (especially since some rules affect, or try to affect, communities directly, not merely candidates)? If it's 2021 election feedback it was presumably gathered most of a year ago, so there's been plenty of time, not needing ElectCom direct decisions - i know there wasn't anything on the ElectCom talk page, but was there another on-wiki location I missed? Nosebagbear (talk) 21:14, 28 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with everything Nosebagbear said and would just add that if the elections committee and board selection task force intend to impose restrictions based on their national laws, it would be better if they did not lack representation from three continents. Emufarmers (talk) 00:27, 2 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi there, Nosebagbear and Emufarmers, Thanks for your comments. I honestly cannot say regarding creating voter confusion. I suppose we will have to see how this election goes and the community can make recommendations accordingly.
The guidelines have their foundation from the previous election guidelines. Several candidates from the 2021 Board of Trustees election had some feedback about the candidate experience. Some event organizers reached out about the elections and their events. The Board Selection Task Force and the Elections Committee used this feedback to develop these guidelines.
I do remember the Elections Committee discussions about these guidelines. My personal feeling is that they know these guidelines will adapt as appropriate. I do encourage you to share your feedback about this on their talk page. I can also include any feedback you post there in the 2022 Board of Trustees election Post-Analysis report. Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 22:40, 11 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@JKoerner (WMF) Hi Jackie - you must see our point, it's not a consultation if the only feedback is after the fact. We have also repeatedly engaged on their talk page and never received feedback directly from committee members to queries, so I'm reticent to invest further effort without the guarantee of it this time. There was plenty of time to do consultation on proposed rules - en-wiki's arbcom election fits a major review in every year without any support and a less important election to warrant it. Nosebagbear (talk) 22:48, 11 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Nosebagbear, I do hear you. The difference this year is there is support for the Elections Committee. I am not sure the Elections Committee thought about doing a wide consultation. I can certainly bring this suggestion to them. I'll take time to review En arbcom election processes and see what learnings I can capture from those processes. Do you have a link you recommend I start with? Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 23:01, 11 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@JKoerner (WMF): the two relevant pages are an example of an ACERfC (arbcom elections RfC) - last year's - fewer significant changes than many years and the list of all active ACERFC decisions (Things like our tranche system have been amended numerous times, so it's just the most recent set). Obviously I'm not proposing that the base structure of BOT elections be handled in the same way that arbcom elections can be restructured so easily - but our "operating rules" could be done in a similar fashion. Nosebagbear (talk) 23:20, 11 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Comments and concerns[edit]

I get the aim of these rules is probably a levelling of the playing field for candidates in a variety of ways and reducing canvassing. The current draft does though contain contradictions, loopholes, and the potential for overreach or abuse of these rules. Whilst these have been produced in good faith and all sit within the remit of the committee, as written they give a negative appearance of increased gatekeeping in the election processes without explanation. Clarification on the issues below would be appreciated, and it would be good to explicitly state what the general aim and goals are of these rules are. It would aid in framing them and would greatly aid accurate perceptions.

  • Answer selected questions from affiliates and community members.
  • Only the selected questions? Or is the option open to candidates answering all questions if they desire as occurred last year?
  • Link to additional pages in their application statement.
  • Feels overly restrictive. We are looking for candidates to clearly show they have a grasp of a variety of areas relating to governance and fiscal oversight, equity, technology, strategy etc. Having this limited to 150 words without backing these up I think is problematic.
  • Linking allows candidates to cite and back up the veracity of their claims whether that be claimed experiences etc. As it stands, this prevents that and there is a certain irony in it as a knowledge movement that we should correct.
  • As noted above, are you preventing candidates from linking to the full gamut of questions submitted by community members as occurred in the last election cycle?
  • Does this rule apply to their responding of questions?
  • Candidates must not: Attend Board of Trustees election-oriented community meet-ups without prior approval from the Elections Committee.
  • is especially draconian since it removes the ability of communities to self-organise and it feels like a bit of an overreach without any basis in consensus.
  • an unintended outcome of this is that it affords the election committee the ability to pick and choose who could attend community organised events.
  • Campaign at Wikimania, or other community events as decided by the event organizer.
  • vague in the definition of "campaign".
  • Is showing up to a public venue campaigning? Is taking a policy position in a public venue campaigning? Is getting the vote out campaigning? None of these should be the outcome of this restriction but all could be perceived as campaigning.
  • This leaves the door open to events able to deliberately exclude legitimate candidates from attending hustings which feels exceptionally problematic from the perspective of fairness.
  • This rule also undermines the earlier rule of

Attend Board of Trustees election-oriented community meet-ups without prior approval from the Elections Committee.

since it allows the potential for candidates to campaign at generic events with the permission of the organiser but without approval of the election committee.
  • It would be preferable to encourage formal community organised sessions to be open to all members and describing how such sessions can be run in fair and equitable manner.
  • Does this rule apply to non-candidates or affiliate organisations?
  • Publish individual campaign materials regarding their candidacy during the community voting period.
  • Does this, or perhaps should this, apply to both the affiliate and online community periods? Feels odd to permit campaigning during one voting period and not the other.
  • Similar to above what is the definition of campaign materials? Does include posting any position on any movement issue?
  • Does this permit or prevent the private sending of materials by candidates to individuals or organisations?
  • Does this rule apply to non-candidates or affiliate organisations?

Seddon (talk) 13:57, 25 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Excellent, more detailed points, Seddon Nosebagbear (talk) 14:50, 25 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To add some actual ElectCom members - @KTC, HakanIST, and Carlojoseph14: Nosebagbear (talk) 12:50, 26 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi there, Seddon! Thanks for asking these questions. As I worked with the Elections Committee over the past year to clarify some of these guidelines, let me see if I can offer you some context.

"Answer selected questions from affiliates and community members."
As you mentioned, some of these guidelines are to make space for equity in our community. Available volunteer hours are limited for some members of the community more than others. This guideline was to clearly let candidates know they are expected to answer questions from the community and affiliates, but not an exhaustive list. This appreciates the candidates' time as well as the community members' time. Reading responses to questions can take quite a lot of time, especially for people reading in their non-native language.

"Link to additional pages in their application statement."
This is actually a legacy guideline from previous Board elections. My personal understanding is this applies to the candidate application, meaning I can't say, "I'm Jackie Koerner..." and so on until my word limit, and then link to another page to continue talking about how amazing I am, thus skirting the word limit. (smile)

"Candidates must not: Attend Board of Trustees election-oriented community meet-ups without prior approval from the Elections Committee."
I do understand how this guideline could concern you in this way. I believe it's meant to keep the Elections Committee aware of meetings that are happening and keep the election processes as equitable as possible. I do not have the understanding that the Elections Committee would "pick and choose who could attend community organised events."

"Campaign at Wikimania, or other community events as decided by the event organizer."
I believe the intention of this guideline is to reduce the distraction and disruption of the events. The organizers of Wikimania have asked in 2021 and in 2022 that the candidates not campaign during Wikimania. The Elections Committee and Board Selection Task Force decided to extend this to other events as well and allow the event organizers to make the appropriate decision for their events.

"Publish individual campaign materials regarding their candidacy during the community voting period."
I replied to Nosebagbear above regarding this. Please see my response there.

These responses are of course just my understanding of this process and my observations. Certainly these guidelines are a first update to election guidelines in quite some time. They are not perfect and might need to be adjusted and modified as they are applied in practice. Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 21:29, 28 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • The candidate page already advised candidates in the language from previous elections: "You may not link your application or statements to lists of endorsements or other platform pages. You may not run on a slate with other candidates." Because the bullet point here uses a different, broader wording, a reasonable reader would assume it imposes a broader restriction. Of course, the candidate pages have already been published, highlighting the absurdity of the committee's attempt to impose new rules in the middle of the election.
  • If the committee is only interested in being aware of what's happening, it should ask for notification, not approval.
  • If the committee had posted the guidelines during the many months leading up to the election, the community could have offered feedback in a low-pressure environment, and you would not be in the position of having to tell us how the committee did not actually mean the things it wrote. Emufarmers (talk) 00:10, 2 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have reached out to the Election Committee for additional clarity around the "must not...Campaign at Wikimania" rule (mostly what @Seddon already asked). Legoktm (talk) 23:05, 11 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Too late[edit]

The time to set rules for campaigning was before the election, not during it. For this election, candidates should be free to operate under the same norms of common sense that have guided our elections for nearly 20 years. Emufarmers (talk) 02:32, 26 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi there, Emufarmers! Thanks for taking the time to review the election guidelines. I'll be sure to pass along your feedback to the Elections Committee and Board Selection Task Force. Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 21:30, 28 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The members of the committee and the task force should be reading this page themselves. Emufarmers (talk) 00:10, 2 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This. ElectCom people are long term members of the community (those I know very well too) and I expect them to be able to read the page themselves. It somewhat feels like they have a gag order from WMF prohibiting from commenting themselves and must go through some WMF intermediary? Otherwise it doesn't add up that they are this silent. — regards, Revi 01:03, 8 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@-revi well, either they have a process that's preventing them from communicating with us or they are being insufficiently communicative off their own choices. A recent email in wikimedia-l by a member offers that it might be the second. However that would be equally unacceptable - even a "conventional" admin on en-wiki would be required to explain their actions in detail if asked - those responsible for running the BOT (and other) elections must be under an even higher obligation of transparency and communication.
In short form, no-one should really hold the position if you aren't both able and willing to talk to the community (to the limits of language ability) about it. Nosebagbear (talk) 13:38, 8 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I highly doubt there's anything stopping the committee from communicating. They've just chosen not to. As you say, it's all the more puzzling because the committee members are well-respected members of the community from whom we all would have expected better.
It's not as if this is new, either: Nosebagbear inquired about it last year and got a response from Jackie that there wasn't any other way to reach the committee. He inquired about it again this year, and got a response from board members that his complaints were valid, but it's too late (even though there were 9 months between these elections), so the committee terms are being extended for another year.
Given that the committee is in the position of a caretaker government, it does not have a mandate to impose new rules, let alone to do so at this time and in this manner. Emufarmers (talk) 00:58, 12 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi all, This discussion about the Candidate Guidelines is important. The Elections Committee can commit to publishing the Candidate Guidelines earlier in the election cycle next time. While the time when we published these guidelines for this election was not ideal, there were outstanding questions from 2021 we felt it was important to answer. Without clear guidelines, there can be misunderstandings and inequities introduced into the election process, which we are trying to address.

These Candidate Guidelines are not perfect and are certainly open for discussion. The feedback discussed here will be considered for the next election cycle.

As a volunteer committee, it can be hard to coordinate. We are discussing ways for the Elections Committee to be more responsive and better supportive of the election process now and in the future. Signed, Carlojoseph14 (talk) on behalf of The Elections Committee

Carlojoseph14,
  1. If whatever questions were outstanding were important, you (by which I mean everyone on the committee, not you specifically) would have answered them 10 months ago.
  2. Your guidelines are not clear, as has been amply demonstrated on this page and others.
  3. Since you have shown a willingness to make up new rules in the middle of this election, there is no reason you should wait until the election is over before adjusting or repealing them.
  4. I struggle to understand why it took 5 weeks for the committee to come up with what is largely "whoops, we'll do better next time. Trust us." Although, having served on a dysfunctional committee, I can sympathize with your situation, the election is not over, and this response is entirely inadequate. You are continuing to cause harm by having both abdicated your actual duties and arrogated to yourselves decisions that are not yours to make.
  5. Reluctantly, I have to suggest that we are at the point where the committee could be most supportive of the election process now by collectively resigning immediately. This hybrid model has proven to be a failure. The MSG team and the board selection task force can take over the rest of the election—since MSG is already handling all communications (and apparently some decisions), the front-end disruption will be minimal, while this will make for faster decisions and clearer lines of responsibility. Emufarmers (talk) 23:52, 4 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let me elaborate on this a bit, since calling for everyone on a committee to resign is not something to be done lightly.
Some of the duties of the committee, from their charter:
  • "To the extent possible, the Committee shall consult with the wider Wikimedia community in developing and revising election procedures within the scope of this charter."
The entire purpose of switching to a permanent committee, instead of having an ad-hoc one for each election, was to allow for planning to happen between elections, instead of right before or during them. And yet the committee has failed to do this. They had 9 months between the elections (making consultation both possible and easy) but waited until after this election began to publish these rules, preventing any meaningful community input. Even where input has been provided, the committee has expressly refused to consider it during the election ("The feedback discussed here will be considered for the next election cycle"), though it continues to modify the rules of the election.
  • "The Committee shall be a source of information to any member of the Wikimedia community interested in the community-and-affiliate selection processes of the Wikimedia Foundation...."
The committee has failed or refused to be a source of information (although this month it has been shamed into making a handful of replies). Anyone can scour the election talk pages searching in vain for responses from the committee to the many requests for information that have been made. As far as I can see, the committee has provided a grand total of six public responses during the course of this election (two of which were today): June 15 (mailing list), August 2, August 2, August 5 (podcast), August 11, August 11.
  • "...The Chair of the Committee can act as a spokesperson for the Committee as necessary."
Only one response has come through the person listed as the chair of the committee. I don't know whether it makes sense for the charter to be this restrictive, but this is what it says, and the committee ought to be following its own rules before it makes up rules for other people to follow.
  • "The Committee shall meet as often as needed, but not less than twice per year."
It is possible that the committee has done this, but they have not posted minutes in 2 and a half years, so we have no way of knowing. Unlike some committees, the elections committee's work (at least during the election planning stage) largely ought to be public, yet it has maintained a veil of secrecy.
If these issues were recent, it would make sense to give the committee a chance to remedy them. But the same issues were raised during the last election, and they were met with the same silence and smokescreens from the committee. It's too late. Emufarmers (talk) 18:09, 11 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have learned that the absence of recent minutes is in fact because the committee has not had a meeting in 2 and a half years—their one and only meeting was on the day they were appointed.
I will note that under the committee's original charter, in effect until May 17, they were only required to meet once per year. The decision by the board governance committee to double that requirement, knowing the elections committee was already long out of compliance, is puzzling and raises concerns about the relationship between the board and the elections committee. Emufarmers (talk) 23:49, 25 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Clarification about Office Hours from the Elections Committee[edit]

I am posting a summary result of a decision by the Elections Committee prompted by one candidate's request: "We have decided to not allow IRC events or private office hours. Events like this create an additional burden on candidates and pressure on those with less time to handle such things." Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 18:07, 28 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've replied to the Elections Committee since there seems to have been some misunderstanding for what I was asking about. I was asking to hold public office hours as an alternative to the now-canceled live events (which are still mentioned as a requirement on this page!). Legoktm (talk) 01:59, 29 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]