This is my full, privately issued, personal statement to support my candidacy in the 2007 Wikimedia Foundation Board elections. If after reading my statement you have questions, please leave them for me here and I will endeavour to answer them as soon as possible.
Since this page details my personal platform for an election, I must take the unusual step of requesting that it not be edited except by myself. Thank you.
I want to see a stronger and more democratic Foundation, better guidance and assistance for volunteers, and a sharpened focus on our core goals.
The basic principle that each wiki manages its own affairs is sound, but we need to improve significantly our central management and our cross-project coordination. The Foundation needs to be stronger, in terms of its vision, its leadership of our volunteer community, its brand, and its accountability.
My action plan
As a Board member, I will advocate, and help prepare, a roadmap for our future development. I will, if allowed, become personally involved in expanding our reach into the newly emerging economies and improving collaboration and idea-sharing between wikis. We have much to learn from each other! I will happily work alongside all fellow board members, whilst respectfully promoting my view that all board members should be elected. I don't believe there is a place for a "King" in a grassroots organisation such as ours although I will go on record and say that I personally would vote for Mr Wales in a Board election.
Our goals, vision, and brand; quality counts
Wikipedia is our most famous product; a free encyclopaedia for every person on the planet our ultimate, and very noble, goal. We must never lose sight of this goal, nor must we forget that by "encyclopaedia" we mean a high quality reference work, not a soapbox, free web host, or socio-political tool. The board must consider whether some of our sites are too peripheral to our main goal, and if they are, let them spin off as independent entities. We should also not hesitate in closing down wikis which have only a handful of contributors; quality must come first.
Larger, more established wikis such as the English and German Wikipedias need advice and encouragement to take them to the next level. Here is not the place to list the deficiencies of our existing flagship sites, and there is only so much the Foundation can do to rectify matters, but let’s not pretend our project is flawless. Whilst we have achieved volume in articles and editors, we do not have across-the-board quality.
The Foundation must promote emphatically our principles and goals, and encourage the creation of high quality, Featured content. We may even make radical proposals to individual wikis such as a moratorium on new articles or a Featured Article drive, but the Board should only ever advise and encourage on these issues - it must not issue mandates. I’m still a firm believer that the community knows best.
As a brand, we must, with the help of our volunteer communities, construct a small set of non-negotiable principles or values - principles such as freedom to edit, no original research, and a welcoming environment for editors. We already have many helpful policies along these lines and a clear mission statement; let us shape these into a clear brand identity and let this be the vision we present to the world.
It's pleasing to see that discussion is already under way regarding the name of our brand and related issues. If elected to the Board, I will ensure that we consider the results of the survey carefully.
Infrastructure and support
A solid Foundation infrastructure needs to be supported by a larger number of hired staff. I would prefer to see these people being recruited from within our community and from a variety of backgrounds.
We need to be more proactive in informing wikis of legal issues, and we should provide a contact point for administrators to get assistance. I’ve lost count of the number of times we at the English Wikipedia have been faced with a complex issue we don’t know how to deal with, whilst the Foundation has remained silent.
It should go without saying that we need to work tirelessly on fundraising. Such is the size of our project, we need to be seeking large donations from corporations and charitable trusts, as well as investigating other revenue avenues. Whilst we have some staff working on this already, we need to consider appointing a full or part time fundraising coordinator.
Of the utmost importance is our international reach. We must promote Wikipedia in emerging countries and we must expand beyond our current hotspots of Europe and North America; in particular we seem to be under-achieving in South East Asia, a region where literacy rates are high and an increasing number of people have internet access. The Recent Changes of the Thai and Malay Wikipedias, for example, are both rather disappointing. Whilst China remains mostly out of reach, we should also be targetting Hong Kong and Taiwan. To this end I'm delighted to see that the next Wikimania meeting is in Tapei, Taiwan.
We need to strengthen ties between different wikis. I'm not sure how, but I know meta doesn't help much in this regard. What I do know for a fact that we have wonderful, inventive, friendly and clever people throughout the various language sites but, alas, communication between the separate projects is seriously lacking.
I have been a Wikipedian for 2 years. During that time, I have become an administrator on the English Wikipedia and a developer of the wiki browser, AWB. More importantly, I've helped write featured content and made many new friends around the world. I love this project and wish to help it even more. I take the Wikimedia project very seriously indeed, but I don't let that stop me having fun and enjoying it too. Electing me to the board will in no way end my contributions to AWB, my self-deprecating humour, or my humble editing and admin activities .
I am the epitome of "ordinary"; I come from a working class British family and live on a small family farm in England. However, I have experience in a similar role to Board member of the Wikimedia Foundation, having been a member of the Student Union Council and the Finance Committee at Brunel University, of which I am now an Honorary Life Member. Like Wikimedia, the Students' Union was a volunteer run charitable organisation with a substantial turnover (from it's commercial operations); the Finance Committee was responsible for every penny of this income and expenditure and, in line with all Union institutions, was run entirely by elected students with advice from professionals. My internet experience predates the world wide web, and my first contributions to the world of free software (Linux tools) came over 10 years ago. I am also well travelled.
I would relish the opportunity to further improve Wikimedia and Wikipedia, and invite you to vote for me in the forthcoming Board election. If you've read this far, congratulations on your perseverance and thank you for your time!