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Optional questions from Alecmconroy[edit]

Each question is meant to be 100% optional. Answer them in any order you like, skip any or all of them.

In virtually all cases, I do not know what the "right" answers are, and I don't know whether your answers will help people decide who to vote for or not. Rather, people who represent our community's best and brightest have all gathered in one place and are answering any questions-- why not take the opportunity to actually draw upon their collective wisdom? --Alecmconroy 15:17, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Is Wikimedia most like a library, a school, a museum? something else?
I think it's most like a library--with not just stacks of books and reference help, but also with classes and workshops and computer access and sometimes special museumlike collections. The library is the offline space for getting information and putting that information to practical use, open to the entire public, with community spaces, and a staff whose job is mostly curation, organization, and guidance, rather than a more directed experience.
  • Of the other candidates, who do you most support?
I always hate to answer questions like this! Anyone who's elected is going to have to work with two of the other candidates; better not to start things out on the wrong foot by choosing or not choosing some.
  • Do you have a favorite article (or more) that illustrates the 'best' of Wikipedia? Favorite on other projects?
My favorite article is "Metal umlaut". The subject sounds completely ridiculous and I would never expect to find it in the Britannica. But once I heard there was an article, I did wonder: where did those dots come from, and do they mean anything? And what I found was a well-written, well-researched article telling me everything I could have wanted to know.
I don't have a particular favorite on other projects (actually, I enjoy some of the essays here on Meta but I think that doesn't count), but I do appreciate getting definitions and translations of idiomatic phrases on Wiktionary.
  • Of the current board members, who do you think is our most effective leader / who do you look to as a role model?
This may be a terrible answer, but I don't look to anyone on the board as a particular leader or role model: everyone has individual strengths that I hope to emulate, and flaws that remind me not to rely too strongly on one person's judgment. and as mentioned above, I hate to play favorites! But actually, I'll go ahead and say some things I admire about each of the current members, especially some of the ones that most people don't know very well; I don't get much of a chance to say so publicly.
Arne gets things done, as you might expect from someone coming from the most mature chapter. He is quick to focus on what is really important and not waste effort on distractions. He is also very mindful of the organization as a whole and how its parts fit together--the chapters, the committees, the office, the board, the communities--and has been very active in the movement roles project helping everyone else see that too.
Bishakha was as quick to pick up on the culture and practices of Wikimedia as anyone I've ever seen; it is hard to believe that she was recruited from outside rather than picked from, say, the list of active stewards. She is a very clear and straightforward writer, able to be persuasive without ever being arrogant or pushy, and is working tirelessly with the Indian chapter.
Jan-Bart holds things together. He is always willing to take on the tasks that no one else wants to do--sometimes that is herding the more scatterbrained board members (that would be me, usually) and sometimes that is trying to shepherd a difficult discussion toward progress; he is also the one keeping the people with their "head in the clouds" from floating off into space, and trying to make sure that everyone has had an opportunity to be heard.
Everyone knows the public-facing part of Jimmy. Most of the time we hear from him, he is calling in from a hotel room somewhere across the world, where it is the middle of the night and he has a journalist following him around for a week while he tries to go about life like a normal person. And somehow despite being sleep-deprived and disoriented and never having more than 30 minutes at a time to read anything he is still able to speak passionately about what it is we're doing here, to take time to meet and understand the people who are working to make it a success.
Matt is probably the person who has had the biggest "culture shock" joining the board, and was very personally committed to jumping in and engaging with us in order to be able to do good work from the beginning. He has a strong commitment to making the biggest impact on improving the world that he can; he is also very good at figuring out where we can use help from other people and other perspectives and helping us to connect with them.
Anyone reading this probably knows Phoebe better than they know me; she is tirelessly devoted to the Wikimedia community and its principles and values and has been for the past million years. She is also amazing at communication--keeping in touch with everyone, taking in vast quantities of information in whatever corners it lurks in, and then sharing it in the way that is most accessible and makes most sense to everyone.
I think of two main things when I think of SJ. One is his ideal of reaching literally everyone, that everyone has something to contribute, and that the community can and should be driving what goes on. The other is that he is an idea person: SJ is always asking "what if", planning for what we could be and not limited to what we are. He's always thinking of about five different things at once, some of which are in universes that don't exist yet.
First of all, Stu is really dedicated in his role as treasurer; he is enough of a nerd that he even enjoys poring over the budget and crunching numbers. He's a data-driven person in general, and is always thinking of new ways to find meaning in the massive amounts of data we have. And he brings an entrepreneurial viewpoint that was missing beforehand.
I think having a very reflective person as chair for Wikimedia is a good fit for the way the organization works. A person who has a very dominant personality is not necessarily the best leader for a very consensus-driven group; Ting wants to get to the best solution by gathering everyone's knowledge. He is also very diligent and responsible, keeping on top of the essential tasks and making sure that plans are followed through.
  • What's your Myers-Briggs type-- here's a test if needed. (I can't imagine the answer themselves directly affecting any votes-- but it's sorta fun and might help people understand your other responses)
I am an INTP, and hopelessly so.

WM in Politics/Activism/Law[edit]

  • Should WMF have an advocacy role in any circumstances? If so, broadly speaking, how do we decide what issues to take a position on?
Yes, I think so. We don't have the resources to do a lot of legislative advocacy, so we should intervene on issues that are most important to our continued functioning and mission, such as copyrightability of certain types of information, copyright terms, safe harbors for interactive sites, freedom of speech online.
  • Does the WM Movement have a role to play in local, national and international politics? If so, what does that role look like in the future?
  • What can we do to help those directly-affected by 'The Arab Spring'? What can the WM movement do collectively do for those nations? What can the WMF foundation do? What can individual wikimedians do?
  • If it were feasible, should the foundation promote 'internet freedom'-- that is, advocate for or actively provide unfiltered internet access to citizens of repressive regimes?
I think we should speak in favor of it, but that it's outside our scope to implement it--better to let other organizations who are specifically focused on that work on implementation.
  • If it were feasible, should the foundation promote 'universal internet access'-- that is, advocating for or actually providing computer and internet access to impoverished peoples?
I think we should speak in favor of it, but that it's outside our scope to implement it--better to let other organizations who are specifically focused on that work on implementation.
  • Should the WMF promote "Net Neutrality" in the US?
"Net Neutrality" can refer to a lot of different things. (It's sad when you start sounding like a disambiguation page in everyday conversation.) I'm hesitant to endorse any particular proposal. What we should endorse is the idea that those controlling infrastructure shouldn't have undue influence on the information delivered across it.
  • Should WMF advocate any position on copyright reform?
  • WMF, its offices, and its servers are US-based. Looking far forward, well beyond the next two years-- Should we choose our 'home nation' based on purely pragmatic concerns, one or is it a cultural/ideological motivation? That is if another nation would be demonstrably better pragmatically for us, would we be likely to switch? (This question arises when a nation changes in ways that could either greatly help or greatly hinder our mission).

Movement Vision, Scope[edit]

  • What's our Big Purpose? What's our Mission? Jimmy Wales famously said "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." Without quoting or paraphrasing, how would you say it?
  • What is the "big new exciting amazing thing" that the Wikimedia Movement could potentially accomplish in the next five years?
  • Can WM host a 'non-educational' project if we want to? For example, suppose there was a multiplayer online game targeted at Israeli and Palestinian children, in the hopes that this childhood experience will promote future peace. If there's a broad consensus that the non-educational project would bring good in a clear way, could we host it if we wanted to?
  • Should promoting "free culture" a goal in and of itself for the WM movement?
  • WM content has generally been described using terms like "knowledge" and "educational". Do you think WM has a role in hosting non-notable art, fiction, music, and other works of open-culture? As hosting expenses naturally approach zero due to ever-dropping technology cost, should WM host increasingly more diverse content, or should we stick to the domains we currently focus on-- namely, factual, notable, instructional content of the kind that might be found in an encyclopedia or textbook.
  • Looking far forward, beyond the next few years. Should each Wikimedia-named projects have to adhere to the same basic set of values we, as a community, currently hold here in the existing projects? (Namely, valuing the free distribution of factual knowledge). Or will falling hosting costs eventually mean that Wikimedia's projects will eventually become more diverse in their values, methodologies, and purposes?


  • How can we empower our developers and other programmers to "be bold" in trying to create 'the next big Wikimedia thing' that will do good for humanity?
  • How do we fix the "MediaWiki Problem", namely, an over-reliance on a single software platform?
  • If it were technically feasible and of negligible cost, should we someday empower trusted users the "be bold" and create new projects on their own initiative, ala Wikia?
  • On projects like Wikipedia, how do we fix the quality problem? (some of our articles aren't very good and don't necessarily seem to be improving with time)
  • Distributed Wikipedia-- great idea or greatest idea? :)
  • On projects like Wikipedia, how can we 'move beyond' the inclusionist/deletionist schism over inclusion criteria? How can we use software or social innovation to create a 'win-win' that gives us the best of both approaches?