You can use this page to ask questions about my candidacy in the 2006 board election. Please note that I may move long threads to a separate page.
On Balance and Harmony
You give a pretty thorough view of the balance you think needs to be achieved between paid staff and volunteers. I would like to extend this to the role you think the Foundation should (or should not) have in regards to intervening within the projects, on a more "technical" level. What is your take on board members or paid staff holding such responsibilities as stewardship, check user or adminship in any of the projects and intervening on articles and users (protection, delete history, block user etc.). How should this be addressed? notafish }<';> 12:54, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
- I know that User:Akl has taken the very principled approach of abandoning adminship while being 2nd President and future paid Geschäftsführer of the German chapter. While I would want to discuss this issue in some detail with Brad, what I think is minimally needed is a clear separation of roles. This could be done with separate usernames (e.g. w:User:Danny vs. w:User:Dannyisme) or separate signatures. Requiring the use of the correct role account or signature might even be part of an employment contract. It also goes without saying that our employees are paid for their particular functions in the organization, not for their volunteer roles in Wikimedia.--Eloquence 16:32, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
- I've added this to my platform.--Eloquence
Warum Admin auf de:Wiki
Das würde mich mal brennend interessieren. Warum bist du Admin auf der deutschen Wiki, obwohl du da doch nur sehr wenig machst. Und als Admin warst du nie sehr aktiv. Tut mir leid, aber für mich sieht das aktuell etwas nach Ämteranhäufung aus. Und nun stellt sich mal jemand, der nicht englisch als Muttersprache spricht und ist doch nur in der en:Wiki zu Hause. Das depremiert, reitzt aber nicht grade für eine Stimmabgabe für dich. Aber ich lasse mich gern überzeugen. Kenwilliams 08:24, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
- Es gibt unterschiedliche Ansichten dazu, was Administrator-Status bedeutet. Manche fassen es als "Amt" mit damit verbundenen Pflichten auf, andere als Ausdruck des Vertrauens. Ich gehöre zu letzterer Gruppe. In en.wikinews haben wir z.B. die Regel entwickelt, dass bereits ein Monat Mitarbeit und das Vertrauen der Community genügen, um Admin zu werden; Inaktivität führt nicht zum Verlust des Status.
- Als ich Admin in de.wikipedia wurde, war auch dort diese Ansicht vorherrschend. Das mag sich mittlerweile geändert haben, und wenn die Community der Meinung ist, dass ich nicht Admin bleiben sollte, weil ich die entsprechenden "Pflichten" zu selten wahrnehme, respektiere ich das natürlich, auch wenn ich diese Perspektive nicht teile. Anders sehe ich die Sache übrigens mit "Bürokraten", da deren Zahl typischerweise sehr klein ist und an sie konkrete Erwartungen gestellt werden. So habe ich bei en.wikipedia den Bürokratenstatus niedergelegt, als ich aufgehört habe, mich um Admin-Ernennungen zu kümmern.
- Ich bin nicht "nur in der en:Wiki zu Hause", sondern, wie Du meinem Statement entnehmen kannst, z.B. auch bei Commons und der Entwicklung von MediaWiki, was in beiden Fällen der gesamten Community zu Gute kommt, wie auch meine diversen Aktivitäten auf Wikimedia-Ebene. Ich arbeite auch gelegentlich mit dem deutschen Verein zusammen; so haben wir z.B. gerade ein Treffen im Oktober zwecks Diskussion möglicher Projektpartnerschaften auf EU-Ebene vereinbart. Sollte ich ins Board gewählt werden, werde ich mich selbstverständlich bemühen, die Interessen der deutschsprachigen Community wahrzunehmen und gute Schnittstellen zwischen dem deutschen Verein und der Foundation aufzubauen.
- Was genau meine Intentionen und meine Ziele sind, steht in meiner Plattform, die ich vor der Wahl auch ins Deutsche übersetzen werde. Dass es sich dabei nicht um "Ämteranhäufung" handelt, sollte eigentlich aus der Beschreibung der einzelnen Arbeitsgebiete deutlich werden. Ich bin ein großer Freund der de.wikipedia, sage aber auch ganz klar: ich werde dort niemals ein besonders aktiver Benutzer sein. Meine Gegenfrage an Dich wäre deshalb: Was versprichst Du Dir von einem Mitglied des Board of Trustees?--Eloquence 08:36, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Interview with yourself, by yourself?
You may want to see someone about that... ;) SWojczyszyn 11:12, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
- At least I haven't started sending myself e-mails yet .. ;-) --Eloquence 08:21, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Eloquence saids in your interview \'\'English has always been a bridging language in the same way Esperanto has been for many others\'\' but his book (\"Die heimliche Medienrevolution\") is in Deustch o.O 188.8.131.52 21:38, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
- All my professional writing so far has been in German. I'm not sure my English is good enough to write an entire book yet, but I might try in the future.--Eloquence 00:22, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
First let me say how much I like most of what you say. However, you state "We have a responsibility to explain clearly how we spend our money and why we need more, and we should never ask for money when we don't have a clear and present need for it." So would that mean you'd be opposed to having a Wikipedia Endowment to help try and ensure long term viability?Barkeep49 01:56, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
- That sentence was a bit unclear, I've tried to clarify it by speaking of "present or future needs." I do mention the possibility of endowments explicitly later on, so I very much support the idea.--Eloquence 18:19, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
We should carefully study the current practices in multiple languages: Are there projects or languages where "anything goes" in terms of fair use? Are some overly restrictive? With the help of our legal counsel, we then need to develop best practice recommendations, and encourage (and in some cases require) projects and languages to implement them. - Commons and de.wikipedia have completely ruled out fair use content. Do you count them among the projects which might be seen as "overly restrictive"? grüße, Hoch auf einem Baum 02:56, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
- I will answer separately for Commons and de.wikipedia. de.wikipedia, in theory, does not allow non-free content. It has, however, adopted some practices which may contradict that goal. For instance, there is a large number of logos which are used with the claim that they cannot be copyrighted because they do not pass a sufficient creativity threshold (Schöpfungshöhe)—an interpretation most corporations might disagree with. Similarly, pages like Donald Duck try to circumvent copyright law by showing 3D models or statues of copyrighted characters. I don't believe we can turn non-free content into free content through clever tricks; if we want to use such images, we should develop a sound legal framework to do so.
- Some background information: I started the first Meinungsbild Urheberrecht that led to the current practice on de.wikipedia in June 2003. At the time I argued strongly for a middle ground between "free content only" and "fair use according to US law." I'm also aware of the new poll in which you participated, which, to my knowledge, hasn't resulted in any practical consequences yet (correct me if I'm wrong). Both polls show that the community feels strongly about maximizing the amount of free content, but there may be some wiggle room for exemptions which would be recognized in virtually any use context.
- There are two key questions we must answer when dealing with project copyrights: What is the applicable law, and to what extent do we want to make use of legal exemptions? The organization (including the chapters) has a greater role in answering the first question, and the community has a greater role in answering the second.
- On the first question, the legal study (Rechtsgutachten) the German chapter paid for suggests two viable interpretations of applicability: copyright law in the hosting nation (the US), or copyright law in the nations which are the primary target audience for the content (Switzerland, Germany, Austria). In either case, the Germany-centric approach that underlied the first Meinungsbild is incorrect.I should add that there is also the possibility that individual users could be found liable for the content they upload, and that would likely be under their own jurisdiction. I believe that the Foundation should, at the very least, work with the chapters and different language projects to develop a legal position, which cannot be subject to a community vote. In case of de.wikipedia, this legal position may closely resemble the summary in the introduction of the second Meinungsbild.
- On the second question, if there is an evolving consensus throughout all communities, including the German Wikipedia, that we want to use materials like logos or historical photographs of great importance, and that our legal position allows us to do so, the Foundation might ratify this community opinion as an organizational policy. However, going into de.wikipedia and prescribing that certain policies must be implemented (outside the context of legal requirements), without a community discussion and consensus, would be disastrous for a large, mature community which has undergone its own thought processes on the matter. On the other hand, if a recently created small language Wikipedia without a chapter develops practices we find highly philosophically questionable, the Foundation might intervene directly.
- As for Wikimedia Commons, its purpose is to be a central repository of content that is maximally reusable in all contexts, so I don't think there's much room for negotiation about what it might include. I co-initiated the Free Content Definition in part because I felt that we need a more precise metric to define the project's scope.
- I hope that answers your question.--Eloquence 20:16, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Composition of the board
What is your opinion on how the board should be constituted ? Do you think it should exclusively be composed of editors of our projects ? If so, rather elected or appointed ? Do you think we should have some people external to our community ? In those listed in the past two months on Foundation -l, can you list those you think would be great board members and those who might reveal dangerous for our dream ? Do you have names to suggest for board expansion ?
- It is part of my election platform that the Board should be expanded to have about 9 members (with a subset serving as an Executive Committee, as already approved by you), and that the majority of the Board should be elected by and from the community. I'm open to the possibility of requiring legal membership to vote in Board elections,1 as long as it is granted liberally and financial contributions are not required. I mention this because it may limit the voter base to those who care enough about Foundation matters to become legal members.
- With an expanded Board of 9 people, and assuming that Jimmy doesn't stand for election and that Michael stays on, this leaves room for 2 appointees. I believe that any appointments should be reconfirmed annually by the Board majority. It may be desirable for appointees to first serve on the Advisory Board for a period of time (e.g. 6 months) so we get to know them and can better estimate the potential for future conflict.
- The ideal Board appointee, in my opinion, brings specialized knowledge, contacts and leadership to the team that we do not easily find through the community process. For instance, as an organization that proudly proclaims its desire to help the developing world, we should at least have one expert from that field on the Board. Similarly, having taken on Wikiversity, we should have someone deeply familiar with eLearning on the Board to pull it off. The two names that come immediately to my mind are Achal Prabhala from Bangalore, who is a leader in lobbying for access to knowledge in the developing world (he also spoke at Wikimania 2005), and Wayne Mackintosh, an eLearning expert (he founded http://www.wikieducator.org/) who currently works for the Commonwealth of Learning. If they do not want to serve, they should at least be able to give good recommendations from both these fields.
- I would like the organization to be largely community-governed. Compared to "big name" appointments, the above approach reduces the risk of appointees taking initiatives that run counter to community values and methods, and makes it easier to replace them if necessary. At the same time, it strongly symbolizes our commitment to our professed ambitions to the outside world.--Eloquence 02:48, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
- 1 With a definition of legal membership more rigorous than the one in the present bylaws, i.e., requiring more than only a user account in the projects. It would be an explicit opt-in process.
Do you think the Foundation should be a publisher ? If not, do you think it should control what is publish, through the authorization (or not) of use of our brands ? Do you know of one project currently trying to be edited and in conflict with the Foundation on that matter ?
- I discuss this, and the Wikibooks conflict which you (I believe) are referring to, in my platform, so I will be brief. The Foundation might set up a subsidiary organization to act as a publisher to avoid liability. As for third parties, if they literally want to call the products they produce "Wikipedia," "Wikibooks," etc. and use our unmodified logos, they will need our permission, which we will sometimes only give if they pay us. (We should not charge, for instance, a non-profit for producing and distributing a Wikipedia DVD in India, but we might want to officially license our logo and trademark to them.) If they only want to say that their product contains content from Wikipedia or another Wikimedia project, they can do so freely under the terms of the license.--Eloquence 03:04, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
What should be the business plan of the Foundation ? How would you suggest it earns money ?
- Please see the Scalability section of my platform and let me know if you have further questions.--Eloquence 03:05, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Threat and forces
Can you cite 3 forces of the Foundation ? Can you cite the main 3 threats for our projects as of today ?
- I can cite more than 3 ;-). But if you want a triangle, for forces I would suggest: Volunteers, Board, Staff. I would distinguish between volunteers who actively work on the organizational level (committees, chapters, etc.) and those who are "only" active in the content-oriented projects. See the Balance and Harmony section of my platform for how I see the relations between these groups.
- As for threats: legal issues (see the legal strategy section), closed structures (see Open Wikimedia), and failure beyond Wikipedia (see most of the rest of my platform).
- I'm on record as saying that I think Wikipedia is "doomed to succeed," by which I mean that our growth is natural and only needs to be sustained through infrastructure. (Even a major legal blow could not kill the content that we have created so far, though it could destroy the organizational support layer.) I say "doomed to succeed" because the Wikimedia Foundation (as opposed to Wikipedia) has the potential to succeed far beyond our present achievements, and we may be misled into thinking that everything is great as long as the servers are humming and Wikipedia's Alexa Rank keeps climbing.--Eloquence 03:20, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
Can you cite the current three main projects/agreements/priorities of the board ?
- Being an avid reader and poster on foundation-l, I'm aware of your initiatives to get community input on the pending bylaws update, your desire to have logo arrangements with chapters sorted out, the discussion you initiated about membership, and so on, but do not know if these reflect the Board's main projects/agreements/priorities at this time. I am not on any private mailing list or wiki (like internal-l or internal wiki) at this point.--Eloquence 03:36, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
If you had to decide which are the 5 most important tasks for the board to accomplish in the time of your term, which ones would they be ? (be practical)
- I'll give you three, though they can be split:
- 1) Develop Wikimedia roadmap, mission and possibly project charters through collaborative processes
- 2) Decide Board and Membership (if any) setup; update bylaws; evaluate Committee structures and minimize secrecy
- 3) Make sure that the two key Foundation projects "Wikipedia DVD" and "Stable Versions" are properly resourced and managed on the staff level
- I'm explicitly not mentioning staff decisions, as these should be made primarily by the Executive Director, though I do believe that hiring a CFO should be very much a priority.--Eloquence 03:36, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
These are rather simple and straightforward questions, but I decided I would ask the same to candidates as an attempt to neutrality ;-) Please, keep it simple. Anthere
In a recent wikiEN-I en posting (8/19/2006), Jimmy Wales wrote:
"Most of us do care passionately about the ethics of what we are doing, and how it affects people. Indeed, for most of us, it is part of the very fabric of the reasons we participate. We are human beings, trying to do something good, not automatons puking out soulless "content" [...] we are good, we are ethical, we are trying to produce something important in
the world that matters to the world, and we want to do it the right way."
- Are you in agreement with that statement?
- If you do, what would you do as a board member to bring that understanding to life in our project?
≈ jossi ≈ 02:22, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
- 1) Yes, of course.
- 2) Like Jimmy, I believe that the understanding is already alive in our projects. But I also think that we need to distinguish organizational ethics and community ethics. The Board does not rule the community; the community develops its own code of ethics. But, governing the organization, the Board has to establish a code of ethics on that level: openness, accountability, fair hiring practices, and so on. It is when law and ethics overlap in the communities that the Board has to delegate its authority to trusted individuals who can intervene in cases of legal issues or complaints (if only to enforce a careful review of all facts). See Open Wikimedia and Legal strategy in my platform for some discussion of related issues, and let me know if you have further questions.--Eloquence 05:53, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
More "Wiki" or more "pedia"
I count me among those who got suspicious of a "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit" and fear that those two goals are ever more hard to achieve together. I already notice a (perhaps minor) brain drain on this issue, with contributors like User:Hillman or de:User:Wolfgangbeyer leaving.
Do you consider this to be a problem which in the foreseeable future will leave us with the choice of either going to more closed model of contributorship or accepting that the product of an open contributorship will not exactly be an encyclopedia? And if so, will you vote for "wiki" or "pedia"?
- At present, the following is true:
- Anyone can create a new article. (On the English Wikipedia, this is restricted to registered users.)
- Anyone can, by clicking "edit", make a new copy of an existing unprotected article in Wikipedia and store it under the same title.
- The latest copy of an article is shown to the visitor.
- Implicit in the third principle is the assumption that the latest copy is likely to be of the highest quality. That is a naive assumption which we often know to be incorrect. We will therefore likely retain the second principle and expand it to protected pages, and challenge and vary the third. The experiment which is about to be launched on the German Wikipedia is a part of that process.
- I strongly support this process. I have some objections to the particular implementation strategy referred to above. My key objections are:
- a) The idea to show different versions to readers than to editors is flawed and will break community interaction. If the experiment goes ahead with this idea in place, it will damage Wikipedia.
- b) The idea of the reviewed version is almost mythological. Review is a process and needs to be supported as such. As a binary state it can be used to measure a very small number of articles which have reached the current "gold standard", but beyond that, it's useless. We need to facilitate systematic quality annotations and improvements to sections of an article revision. Quality itself is multidimensional: an article can be well-sourced but biased, accurate but in violation of copyright law, beautiful but wrong. Different editors have different abilities, and our processes need to support quality annotation work in small chunks.
- However, I don't believe that restricting editorship beyond removing the editing privileges of harmful and disruptive users is necessary. Rather, I believe in organizing editorship and content. Soft processes that drive the Simpsons editors towards the Simpsons articles and the quantum physics editors towards the quantum physics articles work better than hard restrictions that Simpsons fans may not edit quantum physics articles. Providing a separate space for trivial pop culture knowledge about a topic to be associated with that topic (like a separate Wikitrivia project) may work better than trying to eradicate such content altogether.
- In addition, I take the position that we need to establish channels through which scientists can annotate and review article revisions without interacting with the community. Such reviews would not give them any special rights over the content, but I believe the community would implicitly treat expert opinion as highly valuable. I think that the combination of expert reviews, and processes to drive community experts towards ongoing disputes, would be sufficient to deal with crackpot theories and article trolling. When you get the right number of the right people involved, consensus will quickly swing where it should.
- Now, to close, let me state clearly that the Board, and its newly elected member, will only have a limited role in the process of reforming Wikipedia. They can support and review initiatives like the stable version experiment, and prioritize new ones. However, it is not their role to micromanage Wikipedia policy.--Eloquence 12:25, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Questions from Dijxtra
Hello, these are generic questions I decided to submit to every candidate. If you already answered the question in your application, skip it. If you consider any question to be to private for you to answer, feel free to state that and accept my apology for being to intrusive. I also ask you to pardon my English since spellcheckers don't check grammar :-) Here are the questions:
2. What is your opinion of WP:OFFICE? Do you think that:
- It is very good solution to bureaucratisation of Wikipedia, allowing a swift action in cases which need such action. We should widen the circle of people who have the power to use WP:OFFICE.
- It is very good solution to bureaucratisation of Wikipedia, allowing a swift action in cases which need such action. (And only Danny should use WP:OFFICE privilege)
- I don't like the thing, but we need it so we don't get sued.
- Community is above any user and we should think of WP:OFFICE as temporary measure until we find a way for the whole community to act swiftly in cases of libel accusations.
- We should move our servers to jurisdiction which makes it hard for people to sue us for libel.
3. Have you ever been on a paylist of anybody/any organization/any firm connected to any current member of the board? Please understand this question in the broadest sense possible.
Thank you for your time, Dijxtra 20:22, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
- 1) The word valid is key here and implies case by case review. How this review will function depends on the sheer number of such requests which we will receive. In general, I am skeptical about giving legal counsel the final authority on such matters; rather, I tend to view legal opinions as advisory, and believe that board, staff and community need to come to an agreement about what to do. To give you an example, a user might violate a museum's policy and take photographs of some old paintaings or sculptures, and upload them to Commons. The museum might argue that doing so is illegal, and might request personally identifiable information from us about the user who uploaded the picture. We might refuse and challenge this request, even if our legal counsel advises us not to do so, taking into account the potential costs and benefits.
- 2) I have already stated my opinion about WP:OFFICE in February when the policy was instituted. My comments from then are still largely my opinion today. As for attempting to find a better jurisdiction, it's an interesting question. I would certainly consider the option, but I don't think it's quite as simple as "moving the servers." Whether the servers are in the US or in Papua New Guinea, it is the Wikimedia Foundation which owns and operates them, and as long as that organization is based in St. Petersburg, Florida, we need to comply with US and Florida law.
- 3) I've received expenses reimbursement for about half my Wikimania 2006 travel costs from the Wikimedia Foundation. I currently receive payment for my project management and development work on the WiktionaryZ project. This payment has come from two organizations, Kennisnet and Knewco, Inc.. Kennisnet also partners with the Wikimedia Foundation, and WiktionaryZ has been authorized to be hosted by Wikimedia.
- I have entered negotiations with Wikia to fund part of multilingual MediaWiki development (which itself is part of WiktionaryZ), and some of that money might go to me for the purpose of project management. I've had previous business interactions with Wikia when I helped transfer Memory Alpha to their servers (the customer could no longer afford my wiki hosting services), but did not receive any compensation for this.--Eloquence 12:25, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
What are your views twards the WP:Office policy? Do you approve of how it is used currently? Do you think it should be removed/reduced?
--NightDragon on Wiki:en. link
- Please see my response to Dijxtra above.--Eloquence 09:55, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Hi, Erik. In light of the four discussions listed below, what course of action would you take with regard to the 9/11 Wikipedia if you were elected to the board?
Looking forward to your response. Thanks. Andreyi 17:36, 13 September 2006 (UTC)
- As I explained on 9/11 wiki move proposal, it ought to be turned into a static website, using the dumpHTML utility that comes with MediaWiki, and hosted under its own domain name, e.g. 911memories.org. Perhaps it would make sense to have a four-week community clean-up phase before then, to delete irrelevant content and edit the wiki into shape. Ideally, the static content would not be hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, but by some willing and neutral third party, but if no volunteer can be found to host it (very unlikely), WMF could continue to do so. It ought not to be regarded as a Wikimedia project, and should not be mentioned in promotional materials.--Eloquence 17:53, 13 September 2006 (UTC)
- Thanks for your quick reply. I hope that if elected to the board, and perhaps even if not, you will try to see that the wiki is shut down and the content archived as you suggest it could be. No one pulling the strings in Wikimedialand (board, developers, etc.) seems to be lifting a finger to rectify the situation, despite clear evidence of overwhelming community opposition to the wiki maintaining its present status. It has sat there for the best part of five years in stagnation, an embarrassment to the community and the Foundation. All the best. Andreyi 18:35, 13 September 2006 (UTC)