User talk:Mindspillage/Board candidacy
You made two statements that I'd like to hear in greater detail. With regard to "Encourage research in order to better focus our efforts," can you specify the broad areas, and where we would get the funding? With regards to "Develop partnerships between the WMF and organizations who can help further our mission" can you say if you mean for-profit organizations? - brenneman 03:00, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
- Several areas of research into our projects I would like to see encouraged include studies of project growth, contribution patterns, viewership and editorship of pages/page view data, scalability and effectiveness of current methods of dealing with persistent issues such as copyright infringement and vandalism, and usability.
- Much of this could and would be done by users from within the editing community and the academic community if the resources were more readily available; others could be specifically requested to better focus our efforts.
- The toolserver, for example, which is owned by the German chapter, has been a valuable resource for generating quick statistics, but it's not suited to the sort of expensive queries used for more detailed data-gathering. I'd like to see us put more of a priority onto releasing information to the public that would enable better study and analysis of the projects.
- As for partnerships, I mean any organization, non-profit or for-profit, that will help us further our mission in such a way that does not require us to compromise our principles (particularly our neutrality and our mission to provide free content).
- For example, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which we have recently made contact with, was very enthusiastic about the possibility of Wikimedia projects posting and working on their PD content; they will be making digitized content available to us in hopes that our volunteers will be able to not only make it easily accessible on our site but use it for transcription and translation, which would benefit both of us. I'd like to see Wikimedia make more effort to reach out to groups who would like to share content and effort like this.
- Also, for-profit doesn't mean "selling out"! For example, several companies who would like to print or otherwise release offline copies of Wikimedia content once we are ready are for-profit companies who can help further our mission. (The German edition already available on DVD is an example of this.)
- I don't believe we should try to do everything ourselves. Some things are better done by specialized organizations working in cooperation with us; for example, printing and distribution of static content is probably best done by others for whom that is their whole business, where in other cases we should try to seek out and build on the work others have already done (such as digitizing content) rather than duplicating effort.
Chapters and international scope
I am stealing Florence's question of sorts, but here goes. What do you believe the chapters bring (or don't bring) to the scope of Wikimedia as an organization, and how do you see the relationship between chapters and Foundation evolve in the future, especially with regards to the furthering of our mission as you describe it above? notafish }<';> 14:44, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
- tsssss Anthere
- What I believe the chapters bring to Wikimedia is a chance for international representation and action that the Board of the Foundation itself cannot achieve. To have a presence in many languages and many countries would require a far larger body than the Foundation Board, and really, local efforts are best done by the people who are familiar with the local organizations and communities, aware of local law, able to be present in those areas. The chapters can represent and serve the interests of regional communities in an organized and focused way that the wider group cannot.
- I expect the relationship between the board and chapters to be two-way, as focal points for efficient communication. The chapters should be a source for WMF to go to for information as well as a strong voice regarding decisions and their impact on the affected communities.
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 ?
- No, I do not think it should be exclusively editors; I believe we would benefit by having outside voices who share our values and are familiar with our projects. Primarily editors, yes, but not exclusively. I believe that there should be community input particularly in determining community representatives; however, I would be happy with advisory elections or a mix of elected and appointed positions.
- The creation of the Advisory Board is something I think could be a big step forward for us; this is one thing I think Wikimedia is currently missing. There are many qualified and insightful people who can give valuable input that we in the community don't see, being too deeply involved in the day-to-day workings to look at ourselves objectively.
- As for names for Board expansion (which I am entirely in support of), there are several candidates currently running I would be happy to see, as well as some others from within the community such as Michael Snow. For outside input, it becomes more interesting. Eben Moglen of the Free Software Foundation would be a potential choice; there's also a gentleman in St. Petersburg, former CEO of World Book and VP of Britannica with experience in other reference publishing, who has taken an active interest in Wikimedia and its projects, whose voice would be an asset.
- Dangerous choices are also difficult to list. I prefer "known quantities" and strongly ethical people: people who have a consistent set of principles, and who have stuck to them. I would be hesitant to approve of anyone who was not, and would not want to see on the Board anyone who has taken actions that I would consider strongly opposed to Wikimedia's goals. One particular concern is the continuing freedom of our content and refusal to use patent-encumbered or copyleft-incompatible material in the site; I would want any potential candidate to have an understanding of the importance of that.
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 ?
- It is my opinion that no, the Foundation should not be a publisher. Not at this point in time, certainly; I don't think we have the resources to prepare a published product and assume the liability for that publication. I am aware of at least one project in which this is more than a hypothetical issue, yes.
What should be the business plan of the Foundation ? How would you suggest it earns money ?
- I have seen very little of the actual numbers, as indeed is the case for most of us; we are still awaiting the completion of our audit before I can have a good picture of this. Individual fundraising has kept us going, as I understand it, for some time now, and we're currently not in a position where we are hurting for funds. However, I am not confident that that level of income from donations alone can sustain us in the long term. I would like to see Danny have the necessary support staff to be able to go back to grant writing; there are several aspects of our projects that we could receive outside funding for if we could spare the manpower to apply for it. We should also look at other funding options that do not involve relying entirely on the steady flow of generosity of our readers; soliciting larger donations from corporations may also be one way to lighten this load. I don't think "selling out" -- compromising our goals for more money -- is an option.
Threat and forces
Can you cite 3 forces of the Foundation ? Can you cite the main 3 threats for our projects as of today ? (Note: "forces" was > clarified to mean "assets" by Anthere.) -KW
- Three assets we have:
- Our community, without whom we have a nice body of work and no one to take it any further. Not just the active editing community, but the goodwill and support of the readers as well.
- Our content: which is not "ours" but everyone's, thanks to the GFDL license.
- Our trademark, inextricably tied in with our good name -- which is why we should be careful about granting use of it, about knowing what goes out under it, and about dealing with those who use it wrongfully.
The main three threats are a more difficult question to answer. Here are three that certainly concern me:
- One of them is that we will be brought down by a nasty lawsuit, probably either for libel or copyright infringement.
- One is that we make a poor move that compromises one of those three above assets and forks the community over it. The Spanish Wikipedia is still recovering from its early incident; and we should try to avoid making such a mistake again.
- Another is that we try to take on too much, try to grow faster than we can handle and end up managing everything poorly as a result.
Can you cite the current three main projects/agreements/priorities of the board ?
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)
1. Goal-setting: deciding first of all where we intend to go; evaluating our needs is part of this. 2. As another short-term decision, the future composition of the Board. 3. Bylaws and general structure of the Foundation; its relationship with local Chapters. 4. Finances: evaluating how we have been handling the funds we have and what needs to change. 5. Paperwork, and the dull formalities of being a legal entity: filings and registrations.
Flcelloguy's questions for the Wikipedia Signpost
- Your name:
- Kat Walsh
- Your username most commonly used:
- Your current geographic location, along with your age:
- Herndon, VA (just outside Washington, DC); 23
- Projects with significant contributions (please both name the language and project, and link to your contributions) #:English Wikipedia, Meta, English Wikinews
- Do you have any rights (i.e. admin, bureaucrat) or positions (i.e. dispute resolution, CheckUser, etc.) on any of those projects? If so, which ones? When did you get elected or promoted for each one?
- Admin on en.wp (April 2005), meta (September 2005), en.wn (March 2006); arbcom on en.wp (appointed October 2005, elected January 2006). I am also a press contact for the Foundation and a member of the OTRS subcommittee of the Communications Committee.
- Do you hold any universal rights (i.e. steward, etc.) for Wikimedia Projects? If so, since when?
- None, though I am an OTRS admin since late 2005.
- When did you first start contributing to Wikimedia projects? Why and how did you initially join?
- June 2004. I joined after searching for information on the contrabassoon, which I was learning to play at the time, and found a fairly short article in the search results. After reading a few dozen information pages to be sure I really could "edit this page", I made an edit. It's still there, and I was hooked.
- Briefly describe your career ("real-life"). How do you think this will help you be a successful Board member?
- I was recently employed by Wikia, Inc. as community staff, in which I both brainstormed and implemented ideas for making the Wikia user experience a better one, assisted users with the projects, and did general maintenance. I am currently a law student at George Mason University, where I am focusing on technology law.
- My Wikia experience gave me insight into the workings of wiki communities other than the English Wikipedia, where most of my wiki experience had previously been, particularly new and growing wiki communities. Interacting with users of many different types (and in many different languages) all trying to get new projects off of the ground, with varying degrees of success, was a valuable source of information on the possible challenges faced by Wikimedia projects. My legal education will, I hope, give me a framework for understanding the legal issues faced by the Foundation and how to best assure that we can continue going forward.
- Of all the candidates right now, why do you stand out from the field? What makes you the best candidate?
- One of my key strengths is my skill at communication and dispute resolution, and there are few areas of the project I am not at least acquainted with. I have given presentations and spoken to representatives from other organizations about Wikimedia and our goals, practices, and needs. Also, I am familiar with many of the Foundation-level activities, both from my experience handling the mail and talking to the press, and from talking to other Wikimedians about their activities and projects.
- A knowledge of several languages has been cited as a key requirement for a Board member. Do you speak any other languages other than English? Why do you think language is or isn't critical to the Board?
- I am only fluent in English; I know basic Spanish but do not write well in it. (I wish someone had told me when I was younger that I would be putting all my free time into a large international project and I would really want to know more languages, but alas, no one did!) This is unfortunate, and the ideal candidate would be multilingual. However, it seems that the vast majority of the Foundation's business and activities is conducted in English, and so it is not critical for a candidate to be fluent in another language. I do have contact with many editors from other languages, particularly people from local chapters and admins on their projects, whom I trust to ask for information when I would like to know about something happening in a language I cannot read. No one can speak all of the languages with communities Wikimedia serves, and so the ability to communicate with others from different projects and cultures is critical.
- What do you expect to do while serving on the Board? What are your expectations?
- My expectations are first of all to do a lot of reading on the internal details of Wikimedia, and of similar organizations to compare ourselves to: what are they doing, what should we be doing better? I also expect to make contact with a lot of people, from many different places, both asking for help and spreading information about us. We're a young organization, and rapidly changing, so any expectations I have may well sound ridiculous in six months; I expect and hope that we will move toward becoming more professional and organized in our operations.
- What can you bring to the Board? What can you contribute to the Wikimedia Foundation?
- Primarily, my time, my skills, my commitment. No one can stick around doing this without believing that it's important work... and without having a lot of patience and understanding. I am not the ideal candidate but I believe my skills complement those of the current members; I do not have Michael Davis's financial expertise, Anthere's understanding of other cultures and communities, Jimbo's charisma, vision, and connections. What I do have is the ability to learn quickly, to resolve conflict, to make considered decisions, to connect to many different people, and to bring in my current familiarity with the day-to-day workings of the projects.
- Describe the one issue that you think is most pressing and pertinent to the Foundation right now, and how you would approach the situation.
- Right now it seems that one of the most pressing issues is communication. Though it has improved with the creation of the Communications Committee there is still a great deal that needs to be done to see that everyone knows what they need to know, that no one is surprised by something that they should have known, that information which should remain private stays so and that which shouldn't remain private is spread around more effectively. We are a project built around information; we can't function without making sure everyone has the information they need. We need to be able to know who is doing what, who is responsible for certain areas and what has been accomplished, to keep people from spreading misinformation or feeling as though things have been hidden from them when it was simply a problem of communication.
- What is your vision of the Board in the Foundation hierarchy? How do you feel about the current leadership?
- My vision of the board is that it gives direction and oversees the functioning of the projects, making sure that we are adhering to our mission, and using our resources wisely. (And has very little input into the day-to-day policy issues and contribution to individual projects; this is something I will miss if elected!) I believe the current leadership is a mixed bag; part of the reason for Angela's resignation was that she no longer felt that the environment was one she wanted to work in, and Tim will be leaving soon as he has not been active; I would hope that the new members brought in will revitalize the functioning of the Board.
- As a Board member, you will be serving as a representative of the communities. Do you think you can represent the community and understand its concerns? Why?
- I hope so. I have tried to be approachable and keep up with what is going on around Wikimedia, and to talk to people who agree and who disagree with me on various points. I think one of my skills is understanding the positions of those I don't agree with, and my mind has been changed by solid arguments in the past.
- What do you think of the Wikimedia Foundation and its mission in general? If you could change one thing about the running of the Foundation, what would you change?
- If I weren't convinced that the mission were a great thing that needed to be done, I wouldn't be doing this! This is an important mission and becomes more important as more media is created and locked up where no one can access it, as more people rely on the internet as their first stop for reference material, as it becomes more of a reality that people are able to actually get materials out to the poor areas where traditional commercial reference materials are too expensive to purchase. One thing I would change is the organization. It's currently not functioning as well as it should; quite often it's difficult to find out who is supposed to be doing something, or who to tell when something needs to be done.
- If elected, can and will you devote the appropriate time and other resources needed to serve on the Board?
- Yes, I can do that. Though school does take up a fair bit of my time, it's no worse than if I were holding a full-time job; I'm not currently employed outside of that and had planned to spend most of my free time working on Wikimedia. (I should mention that I will, if elected, resign from the Arbitration Committee; in addition to the time commitment, it would not be appropriate for me to continue to hold the position.)
- Have you ever attended Wikimania or any other meetup? What role do you think these meetups play?
- I attended this past Wikimania and have been to meetups in Florida and Delaware (and have an open offer to let traveling Wikimedians crash on my couch!) It's nice to communicate face-to-face, in real time, without typos; communication is often quicker and better in person, and for group meetings to accomplish something I'd prefer to meet in person whenever it is practical. Additionally, the people I interact with here for the most part are also people I would want to spend time with socially; I've had a great time just sitting around in restaurants chatting with other editors. It's a dual bonus of seeing a more human and social side of people and conducting business more efficently; I'd encourage anyone who can do so to hold or attend a local meetup.
- Please list (and link) any other pages where you have gotten questions and comments pertaining to the Board elections; we are compiling all of the questions and would appreciate this.
- All comments on my candidacy should go to my Meta subpage for it at m:User talk:Mindspillage/Board candidacy.
- What would you say to a potential voter who is undecided right now?
- I'd advise any voter to research all of the candidates thoroughly before making a decision. In particular, don't just vote for the people you know, and look into people who participate outside your home wiki; consider how people would fit into a Foundation role and not just how they do as admins on an individual project; the roles are very different.
- Is there anything else you would like to mention?
- Not at this particular time.
A question for you as a candidate:
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 ≈ 16:19, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
- Of course I agree with it (scattered throughout my contribution history are probably instances of me saying something very like this). As a board member I would primarily attempt to bring it to life by acting ethically myself, and making it clear that this is my stance; I prefer to set direction by example. Part of doing this is supporting others who are doing the right thing, sometimes by speaking against those who are not.
- A good deal of Wikimedia's success is dependent on the goodwill of others toward us; not just the editing community but anyone affected by some aspect of what we do—often a larger group of people than many think. We occasionally make mistakes, wrongs sometimes happen; it's unfortunate but it is nearly unavoidable in a project this large and this open. It's important for us to be responsive to those wrongs when they are pointed out, to have it be clear that as an organization we are committed to doing right by people, that we choose to do this even where it may mean difficulty for us and even where it is not strictly required that we do so. Mindspillage (spill yours?) 16:49, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
- Thank you for your response. You have my support. ≈ jossi ≈ 00:31, 31 August 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:
- This is one of the issues for which we have a general counsel! It really depends on the case; we do refuse requests from indivduals for private data where someone is simply going fishing, but we also already disclose CheckUser data where users have been massively abusing the site, for example. With Google on the brain, "don't be evil" is a pretty good summary of the general idea; it really depends on the individual situation and for this I would depend on advice from our general counsel to determine the right course of action.
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.
- Well, partially because I have thought about the issue and addressed this before, and partially because it still applies and there's no reason to duplicate effort, something I posted in March about the policy is perhaps the best answer to your question (though I am speaking here from the perspective of a community member rather than part of the Foundation): ; I'll excerpt a few parts here:
- I can speak with absolute confidence that for every WP:OFFICE protection, there are loads upon loads of "sorry you're unhappy with this article, can you tell us what's incorrect to help us fix it?" mails that no one gets much bothered about and most of the community never hears about. Sometimes they are very angry, sometimes they are from wealthy and powerful people, and we don't get too fussed about them until there is a serious concern that we may be doing wrong, and something needs to change, and that something hasn't happened via the usual community processes. That's what office actions are for. [...]
- There is actually serious damage to be done by having falsehood and rumors up on articles, and if our community processes have failed to get that right then it's clear some intervention is needed. It's done to save the project, not to destroy it[...]
- And a further response here :
- The proactive solutions we as an entire community have been coming up with involve tightening up on verification and care to articles on living people[...] It just happens that some things slip through the cracks. [en.wikipedia has] 1 million articles. It's *hard* to check all of them. And all of these measures are designed to help keep these articles open so that they spend as little time actually protected as possible. If you think there is not currently a push to solve these kinds of problems before they are problems, you are mistaken.
- Office protection does not exist to circumvent the community. It exists because what we are doing here really does matter, and for some issues, unlike the vast majority of everything else that goes on within the projects, time and discreet handling are important and the community has not been handling the issue appropriately to that point. I fully support its existence, as a measure for limited use.
- As for moving to a jurisdiction where it is hard to sue for libel, Florida isn't bad on that score; there may be better places, and I would perhaps be more interested in the issue if WMF were based in the UK where the laws are more restrictive, but as it is I am more strongly in favor of the community simply not libeling people and making a real effort to get it right. There is no reason for us to remove information that is true, neutral, and verifiable that someone simply does not like, but it is foolish and against our values to fight for something the community has gotten wrong that is negatively affecting someone rather than make an effort to fix it, and as far as I know all of the issues dealt with by office protection so far have been of the latter type.
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.
- I was employed by Wikia, Inc. as part of the community support team from February 15 to August 10. I am no longer employed by them; I have no remaining financial connection to the company nor any other involvement that would qualify.
- Mindspillage (spill yours?) 23:02, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for your time, Dijxtra 20:22, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Question regarding Board candidacy
As you might know (;-) ), you are "only" 23 years old. What do you say to people who think that age is too young to be a member of the board of such a big organization? Why do you think you could bring in enough experience to have figurative enough weight in discussions during the board meetings? Do you think the argument of age is nonsense, or do you think otherwise? Effeietsanders 16:13, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
- I am young for the position and I do understand the concern, as age is likely to give indication of maturity and experience. I'd ask a potential voter to evaluate those dimensions rather than going strictly by age (and indeed, I do not have as much experience in the nonprofit realm as some of the older candidates running, though I do believe that I have as much experience with Wikimedia specifically as most). I do believe I would be able to be effective in the post; I have not found my age to be an issue in my other work with Wikimedia; it's not something I believe anyone has taken particular note of in communicating with me. (I note that I am not much younger than Angela was when she was initially elected!) Mindspillage (spill yours?) 17:49, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
Hi, Kat. 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 17:37, 13 September 2006 (UTC)
- I believe the 9/11 wiki was a mistake to create, though an understandable one considering how early in our history this was; it does not fit within the family of Wikimedia projects and I don't think anyone now is seriously disputing this. The project should be closed, and replaced with a note that the content will continue to be available from download.wikimedia.org for those who wish to take what was there for their own forks. Mindspillage (spill yours?) 18:27, 13 September 2006 (UTC)
- Thanks for your quick reply. Your views on the matter are closely aligned with my own, and I suspect with the bulk of the community. 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. While no one does appear to seriously dispute the 9/11 project's anomalous nature, no one pulling the strings in Wikimedialand (board, developers, etc.) seems to be lifting a finger to rectify the situation. 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)