Discussion copied from the English Wikipedia
Hi Nicholas, I'm glad to see you're running for the current board elections. I have some questions that I think would be good to know - please answer (or ignore) them as you see fit. Thanks. Cormaggio @ 11:22, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
- Dear Cormaggio: Thank you for your pertinent, and very interesting, set of questions; below, please find my answers, which I hope might provide a clearer profile of myself as a Board candidate to you. If there are any points in what I have written that you feel could benefit from further clarification, or should you have any further questions for me, please do not hesitate to let me know. Best regards, --NicholasTurnbull | (talk) 01:07, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
- What do you do in real lifeTM?
- Real life? You mean that actually exists? :)
- Joking aside, I do all sorts of things. In terms of my career, my work is mainly related to IT; I work as a freelance project manager and management consultant, mainly in solving management problems relating to systems development and team management. I also do the odd spot of systems development myself, as I actually very much enjoy coding, and occasionally I also do systems analysis work. I am in the process of starting a new management consultancy business at present with a colleague of mine. Professional work aside, I am a classical pianist and harpsichordist; I also compose the odd piece of music as a matter of interest. Academically, I am a Computing student, and will be studying Computing with Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sussex in this coming academic year.
- What personal/professional experience would you bring to the board, if elected?
- A large proportion of my professional work is basically acting as an intermediary between what would be ideal in running projects, and what is actually practical - and, probably most importantly, working out methods of achieving the best possible outcome despite resource constraints and the inevitable calamities that happen along the way. The other crucial part of it is dealing with people; managing strengths and weaknesses, sorting out disputes, providing a gentle hand of assistance where necessary, and also occasionally carrying out the somewhat less gentle task of either rehabilitating or removing team members who are not pulling their weight.
- A lot of what I have learned in project management applies, I think, very well to a larger focus of a project-focused organisation like Wikimedia as well - my experience in dealing with variables affecting a project, and using them to produce solutions, is the essence of what I would like to achieve as a Wikimedia board member. It is these elements, I think, that the Wikimedia Foundation as a whole would benefit from improvement in, and it is this expertise I would, to the best of my abilities, bring to the Board.
- What do you see as the role of a board member?
- In a volunteer-dependent organisation such as the Wikimedia Foundation, I believe the duties of a board member are three-fold: 1) to provide an interface to the outside corporate world for the volunteer communities, and the handling of organisational issues, enabling Wikimedia projects to operate and ensure its operational needs are met; 2) to tabulate, analyse and remedy issues affecting the communities of Wikimedia projects, by gathering, developing and implementing solutions to those issues; and finally, 3) act as a guardian of the Foundations's focus and interests, and provide strategic leadership to the volunteer projects, taking responsibility for the Foundation's activities.
- Do you have any personal aspirations you would like to pursue through a tenure on the board?
- It has always been my primary mission in life to make a difference wherever I can in the world, and I believe the Wikimedia Foundation does exactly that - by providing free, comprehensive information on a diverse range of subjects to the world. Thus, I feel that by assisting the Foundation as a Board member, I shall be able to work towards the goal of summarising the world's information into an excellent series of educational resources, for both those privileged enough to have Internet access and also in print form for those who do not, in developing countries. My aspiration is, thus, to contribute my management expertise to the Foundation, participating in ensuring its long-term success and satisfaction of goals; and at a finer degree of working focus, to make a difference to the Foundation projects and those who contribute to them through application of what I know.
- I have absolutely no objection to providing my age at all; if I omitted it from my candidate information and it is general practice to provide it, my omission was merely an oversight, for which I apologise. I am 18 years old, and will add this to my entry on Meta. Thank you for letting me know. Best regards, --NicholasTurnbull | (talk) 01:02, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Board of Trustees election question
In your candidate statement you point out that there have been many disputes over policy and process recently, and that these represent a challenge to Wikipedia. What solutions do you propose to solve these problems? I'm not looking for a list of new edicts, just a general sense of the direction in which you would take us. Thanks. Cynical 14:02, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
- Dear Cynical: Thank you for your question, and I'm sorry for the slight delay in responding to you. I think the best way of answering this very pertinent point would be to describe the overall methodology I would hope to implement, as I think all the major problems that have started to show up relating to community affairs probably fall roughly under the same set of methods necessary for a resolution, which I will outline below:
- Firstly, and probably foremost, liason with the community by the Wikimedia Foundation has been in my opinion generally quite poor with regard to transparency of decision-making and the involvement of the Wikipedia community in decision-making activities. Of course, Wikipedia is not a democracy (and nor should it be, really, since the goal is after all to create an encyclopaedia) but the volunteer editors are nonetheless stakeholders in the project - and, just as is practiced in business projects, thorough consultation with all stakeholder groups is vital to the success of organisational management.
- To date, we have seen controversial policy implementation brought in by fiat without prior direct consultation (q.v. WP:CSD T1 relating to the userbox affair, WP:OFFICE, and "oversight" privileges) which has created undue animosity from both those areas of the community opposing the decision, and external critical entities who disapprove of unilateral enaction of controversial changes (such as Wikitruth and Wikipedia Review, which has the effect of harming the reputation of our project through the characterisation by these organisations of Wikipedia as a dictatorship). We thus have a whole plethora of issues that would be remedied by involving the community more thoroughly in decision-making - perhaps via some sort of policy development system. It could be called Wikipedia:Proposed policy changes, whereby the Board posts the proposed changes and users discuss, but not vote, on the various changes.
- This would hopefully in some cases highlight the issues that would make the proposed change problematic, and indeed may well serve to generate alternative ideas on better ways of solving the issue. It would, in addition, mean that resoundingly unpopular changes could be easily detected prior to implementation, and would theoretically also permit the Board a greater deal of latitude for proposing policies versus simply enacting them - essential for large-scale problem solving on a project of this magnitude.
- Secondarily, there is a lack of direct analysis of indepth issues relating to particular subject areas on Wikipedia; the finer issues relating to article content in specific groups, such as whether particular article subjects are noteworthy enough for inclusion on Wikipedia, appear to be overlooked creating bizarre incongruities between different WikiProjects' decisions, and where authority direction would be advantageous it is avoided (q.v. the "fair use" images debates, and also the Kelly Martin RfC fiasco). This also links in with issues over authority being held by a single "Oracle" without sufficient delegation to deal with an organisational structure that has outgrown its initial size - delegation is an essential part of procedural agility within any organisation, and it is this that needs implementation. I propose the creation of Focus Groups that deal with specific issues on Wikimedia projects, comprised of editors with expertise in the particular areas, which are given some level of control over the enaction of changes in each area (semi-demi-gods, I suppose). As well as the increase of delegation within the Wikimedia organisational structure, I would also advise the Board taking a more proactive stance on solving issues with the community, whilst incorporating the elements of consultation I described above.
- Thirdly, more attention needs to be paid towards the reduction of conflict on Wikipedia. The arbcom solves disputes, but doesn't in my opinion reduce conflict overall, looking at arbitration from a wider perspective - the function of the Arbcom has become more punitive rather than curative. We have an overloaded mediation system; both the Wikipedia:Mediation Committee and the Wikipedia:Mediation Cabal are overburdened and are short-staffed. If we are going to have a project that will survive into the future - which I sincerely hope we shall - we will have to put better measures in place to keep "editing temperature" as low as possible, so that ordinary users can edit without fear of running into some massive dispute in so doing, and the Board will have to, again, be more proactive in remedying these issues. Proper care and attention to the psychological impact of Wikimedia projects (specifically the English Wikipedia) will be vital to ensuring the continued viability of the open editing environment, and these issues encompass a broad spectrum of subjects: everything from the user interface, down to policy decisions, enforcing of decent standards of interaction on talk pages, etc.
- This reply was rather lengthier than I intended, for which I am very sorry! I believe, however, it outlines well the sort of direction I intend to take Wikimedia. Should you have any further questions for me, please let me know. Thank you, and best regards, --NicholasTurnbull | (talk) 21:40, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Policy changes by fiat & advertising
I'm kinda interested in one of your points, about policy changes by fiat; would you consider the Answer.com advertising deal to be such a policy change? For that matter, what do you think of advertising and Wikimedia Foundation-sponsored projects in general? --Rhwawn (talk to Rhwawn) 03:01, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
- Dear Rhwawn: The Answers.com deal could loosely be described as an example of where a change has been applied by "fiat", although it was not in itself a policy decision within the direct domain of Wikipedia; rather, it was a decision arrived at in a different strata of operation without a direct link to the project upon which it was based, which ultimately is a microcosm of the problem regarding community consultation. I think, in my own personal view, that the whole Answers.com decision was handled very poorly indeed by the Foundation, which lead to a great deal more paranoia and unrest amongst the "no advertising" advocates than was at all appropriate in reality, caused simply due to a lack of consultation and information about the proposed licensing deal, especially with relation to the "1-Click Answers" toolbar. It really was "a storm in a teacup" as what was actually agreed upon was comparatively mild, but because of the way the decision was arrived at, as a foregone conclusion rather than a proposal; that made users panic, as a lack of information added to immediate decision making by superiors tends to immediately equate to conspiracy theorism, which helps nobody (least of all the project leader). The only real issues surrounding the Answers.com deal were in truth things like GFDL compliance of Answers.com mirrors using Wikipedia content, and after Jimbo Wales pointed that out to Answers.com, the issue was fixed expeditiously - demonstrative of the fact that if the whole thing had been decided openly, there would have been no paranoia.
- With regard to my standpoint on advertising and sponsorship, I am strongly opposed to Wikipedia, or any other Wikimedia project, carrying advertising of any description; for one, Internet advertisements are intrinsically odious, and secondarily, there are always fears relating to factual resources that advertisements are representative of corporate content insertion into the project, causing undue allegations of Wikipedia's editorial integrity being compromised for commercial reasons that would be best avoided. Sponsorship is, however, another matter, in that the Wikimedia Foundation has costs that are necessary in order to run the project, and ultimately finance will have to come from somewhere in bulk: it strikes me the most sensible manner of gathering such finance is through sponsorship links in industry, and thus it is a necessary activity for a charitable organisation such as Wikimedia to carry out. However, I believe any sponsorship in which the project's endorsement or image will be conferred to the sponsoring organisation (such as the Answers.com Wikipedia Edition) must be discussed thoroughly with project stakeholders, which was not accomplished in the Answers.com deal and I would seek to ensure in the future that this would be carried out.
- I hope this answers your question adequately; should you have any further questions, please do drop me a line. Thank you very much, and best regards, --NicholasTurnbull | (talk) 03:53, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
Collaborative consensus-based nature.
What do you think of the relationship ? Do you see the relation as a federation type or a branch type ? (without or with legal ties). Do you think that chapters should have an authorization to use brand name and logo for deals (such as a DVD publishing) or should the Foundation handle this from a legal perspective ? What is your position in term of membership (should the Foundation have members or not ?). Anthere
PS: would you mind discussing these topics on meta with all editors rather than on the english wikipedia only ?
- no answer ? Anthere
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 ?
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 ?
What should be the business plan of the Foundation ? How would you suggest it earns money ?
Threat and forces
Can you cite 3 forces of the Foundation ? Can you cite the main 3 threats for our projects as of today ?
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)
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 ≈ 02:21, 25 August 2006 (UTC)