User talk:Ziko/Global Council proposal

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Ziko, How do you explain the numbers of representatives you suggest for each grouping? · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 10:05, 3 January 2021 (UTC)

Hello Pbsouthwood, you mean my motivation? I wanted the numbers for minorities to be fairly high in order to enable diversity at this early stage, so that that is mostly settled. I hope that there will be a large variety of affiliates that are considered to be for minorities or marginalized groups. --Ziko (talk) 11:53, 3 January 2021 (UTC)

Ziko, are you proposing a numerical over-representation of minority groups?

General outline[edit]

A council member should not hold other positions in the movement. Would admins, stewards, Arbcom members etc come under this disqualification? · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 10:13, 3 January 2021 (UTC)

Personally, I don't believe this point is really either practical or desirable. It would be really difficult to get the necessary breadth and depth of participation if we disallowed people who were board or staff members of Wikimedia organisations from taking part. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 11:19, 3 January 2021 (UTC)
I think less of administrators or other positions in a wiki, but of positions in affiliates and certainly the WMF Board of Trustees. There are two concerns: neutrality and spare time for council work. But: that is open to discussion, and it is possible to have good arguments for both solutions, of course. --Ziko (talk) 11:55, 3 January 2021 (UTC)
There is always a problem with getting realistic representation of the people who do the actual creative work of building the projects. The people who tend to be available for these positions are often more politicians than content creators. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 18:10, 3 January 2021 (UTC)
What a "position" is will need to be spelled out clearly. E.g., the WMF bylaws say that «Trustees [...] must resign from any board, governance, or paid positions at [Wikimedia organizations] for the duration of their terms as Trustees, but may continue to serve [Wikimedia organizations] in informal or advisory capacities».
I don't know where we should draw the line; a couple of thoughts on this:
  • if we want the council to act in a board-like fashion, we should make it incompatible with other board-like positions (including committees like AffCom and the FDC). If we want it to act in an assembly-like fashion, then we should not.
  • if we want the council to be relatively small (e.g., 10-20 people), we should have incompatibilities. We we want it to be relatively large (50-100+), we probably should not. Moreover, it would be challenging to find 100 good volunteers that do not have other roles.
  • project-level roles should always be allowed. Being an administrator on a Wikipedia, for instance, should never be a problem. Global roles like stewards may be more debatable (but I think it's still ok). - Laurentius (talk) 17:47, 10 January 2021 (UTC)


Interesting proposal about the composition of the Global Council. What will be its purpose? About what can the GC decide? What assets does it manage? Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 18:32, 3 January 2021 (UTC)

Thanks Ad, I will react to this point in my longer answer below. Ziko (talk) 11:21, 4 January 2021 (UTC)

Some issues to consider[edit]

Just a small list to add to the pile of issues to think about...

  1. What is the scope and purpose of the Global Council? There is a certain amount in the strategy recommendations, but (from memory) that is not a huge amount of detail. Previous draft iterations may also shed some light on it.
  2. Is it a legal entity? If so, what is the executive of the legal entity? (you can't have a 61-member executive...) Personally I think we need to prove the concept works, before anyone can really go to the trouble of setting up a new entity. So I would ask an existing movement entity (possibly the WMF, possibly WMDE) to act as 'fiscal sponsor' for the Council, and if in 3-5 years it is working, then to consider establishing it as a new entity.
  3. Size and composition. Form should follow purpose, so in some ways it needs more detailed scope and purpose ... different natures of body might need different sizes. To my mind the lowest possible size is around 20 (to distinguish it from an executive body which should have 9-12 people), the maximum size probably around 100 (because of Dunbar's Number). A larger size might allow for more breadth of representation (or at least more granular representation), and also makes the entity more robust to individuals leaving (permanently or not). However larger size has many costs as well: the obvious financial costs, but also social costs (more relationships to be made and maintained, more risk of sub-grouping) - a larger entity will be even more slow-moving.
  4. Staffing - who provides the necessary secretariat and facilitation staff?
  5. Onboarding and skills development. How will members be inducted and oriented?
  6. Language and translation. Is the Global Council expected to function only in English or some other single language? If not, how is translation to be provided? How much will it cost?
  7. Election - this would need to be fleshed out a bit. How are elections structured, and what voting system is to be used? (Definitely, definitely not approval voting. in my view ;) ) Are there to be quotas to ensure representation of particular characteristics - e.g. if the "Wikipedia Election" results in 95% men being elected, is this a problem (clearly, yes, in my view: the election must be structure to prevent this)
  8. Replacement and retirement. In my view there must be mechanisms for members to temporarily or permanently retire. With a group this large, over a period of 1-2 years there will inevitably be people whose work becomes busy, have bereavements, go on maternity leave, etc. So I would suggest a method is supplied for this. Potentially, election mechanisms could include 'alternate' members.
  9. Standards of behaviour and enforcement. What standards of behaviour and participation are expected of Council members? What method is used to deal with poor behaviour or non-participation? Ziko, in your draft you have that a 2/3 majority can expel people; presumably this is only in event there is some cause for their expulsion?

Thanks! Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 19:55, 3 January 2021 (UTC)

Thank you for the very useful input, Chris! Some larger points:

  • The scope or purpose of the council is... finally up to the council itself; one cannot force the council to occupy itself with topics it does not want to deal with. The Foundation Strategy already mentions some tasks, e.g. the Movement Charter, the updating of the Code of Conduct, but also "holding accountable" the entities of the movement to the charter, which I find quite a huge task.
  • The more tasks for the council, the more members or staff it will need, indeed. A good point is the question of training for the council members. I totally agree with the dilemma: you need a certain minimum number of council members, but if the council is too large, that is a problem by itself too.
  • Based on one of the Foundation Strategy "iterations" I assumed that the council will be an organ of the WMF. An alternative would be a new affiliate (I will expand the proposal accordingly.) For the beginning, one would have to come up with a suitable solution.
  • I did not want to put too many details into the proposal. The elections are one example for that. But I can expand the proposal accordingly, with some alternatives to choose from.
  • Retirement and replacement: In general, kicking somebody out of such a council is very undesirable - the person was elected. On the other hand, we can imagine cases in which that is necessary. Anyway, it is up to the council to make rules about that. "Retirement": probably it will be only a handfull of members who will not be able to function temporarily or permanently at the same time. That would not affect the working of the council. In general, in the first place, only people should be candidates to the council who can and want to make time for council work.
  • Representation of minorities: Even if a large part of the electorate is male (and we cannot change that within the nearby future), experience shows that all these men don't vote exclusively for men. One of the three community elected WMF board members is female. Both affiliate appointed board members are female. Three out of four co-opted board members are female. I also assume that the distinction between categories A and B, and C and D, will contribute significantly to diversity.

For the moment, thanks again, Ziko (talk) 11:21, 4 January 2021 (UTC)

  • On being a legal entity, I mostly agree. We don't need to start with a legal entity, but it if is "hosted" by another organization (and therefore reports, in a way, to another organization's board) in the long term it may be a problem. In any case, it should be designed not to be dependant on a single other Wikimedia organization.
  • "you can't have a 61-member executive": technically (legally), I don't see why not. But it would surely be impractical. - Laurentius (talk) 17:58, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
Hello Laurentius, point 1: ultimately, any organization that calls itself "Wikimedia" is dependent on the WMF, because it defines who is allowed to use that trademark.
Point 2: what is the council supposed to be, a legislative or an executive? Mainly, a legislative, but some of the tasks do sound like tasks for an executive, true. Ziko (talk) 18:42, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure if it is already set whether the WMF will be the owner of the trademarks in the future. In any case, powers can be balanced in different ways. I agree with you that real independence is not possible (nor desirable, actually; we should aim for an interdependant movement, not a collection of independent entities), and who owns the trademarks has a lot of power, but the topic is still worth considering. - Laurentius (talk) 21:26, 10 January 2021 (UTC)

Category B definition[edit]

Hi Ziko, thanks for kicking first thought off. Not sure if I misunderstand the concept, so I try to explain how I read it:

  • Category A is composed of active editors (to be defined) of any Wikimedia project, as long as they do not belong to category B.
  • Category B is composed of active editors on projects other than Wikipedia or in languages other than English.
  • For me French Wikipedia editors are in cat B. And therefor category A is only composed of editors on English Wikipedia.

I don't think that that's your intention, and it may depend on if you read the or as exclusive or not. And as said, maybe the confusion is only in my brain. Could you elaborate a bit on category B? Alice Wiegand (talk) 22:17, 4 January 2021 (UTC)

Many editors could be in both Cat A and Cat B at the same time as I read it. Does a contributor get representation for each project they are active in or just once, or something else I have not considered? · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 05:55, 5 January 2021 (UTC)
Would activity criteria be established globally or by the relevant projects? · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 06:01, 5 January 2021 (UTC)
Hello, the precise border between A and B is up to discussion. The intention is indeed to create a category B where people have a chance to be elected if they are not active on a large wiki such as English Wikipedia. How about reserving category B for wikis that have their basis in the Global South? Or, name the few wikis that would be in category A specifically?
In general: an editor can become a voter if he has made 50 edits within six months in a wiki. He can indicate for which wiki he wants to vote. When it comes to candidates, I think that people should be able to run for both categories, independently of their activities in a wiki. This means that e.g. Barack Obama and Theresa May could be candidates in category A and/or B, and then it is up to the voters whether they want to vote for them. Ziko (talk) 21:16, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

Category E purpose[edit]

Looks like a solid initial proposal. What is the intended purpose of Category E (members elected by other members)? I haven't seen this kind of representative in others structures before. My initial guess is that it's meant to allow council members to fill certain expertise gaps? Traditionally this issue is resolved by specific election of a position instead (e.g. treasurer, co-ordinator, etc). The principal risk in members elected by other members is it being used for unhelpful, nepotistic appointments, or allowing the enforcement of internally imposed majorities, potentially leading to capture of power by a certain group/groups. Some examples from elsewhere would give a good indication of how this category can be used positively in practice. Sillyfolkboy (talk) 19:09, 9 January 2021 (UTC)

Hello @Sillyfolkboy:, thanks, the motivation is the following:
  • Indeed, the category E members are an opportunity to bring experts on board, or people from groups who are underrepresented (among the members from category A-D), or just any person who for any reason was not elected in category A-D.
  • Also: those candidates have the best chances who likely find support among the other council members, who are supported by members from different categories.
  • The members from category E might feel that it is especially them who represents the movement as a whole. They do not directly represent one of the other categories.
  • The number of category E members should, though, not be too high because their democratic legitimation is rather indirect.
(I know such a category from the Universal Esperanto Association which has a category A (affiliates), B (individual members of the association) and C (elected by the council members from A and B.)
Kind regards, Ziko (talk) 22:14, 9 January 2021 (UTC)


Without a clearly defined purpose of this "entity", this sounds like a bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy or a prime target for hat collectors. I think this group should not exist. — regards, Revi 16:10, 10 January 2021 (UTC)

Hello, the council will have a purpose, dont't worry, but I don't think that it is my task to precisely describe it. Ziko (talk) 16:15, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
Also erst mal ein Gremium erfinden, und dann mal schauen, wofür es überhaupt gut sein soll. Ist das nicht falsch herum aufgezäumt? Sollte nicht als allererstes klar sein, wozu etwas benötigt wird, und dann geschaut werden, womit das denn am Besten erreicht werden könnte? Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 16:20, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
Nein, welche Aufgaben das Council haben soll, steht ja in der Foundation Strategy. Du kannst dort gern nachschlagen und herausinterpretieren, welche Aufgaben das sind.
Ich selbst bin übrigens skeptisch, ob das Council diese Aufgaben aus der Strategy überhaupt stemmen kann. Was meinst du dazu?
Letzten Endes wird das Council das alles selbst entscheiden (= welche Aufgaben es übernehmen will und was für Committees usw. dafür nötig sind). Was ich vorschlage, ist nur das allgemeine Gerüst, innerhalb dessen diese Fragen angegangen werden können. Ziko (talk) 16:34, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
Hello again. In general, I agree with you both that form should follow function. But in the beginning it is impossible to know already exactly all of the tasks and challenges, and the other entities will have a say about it too. And in my opinion, the tasks outlined in the Foundation Strategy might not be the perfect and final set; and, as always, interpretation will be necesseary. Further: I did not find it appropriate for me to define these tasks by myself. Ziko (talk) 17:15, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
I find it not appropriate by the WMF and its cronies to create new bodies, without defining exactly, what is proposed beforehand. It's the same as with the new board setup, tey eliminate any kind of election from the process, but say: Trust us, it wil somehow reappear by magic. I have absolutely no trust in the WMF left, not after the many disasters they inflicted on the communities (SuperPutsch, Framban, Renaming nonsense... to name only the huge ones). They far too often acted explicitly against the communities to deserve any trust. I have not seen any believable apologies for all these assaults on the communities. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 22:30, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
This. I believe this is going to be 'North Korea parliament' which has 100% support for what 'party' does, and I don't think this is a good thing to do. — regards, Revi 12:39, 19 January 2021 (UTC)


Thank you Ziko for your thoughts.

Many proposal you made are a bit too specific for me now, so I won't comment them in detail (e.g., I generally do no like the idea of having two vice-chairs; but that's a minor point); but I will write down anyway some ideas on a few points. More specifically, on elections:

  • Altough counting votes is a bit more difficult, I would consider different weights instead of different elections. I mean, if you think that "big projects" and "small projects" should have the same representation, then have a global list of candidates and have both vote for them; but weight their votes in order to make them equal.
  • What is the rationale behind having lists? - Laurentius (talk) 17:34, 10 January 2021 (UTC)

Ah, thanks! On the two points:

  • The first point is about categories A and B? I may not fully understand: Who will exactly vote, the communities or the individual editors? And what will be weight?
  • Lists for the elections in categories C and D: Ideally, a list will propose a great group of different people. The list makers can consider candidates who, together as a group, represent different backgrounds within the category.

Ziko (talk) 17:44, 10 January 2021 (UTC)