Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard

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Welcome to the Board of Trustees' noticeboard. This is a message board for discussing issues related to Wikimedia Foundation governance and policies, and related Board work. Please post new messages at the bottom of the page and sign them.
  • For details of the Board's role and processes, see the Board Handbook.
  • Threads older than 90 days will be automatically archived by ArchiverBot.

Proposed resolution on user rights process[edit]

As announced earlier, I prepared a very simple text the board can certainly agree with: User:Nemo bis/User rights process. Please schedule for the earlier opportunity (a quick online meeting is probably sufficient). I recommend to vote on it before the WMF board elections end, to ensure higher participation. --Nemo 20:48, 8 May 2015 (UTC)

Hi Nemo, I will bring this to the attention of the board. But this is in no way the "easy" topic you are suggesting it is. I will get back to you Jan-Bart (talk) 10:30, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

Now that superprotect is gone, we no longer have the hypothetical problem "OMG the board is giving micro-management orders to the ED". It's time for the WMF board to focus on how to avoid future errors like that. Nemo 18:48, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

I agree, this is a good time to address this important issue. Thank you Nemo bis for taking the time and effort to put this proposal together. -Pete F (talk) 18:48, 8 November 2015 (UTC)
While this tool was not so much of a problem in and of itself, it was the misuse of this tool that was of concern IMO. Hopefully the same issue will not simply arise via another technique. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:25, 2 January 2016 (UTC)
The section was mistakenly archived by a bot. Nemo 07:47, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Have the stewards been notified about this proposal? It seems to fit neatly within their existing role. John Vandenberg (talk) 00:54, 4 August 2016 (UTC)

Yes, see MF-W's comment. Of course it's fine if the WMF board sends a final notice to Stewards' noticeboard before approving the resolution. Nemo 09:42, 4 August 2016 (UTC)

@Nemo bis: As I have stated here Talk:Wikimedia Foundation board agenda 2016-09, I am willing to look into it more. It seems that the original proposal was not commented much. Only Peteforsyth and Sj commented on it. Stephen thinks that both the legal team and the community engagement team should discuss it with Katherine. It may be more appropriate to address questions like this in an initiatives like the Technical Collaboration Guideline instead of a Board resolution --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 01:18, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Thank you for this update, NTymkiv (WMF), I agree that this would be a good thing to discuss. For my part, I am certainly open to the idea that the goals of Nemo's proposal could be met without the need for a board resolution. The part I feel strongly should be done at the executive or board level is a formal acknowledgment of the Superprotect letter signed by more than 1,000 people, some discussion of what the organization has learned from the process, and how it might impact efforts going forward. In my view, that does not need to include the kind of specific commitments in Nemo's proposal; I would think a short blog post signed by the ED and/or members of the Board would be sufficient. I have discussed this in depth with Qgil-WMF in recent months, and heard briefly from Katherine (WMF); it's my impression that Katherine opposes formal acknowledgment, but I have not heard the reasons for her opposition. -Pete F (talk) 19:44, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

About this page[edit]

When I entered the WMF Board of Trustees in summer 2012 I wanted to create a place where the community can get in contact with the Board, where exchange and deliberation can happen and where Board and community have the opportunity to get a better mutual understanding. After some discussions in the Board SJ started this page in November 2012.

Looking back I think the page hasn’t fulfilled its purpose and it was created with too little thinking about expectations and realization. In general the page has become more a Q&A page, where the Qs are a mixed bag of curiosity, assumptions, and inquiry and where the As are behind schedule or missing at all.

Why is that? The Board does not have a general process how to deal with this page. So, if you get an answer depends on if your question has been noticed by a board member who feels able to answer. If your question addresses staff related issues, you probably won’t get an answer at all. That’s far away from what was intended and also far away from how we imagine a fruitful communication between community and board. We definitely need to think about how to fix it with the resources we have. Given the amount and the importance of issues on the Board’s task list, I can’t promise you a quick solution, but I wanted to let you know that the Board is aware of this flaw and wants to change it. Alice Wiegand (talk) 09:34, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

It would help us, the Community, to help you, the Board, if you were able to give us some ideas of the amount of additional effort that you might be willing to invest in the desired fruitful communication. So far it is clear that the interaction has not been as fruitful as we all wish but I claim that the principal reason is that the Board has not been willing or able to invest the time and energy required. This is a pity as I am sure there are members of the Community ready willing and able to assist if only they were able to engage the Board in a constructive way. As I have already pointed out, the persistent failure to engage is diminishing the Community's confidence in the Board, and this is something that needs to be improved sooner rather than later. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:27, 17 April 2016 (UTC)
Rogol, I honestly disagree that "additional effort" is a realistic opportunity. My personal opinion is that if something does not work the way you expect, it doesn't help just to do more of it. You need to do it differently to make a shift. Alice Wiegand (talk) 18:45, 18 April 2016 (UTC)
It is for you and your fellow Board members to determine the amount of effort you wish to devote to engaging with the Community: the choice is yours. You seem to be telling us that however you wish to engage in the future, you will not be devoting any more effort than you do at present, and that is your decision to make. But that decision has consequences, and it is for you to accept responsibility for those consequences. The amount of effort devoted by the Board collectively and individually in this forum and elsewhere to engagement with the Community on strategic matters has been small: very small. Indeed, elsewhere on this page I described it as conveying an impression, whether intentional or not I cannot say, of an attitude to the Community akin to contempt. This is the message you are sending out, and the message you are willing to continue to send out for the indefinite future. That is your choice, and I think it is a damaging one: you are choosing to worsen an already poor relationship by your inaction and disengagement. It is clear that the Board needs help in the present situation. It has, for whatever reason, chosen to allow its Advisory Committee to lapse, and it is faced with a major crisis in the governance of the Foundation and in the management of its own membership, to the extent that it cannot always manage its own affairs correctly. This is a time to ask for help, not the time to alienate the Community by comments which suggest that the reason for the Board's lack of engagement is that the Community has somehow failed to ask you the right questions. There is no way in which a successful mode of exchange and deliberation can be developed if you are not prepared to invest time and effort in participating fully and frankly in it. It doesn't matter what the Community does, if the Board is not prepared to engage. I do not know how to help you if you are determined not to be helped. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:33, 18 April 2016 (UTC)

Mostly, this page could be merged to the Wikimedia Forum, from which issues can be "escalated"/notified to wikimedia-l (which WMF board members really ought to follow; following would be easier if WikimediaAnnounce-l was properly managed). What's really needed is a place for the community to officially log concrete proposals, such as #Proposed resolution on user rights process, which of course are expected to be preceded by wide discussion in proper venues (such as the Wikimedia Forum itself). Of course the WMF has never cared about community proposals in the last decade; but who knows, things might change sometime if people are given a chance. Nemo 07:47, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

I do see a problem Alice mentioned above that "the Board does not have a general process how to deal with this page" and "If your question addresses staff related issues, you probably won’t get an answer at all". I would suggest just keeping this page tidy in a usual way: receive request -> check if relevant -> if No -> close / move to a more relevant place -> if Yes -> post some kind of confirmation that the request was noticed and (if applicable) what's the timeline for finding the answer (No, Yes, Maybe, Honestly do not know etc). Probably we should have some place where to publish some useful Q&A (if any). Or a map with link to the archives (by the way, Rogol's amazing at referring to useful stuff, relevant for the topics discussed, even if it is archived (see here) :) ) --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 01:43, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

It's very nice of Nataliiya to say that, but I have to say that the "useful stuff" which I have been attempting to propose over the last year or so appears to have gained remarkably little traction with the Board (or, indeed, the community at large). It appears to me that the Board collectively and individually do not have the time or the inclination to engage with the community here or, indeed, anywhere else. I should be only to happy to be proved wrong about that, and challenge the Board members to do so. I do not know what more members of the community willing and able to engage constructively can do to help the Board. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 17:19, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
I do apologize if my comment sounded as if it was a compliment. I didn't mean to. I was stating the fact. Re: Attention. Well, I do not know. It is really interesting that your comments or input do not attract visible attention (like being commented on a lot), though you usually raise important questions. I would actually prefer to think that people see your comment -> nod in agreement and do not engage, so the Board/staff/other people can read it. Though I do not know the answer, of course. Maybe your mysterious personality has something to do with it. I mean people may be more interested in who you are, than in things you do (that was the elephant in the room pointed out :) ). That was all kind of off-topic. Rogol Domedonfors, could you please tell me what you think of my comment about the future of this page. Have you got other suggestions? (JFYI: I am going to commit to keeping this page clean and look for closure of the questions posted, but this cannot be viewed as a permanent solution, of course. Though I hope to work the rules for how this should work along the way (in the best case scenario)) --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 19:17, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
I would be happy to see a member of the Board spending time reading this page and handling comments, if it were to build constructiv engagement and improve the quality of Board/Community relations and strategic decision-making across the mission. However, it will not be an effective use of the time either of yourself or the community if there is no backing from the Board collectively to address issues raised. I would point out that Q&A is certainly part of the process here, and one which has partial success a couple of years ago [1] and [2] and less last year [3]. However proposals and suggestions are routinely misunderstood or mistreated as if they were simply factual questions, possibly because many of them are couched in polite terminology which gives the appearnce of a factual question rather than a proposition: "Have you considered doing X" rather than "I suggest you do X". To develop a fruitful engagement – and it is a relationship that needs to be started and nurtured – there needs to be genuine interaction of a level of mutual respect and understanding, and I venture to suggest that when Board members start from the position that they simply do not have time to engage with constructive propositions from serious and experienced members of the community, then that fruitful engagement cannot and will not result. I would not want to see a member of the Board promise, or be seen to promise, something they cannot deliver. In passing, I would hope that Board members, and the serious and experienced members of the community I refer to, are capable of treating a proposed question or suggestion on its merits without their consideration being derailed by speculation about the proposer. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:05, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

wmf:Resolution:Gift Policy Amendments Increase Threshold[edit]

«In most cases, the Board will be given 7 business days to decline». What a funny wording:

  • "be given" for "will give itself",
  • "in most cases" but no mention of who decides which cases are like "most" and which will require more time.

Is 7 days really an appropriate time? Such grants can take months of discussions, hence

  • such a limit forces the board to a yes/no choice without possibility of amendments and
  • the ED/delegate has a remarkable discretionary power in deciding when to submit the grant for approval.

I note this minimal amendment was not joined by any change to increase transparency. Also, will the WMF website state who is delegated by the ED for such matters, if anyone? --Nemo 07:38, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Just for the topic to stay here --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 21:08, 7 October 2016 (UTC)

Privacy Policy — Information We Collect : proposed disclosure is misleadingly incomplete[edit]

(revised for length; Sj's reply is to un-revised comments) The Privacy Policy was discussed at the board meeting last week. I pushed for and gained consensus for language in the new policy that made it clear that the privacy policy would not allow browser fingerprinting. It was added back in December 2013 when this was discussed AT LENGTH at Talk:Privacy_policy/Archives/2013_(2)#Information_We_Collect:_proposed_disclosure_is_misleadingly_incomplete. and stayed in the draft for weeks. Then on the last day, it was removed. Now we have a draft privacy policy that does not bar browser sniffing, does not indicate that browser sniffing may take place and yet claims to be maximally informative. That's an untenable situation. That's the bottom line. I've complained about this as Talk:Privacy_policy when I noticed it, and was ignored. I hope the board adopts a new policy that is not misleadingly incomplete. Be honest. Clarification: I'm talking about the practice of browser sniffing to uniquely identify a reader by collecting as much information about the browser as possible including plugins and fonts. I'm not talking about simple browser sniffing to counteract user agent spoofing or even simpler straightforward use of the User-Agent string (of § 14.43 of RFC 2616/HTTP/1.1). I'm saying that after having read the policy and FAQ, a user should know what browser fingerprinting is (via a link, perhaps), know that WM employs it, and that access is restricted to approved projects and user groups X, Y, Z, only (link to list of existing pages on them ). Also, I think that the policy should have one definition for "personal information", but the current draft has three (and there's a fourth here)! I think it should be the policy itself "that describes what sorts of browser fingerprinting may happen", not a non-binding FAQ. At the moment, neither does. And LVilla thinks browser fingerprinting relies on cookies; it does not. --Elvey (talk) May 2014 (UTC)

That makes sense, thank you. LuisV is overseeing this, so I believe he's the one who you should check is open to incorporating these improvements. (The Board reviews and approves major overhauls, and we've already approved this one; we don't approve or review incremental changes such as the one you're proposing, since we have ridiculously talented legal staff to handle that. And I know everyone involved wants the result to be as awesome as possible, so exactly this sort of incremental change may be made over time.) SJ talk  13:47, 24 May 2014 (UTC)
Sj, FYI: LuisV stalled and ultimately failed to respond at all.--Elvey (talk) 07:47, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
User:LVilla (WMF) User:LuisV (WMF) Hello?--Elvey (talk) 19:31, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
User:LVilla (WMF) User:LuisV (WMF) Hello?--Elvey (talk) 19:31, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
SJ? Anyone?--Elvey (talk) 19:32, 6 October 2016 (UTC)
Hi Elvey, Talk:Privacy policy still seems like the right place to discuss updates to the policy or its descriptions. You might have more luck discussing a very specific change, and queueing that up for the next time the policy is revisited. Of course you may still get no response; but proposing a specific, minimal revision is a fast way to get feedback from busy people. SJ talk  03:14, 7 October 2016 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
Seriously? A specific, minimal revision was put forward! Please reread: "I pushed for and gained consensus for language in the new policy that made it clear that the privacy policy would not allow browser fingerprinting. This issue is ripe for response from the board. Especially after Luis Villa totally squashed the discussion, after removing the consensus-backed language at the last minute. --Elvey (talk) 21:13, 10 October 2016 (UTC)


Search box[edit]

This page should have links to the archives, and a search box for them.--Elvey (talk) 19:32, 6 October 2016 (UTC)

Fixed, partially. No working link to archives.--Elvey (talk) 21:13, 10 October 2016 (UTC)

Litigation[edit]

It seems that the WMF is currently involved in at least three different legal cases according to its blog [4], [5], [6]. The appeal for donations linked on the front page of the Foundation website [7] currently reads

Where your donation goes
Technology: Servers, bandwidth, maintenance, development. Wikipedia is one of the top 10 websites in the world, and it runs on a fraction of what other top websites spend.
People and Projects: The other top websites have thousands of employees. We have about 300 staff to support a wide variety of projects, making your donation a great investment in a highly-efficient not-for-profit organization.

I call on the Board to state how much donors' money they expect to spend on these legal actions, and to explain to the donors how they reconcile that expenditure with the statement quoted here. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:39, 18 October 2016 (UTC)

Do you think any of them were a bad idea? I think they are all appropriate and I'm glad the actions were taken, and consider them a good use of my and others contributions. I do support openness, however. Wikipedia's expenditures are less clear than they once were. I remember being able to look at individual expenditures on a test basis to see if purchasers were making good choices and getting good value or not. Now, there's no way to drill down. Impacts my attitude toward giving. I find the answer at [8] to be unacceptable, for example. Doesn't contain a single link. Even https://15.wikipedia.org/financials.html offers no way to drill down like that.--Elvey (talk) 08:13, 31 October 2016 (UTC)