Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Conversations/2021-02-20 - Second Office Hours/Third session
2020-02-20 Meeting 3 of the second office hours on the Call for Feedback
- The conversation ran from 16:00 to 17:40 UTC
- Number of participants: 23
- Quim : starts explaining the logistics of the meeting. Introduces the team and its roles. The meetup will be recorded, transcribed and published later, including chat.
- These ideas - the board wants to hear feedback about these ideas, but haven't decided anything. The board members opinions shared in this meeting are personal views only.
- Quotas Nosebagbear isn't in favor of the current way. There are more disadvantages than advantages.
- The board is not set up as a representative democracy where each represents a different community, but it would be.
One of the gaols of the board is to make sure that we have a group of individuals that has a diverse perspectives, and also understanding the world very well.
Having too many board members from one specific geographic for an organization that is trying to represent that world, we migth not have the best diversity of ideas.
So having a seat or two aside for a specific region or expertise helps.
- Richard : Geography-wise there has been underrepresentation on the Board. If there are board members from communities such as Africa and Asia it would be good. I think some people would be surprised by how much is in common between Wikimedia NYC and Wikimedia BD.
- Ad : I really won't mind if from the new seats, if there will be one from Asia and Africa. The appointed seats should also be considered to have candidates from other continents apart from North America. Communities and affiliate elections have elected candidates from all regions expect from Asia and Africa. Is the board considering to use appointed seats to bring people from Asia and Africa, and keep open elections for community seats?
- James : Personally, I would be open to consider that (this is my personal view). The board is open to ideas.
- Nosebagbear : Why the number of appointed seats was increased, if it wasn't serving the purpose. I fully agree that using the new appointed seats to increase diversity on the Board.
- Quim : The Appointed trustees are for skills and community seats for community representation.
- James : Currently, people bring perspective from different regions. Eshra brings perspective from Arabic region, Raju from India, Dariusz from Easter Europe, thought they don't necessarily live in those regions. It is tough to define regions.
- Maria : We have been working in this direction for the past few appointed seats. (examples given by James). Black women from US can also bring a different perspective. I think differentiation between appointed and community seats for this won't help much
- Richard :proposed three seats as regional and three more seats by vote ....
- Maria :welcomes this idea
- Robert : Diversity should come naturally but not forced by having special seats for them. No one should get more chance at the cost of others who would be elected if there are no quotas. There can be
- Manav : How are we going elect? There are people who are great candidates but are not much known, people will not vote for them. There may be less communities in a certain region. The voting for regional representatives can be limited to the region only.
- Maria : These are big conversations that needs to happen in their region - what their needs and how they want to select candidate for their region, not necessarily with the methods already tested.
- Quim : People winning elections might be good at election, but not necessarily skilled enough to actually serve on the board.
- Nosebagbear : against shifting from open election
- James : Perspectives from other communities are important. People need to know people they are voting. Not exactly a popularity contest
- Maria : For Africa, there are structural barriers, even if they nominate they won't get in, because people won't vote. What can we do to address these?
- James : Organizer of Wikimania in South Africa contested last time. With current mechanisms, there is very less chance. But we can develop mechanisms.
- Maria : There are almost fifteen candidates, but none of them made it.
- Robert : If people are not winning may mean they are not the best candidates. We need to have the best candidates - not by changing the election process.
- Maria : The current system favors North American candidates, it is a fix for that.
- Quim : Time is a also a factor. Not everyone starts equally. Men may have more time than women in the same household (lots of research and experience) Improvements can be made not to favor richness in time.
- Ad : Last ASBS election got diverse candidates.
- Idris : STV system - not able to understand it quite well.
- Ad : explains STV
- Bachounda : The etherpad - if you want to follow the notes or add or edit https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/2020-02-20_Community_Board_Seats
- Krishna Chaitanya Velaga : Link to the etherpad https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/2020-02-20_Community_Board_Seats
- Nosebagbear : (I should note I have absolutely no objection to designated appointed seats - I find that more of its purpose)
- Nosebagbear : What is it a "little bit more"?
- Richard Knipel : I would be happy even with a substantial amount more, as long as they are genuinely reflecting the communities in those regions and not WMF appointees or overly determined by WMF
- Nosebagbear : That actually discourages against the degree of affiliate control. Individuals shouldn't have to join an affiliate to place the most influence possible on the WMF governance.
- Richard Knipel : that's fair
- Richard Knipel : I had a very specific proposal for how to split seats to be chosen this year, if that is ever appropriate to discuss today.
- Oscar Costero : We are already in the middle of the meeting :)
- Nosebagbear : I have to disagree especially to the sheer scale (as well as the general concept).
- Richard Knipel : To clarify, I would like to also keep the global affiliate-chosen seats that we have currently, but elections wouldn't be this year i.e., Nat and Shani's seats as chosen by all the affiliates collectively.
- Nosebagbear : Then that's even worse imo - the at-large Community must be able to select a clear majority of all community seats without restriction.
- Ad Huikeshoven : Could the moderators do a round robin of voices present in the call?
- Richard Knipel : yes, I have spoken enough :).
- Nosebagbear: +1 (to Robert)
- Richard Knipel : I think all community mechanisms should be a majority, though I don't think community on-meta votes have to be a majority.
- Manavpreet Kaur : Makes sense. Especially when the regional engagement in all these conversations have been very limited from some regions.
- Nosebagbear : Affiliates aren't true representatives of the Community though - not everywhere has an affiliate, and not everyone should have to join an affiliate to get full representation.
- Richard Knipel : I would personally love it if the board could change so 9/16 or a bit more are in the community-and--affiliates seats.
- Nosebagbear : Confirming at-large election is the only method to use would be something I'd like to duiscc. discuss*
- Quim Gil : o/ to provide context to Manav's question, coming from previous meetings.
- Manavpreet Kaur : Exactly Maria
- Manavpreet Kaur : Agree
- Oscar Costero : 15 minutes left of the (official) meeting
- Nosebagbear : Exactly. I would also say, while individuals don't need to be social, communities do want candidates to show they're willing to answer questions and participate in discussions - not just in the election but generally (and after they get selected)
- Nosebagbear : Manav, you said, as part of yours, that only members from a region should vote in it. Would you also say they have the ability to vote in the at-large seats? Do concerns of double-votes not arise from that?
- Quim Gil : o/
- Robert Blinov : +1 to Nosebagbear
- Manavpreet Kaur : My submission was only about regional representatives. If we decide the representation metrics for community seats
- Manavpreet Kaur : In that case, Have we considered doing profile voting rather than voting for an individual?
- Nosebagbear : While I am somewhat negative to STV, has anyone done any mathemtical and research into seeing whether one of those candidates *would* have been elected under an STV system?
- Quim Gil:o//
- Richard Knipel : I do think there are a number of high-quality canddates who have not ran in elections before
- Nosebagbear : @Manav - I go and review people's participation during BOT elections. I couldn't do that without an actual set of detail
- iddrisu khadija : please what is the STV system?
- Denis Barthel : Nosebagbear, I had a conversation yesterday with the German Wikiwomen - none of them liked quotas to much, but they said it really makes a start, initiates a shift. Thats what they saw it being useful for.
- Manavpreet Kaur : Details but no names?
- Richard Knipel : community at-large seats can coexist with regional seats, we could even expand the number of community-at large seats at the same time as adding regional seats
- Nosebagbear : Denis, except it's a blunt tool, and causes colleteral damage on the way, and then ultimately proves impossible to get rid of even when its purpose seems met
- Oscar Costero : We have 5 min left of the official meeting
- Robert Blinov : Quim, that is just the truth of life
- Nosebagbear : Given that Board members are unpaid, and the Community generally supports that status quo, "having enough time" is a standard question.
- Nosebagbear : Maria, could you cover the question that has come up a lot in the recommendations discussions and elsewhere - that community members feel it is unfair that we would have to join an affiliate or usergroup in order to have the most effect on the WMF governance (in effect, to get "two" votes)
- James Heilman : "single transferable vote"
- Quim Gil : STV
- Richard Knipel : this is an important question!
- James Heilman : It is the election system used by New Zealand
- Denis Barthel : See this very instructive video too:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8XOZJkozfI @iddrisu
- Quim Gil : Links and also community opinions about STV and other systems at https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_of_Trustees/Call_for_feedback:_Community_Board_seats/Ranked_voting_system
- R Has : It has some issues, but also comes with some significant positives. It's one of the few proposed changes that I'm neither clearly positive nor negative towards
- You : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote
- Quim Gil : Thank you Ad, and sorry if I put you in the spot. :)
- Quim Gil : (Ravan had to leave, perhaps her little baby didn't agree with the extended meeting.) :)
- Richard Knipel : yes, the candidate list restrictions are the worst idea, which is why I think regional seats are a much better alternative
- R Has : *will zip mouth*
- Richard Knipel : better to conciously build a mechanism that encourages diversity rather than selecting from top-down
- Ad Huikeshoven : Thank you Quim for allowing me to explain Single Transferable Vote.
- Paulo Perneta : Noseb has a raised hand
- Nosebagbear : Quota reserach is by no means unianimous in favour of it working. And where it does, there are usually additional crequirements for it to have a structural benefit
- Paulo Perneta : That's my impression as well, Nosabagbear Nose*
- Oscar Costero : Thanks for everyone!!
This is an automatic transcript. The team has edited it only slightly and many mistakes still remain. We welcome corrections.
[00:00:07] Ok. Hi, I'm Nosebagbear is here, and I really like to know what it is ideas are of no back here.
[00:00:28] There you go. So it was freezing as you were trying to start a recording. OK, so I've got a few comments, but since we're all staying at one point at a time, I sort of raise the first four kids vines, which was. Came from reading the transcript from the first week's discussion; particularly the committee's, it's not what you come up so much on Meta, which is proposals for various quotas.
[00:00:56] And there have been three main categories of them: geographic, gender and the more recent specialization group. I'm here to register a general reticence against such a method, primarily because they're being menus, the geographic agenda ones, that is, I don't know much about the specialization ones in order as a means of trying to promote fairness, but in doing so are actually risking much of the opposite. So. It's in some of the proposals I've seen would elevate some certain groups, sort of electoral sort of representation to the degree that community trustees do have a representative function to up to eight times that of other members. This seems disproportionally unfair and seems counterproductive in some ways. A, it hurts on the representation front, but B, it's also just a negative in that we can lose people who would otherwise be viewed as more skilled. And it just seems counterproductive to the whole idea of it being an elected representative group. I think the sort of the positives the people are trying to make from are obvious, but I think the negatives heavily outweigh those positives.
[00:02:41] So, James, I'm wondering if you want to take this question.
[00:02:55] Yep, sure, I can say a few things about that.
[00:03:00] You know, how the how the board is set up is just not set up as a representative democracy, where different seats in the board are voted to the board to represent the community that they come from?
[00:03:17] It would be possible maybe to change how the wiki, how the board is set up to be more like that. But currently, you know, it isn't. So, you know, with respect to your question, you know, is it OK to give, can I try to summarize it as you know, is it OK to give certain areas of the world a greater vote than other areas of the world and move away from having one individual in the movement having one vote? Is that sort of your comment on that?
[00:03:59] I think he just something like have pressed the wrong button as I did.
[00:04:07] Yep. Yep. Google puts the hang-up button right beside the mute button. They could really use some improvements in their software. I've said so many people do that. Oh, there he is. He's back.
[00:04:21] So Google meets, as always, they crash it for me, it was less the truth represent the function of somewhere that it's everyone in current in a general pool, each one. But more that people were stating in their reasoning for why they wanted quotas is because they felt they would get better representation by having, as it were, candidate pools, even if the electoral pool is shared across all of them. So that's why I was using that phrasing, even though I'm well aware that it's not actually in the sense of how we would elect candidates, some people only voting for certain ones. It's everyone, of course, everyone. But people are wanting these things, OK, stating that, wanting them. The small groups in the various tracks I've seen so far because they would feel they are being better represented.
[00:05:16] Yep, certainly, you know, one of the goals of the board is to make sure that we have a group of individuals that has diverse perspectives and understand the various aspects of not only the, you know, the movement globally, but have a good understanding of the world globally as well.
[00:05:37] And one way to move a little bit more in that direction is to put aside seats that have specific expertise and put aside seats that come from specific geographical locations. So hopefully the individuals that fill those seats will bring an expertise regarding that locale, you know, of course, if we if all of our board members are from the United States, for example, thankfully they're not. We have four board members in the United States right now, six board members not from the United States, but having too many board members from one specific location for an organization that's trying to work on efforts globally isn't going to help us achieve our mission. So putting in putting aside a seat or two seats for specific areas with specific expertise, I don't see as necessarily too much of a concern right now. We already have a seat put aside, for example, for financial expertise from the United States. So you know, Tanya, one of our board members, she brings that specific expertise. She has expertise in finances, corporate finance, specifically in the geographical locale of the United States.
[00:07:00] Thank you, James. So we have Richard first then and then a thank you. So, Richard, you can go now, please.
[00:07:10] Hi, I am Richard User:Pharos. I'd like to say I'm from New York, New York and the United States. I'd like to speak in favor of regional seats. I think there are a lot of issues with quotas, especially when they're not clear cut. For example, gender might not necessarily clear cut. I mean, not everything's on a gender binary and it's not so easily divided. Geography is one area where we know there's underrepresentation that's been, I think, the most clear area of underrepresentation of the board.
[00:07:45] I think it's been clear both in the appointed seats and in the elected seats. So I wouldn't give the appointed seats a pass on that necessarily.
[00:07:53] But I do think that if we had more representation on the board from Africa and Asia and Latin America leaving a little bit more than there is the communities, I think that would be a good thing as long as it is a democratic system, as long as it's based on those communities, as long as based on the African community and the Asian community, et cetera. And I would favor something like an ASBS system that is drawn from the affiliates in those areas. And I think that that could be useful, a useful system. I think speaking as someone who's from an affiliate in the developed world and speaking to somebody primarily English Wikipedia and other English language projects, I think some people would be surprised by how much in common, say, the New York affiliate has in common with the Ghanaian affiliate and the Bangladeshi affiliate in terms of their perspective. And I would welcome more of those participants on the board.
[00:08:50] Thank you. Thank you, Richard. So, Ed, you want to stick?
[00:08:59] Yes, please. The debate has expanded to 16 seats is call for feedback about community seats you want to add are important seats and there will be three available for appointment and the community seats in this, only six because three communities elected or selected ones are at the end of the term and are three new ones.
[00:09:31] What we rather see with specialization and the three of them from America, I really won't mind if I'm from the new seats, this will be one selected from Africa and one from Asia. But keep the selection of the electorate of the community seats from the general election in a proportional system. I think that that will be fair. The last selection from affiliate two years ago selected one woman from Ukraine and that's Eastern Europe and one woman from a woman from Israel with the Middle East. So both are not from America and not from Western Europe. So I don't and I'm not really in fear of. That an election will pay for people from America, are people from Western Europe fear more that the appointed needs if there are three of them from America? Yes, the fear, much greater fear that and another election. There will be people selected from the United States and from other places. So they're welcome to open seats by appointment will be selected from other regions then not in America so far in the community. And affiliates have selected board members from all continents except Africa and Asia. That's true. Patricia Laurant of us from South America got several people from America, with people from Western Europe and Eastern Europe and even one from the Middle East.
[00:11:23] Now, the current diversity on the board is at a maximum on the community and affiliate side. All five are coming from five different countries, speaking five different languages. That's probably the maximum diversity you can get with five seats. The expansion of the board from 10 to 16 seats allows room for more diversity. So that's what I would welcome that is such an expansion and it will automatically increase diversity during an election with a proportional representation system. Some people have proposed staggering that is electing now some people and the next year, some people, and in three years some people, I certainly believe that that would reduce the diversity in an election and that the outcome will be that if you elect two people and every round that, then every time one person from the United States will be elected, it is better to elect the whole group in one time to get the maximum diversity. So I'm really curious, if not from the board member, James, if you are willing to consider to use from the state appointed seats, the new available open seats to select someone from Africa or from Asia and keep the selection in an open election for the community and affiliated. Thank you.
[00:13:18] So you want to make.
[00:13:24] So the question was, is the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation willing to consider using, you know, appointing people from Africa and keeping open elections for the community seats?
[00:13:42] Yes, exactly.
[00:13:43] Yeah, that was, you know, myself, I'd definitely be open to considering that is, you know. But I, of course, as Quim mentioned earlier, I don't speak for the board. I'm only speaking in a personal capacity here. I think the board is open to the ideas of the community. And, you know, if the community puts forward that strongly as something they would consider would be useful, I think the board with the board would consider in detail.
[00:14:24] So we have to know about me and Robert.
[00:14:32] Thank you, so mine was a few points ago, sort of more trying to record it was, but I do have to wonder why the number of appointed seats was increased if it wasn't serve that purpose, because they're specifically on the skill set aside of things. That's what the appointed seats are for.
[00:14:50] There's a very small set of skills that are best provided by the community rather than by appointed reps. And most of those names so far are not motor skills. Names so far would not be most suitable from the community or least could be provided by the appointed. I would be fully in favor of the suggestion there, which was that the appointed side of the board; particularly the seats opened up, should be allocated to increase the diversity of thought, but I just wondered that the current suggestions and Doc James you propose that having quotas like this would help provide such diversity of opinion is quite a blunt tool, because you're saying, OK, we can get votes in this way, which is probably true. However, you also cut out options of getting different diversities of opinions just by reducing. There could be another other candidates who couldn't get in and otherwise would have you would provide differing sets of viewpoints and perspectives that would be beneficial that these changes would do without. And so I realized I thought that is somewhat two points there, but I think both of them have validity to them.
[00:16:17] If I may, just because the first point that that you brought was mentioned in an earlier session today and there were several participants, including a current and a former trustee, disagreeing with this notion that the point the point of the trustees are for this skill, the elected trustees are for the community representation. Just saying this, that this.
[00:16:52] I just want to add this point.
[00:17:02] I just want to mention that Maria joins so now we have in addition to James, we also have Maria, who is also on the board. So high, Maria. I am so sorry for interrupting, but James, I don't know if you wanted to address that, Nosebagbear's comments.
[00:17:22] I know they didn't want to repeat your question, and maybe Maria can provide you another perspective.
[00:17:29] Ok, so one aspect was that. What are we wary of? Why did we bother increasing the number of appointed reps if it wasn't to make use of being able to satisfy additional skills and perspectives from using them, such as the method just proposed? We which was to say have a couple of global south positions or a lot along those lines. I'm sure that we are disagreeing opinions about the best use of them, the decisions that is. And the second one was in relation to your comments earlier, which was muffing that using community seats for this would in some senses indeed ensure diversity of perspectives. But it's quite a blunt tool for doing so and could actually cut out if sort of a broader spectrum of viewpoints is what we're looking for. This method could actually prove downright counterproductive to that. Someone could well miss out on otherwise being elected under the current setup who would provide a set of schemes. There's no way of knowing in any case until the election comes up. And that's why creating a set of rules that would prevent the community from deciding on the circumstances there then would be counterproductive.
[00:19:02] So I don't know if it's easy for Maria to just address that without having being part of the previous conversation.
[00:19:13] You know, so, so one additional comment on that topic so well, our four appointed individuals at this point in time currently reside in the United States, but two of them do have a background from other regions of the world. For example, Esra'a brings a perspective from the Arabic region of the world and Raju, who brings a perspective from India. So, you know, that, of course, is the other issue with with with geographical breakdowns is where you look at Dariusz, of course, is from Eastern Europe originally, but has spent a lot and still is from Eastern Europe, of course, being from Poland, but of course, has spent a lot of time in the eastern United States as well.
[00:20:02] So how do we define someone's geographical location is not always super easy?
[00:20:13] I'm sorry, because in my internet connection is not very good, I'm on the phone, I think I got the first part of the question, but if you could repeat the second part, I think it was can use the appointed seats for skills, but not so much the community seats. But I want to make sure I got it right.
[00:20:34] I think part of the question was if we're looking at specific geographical representation and, of course, none of the seats represent any specific group, but should we be using the appointed seats to represent specific areas of geographical regions of the world?
[00:20:59] Should we have an appointed seat set aside, for example, for expertise, representation from Africa or South Asia?
[00:21:10] Oh, yes, that's a great question. And I think that's something that we have considered within the board. Certainly for the United States, as you can see, and James addressed this, the last few appointed seats we have gone in this direction is somebody is originally from India and. The thing is, it's not just geographic diversity that we're aiming for. For example, we could have more people from the United States, for instance, black women. Right. And they would provide a completely different experience and expertise than the equivalent of white men, for instance. Now, the idea of I'm going to call it geographical quotas, the idea that we might have like this sort of suit. And I don't think it's super useful to have a distinction here between community and appointed, since it's very intriguing to imagine if we could have, for instance, a seat or so from someone from Africa and someone we've never had and the same figure we've never had anyone from Africa on the board of trustees. Right.
[00:22:27] And that's a completely different experience with the projects and with the movement at the point of view, that would be very, very intriguing to have on the board of trustees, maybe Latin America or Southeast Asia. Now, it's a discussion we could do that, have one seat with a point that suits another one with the community and have a couple of seats as pilots and see how would that make us all forward for experimenting. I do think it's true that historically we have had more stress, this coming from Europe and North America. And there is an open question about how can we make sure that it can represent the diversity of how the representation of the board of trustees, especially with the expansion, we can tap into that diversity.
[00:23:35] Thank you, Maria.
[00:23:36] So we have an excerpt I just wanted to share a specific idea about regional seats and the general seats as as I understand it, there are six seats through the community appointed process to be chosen this year. I would suggest that three of those be regional seats that we have. Perhaps I'm not sure exactly the split that we perhaps have, one for Africa and two for Asia. And then the three other seats are chosen in a way similar to the community votes of the past, perhaps incorporating some reforms such as ranked choice voting and having more encouragement of people to run, doing more like office hours for candidates or potential candidates, things like that.
[00:24:21] So we get a little bit more diversity there. So that's my specific proposal for what we can do this year to increase diversity and also have some real votes.
[00:24:31] Thank you. I'm very open to this idea. It's not a six sit, right? Yes. We're increasing the size of the board by six. But so half the community seats that are coming up, the elections are coming up. So it's nine seats. They're not all going to be seated. They're going to be studied. But, yes, I do think we have to try new things. We have the six new seats, a blank slate. We can choose how we're going to select them. So it's a matter of discussing and trying to see what are the gaps and what kind of expertise and life experience and skills would be fantastic to have in the board. And I think to me, the idea of geographical or gender quotas makes sense because it's this body of research that says this is something that works, especially if it's not tokenized. But, yeah, I think it's a good proposal. I don't know if you have even someone if you've written it down, I would be glad to read it somewhere.
[00:25:48] Yeah, be. But I'm sorry.
[00:25:49] I haven't I would like to encourage people to try to locate that proposal somewhere so people can discuss them.
[00:25:57] I'm pretty sure I will be shocked if I'm wrong. There might be some particularly good basis, no matter if there are already ongoing discussions, what would be a better place to place them? But yes, absolutely. Thank you, Richard.
[00:26:17] Thank you Richard and Maria, and so we have Robert. Well, yeah, thank you.
[00:26:25] The best candidates should be elected to become trustees, and quotas are artificial barriers for some and accelerator for others. So a quota system is kind of, by definition, unfair. Diversity should be accomplished naturally and not forcefully by changes to the election system. If people from certain regions accomplish success in election, then great. But we should not give people from certain regions more chances for success, for success at the expense of others who will succeed in a non quota system. So there should not be specially appointed seats for certain regions because the level of detail for which the board is looking for is only going to become higher. Today we're looking for a seat special disengage for Africa. Then we're going to be looking for us for a country and then a region. And that means there will be more and more board seats or this is a highly dangerous precedent. This will only create problems. So it would be it would be great to have assistants and consultants from certain regions like Africa, South Asia, and not specially designated seats for these regions.
[00:27:50] You're muted James, you wanted to comment on this.
[00:27:54] I was just going to say, hopefully the global council, that is, you know, the community is working on putting together will contain some sort of geographical representation of the movement. And, you know, we still, of course, need to figure out how the global council and, you know, the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Foundation as a whole are going to interact. But I think that's another mechanism where, you know, diversity is going to be another area where diversity is going to be important.
[00:28:36] So taking advantage of this short pause, I it's thirty-six-minute minutes, so we have passed half of the meeting and we have discussed about regional quotas mostly. So I just want to ask if anyone here has any other topic that the topic is not interesting. I just want to make sure that there's not all that.
[00:28:57] The call for feedback brings many other different topics. I just want to make sure that we don't talk about just one of them. If there's interest to talk about the others, OK, enough we can go this.
[00:29:14] Thank you, Ravan.
[00:29:16] So my question is more on the line of how we are going to elect members, because when we're talking about regional representatives, representatives, then we're talking about diversity and we are talking about electing people from different regions.
[00:29:29] If you're going to follow the ASBS model and I'm more concerned about people having very limited understanding of how communities have been working and how people have been engaging in the work regionally, and then we might not be. I'm concerned about whether or not we be able to select the right representative from the region, because probably something like it also depends on the number of communities that are there in the region and also the number of members who are there. Because I'm from just coming from my personal experience only that there are some people who are doing amazing work and they can be like great members on the great representatives to be considered to be on the board. But they are not very socially active or probably not much known among the community locally.
[00:30:16] So we might actually lose them just because they might not have people voting for them. So I would like to understand that your opinions on the selection processes.
[00:30:35] To clarify, you mean, should we go with a regional part of this, how it would be, how someone would be selected within the regional profiles?
[00:30:47] Yes, so I think if we're talking about the representation on the seats, if we're talking that we have nine numbers of seats which are open to the community members, and if you're reserving them for reasons, I think the region should vote for the people who are regional representatives rather than global voting for the regional representatives. And also, when you're talking about like different proposed methods that we have discussed on the call through the representatives, like, I would like to see what their opinions like, what everybody's opinions are on the different proposals of having these elections done.
[00:31:19] Mm-hmm. So, I mean, we haven't discussed the nuts and bolts of how something like that would work. We already have some notions of what things work and don't work because we keep iterating with each election. We did it with a ASBS. We're going to do it with this election as well, because we know we can keep improving and we always get feedback from each election process and what things candidates found were helpful and not helpful. And there's postmortems and so on and so forth.
[00:31:53] One thing that has come up is that if you had regional seats, how do you make sure that, you know, useful biases that have come up in the community of affiliate selected Board seats don't come up right currently? And I'm paraphrasing one of the arguments I feel currently, for example, for the community elections, you're going to be a little bit of an extrovert, put yourself out in front of the community and have a lot of time to answer the questions and be available answer. That's not the case for a lot of people who might be criticized, but they're introverts. They don't want to be the ones that level of exposure. Could it be a different system in which people select someone without going through that kind of process? And we've been looking to others not quite similar because we are somewhat unique, but the other processes that don't tend to favor them much, the people are more willing to be out and in this extroverted way, but also to be more open and more inclusive to other profiles of candidates. I think this is something that could be easily incorporated in the original process, especially at the end of the day, it's also going to depend on the user. I could say like an American ESP, right. So even just selecting one or two candidates from American would be a vast undertaking. They would have to be probably those communities would also determine what they're looking for, what are their needs. So it's not the way I envisioned it would be to have the conversation even within the region first to try to determine what they need, an interface to determine how they make sure they can select someone. Not necessarily following the traditional methods we have tried in the past. I don't know if that answers your question, but I had seen those discussions and I think they're somewhat related.
[00:34:27] Thank you, Maria.
[00:34:28] So Quim, if you want to speak. Just only on the clarification, because Manav has touched a theme that is coming through many conversations, including the previous sessions today.
[00:34:40] And even if Minoff is relating to the idea of people who are doing great work, but they are not popular. She has connected this to the regional aspect. I actually want to point out that a lot of people is bringing this point not connected to the regional aspect because, well, A, at the African level, there's also going to be some popularity contest. There is the system is exactly as it is now. And B, also in Western Europe and North America, there might be many good candidates fitting for a board that will not run that popularity contest. And I'm saying popularity contest, because this is a term that has come very often from many different places. And I just want to touch this with what Robert has said before. About the best should get the seat. The thing is that the best in what we know is that who wins an election has been the best at winning that election. But the skills and experience for winning that election may or may not be.
[00:35:45] Fitting with the skills needed to be a good board member, so I just want to make this point.
[00:35:52] So I lost the whole thing.
[00:35:57] So I have to just go on statements about saying that earlier, which was that it would not be too difficult to try something like that. I have to disagree. I have to say that I am very firmly against changing away from an at large election methods, whether it be through a mixed section board or even a community selection board.
[00:36:22] I've expanded that in quite a lot of detail on the Meta side, but.
[00:36:30] Even if you elect these spots, it would be far less coverage, far fewer people, and would be very sort of little consideration of those individual, we're going on to groups like this or any method that such as an enforced rubric rather than the advisory rubric that would deprive against our security. There's going to be insane levels of backlash if people don't have the bodies represented because it just transfers power directly away from community representation. I'm all in favor of seeking additional efforts of folks.
[00:37:04] I've even proposed some on how to get individuals like this to go ahead and run and how to remove some of the obstacles that might hinder them from doing so, but actually preventing direct community election as the only method of doing it. That's the only method that can't be bypassed, overridden, avoided and won't cause significant concern. Everyone here is someone who is very firmly interested in stuff and keeps track of everyone. But most people will miss it until it comes up. And at that point there's going to be massive levels of unhappiness, and rightly so, because people aren't getting the full level of control over who they think is best for position. And that is why we have these community seats.
[00:37:56] And then just thank you for that.
[00:37:59] And then on the flip side of things, elections also help bring out individuals that the community trusts to uphold the values and ideals of our movement as a whole. So I don't entirely agree with rephrasing elections as a popularity contest. This is also the community knows these individuals. Yes, you need to know one individual before you can judge them as being suitable to, you know, protect our movement as a whole. Our movement is incredibly unique. And thus, you know, it requires a special expertise to be able to keep it as unique as it is.
[00:38:43] I agree with James, I also I'm not a fan of the term popularity contests because in most cases I think people didn't even know us before we ran for the elections except for our own tiny communities. Right. And I think that's true for most candidates.
[00:38:59] But I think one thing we need to address is that we know we know that in the community elections, someone from Africa runs, they're never going to make it. There are structural barriers.
[00:39:13] And is it fair that those communities will never be represented? Is there any way we can actually make sure they can be represented? But it's not just one community. That's the thing. We are international enough that we're talking about multiple communities. So I think there's some middle ground here. There's a way to incorporate huge swaths of communities that currently have no opportunity to even aim to address this. Right. Because I remember being in Cape Town writing Wikimania and Contar, and I was actually I was very impressed with the organization. I was asking, why don't you run for the board of trustees? The ASBS is coming up. We don't have a shot.
[00:39:56] There's no way people want to stucks. I'm in favor of absolutely not putting your name in. But the reality burst them out when there has been people from the I don't want to call them typical communities, but let's say are typical candidates running. They've never made it. So how do we have to consider them part of our community? How do we make sure they actually have a shot? I think that's the big debate, right, and I would like us to address.
[00:40:37] We have had members from Africa, of course, run for the board of trustees, Douglas being one of the gentlemen who was involved with putting on, leading the effort to put on Wikimania in South Africa. He, of course, did run in the last election, wasn't selected. But I definitely think someone like him would does have the possibility of being elected through our current mechanisms. But putting in place more mechanisms to bring that perspective, I think would be useful.
[00:41:31] So if no one swinging a. So I was that you saying you want to talk you first. So. I'm just going to say a bit on that in terms of.
[00:41:45] We don't seem to have much more discussion about removing things other than any potential structural biases in the ultimate election that might be hindering candidates from running, to me that seems more of a logical area to start with because it doesn't seem to have the negatives that might come from it.
[00:42:06] So is this people unaware of it? People don't think they're capable of running. People don't know enough about it, or at least they don't know enough about it until it's so close.
[00:42:15] And at that point, it feels like a mountain to get into it, my suggestion was that we should be reaching out to the affiliates and the projects where we would like to see more board representation way in advance. The action at least six weeks in behalf of nominations actually opening. And it should be preferable if the community trusts the current community, trustees can help with the staff, affiliates, senior affiliate staff.
[00:42:37] Anyone who will be seated, reach out, put let them know about it. Find who might be suitable.
[00:42:44] Find out what issues they are saying, what comes to their mind immediately. When you say, oh, run, I don't wanna run, why not? And find out what can we use to get rid of those short of having to amend the entire electoral structure?
[00:42:59] And that wouldn't even though it I think that that has the chance to significant positives without the negatives that are likely to come from getting rid of or not getting rid of, but reducing the effect and control of at large community elections. I think that's part of the solution. I don't think it's enough, we've tried it before. We tried it in the 2015 community elections. We reached out and there were like twenty-three candidates. I think it's it hasn't it was the most diverse slate of candidates in the history of the elections, people from Arab communities, people from really out of the usefulness of candidates.
[00:43:47] And it still didn't happen. And I think I'm speaking from memory, but maybe 15 candidates were not from Europe or North America is still not a single one of them made it. So I think. It's part of the solution, making them we're inviting them, encouraging them, but we know it's not enough. And in the last election, last community election, not a single one from.
[00:44:21] Yes, I think that it's more important that they're OK, so it's obviously not a good thing that maybe there aren't getting quite the representation, but if they're done winning, maybe they're not the best candidates. It's more important to have the best people in the board of trustees than to have representation. OK, maybe it will not get now. We'll get it later. What's most important? Just have the best people in the board of trustees.
[00:44:49] I think it's very good for those communities. I think it's if they're not making it, we also have to understand and try to address as well why they're not making it.
[00:45:01] Yeah, I agree with that completely, but not by changing the election system in favor of certain regions. But by studying it. Yes, of course. And by understanding what's the problem. Yes. But by not but not by changing the election system.
[00:45:17] Well, it depends if we consider that it has a structural disadvantages, trying to correct for that. Is trying to look for neutrality in a sense.
[00:45:28] What structural disadvantages exactly?
[00:45:31] Well, we know that the current system favors North Americans and Europeans. Historically, this has been true. Have we ever tried something different to see if we can get other communities into the Board of Trustees.
[00:45:46] It's more important.
[00:45:47] Well, yeah, well, we can try something different, but not by changing the electoral system.
[00:45:54] Well, I think it's a discussion, right? It's a discussion in those communities also have been represented as well. So I think it's fair to have the debate.
[00:46:10] I have a comment about the structural part that has come also in the conversations, so we need to be aware that not everyone starts from an equal point when election starts. So there's the aspect of time available which time is a currency in our movement in many places, but in our movement, it's it's it's a currency because who has more time?
[00:46:39] Well, can work more towards winning an election and who hasn't? Not so much time. Therefore, if we put this, there's not only the regional aspect, but regionally, it might happen that there's more people that due to how their economic status is, maybe they can afford having more time to just run for election than others based on an equal level of skill, experience, even popularity, but also even without counting on the region, its regional aspect. It also it's there's plenty of research that our personal experience is that shows that men might have more free time than women, even if they are living in the same household, or people with middle class, upper class social status may also have more free time than those who come from more working class or not. Not so much secure, economically secure environment. So there is one aspect that I think cannot be denied. And the current system, even if the system itself wouldn't be touched, improvements could be added. So running for election could be putting them in the most in a more standard way where richness of time wouldn't give so much advantage as an idea. This has come from a couple of conversations.
[00:48:07] Ok, Ad you can talk now, please.
[00:48:11] Yes, they did it at the last election was the ASBS selection and two years ago and then one woman from Eastern Europe was selected and one woman from the Middle East. Both are not from America, not from Western Europe, and both are not men contradicting everything. What been just said and also what Maria said. So this please be aware that the outcome of the election can be that we have about half men, half women, and we do have diversity in our region. But it is true, we never had someone from Africa, but a number of editors in Africa is very small compared to other regions in the world.
[00:49:03] Well, actually, if we had those diverse results, it was because we actually picked the system instead of having 40 affiliates, mostly European from North America voting, we added the usergroups, which were much more diverse and the results were more diverse. And seeing that that worked out, it stands to reason that tweaking the community elections, because we keep operating, we know we never reached the perfect elections and there's always room for improvement. But we saw it with the elections. We changed the system. And yes, there were people that were not completely happy because like what's awesome about sharing power at the end of the day was also introducing all the issues and the results, I think spoke for themselves. Now, is there room to do something similar here? We can or everything we know, even just even if we just got the postmortems from the last community elections, we know that, for instance. Yes, even using the single transferable vote, that could make a huge difference. But I think it's fair to have discussions about how do we invite more people to decide on the governance of the Wikimedia Foundation. I think those are important conversations. How do we invite more people at the table? How do we encourage more people to run? Absolutely. How do we also make good answer processes?
[00:50:40] No, I think that's an excellent point Ad, you know, as our movement becomes more diverse. Of course, you know, our board will become more diverse. And as you mentioned, the number of Wikipedians who currently resides in Africa is small, which means that there is also a much smaller, proportional community to draw from to become board members in that region of the world. And hopefully, you know, as we open our arms to more areas of the world, we see an expanded expansion of our editor base in that area of the world. It should hopefully become easier for four members from that area of the world to become part of the board.
[00:51:23] Thank you so much.
[00:51:24] So we reached the end of the official meeting, so if there is anyone who been proposed their idea or their opinion or they didn't talk.