Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Direct appointment of confirmed candidates

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This idea assumes the adoption of a Community-elected Selection Committee, with a community vote to select members of that committee. In such a scenario, the Selection Committee would be responsible for evaluating candidates’ skills and experience, ranking them, and assisting the Board in vetting candidates. The Board would like feedback on the idea that the Selection Committee could then directly recommend candidates for appointment to the Board, rather than initiating another round of community voting on the approved candidates. In this scenario, the Selection Committee will be entirely or nearly entirely community-run, with two Trustees as members or liaisons.

Some advantages of this idea:

  • A specialized committee is better suited than a broad vote to managing and balancing the considerations of expertise and diversity;
  • The Selection Committee can still seek community input on the candidates; and
  • Removing steps from the selection process allows it to operate more quickly and efficiently.

The key disadvantage of this idea is that it might not achieve all the goals of including community voting as part of the trustee selection process. There would still be a vote to select Selection Committee members, but the community selection of the trustees would be indirect rather than direct. The feedback received regarding voting generally will help the Board assess the viability of this idea.

Summary of ongoing feedback[edit]

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

After the fifth weekly report:

The idea of Direct appointment of confirmed candidates did not receive support, except for a couple of conversations in the ESEAP region. Many volunteers feel that this change would be too disruptive and would undermine their trust in the Board. Many have responded that the Board already can appoint directly almost half of the seats. Some participants were concerned about a situation where the community doesn’t accept any of the trustees directly appointed.

Positives:

  • A volunteer from Malaysia said the Board knows the best candidate it needs from the selection committee’s submitted list of candidates. It should be implemented with utmost transparency.
  • A person from Hong Kong says the community-elected selection committee will choose the best and the brightest people that deserve to be on the Board.

Negatives:

  • Several people said this moves away from community norms and practices:
    • One person from the Indonesia community said there is no need for a call for feedback if the Board chooses this option.
    • At the German Wiki Women conversation, all attendees said this might lead to a perfectly diverse and skillful board, but it would also cause a massive loss of trust in the Board itself. They said such a top-down solution would be emotionally impossible to realize with the communities.
    • One member of the Elections Committee considers that with the direct appointment of confirmed candidates, you end up stripping some functions that the community understands are theirs.
    • One volunteer on the idea talk page on Meta commented that direct appointment of candidates is not a good way to get buy-in from the participants in the different Wikimedia projects. They said this method does not represent the community ethic so prevalent in Wikimedia projects. They said there is an increased risk of appointing unqualified people.
  • There are concerns about lack of broad community participation in this process:
    • One volunteer said that It is unclear what would happen if a candidate appointed by the Board is not accepted by the community, similarly to what happened with a direct appointment in the past.
    • Indirect elections are almost always a bad idea as there is too much opportunity to sway the decision.
    • The majority of the participants from the Open Foundation West Africa group meeting did not support this idea. One person said this could mean the Board could appoint someone the community may not support.
    • At the German LGBT+ conversation a volunteer said any failure during the selection process would be on the shoulders of the few volunteers in the selection committee.
    • During a meeting with the Georgian community all participants unanimously rejected this idea as not democratic nor transparent. They added that the Board already has this ability to directly appoint members and it is not possible for all members to be appointed by the BoT.