Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-02-09 Telugu community

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Conversational Report
Telugu community - 9 February 2021

Attendees[edit]

Objective[edit]

The objective of the meeting was to establish contact with the Telugu community and introduce them to the call for feedback regarding the proposed ideas for Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees’ Community seats. The attendee was a sysop on Telugu Wikipedia.

Topics and Notes[edit]

The community member were first introduced to the structure of Board of Trustees, their roles and responsibilities, along with the previous round of changes to the by-laws, in which the number of board seats were increased from 10 to 16, and the trustee evaluation form was approved. This was followed by the problem statement for the call for feedback, and why it is important for them and the larger community to be involved.

Feedback on specific ideas[edit]

Quotas
  • It is not a bad idea to have quotas - it would be good to observe the backgrounds of people who are opposing this idea, it may mostly be people who haven’t faced problems with underrepresentation. But one of the problems with the quota system, especially in a small and close knit group, is its effect on the group’s working dynamics. It might introduce a psychological perspective towards the person, subconsciously. It is hard to eliminate that. On the other hand, it is very likely that the person who gets selected through the quota system will have a feeling about being selected differently from the rest, again these are mostly subconscious. This will impact the opinions they share, and severe cases they may refrain from sharing their opinion, which fails the whole purpose of diversity. If quotas are likely to be implemented, giving this some thought will be helpful to make a better use of the system.
Community-elected selection committee
  • Even though there is extensive consultation and feedback that is being gathered from across the movement in this call for feedback, once the actual process starts i.e. if an actual selection committee is going to be formed, what will the level of participation from underrepresented communities be - is a question to think about. Though they are actively engaged during this call for feedback, thanks to focused communications and follow-up, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will continue to be involved in the board governance processes (especially elections) later on, be it for the Board or for the Selection Committee. The “underrepresented” communities and even silent folks in major communities, tend to be disconnected if there is proactive push. It sort of rolls back to square one - lack of participation from underrepresented communities. It will be the same people again who are generally active in most of the discussions. It would be good to think about how and what needs to be done to ensure the same level of diversity in participation for the selection committee, as it is happening in this call for feedback.
  • It would be good to have quotas for the selection committee, that will ensure that there is representation from all across the movement. Also, since the size of the selection committee hasn’t been decided or isn’t rigid, it can be easier to allocate quotas all across the movement, to ensure that the committee is well-represented. Since going through a selection committee might remove direct voting from the community, the final selection shouldn’t lead to controversies and chaos. This can be mitigated by ensuring diversity on the selection committee, so that the community feels their voice is heard.
  • A well-represented selection committee is better than voting, as it gives more chances for negotiation with the Board and ensures the requirements for skills and diversity are met. However, the committee should publish the process they would be following to make their final decision.
Regional seats
  • The regional seats idea sounds good, however, it can be tricky on how and who will decide what is a “region” and its boundaries. It would also be good to have some restrictions on voting for a regional seat, for example, only people from that region are allowed to vote, or something on those lines.

Follow-up[edit]

At least one follow-up meeting will be conducted with community members of Telugu language projects in the next two weeks.