Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-02-10 Weekly
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This is a weekly report of the Call for Feedback about Community Board seats selection processes between February 1 and March 14. This report contains ideas and opinions that are new or relevant in the context of the Call for Feedback.
With the help of a team of community facilitators, we are organizing conversations and gathering feedback. During this call for feedback we publish weekly reports and we draft the final report that will be delivered to the Board. This report covers new activity February 1-7.
If you think anything relevant is missing, let us know in the Talk page and we will consider its inclusion in the next weekly report.
Problems to solve
One observation is the historically uneven engagement from communities. In the first two days of the Call for feedback some volunteers were reacting with elaborate statements and requests for the Board. Meanwhile for other communities this Call for Feedback is the first time they have been engaged in a movement conversation, and they are starting to learn about the Board and the current community selection processes.
In several channels, community members expressed the desire to run the overdue elections. They felt these elections should take place before these ideas are discussed.
Some community members questioned the need for changing the current processes.
Some expressed they feel diversity is fine how it is and the Board is more diverse than it was previously.
Some expressed that the requirement for skills should apply primarily to the trustees directly appointed by the Board, that the community should elect trustees to represent them.
Ideas from the Board
Ranked voting system
- This should be used as it is similar to other real world examples in governments
- This should not be used because the Wikimedia Foundation staff are allowed to vote and their votes could potentially sway the elections
- Education content on how this voting system works is critical to its success
- Feedback during a Russian WikiCommunity conversation had most attendees favoring a ranked voting system
There have been two ideas developed from the community around the topic of quotas: Regional seats and Specialization seats, listed below in Ideas from the Community.
- Some contributors on Meta expressed a dislike for quotas; members of the Russian WikiCommunity agreed
- Some oppose due to worry some people could get onto the Board without the proper skills
- The proposal is to discriminate against certain people by denying them the ability to run for certain board seats.
- Participants in the office hours sessions said quotas might be a solution depending on how they are implemented
- A comment from a French-speaking discussion suggested geographical quotas with at least 1 seat and increase in relation to regional community size.
- Participants in a discussion in the Middle East said quotas would be the only way someone from the region would get on the Board
- Three-fourths of the conversation attendees of the Wikimedia Nigeria User Group said they were in support of quotas, more specifically regional quotas.
- Three-fourths of the conversation attendees of the Wikimedia Tanzania User Group said they were in support of quotas, more specifically regional quotas.
- Any quotas should be handled by the community
- Gender equity on the Board should be 50/50
Call for types of skills and experiences
- Needed skills should be identified and advertised well in advance of the selection process.
- The community should be allowed to express what skills they believe the Board should have
- Call for training opportunities for skill development for growing leadership from the community
- Community-and-affiliate selected seats are for diversity and not skills
- Skills in community-appointed seats are important
- Mediation skills
- Elevate candidates with needed skills and consider them with diversity in mind
Vetting of candidates
- The Wikimedia Foundation should do only legal checks of people during the election process
- The candidates should self-certify that they have not been convicted of any criminal offenses
- It is the community's responsibility to make sure the Board can cover roles that are needed.
- The community should be able to screen for unqualified candidates.
- The candidates should complete a process like a job application.
Board-delegated selection committee
- It is important to the community for the board members to be people they know, trust, and elect into office
- A selection committee might not attract the same level of engagement as other elections.
- Board members selected this way will not represent the community.
- A selection committee seems to be unnecessary
- This would remove too much from the community
Community-elected selection committee
- If a community can select a diverse committee why can a community not also elect diverse and qualified Board members?
- Affiliations Committee as an example of a committee selecting members with diverse backgrounds, but creating false diversity.
- It was suggested to look at psychological research about groups of people selecting people like themselves.
- Half of the attendees at a Wikimedia Nigeria User Group conversation said local affiliates should have much influence in selecting who represents them on the Board.
Election of confirmed candidates
- Selection and election should be run by the Election committee and ASBS facilitators
- What happens if the Board suggests a candidate who the community finds is unfit to serve on the Board?
Direct appointment of confirmed candidates
- Indirect elections are almost always a bad idea as there is too much opportunity to sway the decision.
- The criteria needs to be clear to select candidates.
Ideas from the Community
- The responses on the talk page and in several conversations so far see this as a reasonable idea.
- Defining the regions might be tricky.
- Communities that are not aligned with a regional body might not be represented.
- The community should and is capable of organizing, designing, and running the elections without the Board or staff involvement.
- How will the Board community-and-affiliate seat selection process interact with the IGC selection process?
- Selecting Board community-and-affiliate seats and IGC at similar times seems like a lot.
- How will the Trustee Evaluation Form be used in practice?
- If adopted, staggering the trustee terms is important so not too many are up for election at the same time and thus possibly distributing the votes too broadly
- Is there a reason the Board members are not compensated for their services?
- Implement regional selection and elections of board candidates and have affiliates vet candidates.
- Members of Russian WikiCommunity said they would like a system where affiliates could nominate candidates
- Several contributors mentioned the removal of James Heilman in 2015 and want to prevent similar situations from happening again.
- People should not be able to serve successive terms on the Board.
- Communication from a Board member instead of via a Wikimedia Foundation staff member would be ideal for Board communication
- Host some sort of office hours before the selection process so potential candidates can learn more about the possible role.
- A demand to eliminate the Board's legal ability to overturn election results was discussed, linked to a prior proposal by Yair Rand to create a closed legal Wikimedia Foundation membership.
CfF process feedback
- There were several messages and feedback provided from the ASBS 2019 facilitators:
- This Call for Feedback is unnecessary.
- This Call for Feedback and discussion of ideas is seen as transferring control of elections away from the community.
- There is concern about the Wikimedia Foundation influencing the process.
- There is concern about the Wikimedia Foundation staff silencing communication
- See the Wikimedia-l exchange and Nataliia Tymkiv's response from the Board
- There is mistrust in the Call for Feedback process.
- Lack of desire to participate in the Call for Feedback because there are simultaneous requests of participation in Movement Strategy, Branding, the Universal Code of Conduct, Grants, and more.
- Participation is thought to be meaningless because it is believed that the Board will just make a decision that is unrelated.
- This communication and dedication of staff to this effort is greatly appreciated.
- There is too much happening at the same time (UCoC, IGC, Movement Strategy, BG CfF)
- The suggestion was made to provide a budget to the community to organize these conversations instead of hiring Wikimedia Foundation staff.
What is happening next
Facilitators are reaching out to affiliates and individual volunteers contributing to close the gender gap in the Wikimedia movement. The first wave of feedback has been unbalanced from a gender perspective and we want to ensure the feedback is comprehensive.
Many communities are interested in discussing how to improve regional representation in the Board. Facilitators are working to capture these conversations where they are happening.
The Conversations page has an up-to-date list of conversations happening around the Call for Feedback. This includes future scheduled and proposed conversations. Reports from these conversations can be found on Meta.
- Informal discussion during the WALRUS call.
- Office hours
- Meeting with the Turkish Wikicommunity at "Tuesday" meeting (WikiSali)
- First call for the Spanish-speaking community
- Meet up with some members of Wikimedia Ghana User Group
- Meetup with Arabic community
- Meet up with some members of Wikimedia Nigeria User Group
- Meeting with the Russian Wikicommunity.
- Meet up with some members of Wikimedia Tanzania User Group
- Meetup with Wikimedia Malaysia User Group
Just for fun
This week's laughs come from the automatic captions from the Office Hours recordings:
- ”I have become a fanatic, which I know we should choco can do, sweetie or uncle, please love the engineer in the van would accept the Iranian cake for tea.”
- "I was crying, the Oscar goes to prominence in the facilitator for the Latin American region."