Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-02-20 Gujarati community

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Conversational Report
Odia Wikimedians User Group - 16 February 2021

Attendees[edit]

Objective[edit]

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

Topics and Notes[edit]

The community member was first introduced to the structure of the 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
  • The volunteer opposed quotas. In India, quotas have adversely affected the purpose it intended to solve. Initially it might have been intended for a good reason, but it has gone a long way now, in an unwanted direction. The volunteer felt that equal opportunities must be provided for all, and someone should not be denied or discouraged because they belong to a certain group, but not allocating seats to certain groups only.
Call for types of skills and experiences
  • The volunteer felt that as we are talking about the Board for the Wikimedia Foundation, the candidates should meet minimum requirements of skills. Whenever there are events in the movement, there are eligibility criteria based on edit count, age of the account etc. then why not for the Board - some basic eligibility criteria should definitely be defined.
Board-delegated / Community-elected selection committee
  • The volunteer felt that having board members in any form, even two delegated board members as members or liaisons on the community-elected selection committee is not good, and definitely not a board-delegated committee. If the selection committee is going to be purely based on election, no other member, it is like electing an Indian prime minister. When the board-delegated members get into such a committee, it won’t be a fair process - their opinions might heavily influence other members, because of their current position. The selection committee can be good, if it is elected entirely, and not a mix of elected and selected members.
Regional seats
  • On the lines of regional seats idea, the volunteer suggested to divide the entire movement into various territories, and make sure that there is at least one Board member from each territory. It can make sure that people from that territory will vote for the “territorial” seat. But the latter can be tough to put into practice, as Wikimedia doesn’t track users by their location. There is also a question about expats.
  • The volunteer suggested using statistical tools to determine the user bases, such as where the most number of users are coming from, based on their IP addresses, and then according to ratios of user bases seats can be allocated. If a region has double the number of users of another three regions, it will make sense to allocate two seats for the former and one for the latter - with a minimum of at least one for each territory. If calculating user demographics is a problem, then the number of language Wikimedia projects that largely belong to a region and their respective user bases can be taken into account. In this approach, an open question is how we consider multilingual projects such as Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata. This should be a universal distribution, rather than a moving quota. These statistics can be updated every 3-5 years, and seats should be redistributed accordingly. This can also help the Board to increase user base or language activity in a region, and make sure that they get enough representation over a period of time.

Follow-up[edit]

A follow-up meeting with community members of Gujarati language will tentatively happen on 7 March 2021.