Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-02-24 Weekly

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Other languages:
Deutsch • ‎English • ‎français


Call for feedback: Community Board seats
Main Page
How to participate
Board ideas
Community ideas
Conversations
Reports
Timeline


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 15 - 21.

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.

Join the conversation.

News[edit]

Our plan for the next few weeks is to promote further discussion around four topics that need disentanglement: regional quotas, candidates' skills, vetting of candidates, and the connection of Board elections with the Global Council and the Regional Hubs.

Ideas discussed within the Board[edit]

Ranked voting system[edit]

10 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.
  • Attendees at a meeting of the Kurdish community said a ranked voting system would bring some trustees who don’t have a clear idea of what they need.
  • The Condorcet method is getting more support. One person said the Board should not be deciding the method used in their own election and the interface must be fixed.
  • Jon of Wikimedia Norge, former member of many election committees, mentioned STV has been discussed since 2008 and it went well in the affiliate seat selection process.
  • The 2019 ASBS facilitators and other volunteers disagree with the idea of the Board deciding a voting system for community elections and say this decision belongs to the community.
    • “ASBS elections have shown that ranked voting system results in many affiliates voting for their closest (regional, linguistic, thematic etc.) candidate as a first choice, first choices with only narrow support get quickly eliminated, and second or third choices become decisive to select really qualified candidates among those having a wide enough support.”

Quotas[edit]

11 users from 6 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.
Note: Other participants including members of the Wikimedia LGBT+ user group complained, saying that 50/50 gender concepts were binary and implicitly biased against non-binary, trans or genderqueer people. The Facilitation team acknowledged this problem and rectified the related mentions in their reports. Here this phrasing was updated to reflect the feedback in a non-biased manner.’’ JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 20:28, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
  • One person said Portland (Oregon) has for many years had a policy about gender balance on representative bodies.
  • A person at the conversation with “Les sans pages” is in favor of a gender-based quota. Another participant suggested having a minimum of 2 seats for women among the 6 seats and another person suggested having some quota based on linguistic community. The same idea was very positively discussed at another conversation with French Canada community.
  • One person in the midpoint office hours mentioned age as a consideration - suggested a mix of ages for more perspectives.

Call for types of skills and experiences[edit]

8 users from 6 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

Vetting of candidates[edit]

7 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.
  • Astrid Carlsen, Executive Director of Wikimedia Norge, reminds that a vetting process itself might suffer from a cultural and language bias, it should be taken care of when designing the vetting processes itself.
  • At a conversation with “Les Sans Pages”, a person said that the most important criteria to be taken into account is the candidate's skills. The same person suggested that former board members should be evaluated first on their work as trustee.
  • A volunteer from a conversation with French Canada Community said that criteria based on expertise and experiences are needed to select candidates along with their experience in the movement projects.
  • A person from a conversation with the DRC user group said that a basic experience with wikis is enough. All the people in the conversation agreed with it.
  • A person attending the midpoint office hours shared an example of a form used to complete a board assessment and self-assessment to determine skills possessed and skills needed on non-profit boards.

Board-delegated selection committee[edit]

6 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

Community-elected selection committee[edit]

6 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.
  • A volunteer from the Urdu community worried that there are a lot of unanswered questions regarding selection committees as of now, and for that reason they would prefer voting. A volunteer from the Kannada community felt the same.
  • Volunteers from Goa felt that it is almost impossible for every voter to read lengthy profiles and make the most rational choice. For that reason, a selection committee sounds better, and also a selection committee can also eliminate popularity bias that influences voting in an election process.
  • Volunteers from Goa said that the trustee evaluation forms become quite important, to make sure that committee’s decisions are objective, rather than subjective.
  • Jon Harald Soby of Wikimedia Norge said a community selected committee seems a bit too complicated. It might make the selection process harder for people to engage in.

Election of confirmed candidates[edit]

9 users from 6 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.
  • Claudia Garad, Executive Director of Wikimedia Österreich, says enforcing skills and diversity should not lead to a loss of involvement of the community in selection processes. To her knowledge this view was shared by a vast majority of the "Roles & Responsibilities" working group and is shared by the members of Wikimedia Austria too. Claudia would welcome any combination of ideas preserving the direct involvement of the communities in the selection process with a process ensuring skills and diversity.
  • Astrid Carlsen, Executive Director of Wikimedia Norge, said, community involvement is important due to shared ownership in the movement. Jon Harald Soby added that a lot of work within the movement is done by volunteers, so they should be a major part of the selection process, as decisions influence their work a lot.
  • One person mentioned concerns of being tricked by these ideas.

Direct appointment of confirmed candidates[edit]

9 users from 6 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.
  • 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.
  • At the German Wiki Women conversation, all attendees said this might lead to a perfectly diverse and skillful board. This would cause a massive loss of trust in the Board itself, such a "Top-Down" -solution would be emotionally impossible to realize with the communities.

Ideas from the Community[edit]

Regional seats[edit]

4 users from 4 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.
  1. Latin America (including Caribbean, Central America, South America)
  2. US, Canada and Europe
  3. Africa
  4. Asia and Oceania
  5. A representative from the Global Council or the non-Wikimedia projects - maybe someone from WikiBlind or a person who has not been represented in the past
  • An attendee on the WALRUS call said, What about splitting the seats and having 3 directly elected and 3 split amongst regions not represented?
  • One person said, there is reason to believe that regional processes might encourage other forms of diversity as well.
  • An attendee on the WALRUS call said, the Philippines has a large community and has not yet had a person on the Board.
  • One ESEAP community member said regional seats are pointless because just because someone is not on the Board does not mean they are voiceless.
  • One person had the following suggestions:
    • Hold a single election for all board seats. Assuming the quota isn't met, the top ranked unsuccessful candidate(s) from underrepresented regions replace the lowest ranked winning candidate(s)
    • Include underrepresented areas (exclude Canada and US but include Japan and Korea)
    • Don't tie eligibility to some sort of regional alignments. Communities should be free to join with whichever body is most convenient to them without it affecting their members ability to run for the board

Specialization seats[edit]

7 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

Miscellaneous feedback[edit]

  • Two people from the Egypt user group asked, Why do the board members want to be board members? If the position is not paid, why would someone want to do it? One person in the midpoint office hours aligned with this: What are the incentives to participate on the Board?
  • One person asked If there is an Arabic member already in one of the appointed seats on the Board, then why can't we see any efforts regarding supporting and growing up the wiki projects in the Middle East?
  • During the midpoint office hours, a discussion about the fiduciary responsibility of a Board member developed. It is narrow, and perhaps very different from what the community understands it to be. “The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees oversees the foundation and its work, as its ultimate corporate authority.” A board member disagrees: “the board has this fiduciary responsibility and to oversee the interests of the movement.” The community doesn’t understand this distinction and it should be communicated.
  • Claudia Garad, Executive Director of Wikimedia Österreich, doesn’t understand why at this very moment the Board is running its expansion. She expects a shift of competencies and responsibilities from the Board to a Global Council soon. This would make a separate restructuring of the Board now meaningless and redundant.
  • At the Wikimedia Stewards User Group conversation, most attendees saw the current process as misplaced. They understand the community-selected seats as the domain of the community and plead for a direct election, without any restrictions by quotas, skill requirements or committees. They agreed on the need for diversity and skill requirements on the board, making clear though, that these needs should be fulfilled by appointing seats, community-selected seats should represent the community as is in a most direct way. Tampering with the community-selected seats is experienced as abusive, one attendee uttered his concern, that all of the proposed systems provide less of a direct voice from the community intentionally.
  • Language
    • One person asked how smaller linguistic communities can be represented.
    • At the Wikimedia Stewards User Group conversation, conversation, there were no issues with introducing a Ranked Voting System. The current system was seen by most attendees as outdated, one described it as “the people who show up at elections, they are the same people over and over again and those people who show up are always or almost always people with good English”.
    • In a post-mortem of the 2017 Wikimedia Foundation Elections discussions took place about the requirement of English within the board, leading to exclusionary structures and strongly reinforcing the power of large communities.
    • At a conversation with “Les Sans Pages,” a person said that the most important criteria to be taken into account is the candidate's skills. The same person suggested that former board members should be evaluated first on their work as trustee. Another person said that language should not be a criteria: it should not be requested of candidates to understand a specific language.
  • A person at a conversation with the “Les Sans Pages” community said that there should be a way to have more candidates from minority groups and to give them all the necessary support (Budget, Mentor, Translation, etc.). The idea had been supported by all the people. Another person suggested a headhunting or nomination system could be a good idea to have more candidates.
  • One person said the opportunity to get a neutral third party feedback on the candidates might be helpful.
  • Two people suggested this process is “hostile” and “a sham” and they do not have trust in the Board of Trustees.
  • Communication feedback:

The following feedback is from a San Diego Wikimedian User Group conversation

    • To find information about anything you have to know where to look.
    • Better communication could assuage community fears.
    • The organization is at a size and maturity level that it should be figuring out these things.
    • Just like other organizations, the Wikimedia Foundation needs a community affairs individual.
    • There needs to be better communication, especially for newbies.
    • No one knows what the Board does - how it affects volunteering or why should I care.
    • Volunteers from Goa also had communication feedback. They suggested that the Board should develop public documentation of its understanding about different countries, regions, communities, and the legal complexities. They felt that it would help the Board and the community to build mutual trust.
    • One person said, If the goal is to have a more professionalized Board then the Board should say so clearly and explicitly.

The following feedback is from a WALRUS conversation

  • Diversity
  • Diversity and competence are things we want.
  • Engage more people in running for the Board.
  • Maybe we should focus on regional diversity for now and other ideas like skills later.
  • Acknowledgement that white, cisgender, heterosexual males are not diversity and "we need to get people who don't look like us"
  • Clarity needed:
    • Definitions are needed (like what does diversity mean in this context?)
    • Clearly state what the problem is.
    • Board of Trustees is supposed to be the governing board but perhaps with the Global Council they can become the upper house of a bicameral legislature.
  • Training and election campaign support would be helpful.
Several people mentioned elections are the only way. It seems some people think elections are going to be removed from the process. One person said the following:
“Getting rid of the conventional election system is a one way process. It’s a transfer of power from the community to the Wikimedia Foundation -shutting off money to the community and they have $200 million themselves. Wikimedia Foundation staff are becoming like Mozilla and NPR - all kinds of corporate contracts. There is no coherent theory of why we need to get rid of elections. I am extremely worried about corporate takeover. This is an insane transfer of power. There is no community demand to get rid of this. This is an action of propaganda. This is the end of the Wikimedia movement if we get rid of elections. Eight of the board members are against elections.”
Another person responded: “They have a strong opinion but it’s justified even though it’s not something we can prove.”

CfF process feedback[edit]

Conversations[edit]

2021-02-15

  • Discussion during WALRUS call

2021-02-16

  • Meetup with Canada (French)
  • Conversation with Wikimedia DRC user group
  • Odia Wikimedians User Group
  • Online meeting with Claudia Garad of Wikimedia Österreich

2021-02-17

  • Conversation with “Les Sans Pages” community
  • Online meeting with Wikimedia CH
  • Online meeting with Wikimedia Norge
  • Online meeting with WikiDonne User Group

2021-02-18

  • Meetup with Israeli community.
  • Online meeting LGBT+ DE
  • Meetup with Europe (French) + Haiti

2021-02-19

  • Feedback meeting with INSM group & Iraqi Wikimedians.
  • Online meeting WikiWomenNetzwerk DE

2021-02-20

  • San Diego Wikimedians

2021-02-21

  • SWAN meetings (summaries will be included in the next weekly report)
  • Feedback meeting with INSM group & Iraqi Wikimedians.
  • Wikimedia Stewards User Group

Volunteers[edit]

The facilitator team thanks the following volunteers for:

  • @IvaBerlin: for her extensive support and cooperation in making conversations of German LGBT+ persons and with German Wiki Women happen. Kudos!
  • @Fredericknoronha: for helping to organize a meeting with Wikipedians of Goa.
  • @DerHexer: for helping to organize a meeting with Wikimedia Stewards
  • @Camelia.boban: for helping to organize a meeting with WikiDonne
  • @Nattes à chat: for helping to organize a meeting with “Les Sans Pages”
  • @BamLifa: for helping to organize a meeting with DRC user group
  • @Yair rand: for fixing plenty of mistakes in the office hours’ automatic transcripts.