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Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-02-28 Notes from a talk with Samuel Klein

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2021-02-28 Notes from a talk with Samuel (Sj) Klein

Engaging with community

  • The best rollouts were under Eric and Sue - both embodied aspect of collaborative revision
    • Sue was very descriptive in what she was thinking and shared that.
  • There needs to be a decision about what the brand is. We are at a point where we are deciding to do this and the volunteers may decide to do that.
  • Good interventions were well-received because they were collaborative in development. Often it’s something good, but they didn’t figure out how to connect it with the community who are interested and invested.
  • Schedule for a little more staff time to engage with the community so Wikimedia Foundation staff don’t feel like it is a burden when there is strong resistance from the community.
  • If doing a cost analysis and considering this could be done by staff, that misses the point. The community doesn’t want to be compensated personally, but just wants to be involved. The community wants to be delegated to and involved. These are not things that can be controlled but it’s just the cost of acting in this space.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation needs to be careful and not shut down support after minor bad experiences (referenced the Wikimedia Kenya loss of ~$800 resulted in their loss of support) and be okay with learning experiences from communities.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation really needs to take a holistic approach to engagement in the community instead of these time-boxed processes. Delegate to the community what is appropriate for engagement and buy in. Set aside funds for these processes. Be flexible for mistakes and tangents.

Board, IGC, Global Council Intersection

I could imagine one selection process covering all community-elected seats (Board, council, hubs). Clearer messaging about where IGC and Board intersect is needed.


There is no other committee been asked to set aside time for June or to work on this process beforehand. Failing to engage with the community beforehand could hurt the volunteers and that relationship.

Board processes

  • Here is how things should happen: Present a recommendation, the period for suggesting revisions, and the evaluation process and timeline for evaluation of the recommendation.
  • Talk about how this process is going to impact the balance of the Board of trustees.
  • How are the things working - the appointed process and the elected process? What does it mean that it takes so much longer to find appointed trustees?


  • “We need a ladder of participation in governance + planning + coordination.”
  • Biggest fear is that we sideline the FDC.
  • We could learn about different governance models and the only goal was to make the movement work better. Talk with people who participate in the FDC and small grants committee and ask them about how it affected their participation in the projects.
  • If you wanted to get involved, your options were limited to impact governance. Affcom is the exception - most of the other community groups were wound down. No one mistrusted them, but it doesn’t fit standard practices. Editing doesn’t capture their expertise (like auditors) or (international lawyers). Our people with governance experience have a harder time connecting. This current practice feels temporary and campaign driven and not as much of an investment.
  • Leadership and governance roles in the movement were not discussed - what does the investment outlook like to make that happen.

Growth of expertise

  • We invest in paying translators but not in their growth as translators through providing courses to help them be professional translators.
  • Leadership training is diverse and varies with context - which type of leadership do you want?
  • Pools of funding might be nice for these and then decisions can be made about how they’re spent.
  • Diversity - we have had a hard time building and establishing communities in Asian and Africa. Creating opportunities and explicitly figuring out how to do that might have been more effective than building programs.
  • We should continuously be running training programs. We have a lot of people who have worked their way up so far, and then we should support them through development. We should invite parts of the community to imagine how to best support this goal.