Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-03-03 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 22-28.

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]

The team facilitating the Call for feedback invites you to a round of panel sessions. As a result of the first three weeks of the Call for feedback three topics turned out to be a focus of the discussion and a new idea has been introduced. We would like to pursue these focus topics and the new idea appropriately, discussing them in depth by running four panels in the next week.

  • Regional diversity
  • Skills for Board work
  • Support for candidates
  • Board - Global Council - Hubs

Ideas discussed within the Board[edit]

Ranked voting system[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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

  • During a meeting with the Georgian community one person commented that this system is not suitable for elections, as it can be manipulated and disadvantage the best candidates.
  • The WMRU representative said the principle is normal, but one can also criticize it for its shortcomings. He thinks it might be better to leave this system for the future.
  • During a meeting with the Brazilian community, one person stated that this system creates a clear approach and eliminates the thought about being disqualified by candidates from larger communities.
  • One person from the Wikimedistas of Ecuador User Group feels there may be some problems with this system and it might end up being another type of popularity contest.
  • One person from the Wikimujeres User Group doesn't have any problem with this method because it allows for a more nuanced vote and allows defining preferences in a better way.
  • At an open European community conversation, One person supports the idea as it might help to increase diversity. Another supports the idea too, he likes the idea of having multiple choices. Another person remarks that the current ASBS system is a ranked voting system too and results might not differ very much after a change.

Quotas[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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

  • One person from Wikimedia Malaysia User Group is not sure about quotas. It would be good if most representatives were from small communities, but to appoint a representative from such a large number of small communities will be so tedious. We need to find a way to represent all those small communities.
  • One person said quotas could be a measurement of the depth of the affiliations. She thinks this is a good way to represent the diversity of the community provided that the seats are also open to the diverse members of the community.
  • The representative of Wikimedia Russia assessed this as an American system that should not be applied in this process.
  • A person at a conversation with “Noircir Wikipedia community” is in favor of both regional and gender quotas. All participants to the conversation agreed that having a quota for under-represented groups like Trans people, LGBT+ groups is a good idea. They suggested that the quota criteria could be updated at each election round to take into account the diversity in the movement at the moment of elections.
  • People from the Odia community felt that it is good to have quotas, but mentioned that minimum skills requirements should be in place for candidates applying using quotas.
  • Former trustee Bishakha Datta
    • said that the negative connotations around quotas should not stop us from using the concept.
    • suggested to have elections within quotas, so that the best of the underrepresented group can get the opportunity to serve on the Board.
    • suggested looking at it as underrepresentation, it can be phrased as a required expertise that has been historically missing.
  • One person from the Wikimedistas of Ecuador User Group referring to quotas on gender as 50/50 doesn’t take into account people who identity as non-binary.
  • Former trustee Bishakha encouraged the process to be proactive about new articulations of gender such trans, non-binary and also sexual orientations such as LGBT+.
  • A member of the Wikimedia LGBT+ user group said quotas bring an opportunity for tokenism.
  • Regarding a gender quota, a person from Wikimujeres User Group thinks that the Board needs to be aware of the gender gap on Wikipedia and then the Board can understand how to approach a solution. The person doesn’t know if a gender quota is a solution.
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) 20:43, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
  • A person from the Brazilian community feels there is not enough time to properly discuss quotas during this Call for Feedback.
  • At a European community conversation, one person agrees to an equitable gender quota and doubts a regional quota is necessary. Another opposes quotas in a broad sense, saying that the board is gender balanced already, had persons of non-binary gender and is already regionally distributed.
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) 20:41, 29 March 2021 (UTC)


Call for types of skills and experiences[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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

  • During a meeting with the Georgian community people thought this form of (s)election of candidates is not the best and cannot be representative of the Wikimedia movement.
  • A person from the Odia community felt that, as the Board is the highest decision-making authority in the movement, skills should not be compromised. A person from the Gujarati community agreed.
  • Former trustee Bishakha felt that there isn’t any harm in having an eligibility criteria for everyone on the Board, as it could lead to a more effective board.
  • One volunteer from Wikimujeres User Group stated it is better to have a balance when choosing candidates.
  • At a European community conversation, one person says it is not necessary to have extensive skills before entering the Board as training is possible. Another sees experience as a leader, team working skills, the ability to compromise, and community experience as important. Perhaps assessment like companies do during the job application process.
  • One person from Malaysia said not to expect candidates to know what they will be doing on the Board. Make sure they know basic and intermediate editing across all projects; and have a class or tutor session about administration or governance in the Trusteeship.
  • One person said some people improve after given the chance. Willingness to learn is important.
  • At a European community conversation Ad states, that he is seeing the knowledge of editing Wikis as much as an important skill as programmatic work in the movement. Most elected members of the current board have this background, being part of their skillset. He proposes a certain amount of edits in a wiki as a required skill for appointed seats too.
  • A discussion occurred on the idea Talk page about the Board communicating their needs and the rationale behind those needs well before the election so qualified candidates can run for the Board.
  • One person suggested on the idea Talk page that the Board be more proactive about searching for candidates in the community before the election.

Vetting of candidates[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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

Board-delegated selection committee[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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

Election of confirmed candidates[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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

  • Several comments in the Talk page of this idea have shown that the term “confirmed candidates” has been confusing, and the point of this idea reflecting the status quo has been missed by many. In any case, these volunteers are in strong favor of direct elections and strong opposition to any method of indirect elections.
  • During a meeting with the Georgian community one person supported this idea of following the status quo.
  • At a European community conversation, One person says that community votes are important as they can readjust approaches of the Board and its inner circle, creating new topics and enforcing different points of view. One person says that democracy is a better working principle than any elitist approach. Another person adds, that broad elections are safer, as they allow different and critical perspectives to enter the Board.

Direct appointment of confirmed candidates[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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

  • During a meeting with the Georgian community all participants unanimously rejected this idea as not democratic nor transparent. They added that the Board already has this ability to directly appoint members and it is not possible for all members to be appointed by the BoT.

Ideas from the Community[edit]

Regional seats[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

5 users from 3 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • One volunteer from Malaysia thinks it is good to have Regional Seats but make sure that they are not biased to the group they primarily represent and represent smaller communities too.
  • During a meeting with the Georgian community two people liked the idea of quotas, but only if it is based on quotas on a regional or linguistic basis. It would be best to use quotas based on a regional or linguistic basis and each should get a seat.
  • For the representative of Wikimedia Russia we need to take into account the number of the population and size of wikiprojects by region.
  • One person from Wikimedia Levant said that the Regional seats were the most favorable choice, the way to implement it should be after assigning the seat, only the people from the region should vote, and by having regional seats that don't mean people from the region can not nominate themselves for the general community seats.
  • Volunteers from the Odia community liked the idea, but suggested not to restrict the voting to the region only, as there are a lot of expats who are involved with home communities.
  • A volunteer from the Gujarati community suggested distributing the seats based on ratios of user bases and/or number of languages in a region, and these ratios to be updated every 3-5 years.
  • Former trustee Bishakha liked the idea, but objected to restricting voting to a region only, as it sort of makes it a ghetto, and Wikimedia is a global movement.
  • A volunteer from the Brazilian community argues that a regional seat doesn't address power dynamics in the region where Brazil, in the opinion of the volunteer, has been systematically disempowered and silenced, because of the ways Latin America is structured in the movement.
  • A member of the Wikimedia LGBT+ user group said diversity is important but there are a lot of different countries and regions so they should not be placed into one group.
  • One volunteer from the Wikimedistas of Ecuador User Group is in favor of this idea,  taking into account other factors such as the economic and social proximity of the countries. The volunteer thinks that a regional seat would give context to what is happening in the region and might reduce gaps of needs, financial and human.
  • At a European community conversation, Ad is concerned of quotas for too many groups due to the small size of the board, but he supports the idea of regional seats.
  • One person shared an observation about regional seats. They feel the IGC is more capable of regional representation because it’s a larger body. They also noted the voting community should be considered as well.

Specialization seats[edit]

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics:

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

  • One person from Malaysia said that a Trustee that specializes in helping small communities is necessary for mentoring and growth so they can be as strong as other communities.
  • One person from the Philippines said specialized seats are necessary because some smaller communities do not have the membership to have a specialized expert.
  • During a meeting with the Georgian community the participants rejected this idea as it doesn't appear to be very representative of the entire community and the Wikimedia movement.
  • The representative of Wikimedia Russia doesn't see the point of this idea and says it can also be included in the quotas if necessary.
  • One person from Wikimedia Levant said that Specialization seats should be from appointed seats. As indicated on the idea Talk page, three others agree (two from Egypt and one on the Talk page).
  • A participant from the conversation “Noircir Wikipedia” community suggested that the specialization should be based on the knowledge of the candidate of a specific region or community. For example, a candidate who has the best understanding of the African community and its needs.
  • At a European community conversation, a person especially supports the idea of specialization seats in the technical area, wanting a stronger support for smaller communities from non-wikipedia projects, as they suffer from being neglected by the Wikimedia Foundation’s software department.

Candidate resources[edit]

  • Volunteer Pharos has suggested an idea to provide greater support for potential candidates. It is an invitation to start a deeper conversation about mentorship, leadership development etc, for those potentially interested in running for elections. The facilitation team has added this idea to the Call for feedback.
  • One person during the conversation with the “Noircir Wikipedia” community suggested giving all the necessary support like coaching, budget, etc. for candidates and particularly for those from underrepresented groups.
  • One volunteer from the Brazilian community is in favor of this idea and thinks that this would help the movement as a whole, as skills are shareable and not only applicable to the Board but also to other members of the movement as well.
  • A volunteer from the Wikimedistas of Ecuador User Group thinks it is important to have the right tools and mechanisms to train people from inside the movement in leadership roles like the Board of Trustees, without the need to look for people externally.
  • At a European community conversation, one person likes the idea of supporting volunteers educationally means a lot. Another person likes this idea and suggests it happen before election to the Board.
  • A member of the Wikimedia LGBT+ user group said a lot of people don’t know what the Board does, so there should be clear information about the nomination process, volunteer process, election process, etc.
  • In a conversation with a former trustee they said, “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.”

Miscellaneous feedback[edit]

  • Volunteer Pharos shared a proposal for Reconciling community, diversity, continuity and overdue elections. It is a combination of ideas presented by other volunteers about regional seats and staggering the introduction of new seats. The initial reactions have been mixed.
  • Former trustee SJ expanded on the idea of staggering the introduction of new seats proposing a calendar year by year.
  • A person on the Call for Feedback Talk page said this CfF should explicitly be asking for candidates who can help guiding the Wikimedia Foundation (not the Movement) through this transition and hand over areas of responsibility the Board is currently occupying to other entities in the movement, existing or newly created.
  • One person from Wikimedia Levant said no one participates in elections because there is a feeling that their voices don't matter.
  • The same person from Wikimedia Levant said they feel the Board members are disconnected from the community.
  • One person from Wikimedia Levant said that appointed seats should be from communities as well. This will give the whole Board more credibility and will change the way they look at things and the way they work and make decisions.
  • One person asked on the Call for Feedback Talk page when the overdue elections will take place saying that the current Board “is not completely legitimate” because of the postponement of the elections last year. Other people critical of the postponement and the reasoning about the COVID-19 pandemic joined the discussion.
  • One person on the Call for Feedback Talk page said this discussion should be happening in conjunction with the discussion about hubs.
  • Volunteers from the Odia community asked for historical data on voter demographics. As there is a potential for less voter turnout from emerging Wikimedia communities, such data will help to understand issues with elections favouring people from Western countries.
  • One person suggested after elections, the Board use 2 of the appointed seats to appoint runners-up from the community elections who are from underrepresented communities.
  • A member of the Wikimedia LGBT+ user group said: ”Not sure if they’re not hiring the right people or there aren’t the right processes - an organization that has been around for 20 years and relying on volunteers to get stuff done when paid staff fail the volunteers and show that they’re not engaging in good practice, it doesn’t look good.”
  • A member of the Wikimedia LGBT+ user group said volunteers don’t know the Wikimedia Foundation budget and want that communicated.
  • In a conversation with a former trustee, they said: “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”
  • In a conversation with a former trustee, they asked, “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?”

CfF process feedback[edit]

What is happening next[edit]

The Call for feedback is entering its final stage. We are focusing on the organization of the panel sessions and the drafting of the main report.

Conversations[edit]

2021-02-22
Wikimedia Colombia
Wikimedia LGBT+
2021-02-23
Wikimujeres
Some members of Wikimedia South Africa
2021-02-24
Meeting with Bishakha Datta
Wikidata
2021-02-25
MediaWiki and Wikitech
Wikimedistas del Ecuador
2021-02-26
Wiki Movimento Brasil
2021-02-28
A talk with former trustee, Samuel Klein

Volunteers[edit]

The facilitator team thanks the following volunteers for:

  • Anna Torres (WMAR), for the help towards the call for feedback in the Spanish community.
  • George Melashvili, for the contribution he made to provide the opinion of the Georgian community in the process.