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Wikimedia Foundation Community Affairs Committee/2022-08-14 Wikimania session

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Sip, snack and chat with the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees[edit]

Time and Location: Wikimania Tent 1 · Sunday August 14, 16:50-17:40 UTC (click for local time)

Session Notes (etherpad)

  • Language: English. Live interpretation is available in: Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish, Russian, Hindi, Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Swahili, Turkish


Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees


Come and connect with the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. Whether you have never heard of the board or are just interested in hearing more about how the Wikimedia Foundation is governed this informal session is for you. Bring along your favourite drink or food to this fun session that will include a short video, a panel discussion and lots of opportunities to learn more about the work of the board.

Following the overall theme of Wikimania this year this session will be aimed at newcomers. Wikimedians wanting to ask specific questions about the Board's ongoing work are welcome to contact the board via the board noticeboard, email askcac(_AT_)wikimedia.org or join any of the upcoming regular conversations with trustees. With only a short time, we are unlikely to get to all questions asked in the event so any questions we do not get to during the event will be answered on this page after the event.

Session summary[edit]

The session focused on getting to know the trustees–their professional backgrounds, how they ended up on the Board, and what unique skillsets they bring to their roles–as well as exploring the specifics of Board work.
Discussion topics included:

  • Diversity on the Board: Goals around building a Board diverse in cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic backgrounds, types of expertise, age, gender. The Board is looking to define diversity with a global lens rather than defaulting to a US-centric definition, incorporating what it means across different regions and contexts. The Board is working to have data-driven discussions and involve community members in arriving at a definition that makes sense in our movement context.
  • A top issue facing the movement now: Changing/worsening political climates around the world. Ongoing battle with censorship, state-sponsored surveillance. Human rights abuses. These are factors the movement can’t always effectively prepare for in advance. The Board, the Foundation, and communities have ongoing partnerships to prepare us as best we can for these obstacles.
  • Roles of trustees including the board chair: Trustees meet as a larger group at Board meetings and, more frequently, at Board committee meetings to oversee and advise on different bodies of Foundation work. Trustees are all volunteers; like other Wikimedians, they fit their Board work in around their careers and personal lives. Board chair handles logistics as well as ceremonial duties–things like reviewing expense reports and contracts, building meeting agendas, convening board members. Creating conditions for the board to work productively as a group.
  • The Board Election and the affiliate leadership pipeline:
    • Board elections are complicated because there are three bodies responsible for carrying them out: the Board itself (through its Board Selection Task Force), the Elections Committee (Wikimedians selected by the Board to run elections themselves as volunteers), and Wikimedia Foundation staff around the world.
    • Of course, when a current member of the Board is up for re-election, they are recused from discussions and decisions regarding the election.
    • There are a lot of moving parts with people in different timezones. Recent elections have yielded stronger results in terms of tapping affiliate leaders and other leaders from different regions of the world.
    • The Board Governance Committee meets regularly to look at the process and innovate in ways to bring candidates that haven’t been typical to the process. They are happy to take suggestions and feedback for how to attract and keep non-traditional candidates in the process.

Learn more about the Wikimedia Foundation Board of trustees.

Questions and Answers[edit]

Questions asked in the Etherpad during the session:
1) 1% Community Tech Team budgeting: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Community_Wishlist_Survey_2022/Larger_suggestions#1% (would that be an increase over their current funding? I prefer 3x current if we're going to fix a percentage.)

  • The Board is not involved in specific operational decisions within the Product department or any other department, but is involved in looking at objectives, strategies and working models. One of the Product department’s objectives has been to better integrate the Community Tech team’s function of addressing software issues and expanded tools for existing editors across the department. Over the last two years, department leaders have worked to increase the number of teams and working groups that focus on well-defined and complex areas of software development. The Campaigns work and the Moderator Tools work are good examples of this strategic change. The Community Tech team and the Wishlist are highly valued within the organization, and will continue to provide critical, timely and direct support to existing editors, while the Foundation will also continue to invest in these functions for other teams.

2) Should the Endowment invest in real estate? What kinds of investments should be excluded?

  • Investment decisions for the Endowment are made by the Endowment Board, not the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The Endowment Board’s Finance Committee has been tasked with creating an investment policy, and they expect that policy to be completed during this fiscal year. The investment policy for the Foundation, however, is subject to Board of Trustee approval and is public for review. Real estate is an allowable asset under that policy.

3) What is the Foundation position on UN Decl. Human Rights Article 23, "Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration"?

  • The Board is responsible for the oversight and guidance of the Wikimedia Foundation. There are many critical issues, including important declarations, that, in broad terms, may be related to issues the Board advises on, but that do not have an official, public Board response. Even when the trustees as individuals may agree on certain principles, the Board must convene and agree on all official statements, making responding to everything happening in a global context not feasible. In-session response at approx 30 minutes.

4) Board member opinions on https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Poverty&diff=1104356585&oldid=1100680982 ?

  • Creating and managing content on the projects is the role of the communities. The Board provides high-level strategic guidance to Foundation teams on their efforts to work with communities to build products that facilitate editing, or to create policies that welcome and retain newcomers, for example. We are not able to provide official stances on specific edits on particular language projects. In-session response at approx 30 minutes.

5) How can the Scots Wikipedia be made acceptable to natural language processing experts for translation systems?

6) WMF swept in with Office Actions in response to project capture / admin abuse on the Azerbaijani, Chinese, and Croatian Wikipedias in the last two years. This was rarely done in the past but was very welcome. Does the current WMF board think there should be more or fewer such interventions in the future?

  • This question was taken at the Community Resilience and Sustainability Office Hour, as it pertains directly to that team’s workflow. It was answered by VP Maggie Dennis. Direct link to question and answer.