Jump to content

Wikimedia Foundation elections/2020/Questions

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Info The elections have not begun. Candidates and votes will not be accepted.
Help translate the election.

Previous years[edit]

In 2017, the Election Committee submitted ten questions to the candidates for the Board of Trustees:

  1. Why should you be a board member?
  2. Community influence on the board
  3. Potential conflicts of interest
  4. Diversity of the board / movement
  5. Public policy and political stance
  6. Priorities during your tenure
  7. Removal of members
  8. Size and scope of the Foundation
  9. Wikimedia as a global movement
  10. Building trust

In 2017, there were 45 questions submitted by the community to candidates for the Board of Trustees.

Submissions for 2020[edit]

From Elections Committee[edit]

The Elections Committee required these three questions:

  • Why do you think you would be a good candidate for a seat on the board?
  • Is there any connection between your employment (or other financial interest) and the position on the board? If so, please describe how you can ensure this does not interfere.
  • What do you believe the board should be focusing on?

Please submit questions for the 2020 elections below:

Proposal to amend bylaws regarding Founder's seat vacancy[edit]

The current bylaws, section 3 (F) reads as follows:

Community Founder Trustee Position. The Board may appoint Jimmy Wales as Community Founder Trustee for a three-year term. The Board may reappoint Wales as Community Founder Trustee for successive three-year terms (without a term limit). In the event that Wales is not appointed as Community Founder Trustee, the position will remain vacant, and the Board shall not fill the vacancy.

I propose amending the bylaws such that if Jimbo is unwilling, unable, or unavailable to fill the position, that it convert to a community elected seat. In fact given the significance of the position, I would propose that it convert to two community elected seats.

Just to clarify, I have no desire for the Founder's seat to become vacant. It merely occurred to me that it would be a Bad if the board were to shrink in such a fashion, losing such a critical voice for the Community. Alsee (talk) 20:45, 11 September 2019 (UTC)[reply]

  • Note: I had posted this elsewhere, as a suggestion to the existing board. Someone else copied it here. It does make an interesting question, and I wouldn't mind this idea getting a higher profile. However I'm not sure I want to tie up an election-question slot with this. If other people request this be included, sure, I'm happy to have it used. Alsee (talk) 21:09, 5 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Questions by indefinitely blocked user[edit]

Worthwhile questions may be adopted by anyone

Delegation of policy-making authority[edit]

The Board of Trustees' foundation:Resolution:Delegation of policy-making authority of December 13, 2016 delegated the Board's authority to adopt, alter, and revoke policies to the Executive Director and her staff. Do you believe that resolution has tended to support the readership? And the community? Why or why not? EllenCT (talk) 20:28, 3 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

By the way, if there is any question, the correct answer is, "yes, it has." EllenCT (talk) 02:18, 4 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Alignment with the community[edit]

Of the ten items on the 2019 Community Wishlist chosen in late 2018, only one had been marked done and three were in progress as of late November 2019. At this stage, the previous wishlists had 5, 4, and 6 of their top ten wishes completed.

(A) How do you propose to insure that Foundation efforts are aligned with the community in (1) technology and product development, (2) preventing harassment, (3) advocacy, and (4) access to resources? (B) How many Community technology and product development Wishlist items should the Foundation accomplish each year? (C) Should the Wishlist process be expanded to community health, advocacy, and contributor resource availability (e.g., Wikipedia Library subscriptions)? EllenCT (talk) 01:35, 30 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Communication with the community[edit]

Do you expect WMF staff to read and reply to questions on their Meta talk pages? How about in project discussions in which they have been pinged? All of them, or only some of them; if the latter, which? How often do you expect is reasonable to do so, in terms of the number of responses per month? EllenCT (talk) 05:03, 31 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Pay ratio[edit]

What is the appropriate ratio of the median of the annual total compensation of all employees to the annual total compensation of the chief executive officer for the Foundation? EllenCT (talk) 03:24, 29 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Economic philosophy[edit]

Please compare and contrast these statements by Michael Dell and his co-panelists with this statement by Nick Hanauer. In relation to the two, how would you describe your personal economic philosophy? EllenCT (talk) 05:38, 9 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Endowment 1[edit]

What, in your opinion, is the optimal size of the Foundation's Endowment and by what year would you prefer to see it reached? EllenCT (talk) 20:05, 28 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Technical vs. legal means of circumventing censorship[edit]

Compare and contrast commercial VPNs, Tor, IPFS, and ESNI. When are each of those appropriate means of avoiding governments' censorship? Under what conditions is legal action in the courts preferable, and under what conditions is it not? EllenCT (talk) 19:37, 29 December 2019 (UTC)[reply]


What is your opinion of the 2030 movement brand project which contemplates referring to the Foundation and affiliates as Wikipedia? In particular, is it appropriate for staff to revert contributors attempting to prevent the Foundation from involving itself in a push poll to support staff's pre-existing proposals? EllenCT (talk) 21:29, 11 March 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Endowment 3[edit]

The Wikimedia Endowment#Endowment Investment Policy invests the bulk of its assets in the US, and a small portion in real estate. What proportion of the Endowment should be invested in emerging markets? What proportion should be invested in such a way that it would tend to increase real estate prices? EllenCT (talk) 18:12, 5 February 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Compulsory literature royalties[edit]

Germany has had a system of compulsory royalty payments for literature since the 1950s, similar to the American system of compulsory royalties for streamed, radio, publicly performed, and pirated music. Do you believe such a system would be an appropriate means of rewarding editors who would not otherwise be able to volunteer to the extent they prefer? How do you think it would affect salaries and job numbers in journalism? EllenCT (talk) 01:41, 7 February 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Wikipedia Zero[edit]

Do you want the Foundation to try to bring back zero-rated access to the projects in the developing world? EllenCT (talk) 19:42, 8 February 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Cash position[edit]

Page 16 of the FY18-19 WMF Audit Report states that the Foundation was carrying $102 million in cash and $53 million in short-term investments in June 2019. Do you believe that cash position is appropriate? Is there any reason not to rotate such vast sums of cash through interest-bearing short-term investments? EllenCT (talk) 18:01, 10 February 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Artificial intelligence projects alignment by race or class[edit]

Should Foundation-supported AI projects be anti-racist or anti-classist?[1] EllenCT (talk) 22:23, 9 August 2020 (UTC)[reply]


Wikimedia Fundraising has grown quickly from US$50,000 in 2004, to US$50,000,000 in 2014, to $120,000,000 in 2019. A typical Wikimedia community understanding of this budget divides it into three parts:

  • necessary infrastructure: electric bill, core software development, IT team, legal office, corporate communications, conventional administrative operations of a large nonprofit organization
  • Special projects of Wikimedia Foundation staff: staff and programs beyond the basics, chosen and directed by WMF staff, which might also be accomplished through grant funding or external partnership
  • Special projects of Wikimedia Community members and partner organizations: funding to Wikimedia chapters and affiliates, community organizations or individuals, GLAMs, universities, or other nonprofit organizations

The duty of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is to approve or request revision of the annual budget which the Wikimedia Foundation proposes every year. One of the purposes of this current board election is to identify board members who will recommend annual budgets which have high potential of advancing the values and mission of the Wikimedia Movement.

Can you please share your thoughts on the percentage of the money which the Wikimedia Foundation collects which you think should go into these three broad categories? Is it 33/33/33? 20/70/10? If you cannot give a percentage, can you say how you think the Wikimedia community and public ought to discuss the Wikimedia Foundation budget allocation?

Also, if elected, what encouragement can you arrange for the Wikimedia Foundation to have excellent communication about the Wikimedia Movement funds for the understanding of the Wikimedia community and the media? Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:22, 14 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Endowment 2[edit]

I dream of a day when we could be in a position to do everything we are doing now while living off of the interest from our endowment and would have no need for further fundraising. Or we could keep fundraising, using the donations to do many new and useful things, knowing that whatever we do there is a guaranteed income stream from the endowment that will keep the servers running indefinitely.

For the last four years I have been calling on the WMF to structure our endowment so that the WMF cannot legally dip into the principal when times get bad. See WP:CANCER.

Nothing can grow forever. Sooner or later, something is going to happen that causes the donations to decline instead of increase. It could be a scandal (real or perceived). It could be the WMF taking a political position that offends many donors. Or it could be a recession, leaving people with less money to give. It might even be a lawsuit that forces the WMF to pay out a judgement that is larger than the reserve. Whatever the reason is, it will happen if we wait long enough. It would be naïve to think that the WMF, which up to this point has never seriously considered any sort of spending limits, will suddenly discover fiscal prudence when the revenues start to decline. It is far more likely that the WMF will not react to a drop in donations by decreasing spending, but instead will ramp up fund-raising efforts while burning through our reserves and our endowment.

I have no problem with the WMF dipping into the reserve (currently at $134 million, enough to cover our current $81 million spending for a year and a half even if donations go from $104 million a year to zero) but the endowment should be dedicated to keeping the servers running and certain essential functions (legal, accounting, paying the electric bill but not Wikimania or grants to other organizations...) alive forever, no matter how badly donations drop off.

If elected, will you make a commitment to an endowment that is legally protected from being drained by the WMF to pay for non-essentials? --Guy Macon (talk) 15:21, 15 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]


Dear candidate. Our current Terms of Use prohibits some activities that disrupt our projects, or are unlawful. Actually if any user violates those ToU, depending on the gravity of the issue, the response from the office seems to be a Wikimedia global ban. However most of the time the global ban is a "simbolic action", as that does not prevent the banned user from comming back over and over (abusing multiple accounts, etc.) and continue with the abusive activities, with the communities and the affected users having to deal with the problem over and over. Certain problematic long-term abusers and vandals had already caused that good editors leave the projects as they can not stand the abuse towards them anymore (v. gr.: continuous harassment towards them, death threats, stalking, vandalism, etc.). Would you support that the WMF pursues more effective remedies to counter the abuses described, including and not limited to, investing more money to develop better admin/anti-abuse/anti-harassment tools, and suing or taking legal action against particularly abusive, egregious, long-term abusers/offenders? Thanks. —MarcoAurelio (talk) 21:08, 18 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

w:Wikipedia talk:Requests for comment/Harassment solutions. EllenCT (talk) 09:40, 28 July 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Resources dedicated to combating problematic editing[edit]

  1. The WMF does not have a dedicated team of anti-abuse software developers. What resources will you advcoate the Foundation dedicate to the development and maintenance of anti-abuse tools?
  2. What resources will you advocate the Foundation dedicate to combating paid advocacy editing? MER-C (talk) 19:55, 29 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Location of the Foundation's headquarters[edit]

What is your opinion on the siting of the Foundation's headquarters in San Francisco? MER-C (talk) 19:55, 29 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

IP Editing: Privacy Enhancement and Abuse Mitigation[edit]

What is your opinion regarding the implementation or cancellation of this project? MER-C (talk) 19:55, 29 January 2020 (UTC)[reply]

"Given that the European Court of Justice found that the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement fails to protect Europeans' rights to data privacy, can we please stop logging readers' IP addresses?"[2] Presumably with the option that logging can be turned back on when debugging information may be needed in the future? EllenCT (talk) 18:46, 24 July 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Employee union[edit]

Do you support the formation of an employee union? If so, do you think the NPEU or NEU is more appropriate? 2601:647:5E80:1850:799E:1DA7:CCAA:51F9 23:10, 23 February 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Well this question opens a giant can of worms. I'd make a wild guess that this question came from an employee. And employees get to vote in board elections. And even though this might not be an unreasonable question in general, it poses an enormous conflict of interest for the 300 staff who might have this influence their vote. If the board were to get directly involved in this, employees would have some difficulty in objectively voting in the best interests of the movement. Aaand the probable eventual outcome of this question having been posted is probably going to involve stripping all staff of voting rights, which is going to be painful. Hm.
I don't suppose we can just not have this posed to the candidates, so that the issue can be pushed off to a time when we're not a few months away from elections? Or maybe just pretend this never happened? --Yair rand (talk) 07:59, 24 February 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Are you saying we should censor a question because the answer might be in the interest of some of the voters? I'm not sure that's what a conflict of interest is. But, the NEU is a small US national union, and the NPEU is an affiliate of the IFPTE, so that's easy enough to answer. I'd like to know more background on this question; is a unionization effort currently in progress? EllenCT (talk) 21:05, 24 February 2020 (UTC)[reply]

An off-wiki former union organizer and shop steward has recommended the Communications Workers of America, District 9. EllenCT (talk) 02:23, 19 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

I would recommend de:Ver.di (or any other member if de:UNI Global Union. We are no US-company, but an international movement. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 16:28, 29 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Coming from a bit of a background in US labor practice, I would say "do you support a union, and if so which" is not a question for the Board, it's one for the employees. What I would like to know from the Board is if they will commit to not oppose any labor union formation efforts employees take on, and if a majority of employees (in a given section/bargaining unit) choose to form one, that they will recognize that union and negotiate with it in good faith. Should I make a separate question to that effect? Abeg92 (talk) 00:10, 24 January 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Project self-governance[edit]

Should the Wikimedia communities maintain ultimate authority over the projects' on-wiki content (both inside and outside the main namespace), conduct and content policy and enforcement thereof, userrights assignments/removals, and page protection, with the Wikimedia Foundation staff prevented from exercising any authority over these areas except in order to deal with certain legal or software security issues, or to execute responsibilities specifically delegated to them by the communities (eg the limited role of the Trust and Safety team)? Yair rand (talk) 23:40, 7 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]


Should the Wikimedia Foundation aim to conduct all of its activities on transparent public platforms (where this is possible without causing legal/privacy/security problems)? --Yair rand (talk) 06:49, 7 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

What do you think about critics on WMF lack of transparency?--Ferdi2005[Mail] 14:29, 29 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Community-Foundation relationship[edit]

There have been recurring serious conflicts between the Foundation and community. There has been a lack of alignment in plans, wasted labor and money when projects fail, trust has fallen to toxic levels, disrespect for consensus equals disrespect for community. In many cases I have seen the community desperately try to warn staff of problems, try to correct flawed plans far in advance. Those warnings are ignored. Staff continue doing their assigned job month after month, even when known problems or community consensus makes it impossible for the project to succeed. Eventually the situation escalates into crisis, usually when the work is completed. In some cases the assigned job derives directly or indirectly from something the board approved. Is this something you intend to address? And if so, how will you succeed when previous boards have not? Alsee (talk) 20:37, 5 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]