Wikimedia Foundation elections/Board elections/2007/Candidates/SarekOfVulcan/questions

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2007 board elections

Wiki account(s)[edit]

What is your opinion on family members/close friends using another person's Wiki account? Would you vouch not to allow other people use your account as <unnamed> board member did? MatthewFenton 16:59, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

I have no particular plans to let anyone else edit as me. My family knows that my online identity is distinctive, and wouldn't mess with it. I'll almost never say that something will never happen, though: I can just pledge that it wouldn't happen with the intent to mislead.--SarekOfVulcan 23:48, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Questions from User:Skenmy[edit]

Hello Garrett. I noticed that you have contributed to no other project aside from Wikipedia in any major fashion (aside from your contribution to Commons). Do you think that this is a setback for someone who is going on to be a factor in every project (being a member of the Board)? Do you also think that your lack of multi-language participation is a bad thing? (I myself only contribute in English and sporadically in non-fluent Esperanto)

Personally, I would myself probably vote for someone who had contributed to many projects over a single-project user. I don't think my lack of multi-language participation is necessarily a bad thing, as I can't write fluent Italian or German anymore (if I ever could (despite my Italian-language essay for my Brown University application)). Articles should generally be written by native speakers. I can also read Cyrillic letters a bit (left over from working in the Sciences Library Serials department), but have no Russian knowledge.

Also, what expertise and skills do you think you can bring to the board in particular? You mention your Microsoft MVP awards - what do you think these will enable you to (or have proven you have the skills to) bring to the Board, and Wikimedia as a whole? What differences do you think you can make, and how do you plan to serve the community as a member of the Board?

The MVP awards speak to my willingness to assist people on a volunteer basis. They probably also speak to my general geekdom, but I don't know if that's a requirement for Board members. :-) I have strong feelings in favor of the open source movement, especially as embodied in Wikipedia, but I am also willing to compromise if necessary, up to a point. I would bring a fair amount of intelligence to the board, decent writing skills, and passion for the WP community.--SarekOfVulcan 22:40, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Sorry for the probing questions! All the best in the elections! --Skenmy 21:45, 15 June 2007 (UTC)


Hi Garrett,

What is the top 3 things you want to have changed in the current strategy of the foundation? Thanks, Effeietsanders 21:54, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

I am not familiar enough with the current strategy of the Foundation to have an answer to this question. I will see if I can come up with a more informed answer by the end of the nomination process.--SarekOfVulcan 22:22, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Added Value[edit]

Hi Garrett,

What kind of value do you add to the current set of boardmembers in the area of Legal, Financial, Accounting etc expertise? Thanks, Effeietsanders 21:54, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Unfortunately, I can claim no particular expertise in any of those three areas. My value here would be limited to reviewing points as an intelligent outsider.--SarekOfVulcan 22:21, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Sister Projects[edit]

How much do you believe you know about projects outside Wikipedia? Do you have any involvement - even just reading - of projects such as Wikinews or WikiVersity? --Brian McNeil / talk 22:09, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm somewhat familiar with Wikinews, having read occasional articles such as "Cruise ship sinks off Greek coast". I'm not yet at all familiar with WikiVersity, but I will change that ASAP.--SarekOfVulcan 22:26, 15 June 2007 (UTC)
As a followup, do you think that the board should direct more effort towards increasing knowledge of sister projects and perhaps a little less concentrating on Wikipedia? --Brian McNeil / talk 11:10, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
Not really. The board should support them equally, to give them a fair chance, but mindshare needs to come from the community.--SarekOfVulcan 23:46, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Office evolution[edit]

In what way do you forsee the office (and staff) evolving under your tenure as a board member, should you be elected? i.e. would you be in favor of expansion, contraction, status quo, more interns, new positions, less, what?Swatjester 01:05, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't think I can have a good answer for this before the elections with the information I currently have or am likely to get. So, I'd have to go with status quo. I would probably support giving more internship opportunities on general principles, as long as people aren't tripping over each other trying to do their work.--SarekOfVulcan 16:12, 20 June 2007 (UTC)


Your lack of experience with aspects of Wikimedia outside of Wikipedia seems troubling. I must ask, are you at least familiar with the kind of stuff that the Board must do? —METS501 (talk) 05:11, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Honestly, no. However, I learn by doing, and I learn quickly.--SarekOfVulcan 23:42, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Ads, branding, business dev., GHGs.[edit]

  1. On the board, will you vote for ads on Wikimedia sites?
    1. yes
      1. pop-ups/flash/banners/graphics
      2. flash/banners/graphics in skin whitespace or at bottom
      3. company logos in site notices
      4. prominent text ads
      5. company names in site notices
      6. text ads in skin whitespace or at bottom
      7. opt out
      8. opt in
      9. other
    2. maybe
      1. only for a huge amount of money
      2. only during budget emergencies
      3. only if editors support it
    3. never
    4. other
  2. What are your thoughts on Wikimedia branding?
  3. What are your thoughts on the foundation's hiring of a business developer?
  4. How would you vote on the board about the foundation reducing or offsetting anthropogenic greenhouse gases, e.g. power used by hardware, flights, etc.?

Thanks. -- Jeandré, 2007-06-16t10:44z

  1. Hell, no. :-) I've had the "oppose ads" userbox on my en.userpage since October 2005.
  2. Not sure yet: will update later.
I think that the current branding is good, particularly separating the Wikimedia Foundation from Wikipedia. Regarding branding in general, though, I feel that it's a distraction, and that if a brand becomes more important than its product, the true value of both is lost. (See anti-corporate paranoia below.) --SarekOfVulcan 16:22, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
  1. I'm generally not sure about things that make projects more business-like: I have a fair degree of anti-corporate paranoia. That said, the list of duties he'll be performing seem like good things to do, and if we want to avoid ads, we need money to come from somewhere.
  2. Approve. If we don't take care of the world now, it won't be around long enough for us to enjoy the money we save, and the more people who act in a carbon-neutral fashion, the cheaper it will be for everyone. This assumes of course, that a proposal was given that would actually be realistic. Carbon-neutral as of next week would obviously be impossible (or at least highly impractical). Moving toward neutrality over the next year or two would probably be much more doable.--SarekOfVulcan 14:46, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Image Policy[edit]

What is your stance on the new policy for images, do you believe it is appropriate or too draconian in its exclusion of fair use? The reasoning behind my question is that I find it inappropriate for Wikinews where a fair use image could - due to this policy - potentially be replaced with a free image years after a news article is published. --Brian McNeil / talk 11:35, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

I've been reading through the various policies and discussions thereof for the past hour. Generally, the current image policy seems reasonable, but I'm not sure it's being applied correctly: for example, the en:Toa article (Bionicles) makes much less sense without any pictures. It may go too far in the direction of requiring critical commentary, instead of illustration -- but reading the policy in detail, it appears that this is not an absolute requirement, correct? Can you tell me which changes you're particularly concerned with, so I can be sure I've answered your question properly?--SarekOfVulcan 23:41, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Free and open - the proper balance[edit]

In your candidate statement you said: "I want Wikipedia to stay free and open, and hope to help find the proper balance." Could you elaborate or be more specific? ie. balance of/between what? Freeness and openness are the core of the project. Do you see Wikipedia's freeness and openness as problematic, in need of balancing against some other thing? Or just difficult to maintain or threatened in some way? In any case, what do you hope or plan to do about it? Thank you. heqs 17:11, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Well, WP:BLP is an obvious example of a place where openness has been found to not work ideally. I don't generally see it as problematic, but when situations arise where it causes problems, it needs to be balanced with utmost care. I almost always lean towards greater openness, and would work on the Board to help maintain this.--SarekOfVulcan 22:30, 16 June 2007 (UTC)


Last December, the Wikimedia Foundation revised its bylaws to change itself from a membership organization to a non-membership organization. In a membership organization, the trustees are directly responsible to the membership; in a non-membership organization, the trustees are ultimately responsible only to one another (and indirectly to donors, who presumably will not donate if they feel the trustees are not being responsible). Do you feel that the Foundation, constituted as it is as a non-membership organization, provides sufficient structural checks and balances to ensure that the trustees observe their fiduciary responsibilities appropriately? Would a return to a membership structure, with the ability of members to bring policy proposals themselves at the annual meeting or by other methods, to remove board members by appropriate vote, and to sue the Foundation under certain conditions limit the ability of the Trustees to do what they need to do? If you do support a return to a membership structure, how would you determine who the voting members are? Kelly Martin 18:43, 16 June 2007 (UTC)


I want Wikipedia to stay free and open, and hope to help find the proper balance.

So do I :) but I'm not running for board. you realise that boardship is a great will you help the foundation?...good luck..--The Joke النكتة‎ 08:12, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Checkuser policy[edit]

What is your opinion of the privacy policy, particularly relating to checkusering of adminship candidates? Majorly (talk) 13:25, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't see that it allows for or explicitly forbids that. I wouldn't be in favor of routinely checkusering admin candidates, but if there arises a legitimate question about their "identity" in the course of the RfA, users with CheckUser permissions should be able to check the answer. More generally, the policy seems to strike a good balance between protecting the users and protecting the projects. --SarekOfVulcan 13:58, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Communication with communities[edit]

Smaller communities in my experience can have problem drawing attention of the Board to important community issues where Board input is really necessary. Do you recognise such needs are currently left unanswered, and what could change to let the Board process such requests?--Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 15:08, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

As I am neither a member of the Board or a community member who hasn't been able to get their attention, I can't say that I recognize that the needs are going unanswered, or that things need to change. I can say that I would be accessible to all communities, and would routinely engage them as much as my time permits, even if I didn't feel competent to contribute to them, and would urge other board members to do the same. You can't properly make decisions about an organization when you don't know what it's doing.--SarekOfVulcan 14:32, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Foundation Growth[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation is growing at much faster rate now than ever before. We are trying to establish ourselves as a stable, mature, international non-profit organization. What type of organizational and management skills can you offer that will benefit the foundation?

Also, our advisory board ( is filled with experienced and competent professionals. The foundation can benefit greatly from their expertise and knowledge in various fields. Currently, their involvement in the foundation seems limited, how can you change the system to utilize their expertise? Do you think the advisory board should have more influence on decision-making? Vpatel 15:17, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Religious Picture Ban – Muhammed (Islam) versus Bahá'u'lláh (Baha'i)[edit]

Islam is a religion which don't want to see/show pictures or images of the founder Muhammed. Baha'i is a religion which don't want to see/show pictures of the founder Bahá'u'lláh. Wikipedia in most languages show respect for Islam and don't show Muhammed. But Wikipedia in most languages show a picture of Bahá'u'lláh. Wikipedia show more respect for the picture ban in islam than it show for the picture ban in Baha'i. What do you think is the cause for this and do you think that Wikipedia shall treat religions equal? Caspiax

I can't speak to the decisions that have been made in the past. I am a Christian, but I have a deep respect for the Bahá'í Faith, after learning some of its tenets in college. Are there contemporary depictions of Muhammad created by people who had seen them? If not, there would be no reason to include depictions in the article. The photograph of Bahá'u'lláh, on the other hand, is one that he sat for. As it accurately depicts an important religious leader, I believe that it should be included. According to the article, it would also be objectionable to show a depiction of Jesus: should Michelangelo's Pietà be likewise removed?
Also, depictions of Muhammad are included in the article on the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. Since the depiction is central to the subject of the article, I would disagree with attempts to remove the cartoons there.
I believe that in general, Wikipedia should indeed treat all religions equally, as far as possible. However, since it is not a religious encyclopedia, religious objections to otherwise acceptable content should not carry great weight. There are probably Christians on here who are offended by Piss Christ: that is not a reason to weaken the article.--SarekOfVulcan 14:25, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Headquarters location[edit]

From time to time there has been discussion about whether the Foundation's current headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the United States, is the best location for the office. Do you think that the Foundation should continue to be headquartered in and operate out of Florida, or would you support a move to another location? If you think a move is appropriate, where would you move the Foundation to, and why? Kelly Martin 21:37, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't see any reason not to leave it where it is, unless electricity or bandwidth elsewhere would result in significant savings to offset the cost of moving. If compelling reasons are presented, of course, I would consider them. --SarekOfVulcan 16:32, 19 June 2007 (UTC)


By nature and design, wiki communities are an amateur, unstable amalgam of widely differing perspectives and agendas. There is no individual or collective responsibility and no competence test for participation. Yet, the board of the ever-expanding and legally constituted foundation that runs one of the world’s top websites, needs to be highly professionally, highly competent, collectively coherent and responsible. It must have business savvy, and be willing to make hard-nosed and even unpopular decisions. In your opinion:

  1. Is the current board, vision and structure fit for that purpose?
  2. Are you? (Would you be a competent candidate for a board in any non-profit venture?)

(same asked of all candidates)--Doc glasgow 14:45, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Chapters[edit]

Taking into account the growing importance of Wikimedia chapters in furthering our common goals on the one hand and the impact the decisions made by the Wikimedia Foundation have on the work (if not existence) of the Wikimedia Chapters on the other hand: What do you think about the idea of giving the chapters a formal say in WMF's decision making process? What do you think especially about a) letting the chapters appoint one or more board members (beside the ones elected by the community) and/or b) changing the WMF back to a membership organization (with the chapters as members)? Do you have any other ideas to achieve more checks and balances between Foundation and chapters? On top of that, would you care to elaborate on your vision about the current and future role of the Wikimedia chapters? Thanks in advance, Arne (akl) 15:43, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Project policy involvement[edit]

What are your views on board involvement in writing and implementing policy for the various projects, especially in controversial areas where it appears that community consensus will be difficult to establish, such as on the "attack sites" [1] and biography of living people (BLP) [2] issues? Cla68 15:56, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

I want to say that the board should stay out of it, but the more I typed, the more I realized that they might have to take some role, as issues that arise in one project might need to be standardized across all WM projects. For the most part, policies should be decided by the community, with possible board blessing to make something WM-wide, and maybe mediation between projects, if say, Wikiversity consensus says one thing, and Wikipedia consensus says another.--SarekOfVulcan 20:46, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

What if[edit]

What would you do/recommend when elected and faced with 40% budget deficit? Absolwent 18:39, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Look for increased revenue, and if possible find places to cut spending that do not adversely affect the user experience. I'm sure people have come up with suggestions for both that I would thoroughly review if elected.--SarekOfVulcan 20:39, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Cash & users[edit]

We need money and people. We have lost users (for a while) after this event. Nobody expected it, but... the same was in 2006. Do you want to talk about money (with these wealthy guys) and what's your opinion about that event ;)? Przykuta 11:56, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Wikinews and Accredited reporters attending events[edit]

Wikinews may be one of the lesser-known projects, but we recently managed to get a contributor entry to the G8 conference. Efforts were made to get the Board involved in the drafting of a letter for the reporter's entry to the G8, but these received no response. As an involved party there is more about this issue on Eloquence's questions page [3]. What is your opinion on this, it is - I believe - an issue the board should take seriously. Those of us who contribute on Wikinews are ambitious enough to think that we can overtake the Wikipedia article count (although I may be retired before we manage it there are new news stories every day). As we really want to be able to do truly original reporting we need people who can "almost" say they represent us. Do you support this, and do you believe the board should have been involved for something as important as sending a reporter to the G8 conference? --Brian McNeil / talk 21:08, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

I think the board should draft a generic letter to that effect, but I don't think they should be involved with specific events, even as important as the G8: that's for the community to handle.--SarekOfVulcan 16:28, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Impending failure[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation at a corporate level is soaked in its own drama and if conditions don't improve soon, it will crash and burn. I want the newly elected trustees to act as catalystic mediators to simply and peacefully transform drama into productivity and then success for the foundation. How do you plan on doing this? Signed, your friendly neighborhood MessedRocker. 06:09, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't know if your assertion is accurate or not, but generally, I don't do drama. "catalytic mediator" seems like a pretty good description of what I see my role as being, as I lack business and legal depth.--SarekOfVulcan 16:25, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

IRC Debate[edit]

This is a mass question being posted to all candidates. A couple days ago there was a proposal to hold an all candidates debate on IRC at a time TBD. The planning page is at ElectionDebate07 - please indicate if you are interested and if so, a time that would work for you. -- Tawker 23:00, 23 June 2007 (UTC)