Wikimedia Foundation elections/Board elections/2013/Questions/2

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What will you bring to the board humanly speaking?[edit]

What will you bring to the board humanly speaking? Schiste (talk) 08:19, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
Most of my life has been spent in various living situations and cultures. Currently, Im an American English teacher living in Mexico City. Before that, I live in various parts of the U.S. and in Germany. My professional background is that of language teaching at the university level. One particular need the Foundation has is outreach to more traditional educational and academic institutions, and making them see that Wikipedia is a valuable partner, not an upstart looking to replace them. As one can probably see from my answers here, I like to get to the point and I value honesty over political correctness. I value getting things done and resolving issues over wiki-drama, although people-being-people, one of the things to "get done" is dealing with someone else's drama. I consider myself a realist. As Wikimedia becomes, frankly, more powerful, more people will be drawn to working with us, and not for the same reasons that those who joined in the first few years. One focus I have is to create a balance among these competing interests.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
I'm organized... most of the time. I am willing to debate, to stand up for my ideas, but also to change my mind. I am rarely intimidated, but am often humbled, by what I don't know and by how much there is to do. I can be a spokesperson for the organization when I need to be. I'm sympathetic to other points of view, and I try always to keep in mind the needs of the Wikimedians I have met from all around the world. I try not to take things too personally (which is important because you have to be able to function under criticism), and I work hard to diffuse tense situations and take care of people who are taking it personally. Like all of us, I have a pretty high tolerance for sitting up late and debating Wikimedia issues :) And I really, really, really care about this organization; I've devoted many years to Wikimedia, and will continue to do so regardless of whether I win this election.
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
If elected I will collaborate with my colleagues Board members, to suggest new skills for cooperation between locally, nationally and internationally Bodies to work closely with Wikimedia foundation especially on intellectual property rights. I know quite a challenge that ran down the Wikimedia movements especially on Wikipedia articles. Before my joining with Wikimedia as a user, I hasn’t knew the need of being a member of Wikimedia and its projects, but later I realized that I was too late, so I will use my testimony to spread the knowledge love, respect, cooperation, unity, courage, patience, perseverance and humility.
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
Different prespectives, especially a local prepective, I think. I am starting my Wikipedia life from an editor to a volunteer in a chapter, and then on a regional and global level, my experience help me really understand the situation of different communities, and their feelings (sometimes fustrations) towards current system & structure of the movement.
Samuel Klein (Sj)
I will bring focus on the power of communities; long-term perspective; consistency; and empathy.

In groups, I tend to focus on facilitation. A decision-making body is only as good as its ability to work together, and I try to find shared vision among people with different perspectives and make that a reality. I bring my love for our collective work, and for all those who make it possible. We should be kind and patient with one another, even when drama seems ready to overtake us. I rarely take offense at what others say, as I can usually put myself in their shoes. When I see unnecessary conflict arising, I try to resolve it.

To Board decisions and planning, I bring a view of the long-term change we can have over our lifetimes. I see Wikimedia and similar projects stirring a sea-change in how people think about writing, teaching, and sharing: a change that will play out over generations. And focusing on longer-term goals helps to clarify immediate conflicts. I believe in standing by one's positions, and being predictable and consistent over time. I find that apparent crises can usually be managed gracefully and without haste.

As for the personal perspective I can bring to the Board: I have an understanding of technology, and of the workings of other foundations and global social institutions. I try to share models for collaboration that have worked elsewhere. And I believe that the majority of our work and success comes from independent communities of contributors, not from centralized efforts and programs. It is easy, once an organization is established, to focus within - to think that its work is the primary driver of its mission. I try to focus the Board on the different needs and views of different regions and language communities.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
On the internet, no one knows if you're a dog. If I am one, you can gauge what kind of dog I am from my talk page on en.wikipedia. I like to think of myself as a straight shooter (or, an equal-opportunity offender), and I haven't yet made an administrative decision because I like or dislike a certain editor. On Wikipedia, my editorial decisions are based on policy, content guidelines, and my own judgment; that means, for instance, that I've significantly trimmed articles of living authors whom I like because I think the articles are too close to resumé territory. I try to be fair.

My en.wikipedia talk page has a lot of stalkers, and a lot of people come by asking for all kinds of help; very often those people are helped by the stalkers, so I like to think of myself as an enabler of good things.

I was taught to respect authority if it deserves it but not to bow to it, and that's what you can expect from me if I make it to the Board. They're not paying me anything anyway. Besides, this would be my first venture into bureaucratland (even in my job I've successfully avoided that so far), and in this particular land I have no allegiance except to the community I hope to represent.

Also, I am really good at kissing babies (in fact, I have made three that I kiss regularly), so I'm pretty good as a public face for our organization. And I know what it's like to balance a busy job, a family, and a pretty serious devotion to Wikip/media.

Tom Morton (ErrantX)
Well I'm something of a cheeky chap! So I tend to inject humour into the situation :) usually through laughing at myself. As an individual I'm fairly easy to talk to, so I hope that makes me approachable, I go out of my way to respond to people linking up with me on Wikimedia issues because I think dialogue is important.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
My wiki experience, I'd say above all. Allow me to explain my rationale. My experience as: an editor on two different Wikipedias and a few sister projects, as a Wikipedia admin, as a chapter member, as a former chapter board member, as a member of two WMF committees, as an organizer of wiki workshops and events. This is hard-won experience gained by contributing over the course of many years within the movement. And I believe it enables me to provide a different and fuller point of view on things. So I can help keep things in perspective and keep track of the needs of the different players. I believe that through presenting such needs and different point of views, drama is reduced and understanding is born. And we can always do with more understanding each other, don't you think?
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
I've been involved in the Wikimedia-universe now since 2005 (which is less than some, but more than most) and it has become part of my personal, professional and academic life. So many of my friends and personal experiences are due to Wikimedia; every job I have had has built upon skills I first obtained within Wikimedia; and both university degrees I have undertaken have ended up focusing on Wikimedia. So, what I can bring to the Board "humanly speaking" is a deep dedication to the movement, mission, and its people. I have been fortunate through the various projects I have undertaken in Wikimedia that I have been able to visit many countries and participate in MANY wikimeetups around the world. This means that I have a strong appreciation of Wikimedia as a deeply human project. It may only be series of websites, but they are built by humans who deeply care, and each Wikimedian expressed that care in their own way.
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
I bring my time and skills, and a commitment to our values and to empowering our community. I believe greater engagement with the community is needed, and I will invest the time required to bring about that transformation.


What skills will you bring to the board?[edit]

What skills will you bring to the board? Schiste (talk) 08:19, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
I like to see myself as a bridge, or bridge builder. From my professional life as a professor, I have developed skills in dealing with outside entities which are still very skeptical as to the value of Wikipedia, even though they use it! This is especially true for academia in the humanities and social sciences, some of the people we desperately need to collaborate with. On a personal level, I have much experience with intercultural communication, and am aware of the problems this entails (hint- its the aggregation of small stuff that causes the most problems). While the U.S. and Mexico are neighbors, culturally they are worlds apart in many ways. My husband (Mexican) still helps me from time to time even though Ive lived here for 10 years.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
As I said in my statement, I believe I can mainly help the Board function as an organization. As secretary, I helped the Board stay organized (meaning things like keeping us on our own calendar for voting on resolutions, making sure documents went out, and making sure that issues that were brought to the table were discussed). The Board has very limited time and attention, and so it's important to keep careful track of discussion priorities; I think if elected I could help fill this role again. I tend to be someone who summarizes, reports, and reflects on the discussion, in order to bring the group towards a conclusion. Additionally, I'm a good writer, and I'm pretty picky about it (I helped copyedit most of the resolutions and documents that went out when I was a Board member). I am careful about following community discussions as much as I can, and bringing those comments back to the board; and I am also careful about making sure long-term issues stay on the Board's agenda.

I also bring the view from my profession. As a professional librarian and academic, I know a fair amount about how other information systems, reference works, information politics, and the education system work, and can add that viewpoint to the Board's discussion. Lastly, I have done a lot of hands-on editing training over the years, so am familiar with the needs of both long-term and new editors, which can be helpful.

You may also be interested in my statement from last year, where I described what I bring (and what I don't).
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
Since the establishment of the Wikimedia Foundation as a non government organization, a lot of skills implemented by the seniors Board members who have proceeded, and I took this opportunity to thank all those who contributed significantly to make a difference but I'll also use my creativeness to increase and ran more productively and to improve the present movements. I will corroborate with researchers and other technical advisers to find more skills.
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
Communication skills as a person working in the media sector, organizing skills shown in the Wikimania planning, and regional network & connections
Samuel Klein (Sj)
Partnership-building, planning, communication, and technical and non-profit experience.

I have a background in designing projects to free knowledge and technology, around the world. In my work I often develop partnerships among institutions, foundations, and civic groups. I can help in part personally -- I regularly give talks about Wikimedia to new audiences, encouraging institutional or field-wide collaboration. And I made efforts to expand Wikimedia's reach and audience part of my work at One Laptop per Child and at the Digital Public Library for America. I bring this view of our opportunity-space to the board, helping the WMF include global partnership-building in its own plans.

I have worked as a software engineer, and help to give our technical platform due priority. I have also often worked in highly multilingual communities - when building translation tools, and later in international volunteer communities - and understand how to focus on multilingual process and communication.

Much of my work is with other foundations, academic institutions, and non-profits. As a result, I am familiar with budgeting and planning on both short and long timescales, and can share models from other arenas that may work for the Board. My work on the Board so far has focused on strategy and longer-term direction, which is becoming a greater focus of its work as other tasks are taken up by staff. I have also worked as Secretary and have led a move towards working and brainstorming in public on meta, away from private wikis. And I regularly help with communications more generally.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
no response yet.
Tom Morton (ErrantX)
Well, obviously I bring a deeply technical perspective. But this doesn't just mean focusing on technology. My analytical and engineering skills are broadly applicable to any type of problem solving.

Beyond that I have a knack for drilling into the core of an issue, and asking probing questions. I like to take the role of devils advocate - a step I think is important in figuring out whether our decisions are the best and most appropriate.

I guess I am good at conceptual and very broad strategy, which is the key role of the board. Once I have the measure of a situation I can hold the entire solution in my head and begin to drill down into the specifics.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I try to be a regular day-to-day worker, to keep track of all the issues that are going on and not let anything slip through the cracks. So, as it follows, I like organization, method and order. I am very familiar with bylaws, budgets and strategic planification, so I will not cringe in horror when I see, say, a spreadsheet or a charter modification proposal. :) I persevere to get the job done, and to find win-win solutions. And I do believe you preach with example: it is only when you do something that people understand you believe in it and are more willing to do it themselves. Be it simply doing a workshop, systematizing a report system, or taking point in a situation. Talk is cheap, personal commitment is hard. Walk the talk.

I can stand up to defend my convictions and actions, and I've never had a problem speaking up and offering my opinion. I can listen and be flexible and be convinced of other points of view (when presented with sources, as befits good wikimedians :P). My people skills are not bad. I communicate regularly with wikimedians from all around the world in my role as an Affiliations Committee member. Above all, I try to be empathetic: people work too hard to treat them with any kind of disrespect. And I demand the same. For all of us volunteers with limited time, prioritisation is a must: I've developed a necessary eye on when something is worth involving yourself into and when something isn't, because you can't do everything and you need to choose or burn.

Another skill would be languages: I speak English, Spanish and (more rustily) French. I'm sure that could come in handy in the Board.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
As I believe I have demonstrated with my work initiating Wikimedia's GLAM projects, my skill is in what might be called "leading from behind". I am proud to say that something that I started no longer needs me, and that things happen within that field on a daily basis that I didn't even know about. I am certainly not taking credit for everyone's work - but I am saying that I played an integral part of building something that is now self-sustaining and considered to be "of the community" around the world. Especially in the consensus-driven culture that we have, it is important to develop projects, ideas, changes in a way that everyone feels like they are part of the process - not merely the recipient of an announcement at the end. So, while the process might be slower than making a "command decision" (something that would be seen as good leadership behaviour on most Boards) building a sense of inclusion in the process itself is far more important for the outcome to be successful in the end. Other, more specific, experience that I can bring are: professional experience working for the public sector (for the National Library of Australia) and the codes of practice and professional standards this requires; competence in French and Swedish; extensive experience representing Wikimedia to external groups; and previous experience in being affiliated with both Chapters (as Australian Vice President) and WMF staff (as Cultural Partnerships Fellow).
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
Wiki-skills
  • Extensive experience with building small sister-projects
  • Extensive English Wikipedia involvement
  • Appreciation of the non-English Wikipedia
  • Familiarity with the 'meta' community and practises

Real-world skills

  • Involvement in large grant administration and monitoring
  • Computer science and library science experience
  • Experience running Wikimedia workshops in academic and GLAM environments, drawing on professional teaching experience


Why should I NOT vote for you?[edit]

Why should I NOT vote for you? Schiste (talk) 08:20, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
If you want someone to not tell the truth, or sugar-coat it to the point of being unrecognizable, then you shouldnt vote for me. Im direct as well.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
If you didn't think I did a good job the first time; if you want someone who has more experience in non-English-speaking communities; if you don't think my skills fill a need on the Board; if you disagree with my positions; if you want to save me from buying lots of headache medicine over the next two years... all of these are good reasons to not vote for me!
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
As a human being you have an option, but the choice of viewing direction that you wants to fulfill the dream predicted that an appropriate way for you, so if you see that I cannot fulfill your dreams then do not do, but I can assure you of the screen, I can realize the dream of this world and I’ll gone to use the wisdom of the ancestors of Africa, please do your right, I thank you for your sensible questions.
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
I hate emails. (Of course I have to read them, but I don't want to generate more if I really don't need them.)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
Many answers apply to any candidate. One reason specific to me:

If you want the Foundation to be risk-averse and to avoid failure anywhere in the movement.

I feel the WMF should serve in a supporting role within the movement, with few centralized programs, and should welcome innovation, creative ideas, and mistakes from the communities it supports. I think we should be less risk-averse, that we should celebrate failure as something to learn from, and that we should tell others about our failures so that they can learn with us.

This is not quite aligned with the current direction of the Foundation: which minimizes legal risk and downplays failure, and reacts with anxiety to failure in others. As a result I sometimes vote against positions that might otherwise be unanimous on the Board.

I understand the alternate vision of a Foundation that takes few risks, as a way of protecting its donors and reputation -- there are some highly successful organizations which have developed in this way. If you share that vision, you should not vote for me.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
Because you might think (mistakenly!) the other candidates are better, of course. Or you have figured out that I'm really Larry Sanger. Which I'm not, just for clarity's sake.
Tom Morton (ErrantX)
Because I am fairly young, compared to some of the other candidates, and you might want someone with deeper experience and wider connections.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
Because I will not encourage, through word or action, drama. So if you like it, tough luck, I will not contribute to it.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
It is very easy to give a flippant answer to this question - it sounds exactly like something that would be said in a bad job interview :-) But I'll try to give a serious one! I have been quite visible to some parts of the community over the years - notably to the outreach/GLAM teams, to Chapters, to the English-language mailing lists, to the WMF staff, specific areas on-wiki, to people who read my thesis, blog or listened to the podcast. But equally, I was probably not very visible to many other parts of the community e.g. to the communities on Wikisource or Wiktionary, or to non-English speaking communities (although I note that I believe I have attended more Wikimeetups in Paris than in my home city, so perhaps that means I could as a member of that community too??). If you are a member of the former group who does know me, how I operate, what I stand for - and you don't like it - then don't vote for me. If you are a member of the latter group who doesn't know me and you either: don't like what I say in these answers; or disapprove of my not being visible in your area of the Wikiverse before - don't vote for me. How does that sound?
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
I hope that you will vote for three candidates who will represent you.


About diversity[edit]

Some candidates talked about "diversity". What is, in your opinion, diversity? Schiste (talk) 08:21, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
I always have problems with this question because, when many people speak of diversity, they often mean leaving out certain opinions, especially those of Western conservatives. I dont think anyone here is going to say that we should not have diversity, but I will say that we should not strive for such at the expense of freedom of expression (political correctness). We ourselves cant be completely diverse by our own admission because some cultures (China, Saudi Arabia) have cultural values which are very much opposed to those of Wikimedia. I believe that the best we can do in this area is encourage people to participate, without elevating any group over the other.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
Diversity means including people from many backgrounds: speaking a variety of languages, from a variety of professions, a range of ages, many interests, many experiences, many locations -- and it also means reflecting the world's knowledge in our project, and combating systemic bias. Diversity means that we try truly to include the sum of all human knowledge. When I give talks about working on Wikimedia projects, I often say the following: don't expect the people you encounter to share your politics, your sense of humor, or your interests... but you can (generally) expect the people you meet to be working in good faith and sharing the same Wikimedia values -- a diverse group working towards the same goal. On a personal note, my favorite part of working on Wikimedia projects is our incredible internationalism. While doing work with Wikipedians from around the world, I have learned so much about what life is like for people in other places (running the Wikimania visa program was an education in itself!), and who come from other cultures and languages from my own, and I am so grateful for it.
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
In my opinions is unfair for candidates to discuss the transition to another candidate, but only where needed clarification is the candidate himself to clarified for his statement where is not understandable and that is based on mutual respect that we seek built to Wikimedia.
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
Things working in one place doesn't means working in somewhere else. We should help it out, even that doesn't fit certain criteria in the developed world, and also respect their way of life, that's diversity. (Again this is a matter of attitude)
Samuel Klein (Sj)
Diversity on our projects means a cross-section of different communities in the world, in both language and field; a cross-section of different types of contributors; and a cross-section of background: gender, social network, geography. Diversity on the Board includes the above, but with an extra focus on a diversity of background: in skills and organization types that each Trustee is familiar with.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
None of the wikis can have a chance of success without a diverse body of editors. The idea is to cover the world, all its knowledge--that requires a world of editors. As it happens I am editing in a moderately diverse cross section of Wikipedia, a world populated by blacks and whites, boys and girls, gay and straight, and it makes for a more rewarding experience and for better articles. Diversity for me? I'm Dutch, so liberal there isn't a word for me in American English, and I work in the Deep South where we're still overcoming all kinds of old grief even while the rest of the US is moving rapidly toward more civil rights for more people. That feeling of being an odd one out makes me feel sympathetic to the other odd ones out, I suppose.

It's obvious that we should encourage diversity. How to do that, that's the harder question, and I don't think it can be mandated: here in the US they do "diversity training", and anyone who's gone through that will tell you that it's laughable (at least, if they are allowed to be honest). I think we need to be honest as well and allow that saying "we encourage diversity and aim for x% participation of group Y" sounds good but doesn't yet do anything. At the same time, that means we'll have to keep thinking about what we can do, and I think that involves listening.

Tom Morton (ErrantX)
no response yet.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
Diversity is always having in mind that there are people who have had different experiences than yours, and taking that into account when making a decision. It's no good doing something that only benefits a segment of the population but ignores another. When we say one of our priorities, as a movement, is to diversify our editorship, it's not because it's a random Public Relations idea that will make us look good in the media: there is value in diversity. Check the existing studies on the subject. Diversity allows you to tap into many talents. In any context, people with fresh ideas and perspectives help assure long-term success. Diversity is about how we relate, how we connect to each other, how we make a big effort to understand each other: it is about where the lines cross.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
I think there are at least three relevant measures of diversity in the context of the WMF board: linguistic, Wikiproject, and specific skills. There are also the factors of ensuring demographic diversity including gender, ethnicity, age and home country. It is very important to have a representative diversity in all of these areas on the Board but we should be wary of trying to "enforce diversity" as this results in arbitrary or "token" appointments. This is one of the reasons I am in favour of the "expert seats" on the Board as they allow us to fill identified gaps in our Board's experience - most notably on the "specific skills" aspect.
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
Diversity is essentially respect and fairness combined. Supporting diversity is empowering volunteers, affiliates and project communities to put forward ideas that they believe will work within their cultural framework and organisational capacity, and supporting those ideas unless there is clear & valid opposition in the broader community.


About trust and understanding[edit]

Wikimedia movement knows, for a few years, trust and understanding issues. Those issues have been the source of many tensions, conflicts and problems. Do you believe that this is an issue that should be handled by WMF Board? If no, why? If yes, why? Schiste (talk) 08:26, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
I have accused the movement and the Foundation of naïveté. Like all concepts, "assume good faith" can be abused and indeed some of the Board's actions in the past years have been to correct problems stemming from giving individuals and groups too much leeway. The purpose of the Board is not to settle disputes, but rather to set the basic rules and tone. The problems we have had for the last couple of years will not disappear in a two-year term, but one of the Board's main challenges is to make the basic rules clearer, and perhaps far more specific than they were comfortable in the past.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
The Board by itself can't "fix everything" about relationships between various Wikimedia groups. But it certainly should be aware of what tensions and conflicts exist in the movement, and figure out whether these are systemic and ongoing. That is, is conflict built into the structures that we have set up? Over the next several years, does it seem likely that structures that we've built around funding and programmatic work will lessen tensions, or increase them? Or are existing systems working OK to handle conflicts when they arise? I don't think it's the Board's job to address every single individual conflict, but I do think the Board should worry about ongoing sources of tension between the various parts of Wikimedia, and think about long-term solutions. And, the Board itself should be careful to model good behavior and act in a trustworthy way, explaining and documenting actions and the reasons for actions clearly and involving community input.
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
The Board of Trustees is highest organ of authority in the regulation of resistance to any organizations on earth and we talk about the Wikimedia Foundation then we pointed out the authority of the Board of Trustees. It is supporting columns of aspects of the Foundation. The key issue is solely responsibility for all of us to build a reputation and avoid any form of discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, nationality or continents. Conflicts wherever whichever can resolved, this is an example of a father and mother, child and parent, neighbor to neighbor, boy friend with girl friends even friends all are disputed on conflict cases, we are all responsible to face the challenges and measures of a human being especially a good leader of the Board of Trustees.
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
The board somehow need to ease the tensions, and provide some way out. Also before the WMF or the community can set up something to keep the lessons learnt and improve the community, the board have take care part of these roles.
Samuel Klein (Sj)
The WMF should lead by example here: being the first to trust, the first to try to understand, the last to judge someone else. It should be a source of stability and reliability, through dramatic times. And it should learn from generations of contributors about the different modes of debate, conflict, and resolution -- helping those engaged in any particular conflict see their struggle in a broader light. The Board can help make this a priority for the WMF, and can serve directly as ambassadors to community groups that are having trouble; I think this is still necessary today, when we have few such ambassadors. But over the next 5 years, I think this direct-action aspect of Board membership should shift to a broader group including staff and community liaisons.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
no response yet.
Tom Morton (ErrantX)
no response yet.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I think this should be handled by all the participants. Trust isn't fixed with the board just saying a few magic words. :) It takes work, time and good will from all involved. I do think it is achievable, and I wish to work to make it possible.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
I agree with this assessment. In fact, I would say that we probably have a situation of a "mutual-siege mentality". It feels like some (not all) of the editing community think the WMF is trying to undermine their work and they have to hold strong against it, and some in the WMF feel the same way in reverse. It's possible this metaphor also extends to the Chapters too. Each group thinks that it is the one with the least power and is the victim of sustained attack from the other(s).


I do agree that this is an issue that needs to be addressed by the board - but it cannot be handled by the WMF Board of Trustees alone. They are, after all, only one entity within this movement and with very specific power - they are not all-powerful and are not the "boss" of the whole Movement. Where I think the Board can make a difference is in ensuring that the WMF treats the current editors as an asset rather than a liability in its strategic focus to increase total editor numbers. I look at projects like the Page Curation feature as a very good example of this approach - this software was built in close consultation with the relevant section of the community in order to make their tasks easier and more efficient. The end result is happier editors who have more time and goodwill to newbies. Compare this to many of the Global Education programs run by the WMF centrally, which treated the existing community as something best avoided and tried to directly recruit new editors from university independently of the local or online capacity to support them. In summary, I think the Board has the remit to instruct the WMF, when possible, to develop tools that help build the capacity of the individuals and groups within the movement, rather than for the WMF to try to attain its strategic goals directly.
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
I agree that the Wikimedia movement has seen a significant deterioration of trust and understanding between movement entities, and the WMF board needs to both a) accept their role in this, and b) be active in resolving these issues.

At the core, I believe, is that one movement entity (the WMF) is holding all the power (and has been collecting more power in recent years), and not sufficiently attempted to empower and support the other entities. Three main power struggles have been over the money, the 'brand', and the software.

The Funds Dissemination Committee is a step in the right direction regarding funding of affiliates. However the FDC alone won't deliver fairness. We need more community participation in the evaluation of the non-core activities of WMF, and undertake the process of establishing core funding for all affiliates. IMO, the Grants team needs to be expanded in order to become more supportive.

I believe trademark management is the next 'power' problem to be solved, with transparency and community involvement in the management of trademarks, where WMF acts as custodian, and only overruling the community when they asking for the impossible/illegal, or if the community is acting undeniably against the values and mission of the WMF.

The WMF’s leading role in MediaWiki software development and deployment has also been a power problem at times. It appears when a) the WMF devote precious development resources to features the community doesnt want (or the community doesnt understand), or b) the WMF deploy a new feature that the community doesn't like or want, or c) the WMF refuses to configure a project in line with community consensus. This power problem is one the trustees need to continue monitoring, as it should diminish with more community involvement in determining WMF non-core funding, and as large software development projects led by other affiliates are completed (such as Wikidata) thereby improving the diversity of the software ecosystem.


Child protection and the WMF[edit]

As a member of the Oversight team on the English Wikipedia, and as someone who has dealt with child protection cases on enwp, I have concerns regarding how child protection and reporting of serious issues such as child pornography are currently handled by the WMF. I am concerned about the lack of clear directives from the WMF on how such matters should be dealt with across the board and, as a volunteer, I'm concerned about the legal ramifications of volunteers handling such material. As I see it, we have no visible policies as to how the WMF handles stuff like this. I believe we really should have a formal central point of contact at the WMF for such matters, but I'd like to know more about the candidates' position on these matters - Alison 00:18, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
From what I have seen, this has been a greater issue in Commons, rather than Wikpedia and yes, this is one area where the Foundation needs to bite the bullet and set forth clearer guidelines, consensus or no consensus. This was made clear when the Foundation unilaterally had to pull thousands of photos from Commons because of U.S. legal issues.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
WMF and its servers are under the US jurisdiction, which means that nothing illegal under the US (Florida and California) laws should be kept on Wikimedia projects. Illegal materials should be strictly prohibited, as they've been handled generally well up to the moment. Both WMF and community should care about and cooperate in relation to it.

If your question implies further actions toward censoring the content of Wikimedia projects, I am against it. It is not just questionable in the sense of the diversity of cultural norms all of the world, but analysis proved that the censoring tools on Wikimedia projects could be used by oppressive regimes to censor access to various other information, thus making it very harmful.

Finally, everybody is able to create relatively up to date fork of Wikimedia projects, which wouldn't consist any material which is not according to ideological standards of some group of people. Would it be about censoring access to the criticism of Juche or to sexually explicit materials, nobody would care.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
Liam's right that a responsible trustee would ask our legal team for advice about this issue, and that's also where I'd look for community help. I suspect that you know more than I do about how these specific cases are handled day-to-day on the wiki; my understanding is simply to contact legal-reports@wikimedia.org as a point of contact. I'd say that legal and community advocacy can and should help draw up guidelines, working with the oversighters, about what to do in these cases; these should be cross-project and widely translated. In general, I think the model of removing illegal content from our projects, blocking the offending user if needed, and contacting the authorities if required makes sense and (if documented) is relatively scalable. I also think that we must understand our limits, and that these should also be documented. As far as a Board-level take on this: the legal team has grown quite a bit in the last few years, which I support if some section of that team is devoted on a day to day basis to community, cross-project support, following a model of trying to understand and document the issues, and working with volunteers to understand what guidelines are needed to help protect our content, our volunteers, and the WMF.
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
Policy regarding the rights of the child is not yet set to the WMF and this obligations remain to all of us, and if we talk about principles of the wikimedia Foundation and as a family of WMF together we can find a solutions, Its my believes that in future we can determine straight to this degradation but how,? it will determine with the comment posted to that matter. The problem of the rights of the child on pornography is a very big challenge, especially in developing countries, particularly in Africa. I think in European countries the problem is not as you can compare with other continents like Africa. Perhaps if we seriously intending to fight against the violations we can work together to find solution that we can maintain order as one Community, as well us we have very competent lawyers our movements will end this problems whether to be handled under the bot policy may be this can be helpful. As I pointed out about mandate of the WMF regarding the determination of the Board of Trustees as coated here below;
  • Determining goals, long-term plans and high level of WMF and its projects
  • Selecting the of the WMF, who oversees its day-to-day operations, and evaluating his or her performance
  • Ensuring the sustainability of the organization by defining a number of independent revenue sources
  • Communicating about the direction and the activities of the WMF to the community
  • Providing oversight to with regard to accounting, budgeting, and programs
  • Maintaining legal and ethical integrity
  • Recruiting and orienting new
  • Articulating the mission of the WMF in public
It is my hope that together we will work to protect the rights of the child of this world in pornography.
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
I'm far from being a parent, at least now, I have to confess I am not familiar with the issue. But I do think such work need a WMF coordination, especially on communication with different parties. Again I think this is really a week spot of WMF in many cases, I do think we really need a dedicate staff as a point of contact for the whole community.
Samuel Klein (Sj)
A central point of contact is needed here. The WMF should have a process for setting temporary policy where none exists, and approving policy set by communities where it does exist. There should also be a process for addressing concerns of Oversight and other functionary groups about these serious problems - ones with legal ramifications for whoever handles them - on short notice. Other large-scale networks that handle community-produced content, from forums to media-hosting sites, have small staff groups dedicated entirely to this; on top of any community moderation. We tend to be one of the best sites around when it comes to managing such processes within the community, but the point of legal pain is precisely one that the WMF was created to handle. I believe the current LCA team is an excellent start at addressing these issues.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
Given the location of the servers and the Foundation, US legislation applies. That's the simple part. The not-so simple part is that opinions differ, sometimes greatly--in fact, I was going through some old Meta RfCs and found one from a few years ago (still open!) where the discussion was waged, of what counts as (child) porn and what doesn't. The en:Virgin Killer case (the article is still protected) indicates that this isn't just a Commons matter, of course--private information goes around on all wikis, and child pornography is potentially a problem on all wikis as well.

Having said that (which isn't very exciting), I do think that there ought to be some clear guidelines. In general I trust the judgment of my fellow administrators and I have not yet seen any reason to doubt the judgment of the oversighters on the en.wiki (a pretty select company and, Alison, ❤, you're the prettiest of them all), but child porn is just not a thing where we should get it wrong. As we do with biographies of living people, we should err on the side of caution, and yes of course we shouldn't censor but judging something to be illegal is not the same as censoring it on moral grounds.

Having said all that, I haven't walked in your shoes and you know what, I'm glad I haven't--thinking about what you might have removed makes me a bit queasy already, since I got three sleeping babies upstairs and once you have that, things change. I don't know how fast the response is from the legal folks; I think that you should be able to ping someone or call someone and get an immediate answer if you're not sure yourself. I think volunteers (while we're still a volunteer organization) who are given such great responsibilities should indeed have clear directives to follow, and a human being (with a suit, a law degree, and a mandate from the Foundation) to speak to if necessary. And thanks for the work that you've done, Alison: I couldn't have done it.

Tom Morton (ErrantX)
Well, given my background (as a computer forensics investigator) this is an important issue to me. The community seems to be coping with child pornography problems; but certainly this is something the Foundation should support with staff time. Judging exactly what constitutes child pornography is often not easy - it can be subjective, and needs experienced support. But the bottom line is that Commons is not a major host of, or target for, child porn, and so this issue is not as concerning to me as the next.. Child protection is a critical consideration for me. As a large online community, which does allow private contact, and which often attracts younger members, we have a number of risk vectors. Both for grooming children, or simply bullying them! The Foundation definitely needs to take up the slack here, with dedicated and experienced staff. We need to promote a "safe" contact address for children feeling threatened, and we need to promote good practices (such as not revealing personal details) more widely. I often see admins going the extra mile to help youngsters who join our community, some of whom get genuinely angry when their personal information is deleted from their page, and this is fantastic to see. But we need to make sure even more effort is spent on these issues, and that means staff time!
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I agree. We need a scalable model to protect volunteers who handle these delicate situations. At least clear guidelines for all projects. Contacting the local authorities always seems the most appropiate course of action, but volunteers could do with more support on the wiki side in those stressful situations.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
This sounds like a perfect case for the use of Wikilegal. In any area, not just the one you identify, if it is the case that a section of the community has a genuine need for legal advice in order to perform their activities (and can demonstrate a consensus that the advice is wanted) then the WMF Legal and Community Advocacy team is where you should go. As this is a legal matter and one that deals with several sensitive topics (privacy, children, illegal content, legal accountability of volunteers) it would be foolish of me to give any specific advice in your specific case. Moreover, the Board would not make any decisions in such areas without itself asking the Legal team's recommendation. Much more pertinent is the issue at hand is whether the community feels as if the WMF legal team has "crossed the i's and dotted the t's" in the areas that are important to our activities. Does the community know this team exists? Does the community feel WMF Legal responsive to its needs? If the answers to these questions are "no" then it is something the Board can ask the relevant staff to address.
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
As someone who has also been a very active member of the Oversight team on the English Wikipedia, I share Alison’s concerns with how child protection and reporting of serious issues such as child pornography are currently handled by the WMF. There are staff at WMF who have the unfortunate task of managing these issues, and they have my respect. There is insufficient documentation about processes and scale of the WMF involvement in addressing these issues, and insufficient protection for the volunteers who do the vast majority of the work.

Firstly, I would like WMF to produce an annual 'Transparency report', including number of requests from and to the governments of the world. I am looking forward to the 'Transparency report' session by Andy Yee (Policy Analyst at Google Inc.) at the upcoming Wikimania. This will increase awareness within the community and the general public of the problems we face in running projects that 'anyone can edit'.

Specifically addressing child protection, I believe the WMF should develop Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) compliance in MediaWiki, either as an extension or behind a configuration variable. If my memory serves me correctly, WMF projects are not legally required to comply with COPPA due to our non-commercial nature, however we do not use the 'non-commercial' loophole when it comes to 'non-free images' (because we have downstream re-users that are commercial), and we shouldn't use 'non-commercial' to avoid taking appropriate steps to reduce the number of children harming themselves by releasing inappropriate information on their userpage. There are many ways that COPPA compliance can be achieved, ranging from not allowing people under 13 to edit at all, to not allowing contributors to place personally identifying material on their userpage until they assert that they are 13 years old or older. A user-friendly user-page-creation wizard could provide 99% of COPPA compliance, reducing our risks significantly, without any permission model changes. We should look at a range of options, and allow Wikimedia projects to choose different approaches according to their capacity to manage the new users and their risk profile, similar to how we allow projects to define their own non-free compliance strategy. A valid option for some projects may be 'status quo', where the community manually patrol looking for new user pages created by self-disclosed children who are sharing way too much personal data.

Regarding the general principle of allow children to participate, I know of some very brilliant and very young people, and have met their parents (in person), and their lives are better from having been involved in Wikimedia. The 'good ones' are typically very sensible about their privacy online; the same advanced intelligence that means they can be useful contributors to Wikimedia projects helps them understand that they need to keep their identity private on public pages that are redistributed around the world.


Anonymous editing of Wikipedia biographies[edit]

Given the recent Qworty incident on the English Wikipedia, and prior cases of anonymous defamatory editing such as that performed by Johann Hari, do you personally consider real-name registration rather than anonymous editing, flagged revisions, or some combination of both (e.g. biography reviewers being required to identify to the foundation), a desirable approach to prevent vandalism, bias and anonymous defamation in Wikipedia biographies of marginally notable people? Andreas JN466 01:29, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
I am not a fan of IP editing, period. I do not believe we need to go as far as divulging real names, but having an account, linked to an email address would take care of most of the issues related to the Qworty case. That the articles in this case were biographies is not really the crux of the issue (although it makes it more urgent), the main problem is that more problems are created by completely anonymous editing than any gain. I do not believe that requiring an account takes away from "anyone can edit" as anyone can have an account in two minutes.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
Anonymity is one of the basic freedoms on Internet and we should keep it as is, as well as to defend the right of people to stay anonymous not only on Wikimedia projects. Incidents like Qworty's one are several orders of magnitude less relevant than freedom of anonymous contribution to the most relevant repository of knowledge in the human history.
Without wasting time on introduction of our own virtual police, the only way to deal with such incidents is like we deal with them already. Life is sometimes stressful and it is better get used to it sooner than later.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
I don't think real-name registration is the way to go; how in the world would we scale such a thing across all 280 languages, even if it was philosophically desirable (which I don't think it is)? Flagged revisions, maybe. As I said in a previous answer, I think in our next ten years we'll need to work on developing more innovative quality tools for both readers and editors, not just for BLPs but for all articles.

I do worry about how we will manage the cultural role of Wikipedia. I was talking to a person at an event the other day about (the English) Wikipedia. He said that he was a musician and had tried to submit an article about himself a couple of times, but it had gotten deleted. I explained why, and asked "do you have a personal website?" "No", he said. I was a little stunned. I don't think we currently have the tools or enough (calm and committed!) editors and educators to work with a world where the first thing people think about doing to promote themselves is putting up a Wikipedia article. So, what to do? I think a combination of many approaches: recruiting and training many more editors; community education, as Tom and Liam point out (aka enforcing our own BLP policies); improving the new editor experience (even when they get burned for submitting an article they shouldn't); and more quality tools, including perhaps pending changes or variations on it. We are working towards all of these things; they all take time, and none are panaceas.
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
This question came in an inappropriate time, as a candidate I must clearly state my position on the Vandalism that was caused by misunderstanding of readers, users and or editors, and this is where I build the argument that it should be the users of the Wikimedia and its projects to use their real names from their registration of being users. Respect, dignity, image, value and uncertainty Wikipedia lost because people who do not realize themselves before the community. Being a user of Wikimedia is a matter of honor now why to hide your name, Seems you like to vandalize the reputation of WMF. This character is contributing hugely sabotage of Wikimedia image before the Community. Imagine if it could have you that working on the documents paged by Anonymous, definitely you’ll be worried. Certainly this is not fair, we must strengthen the respect for Wipiedia for the local community, academics, doctors, politicians, students and even governments as a very potential source, it is necessary to establish and strengthen the foundations of all WMF projects. As a candidate am contrary against anonymous and that’s why from my beginning I registered with Francis Kaswahili as it is. The last point is a matter of responsibility and accountability of all of us, standup together to built reputable community of Wikimedia Foundation.
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
No, no, no, Anonymous editing is crucial for our sucess, especially in the case of English Wikipedia, we should not secrefised that. I think the current BLP policy is pretty enough, the matter should be how we better implementing the policy.
Samuel Klein (Sj)
This is something I think about often. It is certainly a question for the community, not for the board. But anonymity is a key freedom of our projects, and we should support it even as we also support ways to visualize how well-vetted and neutral an article is. I don't think requiring registration is a good idea. On the other hand, I think there are a few related things we definitely should consider:
  • Support easier ways for editors to link their contribution to real identities -- currently we make that difficult even for those who want a one-click way to import an identity from elsewhere.
  • Build a better quarantine and sandboxing system so that we can support "grey-area" contributions and let them develop without immediately either approving or deleting them. Flagged revisions is a first attempt at this for vandalism and spam; something more advanced will be needed as well, for ongoing contributions that need some sort of verification.
  • Explore ways to treat BLPs and living-organization articles differently: they are the target of such a different class of socking and spam and self-promotion, they deserve to be treated differently, including with different policies and automated tools.
  • Explore better ways to show how trusted a version of an article is, such as: when the last edit was made, how many different major contributors an article has, whether an article has unreviewed flagged revs, how active the talk page is.
Recommendations along these lines from the curating community would certainly be considered by developers, both volunteer and staff. If a community recommendation has a difficult time being implemented, that might be something to discuss on a global forum, with Board engagement.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
Well, thanks a lot for that question, Andreas, since it's a matter that's been bothering me for a while, because of my own involvement in it. I'll try to cut a long story short. (Andreas, you know that the long story is much longer then my already long answer.)

When the s**t came down on the Amanda Filipacchi article on the English Wikipedia, after her NYT article about categorization (and, for the record, I agree with her broadly in regards to the "ghettoization" of female novelists, though not with all her points), I became one of the editors of that article and supported Qworty's edits--perhaps not every single one of them, but broadly speaking I did support them. I have edited thousands of BLPs and hundreds of articles on living writers (literature is my profession, though as a medievalist I prefer my authors long dead and gone), and in general I am as strict as Qworty was: my concern is that too many of those articles are like resumes (and I knew Qworty, vaguely, as the kind of editor who edited in the same way--at least on articles of writers he hated). That is, they typically contain every scrap a person ever wrote and an online link to them; in many cases, it's nothing but that, with some praise and some namedropping by way of article text, followed by...well, a resume. So, I didn't disagree with Qworty's edits and supported them, on the talk pages as well.

Now, when the s**t comes down it comes from all sides, and there was good reason to believe Qworty was duking it out with some people who were involved with Filipacchi--an agent, likely, or business partner, and probably a few socks. There was talk of "revenge editing" given something Qworty had supposedly said on his own talk page, and I looked at his comments too late--a day, maybe two days, after the matter exploded in the edit history and on the talk page. So, I was blissfully unaware that there was something to the charge of "revenge editing" and in hindsight I wish I had looked into it sooner--but at least initially those charges came from editors with, for one reason or another, little credibility: new (single-purpose) accounts, possible socks, etc. Once I saw what Qworty was really up to, I found myself in the awkward position of agreeing with (some of) his edits while being repulsed by the motivation; this was just a few days before the Salon article came out, identifying Qworty as someone bent on revenge for various perceived slights and a lot of professional jealousy. I can't tell you how upset I am still with myself for not investigating sooner.

What to do about it? People like me (for better or for worse, some people listen to me, and I am an admin, after all) should look more carefully into matters, that's clear. Of course, as it turned out he'd been doing this for years. Why wasn't he blocked after an earlier sock puppet investigation? I don't know; maybe there was an assumption of good faith, a basic tenet of our interaction with other editors. If he had been forced to edit under his real name, alarm bells might have gone off sooner: Amazon has made that an option after their own scandal (and it's possible that Qworty's Amazon books are plugged by him or his friends...), of friends and enemies reviewing books, socking and meating along the way.

At the same time, anonymous editing is our strength; there's no denying it, and we need a constant influx of new editors. So that's probably not the way to go. There is indeed a proposal to let only "real name" editors work on BLPs; I don't know if that's technically feasible, but even that would require significant administrative changes on the level of the Foundation: the person I emailed my driver's license in order to participate in these elections probably wouldn't want to get a thousand emails per day, and even those would have to be taken at good faith at some point.

Nor do I believe in flagged revisions at this point: the flagged revision thing was shot down on the English Wikipedia, re-proposed, and I think the RfC is still ongoing. Moreover, those revisions are approved by established editors...editors like Qworty; and his edits would have been automatically accepted. So I don't believe that would solve the problem as a whole, though it might catch some abuse.

Semi-protecting BLPs might have a same effect--it might catch some abuse, but it would shy away a lot of potential contributors, not to mention the thousands of good-faith IP editors. Also, it's not just the "marginally notable"--I worked on the Filipacchi article, and she is not marginally notable (though Qworty and a few others said so). So you're talking about a lot of articles--tens of thousands, I'd say.

I'm going on at such length to say that I have good reason to say "I don't know", at least not right now. I do believe it is an issue that at some point (maybe soon) will have to be taken up by the Board since our reputation is at stake. For those outside the US: let me tell you, our reputation has taken a blow, and my friends and colleagues ask me about it as well, and all I can say is, somewhat embarrassed, yes, that can happen. For now, greater vigilance is the only solution I have, and it's not much of a solution--unless we want to take away one of our strengths, anonymous editing. I'm sorry, Andreas et al, I wish I had something better to offer. I wish we had found out before Wikipediocracy had. Perhaps we could have, even with our existing, faulty system. I know that I, for one, will be more vigilant, and I think I'm not the only one--but that's not a guarantee that we'll improve. I will tell you, though, that I think this is a most serious issue, and you have my word that I will make it one, if it isn't one already at the board level.

Tom Morton (ErrantX)
This isn't really a board level question, it's very much something the community needs to work on resolving. But to discuss some of the issues....

I did a lot of BLP work on English Wikipedia back in the day, and am an active OTRS respondent, so I do see the nitty gritty of these issues day to day. We are facing a problem. Does real-name registration fix this? Probably not; it's heavy on administration and easily circumvented. I'd prefer a more proactive approach, based on flagged revisions. But more than anything I'd like to see Wikipedians educated about the concept of biographies and the real life impact of their words.

We are often not sensitive enough when working on biographies; I've seen talk page comments, intended in no offensive way, which deeply upset the subject. I've seen the stress caused by editors trying to keep details in articles that upset the subject (and the often poor job we do of explaining why it is there). We need to encourage people to see the wider impact of Wikipedia on the world, and hopefully drive a shared community responsibility to get it right, and keep it right!
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
This should be a project-by-project decision. Should local projects wish to go for it, the WMF technical people should assist with the tools to allow it. But I wouldn't want the Board to impose it, or want any particular decision imposed on any community against local project consensus (unless they are doing something clearly harmful to the project or the mission, which I acknowledge could happen). If my home wiki decided to go for it, I would change my username.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
No, I do not believe that a "real-name editing only" policy (on biographies or more broadly) would be a desirable policy change as it would negatively affect a lot of other things without necessarily fixing the problem you identify. Flagged Revisions (a.k.a. Pending Changes on en.wp) is a system that has much promise for helping alleviate problems in this area. I suspect that WikiData might be able to help here (especially for smaller language editions' biographies) in maintaining factual information (helping to avoid things like Death Anomalies). Obviously the community at-large needs to be more aware of the sensitivities around biographies, but also many other areas where we are currently rather blasé. As an Australian I am particularly aware that we do not currently have a nuanced understanding of Indigenous cultural rights, moral rights - preferring to think of things as merely in, or out, of copyright. 9/10ths of the issue in addressing these areas is ensuring the community is aware of best-practices and have procedural and technical tools to deal with problems when they arise.
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
I have talked at length about this problem at User:John_Vandenberg/WMF_BoT_candidature_notes#Quality. I think focusing on the anonymous nature of Qworty would be a grave mistake. I know of cases where contributors were using their real-identity when behaving similar to Qworty, and so do you. I also know many very good anonymous contributors to BLPs, and I think you'll agree with me there too. We also already have the problem of contributors providing fake real-identities.

The critical part of this question is the very large set of ‘marginally notable people’, which is where the problem lies. We need better case/complaint management tools. We need well thought out and carefully implemented pilots of flagged revisions/pending changes with community support in order to determine how these tools can best assist the community.

That said, I do see a gradual and organic shift in our community towards using real identities, and I believe the WMF should support this, but not force that onto the projects.


Foundation wiki coup and multilingual communication[edit]

What do you think of the recent foundation: wiki coup which left the wiki without management? [1] If you're a current board member, did the board discuss it and why didn't you say anything? What should the board do to e.g. update wmf:Wikimedia:Welcome and ensure a multilingual communication from the WMF, which used to happen on that wiki and is now impossible? Nemo 07:07, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
Please see my answer to the question that follows. It is very similar.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
I'm not a current Board member, but I suspect the Board wasn't involved in this -- contrary to popular assumption, they are usually not consulted on day-to-day or management issues. That said... yes, of course I agree it was poorly done and probably a poor decision; but I think Gayle has acknowledged that quite thoroughly and said that if anyone needs admin rights for a special project they can get them. I'm not sure what more needs to be said on the matter. Mistake made, mistake acknowledged, mistake noted for the future... let's move on. As for the welcome page... I'm not sure exactly what you mean; I thought all the translation happened on Meta anyway, even for WMF wiki pages? If not, then it certainly could be. And yes, of course the WMF site should be widely multilingual, like Commons or any of our other cross-language sites.
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
Although this question is intended to current board members candidates, but I could pass my comments due to my knowledge and expertise in the leading organizations in my country, I think it is a time to review the composition of the Board of Trustees in particular the number of members who have the right to be elected:
  • The number of members is not enough to compare with the Foundation, speaks about millions of users worldwide.
  • For example as president of a country can have 25 ministers who work for the government of his country one does wikimedia Foundation that oversees the five continents have a board of ten people? No, it is necessary to make changes.
  • I think Jimmy Wales as a founder of Wikipedia and Wikimedia he is titled for life membership to the Board instead of being appointed annually this is not fair, the Statutes must be reviewed for that specific state, and therefore every continent to be presented by one board member, can you imagine with unknown reason the Wikmedia Foundation has only 16th strong chapters and if you ask a reason why you’ll be told of insufficient of supporting organizations which can be arranged with complete training within a six months. If we do this seriously it will help to move up, but don’t forget about responsibility and accountability, that so.
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
Again, this is a communication failure, at least I think. Besides a general point of contact, we need discussion before taking these rather big decisions. And also we need a place to keep this lessons, among the staff member and communities as well.
Samuel Klein (Sj)
This was a communication failure. I don't think that this was a 'coup' as you put it, and it did not leave the wiki without management: most of the logged admin actions on that wiki over the past 2 years have been made by staff admins, not by the other admins there.

You may guess what my own views are on this specific decision and how it was conveyed. However one of the greatest challenges for community members of being on the Board, is giving the staff complete leeway to make decisions, including making and resolving their own mistakes. While this conflict seems like an enormous deal today in the heat of the moment, it did not seem worth crossing that line to help bring it to a better resolution. [Though I did comment briefly on the WMF wiki to the editors who were involved, and might have been offended.]

The Welcome page you mention was updated weeks ago to clarify the change in adminship standards - and any of the 600 editors on that wiki could do so. And the multilingual editing and communication on that wiki has never required an admin flag, and will continue as it has in the past -- most of the editors on that wiki are involved in translation or messaging in some capacity.

Finally, one of the useful suggestions that came out of this teapot-tempest was that many of the functions of the wmfwiki could be moved to meta: including multilingual communications. This could then be imported back to the wmfwiki by non-translators -- and would have the added benefit of talkpages for the relevant pages that anyone could comment on, in their own language.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
no response yet.
Tom Morton (ErrantX)
no response yet.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
Samuel said it best: tempest in a teapot.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
I think it is hyperbole to call this controversy a "coup". I agree that this change was made in a very very unfortunate way, and I do not personally agree with the specific policy change. However, I do believe that if the process had been managed carefully this change did not have to be controversial. There were valid reasons underneath the change but this did not necessarily have to be the eventual outcome and this certainly is not the way that whichever outcome should have been arrived at. This question about multilingual communication is related to your (Nemo) other question below - about wiki-proliferation. I do not personally believe I could give the "best solution", and nor do I think that it is the Board's role to make specific technical/procedure requests. But, it IS the board's role to instruct the WMF to investigate technical and procedural ways to ensure that the community interested in meta-issues (this includes the Chapters, the WMF, the FDC etc., not just things on Meta-Wiki) have easy access to the information and methods of engaging with the issues personally. I agree that there is currently a gap - and it has grown with the latest changes - but I think we can work to reduce this gap with clear instructions from the Board that proactively bridging this gap is a priority.
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
Regarding the WMF wiki coup, it was not planned well, but the main effect is damaged relations (esp. with the desysoped volunteers) and unnecessary drama. However many affiliates have chosen to have closed or member-only wikis for their organisation, and I think that the WMF moving towards a slightly less open wiki for their main web presence is a choice that doesn't require Board of Trustee involvement. The WMF wiki is more 'open' than many affiliates. This change of direction was poorly communicated, and desysopping volunteers on a Friday afternoon is very odd.

Regarding multilingualism on meta-wiki and the WMF-wiki, translation is now being done on the meta-wiki, and the translation software is very cool. After the 'coup', messages are being syncronised from meta-wiki to the wmf wiki by volunteers. (e.g.[2][3]) We should be increasing the participation and coordination of translators on meta-wiki, and streamlining the syncronisation process.

I suspect there are many other functions of WMF-wiki that are continuing to operate properly after the 'coup'.

Are there functions of WMF-wiki that have deteriorated after the 'coup'?

I was able to quickly find one gnoming task on the WMF-wiki that need advanced tools, and hasnt been done, but I don't know if these tasks were done efficiently by volunteers in the past. Time will tell if the WMF staff will effectively administrate their wiki. If not, they may decide they need to change course.


Dozens WMF private wikis and "no place to work together"[edit]

The WMF has about 20 distinct private wikis plus a number of other internal private discussion venues and resources including mailing lists and Google Docs. However, it refuses to include volunteers in any of them and is closing Internal-l and internal wiki, a policy summarised as "no place to work together" (between WMF staff and volunteers including chapter members).[4] Do you think the WMF needs this seclusion and fragmentation, and what can the board do about it? --Nemo 07:19, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
Like it or not, there needs to be a restructuring of communications channels in the Wikimedia movement. What we have now is a hodge-podge of channels, some open, some not, each created separately with no overall rationale of what kinds of communications we need, among whom and open to whom. Wikimedia is no longer the fledgeling organization it once was, and whether we want completely open communication or not, it simply isnt feasible among thousands and thousands of people. Think of it as democracy. When the idea was created in ancient Greece, the city was small enough to gather all the eligible men (and even then people were left out) had a big meeting and voted on the issues. When you have thousands to millions, you cannot do this and so comes the need for representatives. In the case of the Foundation, there is another aspect. It is a legal entity subject to the laws of the US, no matter what community consensus may be on something. In other words, there is a need for official channels for official legal communication from the Foundation (and the Board), there is need for private and relatively private communication (think negotiating a cooperation with a museum) and there is the need to have as-open-as-possible communication within the community. The two questions I am answering here, come from the same issue... a lack of an organized, cohesive communications policy.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
I think most of those seemed like a good idea at the time... but we know, from lots of experience now, that a private wiki can be useful in the short-term but is usually unmaintainable in the long-term. I've only participated in a few of those, and I think the notes on the wiki page that you linked are right: most of those 20 private wikis aren't being used at all, and could be merged back into larger sites whenever someone gets around to it. I'll also correct a couple of statements: some of those wikis were created just so volunteers and staff could work together in a private setting that wasn't open to a large number of people. And, while there was a proposal to close internal-l (I think from a community member?) no one has has done so or as far as I know plans to do so until there's consensus from the internal-l community. And there's plenty of private wikis that aren't just WMF wikis: each chapter has a wiki, etc. etc.
  • So here are some ideas that we all (Board, staff & community alike) could do:
  • not create more private wikis, and do work publicly where possible and consolidated privately where not
  • make MediaWiki development of private / user-limited namespaces possible a priority. This is after all part of the problem, and is something that the industry MW user community really wants as well.
  • Ban the use of Google docs... I say this jokingly, but it is a problem: due to wikis being tough for sharing private information, it's a natural tendency to move to a mechanism that is more user-friendly for sharing spreadsheets and documents among a small group. This leads to information being fragmented. I don't think private wikis are inherently a bad thing. But I do think having organizational discussions and records split over emails and documents and wiki pages can be.
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
The Board of Trustees is the governing authority of The Foundation, this means that all Movable property and immovable which it includes staffs, members and this members divided in member by chapter or organizations or member by individually whether volunteers or whatever they’re all belongs to the board. Any kind of refusal of inclusion of any instruments of the foundation has a lack of two things of whether it’s unconstitutional or economical constraints, if that is the case two things involved:
  • The discussions, and
  • The conventions
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
I think this problem is really an issue about the attitude rather than means of communications. Again there are some great communicator within WMF, and sadly the others may not, so some central & friendly points of contact is curcial. I do think there is some works had to deal within Google Docs, Private wiki, as WMF sometimes need to meet the standard of "Commercial world". But if the things really involves community, we need to find a balance on that.
Samuel Klein (Sj)
I too really dislike the use of private wikis, and many of these should simply be made part of Meta. Even more unfortunate is the shift to using Google docs and spreadsheets - by definition a collaboration environment that we should master. We need better ways to work together, even when there are small bits of private information mixed in with the rest.

This is a problem for all of our movement: we are too fragmented, with too many private spaces - separate lists for every sort of functionary, separate lists for every new semi-private group that forms. This is also a problem for all users of wiki software, and something we should recognize as a fundamental collaboration problem, which we should make a higher technical and social priority.

I have pushed for as much Board and WMF work as possible to be carried out on Meta. This part is social change and is effective in part; we have done more work on Meta last year than in any previous year - with most of the major projects and ideas from the ED and head Counsel going through a meta review and vetting process. I also tracked down our private wikis and maintained that list with help from thehelpfulone : most of them are dead, one of the best arguments for avoiding private wikis. Their content needs to be reviewed by its former contributors and can then be archived in-place or merged to Meta (or an Internal-equivalent) as appropriate. I have made some related documents public where possible - such as the stock Chapters Agreement from 2007 (after consulting with its authors).

I think we should use a site like the internal-wiki to unify these efforts: as a space to hold a large variety of mildly private material, things that can't be made totally public and google-searchable; things such as draft agreements and announcements with a short-term quarantine; and the work of individual Committees. This is a decision the WMF and communities should make together, though the WMF can lead by being the first to define how it would use such a space, to share more of what is currently kept on the office/contractors/board-committee wikis. Having made that decision, we should work on developing whatever tools are needed to make it possible to share such a space.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
no response yet.
Tom Morton (ErrantX)
no response yet.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I've defended the use of Internal-l and its wiki to work together. Wikimedia-l has a lot of noise at times, and a lot of the signal gets lost. We do not need to create a new wiki every time a new project/initiative/committee comes into existence and requires private deliberations before publishing its results. If users could have different access depending on the tasks they are doing, it would solve a lot of problems. And increase participation on top of that, I bet. At the end of the day, everything should be on Meta, but having one working place as opposed to twenty would help. And that's without going into the infinite mailing lists which exist... I'm not sure how to solve that, but it's something we should all certainly consider how to best approach to reduce the fragmentation you speak of.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
The proliferation of Wikis is something that has frustrated me for AGES. It should not be necessary to create a whole new Wiki (and all the maintenance that entails) simply because there is a new sub-group with a need for a private space. Most of the places listed on "Private wikis" are quite small groups with a narrow task. There is also "outreach wiki" which, in my opinion, should not have been created separately from Meta in the first place. I would like to see the Board direct the WMF to invest methods to ensure that the community, discussions and documentation are kept as up to date and cohesive as possible. Simply by having everyone "in the same room" should go a long way to reducing feelings of isolation or non-inclusiveness (it should also save time in having to maintain different wiki's settings/templates etc.). I am not a coder, and it is not the Board's role to decide how such a direction is best undertaken, but my suggestion would be this:
  • Complete the Single User Login and Universal userpage/watchlist/notifications systems that have been proposed for so long. This removes duplication and means a Wikimedian does not have to set up a different presence on each project.
  • Create more nuanced privacy settings that allow specific sections (pages/namespaces/categories??) to be viewed by users with certain user-rights. This will allow different Wikis to be merged into Meta without breaching each one's legitimate need for privacy.
These are just ideas, not definitely the best solution, but I do agree that the Board should address the fragmentation of community documentation and working-spaces.
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
I would prefer that WMF staff participated in public wikis, however that isnt always appropriate. I don’t think the board should be interferring with the WMF using private wikis for activities when the other options are Google Docs or MS Word docs. i.e. The board should be happy that the WMF uses free software over non-free software for internal operational discussion and document collaboration. Communication/collaboration problems between WMF and the community are a symptom. The root problem is trust and understanding problems. In my experience, resolving communication problems before the underlying problems can only be partially achieved by team building exercises, and even that is infeasible for a loosely knit and geographically dispersed community like Wikimedia. In our movement, we need to tackle the root problems. See my answer to question 2.5 (above) by user:Schiste.


What will you leave to the WMF after being in the board?[edit]

If you're elected, what is the WMF/board going to gain that will survive your (last) term? --Nemo 07:35, 26 May 2013 (UTC) P.s.: I asked the two specific questions above because someone had to, but IMHO this is the question. "What imprint" perhaps is the word, feel free to correct my English.

Leigh Ann Thelmadatter (Thelmadatter)
With any luck, Id like to stress the importance of Wikipedia/Wikimedia as "academic," meaning that in the broadest sense of the world. You may notice that many of the candidates here are well-established participants in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM), the most successful "program" in the movement, and perhaps even more true to Wikipedia's origin than the encyclopedia! Perhaps because of the fact we have been jumped upon by educational/academic institutions and/or a desire to avoid elitism, we have not seriouly considered what we do to have educational or academic value. However, the parallels between Wikimedia and educational/academic institutions are more than fleeting. In addition, we need to attract people who have specialized knowledge in areas we are weak in. It is important for us and for academia to see the two organizations as complimentary, not competing much the way GLAM has been successfull with cultural organizations.
Milos Rancic (Millosh)
no response yet.
Phoebe Ayers (Phoebe)
Speaking from experience... it's dangerous to make promises about what you'll get done in a term, since inevitably things arise that you hadn't thought of, and it is by definition impossible to do things alone on the Board: all ten people work towards consensus. That said, here's what I hope I could get done during another term that would survive:
  • a better and smoother process for planning and approving annual and long term strategy, especially exploring ways to make it easier on WMF staff and make annual/long-term planning more iterative and open
  • better communication between the board & the communit(ies), including making it easier for the board to conduct hard discussions publicly and for the community to propose resolutions
  • a plan for an endowment (or a plan for a plan, at the very least!)
  • stronger ties between Wikimedia and the library/archives community -- this is work that I'll do regardless of whether I'm on the Board, but being on the Board means that I'll have much greater reach and visibility to discuss the issue in both library settings and within Wikimedia.
Of course there's lots of other things that I want to see happen in the short term (sister project support! many more user groups! a great Wikimania committee!) but the above are the core issues that I'd try to focus on.
Francis Kaswahili Kaguna (Francis Kaswahili)
I promise if elected to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees at the ending of my tenure I will leave Wikimedia community with applauded of:
  • reputation against Wikimedia and its projects in the eyes of society at any level,
  • highly cooperation, equality and fairly between the continents,
  • Cooperation between Creators and users of creative work,
  • Based on the best growth of increasing revenue of Wikimedia Foundation
  • Motivation to use Wikipedia pages and other projects,
  • Respect for my continent of Africa to lead with integrity,
  • Cooperation with other international organizations.
  • Good Governance
Jeromy-Yu Chan (Yuyu)
I hope I can change WMF a bit, just a little bit friendlier towards the community, and more respect the local lesson & wisdom, not just from papers, from real talking & communications.
Samuel Klein (Sj)
I will build consensus around a roadmap for long-term investing and endowment this year, by the end of my time on the Audit Committee this year.

If I am on the Board I will move to have such a plan adopted.

I hope to leave an ethic of being a source of reliability and stability, avoiding changes that disrupt communities, and making any that might be disruptive as gradually and collaboratively as possible. As we welcome our new ED, I hope to preserve the spirit of public discussion around decision-making that Sue has promoted in her time at the Foundation.

Most importantly, I will also be actively involved with the strategic planning process that will replace the current five-year plan. I hope to leave behind a commitment to organizing our priorities and strategy as part of a movement-wide map. The process should be supported each year by the WMF, but owned by the movement. WMF-specific strategy - like that of other movement groups and communities - is part of that larger map. This one must be truly multilingual, as planning requires sharing complex thoughts and dreams: we will require better tools for cross-language discussion. I have written more about this here.
Michel Aaij (Drmies)
no response yet.
Tom Morton (ErrantX)
I think the board will gain new insight into the importance of chapters and affiliates. I'd like my term to result in a leaner and more responsive foundation, with deeper technical investment and closer links to the community.

In a broader sense I want to foster community input into the Foundation's strategy - by encouraging interest in their activities and continuing the open up communication channels. I'd like to end the term with the Foundation and community holding a unique long term strategy for the Wikimedia movement, with objectives broken down and distributed between stakeholders.

More than anything I'd like to see, during my term, a new model for affiliate organisations, well documented and supported by Foundation staff. I'd love to see multiple thematic organisations and many new geographical chapters and new collaborations between all of these groups, as part of the initiative.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I view a Board as a team. It can only reach goals if all work hard together to achieve them. Otherwise, it gets nowhere. I would like for us to have an outstanding strategic plan for the next period, to have a good transition and welcome for our new ED who is going to lead us in the next years, and to be able to continue developing our Grantsmaking structure. Basically, when we leave, I hope we leave a stronger WMF surrounded by strong affiliates. That would be ideal.
Kat Walsh (Mindspillage)
no response yet.
Liam Wyatt (Wittylama)
no response yet.
John Vandenberg (John Vandenberg)
After my term, I hope there will be
  • Board of Trustee processes that require consultation with the community when appropriate, and that demands academic rigour in the design of any polls/referendum.
  • A Board of Trustees with a revised composition that includes more experience and skills.(See example: User:John Vandenberg/WMF BoT candidature notes#Board of Trustees)
  • A more coordinated and active Board of Trustees.