[Wikimedia-l] Easier browsing of Board minutes, agendas, etc., plus summaries

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[Wikimedia-l] Easier browsing of Board minutes, agendas, etc., plus summaries

Pete Forsyth-2
As many of you are aware, it's always been difficult to navigate
information about the proceedings of the Board of Trustees: minutes,
agendas, specific resolutions, notes, and commentary are split across Meta
Wiki, WMF Wiki, various mailing lists, etc.

So, I spent the last few days building a set of navigation templates on
Meta, tidying up page names, summarizing the Board's activities in recent
years, etc. I hope you will take a look at the before[1] and after[2] pages
on Meta. (There's still work to be done -- any help appreciated! Speaking
of which, thank you to MZMcBride and Rillke for helping get a useful gadget
up and running.)

== The most useful part ==
In addition to the navigation boxes (which I hope are helpful in themselves
to Trustees, staff, and any volunteers interested in governance issues), I
think perhaps the most useful pieces are the Annual Summary pages I put
together for 2014 [3] and 2015.[4] These aim to capture every resolution
passed in each year, separated according to those focused on Board
governance and more general votes. I have also included brief narratives
about issues that have been widely discussed (e.g., the absence of any
Advisory Board-related votes in 2015, and the implications of that). I have
tried to keep this very factual, to keep it short and useful for for
anybody interested in tracking the information. It could use additional
eyes, and probably additional links (to significant email messages, etc.)

== Curious observations ==
This is the deepest dive I've taken into Board proceedings, and as such, a
few interesting points struck me:

* Yesterday, for the first time, minutes and resolutions from the two
December 2015 Board meetings were published. As far as I know there was no
announcement of this; I wonder if in these tumultuous times, this has
slipped through the cracks. As you will see, there are several significant
pieces of information in there, and three months is a long time to wait for
it.

* December 2015: For the first time, we learn that Guy Kawasaki was
appointed to the Board Governance Committee (BGC). Ordinarily, a committee
appointment might not be of great interest; however, in this case, the
appointment came during the same meeting as the one where the BGC nominated
Arnnon Geshuri and Kelly Battles. If I'm not mistaken, those were the only
two candidates presented to the full board for a formal vote, meaning that
the members of the BGC had tremendous influence in appointing those two
seats. I think it would be worthwhile to hear from the Board whether or not
Guy had a role in deciding what candidates were presented to the Board. Was
this appointment fully forward-looking, or was it recognizing work that he
had already done with the BGC? Did Guy have a role in the formal decision
of who to present to the full Board?

* December 2015: The resolution establishing the Endowment Fund, which was
announced in a press release in January, is now referred to on the WMF
Wiki. However, the text of the resolution has not been published. I suspect
this is a mere oversight and will be corrected shortly; but this is a
significant development, and it will be good to see what was actually
decided.

* December 2015: As we knew, the Board approved the FDC's recommendation.
But the text in the Minutes and in the Resolution are interesting: (a) Many
staff and volunteers have praised the FDC's diligence in identifying the
WMF's performance in relation to the Annual Plan Grant standards. It would
be interesting to hear from the Board how it takes those comments, but
there is no mention of that in the Board resolution. (b) There are,
however, comments about the FDC's take on Wikimedia Germany's request for
restricted funds for Wikidata. I'm not as familiar with this issue, but it
appears there is a bit of a power struggle going on between the FDC, WMF,
and perhaps WMDE over this issue. This is something I hope we can all hear
more about, as it seems significant to the future of an important Wikimedia
project.

* January 2016: (No big surprise) Kelly Battles has been added to the Audit
Committee, and Jaime Villagomez has been appointed Board Treasurer.

* Going way back to August 2014, I noticed an interesting detail. Many who
follow the Board are aware that Alice Wiegand, who had previously been a
Chapters-nominated Trustee, lost her bid that year for a new nomination.
Frieda Brioschi was nominated in her place, and was appointed; Frieda had
previously been a Trustee some years before. And the Board immediately
appointed Alice anyway, succeeding Ana Toni, who resigned mid-term. Now,
for the part I had not noticed before: In the same meeting where she was
herself appointed, Frieda cast the sole dissenting vote for both of the
resolutions to reappoint Alice. (One to fill out the 2014 term, and another
for a new term starting in 2015.) This strikes me as highly significant:
Frieda surely knew that the vote would be successful, and that she would
then be faced with serving alongside a colleague who she had publicly
opposed. I do not know Frieda at all, but this strikes me as an action few
people would take unless there was a strong reason. I am curious what the
rift was between the two, and especially whether it is over an issue or
philosophical difference related to the Wikimedia movement.

== Closing thoughts ==
Overall, I hope these navigation templates, and especially the annual
summaries, can facilitate various parties in navigating complex
information, and help us all develop a better understanding of how the
Board has been supporting the Wikimedia vision. Perhaps there are further
improvements that I haven't thought of -- so of course I welcome others'
contributions to how the information is presented.

Please let me know (on- or off-list) if you have any feedback for me.
Happy editing,
-Pete
[[User:Peteforsyth]]

== Footnotes ==
[1] Before the new templates:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikimedia_Foundation_board_meetings&oldid=15413988#2016
[2] Current version:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_meetings#2016
[3] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_summary,_2014
[4] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_summary_2015
[5]
https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_releases/Wikipedia_celebrates_15_years_of_free_knowledge
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Easier browsing of Board minutes, agendas, etc., plus summaries

Jimmy Wales-4
On 3/9/16 4:29 AM, Pete Forsyth wrote:
> This strikes me as highly significant:
> Frieda surely knew that the vote would be successful, and that she would
> then be faced with serving alongside a colleague who she had publicly
> opposed. I do not know Frieda at all, but this strikes me as an action few
> people would take unless there was a strong reason. I am curious what the
> rift was between the two, and especially whether it is over an issue or
> philosophical difference related to the Wikimedia movement.

I'll let them speak for themselves but would like to point out that it
is important not to immediately jump to this kind of conclusion that a
conflict between the two is the most plausible explanation at all in the
first place.  That isn't typically what it is like on our board.

--Jimbo


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Easier browsing of Board minutes, agendas, etc., plus summaries

Nathan Awrich
In reply to this post by Pete Forsyth-2
Great work, Pete, all very interesting and useful. Thanks for dedicating
your time to do this.

On Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 11:29 PM, Pete Forsyth <[hidden email]> wrote:

> As many of you are aware, it's always been difficult to navigate
> information about the proceedings of the Board of Trustees: minutes,
> agendas, specific resolutions, notes, and commentary are split across Meta
> Wiki, WMF Wiki, various mailing lists, etc.
>
> So, I spent the last few days building a set of navigation templates on
> Meta, tidying up page names, summarizing the Board's activities in recent
> years, etc. I hope you will take a look at the before[1] and after[2] pages
> on Meta. (There's still work to be done -- any help appreciated! Speaking
> of which, thank you to MZMcBride and Rillke for helping get a useful gadget
> up and running.)
>
> == The most useful part ==
> In addition to the navigation boxes (which I hope are helpful in themselves
> to Trustees, staff, and any volunteers interested in governance issues), I
> think perhaps the most useful pieces are the Annual Summary pages I put
> together for 2014 [3] and 2015.[4] These aim to capture every resolution
> passed in each year, separated according to those focused on Board
> governance and more general votes. I have also included brief narratives
> about issues that have been widely discussed (e.g., the absence of any
> Advisory Board-related votes in 2015, and the implications of that). I have
> tried to keep this very factual, to keep it short and useful for for
> anybody interested in tracking the information. It could use additional
> eyes, and probably additional links (to significant email messages, etc.)
>
> == Curious observations ==
> This is the deepest dive I've taken into Board proceedings, and as such, a
> few interesting points struck me:
>
> * Yesterday, for the first time, minutes and resolutions from the two
> December 2015 Board meetings were published. As far as I know there was no
> announcement of this; I wonder if in these tumultuous times, this has
> slipped through the cracks. As you will see, there are several significant
> pieces of information in there, and three months is a long time to wait for
> it.
>
> * December 2015: For the first time, we learn that Guy Kawasaki was
> appointed to the Board Governance Committee (BGC). Ordinarily, a committee
> appointment might not be of great interest; however, in this case, the
> appointment came during the same meeting as the one where the BGC nominated
> Arnnon Geshuri and Kelly Battles. If I'm not mistaken, those were the only
> two candidates presented to the full board for a formal vote, meaning that
> the members of the BGC had tremendous influence in appointing those two
> seats. I think it would be worthwhile to hear from the Board whether or not
> Guy had a role in deciding what candidates were presented to the Board. Was
> this appointment fully forward-looking, or was it recognizing work that he
> had already done with the BGC? Did Guy have a role in the formal decision
> of who to present to the full Board?
>
> * December 2015: The resolution establishing the Endowment Fund, which was
> announced in a press release in January, is now referred to on the WMF
> Wiki. However, the text of the resolution has not been published. I suspect
> this is a mere oversight and will be corrected shortly; but this is a
> significant development, and it will be good to see what was actually
> decided.
>
> * December 2015: As we knew, the Board approved the FDC's recommendation.
> But the text in the Minutes and in the Resolution are interesting: (a) Many
> staff and volunteers have praised the FDC's diligence in identifying the
> WMF's performance in relation to the Annual Plan Grant standards. It would
> be interesting to hear from the Board how it takes those comments, but
> there is no mention of that in the Board resolution. (b) There are,
> however, comments about the FDC's take on Wikimedia Germany's request for
> restricted funds for Wikidata. I'm not as familiar with this issue, but it
> appears there is a bit of a power struggle going on between the FDC, WMF,
> and perhaps WMDE over this issue. This is something I hope we can all hear
> more about, as it seems significant to the future of an important Wikimedia
> project.
>
> * January 2016: (No big surprise) Kelly Battles has been added to the Audit
> Committee, and Jaime Villagomez has been appointed Board Treasurer.
>
> * Going way back to August 2014, I noticed an interesting detail. Many who
> follow the Board are aware that Alice Wiegand, who had previously been a
> Chapters-nominated Trustee, lost her bid that year for a new nomination.
> Frieda Brioschi was nominated in her place, and was appointed; Frieda had
> previously been a Trustee some years before. And the Board immediately
> appointed Alice anyway, succeeding Ana Toni, who resigned mid-term. Now,
> for the part I had not noticed before: In the same meeting where she was
> herself appointed, Frieda cast the sole dissenting vote for both of the
> resolutions to reappoint Alice. (One to fill out the 2014 term, and another
> for a new term starting in 2015.) This strikes me as highly significant:
> Frieda surely knew that the vote would be successful, and that she would
> then be faced with serving alongside a colleague who she had publicly
> opposed. I do not know Frieda at all, but this strikes me as an action few
> people would take unless there was a strong reason. I am curious what the
> rift was between the two, and especially whether it is over an issue or
> philosophical difference related to the Wikimedia movement.
>
> == Closing thoughts ==
> Overall, I hope these navigation templates, and especially the annual
> summaries, can facilitate various parties in navigating complex
> information, and help us all develop a better understanding of how the
> Board has been supporting the Wikimedia vision. Perhaps there are further
> improvements that I haven't thought of -- so of course I welcome others'
> contributions to how the information is presented.
>
> Please let me know (on- or off-list) if you have any feedback for me.
> Happy editing,
> -Pete
> [[User:Peteforsyth]]
>
> == Footnotes ==
> [1] Before the new templates:
>
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikimedia_Foundation_board_meetings&oldid=15413988#2016
> [2] Current version:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_meetings#2016
> [3]
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_summary,_2014
> [4]
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_summary_2015
> [5]
>
> https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_releases/Wikipedia_celebrates_15_years_of_free_knowledge
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Easier browsing of Board minutes, agendas, etc., plus summaries

Chris Sherlock
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales-4
> On 9 Mar 2016, at 11:41 PM, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> On 3/9/16 4:29 AM, Pete Forsyth wrote:
>> This strikes me as highly significant:
>> Frieda surely knew that the vote would be successful, and that she would
>> then be faced with serving alongside a colleague who she had publicly
>> opposed. I do not know Frieda at all, but this strikes me as an action few
>> people would take unless there was a strong reason. I am curious what the
>> rift was between the two, and especially whether it is over an issue or
>> philosophical difference related to the Wikimedia movement.
>
> I'll let them speak for themselves but would like to point out that it
> is important not to immediately jump to this kind of conclusion that a
> conflict between the two is the most plausible explanation at all in the
> first place.  That isn't typically what it is like on our board.
>
> --Jimbo

Jimmy, could the Board at least provide an explanation for why it has taken such a long time to publish the minutes?

Chris
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Easier browsing of Board minutes, agendas, etc., plus summaries

Jimmy Wales-5
On 3/9/16 3:46 PM, Chris Sherlock wrote:
> Jimmy, could the Board at least provide an explanation for why it has taken such a long time to publish the minutes?

I don't see why not.  I've not been involved with the publishing of the
minutes personally, so I don't know the details.  I am unaware of any
particular reason other than that, as you can well imagine, we've been
pretty busy lately.

My own view is that minutes should be distributed and reviewed between
board meetings, voted on at the next regular board meeting, and
published within a day or two (subject, perhaps, to someone needing to
fly home or that sort of thing).



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Easier browsing of Board minutes, agendas, etc., plus summaries

Virgilio A. P. Machado
In reply to this post by Pete Forsyth-2
Another curious observation vis-a-vis a lot that has been written on this
list

WMF Board Minutes -December 9, 2015
Board of Trustees present: Patricio Lorente (Chair), Alice Wiegand
(Vice-Chair), Frieda Brioschi, James Heilman, Dariusz Jemielniak, Guy
Kawasaki, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Denny Vrandečić, Jimmy Wales, and Stu West.
Board Search
the Board Governance Committee recommended two final candidates for the two
open seats: Kelly Battles and Arnnon Geshuri. The recommended candidates
came with extensive backgrounds in finance and HR. The Board *unanimously*
[my bold] approved resolutions appointing Kelly Battles and Arnnon Geshuri
to the Board for two years terms commencing in January 2016.

Virgilio A. P. Machado
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