[Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

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[Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Brion Vibber-4
I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of the
last few days:

Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals (like,
saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of movement
leadership or community representation. Not because they think it shouldn't
happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board of
Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.

I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should think
about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details like
board reform.

Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens to
have specialized in those roles.

This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
coordinate and represent and look forward.

And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a mismatch in
hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very important
we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might be
needed.

Dream big.
Act with passion.
Talk with thought.
Don't run with scissors.

-- brion
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Lodewijk
Hi Brion,

these signals indeed worry me a bit. The fact that they bring it up so
directly, probably indicates they have struggled with it. If we indeed want
some kind of overarching body for the movement as a whole, and the current
board feels incapable to be that, there are I think a number of remedies,
of which you mention one. Some are less likely (or desirable) to occur
though:

- select different board members who are capable of mixing the two (this
only works if one believes that the board members are imagining boundaries
that are not there)
- Changing the WMF to change this dynamic (i.e. changing it to a membership
organisation, changing the mission, etc.)
- Creating an additional body inside the WMF that can take up this movement
role better
- Creating a non-legal entity (a council without any standing) - this would
only work for some moral authority
- creating a separate body that would become the umbrella (or creating
another WMF, which will take over most activities from the current
organisation, allowing the umbrella to hold the trademarks etc)

The question is indeed what we're trying to accomplish. Some of these work
well for community matters, but if I read the temperature well, it seems
rather that people are looking for a way to impact what the WMF does. A
representation without any actual powers would become quickly moot.

But there is another side to community representation, and that is to ease
communication. I have suggested before that some kind of council or body
with community representatives (probably informal in a way) might make
communication with the community in a constructive way easier. Maybe that
would make it less likely that things are kept hidden, that the community
is not consulted. Because having a channel that will actually have a
conversation with you instead of shouting back no matter what you do (and
that is definitely how it must have felt to some staff members in the past
years) is no fun, and not a warm encouragement to involve the community
early on. It is oh so easy to wait it out a bit, until you have solid
numbers to proof your story. And before you know, it's basically too late
to turn back. For this role, the WMF board is definitely unsuitable, if
only because its members are very unrepresentative for the community
(albeit they come /from/ the community for a big part) due to their
international nature, and often they stopped editing altogether..

Lodewijk

On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 3:53 PM, Brion Vibber <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of the
> last few days:
>
> Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals (like,
> saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of movement
> leadership or community representation. Not because they think it shouldn't
> happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board of
> Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.
>
> I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
> members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should think
> about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details like
> board reform.
>
> Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
> within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
> fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
> different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens to
> have specialized in those roles.
>
> This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
> coordinate and represent and look forward.
>
> And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a mismatch in
> hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
> communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very important
> we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might be
> needed.
>
> Dream big.
> Act with passion.
> Talk with thought.
> Don't run with scissors.
>
> -- brion
> _______________________________________________
> 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,
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Ad Huikeshoven
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
2016-02-28 15:53 GMT+01:00 Brion Vibber <[hidden email]>:

> Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals (like,
> saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of movement
> leadership or community representation. Not because they think it shouldn't
> happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board of
> Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.
>

Thanks Brion for starting this conversation. "Our community is our biggest
asset" do read the values.[1] How do you reconcile the statement of some
board members with this stated value?


> I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
> members of the Wikimedia movement community.
>

The saying is "structure follows strategy". One goal, or strategy can be
"As a movement we want healthy thriving communities".

A) One way to achieve that could be to delegate the task explicitly to each
individual community and help the members of that community to
(self)organize. For example to use securepoll to (s)elect a number of
people by active editors to accept certain representative roles, for
example in two way communication between foundation and community about
technology changes, but also to oversee processes to recruit new editors
and onboard them. I imagine a (s)election process like the (s)election of
community (s)elected BoT members, however with voters restricted to editors
who are active in that community (that is per project wiki of which there
are 900).

B) Another way would be to use securepoll to (s)elect a number of people in
a specific country by active editors in that country to accept certain
representative roles, for example in two way communication between
foundation and community about technology changes, but also to oversee
processes to recruit new editors and onboard them. I imagine a (s)election
process like the (s)election of community (s)elected BoT members, however
with voters restricted to editors who are active in that country based on
geo-ip. Maybe some countries are so big, that it would be wiser to do this
at state level.


> This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
> coordinate and represent and look forward.
>

The failed attempts to WCA come to mind. That didn't work. An association
of active editors legally separate from the WMF might be conceivable. Such
an assocation could be compartementalized by A) and B). The B) structures
might merge with existing chapters, I can imagine. (S)election of community
members for the BoT of the WMF could shift to the association.

That might end up outsourcing community support by the WMF to the
association, something Dariusz opposes ;)

Regards,

Ad Huikeshoven

[1]:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Values#Our_community_is_our_biggest_asset
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Dariusz Jemielniak-3
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 11:30 AM, Ad Huikeshoven <[hidden email]> wrote:

> B) Another way would be to use securepoll to (s)elect a number of people in
> a specific country by active editors in that country to accept certain
> representative roles, for example in two way communication between
> foundation and community about technology changes, but also to oversee
> processes to recruit new editors and onboard them. I imagine a (s)election
> process like the (s)election of community (s)elected BoT members, however
> with voters restricted to editors who are active in that country based on
> geo-ip. Maybe some countries are so big, that it would be wiser to do this
> at state level.
>
>
yup, that's effectively the idea of volunteer community liaisons
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Pundit/liaisons>, I've been trying to
discuss for a while (in Mexico, Luis was quite receptive, but
understandably in the following months the idea did not receive the highest
priority).

dj
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Emmanuel Engelhart-5
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
On 28.02.2016 15:53, Brion Vibber wrote:

> I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of the
> last few days:
>
> Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals (like,
> saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of movement
> leadership or community representation. Not because they think it shouldn't
> happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board of
> Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.
>
> I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
> members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should think
> about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details like
> board reform.
>
> Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
> within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
> fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
> different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens to
> have specialized in those roles.
>
> This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
> coordinate and represent and look forward.
>
> And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a mismatch in
> hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
> communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very important
> we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might be
> needed.
Delighting to read this. That said, the path to achieve this looks
pretty challenging. Would the WMF be able to organize such a move and
"give-up" parts of its duties/activities to better focus on core business?

Emmanuel

--
Kiwix - Wikipedia Offline & more
* Web: http://www.kiwix.org
* Twitter: https://twitter.com/KiwixOffline
* more: http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Communication


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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Pharos-3
Hi fellow Wikimedians,

If we are seriously going to consider an expanded Community Council as an
alternative to WMF BoT reform, we need to have a real discussion about what
"devolution" would mean, and what specific responsibilities we think should
be given up, and distributed to a broader community governance.

For example:

Should the WMF BoT devolve a non-core portion of the budget?  How would the
core portion be defined, and the non-core aspects?
Should the WMF BoT devolve aspects of the approval or closing of sister
sites? (Wiktionary, Wikidata, Wikinews, a potential genealogy project)
Should the WMF BoT devolve aspects related to Wikimania and related
regional meetings?

Thanks,
Pharos

On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 12:43 PM, Emmanuel Engelhart <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> On 28.02.2016 15:53, Brion Vibber wrote:
> > I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of the
> > last few days:
> >
> > Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals
> (like,
> > saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of movement
> > leadership or community representation. Not because they think it
> shouldn't
> > happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board of
> > Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.
> >
> > I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
> > members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should think
> > about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details like
> > board reform.
> >
> > Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
> > within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
> > fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
> > different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens
> to
> > have specialized in those roles.
> >
> > This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
> > coordinate and represent and look forward.
> >
> > And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a mismatch
> in
> > hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
> > communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very important
> > we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might
> be
> > needed.
>
> Delighting to read this. That said, the path to achieve this looks
> pretty challenging. Would the WMF be able to organize such a move and
> "give-up" parts of its duties/activities to better focus on core business?
>
> Emmanuel
>
> --
> Kiwix - Wikipedia Offline & more
> * Web: http://www.kiwix.org
> * Twitter: https://twitter.com/KiwixOffline
> * more: http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Communication
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> 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] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Anthony Cole
A link to Pharos's (and others') Community Council Compact:

https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Community_Council_Compact

Your questions highlight the complexity of creating a new, representative
corporation. It would be a lot simpler to just convert WMF into a
membership organisation with members electing the majority of board
members, and the board appointing expert trustees.

The latter involves the acquiescence of the board, though. Without that,
the former - an new, representative body - is all we're left with if we
want the people who make and run the projects to control the purse strings,
as opposed to the current situation where the techie tail wags the
encyclopaedist dog.



Anthony Cole


On Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 11:00 AM, Pharos <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> Hi fellow Wikimedians,
>
> If we are seriously going to consider an expanded Community Council as an
> alternative to WMF BoT reform, we need to have a real discussion about what
> "devolution" would mean, and what specific responsibilities we think should
> be given up, and distributed to a broader community governance.
>
> For example:
>
> Should the WMF BoT devolve a non-core portion of the budget?  How would the
> core portion be defined, and the non-core aspects?
> Should the WMF BoT devolve aspects of the approval or closing of sister
> sites? (Wiktionary, Wikidata, Wikinews, a potential genealogy project)
> Should the WMF BoT devolve aspects related to Wikimania and related
> regional meetings?
>
> Thanks,
> Pharos
>
> On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 12:43 PM, Emmanuel Engelhart <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > On 28.02.2016 15:53, Brion Vibber wrote:
> > > I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of
> the
> > > last few days:
> > >
> > > Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals
> > (like,
> > > saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of
> movement
> > > leadership or community representation. Not because they think it
> > shouldn't
> > > happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board
> of
> > > Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.
> > >
> > > I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
> > > members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should
> think
> > > about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details
> like
> > > board reform.
> > >
> > > Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
> > > within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
> > > fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
> > > different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens
> > to
> > > have specialized in those roles.
> > >
> > > This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
> > > coordinate and represent and look forward.
> > >
> > > And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a
> mismatch
> > in
> > > hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
> > > communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very
> important
> > > we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might
> > be
> > > needed.
> >
> > Delighting to read this. That said, the path to achieve this looks
> > pretty challenging. Would the WMF be able to organize such a move and
> > "give-up" parts of its duties/activities to better focus on core
> business?
> >
> > Emmanuel
> >
> > --
> > Kiwix - Wikipedia Offline & more
> > * Web: http://www.kiwix.org
> > * Twitter: https://twitter.com/KiwixOffline
> > * more: http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Communication
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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>
> >
> _______________________________________________
> 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] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Brion Vibber-4
In reply to this post by Pharos-3
On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Pharos <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi fellow Wikimedians,
>
> If we are seriously going to consider an expanded Community Council as an
> alternative to WMF BoT reform, we need to have a real discussion about what
> "devolution" would mean, and what specific responsibilities we think should
> be given up, and distributed to a broader community governance.
>
> For example:
>
> Should the WMF BoT devolve a non-core portion of the budget?  How would the
> core portion be defined, and the non-core aspects?


Our current situation is that WMF centralizes most fundraising for the
movement, distributes a portion of it to other movement organizations, and
spends the rest itself to support movement goals such as the hosting and
fundraising infrastructure, engineering support to improve the tools that
movement contributors use, public communications, legal support, etc.

In a multi-org world with national chapters like WMDE doing engineering
projects and sister organizations like WEF doing editor
coordination work, I think it's already incorrect to think of Wikimedia
movement fundraising monies as belonging to WMF and a "non-core" portion of
them potentially being devolved.

Rather, WMF provides fundraising to the movement as a service. WMF should
be only one of multiple orgs seeking disbursement of raised movement funds
in an open, documented, and transparent process (FDC?)



> Should the WMF BoT devolve aspects of the approval or closing of sister
> sites? (Wiktionary, Wikidata, Wikinews, a potential genealogy project)


Almost certainly. WMF is a provider of engineering and hosting services to
the movement; the BoT thereof provides oversight of its operations, but
should possibly not be deciding what community members can and can't work
on. It's the movement and its representatives who should decide what major
projects to include under the collective umbrella, and WMF's job to host
and support them.

Should the WMF BoT devolve aspects related to Wikimania and related
> regional meetings?


Yes. Most likely they should be operated by purpose-built institutions
specializing in this, like many large conventions and conferences are.

-- brion


>
> Thanks,
> Pharos
>
> On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 12:43 PM, Emmanuel Engelhart <[hidden email]
> <javascript:;>>
> wrote:
>
> > On 28.02.2016 15:53, Brion Vibber wrote:
> > > I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of
> the
> > > last few days:
> > >
> > > Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals
> > (like,
> > > saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of
> movement
> > > leadership or community representation. Not because they think it
> > shouldn't
> > > happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board
> of
> > > Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.
> > >
> > > I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
> > > members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should
> think
> > > about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details
> like
> > > board reform.
> > >
> > > Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
> > > within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
> > > fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
> > > different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens
> > to
> > > have specialized in those roles.
> > >
> > > This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
> > > coordinate and represent and look forward.
> > >
> > > And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a
> mismatch
> > in
> > > hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
> > > communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very
> important
> > > we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might
> > be
> > > needed.
> >
> > Delighting to read this. That said, the path to achieve this looks
> > pretty challenging. Would the WMF be able to organize such a move and
> > "give-up" parts of its duties/activities to better focus on core
> business?
> >
> > Emmanuel
> >
> > --
> > Kiwix - Wikipedia Offline & more
> > * Web: http://www.kiwix.org
> > * Twitter: https://twitter.com/KiwixOffline
> > * more: http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Communication
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> > New messages to: [hidden email] <javascript:;>
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email] <javascript:;>
> ?subject=unsubscribe>
> >
> _______________________________________________
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> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
> New messages to: [hidden email] <javascript:;>
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email] <javascript:;>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Movement representation vs WMF board reform

Ziko van Dijk-3
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber-4
Dear Brion, thank you for starting this thread and for your caveats.

Among the challenges when creating new movement entities, or organs, I
think there are at least two which we have experienced in the past:

a) A certain part of the Wikipedians has a very individualistic mind
and may not want to be represented at all. Representation means to
support someone who is speaking, partially/temporarily, on your
behalf. It is easy to imagine that, in an emotional moment confronted
with a "common enemy", e.g. a specific Wikipedia language version
community elects representants. But that is not enough: on the long
run those representants need the constant support of those they are
supposed to represent, otherwise their position will be very weak.

b) Building up an organ or structures in general needs skills and hard
work. It is often difficult to find people who don't only want to cast
a voice of protest but to attend meetings, write minutes, communicate
with many different people, read a lot of documents, support a
decision even if you don't agree for 100% etc.

Kind regards
Ziko







2016-02-28 15:53 GMT+01:00 Brion Vibber <[hidden email]>:

> I just want to split out a concept that came up in the big threads of the
> last few days:
>
> Some members of the WMF Board of Trustees are giving strong signals (like,
> saying it outright) that the BoT can't fully take on the role of movement
> leadership or community representation. Not because they think it shouldn't
> happen, but because structurally and legally and practically the board of
> Wikimedia Foundation Inc has different roles to fill.
>
> I think we should consider what roles and structures we *do* want as
> members of the Wikimedia movement community. And I think we should think
> about that and talk about that carefully before rushing into details like
> board reform.
>
> Perhaps we should explicitly accept WMF as a "first among equals" org
> within the movement, with specific roles like tech development and
> fundraising (or other emphases as well) while other orgs concentrate on
> different specific issues. Or even just "one among equals" that happens to
> have specialized in those roles.
>
> This probably means we should think about "umbrella" structures to
> coordinate and represent and look forward.
>
> And that's something we should *definitely* not rush into. If a mismatch in
> hopes for what the WMF BoT can and should do has been a factor in
> communication and leadership issues in the past, then it's very important
> we not make the same kinds of mistakes in any new structures that might be
> needed.
>
> Dream big.
> Act with passion.
> Talk with thought.
> Don't run with scissors.
>
> -- brion
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