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[Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Denny Vrandecic-6
I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.

I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
employment.

This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.

This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.

There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
the case.

I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.

As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
"it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.

It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
reasonable timeframe.

And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
proposal and its virtues and decide on them.

I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.

I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
option remains.

So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.

It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint many
of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or that
the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the profile
that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
effective Trustee.

But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can do.
I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to the
movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.

Be bold,
Denny
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Mardetanha-2
sad news to hear
wish you best of luck

Mardetanha

On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 10:47 PM, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
>
> I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
> to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
> very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
> regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> employment.
>
> This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
>
> This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
> though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
> refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
>
> There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
> would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> the case.
>
> I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
> to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
>
> As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
> that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
>
> It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
> myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
> will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
> then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
> reasonable timeframe.
>
> And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
> take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
> regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
> on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
>
> I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
>
> I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
> of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> option remains.
>
> So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
>
> It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint many
> of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or that
> the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the profile
> that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> effective Trustee.
>
> But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can do.
> I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to the
> movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
>
> Be bold,
> Denny
> _______________________________________________
> 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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Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Manuel Schneider-3
In reply to this post by Denny Vrandecic-6
Thanks a lot Denny for your honest and inspiring mail.
I kept stumm for the most part of the last month's controversy, as I
merely could have +1ed a lot of stuff that has been said and that's not
worth spinding bandwidth and people's time.

Now I want to take that time to say thank you, for your time on the
board and for your role in Wikidata. For a return in a role that
inspires you again.

/Manuel

On 04/08/2016 08:17 PM, Denny Vrandecic wrote:

> I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
>
> I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
> to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
> very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
> regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> employment.
>
> This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
>
> This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
> though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
> refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
>
> There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
> would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> the case.
>
> I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
> to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
>
> As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
> that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
>
> It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
> myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
> will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
> then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
> reasonable timeframe.
>
> And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
> take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
> regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
> on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
>
> I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
>
> I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
> of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> option remains.
>
> So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
>
> It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint many
> of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or that
> the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the profile
> that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> effective Trustee.
>
> But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can do.
> I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to the
> movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.

--
Wikimedia CH - Verein zur Förderung Freien Wissens
www.wikimedia.ch

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Sydney Poore
Denny,

Thank you for your very thoughtful email. I appreciate your reasoning.
Sydney

Sydney Poore
User:FloNight
Wikipedian in Residence
at Cochrane Collaboration

On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 2:33 PM, Manuel Schneider <
[hidden email]> wrote:

> Thanks a lot Denny for your honest and inspiring mail.
> I kept stumm for the most part of the last month's controversy, as I
> merely could have +1ed a lot of stuff that has been said and that's not
> worth spinding bandwidth and people's time.
>
> Now I want to take that time to say thank you, for your time on the
> board and for your role in Wikidata. For a return in a role that
> inspires you again.
>
> /Manuel
>
> On 04/08/2016 08:17 PM, Denny Vrandecic wrote:
> > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> >
> > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being
> able
> > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would
> align
> > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests
> -
> > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> > employment.
> >
> > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
> >
> > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and
> even
> > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had
> to
> > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> >
> > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google.
> I
> > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> > the case.
> >
> > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> appropriate
> > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> >
> > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> writing
> > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
> >
> > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to
> do
> > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> someone
> > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was
> back
> > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> > wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in
> a
> > reasonable timeframe.
> >
> > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> cannot
> > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will
> be
> > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> deciding
> > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> >
> > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> >
> > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> Conflict
> > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> > option remains.
> >
> > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> >
> > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint
> many
> > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or
> that
> > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> profile
> > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> > effective Trustee.
> >
> > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can
> do.
> > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to
> the
> > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
>
> --
> Wikimedia CH - Verein zur Förderung Freien Wissens
> www.wikimedia.ch
>
> _______________________________________________
> 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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Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Florence Devouard-6
In reply to this post by Denny Vrandecic-6
Lot's of respect and lot's of sadness reading your email Denny.
I understand your point. Thanks for explaining. Much regrets.

Flo

Le 08/04/16 20:17, Denny Vrandecic a écrit :

> I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
>
> I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
> to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
> very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
> regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> employment.
>
> This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
>
> This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
> though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
> refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
>
> There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
> would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> the case.
>
> I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
> to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
>
> As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
> that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
>
> It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
> myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
> will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
> then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
> reasonable timeframe.
>
> And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
> take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
> regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
> on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
>
> I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
>
> I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
> of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> option remains.
>
> So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
>
> It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint many
> of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or that
> the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the profile
> that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> effective Trustee.
>
> But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can do.
> I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to the
> movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
>
> Be bold,
> Denny
> _______________________________________________
> 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] [recent changes]

Erik Moeller-3
In reply to this post by Denny Vrandecic-6
Hey Denny --

Kudos for your well-reasoned decision, and for your service on the
Board during a very challenging time. One of the beautiful things
about Wikimedia is how much scope you can have to move things forward
without any special roles or affiliation. I very much look forward to
reading your crazy-or-maybe-not-so-crazy ideas!

Erik

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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Brion Vibber-4
In reply to this post by Denny Vrandecic-6
Denny, thanks for all the work you've put in over the years and in your
time on the board in particular -- it's been rough indeed lately, and I
understand the need to refocus.

Looking forward to continuing to hear from you in the future!

-- brion

On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 7:17 PM, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
>
> I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
> to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
> very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
> regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> employment.
>
> This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
>
> This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
> though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
> refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
>
> There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
> would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> the case.
>
> I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
> to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
>
> As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
> that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
>
> It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
> myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
> will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
> then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
> reasonable timeframe.
>
> And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
> take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
> regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
> on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
>
> I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
>
> I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
> of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> option remains.
>
> So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
>
> It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint many
> of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or that
> the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the profile
> that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> effective Trustee.
>
> But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can do.
> I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to the
> movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
>
> Be bold,
> Denny
> _______________________________________________
> 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] [recent changes]

Gerard Meijssen-3
In reply to this post by Denny Vrandecic-6
Hoi,
Denny I am sorry to have lost a friend who is on the board but I am happy
to welcome back a friend who can now express his ideas, his notions, his
opposition, his point of view. Yes you work for Google. For me it means
that you are again in an unique position to be an ambassador for both
Google and WMF in either domain.

You may have gained friends while on the board, the one sad thing is that
it came at a huge cost to you personally. Nevermind what you do, I trust
you to do well.
Thanks,
        Gerard

On 8 April 2016 at 20:17, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
>
> I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
> to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
> very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
> regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> employment.
>
> This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
>
> This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
> though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
> refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
>
> There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
> would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> the case.
>
> I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
> to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
>
> As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
> that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
>
> It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
> myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
> will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
> then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
> reasonable timeframe.
>
> And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
> take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
> regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
> on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
>
> I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
>
> I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
> of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> option remains.
>
> So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
>
> It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint many
> of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or that
> the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the profile
> that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> effective Trustee.
>
> But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can do.
> I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to the
> movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
>
> Be bold,
> Denny
> _______________________________________________
> 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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Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Ilario Valdelli
In reply to this post by Denny Vrandecic-6
Hi Denny
Your email is very interesting to understand the conflict you were
experimenting to introduce innovation and good ideas in Wikimedia projects.

In my opinion the biggest problem is the overlapping between direction and
execution. Do you think that your action would be less efficient operating
outside the board of trustees?

Your opinion would be very appreciated because you are a good example of a
member who can really address the decisions in an innovative direction but
blocked by a strict definition of COI.

Kind regards
Il 08 Apr 2016 20:17, "Denny Vrandecic" <[hidden email]> ha
scritto:

> I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
>
> I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
> to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
> very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
> regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> employment.
>
> This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
>
> This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
> though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
> refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
>
> There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
> would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> the case.
>
> I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
> to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
>
> As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
> that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
>
> It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
> myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
> will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
> then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
> reasonable timeframe.
>
> And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
> take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
> regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
> on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
>
> I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
>
> I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
> of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> option remains.
>
> So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
>
> It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint many
> of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or that
> the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the profile
> that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> effective Trustee.
>
> But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can do.
> I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to the
> movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
>
> Be bold,
> Denny
> _______________________________________________
> 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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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] [recent changes]

Brill Lyle
In reply to this post by Gerard Meijssen-3
I find this issue of Conflict of Interest exceedingly problematic.

Almost every person working and living today will have a conflict of
interest somehow, especially as one becomes a contributor to any of the
Wikimedia projects, gets to know people, tries to organize events or
promote the value of Wikipedia, Wikimedia, etc. Or if you work in any field
that specializes in anything online or technical. It is an impossible
situation.

I think that Wikimedia deals with this very badly -- and obviously at great
personal cost to talented, giving people. I am sorry.

And to the bigger problem: Wikimedia loses a smart person who has loads of
ideas and expertise -- and is a contributor to Wikidata (one of the best &
most exciting projects to be visited upon Wikimedia) because of this arcane
and quite frankly needing to be re-evaluated rule? I see this as one of the
many problems of Wikimedia.

EVERYONE has conflict of interest. We need the smartest and brightest minds
out there to contribute whatever they willingly can and will do on a
volunteer basis. How can they not have connections to the real world as
well as to online? Do we expect volunteers to be in their bunkers
somewhere, siloed from the world, that these clean folks are the ones to
move Wikimedia forward? It's laughable.

One thing Wikimedia seems to do quite well is torture people who want to
contribute by rules and policies that I think, quite frankly, are
unworkable.

Requiring some sort of absolute clean Conflict of Interest is an impossible
ideal. It is also obviously hurting the community.

There is much change happening. I think it's an opportunity for newbies
such as myself as well as folks with longer views to make things better. Or
these mistakes will continue to plague the Wikimedia community -- and we
will all lose out.

- Erika
*Erika Herzog*
Wikipedia *User:BrillLyle* <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:BrillLyle>


On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 2:28 AM, Gerard Meijssen <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> Hoi,
> Denny I am sorry to have lost a friend who is on the board but I am happy
> to welcome back a friend who can now express his ideas, his notions, his
> opposition, his point of view. Yes you work for Google. For me it means
> that you are again in an unique position to be an ambassador for both
> Google and WMF in either domain.
>
> You may have gained friends while on the board, the one sad thing is that
> it came at a huge cost to you personally. Nevermind what you do, I trust
> you to do well.
> Thanks,
>         Gerard
>
> On 8 April 2016 at 20:17, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> >
> > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being
> able
> > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would
> align
> > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests
> -
> > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> > employment.
> >
> > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
> >
> > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and
> even
> > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had
> to
> > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> >
> > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google.
> I
> > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> > the case.
> >
> > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> appropriate
> > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> >
> > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> writing
> > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
> >
> > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to
> do
> > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> someone
> > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was
> back
> > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> > wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in
> a
> > reasonable timeframe.
> >
> > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> cannot
> > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will
> be
> > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> deciding
> > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> >
> > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> >
> > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> Conflict
> > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> > option remains.
> >
> > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> >
> > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint
> many
> > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or
> that
> > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> profile
> > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> > effective Trustee.
> >
> > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can
> do.
> > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to
> the
> > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
> >
> > Be bold,
> > Denny
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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] [recent changes]

David Cuenca Tudela
In reply to this post by Ilario Valdelli
Hi Denny,

Thanks for explaining your reasoning, which hints towards a lack of
tolerance and understanding towards people wearing several hats. It doesn't
have an easy solution, as there is too much lack of trust.

The only thing I wish is that your decision enables you to participate in
the movement more effectively, and without any concern.

Looking forward to your new ideas!

Regards
Micru

On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 9:54 AM, Ilario Valdelli <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Denny
> Your email is very interesting to understand the conflict you were
> experimenting to introduce innovation and good ideas in Wikimedia projects.
>
> In my opinion the biggest problem is the overlapping between direction and
> execution. Do you think that your action would be less efficient operating
> outside the board of trustees?
>
> Your opinion would be very appreciated because you are a good example of a
> member who can really address the decisions in an innovative direction but
> blocked by a strict definition of COI.
>
> Kind regards
> Il 08 Apr 2016 20:17, "Denny Vrandecic" <[hidden email]> ha
> scritto:
>
> > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> >
> > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being
> able
> > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would
> align
> > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests
> -
> > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> > employment.
> >
> > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
> >
> > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and
> even
> > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had
> to
> > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> >
> > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google.
> I
> > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> > the case.
> >
> > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> appropriate
> > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> >
> > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> writing
> > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
> >
> > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to
> do
> > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> someone
> > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was
> back
> > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> > wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in
> a
> > reasonable timeframe.
> >
> > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> cannot
> > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will
> be
> > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> deciding
> > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> >
> > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> >
> > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> Conflict
> > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> > option remains.
> >
> > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> >
> > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint
> many
> > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or
> that
> > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> profile
> > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> > effective Trustee.
> >
> > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can
> do.
> > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to
> the
> > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
> >
> > Be bold,
> > Denny
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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>
>



--
Etiamsi omnes, ego non
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Pine W
In reply to this post by Brill Lyle
Brill,

Speaking generally (meaning, not in regard to the specific situation of
Denny), conflict of interest issues do happen on a regular basis. In my
experience, we also generally handle them well.

Having numerous business relationships and interests is common in the
business world. Many times when there is a conflict of interest issue, it's
sufficient to recuse from particular discussions. Sometimes, the best
course of action is to resign from one role or another.

Regarding Denny's situation specifically, after leaving the WMF board, he
may provide valuable input and may in some ways be more effective because
he will have stepped away from numerous COI issues.

I feel that Denny's decision to resign makes sense, and in no way does this
decision put a cloud over his continued involvement in our community.

There are many problems in the Wikimedia universe, but I think that our COI
policies are generally sound.

Pine



On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 6:48 AM, Brill Lyle <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I find this issue of Conflict of Interest exceedingly problematic.
>
> Almost every person working and living today will have a conflict of
> interest somehow, especially as one becomes a contributor to any of the
> Wikimedia projects, gets to know people, tries to organize events or
> promote the value of Wikipedia, Wikimedia, etc. Or if you work in any field
> that specializes in anything online or technical. It is an impossible
> situation.
>
> I think that Wikimedia deals with this very badly -- and obviously at great
> personal cost to talented, giving people. I am sorry.
>
> And to the bigger problem: Wikimedia loses a smart person who has loads of
> ideas and expertise -- and is a contributor to Wikidata (one of the best &
> most exciting projects to be visited upon Wikimedia) because of this arcane
> and quite frankly needing to be re-evaluated rule? I see this as one of the
> many problems of Wikimedia.
>
> EVERYONE has conflict of interest. We need the smartest and brightest minds
> out there to contribute whatever they willingly can and will do on a
> volunteer basis. How can they not have connections to the real world as
> well as to online? Do we expect volunteers to be in their bunkers
> somewhere, siloed from the world, that these clean folks are the ones to
> move Wikimedia forward? It's laughable.
>
> One thing Wikimedia seems to do quite well is torture people who want to
> contribute by rules and policies that I think, quite frankly, are
> unworkable.
>
> Requiring some sort of absolute clean Conflict of Interest is an impossible
> ideal. It is also obviously hurting the community.
>
> There is much change happening. I think it's an opportunity for newbies
> such as myself as well as folks with longer views to make things better. Or
> these mistakes will continue to plague the Wikimedia community -- and we
> will all lose out.
>
> - Erika
> *Erika Herzog*
> Wikipedia *User:BrillLyle* <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:BrillLyle>
>
>
> On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 2:28 AM, Gerard Meijssen <[hidden email]
> >
> wrote:
>
> > Hoi,
> > Denny I am sorry to have lost a friend who is on the board but I am happy
> > to welcome back a friend who can now express his ideas, his notions, his
> > opposition, his point of view. Yes you work for Google. For me it means
> > that you are again in an unique position to be an ambassador for both
> > Google and WMF in either domain.
> >
> > You may have gained friends while on the board, the one sad thing is that
> > it came at a huge cost to you personally. Nevermind what you do, I trust
> > you to do well.
> > Thanks,
> >         Gerard
> >
> > On 8 April 2016 at 20:17, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> > >
> > > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> > > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to
> act
> > > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being
> > able
> > > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would
> > align
> > > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> > > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my
> considerations
> > > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of
> interests
> > -
> > > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> > > employment.
> > >
> > > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to
> deal
> > > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> > > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> > > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case,
> and
> > > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
> > >
> > > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> > > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and
> > even
> > > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had
> > to
> > > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> > >
> > > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> > > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by
> Google.
> > I
> > > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> > > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> > > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the
> feeling
> > > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither
> was
> > > the case.
> > >
> > > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> > appropriate
> > > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his
> advice,
> > > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> > >
> > > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> > > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee
> I
> > > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read
> as
> > > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> > writing
> > > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
> > >
> > > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had
> lunch
> > > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> > > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that
> only
> > > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to
> the
> > > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to
> > do
> > > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> > someone
> > > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> > > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was
> > back
> > > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> > > wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> > > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade
> later,
> > > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not
> in
> > a
> > > reasonable timeframe.
> > >
> > > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> > cannot
> > > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest
> will
> > be
> > > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do
> see
> > > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> > deciding
> > > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> > > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> > >
> > > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> > > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> > > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures
> against
> > > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> > >
> > > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> > Conflict
> > > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> > > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> > > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> > > option remains.
> > >
> > > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> > >
> > > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier
> by
> > > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint
> > many
> > > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> > > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or
> > that
> > > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> > profile
> > > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> > > effective Trustee.
> > >
> > > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a
> wikibreak.
> > > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and
> implement
> > > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will
> be,
> > > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can
> > do.
> > > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to
> > the
> > > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
> > >
> > > Be bold,
> > > Denny
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > 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>
> >
> _______________________________________________
> 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] [recent changes]

jytdog
In reply to this post by Denny Vrandecic-6
Here is a response to Denny's resignation; his email has been sticking to
me.   To provide some context for what follows, I work a lot on COI and
advocacy issues in Wikipedia, and worked on COI issues professionally at a
university for the past 15 years.

The limitations created by managing or eliminating Denny's various
conflicts of interest, appear to have been surprising to Denny, and were
definitely frustrating for him.

Surprising and frustrating.  This is perhaps the result of a lack of
process.

The WMF might want to consider putting in place a system of disclosing and
managing conflicts of interest for Trustees, before they actually join the
board, so that conflict management issues are both clear and acceptable to
the new Trustee and the Board at the start.

The process could be the same as it is in many sectors -  a confidential
disclosure of relevant interests, identification of possible and perceived
conflicts between those interests and the obligations of a Trustee, and
then creation of a plan to manage those conflicts (and identification of
areas where the conflicts can't be managed but need to be eliminated by
recusal).  All done before the person actually joins the board.

Once the person joins, the relevant external interests could be disclosed
at the board member's profile on the WMF board webpage.  The additional
step of publishing an outline of the management plan (at the same location)
would be something very useful in light of the high value that WMF staff
and the movement places on transparency.

Please consider that.  And please pardon me if this is already done, but
something went awry with Denny.

Thanks.



On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 2:17 PM, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
>
> I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being able
> to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would align
> very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests -
> regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> employment.
>
> This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
>
> This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and even
> though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had to
> refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
>
> There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google. I
> would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> the case.
>
> I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not appropriate
> to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
>
> As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler writing
> that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
>
> It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to do
> myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough - someone
> will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was back
> then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in a
> reasonable timeframe.
>
> And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I cannot
> take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will be
> regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one deciding
> on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
>
> I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
>
> I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential Conflict
> of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> option remains.
>
> So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
>
> It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint many
> of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or that
> the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the profile
> that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> effective Trustee.
>
> But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can do.
> I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to the
> movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
>
> Be bold,
> Denny
> _______________________________________________
> 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] [recent changes]

rupert THURNER-2
For denny I see the situation simple and I am only able to write it as I
read his clear email.

First he is able to influence projects and general direction with his
judgement and expertise.

Second he has the expertise to get projects done.

While I find it a real pity that we have less of first when he resigns I
must admit that I consider second even more important. Choosing amongst
proposals is easier than properly proposing. Especially if nobody steps up
for something he feels should get done. For my part, I trust his expertise.

I admire and find exemplary denny showing backbone here, something we see
not enough. Deciding on this trade off should be possible at any time
appropriate,  I do consequently *not* see something went awry with denny,
nor a problem with the process.

One hole in the process seems to be there though. Should a replacement be
voted now or just the old result be taken. As the situation is new for
every participant I tend to favour a vote.

Rupert
On Apr 11, 2016 07:56, "jytdog" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Here is a response to Denny's resignation; his email has been sticking to
> me.   To provide some context for what follows, I work a lot on COI and
> advocacy issues in Wikipedia, and worked on COI issues professionally at a
> university for the past 15 years.
>
> The limitations created by managing or eliminating Denny's various
> conflicts of interest, appear to have been surprising to Denny, and were
> definitely frustrating for him.
>
> Surprising and frustrating.  This is perhaps the result of a lack of
> process.
>
> The WMF might want to consider putting in place a system of disclosing and
> managing conflicts of interest for Trustees, before they actually join the
> board, so that conflict management issues are both clear and acceptable to
> the new Trustee and the Board at the start.
>
> The process could be the same as it is in many sectors -  a confidential
> disclosure of relevant interests, identification of possible and perceived
> conflicts between those interests and the obligations of a Trustee, and
> then creation of a plan to manage those conflicts (and identification of
> areas where the conflicts can't be managed but need to be eliminated by
> recusal).  All done before the person actually joins the board.
>
> Once the person joins, the relevant external interests could be disclosed
> at the board member's profile on the WMF board webpage.  The additional
> step of publishing an outline of the management plan (at the same location)
> would be something very useful in light of the high value that WMF staff
> and the movement places on transparency.
>
> Please consider that.  And please pardon me if this is already done, but
> something went awry with Denny.
>
> Thanks.
>
>
>
> On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 2:17 PM, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> >
> > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being
> able
> > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would
> align
> > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests
> -
> > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> > employment.
> >
> > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
> >
> > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and
> even
> > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had
> to
> > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> >
> > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google.
> I
> > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> > the case.
> >
> > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> appropriate
> > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> >
> > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> writing
> > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
> >
> > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to
> do
> > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> someone
> > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was
> back
> > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> > wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in
> a
> > reasonable timeframe.
> >
> > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> cannot
> > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will
> be
> > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> deciding
> > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> >
> > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> >
> > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> Conflict
> > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> > option remains.
> >
> > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> >
> > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint
> many
> > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or
> that
> > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> profile
> > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> > effective Trustee.
> >
> > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can
> do.
> > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to
> the
> > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
> >
> > Be bold,
> > Denny
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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] [recent changes]

Gnangarra
This is one inherrant problem with COI those who get stuff done are forced
to sit out discussions in preference for those who spend all their time
talking and producing nothing. What we end up with is not leadership, its
not project experience, its bureaucracy with out any true direction  where
every idea that sounds good, that is well presented gets the go ahead with
no understanding of what it takes to make a project work. Because of that
we have KPI or metrics that satisfy the bureaucracy, force the organisors
to run by the numbers rather than focus on producing real impact results
over the longer term.

High impact long term projects take considerable investment of time over
time the dont happen in 3, 6, 12 month cycles, look at WLE & WLM its be
year in year out commitments by volunteers to build and expand but every
year they waste time seeking funding for the year this is where the Grant
process should take the lead and just assign a long term budget to be
managed by WMF financial staff and let the volunteers concentrate on having
impact. Wikidata is in the same boat, its the bureaucratic begging
processes that cost most of our volunteers time and produce the least
impact.

Denny's loss should be awake up call otherwise it'll be repeated
continously especially from community selected seats, some where along the
way we have created a bureaucracy at the expense of trust and assuming
people are acting in good faith for the betterment of the projects

On 11 April 2016 at 15:55, rupert THURNER <[hidden email]> wrote:

> For denny I see the situation simple and I am only able to write it as I
> read his clear email.
>
> First he is able to influence projects and general direction with his
> judgement and expertise.
>
> Second he has the expertise to get projects done.
>
> While I find it a real pity that we have less of first when he resigns I
> must admit that I consider second even more important. Choosing amongst
> proposals is easier than properly proposing. Especially if nobody steps up
> for something he feels should get done. For my part, I trust his expertise.
>
> I admire and find exemplary denny showing backbone here, something we see
> not enough. Deciding on this trade off should be possible at any time
> appropriate,  I do consequently *not* see something went awry with denny,
> nor a problem with the process.
>
> One hole in the process seems to be there though. Should a replacement be
> voted now or just the old result be taken. As the situation is new for
> every participant I tend to favour a vote.
>
> Rupert
> On Apr 11, 2016 07:56, "jytdog" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Here is a response to Denny's resignation; his email has been sticking to
> > me.   To provide some context for what follows, I work a lot on COI and
> > advocacy issues in Wikipedia, and worked on COI issues professionally at
> a
> > university for the past 15 years.
> >
> > The limitations created by managing or eliminating Denny's various
> > conflicts of interest, appear to have been surprising to Denny, and were
> > definitely frustrating for him.
> >
> > Surprising and frustrating.  This is perhaps the result of a lack of
> > process.
> >
> > The WMF might want to consider putting in place a system of disclosing
> and
> > managing conflicts of interest for Trustees, before they actually join
> the
> > board, so that conflict management issues are both clear and acceptable
> to
> > the new Trustee and the Board at the start.
> >
> > The process could be the same as it is in many sectors -  a confidential
> > disclosure of relevant interests, identification of possible and
> perceived
> > conflicts between those interests and the obligations of a Trustee, and
> > then creation of a plan to manage those conflicts (and identification of
> > areas where the conflicts can't be managed but need to be eliminated by
> > recusal).  All done before the person actually joins the board.
> >
> > Once the person joins, the relevant external interests could be disclosed
> > at the board member's profile on the WMF board webpage.  The additional
> > step of publishing an outline of the management plan (at the same
> location)
> > would be something very useful in light of the high value that WMF staff
> > and the movement places on transparency.
> >
> > Please consider that.  And please pardon me if this is already done, but
> > something went awry with Denny.
> >
> > Thanks.
> >
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 2:17 PM, Denny Vrandecic <
> [hidden email]>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> > >
> > > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> > > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to
> act
> > > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being
> > able
> > > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would
> > align
> > > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> > > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my
> considerations
> > > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of
> interests
> > -
> > > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> > > employment.
> > >
> > > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to
> deal
> > > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> > > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> > > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case,
> and
> > > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
> > >
> > > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> > > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and
> > even
> > > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had
> > to
> > > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> > >
> > > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> > > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by
> Google.
> > I
> > > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> > > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> > > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the
> feeling
> > > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither
> was
> > > the case.
> > >
> > > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> > appropriate
> > > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his
> advice,
> > > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> > >
> > > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> > > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee
> I
> > > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read
> as
> > > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> > writing
> > > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
> > >
> > > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had
> lunch
> > > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> > > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that
> only
> > > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to
> the
> > > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to
> > do
> > > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> > someone
> > > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> > > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was
> > back
> > > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> > > wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> > > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade
> later,
> > > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not
> in
> > a
> > > reasonable timeframe.
> > >
> > > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> > cannot
> > > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest
> will
> > be
> > > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do
> see
> > > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> > deciding
> > > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> > > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> > >
> > > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> > > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> > > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures
> against
> > > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> > >
> > > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> > Conflict
> > > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> > > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> > > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> > > option remains.
> > >
> > > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> > >
> > > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier
> by
> > > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint
> > many
> > > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> > > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or
> > that
> > > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> > profile
> > > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> > > effective Trustee.
> > >
> > > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a
> wikibreak.
> > > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and
> implement
> > > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will
> be,
> > > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can
> > do.
> > > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to
> > the
> > > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
> > >
> > > Be bold,
> > > Denny
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > 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>
> _______________________________________________
> 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>
>



--
GN.
President Wikimedia Australia
WMAU: http://www.wikimedia.org.au/wiki/User:Gnangarra
Photo Gallery: http://gnangarra.redbubble.com
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Brill Lyle
Thanks for the response, Pine. I don't know if I agree with your assessment
re: resigning being the solution, but I am as not fully versed in many of
the details as you are obviously. I see this resignation as a real loss to
the community, and hope that possibly going forward there might be
alternatives to what seems to be a very torturous experience for
well-meaning, smart and talented folks who have only helped our community.

You bring up the business world, which is rife with conflicts of interests.
I have a background working in investment banking so I found that sort of
funny. They do a pretty terrible job of this -- see #PanamaPapers, people
sitting on boards, etc.... :-) So self-recusing seems sort of inadequate
and impractical...

I am obviously very new to all of this, but as I have come to learn more
about the Wikimedia family of projects, I have noticed that there is at
least one high profile public figure who "makes his living" off his
connection to Wikipedia -- Jimmy Wales -- which if that's not a conflict of
interest, well I don't know what is....

And then there are various chapters that have paid staff, as well as
Wikimedia Foundation staff, who all what, stop editing once they become
paid?

Our local chapter here in New York City is starting to work with the WMF to
have annual grant-funded project positions, and as someone who is active in
the chapter's organization and event administration as well as a person who
is going to apply for one of the positions, this issue of conflict of
interest is a real stumbling block.

The issue is: Do I do a massive amount of free digital labor as a volunteer
(COI free) or do I get paid to do this work (COI rife)? Being paid seems
only fair, especially in contrast to country chapters who have as many
events as we do, and can rely upon paid staff to implement programming,
planning, and events. But being paid is a minefield of nightmarishness if
COI is applied harshly. It will completely affect the outcome of what can
be accomplished and done. Will pretty much completely handicap many of the
ideas I have to improve much of our work process.

But more on topic: I agree with Gnangarra here.... VERY well said.

This seems to be very true, which I have noticed on our chapter level as
well as on the larger WMF level. Denny realized he couldn't wait to start
and create Wikidata. If he didn't do it then it wouldn't have gotten done.
Without his expertise and skillsets -- which come from his professional
experience -- this would not have come to fruition. It is all inextricably
entwined. Quite frankly, to focus on bureaucracy over innovation is a sure
path towards death of all the great stuff that is possible around here. It
is riskier, because it relies upon people sticking their neck out and being
bold, but it's much better for our community than all of these flipping
rules and regulations weighing us down.

Fascinating discussion.

- Erika

*Erika Herzog*
Wikipedia *User:BrillLyle* <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:BrillLyle>
Secretary, Wikimedia NYC
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/NYC>


On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 4:17 AM, Gnangarra <[hidden email]> wrote:

> This is one inherrant problem with COI those who get stuff done are forced
> to sit out discussions in preference for those who spend all their time
> talking and producing nothing. What we end up with is not leadership, its
> not project experience, its bureaucracy with out any true direction  where
> every idea that sounds good, that is well presented gets the go ahead with
> no understanding of what it takes to make a project work. Because of that
> we have KPI or metrics that satisfy the bureaucracy, force the organisors
> to run by the numbers rather than focus on producing real impact results
> over the longer term.
>
> High impact long term projects take considerable investment of time over
> time the dont happen in 3, 6, 12 month cycles, look at WLE & WLM its be
> year in year out commitments by volunteers to build and expand but every
> year they waste time seeking funding for the year this is where the Grant
> process should take the lead and just assign a long term budget to be
> managed by WMF financial staff and let the volunteers concentrate on having
> impact. Wikidata is in the same boat, its the bureaucratic begging
> processes that cost most of our volunteers time and produce the least
> impact.
>
> Denny's loss should be awake up call otherwise it'll be repeated
> continously especially from community selected seats, some where along the
> way we have created a bureaucracy at the expense of trust and assuming
> people are acting in good faith for the betterment of the projects
>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Andrea Zanni-2
In reply to this post by Pine W
>>>I feel that Denny's decision to resign makes sense, and in no way does
this
>>>decision put a cloud over his continued involvement in our community.

Pine,
I don't necessarily disagree with you,
but you are doing a very common mistake in the Wikimedia world:
you are not taking into account people's emotions.
Making an hard decision always takes its toll, and it's all but granted
that someone wants to stay
in the same community that lacked trust in him and stressed him out for
weeks.
I personally trusted him, I felt the pain in his messages to this list in
the last months, and I'm sad he has to leave
from what I thought was an important decisive role.

Aubrey



On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 9:12 AM, Pine W <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Brill,
>
> Speaking generally (meaning, not in regard to the specific situation of
> Denny), conflict of interest issues do happen on a regular basis. In my
> experience, we also generally handle them well.
>
> Having numerous business relationships and interests is common in the
> business world. Many times when there is a conflict of interest issue, it's
> sufficient to recuse from particular discussions. Sometimes, the best
> course of action is to resign from one role or another.
>
> Regarding Denny's situation specifically, after leaving the WMF board, he
> may provide valuable input and may in some ways be more effective because
> he will have stepped away from numerous COI issues.
>
> I feel that Denny's decision to resign makes sense, and in no way does this
> decision put a cloud over his continued involvement in our community.
>
> There are many problems in the Wikimedia universe, but I think that our COI
> policies are generally sound.
>
> Pine
>
>
>
> On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 6:48 AM, Brill Lyle <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I find this issue of Conflict of Interest exceedingly problematic.
> >
> > Almost every person working and living today will have a conflict of
> > interest somehow, especially as one becomes a contributor to any of the
> > Wikimedia projects, gets to know people, tries to organize events or
> > promote the value of Wikipedia, Wikimedia, etc. Or if you work in any
> field
> > that specializes in anything online or technical. It is an impossible
> > situation.
> >
> > I think that Wikimedia deals with this very badly -- and obviously at
> great
> > personal cost to talented, giving people. I am sorry.
> >
> > And to the bigger problem: Wikimedia loses a smart person who has loads
> of
> > ideas and expertise -- and is a contributor to Wikidata (one of the best
> &
> > most exciting projects to be visited upon Wikimedia) because of this
> arcane
> > and quite frankly needing to be re-evaluated rule? I see this as one of
> the
> > many problems of Wikimedia.
> >
> > EVERYONE has conflict of interest. We need the smartest and brightest
> minds
> > out there to contribute whatever they willingly can and will do on a
> > volunteer basis. How can they not have connections to the real world as
> > well as to online? Do we expect volunteers to be in their bunkers
> > somewhere, siloed from the world, that these clean folks are the ones to
> > move Wikimedia forward? It's laughable.
> >
> > One thing Wikimedia seems to do quite well is torture people who want to
> > contribute by rules and policies that I think, quite frankly, are
> > unworkable.
> >
> > Requiring some sort of absolute clean Conflict of Interest is an
> impossible
> > ideal. It is also obviously hurting the community.
> >
> > There is much change happening. I think it's an opportunity for newbies
> > such as myself as well as folks with longer views to make things better.
> Or
> > these mistakes will continue to plague the Wikimedia community -- and we
> > will all lose out.
> >
> > - Erika
> > *Erika Herzog*
> > Wikipedia *User:BrillLyle* <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:BrillLyle
> >
> >
> >
> > On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 2:28 AM, Gerard Meijssen <
> [hidden email]
> > >
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Hoi,
> > > Denny I am sorry to have lost a friend who is on the board but I am
> happy
> > > to welcome back a friend who can now express his ideas, his notions,
> his
> > > opposition, his point of view. Yes you work for Google. For me it means
> > > that you are again in an unique position to be an ambassador for both
> > > Google and WMF in either domain.
> > >
> > > You may have gained friends while on the board, the one sad thing is
> that
> > > it came at a huge cost to you personally. Nevermind what you do, I
> trust
> > > you to do well.
> > > Thanks,
> > >         Gerard
> > >
> > > On 8 April 2016 at 20:17, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> > > >
> > > > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order
> to
> > > > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to
> > act
> > > > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of
> being
> > > able
> > > > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would
> > > align
> > > > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> > > > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my
> > considerations
> > > > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of
> > interests
> > > -
> > > > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my
> current
> > > > employment.
> > > >
> > > > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to
> > deal
> > > > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my
> Best
> > > > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> > > > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case,
> > and
> > > > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the
> FDC.
> > > >
> > > > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived
> as a
> > > > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and
> > > even
> > > > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I
> had
> > > to
> > > > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> > > >
> > > > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being
> merely
> > > > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by
> > Google.
> > > I
> > > > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> > > > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and
> experiences,
> > > > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the
> > feeling
> > > > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither
> > was
> > > > the case.
> > > >
> > > > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> > > appropriate
> > > > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his
> > advice,
> > > > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> > > >
> > > > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards
> my
> > > > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a
> Trustee
> > I
> > > > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > > > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be
> read
> > as
> > > > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> > > writing
> > > > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a
> goal.
> > > >
> > > > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had
> > lunch
> > > > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me
> an
> > > > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that
> > only
> > > > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to
> > the
> > > > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted
> to
> > > do
> > > > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> > > someone
> > > > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed
> and
> > > > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik
> was
> > > back
> > > > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> > > > wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to
> happen
> > > > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade
> > later,
> > > > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not
> > in
> > > a
> > > > reasonable timeframe.
> > > >
> > > > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> > > cannot
> > > > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest
> > will
> > > be
> > > > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do
> > see
> > > > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> > > deciding
> > > > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata
> as a
> > > > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > > > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> > > >
> > > > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > > > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of
> actual
> > > > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful.
> It
> > > > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures
> > against
> > > > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> > > >
> > > > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> > > Conflict
> > > > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> > > > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> > > > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> > > > option remains.
> > > >
> > > > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> > > >
> > > > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier
> > by
> > > > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will
> disappoint
> > > many
> > > > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> > > > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or
> > > that
> > > > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> > > profile
> > > > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes
> an
> > > > effective Trustee.
> > > >
> > > > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a
> > wikibreak.
> > > > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and
> > implement
> > > > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will
> > be,
> > > > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I
> can
> > > do.
> > > > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable
> to
> > > the
> > > > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
> > > >
> > > > Be bold,
> > > > Denny
> > > > _______________________________________________
> > > > 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>
> > >
> > _______________________________________________
> > 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] [recent changes]

Anthony Cole
Just for the record, I raised the conflict of interest issue with Denny in
more than one venue - a Signpost discussion and (I think) here, and I
discussed it in other places. I never suggested he was a mole for Google
and I'm not aware of anyone who did - though I may have missed or
forgotten.

Google's "info boxes" and their answers at the top of their results, we're
all agreed now, I think, are impacting Wikipedia's page views and,
consequently, our ability to raise funds and recruit new volunteers. This
was described by Jimmy as an existential threat to the movement recently.
Denny is involved in those aspects of Google's operations. This is a
profound conflict of interest.

Denny is also a main thought leader behind Wikidata, and will have serious
biases concerning its priority.

These interests and involvements (Wikidata  and Google) are a good fit with
each other and we're lucky to have someone with Denny's ability and
integrity bridging the two. But it's just untenable for him to sit on the
board of trustees while he's in those roles.



Anthony Cole


On Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 4:59 AM, Andrea Zanni <[hidden email]>
wrote:

> >>>I feel that Denny's decision to resign makes sense, and in no way does
> this
> >>>decision put a cloud over his continued involvement in our community.
>
> Pine,
> I don't necessarily disagree with you,
> but you are doing a very common mistake in the Wikimedia world:
> you are not taking into account people's emotions.
> Making an hard decision always takes its toll, and it's all but granted
> that someone wants to stay
> in the same community that lacked trust in him and stressed him out for
> weeks.
> I personally trusted him, I felt the pain in his messages to this list in
> the last months, and I'm sad he has to leave
> from what I thought was an important decisive role.
>
> Aubrey
>
>
>
> On Sun, Apr 10, 2016 at 9:12 AM, Pine W <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Brill,
> >
> > Speaking generally (meaning, not in regard to the specific situation of
> > Denny), conflict of interest issues do happen on a regular basis. In my
> > experience, we also generally handle them well.
> >
> > Having numerous business relationships and interests is common in the
> > business world. Many times when there is a conflict of interest issue,
> it's
> > sufficient to recuse from particular discussions. Sometimes, the best
> > course of action is to resign from one role or another.
> >
> > Regarding Denny's situation specifically, after leaving the WMF board, he
> > may provide valuable input and may in some ways be more effective because
> > he will have stepped away from numerous COI issues.
> >
> > I feel that Denny's decision to resign makes sense, and in no way does
> this
> > decision put a cloud over his continued involvement in our community.
> >
> > There are many problems in the Wikimedia universe, but I think that our
> COI
> > policies are generally sound.
> >
> > Pine
> >
> >
> >
> > On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 6:48 AM, Brill Lyle <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
> >
> > > I find this issue of Conflict of Interest exceedingly problematic.
> > >
> > > Almost every person working and living today will have a conflict of
> > > interest somehow, especially as one becomes a contributor to any of the
> > > Wikimedia projects, gets to know people, tries to organize events or
> > > promote the value of Wikipedia, Wikimedia, etc. Or if you work in any
> > field
> > > that specializes in anything online or technical. It is an impossible
> > > situation.
> > >
> > > I think that Wikimedia deals with this very badly -- and obviously at
> > great
> > > personal cost to talented, giving people. I am sorry.
> > >
> > > And to the bigger problem: Wikimedia loses a smart person who has loads
> > of
> > > ideas and expertise -- and is a contributor to Wikidata (one of the
> best
> > &
> > > most exciting projects to be visited upon Wikimedia) because of this
> > arcane
> > > and quite frankly needing to be re-evaluated rule? I see this as one of
> > the
> > > many problems of Wikimedia.
> > >
> > > EVERYONE has conflict of interest. We need the smartest and brightest
> > minds
> > > out there to contribute whatever they willingly can and will do on a
> > > volunteer basis. How can they not have connections to the real world as
> > > well as to online? Do we expect volunteers to be in their bunkers
> > > somewhere, siloed from the world, that these clean folks are the ones
> to
> > > move Wikimedia forward? It's laughable.
> > >
> > > One thing Wikimedia seems to do quite well is torture people who want
> to
> > > contribute by rules and policies that I think, quite frankly, are
> > > unworkable.
> > >
> > > Requiring some sort of absolute clean Conflict of Interest is an
> > impossible
> > > ideal. It is also obviously hurting the community.
> > >
> > > There is much change happening. I think it's an opportunity for newbies
> > > such as myself as well as folks with longer views to make things
> better.
> > Or
> > > these mistakes will continue to plague the Wikimedia community -- and
> we
> > > will all lose out.
> > >
> > > - Erika
> > > *Erika Herzog*
> > > Wikipedia *User:BrillLyle* <
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:BrillLyle
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 2:28 AM, Gerard Meijssen <
> > [hidden email]
> > > >
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > Hoi,
> > > > Denny I am sorry to have lost a friend who is on the board but I am
> > happy
> > > > to welcome back a friend who can now express his ideas, his notions,
> > his
> > > > opposition, his point of view. Yes you work for Google. For me it
> means
> > > > that you are again in an unique position to be an ambassador for both
> > > > Google and WMF in either domain.
> > > >
> > > > You may have gained friends while on the board, the one sad thing is
> > that
> > > > it came at a huge cost to you personally. Nevermind what you do, I
> > trust
> > > > you to do well.
> > > > Thanks,
> > > >         Gerard
> > > >
> > > > On 8 April 2016 at 20:17, Denny Vrandecic <[hidden email]>
> > > > wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> > > > >
> > > > > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order
> > to
> > > > > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have
> to
> > > act
> > > > > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of
> > being
> > > > able
> > > > > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think
> would
> > > > align
> > > > > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too
> many
> > > > > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my
> > > considerations
> > > > > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of
> > > interests
> > > > -
> > > > > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my
> > current
> > > > > employment.
> > > > >
> > > > > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to
> > > deal
> > > > > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my
> > Best
> > > > > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the
> previous
> > > > > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this
> case,
> > > and
> > > > > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the
> > FDC.
> > > > >
> > > > > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived
> > as a
> > > > > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer,
> and
> > > > even
> > > > > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I
> > had
> > > > to
> > > > > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> > > > >
> > > > > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being
> > merely
> > > > > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by
> > > Google.
> > > > I
> > > > > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had
> the
> > > > > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and
> > experiences,
> > > > > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the
> > > feeling
> > > > > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is,
> neither
> > > was
> > > > > the case.
> > > > >
> > > > > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> > > > appropriate
> > > > > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his
> > > advice,
> > > > > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> > > > >
> > > > > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step
> towards
> > my
> > > > > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a
> > Trustee
> > > I
> > > > > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > > > > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be
> > read
> > > as
> > > > > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> > > > writing
> > > > > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a
> > goal.
> > > > >
> > > > > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had
> > > lunch
> > > > > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me
> > an
> > > > > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that
> > > only
> > > > > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead
> to
> > > the
> > > > > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I
> wanted
> > to
> > > > do
> > > > > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> > > > someone
> > > > > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed
> > and
> > > > > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik
> > was
> > > > back
> > > > > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> > > > > wikidata.org), and he was deputy director. Things were bound to
> > happen
> > > > > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade
> > > later,
> > > > > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least
> not
> > > in
> > > > a
> > > > > reasonable timeframe.
> > > > >
> > > > > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> > > > cannot
> > > > > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest
> > > will
> > > > be
> > > > > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I
> do
> > > see
> > > > > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> > > > deciding
> > > > > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata
> > as a
> > > > > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > > > > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> > > > >
> > > > > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > > > > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of
> > actual
> > > > > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful.
> > It
> > > > > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures
> > > against
> > > > > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> > > > >
> > > > > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> > > > Conflict
> > > > > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of
> the
> > > > > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the
> first
> > > > > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the
> third
> > > > > option remains.
> > > > >
> > > > > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> > > > >
> > > > > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any
> easier
> > > by
> > > > > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will
> > disappoint
> > > > many
> > > > > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am
> sorry,
> > > > > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now,
> or
> > > > that
> > > > > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> > > > profile
> > > > > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that
> makes
> > an
> > > > > effective Trustee.
> > > > >
> > > > > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a
> > > wikibreak.
> > > > > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and
> > > implement
> > > > > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I
> will
> > > be,
> > > > > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I
> > can
> > > > do.
> > > > > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable
> > to
> > > > the
> > > > > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
> > > > >
> > > > > Be bold,
> > > > > Denny
> > > > > _______________________________________________
> > > > > 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>
> > > >
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > 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] [recent changes]

MZMcBride-2
Anthony Cole wrote:
>Google's "info boxes" and their answers at the top of their results, we're
>all agreed now, I think, are impacting Wikipedia's page views and,
>consequently, our ability to raise funds and recruit new volunteers.

Google and others have a direct interest in their data being accurate and
reliable. We already see that Google has a "report a correction" feature
for some of its services. It's in both Wikimedia's interest and re-users'
interest for the underlying data source to be update-to-date and correct.

Our mission is to spread free educational content to the world and we make
our data available for re-use for this purpose. Shouldn't we be applauding
Google and others for helping us share our knowledge with the world?

As far as threats to direct-to-user fund-raising go, I'd put
organizational instability ahead of Google at the moment. The Wikimedia
Foundation has repeatedly been in the news lately for ongoing management
issues, both in its executive team and in its board of trustees.

What size do you think the Wikimedia Foundation should be in terms of
yearly budget and number of full-time employees? How much bigger or
smaller should the Wikimedia Foundation be than other Wikimedia chapters?

Even if we accepted your premise that Google was impacting Wikipedia's
page views and the ability to raise funds and recruit new volunteers
(citations needed, to be sure), are you sure that we're all agreed that
this is problematic? If others re-using our content has a side effect
of reducing donations to Wikimedia Foundation Inc., donations which are
received through questionable and increasingly obnoxious on-site
advertisements, you will not find universal agreement that this donor
reduction would be terrible. As others have argued previously, small and
recurring donations are a means of providing accountability for the
entities entrusted with these monetary donations. If potential donors no
longer trust the Wikimedia Foundation to manage and distribute this
money, no longer donating financially is practical and wise.

If Google causes page views to go down and our sites are directly hit less
frequently, that actually saves us money, doesn't it? We're theoretically
then off-loading some of our hosting costs to Google, Facebook, and
others who are downloading and re-uploading our data to the Web, exactly
as we mandated that anyone be able to do. With multiple copies of the data
on the Web, we're better ensuring that the content lives on in perpetuity.

 
MZMcBride



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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [recent changes]

Anthony Cole
I agree with all of that, MZ. As to your questions:

"Shouldn't we be applauding Google and others for helping us share our
knowledge with the world?"

Yes.

"What size do you think the Wikimedia Foundation should be in terms of yearly
budget and number of full-time employees? How much bigger or smaller should
the Wikimedia Foundation be than other Wikimedia chapters?"

It depends on what we want them to do.

"...are you sure that we're all agreed that this [Google impacting
Wikipedia's
page views and the ability to raise funds and recruit new volunteers] is
problematic?"

I'm less concerned than many, and I'm sure others are unconcerned.

"If Google causes page views to go down and our sites are directly hit
less frequently,
that actually saves us money, doesn't it?"

If our page views drop by 50% and this halves our fundraising capacity, I
doubt that would be offset by the saved hosting costs. But I'm no expert on
these things.


Anthony Cole


On Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 11:46 AM, MZMcBride <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Anthony Cole wrote:
> >Google's "info boxes" and their answers at the top of their results, we're
> >all agreed now, I think, are impacting Wikipedia's page views and,
> >consequently, our ability to raise funds and recruit new volunteers.
>
> Google and others have a direct interest in their data being accurate and
> reliable. We already see that Google has a "report a correction" feature
> for some of its services. It's in both Wikimedia's interest and re-users'
> interest for the underlying data source to be update-to-date and correct.
>
> Our mission is to spread free educational content to the world and we make
> our data available for re-use for this purpose. Shouldn't we be applauding
> Google and others for helping us share our knowledge with the world?
>
> As far as threats to direct-to-user fund-raising go, I'd put
> organizational instability ahead of Google at the moment. The Wikimedia
> Foundation has repeatedly been in the news lately for ongoing management
> issues, both in its executive team and in its board of trustees.
>
> What size do you think the Wikimedia Foundation should be in terms of
> yearly budget and number of full-time employees? How much bigger or
> smaller should the Wikimedia Foundation be than other Wikimedia chapters?
>
> Even if we accepted your premise that Google was impacting Wikipedia's
> page views and the ability to raise funds and recruit new volunteers
> (citations needed, to be sure), are you sure that we're all agreed that
> this is problematic? If others re-using our content has a side effect
> of reducing donations to Wikimedia Foundation Inc., donations which are
> received through questionable and increasingly obnoxious on-site
> advertisements, you will not find universal agreement that this donor
> reduction would be terrible. As others have argued previously, small and
> recurring donations are a means of providing accountability for the
> entities entrusted with these monetary donations. If potential donors no
> longer trust the Wikimedia Foundation to manage and distribute this
> money, no longer donating financially is practical and wise.
>
> If Google causes page views to go down and our sites are directly hit less
> frequently, that actually saves us money, doesn't it? We're theoretically
> then off-loading some of our hosting costs to Google, Facebook, and
> others who are downloading and re-uploading our data to the Web, exactly
> as we mandated that anyone be able to do. With multiple copies of the data
> on the Web, we're better ensuring that the content lives on in perpetuity.
>
>
> MZMcBride
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at:
> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines
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> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
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