If you are usually logged in to your user account when you visit Wikipedia et al, you may have noticed this lately:
A call for candidates for the Wikimedia Foundation Board election. What is that? What do they do? Why would you want to be a candidate and what difference does the result make anyway?
The introductory notes say:
Being a Board member of a small organization like the Wikimedia Foundation, which faces immense challenges, can be time-consuming. The position is voluntary and unpaid. While board members are not expected to bring personal money to the organisation, they are welcome to help raise funds.
Board members are expected to attend at least 3–4 meetings per year in person, attend Wikimania (our annual conference), and attend other scheduled online meetings and votes. The Board communicates intensively via e-mail, wiki, and IRC. Individual trustees sometimes participate in strategic meetings with other organizations and companies, relaying results back to Board and staff.
Individual board members are expected to be involved in certain activities (such as fundraising, Wikimania, or auditing) and to help draft policies, charters and resolutions on such topics.
The election is to fill the first three slots in this graphic (also on Commons), the “community elected” seats:
So if you were elected, you’d be working with this lot. You should definitely also study the Staff page, because they are all the people who will actually be doing stuff. Other recommended reading: Values and Policies. The best overall guide should be the Board manual (and I hope it’s up to date!).
There are several bad reasons one might want to join the Board. They include:
- Wanting to change a project policy. Brrp! Do not pass Section 230. Do not collect $200. This is not something you do from the top, this is something you have to do the hard way — convincing the community. Yes, sometimes that is impossible. Sometimes with good reason; sometimes not.
- Take part in the community’s hardest RfA ever! Take a 100-to-1 longshot, just because you can! Go try become a bureaucrat or steward instead.
- Wanting to destroy the Wikimedia projects. Again, joining the Board is not going to get you far with this. Look at that diagram: everyone else there is working towards positive goals. If you seriously want to, say, shut down Wikipedia, you are not going to have enough influence to do it from there.
What is hard to see clearly at the moment is clear information about where the board is at and what its role is these days. There are lots of staff now, so being a board member is much more about setting the direction and stepping back to let the staff carry it out. In fact my guess is that the major task for the next board will be the strategic planning, for which several staff are being hired to carry out.
Questions (in order) that I will look for answers to among Board candidates are:
- Do they understand the role of the Board and how it differs to the role of the staff and the community?
- What does representing the community mean to them?
- What are some elements of their strategic vision for Wikimedia for the next 5 years?
- Do they have any particular skills or experience that will be valuable to the board?
- Do they contribute to the diversity of skills and experience on the board?
Currently with ten more days for candidates to announce themselves, there are 11 that have already done so. Some are
repeat offendersprevious candidates:
- Ad Huikeshoven (Dedalus) — ranked 5th of 15 in the 2008 election
- Dan Rosenthal (Swatjester) – ranked 10th
- Gregory Kohs (Thekohser) — ranked 15th
- Steve Smith (Sarcasticidealist) — ranked 8th
- Ting Chen (Wing) — ranked 1st (was elected :))
Now 2008 had 15 candidates for 1 position. With 3 positions up for election — on one hand I shudder at how many candidates there might end up with, but on the other, I’m disappointed to think we might not get enough good candidates. I would hate to see the community seats become a ghetto of the inexperienced/confused/axe-grinders.
For repeat candidates, my additional question will be: what’s changed? WMF has changed. Have you changed? Has your response or attitude changed? Or else has the community changed? If nothing’s changed, and the community did not previously give you significant support — why are you wasting our time?
Great blog about the election. I happened to blog as well about the election at Candidacy board member Wikimedia Foundation
My own candidacy is to allow people to challenge my position and/or challenge what has been going on in the Audit Committee over the past year. And beyond Stu there is currently no one at the board that is financial literate, or has sufficient interest in reviewing financial plans and financial reports. In a few days time you’ll read on foundation-l and internal-l what will happen to this years Audit Committee.
And Brianna, be honest, what is withholding you to nominate yourself? Wouldn’t you be a perfect candidate? One, your from a continent that is currently not represented on the board, two, you are a woman, so you should scream aloud that women are completely underrepresented at the board, three you’re a chapter president, four you’re deeply involved in Commons which will gather strategic attention by the board in the coming year, five you’re young, six you’re energetic, seven you’re involved in multiple projects like Greenspun and others, and eight you’re in need of someone to represent you at the board.
Love to hear from you,
Have a nice day,
— Ad Huikeshoven · 10. July 2009, 06:32
If only 15% of editors are women then maybe they are not so completely underrepresented. :P
Of course I want there to be good candidates for the election. We have seen in the past that actually some of the women elected from the community have been some of the best board members we have ever had. By writing a post like this I am trying to make it clearer what a candidate would be getting into, to try and encourage more people to stand.
I think “being a chapter president” is a reason NOT to try and be on the WMF board. I already have a board!
— pfctdayelise · 10. July 2009, 10:39
“Do not pass Section 230. Do not collect $200” cracked me up. Nice post.
— phoebe · 15. July 2009, 09:01
Brianna, may I adapt some of your questions for Signpost Q&A’s with candidates?
— Sage (User:Ragesoss) · 18. July 2009, 06:56
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