In a message dated 12/30/2007 8:06:15 AM Eastern Standard Time,
I see no reason why any decision for transitions to Board or Staff
should not be made on its merits until a specific policy governing
such transitions in place. We're in the middle of a relocation and the
setup of a new office, and part of Sue's desire to bring me in is to
have me help with the orientation of new staff: These goals would be
impeded by waiting for 6 months to join.
We are not talking about a complete restriction of such transitions,
after all, only about a delay; if the discussion had focused on
eliminating even the possibility of Board members joining the staff or
vice versa, it would be much more problematic.
Perhaps so, but I can only go by what I see in the minutes, which you, as
Executive Secretary, presumably took:
4) Employees elected to the Board
Brief discussion about whether there should be a waiting period for former
employees / former Board members interested in running in a Board election or
becoming part of the staff.
* Jan-Bart, Erik, Frieda, Florence: symmetrical 6 months waiting period
* Kat: 6 months waiting period for Board members only
Nowhere in the proposal does it say "on its merits" or "unless
inconvenient." The discussion, which you seeming supported, was precisely about a "delay."
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In a message dated 12/29/2007 10:16:32 PM Eastern Standard Time,
How would Board members then be chosen? I believe that the answer is a
mechanism many non-profits use: a Nominating Committee. This committee
should be made up of people who are neither Board nor Staff members,
who represent both managerial competence and community values.
While there is much to say about your entire post, since it is rather long,
I will focus on this point. Previously, you hinted at a rejection the idea of
community elections, i.e., the community does not choose. Now you are adding
to this that neither Board nor Staff choose.
Who is left? Outsiders? Large donors? Wikilovers? My Aunt Gertrude? As for
the ED participating in the selection process, the ED answers to the Board and
serves at the Board's pleasure. It would seem inappropriate to have said ED
then determine whom to pleasure.
Peace, love, and purview,
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It was already mentionned several times and I would like to revive that
and really finalize it.
I really do think we need this wikicouncil type of thing. I know it will
never be the perfect thing for everyone. I know there will always be
complains that this project or that language is not represented enough.
Still, I do believe it will be more beneficial than the current situation.
In most big projects, sub-groups have been created over time, such as
Admin groups or arbcom groups. Interprojects, sub-groups have also been
created, such as stewards.
We need, badly, a way to get a feeling of what communities think.
Foundation list does not provide this. Meta does not provide this. We
really can not do project wide polls any more as we did back in 2004.
One way out of this is to gather a group of representatives, in the same
way that parliaments can represent citizens, and give to this group a
certain authority to make decisions on behalf of the wikimedians. There
are many cases right now where either these decisions are made by the
board (and I do not think the board should do that), or by random
sub-groups, or by ... no one.
I envision for it roles such as
* defining and deciding policies projects wide - such as steward
policies, oversight-policies, checkusers-policies. Giving the final
stamp of approval of stewards
* defining the eligibility rules for candidates or voters to the
elections of the board of WMF
* deciding of the rules for opening or closing new languages
* being the body being polled for various changes proposed by WMF
* proposing projects and looking for funds (from chapters or wmf)
The limits of what this group could do is only our imagination, and the
willingness of its members. It should not be advisory only, but have
authority as well.
Benefits would also be more transparency, more control by the community
(as opposed to official organization), easier way to communicate both
ways between wmf and communities.
The council can be pretty large. Actually, it should be pretty large.
I know some members expressed interest to work on such a proposition.
Those who are interested, please contact me privately and we'll start
working on that in january.
"the answer could [...] be" is not "the answer is"...
I believe that the question Erik raises is a very important one, especially
in view of the recent questions that have been raised about the role of the
board, and about the role of a wikicouncil that is or is not to be founded.
It might be that the communities answer to Eriks question would lead to a
change in the bylaws, so it seems to me that it is not very relevant what
the current situation is.
Personally, I like the idea of the board making a proposal about the
licensing reform, and the community accepting or rejecting it.
Erik Moeller wrote:
> > Should a decision like the licensing reform have been made by
> > - the Board
> > - the Executive Director in consultation with her staff
> > - a Wikicouncil
> > - the entire community?
> > I think that question should be open to debate -- and to me the answer
> > could very well be, in future: "The ED in consultation with staff,
> > experts, and Wikicouncil members" or "The community through a
> > project-wide vote".
> According the bylaws, the board is in charge of strategic decisions, and
> the staff is here to implement.
> So, the answer is "the board in consultation with wikicouncil members"
> or "the board through a project-wide vote".
> Examples of decisions I see as strategic
> * changing the license of any of our projects
> * opening new projects
> * closing projects
> * changing names of projects
> * giving exclusive rights on our trademarks to anyone
> * putting advertisement on our projects
> * make access to our content not free of charge
> * stop providing dumps of our content
> And a few others
Hi. It occurred to me that the Board resolution on Licensing of media files
does not talk about those non-free images copyrighted by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Wikimedia Foundation's copyrighted images. I am talking images
that are found under [[Category:CopyrightByWikimedia]], for example, on
I can think of each project somehow defining scope, acceptable use, etc. of
these non-free images in their EDP. Unlike other images based on things like
fair use, the Foundation-related images would be allowed even when it is not
used in any article. It could be non-critical. A whole new section on an EDP,
for many different projects.
But a much simpler solution is for the Board to amend the resolution
to exclude these images altogether from the scope of the Licensing Policy,
I think. How does that sound?
By the way, are those images supposed to be individually reviewed and
its use authorized by the Foundation? I have an impression that it is the case.
Sorry for this late reply; I have just noticed the existence of this thread.
"...is not nearly so important as ..."
It is not you to tell others in which language a wikimedian should contribute.
Everybody decides for herself. Wiki is made by volunteers.
> On small languages, it should be remembered that the Wikimedia
> projects have the potential to save some small languages. There are
> hundreds of languages under threat right around the globe (see
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_endangered_languages) many of
> which will soon be lost as the last remaining native speakers die out.
> I think the seriousness of this situation drives a good slice of the
> prejudice against wikis for conlangs with a dozen or two speakers that
> are stuffed full of bot translations.
This, i think, is one of the most important points to be made:
Wikipedia could really serve not just as an encyclopedia, but as a
record of a language. for small and endangered languages, the
Wikipedia for that language may be one of the only written records of
Preservation of small conlangs is not nearly so important as the
preservation of small natural languages. Of course, this all ignores
the question of whether the WMF should be in the business of language
preservation. Although, I think that if it were a goal that we set out
to perform, we could probably get some funding for that purpose
Thank you SJ, for your e-mail, it states exactly how I feel. I have been
greatly disturbed with the way we (?) appear to be dealing with formal
things nowadays. I have always felt that the Foundation was a very open
organisation, and people were trusted just because of that openness. The
last few weeks several people (that is, board and staff members of the
Foundation) have stated that the Foundation can't be that open and
transparent anymore, because we are growing up as an organisation. If the
secretiveness that has been displayed the last few weeks (months?) really is
a necessary part of growing up, I'd rather that we did not... However, I
don't think that growing up has anything to do with getting less
transparant. Rather the opposite: I believe that a professional organisation
can be more succesfull when it's transparant, because then it appears (and
is?) more trustworthy.
SJ Klein wrote:
A fairly long reply to Florence and Sebastian.
On Sat, 22 Dec 2007, Florence Devouard wrote:
> Being leaving you, I would like to share with you part of an article
> (which you may find in a rather famous encyclopedia). I invite all of
> you to read it carefully.
Thank you for sharing.
> Some organizations and networks, for example, Wikipedia, the GNU/Linux
> community and Indymedia, insist that not only the ordinary information
> of interest to the community is made freely available, but that all (or
> nearly all) meta-levels of organizing and decision-making are themselves
> also published. This is known as radical transparency.
> I think the last paragraph is interesting. Indeed, what some of you are
> asking is radical transparency at the organization level. And radical
> transparency is not really suitable for us
I regret that you feel this way. Are you deeply resolved that this is
right? You who always stood up for the rights of the unwanted on the
projects? The power of such transparency is being greatly undervalued --
indeed, even in this email on transparency, you do not once mention the
value of transparency explicitly. When did we start doubting this basic
I have always had the utmost faith in you as a board member, and then as
Chair, precisely because you have such a strong sense of openness and
propriety. So it disturbs me to read such muted overtones in this letter
Further on the earlier thread - Progress in working out when en:wn
should be used as a source in en:wp :-) Interested parties should go
to these pages.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Cool Hand Luke <failure.to.communicate(a)gmail.com>
Date: 25 Dec 2007 01:36
Subject: [WikiEN-l] When should Wikinews be a reliable source on Wikipedia?
A particular dispute over a Wikinews reporter citing quotes from his own
interview has turned into a generalized debate about when Wikinews should be
an acceptable source. See this RS/N
Jimbo has suggested that Wikinews create a best practices document.
BP-compliant articles would be verifiable and thus should be available to
Wikipedia editors as a reliable source. See this Wikinews water cooler
I think that this is a great solution, which would answer the continual
objections that Wikinews faces on our project. However, more editors should
User:Cool Hand Luke
WikiEN-l mailing list
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We're trying out a new fundraising site:
Big thanks to Frank Schulenburg from the German chapter, who designed
it, and to Tim Starling and Brion Vibber, who implemented it. Thanks
also to David Strauss and others who helped along the way. Special
thanks to PediaPress.com for creating a gift certificate PDF generator
on very short notice on a pro bono basis. :-)
Obviously this is too late to make a big difference, but parts of it
will hopefully be re-usable. There's still some work to be done --
translations, integrating chapter donation methods, etc. -- but I
think the core of it is sound. I'm copying Frank's rationale for the
design, and some more thoughts of my own below:
- - - - -
People love to hear stories. We have great stories to tell. I'm
convinced that people are more likely to donate after reading one of our
stories around Wikipedia. But we are talking about a webpage and
therefore our stories have to be short and they need to have a clear plot.
Just have a look at the example of Patricio Lorente. The story has four
1) Introduction of Patricio as a normal kind of guy. There seems to be
nothing unusual to tell about him.
2) Something happened in the life of Patricio. Something that changes
his attitude towards life in general.
3) Patricio gets involved with Wikipedia. He begins to do something very
special and useful.
4) You don't want him to stop his very special and useful work just as a
result of a lack of money, don't you? Donate.
Each story we are telling should have the same or a similar plot, but if
it's necessary you can change the sequence:
1) Jaan-Cornelius, one of millions of pupils on earth.
3) He does something very special.
2) Something happens (terrorist blasts) and Jaan-Cornelius' work
suddenly proves to be very useful.
4) You should donate to give him the opportunity to continue his work
(properly meaning: donate to keep the servers running)
In the next days and weeks we should collect as many good stories as we
can. Perhaps another example could be the story of one of our volunteers
who helps to keep the servers running. Or one of our technical staff who
cares about the usability of Wikipedia. Or one of our volunteers of the
e-mail support team...
We should jump at the chance and try to involve the communities. We all
know: Wikipedians love to get involved. They strongly dislike not being
asked. Let's have a posting at the village pump, illustrate our new
fundraising concept and ask the community members to tell us "their"
The fastest route to donate: let visitors enter the amount and the
currency on the _first_ page. Enable them to "donate now". Nobody likes
to click through four or five webpages before he gets the sign to
"donate now". Let's keep things simple.
As tax deductibility is a key interest for most of our donors we provide
a short text which points out that the Wikimedia Foundation is a tax
exempt charitable corporation. This part of the webpage is planned to be
variable. The dutch version should have a notice like "If you want to
deduct your donation from your taxable income please donate to Wikimedia
[Additional donation methods:]
What's the most common way to donate in the Netherlands? or in France?
At this part of the page we can provide information about how to deposit
money in our bank account, how to send a cheque, and so on...
That means: we really need information about the most common payment
options in each country. Perhaps Delphine as a chapter coordination can
help with that.
- - - - -
I might find some time over the holidays to work on some additional
stories for the site. But if you have any ideas yourself, feel free to
post them, to me or to the list. :-)
Technically, the entire design is served through a wiki, which
hopefully will make it reasonably straightforward to make changes as
Any feedback is appreciated. :-)
Happy holidays to all!