Contrary to the widespread meme that Americans are ignorant, [some of
the] US diplomatic cables are precious material for studying cultural
Building global movement requires reading documents about societies,
like this one  is. Analysis is fully accurate, although 7 years old
and some changes have happened in the mean time.
So, to understand the circumstances around building community or
chapter in particular country, I strongly suggest reading relevant
And, BTW, Wikipedia articles could be improved thanks to those cables.
We keep rehashing the same debates because to some extent we disagree on
what some of the issues are, what some of the questions mean and even what
some of the words mean.
For example you still use the word censorship when talking about the image
filter, now to me censorship is about somebody deciding for someone else
what they can or can't see or hear. As long as the image filter is about
enabling me to make choices about what I see then I don't consider that as
censorship, and I'm happy for others to also have that choice.
Yes the consultation was flawed. Asking people how important it was wasn't
helpful this time. That would be a great question if you didn't have
development resource for all the interesting projects IT could do and you
wanted people to give the relative importance of cross wiki watchlists, a
better spam filter, WYSIWYG editing and the image filter. But asking people
how important one particular project was without the context of other
projects was always going to have an element of one handed clapping about
There seems to be the assumption that people are divided between "It isn't
important - in fact we shouldn't be doing it at all" and "I've no intention
of using this myself but yes it really is important. Why didn't we do this
years ago?". But there will be some people who took the questions literally
and voted "It is really important, this will break the wiki. Now where's the
Oppose option?" or "It is completely unimportant to me as I won't use it,
but I have no objection to others having it if they want it".
I would hope that the developers will now be told to try and write something
that finesses as much as possible of the feedback.
But I do hope that when or if it is implemented there is some
anoymised/statistical monitoring of preferences so that people can earn
their PhDs comparing the filtering out and selection for image such as:
Warning not safe for work in some jurisdictions:
> I don't know why people are wigging out so badly about the image filter.
> > people want to use it, great, and if you don't, DON'T. But perhaps I'm
> > misunderstanding something about the idea. I voted for it, and it seems
> > people who dislike the idea are the only one's speaking out on the list.
> * There's nothing wrong with the filter program itself
> * The problem is with categorizing things to work with such a program.
> * This is called prejudicial labelling
> * AMA defines prejudicial labelling as "A censoring tool"
> * This definition has existed for over half a century.
> We also have huge discussions where it is explained in detail *why* and
> such categories can be used for censorship. We also have discussed how a
> category system that starts out innocent and neutral can be subverted to
> serve in a censorship role. No one has found solutions how to prevent that
> happening. AMA certainly hasn't been able to do so in the last 60 years. We
> might be smarter than AMA, but it's a hard problem.
> Kim Bruning
> I really wish people would read previous discussions.
As someone who is neither a WMF or a chapter board member it seems clear to
me that there is some tension between the chapters and the Foundation.
Increasing the mutual overlap of boards is a tried and tested way of
reducing such tension, it doesn't always work, (in wiki speak it isn't magic
pixie dust) and we are in this situation despite having two WMF members
nominated by the chapters. But it is an option and it is a governance model
that lots of organisations find works for them.
With our large ratio of chapters to Foundation, a top down model isn't
viable today and would get less viable in the future. As Ray has pointed
out, with 21 chapters the European patch alone would be a full time job.
I'd add that with chapters being created for major cities and with hundreds
of countries and major cities not yet having chapters, a system of the board
appointing representatives to the boards of chapters would not scale. At
best you'd have a system which broke down as the number of chapters grew, at
worst you'd have a UN Security Council style problem where the governance
fossilises the structure from one moment in time. Another practical issue of
scale is the cost, unpaid board members can't be expected to take on an
average of four chapters each and still be effective members of the board.
Either you'd wind up with the Foundation shifting to a paid full time board,
or appointing Foundation employees to the boards of chapters and burying the
Foundation agenda with their reports. Mixing paid and volunteer staff can be
problematic, especially if you want to combine a paid board member who is
not expected to do work as a board member with unpaid members who are.
But nominations to boards don't have to be top down, they can also be bottom
up. Clearly it would be a good idea to improve mutual understanding between
the Foundation and the chapters. We could increase the overlap between the
chapters and the Foundation by having more Chapter nominated seats on the
The current board structure is 1 Founder, 2 chapter nominations, 3 community
elected and 4 others, giving a total of 10. 10 is close to the upper limit
for an efficient committee, so you probably wouldn't want to increase the
number. But you could replace some of the "others" with more chapter
nominations. I can see a case for a 1, 4, 4 structure with Jimbo plus equal
representation from the chapters and the direct election. This would also
have the advantages of ending the seats for sale allegations and ensuring
that all board members were wikimedians. But a more modest reform and a
practical response to the current situation would be to change to a 1, 3, 3,
3 structure. This could be done in 2012 when two of the independent places
are up for renewal - http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:BoardChart
For all those who aren't aware, the Wikimedia Foundation is in the process
of hiring a Communications Consultant for its India operations. More
information is available here:
The section on compensation says:
"Compensation will be determined by level of expertise, experience and
The Wikimedia Foundation's Non Discrimination Policy says:
"The Wikimedia Foundation prohibits discrimination against current or
prospective users and employees on the basis of race, color, gender,
religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other
legally protected characteristics. The Wikimedia Foundation commits to the
principle of equal opportunity, especially in all aspects of employee
relations, including employment, salary administration, employee
development, promotion and transfer."
I would like to know if the Foundation compensates or is likely to
compensate its Indian contractors at par with the contractors in the United
States and elsewhere.
Also, according to a rule issued last year by the Ministry of External
Affairs, all foreign nationals employed in India must draw a salary of over
$25000 per annum in order to be eligible for an employment visa.
Considering this, would the Foundation be likely to hire foreign
contractors to be employed in India?
> Message: 7
Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2011 22:43:35 +0200
From: Ilario Valdelli <valdelli(a)gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Fwd: Wikimedia Brasil + WMF
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
On 02.09.2011 22:02, Michael Snow wrote:
> For those reading whose memories may not be quite long enough - I assume
> Florence is referring to Michael Davis here, not to me. The conflict of
> interest policy was adopted in 2006, before I was on the board. I just
> thought it would help to make the distinction explicit, as it wouldn't
> be the first time somebody has gotten us confused.
> Meanwhile, on the subject of mutual board appointments between chapters
> and the foundation, I figured I'd chime in as I helped push the idea for
> chapters to select foundation board members in the first place. For one
> thing, there's a very different power dynamic between the chapters
> collectively choosing a couple members of the foundation's board, and
> the foundation solely choosing a member of an individual chapter's
> board. The chapter-appointed seats cannot really be controlled outside
> of the selection process itself, so those board members can act as
> freely as their colleagues, and certainly no single chapter can force
> them to act in a particular way. This is partly by design, since the
> ultimate fiduciary obligations of those board members are still to the
> foundation rather than a chapter, and is why we emphasized that they are
> not necessarily being selected as "representatives" of the chapters.
> However, somebody appointed to a chapter board by the foundation would
> be directly answerable to the foundation, and it could be fairly easy to
> argue that they are an agent of the foundation. It undermines the
> organizational independence much more dramatically.
> If the point is to improve communication, then a more practical approach
> might be to designate "observers" who are not given authority but merely
> sit in with a chapter board. That's assuming that the chapter board
> level is one of the places where it makes the most sense to add a
> communication interface.
> --Michael Snow
It would have been sufficient to have some members that understand how
Every time I read some comments of WMF, I am really astonished that they
don't know the basis of the organization of the chapters.
I am really disturbed that every time WMF forget that a chapter is based
on bylaws and on General Assembly.
You make the assumption that it is the board of any chapter to take the
decisions, you forget (but is seems to be usual in WMF) that any
decision of the chapters board can be changed by the General Assembly
and that the board reports to the General Assembly who approves every
year the projects and the budget and the financial year. This is not a
choice of the chapters, but this is the legal consequence connected with
the local legal system (in Switzerland it's the Civil Code art.60).
The chapter is not the WMF where the board send out a letter, the
executive team "makes an interpretation" of the letter and the other
groups do what they have decided. The local chapter is based on the
It means that, to improve the communication, no one must seat in the
board, it is sufficient to participate in the discussion of the General
Assembly and it would be better to speak the local language to answer to
the members questions. The board will do what the General Assembly decides.
In the other hand what I really suggest is that the chapters MUST select
their WMF board members like "representatives" to fill up the gaps that
The problem of communication that WMF has, it's basically the lacking
knowledge of the chapters and to solve this problem probably WMF should
have a look inside itself.
Just to add to what Illario has said, I think it's important to remember
that most (if not all) chapters are run via a democratic system where the
entire board or committee is elected by its members. Appointing WMF members
to boards would obviously dilute that democratic accountability. Indeed, in
my chapter to have any power we'd have to change our constitution, and I
don't see our members being overly sympathetic to having a perceived
"unelected outsider" on the board making decisions. Unless the WMF
representatives are going to run for election in the normal fashion, or
unless they're going to be mute observers with no effective powers
whatsoever, I don't think this idea is practical at all.
The August 2011 issue of This Month in GLAM has been published.
This issue features news and happenings from:
- *USA*: The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Smithsonian Institution,
National Archives and Records Administration, outreach events, collaborative
article successes, upcoming conference appearances & scholarships, Wikipedia
Loves Libraries, Library Lab & more.
- *UK*: New partnership with the National Archives
- *Canada*: The success of Wikipedia Takes Montreal and the upcoming
Wikipedia <3 Libraries
- *Spain*: Joan Miro exhibition at the Tate with QRpedia, new partnership
with Mediterranean Museum.
- *Germany*: New partnership with the Hamburg Museum
- *Mexico*: Mexico City Wikipedia College Club participates in Children's
Museum of Indianapolis Edit-a-Thon from afar!
- *Israel*: New partnership with Israel Museum.
And a calendar of upcoming events!
Members of the community write this publication, so if you have
contributions to make, please participate. Translations encouraged.
GLAMWIKI Partnership Ambassador for the Wikimedia
Wikipedian-in-Residence, Archives of American
Sarah Stierch Consulting
*Historical, cultural & artistic research & advising.*
> Second, it might be some form of elitist outlook if you think accountability
> standards for US Non-profits are more transparent and fiscally responsible
> than say somewhere in EU like Germany, France or the Switzerland. I assure
> you, they are existent, not-minimal and more restrictive than the US.
I'm not contradicting (or necessarily agreeing) with other things you
say in this message, but I want to point out that transnational
transference of charitable funds is complicated no matter which
direction the money is flowing in. The real argument (in my personal
view, and not as a current or former representative of WMF) is not
that the rules for U.S. nonprofits are "more transparent and fiscally
responsible" than elsewhere. It's that the WMF is a U.S. nonprofit and
must (at minimum) operate under the U.S. rules. When you're looking at
multiple nonprofits (chapters) in many nations, which operate under a
range of differing regulatory rules about international transfers of
charitable funds, it is a non-trivial challenge to come up with a
single joint fundraising model that meets every nation's requirements.
So, when we discuss this issue, it's important that we recognize that
it's not a question of whose rules are "better," whose motives are
better, who is more trustworthy, etc. I believe it's appropriate for
everybody to continue Assuming Good Faith and to recognize that the
accountability/legality issue is a complicated one that requires a lot
of work to solve (and the solution may not be identical for every
cooperating chapter). Wikimedia Deutschland has invested a lot of
effort, for example, in developing a solution that works for the
German chapter, but the solution for another EU chapter (or for
chapters in the Global South or elsewhere) may look significantly
This is all further complicated by WMF's obligation to obey U.S. rules.
I'm reminded of the quotation commonly (if not entirely accurately)
attributed to Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as
possible, but no simpler.” (See