I’m writing to let you know that our VP of Human Resources, Boryana Dineva,
has decided to move on.
Boryana joined the Wikimedia Foundation last fall and quickly began working
with the HR team to build a recruiting team, hire a learning and
development lead, support the creation of a comprehensive wellness plan for
the upcoming year, and focus HR efforts on engaging with the findings of
the engagement survey.
Boryana connected on a personal level with many of you. She wanted me to
pass along her strong support for the future of the Foundation and our
mission. We thank her for her contributions and wish her well in her future
Starting today Joady Lohr will lead the Team Practices and Talent and
Culture department as interim director, joining the c-team. Joady has been
with the Foundation for 4 years now, and is known and trusted by many
across the organization. We’re looking forward to supporting her and the
rest of the team on ongoing projects during this interim period.
The executive team plans to open up a search for a new executive head of HR
to lead the Talent, Culture, and Team Practices teams right away.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to
Dear fellow Wikimedians,
I have been closely following the developments of the previous weeks. A lot
of things have been said, concerns and frustration have been raised, hope
has been voiced, and many many questions have been brought up. It’s hard to
keep up with all the voices on all the different digital channels these
days, and hard to find solutions and agreement in an unfacilitated stream.
The first chance for many of us to personally meet, vent, and look ahead
will be the the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin. Wikimedia Deutschland is
hosting the event, and welcoming movement affiliates, committees and board
and staff of the Wikimedia Foundation from April 20-24.
The movement is standing at a crossroad, but I am confident we can find the
best path if we work together. Wikimedia Deutschland has gone through
turbulent times in the past as well, and we would like to offer our
experience and full support as host and facilitator of an essential part of
this process. With your participation and contribution, Wikimedia
Conference can be a platform for exchange and progress.
Let us use this opportunity to jointly figure out how we want to move
forward as a network of partners. The conference is the ideal platform to
discuss and define next steps to find answers to questions like: How do we
imagine a movement striving for free knowledge and what structure and
framework best serve these needs? How do the WMF and affiliates define
their role and responsibilities on a global and local level? How shall an
revamped search process for a new executive leadership of the WMF look
like, and what are the main qualifications new candidates should bring? How
will the strategy process for the WMF evolve and how can affiliates
contribute? How do we involve our stakeholders from within and outside of
the movement in this process? How do we manage to look ahead rather than
repeating the old narratives? How do we create consensus on all these
In light of the current situation, we would like to dedicate a whole
conference track to these issues. Of course, the initial conference topics
of impact and capacity building are still important and will be covered as
We have set up a page on meta and encourage you to share your questions,
ideas, and concerns. We intend to work closely with WMF and affiliate
representatives in the coming eight weeks and create the program along
Looking forward to seeing you in Berlin in April,
Tim Moritz Hector
How to move forward
Tim Moritz Hector
Chair of the Board
Wikimedia Deutschland e. V.
Tempelhofer Ufer 23-24 | D-10963 Berlin
A number of nominations have now come in for the affiliate-selected board
One of the people who have put their names forward to date is Susanna
Mkrtchyan of Wikimedia Armenia. In her nomination statement Susanna
refers to the 2014 "One Armenian, one Article" Wikipedia campaign.
The BBC reported at the time that the campaign was government-supported.
The related YouTube video (in Armenian with English subtitles) features
appeals for people to edit Wikipedia from (in order of appearance):
1. The Armenian Defense Minister, who says he's joining the "One Armenian,
one Article" marathon by editing an article about the Armenian army
2. The Armenian Education and Science Minister, who says creating Wikipedia
content in Armenian is part of Armenians' "duty toward our nation and
country" and indicates he will personally participate too
3. The Head of Armenian Public Radio
4. An Armenian TV announcer
5. The Head of Matenadaran Archive
Now, according to Freedom House, all is not well in Armenia. Corruption
is widespread in government and law enforcement. The press is not free.
Journalists have to "contend with violence and harassment", although
"Independent outlets continued to take advantage of the country’s
relatively open online space."
Clearly, the Internet presently provides a platform for opposition voices
that have trouble making themselves heard in conventional media, a fact
that the government cannot be terribly pleased about.
Returning to Susanna's nomination statement, she says that Wikimedia
Armenia has signed a contract with the "Armenian Encyclopedia Authorities"
to re-use their content.
Western countries don't really have a tradition of state-published
encyclopedias, but the Soviet Union had the Great Soviet Encyclopedia for
about sixty-five years. It was an instrument of state propaganda. Trying to
shoehorn national encyclopedias modelled on the Great Soviet Encyclopedia
into Wikipedia is a thought that seems to occur quite naturally to
politicians in ex-Soviet states, many of whom started their political
careers and held office in the days of the Soviet Union. It is a good way
of exercising control over the Internet, just like the Great Soviet
Encyclopedia was designed to shape intellectual life in the USSR.
According to her LinkedIn profile, in her professional life Susanna is a
Sector Manager at the State Committee of Science, which is part of the
Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia.
Susanna further notes that she received an honourable mention from Jimmy
Wales at Wikimania 2015's Wikipedian of the Year award, a fact duly noted
at [[Wikipedia:Wikipedian of the Year]].
Now, why are we bestowing Wikipedian of the Year honours on government
employees of repressive regimes? If we had the US Secretary of Defense
writing Wikipedia articles about the US Army, or had employees of the
German government running Wikimedia Deutschland, I'm sure there'd be an
outcry, even though those are countries with quite favourable records on
human rights, press freedom and so on. The idea of an award would not even
What is different about ex-Soviet countries that makes this a good thing to
With respect to paid promotional editing, I have done a bit work trying to
address it. For example I reached out to Upworks the company behind Elance
and Fiverr and they are interested in working together on this. Have been a
little distracted and not sure if there is sufficient community or
foundation support to move forwards.
With respect to using AI to detect paid editing, I spoke with Aaron
Halfaker about the possibility in Nov 2015. What he needed was datasets of
confirmed paid promotional editors. I have sent him some details. If others
have details that would likely be useful. Things are in the very very early
stages from what I understand.
MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian
The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
There's a quote popularly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt:
"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds
Now, I'm not calling any particular people small minded, nor am I
suggesting we stop talking about issues. What I am suggesting is that we
talk about issues, and not people. The axe grinding and personal
denigrations are being pushed further and further to the limits during this
turmoil, and I humbly ask that it stop, and that moderation is used if
needed to do so. I'll have no sympathy for those who wish to continue to go
after fellow human beings for political gain.
This is my personal email address. Everything sent from this email address
is in a personal capacity.
There are now, five days before deadline, 7 candidates and all new
names. Last time two years ago there were only two candidates before the
very last days before deadline and both being existing Board members.
It is very good to see so many competent candidates and representing a
wider set of background then has have been seen before.
But we should respect the election process and keep questions and
discussions on the candidates meta pages.
I find it inappropriate to discuss any of them separately on this list.
Per these questions:
1. When James was made to leave, then did anyone tell him that there was
going to be a joint or prepared statement from the WMF?
No one before I left the meeting suggested we come out with a joint
statement or that we prepare a joint statement.
2. If so, did anyone ask James not to email the mailing list? And why did
you feel that was so inappropriate?
No one requested I not announce my removal. Let me repost my removal
message here "On Dec 28th 2015 I was removed from the board of the
Wikimedia Foundation. Many thanks to all those who gave me their support
during the last election. I have worked in the last six month to honor the
trust placed in me by advocating for our values, communities, and
I find it strange that this message is deemed controversial. I would
consider that me pretending that I was still on the board of the WMF for a
few weeks until the board could come out with a statement even when I was
not on the board to be dishonest. I am not sure if that is what Jimmy Wales
wanted but it was not an option.
Finally facts are not determined by a vote. That you got unanimity for "The
board.. has offered no objections to any board member discussing long term
strategy with the community at any time" should make all of us worry. I
have provided evidence that refutes this claim here
MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian
The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine