Whether or not the decision against having a membership system was legal, reversing that
decision would be a timely and practical way for the WMF to start to reengage with the
Past concerns that a membership system would require staff are now moot - we have staff.
Past concerns as to where one sets the membership fee are now moot - we can afford to
waive the fee for those who contribute time. I'm not really keen on the idea of
selling any memberships, but it would be good if we could award membership to some of the
professors, museum curators, librarians, archivists and others who help our mission
without necessarily editing much themselves.
Past concerns about privacy are easier to resolve as we now have a structure of chapters
and they include ones in countries with very strict privacy laws. So we can have a federal
membership system with chapters holding the membership details in specific countries, and
anyone suing the WMF to get the membership details of someone who'd blocked them for
spamming would then find that all the WMF knew was someone's username - membership
details would be held by an independent legal entity in a country with strict privacy
A Membership based system would give more protection for community elected trustees.
A membership based organisation would formally be a global not for profit at the
intersection of education, culture, free knowledge and open licensing; not a Silicon
Valley tech entity.
A membership based organisation would have better defences against being
> Dear friends,
> Recent events have made me curious to learn more about the Wikimedia
> Foundation's origins and history as a membership organization. The
> revelations about the Wikimedia Foundation Board elections being a
> recommendation for appointment rather than a direct vote seem to have been
> a surprise to many of us, and almost ten years after membership was
> eliminated, we see strongly suggestive "directly elected" language still
> being fixed on the Foundation's own Board elections page.
> It turns out that this history is colorful, the Foundation was a membership
> organization from 2003-2006 and Board seats were indeed, originally,
> intended to be directly elected by member-Wikimedians. It seems that the
> membership issue was never quite resolved. I've put some of my notes on
> metawiki, please forward to any wiki historians who might be interested in
> throwing their weight on a shovel.
> As a current WMF staff member, and having received a formal scolding two
> weeks ago for expressing my professional and personal opinions on this
> list--that a hierarchical corporate structure is completely inappropriate
> and ineffectual for running the Foundation--I don't feel safe
> editorializing about what membership could mean for the future of the
> Wikimedia movement. But I would be thrilled to see this discussion take
> place, and to contribute however I am able.
> A note to fellow staff: Anything you can say about this history is most
> likely protected speech under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, since we're asking
> whether state and federal laws were violated.
> In solidarity,
> Adam Wight