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.