On 6/3/06, Jimmy Wales <jwales(a)wikia.com> wrote:
Erik Moeller wrote:
So, Wikimedia is shaped by people who feel that
the very philosophy
that made WP a success is not applicable to organizations.
And Erik wonders why I felt that he misrepresented my views in that meeting.
With all due respect, I wasn't talking about you above.
The main beef that I had with Erik in that log was
that he represented
to the people there, that I felt that we should not recruit for the
executive director position from within the community. That was
shocking to me, because I am strongly committed to our deep community
roots and deep community focus.
My comments on IRC were based on your own statements, on IRC and on
the mailing list. When the CEO position was discussed, I pointed out
that there are qualified people in the community who can acquire some
of the additional skills needed, while being able to connect to
Wikimedians better than a complete outsider. I gave our current CFO,
Daniel Mayer, as an example.
To this, Daniel responded:
"While it would be nice to have a Wikimedian fill this role, I don't
think that is a critical thing for the board to consider."
Your response was: "I think that's exactly right." You then continued:
"There are people out there with decades of experience with
public-facing international charities with a strong community focus
who can very quickly be trained in our community norms. And if they
already know about Wikipedia, and have edited, then so much the
I think, based on these comments and some on IRC about the
community/organization split, the statement of myself that: "I doubt
[Jimmy] will care much for looking in the community for an
[Administrative Director]" was justifiable. Certainly, I do not feel
that your reaction -- to write on a public wiki page that I "deeply
misrepresented" you, and "that anyone reading this should take with a
huge grain of salt everything, and I mean absolutely everything, that
[Erik] said" was appropriate, or an example of how members of the
community should be engaged.
Even you will probably admit that you have a history of making vague,
non-committal statements, and of course there are good reasons for
doing so. However, vagueness opens up the potential for
misinterpretation. It is hardly fair to blame this on those who are
trying to make sense of your comments.
And your remarks in this thread have been exemplary for the same kind
of vague, non-committal statements of reassurance. Instead of "I think
we should have two more community-elected members by the end of
August", you'll say something like "We continue to be deeply committed
to the ideal of increasing the number of people on the Board, and
whether or not these are community members is secondary to meeting
our charitable goals and thoughtfully finding the most qualified
people to help us do so" (made up quote). Well, what does something
like this tell us? Does Jimbo want more community-elected members?
Does he want to bring in someone he feels is right for the job? What's
going to happen? Same with the CEO question.
Frankly, there's a need for less Jimbospeak, and more concrete
promises and commitments on the public record.
I think a lot of people feel tthat the foundation is
opaque because they
choose to not get involve
When the SP committee was created, I immediately expressed my interest
in joining. I saw the hope that this was a long needed step away from
exactly the kind of centralization and micromanagement that had led me
to resign as CRO (and which now seems to be generally acknowledged). I
pointed out my record working on Special Projects, from many different
kinds of partnerships to their technical realization.
I was told by Danny, immediately, that he would oppose me, that I had
"quit Wikimedia", that the committee was "beneath me". You also told
me, privately, that you did not want me on SP. Does that make me feel
welcome to help? If someone who _wants_ to help, who _has_ a record,
faces these barriers, how much harder is it for those who are not well
known, but yet highly qualified?
GerardM, who has a more impressive track record in special projects
than I do -- there would be no Kennisnet partnership and no
WiktionaryZ project without him, applied for membership and was
rejected. Frankly, this is not an example of an open organization that
accepts the most qualified people to do the right thing. It's an
example of "face by face" selection processes. No amount of rhetoric
is going to change that.
I agree with you, of course, that the organization is not becoming
more opaque. It is becoming bigger and involving more people, and that
is good. But the potential for Wikimedia is to be so much more than
just a shell for a few projects. The potential for Wikimedia is to
build hundreds, thousands of partnerships, to form knowledge networks,
to engineer the technology that will be needed to take free content to
the next level. Quite a lot of this work _needs_ to be done within the
context of the WMF, not the projects, because that is how you can
engage people in the outside world. This cannot be done with the
current organizational model.
InstantCommons (see [[m:InstantCommons]]) is a perfect example of
that. We met with Kennisnet in February, and they basically said "Wow,
good idea, let's do it! But, we would like the WMF to authorize it."
Since then, the project has been in organizational limbo, moving
slowly as molasses through several layers of bureaucracy, from SP to
Legal to SP to Board and back again, with complex contracts being
drawn up when all that needed to be done was giving them a call and
letting Gerard manage the project. This is about building a
relationship with a developer in Ghana, who could have started work on
this project as early as March. Now it's June and we still can't go
ahead. We're talking about a EUR 5000-10000 project. How on Earth do
you intend to manage large grants with that kind of attitude towards
I won't even get into some of the other project ideas that are out
there, promises that have been made, and so on. Suffice it to say that
we are nowhere near fulfilling our potential, and that doesn't bode
well for future personal appeals that make the same empty comments
about Africa. These will get stale _very_ quickly if we don't
demonstrate success. Sure, professionals are important in getting our
act together. I consider myself a professional in what I do, which is
to solve complex problems. And I want to network all of those who are
professionals in something, regardless of whether we will actually end
up paying them.
You say that people do not get involved enough. Well, when the
committees were first proposed, I immediately wrote a long analysis of
some concerns regarding their setup and future:
Response: zero. Not from the Board, not from the community. If you do
not engage the community in even very basic and simple dialogue like
this, and only actually start talking when - as now - a lot of people
start complaining, then something is fundamentally wrong about the way
Here's an idea: Why not ask the community to draft up resolutions on
Meta? And why not start with the one about keeping the committees as
open as possible?
Another question: How much does Tim Shell actually participate in any
Board-level decision making, meetings, resolutions, open and private
discussions? If this is not about your control, why is he still on the