Let me provide a somewhat dissenting opinion.
I'm not sure that Arnnon Geshuri's sins were all that bad. Remember that
where's there's big money, there will be predatory lawyers looking for
Is it bad corporate policy, wrong, or even illegal for a company to make a
decision not to actively recruit from certain other companies in the same
industry? Companies legitimately have widespread discretion in what their
employees are directed to do, particularly when representing the company.
These were not even competitors mind you but companies whose strength and
existence benefited the others. There is no suggestion that any of the
normal activities such as accepting resumes from candidates who contact the
employer or informal employment networking were prohibited.
I don't see a problem with Google people serving on the WMF board either.
The importance of the relationship between these two organizations cannot be
emphasized enough. Wikipedia might not have even taken off if it didn't
start appearing at the top of every Google search. Same with Google. Their
audience might have been only a fraction of what it is today but for
Wikipedia. Is there a bias built into Google searches that favors Wikipedia?
Could a serious falling out between the two result in far fewer Wikipedia
links in Google searches? At various Wikipedia conventions over the years,
I've run this by some of those who might know and they seemed quite closed
mouthed about the subject.
As for the subject of elected v. appointed trustees, the WMF should
carefully examine the role of university boards. The events at Dartmouth College
are particularly interesting -- and quite accurately described in
Wikipedia BTW. Starting about a decade ago four "opposition trustees" were
against the will of the larger board. The ensuing soap opera was
interesting to say the least.
Another important point to understand about university boards is that seats
ARE for sale. Large donors are frequently appointed to university boards.
It sounds really corrupt but the fact is that the institutions have been
well served by the policy. Wikpedia's circumstances are different and they
should not get mixed up in this.
My last point is that the technical performance of the WMF has been both
outstanding and cost effective. As I understand it Google and Microsoft
regularly spend billions on large server centers. Wikipedia online queries
throughout the world are fast and efficient. There are plenty of issues
relating to content and poor treatment of controversial editors but on the
technical side maybe it's best not to mess with something that works.
In a message dated 1/8/2016 3:17:06 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
Upon hearing of Arnnon's history at Google, I confess to being surprised to
the point of a long silence.
If these news reports are true, this is disturbing to say the least.
Whether he was happy about it or not, it appears that he chose to
participate in illegal activity in a prominent role as a "Senior Staffing
Strategist", and described a Google employee's noncompliance with the
illegal scheme as "an error in judgment". I cannot think of an excuse from
an HR professional that I would accept for this.
Dariusz, you said in your statement that was published in the Wikimedia
Blog that WMF "considered dozens of candidates from all over the world,
with not-for-profit and technology experience, and the highest professional
standards.” I would be interested to hear how you reconcile "highest
professional standards" with the prior actions of Arnnon,
Lila, you said that "Kelly and Arnnon bring a special combination of
expertise, integrity, and love for our mission." I am interested in hearing
how you reconcile this assessment with the reports about Arnnon's role in
this illegal scheme at Google.
Looking at the WMF situation more broadly in light of the Board's removal
of James and its surrounding circumstances, I am very disappointed with
what we are learning and I am losing confidence in the governance of WMF. I
am considering strategic options for the community.
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