Erik Moeller wrote:
So, Wikimedia is shaped by people who feel that the
that made WP a success is not applicable to organizations. Wikimedia
will become a functioning non-profit with the usual bureucratic
processes, some successful fundraising, a few good partnerships here
and there, a bunch of "professionals", lots of infighting among
volunteers, etc. It will not become the open platform for social and
technological change that it could be -- the wide network of people
who are interested in building a free knowledge and free culture
movement. And who is to blame for that? Not the people who made it
so. They have only the best interests of Wikimedia in mind and work
their ass of to do what they can to make it a success. The people who
are to blame are those who did not participate in turning Wikimedia
into something else, something larger, when it mattered.
Well, Jimmy Wales has his vision for the future of Wikimedia, and it
doesn't really match with any of my views of what it should be.
However, he's in charge and has said in no uncertain terms that he's not
going to open up a majority of the board to community elections anytime
in the near future. So, I don't see what can really be done about
that. I'm pretty resigned to the fact that committees, lawyers, and
other random things seem to spring from nowhere without anyone,
sometimes even the two elected board members, having heard about them.
Clearly we aren't in control of the organization, and I don't see how
that's likely to change.
In general, this doesn't feel like a free-culture organization. I don't
require Richard Stallman clones to be heading up all such organizations
(although at least then there'd be no doubts), but this place feels more
like, say, Red Hat---a commercial entity involved in free culture and
making concessions to maintain community support---than it feels like a
thoroughly free-culture organization like Debian. For the most part the
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is a fine ISP hosting Wikipedia, but I
certainly don't feel like they represent me or reflect my values,
besides the single value of "producing a copyleft encyclopedia", the
betterment of which strangely rarely seems to be among the various
proposals I've been seeing lately. I don't really see what can be done
about that besides damage control or, if absolutely necessary, a fork.
Now as for damage control---you *do* see people get quite involved when
it looks like the beaurocracy is intruding into the reason we
free-content people are here in the first place, Wikipedia. You'll
notice the series of WP:OFFICE interventions on en.* attracted
considerable community "participation". Failing a WMF that represents
my interests, I'll at least work for a WMF that serves as an acceptable
ISP for Wikipedia.
Now perhaps it isn't completely impossible, but I think it'll be a
continual uphill battle without significant high-level change. I would
feel much more comfortable, for example, with a board that consisted of
Jimbo, Anthere, Angela, and two other prominent community
representatives chosen by some reasonable election process. In
principle, influencing things from the minority is possible (Jimbo
presumably doesn't want to run everything on 3-2 votes), but it colors
the whole process.
Which is, incidentally, my main problem with a paid staff. If they do
only technical things like file paperwork, that's fine, but I'm quite
sure there will be a slippery slope there, judging from past experience
in this organization.