That's a very good point. Bringing the two pledges in line with each other
in the way Cristian suggests would make sense to me. Board members should
be free to act in line with their conscience. It shouldn't be the case that
they cannot speak openly about any issue in which they disagreed with other
board members; that wouldn't seem in line with the movement's values of
free speech and transparency.
In fact, reviewing the Pledge of Personal Commitment board members are
required to sign, I confess I don't quite understand in which ways
current or former board members are actually restricted from speaking
freely about any matter related to the movement and its work.
I understand that board members only sign this Pledge of Personal
Commitment, and that there isn't a specific or separate non-disclosure
agreement. The text of the Pledge doesn't mention non-disclosure explicitly
(although it may well be implicit in some of the phrasings).
The Pledge also seems to say nothing about how board members should conduct
themselves once their term has expired.
The Pledge begins "As a member of the board ...", then goes on to say "I
will conduct my activities with the board of trustees ...", "In every
instance in which I represent the Wikimedia Foundation ...", etc., implying
that this is a pledge that board members have to observe *while in office*.
Is there anything else board members have to sign that has a bearing on
what they are permitted to say after their term is over?
I would be very grateful if someone with more insight than me could
explain, for everyone's benefit, in which ways the free speech of current
and former board members is restricted.
On Thu, Dec 31, 2015 at 1:26 AM, Cristian Consonni <kikkocristian(a)gmail.com>
This discussion is somewhat inspired by what recently happened with
WMF Board of Trustees. Please note that I was to respect the
request from the board (and James himself) to have some more time to
review the situation before providing more details about the recent
In some sense, I am following what James said in an email:
I have done what I believe is in the best interest of our movement.
The Wikimedia Foundation requires every board member to sign a "Pledge
of personal commitment", in one passage it says:
«In every instance in which I represent the Wikimedia Foundation, I
will conduct my activities in a manner to best promote the interests
of Wikimedia Foundation.»
Compare this with the "FDC Pledge of Personal Commitment" signed by
«I, [name], pledge to faithfully pursue the mission and goals of the
Wikimedia movement, namely to empower and engage people around the
world to collect and develop educational content under a free license
or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and
globally. The FDC makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees
regarding the allocation of funds to support the mission goals of the
Wikimedia movement, and I therefore recognize my responsibility to
maintain the highest level of public confidence and trust.»
As a former FDC member I very much prefer the formulation adopted in
the FDC pledge rather than in the BoT pledge.
I think (and I have been thinking this for a while) that the Pledge of
commitment for trustees of WMF should mention the movement as well. In
some sense I am stating the obvious, but I would like the idea that
what constitutes "the best choice for the movement" takes priority
over "the best choice for the WMF", and this is board members pledge
I know that "doing what is best for the WMF" may be a legal
requirements for WMF board members, but I honestly do not think that
what is the best interest for the movement and what is the best
interest for WMF would ever be actually in conflict. In other words, I
would take the discussion of what constitutes a decision made with the
best interest of the movement in mind to be a debatable choice over
difference of views rather than a case of breaching the pledge because
some action may produce short term harm to the WMF (and thus be
breaching the pledge of commitment for BoT as it is written now) but
greater good in the middle/long term.
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