Erik Zachte wrote:
* Increasingly decison are taken by the board without
too much prior
discussion in the open, at least on places where I would expect it, like on
this mailing list.
I don't think so. I don't know of any examples. But if there are some
things that you would like to bring up as specifics, I would love to
In particular, the "increasingly" perception is the one I want to
combat, by trying to make it more clear how things are done, and how
things have transitioned and continue to transition to having a lot more
(#) I might add 'and created and/or sanctioned by
the board'. The board
reigns supremely. This does not make the board evil in any way, or its
members less respectable, it does not discredit the committees or their
members, far from it, all names of committee members that I recognize are of
highly valued community members (I'm not even against any of the committees
or their missions, heck I'm going to apply for a committee on invitation and
of course undergo normal co-optation procedure) it is simply a control
monopoly that I would like to see amended, to strenghten Wikimedia as an
In what way would you amend it? Keep in mind that we are an actual
organization in the real world, and there are real legal
responsibilities, very serious ones, that have to be met by the
organization, and board members have a very heavy burden to be sure that
these responsibilities are met. It would not be legal, for example, for
the board to completely give up decision making authority over a lot of
different things... but what we can do is involve more people (instead
of me doing everything, which was the very old way, and then the board
doing everything, which was the old way, to now an *increasingly*
community oriented approach of committees and chapters).
I'm not sure I would favour to vote on everything,
elections can be
manipulated. Perhaps the tried system of discussing major choices until a
consensus is reached would still work, this list is not flooded by hundreds
of trolls, there is still a limited community interested in these issues.
I think we try really hard to do this, whenever possible. I am unaware
of any major changes of direction which were not openly discussed until
something approaching consensus is reached. Of course, this list does
have some trolls, but almost everyone contributing here has a strong
voice in the future course of the foundation in every way.
Also on major issues I'd rather sacrifice speed
than quality of decision
making, again on major issues only, and of course judicial emergencies taken
I agree, and that is precisely why it takes us a very very long time to
decide a lot of important things, because as a community we are slow and
thoughtful and open about it.
* Several board members recently stated their
weariness about discussing
things with the larger community (for quotes eee
although I have to say Anthere still does speak up a lot on this list, so
maybe I make too much out of her remarks. Everyone is entitled to an
occasional slip of the tongue.
I think it was not a slip of the tongue, but that you have misunderstood
her meaning. Her point is that it is very very hard emotionally on
those of us on the board, when we work very very hard every day trying
to involve people in the foundation in every way that we can, trying to
do everything we can in a manner of consensus and openness and loving
care for the opinions of everyone who has a desire to have rational
input into the process.... only to be told that we are closed or
secretive or running roughshod over people in some vague and hard to
Surely you can see that this is exhausting for us. It is not the
working with community which is exhausting... that part is the most
rewarding. It is the unfair criticism when people who have not bothered
to take part, not bothered to learn what is going on, suddenly pop up
and scream bloody murder because they were not consulted.
* Board expansion is not an issue you say, it just
will happen. But there
has been talk, albeit not by you, of appointing board members instead of
holding an election. If that would ever happen, how could anyone not see
that the board would be heading towards splendid isolation?
Why would anyone assume that the board would be headed towards slendid
isolation? You have a strong commitment from all existing board members
to preserve the essential community spirit of Wikipedia while at the
same time recognizing that service on the board requires input and
expertise from a variety of different kinds of people. What seems
obvious to me is that we need a variety of different routes to board
membership, including election in some cases, but also including
recruitment based on expertise that we need.
The method of selection of board members is important, but the most
important thing is that we get the right people, who understand our
mission deeply and can contribute to it in ways that we need.
* The idea that a contractor, possibly an outsider
(?), is charged with
paving the way for a true CEO, is yet another example of top down
Why do you suppose that an outsider would be chosen for this?
Why should an appointed individual, let alone a
outsider, lead this debate, or manage it in any way? Incidentally, I would
be less concerned if the final CEO would only supervise administrative
tasks, like paying the bills and refreshing domain subscriptions, but then I
find the term CEO odd, I call that an office manager.
I think you have completely failed to comprehend the seriousness of the
issues facing the business side of the foundation. It is *not* just
about paying the bills and refreshing domain subscriptions. We are
growing inevitably into a major enterprise with a multi-million dollar
annual budget. There is no way around that, other than simply refusing
to grow and letting the site run slow because we don't have the servers.
But if we want the website to be fast, and we want it to be high
quality, and if we are reallllllly serious about our mission statement:
A free encyclopedia for every single person on the planet, then we have
to recognize that we can not operate like a college club, with a
secretary to pay the bills, and we hope everything else turns out right
All of this gives me the feeling the board knows best
what is good for the
But this feeling is coming from where? That is what I am finding
puzzling. We are here, the board, before you, among you, as always...
and to be accused of paternalism is... well, it is sad, given all that
we have done and all that we value.
You may want to consider that you have jumped to some conclusions