I intend the following comments in the most constructive way. The bottom
line for me is that you severely violated the ethics of your position - not
maliciously, I hasten the say, but this does not make it acceptable or
If anything, your offers to resign demonstrate that you knew this, and the
rest of the board are equally at fault for having blinders to the position
you were entering into.
Your email today implies that this is still unclear to you - and comments
from other board members give the same impression. So this email is my
attempt to lay out exactly why the position you took was unethical, so
problematic, and undermines the integrity of our entire board.
This is not an easy email to write, it is highly critical. Yet it must be
Before you also dismiss me as a troll, or an idiot, or whatever delightful
word David can think up for me (I love you man! :)) please consider these
I have been encouraged to issue statements for the last week or so about
the debate. I have resisted as I did not want to
escalate what I saw as an
unfortunate bit of publicity for Wikimedia UK and the Foundation.
Perhaps this is a poor choice of word... but "unfortunate"? I appreciate
this last week or so has been upsetting for you on a personal level, and I
regret some of the vitriol that has been levelled at you. We (i.e. those of
us criticising) failed too, in raising these issues in a way that
transgressed personal sniping.
But "unfortunate" is a poor choice of word. I think it is important for you
and the board to take ownership of this matter. I'm not saying that fault
should be laid at individuals feet. However, I think the board in
particular needs to reflect deeply on what they also did wrong - and I
believe the latest statement reflects this.
Don't take it personally (as I got the impression it has been). As a public
body *you will be subjected to harsh criticism*. Part of what makes a
person a good board member is the ability to not defensively swing back at
criticism, but to search for advice and ideas for improvement at every step.
I'm very disappointed to see the latest press
Me too; that is disappointing. But, we may be able to make a positive out
of it! Who knows. Fire can make a man.
In retrospect we could all give the board and me
better advice. I have
tried to remain loyal to you, the mission, and the board.
Yes. And I will agree wholheartedly that your underlying endeavour was to
improve Wikipedia. But...
I have made less money working for "the
mission" then I would have done
elsewhere, and I think I have also shared in extending our reach. I've
visited many countries and talked with five of six ministers from
Gibraltar, Wales and the British Parliament about WMUK. You know I worked
as an unpaid wikipedian in residence and you may have guessed that I turned
down paid work last year to concentrate on leading the WMUK board during my
Being a trustee of a charity can be an important and rewarding thing. But
the point is that it is a sacrifice - you aren't donating money, but
experience, skills, time and even connections. There should be no
expectation of reward, obviously, in the same way as the person donating
£10 to Wikipedia.
If you cannot afford that donation then it should not be given.
That was costing me too much money and so with the
board's agreement I
stood down so that Monmouthshire County Council could make the exceptional
step of paying me. They did not do this lightly and they had to get special
agreement from their elected members that in this case it was worth
stepping outside their normal employment procedures to save Monmouthpedia.
This is well documented.
That is a sticky matter, and most unfortunate that it happened. An
extraordinary situation demonstrated a gap in the market to you, and you
appear to have spotted this, moving on to Gibraltapedia with a commercial
interest up front.
This is the core of the matter.
You cannot gain monetary benefit from your donation to a charity when in a
position of such responsibility. It totally undermines your ability to make
impartial judgements. Any number of small things might affect your
commercial interests, tied closely to the charities aims and objectives.
Even subconciously you may end up promoting your interests; and, yes, I
have seen this happen in charities. First hand.
With Monmouthpedia you identified a critical problem and came up with a
solution to fix it. A solution that was less-bad than the alternative. You
resigned as chair, a correct decision and one I praise you and the board
for. But after that the mistakes started.
I am unsure under what context you first offered to resign - but once the
Gibraltarpedia project was underway it should have been clear to the board
that your position was untenable. You have a commercial enterprise with the
same goals as the charity. End of story.
As my statement shows both the board and the Foundation should have been
aware of the public statements that were made. I have
heard it claimed that
the Foundation were unaware - but I resigned as chair of the UK chapter.
Someone must have read the reason.
Many things happend within the Wikimedia movement on a daily basis. I
couldn't tell you half of them! This is a very bad excuse; entertain the
possibility the Foundation was not aware. And then don't lay the blame with
them, or you, but identify the problem and fix it.
This is a metaphor for the wider issue with WMUK.
I was very clear when you re-elected me as a board member that I had and
would continue to have business interests like
Monmouthshire County Council.
No. I was at the AGM, and this sort of thing matters to me. It was NOT
clear. In fact I still don't know the whole details of the Monmouth matter
- we still have too much secrecy (or rather, assumption of knowledge)
(I have to eat).
I considered running in the last election. I decided against it for various
reasons, but one thing I carefully calculated was if I could afford to
spend *at least* one day a week on WMUK things. I calculated my loss of
consultancy work (a day spare means, what, at least £2500/month less than I
am used to) and figured out if that would affect me to the extent I
This is one reason why charities are often run by older, retired, types who
do not need to go out and earn a living.
If you undertook too much and found you could not survive without taking
renumeration then that is obvously a serious issue - but the solution is
not to use the charity to pay your wage. If you need to eat, that is for
you to sort out.
We should be here to donate our time to the charity, we should not be using
the charity to put food on our table.
Donating time in this way is not about us (this is directed at some members
of the UK board also). It is not about egos. It is a matter that should be
of deep importance to you as trustees. It should be a matter self-sacrifice
Bottom line; you (as a board), we even, fucked up. Not maliciously, but
very badly. You lost sight of the wider objective.
But it's not something to beat each other up over. Learn from it, make
improvements, move on.
I am glad to see an independent auditor will be involved going forward,
that may help draw perspective.