My viewpoint here is that we should always assume good faith, but
keep an eye out for activity which might be suspicious, which could
then be raised for discussion at a board meeting, or if necessary at
a general meeting.
We shouldn't refuse membership applications because we think that the
applicants might be timewasters, or might have a history of abuse;
those are more issues that would lead to the termination of
membership. That said, if we get repeat applications from people
whose membership has been previously terminated, then that would be
grounds for refusing the application. If lots of people from the same
small location apply, then we should only be worried if they would
make up a large fraction of the membership, which I doubt would
happen (either there's no motivation whilst we're small, or we'll be
large enough later that the funds to join the organization in
sufficient mass would be too great).
On 29 Nov 2008, at 00:06, Andrew Turvey wrote:
The Board has decided to put on its agenda for the
next meeting the
process for admitting new members.
One question I wanted to raise for discussion among the community
is what kind of "due diligence" should the Board do when admitting
Most of the people who get involved in the wikimedia projects do so
because they want to contribute in a positive way to the projects.
Unfortunately, given the open door attitude we have of "anyone can
edit", we also attract people to the projects who spend most of
their efforts vandalising, defacing, pov-pushing or playing the
This can also carry over into the running of chapters. Sadly, we
have already seen this with Wikimedia UK v2 - where one person - a
persistent sock-puppet on the projects - put themselves forward as
a candidate using two identitities, lied about their age and later
lied about their professional qualifications.
When we were drafting the constitution, we adopted the standard
Articles for charities, which give the Board fairly broad powers to
refuse (or remove) membership if they consider this in the best
interests of the charity. This is subject to a due process that the
Board must follow and a right of appeal to the AGM, which the Board
decided to beef up from the standard rules.
The draft membership rules at the moment mention these as examples
of where the Board may refuse membership:
- missing information or signature from the application form
- fee not paid
- information on the form "obviously fabricated"
- behaviour on Wikimedia UK community areas (the meta pages, email
list and IRC)
Examples of invalid considerations include:
- activity/inactivity on Wikimedia projects
- behaviour on Wikimedia projects
I don't want to exaggerate the potential problems, but there are
certain risks which I think we ought to take reasonable steps to
minimise. These risks include:
- time wasting - people trying to play us so we spend all our time
dealing with their obstructions rather than doing things to further
- entryism - people getting all their friends to sign up so they
can get voted onto the Board (more of a problem when we have more
Coming back to my question - what kind of due diligence should the
Board do? You could say just do nothing - trust that there will be
enough reasonable people to outweigh the isolated troublemaker and
their impact can be contained. With this approach we could be
accused of complacency if we do run into problems.
At the other extreme we could vet every applicant and ask them to
provide references, nominators and their activity logs from a
wikimedia project. This strikes me as being too restrictive for the
kind of organisation we want to be.
My feeling is that we just need to keep a watchful eye open to
signs of abuse. This is particularly the responsibility of the
Membership Secretary who needs to bring anything of concern to the
attention of the Board. Things to look out for include getting lots
of applications from one small town, all drawn on the same cheque
and also where certain individuals apply for membership who have a
history of abuse. I think this is probably the most effective way
to deal with this kind of thing in parctice.
What do others think?
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