[Foundation-l] board candidacies

Erik Zachte erikzachte at infodisiac.com
Fri Aug 11 16:55:42 UTC 2006

My remark about any board members being dot com millionaires was entirely
unsubstantiated. I haven't seen anyones tax form. In fact I had no factual
information whatsoever that this is the case, and I now know it is not, as
Danny told us. I realize now that this remark was insensitive by itself,
something I accuse others of, and not helping to improve any situation. I
also haven't seen how much anyone earned on keynote speeches, so that was a
suggestive remark as well.

I really should have gone to bed a few hours earlier and have postponed any
reaction to after a good night sleep. Too late, damage done.

So I sincerely apologize for any remarks about the financial situation of
others than Anthere on he board.


Still I Anthere could have gotten a more cordial answer, instead of Jimbo's
factual remark and a joke by someone else.

In my opinion Anthere is extremely valuable to the organisation. I, and many
others I'm sure, are proud of the prominent role of women in the
organisation. She, Angela and many others function as a role model.

Anthere quit/lost (no idea which) her job while being a board member, as she
professed publicly some time ago, so I can quote that. She also told she
works nearly full time on the project and given her omnipresence, this might
well be an understatement. I think we should be grateful she is putting so
much time in the project. And I am sure everyone is. But maybe we ought to
taken a moment to discuss the consequences.

If I remember correctly Anthere responded to a question from the audience.
Candid as she always is, she explained her financial situation (again). So I
feel I can comment on that some more.

I don't know many mothers with three young children who can afford to spend
so much time pro bono. Of course there must be more Wikimedians in a similar
situation, who show as much commitment. Still I feel the organisation has a
special obligation towards its official representatives. If only people who
are financially independent can afford to work for the organisation in
central positions, and others do it to their own detriment, I think the
organisation (not on purpose but still) puts a bias on its central workforce
which is unwanted. These issues have been discussed before. But we have
grown from a small village to a large city, and our budget has increased
with it. We can even afford to delay fundraisers so it is not that we are
entirely unable to even discuss this due to lack of funds. Brad commented to
this effect.

I have no idea how other non profit organisations handle this, but frankly I
think we should make up our own mind.

> Well, it is not allowed, not just by our bylaws as I understand it, but by
the law.  This is not a matter of anyone treating Anthere in any bad way.

I suppose you mean the US law. We could have an interesting discussion of
what the consequences are of the foundation being based in the US, but I
suppose it would confuse matters now.

> Paying Board members for Board-related activities can be perceived as a
potential conflict of interests.

If someone would get rich of it, sure. And people will complain, no doubt.
If the allowance was something close to the minimum wage of the country of
residence (at least for countries that have a decent minimum wage policy,
which if difficult to objectify) I'm not sure many would complain though.

> In many non-profit organizations in the US--but not the WMF--Board
membership is actually contingent upon making a significant donation to the

One of the reasons I have my reservations about the US leading the world by
example is how they often seem to fail to separate money and politics.
Should I comment on how a US presidential candidate also has little change
to serve his country if not backed up by millions of dollars to get his
message across? The world can learn a lot from some of their core values,
but they could learn from those of others. The notion that people would have
to buy into non-profits is pretty detrimental and extreme to me. I would
expect rich people who give a generous donation to be honoured for it. I
would not expect in most cases they are the experts per se on how to spend
it well for the cause at hand.

> If your life circumstances are such that you can make ends meet, the most
demanding issue for your involvement in Wikimedia issues is time, not money.

I agree, but who draws the line of what is needed to make ends meet? A
tricky question. Should we leave it to the foundation to deal with this

Erik Zachte

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