[Foundation-l] board candidacies

GerardM gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Sat Aug 12 16:20:09 UTC 2006

There is a big difference between how "it should" and "how it is". For all
kinds of reasons, there is a big NEED and EXPECTATION that a WMF board
member spends a lot of time on the organisational matters of the board. Not
only is there the need to communicate in order to come to the strategy of
the foundation, it is also expected that board members are part of
committees and play an active part in these. I have heard horror stories
where board members were denied access to information of "committees" and it
is therefore understandable that these invisible organisational units are
considered to operate in stealth mode.

At this moment the organisation is very much in flux. Not only has Angela
decided to quit, Brad is finding his way in the murky dealings of the WMF
organisation, the committees pronounce very much that they are only starting
to get going. To top it off, many of the current people who are up for
election for the board are manifestly unsuited to the task because of their
narrow minded platform.

When it is said that a board member only needs to spend "only" a few hours a
week on this function, the reality is very much ignored. By expressing that
this "should be the case" and by not indicating what needs to be done to
make this happen, I am afraid that false expectations are raised. At this
time, being a board member seems to be the kind of activity that eats up all
the time that you can throw at it. It has relatively little to do with any
one project and as Anthere says, it is hard work for little recognition.

I wish all future board members well, but I hope that none are chosen
because of their ideas on how the English Wikipedia can be improved. They do
not understand what is needed.


On 8/12/06, Anthony <wikilegal at inbox.org> wrote:
> On 8/11/06, Erik Zachte <erikzachte at infodisiac.com> wrote:
> > 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, I think we should follow the lead of other non-profit organizations.
> Being a board member shouldn't require a lot of time - a couple hours
> a week at the most.  If a board member wants to spend more time
> voluntarily, that's fine.  But if someone wants to spent 40 hours a
> week helping Wikimedia, and isn't in a financial position to do that
> for free, and Wikimedia agrees to pay them for this, then they
> shouldn't be a board member.  It's too much of a potential for a
> conflict of interest.
> I don't mean to say this as though it's a simple change to make.  But
> it's extremely important that the change be made.
> Anthony
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