[Foundation-l] board candidacies

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Sun Aug 13 17:12:02 UTC 2006

GerardM wrote:

>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.
Although at least one Board member should be a part of each committee 
this is a problem with the current small size of the Board, and the fact 
that some Board members are not in a position to properly participate in 
this way.  As the Board is enlarged this problem will be eased, and 
Board members should be advised that being members of more than two 
committees may be injurious to their mental health.  The Board member on 
a committee does not need to do any more in the committee than be there 
and participate in the discussions.  All committees should be required 
to have a chairperson and a secretary.  The former would be responsible 
for the operations and meetings of the committee; the latter would 
insure that reports of the committee are produced and provided to all 
Board members.  The circumstances where a Board member could be denied 
access to information about a committee would be rare and exceptional, 
as when that member is involved in a serious conflict of interest.

>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.
Absolutely!  Perhaps what is needed is a clear statement of what is 
required of a Board member, and what is optional.  Some work much harder 
than necessary.  As committees, chapters, projects, etc. become more 
clearly developed there should be a better capacity for the Board to 
delegate tasks with the confidence that the delegatee won't make a 
complete fuck-up of the task.

>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.
The people involved on the English Wikipedia, or any of our hundreds of 
projects, run that project.  The people who run an other project may do 
so in strange ways that you would oppose on your own favorite projects, 
but that is allowed as long as it stays broadly within basic 
principles.  The intervention of a Board member (especially Jimbo) on a 
project can have a highly disruptive effect; you can't expect to drop a 
bowling ball into a tub full of water without creating a splash.  From 
the other side, projects should not expect that the Board will send them 
a white knight to save them from themselves; learning how to deal with 
one's own problems is a part of growing up.


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