[Foundation-l] bylaws (second call)

Brad Patrick bradp.wmf at gmail.com
Mon Aug 14 13:10:13 UTC 2006

I'm not going to address this point by point, because my aim is to expand,
not stifle, discussion.

Some more grist for the mill:

- Do you really believe a reduction in US-centrism is going to be
accomplished by having a high financial barrier to entry?
- Your distinction re billion member organization vs. billion dollar
organization is intriguing.  How do we get there?
- How do non-editing, non-computer using people intersect with those who
presently self-affiliate with WMF et al.?
- With such a diluted definition of 'member' what is the real point of being
a 'member'?  Is it political so members have control of the organization in
some way? Philosophical, in that we have 'card carrying' members to prove
allegiance to something? You have not made it sufficiently clear to me, at
least, precisely what the point is other than 'there should be membership'.
Membership implies there exists exclusivity or at least a definable
difference between member and non-member.
- If the subtext is money, let's call it out and understand it.  My earlier
point about "what would we do with a Billion dollars" is that it is a
difficult question for anyone to answer.  Ask the Gates Foundation.
(Present staff, ~600, btw).



On 8/14/06, Anthony <wikilegal at inbox.org> wrote:
> On 8/13/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:
> > Anthony wrote:
> >
> > >On 8/13/06, Anthere <anthere9 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >>http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Bylaws_update
> > >>
> > >>
> > >The proposed bylaws do not at all mention the chapters.  Is this
> > >intentional?  It's my understanding that chapters are not legally
> > >affiliated with Wikimedia except that they license the use of certain
> > >trademarks.  Is this correct?  And is this pretty much what everyone
> > >wants?  What do Jimbo and Brad (apparently the two main proponents of
> > >a non-membership organziation) think the role of chapters should be?
> > >
> > I have yet to see a clear rationale for a memberless Foundation.  In
> > some jurisdictions such a concept is unthinkable.
> >
> I get the sense that there's an effort to run Wikimedia more like a
> private foundation than a public charity.  Of course a public charity
> has tax advantages, so as long as Wikimedia can continue to be
> recognized as such, they'll do it.  But with Brad talking about
> getting billions of dollars in revenue it's unclear how such a broad
> base of contributors will be able to be kept up very long.  Personally
> when I heard him say that I imagined the Bill and Melinda Gates
> Foundation making a large multi-million dollar contribution, and for
> me it wasn't something that I got excited about.  Of course that's
> probably just my imagination running away.  But the point is, I'd
> rather see a billion member organization than a billion dollar one.
> In fact, *all other things being equal* I'd rather see Wikimedia spend
> (and receive) less money rather than more.
> Anyway, look at the original bylaws.  Sure, there were members, but
> they weren't given any real power.  A majority of the board was
> appointed and served for life, and this board was given all the powers
> of the organization.  It seemed clear to me at the time that as far as
> the bylaws were concerned Wikimedia was Jimbo's gift to us - he
> created it and then it he let the public have it, under certain
> conditions.
> Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikinews, etc. have all grown since then, and
> it's because of the community of volunteers and donors.  We still
> don't have a good sense, I think, of what Wikimedia is.  The way I see
> it membership is a way to define that, and late is better than never.
> My idea is to form a group of members who care specifically about
> Wikimedia, not as just "that organization that provides
> Wiki[whatever]", but for its full potential.  Ant recently brought up
> a thread that she wanted to see more candidates for the board with
> interests other than just on the English Wikipedia.  My response to
> that thread was more practical than idealistic - I feel that this is a
> symptom of the way the organization is currently being run (in essence
> ignoring the bylaws), and that simply encouraging more people to run
> for the board is not going to solve anything.  The membership of a
> membership-based organization is the base, and right now we don't even
> know who that membership is.
> I've been thinking a lot about what I'd like to see in the updated
> bylaws.  My current thinking is to have members of Wikimedia which are
> not tied in any way to the current projects (i.e. you don't have to
> have a log in anywhere, and you don't even have to have a computer).
> I think the part about not even needig a computer is important -
> Wikimedia is more than just the sum of its projects, and it exists in
> the real world, not on the Internet.
> The annual dues would be around $250 US, but a committee would be
> formed to introduce rules by which members could have the dues waived
> (or possibly reduced, but I'm not sure if that complication is worth
> it).  The idea is that volunteers on any of the various projects would
> be able to become members for free, but it wouldn't be automatic, and
> the rules could be different for the different projects.  The
> committee would have flexibility so that a peace core worker who
> distributes printed Wikimedia materials in some remote location, and
> can only get on the Internet once a week, can still be a member, and
> they can be a member for free.  I chose $250 because I think this is a
> big enough amount that it'll keep membership to people who truly care
> about Wikimedia, but I initially was thinking more like $100/year, and
> I'm still very flexible on this number.  I also think the number of
> members whose dues get waived will probably outweigh those who don't,
> as that seems to be within the spirit of the projects Wikimedia runs.
> Well, as I said this is just my current thinking on the matter.  If
> anyone has any comments I'd love to hear them.  If any lawyer-minded
> people want to propose some language which accomplishes this I'd love
> to hear that too.
> Anthony
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Brad Patrick
General Counsel & Interim Executive Director
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
bradp.wmf at gmail.com

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