[Foundation-l] Re: Outsiders on the Board? (was Re: Poll for Wikistandards)

Robert Scott Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Thu Feb 2 00:25:28 UTC 2006

Anthere wrote:

> Now, what I think bother Gerard is this : what if a volunteer answers 
> in OTRS and does so in the name of the Foundation, even though he has 
> received no authority/delegation to do so? Will he be protected ? 
> Probably not. He is even liable to the Foundation and should the 
> Foundation be threatened by the answer given by the volunteer, the 
> Foundation could indeed defend itself by suing the volunteer. In that 
> sense, yes, the volunteer is *less* protected than the board 
> member/officer. But here, I think the volunteer must use common sense 
> and not "imply" he is talking in the name of the Foundation when he is 
> not. Or if he does so, it is best he be careful of his answer.
> ant

Now this is an interesting situation.  Bureaucrats and admins are asked 
to "speak on behalf of the Foundation" in regards to enforcing policies 
on each of the seperate projects.  Largely they do request community 
input, but not all of the time.  For example, I routinely delete content 
due to it being offensive or simply inappropriate to the projects I am 
an admin on.  For blatant cases I don't even wait for a VfD or some 
other community mechanism.. I just delete it without even a second 
thought.  The same with blocking some users who are substantially 
crossing the line.  There are policies that I am governed by, but who is 
to stop the legal liability for an admin that deleted something which 
some other 3rd party felt should be there, or worse in the Seigenthaler 
situation where admins would be held liable and resonsible for allowing 
inappropriate content to remain, especially if it was illegal to keep 
that content.  Child pornography would be an example of a situation like 
this, where admins clearly need to get rid of that sort of content from 
all Wikimedia projects.  There shouldn't even be the need to have a vote 
to remove that sort of content.  Yes, I'm using this example as an 
extreme situation, but there are other similar situations where the line 
is considerably closer to hesitation on removal.

So are we telling admins that they become an admin on a Wikimedia 
project at their own legal and financial risk?  And in the capacity as 
an admin I do feel I should be empowered to at least act on behalf of 
the Foundation so far as the project policies are concerned in this area 
of controlling site content.  The fact that stewards and ultimately the 
board itself has oversight on the capacity to accept or reject admins 
(currently through appellate juristiction in most cases) imply some 
authority has been delegated to admins and bureaucrats, and other 
special privileges not normally granted to the typical user.

I admit that I can't speak on behalf of the Foundation in regards to 
accepting grants or buying servers, but in this very limited area I can 
speak that we don't allow point of view content, or content that 
violates copyright.

Robert Scott Horning

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