[Foundation-l] Bigger Board, open Foundation membership

Robert Scott Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Mon Feb 6 04:30:16 UTC 2006

Dariusz Siedlecki wrote:

>I'm really, REALLY sorry to propose it, but we need to divide the
>current Foundation in two halfs - a community one, and an
>organizational one - one that will be part of the community and will
>do everything possible to help the projects, and another one which'll
>work on the promotion and distribution of our projects
>I think this was the idea behind the communities. I support them, but
>like I said - without Foundation members, it's hard to have community
>members and manage them.
>Basicly, that's all I wanted to say during the meeting. A bigger Board
>of 7 or maybe even 9 people would be the best. An open membership for
>anyone interested (under a small membership fee, I presume) would also
>be a good start.
>What's YOUR opinion on this?
>Dariusz Siedlecki
I think this is a terrible idea.  A bigger board for the sake of having 
a bigger board is to increase bureaucracy and slow down things even more 
than they are.  Often that is in fact a goal, and if it is, it may be a 
good idea.  Most legislative groups are specifically set up along these 
lines to slow down the legislative process and get more opinions on the 
topic, with the goal to shoot down most bad ideas even if a few good 
ideas need to get lost in the process.  This was done historicly to 
restrict the role that any one individual could have on being opressive 
and corrupt, by whatever standard you want to use.

With a smaller board they can be more responsive to new pressures and be 
able to react to rapidly changing circumstances.  A benevolant god and 
dictator is even more responsive, but I think that has been decided as 
too much.  Of course the opposite problem does occur that some bad ideas 
get implemented before they can be completely thought through.

BTW, the current organization of the Wikimedia Foundation board is 
already percieved as being bureaucratic and unresponsive to new ideas by 
contributors to various Wikimedia projects.  Most of this is merely 
communications and language issues, but it is obviously going to get 
worse before it gets better.

As far as special privileges for "membership" in the foundation, I am 
personally against this.  From my viewpoint, the thing that really 
matters to these projects is those volunteers who contribute their time 
to developing content for all of these projects we are involved with. 
 Without that, you have nothing else to work with.  The ordinary 
editor/contributor should be the most important position within the 
Wikimedia Foundation, and everything else needs to be done as merely 
support structures to make sure that the primary mission of these 
contributors is continued.  I'm afraid that some of this is getting lost 
right now.

I'm not against special "premiums" for donations, aka like the PBS 
television fundraisers in the USA, where a donation at a certain level 
would get you Wikipedia on DVD or something like that, or perhaps a 
"magazine" of some sort like the National Geographic.  Besides good 
karma for donating, membership shouldn't really mean anything nor any 
special privileges in terms of Foundation governance.  It is all a 
matter of semantics anyway about what it really means to be a member or 
contributor as well.  Keep the power with the people who are doing the work.

Robert Scott Horning

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