[Foundation-l] Board retreat outcome

florencedevouard anthere at anthere.org
Fri Nov 10 00:45:18 UTC 2006

Dear all,

Now is the time to be a little bit more specific.


On a very short term basis, (re ?)-organise the board activity (meeting, 
agenda, reporting, interaction with other bodies) to ensure the board 
makes its *best* to fullfil its mission according to our commun vision. 
This includes setting up regular informal meeting times for the board 
and the ED (executive director, Brad), setting up irl board meetings, 
clear agenda, reports from ED to board, etc...

Brad is now sending to the board a weekly report on executive activity.
This report is followed by an irc meeting every wenesday ("ED meeting"). 
This meeting is still very much a mixture of ED report and Board 
meeting, but I expect that over time, it should be primarily executive. 
Board members will not be expected to attend every week, but only 
according to their availability and (their interest in) the agenda. It 
may be that once things are running more smoothly, such meetings will be 
every 2 weeks.
Examples of issues discussed yesterday is "property & casualty insurance 
review", "update on matching donation requests", "freenode donation 
implementation", "WIPO fees", etc...
I hope these meetings will help ensure no issue is forgotten or none is 
left pending for an unacceptable time.

Aside from these executive meetings, I will try to keep a pace of one 
board meeting per month, where the focus will be on discussing strategic 
issues, making high-level decisions, directing the ED to implement these 
decisions and generally monitoring the general directions and pace of 
executive. All board members will be expected to attend such meetings 
and the agenda will be defined well in advance.
The next meeting of the sort should occur in Florida, end of november or 
beginning of december. Issues to be discussed include
* deciding the procedure for the board expansion
* populate the advisory board
* vote on new bylaws
* approve budget etc
* finalize annual report etc...

To keep up with board decisions, I invite you to remember that link: 

In the past year, most board decisions have been explicitely written 
down on resolutions. Since Brad was hired, it has not been clarified 
though, which decisions were under the authority of the board and which 
under the authority of the executive director. I expect this will be 
pinned down in the next few weeks.


To know the basics about the board retreat, I invite you to read again
Oscar report: 
SWOT analysis: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/SWOT

During the retreat, the participants made many suggestions. The outcome 
was analysed and the actions to be done by the board, versus the actions 
to be done by individuals or committees were separated.

You may find the board actions and outcome here: 

To comment a little bit more on the various actions.
1) Executive Director search.
Brad was hired on a temporary basis, to relieve Jimbo from executive 
duties and to start the process of growing from a family organisation to 
a more professional organisation. Part of his mission is to help us find 
an executive director, who we wish to have already worked for a 
non-profit, and preferably at the international level. The search 
committee existence and role has been approved on the 8th of nov.
First review of the process will be at the next big board meeting.
The general outcome of this action is to have a brand new ED by end of 
spring beginning of summer 2007 at latest.

2) Board expansion strategy
This was already discussed a lot, but the issue we meet is whether 
expansion should be done rather with appointment, rather with direct 
elections or rather with indirect elections. An issue to discuss before 
december is the "wikimediacouncil".

3) Fixing up bylaws
This is meant to fix many inconsistencies, many of them having appeared 
due to our growth. We need sustainable bylaws.
Along with bylaws, we have discussed modifications of the mission of the 
Foundation during the retreat (http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mission). 
Erik will engage the community on this one.

4) Advisory board
I'll simply remind my call for suggestion: 

Do not hesitate to ask questions on all those. Trolling will not be 


Brad made us a summary of such outcomes: 

All these outcomes fall under the following categories

1. Organizational
2. Finances
3. Public relations and messaging
4. Technology
5. Legal
6. Operations
7. Program development

I'll comment very little on these. Do not hesitate to comment or ask 
more details (we may not always answer, but will try).

There are only two issues on which I will comment because they are very 
near my heart.

First, chapters.
During the board retreat, a lot of the discussion turned around the 
difference between Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia.
Wikimedia is seen as a larger group, including the Foundation and the 
In the new mission statement, the Foundation acknowledges the existence 
of the chapters. This is the first step in acknowledging that what we 
want to do is to build a network, a worldwide net of influence, 
promotion, support of the projects. Between the Foundation and the 
chapters, there can be, they must be, a mutual benefit. A mutual benefit 
for the projects and for knowledge dissemination. All structures are  
self reinforcing one another. And between the Foundation and the 
chapters, there must be rights and duties on both sides.
For example, a chapter may help the Foundation with a server donation, 
but mostly, it can help promotion of project, organisation of events, 
political "lobbying", educational contacts, and distribution of content 
at a local level, which the Foundation can not so easily take care off.
We are working very hard right now ("we" is mostly chapcom and some 
chapter members) to define rules and guidelines to  recognise an 
association is a chapter, to define rights and obligations of all 
parties, trademark uses etc... There are still many difficulties on the 
road (such as financial sharing), but the first big step has been done. 
The step of making us a whole.

My second point is on program development. This is long term thinking. 
And usually, it is not urgent, so tends to be forgotten in the perpetual 
rush to fix what is urgent (buy new servers, pay the hosting bill, renew 
a domain name, cool down a complain, do a checkuser for the police, 
chase a worm etc....). Time goes by, and many things that could get 
done, are not done. There is a lot of interest from several editors 
right now. I am happy we took steps to focus a bit on program 
development. Many projects could see the day, DVDs of content, academic 
conferences, audio versions, accessibility, outreach etc...  Much to do

Anyway, this was a very long email. I wish that you read carefully all 
documents. Realise as well that a whole subcommunity is developing 
around Wikimedia issues. If you wish to be part of it, you have a 
chance, provided that you are serious and show you can be trusted.

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