[Foundation-l] The Foundation is not a wiki (was Re: RfC: Key priorities for my work)

Daniel Mayer maveric149 at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 24 14:33:31 UTC 2006

-- Angela <beesley at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 9/24/06, Erik Moeller <eloquence at gmail.com> wrote:
> > As I am waiting for the result to be certified, I would like to ask
> > all of you to send me your thoughts -- privately or publicly -- on
> > what you think the key priorities should be for my work as Board
> > member.
> A few thoughts - I realise there are lots of things missing from this
> list, but this should provide a starting point:
> ...
> Make sure committees aren't going astray.

Only where the big picture goals of the foundation are concerned; the Foundation is NOT AT ALL in
the business of community governance. Nor should it ever for legal reasons (we would lose any
pretense of ISP protections if we did, of course, IANAL). 

> In conjunction with the chapter's committee, make sure every chapter
> is allowed official recognition and have a clear process for obtaining
> that (Wikimedia UK is still denied this recognition).

Perhaps through a WikiCouncil, yes. 

> Expand the Board via election (possibly Wikicouncil style elections)
> and not via appointment.

Elections alone (unless they require certain expertise for the candidate to run) will not result
in a board that has the talents needed to effectively oversee the operations of the foundation.
For example, the Treasurer of the board would need to have some expertise in the financial aspects
of running a non-profit. Other board members will need expertise in the professional aspects of
fundraising. Some members will need to be cognizant of the legal aspects of running a foundation.
And on and on. An almost completely amateur board is a really, really, bad idea. 

The foundation is not a wiki, nor is it a democracy. We MUST make sure our board has the right mix
of people who actually know how a non-profit foundation should be run. Of course, there will
always be room for up to one third (IMO) of an expanded board whose area of interest is to
represent the community of editors. But having a whole board composed of mostly those type of
people would be a recipe for disaster if they, as a group, did not have the right mix of

That said, I do think it would be interesting to explore how a WikiCouncil could act in an
advisory capacity and even be a place for community reps to be developed to the point where they
would make great community reps on the board. There might even be a direct and legal link between
a WikiCouncil and the community reps on the board. But a legal review is needed before such a link
is established (again, we don't want to lose our ISP protections). 

> Add an advisory Board.

*nod* but do understand that those type of bodies are typically a list of famous people who are
very busy with other things and have limited time to meet or give input to the regular board. So
we should not pretend that having experts there is a substitute for not having experts on the
regular board.   

> ...
> Update and revise the bylaws with community input.

That is what the community reps on the board are for. They gather the input and present that to
the full board. Then the full board takes the report of the community rep into consideration. 

> Ensure the tech committee have the authority to buy necessary hardware.

Only through an established budget process. But once a budget is passed by the board, then the
tech committee should be able to spend to that limit on hardware with the board only acting in an
oversight capacity. 

> Ensure all Board members have full access to private wikis and mailing
> lists when needed (this isn't the same as expecting them to follow all
> of those lists).

That will lead to overlapping coverage by board members in some areas and no coverage in others.
Instead, it would be better if each board member were assigned to be a liaison to particular
committees; they would then have access to that committee's private wikis and mailing lists. Also,
each committee should be creating reports that are posted on InternalWiki. Once the board approves
of the report, then all or at least part of those reports would be put on a public wiki. 

Eventually, I would like us to get rid of all the private wikis and just use internal but with
user group-based access controls on who can read what (a feature that Brion says will be difficult
to implement but something I think is very important for us to have). Having all these separate
wikis makes communication between the various parts of the foundation unnecessarily difficult.
Having every board member try to monitor everything is not an answer either. 

-- mav

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 

More information about the foundation-l mailing list