[Foundation-l] what do we do in the event the Foundation fails? - Re: Policy governance ends

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Wed Apr 18 19:07:19 UTC 2007

On 4/18/07, Platonides <Platonides at gmail.com> wrote:
> If WMF defrauds its userbase, there will be forks anyway, as there were
> on the past, like the [[Enciclopedia Libre]], which is still being
> developed in paralell.

Let's assume, for a moment, that WMF does not suddenly turn evil but
instead that it gets sued out of existence by some other entity with
very deep pockets (software patents, libel, submarine copyright
infringements, what have you).

Perhaps it would make sense for the organization to have an open
bidding process where other non-profits can apply to be the
"designated successor organization". The DSO would have to be written
into the privacy policy as regards transfer of private data, and
perhaps should also be given a certain amount of seed funding that it
can only access in the event that WMF ceases to serve Wikimedia
project content. Naturally, the DSO would have to make local backups
of all data in regular intervals.

This DSO status alone would hopefully ensure that there wouldn't be
much of a fight among competing "next Wikipedias", but that users
would instead flock to the new organization, even if that one could
not be up to speed immediately to host all the content.

As for the "turning evil" scenario, even here, such a DSO might be a
good idea, as users who campaign for a fork would have a clear
rallying point -- the only problem here is that it's hard for an
external organization to objectively decide when the time has come to
switch. I would not consider serving ads necessarily "evil", for

I think this would be a good topic to get some lawyers to brainstorm about. :-)
Peace & Love,

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