[Foundation-l] Some views with regard to current discussion

Jan-Bart de Vreede wiki at devreede.net
Thu Apr 19 20:00:34 UTC 2007

Ray Saintonge wrote:
> The opinions may be a little raw, and though Florence and Erik may 
> differ significantly, they are at least open enough to let us know their 
> opinions without dancing about in cryptic diplomatic niceties.  It would 
> be of benefit to hear from other board members as well.
Hi All,

As a non-elected board member of the Board of Trustees I try to stay out 
community discussions. You have four board members who are doing a very 
good job at this (even if this is not always public). However, recent 
events prompt to at least post a message here explaining my viewpoints 
on certain issues.

With regards to the current discussion going on Foundation-l between 
board members and Danny as a former employee I can say that I feel it is 
distracting from the really important discussion. In my view the 
community is the most important asset (not the brand, not the content). 
Trying to find a way to run a non-profit entity within the law and 
trying to harness the power that this community has at the same time is 
very important. We do this in order to make sure that the foundation is 
doing the things that the community needs to make the different projects 

This is why I think that Florence’s post on Governance, and the 
discussion on this are the most important thing to be talking about 
right now. Trying to find an ED (a non profit CEO) is one of the tasks 
that the board is working on at the point. At the same time there are a 
lot of issues which the board is also dealing with and believe me, there 
is a lot of hard work going on. Your elected community members are 
spending a lot (if not all) of their free time dealing with these issues.

On a different matter I have expressed my opinion that I do not feel 
that former employees should be able to run for an elected board 
position within a year of their departure. There are several reasons for 

1) Part of good governance is that there is a clear separation between 
operations and the board of trustees. Having former employees run for 
the board soon after their employment could make this very hard.

2) We run the risk that the discussions between potential candidates are 
unfair. What I am seeing right now is that current board members are not 
able to respond fairly to some of the very vague accusations that are 
being made, simply because they are not allowed to divulge all 
information. Former employees do not always have this problem.

3) It seems fair to accuse a current board member of bad performance 
(rightly so if this really is the case), but divulging information about 
a former employee and his/her performance is not acceptable because 
there is a different relationship (employee / employer). This makes 
discussion somewhat one-sided again.

4) Several positions with the foundation office allow people to get a 
lot of exposure within the community as part of their duties. One of the 
unfortunate aspects of elections is that a lot of people simply vote for 
“known” candidates without always considering their plans or vision. 
This means that if a former employee runs for the board, he or she has 
effectively used foundation time and money to build their support, that 
does not seem right.

Lets be very clear on this. Although this is my point of view I feel 
that you can only make this kind of decision after elections have just 
taken place. So if Danny feels that he wishes to run he is of course 
free to do so.

While I have this platform I would like to express my support and 
gratitude for the hard work that is currently being done within the 
Wikimedia office in Florida and by the other people who are employed by 
the foundation across the world. The sudden departure Danny without a 
proper transfer of knowledge, combined with the start of new employees 
and a lot of new things happening make this an especially trying time 
for them. I applaud the way that they seem to start each week with 
renewed enthousiasm and keep getting results that help all of us. The 
same goes for your elected board members, and especially your Chair 
Florence (who is indeed not CEO because she is much too valuable to be 
missed as the Chair of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees and 
the two jobs cannot be combined)

Feel free to mail me privately with your thoughts or post them to this 
public forum. I will probably not be posting a lot of public replies if 
we get into a lot of details. As mentioned before I try to stay out of 
community discussions as this is simply not my role but in this case I 
wanted to make an exception.

Jan-Bart de Vreede

The opinions in this email reflect my own and not those of the entire 
board of trustees.

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