[Foundation-l] Wikipedia:Office Actions

Brad Patrick bradp.wmf at gmail.com
Fri Apr 27 02:12:19 UTC 2007

(1) I want to make clear to anyone still reading this thread that the
existence of Foundation authority to have final say-so over something
involving a legal threat, which in the eyes of the Foundation and its
counsel (meaning, explicitly, the board in consultation with lawyers) is
sufficient to merit action, is *non-negotiable*.  Anarchists, free love for
everyone types and anyone else who disagrees with that statement on
principle needs to get past it.  Simply put - if you disagree the
Foundation  has the *authority* to do it, you are wrong.

(2) Assuming (1) is true, *whether* the Foundation (explicitly meaning the
board, acting through its own employees or lawyers) chooses to act in any
particular circumstance is a matter of judgment on which people can disagree
for many reasons.  The facts of a particular circumstance mean it will
always be a case of "it depends."

(3)  People who "trust" (in the sense of being more willing to accept) the
actions of individual users in any particular project over the WP:OFFICE
actions of the Foundation board members (who have an irrevocable fiduciary
duty to the Foundation) or staff (who are employed by the Foundation) are
either (a) misguided in their understanding of the policy (which may be
reasonable given this thread) (b) have their priorities upside-down (project
over Foundation) or (c) are simply newbies who haven't learned how this is
structured.  The answer to someone who is suspicious of an action is ASSUME
GOOD FAITH *precisely* because it is the Foundation acting.  Volunteers come
and go, the Foundation is the Foundation.  That is what matters.

The fact this discussion is occurring is evidence of a lack of
communication, but I fear the suggestion of hyperexpansion of policy pages
will stir things up in ways that are in the end, unfortunate.  EN:WP has
been the historic source of this for many and obvious reasons.  GMaxwell got
it right - if it is this rare, don't overdesign.  Just deal with it

Bottom line:  All legal threats should be brought to the attention of the
Foundation office, no matter what the project, language or country.  Don't
try to forge an answer yourself if the legal threat is a real one.  And if
you can't tell the difference, you have no business addressing the threat at

Brad Patrick
*Former* General Counsel and interim Executive Director.

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