[Foundation-l] Wikipedia:Office Actions

Peter van Londen londenp at gmail.com
Fri Apr 27 11:29:44 UTC 2007

You are right, I don't think anyone on this list disagrees with your number
(1), but the problem really is with (3).

What fact is and should be done and accepted by the communities (i.e. accept
an "intrusion" by the Office in what the community see as, how untrue, their
affairs) is different of how the Foundation/Office is seen by the
communities. Jimbo as his former roll as the "God-King" is different than
the present roll of Board and the Staff (also in perceived authority).

The action from Anthere together with someone on IRC and the outcome
afterwards makes perfectly clear that the policy is not the solution here.
What can you really do when your policy says the office can remove content,
but the community decides to act counterwise after the office has done their
action and left: put a guard dog there? This is a fundamental flaw in the
policy: you do not delegate the problem (or the follow-up of the problem) to
the particular community; a lot of people reacting in this thread says in
fact the community can not be trusted with this, I politely disagree.

There are several ways how you can solve this apparent lack of trust to and
authority of the Foundation.
1) The hard way: push all your policies in place, make a bureaucracy, make
the people accept it (confrontation)
2) Build up the position of the Foundation in the communities, communicate
and let them trust you (maybe backed up by a policy, but this would not be
needed then anyhow). The long way, you have to put in a lot of work and time
(which seems to be lacking anyhow, seeing what the board has to accomplish
in short time).
3) Follow-up on the decentralizing process started with the local chapters
(but local chapters do not have much to say until now), so that is give the
local chapters more power so they will be able to solve their own problems.
4) Use the existing structures and networks: i.e. delegation of these
problems. And if this does not work, you can always push through afterwards.

What stunned me is your statement that the Foundation is the Foundation and
the volunteers are the volunteers and what that seems to imply. The
foundation is mostly made up of volunteers itself !! and the
content/communities are the assets (see a different thread on that): If the
Foundation cease to exist (which is not unimaginable), there will be (maybe
after some time) another Foundation. I don't see how content/communities
would not be able to survive in this process. The core of the different
communities are certainly dedicated to the ideal (maybe even more because
they are not paid for that).

Anyhow my idea was to *help* the Office, but if one wants to do it the hard
way: it is their choice.

Kind regards, Londenp

2007/4/27, Brad Patrick <bradp.wmf op gmail.com>:
> (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
> 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
> responsibly.
> 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
> all.
> Brad Patrick
> *Former* General Counsel and interim Executive Director.
> _______________________________________________
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> foundation-l op lists.wikimedia.org
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