[Foundation-l] [Announcement] update in board of trustees membership

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 17 03:01:27 UTC 2007

Dear community,

As chair of the board of trustees of Wikimedia Foundation, I would like 
to announce that Erik Moeller has decided to resign from the board two 
days ago. Erik decided to reorient his activities in other directions, 
and I hope we'll continue to be able to work together constructively 
from here on.

A few days ago, Lodewijk pointed out to me that I forgot to announce 
clearly to this list that Michael Davis was no more board member, as 
planned at last october board meeting. As a reminder, Michael Davis had 
expressed the wish to move on and leave his seat for a while already. He 
officially quit the seat end of november. Michael has helped greatly in 
the first years of existence of the Foundation, so I hope you will have 
a thank you thought for him. You hardly ever heard of him, but he was 
really helpful a several critical moments in the life of the Foundation.

The board is consequently now back at 5 members, Kat Welsh, Frieda 
Brioschi, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Jimmy Wales and myself.
Michael seat is more or less reserved to our future treasurer, or if we 
can not find the treasurer as board member, at least to a 
skilled-financial oriented person.

Erik's seat is open again. The board agreed to propose the seat to a 
community member, and agreed on a person. The person has been approached 
and has not given any answer yet. There is no real urgency anyway.
The seat will be an appointed one, up for new elections in a few months.

In a situation where we will welcome many more staff members not from 
the community, I think it is doubly important that the board membership 
be from the community. I will personally support an increase of the 
membership, with a focus on members coming from the community. I'd love 
as well having a seat or more being a representant from the chapters.
Recently, there has been discussions over the limited professional 
skills of board members. At the same time, we are developing a staff 
mostly made of highly skilled professionals.

I feel there are two paths for the future. Either we keep a board mostly 
made of community members (elected or appointed), who may not be 
top-notch professionals, who can do mistakes, such as forgetting to do a 
background check, such as not being able to do an audit in 1 week, such 
as not signing the killer-deal with Google, but who can breath and pee 
wikimedia projects, dedicate their full energy to a project they love, 
without trying to put their own interest in front. A decentralized 
organization where chapters will have more room, authority and leadership.

Or we get a board mostly made of big shots, famous, rich, or very 
skilled (all things potentially beneficial), but who just *do not get 
it*. A centralized organization, very powerful, but also very top-down.

My heart leans toward the first position of course. But at the same 
time, I am aware we are now playing in the big room and current board 
members may not be of sufficient strength to resist the huge wave.

I do not share the same optimism than Jimbo with regards to Knol. I 
think Knol is probably our biggest threat since the creation of 
Wikipedia. I really mean the biggest. Maybe not so much the project 
itself, but the competition it will create, the PR consequences, the 
financial tsunami, the confusion in people minds (free as in free speech 
or as in free of charge). Many parties are trying to influence us, to 
buy us, and conflicts of interest are becoming the rule rather than the 
exception. There are power struggles on the path.

Rather than spending time bugging the board about whether we did a 
background check on Carolyn 18 months ago (we did not, period), I'd like 
the current community to realize that we are currently at a crossroad. 
The staff will hopefully stabilize and be successful under the 
leadership of Sue. I trust her to have this strength. But the 
organization in its whole is currently oscillating. We can try the path 
of the community, at the risk of being engulfed by the big ones. We can 
try the path of letting our future in the hands of the big shots, at the 
risk of loosing what is making us unique.



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