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

Andrew Whitworth wknight8111 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 17 03:35:02 UTC 2007

On Dec 16, 2007 10:01 PM, Florence Devouard <Anthere9 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> The board is consequently now back at 5 members, Kat Welsh, Frieda
> Brioschi, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Jimmy Wales and myself.

Thanks for the announcement. I was under the impression that Jimmy's
activity on the board was nominal, is he more active then that?

> 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.

Maybe it would be prudent to write something to this effect into the
bylaws, to ensure proper community representation in perpetuity?

> I feel there are two paths for the future. Either we keep a board mostly
> made of community members (elected or appointed) ...
> 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*.

I agree with your assesment, the first option is far preferrable.
Somewhere in the middle would be nice too, but we should never allow
the board to become completely out of touch with the community they
represent. Also, what was the killer-deal with Google? Did we miss
something big?

> 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.

Normally google's aims have been to counteract other companies, such
as microsoft. It astounds me to learn that Google is trying to go
head-to-head with a non-profit. I dont know that I'm afraid of the
"knol" as a true competitor to us, although google's brand
recognitioncould help it along. you also have to worry that perhaps
there aren't enough people in the world who actually want to write an
encyclopedia to fuel Wikipedia, Citizendium, and Knol (among others).
Maybe this is the impetus that will drive an overhaul of Wikipedia,
making it more friendly for the hard-working authors, and less
friendly for the trolls. A "Wikipedia Renaissance" would do a lot for
our image, and could be a PR stunt that kills Knol before it ever

> 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.

If I may ask (and I certainly dont expect a good answer), what kinds
of "big shots" are we talking about? Has the board been approached by
such a person/people? Getting in with Google has been a financial
miracle for the Mozilla people, and they seem to have kept their way
without succumbing to too much corporate influence. Maybe this is the
kind of issue that should be presented plainly to the community, for
the community to decide.

--Andrew Whitworth

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