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

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Mon Dec 17 03:54:56 UTC 2007

I would like to thank Erik Moeller and Michael Davis for all your hard
work for the Foundation during the times you've been Board members.


On Dec 16, 2007 7:01 PM, Florence Devouard <Anthere9 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> 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.
> Best
> Florence
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-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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