[Foundation-l] Erik's New Job

symode09 at hotmail.com symode09 at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 19 09:25:12 UTC 2007

Couldn't agree more

From: "Erik Moeller" <erik at wikimedia.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2007 5:52 PM
To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Erik's New Job

> On 12/19/07, phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I find the lack of public search less worrying than the complete lack
>> of public discussion over what the position might do and why we might
>> need someone as Deputy Director in the first place. One difference
>> between WMF and other organizations is historically we *have*
>> discussed things like this.
> I don't believe that hiring and staffing decisions are something that
> belongs on a public mailing list. This is not a question of
> transparency, it's a question of competency and knowledge.
> - Competency: Wikimedia has a strong culture of "everyone can do
> anything and comment on everything". It's a culture of self-selection
> and free association. A 14-year-old may make as meaningful
> contributions to an article about the British nobility as a
> 50-year-old tenured professor (or someone pretending to be one,
> *cough*).
> And that's fine when you are dealing with a self-correcting
> encyclopedia that is built through a process of deliberation and
> consensus-building, and where it's an acceptable characteristic that
> any given article may be rubbish at any given time.
> But an organization cannot function under the same parameters. You
> cannot "revert" a bad hiring decision; you cannot "rollback" money
> that's been spent. So you want to make sure that you have a competent
> core team that makes these decisions. Not every decision benefits from
> a scattershot approach of asking hundreds of self-selected interested
> individuals what they think: you end up spending too much time
> separating noise from signal.
> - Knowledge about the needs of the organization will typically be
> concentrated among a fairly small group of people. This is also not a
> question of transparency: Our meritocratic systems of volunteer
> participation make it relatively easy for anyone willing to spend
> enough time to be in the loop on almost anything. [It could & should
> be easier still!] But only a tiny number of people have a full-time
> role in Wikimedia or can afford to spend a near-equivalent amount of
> time _caring_ about the needs of the organization. And even among
> these, knowledge and interests are specialized: into technology,
> chapters, administrative work, fundraising, etc.
> It's the _job_ of the Executive Director to have a high level view of
> the operational needs of the Foundation. And if she is any good at her
> job, then she will concentrate and process in her mind a fairly large
> amount of knowledge on this topic: more so than anyone else.
> Increasing the number of people involved in the decision does not
> necessarily increase the quality of the decision; unconnected
> additional bits and pieces of information do not self-assemble into a
> hiring strategy.
> The Foundation has gone through many dramatic transitions and
> disruptive changes throughout its history. What it needs at this point
> in time is a little bit of harmony and trust: We're trying to do
> something amazing, and we need to pull together to get it done. And
> whether we're paid or not, we all appreciate support, kindness and
> generosity.
> Sue & I will try to be transparent about what we're doing & why.
> Though I haven't officially started yet, I am volunteering on a number
> of important fronts -- so much so that I won't have much time to spend
> on mailing list conversations. But I hope that I'll be able to give a
> reasonable length update about  what I've been up to after the
> holidays. And once I'm officially on the job, I'll try to post updates
> on a regular basis. :-)
> Thanks,
> Erik
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