[Foundation-l] Erik's New Job

Andrew Whitworth wknight8111 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 19 15:00:01 UTC 2007

I do want to thank Erik and Sue for these clarifications. A little
clarification (especially on this list) can help to end a lot of
speculation and worrying.

> 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.

There are some details that certainly don't belong on a public mailing
list. However, there are a lot of pieces of information that really
could be handed out along the way, before you drop the bombshell that
a board member has resigned and then been hired for a position that
was never publicly announced.

This could be as simple as Sue saying "I have some ideas in mind about
various new positions that I might like to create if I can find
exactly the right people to do them". Or "We need more paid staff
members for various reasons, and I am conducting a private search for
qualified individuals." Very small and vague statements like that go a
long way to making us *feel* like there is more openness and
communication, and that makes everybody happier. Even Erik, who was
elected to the board by the community on a platform of better
transparency and communication could have said "I am entertaining the
idea of dropping my other commitments (including possibly resigning
from the board and quitting my current job) so that I can focus my
attention on Wikimedia full-time". Instead of people accusing you of
this or that underhanded dealing, you would have been received as a

> 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.

We do want to make sure that the board and the staff are competent,
and It's hard to make sure of anything when there is no communication.
It's hard to assume competency when all the decisions seem to be made
in an avant garde "surprise" kind of way. Again, there would be fewer
surprises if information flowed in our direction just a little more

> Increasing the number of people involved in the decision does not
> necessarily increase the quality of the decision;

No, and I wouldn't claim that it is. But nobody yet has asked to have
been involved in the decision-making, people have only been asking to
have been alerted to the possibility beforehand. We want more
information, not necessarily more say.

Foundation-l may certainly not be the correct venue for these kinds of
announcements, and if not then a proper venue needs to be found or
even created. If you don't want other people to comment, make it

> 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. :-)

I sincerely hope so, and I'm glad that you recognize the need for
this. Occasional updates, even short statements about what is going on
would be highly appreciated.

--Andrew Whitworth

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