[Foundation-l] About transparency

Derrick Farnell derrick.farnell at gmail.com
Fri Dec 28 11:44:25 UTC 2007

Found the below interesting little piece about the Foundation on the web (
http://www.timshell.com/wikipedia/whyboard.html). I think it would help
matters here if the current board stated whether it is still true today. As
I stated earlier in this thread, I'm not just concerned about the demise of
'radical transparency', but also about the fact that the decision to kill it
off was apparently made without consultation with the community.

Derrick Farnell


Why is there a Board?

The main reason there is a Board is so that the state of Florida will know
who to throw into jail if the Foundation violates the law.

The Board was not formed because it was determined this would be the best
governance structure for the Foundation. It was formed because, when we went
about creating the Foundation as a non-profit, the state of Florida informed
us that a Board would be legally required.

Without this requirement, the Foundation would likely have adopted some
other form of governance, one that is more in line with the nature of the
Wikimedia projects and of the communities behind them.

The first priority of the Board is to insure compliance with all applicable

The second priority, perhaps, should be to create in practice, to whatever
extent possible, the sort of governance structure we would have adopted if
the current structure had not been imposed upon us as a matter of law.

This would involve a very flat power structure, with decision making
authority exercised by the community through a process of building consensus
and establishing social norms. If decision-making need be centralized, this
could be accomplished through the creation of decision-making nodes
(committees, perhaps chapters) which would make decisions with only a
limited scope of authority.

We may call this "community governance at the leave of the Board."

This model will never be perfectly achieved. Obviously, the need to insure
legal compliance requires that the Board have the power to veto or rescind
any action of the community. And there will be numerous cases where
decisions must be made on a Board level, if only for reasons of expediency.
But the goal in all things sould be to maximize community governance, and to
minimize hierarchy and the concentration of decision-making authority.

On Dec 27, 2007 2:21 PM, Ilario Valdelli <valdelli at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thank you.
> Ilario
> On Dec 22, 2007 10:43 AM, Florence Devouard <anthere at anthere.org> wrote:
> >
> > Some organizations and networks, for example, Wikipedia, the GNU/Linux
> > community and Indymedia, insist that not only the ordinary information
> > of interest to the community is made freely available, but that all (or
> > nearly all) meta-levels of organizing and decision-making are themselves
> > also published. This is known as radical transparency.
> >
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