[Foundation-l] wikicouncil

Mike Godwin mgodwin at wikimedia.org
Sun Dec 30 02:42:01 UTC 2007

Alison writes:

>  Setting aside for the moment my concerns that Erik is writing  
> opinions
> here now that he has been appointed DepED, a clear conflict of  
> involvement
> if not of interest ...

In my own experience of nonprofits, it has not been considered  
problematic for staff members to express opinions on matters of  
policy, including organizational governance.  At the Electronic  
Frontier Foundation, at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and  
at Public Knowledge -- the three nonprofits I worked at before coming  
to Wikimedia Foundation -- it was considered a benefit, and not a  
conflict, for staff members to offer input about how they believed the  
organizations should run. I would hate it if we felt we had to depart  
from that tradition here.

So, my belief is not only that it isn't a problem for Erik to offer  
his opinion, but also that it's a sign of organizational health that  
he can do so.  I also think that it helps the community to hear how  
staff members think about such issues -- certainly more helpful than  
if the staff feels compelled to keep quiet about them.  (It's also  
helpful to staff to hear where the community disagrees with staff  
opinions -- but we can't know when such disagreements occur unless  
staff are free to offer opinions.)

I hope my own opinion is taken in the spirit in which it's offered!


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