[Foundation-l] wikicouncil

hillgentleman hillgentleman.wikiversity at gmail.com
Sun Dec 30 04:01:59 UTC 2007

  In your proposal, with the role of community reduced to a minor participant,
even in the election of a single board member,
the board and in particular the office with enhanced influence
will get unchecked power.


On 30/12/2007, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> On 12/30/07, daniwo59 at aol.com <daniwo59 at aol.com> wrote:
> > In other words, you won the election, fair and square, campaigning on  a
> > platform advocating a community-majority board. This is in contrast  with me, for
> > instance, who campaigned on a platform advocating a professional  board. Are
> > you saying that since the election, less that six months ago, you  have
> > rejected your platform and adopted my position?
> Not exactly yours, though in retrospect I have to acknowledge some of
> your criticisms of the governance model as valid. I do believe, based
> on my experience of the last year, that
> - the ability to provide corporate oversight, and the ability to help
> with fundraising, are essential to a well-functioning Board of
> Trustees;
> - some degree of organizational reform is necessary to achieve this.
> I do not believe anymore that the current model of governance is
> sufficient, and I do not exempt myself from this criticism. I do not
> want to undervalue the community experience that many of us bring to
> the table, our understanding of the history of the projects, our
> shared belief in a positive future. These are important skills and
> values that I believe need to at least be present on a governing
> Board. I used to believe that the "appointed minority" could
> complement the Board with the skills it lacks. But there are two key
> problems with that approach:
> * You don't know what you don't know.  The Board lacks the ability to
> judge _itself_, and its own deficiencies, accurately and fully, and
> the same applies to potential future Board members.
> * In our traditional view of our governance, community participation
> takes _precedence_ over any other skill. (And yes, I myself have
> supported the Bylaws which codify this principle.) The problem with
> this approach is that it's incomplete and distorted. People in key
> responsibilities continually acting outside their areas of expertise
> are likely to cause constant disruption on the staff level, and
> despair among future Board members with e.g. a serious managerial
> background.
> That doesn't mean that I do not believe there isn't a role for
> community Board members and community leadership. I've mentioned many
> times before that I consider the Advisory Board an incubator for
> potential future appointed Board members. I do believe that if we
> retain the mechanism of community election at all, a similar trial of
> participation is needed for future Board members from the community.
> Moreover, I believe we will want to increase the number of _potential_
> Board members from the community, and make sure that platform
> statements on a wiki page aren't the only thing that determines who
> runs this organization.
> I believe that the Advisory Board could be complemented by a Community
> Council (Wikicouncil), with representation from projects, chapters,
> and languages.
> I've been skeptical of such a Council before, but in this context, I
> think it makes sense. As a standing body, the Council would deal with
> community issues such as a civility taskforce, ArbCom procedures,
> political disputes among projects, etc.
> How would Board members then be chosen? I believe that the answer is a
> mechanism many non-profits use: a Nominating Committee. This committee
> should be made up of people who are neither Board nor Staff members,
> who represent both managerial competence and community values. They
> should have a high degree of freedom in nominating people from either
> the Advisory Board or the Community Council, but ideally, future Board
> members would have served for a period of time (say, 6-12 months) on
> either organizational body.
> My recommendation would be the following:
> * The Board should form a task-force to create both a Community
> Council and a Nominating Committee.
> * Due to the "know what we don't know" problem, external advisors
> (including the ED) should be given significant influence over the
> design and membership of the Nominating Committee.
> * One possible model: a set of criteria for Board members, with an
> expert Nominating Committee member charged with responsibility for
> evaluating candidates based on any one criterion. Criteria might
> include community values, wiki experience, managerial experience,
> financial skills, understanding of our legal context, collaborative
> nature, etc.
> * The NC should recommend a completely new interim Board ASAP (it
> could and probably should include existing Board members - but this
> would be up to the NC to decide, based on a serious skills
> evaluation).
> * The interim Board would serve for a period of a year; at the end of
> that period, the NC would recommend to renew terms or replace Board
> members. New Board members would have to come from the Advisory Board
> or the Community Council.
> Such a mixed model could provide us with a healthy combination of
> skills, experience, and a track record of involvement. I think the
> time for the current model is over, and whatever problems it may have
> would be compounded by a rapid expansion of the Board and the quick
> creation of a Wikicouncil-like entity without careful deliberation
> about how those entities will interact, and what they bring to the
> table.
> Best,
> Erik
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