[Foundation-l] wikicouncil

Erik Moeller erik at wikimedia.org
Sun Dec 30 05:43:23 UTC 2007

On 12/30/07, hillgentleman <hillgentleman.wikiversity at gmail.com> wrote:
>   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.

Right now, there is no defined process for the community to have a
strong voice on key organizational decisions. And if we define the
Board as a representation of the community, then it is a very poor one
indeed: There is no true diversity or representation in any sense, be
it chapters, projects, or languages. The Wikicouncil as a separate
Board strengthens the community, rather than weakening it.

To establish checks and balances, you need individuals who actually
can provide them. And of course a competent staff _wants_ to be
overseen and advised by a competent Board and a competent community
council; a competent CFOO _appreciates_ solid advice from a competent
treasurer; the Executive Director _desires_ to be supported by a
strong Audit or Finance Committee; the CTO's life is made easier if
they can turn on feature X with authorization from the Wikicouncil.

By having a community-elected Wikicouncil, the community is empowered
to effectively pre-screen future Board members for their eligibility,
and Board and Staff can consult with this council on important
decisions affecting the community -- a much more representative body
than the current Board. And by having skill-selected Board members,
you create the kind of Board that _can_ support and check the staff.

I've spoken to people who work or have worked for quite a few very
diverse non-profits in the last few months, ranging from museums to
homeless shelters, and one of the recurring themes is that _anyone_
who contributes to an organization on any level, be it as a staff
member or as a volunteer, should serve in a capacity that is supported
by their skillset. If we restructure the organization in the coming
months, I believe this should be a key principle.

Asking a well-intentioned volunteer who has no financial
qualifications to serve on a finance committee helps nobody and might
in fact cause interference with the actual work that needs to get
done; asking a retired CFO to decide whether we want a Wikipedia in
the Moldovan language is equally pointless. Making thousands of edits
does not qualify you to approve a budget; being a CPA who loves
Wikipedia does not help you to know that a registration requirement
for contributors would be highly problematic and possibly damaging.
Erik Möller

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