[Foundation-l] Wikimedia Job: Volunteer Coordinator

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Mon Mar 5 01:45:57 UTC 2007

Ray Saintonge wrote:
> Robert Horning wrote:
>> I guess I just don't see the point to all of this anyway or why this 
>> thread has brought out the attitudes that this has.  We are a very 
>> diverse group of people all working together, where I, as an American 
>> living in rural America in the heart of the Rocky Mountains have nearly 
>> daily conversations with people from Poland, the UK, and South Africa on 
>> collaborative writing projects.  Often I don't even know the nationality 
>> of the people that I am working with, or even what continent of the 
>> world they are really at when I am having these discussions.  I fail to 
>> see why this particular position as a Volunteer Coordinator would have 
>> to be any different in this regard.
> Sure.  Why would it not then be acceptable that the volunteer 
> co-ordinator from any of these countries?  If the person is unable to 
> secure the needed visas to work at the U.S. headquarters that should not 
> be an impediment to getting the job.
> Ec
Besides the rest of this reply being part of a flame war (I apologize 
having started that), I think the above part is a very valid question 
that does need to be answered.  I don't see any really strong reason why 
this position has to be an American any more than anything else, 
although there may be a perception of having to be somebody at the 
"headquarters" of the WMF, where ever that might be.

Part of this is more what the job duties of this position is going to 
be.  The extent that a position like this could be done through 
telecommuting is something that perhaps ought to be discussed, although 
as originally envisioned there was to be somebody who could "answer the 
phones" for the WMF in regards to this being a "staff" member in the 
office.  But at the same time there are several Wikimedia users who are 
very tech savvy and might even be able to have even conventional 
land-line telephone calls re-routed to practically anywhere in the world 
that has a reasonably high speed network link.  The normal concept of a 
traditional office is really something that would at best be an 
interface to those older more established bureaucracies who can't 
conceive of anything different.

There are problems with telecommuting, but from my experience in being 
involved with telecommuting employees is that the "remote" employee only 
gets into trouble when a new boss takes over that simply doesn't 
understand the idea in the first place.  I spent nearly four years 
working with a software development team that was located across 3 
different states simultaneously working on the very same software 
application.  It is something that can be done and is done quite 

There is no reason for the Wikimedia Foundation, which already is noted 
for pushing "leading edge" software technologies and being a very 
visible with new ways of working with content creation, to have to stick 
with the traditional view of a business office and "headquarters".  This 
sort of telecommuting shouldn't be necessarily more expensive than 
having an employee in St. Petersburg, Florida, otherwise it isn't worth 
doing.  But even trying to establish a position like this even in a 
formal business office is still going to require some substantial 
overhead above and beyond the salary of this individual.

--  Robert Horning

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