[Foundation-l] Clarification to existing resolutions

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Thu May 17 08:48:09 UTC 2007

Michael Bimmler wrote:

>On 5/17/07, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:
>>Erik Moeller wrote:
>>>I'm drafting a Board resolution to clarify the existing resolutions
>>>"Licensing policy" and "Access to nonpublic data", as follows:
>>>* Paragraph 4 of Resolution:Access to nonpublic data is clarified: The
>>>access policies for OTRS e-mail queues or other communication systems
>>>of the Wikimedia Foundation are defined by WMF office staff in
>>>accordance with the intent of the resolution.
>>It seems that the effect of this is to give office staff a blank cheque
>>for writing these policies.
>I doubt this. It clearly states "in accordance with the intent of the
>resolution". If the board feels that the staff-defined policies are
>not in accordance with the intent of the resolution, it can step in
>and direct the staff to change the policy.
Any time one introduces a phrase like "in accordance with the intent" 
you effectively introduce a weasel phrase.  The word, "intent", in 
particular opens up a wide array of possible meanings, all of which may 
be in good faith.  If the Board has set a clear policy on delicate 
issues, and a staff member goes outside the permitted bounds the staff 
member is at fault, and possibly has a greater liability when things go 
wrong, or he can be justifiably dismissed.  On the other hand, if the 
Board has not given proper direction, it can be the one that will be 
solely liable when problems occur.

Sure, the Board can step in to direct a change of policy, but by the 
time it puts its processes together to do so the office atmosphere may 
already be poisoned.  Remember too that the procedures for calling a 
meeting of an internationally based Board do not always allow for quick 

Also, to the extend that some decision making powers can be delegated to 
staff, it should be to a designated staff member rather than to the 
staff at large.


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