[Foundation-l] Provisional Volunteer Council - proposal sent to the Board

Nathan nawrich at gmail.com
Wed Apr 2 14:44:07 UTC 2008

On Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 10:02 AM, Andrew Whitworth <wknight8111 at gmail.com> wrote:

> If terminology is a problem, perhaps we should rename it to
>  something more benign, like "volunteer committee", or "community
>  advisory board" or something.
>  --Andrew Whitworth

Terminology is always a problem when you are talking about binding
resolutions of a corporate board. Terminology appears to be a serious problem
for this particular proposal, because it is poorly written. Half of the
proposal outlines the "provisional volunteer council" but the line
item for the creation
of this body calls it the "volunteer council." It has been stated that
this group
will have no formal control or legal implications, but if you actually read the
proposal it says its functions "shall include...approving changes to the
articles of incorporation or bylaws of the Wikimedia Foundation" and
also discusses limiting the authority of the Foundation (hence, the board)
over some element(s) of the projects.

So, what does this resolution intend to accomplish? Creating a VC, or a PVC?
Giving the VC or PVC binding authority over bylaws and amendments, or
limiting its authority to "its own procedures"? Are the members supposed to
represent the community? Which part of the community? How do they represent
the community any more fully than the Board does currently? Perhaps this effort
is suffering from too many competing visions -- it doesn't appear that
there is a clear
idea of what it is, what it is for, what problem it is to address or
how this is in any
way a solution.

The issue of legal implications should have been the very first barrier
addressed (it had been mentioned more than once before Mike brought it
up in this thread). If your idea is to empower a separate body to make binding
decisions or perform a binding review function of Board decisions, in
any manner,
then a willy-nilly approach of "We don't know what we want, but lets
just get going!"
is truly ill-advised. I submit that if you have been unable to achieve consensus
on any part of this council in the past (suggested by the fact that it
has languished
for such a long time) then perhaps it is because it has some fatal flaws in its
conception, and jamming it through with the idea that you'll define it later is
not a good idea.



I've included the text of the resolution below, since I suspect some
folks didn't
actually read it before.

1. The Board of Trustees hereby creates a Volunteer Council, to serve
as a valuable complement to the Staff, Advisory Board and Board of
2. Without restricting the generality of this provision the purposes
of the Volunteer Council shall include:

 1) Offering advice and support on issues relevant to the Wikimedia Volunteers,
 2) Recommanding the opening or closure of Wikimedia projects,
 3) Approving changes to the articles of incorporation or bylaws of
the Wikimedia Foundation and
 4) Assist in establishing a clear separation between the legal
responsibilities of the Wikimedia Foundation as an Internet Service
Provider and the community decisions for the Wikimedia Projects.

3. The members from the Volunteer Council must be volunteers within Wikimedia.
4. The Provisional Volunteer Council shall report to the Board no
later than September 1, 2008, which report shall include
recommendations regarding the number and composition of the Volunteer
Council, and how the members of the Council shall be chosen. Said
report shall also include recommendations regarding the distribution
of rights and responsibilities between the Board and Council, and any
changes in the by-laws that may be necessary to implement this.
5. Except where it pertains to its own procedures, no decision of the
Provisional Volunteer Council shall bind any person.
6. On receipt of the said report the Board shall take such steps as it
deems necessary to confirm and empower the Volunteer Council, and
provide for a transition of operations from the Provisional Volunteer
7. Members of the Volunteer Council will not be financially
compensated for their activity. On approval by the Board of Trustees
expenses of the Provisional Volunteer Council and Volunteer Council in
the fulfillment of their duties may be reimbursed.
8. The following people are hereby appointed as member of the
Provisional Volunteer Council:

 Michael Bimmler, Mbimmler (Main project: de.wikipedia)
 Yaroslav Blanter, Yaroslav Blanter (Main project: ru.wikipedia)
 Lise Broer, Durova (Main projects: en.wikipedia and commons.wikimedia )
 Jesse Plamondon-Willard, Pathoschild (Main projects: en.wikisource
and meta.wikimedia )
 Sydney Poore, FloNight (Main project: en.wikipedia)
 Milos Rancic, Millosh (Main project: sr.wikipedia)
 Ray Saintonge, Eclecticology (Main project: en.wikisource, en.wikipedia)
 Andrew Whitworth, Whiteknight (Main project: en.wikibooks)
 Michal Zlatkovsky, Timichal (Main project: cs.wikipedia)

9. The members of the Provisional Volunteer Council may on a 2/3 vote
of all its members add such additional members as they may deem
necessary and useful to their deliberations.

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