[Foundation-l] Provisional Volunteer Council - proposal sent to theBoard

FloNight sydney.poore at gmail.com
Wed Apr 2 22:34:23 UTC 2008

Viable options for now.

*Have a board resolution to form a Wording Group to do a Feasibility
Study for a Volunteer Council. The Working Group is tasked with
presenting the alternatives to the Board. At a later date the Board
will pass a resolution if a Volunteer Council is selected.


*Have the the board discuss this internally with the staff and make a
decision about whether a Volunteer Council is a good idea. Might or
might not include a firm decision on the structure of the Volunteer
Council. If the decision is made to form a VC, some forms of the
Council might be excluded (for legal or other reasons) prior to
forming a Provincial Council that is tasked with getting the Volunteer
Council started. This may or may not be completed at this Board


*Delay the decision as too premature. If the transition from a
volunteer run Foundation (with the Board running the operations) to
one run by professional staff is not complete yet,  are the
professional staff able to advise the Board in a way that a good
decision can be made?


Forget the proposed resolution and make a discussion of this topic a
reoccurring topic without closure. (not a good choice)

Sydney Poore

On Wed, Apr 2, 2008 at 5:50 PM, Philippe Beaudette
<philippebeaudette at gmail.com> wrote:
> All,
>  I decided to go back to the "source", as it were and re-read the resolution.
>  Below are my concerns (inline).  My conclusion is that the members below (as
>  well as any others the Board wishes to appoint) should become a working
>  group - not a provisional council - and determine what the heck a VC would
>  do, clear it legally, and begin to define the process of appointing people
>  to it.  That does not, I believe, require a resolution this wordy or with
>  this level of detail.
>  Philippe
>  --------------------------------------------------
>  >
>  > Whereas the Board,
>  >
>  > * recognizes the value of volunteers in Wikimedia projects and that
>  > their work is the very reason of their success,
>  > * values the volunteers' opinions and takes them into serious
>  > consideration when discussing issues involving the volunteers,
>  > * is of the opinion that these volunteers should have a strong say in
>  > changes in the articles of incorporation and the bylaws of the
>  > Wikimedia Foundation,
>  No problem, agree totally.
>  > * considers a Volunteer Council a valuable intermediary between
>  > volunteers and the Foundation, and as a good instrument to hear the
>  > voice of the volunteers:
>  >
>  > it is hereby resolved that:
>  >
>  > 1. The Board of Trustees hereby creates a Volunteer Council, to serve
>  > as a valuable complement to the Staff, Advisory Board and Board of
>  > Trustees.
>  Really?  Thought we were creating a provisional council, which would
>  recommend to the Board how to create a volunteer council.  I'm uneasy about
>  the board creating a volunteer council without knowing what it is to do.
>  This resolution addresses what the VC will do, not separately what the PVC
>  will do.  I believe the resolution should be re-written with that in mind.
>  > 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.
>  I have concerns with sub-heading 2, 3, and 4.
>  For subheading two: (other than that the fact "recommending" is spelled
>  wrong), I wonder what's wrong with the process we have now.
>  For subheading three: I think this is treacherous legal territory.
>  For subheading four: Again, I think this is treacherous legal territory.
>  The words "Internet Service Provider" are carefully defined in law.  Our
>  current by-laws support that definition, and I simply don't know what impact
>  the proposed council will have on that.
>  >
>  > 3. The members from the Volunteer Council must be volunteers within
>  > Wikimedia.
>  Defined how?  1 edit?  1000?  What about sysadmins who basically don't edit?
>  If not defined here, who will define it?  The latter part of the resolution
>  specifies that the PVC will advise as to the composition of the VC, so why
>  is this resolution doing it?
>  > 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.
>  Except that we never created by resolution a PVC to report this.  I'm
>  uncomfortable with the PVC (selected, unapproved by the community beyond
>  Foundation-l) approving charter and by-law changes.  I'd be far more
>  comfortable with such changes coming from the VC, once created.  Yes, that
>  means creating an essentially neutered body and then assigning them
>  responsibility, but at least they're a community selected group and not a
>  foundation-l and effe selected group.
>  > 5. Except where it pertains to its own procedures, no decision of the
>  > Provisional Volunteer Council shall bind any person.
>  Of course it will.  Any rule-making binds people, even in selecting how to
>  select people.
>  > 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
>  > Council.
>  What if the PVC returns a Bad Thing?  Isn't the Board empowered to say "no
>  thanks, let's send this back for future study?"  If the PVC returns
>  something that's even illegal (obviously not on purpose, but I didn't see a
>  Florida lawyer on the PVC), or would take us out of compliance with funding
>  requirements, etc, I don't want this resolution to bind the Board to create
>  and empower the VC - even "as it deems necessary", which doesn't give the
>  Board a lot of wiggle room.
>  > 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.
>  This one strikes me as a bit cabalish.  I would think they could ask people
>  to serve as advisors, but if the Board appoints a PVC, that ought to remain
>  the PVC, just as when the Board appointed the election committee, we stayed
>  the election committee, though we have the freedom to ask advice of experts
>  (Tim Starling, for example, on technical issues).
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