[Foundation-l] Board restructuring and community

effe iets anders effeietsanders at gmail.com
Sun Apr 27 10:09:38 UTC 2008

Dear Domas, Florence, Frieda, Kat and Michael, (and maybe Jimmy too)

Yesterday the Board announced a major change in the bylaws and power
structure. Although I see some positive aspects in the change from my
personal point of view (I have still not seen the official changes -
as you might know by now, I am for balance - so until then I can't be
definitive about that), let me summarize what is happening here:
Without asking any feedback from the community before the decision has
been made, the Board decides to convert two community seats into
chapter seats (it has always been announced that Domas' and Michaels
chair were intended to become community seats too) and two expert
seats were added, bringing down the community share in the board from
71% to 50% or 30% (depending whether you count chapter seats as
community seats) of course assuming that the expert seats will be
filled too.

This is quite a huge change with a huge impact on the power structure
of the Wikimedia Foundation and therefore of the Wikimedia Movement.
And this has been done without asking even advice to the community or
the chapters? I find this a very strange procedure for a movement as
the ours, and I am for the second time in a row very much
disappointed. This time by all community Board Members, who - all of
them! - dit NOT contact the community or chapters for a view!

I would very much like an explanation from every board member why they
have chosen not to ask the opinion of the community. Because you're
not going to sell me the story that this idea was totally new on the
board meeting, and that you had no time. Because this was of course
already on the agenda of the meeting: "We plan to dedicate saturday to
board development and governance. This will include relationships and
contractual agreement between board and executive director, possible
future council, next elections, professionalization of board, etc..."
(quote from Florence's email announcing the coming up Board meeting)

And please don't tell me either that the only "platform" there is, the
foundation-l, does not function any more. Although that statement
would be true to some extent, but it would highly puzzle me why the
heck you have concluded from the new layout of the board to *not* need
a Volunteer Council of *any* shape any more. Why you do not even want
to encourage the research after the possibilities any more... Let me
quote from your FAQ: "* `What does this [The restructuring of the
board, LG] mean for the 'wikicouncil?' -    The "wikicouncil" and
"volunteer council" were part of the board discussions about its
restructure. At this stage, we have decided to not take action on the
proposal to develop a Volunteer Council. (...)"

I think this restructuring of the Board only shows once more why we
need a Wikicouncil. The Board itself is apperently not able to ask
input herself on big decisions, and this sets a very bad precedent to
the future. Apperently the Board is in need of some kind of council
that is, in contrary to the few community members left in the board,
able to bring through the questions to the communities. Maybe the VC
would not function perfectly, but from what I am seeing now, it would
at least do a much better job, because of course this is a very sad
day for community involvement in the Wikimedia Movement.

So please, Domas, Florence, Frieda, Kat and Michael, (and maybe Jimmy
too), let's just be fair and state your opinion. What is *your*
thought about community involvement. Should community only be allowed
to say something every two years? Should community only be allowed to
say something afterwards (the perfect receipe for ranting, btw)? Do
you think community members could be smart people who have a smart
opinion about the topics you discuss? Do you think they might come up
with arguments you did not think of yet?

If you think so, you should start working, in one way or another, on
some kind of platform that is able to improve your attempts to contact
the community on major decisions. And no, I have no ready-boiled plan
for it, but I do know that there is a catalyst out there, that could
come up with a nice result. That catalyst consists of a group of
dedicated people, with a wide range of views, that could maybe come up
with something that is actually good.

If you think this all is no longer needed, then please say so, then we
know what we're up to.

I know it is not customary (unfortunately) any more that single Board
members speak up. However, in this case I find it very important not
to hear the Boards voice any more, but the individual's voice. Because
that is highly important to be able to choose between people in
elections and "chapter appointments". Is it not on a short term, then
it will be in a year, but there will be a moment, and I would like to
know who I am dealing with here. As I said before, I am disappointed
in you, and that means that I had a better impression of you.

Regards, and looking forward to all your replies,


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