[Foundation-l] Board restructuring and community

Michael Bimmler mbimmler at gmail.com
Sun Apr 27 15:29:51 UTC 2008

On Sun, Apr 27, 2008 at 5:14 PM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com>

> 2008/4/27 Mike Godwin <mgodwin at wikimedia.org>:
> > Lodewijk writes:
> >
> >  > Without asking any feedback from the community before the decision
> has
> >  > been made, the Board decides to convert two community seats into
> >  > chapter seats ...
> >  <text omitted>
> >
> > > And this has been done without asking even advice to the community or
> >  > the chapters?
> >
> >  I don't this characterization is entirely fair, Lodewijk. The opinions
> >  of the community and the chapters about governance of the Foundation
> >  and its projects, as expressed here in foundation-l and elsewhere,
> >  were weighed heavily in the course of the Board's consideration of its
> >  governance issues.
> It can't of been. There's been very little (if any) discussion about
> chapters appointing board members, since the idea never really came up
> (it may have been mentioned in passing once or twice). If the board
> wanted our opinions, they would have had to ask for them.
If SJ had his special "I agree with Anthony" moment earlier today in the
press thread, I have my "I agree with Thomas" moment (and of course "I agree
with Lodewijk" moment) right now.

I dare say that I read every post on foundation-l (quasi ex officio...) and
I try also to read up on other places where discussions could take place
(meta...) but I have seen no discussion at all of these changes.
Don't misunderstand me, I have nothing at all against these changes, I am
rather supportive of them and I think I have also made it clear in the past
that in my opinion chapters should take a more active role in WMF governance
(eg by appointing board members).

However, when it comes down to communication and consultation, I must say
that I, too, am a bit disappointed here.
Could a simple email stating "Hi all, we as a board have discussed board
structure and have tentatively agreed on the following model <explain
distribution of seats>, what do you think of it" have had any negative
impact at all?
Sure, maybe some would be opposed to it. There might even have been flame
wars but seriously, we've had this before and we somehow survived them.
If the choice is between "no requests for opinion at all" and "requests for
opinions and flamewars" afterwards, I'd rather have the flamewars, because
these we can handle, even if need be with stricter moderation.

I know that there are issues which shouldn't be discussed in public, for
legal (and possibly even PR reasons). But I'm pretty much convinced that
this one is not such an issue.

Eventually, it is always the board that has to decide on what actually
happens. I'm not saying that the board needs to follow the consensus of
foundation-l because this list is neither a fair representation of the
Wikimedia community nor a group of governance experts.
The board would still be at liberty to make decisions contrary to the
majority views on this list, stating that it preferred to listen to other
sources (be it external advice or other internal Wikimedia-related

But, simply put, asking wouldn't have hurt.


Michael Bimmler
mbimmler at gmail.com

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