[Foundation-l] Board restructuring and community

Michael Snow wikipedia at verizon.net
Mon Apr 28 06:55:44 UTC 2008

effe iets anders wrote:
> 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.
I take to heart your comments about the lack of soliciting feedback. 
Some elements of the idea I had previously discussed with people 
(community, chapters, staff), including in my election campaign last 
year, and generally the responses I received were positive. I don't 
recall it being a topic on this list, though. The responses here to the 
Volunteer Council proposal illustrate some of the challenges of getting 
useful feedback that way. I followed that closely and had difficulty 
coming away with a useful take-home message, amid the various criticisms 
and diffusion of counter-proposals or suggested modifications.
> 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.
Lodewijk, I'm very glad to see that you've changed your labels to 
recognize that the catalyst should be the people working on the 
proposal, instead of waiting for the board to be the catalyst as you 
were putting it previously. I think it likely that if the board creates 
a council, that will end up defining its relationship to the community 
and the world at large, and it will be perceived as a creature 
(literally, "thing created") of the board. If so, it would lose nearly 
all the value hoped for in its development. On the other hand, if the 
community creates a council, then I would certainly want to be aware of 
its perspective on foundation issues, and I expect other board members 
would as well.

--Michael Snow

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