[Foundation-l] Board-announcement: Board Restructuring

Geoffrey Plourde geo.plrd at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 28 17:03:32 UTC 2008

Giving the community the finger generally does not lead to a happy community. The volunteers are the reason why we have Wikimedia, not the other way around. 

----- Original Message ----
From: Brad Patrick <bradp.wmf at gmail.com>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 9:52:43 AM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Board-announcement: Board Restructuring

It would be best for those critical of the Board (and feeling that the
community is the most important ideal) to remember that whether you like it
or not, agree with it or not, or would have selected an alternative reality
or not, it is still the case that the Board is that which governs the
Wikimedia Foundation, a US corporation, and is responsible for the ownership
of its assets (servers, etc.) and has a legal, fiduciary obligation to act
in its best interests.  The Board members are themselves obligated under the
law to act in the best interests of the Foundation.  That as a matter of
convention means giving due regard to "the community" whatever that term
means, but the fact that the Board allows elections to put people up for
Board positions in no way whatsoever gives "the community" an *entitlement*
to that process or results.  As is oft-repeated, WMF is not a membership

Within the spirit of civil discourse, to those who are feeling frustrated
and demanding action, I submit - "so what are you going to do about it?"  I
suggest you be pragmatic.  You do not have any means of grabbing the reins
of power from the Board, and you don't have any entitlement to anything
except your ability to participate in a project, if you choose, a chapter,
if you choose, or to speak up in some forum.  You don't have a "right" to
vote on anything, and the Board could just as easily have a contest than an
election to fill Board seats.

I have always held that position that a Board composed of wise, talented
people with a wealth of experience is the better form of corporate
governance.  Self-selecting fiduciary boards have served charitable and
educational organizations honorably and well for over four centuries.

Stop whining and ask yourself if you have the objective qualifications to
lead an international organization.  If not, work on obtaining the skills to
be such a leader, if you choose.  Toiling on a project is neither a
necessary nor sufficient condition to be a Board member at WMF.

On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 12:29 PM, Andrew Whitworth <wknight8111 at gmail.com>

> I don't necessarily want to be as confrontational as Jason is here,
> but I agree with his sentiment completely. The board is not some
> competely separate entity from the community at large. The board is
> just another group of volunteers who want to help manage the legal and
> financial logistics of this foundation, instead of writing content or
> blasting vandals, or whatever. Volunteers decide their own level of
> participation, and such decisions are not demonstrations pf any level
> of quality, commitment, expertise or intelligence.
> Maybe the current board forgets it's own humble origins as a select
> group of highly-motivated community members. I would like to cite an
> old adage that says "It is never likely that you alone are correct and
> that everybody else is wrong." Taken in context here, I think it's
> highly unlikely that the board is so aloof and so omniscient that they
> can safely disregard the opinions of the community at large. Or, it is
> highly unlikely that what the community at large wants or does not
> want should be ignored off-hand.
> --Andrew Whitworth
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