[Foundation-l] Election rules modification regarding suffrage issues raised on this list

Philippe Beaudette philippebeaudette at gmail.com
Wed Apr 30 15:30:38 UTC 2008

From: "Michael Snow" <wikipedia at verizon.net>

> Kwan Ting Chan wrote:
>>Jussi wrote:
>>> What is the vital interest in "ensuring" that long time inactive
>>> editors don't vote? What is the threat scenario there?
>> In my opinion, I would prefer the decision to elect whoever to sit on
>> the Board to have come from active community members, rather than
>> someone who might have been inactive / left for years suddenly coming
>> back purely to vote for/against someone they like/hate. The decision for
>> such a criteria by the committee reflected such viewpoints by its
>> members.
> There have always been opposing schools of thought on this issue. Some
> people feel that allowing inactive participants to vote allows too much
> uninformed voting, because they're presumably less up to speed on the
> current situation. Or, it makes the process less resistant to
> "sockpuppet" voting by those who aren't truly inactive. Other people
> think longstanding but inactive contributors could make more
> knowledgeable votes, because they're familiar with more of the history.
> And, coming back to vote shows that they still care about Wikimedia,
> even though they may not edit. Similar issues are involved in the
> question of whether inactive administrators are allowed to retain that
> status; different projects have reached different conclusions here,
> which is entirely okay.
> I gather the election committee has considered such issues, though
> people are welcome to raise them again to ensure the committee has made
> an informed judgment here. If this remains in place, I might mention
> that inactive contributors could still have the ability to participate
> in selecting the board through, dare I say it - chapters, where their
> membership would not lapse on account of failure to edit. Indeed, one
> reason to integrate chapters into the process is to provide more
> alternatives for people to maintain their connection to the community.
> --Michael Snow

I believe that Michael's email clearly describes the thought process that 
the election committee went through.  Indeed, we talked those issues over, 
in almost exactly those terms.  I can also speak for the previous year's 
election committee (and I think safely infer for the year before that) when 
I say that suffrage requirements are usually one of the very first (and most 
tumultuous) conversations that an election committee has.  BOLD, UNDERLINE, 
ITALICIZE, and FLASHING TEXT: We take very seriously the question of who may 
vote.  It is not a decision entered into lightly, and I have an immense 
amount of respect for the work that my colleagues this year (and last year) 
and previous election committees put into it.  No one has entered the 
discussion without a great deal of pre-formed thought and the rules as they 
stand now are the product of a great deal of negotiation and concession on 
the part of all parties involved.

This year's rules don't represent 100% of what ANY single member of the 
committee wanted.  I daresay they don't represent what any member of the 
COMMUNITY wants 100%.  Rather, they are - we believe - an appropriate 
distillation of the "ideals" of all into a situation that is workable for 

We're always open to feedback, but as of now we think that we have a set of 
rules that appropriately address the feelings of the committee and the 
community at large although there will always be situations that are 
contentious.  No set of rules is perfect for everyone; we believe these 
rules are the best compilation to reflect the feelings of the millions of 
people in the community at this time.


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