[Foundation-l] Our values

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 1 02:23:52 UTC 2008

daniwo59 at aol.com wrote:
> Florence,
> This is a very commendable email, and I admire its simplicity. The  values 
> you suggest are instinctive to anyone who has been involved in the  projects for 
> a while, but as Wikimedia grows, it is important to reiterate them  again and 
> again for new staff and new project members, who have not been raised  on 
> them. 
> That said, I do have a couple of questions and hope that you can  clarify.
> In a message dated 1/29/2008 5:06:37 PM Eastern Standard Time,  
> anthere at anthere.org writes:
> Our  community is our biggest asset
> We are a community-based organization. We  must operate with a mix of
> staff members, and of volunteers, working  together to achieve our mission.
> We support community-led collaborative  projects, and must respect the
> work and the ideas of our community. We must  listen and take into
> account our communities in any decisions taken to  achieve our mission.
> Question: "Community" has always been a mantra of our projects. As such, I  
> was a bit surprised by an email exchange with Jay Walsh last week, in which he  
> said: "I'm hesitant to use the word 'community' as much as I'm hesitant to  
> call people 'audience.' In reaching out to communicate, so far at least, I'm  
> more inclined to speak of users, editors, stakeholders, casual readers etc - 
> but  this is my personal interpretation." I found his comment counter-intuitive, 
>  given the nature of the projects to date, and wonder if you might clarify 
> your  opinion on "community" and the terms used to describe it.

Maybe I can point out to 
for a start ?

In my mind, the community here is a mix of "editing community", 
"developer community" and "other people helping the WMF and who are not 
part of the two first group".

Arguably, we could expand that to "all those who have something to say 
about us". But keep in mind that this is intended as a guideline for the 
staff, or for outsiders to get to know us more. I actually prefer that 
the staff be more inclusive than the guidelines say, and actually also 
listen to what BusinessWeek, the New Yorker, Larry Lessig, the director 
of Alexandria Library, Assouline, or the Pope have to say. Than 
requiring that they listen to any jerk who thinks he "has it right about 
us". That would make no sense.
So, yes, Jay has to speak to and share with ALL stakeholders. But this 
is not what is said above.

> of service is a priority
> We will try our best to give  access to high quality Wikimedia project
> content 24 hours a day and 7 days,  as well as provide access to
> regularly updated, user-friendly, and free  dumps of Wikimedia project
> content.
> To insure world-wide, unrestricted,  dissemination of knowledge, we do
> not enter into exclusive partnerships,  with regards to access to our
> content or use of our  trademarks.
> Freedom
> We make extra efforts to use only free software  on our own servers, and
> to support open and patent-free media formats that  are viewable and
> editable with free software.
> Question: This was the subject of some debate last week, also on this  
> mailing list. Are we committed "exclusively" to open and patent-free media  formats 
> that are viewable and editable with free software?

For now, we are commited to nothing.
I told the community some time ago that the board has been proposed a 
file format policy. As of today, no one but me has motion to vote the 

I am not sure whether than means that
* they were lazy, not available, tired, distracted, etc...
* or they actually do not agree we should commit exclusively to open and 

We were supposed to have a board meeting this evening, but both Jimbo 
and I were forcely offline at that moment. It will be next week and it 
is on the agenda. Remind me to inform you if necessary ;)

> Transparency
> We must communicate Wikimedia Foundation  information in a transparent,
> thorough and timely manner, to our  communities and more generally, to
> the  public.
> Independance
> As a non-profit, we mostly depend on gifts  to operate (donations,
> grants, sponsorship etc...). It is very important to  us to ensure our
> organization stays free of influence in the way it  operates. For this
> reason, we strictly follow a donation policy, reserve  the right to
> refuse donations from a limited number of sources, and try to  multiply
> the number of sources.
> Question: As a charitable organization, it is easy to become dependent on  
> the largesse of major donors, who could hold considerable sway over day-to-day  
> operations. The answer is either to find an independent revenue stream or to  
> create an endowment to ensure that basic costs are covered in perpetuity.  
> Frankly, I am biased. I believe that "Independence" is the most important of  
> these values--without it we will not be able to withstand challenges to all the  
> other values. As such, what steps are being taken to ensure the Foundation's  
> financial independence?

You are perfectly correct, it is major issue.
We recently took an important step in modifying the gift policy


Do you have other steps to suggest or directions to explore that would 
help Danny ?

> I believe in the values as you expressed them, and I am confident that the  
> Board will vote unanimously in support of them. I am just curious about some of 
>  the practical implications, and eager to hear your thoughts on them.
> Danny

Does that answer your questions ?


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