[Foundation-l] Update on April board meeting

Michael Snow wikipedia at verizon.net
Mon Apr 20 06:02:36 UTC 2009

This is my report on the April board meeting, which was held in Berlin 
on April 3-5, in conjunction with a meeting/conference of the Wikimedia 
chapters. But first, let me say that it was wonderful to be able to 
coordinate so these could happen in the same place. I really appreciated 
the opportunity to get to know the chapter representatives, exchange 
ideas, and get a sense of their plans, priorities, and concerns. Thanks 
to Wikimedia Deutschland as the host, those that contributed so we could 
make sure every chapter was represented (itself an impressive 
accomplishment), and all who participated. My biggest regret is that we 
still had to have the board meeting and thus couldn't spend all of our 
time with the chapters, who had plenty to work on and discuss themselves.

This will only be a brief summary, but I want to at least touch on some 
of the more important points from the board meeting. As usual, more 
detailed minutes will be published later. And yes, we are trying to 
release the minutes more quickly - in fact, James has a draft for us to 
review already.

For housekeeping items, we approved the minutes from the January meeting 
(previously published, so you may have seen them already - in fact, they 
were published before we actually approved them), along with the Form 
990 to be filed with the IRS. Once our auditors report back that it has 
indeed been filed, it will be posted along with an FAQ. With that 
complete, the Audit Committee has been reconstituted for the coming 
fiscal year's cycle, and all of its members are staying on. Sue also 
briefly reported on the status of the CPO hiring process, the result of 
which was recently announced so you already know about that.

Moving on to larger items of discussion, we spent some time on the issue 
of biographies of living people (or BLP, for the acronym-happy), which 
is an ongoing challenge in a number of Wikipedia languages. Since the 
Wikimedia Foundation doesn't control the content of the projects, and 
editing is entirely the domain of the volunteer community, there are 
limits to what the board should appropriately do here. Ultimately we 
worked on and passed a formal statement on the issue, which we'll be 
publishing shortly. We also passed a brief statement on the foundation's 
approach to trademarks. Both of these are in general terms, and the 
ideas in them are probably not new to most of you, but we think they 
contain some important shared principles.

Sue presented an overview of the annual plan for 2009-2010, which the 
staff is currently developing and will be finalized before the end of 
the fiscal year in June. The annual plan is a regular part of our 
operations, but beyond that, we discussed development of a long-term 
strategic plan for the organization. This is something that would frame 
the overall goals and direction of Wikimedia, not just the foundation 
but the overall movement, and supply the goals that an annual plan would 
seek to implement at an operational level. We touched on the strategic 
plan during a combined session of the board with the chapters and got a 
lot of interesting thoughts and positive feedback. Since our meeting, 
the board has recently passed a resolution directing Sue to develop a 
working process for this strategic plan. We anticipate it will really 
kick off around July, and be ongoing for roughly a year or so. It's been 
emphasized throughout that the planning process will need to involve the 
Wikimedia projects, chapters, and volunteers participants at all levels, 
so this will be fairly unusual and challenging compared to strategic 
planning as it is done in typical organizations.

Also, my apologies for not posting the agenda items here for everyone's 
information in advance, as I've tried to do in the past. We had 
mentioned the major issues before, like biographies of living persons, 
and the strategic plan is a continuing topic from the previous board 
meeting, but I neglected to put them all together for you.

--Michael Snow

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