[Foundation-l] What the board is responsible of (was Re: Jimbo's Sexual Image Deletions)

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Sat May 8 23:24:08 UTC 2010

On 5/8/10 12:15 AM, Ting Chen wrote:
> What I can say to your questions is that Jimmy informed the board about
> his intention and asked the board for support. Don't speaking for other
> board members, just speak for myself. I answered his mail with that I
> fully support his engagement.
> Personally, I think that the board is responsible for defining the scope
> and basic rules of the projects. While for projects like Wikipedia,
> Wikisource, Wiktionary the scope is more or less easier to define. On
> Wikipedia we have the five pillars as our basic rules. But we have also
> some projects that have a scope that is not quite so clear and no such
> basic rules. Commons is one of these projects, and the most important one.

To be fair, I am *extremely* disturbed by the above statement.

Since when is the board DEFINING the scope and basic rules of the 
projects ?

As a reminder, the WMF was created two years after Wikipedia. The scope, 
the basic rules did not need WMF to be crafted. Over the following 
years, the scope and even the basic rules have evolved, usually for the 
better. The WMF certainly pushed on some issues, but largely, the rules 
and scope have been defined by the community.

And this is the way it should be.

You are shifting the role of the WMF in a direction that I find greatly 

The original reason for creation of WMF was that we needed an owner for 
our servers, we needed a way to pay the bills. We needed a way to 
collect money. WMF was here to support the project and to support the 
community dealing with the project. It was here to safegard our core values.

When I joined the board, I really felt WMF had to play the role of the 
mother toward a child. Listening to its stories, making suggestions, 
giving advice, providind food and shelter. Offering little presents, 
encouragement certainly. And tending the wounds.
But a mother that would let its child decide of its own future. Letting 
the child decide of its own path and make its own experiments. Do 
mistakes, learn about mistakes, try again.
That's what parenting is all about. Not defining the future of the 
child, but providing advice, support and helping to avoid the worst.

I feel the role of the WMF is shifting. It is shifting because some 
board members and some staff members are mislead about the role of the 
WMF. Thank god, most staff and board are still on the right track.

But a serious warning to me is when board members make statements such 
as yours above.

> Fact is, there is no consensus in the community as what is educational
> or potentially educational for Commons. And as far as I see there would
> probably never be a concensus. And I think this is where the board
> should weigh in. To define scopes and basic rules. This is why the board
> made this statement.

There is nothing wrong with this statement and certainly nothing wrong 
with the board making it.

However, if the problem is that the community can not reach a consensus 
about what "educational" is, I am not quite sure how helpful it is for 
the board to state that our scope is the "educational"....

> For me, this statement is at the first line a support for Jimmy's
> effort.

I am not convinced it should be interpretated that way. Jimmy's is 
behaving like a vandal and breaking the very notion of our "power in the 
hands of the community". Certainly, the board is not supporting his 
breaking our internal rules crafted with great care over a 10 years period.

It is a soft push from the board to the community to move in a
> direction. Both Jimmy as well as me believe that the best way for the
> board to do things is to give guidance to the communities.

You know... guidance is only ok if the recommandation and behavior is 
reasonable and does not push people too much out of the confort zone.
"Guidance" requires acceptance.


But, this
> topic is already pending for years. Looking back into the archives of
> foundation-l or village pump of Commons there were enough discussions.
> If the problem cannot be solved inside of the community, it is my
> believe it is the duty of the board and every board member to solve the
> problem.
> Ting

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