[Foundation-l] A Board member's perspective

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Sun May 9 01:09:31 UTC 2010

On Sun, May 9, 2010 at 1:52 AM, Stuart West <stu at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> A few of you have asked for more perspectives from Board members on the goings-on at Commons. I'm happy to share some of my personal views on the events of the past few days.
> First off, let me thank everyone who has participated in the debate. I've kept up with many of the email threads, talk pages, village pumps, and some IRC. I really appreciate the passion and energy, especially when constructive.  I've been around the projects for about five years, and on the Board for over two years, and this is one of the hardest and most substantive issues we've attacked. In my view, it is also one of the most important.
> Here are some of my personal thoughts on the issue:
> - We were hosting material that was unambiguously not relevant to our educational mission and it needed to go. Its presence on our projects/servers alienated people (users, potential new volunteers, educators, others) who we need on our side. Getting rid of it was the right answer for the long-term success of our mission which is a focus both of my responsibilities as a Board member and my personal motivation as a volunteer. More broadly, in allowing the clearly objectionable content on one of our projects I feel the community (including the Board, Foundation and Commons admins) failed in our collective role as stewards of the mission.
> - I agree with the view that the presence of hardcore pornography on Commons represents a clear failure of our community-driven consensus process and that we must change the way we do things.  Among other drivers I see:  (1) There were some bad actors at work (e.g. hardcore pornography distributors taking advantage of our open culture to get free anonymous hosting).  (2) As a community (including the Board), we debated the issue too long and failed to drive closure and implement.  (3) There are complex issues around _some_ of the content that is in a gray area and those complexities distracted us from dealing with the clearer cut cases.
> - Due to the failure of the community process, something extraordinary had to be done. A small step was our Board statement we hoped would focus attention. A bigger step was the work by Jimmy and other individuals on Commons who took bold and decisive action. Clearly it is messy, and there is room for overcorrection and the removal of some materials that are indeed relevant to our educational mission. This is inevitable but is certainly fixable. I want to thank all those who have been working so hard on this, either the initial clean-up or the ongoing review process.  It's not easy work, but it's critically important.
> Like a lot of things within our community, the past few days have been messy. But I believe the outcome is headed in the right direction:  get rid of the content that is irrelevant to or hurts our mission, bring urgency to the debate about the many challenges and gray areas, and most importantly fix the policies/processes that have been broken. Let's get to it.

Stu, I am really frustrated with your doublethink. I can say that
Jan-Bart made his statement too early and thus that he didn't have all
necessary information, but your statement came after a day long
debate, as well as you said that you read the most of the previous

What really frustrates me is the fact that some of the Board members
and staff (yes Mike, you too) are continuing to treat the most of the
community as idiots.

Did you read what Jimmy deleted? And how did he do that? Please, read
again those parts of the discussions if you missed . (Search for
"jpg", "png", "svg" inside of your mailbox.)

Instead of trying to find a way how to solve this situation, you are
giving a surrealistic statement characteristic for bureaucrats of
totalitarian regimes and falling corporations.

Do you actually see that this Jimmy's action made an unprecedented
revolt inside of the community? Does it matter to you?

No, this is not anymore about any kind of community problem. Board was
able to make changes as it made it for BLP. We are now three days out
of that discussion. We are now discussing about:

1. irrational and dangerous behavior of one Board member; and
2. support of that behavior by the part of the Board and staff.

At the other side, you are still free to work on some sensible
proposal to the community about solving this issue. And you can start
another thread with it. However, talking just about some "community's
failures" and not about obvious and blatant abuse of permissions is
just an example of doublethink.

More information about the foundation-l mailing list