[Foundation-l] chapter board seats (was: Greg Kohs and Peter Damian)

Geoffrey Plourde geo.plrd at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 20 22:49:51 UTC 2010


If concerned about equality, why not have two chapter seats and two community 

From: phoebe ayers <phoebe.wiki at gmail.com>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Sent: Wed, October 20, 2010 2:52:46 PM
Subject: [Foundation-l] chapter board seats (was: Greg Kohs and Peter Damian)

On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 2:12 PM, Risker <risker.wp at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 20 October 2010 16:47, Muhammad Yahia <shipmaster at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 1:03 PM, Risker <risker.wp at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> > The board defines both "community" and "chapter". I'm not sure that the
>> > board does ultimately answer to the community; there's nothing in the
>> > bylaws
>> > to indicate that.
>> >
>> >
>> Section (G) states: Board Majority. A majority of the Board Trustee
>> positions, other than the Community Founder Trustee position, shall be
>> selected or appointed from the community and the chapters.
>> I think this directly says that the board ultimately answers to the
>> community. Now you may say that the definition of community is not as broad
>> as you may like given that some seats go to the chapters , but that still
>> means that our community -as organized in a certain form given the chapters
>> are all community controlled AFAIK- holds power to elect the board
>> majority.
> Three board positions (30% of the board) are elected by the community at
> large. They are the only members of the board who have a direct
> responsibility to the community, and there is no method for the community to
> revoke their representation.
> Two board members (20% of the board) are elected by a tiny number of
> representatives of chapters (the chapter representative election process is
> very opaque). I can't find any numbers that confirm exactly how many people
> belong to chapters, and whether or not all of their members would otherwise
> meet the definition of "community member", but it is widely acknowledged
> that only a small percentage of Wikimedians (i.e., those who would meet the
> definition of "community member") are members of chapters.  I have a hard
> time understanding why people think chapters are representative of the
> community.  They're representative of people who like to join chapters.
> Risker/Anne

changing the subject line because I think we've ranged pretty far away
from the original subject of moderation....

As the person who was selected via this process I feel the need to jump in :)

I agree that the chapter selection process is not very transparent, or
very clear (to the people inside as well as the people outside!) and
could have been improved. However, this time around was also only the
second time chapters have selected seats (by contrast, last year was
our 6th community election) ... so I hope that we will continue to
improve on that front and the next selection process, year after next,
will be better. That's something we all want to see.

Others can speak to this better than I can, but part of the rationale
behind chapter-selected seats was to help even out representation --
to make sure that the elected seats on the board were not entirely
dominated by candidates from those communities that have lots of
voting editors, like the English Wikipedia. If you are from a smaller
language project, or a smaller chapter, the chances of getting name
recognition and a seat in the community elections is much harder.
Additionally, the chapters *are* a part of the greater Wikimedia
movement, and selecting seats via chapters helps ensure that those
chapters get a place at the table. In the U.S. there has not been a
chapter presence until WM-NYC was founded, but that's not true in
other places -- Wikimedia Deutschland was of course founded before the
WMF itself was founded, and many of the other chapters are well
established too.

Now, you could certainly ask, given all that, why in the world the
chapters would have selected me -- yet another American English
Wikipedian -- to be on the board. And that's a perfectly valid
question! It's important to realize however that I am not a
"representative" of the chapters. On the board itself, I am identified
as a board member or sometimes as a community board member, but not as
someone who is there specifically to advance chapter interests or be
more involved with chapters than anyone else (there are currently
three board members on the chapcom, for instance: one is
chapter-selected, one is community-elected, and one is appointed). I
am honored that the chapters thought that I would be a good board
member *in general*, to work on all of the issues that the WMF faces
-- and hopefully that is why they selected me :)

As for community accountability, I certainly feel accountable to the
community. I also feel accountable to the long-term survival and
health of the Wikimedia projects, and will do my utmost to help make
decisions that will both help ensure this survival and that also
represent community interests and needs. I have been around for long
enough, and thought hard enough about the community, to realize the
obvious -- that there is no single "community" for a trustee to
represent. There are editors of all different types and interests,
there are chapter members, there are even readers... but I do think
that we have some important shared values, of openness and freedom and
knowledge-sharing, and those values underpin my decisions.

As for knowing what it is the board does -- yes by all means if you
care about this topic go to the movement roles meeting (I have a work
conflict, sadly). I also hope to start having more open IRC community
meetings, as I mentioned a month or so ago at the IRC meeting with
Bishakha -- I just haven't had time to schedule them yet is all. Soon
:) And please ask questions anytime.

-- phoebe

* I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers
<at> gmail.com *

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