[Foundation-l] Seat and Donations (SPLIT from: EFF & Bitcoins)

Joseph Seddon seddonwiki at gmail.com
Thu Jun 23 12:05:42 UTC 2011

On Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 6:35 PM, Michael Snow <wikipedia at frontier.com>wrote:

> On 6/22/2011 10:14 AM, MZMcBride wrote:
> > Michael Snow wrote:
> >> I thought it was reasonably understandable, even without perfect
> >> grammar, that Ting was saying that since Matt is no longer at Omidyar,
> >> if your insinuation were true, when he left the foundation would have
> >> needed to bring in someone new from Omidyar to fill "their" board seat.
> >> I figured that out, and honestly I wasn't even aware until now that Matt
> >> had left Omidyar.
> > I'm not sure it counts as an insinuation if it's true. They bought a
> Board
> > seat. Honestly, I don't remember much dispute about this point when it
> > happened in 2009 and looking back at the press releases at the time, it
> > doesn't seem as though anyone was trying to hide this point. My original
> > comment was only to say that if someone else (another group or
> organization)
> > were willing to put up $2 million or more, another Board seat would
> probably
> > become available. It's not as though the Board is incapable of changing
> its
> > own structure to meet outside demands.
> The events happened at the same time, so the connection is pretty
> obvious, but it was never a quid pro quo. While I was on the board,
> there was at least one major donor who was interested in being added to
> the board based on their financial contributions, but that person was
> not considered a good fit despite being a generous supporter of the
> organization. So no, the notion that a board seat would be available for
> money is incorrect. We felt Matt added valuable expertise and would be a
> good addition to the board, whether Omidyar was donating $1 million or
> $10 million. As he remains on the board after leaving Omidyar, I presume
> that's also why he's still there.


I cannot claim to understand what exactly is going through MzMcbride's but
it wouldn't surprise me if it was similar to what went, and still does, go
through my mind. I know for a matter of fact it is something that goes
through the minds of several respected wikimedians. It is this:

I do not think that most would ever suggest that the foundation board and
the people on it are that naive as to "sell" board seats. I certainly would
never believe that for one moment. It was that the connection (which cannot
be ignored) didn't really look good on our (the community's) part. It was
the fact that it was assumed that all was good and that it didn't matter. I
can understand that from the foundation boards perspective since i imagine
it was probably felt it was all above board and that it all stood on its own
merits. But the community sees things differently because they would be at
the mercy of any fallout that could have happened.

I honestly that Matt's appointment was a fantastic thing. He is someone with
a lot of knowledge and I wouldn't have battered a eyelid if his appointment
had been made at any other time. I think more than anything it just made me
and others feel pretty damn uncomfortable. Its down to the lack of good
faith that people have when looking in on organisations they don't know and
it could have really undermined the movements standing. Just simply through
a lack of looking at the situation from an outside perspective. My personal
feelings were compounded by the fact that the timing between a donation and
an appointment to the advisory board had been poorly thought out on another
occasion and the fact that Omidyar also provided a $4 million investment in
Wikia. It really muddies the waters thats all and its that which the
community really wants to avoid.

At the end of the day, things have moved on without incident but lets not
simply ignore this issue. I think that there is something to be learnt and
its that care really does need to be taken when repeating a venture like
this. Bad faith in the world may bite us next time.

(Personal View)

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