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

Joseph Seddon seddonwiki at gmail.com
Thu Jun 23 21:33:53 UTC 2011

What he said :)


On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 9:59 PM, Dan Rosenthal <swatjester at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Jun 23, 2011, at 4:09 PM, Sue Gardner wrote:
> > It seems to me like you're characterizing Matt-joining-the-board as
> > problematic, while at the same time saying Matt himself is a good
> > board member. That seems contradictory to me.
> I'm not sure it is. I think what Joseph is saying is that Matt is a good
> board member in that he is a qualified candidate, he is obviously suitable
> to handle the pressures of the board, he brings knowledge, expertise,
> contacts etc. In terms of qualifications, he is a very good candidate.
> However based on the timing and the perception of quid pro quo, that does
> not equate to him being a problem-free board member, or even a good choice.
>  In a grossly exaggerated example to show where I think the difference in
> the two aspects above lies, pretend it wasn't Matt, but it was say, Steve
> Jobs. Certainly, Steve's got a great many qualities that would serve the
> board well. But his appointment would create an instant perception that the
> board is no longer independent and is subject to the influences of outside
> entities, whether they be private, public, corporate, financial, whatever.
> When that is combined with the timing of the grant, it makes that perception
> that much stronger.
> (Again, not saying that is my belief, just trying to interpret what I've
> heard others say. I've not met Matt nor do I know much about him or Omidyar)
> To clarify, what would have happened if the WMF had not received a grant
> from Omidyar, but still put Matt on the board? Well, there would have been
> no outcry that the seat was bought, because no money = no purchase. Matt
> would still be a good board member in all the areas noted above (expertise,
> contacts, etc.) But in this case, a lack of a contemporaneous large grant
> means that Matt is much more visibly there on his own merits.  Again, I
> don't think anyone is saying he lacks those merits anyway, just that they
> get lost among the clutter of alternative "explanations" for why he was
> appointed.
> The lesson to be learned from this, I guess, is that even if you have a
> good process and a good outcome, sometimes the community doesn't necessarily
> see it that way, and a greater deal of proactive engagement could be helpful
> in those cases. Less abstractly, I remember there being some talk on this
> list about the seat and donations at the time Matt's appointment was first
> announced, but what I don't remember (please correct me if I'm wrong on
> this) is the WMF publicly addressing community concerns about the grant
> timing beyond "no, the seat wasn't bought." As a result, it's now June 2011
> and the topic is reoccurring.  Broadly speaking this is something that we
> need to work on. BLPs, harassment of editors, both things that the WMF
> itself is now beginning to fully engage on, but the community has been
> discussing for years looking for some sort of acknowledgement.
> Of course, if I'm misinterpreting what Seddon is saying, you can disregard
> all of the above.
> -Dan
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