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

Michael Snow wikipedia at frontier.com
Thu Jun 23 22:45:20 UTC 2011

On 6/23/2011 1:59 PM, Dan Rosenthal wrote:
> 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."
We didn't address concerns about timing when the appointment and grant 
were announced because the concerns then being expressed weren't about 
timing. Nobody in 2009 was saying we should have taken the grant and 
waited a few months to appoint Matt, or appointed him immediately and 
accepted the grant later. The concern at the time was clearly about a 
quid pro quo, and it's only useful so many times to repeat that there 
isn't one. There was also a Q&A that addressed the actual process and 
reasons for Matt's appointment, though maybe it didn't explain the 
context as well as Sue has just done. But the notion that changing the 
timing would have made the situation less difficult is only coming up in 

To be frank, I also disagree that changing the timing would have 
improved things in any practical sense. It doesn't really obscure the 
connection much, if that's even what we would want to do. And for people 
who were worrying about the implications, I think setting things up in 
stages is just as likely to make it look worse as to make it look 
better. The delay simply adds the possibility of new concerns, like 
wondering what other unstated "conditions" had to be satisfied in the 
intervening time for the other part of the "deal" to go through. And it 
also encourages the idea that there must still be even more shoes to 
drop. Basically, the timing issue would just become more raw material 
for people inclined to engage in speculation.

That being said, I fully agree that the engagement and communication 
with the community around this should have been better. Doing it in the 
middle of Wikimania was way too chaotic in the first place. Then having 
our internet connection disappear literally right in between two emails 
I was sending to announce Matt's appointment and the Omidyar grant left 
everyone to find out about the grant from Omidyar's press release, and 
made it seem much less aboveboard than it was. And I recall there was 
understandable displeasure that some of the targets being used to 
evaluate the grant were considered confidential at Omidyar's request.

--Michael Snow

More information about the foundation-l mailing list