[Foundation-l] Nominating Committee

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Sat Jun 25 22:46:38 UTC 2011

On Sat, Jun 25, 2011 at 1:57 PM, Dan Rosenthal <swatjester at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Jun 25, 2011, at 4:41 PM, Jan-Bart de Vreede wrote:
>> Hi
>> Having had the honor of being one of the first outside appointed board member to the Wikimedia Board I do want to add that one of the main reasons for having appointed members is to get an outsiders perspective. This is generally considered good practice. Basically the idea behind this is that by having as a diverse a board as possible with regards to knowledge, perspective and background that board will be able to perform its "governance" role better.
>> Jan-Bart
> I think what Jan-Bart is saying here brings up an interesting point. Something that might have been lost in the other thread (Seats and Donations) was that part of the worry around Matt's appointment was due to him being an outsider -- it is important to remember that without some outside perspective we'll become too insular.
> But at the same time, shouldn't we also have the goal of eliminating the concept of "outsiders" to a top-10 website? Ignoring the age-gap with technology for the sake of simplicity, it would seem unusual for a board candidate similar to Matt to be unfamiliar with most non-technical aspects of Facebook, at least on a cursory level.  However, tying in with our usability and newbie-friendly concerns, I would be very surprised to find those same candidates being familiar with contributing content on Wikipedia. Realistically speaking, I doubt many of them have over 1000 edits, participated significantly on meta, hold any advanced rights/flags, are familiar with our policies and guidelines in adequate detail, etc. Surely some will acquire that knowledge in the board vetting process, but my point is that for a website of our stature and positioning, the concept of having "outsiders" in the first place is itself a problem.
> In other words, the fact that our reader to editor ratio is contributing towards keeping a divide on the board between the "insiders" and the "outsiders".  That's not to suggest we shouldn't have subject matter experts in a particular field (technical, operations, community, business/finance, legal, etc.) on the board, but from a cultural standpoint I'd rather that EVERYONE be an "insider" when it comes to "How does Wikimedia work?"

There are degrees of insiderness.

"What is Wikipedia?" - everyone who's net-aware should be able to
answer this, as well as anyone who we'd consider putting on the board,
outsider or not.

"How do I manage the political factions on ANI or an Arbcom case on
english language Wikipedia to deal with this policy / behavior
problem" is something that very few *insiders* can do well...

The general observation that we should be easier for everyone to edit
is reasonable, and that doing that and more outreach would help the
rest of the world contribute more effectively.

Domain experts in law, privacy, information theory, internet business,
free culture, etc. (and others) all can bring value to the board via
their different expertise and viewpoints.

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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