[Foundation-l] Nominating Committee

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Sun Jun 26 06:07:21 UTC 2011

On 06/25/2011 08:33 PM, Thomas Dalton wrote:
> On 25 June 2011 19:18, Milos Rancic <millosh at gmail.com> wrote:
>> My general position is that Wikimedian community is diverse enough to
>> fill expert seats from itself.
> You are probably right, but who would make the better board member: an
> average lawyer (or whatever) that's a Wikimedian or a top lawyer that
> isn't?
> Obviously, the board needs a decent number of Wikimedians on it, but
> there is no particular need for the whole board to be Wikimedians.
> (Well, Wikimedians prior to their appointment - my definition of
> Wikimedian includes WMF board members, whether they came from the
> community or not.)

About the last point: I agree. Any board member with some time spent in
work with community is a Wikimedian. Bottom line is that all of us were
outsiders at some point.

I also agree with the point that incorporating outsiders at all levels
is substantial for the movement.

But, before I went to laugh while writing previous email, I had
something different in my mind.

Let's start with the most obvious thing. Our community has the most
relevant MediaWiki developers. Some of them are extraordinary coders,
but some of them have ability to articulate strategic development of
MediaWiki and to communicate it with the rest of the community and
available resources.

A group which would strategically think about MediaWiki development is
needed. MediaWiki is a standard wiki implementation, but its code is not
so bright. And it is not because our developers are bad coders, but
because of systemic lack of strategic vision. And, again, lack of
strategic vision is not a staff problem. There is no such small
organization which staff is developing office in India to spread
knowledge and developing very serious piece of software.

So, having a group which would exclusively think about strategic
development of MediaWiki would be very useful. Such group shouldn't be
just consultative body, but it should have means to implement their
vision. Having one of them in WMF Board to represent developers in the
top movement's body would be also useful.

(In relation to the means, I've checked what's going on with Drupal. Two
of their organizations spent ~$400k in 2009 and ~$1.5M in 2010. [1]
That's small fraction of WMF's budget.)

Then, our community has probably the most relevant contemporary
encyclopedists. English Wikipedia ArbCom is dealing with encyclopedic
issues regularly and I don't know for the group which has more core
encyclopedic experience than it is.

And we need a global body which would care about core principles of our
work. And I think that the core expertise in our business is needed
inside of the board.

We have good lawyers in our community. Michael Godwin, Michael Snow and
Ray are on my mind. I am sure that they are able to create analogue body
which would take care about legal issues in more general way than
General Council does. And I think that one of them should be in the board.

The concept above would bring stability, too. At this point, if board
members decide that they want to have, let's say, a lawyer among them
and if it is not Michael Snow, that person would need some time to be
involved in all relevant issues. If we have a body which regularly deals
with relevant issues, there wouldn't be big deal which person from such
group is in the board.

There are other fields in which we have enough relevant experts. There
are, indeed, fields in which we don't (or didn't) have relevant
community members. Bishakha's expertise is among them. In the past our
community was thinner in other areas as well (financial expertise
covered by Stu and connections with educational institutions covered by

But, I don't think that we should reach for outsiders at the first
occasion. We are not any community. Our community is of unprecedented
diversity and people from the community are best motivated for such job.

Besides that, who would replace any of the current expert seats inside
of the board when they decide to do something else? Who is doing legal
overseeing since Michael Snow left board?


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