Wikimedia Foundation Board Panel

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Board Panel 5 boardmembers +Brad


decentralized working model

WMF is centralized


- recent developments - plans for expansion

Jimbo talks

great discussion

thread on discussion future

Angela is retiring

board meeting - recent/ it was productive

Board planning retreat in Europe, with people from chapters

discuss future expansion

News: Tim Shell retires end of the year

(Jimbo looks like he hasn't been sleeping at all)

-questions are taken

first question not heard

question about project level organization ....

first answer by ... legal stuff, community perspective, discussion about single login, we need to talk more ...

aspect legal stuff, no way to collaborate with other projects ... english dominance

jimbo: oldest issue; meta functions, and not,

question: chinese ..

jimbo: development, Hong-Kong end of the month conference

Q: How can we be assured that the elected board is truly representative? A: (Jimmy) Choose wisely.

Q: The foundation charter is showing its age. Going to revisit it? A: Yes. We're having a Board planning retreat.

Q: What about Africa and the African languages? A: (Jimmy) Thoughtful, slow steps. Talking with people on the ground there.

Q: What do you do about potential board members who can't afford the travel, etc.? Pay them? A: We'd cover travel, but this is not a paying position.

Q: Why is Angela leaving the board? She says it's become less collaborative. How? A: (Angela) E.g., we vote on a wiki rather than having discussions.

Q: What is the real scope of Wikimedia? "Access to all the world's knowledge" is too broad and "Build an encyclopedia" is too small... A: (Jimmy) Big question. Look at operationally at we're doing. [But what guides decisions about what projects to undertake?]

Q: Upcoming conflict between validating by experts and celebrating the read-write culture. Should the board push a strategy or let it be settled by the community? A: (Jimmy) The conflict between quality and openness is an illusion. It comes about when our tools won't let us achieve what we want to. E.g., the stable version will remove almost all the need for semi-protection; we can leave the pages open while ensuring the public sees quality pages. The board shouldn't get involved in deciding detailed questions such as "What counts as a personal attack?"

Q: Most of us respect the neutral point of view while understanding there's no such thing as a neutral point of view. Maybe it'd be better to talk about respectful points of view? A: (Jimmy) One of the great things about NPOV is that it's a term of art and the community fills it with meaning. It has been filled with the notion of respect. You should propose this on a mailing list...

Q: Will social sharing ever be more powerful than money? Can the Board start the campaign? A: (Brad) People are more powerful than money or social sharing.

Q: We don't know much about the finances... A: (Jimmy) They're looking good. The audit process is underway.

A: (Michael) For the first time, we've had a steady stream of donations from the "Please help" button. We're not as constrained as we used to be. We have a bit of a buffer in the bank, about $500K. Small donations are coming in at about $30K/month. We're getting more donations from corporate sponsors as well.

we';ve tried to be very cautious with what we say in the press... don't want to lose face or make it seem like a fight
but theyn we don't want to look as though we're not doing anything.
in 2-3 weeks time, we shouldr eally forge a plan coming from the zh commuinty to ive us guidance re: what we should do
[q from irc]
[mark ryan]
how can th eocmuinty be reassured that the elected representagives actually represent the poeople who elected them, and are involved in decisions that the board makes
jw : traditionally , that's been the furtherst fomr the prolbems we've had.
in the last year, michael has really come onin terms of being ative behind the scenes w/ legal, fin, all that kind of stuff. in the early days, we were more or less a small project, ang and ant with my assistance
ran the place, right, and made all the big decisions.l
the q of how we can be sure teelcted board members are active, engaged and making decisiosn, is : choose very wisely in selecting members
'i think one thing to emphasize re: board eletions : it is not about community issyues in en:wp, not about changing the 3rr.
people here at this conf are advnaced wpans that understand this, but we need to counicate this out tho the community; the board is about responsibility for te stragtegic future, legal, fin of the orgaanization;
making sure the trains run on time. we need to choose professional, thoughtufl people, deeply knowledgable about the community, people woh can work well with others, have deep talents
if we cohose wisely, we'll have fantastic pboard membesr; if we choose poorly, we'll have people drift away from the project... whoich would be unforutnate.
alih : if you were here earlier for anthere's talk, q's from that presentation are also relevant yere, and you can aswk them.
mark p [raul654] :
the foundation charter says taht
ant : did you look at my presentation? the answer is there.
alih : can you give a quick summary?
ant : brad helped draft new bylaws; there are parts that are not satisfactory, but there's nobody to discuss it. I voted on it but nobody else did.
so I'd say : elect good new members to the board; before that perhas we can talk about how to fix tis membership issue in the bylaws
I'l lbe free in august for that; perhaps we can have new bylaws in september and people to vote on them.
jw : we're inteding to have a board planmning retreat; my anticipation is that would be excalt yhrte forum for the board to sit down in quiet for 2 sttraight days, rally hashing out a lot of the issues. I like the way you put it
wih infp/feedback from the community always a core part of that...
ant: let's put a timeline maybe...
[gerardm] my question : we are really good at western languages, european languages, we have neapolitan wiktionary doing really wel. what are we goig to do wfor afr4ica and african languages? it's something that has bene sadi in the past tha tis dear to our hearts, and now that we're going to get the muscle ot odo things, is the wmf happy
and willing to put ints muscle there to make sure we can particuplarly in the aftrican context?
jw : this is something I want to reitreat (from my keynote) : my support for that idea.
in the old days, fundraisin gwas mosintly about a desperat need to buy more servers; it is now more successful so we can purchase new hardware in a omre organized way; I believe the ufture of our fundraising
ask the question in a sewrious way : what can we effectively do to fulful our charitable mission a free encyclopedia for everyone on the planet?
yes, 100%, that's the direction we should go.
I don't know that anyone konws the answer about *how* we can make ourselves useful to people in africa;
that's why we shouldn't just plunge into things that sound good. thoughtful slow steps - what do we need, how can we help you.
[jason kramis, umass boston] I thought florence did a great explication of the issues you all are facing as a board
obviously you're considreing expanding. in us nonprofits we have a lot of experience w/ the balane b/t too fe and too many board member.s
we genrally fall into 9-11 board members; I wonder if you couldt alk about how you're thinking of expanding; each chapter having a board member automatically? paying board memberS?
this comes up sometimes for allowing more inclusivitiy within board some people can't do it unless they get remuneration; this can create problems, butr can allow more people to do more work)
and one point re: translation (!) a lot of us heare have bene part of the worl social forum process
for the past serveral years. I was the coordiantor of the3 boston social forum; there's the babels? of transalationvolunteers; which allowed us to do on/offline translation in 12 langs here in boston alone.
the next wsf is in nairobi, so there will be a lot of majorsafrican langs represented.
jw : I'm going to ansewr part and turn this over to brad for another.
=-= delphine has changed the topic to “See the streams:”
wsf I think
in terms of how large to make the board, how to make that expansion go... there rae several factors that immediately come to mind.
the q of too large/small
from outside the community
I think it's
<peterkaminski> s/wsf i think/jw/
as to paying membe, Ihave no interest in being paid; I'd have worries about msiconceptions re: what ti means to be a board member.
it's a prety terribly job... but your point that we might be able to get some pepole we wouldn't be able to do otherwise
<brad> we're in one place that's been around sinc the early 17th c. in tihs country, that's a big deal... in europe, not. but it's big for us in this country. it points to this... there are whole areas o flegal concept soabout why np corps are such, and not other kinds of orgs.
the body of law and policy around nfp work is well developed. in terms of what we can do to help ease...
<thx pk, dm>
it might be appropriate in trems of reimbiursements
if we're seinding someonet o nariobyi for a concerence, that's an expense the board should feel completely comfortable paying for people to do that kind of work
I'm not sure a salary/stipend per se is really the righ answer
the legal answer id rather not <cover>
<anthere> may I ask a question to the room?
usually I travle, and b/c they support it.. I have 3 kids and have to take care of them, so it's not considerd to be an expense
I just want to point out tha tI exaclty nyubmered the cost for me to come here and have my child taken care offor 3 days
I think it's the sam efor you : $285 for the 3 days, my ost of my particpiation
tis is the sam e each time I travle. this isn't conisdered a cost; that's all.
<alih> actually if you look on the blog, danny was taking care of your baby, so the wmf is paying fo ryour baby sitting
<jamesf> directe to angela
can she explain why she said "the collaborative based natrue of the foundation we had at the start of this year... is deteriorating..." and why a replacement for angela isn't appointed immediately
<ang> not replaced b/c we couldn't find one immediately
as for collaboration deterioreating; ew'
we've moved towards... voting on a wiki rather than discussion on irc the way we used to
<alex r>
obvoiusly wmf is a growing phenomenon, noone konws where it's going.
but theres a question about the future structure of the board, and volunteers of var wm projects
and what the board sees as the future needs of the oreg
to function.
ovv you mentioned they're not eh same thing
when it started as a hoobby, this was easyto deal with as an ad hoc basis. is the future of wmf as an entrerprise, a staffed one, or something run by volunteers, who will fitgure out how to get more volunteres involved in managemnet and those activities?
jw : firstly, everyone shoud konw who alex is. ack when I wanted to start a nonprofit, alex stepped up to write our cufrernt bylaws
and really helped me through that process. <applause> every board ember will have a slightlfy diferent take on this q of what type of org we should be.
in generela,y to sum up, everyone on the board has a strong commitment to ths being a fundametnally comjmunity6-driven org. we always have been, this is vc successful for us
it's theonly way to do wiki; at the same time, everyone on the board agrees some pro staff to support the volunteers and the projects is necessary
'how that breaks down in details of hwo should b doing what and how big the org should be
butI don' thitnk theyre's anyone here on the board who would say "forget the vols we're going to hire 200 peopl eon staff to do this stuff"
and I don't think there's anyone who says "what are all these staff for, we used to have volunteers for this"
<brad> this conf has been absolutely xtraordinary in terms of sur4facing the reat5ivity and broad themes in these que3stions
that I'm not aware has ever been discussed in this concentrated way.
the world looks at this org as an example of the way things rae developing in htihs century; we've never been here before,
it's never happened before. as benkler was explaining, this is a new phenomneon that's emerging in this century
<peterkaminski> s/reat5ivity/creativity/
we're going to invnent a new system that will carry us through this; it wil come from the best thinkers abmong us to put this thing togetehr and make the best sense of it
som this thing tat has emerged continues to do what it has doine around the world. what a fantastic prolem to have!
this is the problem we have; tso many people around the world who want to try to contribute
if you look at the orig bylaws on the site
it says something like the wmf is set up to maintian free online sites of encyclops, quotations, texts.. this is a bit dconstraines, since the proejct is alwys launching new projects &c
and if you look at the main page of the foundation site, it talks about universal access to all info
and that's too broad, since that's the same goal as and google have; and I don't think we see wmf turning into any of those
so what does the board see as the right medium?
jw : it's tough to say... without taking time to [sit down and consider this]
I think that statement has been revised at least one in the history; and will be revised again.
ant: I like the current statement b/c it can be a common statement b/t the ound'n and chaptesr.
then we can adfd our own little poiece to it.
<peterkaminski> ant: i wouldn't change it
<new q> b/t the push to validate arts by experts, and hte push to make wm even more incluseive about new culture -
do you see these conflicts being resolved by individual communities,
<_sj_> most of us are familair with npov...
<_sj_> maybe a better way to go would be "respectful point of view"...
<_sj_> <alih> I'm going to employ what I'll call Kapor's Law : is there a question?
<_sj_> is RPOV useful?
<_sj_> <jw> one of the things aobut NPOV is that it is a term,and the community fills it with meaning over time,.
<_sj_> no term is porefect; respectufl pov could be construed as "we always have to adocate all points of view at all times"
<_sj_> but youre point is well taken
<_sj_> where it's really important that oldtimers spend timehandholdin gnewbies and teaching them our core values
<_sj_> which have always been being thoughtful/respectful of others...
<_sj_> [jw re: earlier q : the individual communities should make the local-culture decisions themselves, within very broad guidelines across all projects
<peterkaminski> s/RPOV/"respectful points of view"/
<_sj_> <new q> do you think social sharing will ever become more powerful than money; and if so will you ever launch an empowerment campaign to start this revolution?
<peterkaminski> [jw re earlier q, broader paraphrase: I think that the conflict between quality and openness is an illusion. It's an illusion that we see when our tools don't allow our open community to achieve what we want to achieve. The experiments soon to happen with stable versions is that this will eliminate the need for semi-protection. I think that the details have to be up to each community to figure out the social rules that let this work. The
<_sj_> <bradp> I disagree with the premise : I think people are the most powerful force.
<_sj_> we've answered the question : you are the answer <applause>
<_sj_> <delphine> fundraiser question
<_sj_> <jw> very briefly : funds are alright; we're finishing an audit in the next few weeks. michael can answer in more detail
<_sj_> <mdavis> we have a cushion in the bank : ~$500k; we're getting $10ks a month in donations; longer term we can look forward to continue receinginfudns at a stable pace
<_sj_> without reaching out to each of you to beg for you to support the projects.
<_sj_> for every one of you in this audience there are 10,000 users out there who are starting to recognize this and contribute
<_sj_> now that ew have more org at the foundation level, with brad we can go out to target specific donors. we brought danny in at the end of last year with the intention of having him be fundraiser/grants coordinator; he got swamped with admin functions, but we are hopefully sorting that out now and would like to have someone assigned ful time to talk to orgs and corps about donating to us; we found there's a lot of major plyaers who are intersted in worki
<_sj_> in the future, going wd, we can count on more donations from corp sponsor, foundations and individuals
<_sj_> and get away from the pass-the-hat around this room (of editors) that we had initially.
<_sj_> so things rae looking good in that respect. if we get in to bigger projects...
<_sj_> the communitys houdl start thinkgning about : ew've always been financially constrained, barely ahead of the traffic growth curve. we should think about what could we do if we had resources?
<_sj_> what projectsa re we not addressing at this point that we should be talking about? this kind of discussion was unthinkable 2-3 years ago
<_sj_> we needeed to buy 3 srevers and that was a big hardship to tihs org.
<_sj_> now it's tim to think about those bigger projects an dieas.
<_sj_> <alih> any more q
<_sj_> qs? no... I'd like to thank the board a lot for taking our questions
<_sj_> as they say, there are good probs and bad probs... I see a lot of good probs here. I hope to see you all next year; go off to lunch!
<_sj_> <end>
<AlisonW> "here" being whereever actually does next year's Wikimania, presumably
<FoeNyx> AlisonW> probably :)