Jul 082015
 

Although we are a community where sharing is key for what we do and what we want to achieve, we sometimes struggle upon our best intentions. Board work is an area where the nature of discussions is often confidential, sometimes personal or just happening among a small group of Board members. That makes it hard to let anyone outside know what is happening inside that obscure bubble. And there certainly is some risk that the reserve to tell too much results in a concrete or perceived lack of information over all. I’ve experienced that dilemma in several committees I’ve worked on and of course it is also true for the WMF Board of Trustees.

So I’m trying to find a balance, write a short blog post once or twice a month, talk about my personal thoughts and make the bubble less opaque. I’m just starting and I don’t know where it leads me. Stay curious. So do I.

Jun 302015
 

The community election results for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees are already published and it’s great to see DariuszJames and Denny adding their expertise and skills to the Board soon. The result also includes that we lose María, Phoebe and Sam, which means to lose three markedly dedicated, experienced members. And Jan-Bart and Stu are going to finish their long terms at the end of this year.

That’s a huge turnover within only a few months and quite a challenge for group dynamics, working capacity and transfer of knowledge. And it does not only effect our Board’s internal relationships but also the relationship to our ED Lila and to our staff.

There are good reasons to be worried about the situation. There certainly will be some loss in stability and institutional knowledge which probably cause one or another difficulty and confusion. And there will be a lot of things to explain, to discuss and to agree upon. We will find ourselves in a situation where we can’t (and shouldn’t) fall back on our own history, because there won’t be anybody who was actual part of that history. But we won’t find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, since whereever we need to follow legal or organizational requirements we can rely on our dedicated staff and their experience and support.

And there is more than just challenges, there is the chance to fuel ourself with the positive spirit which comes with such a change – the motivation of new members, the innovation capability and the critical reflection of our established habits, methods and procedures. Yes, we have a huge opportunity to renew and update in its best sense. We can take the Board to a next level of supporting the ED and the community. We have to work on it, and we will. So rather than being anxious I’m curious and excited. And I hope you are as well.

Mai 262015
 

It’s that time again: Every two years, the community (or the many communities) of the various Wikimedia projects select three members of the 10-member Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation. A privilege that is not used by too many Wikipedians and Wikimedians. In recent years there was a lot and sometimes quite justified criticism of the Foundation and the Board of Trustees. Of course you can carry on complaining and fancy youself as victim of evil forces, but you can also play a part in changing the composition and dynamics of the Board with the selection of suitable persons.

Why to vote is better than not to vote vote:

  1. More perspectives on the Board of Trustees for better decisions
    Diversity means most of all that in consideration of various options and their consequences as many perspectives as possible are to be considered. The Wikimedia Foundation and its Board of Trustees needs members from the community, because the community is what keeps our projects alive. The community is sensitive, vulnerable, self-confident and sometimes simultaneously jumpy and biased, but in the Board of Trustees by no means voiceless or without influence. Who is able to convey and express the community’s needs and suggestions — not for the sake of the respective individual interest but with the big picture in mind — has all possibilities to have this perspective included in decisions. This does not guarantee a majority, of course not, but it helps the entire Board and the Foundation office, to gain a better picture.
  2. The Community-election is not an alibi event
    Really. We do not only need Trustees from the community, we want them. They are the specialists in the area which is essential for the Foundation. We want and need other specialists also, if we can not get them from the community. That’s part of the diversity we are looking for. But who, if not the community itself, is best placed to determine suitable candidates from its own ranks. This only works in the way it should if you vote.
  3. Every vote counts!
    In fact eminently. Yes – No – abstention, for each candidate. Dirk Franke explains in his blog post ‚How to vote for the Wikimedia Foundation board – be negative‚ what that implies.

What should a potential board member from the community bring along? It should be a little more than only to be a valuable author. Experience in working in governance bodies – also outside of the Wikiverse, opinionated but willing to compromise, more interested in solutions than on problems – that would be my favorite cast.

This year 20 candidates run for election. 20 people who have not only presented themselves, but also respond to more than 30 questions from the community. A lot of reading, but worth it. And it’s about something important for the community.

Voting is open until next Sunday. This way, please!