Mrz 012012
 

Ja. So ist das. Es geht um die Auswahl der zwei sogenannten chapters-selected board seats, die alle zwei Jahre von den Wikimedia Chapters durchgeführt wird und die, anders als die drei Sitze, die die Communities in den ungeraden Jahren durch eine Wahl auf dem Meta-Wiki bestimmen, nicht öffentlich ist.

Phoebe hatte dennoch bereits vor zwei Jahren ihre Kandidatur in ihrem Blog veröffentlicht. Das hat sie in diesem Jahr erneut getan, Liam folgte ihrem Beispiel und auch ich schließe mich gerne an. ich weiß nicht, wer sonst noch kandidiert. Die Antwort darauf und vieles andere wird wohl Teil der spannenden Zeit, bis die Entscheidung spätestens im Mai fällt.

Hier ist meine Kandidatur. Ich hatte noch keine Zeit, sie zu übersetzen, plane aber, das noch nachzuholen.

Who I am

I’m Alice Wiegand, (user:lyzzy), a 46 years old IT specialist for system administration in the public sector. I currently run the IT department of a German municipality with 450 PC workstations. In April I will start my extra-occupational Master’s studies in Public Policy and Governance.

I’ve made some detours before I’ve reached my current occupation. I originally studied economics for a few semesters before I decided to become a tailor and prepare for a degree in apparel engineering. Due to a lack of university slots, I grabbed the chance to get a training in software development followed by training and study for the German senior civil service.

My relationship with Wikimedia started at the end of 2004, when I joined the German Wikipedia. I had been leading a successful life from a professional perspective and was looking for a place where I could give something in return, where I could do something useful for other people. Wikipedia, from my first edits on, was something where I felt I was doing something truly important. Bringing information to people whenever they needed or wanted them, independent of time or place. Helping people make better decisions by offering knowledge with some article or admin work. That is what kept me contributing to Wikipedia and to the other projects during all these years.

I am an administrator on the German Wikipedia and served as bureaucrat for a single term of two years. I am also an OTRS administrator with a particular emphasis on how to support those volunteers–who are the face and voice of Wikipedia for anyone contacting us by email–in their work. Workshops, skills trainings, international exchange, organizational adjustments–there still is a lot to do. And that is the same for other special interest groups with an impact on Wikipedia. Last year, when I did a lecture followed by an intense discussion about the difficulties of being a Wikipedia administrator, I started to raise the idea of an administrator’s workshop. I’m currently working to make this happen together with two other Wikipedia women and the support of Wikimedia Deutschland.

I have been a member of Wikimedia Deutschland since 2005 and a member of Wikimedia Nederland since 2010. I joined Wikimedia Deutschland’s board in 2008 as secretary and served as vice president from 2009 to 2011. The main focus of my work on the board was the development of the strategic plan “Kompass 2020”, the preparation and backing of the chapter’s structural advancement, and controlling and assessing the chapter’s executive. I’ve seen my role in these processes as a connector and facilitator with the goal to let people understand each other’s opinions and mutual positions, and bring about necessary decisions.

My involvement in international and Wikiverse-wide issues started in 2008. I have been a member of the Wikimania scholarship committee for three years now. I have been part of the Foundation’s strategy planning as well as the movement roles process. I am currently wrapping up the latter to initiate the next stage of work on this important issue.

Candidacy Statement

I am willing and eligible to take up a position on the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees for the next two years. Please send your questions to my.address@googlemail.com

I try to avoid the use of “we” in the following statement. A lot of discussions have shown that it’s quite difficult to know how a “we” will be perceived or how it is meant. If I however make use of it, please read it as “we who care about the sustainability of the volunteers’ work, regardless of where this work is done – in the Wikimedia projects directly or in any Wikimedia group to support the projects’ communities”.

Why I dare run for this position

Wikimedia and all of its players are currently facing a number of highly important issues. They are about money, about trust, about care, accompanied by strong emotions and a very high level of commitment. What I take from reading the discussions of the last months is:

  • Relationships between people and entities are fragile
  • People feel personally attacked and injured
  • Although all people involved care for the same ultimate mission, it looks as if it’s impossible to find a common language and way forward

Much too often these discussions are backwards-looking. Much too often they are laced with prejudice and accusation, searching for someone to bear the blame. What I want to rather do is look forward, bold and strengthened by the experiences made in the past. One of those experiences is that problems can be solved if all parties concerned are serious and deliberate about solving them. I am willing to take responsibility and search for solutions, together with all who care.

There is, however, more to do than just solving our current problems. What has already been achieved with the Wikimedia projects must be preserved and expanded for the future. This is the main purpose and it should never be forgotten. I am an enthusiast. I believe in the power of volunteers creating the largest source of knowledge in languages I have never heard of. Now. In this second. Worldwide.

Wikimedia organizations including the Wikimedia Foundation are no ends to themselves. To bring out the best they can in supporting the communities, they need stable, consistent, and reliable organizational structures. Nobody can muster high level efforts and energy for structural discussions each year again and again. I am an advocate of changes where and when they are needed. But I do believe that there always must be a healthy foundation to ensure continuity and evolution.

It is my experience in my professional career, in Wikipedia, and in the chapter work I’ve done, that cooperation, exchange, and mutual understanding lead to better, more effective decisions.
Listening to individuals and organizations is key–as well as making decisions by taking into account as many positions, experiences and views as possible and necessary. I am more of a listener than a chatter but I know when it’s time to make a decision. Pragmatic if needed.

Sometimes it’s better to make a decision which must be changed later than to not decide at all. And I am a friend of letting things grow with their own pace. Providing fertilizer helps on occasion, though.

These are my convictions and I strongly believe that they can bring insight and perspective to steer the work of the Wikimedia Foundation in a direction that will help our movement grow and achieve its ambitious goal.

What I want to achieve

It’s highly probable that there are no simple solutions to resolve all the complex problems we face, but who really knows? We shouldn’t reject that possibility outright.

Strengthen Wikimedia by strengthening decentralized structures

The Wikimedia Foundation reaffirmed some time ago its will to pursue its mission with the support of chapters. Chapters which, today, are a decentralized network of organisations that perform mainly locally. This is still part of the mission statement. It symbolizes the importance of diversity as a core principle of the Wikimedia movement. If we indeed want to serve the whole world, Wikimedia needs to be found and be active in all parts of the world–as a chapter, as a partner organization, as an association, or as individual volunteers committed to the cause. That general commitment leaves three open issues we must address within the coming two years:

  • Each part of the movement must be able to pull its own weight in order for the whole movement to be successful at achieving the common mission. That requires not only setting high expectations, but also giving assistance in reaching the capacity to meet those expectations. This involves cooperation and learning from each other‘s mistakes and successes as the usual and natural way to reach common goals. It also involves the free flow of information from all parts to all parts so that both new and existing entities know how they can participate and with whom they can collaborate.
  • Everyone needs room to perform and develop. The existence and scope of chapters, partner organizations, and other entities must be secured by commonly accepted descriptions and definitions of rights and responsibilities, privileges and obligations. Beyond that, they need to have a clear understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses so they can get the best support the movement has to offer. We must also acknowledge that accountability and legitimacy are concerns not just for chapters and partners, but also for the Wikimedia Foundation. If standards are meant to find common acceptance, they must apply equally to all involved entities.
  • Many activities Wikimedia entities engage in require money. Effective funds dissemination is one of the hottest topics right now, and rightly so. In order to promote good use of money and other resources, funds dissemination needs to be coordinated across all entities, yet leave enough flexibility for innovation. Rather than “permitting” entities to spend money, they ought to be encouraged to do so–boldly and effectively.

All three issues amount to great challenges, as they require ways that take individual particularities into account without losing sight of our common principles. Acknowledging that Wikimedia is a global, yet decentralized movement is a prerequisite for focusing more on what we have in common and can do together rather than what sets us apart. It allows us to find more opportunities to cooperate and support each other, without any impression of intrusion whether warranted or not. The Chapters Council idea is an excellent example for how this can be realized. We need more self-reliant impulses like it.

By the end of my term in 2014, there will be

  • an accepted structural model with descriptions and definitions for all players
  • a fair, reasonable, and well-working funds dissemination process
  • a strong ethos of self-governance and solidarity among all movement entities
  • effective facilities to assist and support movement entities in their development

Bring together the best of all parts: their voices

Discussions about principles of our work, structural changes, and how to shape the organization’s future are dominated by dozens of participants, well known, highly engaged but mostly the same in every discussion. To get more feedback from more people, from chapter members, and members of the editing community, we need to create new and better options for participation. This also includes finding ways for people to participate who, so far, have been unable to because of language, social, economic, or other barriers. It is not enough to only collect input from more voices but also to find ways to analyze and interpret their expressions. Maybe it needs more than a wiki or wiki-based technology in order to get a better platform for decision preparation. And it might be more than just a technological challenge. There is also the social question about respect and awareness of other cultures and the people we need to fulfill our mission.

We must make it easy and attractive for every entity to share more information than just reports. Each publication should enrich the whole movement and should be understandable, independently of the reader‘s origin or culture. I’ve borrowed this from Tom Morris who has raised this issue on foundation-l the other day. I strongly support it. Clear language and easy access to discussion possibilities are essential for an international volunteer organization.

Today, discussions are split between open/closed/special mailing lists, wikis, personal and official blogs. This at least quadruples the effort needed to identify both the audience and the origin of messages. The question for every decision making body and for every single individual interested in Wikimedia affairs is: „How can everybody get all the information they need while already suffering from all kinds of information overflow?“

By the end of my term in 2014, there will be

  • more perceptible exchange and participation in board discussions and decision processes
  • pleasant, commonly known and accepted places for discussion
  • inclusion and declaration of personal opinions on important topics in the public communication of the Foundation.

Identification with Wikimedia

There are already many instances of disconnect and dissonance within the Wikimedia movement, especially when also considering the editing communities. Some are unhappy with what chapters do or don’t do and question their justification. Some chapter members are unhappy with their board‘s decisions and ask for more influence. Some chapters are unhappy with changes nudged by the Foundation and ask for fairness and independence. Some editing communities are unhappy with Foundation resolutions that impact the projects and ask for self-determination and autonomy. Some at the Foundation are unhappy with a lack of standards for accountability and the inability to intervene. To make things worse, this sort of unhappiness is reinforcing, causing more unhappiness in other places and, this is quite clear, a general deterioration in motivation, enthusiasm, and care among all involved.

Reason enough to break the cycle. All of us must do a better job at demonstrating what the different parts of the movement stand for, what they try to achieve and how. We must do a better job involving and incorporating editors, photographers, admins, developers, OTRS agents, all those volunteers in our activities. We must do a better job at providing actual and easy-to-get support to the editing communities. And we must do a better job accepting that listening to others and being open and inviting in our decision-making processes constitutes a way to get better acceptance for those decisions, not an imaginary fear of losing control.

By 2014, everyone working in Wikimedia projects will know

  • where to take part in organizational discussions and decisions that affect their work
  • where to place ideas and initiatives and how to get individual financial and organisational support
  • where to find groups which work on issues the individual is interested in and how to join them

That’s it. It’s exceptional long. I still think that I’ve raised more questions with this statement than I’ve answered and I’m looking forward to answering them in the next few weeks.

 


 

  2 Responses to “Ich kandidiere für das Board of Trustees”

  1. I cheer! 🙂

  2. For the Record: Lyzzy hat das Rennen gemacht!

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