Grants talk:PEG/Grant Advisory Committee/Membership

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Procedure for adding membersEdit

As members become unavailable or resign, there will come a need to recruit new volunteers for this committee. What procedure should we use?

publish a call for volunteers on Meta and Internal-L?
  • That makes some sense, but only tell us about who are we inviting to apply. (see more in the answer below). Béria Lima msg 10:08, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Agree with Béria.--Marctaltor 21:30, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
  • +1 --Ilario (talk) 08:01, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
discuss within the GAC and nominate candidates?
  • As the other version, that only talks about who are applying for the GAC (for the record, both seems valid to me). My biggest problem is: How we select who will be in fact in the GAC? WMF does all alone according with some rules not explained to us? We run a vote with the actual members of the GAC? We run a vote with the community? How the election will be done is - to me - more important tham how we will select the candidates. Béria Lima msg 10:08, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
    I agree. As far as I know there was no selection for the first round, everybody who applied was confirmed as a member. If we repeat the procedure, we'll get the same result.--Victoria 11:30, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Propose an election of one memeber in 10 major Wikipedias.--Victoria 11:30, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Agree with Béria, again.--Marctaltor 21:30, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
  • We should decide how much involvement is required from GAC.I think as per current need we can add 5-6 members more to GAC.-Mayur (talkEmail) 02:20, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
(your idea here)

Nominations and ElectionsEdit

I am happy to include a community elections process for expanding the GAC (or making up for attrition). I do feel we need more energy in the GAC, so I am considering publishing a call for volunteers in the public channels soon. Perhaps the incumbent GAC would like to offer thoughts on how to structure the elections and the CfV? Ijon 20:32, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

My question continue, Asaf: How we will actually elect the people to be in GAC? Béria Lima msg 11:11, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
Er, wasn't that what I was asking you? I have stated some form of elections are fine, and asked what kind of elections you have in mind. Do you have a preference? Ijon 19:51, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
I think we need feedback from all the incumbent members of GAC and their wish to continue doing the work, and then to start thinking about election. Else, I don't think it's an appropriate way to establish any election without any thoughts on the work within the GAC. More information about how many new members should be recruited is also a crucial question. Thanks.--Kiril Simeonovski 20:46, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
I have so far assumed all incumbents are interested in remaining on the GAC, as no one has responded to my suggestion (made more than once) that perhaps some members are no longer feeling committed enough to the GAC's work. Perhaps I should assume the opposite and ask members interested in remaining on the GAC to speak up?
And yes, we have a chicken-and-egg problem here -- I'll know (approximately) how many new members we need if I know how many active members we still have... I'm really trying not to be too pushy here, while still increasing the total reviewing capacity of the GAC. Suggestions welcome! Ijon 20:51, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
No response to the above comment of mine. I cannot but conclude it was not read... :( Ijon 23:43, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry Asaf for the (very!) late response -- I am more than eager to stay in GAC. Abbasjnr (talk) 08:57, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Proposed Election Procedure #1Edit

In the absence of other proposals, I will put forward a proposal for electing new GAC members, if only to get a discussion going:


The Grant Advisory Committee (GAC) is a volunteer advisory body providing review and evaluation for grant requests and reports in the Wikimedia Grants program, to both WMF grantees and the WMF itself. It brings a community perspective and plenty of program of experience to grantmaking, helps refine grant requests and point out concerns, informs the grantmaker decision process, and help review and learn from reports of completed grants.

When new GAC members are needed (whether due to attrition or to expiry of term (see above)), a community election process will be announced and run by the Wikimedia Foundation. Ijon 00:16, 30 November 2011 (UTC)


Serving on the Grant Advisory Committee (GAC) is on a voluntary basis. We expect this to be a 2-4 hour per week commitment throughout the year. Ideally, a GAC member should:

  • have considerable experience doing Wikimedian work (not necessarily within a chapter)
  • have experience designing and implementing programs that are mostly volunteer-driven
  • have some experience handling money and working with and within budgets, preferably in a non-profit context
  • take an active interest in supporting the wider movement -- e.g. regularly reading at least some of the international mailing lists (Foundation-l, Internal, etc.), chapter reports, Wikimedia blog posts, etc.
  • not be a member of another Wikimedia committee (e.g. Chapters Committee)

Note: GAC Members may request grants on behalf of organizations they are involved with or for themselves. Ijon 00:16, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Call for VolunteersEdit

A Call for Volunteers would be published by the Wikimedia Foundation, pointing at information about the GAC, the criteria, the term (if any), and a timeline. The CfV would be published in relevant mailing lists, in a Wikimedia Blog post, and in notices in the various Wikimedia projects, to get good coverage of Wikimedians.

Interested volunteers would be asked to sign up in the election (sub-)page, and would be encouraged to include links or brief descriptions of their relevant background.

At least two weeks would be allowed from the publishing of the CfV until elections begin. Ijon 00:16, 30 November 2011 (UTC)


Community members eligible to vote in Wikimedia Board elections are eligible to vote for GAC elections.

Elections last at least two weeks. At the end of the pre-announced election period, the top N candidates are elected to fill the N vacancies in the GAC. GAC appointments are effective immediately. Ijon 00:16, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Proposed Election Procedure #2Edit

I wonder what could happen if we simply let all in who fill the criteria for membership. Would it be bad? In a way I feel that would be much, much better than elections. And then the term, which could be of just one year in this a case, would be more like a confirmation of interest and responsibility. Also, as this is a purely consultive body, even if there are elections I think they should somehow be oriented towards the aggregate expertise and interests of the members, rather than simply the amount of other wikimedians who approve of them, though that cannot be ignored. Well, these are just suggestions, overall I like Ijon's proposal :) --Solstag 09:27, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

I tend to agree with you, but elections do have one advantage: they are a means of letting vox populi determine candidates suitability (hopefully, as you say, taking into consideration expertise etc., and not just personal fondness), instead of someone assessing candidates' suitability based on that someone's (possibly biased, subjective, myopic, etc.) perceptions alone. Even if we accept everyone who meets the criteria, there still remains the question of who determines whether or not person X meets the criteria, some of which leave some room for debate/contention. Ijon 01:00, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
Hm, right, I completely agree. So my view is that there shouldn't be elections, but more of a referendum. The community is asked to evaluate whether the candidates fulfill the requirements. All candidates who are judged qualified are accepted into the GAC. --Solstag 00:13, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Important question is who will be eligible to vote on the election. I really don't like the idea the whole community to vote for people that clearly have to meet any criteria and where the decision should be made by drawing a specific cutoff.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 08:32, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Hi Kiril, I would like to point out that this proposed process isn't about an election, but a referendum on whether each candidate meets some criteria (see the very comment you reply to). There is no justification for us to restrict the participation of any number of candidates before we actually experience drawbacks from that. Let us give everyone a chance and proceed by trimming the edges later. Please see the thorough explanation about this issue that I give elsewhere in this subsection and in my critiques of the other procedures. Hugs, --Solstag (talk) 13:57, 19 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I am afraid that the combination - public method of evaluating grants on discussion pages + public election by general Wikimedia community may lead to the sitation that GAC members may have a tendency to be less critical than they should. In the model #1 - any negative opinion over the grant proposal will lead to less votes during upcoming election, so we may loose good GAC members who tends to be more critical, and stay with those who always support all grant proposals :-) Polimerek (talk) 12:34, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
    Hi Polimerek! I don't think that would really be the case, for two reasons. First, in case it's not an election but a referendum where people must voice why the person does not fill the criteria, it really gets harder to push away critical people. I also think there are many people in the community interested in keeping a high standard around here. Second, if the GAC works well, it should not have any resentment from failed grantees, as our job is not to decide which grants are approved, but to help them improve the grant so that it fits the criteria. Last, I don't think assuming tragedy works best here; having a public process has some obvious very positive aspects, so why not try it out and, worst case, we learn something valuable. Hugs, --Solstag (talk) 06:02, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
While I have no experience with the GAC personally, I'm curious about the proposal. :) You mention letting in all who fill the criteria - would that be an unlimited number of applicants, creating a committee limited only by interest and qualifications? Are there advantages or disadvantages to capping the number of people involved? (I do kind of like the idea of open membership; it's very much the Wikimedia way.) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:18, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Hi Maggi! Yes, you've understood the proposal pretty well. The size of the committee would be limited dynamically by the conditions for lapsing membership, which is currently being discussed elsewhere on this page, and the public referendum about whether each person fulfills the criteria for participation - which would simply be an improved version of the criteria applied in the first GAC selection. If the committee grows to a size that for some reason becomes a problem, we can simply adjust those criteria or the conditions for lapsing membership. In any case, given the current interest rate, it is very unlikely that we grow a lot, we might actually have the opposite problem and another reason not to limit entrance! --Solstag (talk) 05:59, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
  • I strongly agree with Polimerek above. There is no reason to weak the GAC by forcing everyone to take a "public stoning". Of course the ones who don't comment and only sign they are ok with the request will be the ones approved, always. Béria Lima msg 01:31, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
    As I responded to polimerek back in March, and as I had carefully explained elsewhere in these sections, there is no substantive evidence or reason to herald that a "public stoning" process will take place, or that, if it took place, it wouldn't be an important sign that we're doing something wrong. We should not avoid criticism by blinding ourselves to the legitimate stakeholders of our actions, we should instead prevent it by being even more responsible of our actions and making sure others understand them. Avoiding and preventing are two very different attitudes, and the distinction between them is fundamental in producing sustainable governance. --Solstag (talk) 13:57, 19 May 2012 (UTC)

Proposed Election Procedure #3Edit

I do believe a community election is one of the worst ways to look at this. We are not running a popularity contest here, but a committee and we should not make it a popularity contest. I preffer the ChapCom model of election. Béria Lima msg 02:29, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Let's spell that out: this means the incumbents (the current GAC) publish a call for volunteers, and then selects new members from among the applicants by consensus or internal vote. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 20:08, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that is the idea. Prevent the problem of having a community dependent GAC (as polimerek stated above). Béria Lima msg 01:14, 14 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm also OK with an internal vote. Abbasjnr (talk) 07:14, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't see any good reason to have an election mechanism that does not guarantee to as many Wikimedia contributors as proves sustainable a chance to directly influence the composition of this committee. In fact, if possible in the future we should make an effort so that also the donors have a say on the composition of this committee as well.
The idea that an open vote would become a popularity contest, and even the very idea that a popularity contest is undesirable, ignores the benefits of openness, ignores that the GAC is advisory, and mostly ignores that the Foundation and the overall community - and not only those who have requested grants - are participants, stakeholders and overseers of the process. And that it is also our responsibility, as is for any person in a position of privilege, to make them feel that way.
On the other hand, there is very concrete harm from indulging a closed, endogenous selection, at the very least because we'd lose a great opportunity to motivate community engagement and provoke needed criticism. Therefore, given the current cards on the table, I oppose proposals for indirect, not to mention endogenous, elections.
Mind you all that the GAC is currently, and for the foreseeable future, a consultive committee whose primary mission is to help get requests into good shape, and not to tell the Foundation when to deny them. We are responsible for advising and improving requests, which at its worse, when a grant request fails to meet some criteria, should mean to constructively point to a solution or an alternative. If the only advice we can give is that a request should be denied, we are doing a bad job. So, worrying about proposers of denied grants trying to payback is not only unfounded, it is contrary to our mission and a sign of unwillingness to respond to criticism.
If a GAC member recurrently acts in a way that makes grant proponents feel like he is responsible for denying their requests, then that member indeed needs to improve his behavior, or recognize that he's unfit for the kind of work the GAC requires. Moreover, if a grant proponent favors a GAC member because he blindly approves any request without suggesting improvements, then even that is an important signal we don't want to silence, as it would point us to both a GAC member who is not doing his job and a community member who needs to better understand the GAC's mission.
--Solstag (talk) 10:38, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
I strongly agree with Solstag - an open selection process is the only way forward.--Victoria (talk) 11:43, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Terms for GAC membershipEdit

In light of the need to expand the GAC, and the talk of elections, I think it makes sense to make GAC membership be term-based. I would like to hear thoughts from the incumbent GAC as well as anyone else reading this.

An opening bid: two-year terms, changing half the GAC every year (to provide overlap and continuity). The first (i.e. current) GAC can decide on how to pick the seats up for re-election this year internally. The current GAC's term should be counted retroactively, i.e. not two years from now, but from the establishment of the GAC (June 2011). Ijon 23:54, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

+1 to two-year terms. Abbasjnr (talk) 09:11, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

As far as I know, the survey said that the majority preffers a no-term based GAC. So I don't know why this proposal. Béria Lima msg 02:25, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Not quite: 7 of 15 respondents were in favor of permanent terms. 8 were either for one/two-year terms or not sure. Additionally, I have pointed out that permanent committee memberships, especially when the incumbents were not elected by a community process, are incompatible with good governance for a community-wide committee. So permanent terms are not an option. They were on the survey because I thought (correctly, it turned out) that several members would support that, and needed to know whether it's a minority or a majority (turned out to be about half) to appropriate address my explanation that that would be unacceptable. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 02:37, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I would have added my comment to the vote. I voted for "permanent" position and I will explain my vote. The GAC members are volunteers and it's difficult to find "active" volunteers. Imagine that we find a group of active GAC members that are very productive. Why we should put a termination for their activity? In my opinion the volunteering activity and the limited activity are incompatible. The sysops are volunteers, the other members operating around Wikimedia projects are volunteers and there is no expiration of their activity if they are active. I agree to monitor the activity, put if we find an active GAC member, we should support him and not give an expiration date. --Ilario (talk) 10:08, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

I think terms are tightly related to (and should reflect) another criteria: number of members (fixed? min/max set?), procedure to set a new member (delegation, election, appointing, other? only annual terms or anytime?), ability and procedure to recall member (who to decide? when to decide?). For the beginning the proposal of two year term with overlap seems to be good solution, on the other hand I think until it's proven paralelly with other criteria I mentioned above, it should not be pronounced as unchangeable rule.
Regardless which term will be chosen, I support its retroactivity.
Danny B. 18:34, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

  • This is easely solved by allowing serving members to reapply as many times as they want. I know about a member of reguralily elected enwiki Arbotration Comittee, who has been working there for several years in a row.Victoria (talk) 08:07, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Lapsing of Membership due to InactivityEdit

There is clear support for lapsing of membership due to inactivity[1]. What's less clear is what the term of inactivity should be before membership lapses. I would like to propose a relative lax term of four months of inactivity, after which I will be sending the inactive member a personal e-mail asking about their situation and whether they would like to resign from the GAC or commit to resume activity. If the member does not resign but does not resume activity within another month, their membership would lapse. Please express support or suggest changes. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:10, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

  • Support Abbasjnr (talk) 15:05, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Accurately. Support --Packa (talk) 17:04, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Very reasonable. I'd say support, though I don't really care much about this particular issue ;) --Solstag (talk) 17:41, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Update: In light of the above support and no voiced opposition, I have updated the GAC page to reflect the new policy. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 00:32, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Serious? 3 supports make a consensus here? I would like to propose the same term for inactivity of admins (6 months) and the exactly same process (6 months without edit in any grant page or anywhere = removal; If edit anywhere but not in a grant page = warning in talk page and if not signed in 7 days telling why they want to continue remove. If that happens for the second time is immediate removal) Béria Lima msg 02:22, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Serious! 3 support votes and zero oppose votes make a consensus here, for lack of more participation. If you had this different opinion, why did you not share it sooner?
As for your proposal -- it seems to me less effective and yet more aggressive than mine, and more appropriate for when there's a large group (of admins) rather than a small one (of GAC members); in a small group, we need active members more desperately than in a large group, that can generally tolerate much more idleness for much longer periods. Also, the benefit of it being "the same process" is in the eye of the beholder. The English Wikipedia process, for example, is different. Nevertheless, if a number of GAC members prefer your proposal for inactivity, we can adopt that instead. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 02:47, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Asaf, politeness is required in meta, or staff or not you may end up blocked for personal attacks. You don't like me, fine! We don't need to like each other, but you do need to respect my opinion as a member of the committee you are in charge of.
Answering you: YOUR job is to be here all time to answer things, that isn't MY job, I don't get paid to be here all day, so I only come when someone ask me to (as in, you asked today, and here I am). So if you don't do your job, I can't do my volunteer work.
As for the rest, we should listen the GAC. That is what I'm asking when I complained about the "consensus of 3" ... in a group of 16. That is 18%... good start, but not even a simple majority, so can't count as a decision. Béria Lima msg 02:52, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Beria, please don't describe my feelings for me. It is you who are derailing this conversation into ad hominem, not me. Please point out to me, as I don't see it myself, what exactly was a personal attack in what I wrote above, and I will gladly apologize.
I certainly do respect your opinion as a member of the GAC, and would have respected your opinion if you were not a member, too. It is because I respect it that I took the time to respond to your opinion and to critique it specifically (rather than just assert I disagree with it), and left open the possibility that your opinion would prevail, with more support from other GAC members. Where is it that I don't respect your opinion?
No one expects you to "be here all the time". You are, however, expected to have put this page on your watchlist (which I'm sure you have), and to review it regularly, or at least (as you say yourself) when I invite you to do so. The three votes of support above are all clearly the result of the personal reminder e-mail sent to the GAC Feb 22nd, which you were CCed on too. So you were just as invited as the three who did vote, and I did do my job. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 03:19, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Only a small comment, Beria. Fourteen days for a new idea couldn’t be a sufficient time, I agree. But it was not a new idea – it was a part of the GAC Survey. --Packa (talk) 00:14, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
Definitely this is a very important question and the whole process of lapsing membership is a thankless thing that we must overcome with least pain. An alternative way might be to vote for somebody to be removed from the list which sounds vague to me at the moment, and I therefore support the whole process above under the conditions given.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 19:46, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
As you say, it is necessarily unpleasant, so we should strive for something effective with the least amount of embarrassment or strife. Asking people to vote on removing a colleague, even if a virtually absent and inactive colleague, is too much unpleasantness, I think. So I'm glad you support the proposal. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 20:07, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Adding new membersEdit

In light of a pronounced need for more time and attention by GAC in open and future grant proposals, the WMF would like to expand the GAC based on Solstag's proposal above. Details are on the main page. Asaf Bartov (WMF Grants) talk 01:22, 2 June 2012 (UTC)


  1. GAC internal survey
Return to "PEG/Grant Advisory Committee/Membership" page.