Talk:Guidelines on potential conflicts of interest

Latest comment: 10 years ago by Risker in topic Usage

Thank you for your input


Your comments and suggestions much appreciated. Please see Guidelines on potential conflicts of interest for more information. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 14:30, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply



«The guidelines apply to requests for resources from any movement entities, groups, or associations». Why not individuals? --Nemo 14:52, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

An entity can be an individual. To quote from w:Entity (because it's a free resource :D) "In business, an entity is a person, department, team, corporation, cooperative, partnership, or other group with whom it is possible to conduct business." The example includes an individual facing a conflict. But since legal and business language does not always translate well, perhaps it should be clarified? --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:17, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I'm not sure that the article is correct, nor that it proves what you say. I'm sure that in Italian ente and the more precise persona giuridica (of which is a juridical synonim[1]) covers individuals but not some of the informal groups and even associations the guideline wants to address, for instance Wikimedia Italia is not a persona giuridica. So yes, the language is at least untranslatable and changing it would be better. --Nemo 15:33, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
This version is open for editing precisely so that people can propose alternative language. :) I'm not sure what wording might be better, but you are very welcome to either put it in directly or suggest it here. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 16:54, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Sorry, my English is surely not good enough to address such an issue, the responsibility is on someone else's shoulders. Cheers, Nemo 17:59, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I agree with Nemo that if persons are to be included, it is better to make them explicit. I read "movement entities" here as a whole, and I don't see individuals fall under that definition. Effeietsanders (talk) 08:38, 22 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I'm fine with that. I made these changes to the master. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:15, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Thanks! Nemo 18:39, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

anything of value


I would appreciate it if this could be specified a little more. I am assuming that this does not include reimbursements for example? (otherwise every chapter board member would have to declare that by default, which makes it kind of moot) Effeietsanders (talk) 14:54, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Actually I think reimbursements are included. For example, if you are buying paper for your personal - not movement - use, you should declare that when you are asking for reimbursement. Then the chapter can decide whether you should be reimbursed for those personal costs (and usually you should not be). Maybe I'm missing your point? Remember you only need to declare if you have a potential personal or financial conflict of interest in the reimbursement; otherwise, you do not have an obligation to disclose under the guidelines. Thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:34, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I think what Lodewijk means is that e.g. I once got my accommodation partly reimbursed by WMDE for a meeting, but this doesn't mean I have/had a COI in favour of WMDE when asking or supporting something "benefiting" WMDE; or it's so negligible that listing all such cases would mean that any active chapter member has to attach half a dozen pages of history to any request/action. --Nemo 18:45, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Thanks Nemo. I see the point now. Maybe we say something like this in the introductory text: "A personal or financial conflict normally does not arise simply because an individual has received a grant or reimbursement from another Wikimedia organization in support of the Wikimedia mission." Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:11, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I have reworded and put as below in the master copy:
As a general matter, a conflict of interest normally does not arise simply because an individual previously had received a grant or authorized reimbursement from a WMF-approved chapter or thematic organization when that grant or reimbursement was used in support of the Wikimedia mission without personal gain and in accordance with the established policy of the organization. As a matter of good practice, applicants for movement resources should disclose whether they are trustees, officers, employees or members of chapters or thematic organizations when requesting movement resources.
Thanks for the input. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:59, 31 December 2012 (UTC) (I continue reflecting on this. Please note some changes from a previous version that I had posted; see history page Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:20, 1 January 2013 (UTC))Reply
I am struggling with this one.  :) Here is a new rewrite, which I included as a footnote in the master for discussion purposes (though I'm still thinking about it):
Note: As a general matter, a conflict of interest normally does not arise simply because an individual previously had received a grant or authorized reimbursement from the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) or a WMF-approved chapter or thematic organization when that grant or reimbursement was used in support of the Wikimedia mission without personal gain and in accordance with the established policy of the organization. As a matter of good practice, however, applicants for movement resources should disclose whether they are trustees, officers, employees, contractors, fellows, representatives, or members of WMF, chapters, or thematic organizations when requesting movement resources
Thanks for your patience (and happy new year!). Geoffbrigham (talk) 12:44, 1 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

If in doubt


I would find it helpful if at the end of the guidelines, you could add a line which explains who people could ask confidentially for advise if they are in doubt about this. It is quite a complicated field - because the whole declaring interests is only one part of the equation. There is also privacy of the declarer *and* his/her family involved! Especially when this is not daily practice, a little help from a person on understanding this, would be great. Effeietsanders (talk) 14:56, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

My usual rule of thumb is that if you have any doubt as to whether you're in a COI situation, then you probably are! Perhaps a sentence in the guideline to encourage people to proactively make declarations anyway if they're not sure, in the interests of transparency. Craig Franklin (talk) 22:40, 21 December 2012 (UTC).Reply
That is only valid if you are familiar with these rules, if you work often with them and if English is your mother tongue. There are plenty of people who will not have encountered the term 'conflict of interest' often before, or at least never had to declare anything. Also, like I said, there is also another side of the story. There is also the privacy of your husband who happens to work somewhere. Would it be justified to tell the whole world that he works somewhere when you're uncertain about whether it might fall under these recommendations? Especially if English is not your native language? Having a person that can help you on the interpretation of it, would be a great improvement imho. Effeietsanders (talk) 08:37, 22 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
It very much depends I suppose if the intention is that the disclosure should be made to the public. For instance, if I'm requesting resources from the GAC, do I need to just tell en:User:Asaf Bartov about the COI, do I need to tell him about it and make a public disclosure that there is a COI that I've told Asaf about, or do I need to tell everyone?
I suppose the other aspect is that there is a certain expectation of transparency when accessing movement funds. If you're asking for money that has been donated by the public, then you ought to be willing to give up a bit of privacy. If you won't or can't do that, then you should access the resources elsewhere. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:39, 23 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Conflict of interest policies go two ways - they protect the community from exploitation and they also chill and block good editors from coming to the project. I agree with Effeietsanders - there ought to be a confidential communication channel through which people can ask questions non-transparently. There are many questions that people might not want to ask publicly but that they will ask privately. Even having a communication channel open is a good thing, regardless of whether it is used, because it gives people comfort to know that it is there. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:40, 15 January 2013 (UTC)Reply



Picking up on the issue of privacy (particularly of relatives, friends, etc), I think that disclosure of CoI has to respect personal privacy and therefore disclosure cannot always be expected to be "full", especially as much of the movement's business is revealed on public wikis or open mailing lists. However, I think if there is a matter that may have CoI implications that you cannot disclose for reasons of privacy, then I think it is sufficient to say "I have a CoI in this matter". However, in the absence of details for others to assess the extent of the CoI, the "worst" must be assumed. This pretty much means not making the request in the first place if you cannot disclose the CoI and recusing yourself from discussion and decisions if you are in a recommender/approver role in relation to the request. It may be that the CoI cannot be publically disclosed but could be disclosed to the decision-makers, in which case the decision-makers should keep a private record of the CoI in relation to the matter (in case of a subsequent query). Kerry Raymond (talk) 00:44, 23 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Hi Kerry. It is correct to say that the guidelines are not mandating public disclosure. You are right that, under the guidelines, the decision-makers need to be informed. That said, each organization can adopt more stringent rules, which may not allow confidentiality in all the same circumstances ... but that is an issue separate from the guidelines. Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:20, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply



There are many ways to disclose something. Currently it doesn't seem specified where it should be disclosed, and perhaps that is better. But I would like to give into consideration to specify it perhaps a little more. For example: someone could put a huge text on his user page, and somewhere in that, write that he/she is actually in a certain conflict of interest. Then if he/she has an email conversation with an employee (example 1) the Wikimedian might assume that this is properly disclosed, as it was included on the userpage. After all, that is where you would look for information about the person. On the other extreme, I don't think that any Wikimedia employee enjoys the thought to get a full CV with all possible disclosures attached to every email they get. I'm not sure what the golden middle road is, or how to phrase it, but maybe others are more confident. Effeietsanders (talk) 15:02, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

As always, good point, Effeietsanders. The guidelines require one to "disclose proactively." At the risk of overly complicating the guidelines, maybe we include text in the introductory text or drop a footnote that says something like this: "To 'disclose proactively' means to disclose immediately and clearly to the decision-maker(s) in charge of the allocation of the movement resources in question. A passive notice about a conflict on a user page, for example, would not constitute proactive disclosure when that user applies for a fellowship grant where she has a potential conflict involving that grant; the user instead must immediately notify the decision-maker in charge of awarding that fellowship about the conflict." --Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:28, 26 December 2012

Why requests


Could you clarify why you're addressing the COI on the side of the requests rather than of the people deciding something? The people requesting doesn't have any conflict of interest, it's the person deciding allocation of resources that might (conflict between personal interests and interest of the scope those resources are given for).
Also: «The guidelines apply to requests for these resources from movement entities», here by movement entities would be clearer. --Nemo 15:05, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

I totally agree. I came here looking for some COI guidelines after reading today's Signpost story. The examples posted are completely confusing, so that I am unsure how to respond or which point to pick at first. If any COI guidelines need to be read by "WMF resource applicants" (whoever they are) before making a request, then I should think the emphasis in the text should be on those COI cases where true damage may be done to the movement or to any of the specific Wikimedia projects. These should then be supported with true life examples. If someone combines business with pleasure, I would support that in general. As for firm examples, hopefully only those that have been published already should be used, etc. etc. - I don't mean to hang any scalps on the wall here, I just mean you need to clarify what you are talking about for the non-Western educated reader. Jane023 (talk) 10:17, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Intriguing points. I would be interested in what language changes you would propose and what kinds of examples would make sense. I know everyone is busy, but, if people can give me some language and examples under this subheading, maybe I can play with it some. Many thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:32, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Sorry Geoff, I don't come to Meta-wiki often so I am very slow to respond. I just reviewed example two: Example two: A community member applies for funding from a local chapter to work on a photography project for Wikimedia Commons. His funded work on the project would result in his travelling to a city where he plans to visit his significant other. The community member should disclose this relationship and potential benefit when he makes the request. The chapter’s conflict of interest policy may require an independent review of the need for the trip.. When I read this I am supposed to automatically understand the COI, but I don't. First of all, it is not clear to me how the significant other of someone can live in a different city. Second of all, it is unclear to me what the COI threat is; that the funding recipient is unable to complete the funded photography project because he/she is unable to make photographs while visiting with the significant other? I really cannot see the COI problem here without some further elaboration, such as that the funding allocation was in the form of payment of an airplane ticket up front and was therefore not dependant on completion of the work, or something like that. I find it a fairly difficult situation to grasp, while the idea of this page is to spell out the meaning of a COI. Jane023 (talk) 11:03, 10 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hi Jane, these are fair points. Allow me to answer your questions, after which I will be interested in how you think I should rewrite. (1) I am talking about long distance relationships, which are not uncommon within our movement. (2) Here is the potential conflict: A grantee should not be making up reasons or favor certain locations to get grants from the movement so the grantee can visit the grantee's significant other. It is a potential conflict of interest if it appears that the grantee is asking for a grant to get his or her travel paid for to visit a significant other. For example, the location of a Wiki Loves Monuments initiative should not depend on the location of a significant other; the best use of that money and the best location for the project may be elsewhere. I have heard allegations at different times about this type of potential conflict of interest, so I think the guidance will be useful. The guidelines do not prohibit visiting a partner when a grant allows travel to the same location; the guidelines simply require the disclosure, which then allows the grant-making authority to decide independently whether the grant request best serves movement needs. Maybe I could add a sentence in the example that states something like: "The potential perceived conflict is that the grantee may be seeking the grant to finance the trip to see a signifiant other as opposed to the real purposes of the grant. Disclosure allows the grantor to undertake an independent assessment and determine if the grant proposal is the best for the movement." Your thoughts?
Jane, based on your comments, I will be adding in substance the two proposed sentences in the above paragraph. Specifically, the new sentences read: "The potential conflict is that the community member may be seeking the grant to finance the trip to see a signifiant other as opposed to the real purposes of the grant - to photograph at a location of interest for the Wikimedia movement. Disclosure allows the grantor to undertake an independent assessment and determine if the proposed grant project - including its selected location - is made in the best interest of the movement." Many thanks for your help here. Geoffbrigham (talk) 18:48, 14 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
OK I see where you are going, but I still have a problem with the explanation, because for high-energy people, it might be doable to see the significant other *and* achieve the real purpose of the grant. I guess the root of the problem is that we have no way to actually measure progress against stated goals by grant requesters, so it will always be a judgement call by the granting authority. I suppose if I had a significant other living in Hong Kong, I would probably ask for a Wikimania travel grant, and based on my Wikipedia reputation alone I could probably get it if I gave a presentation there also. If I then spent the whole time with my significant other except for the 1-hour presentation time it would be a disappointment for the granting chapter, as they would expect me to at least attend some of the other presentations and report back, but currently there is no mechanism to measure this quantitatively. It's very hard to come up with simple examples. I am surprised that our movement has so long distance relationships, BTW!!! Jane023 (talk) 00:21, 13 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hi Jane. Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. I agree that evaluating the grant may vary depending on the grant maker. These guidelines are to require disclosure of the conflict. The grant-maker - after receiving that disclosure - needs to undertake his or her independent evaluation (such as determining whether the grantee is able to make sufficient progress), which may be governed by other local rules, such as a chapter conflict of interest policy, for example. In short, I don't believe the guidelines are intended to help the grant-maker decide how to treat a potential conflict; these guidelines simply require disclosure of the conflict so the grant-maker knows that she or he need to undertake that independent evaluation. Take care. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:02, 13 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
I took a stab at this by inserting the word "allocate" at appropriate places in the guidelines. See here. Geoffbrigham (talk) 16:35, 7 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thank you! Simple and effective. There's still to fix the premise: «promote honesty and transparency in requests», «apply to requests». The definition of "disclose actively" is also a bit incomplete, because it says only «report the conflict to the decision-maker or supervisor»: maybe add something like "or stakeholder" or even "or the community/public" (not really proposals, just to explain myself)?
Hi Nemo - For present purposes, I would prefer to stick with "decision-maker" or "supervisor." "Stakeholder" is too ambiguous in my book, and we need specificity to ensure the right person is notified to permit an evaluation of the potential or actual conflict. I am also sensitive to the above conversation on privacy. Thank for your helpful comments throughout. Geoffbrigham (talk) 18:43, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
When the guidelines are more stable we'd also need to check if the examples are still relevant and reasonably complete without being too verbose.
For the point above, and in case you need a real-life example (as asked by Jane023) to replace example six: WMIT many years ago hired as accountant the brother of a member (and later board member); the board was made aware of the parentage and shared the information with the assembly in the resolution text, with the rationale (it was for free, only expenses reimbursements, so no gains). --Nemo 16:36, 15 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Interesting example. Geoffbrigham (talk) 18:43, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Related to that: We may have to hammer out - at least for translation purposes - an elaboration of "recusal" in "The guidelines are not comprehensive or exhaustive. They are intended to support existing conflict of interest policies, which may require recusal or other ways of managing the conflict."
While it is a quite straight forward and legally codified concept in English, the translation effort at least in German, which I just started copyediting, currently talks about "Ablehnung", i.e. rejection, of the request - not about someone disqualifying himself (sua sponte or otherwise), regards --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 02:19, 3 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Unauthorized personal gain


Number five is a tautology and serves no purpose: what's unauthorised? Also, what's a personal gain? If movement member gains professional skills for the sake of their role in Wikimedia, is this a "personal gain" or a gain for the role being served? --Nemo 15:05, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Hi Nemo. I'm open to better language here but I'm not quite sure how else to express this without going into too much detail. I'm paid a salary by the WMF which I use for personal needs, but that is "authorized" personal gain. Gaining "professional" skills are generally "authorized" personal gain, because people know generally that experience with Wikimedia builds skill sets. I hear your point but I would appreciate help in expressing the concept better than it is presently drafted. Many thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:36, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I've thought about it yesterday and the best suggestion I could come up with is to replace "unauthorised personal gain" with "non mutually agreed personal gain", where "mutually agreed" can also mean stated from one part and acknowledged by the other.
  • In your example, your salary is mutually agreed in the contract you signed with WMF.
verbose examples
  • In another example, a chapter member A may volunteer with the chapter for giving a workshop to an entity, and the chapter later tells an entity that they recommend to ask A, with the understanding that the entity will reimburse/pay A: the chapter gains that the mission is furthered, the volunteer benefits from the chapters' contacts and position (which are resources) but the chapter knows it and considers it fair.
  • In a more complex fictional (and perhaps bad) example, a chapter may small reimburse travel costs for a Wikimedian professional photographer to attend some event and share photo coverage on Commons; the photographer will take advantage of it by saving on travel costs for another event he'll cover nearby for another organisation which set a budget for this job including travel and new camera purchase; the chapter must consider the issue, but can decide that this is fair for everyone involved, because the savings will be used to buy a better camera which will benefit also Commons, while without a reimbursement
I mentioned chapters because it's easier for me to invent examples and share past experiences of COI handling, not because they'd be covered by the guidelines.
--Nemo 13:24, 16 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thanks Nemo. To be honest, IMHO, "mutually agreed" doesn't really work as well as "unauthorized personal gain." In my mind, "mutual agreement" is not sufficient; there needs to be some type of "authorization." That said, I'm still open to other formulations. Your examples below are good examples, but I think they work under either of the proposed formulations, including "unauthorized personal gain." Geoffbrigham (talk) 18:51, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Example four unclear


I don't understand the example four, who's requesting what and who should disclose what to whom? I suppose you mean that the chapter, after deciding to pay for the service with its own processes and guidelines, has to disclose to the WMF the considerations made on COI if asking the WMF a grant? --Nemo 15:05, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

This is a good point. I have rewritten the example in the proposed guidelines to read as follows:
Example four: A chapter is considering whether to make a grant to a consulting firm for an open source project. A chapter trustee has an ownership interest in the consulting firm. The firm and trustee must disclose this ownership interest proactively to the chapter when making the grant request. The chapter may then manage or resolve the conflict under its own conflict of interest policy.
Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:51, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Example one-bis


«WMF board member asks a WMF staffer to intervene in a wiki discussion the board member cares about» (I leave details for you to imagine). What should they do under this proposed guideline? --Nemo 15:07, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

I do not understand your example Nemo. WMF board members have no direct authority over a staff member. Only the ED has. So there is no reason why the staff member should agree to do it, unless he personally feels like doing it. Board members can not directly impact on how much the staff member would get (raise or one-time-benefit). So I see not how your example illustrate the current guidelines proposed... Anthere (talk)
If the guideline doesn't cover that case, it's wrong, IMHO. The guideline is not about forbidding, it's about transparency; it's misleading, in my opinion, to say that the lack of a direct authority is enough to say that there can't be any problem, when we're even covering the case of «resources that may benefit your [...] close friend». A friend matters more than someone who has indirect authority over you?
We have a fresh example which might be of use (or not, I don't know).[2] --Nemo 15:18, 15 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
I guess I'm having a hard time seeing the conflict. Staff and WMF Board generally are aligned - we are part of the same institution, and we work for the Board through the Executive Director. Staff also are free to express their personal opinions on wiki pages; if a Board members asks a staff member to support a personal position, and that staff member shares the same position and expresses their view in a personal capacity, I think that is fine. A staff member cannot pretend to represent the Board's position on an issue unless the Board has actually decided that issue, but that is already explained in bylaws and through corporate governance principles. I guess a Board member in theory could threaten to fire a staff member if the staff member does not express his or her opinion, but that raises issues other than conflicts of interest and would be dealt with accordingly (in the extremely unlikely case that would ever happen). Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:02, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply



I would suggest to enable the translate extension on this page, so the proposal could be translated. –Bence (talk) 15:16, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

I'm working on finding somebody who can do that now. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:24, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Solved. –Bence (talk) 15:30, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Next time I'll think to put a note on the talk page in case somebody more technologically savvy than I wanders by before I find assistance. :D --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:34, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Or WM:RFH as suggested by TR. --Nemo 15:44, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

"Close friend"


I think "close friend"is so open to interpretation as to be useless. It also risks creating an impractically large number of conflicts. Conflict of interest policies (including the foundation's) usually have a narrower definition of a connected individual. --Tango (talk) 16:46, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Thanks Tango. To be honest, I would like to hear more thoughts on this. I do note that the term "close friend" is not that uncommon in conflict of interest policies. See for example: . Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:08, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I am fine with "close friend". Yes, there is a degree of interpretation, but I do not think it can be avoided. Anthere (talk) 22:16, 28 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I agree with Anthere; I think that not having "close friend" would generate more problems than it would remove: it generates double standards and inequality of treatment for relations with the same degree of affection but different framing. I personally experienced this both in cases where I was the decision-maker and refused to ignore such inequality, and as a proposer in cases where I disclosed what I felt necessary even though nobody had asked me to disclose.
However, on the matter of double standards, see #Example one-bis above. --Nemo 15:30, 15 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Wikimedia or Wikimedia Foundation?


It appears these guidelines are intended to apply to all Wikimedia resources, not just those of the foundation. If that is the case, a resolution of the foundation board isn't an appropriate mechanism. Someone requesting resources from an entity other than the foundation needs to follow guidelines set by that entity. There is merit in having consistent guidelines across the movement, but in that case they need to be jointly agreed by the relevant bodies. --Tango (talk) 17:01, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

In my view, we need simple rules that are movement wide to ensure that people understand our expectations as a movement. Obtaining agreement from every entity is simply not possible as a practical matter - though it would be beneficial in an ideal world. That said, I think there are two considerations that are relevant to your observation:
First, the proposed board resolution simply "encourages" adherence. Specifically, "[b]oth Wikimedia organizations and community members are encouraged to adhere to these guidelines in their requests for and use of resources belonging to the Wikimedia movement." This is consistent with other WMF board resolutions. See, e.g., the WMF Board resolution on organizational best practices ("Resolved, that the Board of Trustees approves the following organizational best practices, which describe practices that all Wikimedia organizations are encouraged to pursue.").
Second, these guidelines are only minimum standards. The guidelines recognize that they are intended to complement other methods for managing conflicts of interests ("The guidelines are not comprehensive or exhaustive. They are intended to support existing conflict of interest policies, which may require recusal or other ways of managing the conflict."). As explained in the footnote to the introduction: "Movement organizations, of course, are free to adopt more strict and tailored conflict of interest rules that go beyond the minimum standards of these proposed guidelines."
Many thanks for your comment! Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:44, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I would suggest the WMF make some guidelines for chapters (etc) on what sort of things they should include in their own policies on conflicts (this stuff really does need to be in policies, not just guidelines) and then chapters can decide what to say to people requesting their resources. Having multiple documents claiming to be applicable will just cause confusion. Even better would be for the WCA to produce guidelines for chapters, but I think it is still busy getting its internal affairs sorted out to do anything like that yet. --Tango (talk) 23:41, 21 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Geoff, this is rather surprising; I agree with Tango that this would hugely increase the confusion of roles, responsibilities and applicable regulations. If the proposed resolution is meant to be a "standard" for other Wikimedia organisations, the resolution should state that adhering/adopting/implementing the suggested guideline is not required nor automatical under the agreements the WMF signed with other entities. Otherwise, I personally think the WMF would be breaching the agreement with chapter, "Conduct" section, «The Foundation shall not speak or act on behalf of the Chapter except insofar as may be agreed upon with the Chapter» (I'm quoting the version WMIT signed). Thanks, Nemo 12:17, 23 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Respectfully, I do think we need this guideline now since we are seeing conflict of interest issues arising in the movement, and we need to establish a minimum baseline to help educate about basic governance. As noted about, the guidelines are not mandatory: the proposed Board resolution uses the word "encourage[s]." I do agree that chapters and other movement entities should have primary responsibility and should put in place mandatory guidelines to prevent misuse of movement resources. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:29, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Perception of CoI


Guideline four is rather difficult in practice as perception is in the eye of the beholder. I might not believe that a colleague is a "friend", merely someone I see in the office every day, and that there is no CoI. However, other people might perceive we are friends and that there is a CoI. OK, maybe in this situation, you might think "maybe there is a perceived CoI here that I should mention". But what about the colleague from three jobs ago whose name you have long forgotten, that college classmate that you never talked to, etc. Should I disclose a possible "perceived COI" just because we both work for the government (along with hundreds of thousand of other people)? Clearly it can get ridiculous. Of course Guideline Three is the circuit-breaker -- the person with the overly-active perception can always ask for clarification. Kerry Raymond (talk) 01:10, 23 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

I've had drinks a few times with Kerry, does that mean we have a COI? I was at User:John Vandenberg's wedding, does that mean I have a COI with respect to him? I think in terms of guideline three, putting these things out there and letting others make the call is the way to go. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:42, 23 December 2012 (UTC).Reply
The point of Guideline 4 is to underscore to our community that even the perception of a conflict should be on its radar screen and disclosed. Ambiguity surrounding potential fact scenarios is always present in COI policies and guidelines. And the context of the potential conflict is not just the person involved but the nature of the personal or financial interest that one has in receiving movement resources. In the end, it comes down to judgment by the individual. If there is doubt, one should disclose if requesting movement resources. That is basically the tenet of Guideline 4. --Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:49, 26 December 2012

Conflict of Hostile Interest


The presumption in the guidelines is that in a conflict-of-interest situation, you may seek to confer a benefit on someone you like. However, the other side of the coin is that you might seek to do harm to someone you dislike. This is not so likely to occur when people request resources, but is likely to occur when people approve such requests. Are you saying "no" for good reasons or because it's your ex-husband's new girlfriend or because they reverted your WP edit last week? Kerry Raymond (talk) 01:10, 23 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

A good point. SJ talk 
This is one of the reasons I asked #Why requests. The worst COI, whether positive or negative, usually happens on the side of the person approving stuff. Nemo 11:47, 23 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Well, how do you avoid that? In the case of the ex, the person requesting the resources has to be aware of who is part of the deciding process, and maybe (cordially) suggest that they recuse themselves, and the rest of the committee can evaluate the situation. On the WP edit, frankly, I think that sounds more like the person getting a "no" scrambling for a reason, any reason, to appeal the decision. Raystorm (talk) 13:04, 28 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Considering the different scopes of both COI-structures, I would like to suggest to wait for the Hudson report, a document we are surely all going to study with great care, before taking on this additional point, regards --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 00:02, 4 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Wording suggestion


Guideline 1's meaning collapses into place only at the end of a very long sentence; I had to read it several times. I'm not sure what "proactively" adds, and it puffs up just a median modal operator, should. I suggest a high modal must, without the proactively that's frowned on in formal registers by some people. We can chop a third off 1. And numerals would be nice.

Thank you for this comment. I accordingly have included in the master copy a better explanation of "disclose proactively" (as explained below). Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:03, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply



Guideline 1:

If you are being paid by or receiving anything of value from another person or organization, you should disclose proactively that relationship and interest when you make a request for movement resources that may benefit that other person or organization.


Guideline 1:

If you are being paid by or are receiving anything of value from a person or organization that may benefit from movement resources you are requesting, you must disclose this fact.

I like the brevity of your reformulation. I rewrote the master to read: "Guideline one: If you are being paid by or are receiving anything of value from a person or organization that may benefit from your request or use of movement resources, you should disclose proactively that fact and interest." Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:03, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply


Similarly, in 2, please consider changing "you should disclose proactively that interest when you make the request" to "you must disclose that interest when you make the request"; and in 4, ", ... you must disclose why ...".

I understand your comment, but since the guidelines are presently advisory, I prefer to use the softer word "should." Thanks for the idea, though. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:12, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

In 4, I stop at the word why: what is being required is for an applicant to disclose their personal insight into why their request or use of movement resources could be perceived as improper. I'd have thought this was the job of an auditor, not an applicant. Perhaps it's OK, but maybe you could just check that the wording does what you want it to here.

Thank you. The language works for me. Often the applicant for resources is the only person who fully understands the nuances of the request and is in the best position to understand what potential perception may attach with the request or use of movement resources. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:12, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Timing. In 1 and 2, the interest must be disclosed only "when you make the request"; ideal for gaming, that one, since it's too easy to form a COI relationship after making a request, by private arrangement at the time (the applicant establishes a contractual relationship with their spouse's company after the grant is awarded, for example); perhaps this is too fussy, but we rely on 4 alone, which makes a winding track. By contrast, 3 is wider in scope: "You should answer fully and honestly any relevant and appropriate questions when requesting and using movement resources." I note that 2 doesn't mention former relationships; as long as that's ok.

Again good comments. I have expanded the guidelines to uniformly contain the concept of "receipt or use" of the movement resources. I think your point about former relationships is valid, but to capture the most important and to keep the guidelines simple, I suggest sticking with the present language. Chapters and other movement organizations are, of course, free to promulgate more strict guidelines for their organizations. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:12, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Who is "you"? Is it only the person making the request who is covered? Is it all chapter members? Is it office bearers?

I think it will depend on the circumstances. Overly defining terms risks making the guidelines too complicated, and I fear that might be the case here. Good point though. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:12, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

In 3, there's a quest ... quest jingle"

  • "You should answer fully and honestly any relevant and appropriate questions when requesting and using movement resources."

Please consider instead:

  • "You should fully and honestly answer relevant and appropriate questions on conflict of interest concerning your application for and use of movement resources."
I would like to hear more comments on this point. The point of this guideline is that people need to be honest when people ask them relevant questions about the use of movement resources. I guess the point is that there is an inherent conflict of interest when someone uses movement resources but are not honest about their use. For now, I would like to keep the present formulation unless I hear strong objection to the contrary. Thank you for this good comment, though. Geoffbrigham (talk) 14:12, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Tony (talk) 10:54, 23 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Forgive me if my interpretation of the English language is incorrect. Here is my understanding of the implications of using the word "proactively" (which I support). In my understanding, proactive means at the same time that the person will disclose the fact PRIOR to any serious discussion or decision and that the person will make sure that the information is not only provided but also known by the decision maker. I have seen several times COI being disclosed *after* the decision was made (oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you... this is no big deal, do not worry, so late that one is in effect put in front of the situation and is basically forced to accept it) or several times COI being disclosed at the last minute (decision is not made yet, but lot's of time has already been put in the discussion and some step decisions been made, so in effect, no one is really willing to start all over again) or COI being disclosed in such a way that not all parties or even no parties at all are aware of it (oh, you did not know... but I had told personX and she was supposed to tell you. She did not ???). So proactive is a personal effort to do the disclosure in a timely fashion and a personal effort to make sure that the decision maker is actually aware of the COI. Anthere (talk)

Anthere, I fully agree. Above I suggest that we include the following explanation in the introductory text: "To 'disclose proactively' means to disclose immediately and clearly to the decision-maker(s) in charge of the allocation of the movement resources in question. A passive notice about a conflict on a user page, for example, would not constitute proactive disclosure when that user applies for a fellowship grant where she has a potential conflict involving that grant; the user instead must immediately notify the decision-maker in charge of awarding that fellowship about the conflict." Given your comment, Anthere, I would rewrite this sentence to read as follows:
"Under the guidelines, a person should "disclose proactively" the potential conflict of interest. To "disclose proactively" means to disclose immediately and clearly to the decision-maker in charge of the movement resources before any serious discussion or decision on the allocation and use of those resources. A passive notice about a conflict on a user page, for example, would not constitute proactive disclosure with respect to a fellowship grant. The user instead must immediately notify the decision-maker about the conflict in the user's application for the fellowship grant."
I will go ahead and make this change in the master document. Geoffbrigham (talk) 13:19, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I would like to suggest something along the line: "..disclouse to the decision-maker(s) explicitly and in advance of any serious discussion...". Nailing down the temporal category clearly seems desirable to all of us but "proactive" has quite a complex semantic history in English since the term's experimental psychology origins in the 1930s.
The term's counterparts in languages like German ("proaktiv"; meaning depends on anticipatively planning in the relevant management context) and French (where "proactif" seems to have been introduced as a term only in 1993; or so at least the German Wiktionary claims based on Paul Robert: Le Nouveau Petit Robert. Dictionnaire alphabétique et analogique de la langue française 2009, Seite 2028) aren't looking particularly safe for translation purposes either.
I would like to deal with semantic arguments now and spare us the trouble having these discussions with confused volunteers, subject to a specific board-approved wording, in case they got it wrong. Working around "proactive" seems advantageous to me and safes us putting elaborate clarifications in, regards --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 17:34, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I like it. This is what I changed the master copy to read as:
Under the guidelines, a person should "disclose proactively" the potential conflict of interest. To "disclose proactively" means (1) to disclose the conflict to the decision-maker in charge of the allocation of the movement resources in question; and (2) to so disclose that conflict explicitly and in advance of any serious discussion or decision about the allocation or use of those movement resources. A passive notice about a conflict on a user page, for example, would not constitute proactive disclosure with respect to a fellowship grant. The user instead must immediately notify the decision-maker about the conflict in the user's application for the fellowship grant.
Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:36, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
You say, "To 'disclose proactively' means to disclose immediately and clearly to the decision-maker in charge of the movement resources before any serious discussion or decision on the allocation and use of those resources." No it doesn't. Please supply a reference for this interpretation. Tony (talk) 00:41, 1 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hi Tony and happy new year! It is not atypical to define terms in a document like this one. The word "proactively" is a short-cut method to describe the actions required in the definition. I'm willing to consider another word if you think there is a more accurate one available. Many thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 13:02, 1 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
  • Response. Geoff, proactively is overused corporate-speak, and here it is pretty ugly and, as I will argue, unnecessary. (By the way, must is used in the definition of that word, yet must can't appear in the guidelines below?) Since the text will need to be translated into other languages—or at the very least understood in English by non-natives—the shorter and less cluttered the better. Disclosure can still be defined in similar terms to the current definition of proactively in the lead:

    EXISTING: "Under the guidelines, a person should "disclose proactively" the potential conflict of interest. To "disclose proactively" means to disclose immediately and clearly to the decision-maker in charge of the movement resources before any serious discussion or decision on the allocation and use of those resources. A passive notice about a conflict on a user page, for example, would not constitute proactive disclosure with respect to a fellowship grant. The user instead must immediately notify the decision-maker about the conflict in the user's application for the fellowship grant."

    SUGGESTED: "Under the guidelines, "disclosure" means immediate and clear disclosure to the decision-maker in charge of the movement resources before any serious discussion or decision on the allocation and use of those resources. For example, a passive notice about a conflict on a user page would not constitute disclosure in these terms; instead, immediate notification to the decision-maker about the conflict in the user's application for movement resources would be required."

    And perhaps we could now go one step further in making the first guideline plain and short, using a simple imperative that will be much easier to translate into other languages, without must or should, or this proactively (another pot-hole for translators). And I have a problem with "that fact and interest" ... are the referents clear in English, and will they be rendered properly in other languages?

    EXISTING: "Guideline 1: If you are being paid by or are receiving anything of value from a person or organization that may benefit from your request or use of movement resources, you should disclose proactively that fact and interest."

    SUGGESTED: "Guideline 1: Disclose any payment (or anything else of value) that you receive from any group or any person who might benefit from the movement resources you are requesting or using."

    Meta-comment: I'm now confused about exactly what the status of these guidelines will be—perhaps it's an attempt to plot a politically feasible and possibly compromised track between the foundation and the chapters ("we'll give you the money, and we'd love you to use these recommendations for avoiding corruption, but if you don't want to use them, fine, we've done our job as the granting agency—don't expect any help if there's a scandal"). If I were a chapter I'd be inclined to ignore these guidelines unless they had more than an optional status. Tony (talk) 01:30, 3 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Hi Tony: (1) Your first suggestion works for me in principle with respect to the removal of the word "proactively." I will incorporate in the next day or so in the master unless I hear any objection. Thank you! (2) I like your putting the guidelines into an imperative mode. I will play with incorporating that concept in the next day or so unless I hear any objection. Thanks again! (3) The guidelines are not technically mandatory but movement parties are encouraged to comply with them. I would prefer if the guidelines were mandatory, but others have expressed concern about that, citing for example the independence of chapters. For me right now, I want to use these guidelines to build awareness (of what should usually be obvious to most people) and establish the most minimum of standards. That said, as we did with the Board's organizational best practices resolution and the fundraising agreement, the chapter and WMF are free to incorporate by reference these guidelines as a mandatory provision in those agreements relating to grants or payment processing, for example. Thanks for your time and reflection here. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:17, 5 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Geoff, thanks for your response. On point (3), I understand. But the chapters can't have it both ways in the trade-off between their independence and the scandal-proofing of the interests of the WMF board and the trademarks—even if a chapter is made to take a higher degree of responsibility where it's shown that they haven't adhered to the guidelines. Just as long as the interests of the WMF board and the trademarks are sufficiently protected in those scenarios—something that's not easy to do. Tony (talk) 00:36, 6 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Tony, I just made the changes based in large part on your suggestions. Thanks. I do like it better. See here. I did not change the words "fact and interest." I'm still reflecting on that. For me those terms are clear, but, if you have a better suggestion, please let me know. Cheers. Geoffbrigham (talk) 16:24, 7 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
I also added a new example to illustrate the "allocation" COI principle. Cheers. Geoffbrigham (talk) 01:54, 9 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Geoff, looks good! Tony (talk) 08:24, 10 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Tony, I hate to reopen this. But every time I read the new version, I fear people will not understand that they are required to disclose immediately and to the right person. I know we have the definition in place, but my experience is that people don't read the details - they need shortcut words to trigger questions. So, in hopes you won't find it too bad of a formulation, I inserted the word "actively". I hope that is acceptable or at least not too objectionable. Again, apologies for reopening this.
Also I included the word "allocation" in the proposed Board resolution to reflect the above comments re allocation of movement resources. Thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 16:32, 11 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
  • Geoff, if you want people to understand what we mean by disclosure, they'll need to read the definition. Repeating the phrase again and again in the individual guidelines won't do this; people are less likely to read the definition, especially as it's not highlighted with a bold title as the guidelines themselves are. I would not keep hammering it: brevity of wording and prominence of definition would be preferable, I believe. A few other shortenings and tweaks: is it not easier without the (1) and (2) in the definition? I paragraphed off the example, and shifted the flagging that it's an example to the start of the clause. Short and simple is good for translators as well as English-readers, I think.

One of my concerns about the repetition of the explicit amplification "actively" is that it assumes some kind of boundary between disclosure and active disclosure; whereas I think it would be better to show Wikimedians what simple disclosure means—never something passive or half-hearted. Pumping it up each time then puts a big question-mark over the simple word.


The guidelines are not comprehensive or exhaustive; they are intended to support existing conflict of interest policies, which may require recusal or other ways of managing the conflict.

What does "disclose" mean here?

To disclose means to actively report a conflict of interest to the decision-maker or supervisor in charge of the allocation of the movement resources in question and to do so explicitly and in advance of any serious discussion or decision about the allocation or use of those movement resources.

For example, a passive notice about a conflict on a user page would not constitute adequate disclosure with respect to a fellowship grant. Instead, the user must immediately notify the decision-maker about the conflict in the user's application for the fellowship grant.

Guideline one
Disclose if you are receiving payment or anything of value from a person or organization that may benefit from your request, use, or allocation of movement resources.
Guideline two
Disclose if you are requesting, using, or allocating movement resources that may benefit your family member, spouse, partner, business associate, significant other, close friend, or their organizations or employers.
Guideline three
Answer fully and honestly any relevant and appropriate questions when requesting, using, or allocating movement resources.
Guideline four
Disclose if your request, use, or allocation of movement resources could be perceived by others or the public as improper. Even the perception of a conflict or unauthorized personal gain needs to be disclosed.
Guideline five
Do not request, use, or allocate movement resources for unauthorized personal gain.

Tony (talk) 04:44, 12 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

I really appreciate your thoughtfulness here Tony. I see your point about including the word "actively," but, in policy, contract, and legislative drafting, this type of short-cut language is not uncommon. I did ask a couple of colleagues how they saw it, and they found the word "actively" to be useful. I am reluctant to remove the word. That said, I get your point and really like your bold title, which attracts readers' attention to the more detailed definition. So I will corporate that idea at least. Thanks again. Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:10, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
P.S. I also took your suggestion and deleted the words "are intended to." Cheers. Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:19, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Full disclosure is not enough


Any conflict of interest will do harm to our movement and undermine our credibility. The only consistent choice would be to say that a COI is not in line with our principles as a community of volunteers and it is therefore against the rules to write articles or to make photos or anything else for money.--Aschmidt (talk) 06:55, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply


You might be aware that within the European Union a competitor editing Wikipedia disclosing his conflict of interest act against European competition law (OLG München, Urt. v. 10.5.2012, Az. 29 U 515/12, Openjur 2012, 122896). How would you address this legal problem in the new guidelines?--Aschmidt (talk) 07:28, 26 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Hi Aschmidt,
I am posting on behalf of Geoff Brigham, who asked me to look into your question. We are aware of the ruling, and appreciate your vigilance on this front. The introductory section to the guideline excludes the issue of paid editing, at least for the moment - it reads:
Importantly, the guidelines are not intended to address directly more specific controversial topics, like paid editing. We understand that the community is engaged in that discussion in other venues. That said, these guidelines may serve as a foundation upon which to build more specific policies in the future.

Therefore, the implications of the Munich decision appear to remain unchanged by these Guidelines.
But even if paid editing were someday to be covered by Wikimedia COI guidelines and full disclosure of such editing required, it would appear to me that a disclosure requirement would not necessarily increase legal risk to paid editors in Germany. (I should note, however, that I am not licensed to practice in Germany and my knowledge of the opinion is derived from a rough translation of the decision. Also, for legal ethical reasons, I can give legal advice only to WMF, not to any community member.) Unfair competition liability under the Munich opinion does not appear to me to hinge on whether an editing COI is disclosed. Rather, the opinion appears to hold that regardless of disclosure an entity may still be liable for unfair competition; in other words it appears paid editors arguably risk incurring liability with or without disclosure of their COI. It appears to me that lack of disclosure could in theory place a paid editor at greater risk of legal liability due to the increased false impression of neutrality such editing may create.
We would also ask the community to keep in mind that under the Wikimedia Terms of Use, all contributors agree that they will abide by laws applicable to them and refrain from unlawful conduct. Editors who violate applicable local law may put themselves at risk for legal actions against them. If in doubt, contributors should seek legal advice. Rkwon (WMF) (talk) 01:52, 9 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Tut mir leid


... das Thema ist wichtig und spannend, aber ich fühle mich mit meinen Englischkenntnissen nicht in der Lage, hier mitzudiskutieren. Damit bin ich ein typisches Diversifikationproblem, das so oft beklagt wird ("Warum beteidigen sich so wenige?"). Wäre es nicht sinnvoll, bei diesen einzelnen Projekten einen professionellen Dolmetscher zu beschäftigen?
Schade um eurer Engagement - in diesem Sinne ... --AndreasPaul (talk) 09:24, 27 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

Rough translation (please feel free to improve):

... the topic is important and exciting, but I do not feel with my knowledge of English I will be able to join the discussion here. So I am a typical diversification problem that is so often complained of ("Why do so few participate"). Would it not make sense to employ for these individual projects a professional interpreter? Too bad about your involvement - in this sense

(Bitte dazu beitragen, dass dieser Text verständlich.)
Wir suchen diese Art von Hilfe, aber leider haben wir noch niemanden gefunden. ([3]) Es tut mir leid, dass wir hier keinen rechtzeitig gefunden haben, um zu helfen. Mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht (sogar mit Google übersetzen als Hilfe), aber ich werde versuchen, alle deine Fragen zu beantworten oder ich werde versuchen, einen Freiwilligen zu finden, der das kann.

We are looking for this kind of help, but unfortunately have not filled the position yet. ([4]) I'm sorry that we could not find someone in time to help here. My German is very poor (even with Google translation to help), but I will try to answer all your questions, or I will try to find a volunteer who can.

--Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 13:22, 27 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Thx, but isn't the Problem. We are want diversification, but we don't do enough to achieve this. --AndreasPaul (talk) 14:23, 27 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Hallo Andreas, das macht es nicht besser, aber das von dir angesprochene Problem existiert tatsächlich, ist bekannt und vielen auch bewusst und es wird auch regelmäßig darüber diskutiert. Es gibt aber leider keine einfache Lösung für ein internationales Umfeld, in dem etwas wie die Wikipedia in 280 Sprachen geschaffen wird. Es reicht zur Partizipation ja auch nicht, die Ausgangstexte in alle Sprachen zu übersetzen (alle? welche und wie viele vorrangig?) und da hat sich mit dem neuen Übersetzungstool auch schon eine große Verbesserung ergeben. In einige Sprachen (französisch, russisch und dänisch sind zum Beispiel dabei) wurden die Vorschläge umseitig auch bereits übersetzt. Für andere (u.a. deutsch, schwedisch) hat sich offensichtlich noch niemand gefunden, der das übernimmt. Das ist schade, aber ich bin sicher, dass auch da noch etwas geschieht. Was viel schwieriger ist, ist aber die Diskussion selbst. Eine nachträgliche Übersetzung hilft hier eher nicht, meine Wunschvorstellung wäre eine automatische Übersetzung je nach eingestellter Sprache für angemeldete und nach Abfrage der bevorzugten Sprache für nicht angemeldete Benutzer. Bis dahin gibt es aber noch eine Menge zu tun, auch völlig anderer Dinge. Denn auch das ist wahr: Das Sprachproblem bei projekt- und sprachübergreifenden Grundsatzdiskussionen ist leider nicht das einzige, dass wir angehen müssen. Es ist einfach gesagt, dass nicht genug getan wird, um tatsächlich Diversifikation zu erreichen. Ob es dadurch wirklich wahr ist, möchte ich im Moment nicht beurteilen und kann es auch nicht. Ich danke dir für den Schritt, deine Bedenken hier auch einfach mal in deiner Sprache niederzuschreiben, etwas, was sehr selten getan wird und was ich deutlich häufiger sehen möchte. Ich würde mich freuen, deine Gedanken zu den Vorschlägen lesen und an Geoff weitergeben zu können, wenn sie übersetzt wurden. Alice Wiegand (talk) 14:57, 27 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Danke für deine Reaktion. Leider habe ich für das von dir so treffend beschriebene Problem auch keine Lösung parat. Es ist ein "Teufelskreislauf": durch dieses Problem beteidigen sich nur wenige, weil sich nur wenige beteiligen, gibt es dieses Problem ...
Zu der Guideline-Problematik:
  1. Problem1: der Inhalt der Guidelines zielt wieder auf adminstrative Verfahren (alle Guidelines haben große Ähnlichkeit mit formalen Personalfragebögen in Firmen = administrativ), aber davon haben wir in WP gefühlte 10.000 Stück. Durch die genannten Guidelines haben wir dann 10.005 adminstrative Verfahren. Mehr nicht.
  2. Problem2: Administrative Fragen werden der Realität niemals gerecht. Erst Recht nicht in einem komplexen sozialen Netzwerk, in dem kollaborativ gearbeitet wird (= Wiki-Prinzip).
Gedanke: Was wir brauche, sind NICHT-adminstrative Konfliktlösungen. Wir benötigen (einfache) Direktiven. Dazu benötigen wir eine Diskussion über Grundwerte. Diese Diskussion findet bisher nur auf Benutzerunterseiten (Beispiel) statt, niemals auf Seiten wie "Meinungsbild" o.ä. (woran man schon das Dilema erkennt: es gibt in WP nur administrative Diskussionen).
  • Ein Beispiel: Ich habe vor vielen Monaten über meinen Urgroßvater einen Artikel geschrieben. Zu diesem Menschen hatte ich keinerlei persönliche Beziehungen da ich ihn nie (persönlich) kennegelernt habe). Eine Offenlegung meiner Beziehung würde die Artikelarbeit für mich verzerren. Denn so habe ich mich beim schrieben einfach an die WP-Regeln gehalten. Eine Offenlegung hätte suggeriert, das ich mich zu rechtfertigen habe. Und ich würde es als verletztend empfinden, mich rechtfertigen zu müssen. Dann würde ich eher nicht schreiben.
...Wenn ich nicht so neutral mit meinem Großvater umgehen könnte, hätte ich die Direktiven gebrauchen können (Grundwerte). In diesen hätte beispielsweise stehen können:
  • Jeder Autor kann bei bestimmten Themen aus persönlichen, religiösen, weltanschaulichen, ökonomischen oder anderen Gründen befangen sein. Wenn du dies bist (oder den Eindruck hast, dies zu sein), dann editiere nicht. Wenn du denoch an einer Änderung des Lemmainhaltes interessiert bist, melde dich auf der Diskussionsseite. Schildere dort deinen Interessenskonflikt und deinen inhaltlichen Wunsch.
  • Solltest du den Verdacht haben, das ein Benutzer in einem Interessenkonflikt steckt, ohne das dieser benannt wurde, sprich ihn an. Sollte dein Verdacht dadurch nicht ausgeräumt sein, nutze geeignete Diskussionsseiten (Portalseiten, 3M, ...) um diesen Verdacht gemeinsam mit der Community zu diskutieren.
  • Gehe von guten Absichten aus
In diesem Sinne, --AndreasPaul (talk) 16:37, 27 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
(Please help improve this loose summary. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:00, 27 December 2012 (UTC))Reply
Alice notes some of the challenges in translating content for a community of users who speak 280 languages and suggests that the translation tool has helped, noting that some translation has already occurred though not (as of writing) in German or Swedish, among others. She mentions how lovely it would be if we could do automatic translation. She also notes that true diversification requires more than translation. She welcomes AndreasPaul to communicate in German and offers to pass along his thoughts to Geoff.
AndreasPaul suggests that the lack of diversification may be self-perpetuating - few participate because few participate and so on. (I think I've got the sense of that.) AndreasPaul feels (1) the guideline is overly focused on administrative processes, of which we have too many; (2) these administrative issues are not met in reality particularly in a collaborative, complex social network based on the Wiki principle. The conversation we need to be having here is about basic values we should share, less about specific examples. He offers the example of himself having written an article about his great-grandfather, whom he did not know personally...he would have felt that he was being put on the defensive to disclose this personal relationship and would rather not to have written the article at all than to do that. Instead of being required to disclose, he feels that basic values would be more helpful, such as (a) requesting editors not to edit articles where they have bias but instead to seek assistance at the talk page, (b) encouraging other editors to speak first to potentially biased contributors before seeking assistance from others, and (c) reminding editors to work in good faith. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:00, 27 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Hi AdreasPaul. Thank you for participating in German. I will let Alice translate your main themes if she wants (though I know she is busy) or we can ask Maggie to do a quick summary in English based on Google Translate. (I just read your comments in Google Translate, which I appreciated). Translating a proposal in different languages has a real cost. When we rolled out the Terms of Use, it cost me about $12K as I recall; the Legal Fees Assistance Program cost me about $5-8K. Volunteer translations are less expensive obviously but put a burden on the community and often take a long time. My thinking here - in part because of your feedback - is to get to an improved version with this round of consultation. Then I may invest in a professional translation in 5-6 top languages (including German). After going through another round of consultation with also the non-English communities, I will then need to decide - depending on the extensiveness of the edits - whether to engage professional translators again to finalize the document. If we do this, it will take us beyond the Jan. 15 deadline, but I'm fine with that. Let me know if this does not make sense. Geoffbrigham (talk) 17:51, 27 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
I don`t sure what is right:
Google Translate kann jeder benutzen - aber das ist nicht das Problem. Wir diskutieren hier über die Struktur von einem komplexen sozialen Netzwerk. Und bei einer solchen Diskussion kann man den Text einer fremden Sprach lesen und verstehen, aber man kann sich nicht unbedingt in der fremden Sprache gut ausdrücken. Und an diesem Punkt bin ich jetzt.:In der deutschen Wikipedia wurde auf diese Diskussion hingewiesen, und sie ist sehr wichtig!:Ich werde versuchen auch weiter auf Deutsch zu schreiben, du kannst mir aber gerne auf Englisch antworten. --AndreasPaul (talk) 19:23, 27 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
translation: "Everyone can use google translate - but that is beside the point. We are discussing the structure of a complex social network. And in such a discussion, a user can read and understand texts in a foreign language but it is not necessarily the case that the user can also adequately contribute to the debate in the foreign language. I reached this very point. This discussion was noted on the German Wikipedia and its a very important topic! I will try to contribute in German and you are welcome to answer in English." @ Andreas: Please also look at my note on de.wp, thanks and regards --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 18:07, 31 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

The benefits of community-managed translation


Geoff, wrote above: "Volunteer translations are less expensive obviously but put a burden on the community and often take a long time."

This view makes a few assumptions that are worth unpacking.

  • Translations managed by the community may or may not be 'less expensive'. They should not be more expensive, but may at first may involve investing an amount into the process comparable to current investments in outside translators. Their immediate advantage lies in building comprehension and language-networks and shared identity within our existing community, not in saving money. In the long term, of course, a volunteer-run process also scales better than any other.
Our need for translation is tied to the need for a deep and pervasive understanding of this material, including nuance and details. Bringing topic-fluent multilingual translators into meta-discussions, and improving the language fluency of our community members, sets the stage or long-term communication. Translating the initial recommendations is only a small part of that goal.
  • Translation does not put a burden on the community; it is integral to our work. To the contrary, investing time, respect, and resources into our community of translators and their processes is a gift to the community that will help improve every sort of translation we do. (That said, a particular translation task may put a burden on a particular group of translators, if it is not scheduled or communicated well, or if the group asked is too small.)
Translation is something done constantly and joyfully on our projects. Our community does so much translating into and out of various languages each day that administrative translations on meta, such as this one, hardly register. However, that work is widely distributed; only a tiny fraction of those translators work on Meta.
Outside translation usually also deprives us of the TM [translation memory] for this topic and jargon, which would otherwise be added to our system.
  • Translation managed by the community can work with outside groups when needed. Outside translation companies have a well-honed system for finding and assigning translators, so are a good complement to any tight-deadline process. Our internal system is less honed. A community process could request pro translation when there is a gap in coverage or availability of meta-translators.
Many people who ask for translation are able to help with part of the translation-proofreading process - or can recruit ithers who can. They need a clearer way to help.

A specific proposal for combining some of the above ideas, and both community and outside translation:

  1. Commit to translating key documents into [at least] a set of core languages, so everyone can set expectations and personal commitments accordingly. This includes investing in making the points below happen.
  2. Create a clear timeline of past and future documents.
    • Define which upcoming docs will need such translation even before they are drafted. This gives translators lead time.
    • Track past docs, as new languages become available. This helps to highlight their work.
  3. Maintain a network of community translators in our core languages working on the key documents.
    • Define the scope of work involved each year - this helps draw in the right # of people from other translation efforts.
    • Recognize the essential work of translators in making our multilingual community possible.
  4. Support ongoing improvements to translation
    • Make the process smoother for both new and current translators, including import/export from professional translation tools.
    • Get supplementary outside translations -- on request, after community translations are underway and gaps are observed; or at the start, to seed community translation [e.g., in areas with new jargon].

Alice mentioned it is hard to know what languages to focus on. I would start with the top 2 or 3 groups from this list. Those 6-9 languages seem workable, though outside help may be more needed for languages with high reader-to-editor ratios. SJ talk  04:46, 4 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

I very much like what Samuel is saying; the lack of translation on Meta has been bothering me for some time. Some thoughts:
  • Rationing by the targeting core languages and documents is critical, given limited volunteer resources and funding. May I suggest that languages and documents be prioritised rather than placed in a binary yes/no structure with respect to the need for translation? We need a degree of flexibility if this is going to work. Possibly a narrow-scope trial is the way to go initially, enlarging the parameters as we feel our way.
  • Perhaps there could be debate on how to smoothly engage both volunteers and paid translators to work side by side. It seems psychologically tricky, but I'm not convinced an effective dual system can't be developed.
  • Is there a role for one of Meta's committees in coordinating translation (if this is supposed to be happening already, there's not much evidence of it)?
  • Is it possible to develop a well-oiled system by which translators can be alerted of updates to core documents, and non-English updates tracked?
  • Should a set of guidelines be developed for writing in English that is translation-friendly (in particular, google-translate-friendly). Do such guidelines exist (even a list of "try to avoid" words/wordings)? By analogy, en.WP's Varieties of English guidelines ask editors to avoid using words that are unlikely to be understood beyond a single variety, where this is easily avoidable: good advice in that context, I think. I see a lot of wording on Meta that makes me wince in empathy with the translation task. And it would really help translators if the English-language bloat and redundancy I often see could be avoided. I wonder why google itself hasn't thought of doing this: we should take the lead.
However, I recognise the limits in funding and volunteer labour. Volunteers should be the first port of call, and if we can provide greater social recognition for editors who consistently produce high-quality translations, that would be a good start. Can the chapters be brought on board to beef up the translation team? Tony (talk) 11:25, 5 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thanks SJ for your helpful comments. I appreciate what you are saying. Geoffbrigham (talk) 21:24, 5 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Project tender, employment opportunities + asset

  • I would like to add asset such as renting office(s). In Wikimedia Indonesia bylaw Board of Trustees and Board of Executives are not allow to rent their asset to the organization. i.e. I owned a property, WMID need office, I'm the chair/BoT/BoE, I said: rent my property - this is not allowed. Siska.Doviana (06:09, 28 December 2012 (UTC)), — (continues after insertion below.)Reply
I believe that Guideline 2 covers this situation with respect to disclosure of the conflict. Once a trustee discloses that he or she owns the property, the local chapter can make its decision whether to go forward with the lease pursuant to its local rules, policies, or bylaws. I agree with you that a chapter or other movement entity should be particularly cautious of any dealings with their own trustees, and a general prohibition may well be the best policy. Geoffbrigham (talk) 11:09, 28 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
That sounds like an excellent practice. The guidelines are not intended to be comprehensive or exhaustive. As the footnote in the introduction states: "Movement organizations, of course, are free to adopt more strict and tailored conflict of interest rules that go beyond the minimum standards of these proposed guidelines." Your proposed practice sounds like one that appropriately goes beyond the basic standards of the guidelines. Geoffbrigham (talk) 11:09, 28 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • Tendering project to a third party, as SOP, always need to have in minimum three applications and an announcement of why a certain company/ organization is selected. This of course depending also on the value of the project, if it is too small, it's most definitely a waste of time doing this. Siska.Doviana (talk) 06:09, 28 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Again a good practice (which may be beyond the basic scope of these guidelines). FYI I am working with an outside consultant in the UK with a checklist of best governance suggestions for movement organizations. I hope to have a draft of that proposed checklist ready in March or April to discuss with the community. That document will go into more details with recommendations for movement organizations to consider. I expect the document to go deeper on governance issues than these guidelines (which are intended for everybody). I think some of your points will be especially relevant for that more comprehensive checklist. Geoffbrigham (talk) 11:09, 28 December 2012 (UTC)Reply
Hi Siska, these are good comments. I have inserted my thoughts above. Many thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 11:09, 28 December 2012 (UTC)Reply

What are "movement resources"?


What are "movement resources"? To whom do movement resources belong before they are allocated? Is there a difference between movement resources and the resources which belong to the Wikimedia Foundation or any of its official partners? Blue Rasberry (talk) 02:00, 15 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

I think it is impossible to provide a comprehensive list of movement resources that fall under the guidelines. That said, the proposed guidelines do set out some illustrative examples in the first paragraph:
The five guidelines below seek to promote honesty and transparency in requests by anybody for movement resources. These resources belong to the movement and must always be used to support its mission. Such resources include, for example, grants, staff time, scholarships, trademark licenses, fellowships, employment opportunities, travel reimbursements, and conference resources. (emphasis added).
Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:23, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thanks, I was not expecting a comprehensive list. I appreciate your pointing this out to me and am totally satisfied. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:34, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Thanks for this


I think that the five guidelines proposed on this page are bland and non-controversial things that have long been in community consciousness and not before now stated. I like that the Wikimedia Foundation had legal staff write these things and submit them to the community for discussion with intent to bring them to the board.

I think that there was no better place to start this conversation than making statements such as these, which I perceive to be reasonable, conservative, and not sharply defined. In the future I would like to see these statements developed further as people bring real-world applications to them for the community for review. Blue Rasberry (talk) 02:04, 15 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Thank you Blue Rasberry. I agree we are only building the foundation for future discussions and modifications as needed in the movement. Take care, Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:25, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Focus and approach


I think we can focus this better. We can afford a broad policy ("consider and disclose all who may benefit from the project") since our projects are not commercially secret, and for ethics purposes and clarity it works well to do so. Such an approach also has far less scope to leave loopholes or enable a future issue.

It's good to think through and summarize briefly "who gains and how" as part of any proposal to use WMF resources. Usually this is pretty simple - the project has a target group, and perhaps also proposers or others are paid some expenses or are given access to some resources. The discipline of considering all those benefiting as part of a proposal has value - it protects against COI, makes "forgetting" to disclose COI difficult, but it also tends to encourage attention to what's reasonable and needed, and thus inherently away from inadvertent excess.

Try this approach - it handles the issue by means of a very short succinct policy - it simply says that any benefit or advantage other than explicitly stated in the project proposal or a few (very narrow) exclusions should be disclosed. End of story. As such it's all but watertight, and it's very simple and clear to apply. If the approach won't work in full, perhaps some parts of it will.

=== Core principle ===

The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable body. It disburses funds, engages in projects, and it has (and expects) an extremely high standard of ethics and transparency in conduct where individuals are trusted to undertake or be involved in projects. To ensure these standards are met, the Foundation also has traditional expectations of disclosure when a perception could reasonably arise - rightly or wrongly - that the highest standards have not been met. This policy outlines the Foundation's expectations and requirements related to disclosure and conflict of interest.

If you request, or are invited, to make use or take advantage of any resource of the Movement or Foundation beyond those free to the general public, then the following expectations and policy applies:

=== The fundamental policy ===

1. Projects involving WMF resources, support, or endorsement must have their full beneficiaries (and benefits) transparently stated in their discussion:
Any resources made available to any person at the discretion of the Wikimedia Foundation, by means of a specific proposal, project, grant, agreement, engagement, approval, or other activity of the Foundation (other than public services provided openly under our Terms of Use) shall have its anticipated beneficiaries and their benefits noted as part of the proposal.
2. Benefits or advantages which may arise, or may be reasonably perceived to arise, beyond those explicitly stated or excluded, must always be actively considered by those involved, and disclosed in a timely manner:
If you or anyone associated with you is involved in a proposal or other matter where benefit or advantage may arise - or be perceived to arise - from Foundation resources or Foundation approved activities outside the explicitly agreed benefits of the proposal, then it is your responsibility to actively and explicitly disclose this to the Foundation prior to agreeing or accepting any such resources. If you are not sure whether this applies, it is your responsibility to check (see below).

=== Definitions ===

For the purposes of this policy,

  • Resources means any resource, whether financial or non-financial, and also includes support, endorsement, approval, facilities, representations, reimbursements, disbursements, arrangements, and data access of any kind;
  • Associated means a non-trivial personal or organizational connection or relationship of any kind;
  • Active disclosure means it is your responsibility and duty to pro-actively draw a matter to the attention of others involved (publicly and repeatedly if that is what it takes to be sure it is considered) so that full information is available for a decision;
  • Explicitly means making clear the important point, directly and unobfusticated so that its full significance is made clear to the reader or recipient.
  • Benefits means any benefit or advantage, and is to be interpreted broadly. it covers direct and indirect benefits and advantages of all kinds, direct and indirect associates, and financial and non-financial benefits (other than mere benefit to social contacts and social standing). It also covers benefits and advantages received where these do not relate to resources or outgoings of the Foundation or from its support or other involvement, as well as matters under discussion at such a stage where disclosure would reasonably be expected already.
The sole exceptions relate to benefits that any reasonable person would expect, or which are publicly available anyway:
  • Benefits to any person stated explicitly in the proposal;
  • Benefits to the public at large, or which are the stated target of the project (this includes any benefits or other matters falling within ordinary wiki editing);
  • Social benefits (if any) related to general standing, networking, or reputation, that may reasonably arise in a normal way as a result of involvement;
  • All other benefits should be disclosed for avoidance of doubt.

=== What this means ===

This policy affects anyone involved in a project or proposal or arrangement with the Foundation which may provide benefits (other than disclosed or excluded benefits). You may need to actively disclose some matters, or refrain from undertaking or endorsing projects or other matters, until this policy is complied with.

  • If you become aware that you or anyone associated with you is receiving, or might receive benefit or advantage (other than as excluded) due to a proposal or agreement, which could appear to a third party to be additional to any benefits specified in the proposal or agreement, you must make sure this is disclosed fully and has been considered, before agreeing or accepting, and you must not agree to the proposal until you have clear and explicit confirmation that it is agreeable;
  • If you become aware of such a matter later on, you should promptly disclose it when you become aware.
  • If a matter may be important, or is sensitive, or it is unclear whether or not a matter has had full and independent consideration (for instance it may have been overlooked by those notified, or you may not have received a definitive considered response), then it is your responsibility to not accept or agree the proposal for yourself until you have a clear, considered and authoritative answer.
  • This may involve consulting the (legal | community) team, although it is good practice not to rely on a view from someone who is 'too close' to you in terms of working relationship. If you are unsure whether the matter has been well considered and the answer is clear, it is your duty to follow this up and consult or disclose further until a clear and authoritative view is obtained from the community or a mamber of the Foundation's Board if needed
  • If disclosure is clearly posted on the relevant discussion on a public wiki, while discussion is active and in a timely manner, so that others considering the matter are made aware, and it is clear the matter was seen by participants during the most significant period of discussion, this is good evidence of disclosure.

=== Examples ===

... etc

FT2 (Talk | email) 21:15, 15 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Thank you as always FT2. You have some interesting ideas in this rewrite. I would like to hear the views of others as well as we consider your version. I really appreciate your time and insights on this. Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:44, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
What worries me slightly are the indexicals, lets call them "any" (hello, again). I would like to see "any" made explicit before we start thinking about reshaping the draft along organizational terms as outlined. The given exemplary wording is not sufficient to deal with the index-problems; to illustrate the issue: If "any" refers to _any_ WMF-related resource (or other key element) whatsoever, it would (most likely) drawn entities like chapters in unworkable paperwork requirements - to be publicly filed on Meta and on any other WMF wiki affected by the respective proposal they are looking at in a decentralized fashion (strong reading, of course). If "any" refers to WMF resources (or other key element) in a strong organizational sense, then the wording would miss the point. None of the problems we have looked at in 2012 would be have been covered by the policy (all key cases occurred in legally and organizationally independent chapter-contexts). "Any" would need a strong (abstract) definition to underpin the policy and I would really appreciate seeing the indexicals being dealt with (to the extent possible) beforehand; so we are all sure where within the possible range(s) of interpretation the draft actually is intended to be (excluding pragmatic application of the text post-approval here for now). Best regards, --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 23:09, 21 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

The true conflict of interests of any contributor

Since november 2012 Meta-Wiki is viewed 11 billion times per month !
If speech is power, is there a COI here ?--Copyleft (talk) 22:24, 13 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Editorial note: it's not.

According to some of your point of view, every contributor should have no interest to contribute to wikipedia. So contribution should cost time and money for nothing counterpart : i disagree with this idealistic point of view because every content on wikimedia projects can be reused for commercial purpose. --Copyleft (talk) 11:49, 16 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Indeed. For instance, when translating to English q:en:Cesare Pavese, I spent money to buy English translations and I was donated the space by the community and by the WMF's servers, but I got the #Unauthorized personal gain of re-reading Pavese's books. My defense is that this personal gain on my end was "mutually agreed", see above. ;-) --Nemo 13:30, 16 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thanks for the example. I would add that the only gain to contribute to Wikipedia is to be able to give notoriety to people close to the wikimedia community (then their contributors). For instance, i have put four more quotes in french about Richard Matthew Stallman than William Henry Gates III, or Steven Paul Jobs and i am proud of that ! If you are paid by the Wikimedia foundation, you should be dominated only by this idea of actions.--Copyleft (talk) 09:36, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hi Copyleft, I'm not sure if I fully understand your point. Would you mind restating it for me? I see Nemo understands what you are saying, so maybe he can help me as well. Thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:47, 18 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Kulturkreise und Rechtssysteme sind verschieden


Man kann nicht alles in feste Gesetze pressen. So kenne ich es aus der Tschechei als bösen Faupax, wenn man eine Einladung zum Essen ausschlägt, in Deutschland kann man das unter Berufung auf Unbefangenheit durchaus tun, ohne anzuecken. Oder der in Finnland gebräuchliche Saunabesuch unter Geschäftsleuten, in den USA dürfte das schon fast unter Korruption fallen ;) oder zumindest sehr befremdlich aufgenommen werden. Wenn man in Rußland einen Wodka ablehnt, ist das ein Zeichen, daß man kein Freund sein möchte, die Flasche Wodka ist nie Bestechung, sowas gehört immer und überall dazu. In Spanien werden gegen Jahresende Alkoholpakete verschenkt, oft recht üppig und teuer ausgestattet, das ist da normal. Ebenso wie das Verschenken von Losen der Weihnachtslotterie, in Deutschland müßte man sowas wohl bei Steuer und Arbeitgeber anmelden. Läßt man sich seinen DSL-Zugang vom Verein finanzieren, müssen dafür bei uns schon gute Gründe vorliegen, in Estland wäre das völlig problemlos. OK, das ist alles etwas überspitzt, nicht alle Russen laufen pausenlos mit Wodkaflaschen herum. Es sollen Beispiele sein, daß Interessenskonflikt und seine Grenzen durchaus unterschiedlich sein können. --Ralf Roletschek (talk) 11:44, 23 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Translation (please assist; my German is very rudimentary and something here might be quite wrong! --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 15:55, 24 January 2013 (UTC))Reply
You cannot squeeze everything into fixed rules. For example: I know that it considered a nasty faux pas in the Czech Republic if one deflects a dinner invitation. In Germany you can decline it without offending by citing impartiality. Likewise it is common in Finland for business people to visit a sauna together, while the same thing might already be seen as being just short of corruption in the USA ;) - or at least very strange. If one rejects an offered bottle of Vodka in Russia, it is considered a sign that you decline to have friendly relations with the other party; the bottle of Vodka is never offered as a bribe there but is appropriate anywhere and anytime. In Spain, boxes of alcohol are common (and quite often expensive) new year's eve gifts. Likewise, giving away chances in the Christmas lottery; whereas something like that would probably have to be registered with the tax and employer in Germany. If the [German] chapter were to finance someone's DSL access, we would be obliged to have good grounds for it but there would be no such requirement in Estonia. Okay, this is all a little bit over the top; not all Russians are constantly running around with bottles of Vodka. These examples should be taken as illustrations for the point that "conflict(s) of interest", and its limitations (as a concept), vary widely.
Ralf Roletschek, thank you for pointing out the differences that you are aware of between cultures. I suggest that we think about the way that other global not-for-profit organizations manage the issue. In my view, there are differences between the way that businesses need to interact with people and the way that not-for-profit organizations do. We definitely need to be sensitive to cultural norms, but we also need to be aware of that people who work for not-for-profit organizations might have more room to ask for gifts to be something that is useful to the charity and not for their personal use. It won't fix every situation. But by making it clear up front that donations to the overall movement are appreciated instead of individual gifts, it could help. (Sydney Poore) FloNight (talk) 16:13, 24 January 2013 (UTC)Reply
Sorry for my bad english! The potential conflicts of interest exists, its a good idea to have Guidelines. Every, who works since years in Wikipedia and other projects, have conflicts of interest. Every who works for non-profit organisations have this, more or less. We (you) have to find a good soolution but ¡please! No german thoroughness and bureaucracy :-) --Ralf Roletschek (talk) 08:17, 25 January 2013 (UTC)Reply

Proposal to Conclude Consultation on February 15, 2013


Hi everyone! I want to personally thank everyone for their time and effort in providing thoughtful comments and feedback on the proposed conflict of interest guidelines. Once again you have proven to me that community participation always makes a document - even a legal one - much better.

We have extended the comment period for one month to allow for any additional international views following our translation of the guidelines. Unless I hear any objection, I propose closing the consultation on February 15, 2013. After that date, I would finalize the guidelines based on the feedback and expect to forward the final draft guidelines to the WMF Board of Trustees with a recommendation to adopt by resolution.

Of course, if I hear strong objections, I have no problem keeping the discussion open.

Geoffbrigham (talk) 20:45, 6 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

Final Edits


I will be reviewing the proposed guidelines for recommendation to the Board next week. Below are some final edits:

1. I will include the following sentence in the proposed Board resolution: " With the approval of the Executive Director, the General Counsel may modify these guidelines from time to time with 15-day notice to the community." This provision allows for flexibility in the guidelines to respond to circumstances as they arise without necessitating a Board resolution for every change. Geoffbrigham (talk) 17:59, 14 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
2. I made some edit proofs, which are reflected on the edit history page and are set out here: Geoffbrigham (talk) 18:30, 14 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
3. In example 6, I changed the acronym "CPA" to "certified public accountant" for those not familiar with that acronym. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:01, 18 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

Recommendation Forwarded to WMF Board


Today Sue has forwarded my recommendation to the WMF Board that it adopt the proposed board resolution and the accompanying guidelines as set forth today. I want to thank everyone for their thoughtful consultation, helpful insights, and useful expertise in this project. This community constantly reaffirms to me the value of collaboration, and I am quite appreciative of everyone's time, which has resulted in a far better policy than the one I originally proposed.

Geoffbrigham (talk) 19:04, 19 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

Participating in Wikimedia Committees as a PR professional and using the name "Wikipedia" for PR tools


The global PR company en:Fleishman-Hillard has recently announced that it offers to companies the "Wikipedia Corporate Index" (WCI), an analysis tool that evaluates all 15,000 German companies articles in a standardized scorecard. The tool is designed to help communication professionals in companies to improve their corporate presentations in Wikipedia and make transparent how well competitors are presented there. The WCI was developed by a team headed by Arne Klempert, Director of Digital at Fleishman-Hillard and previously longtime Wikipedia spokesman. The Wikipedia Corporate Index of Fleishman-Hillard is available for free under A version of the WCI for the English-language Wikipedia is planned. In the FAQ: "We're happy to support companies with deeper analysis and to advise them on the development and implementation of a sustainable Wikipedia strategy."

Arne Klempert (User:Akl) was hired by Fleishman-Hillard in 2010 and is a former WMF trustee (until 2012) and currently advisor to the Affiliations committee. How is it compatible to be a WMF trustee and do consulting for companies to "improve" their WP articles? How can Fleishman-Hillard use the name "Wikipedia" for their tool name? --Atlasowa (talk) 13:32, 15 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

Hi Atlasowa - I prefer not to address and resolve alleged potential conflicts on this discussion page. As I see it, the discussion here is to address the proposed guidelines. That said, as the WMF General Counsel, I do handle matters involving alleged conflicts of interest at the Foundation, and, if this is something you would like to raise with me privately for my consideration, feel free to send me an email. Geoffbrigham (talk) 17:39, 15 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
None of the six examples deals with this case. Perhaps this case should be included.--Svebert (talk) 22:47, 15 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hi Svebert. I think examples 4 and 6 probably come close enough to the principle (without opining on the specifics of the above case). I would like to avoid too many guidelines or examples to facilitate translation and comprehension. Unless you or others strongly disagree, I will not include for now (though we could include at a later date). Thanks for your thoughts on this. Geoffbrigham (talk) 03:34, 16 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hi Geoff, bitte entschuldige, dass ich in meiner Sprache schreibe, aber bei dem schwierigen Sachverhalt möchte ich angesichts meiner unzureichenden Englischkenntnisse lieber diese verwenden: Verstehe ich die Richtlinien richtig, dass diese nur Interessenkonflikte in Hinblick auf die Verwendung von Mitteln beinhalten, nicht jedoch Interessenkonflikte, wie sie zum Beispiel bei der von meinen Vorredner benannten Tätigkeit von akl sowohl im Board als auch in leitender Stellung in einem PR-Unternehmen auftreten hätten können? (Im konkreten Falle aus folgendem Grund: WP ist eine der wichtigsten Informationsquellen der Welt geworden. Die gleichzeitige Tätigkeit in einer Firma, welche sich mit Public Relations für Unternehmen insbesondere auch in den neuen Medien beschäftigt, könnte daher zu Interessenkollisionen zwischen den Interessen für eine unabhängige neutrale Darstellung in der Wikipedia und der Tätigkeit für einen Klienten als Public Relations Manager führen). Oder gibt es zu diesem Bereich bereits eine anderweitige Regelung? --16:06, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks so much for your comments, and I welcome them in all languages. Generally, the guidelines focus on the conflicts of interest that arise in the request for and allocation of movement resources. The guidelines are not intended, for example, to address paid editing. That said, once these basic guidelines are promulgated, the community is free to suggest additional areas that the guidelines should cover. I hope these guidelines may serve as the foundation for discussions within the community about all sorts of possible conflicts of interest, including those not covered here. Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:06, 17 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Dies bedeutet, dass es die in meinem vorstehenden Beitrag im letzten Satz angesprochene Regelung hinsichtlich Interessenkonflikten haupt- oder ehrenamtlicher Veranwortlicher der Foundation in Hinblick auf private oder berufliche Interessen nicht gibt? --Alupus (talk) 11:43, 19 February 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hallo Alupus, nein, das bedeutet es nicht. Für die Foundation-Mitglieder und das Board existiert seit September 2006 die interne Richtlinie zu Interessenkonflikten und der dazugehörige Fragebogen. Alice Wiegand (talk) 12:00, 19 February 2013 (UTC)Reply

For future consideration


A suggested addition to this page was proposed by Rupert Thurner of Wikimedia CH. He proposes - for consideration for future development - that we make mention of the potential conflict that may arise when somebody in a decisive role (such as the Board) of a body or a decision-influencing role (CEO, CFO) or members of their family/former employers receive money from the body. He does not except consultants and those running their own business, but does except the condition where one is "a 100% employee" whose loyalty is with their employer. The example he provides is as follows:

max is on the board, his sister offers bookkeeping "at a favourable rate". the board does not ask somebody else because the sister is there of course. and it gives a bad reputation because you did not ask anybody else or announce it in public that you would need a bookkeeper. in my personal 8 years experience with chapters, chapter boards, and chapter executives, rule 2 is not enough. either you on the board, or sister gets money. not both.

I am recording this here to make sure that the suggestion is not lost, but, of course, Rupert may wish to modify it if my summary does not accurately reflect his idea. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 17:19, 8 March 2013 (UTC)Reply

Hello Meggie, yust for the record: I mentioned this kind of potential conflict just one thread above - not noticed? --Alupus (talk) 19:08, 8 March 2013 (UTC)Reply
Hello, Alupus. It's nice to know that you and Rupert agree on some of the kinds of conflict that may exist. In consideration of future development, your similar perspectives may be very helpful. Rupert did not choose to put his idea here himself, as you did, but rather communicated it via email, for which reason I am recording it here. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 21:37, 8 March 2013 (UTC)Reply
Thanks for your answer. Would it be acceptable for you, if i wrote further to this complex of problems in German? I'm sorry about this, but it would be much easier for me as not native speaker. --Alupus (talk) 22:33, 8 March 2013 (UTC)Reply

Board approval


I want to report that the WMF Board of Trustees approved these guidelines at their Milan meeting in April. I will post the final resolution and guidelines once the Board minutes are published, but, as I understand, there were no changes. I want to thank everyone for their helpful comments, many of which were incorporated in the final draft and greatly enhanced the original version. Another testament to the power of the community and the value of collaborative review and work. Thanks everyone for your time, thoughtfulness, and expertise! Geoffbrigham (talk) 18:34, 2 May 2013 (UTC)Reply



Is anyone actively using/following these guidelines, out of curiosity? --Nemo 11:29, 4 April 2014 (UTC)Reply

I know that the FDC follows guidelines about COI. We take potential and actual conflicts of interest for ourselves very seriously. We talk about it at each of our meetings and also have consulted with members of the legal team to be clear that we are managing it well. Sydney Poore/FloNight (talk) 14:44, 4 April 2014 (UTC)Reply
Sydney, until the last 24 hours, I thought the FDC was doing better than average at this. However, farming out a staff assessment of the WMF proposal to WMDE is a massive conflict of interest. WMDE is an organization that needs to persuade the FDC of its value in order to gain funds requested from the FDC; it is financially dependent on the FDC. Asking it to carry out tasks outside of its normal activities on behalf of the FDC is a conflict of interest. It changes the relationship between the FDC and WMDE (the FDC has now asked for something of real value from the FDC, but since it has no budget to pay for this will it recompense WMDE?) To be clear, I do not think that WMDE is doing their partial review with an expectation that they'll be compensated in some way at their next FDC proposal. But I can't think of a better example of a potential or perceived conflict of interest. Risker (talk) 05:59, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Reply
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