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Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board Governance Committee/Board structure

Stakeholders (interest groups)Edit

I believe any discussion of Board structure must start with identifying the key stakeholders (interest groups), in order to, at a later stage, ensure that all these will be represented in the Board (+ other "experts" needed). I write below what could be seen as a start for a discussion for such a list:

Key stakeholders

Without these, the movement would/could not exist

  • Readers/donaters
  • Community members
Other stakeholders
  • Glam sector institutions and people. They hold key information of high value to be made free to humankind
  • Education institutions and people. They are key to dissiminate the knowledge in our project to the key users, people in need of knowledge
Note that I do not see chapters/affilaites as stakeholders, they for me just represent a way to organize resources
  • Organisations sharing the technical infrastructure our projects work in: Google, ? Facebook? ... (perhaps MediaWiki)

etc. Anders Wennersten (talk) 09:50, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

CommentsEdit

  • I agree with the analysis above, and add the comment/explanation that chapters and affiliates contain stakeholders, and represent alternative groupings of some stakeholders but are not, of themselves, any more key stakeholders than their members are. They are groupings of community members for convenience and local efficiency, and are representatives only of their membership. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 10:49, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

Making the case for federation, againEdit

My thinking these days now more closely aligns with Erik's (and Dariusz's, I believe). In reading Anders' comment, the need for reworking the current structure of Wikimedia organizations seems more apparent.

The current Wikimedia Foundation based in San Francisco, California should break up into sub-units, probably Wikimedia San Francisco and Wikimedia New York City and maybe a few other chapters. Wikimedia Foundation Inc. would indefinitely remain the holding company/organization of the trademarks, domains, servers, etc. and would keep its governance structure for now.

A separate body that includes better representation of various Wikimedia groups would be established and ultimately be responsible for redistributing donations to the various chapters, similar to the role that the Wikimedia Foundation (or Funds Dissemination Committee) currently plays, but in a more even-handed and fair way. The Wikimedia Foundation's budget, over time, would dramatically decrease.

We already have a federation of wikis. And we already have a federation of Wikimedia chapters. The argument that we want to avoid redundant overhead and administrative costs is valid—to a point. However, there is also real value in redundancy and decentralization. For example, employees who are currently international contractors with the Wikimedia Foundation could, over the next few years, transition to being paid by their local chapters instead.

The overarching idea here is to make the Wikimedia Foundation less of an outlier and make the Wikimedia movement stronger. --MZMcBride (talk) 13:02, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

I think there are definitely good and strong arguments in favor of such a solution. There are also, as always, some disadvantages, but the biggest obstacle is the major overhaul of resources, time and discussions, that we'd need to get there (which we could e.g. direct to discussing avoiding the strategic threats in 5-10 years). Nevertheless, our movement governance is definitely something that could use a solid debate and improvements, and we can't delay a discussion it forever. Pundit (talk) 13:23, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the ping, MZMcBride. My take is on the record and hasn't changed. I think these are long range strategic questions and the WMF governance committee is the wrong venue for a detailed evaluation of any model, but purely from a governance perspective, I would only suggest that the committee elevate the importance of the question of WMF's place among movement organizations (hub vs. peer) and its relative size, as one thing to be considered in long term strategic planning, since a smaller, more peer-like WMF may mitigate future governance failures.--Eloquence (talk)
Perhaps "...place among free knowledge organizations..." as the foundation is sufficiently well-established to consider this now. SJ talk  17:54, 27 July 2016 (UTC)
Those are some large changes. I don't think the current board, given its recent tumultuous history, would be keen to take up something that.....big. Suggesting WMF itself should break up is something far more dramatic than you realise but assuming for a moment, Wikimedia Foundation Inc. would just replace WMF in your re-org? The only argument is how big the holding company should be - It could be argued WMF is already that holding company. WMF SF would do what exactly? After a lot of discussion and time, WM NY is still one of only 2 US chapters, and they reported net assets of $5,041 in FY2015. As much as you'd want a National level US coalition, there aren't enough chapters IMO. Replacing an organisation at the top, with a $50 million annual budget and 200+ staff is not as easy task.
A far more realistic route to take for the board would be to consider something that a lot of smart people have suggested over the years - downsizing. WMF's budget is bloated - it has been said many times by many people. There are no ambitious projects on the horizon like before and after the last few years of less-than-promising results, it would be ideal to direct resources towards the endowment for the short term and aim for a 50% target reduction from current levels. If done right, the change would barely be felt by most people. This is a good time to save up for later - no big plan or expenses ahead. The board can use this time to fill its empty position or those at executive level (aside from ED) at WMF which are still vacant. Theo10011 (talk) 21:15, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
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