Talk:Wikimedia Foundation elections/2022/Community Voting/Questions for Candidates

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"Please propose your questions below by 25 July 2022 and endorse the questions you would like to see included by 26 July 2022." Is this actually the timeline we are following? Six days does not seem like a very long time to solicit questions. Also, putting aside the fact that there's no obvious place on the page to endorse questions, do we really expect everyone to endorse questions during a one-day period? Emufarmers (talk) 22:18, 22 July 2022 (UTC)

A few endorsements were added two days past the deadline, on July 28; I've crossed them out and marked them as late votes. [1] --Andreas JN466 17:32, 29 July 2022 (UTC)
Hi there, Emufarmers! Thanks for your comment. Community members were able to endorse questions all through the process. July 26 was to allow for space to endorse questions that were suggested on July 25. Sorry if that was not clear. Best, JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 15:35, 1 August 2022 (UTC)
An election process needs to include a meaningful period after all candidates have been proposed, or else voters won't have a full chance to evaluate those that were posted near the end. By the same token, this whole election would have been a lot simpler if the voting had started on April 18 and ended on May 17, but that doesn't mean it would have been a good idea.
Ultimately, though, it appears that most of the dozen people who interacted with this process were watching until the end, so the harm from that aspect was probably less than the harm from having a needlessly short period to begin with; this page could have been open for submissions and endorsements at any point going back to April. Emufarmers (talk) 20:13, 1 August 2022 (UTC)
  • Can I sign up to get an email when the next question period starts? I got two emails saying it was time to vote, but by then the question period had long expired.Anythingyouwant (talk) 03:14, 3 September 2022 (UTC)

Are the candidates willing to answer questions not selected for video in writing?Edit

Is there a process to ask them to do so other than posting to their talk pages? Almost all of the questions seem really good so far, and don't seem anywhere near an insurmountable effort to answer in writing. The few which may nominally require research can be more easily answered in relative instead of absolute terms, so I don't feel like the candidates will be overwhelmed by them. New4Q (talk) 02:41, 23 July 2022 (UTC)

@New4Q: yes, I'm happy to answer all the remaining questions. Legoktm (talk) 17:21, 26 July 2022 (UTC)
To expand on why I think this is important. Affiliates were given a full week to propose questions, with 15 getting answered. On the flip side, community members were only given 5 days to propose questions, with only 6 getting answered. If the process is going to hamper the ability for community members to get their questions answered, the least I can do is answer the remaining questions that people took the time to ask. Legoktm (talk) 16:55, 27 July 2022 (UTC)
@New4Q: I'm borderline on this. While I'm personally always happy to answer questions, we have an established procedure for the election that sets out the process, and it isn't a fair election process if some candidates have more time than others to engage with the election process. I'm also worried that you're asking a lot of pointed questions here that aren't getting wider support, so would it actually help the election process if they were answered? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 22:51, 26 July 2022 (UTC)
@Mike Peel I believe that limiting the pool of questions because some candidates have limited time isn't great, because how much time each candidate is willing to allocate to the process is one of the factors the electorate should be able to evaluate candidates on. Letting the WMF and Election Commission decide how many questions a trustee-candidate answers is showing those bodies too much deference - it should be up to the candidate to decide which questions they would like to answer. TomDotGov (talk) 04:26, 27 July 2022 (UTC)
@TomDotGov, New4Q, and Emufarmers: Sorry for the odd reply placement, but I couldn't figure out a better place to answer this given that others subsequently replied - feel free to move it! I'm mostly on the side of answering more questions - and last year I did answer all of them (taking ~2.5 hours). However, TBH, I've learned from that - I put a lot of time in last year, and it was mostly wasted since I wasn't elected. ;-) It isn't really fair to have a high demand of candidates' time during the election process itself, since there are many other things that candidates are working on - which they would have to cut back on to make the time to be on the Board. It's also not clear if that time is actually well spent on the election process - do people read many answers before voting? Plus, a lot of them are repetitive, with answers already in candidate statements - I'd prefer a much more targeted approach of individual questions to candidates where possible (and my talk page is always open if anyone has specific questions they want to ask me). If elected, I would also be very active with answering Board-related questions from the community - since I'd be in a better position to answer/try to solve them then! Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 19:06, 5 August 2022 (UTC)
@Mike Peel: I appreciate your willingness to answer questions. (Given that there are 1/3 as many questions this time as last year, I'm glad my 1-hour time estimate is right on the mark for you.) I also appreciate your commitment to remain engaged once the election is done. But it doesn't take a great cynic to realize that any such commitment is an empty promise—the only clue the electorate has as to whether a candidate will answer questions once there is no pressure on them to do so is whether they answer questions during the period when there's a little pressure on them to do so.
I find written questions posed to all candidates to be a helpful tool for thinking about who I want to vote for (and I think they're a good way to push the Overton window even if you lose). But maybe it's just me; as I said, if most voters don't care about the questions, then candidates won't lose anything if they choose not to answer them. All anyone has asked is that they consider it and that they have that choice.
In any event, I appreciate the fact that you answered the questions posed to you on the Signpost page, even though the elections committee's cryptic public statement suggests candidates are forbidden from doing so. Since you don't seem to have been disqualified yet, I can only assume they didn't mean what they said, once again. Emufarmers (talk) 21:46, 10 August 2022 (UTC)
@Emufarmers: "any such commitment is an empty promise" - that's definitely cynical! You're welcome to have a look through my user talk pages on various wikis to see that isn't the case. I'm not going to participate here on principle (because there's no consensus between the candidates to do so, and the election committee doesn't want us to do so either). However, my user talk page is always open. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 08:37, 11 August 2022 (UTC)
I understand some of my questions seem pointed, and I would find it difficult to find fault with anyone who considers themself a prospective grant recipient who abstains from any or all of the remainder. On the other hand, I can see that pointed questions often feel that way when they are designed to correct deficiencies such as interlocking cadre shells around an organization, which is my intent. I hope if and when I ever become worthy enough to be asked pointed questions, that I am able to do so with grace and wisdom, even if my answer is "I'm not sure" or similar, which I almost always assume as a default answer to most questions. New4Q (talk) 04:35, 27 July 2022 (UTC)
I would certainly like a reply to both of my questions, even though it appears only one of them will be posed to the candidates for video answers. With only six questions to be selected and a one-day voting period for questions, the process used here obviously will not be a very precise filter—I understand there was a rush to complete this process so the candidates can get their videos done in time, but that is no reason to deprive the community of the many remaining good questions.
It is fine to take steps to ensure that unreasonable demands are not placed on the candidates, but being on the board entails 150 hours of work per year, so I do not see how it is unfair to ask candidates to spend an hour reviewing questions from the community. This is doubly so since there have only been 19 questions posed here, and almost everyone who asked them was gracious enough to make them very concise.
Nor is anyone suggesting that candidates should be required to, or even should, answer every question. Ordinarily we place some amount of trust in the wisdom of the candidates and the voters by allowing them to decide which questions they think are important. Candidates are free to ignore or offer a perfunctory answer to questions they think are unhelpful. If they have judged correctly, no voter will hold it against them. If they have judged poorly, they will have provided valuable information for voters to make their decision. And if they answer every question, no matter how bad, with a wall of text, voters will know they lack discernment. Emufarmers (talk) 18:24, 27 July 2022 (UTC)
@Emufarmers: as a current Trustee and Vice Chair of the Board, I can tell you this number is far from accurate. Many of us on the Board invest much more time an average of 3 hours per week. It depends on the specific roles one has as a Trustee, but to me it can run between 10-30 hours per week, depending on the week and period in time (I had worse weeks, but those are the exception, not the rule). Mosly, we are working to make sure it becomes more reasonable, but as of now, 10 hour per week are good weeks for me... When you add to it work, family, studies, health and other volunteering commitments, it's a lot. Our BoT is known to be one of the most hard-working Boards. For most non-profits, NGO, and certainly for Tech companies, it is much smaller time investment, and usually Boards in our scale would be paid to do that type of wok (again, for much less time investment). We are volunteers. Your assumption (that it'll take only an hour to review the questions) is simply incorrect. Because it is never just 'reviewing'. You have to think. And answer. And at times add written explanations. So.. not an hour. Respectfully, Shani Evenstein. 12:11, 29 July 2022 (UTC)
Okay, I got 150 hours from the call for candidates for this year's election, so if that's inaccurate, it should probably be updated. Respecting candidates' time means giving them an accurate assessment of what kind of commitment they're making.
In any event, that actually reinforces my point. Given that the time commitment for the board is apparently far larger than advertised, the comparative burden of candidates answering questions is far smaller. Emufarmers (talk) 15:34, 29 July 2022 (UTC)
This approach ignores the fact that we are doing it *in parallel* to other commitments. For those not on the board, they'll have to resign other current volunteering commitment. To me, I am still performing my duties as a current trustees, Vice Chair, Committee Chair, member of 3 other committees and Liaison to AffCom and MCDC. So I do have a lot on my plate. In short, there is incorrect assumption that the "campaign period" is similar to time investment after being elected. Shani Evenstein. 14:41, 11 August 2022 (UTC)
@New4Q, Thanks for your engagement with the election process and for caring enough to be asking these questions. I appreciate that. Like Mike, I usually tend to answer everything I can and have consistently been available to the community throughout my current role as a Trustee, but I have 2 main concerns with your request:
  • There is a process, however imperfect, designed by the Election Committee that I'd like to respect - Our volunteers, Trustees and staff have invested a lot of time, effort and thought into designing it, with various considerations, including making sure it is as inclusive and as equitable as possible. For instance, most if not all, formal statements are being translated into various languages, so they can inform decisions not only of the English Speaking community, but a wider range of communities in our movement. In addition, considerations included thinking about the amount of material produced, making sure it is not too much, as volunteers need to actually read it, as well as diversifying the formats offered, so materials might appeal to a wider range of volunteers in our movement. There are clear guidelines for participation from the Election Committee, and those guide us "not" to answer all questions. So in essence, you are asking us to move away from formal rules the Election Committee laid, which is problematic, from where I stand.
  • Your request requires a significant time commitment from candidates under a very strict timeline, during which we are supposed to be focusing on formal requests from the Election Committee - there is already a lot of strain on candidates. Most of us would like the process to be as balanced, equitable, inclusive and fair as it can be, and that means not giving people who may have more time / resources, an advantage over others. Assuming that it's "only an hour of going through questions" is simply incorrect, especially not during a time in which we are supposed to be focusing on producing videos, and align ourselves with statements coming from the community. Every single request takes time - sometimes hours, at times days. The videos, for instance, "only" six questions, right? Do you know how long it will take for non-English native speakers, to phrase their answers in writing, to practice and make sure that each answer does not exceed 3 minutes, record a few takes, and then edit out mistakes, till you get a version that is good enough to be released for the community..? I do not know about others, but I'm assuming it will take me a nice chunk of hours, for about 3 days, to produce this. Your request, which I have no doubt was done with the best of intentions and in good faith, does not fully considers that most candidates cannot afford to stop everything they do to run. We are all dealing other life commitments, whether it is work, studies, family, health issues (of us and loved ones) and / or existing volunteering commitments (most of us currently have other roles they are committed to within and outside the movement).
So the strain on candidates is a real thing and not to be taken lightly. People will simply not run if the process doesn't make sense. I'd like to stress -- I am not complaining. This is the process that was designed. That is what it takes to run (at least currently) and I have taken measures to have enough time to put into participating to the best of my ability, with all my other commitments considered, knowing what is expected. Assuming we do not have a life and can simply work on this without limit is unreasonable.
One last thing to consider -- beside the statements, and the videos and the compass questions, some communities have invited us to participate in online live sessions (like the one Wiki Africa is organizing on August 5th). So candidates are already saying "yes" to additional requests from the community, with two constraints: 1 - that all 6 candidates are invited, and 2 - there's a time-limit to the engagement. I can only suggest that if, after the videos and compass questions, you still feel there are topics you'd like to get answers on, please join one of these calls and ask away. Or post it on candidates' candidacy pages, and they can choose what to answer and what not. I hope you'll at least consider it, and understand why I can't say a blind "yes" to any request suggested. Sincerely, Shani Evenstein. 11:59, 29 July 2022 (UTC)
@Esh77 You're arguing that the answers to six questions, selected by an unaccountable elections committee, are enough to decide who will represent the community on a board that will control a quarter-billion dollar budget over a two year term. That's ridiculous, and I'm glad that we can use the wiki technology to organize better ways of determining candidate's positions. TomDotGov (talk) 15:25, 29 July 2022 (UTC)
@TomDotGov, first, not arguing at all. And sorry that you find what I wrote ridiculous, but I was asked my perspective and shared it. I agree that there are things to improve in the way that the election run, and I know the board is working on it, but other than that -- I don't know much more than you. As a trustee running, I have been recused from anything to do with the election. I have to respect the process. If the community is so unpleased with the Election Committee, it should take it up to the Committee and the BoT that supervises it, rather than assume that candidates are in a good position to change that. I am also saying the there is already quite a lot of pressure on candidates, that it seems not everyone is aware of, which is why I elaborated on that a bit, to give more details.
And no. I do not think that people should decide according to these 6 questions alone. But I do think that the combination of the statements, our Wiki-involvement history, the videos, the compass questions, and our live engagements, should give people enough details to make an informed decision regarding our values, what drives us and our capabilities. And if there are other missing pieces, let's see what they are. But simply assuming that because we run we have unlimited time & resources? Unreasonable from where I stand. Shani Evenstein. 17:13, 29 July 2022 (UTC)
@Esh77I'd rather work with the community to directly improve this community process, than the Board or bodies accountable to it. The BoT elections are one of the few ways the community has to hold the Foundation directly accountable, and we owe it to the movement to make each instance of the process as effective as possible. I don't understand why minimizing pressure on candidates should be a more important concern than ensuring candidates can remain responsive to community concerns when under moderate amounts of pressure. I don't believe you have unlimited time and resources, but I do believe that candidates should be allowed to chose to decide how they want to prioritize those resources - something that the community can take into account when making an informed decision. TomDotGov (talk) 17:40, 29 July 2022 (UTC)
I have read the candidate guidelines, and, putting aside the illegitimacy of making up new rules in the middle of an election, they do not address whether candidates should answer additional questions—it is not a requirement, it is not an expectation, and it is not prohibited, which means it is up to candidates to decide for themselves.
I agree that having to make videos imposes particular burdens on non-native English speakers. In fact, during the conversation with the trustees last month, I raised concerns about the equity of requiring videos. I was told that most such objections come from white males, which I suppose appeared true, but maybe wasn't.
Fortunately, answering questions in text mitigates those problems to a substantial degree. Also, unlike with the videos, there is no demand that questions be answered at any particular time. The only potential constraint is the guidelines' prohibition on "Publish[ing] individual campaign materials regarding their candidacy during the community voting period." The elections committee has ignored complaints from the community about that provision, but I assume they would be more receptive if the candidates came together to ask for it to be changed. Emufarmers (talk) 16:20, 29 July 2022 (UTC)
@Esh77 [Shani] - your summary of the potential time takes (and those of translators, not merely candidates is fair). But I would like to focus on the top part of the statement There is a process, however imperfect, designed by the Election Committee that I'd like to respect - Our volunteers, Trustees and staff have invested a lot of time, effort and thought into designing it, with various considerations, including making sure it is as inclusive and as equitable as possible.. If there's been a great deal of time spent in creating this methodology, I don't see how it could have only been announced during the actual election and without any actual say by every volunteer who isn't an ElectCom member.
Election rules are the "pitch" of the game - without much difficulty and with full good faith, they can lead to a different electoral outcome. According the announcement of these rules, they are primarily in response to certain concerns that arose from the 2021 election. But that would have given 9 months to do so, which would have been plenty of time for these queries to be dealt with before the election.
Unlike, say, an article AfD or a regular policy change, where "go with it and fix afterwards" could be legitimate, here the two elected Trustees will hold that position for the next couple of years wielding significant power with electoral changes not being retroactive. It is that which is making the editors here so unhappy with not being able to get the answers they demand, especially with relation to the time and scope of questions affiliates were able to ask.
You note that while 6 video questions/answers wouldn't be enough, alongside statements and electoral compass answers it should be. But to give an example, what if the Board recognition of a WMF union is the critical issue for me in this election (a topic that missed election compass status by a single endorsement) - the rules here discourage or prevent any candidate from giving their answer if asked on-wiki. Nosebagbear (talk) 13:52, 5 August 2022 (UTC)
@Nosebagbear, thanks for raising this. Answering, though I believe I have already shared my opinion about most of it above --
  • Re process -- I already agreed there are things to improve in the process. I also agree that it should be up to the Election Committee & BoT to fix it, rather than assuming these bodies could be bypassed by the candidates themselves. We are part of the process and therefore have to adhere to its rules. Assuming something else puts candidate in an awkward (and unfair) position.
  • Re the second part of what you said, what if there's a critical issue to someone, and that issue was not chosen -- there is a hidden assumption here that I do not agree with and have already commented on (as did 4 other candidates jointly with me): that candidates must invest an unlimited amount of time, answering every single question raised by anyone in the community. We are part of a global movement, huge and complex, that serves many. And we are volunteers. Our time needs to be respected as well. We have other things happening in our lives that we also need to attend to and we cannot be expected to invest unlimited resources to answer every single question. Me answering this now, means I am not investing time in working on the videos I need to produce, on questions that were chosen by more people. It is just not humanly possible to do it all at the same time, nor should it be expected. This is coming from someone with a record of doing many things at the same time, taking on more and more upon herself, but who has also matured and learned that to be effective, there comes a time when one must say 'no' to some things. For this election process to be equitable and fair, this means the election process itself has to be designed to help pick, prioritize and limit questions. This assumes we will not be able to answer everything, nor please everyone. That's just the reality. So assuming candidates must answer everything? Sorry, no. Not equitable. Not fair. Not sustainable. And will limit the number and diversity of the people willing to go through this process in the future.
  • Finally. I would like to think that no decision of who to vote to is based on a single answer, on whatever topic. It should be the accumulated impression of a candidate, from the statements, answers in videos, compass questions, overall activity and additional online sessions with candidates (like the one we just had via Wiki in Africa), that people form an opinion and make a decisions by. The specific topic you mentioned was raised by the audience in the WikiAfrica session today, and was answered by some. If you happen to be conflicted between two candidates on a specific topic, you can always post on their candidacy talk page to see where they stand. They will decide if to answer or not. And whatever they decide, I guarantee, it will not be just this answer (or lack of it) that will determine your decision of who to vote. You are voting to people. Not answers. Shani Evenstein. 19:26, 5 August 2022 (UTC)
@Esh77: I have yet to see anyone say that "candidates must answer everything." What has been asked is for candidates to consider answering additional questions at whatever time might be convenient for them. Saying you're not going to answer questions is fine. What's not fine is saying that nobody else should answer questions, that it's inequitable for them to do so, that it's against the rules for them to do so, and that it's unfair to even ask them to do so.
I also think it's tremendously disrespectful of volunteers' time (and raises significant equity concerns) to channel them onto video platforms for Q&A, rather than text. Should people really be told to comb through a 90-minute video for the chance that a question they care about might be answered? (But since I did watch it: @Nosebagbear: here is the timestamp for the union question.) Emufarmers (talk) 22:30, 10 August 2022 (UTC)
@Emufarmers, respectfully (and there's lots of respect to everything you do around here), your answer here is taking some words out of context, rather than trying to understand what we are saying (at least the 5 of us, candidates). A few points to consider:
  • Of course you did not see anyone saying "candidates must answer everything". No one will say that. They will just add different questions, on various pages, and assume we need to answer them, and if we do not, say we are not engaging with the community. It is the underlying assumption we were addressing. The EC and candidates have been trying to be consistent about how we approach engagement with the community in a fair way. 5 of the 6 candidates have found it very tricky, at times impossible, to be present to the amount required to answer everything, everywhere, so we can keep things balanced and fair; not to mention a clear guidance from the EC not to do so.
  • You have also not seen me say anywhere that I am not answering questions from the community. I am here, aren't I. And I have a consistent track record of showing up, answering and actually creating mechanisms for bi-directional dialogue. What you did hear me say is that we are trying to focus our participation in the avenues created by the EC, respecting the process, and also acknowledging we are limited in our time. My talk page, and my candidacy page, remain open for everyone, but like Mike rightly mentioned above, most candidates have decided to do what we can to keep it fair, and limit our participation to what the process as designed by the EC, however flawed it may be.
  • As for directing people to the videos -- you are making it sound as if there are no other resources, and how can we possibly direct people to a non-written resource. There are multiple written materials we have produced, and that have been translated to other languages, so it is not directed only to the English speaking portion of our community. There is also a desire to diversify the types of materials we produce, hence the Videos all 6 candidates recorded and the Compass questions, which will be released shortly for the community as supplementary material, with questions coming from the community and were highly prioritized. That way different types of volunteers can use different methodologies to evaluate candidates. \I do believe that if there are *additional* engagements all 6 candidates participated in, like the WikiAfrica session, then that's an additional, legit resource the community can use, should it chooses to do so, especially for questions that were not chosen by the majority. Just another outlet to reach out to candidates. One can choose to use it, or not, but it's definitely not a must. As I noted before, I believe the materials we are producing through the formal election process, as designed by the BoT and the EC, as well as our on-wiki history, is enough to evaluate us. If there are additional questions, each can choose if to answer or not. But again, assuming that we must answer everything, otherwise we are not engaging with the community, is untrue and unfair. We do want people to invest the same amount of energy engaging (plus minus!), and cannot do that if some candidates have unlimited time to invest answering an unlimited amount of questions. With appreciation, Shani Evenstein. 15:17, 11 August 2022 (UTC)
@Esh77 At least for me, I'd like candidates that have the judgement to decide how much time they want to allocate to campaigning, how they allocate that time, and what questions they'd like to answer. Delegating that judgement to the EC makes a candidate seem less qualified for the board - there's a reason why in last year's election, answering most or all of the community questions was highly correlated with being elected to the board. TomDotGov (talk) 17:24, 11 August 2022 (UTC)
@TomDotGov, I get that. And I appreciate that perspective. I still see it differently.Watching last year's campaign, it was far from ideal considering the toll on candidates, which is why the EC opted for another process this year. To some, it does not seem to matter, and they still want to see the same level of engagement, despite what candidates (last time and this time) are saying. I honestly find it odd that for some people the well-being of candidates does not seem to matter, and that there seems to be a perception that as volunteers we have unlimited time. We don't.
As for the correlation you drew between amount of time invested in answering questions during campaign and Board performance, I respectfully see it very differently. (Without naming names, there have been past candidates who have invested a lot in campaigning and didn't do a lot as Trustees, and there were others who didn't invest us much in campaigning, but ended up being hard-working, dedicated Trustees. In this round, I have had the privilege of already serving the movement for one term. You have seen me engage multiple times. Do you honestly believe that the amount of answers I give outside the process the EC designed is of any indication of my performance as a Trustee..? To me, it is simply a matter of limited resources, mainly time and energy. So we would simply agree to disagree that time allocated during campaigning has direct correlation to high performance on the Board.
I believe my point has been clearly made, even if some do not agree with it. That's ok. We are each entitled to our opinions. I will keep saying it's a matter of equity, the well-being of candidates and respecting a process; others will keep saying they want more. I suggest at this point to leave it at that, and move to concentrate things we can all do for the movement. There's so much to be done. Shani Evenstein. 18:23, 11 August 2022 (UTC)

I have created Wikimedia Foundation elections/2022/Community Voting/Questions for Candidates/Sorted with an invitation for candidates' written answers there. I plan to do something similar for all the proposed Election Compass statements, including any removed from the endorsement list to which someone objected, but I will wait until after August 4 so we know how to sort them. New4Q (talk) 11:08, 28 July 2022 (UTC)

Including the compass statements might be too much, as those statements are meant for Agree/Disagree answers. I'd suggest that we simply have the current set of questions, and people can ask new questions as required - it doesn't make sense to close questions before a candidate has answered even one. TomDotGov (talk) 19:38, 28 July 2022 (UTC)

My great colleagues Shani and Mike wrote almost everything to be written, so just let me add 2 cents so you know we all pay attention and weight sometimes uneasy decisions. Firstly, there is a reasonable expectation that the Board Members will have time for this role; unfortunately it does not mean that the candidates are not having any duties before the elections and they can spend all the time on campaign. Quite the contrary, candidates tend to be very active community members, often wearing more than one hat, and their time for campaign is limited.

Is it wrong or unexpected? I darethink we, as the community, actually should expect experienced, active and knowledgable candidates, and we should avoid frightening them with an overly arduous process. Candidates' activity is also an opportunity to take a closer look not only at our thoughts and opinions, but also at our actual experience and skillset.

Thus, this stance, even though e.g. the question on the best support for editors touches some very important topics like community health, responsibility and equity. I think all candidates can trade stories here, and I can personally tell at lengths why the Movement should fund much more private help in cases of litigation, harassment etc., and why experiments with new forms of support are crucial. BTW, my chapter just got a grant from the WMF for Peer support for administrators pilot project, so fortunately the WMF is trying new things even now. :) aegis maelstrom δ 23:09, 22 August 2022 (UTC)

ElectCom Signpost statementEdit

From the Elections Committee

Elections Committee members are concerned about this approach to community questions. The Elections Committee supports the candidates in answering community questions organized as a part of the election process. The election process is planned to promote equity in participation from the perspective of candidates and community members. Some candidates may have more free time than others and some candidates may be unfairly disadvantaged because of their limited free time to be able to address an increasing number of community questions.

The Elections Committee would prefer for the Signpost to include the candidate statements and links to the candidates’ answers to the questions asked by affiliate organization representatives in June 2022, and not encourage additional questions from the community due to the reasons listed above.

While the Elections Committee appreciates the wishes to engage with the candidates, equity is a key factor in our election process design and why we limit the number of questions the candidates are expected to answer. Accordingly, we are asking the candidates to remain within the outlined process. Signed, Carlojoseph14 (talk) on behalf of The Elections Committee

By not linking to the relevant Signpost article, this message lacks necessary context. For community members and candidates that have missed this, the Signpost has provided Op-Ed space to each of the candidates to answer questions posed by the community, including questions posted to only some of the candidates.
I personally think that the election committee is overstepping by trying to regulate campaigning, which doesn't appear to be in its remit. I hope the committee can commit to fairly conducting the voting procedure after the campaigning is done. TomDotGov (talk) 15:02, 2 August 2022 (UTC)
Carlojoseph14: At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the Signpost was published on August 1. Your post was on August 2. Once again, you are too late.
As stated above, the rules that you made up in the middle of the election do not address this. You are just making up more rules now.
It is both unprecedented and outrageous that the elections committee is now actively taking steps to limit community engagement in our elections.
Let me not mince words: The "equity" you are promoting is not equity in any normal sense, and it is not benign. Preventing campaigning helps some candidates and hurts others. It helps incumbents and those with more name recognition, and it hurts those with less name recognition (who, ironically, are likely to be the candidates that actual attempts to promote equity should be helping). It is equity in the sense that the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
Although there is nothing wrong with setting some far outer limits on campaign activities, ensuring that candidates have to do as little as possible to run for the board should not be your top priority. Being on the board is a serious committment—in fact, according to Shani, it is far more demanding than advertised. Having enough time to campaign effectively (though still a tiny fraction of what actually being on the board entails) is a bona fide qualification, unlike, say, whether candidates are good at making videos of themselves talking.
More generally, different candidates are likely to be comfortable in different settings. Live video Q&A (which you eliminated after the election started, but which you apparently have no problem with candidates doing on their own, despite what you wrote here) would probably be a walk in the park for some people, and a nerve-wracking experience for others. Some people will find making scripted videos easy; others will not. Answering questions in writing, either live, which you have forbidden, or asynchronously, would be my preference if I were a candidate, but I know that is not true for everyone. Likewise, individual voters will have their own preferences about how they would like to hear from the candidates.
The point is not that any of these methods of engagement is better or worse than the others (although making scripted videos probably resembles a trustee's actual duties the least), but that encouraging diversity requires engaging the diverse skill sets and preferences of candidates and voters. It is one thing for the election to be designed to highlight some forms of engagement and not others. It is another thing for you to now attempt to bar engagement on those alternative pathways.
Finally, your post is couched in uncertain terms. If candidates choose to answer questions posed by the community through the Signpost, or those posed here on Meta, will they be disqualified or not? Emufarmers (talk) 01:21, 5 August 2022 (UTC)
I really find this unacceptable. The official process for coming up with questions has been a confusing process that has had limited community participation mostly drawn from specific demographics. A free election requires candidates to be able to put forth whatever they believe in, debate it, and attempt to convince the electorate. At this point, I am starting to wonder if the equity we are trying to achieve is ensuring that all candidates have an equal chance regardless of how suitable a board member they would be. Bawolff (talk) 01:54, 5 August 2022 (UTC)
At which point, we might as well draw names out of a hat, and save the community time. TomDotGov (talk) 03:05, 5 August 2022 (UTC)
Hello Carlojoseph14 and the Elections Committee. I saw this statement after Mike Peel's comment on the Signpost page. I understand the equity goals here, but tight controls on election communications and candidate discussion processes are not what the Elections Committee historically has done, or other community election processes. The Elections Committee is here to facilitate the community election, not dictate how the community is to form our opinions about the candidates. Hosting specific questions pages are fine, helping us come to an informed decision with good statement question design is great, but attempting to limit where candidates can communicate with people, picking and choosing venues the candidates have your permission to enter, etc., is simply not. This is not how any community elections processes work, and this disregards the way the community historically handles both elections and accountability in favor of a highly-structured, curated process. How is it more equitable to try to prevent candidates from speaking in some venues and not others? If this truly is just about free time, how do you decide which venues candidates are encouraged or discouraged from speaking in, and how does that fit within your mandate? I am legitimately confused and concerned by the way the Elections Committee has been handling these processes.
Also, please remember to sign and datestamp your username at the end of posts with 4 tildes, and not to add text after it; it messes with multiple common scripts, gadgets, and attribution tools. Vermont 🐿️ (talk) 20:18, 5 August 2022 (UTC)
Hi everyone, I have read the comments. I understand that some of you disagree with the decisions we have made. The Elections Committee has been tasked with overseeing the Foundation election processes. One point from the 2019 Governance review is to increase the diversity of the Board of Trustees. The Elections Committee members are trying to be sensitive to the needs of a diverse range of candidates so we can support increasing the diversity on the Board. That means trying new approaches.
One of the comments mentions how the response to the Signpost came too late. Yes, we agree it did and wish we had more time to prepare a response before the publication. We received notice of the Op-Ed on July 25 and had to discuss the Op-Ed for a few days. Once we prepared a message to send to the Signpost, the message from the candidates came through. We again had to discuss and adjust so we thoroughly considered the points the candidates made in our response. The timeline for the Signpost Op-Ed was short and unfortunately not one we could meet without sacrificing thorough discussion. We will try to work more quickly in the future, but cannot meet deadlines without reasonable time to do so.
Let me restate the Elections Committee’s thoughts on this briefly so as not to take up too much space here. The Elections Committee encourages equity and balance in the election process. For example, if a candidate were able to take time off from work to campaign for the month before the election, that would have an inequitable effect on the election process because they could host any number of community events and answer many community questions. The Elections Committee wants to ensure that candidates all have an equal chance at getting their positions and opinions understood regardless of their abundant free time or privilege to access additional free time. On behalf of the Elections Committee: Carlojoseph14 (talk) 05:44, 11 August 2022 (UTC)
This response comes six days late from the Election Committee. Apparently they don't have enough "free time" to give timely responses, and this is the result. Is this mentality what we want for our Wikimedia Board of Trustees? Is this what best serves the Wikimedia community? --Rschen7754 06:10, 11 August 2022 (UTC)
Hi Carlojoseph14. I understand it is unreasonable to ask candidates to respond to everything, and there's a few relevant points to be made:
  • The idea that candidates should not be expected to have unlimited free time is not at question here. The difficulty is primarily the attempts to enforce an unexplained perspective of equity that selectively decides when and where candidates are allowed to speak to the community they hope to represent.
  • This level of control over the election process is very clearly not within your scope. Designating what is expected of candidates is fine, and creating a process that seeks to "be a source of information" is expected (note: "a source", not "the source"); we do not want to overburden them with time expectations. But this should not prevent candidates who engage in community advocacy from doing so, or from answering additional questions or writing additional paragraphs.
  • Let's talk about time expectations. These can be set equitably without limiting candidates to the specific time parameters. Candidates communicating more often than that expected by the Election Committee is not directly comparable to campaigning in the political sense. Bad candidates are bad candidates regardless of how many doors they knock on, or however many additional community questions they decide to answer. Look at RfAs, Steward elections, ArbComs, CheckUser voting, etc. The people with the most questions asked to them (and answered) are very often the people who don't make it, especially when these questions dig up a candidate's past controversies. Elections on Wikimedia projects often involve significant community questions and discussion, and attempts by facilitators to limit them are overwhelmingly considered not okay. This would be different if a candidate was unduly influencing voters, whether it be through canvassing or other malicious means. But that is not what is happening here. I understand that people will disagree with me on this, and/or argue that Board community elections should not be similar to other community elections. However, that is something we can talk about and come to a consensus on as a community. It is not something to retroactively impose in the middle of an election by a small committee.
  • Community members and groups have a right and responsibility to seek input from candidates in informing their decisionmaking. The Signpost did so equitably, providing every candidate the opportunity to write an op-ed, and evidently the option to republish their candidate statements if they did not have the time. And when published, they listed each statement/op-ed equally without elevating the one op-ed that was actually written. I do not understand why this was so strongly opposed, and I do not understand the implicit assertion that the Election Committee should be the sole source of information about candidates.
  • Your response also did not answer my primary question: how do you determine which venues are equitable and which venues to discourage candidates from participating in? You have mentioned equity and balance repeatedly as justifications for this level of control of process, and have not elaborated on what that means beyond time constraints or how you determine which venues are acceptable and which are not.
And the issue here really is...there is a difference between facilitating and influencing the election process. The Election Committee's actions appear to lean towards the latter, and I and others are concerned about this. Vermont 🐿️ (talk) 17:32, 11 August 2022 (UTC)
@Vermont: Just to push back on one point specifically: "The Signpost did so equitably" - this was definitely not the case. One candidate had an obvious advantage, having requested Signpost offer op-eds in the first place, thus having more time to prepare one. The rest of us had a short period to react, at a time when we were being asked to do a lot of other things. In the end only one op-ed was published. Odd that. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 06:42, 12 August 2022 (UTC)
Mike Peel: Other candidates' statements were republished with the same level of attention as the op-ed, just with a note of that on the top. Though, as one candidate requested it the others inherently had less time, every candidate had the opportunity to participate, and the republished statements were treated the same as the op-ed. I understand that the timing can be interpreted to be inequitable, else should candidates propose involvement in a community venue? Sure, they could go directly to ElectCom to see if they have permission to speak to that part of the community, but...well, as I mentioned, that level of control is not within ElectCom's scope and is not historically what has happened. Vermont 🐿️ (talk) 16:00, 12 August 2022 (UTC)
@Vermont: If it was going to happen, it should be planned well in advance (which is a recurring issue with both this election, and last year's...). The Signpost knows when it's going to be publishing issues, and it could have coordinated timing with ElectCom with regards other election activities - although with the caveat that Signpost is English-only, I'm not sure if there are equivalents in other languages? Or at least the initial discussion could have involved all candidates, rather than coming as a surprise for 5/6 when an email with a short deadline was sent around. Since that planning didn't happen, reusing existing materials - for everyone - would have been the best approach to ensure equity, which is what the group reply to Signpost requested. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 16:15, 12 August 2022 (UTC)
Agreed, it would have been far nicer if this was organized in advance, and yes it could have been coordinated better with candidates. However, there's a marked difference between candidates saying together that they do not like the way it was handled and making the request to reuse existing materials...and the Elections Committee writing multiple public statements on it. Which is the point of this: ElectCom's role is not to pick which venues the candidates are allowed to speak in. Vermont 🐿️ (talk) 16:36, 12 August 2022 (UTC)


Will the answers to the questions be posted any time soon? We're several days past the original intended time for the start of the election, and it doesn't look like the answers to the community questions have been posted. For all the worries about over-burdening the candidates with answering questions, it seems like we've gotten to the point where outside of the Signpost, no questions posed by members of the community that are not associated with the affiliates have been answered. TomDotGov (talk) 16:36, 20 August 2022 (UTC)

@TomDotGov: the video replies of the top 6 questions have been posted to Wikimedia Foundation elections/2022/Campaign Videos, and Wikimedia Foundation elections/2022/Community Voting/Questions for Candidates/Sorted is where I at least have answered the other non-top 6 questions (linked in the election infobox/sidebar). Legoktm (talk) 23:00, 20 August 2022 (UTC)
@LegoktmThanks. The answers weren't posted to the timeline at Wikimedia Foundation elections/2022, nor were they posted to wikimedia-l. I've taken care of the former. TomDotGov (talk) 23:59, 20 August 2022 (UTC)
@TomDotGov and Legoktm: Thanks for keeping an eye on this. I've posted the links on Wikimedia-l. Odd that the WMF didn't do this themselves – the videos were posted last Friday, after all. I've also added a note to the talk page for the Signpost Election Guide. Cheers, Andreas JN466 07:56, 21 August 2022 (UTC)
Return to "Wikimedia Foundation elections/2022/Community Voting/Questions for Candidates" page.