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User:Denny/2017 BoT voting rationale

In the 2017 Wikimedia Board of Trustees elections, there are only 9 candidates, of which 3 will be elected as Board members. I have read the candidate presentations and the answers to the ten collated questions. I want to congratulate the election committee on collating the questions down to 10 - last time, there 39 questions for 21 candidates - the largest election by far. Reducing this to ten questions is a step in the right direction, notwithstanding that the results of the collation has been a question of debate. I have the advantage of knowing many of the current candidates personally, which will also inform this essay, that I try to keep short.

I wanted to write a full-fledged voter guide, but I ran into the issue of time - I don’t have enough time to do so. So I will just write down my quick assessment of the candidates, and maybe it is helpful for one person or the other.

To make it short:

  • Chris Keating: he has a lot of experience with the UK chapter, which had quite a bit of history and trouble where he seemed to have played a positive role. His essay on measuring impact is worth a read, and certainly worth consideration.
  • Milos Rancic. I first thought he would make a perfect candidate, until I started reading his answers. I get the feeling that Milos doesn’t really want to be a Trustee, but rather get a strong mandate to start reworking the way the movement as a whole works. I think that this is an extremely worthwhile cause, and Milos would have my support to do that - but his answers aim more for the whole movement than for the Foundation, and I think that is where Milos will have more impact. I will still vote for him. I like his strong positive vision.
  • Dariusz Jemelniak. He has proven on the Board that he can do the job. He - and other Trustees, me included - did mistakes, but with Dariusz I am confident he learned from them. He has my voice.
  • James Heilman. James is an extremely active Wikimedian working on many projects. We worked and made mistakes together on the Board previously. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen an indication that he has learned from the mistakes we did. Ask him, and all he will tell is that he got kicked out because he wanted more transparency than the other Board members. That’s nonsense. Why would we Board kick anyone out for that? I said it before, I’ll say it again: he was kicked out because he did not share his documents during fact finding with legal counsel and the other Board members, etc.. Unless he shows that he learned from that event, I can only recommend not to vote for him.
  • Abbad Diraneyya. I absolutely adore his dedication and contribution to our movement. And I am sure that his voice would be an interesting addition (his answer to Question 6 is particularly enlightening). Unfortunately, his answer to Question 2 disqualifies him in my view (“a board’s member mission should be focused, according to my conception, on serving the community’s vision and expectations”) as it demonstrates a lack of understanding of what a Trustee’s responsibilities are. Similarly in Question 8 his answer is basically “It is difficult”. Sure, but that will be your core responsibility, so better have some answers next time.
  • María Sefidari. Seriously: Read her answers. No other candidate is any close to the quality of her answers. Compared to *any* of the other answers, she is a different level of competence. She gives concrete examples that illustrate our common values, not just generic and political sounding generic text. I'll vote for her, and I regret to only have one vote.
  • Peter Gallert. The answers are riddled with conspiracy theories and antagonistic sentiments towards the Foundation. I expect him to reach a certain appeal among a group of voters who have a similarly conspiracy minded view of the Foundation, but I sure hope that this does not translate into a seat. I like parts of his answers to Question 8 a lot, but unfortunately it is again laced with conspiratorial and confrontational phrasings.
  • Yuri Astrakhan. I disagree with a number of his answers. As a former WMF-staffer, he should have a better understanding of the role of a Trustee than many. He is a fellow engineer, and technical expertise on the Board won’t hurt. Still, I am on the fence about it.
  • Abel Lifaefi Mbula. He demonstrates a great dedication to our shared goals, but demonstrates a lack in understanding the differences between the different parts of our Movement. In Question 2 he states flatly that the Foundation and the Community are one. Which would make the Board the overseeing body of the Community? I strongly disagree with that view. The answers to Question 8 are unfortunately only truisms, but we gain no insight in why we should him let do this job.

Unfortunately, the voting mechanism had not been changed (I checked, and it seems I didn’t complain about it last time, so now it is a bit late for me to complain about it, sorry). This again means that diversity won’t be a big factor - I expect all three elected candidates to be relatively uniform as they get elected by the same group due to the voting mechanism. Given the voting mechanism there is no way to have three elected candidates each which their own group of support.

I find it unfortunate that the election - like a number of other elections in the last few months - will probably be a vent for frustrations and not a means to ensure that the Foundation will walk a path of continuous improvement. So, given the way Brexit, the US elections, and the Turkish referendum went, my current confidence in democratic processes is low, and that candidates I would rather not see on the Board will win this election.