Do you have any rights (i.e. admin, bureaucrat) or positions (i.e. dispute resolution, CheckUser, etc.) on any of those projects? If so, which ones? When did you get elected or promoted for each one?
I am a administrator on the English Wikipedia, and I also have checkuser and oversight rights there. I am a former member of the English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee. I also am currently a guest checkuser on the English Wiktionary.
Do you hold any universal rights (i.e. steward, etc.) for Wikimedia Projects? If so, since when?
When did you first start contributing to Wikimedia projects? Why and how did you initially join?
I started contributing (anonymously) to the English Wikipedia in October of 2004. I first started using Wikipedia as a resource more or less by accident because results from Wikipedia would come up occasionally on Google searches. A professor friend of mine mentioned Wikipedia to me in the spring or summer of 2004 and I started using it more often, mainly to read up on mathematics concepts that I find fascinating. Eventually I came across an article that was just so atrocious that I had no choice but to edit it. I don't remember what article it was, but the problem was almost certainly either a spelling error or an apostrophic catastrophe. What started out as typo correction slowly grew into a whole lot of other stuff, and before long (mid-March 2005) I was addicted.
Briefly describe your career ("real-life"). How do you think this will help you be a successful Board member?
I am currently a network administrator for a financial organization; in this role I do a lot of project management, as well as both evaluating proposals from others for business merit and preparing proposals for review by my superiors. These are all skills that are likely to be useful on the Board. I also have experience with non-profits large and small; my previous employer was a non-profit advocacy organization with a membership of several million, and several years ago I volunteered in the office of a small soup kitchen where I worked as an assistant to the Executive Director and got a lot of exposure to the details of running a nonprofit organization (including dealing with the Board). I've also run small businesses (with mixed success).
Of all the candidates right now, why do you stand out from the field? What makes you the best candidate?
I am not going to tell people that I'm the best candidate. I think they can make that judgment for themselves. I would rather say that I believe that I am a good candidate, without trying to claim that I'm better than any of the others. One of the advantages of multiple approval voting is that voters can choose to approve of more than one candidate. I encourage all voters to make their approval decisions on each candidate independently, rather than to choose to support only one candidate as the "single best" candidate.
A knowledge of several languages has been cited as a key requirement for a Board member. Do you speak any other languages other than English? Why do you think language is or isn't critical to the Board?
I have an extremely poor knowledge of German, bad enough that it would be impolite of me to inflict it on someone else. I do not believe that this is a critical consideration for the Board, however. The "lingua franca" for the Board is and will remain English for the indefinite future. There are too many languages represented in the vast diversity of Wikimedia for us to reasonably hope to find five, or even ten or fifteen people, who can represent all of them. Finally, the Foundation, through the Translation subcommittee of the Communications Committee, has managed to mass a sizable corps of translators who can help out in the event that some communication is received or needs to be made in a language nobody on the Board speaks. I see a belief in multiculturalism as being far more important than a belief in multilingualism; but one can be multicultural without being multilingual. The only reason I am not polylingual is that my parents saw no value to expose me to other languages as a child (a side effect of growing up in the American midwest, I fear). It is simply too hard for most people to learn additional languages as an adult. I suspect that putting too much weight on this factor will result in a less-than-ideal Board. I simply don't see a close nexus between being a polyglot and being a good Board member.
What do you expect to do while serving on the Board? What are your expectations?
I expect that I would be extremely busy dealing with the endless issues that parade through the Foundation on a regular basis. I have made good friends with Danny and a number of other people of importance in the Foundation and talk with them daily; I therefore have some small clue as to what goes on at the Board level. I'm sure that what I've seen is only a tiny bit of the full picture. However, I believe that the commitments are within my capability to make. I think it is important that the Board develop more structure within the Foundation to be able to better delegate work outward so that it doesn't have to do as much work itself, and I would imagine that this would consume much of the Board's attention for at least the next several months. I'm quite familiar with business process review concepts (business process management is becoming a major issue for IT people, since IT resources are invariably used to implement business process changes), and would probably play a significant role in any such review and restructuring.
What can you bring to the Board? What can you contribute to the Wikimedia Foundation?
I bring, more than anything, my willingness to make difficult decisions when they need to be made. I am known in the English Wikipedia for my boldness. This boldness has irritated people on many occasions, but I believe that in almost every case where I have acted boldly, my actions have been proven out to have been the right thing to do in the situation. There are times that we need to act boldly, and I am willing to do so in the right situation.
Describe the one issue that you think is most pressing and pertinent to the Foundation right now, and how you would approach the situation.
Organizational communication. We are bad at talking to one another internally. There are too many "silos" within the organization. This isn't really a turf war issue, because people don't really seem to be staking out turf; rather, there just isn't a culture of communication within the organization. Nobody is proactively working to ensure that everyone has the knowledge they need to make the decisions they need to make, and as a result things don't get done in a timely manner or at all. As a member of the internal communications subcommittee of the Communications Committee, I hope to be involved in developing some methodologies for this, but it's going to require commitment from people at all levels, from the Board on down.
What is your vision of the Board in the Foundation heirarchy? How do you feel about the current leadership?
There has been a lot of discussion on how to restructure the Foundation. I have seen several proposals and all of them have both positive and negatives. I haven't decided which approach is the best one yet. I have nothing but respect for the current Board; while I have disagreements with all of them on various issues all of them have struck me as reasonable people with whom I am sure I could continue to work collegially.
As a Board member, you will be serving as a representative of the communities. Do you think you can represent the community and understand its concerns? Why?
As a member of the English Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, I was a representative of the community, so I think I understand that. Representing other communities, especially one with which I have relatively little contact, is harder, since I know that different projects have different cultures and interests. I made a point at Wikimania 2006 to try to meet with people from other projects and find out about their cultures. The time I've spent recently as a guest checkuser at the English Wiktionary has been interesting; their culture is different in many ways that have occasionally surprised me.
What do you think of the Wikimedia Foundation and its mission in general? If you could change one thing about the running of the Foundation, what would you change?
I think the Foundation needs to adopt a more professional approach. The wild and loose way that it has run for the past few years is no longer appropriate for an organization that has an annual budget in the millions and a net worth that may very well exceed one billion dollars. The Board needs to, relatively quickly, recruit skilled people to take care of the very important organizational tasks that have been largely handled by well-meaning but basically underskilled volunteers, or by the Board itself. That worked when Wikimedia was relatively small; it cannot continue to do so now that it's not.
If elected, can and will you devote the appropriate time and other resources needed to serve on the Board?
I believe so, although it may be difficult at times. I think one of the consequences of professionalization will be to reduce the time commitment of Board members to an amount more in keeping with the usual expectations of the member of the board of a nonprofit organization, but it may take us a while to get there.
Have you ever attended Wikimania or any other meetup? What role do you think these meetups play?
I was able to attend Wikimania 2006 thanks to the generosity of a couple of anonymous contributors. I have also arranged one meetup in Chicago and am trying to arrange another one (hopefully for sometime in mid-September). I think these gatherings are extremely important and would like to see them happen on a more frequent basis. I would especially like to see more regional gatherings to complement the annual international gathering, so that people who are unable (due to expense or time) to travel to the Wikimania site can nonetheless get together and meet others.
Please list (and link) any other pages where you have gotten questions and comments pertaining to the Board elections; we are compiling all of the questions and would appreciate this.