This is a collection of proposals for how we should choose Trustees to sit on the Wikimedia Board.

I find it easier to track a long list of ideas on a single page. Currently each proposal has its own wiki page and talk page. If you create one or see one, please transclude it here, and link the section heading to the page itself. This page is on a wiki; you're welcome to edit + style it as you see fit.

Regional seatsEdit

This idea has been suggested by Anass Sedrati during the Call for feedback about Community Board seats. If you want to suggest other ideas, please share them in the Call for feedback main Talk page.

To address the lack of diversity identified by the board, we need to identify gaps and address them separately.

This idea about regional seats proposes to allocate one or two community and affiliate seats for underrepresented regions (out of 8). A clear definition of these regions should be agreed. This suggestion derives from the idea about Quotas, but considers geography as one specific and valid factor to address a given gap. This suggestion doesn't endorse the idea of quotas with a broad and unclear scope.

These seats could be exclusively reserved for a broad region such as emerging Wikimedia communities or Africa/Asia, where more than half of humans live. This would ensure that at least one member would bring the perspectives of these regions. One point to discuss is whether these seats are voted by peers from the region, or by everyone. Another point to discuss is whether the seats shall be about Africa/Asia in particular, or emerging communities in general (including South America).

So far, it is mostly Asian and African community members that haven't been represented at the Board. The gender balance is rather respected and seems to do better in comparison. It can be a good solution to allocate at least one seat for Africa/Asia to guarantee their presence, inclusion, and empowerment.

The rest of the community and affiliate seats would remain open for all candidates, including those from emerging Wikimedia communities. Having regional seats would not mean that the other seats are only for community members outside of emerging Wikimedia communities.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

There is agreement that the Board should improve its regional diversity, but there is no agreement about how to achieve this goal. Opinions about regional quotas are mixed, and support is stronger in underrepresented regions. Many participants have mentioned that the regional diversity should be considered for the entire Board, not only the community seats. Some participants have suggested treating regional diversity as skill required in the Board, rather than a simple geographic quota.

The questions about implementation include how many seats would be allocated for regional diversity, how regions would be defined, who would be eligible (natives, diaspora, members of  local communities...) A general concern is how to avoid that trustees elected through regional quotas have as much credibility as the rest.


  • There is broad agreement that the Board has a problem of regional diversity but no agreement on how to address it.
  • Some participants in discussions in Africa and the Middle East believe quotas are the only way someone from their region would get on the Board.
    • One person said that there have been many candidates from Africa and none of them made it.


  • Many people argue that the definition of regions is complex, especially considering the limited amount of seats. Some contributors say that quotas for continents or emerging Wikimedia communities won’t solve the problem of understanding local needs, because these regions are huge and diverse, and no single person can represent them.
  • One person at a German LGBT+ conversation said that these seats might be taken by privileged persons from the region, and that candidates from privileged countries of the region will have more chances to win the seats.
  • A couple of volunteers from Asia and Latin America stressed the risk that trustees of regional seats have a bias towards their own country/group within their region, marginalizing different countries/groups and smaller communities.
  • A few people have said that the Global Council will be more capable of regional representation because it is expected to become a larger body, at least compared with the potential number of regional seats the Board could offer.

Other considerations

  • On average, people in different regions responded differently. One possible explanation is that opinions differ based on how much hope people have about candidates from their region being elected without quotas:
    • The proportion of participants convinced about the need for geographical quotas is very high in Africa and the Middle East.
    • In South Asia and the ESEAP region, there is more disparity of opinions.
    • Feedback from CEE and Latin America is less supportive in general, due to uncertainty about how representation can be established in large, diverse regions.
    • Feedback from Western Europe and North America is mixed, with some people opposing strongly and some in favor of quotas for emerging Wikimedia communities. Discussions in favor also deal with uncertainty of how representation can be established with a small number of seats and a large number of unique communities.
  • During the regional diversity panel, participants suggested:
    • To treat regional diversity as any other skill or expertise, as they bring knowledge of a particular context of community, similar to any other subject.
    • To have preference towards people with experience in countries that are not in the top twenty democracies, as their knowledge about systems of oppression would be helpful to do better in regions where using Wikimedia is forbidden.
    • Not to force candidates to run for a particular regional seat, even if they are eligible. It should be left to the choice of the candidate whether to run in an open election or for the regional seat.
    • Questions raised regarding deciding the next steps are:
      • How many seats, and how will that decision be made?
      • The definition of regions - emerging communities, continents, regional groups etc.
      • Who is responsible for all this - the elections committee, the facilitation team or the Board?
      • How can it be done in a way that the process gives these seats the best possible credibility within the movement? So that they are not seen as “lesser” seats or leading to hierarchies between seats.
  • Implementation of regional seats:
    • An attendee on the WALRUS call suggested having 3 seats directly elected and the 3 new seats split amongst regions not represented.
    • One representative of Wikimedia Russia said that the process needs to take into account the number of the population and size of wikiprojects by region. A volunteer from the Gujarati community suggested distributing the seats based on ratios of user bases and/or number of languages in a region, and review and update these ratios every 3-5 years.
    • Some groups proposed a regional election for each regional seat e.g. South Asia votes for the South Asian representative to the Board. Other people opposed the idea of regional votes, with the reasoning that we are a global movement and “volunteers without boundaries”.
    • Several participants with experience in governance (including former trustees, Elections Committee members, and CIS-A2K staff) said the candidates should represent the movement globally, even if they are elected through a particular regional seat
    • There are several discussions about who would be eligible as a regional candidate:
      • Whether only people living in the region or people from that region in the diaspora?
      • What about people who just live in that region but are from somewhere else and don't represent it?
    • One person suggested keeping the system as simple as possible: hold a single election for all Board seats. If the quota is not met, replace the lowest-ranking winning candidates with the highest-ranking unsuccessful candidates from underrepresented regions.
      • A participant of the Regional diversity panel suggested something similar, to host separate elections for underrepresented seats, if diversity requirements are not met with the results of the initial election.
    • One person suggested as an addition to this, the Board use 2 of the appointed seats to appoint runners-up from the community elections who are from underrepresented communities.
    • One volunteer of the Brazilian community said that the existing regional groups should not be used to define regional quotas, because originally they were not designed for regional representation.
    • One person said that every regional seat should take turns every year. For example, 2021 ESEAP, 2022 Wiki Indaba, 2023 SAARC, and so on.
    • An election committee member suggested having regional specialization seats with rotation between regions. For example, region A will have an open seat on technical skills, the following year the region B would have the same seat open.
    • A Wikitech volunteer suggested having regional community-elected selection committees to finalize candidates for regional seats.
      • Volunteers from West Bengal suggested considering affiliates in a region for the same, however, some volunteers felt that communities without an affiliate would get disempowered and voiceless. They also said that there is a risk of favoritism.
  • A Spanish volunteer suggested using variables such as GDP, HDI, and the level of Internet coverage or access, should be taken into account, rather than existing groups such as Iberocoop and CEE, as country to country conditions change radically.

Specialization seats (selected or appointed)Edit

Call for feedback: Community Board seats
Main Page
How to participate
Board ideas
Community ideas


This idea has been [[<tvar name="talk1">Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats#Proposing to add seats for capacities</tvar>|suggested]] by Houcemeddine Turki during the Call for feedback about Community Board seats. If you want to suggest other ideas, please share them in the [[<tvar name="talk2">Talk:Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_of_Trustees/Call_for_feedback:_Community_Board_seats</tvar>|Call for feedback main Talk page]].

To improve the expertise of the Board of Trustees, we need to involve people that have the skills needed by the board. These skills may range from business administration and law to computer science and linguistics.

This idea proposes the use of three community-and -affiliate selected seats for trustees with specialized skills. An exhaustive list of these skills should be proposed. This proposal is inspired by [[<tvar|reg-seats>Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Regional seats</>|Regional seats]], but considers field proficiency as a major gap to address. This proposal does not endorse the idea of [[<tvar|quotas>Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Quotas</>|quotas]] with a broad and unclear scope.

These seats could be dedicated to capacities in Economic Sciences, Computer Science, and Humanities. They could be expanded to include all varieties of knowledge such as Library and Information Science, which are underrepresented in the Board of Trustees and among employees of the Foundation despite having a GLAM Office.

The purpose of creating such seats is to choose expert people that have a significant wiki experience (e.g. members of specialized affiliates like Wikimedia Medicine or members of WMF teams like Technology Department) instead of appointing capacities from outside the Wikimedia Community.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the [[<tvar|reports>Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Main report</>|main report]].

The feedback was mixed. Some people felt specialized seats would be too complicated to implement or not important enough to the Board’s success. Others felt each trustee has an important role to play and this idea could help solve the Board's capacity problem. People who liked the idea suggested some specialized seats, frequently mentioning  technical and GLAM specialized seats.

Some specialized seats that were suggested are:

  • GLAM
  • Linguist
  • Technical
  • Economist
  • American lawyer
  • Digital freedom defender


  • Some see Specialization Seats as directly connecting with regional knowledge (see: Regional Seats). Some panelists said during the “Regional Seats” session that the Board needs people who understand the context and understand the community and people coming from specific regions will bring new, diverse perspectives to the Board.
    • A participant from the Noircir Wikipedia group suggested that the specialization should be based on the knowledge of the candidate of a specific region or community. For example, a candidate who has the best understanding of the African community and its needs.
    • One person from Malaysia said that a Trustee that specializes in helping small communities is necessary for mentoring and growth so they can be as strong as other communities. One person from the Philippines said specialized seats are necessary because some smaller communities do not have the membership to have a specialized expert.
  • It was suggested during the “Skills for board work” topic panel session that the community can vote and endorse skills they see as important, somewhat like the Community Wishlist.


  • At the German Wiki Women conversation one person said diversity was more important than broad and vaguely-defined skills.
  • One person on Meta-Wiki said appointed seats should be used to fill skill needs. They were concerned that specialization seats might reduce the pool of candidates.
  • One person in a French-speaking African meeting said an advisory committee could be filled with experts instead.
  • One person felt this could lead to inclusion of popular skills and ultimately lead to more ignorance of less popular skills.
  • One person on Meta-Wiki said skills have been overemphasized and the Board should be a generalist body. Not having specifically requested skills has also been said to be a good thing because an outside perspective can be helpful to identify missed items.

Other considerations

  • Some Wikidata volunteers felt it is tricky to evaluate a specialisation and how someone can be considered an expert in a field. They said that, while it is possible, it would be more of a job selection process rather than a board election process for community seats.
  • One person in the Spanish Telegram chat said this idea would only work if training is provided, since access to education is different globally. Another person said this proposal would be less inclusive if training is absent.


Vote governed by Election Committee (status quo)Edit

Currently, 5 elected Board seats are chosen through a pair of processes:

There are historically guidelines for evaluating qualifications of candidates, and for skills being sought in each year's tranche of trustees, but these are only recommendations, with few hard requirements to qualify as a candidate.

Recent committee members:

* Liaison from the WMF board: Esra'a Al Shafei
* Liaisons to the WMF board: Ad + Abhinav

Ranked voting systemEdit

Complete the move to a single transferable vote system, already used previously to appoint affiliate-selected seats, which is designed to best capture voters’ preferences.

Prior contributor elections have used a voting system based on three options: Support / Neutral / Oppose. When multiple candidates are elected, this system tends to favor the election top contributors popular among big communities. In comparison, candidates from smaller communities with general but more scattered support are in disadvantage.

Ranked voting systems are designed to better capture multiple levels of support among multiple candidates. The Single Transferable Vote counting method is designed to resemble proportional representation through multiple constituencies. This should make it a good fit for the Wikimedia Movement, composed by multiple communities with very diverse perspectives.

Since a 2014 resolution, the Affiliate-Selected Board Seats process uses the Single Transferable Vote system with Droop quota to decide which candidates receive most support from Wikimedia affiliates.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

Across multiple conversations there has been clear interest and curiosity in trying a ranked voting system to help increase the diversity of winning candidates. The majority of participants were not familiar with specific ranked voting systems or didn’t have a strong opinion for a specific method. There was a short discussion on Meta-Wiki about Single Transferable Vote or a Condorcet method. There were concerns about a new voting system being confusing, dissuading people from voting or making them vote wrongly by mistake. Some participants mentioned that the current Support / Neutral / Oppose system gives too much weight to Oppose votes. A few participants said that for them the possibility to oppose certain candidates was important.


  • There is overall interest in improving the current system based on Support / Neutral / Oppose votes by using a ranked voting system instead. Reasons expressed by multiple people in multiple conversations:
  • The current system doesn’t support the goal of diversity because it gives too much weight to “Oppose” votes.
    • One former candidate said that in the 2017 election, about four Support votes were needed by candidates to overturn one Oppose vote.
  • Ranked systems can promote candidates with more general, “centered” support.
  • Ranked systems can improve the representation of the minorities of our movement.
  • Some participants showed appreciation of this method because it allows for a more nuanced vote and allows defining preferences in a better way.
  • One participant using the anonymous feedback form strongly advised to choose a ranked voting system due to its broad use in many organizations such as the OpenStreetMap Foundation.


  • The 2019 ASBS facilitators and some other volunteers disagree with the idea of the Board deciding a voting system for community elections and say this decision belongs to the community, and ultimately the Elections Committee.
  • Some people from very different communities expressed a concern that a voting system perceived as more complex could reduce participation in elections. Some volunteers from emerging Wikimedia communities were concerned about this risk impacting their region specially.
  • One ASBS 2019 facilitator said that a ranked voting system has been used for affiliate seats, and the results might not differ very much.
  • A few participants said that they prefer to have a voting system where it is possible to oppose specific candidates, or even all of them.

Other considerations

  • There are different opinions about which specific system should be used. Some support Single Transferable Vote (used in the last ASBS votes), some support a Condorcet method like the Schulze method (used in one Board election).
  • One participant in a French-speaking discussion suggested Proportional approval voting and Asset voting as adequate systems for this case.
  • Both people familiar and not familiar with ranked voting systems agree on the importance of clear instructions and a good user interface to ensure that voters understand what they are voting for.
  • One person suggested consulting the article about Comparison of electoral systems on English Wikipedia.
  • A couple of volunteers consider that there is a risk of influence by the votes of the growing number of Foundation staff and contractors. They want to avoid a voting system that could give the Wikimedia Foundation workforce more influence in elections.


A commitment to diversity is one of the governance priorities identified in the Foundation’s Bylaws. The Board has consistently expressed its commitment to achieving diversity in Board composition. The Board can follow through on these commitments directly with the Board-selected trustee seats. For the community- and affiliate-selected seats, however, the Board stating its desire for diversity is not sufficient to ensure that the selected trustees truly reflect the diversity of the Wikimedia movement.

One possible approach to addressing this issue is to introduce quotas that require a minimum number of community- and affiliate-selected Board seats to be filled by trustees from groups who would otherwise be underrepresented or disadvantaged in a community-wide nomination and voting process.

The Board has many open questions related to the idea of quotas, and requests community feedback on what the answers should be. In particular:

  • What types of diversity would be most important to guarantee with a quota system? Some possible options are gender, ethnicity, LGBT+ status, geography, totalitarian regime experience, social status (including class and income), having experienced the lack of freedom of travel, speech, or religion, and maturity of “home” community within the Wikimedia movement.
  • How should a quota system be enforced? One possibility would be to reserve certain seats for members of certain groups. Another possibility would be to consider overall diversity of Board composition at the end of the selection process. Yet another would be to include diversity in the Trustee Evaluation Form as important additional characteristics.
  • How should the quotas be set, and how should they be changed over time?

It should be noted that while the Board has not come to an agreement regarding a clear understanding of what kind of diversity should be systematically introduced, it has discussed gender as a widely uncontroversial criterion for overall board diversity, yet has not come to a conclusion how it can be introduced across the community and appointed seats practically.

The Board recognizes that quotas are not necessarily the only way to ensure the selection of a diverse set of trustees for the Board. Suggestions of alternative approaches are welcome.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

Quotas have been discussed in almost every conversation and the range of opinions has been very wide. In practice, most discussions have focused separately on regional quotas or gender diversity quotas. Other factors like non-Wikipedia projects participation, minority languages, age, and skin color have been mentioned sporadically and inconsistently.

The majority of participants agree on the importance of having a Board that represents the diversity of the world. The majority of participants also recognize the difficulty of implementing a system of quotas that is fair, effective, and representative. The support to find diversity solutions based on quotas is stronger among participants from emerging Wikimedia communities as well as women and LGBT+ participants.

Some individuals had reservations to express opinions publicly or participate in the Call for Feedback at all. Aspects like gender and cultural background are closely related to people’s identities. In society, topics like social privilege, political representation of women and minorities, or contemporary colonialism are very controversial and difficult to discuss. All these factors were noticeable during the Call for Feedback. We organized targeted outreach to learn more about the opinions of participants in several groups, including Wikimedia LGBT+, WikiWomxn, Les sans pagEs, WikiDonne and Art+Feminism as well as informal groups of women and LGBT+. Some of whom noted feeling overworked by the quantity of discussions about the Wikimedia movement requesting their participation.

There are serious concerns about the implementation of quotas, including among groups underrepresented in Wikimedia. Disagreement about quotas among women and LGBT+ groups tended to be related to unintended consequences like tokenism and potential candidates feeling discouraged to run for “a quota seat”. On Meta-Wiki, a few contributors expressed their strong disagreement on principle, considering quotas discriminatory, and some of them disagree that the Board has a problem of diversity.

Note: two volunteers spun off the ideas of Regional seats and Specialization seats. Feedback received about regional representation or specialization quotas are listed in the related sections.

  • The topic of quotas is very broad. The only types of quotas being discussed are regional and gender quotas. Age and skin color are other factors mentioned sporadically. The opinions range from strong opposition to strong support.
  • The team has noticed some silence from individuals and groups, as well as directly encountering reservations to express opinions publicly. We have dedicated special attention to providing safe spaces and optional ways to gather feedback without exposing individuals.


  • Several participants said that the purpose of quotas is to overcome historical and systemic inequities, which the current practice of Board member election makes difficult.
  • Many participants in all regions, also in Western Europe and North America, said that quotas may be the only way for certain underrepresented groups to ensure that their perspectives and presence are included on the Board any time soon.
  • A Wikimedia Foundation executive noted that women are underrepresented in elected/nominated seats, and appointed seats should not be the only guarantee of balancing diversity.
  • Some participants commented that the Board diversity should represent the world’s population composition and not just the Wikimedia community composition.


  • Many participants said that a representative implementation of quotas may be hard given that there is a maximum of eight seats for community and affiliates.
  • Some warned of larger communities overshadowing smaller communities due to influence and noted this may produce a silent minority as has happened in some countries with indigenous communities. For this reason, they say quotas should be based upon population and not the size of the wiki community.
  • Several participants from underrepresented groups said that quotas may deter potential competent candidates from underrepresented groups from running for election because they want to be selected on their own merits, without the help of a quota system.
    • They fear that these candidates may be judged as only on the Board because of the quota and disregard the experience or expertise of the person. Some said candidates using the quota may get less support because of this.
  • Many participants in several regions were concerned about the risk of candidates joining the Board without having the proper skills thanks to quotas.
  • Some participants feared that quotas may increase tokenism, that is, an apparent representation of diversity that is more symbolic than effective.
  • A few participants said that candidates selected due to quotas may feel public pressure from contributors opposing quotas.
    • They mentioned groupthink as a potential side effect, that is, trustees selected through quotas feeling forced to align with the trustees selected without quotas, defeating the point of diversity.
  • Several groups from emerging Wikimedia communities mentioned the connotations the term “quotas” have in their countries.
    • They described situations where governments are misusing quota-based systems that were created to include minorities, resulting in various forms of corruption.
  • Especially on Meta-Wiki, a few users disagreed strongly with any system of quotas.
    • One user said that quotas discriminate against certain people by denying them the ability to run for certain board seats based on their innate characteristics.

Other considerations

Regarding gender quotas

  • There were many considerations specific to a gender diversity quota:
    • Participants in several countries mentioned examples of gender balance laws or campaigns in their countries and considered it logical to explore a similar application in the Board.
    • Many participants mentioned concepts like “50/50” or “50%” to refer to a gender quota for women, according to some of them following terms popularized by governments or the media in their countries.
      • Other participants including members of the Wikimedia LGBT+ user group complained, saying that these concepts were binary and implicitly biased against non-binary, trans or genderqueer people. The Facilitation team acknowledged this problem and rectified the related mentions in their reports.
  • A former trustee suggested the Board be proactive about diverse articulations of gender such as trans and non-binary and also diverse sexual orientations.
  • A couple of participants suggested adding limits for overrepresentation instead of minimum quotas, like for instance a maximum of 60% of any gender on the Board.
  • One participant suggested that gender representation should not come before regional representation.

Regarding quotas in general

  • A few participants have said that quotas should be applied during the nomination process, not the election.
    • Some Wikitech participants suggested ensuring that there is a minimum number of candidates from each group rather than having election quotas.
  • A member of the Elections Committee considered it is not possible to cover all the diversity of our movement with quotas unless there is a system of short-term rotation.
  • A former trustee suggested to look at “underrepresented” as a required expertise to avoid using a plain concept of quotas.
  • Some participants said that the Board seats should reflect the current community, not the community that it is desired to become.
    • Some participants from the Wikimedia Stewards User Group were of this opinion.
    • Others said imposing restrictions on the community seats makes for ineffective representatives.
  • A few participants commented that the feedback period was not long enough to discuss quotas.

Call for skillsEdit

An optimal Board would be composed of trustees whose expertise encompasses the full range of work that the Wikimedia Foundation does and the full range of activities within the Wikimedia movement. That will always be a moving target, and even an expanded Board will never be able to truly achieve it. However, at the beginning of any trustee selection process the Board should assess and determine which areas of expertise are most needed. For Board-selected trustees, the Board can then target those areas in its recruiting. For community- and affiliate-selected trustees, however, a different approach is needed.

In a call for candidates at the beginning of the selection process, the Board can specify the skills and experience that it is hoping community- and affiliate-selected trustees will have. The next challenge is to determine whether the candidates have those skills and experience. The trustee evaluation form can help with that process, but there are still two key questions:

  1. What should the minimum level of expertise be? This relates to the issue of the vetting of candidates.
  2. Who is responsible for ensuring that the minimum qualifications are met? Candidates can self-report their years of relevant experience based on the qualification form, but there still needs to be some form of review. This could be done by the Board itself, likely through a Board-delegated Selection Committee, or it could be done by a Community-elected Selection Committee.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

The discussion about skills and experiences had recurrent feedback about offering training to potential candidates and Board members. This feedback is captured in the section below Support to candidates.

One volunteer proposed the idea of Specialization seats. Feedback related to dedicating seats of quotas for skills is captured in the corresponding section below.

After the fourth weekly report:

Sentiment: Divided opinions in a discussion with many ramifications that is expected to continue.

Some people think community experience is the only skill required for community candidates. Others think skills to perform well as a Board member are important, and opinions differ about how strongly the filter should be applied. There is broad agreement that the Board can do more to identify skills needed, to provide training, and to proactively seek potential candidates with these skills. There are questions about how the Board plans to use the recently approved Board Candidate Evaluation Form.

About the idea of skills needed in candidates:

  • There is no agreement about the types of skills that should be required to candidates:
    • Many volunteers, especially long-term contributors, express a strong opinion about not requiring specific skills to community-and-affiliate candidates. They say the role of these trustees in the Board is to represent the community and to contribute community skills. They say that the Board has the directly appointed seats to cover specific skills required.
    • Many volunteers who have joined more recently and some long-term contributors disagree, and believe that all candidates need to have a certain skill set to aspire to a seat in the Board.
    • Each of these two positions includes volunteers who usually don’t participate in governance discussions as well as volunteers well-versed in these discussions, including former trustees.
    • Some volunteers from emerging Wikimedia communites said that some skills should be required of all candidates, irrespective of diversity quotas.
      • In meetings with the Odia and the Gujarati communities it was said that the Board is the highest decision-making authority in the movement, and skills should not be compromised.
    • In a meeting with the North Africa community it was suggested that the Board can use committees or a new advisory council delivering the skills whenever needed, keeping the Board seats for community members who win elections without requirements for specific skills. This idea also appeared in two different meetings with Women from France and Germany.
    • The director of a European chapter said non-specialists can give perspectives specialists tend to overlook, that skills shouldn’t be overrated.
    • At a meeting of the Turkic community, they wondered: what will happen if there are no candidates with specific skills?
    • One person said in an ESEAP meeting that some people improve after given the chance, that willingness to learn is important.
    • A former appointed trustee said that there isn’t any harm in having an eligibility criteria for everyone on the Board, as (according to her) it could lead to a more effective board.
    • Some volunteers said that the community should be allowed to express what skills they believe the Board should have.

Specifics about skills needed in candidates:

  • Several volunteers from different conversations mentioned skills they expect from community candidates. This is a compilation of all the skills mentioned:
    • Community experience
    • Wiki editing
    • Programmatic work in the movement
    • Mediation and negotiation
    • Management, leadership
    • Team working
    • Technical
    • Auditing, assessment
  • Some people say that training for candidates or even trustees after being elected is enough. Some say that the terms are too short to train people with insufficient skills, so a certain amount of skills might be helpful for optimal use of the term.
  • One person in a European community conversation proposed a certain amount of edits in a wiki as a required skill for all trustees, the directly appointed too.

About how to implement a call of skills:

  • There is overall agreement that needed skills should be identified by the Board and advertised well in advance.
  • One person said that the Board should be more proactive about searching for candidates in the community before the election.
  • The Board Candidate Evaluation Form was mentioned in several conversations, although it raised many questions about its intended use, and also about its effectiveness.
  • Some volunteers suggested in different conversations the idea of highlighting the skills of candidates, even if there is no hard requirement for skills.

Vetting candidatesEdit

A process is needed to ensure that candidates are qualified and capable to be members of the Board of Trustees. This overlaps with the call for types of skills and experience and with the idea of quotas. It also is required as part of the Board’s legal and fiduciary obligations. Because of those obligations, the Board cannot fully delegate this responsibility.

What is the best stage in the trustee selection process for the Board to exercise its responsibility to vet trustee candidates?

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

Feedback about this idea is heavily dependent on the feedback about Call for types of skills and experiences. In this section we cover the comments exclusively related to potential vetting processes.

Vetting of candidates received little feedback compared to other ideas. Although vetting was understood as required, its extent was debated. Many participants say that vetting of community candidates is not a Board task but a community task. In general these participants believe that the vetting should be minimal. Some participants prefer a strong vetting process to ensure that eligible candidates are fit for the Board. Several participants said that a stronger vetting process may introduce cultural bias and reinforce privileges for wealthy people especially in emerging Wikimedia communities.


  • Some suggested a stronger vetting process comparable to a job application, reasoning that the role of trustee is a big responsibility.
  • A person attending an office hour shared an example of a board assessment and self-assessment form to determine skills possessed and skills needed on non-profit boards. She suggested its use as a way to vet or at least better assess candidates.


  • Many people say that the Board should only do legal checks to candidates to confirm them.
  • Some say that it is the responsibility of the community to make sure that community candidates are qualified. They say if any additional vetting exists at all, it should be done by volunteers, not by the Board.
  • Among people who expressed their belief that the Board should not do a wider vetting of candidates, a few mentioned the case of the appointed trustee Arnnon Geshuri, who stepped down shortly after his announcement in 2016 after a community protest.

Other considerations

  • Frequently it was mentioned that any vetting should happen before the election/process starts to all candidates, not at the end to the winning candidates.
  • The ED of a European affiliate said that a vetting process might suffer from cultural and language bias, and its design should be considered carefully.
  • A former trustee said that potential candidates might be deterred by a vetting process requiring candidates to publish an assessment of their skills or other personal information.
  • Another former trustee stated that vetting based on skills might reduce diversity of candidates, creating a system that favors wealthier people, especially in countries where only a minority has access to the types of education required.

Board-delegated SelectCommEdit

To allow for more community control of the community trustee selection process, a new Selection Committee could be created. The Selection Committee would be responsible for evaluating candidates using the trustee evaluation form, ranking them, and it could assist the Board in the vetting of candidates.

There are two significant ways in which the Selection Committee would differ from the current Elections Committee:

  1. The Selection Committee would be involved in the substantive evaluation of candidates, whereas the Elections Committee’s focus is on the administration and operations of the selection process.
  2. The Elections Committee is entirely selected by the Board (specifically, by the Board Governance Committee), but the Selection Committee would be at least partially selected via community election. The Board is considering using the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) as a model for how the Selection Committee could be composed, with a mix of community-elected and Board-selected members.

One possibility could be for the Selection Committee to be entirely community-driven, with two delegated Board members as members or liaisons. In this variant, where the community-driven Selection Committee evaluates and ranks all candidates, the Board could be required to appoint trustees from among a slate of top ranked candidates.

The Board seeks feedback on the idea of a Selection Committee. The Board also seeks feedback on whether the Selection Committee, if one is to be created, should serve to filter candidates before a community vote or if it should directly select candidates for the Board to appoint.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The summary of feedback about this idea has been merged with the summary at Community-elected Selection Committee.

Community-elected SelectCommEdit

To allow for more community control of the community trustee selection process, a new Selection Committee could be created. The Selection Committee would be responsible for evaluating candidates using the trustee evaluation form, and it could assist the Board in the vetting of candidates.

There are two significant ways in which the Selection Committee would differ from the current Elections Committee:

  1. The Selection Committee would be involved in the substantive evaluation of candidates, whereas the Elections Committee’s focus is on the administration and operations of the selection process.
  2. The Elections Committee is entirely selected by the Board (specifically, by the Board Governance Committee), but the Selection Committee would be entirely selected via community election.

The Board seeks feedback on the idea of a Selection Committee. The Board also seeks feedback on whether the Selection Committee, if one is to be created, should serve to filter candidates before a community vote or if it should directly select candidates for the Board to appoint.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

Although the ideas for a Board-delegated selection committee and a Community-elected selection committee are distinct, a lot of the feedback received applies equally to both. We have merged the feedback, having separate lists for the points specific to each case.

After the fourth weekly report:

Concerns about a model of indirect elections are widespread, and especially the idea of a Board-delegated committee. There are some exceptions in Africa and South Asia. There, a few groups felt confident about trusting a committee formed by experienced community members who would become well-informed on candidates. In general, the idea is seen as unnecessary, removing the control of the community to directly elect trustees and adding complexity to the process. The main risks identified are a decrease of community participation, committee bias, and a compromised credibility of the trustees selected through this method.


  • The idea of a selection committee (mainly community-elected) was more popular in several conversations held with volunteers in different African countries and regions. A main reason for them to support this model is their trust on experienced community members to make good choices.
  • Volunteers from the Goa and Odia communities said that it is almost impossible for every voter to read lengthy profiles and make the most rational choice. They said that, because of this, a selection committee could work better.
    • These groups also said that a selection committee can eliminate the popularity bias that influences voting in an election process.
  • About the Board-delegated option, participants in a couple of meetings from the Sub-Saharan Africa region said this process would be simpler than the Community-elected committee.
    • Some of these participants suggested nominating former board members and other experienced community members.
  • A Nepali volunteer felt a board-delegated committee shortlisting candidates for election is better because it puts the onus of ensuring diversity on the Board, rather than on the election process.


  • The idea of a Board-delegated committee was more widely concerning. Obstacles identified by different participants included:
    • This system would remove too much authority from the community.
    • Board members selected this way would not represent the community.
    • If everything is controlled by the Board, then it is better to let the Board itself appoint candidates.
  • While concerns about a Community-elected committee were milder, they were still held by a majority of participants. These arguments were mentioned:
    • Some people said that if a community can elect a diverse and qualified committee, why can’t a community also elect diverse and qualified Board members?
    • Several people said that an election to form a selection committee would unnecessarily add complexity and bureaucracy.
      • Some people said that an election before or after the filter of a selection committee would result in a more complex process. They said that it might make the selection process harder for people to engage in, and reduce participation in comparison with direct elections.
    • Several people said that a process starting with voting a committee would take longer.
  • Other arguments were made against a selection committee in general:
    • Volunteers from the Urdu and Kannada communities said that there were a lot of unanswered questions regarding a selection committee, and for that reason, they would prefer to keep direct elections for now.
    • Several comparisons were made with political regimes:
      • Participants of the Georgian community compared “when you choose someone and someone else decides” with communism.
      • A former appointed trustee compared indirect elections with the two tier system in the US, and opposed any system where the community doesn’t have the final say.
      • One volunteer compared the idea of a selection committee with the Council of Clerics in Iran.
    • A couple of people said that the Affiliations Committee was an example of how a committee’s intent on selecting people from diverse backgrounds actually ends up selecting people with similar characteristics as their own.
      • Wikidata volunteers also shared a similar concern, on a note that “it is basic human tendency to favour people who are similar to us.”
      • A couple of people suggested consulting psychological research about groups of people selecting people like themselves.
    • A CIS-A2K staff member felt that when a person is elected through community voting system, they will be accountable to all volunteers, but if it is through a selection committee, their accountability may be limited to the committee itself.

Other considerations

  • People from the Punjabi Wikimedians User Group said that the relation between the selection committee and the Board would affect the results. They said, if the relationship is good, the committee would be able to negotiate better for skills and diversity, but if the relationship is bad, then the candidates will suffer the consequences.
  • An Election Committee member said that lack of diversity on the committee would affect the final outcome.
  • A person from the Telugu community suggested that the quotas are applied to the selection committee to ensure diversity in their choices, and a Maithili volunteer suggested distributing all seats ensuring gender and regional diversity.
  • A Wikitech volunteer suggested having a large committee and final decisions regarding candidates should be made through voting among the committee members.
  • A Karavalli Wikimedian suggested having a conflict of interest policy if a selection committee is formed, and the situation in which a committee member is also interested in being a board candidate should be addressed.
  • Volunteers from Urdu community suggested having regional subcommittees, working in coordination with the main committee, to increase the involvement of grassroot communities in the process.
  • A CIS-A2K staff member suggested having a monitoring committee that will keep a check on the process, behaviour, abuse of voting processes, too much canvassing etc, just like in regular political elections.

Vote for confirmed candidatesEdit

<translate> The Board acknowledges the importance of a broad community vote as part of the trustee selection process. The Board has no intention to implement a new process for selecting community- and affiliate-selected trustees that does not involve community voting.

You are invited to share the reasons why a community vote on trustee candidates is important to you. For instance, how does voting on confirmed candidates compares to [[<tvar|appointment>Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Direct appointment of confirmed candidates</>|direct appointment of confirmed candidates]]? Understanding the reasoning behind the preference for a vote will help the Board to properly incorporate the vote into the trustee selection process.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the [[<tvar|reports>Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Main report</>|main report]].

Direct elections have received considerably more support than an indirect system mediated through a selection committee. The exceptional cases of volunteers preferring an indirect system have been documented in the “Selection committee” section above.

  • Most participants expressed their preference for Board elections when discussing related ideas like quotas, the vetting of candidates or the selection committee. Even when these ideas would be introduced, they expected elections to remain.
  • Wikimedia CH (Switzerland) emphasized the importance of a direct community vote.
  • At a European community conversation, one person said that community votes are important as they can readjust approaches of the Board and its inner circle, creating new topics and enforcing different points of view.
    • Another participant said that democracy is a better working principle than any elitist approach.
    • Another participant added that broad elections are safer, as they allow different and critical perspectives to enter the Board.
  • The ED of an European affiliate welcomed any combination of ideas preserving the direct involvement of the communities with a process ensuring skills and diversity.
    • She said that enforcing skills and diversity should not lead to a loss of involvement of the community in selection processes.
    • To her knowledge, this view was shared by a vast majority of the "Roles & Responsibilities" Movement Strategy working group.
  • The ED of another European affiliate said that community involvement is important due to shared ownership in the movement.
  • A member of Wikimedia Norway said that a lot of work within the movement is done by volunteers, so they should be a major part of the selection process, as decisions influence their work a lot.
  • Some participants said that Board elections were essential, and expressed their preference to convert some or all directly appointed seats into elected seats.


Appointment of confirmed candidatesEdit

<translate> This idea assumes the adoption of a [[<tvar|selectcomm>Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Community-elected Selection Committee</>|Community-elected Selection Committee]], with a community vote to select members of that committee. In such a scenario, the Selection Committee would be responsible for evaluating candidates’ skills and experience, ranking them, and assisting the Board in vetting candidates. The Board would like feedback on the idea that the Selection Committee could then directly recommend candidates for appointment to the Board, rather than initiating another round of community voting on the approved candidates. In this scenario, the Selection Committee will be entirely or nearly entirely community-run, with two Trustees as members or liaisons.

Some advantages of this idea:

  • A specialized committee is better suited than a broad vote to managing and balancing the considerations of expertise and diversity;
  • The Selection Committee can still seek community input on the candidates; and
  • Removing steps from the selection process allows it to operate more quickly and efficiently.

The key disadvantage of this idea is that it might not achieve all the goals of including community voting as part of the trustee selection process. There would still be a vote to select Selection Committee members, but the community selection of the trustees would be indirect rather than direct. The feedback received regarding [[<tvar|elections>Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Election of confirmed candidates</>|voting generally]] will help the Board assess the viability of this idea.

Summary of ongoing feedbackEdit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the [[<tvar|reports>Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Main report</>|main report]].

After [[<tvar name="report">Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-03-10 Weekly</tvar>|the fifth weekly report]]:

The idea of [[<tvar name="candidates">Special:MyLanguage/Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Direct appointment of confirmed candidates</tvar>|Direct appointment of confirmed candidates]] did not receive support, except for a couple of conversations in the ESEAP region. Many volunteers feel that this change would be too disruptive and would undermine their trust in the Board. Many have responded that the Board already can appoint directly almost half of the seats. Some participants were concerned about a situation where the community doesn’t accept any of the trustees directly appointed.


  • A volunteer from Malaysia said the Board knows the best candidate it needs from the selection committee’s submitted list of candidates. It should be implemented with utmost transparency.
  • A person from Hong Kong says the community-elected selection committee will choose the best and the brightest people that deserve to be on the Board.


  • Several people said this moves away from community norms and practices:
    • One person from the Indonesia community said there is no need for a call for feedback if the Board chooses this option.
    • At the German Wiki Women conversation, all attendees said this might lead to a perfectly diverse and skillful board, but it would also cause a massive loss of trust in the Board itself. They said such a top-down solution would be emotionally impossible to realize with the communities.
    • One member of the Elections Committee considers that with the direct appointment of confirmed candidates, you end up stripping some functions that the community understands are theirs.
    • One volunteer on the idea talk page on Meta commented that direct appointment of candidates is not a good way to get buy-in from the participants in the different Wikimedia projects. They said this method does not represent the community ethic so prevalent in Wikimedia projects. They said there is an increased risk of appointing unqualified people.
  • There are concerns about lack of broad community participation in this process:
    • One volunteer said that It is unclear what would happen if a candidate appointed by the Board is not accepted by the community, similarly to what happened with a direct appointment in the past.
    • Indirect elections are almost always a bad idea as there is too much opportunity to sway the decision.
    • The majority of the participants from the Open Foundation West Africa group meeting did not support this idea. One person said this could mean the Board could appoint someone the community may not support.
    • At the German LGBT+ conversation a volunteer said any failure during the selection process would be on the shoulders of the few volunteers in the selection committee.
    • During a meeting with the Georgian community all participants unanimously rejected this idea as not democratic nor transparent. They added that the Board already has this ability to directly appoint members and it is not possible for all members to be appointed by the BoT.


WMF membershipEdit

The main reason there is a Board is so that the state of Florida will know who to throw into jail if the Foundation violates the law.

The Board was not formed because it was determined this would be the best governance structure for the Foundation. It was formed because, when we went about creating the Foundation as a non-profit, the state of Florida informed us that a Board would be legally required.

Without this requirement, the Foundation would likely have adopted some other form of governance, one that is more in line with the nature of the Wikimedia projects and of the communities behind them.

— Tim Shell, one of the three original members the Board of Trustees

Background: The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is designed so that the Wikimedia movement largely controls the makeup of the Board, over the long-term, through elections and selection processes. However, legally, the elections are not binding, and trustees have the unrestricted legal authority to appoint their own members, regardless of the results of any elections. The Wikimedia Foundation is not a membership organization, and the Board is the ultimate, unchecked authority over the WMF and itself. There are several reasons for not having an open membership with legally binding elections, including the risks of creating a hierarchy between WMF members (who would be legally required to publicly disclose their identities) and non-members, and the risks of a possible hostile takeover. As such, while we legally have the Board choose all of its own members, we hold triennial legally-nonbinding elections to the Board, with the assumption that the Board will appropriately respect the outcome.

Problem: There are considerable risks with this setup. Seven of the sixteen trustees are appointed members brought in from outside the movement for their expertise, and there is a very real risk that the Board may at some point in the future arbitrarily disregard an election result, or unilaterally change the bylaws to remove elections, or take other action that would make the Board permanently self-perpetuating with no community control. While there must be some group that legally has the final say, the Board's conflicting need for specific expertise makes it a poor choice for the responsibility which requires trust above all else. The current setup does not adequately ensure continued community control.

Proposal: To solve this, I propose the creation of a closed legal WMF membership consisting of volunteering stewards, certain affiliate presidents/chairs, and perhaps eventually Global Council members, all of whom would have committed to implementing a set of community-governed policies regulating certain aspects of the Board and the WMF membership itself. This group should have sole legal authority over community-elected and affiliate-selected Board member appointments, veto power over changes to the bylaws (which would only be used to ensure the continued power structure), and the ability to appoint/remove its own members to reflect the changing membership of the source groups. This group would not make decisions on their own, but would be trusted to implement movement decisions, including by implementing Board election results. The primary rationale for the membership selection critera is to put together a group which can be trusted not to arbitrarily overturn an election result, thereby ensuring that the WMF leadership will not end up as a self-perpetuating group. It would be the group of people trusted to carry out a simple set of tasks, bridging the wiki reality with the legal reality.

The creation of this group would not require any change in the makeup or regular functioning of the Board itself, or of its selection processes (in practice), which are a separate issue. In order to limit possible conflicts, the bylaws could restrict the group's ability to make new Board appointments to times of vacancies among the relevant seats and regular scheduled elections. If possible, its veto power over changes in the bylaws would also be limited to bylaws dealing with membership and the Board itself. The responsibilities of the group must be sufficiently limited and the rules governing its actions must be sufficiently clear, that it would not need to make complex or controversial decisions.