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Fifth columnEdit

On 26 April 1989 the official organ of the Chinese communist party spoke out against democracy. As the thirtieth anniversary of the massacre approaches Wikipedia has been cut off - we've not heard from Anna Frodesiak since 23 April. In this country, expect people like Nigel Farage to continue speaking out against democracy - Leavers secured less than 30% of the vote in the EU election, but to hear him speak you would think they had secured a landslide. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 10:06, 29 July 2019‎

WMF spending increaseEdit

Prior to the last board election of community-elected seats, a question was asked to candidates on acceptable limits of budgetary growth. Certain (now-)trustees expressed the view that continued rapid growth would be problematic. ("I think that a budgetary growth of more than 20% in the case of an organization of the WMF’s size would definitely be dangerous and possibly unhealthy (unless there was a very clear need for a certain vital project or investment)." - User:Pundit, "Continued exponential growth is not a realistic possibility. When I was previously on the board I supported stabilizing spending at its than current levels. ... With respect to hard-ish limits, the FDC has one set at 20% but even that IMO is too great with respect to the WMF. I would find it hard to imagine a situation where the foundation would need an increase in budget greater than that. Staff take time to on-board. For a request greater than 15% a movement discussion should be required." - User:Doc James).

Four months ago, the members of the board unanimously voted to approve a >20% budget increase for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Not only was there no movement discussion, this was the first year in nearly a decade when the annual plan wasn't even publicly disclosed. (We did have a get a brief presentation on it, but the plan itself appears to be confidential.) I would like to know: Was this an extreme situation, where there was an unusual great need for more spending? Was there a very clear need for a certain vital project? It's looking more and more like the WMF plans perpetual exponential growth, and I think it would be helpful to clarify the reasons for the unexpected spending increases.

User:Raystorm also had this response to the same question on budgetary growth: "Ultimately, our publicly discussed annual plan and budget discussed with the communities remain the best way to manage our spending." This year there was no public discussion with the communities on the annual plan, nor was there any FDC to look things over, so I think it's very important that some explanation of the reasons for the decision be made public. Thanks. --Yair rand (talk) 14:32, 3 November 2019 (UTC)

Thanks for asking the question. Nemo 08:07, 4 November 2019 (UTC)
User:Yair rand 2017/2018 expenses were 78.8M, 2018/2019 expenses were 92.94M,[1] 2019/2020 projection is 111.7 M.
It is basically a 20% increase (slightly less if averaged over the last two years).
Agree it is fast expansion and would not want to see any greater than this at this point in time. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 09:18, 4 November 2019 (UTC)
I stick to the opinion I expressed that going beyond 20% growth is dangerous and should only happen in exceptional circumstances in our movement. It is sometimes justifiable in smaller organizations (e.g. for a small affiliate just hiring the first staff member can easily increase the spending to a growth of even over 50%), but for the WMF such a rapid increase would definitely call for a closer scrutiny. Currently, we are at about 20% growth. Naturally, our strategic exercise may call for larger budgets, but every single initiative needs to be scrutinized carefully, as overall growing faster than 20% per annum is dangerous. Pundit (talk) 17:14, 8 November 2019 (UTC)
Proposal for a "budget review committee"Edit

I think that a group which is similar to the FDC should be given the mandate, resources, time, and full access into WMF's finances to conduct deep dives into WMF's budgets and spending every year, and should publish extensive reports and recommendations to the WMF Board and the community. This is a major job and would consume dozens or hundreds of hours of time if done thoroughly. The group that does this should probably be relatively small, have significant expertise in budgets, and probably given modest compensation for what will be an intensive consulting job. The members could be elected in a similar manner to stewards. ↠Pine () 21:14, 15 November 2019 (UTC)

I forgot to add that I think that the "BRC" should be separate from the Audit Committee. The Audit Committee can focus on compliance with reporting requirements and previously approved budgets, while the BRC can focus on future spending. ↠Pine () 21:27, 15 November 2019 (UTC)
User:Pine I personally like the idea of a committee of volunteers to review the budget of the Wikimedia Foundation and to report back to the board and movement generally. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:02, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
I would love to serve on such a committee, and would like to point out that fundraising has been growing linearly. EllenCT (talk) 01:16, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
Just to note that this is among the potential functions of the new 'governance body' being mooted in the movement strategy recommendations. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 09:55, 28 January 2020 (UTC)
  • Yup, as Chris has already mentioned, a governance body/council/committee is being proposed, and while the nitty-gritty details are not yet established, it likely would serve such a role. Pundit (talk) 19:59, 31 January 2020 (UTC)
@The Land and Pundit: You must be referring to Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Ensure Equity in Decision-Making, which includes an expected outcome stating, "Dedicate equitable budgets for community growth, incorporating scoping and direction from the global Governance Body, which will have oversight on targeted goals, for participatory, stable, reliable, unrestricted, and regular fund allocation to allow communities to develop their capacities and activities over a sustained period of time." Does Florida law allow a nonprofit's Board of Trustees to delegate budgetary control to that extent? Or is the Governance Body just another name for the Board of Trustees? EllenCT (talk) 20:48, 10 February 2020 (UTC)
EllenCT: I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that it'd have to be an advisory committee to the Board. Pundit (talk) 19:38, 12 February 2020 (UTC)
I think it would be legally challenging for the Board to formally subordinate itself to some other body (not necessarily impossible, but a big deal change). But there is no problem establishing a body whose advice is in moral or practical terms binding - analagous to the FDC, say. There would certainly be details to be worked out. But the WMF legal team have been looking at draft recommendations throughout the process and have not highlighted any of them as legal impossibilities. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 20:06, 12 February 2020 (UTC)
I'm not sure that I would combine an outside review of the WMF budget with the some type of community governance body. I think that asking one group of people to fulfill both functions would be a lot to ask if people are not paid for their time. Also, if the governance body's funding, trademark licenses, appointments to office, or any other permissions come from the WMF Board, then there will be concerns about conflict of interest between the governance body's need to get along with the WMF Board to maintain its funding, trademark licenses, or other permissions while also being asked to review WMF's proposals. ↠Pine () 18:27, 16 February 2020 (UTC)
An advisory body can easily be made independent if there is sufficient will: just like you would choose an audit firm and pay their invoice at the end of the year, you can choose some external entity to host the body, select a budget and sign a multi-year contract to firewall them from undue influences. As Chris says, it's harder to afford complete independence to a body with binding powers on the WMF, which may look like some sort of "supervisory board" in the dual-board structure of some jurisdictions: at a minimum, you would need to be very sure that it's accountable to the relevant stakeholders. (Note how most Wikimedia chapters don't have any such problem because they're associations where it's clear that the assembly is the ultimate decision maker, and the assembly mostly self-renews.) Nemo 08:18, 17 February 2020 (UTC)

Notice and publication of WMF Board agendas and minutesEdit

Hello, I request that the WMF Board regularly update with meeting agendas and minutes. I also request that agendas for board meetings be published to that page two weeks in advance of meetings, that links to the agendas also be sent to Wikimedia-l two weeks in advance of meetings, and that links to the minutes be sent to Wikimedia-l upon publication of the minutes. Thank you, ↠Pine () 18:20, 16 February 2020 (UTC)