Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard/Archives/2015

Questions left over from Wikimania Board Q&A

Following are the two questions that were not answered during the Board Q&A at Wikimania. The original page with some more questions and answers can be found at:


I'm quite interested in the fundraising situation in the United Kingdom with the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia UK, specifically the board's decision to not renew Wikimedia UK's fundraising agreement, and the loss of approximately $500,000 (at current exchange rates) of Gift Aid funding (a UK Government incentive, explained at Will the Wikimedia Foundation be renewing the fundraising agreement with Wikimedia UK, or will they form an overseas subsidiary in the UK to enable the collection of Gift Aid receipts. Does the board agree that the loss of such a significant sum is regrettable, that its collection must be investigated as a priority, and that such a sum could create significant benefits to the movement around the world.

It seems odd that at all levels the WMF was openly and publicly praising the UK chapter during Wikimania, and yet this nuts and bolts question of why so much of the donor's money is actively thrown away is skipped over. Wikimedians need not just draw their own conclusions, they can read Jon Davies' (WMUK Chief Executive) open letter to Sue Gardner in May 2014. If nothing is ever said by the WMF, then a fundamental lack of trust in WMUK's competence to manage fundraising must still be a core problem, despite the last 3 years of negotiation, expensive consultants and politics, this lack of trust costs the movement $500,000 a year. If a change of management or leadership is needed to resolve this, maybe 3 years is long enough to decide on what action is needed?
Along with many other active Wikimedians who are focused on content creation rather than politics, I could find a huge number of worthy open knowledge projects that would deliver amazing value with these lost funds.
P.S. I did not raise the question and unfortunately I was unable to attend this session, being busy as a Wikimania volunteer on other stuff; my travel for my volunteer days cost £14, which I have yet to be paid, and at that rate you could fund around 250 volunteer years worth of effort from willing unpaid folks like me with this lost money. -- (talk) 13:31, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Hello Fae, these extra potential funds are important. The WMF this year qualified for Gift Aid [via the UK Fund for Charities, something that was beneficial when we raised sponsorship for Wikimania. I am not certain how this might fit into the donation flow for individual donors, that is something worth clarifying. SJ talk  07:07, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
I suppose I need to declare an interest, in that as a UK taxpayer, WMF failing to collect Gift Aid has probably saved me one or maybe two pence. But having just read the letter referred to above, I find it odd that WMF would not bother to institute a UK-based process, whether it be via WMUK or some other vehicle, that would enable it to more effectively collect donations from the UK and claim the tex refund. Deltahedron (talk) 14:00, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
@Sj: It is possible we might be talking about different things. If the WMF will be able to claim gift aid in the UK, that sounds great, as it will make a huge difference to the impact a donor's money can make, particularly if Wikimedia UK is never to be recognized again as a funds processor for the WMF. Do you have a link to point to where this is explained further? -- (talk) 07:57, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
To be frank, I don't see how this can be quite right. Charities have to be based in the UK, EU, Iceland or Norway to qualify [1] and as far as I know the WMF is not. Deltahedron (talk) 17:19, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
The [UK Fund for Charities channels gifts to validated non-UK based charities. We were able to use their service this year for large Wikimania-related donations. They charge 1% for large gifts, making this an effective way to receive gift aid. However this is not a great solution for individual donors: for gifts under £100, they charge up to 20%, consuming most of the gift aid. This works for small donations as well: they calculate the fee based on total gifts in a year. While they charge £20 of the first £100 donated in a year, this quickly tapers off to 1%. SJ talk  21:33, 8 December 2014 (UTC) (The question remains: whether having this option available is as convenient as other ways to give, and whether we could more effectively obtain Gift Aid with a more streamlined donation flow. 05:53, 22 January 2015 (UTC))

block of fundraising in Russia without explanations

Hello. I asked my questions in wikimedia-l, I also posted to wmfboard email but still got not answer in 2 weeks. That's why I want to make a public request here.

I would like to bring Board's attention to recent block of fundraising in Russia:

  • 1 and other messages of the thread
  • 2 and other messages of the thread

For about 2 weeks we had no official communication from WMF, no private letter to Wikimedia RU chapter with explanations of the issue.

We don't understand the actions taken and we ask only for transparency and explanations.

It could be possible, that WMF staff is driven by some internal thoughts but Wikimedia movement declares openness and I ask you as an ultimate authority to look into the issue and help us to learn the truth. Otherwise, at the moment it looks like some politically driven action without valid reasons. rubin16 (talk) 08:36, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

Rubin16 are we any the wiser as to why donations from Russia are not being accepted? I have someone in the media in Russia who is interested in this. The WMF owes answers to the community and it would be best to do so before the media makes an issue of it. Russavia (talk) 08:37, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
I am gonna wait till the end of January without any action rubin16 (talk) 06:40, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for posting here, Rubin16. I know that the matter is taken seriously, and not for political reasons. WM-RU should have gotten an update by now; let us know if you still need information after the end of January. SJ talk  05:53, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Our directors got some explanations on the recent meeting in WMF but, frankly speaking, it was just the reason stated without any explanations and proof... So, the situation is still not clear for us because I don't understand why the reason you told our directors is kept as a secret (if it true, there is nothing bad or private in it), and I don't think that it is sufficient enough to block all donations from here rubin16 (talk) 18:40, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Was WMF Global Ban Policy approved by the WMF Board of Trustees? Usually creating policy that affects all projects requires a board decision. John Vandenberg (talk) 03:44, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

It was not. For the most part, staff policies have stopped requiring a board decision. Since the LCA department was set up, this includes policies related to implementing or enforcing other policies; and basic modifications or revisions to existing cross-project policies. SJ talk  05:53, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
This policy, as implemented, being a radical departure from prior practice and policy, is causing some serious reactions, damaging trust in the WMF. I do not suggest any immediate response, but there are definitely board issues here, dealing with the respective roles of the WMF and the community. Thanks, SJ, for informing us that there was no Board approval. Thus appeal to the Board may be possible.
Please do not place this matter before the Board until and unless there is a developed RfC on the involved issues. --Abd (talk) 15:33, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, but it is a bit of a joke that a few vocal community members instrumentalize the long overdue ban of an absolutely toxic contributor to cook up another story about "the loss of trust in WMF". I for one say thanks for finally stepping up to the plate and dealing with this "vested contributor" situation. --Dschwen (talk) 16:07, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for openly expressing your views about Russavia, Dschwen. As you are one of the tiny handful of active Commons bureaucrats that have a duty to show community leadership on Commons, is there a reason that you were unable to take justifiable action against Russavia on his main project with the evidence you had for this "absolutely toxic contributor", and instead have abdicated responsibility to WMF legal? -- (talk) 17:22, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I am taking the liberty of expressing my personal opinion on this wiki, where I am not a crat. I do not have to wear this hat every second of every day. I will not be bullied into being quiet, I will, however, choose not to interact with you during my hatless time :-) (for the benefit of both our blood pressures!). Over and out. --Dschwen (talk) 17:57, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
I do apologise if my question appears to be bullying to your eyes. It was intended to be a straightforward question to one of our leaders with the highest trusted rights on Commons. I had hoped for a straightforward answer on the presumption that leadership comes with responsibility for the project. Thanks -- (talk) 18:49, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
It is always good to name the user directly without using planters comments sentimentality and resentment. Here was locked globally by a "completely logical reason", however, never explained not even who has been blocked. This behavior is typical of totalitarian regimes. Remembering that "toxic contributor" is a phrase Jimbo to commons community. "I should be clear - the problem is not the abuse of me, but the toxic and juvenile ... problem.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 23:04, 14 October 2014 (UTC)" --The Photographer (talk) 17:52, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
SJ, can you please create a "staff policy" template (and category) as you did on some time ago? This is not the first time WMF staff creates confusion about the scope of some documents. --Nemo 18:48, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Good idea, done. SJ talk  08:43, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Commons - User:Russavia

Hi all, I have a question. From my recent edits, you will notice I changed the User:Russavia/Flickr-letter/nl-informal. I noticed Russavia has been blocked globally and I was wondering if the text of the Flickr letters should be adapted accordingly. Something like: I was an editor on Wikipedia and an admin on Wikimedia Commons. Thank you for your time. Lotje (talk) 14:47, 4 February 2015 (UTC)

It seems irrelevant now as these will not be used again, apart from the fact that if you appear to represent Russavia in any way, you risk being officially but secretly investigated by WMF employees. For that reason I would not touch these with a barge-pole. -- (talk) 15:25, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
That's fine by me, only wanted to be helpful. Lotje (talk) 15:32, 4 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Lotje, Fae is right that they simply won't be used again. SJ talk  08:43, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Resolution on superprotect

Hello, Letter to Wikimedia Foundation: Superprotect and Media Viewer is reaching 1000 signatories and the board has never said anything on the matter (only the chair did). I give you one week to put the topic on the agenda for March meeting; after that, I'll propose a resolution myself and will ask all board members to put it up for voting.

As you are starting Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Thinking about the WMF Board composition, I find it very worrying that thousands of active contributors will only react thinking "ah, yes, WMF, the entity which superblocks us; ah, yes, the board, the thing which never does anything". If the board wants someone to care about it, it needs to get something done. --Nemo 07:29, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Hi Nemo, are you most concerned about how the board talks about the letter, or about how the underlying issues are addressed? The Board reviewed these issues - technical engagement with the community, respect and appreciation, releasing products once they are ready and not before, and include community feedback continuously in the release process, including the definition of blockers that preclude deployment - at the February Board meeting, with Damon. Most of the underlying issues have already been brought up; and I have great confidence that Damon will handle them attentively and with grace.
We did not review details of the media viewer rollout in particular (we used the Visual Editor rollout as a richer case study). However to my knowledge, all of the features and bugs identified after the fact as blockers have since been addressed - if not perfectly, then well enough for the bug filers. Do you know otherwise? This sort of technical consultation needs to be implemented continuously, and I understand it will happen soon across the board. If you find yourself leaving a 'here we go again' comment for any reason, you might compile links to those on a Technical Rollout Feedback page on mw: so they can be resolved promptly.
Communicating with those who care about the topic is important, and has been done spottily. It would be good to compile a summary of where things stand now, with input from the communities that cared deeply about it, those who triaged the public requests, and Damon. I'm not sure that an official response to the letter will help. Feel free to move this section to the talk page there; and other suggestions are welcome. SJ talk  08:43, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
The simple fact is that more than 1000 stakeholders (including some who signed the letter on; about 900 at the time of formal delivery) made a request -- and got no official response -- not even a "we hear you, but we know better than you" response. No board member, no executive, ever publicly or privately even acknowledged receiving the letter (which I delivered on September 9). I do not know what aspect in particular Nemo bis thinks needs discussing, but the idea that the Board has not produced any public response at all is simply baffling. The process stuff you say you discussed at a meeting is nice, but does not address the simple requests of the letter. Perhaps WMF leadership thinks the underlying issues will take care of themselves; if so, I think history will prove you wrong. -Pete F (talk) 02:37, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Nemo, it sounds like a threat. Pete, I wouldn't assume that the board is conducting itself in relation to this matter with anything less than good faith. Please also note that 1000 people signing something is not the same as community opinion as a whole. A complex set of issues are involved, and it's hard to see how signatories are acting as one voice in relation to all of them; a single petition statement can also inadvertently be associated with confirmation bias and peer effects. The board has access to expertise in the relevant areas, and has to weigh up competing requirements. Tony (talk) 03:26, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Threat? Not to my eyes. I think you would have to assume bad faith to read it that way. As far as the WMF board, I not only assume good faith, I am absolutely convinced that the board members I know act with good faith. Merely having good faith, however, is an egregiously low criterion for the actions of an entity charged with supporting and maximizing Wikimedia's potential. -Pete F (talk) 22:09, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
I support you (Nemo) and Pete fully. Unfortunately, reality shows that the Board is in full control and support of everything WMF does and did, but they always carefully try to hide their real power and decisions; likewise Jimbo hides behind the Board, although he is - in my eyes - in full control of nearly anything the Board does, thus also anything WMF does. The ridiculously pseudo-elections for some of the board members are only the sweet pill for the communities and the tool for Jimbo to pretend he is not the de-facto CEO of the whole Wikiverse. To accomplish what most users expect to be a collaborative and community-driven project we would need far more democratic entities and rules. Therefore, more contributors and readers would firstly need to understand the current structures. --Trofobi (talk) 19:05, 28 February 2015 (UTC)

It is now fourteen months since the Board mandated this policy and yet it has not yet been brought into force. No doubt the Board are well aware of this and are receiving regular updates on the factors that make it impossible for WMF to comply with the Board's mandate: equally we presume that the Board are satisfied with the explanation for non-compliance that they are receiving. Would the Board please ensure that the community share those updates and explanations, preferably by way of frequent if brief updates at Talk:Access to nonpublic information policy. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 10:59, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

Move for closure of a proposal

Proposals_for_closing_projects/Move_Beta_Wikiversity_to_Incubator#Move for closure I believe that this conversation has gone on for plenty of time to assess the feasibility, community consensus, relative strengths of discussions, etc. regarding closing beta.wv and incorporating its content into Meta and Incubator as appropriate. I hope that someone here can put to rest the conversation there and either a.) have us move on and let beta.wv be or b.) let us get started with winding down beta.wv. —Justin (koavf)TCM 04:15, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

@Justin, let me check how to close this issue best. Will come back to you soon. Alice Wiegand (talk) 20:36, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
We should have a community process for closing proposals for new projects & for closing projects. And a dev contact who can carry out the details required to flip the relevant switches. It's not a board task. But if that doesn't exist, perhaps we can help create one. SJ talk  23:22, 17 June 2015 (UTC)
There is a process, it seems that there is no member of WMF staff responsible for monitoring those discussions and implementing them, and there is no way that the volunteer community can find out who is responsible for doing what. Perhaps the Board might want to look into that. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 16:20, 28 June 2015 (UTC)
@Justin, the Community Engagement team, in this case Philippe is figuring out details, in general my understanding is that it's in the scope of Language committee to deal with closure proposals. As I see on the proposal's talk page, it might bot be as clear as I thought. I propose to follow the discussion there. Alice Wiegand (talk) 15:06, 29 June 2015 (UTC)

How to petition the board

Hi, I'm here to ask a board member what a group of Wikipedians needs to do to petition the board over an issue – that is, how to get a proposal on the table for the board to discuss. Any advice would be much appreciated. Sarah (SV) talk 21:57, 16 July 2015 (UTC)

With respect to a formal answer from the board as a whole I am not sure. I know personally that if an issue is 1) within the scope of the board 2) a clear community consensus around the issue is presented I will be happy to bring it forwards as an individual board member. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:04, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
That's very encouraging, thank you for that commitment. Could I ask that you interpret "consensus" to mean consensus that the issue needs a decision, not necessarily what that decision is: it may well be that there is significant support both for and against a proposal and that what is required is for the Board to resolve community tensions by a decision one way or the other. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:51, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
While I am happy to bring community consensus forwards I am not sure the board should resolve disagreements within the community. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 09:34, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 10:08, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm just wondering, but if a consensus has been determined, why would it need to go to the board? Reguyla (talk) 13:10, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Some things such as a new group of functionaries can be created by the WMF other things may need the support of the WMF. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:39, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Also, occasionally communities may be in disagreement with the WMF, and the Board may serve as an intermediary. I will be happy to help, if cases approved by local communities require the Board's attention. Pundit (talk) 13:50, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification but after seeing the fallout from superprotect, mediaviewer and Visual Editor and how the community didn't want them, but were basically forced to use them, at least for a while, makes me think the intentions of the statement may not be how it actually works. Communities come to a consensus all the time and sometimes they are just ignored because the people who don't want it won't allow it. Reguyla (talk) 14:17, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
Last week I've taken up an initiative (supported by James as well) to resolve the SuperProtect issue. We are working on the solution hand in hand with the WMF, and it is my honest belief that the Foundation is willing to address it. My expectation is to come up with a sensible solution within the next year or sooner (not because it is so difficult, but because it takes time; nevertheless I do not anticipate SuperProtect to be used any time soon, anyway). Pundit (talk) 15:36, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
On the issue of VE I see it as wanted, just initially poorly rolled out. It now has support for being turned on on EN Wikipedia by default. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:57, 25 July 2015 (UTC)
True on both counts, thanks. Personally I don't think its ever been in doubt that the WMF had the ability to do certain things (like super protect a page) I think it was a matter of how it was done, when it was done and why. With regard to VE I agree 10%. Its something that the communities have been asking for an the current version is pretty good. Personally I would now support it being turned on in ENWP as well but it has been about 2 years since it was prematurely released so thats still likely to be on a lot of peoples minds. Reguyla (talk)
I totally agree. VE is actually really good now. I mean, really good. Even veteran editors can benefit from it (e.g. because of better reference management). But it was rolled out prematurely, and using SP to force it was just a mistake. All in all, most communities have enough common sense to accept stuff, when it is ready and useful - forcing anything down their throat is not such a great move then. I hope we'll be able to build a proper procedure around SP, since it is also a useful tool (as was shown on wiki-data already). Pundit (talk) 07:19, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
The only major thing I wish VE did that it doesn't know is make it more obvious you are in editor mode. if they decreased the color of the background by 10% or something it would be great. Its hard to tell sometimes when your in editor mode and there were a couple times I accidentally changed something because I didn't realize it. Reguyla (talk) 13:28, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
BTW, it was the media viewer not VE that SP was used for :) just straightening it after a talk with Jan-Bart. Pundit (talk) 13:40, 29 July 2015 (UTC)

Vandalizm in Azwiki

Have vandalizm here. Please protect that page. We do not have arbitration and appellate courts. To whom should I complain? With whom I will discuss? Can you answer my question? If local sysops vandals. Steward writes:the stewards are not going to be able to assist with this.?! --Idin Mammadof 17:06, 11 August 2015 (UTC)

You already brought the issue up here Stewards'_noticeboard#Vandalizm_in_Azwiki Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 02:11, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
It did not answer my question?! --Idin Mammadof 8:34, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Going from notice board to notice board is not very useful. You have posted in half a dozen places know.
I am still waiting for you to answer my question here Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 08:48, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
I will answer any question? Where is the question? --Idin Mammadof 10:34, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
I linked to it link is here Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:38, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. Idin Mammadof 20:44, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

Code of conduct for technical spaces

There is a discussion at mw:Talk:Code_of_conduct_for_technical_spaces/Draft#Governance about whether the Board should be the ultimate authority for the code and its enforcement. Informal opinions as to whether this is something the Board wishes to take on would help the drafting process. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:38, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

Form 990

The Audit committee at their March meeting wmf:Audit Committee/2015-03-16 referred to this update being ready for the Board by the 15 May and then refers to "a public inspection copy will be posted online". There is nothing at wmf:Financial reports, which has forms to FY2013-14, or in wmf:Category:Form 990. More than three months later, is this report yet ready to be posted? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:47, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

The audit committee's minutes refer to the FY2013-14 version, which was posted on WMF's wiki in July 2015. So that's self-consistent. Presumably it takes quite a lot of work to fill in the 990 form each year. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 20:44, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for that. For some reason the minutes gave me the impression that there were two 990s being talked about, the 13-14 version and another. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:16, 28 August 2015 (UTC)

Is this page being monitored, or are suggestions no longer wanted? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 19:54, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

I think that it is always good to keep the conversation going - after all, we are going to have two new appointed members soon, then chapter nominations, then community elections, and so forth. Pundit (talk) 16:18, 19 September 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for that. If you want a wider range of suggestions, you may wish to consider publicising that discussion more widely. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:29, 19 September 2015 (UTC)

Please Submit Questions for Board Q&A

Saturday July 18th the Board will hold its annual Board Q&A. Although the session will not be broadcast live we do want to take questions from this noticeboard (and either answer them over there, or over here). From what I understand the session will be streamed at a later stage. So please feel free to add your question below! Jan-Bart (talk) 15:41, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

(PS: I have given some answers, asked clarifying questions below Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC))

I am slightly confused about how this works. Jan-Bart, where you are giving answers here, are the questions rejected for Wikimania? There seems to be an automatic presumption that your answers are speaking for all board members, which was not how I thought this community engagement had worked in previous years. Thanks -- (talk) 13:46, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
As always: my aim is to confuse you :) Experience teaches us that we cannot answer all questions during the session. And last year we also answered several questions online as I recall (just after the fact). In this case I am answering some, asking for clarification on some, ignoring others and we (the board( will sit down somewhere before the Q&A session as a board to see which ones are good picks. Honestly some of the questions here are very complex and cannot be answered in a Q&A session... Other board members will chime in when they have the time, so far I am alone :) Jan-Bart (talk) 22:07, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
Tangent alert - I used "confused" out of a form of British softness when posing a question, it is intended to be polite rather than political or literal. Directness is easier to understand, though being abrupt can seem rude. -- (talk) 22:36, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Fae and all, here is how it will work: we will get questions from audience members. We will also take a couple of questions from this page -- how many depends on time. They might be questions Jan-Bart has addressed, or they might not be. We won't answer all questions, but will try to pick the ones that seem both most relevant to actual board work and that are of the broadest interest for the audience. -- phoebe | talk 16:43, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
What a shame! It would have been such a powerful statement if you had undertaken to answerall the questions on this board, or at least ensure that they were answered, even if the answer were only to be "We are not going to answer that question because of [whatever reason]". What a clear demonstration of the Wikimedia Foundation Guiding Principles on Transparency and Accountability that would have been! Can we not persuade you to reverse that decision and commit to such a great gesture of openness? 19:33, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
We did deal with some of the questions and some were answered on this page. Don't forget that this was also an opportunity for those present to ask their questions.Jan-Bart (talk) 09:49, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
I "think" that this was recorded, but I am not sure. There will be no other feedback I am afraid. I for one intend to go through some of these questions again and see if I can answer some, but will ignore those that are not really board matters or those that clearly do not assume good faith. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:49, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
I see. I commend Jan-Bart for his frankness although I find the Board's position on this -- "There will be no other feedback" -- plain rude. A set of questions are raised here in good faith, and the Board announces that they consciously and deliberately intend to ignore them. Please tell us, does the Board actually intend to insult the community, or does it simply not care whether it is being insulting or not? Does the Board feel that communication with the community who support the whole enterprise by their work is optional? Are the WMF Resolutions/Wikimedia Foundation Guiding Principles such as Transparency, Accountability and Shared power now optional for the Board? Does the Board actually think that items 3, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20 and 21 have nothing to do with them? Or does it take the view that they clearly were not asked in good faith? Since I raised some of those questions myself, I find that the latter implication of bad faith a direct personal insult, and call on you and the Board to withdraw it. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 20:59, 7 August 2015 (UTC)
I do not know about anyone else here, but I just thought I would inform you that the universe does not revolve around you. As someone who once had the dubious privilege of working on the Board communications queue(s), they get a firehose of things directed at them. Most of them are being elevated from normal channels due to perceived lack of response. They simply cannot, humanly, deal with every issue directed toward them, which is why they annually take a relatively brief moment to engage in a tête-à-tête with those active community members who are able and willing to attend the Wikimania. That they even considered any of the online questions I think was very ill-advised; it was cutting into an already too-brief moment of time.
The board members have tough jobs which are both ultimately futile and generally thankless. There isn't a chance I would ever want their responsibilities and tasks, not for all the wine or stroopwaffels in Europe. And you are proving yourself to be exactly the kind of demotivator which convinced me to turn down even the hint of an offer. In my opinion you should step back and ask yourself why you think you are worth the amount of time you are demanding from the Board. But feel free to continue as you are going. </rant> - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 22:43, 7 August 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for your views. My comment was about the way the Board treats the community. I think that on this occasion it was rude. I agree with you that it was ill-advised to embark on a course of action that they were not prepared to follow through on. It the Board wishes to revoke its unanimous resolution of 30 May 2013, and abandon the guiding principles I mentioned and on which they were elected -- and which I think they have not lived up to very well in this little exercise -- then they should do so explicitly and see what happens at the next community election. Of course it is not easy running an organisation in an open transparent way, but that is what they and we aspire to. This is the forum for discussions with the Board,on matters including communications and strategy, which is what I am interested in, and for frank and constructive comments, which I try to give. Personal comments about other community members are not, I suggest, useful here. So let me ask you to address your posting to the issue here. Do you wish to comment to the Board that they should not ask the community for questions in this way at all? Or is it your view that the Board did well in asking for questions and then announcing that they propose to ignore them? Is the relationship between the community at large an the Board in a good state, and did this exercise improve it or not? How would you suggest the Board improve its communications with the community, or do you judge that they are already optimal? Please enlighten us and them -- I am sure the Board will pay as much attention to your views as they do to mine or those of any other member of the community. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 06:42, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
In the spirit of constructive comment wherever possible, let me encourage Jan-Bart, who personally has been willing to engage here, which is appreciated, and other Board members to say why they decline to answer questions when they can. This will help the community in the future to articulate better targeted and more useful questions. For example, where questions are about matters that the board does not cover, or has specifically delegated to another body or person, or cannot discuss in public, it helps to know that, so that the questions may be better addressed. Just answering questions in an accessible and permanent form makes it quicker to point to answers should those questions be asked again, as they undoubtedly will be. If the Board are overwhelmed, then the community may wish to step forward and assist with triaging or drafting FAQ lists or monitoring certain talk pages; they may even encourage the Foundation to spend money on staff tasked with helping the Board manage their community engagement. They may be encouraged to stand themselves in future to help. But no answer at all is never likely to produce a constructive dialogue. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:56, 8 August 2015 (UTC)


  1. Does the Board think that the WMF and the community have adequate structures, processes and resources in place for the degree of Innovation needed to take the projects forward over the next five years? If not, what action does the Board propose to take? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:44, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
    There is no board position, but I personally feel that Innovation is in safe hands with our Executive Director. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:51, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
  2. Does the Board think that adequate structures, processes and resources are in place right now for constructive interaction between the volunteer community and WMF staff in the area of technical development? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:44, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
    There is no board position, but I personally think that this is an priority which has been adequately identified by our Executive Director. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:51, 29 July 2015 (UTC)
  3. Has the Board reviewed the last fundraising campaign, taking the results of the survey and comments on mailing lists and Signpost into account? Does the Board think in retrospect that the campaign was compliant with the basis of the fundraising principles? Will the Board change the direction of the next campaign as a result? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:43, 9 July 2015 (UTC)
  4. Do board members feel that Wikimedia culture has a problem with truthfulness? To give two examples, the fundraising messages during the last fundraising drive were widely criticised on the mailing lists for being misleading. Do you accept that there is a problem with the fundraising messages? More recently, WMF board member Jimmy Wales told Guardian readers in an article calling for political action on image rights that "Wikipedia only uses freely licensed images" – a statement that probably made his message more compelling, but suffers from the drawback of being blatantly false. Do you condone this sort of messaging? Andreas JN466 09:28, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Personal opinion here, Specifically referring to the statements by Jimmy. I think that in order to have a powerful message you sometimes have to sacrifice some nuance. In this case I think the threat of awful legislation was very real, and we (amongst many others) were able to draw attention to it and thankfully the proposal did not become law. Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    This personal opinion sounds rather like saying that the end justifies the means. It will be interesting to hear what the other Board members think. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:14, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Agreed. As you are aware, Jan-Bart, this was not the only problem with the July 3rd Guardian op-ed. If you look at it today, there is a fat correction at the bottom, apparently placed by Guardian editors. (Before, after.) The correction reads, "This article was amended on 8 July 2015. An earlier version said that the European parliament is currently engaged in the adoption of some copyright reforms, which, if accepted, would mean that the freedom of panorama would be restricted throughout all EU states. In addition it also said that “this is the last chance” to stop the proposal becoming law. This has been corrected." In other words, everything you've just read in italics was false or misleading enough to require a correction. It is extremely rare for the Guardian to add a correction to a "Comment is Free" op-ed. Do you really feel that suffering the embarrassment of being corrected by a newspaper that has a long history of reporting favourably on Wikipedia is making Wikimedia's messaging more "powerful"? This is hot on the heels of the Shapps story. The Press Gazette reported the other day that the BBC had apologised to Shapps for giving too much credence to a story that originated from a Wikimedia UK staffer. Like the Guardian, the BBC has a long history of reporting positively on Wikipedia. By condoning it when people take liberties with the truth, you are dicing with the Wikimedia brand's reputation, at least here in the UK. Up to you if you want to do that. Andreas JN466 15:50, 11 July 2015 (UTC)
  5. It took the WMF over a year to find a VP of Engineering under the assumption that he will work together with a VP of Product. Some time after he was found, the VP of Product left and his role was merged with VP of Engineering. The new VP of Engineering started implementing a major reorganization, and shortly after starting the same he suddenly stopped working for the Foundation. It took more time to find the VP of Engineering than the time that he actually worked as one. According to the Executive Director's communication on the matter, no new VP of Engineering or Product is expected to fill his role any time soon. For an organization that executes a lot of software development, such frequent engineering course changes are very puzzling. It doesn't help that there was very little public communication about the reasons for any of them from the Executive Director, and even less from the Board. Is the Board sure that this is the right way to manage the Engineering work of the Wikimedia Foundation? --Dhoj Besra (talk) 15:25, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    If this was a trend then we are right to be concerned. In this case I think Erik (VP Product) made it very clear why he choose to leave, and as mentioned there will be no details about the departure of the VP of Engineering... But I think your N=1 here? Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    I'm not sure what do you mean when you write "N=1". I understand that the reasons for the departure of the latest VP of Engineering are supposed to remain private and I am not asking for them. But I do feel that there is, indeed, a worrying trend here - whatever the reasons are, the leadership of Engineering is in flux for a long time, and it's unclear how and when will things stabilise. Maybe an answer to my question about the CTO will make things clearer. --Dhoj Besra (talk) 18:26, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    N=1 means that your sample is one, so I am implying that there is not really a trend? Jan-Bart (talk) 09:25, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  6. Related to the previous question, why is the search for the Chief Technical Officer prioritized over the search for a VP of Engineering? Will the CTO be responsible for product development, for maintenance of the servers and the current software's internals, or will he lead both? --Dhoj Besra (talk) 15:25, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  7. Can the Board kindly explain the recent resolutions that give the Executive Director various financial privileges, such as wmf:Resolution:Amendment to the Delegations of Financial and Spending Authority and wmf:Resolution:Delegations of Financial and Spending Authority? They sound boring and bureaucratic, but all the more, talking about millions of dollars in a non-profit that says that it is committed to transparency and governed by the community requires clearer and wider communication. --Dhoj Besra (talk) 15:25, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    So when you say recent you linked to 2013/2012 resolutions? Or am I missing something. Actually these resolutions allow the right people within the foundation to execute these transactions (which are part of their responsibilities)... Not sure why this is an issue Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Sorry, my mistake. I was reading similar past resolutions and linked to them instead of the recent ones: wmf: Resolution:Second amendment to the Delegations of Financial and Spending Authority and wmf: Resolution:Updated Brokerage Account Authorizations. About the second one, I can understand that it is something to do with money and investments, but it would be nice to explain what a "Brokerage Account" is to people who don't know the American legal and business language well. Wikipedia didn't help. The amendments to the delegation of financial and spending authority are also written in a very legal language that is hard to understand. So I would love to have a readable explanation of what does this mean in general, and why were amendments needed. (For that matter, the older resolutions are just as opaque.) --Dhoj Besra (talk) 18:26, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    On that subject, @Jan-Bart, the Foundation pages on both those resolutions currently violate the Board of Trustees Voting Transparency resolution from 30 March 2012. In fact, this is also the case with the Annual Plan 2015-16 resolution as well as others, including the Jan-Bart de Vreede reappointment 2013 and Stu West reappointment 2013 resolutions which I have been trying to get information on since January 2014 (ie. 17 months ago). odder (talk) 19:10, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Hey Odder, I think you mean that the individual votes are missing from the resolution? That is strange indeed, I will find out why. As I recall all three of those were unanimous, but it is still better to be very explicit about each of the votes. I will look into it.(Dohj, I will also ask someone from the foundation to explain the terminology rather than trying to do it myself :) Jan-Bart (talk) 09:28, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  8. As an example of embracing a diversity of viewpoints; for each board member, can you name a community issue that you have pursued or still are, that you believe is not popular with the majority of the WMF board? -- (talk) 16:16, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Fae, this is based on the assumption that there are several community issues which fall under the "governance" role of the board. My estimate is that the vast majority of community issues fall within the responsibility of Foundation Staff? Or am I missing something? Jan-Bart (talk) 17:40, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    The WMF Board owns the strategy, and the CEO produces a plan to deliver on it. Lila's recent announcement of the Annual Plan[2] reiterated that the strategic "core" is two things "community and technology". In the Board's role as the owner of the strategy and your continuous role of oversight, you have a guiding vision for the community aspects of the strategy and you determine whether your CEO is delivering on them. If there are members of the board that feel they are specialized and have no viewpoint or special passion on community issues and improvement, that's fine they can say so. I would be surprised that applies to all members of the board, and I know it does not apply to the incoming trustees. My question is fishing for evidence that the Board is adding value through meaningful discussion or even difficult debate, and is not always just nodding things through unchanged, hence the "name one thing you do not readily agree on" format to avoid "we all love apple pie" type responses.   Thanks for asking so quickly for a clarification. -- (talk) 18:05, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Ok, that is a broader question which I can answer on. As you can see from a lot of resolutions we do not always agree. Sometimes we disagree and then work to a compromise and then try to get a unanimous vote. And sometime we simply go with a majority. I know you want more specific examples, but I would rather keep it general. A little but more in the past: there was strong discussion on the 2 year "programatic activity" requirement in order to become a chapter, as there still is on the "how to (s)elect community seats" discussion (by the way, there is no discussion on keeping the majority of the seats "community" seats. Not sure that helps, but its all I can give you... Jan-Bart (talk) 09:35, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  9. Is the Board satisfied with the progress implementing the access to nonpublic information policy, mandated 14 months ago? Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:17, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  10. What are the Board's views on having the WMF staff multi-centred? For example, would the Board support having an office in London to tap into the tech areas around Old Street and the Knowledge Campus? If the WMF is seeking to expand its technical innovation, that could be an exciting option. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:48, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
  11. It is nearly a year since Superprotect was implemented. It is deeply divisive. Will the Board oversee its removal? - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 18:58, 10 July 2015 (UTC)
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the Superprotect feature has been invoked exactly once at the very beginning? I refer you to Lila's page on the whole discussion on that, but I doubt that it is highly divisive at this point. I think that the super protect feature is something that falls within the domain of our Executive Director, whom I trust to have good judgment. I would personally never vote for or against a specific feature of Mediawiki software, unless this is at the specific request of the Executive Director, it simply is not our job. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:40, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
    I am aware of at least two uses of the Superprotect feature1. As far as I am aware, there is no public way to monitor its use, so I do not know if it has been used more than twice. This is not a feature of the Mediawiki software, per se, but a function created and implemented specifically to over-rule community consensus. As such it constitutes a conflict between the executive and the community, making it a board decision. - Amgine/meta wikt wnews blog wmf-blog goog news 00:05, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  12. Was referred to the board with the following question regarding the terms and conditions surrounding partnerships:
    The English Wikipedia community / Arbcom has repeatedly affirmed that it is unwilling to observe the standards set out in US law for a non-hostile working environment for volunteers, and supports the use of gender-related and sexual profanity in the administrative and enforcement areas of this website. Why do you believe that institutions supported by US taxpayer money should put up with this poor treatment of volunteers as a condition of participation on the website? -- Djembayz (talk) 23:23, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

    Does the Board support the use of gender-related and sexual profanity in the administrative, enforcement, and talk pages of this website? --Djembayz (talk) 23:27, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

    What is the Board's position on creating a sexual harassment policy that covers online volunteers? Is the Board comfortable with the fact that there is currently no sexual harassment policy covering online volunteers? Does the Board see itself playing a role in creating, approving, or reviewing such a policy? --Djembayz (talk) 11:21, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
    Does the Board feel that online volunteers deserve the same anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections as paid staff? If not, why not? --Djembayz (talk) 11:21, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  13. Does the Board feel that more than enough time has been given for all Wikimedia websites to have complied with the 2007 resolution on licensing policy, i.e. adopt an Exemption Doctrine Policy (EDP) for local file uploads? As of July 2015, there are 51 wikis that have or are close to having EDPs, but there are at least 85 wikis that each host more than a thousand images each and a grand total of about 2.3 million non-free files. Is the Board aware of the extent of this problem and if so, will the Board be prepared to act immediately to resolve it? For a number of years, some of us have proposed a solution that crystallised last year in a proposal for a NonFreeWiki, which could act as a central repository in the same way as Commons but with a focus in ensuring that non-free content is being used appropriately. A particular problem is that we often have duplicate copies of images, e.g. we still have 36 copies of a promotional poster for the Titanic movie, of which 16 were on wikis without EDP's. Centralizing such content would ensure that the WMF resolution is complied with. Green Giant (talk) 11:50, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
  14. Does the Board feel that the Fundraising Principles, which the Board formally adopted in 2012, have been adhered to in recent years? (see the various principled as we as specific complaints compiled at Talk:Fundraising principles). If not, then do you believe that these principles need strengthening/adjusting as a result? Wittylama (talk) 13:23, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  15. Would you agree that the WMF should follow the same standards, or higher, financial planning and public scrutiny that it enforces (via the FDC process) for the Annual Plan Grant system? If so, what steps will the Board take to ensure this happens in the future? (For comparison, this year's WMF annual plan had 2 days' public scrutiny for a 14page PDF valuing $65m, that includes the ability to fundraise 20% more than the approved budget - while APG chapters must meet much higher standards of detail, for much less money, for much longer periods of scrutiny). Wittylama (talk) 13:23, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  16. Last year the Board chairman made a public statement [3] which he warned us "might not represent the view of the entire board" to the effect that if experienced and long-standing members of the community who did not approve of decisions of the Foundation with respect to the imposition of new software decided to leave "that might be the way things have to be", since "We want to attract new editors. They don’t have to become heavy editors, they could even contribute once in a while, as long as we get lots of them." Has the Board reviewed and discussed that statement in its entirety and to what extent, if any, does the statement reflect the overall strategic view of the Board? 20:37, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
    Being the author of that statement (actually they are two different opinions within it) I still stand by it, and no we did not discuss it extensively or come to a conclusion as to whether or not this is the entire boards opinion. Frankly #:I think it is unlikely that everyone on the board would agree with this, but it is my personal opinion. Jan-Bart (talk) 22:11, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
  17. I notice the Foundation is building an endowment fund. Is this the result of a board resolution or is it an initiative of the ED? (I'm open-minded on its merits. I used to think it was a bad idea - that the Foundation should be perpetually reliant on ongoing goodwill of our readers, and if donations ever dried up it would be a sign that the WMF no longer deserved to exist. But the ED's comments at Wikimania 2014 have given me pause for thought: funding might dry up for reasons independent of the Foundation's performance.) Regardless of the answer to this question, could you please explain the reasons behind the decision? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 22:40, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
    This is one of those things that have come up several times over the past years. The Foundation put a serious proposal before the board after a few preliminary discussions at the february meeting. The minutes are here. The formal approval has not taken place but there are already steps being taken. I am not sure if the board is going to have a specific resolution on this in the coming months, but I think that this is likely. Jan-Bart (talk) 01:44, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
    Thank you, Jan-Bart. I can understand Lisa Seitz-Gruwell (Chief Revenue Officer) and Garfield Byrd (Chief of Finance and Administration) thinking this is a good idea, and they seem to be driving it. I did ask what the thinking is behind this initiative. Why does the board think it's a good idea for the WMF to live on forever, regardless of the quality of the job it does?

    Giving the Foundation a guaranteed income until the end of time will effectively prevent a younger fresher smarter leaner more responsive team from challenging you for the privilege of serving the content creators and curators - or at least make such a challenge almost impossibly difficult. A large endowment will likely saddle us with you, no matter how poor your performance, until hell freezes over. And in the unlikely event that a challenge succeeds, what will you do with the endowment when the articles, images and other data that we make is being accessed by the world on someone else's site, while your site is a clunky clone languishing on page 15 of Google? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 10:20, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

    I think that this is the most negative way of possibly looking at the concept of an endowment, and I am tempted to just leave it at that.... BUT... the performance of the Foundation itself is constantly under review by both the community, board and our donors. To be clear: an endowment is likely to generate enough income to keep the lights on (unlikely to be near current budget). Also: an endowment allows us to reach new donors that like to leave money specifically for long term purposes that an endowment represents. Jan-Bart (talk) 16:35, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
    Well, yes, it's negative - It's a worst case and a sound argument against an endowment - the only sound argument I'm aware of. I'm still wavering but I think the ED's implicit (if I've inferred correctly) warning in her Wikimania speech trumps it: that due to more prominent reuse of our work by others such as Google - but not only Google - we may suffer such a significant drop in page views that our ability to raise sufficient funds from banners is threatened.

    On your point about raising large tied donations, please don't if you don't have to - and you don't. There is a huge smell over the Belfer donations and nothing is as free of smell as tens of thousands of small donations from our readers. Again, I can see why your fundraising staff would want to focus on big fat lump sums - it's the usual model - but Wikipedia isn't the usual nonprofit. We are in a position (at least for now) to invite millions of our very grateful readers to donate, and so far they've given us what we ask for.

    As others have said above, please direct your fundraising staff to not mislead our readers in the next round. It is really immoral. It makes me ashamed, but it is also just stupid to insult the very people we're serving and on whom the WMF depends for its survival. If they can't generate enough funds from our very grateful readers without misleading them, then you need a new fundraising team. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 22:12, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

    I am sorry, but you are jumping to so many conclusions which i do not agree with (and mixing up discussions) that I think going into each one of them is not going to help this discussion. Bottom line: an endowment is something we as a board have discussed several times over the years. We are now in a position fortunate enough to start this, and once the details are worked out we see if this is something that fits with our movement. Jan-Bart (talk) 22:24, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
    I came back to correct "focus" - obviously the fundraisers aren't focussed just on lump sums - but you had already responded. I'm sorry if I misunderstood where the initiative for the endowment fund lies. You'll ignore my last paragraph at your peril. Thank you for your time. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 22:35, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
  18. The WMF has a number of vacancies in senior leadership roles. Does the Board believe that satisfactory procedures are in place to ensure the strategic leadership of the Foundation? 21:18, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  19. Has the Board reviewed the political lobbying and campaigning activities of the WMF? Is it satisfied that those activities adequately represent the expressed will of the community? 21:23, 15 July 2015 (UTC)
  20. Has the Board reviewed the actions of the WMF in the "monkey selfie" affair? Does the Board believe the WMF has behaved honourably towards the photographer in question and the macaque conservation programme? 06:19, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  21. A longstanding arbitrator on the English Wikipedia said yesterday, My view is that many of the encyclopedia's structures and policies are less fit for purpose than they were five years ago. My own view is that trust and safety issues - outing, doxxing, harassment, anonymous etc - should be handled not by a bunch of part-timers but by experienced professionals people with a budget for legal assistance for victims. Many of the problems would go away if people understood that their actions would have likely consequences, and that they might find themselves in court, facing either criminal charges or civil proceedings for restraining orders and damages. And the outcome was publicised.  Roger Davies talk 01:09, 15 July 2015 (UTC) Another editor says she has been receiving rape and murder threats for years (as have many other editors in the relevant topic area), even though the Foundation is fully aware of the perpetrator's name and location. Is the Wikimedia Foundation doing enough in this area? Will you do more, and if so, what and when? Andreas JN466 15:59, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
  22. Many of the WMF projects including the flagship English Wikipedia have ongoing and long term issues with questionable and abusive admin behavior. This has led to a few desysoppings and ban's but the process to desysop an admin on most projects is so hard that most people just stop editing and leave the sites rather than deal with it. Is the WMF board willing to create an external, WMF process of oversight for the admins and functionaries that will be able to intervene and remove some of these problematic admins and functionaries or will they allow these problems to continue to affect the recruiting, retention and attrition of editors on the projects? Reguyla (talk) 15:41, 8 August 2015 (UTC)
I do not see it as the WMF's role to get involved in admin oversight on large projects. Some oversight is likely needed on small projects though, but I am still not convinced the WMF is the best organization to do it. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:35, 17 October 2015 (UTC)

Discussion of fundraising ethics

There is an ongoing discussion with Wikimedia Foundation "Director of Online Giving" MeganHernandez (WMF) here. Unfortunately, the discussion seems to be going nowhere, as Megan sidesteps key points at issue.

The key concern here is that the Foundation should not be using fundraising messages on its banners that, in the opinion of many community members, grossly mislead donors about the Foundation's current financial status.

Specifically, this concerns –

  • messages explicitly or implicitly threatening advertising if donors do not donate sufficient amounts of money,
  • messages suggesting that the Foundation is running out of funds to keep Wikipedia online, and/or
  • messages stating that "each year, just enough people donate to keep the sum of all human knowledge available for everyone".

For a sampling of community comments, see the March Signpost op-ed.

Full-screen banners recently reported to be in testing again use the same controversial approach. All indications are that the fundraising team also plans to use it in the main fundraiser.

Could the board, and in particular those board members who represent the volunteer community, look at this issue please and provide clear direction to the paid staff?

Failing that, could the board explain to the community and the general public why it should be okay to suggest to prospective donors that the Foundation needs $70 million this year to "keep Wikipedia online and ad-free another year", given that

Just to do the maths here: a quarter billion dollars is the equivalent of 100 years of internet hosting at the current rate. Andreas JN466 12:01, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Dear Andreas: on January 2012 the Board approved a resolution on fundraising principles, after an extended community consultation, and up to now, that is the direction we are giving to the staff regarding this issue. I read the whole discussion you are having about the next campaign and honestly, my feeling is that you are pushing the staff beyond the limits of those fundraising principles. Perhaps you do think that we should narrow or expand those principles, in that case you may create a proposal. But, to be clear, there's a direction from the Board, it is written in the form of a resolution and our staff is following that direction.
Anyway, I have a couple of comments to your request:
  • The term "Ad-free": This is what makes us unique from nearly every other information site on the Internet. Many sites are free to readers, but they are supported by ads. What makes us unique is that we are both free and ad-free. That is why we have to ask for donations and that is why people give. And, by the way, people don't always remember that we are ad-free. Some assume that we are supported by ads like most information sites. I strongly disagree that these are threatening ads. We say that we are able to keep WIkipedia ad-free because we are supported by reader donations. It explains why we need donations unlike most sites on the web.
  • "Keeping Wikipedia online" is not equivalent to "paying for servers" which is pretty narrow as a concept. Certainly the Operations Team, Legal, and many others have a hand in keeping Wikipedia online. It is not just server costs. The banner also says that our expenses include "staff, server, and programs." That is fair shorthand for our budget. We have never said that donations are only pay for servers. (Plus, our fundraising FAQ links to the audit and the annual plan for those who want a deeper understanding of our budget than what you can get from a banner). Patricio.lorente (talk) 18:51, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
    The fundraising direction includes the phrase "All Wikimedia fundraising activities must be truthful with prospective donors". It is the opinion of some members of the community that (i) there is an implied claim that the whole of the target sum of the fundraising campaign is required to keep Wikipedia online (ii) that claim, if it is indeed implied, is not correct. This is the issue at hand, I believe. From my point of view, (ii) is certainly correct, and I tend to agree with (i) as well. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 21:19, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
    • Thanks for the reply, and for making clear that the buck stops with you on this, rather than the paid staff, who are merely following your instructions. (Megan, in case you feel like piggy-in-the-middle, I acknowledge your position.)
    • Now, Patricio, banner wordings asking for donations to "keep Wikipedia online and ad-free (another year)" are widely perceived by readers and valued members of the community to indicate a shortage of money to "keep Wikipedia online and ad-free". I imagine that these wordings' efficacy in bringing in donations is based precisely on that, and that it is this efficacy which makes you so reluctant to abandon that turn of phrase. Can you give us comparative data about how fundraising banners with that wording perform vs. banners that do not contain it, or is that information secret?
    • The fact remains, though, that you are planning to ask donors for $73 million or more this year. That is almost twice as much money as you took four years ago, when page views for all Wikimedia projects combined were higher than they are at present, and three times as much money as you took five years ago – all under the same tag line of "keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free another year".
    • "Keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free" doesn't suddenly cost twice or three times as much as it did four or five years ago, does it? Is there any amount of money you'd feel ashamed to ask donors for with that tag line?
    • You have been, and are, expecting donors to finance a huge organisational expansion. The Foundation has gone from a dozen to over 300 paid staff (including chapter employees) in a few years. This is not identical to "keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free", especially given that ten years ago, Jimmy Wales used to boast that bandwidth was the Foundation's main cost, and that it could manage without employees altogether (time code 4:35), while in 2013, Sue Gardner expressed concern here in Meta that the WMF spent too much money without a clear, commensurate benefit to the reader/donor.
    • Donors aren't told about this 2,000% expansion of paid staff – even though according to the fundraising principles, they should: "All Wikimedia fundraising activities must be truthful with prospective donors. We need to tell people what we intend to use their money for, before they donate. And we need to report in a timely fashion on how it was actually spent."
    • Instead, they are told that "just enough people donate[d] to keep the sum of all human knowledge available for everyone". That translates into "Just enough people donated to keep the lights on" for any reasonable English-speaker, does it not? That's wrong.
    • The problem with the "Keep Wikipedia online and ad-free" wording is that there is no accountability. Lila and her team may well be spending the money wisely and effectively, but donors won't know. Donors are told that the money is used to keep Wikipedia available, so if the light stays on, they are satisfied – even though 90% of their money has, unbeknownst to them, gone somewhere else. That's not good. People should see what is done with their money. That way they can donate less if they don't like what you do, and donate more if they feel inspired by what you are doing. There is nothing about this here, only Wales' hoary advertising strawman and a bland reference to "Technology: servers, bandwidth, maintenance, development [...] People and Projects". The FAQ, linked to on that page and on some of the banners in a font size so small it is hardly legible with the naked eye, is a boilerplate text full of generalities that hardly changes from one year to the next.
    • Lila's foreword in the Annual Plan actually gives a better idea of what the money has been and will be spent on than that FAQ. I am sure her text could be still further optimised to turn it into a meaningful report to donors, in line with your existing fundraising principles, and thus serve to increase transparency. How about it? Andreas JN466 21:56, 28 August 2015 (UTC)
      • My personal position is that we need to look at stabilizing the WMF rather than continued growth at 20%.
      • We also need much greater clarity around what exactly the WMF is spending money on. Also my personal position.
      • Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:32, 17 October 2015 (UTC)

A Quick Poll

This is the noticeboard for the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.

I would like to take a quick poll to see how many current or former board members are reading this noticeboard.

No fair coming here because someone told you about this poll. You have to have come across it while reading the messages on this noticeboard. --Guy Macon (talk) 14:35, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

  • I have no intention of drawing any conclusion until at least three weeks go by, and I will likely wait at least six weeks. Coming to a conclusion that all or even most of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees don't read the Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard is a serious business, and I wouldn't want anyone to have even the slightest doubt concerning my conclusion. --Guy Macon (talk) 23:39, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

You can see in the history of this page that there are several board members joining the discussions or answering questions here. Is there anything you miss? Alice Wiegand (talk) 19:33, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

Toc. --Raystorm (talk) 13:11, 30 August 2015 (UTC)

The questions about fundraising in the preceding section have stood without response for a week now, Alice and Patricio. Why is that? Andreas JN466 21:58, 26 August 2015 (UTC)
Oh, there's no explicit reason, just the general one wich applies to all volunteer work. There are several obligations, tasks and challenges for all of us - private, professional, Wikimedia-related. Not always your priority to get an answer finds a same priority counterpart on the Board's side. Alice Wiegand (talk) 15:58, 1 September 2015 (UTC)
Would you be so kind as to name any example, anywhere on Meta or the English Wikipedia, where any Wikipedia editor has ever asked any question and got an authoritative answer from the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees? "We have decided not to answer this question" would be an acceptable example.
The reason I ask is because after spending nearly two years trying to get an answer from a Wikimedia developer about a rather easy-to-do technical proposal, I have yet to read a single reply from a developer or any Wikimedia employee who has talked to a developer. Not even a "No. We aren't going to do that" or a "this is on our list of proposals to be evaluated, and we estimate that we will have an answer sometime in 2025". Now I know that some parts of the Wikimedia Foundation do answer questions and engage in discussions (I have seen reasonable questions regarding the Flow project get answered, and legal issues get addressed quickly) and I know by personal experience that the Wikimedia software developers and financial department stonewall instead of answering, so I am understandably curious as to which category the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is in. --Guy Macon (talk) 14:38, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
This is collateral, but could you share the URL(s) of the place(s) where you are waiting for an answer from a developer? I'll try to help there.--Qgil-WMF (talk) 11:15, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

STV for multi-winner elections

I already raised this issue at User talk:Denny#Voting System but I didn't get any responses so I'm posting this message to the Board noticeboard.

The Persian Wikipedia community is absolutely frustrated by the conventional Support/Neutral/Oppose system. Our elections suffer from low turnout (about 50 voters) and thus we need a robust voting system which produces reasonable outcomes. Note that English Wikipedia's ArbCom and WMF Board Elections usually end up with much higher turnout. They usually don't need to deal with the "strange" scenarios which we face on a regular basis.

At the first step, we decided to activate the SecurePoll extension at Persian Wikipedia, and then we formed a search committee to find the most appropriate voting system for our multi-winner ArbCom elections. We are informed that there is no "best voting system", so we try to find the one that is suitable for us.

We lean towards proportional Meek STV which is considered the best method to elect multiple winners by an expert.

If you are electing multiple people and simplicity is not important, then we recommend Meek STV. Most people agree that Meek STV is the best variant of STV, but it can only be implemented with a computer program.

But there is a stumbling block! The SecurePoll extension does not support various systems. It does not support any proportional voting systems, but only single-winner voting systems. Even basic voting systems, such as Borda Count, are not supported by this extension. Please take a look at OpaVote to see how marvelous they run elections.

Today I saw a banner on all Wikimedia Projects calling for a survey on harassment using a third-party company, Qualtrics. Why don't you consider running elections by a third-party company, say OpaVote, if the SecurePoll extension is such a useless one. All of the options that SecurePoll offer are: 1) Plurality sucks; 2) Schulze is indeed a single-winner method; 3) Approval Voting is a basic single-winner system; 4) Range Voting is very prone to strategic voting.

In practice, we know that the Persian Wikipedia does not have the needed leverage to convince the Foundation to redesign the SecurePoll extension, but we hope to make our voice heard by bringing up this issue to the next Board election. I expect the Board to appoint the 2017 Election Committee members as soon as possible so that they will have enough time to revisit the proposal of changing the voting system. Hopefully the committee may consider getting help from experts to find the suitable voting systems for all Wikimedia communities, including smaller projects such as Persian Wikipedia. 4nn1l2 (talk) 16:09, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

I have also found CIVS which is open source, free, and with no restrictions. Most importantly, it provides the option to enforce proportional representation. I'm still looking forward to a response :-) 4nn1l2 (talk) 10:33, 8 November 2015 (UTC)
By the way, if there is a PHP developer among you then you can submit a patch implementing different voting systems in SecurePoll. Nemo 11:08, 8 November 2015 (UTC)