Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Community-elected Selection Committee

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

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 feedback


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.