Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Conversations/2021-02-02 - First Office Hour/Third meeting
Edits to fix typos or transcripted words are welcome.
There were 21 total attendees in this meeting, including 7 facilitators. Due to a mistake by the facilitator team, no Board members were able to attend to this meeting.
Quim summary of the CfF, introductions. Addressed Megan Wacha’s concern about publicly posting the video for transparency might inhibit speech. Noted there is an option for participating in the discussion after the recording has stopped.
Pharos: The Board needs more community competency - not enough competency of Board members at engaging and understanding the culture of the community. That could be gotten organically.
Yair Rand: Are any Board members expected to show up on this call?
Quim: There were trustees available on the first 2 calls but the timing didn’t work out for this call.
Legoktm: Discussion of this current system not reaching goals of diversity. Having no election is worse than imperfect elections. There has to be a commitment that there will be elections. Board does not have the authority to delay elections. The Board is continuing with all of these projects but Board claims to not have time for elections. The Board does not accurately represent the community because they were not recently elected. Getting rid of the elections has thrown the whole thing out.
Quim: The intention is to run this Call for Feedback and move forward.
Legoktm: The Board does not have the authority to delay elections.
Pharos: There should be elections before major bylaws changes.
Quim: The intention is that the CfF will be run and then they can fill the seats using the input of the community.
Megan Wacha: Given the Board’s choice to change the bylaws without new trustees in place. BoT and WMF should take a good faith action and put this in the hands of the appropriate volunteer communities. This requires more thoughtfulness and communication to ensure the health of the movement. There are a lot of conversations around strategy. Every conversation around regional hubs, IGC, community-affiliate-selected seats are happening during the same month during a global pandemic.
Quim: noted that members of the election committee were each in the previous 2 meetings and engaged with trustees about their concerns. Also wonders how these conversations could be done differently but also wonders how to move this work forward.
Megan: if we are truly committed to diversity this means talking about people who may not have the same resources around time and capacity. This process is going to take time. This cannot all happen at once. WMF employees/paid employees will be driving the conversations. Noted all of the conversations are detrimental to her health.
Alessandro Marchetti: ASBS (affiliate selected board seats) were part of the selection of the Board. Board gave generic statements of going in that direction. A lot of nuance to be corrected. When you try to organize the process, reality is people have different perspectives and the experience is used in different ways. Refer to concept without understanding the perspective underlying the concept. Terrible communication and people do not realize how to communicate.
Quim: Gives hypothetical. Let’s just run an election right now. Who would have the time to participate in the election as a candidate and win the election.
Richard: Spending all week in meetings.
Legoktm: having an election is the building block we should go from. An election is just one of those required things. This has huge implications for the future. If we are only going to do one thing then having an election would be the right thing to do.
Florence Devouard: Completely agrees and faces issue of too many meetings too. This is why Florence rarely joins. Too many conversations right now and there is no more time to do important things - participating and meeting with other people.
Megan: Why is there a conversation about the selection process but the same attention was not given to the bylaws changes. This is the one legal document that the foundation is held publicly liable for.
Megan: It depends on how the Foundation carries itself. The foundation is now an LLC so it can partner with the big 5. The WMF and C levels feel the WMF is a tech company. There is an inherent responsibility that the bylaws and the board represent the community’s interest, more public comment especially how the community is represented in the board’s composition.
Kevin: The WMF more and more seems to think it is the principal player in the movement. The WMF does terrific work, they do things that are essential as an administrative entity, do not partake in governance. Emphasis on getting outside perspectives and should be priority for all of us. The community should be the ones who decide to what extent the outside parties are allowed to participate and give feedback. Principle composition of the board should be representative of what the community
Quim: Other volunteers do not see a rush in holding elections. They see themselves as not showing up in conversations at all. When we talk about one community and the one true way, also volunteers and editing, they have very different notions and lives. Priorities and perspectives are different.
Kevin: I don’t mean to be prescriptive. I recognize Meta is difficult to navigate. The folks who are members of the community are the people who are contributing on the wiki. All conversations should be happening on wiki. The conversations not on wiki can provide insight but not considered in consensus. Discussions are held on projects.
Quim: What you just said does not reflect the reality of how entire communities discuss and decide among themselves. It is more
Richard: It’s like the silent majority. If people are involved, they are on wikis at some point. Moving conversations off wiki is for the foundation to control the process. It would be nice to work The silent majority agrees with the WMF and the WMF represents the silent majority.
Quim: They are not silent. Very well organized cross regional and cross community just not seen if you are on wiki only.
Sandra: I disagree with you. I find that in Arabic wikipedia is better than before. Huge amounts of volunteers are doing this work and outreach. I disagree with the point that volunteers are nothing. Wikipedia must remain free for everyone.
Anna Torres: I want to acknowledge what Quim just raised. The movement is organized in very different ways. I appreciate the new ways the WMF is reaching out to the communities not just on wiki. It is true as a staff member we have a lot of stuff on the shoulders - too much happening at the same time. It is a common feeling in the movement. This is something that we can work out together. Thank you for the opportunity to be here and listen. We need to engage with the amount of community members for the next ways we need to go as a movement.
Alessandro: More technical aspect based on experience. We know the Board has defined the number of seats. There are still no final decisions if there are practical aspects (over age 21) or balance of representation, prerequisites at least involved in something similar, or having previous position among affiliates. This will be tricky. Last time even if the election process was established by the mechanism, now we must redefine and inform people involved. You have to define the sort of people who can access that. Then you have the final electoral process. This process will take at least 4 months.
Anna: How can we prevent burning out the community? Remembers the strategy process and knew what to expect. This is now not clear. How many people from our communities know this is all parallel. Tomorrow we are meeting because people are last because there is too much on the table. It is important because it is aligned with the strategy - so much confusion. Is it a communication problem? Does anyone else have the same feeling? My fear is how to prevent biasing the processes - if people don’t understand how can we get them involved? We want new people showing up. It cannot be an implementation at any cost. What is lacking is a clear understanding of what and why we are doing.
Megan: Nodding in agreement. I am exhausted. So many people aren’t here. Many questions why we should come - clarity around what the goals are - what is it at the end of this. The BoT and WMF… The is a time for us to ask questions not provide feedback. The bylaws that we had and the bylaws we have now, we should assume good faith - it is a contract negotiation. The bylaws are about a contract. Katherine has said nerds will be nerds. Megan doesn’t feel valued.
Jackie responded to apologize about upsetting Megan with assume good faith. Explained the intention behind words was judge by the actions and what others are saying, like Nat’s message on the list.
Megan: Discussions about bylaws changes needs to be explicit in discussion.
Quim: There are problems if we communicate this way or that. Hopeful for an easy solution. It is difficult to see what the solution is.
Anna: We are still in the pandemic and maybe we need to adjust to what we are living. The main goal is to implement the strategy. The priorities from the community should be the strategy. The UCoC is part of the strategy so this is going to be implemented and that is fine. For foundational changes they take time. Sequencing in a better way.
Quim: another question: an alien with engineering project management skills - one one side you want to have very clear processes, but on the other side the size and complexity of the diversity.
Richard: If we have elected GC with allowances for regional diversity there would be better trust in these processes if the
Quim: Same type of review impacts the appointed seats - Dariusz quote from second session. The Board has to work as a team so the Board has to complete the seats with what is needed.
Anna: We talk about volunteers and offline communities. We want to have people on the Board who know about the community and have skills for a Board. You have to invest in the communities as well - invest in the leaders in the future. Acknowledge inequalities leaders around the movement face. If you want them to be more resourced with skills, it needs to be connected with the capacity building for the leaders of the future. For the last few years WMF should have scholarships for leaders
Richard (interrupted): Wikimedians of the future scholarship
Anna: Lots of organizations that will fund or provide scholarships. We should be able to ask for something like this.
Quim Gil 5:05 PM : Next Oscar
Megan Wacha 5:05 PM : Where will the recording of this conversation be shared?
Quim Gil 5:05 PM : Anyone from the team, feel free to go next.
Megan, Commons and YouTube
Megan Wacha 5:07 PM : Thanks, Quim. I appreciate the need for transparency, but I do have concerns about how that might inhibit speech.
Megan Wacha 5:08 PM : Thanks, Quim.
Faisal Ali 5:09 PM : Hello everyone. I am Faisal from Accra, Ghana. I have been a Wikimedia volunteer for close to 6 years now. I contribute to Wikipedia, Wikidata and Commons. I also translate to Hausa.
Oscar Costero 5:09 PM : Hi Faisal!
Faisal Ali 5:09 PM : Hello Oscar
Zita Zage 5:10 PM : Hello Faisal! great to have you on the call
Richard Knipel 5:11 PM : I agree, we need people on the board with more community competence
Megan Wacha 5:13 PM : +1 Richard
Faisal Ali 5:13 PM : Thanks Zita..thanks for having me
Oscar Costero 5:13 PM : Raise hands or o/
Legoktm 5:13 PM : : +1 Richard
Yair Rand 5:16 PM : : I see. thank you.
Megan Wacha 5:18 PM : : 0/
Megan Wacha 5:20 PM : : +1 to Legoktm
air Rand 5:23 PM : : *applause*. Quim, any chance you can make sure that trustees see the recording of Meg's statement?
Florence Devouard 5:23 PM : : +1 Megan generally
Alessandro Marchetti 5:25 PM : : I am also ASBS if you need me to talk just saw the mail of Ad preparing the intervention I might povide different nuances as well I could speak as affiliate or ASBS, they are different perspective
Legoktm 5:26 PM : : +1 Megan
Paulo Perneta 5:27 PM : : +1 Megan
Megan Wacha 5:27 PM : : ASBS = Affiliate Selected Board Seats
Richard Knipel 5:29 PM : : the different levels of engagement among affiliates is a prime reason we cannot run ahead faster than so many of our affiliates who are unable to fully participate
Florence Devouard 5:30 PM : : feel like a situation I faced as well....
Richard Knipel 5:30 PM : : even Wikimedia Canada, relatively well-placed, is not able to participate in so many of these meetings
Legoktm 5:33 PM : : +1 Richard Running an election is the base of having a functional representative board
Megan Wacha 5:35 PM : : +1 Legoktm
Yair Rand 5:35 PM : : +1 Legoktm
Richard Knipel 5:35 PM : : The WMF can afford elections
Megan Wacha 5:37 PM : : I've observed that the appointed Trustees largely don't participate in community conversations. That is information for all of us. 0/
Alessandro Marchetti 5:38 PM : : aftr the laockdown meeting are more ad more... it's getting dfficult to separate RL, content-elated activities and wiki-centric discussions
Paulo Perneta 5:39 PM : : Unfortunately that's my feeling as well, Megan. However, Shani and Nat were in the first meeting and were very active and responsive to the community, even when they were affiliate nominated.
Alessandro Marchetti 5:39 PM : : I feel an "eletoral process" now might be even more difficult than when we enlarged one structured process from 30/40-ish chapters to 100-ish affiliates.
Richard Knipel 5:39 PM : : affiliate nominated is a subset of community nominated, I think the problem of engagement is strongest with the appointed members
Yair Rand 5:40 PM : : I'd disagree with that. The stewards (and other functionaries) are the stewards. The WMF supports the supporters, one step further away.
Alessandro Marchetti 5:40 PM : : because the process might be diffirent, so it was already a miracle to have a smooth process in 45-60 days with some rpeparation... here I expect much more than 4-5 months to be required as well
Yair Rand 5:41 PM : : (clarifying: my disagreement was with "WMF are the stewards" statement)
Denis Barthel 5:41 PM : : Dariusz, Natalia and Esra have been present in the second session too.
Legoktm 5:41 PM : : Not to sidetrack, is there a link for more details about the LLC thing?
Benjamin Lees 5:41 PM : : There https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia,_LLC which Yair made in December :)
Megan Wacha 5:41 PM : : @Paulo Yes, Shani and Nat and DocJames have been incredible in terms of giving their time and energy to these conversations.
Legoktm 5:42 PM : : thanks
Florence Devouard 5:42 PM : : being on the board is time consuming and energy consuming; and it is easy to lose track of the community concerns because of the overload of info. I question the extended duration of terms (though I agree that learning curves and understanding of board operations make that interesting)
Megan Wacha 5:43 PM : : @Yair Yes, I can see that. We agree that they are a step away, perhaps multiple
Yair Rand 5:43 PM : : +1 Kevin
Kevin Li 5:44 PM : : can I follow up on that
Quim - 5:45 PM : : stunned
Oscar Costero 5:47 PM : : 15 min to the top of the hour
Megan Wacha 5:47 PM : : Is there anyone we haven't heard from that would like to speak?
Kevin Li 5:48 PM : : If they're community members, they participate on-wiki; if they're only willing to contribute off-wiki, and not willing to contribute on-wiki, they're not really members of the editing community, are they?
Sandra Hanbo 5:49 PM : : Hello, I am volunteer at Wikipedia and not a payment job I edit on Arabic Wikipedia, What I find that volunteers hold a huge work
Yair Rand 5:49 PM : : +1 Kevin
Kevin Li 5:49 PM : : I think you can discuss elsewhere -- of course we all discuss off-wiki; but representative governance should come from enwiki er
Richard Knipel 5:49 PM : : Yes, good point
Kevin Li 5:49 PM : : not enwiki on-wiki
Alessandro Marchetti 5:49 PM : : can I make a last statement? It's mostly about procedural requirements as I expect in my experience.
Megan Wacha 5:49 PM : : I think that speaks to the need to resource more translation services on meta, not that folx won't talk on meta. (and across different language projects as well)
Kevin Li 5:50 PM : : +1 on translation on meta, though I will say that is only one of many reasons many do not contribute on meta specifically
Megan Wacha 5:51 PM : : Thank you, Sandra.
Richard Knipel 5:51 PM : : thanjk you, Sandra
Mohammed Bachounda 5:51 PM : : شكرا سندرا
Zita Zage 5:52 PM : : less than 9 minutes to the top of the hour
Oscar Costero 5:53 PM : : Alessandro, you can come after Anna
- 5:54 PM : : Everyone telling much about community. But what is it? Does it registered users only or unregistered users too as innitial policies says? First meeting many talks was about affiliate nomination and now mostly about elections, that is not bad, but how will it be implemented? Will unregistered editors the ones who can elect nominees too?'cause when you have only registered editors as a voters that is only past part of whole wikimedua community, so then can not show whole community's point of view.
Paulo Perneta 5:55 PM : : we don't have unregistered users in our community (wiki.pt)
Paulo Perneta 5:57 PM : : "unregostered users" is an undefined entity using an IP. It may be a single person with 20 IPs. It's absolutely pointless and useless to consider them at all
(or may be 20 ppl using a single IP)
Zita Zage 5:57 PM : : 3 minutes to the top of the hour
- 5:57 PM : : Paulo Perneta, does your wiki edited by registered users only? However most wikis have unregistered editors, so question is quite actual.
Paulo Perneta 5:58 PM : : it's only for registered users, but I answer the general case above as well answered*
Florence Devouard 5:58 PM : : very much agree with Alessandro
- 5:58 PM : : Paula Pemeta - even if such user have 100 IPs s(he)'s still an wikimedia community member.
Paulo Perneta 5:59 PM : : good luck in defining that..
jim hayes 5:59 PM : : @paolo " It's absolutely pointless and useless to consider them at all" = sorry disagree
- 5:59 PM : : tx
Florence Devouard 5:59 PM : : But Paulo, there is nothing new for this issue. So...
- 5:59 PM : : when's the next meeting? )
Jeromi Mikhael Asido 5:59 PM : : Is this darwin?
Paulo Perneta 6:00 PM : : eheh indeed, nothing new. They were never considered.
I am Jeromi
Jeromi Mikhael Asido 6:00 PM : : Oh Expected, then.
Megan Wacha 6:00 PM : : Thanks, Quim :)
- 6:00 PM : : thanx Quim
Yair Rand 6:02 PM : : tbh, even if this were a normal year, the WMF's active work would have been too much.
Megan Wacha 6:02 PM : : +1
Yair Rand 6:05 PM : : People are tired.
- 6:05 PM : : not Megan
Richard Knipel 6:05 PM : : We are all tired
Megan Wacha 6:05 PM : : I am exhausted. It is impacting my physical health.
- 6:06 PM : : Megan, hmmm. meeting? ;)
Jeromi Mikhael Asido 6:06 PM : : a hard year indeed.
- 6:08 PM : : I just meant that if if election will be implemented - will unregistered users be a voters? That what I meant (about community).
Florence Devouard 6:09 PM : : "A place to ask question, not a place to give input". Interesting
Yair Rand 6:09 PM : : (I put one together a three-way diff of the bylaws: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Board_noticeboard/October_2020_-_Proposed_Bylaws_changes/Three-way_diff )
You 6:09 PM : : o/
Benjamin Lees 6:10 PM : : -, probably not. It's hard to do elections with anonymous voters
- 6:11 PM : : so what's the sence to talk about elections itself? AS it still won't cover whole community (including unregistered editors)'s POV.
Benjamin Lees 6:13 PM : : All elections are imperfect in representation. We still have them.
Megan Wacha 6:13 PM : : I agree these are difficult questions.
Jeromi Mikhael Asido 6:14 PM : : hi folks, i have a test in a few hours later, so I have to leave earlier. Thank you for today, this has been a great discussion!
Quim Gil 6:14 PM : : Thanks Jeromi!
Denis Barthel 6:14 PM : : Bye Jeromi
Paulo Perneta 6:14 PM : : (just to clarify,, I am DarwIn - I'm not anyone else in the meeting)
Alessandro Marchetti 6:15 PM : : sorry I must leave, I need to listen to another video. Pleasure to be here, sorry if I was too tired to interact with your concepts
- 6:15 PM : : I see, but that breaks free-for-all policy. And that way wikimedia more and more look as some country with limited (and counted) number of citizens and no more as project for all (also unfaced even as registered user).
Denis Barthel 6:16 PM : : Thanks for your insights, Alessandro.
Richard Knipel 6:16 PM : : sequential rather than parallel
Megan Wacha 6:16 PM : : +!
Richard Knipel 6:16 PM : : we can't afford to do every constitutional change at once
Megan Wacha 6:18 PM : : It's almost like we need a Global Council ;)
jim hayes 6:18 PM : : equivalent to red cross non profit
Florence Devouard 6:19 PM : : I agree with that
jim hayes 6:20 PM : : we could model red cross - volunteer / paid staff mix, but it would require study
Quim Gil 6:23 PM : : Actually Benjamin was there and asked a related question, about the skills of the Board members.
Megan Wacha 6:24 PM : : That's a good point, Anna
Oscar Costero 6:24 PM : : +1 Anna, I was part of that working group, capacity building
Florence Devouard 6:25 PM : : This said... there has been much talk about upgrading skills of volunteers, and already initiatives to do that. Mostly need expanding (right now, it is more pilot level)
Megan Wacha 6:25 PM : : Yes, if board members don't have the competencies it needs, we must invest in building those competencies
Paulo Perneta 6:25 PM : : what kind of skills, Flo? (more properly: what initiatives?)
Florence Devouard 6:26 PM : : but right now... it looks like skills are rather provided after they are elected, whilst with the new appointement system, it would have to be before ?
Paulo, such as the WikiLearn launching this Saturday ?
Paulo Perneta 6:26 PM : : (googling for that.. :P )
Florence Devouard 6:27 PM : : let me drop a link....
Paulo Perneta 6:27 PM : : found it no idea it existed :| thanks!
Florence Devouard 6:27 PM : : why young ???
Megan Wacha 6:27 PM : : Sure! I think Anna is getting at something else though.
Florence Devouard 6:27 PM : : https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Community_Development/WikiLearn/Identifying_and_Addressing_Harassment_Online
Richard Knipel 6:28 PM : : we are in the education field anyway
Florence Devouard 6:28 PM : : "The Community Develo PM ent team at the Wikimedia Foundation is excited to launch the Online Learning Pilot, an online capacity-building project."
Richard Knipel 6:28 PM : : yes, not just young
Paulo Perneta 6:28 PM : : It's still ontime to enroll?
Florence Devouard 6:28 PM : : nope
Paulo Perneta 6:28 PM : : aff :(
Florence Devouard 6:29 PM : : but learning material will be public I'll make a note to tell you how it went ;)
Oscar Costero 6:29 PM : : Gracias Anna!
Megan Wacha 6:29 PM : : Thank you, Everyone
Paulo Perneta 6:29 PM : : hopefully there will be other opportunities Thanks! bye
Richard Knipel 6:29 PM : : thank you
Florence Devouard 6:29 PM : : likely yes
- 6:29 PM : : )
Florence Devouard 6:29 PM : : thanks
Faisal Ali 6:30 PM : : Bye everyone...it's morning here
Yair Rand 6:30 PM : : Bye all.
Zita Zage 6:30 PM : : thank you everyone!
Denis Barthel 6:30 PM : : Bye all! Thanks for being here!
Felipe Lima 6:30 PM : : Bye :)
[00:11:06] I could share my comment on the chat, which is I think that the board needs more community competence. I know that I might not be the answer that you're looking for, but I think that's the answer that's that's needed, that there is not a sufficient number of people on the board who are competent at talking to and understanding the community. There may be two or three people who have some competence in that, but it's very lacking. And a lot of the problems with the community could be avoided if there is a little bit more cultural competency. And I think that's lacking. And I think that could be gotten organically through some processes that are not just purely a point of sort of balance appointive and then sort of constituency based, something like suggested regional seats.
[00:11:57] I'll just comment on the point of this is not the answer, that would be the expecting. We are not expecting anything. So this is what we expect needs to invite for conversations and and, yes, taking all this feedback. And to just to make it clear, we are not the board actually is not pushing for anything specific. This is why the questions that are presented at the work came up with are true questions. Are these ideas that they want to have to offer. And yeah, just wanted to make this clear. The idea sounds fine to me and we will capture it so.
[00:12:40] Quick question. Are any board members expected to show up here at any point during this hour that any show up in the previous two meetings?
[00:12:49] Very good question. So there was trusties on the first and very active. There were trustees on the second. Very active in this one. I think they were still trying to have someone, but apparently the timing didn't work for them. The intention was to have someone. But yeah, I don't know if anyone will show up.
[00:13:19] And that legal, I think, pronounced, right?
[00:13:23] Yeah, hi, I think I want to I wanted to say that I think this there's been discussion that the current system is not reaching the goals of diversity or other stuff. But at the same time, right now, we have no elections. And I think that is significantly worse than having elections that are imperfect or not fully diverse. And I think whatever one of the things has to be a commitment that there will be elections and regularly scheduled elections and that the board does not have the authority or impetus to delay the elections. Because what's happened right now is we don't have elections and the board is continuing with all of this dramatic byelaws changes the UCSC project and all those things are happening. And they've claimed that they don't have enough time for elections or but I don't see how any of that can happen if elections are not happening, because as it stands right now, I think there's a genuine feeling that the board or the community side of the board does not represent it does not accurately represent because they haven't been elected recently. Not saying that they're illegitimate, but I think there is a feeling that they're no longer representative. And so I think first we have to have elections before you go before we go into this whole process of trying to figure out what the ideal election is like. The system isn't perfect, but like getting rid of the elections has thrown the whole thing out.
[00:14:56] Of course, this would be a situation where it would be great to have a trustee, what I can do is to ensure things that are known or that we have heard in previous meetings. While I settle these questions, we are going to be captured and maybe you get answers from trustees soon. So.
[00:15:17] On the point of elections happening, the fact is that there's three new seats, community, a community, an affiliate, selected seats that are new and there's no process to find for it.
[00:15:33] And they have to be filled with people. So there's three and the intention is to let them feel as soon as reasonably possible. There's the other three that should have been renewed last year, but it was postponed and they are due for this year. And this is also happening this year. That's six seats. And as far as I know, the intention is to run this call for feedback. Then the board would decide something about this place. I'm not a board member, I'm not in board meetings, etc., but I'm trying to just collect all the information I'm hearing and seeing and there.
[00:16:12] And I think that so the key feedback I want is that the board should not be delaying elections unilaterally. They don't. And it should be clear that they don't have the authority to do so. That's the something that the community controls.
[00:16:27] And that we should have elections before their major violence changes.
[00:16:31] I think that would be, you know, kind of make sense.
[00:16:38] Fine, but I don't know, I can only explain I can explain that I think that their position is that if the. Processes with the problems that they have identified, I run now, then we are going to repeat these problems for six seats for the upcoming years, whereas having this conversation that takes these weeks plus a decision and then run these processes to fill the new seats at least will hopefully fix this problem. This is my understanding of what the reasoning for for this. Again, I'm not the board. I'm not even aiming to represent that what I'm just trying to make sense of the current situation and why the board is proceeding now with a call for feedback.
[00:17:35] Yeah, man.
[00:17:45] Oh, hi, everyone, so my name is Megan, and I am. I do find it curious, these conversations around timeline, because while there is certainly an issue presented by the change in bylaws, that is an issue that was created by the current board.
[00:18:05] I am speaking tonight in my capacity as president of Wikimedia in York City, as a representative of Wikimedia New York City. And I just wanted to state that, given the recent decision of the board of trustees to change the bylaws without adequate input by the community with a number of issues in terms of the composition of that board without adequate response to what input was received, it's imperative that the Wikimedia Foundation and the board of trustees take a good faith action and put this process fully in the hands of the appropriate volunteer committees. So again, it's in my capacity as a representative of the Wikimedia NYC board that I want to offer our full support for today's statement from the affiliates, selected board seats, election facilitators from the Elections Committee. That really responsibility must be with the appropriate community committees, not with the board of trustees.
[00:19:07] You know, in this work, I think we all share the commitment to diversity and we have all shared in the problems that have existed within that process, including for the board appointed seats where so many of the appointees right now are specifically not just based in North America, but based in the United States. And those are board appointed seats. And so I think this is going to require a lot more thoughtfulness and communication in order to ensure the future of our movement, in order to ensure the health of our movement. And I think that right now, this really isn't the appropriate time. There are a lot of conversations happening that are central around the Wikimedia strategy process.
[00:20:01] And I understand that the Wikimedia Foundation may be facing timeline's as it relates to annual its annual plan or or other pressures out there.
[00:20:10] But it seems like every conversation that's happening right now around, you know, regional and thematic hubs around, I guess the bylaws conversation was never going to happen. But around these communities, selected seats around the interim global council. All of these core infrastructure questions are happening in the month of February and March. And we're all still living in the midst of a global pandemic. So I don't think that there's any way for the community to fully engage with this process as it's happening right now.
[00:20:52] So I at what I can say is that at who wrote that message, the Wikimedia L in the name of the facilitator as the group was in the first meeting and you got answers from not unchaining, then Rasberry Lane also had an intervention, which was I mean, he's also part of the same facilitator group. He was in the second meeting and he made an intervention and an explanation of of these points and he was addressed by Daria's and Esraa. And I will not try to summarize those answers because they were like I think there was a lot of nuance, but we are going to have recordings, transcripts, et cetera. Again, I'm just trying to share the information that about things that happened today on.
[00:21:51] And there was.
[00:21:53] Yeah, I think I think that. Yes, about and yes, the point about all the things happening at the same time. Well, actually, as as as a person who is more or less involved in many of these initiatives from the side of the foundation. Yeah. I also wonder myself how this could be done different. But frankly, I also wonder. How to move things forward involving the communities without suffocating, especially the people who are involved in most of them?
[00:22:25] Yeah, I understand and appreciate that. I do want to note the power differential in that you are a paid employee and certainly paid employees are often exploited in many ways different jobs. I'm not saying you are, but just in terms of our time and our energies, if we are truly committed to diversity, though, that's really talking about people and peoples that may not have the same resources in terms of time, may not have the same sorts of capacities. And so if we really do want to move forward for a more equitable and inclusive movement, you know, that is a process that is going to be difficult and is going to take time. And if we want those voices to be heard, all of this can't be happening at once because either otherwise it will be Wikimedia Foundation employees, chapters that are appropriately staffed, largely driving those conversations. We are a volunteer chapter, and I will say as this volunteer size of one, it is detrimental to my to my health. All of these conversations happening and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. So, you know, and I come from a privileged position being being where I am. So I just throw that out there.
[00:23:57] Yeah, Alesandro, did you want to talk about your if you think it's appropriate, I mean I mean, I am I am really tired because I'm really stressed in real life with tons of things to do.
[00:24:13] So I could be here on the last minute. And certainly I did not coordinate with all the previous member of Acebes. I have absolutely no clue in the end what they shared with you. But I can give you a little bit more my perspective as a historical perspective, put it like that, because I think some of the problems we will face and here I'm talking more as a representative of an affiliate or just a member of the community. Either way, some of the problems we will face are probably the same we already faced in twenty nineteen. So do you all know what ASBA stands for?
[00:24:51] So it's that he is to basically we were part of the selection of the member of the board, which part which were originally designated by chapters and I think also the Catalan thematic organization. But then they basically switched to all the affiliates altogether. So the board gave a statement of going in that direction and then some representative from the affiliates were selected to carry on this process. And when we were in Berlin, we finalized certain aspects. I entered the team and I found myself in those very short forty five sixty days where the process had to be completed.
[00:25:31] At that point, what basically we realized is that there were a lot of nuances to be corrected, really a lot. And one of the biggest problem was that the level of governance among the affiliate was very wide.
[00:25:45] And specifically, one thing that I always pointed out is that when you actually try to organize this process, even if you assume that a consensus will emerge, reality is that people have a very different perspective and sometimes used in very different ways. And so they basically refer to a concept without understanding the spectrum of things that are behind such contact. And this is an underlying process that keeps emerging and emerging in many other aspects of the community. So at the time I was representative of one affiliate, then I became the main contact of a new with it. And I keep seeing these issues popping up. So, for example, in the example I usually make, because I think is the most neutral one is when my after had to define the naming convention and we receive guidelines which were clearly, clearly designed for a geographical user group, because at the time there was no understanding of the difference between a geographical and mathematical user group and their aftermath music groups that become automatic organization. And there are activities that are certain status nationally y but they don't have any structure and the structure changes between the affiliates. So I'm not telling you all the possible difference. I'm just starting with that. When we were doing the process, I quickly met all of them and I realized how a huge mass it was to define a process that could adapt more or less easily to such a huge wide range of activities that they are. And basically, this problem keeps emerging. So, again, I was very and I try to be as short as possible, I was literally flooded with things to do.
[00:27:22] And I saw the email that was originally sent to all the affiliates about the selection, what was it? The branding committee. And then I look at the way this was structured and realized it was obviously ambiguous and it would have been an issue of communication. And in January, I just got a few days ago that, in fact, we had a terrible issue of communication where basically people start to write only to the people, at least not the whole Apple. At least people never understood what would at least they were discussing about and so on. So these sort of problems will keep emerging. And I see no specific, strong progress being done in the last two years. So as both ways, as a former member, again, honestly, I didn't think I was still in charge of Acebes. I thought it was a one time thing. So I never actually realized there would still be an activist. But I can tell you this, it's going to be tricky because the biggest problem is the biggest underlying issues you will find all the way through discussions that sometimes you think to say something and you don't realize that you're giving a value to a word that people see differently. Now, be prepared for that. That's my general advice. And it's a most neutral advice I can give. I mean, again, I'm not reading too much whatever politically they want to take as a stance in this process. And that's it. I hope it helps.
[00:28:51] So is it OK if I ask a question, since we are here in conversational mode?
[00:29:03] Here's what I'm what I'm wondering. You are describing how affiliates and how volunteers with a lot of experience are struggling, making time to be. Properly participating in all the things going up. So if now and again, I really hopefully this will be just a corridor in Wikimania where we are just talking about things. So now let's go back to the point of let's an election has before it right now. Who really would have the time that it takes to be a candidate with options to win? One of these seats. Especially if you are not participating in the court, if there's such a thing, if you don't start from a position of this type of privilege that we were having. No. Now, you're starting in, I don't know, from a small affiliate in Africa, a young, educated four year terms are, I don't know all the situations that are really different from the usual profiles of the type of volunteers who have made it to the board. Wouldn't that be more complicated? And I'm not trying to convince anyone. It's a true question that I have myself. One wondering what I think it's I think it's a question of where the foundation chooses to invest.
[00:30:34] So they've invested quite a lot in the branding process, quite a lot in this process. You can see there, I don't know, maybe a dozen or more contractors are working on the employees who are working on this process. They could choose to invest in making a very solid election process, including under the previous system, and encouraging more people to run. And that would be a nice thing to do before before running elections under new bylaws. And it's something that doesn't have to be super rushed. It can take some time. That's OK. I've been I've been in the Wikimedia movement for more than 10 years. And I remember all years when no one asked me my opinion on anything. That was quite most of the time, most of the time.
[00:31:21] And it would be it would be useful to have to think about the needs of the community and not spend, you know, four days a week in meetings.
[00:31:30] And that's where that's where it is now, if you want to seriously engage.
[00:31:38] Ok, Lego, did you want to add something? I just typed it in the chat, but basically I think the election and having a representative board is the building block that we start from.
[00:31:51] Yes. Things everyone is busy and we are doing a lot of things. And that is a legitimate area of pushback. But an election is just one of those required things. And I think if you're not going to have an election because of whatever reason, then you should also be pursuing all of this. This bylaw changes, which is is unprecedented, is taking up a lot of time, has huge implications for the future of how we'll be represented in the future. So I think having an election is the starting point. And if we're only going to do one thing, then having the election should be it. And then that can set the stage for rolling down other things in the future.
[00:32:43] I think the message is unclear and. It's it's taken.
[00:32:53] Yeah, we have a former board member, Florence, I want to say something.
[00:33:03] For those arriving late, we aim to have a trusty, at least here in this conversation, but it hasn't been possible. Where are the trustees participating in the previous meeting? So it's not by design.
[00:33:17] In the meantime, we are doing just saying very quickly, but I fully agree with most of what has been said in the past few minutes. And in particular, it's it's over midnight right now for me. I'm still actually working and I completely face this issue of multiplication of meetings that is just killing my daily lives. And that's why I rarely join any events now, because it's just getting too much. And I feel like when we spend so much time just following the different conversations, discussing you cook a few cocktails, I don't know how you pronounce it, the call of conducting or following the affiliate discussions or whatever discussion the VP 20, you just don't have any more time to do the actually important things that are participating and working with other people. And that's a major issue for me to participate in the time spent in meetings for various issues. So I'm just listening in the background, listening to you in the background and trying to prepare a presentation at the same time.
[00:34:54] Either more questions or comments.
[00:35:11] I guess I would like to know why this conversation about. The selection process, there's a big focus on having a conversation about the selection process and the same attention wasn't given to the change in bylaws, which is the I just have to keep reiterating this.
[00:35:32] It is like the one legal document, right. That exists between the community and the foundation. Yes, we signed contracts for our grants, but it is the one legal document that the foundation is held publicly liable for. And so why didn't we have these kinds of conversations when the bylaw changes were being proposed and then advanced?
[00:36:05] Can I ask you which of the legal changes do you think that should have reserve wide, wide discussion?
[00:36:16] I think it really depends on how the Wikimedia Foundation sees. It sees itself increasingly, especially with the establishment of Wikimedia LLC, so that it can more fiscally partner with the big five of the Internet, the Amazons and the Googles. I think I do see that, that portions of the Wikimedia Foundation, particularly its leadership, perhaps sees itself as a tech company. I would love to be wrong about that. I think that that many of us in this call, perhaps and including possibly some employees and contractors, really see the foundation as being the steward of the Wikimedia Projects, providing support to the communities of volunteers that are actually creating what they call a product.
[00:37:11] But our contributions to free knowledge. And so as such, there is if that is your vision of the Wikimedia Foundation, there is an inherent responsibility for that.
[00:37:23] The bylaws and the board adequately represent the community and the community's interest. So I would say that any changes to the bylaws, there should be a minimum more public comment in this case, specifically around the representation of how the community is represented in the board's composition.
[00:37:50] Thank you.
[00:37:59] Yeah, we had some side conversation in the chat about the different. Feelings about the appointee's twisties. Onex want want us want someone to comment on that.
[00:38:24] I just thought we had a great.
[00:38:29] I did want to I wasn't able to make it for the first half, so I hope I'm not repeating anything that's already been said. But I did want to emphasize that the Wikimedia Foundation seems to be more and more be thinking that it is the principal player in the Wikimedia movement. It is not like most non-profits have this system where they have valuable community and involved and volunteers. Right. But the volunteers are not the ones who are like the staff or the ones doing the real work, so to speak. That is the opposite of the relationship at Wikimedia. The Wikimedia Foundation does terrific work. They do. They provide valuable services to the community of movement. They they do things that are essential to Wikimedia existing as an administrative entity, but they do not do work that is essential to the core mission of our of our projects. They do not contribute to content, as we all know. They do not participate in governance decisions for the most part. And that is how it should be, because they, in fact, pass the legal liability onto all the contributors if if if there is content that is inappropriate. And so and so the relationship. So, for example, there is this emphasis on getting outside perspectives and of course, equity and inclusion and all of these things are very important. I think they should be priorities for all of us, but the ultimate power, so to speak, we should the community should be the ones who decide to what extent the outside parties are able to participate and give their feedback and vote in the board of trustees and the principal. The principal composition of the board should always be selected by the community in, of course, the only mechanism that we know to be truly representative and cannot be manipulated by the foundation, which is free and open elections.
[00:40:34] Can you comment on this based on what we are hearing from other volunteers in other contexts? Just to again, I'm just trying to bring other perspectives from the same community so some other volunteers don't see a rush in elections, actually they see a point in discussing all this because, well, anyway, they have nothing to do, nothing to lose, nothing to win with the current process. They basically see themselves not showing up there at all for them participating in, for instance, conversations on Metalious out of. I don't know, they they they will not do it because I don't know, they have their own reasons, but I don't want to defend anything.
[00:41:22] I don't want to take any any position. I just want to express that when we talk about one community and the one true way and the one is the one that I think it doesn't take long, that if you just go and ask other people, also volunteers putting a lot of hours on editing work, but just with very different lives, very different backgrounds, very different even notions of what politics or decision making or anything, although this works. So I'm only I only want to stress that priorities might be different for different people and perspectives definitely are different.
[00:41:59] Can I follow up on that? I don't mean to be prescriptive, I don't mean to say that the one true, at least in my experience, though, I recognize that Metters difficult to navigate. It's difficult to navigate for me. But we all the people who are doing.
[00:42:25] Kevin agrees to brutally cut out.
[00:42:30] Yeah, the Wikipedia product, as you will, or the book can be, if that means, I don't know, that it means that there will be less. We lost you for a moment before you can start up quickly. Oh, I'm sorry about that. What I mean, the the folks who are members of our community who are doing the work necessary to create the Wikimedia products, if that's the language that we're going to go with, are the people who are contributing on Wiki, it may not be Metallica. Metallica is tucked in a little corner way in line for most folks that I've talked with. But the opportunity, the principal opportunity for engagement should be on Wiki. I was talking with foundation staffers the other day, was talking about all the conversations they're having on telegrammed and on social media, in the Facebook groups and and so forth. And I think it's important to remember that those are not those are not community processes. Those are not areas where you can where you can get the community to ratify your position or your thoughts. Those are maybe maybe can provide good insights, but they are not ones that will form the basis for any decision making process. And so we should remember that we are a project where people contribute and ultimately in governance decisions and one medium and that is on Wiki and in bigger and bigger projects, this tends to be voting if on the most important issues, essentially, oftentimes after this. But but they are on the projects. They are not held by convincing board members to appoint whatever.
[00:44:14] I will not follow because I think it's longer this goes on, I'm just stating that what you just said doesn't reflect the reality of how many. I'm not talking about community discussions. I'm talking about even how entire communities discuss with themselves and decide among themselves understanding this and just saying that it's more complicated.
[00:44:38] I mean, I think that's it's a it's a bit of a silent majority argument, we heard this a lot during the branding discussions that these people I'm not I don't I don't discount conversations in different forums. But I do think that if people involved with the media movement at some point, they're interested in commenting on the case. And I think that moving things off of wikis is is way in a lot of cases to put the control in the Wikimedia Foundation so that the branding is so that with a lot of other stuff and it would be it would be nice. And I think there are many ways we can find to work with people as as they are and and not not assume that not assume that they because we don't hear from them. Of course, they must agree with the Wikimedia Foundation perspective, because the definition perfectly understands people in developing countries. And I think that was Mr. Jones a lot, particularly around the brand issue. And that would be.
[00:45:31] Kyrgios going and then I'll shut up for a while. I haven't talked about this, Helen, anything. These people are talking a lot, just that they are talking in other places, in other languages. And the fact is that they are not visible in what we think is the main conversation. I normally stating is I do the asylum at all. It's just that the. Discussing somewhere else and actually very well organized across regional and international, all those things are happening right now, just not visible if you are just sitting in these official channels only.
[00:46:18] Yeah, we have only ten minutes left. So my question, it is someone they want to speak. Kevin, we want you to assuming your question.
[00:46:34] I don't have anything more to contribute. No, thank you. OK, Sandra.
[00:46:43] A hurricane like so striking while striking, I disagree with you because I'm just an editor and art critic, Wikipedia and look to the blame job, just a gesture on the down for them to work.
[00:46:57] What I find out in Arabic, Wikipedia, the volunteers do all the work they do.
[00:47:02] The nowadays there are making Wikipedia better and finding out and they are working in the user groups and improving it to a very like I'm finding it nowadays. It's more now better than before.
[00:47:26] So it's not just the not just the payment to workers who are working.
[00:47:33] They are huge work from volunteers who are going to Wikipedia more and more and getting better and better and getting it to to be known like it's it's I, I like an Arabic word.
[00:47:47] I can disagree with your point and that it is joke work because they know it to be.
[00:47:54] Yes. They are typically getting it from it more than getting them into or they know about these things. So I disagree with your point sense that if the volunteers are laughing and you are going to have a product you are not having, we are not going to have products. Where are we going to have knowledge of the knowledge you can never be and then all should be free for everyone.
[00:48:20] And I know I think this is the point of all of that. We are not to have your products because of having what there is a lot of other things we can make, relax and sell it for people like everyone in his food or cookbook and selling the products. But Wikipedia is free and not to work and to have products.
[00:48:46] And thank you for listening to me and have a good night.
[00:48:57] Thank you, Sandra. Do we have someone that can participate? OK, I know you want to say something.
[00:49:17] Oh, yes, sorry, I was saying there will silence the whole this whole meeting of trying to listening and also to learn. I wanted to acknowledge what something that King just raised. I think that the movement is organized in very, very different ways. We cannot not one single solution fits all. I think that we organized. Yeah, in different ways, I see, at least in my my region, where we have different channels to participate or to organize ourselves, and I appreciate the least having this a this new new approach is from the Wikimedia Foundation to to help us or to to reach out to us and listen to us in different ways, not just on Wiki or for more time. So I appreciate this this effort and analyzing the conversation. I'm going to I don't want to go into too much into what I think or not. Regarding the Bilo changes, because I'm just here in my capacity as a staff, I'm going to be passing or sharing this information to my board. But it's true that the staff or I feel that nowadays we have a lot of work on our shoulders. I think that we need to slow down a little bit. There is too much happening at the same time. This is something that I share with a lot of people, and I feel that this is a common feeling in the movement. I don't have a recipe to mean to solve the situation, but I think this is something that we can work out together and see how we can move forward.
[00:51:20] Yeah. With all these things that we have on our plate right now. So I want to I don't know.
[00:51:31] Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here and to listen to all of you.
[00:51:36] And again, my my plus one is to slow down a little bit. Yeah. In order to make sure that we really work, we really engage with the amount of people and community members that we want to engage for this. Yeah. For the next issues that we need to to make us some movement. I don't know if that makes sense.
[00:52:07] Thank you. And yes, that makes a lot of sense. I really want to say something.
[00:52:17] There are some more technical aspects I'm trying to keep it as less political as possible about how this process is probably going to look like this in my experience, and just for you to be aware. So we we know that the board has already defined the number of seats they want to allocate. But as far as I understood, correct me if I'm wrong, there is still no final decision about the first aspect, which is if there are some limits about certain aspects of those candidates, which can be very factual. One by for example, everybody should be about 21 years old of age because, you know, legal things in every country and whatever reasonable things, very factual, very objective, then there might be other more nuance aspect which will immediately arise to create some tensions or at least will require a certain discussion. So it can be about the balance between the sort of a representation of these member. Fine.
[00:53:14] But it can also be if you want to establish some prerequisites, like, for example, I want everybody to be at least involved legally in something similar or just having a certain type of position among the affiliates. Those are perfectly fine. But still, they will adapt to such a huge variety of legislation that will always require a certain amount of interpretation going on. Along the process, so this is going to be already tricky after this step, you will have the part where you you you some somehow try to establish the part of the candidate or how they should work. So, for example, last time, even if we were in a very specifically designed subset of election process that already was already established by the mechanism, the part about the candidature was already a little bit more complicated. So we have to start again from zero to redefine them. And then at this point to inform all the people involved about how they were defined, which also means that you have the first part when you have to design them, and the second part when you have to run them. And the team of those that might not be in the same team, certainly they won't be in the future. So the next time you will do it will be in time. New teams every time. And probably you should even try to make them a little bit different because some things usually appear after when you change the composition as it happens in our case, then after the candidature, then at this point you have the selection process real.
[00:54:41] So after you have this, you have defined how you want people to be, how you want to to trim the sort of people who can access that, because usually what you make is the example you make a candidate. But you see if you if they have a certain support, then at this point you have the final electoral process. And again, such electoral process, we're going to be messy because you basically have merged two electoral process, which were very different, and you have to start again from zero. So these are all the passage that we have. This is why I'm telling you when I say my experience is going to take more than four months or even five properly to do these things properly, because even a small set of these things in a much more controlled environment in last time I was involved in that as a community selected member for the election of the athletes seat was really a miracle. We could pull it off in much less in two months, three months, getting to a reasonable, smooth representative result.
[00:55:36] That's what I really wanted to make you aware of, the most technical things I could summarize, the problems, the challenges that we're going to have. OK, thank you for your attention.
[00:55:49] Ok, thank you for your insight. We have only two minutes left.
[00:55:55] And do we have someone?
[00:55:58] Really eager to participate. We can also have like a concert, like a more informal conversation after what we did not recording.
[00:56:23] Should we stop here, the our.
[00:56:29] Yes, I thought, OK, so thank you, everyone.
[00:56:36] We are going to be sharing all these materials publicly with the board, I, I bet we will. I mean, we are aware that there are many questions that we couldn't address here. So we are going to do our best to see if they if they can be interpreted in other ways as they would have been and that Rusty would have been in this meeting. Thank you, everyone. And I said, I will stop now, but if anyone is interested where we are going to stay a bit longer, if you if you want.