Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-02-17 Weekly
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This is a weekly report of the Call for Feedback about Community Board seats selection processes between February 1 and March 14. This report contains ideas and opinions that are new or relevant in the context of the Call for Feedback.
With the help of a team of community facilitators, we are organizing conversations and gathering feedback. During this call for feedback we publish weekly reports and we draft the final report that will be delivered to the Board. This report covers new activity February 8-14.
If you think anything relevant is missing, let us know in the Talk page and we will consider its inclusion in the next weekly report.
Ideas from the BoardEdit
Ranked voting systemEdit
- There is some discussion about the effect of Wikimedia Foundation staff voting on elections. Some feel it is not a concern where others feel it is a big concern.
- A person suggested the Schulze method or another Condorcet method where moderate/center candidates would be selected to promote more center candidates: a person thinks STV could allow unqualified candidates onto the Board.
- Two people discussed the need for good communication and interface design around the voting system. Attendees at French Sub-Saharan community conversations agreed.
- A person from the Punjabi Wikimedians User Group mentioned that there is a chance for less voter turnout from emerging Wikimedia communities.
- Three people in a French-speaking discussion on Twitter: Two people felt a ranked voting system has fewer side effects; one person suggested Proportional Approval Voting; one person said to use it but review the usefulness of the system.
- All in a French Sub-Saharan community conversation agree with using STV saying this could increase chances for minority groups.
- Two from a Wikimedia Uganda User Group meeting said a ranked voting system may not solve underrepresentation; twelve people from Open Foundation West Africa group meeting agreed.
- Several people are concerned about quotas increasing tokenism.
- A person front the Telugu community worried that people elected from quotas might align with the majority due to pressure to fit in, thus defeating the goal of quotas.
- One person said quotas might put an unprepared person on the Board. Training people from needed regions could help with this.
- The same person said quotas might insult qualified candidates; people might assume they relied on the quota to get elected. (A person from Punjabi Wikimedians User Group said they had an experience like this.)
- Additionally, they said voters may not like any of the quota candidates because they go against community culture.
- One person at a French Sub-Saharan community conversation suggested staggering elections in different regions and marking off quotas as they are satisfied.
- All people at a French Sub-Saharan community conversation agreed with gender and geography quotas. A participant expressed gender representation on the Board should be equitable. People from North Africa Wikimedia communities gave similar feedback. Twelve people from the Open Foundation West Africa group meeting were in support of regional and gender quotas being implemented.
- Note: Other participants including members of the Wikimedia LGBT+ user group complained, saying that 50/50 gender concepts were binary and implicitly biased against non-binary, trans or genderqueer people. The Facilitation team acknowledged this problem and rectified the related mentions in their reports. Here this phrasing was updated to reflect the feedback in a non-biased manner.’’ JKoerner (WMF) (talk) 20:24, 29 March 2021 (UTC)
- Three people from Indonesia discussed how to implement quotas; seats by size of the community or each community gets one seat. They wondered about this resulting in unqualified candidates.
- One person in the Spanish Telegram chat said the intention of quotas are to overcome historical or systemic inequities. The current practice makes that difficult; another person said he is against quotas but understands the reasons behind them. He worries quotas might create a power struggle between communities; another person doubted quotas as a solution: there would be forced representation or under-representation.
- One person in the Spanish Telegram chat said quotas should be used during the selection process and not the election.
- One person in the Spanish Telegram chat commented that quotas for gender, native languages, number of speakers, etc., generate the same problem as regional quotas since eventually there would be forced representation or under-representation in the movement.
- People from Punjabi Wikimedians voiced strong objections to quotas.
- People from Wikimedia Bangladesh said, while they thought the word quota has negative connotations, definitions of quotas would be helpful.
- People from Wikimedia Bangladesh said to use appointed seats to fulfill diversity quotas. (One person on agreed.) Additionally, they said the US and Europe dominate the movement and don’t fully understand priorities for other communities.
- Three people from a Wikimedia Uganda User Group meeting are in favor of quotas.
Call for types of skills and experiencesEdit
- People from Wikimedia Indonesia said strong negotiation, technical, and auditing skills are important to move the community forward. People at a French Sub-Saharan community chat said management and community experience are important.
- The Board should publish its opinion and advice about desirable attributes: diversity, experience, etc. People from Wikimedia Bangladesh agreed.
- One person said few candidates from emerging Wikimedia communities have run for the position and were not elected because they lacked remotely comparable qualifications.
- The proposer for Specialized Seats said the Board should identify its specialized needs.
Vetting of candidatesEdit
- Three Wikimedians from Indonesia are divided about this. One person recommends it, the other does not. One did not provide an opinion.
- Two people 1, 2 said to do legal vetting of candidates before election: one said to verify skills and experience too! People at a North Africa Wikimedia community meeting disagreed. They say vetting should only cover Wikimedia experience.
- One person said they don’t trust the Board to vet candidates, noting the Arnon Geshuri event, saying the community is better equipped to vet candidates.
- Two people from a Wikimedia Uganda User Group meeting support vetting candidates; one wants to know more about how this will be implemented.
Board-delegated selection committeeEdit
- One person from Wikimedia Indonesia said it is best if candidates are selected by the community first.
- One person said any selection committee would be “disruptive pure bureaucracy” and worse “if it is intended to prohibit free election of legally-qualified candidates.” No process would be better than electing candidates.
- One person from Cameroon said this would be simple whereas electing the committee would take longer. They suggested using former board members. In a French Sub-Saharan community conversation one person agreed and added experienced people too.
Community-elected selection committeeEdit
- Two people from Wikimedia Indonesia do not recommend this. One recommended this as long as it met the Board’s criteria.
- Two people about AffCom representing a good diversity of backgrounds but not a good diversity of views.
- One person reiterates there is no process that would be better than elections.
- One person from Benin and another from Morocco are in favor of this as this gives power to the community. One person at a French Sub-Saharan community conversation agreed.
- Three people from Open Foundation West Africa group were in support of the community selection committee.
- People from the North Africa Wikimedia community said at a meeting the community should lead and manage the process.
- People from Punjabi Wikimedians User Group said a selection committee will be able to negotiate with the Board better for skills and diversity.
- People from Punjabi Wikimedians User Group said if the committee and Board aren’t together, candidates can be lost. Conflict of interest was also mentioned.
- A person from the Telugu community recommended quotas for the selection committee to ensure representation from across the movement. It can include quotas for participants across the movement since the size of the committee is not set.
- In a French Sub-Saharan community conversation people said voting for a committee could make the process longer.
Election of confirmed candidatesEdit
- One person posed some questions prompted by previous situations (Arnon Geshuri)
- It is unclear what will happen if a candidate is not confirmed.
- Will a second-choice candidate be submitted for a new community vote?
- Will there be a new call for candidates?
- Will the seat remain vacant?
- One person said this does not have the ability to accomplish the community’s goals and should be withdrawn and reworded to be more clear.
- One person suggested a parallel with Iranian elections and suggested the people should overthrow such a regime.
- Three people from Indonesia do not recommend Election of confirmed candidates.
- Three people from Open Foundation West Africa group meeting were in support of the election of confirmed candidates.
Direct appointment of confirmed candidatesEdit
- One person from the Indonesia community said there is no need for a call for feedback if the Board chooses this option.
- One person suggested this idea be closed for lack of positive discussion about the idea.
- The majority of the twelve participants from the Open Foundation West Africa group meeting did not support this idea. One person said this could mean the Board could appoint someone the community may not support.
Ideas from the CommunityEdit
- One person suggested having a fully elected body with some quotas for gender, language, continent, developer-background, etc.) as a solution to representativeness for communities not aligned with a Regional body.
- One person said to keep the system as simple as possible:
- Hold a single election for all Board seats. If the quota is not met, replace the lowest ranking winning candidates with the highest ranking unsuccessful candidates from underrepresented regions.
- Include all of americas outside of Canada and the US in the underrepresented regions. Include Japan and Korea as well.
- Don’t tie eligibility to regional alignments. Communities should be free to join whichever body is most convenient to them without it affecting their members’ ability to run.
- Everyone at a French Sub-Saharan community conversation said they agree with geographical quotas. One person said regional quotas should be proportional to the level of contributions from each region.
- A former board member at a French Sub-Saharan community conversation said the candidates should represent the movement globally and not be viewed as a regional representation battle.
- One person from Indonesia said, “Every regional seat should take turns every year. For example, 2021 ESEAP, 2022 Wiki Indaba, 2023 SAARC,and so on’
- A person in the Spanish Telegram chat said the problem with this idea is continental needs are not homogenous with local needs. People from the Wikimedia Bangladesh community agreed: super-groups like emerging Wikimedia communities and Asia won’t solve the problem of representation.
- People from Punjabi Wikimedians User Group suggested regional representatives instead of regional seats. Example; “South Asian Representative to the Board.” They also felt that voting for these regional representatives should be done within that region only.
- A person in the Spanish Telegram chat said the capacity needed for the Board should be considered when discussing this regional proposal.
- People from Wikimedia Bangladesh felt that there needs to be clear criteria and metrics to mark some region/community as “underrepresented”.
- In a French Sub-Saharan community conversation one person said Africa should be represented as it is the future of the movement.
- One person from a Wikimedia Uganda User Group meeting is concerned that affiliates or regions might nominate candidates for the sake of just wanting representation on the Board.
- People at a Turkic WikiCommunity meeting said regional and local affiliations should be given the opportunity to be present on the Board and vote for candidates.
- People at a Kurdish community meeting said this was the most popular idea. People at a North Africa Wikimedia community meeting agreed. They went on to say:
- Each region would have a chance to be represented: candidates elected from hubs could be directly elected and candidates elected from the hubs could run with candidates from other hubs in a final election.
- A person from the anonymous feedback form said: African Wikipedians should be given a permanent seat on the Board so conscious measures can be put in place to get the right person who meets the criteria.
- Everyone at the Open Foundation West Africa group meeting supports regional seats. One person suggested there be one male and one female for each region.
This proposal was suggested by Csisc to increase specialists on the Board (legal, economist, linguist, GLAM) by replacing some appointed seats with elected specialist seats saying having such people on the Board is key for the development of Wikimedia Governance.
- One person said appointed seats should be used to fill skill needs and think this might reduce the pool of candidates.
- Some people said qualifications are not an issue for community-elected Board members as all previous ones have been well-qualified.
- Everyone at a North Africa Wikimedia community meeting disagrees with this idea. They said there could be an advisory committee with experts instead.
- One person in the Spanish Telegram chat said this idea will only work with training since access to education is different globally. Another in the chat said this proposal is less inclusive because of this.
This section is organized by themes to help with the digestion of information. Some comments might fit more than one theme, but were placed with a judgement of best fit.
- One person mentioned gave the following feedback:
- Some research into why people don’t vote might be worthwhile.
- The Wikimedia Foundation should improve outreach to communities to encourage participation: banners, messages in advance to call for candidates.
- Encourage individuals to ask questions and notify members in different languages. (Translation of candidate information, a discussion on the village pump, and personal voting invitations increased participation in voting from the Ukrainian Wikipedia community with 25% of eligible voters voting).
- A person from the Punjabi Wikimedians User Group mentioned more effort should be made to increase the voter turnout so that the results are not skewed in favour of a region.
Better communication and connection is needed
- There’s a Board?!
- In a French Sub-Saharan community meeting one person said he doesn’t know how the Board works and he never heard about the Board before.
- Everyone at a North Africa Wikimedia community meeting said the same thing. They recommended creating and sharing awareness videos to help others participate.
- Most people from a Kurdish community meeting were happy because this was the first time they had a meeting with someone from the Wikimedia Foundation.
- People from Wikimedia Bangladesh felt that there is a gap and distrust from the community. They suggested:
- involving community members in the appointed seats process as well.
- more communication and community involvement in the Board proceedings.
- One person from the Open Foundation West Africa group conversation said explaining information in meetings with affiliates and communities will increase participation.
Inclusion and diversity
- One person said the community is eager to embrace diversity in candidates, if those candidates are otherwise acceptable.
- One person from the Spanish Telegram chat said the Board must ensure the inclusion of all people; i.e., remove barriers to entry, languages.
- One person from the Spanish Telegram chat said people are often chosen based on popularity and it’s hard for new diverse voices to compete with people who have been in the movement for 20 years. This forms an inequality of origin. Enabling and expanding the space in a conscious and consistent manner is the solution.
- A person from Punjabi community said to “anonymize” the candidates into certain profiles.
Comments not sorted into a theme
- From the anonymous feedback form:
- I believe the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees are really looking to be inclusive.
- The community should organize it, not the Wikimedia Foundation.
- One person from Open Foundation West Africa group meeting suggested that Wikimedians of the year should be offered a seat on the board.
- One person said, “The proposals here threaten to badly escalate an already bad relationship” referring to the relationship between the community and the Wikimedia Foundation.
CfF process feedbackEdit
- Former board member Alice Wiegand criticized communication and timing of the Board’s expansion. She stated that the expansion might cause a less creative and more sluggish board, eventually causing a loss of its power.
- One person said they feel the community’s vote will only count if it coincides with what the Board wants.
- Remaining concerns from a Wikimedia Uganda User Group meeting:
- Are Africans going to have a positive outcome from these discussions, considering Wikimedians from Europe and America are more than Wikimedians in underrepresented communities?
- What happens when more Wikimedians from Europe and America participate in the discussions and they support different ideas than the few Wikimedians from Africa who are able to participate in the discussions?
- Will the Board implement the ideas supported by the majority?
- Does it mean our participation in the discussions has been in vain?
- Several people shared feedback about the first weekly report:
- Be more clear about who said what and where.
- Be careful to use proper English in communication.
- Include linking to places where things were said.
Note from the team of facilitators: we will be more explicit about who said what where. We will provide links where we are able to do so. Proofreading will be done, but please do excuse grammatical errors. These things happen, especially when efficiency is key to producing a report each week. We will aim to capture what was said and present content from conversations across the entire community.
What is happening nextEdit
The second Call for Feedback Community Board seats Office Hours will be held on February 20.
Next week we start the second half of the Call for feedback. We will start identifying specific topics that welcome more attention and further discussion.
The Conversations page has an up-to-date list of conversations happening around the Call for Feedback. This includes future scheduled and proposed conversations. Reports from these conversations can be found on Meta.
Round 1 with Punjabi Wikimedians User Group
Round 1 with French Sub Saharan wikimedia communities Round 1 with Wikimedia Bangladesh Round 1 with Telugu community Round 1 with Urdu community / Dehlavi Wikimedia User Group
Round 2 with French Sub Saharan wikimedia communities Meeting with Wikimedia Uganda User Group members
Round 3 with French Sub Saharan wikimedia communities
Meeting with North Africa wikimedia communities Round 1 with Kannada Wikimedians
Round 2 with Punjabi Wikimedians User Group Round 1 with Wikipedians of Goa User Group Meeting with Open Foundation West Africa User Group members
The facilitator team thanks the following volunteers for:
- @Csisc: continuous translational work of all Cff-pages into Italian. Wow!
- @Sänger: for translational work to German.
- @Manavpreet Kaur and Satpal Dandiwal: for organizing a meeting with Punjabi community, in Punjabi!
- @NickK: and @Nosebagbear: for engaging in conversation and solution-focused discussion.