Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-03-02 Kannada community and Karavali Wikimedians

Conversational Report
Kannada community and Karavali Wikimedians - 2 March 2021





This is the second round of discussions with the Kannada community, wherein the call for feedback was explained to community members in Kannada, with the help of volunteers from the first round of discussions. The aim was to introduce the call for feedback to community members and capture their suggestions/comments and questions.

Topics and Notes


The community members were first introduced to the structure of Board of Trustees, their roles and responsibilities, along with the previous round of changes to the by-laws, in which the number of board seats were increased from 10 to 16, and the trustee evaluation form was approved. This was followed by the problem statement for the call for feedback, and why it is important for them and the larger community to be involved.

Feedback on specific ideas

  • Most of the volunteers opposed the idea of quotas. When we consider South Asian communities, the number of language communities is very large, compared to other regions. So even if there is a quota for the South Asian region, there is a less chance that the person will represent the entire region. So even if the concept of quotas is good in principle, whether it is useful/effective or not depends on how it is being implemented. For example, if there is a quota for South Asia, communities such as Hindi and Bengali might heavily influence the election results, as they have more users. It is similar to English dominating the rest of the world. If the goal is to increase diversity, other foolproof options should be considered.
Call for types of skills and experiences
  • Since we are talking about community seats on the Board, expecting a minimum involvement currently in the community should be definitely mandated. A candidate’s involvement in the community and knowledge of the movement should be evaluated. Apart from that, some basic (non-professional) skills can also be mandated.
Board-delegated / Community-elected selection committee
  • There should be a conflict of interest policy if a selection committee is being formed. Especially, the situation in which a committee member is also interested in being a board candidate should be addressed.
Regional seats
  • The voting for regional seats should be restricted to the region - how can an Indian vote on regional seats for Africa? The Foundation should develop a method to decide which user belongs to which region or is eligible to vote for which regional seat(s). It should not be restricted to languages, because contributors to English and other multilingual projects will be excluded - something like IP address location can be considered.
  • There should be a membership for Wikimedia Foundation, similar to chapters, that will solve a lot of issues related to voting and elections. Even if they don’t have any legal value according to WMF’s jurisdiction, they can still be considered for internal processes of the movement.
  • There are a lot of discussions going on—strategy, branding, and board restructuring—simultaneously and consecutively. This is causing fatigue among community members, and thereby unable to participate fully. Even if a community member wants to be passive for sometime, there is a fear of missing out and an urge to keep up, which only keeps increasing with more consultations. The Foundation should place their consultations across the year (similar to CentralNotice calendar), and make sure that there is enough rest to the community, from consultations.