Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-03-04 West Bengal Wikimedians

Conversational Report
West Bengal Wikimedians - 4 March 2021



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

  • Along with the categories for gender and geography, non-Wikipedia Wikimedia projects themselves can be considered for quotas. Most of the candidates on the Board are Wikipedians and are less involved in other projects, comparatively. Representation from projects such as Wikisource, Wikivoyage, and Wiktionary is very important. The Foundation didn’t invest much in non-Wikipedia projects, as the leadership is not fully aware of the potential of them. A quota for non-Wikipedia communities would be good, or any other system that will ensure the representation of non-Wikipedia communities at board-level.
Call for types of skills and experiences
  • It would be good to have some experienced Wikimedians to serve on the Board. But experience should not only be counted for online editing, but also community organizing and is actively involved in the community. It would be good to have someone with at least ten years of experience in the Wikimedia community.
Board-delegated / Community-elected selection committee
  • A committee with a limited number of members making the final decision on the candidates is not a good idea. People will obviously feel and prefer people similar to them are better than others, this will bring a lot of bias in the selection process. It doesn’t sound fair to make choices based on subjectivity.
Regional seats
  • As satisfying all regions isn’t practically possible with a less number of seats, this can be approached from a negative direction i.e. instead of having a regional seat for an underrepresented group, a limit can be set for a group that is overspread. For example, instead of having a seat for South Asia, there are restrictions on having any more board members from North America.
  • Instead of a committee, affiliates in a region can come together to drive the selection process with community input. As affiliates already have community understanding and would have an understanding of the candidates from that region, and might be better positioned to decide on who might be the best candidate for the Board, from their region.
Specialization seats
  • This is a very grey area. There are a lot of areas where community members are experts in, similar to GLAM-Wiki and EduWiki - only popular skills might get a chance as the seats are very limited. There are other skills such as mapmaking in the community, which are not widely known. Having allocated seats for popular specializations will only lead to further ignorance of less popular skills.