Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-03-06 Dehalvi Wikimedians

Conversational Report
Dehalvi Wikimedia User Group (Urdu language community) - 6 March 2021





This is the second round of discussions with the Dehalvi Wikimedia User Group, wherein the call for feedback was explained to community members in Urdu, 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

  • Quotas should be implemented on a regional basis, because historically diversity across geographies has been quite bad. Asia (and/or different regions in Asia) should get more representation on the Board, because even though the number of active users are less compared to the numbers of English or several others, the population concentration in this part of the world is more, and there is a huge potential for growth. It is evident from the last few years that the growth rate has been high from Asia communities. So considering the potential and increasing access to digital technologies, Asia should definitely have more representation, probably with multiple seats.
  • Since it isn’t practically possible to have quotas or seats for all the regions, a rotational system would be good. However, there has to be a method to objectively decide which groups get it first, and which later - indications from movement strategy can also be considered for this.
Call for types of skills and experiences
  • Even if it is community seats, having someone who only represents us won’t be very helpful, but the person should have some basic skills to ensure that they are equipped to fulfill the responsibilities required by the role. Skills such as team work, management, and mainly ability to offer a differing opinion. A “yes man” can be extremely dangerous at board level, failing the whole purpose of measures to increase diversity. Some of the volunteers also felt that knowledge of contributing content to any Wikimedia project, apart from involvement in meta-level discussions is also important.
Community-elected selection committee
  • The processes to be followed by such a committee need to be elaborated. With the reasoning that a committee will be able to evaluate candidates better from the perspective of the Board’s requirements for skills and diversity, this approach sounds better. However, there has to be highest possible transparency regarding the committee’s proceedings. As of now, there is no clarity on the nitty gritties of the formation of the selection committee, and also how the committee will make its final decisions.
  • To increase the involvement of grassroot communities in the process, the committee should be divided into several regional committees or say subcommittees. Each subcommittee will be independent of each other, but working in coordination with the main committee. Each subcommittee (say for South Asia) will consult with community members in their region, evaluate candidates and make their recommendations or vote. The main committee will consider all these recommendations and make its final decisions. Another way is to let subcommittees vote, and votes from all the subcommittees will be tallied for final decision.