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

Conversational Report
Telugu community - 16 February 2021





This is the second round of discussions with the Telugu community, wherein the call for feedback was explained to community members in Telugu, 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

  • Volunteers felt that it is okay to have quotas, and it is a straightforward approach to deal with underrepresentation. A volunteer suggested that, which groups would have quotas should be scientifically decided. It can be based on ratios of number of languages in various regions across the movement, historical participation of volunteers from that region on the Board and other governance matters of the movement etc. Another volunteer added that it doesn’t always need not be about historical metrics, but also about the future potential. If the Foundation wants to grow its communities and/or reach a certain region, it is not a bad idea to have a board member from that region - think about “The Next Billion Users.”
Call for types of skills and experiences
  • Volunteers felt that it is unreasonable to demand skills from community members. If there is a candidate from South Asia with substantial experience in the community, he/she will be a good candidate for community seats on the Board, but demanding specific skills and experience is a compromise on diversity. However, some argued that it depends on what skills are being expected. For example, basic skills such as being able to work in a team and critical thinking should be required, whereas professional skills such as management and operations should not be mandated for community candidates.
Community-elected selection committee
  • Volunteers felt that having a board-delegated selection committee that shortlisting candidates for community election is better. However, shortlisting of candidates should be completely objective - a “go/no go” template has to be designed and used for this purpose. This will eliminate subjectivity from the decisions being made. Trustee Evaluation Form is similar, but it seems to be for qualitative evaluation - adding scoring rubric to for the evaluation form, and setting a threshold score for a candidate to be eligible to participate in the elections can help.
  • For community candidates, in the trustee evaluation form, “Board experience” and “Executive experience” parameters are not required. Under "Wikimedia experience", it should have more finer parameters such as on-wiki editing experience and community organizing experience. The current version of the form is well suited for appointed trustees, but not for candidates from the community.
  • An important factor that is missing from the Trustee Evaluation Form is experience/engagement of a candidate in management and/or governance issues of Wikimedia projects and communities. This can be, being a sysop, involvement in creating policies for a project (irrespective of any special rights) etc. More granular parameters will help in evaluating community candidates better, than a broad parameter such “Wikimedia experience”
Regional seats
  • Volunteers liked the idea of regional seats. For voting, they suggested categorising languages into various regions, and anyone with a certain level of involvement in those language Wikimedia projects should be allowed to vote for the regional seat encompassing that language(s), irrespective of their geographical location. How we are going to deal with languages such as English and multilingual projects such as Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata is going to be complicated. Also, in the case of restrictive voting for a regional, how many times will a user get to vote, needs to be thought - because the voting will be different for regional seats and open seats.
  • A volunteer suggested that the donor contributing the highest amount or representative from an institution that has contributed the highest amount, on average in the last three years, can be given a position on the Board using the appointed seats.
  • A volunteer felt that having a permanent “sort of” seat for Jimmy Wales doesn’t make sense and it should be merged with the community seats.
  • Volunteers suggested that, when the elections begin, the Foundation should proactively communicate with community members about elections and the importance of voting, as it is happening with the call for feedback process. Improving the voter turnout from emerging Wikimedia communities will help to improve diversity.
  • A volunteer said that the approach taken for this call for feedback is great. It is able to touch base with the fringes of the Wikimedia movement by having conversations with communities which generally don't participate in such discussions. This model, to internally communication within the movement should be carefully documented, along with learnings, and adopted as a best practice for further consultations.