Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-03-10 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 draft the final report that will be delivered to the Board. This report covers new activity March 1 - 7.

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.

Join the conversation.

NewsEdit

Ideas discussed with the BoardEdit

Ranked voting systemEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 11 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • One person on the Talk page outlined concerns from historic use of the Schulze method in Wikimedia elections. Another person expanded on the situations that led to the issues using the Schulze method in previous elections. They reiterated the needs that have been expressed before from other community members:
    • Choosing the right ranked voting system
    • Explain the voting system simply
    • Clear interface design
    • Ensuring only qualified voters are voting
  • One person suggested looking on English Wikipedia: Comparison of electoral systems article. They indicated how the opportunity for underrepresented communities to get elected is proportional to the seats available and that would mean the person elected would be one person out of a large portion of underrepresented people.
  • One member of the Elections Committee thinks that we could move toward a Ranked Voting System but is still debatable what kind of system to put in place.
  • One person on the idea talk page on Meta now opposes ranked choice voting citing concerns over the Board installing “a supposed ‘winner’” who has majority opposition. They note the idea of quotas and the idea of a “committee to selectively confirm only candidates which it evaluates as preferred” changed their mind. One other person indicated they prefer to have “oppose” as an option as well.
  • A historical perspective was provided by one person who has been involved in prior election cycles.

QuotasEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 14 users from 7 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • The facilitation team published some research they had collected on quotas to support community discussion. Three people voiced their opinions about this on the WM Community Board seats Telegram channel and/or the talk page on Meta.
    • One person said, “This very much looks like pro-quotas - more specifically, pro-women quotas - activism.” Another person in the discussion said, “it's pretty clear that there's some sharp biasing going on.”
    • A person said the content collected by the facilitation team is “explicit activist material”
    • A person in the discussion tagged the collected research with a neutrality banner.
    • One person in the discussion suggested to delete the collected research on quotas and link to this Rotman piece about quotas

Suggestions of articles and links about quotas are welcome from the community. The community is welcome to include links and content from articles by editing the wiki page. The facilitation team also understands that the community may not have the time to do this. If this is the case and you find an article or link, the facilitation team would be glad to review and summarize on the wiki page.

  • This above situation sparked a conversion on the WM Community Board seats Telegram channel about quotas:
    • One person voiced concerns about language used in the final report.
    • Several people discussed how to implement a gender quota and the challenges of that.
    • One person suggested that gender representation should not come before regional representation.
    • One person suggested a maximum of 50% of any gender on the Board.
    • One person said women are not underrepresented at the Board level and there is no glass ceiling at the Wikimedia Foundation. Diversity rebalancing will be done by the Global Council.
      • A Wikimedia Foundation executive noted that women are underrepresented in elected/nominated seats, and appointed seats should not be the only guarantee of balancing diversity. They continue to say a glass ceiling and a welcoming environment for women in leadership roles, particularly women of color, are very different things.
      • A former trustee said representation doesn't remove the sexist bias that exists and, while not being pro-quotas, we should be mindful that this discussion is not just about representation. Saying there is representation can lead into thinking there is no problem.
  • A person in the conversation with Wikimedia Bénin User Group said a gender-based quota might be a good idea. Another person said a weighted system would allow for more representation from underrepresented groups.
  • Wikitech volunteers suggested that it should be ensured that there should be at least a minimum number of candidates participating in the elections from each defined region or group rather than having quotas.
  • A Wikidata volunteer suggested thinking of the question “if 50% of the seats are allocated to women, what is the basis for allocating 50% but not 40% or 60%?” They noted quotas should be based on objectively defined evaluation/scoring standards.
  • A Telugu community member suggested having scientific methods to decide which groups would have quotas. Some examples are 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.
  • One member of the Elections Committee argues that with quotas, you would have a problem where later on the members elected under a quota are seen as a less legitimate member.
  • Another member of the Elections Committee considers unless you have a system of short-term rotation it is not possible to cover all the diversity of our movement with quotas.
  • One person on the idea talk page on Meta suggested instead of quotas on the board using quotas in the process for motivating candidates to run for the Board. Restrictions on Board seats could apply to appointed seats if the Board wants a certain representation. Imposing restrictions on the community seats makes for ineffective representatives.

Call for types of skills and experienceEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 8 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • Wikimedia CH favors a combination of ideas, focussing on skills and experience and geographical representation seeing this as a good way to ensure diversity, competence, and representation.
  • One person at the conversation with Wikimedia Bénin User Group said that candidates should have minimal skills in people management and a good understanding of the movement. Another one said that good understanding of the movement should be the only skill that could be required.
  • A Wikitech volunteer suggested to look at diversity as a unique skillset or experience in itself. Diversity should be encouraged because it has been missing for the last fifteen years.
  • A Wikidata volunteer suggested that candidates’ knowledge/understanding about the global community should be evaluated before considering them for election/nomination/selection.
  • Volunteers from the Telugu community felt that 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 required for community candidates.
  • Volunteers from the Telugu community felt that the current version of the evaluation form is well-suited for appointed trustees, but not for candidates from the community; parameters like “Board experience” and “Executive experience” don’t make sense for community seats.

Vetting of candidatesEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 8 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

Board-delegated selection committeeEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 6 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • One member of the Elections Committee considers that with this type of idea, you end up having the same problem of diversity on the board, except now it is the selection committee’s problem to solve.
  • Another member of the Elections Committee suggests that a hypothetical selection committee might cause important disagreements, and be seen as taking power away from the community.
  • Some Wikidata volunteers felt that any kind of committee with a limited number of people can introduce a lot of bias into the process of selection compared to elections, as it “is a basic human tendency to favour people who are similar to us.”

Community-elected selection committeeEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 7 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

Election of confirmed candidatesEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 7 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

Direct appointment of confirmed candidatesEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 4 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • A volunteer from Malaysia said the Board knows the best candidate it needs from the selection committee’s submitted list of candidates. It should be implemented with utmost transparency.
  • A Filipino volunteer said there should be a limit on the direct appointments done by the Board.
  • One volunteer on the idea talk page on Meta commented that direct appointment of candidates is not a good way to get buy-in from the participants in the different Wikimedia projects. They said this method does not represent the community ethic so prevalent in Wikimedia projects. They said there is an increased risk of appointing unqualified people.
  • A person from Hong Kong says the community-elected selection committee will choose the best and the brightest people that deserve to be on the Board.
  • One member of the Elections Committee considers that with the direct appointment of confirmed candidates, you end up stripping some functions that the community understands are theirs.

Ideas from the CommunityEdit

Regional seatsEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 6 users from 3 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • A person from Hong Kong said regional seats are a good idea and will add more voices to the respective regions along with Hubs.
  • One member of the Elections Committee thinks that there are a lot of problems in having regional seats. It is better to have a regional specialization seat with rotation between regions. For example, region A will have an open seat on technical skills, the following year the region B would have the same seat open.
  • A Wikitech volunteer suggested having regional community-elected selection committees for regional seats.
  • A participant in the conversation with Wikimedia Bénin User Group said quotas should be based on the contributions of each region or community.

Specialization seatsEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 7 users from 5 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • One person said that a healthy Board whose members are well-balanced in terms of skills and specialization empowers the Board even more. They said that some dependence on staff and committees will also be minimized with a healthy, balanced, and skilled Board.
  • One member of the Elections Committee suggests rather than having specialization seats to search for people based on requirements to target diversity and specialization. Diversity cannot be guaranteed but some criteria will be met, and the criteria can change every other election.
  • Some Wikitech volunteers felt it would be good to have a seat for the technical community, as a good way to ensure that there is someone with a technical background on the Board.
  • Some Wikidata volunteers felt it is tricky to evaluate a specialisation and how someone can be considered an expert in a field. While it is possible, it would be more of a job selection process rather than a board election process for community seats.

Candidate resourcesEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: No community members have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page so far.

  • Jenny Ebermann, Executive Director of Wikimedia CH remarks, that any coaching before being seated on the board should not be expected, but recommends it during a trustees term. Wikimedia CH has already been running efforts on this and has changed its bylaws to enable longer terms so sustainable Board development is possible.  
  • One person from Hong Kong said this is an innovative approach to making global leaders. People can learn and adapt. Since most of the candidates come from the community, a little helping hand from the Wikimedia Foundation will support them towards becoming a better candidate and possibly a member of the Board.
  • All participants in a Conversation with Wikimédia Bénin User Group agreed that resources should be provided to candidates. A participant said that mentoring/coaching support should be the most important resource to provide to candidates. Another participant added that there should be a package of resources shared among all candidates but there should not be any individual support or resources.
  • Two members of the Elections Committee think that this idea would be only beneficial for future elections.

Miscellaneous feedbackEdit

  • In the WM Community Board seats Telegram channel and in the second office hours, a discussion took place about the history, function, and structure of the Board. The community would like the function of the Board to be better defined and for there to be more transparency in meetings, roles, and responsibilities. There was discussion about how this might intersect and change with the upcoming Global Council and Hubs.
  • A telugu community member suggested that the donor contributing the highest amount can be given a position on the Board using the appointed seats.
  • Telugu community members suggested when the elections begin the Wikimedia Foundation should proactively communicate with the community about elections and the importance of voting.
  • One person in the WM Community Board seats Telegram channel brought up the questions:
    • Why do we have community seats on the Board?
    • What do we expect from them?
    • Are they for expertise in specific domains, eg, community organizing?
    • Accountability of the Foundation to the movement?
    • Insight into strategy?
    • All of the above?
    • What are the qualifications and responsibilities to best meet these obligations?
    • Do these roles meet all the needs for governance? If not, what other capacities do we need or expect for the board?
  • Several people discussed on the CfF talk page on Meta about the overdue elections. Six people found the need to delay elections due to the “very far-fetched reasoning of Covid-19” inappropriate because “the reasoning has been contradicted by the Board's other actions.” The discussion refutes the possibility of disruption caused by the pandemic to one’s ability to continue normal Wikimedia involvement. One person in the discussion said, “these are completely botched priorities” referring to the bylaws changes and branding project. Another person said, “There are no health concerns with voting or ‘campaigning,’ only time management and ability to log on. As far as I am aware, the pandemic has not caused any internet outages worldwide.”
  • Discussion continues about overdue elections, staggering elections and diversity on the CfF talk page on Meta. One participant wondered why the seat allocation discussed suggested 2 seats for Asia and 1 for Africa. A former trustee said in the conversation, “We should be considering the pool of expected and desired editors, not the pool of current editors, in determining how much weight and attention to give to the needs of the region.” The topic of governmental influence was also discussed.

CfF process feedbackEdit

What is happening nextEdit

The facilitation team will continue gathering feedback until March 14. This will include the conversations happening March 12 - 14 on the topic panels. This information will be published in the final weekly report of the Call for Feedback: Community Board seats. The facilitation team will then focus on publishing the main report.

ConversationsEdit

  • 2021-03-02
Kannada community & Karavali Wikimedians
  • 2021-03-03
Wikidata
Conversation with Wikimedians of Bénin User Group
  • 2021-03-04
MediaWiki and Wikitech
  • 2021-03-06
Telugu community
Dehalvi Wikimedia Community User Group

VolunteersEdit

The facilitator team thanks the following volunteers for:

  • @Gopala Krishna A: for helping to organize a meeting with the Kannada community.
  • @Bodhisattwa: for helping to organize a meeting with the West Bengal Wikimedians UG.
  • @Faismeen: for helping to organize a meeting with the Dehalvi (Urdu) Wikimedia UG.