Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-03-13 Nepali and Maithli

Conversational Report
Nepali Wikimedians and Maithili Wikimedians - 13 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

Ranked voting system
  • A ranked voting system will definitely increase the chances of more diverse candidates to win the elections. However, it won’t solve the problem entirely, it has to be combined with other measures to increase diversity. It is because there might be a fewer number of voters in the emerging Wikimedia communities compared to western countries. In the entire South Asia region, there are about 25 languages and even if there are 50 active editors in each community, there will only be about 750 editors, even that is very optimistic. But if we consider languages such English, German and French, each of them individually have thousands of editors, so the results will obviously get skewed in their favour, and no voting system can fix that problem. So to ensure diversity, combining RVS with other measures is definitely essential.
  • Having quotas is a good idea to ensure diversity. They have to be allocated for regions that have historically been underrepresented on the Board. The election process for seats having quotas should be separated from the open election, otherwise there is no point of having quotas. There can be elections for the quota seat(s) as well, but within the candidates eligible for that quota. This is the most obvious and straightforward way to address the issue of lack of regional diversity on the Board.
Call for types of skills and experiences
  • All board members definitely need to have certain skills, and meet some minimum criteria for skills and experience. However, such criteria has to be defined before the election process begins, but not after the voting is completed.
Board-deleted selection committee
  • The committee should be selected by the board itself, because they can ensure diversity better than a community election. This will put the onus on the board to ensure diversity. The committee thus formed should shortlist candidates and present evaluations before the voting process begins.
Community-elected selection committee
  • This approach will work better than a board-delegated group, only if there are mechanisms to ensure diversity on the committee. The number of positions on the committee should be uniformly distributed across various regions and also genders.
Regional seats
  • This is a good idea, however the voting should not be limited to certain regions. Since we are a global community, the voting should be open for all eligible Wikimedians.
  • From the appointed seats, two seats have to be allocated for people from movement-aligned organizations and groups such as Creative Commons, Mozilla, Linux etc. These should be from the large open-source and open-knowledge communities, such as FOSS, MOOC etc.
  • We appreciate Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts to collect community opinion on such important issues, and keeping everyone informed!