Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Reports/2021-03-17 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 organized conversations and gathered feedback. During this call for feedback we published weekly reports. This is the final weekly report and it covers new activity March 8 - 14. We will continue to draft the final report that will be delivered to the Board.

If you think anything relevant is missing, let us know in the Talk page and we will consider its inclusion in the final report.

NewsEdit

The facilitation team will have a draft of the main report of the Call for Feedback available for community comment in the following week.

The reports of the four topic panels are available. Find them all including full videos (w/ captions), transcripts, chatlogs, etherpad and of course a TL;DR-summary here:

  1. Topic panel: Skills for board work
  2. Topic panel: Support for candidates
  3. Topic panel: Board - Global Council - Hubs
  4. Topic panel: Regional diversity

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.

  • One person on the idea talk page on Meta said, “Transferable vote is a bad ranked system...maybe we can discuss trying to invent a system that included both an oppose option and ranking.”
  • One volunteer in the "Board-Global Council-Hubs" panel session was in favor of this idea for the upcoming board election, with some fairly loose quotas of representation, because the support/oppose voting system puts an awful lot of weight on opposing votes. And, the volunteer said that without preferential voting or quotas then the elections will result in very similar kinds of people being elected.
  • From the anonymous feedback form: they strongly advise choosing the ranked voting system which is already used in many situations (as the Open Street Map Foundation board elections), which gives the community the full power.

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.

  • Three participants from the ESEAP LGBTQ volunteers say quotas ensure diversity for all genders. They think that LGBTQ volunteers in the movement are a minority but this minority voice could be given a chance at representation.
  • A Kannada volunteer shared their concern that if there is a quota for South Asia, communities such as Hindi and Bengali might heavily influence the election results, as they have more users, and volunteers from smaller communities will barely get a chance. It is similar to English dominating the rest of the world.
  • A volunteer from West Bengal suggested quotas for non-Wikipedia projects such as Wikisource, Wikivoyage, and Wiktionary, as they have received very little support and representation historically.
  • Volunteers from the Urdu community said quotas should be based on the population spread across the world, rather than active users. Even though Asia might have fewer users, they have a huge population, which indicates the future potential. This was also said in a conversation on the CfF talk page on Meta.
  • On a gender quota, one volunteer in the Spanish Telegram chat argued that women are a large portion of the global population, thus they are not a minority group, and gender diversity is fundamental in the Board of Trustees.
  • One volunteer in the Spanish Telegram chat thinks that a 50/50 gender quota is a binary concept that doesn't take into account the participation of LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • One volunteer in the Spanish Telegram chat considers it's of no utility to convene a group of different origins in an aseptic way. It is useful to analyze the particular context of what you want to place as a group.
  • A volunteer in the Spanish Telegram chat considers that any kind of quota produces a silent minority. This is the problem of thinking about reserved quotas, which in his country has been to the detriment of the indigenous community of that country.  
  • One volunteer from the 2nd Spanish conversation said to rank gender quotas over a regional quota because there is a need to generate a space where all genders can have more participation and space for decision-making.
  • Former trustee Christophe Henner said that he is not in favour of quotas, but they would have a direct impact on diversity and diversity is what the Board needs. Other ideas are not focused on diversity.
  • A CIS-A2K staff member said the Board adopting quotas will set a precedent for the governance structures across the movement, and implications of such measures should be considered. Since the reversal of the quota system can be controversial, criteria should be defined in advance for allocation of quotas.
  • A CIS-A2K staff member mentioned since there are a lot of opposition to this idea, there is a risk candidate(s) getting negative votes or lower rank just because a person is using the quotas to run for the Board.
  • During a 1:1 with Florence Devouard, former Board member, she said that there should be a clear definition of what the Board is looking for in terms of diversity. It is difficult to satisfy all types of diversity as there are only 6 seats.
  • One person on the idea talk page on Meta said quotas are only useful when there is a lack of gender diversity, but this is not the case.

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.

  • Gujarati volunteers suggested differentiating between basic skills and professional skills, and basic skills can be mandatory for all board candidates, while required professional skills can be trained on after the election.
  • A volunteer in the Spanish Telegram chat considers it essential that candidates have experience in Wikimedia activities, not necessarily leading groups but organizing activities.
  • One volunteer in the Spanish Telegram chat feels that people on the board should not necessarily have wiki experience. Ideally they should know the Wikimedia context, but they can have different backgrounds, training and skills.
  • A volunteer from the Gujarati community suggested forming a standard optional training program for all candidates to fill any gaps.
  • Former trustee Christophe Henner  said that this is something the Board has been doing for years, to say, ‘Hey, we need that, that, and that.’
  • Volunteers from Urdu community opined that “ability to offer a differing opinion” and debate should be a key skill to be considered.
  • During the “Skills for Board work” panel session, the conversation included the following key points:
    • People from the community can endorse skills they see as important (sort of like the community wishlist)
    • Not having skills may be good because then blind spots can be identified.
    • Some skills are important because the Board must be functional and efficient.

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.

  • Former trustee Christophe Henner said, that it goes against diversity because if you grade against a degree of skill set, you will shape the kind of condition that you have on language or understanding of the world, or you will end up by having only the richest people from some of the countries because they are the ones that have the skill set.
  • A volunteer from the Gujarati community suggested the candidates should go through an evaluation for skills before the elections begin.
  • During a 1:1 with Florence Devouard, former Board member, she said that the evaluation form may be a barrier: some candidates may not want to share publicly some of their personal information.

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.

  • A Nepali volunteer felt this approach is better because it puts the onus of ensuring diversity on the Board, rather than on the election process. The committee thus formed should shortlist candidates and present evaluations before the voting process begins.

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.

  • A Karavalli Wikimedian suggested having a conflict of interest policy if a selection committee is formed, and the situation in which a committee member is also interested in being a board candidate should be addressed.
  • A volunteer shared their concern that, in one of the previous elections, an election committee member resigned from their position after the process had started, ran for a board seat, and eventually won. They said that the time of being an election committee member had given an undue advantage to the candidate, and that a clear Conflict of Interest policy should have prevented this situation. It was suggested to have policies to avoid such patterns repeating again.
  • Volunteers from Urdu community suggested having regional subcommittees, working in coordination with the main committee, to increase the involvement of grassroot communities in the process.
  • A Maithili volunteer suggested distributing all the positions on the committee uniformly across various regions and genders.
  • A CIS-A2K staff member felt that when a person is elected through community voting system, they will be accountable to all volunteers, but if it is through a selection committee, their accountability may be limited to the committee itself.
  • A CIS-A2K staff member suggested having a monitoring committee that will keep a check on the process, behaviour, abuse of voting processes, too much canvassing etc. In real-world, an election commission keeps a check on corruption, bribing, code of conduct violations etc.

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.

No new feedback received during March 8 - 14.

Direct appointment of confirmed 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.

  • Two ESEAP LGBTQ volunteers said the ideal scenario for this idea is if the community knows what is needed in the Board, and the community submits qualified, screened candidates who passed the Trustee evaluation procedure.

Ideas from the CommunityEdit

Regional seatsEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 8 users from 3 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page.

  • One volunteer in the Spanish Telegram Chat thinks that it is not possible to measure each regional group with the same yardstick (referring to Iberocoop, Wiki Indaba, CEE, etc), since country to country conditions change radically and this condition changes how Wikimedia's mission is delivered. Other variables such as GDP, HDI, population size or the level of Internet coverage or access must be taken into account.
  • Volunteers from West Bengal suggested considering affiliates in a region to drive the selection process with community input, to finalise candidates for regional seats.
  • Former trustee Christophe Henner said, regional seats would fix the diversity issue. If you talk about diversity, that's one option.
  • A CIS-A2K staff member said the voting process should not be limited to a region as “we are volunteers without boundaries!” Even if a Board member is from India, but is not a Board member for India, but for the entire movement.
  • During a 1:1 with Florence Devouard, former Board member, she said not to be in favor of a regional or geographic quota
  • One person on the Quota idea talk page on Meta said while some people from Africa feel quotas will help, African members “have not been chosen that often because of lack of experience in comparison to other candidates.”
  • One person on the idea talk page on Meta suggests to implement regional seats “we use a mechanism similar to Affiliate-selected Board seats for the affiliates in a region to come together to pick 5 or 10 nominees that are qualified” from their region, and we then have a second round that is an at-large global election by editors from everywhere.
    • One person responded this “would create a system of disempowerment and voicelessness for the Brazilian community.”
    • Another person said this proposal might not work because of favoritism of people within their region.
  • One person on the CfF talk page on Meta said to spread out the seat allocation for Africa/Asia seats: have 1 for the 2021 election and add 1 seat for the 2022 election so the candidates from the regions have time to organize and prepare.
  • One volunteer of the Brazilian community stated that it is fine with the idea of regional quotas as long as a new governance model is proposed, since the existing models were not designed for regional representation, and therefore should not be considered legitimate instruments of regional representation moving forward.

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.

  • Volunteers from West Bengal felt that it is a very grey area, and only popular skills might get a chance as the seats are very limited. They felt that having specific seats for popular specializations will only lead to further ignorance of less popular skills.
  • All the participants of the ESEAP community LGBTQ volunteers  agreed that every Board Member should have a certain amount of skills. What the candidate or would-be Trustee from the community can offer the Board genuinely needs to run a global organization like the Foundation. And because each member has an important role to play, because of the Board's capacity problem, that is where specialized skills and experience come to play.

Candidate resourcesEdit

Meta-wiki Talk page conversation statistics: 2 users from 2 different home wikis have participated in the conversation on this idea's talk page.

  • Pharos, who proposed the idea, said on the idea talk page on Meta, added what he sees are key aspects of this idea. There should be:
    • office hours conducted in multiple languages
    • substantial outreach to all of the wiki communities
    • materials explaining board work and commitments to newcomers should be updated and translated widely
    • a special encouragement of those from underrepresented communities and backgrounds to run in the campaign
    • establish a mentorship program where potential candidates can get connected with past board members and past candidates.
    • things to make it easier for candidates to get their message out through candidate forums (friendly interviews with all candidates, shared on something like Wikipedia Weekly Network
    • more incentives and opportunities for board candidates and members.
    • professional training and other resources for everyone.
    • reimbursement of expenses related to board service such as childcare during meetings, so that such service is not as limited by personal financial resources.
    • social campaign for people to encourage and informally nominate their friends to run as candidates, maybe with WikiLove-like talk page messages.
      • Another person agreed with this.
  • Volunteers from Urdu community suggested organizing debates or group discussions amongst candidates to evaluate candidate ability to debate instead of simply agreeing with the group.
  • A volunteer in the Spanish Telegram chat believes that the people who are going to be part of the Board should be trained before they are elected. In order not to discriminate, all those who apply should be trained.
  • A CIS-A2K staff member said that even quotas won’t be of much help if “underrepresented” communities are not aware of the opportunity they have, and huge efforts should be put into creating awareness.
  • Three volunteers welcomed this warmer approach in the selection of the community Board seats. This means people helping other people shape the future Board of Trustees.
  • A volunteer from Goa suggested providing support for candidates in responding to questions asked during the elections. Talking to someone over a call is better than writing a lengthy response, staff can draft responses based on candidates’ thoughts.
  • During the "Support for Candidates" panel session one person suggested a team to support candidates before elections to inform and coach potential candidates about the election process. The candidate support team should also identify community members with potential and invite them to contest in the elections.
  • Former trustee Christophe Henner  said this has been done in the past but not systemic and organized (citing a case of supporting African leaders, where he and Katherine Maher were involved). He said this is good for the movement overall.
  • During a 1:1 with Florence Devouard, former Board member, she said that training for board members is needed with certifications and it should be organized by independent organizations outside the movement. Training like Leadership and Crisis Management could be offered to community members.
  • During a 1:1 with Florence Devouard, former Board member, said It could be interesting to have an experience-sharing mechanism for former board members to share their experience with the community and with candidates.
  • During the "Support for Candidates" panel session one person suggested pairing people with past or current board members.

Miscellaneous feedbackEdit

  • A volunteer in the Spanish Telegram Chat ponders that currently the movement is about who has the time (or money) to be present at the discussions. To move someone up to a regional seat in the Board it must be someone who has time (or is paid to have time) and local skills that are deemed desirable.
  • A Kannada volunteer shared their concern that there are a lot of discussions going on—strategy, branding, and board restructuring—simultaneously and consecutively, which is causing fatigue among community members. They have suggested having a consultations calendar.
  • A Maithili volunteer suggested having two appointed seats for people from movement-aligned organizations and groups such as Creative Commons, Mozilla, Linux, FOSS, MOOCs etc.
  • In the German Telegram chat a volunteer stated that he has to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to get to know the candidates and proposes a technical solution like the German Wahl-o-mat (a voting advice application).
  • One volunteer in the 2nd Spanish conversation commented that there is a tendency in this movement to always look for the perfect procedure, which is something that does not exist.
  • One volunteer in the 2nd Spanish conversation commented that we have a very serious diversity problem and measures have to be taken, even if they are in a short-term context.
  • A CIS-A2K staff member suggested to make the elections as multilingual as possible. Voter turnout and candidate nominations from emerging Wikimedia communities can be increased by translating important pages related to the election in as many languages as possible, and if needed, through paid translations.
  • On the "Support for Candidates" panel one person suggested that the Wikimedia board manual should be revised.
  • On board members compensation, one volunteer in the Spanish Telegram chat believes that "Wikimedia is not Wikipedia", and argues that a decent payment is not bad and does not undermine the moral dimension of the movement.
    • During the "Support for Candidates" panel session one person said this is controversial because it changes volunteerism and is unfair to volunteers in South Africa and socio-economically similar countries.
    • During the "Support for Candidates" panel session one person proposed to pay people to serve on the board, in order to encourage a really diverse group of people. One person supported this and added allowance should be provided to mothers who need to hire a babysitter or a nanny to take care of their children while they are away on board duties.

CfF process feedbackEdit

  • One person suggested on the main report talk page on Meta that there is no section in the main report to show ideas connections - which ones may produce unwanted results together and which ones may reinforce each other.
  • One person asked on the main report talk page on Meta about draft ownership of the main report.
  • In the German Telegram chat five volunteers discussed their reasons mostly not to take part in the CfF.
    • Two said they don’t want to spend additional time on this besides creating content
    • One referred to a combination of reasons: on one hand the board being far away in terms of space and content and on the other hand he felt not addressed as he understood the Call for feedback having a focus on underrepresented regions and population strata.
    • Another volunteer spoke about his general mistrust in WMF and WMDE both, as they seem to see Wikipedians as a necessary evil.
    • Another volunteer said the necessity to speak English is usually an obstacle for her.

What is happening nextEdit

We aim to have the draft of the Call for Feedback report ready for community review by the end of this week.

ConversationsEdit

  • 2021-03-09
Wikimedia Chile
  • 2021-03-10
Wikimedia México
  • 2021-03-12
CIS-A2K
WikiWomen's User Group
Topic panel: Skills for board work
  • 2021-03-13
Nepali Wikimedians
Maithili Wikimedians
Topic panel: Support for candidates
Topic panel: Board - Global Council - Hubs
  • 2021-03-14
Topic panel: Regional diversity

VolunteersEdit

  • @Cbrescia: for helping to translate the information regarding the Board of Trustees.
  • @Dsvyas: for helping to organize a meeting with the Gujarati community.
  • @Biplab Anand: for helping to organize a meeting with Nepali Wikimedians and Maithili Wikimedians.
  • Big thanks to all of the panelists who helped make the final conversations during the Call for Feedback successful!

Just for funEdit

Automatic transcriptions were captured for the panel sessions. Here are some funny sentences:

“Thanks to you, Chicken.”

“I'm looking for someone so unsettling.”

“We cannot want candidates who like if a candidate has previously led a double homicide organization, it's quite unlikely that this person. Probably not“