Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees/Call for feedback: Community Board seats/Specialization seats

Call for feedback: Community Board seats
Main Page
How to participate
Board ideas
Community ideas

This idea has been suggested by Houcemeddine Turki during the Call for feedback about Community Board seats. If you want to suggest other ideas, please share them in the Call for feedback main Talk page.

To improve the expertise of the Board of Trustees, we need to involve people that have the skills needed by the board. These skills may range from business administration and law to computer science and linguistics.

This idea proposes the use of three community-and -affiliate selected seats for trustees with specialized skills. An exhaustive list of these skills should be proposed. This proposal is inspired by Regional seats, but considers field proficiency as a major gap to address. This proposal does not endorse the idea of quotas with a broad and unclear scope.

These seats could be dedicated to capacities in Economic Sciences, Computer Science, and Humanities. They could be expanded to include all varieties of knowledge such as Library and Information Science, which are underrepresented in the Board of Trustees and among employees of the Foundation despite having a GLAM Office.

The purpose of creating such seats is to choose expert people that have a significant wiki experience (e.g. members of specialized affiliates like Wikimedia Medicine or members of WMF teams like Technology Department) instead of appointing capacities from outside the Wikimedia Community.

Summary of ongoing feedback edit

The facilitation team keeps this section in sync with the main report.

The feedback was mixed. Some people felt specialized seats would be too complicated to implement or not important enough to the Board’s success. Others felt each trustee has an important role to play and this idea could help solve the Board's capacity problem. People who liked the idea suggested some specialized seats, frequently mentioning  technical and GLAM specialized seats.

Some specialized seats that were suggested are:

  • GLAM
  • Linguist
  • Technical
  • Economist
  • American lawyer
  • Digital freedom defender


  • Some see Specialization Seats as directly connecting with regional knowledge (see: Regional Seats). Some panelists said during the “Regional Seats” session that the Board needs people who understand the context and understand the community and people coming from specific regions will bring new, diverse perspectives to the Board.
    • A participant from the Noircir Wikipedia group suggested that the specialization should be based on the knowledge of the candidate of a specific region or community. For example, a candidate who has the best understanding of the African community and its needs.
    • One person from Malaysia said that a Trustee that specializes in helping small communities is necessary for mentoring and growth so they can be as strong as other communities. One person from the Philippines said specialized seats are necessary because some smaller communities do not have the membership to have a specialized expert.
  • It was suggested during the “Skills for board work” topic panel session that the community can vote and endorse skills they see as important, somewhat like the Community Wishlist.


  • At the German Wiki Women conversation one person said diversity was more important than broad and vaguely-defined skills.
  • One person on Meta-Wiki said appointed seats should be used to fill skill needs. They were concerned that specialization seats might reduce the pool of candidates.
  • One person in a French-speaking African meeting said an advisory committee could be filled with experts instead.
  • One person felt this could lead to inclusion of popular skills and ultimately lead to more ignorance of less popular skills.
  • One person on Meta-Wiki said skills have been overemphasized and the Board should be a generalist body. Not having specifically requested skills has also been said to be a good thing because an outside perspective can be helpful to identify missed items.

Other considerations

  • Some Wikidata volunteers felt it is tricky to evaluate a specialisation and how someone can be considered an expert in a field. They said that, while it is possible, it would be more of a job selection process rather than a board election process for community seats.
  • One person in the Spanish Telegram chat said this idea would only work if training is provided, since access to education is different globally. Another person said this proposal would be less inclusive if training is absent.