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Wikimedia Foundation elections/2017/Board of Trustees/Questions/2


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Contents

Priorities during your tenureEdit

 

Sort the following priorities by most to least important to the Wikimedia Foundation:

  • Increasing editor retention
  • Increasing reader and editor participation in the emerging communities
  • Reducing the gender gap in the editing communities
  • Providing more engineering resources to improve editors' experience
  • Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' experience
  • Investing more in collecting data relevant to our mission
  • Investing more in mobile
  • Reducing the negative environmental impact of the Wikimedia Foundation or movement
  • Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet
  • Funding more offline activities (e.g. conferences, editathons)
  • Finalizing and implementing the new Wikimedia movement strategy

What would you add to this list and where would you place them? What will you do in order to see your prioritization implemented?

Based on questions from denny and the Elections Committee pool
Chris Keating (The Land)
If I was asked this question by someone while I was on the Board, (e.g. by the WMF Executive Director), I would probably invite them to ask a different question. :-) Some of these things are quite different in scope, and as a result aren't comparable levels of priority. Having a movement strategy is a very top-level thing. Something like increasing editor participation is also a high-level aspiration. Spending more on mobile or conferences is an operational method to (potentially) reach some of those goals. It's no accident that the last time this question was asked, candidates collectively ranked the most general aspirations top and the most specific projects bottom.

So this answer so far is probably telling you that I like to think carefully about issues and challenge assumptions. Hopefully those are characteristics that you want in a Board member!

That said it's probably helpful for me to answer the actual question as well:

1)Movement strategy
This is an overarching priority. Without a strategy we don't know where we are going or how we're getting there.
2) Jointly: Increasing participation in emerging communities; Reducing the gender gap
3) Increasing editor retention
All of these are very important for the long-term health of our communities, and thus our ability to fulfill our mission. These should be among the key measures that WMF looks at to know whether it's succeeding or not. However, they aren't the only things.
I would like the WMF to improve its metrics develop some kind of "balanced scorecard" approach looking at reach, importance, quality and diversity of content, as well as numbers of new and long-term contributors and how happy they are. More thought on this in my meta-essay on how to understand our impact.
4) Providing more engineering resources to improve editors' experience
5) Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' experience
6) Investing more in mobile
7) Funding more offline activities
These are all methods of working towards the things I've put higher on the list.
I have prioritised editor experience over reader experience because we have problems attracting and keeping editors, but we don't currently have problems getting readers. There is still huge scope to make editing easier and more fun and rewarding for inexperienced editors, and also to create more tools for power users working with bulk changes or protecting the integrity of our projects.
"Investing more in mobile" to me seems to be a subset of things one can do to improve editor or reader experience, so I have marked it lower. Offline activities are probably a rather lower priority. I have helped run plenty of conferences, editathons and training sessions, but they are less the WMF's core business and more appropriate for affiliates or individuals.
8) Reducing environmental impact of WMF
Yes, we can do more here. I welcome the board resolution and look forward to seeing how this can be implemented.
9) Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet
I think we're mainly advocating for this by doing it. But we can also add our voice to other conversations where it's important to do so.
Not ranked: Collecting more data I'm not clear enough what this means to be able to answer it. User surveys? Tracking cookies for Wikipedia visitors? Datasets to incorporate in Wikidata? Some of those would be great, some of them would not be so helpful.
Milos Rancic (millosh)
  1. Editor empowerment (approximately: Increasing editor retention)
    Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects exist primarily because of editors. Without editors we wouldn't have content. But editors are not the most important resource, editors are humans, as well, with various needs. They are the center of our movement and we should care about them the most.
    I don't like the treatment of editors as resource, not as humans. However, "editor empowerment" instead of "increasing editor retention" is not just about different words, but about changing the approach from just caring what editors are bringing to WMF to the approach of mutually beneficial relationship, the approach which would assume that WMF should substantially support editors, as well.
    I completely understand that no matter how big, the WMF funds are limited. However, WMF itself could create the ecosystem in which editors could benefit in various ways.
    One of the examples is my long-standing idea of creating something I call "Wikimedia Market". There should be the place inside of the Wikimedia ecosystem which would allow Wikimedians to be hired based on the knowledge they have shown while voluntary working on Wikimedia projects. So, if somebody has a good knowledge of history, edited articles about history a lot, that person would, thanks to Wikimedia Market, have a chance to be employed by an online magazine which needs an editor of the articles about history. (No, this is not about paid editing. Paid editing issue hasn't been resolved inside of the community and we should discuss about acceptable and non-acceptable models for editors' paid work.)
    There are other areas for substantial empowerment of the editors. It could be about counseling needs, it could be about political empowerment inside of the Wikimedia ecosystem, it could be about other needs, some of them covered inside of the priorities below.
  2. Reducing the gaps
    There are numerous gaps we should reduce. Some of them are well known, some of them exist but we are not talking about them, but, I am sure, many of them exist, while we have no idea they exist. I am limiting this issue on two well known gaps and one which is not in the focus of the regular narrative about the gaps.
    1. Gender gap
      This is the most important gap, as it affects approximately 50% of humans, no matter where they live. This is also the most difficult gap, as this gap is the product of thousands of years of inequality. And we have to do our best to overcome it.
    2. Emerging communities
      This is very important, as well. I would just like that we always keep in our minds that we should listen, as well as that listening is just the first step and that many other challenges are on our way to include the emerging communities into our movement.
    3. Periphery of the [first world] societies
      Wikimedia movement is dominantly consisted of well educated and privileged population of particular societies. In US it's about rich urban and suburban areas of the East and West coast, but not about rural areas, even they are relatively close to the metropolitan areas and not about poor urban areas; in Europe it's about the centers of the large cities, but not about suburbs, small towns and rural areas; in India it's about historically privileged social classes of large cities.
      If you count the population of those areas, we are likely reaching just 20-30% of population of the most developed countries as the editor base. Everybody else is out of our reach. And it's not surprising that significant portions of the population have attitude towards Wikipedia negative enough to simply have no idea that they could actually participate.
      How to solve those gaps? I don't think that there is one answer. Second and third generations of immigrants in Western Europe belong to that category. But no matter of the peculiarities, it's relatively easy to solve this issue. Serbs in Vienna, Turks in Berlin and Arabs in Paris have their own cultural institutions and chapters could approach those cultural institutions even formally.
      At the other side, there are suburbs all over Europe with 100,000 or more -- native or immigrant -- inhabitants which don't have any cultural center, not even a high school. How to reach those people? I have no clear idea, but we have to think how to overcome that challenge.
  3. Helping the articulation of important movement groups
    This part is partially related to the editors, but it's wider and of strong political importance for our movement.
    In the sense of long-lasting consequences, those which should bring representation, editor empowerment will not be finished as long as there is no clear and organized articulation of editors' will. Organizational parts of the movement tend to ignore editors. That should be stopped.
    However, editors are not the only unorganized part of the movement. The most important part of the movement which is not organized yet are employees of Wikimedia Foundation and other Wikimedia organizations. Employees have participated in creation of the Wikimedia movement as it is now and they should have a formal way to express their needs and their opinions.
    And we should monitor if any new similar group emerges. It's always better to have clear channels for communication than forcing people to secretly fight for their interests.
  4. Strategy
    Strategy is very important and this is by far the best attempt to make one. Big thanks to the organizers :)
  5. Engineering resources for editors' experience
    This is the technical part of the editor empowerment. WMF has to be a vanguard, but it also has to strictly listen to editors.
  6. Mobile
    I see this as the technical part of the gap which we have in relation to the emerging communities and younger generations. We need to allow them to read and edit Wikimedia projects from their preferred devices.
  7. Collecting data relevant to our mission
    Collecting data is something we are doing. We should continue working in this area and, if problems appear, we should react.
  8. Engineering resources for readers' experience
    I wouldn't make difference between editors' and readers' experience. Editors are also readers. To be able to edit Wikimedia projects properly, we need to be able to read them properly, by using contemporary technology.
  9. Offline activities (e.g. conferences, editathons)
    Offline activities are important, as they connect us in real life.
  10. Endowment
    While not something inside of the group of the ongoing urgent and important things to do, creating Wikimedia Endowment is of strategic long-term importance for both Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia movement. I would like to see the "work in progress" on endowment during the next year or two.
  11. Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet
    This is important and we should definitely stay a part of the wider free content movement. However, we have a lot of more important issues to solve at this moment.
  12. Reducing the negative environmental impact of the Wikimedia Foundation or movement
    This should be a standard procedure for the Wikimedia organizations. It is good to make an analysis in relation to what we can do now, in the midterm and on the long run and implement environment-friendly policies wherever and whenever we can.
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
1) Finalizing and implementing the new Wikimedia movement strategy

This is crucial, as the movement strategy sets priorities for all other points and puts them in the right perspective, relations, and order.

2) Providing more engineering resources to improve editors' experience We’re doing better and better, but yet we face new challenges all the time. I believe that our editor community needs powerful tools to combat harassment, black-hat paid editing, as well as to simply make our lives easier with everyday tasks. Also, it is crucial that we propagate good solutions throughout all projects, not just en-wiki.

3) Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' experience All in all, we rely on UX that is, sort of, 20 years old. We are getting better, but startups such as wikiwand show that there is a scope of improvement. Good readers’ experience translates into more editors, more content, etc.

4) Increasing editor retention Editor retention is a litmus test of our community’s health. Also, someone who mastered our rules is very valuable – training a new editor is a significant entry-barrier and cost. We do have promising research insights in how we can improve here.

5) Investing more in mobile We see the data that show how massively big the mobile traffic becomes, and we can’t stay behind.

6) Reducing the gender gap in the editing communities Introducing more balance and bringing diversity to our projects is important (however, I believe that aforementioned tools for editors, as well as working on editor retention translate directly also to less hostile environment, and also less gender gap).

7) Funding more offline activities (e.g. conferences, editathons) It makes me painfully sad to see so many Wikimania applications declined. I understand we need to be frugal – and yet I believe that investing in Wikimania is actually an affordable way to increase long-term motivation (has anyone researched this? We should!). I believe we need more local meetups, and also formats that allow partial funding.

8) Investing more in collecting data relevant to our mission I believe that a lot of our work should be research-driven. We already have an amazing research team – a bottleneck is elsewhere, not in the lack of data or even knowledge how it can be applied, but in the execution. Thus I think that we need to invest more in the use of data we already have.

9) Increasing reader and editor participation in the emerging communities This point is very much driven by better tools for readers and editors, as well as mobile development – and even more can be done through our affiliates.

10) Reducing the negative environmental impact of the Wikimedia Foundation or movement I believe that it is our duty to make such an effort. In fact, as a Board member, I have supported the Board’s resolution to seek ways to reduce impact of our activities on the environment. However, I do not think that this is our biggest problem now – not as big as harassment, editing tools, mobile, or gender gap anyway.

11) Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet It is very important, but there are others who do it well, and we are better at things they can’t do. But we surely can give support.


The points that I would add:

  • setting up a special task force developers’ team for implementing research-driven solutions,
  • dedicating resources into propagating tools and practices from our biggest projects also to smaller ones,
  • spearheading a cost-reduction initiative at the WMF and at the affiliates (allow the staff to propose savings without jeopardizing the mission, so that we can have more resources for what we actually need – the simplest example being making travel arrangements for Wikimania as early as possible).
James Heilman (Doc James)
1) Providing more engineering resources to improve editors' experience

If we have more tools to reduce sock puppeting and harassment this will improve editor experiences. This may also improve the gender gap. If we improved editors' abilities to improve content this will improve readers experiences.

2) Investing more in mobile

Definitely key. Over half of readership is now via mobile. We need the mobile team to let us the community know how we can help. User:Tbayer (WMF) provided me some amazing data a few years back (60% of readers never go past the leads of our articles). I have subsequently worked on these more than 800 leads of key medical articles. I am also working with the mobile folks to try to address the issues around short descriptions wrt ENWP/WD.

3) Finalizing and implementing the new Wikimedia movement strategy

Important definitely. This will give us a shared roadmap.

4) Investing more in collecting data relevant to our mission

Some great work has recently be done in this area. Big thanks to the Community Tech Team who got the “Monthly popular pages by Wikiproject” up and running again. The original version by User:Mr.Z-man is what pulled me into editing Wikipedia originally. I hope to see it in other languages soon if it is not there already.

5) Reducing the gender gap in the editing communities

6) Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' experience

7) Increasing editor retention

This is sort of the holy grail. While we should dedicate some resources to the problem, we are really not sure how to achieve this goal which makes it tough. Many of us have tried many things.

8) Increasing reader and editor participation in the emerging communities

Same as above. But likely even harder. Yes some resources but we need to figure out what works first.

9) Reducing the negative environmental impact of the Wikimedia Foundation or movement

We likely do this best by providing high quality and reliable information. When global warming really hits science, the general population's understanding of science will be more important than ever.

10) Funding more offline activities (e.g. conferences, editathons) I think where we are at with respect to funding offline activities is fairly decent.

11) Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet

We do this every time we make Wikip/media better. While we can try to change the rest of the Internet we will likely not succeed. We have some chance of making changes to ourselves.
Abbad Diraneyya (عباد ديرانية)
  • (1) Investing more in mobile
Why first? Because it is probably the right approach to things. Not to achieve one goal only, but to achieve many things altogether. We had like to think of most Wikipedia editors as nerds with laptops, but they are not. Not anymore. In developing countries, in poor areas, and among extremely young people all around the globe, mobile devices are becoming dominant. Focusing on this will be a key to reach a ton of new people, to adapt with the changing future, and, more importantly, to effectively bridge too many gaps all at once.
  • (2) Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet
Most Wikimedians would not like to view this as a top priority, since we sometimes tend to be concerned only with what we had like to be concerned with. If we are going to attain new editors at all, advocating free knowledge is unthinkably important. Wikimedia’s values are amazing, but most people do not get the chance to know neither understand them to be amazed with them. If we do not start educating internet browsers about our mission as effectively as possible, our future could be potentially catastrophic.
  • (3) & (4) Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' and editors' experience
By working on Strategy discussions, I have noticed that technical issues are a major concern for an exceptionally wide range of Wikimedia editors, not to mention every and last new Wikipedian I have had the chance to work with.
  • (5) Investing more in collecting data relevant to our mission
I could be right on this one, and I could be wrong. How can we know? I guess we need some data to prove it either right or wrong, A much valuable data, which we could only collect through more research.
  • (6) Finalizing and implementing the new Wikimedia movement strategy
I guess this could be a rather unpopular opinion, to place Strategy a little low, especially for a Strategy coordinator. However, the way I see it: our main reason for prioritizing Strategy so much is that we value consulting the broader community in every matter as a main quality of our movement. This is great, but does it really produce an impact that is as successful as we had like to think it is? I am not claiming it does not, but I have to see evidence yet.
  • Gaps
I am afraid I will have to disagree with too many members of our community on gap issues. Not because I do not believe they are critical for our movement, but because I believe they are usually misdealt with.
  • (7) Increasing reader and editor participation in the emerging communities'
As I do come from a somewhat ‘emerging’ community, I had like to think it is not very important for the entire movement to be concerned with this. A community can only grow itself by the efforts of its own individuals: while the movement should always be there to provide a much needed support for them, it should not be overwhelmed with the issue as to spend massive non-needed resources.
  • (8) Reducing the gender gap in the editing communities'
Gender gap is important, very important. However, I doubt how useful it can be to place it as a movement’s wide priority.
  • (9) Funding more offline activities (e.g. conferences, editathons)
These events require extremely huge grants, but do they produce the results to make up for it? It depends on each event’s value and how much impact it has produced in its past years.
  • (10) Reducing the negative environmental impact of the Wikimedia Foundation or movement
In my personal belief, this is one of the most valuable things I had like us to work on. Not sure if it needs this much attention though (do we actually have any environmental impact apart from our servers?).
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
  1. Finalising and implementing the new Wikimedia movement strategy.
  2. Increasing reader and editor participation in the emerging communities.
  3. Reducing the gender gap in the editing communities
  4. Increasing editor retention
  5. Providing more engineering resources to improve editors' experience
  6. Investing more in mobile
  7. Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' experience
  8. Investing more in collecting data relevant to our mission
  9. Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet
  10. Funding more offline activities (e.g. conferences, editathons)
  11. Reducing the negative environmental impact of the Wikimedia Foundation or movement <- Last only because we already have set a plan in motion to achieve this!
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
It might look negative but my clear #1 is not on that list:
  1. Improving the relationship between the Foundation and editing communities. Yes, things look a lot better than in 2015, yes, a lot has improved. I'll lean back and say "Good job!" if and only if
    • Editors by default assume that the Foundation will help if editors need it
    • The Foundation by default attempts to assist editors if they ask for it---even if that is not yet their priority, even if the department responsible does not think it is important

Otherwise, yes, the more general items are higher on my list, too. With no particular stress on the order of the items I think the Foundation should be doing all of this:

  1. Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet
  2. Investing more in mobile
  3. Increasing editor retention
  4. Increasing reader and editor participation in the emerging communities
  5. Finalizing and implementing the new Wikimedia movement strategy
  6. Investing more in collecting data relevant to our mission
  7. Reducing the gender gap in the editing communities
  8. Reducing the negative environmental impact of the Wikimedia Foundation or movement

The expansion of certain activities I believe should be on hold for now (the expansion, not the activities themselves):

  • Providing more engineering resources to improve editors' experience
  • Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' experience
  • Funding more offline activities (e.g. conferences, editathons)
Yuri Astrakhan (yurik)
We need to make our tech the motivator for our community, aligned with our mission and our values. Each must be connected, and improving one builds up the other.
  • Providing more engineering resources to improve editors' experience and Increasing editor retention are closely aligned. There are many valuable movement goals we can all agree deserve investment. Different priorities are best served by different kinds of investment, whether by budget allocation, board action, policy change or other action. Focusing on my area of experience, I feel the technology budget should be spent on delivering wider variety of content. Wiki experience should be engaging and interactive, aiding in education and verifiable facts / data.
  • Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' experience
  • Investing more in mobile
Substantial growth in mobile, clearly needed. Especially relevant in the developing world - many places have more people with mobile phones than with electricity at home.* Finalizing and implementing the new Wikimedia movement strategy
Implementing is much easier than agreeing. At this point, the strategy is not as clear as community desires or deserves.
  • Reducing the gender gap in the editing communities
Partially tied to engineering, partly to organizing off-line events, and partly in establishing better ways to interact in a civil way.
  • Increasing reader and editor participation in the emerging communities
There is a world beyond English Wikipedia. Emerging wikis spend disproportional efforts to get started, instead of reusing content from bigger wikis, such as templates and modules. There are many technical means to help with that.
Abel Lifaefi Mbula (BamLifa)
This is not an easy task. Everything seems to be important. But as we have to prioritize, here is my proposal:
  1. Finalizing and implementing the new Wikimedia movement strategy
  2. Providing more engineering resources to improve readers' experience
  3. Providing more engineering resources to improve editors' experience
  4. Investing more in mobile
  5. Increasing reader and editor participation in the emerging communities
  6. Increasing editor retention
  7. Reducing the gender gap in the editing communities
  8. Investing more in collecting data relevant to our mission
  9. Funding more offline activities (e.g. conferences, editathons)
  10. Reducing the negative environmental impact of the Wikimedia Foundation or movement
  11. Advocating for free and safe access to reliable and neutral knowledge on the internet


Removal of membersEdit

 

Under what circumstances would you personally be willing to support the removal of another board member? If a board member selected through this community selection process were removed, would you support calling for another election (a by-election)?

Based on a question from BethNaught
Chris Keating (The Land)
I've served on many volunteer boards and committees inside and outside the movement - and from that experience I have certainly known situations where it's in everyone's best interests for a particular member to leave. This could be for some really obvious issue (e.g. being convicted of fraud), or issues with their serious problems with behaviour (e.g. if someone is so combative or difficult to work with that they are compromising the Board's ability to do its job).

A conflict-heavy solution like voting to remove someone is disruptive. So we should always seek to resolve issues another way when possible. However, sometimes it may be necessary, and the Board needs to have the power to do it. I would expect any motion to remove a Board member to come with a written statement of which parts of the Code of Conduct the Board member has broken. Often most of the details can’t be made public, but the Board and the person being removed at least need a written record of the rationale, and the person who might be removed needs the chance to formally respond. I don't believe this happened when Doc James was removed from the Board, and whether that decision was right or wrong, I think the lack of such a process inflamed the situation. I think that the Board needs to get better at communicating about difficult situations generally, including if this situation ever arises again.

If I become a community-(s)elected Board member, I don't expect to have any special status, and I'd expect the rules to apply to me just as much as anyone else. In the event a community-elected member resigns or is removed, I think the obvious things to do are to hold a by-election, or perhaps to appoint a runner-up from the election (particularly if the election was very recent, and/or doing so would help balance the Board’s makeup).
Milos Rancic (millosh)
I could imagine extreme situations which would require a community-elected Board member removal: serious crime, an action which obviously damages WMF and/or the movement and similar. (In relation to the "expert" seats, not giving relevant expertise would enough for removal. In relation to the chapters seats, lack of chapters support would be enough for removal.)
However, nothing like that happened when James Heilman was removed from the Board. In such situations, I would, of course, do my best to solve the conflict. However, if we reach the dead end, I would resign from the Board, counting that I wouldn't make serious damage to the WMF and to the movement with my resignation.
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
I think that it is appropriate to remove another board member who obstructs the work, is uncooperative, scheming, committing misconduct, or acting in bad will, and especially when there is no hope that s/he will do better in the future. This should be followed by clear messaging, with explaining the reasons, and engaging with the community. When a community member is removed a by-election is a reasonable solution in principle, and I think it was a mistake we didn’t have one after James was removed. However, in an ideal world, I’d rather see an election system in which by design we also decide about who is going to step into the Board if anyone steps down. This is mainly because organizing elections is resource-intensive (in particular, in terms of the community’s time and attention, but not only). Also, electing someone e.g. for one year does not make much sense – a Board member becomes useful and knowledgeable about how things work after about that time.
James Heilman (Doc James)
We need to strengthen the democratic processes within the board. While not all seats need to be elected those that are should be. Board members need to have the ability to take strong positions without the threat of being removed.

While removal of a board member should be possible this action should not be taken lightly. It also should not be done without including the electorate when a community elected board member is involved.

One option could be that, for a community elected board members, the board could trigger a by-election with a majority of support within the board. That board member could still run in the by-election if eligible. If issues of fraud were present they of course would be ineligible to run.

The greater concern is what checks and balances do we the movement have if a majority of the board wants to spend a large chunk of movement funds on a project the wider movement is unaware off and which threatens our long term existence? Currently a majority of the board can simply vote off or refuse to appoint community elected members who disagree. While it is reasonable to have in place an alternative if someone steps down, this is not suitable when someone is removed. 8 people should not be able to overrule 1,800.
Abbad Diraneyya (عباد ديرانية)
I could go on and list several to a dozen of cases where removal of a member might be a necessary option, but does it even matter? Since, honestly, much of these scenarios I am going to make up are not even remotely realistic. As long as the election process enjoys as much community’s attention and participation as it does now, Board members removal should almost never happen. As of now, I had like to think that all past elected Board members have been so trustworthy that it is practically unexpected of them to make a mistake large enough to require taking such an extreme action towards them. I suppose that such extreme cases should be generally similar to what might call for an admin/bureaucrat/steward to be removed, which is probably a case of a conflict of interest, misuse of authority or any evident and unacceptable violation of the community’s trust. These cases, if they ever to unfortunately happen, should probably be clear enough that the majority of the broader movement will see through them as well.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
Removal of a member is not something that should be done without great care and consideration, but I would support removing any trustee in gross violation of the 2016 Code of conduct policy.

And as a trustee, I would support another election. I actually rejoined the Board with the expectation that there would be early elections after the previous removal of a member. The Board at the time was beset with problems - staff leaving, information leaks left and right, a poor appointment choice - and while I was not on the Board at the time and thus not involved in the decision, I can imagine they did not have the bandwidth or resources - the Elections Committee was still transitioning to a permanent form - to launch new elections, and they factored in that there had been elections six months before. The context being what it was, they decided not to go with new elections.

Now, something I believe very strongly in is the importance of setting good precedents. If a community-elected member is removed, I don’t want- and I don’t think most people would want - that their seat stay vacant if the Board decides not to go for elections. I think it should be clear that the composition of the Board aims to balance all voices, and as such, an elected-member seat has to be filled in by the next candidate with the most support. Resignations are different - I think it could be optional there, depends on the case. But removals? Next in line, whomever it may be. Never vacant.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
There are a variety of reasons that would make me support the removal of a Board member, for instance many ways of violating the law. However, 'obstructing work, being uncooperative, scheming, or acting in bad will', as one Board member roughly puts it, is not a valid reason in my eyes: It is hard to prove, and perception may be tainted by prejudice. The Code of Conduct sets very lofty goals, things to aspire to. Everyone is violating them now and then (think of #5 or #8), and thus violating the Code of Conduct cannot alone be a reason for removal from the Board.

Furthermore, I would never support removing a Board member "without cause", as the term apparently is called, and I would apply different standards to community-elected seats. For instance, if a Board member is rarely available or generally does not deliver, that would be a reason for me to support the removal from an appointed but not from an elected position. I would still ask the person to voluntarily give back their seat so that someone else can be co-opted.

For the time being I would indeed call for a by-election if an elected member is removed, but only because some people might have "voted strategically", and because appointing numbers 4, 5, 6 from the result list might come as a surprise. For future elections I would simply announce before voting starts that runners-up may replace fired Board members, then the hassle of running a by-election can be prevented.
Yuri Astrakhan (yurik)
Any person who clearly violates code of conduct should be removed, but this removal should be very transparent and well communicated if legally possible. This was clearly not the case with Doc James, who has my deepest respect and my vote for this election. If a person was elected by the community, it should be community’s decision on who should replace that person, and we might need to adjust bylaws to clarify the process.
Just as an idea that would need further discussion: the decision to remove a community-elected person should only be decided by the non-appointed portion of the board, or to require a ⅔ majority. Unlike the rest of the board, community elected candidates go through a much more rigorous election process, and should not be as easily removable.
Abel Lifaefi Mbula (BamLifa)
It's clear that a member who commits a serious breach to the Code of Conduct must leave the Board. But for me to support this action, the democracy procedure must be followed:
  • Notification of the member,
  • Listen to him (by a letter or other),
  • Make the final decision
If the member is endeed removed, I'll support a by-election process to have a new member. The removed member must not candidate for this process. He may wait until a general community election is organized.


Size and scope of the FoundationEdit

 

Since one of your main tasks is to oversee the Foundation, how do you plan to assess whether the size of the Foundation and its spending is aligned with the benefits it brings to the mission and the community? What is your position on putting predetermined and definitive limits on budgetary growth? What are your expectations for a well-performing Executive Director and in turn Foundation, and how will you know whether they have been achieved in an efficient way?

Based on questions from denny and Guy Macon
Chris Keating (The Land)
I'll split this into a couple of sub-questions - apologies for length.

What's the right size for the WMF? There is huge potential for the movement to achieve more - improving quality on larger projects, filling in whole areas of knowledge that are currently under-served, making Wikimedia mainstream in cultural institutions, working in languages and communities we have hardly touched yet, making it fun and easy to edit for the first time, giving experienced users high-powered tools to stop vandalism and conflict-of-interest editing.... I could go on. WMF isn't best placed to work in all of these itself, but in those it can play a supporting role. So I can certainly see scope for further growth.

What's the right speed of growth for WMF? I don't have enough evidence to name a % figure. However, WMF can't really be a "move fast break things" kind of institution, and needs to spend time making sure its hard-won organisational experience is maintained and not forgotten. So we shouldn't aspire to tech-startup rates of growth.

How will I scrutinize WMF's plans? By asking lots of questions. I have experience reviewing both Wikimedia UK's plans as a board member, and other affiliates going through the FDC processes. I look at clarity of strategy, how well the proposed plan fits to the strategy, do metrics align with what we are trying to achieve, are resources appropriate, is there evidence of learning from previous success and failure, what projects or work areas have been shut down and why, is there a balance between proven and experimental activity. (Among other things)

How transparent should WMF be? I think FDC and community reviewing and scrutiny of the WMF's plans is vital. I am glad that the financials in the 2017-18 Annual Plan are clearer than the previous year’s. However, I would like this to become another step more granular and give more insight into what is happening in different budget lines, to improve the quality of community scrutiny. For instance we’re budgeting $918,000 for legal fees. I don’t doubt there is a sensible rationale for this, but I would like to know a bit more about what this is spent on. If I'm a board member I would ask this question, but it shouldn't only be the WMF Board engaging in that conversation.

How will I assess the performance of the ED I’ve worked with 3 different EDs at Wikimedia UK (two permanent, one interim) , managing one of them directly when I was Chair, so I have some useful experience here. I’d want to make sure the Board (through the Chair) is conducting basic good HR practice: regular catchups with the ED, and formal appraisals and objectives. My own impression of an ED’s abilities is largely formed by looking carefully at how the ED presents their plans, relates to their staff and stakeholders, and responds to difficulties and challenges. The more experienced I get, the more I trust my gut instincts on some of these things.
Milos Rancic (millosh)
The general issue of the Foundation size is relatively simple to address. We know that a number of small systems are more resilient than one big system in their place. Ideally speaking, even Wikimedia Germany is too big for our ecosystem, not to mention WMF itself.

However, that's theory. In practice, there is no political will to fragment large Wikimedia organization and the only reasonable action that we could do is to work on reducing possible damage produced by serious dysfunction of WMF and other large organizations.

For example, thanks to the work of Wikimedia Germany, we have another technically competent center. However, it would be good to see other chapters taking particular software development and not just because particular software itself, but also because of the long-term stability of the movement, by building necessary resources for software development. The non-technical example would be if the chapters from the rich countries would work on international reach.

In relation to the financial details, although I definitely have a clue, I would prefer to leave the exact numbers suggested and explained by the professionals.

It's obvious that the exponential growth is not sustainable, but we are not in the phase of the exponential growth for at least a couple of years.

But what does differ an arbitrary number of 20% from other arbitrary numbers, like 10% or 27.87% or 17+8.43i? Obviously, 27.87% is more than 10%, while 17+8.43i is not particularly useful in our context, but what does it exactly mean for the Foundation, what does it mean for a small chapter, what does it mean for the movement? I don't think we are operating with enough of data and with enough of expertise.

WMF ED has two important roles: (1) As ED of the organization, where the standard measures could be applied; and (2) as de facto the top executive of the movement. In relation to the latter, general satisfaction of all movement's stakeholders should be counted as a part of ED's performance.
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
I believe it is the Board’s role to oversee the WMF’s growth, and the FDC is set up to assist the Board with this task. I think that a budgetary growth of more than 20% in the case of an organization of the WMF’s size would definitely be dangerous and possibly unhealthy (unless there was a very clear need for a certain vital project or investment). I believe that the WMF may have some scope for reducing costs, too – and efforts are already made in this direction.

My expectations towards a well-performing Executive Director are quite standard for this position: as the Board member I am going to monitor our external performance (e.g. request data about our readership, editorship, etc., all compared to previous years and analyzed), as well as our internal performance (staff satisfaction, HR procedures development, finance, legal threats, etc. – one of the things that we were missing and that I hopefully helped introduce are certain procedures for expressing concern). Since I’ve done this before, both as a Board member, and as an ED (6 years of running an NGO in the Soros network), I know what to expect.

One thing that I think is important for the Board is to not allow the professional ED and the C-levels take over the conversation – especially when they are performing well, there is a risk that they hijack the Board’s attention and priorities (in good-will, it is reasonable for them to act this way in their role). As an experienced organizational researcher, I am able to help avoid this pitfall and make good use of the C-levels and Board synergic collaboration.
James Heilman (Doc James)
Continued exponential growth is not a realistic possibility. When I was previously on the board I supported stabilizing spending at its than current levels. While Lisa Gruwell and her team who take care of fundraising are amazingly talented we do not want to wear down our donors' goodwill. Yes with more aggressive messaging we can raise more money, but we are not fighting financially to keep Wikipedia online. It is more important for us to be completely honest in our fundraising messages than raise more money. The good will we have will keep if we continue our good work.

With respect to hard-ish limits, the FDC has one set at 20% but even that IMO is too great with respect to the WMF. I would find it hard to imagine a situation where the foundation would need an increase in budget greater than that. Staff take time to on-board. For a request greater than 15% a movement discussion should be required.

With respect to ED and foundation evaluation, one needs to look at many aspects. Some include staff engagement, exit interviews, staff turnover, and the effectiveness and efficiency of software improvements. One also needs to look at our engagement with the wider world such as press and the general public. Is our ED building a collaborative environment which allows participation from those within the wider movement and by outside organizations that share our goals and values?
Abbad Diraneyya (عباد ديرانية)
It is a little tricky to deal with issues such as assessing the scope or size of the Foundation, since, at some point, discussing these issues might come down to sheer personal judgement, and I can by no means claim that my judgement will be necessarily the correct one. From my point of view, though, the size of the Foundation should be flexibly adaptable to the needs of the movement, so that new positions should be constantly created based on the feedback of the community, while any roles that prove to be ineffective should be removed as soon as possible. However, this is much easier said than done: because, in practice, it might be extremely hard to make these judgements and apply them through decisions. Budget limits are also important, specifically since the amount of spending has been rising on a scale so large for the past few years that it is potentially unsustainable. Still, such limits should not be treated so strictly as to hinder the activities of the Foundation. Budget is not only about sheets of numbers, it is about what each investment we are making is bringing back to the movement, and should be carefully managed as not to ever handicap a successful project only to allow us to have a little higher revenue figure at the end of the year (which will be possibly put into a much less important use later on).
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I think there is definitely a limit to how much any organization can absorb in terms of money. That said, I believe the Foundation should not be rigid and static - if an opportunity arises, it should be able to consider taking it. Last November all United States-based nonprofits had a significant increase in donations after the US elections and were able to not only met but exceed their budgets in a much shorter timeframe than usual. There is no reason to believe this will happen again next November - it may well be a one-time-only situation. Well, the Foundation decided to use the opportunity to raise extra funds for several specific purposes - such as the Endowment, a caching center in Asia, the Anti-Harassment initiative, and movement strategy, presented it to the Board for approval, and the moment the funding for those initiatives was met the Foundation stopped that round of fundraising. I think it is important to have some freedom to seize opportunities in a thoughtful and sensible way. Ultimately, our publicly discussed annual plan and budget discussed with the communities remain the best way to manage our spending.

As to the Executive Director - the Human Resources committee within the Board works with the ED to mutually determine the goals for the ED and check their progress during the year. That way expectations are clearly set from the start on both sides.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
I find much of the discussion about growth misguided. WMF has no share price and competition, so in which way does it need to grow? If there is anybody in the Foundation who is permanently overworked then they need a colleague or an assistant. But growth as such is not a goal. Actually as an editor I'm scared of a WMF that grows because that means more people having to prove they've got a purpose there. More people that create projects that we, the editors, neither want nor need. As Board member I will very carefully analyse any plan to expand, particularly into areas that are not obviously related to the movement (Knowledge Engine, if you need an example). An Executive Director needs to bring the Foundation forward. I think a good place to continue from where we are is to develop the capital that is already there, the Foundation's human resources. So far the staff turnover is just appalling. WMF must become a company for which talented and dedicated people want to work---and at which talented and dedicated people want to stay.
Yuri Astrakhan (yurik)
Any project that does not appear to adapt is bound to stagnate and die. In the last few years, many editors have told me that they rarely see any changes from WMF. The site’s capabilities stayed the same, editor tools did not improve, and the site remained stuck in the 20th century. While there has been some major work like Wikidata, the overall perception among the most loyal editor community is indicative of WMF needing to change. We can spend years polishing the site, but it feels the rate of innovation has significantly decreased in the past years. The best measurement of success is an improvement in perception and editor retention.
Abel Lifaefi Mbula (BamLifa)
Let me try to give some answers to questions asked above:
  • The size of the Foundation and its spending: I think we must focus our mind on the result rather than on the size of the Foundation itself. If we can satisfy the need of the movement with significant resultats and not much money spent, that's the best thing it is.
  • Budgetary growth: predetermined and definitive limits on budgetary growth is a good thing; but it must be flexible because our movement is a growing one (its expenses must also be so).
  • ED well-performing: as one of my tasks is to oversee the Foundation, I'll carrefoully pay attention to ED's plans and on how it's being executed.


Wikimedia as a global movementEdit

 

The Wikimedia movement is composed of a global ecosystem of volunteers, readers, projects, local organizations, regional co-operations, committees, partners, and so on. The Wikimedia Foundation is important to this network. What would you like to change in this landscape within the next three years? How would you establish what the rights, roles, and responsibilities of the various Wikimedia entities should be, and how would you support their adoption?

Based on questions from Aegis Maelstrom and Seddon
Chris Keating (The Land)
My focus is on making the structures we have work better, rather than re-inventing movement roles. If anyone passionately believes that different structures are vital to the Wikimedia movement achieving its potential, I’d certainly listen carefully, but it’s roughly at the bottom of my own list of priorities.

So what would I like to see? In line with some of my other answers:

  • WMF listening, consulting and working as a partner with communities and affiliates, not imposing its own vision - continuing the big progress that has been made in this area in the last couple of years
  • More time and effort spent developing the skills of volunteers in online and offline leadership roles
  • A bigger and more established network of institutional partners. Many affiliates have done great work in this area but there is still far more to do.
Milos Rancic (millosh)
I have no doubt about the chances to change anything important inside of the Board. They are so small that it is better we do not fool ourselves.

However, the changes inside of the Board are not equal to the changes inside of the WMF or the movement. And if the Board can't be significantly changed, but both WMF and the movement can, it's obvious that the potential for the changes lays outside the Board.

During this term, most importantly, I want to see political articulation of the community and political articulation of the employees [of Wikimedia organizations].

In the capacity of a Wikimedian supported by the community enough to be elected as a Board member (not in the capacity of a Board member!), I would take the responsibility of leading the community to articulate its political will.

In relation to the political articulation of the employees of Wikimedia Foundation and other Wikimedia organizations, I would support employees willing to create an affiliate organization which would represent their interests.
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
One of my early analyses of Wikimedia in Common Knowledge? were the governance tensions between the WMF and the affiliates. I believe that most of these tensions are gone now, but still there are occasional cultural miscommunications and misunderstandings. The ownership of resources is always an issue. Should the WMF run fundraising campaigns on different projects in different languages? Should the affiliates organize big local fundraisers if they can and how should these money be best accommodated to serve our movement?

I think that one of the governance bodies that we lack is some sort of affiliates’ forum of discussion with the WMF, if they want it. The WMF is the biggest organization in our movement, but not the only one – and we should be able to have a platform of discussion about the division of responsibilities.

Also, I’d love to see more focus on grassroot Wikimedian organizations, and an even more clear differentiation of “professional” big organizations (such as the WMF or WMDE and some of the biggest chapters), as opposed to “passion-driven” small ones (I put it in quotation marks, as volunteer work is often done in a professional way, and many of our staff members are deeply passion-driven). Especially for the latter, we need more good practices sharing and ideas dissemination, as well as solid support for motivation (it can e.g. utterly discouraging when there is too much paperwork to be filled – although, our grants team in general is really solid and helpful).
James Heilman (Doc James)
Some of my greatest successes as a Wikipedian have been achieved through collaborations with other movement partners including the WMF. I believe strongly that we will succeed most by working together. Different individuals and organizations have different expertise. We need further trust and we need better communication channels to achieve this.

One amazingly successful group within the WMF with respect to community engagement has been the Community Tech team. I would love to see that team expanded (even though as a board member I realize I will not have the authority to make it so).

With respect to determining roles of movement entities, this is something the movement should determine through a shared discussion. I hope that it will be part of the strategy process. The board does not and should not get to decide this independently. How does the WMF facilitate such a discussion? By supporting a movement wide strategy process such as it is doing now.
Abbad Diraneyya (عباد ديرانية)
It is pretty hard to combine all my views about the future of the movement here, so I will try to build my answer around one theme that, although rarely addressed, I do consider crucial for the future of Wikimedia, which is about approaching community issues in a more effective manner.

During the past 15 years, Wikimedia movement has grown, and continues to grow, to a huge global community that combines dozens of thousands of people from all sorts of backgrounds. Hence, according to my vision, what the movement should be most concerned about for the next several years is understanding and positively responding to this massive growth rather than getting constantly caught in little loud complaints. To be more specific, I believe that, right now, the vast majority of our community has never been represented or heard of in any of the crucial movement’s discussions. That is for a simple reason: most of the people who are usually talking, suggesting or complaining are almost always members of active affiliates or Meta-wiki users who have been on the movement for way too long to be concerned with mere wiki pages, while the normal users, contributors and even sysops of smallers wikis (who are doing most of the actual work) are never there to participate neither provide their opinion on any of the movements critical matters.

It could be relatively hard to work around this problem since, potentially for the most part, individual contributors voices are not just missing because they do not get reached out, but also because they do not care enough to participate in any discussions on the movement’s scale in the first place. However, this is not, by any chance, to be considered as their fault. The typical wiki contributor is just a volunteer who is willingly giving up little bits of his or her precious time to perform small but very useful tasks, so they cannot, and should not, be asked to keep up with all of the movement wide issues that do not even remotely relate to their work. The solution for this is not to seek out those contributors to get involved in our major matters, such as the Strategy discussion, but to offer them a direct and straightforward channel to express their most important ideas, worries and concerns for the future. This could not be very easy to do, but it might be a much more effective approach to gain the community’s feedback than to focus all our efforts on solving problems that solely matters to the top one percent of our entire community.

Why do I think this is a very important thing to address? Because, if the movement shall ever keep on growing and succeeding in the future, the only possible way would be to keep recruiting new contributors and community members. However, if we only want to be concerned with what our most elite members think of the movement, then we are not ever going to understand the kind of problems that is hindering fresh, young or underrepresented people from joining our movement and bringing us the new blood that we desperately need.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
I want the Wikimedia Movement to provide a framework where everyone’s voice is heard.

One of the purposes of the Movement Strategy process in which we are currently immersed is to get a really good snapshot of where the Movement is at right now - which is why it is key to get as much participation as possible from all projects, communities, affiliates, partners and so on. Once we get an adequate picture of our strengths and weaknesses, we can determine how to maximize opportunities and reduce threats - both internal and external. But something I would like to see is for the Foundation to move away from a parent organization status, and the affiliates moving away from a dependant status. I would like to see more international cooperation networks pop up, like Iberocoop or CEE. But what I would really would like for it to happen is for everyone to be aligned. If we get a 15 year strategy, we will know what the goals are - and we can have everyone working towards the priorities that emerge in their different contexts and different ways.

I definitely see the Foundation and the affiliates promoting international cooperation for a common purpose. We have editors, readers, and a lot of affiliates in practically every country in the world. There is a fantastic opportunity right there to have a lot of impact if we can align and coordinate. We need to also be able to get outside the Wikimedia ecosystem and partner with other movements, see what we can learn from them. Again this can be done in a much more structured and coordinated way - and with a very global approach.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
These structures have grown over the years. Without a specific pressing need I would not change them at all, and the role of the BoT can only be indirect anyway. As for the second question, all entities of volunteers should take the places they wish. If what they want to do is mission-aligned they deserve support from the movement. Again Board members could only indirectly be involved.
Yuri Astrakhan (yurik)
The primary feedback I heard is that community members feel they are not being heard, and that their needs/requests are not being addressed. While I might not have as much knowledge about the social and financial aspects of the WMF-chapter interactions, the fact that “Community Tech” team was introduced almost as an afterthought after a massive "knowledge-engine-centric" restructuring highlights the lack of community-centric approach. I will aim to removing barriers to communication between the board, WMF, and the community. We need to encourage more methods for real community involvement in decision-making of the global movement, including the typically unheard voices from parts of the community that are not usually consulted.
Abel Lifaefi Mbula (BamLifa)
If we need to go forward and reach our goal, it's an obligation for us to create a good working environnement based on mutual respect, confidence, each one listenning and communication.

We don't need to start from scratch but we can consolidate what exists and build strategies to make it better. Here are what I think it can best suit for us:

  • WMF: for me, the main role of the Foundation is as the router or an arbitrator. It receives (that means to listen), keeps (legacy, resolution), passes (communication), settles (when there is tension).
  • Volunteers, readers: it's our first ressource. We must do all of our best so that they cannot feel left.
  • Local organisations, commettee, projects: should be as independent as possible so that the can carry out their missions. I don't like very hierarchical models we have in our classic entreprises because they are counter productive.
  • Partners and others: all our partnerships must be transparent.


Building trustEdit

 

There have been numerous time over the past few years when tensions between groups within the movement have reached levels where work and relationships were greatly hindered. Do you believe there are core problems which caused these tensions that remain today, and if so, how would you work to address them? How will you work to increase trust between elements of the movement, and why should readers, donors, staff members, editors, affiliate members, and supporters trust you?

Based on questions from Effeietsanders and Seddon
Chris Keating (The Land)
Well, the situation is a lot better than it used to be. I joined the Wikimedia UK board in 2011 just in time for the Haifa Letter and the subsequent six months of ceaseless arguments about fundraising and funds dissemination. We have come a long way since then. On tech side, the WMF is also handling community wishes and the introduction of new features much better than it did in 2014. And I think it's also treating its own staff much better than it did in 2015.

As I've said in other answers, I see some of the main value from having strong community-elected trustees being that we can play a role in helping avoid, de-escalate or defuse this kind of problem: probably quietly, behind the scenes.

Fundamentally the issue is about power. As I wrote in my essay on the subject, the WMF has a lot of power over things other people in the movement care about (money, servers, trademarks...). However, that power is held on trust - the WMF is the steward of those things for the movement, and needs to act like a partner. When it does that, it builds trust. When it appears to act arbitrarily, without regard for others' views, that's what erodes trust.

Why can you trust me? Well, I could write anything about how wonderfully trustworthy I am, but I don't think that would have any meaning. Please look at my statement, my answers to all these wonderful questions, my on-wiki contributions, my record on the Wikimedia UK board, and make up your mind whether you think I’m likely to act with integrity and good faith or not. :)
Milos Rancic (millosh)
The questions like "Why should we trust you?" seem to me like an attack on everybody's intelligence: I will bullshit a little bit why you should trust me and then you will trust me that you should trust me. So, thanks, but no, thanks.

At the other side, Lodewijk's question is my favorite one, as it addresses the complexity of the relations inside the movement.

I will start with the mantra: "We are one movement!" -- because we should repeat it to ourselves whenever we come into the seemingly unsolvable conflict. Not just one side, but both, all of the sides should remember that!

We could have quite opposite, different views related to the [real world] politics, even to the vision of our movement today or in the future. However, the power of the idea that knowledge should be accessible to everybody, the power of people following that idea, the power of our movement, that power makes those differences insignificant.

A person can't say for themselves that they are a Wikimedian if they haven't successfully survived numerous cultural shocks while doing Wikimedian tasks -- online or offline. A lot of our first contacts were initially catastrophic. But we've survived and learned how to get along. (Yes, especially you and me, Lodewijk :) )

That cultural trait is one of the most important strengths of our movement and we should nurture it.

But it's about culture and lack of trust is not just about culture. Culture helps us to have better communication and to heal our wounds more quickly, but lack of trust is about much more realistic things: it's about mismanagement in communication, it's about real or perceived opposite interests.

The general answer related to the "real part" of the trust issues is in the fact that the most responsible for building trust are those in position of power. While it's sometimes hard to define who is in position of power, in the most important cases it's obvious. Yes, Board members are in the position of power towards anyone else inside of the movement. Yes, chapters are in the position of power in real life towards the local communities. Yes, WMF employees are in the position of power towards the vast majority of editors. And, yes, and so on :)

Speaking in the most general terms, we should build the system to check the power. We should openly talk about it, that should likely be a set of Meta pages, where everybody could come and raise the issue -- not exclusively about power abuse -- but about power that should be checked.

But many of the issues are much more simple. We could easily see that there was a time when the Board flagrantly forced the perceived interests of WMF in confrontation with chapters, in confrontation with community, in confrontation with employees, even in confrontation with the fellow Board member.

We could easily see the stratification of our movement even now, during these elections: it's mostly obvious which candidate has been supported by which part of the movement. However, that's not explicitly noted anywhere. We are living in the limbo in which "everybody" knows more or less everything, but "nobody" is willing to talk about that openly.

That's because not all of the voices have been articulated. Not all of the movement factors are able to express themselves clearly, to be heard proportionally to their contribution to the movement.

Those in the position of power should understand that it's their interest to hear organized and articulated voices of those not yet represented in the dialogue because unrepresented voices lead to distrust and consequently to dysfunction.

How to solve that? Organizational articulation of unorganized parts of the movement would definitely help a lot. However, we could start doing that even before the completion of the process: Let's start talking openly! Let's not avoid the real issues! Let's think together how to address real issues that bother us and our fellow Wikimedians! Let's address them!

I am sure that opening discussion and showing that addressing the issues is going at a reasonable pace -- would immediately lower the tension and distrust.

But, again, whenever we come into the conflict situation I would urge everybody to use the culture to start overcoming the problems: We are one movement!
Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)
Some of the tensions stem are given by fundamental design – all organizations have some tension about the resource-allocation, in our case such tensions can be both internal (within the WMF) and external (including the affiliates). However, I believe that a lot of tensions have been alleviated – for instance, there is much more trust between our key stakeholders. Our leadership crisis was a huge blow to internal trust, and the Board’s authority has suffered. I believe that by acting as I did in this mayhem, both internally (in the Board, in the Foundation) and externally (by communicating with our community at large, also against explicit pressure not to do so) have proven that I have the integrity and strength to perform under high pressure. You should trust me, because I’ve proven I can follow my path in spite of heavy opposition. You can also trust me because I’ve held positions of trust in other organizations (I’ve served on other boards, I was on an advisory committee for the Minister of Science, more recently – I’ve been appointed to the Committee of Ethics of the Polish Academy of Sciences), but the history speaks better for itself.
James Heilman (Doc James)
Some of the past issues resulted from a lack of communication. Others occurred due to one group trying to increase their authority within the movement. In some cases tensions increased as there were real problems that needed to be dealt with. We have Wikimedia movement cultural norms and processes and all movement partners including the WMF are expected to abide by them. As a board member I will help make sure this occurs.

With respect to trust I am myself a reader, donor, editor, and affiliate member. My record of work speaks to both my dedication and trustworthiness. When staff raised issues a year and a half ago I both listened and took their concerns seriously. I came to the conclusions I did after fully informing myself of the issues. Those who know me, know that I will make the ethical choice.

I maintain complete financial independent from the WMF. When I was previously on the board I covered all my own travel and accommodation costs and plan to do so again if re elected. Additionally, I have always personally funded going to Wikimania to leave scholarships for those who need them more.
Abbad Diraneyya (عباد ديرانية)
There are various ways to bridge the trust between the community, the affiliates and the Foundation which each one of us might have a different view towards. My personal approach would be that the key solution for trust is communication.

When communication is present, everyone should be feeling much more comfortable, as long as there is a permanent channel where people can convey their concerns, suggestions and hopes for the future so that someone can here them out. Such channels could include a periodic discussion where members of the movement can express their feedback about the Foundation’s work: something along the lines of Strategy discussion but on smaller scale, as well as surveys and community wishlists. Communication between the Foundation and the community has been getting better in the past few years, but it could be made even more open. However, the challenge in this case might shift from hearing out the wishes and constant requests the community expresses to meeting them effectively, a problem which we might have to figure out ways to deal with.

I also believe transparency to be another key issue with trust. If the Foundation is not truthful, sincere and absolutely honest towards the community terrible problems could arise, as we have seen nearly a year ago, before the appointment of the current Executive Director. There is no reason for critical, serious information to be ever hidden from the broader movement unless there are unavoidable legal, security or other very specific consequences that make it impossible to release them publicly.

Even though transparency is essential, we might as well view as just another side of communication: since a truly open communication process is transactional conversation where each side receives information and shares feedback constantly with the others.
María Sefidari (Raystorm)
At the core, the problem is one of trust and cooperation.

For the longest time we worked in a paradigm of one country, one affiliate. It was the simplest way but not necessarily the most interesting regarding our mission. Relying on only one kind of supported group of wikimedians created a single point of failure per country, which was not exactly ideal. It became apparent it was limiting our ability to push forward our Mission, and there were calls to expand the models of affiliation. We had to figure out how to foster innovation and different initiatives. We learned it was problematic for volunteers to create an association just to get brand recognition and resources for their projects. When I was a member of AffCom we sought to give an answer to this with the creation of the new models of affiliation, particularly the user groups. This doesn't mean that the current user group model is a goal. It's also work in progress, and AffCom has been receiving input from user groups themselves asking to review some aspects. We must be sure that the model promotes cooperation, and prevents competition as much as possible. But as user groups thrive, we need to shift from a exclusivity paradigm to a cooperation one. Where other affiliates are not viewed as competition for resources and media attention. Many user groups work with no resources and achieve excellent impact for their efforts. I believe if we all get aligned and make it so every Wikimedia organizations feels equal to each other, we will be able to shift and collectively decide, agree and own decisions to focus on specific topics or regions.

How do we get there? Well, just like it took time for people to see chapters as groups that provided high value to the movement, I think we will see the same with user groups as they keep working and thriving. Some attitudes you just have to outlast. But for the most part I believe user groups are on the way to proving their value just like chapters once did - trust takes years - and in the meanwhile AffCom, as a Board advisory committee, has had success dealing with tensions between certain neighbouring affiliates, so I can definitely see them requesting the Board to expand their charter so they can deal proactively with these issues as they arise.
Peter Gallert (Pgallert)
Yes indeed, I think that there are several remaining issues, and that these are detrimental to the health of what we all want to achieve. The dismissal of Doc James without timely explanation and straightforward reasoning is one of them, so the Board itself has contributed to the tensions.

We have created some artificial hierarchies, and they do more harm than good. This starts in the editor community where an admin or steward is "worth more" than an editor. It affects chapters and user groups, the representatives of which are given preference when Wikimedians meet as a movement. It affects meetup and conference organisers who think it is a good idea to sieve out undesired participants. And it affects the Foundation whenever there are things forced down the throat of the editing community for the reason that the Foundation knows better.

In a society of Nobel laureates nobody would empty bins or staff tills. Sooner or later people would die from disease or starvation. In the Wiki world, no-one should elevate themselves or their peers. And instead of 'Board controls the WMF' and 'WMF steers the movement' it is, in my view, 'Board serves the WMF' and 'WMF serves the movement', legal duties of the Board notwithstanding.

I pledge to be open, honest, and responsible. I won't ask for your trust because I haven't earned it yet.
Yuri Astrakhan (yurik)
People will always be in conflict over resource allocation and strategic priorities. That is inevitable, and natural to all movements. We distinguish ourselves by how we deal with disagreements, and the roles we give to all stakeholders.

Tension about resource allocation and strategic movement has resulted in the adjustment of focus from the Foundation’s mission to the stakeholders’ disagreements. This is, to some degree, natural in a growing and changing organization, but it does not have to be the Foundation’s norm.

By allowing a safe space for stakeholders to share their experience and receive validation in the efforts they put forward to the success of the community, I will help the board gather the necessary information to make thoughtful progress in formulating a plan to move forward. By engaging stakeholders in their common objectives and visions of success, I will create a transparent forum with our aims as a priority rather than dissent within the organization. Without our stakeholders (readers, contributors, staff, etc.), we cannot move forward with our mission. For that reason, I will work with the Board to ensure that our stakeholders guide us through projected changes and endorse the trajectory we map out for success.
Abel Lifaefi Mbula (BamLifa)
Wikimedia movement is a great ecosystem, and everybody envies it today. The real matter we have, I think, is about power. To overcome that matter the best answer is transparency. People on the head of the movement must be transparent and inspire confidence of everybody. The confidence is built up over time and we all know that it is difficult to have the confidence of someone at first.
For me, truth be told, being from free/libre world I've its ethics and philosophy where confidence is a key element. In addition, I managed several services or departements and all audit repports are good. I'll do all my best to be more transparent as I can toword community, collegues and parteners.