Wikimedia Foundation elections/2021/Candidates/CandidateQ&A/Question2

Where do you wish to see the Board in relation to other entities of the Wikiverse (communities, affiliates, etc.) in the future (cf. e.g. Ensure Equity in Decision-making)?

Question received from a community member on Meta

Gerard Meijssen (GerardM)

The board is about strategy, the overall picture, bringing us together in what binds us. As it is, some communities make demands that negatively impact the opportunities for others. The board has a role in prioritising on what benefits our public.

Dariusz Jemielniak (Pundit)

The Board has a crucial role in the coming years in establishing a balance between the affiliates, the communities, and other stakeholders. As I wrote in my statement, I think it is crucial that the affiliates play an important role and have support, and that organizations within our movement grow more or less proportionately - which does not exclude entering new regions, obviously. I also believe in regional decision-making - I think that regional hubs may play a better role in funds dissemination than the WMF alone. The new Global Council should emerge and play a key role in both decision-making for the community and for advising to the WMF board on issues regarding it. The Council should be representative to the community, but we also should work on establishing new technologies and modalities of aggregating feedback and voices (as I described in the statement). Simple examples of cases where such a council would prove super useful are e.g. the universal code of conduct, Framban, or the branding dispute. The endgame is that the WMF Board should focus on the organization itself, its strategy, making sure that all departments are doing fine, addressing our external challenges. To get there the Board will have to play an important role in establishing and enabling new institutions (the council, regional funds dissemination hubs, procedures and tools for decision-making and feedback). Pundit (talk) 11:15, 7 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Lionel Scheepmans (Lionel Scheepmans)

Before answering this question, I think it's important to recognize that the Wikimedia Foundation and its almost 500 employees has reached a critical size that I don't think it's desirable to exceed. The expansion of its Board of Trustees indicates that the management has already started to be difficult. Increasing the number of employees and the number of administrators is therefore not desirable, because it will lead to a loss of efficiency, and even a loss of control in the long term.

It is also obvious to me that in order to meet the expectation of equity within the movement in terms of governance and culture, things must be set up in a decentralized way. Isn't this what has naturally taken place in sister projects with the emergence of autonomous language versions? Moreover, it seems to me that the persistence of Covid-19 and this first online Wikimania, the ecological problems linked to the means of transport, and more local events such as the Brexit in Europe, incite the movement to organize and develop itself locally while remaining globally connected. Such a strategy will certainly limit the spread of the virus, the air pollution and the bank transaction fees.

Finally, it is a very good thing that the Foundation has reached its stage of maturity, because it will now be able to use its expertise, not to continue to grow, but to help the many existing and future local associations to achieve a similar development autonomously. Here is a new point I would like to address within the movement and within the Board of trustees if I were allowed to join it.

Reda Kerbouche (Reda Kerbouche)

The Board is the point of balance in the foundation. They must absolutely try to build a community in harmony. Being transparent and concrete in decisions is more important to have the confidence of the community.

or that, it is necessary to work with the feedback in all languages and in all the levels starting with the committees and the communities and affiliations ending with the most visible feedback. And make a mechanism that will take the problems out of the communities that we don't hear or that we don't give the chance to speak.

Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight (Rosiestep)

The initiatives associated with Movement Strategy Recommendation #4 (“ensure equity in decision-making”) are directly related to Board and community relationships. Drafting of the Movement Charter (Movement Strategy Initiative #22) and establishment of the Global Council (#24) are “priority initiatives” in balancing relationships. The formal establishment of regional and thematic Hubs (#25) is also important for relationship balance, be it as a new Affiliates' model or some other community structure -- noting, though, that various hub-like configurations already exist. The development of a "flexible resource allocation framework" (#26) is also important to the community, including Affiliates, so that those who are doing the work can make decisions instead of a "top-down" approach. The last-but-not-least initiative within the “ensure equity in decision-making” Recommendation is “Guidelines for board functions and governance” (#27). I support the decision that the Board has already made and is implementing with the 2021 and 2022 Board elections: increasing the number and percentage of community members on the Board. When community-led meetings, such as SWAN, also include Wikimedia Board and staff representatives, there is an opportunity to hear multiple points of view, which, in my opinion, can lead to equitable decision-making. --Rosiestep (talk) 18:40, 14 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Mike Peel (Mike Peel)

So far the WMF board has sort of played two roles: the WMF's charity trustees that is fairly clearly defined, and a wider Wikimedia role that is less defined. That latter role should really belong to the Global Council (or something like it), which I would like to see happen in the near future, with decisions that are not international in nature devolved as appropriate. The WMF Board would still have a vital role in the movement: overseeing the WMF's international activities and demonstrating best practices to the wider movement.

Adam Wight (Adamw)

In my ideal world, the WMF Board will reduce its own scope according to the Movement Strategy. We will help set up the community-run bodies which then take ownership of most of the movement-wide issues and resource distribution.

I believe we have been caught in the trap of vanguardism, in which an organization is created to lead a people's movement, but then gets confounded with the movement itself. The organization organically grows in power and size, and rather than serving the movement its purpose becomes to perpetuate its own existence. I see the current Movement Strategy as a healthy push to escape this arrangement, and to redistribute our movement into the hands of the people who build it. But getting the Foundation to follow through with this devolution will require resolve and focus.

I have no strong opinions about what should remain of the Foundation once this process is complete, it might make sense to split some responsibilities such as software development into a separate organization, or economies of scale might keep us under a single roof. What matters is that the Board is left to administer only what the communities are not interested in, or that we have a democratic structure which subjects the Board to community oversight.

Vinicius Siqueira (Vini 175)

The Board must ensure the Wikimedia Foundation continues to have a relevant role in fulfilling the Wikimedia Moviment's mission. To achieve and further this goal, I wish to make the board more accessible to the different stakeholders and increase the buy-in for all on strategic decisions. The WMF continuing relevance is compatible with the decentralization process that we have envisioned for the movement. --Vinicius Siqueira (talk) 02:24, 9 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Yao Eliane Dominique (Yasield)

The WMF Board of Trustees plays a transversal and crucial role that consists, among other things, of providing an objective opinion on the Foundation's development plan, supervising actions and activities, and being a force of proposal for improving the life of the Movement. For me, it would be interesting that within a short period of time, this council works on the decentralization of the foundation in order to make it closer to the communities, which would facilitate certain administrative actions. This will certainly not be an easy action to accept and/or to initiate but I believe that it should be one of the first actions of the Council. Yasield (talk) 20:48, 20 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Douglas Ian Scott (Discott)

Fundamental to the Wikimedia Foundation's mission is serving the volunteer community. This includes both the online communities as well as the affiliate communities. My concern is that the board and therefore the Foundation might over time drift away from the interests and concerns of the community. Instead of drifting away from the community I wish to see the board become ever closer and more accountable to the community whilst maintaining focus on the public benefit free knowledge mission of our movement and its founding principles (best encapsulated in the 5 pillars of Wikipedia). This is in addition to the clearly defined trustee role running a charity that the Foundation has. I feel that key to achieving this greater level of connection between the board and the community will be trustees that have and maintain a strong link with the community broadly whilst having an intimate understanding of our community's core values. In this context I would also like to see a stronger voice for emerging groups from within our community so the board is better equipped to make decisions that are supportive of our movement's growth in emerging countries. A guiding force for that will be the movement strategy.

I am also strongly advocating for a stronger community voice on the board generally by increasing the ratio of community members on the board so that the community will always have a stronger voice than appointed board members. I am also a strong advocate for more board members being elected to there positions so they, and the board generally, are more directly accountable to the community.--Discott (talk) 17:53, 17 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Pascale Camus-Walter (Waltercolor)

The Movement Charter is in the drafting phase now and the Global Council will be set in 2022. So just go ahead ! Let’s give these initiatives a chance and see if they work. Assess when necessary and change if it doesn’t work. --Waltercolor (talk) 10:12, 9 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Iván Martínez (ProtoplasmaKid)

For many years my political activism -including my volunteering in Wikimedia projects and my activism- has been conditioned by a phrase I learned very young from the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico: 'to command by obeying'. For me, in the decision-making process the community has absolute primacy. There is no movement possible without its bases, therefore, community power must be the first to set the pace of what we can do in the Board. Whoever wants to command, must first obey.

My priority will be to accompany and ensure that the community has sufficient resources to launch the Global Council, which I hope will be the most important community decision-making structure.

Victoria Doronina (Victoria)

I would like the Board to be more transparent and more proactive in engaging both the communities and affiliates. The technology now allows direct contact between any entity and the board. Having an annual virtual Q&A session with different regions would be a start.--Victoria (talk) 05:51, 7 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Lorenzo Losa (Laurentius)

I expect the position of the Board to change in the future due to the Movement Strategy. I think this is a critical point and I have highlighted this in my statement as one of the board priorities.

The Wikimedia Foundation should be one among many Wikimedia entities (including chapters, thematic organizations, user groups), with its specific and important tasks, collaborating with the others and with the communities to foster the Wikimedia movement goals.

So far, however, the WMF Board has been in an unclear position - sometimes seen as "the board of the Wikimedia movement". That is not its role, and it is not equipped to do it. According to the "Ensure Equity in Decision-making" strategy recommendation, a movement charter has to be written, and a global council has to be created. The global council can be fully representative of our movement, and make movement-wide decisions. I think that one of the key tasks we will have in the next three years is to accompany this transition.

Raavi Mohanty (Raavimohantydelhi)

The board has been pivotal in the reach and success of WMF thus far and will continue to play a significant role in the future as well. However, the board needs to be more lenient on its top-down policy with communities, and other user groups. The board needs to be flexible and swift in adopting new ideas and changes that accompany the rapidly developing information technology, also in understanding the sensitivities of various local regions. In this aspect bodies and entities at regional levels should be given more freedom in taking decisions. An increase in the flow of ideas and a more fluid channel of communication between the two is required to achieve the goals set by WMF.

Ashwin Baindur (AshLin)

The Board of Trustees oversees the WMF and its relations with communities and affiliates. Its oversight role requires the Board to monitor the WMF so that its interactions with Communities at all times are positive, helpful, reasoned, respectful, equitable and resolves problems.

In the context of recent events, it is important that engagement with the Community should be there, especially on matters which involve them. Board would oversee to facilitate that Foundation’s engagement with communities and user groups is respectful, equitable, and positively oriented, especially in situations where the community is in a subordinate position, such as asking for grants.

The next few years will see a major change in the Wikimedia Movement. The Movement Charter will be drafted and implemented and the Global Council will come into existence. There would be a formal structure where the global community, which is presently a loose collective of affiliates and communities, could participate in the functioning and governance of the Wikimedia movement. The details of how this relationship will be established would be the predominant issue concerning the relation of the Board of WMF and Wikimedia Affiliates.

There should be a certain realignment of duties, roles, resources and responsibilities, with these moving from the WMF to the IGC/Global Council. It's vital for the Wikimedia movement that this endeavour succeeds in a smooth and uneventful manner.

In this backdrop, it appears to me that the Board would have a dual role. First of all, it would oversee the Foundation’s actions in this transfer of power, and the post-transfer revision of the way the Foundation functions. It's important that all the actions the WMF takes in this regard are positive, contributory and also in good faith. In this, the Board’s traditional role would allow it to guide the WMF to smoothly transition to the new dispensation.

The second would be the Board’s relation with the Global Council. The Global Council would be coming into existence, taking up new responsibilities, and establishing new relations with stakeholders. Such a transition from a startup to a functioning, effective and stable organisation would have its moments of difficulties. Here, the experience and collective memory of the Board would allow it to have a mentor-like advisory role of the Global Council, in good faith, and sparingly, wisely done.

There would be contentious points in this transition, such as what responsibilities, what powers, what share of resources, who would have the last word on what issue, and so on. The Board, in its role of oversight, would guide the Foundation staff to show good faith, positive engagement, respectful discourse and not pose any kind of opposition or resistance in this regard.

A similar role would be played by the Board as it monitors the interaction between WMF and Communities in the formation of regional hubs.

In the interim period, the affiliates and user groups would continue to interact with the Foundation staff. The Board would continue to provide a helpful listening ear till this transition is over, so that communities and their concerns aren’t neglected by WMF and Council while engrossed in this process.

As a Board of Trustee elected community member, I would work to see that the transition is fair, just, equitable and smooth, so that a functioning and eventful Global Council is established.

Pavan Santhosh Surampudi (Pavan santhosh.s)

As I wrote in my statement, Empowering Wikimedia movement entities and reducing the excessive centralisation of power all over the world is key to make leaps in the strategic direction we are committed to. This would mean:

  • Handing over more decision-making ability to various movement entities in equitable manner. Movement strategy recommendation "Ensure Equity in Decision-Making" provided a clear direction. Drafting Movement Charter and setting up Global Council would be an important step forward. More steps to ensure regional desision-making should follow.
  • We should be able to establish an efficiant and equitable desision-making flow to enable wikimedia movement to realise its full potential in global collaboration. To make this happen smoothly along with establishing new entities globally, investing in leadership and skills would again be the key. Leadership and skill vaccuum in underrepresented communities is a major roadblock to establish equitable and efficient decision making.
  • I would like to see current period as a transition phase for Wikimedia movement in redistributing power and empowering Wikiverse. This would carve a role that is more balanced and level-playing for all movement entities including WMF board and Foundation.

--Pavan Santhosh Surampudi (talk) 18:21, 13 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Ravishankar Ayyakkannu (Ravidreams)

As stated on my Candidate page, one of the three key movement strategy priorities I am keen in seeing implemented is to ensure equity in Decision-making. The movement governance should become more federal if not confederal. WMF can take a lead in certain areas of governance like software development, legal support, brand ownership, etc., while communities and affiliate organizations should be given more freedom in handling funds, designing programs for growth. I hope the proposed Global Council will help us define this complicated relationship in a more equitable manner.

Farah Jack Mustaklem (Fjmustak)

The BoT is entrusted with advancing the interests of the Wikimedia Foundation. The interests of the WMF lie within the communities that make up the the Wikimedia Movement, be they affiliates, language communities, or otherwise. Therefore, care must be taken to involve the concerned parties in the decision-making process. The Board should strive for transparency wherever possible and should advise the Foundation to be transparent with the Movement. --Fjmustak (talk) 23:12, 14 July 2021 (UTC)[reply]