donderdag 23 juli 2009

It is all about people, about people who care II

The Wikimedia movement is part of a much broader movement. Wikipedia and other projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation provide an infrastructure, a knowledge highway. A dense network of connections between knowledge domains. The Wikimedia Foundation isn’t a membership organization. Nonetheless, the “community” selects some members of the board of trustees. What would constitute an ideal board member? For me, that is someone deeply rooted within the Wikimedia Foundation. It has to be a long term editor. It has to be someone with relationships in the real world too, and a track record of creating relationships with partners and other institutions in the broader movement. Board membership is unpaid and time consuming. Someone with a daytime paid job at a partnering organization besides being a long term editor would be ideally suited as a candidate. The premise being that the partnering organization acknowledges time invested at the board of the WMF to be part of the job description more ore less implicitly. Such organizations do exist, organizations for which the continuity of the WMF is of vital interest. Couldn’t those be board appointed? No, in my opinion. Definitely not. I belief the current community of eligible voters should have a definite say in the selection of candidates from different backgrounds or different partnering organizations. Eligible voters decide which specific partnering organization could be seen as of vital interest to the Wikimedia movement or the Wikimedia Foundation, or just plainly the community of eligible voters. My current paid daytime job is not within the broader movement in the widest sense. Hence I withdrew my candidacy two days ago.


On the list of candidates the community has the option to choose partnership by boardmembership with organizations like One Laptop Per Child, or Sun Micro systems, or IBM, or Patent Bar Bassoonist, or GamesLaw. You might wonder if those are the foremost institutions you would like to see the WMF partner with. These candidates have a track record of being both long term editors and helping organize things and people behind and in front of the scenes. As far as I can see all other candidates offer little more than being an editor for one or more years. They might be experienced, however fail to connect that experience to the Wikimedia or broader movement. Attending meetings shows interest to me. Showing involvement requires more than attendance alone. My personal involvement with the movement dates back to March 2005 when I started participating in discussions and meetings to create a local chapter in the Netherlands. Last January I facilitated a two hour (too) long meeting of the annual general assembly of the Dutch local chapter. About what? That’s only of interest to members of the Dutch local chapters. Nonetheless, the interference of an experienced facilitator to this meeting was necessary and appreciated. With great joy I attended Wikimedia Conferences this year in Berlin. And if you didn’t know yet, I’m the longest serving member on the Audit Committee of the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation. And I recommitted myself for another year this Spring.


A one year collaborative strategy process has started. Eekim and Philippe|Wiki will lead and facilitate that process. In the firt phase they will try to map the movement as a whole, try to identify all stakeholders, and try to identify the issues and concerns of the movement as perceived by all the different stakeholders, communities and you. For example, you can answer the questions on [[meta:reach]], [[meta:participation]] and [[meta:quality]]. Maybe you have entire other issues and concerns that need to be addressed in this collaborative strategy process. Please let Eekim and Philippe|Wiki know. Currently there is a great gap in the perception of issues and concerns between for example executives of the Foundation and the kind editors who raise questions in the current election process. And if you really want to get deeply down to earth, I can tell you the concerns and issues of the readers of Wikipedia. One, they don’t know the Foundation is a non-profit, they don’t know the WMF would like a donation, they don’t know how to locate the edit button or what to do when you push the edit button. On a more advanced level, those readers haven’t grasped the idea of a free license.


What will the board do the coming year? They will do boring stuff like approving financial reports and plans, review procedures and policies. Really nothing else? They will speak out in public relations efforts protecting the reputation and brandnames of the Wikimedia Foundation. They will participate in fundraiser efforts. They will attend numerous meetings. And they will wait for the outcome of the collaborative strategy process. Imagine any big issue that might emerge. Any such big issue is in need of a big policy resolution. Any such policy resolution would interfere with the outcome of the collaborative strategy process. And such big decision will be delayed until the final report of this big process is published. And after that, quite a few involved parties will want to have the time to study the report before anything can be decided. What else will the boardmembers do? They will participate in that strategy process, raising questions, listening to your issues, concerns, thoughts and feelings. Currently candidates for the board are being grilled with lots of questions. So there are people with questions, probably concerning sensitive points, highly relevant to them, touching their fundamental values. Maybe they do raise those questions to influence the direction of the Wikimedia Foundation. Some candidates push on a platform of direction for a project or the Foundation. That is fine. Their best chance at pushing the Wikimedia Foundation in their preferred direction is participating in the collaborative strategy process. Let your concern or issues be heard. Eventually what gets noted is what gets done. Action speaks louder than words. Start doing things and share what you’ve learnt.


Several people contacted me in the last days asking me. What have you done? I appreciate that. In the coming years I will move from my current temporary job, to another one. I’ll find one within the broader movement. Bless you all.

dinsdag 21 juli 2009

It's all about people, about people who care

The Wikimedia movement, Wikipedia and other projects, is all about people, about people who care. The Wikimedia Foundation is non-profit, with a strategic goal to educate people, to educate them the Foundation is non-profit. To educate people that they also can contribute something valuable, educate them in lcoating the edit button - anyone can edit on Wikipedia and other projects, or, also appreciated, a small financial donation. Without hundreds of thousands of small amount donations the Wikimedia Foundation can't host Wikipedia and other projects.

In the current election season the communities is asked to re(s)elect community members in three vacant community designated seats of the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation. Ting Cheng, elected a year ago, has submitted his candidacy. Most likely he will be reselected. Domas Mituzas joined the Board in January 2008. Most likely he will be reselected. That leaves exactly one vacancy to fill. While the question period is open already, candidate submission will be accepted through through July 27th at 23:59 (UTC). So maybe Kat Walsh will submit her candidacy in the days to come. She microblogged on identi.ca "I'm thinking I will run, though there are a few things I want to do before I put up a candidacy", so we'll have to wait and see.

Quite a few people do care about this election. For example, the election committee, the translation committee, bloggers who comment on the election, like Guillom, Wikizine, and of course Brianna, who really cares about the election, but doesn't want to be a candidate.

Boring as it sounds, Audit Committee work is one of the responsibilities of the Board as a whole. Not every Board member has to be involved in performing the duty, but each and every Board member should make sure the work has been done diligently. I'm happy doing the work on the Audit Committee since January 2007. Currently I'm the longest serving Audit Committee member, and recommitted myself for another season this Spring. I'm a candidate to the Board for a reality check with the community, as I did a year ago. I am happy with the support I receive from community members during the election for the work I do at the Audit Committee. As a year ago some argue that I might fit the specific expertise seat better than another seat. With three community seats available, and with an election in which you can cast votes on multiple candidates, all community members should cast at least one positive vote for a financial literate candidate. Ask yourself: will the current or next board have at least one financial literate member?

Ultimately the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia and other projects is all about people, about people who care, about people building relationships. Building positive, constructive and rewarding relationships between Wikipedian, Wikipedist, Wikimedians, Commonists, Wikibookians, Wikisourcians, Wikinewsies, and contributors, editors and registered users of all other projects, relationships with our readers and viewers, and relationships with Galleries, Archives, Libraries, Museum and Educational institutions. Wikipedia and other projects are disruptive. More than one paper encyclopedia has been put out of business. At least one commerical online encyclopedia announced this year to close business. Yes, we are a risk or threat to others. Others who will feel to be forced to rethink their business model. However, the Wikimedia movement nor the Wikimedia Foundation has anything to win by forcing anyone out of business. Wikipedia Loves Art and Wiki loves art, are good examples of grass roots initiatives and collaborations in complex nets of institutions which are rewarding to all people and all institutions involved. It's fun to participate. All parties grow by not spending money. You really need a financial literate person to reiterate that time and again.

While at the Audit Committee I have seen the number of staff in the office and the dollar amount in expense increase nearly tenfold. A lot of money well spent. In some places we can't avoit to spend a lot of money. Serverfarms and bandwidth for example. And a growing number of paid techies who squeeze maximum performance out a small set of webserver farms while keeping Wikipedia a global top ten website. An one year collaborative strategy process is on going. We don't know the outcome yet. You as a community member will have to provide some input for that in the coming year. As I look back in the last two, three years, some numbers increased tenfold. As I look a head for the coming three to five years those numbers might as well increase again tenfold. The necessity of having financial literacy at the board will only increase not decrease. Keep contributing!


Kat is A Candidate

This morning I removed my submission on the candidacy page for the board election of the Wikimedia Foundation. Guillaume Paumier suggested I be considered for one of the specific audit expertise seats a while ago. The nomination committee is considering a long list of candidates since as early as 3 October 2008. No signs of any decision yet. The audit committee recently expanded with a series of well experienced members. I belief the area of audit/financial expertise to be sufficiently covered for a while.

31 Minutes after my removal Kat Walsh (Mindspillage) submitted her statement. She's running again. Glad she did.

woensdag 8 juli 2009

Candidacy board member Wikimedia Foundation

This year the Wikimedia community will elect three members to the board of the Wikimedia Foundation. Three positions because a) the one-year term of Ting Cheng (Wing) ended, Ting was elected in 2008, and is candidate again b) Kat Walsh (Mindspillage) two year term has ended, she was elected in 2007, to date it is unknown if Kat will renominate herself and c) the term of Domas Mituzas has ended - he has been appointed, not elected a year ago, and to date it is unknown if Domas will renominate himself.

A year ago I was also candidate, and ended 5 out of 15. My motivation was clear: I was a member of an important board committee, while not on the full board. I wanted to test community support for that position. I recommitted myself to the audit committee for another year a few months ago, so again I nominate myself in this election.

Voters will have the opportunity to vote for as many candidates as they like. For continuity reasons I would urge anyone to vote for Kat, Domas and Ting if they do renominate themselves. There are already five persons on the board who weren't a board member when I started as a member of the audit committee back in January 2007.

In the past year I attended several meetings organized by the Dutch chapter, including Wikimedia Conferentie Nederland. I attended the four day Wikimedia Conferences 2009 in Berlin, Germany. Of course, I attended all audit committee meetings (teleconferences), and I was lucky to meet Stu West and Michael Snow in Berlin, as well as Sue Gardner, people I had only been speaking to on the phone and had e-mail conversations with.