Patrick and Wool resign in office shakeup

In separate and apparently unrelated announcements, Wikimedia Foundation employees Brad Patrick and Danny Wool both announced their resignations this week, both citing disagreements with the Board of Trustees.

Wool first made his announcement late Tuesday, when he removed his name from the list of "current staff" on the Wikimedia Foundation website. He removed his rights on all wikis on Wednesday, and on Thursday, formally announced his resignation in a mailing list post: present, I am unwilling to discuss the reasons for my resignation from the WMF office team. I plan on remaining an active editor on various projects, as I have always been, even before I began working for WMF. To ensure that there are no misunderstandings or claims of an abuse of power, I ask that all admin status on the various projects be revoked. If I feel I can help as an admin, I will ask to be reelected by the normal process. I look forward to this opportunity to reenter the community as a new user and to share in the building of free knowledge. I would also like to announce that I plan on running for the Board of Trustees in the June elections for the seats currently held by Kat, Oscar, and Erik. At that time, I will make known my position on how the Wikimedia Foundation should operate, and what mistakes I perceive are being made at present. So let's leave the gossip and second-guessing behind us and get on with the real task at hand--building the largest and most reliable repository of knowledge ever created.

Patrick, meanwhile, also announced his resignation on Thursday, while noting that his resignation was not related to Wool's:

I am stepping down as General Counsel to the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., effective March 31, 2007. I tendered my resignation to the Board some weeks ago, which was accepted. In the context of Danny Wool's announcement earlier today that he has resigned, some will speculate the two are related. They are not. The timing is just unfortunate. ... This community understands implicitly that people of goodwill can (and do) have strong differences of opinion about important matters. Should I choose to comment about these sorts of things at some point in the future, it will be as a person who cares about the vitality and success of the Foundation. I intend any such criticism to be constructive and based on a well-founded, good faith belief in making the Foundation stronger. I certainly wish for nothing but success for the organization. To the extent I, (like any person who has had anything to do with the workings of the Foundation), have opinions about what I think is good, bad, ugly, etc. about how the Foundation does things, they are my own. ... It is my earnest hope that everyone who cares about the Foundation, but has concerns about what is happening at the Foundation now, will say so. This community is strongest when it is vocal, not silent. If you have questions you want answered, be bold, speak up, and ask them. The Board members -- the ones who are accountable, since it is they who are running the Foundation -- deserve the support of the community when they earn it. But, since this is real life, {{SOFIXIT}} isn't as simple as clicking on an article. It's really hard work that takes a great deal of time and energy.

In an interview with Wired News, Patrick criticized the Board's ability to handle the tasks of running the Foundation: "A board that is tasked with the responsibility of running a 501(c)3 should have the competences to run a 501(c)3 and get all the help they can from as many people as they can, including outside people, to do that. I've said before that the board could just as soon have a pie-eating contest or flip a coin or Tiddly Wink to determine who the next board member would be and it would have the same legitimacy as an election."

Developer Tim Starling noted that, unlike Patrick's announcement, which had already been given privately to the Board of Trustees, Wool's announcement came with no prior notice: "...Brad gave about a month's notice. Danny left last Tuesday with no prior notice. Danny's resignation caused some comment on internal-l. Anthere decided that since we were talking about resignations, this would be a good time to announce Brad's pending resignation, also to internal-l."

The moves represent the first full resignations in the history of the Wikimedia Foundation. Patrick was interim executive director until February (see archived story), but remained in his role as general counsel. Prior to the Foundation's existence, Larry Sanger resigned from the project on March 1, 2002, after Jimbo Wales and Bomis became unable to fund his position as "chief organizer" of Wikipedia and editor-in-chief of Nupedia.

The Foundation has already announced a search for a new legal coordinator to handle many of the duties that Patrick previously handled. It has not yet been announced whether Wool's position will be filled in the near future.

In other Foundation news, Foundation Chair Florence Devouard announced that the Foundation has hired Rob Halsell as a full-time IT and networking professional, working at the Tampa data center and in the St. Petersburg offices.

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