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Sue Gardner tackles the funds, and the terms of use update nears implementation

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By Jan eissfeldt, Resident Mario, and Mathew Townsend

Controversial content debates resumed

The far-reaching controversial content debate of 2010–2011 was resumed on March 1, 2012, when MZMcBride asked about the current state of the image filter software on foundation-l. Two Foundation trustees, Phoebe Ayers and Kat Walsh, declared during the subsequent discussion that in retrospect they felt it was wrong to adopt the controversial content resolution approved in May 2011 (Signpost coverage) and that the board was still split over the issue.

It was confirmed that the development of the tool called the personal image filter and subject to a global survey in August 2011 (Signpost coverage) has not yet started, and Walsh explicitly supported "rescinding" at least parts of the underlying board decision.

The controversial debate on the Foundation mailing list was wide-ranging, encompassing the re-iteration of well-known positions on the socio-cultural aspects of how the issue relates to the current chapter-selection process of two WMF board members as well as a new proposal on Commons aiming to improve image searching.

The debate arose in response to a story at the end of February 2012, and quickly spread beyond Wikimedia. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, joined in on March 7 on his blog, saying that the problems he reported in a letter to the FBI in 2010 (Signpost coverage) were still unresolved and urging the WMF to ignore community opposition and institute editorial controls. Discussion on the matter also took place at Wikipedia Review.

There is currently an open proposal before the board to vote on whether to uphold the original request for an image-hiding feature. The executive director, Sue Gardner, will take direction from the board on the matter. However, Ayers stated that the issue is off the table for now, "due to the more time-sensitive and generally all-consuming financial discussions of the past couple of months."

Final Gardner recommendations published

On March 9, WMF executive director Sue Gardner presented to the board her final recommendations on fundraising and the dissemination of those funds.

A steady stream of finance-related position papers and posts from Wikimedia entities on Meta peaked on Sunday with Sue Gardner's release of her final recommendations on how to reform major fundraising and fund distribution activities, which were presented to the board on March 9.

With regard to fund distribution, the recommendations are that the decision-making process concerning how to arrange WMF non-core activities, as well as funds to be received by other Wikimedia entities (such as chapters) and individual volunteers, should be opened up to community participation.

According to the office hours conducted on March 12, it's not yet clear what "core" means in concrete terms. Gardner provided a general definition, stating that "Core does not mean 'the rock-bottom costs of operating the sites if we were in serious financial difficulties.' Core means the costs of operating the sites."

To better facilitate a community involvement, the Foundation would establish a new body, run by volunteers and called the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC), to advise the board on how to distribute funds raised via projects such as the English Wikipedia. The committee would be supported by Foundation staff, and a body of funds would be excluded from the FDC as an "operating reserve" to ensure smooth sailing for the Foundation in case of future financial difficulties.

On fundraising, Gardner recommends that the WMF process all funds received through its project sites according to nine guiding principles, including transparency, efficiency, and accordance with the movement mission. These principles—taken from a 2011 board resolution—would be applied to all fundraising activities regardless of area of activity. Fundraising recommendation 3 represents a shift from the draft version, allowing for the continuation of chapter activities during the annual fundraiser on a case by case basis.

Gardner's text follows other Wikimedia entity position papers and posts on Meta over the last weeks. All four chapters that currently process payments, (France, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK), posted their positions on the issues over the last week, reaffirming their preference for processing funds as national entities.

This was the second round of chapter position papers this year, following a January–February rush where the German chapter published a paper, which was reviewed by an association of editors of the Catalan Wikipedia and its sister project (Amical Viquipèdia), arguing in favor of national chapter-driven processing. The Italy and UK chapters followed shortly after with statements of their own, as did the Regional Cooperation Initiative for Ibero-America (Iberocoop).

The next stage will consist of deliberations within the board, which is expected to make a decision at the Berlin conference at the end of March. Everyone interested in contributing at this point can post notes and positions at the related discussion page.

Terms of use update

A board resolution formally approving the forthcoming update of the terms of use was published on March 6. The vote wraps up a deliberation process under way since September 2011, when the Foundation legal team presented an initial draft for community deliberation. Subsequent community debate made this the most heavily collaborated terms of use of any major website. The move aims to make roles and rules more transparent to new editors, as well as bringing the terms in line with those of other websites, such as Mozilla and Creative Commons, in increasing legal protections for the Foundation.

The text was modified more than 200 times during the community review proceedings, which ended in December 2011, and embodies a major shift in the nature of the terms of use. The current version is essentially an agreement on licensing, while its replacement is designed to be more comprehensive and transparent on several issues.

While licensing provisions have been preserved, the updated version includes new aspects like a community-formulated global ban for cross-wiki violations on the project sites, as well as clarifications on topics like legal protection, community responsibilities, and roles. The update summary in the communication sent to the Board of Trustees by general counsel Geoff Brigham has been posted on Meta.

The updated terms of use will not officially go into effect until after a formal notice period, to be decided upon by the Foundation's legal department, but expected to last at least 30 days.

Brief notes

New mockup for "list" view for New Page Triage
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  • I noticed that too. It's not a big deal, but that sort of intentional reversal can be rather jarring. I don't think that Gilderien intended this to be any sort of "gotcha", but more constructive criticism or an attempt to point out what could be a mistake. Trying to deflect by talking about capitalization in what is a conversational setting (this talk page) isn't exactly collegial or constructive.
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 06:51, 17 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]


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