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The WMF's age of discontent

Ex-WMF board member James Heilman: "There appears to be a shift at Board-level away from a community perspective to a more corporate perspective."
A week after the announcement of Heilman’s removal the Board released an FAQ on the matter. The statement includes a claim that Heilman's fellow trustees "lacked sufficient confidence in his discretion, judgment, and ability to maintain confidential Board information about the Wikimedia Foundation governance activities"; notably, the first two claims ("discretion" and "judgment") are widely construed. The Signpost contacted Heilman for a reaction to the statement. He said: "This is simply an attempt to distract people from the underlying issues, and to discredit me." What he sees as a personal attack, he believes, is consistent with the way he has been treated during the more recent part of his tenure as a trustee, during which he said he was called "a troll" by two different people behind closed doors.

It is now clear that the move against Heilman had been planned for some time. Given the long lead-time, others have queried the cohesiveness of the Board's strategy surrounding the meeting called to dismiss him, which apparently failed to: (1) make a clear decision on whether the removal resolution would be "with" or "without cause", per the legal distinction in the relevant law of the state of Florida (the resolution text itself did not contain a legal cause, yet Jimmy Wales has since stated that the removal was indeed "for cause"); (2) prepare beforehand a public announcement for release immediately after the meeting, despite the likelihood that Heilman would announce his removal soon after his expulsion from the meeting; or (3) make a decision on filling the vacant seat, instead stating in an announcement soon after that "we will reach out to the 2015 election committee ... to discuss our options, and will keep you informed as we determine next steps."

New Board-appointed trustees have ties to Silicon Valley

New Board-appointed trustee Kelly Battles

In a move that, though not directly related to Heilman's departure, seems poorly timed, the Board has announced the appointment of two new trustees: Kelly Battles and Arnnon Geshuri. Kelly is a veteran technical manager whose credentials stem from financial leadership positions at firms such as IronPort and Hewlett Packard; Arnnon brings experience in human resources from experience at firms such as Tesla and E*TRADE. Trustee Dariusz Jemielniak has written that the selections came after "wide input from different stakeholders." In the announcing blog post, WMF executive director Lila Tretikov states that the appointments "bring a deep commitment to making knowledge more freely available for people around the world."

However, the Signpost is aware of an online expression of discontent from one WMF staffer with the Board's selection. In addition, Liam Wyatt (Wittylama), community-selected member of the WMF Funds Dissemination Committee, has questioned what these appointments bring to the overall diversity of the Board: "I've always believed that Wikimedia is an education charity that happens to exist in a technology field. ... But these appointments indicate the Board and WMF Executive believe Wikimedia is a technology charity that happens to exist in the education field."
New Board-appointed trustee Arnnon Geshuri

This brings the number of trustees with ties to Google up to five, which is half of the Board:

WMF staff morale

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It is becoming impossible to ignore the increasing anxiety among many Foundation staff over the last few months of 2015. This may not be entirely separate from the implications of the Heilman removal, since we understand that a specific complaint against Heilman by other trustees concerned his contact with disgruntled staff. Transparency appears to be a flashpoint in both the dismissal and low staff morale.

The Signpost contacted around ten staff members to seek their views on where the balance should be drawn between unfettered transparency and strategic secrecy for a leader of the free culture movement; what the causes are of the rapidly changing work environment at the organization; and what is necessary to improve project continuity and success. At this point we should say that not one source—whether those we reached out to or several others who initiated contact with us—would agree to be named, although some provided on-the-record information anonymously.

A key issue has been the WMF's annual evaluation of employee engagement, conducted and analyzed by a third-party consultant in late 2015. The results were made available on an internal office wiki, and it is now public knowledge that an internal discussion among staff has begun about making the survey public. As of publication, more than two dozen staff members have spoken in favor of releasing the survey as soon as possible "with no dissenting voices". The Signpost has been apprised of the results by one of their number. We understand that there was a healthy 93% response rate among some 240 staff. While numbers approached 90% for pride in working at the WMF and confidence in line managers, the responses to four propositions may raise eyebrows:

The Signpost has been informed that among the "C-levels" (members of the executive), only one has confidence in senior leadership.

It is unclear exactly what combination of factors underlie the discontent among staff, but we are aware that there has been internal controversy about recent moves to allocate significant resources to the Discovery unit in the second half of 2015. This unit is heavily involved in the development of what is called the knowledge engine. John Vandenberg, a member of the editing community and a volunteer developer, told the Signpost:

Vandenberg added that we seem to be witnessing a sharpening of the tension between two quite different approaches to achieving professionalism—a tension that may be unique to the Wikimedia movement. On the one hand, he said, the editorial community has developed a hugely successful process of open collaboration, based on incremental improvements. On the other hand, paid staff in any large organization achieve professional outcomes through hiding their incremental improvements in favor of a final product. There lies one basis for the clash between cultures of transparency and secrecy that we now see surrounding the Heilman dismissal.

In brief

Wikimania 2016 submissions open: Wikimania 2016 in Esino Lario will take place from 21 to 28 June 2016. As this is somewhat earlier in the year than past conferences, the submission periods for proposals and scholarship applications have overlapped the winter holiday period, and the deadlines, placed much earlier in the calendar than in years past, are approaching fast. Please note the following key dates:



For further details, see Submissions and Scholarships on the Wikimania 2016 website. AK

Knight Foundation grant: a "Knowledge Engine": On 6 January, the Knight Foundation, a long-time benefactor for the Wikimedia cause, published a blog-post by WMF vice-president of product Wes Moran, titled "Exploring how people discover knowledge on Wikipedia and its sister projects". This was followed by a Knight Foundation press release announcing that

A Wikimedia blog post appeared as well, titled Wikimedia Foundation to explore new ways to search and discover reliable, relevant, free information with $250,000 from Knight Foundation, along with a press release, both featuring a link to a new, dedicated Knight FAQ page set up on MediaWiki. AK

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Another useful link is this one which words it slightly differently "To advance new models for finding information by supporting stage one development of the Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia, a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy public information on the Internet." Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 07:45, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

  • This brings the number of trustees with ties to Google up to five, which is half of the Board

The Circle is not yet complete. We will know all with the "Knowledge Engine" and all will know us. Viriditas (talk) 09:21, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

This new appointment is far more concerning than even the Doc James dismissal. I think we've about at the point where the Titanic cracks in half. At best, we've seen the ultimate and unaccountable ruling Board handed over from academics with principles to careerists who make a life of "managing" things. At worst, a majority of the Board may have a single owner already, and the rest (since it can be dismissed at any time) is irrelevant.
I fear that with this transition, Wikipedia reaches the point where we start seeing grave compromises in the mission. For example, note that Wikimedia's "Privacy Policy" (read the link at the bottom of any page) allows things like tracking pixels, local storage, etc. to watch users' activities, and offers free and open hunting to any "third party" who can compromise privacy by any means - the worst that can happen to them is they get told to stop, if caught. When Google is an empire that finds value in watching your searches, your emails, your video viewing etc., why should they be denied your Wikipedia page views? If the New World Order has a constitution, surely it includes a term that you shouldn't be allowed to flip your TV to an episode of Mob Housewives of Las Vegas without Google knowing which one.
I don't trust a bunch of stuffed suits to stand up for our right to neutrally document a car company's fraudulent emissions schemes, provided the company is willing to provide enough grant money to get their attention. I don't trust them to preserve controversial content, if they think an Islam-friendly site will sell more units of personal information. We needed to preserve the academic nature of the enterprise, and now that is over. Now all credit and blame goes to whoever does or doesn't mirror the site content while they can. Wnt (talk) 13:52, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
It does begin to sound that the community representatives are token trustees and that if the rest of the Board wants to get rid of them, they can. The next time elections come up, I know what attributes I'll look for in prospective candidates. - kosboot (talk) 18:27, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I thank the authors for writing this article. I find it shocking, stunning and deeply depressing. Moving from a community based funding model to the current one, arguably a corporate takeover of the WMF, is about the worst thing that can happen. I realize this has been going on for the past five years, but this article points to a exponential leap in the trend. The question becomes, can the Wikipedia community do anything about it, and if so, can it find consensus to do so. I had previously argued that the community was incapable of major corrective actions on internal affairs, and called for top-down corrections from the WMF Board. I believe that that thinking is now revealed to be incorrect. Jusdafax 18:53, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Jusdafax, I would encourage you (and anyone else who cares) to get with User:Guy Macon. He's an engineer who has shown a deep and learned understanding of the overall problem. I dislike "they are both bad" arguments, but in this case, I think the Wikipedia community is just as bad (if not worse) than the WMF. Our article on agnotology should be required reading. Any attempt to fix the problem with self-governance on Wiki is met with teams of roving agnotologists, who will invent reasons why reform is a bad idea and will never work. If we can't even have a simple discussion to change the archaic, decade-old main page design, how can we possibly govern anything? No, I'm afraid, at the end of the day, the community has failed to lead the WMF and the WMF has failed to lead the community. We need to identify problematic thinking and practices and put a stop to them. It should not take six months to discuss anything, let alone three years for the community to act. We need to streamline discussions for efficiency and rapid prototyping of governance processes so that we can experiment with what works and discard what doesn't. For too long now, this place has wallowed in a fake stability. Viriditas (talk) 20:59, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I, too, thank you for this article. I was not aware how deeply Google had penetrated the Wikipedia. I understand how enticing it must be to advise Google, or get to work for them and use all the fun toys. As a community member I do not feel that that the current board of trustees adequately represents this EDUCATION movement. We need to know ALL of the conflicts of interest of ALL of the trustees (and I consider any tie with Google to be a CoI). It should be the other way around - the community-selected trustees can have the other ones (ingrown? Self-selected?) removed if they appear to be championing any interests other than the community. The dissatisfaction of so many staff members with senior management are a wake-up call. The problem(s) need(s) to be discussed openly and soon. My 2 cents. WiseWoman (talk) 20:38, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
"For example, note that Wikimedia's "Privacy Policy" (read the link at the bottom of any page) allows things like tracking pixels, local storage, etc. to watch users' activities, and offers free and open hunting to any "third party" who can compromise privacy by any means - the worst that can happen to them is they get told to stop, if caught. " eh... there is not a single employee that can actually deploy/build something like that, who would allow that. The community asked developers to start measuring software changes, provide pageview logs and to enable vetted researchers to analyze Wikipedia for scientific purposes. The privacy policy was adapted accordingly. It's nothing else and the privacy policy goes out of it's way to explain what is in scope and what is not, for as far as it is possible to not cement people into a corner that needs to be chiseled loose again every 3 months. Stop spreading FUD. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 00:31, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
@TheDJ: What's the problem with chiseling them loose? One of the universal "features" of the Web is that privacy policies may change at any time. Why is it necessary to prepare Wikipedia with a privacy policy that adopts, as its only priority, the ability of developers to not be hindered by it in any possible project, at any time in the future, when they could change it in half an hour if they "needed" to anyway, in order to do some sort of research by "trusted" people that may or may not improve the site? This only makes sense if your weighting of privacy as a principle is 0.00000%. Wnt (talk) 15:55, 11 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
There is no one realistically looking to redo the privacy policy every 3-12 months. Our privacy policy is top notch, probably better than any other site out there. The only element that is failing you is your trust in those executing it. But a policy won't help you there, only not using the website. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 03:41, 12 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

The Knight Foundation's Knowledge Engine grant: September 2015

Oddly enough, a prior page on the Knight Foundation website announced a $250,000 grant for "Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia" on 1 September 2015, running from that date for a year, "to advance new models for finding information by supporting stage one development of the Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia, a system for discovering reliable and trustworthy public information on the Internet." There was nothing on the WMF blog in September. Why is this grant only being announced now as though it's something that just happened? Andreas JN466 09:39, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

I have a slightly different take: why should we (or the WMF) care very much about a $250,000 grant? As of June 30, 2015, the WMF had more than $67 million in cash and investments. The WMF could initiate, on its own, a new $250,000 project every week for an entire year without making significant inroads on its funds, given that the WMF has been running large surpluses for the last few years (and the foreseeable future). -- John Broughton (♫♫) 16:59, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Because these kinds of restricted grants affect the WMF's independence - that money has to be used in a certain way, unlike normal donations. Legoktm (talk) 17:35, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
And if you don't use the money in that way, then what? I'll tell you what the worst-case scenario is: The recipient gives the money back and apologizes for changing its mind. That's it. And John has calculated above that the WMF could afford to pay out (not just refund) that much money once a week without going broke.
Furthermore, no responsible organization – neither the grantmaker nor the recipient – signs such a contract unless the recipient actually wants to use that money in that certain way. Consequently, there's no real "loss of independence"; the WMF is just getting paid to do what it wants to do anyway. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:03, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Maybe you should read Sue Gardners explanation, What’s wrong with restricted grants, WhatamIdoing. --Atlasowa (talk) 23:13, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Exactly. Firstly, the Foundation took over $30m last month, so $250,000 is peanuts in the grand scheme of things – they take that in a December afternoon. Secondly, you've got sixteen people working on this thing, whose output may well be of supreme value to some corporates who make their money with free content, and $250,000 won't pay those WMF employees for more than a few weeks. The rest comes out of the WMF's own reserves, at the expense of other stuff the Foundation could be doing. It looks like the tail wagging the dog (which is perhaps where Legoktm's point comes in). I haven't heard an adequate (or indeed, any) explanation from the Foundation yet. Andreas JN466 17:50, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
You have incorrectly assumed that every single person in that group is working on this. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:03, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
John Broughton, I don't think anybody is saying the amount of the grant is a reason to care. I went into the reasons for caring about restricted grants here: And, for another example -- why did people care about the Belfer Center program? That certainly wasn't about the size of the grant, either. -Pete (talk) 21:25, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
@Peteforsyth: The point I was trying to make was that the money from the grant is marginal; as such, paying much attention to it is a distraction from focusing on how the WMF uses its own money. As for the Belfer Center program you mention, it involved both personnel and precedent issues, and it's something that everyone can learn from. A grant that involves far less than 1% of the WMF's cash and investments? I see nothing to learn from, except if the WMF attempts to justify a major effort (that is, an effort much larger than the grant amount) based on receiving that grant. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 21:24, 9 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Then can you please tell us, WhatamIdoing, how many people in Search & Discovery and other departments are working on this? Andreas JN466 01:29, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

While I think building a knowledge engine is good thing, I find its emphasis on it rather vexing and it might illustrate a rather big disconnect between leadership and community. Currently WP doesn't even have a proper search engine for its own encyclopedia (with a slight improvement now coming after over 10 years) and now they want knowledge engine/answering machine? How about first things first?--Kmhkmh (talk) 22:09, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Keep in mind, that while many of us have been discussing the concept of a knowledge engine for some time now, mostly to help agument human knowledge in a persistent, transparent computing environment where hardware disappears and the interface becomes embedded in all things and accessible from looking, pointing, or speaking, there is another aspect of the knowledge engine that people need to understand, and that is this: a successful knowledge engine will also eventually disrupt and supplant the editorial community as an AI that researches, collects data, and writes articles, and ultimately replaces every user. If you don't see this happening, then you aren't paying attention. Virtually every major form of writing can be automated, from fiction writing to journalism, and many news organizations are experimenting with auto-journalism right now. At some point, the community will need to decide how to use advanced technology in an appropriate manner, or the choice will be made for you. Viriditas (talk) 22:21, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
That is a separate issue and falls in he domain of how WP should deals with newer evolving technologies and how that affects the community. Moreover WP probably can't (and maybe shouldn't) separate itself from general trends in society nor can society's ills or problematic developments can be fixed in Wikipedia. The problems of increased automatization (in particular without a modified economic system) is an big issue for societies to solve rather than WP.
In any case the point that is vexing me above me above is of more practical right now nature and not that much related to general trends in society. Why do we build knowledge engines/answering machines without building a proper search engine first, which after all is our daily bread and butter for researching things in an encyclopedia. It's really annoying that very often you need google to find something in WP of which you may not know the exact/correct spelling, this btw might be also a smaller reason by lotsa people don't bother with the WP main page/main interface to begin with, it is simply doesn't provide a proper search engine.--Kmhkmh (talk) 22:55, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Please read leapfrogging. There's no need to build a proper search engine when innovation requires an entirely different paradigm. Your assumption that a human will be using a text-based search engine in 2016, ignores the rise of voice command and intelligent personal assistants that have no need for such an interface. Wikipedia is uniquely positioned to leapfrog into the educational and commercial sector as both a learning device and as a intelligent research assistant. In terms of output, think of Amazon Echo, Microsoft Cortana, and Siri, as basic, but rudimentary examples for where this is going. And as for input, anyone should be able to contribute from anywhere without ever glancing at a screen or using a keyboard. We need to stop thinking of our users sitting in a chair behind a desk and start thinking of how to augment the everyday life experience of normal people engaged in mundane tasks. Voice assisted query capability with mobile integration raises the bar. Now make it responsive to a student. Then, allow researchers to do database queries by voice in natural language. Finally, like in the film Her, allow people to create unique accounts that respond to them conversationally about articles, and to help them create new content. An intelligent assistant could easily train a new user faster than reading dozens of policies and guidelines far removed from actual practice. Think about the applications in entertainment alone. You could rehearse lines from an agent reading from wiki sourced play, you could have a conversation with a historical figure and ask them questions about a war they started, etc. In theory, Wikipedia could revolutionize how we interact with content by deliberately leapfrogging over such a "search engine". It's time to think big like stars, and to stop thinking like amoebas. Viriditas (talk) 23:48, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry but from my perspective that is polemically speaking a bunch of nonsense (or less polemic just beside the point I was arguing). The increased used of alternative interfaces doesn't imply that the traditional interacts are not used anymore. In particular editors/authors are likely to use "conventional" interfaces rather than digital assistants. I'm talking about what WP (and its community) needs now and not years down the road. There is nothing wrong with "thinking big", but that's a separate discussion. However one of the in my perspective most disturbing aspects of "thinking big" proponents in WP is, that they seem to lack, ignore or have forgotten how most of the (quality) content in WP is actually generated and that all the great usage scenarios end up being worth about shit, if the underlying content database lacks quality. Well researched (and sourced) quality content is neither written via digital assistant or smaller mobile devices (unless we're talking about laptops and alike). The latter are (at best) primarly used for small corrections and additions. What good are conversations with a historical figures if they are based on a content which is partially plain wrong and largely unsourced/unverified. More importantly why should all these interesting usage scenarios provided by WMF/WP itself Much of it seems better suited for 3rd parties, which btw should not outsource their work to volunteers at WP.--Kmhkmh (talk) 00:38, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I strongly disagree with just about everything you've said. I first started editing Wikipedia as a registered user in late 2004. In 2005, I began editing from a HTC Apache mobile device, along with a laptop and a desktop. In 2007, I edited using an iPod Touch, and then finally an iPhone. Designing and focusing on a desktop interface in 2016 misses everything that's happened in the last decade. @Cullen328: we've got a live one. Please read User:Cullen328/Smartphone editing in the meantime. The future is not based around the desktop, and in the present we are migrating to mobile, augmented, and VR workspaces. This is all going towards the pervasive computing paradigm, where the interface becomes part of everything around you. The quaint notion of someone sitting behind a desk editing Wikipedia needs to be cherished for its nostalgia, but ultimately discarded. Can I interest you in a buggy whip for your carriage? Viriditas (talk) 01:00, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you, Viriditas. Yes, I write new articles and expand existing ones, help out new editors at the Teahouse, and in general, do my best to be a productive editor, all while using a smartphone, with no significant difficulties. I use the "desktop" site on my phone which in my experience is far superior to the default mobile site for both reading and editing. But WMF seems so heavily invested in the clunky outmoded mobile site that they completely ignore editors like me. The current mobile site is, in my opinion, effectively a deterrent to reading and editing the encyclopedia. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 01:29, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I guess given you use the "desktop interface", you would appreciate a proper search engine for WP as well.--Kmhkmh (talk) 02:11, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Power users will be highly productive in a VR medium where one can manipulate text and documents with more depth and control. Eventually, the large goggles and head gear will morph into more of an augmented overlay, but VR and AR will be highly mobile from the start. I'm more interested in how I can review source articles without a desktop and input content without a keyboard. Viriditas (talk) 01:41, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
It makes for a nice meme to phrase it as "old" versus "new" or "conventional physical desktop" versus "pervasive computing paradigm" and maybe for a nice rhetoric trick, but as I tried to point out above it misses the point I was making. The point is about basic functionality for readers and editors and not so much about the various interface layers through which you access that functionality. I did not suggest WP editors (creating quality content) are largely sitting behind physical desks, instead I suggested that most preferably work with a big(ger) screen and a keyboard (call it virtual desktop if you want, which may or may not be mobile). The functionality of search engine however is needed/useful no matter whether you access it from behind a desktop or a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Even if you use an digital assistance via a voice interface, that assistant needs internally a search engine being capable of dealing with mispronunciations/misspellings or more generally resolve a somewhat fuzzy notation of a term. By the way a good knowledge engine/answering machine probably incorporates internally the functionality of a search engine anyhow. However rather than waiting for the finalized answering machine, I'd have access to a proper search engine as soon as possible.--Kmhkmh (talk) 02:11, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks all for joining an open discussion around the Knowledge engine. This is what I had requested back in Oct. I felt that before we pursued this as a major direction we needed to have a frank and open discussion of the risks and benefits. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:01, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

New trustee Arnnon Geshuri's background with Google anticompetitive agreements

An open letter has been sent to the WMF board asking for an explanation of their appointment and posted here. Perhaps a Wikipedia biography article for this notable trustee would help provide context and reliable sources? -- (talk) 13:32, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Perhaps the two new trustees would grant an interview to The Signpost. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 13:54, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I have written an essay regarding Arnnon Geshuri's central role in a major anticompetitive scandal at Google. In 2010, the Justice Department shut down the illegal collusion between Google and five other Silicon Valley corporations. A class action lawsuit forced the companies to pay $415 million in compensation to 64,000 employees whose careers were damaged by the conspiracy that Geshuri was part of. Details can be found at User:Cullen328/Arnnon Geshuri. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:49, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for that summary. What a shame. We need someone with his expertise on the board. But yes. He shouldn't be voting on Wikimedia's forward direction. No way. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 07:32, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
This is a serious issue. The Wikimedia Foundation has appointed as a trustee someone who was a part of an illegal conspiracy in restraint of trade to keep salaries down.[1] From the lawsuit, which the parties are paying $415 million to settle:

This class action challenges a conspiracy among Defendants to fix and suppress the compensation of their employees. Without the knowledge or consent of their employees, Defendants’ senior executives entered into an interconnected web of express agreements to eliminate competition among them for skilled labor. This conspiracy included: (1) agreements not to recruit each other’s employees; (2) agreements to notify each other when making an offer to another’s employee; and (3) agreements that, when offering a position to another company’s employee, neither company would counteroffer above the initial offer. The intended and actual effect of these agreements was to fix and suppress employee compensation, and to impose unlawful restrictions on employee mobility. Defendants’ conspiracy and agreements restrained trade and are per se unlawful under federal and California law. Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief and damages for violations of: Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1; the Cartwright Act, California Business and Professions Code §§ 16720, et seq.; California Business and Professions Code § 16600; and California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq. In 2009 through 2010, the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) investigated Defendants’ misconduct. The DOJ found that Defendants’ agreements violated the Sherman Act per se and “are facially anticompetitive because they eliminated a significant form of competition to attract high tech employees, and, overall, substantially diminished competition to the detriment of the affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information and access to better job opportunities.”

The Wikimedia Foundation has thus appointed a crook to the Board. Given that choice, we have to question the competence of the board to run a non-profit foundation. John Nagle (talk) 07:34, 15 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Don't participate at "Board elections"

Community members should not legitimize this board by participating at the next selections (so calles elections) but withstand the insinuations of the department of communications. I'm not calling for boycott but hope to raise consciousness. Where there is no possibility to take part in decision-making, no possibility to vote invalid, no possibility to select a board member, standing aside is what is best for all. Further reading: Consent of the governed. Thanks for taking this into consideration, Sargoth (talk) 20:10, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

That's ridiculous. Boycotting the election won't solve anything. Elect the candidate that will best represent the community, or a candidate who will burn it all down, or a cartoon animal. But not participating will only encourage the powers that be to ignore the community. Gamaliel (talk) 21:10, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Punish one, teach a hundred. Besides, we're not able to elect a candidate. Please read the bylaws. Of course, you and whoever wants to legitimize the board by voting, do so. I will not. --Sargoth (talk) 21:40, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
You're missing the entire point. It isn't enough to stop giving political legitimacy to the election. You also have to create your own shadow institution and supplant the original process to the point where the original board election no longer matters. To self-govern, you have to actually do it, not just ignore and stand aside. This is essentially what it means to "co-opt". Viriditas (talk) 21:49, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
No. Boycotting is not activism, it is pacifism. In politics, boycotting is like surrender--it is an abdication of power, not empowerment. It is as though political movements are won by having all its supporters go to prison; in reality, they are won by taking the fight to the enemy. It is not as though surrender is always bad, it is that there must be a balance, and the decisive winning action will be active and aggressive. E.g., a surrender can be useful by culling the enemy into a disadvantageous position, but in that case it is only a component of an overall active and aggressive strategy.
In war, a significant goal is to, LOL, quite literally, pacify the other side (make them pacifist in a way). So your argument that proponents of a cause will win by being passive is to deny the the truth and wish upon us an era of ignorance, deceit and failure. Boycotts can be effective if paired with a denial of legitimacy and with an eye toward an alternative takeover (takeover of power by a means other than an election) or some such activism, but like surrenders, they usually just end with fewer resources to fight with. int21h (talk · contribs · email) 03:05, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
+1, elect candidates who will be transparent and work with and for the community. II | (t - c) 03:12, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Maybe if the dissatisfaction reaches high enough levels, a split might become a realistic option. Once upon a time a back then serious split of the Spanish WP helped to keep WP advertisement free.--Kmhkmh (talk) 22:17, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

int21h, I don't talk about being passive or pacifying. To stress your image: taking part at the selections is like handing over our stone clubs to the enemy who already nuked us. Btw: I've read about quite useful military guerilla tactics. But I dislike those war alegories. They're useless. We're rather on a farm than in a war. Sargoth (talk) 09:00, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
@Sargoth: The analogies draw upon the relationship between civil and military politics, which are well documented. And while I admit giving legitimacy to the current WMF board by participating is detrimental, if by participating we can trigger the unelected board members to remove yet another elected member, it will force the issue(s). They ignored history and good sense by removing a board member in such a way, now let us doom them to repeat it. int21h (talk · contribs · email) 01:46, 9 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

For the record: I have not taken part in the last election, and I will not take part in any more election unless the now remaining Board and the ED resign. What we have seen lately is an outrageous behaviour by the remaining Board members. I support James Heilman's call for more openness and for a bigger say of the editors in all processes. The morale of the employees the Signpost has reported on is another case in point. Wikipedia is being sold to Google and other external stakeholders.--Aschmidt (talk) 23:03, 7 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

We need to have true elections before we can elect anyone. In other words we need to see a change in the bylaws first. This is an interesting read for those who have not seen it. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:24, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
But "we" cannot change the bylaws, all "we" can do is electing somebody under the current procedures.--Kmhkmh (talk) 04:53, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
That's right. We need to change the bylaws in order to get the volunteers into the Board, but first we need to replace the existing Board completely. And when I say completely, I mean completely, all of them. The Board has no moral right to continue its work. We also need to discuss strategy from scratch. We need a Board that listens to the community and that acts accordingly. We need democratic structures in the movement. In the future, the Board should report to the editors. And with the existing bylaws this cannot be achieved. I won't take part in any election that would legitimise the existing Board members. I also think the ED should be exchanged, we need an all new start in order to get Wikipedia back on track.--Aschmidt (talk) 10:59, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

there are more than two parties

We've been discussing above the problem of the lack of confidence between the board/senior management and the staff at the foundation. (It's not clear whether in fact the board is supporting the senior management,or whether they are thinking of making a change.) But previously we've had many discussions about the lack of alignment between the staff at the foundation and the editing community: that most of the actual work at the Foundation is irrelevant to the actual work of the encyclopedias. I cannot tell from the information presented whether it is possible that the board/senior management is more closely aligned with the volunteers than are the foundation staff, or whether they are even further away from us. But it is certainly true that there is no active hostility between the volunteers and the staff at the foundation, at least not to the extent that there apparently is between the staff and the senior management. `` — Preceding unsigned comment added by DGG (talkcontribs) 06:01, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

I think I've seen a huge change in the quality of the relationship between the WMF and the volunteer community over the last eighteen months, and I assume that's down to Lila, and the changes she's made. Those changes would have been quite disruptive to staff, so I'm not surprised there's been some blow-back. In the 10 November 2015 WMF metrics meeting [2] she says to the WMF staff

[at 2:48] "I travel quite a bit lately." [At 15:05] "I really value my time interacting with our communities. It helps me understand much more about who we are and what is important ... But when I came back I realised I had made a mistake in spending that much time out there. You needed more support and more of my time, right now. More than probably ever. I've heard a lot of your voices and thank you for letting me know about this because not everywhere do you have the gift of people coming up to you and saying, 'Hey, this is broken. Fix it.'"

She appears to have gotten the message. Hopefully she's now working on those relationships.
But please don't overlook the sea change that has occurred in the relationship between the WMF and the volunteers since she's been at the helm. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 07:14, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Frequently Unanswered Questions

I am working on something that, if it works, might be a game changer, but I am not yet at the point where I can discuss it. In the meantime I am, as a test of The WMF's alleged commitment to transparency, starting small and asking the following question once again (previous attempt):

Some here have, quite reasonably, asked "where does the money I donate to the Wikipedia Foundation go?" Well, about two and a half million a year goes to buy computer equipment and office furniture.[3] That's roughly twelve thousand dollars per employee. The report says "The estimated useful life of furniture is five years, while the estimated useful lives of computer equipment and software are three years." so multiply that twelve thousand by three or more -- and we all know that at least some employees will be able to keep using a PC or a desk longer than that.

I would really like to see an itemized list of exactly what computer equipment and office furniture was purchased with the $2,690,659 spent in 2012 and the $2,475,158 spent in 2013. Verifying that those purchases were reasonable and fiscally prudent would go a long way towards giving me confidence that the rest of the money was also spent wisely. Needless to say, nobody needs to know who got what furniture; an accounting with all personal information redacted is fine. --Guy Macon (talk) 11:04, 8 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

The concerns with how the senior leadership is directing resources have absolutely nothing to do with furniture and computers. Remember that the WMF has things like kitchens and video-conferencing rooms and a lobby. $2 million doesn't sound unreasonable to me, but I've never outfitted an office myself, so I really have no idea. There are definitely more important transparency issues than what the WMF is spending on furniture though. Some WMF employee (talk) 01:14, 9 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

The one constant

What's the one consistent factor with this rigged, insiders-rule Board of Trustees? Jimmy Wales sits on it. He just was unanimously re-upped for yet another 3 year term. We need to make sure that three years hence this mistake is not repeated. Carrite (talk) 02:45, 17 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

@Carrite: The bylaws state "In the event that Wales is not appointed as Community Founder Trustee, the position will remain vacant, and the Board shall not fill the vacancy." I find that disappointing, because I think it would be hilarious if they appointed Larry Sanger to the Founder's seat instead. Gamaliel (talk) 04:26, 17 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, as usual it's worded in favor of our benelovent dictator & constitutional monarch while it would be correctly named Co-Founder's seat ;) --.js[democracy needed] 23:19, 26 February 2017 (UTC)[reply]
@Carrite, Gamaliel, and Larry Sanger: PS. Seems like Founder's syndrome fits here, too. --.js[democracy needed] 00:09, 27 February 2017 (UTC)[reply]


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