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Vote of no confidence; WMF trustees speak out

Calls are growing in the Wikimedia community to oust newly appointed Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees member Arnnon Geshuri, due to his involvement in the High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation controversy (see previous Signpost coverage). On January 20, called for a vote of no confidence on Meta, which proposes that "in the best interests of the Wikimedia Foundation, Arnnon Geshuri must be removed from his appointment as a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation Board." The vote has attracted 70 support votes in just over 24 hours. Two current and former members of the board have already participated. Current trustee Guy Kawasaki was the first to oppose, doing so with a newly created Meta account. He has not yet provided the rationale for his vote, despite calls to do so from other participants. Former chair of the board Florence Devouard was the 16th support vote and linked to a statement on the Wikimedia mailing list that read, in part:

On Sunday January 24, Trustee Alice Wiegand (Lyzzy) published a blog post in German entitled "Silence" (translation). The post shows signs of strong disappointment at the way in which the Board has handled the recent upheavals ("we're not currently having a good run"). She writes: "There has been widespread incomprehension, frustration, helplessness, and anger, culminating recently in a no-confidence vote. And the Board of Trustees is silent." In a metaphorical passage, she speaks of the effect that silence can have: "It paralyzes, irritates, and harms".

Although Wiegand writes there is much about the ongoing community discussion that she doesn't agree with, to her, it "clearly demonstrates how sensitive the community is to our decisions, how strongly it fears that major changes are being pushed through without its input, and how big the loss of confidence in the Board as an institution has become. Some of it is rooted in misguided ideas about the methods and extent of the Board's decisions. Once again it shows that we’ve still not managed to communicate [with the community] our self-conception as a Board of Trustees, our tasks and our ideas in a clear way."

Wiegand says that the Board is preparing a statement on the Geshuri appointment that she plans to contribute to personally. "Most of all, we have to stop self-centered introspection, and tackle the actual questions around free knowledge."

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  • Why the heck would you would to give anyone from Google even MORE influence over the world? Arcanicus (talk) 12:59, 26 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • I'm not sure this should be a vote of no confidence in Arnnon Geshuri, or in the rest of the board. While to someone from the UK the "within the hour" email is shocking, I'm aware that there are cultural differences in the US. I would not necessarily wish to see this held against Geshuri. However I do think that it is a big enough issue that it should have been spotted, and ideally, discussed with the community.
Again, perhaps we can forgive the Board for not spotting it (if they didn't). What is unforgivable is the prolongation of the agony. A simple "We screwed up, we are considering what action to take." message would have drawn the venom.
Instead we hear a deafening silence. (Perhaps an improvement on the cryptic comments of the previous scandals.)
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 19:45, 24 January 2016 (UTC).[reply]
You're right on the money here, Rich. Each of these mishaps (Geshuri, Heilman, the staff survey) would likely have blown over had they been better handled initially. As I said when the Heilman thing broke, if you don't fill the information void with the right information, then you're inviting conspiracy theories and damaging speculation. Lankiveil (speak to me) 09:31, 26 January 2016 (UTC).,[reply]
  • Confusing to have a stack of three pictures when only one of the three subjects of them is discussed until much later in a story. And the actual main subject of the story isn't even the first image. How about standard layout, of a lede-thumb representing the overall/main topic, with other images located where their sub-topic is most- or first-introduced? DMacks (talk) 19:48, 24 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  • The text of the story isn't very long, which I think makes the suggested arrangement impossible without blocks of blank space. I don't believe any single one of the individuals depicted is the main subject of the story, so that wasn't a consideration when ordering the pictures. Gamaliel (talk) 22:19, 24 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Looking more closely, I was mis-reading that even one of the pictures was of Geshuri. Being that all the pictures are just of people whose opinions of Geshuri are being discussed, I agree that (absent a picture of the actual subject) for such a short piece, it makes sense to keep them together at the top. My quibble is now down to (still) why they're not in the order mentioned in the article (Kawasaki, Devouard, Wiegand). DMacks (talk) 23:20, 24 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I didn't include a picture of Geshuri because we ran one here last week. I wanted to do a gallery at the top horizontally instead of a vertical stack, but I couldn't figure out how to do it in a way that was compatible with our style templates on short notice. I alphabetized the pictures because I didn't want to accidentally give an impression we thought one person's remarks was more important than the other. In a longer story I would have placed the pictures near the relevant text. Not saying any of these decisions are the right way to go, that was just my thinking at the time. Gamaliel (talk) 01:24, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

User:Sänger was nice enough to translate Alice Wiegand's statement into English. Reading between the lines it sounds like they aren't planning to remove Geshuri, just to release a statement that I suppose they think will placate people. At least Weigand acknowledges that the Board is bad at communicating, but the way it's phrased comes off to me like she thinks the main problem is just that, poor communication, and if the Board could explain itself better everything would be hunky-dory. Obviously I can't say whether there are any nuances lost in translation. -- (talk) 00:15, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Go Phightins!, this Signpost is also read quite a bit outside English Wikipedia. When talking about admin appointments and bureaucrat promotions, you talk about 'Wikipedia'. Could you possibly try to speak about 'English Wikipedia' in such cases? I know to you those are the same, but maybe not to your full readership. Thanks. effeietsanders 00:21, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Agreed, we need to get into that habit. We often say just 'Wikipedia' out of habit because we are on the English Wikipedia, but we should remember that we have a global audience, and it's great to know that we have one. Gamaliel (talk) 01:24, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Quite strange. It does not quote what Jimbo said and the fact some of them did not know the litigation before the decision. --Cheol (talk) 00:39, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Perhaps User:Sänger missed it, but the best quality of the Alice Wiegand's statement resides in its very writing. The story is about the sorcerer of the old tales that puts a Zauber upon the unfortunate Board, saying Schweige still and changing them into frozen statues. And what happens when one of them finally escapes die Fluch and starts to awake ? We get poetry (Flöte und Violine in der Ferne). If you flatten out the whole story, it only remains some empty sentences. Nothing near from a statement that should have started by "I am one of the ten Trustees who unanimously elected Arnnon Geshuri".
By the way, when former Trustee Florence Devouard (User:Anthere) says "Either the board is completely paralyzed and no more able to make any decision [...] or the board has decided not to provide any feedback, which I consider completely [...] unhealthy", I don't understand how this could turn into a vote against Arnnon Geshuri. To my best knowledge, he didn't vote for himself. Pldx1 (talk) 09:39, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]

This is not the only thing I said. Please read my complete statement for a better understanding of my argument (SignPost only published an extract). Thanks Anthere (talk)
Dear User:Anthere. My personnal opinion about the whole case is that "The Board is incompetent in matter of relationship with the so-called community of volunteers. As this alleged competence was the reason for taking aBoard James Heilman, Dariusz Jemielniak and Denny Vrandečić, these three Trustees have to be fired out (one is already ousted, the other two should follow)". Do you agree with that, or no ? Concerning my quotation of your message to the "wikimedia-l", I reassert that, in my opinion, this is the core of your message. But, maybe, could you (1) clarify "Secundly, Kat completely nailed it with regards to integrity being one of our core values." : the link seems broken and the nail is not clear. (2) acknowledge the reply given by Dariusz Jemielniak to your "I was astonished when I discovered that Dariusz, who has been a board member for over 6 months, was not aware of the existence of the Conflict of Interest Policy". Pldx1 (talk) 11:47, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
In your message, the final point is part of the html link and leads to a 404. But just above, the point got removed and the link is functional again. Pldx1 (talk) 11:54, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
I was happy to be reassured by Dariusz clarification (I mentioned that on the list after he did). And no, the core of my message also includes Kat nail. I just did not feel it was necessary to repeat what she said in my own words since she said it very well. Anthere (talk)
I didn't miss it in the original, as I'm a native speaker in German, but probably didn't succeed in translating it properly in a foreign language. As I said, it was just quick'n'dirty, plain prose without subleties. And one of the main reasons Lyzzy wrote it in German was, as she stated, that she coudn't write it like she felt in a foreign language. Translation, especially of well written texts, so not the usual stuff around here, is not that easy. I know it, as my brother earns his living from translating novels from English to German (and he's good at it, unlike me). --Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 10:35, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Abgekürzt und übersetzbar:
(Das Mädchen) Prinzessin, sagen Sie mir mehr.
(Die Prinzessin) Wir sind von dem Drachen "Halt die Klappe" verzaubern.
(Die Flöte, in der Ferne. Musik scheint zu verspotten)
Pldx1 (talk) 11:05, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
You should know that 'Wir sind von dem Drachen "Halt die Klappe" verzaubern.' is not a plausible German sentence, whatever misguided beliefs to the contrary Google Translate may have instilled in you. Andreas JN466 14:10, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
This is a wiki. If you know better, don't hesitate. Pldx1 (talk) 15:40, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
This has nothing to do with the article, but can you provide the original for this illegible nonsense in pseudo german? Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 16:05, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Abbreviated and translatable:
(The little girl) Princess, tell me more.
(The Princess) We are bewitched by the dragon "Shut up".
(The flute, playing in background. Music seems deriding)
Pldx1 (talk) 16:30, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Verkürzt und übersetzbar:
(Das kleine Mädchen) Prinzessin, erzähle mir mehr.
(Die Prinzessin) Wir sind verzaubert vom Drachen "Halt die Klappe".
(Die Flöte spielt im Hintergrund. Die Musik scheint zu verhöhnen.)
I still don't know what's this is about, but that's perhaps a wee bit better. Grüße vom Sänger ♫ (talk) 16:45, 25 January 2016 (UTC)[reply]


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