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Wikimedia Foundation revenue; Lila Tretikov's first full fiscal year is highlighted in red.
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  • This is a very thoughtful piece, Pete, and I really hope that the current Board of Trustees will engage seriously with your recommendations. I agree that some (but not all) of them should consider resigning to facilitate moving on. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 07:24, 20 March 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Wikipedia at 15 is not in such bad shape, and tech support has recently been very promising. So let's not allow "internalist" issues to cloud that picture. That said, Pete is correct to point out that governance has now come to the fore. One would have to have close knowledge of the actual content of debates to comment in detail; but let's say the issue is tension between "Silicon Valley" and "community" views of where we are heading. So those tensions should be addressed, by the WMF as non-profit. In terms of institutional relationships, a better understanding of what being taken seriously involves should come high on the list. Both Commons and Wikidata matter there (I can speak for Wikidata from my own outreach work) and deserve full support; but further work needs to be done on Wikisource in order to "have a library", which (to me) seems currently to be a limiting factor for attracting both the science and humanities wings of academia. My point here is that the educational/metadata function of WMF projects has not yet been seen clearly: we are not media in a naive sense, and I include in that caveat the handling of explicitly educational material. I'd be looking in new leadership for folk who get the distinctive merits of what we do and how we do it; and can give a reasoned explanations of both WP:VOTE in the broad context, and the difference between reference and instructional material. Charles Matthews (talk) 09:18, 20 March 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • A particular requirement for the leader of the WMF is working with an exceptionally high percentage of volunteers. Many charities use some volunteers to staff shops, etc, but not many, perhaps, work with such a large corps of experienced volunteers, who contribute such a large percentage of the essential effort needed to keep the show on the road. Pete is absolutely right to emphasize the diversity of the stakeholders, and given the importance of volunteering, the unusually low importance of money in the WMF's case. It might be worth taking a look at the way stakeholders are analysed in systems engineering/requirements engineering, where multiple roles and implicit conflicts are the order of the day. A new ED, briefed in advance about the rare combination of job requirements, might be able to benefit from the outgoing ED's experience. Chiswick Chap (talk) 12:00, 20 March 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • Thanks all for sharing your thoughts. Cullen, without knowing the internal dynamics of the board, it's tough to know who's responsible for what; but there are so many clues. Of course the whole board shouldn't resign; two of the current trustees were not even on the board from August to January, and one of them voted against Doc James' removal, so I can't see a reason for any of them to consider leaving. It also seems very extreme for the rest to all leave; but I hope they are having some serious internal discussion of who played what role in the various big and costly mistakes. We should keep in mind that neither of the chapters-appointed trustees has sought reappointment, so presumably they will be departing in August -- and that includes the chair. Charles Matthews, I agree that this has not damaged Wikipedia itself, and that the site continues on a good track in spite of the problems. I would characterize the issues mainly as lost opportunity; an organization that is not distracted by secret/fancy visions for the future, or by abysmal internal politics, would be a better partner for the community, and better positioned to help address issues like systemic bias, obstacles to participation, etc. I do think that if the kinds of problems we have seen recently continue, that sooner or later, we will see an existential threat to Wikipedia, from the organization that is supposed to sustain it -- which is a big deal. But I don't think we're there yet, and there is much reason to believe things can turn around. The qualities you name are insightful. Chiswick Chap, yes, the major reliance on volunteers is an important factor -- and it's always worth remembering, this is an odd kind of "volunteering." With other organizations, one typically volunteers for the organization, and takes some direction from staff; but with Wikipedia, most volunteers simply use the platform, more or less at their own discretion, to work toward the mission as they understand it. I'm not sure how much value there would be in debriefing the outgoing ED's experience -- it probably couldn't hurt, but there are also a great many other people who might have stronger, better-informed insights into what worked and what didn't about her approach. -Pete (talk) 19:45, 21 March 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


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