The World Economic Forum – best known for its annual meeting of some of the world's top political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland – has invited outgoing Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov to become one of its Young Global Leaders.
The Young Global Leaders programme was set up in 2004 with the US$1 million of prize money received by World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab from the Dan David Foundation. Described in Businessweek as "the most exclusive private social network in the world", the hundreds of Young Global Leaders have included actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Anderson Cooper, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Contacts between the World Economic Forum and the Wikimedia Foundation date back many years. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales was named a Young Global Leader in 2007 (as was his wife since 2012, Kate Garvey, whom he reportedly met in Davos). In 2008, the World Economic Forum named the Wikimedia Foundation a "technology pioneer", enabling it to send a representative to the Davos meeting (Florence Devouard attended in 2008, Sue Gardner in 2009).
Wales participated in various capacities in Davos over the years, including co-chairmanship of a Middle East forum in 2008, and in 2015 was a winner of the $1 million Dan David Prize. Today, he serves on the Young Global Leaders Foundation board, while WMF board member Guy Kawasaki is an "agenda contributor" at the World Economic Forum. Both Wales and Kawasaki are believed to have been among Tretikov's chief defenders in the recent leadership crisis at the Foundation.
Tretikov's nomination for the Young Global Leaders list would have occurred sometime before June 2015, given the World Economic Forum's nomination deadline for the class of 2016. Selection criteria include age (below 40 at the time of nomination) as well as "a recognized record of extraordinary achievement and a proven track record of substantial leadership experience. Typically, this means 5–15 years of outstanding professional work experience and a clear indication of playing a substantial leadership role for the rest of his or her career." The World Economic Forum list of the Young Global Leaders class of 2016, published March 16, still describes Lila Tretikov as "the Moscow-born head of the Wikimedia Foundation, the world's largest source of free knowledge".
Wikipediocracy blog post leads to indefinite user blocks on multiple Wikimedia projects
A recent blog post (removed, here is the updated version) on Wikipedia criticism site Wikipediocracy has sparked indefinite blocks of a volunteer contributor on multiple Wikimedia projects. The blog post drew attention to the fact that WayneRay, indefinitely blocked from participation in the English Wikipedia by the project's Arbitration Committee in 2012, was still a highly active contributor on Wikimedia Commons, with a history of problematic user interactions.
WayneRay provided unusually complete details of his identity on-wiki, creating and defending his own Wikipedia biography (archive), and maintaining a page with biographical information about himself on Commons (archive) that he linked on his Commons user page. A minor poet, publisher, and cultural figure in London, Ontario, he had garnered local media attention after being charged with child pornography offences and receiving a 23-month jail sentence in 2011. He was reported to have both shared and solicited child pornography online, at one point posing as a 14-year-old girl to obtain more photos.
Since publication of the Wikipediocracy blog post, volunteer administrators on Commons as well as English Wikinews, Wikisource, and Wikiquote have indefinitely blocked WayneRay. The Wikimedia Foundation's Manager of Trust & Safety, James Alexander, told the Signpost that his department is aware of the situation, and that he has been in touch with volunteer administrators on Commons.
An obvious question arising here is why an openly self-identifying user with a documented child pornography conviction was permitted to edit other Wikimedia projects, given his 2012 ArbCom block on the English Wikipedia and problematic user interactions in his edit history. It would make sense for ArbCom to forward information about problematic users to the Wikimedia Foundation, and for the Foundation then to review the relevant accounts' global contributions histories, performing WMF Office bans where appropriate. We put this question to James Alexander, who pointed out the difficulty of doing the job with limited resources:
We took over the child protection cases from ArbCom a little over a year ago or so (though parts of that transition started before that and parts lasted after). We did that at the same time as we were starting to look at the larger issue of Trust & Safety and problematic cases which the community was either overstretched, or unable to deal with for one reason or another (not through fault of their own but because of the legal and privacy complications etc.), similar to what we did when we set up the emergency@ system for threats of harm. Knowing that our bandwidth was already stretched to the maximum, one of the things we did at the time was to hire someone with Trust & Safety experience (Kalliope) to help, but unfortunately we still have significant resource constraints on what we can commit to and we still only have 2 people primarily focused on it (myself and Kalli), with the other 5 members of Support & Safety (previously Community Advocacy) committed to helping with investigations when possible.
Of course, as happens when you open up badly needed channels like that, the previously unmet demand grew enormously once people realized we were available to help. The number of global ban requests or other issues to evaluate has subsequently grown as part of this, requiring us to prioritize it somewhat brutally at times. Child protection, of course, is incredibly high on that prioritization. Other than emergency threats of harm or other highly time sensitive crises, it goes to the top of the list as soon as we get a report. However, the resource issue has prevented us from making any more methodical 'proactive' steps to look into potential cases that have not yet been brought to our attention, although this is undoubtedly something we'd love to be able to do.
In the end, as in most things, the community is still usually the first line of defense. We want to help as much as possible and to continue to increase that help as we gain more bandwidth through new resources and efficiencies. They are often best situated, however, to see when something needs to be looked at, to escalate matters when needed to our attention, and sometimes the best overall first responders (such as for most content related issues).
Ray's Wikipedia biography, which for several years contained a reference to the child pornography conviction – at times edit-warred over, then removed by Herostratus in August 2014 – has been nominated for deletion (the article had previously survived a 2006 deletion request). At the time of this writing, there is a clear consensus for deletion.