Disclosure: the author Nosebagbear has actively engaged on the discussion page of the proposed bylaw changes.
On the 7th October, the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation published a number of proposed bylaw changes for community discussion. The theoretical deadline for discussion was the 26th October, prior to this edition being published, however as of time of writing, the consultation period had not formally been concluded. Any editors wishing to participate are advised to do so rapidly in lieu of a new updated timeline being provided (as requested by a number of participants). The Board Governance Committee (BGC) were scheduled to meet on the 27th October.
Some proposals have been formally clarified in the discussion page, others have clarifications offered by Board trustees, but not speaking on behalf of the whole Board. Where relevant, the latter category shall be noted.
|Number||At least 9, at most 10 (depending on Founder's seat being filled):
||At least 9, at most 16 (Target of 15/16, but a much lower minimum quorum):
|Terms, Term Limits, and Resignation from Other Positions||Outlined and repeated separately for each of the trustee selection methods||Outlined in just one place for all trustees (with no substantive changes)|
|Staff Officers||Executive Director, Secretary, and Treasurer||CEO, Secretary, and Treasurer, with more detailed descriptions of the officers’ current roles|
Summary of Bylaw proposals provided by WMF, with minor additional clarifications on trustee numbers added
The most immediate change would be a 60% increase in the (target) Board size, at 16. This would reduce to 15 in the event of vacancy of the Founder's seat. This slightly increases the appointed proportion (43.75% compared to the current 40%). The Board Expansion resolution and governance recommendations indicate this was heavily due to a workload overwhelming a limited number of trustees, including a need to sit on multiple committees. There was also a desire to be able to add "additional experience, skills and diversity on the Board".
One of the two most-discussed proposals, the bylaw changes would remove the requirement for a majority of the Board (excluding the Founder seat) to be community/affiliate-selected. While the breakdown given in the overview would remain the norm/target, this is designed to provide more flexibility in the event of loss of Community representatives (for example, due to resignations). However, upon issues being raised that the bylaws could permit a format of 1 Community trustee, 1 Founder trustee, and 7 appointed trustees, Amanda Keton (WMF General Counsel) agreed that was "a bug" and would raise the issue with the BGC.
The current "community-selected" and "affiliate-selected" seats will be merged into a single category. Jimmy Wales' Founder trustee seat will be retained at this point. In discussion about a potential change to a non-voting seat, Jimmy Wales stated that
In the long run, as is well known, I think of my position in terms of desiring that my role be limited to "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn". That's consistent with a permanent non-voting observer seat.
Currently the most discussed proposal, the bylaws would be amended from "Community-selected" – the Board approving candidates selected by votes of the Community (subject to their meeting legal requirements) – to "Community-sourced". The WMF had indicated that they specifically wanted the bylaws confirmed before expanding the discussion into defining exactly what "Community-sourced" would mean. Concerns have been raised in relation to the potential for the Board to make choices other than the top-x number of candidates by votes. Individual trustees have stated that community voting will definitely remain part of the process.
The Board has also proposed a Board candidate rubric for evaluating potential trustees. It is unclear whether this would be candidates for all positions or purely appointed members, and if it were applied to elected positions, would it be a guideline for voters or a filter applied by the Board. The rubric includes 4 experience sections: Wikimedia experience, board experience, executive experience, and subject matter experience; and 4 diversity sections: background, geography, language, and political system experience.
The appreciable, primarily administrative changes are that the position of "Executive Director" becomes "Chief Executive Officer" and the current functional process is formalised, where the CEO attends all Board meetings except where there would be a conflict of interest (for example, performance or pay). Board member Raystorm has noted concerns on phrasing that may lead to confusion about
circumstances under which the Board would ever be able to meet without the CEO present, which will be taken to the BGC. – N
When US President Donald Trump tweeted that he and the First Lady had positive tests for COVID-19 at 12:54 am (ET) (04:54 UTC) on Friday October 2, it was immediately big news in the US and internationally. The big US cable networks were all over the story. Despite the late hour of the report, at least two dozen US newspapers had the story on their front pages. The New York Times, which missed getting the story in its morning print edition, had seven on-line stories four hours after Trump's tweet. As the intersection of the two most widely covered news stories of the year, COVID-19 and the US Presidential election, the story was clearly newsworthy.
Nevertheless, the story was nowhere to be seen on the English Wikipedia's main page, though many readers might have expected it to be at the top right hand corner of the page as part of the In the News feature. Instead, over the next three days, in its three main slots ITN reported on the September 30 death of the 91 year-old Emir of Kuwait, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Stanley Cup finals, which ended on September 28, and on October 4, the London Marathon.
In The News does not, however, list stories based on the traditional concept of newsworthiness, which centers around what the editors believe the publication's readers would be interested in reading. Rather, the decision depends on what's called "ITN-worthy." But what is "ITN-worthiness"? A long and heated discussion about including the Trump COVID-19 story helps illustrate the answer. The question is not new, having been discussed previously in The Signpost and twice at the Village pump.
The official criteria for listing an article on ITN are two-fold:
A discussion at WT:ITN followed, focusing on the ITN procedure itself, especially the administrator closure of an item of intense interest to Americans and other parts of the world, after comments were allowed for just 83 minutes. During this time, most Wikipedians from North America were sleeping. The discussion had the following timeline:
, who opened the final discussion, later noted that
We all know that there's an unspoken rule (as much as we try to deny it) that whenever U.S.-based stories are nominated and compared to stories on other countries, we examine international significance as well as national significance for the simple reason of addressing inherent systemic bias that comes with having lots of U.S. editors. As TRM has said many times: "This is not U.S.-pedia". The fact that other countries are breathlessly covering this event, even in spite of comparative events not being posted on ITN, should have been enough to merit something other than an immediate re-closure.
expressed the opinion that
We should retire ITN as a section of the Main Page altogether, except possibly for the RD [recent deaths] portion. We basically are saying to our readers that we know way way way better what's good for them and what's really important. That 8 editors who cast the 'oppose' votes in that discussion count more than all the news coverage in the world and the fact that tomorrow we'll probably discover that the (Donald Trump) Wikipedia article had been viewed by over 500K readers today (or at least I wouldn't be surprised if it were a number in that range). Those readers, they don't know anything about our ITN and ITNR rules, no do they care. But they most definitely know when a story is 'in the news'.
October 2 pageviews for the Donald Trump article turned out to be 434,632, up from an average of 81,000 over the previous two months.
responded to Nsk92 with
WP's not a newspaper, and ITNs not a news ticker, and people coming to WP's front page and ITN expecting to see a snapshot of world headlines are very much in the wrong place. Even considering that DT getting covid is a major story that goes beyond a newspaper (it is appropriate to be documenting in WP), its still a story that has gained undue coverage because it is 1) about the US and 2) right before the election.