Again, this email is not speaking officially for the committee, see my
earlier messages for more "official" thoughts. This is a long-winded
personal opinion.

As James said, "exceptions" is a technical term and not really the best way
to think of these groups. Which is why it is not one that we use on the
election pages.

There are groups within the Wikimedia community entrusted to participate in
elections. I get very uncomfortable implying that one group is "lesser
than" another group in regards to that role in the community. Although for
technical and realistic reasons, there are groups not able to vote (such as
readers). Does that not make them members of our community? I do not think
so, but there are practical reasons that is not possible (needing an
account we can track as an example). Perhaps one day we just open it to the
world, but that has not been the community consensus thus far as the
committee sees it.

If there were a group tasked with much more time to address these bigger
questions, it seems very likely to me that the voter base could be
expanded. The temporary committees that in theory could do so are given
such a massive existing workload that taking on these bigger picture issues
is simply not practical. Until that happens, many of these conversations
will remain in a loop as there is no one tasked with addressing them who
has the WMF resources and mandate to do so with any authority.

The current restrictions are often practical or technical more than they
are philosophical. The "how" becomes a bigger issue than the "if" and as
has been said, that is a problem we should address. The groups that are
able to vote now are largely the easiest for us to universally define and
verify with our existing resources. People outside of our community may
argue that not allowing donors to vote is unusual. I feel dangerously close
to a "if you prick a reader - do they not bleed?" statement - but I hope
you get my point that there are a lot of very good and reasonable questions
which an empowered group should address after giving it the necessary
discussion and research time. If anyone is hoping that will be the
committees created for each individual election, and as someone who went in
thinking that might be possible, let me assure you speaking now from some
experience, that is not going to happen. I will write more later on why
that is, but I think many (myself included at one time) do not realize all
the work involved with the committee - and how mildly insane the timeline
is. In my mind, that is the conversation that should happen before any
other big picture questions can realistically move from discussion stage to
actionable stage.

All of this said, I do think there are some good and necessary changes are
being made this year. There are open nominations in addition to the
self-nominations, and that has so far been a positive thing. We lowered the
age requirement for the FDC to match the board age requirements. Given a
tight timeline, we are taking many steps to make translations easier and
get as many of them as possible. Several improvements to the actual voting
process are being made (no more going to your home wiki to vote and no more
copying and pasting of links). We both expanded the committee and delegated
some specific tasks (such as mine) to help with committee process and
workload management. I do not want to leave you with the impression that
the individual elections committees are helpless to make any changes, that
is not true. I think each committee has taken on big changes and chipped
away at some big picture issues (the 2013 committee resulted in the on-wiki
proposal for a standing elections committee). However, there are some
limitations to how much we can each do in any given cycle. Perhaps based on
this conversation, and what comes of it, the next committee could simply
implement the changes to affiliate voter group as the research might be
done and questions answered by then. However, it is also possible they will
instead also just come to another set of questions that need to be answered
and other challenges that must be addressed first. My personal opinion is
that a more ongoing approach to these issues (such as a standing committee)
is a more logical and "wiki like" solution to addressing very reasonable
questions like these that come up from time to time.

-greg (User:Varnent)

On Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 5:06 AM, James Alexander <>

> On Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 1:03 AM, rupert THURNER <>
> wrote:
> > Hi James, is there any good reason to keep the exception? Imo it is a
> wrong
> > signal we send out. At the end of the day all good governance rules
> suggest
> > to minimize administrative tasks. And by definition everything which a
> > "client " does not see,  I.e
> > Content or software, is administrative.
> >
> > Rupert
> [ended up being long, sorry :( ]
> Are you speaking about the staff rule only or all of them? I had one of the
> committee members call me out for calling it an 'exception' before and
> their argument made sense to me, so I'm currently trying to think of them
> all as they recommended as different ways to be enfranchised. That may
> sound a bit like word play but... the more I've thought about it the more I
> agreed the exception word sounded wrong.
> Speaking just for myself I would say yes to generally all of the different
> rules (though I would, personally, lower the edit requirements). This
> because I do not think the "community" is one group and until and unless we
> parcel out seats to different groups (which I'm not actually sure we should
> do, I'd prefer them all to be more general 'community' seats). As part of
> that I don't think we should be strict with what we consider the community
> because I think, in a very real sense, each of the "how to vote" options
> represent a way to ensure the community and the stakeholders can be
> involved. I think that having the other options actually sends a better
> message then not having them.
> *Editing: *Obviously editors are the biggest group here, and the vast
> majority of staff who would be so inclined to vote will fall here too (I
> qualify on both my volunteer account and my staff account for example,
> though given my election role I don't vote at all). That's how it should
> be, and I honestly don't see that changing. It's also why I probably
> wouldn't "fight" too hard if the other options were remove simply
> *Staff: *I have always thought that the Staff need to be considered part of
> the community. While they have different roles at times (and at times share
> roles with volunteers) the Us v Them mentality that can become part of the
> thinking for both groups is poisonous to the projects as a whole. In order
> for it to succeed everyone needs to be seen as on the same side. There are
> never going to be many people who would qualify as Staff but don't qualify
> as Editors (at least with their staff account and we've never drawn a
> distinction for voting historically) and still want to vote but I think
> encouraging them to think of themselves as part of the community (and to
> send the message that they are) is important. [I also think it's good to
> involve staff in governance wherever possible, though not exclusively
> obviously, they need to feel part of it. Similar reasons why a corporation
> often gives out stock to their employees which allows them to own part of
> the company and to, indeed, vote for the Board of Directors.]
> *Developers*: Again we've historically had very few people who met this
> requirement, wanted to vote, and didn't qualify through some other means
> (usually editing) but MediaWiki is not just the software we run it's also,
> essentially, a full fledged project that an enormous amount of 3rd parties
> use. I would love to find good ways to encourage the community of 3rd party
> developers to take part in this governance.
> *Current/Old Board/FDC/Advisory Board: *I see this mostly as not booting
> those who have been in the trenches and know what the work actually
> entails.
> I could certainly see other groups, including affiliates, who might make
> sense to be in this list (though with the current structure I have some
> concerns of double enfranchisement even if I personally wouldn't choose the
> current structure) but I don't currently see great reasons to get rid of
> the options we have other then just 'simplicity'. That isn't a horrible
> reason of course, I'm just not sure it's necessary.
> (obviously not speaking for the committee or with my staff hat on though
> obviously, as Greg said, those roles influence me.. though most of it
> hasn't changed since long before I was staff)
> James Alexander
> Community Advocacy
> Wikimedia Foundation
> (415) 839-6885 x6716 @jamesofur
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