Dear all,

right now, we know very little about the removal of James. It is hard
for anyone not involved (which is the vast majority of this community)
to come up with any safe conclusions, because there is a lack of
evidence. This opens up the possibility of speculation. I would prefer
the stating of facts instead of speculation, but since that's not
happening, I think speculation might be a way to incentivize more
insiders to come forward with facts, if only to refute the content of

I am going to attempt to do this in a neutral fashion, and I will also
follow another important tradition in the movement, assume good faith. I
do not subscribe to conspiracy theories that allege a secret plan by
Google or intentions of harming Wikipedia on anyone's part.

Here's what I think might have happened:

James, a longstanding community member, is accustomed to how we do
things on Wikipedia -- with transparency, an open discourse, but also
endless discussions on talk pages. Other members of the board have less
of a "Wikipedian" background, and are more accustomed to how things work
in companies: board meetings in secret, focus on being effective at the
cost of transparency, with a frank tone on the inside, and a diplomatic
and collective voice to the outside.
These very different conceptions clash, for instance when it comes to
the plans of a "Wikipedia knowledge engine": some prefer early community
involvement and plead openness, others, perhaps scared of the harsh
criticism of early announced and unfinished products by the community,
wish to wait with giving out more information. James is frustrated and
tries to push other board members towards more transparency, which in
turn makes them wary of him and they mutually develop distrust.
The pivotal part of the story then is the question of WMF leadership,
and the fact that there is a lot of discontent among WMF staff with
senior leadership, as indicated by an employee engagement survey. James,
being used to transparent discussions, pushes for a thorough and open
review, and talks to staff members to gain more information. The other
board members, perhaps somewhat in panic, think he will initiate a
public discussion about replacing senior leadership and (perhaps
inadvertently) will cause a major disruption to the entire foundation,
so they decide to call a halt before it's too late and remove him from
the board.

This is what, given the information publicly available, is in my opinion
at least one likely explanation of what happened. Please take it with a
grain of salt, it /is/ speculation. I intend this to undergo the process
of falsification and encourage anyone involved to call me out on what
they perceive is incorrect.


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