Thank you Milos for pointing here what seems to me the most fundamental
flaw of our current organisation.

The WMF as organisation was created to bring stability and assure that
the daily business is done: keep the platform online, deal with legal
cases and keep a positive financial balance. This is not the same as
leading "in a political manner" the movement. But the WMF tends
meanwhile to do both.

The political history show us that this is not going to work well that
way because both duties are in essence pretty different and have
internal contradictions. As a consequence, the WMF focuses (with
success) on what it was made for: administrative work and is not is
position to do the other part correctly.

As a consequence we indeed face a serious lack of democracy in the way
we are organized and this weak "quality loopback" leads us, as movement,
to regular awkward situations. This is an instability factor.

Back in 2006, I heard for the first time the idea of a democratic
assembly "Wikimedia international" and was sceptical about it. Seeing
how things have evolved, an approach including two organisations, one
political to lead the movement and one administrative to keep core
things running & stability, looks really appealing.


On 09.01.2016 20:37, Milos Rancic wrote:
> Forking the issue of Board composition.
> We tend to think of Board as the governing body of the movement, not just
> WMF. Board members tend to think of themselves as the governing body of
> WMF, with shiny cool movement supporting it.
> We tend to discuss of community representation, they tend to assimilate
> anyone who joins them. While "trust and honesty" are noble words, they tend
> to be the words of excuse, covering forced imposition of the dominant
> position over everybody inside of the group.
> The Board composed as it is now has no capacity to overcome this problem. I
> am not talking about particular persons inside of the Board, but about the
> culture of assimilation, which usually ends in assimilation, but, as we
> could see now, it could end in removal of a Board member.
> I see two options to overcome this problem and both of them require wide
> consensus, including the present Board.
> One option is to restructure the Board itself, the other one is to create
> new cover organization, with WMF as one of its institutions.
> It's obvious to me that Wikimedia is not an ordinary organization or even
> an ordinary movement. The importance of Wikimedia movement is on the level
> of smaller country. Our needs are on the level of a city-sized society. And
> our governance should be so.
> At the moment, we have a kind of a mix which works because of that culture
> of assimilation and because WMF makes enough money. Destroying any of those
> corruptive powers would destroy WMF itself. So, if we want to change
> something, we have to reorganize the structure, not to fix it.
> What every organized social group? Yes, assembly (or whatever the name is
> inside of the particular structure). If it's about business, it's the
> assembly of shareholders. If it's about democratic institutions, it's about
> the assembly which represents all members of the society.
> WMF Board is quasi-assembly, quasi-government. It will always has partial
> excuse that it's about community-elected members, but also that it needs
> "an expertise" as a governing body. It's no surprise that the turnover on
> the best elections (the last one) was around 10%. Not a lot of Wikimedians
> think they are able to change anything and they are right.
> I suggested few times that we should create assembly as a real democratic
> institution. Such assembly could then appoint the Board as a governing body
> or leave to ED and staff to be executive body of the movement.
> The other option is to create assembly outside of WMF and make the relation
> between them later.
> As long as we don't talk about this issue, we will have the same stories
> again and again. The set of mistakes Board could make is not finite. And
> whenever something odd or harmful happens, we will be talking the same
> stories.
> By moving it into openly political discourse, we will avoid secrecy and
> Wikimedians will be able to influence decisions, outside of closed groups
> and personal connections.
> (At the end, I am wondering why I am repeating this, as nobody responded to
> this idea previous few times. Not even with "this is bad idea because
> of...".)
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: "Todd Allen" <>
> Date: Jan 9, 2016 19:34
> Subject: Re: [Wikimedia-l] WMF trustee Arnnon Geshuri and part in
> anticompetitive agreements in Google
> To: "Wikimedia Mailing List" <>
> Cc:
>> There is still a significant problem the Board does have, though.
>> "Chapter/thorg selected seats" are not community seats. And we've recently
>> found out that none of the seats at all are actually considered to be
>> community-selected, and that a community elected board member can be
>> removed without referendum to the community.
>> A majority, at least six seats, on the Board, should be directly elected
> by
>> the Wikimedia community. (Not "chapters", the entire community). And
>> "directly elected" should mean that the member cannot be removed
>> involuntarily except by vote of that same electorate, whether by
> referendum
>> or the community's own initiative.
>> On Sat, Jan 9, 2016 at 11:29 AM, Risker <> wrote:
>>> On 9 January 2016 at 10:09, Fæ <> wrote:
>>>> <snip>
>>>>   We are well overdue for a major turnover of board members.
>>>> Fae
>>>> --
>>> While I have largely kept out of this thread to this time, this
> statement
>>> needs to be rebutted.  There are ten seats on the board.  Five of them -
>>> all three "community-selected" seats and two of the four board-appointed
>>> seats - have changed hands in the last six months.  An additional
>>> board-selected seat changed hands not long before Wikimania last year
> (Guy
>>> Kawasaki).  That means six of the 10 board members have less than a
> year's
>>> experience in the role.  (One of those has now been removed, but that
> still
>>> means half the board has very limited experience.)
>>> Of the remaining seats, two are "Chapter/Thorg-selected" seats that
> will be
>>> contested in the near future. Historically, only one of the incumbents
> of
>>> those seats have been reseated, and I make no predictions for this year.
>>> Jimmy Wales is assumed to still hold the Founder seat, and the fourth
>>> board-appointed seat is held by longtime community member Alice Weigand.
>>> We do not know how the board will decide to fill the recently vacated
>>> "community-selected" seat - the options appear to be narrowed to
> appointing
>>> the fourth-place candidate from the last election (which would bring an
>>> experienced board member back to the table) or an election, which could
>>> also bring a completely new trustee.
>>> At minimum, we already have five board members who weren't board members
>>> this time last year.  By the end of their Wikimania board meeting, we
> could
>>> have as many as eight trustees with less than 18 months of experience
> under
>>> their belt.  Of all the problems the board has, insufficient turnover is
>>> NOT one of them.
>>> Risker
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