I was considering whether to comment again on this thread, but with
this message I do not have to; I think it lays everything out
sensitively and thoughtfully, and I agree with everything in it.


On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 11:39 PM, Michael Snow <wikipe...@frontier.com> wrote:
> Hello Arnnon,
> It is good to hear something directly from you. I am sure your intentions in
> the position you were appointed to are positive and supportive. Yet while
> you may be entirely sincere in your desire to help, I find it extremely
> difficult to see a path forward in which your contribution will bring the
> benefits that may have been contemplated.
> Your statement here carries very much the right tone, but is unfortunately
> rather lacking in substance. About the events in your career that have been
> the focus of so much concern, you suggest that there have been
> misconceptions and mitigating considerations, but say nothing about what
> those misconceptions or mitigating considerations might be. I fully
> understand that for both legal and ethical reasons, you may not feel free to
> elaborate, and I do not ask that you violate any such obligations. However,
> the inability to provide more information is itself a major handicap for the
> role you are in. In fact, a requirement of silence becomes doubly
> destructive because it both provides more fuel for conspiracy theories and
> denies the Wikimedia Foundation the tools to respond effectively.
> I suspect that many of the possible mitigating factors have already been
> touched on by others - from the limited picture we have of the recruiting
> practices in question, it is not completely clear what level of
> responsibility should be assigned to you, whether you could reasonably have
> done otherwise in your position, or to what extent you should have
> understood their legal implications. Nor do I believe that one mistake (you
> do not say it was a mistake, and presumably again you are not in a position
> to admit that, whether or not you might wish to) should necessarily
> disqualify anybody from the Board. However, as Asaf so eloquently explained
> on this list a couple weeks ago - which I hope you saw, if you've been
> following the conversation as you say - it's nearly impossible to get people
> to leave things fully in the past without an acknowledgment of the mistake.
> I understand you want to earn the trust of the community. But if you cannot
> do what is needed for this trust to develop, then you simply will never be
> able to earn it from many people. This is another way in which silence
> becomes disabling. You might manage for people to move on enough that you
> can function in your role, but the issue will continue to hang over
> everything you do.
> The Board has indicated that you were appointed for your expertise in human
> resources. I agree that your career includes some impressive experience and
> you would be a highly qualified candidate in that sense. I can also
> appreciate why the Board might have felt a need for your kind of expertise.
> While the Foundation was at a somewhat different point during my tenure, it
> has faced a variety of challenges in this area, and these types of issues
> were prominent in my thinking about the organization, both as Chair and
> afterward. But under the circumstances, I struggle to see how your
> appointment would lead to a net benefit for the Foundation. Your skills and
> contacts might bring something that is lacking, but the problematic pieces
> of your background also reflect directly on the same area. Considerations
> such as staff morale have fluctuated over time, but I cannot imagine how
> having someone associated with these practices on the Board would be
> anything but a negative influence on it. Whether they would acknowledge it
> to you, the rest of the Board, their managers, or anyone at all really, I
> think this is an extremely serious problem. It seems like it would take an
> incredible amount of good work from you to overcome the damage your mere
> presence on the Board is likely to cause.
> I do hope you can translate your passion for this movement into some sort of
> positive contribution. Assuming you cannot speak directly to your personal
> history in a way that will satisfy people, I hope you will at least try to
> explain more clearly what you anticipate bringing to the table. In the
> context of this particular appointment, however, it is a heavy weight you
> would need to counterbalance, and there may be other and better ways of
> approaching this.
> --Michael Snow
> On 1/26/2016 11:07 AM, Arnnon Geshuri wrote:
>> It has been almost three weeks since my appointment to the Wikimedia
>> Foundation Board and I have read the feedback and comments from
>> representative members of the community.  My first reaction was how
>> amazing
>> the community is in its vibrant culture – there is direct and honest
>> dialog, celebration of diverse ideas, debate and counterpoints, and an
>> overall genuine passion to ensure that the WMF sustains itself for another
>> fifteen years and beyond.   Witnessing firsthand the commitment and energy
>> of the community is truly inspirational.  Although I would have preferred
>> the tone surrounding my appointment to be more positive and supportive, I
>> deeply understand and respect the criticality of free expression, rallying
>> around convictions, and open disagreement.
>> Regarding the concerns that have been raised, I have listened closely.
>> That said, in my opinion, there are some misconceptions and there are
>> mitigating considerations.  As a general matter, I will say that,
>> throughout my career, I have been charged with enforcing company policies
>> as part of my role as a people manager. I have tried to do so thoughtfully
>> and consistently.  I have done so realizing company policies and practices
>> evolve over time as circumstances change.
>> As part of the current narrative, members of the community generated a
>> running theme within the online conversations related to trust.  Comments
>> were expressed questioning their trust in the Wikimedia Foundation Board
>> and asking if the community could accept me as a new Board Member.
>> Wanting
>> to understand the challenges ahead, I have spent the last few weeks
>> speaking with current and former Board members and reaching out to folks
>> in
>> the community.  I have more conversations in the coming days and
>> appreciate
>> those who have been generous with their time.  Given the story line that
>> has been shaped over the last couple weeks and based on the feedback from
>> my conversations, I know I have a longer journey than most new Board
>> members to prove to the community and WMF alumni that they can put their
>> trust in me.  I joined to make a positive difference and be a part of the
>> important effort to grow the WMF for the next generation of editors,
>> contributors, and users.
>> As the community gets to know me, folks will see the way I work is with
>> thoughtfulness, transparency, diversity, and a focus on doing what is
>> right.  I have key experiences in both my professional and non-profit
>> careers which lend a distinctive perspective to the honorable work of a
>> Trustee – especially the learnings gained over the last decade.  I
>> passionately believe in the core values of the WMF and trust that the
>> community and even the most energetic community members come from a place
>> of good intent.  And as we all become closer and transition to debating
>> the
>> issues and not the people, the community will see I consistently speak
>> from
>> the heart, I am passionately committed to the movement with the best
>> intent, and I am working hard to earn your trust.
>> Regards,
>> Arnnon
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