"As a current WMF staff member, and having received a formal scolding two weeks
ago for expressing my professional and personal opinions on this list--that
a hierarchical corporate structure is completely inappropriate and
ineffectual for running the Foundation--I don't feel safe editorializing
about what  membership could mean for the future of the Wikimedia
movement.  But I would be thrilled to see this discussion take place, and
to contribute however I am able."

I find this paragraph deeply disturbing.  Historically, members of the
Wikimedia movement, including those who work directly for WMF, have been
completely free to vehemently advocate their opinions about both how the
work of the Wikimedia movement should be done, and about whether or not a
particular line of behavior fell within our against our movement's values -
including on public lists.  Although it was on internal-l, I even remember
a thread where a seniorish person in HR announced that they had just gotten
a certification in something (I can't honestly recall what,) and it started
a thread where multiple staff members started posted peer reviewed papers
(and metareviews, etc,) published in highend journals that brought the
value of what the HR person had gotten in to severe question - it basically
made it look like at most it had absolutely no effect - and multiple staff
members asked about whether or not the certification had been paid for by
WMF, and if it had, asked the HR person to reimburse the cost of the cert
because since there was solid evidence it was useless, it was a waste of
donor money.

In all of the recent brouhaha, at least some WMF staffers have come forward
with their opinions, and many more have made their opinions obvious.
Historically, that's been a fine thing, and a lot of positive change has
come about as a result of it.  That's one of the things I loved about
coming in to WMF as an intern and later as a contractor - I was encouraged
to publicly question things if I thought they were flawed or I could
improve process - and I did. Even though it wasn't at all my department, I
remember within my first week as a communication intern noticing a severe
flaw in the calculation of the metrics Zack Exley, a C level in a different
department, was using.  When I asked my boss what to do, her answer was
pretty much "... if you're sure they're his metrics just email him.  If you
aren't sure whose they are, email internal asking.  If you noticed an issue
somewhere else, you should still absolutely get it fixed."  I dropped Zack
an email (who is now one of Bernie's senior advisors,) and he promptly
gratefully fixed the problem though, iirc, it made his stats sad.  While at
WMF, I expressed strong opinions on both internal and foundation-l, was
encouraged to do so regarding most things, and was joined in doing so by a
lot of actual staffers.

I brought up a number of other relatively serious questions about practices
and values while actively at WMF, including in public forums, and a lot of
staffers did, too.  I saw way more good things happen from staffers feeling
free to openly speak out than bad things.  It's disturbing to me that
there's been a cultural shift towards a hierarchical structure that
discourages open and blunt dialogue even on public lists - and it's a
cultural shift that hasn't been talked about much outside of WMF directly.
It's also iffy from a practical standpoint.  I hate to call out a specific
person, but *Tim Starling* has expressed extremely strong feelings about
recent events in public on this list.  You can't really fire Tim, or a
number of other staffers who have spoken out publicly, because they are
Wikimedia.  If the culture inside WMF stays this way and people like Tim,
WMF's longest standing employee get disciplined if they speak out
publicly... The Wikimedia movement and the Wikimedia Foundation are going
to rapidly diverge.

All of the content that WMF relies on to raise money is freely licensed,
built by volunteers, and although difficult technically, is forkable.  The
social capital that allows WMF to raise $70m+ a year belongs far more to
the movement than to the Foundation, and if they do start to diverge
further, that's going to put WMF in a tough situation.  I know one of the
risks in the strat document this year is decreased revenue from
fundraising... part of me is seriously starting to wonder if that's a risk
pretty much created by WMF's recent behavor.

----
Kevin Gorman

On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 11:14 PM, Pine W <wiki.p...@gmail.com> wrote:

> It would be interesting to know if the people who participated in that
> decision actually had the legal authority to make it. They might have, but
> this would be worth further inquiry.
>
> Pine
>
> On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 11:03 PM, SarahSV <sarahsv.w...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 11:39 AM, Adam Wight <adam.m.wi...@gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Dear friends,
> > >
> > > Recent events have made me curious to learn more about the Wikimedia
> > > Foundation's origins and history as a membership organization.  The
> > > revelations about the Wikimedia Foundation Board elections being a
> > > recommendation for appointment rather than a direct vote seem to have
> > been
> > > a surprise to many of us, and almost ten years after membership was
> > > eliminated, we see strongly suggestive "directly elected" language
> still
> > > being fixed on the Foundation's own Board elections page.[1]
> > >
> > > ​Adam, thank you for starting this discussion. Eric Moeller announced
> to
> > the list in December 2006 that the bylaws had been changed and that we
> were
> > no longer members, or as he said "​
> > ​[​
> > m
> > ​]​
> > embership was previously described in the bylaws but not actually
> > implemented."
> > ​ [1]
> >
> > Sarah
> >
> > 1.
> >
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2006-December/072001.html
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
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