I have too many times read appeals to do something later, because now is
not a good time, or to move discussion to a sub-page, because it's too big
a topic, and so forth.
Invariably the result was that *nothing ever happened*.
Chris Sherlock is absolutely right that the board's performance with
respect to transparency sucks. What is posted in public is invariably
minimalist, incomplete, and weeks or months late.
The WMF board operates less transparently than the boards of many other
organisations – organisations that make far less of a song and dance about
their transparency than the WMF.
The time to address this is now.
Jimmy Wales styles himself as someone constantly pushing for transparency.
But the fact is that he has been on the board far longer than anyone else.
He has had more opportunity to influence its modus operandi than anyone
It is difficult to square his repeated assertions that he is a mighty
advocate for openness and transparency with the fact that after more than a
decade on the board, he has failed to achieve any real transparency in the
manner the board conducts its business.
In a recent reply to a post by Milos here, Jimmy styled himself as a meek
board member who rarely speaks up. I don't think of Jimmy Wales as meek and
feeble – witness his recent statements, repeated about half a dozen times
on-wiki, that he "got" the entire board to release a statement saying that
James Heilman's dismissal had nothing to do with the latter's concerns
about transparency, along with his heated comments about James (which he
continues to defend). His conduct doesn't strike me as meek.
I think it is far more likely that if the board is conducting its business
in a non-transparent manner, and has done for as long as it has existed,
then that is because Jimmy Wales, more than anyone else, likes it that way.
Jimmy Wales' words and actions on the topic of transparency don't match.
For example, on the Transparency Gap page on Meta WMF staffer Adam Wight
recently said much the same as what Chris Sherlock has been saying here:
that the board does not publish detailed minutes.
When Adam suggested that portions of board meetings could be videotaped,
the first to agree ("A fine idea") was Sam Klein, a former
community-selected trustee who recalled this being done at another
foundation he was part of. The first to shoot the idea down was Jimmy Wales
("A poor idea"). Whether or not videotaping board sessions is a good
idea or not, it seems clear that doing so is more transparent than not
There is a problem with board transparency, and there has been for many
years. If it's not addressed now, it will never be addressed.
On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 7:51 AM, Erik Moeller <eloque...@gmail.com> wrote:
> It's good to read you here and on WW. I think you're raising
> legitimate points that others have also sought progress on. I would
> just suggest one thing. Right now the Wikimedia Foundation is going
> through an ED transition, impacting nearly 300 staff members most
> immediately. The Board's primary responsibility at this point is to
> identify interim leadership, set that person up for success, and renew
> the Board's bridge to the staff. Painful as the situation with James
> Heilman is, it is legitimate to address it later, in a professional
> and civil manner.
> I would encourage James, Jimmy, Denny and others similarly to not
> shoot from the hip at this time. I know something about shooting from
> the hip, and it rarely moves things forward positively. ;-) This
> dispute may need a facilitator and a quiet, generous conversation to
> be settled amicably. Given that Dariusz voted to retain James, I trust
> James hasn't done anything so dastardly that this cannot be done.
> Everyone has had an incredibly long week. I am sure
> everyone--including Board members, who are all volunteers with other
> obligations--is still stressed right now about what's to come. People
> don't make the best decisions when they are too stressed, too tired,
> too busy. It's important that the Board is given some space to focus,
> to move forward one step at a time.
> I concur with your call for greater transparency and involvement of
> the Board in meaningful conversations with staff and volunteers. I
> also think other steps of Board reform, including better training for
> Board members, ought to be considered. I would love to hear more from
> recently appointed Board members like Guy and Kelly, to understand
> their perspective on the last few months. But all in due time.
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