As many of you are aware, it's always been difficult to navigate
information about the proceedings of the Board of Trustees: minutes,
agendas, specific resolutions, notes, and commentary are split across Meta
Wiki, WMF Wiki, various mailing lists, etc.

So, I spent the last few days building a set of navigation templates on
Meta, tidying up page names, summarizing the Board's activities in recent
years, etc. I hope you will take a look at the before[1] and after[2] pages
on Meta. (There's still work to be done -- any help appreciated! Speaking
of which, thank you to MZMcBride and Rillke for helping get a useful gadget
up and running.)

== The most useful part ==
In addition to the navigation boxes (which I hope are helpful in themselves
to Trustees, staff, and any volunteers interested in governance issues), I
think perhaps the most useful pieces are the Annual Summary pages I put
together for 2014 [3] and 2015.[4] These aim to capture every resolution
passed in each year, separated according to those focused on Board
governance and more general votes. I have also included brief narratives
about issues that have been widely discussed (e.g., the absence of any
Advisory Board-related votes in 2015, and the implications of that). I have
tried to keep this very factual, to keep it short and useful for for
anybody interested in tracking the information. It could use additional
eyes, and probably additional links (to significant email messages, etc.)

== Curious observations ==
This is the deepest dive I've taken into Board proceedings, and as such, a
few interesting points struck me:

* Yesterday, for the first time, minutes and resolutions from the two
December 2015 Board meetings were published. As far as I know there was no
announcement of this; I wonder if in these tumultuous times, this has
slipped through the cracks. As you will see, there are several significant
pieces of information in there, and three months is a long time to wait for
it.

* December 2015: For the first time, we learn that Guy Kawasaki was
appointed to the Board Governance Committee (BGC). Ordinarily, a committee
appointment might not be of great interest; however, in this case, the
appointment came during the same meeting as the one where the BGC nominated
Arnnon Geshuri and Kelly Battles. If I'm not mistaken, those were the only
two candidates presented to the full board for a formal vote, meaning that
the members of the BGC had tremendous influence in appointing those two
seats. I think it would be worthwhile to hear from the Board whether or not
Guy had a role in deciding what candidates were presented to the Board. Was
this appointment fully forward-looking, or was it recognizing work that he
had already done with the BGC? Did Guy have a role in the formal decision
of who to present to the full Board?

* December 2015: The resolution establishing the Endowment Fund, which was
announced in a press release in January, is now referred to on the WMF
Wiki. However, the text of the resolution has not been published. I suspect
this is a mere oversight and will be corrected shortly; but this is a
significant development, and it will be good to see what was actually
decided.

* December 2015: As we knew, the Board approved the FDC's recommendation.
But the text in the Minutes and in the Resolution are interesting: (a) Many
staff and volunteers have praised the FDC's diligence in identifying the
WMF's performance in relation to the Annual Plan Grant standards. It would
be interesting to hear from the Board how it takes those comments, but
there is no mention of that in the Board resolution. (b) There are,
however, comments about the FDC's take on Wikimedia Germany's request for
restricted funds for Wikidata. I'm not as familiar with this issue, but it
appears there is a bit of a power struggle going on between the FDC, WMF,
and perhaps WMDE over this issue. This is something I hope we can all hear
more about, as it seems significant to the future of an important Wikimedia
project.

* January 2016: (No big surprise) Kelly Battles has been added to the Audit
Committee, and Jaime Villagomez has been appointed Board Treasurer.

* Going way back to August 2014, I noticed an interesting detail. Many who
follow the Board are aware that Alice Wiegand, who had previously been a
Chapters-nominated Trustee, lost her bid that year for a new nomination.
Frieda Brioschi was nominated in her place, and was appointed; Frieda had
previously been a Trustee some years before. And the Board immediately
appointed Alice anyway, succeeding Ana Toni, who resigned mid-term. Now,
for the part I had not noticed before: In the same meeting where she was
herself appointed, Frieda cast the sole dissenting vote for both of the
resolutions to reappoint Alice. (One to fill out the 2014 term, and another
for a new term starting in 2015.) This strikes me as highly significant:
Frieda surely knew that the vote would be successful, and that she would
then be faced with serving alongside a colleague who she had publicly
opposed. I do not know Frieda at all, but this strikes me as an action few
people would take unless there was a strong reason. I am curious what the
rift was between the two, and especially whether it is over an issue or
philosophical difference related to the Wikimedia movement.

== Closing thoughts ==
Overall, I hope these navigation templates, and especially the annual
summaries, can facilitate various parties in navigating complex
information, and help us all develop a better understanding of how the
Board has been supporting the Wikimedia vision. Perhaps there are further
improvements that I haven't thought of -- so of course I welcome others'
contributions to how the information is presented.

Please let me know (on- or off-list) if you have any feedback for me.
Happy editing,
-Pete
[[User:Peteforsyth]]

== Footnotes ==
[1] Before the new templates:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikimedia_Foundation_board_meetings&oldid=15413988#2016
[2] Current version:
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_meetings#2016
[3] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_summary,_2014
[4] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_board_summary_2015
[5]
https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Press_releases/Wikipedia_celebrates_15_years_of_free_knowledge
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