Thank you for your very thoughtful email. I appreciate your reasoning.

Sydney Poore
Wikipedian in Residence
at Cochrane Collaboration

On Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 2:33 PM, Manuel Schneider <> wrote:

> Thanks a lot Denny for your honest and inspiring mail.
> I kept stumm for the most part of the last month's controversy, as I
> merely could have +1ed a lot of stuff that has been said and that's not
> worth spinding bandwidth and people's time.
> Now I want to take that time to say thank you, for your time on the
> board and for your role in Wikidata. For a return in a role that
> inspires you again.
> /Manuel
> On 04/08/2016 08:17 PM, Denny Vrandecic wrote:
> > I exchanged a walk on part in the war for a lead role in the cage.
> >
> > I find myself tied and limited in my actions and projects. In order to
> > avoid the perception or potential for Conflict of Interests I have to act
> > extremely carefully in far too many parts of my life. Instead of being
> able
> > to pursue my projects or some projects at work - which I think would
> align
> > very well with our mission - I found myself trapped between too many
> > constraints. I feel like I cannot offer my thoughts and my considerations
> > openly, since they might easily be perceived as expressions of interests
> -
> > regarding my previous work, regarding my friends, regarding my current
> > employment.
> >
> > This hit home strongly during the FDC deliberations, where I had to deal
> > with the situation of people deliberating a proposal written by my Best
> > Man, around a project that has consumed the best part of the previous
> > decade of my life. Obviously, I explained the conflicts in this case, and
> > refrained from participating in the discussion, as agreed with the FDC.
> >
> > This hit home every time there was a topic that might be perceived as a
> > potential conflict of interest between Wikimedia and my employer, and
> even
> > though I might have been in a unique position to provide insight, I had
> to
> > refrain from doing so in order not to exert influence.
> >
> > There were constant and continuous attacks against me, as being merely
> > Google’s mole on the Board, even of the election being bought by Google.
> I
> > would not have minded these attacks so much - if I would have had the
> > feeling that my input to the Board, based on my skills and experiences,
> > would have been particularly valuable, or if I would have had the feeling
> > of getting anything done while being on the Board. As it is, neither was
> > the case.
> >
> > I discussed with Jan-Bart, then chair, what is and what is not
> appropriate
> > to pursue as a member of the Board. I understood and followed his advice,
> > but it was frustrating. It was infuriatingly limiting.
> >
> > As some of you might know, Wikidata was for me just one step towards my
> > actual goal, a fully multilingual Wikipedia. I hoped that as a Trustee I
> > could pursue that goal, but when even writing a comment on a bug in
> > Phabricator has to be considered under the aspect that it will be read as
> > "it is a Board-member writing that comment" and/or “It’s a Googler
> writing
> > that comment”, I don’t see how I could effectively pursue such a goal.
> >
> > It was at Wikimania 2006 in Boston, when Markus Krötzsch and I had lunch
> > with Dan Connolly, a co-editor of the early HTML specs. Dan gave me an
> > advise that still rings with me - to do the things worth doing that only
> > you can do. This set me, back then, on a path that eventually lead to the
> > creation of Wikidata - which, before then, wasn't something I wanted to
> do
> > myself. I used to think that merely suggesting it would be enough -
> someone
> > will eventually do it, I don’t have to. There’s plenty of committed and
> > smart people at the Foundation, they’ll make it happen. Heck, Erik was
> back
> > then a supporter of the plan (he was the one to secure the domain
> >, and he was deputy director. Things were bound to happen
> > anyway. But that is not what happened. I eventually, half a decade later,
> > realized that if I do not do it, it simply won't happen, at least not in
> a
> > reasonable timeframe.
> >
> > And as said, Wikidata was just one step on the way. But right now I
> cannot
> > take the next steps. Anything that I would do or propose or suggest will
> be
> > regarded through the lense of my current positions. To be fair, I do see
> > that I should not be both the one suggesting changes, and the one
> deciding
> > on them. I understand now that I could not have suggested Wikidata as a
> > member of the Board. It takes an independent Board to evaluate such
> > proposal and its virtues and decide on them.
> >
> > I want to send a few thank yous, in particular to the teams at the
> > Wikimedia Foundation and at Google who helped me steer clear of actual
> > conflicts of interests. They were wonderful, and extremely helpful. It
> > bears a certain irony that both organizations had strong measures against
> > exactly the kind of things that I have been regularly accused of.
> >
> > I only see three ways to stay clear from a perceived or potential
> Conflict
> > of Interest: to lay still and do nothing, to remove the source of the
> > Conflict, or to step away from the position of power. Since the first
> > option is unsatisfying, the second option unavailable, only the third
> > option remains.
> >
> > So I have decided to resign from the Board of Trustees.
> >
> > It was not an easy decision, and certainly not a step made any easier by
> > the events in the last few months. I understand that I will disappoint
> many
> > of the people who voted for me, and I want to apologize: I am sorry,
> > honestly sorry, but I don’t see that it is me the Board needs now, or
> that
> > the movement needs me in that position. What I learned is that the
> profile
> > that allows someone to win an election is not the profile that makes an
> > effective Trustee.
> >
> > But be warned that you will continue to hear from me, after a wikibreak.
> > Expect crazy ideas, project proposals, and requests to fund and implement
> > them. I will return to a more active role within the movement. I will be,
> > again, free to work on things that are worth doing and that only I can
> do.
> > I think that in that role I can be more effective and more valuable to
> the
> > movement, the Foundation, and for our mission.
> --
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