I find this issue of Conflict of Interest exceedingly problematic. Almost every person working and living today will have a conflict of interest somehow, especially as one becomes a contributor to any of the Wikimedia projects, gets to know people, tries to organize events or promote the value of Wikipedia, Wikimedia, etc. Or if you work in any field that specializes in anything online or technical. It is an impossible situation.
I think that Wikimedia deals with this very badly -- and obviously at great personal cost to talented, giving people. I am sorry. And to the bigger problem: Wikimedia loses a smart person who has loads of ideas and expertise -- and is a contributor to Wikidata (one of the best & most exciting projects to be visited upon Wikimedia) because of this arcane and quite frankly needing to be re-evaluated rule? I see this as one of the many problems of Wikimedia. EVERYONE has conflict of interest. We need the smartest and brightest minds out there to contribute whatever they willingly can and will do on a volunteer basis. How can they not have connections to the real world as well as to online? Do we expect volunteers to be in their bunkers somewhere, siloed from the world, that these clean folks are the ones to move Wikimedia forward? It's laughable. One thing Wikimedia seems to do quite well is torture people who want to contribute by rules and policies that I think, quite frankly, are unworkable. Requiring some sort of absolute clean Conflict of Interest is an impossible ideal. It is also obviously hurting the community. There is much change happening. I think it's an opportunity for newbies such as myself as well as folks with longer views to make things better. Or these mistakes will continue to plague the Wikimedia community -- and we will all lose out. - Erika *Erika Herzog* Wikipedia *User:BrillLyle* <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:BrillLyle> On Sat, Apr 9, 2016 at 2:28 AM, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijs...@gmail.com> wrote: > Hoi, > Denny I am sorry to have lost a friend who is on the board but I am happy > to welcome back a friend who can now express his ideas, his notions, his > opposition, his point of view. Yes you work for Google. For me it means > that you are again in an unique position to be an ambassador for both > Google and WMF in either domain. > > You may have gained friends while on the board, the one sad thing is that > it came at a huge cost to you personally. Nevermind what you do, I trust > you to do well. > Thanks, > Gerard > > On 8 April 2016 at 20:17, Denny Vrandecic <dvrande...@wikimedia.org> > 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 > > wikidata.org), 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. > > > > Be bold, > > Denny > > _______________________________________________ > > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: > > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines > > New messages to: Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org > > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, > > <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe> > _______________________________________________ > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: > https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines > New messages to: Wikimediaemail@example.com > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, > <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe> > _______________________________________________ Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines New messages to: Wikimediafirstname.lastname@example.org Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, <mailto:wikimedia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org?subject=unsubscribe>