I don't respond to Wikimedia-l discussion very often, but I think this
debate comes up often enough that it's worth it for me to explain and
elaborate on my own positions.

(1) I understand WP:NPOV to be a rule/guideline about content,
particularly Wikipedia content. I do not believe it is a rule about
Wikimedia processes, or about the Wikimedia movement's mission.

(2) As I put it many times many years ago in the years before and
after the SOPA/PIPA blackout, there are few POVs *less* neutral than
the commitment to give all the information in the world to everyone
for free. We are not a neutral enterprise, and we never have been.

(3) There is a vision that some members of the community have that WMF
employees (or contractors, or Trustees, or representatives) ought
never speak out and offer an opinion about political issues.
Ironically, some people in our movement would not want a WMF to have a
public opinion about, say, what "extreme vetting" means unless that
opinion itself were "extremely vetted."

(4) I think those who hold the view I summarize as (3) above are
making a mistake. It seems to me that the reason the community and the
Trustees have slowly crafted an evolving process that, when it works
well, results in strong, capable individuals who can speak effectively
both as representatives of our movement and as leaders of it, is that
we all know we can't hold a plebiscite for everything.

(5) We now know more than eve, thanks to events this year and last
year, that the larger, global, shared world of democratic values is
fragile, and that it's better to respond rapidly to rapidly emerging
issues (such as the treatment of Wikimedians of all backgrounds who
want or need to cross borders to participate in our shared, great
work) than it is to wait until our response is untimely, irrelevant,
or even impossible. The mode that seems to work most effectively for
us is to have strong, effective leaders and employees and
representatives who have earned our trust, and who for that reason can
be trusted to respond on our behalf as rapidly and effectively as
necessary to rapidly emerging issues. Without, shall we say, "extreme

(6) Sometimes those whom the Trustees and/or the community have chosen
are not up to the job we ask of them, and it is our strength that we
reserve the right to make our unhappiness known, through channels
ranging from this mailing list to Trustee elections to "voting with
our feet." Because our mission, the Wikimedia mission, is
fundamentally a human process it will be imperfect, and its
imperfections will make us unhappy sometimes. But we are adults, and
we live with those imperfections and take some joy at times in
recognizing them and trying to do better.

(7) Given all these considerations, I am proud to be part of the
Wikimedia movement, proud to be a part of the same community as all of
you, even when the community is sometimes contentious.  I hope that in
the long run we agree now -- right now -- is a time when we should
stand behind anyone in our community, from the Trustees and Katherine
on down to every last one of us, who stands up and speaks out for
humane values and humane judgments, because, it seems to me, the
Wikimedia movement is meant to be a humane, outward-looking,
courageous movement that acknowledges self-doubt but also remains
committed to enabling us all to raise our individual and collective
voices in defense of values grounded in generosity, love, and

Thanks for listening.

--Mike Godwin
WMF General Counsel 2007-2010

Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: 
New messages to: Wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l, 

Reply via email to