> * The people in the WMF and the Affiliates are /part of/ of the
communities.
> * Even the people without extensive years of volunteering, or those who
> only started volunteering at the same time as they became professionally
> involved, are part of the communities.
> * It is illogical for us to tell the people who take on highly-active
> roles, that they are no longer able to lead.
> * We (collectively) try to encourage the extremely capable volunteers to
> apply for jobs, and for grants.
> * If Wikimedia Cascadia becomes a well-funded chapter, and you were a
> staffer of it, would you become ineligible to lead proposals that effect
> your area of activity?

The way that I tend to think about this question -- which as I'll explain
in a minute, I know is simplified -- is that by "the community" we mean
people who are not WMF employees or employees of affiliates, and who
contribute to the Wikiverse in some way.

This email is going to sound legalistic at first but I hope you'll read it
all the way through.

The reason behind that thinking (and others may have their own thoughts on
this) is that WMF and affiliate employees are receiving financial and
non-financial compensation from WMF or their affiliate, and they have
strong incentives -- in some cases, legal obligations -- to do what their
employer tells them to do and to comply with their contracts, or else lose
their job and possibly get a bad reference which could impact the
likelihood of them being hired by anyone else. Also, I doubt that many WMF
and affiliate employees would feel that it's permissible and safe for them
to publicly critique the members of their governing boards, which is
another difference between employees and community members.

There are also cultural differences. WMF is organized hierarchically, is
opaque about details of its financial spending (an illustration of this was
the contract with Sue for consulting work which was a surprise when I
learned about it), has chosen to use technical means to override community
RfC decisions (such as with Superprotect), and isn't a membership
organization.

WMF does a lot of valuable work in support of the community, for example by
running servers, handling subpoenas, developing software, and providing
grants to individuals and organizations. Affiliate employees also do very
important work, such as with Wikidata and the Wikipedia in Education
program.

Admittedly, the dichotomy of "community membership" / "employee" is a
simplification. For example, individual grantees and contractors may do
temporary or part-time work for WMF or an affiliate. Affiliates as
organizations have some interest in the health and policies of WMF and
staying on somewhat good terms with WMF, particularly regarding WMF's role
as a grantmaker and provider of trademark licenses.

I think that having WMF and affiliate employees in support roles is
important and valuable. However, one place where problems start to surface
is when WMF or affiliate employees start to tell their communities what to
do. That is not their job. Their job is to support the community and to
implement policy, not to manage the community, and not to create policy
without approval from either their organization's board or from the
community that they serve.

The "community" vs "employee" dichotomy makes it sound like there are no
shades of gray, but there are, and I'd welcome conversations about how to
develop a vocabulary that better illustrates this.

To answer your last question directly: yes, there are initiatives which I
would feel would be inappropriate for me to lead as an affiliate or WMF
employee, for example I would feel OK about *facilitating* community
discussion about a global ban policy but I wouldn't want to create and
impose that policy myself without some kind of community consensus. Also, I
would be much more cautious about what I chose to say about the governance
of WMF and my affiliate employer, because I would have financial and
employment interests that would conflict with my ability to speak candidly,
especially in public.


A brief follow-up to Adrian regarding :
> A lack of other community members participation is perhaps half on a lack
> of advertising, and half on a lack of interest.

From what I can see, Matthew has been thorough about trying to recruit
participation.

I'm trying to leave the door open to approving some kind of TCoC. Perhaps
there will indeed be community consensus to approve the draft that's
currently in the works -- I don't know. I prefer a different process and
some changes to the draft, but with the information that I have it's
impossible for me to predict what the outcome of an RfC on the final
document will be. If it's approved with significant community (i.e. non-WMF
support), I'll learn to accept it or propose amendments at some point. I
realize that there has been good-faith effort in developing that draft, and
I appreciate the effort even if the draft doesn't pass. From my
perspective, a bigger problem with conduct policy at the moment is the
situation with WMF's global ban practices, as has been discussed elsewhere.

Pine
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