WMF Board Q&A

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Board of Trustees Q&A Session

Sunday, 10:00-11:00, Jockey Club Auditorium (after Sue Gardner's presentation)

Every year at Wikimania the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees hosts a panel after the presentation from the Executive Director, where members of the audience can ask the Board questions about the WMF, the ED's presentation, and the work of the Board, and where new members of the Board can be introduced to the community.

In past years the Board has also taken questions by IRC and, in 2012, by notecards distributed ahead of time to attendees.

In 2013, the Board would like to invite members of the community to leave questions on this wiki page ahead of time. While there will only be time to answer a few questions, we hope that this will be an easier way to solicit questions ahead of time. We will choose a few questions from this page to answer on stage and will also take questions live from the audience, as time permits. For more information about the work of the Board, see Board of Trustees. Thanks!


Leave your questions below and sign with ~~~~

  1. What are your comments on the VisualEditor, its recent and premature development at the behest of high-level WMF management against community wishes, its counterproductive effects on editor retention and the contemptuous conduct of said WMF managers surrounding the deployment? Context: w:de:Wikipedia:Umfragen/VisualEditor_Opt-in, w:Wikipedia:VisualEditor/RFC, w:Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Default State RFC, m:Research:VisualEditor's effect on newly registered editors/Results, [1], [2]. MER-C (talk) 06:34, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
    Well, tell us how you really feel :) I am putting a placeholder here to note that this is a big question several board members may want to address. -- Phoebe (talk) 20:53, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
  2. Do you think the Wikimedia movement does enough to engage with university students and university researchers, lecturers, and other staff – or are they an untapped resource? AGK (talk) 11:40, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
  3. One hour per year seems like a very small time window for the community to be able to communicate with the board as a whole. Why not answer questions on a wiki page like this one before every board meeting? Anonymous (talk) 19:22, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
    Hey, I think your original question was why we didn't schedule IRC hours before every meeting and I think the answer to that is simple scheduling issues :) But the idea about having a wiki page is not bad at all. I think we've tried taking comments on agendas and things in the past but it's been inconsistent so there was never a lot of uptake. I'll think about a good process for asking questions (maybe just the preliminary agenda talk page, or maybe a dedicated page). Not sure how that would affect the board's work in the actual meeting as agendas are driven by an annual calendar of things we have to do (like approve the annual plan, review current WMF work, etc) but it would be great to know what people were wondering about. Of course we all read the mailing lists too, especially wikimedia-l. -- Phoebe (talk) 20:47, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
  4. How much can a project stray from core values of the Wikimedia movement before it should no longer be recognized as a Wikimedia project? I am thinking specifically the recent kerfuffle over removing/re-instating Emergency CAPTCHA at Portuguese Wikipedia to reduce the rate of vandalism, but I am interested not so much in having projects removed from the umbrella of Wikimedia, but rather some guideline of what is up to the communities to decide and what cannot be touched. GoEThe (talk) 14:56, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
  5. What is the board's opinion about Wikinews? (context: 1, 2, 3) Bennylin (talk) 15:14, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
    Could someone please rephrase this question in such a way that it is understandable without reading a lot of context? Lodewijk 20:24, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
    thanks, yes, this would be helpful :) -- Phoebe (talk) 20:44, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
  6. How well are the grantmaking programs working so far? What kind of FDC or IEG grants would you (as individual Wikimedians) like see proposed and funded that haven't been yet? Can the grant programs as they exist today be used by Wikipedians to help recruit female editors or improve article quality, or are those topics outside the scope; if they aren't, can you please explain what such grant applications might look like? Anonymous (talk) 20:11, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
    Hey, this question is in two parts -- the first part is board-level (how well it's working) but I think one of the grants staff could better answer the second part about what grants can be used for -- I will ask one of them to jump in :) -- Phoebe (talk) 20:44, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
    Jumping in, as requested :) Leaving FDC aside for now, as those grants are for organizations rather than individual Wikipedians. IEGrants can and should absolutely be used for projects aimed at strategic priorities like recruiting more female editors and improving article quality. They can't be used to pay women to edit, or to pay experts to create higher quality articles. But they can be used to pilot new systems or programs that try to recruit/encourage/support more women to edit or encourage/support volunteers to create higher quality articles. Example of current IEGrant projects along similar lines: The Wikipedia Adventure is a game that could encourage more female editors (though women aren't specifically the goal), and Consolidate wikiArS is aimed at quality via image creation. Grantmakers would be happy to talk more about applications and ideas for all grants programs at the IdeaLab Brainstorm session too. Sbouterse (WMF) (talk) 21:41, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
    Thanks Siko. To the part about what we individually want to see happen... *personally*, I'd love to see a) lots more training and learning material about how to edit & contribute to the sites developed; b) serious work go into citation extensions, tools, data hook-ups to libraries, etc. There's cool work going on in this area now, I'd love to see more. Of course these are my personal interests... I think in general any grants to recruit contributors and help them interact with Wikimedia, and any grants going towards supporting existing editors, would be high-priority and would fit with our strategic goals.
  7. The 2013-14 Annual Plan allocates 40% of the Wikimedia Foundation budget and 59% of the staffing to engineering and product development. However, it seems that few of Board members have professional expertise in theses areas (compared to previous years and in general). Does the Board feel it has the necessary expertise to lead the Foundation in this area? Would the Board consider recruiting expert seats with more experience in engineering and product development? Steven (WMF) (talk) 21:50, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
    So I cannot speak for the other members of the board (some of which do have tech knowledge) but as a product manager for Wikiwijs and several other Kennisnet products I am involved in several agile development projects and have been involved in web development for a total of 15 years. While this is not comparable to the knowledge that someone like Domas brought to the board I think it is sufficient to understand the tech issues that come before the board (such as the complexity involved in the Visual Editor, or the tremendous change in development cycles etc. in Engineering) ... Jan-Bart
    (See also mailarchive:wikimedia-l/2013-August/127609.html and follow-ups.)
  8. Two years ago the Board passed a resolution regarding images of identifiable people, which urged the community to do a number of things, but most particularly to focus on ensuring that photograph subjects have given their consent. How do you feel this has developed in the last two years and is it still an area of concern for the Board? The Land (talk) 16:35, 2 August 2013 (UTC)
  9. Thanks for your help with grant application ideas. I can't wait to hear from the rest of the board. Would you please ask your staff to write a report about the pros and cons of investing a portion of the reserve in a top-performing high-yeild bond fund? Anonymous (talk) 02:38, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
  10. What big developments, changes, or new programs does the board plan to focus on this year? What sort of involvement can community members have in these plans? 218.102.215.220 17:04, 10 August 2013 (UTC)