This page explains some of my thoughts about the Wikimedia movement and its organizations.
For my work as a MediaWiki developer, please see my MediaWiki.org user page.
A democratic Board
Legal ownership of the Foundation should be given back to Wikimedia's contributors, who lost the right to vote directly for its Trustees in 2006.
The Wikimedia Foundation should take the organizational expectations for affiliates, and apply to its own corporate structure. Most importantly, a democratic Board elected by members roughly as defined in its original Bylaws, editors, uploaders, developers and so on. For more about the history, please read the article on Wikimedia Foundation membership. A legal basis for voting protects the integrity of the process.
The Foundation's actions should be governed by its contributors and not by only a few. Direct, democratic control is the only known way to guarantee this. Other tools like recall and referendum should also be made available and binding.
Although I've kept to a hard line of 100% elected members, recent conversations have convinced me that it makes sense to have multiple paths onto the Board. I would still insist on a majority of elected members and legal grounding, but see the benefits in a few carefully chosen additions to this group.
Board meeting minutes should be much more detailed, nearly a transcript of the actual words spoken by each Trustee, and made public after approval. This is a proven way to create transparency and accountability. Some portion of the meeting can still be held privately in cases where this is necessary.
Distribute the money
Contributors are creating the value that brings in our donation revenue, and the Foundation has taken over almost all online fundraising with the justification of redistributing the revenue in a fairer way than just letting each country's chapter accept donations from within national borders. However, less than 8% of 2020's revenue was distributed beyond the Foundation itself, the Endowment, and the Knowledge Equity Fund.
I will propose that we set incremental targets for greatly increasing the money redistributed by the Foundation. It feels irresponsible to give a concrete target at this point, but I would like to see this made a higher priority than growing the Foundation itself.
Also, I would like to revive the good parts about the Funds Dissemination Committee, the collective action and democratic oversight. It shouldn't be the Foundation making decisions about funding, but the communities themselves.
Prevent online abuse
In the 2015 harassment survey, editors say that 86% of them have experienced or witnessed harassment due to their work on wikis (p. 16). They say that harassment is disturbing, and causes them to participate less. Other-gender, women, and culturally diverse community members experience disproportionate nastiness. Not only can we not afford to allow this to happen when we might be able to prevent it working together through social and technical interventions, but it's plainly immoral and unjust. Happily, there's a funded community health initiative that you can help support.
Continue work to make IP addresses private.
Organize more "Tea Houses" for mentorship and support.
More pro-social software affordances (e.g. "thank").
Many knowledges: open wiki farms?
Wikipedia and its sister projects each started with a narrow goal, and most of the world doesn't fit into these categories. At the same time, Wikipedia suffers for a lack of so-called notable and reliable sources. These shortcomings suggest the need for a larger open knowledge infrastructure, to create a safe and supportive network of smaller projects.
This infrastructure is still in its infancy, with projects running on shoestring budgets
Extending the existing projects into new languages will take new sources that have to be nurtured into existence, such as people's archives (a concept coming from "Whose Knowledge?"), journalist collectives, and so on. Sources will grow well in an environment of stable, open platforms.
We can achieve these goals by giving or lending resources in partnership with new communities. This might include legal and safety support for wiki farms, technical improvements to multi-wiki, hosting, and more.
I would put the bare minimum of restrictions on which sites and projects are eligible for our support, even "open knowledge" might be too high of a bar that excludes too much.
We have a few options available to stop the spread of false or manipulative editing. In addition to the automated approaches, we should also look at partnerships with journalists, possibly deterring public entities from CoI editing before it happens.
Plural Point of View
I admire Wikipedias for encouraging plural points of view, and as a friend of Wikipedia would like to emphasize that we already have a rich plurality hidden behind the awkwardly-named "Neutral Point of View" pillar.
Let's protect the diversity of people who bring our movement its core strength, and end online abuse.
I'm proud of the WMF for surviving on mostly small donations. For the sake of our independence, we should keep it that way. Other revenue streams should never exceed these.
The Wikimedia Foundation is a rare non-profit that thrives thanks to a huge outpouring of relatively small donations. The average donation is around $20 USD. This more than anything else allows the WMF to remain independent.
A recurring theme among those essays is that a dependency on large donations may be harmful to your health as a non-profit, and threatens your independence. One of the strings attached to grant funding is the burden of framing your organization's mission in terms catering to the fiscal sponsor du jour, diverting significant staff time and throwing the shadow of cognitive dissonance across goals, where instead with grassroots funding there is the opportunity for deeper engagement with your programs' constituents, building a virtuous cycle of mutual education and action.
This list is just a recommendation for more reading, these are not endorsements of my campaign, nor imply membership.
- Whose Knowledge?, a campaign to center the knowledge of marginalized communities (the majority of the world) on the internet.
- Peter Gallert on indigenous knowledge preservation.
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Please feel free to write any of these addresses. My talk page is best, or email if about something private.