To be or not to be (a candidate for the Wikimedia Board of Trustees)

Vitruve Man

Candidacies are now open for the 2009 election to the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation. A fair amount of people have been asking me if I would be a candidate; the answer is “not likely”.

I have an intimate knowledge of the Wikimedia movement & entities ; I have been a volunteer for the foundation for years, mainly in the field of communications. I know most of the staff already and as a former board member of Wikimedia France, I have a valuable chapter background. Since the foundation doesn't seem to plan to hire me anytime soon, I guess I could offer the Foundation the benefit of my experience.

Besides, the current candidacies are of average to low quality. Actually, the only current candidate I would vote for right now would be Ad Huikeshoven, whom I think would be a terrific board member. However, Ad's statement doesn't sound like he would really be a community representative, since he emphasizes his background in Auditing. I agree an experienced auditor would definitely be valued on the Board, but in this case Ad should be appointed to one of the "specific expertise" seats of the board. "Community-elected" seats are, well, supposed to represent the community (see Brianna's very good post for more information about the available slots).

I do have some specific ideas of directions for the foundation's strategy, among which:

  • A better integration of Wikimedia projects with Wikipedia (see my paper & presentation from Wikimania 2007). Increasing the visibility of other Wikimedia projects will benefit both the projects (by attracting new editors) and the general public (by making these resources more visible) in the long run.
  • A complete overhaul of the badge-prone "committees" structure and their reorganization into mission-driven workgroups. Most of the committees have proved to become inactive after a while. Workgroups would be managed using SMART(ER) techniques and their achievements would be assessed regularly. This would help the Foundation rely sustainably and scalably on the volunteer community, from an organizational point of view.

But (because there's always a "but")

  • Now that I'm "only" an unaffiliated Wikimedian, I have some time to write articles again, and I love it. I'm not sure I'm willing to trade that with the unrewarding job a board member has to commit to.
  • Some good candidates may declare themselves later, before the deadline.
  • I already have some volunteer work underway, such as the Wikimedia documents initiative, which will probably take a lot of time (depending on the amount of people who join to help, of course; but still).
  • I'm likely to move and get a new job in the next few months; as a consequence, my timetable may become unpredictable.

In the end, I'm not inclined to be a candidate right now. I believe some good candidates will declare themselves before the deadline; I will be happy to support them, and they will save me the trouble of rethinking my current position.