Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The state of the Wikimedia Union

I'm at the Foundation Board panel. Big auditorium, sea of laptops (mine among them).


For creating content, Wikimedia has a decentralized model -- but maybe Wikimedia should be governed under a centralzied model (or maybe not -- the board should decide).

Wikipedia is blocked in China. Jimmy's going to the Chinese wikimedia conference to meet people and try to start solving things.

Jimmy: Choose your board members wisely! Although they won't get involved in community issues, they're responsible for the organization's strategic and legal future. They make the trains run on time.

Wikipedia in africa:
Jimmy: In the old days, the fundraising was about a desperate need to buy more servers so the site wouldn't break. But our fundraising has gotten more successful. What can we do to fulfil our organizational mission of providing knowledge to everyone in the world? We need to move conservatively, talk to people on the ground there, find out what they need and how we can help.

Questioner: Are we going to pay board members? For example, the next world social forum; it costs money to travel this much, give up this much of your time.)

Angela (who is (somewhat infamously) quitting the board): the foundation's decision-making process has become flawed. We now vote on a wiki instead of having discussions.

(Combination of direct quote and paraphrase from another board member.) "The world looks to this organization as a flagbearer of this century. This kind of thing has never been done before."

Wales: The conflict between accuracy and openness is an illusion. For example, stable versions will almost eliminate semiprotection. The details of finding the best path will be left up to the individual communities. Some things do make sense globally; those practices will spread, but it's not the board's duty to micromanage.

Wales: NPOV is potentially flexible: it is a term of art that is endowed with meaning by the community.

Questioner: Money is the most powerful force in the world. Will social sharing ever become more powerful than money? Board: No, people are the most powerful force.

Financial situation is good. For the first time, over the past six months, we've gotten steady donations every day. We have a buffer now. Wikimania will spend the money, at first, on additional hardware. The public is using our service; for every person in this auditorium, there are thousands of other interested people around the world.

In the future, there will be more donations from foundations and corporations, so we might get away from the pass-the-hat model. We'd always been just barely be able to keep up with traffic -- but now we can ask, what could we do if we had more money?

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