Sunday, April 27, 2008

Community Petition

During the ten years I lived in New York City I learned a way of dealing with the stress of seeing tons of stuff that needed to be fixed:

Is the thing irritating enough to do something about?

  1. If yes, figure out something that could help fix the problem and do it.
  2. If no, stop stressing about it.

Doing something doesn't necessarily mean spearheading a monumental effort to fix the universe. More often it meant figuring out which city office was responsible for fixing a street light, and giving them a phone call or writing a letter. Sometimes the problem got fixed, sometimes it didn't, but at least I had the relief of knowing I'd done my part. I hadn't been helpless and passive; I'd spoken.

So I guess this needs to be said: the petition I started today wasn't sour grapes about the Foundation turning down the proposal for a provisional volunteer council. A couple of people had pinged me earlier this week about that, and it had slid right off my back. Normally I don't pay all that much attention to Foundation level issues, and had been surprised when I'd learned that my name had been proposed for it. So it seemed like a good idea that my heart wasn't riding on. Okay: didn't happen, no big deal.

A few more people tugged on my sleeve. Same answer.

Then somebody (maybe I shouldn't say who) shook a little harder: had I seen what else the Board had done?

Actually I hadn't, and he seemed upset, so I looked into it and realized what the fuss was about, and when I did I wasn't happy either. So I wrote up a petition. Blame me if you don't like it; or head over and add your name if you agree:

Petition to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees:

We, the volunteers, ask the Board to give the volunteer community a fair voice in Foundation governance. During the most recent meeting the board of trustees not only rejected a proposal to improve community input in Foundation matters, but implemented an unexpected restructuring to reduce the community seats on the board. The community was not consulted about this reduction in representation and the board provided no explanation for this change.

That is not a good way to treat people who donate their time and labor. The volunteer base made this the seventh most popular website in the world. We expect courtesy and respect, but received neither. That hurts morale.

Please provide a full explanation for recent board decisions and reconsider your top-down approach.


llywrch said...

Durova omitted a link to the second petition she mentioned.


pfctdayelise said...

"No explanation"? What do you call a FAQ and 200 posts on foundation-l? Come on. If you have some feedback, raise it there. Is this petition just opposing for the sake of opposition?

Lise Broer said...

Actually I call 200 posts to foundation-I chaos--the chaos that's filled the void where formal explanation and/or advance discussion ought to have been. I don't really see a productive purpose to joining that cacophony. The petition got started when I heard quite a few people speaking with one voice; their signatures are echoing in an amplification chamber. This is what successful petitions do.