Thank you for engaging on this. I believe the important thing now is to
understand what happened specifically with the Knowledge Engine grant; but
you make a claim about a more general policy that I think should be
addressed. (I will address KE issues separately.)
On Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 2:01 PM, Dariusz Jemielniak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
wrote: > I believe that it may be impractical to require all grant applications,
> especially of smaller amount, to be made public, if it impacts our ability
> to gather funds.
Did you notice MZMcBride's recent link, demonstrating that then-Executive
Director Sue Gardner asserted exactly the opposite, explicitly as policy?
To my knowledge, there has not been any new policy articulated to change
that; so even though it was 2011, I would understand this to still be WMF
I am also curious about the characterization of a $250k grant as "smaller."
While there are certainly much larger grants, it seems to me that it being
over the $100k threshold that subjects it to the WMF Gift Policy would
naturally classify it as "larger." Certainly, when I worked in grant
fund-raising for WMF it was unthinkable that we would ever accept a
restricted grant for less than $100k; this was a firmly held principle. But
perhaps that is another policy that has been changed (or forgotten?) > It is a decision that we should make after listening to
> professionals in this area (who have sat with the big donors on hundreds of
> occasions, and also know our movement inside-out), not just being driven by
> a natural tendency that we want to know more.
Many professionals who are deeply involved in the Wikimedia and open
knowledge movements have already commented on this topic in great detail.
There is strong consensus around the value of transparency; while there may
be an opposing view (and while there are certainly some pieces of
information that should not be published), I have yet to hear a generally
anti-transparency view articulated. Have you?
I surveyed the views of the following individuals in my blog post last
* Former WMF executive director Sue Gardner
* Former WMF deputy director Erik Moller
* WMF advisory board member (former?) Wayne Mackintosh
* Mozilla executive director Mark Surman
* Various members of the fund-raising and fund-disseminating departments of
WMF, past and present http://wikistrategies.net/grant-transparency/
There is a strong trend toward transparency in the philanthropy world. WMF
has long been a guiding light in that trend in its grant-GIVING capacity,
and in certain instances has reflected those values around the grant it
receives as well.
If there is a new, contrary policy -- or even a contrary predilection,
beyond your own opinions as an individual trustee -- I think this is
something that should be publicly stated.
Transparency is important, but it should not be reduced to the community > having access to all documents if it may impair our work.
I agree with this, but it is a straw man. Nobody could reasonably expect
ALL documents to be shared publicly (and if they have stated otherwise, I'm
confident that is merely a kind of shorthand). The important conversation
is about default positions; exceptions are always worth considering, and
often justified. > It is also
> transparency of process (understanding HOW a decision is made, not
> necessarily seeing all documents), and also the reasoning (explaining WHY
> either WMF or the Board believe or do something). In both areas there is a
> scope for improvement and I am a full supporter of such improvements.
Strongly agree, and thank you for addressing this.
And yet, the bigger picture is that we have been literally flooded with > information requests and comments over the last two months, and we have
> spent most of our time on that. I understand the context and I'd say it is
> understandable in the circumstances and fine.
Again, thank you for acknowledging. When mistakes are made, often a
consequence is that more work needs to be done. > But at some point the Board also needs to focus on what it is for as well:
> setting the vision, thinking about the wider horizon.
I do not believe those activities are opposed to more clearly articulating
what has happened around the Knight grant. I believe those things overlap
strongly; the board need not turn its attention from one to the other. The
very core issue around the Knowledge Engine grant is that it seems to stray
widely from the common understanding of the vision and the wider horizon. > If we are to survive the next 10 years as the top 10 website,
Desirable, but not an absolute requirement. Our vision statement doesn't
even require us to be a web site. There are many compromises that we should
not make in pursuit of this goal.
we should focus externally more,
Citation needed -- it seems there is very strong consensus lately that
there are major problems within the Wikimedia Foundation. I hope that
Trustees will not ignore these views, coming from a wide variety of
respectable sources, with mere counter-assertion.
and start building more stuff that our readers care > about. I totally agree that WMF has failed on many occasions here, and we,
> the community, were right (when I recall the first deployment of the VE I
> grit my teeth).
Wonderful to hear you say that. But the beyond individual statements like
this, we have not heard from the organization about what kinds of mistakes
were made with VE (or with other software deployments). As Asaf recently
expressed  (earning much praise), it is highly valuable, when a mistake
is made, to acknowledge it in some detail, and in a way that respects the
depth of the mistake. Without such an expression, it is hard to have shared
confidence that lessons have been learned; and without learning, it is
indeed hard to move forward. >
But ultimately we need to be really able to move on, to be > able to move forward.
Agreed. I remain hopeful that the Wikimedia Board of Trustees and senior
management will take steps that will permit us to do so.
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