Tuesday, July 03, 2007

An organisation gets the governance it deserves

The Wikimedia Foundation is selecting three members for their board. You may also have noticed that there is a lot of anxiety for what the result may be. There is a distinct feeling that the result may be biased. Of particular interest will be the perception of the English language Wikipedia. This perception of some seems to be that the WMF is US-America centred, the feeling that I get is that some Americans feel that they are losing their influence of "their" project, their Foundation.

So let us consider all this for a moment, the English Wikipedia is with its 1,8 million articles only 0.2 million articles bigger than Commons and is likely to be eclipsed by it in the near future. It used to be that it was growing faster than every other project or language version, this is no longer true. Over time the relevance of the English Wikipedia grew, its quality is great, its coverage is broad, it is what people turn to when they need a first impression on a subject. This has not changed, the English Wikipedia is splendid.

So why this anxiety.. it is not as if the English language Wikipedia is likely to become less dominant in the perception of what it is we do. Many issues of other projects however have not really been considered. There are nasty situations that do not get attention, issues about POV, issues of good faith, issues with living people.

The real issues have little to do with the English language Wikipedia, they have everything to do with the example it has given. It is now for our Foundation to make this promise for the other projects and language versions come true. There are basically two scenario's; our Foundation is allowed and enabled to deal with these issues or the Foundation is to primarily deal with the big projects that insist that they should be the beneficiary of all this attention.

To me, the Wikimedia Foundation is an organisation with many projects, many languages it provides support for. In reality it is the projects that mostly organise themselves. It is for this reason that I am really bewildered why there is so much fear of our organisation not being American. This bewilderment also comes from my appreciation that the WMF never was American but global.

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