Sunday, July 26, 2009

Motivation for my candidature as a WMF board member

The Wikimedia Foundation, its projects and communities have been dear to me for a long time. As a volunteer I have been deeply involved in many roles. I was often not pleased with how things were and, I have always "put my money where my mouth was". In answer to the inefficiency of Wiktionary, I first developed a templating system and this lead to OmegaWiki. The inability of Commons to serve people who do not speak English had we develop a working proof of concept that allowed for multi lingual search and multi lingual categories. The lack of timely delivery of localisations had me come up with LocalisationUpdate. The need for important historic illustrations had me contact several GLAM.

All these things are in my opinion important and strategic for the WMF but I have been outside of the centre of gravity and as a consequence much of what I did did not get the attention that I would have liked. In what I have done, support for languages and support for our smaller projects has been a constant, this may also be clear from being a member of the language committee from the start.

A recent incident made me decide to stand for the board. It was when I learned that the Special:Preferences on Commons were not properly formatted. I posted a bug on Bugzilla only to be told that "issues with CSS were not admissable; they are for the admins of the projects itself". After some heated conversations, it was agreed that admins are not the people who you can expect to fix complex issues like this. To my amazement bugzilla showed many issues with our RTL support.

My conclusion is that when even languages like Arabic do not get the technical support that is to be expected, there is a need for a more direct approach. It is the board of trustees that is responsible for the strategy of the WMF and for me this is just another indication that language support needs to gain priority.

With Milosh dropping out of the election, there was noone left who I knew to have enough appreciation of this issue. Once I considered standing for election, I realised that I actually had a range of issues that could benefit from a board member championing these issues and it is exactly what should be expected of a board member.

It is my track record that provide you with the arguments why I can bring important value to the board. On the board I will have to deal with all issues and I will but it will give the issues I champion a deserved place as part of the overall WMF strategy.

1 comment:

David Shankbone said...

Gerard, you are without doubt one of the finest thinkers the Wikimedia Community has. Your blog is well-written, but it also explores philosophical pulls that underlie many issues confronting Wiki, and its community.

Don't take my word for it. I think if anyone spends some time reading your blog, they will realize you would make a remarkable candidate.