Monday, April 07, 2008

I want a PC not a VC

Effeietsanders has proposed the setup of a council that is to complement the staff, the advisory board and the board of trustees. The name proposed is the "Volunteer Council" or VC. To make this all happen a PVC or a provisional VC is to be created that is to get a mandate to specify what the VC is going to be. A group of good people are selected for this, people that I trust can do a good job.

I find myself opposing something that I think is sorely needed. The reason for this is very much one of focus. This council will particularly deal with the projects, the issues of the projects and thereby be complementary. The staff and both boards are about the organisation that enables the projects to function. This council will be about the projects and will deal what makes the projects function better.

The council will deal mostly with issues of the projects, not about issues of the volunteers. The fact that this council will consist of volunteers is incidental what is relevant is that this council will be there for the projects and consequently it will represent the projects and not so much the volunteers. When you consider the English Wikipedia for instance, it is well able to do all the things needed; it has the attention of the organisation, the world. There are many capable people beavering away and does within reason its own thing. It does not really need a council.

For most of the other projects things are starkly different. A recurring theme from Wikinews is that it does not get the necessary attention. You can however exchange Wikinews for most other projects including most Wikipedias. With the ever increasing number of wikis, it becomes ever more impossible for projects to be heard.

It is for all these reasons that I propose to name the council the "Project council" PC and for it to represent the interest and needs of the projects. The first thing it should do is ensure that the policies that exist are actually implemented and functioning. Then it should look into what make the projects be better represented within the limits of what is possible. Limits because the WMF functions very much as an ISP and this distinction prevents liability. In this way the projects and by inference the volunteers get a better representation and help the WMF fulfill as an enabler for the projects.

Practically, I would have the same group of people prepare for a Project Council. I would not give them a blank check, I would have them prepare a draft proposal. While working on this paper, I would have them consult with members of the staff particualrly Sue and Mike and consult with members of the board of trustees as well. I am sure that it will be good because there IS a need for a council in any way you slice it.
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