Friday, May 02, 2008

The importance of relevance

The board of the Wikimedia Foundation decided that their composition will be changed. There will be seats for chapters and there will be seats for experts. The number of people that are directly chosen by people of the many communities will decrease as a result. This decision was taken without consultation of either the advisory board or the community. Many people are pissed off. A consequence is that the influence on the board by people from the USA will be much less; there is no US chapter.

In separate mails both Erik Moeller and Anthere indicated that they would welcome it when the projects, the communities organise themselves. When a body of people takes care of the issues that come up in the projects, the organisation and the board do not have to do this. They cannot do it in the first place becaue they do not scale and do not have the skills to deal with multiple projects in over 250 languages.

When the board, the organisation cannot deal with the issues and when the communities take care of these same issues, two important things are established
  • The board, the organisation can concentrate on their enabling function
  • The relevance of the board is of a lessened relevance to the projects
When Wikipedia was still young, Jimmy was the "god king" and as more projects were started in more languages, it became clear that he could not deal effectively with all the community issues. Now that he is more of an ambasador, he still has a lot of influence, people still listen to what he has to say but it is quite clear that particularly the bigger projects organise themselves.

What is missing is a coordinating body, a council that deals with what the projects have in common. That deal with the conflicts between projects, that helps the smaller projects evolve in fully functional projects with all the trimmings. Such a body will consist of the many people who already do this type of work. In this way we can provide the perfect partner for the board and the organisation to work with. With such a body the composition of the board is a lot less relevant.
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