2015 AGM/Elections/Questions

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AGM: Elections (Candidate statements · Candidate questions)Resolutions
Miscellaneous: 2015 Annual Review · 2015 Annual Report · UK Wikimedian of the Year 2015 · Timeline

This page has been set up to allow voters to ask questions of the candidates for the 2015 Wikimedia UK Board elections. Please add your suggested questions below but remember that candidates are not obliged to answer any question.

Further information is also available in the Candidate Statements.


For all candidates

Question One
What is the main thing (or things) you would want to achieve through your tenure as a Wikimedia UK trustee? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 09:33, 7 July 2015 (BST)
Question Two
How do you see the role of volunteers in WMUK and how can the board best help the charity to support its volunteer community? Thanks! Sjgknight (talk) 07:56, 17 July 2015 (BST)

For Neil Andrew Babbage

Question One

For Nancy Bell

Question One

For Greyham Dawes

Question One
In your nomination statement, you describe WMUK as "an entirely credible example of good charity governance and competent financial management" and take at least some of the credit for getting the board to that position. How do you reconcile this assessment of WMUK's performance with the major overspend and subsequent staff redundancies at the end of the last financial year?

For Josie Fraser

Question One

For Michael Maggs

Question One

For Nick Poole

Question One

For Joseph Reddington

Question One

For Doug Taylor

Question One


Neil Andrew Babbage

Question One

The end result I'd like to see is a larger and much more active community. We have a very large number of Wikimedians in the UK and, in comparison, a very small number of active members of WMF UK. I think there are great opportunities to leverage technology and tools better to encourage local participation. QuiteUnusual (talk) 08:47, 20 July 2015 (BST)

Question Two

The volunteers are WMF UK. The board can best support the charity by ensuring:

  • That it's aims are understood and promoted to existing volunteers, potential new volunteers and others who share our aims and wish to support us. The more volunteers there are, the more representative we will be of the community we represent.
  • That there is a climate that encourages deeper and wider participation and ensures this is maintained and improved. Barriers to participation are actively identified and eliminated.
  • That the highest standards are maintained. One scandal is enough to destroy an organisation like ours as well as having the potential to contaminate the wider Wikimedia movement.
  • That we are seen to be an independent organisation with shared beliefs but ultimately our own goals - that is, we are not part of a global WMF organisation with a single US-centric agenda.

QuiteUnusual (talk) 08:57, 20 July 2015 (BST)

Nancy Bell

Question One

As a Trustee I would:

  1. Share my extensive national and international networks in the cultural heritage sector to build an army of volunteers to support the mission of Wikimedia.
  2. Act as a responsible Trustee to ensure good governance, and delivery of the strategic plan.
  3. Advocate on behalf of the organisation to new audiences.
Question Two

Volunteers are our users, they are the engine room of WMUK. Recognising our users as active participants, or 'user participants ' positions this vital resource centrally, not as an optional extra. The Board has a active role to play in defining the strategic priorities and the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver them. The Board needs to ensure clear, easy structures are in place to make participation easy. It can use its extensive networks to encourage active user participants, thus building much needed capacity, to make the engine even better.

Greyham Dawes

Reply to question One (all candidates)

As I have indicated in my Candidate Statement, having been able to bring demonstrably pertinent knowledge and skills to the Board already as a specialist adviser on all aspects of regulatory and best practice compliance by UK charities, particularly in matters of governance and accountability, in view of the organisational and financial challenges now facing WMUK as a mature charity with a very demanding five-year strategy, I am keen to continue helping with the further huge strides that must be taken in optimising the Board’s working relationship with the charity’s wider volunteer community in promoting the Open Knowledge concept at the heart of which is Wikipedia, whilst at the same time having to diversify WMUK’s funding sources in keeping with the needs of that strategy. Part of this is the need to achieve the right working relationship also with the Wikimedia Foundation as well as with its family of Chapters around the world, in harmonious collaboration with the dedicated volunteers among our company membership and the wider UK Wiki Community

Reply to question Two (all candidates)

In common with nearly all registered UK charities, WMUK is led by a Board of volunteers (something that is often overlooked and/or taken for granted), who for effective governance must bring to the task a range of skills encompassing not only the technological, sociological, organisational and financial but also the ability to translate into a vision, a strategy and annually monitorable targets (objectives) the public benefit aims for which the charity has been established. This set of volunteers has the task of setting the strategic direction for the delegated management of all the charitable resources entrusted to WMUK directly or indirectly by the wider volunteer community in the tax-efficient pooling of whatever financial and other resources can be gathered for the purpose – perhaps the most important of which is the unflagging enthusiasm and relentless commitment of all the activists to be found in the wider Open Knowledge Movement, activists who can and should be invited to take on the mantle of voting company membership as a way of keeping in closer contact with the organisational centre of their aspirations. Such activists, whoever and wherever they are, constitute the heart and soul of WMUK. With a measure of skill and care on our part, they will increasingly emerge from the ranks of the far more numerous passive volunteers in order to play a leading role in bringing to a practical focus many an unuttered or even as yet unformed wish for more and more open access to knowledge of all kinds. It goes without saying that this is a crucial resource requiring from the Board the most active nurturing, encouraging, resourcing and co-ordinating to take on board constructive ideas of all kinds, facilitating their sharing, review, evaluation and ultimately conversion into charitable projects for the benefit of all. To achieve this calls for well-developed ‘people-skills’ on the part of all members of WMUK – Board, CE, staff-team and company members alike – so that we can successfully attract and weld together into a unity of charitable purpose all the diversity of human aspirations offered by the rapidly expanding Open Knowledge Movement.

Reply to question from HJ Mitchell

The staff review and restructuring actually took place in the first Quarter of this financial year, as the Interim CE’s well-considered response to the Board’s requirement of last year for future annual budgets to be based on our new five-year strategy. This has meant the CE having to address the strategic priorities we have set for ourselves and against which we need to be able to measure annual progress. The restructuring inevitably made some staff posts redundant to enable the team to focus more closely on supporting our volunteer-led charitable projects, as you can see from the new management tree.

In parallel with these changes, we reviewed our reserves policy in the wake of unexpectedly large overspends on some of our major projects in the third and fourth Quarters of last year.

Overspends were largely due to (1) significant staff and logistical support for Wikimania, for which not all costs were recoverable, and (2) an off-budget expense representing the Chief Executive transition, necessary to ensure the smooth running of the charity.

These had resulted in an operating deficit which took too large a slice out of our reserves. Faced with the continuing decline in WMF funding for the developed world, we felt we must take pruning shears to the 2015-16 budget drafted for our WMF funding bid. Our priority aim in doing so was to preserve our diminished reserves and even to rebuild them by diversifying our funding sources. That is sound financial management in face of challenge.

Thus these two events are not in fact causally related at all: The staff restructuring was the next logical step in good governance to focus our resources more closely on our newly adopted five-year strategy and to measure progress towards achieving it, whereas the budget reset to breakeven or better was the natural reaction to an unexpected operating deficit by reviewing all existing and proposed operational commitments against the related funding and monitoring the results in detail via our Quarterly Financial Management Reporting (QFMR) system.

Josie Fraser

Question One

I want to contribute to the good management of the charity, and to it's financial stability and growth. I would work to ensure that the excellent work of the community is more widely understood and celebrated. I also want to help build and develop connections within and across the school sector, and support the greater involvement of schools and young people in understanding, making use of, and actively contributing to the work of Wikimedia UK.

Question two

Thanks for the question! Without volunteers there would be no Wikimedia UK; it's the job of the board to ensure their ideas and advice is heard and that the strategic direction of the organisation best represents and corresponds to the experience and aspirations of its community. The board is there to help articulate and promote this organisational sense of community and shared purpose, including the importance of inclusivity. And of course one of the key ways that the board can support current and potential volunteers is by by ensuring a financially robust and secure future for the charity.

Michael Maggs

Question One

I'd like to see real improvements in the way the charity interacts with our volunteers, an increase in volunteer numbers from hundreds to thousands, and an increase in membership. We should build on our successes in working with GLAMs to be more ambitious in seeking specific open knowledge outcomes such as large-scale releases of media files. Diversification of funding will be important to enable us to remain both effective and independent. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:47, 13 July 2015 (BST)

Question two

Volunteers should be empowered to work both independently and with staff support as needed, and the board needs to articulate and promote that. Our community and potential community encompasses a huge range of interests and experience, and we need to be more effective in making it attractive for volunteers to join us and our collaborations to provide greater reach and open knowledge impact than we can achieve by all working alone. The board can help not so much by championing specific projects (those should be for volunteers to take the lead on), but by ensuring that we have suitable structures and processes in place to facilitate the development of a vibrant and active community of volunteers and staff all working towards the same ends. These should be adapted to attract and appreciate not only the necessarily important 'traditional' Wikimedia site editors but also volunteers who bring valuable expertise from further afield to advance our aims, experts from other open organisations and the GLAM, education and academic worlds, as well as those with skills in such areas as IT/software, finance, law, copyright, governance, strategy development, reporting, volunteer management/engagement, media and communications, fundraising, training, advocacy, photography, and many more. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 12:34, 21 July 2015 (BST)

Nick Poole

Question One:

There are 3 things I would like to achieve during my tenure at Wikimedia:

  • I would like to support the executive and fellow Trustees in developing sound governance and a robust organisational model so that Wikimedia UK can deliver its strategic plan
  • I would like to learn more about the structure, organisation and values of the Wikimedia UK movement so that I can use my networks to build bridges and develop relationships
  • I would like to promote engagement with the wiki community by my colleagues in museums, archives and libraries. -- NickPoole12
Question Two

I think Wikimedia UK and its volunteer community ought to be synonymous - in my experience, it is vital to avoid an 'us' and 'them,' mentality by placing the volunteer firmly at the heart of the organisation and then structuring the work of the paid staff as a service to support their needs. I am committed to transparency as a fundamental principle, and so while the staff ought to be able to marshall resources and effort towards specific aims it ought to be the volunteers that decide what those aims should be.

Joseph Reddington

Question One

I have a real passion about Systemic Bias, (particularly around disability, and oddly enough, IT literacy). I'd like to see much greater outreatch to people who haven't edited our projects before in communities that are under-represented by our editors. I think I'd like to see our events calendar involve more events in the style of a library event . I would argue that having more events like this is both A Good Thing and an excellent way to demonstrate to groups and funders outside of the community that we can have a positive impact on local communities, provide transferable skills, and build links. In turn this would allow us to widen our group of funders, giving us a little more financial stability.

Question Two

Apologies, but I wasn't quite clear on if the question focused on people volunteering directly for the charity Wikimedia UK, or people working on Wikimedia projects who live in the UK.

I think it's important to be a little cautious about the relationship between the charity and the set of Wikmedia volunteers that happen to live in the UK, I think that Wikimedia volunteers may, in general, find it difficult to necessarily identify with what they might consider a 'local chapter' - certainly there are relatively few issues that I can think of that would divide volunteers along geographical lines. Exactly how to identify, reach, and engage volunteers who may run the full spectrum from novice to established contributor is, I think, one of the most interesting challenges for an organisation with a mission to encourage, involve and engage it's community.

Doug Taylor

Answer to question one
There are many things that I'd like to achieve, but probably the two main ones would be to significantly increase the number of active volunteers and to reduce our financial dependency on a single funding source. To achieve the former, I would like to develop and strengthen strategies that involved more volunteers in the charity's work as an integral part of the process, and actively seek broader outreach opportunities at a local level. To achieve the latter, we need to recognise that somewhere between £1 million and £2 million is donated by UK residents to WMF during the six weeks or so of the WMF's Annual Fundraiser. Around half a million of that is then granted to WMUK, which becomes our principal source of income. I believe that WMUK needs to demonstrate its value to donors by increasing its activities at the community level. If we establish the value of WMUK to the ordinary users of Wikimedia projects, we increase the likelihood that those donors who support the Annual Fundraiser will be wiling to financially support WMUK directly throughout the year. --RexxS (talk) 13:19, 8 July 2015 (BST)
Answer to question two
The role of volunteers in WMUK is to take part in achieving the vision that was set out when volunteers created the charity. We formed the charity not because we wanted a company, nor because we wanted a chapter of the WMF, nor because we wanted charitable status as an end in itself. We formed WMUK because we believed that having an organisation of Wikimedians within the UK would offer us greater benefits of working collectively to further our shared interest in the biggest online encyclopedia ever created - and all of its sister projects, as well as similar projects that provided open educational resources to the public. It has had the benefit of allowing us to employ staff whose purpose is to perform those tasks that volunteers will not, or cannot, perform. If we accept that WMUK exists to serve volunteers, it is obvious that the Board needs to thoroughly understand what volunteers do and what they want. To do that, the Board needs to be seen as part of the volunteer movement and board members need to participate in activities as volunteers. Having hands-on experience of WMUK events and outreach will allow the Board to make informed decisions about what support volunteers need. --RexxS (talk) 01:40, 21 July 2015 (BST)