Meetings/2011 election: Candidate questions

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This page has been set up to allow voters to ask questions of the candidates for the 2011 Board elections. Please add your suggested questions below but remember that candidates are not obliged to answer any question. Questions can also be asked at the hustings at the AGM itself.

Further information is also available in the Candidate Statements

Questions[edit | edit source]

  1. What do you think are the most important strategic objectives for Wikimedia UK in the next 1-3 years? Rodw 19:00, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
  2. If elected as a director what can you bring to achieving them? Rodw 19:00, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
  3. What is your username on Wikimedia projects? (question from Andrew West on email) AndrewRT 23:45, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Answers[edit | edit source]

Roger Bamkin (Victuallers)[edit | edit source]

1. (Apologies for the delay in answering but Ive been organising GlamDerby and developing the multi-language QR Code trials (#QRpedia)). Both of these came about by seeing what was working and improving on it. Professionalism is important, but we are a new organisation. There is a range of activities that we need to consider and there is a danger of spreading ourselves too thinly. In general wikipedians are not members of wikimedia and many wikimedia members are not active outside their on-line activity.

Cultural institutions are going to be important to wikipedia, but the other wikimedia projects need our support too. As the UK chapter it is tempting to concentrate on the English language, but I think it is particularly important that we are not anglo-centric. I can see Wikimedia exploiting the respect that we are attracting. The possibilities of the questions we may need to address include: Can we create a process to award Birmingham museum 5 wikistars for sharing its information? What is Wikimedia's view on the 2013(?) Digital Information Act? How will Wikimedia handle the growing number of high value articles that needed to be watched? Will Wikimedia be strong enough to resist a legal challenge to its objectives?

Once we have employees we will need to resist micro managing and concentrate of setting direction. However we must ensure that the board retains control of its members aspirations and makes sure that our professionals do not overpower the volunteer base that made/makes Wikimedia possible.

2. If elected as a director what can you bring to achieving them? I know the amount of effort required, because I have already been stepping up to the challenge. I have been proud to have jointly developed the algoritm for QRpedia. I can see that having edited wikipedia and handled million pound budgets in real life is useful, but so is my ability to direct a pantomime or chair a board of school governors. How do you bring together a group of volunteers to create something better than any of them could have done (or would have attempted) on their own? You need to create a compromise between retaining cooperation of everyone and the unachievable ideal. Luckily wikimedia projects provide proof that this is possible and at times the incredible is achieved. The challenge for Wikimedia is not to settle for what everybody believes is possible.

3. I'm Victuallers. Tens of thousands of edits, hundreds of articles and pictures, but I don't count them. I have admin powers but I prefer to create. (A victualler is an inn keeper who arranges food, drink and rest.) I have been active on wikisource, English & Simple wikipedia and commons.

John Byrne (Johnbod)[edit | edit source]

1) Largely covered in my statement. In particular: achieving registed charity status, selecting the right set of employees, and expanding our membership and operations. There are a lot of important questions that I don't want to prejudge, as a newcomer. As I say in the statement, I think maintaining and increasing editors who add good content is the most pressing need for the project as a whole, & the chapter should also focus on this. Securing the basis of our ongoing funding is also crucial - we need to be sure we will continue to receive a good share of UK fundraising.
2) I have excellent experience of working in the management team of very rapidly expanding organizations, and a wide range of management experience in somewhat related environments (publishing, IT), especially in financial and legal areas. I have extensive wikipedia experience in many areas, and I think a good understanding of WP issues and editor's needs. As an editor my interests align very well with GLAM initiatives.
3) See header.

Thomas Dalton - Withdrawn[edit | edit source]

Chris Keating (The Land)[edit | edit source]

1. What do you think are the most important strategic objectives for Wikimedia UK in the next 1-3 years? First of all, I think we need to develop a clearer strategic plan. Not by board diktat, but by discussion with the community. But in terms of what the objectives in that plan should be...

  1. Engagement. Year on year, we should be aiming for increasing numbers of WMUK members, increasing numbers of community members participating in WMUK events/initiatives, increasing numbers of donors and donation income, and finding ways to get people who currently contribute by donating to contribute by editing or providing other content.
  2. Outreach. We should set targets for the number of partnerships with and events involving the cultural sector, universities/academics, voluntary organisations, and anything else we can think of.
  3. Professionalisation. To underpin this, we need to move from a situation where the Board does everything as a group of overworked volunteers, to a situation where much of the day-to-day work is done by staff members who are themselves working with the community to get things done.

Edited to add: We should also aim for a situation where we don't have a board that consists entirely of white men!

2. If elected as a director what can you bring to achieving them

I have quite a lot of experience working in volunteer organisations which was trying to achieve a great deal with not a huge amount ; and doing so wearing a number of different hats - volunteer, Board member, and staff member.

To expand on my election statement a bit, for 8 years I was a member of staff at the Liberal Democrats, first running local election campaigns and then responsible for a large chunk of national fundraising. I also held voluntary positions, first on the Executive (Board) of the youth wing of the Lib Dems, and from 2008-2010 as Chair of the Liberal Democrat Agents & Organisers Association, which provided training to campaign managers. Now I am a fundraiser for a national healthcare charity - a much larger organisation but still one dependent on volunteer good will for both money and effort.

Professionally, everything I've done is basically about finding ways to engage with volunteers and donors. This is a skill set (and to an extent an outlook) which I think is otherwise missing from the Board, and a large part of the reason I'm standing is to make sure it is a priority. I have started to do some work on who we're communicating with and how, here: Newsletter/Audiences - please do have a look!

My experience also means I'm very aware of the challenges involved in being a volunteer-led organisation with a small staff team. There are particular challenges to being an organisation's sole staff member, and also particular challenges for a volunteer Board which finds itself trying to manage a small staff team. I've been in both situations, and I'd hope that I can help that process go smoothly.

3. What is your username on Wikimedia projects

The Land is my on-wiki identity. If anyone is really interested in seeing my userpages on all projects where I've every said or done anything, they are here: meta outreach Commons WikiSource I am also on Twitter.

Michael Peel[edit | edit source]

  1. What do you think are the most important strategic objectives for Wikimedia UK in the next 1-3 years?
(a) Volunteer engagement, both online and offline. We need to build up a community of people 'on the ground' across the UK, who act as local faces for Wikipedia and can explain how to contribute to the site to others (and help correct misunderstandings). At the same time, this needs to be done in a non-cabal way, such that newbies are welcomed to both offline events and online activities.
(b) Recognition as a charitable organisation. Being a charity opens a lot of doors, and automatically corrects a lot of misunderstandings, that don't happen as a non-profit organisation. It also increases the value and impact of donations to Wikimedia from the UK, due to Gift Aid.
(c) Professionalisation. We need to hire staff so that the "boring" workload that is part of any organisation can be dealt with in a speedy and efficient manner, without causing a large amount of work for board members (we've seen board member burn-out due to this workload in the previous 2 boards). We also need to ensure that enquiries are replied to in a speedy, efficient means; that we are being as transparent as possible in our activities; and that we can interact with other organisations in a professional and reliable manner. This, of course, naturally leads into (a) (which I think is the most important objective) and also helps enable (b).
(etc.) There are, of course, many other objectives (e.g. developing a strong strategic plan, partnering with other organisations to bring in expertise and otherwise inaccessible content, promoting a solid understanding of Wikimedia by the media, helping foster the wide-spread distribution of Wikimedia content to the other 6.5 billion people on the planet that don't currently regularly use the site) - but I won't go into those as you are just after the 'most important'. ;-)
  1. If elected as a director what can you bring to achieving them?
(a) Continue advocating for and supporting community driven and orientated events in GLAM, education and other sectors, as well as running some of them (as a volunteer).
(b) Continue the work that the current board has been doing on this topic, albeit at a quicker pace. I have a broad knowledge about the organisational side of Wikimedia, and the variety of arguments and evidence that can be provided.
(c) Assist with the selection of suitable employees, the transfer of the current activities and infrastructure responsibility to them, and the training of them to ensure that they understand Wikimedia's goals, ethos and community.
  1. What is your username on Wikimedia projects?
My username is my real name: User:Mike Peel. My main wiki is en.wp (see wikipedia:User:Mike Peel) and I'm registered on a total of 81 Wikimedia projects, with a combined edit count of 27,900 (see Special:CentralAuth/Mike_Peel). I'm also on twitter as @mike_peel.

Martin Poulter[edit | edit source]

I believe my personal statement answers these questions, but I appreciate the opportunity to expand.

1. What do you think are the most important strategic objectives for Wikimedia UK in the next 1-3 years?

The recent surge of mainstream goodwill towards Wikipedia, exemplified by the tenth anniversary coverage and the recent Times and Guardian editorials, is an opportunity that we need to seize. There are a great many potential partners, including GLAMs; academic, student and professional societies; charities and community groups. We can reasonably aim to engage them much more in the next few years. This is an opportunity to become more diverse, not just in the demographic sense, but in terms of reaching out to groups that are suspicious of us or unaware of what we offer. What's been done so far is a tiny proportion of what's possible and what would benefit the Wikimedia projects. Steve Virgin's work in Bristol getting support from senior people in the Council, the University of Bristol, the BBC and local groups is exemplary of what could be done on a larger scale to get us more content, more editors and more favourable publicity. The Cancer Research UK workshop organised by Mike Peel is a model that should be run in many more contexts. Roger and Ashley's QR code work has opened up a new way for public bodies to use Wikipedia. We could and should do a lot more of this activity, while working together and in a joined-up way. Charitable status is also incredibly important, both for Gift Aid and because being a charitable endeavour is an important part of how the public perceive us. I do not see it as part of Wikimedia UK's role to improve Wikipedia's processes, except indirectly by involving more editors. Projects already have their own communities and processes in which these things are decided.

2. If elected as a director what can you bring to achieving them?

I bring my experience hosting events, presenting, training, and persuading. My day-job is in the higher education sector, mainly on open content projects. I already work - in face-to-face and distributed teams - on strategic and operational issues of national projects. I am already doing the kind of Wikimedia outreach work that I've discussed, but it would help if I were more formally involved and working more closely with the others.

3. What is your username on Wikimedia projects?

My global login is User:MartinPoulter and I primarily contribute to English Wikipedia. I agree with Roger that a Wikimedia UK Director is very much a "real life" role, and that we need to evaluate candidates on more than their on-wiki history.

Andrew Turvey[edit | edit source]

1. I believe the most important strategic objectives for Wikimedia UK in the next few years are:

  • Staff recruitment, enabling us to scale up activities and facilitate more volunteer involvement
  • Continuing and expanded engagement with the key sectors of academia, the cultural area ("GLAM"), the media and the professions
  • Obtaining charity status

3. My username is AndrewRT. My contributions on Wikimedia projects are described here and here

Ashley Van Haeften[edit | edit source]

Q1: Strategic objectives

A: As per my candidate statement achieving charity status, maximizing the engagement with museums and archives and delivering large and uniquely UK focussed projects to improve engagement and diversity of content. (Longer answer) This was thinking of the next 12 months, with a 3 year hat on we can think of more subtle but important long term issues to resolve - the chapter has a focus on UK interests and our funds should be used for developing and promoting those local interests rather than pure operational or global issues. Consequently projects such as improving the diversity of contributions interrelate with international campaigns, for example if we focus on improving Wikipedia contributions in Chinese then there are a number of British Chinese societies, such as the BCS, that would be excellent stakeholders to critique and advise on the best outcome for any programme. The implications of thinking this way are a professional approach to programme management including active stakeholder management, communications planning and delivery focussed projects in parallel with tight partnerships with external organizations which leverage their organizational strengths and capabilities (such as their own established volunteer and communication networks) balanced with sticking to lightweight and agile methods of project management to fit our own flexible volunteer structure. As well as "diversity" other deeper strategic issues are the varied implications of smartphone/tablet access (e.g. our QR codes and multi-language detection experiments), segmentation of our volunteer networks with implication for communication methods and types of outreach activity (e.g. GLAM community, school networks, academics, experts, commercial business etc.) and improving the content "quality" process beyond the ad-hoc GA/FA and informal peer review processes in current use (thinking in the context of Lori's GLAM work in "pre-staging" expert created articles for comment in advance of release for open editing, a model that addresses a number of expert/academic contributor concerns but raises further implications for discussion).

Q2: What do I bring

A: My strengths are in my management and organizational development background. I started as a mathematician and software engineer who decided to go for an MBA and now have 25 years experience improving organizational processes and running programmes of change to help organizations adopt best practice methods and mature their own structures in a measured way that stays focused on the outcome and sticking to lean and lightweight methods. This is across a wide range of sectors including government agencies and local government, military, telecoms, national utilities along with my own experience in establishing and running businesses. My interest in Wikipedia and Commons over the last year has been on GLAM activities and my discussions with organizations such as the British Museum and British Library show that I am quickly aware of their needs to balance a desire for positive outreach with sensitive issues around legal constraints and public perception. I have nothing like the outreach expertise that Steve Virgin offers but work well in the context of a one to one quiet conversation with key stakeholders about how WMUK (and our sister organizations) can achieve common goals with others whilst putting aside less profitable debate and helping with the nuts and bolts of delivering the results.

Q3: Wikiprojects experience

A: I am an admin on en.Wikipedia with 50k+ contributions (mostly vandal busting, NPP, welcoming new starters and GLAM collaborations), an OTRS volunteer to help with copyright and verification issues, I have trusted status on Commons (so I can "officially" verify uploads from sources such as Flickr) and I am a member of the GLAM Steering Committee. See the link on my name to check it out.

Steve Virgin[edit | edit source]

1.What do you think are the most important strategic objectives for Wikimedia UK in the next 1-3 years? Rodw 19:00, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

a) Recruitment - getting the best people for the roles to drive the goals of the community forward

b) Professionalising the chapter so that the Board can set 'strategic objectives' and 'guide staff to deliver them' rather than as it is at present with volunteer Directors getting involved in far too many operational day-to-day matters.

2.If elected as a director what can you bring to achieving them? Rodw 19:00, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

I think I have most to offer in the field of outreach, having organised a number of successful events over the last twelve months I have built a network of contacts in academia (University level), local government & in schools that can help me to work with the community to widen and deepen volunteer involvement

3.What is your username on Wikimedia projects? (question from Andrew West on email) AndrewRT 23:45, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

My User Name is no different from my Candidate name