Talk:Volunteer Conflict of Interest Policy

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Please feel free to comment.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:44, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

I feel confused

I would be grateful if someone could help me in my confusion. I have discovered three four active COI pages (which I have added to a COI Category):

  1. Draft volunteer Conflict of Interest Policy (this one) started 5th December 2012
  2. Principles for WiR and Volunteer Conflicts of Interest policy started in User:The Land's user space on 14th November 2012 and moved to its present site on 24th November 2012
  3. Conflicts of interest policy/2012 redraft, started 21st July 2012
  4. Conflict of Interest Policy/Proposal November 2012 started 17 October 2012

Specifically, my questions are:

  1. Are there any other relevant pages which I have missed?
  2. It would appear from the history of Conflict of Interest Policy, that this was amended at the November Meeting, even though the header states they were adopted on 1 September 2009. Could some one check and alter the document so it's clearer to understand.

I must admit I find the whole situation completely confusing, and feel reluctant to make any further contributions to any of the discussions until things have been clarified.Leutha (talk) 18:41, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Hi Leutha;
  • This page is a draft from Jon which will be developed into something the Board considers.
  • Principles for WiR and Volunteer Conflicts of Interest policy is a set of principles written by me and (largely) adopted by the Board as the direction of travel.
  • The other two conflict of interest policy redrafts/proposals are separate, have not been agreed, and I believe are not current proposals.
  • Thanks for the point about the status of Conflict of Interest Policy, I have clarified in the header that an amendment was made.

Hope this helps, and look forward to your contributions! Regards, The Land (talk) 18:59, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for that, it's very helpful.Leutha (talk) 20:31, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Sorry Leutha - a lot of dead wood on the wiki that needs archiving. If you do have any comments please let us know.

Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 13:03, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Previous comments

I and other people recently commented at Talk:Principles for WiR and Volunteer Conflicts of Interest policy. Those comments apply here, in he main if not in full. It would be good to know how they have been, or will be, taken into account in drafting this document (and others referred to above). Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 20:49, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

I hope Chris and I and the others who created this document took everything we could on board. But to the point - suggest changes if there is something we have missed.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:13, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Refund of grants

Given the very woolly definition of CoIs, the proposed "obligation to refund grants made to them" is particularly troubling. We have people on restricted income travelling around the globe on grants; refunding them may be impossible, or reduce the individuals concerned to poverty. It's also not clear whether the legal basis, or mechanism , for reclaiming grants might be. Nor for what period after the making of a grant this might apply. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 21:08, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Surely worst case scenario described here and a huge measure of common sense and good faith to be used in the implementation of this policy? Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:15, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
The trouble with common sense is: it isn't. As we've seen recently, to the community's cost. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 20:51, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree, it would be highly unusual for a charity to put volunteers under a contract in order to have a legal basis to require a "refund" of a grant. Larger grants would be best paid on planned deliverables, or offered on a piecemeal retrospective expenses basis in conjunction with a limited advance, to reduce the risk to the charity if any project needs to be cancelled. The policy would be better rephrased to make it logically enforceable. -- 11:29, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
In the absence of a very clear contract with the grantee, I think there would only be an obligation to repay if what they've done is serious enough to constitute a tort. I would be opposed to imposing any obligation beyond the existing legal one (it will put people off) - the policy can include a comment that, in extreme cases, the chapter will consider legal action to recover funds. --Tango (talk) 12:16, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Have taken this on board and amended Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:54, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

I think of this as like an insurance policy to be used on very, very rare occasions, hopefully never. There are many eyes on us as a Chapter given our growth and all that has happened this year. Not all of those eyes are sympathetic or assuming any good faith at all. Therefore we have to make sure we have very clear guidelines.
Most charities would not go so far but the whole world watches our websites. To most outside observers Wikimedia UK, the Foundation, Wikipedia (and annoyingly Wikileaks) are all seen as the same thing. We have to be above suspicion.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 13:12, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
Do you have an idea of what the grant contract would look like? If you make people sign a scary looking contract, you will scare at least some people off. --Tango (talk) 15:14, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
How about 'I agree to abide by WMUK's Volunteer Conflict of Interest Policy' tick this box? Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 15:18, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
You're going to want to get legal advice on that one... I would be surprised if something that vague gave you any enforceable legal rights beyond those that already exist in statute. --Tango (talk) 20:35, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
You may think of it in that way, Jon, but you may not be the person implementing the policy in the future. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 20:51, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
So many things surprise me!!! :) Will ask our board lawyer.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 14:51, 18 December 2012 (UTC)


Please don't point people there with issues like that—I really don't want to know about volunteers' conflicts of interest, besides which nobody seems to look at that OTRS queue (which is where the emails end up) on a regular basis. Please point them to an email address for an identifiable person. Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 22:05, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

I agree with you that it should go to a specific person - not OTRS, which is too general and not very good for personal info. However, I do make a point of checking OTRS every day and answering anything I can - but I acknowledge that you do the lion's share of responses! Richard Symonds (WMUK) (talk) 13:19, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
Now points to CE email.Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 12:30, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Volunteer Policy

I have just looked at the Volunteer Policy which was agreed last February. (Could some one with access please add the year of its adoption - 2012?). Towards the end it states:

"This policy shall be reviewed by the Board, in consultation with the Chief Executive and the community, on an annual basis"

which means quite soon. Reading this draft, I must admit I am not sure we are going about things in the best way. I think that if we reviewed the Volunteer Policy, and developded a framework in which differing levels of engagement could be looked at in distinct and appropriate ways, then we would have a structure within which the COI policy could be located. At the same time, these need to be correlated with particular bodies within WMUK, eg Education Committee, GLAM Committee, whose membership should perhaps be made public. i.e. membership of a particular committee would link to the relevant section of the Volunteer Policy, which would include the COI section. Some aspects of Volunteering can remain at an informal level, however it may be useful to use some of the material developed by Volunteering England and use volunteering agreements where volunteers are taking on more responsibilities. Also, in these circumstances, it might be appropriate to extend the Grievance Policy and Procedure to include such volunteers. Whilst I am aware that the Board is particularly sensitive to COI issues at the moment, it might be worth having this as part of a Volunteer Code of Conduct, which could highlight other aspects of expected behaviour by WMUK members when volunteering.Leutha (talk) 19:32, 8 December 2012 (UTC)


I may have missed it, but I didn't see the action to be taken when a conflict of interest arises, e.g. recusal from discussion (generally, but not always, the conflicted party would leave the room in such cases). Rich Farmbrough, 23:30, 11 December 2012 (UTC).

This policy refers to volunteers rather than Board members for whom there are clear rules. Perhaps we should be explicit along the lines you suggest? What do people think?Jon Davies (WMUK) (talk) 10:20, 12 December 2012 (UTC)