WikiConference UK 2012/Elections/Questions
This page has been set up to allow voters to ask questions of the candidates for the 2012 UK Board elections. Please add your suggested questions below but remember that candidates are not obliged to answer any question. Questions cannot be asked at the hustings at the AGM itself, there is unlikely to be sufficient time. As with previous elections, any questions must be asked of all candidates, and not targeted to a specific candidate. Questions must also be relevant to the work of WMUK.
Further information is also available in the Candidate Statements.
- 1 Questions
- 2 Answers
- 2.1 Alison Fayers-Kerr
- 2.2 Ashley Van Haeften
- 2.3 Christopher Allen
- 2.4 Christopher Keating
- 2.5 Doug Taylor
- 2.6 Gary Hayes
- 2.7 John Byrne
- 2.8 Joscelyn Upendran
- 2.9 Junior Campbell
- 2.10 Katie Chan
- 2.11 Michael Peel
- 2.12 Roger Bamkin
- 2.13 Roshana Gammampila
- 2.14 Saad Choudri
- 2.15 Steve Virgin
- 2.16 Thomas Nicols
Questions[edit | edit source]
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General questions[edit | edit source]
- What different groups and communities are you part of? --Filceolaire (talk) 08:22, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
- What motivated you to stand for the board of Wikimedia UK? --Rock drum (talk) 11:41, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
- Wikiversity has been set up as a sister project to serve as a platform for Open Educational Resources. Many people feel that it is not really meeting its potential. In light of a serious commitment to education probably emerging from the WMUK Strategic Plan, please name at least one element you feel might help take things forward. --Leutha (talk) 15:37, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
- What projects should WMUK pursue over the next five years. Where should we be in five years time? See Talk:Draft 2012 Five Year Plan/Counterproposal for some ideas. What's your idea? --Filceolaire (talk) 21:44, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
- When Wikimedia UK submits information to the Charity Commission, a parliamentary committee, or another public authority, is it more important to present Wikimedia in a positive light or to answer questions as accurately and completely as possible even when this might cast WMUK, Wikipedia or the individual answering the questions in a negative light? --Peter cohen (talk) 16:50, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
- If Wikimedia UK submits information to the Charity Commission, a parliamentary committee, or another public authority, and that information subsequently turns out to be inaccurate, incomplete or liable to be interpreted in a manner that places Wikimedia in an overly positive light then what action should WMUK take? --Peter cohen (talk) 16:50, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
- As the elected representatives will be charity trustees, have they read and understood the legal requirements and obligations of being a charity trustee and have the current trustees brought these obligations to your attention? --126.96.36.199 07:43, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
- The vast majority of Wikimedia UK's activities are undertaken by volunteers, who are the lifeblood of the organisation. How do you think you, as an individual trustee, and the board as a whole can better support those volunteers, especially those who live some distance from the chapter's headquarters in London? --Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 19:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
- Given that volunteers conduct so much of the charity's work, perhaps even fulfilling roles that would be fulfilled by paid staff in other organisations, what role do you feel trustees should play in ensuring that, as Wikimedia UK professionalises and its staff expands, volunteers remain at the heart of the charity's activities and actively participate in the running of the organisation? --Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 19:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
- While I have the utmost respect for our four current staff, only one had an extensive background as a Wikimedian before being employed by the chapter. How important do you think it is that Wikimedia UK seeks to recruit from within the Wikimedia community, and should it try harder to recruit staff who are Wikimedians as it expands? --Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 19:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
- What role do you think Wikimedia UK could play in ensuring that Wikipedia's articles about living people are kept accurate and free of malice? ----Andreas JN 23:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
- What are your views on having an optional image filter installed on Wikimedia projects, to enable users to opt out of seeing images they feel are inappropriate? ----Andreas JN 23:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
- With the current concerns over adult (up to R18 certificate and equivalent) content appearing unfiltered on Wikimedia projects, how would you advise UK schools and youth groups to handle access to Wikimedia sites? ----Andreas JN 23:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
- Do you agree with the Wikimedia Foundation board () that processes for ascertaining model consent for images taken in private situations need to be improved, and if so, what (if any) role do you think Wikimedia UK should play in this? ----Andreas JN 23:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
- Would the candidates agree that in this election and elections generally that a high "turnout" of voting members is necessary to give credibility to the final outcome/result and that the most worthy candidates are chosen? Are the candidates aware of what % are usually encountered in WikiMedia elections for board members? --Ravinglooney (talk) 18:35, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Answers[edit | edit source]
Answers[edit | edit source]
- The first communities I am a member of are my family and the local community where I live. Every day is a personal struggle to live authentically and with good principles. My four children and I have slowly evolved into a socio-economic micro-community and yet are independent of one another with our own professional spheres and our own circle of friends and cultural interests. Sounds easy doesn't it! We sponsor Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Save the Children and we have Stephen Covey diaries. One son is a physicist in the Christopher Hitchens camp, one daughter a bio-chemist who studies Rumi and another is a medical anthropologist with a lawyer's mind so our family principles are kept high on the agenda. One of my sons has decided to go for his Yachtmaster's ticket (momentous decisions currently taking place at home!). I am in daily contact with communities of young people from a range of backgrounds. In the wider community I am pro-active in local affairs. I try to avoid groups and organisations that use mass marketing techniques thus finding myself in a narrow field. There is some objection on my part to any movement which is brought about by the mere click of a button. I like my information to arrive at the click of a button though. My dalliance with social networks was shortlived and void of meaning and content. Oddly enough I believe in the Big Society and I also buy and believe in the Big Issue which keeps me in touch with the homeless and the disadvantaged. Humans have been as destructive as they have been creative but we are the best and only resource to make things happen if the well-being of our planet should ever get to be top of the agenda. For this we need to work within our personal circle of influence, then we should network to link up with existing groups and communities so they may benefit by taking the message into their own set-ups.
- Wikipedia parent is worth standing for and needs publicity, credibility and dynamic growth so I thought I would be a suitable member of a mediating team involved in precisely this. Beyond the statement I have already made and including this list of answers, I am a potentially catalystic force which might be put to good use within the actual body of members and trustees and I look forward to offering a creative and new perspecitve to the operation...
- There is great danger in creating splinter groups (you say sister group) because they undermine the main purpose of the greater Wikipedia and also potentially destabilise the foundations of the Wikimedia Foundation. Greed for the whole market comes to mind although I judge myself unable to pass a truly well-informed opinion on the matter of Wikiversity's potential. At a glance thousands of sites can be found, all jostling for position in the race to promote education; often involving the self-interest of academics or their institutions. Wikipedia is and will remain the best gift one can offer to people and individuals both inside and outside the educational frameworks; everyone is free to use and add to the matrix unfettered and I'm all for keeping it that way. It would be interesting to reflect upon the the questioner's own answer to this question in the light of this statement. It is my opinion that Wikimedia UK would have a better long-term, sustainable function as i) promoter of Wikipedia and ii) networker between universities encouraging more participation in Wikimedia events. May I add that I certainly favour a platform upon which university knowledge can be pooled but I question (and would like to know more about) the way this is currently being done; there are so many publications in this area that the body of work is ridiculously vast, international and riddled with copyright/plagiarism issues with overly-complex and multiply-referenced systems.
- What the world needs is open access to the information emerging from the university databases. How many PhDs are relevant? It is not possible to answer this question but much research is driven by the endless need 'to publish' with a view to gaining 'funding'. Much publication overlaps, is duplicated, refuted, out-dated ….and exactly how much of this process needs to be stored and how?
- The objective is for universities to elevate their notions about Wikipedia and to contribute to the universal body of knowledge, brought about by collaboration with Wikiversity internationally. WikiUK should concentrate on the UK Universities by physically linking them and encouraging debate and input about how this higher knowledge can be made available to the general public. In such a process, the body of higher knowledge will preserve itself and be permanently available to be upgraded, amended and added to for future generations stored in Wikipedia when it becomes historical solidified.
- Approximately a million editors are required! The human resources are there; sometimes at the pinnacles of our institutions and sometimes in unexpected fields.
- This is a tricky debate and I hope I have made myself clear whilst not necessarily understanding the status quo. I apologise if I am underestimating people's endeavours and results.
- WMUK needs to reach the heart of the nation and to encourage prolific interest in Wikipedia with commensurate generosity from users and contributors. WMUK needs to collaborate actively and imaginatively with other international Wikimedia groups.
- “Wikipedia” operates in a unique dimension; the enormous significance of this still has not percolated though to everyone, but it must. No commercial marketing, no government control, no bossy power base. The seeds of knowledge have been sown; let them be watered in the form of small, frequent and widespread spontaneous donations by ordinary users; may knowledge, truth and enlightenment continue to stream in from contributors: this is WKUK's brief.
- There needs to be a series of short, medium and long term schemes to ensure correct logistical and financial administration, legal copyrights, libel protection, protocol in referencing sources at Wikimedia UK etc and widespread technical support (anti-viral for example). With all this in place, the true success of WMUK will be the measure of natural growth and proliferation from these seeds. Like the allegorical story of the grain of rice on the chess board, which doubles with every square, exceeding all measure of business planning.
- Wikimedia UK is an enlightened organisation yet still in formation as an established charitable institution. There will be wrangles and attacks which must be dealt with openly and honestly because the overall set-up will not be affected. If Wikimedia UK continues to grow as a charity then its own dynamic patterns of growth will compensate for any artificial or extraneous bad press..
- Inaccurate or incomplete information can be presented in a way that enables it to be amended; if it is interpreted in a falsely positive light then this will presumably counterbalance the occasions when the reverse is the case until such time as the final 'version' of the truth is established and widely agreed to be a fair representation of the facts.
- I will have by the 12th May. I am busy whittling down my own projects and manoeuvring myself into a safe spot with enough to license my victuals over the next few years.
- This is an important question. Even as a risk taker and courageous I daren't answer your question today. However, there could be some in-house insurance in place by way of protection for individual volunteers in the face of unforseen hardship, if indeed as you suggest this might be a contingent issue? The same could apply if the action base of an individual volunteer grows beyond all proportion and needs sustaining in the form of renting/running premises, using exisitng networks whereever possible.
- The battle here is one of material security versus creative edge. I could only answer after further investigation into several prototypical examples. I thought that WMUK was set up to create financial and technical (etc) systems so as to underpin international success for Wikipedia with clear emphasis on Wikipedia UK and with geographical exercises to promote awareness and funds within the UK itself. Now it is being suggested that volunteers are paid. Clearly for the logistical and administrative/legal/technical staff a salary is a pre-requisite.
- Dear Harry, I don't have the expertise to answer this question informatively but Andrew Marr's eclectic guests on Monday's Start the Week (broadcast 30th April BBC/Radio4) were a complete set-up for you. I am absolutely positive if you were to email his guests with such a question they would provide the best possible answer.
- This is very important and applies to a range of other personages (nations/races/groups/illiterate people or those unable to represent themselves) and not only those who are alive but those who have gone before. In the case of living individuals I believe they have the right to contribute to their own pages and there could be a safety net in place by way of provision of a service for their prior notification. Wikipedia is not about opinions or people's feelings but about factual information. Is it not the case that normal laws of libel and slander are en rigor?
- It is a good idea to install this option to protect users from unsuitable images. Words can be offensive but at least they need to be actively read in a sequence, unlike images which can flash before you synoptically and can amount to a virus infection of the mind. With today's technology an image can be flashed to thousands of viewers at the push of a button, even to those who have not chosen to receive it. The rationale of this argument might be clarified by consideration of this scenario: you READ (or start reading) that Mr.Y is having and affair with Ms. X …...... you SEE an image of Mr.Y and Ms X in flagrante. Being informed of 'the affair' through the medium of words or through an image/images has differing neurological implications. Certainly images are most explicity interpreted in a split second by one's mind, before one can wilfully click an escape button on the keyboard thus inflicting a visual image into one's memory in ways which can be painfully difficult to eradicate and may have long-lasting effects beyond one's conscious control. To me this is an intrusive and dangerous graphic medium which should be carefully monitored.
- I would need to consult experts on this matter and take a back seat but clearly certain filters need to be put into place in schools. 'There is no doubt that the truth must out' is not a bad mantra for Wiki to fall back on but, as one who engages with masses of pupils taking GCSEs and A levels I have ceased to be astonished by the swathes of young people who struggle to even form the 26 letters of the alphabet correctly and whose basic spelling and expression is atrocious yet the same individuals are dexterous in entering realms of 'adult' material that would probably make the rest of us recoil! It's 'the press of the button' that concerns me; if Wiki provides a platform where unsuitable and uncensored material thereby becomes available, mesmerising children who respond to passive and shocking visual stimuli, then thumbs down for Wiki. To balance the viewpoint, it really might be best just to print the truth and not to elaborate or sensationalise. Images would be need to be justifiably included (criteria required). A written account would be available to anyone who willfully chooses to be informed of the truth, however unappetising it might 'appear'.
- In the same vein as the former response, I might suggest that institutions and/or members of the general public are engaged in surveys at regular intervals in order for the administrators to accumulate a body of statistical evidence as to the damage to/effects/inappropriateness of images at given points, in given areas and at different levels. Wikimedia UK should definitely be engaged in these assessments and procedures.
Ashley Van Haeften
Answers[edit | edit source]
After taking up the Chair, I have some quite big new things to worry about in my diary, from the Wikimedia Chapters Association funding proposal, through to chats with the Science Museum. A delay here in my replying to questions is not intended as a snub or a lack of interest. :-) --Fæ (talk) 16:01, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
1. What different groups and communities are you part of?
- On Wikipedia I'm a specialist generalist (or less flatteringly a butterfly) article editor and tend to avoid particular labels of wikiprojects apart from GLAM related topics. Taking up responsibility for the UK GLAM budget and programmes means that I have the opportunity to mix with related communities such as the Open Knowledge Foundation Network through to the research community within the Wellcome Trust. Apart from GLAM and the wikiprojects I do a lot of vandal management, new user welcoming and spend time in the unseen and un-thanked volunteer "back-office" helping folks with problems they email in to Wikimedia. There are small determined communities that support this gnomic work and I sometimes hang out on IRC (as Fae) as well as using the related email lists. I have become more involved in the past year or so with Wikimedia Commons and gradually find myself challenging policy and better understanding the role of the small but complex, international and often fractious community there. Since 2010 my cross-project editcount is over 90,500 with another 21,000 by bot.
- In that other place that most folks call "real life", I have a social network mainly in the spheres of IT management, gay culture and the strange world of academics. I have been a long term supporter of the Hall-Carpenter archive, the largest British archive of LGBT activism from records to artefacts, and helped during a series of transitions (including lugging endless archive boxes out of the garages of gay activists) so it is now part of the Lesbian and Gay Newsmedia Archive housed by Middlesex University and Bishopsgate Library, and another section is maintained at the London School of Economics, who hold a delightful wealth of fascinating archives relating to political history. Previously I was on the committee of the British Computer Society Quality Specialist Group and retain a long term interest in the development of standards and how third party bodies negotiate and promote professional standards; one of those areas where it was hard to define the boundaries of my hobby and my profession. Due to my husband being an ancient historian, most of our holidays stay within the Roman Empire, fortunately it was extraordinarily large and most of the modern countries within it no longer imprison or execute people for being gay. We are life members of Cadw, and free access to Welsh, English and Scottish Heritage sites (we were going to Dublin but a volcano got in the way) is a boon to getting a feel for the British landscape, even though I readily confess to being a complete duffer on history and am quite likely to believe what I read on Wikipedia until my husband tells me how badly written and out of date it is :-) I remain a proud Friend of Nunhead Cemetery (hilariously the annual open day is heaving with retro Goths in their best make-up and outfits) and a Friend of the small but world class Dulwich Picture Gallery (this first British public gallery happens to be a short walk away from my home) and I would like to do more to bring local history enthusiasts (and even local Councils) into our GLAM programme as part of our mission to preserve all knowledge, including the arcane, for those of us that enjoy finding out more about the worthy, the masses and the notorious who used to live in the same streets as we do now.
2. What motivated you to stand for the board of Wikimedia UK?
- (I got a bit over-enthusiastic writing about governance, I promise my other answers will be shorter.)
- In 2011 I first stood based on friendly separate approaches by Joseph (a retiring director) and Andrew (the Chair at that time) who, I think, recognised that my professional management experience would be useful. My personal commitment came from a late night chat in the pub with London wikimeet regulars Johnbod and Victuallers. The three of us were major Wikipedia contributors but chapter newbies, we were fired up by having a lot of fun helping with GLAM projects, but we agreed that the chapter's number one priority
shouldmust be to become a charity and achieve a massive leap in credibility for all future GLAM partnerships, as well as making a thumping saving on tax on donations. The three of us ran in the 2011 election. John did not make it onto the board but he still went on to do a fantastic job delivering the majority of the leg-work for the charity application while Victuallers (Roger) has given us 12 months of great leadership and enthusiasm as the Chairman.
- This year my primary motivation to stand again, is to realise the larger promise that good governance offers our global movement and I feel responsible to put myself forward as one of the few board candidates with the commitment, personal skills and knowledge to roll up my sleeves and get my hands deep into it. The Wikimedia Foundation has been struggling with the perception of being cast as the hard-ball governance police for chapters. After having the chance to meet and chat a couple of times with the Chair of the WMF board (Ting) and the CEO of the WMF (Sue), I know that they *really* would like some effective alternatives that can prove that the charitable donations are always going to the best possible charitable projects that meet our open knowledge mission. The UK is in an astonishingly good position on governance. A year ago we were being criticised by the management in the WMF, now everyone can see we are well ahead of the pack as the *only* chapter with consistent green lights every single month (even the well managed WMF and German chapter have some yellows). Be assured this is no accident, and has taken hard work and heartache of trustees, volunteers and staff behind the scenes. I have every possible sympathy for fellow chapters that struggle with reporting and achieving credible governance.
- (I think this drifts away from the original question, so I'm de-emphasising it as something that can be skipped; however many readers may be not that well informed about these organizational changes so I think it usefully supplements my answer for those in that position. Please follow the links for independent full details about these new bodies, though you may find that even the source details may be partly draft.)
- The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) that will be established later this year, working hand in hand with the Wikimedia Chapters Association (WCA, to be launched at Wikimania) is a truly wonderful step forward for our movement to become self-governed and side-step the potential issues of chapters being defined by national boundaries. The FDC will ensure all funds, grants and activity plans are reviewed in a global context and the WCA will provide direct help for chapters to assess and plan how they can mature as organizations to manage their own funds, large projects and joint projects transparently and efficiently. The UK has the benefit of rigorous standards for accountability and ethics enforced by the Charities Commission, these external standards have been enormously helpful during our first year as a charity to plan what is important and necessary. Similar standards and advice available for all chapters can only increase public confidence that donated funds will be spent wisely around the planet with accountable and visible charitable outcomes.
- The FDC is a temporary body. Only four chapters are now in a position to do their own payment processing. As one of the four, this means we in the UK benefit from the tax saving boost to our funds. It is my personal aim that by 2014 (the year that the FDC will come under review), the Wikimedia Chapters Association will have been effective enough so that any chapter that has good cause, and the desire, to do their own payment processing, has a maturity improvement plan and credible independent assessments that would make the choice theirs, rather than waiting for bureaucratic permission from a central or "parent" authority.
3. Wikiversity has been set up as a sister project to serve as a platform for Open Educational Resources. Many people feel that it is not really meeting its potential. In light of a serious commitment to education probably emerging from the WMUK Strategic Plan, please name at least one element you feel might help take things forward.
- For those unaware, Leutha has been doing some great practical work with Wikiversity and is a champion of the education side of open knowledge. We have had many happy discussions in the pub, scheming on how to promote and make better use of this project. It is true that Wikiversity has not fulfilled its promise, and for a time became distracted by internal politics. We need a rallying flag to attract new users and turn this side project into a main contender.
- I have suggested before that a well planned and professionally executed series of language courses would make a brilliant vehicle to promote Wikiversity globally. If I go to wikiversity:Topic:French I see a dry text course on the basics of French, which misses the opportunity to have an engaging, well illustrated course, with audio and video helping to flow you through the process. There are lessons to be learned from TEFL principles where language can be taught with almost no assumption of a base language, by relying on video and context. This would enable someone with poor or no English skills who happened to live in a Swahili spoken environment, to have a free chance of picking up life-changing basic French skills (or one of the other popular Indo-European languages in Africa such as Afrikaans, English, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish). If a team were to make such a proposal, I would be a keen supporter for funding professional quality media to make this a launchpad project to boost Wikiversity into becoming major contender on the open education scene.
4. What projects should WMUK pursue over the next five years. Where should we be in five years time? See Counterproposal for some ideas. What's your idea?
- There are plenty of good ideas being punted on the counterproposal discussion. I have already chucked in my own idea of a UK wide intangible heritage initiative to help preserve knowledge about contemporary events, festivals and traditions along with video and audio material. That's pretty big, wonderfully British and delightfully local (esp. if capturing dialects and the various languages used in the UK).
- Five years is a far horizon for us and rapidly becomes science fiction. I would like to see much more support of innovation, even though this brings ethical challenges of partnering with organizations with commercial interests. The Monmouth project is touching the surface of virtualizing the environment and it is not a big step to imagine much more spontaneous use of our open knowledge projects by people just looking around and finding geotagged or pattern matched information that they never expected. We should be talking with, and advising, mobile device retailers to get the most from our projects, from smart phones through to the new generation of wearable displays.
- There is a lot of work going into planning, but I know that a lot more effort is needed to ensure value is added from community consultation on our long term strategic vision. We have yet to try creative scenario planning, and my attempts to push risk management as a wide community consultation exercise is the underpinning of identifying external threats to help determine the most realistic scenarios to consider. With scenarios envisioned, we can then test our how our "portfolio" of services might adapt or grow in these circumstances.
- Our five year plan should not be focused on office growth or fund raising for the sake of it, these are not true strategic goals. Using organic principles we can grow breath-takingly quickly, and must avoid limiting ourselves to a hierarchical empire, but instead see this as our charity supporting a natural stage in how our open movement is realizing itself. Trustees have a duty to seek out opportunities to factor out (or in) parts of our service that would be more effective and efficient to run under the expertise of other charities. Our mission is wider than Wikimedia projects (don't tell the Foundation), and there are many other charities and not for profits in the open knowledge sector that we could partner with in interesting ways. I don't want to drop names here, it would be speculative and sensitive, but stop me in the pub with a diet coke(tm)and I'll talk through some candidates that I think are interesting and some might find challenging. I have no doubt that you can think of partners that I would find challenging too. Exciting times.
5. When Wikimedia UK submits information to the Charity Commission, a parliamentary committee, or another public authority, is it more important to present Wikimedia in a positive light or to answer questions as accurately and completely as possible even when this might cast WMUK, Wikipedia or the individual answering the questions in a negative light?
& 6. If Wikimedia UK submits information to the Charity Commission, a parliamentary committee, or another public authority, and that information subsequently turns out to be inaccurate, incomplete or liable to be interpreted in a manner that places Wikimedia in an overly positive light then what action should WMUK take?
- Hi Peter, your soapboxing questions are a bit obvious. I hope sometime soon you will be able to rejoin us and make positive contributions within our GLAM programme.
- Yes, being accurate is the important thing and making corrections if we make everyday human errors; it is often better to say less rather than say something which may be hard to verify. Please keep in mind the constraints of the audience, launching into a detailed technical 20 minute diatribe about all the faults and flaws of Wikimedia projects, the UK charity or the Foundation to the press, or for a regulatory body who are only interested in certain aspects of what we do, is not always the best way to use our valuable interview time, or the most appropriate way to meet our charitable mission.
- For those that may be unaware of our new governance policies, I personally pushed for our Whistle-blowing Policy to be extended to ensure anyone who felt they had important complaints to raise had an independent and confidential process, that records the issues and ensures prompt action. These procedures have already been applied in practice and I firmly encourage anyone with a complaint to use them, including complaints about our staff, our organization or complaints about the ethical behaviour of trustees. Our policy goes beyond the basic requirements of the Charity Commission or common charity best practice. We are fully committed to seeking out improvement opportunities, assuring ethical behaviour by staff and trustees, and sticking to an open-book policy, given the obvious limitations of personal confidentiality or legal requirements.
7. As the elected representatives will be charity trustees, have they read and understood the legal requirements and obligations of being a charity trustee and have the current trustees brought these obligations to your attention?
- The process is being improved, and I discussed this point during my PQASSO/quality plan review with our expert (Peter Williams) and our CEO Jon Davies earlier this week. Three things that are going to happen to ensure that trustees are committed to goals of the charity and fully aware of their duties and legal obligations:
- All trustees will be required to sign the Trustee Code of Conduct once elected. Though this is, to my mind, non-controversial in content, I would personally recommend any candidate to take time to read and carefully reflect on it. It is in final review, so if you would like to make simple recommendations for improvement to the code, now is a good time.
- All trustees will be strongly encouraged to attend standard charity trustee training within a few weeks of taking their position. Earlier this year I attended a one day course supplied by the charity Community Action Southwark, it cost just fifteen pounds for the day and was tailored for any charity trustee to understand their duties and obligations. Having a chance to speak with a range of other local charities was very helpful for me to understand common best practise for trustees. Even when trustees have been previously trained, it is a jolly good idea to go to refresher courses due to Charity Commission improvement to guidelines and on-going legal changes with regard to the interpretation of Trustee responsibilities (such as the greater expectations of liability in certain areas such as finance or legal matters if the trustee has special professional experience).
- All trustees will be expected to attend the special induction workshop that will be part of the first scheduled board meeting weekend on 16-17 June. Last year our strategy weekend held in June was fantastic for team building, reaching a group view on the Charity Commission requirements, deciding how best to collaborate and communicate with each other, and helped the trustees create our short statement of values and mission.
- By the way 188.8.131.52, with regard to your edit comment, I support the essay HUMAN. So long as anonymity of this type is not being disruptively used to by-pass a block or ban rather than dealing with behavioural problems directly. As a trustee I had no choice but to compromise my anonymity, I do not expect that to apply to our contributors or wider community, and have high regard for those that deal with difficult topics and may rely on anonymity to avoid personal harassment. Please be aware that your anonymity is better protected by having an account rather than using a traceable IP address.
8. The vast majority of Wikimedia UK's activities are undertaken by volunteers, who are the lifeblood of the organisation. How do you think you, as an individual trustee, and the board as a whole can better support those volunteers, especially those who live some distance from the chapter's headquarters in London?
& 9. Given that volunteers conduct so much of the charity's work, perhaps even fulfilling roles that would be fulfilled by paid staff in other organisations, what role do you feel trustees should play in ensuring that, as Wikimedia UK professionalises and its staff expands, volunteers remain at the heart of the charity's activities and actively participate in the running of the organisation?
- Hey, trustees are unpaid volunteers just like everyone else! You might have noticed that 5 out of 7 trustees live outside of London, so we are acutely aware that London is not the be all and end all. When establishing an office we consulted widely and looked hard at all the alternatives, the strongest probably being Bristol (mostly thanks to Steve Virgin putting up a strong argument), however on balance London remains an ideal hub for the majority of our community. I am up for secondary locations and we had offers of free space in Bristol and Milton Keynes that we can take up for local project support. Part of the job descriptions I helped negotiate for our staff includes the requirement to support locations across Britain, and they are all personally interested in travelling more as part of their role. Policy changes can help, and I firmly proposed and persisted with getting per diem payments in place for volunteers, to make it easier for those on fixed incomes to travel and support events. I hope that you have found this a simpler system as an ambassador on our network.
- Harry, you are aware of my complete commitment to seeing Scotland and Wales thrive independently of England (and in the future Ireland and maybe my home country, Cornwall :-) ). I remain disappointed that our community in Scotland is, frankly, limping along. As well as honest discussions and plotting our strategy with key advocates (such as Brian in Edinburgh), I take every opportunity to play the record of diversity and regional support at every board meeting and every event. In comparison, Wales is doing well mainly due to John Cummings' fabulous work with Monmouth Council along with support from committed folks such as Roger Bamkin and Robin Owain. I am fully aware that Monmouth is not Wales and is not the best place to start engaging with the Welsh language, but you cannot doubt the passion of those living in the West have for expanding across Wales. Expansion in any region comes down to one person at a time making a difference, growing their local community and persisting with Wikimeets even when attendance seems slow to start at the beginning.
- I have pressed the flesh in Edinburgh to support Scotland wikimeets and negotiated some early partnerships that have yet to be realized, and would have done more in York had my physical abilities at the time been more reliable. Being the ambassador in various ways is an important part of being a trustee of our charity, and I fully expect trustees to regularly attend Wikimeets and events to be seen, engage and support our community. At the same time, trustees are human, the role of Ambassador does not work well for everyone, and we want a range of trustees on the board with varied skills and who may unfortunately have limitations on mobility, for example, due to professional commitments or health reasons. The most effective ambassadors may well be off the board (in fact I hope that becomes a feature of the coming year), I don't see that as a problem. I have encouraged the board to consider how reasonable day to day budget responsibilities can be delegated to volunteers taking up project roles rather than continuing to rely so heavily on trustees to make these decisions. Personally, I would have little problem with established and trusted volunteers such as yourself having responsibility and authority to make commitments on enough money to decide how your local network of volunteers can be supported by our events budget under the umbrella of our Activities Plan and general policies. I do not want to be spending any more time making the call on whether we can pay £100 for sandwiches at a GLAM event when you understand the budget constraints and what represents value for our charitable funds. I am in the process of re-inventing the GLAM Task Force, these sorts of sub-committees are an effective delegation mechanism for many charities and whether I get re-elected as a trustee or not, this is a topic I will take up at a GLAM social networking event that Daria and I are plotting right now.
10. While I have the utmost respect for our four current staff, only one had an extensive background as a Wikimedian before being employed by the chapter. How important do you think it is that Wikimedia UK seeks to recruit from within the Wikimedia community, and should it try harder to recruit staff who are Wikimedians as it expands?
- Here's my personal commitment - I will always give serious bonus points during recruitment to members of our community in good standing. It's not bias, it is common sense and a critical success factor for our charity. Like you, I feel very strongly on this issue and want to see profound understanding of our community and our movement integrated into our permanent staff.
- Now, as this is between you and me, let's get real. We (the current board) tried gawd-damn ruddy hard to recruit from within our community for the 4 staff positions we now have. I myself ran for the role of Chief Executive, though I understand the advice we had from WM-DE seriously put the recruitment panel off selecting from within the community and they did the right thing to take such advice. Coincidentally I have sat on all recruitment panels since (mainly as I'm in London), and been part of every other final decision for job offers going out. In every case there was no doubt that we had the balance right, absolutely chose the right person, and I just wish more members of our community applied for these jobs.
- With the Office Manager role, the board had long serious and heated discussions and made it a key consideration that Jon needed to be supported not just by someone professionally competent, but a very experienced Wikimedian as the first member of his staff. Of the final six candidates that Jon and I interviewed, two were leading members of our community and one of them was offered the job (and Richard has turned out to be totally excellent, I wish we had his interview on video, not only is he a lovely bloke but if they could see that interview, nobody could doubt his comprehension of our movement or complete personal commitment to our ideals). Of the 343 applications, only a disappointing handful were Wikimedians. We have improved our focus of advertising and the recruitment processes but even when our community allows us to use geonotices, the response is awfully weak in terms of numbers of established Wikimedians applying for these jobs. If you have some smart ideas on how to improve that response, please write to me or Jon, as we want and need to do better.
11. What role do you think Wikimedia UK could play in ensuring that Wikipedia's articles about living people are kept accurate and free of malice?
- Our role is probably most effective in advocacy, outreach and education. Wikimedia UK does not control Wikipedia, but we do represent a significant body of volunteers active on Wikipedia who are eager to discuss improvements and the future of the project. WMUK events, such as conferences, training sessions and edit-a-thons, are ideal for promoting best practice and we are a de-facto voice and face for the press to engage with in the UK.
- Any time there is a bit of a fuss in the UK press about a celebrity unhappy with their Wikipedia article, this is an opportunity to explain how Wikipedia can work well, and honestly explain to the public the areas that need improvement too. Some policies such as WP:BLPPRIVACY are just not widely understood as being available, this is an educational area that we do help with.
12. What are your views on having an optional image filter installed on Wikimedia projects, to enable users to opt out of seeing images they feel are inappropriate?
- Your question is about personal opinion, which I'm happy to share, I can assure you that the current trustees have varied views and my opinions are not so strongly held that I cannot be swayed by grown-up debate or community consensus on these matters.
- I support image filters being available for people to install if they wish. In the context of, say, a concerned parent, it makes more sense to me for such a filter to be generic to the browser rather than just Wikimedia projects.
- I would support better warnings for media that the majority of viewers would consider "not safe for work" on Commons. This may be as simple as the use of a template that moved the image to be lower down the image page and so viewers had plenty of time to realize that this particular image had graphic violent or sexual content and they then had to make a conscious choice to scroll down the page to see more. Commons has weak policies with regard to naming, so often the file name may not be clear that an image has nudity or violence in it.
- I remain concerned that image filters may be mandated and forced on users of our projects in some countries or by some authorities. I would also be concerned that perfectly valid education media is likely to be filtered unless the filter was highly specific.
- I am against the Wikimedia Foundation making an image filter a standard part of the projects or interface, due to serious potential for mandated or forced use for potential censorship. Some authorities do this already, the Wikimedia Foundation needs to be cautious not to directly facilitate such controls.
13. With the current concerns over adult content appearing unfiltered on Wikimedia projects, how would you advise UK schools and youth groups to handle access to Wikimedia sites?
- Most people are unaware of projects such as http://schools-wikipedia.org (Wikipedia Selection for schools) which as it can be pressed to a DVD, is pretty much ideal as an educational resource for computers not connected to the internet. In general, most of the "Junior" Wikipedia projects (not just English) are looking rather dated and revisiting this area might be an interesting part of education sector outreach for WMUK to consider sponsoring.
- When suitable optional filters become available (as above) then I would encourage schools and youth groups to review if these might be an effective precaution for them. I am no expert in this area and as a trustee, I would want to seek feedback from these institutions as to their expectations, advice and their current best practices.
- In the age when every youth has a smart phone and is able to access anything on the internet, I believe it is far more useful to educate young people as to sensible and cautious internet use. WMUK does have a role in helping this aspect of advising how young people can use and contribute to Wikimedia projects safely. In practice, simple steps like welcoming apparently young users with helpful information such as User:Fae/help/young ought to be strongly encouraged.
14. Do you agree with the Wikimedia Foundation board that processes for ascertaining model consent for images taken in private situations need to be improved, and if so, what (if any) role do you think Wikimedia UK should play in this?
- I do agree with the Foundation board's wmf:Resolution:Images of identifiable people. I think you are primarily referring to Wikimedia Commons as you have been lobbying so long and hard on this one, in multiple forums. The Commons community has a real problem balancing Censorship with Photographs of identifiable people and at the moment, as a Commonist myself, I believe we are failing to meet the common sense WMF board resolution by treating requests for deletion by photographers and models in a hostile and legalistic defensive manner rather than with respect and kindness.
- When I was sketching out the first budget underpinning the 2012 Activity Plan, I had a line that included "Commons maturity workshop", it is still in there, just harder to see. It is my intention to coordinate one or more workshops focused on how this critically important international project can be ratcheted up the maturity scale, so that we have appropriate transparency of process, governance and appeal mechanisms and accountability to widely accepted WMF board resolutions and policies of :meta. Considering there are over 10,000,000 media files hosted on commons, the fact that we have fewer than 150 active administrators and just 7 Bureaucrats shows one of the reasons that the community sometimes appears unstable. If through outreach events such the future Wiki Loves Monuments, WMUK can attract more established Wikimedians to consider putting themselves forward as a Commons administrator, this can only be to the good of the project.
15. Would the candidates agree that in this election and elections generally that a high "turnout" of voting members is necessary to give credibility to the final outcome/result and that the most worthy candidates are chosen? Are the candidates aware of what % are usually encountered in WikiMedia elections for board members?
- Hello, Ravinglooney, your question is quite non-controversial, so it seems a shame that someone would set up a single use account to ask it.
- Yes, a high number of people voting would be great, and this must be an ongoing target for our Communications plan to address all members. A higher number would give more credibility to the process. As for "worthy", I'm less sure. If rather than 100 voters we had 10,000, you can imagine that the successful candidates would tend to be smooth politicians able to convince the general public of their key message in an elevator pitch and those community leaders with a grand vision and enthusiasm might find it hard to get a look-in if their comms skills were not up to snuff. Oh, as for the numbers, don't worry, these have been reviewed in excruciating detail in board meetings, as will the implications of turn out from this election in order to drive improvement. By the way, "smooth politician" would tend to exclude someone with strong opinions on Wikimedia projects, hopefully some of you have argued the toss and disagree with me on some project issues; personally I would like to see a diverse set of people with all sorts of opinions on the board as a way better to represent the wider community that supports and benefits from our charity, it may not be smooth or easy but it fits our values.
- The whole area of what membership is for, what the benefits are, and our election process needs revisiting and rethinking. Some folks are almost certain to sign up for membership as a way of donating five quid and feeling good about giving, it is not a surprise that they might not be that interested in voting in our elections. One of my criticisms of using membership as a metric for growth, is that the number is arbitrary. It would be easy to double, quadruple or octuple our membership during the fund raiser, but this does not by itself provide better communication or engagement with our community.
- Let's make a firm commitment. Before the end of the year, we need to re-visit the hustings and election process, along with the constitutional requirements. Becoming a charity and our impressive growth this year means that the processes we have are no longer fit for purpose, and may represent unnecessary risk. I would like to see serious improvement and for this to be in place before the next AGM. I would like to see a realistic and robust system that can cater for thousands of members rather than being designed to be limited to hundreds.
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I am going to answer 2/ and 4/................and 1/ 2/ again, 7/ and 8/. The rest are following, are being conceived.
1. Can't think of any in particular that are a bit boring to state. Stuffy Accountant, but wait, my wife and I run a mobile skittle alley at fetes and shows, got some land with lakes we are allowing to go back to nature (as it should be) and we are contemplating a saffron farm. Is that OK?
2. I believe that I can make a significant contribution to this chapter and the larger entity.:Of course knowledge is power and it empowers people to enable them to achieve their goals, whatever they may be. This organisation is in a unique position to activate this for many millions, its importance cannot be overstated. To be in a position to execute and deliver this promise is the holy grail, obviously I must put myself forward. Compared to my candidates both above and below I am a relatively simple soul but you may find me a useful donk. Unfortunately or fortunately! I have not edited any Wiki subjects yet, am not blessed with academic literacy to the extent we experience on this page but if you will allow me an analogy, if you have been or are an aquarist you have to regularly change the old water with FRESH to keep it healthy. I hope to refresh. I have been looking into the structure of Wikimedia Foundation USA, who of course founded the whole concept originating from Jimmy Wales, as follows:
Three seats elected directly by the Wikimedia community Two seats to be selected by the Wikimedia chapters One Board-appointed "community founder" seat (reserved for Jimmy Wales) Four Board-appointed "specific expertise" seats
Therefore sourcing from outside Wiki is 40%, 4 of the 10 board members. And in this case would mean 3 Bold textat the AGM this Saturday.
3/ Now I dont know anything about this but all I can suggest on a lateral thinking exercise is that maybe Wikimedia should sponsor breakfast schools so that under nourished children are better able to assimilate knowledge in the instruction process.
4. The UK chapter should aim for a doubling of income every year, meaning in year 5 £16 million, which enables it to deliver on its promise and enormous potential by putting words into practice. I am keen to see this develop into a position of influence both nationally and in the global context. I am after negotiating an agreement with Google and Paypal to encourage charitable contributions to the cause via their significant influence and credentials.
Having time to consider I think we need to persuade well known figures/personalities to climb on board to act as honorary members to arms of the chapter e.g. David Attenborough, Brian Cox, Joanna Lumley, Prince Charles (not necessarily in that order) and many more.
This would inspire contribution from the public.
5/ & 6/ I glean from this as basically the same question.
It is always open to danger this public position. Such as things are. You have to prepare yourself for controversy and politically activated responses and that red tape. All I can say is you stand and fight if its negative and conquer and reap if its positive, but you aim to win.
7. Oh yes, 184.108.40.206, these were made clear by Wikimedia UK in their initial invite email.
Board members have certain legal duties and responsibilities, which include:
To act only within the powers given to them by the Articles of Association
- To act in good faith and with integrity to promote the success of the chapter in achieving its purposes, with regard, where necessary to long term effects and the interests of employees, the community, the environment, relations with suppliers and customers, standards of business conduct and fair acting between members of the chapter
- To use the chapter's resources reasonably and only for the promotion of its purposes
- To exercise independent judgement and reasonable care, skill and diligence and consider getting external professional advice on all matters where there may be material risk to the chapter, or where the board members may be in breach of their duties
- To avoid conflicts of interest, declare them where necessary in accordance with applicable law and not to accept benefits from third parties where these may give rise to a conflict of interest
- To avoid undertaking activities that might place the chapter's assets or reputation at undue risk, ensure that the chapter remains solvent.
In addition, the chapter's Board members are personally required to ensure that the chapter complies with its other legal duties such as those arising from being an employer and its reporting obligations to Companies House and the tax authorities.
To be eligible to act as a Board member, a person must be: 
- A member of the chapter, or nominated by a member
- 16 years old or over
- prepared to publicly disclose their real name, date of birth, and the names of any other companies they are the director of. Note that residential addresses are no longer disclosable.
- not an undischarged bankrupt, a person whose estate has been "sequestrated", who has made an undischarged arrangement with creditors or has granted a trust deed in favour of their creditors
- not disqualified from acting as a company director or removed as a charity trustee by the Charity Commission, the High Court or the Court of Session (Scotland)
- not convicted of any offence involving deception or dishonesty which is not a "spent" conviction - even if it was not in the UK
I believe these are fairly self-explanatory!
8. Money, that is what volunteers need to make it happen. See my answer to 4/.
With all the enthusiasm and good intentions in the world unfortunately you still need this to pay expenses/costs of those involved to get their "job" done. PERIOD.
9/ & 10/
Questions from the same source appearing to encourage positions from in house ranks.
See my final answer in 2/ above. The best choice comes from the widest selection and after that the successful candidates will hopefully flourish in the environment they are suited to and become part of the whole.
Just copying from 2/ above to avoid scrolling up the page:
"Unfortunately or fortunately! I have not edited any Wiki subjects yet, am not blessed with academic literacy to the extent we experience on this page but if you will allow me an analogy, if you have been or are an aquarist you have to regularly change the old water with FRESH to keep it healthy. I hope to refresh. I have been looking into the structure of Wikimedia Foundation USA, who of course founded the whole concept originating from Jimmy Wales, as follows:
Three seats elected directly by the Wikimedia community Two seats to be selected by the Wikimedia chapters One Board-appointed "community founder" seat (reserved for Jimmy Wales) Four Board-appointed "specific expertise" seats
Therefore sourcing from outside Wiki is 40%, 4 of the 10 board members.And in this case would mean 3 Bold textat the AGM this Saturday."
Be careful about introverted subjective appointments, you don't want any inbreeding do you? for goodness sake...in this FREE AND OPEN WORLD, please advise?
11/ to 14/
Questions with the same concern, a degree of censorship evident in the implication. The trouble with sanitation is it opens you up to more infection, makes you soft, you know what I mean?
Sorry, its a NO, that's how FREE and OPEN operates otherwise why not have a witch hunt and the inquisition and back pedal to the good old bad old days?
Maybe we should all pack our bags and join the Illuminati.
15/ So what would a high turnout be? 60%?? I believe it is about 15% or so in this case. Hopefully we can do better than this in a few days time. It is clear that a higher turnout and vote % has got to be the preferred scenario but as others suggest it has not affected quality in this case! But, as the organisation has already grown at an accelerated rate the existing customs and structure will obviously need review and a more appropriate setup should be deployed. One of the big problems with success is it can grow at an exponential rate and needs to be managed very carefully to avoid instability.
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2. Shortest answer: Seddon told me I ought to be interested at GLAM-WIKI 2010. Short answer: when I attended the 2011 Board Interest Day I saw how my skills might be useful, and I can rarely resist trying to be useful. Longer answer: cf nomination statement.
3. The future of OER over the next few years is going to be very interesting, and we will probably have a number of dimensions: joining up our community and content with other OER producers in the academic sector; persuading them to release the fruits of their work under really open licenses with no -NC restriction; and developing our own OERs, probably in partnerships. What platform we use for that last category I'm not sure. Wikiversity has its strengths, but a structured educational course needs more demanding technical infrastructure than MediaWiki provides. If you want to integrate feedback and assessment, e.g. a test that must be completed before the resource will advance to the next page, or so on, then you need a tool like Moodle, not MediaWiki. Equally, if what someone's looking for is a document where they can learn all about the subject, Wikipedia provides it very well. Wikiversity currently sits between those two stools. Exactly what the way forward is, I'm not sure, but that's how I'd approach it!
4. (will come back to this one).
5/6. Facts are facts and they must always be accurate, particularly when relating to our obligations as a charity. However, where a trustee offers an opinion or viewpoint on behalf of the charity or our community, they have a duty to present a positive case for our work. Trustees must be able to articulate the vision of the Wikimedia movement to the press, to Parliament, to donors, to partner organisations, and to our members. There is a real risk that, with Wikipedia's vital emphasis on the Neutral Point of View, we become so neutral that we fail to take our own side in an argument. We can't let that happen. We have an incredible story to tell and we must tell it.
7. Hello 77.100! Yes, I have spent a great deal of time on the Charity Commission's website for one reason or another over the last year and I am familiar with the duties of being a trustee. In particular, the role of trustee does not involve running projects, and as the organisation continues to develop I think there will be a bigger distinction between trustees, and volunteers running outreach projects, even large and serious ones.
8 and 9. Two key things here:
- We need to empower and develop volunteers. At the moment we just go to people and say "You're empowered" - which works reasonably well given the immense commitment of most Wikipedians, but we can do far better. We need to employ a mixture of talent-spotting, experience-sharing and formal training so that we are finding people, keeping them up to date with what is going on, and complementing their passion and enthusiasm with skills about how to share our message. I'm really excited by our "Train the Trainer" initiative, which I think is a great example of what we need to do - there are plenty of people who could run Wikimedia training sessions, but would be more confident and effective with some training and assessment.
- We need to have a clearer understanding of how a volunteer leading a project differs from a Trustee. As things stand, 90% of our outreach work is led by a board member, and most of the budgets for it are also held by board members. The fact that we have trustees running so many programmes is great, but the role of a trustee is completely different. We will soon find that we have volunteers who aren't on the board but are nevertheless leading our work in one direction or another and, quite possibly, have authority over part of our budget. We need to clarify this and have systems to support it.
10. I think candidates from within the community will always have an advantage, and that we should never appoint anyone unless we are sure they will thrive in the context we work in. However, I think it's also very important that we don't close ranks and stop letting new people in. Fundamentally we are about empowering people, not about empowering people who already have thousands of edits to Wikimedia projects (and this also applies to volunteers, not just staff!).
11. I don't believe we have a special role to play in this case. There are procedures in place involving the Wikimedia Foundation and the editing community, and they should be followed.
12. I think this is a good idea. I have expressed the view before that I don't think the Wikimedia Foundation has handled the proposal to introduce an image filter very well, and I haven't seen any great examples of how one would work with the current infrastructure. However, I think the principle of it is sound.
13. I would advise schools and youth groups to use Wikipedia in a structured manner and with a level of adult supervision appropriate to the age of the students.
14. Yes, I am concerned that Wikimedia Commons doesn't have a particularly good system of recording the consent of image subjects, and share the Foundation's concern in this regard.
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1. Groups and communities: I've been a member of a teacher's trades union since 1973; a member of a political party since 1975; a member of an exam board since 1981; a member of SEA since 1982; and an instructor for SAA since 1989. I've held office, either regional or national, in each of them. I have campaigned against racism for many years with the ANL. Over the last ten years, I've been involved with the work of a charity in Wolverhampton that seeks to help unemployed back into work, and am now Chair of its Board of Trustees. In the last twelve months, I've become part of group of Wikimedians who meet regularly in the North-West and the Midlands.
2. Motivation: I have some skills and experience, and as I am about to (semi-)retire, I will have more time to devote to good causes. I believe Wikimedia UK to be a cause that I could help.
3. Wikiversity: Wikimedia projects only work when a large numbers of editors are involved in them. The key element in the five-year plan to take Wikiversity forward is "Membership activities - Higher Education" where it is envisaged that our membership in UK universities will be expanded. Nothing else will make much difference until we have engaged a sufficient number of university personnel who are sympathetic to our aims.
4. In five years time: Have a look at Harry's comments. I've done a lot of work with Harry and I share his priorities and enthusiasms. I want to see us out in the communities doing things - I'll cheerfully admit that I have little interest in the financial side of the chapter, but I'm very keen to work with schools, universities and local authorities to share some of the goodness of open educational resources. I'll also admit I disagree fundamentally with Charles (Comments by Charles Matthews) as I think that wiki-meetups are the seed-corn of creating networks of active Wikimedians and deserve to be recognised, encouraged, and expanded by WMUK as much as any other activity. The plan has a huge number of targets and I don't expect us to achieve each and every one; but - elected or not - I want to be doing my utmost over the coming five years to hit and exceed the education and training targets that are there. If I were to add a target, I'd like to see us establish one or more regional offices within 2-3 years, a firmer commitment than that at present offered in the "Staffing" section of the plan.
5. Submitting information 1: As I would think that answering questions accurately and completely would only cast the submitter in a positive light, I can't see that the dichotomy presented in the question represents any real scenario.
6. Submitting information 2: If it's inaccurate, correct it; if it's incomplete, finish it; and if some people misinterpret it, then stop worrying so much about what those people think.
7. Trustees' obligations: I've been a trustee of one charity or another, more or less continuously, since 1981, so I've tried to keep up with the legal requirements and obligations as best I can. I'd naturally be happy to take part in a refresher course as part of induction training, if I were elected.
8. Supporting volunteers: There is a huge amount of work that could be done to promote WMUK's activities throughout the country, and I would argue that the most significant step would be to increase the number of volunteers willing and able to help. To do that, I think it's important to meet other Wikimedians, and involve them in staffing local events. I've been concentrating my efforts along part of the "M6 corridor", from Coventry to Liverpool so far, and I'd like to see created a large network of UK Wikimedians whom we can call on - perhaps even begin an informal regional structure. Not everyone has the mobility or money to be able to contribute as much as they would wish, and I would like to see the board not only providing a system to cover expenses as simply as possible (particularly for students), but also by setting the example of involving themselves as much as possible in their local events. The present board has a good record with the latter, and is improving with the former.
9. Keeping volunteers central to activities: I don't see a danger here, principally because I perceive a closeness and understanding between the active volunteers and the office staff. It was a pleasure to meet Jon and Daria when they came to recent social events, and Richard is well-known to many anyway. I believe that the board will gradually expand its "co-ordinators" (for want of a better word), volunteers who take responsibility for heading project areas. Initially, board members take on those roles in conjunction with a member of staff, but as WMUK matures, I expect small groups of interested volunteers to associate and spread the burden. There is a sub-committee model of school governorship that would bear study, although I don't feel there is yet the need for such formal structures to be in place. Perhaps at some time in the future, our lifeblood will be a large base of active volunteers, with devolved responsibilities and budgets, working across multiple regions and all project areas. I'd like to be part of making sure that happens.
10. Staff recruitment: While I think that all other things being equal, I'd prefer us to employ experienced Wikimedians, I don't think that it's a priority. In HR terms, it's a 'desirable', rather than an 'essential' part of the person specification. Wiki-culture and skills are things that can be learned, and I see our staff rapidly becoming more au fait with what is entailed. Alright, so it took me an hour to unpick Jon's pdf draft plan and convert it into a wiki-table, but next time, he'll be more comfortable with tables, or will post a .odt version that will convert more easily. I'll pay that price in exchange for the skills and good nature that Jon has brought to the job.
11-14. Preamble: I do not believe it is part of WMUK's function to take stances on contested issues, but I do think there is a place for us to facilitate debate without taking sides, and to encourage and spread best practice where consensus is clear. I'm quite happy to disclose my own opinions where these questions require it, but I must make it clear that if elected I would see my duty as a trustee as overriding my personal views. Please read my following answers bearing that in mind.
11. BLP: WMUK could host or enable outreach events which included helping editors to understand Wikipedia's present policies for biographies of living persons. From a personal perspective, whenever I am involved in teaching new editors, I always stress the importance of quality sources. Given the opportunity, I'd be more than happy to extend that to cover BLP sourcing, which though its greater rigour, provides a model of best practice for other articles as well.
12. Image filters: Personally, I have a great interest in technological solutions to difficult problems, so the concept of an image filter attracts me. I have followed much of the debate and can understand the argument that a filter might empower censorship, and that the question of who decides where to apply a filter remains open. Nevertheless, I would want to be sensitive to the concerns of parents (my kids are in their 20s, so it's a bit late for me) who quite rightly may wish not to expose their children to some images. On balance, I would be in favour of making an optional image filter available to WMF projects.
Having said that, Internet Explorer has "Content Advisor", which allows parental controls for websites in the areas of language, nudity, sex, and violence. Also I've read of technology that can 'scan' an image as it is downloading and - based on the proportion of flesh tones, for example - offer to block it. I expect that in the future, browsers (or add-ons) themselves will be smart enough to respect an image policy and shift the responsibility onto the client, rather than placing the burden on the server, which I would see as being a preferable state of affairs.
13. Schools and youth groups: All schools and groups which have minors in their charge should already have agreed policies in place dealing with web content, and this is one area where I feel strongly that the onus must be on the responsible bodies to ensure the safety of children in their care. Local Education Authorities will have model policies that give better guidance than I could presume to offer as an individual. Having said that, WMUK would be well-advised to inform its trainers of the need to acquaint themselves with, and respect local policies on web content, whenever they are working with minors.
14. Images of identifiable people: The WMF Board is properly concerned about the privacy issues concerning images of identifiable people, and I personally agree with the measures outlined in their three bullet points. I feel that the WMUK Board could endorse the resolution, while noting the difficulty WMUK would have in attempting to directly influence its implementation. As before, WMUK can help disseminate best practice in this area, as well as being a central UK resource, able to research the legal implications for editors who take photographs in the UK. We already host content useful to UK Wikimedians, and if a model consent form were agreed for UK use, then WMUK would be the obvious repository.
15. Necessity of high turnout: A high turnout is desirable, but not necessary. Last year, only about 15% of eligible members voted, and yet I would content that seven very worthy candidates were elected - you only have to look at WMUK's accomplishments over the preceding twelve months to confirm that.
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Answers[edit | edit source]
1) (What groups...) I have a few memberships, but am not active in anything except WMUK, and Wikimedian stuff in general.
2) (motivation ...) I was asked to run last year, after, like much of the current board, becoming active in WMUK through Liam Wyatt's period as Wikipedia-in-residence at the British Museum, which fitted very well with my existing areas of editing. I was not elected then (by one vote), but was asked to progress the Registered Charity application with Steve Virgin, which has kept me in touch with some areas of the board's work. Just recently I agreed to assist with the Treasurer's role (off the board), and have agreed that I would be ready to act as Treasurer if elected and then selected as that (or equally, support other suitable candidates). I have attended some board meetings and feel I would be able to make a positive contribution, in particular in the areas mentioned in my statement.
3) (Wikiversity ...) That is probably a question I should be asking you, in fact I think I have in the past! I imagine that, unlike other WMF projects, Wikiversity has strong open content competitors, and seems to be losing to them. Most of the content seems to be (incomplete) course materials and plans; I'm slightly surprised it isn't used more to write up research in an easy and informal setting. Might this be because "anybody can edit"? Would it be worth considering dropping this for the project, or some pages?
4) (5 year plan) I've commented, so far briefly, on Draft 2 of the plan. I like some elements of the counter-proposal, but not others. The experience of other countries suggests that really massive scaling-up of membership and activities is not typical. Our base of active volunteers is already stretched, certainly in London, and I suspect will continue to constrain growth. We haven't yet found reliable and repeatable ways of expanding this base, which needs to be our top priority.
5 & 6) (Peter Cohen soapbox) I think the answers to these are fairly obvious, and well answered by others.
7) (Trustee duties) I've read most of the good material on the CC website, and believe I know the key points. I have had trustee training as a pension fund trustee, and some training in my professional qualification, and would do more charity-specific training if elected. I think all trustees should have a very good reason for not doing this.
8) (Supporting volunteers) I think the board have done a generally good job supporting volunteers over the last year, with reasonable requests always answered positively AFAIK, and the two latest office positions will help further here within their special areas of expertise. But our active volunteers are certainly stretched, and the most important way they can be helped is by expanding their numbers to spread the load - on which, see 4) above. The board has plans to formalize procedures for volunteers who represent WMUK & may hold budgets, which is good. Insurance is being looked at, also good.
9) (Keeping volunteers at the heart...) At the moment I think the very open way we conduct affairs, and the volunteer policy, are sufficient to ensure this. This is partly because we are still a small organization, and because the board are themselves all very active - compare & contrast with WMF. The bigger we get, and the more complex our activities, the harder it will be to keep the current situation, and the board needs to be alert to this.
10) (recruitment) There is always going to be a balance between specific skills required and the importance of the office understanding the movement. The board has always advertised openings to the community, and given Wikimedian experience as a "desirable", and certainly should continue to do so - for some potential roles it will be essential.
11) (Biographies of living persons) While being supportive of the general efforts going on, as we are, I don't believe it is the role of chapters to get directly involved in the running or policy of the projects; that should be left to the wider community, of which our membership is of course still a minority in the UK.
12) (Image filter) This is certainly not a matter the chapter should take a position on, but I have personally supported an image filter option in various discussions & RFCs on English Wikipedia.
13) (Schools etc) With a degree of caution, and safeguards & filters etc, like the rest of the internet.
14) (Model consent) I haven't looked into this issue, but WMF are probably right. Unless there are special UK legal aspects to the question, I don't think it is WMUK's role to take a position here.
15 (Voting %...) Last year's voting %, 33 votes cast on a membership then I think around 200, was pretty poor, and especially disappointing in terms of the small number of votes made online (not declared, but from memory only around 5). I certainly hope we will do a lot better this time, but as with most elections, a valid result is a valid result. This brings in wider questions of communication with the membership, which should be much improved by the 2013 AGM.
Answers[edit | edit source]
1. Groups & Communities:
- the Creative Commons community and I am the Public Lead for Creative Commons UK.
- GilrGeeks networks in the North of England both in Newcastle and Leeds and have spoken at events at both networks.
- the advisory board of Furtherfield which is a media arts organisation that provides artists with both virtual and physical space to create,collaborate & exhibit art.
- Open Rights Group as a supporter member
- Have good relationship with a few people at JISC who are involved in the UKOER projects and who have been very supportive of CCUK
2. Motivations for standing
I, in common with most people, relish the opportunity to work with subject areas and people that I find interesting. Wikimedia UK and Wikipedia are of huge interest to me as it provides access to a wealth of knowledge and the legal sharing enabled by the open licensing. Education, open licensing of content are areas of great interest to me and the opportunity to do more in this area is an incentive. If I were to be successful in this election, I think the two roles within CCUK and WMUK could pose interesting opportunities for both projects. I think there are many alignments of the aims of the two projects. I am of course mindful of the duties of Trustees and Directors in relation to any conflicts of interest should they ever arise and am well versed in the requirements in relation to any such conflicts.
My motivation is also shaped by an honest assessment of whether and in what way I may be useful to the WMUK project. I attended the board meeting in February in London where some of the prospective candidates were invited to attend. Having gained a better understanding of what would be involved in this role, I sincerely believe I could be useful in a number of ways to WMUK. My skills and experience arise from a combination of working in the legal field, in education; and being a director of a small company, together with the experience of working as a volunteer for Creative Commons UK. The diverse range of organisations that I have worked with includes government departments, cultural organisations, educationalists and training professionals. I consider this experience would enable me to play a useful role in helping WMUK to achieve its aims.
3. Wikiversity and OER aims of WMUK
The way people learn has and is continuing to change. People consume, curate, collaborate and share content in a dispersed manner. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a good example of this trend. e.g. The much publicised Stanford’s course on AI in 2011 and subsequent VC backed start-ups such as Udacity and Coursera are also notable. I am not therefore convinced that Wikiversity is the best way to progress WMUK’s commitments to education. WMUK’s role in achieving its aims in relation to open education should involve raising awareness and training users and contributors of open content, on how to legally reuse open content, and how to contribute to its creation and propagation. Some of the projects that WMUK has in its plan should offer opportunities to do that. I think pre-16 education sector in particular would be useful to target for this purpose.
4. Projects for WMUK over the next five years and where would WMUK be in five years time.
Expert Outreach Projects like the Cancer Research UK workshops that took place in 2011 are a fantastic idea. I would like to see projects of that nature repeated with other charities and perhaps aligned with awareness months or days relating to the charities. I think these types of events appear to satisfy many of the aims of WMUK: including converting readers to editors, attracting editors from underrepresented groups such as women etc. and adding valuable content.
CC+ for GLAMs I would also like to see more cultural organisations use open licences for their digital content. An idea that we at CCUK have started to discuss with some of the key GLAMs in the UK is a the CC+ protocol which is a way of pairing up CC licensed content with additional terms, drafted by the licensor, which provide additional permissions beyond the scope of the CC licence. For e.g. a GLAM would make available digital images with a CC Attribution Sharealike licence (thereby usable by Wikimedia Commons) with a link through to commercial terms which provide for higher resolution images which does not impose the Sharealike obligation. This would satisfy the pressures that GLAMs face in revenue generation but also contribute to the commons.
Education WMUK has a key role to play in continuing to increase awareness of open content and open licensing in the education sectors: schools, FE and HEIs. Although there are concentrated pockets of awareness and engagement amongst HEIs, queries that are received by CCUK suggests that general awareness about copyright and open content is not particularly high. Schools appear to have even less engagement in the OER movement so should be targetted.
WMUK should also plan events to convert female readers to editors. It is encouraging to see that WMUK is already addressing this by events with the GirlGeeks Dinners.
It's always difficult to project the status of an organisation in five years time. What I would like to see is an expanded organisation in terms of reach across the UK regions, in terms of diversity of editors and community members, and in terms of more target groups such as schools, universities, GLAMs, local authorities been actively involved in the community. I would like to think the user interface of Wikipedia is going to be much more appealing to use and thereby removing some of the possible barriers to use.
5. & 6.
In relation to Q 5 & 6 my response is that the WMUK’s legal obligations, if any, should always take precedence over any PR aims or consequences. Bearing in mind the importance of the legal obligations, it should still be possible to communicate with external bodies in a well-informed and reasoned manner which should not be detrimental to the Foundation or WMUK. If there is a discrepancy which comes to light as in Q 6, the CE, Communications Organiser and the Trustees should agree what the best way forward should be and how any communication should be managed and by whom. All this would be dictated by the nature and extent of the inaccuracy. Specialist advice should be sought without delay if it becomes necessary.
7. Legal Obligations of Trustees
I have previously advised organisations who were trying to decide whether they should apply for Charity status and so am aware of the legal duties of Trustees in general terms although I can’t claim to be a charity law specialist. There is an abundance of useful and reliable resources available online for reference, including plenty to help you recognise when to seek specialist advice.
8. Better support of volunteers esp non-London based volunteers
I think most people realise that without the support and considerable efforts of the volunteers, organisations such as Wikimedia would come to a halt. Regular and open communication with the community is the obvious key to maintaining the relationship necessary to allow the Chapter to thrive and achieve its aims. Volunteers who have the interest, expertise and desire to run Wikimedia UK projects locally should be empowered and supported to do so. This would avoid the Chapter activities becoming too London focused and mitigate any risks of regional wikimedians becoming disenchanted with its aims, It would also best use the the wider talent pool for the good of the Chapter. I live in North Yorkshire and so appreciate the importance of this issue.
The Wikimedia Strategic Plan suggests a volunteers’ recognition programme which I think is a great ideas as it would provide volunteers with the authority of being a ‘recognised volunteer’ of WMUK in their dealings with third parties and showcase their achievements which will be useful learning and incentive for newer volunteers joining the community.
9. Volunteers remaining at heart of WMUK
See response to 8 – in summary communication, empowerment, support and recognition of volunteers and their contributions are all key to making the best use of and rewarding the expertise, energy and commitment of volunteers.
10. Recruitment and the community
If all roles are internally and externally advertised and follow commonly accepted recruitment processes, there should be no barriers to community members and non-members applying for the roles. If experience thus far suggests there appears to be factors preventing greater numbers of community members applying for roles then this needs further investigation. Being a member of the community may be an advantage for certain roles and this would become apparent during recruitment: in the application and interview process. If a person who is a not a member of the community has the right skills, experience and zest for a particular role I would not see any problems in them securing the role just because they were not currently from the community. I think recruiting the right person for a role is the key to achieving the aims of WMUK. There are risks to any organisation if it becomes too insular. A good balance of people from diverse backgrounds is likely to yield new and unexpected opportunities and developments.
11. Accuracy about living people
As Wikipedia already has systems in place to address this I am assuming that WMUK can’t introduce additional systems independently of the Wikimedia Foundation.
12. Optional image filters
Although this was a recommendation to the Foundation, I would need to learn more about how much of a demand, amongst users, there is currently, for this, and how much of an investment of resources would be needed to bring this about, before being able to offer a definite view. But from what is known an optional filter sounds like an interesting idea.
13. Adult content and schools & youth groups
I don't think Wikimedia sites are any different to any other site in respect of the advice to schools and youth groups. I would advise they use it in relation to the learning outcomes with appropriate supervision and ground rules for the pupils and young people.
14. Model consent for images in private situations
Where photos are taken in private situations there should be a model consent form and if the processes in ascertaining the consents are not currently as effective as it should be, WMUK could draft a suitable draft process document for sharing with the community and the Foundation for review.
15. Turnout at elections There are two issues here: whether turnout is sufficient to have a legitimate result in accordance with the rules of WMUK's constitution and whether the turnout is sufficiently high to be indicative of an engaged and participatory community. If an election is legitimate the results have to be accepted irrespective of a low turnout. It is always desirable to have a high turnout at elections as organisations such as WMUK are very dependant on its members and volunteers. The reasons for not attending the AGMs may be varied and may not always be an indication of a lack of engagement. It may be useful to learn more about why members choose not to attend and what may incentivise them to attend. It is in everyone's interests to strive to increase turnout and the responsibility of the Board and Staff to do so.
Answers[edit | edit source]
(First of all apologies for this very late response to the questions. I have actually been considering withdrawing from the elections because of the pressures of previous commitments. Having put myself forward though, I feel obliged to at least let Wikimedians know who I am and what I'm about. Perhaps it may be best to think of me as a prospective representative for the future.)
1.What different groups and communities are you part of? --Filceolaire (talk) 08:22, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
The first group/community I recognize is my family - and this despite my wife and I being separated and probably destined to be divorced. We have two children (3 and 7 years old) and I am a hands-on dad, doing school rounds, volunteering at my 7 year-old's school and routine weekend custody chores.
My second major commitment (and probably a key contributor to my unfortunate marital status) is to the organization I founded, Intelek International (www.intelek.net), a holistic communications and education concern. Intelek is currently registered as a sole proprietorship in the UK but has a growing number of associates in England, the US, the Caribbean and beyond, who affiliate themselves with the organization through its Intelek Domino Effect Associates (IDEAs) project.
A third major group/community commitment is to Allvoices.com, the US-based citizen journalism blog I serve as an anchor. Intelek and Allvoices are currently collaborating on the IDEAs project.
My fourth major group/community commitment is to colleagues of my current "regular" employer Domino's Pizza. I recently launched a rather ambitious and risky public reformational project intended to improve conditions of employment for myself and my colleagues and our enhance Domino's capacity to offer the highest level of service its customers. The project was launched with a blog on the Allvoices.com website.
I'm also a member of Norwich Justice and Peace (NJ&P), one of a number of groups affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church's Justice and Peace Commission in Norfolk. I'm not as actively involved in NJ&P as I used to be. These days I mainly attend a devotional meeting organized by one of its members - the closest I come to church attendance. I retain some of the evangelical Pentecostal background that was my introduction to the pofound Christo-centric spirituality I now embrace but I am also profoundly skeptical about organized religion.
I'm also a member of Chapelfield Cricket Club which I serve mainly as a pace bowler (medium-fast), though I do have a highest batting score of 53...or is it 49? I am the only non-Muslim on the team (not intended to sound like "the only gay in the village" but I uppose there are parallels).
I was a member of Norfolk and Norwich Racial Equality Commission until it was dissolved in 2011.
2. What motivated you to stand for the board of Wikimedia UK? My belief in the Wikipedia concept of open access to knowledge.
3. Wikiversity has been set up as a sister project to serve as a platform for Open Educational Resources. Many people feel that it is not really meeting its potential. In light of a serious commitment to education probably emerging from the WMUK Strategic Plan, please name at least one element you feel might help take things forward.
Apologies again. I have not studied this issue enough to offer any serious suggestions.
4. What projects should WMUK pursue over the next five years. Where should we be in five years time? See Talk:Draft 2012 Five Year Plan/Counterproposal for some ideas. What's your idea? --Filceolaire (talk) 21:44, 19 April 2012 (UTC)
Off the top of my head, I'd like the organization to accelerate its global understanding of the evolution of knowledge, away from the Eurocentric focus of knowledge that retards the progress of many mainstream communications and educational organizations and institutions.
5. When Wikimedia UK submits information to the Charity Commission, a parliamentary committee, or another public authority, is it more important to present Wikimedia in a positive light or to answer questions as accurately and completely as possible even when this might cast WMUK, Wikipedia or the individual answering the questions in a negative light? --Peter cohen (talk) 16:50, 21 April 2012 (UTC) Accuracy is foremost.
6. If Wikimedia UK submits information to the Charity Commission, a parliamentary committee, or another public authority, and that information subsequently turns out to be inaccurate, incomplete or liable to be interpreted in a manner that places Wikimedia in an overly positive light then what action should WMUK take? --Peter cohen (talk) 16:50, 21 April 2012 (UTC) Correct the inaccuracy; acknowledge Wikimedia's fallibility.
7. As the elected representatives will be charity trustees, have they read and understood the legal requirements and obligations of being a charity trustee and have the current trustees brought these obligations to your attention? --220.127.116.11 07:43, 27 April 2012 (UTC) I have. They have.
8. The vast majority of Wikimedia UK's activities are undertaken by volunteers, who are the lifeblood of the organisation. How do you think you, as an individual trustee, and the board as a whole can better support those volunteers, especially those who live some distance from the chapter's headquarters in London? --Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 19:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC) Off the top of my head, a regular newsletter sharing relevant information with volunteers and occasional personal visits by board members to the volunteers' locale could go some way to achieving this end.
9. Given that volunteers conduct so much of the charity's work, perhaps even fulfilling roles that would be fulfilled by paid staff in other organisations, what role do you feel trustees should play in ensuring that, as Wikimedia UK professionalises and its staff expands, volunteers remain at the heart of the charity's activities and actively participate in the running of the organisation? --Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 19:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC) (see preceding)
10. While I have the utmost respect for our four current staff, only one had an extensive background as a Wikimedian before being employed by the chapter. How important do you think it is that Wikimedia UK seeks to recruit from within the Wikimedia community, and should it try harder to recruit staff who are Wikimedians as it expands? --Harry Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 19:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC) I think this is very important. I feel my own ignorance of the Wikimedia processes and protocols is a liability and am working to expand my knowledge thereof.
11. What role do you think Wikimedia UK could play in ensuring that Wikipedia's articles about living people are kept accurate and free of malice? This is quite a challenge I expect. And if I knew what checks adbalances are currently in place, I would be better qualified to make a suggestion or two. I'm working on it (see preceding answer).
12. What are your views on having an optional image filter installed on Wikimedia projects, to enable users to opt out of seeing images they feel are inappropriate? ----Andreas JN 23:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC) Sounds like a good thing. What are the constraints - costs, maintenance, ideological or technological compatibility issues,..?
13. With the current concerns over adult (up to R18 certificate and equivalent) content appearing unfiltered on Wikimedia projects, how would you advise UK schools and youth groups to handle access to Wikimedia sites? ----Andreas JN 23:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC) Off the top of my head, cautiously.
14. Do you agree with the Wikimedia Foundation board () that processes for ascertaining model consent for images taken in private situations need to be improved, and if so, what (if any) role do you think Wikimedia UK should play in this? ----Andreas JN 23:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC) This sounds like a reasonable suggestion but I don't feel I know enough about the issues to comment further.
15. Would the candidates agree that in this election and elections generally that a high "turnout" of voting members is necessary to give credibility to the final outcome/result and that the most worthy candidates are chosen? Are the candidates aware of what % are usually encountered in WikiMedia elections for board members? --Ravinglooney (talk) 18:35, 8 May 2012 (UTC) I believe strongly in high member participation in elections. I don't know what the average voter turn-out is for UK Wikimedians but wold urge that everything be done to ensure maximal voter participation. Is there a facility for members to vote from remote locations? Is it possible to have AGMs broadcasted as "webinars". I'm particularly keen to know this as my own attendance at the AGM this weekend now seems in doubt.
Answers[edit | edit source]
- I'm a member of the committee of my local branch of Association of Accounting Technicians. I have a various time attended events of Lincoln Chinese Community Association, Humberside Chinese Association, and recently a couple of Lincoln Alternative LGBT Network meetings. In the past, I have also been member of and or active in various sport, political, religious, ethnic, educational, scientific and language groups, clubs or charities.
- I have long been interested in the UK Wikimedia community, having been one of a number who submitted a request for membership of WMUKv1 in a hope of getting things moving along. After the announcement of the winding up of Wiki Educational Resources Ltd., I decided my knowledge, skills, experience and enthusiasm would be useful towards establishing of the new chapter and hence stood for the initial board. Being once again in a position to contribute to the community, I have decided to once again stand for the board of Wikimedia UK.
- Unfortunately, there are a number of difficulties facing Wikiversity. For any collaborative project to succeed requires sufficient number of participants in terms of both providers and users. To achieve its goals, better technical infrastructure would need to be in place. For example, websites like Coursera and Udacity have show how things can be done differently while delivering multimedia learning courses with some form of automated assessment to allow a student in checking their understanding of the material. It should be noted that while supporting and utilising projects of Wikimedia Foundation to enable access of open content is very much within the objects of Wikimedia UK, it is not the objects of the charity to only use WMF projects. If a better platform to deliver open educational resources is available, then it would be the duties of board to consider utilising it.
- As stated in my candidate statement, it is important that not only do we expand on the various projects we do, but to diversify to the rest of the United Kingdom. When we are diversified throughout the country, we would be able to fulfil our goals of promoting and supporting the widest possible public access to, use of and contribution to open content. On a similar point to diversifying geographically, it is important for any successful organisation whether charitable or profit making not to rely too heavily on a single stream of income. As such, it is important for Wikimedia UK to investigate possible alternative income streams so that we are less reliant on the WMF annual fundraiser. Some avenue of potential income would only arise when the organisation public profile raises sufficiently. A good high public profile would also enable us to better promote our goals.
- Wikimedia UK is ethnically and legally bound to provide accurate and non-misleading information to such bodies. I actually would hope and believe that we do not just provide accurate and truthful information when required but do so in all circumstances. Having said that, unlike on projects like Wikipedia, Wikinews etc. Wikimedia UK are not bound to provide a neutral point of view when submitting such information. It is inevitable and fully expected that any information submitted would be in line with the submitting organisation's interest and position.
- As stated in my answer to Q5, Wikimedia UK is required not to mislead such bodies. If it subsequently comes to light that any information submitted are materially inaccurate or incomplete as to possibly mislead, then Wikimedia UK would be bound to correct that error as soon as possible.
- I have read and understand the legal requirements and obligations of being a charity trustee available on the Charity Commission website. In addition, as a former trustee of a Scottish charity of 25,000 student members, I had received training in the duties and obligations of being a charity trustee. (The legislation covering English & Welsh charities and that covering Scottish charities only differ slightly.) If elected, I would look forward to any refresher and or additional trainings available.
- As I stated in my candidate statement, we need to aim for increase participation from under-represented groups and communities. By that I don't mean just the typical classification of say age or gender, but also geographically. While assisting with the cost of travel and if appropriate accommodation to events for members helps, it is also important for us to diversify the location of our events to cover the entire United Kingdom and not just mainly southern England. This would allow potential volunteers who might not be able to give up large amount of their time or doesn't feel comfortable travelling large distances to still participate in a variety of events.
- From the very start, Wikimedia UK have been operated on the principle of openness, transparency and the involvement of the community in its activities, running and decision making process. It is important for every trustee to share this ethos and continue to ensure Wikimedia UK are operated on these principles.
- While having a background in Wikimedia projects and hence an understanding of our ethos and beliefs is certainly a desirable quality, it can and should only ever be an additional factor in favour of a candidate for most of the positions that we recruit. I believe recruitments should be open, fair and well publicised. This way, we can make sure we are able to select the best candidate possible and not just the best candidate from within the Wikimedia community.
- Wikimedia UK as an organisation is not in a position to directly influence or enforce Wikimedia Foundation projects policies. What Wikimedia UK can do is to make sure attendees to any Wikimedia UK staff or volunteers run training events are made aware of the Foundation and projects policies, and taught to understand and follow these policies from the start.
- My personal view is that a well designed and tailored filter that is optional not just to the user but to each project could be a good addition. Alternatively, Wikimedia could also consider some form of content labelling on individual pages which would assist third party content-control software to better filter out potentially undesirable material.
- Parents, guardians, mentors and teachers has a responsibility to teach children how to use the internet safely and responsibly, not just any particular website. They also have a responsibility to supervise such use to the extent possible. This supervision include but are not limited to physical supervision, having an acceptable use policy in place that users understand and agreed to before use and the installation of content-control software if deemed appropriate. While the potential risk and possible negative effect of a child being able to access some age inappropriate material cannot be overlooked, it is also important not to fixate on the issue given the size of projects such as Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons and ignore the general educational benefit of these projects.
- I do agree with the board resolution. For the answer to the second part of the question, please see my answer to Question 11.
- I would certainly agree in general that a high turnout is a good thing in elections. It reflects an engaged electorate (membership). An engaged membership enhances accountability and transparency. In an organisation such as ours, it will also enhance the number of volunteers taking part in activities. For Wikimedia Foundation board election, turnout was 10-15% in 2008. If the number of eligible accounts stayed at roughly the same level, turnout were consistent in 2009 and 2011. Not withstanding our first AGM where we had a 96% turnout which I would put down to the small yet dedicated number of members we had and the fact that we were then a newly re-founded chapter, our turnout at the last two AGM have both been roughly 20%. This is higher than with the Wikimedia Foundation board election, but of course still a lot lower than one may wish for. If you have any suggestion as to how the chapter could improve turnout, I am sure it would be welcomed.
Answers[edit | edit source]
- What different groups and communities are you part of?
- I'm not sure of what types of groups and communities you're asking about, so I'll answer this from both on- and off-wiki perspectives.
- On-wiki: I view myself as being part of the Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource communities - although due to time constraints I'm not as active in them as I would like to be.
- Off-wiki: I'm professionally part of the astronomical research community (including being a member of the Royal Astronomical Society), as well as being a member of several heritage organisations, and also a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Had it not been for the amount of my time that WMUK has consumed over the last few years, I'd be able to add more groups and communities (with a higher level of active involvement) here. ;-)
- What motivated you to stand for the board of Wikimedia UK?
- Everything that Wikimedia is doing is is ground-breaking - and the opportunities that are available to Wikimedia UK now are amazing. I want to make sure that WMUK continues to enable volunteers to make the most of those opportunities, whilst giving them professional support and assistance. We're on the path to that being the case, but I don't think we've reached that that position yet - and I would like to see things through until we're there.
- I also want to help provide continuity to, and memory for, the organisation (and to transfer that knowledge to other trustees, staff and volunteers). There are situations that arise that have previously come up a year or more ago, and long-term perspectives that can prove to be useful.
- Wikiversity has been set up as a sister project to serve as a platform for Open Educational Resources. Many people feel that it is not really meeting its potential. In light of a serious commitment to education probably emerging from the WMUK Strategic Plan, please name at least one element you feel might help take things forward.
- The problem with Wikiversity is that it's trying to do too much in a very diffuse way, and that it isn't focused on a single problem (e.g. like Wikipedia was focused on writing an encyclopædia, not writing every book ever). So I'd suggest that a project that focuses on a single sector, possibly even a single subject - e.g. university lecture course material on flower arranging - would provide a good, worked through case study which could then be publicised and replicated in other subjects, whilst also increasing number of contributors to wikiversity, and generating more interest from the educational community.
- What projects should WMUK pursue over the next five years. Where should we be in five years time? See Talk:Draft 2012 Five Year Plan/Counterproposal for some ideas. What's your idea?
- This is a really complex question, and not one that any individual would be able to answer. Asking candidates about 1-year plans would have been much nicer. ;-) To answer in generalities, I'd like to see the GLAM projects multiply and diversify, as well as a strong set of educational and technological projects to develop along the same lines, and for those projects to have a substantial impact in the quality and comprehensiveness of the online projects.
- When Wikimedia UK submits information to the Charity Commission, a parliamentary committee, or another public authority, is it more important to present Wikimedia in a positive light or to answer questions as accurately and completely as possible even when this might cast WMUK, Wikipedia or the individual answering the questions in a negative light?
- Of course, accurate information should be provided, at a suitable level of completeness for the situation (not too general, not too detailed).
- If Wikimedia UK submits information to the Charity Commission, a parliamentary committee, or another public authority, and that information subsequently turns out to be inaccurate, incomplete or liable to be interpreted in a manner that places Wikimedia in an overly positive light then what action should WMUK take?
- In such a situation, WMUK (staff/trustees/involved volunteers) should carefully evaluate the situation and send in corrections where appropriate. Such corrections may not always be needed (e.g. "oh, we said 45% where we meant 46%" wouldn't need correcting, nor would "we missed the name of one of our partner organisations out of a long list of people we're working with") - it's a judgement call as to when and where such corrections would be needed.
- As the elected representatives will be charity trustees, have they read and understood the legal requirements and obligations of being a charity trustee and have the current trustees brought these obligations to your attention?
- I understand the basic legal requirements and obligations of being a trustee (as I stated to the tellers during the nomination process). With regards the details, however, to be honest I need to revisit the relevant Charity Commission guidance and general advice. I've been on the board of Wikimedia UK since well before it became a charity, and although I have previously read through that guidance and advice, I need to refamiliarise myself with it. Should I be re-elected, I intend to undertake trustee training as soon as I can do so - it has been becoming increasingly clear over the last few months that such training would be very useful.
- The vast majority of Wikimedia UK's activities are undertaken by volunteers, who are the lifeblood of the organisation. How do you think you, as an individual trustee, and the board as a whole can better support those volunteers, especially those who live some distance from the chapter's headquarters in London?
- I simply can't over-describe how much I'm behind volunteers being the driving force behind WMUK. With everything that WMUK has done, particularly in terms of activities and with hiring staff, I've been pushing for a 'volunteers first' perspective. Every staff position that we've hired has been directly targeted at supporting volunteers, and my hope is that this will continue indefinitely. As a volunteer that is situated nearly 200 miles away from the WMUK office (in Manchester), I am sensitive to the issue of volunteers being far from the WMUK offices, and my hope and aim is that distance should not be a deterrent to participating in our activities. Note that locating the office in London was a decision that was made with accessibility for volunteers in mind, given how connected London is to the majority of the country and hence UK population.
- Given that volunteers conduct so much of the charity's work, perhaps even fulfilling roles that would be fulfilled by paid staff in other organisations, what role do you feel trustees should play in ensuring that, as Wikimedia UK professionalises and its staff expands, volunteers remain at the heart of the charity's activities and actively participate in the running of the organisation?
- I firmly hold that staff members should only be doing those duties that volunteers are not able and willing to do, and that staff members should be supporting volunteers with everything they do. This needs to be clearly written into every job description that WMUK advertises. It's the Trustee's responsibility to ensure that this happens and continues to be adhered to.
- While I have the utmost respect for our four current staff, only one had an extensive background as a Wikimedian before being employed by the chapter. How important do you think it is that Wikimedia UK seeks to recruit from within the Wikimedia community, and should it try harder to recruit staff who are Wikimedians as it expands?
- I think it's absolutely vital that staff are Wikimedians. However, I would disagree that this needs to be a requirement for staff prior to being hired - being a Wikimedian is by definition something that anyone can become. I note that our staff that were not Wikimedia editors before being hired, and that they have been making significant effort to become Wikimedians during the course of their induction processes.
- In terms of hiring Wikimedians: sadly, we've received a lot of opposition to advertising staff positions to Wikimedians. We distribute all of our job descriptions via mailing lists and twitter/facebook to encourage Wikimedians to apply. However, our efforts to advertise the position on-wiki (in particular via the geonotice on watchlists) has encountered a lot of opposition from the Wikimedia community. We've also encountered competition with regards hiring UK Wikimedians from the Wikimedia Foundation - in the past few years we've found that some of our most valuable volunteers have been hired by the WMF. I hope that this process can become easier in the future, and I would welcome suggestions as to how to improve our hiring process in the future, particularly when it comes to advertising positions to Wikimedians.
- What role do you think Wikimedia UK could play in ensuring that Wikipedia's articles about living people are kept accurate and free of malice?
- Wikimedia UK simply cannot play a direct role with biographies of living people - the situation with UK libel law at present would mean that any attempt to do so would end in unnecessary and futile law suits. Instead, the best we are legally able to do is to provide indirect support. For example, the volunteer community that responds to email queries about BLP's and similar issues is absolutely vital to solving this issue. I organised the first ever OTRS workshop to take place in the UK, and I hope that this will be the first of many to support the existing OTRS community and increase its capacity to deal with issues in the future. Similarly, but less directly, we've been working with scholarly societies to improve Wikipedia's content (again, something I've led one of the first examples of with the Cancer Research UK Workshop), and also via Editathons with cultural organisations (Tango and myself invented this type of event with the very first British Library editathon back in January 2011) - I would hope that we can indirectly support volunteers and experts to improve BLP's.
- What are your views on having an optional image filter installed on Wikimedia projects, to enable users to opt out of seeing images they feel are inappropriate?
- I support the establishment of an effective filter for images and content on Wikipedia. However, implementing this is far from easy and uncontroversial. I respect that the WMF has been attempting to tackle this issue, but I don't think that they have being doing so in an effective manner. In particular, the meta:Image filter referendum was a failure that cost far more volunteer time than was worthwhile (and, as the archives show, I tried to highlight the issues with this referendum as it was planned and implemented, but none of the issues that I raised were resolved). I suspect that the best approach here would be to encourage users (particularly schools and parents) to install filtering software on their own computers, rather than relying on optional server-side filters.
- With the current concerns over adult (up to R18 certificate and equivalent) content appearing unfiltered on Wikimedia projects, how would you advise UK schools and youth groups to handle access to Wikimedia sites?
- There is justifiable controversy over this issue, and I note that this question comes from someone with a very forthright viewpoint on this issue. So I do not expect that my answer to this question will satisfy the questioner. My recommendation would be that any decision on how to address this particular issue would involve both the school's and youth group's IT person, and their Sex Ed person. If the school/youth group wants to take a conservative approach, then I would recommend they utilize the Schools' Wikipedia rather than live access to Wikipedia. If they want to take a more liberal approach, then I would recommend they provide direct access to Wikipedia. If they want to take an approach somewhere in the middle, then utilizing third-party filtering solutions would be the best solution. In all cases, I would recommend thinking through the implications of any filtering (or lack of filtering) solutions that they utilize.
- Do you agree with the Wikimedia Foundation board () that processes for ascertaining model consent for images taken in private situations need to be improved, and if so, what (if any) role do you think Wikimedia UK should play in this?
- Yes, I agree with the WMF board's position here. The important roles here are that of the Commons community to deal with images that are uploaded without model consent, and that of the OTRS community to deal with model releases as that consent is made available. WMUK can support both of these communities - both by directly supporting the Commons and OTRS communities to make them more effective, and by pointing enquirers towards the OTRS community so that they utilize the most effective approach to resolving issues. I'm not sure how much more WMUK can do here, though, and would welcome constructive suggestions for how to improve the situation. Of course, WMUK cannot take any direct responsibility or role with such content, since we have no direct control over the content of the Wikimedia projects.
- Would the candidates agree that in this election and elections generally that a high "turnout" of voting members is necessary to give credibility to the final outcome/result and that the most worthy candidates are chosen? Are the candidates aware of what % are usually encountered in WikiMedia elections for board members?
- Desirable, yes, but I wouldn't say 'necessary'. The requirement from the Articles is the higher of 10 members or 10% of the membership, which has been achieved without fail at past WMUK AGMs. Membership has been steadily increasing over the years, which means this requirement has also been increasing in terms of number of members - but it's notable that in the last few years the % turnout has also been increasing. Last year it was 33/~200 = ~16% - not great, but respectable, and I'm confident that this election will have a higher turnout (number and %) than we've ever had before at an AGM, particularly given the high turnout at our EGM late last year (49/212, or 23%).
- It's a bit difficult to compare the % turnout with other Wikimedia board member elections, mostly because the number of people that can vote at the time isn't always recorded, but also because different organisations will naturally have different ratios of active to passive members which affects the % but not the absolute number (and then, there's the language barriers and culture differences too). The WMF doesn't really have a turnout, since it has no members as such (and I haven't seen any estimates of how many accounts could potentially vote in their community elections, so as a result I can't really quantify their % turnout). I see that WMFR had a 57% turnout in 2010 , which is impressive - and it's also impressive that they had over twice the number of votes cast in 2010 than we had in 2011. Perhaps they provide a benchmark and target for WMUK to be measured against in coming years. Mike Peel (talk) 23:59, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Answers[edit | edit source]
- I'm a member of a number of Wikipedia communities. Notably the MonmouthpediA, Did You Know and QRpedia groups, but previously Derby and the British Museum projects, Simple and Schools. Outside Wikimedia I'm a registered teacher and a sole trader. Outside of Wiki stuff I used to write and direct pantomimes and I ran a small software business. I have an unusual name and a long history on the internet which probably records more than I can remember here. I'm on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia where I'm open about my identity.
- Its the coolest thing I've ever done. Giving everyone on the planet the option to know stuff is the kind of thing the United Nations should be doing - and I get to make a major contribution - wow! Plus I got to work with Andrew, Chris, Fae, Martin, Mike, and Steve. You may have seen us as a secret cabal but the differences between us were small, rare and very brief, unlike the successes which were the exact opposite.
- Wikiversity is a "meme" of an idea. However its a project playing well down the league. I cannot think of one small thing that would help. It needs one enormous thing. I'd look for a partnership, a redefinition and relaunch, but most importantly a messiah with a newsworthy & defining project that would enable WMUK to claim it as their (re)invention. If we could get Wikiversity going then it has the capacity to achieve more of Wikimedia's mission than Wikipedia may ever do.
- The opportunities are ~ infinite as are the financial resources available to us. Currently we are experimenting to find success and then building on that. The limitations are people, thats why this election is important. The wiki-museum - Derby and the wiki-town - Monmouth and the Wiki-University - (working on it) are the kind of models I'm keen on. The work we did on Tipus Tiger illustrated how our community can show the V&A things that they didnt know. (Editors in India supplied new information on V&A exhibit). When we have a successful model like "the backstage pass" then we can roll that out to museums. I "stole" Liam Wyatt's backstage pass recipe and I'm pleased to see others "steal" mine too. We need to establish models that allow these to be scaled up without too much assistance. Ideas like the WWI project are not important because they are about the Great War but because this subject enables us to lever like minded partners. If we are just redirecting efforts from other wiki-projects then we havn't added value or furthered our mission. What is this project doing that wouldn't be done if we weren't there? To be glib - this isn't about doing things better .... we define (and demonstrate?) how to do better things. We are going to establish metrics so that at least our staff's efforts can be measured but I don't intend that we have "more staff than Germany" or "more members than the National Trust" - these are easy to manipulate and they may distract us. We have a mission and WMUK has doubled in its influence in the last 12 months towards taking its share of achieving that goal. So 2,4,8,16,32. I'd like to see our contribution to achieving our mission grow by a factor of at least 30 in the next five years. I'm not going to suggest a single metric apart from the view of the community. Whether we choose to work with the British Library & Coptic scrolls or the Manchester United Heritage Group & Footy biographs is missing the point.
- I hope that situation never arises. The way the question is phrased makes it very difficult to see any doubt in the way that one could answer the question. A more open question would help. See below.
- That depends on intent, damages, the law and how important (or trivial) the error was (e.g. Are there more than 2 or 3 people who understand and rate the importance of the error?). Its a truism that one wouldn't want to see anything be "overly positive" or even "overly negative". (Actually overly anything).
- Yes I have read them and I believe understood them. Some bits are not without ambiguity however. So it says you should not be under an obligation to a partner of WMUK and some may read that as "job" but I see obligation as "debt". 18.104.22.168 09:05, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
- Volunteers are the people who built Wikipedia and it may be that it was the Spanish volunteers who forked their Wikipedia to show that we need to keep our product free. Volunteers lead our organisation in the UK. I have been there at 3 o'clock in the morning making sure that we met an important deadline. I'd like to claim some credit for making sure we are not Wikimedia London but at least Wikimedia England. Many of the board meetings have been in locations like Birmingham, Derby and Monmouth and we have encouraged Wikimeets at new locations. Fae extended our reach to Scotland and I arranged for Monmouthpedia to be backed by WMUK and the County Council. So more of this ...
- Wikipedians as staff members. Yes. Essential. We may need positive discrimination to achieve more of these. However "more staff" is not my priority.
- I'm proud of the work that has been done to improve biographies of living people. One move is that we now insist on one reference and I helped (in a small way) with the push to clear the backlog. We have also started to name and shame P.R. agencies and their masters. Is there more to do? Yes, but I don't see this as a "U.K." problem. Its the members who decide what we do.
- Image opt out? Yes, good idea. I don't think that moslems, for instance, should have "our?" values imposed on them - and I don't think a moslempedia is a good idea.
- The current option for schools who want a restricted view is to load Wikipedia from a CD. For senior schools I think it is important that people learn to control their own use of information. Knowing that you can opt out is important. However sixth form children study censorship, prostitution and exploitation. These are valid subjects and we should allow these to be studied in an academic manner.
- Exploitation of models is something we should avoid. We have enough volunteers who want to appear in unusual situations. We can demand clear consent. Although this is not a WMUK issue.
- (Not sure, I might have missed a question). Elections must involve a credible portion of the membership. That's one reason we don't give free membership to every donor (as we do want to be elected by our active members). I was going to say that the quality of the people is the only important decision each year but we do have a billion pound product in the bank. Wikimedia UK is not the result of some all knowing directing intelligence. Succeeding is quite easy for WMUK. The board decide how well and how fast we succeed.
Additional questions[edit | edit source]
- It has been noted here that your involvement in QRPedia projects presents a conflict of interest due to your partial ownership of the IP rights of QRPedia. In those same minutes, WMUK's continued support and funding of QRPedia and it's various programmes and development was alluded to. Though it was proposed as a follow-up action that a formal agreement be drafted, I am unable to find such an agreement in further minutes or announcements. Given that this issue is apparently still unresolved, I am left with three questions: How do you envision being able to continue your work on WMUK's board without a conflict of interest, how has your vested interest in QRPedia and its success influenced your promotion of MonmouthPedia thus far and what do you stand to gain with the continued proliferation of QRPedia? Panyd (talk) 21:26, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
- QRpedia has continued throughout this year to grow in importance, wooo! It was an idea that was declared before the last AGM and I suspect I was elected because of, and not despite my involvement. I attended the Coventry wikimeet today and whilst I was there I attended a one hour phone conversation trying to work out how we transfer ownership (i.e. as a gift) to WMUK. There seems to be a view that trustees should not have a conflict of interest, whereas trustees are required to not have undeclared conflicts of interest. We have drafted agreements but we have failed to drive them through. I guess you realise that as chair with a COI, I cannot drive this agreement through the board. I do have to avoid COI evev when I am making a gift of a product that takes many hours to create and maintain. So in answer to your first question. I will have a COI, I will declare my interest (just in case anyone is unaware) and the board and I will have to avoid any conflict. Has QRpedia influenced MonmouthpediA? Yes. The leading manager for Monmouthshire credits me and QRpedia for getting her to commit the County Council to this partnership. Obviously I got no financial advantage from this. John Cumming's original proposal was that WMUK should do for a town what it had done for Derby Museum. Derby Museum's success was 90% due to QRpedia. If I have to repay the buzz that I've got from this then I'll need your attention for quite some time and a box of electric amplified kazoos. The Wikimedia Foundation and the UKGov identify QRpedia as an important development for Wikipedia and GLAM (I'm obviously not going to apologise for this success). What do I stand to gain from the proliferation from QRpedia? Nothing? World fame? More debt? The ability to really help WMUK? A reason for the WMUK members to reject my volunteered help? Credit for delivering a use for QR codes? A million pound cheque from a confused Yahoo executive? You choose which you think is credible and what effect WMUK has had on this success. The real driver in my opinion for QRpedia has been the help in Russia and Spain which resulted from my work at Derby as a volunteer Wikipedia in Residence. (The last unpaid one I believe). WikimediaUK has been mentioned dozens of times in the international press because of QRpedia. I have had my travel paid for trips to Norway and Austria as a result of QRpedia which enabled me to spread the WMUK message. I have other offers. I estimate "the profit" that Terence and I have made to date as several thousands of pounds (worth of debt).
Answers[edit | edit source]
- I am a board member of the Institute of Legacy Management, a charity sector body that exists to support and grow the £2 billion that people in the UK leave to charity in their wills each year. In this capacity I have recently finished working with the Law Society of England and Wales as a co-author of the 2012 edition of their publication, ‘Charities as Beneficiaries’.
- I am a member of the Law Society Commerce and Industry Group.
- Till very recently I was a Community Panel Member at the Croydon Youth Offending Team.
- Following the Asian Tsunami in 2004 I worked with a group of friends and contacts to fundraise and deliver aid to 3,000 people the Galle District of Sri Lanka within 3 days of the disaster; I remain closely involved with both the people I worked with and the communities we helped.
I see the dissemination of free and accessible knowledge as the greatest contributor to human development, on both an individual and collective scale, and I am absolutely passionate about Wikimedia UK’s mandate. Added to this I feel that, with my experience, I could add a lot of value to Wikimedia UK:
- For the last 2 years I have been on the Board of Directors of the Institute of Legacy Management, a key charity sector body, and as such I have gained substantial experience of not-for profit governance matters.
- I have 6 years’ fundraising experience gained at Save the Children, where I managed a £20 million income stream and headed up a legal compliance team.
- As Group Commercial Manager at the FreshMinds Group of Companies, I lead on strategy and planning, change management and legal compliance for the businesses within the Group, which includes social media consultancy, FreshNetworks. I feel that my work in this context means that, in addition to a commercial skill set, I bring an understanding of the media space in which Wikimedia operates.
My feeling is that Wikiversity does not yet have the public profile that it requires to get the level of engagement that it aims to achieve. I think this could be a fantastic tool if user volumes were increased and its’ public profile were even 10% of what Wikipedia’s is. A quick win in working towards this would be to partner with an academic institution on a high profile piece of work / research, and do some intense PR activity around this.
4. Projects over next 5 years
This is a huge question. It seems to me that both the opportunities and the options are so vast in number that a good starting point would be to define the key objectives and let the individual projects flow from there. Given that Wikimedia UK is still a young organisation, for me the top objective would be to establish the infrastructure to support sustainable growth. This of course includes the consolidation of staffing and of back-office processes, but in addition involves developing strategies for fundraising and marketing & communications, and defining target audiences and their needs. Having said this, to respond to the question of projects; to me, school textbooks is an excellent one. I say this because it fits with Wikimedia UK’s defined commitment to education and could serve the additional purpose of being a high profile initiative in which we could partner with a charity or academic institution and in doing so raise levels of public engagement.
5 + 6. Info to public authorities
My understanding is that Wikimedia UK is committed to the dissemination of accurate information. Regardless of the broader questions around ethics and the practicalities of governance, our commitment to this value should lead us to prioritising transparency, honesty and accountability.
7. Obligations of trustees
I have read and understood these. Having worked in legal compliance at Save the Children and having been on the Board of ILM, I have some experience of charity Law and not-for-profit governance.
8. Volunteer support
There are lessons on volunteer support and engagement to be learned from all over the Charity Sector. Organisations such as MacMillan Cancer Support and indeed Save the Children are hugely dependant on their volunteer communities. To me the key points are:
- Accessibility: the board and staff should always be available to support volunteers and should have a variety of channels via which to do this.
- Inclusion: Volunteers must be made to feel that they are the lifeblood of the organisation (as indeed they are) and must be kept informed of and included in key activities.
- Empowerment & Support: a balance needs to be struck between providing support in the form of training, guidance, and structure, and allowing volunteers the scope and space to innovate and add value in their own manner.
9. Keeping volunteers at the heart
As Ashley has said, the trustees themselves are volunteers and I think, in addition to what I’ve outlined above, the trustees will add the most value to ensuring that volunteers remain at the heart of Wikimedia UK by being conscious of themselves as volunteers and of considering the needs of other volunteers on this basis.
I completely agree with Joscelyn’s response to this question and have nothing to add.
11. Inaccurate / malicious articles
To me, the key role Wikimedia UK has to play in this regard is that of advocating appropriate use of Wikipedia and providing information and training wherever possible. I also think that there is an opportunity to publically respond to high profile cases of inappropriate use, and that this would serve as an excellent platform for this advocacy.
12. Optional image filter
I’m afraid I don’t have a definitive view on this as I don’t have a feel of the level of demand there is from users or a full understanding of the pros and cons. My personal view is that, on the one hand, it would be a good thing for people to have a greater level of control over the content that they (or their children) view. However, on the other hand, control mechanisms like this this can quickly move from being optional to becoming legally mandatory; and then all those concerns around freedom of expression etc surface. This is complex topic!
13. Adult content
In this regard, I don’t think that Wikipedia should be seen as a special category different from other sites on the internet. On this basis, I would say that the same policies that schools and youth groups apply to general internet use should apply to Wikipedia sites.
14. Model consent
I’m afraid I’m not sufficiently familiar with this issue to comment.
Answers[edit | edit source]
1. Groups and Communities
I am a practising solicitor therefore I am a member of the Law Society.
I was a Special Constable working in the Metropolitan Police.
I am a member of Games Aid, which is the UK video game industry’s charity.
I am a member of the UK board gaming community.
However most importantly I am a member of extremely prestigious group of people as I have a Guinness World Record (if you see me at the conference please feel free to tap me on the shoulder and I will let you know what it is for – although you could probably easily find out).
I am passionate about the spread of knowledge and breaking down the barriers of information exchange. We are lucky to live in a time where we are more connected to one another then we have ever been. The ability to impart knowledge through the digital connections we have made is helping to shape the world’s populace to become more aware of matters and to increase our understanding of issues.
My profession has traditionally operated by creating walled gardens and knowledge banks to help put a premium on the advice given. However, due to the rise of Wikimedia the paid for knowledge banks have started to fall, as the free and open exchange of knowledge is becoming the norm. I support the free and open exchange of knowledge and WMUK helps to drive this vision forward (also just in case anyone is worried, do not worry lawyers will always find a living even with the free and open exchange of knowledge, the need to interpret and apply legal knowledge to situations will always require trained lawyers – we are not going anywhere yet).
There is an increased visibility on issues such as net neutrality, freedom of expression and protection of intellectual property rights in the mainstream media. I feel that as the issues surrounding the exchange of knowledge are becoming a part of the public consciousness it is important that the right message needs to be put forward to prevent damage being done to the foundations laid down by organisations such as Wikimedia. As I practically deal with issues that affect WMUK on a daily basis in my day job. I believe that standing for the WMUK board it will allow me to apply my practical experience and knowledge to help a cause that I deeply care about.
I trust that if we can create deep links with institutions it help this project move forward. The way to create deep links is to rely on our personal networks. We have all gone to at least one school; and possibly a college and/or university. Therefore we are all alumni of at least one institution and we should engage with the institutions we have attended. We should know our own institution best, which hopefully means we can better relate to that institution. Through our better relations we should be able to present our solution in a manner that will help the institutions see a benefit to the programme.
4. 5 year plan
I think the current board and members have done a great job with the whole raft of projects that have already been undertaken; in particular the GLAM Wiki events have been a great success – WMUK should continue to build on the already great foundations.
In 5 years time I would like to see WMUK continue to increase the educational focus and really drive partnerships with schools and universities.
Universities in the USA are making great strides to open up educational resources and materials; notably MIT and Harvard with their recently announced edX service for distance learning. It would be great if WMUK could help to create a similar “Open University” programme by partnering with institutions to help the knowledge flow freely. I think WMUK has a strong role to play in such a project, as a trusted intermediary will be needed to help manage the relationships between institutions. The impact in the raise of tuition fees are being felt hard by UK students it is my hope that such a programme could be seen as a valuable tool and resource for current and future students.
Further, as I mentioned in my candidate statement I would like to reach out in the area of law and help to put together a pro-bono unit of advisors. I hope this unit will help the WMUK movement move forward with not only advising WMUK on the day-to-day running of the charity but also with potential lobbying efforts. By increasing our lobbying efforts we will ensure that WMUK’s voice is heard by government.
There is a lot more I would like to outline but at the risk of writing an entire manifesto I should stop.
5. Presentation of Information
I believe that one should always present the information as accurately and completely as required.
6. Misrepresentation of Information
As with question 5 above, the information should be presented as accurately as possible. If something is known to be untrue it should be corrected as soon as reasonably practical. If a situation arises such as outlined in the question – it may shine a positive light in the short term but in the long run it will ultimately shine a negative light on the issue if something that we know is misleading has not been corrected.
7. Trustee Obligations
I understand the obligations of a trustee. On a professional level I have advised charities, on a pro-bono basis, on the issues the question raises.
8. Supporting Volunteers
I agree entirely volunteers are the lifeblood of any organisation. It is clear to me that volunteers are the heartbeat of WMUK.
As a Special Constable for over 4 years, I understand a volunteer’s needs and what needs to be done to support a volunteer to best help them conduct their activities.
Due to my experience I will offer my support to all volunteers. By utilising my wider network I will always endeavour to find places for volunteers to meet and provide resources to them as best as I personally can.
As a board it will be our job to safeguard volunteers by providing them with all the information and resources to make their roles easier.
Due to the geographical spread, I am not sure of budgets, but if possible we should endeavour to pay expenses for those travelling to London or to other locations across the country. That being said this might not be financially viable but I am a firm believer that we need to help volunteers as best as we can, as without volunteers the ability for WMUK to function will be damaged entirely.
Finally, where possible we should look to establish local chapters, which will mean volunteers do not always need to come to London. I trust professional local chapters will give volunteers across the country the feeling that they are well informed and looked after.
9. Continued Role of Volunteers
Please see my answer for question 8.
Also, volunteers need to remain part of WMUK as without them WMUK will lose a huge part of what makes WMUK great. As a trustee were possible we should ensure that volunteers are given an opportunity to participate and to be given access to all relevant information regarding the key issues that affect WMUK.
10. Employment of Wikimedians
Very important, it is important that Wikimedians be given opportunities to work for WMUK. In my day job I have always said a games company needs gamers and equally Wikimedia UK needs Wikimedians. People who are passionate about the role will always bring value to any organisation.
That being said as a non-wikimedian it is still important to note that a job role needs to be filled and the best person for that role should be given the job.
In any hiring decision the decision should be based on the ability of a candidate to perform the role and we should seek the best people to fill those roles. In some instances being a Wikimedian will obviously be a great advantage. If an appropriate Wikimedian candidate is found we should back the decision to hire that person if they are better then all of the other applicants who applied for the role.
11. Articles About Living People
I believe the Wikimedia Foundation have already addressed this issue. As WMUK we can ensure that the Foundation is informed and the situation is continually reviewed, especially in light of the liabilities we face in England due to our defamation laws.
12. Optional Image Filter
I believe in the best user experience. If this is a demand that is requested by our users and it can be easily implemented then we should explore the option. I trust with data caps for many users across the world this is something that will have to be tackled at some point.
13. Age Rating
I have had extensive experience dealing with PEGI and the BBFC in my role as a video games lawyer. My view has always been that education works best and we should try to educate schools and youth groups about possible solutions and outline the possible risks. We should also offer practical solutions to tackle these risks.
Consent is difficult to obtain in this situation and I can only really advise based on my experience. I am used to getting clearances in productions that I have worked on. On that basis we should do our utmost to get consent. It will be very easy to draft a quick and easy release but we should also look at seeing if there is a way to produce an opt-out mechanism.
WMUK should advise on the local concerns to the Foundation to ensure that our views have been presented. We need to ensure that the Foundation have all of the information they need to determine the best solution. The Foundation will have to take a big picture view and will have to consider similar positions across all chapters. Therefore we should help to steer the conversation once we have reached a consensus on how to best tackle this issue.
I agree with Ravinglooney on this point; having a high turnout is important so that the elected members will have a strong mandate from the membership. Unfortunately, I am not aware of the percentages so I cannot answer the second part of the question.
Answers[edit | edit source]
1. Most of my time in the last 2-3 years has been on either the promotion of free and open knowledge on behalf of Wikimedia UK or starting up my own business, which involves global media monitoring and analysis. So I have had little time to get involved beyond that.
2. In 2009 I was Chair of the 2nd Dow Jones Social media Conference in Stockholm. I met Lennart Guldbrandsson, who was then President of Wikimedia Sweden, who was presenting. We then went out for a beer after the first day and he told me more about the wikimedian community and suggested I get involved with the formation of a new chapter in the UK. I contacted Andrew Turvey on my return and have been a Wikipedian ever since.
3. I have a feeling that the forthcoming EduWiki Conference later this year, is going to act as a catalyst for all educational connections and aspirations that the community shares. if the Conference goes well it will kickstart contacts with universities, colleges and possibly schools, much in the same way that the GlamWiki 2010 Conference did for our links to the cultural heritage sector. So, getting this event right, promoting it widely, trying to get it covered by the sector press and maybe even the national press - would be something I'd commit heavily too.
4. I think 'projects' is the wrong way of expressing this - I think we need to consider where would we like to be, then work backwards, which is a better way. We should be seeking to prioritise ways in which to raise quality standsrds of our content, through allying or associating or partnering with institutions that have expertise in areas that could be improved on Wikipedia. We should then be seeking to 'train them' to get them to share their expertise. We should also be encouraging them to share, promote and adopt our values and belief in the excellence of free and open content wherever possible. This should include all areas of cultural heritage, education, and involve, where we can, public bodies and institutions that are tasked with public duty - national archives, local government archives etc. We should be promoting the value of models of learning that can be based around collaboration, using Wiki-models. We should be exploring engagement with minority groups that need to be engaged more, and perhaps suggest that working on their own non-English wikipedia area could be one route to do so? (e.g Somali diaspora works and adds content to the Somali wikipedia). On a national stage, I would hope we would erase the confusion that exists between 'Wikipedia' and 'Wikimedia' in the public's mind. And that our community becomes a normal part of national or local civic dialogue. On an international stage, I'd like to see us pioneering initiatives that other chapters follow: Monmouthpedia is one such example this year.
5. It is about answering a question in a way that is as open as possible, with as much supporting information as possible, that helps the questioner proceed with their enquiries in a fruitful fashion. Representing an organisation means expressing the views of the Board with clarity, consistency and accuracy.
6. If it is not 100% accurate - correct it. If something that should have been included was not due to some oversight, send it on. If others read things into the statements that simply are not there, and choose to kick up a fuss, be patient, listen to the concerns but after these worries have been answered and the reasoning explained, move on.
7.As the elected representatives will be charity trustees, have they read and understood the legal requirements and obligations of being a charity trustee and have the current trustees brought these obligations to your attention? -- (my answer YES)
8. Thanks to the establishment of full time staff dedicated to helping the community take volunteer-driven initiatives anywhere in the country we are in a better place than we were one year ago, when it would have been a Board member acting as the glue to ensure something like this happened in some instances. I also sense the fact that we are now a charity, feel stronger as a community and are more confident, and there are more members of WMUK - the positivity helps to create a virtuous circle. People step forwards with ideas, and our role as Trustees should be to encourage, support and help these ideas become a reality. It also helps having been a Trustee, as you know a lot of volunteers who have done something like that before and who are geographically spread all over the country. So you can have someone locally to assist another member in the process of getting an idea off the ground and into practice. However, staff at the centre whose duty is to respond to volunteer needs is the biggest plus here + the outgoing Board can take some pride in having set this up.
9.Our first thought as a Trustee ought to be 'could that be done on a volunteer basis' or 'what obstacles are there that we need to overcome to make it possible for that to be done on a volunteer basis.' So I completely share the sentiments of the questioner. Where this might be an issue is where there is a 'grand-large scale project' requiring not a day or two of time, but weeks if not months. Then, we have to see how we can enable volunteers to remain at the centre of this, while having a sufficiently solid support network around them of full time staff, Trustees and local volunteer support. So, we should look to find ways to overcome any postential obstacles so that volunteerism and passion and commitment stays core and at the heart of our movement.
10.There is a need for the highest level of professionalism in a paid role so getting the best person for the job is key. However, my reflex position will always be to look inwards at our movement first as I feel that the 'learning curve' to understand our culture is a sharp one and that people who are not editors or wikipedians will struggle for a few months to get up to speed. This is less of an issue the lower down the pecking order in the office the role is. So, yes is my answer to should we try a little harder to recruit from within the community - a wholehearted yes. But, with the caveat that we still need the best people for the job.
11.We should and would not be policing any articles as that is not and never should be the job of Wikimedia UK or any of its associated bodies. This is a community driven movement and should remain that way. There are policies in place to do what the questioner asks. Wikimedia UK can play a role in any discussions about improving the policies, perhaps as a facilitator of the discussion. But no direct involvement in the way implied please.
12. I have no strong views on this issue at all and am open to argument and persuasion. If confronted with it as an issue I would listen to colleagues arguing their respective positions and then decide
13. I don't believe it is our role to go around telling people how to interact with Wikipedia. Issuing guidelines on how to do things to groups is self-defeating in a movement driven by the idea of free and open knowledge made freely available to all. If a concern occurs, it should be raised by the individual institution on the relevant page or at our content contact sites. if it still not being dealt with in a satisfactory way, the complainant is free to contact the office.
14. I am not standing for election to the Wikimedia Foundation board but the Wikimedia UK board. I'd accept that everything everywhere can be improved. If a conversation began in this area I'd listen to the arguments and what the community said first.
15. It is always superb to have many people voting as possible in any election. I have been on the Board for three years now so I am aware of % of votes and of evolution of these elections in that time. I am happy with the current voting system as it has seemingly produced a good set of members each time. This time is even better as we have a large number of candidates for the Board and this is really marvellous.
Answers[edit | edit source]
I could delay indefinitly whilst composing the perfect response to each question so forgive me if I respond to these questions with an innitial response then come back and add or edit as I re consider these answers.
1. I have had no role within the Wikipedia organization, which of course is why I now want to play some role. I do have a role in the wider community of education and local governance, being governor of an upper school and a lower school and now a director of an evolving University Technical College. I am an elected councillor and the director of an active commercial company in connection with which I am a member of the Hydrographic Society. I not infrequently run technical training courses in scientific institutes overseas and of most satisfaction in developing countries.
2. Its clear from the above that I am interested in education in all its forms. I am convinced that the internet has the potential to educate the world; it also carries a mass of utter drivel. Wikepedia seems to be one of the few dependable sources of knowledge and is clearly worth supporting.
3. Well for one thing that its existence be more widely recognised so it needs publicising. I would also want that it becomes more formally recognised. The two objectives are synonymous so I would be seeking recognition at governmental level such that its potential be taken forward at schools and pre university teaching. 4.
5 & 6. That’s not at all difficult. The answer should always be the truth whatever the outcome. If the outcome is that Wikipedia is cast in a bad light (cant imagine why) then it is the duty of the board to present the best side of the issue. I cannot fathom why the board would be concerned if the organization in an overly positive light… just so long as the basis is the truth. Now if an inaccurate statement has been previously made then the board must clarify that confusion.
7. I do now and have previously sat on charitable entities. The rules are generally well understood and are based on a deal of common sense though I am aware that a number of charities do appear to flout them!
8. By committing to a clear recognition of the value of the volunteer ethos and by buiding in a sound communication strategy that connects volunteers to the day to day workings of Wiki such that the volunteer force does not become alienated from the management of the organization 9. Surely this is a process of structure evolution. As Wikipedia “professionalises” the incoming staff will need to be provided with the mechanism both to incorporate volunteers in the workload and to recognise their value to the organization. If Wikipedia were to start from nothing then this evolutionary process would not be possible.
10. No, I’m not really of a view that Wikipedia should recruit its paid staff from within the Wiki community, at least not as a matter of policy. Of course Wiki is itself an ideal platform for staff recruitment so I would be surprised if anyone within the Wiki community was not well aware of a staff position and free to apply. But at the end of the day Wiki should recruit from the best available on the day.
12. I am not keen, it seems like a form of content censorship; albeit a self imposed censorship, that is alien to the Wiki philosophy.