WikiConference UK 2012/Elections/Questions/Doug Taylor

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Answers[edit | edit source]

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.