WikiConference UK 2012/Elections/Questions/John Byrne
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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.