WikiConference UK 2012/Elections/Questions/Roshana Gammampila

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Answers[edit | edit source]

1. Communities

  • 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.

2. Motivation

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.

3. Wikiversity

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:

  1. Accessibility: the board and staff should always be available to support volunteers and should have a variety of channels via which to do this.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

10. Recruitment

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.