WikiConference UK 2012/Elections/Questions/Saad Choudri
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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.