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Tuesday, April 1, 2008


A resolution has gone to the WMF board about the creation of a wikicouncil. The wikicouncil is supposed to be a representative group from the WMF community that will somehow support and supplement the board and the various committees in making decisions, especially those that affect the projects. An open call for nominations or applications was put out for people to form a preliminary council. The preliminary council is tasked with laying the foundation for the "real" council, and setting the specifics like how the members are selected, the size and composition of the council, etc.

Anyway, long story short, I submitted my name for consideration, and am now apparently on the list of members for this preliminary council. I saw a post from Danny Wool about these events which, in addition to his usual cynicism, included my name. It's fun to see your name written on somebody else's blog! I won't begrudge him his cynicism, I've developed a little bit of my own in my time as a Wikimedian. I felt like it was worth a response, at least a roundabout one, and so I started writing a comment. Half way though, I decided the comment was the size of a regular blog post, and so here I am now.

When I applied to be part of the wikicouncil, I was doing it in the interests of diversity. Being ignored and marginalized is something that members of the sister projects feel (whether rightfully or wrongfully) consistently, if only peripherally. Maybe it's the same way that non-english speakers feel about all the apparent anglo-centrism that's part of the foundation. I can't speak for anybody else, so it's just a guess. My hope was to get at least one sister project member onto this council, and it looks like that hope was fulfilled. Of the 9 preliminary council members, 7 of them are from Wikipedia, or identify with it strongly. 1 From Wikibooks, 1 commons, 1 meta, 2 Wikisource. This is the kind of bias that I expected and frankly, based on server statistics, it's probably generous for us. That we got two non-wikipedians on the council is good enough for me. There is also some language diversity here, so I won't find fault in that either.

If the crowd of people isn't a diverse one, i would venture to guess it's because of a small pool of volunteers. After all, the proposal was only sent to foundation-l, that I'm aware of, and was not translated into any other languages. This limits the pool of potential applicants immediately. However, having a large number of languages represented here may not be the most productive idea anyway. The purpose of this council is to create rules about the "real" council, and good communication between us is probably going to be a key component in that. Ideally, we won't have much work to do anyway, and we can turn the reins over to the true council quickly.

The goal of this preliminary council, at least as far as I understand it, is to lay the necessary groundwork to install a permanent council. Once we lay out a purpose, sizes and term limits and composition and whatever, I think that we can rest. I mean, our job isn't to actually do anything, except to decide on a group of people who do have to do something. Really, I view this whole thing as very much of a non-issue.

I've been outspoken enough about my desire for more openness and more communication, so I'll do my best to ensure that this doesn't turn into a secretive little cabal of power mongers as some conspiracy theorists might surmise. I can understand the need to exercise some discretion, of course, but this wikicouncil is supposed to be about the community and I would like to see that be more of a rule then a suggestion. I'm not here to stir the pot (I can't stress enough that I don't expect that we will be doing anything of any importance beyond simple logistics), and I'm generally not interested in being a part of the real council once it gets started. I'm definitely not in this for some kind of vague "power" that this council might provide to it's members.

It's my hope that this council does all the wonderful and lofty things that people say it will, and I would like to help be a part of that if I can. I anticipate that mine will be a small part, however.

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