User:Angela/Election

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This is a more detailed version of my 2004 campaign platform. It was developed partly in response to some of the questions asked of me during my campaign. There are also details on my user page and contributions page.

Why did I stand?[edit]

I have a huge passion for this project. I am completely dedicated to maintaining Wikimedia's goals of producing outstanding open content material. I've gained a lot from Wikipedia — knowledge, the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people, enjoyment, satisfaction — this is my chance to give something back, and to do so across the whole project. I've done a lot here over the last 15 months, and the opportunity to take on a more formal role provides a new challenge. This meets my desire for new experiences and new ways that I can make worthwhile contributions to the project. I believe that I can meet the pressures that serving on the board will entail, including the legal responsibilities associated with that. I'm confident I can handle the role successfully and make a difference to the project through that role. I also expect it will be fun and rewarding. Another reason is that I think it is important users feel the board members are approachable. I believe I have a fairly strong presence on Wikipedia, and not only on the English one, as I am also a sysop at four other Wikimedia projects (Simple, Meta, Latin and Korean), and was previously a sysop at Arabic and Wikisource. This means users are aware of who I am and this will hopefully mean they are more at ease contacting me than they would someone they didn't know. Overall, I stood because I want to play a guiding role in ensuring we have a stable long term future.

Communication and cross-project relations[edit]

I want to represent the views of all Wikimedia users and ensure they have the opportunity to be heard, and that appropriate channels are kept open so that the users can influence the Board of Trustees rather than the other way around.

I have a willingness to listen to users and to help them wherever I can. I believe I have an excellent ability to communicate, and to do so persuasively.

The board will need to provide regular reports on what it is doing, particularly financial reports.

One of my aims is to increase ties and a spirit of collaboration between the projects, and different languages, whilst also ensuring the unique needs each project has are met. I want to assist with setting up chapter systems where users within a particular country feel this would benefit their community. We need to ensure that we are there to support not only the existing 300 wikis, but also there to encourage and support new proposals, for new projects, new languages, and for new funding ideas.

Cross-project policies[edit]

Currently, all Wikimedia projects license their content under the GFDL. I don't think we should necessarily restrict ourselves to this in the future. The bylaws are open enough to allow the adoption of alternative, but similar, licenses for any new projects we start up. I am interested in reducing conflicts between the various copyleft licenses, and have expanded my views on some license compatibility issues on my questions page.

We need to look at our polices which span across projects. An official privacy statement is long overdue. We need to gain consensus between users on what is acceptable, and be aware of the relevant international data protection laws.

Hardware[edit]

We need reliable hardware if we are to continue being successful. As traffic grows and the number of projects increases, this gets more complicated and again, communication is vital as developers have more machines to deal with and need to be aware of what is happening on them. We need to be able to deal with failures of machines, and have back up plans ready. This is somewhere the official positions idea is important if none of the developers are represented on the board, we need effective ways of getting their input. Risks such as machine or network failures and denial of service attacks need to be planned for in advance of them happening.

External promotion of Wikimedia[edit]

As well as working within the community, I want to expand our "brand awareness" outside of the project. I want Wikimedia to become a household name, for reliable, trustworthy and high quality content, which is universally accessible, open and free. I want to be a representative in promoting Wikimedia and help to build it into a credible foundation, that will be respected worldwide, both in the short term, and to build for the long term future of the project. Well planned promotion will bring new expertise and additional funds to the project and encourage further innovation. Official positions could be given to users who want the role of public relations officer.

As we build up our name and image, we need to make it clear that Wikimedia and its projects are trademarks. It may be helpful to register these, particularly Wikipedia, as this is the best known at the moment. We need to defend against misuse of our trademark. One of our many mirrors, phatnav.com was, until yesterday, claiming it was "A Wikipedia". This dilutes our trademark, and fortunately, after I contacted their parent company, the Diagonal Media Group, they have replaced this, and their pages now read "PhatNav's Encyclopedia" instead.

Funding[edit]

The board needs to develop a long term focus, particularly financially, developing proper financial controls and a reliable and comprehensive budget, particularly for hardware. I support the idea of official positions, and for decisions such as hardware purchasing, it is important that a person, or group of people, are on hand to advise on these issues, perhaps in a more structured way than has been done in the past.

Wikimedia needs to ensure that it has adequate funding, both to continue serving the site, and to expand into new areas, including print editions. The use of funding from donations need to be made clear to those donating. We also need to look into alternative means of funding, which include grants, and sales of items such as the Wikireaders. This brings into play a new group of people Wikimedia needs to serve, and we will need to find ways of ensuring investors want to keep investing in Wikimedia without that having any negative effect on the site, or adverse implications for our users. I feel strongly that the foundation needs to find ways of generating sufficient funds without having to resort to using advertising.

To obtain grants, we need to show exactly how we plan to spend the money, and these plans need to come from the users, of all projects, not unilaterally from the board.

Growth[edit]

Wikimedia has grown at an amazing rate over the last three years. As we continue to grow, we need to effectively manage that growth. We need to ensure we have the software, hardware and personnel to handle increased traffic, new users and new projects. As we become more widely known, we need to effectively manage our image as well. We need to carefully coordinate press releases and our other contacts with the external world. We need to improve communication within the project as well as outside it. We need to keep improving and growing but ensuring we use our resources efficiently. We shouldn't create new projects just because we can. We need to think how these will affect the foundation long term.

We need to maintain our culture of openness. It is this which has led to such phenomenal growth, and to continue in this way, we need to do all we can to keep Wikipedia and its sister projects open.

We need to ensure that the expansion efforts are not overly focused on the largest projects. It is important to support the newer Wikipedias and Wiktionaries and we should find ways of recruiting new volunteers who are willing to edit on the under-developed projects. There are a number of near-stagnant Wikipedias that could benefit from being advertised in relevant places. The English and German Wikipedias already receive much media attention and we now need to find ways of promoting the smaller ones in the same way. If Wikimedia is to be truly international, we mustn't forget that the majority of articles are no longer on the English Wikipedia. We also need to aware of legal issues in jurisdictions outside the US. I fully support the development of official Wikimedia chapters in other countries, and I believe these will be able to play a vital role in promoting the project and in providing information to the board on what the local issues are that the foundation needs to deal with. For example, in helping the foundation to set up as a registered charity outside of the US, allowing donors to make tax-free donations in their own currency.

Risks[edit]

The foundation needs to focus on its long term stability and how the site and its values can be ensured for the foreseeable future. The increased size and influence of the project brings potential risks which we need to find ways of dealing with before they happen.

There is a risk of competition. This comes from other online encyclopedias, and from our own mirrors and forks. As we move into releasing print versions, we need to be aware of competing resources being sold. I hope by improving communications and having a board willing to deal with issues that could lead to forking, we will be able to prevent this happening needlessly, whilst realising that in a few cases, it may be the only solution.

We need to think about the risk of using fair use material and whether this will stop third parties wanting to reuse our content.

We need to think about maintaining the servers efficiently so as not to risk losing readers and editors because they find the site annoyingly slow.

When moving towards print editions, we need to be aware of the legislation in the countries we are publishing that. We lose the limited protection of the OCILLA when we switch from electronic to paper publishing, and we need to have the necessary insurance against risks, particularly ones related to copyright violations. We need to plan for the costs and results of legal issues that may affect the foundation in the future, including defending the freeness of our content, and defending our trademark.

Our disclaimers need work to ensure that we not liable for misinformation or misuse of the information we provide. However, we also need to be aware that individuals or companies might attempt to hold us liable, and even where we are not, this could be costly, particularly in terms of time for the board members, and has the potential to damage our reputation.

We need plans to deal with the risk of key members of Wikimedia, such as Jimbo Wales or Brion Vibber, leaving the project. We can't continue in an ad-hoc way seeing how things turn out. We need real plans to take us into the future.

We are at risk from spammers. This is particularly a problem on the smaller uninhabited wikis. I try to look at the very small Wikipedias once a week to check they have not been subjected to a spam or vandalism attacks. On a number of occasions, I have discovered bots spamming external links on dozens of different Wikipedias. This is one area where increased communication between projects can be helpful as others need to be aware of what to look out for. Increased communication between users and the developers is also needed here, so they can take further action in blocking the text inserted by the spammers before they can do any more damage.

We are also at risk of increased vandalism. The board will not directly be involved with website management, such as dealing with vandals, but one place that either the board, or people given official titles by the board, could be useful is in the contact with internet service providers. Addressing the problems of repeat attacks may often be something better dealt with by direct contact with the problem user's ISP rather than relying only on the traditional methods of blocking IPs.

My view of the board[edit]

In talking about external funding, legal issues etc, the board must not forget the editors of the site. The users are everything, and we must ensure their needs are met and do whatever we can to support existing and future users. Keeping open communication between users and the board will be an important part of this. The actions of the board members need to be fed back to the users and distributed across every project. With over 100 languages represented within Wikimedia, this is no easy task, but one I hope the board can find ways of improving.

I believe the board should be there to assist its users, and not to act as some sort of external power structure that interferes without the will of the community. We can encourage users in the right direction and be there to assist them, but they should never feel controlled by the board.

One thing I do not want to happen is for the board to change the way in which the site is run. The board is not about website management. The users must continue to be the leading voices in this.

I think it's important the board do not become overly focused on any one area. We should be open to all users at all times, and not give the impression we are only currently interested in discussing, for example, a print edition, or a new GFDL. There are, and will remain, a multitude of areas for the board to address, and we need to take on a very broad outlook.