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Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2016-03-02/News and notes

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News and notes

Tretikov resigns, WMF in transition

The February WMF Metrics and Activities Meeting

Tretikov's resignation comes after months of public controversy, including the removal of Board member James Heilman (Doc James), the resignation of newly appointed Board member Arnnon Geshuri following a community outcry, and revelations about the mysterious Knowledge Engine project. It follows an even longer period of internal turmoil that has prompted a series of employee departures—events that have mostly remained out of the public eye until recently.

Among WMF staffers, the news of Tretikov's departure was greeted with a sense of relief rather than glee, at least publicly. The February metrics and activities meeting, held only 15 minutes after Tretikov's announcement, was almost jubilant—not about her departure, but as though the staff felt they could celebrate their work and accomplishments, especially those concerning Wikipedia's 15th anniversary, without the pall of recent months cast over them. Those events were not entirely absent, however. A photograph of Siko Bouterse, a widely respected WMF staffer whose departure was one of the flashpoints for other employees, received a standing ovation.

Still, even after the ED's announcement, employee exits from the WMF continue. On March 4, the WMF announced that Boryana Dineva, VP of human resources who went on leave on February 9, will depart.

Jimmy Wales announced he would be visiting San Francisco from February 27 to March 2 to personally meet with WMF staffers. Wales also quietly filled Tretikov's place on the schedule for an already planned March 13 event with Board member Guy Kawasaki at SXSW Interactive.

Speculation remains about who will work with WMF employees as interim executive director now that Wales has left San Francisco. Due to the exodus of employees, few high-level staffers remain to assume that role, with the most likely possibilities being chief communications officer Katherine Maher and general counsel Geoff Brigham. Finding an external candidate in the longer term may be difficult given the negative press coverage following the resignations of Geshuri and Tretikov, on top of the need to find someone with unusual combination of skills to lead an extremely complex organization. In a move that Andrew Lih (Fuzheado) describes as "rather astonishing", in a surprise announcement, Trustee Alice Wiegand posted to the Wikimedia mailing list that:

Opinions on the wisdom of this approach have been divided; critics have condemned it as an abdication of responsibility by the Board, while others have welcomed it as an effort by the Board to be more responsive to staff concerns and input.

Also unresolved is the composition of the Board itself. On February 27, Heilman announced his willingness to resume his seat on the Board and his intention to run again in the next community election. Wales, who described Heilman's account of Board conflicts as "utter fucking bullshit" in January, responded by writing that should Heilman win another election "then I will support his joining the board". Wales reiterated his disagreement with Heilman about how they perceived the circumstances of the dismissal, but the facts leading up to it remain unknown.