I had dinner last night with some friends, and the question arose: So, do you donate to Wikipedia during the fundraising drives? That was an easy answer—I do, and have for at least three years running. My friends were split: whether they did or not seemed to correlate roughly to how much they use it (and specifically how much they use it at work).
How much money Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation behind it has and how it spends that money is not necessarily as well understood. (I consider myself a Wikipedian, and I found myself doing plenty of research for this post.) And the question of Wikimedia’s future is especially interesting, since long-serving executive director Sue Gardner announced she’ll be leaving the post sometime this year.
Some answers about specific outlays can be found in the 2011-12 Annual Report (PDF) and the 2012-13 Annual Plan (PDF), but the “how” depends a lot on who is actually making the decisions. Well, decisions about who is making those decisions are being made right now. Voting in a community-wide election began on June 8, and is not quite half-over, continuing until June 22. Do you want to vote? If you’re an editor in good standing with at least 300 edits before April 15, and at least 20 edits since December 15 (good criteria, I think) then you can.
Interestingly, three seats on the Board of Trustees are reserved for members of the Wikipedia community, joining others selected by the Wikimedia Foundation—and one set aside, of course, is Jimbo Wales himself. And starting this year, there’s a new advisory committee, of which a majority will be composed of community-elected volunteers. This is called the Funds Dissemination Committee. Finally, there’s an FDC Ombudsperson, whose role will be monitoring the new committee. Considering how the backstage area at Wikipedia is prone to drama, it could always get interesting.
Plus, it’s not Monopoly money: the money you throw at Jimmy Wales’ face every November has been increasing: from the last period to the current, both revenue and expenses are expected to make a big jump: $42 million expenditures on $46 million revenue, with almost $32 million banked.
So that’s the background. Here’s a rundown of the community candidates for positions on Wikimedia Foundation committees:
Board of Trustees
- Here’s the list of Candidates. There are 11, and they include some community members known to most or all Wikipedians—because of the fiduciary role they may be elected to, their real names are listed at the preceding link, but most are better-known by their usernames: Thelmadatter, phoebe, Francis Kaswahili, Yuyu, Sj (not to be confused with Essjay), Drmies, ErrantX, Raystorm, Mindspillage, Wittylama, and John Vandenberg.
- Here’s a list of links to (many) Questions each candidates are being asked about Wikimedia and their outlook on issues. A number of questions address matters of controversy familiar to non-profit governance of any type—“About overspending and/or misspending”—while some are more localized—“Use of off-wiki sites which harm the Foundation and individual Wikimedians”. But my favorite is: “Why should I NOT vote for you?”
- Want to read the ongoing Discussion? Just warning you, there’s a lot of it.
- The Signpost published a wide-ranging Interview with the Board candidates on May 27.
Funds Dissemination Committee & Ombudsperson
- Here are the 7 Candidates for the FDC board. Being a more advisory committee, they don’t necessarily have to provide their full names, though some have. But their usernames are: Smallbones, CristianCantoro, notafish, ImperfectlyInformed, Abbasjnr, MikyM and Aegis Maelstrom.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, the FDC members have not been subject to as extensive a list of Questions. At this time, the formatting of the list is a bit wonky, and one of the two questions is simply: “Why do you want to be on the FDC”.
- So far, Discussion of the FDC candidates has been somewhat limited.
- The FDC Ombudsperson role has received even less attention: there are just two Candidates—MBisanz and Lusitana—so far answering just one Question(s), and no Discussion of the Ombudsperson candidates yet.
- On May 27, The Signpost also published a less wide-ranging Interview with the Committee and Ombudsperson candidates.
So there you have it. If you plan to voite, begin here. Voting closes June 22, and and results will be announced sometime between June 25 and June 28, 2013. Happy campaigning!
P.S. Lots of details above, so if I’ve missed anything, please leave a comment or email me!