User:Lankiveil/2012 Board of Trustees statement
My name is Craig Franklin, and I would like to be considered for one of the available chapter-selected seats on the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees. I edit on Wikimedia projects as “Lankiveil”.
I began my Wiki editing career at the Irish (Gaelic) language Wikipedia in August 2004. I soon migrated across to the English language Wikipedia where I became an administrator and arbitration committee clerk. I have also been active at Commons, where I have uploaded many photographs, primarily of Australian sportspeople, flora and geographical features.
I was a founding member of the Australian Wikimedia chapter. Since late 2010 I have served as the chapter’s Treasurer, and I am currently midway through my second term in the position. My twin interests as chapter Treasurer have been to develop a sustainable framework for professional management of the chapter, and expanding grant programmes to assist community members in developing new, free content. I have also whenever I’ve had the opportunity, engaged in programme work such as GLAM collaborations and outreach events.
My philosophy on how Wikimedia projects should be run is simple: the projects were initially built and managed by volunteers, and under that arrangement they were taken from an obscure sideproject for Nupedia, to one of the top 10 web properties in the world. I have a great deal of faith in the wisdom and talent that our community possesses. I despair at the current trend of the Foundation running programmes and initiatives where community input and control is minimal.
Real World Resume
I graduated with a Bachelor of Information Technology degree, with a major in Data Communication, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2004. After short periods in system support and payroll processing, I gained a position as a Project Officer and Business Analyst, focusing on the implementation of financial management and reporting systems for public sector entities. I was promoted to Senior Business Analyst in 2009. My main current areas of focus are spearheading projects with small teams in business intelligence (providing tools to assist organisations in making informed business decisions based on financial data) and business process improvement.
At the same time, I am also enrolled as a postgraduate student at QUT, pursuing a degree in Information Management, where my main research interests are in user-driven information management and categorisation systems (like Wikis!).
Over the years I have also had a number of other jobs on the side, including as a freelance music journalist, trivia night host, and as a breeder of tropical fish for the ethical aquarium trade. My partner and I are greatly interested in the self-sufficiency movement, and have given over much of our land to the production of fruits and vegetables to reduce our dependence on conventional methods for food distribution.
I have been dismayed at the recent trend towards decision making being made in an office in San Francisco, often with little or no consultation with community members. It is the community of volunteers that shows up day after day to write articles, perform administrative tasks, and keep the projects clear of spam that allow the Foundation to exist. A healthy and engaged community will result in a healthy Foundation. Engaging the community needs to be something that is an integral part of everything that the Foundation does, not just an afterthought after a decision has been made in the boardroom.
Some examples of recent events that I feel are unacceptable are:
- Imposing a new fundraising model upon chapters without prior consultation, and then frequently tinkering with that model in such a way that it is impossible for chapters to undertake longterm planning.
- Imposing new software tools, such as the image filter, on Wikimedia projects who have quite clearly expressed a wish not to be involved.
- Striking down community consensus on projects, such as with the autoconfirmed article creation trial on the English Wikipedia.
- Running expensive, failed projects like the India Education Program (Pune), which could have had much more positive results if editors from the affected projects had been brought in for their opinions and feedback before the project turned into a disaster.
As I’m in gainful employment, I do not see this position as a stepping stone to a job or sinecure with the Foundation. As such, I would be quite unafraid to speak my mind where I disagree with a proposal. On the other side though, I have quite a cordial relationship with the WMF staff and trustees, despite my public opposition to a lot of their policies, and I do think I’d be able to work effectively with them in bringing about change.
Some particular things that I would like to focus on include:
- Providing more resources and guidance to chapters to help them in meeting the challenges of organisational development and effective ways to run programs
- Bringing the Movement Roles process to a close, so that all actors in the movement have a clear picture of where they stand and what they can contribute
- Focusing work on the important questions of editor retention and gender balance in Wikimedia projects
- Devolving oversight of Foundation activities, wherever possible, to local communities and editor groups, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. This includes making as much information available about Foundation decision-making, financial performance, and fundraising, publically available for scrutiny by the community.
- Reforming the Foundation and the Board of Trustees to be more responsive and accountable to readers and to the community.
Responses to specific questions
- is willing and eligible to serve on the board of a US charity (the WMF is a 501(c)(3) organisation registered in Florida)
- To my knowledge, there is no reason that I would not legally be able to serve on the Foundation’s board.
- is committed to the Wikimedia mission
- I have been an editor since 2004 and engaged in chapter activities (such as running workshops, public speaking, and engaging with the media) since 2009, all as a volunteer and sometimes at considerable personal financial expense.
- speaks English to a standard sufficient to take part in detailed and technical written and spoken discussions
- I am a native speaker of English.
- has sufficient time to devote to the role
- Currently I spend 10-20 hours a week on general duties for Wikimedia Australia. If chosen to sit on the Foundation’s board I would expect to spent at least as much time on Board of Trustee related activities.
- will approach the role from an international point of view
- My view on this is that while we can all do our best, for a given country or culture, the best person to provide advice and run programmes in a country is someone from that country. With that said I’ve travelled widely in Oceania, Asia, and Europe and have had exposure to a variety of cultures and philosophies. I also spent my formative years in a neighbourhood with a lot of immigrants, particularly from South Asia and Polynesian countries, so I have more than a passing familiarity with these cultures.
- is willing and able to travel
- My employer is supportive of my Wikimedia work and has given me time off to engage in Wikimedia activities in the past, I see no reason to believe that that would not continue.
- is willing and able to work as part of a team, both with the rest of the WMF board and with the larger Wikimedia movement.
- Perhaps those I’ve worked with can expand upon this, but collaboration is at the core of the Wikimedia experience and I think I’ve generally succeeded at that. As an office holder in Wikimedia Australia I’ve always sought to be as inclusive as possible. I believe that progress is not made by taking an adversarial stance, but rather from trying to find common ground and build confidence by working together on areas of mutual agreement.
- has experience of Wikimedia chapters, either from external dealings with chapters or from being active within a chapter
- As above, I am currently serving my second term as Wikimedia Australia’s Treasurer.
- is good at both communicating their ideas and listening to the ideas of others
- I like to think that I am good at this. I acknowledge that I do not have the answer to every question, and I think that an important part of a role as a Chapter board member or a Trustee with the Foundation is listening to ideas and considering them on their merits, regardless of their source.
- has experience with governance issues
- One of my key tasks as Wikimedia Australia’s Treasurer has been helping to guide the chapter from being a small group of volunteers undertaking ad hoc projects to a professional organisation with firm strategic objectives and plans. Working with public sector organisations for a number of years looking at financial process improvement has also given me an insight on how larger operations approach governance.
- is able to work independently
- For a period of time, I was the only active chapter person in Queensland. Due to the massive geographical size of Australia, often we have no choice except to work independently.
- can effectively think strategically
- I chaired the Wikimedia Austraia's strategic planning subcommittee, a process that everyone involved seems to think has had a positive end result
- is able to recognize both the specific interests and challenges of chapters and how to best place them into the overall Wikimedia context
- Having been in a chapter that’s gone from being a small fish to a medium-sized fish, I think I have a unique perspective on the challenges that chapters face, and on ways that the Foundation can assist chapters to have a smoother ride to a point where they can concentrate on doing great programme work, rather than messing around with administrative matters and trying to squeeze some fundraising money out of the Foundation.
- has vision of relations between chapters and Wikimedia Foundation
- I have quite a simple vision of how relations between chapters and the Foundation should work. Relations should be a partnership of equals, where each party respects the work done by the other, and any differences of opinion are talked out to a mutually agreeable compromise with suitable dollops of good faith and respect.
- is from the part of the world not represented in current Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.
- There are currently no Trustees based in Australia, the Southern Hemisphere, or the Western Pacific.
I can be contacted by email at cfranklin at halonetwork.net. I can also be contacted on IRC where my nick is “Lankiveil”, or through Gchat at firstname.lastname@example.org