Wikipedia:Association of Members' Advocates/AMA IRC Meeting log (1-30-05)

The IRC log of the Wikipedia:Association of Members' Advocates Second Membership meeting held on Sunday, January 30, 2005 starts below:

[14:01] * alex756 changes topic to 'Wikipedia Association of Members Advocates Meeting 1/30/05'
[14:01] -> -it- is now the top of the hour the meeting should begin.
[14:03] <Wally_AMA> Hey Alex
[14:03] <Wally_AMA> I'm back, sorry.
[14:04] <alex756> Thats o.k., I guess we can start discussing things.
[14:04] <Wally_AMA> Since it appears we're the only people here. :P
[14:04] <Wally_AMA> Since it's something of a duumvirate at the moment, do you want to proceed with the agenda or just go off the cuff?
[14:04] <alex756> Did you see the list of entries on the subpage I created for surveys?
[14:05] <Wally_AMA> No, I spent quite a while trying to find it so I could post my own resumé.
[14:05] <alex756> I thought I put a link to it on everyone's talk page.
[14:05] <Wally_AMA> Did you?
[14:06] <Wally_AMA> I haven't been getting little orange boxes telling me I have messages lately for some reason.
[14:06] <Wally_AMA> And I have had a couple upon checking...
[14:06] <Wally_AMA> Ah, there it is.
[14:06] <alex756> This is the lk Wikipedia:AMA Coordinator/January 2005 Survey
[14:07] <Wally_AMA> I see it now.
[14:07] <Wally_AMA> By the way, I've been meaning to apologize that things between us got a trifle heated last week.
[14:07] <alex756> I had a few small ideas this week.
[14:07] <Wally_AMA> I can be excessively hard-headed, and I didn't mean to suggest anything besides a zeal for proletarian reform. ;)
[14:07] <alex756> Really Wally it is not a big deal, I was perhaps a bit too overbearing as a chair myself.
[14:08] <alex756> I just want there to be more discussion between members, if our group is to accomplish more.
[14:08] <Wally_AMA> I agree completely.
[14:08] <Wally_AMA> So you said you had a couple ideas?
[14:09] <alex756> I was thinking that maybe we should just rotate the Coordinator position like they do at the Mediation Committee every couple of months.
[14:09] <alex756> I was also thinking that we should invite the former arbitrators who just stepped down to become members of the AMA.
[14:09] <Wally_AMA> Are any of them not?
[14:10] <alex756> Well, one of the few rules we have is that arbitrators cannot be advocates, because of the obvious conflict that would arise.
[14:10] <alex756> Like having a judge also work as a lawyer at the same time as they are making decisions.
[14:10] <Wally_AMA> I agree.
[14:10] <Wally_AMA> I also think perhaps that should be extended to mediators.
[14:11] <alex756> So, maybe former arbitrators can contribute a lot, they obviously know what the arbitration system is all about.
[14:11] <Wally_AMA> Since an advocate is an inherently adversarial position, whereas arbitrators and mediators are both independent.
[14:11] <Wally_AMA> But I agree about the arbitrators.
[14:11] <alex756> I don't know if I agree about that regarding the mediators, because you could mediate one case and then advocate on another at the same time.
[14:12] <Wally_AMA> Mmm, this is very true.
[14:12] <alex756> I think that the members of the AMA who are mediators get called to do a lot of advocacy like Ed Poor.
[14:12] <Wally_AMA> And you never know when a case is going to arbitration, and unlike mediation arbitrators must be available.
[14:12] <Wally_AMA> I take your point there.
[14:13] <Wally_AMA> Where leadership is concerned though - and this flows into what you were saying - have you considered having a sort of leading committee?
[14:13] <alex756> Yes, I don't think anyone would argue about keeping arbitrators' roles clear.
[14:13] <Wally_AMA> Say we have a five-member decision making group.
[14:13] <Wally_AMA> Two elected advocates, two former arbitrators, and the last Coordinator (if applicable).
[14:14] <Wally_AMA> From this group an overall Coordinator is elected, decisions are taken, and responsibilities are assumed.
[14:14] <alex756> I just think that maybe we need to get people more active in the AMA. I think that it is obvious that those who are doing advocacy think of it as "informal" and a lot of people may have just joined because it sounded like a good idea.
[14:14] <alex756> I think a steering commmittee is not a bad idea.
[14:14] <Wally_AMA> That was why I did, initially.
[14:15] <alex756> It would give some people a sense of ownership and empowerment.
[14:15] <Wally_AMA> Part of what it could do is have IRC meetings such as this one.
[14:15] <Wally_AMA> And reflecting upon it, while the last one moved slowly the dialogue was productive.
[14:15] <alex756> Having just one coordinator is not that great. I leave members messages and they don't respond!
[14:15] <Wally_AMA> Yeah.
[14:15] <Wally_AMA> That's why my initial thought was to have a pair of coordinators.
[14:16] <Wally_AMA> But that still could be rather hit-and-miss.
[14:16] <alex756> I can't make them respond if they don't want to, whereas if they have a role, that would be better, they would feel obligated to respond.
[14:16] <alex756> Why do you think it would still be hit and miss?
[14:16] <Wally_AMA> Just a figure of speech. It's not hard to see a situation where two people could both be simultaneously busy.
[14:17] <alex756> I think you are right, especially with volunteerism. I don't know if we can get two former arbitrators to join but I like that idea.
[14:17] <Wally_AMA> Yeah, and that way those positions are permanent.
[14:17] <Wally_AMA> They're our retired Law Lords, if you like.
[14:17] <alex756> Why do you think it should be five?
[14:18] <Wally_AMA> It's a good, solid, odd number.
[14:18] <Wally_AMA> Big enough to get plenty of fresh ideas; small enough not to be unwieldy.
[14:18] <alex756> I think we could have an equal number of advocates and retired arbitrators and then one chair.
[14:18] <Wally_AMA> Especially given our style of meeting.
[14:18] <Wally_AMA> Well my thought was that the chair be elected from the panel.
[14:18] <Wally_AMA> Rather than directly.
[14:19] <Wally_AMA> And perhaps with former arbitrators disallowed from standing.
[14:19] <alex756> We could have the "tie breaker" type of chair.
[14:19] <alex756> That would be elected by the whole membership. Anyone could be on the commmittee as long as there were not three members against it.
[14:19] <Wally_AMA> But that can stifle the chair's abilities.
[14:19] <alex756> I am just thinking out loud now.
[14:20] <Wally_AMA> Yeah, I hear you.
[14:20] <Wally_AMA> I rather like brief terms with a set number of members.
[14:20] <Wally_AMA> With, naturally, any advocate being eligible.
[14:20] <Wally_AMA> We could perhaps have 7, rather than 5.
[14:20] <Wally_AMA> But I'm concerned that's too big.
[14:20] <alex756> Yes, but I think anyone should be able to serve on the committee.
[14:20] <Wally_AMA> And I've never liked the President-pro-Tem style of chairmanship.
[14:21] <Wally_AMA> You mean outside of being elected?
[14:21] <Wally_AMA> Or you mean anyone can stand?
[14:21] <alex756> Well, more like the kind of elections for Administrators, as long as there is community support, then they are allowed to have that role.
[14:22] <alex756> What I am saying is that as long as there is not a strong objection, it should not be seen as some kind of "position" of power.
[14:22] <Wally_AMA> Yeah, but there's never a clear consensus on what that is.
[14:22] <Wally_AMA> And we'd end up having just whoever's active on the committee, which defeats the purpose of having one at all.
[14:22] <alex756> The membership on the committee should be seen as an obligation to help the AMA and work with the coordinator.
[14:22] <Wally_AMA> Absolutely.
[14:23] <alex756> I think that there should be some rule if someone joins and misses a certain number of meetings that they then lose the position and cannot reapply for a fixed period of time.
[14:23] <Wally_AMA> I definitely agree with that.
[14:23] <Wally_AMA> But if we have elected committee members it gives members something to aspire to.
[14:23] <Wally_AMA> Sam is partially right - though I hate his fancy titles - that incentive in the form of a sort of honor is good.
[14:23] <alex756> Well, maybe we are getting somewhere, yes, maybe our next election should be for elected committee members.
[14:24] <alex756> Maybe we can ask former arbitrators to be ex officio members of the committee.
[14:24] <Wally_AMA> That was my thought.
[14:24] <alex756> They don't really have a right to vote, but their participation is advisory.
[14:24] <alex756> Sort of like an advisory council.
[14:25] <Wally_AMA> Well, I think they should have some voting rights.
[14:25] <alex756> Unless they also get elected.
[14:25] <alex756> This brings up the question of the authority of the committee, what would its power actually be?
[14:26] <Wally_AMA> Well, for starters to establish some sort of standard for AMA assistance.
[14:26] <alex756> Really since the AMA is around to help people the steering committee should help the Coordinator make the AMA betteer known, help AMA members improve their skills, etc.
[14:26] * Metasquares has joined #ama
[14:26] <Wally_AMA> We need to have - even if it's just a certain ten-point document - a guideline for what an advocate must, may or must not do.
[14:26] <alex756> Hello Metasquares
[14:26] <Wally_AMA> Hey Meta.
[14:26] <Metasquares> Hello. Sorry I'm late
[14:27] <alex756> That was what I was doing with the Guide to Advocacy, have you ever looked at it?
[14:27] <Wally_AMA> I have; but I'm talking about something enforcable.
[14:27] <Wally_AMA> Not that the Guide isn't.
[14:27] <alex756> I think for Meta's benefit I'll briefly summarize what we were discussing, ok.?
[14:27] <Wally_AMA> It's just not at the moment.
[14:27] <Wally_AMA> Sure.
[14:27] <Metasquares> Alright, thanks
[14:28] <alex756> Wally suggested that we think about creating some kind of "steering committee
[14:28] <alex756> made up of elected AMA members, former arbitrators and the Coordinator to help make the AMA more active.
[14:28] <alex756> Is that an accurate short summary Wally?
[14:30] <Wally_AMA> I agree; the only X factor is whether we elect the Coordinator seperately or from the committee.
[14:31] <alex756> Right, I was thinking that the committee has a sort of advisory role, giving direction to the Coordinator who is elected by the whole membership directly.
[14:32] <Metasquares> That sounds like a good idea. The coordinator should probably remain elected from by all of the members, since the coordinator is representing the Association
[14:32] <Wally_AMA> And my thought was that the Coordinator be elected from amongst the committee.
[14:33] <Wally_AMA> Sort of like a Prime Minister.
[14:34] <Wally_AMA> Also at issue is the size of the committee.
[14:34] <alex756> But I see the role of the coordinator as being separate from elected members of the committee so there is some balance and the members have more input.
[14:34] <alex756> Right, you were suggesting five or seven members.
[14:34] <Wally_AMA> Indeed.
[14:34] <alex756> That is including the Coordinator which I was suggesting would be the tie breaking position.
[14:35] <Wally_AMA> Two ex officio former-Arbitrators; the last Coordinator (if any); and a number of elected advocates.
[14:35] <Wally_AMA> The latter from which, under my proposal, a Coordinator would be elected.
[14:35] <alex756> But you were suggesting that two former arbitrators would have voting power.
[14:35] <Wally_AMA> I was suggesting they might in some situations.
[14:36] <Wally_AMA> I agree that in the main they ought not.
[14:36] <alex756> I guess I was thinking if they were voting that would be another reason to have the Coordinator elected directly from the membership.
[14:36] * Anthere has joined #AMA
[14:36] <Wally_AMA> I was thinking x-Arbitrators would not vote in procedural matters, but would do so in disciplinary ones.
[14:36] <Wally_AMA> For example.
[14:36] <alex756> Meta, do you have any opinions about the status of the former arbitrators?
[14:36] <Wally_AMA> Hey Anthere.
[14:36] <alex756> Hi Anthere.
[14:36] <Metasquares> Hello Anthere
[14:36] <Anthere> hello
[14:37] <Anthere> just here two minutes before dinner
[14:37] <alex756> Should I make a brief summary again for anthere's benefit?
[14:37] <Anthere> how are you all ?
[14:37] <Wally_AMA> Very well.
[14:37] <Wally_AMA> Copy and paste, I suppose.
[14:37] <Wally_AMA> The short summary.
[14:37] <Anthere> yes, please
[14:37] <alex756> We were just talking about having a elected committee of AMA members, sort of steering committee that includes several former arbitrators (who just stepped down).
[14:38] <Metasquares> I agree with Wally in that arbitrators should have voting power in disciplinary matters, but not procedural ones
[14:38] <alex756> As well as the "former coordinator".
[14:38] <Metasquares> Since those matters are basically what the arbitrators are here to solve
[14:38] <alex756> It would be a committee that would help the Coordinator develop the AMA more, make it more active, get members more involved, provide more support.
[14:39] <alex756> It would probably be five or seven members maximum.
[14:39] <alex756> We were not sure if the next coordinator should be elected from the commmittee members or directly from the membership.
[14:39] <alex756> I think that pretty well sums up our discussion to now, any additions?
[14:40] <Anthere> I would reather say it should be elected by the commitee itself
[14:41] <Wally_AMA> It essentially comes down to whether we want a President or a Prime Minister - an officer who holds power over the committee or derives power from it.
[14:41] <Anthere> not power
[14:41] <alex756> I was thinking that the membership can vote for the Coordinator as well as the individual members, that gives the membership more input.
[14:41] <Wally_AMA> Well, moral force.
[14:41] <Anthere> I think someone mostly communicating
[14:41] <alex756> I think that both the committee and the coordinator are answerable to the members.
[14:42] <Metasquares> That's good; it avoids setting up a heirarchy within the association
[14:42] <alex756> Yes, Meta, that is a good point.
[14:43] <alex756> But having the members elected to the committee they can also just elect a Chair, it should not be viewed as a "higher" position.
[14:43] <Wally_AMA> Well, that's why I suggest a coordinator derived from the committee.
[14:43] <Wally_AMA> That leaves them both elected by the members and answerable to both the members and their representatives.
[14:43] <alex756> I think the idea in a presidential system is that is more of a check and balance situation.
[14:44] <Wally_AMA> It is a higher position, though; and the presidential system can lead to unfortunate gridlock.
[14:44] <alex756> I know in Canada they always talk about "executive democracy" having a lot of drawbacks.
[14:44] <Wally_AMA> Well I'm American.
[14:44] <Wally_AMA> So I wouldn't know about that.
[14:45] <Metasquares> I'm American too, but I think that what they're talking about is every matter waiting for the approval of one person slowing everything down
[14:45] <alex756> I don't see the Coordinator as being a position of power, it is just to help the AMA achieve its goals.
[14:45] <Wally_AMA> I think it fundamentally should be a position of not power, but moral authority.
[14:46] <Wally_AMA> It has to be someone who can speak for us; both our members and our leadership structure.
[14:46] <alex756> The Coordinator is the one who should help implement the decisions of the members, not make the decisions.
[14:46] <Anthere> that makes me think...
[14:46] <Wally_AMA> Exactly.
[14:46] <Wally_AMA> That's why the Coordinator is elected from the committee.
[14:46] <Anthere> I would love any suggestion for building a committee/board with local associations
[14:46] <Anthere> (just an idea)
[14:46] <Wally_AMA> Best way to have the Coordinator work with others and remain accountable is to have it intimately part of the committee.
[14:47] <Wally_AMA> What do you mean, Anthere?
[14:47] <alex756> But the Coordinator will be intimately part of the Committee either way.
[14:47] <alex756> The structure of Steering Committee and Coordinator is what makes the structure work.
[14:47] <Wally_AMA> But if the Coordinator is elected seperately but holds force in the committee, it violates the principle of checks-and-balances.
[14:47] <Wally_AMA> The executive impugning on the legislature, as it were.
[14:48] <alex756> I know in a lot of NPOs the Executive Director is a separate office from the Board of Directors and serves ex officio
[14:48] <Wally_AMA> It'd be like having the Queen of England sit at the head of Parliament.
[14:48] <alex756> The board makes the decisions and the Executive Director implements them.
[14:48] <Wally_AMA> We could, of course, go the French way.
[14:48] <alex756> They are two separate roles.
[14:48] <Wally_AMA> Have a sort of President and Prime Minister.
[14:48] * Jack has joined #AMA
[14:48] <alex756> I don't think the AMA needs a head of state.
[14:49] <Wally_AMA> We have the Coordinator, elected seperately, and the Speaker of the Committee, elected from amongst the committee.
[14:49] <Wally_AMA> I'm not saying we do.
[14:49] <alex756> Hello Jack, are you a member of the AMA?
[14:49] <Jack> yeah
[14:49] <Wally_AMA> Bienvenidos.
[14:49] * Jack is now known as Sam_Spade
[14:49] <Metasquares> Ah
[14:49] <Metasquares> Hello
[14:49] <alex756> Hi Sam.
[14:49] <Sam_Spade> Hello all
[14:49] <Sam_Spade> sorry I'm late
[14:50] <alex756> We were just discussing having an elected committee that works with the Coordinator to develop the activities of the AMA.
[14:50] <Metasquares> Specifically whether the coordinator should be elected from the committee or the general membership
[14:50] <alex756> Wally suggested that it should be five or seven members with two of the former arbitrators being on the commmittee.
[14:50] <alex756> They would mostly have advisory positions.
[14:50] <Wally_AMA> Save in disciplinary matters.
[14:50] <alex756> The former coordinator would always be on the commmittee as well.
[14:51] <Wally_AMA> So all that is at issue there is whether to have two elected members or four.
[14:51] <Wally_AMA> I suppose it depends on the Coordinators' position; we only need two if the Coordinator is seperate, but ought have four if the Coordinator is derived from the board.
[14:51] <alex756> I guess we need to put together a formal proposition about this at some point soon.
[14:52] <alex756> What we could also do is have the former coordinator be the current Chair of the Steering Commimtte.
[14:52] <alex756> And we could have the person with the most votes be automatically appointed the current Coordinator.
[14:53] <alex756> Sam, since you just joined are you following all of this?
[14:53] <Sam_Spade> I've heard everything you've said since I got here
[14:53] <alex756> When the meeting started it was just Wally and myself so we just started an informal discussion, then Meta, ant and you joined in.
[14:54] <Wally_AMA> Well, what it comes down to is should the committee or the Coordinator be supreme at the end of the day?
[14:54] <alex756> I was just wondering if you have any questions sam?
[14:54] <Sam_Spade> lol
[14:54] <Sam_Spade> yeah...
[14:54] <alex756> I really do not agree with that caracterization Wally of the issue.
[14:54] <Sam_Spade> seems like you've been busy!
[14:55] <Metasquares> Hopefully neither will end up "supreme", since the goal is not to create positions of power
[14:55] <alex756> Well, we have been much more informal than the last time and that seems to be working better.
[14:55] <Sam_Spade> more is being done, I can see that
[14:55] <alex756> Yes, I just see the Coordinator as someone who has to do a lot of the 'grunt' work. It is not really a position of prestige.
[14:56] <Metasquares> The purpose of the steering committee is to organize the AMA in a way that will make it more active, right?
[14:56] <alex756> Yes, Meta that is what I am thinking, and why I generally agree with Wally's suggestion.
[14:57] <Metasquares> Then it's really more of an advisory council than anything else, and I don't see a problem with the coordinator serving on it, even if the coordinator is elected from the membership rather than the council
[14:57] <alex756> It is just that I think that the members who are elected are the voice of the other members, whereas the Coordinator's job is to interact with the larger Wikipedia community. They are not the same roles.
[14:57] <Wally_AMA> Well the point in the end must be that someone has some sort of authority over the organization. Just because it is there does not mean it need be used.
[14:58] <alex756> It is not like being the head of government.
[14:58] <Sam_Spade> representitove democracy
[14:58] <Wally_AMA> It is like being the head of state.
[14:58] <Sam_Spade> that sucks
[14:58] <Sam_Spade> I don't want a representitive
[14:58] <Sam_Spade> or a committee telling me what to do
[14:58] <Sam_Spade> or censoring me
[14:58] <alex756> It is not like being a head of state either. We are just a voluntary association, not some political power.
[14:59] <Sam_Spade> nor entrenched positions of power
[14:59] <alex756> I agree with you sam, I don't think that is the function of the Steering Committee, it would be to help organize the AMA activities.
[14:59] <Wally_AMA> You're the one that always wants titles, Sam.
[14:59] <Sam_Spade> and former coordinators and members of the arbitration commitee given permanant or mandatory positions
[14:59] <Wally_AMA> Well then the steering committee is not a government; thus, why can't the Coordinator come from there/
[14:59] <Sam_Spade> I'm a meritocrat

... continued on Wikipedia:AMA IRC Meeting log (1-30-05) Pt II.