News and notes
Election results released
Community-elected trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation Board ... the three successful candidates (red) and the eight unsuccessful (blue). Samuel Klein gained the support of 43.5% of the 1809 voters (y-axis). Top-right is the strongest direction, in which supports are high and opposes are low; bottom-left is the weakest direction, in which supports are low and opposes are high. Using the S/S+O formula (x-axis), the rightmost three candidates were successful.
WMF election results
Samuel Klein, WMF trustee 2013–15
Phoebe Ayers, WMF trustee 2013–15
María Sefidari, WMF trustee 2013–15
Delphine Ménard, elected member of the FDC, 2013–15
Cristian Consonni, elected member of the FDC, 2013–15
Less than three days after the close of voting, the volunteer election committee posted the results on Meta. The worldwide Wikimedia movement has elected three WMF trustees for two-year terms on the 10-seat Board: Samuel Klein (supported by 43.5% of voters), Phoebe Ayers (38.3%), and María Sefidari (35.6%). The new trustees will take their seats at a critical time for the movement: one of the first tasks in their terms will be to help the Board to find and approve the new executive director to take up the top job when Sue Gardner departs.
Samuel Klein, from the United States, has expertise in digital libraries and participates in an internet research group. His academic qualifications are in physics, mathematics, algorithms and language. He has been closely involved in outreach and community content for the One Laptop per Child project. Samuel speaks intermediate-level German, Spanish, and French. He is just completing his second term as a WMF trustee.
Phoebe Ayers, also from the US, is a science and engineering librarian. She has experience in Wikimania coordination and administration, and is a co-author of the book How Wikipedia Works (2008). Phoebe served as a chapter-selected WMF trustee from 2010 to 2012.
María Sefidari (Raystorm), from Spain, has qualifications in psychology and was vice-president of Wikimedia Spain (2010–12). She speaks near-native-level English and intermediate-level French. María is the treasurer of the WMF's Affiliations Committee and has been a member of the IEG Committee.
The first two elected members of the Funds Dissemination Committee will be Delphine Ménard (notafish) and Cristian Consonni (CristianCantoro). The FDC recommends to the Board the funding it believes FDC-eligible Wikimedia affiliates should receive, based on applications made to it in two rounds each year.
Delphine Ménard, from France, studied in the US and Austria, and holds an undergraduate degree in political science and a postgraduate degree in international communication and marketing. She has worked as an event manager and has experience in managing budgets, and has near-native-level English, good German, and intermediate-level Spanish. Delphine is a board member of Wikimedia Germany and has worked for the WMF as chapters coordinator. Cristian Consonni has experience in the GNU/Linux and Free Software worlds, and is a member of the Board of Wikimedia Italy. He speaks intermediate-level English and French.
Susana Morais (Lusitana), from Portugal, speaks advanced-level English and German, and intermediate-level Spanish. Her interests lie in the arts and photography. Susana was appointed as the inaugural FDC ombudsperson last year. The FDC ombudsperson is charged with receiving and publicly documenting complaints about the FDC process, and providing feedback and recommendations to the WMF Board about how the FDC process can be improved.
One of the surprises of the election was that only 1809 members of the global community voted, just over half of the numbers who had their say in the election of community-elected trustees in 2011, against a much less marked shrinkage over that time in the number of active editors, from about 90,000 to about 80,000. In the so-called support–oppose electoral system—imported for the first time from the English Wikipedia's ArbCom elections against doubts expressed by several editors at the election talk page—voters faced three choices for each candidate: to support, to oppose, or to leave the setting at neutral.
Brief analysis of the vote
The scatter graph at the top of the page shows each candidate as a diamond point—red for the three successful candidates and blue for the eight unsuccessful candidates. By definition, the three rightmost candidates were successful, based on the S/S+O formula, where supports are divided by supports plus opposes; this formula is represented by the x-axis. As a simple guide, all possible votes fall within a triangle bounded by theoretical lines representing zero supports, zero opposes, and zero neutrals (the top half of the triangle is not shown to produce a clearer display).
Faced with 11 candidates and three vacant seats, voters cast an average of 3.2 supports, 1.9 opposes, and 5.9 neutrals. Compared with the pure support votes on the y-axis, the use of the formula resulted in only two differences in the order of candidates: the inversions of Kat Walsh's and Michel Aaij's positions, and John Vandenberg's and Jeromy-Yu Chan's positions. The fact that the red–blue boundary between the successful and the unsuccessful remained untouched by these differences has avoided immediate debate about the operation of the formula.
The Signpost's attempts to locate the voter list for the last community-elected trustee positions in 2011 were unsuccessful—despite the apparent significance of the ability this would give to analyse the patterns of shrinkage in the active electorate throughout the world over this period.
FDC members and FDC ombudsperson
Seven candidates competed for the two FDC positions. Delphine Ménard gained the support of 45.7% of voters, and Cristian Consonni 32.0%. Voters cast an average of 1.8 supports, 1.1 opposes, and 4.1 neutrals; relative to the number of candidates for each body, this was a much higher proportion of neutrals. The two new members will join an FDC that is grappling with the need to streamline the process for applicants, while at the same time to deliver to the FDC and the staff the right type and level of detail to make its judgements fair and accurate.
The two candidates for ombudsperson gained 42.8% (Susana Morais) and 35.4% (Matt Bisanz). Voters cast an average of 0.8 supports for this single position, with 0.2 opposes and 1.0 neutrals.
As for previous elections, comments on this year's election are being gathered on a Meta post mortem page. While the results were released abnormally quickly, issues included a perceived difficulty on the voting page itself, which was extremely confusing to get to. In the words of one editor:
||I think this statement is really nonsensible: Go to the wiki page "Special:SecurePoll" on one wiki you qualify to vote from. For example, if you are most active on the wiki meta.wikimedia.org, go to meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:SecurePoll. I cut and pasted Special:SecurePoll in the search box. It took me to what looked like the right place to vote. So I tried to vote. It said I was disqualified. After looking around for an hour and trying different things I realized I was going to a meta page. So I backed out to the main page and pasted it there. Then it took me to a place I could vote. You all really need to rethink how this voting process works. I'll bet there are lots of editors who give up in frustration.
However, in replying to this user, Risker (a member of the election committee and its principal public face) pointed out that a direct link to the poll page would allow readers to vote without seeing the candidates. The voting wiki was also rife with problems; MZMcBride pointed out several partway through the election. Translation of the election introduction and candidate statements was also slow to come in, a problem occasionally exacerbated by a need to clarify texts after they had already been translated.
Translations were also a major part of what was possibly the largest issue: the sudden delay of the election by one week at very nearly the literal last minute. The election committee gave as its reasons:
- We have been unable to verify that the list of eligible voters is complete and that all voters meet the published criteria
- We have been unable to verify that the SecurePoll setups for the election are properly functioning
- The voter interfaces have not been translated and are not currently available in any language other than English, thus disadvantaging Wikimedians who do not read English.
The diamond points are candidates for the FDC—successful (red), and unsuccessful (blue). The two ombudsperson candidates are represented by the red and blue small bars.
- Legal victory: The Wikimedia Foundation has prevailed in a defamation case brought against it by a former cabinet member of Italy.
- New user group: The GLAM-Wiki community in the United States awoke on 26 June to find that their application to become an official Wikimedia user group was approved by the Affiliations Committee. The GLAM-Wiki U.S. Consortium will remain as a user group for a minimum of one year before it needs to reapply for that status.
- First World War edit-a-thons: Given the upcoming centennials of events related to the First World War, several edit-a-thons are being organized for 29 June. Further information is on Meta.
- CAPTCHA for each edit?: While the Portuguese Wikipedia voted to require a CAPTCHA before saving any edit from an anonymous or unconfirmed user, comments from the wider Wikimedia community on the resultant Bugzilla thread have been overwhelmingly negative.
- Freedom of panorama: A legal intern with the Wikimedia Foundation has published an opinion that Wikimedia users "generally cannot use [freedom of panorama] as a reason to host an otherwise copyright-protected photo of a statue on Commons."
- When humans disappear...: An intriguing blog post in Scientific American this week has explored how transcribing Wikipedia for a nascent population left after an apocalyptic event could (possibly) work. According to the post, doing this with the current size of Wikipedia, which is measured at approximately 1800 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, would require a significant number of pencils.
Check back for the next Signpost on February 27.