User:Sj/Board elections begin

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Preparation for second Board election underway

By Sj, 5 May 2005

The Wikimedia Foundation recently announced preparations for this year's election of Member Representatives to its Board of Trustees. Under the current Foundation bylaws (official PDF), the seats of two of the five Trustees are elected from the community each year.

Election administrators selected

Current Trustee Florence Devouard asked the foundation mailing list on April 26 for volunteers for election administration. Four days later, five volunteers were named the "organisation team" for the upcoming election: users Tim Starling, Danny, BjarteSorensen, Datrio, and Aphaia. A late-night discussion on IRC on Friday, April 29, involving Anthere, Danny, Aphaia, Bjarte, and a brief appearance by Foundation President Jimmy Wales, helped to finalize the selection. The two "Inspectors of the Election" required by the bylaws section on Member Representatives have yet to be appointed, but will likely come from this team.

Devouard noted in her announcement of the team that it represented "4 continents, several languages and several projects." She added that the organisation team are active both on Meta and on IRC, enabling immediate discussions. Moreover a separate #wikimedia-conclave channel was created on freenode.net to focus discussions about election preparations. It was not initially made an invite-only channel, and anyone is welcome to join; however for certain sensitive discussions, it may be made private.

Discussions ensued on the mailing list, regarding how to promote and translate news of the elections across the projects, and how to improve on last year's election. The need for broad and active translations, and for translating all candidate statements or none into any given language, was mentioned. Aphaia quickly set up a translator's page for translators interested in overseeing translations into each language.

Official candidate statements are expected to be limited to a certain length, although this was not strictly enforced last year. Candidates will likely be welcome to write as much as they like in their user space.

2004 Board elections

The Wikimedia Foundation was announced by Wales on June 20, 2003. Its goals, as later clarified in its bylaws, are "to encourage the further growth and development of open content, social sofware WikiWiki-based projects [and] to provide the full contents of those projects to the public free of charge."

In January 2004, Wales appointed Tim Shell and Michael Davis, whom he had known for many years, to the initial Board of Trustees. The [http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_bylaws Foundation bylaws] were finalized in early 2004, and provided for election of two Trustees from the community, named User Representatives.

The inaugural 2004 election for the Board of Trustees was announced in early May, 2005, and overseen by two Election Officials, Danny and Imran, with technical help from Tim Starling.

Voting was initially scheduled to take place for a full week beginning on Saturday, May 30, but was later extended to two weeks. Starling developed a new voting tool integrated with MediaWiki for use in the election; it has since been used for many other Wikimedia-related elections, including two separate votes for the English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee. The voting system was initially set to be First Past the Post, but after some controversy this was finally changed to a system of Approval Voting. In this system, voters vote to "approve" as many candidates as they like, in no particular order, and the candidated with the most votes wins.

Contributing and Volunteer Members

The two seats on the Board to be filled by the 2004 election were titled Volunteer User Representative and Contributing Active Member Representative, in anticipation of having a system for paying membership; they were to represent the needs of non-members and members, respectively, in addition to the general duties of all Trustees. The bylaws differentiate between Contributing Active Members and Volunteer Active Members; however, there is currently no formal system for contributing membership and no practical difference between these groups. This year's election is not expected to distinguish between the two seats.