[Osmf-talk] Eligibility to vote for Wikipedia Foundation

Nick Black nick at blacksworld.net
Wed Aug 12 17:16:01 UTC 2009

Hi Guys,

I'm definitely a supporter of inclusiveness and was one of the  
supporters of the "send a postcard" idea that the OSM-F started with.

Ultimately this discussion comes back to the "what is the Foundation  
for" debate.  I'm a firm believer that the Foundation is here to  
support the development and growth of OSM and our map. After reading  
this email, I know that my mind is very open to ideas about how we  
qualify members (eg OSM activities or ability to pay the fee) and how  
much a fee should be (if at all).

A few things to think about:

* How do we weight the relative values of a) number of members b)  
quality of members, in terms of their commitment to OSM c) their  
aggregate financial contributions to OSM-F

* I have friends who earn very low salaries but pay £10 per month to  
Greenpeace.  Is Greenpeace better off for their £10 a month, or would  
they be better to get my friend to write 5 letters a month to MPs or  
blockade one power station a year?  They are a well run, international  
organization, so I guess they've thought this through and figured out  
that the £10 per month is better.  But should the two be mutually  

* Lots of online communities get by from donations?  How much do the  
OSM-F receive in donations? (I'm writing this offline and can't look  
up the finances)  Do non-profits typically raise more funds from  
donation drives than from membership fees?

* Eugene (a Philippines OSMer) suggested: "Adjust the £10 per member  
fee to reflect purchasing power parity (PPP). If my calculations are  
correct, this comes out to £4.38 for the Philippines which is a more  
feasible P350."  Would this be a fairer way to collect membership fees?

So, no concrete answers, but things to think about.


On 10 Aug 2009, at 16:01, 80n wrote:

> There was a lot of discussion about this when the foundation was  
> first established.
> We wanted to be as inclusive as possible.  There were discussions  
> about people who might want to support the foundation who were not  
> actual contributors, and how people from developing countries could  
> afford any significant membership fee, etc.
> For the very first vote I recall that we set a £15 membership fee  
> but also allowed people to become members for no fee if they sent in  
> a postcard.  The intention being a very low barrier to entry.  The  
> postcard scheme died out as nobody ever submitted one.
> Since then we have not revisit the subject.  There has been plenty  
> of other more important work to keep the Foundation very busy, and  
> the current system hasn't seemed especially broken, so it has stayed  
> unchanged.  It's a simple system and works reasonably well.
> As far as liability goes, technically there is a guarantee that each  
> member would contribute a maximum £5 in the event that the  
> Foundation became insolvent.  If the Foundation was ever so badly  
> run, financially, that that were to happen then it would be the  
> least of our problems.
> Membership dues are not a major income source for OSMF but they do  
> provide an element of diversification and grass roots support.   
> Personally, I'd hate to see us 100% reliant on donations from  
> commercial sponsors.  Membership dues may be more important for  
> local chapters who may not have any other income source at all when  
> they first get started.
> The purpose of OSMF is to support the OSM project.  It should  
> represent the views of the contributors as broadly as possible.   
> Automatic membership for anyone who has made a certain number of  
> contributions would broaden the number of people that we claim to  
> represent, but I don't know if it would increase the number of  
> people who actually cared enough to vote.
> If the community feels this is something that ought to be revisited  
> then we should.
> Etienne
> On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 2:36 PM, Peter Miller <peter.miller at itoworld.com 
> > wrote:
> On 10 Aug 2009, at 14:13, Tom Hughes wrote:
> > On 10/08/09 11:22, Peter Miller wrote:
> >
> >> Fyi, I have just be emailed to say that I can vote to the Wikipedia
> >> Foundation Board of Trustees. I have never given them any money and
> >> have never consciously signed up to any foundation. I would  
> strongly
> >> support a move to this sort of membership before the 2010 OSMF AGM.
> >
> > I'm not sure that is possible - the foundation is a Company Limited
> > by Guarantee as defined by the UK Companies Act. As such only those
> > people who are members of the company may vote for the directors of
> > the foundation (which is what the board is in law).
> >
> > The question would therefore be whether it is possible to make
> > membership free so that all contributors meeting certain criteria
> > can be deemed to be members.
> >
> > I suspect the problem with that will be question of the financial
> > guarantee that backs the limited liability status - currently that
> > guarantee is provided by the membership fees I believe. In other
> > cases of Companies Limited by Guarantee that I have seen it was done
> > by members agreeing to pay a small amount (one pound) if the company
> > went bust but there does need to be some sort of guarantee as I
> > understand things.
> >
> Thanks Tom,
> Possibly the foundation might like to respond to this at to these
> points to which I would have thought it should be possibly to find
> answers.
> Regards,
> Peter
> > Tom
> >
> > --
> > Tom Hughes (tom at compton.nu)
> > http://www.compton.nu/
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Nick Black
nick at blacksworld.net

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