[Osmf-talk] Membership applications from Skobbler employees

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Thu Aug 25 07:52:50 UTC 2011


Hi,

On 08/25/11 02:00, SteveC wrote:
> On 8/24/2011 4:17 AM, Frederik Ramm wrote:
>> At least here in Germany, the Wikimedia Foundation does not have a
>> reputation of good governance, and does not enjoy a lot of trust.
>
> Why is that, and how can we avoid it?

I'm not a Wikimedia insider myself and only know stuff that was widely 
reported. In 2010, the German foundation created a special working group 
(the "AG Verantwortungsstruktur" dealing with things somewhere in 
between our Strategic and AoA working groups) which went on to install a 
second legal body (a so-called gGmbH in addition to the existing 
so-called e.V.) under a shroud of secrecy which caused a lot of bad 
press and made some high-ranking people resign in protest. Only last 
month, a board member quit Wikimedia claiming she could not do her job 
because the treasurer (another board member) was holding back important 
information. The chairman of the board was publicly attacked for spying 
on a working group tasked with distributing a EUR 200k project budget, 
leading the the resignation in protest of the chairwoman of that working 
group and a legal investigation into whether he was breaching data 
protection law.

And this is only what transpired publicly (sources, in German, e.g. 
http://www.kanzleikompa.de/2011/07/19/rucktritte-bei-wikimedia-e-v/, but 
reports have also been in the mainstream media e.g. Der Spiegel; since 
the general public does not distinguish between Wikipedia-the-project 
and Wikimedia-the-foundation this of course reflected badly on Wikipedia 
even though 99.9% of Wikipedians are totally uninterested).

What can we do to avoid it?

Call me a cynic, but from my (limited) experience with other 
not-for-profits and I tend to thinkg that the amount of fear, hate, 
mistrust, and general bad karma is proportional to the size and budget 
of the organisation.

If we manage to keep OSMF small and relatively unimportant, then we'll 
avoid problems like those. If we aim at 10k members, a yearly budget in 
the six figures, and full-time staff, then we *will* have these problems 
too.

Bye
Frederik




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