Board of Trustees election: meet the candidates

A few days ago, the candidates for Board of Trustees got together and live-streamed a candidates’ discussion. You can see it here in real time, warts and all, not like the old days when the recording would disappear into the basement of the Signpost and reemerge a few days later with the bloopers removed.

They spend a minute and a half each introducing themselves, then another hour and a half answering questions.

The election links again are:

Board of Trustees election choices

All right, I don’t have any time, so let’s make this quick, shall we?

We need to choose three community members for board of trustees, so which three?

The first obvious choice is Dariusz Jemielniak. He got rid of the onerous Superprotect and he backed James Heilman in the 2015 board fiasco. This is significant because only board members were able to see what was said privately about Heilman, so we cannot make independent judgments. It is all too easy to throw someone under the bus in these lynch mob scenarios, and Dariusz has proved himself to be pure gold by resisting that without betraying the confidential nature of board deliberations.

The other obvious choice is María Sefidari. Sure, she was appointed in the aftermath of the Heilman business, and not elected, as some say should have been done, but a special election? I think not. She was already elected once, and this was the minimally disruptive way of handling the empty board seat. It’s time to confirm her again with an election.

So, let’s rule out a few people. Milos Rancic with the green hair and blue beard promises red eyebrows for the future. Abbad Diraneyya brings exactly the type of nuance on women’s participation that you would expect of an Arab male. Peter Gallert is running on “transparency” and “competence” without being very specific, a big “citation needed” here. Abel Lifaefi Mbula s running on being from a black African country, this is not enough. All of these have some limited local experience with the movement that makes them interesting and valuable somewhere, but they are not board material.

So that leaves Chris Keating, James Heilman, and Yuri Astrakhan for the third choice. Their answers to specific questions are on this page.

Chris Keating is a Wikimedia UK insider, familiar with chapters etc, he has written a long rambling discussion of metrics here, complete with kitten and shoe images, but he does seem to get it.  (endorsing Heilman)

James Heilman may attract a protest vote, since his conflict with Jimbo and the board over the goofy Knowledge Engine fiasco was extraordinarily public. Some may want to reinstate him, as a protest against his original removal and in order to affirm the rights of the community to representation on the board without what turned out to be unjustified WMF interference. But in my humble opinion, Lila is gone, the knowledge engine is gone, and the appointed board members who tried to steer the foundation in a disastrous direction are (mostly) gone. So Doc James came to power at exactly the right time that he was needed in the movement, and now that the movement has stabilized, his voice has already been heard and he has already made the desired impact. While it is tempting to reward his past courage with a vote, the future challenges of the movement lie elsewhere, probably with artificial intelligence and community culture. (have decided to endorse) we need someone who can stand up to Jimbo and the rest of the board, and keep a reality check on the movement.

So that is why I am leaning to Yuri Astrakhan, a techie guy and former WMF employee who seems to have some verbal and administrative skills, with Chris Keating as second choice, as I do think choosing him would give too much power to WMUK, which already has a history of too much influence, too much exclusion of women (and inability to moderate the Manchester crowd), and too much paid editing. (no sorry, Heilman is the only possible choice)

The candidates’ statements are here , the questions for the candidates are here, the landing page to vote is here.

UPDATE: Okay here are some links. Election stats from previous years. And you can see a list of who has voted here. So far, 1,738 voters have voted and staff are eligible to vote, although most are doing so under their individual accounts and not their staff accounts.

Oh, and I hereby endorse James Heilman (Doc James). Just remembered he said in his statement, “If elected to the board of the WMF, the position of chair at Wiki Project Med Foundation (WPMF) will most likely be taken on by Shani Evanstein.” From what I hear, that project is in dire need of a woman’s touch, the coverage of women’s health issues is said to be pitiful, and the ability of the male doctors to listen is zero.

So let’s kick him upstairs where he can keep an eagle eye on Jimbo, as he likes to do. Not that Jimbo is Wikipedia’s biggest problem, he is not by a long shot, in fact he is a huge net positive. We still need that type of wild creativity, but it needs to be balanced out with a reality check, and Heilman has certainly proved he knows how to stand up to Jimmy and the rest of the board.


Again, the voting system is hidden on a back page, but this election has the usual WMF formula voting where you can leverage your vote by voting against the candidates you do not want.  Those who are in the know can use this to double the value of their vote. See here:

Voters submit votes using a Support/Neutral/Oppose system. The votes will be tallied and the candidates will be ranked by percentage of support, defined as the number of votes cast in support of the candidate divided by the total number of votes cast for the candidate (“neutral” preferences are not counted, so this is the sum of support and oppose votes) – Support/Support+Oppose. The candidates with support from at least 10% of voters and with the highest percentage of support will be recommended to the Board of Trustees for appointment, which occurs once additional verification of requirements is completed.

Neutral votes are not counted; this is a sucker vote. Americans please pay attention, this is not the type of voting we are used to, and gives undue influence to Europeans, who are used to esoteric vote-counting systems. Your vote for each candidate should be either support or oppose. If you already voted, you can go back and change your vote.

My support votes will go to:

Dariusz Jemielniak (pundit)
James Heilman (Doc James)
María Sefidari (Raystorm)

Trustees election

They seem to have hidden this election pretty thoroughly. No banners that I have seen and the candidates’ statements are nearly impossible to find.

And yes, James Heilman is running again, and has been deemed officially eligible.

So the candidates’ statements are here. And the fun part–the answers to the questions, like whether women should be allowed on Wikipedia or not, is here. The questions have been nicely sanitized from a rather rough list of community submitted questions.

There are two other elections at the same time, Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) and FDC Ombudsperson, look in the side bar. (No, they are in June, you find out if you play follow-the-link long enough.)

I might write later on the subject, especially if there is a request (yeah, I hear ya, WR proboards, and I’ve been pondering the Kohs thingy ^^ first things first etc) but there’s a lot of reading to get through and the format is not that friendly. Anyhow you should read it for yourself before reading any editorial.

Merkel vs King Salman

Looks like Merkel wears pretty much the same outfit everywhere. If that’s how she gets people to talk about her policies instead of what she was wearing, it didn’t work this time. The news services noted that she did not wear “hijab”. Well no one really wears hijab in Saudi Arabia, they wear niqab by tradition and abaya by law, but sure she wasn’t wearing those either. Outdoors, too, but hey, it’s Jeddah, by the sea, and not the stuffy Wahhabi interior.

In spite of rumors about the king’s health, it looks like this time, the handshake photo op went off without a hitch.

…but wait, what’s this handshake with bin Nayaf? Is he crushing her thumb?

Methodist mutiny

Robin Ridenour (L) and Bishop Oliveto

Members of the United Methodist church are girding up their loins to defy the UMC hierarcy after the Judicial council returned an unfavorable ruling on Bishop Karen Oliveto’s consecration as Bishop. The bishop appears to be married to a woman, Deaconess Robin Ridenour. The judicial council did not take any action though, other than to return the ruling to a lower court.  In the meantime they are taking every chance they get to refer to her by title as “Bishop Karen Oliveto”.  You can bet the words “justice”, “subversive” and “inclusive” are making the rounds of the mailing lists tonight.  The patriarchy  better get ready to take a beating.  And Karen Oliveto’s Wikipedia article?  A stub, naturally, but it does provide the information that “At the time of her election, she was the senior pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. Oh, it’s all becoming perfectly clear. “Now we know in part, then we shall know in full,” to quote one of Christianity’s most infamous patriarchs.

Reddit’s Red Pill misogyny forum linked to New Hampshire politician

Robert Fisher - New Hampshire legislature

Robert Fisher in the N.H. legislature

An interesting read. The secret identity of New Hampshire politician Robert Fisher has been pieced together by this journalist in “The Republican Lawmaker Who Secretly Created Reddit’s Women-Hating ‘Red Pill’” by Bonnie Bacarisse.

Oh dear:

“In 2008, writing under the username FredFredrickson, Fisher posited that the notion that “rape is bad” was not an absolute truth. He wrote, “I’m going to say it—Rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”

And the Red Pill is supposed to have more than 195,000 subscribers on Reddit, all lapping up its conspiracy theories.

Robert Fisher with UBER sunglasses.png

Future so dark, gotta wear shades – UBER shades LOL

Hmm, Snopes has just covered this. And the Boston Globe, Yup, it’s viral all right. And his Wikipedia article, which has consisted of a one line sentence and one ref since December 2016, has just started expanding dramatically.

I would say his ex has dodged a bullet.

Wiki Tribune

Others have written comprehensively about this, Jimbo’s newest business venture, I will just add a few quick links.

Here is the WikiTribune campaign video on Vimeo.

There is an interesting thread here, about Terms of Service, and the potential liability of writers, since it looks like this is a British entity and under the stricter British defamation laws. (Someone should find out how they get such interesting comments instead of the usual KEK Army garbage, and apply the technology to Wikipedia.)

From the Guardian article you find out there is a previous business model, the Dutch media service De Correspondent, that seems to be working (citation needed).  [Wikipedia article.]

BBC News seems to have published 4 or 5 articles about this in the last 24 hours, but the one that explains everything is here.  Advisors to what BBC refers to as “the scheme” are:

  • Silicon Valley venture capitalist (and former WMF board member) Guy Kawasaki,
  • journalism lecturer Prof Jeff Jarvis,
  • US law professor (and former presidential candidate endorsed by Jimbo) Larry Lessig, and
  • model/actress Lily Cole, whose Wikipedia article looks nothing like her Wikipediocracy article.

I only see one serious knowledgeable person here.  The others look like talkers, big picture thinkers, and window dressing.  The only woman – and there is unfortunately only one, so groupthink –  is notable for her looks.

Will one of the WP criticism sites do any deep background on these people, preferably one that doesn’t have an ax to grind against Jimbo? Hello, Wikipedia Review, have you got talent on board for that level of research?  Where is your blog?  (NB: ok, Wikipediocracy’s got it,  Vigilant came back for a rare cameo.)

So three concerns.

  • How will they prevent the climate from degenerating into toxicity, as it has on Wikipedia?
  • Will this format allow women new access to coverage in reliable sources that has made them so hard to write Wikipedia articles about?  If so we may find a flurry of citations using this source that will give it some google juice.
  • Will this conflict with Wikipedia’s business model, and give Jimbo a COI that would force him to give up his seat on the WMF board (which would make me very unhappy).  Or does all this talk about clickbait mean WikiTribune will be linked to gmail in the same way that Yahoo is linked to the clickbait infomercials.