WikiEducator talk:Community Council/Meetings/First

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What's "AGM"?

Contents

Thread titleRepliesLast modified
Concerns over Nominated Members1018:50, 22 October 2008
Thoughts on the Executive Committee413:22, 9 October 2008

Concerns over Nominated Members

I just reread the policy. Things mean more when they have meaning in the present for me. Back when it was being formulated, I had neither experience of perspective on what was relevant and what was not. I guess, I am task orientated a lot of the time, and my task this time was to find out the history and rational behind "Nominated Members".

The notion of nominating members other than elected members from the community, who will hold a position in the Council (equal I assume to elected members) for 1 year, and/or consecutive years indefinitely, strikes me as entirely odd. The only other Council I have experience with is local City Council's in the towns I have lived. They have Elected Councilors, and then Public Servants. Public Servants do not participate in voting, debating, and deciding on proposals etc. (Although, truth be told, Public Servants carry a lot of behind the scenes power over elected representatives). So it is this experience and perspective that I bring to the experience of the Wikied Council.

It seems to me that the intention behind Nominated Members is part Public Servant, part consultant. I can't see why consultancy is not just called on when needed, and I think the skills of the elected members covers most of the administration needs normally covered by Servants.

I see a risk in the Nominated Members aspect of the Policy, and I'm surprised/concerned that I appear to be the only one seeing it. An influential Elected Member could effectively stack the Council with Nominated Members. This might happen either intentionally, or more likely unintentionally. For example, the Policy referred to as "developed openly and transparently by the community" was in fact developed openly and transparently by Wayne, with some input from Steve and 1 minor edit from Randy. This is on the one hand testament to Wayne's hard work and forward thinking, but on the other hand a concern as to the influence Wayne has over the Council. If I were Wayne, I would be the first to acknowledge this, and me being me, I would be the first to acknowledge that some Council members will need to now start taking more responsibility for such developments and take some of the load off Wayne.

So I hope my message comes through clearly. It is that we must be watchful for UNINTENTIONAL stacking of the Council in favor of the more influential Elected Member at any given time. We must work hard at insuring that all the Elected Council Members have a equal sense of ownership and responsibility to the role, BEFORE we start appointing Nominated Members, if at all. This message comes from my own confusion as to the reasons we need nominated members beyond consultants when needed, and concern that the Policy (due largely to necessity at the time) has been developed up until now by one Elected Member.

Regards --Leighblackall 10:32, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

Leighblackall (talk)10:32, 2 October 2008

Leigh,

Given that that (a) you have been one of the more active and prolific members contributing to the WikiEducator project (since at least February 2007); and (b) the time period that the draft policy was initially posted (June 23, 2007) and the public notification inviting further comments was posted (June 22, 2008), how are you able to explain that did not have an opportunity to fully review and provide input to the draft policy? --Randy Fisher 00:03, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

Wikirandy (talk)00:03, 5 October 2008

Leigh,

I am waiting for your response here -

I would like to make one other point at this time ~ my concern about precedent. Like it or not, the draft policy was developed on the wiki in a very open environment.

Changing it at this point - because well, you don't like it now; or you've had a change of heart now that you've reviewed it from a different perspective; or Minhaaj doesn't like Wayne, Richard Stallman or Jimmy Wales - (see his very disrespectful, hurtful and possibly illegal Oct. 1, 2008 blog post "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing". The fact that Minhaaj wrote this disgusting piece AFTER he was elected, is very, very disconcerting.)

What if you or Minhaaj or anyone else doesn't like some other policy or decision that was made before we were elected? Do you just sweep it aside because you don't like it?

As newly-elected Council Members, we have a duty and obligation to work for the best interests of the WikiEducator project. Dividing and polarising each other, in my view, just doesn't cut it, nor represents the best interests of the people we were elected to serve.

- Randy

Wikirandy (talk)14:11, 5 October 2008

It is not me who is dividing or polarising. I highlighted an issue, proposed an alternative, and wanted to discuss and vote on it, but you say it is not open to discussion. It is you that is polarising and dividing here. My request was reasonable. See below for the rest.

Leighblackall (talk)00:46, 6 October 2008
 

Thats not as disrespectful as people profiteering in the name of open source initiative. This is exactly the democratic way to question the hideous things in the name of education and ICT. Its not about liking the policy, its about the nature and consequences of this 'already' polarized and divisive policy that is in no way democratic and even respectful. Disgusting piece of content was the email you sent me with 'abusive' language which primarily had no constructive purpose unlike this blog post which you shouldn't have mentioned because of its irrelevance to wikieducator project and its personal opinion thats none of your business.

Minhaaj (talk)18:21, 6 October 2008
 

Even if Leigh was the part of community at that time and didn't speak against policy or possibly couldn't find time to look on it, its not a crime to bring it to books at any point in time in history. Unlike your yes-man attitude to Wayne, he has used his brain and spoken up against unfair clauses. Just because you don't like it?

Minhaaj (talk)18:23, 6 October 2008
 

Hi Leigh,

You have been a leading pioneer in WikiEducator since its early days. There was a long open process in the development of the Governance policy, with numerous invitations to the community for comment. For whatever reason you chose not take the time to comment on the policy formulation process :-(.

However, this is the policy that has afforded you an elected seat on WikiEducator's Council. Now it is our collective responsibility to exercise our fiduciary responsibilities to the Community in accordance with the policies that were developed openly and transparently.

The notion of nominated members was discussed during the development of the policy. Speaking candidly -- I think this is a very smart solution on the part of WikiEducator:

  • The wiki model is based on the notion that more eyes actually contribute to the quality of a resource -- why wouldn't more eyes on council contribute to the quality of governance -- especially if they can provide an "outsiders" perspective -- Is denying the validity of informed opinion beyond our own naval gazing a contradiction in terms? Are we scared of open governance?
  • I've served on numerous advisory boards. In my experience they don't work. Very often Advisory boards are established as a political show to say we have these important people advising us. The reality is boards don't listen to advice and the advisers don't pay too much attention to the advice they're giving because they're not accountable. In the case of WikiEducator -- we're pretty smart because we can hold nominated members accountable for their decisions as voting members of council.
  • Elected members have a majority on our Council -- if we end up with poor nominated members, its our own fault for not taking the right decisions.

I'm not sure that I agree with your arguments -- you can hardly compare a municipal council with the dynamic of an open wiki :-).

Cheers

Mackiwg (talk)07:51, 5 October 2008

Thanks Wayne, and I ackowlege all your hard work in getting the Wikieducator to where it is also. But I ask that you acknowlege this issue, and accept that it be debated at the first meeting and if the Elected Members agree that it is a vulnerability as I fear it to be, that we modify the Draft Policy. See further response below.

Leighblackall (talk)00:49, 6 October 2008
 

As i have mentioned before, just because Leigh didn't participate in discussion before, that doesn't deprive him of the right, that he can't bring it up again ever.

As far as your wiki model's more eyes are concerned, if you need more eyes why not make whole community council members, this way you'll have more eyes and participation? Why create this good-for-nothing, powerless council in first place? Keep bossing around.

You being serving on numerous boards is fabulous and your point about politics is exactly right. And thats exactly why we don't need nominated members to be accountable to us where the best pratice would be to make council "MEMBERS" accountable for project's scope and success.

Its not about majority or minority of elected members. its about the principal that elected members have done all the hard work in the process of making their candidate pages and answering the questions. They are fully equipped and adept at what they do in community. nobody needs new honorary guests for doing something that we can already do. There is NO need for nominated members.

I see the relevance of municipal council with open wiki and i am sorry you can't see the analogy. Just don't let community suffer for your inability to see the logic.

Thanks

Minhaaj (talk)18:29, 6 October 2008

"....I think we should approach this head on at our first meeting, and reach consensus if possible, or, failing that, vote on whatever proposed changes are offered and then move forward together from there whatever the outcome."

I fully endorse this, at least we have a document before us on which we can discuss further. I think it is the responsibility of the elected members to first constitute the full council by nominations and then refine the draft policy. As on date, the Council not really constituted and draft policy cannot be amended by the part Council. Moreover, the elected members have agreed to the draft Policy before commencement of the elections and thus we are abide by the draft till we are in a position to modify it.

--Pankaj 05:16, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Pankaj (talk)05:16, 8 October 2008

I was not comfortable at first with the language and tone of the discussion. I also did not appreciate a comment which stated that I came in only once on the discussion of our draft. For one, it is not true, and another, it is not necessary for everybody to comment on everything. Also it is not necessary to make our presence felt by making repetitious comments. No argument becomes stronger just by being repeated by the same person/s again and again. I have been following the discussion and have been quietly waiting to see where the discussion was going. As I see it only two people have questioned the 'nomination process'. I also cannot see how minhaaj makes a statement Now that we have enough support on this, we should remove the policy where it states that we need nominated members. - where is his support - how many of the members (elected including)agree with him??


The draft constitution based on which we were elected provides for nominated members. Let us nominate members as provided for the in the same draft. Why should one be scared of nominations - we were working with a nominated Advisory Board till now - were there any problems? The will to collaborate and work together should provide the space to welcome nominated members as equal members with equal voting rights. Remember these members are being 'nominated' - somebody responsible is nominating them, seconding them - they are not thrusting themselves on the council. Why can't we be graceful and work within the current provisions of the draft and later take up this and other issues over time in a democratic way.

I have worked in several elected bodies where there is a provision of nominations, with nominees having equal rights - it is not unusual at all. The provision of nominations are usually made to adjust for any bias or imbalances in the elcted body, or to ensure certain expertise is available.

savi 18:50, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Savi.odl (talk)18:50, 22 October 2008
 
 
 
 

Thoughts on the Executive Committee

Hi Leigh,

Your notion that the Executive Committee may lead to an "impenetrable power base" seem somewhat unfounded:

  • First, in terms of the policy - "The Council has the authority to establish and appoint an Executive Committee in accordance with this policy and to determine the general responsibilities and powers of the Executive Committee." - so the powers would be determined by the full Council if Council decides that that the appointment of an Executive Committee is required;
  • In the event that council decides on an Executive committee, clear guidelines are provided on its constitution and operation;
  • It is common practice for large governing bodies (in our case a maximum of 25) to elect a smaller sub-committee to oversee the duties of council on a day-to-day basis, without negating responsibilities of accountability to the body that created it.

If the Executive Committee becomes an "impenetrable power base" it will only be through fault of the WikiEducator Council who determine the authorities of the Executive Committee. Moreover, elected Council members will always have a majority over nominated members on Council.

I don't see how the Executive Committee can become an "impenetrable power base" -- can you explain?

Cheers

Mackiwg (talk)07:25, 5 October 2008

This reply will go to Randy's questioning as well (although I am pretty sure I have already outlined why I think low engagement in the past does not mean we should accept it now - especially if it is still in Draft Status). In relation to Minhaaj, I agree that his post on his blog uses extreme language (in our eyes) but I can see past all that and recognise an underlying issue that has always concerned me about the Wiki projects generally, and the so called Governance structures they use. There IS a noticeably Western bias, there are celebrities, there are power dynamics which don't get mentioned in the rhetoric, and there is the question I even ask myself.. how much do I profit from all this and should I? I have no answers to these questions, they are simply things I think we should be very sensitive towards as we set up our governance structure. I think Minhaaj's voice is important to keep and we should work towards his acceptance as with anyone who takes the time to criticise the work - not dismiss it because we are offended by certain language or attitudes expressed SOME of the time - we are bigger than that. (defensiveness is a sign of weakness in a project).

Responsibilities

The original Draft Policy consultation period did not (in my view) achieve a level of engagement from very many of the more active users at all. At the time, I personally did not intend to run for Council and had a very poor view of politics in Wikis (but I kept that view silent because there seemed to be a popular opinion that politics is what we needed). I remember reading the Policy at some stage, saw Steve was discussing aspects of it, recognised him as experienced and critical and myself as having really no experience or perspective to add to it, and so stayed out of it. Since I did end up campaigning (after a nomination was made that included personal convincing I might add), I was elected and so now have a clearer perspective on the Policy.

Originally I didn't understand the agenda item for the first Council meeting where we were to nominate extra members to the Council. I looked into it just so I wouldn't look a fool, but saw something in that Draft Policy that made me worry. It is my view that I am acting responsibly by voicing these concerns now I am aware of them and have an elected responsibility.

Even though I did not engage with the draftng of the Policy at the time of initial consultation, I did not know that the Draft Policy would be the Policy that the first Council would be set by. It seemed fair to me that the First Elected Council would now progress the Draft into a final workable version. Now I am learning (from your perspectives at least) that the Draft Policy is in fact the Final Policy and that changing it would be a corruption of some sort of constitution somewhere. One that says in the first instance of a Council, we cannot use the Elected Members to review the Draft Policy and make sure it is right (especially in light of a low level of engagement at the initial consultation time). Now that we have Elected Members who have a responsibility, we can use that to achieve a better engagement level in the development of a Final Policy.

Finally, Wayne asked how I see an "impenetrable power base forming". I have asked a number of people I know personally with experience in politics, and they all know this situation well! Can you really not see this?

  1. Users elect members to the Council.
  2. Some members nominate new members to the Council that the electorate were not aware of, nor where the other Elected Members aware of the nomination before nomination or during campaigning.
  3. Worse, there may be a low level of Elected Member participation at the meetings where new nominations are made and voted on, and one by one the Non Elected Members have voting power.
  4. We end up with a Council with 15 Elected Members from the Wikieductor Users, and up to 10 or at least 4 non elected but Nominated Members. If the Elected Members disengage or are removed because someone was able to convince a majority that their responsibilities were not being met, we end up with a stacked council.
  5. Finally an executive committee is formed to which both Elected and Non Elected Council Members have access to. This committee has powers beyond the Council, and if no one is left in the Council to question the conduct of the Committee, then the electorate is not likely to be made aware of issues and concerns.
  6. When the new elections come, the process starts all over again, but with an established power base

It is my view that elected members are enough to govern the Wikieducator project, and that expertise should be brought in on a case by case basis - as consultants to help that Council consider the issue, and that ultimately the Elected Members will vote on the issue. I do not think we need Nominated Members for this Council, beyond consultation. It is this view that I hope we will debate at the first meeting of Council, and that the Draft Policy remains open to further development by Elected Members to decide on.

Your arguments to the contrary are of grave concern to me now as I was convinced this was a real vulnerability I was highlighting and a reasonable request to proceed on. Randy, and Wayne in other forums: your pointing to my supposed responsibilities to a consultation period before I had elected responsibilities, as though I am somehow trying to undermine a process to my own ends, is disrespectful of the issue I raise now. Rasing this issue now has no benefit to me what so ever. That consultation period for the Draft Policy has passed, it occurred at a time before we had elected members to consider it and consequently received little real input. Moreover, it evidently did not pick up the vulnerability I see in it now or suggest the alternative I am suggesting now. All this coupled with your inability to see how open the Wikieducator Council could be for bias control and disconnection between the Users and a responsive decision making channel is a serious concern to me.

Leighblackall (talk)00:35, 6 October 2008

Thanks for acknowledging the western bias Leigh and your support to eradicate the abusal clauses. I did not refer to you as profiteer as you might have noted although i would like to bring up the issue of wayne giving lame excuses for cancelling my L4C contract AFTER signing it himself posing that COL is out of funds when he is hopping all around the world on his hilarious keynotes and 'international missions' that i think is getting a better job in NZ for himself and his family. We whine about bandwidth costs and other technical problems like implementing FCK and chineese language which are as plain things as one could imagine, and yet we give out thousands of dollars in bounties for l4c workshops? what kind of crippled logic is that ? Isn't WE's responsibility is to fix its infrastructure and bandwidth issues BEFORE trying to market itself in developing countries and ofcourse the big 'peace missions' of the 'ICT Specialist'?

You are right that primary responsibility of new council is to review the draft of the policy that is by no means mutual and drafted by the consensus of community. a review of edits made by the big Mack and 'courtesy' 5 edits by Steve Foerster doesn't make it any better. Our community is powerful than that and don't want itself abused by Mack using its name for something that promotes his interests and agenda. By adding clauses like removal of elected members he wanted to remove the opponents of his ideas. I wonder why people from COL were allowed in first place to contest for elections? Its like opening up a hotel and eating like guests. Then new council members weren't given sysops right so that they can't make modification to 'locked' page of policy, thanks to Mack again. If that wasn't enough lets see his words from a forum post. 'For good or worst we are stuck with this policy and we need to complete our fiduciary responsibilities as per policy that community has made' which is a plain idiotic statement since this policy had no community participation and there are no fiduciary responsibilities of the council except to zip up and see Mack kickin back on cruises all around the world and say 'CHEESE'.

Minhaaj (talk)18:46, 6 October 2008

You should get a job in the US presidential election campaigns Minhaaj :) You certainly don't hold back. When I read your post here, I had to work hard to remove the personal insults and the like so that I can see what you are saying. I need to do this for my own sensibilities, which I am sure Randy and Wayne would be dealing with in reading this post too. No doubt it will be hard for many people not to take your posts personally as you certainly write and no doubt feel personally about it. But their is valuable commentary underneath it all. Me and my "western values" I suppose, try to keep it objective and non personal - but I can do that for you when I read you. One way I do this is to imagine myself as the one you are writing about. I also have a job that is paid substantially more than people are paid elsewhere. It is still a far cry from what others that do my work get, but it is certainly in the wealthy class bracket globally speaking. What I mean is, you cause me to reflect on how I go about my work in this very international project we have, and how others may perceive that work. Where as before Wikied, my contact with people online was exclusively with people like me. The Wikieducator project has put me in touch with people of vastly different background and thinking to me, and your post (if I work a bit to read it) helps me see that. I write this in the hope that Wayne and Randy will pause and not let the insult they would no doubt be feeling, affect them too much.

Leighblackall (talk)19:42, 6 October 2008

To think of Wayne's take on Democracy as a product of "Western" thought, is, I think, to ignore it's relation to Democratic Centralism (See The Bolsheviks and Workers Control by Maurice Brinton. Wayne's has given a very persuasive argument for accepting that his personal judgement is a better guide to action than formal collective consideration. I think has considerable talents at presenting persuasive arguments, which if he can share with WE by acting as an ambassador, and helping us gain funding. However, WE should not let his talents divert ourselves from our responsibility to facilitate precisely the sort of formal collective consideration which can provide. There are formal points I would like raise concerning Wayne's points:

  1. I find the term 'fiduciary as involving legal language a little at odds with his generally chatty style. It is certainly an element of company law in the UK. However, Wayne's use of the term is at odds with how that law functions in practice here. Draft policy is not a fiduciary responsibility until its has been formally adopted, i.e. is no longer draft policy, but formal policy. Of course there might be other judicial zones which handle this matter quite differently, and if anyone can cite some examples it would be interesting.
  2. Wayne also uses a status quo argument which I think is similarly flawed. When considering amendments to a policy which has already been adopted, the status quo argument is that things should stay as they are until an amendment is agreed. However as there only exists a draft policy at the moment, then the status quo is actually that there should be no nominated members except as provided for in any policy which has actually been adopted.
  3. Wayne also seems to want to privilege those of us who choose to organise on a national basis. Perhaps he could expand on this.

By creating informal groups, whereby Council Members can work with the WE community to practically address the key issues that WE face, progress can be made

  • in creating a shared approach for dealing with problems which can be refined into draft policy before being passed onto the formal Council for amendment and adoption.
  • in creating shared working processes which constitute an arena in which the participatory democracy Wayne also advocates can be realised.

from these experiences a broader range of people will be able to understand the practical consequences of any policy innovations which are proposed. Then, I would argue, we would have a larger and better informed turn out in future voting processes. It may well be that we find that lots of people are really keen on Wayne's approach . . . or we may find that there is another preferred option.

What I would really to see is how the Council can set up such informal working groups to help cope the problems which WE is currently experiencing. Taking an example form my own personal experience joining 10th Online L4C Workshop. 62 participants from 23 countries. However only 15 participants signed their learning contract, and it appears that only 10 actually developed user pages. The goal of the course was to gain WikiMaster/WikiBuddy recognition. Of those 10, only 2 did so, 3 getting WikiMaster/WikiApprentice Level 2, 4 getting WikiMaster/WikiApprentice Level 1. I found the two people supporting us through the process very friendly and helpful. And it may well be that they are checking to see whether they can upgrade anyone's course work. However I think it is at a structural level that the high drop out level needs to be addressed. I have tried to encourage other people to join WE, but as they have less experience of dealing with wikis than I have, they are finding it impenetrable and are on the point of giving up. Furthermore there are many instances of generic pages being created - take Booklist as a recent example - which simply create more confusion. At various times I have encouraged editors to think more about the titles of the pages they start, whether it is something specific to them or their organisation, or something that is open to the whole community.

So I suppose what I am asking for is that the Council creates a Usability Working Group to start dealing with these issues. I think this would involve a smaller group of council members to self-select to participate in this working group to draft good practice guidelines which can then be discussed, adapted and adopted if acceptable by WE as a whole. If there are WE editors, particularly Council members who would like to discuss this proposal in greater detail, please feel free to contribute to the Usability Working Group proposal for first Community Council Meeting section of User:Leutha/Guidance for the Perplexed. Leutha 13:22, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Leutha (talk)13:22, 9 October 2008