Wiki Bureaucracy/Bylaws/Talk

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2006-07-21 15:20:35   Who currently has full administrative powers on the davis wiki? —JamesSchwab

I think we ought to axe the dictator for life aspects and use the title "General director" instead. I'd certainly like to be removed from any position if I were misbehaving. —PhilipNeustrom

2006-07-21 15:55:39   I like to add some stuff to the amendments. Amendments can be brought up at any time and will be addressed in the quartely meeting. A simple majority will pass the amendment and will be effectively immediately or upon an agreed date. —SimonFung

2006-07-21 16:04:00   I am a bit confuse on how many people will be on the board. Is it 9 people or 5 people? —SimonFung

2006-07-21 16:12:37   Should there be an article or section on how the officers will be appointed or elected. I suggest the general director should appeal to the members for general adim and then have a election. Term for general admin should be a year(12 months or school year). —SimonFung

2006-07-21 17:39:22   Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but I worry about an unethical outside group (like Something Awful, or a flood of Slashdotters if a story about a vote is posted) creating hundreds or thousands of accounts and doing serious damage while staying within the rules of the bylaws. I would think consensus should be limited to only those votes cast by members created before the debate began... but I don't like that either, as I feel people should be full and equal members at signup. Does anybody have an elegant solution for mass vandalism that is currently allowed within the scope of these bylaws that won't cut honest members out? —JabberWokky

2006-07-21 17:43:53   I dont like the thought of turning the adminsitration of the wiki into an electoral that will easily turn into a political process.....which in my opinion would be unhealthy for the mission of the wiki. —JamesSchwab

2006-07-21 18:02:21   Would there still be an official "owner" of the site? —JamesSchwab

2006-07-21 18:19:05   So maybe turning the wiki into a co-op should be discussed —JamesSchwab

2006-07-21 18:33:21   Maybe we can have the elections at the annual fundraiser. I know several local organizations that operate this way. The fundraiser and election do not have to be on a specific day, but just a specific month. —JamesSchwab


2006-07-28 03:00

We should definitely consult with an experienced nonprofit management professional before proceeding too far down the membership path. It's my (limited) understanding that using a true membership structure can make life very difficult for charities/nonprofits. True membership structures are much better suited to cooperatives, wherein the members have a shared economic interest as well as a shared interest in the substance of the organization's mission. That's not to say it can't work here, and maybe in the case of Davis Wiki it really would be best, but when I formed a 501(c)(3) around the turn of the century, I was strongly (and eloquently, and persuasively) advised against using a bona-fide membership structure. Admittedly, the organization I formed had a very different mission and structure. Many nonprofit organizations call donors "members", but they take measures to stop short of actually giving that legal weight or organizational authority. I would not recommend this approach, as I think it's misleading, but keep in mind that just because you see nonprofits calling people "members" it doesn't necessarily mean they're using a true membership structure.

Also, I think it'd be unnecessarily handicapping the potential of Davis Wiki if it limited eligibility for the Board to just those who edit the wiki, or those who live in Davis, or similar restrictions. There are a ton of truly qualified, capable, and like-minded folks beyond the close confines of Davis who could really contribute quite a bit to the Davis Wiki beyond fixing formatting errors on wiki articles. Communities stagnate when they become too insular, and thrive when they benefit from regular infusions of fresh ideas from external sources. I think the best approach would be to have Davis Wiki as one project of a larger nonprofit organization whose mission is to build, promote, and sustain community wikis all over the world. In such an arrangement, Davis Wiki might be represented by two folks on the parent organization's board, while Rochester Wiki would be represented by two folks, and the remaining 5 board members would have no particular wiki affiliation. (Just a 3AM-tired-Graham example, but it gets my idea across.) A group of us (prompted and led by Philip) have discussed this issue in another forum, but I thought it deserved mention here.


Comments extracted from Bylaws

Membership Eligibility

I agree that in general people should only keep (one?) account on Davis Wiki, but perhaps we ought to instead say that a person may only be a member once, or something to that effect. The primary administrative role of being a member seems to be that you decide the board of directors. Maybe "Membership of Davis Wiki shall be open to all persons who have established an account at [WWW] Accounts on Davis Wiki constitute a usage of Davis Wiki. Membership is granted to any single person who holds an account on Davis Wiki." Is that good enough to work?PhilipNeustrom



2006-07-21 19:21:24   Should we mention [WWW]Creative Commons in the purpose section? —JasonAller

2006-07-21 19:27:36   Perhaps a distinction should be made between the content side of things and the administration side of things. Perhaps just a sentence in the purpose part of things. I know Philip gets plenty of annoying emails from people who don't understand how the wiki works and want him to delete or change things. I wouldn't want the board to bear the brunt of controversial content and irate townspeople. In most other orgs. if you have a problem, you take it to the board, here, most peoples problems are with the content rather than the administrative side of things.

Also, speaking of board, i'm still not sure of the make up (the wording is a bit confusing). Here's my impression:

We the need to establish how voting works within the board, and of course, how the board is elected. I agree that having lay users vote online is a Bad Idea. Perhaps the first board can be elected in person and then the current board members can pick the new board. There should be some checks and balances in this system, where by the board members can oust a problematic director or board member. We also need to decide what explicit powers the director has.


2006-07-21 19:28:56   Do we need to establish age requirements for members or make an exception for younger people with their parent's permissions? —JasonAller

2006-07-21 19:38:43   I'm down for a constitutional convention —JamesSchwab

2006-07-21 19:42:39   I think you should also look at (assuming the board doesn't choose successors) eligibility for running for office. I personally think it would be benficial to have some offices elected (maybe some board seats or Treasurer) and some passed down and chosen by the current office (specifically the Director and maybe a few board seats). This might keep a good balance (i like parentheses). —AllisonEriksen

So how about this: members of the board must be at least eighteen years of age and have edited the wiki at least 500 times (non-vandalism). Voting members are anyone who has donated at least, say, $10? Elections by STV seems like overkill here, but I can't see Phil wanting to handle it some other way. In an organization of this size and type, the officers are just going to be the people who contribute the most and care enough to do it anyway. —BrentLaabs

2006-07-21 19:52:37   Why an age limit, though? —JosephBleckman

Isn't voting in a governmental election different than voting in an organization? Is the rationale that minors cannot enter contracts? Is that relevant? Anyone know specifics? —PhilipNeustrom

2006-07-21 22:37:20   We tend only to notice sockpuppets when they cause havoc, so voting in person is a really smart way to prevent anonymous hikinks. In person voting also tweaks with the anonymous nature of the wiki— lots of active users (e.g., AlphaDog & Jabberwokky) use aliases to protect their identity. In person voting requires that each user make their identities known, so would we have to keep a list of real identities somewhere, and if so, who would have access to it? —CraigBrozinsky

2006-07-22 00:09:57   Possibly do it in person with an option of sending absentee by snail mail to a PO box with a copy of a CA drivers license or other form of ID to ensure no duplicates? I really dont see the need to make voting very easy on people (such as voting online). In fact, I'd argue that you should make it as difficult as possible to ensure quality votes. —ThomasLloyd

To me, this should all be really simple.

Simple, simple, simple. If time goes by and Wiki users desire a more complicated system, fine, change it at that point. As far as voter eligibility, I have no problem giving a vote to whoever gives a minimum donation. If we're setting up this bureaucracy to get a bank account, we might as well bring in some extra cash. I'm talking about a nominal amount; Brent's suggestion of $10 sounds perfect (assuming he means $10/year, not $10 for some sort of lifetime membership). -Paul Harms

Also, two details have been overlooked: The Board of Directors needs a Secretary to take minutes and keep records (and, of course, post everything on the Wiki), and the Board of Directors needs a Chairperson. In the early stages, the General Director could serve as Chair of the Board and be responsible for finding a Secretary, who may or may not be a Board Member or another Officer. —Paul Harms

2006-07-22 16:53:01   Yeah. I was only against them holding office because of the crappy legal status afforded to minors in this country. Enfranchise the disenfranchised! Voting for all at Davis Wiki! —BrentLaabs

2006-07-22 18:07:39   Is the plan to incorporate as a nonprofit, tax exempt organization? I'm not sure exactly what we're trying to do with this bureaucracy. —PaulHarms

Ok, if we need Bylaws by Monday, here's what's left to clarify:


2006-07-30 13:33:27   Those interested in questions (Paul, James, etc) or just generally interested in being on the board and helping move us forward, please come to Mishka's Cafe at 8pm tonight. If you just want to discusss things I'll still be there and we can discuss these details together. —PhilipNeustrom

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