Wikiversity:Archive/Organizing Self-Management

Please see Wikiversity:Organizing Wikiversity for a more recent attempt to discuss the matters of this page.

Organizing Self Management for Wikiversity edit

You can express your current position by concise bullet voting {{pro}}, {{contra}} or {{neutral}} and signing.
Please use the discussion section to illuminate others regarding your thoughts on the subject. Please "vote" early and often, or at least periodically. We will be in flux for a while. Any binding votes will be announced in appropriate areas adjacent to the main page at four weeks before being finalized.

Provisions of the initial approved Wikiversity Proposal are Binding for Six Months. edit

We are dependent upon the Wikimedia Foundation for initial servers, bandwidth, and technical expertise. Our project has been approvedWikiversity:Approved_Wikiversity_project_proposal by their Board of Directors for this philanthropic support for six months as a "beta" prototype. It is a reasonable expectation on the part of the Board and the initial project organizers that this agreement between the Board and Wikiversity will be honored by all parties to the extent possible. In other policy discussions the community at large is indicating its agreement/opposition to specific provisions of this agreement and this will be useful in future negotiations and for project planning of the community managed by the community's formally selected leadership. So even though some specific provisions may be disapproved by our rapidly forming community, they are binding upon us until we make other arrangements with the Board or Independently.

Position Tally edit

Discussion edit

  • While I agree with the board's position on accreditation (for the time being), I also think that we need to be bold in how we fill the proposal with life. I'd rather see us try a dozen different things where maybe 3/4 don't work out at the end rather than not try at all out of fear of the unknown. -- sebmol ? 09:51, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  • Honoring the scope of the Wikimedia's Foundations beta project regarding initiating projects and structures is important. At the same time (and I think this is understood), I believe that the Wikiversity would be very well served by considering and discussing implications of a wide array of long term planning options for development of education and research services, projects and organizational structures. From among such options, directions and aspects of development may emerge that become vital to the Wikiversity's mission and are harmonious with the board and larger wikimedia community's concerns but are not anticipated at this time. Reswik 14:23, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Initial Operating Assumptions edit

We are currently operating under a Project Proposal presented to the Wikimedia Foundation Board and approved by them. The Foundation is a separate entity from Wikiversity. Any wiklars who choose to participate at the Foundation are welcome by their current charter and informal procedures to join the Foundation-L mailing list. There is a Wikiversity-L mailing list for Wikiversity matters. The Foundation provides no administrative or project oversight to Wikiversity beyond its philanthropic contribution of server space. Since Wikiversity is currently composed of volunteers with no expenses beyond the need for stable and adequate bandwidth and servers our donation page directs all potential cash contribtions to the Foundation as our benefactor.

Position tallying. edit

Comments edit

Wikiversity_is_and_always_will_be_a_part_of_the_Wikimedia_Foundation. If you want to set up something separate - go ahead and do so elesewhere. We've fought long and hard for this to be a part of Wikimedia. I can't believe that you're proposing something so divisive at this point in time. Cormaggio 10:26, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Full ack. This isn't helping us. -- sebmol ? 10:32, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Ok, but I think you're overstressing the fact that we're in Beta. Surely, the important part is that we exist - and that we have carved out that existence within the workings of the Wikimedia Foundation - however frustrating you found that to be. Existing is a show of support - we will surely not have the plug pulled in six months - but simply we will be reviewed in terms of our scope for learning (and particularly research). Please, can we get back to the real work of Wikiversity - the content, policies and guidelines? Cormaggio 14:30, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Just to point out that the Wikimedia Foundation is not short of the funds required to host Wikiversity (according to the WMF's treasurer, Michael Davis, during the board panel at Wikimania). The WMF is a non-profit organisation, which hosts informational/educational projects, among them Wikiversity - there is no "owner" of Wikimedia. I'm trying to bring the focus of our community towards creating educational resources, and fostering the community around those resources - exactly what we said we would do in the proposal. I am not against project management - I'm asking you to please apply your skills to developing what we have always said we would do - not to drive us in a whole new direction. It would only be in doing something like what you suggest that the Wikimedia Foundation would consider pulling the plug. Cormaggio 16:34, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  • Most small nonprofit organizations, even with volunteers, need a treasury and treasurer for various expenses. This will be a large project and will have expenses beyond bandwidth and memory. Wikiversity needs a way to manage funds and person(s) to do manage funds. This is not either or in relation to the Wikimedia Foundation. A portion of donations to Wikiversity can be retained and a portion forwarded to the foundation, in whatever portions seem reasonable to all involved. If this is not implemented now, the plan should be in place to implement funds management when the beta phase is over. This is vital and should not be neglected. Reswik 14:34, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I'd actually rather that people create their own independent corporations to work on Wikiversity rather than having one central one. (The GFDL limits what wikimedia can do with Wikiversity.) If anyone wants to create their own non-profit to work on wikiversity projects, I have some practical experience on setting one up ( The nice thing about have multiple corporations with separate bank accounts working on Wikiversity is that it avoids a lot of the political fights. Also, I do think that in about a decade or so, that Wikiversity is going to be a huge institution with billions of dollars flowing around related projects, and it seems to be that it would be much healthier to have that money and power distributed among several hundred different non-profits (or for-profits) than to have one monolith.
Having multiple non-profits actually removes the purpose of this discussion. If someone wants to set up a non-profit to get grant money for Wikiversity, they can go ahead to do that without anyone's permission. I'll help since I've already set up one non-profit and also a for-profit. Roadrunner 15:13, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Why not both? Both small group and large group processes enable participation in different ways. It is a great idea to have a multitude of nonprofits working through Wikiversity. It seems it could also be very helpful for Wikiversity to undertake some projects, with widespread participatory planning processes, in some key educational development, service, and research areas. Reswik 03:31, 20 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Initial Administrators edit

As of this time the volunteers on the appointed subcommittee of the appointed Special Projects Committee of the Wikimedia Foundation chartered to help initiate Wikiversity as a viable project recieving support from the Foundation in pursuit of its charter goals and informal goals of its founder Jimmy Wales to help make all free human knowledge available to all humanity have all been given status as Wikiversity administrators. There are a couple of other people acting as administrators by transwiking Wikiversity materials from Wikibooks and the metawiki. It is proposed that any of the five subcommitte members who choose to volunteer for the responsibility of Administership at be automatically confirmed in that position until a formal selection process to become an administrator is implemented. Further any of the adminstrators currently assisting Wikiversity by moving our materials to our web site from Wikibooks or the metawiki also be temporarily confirmed with our thanks for their efforts on our behalf during this transition period until a formal guideline for selecting administrators or the equivalent is established at by the emerging/arriving community.

Position Tally edit

Discussion edit

I'm not a fan of admin elections. Besides the fact that voting is evil, it also fosters the wrong type of people in admin roles. Especially in a project such as this - were constructive discourse and civil disagreement is crucial - I would find it very difficult to support an RfA process that involved voting. -- sebmol ? 09:47, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Is Wikiversity a Single Massive Project or a Multitude Defined by Language? edit

As an English only speaker it has been my experience that wiki projects tend to develop along lines of language with their own internal detailed policy and guidelines. Obviously there are multilingual participants crossing over but they fair best when they pick up and apply the local culture and guidelines. Most people are tolerant of mistakes due to language difficulties but expect the mistakes to be reduced over time by learning the local requirements for participation.

Position Tally edit

Wikiversity is or is not a single project/program.

Discussion edit

Is the position above for having multiple separate language projects, or a single multi-lingual project? The Jade Knight 00:36, 9 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I belive that a pro is generally for a "multitude defined by language". Talonhawk 02:44, 9 October 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Selection Criteria and Procedures for Administrators edit

Do we need specific documented selection criteria and procedures for new and existing administrators and project leadership positions?

Position Tallies edit

Discussion edit

I think criteria need to be fairly liberal in the beginning just to cope with the fact that contributors will be rare. A show of trust in another Wikimedia project either through a successful admin vote or comparable involved engagement combined with a passion for what Wikiversity stands for should be all that's necessary. -- sebmol ? 09:40, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Indeed. We don't need a complicated, restrictive policy. Let's focus on content. Guillom 10:52, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with the points above. Reswik 17:06, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I certainly agree with the above and this sems to be a point where there is a clear consensus, and that gives me hope. Talonhawk 00:55, 13 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Initial Appointment of Custodians Should be Liberal and Easily Reversible edit

Position Tallies


It is proposed that specific criteria and guidelines be drafted for presentation and approval by the community for At the moment it shall be beyond the scope of this activity to coordinate specifics, commonalities, and exceptions with other language projects except on an informal ad hoc basis.

Position Tallies edit

Discussion edit

A Board of Regents should be Established edit

Such a board would provide a place for all the to coordinate their top level policies and mandates with philanthropic organizations such as the Wikimedia Foundation who wish to provide conditional assistance and help transfer good policy and information on bad policy experiment accross the language barriers. The Wikimedia Foundation might wish to recognize them as an advisory board or simply be responsive to them as a large customer organization who generates a significant percentage of the Wikimedia Foundation's budget. For this to be the case we would need to request of the Wikimedia Foundation that the paypal and internal accounts be setup such that donations originating from Wikiversity may be tracked in their internal budgets.

To keep it small enough to be manageable we might use a formula such as the following:

A member of the Wikiversity Regent would be provided by popular or administrator vote each year from the three largest (by some comparison formula of total bytes in the database, total internet hits, total registered accounts) with one by popular vote on a rotating basis between the remaining active language wikiversities and one or two additional members on a rotating basis from the remaining active language wikiversities as sufficient to create an odd number of regents to avoid deadlocks in voting on measures. The Chair to be elected at any time by simple majority vote of the sitting Regents. The Chair to cast the deciding vote in the event that abscence, abstention or neutrality vote by any other Regent results in a tie on a given measure.

Should such a concept of a unifying overall Board of Regents for all Wikiversities be developed and pursued with the other language Wikiversities?

Position Tally edit

Discussion edit

If such a thing would ever be created, it would be much much later than today. -- sebmol ? 09:52, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The only time such a thing is likely to be created with some legitimacy from the community is at the start before power vacuums and gaps are filled in by practical necessities. Mirwin 10:09, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Why do we even have to talk about that now ? Guillom 10:49, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
If not now when? Once a power structure evolves it rarely wishes to give up its priveleges. I prefer a wide community based process. If you do not you are welcome to wait and see what develops in the vacuum of inattention. Mirwin 14:27, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Evolved systems tend to work better than designed ones. I don't really see any problem with power vacuums and gaps being filled in ad hoc, as it is likely that those vacuums and gaps will be filled in a disorganized and decentralized way. Roadrunner 14:58, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Designed systems tend to evolve faster than natural systems left unpeturbed. Fortunately we have plenty of chaos coming. Over 150 people had registered as of this morning and they all know other people. Mirwin 00:05, 19 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Wikiversity Foundation edit

A non-profit foundation dedicated to the development and support of Wikiversity as a group of cooperating different language based online free learning and learning materials providers should be established sooner rather than later?

Position Tally edit

Discussion edit

The Wikiversity is currently on another probation period from the Wikimedia Foundation of 6 months. At that time appparently it will be re-evaluated and the plug possible pulled on the project. This is essentially the third prototype conducted within a irregular flux of changing conditions, procedures and non-responsiveness from the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation. Six months is plenty of time to setup a 501(c) Non-profit in the State of Oregon if we start soon ...say within sixty days ... get an initial satisfactory charter setup .... then start looking for donated servers, bandwidth, expertise or cash to buy such items critical to maintaining Wikiversity's present online with no interuption should the Wikimedia Foundation determine we are failing to meet their unspecific and vague evaluation criteria in six months. Mirwin 08:55, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I don't share the mistrust for Wikimedia at all. There are very intelligent, highly engaged people involved that have offered their support and willingness for new ideas. If there are differences in opinion, they can be solved in constructive discourse. A fork is in my opinion out of the question. -- sebmol ? 09:54, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
An extra Foundation providing infrastructure is not necessarily a fork. Particularly if after the specified beta prototype period Wikiversity databases are removed from existing Wikimedia Foundation servers. The success of Wikipedia was still highly questionable in many peoples minds even including some of the initial contributors as late as about eighteen months into the project. Mirwin 10:06, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Can we please focus on actually developing Wikiversity, rather than playing personal power games with the Foundation? Cormaggio 10:37, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Exactly. Guillom 10:46, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Easy to say/request from the top Cormaggio. I notice two or three adminships have been created outside your appointed committee while there has been no action on my application. Have you ever heard of a large project involving hundreds of thousands of people without a clear organizational structure?
Yes. Linux. Any large national economy. Academia in general. Also the organizational structure of any major corporation or university is actually usually a lot less clear than it appears on paper. Roadrunner 15:04, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Linux had Linus, a mailing list of aproximately 50? core developers, various support lists and clubs, and now Red Hat as well as other major distribtions. If you check with the various large distributions you will find organizatinoal structure. In fact as I recall Linus recently went to work in Portland, Oregon for an organization funded by a coalition of corporations. Large national economy .... this hardly merits a response. Perhaps we need to agree on a definition of "organizational structure". Academia ... Board of Regents, employee contracts, State Governments and taxation support many, private corporations others. Organizational structure exists even if it is unwritten, if people know who they work for and how information flows and how committments are exchanged. Your statements above are roughly equivalent to stating the Milky Way has no structure because various stars have different vector velocities. Mirwin 16:35, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I prefer that organizational structure to be designed and supported by the community of participants. As our only appointed bureaucrat perhaps you prefer to put it off. When shall we start to design a process to confer wide support for your successor in your position? It might interest you to know that one of your appointed committee members requested that I start the process of defining and legitimizing leadership positions with the involvement and support of the community. The only way I see to do that is to define the organization and some due process from top to bottom. If you know a better way by all means write it down and either mandate it or put it up for some straw polls. Incidentally, developing the engineering school would be much more efficient if I could move my and others files from Wikibooks without making a specific request for an administrator to transwiki each file. Perhaps some useful work "actually developing Wikiversity" would distract me from "power games" with the Foundation. You could always ask a steward to strip the adminship after I get the engineering files over to Wikiversity for a useful continuing point. Mirwin 14:44, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I'd actually prefer to use Wikiversity to teach people to start their own non-profits and get their own grant money for Wikiversity projects through their own foundations. Roadrunner 15:04, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Not a bad thought! Perhaps in the project management classes we can develop a couple of different charter templates/generics suitable for large free wikis. Wiki software and sites are proliferating wildly. Someone is sure to be able to use an effective community based charter rather than a God-King charter eventually. We can also establish a grant/proposal writing class and pool some expertise helping free wikis figure out how to serve target markets in exchange for targeted grant monies. A lot of this has large commonalities with business proposals so until the crowds grow more numerous and thicker around here we could also invite business management students to participate. The situation is simply fraught with potential! Mirwin 00:01, 19 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Ok, well, I was made bureaucrat pretty randomly - and it is not something that I am entirely happy with. This is not "from the top". I am absolutely for helping us organise our community processes - that is what I am advocating we do - instead of concerning ourselves with 'uber-organisational' structures like a "Wikiversity foundation". This is just not an immediate priority (if on the agenda at all). On making admins, the beginning has been also quite random, and I simply made people admins who were here on the first day and who volunteered to help out. But we still need to get a proper, workable system in place - and that's what we're doing at the moment. Cormaggio 15:21, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Interesting. I think I was here six months ago. I volunteered on the administrator request page and provided references to my previous status as a Wikipedia Administrator. I think my app was about third on the first page where nominations were piling up and first on a subsequent page that was established. Well no sweat. If I cannot help transfer my engineering files I can simply help out at random as quantum uncertainties or personal whimsy shift me around the interesting portions of the site. Regarding the agenda. It is certainly going to remain on mine until I see some meaningful data and audits applicable and useful for project planning published to the entire community by the Wikimedia Foundation. Mirwin 00:01, 19 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I probably should put this under Educational Administration
Just a note. The idea of having multiple interacting corporations is something that worked well in the "first era of online internet universities." What happened was that you just had too many personality conflicts if you tried to fit everyone under one roof, so it worked much better to have several interacting non-profits (Globewide Network Academy, Diversity University, BioMOO, and Virtual Online University). The interesting thing was that each non-profit was basically organized around a single "queen bee" (me, Jeanne McWhorter, Gustavo Glusman, and William Painter).
What killed the era of the MOO universities was that we didn't have the funds to match people like Yahoo and MSN who eventually developed chat and discussion facilities which attracted ordinary people and eventually killed the communities.
Roadrunner 15:26, 18 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

I would like to know if the other projects such as Wikipedia have their own non-profits or if they are fully funded by the Wikimedia Foundation. Talonhawk 01:09, 13 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

No, each project is fully funded by the Foundation. What we do have, though, as an adjunct to the Foundation, are national non-profits ("chapters"), which support the development of Wikimedia projects in the context of their country. Cormaggio 07:43, 13 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]
It seems that no US chapter exists, and I would be far more in favor of utilizing that, than creating a project specific non-profit. Talonhawk 03:50, 26 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

If there are ever new NPCs that supports Wikiversity they should also support and cooperate with the Wikimedia Foundation. --JWSchmidt 04:59, 26 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]