WikiConference UK 2012/Elections/Questions/Steve Virgin
|Hi there! This is the page for you to answer questions posed to you by the members of Wikimedia UK. Press the
1. Most of my time in the last 2-3 years has been on either the promotion of free and open knowledge on behalf of Wikimedia UK or starting up my own business, which involves global media monitoring and analysis. So I have had little time to get involved beyond that.
2. In 2009 I was Chair of the 2nd Dow Jones Social media Conference in Stockholm. I met Lennart Guldbrandsson, who was then President of Wikimedia Sweden, who was presenting. We then went out for a beer after the first day and he told me more about the wikimedian community and suggested I get involved with the formation of a new chapter in the UK. I contacted Andrew Turvey on my return and have been a Wikipedian ever since.
3. I have a feeling that the forthcoming EduWiki Conference later this year, is going to act as a catalyst for all educational connections and aspirations that the community shares. if the Conference goes well it will kickstart contacts with universities, colleges and possibly schools, much in the same way that the GlamWiki 2010 Conference did for our links to the cultural heritage sector. So, getting this event right, promoting it widely, trying to get it covered by the sector press and maybe even the national press - would be something I'd commit heavily too.
4. I think 'projects' is the wrong way of expressing this - I think we need to consider where would we like to be, then work backwards, which is a better way. We should be seeking to prioritise ways in which to raise quality standsrds of our content, through allying or associating or partnering with institutions that have expertise in areas that could be improved on Wikipedia. We should then be seeking to 'train them' to get them to share their expertise. We should also be encouraging them to share, promote and adopt our values and belief in the excellence of free and open content wherever possible. This should include all areas of cultural heritage, education, and involve, where we can, public bodies and institutions that are tasked with public duty - national archives, local government archives etc. We should be promoting the value of models of learning that can be based around collaboration, using Wiki-models. We should be exploring engagement with minority groups that need to be engaged more, and perhaps suggest that working on their own non-English wikipedia area could be one route to do so? (e.g Somali diaspora works and adds content to the Somali wikipedia). On a national stage, I would hope we would erase the confusion that exists between 'Wikipedia' and 'Wikimedia' in the public's mind. And that our community becomes a normal part of national or local civic dialogue. On an international stage, I'd like to see us pioneering initiatives that other chapters follow: Monmouthpedia is one such example this year.
5. It is about answering a question in a way that is as open as possible, with as much supporting information as possible, that helps the questioner proceed with their enquiries in a fruitful fashion. Representing an organisation means expressing the views of the Board with clarity, consistency and accuracy.
6. If it is not 100% accurate - correct it. If something that should have been included was not due to some oversight, send it on. If others read things into the statements that simply are not there, and choose to kick up a fuss, be patient, listen to the concerns but after these worries have been answered and the reasoning explained, move on.
7.As the elected representatives will be charity trustees, have they read and understood the legal requirements and obligations of being a charity trustee and have the current trustees brought these obligations to your attention? -- (my answer YES)
8. Thanks to the establishment of full time staff dedicated to helping the community take volunteer-driven initiatives anywhere in the country we are in a better place than we were one year ago, when it would have been a Board member acting as the glue to ensure something like this happened in some instances. I also sense the fact that we are now a charity, feel stronger as a community and are more confident, and there are more members of WMUK - the positivity helps to create a virtuous circle. People step forwards with ideas, and our role as Trustees should be to encourage, support and help these ideas become a reality. It also helps having been a Trustee, as you know a lot of volunteers who have done something like that before and who are geographically spread all over the country. So you can have someone locally to assist another member in the process of getting an idea off the ground and into practice. However, staff at the centre whose duty is to respond to volunteer needs is the biggest plus here + the outgoing Board can take some pride in having set this up.
9.Our first thought as a Trustee ought to be 'could that be done on a volunteer basis' or 'what obstacles are there that we need to overcome to make it possible for that to be done on a volunteer basis.' So I completely share the sentiments of the questioner. Where this might be an issue is where there is a 'grand-large scale project' requiring not a day or two of time, but weeks if not months. Then, we have to see how we can enable volunteers to remain at the centre of this, while having a sufficiently solid support network around them of full time staff, Trustees and local volunteer support. So, we should look to find ways to overcome any postential obstacles so that volunteerism and passion and commitment stays core and at the heart of our movement.
10.There is a need for the highest level of professionalism in a paid role so getting the best person for the job is key. However, my reflex position will always be to look inwards at our movement first as I feel that the 'learning curve' to understand our culture is a sharp one and that people who are not editors or wikipedians will struggle for a few months to get up to speed. This is less of an issue the lower down the pecking order in the office the role is. So, yes is my answer to should we try a little harder to recruit from within the community - a wholehearted yes. But, with the caveat that we still need the best people for the job.
11.We should and would not be policing any articles as that is not and never should be the job of Wikimedia UK or any of its associated bodies. This is a community driven movement and should remain that way. There are policies in place to do what the questioner asks. Wikimedia UK can play a role in any discussions about improving the policies, perhaps as a facilitator of the discussion. But no direct involvement in the way implied please.
12. I have no strong views on this issue at all and am open to argument and persuasion. If confronted with it as an issue I would listen to colleagues arguing their respective positions and then decide
13. I don't believe it is our role to go around telling people how to interact with Wikipedia. Issuing guidelines on how to do things to groups is self-defeating in a movement driven by the idea of free and open knowledge made freely available to all. If a concern occurs, it should be raised by the individual institution on the relevant page or at our content contact sites. if it still not being dealt with in a satisfactory way, the complainant is free to contact the office.
14. I am not standing for election to the Wikimedia Foundation board but the Wikimedia UK board. I'd accept that everything everywhere can be improved. If a conversation began in this area I'd listen to the arguments and what the community said first.
15. It is always superb to have many people voting as possible in any election. I have been on the Board for three years now so I am aware of % of votes and of evolution of these elections in that time. I am happy with the current voting system as it has seemingly produced a good set of members each time. This time is even better as we have a large number of candidates for the Board and this is really marvellous.