Wikimedia Foundation ousts community-elected Trustee

Dr. James Heilman, former elected Trustee, Wikimedia Foundation. Photo licensed CC BY-SA, Victor Grigas.

Dr. James Heilman, former elected Trustee, Wikimedia Foundation. Photo licensed CC BY-SA, Victor Grigas.

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation’s ten member Board of Trustees voted to oust one of its members. (Updated links: see these two email list threads: one initiated by Dr. James Heilman, the other initiated by Board chair Patricio Lorente. The Wikipedia Signpost has also published a thorough breakdown: Wikimedia Foundation dismisses community-elected trustee)

Dr. James Heilman is a founder of the WikiProject Med Foundation, the first and only formal, topic-based organization to grow out of a Wikipedia WikiProject (corrected). In June 2015, he was elected to the Board of Trustees. The election had a substantially higher turnout than any prior Wikimedia election; he earned the second-most votes of any candidate in the organization’s history. That election was regarded by many (including myself, as well as Wikipedia historian Andrew Lih in a New York Times op-ed piece) as a referendum on recent actions of the Wikimedia Foundation, including releasing an unprecedented software feature in 2014 that undercuts elected volunteers’ ability to edit pages, and ignoring an open letter, authored by myself and signed by more than 1,000 people, requesting actions related to that software feature.

Wikipedia is arguably the most widely read publication in history; but its Board of Trustees has very little accountability. Only three of the ten Trustees are popularly elected; all three of the incumbents were voted out in the 2015 election.

About Pete Forsyth

Pete Forsyth is the principal of Wiki Strategies, and a Wikipedia expert. Full bio here: wikistrategies.net/pete-forsyth
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