Monday, July 02, 2007


Sharing my email

I just recieved the following entreaty from Gmaxwell to vote in the current Wikimedia board election. He makes a persuasive argument, and with his permission I am reprinting it below.


(P.S. -- As I told him, the only reason I haven't voted yet is that I'm still trying to decide whom to vote for. I'm way behind people like Berto ed Sera, who has written much about it -- for example this essay.)

Hi Llywrch, it appears that you have not yet voted in the current Wikimedia board election, although you appear to be eligible to vote.

There are many reasons why it is very important that YOU vote in this election. The board is responsible for oversight and direction of the Wikimedia projects, including fundraising, defining the mission, and determining foundation-wide policies, so though it does not have direct input into English Wikipedia day-to-day policy, you still are affected by what they choose to do.

The election process is simple, and because it uses approval voting, you don't have to figure out
who is best; you simply need to select all candidates who are acceptable.

You can find out more about the election at

The election closes at 23:59 on Saturday, July 7, 2007 (UTC, don't let the timezone catch you off guard!). That means you still have time to participate, although with thousands of words written in question and answer pages it will probably take you a little time to build a fair assessment of the candidates, so you should start looking now.

You can read the candidate statements at and each candidate has a Question/Answer page linked from their statements.

Llywrch, it is critically important that you participate in this process.

As it stands right now substantially less than 16% of all eligible and recently active voters on English Wikipedia have participated in the election process. This is a lower turnout than previous years although enwiki has always had poor voter turnout.

Low turnout makes the election process dramatically more vulnerable to several types of bias; for example, people with strong emotions and potentially unreasonable feelings about the candidates are more likely to participate without encouragement. The impact of sockpuppets, small-POV groups, and parties with any personal or financial interests in the outcome is greater when turnout is low, because these parties will tend to cast a fixed number of votes.

Regardless of the election outcome, low turnout from English Wikipedia also sends the wrong message to the board. English Wikipedia is by far the largest Wikimedia community, and English Wikipedia has, by far, the largest readership. While it is very important that other Wikimedia projects be well supported and understood by the board, the importance of English Wikipedia should not be understated.

There are organized campaigns to increase turnout from some of the other projects, and the result appears that English Wikipedia's influence and interest in Wikimedia is far less than it actually is.

Even if you do not have an opinion on the outcome of the election, even if you think that all candidates are acceptable or that all are unacceptable, you can and should still vote. We use approval voting, and you can cast a vote approving everyone or even a vote approving no one. Neither of these two options will influence the direct outcome of the election, but both will still add to the total count of English Wikipedia voters and both will send the message that our project is important and involved.

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