All these projects are facilitated by the Wikimedia Foundation, where the Board of Trustees is in charge. This way the Wikimedia Foundation is like any other non-governmental organization (NGO). However, because it works on Internet (and because there are a so many clever people involved in it) it is rather different, too. If compared to many other NGO’s I think Wikimedia is extremely community driven, very democratic and very transparent. Everything is online: in a wiki or in the publicly archived mailing lists, from discussions, to votes to resolutions and policies.
I think the Wikimedia community has designed its own democratic system. In many ways it seems to work much better than many other democratic systems. In the Wikimedia community they emphasize discourse, argumentation and search of consensus. Voting is used only if the community do not find consensus in a discussion. Even when voting on something you may give reasons for your vote. For instance, in the case of approving the Wikiversity project in 2005 I voted “yes” with the following comment:
Teemul 20:44, 19 October 2005 (UTC). Uhh… I am very skeptical about this. Still in the description there are more good words – such as: “progressive educative community”, “collaborative learning” and “students will take charge of the activity”, than bad words – such as “electronic testing”. I hope this will give a new life for the old great idea of academia and does not become another “university”.
The votes on Wikiversity proposal were: 203 yes and 88 no. Based on this the Board of Trustees approved the proposal and the Wikiversity project was launched.
I assume that educators and researchers of education technology may consider the Wikiversity to be the project they should follow. On the other hand, the recently defined mission of the Wikimedia foundation is:
“To empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop neutral educational content under a free content license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. In collaboration with a network of chapters, the Foundation provides the essential infrastructure and an organizational framework for the support and development of multilingual wiki projects and other endeavors which serve this mission. The Foundation will make and keep the educational content from its projects available on the Internet free of charge, in perpetuity.” (http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mission&oldid=573270)
Think about it:
“To empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop neutral education content under free content license…”
“..will make and keep the educational content from its projects available on the Internet free of charge, in perpetuity”.
I think I love these people!
Wikimedia projects are driving probably the most constructive revolution in the history of humankind.
So, if your work is in one of the following fields: educational politics, educational research, educational technology, I propose that you’ll educate yourself about the Wikimedia community and their impact on your work.
If you are already an active member in the Wikimedia community, you should go and use your right to vote.
Here are some useful links:
Wikimedia Foundation website:
The page about the Board of Trustees:
Board of Trustees elections 2007: