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Mike Godwin leaves Wikimedia Foundation

Mike Godwin, photographer Lane Hartwell, CC-BY-3.0 Mike Godwin is known as the author of Godwin's Law and the General Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation since 2007. Today it became known that on October 22 he will leave this post. Below is a translation of the answers to questions that may arise in connection with this event.

Why does Mike leave Wikimedia Foundation?
Mike leaves the Wikimedia Foundation for personal reasons, and the Wikimedia Foundation does not discuss personal confidential matters with anyone other than the people directly involved in them. We want to address such issues with respect for people, their privacy and dignity, and we hope that we can do that in this case. This means that we are not going to answer this question and we hope that you will understand why.

Does Mike leave Wikimedia Foundation due to a change of direction or rules related to our legal context?

Mike leaves Wikimedia Foundation because of fundamental differences?
For example, because the Wikimedia Foundation is going to do something with which he does not agree, or because the Foundation does not want to do something that, according to Mike, he should do?
Not. We do not know of any significant differences of opinion between Mike and the Wikimedia Foundation, in terms of values, principles, ethics, future plans or something like that.
Mike leaves Wikimedia Foundation because he did something wrong?
In no case. The Wikimedia Foundation believes that Mike has always acted in the best interests of the Wikimedia Foundation.

What will Mike do next?
We do not know what he will do next, but we wish him all the best and hope that he will continue to do what he has always done - to help promote the online freedoms of people. We think that he is really doing it well, and we hope that this is what he will continue to do.

I look like Mike and know about austerity. Can I ask if the Wikimedia Foundation is doing anything to secure Mike until he’s done with his next steps?
Yes. The Wikimedia Foundation and Mike made a decision on dismissal allowance, and we hope that this will protect Mike and give him time to think about what he wants to do next. The terms of the discharge are confidential: we will not talk about them now or in the future. But you can be sure that the Wikimedia Foundation wants Mike to continue working to promote people’s online freedoms: everyone would like to see him continue to make this important contribution.

How will the new General Counsel be hired?
The Wikimedia Foundation hired m | Oppenheim to help us hire a new general counsel. m | Oppenheim did a great job for us in the past: they helped us recruit Zack Exley, Barry Newsted and Sin Skyberg, and now they help us find the director of technical operations. We enjoy working with them, and we are confident that they are able to help us successfully hire a new General Counsel.

Who will be involved in the hiring process, and how will this be done?
Currently, m | Oppenheim is developing a job description for this job. In this regard, they spoke with some members of the board of attorneys, the executive director and some of the senior staff. At the same time, m | Oppenheim also makes a list of people with whom they want to contact, and who may be interested in this job, and those who may know such people (this list includes people from all organizations who are ideological like-minded people such as EFF, Berkman, our Advisory Board, etc., as well as people from large Internet companies such as Google, eBay, etc.). This list of “connections” is currently being developed in consultation with several board members, the executive director and senior staff. By October 22, m | Oppenheim hopes to publicly publish a job description and begin to create a list of potential candidates.

As soon as a pool of candidates is developed, the interview will begin. Sue Gardner, Eric Moeller, Sin Skyberg, Kat Walsh, Arne Klempert and Barry Newsted will probably be included in the interview process at a minimum. Others are also likely to be involved (for example, perhaps additional members of the board of directors, and possibly additional members from senior staff), but now this is just a skeleton of the plan. We will also seek to obtain a sample of the legal needs of different stakeholders, such as local branches, probably asking m | Oppenheim to interview two or three chapters and representatives of other relevant stakeholders.

If I am interested in this job or know someone who may be interested, what should I do?
We welcome applications, and we also welcome ideas about where we can find good candidates. You can contact Lisa Grossman from m | Oppenheim at lisag <dog> moppenheim.com. She would love to hear from you.

Will the job description of a new general counsel differ significantly from that of Mike?
Not. m | Oppenheim is negotiating with interested parties about the role of the General Counsel and will update the job description in the course of these negotiations. But we do not expect the final job description to be significantly different from the existing one.

What is the essence of the work of the general counsel?
The role of our General Counsel is a bit unusual in that it has a bit of double focus. First, the Wikimedia Foundation (and the Wikimedia movement) is ideologically motivated. This means that we need a lawyer who shares the ideological program of the Wikimedia Foundation: someone who, for example, supports the right of people to access information on the Internet without hindrance from censorship, and who maintains a legal context that allows people to work together online for working out educational and informational materials, and other people to read it. And secondly, the Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organization based in the United States that uses the opportunity of international communication on the Web and interacts with non-US organizations. To do this, we need a lawyer who can be responsible for all local legal issues. It is understood that this is someone who understands the legal issues related to the operation of a large website, the work of an American non-profit organization, legal transfer of funds between various international organizations, and so on. Obviously, no one person can be an expert in all this. What it tells us is that we need a general legal adviser who 1) ideologically supports our work and 2) is able to effectively transfer specialized legal work to other people, ensuring that it is done well in accordance with our vision, values ​​and goals.

How soon will the new take its place?
We expect the new one to start work sometime in January. Perhaps the search will take more time, but we will not hire anyone until we are satisfied with the candidacy. But the experience of past searches tells us that we can expect search results in January or shortly thereafter.

Who will take care of the legitimate interests of the Wikimedia Foundation in the interim?
We are currently discussing with external consultants with whom we have worked in the past about the temporary presence during the search for the General Counsel. We have to solve this by the end of this week.

If I had previously sent a legal complaint or question that was sent to Mike, where should I send them now?
All legal information should be provided in the same way you are doing it now: any changes in the process will be processed later.

Is there a danger of legal threats to the Wikimedia Foundation during this period?
Obviously, it would be ideal for us to have a general counsel on the spot constantly, without interruptions. And we would like Mike to agree to stay with us during the hiring process. We took measures to protect Wikimedia and believe that we will be well protected during the transition period. We believe that since 1) the Wikimedia movement as a whole has developed some fairly solid legal understanding over the years, which includes robust processes for handling legal threats and problems of various kinds. There is a good infrastructure for handling certain types of legal risks, not all daily operations are completely dependent on the general counsel. 2) Over the past few years, we have established good relationships with a number of lawyers with specific experience in the subjects we need. This relationship will be useful to us in the interim, while we are looking for a new legal adviser. 3) During the transition period, we contacted good general lawyers with whom we worked in the past and who agreed to be one of the contact points to support the Wikimedia Foundation, while the new General Counsel is not in place. And 4) Mike agreed to be available to the Wikimedia Foundation for advice and support for months. So we believe that, overall, the risks are acceptably mitigated.

How were these questions and answers written?
This document was written primarily by Sue Gardner with some help from Sin Skyberg. He was reviewed in detail by Mike, who agreed to his publication.

Why were these questions and answers written?
We know that whenever someone leaves the Wikimedia Foundation, many questions arise. And we know that people are sometimes unhappy that our answers are short and uninformative. We sympathize with those people who want to know what is happening. These questions and answers are an attempt to balance Mike's privacy rights and the people's desire to understand what is happening. Especially because the important role of Mike is well known in the Wikimedia community. We would not publish them without the permission of Mike.

In general, when people leave the Wikimedia Foundation, they decide for themselves when and how much to say. Thus, you should understand that when someone leaves, only the information that does not cause discomfort is said: no more, no less.

If I have additional questions that are not answered here, where can I ask them?
If you have questions about the role of general counsel, please feel free to ask them on any regular mailing list (for example, foundation-l, internal-l), Sue, or anyone else who can answer them.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/106544/

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