RationalWiki:Guide for board of trustees election

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RationalMedia Foundation (RMF)

This is a general guide for the first open election of members to the Board of Trustees of the RationalWiki Foundation, Inc.

Election guide

What is the current protocol for voting and nominations?

Requirements to be on the Board:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Registered user for 1 year or longer on RationalWiki by the end of nominations
  • 250 edits or more
  • At least 1 edit in the last 3 months
  • Willing to turn over real name and contact information to the Foundation as this may need to be used on official documents. Pseudo-anonymity can be afforded for on-wiki publications (i.e., using your username on Board minutes) but that is the only guarantee

Nomination procedure:

  • Anyone can nominate anyone qualified by placing their name on a nomination page
  • No second required
  • People can nominate themselves
  • Each nominee must indicate acceptance or it will be assumed they have not accepted
  • Nominations will run minimally for two weeks and maximally for a month

Voting requirements:
By the date of the vote, eligible voters must:

  • Have been registered for 90 or more days
  • Have 75 or more edits
  • Have a valid, confirmed e-mail
  • Have added their name to the voter registration page


  • Voting to begin after nominations, and will be open for one week
  • Using a single transferable voteWikipedia system
  • Votes will be cast on-wiki using a custom extension
  • Votes will be collected as a secret ballot
  • Votes are sent to a data file that can be counted using OpenSTV

When will the election occur?

The specific dates are up to the existing board, but generally nominations begin in December and the election begins mid January.

What is single transferable voting, and why was it chosen?

STV voting may be new to people used to the US voting system, though various adaptations of it are used widely around the world. Essentially instead of voting for one candidate, you vote for as many as you like and put them in order of preference. When counting the votes the program looks at the first preference until someone gets enough votes to be elected and then it can move down the list. The details are widely available online and as always at WikipediaWikipedia.

STV voting is a superior method to "first past the post" style voting, particularly for legislative bodies where multiple members are being selected. It gets a better feel for the opinion of the electorate, and open source software exists that make generating accurate results simple.

How will votes be collected, counted, and results made known, and who will do it?

The votes are collected using a custom extension. This allows us to use the user authentication of the MediaWiki software. The results will be collected as a secret ballot, though the user ids of who voted will be stored but not in a way that allows them to be connected with who they voted for.

The data will be stored on the RationalWiki servers and then fed in the OpenSTV software to count the votes. Results will be posted on RationalWiki after they are determined.

An election officer will be appointed by the (current) Board to run the election, the election officer cannot be on the ballot.

Why the requirements for voting when RationalWiki is open for all?

While we understand that we can't deter an especially dedicated individual or group from casting multiple votes (short of requiring social security numbers, passport details or genetic fingerprinting) these requirements are a minimal barrier to deter voting fraud while still allowing for an inclusive ballot. Switching IPs and creating new identities to cast additional votes is all fun and games for votebotting YouTube videos and bumping up WIGO entries but running as an elected official on the Board is considerably more important. Real money and real worth is on the line and we are doing the minimum to ensure those that voters have an interest in RationalWiki and the Foundation.

Why should I care about this at all?

A lot of our users only care about being able to use the site, read a few WIGOs, rant drunkenly at the Saloon Bar and then head off to bed. So why should they care about this board and election anyway?

The RationalWiki Foundation owns RationalWiki and everything associated with it. The Foundation is in charge of raising money, spending it, managing the site, and ensuring that it continues to exist and thrive. The Foundation could also decide to liquidate everything and start publishing a bi-monthly recipe magazine. The board is in charge of the Foundation, which means that the people you elect have the power to directly affect your experience on the site.

If you are not interested in the back door dealings and all the little things that it takes to keep this site going, you don't have to be. But everyone that cares at all about the site, even if it's just WIGO CP, should take the time to vote for the people they think can do the job well.

Guide for potential board nominees

How many board members are there, how many are elected?

There is a potential total of 6 board members in the full board. Five positions are elected and the last position is the "founder position" which is an optional spot to be filled by Trent Toulouse at the agreement of himself and the other 5 members. Only Trent Toulouse may fill the founder position, and if he declines or the board chooses not to extend the invitation the position will no longer exist.

The "founder position" has been created to ensure that Trent, our current appointed Operations Manager, has a direct connection with the board until the RWF is capable of operating financially and technically independent of him. When the board is satisfied that it can operate independently, the "founder position" will no longer be required and the board will consist of 5 people.

How long is a term?

Each elected member will serve for two years, though there are no term limits so individuals can continue to run as many times as they like.

Please note, this is not like the Moderators, where people can abdicate at will. This is a "job" the nominee is intending to fulfill for the entire one year term.

What does the job consist of, how much work is involved?

The primary job of the board of trustees is making sure the Foundation and its projects are solvent, and heading in the right direction. The board will appoint several key roles that will manage the day-to-day activities of the wiki, and hear several reports over the year about how things are going and offer suggestions or guidance.

The bylaws state that there will be at least one full board meeting every quarter where the operations manager will present the current state of the Foundation and its projects, as well as the fiscal status of the corporation as a whole. Some decisions of the board may be required at these meetings on how to procede, additional projects, issues with finances or personnel appointments. Additional meetings can be called by any board member or corporate officer to address specific or emergency issues. Meetings will be held online, using either chat or VOIP services such as Skype.

The board is ultimately charged with ensuring the fiscal solvency of the Foundation so may be called upon to aid in fund raising efforts, such as planning donation drives or seeking external sources of funding or grants.

And finally, the board is in charge of setting up the election protocols and ensuring smooth operations for the election of the next year's board members.

What qualifications or skills should I have if I want to be on the Board?

The only set qualifications are listed in the protocol, basically being 18 years of age, and a minimum number of edits and time on the site. In a more general way though you should care about RationalWiki and care about the internal operations of the site, and be willing and motivated to slog through grizzly details of financial records, and technical issues to find solutions to future problems that might threaten or enhance the survival of the project.

You should also have the free time to devote to the minimum of 4 quarterly meetings a year, though there may be additional time sinks needed depending on what the board decides to do and get involved in.

Familiarity with parliamentary procedure, accounting, or any other such issues, while likely helpful, should not be seen as a prerequisite for serving on the board. If you want to do it, want to be involved, care about RationalWiki and the direction it should take in the future than that is exactly what we need.

How is privacy going to be handled?

Anyone who is elected and agrees to serve on the board of trustees for the Foundation must turn over their full name and contact information to the Foundation. That information will be shared with other board members, and corporate officers, and used for internal documentation. Some legal papers that are filed with the US federal and various state governments also require using real names of the board members. Therefore, individuals with a strong desire for anonymity should not offer to serve.

That said, on-wiki references to board activities will use the user ID of the board member so some level of pseudo-anonymity may be maintained.