We Googled the ex-Google guy and Google said he was clean, says Wikimedia

Newest trustee steps down amid no confidence vote

Hours after receiving the dreaded football manager’s vote of confidence from his board, Wikimedia’s newest trustee has quit.

Tesla’s VP of Human Resources, Arnnon Geshuri, was appointed to the board of the Wikimedia Foundation over Christmas, but community members registered their disquiet with the decision.An open vote of no confidence stands at 292 for and just 22 against.

“He doesn't want to be a distraction for the important discussions that the community and the Foundation need to face in the times to come,” chair of the WMF board of trustees Patricio Lorente wrote.

While ordinary Wikipedia contributors are expected to work without cash compensation, that isn’t deemed sufficient for members of the ever-expanding Wiki nomenklatura. The $100m-cash-rich nonprofit now employs over 300 paid staff, with 19 people working in fundraising alone. The (unpaid) community is represented on the WMF board: of ten trustees, two are by elected representatives to represent “chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups”. However one was turfed out shortly before Geshuri was appointed, and the Tesla executive became a lightning rod for community dissatisfaction.

Maximum Leader Jimmy Wales says the board didn’t know the extent of Geshuri’s participation in the wage-fixing scandal while at Google, writing that “the process of selection did not flag the issue and so we did not deliberate about it. That's obviously a failure of the process.”

Why didn't they “flag the issue” up? Jimbo explained:

“I googled his name, I saw that he had been at Google and mentioned in connection to that story, and I didn't dig deeper.”

Meanwhile, when fellow trustee board member Dariusz Jemielniak was asked what background research he had done, he explained, "unfortunate and silly as it may sound, it was not in top ten on Google.pl or .de / .it"

Background research: a WMF trustee explains his methods

Ah.

In other news...

Wales was yesterday appointed to the board of the Guardian Media Group, as a paid non-executive director.

His fellow Guardian board members will surely be thrilled to learn how “due diligence” is done over at the Wikimedia Foundation. That's the Foundation that Jimbo founded.

Wikipedia’s excellent community newspaper notes, drily, that “discussion of the vetting and selection process is likely to continue following Geshuri's departure”. ®


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