Technology

Wikipedia editors sign vote of no confidence

Jimmy Wales Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some editors criticised Jimmy Wales over the appointment

More than 200 Wikipedia editors have backed a vote of no confidence in a trustee of the site's governing body.

Arnnon Geshuri, a former human resources manager at Google, was appointed to the board of the Wikimedia Foundation this month.

The online encyclopaedia's editors objected because of his links to an alleged no poaching scandal.

Last January, Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe agreed to settle a lawsuit over related claims for $415m (£289m).

One Wikipedia editor said they were "appalled" by Mr Geshuri's appointment to the Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees, while another criticised the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

About 20 editors, including two trustees, have publicly backed Mr Geshuri.

Hiring scandal

One editor unhappy about the appointment wrote: "I'm appalled: Why this kind of person, with this kind of background, at all?"

Another added: "I have no more confidence for the whole board, especially also to name Mr Wales himself. The board presents itself in a tragic condition, all faith lost that it could work for the best of the projects."

Image copyright Wikimedia Foundation
Image caption The Wikimedia Foundation administers Wikipedia and other projects

The no confidence call was accompanied by a statement, which indicated that an open letter had already been sent to the chairman of Wikimedia's board.

It noted Mr Geshuri had been "widely known for having played a significant role in the anticompetitive agreements scandal at Google".

"A vote of the community has no legal weight, but should be taken into consideration by the board of trustees to fulfil the Wikimedia Foundation statement of values," it added.

Annoyed bosses

Documents filed with a US court indicated that Mr Geshuri, who now works for Tesla Motors, had been involved in enforcing a deal struck between Apple and Google not to poach each other's staff.

In a 2007 email, while he was working at Google, he assured his boss Eric Schmidt that a company employee would be "terminated within the hour" for approaching an Apple staff member.

Mr Schmidt had contacted Mr Geshuri after Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs had complained to him, the documents indicated.

Image copyright Wikimedia Foundation
Image caption News of Arnnon Geshuri's appointment was announced in January

In 2015, those two firms, as well as Intel and Adobe, agreed to pay out damages before the case could be heard. They had been accused of conspiring to keep down salaries.

The firms did not disclose the details of the settlement.

The Wikimedia Foundation, a not-for profit organisation founded by Jimmy Wales, administers Wikipedia and other projects.

Its board has 10 trustees and Mr Geshuri is one of the two most recently appointed.

In a message to Wikipedia editors posted on Tuesday, Mr Geshuri wrote: "Although I would have preferred the tone surrounding my appointment to be more positive and supportive, I deeply understand and respect the criticality of free expression, rallying around convictions, and open disagreement."

In an apparent reference to the allegations he was linked to the "no poaching" scandal, he said there were "misconceptions" and "mitigating considerations".

Mr Geshuri wrote: "As a general matter, I will say that, throughout my career, I have been charged with enforcing company policies as part of my role as a people manager. I have tried to do so thoughtfully and consistently. I have done so realising company policies and practices evolve over time as circumstances change." He added that he wanted to win the editors' trust.

Mr Wales did not respond to a request for comment.

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