QUOTE(HRIP7 @ Thu 9th February 2012, 9:41pm)
Wikimedia now has an official “Legal and Community Advocacy” Department
This new alignment will carry forward the Foundation’s goals of advocating for the community in new ways, ranging from fighting for content online, to facilitating community discussions about critical WMF initiatives that affect the community, to better supporting Wikimedia administrators and functionaries, to providing information about legislative initiatives worldwide that impact online content and censorship.Announcement
It's carefully worded to stand firmly on the fence, but not quite over the fence. The problem with standing on the fence is that you can then easily fall over it, or the fence may not be exactly where you think it is. Full employment for lawyers. It would be cleaner if an advocacy organization is created, solicits direct funding, but is not officially supported by the WMF. Especially is not funded by the WMF. There can be more than one advocacy organization, and the proof of community support will be ... community support!
There is an assumption in the announcement that there is this entity called "the community," and that the "advocates" know what the community wants and needs. Now, if they set up a community advisory board, as they apparently intend, and if it truly represents the community (what community?), then they might actually, indirectly, accomplish the creation of a body that can speak, collectively, for the community. But if the selection process is warped, then they will merely be representing those who are enabled to participate, even if the election method is accurately representative, which, itself, is unlikely, given the history.
There is a way they could do it that would be *fully* representative of a very broadly defined community. Will they ask? I'm not holding my breath, but, sure, maybe they will.
Then, within the advisory board, if majoritarian processes are used to issue representations by majority vote (or even supermajority vote), which are then considered to be the voice of the community, they will fall into a similar trap. Rather, the advisory board can display the real position of the community, at least approximately, and need not -- and should not -- pretend consensus when consensus doesn't exist. A 90% vote might well be considered the "general position" of the community, but there is no need to suppress the 10%, and organizations which do rely on a general community advisory body frequently allow -- or encourage -- minority positions to issue minority reports, so that those advised can get a full picture. Occasionally, those minority reports result in a reconsideration and overturn of the previous apparent "consensus." This can actually be quite efficient.