The executive director of The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation responsible for Wikipedia, has resigned.
Lila Tretikov will be officially leaving on March 21, 2016. The news of her resignation was reported earlier by Motherboard.
In recent months the Wikipedia community has been in meltdown over plans by the foundation to build a search engine.
The project was intended to help boost Wikipedia’s falling traffic — but a lack of transparency about it sparked fury.
Several staff members have resigned over the project, and others were openly expressing their dissatisfaction with Tretikov’s direction. A blog post at The Wikipedian describing the “open revolt” explained on February 19: “In recent weeks, WMF staff departures have accelerated. And within just the past 48 hours, employees have begun speaking openly on the web about their lack of confidence in the leadership of its executive director, Lila Tretikov.”
In a blog post published February 16, Tretikov denied the Foundation is trying to build an independent search engine. “We’re not building a global crawler search engine. We’re not building another, separate Wikimedia project,” she wrote. “We’re committed to our mission of helping the world access and interact with free knowledge.”
But at one stage in the project, the Foundation directly described it as a “search engine.” In a grant proposal to the Knight Foundation (which has since been leaked) last year, it described the “Knowledge Engine” as a “new site [that] will be the internet’s first transparent search engine, and the first one that carries the reputation of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation.”
Even if this is no longer the case, it has angered Wikipedians. The community is highly transparent, airing its debates in public, but the Knowledge Engine has been shrouded in secrecy.
People have been calling for Lila Tretikov’s head — and now they have it.
“This week, the Board of Trustees accepted Lila’s resignation. Her last day will be March 31, 2016,” Wikimedia Board of Trustees member Patricio Lorente wrote on Thursday, Motherboard reports. “The Board of Trustees is meeting regularly to determine next steps. Our top priority is to develop a clear transition plan that seeks to build confidence with community and staff, appoint interim leadership, and begin the search for a new Executive Director.”
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