Affiliations Committee/Resolutions/Budget request for 2013 annual meeting – April 2013
- The Affiliations Committee will submit a revised budget to the WMF budget process, including expenses for an annual meeting
- The Affiliations Committee considers it necessary for it to work effectively and efficiently to have an annual meeting
- Co-location of such meeting with Wikimania has benefits, including saving on travel- and meeting time, involving advisers in the meeting where possible and immediately implementing outcomes of the meeting during Wikimania
- An inventory inside the committee has shown that there is support in the committee for holding such meeting at Wikimania instead of not co-locating it
- A list of desired outcomes has been created
- The estimated costs for such a meeting accumulate to $40,000, considering a 15% overhead on current airfares for Aug 4 to Aug 12, 2013.
It is hereby resolved that:
- The Affiliations Committee will co-locate its 2013 annual meeting with Wikimania in Hong Kong
- USD 40,000 of its budget may be disbursed to organise and hold this meeting
- A report with the public outcomes of this meeting will be published within a month after the meeting
The 2013 annual meeting of the Affiliations Committee was held at the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong on 6 and 7 August. Affiliations Committee members went on to participate in the Wikimania conference itself.
The aims of the meeting were to move forward open cases by reaching Committee consensus on the next steps, improving the ways affiliate applications are handled both internally and the process for the applicants themselves, deciding on the way forward with the movement partners affiliate type, coming to a decision on monitoring or following up with chapters in violation of their chapter agreements, and having an initial conversation about the future of the Committee.
This report is a slightly modified version of the report produced for internal use, information that is regarded as personal, sensitive or relating to on-going applications have been removed.
- Committee members: Carlos, Salvador, Galio, Greg, Lodewijk, Bence, Tanvir, Maria (parts of the day), Josh (parts of the day)
- Guests (parts of the day): Asaf Bartov, Geoff Brigham, Stephen LaPorte, Bishakha Datta, Patricio Lorente
- Absent: Jerry
- The Committee discussed the application processes for chapters, thematic organisations and user groups. In case of all three affiliate types the updated guides will be created and discussed internally around the end of August before being published.
- In the case of user groups a number of simplifications and clarifications to the requirements were agreed upon (removing the need for contact people to identify themselves to the WMF, adding the possibility to have the group's overview page on a wiki other than Meta as long as a clear link exists from Meta). (Relatedly, in the interest of good governance the Committee was asked to present the process of approving user groups for approval to the Board and to work with the Legal team on figuring out at which point do the user groups sign the user group agreement.)
- In the case of thematic organisations the step by step guide will be better synchronised with the actual recognition process by emphasizing the need to contact the Committee early on, clarifying the section on bylaws review making explicit some of the criteria used, and separating the naming of thematic organisations as an independent step.
- The guide for chapters has been found quite well polished, however the consistency of the Committee's handling of applications could use improvements. As a step towards improving consistency it was agreed that stages of new applications would be handled in set, publicly communicated timeframes (for example, posting our standard questions should happen within 2 days, and reviewing the answers should not take more than 1-2 week, a bylaw review should not take more than 4 weeks, etc.). (The timeframes would also be applicable to all types of affiliates.) - AffCom members are expected to follow these timelines and adjust their work to them in order not to slow down the pre-affiliation process (unless it is something really outstanding and that requires immediate attention) and hence affect the quality of the service we are providing to those affiliates-to-be.
- A few clarifying amendments were discussed for the Committee's internal policies that will be adopted in formal resolutions after final drafting.
- In particular, the spending policy will be clarified to request that the Committee treasurer be informed by the WMF of the remaining funds in the Committee's allocation, allowing for better tracking and verification of expenses where they are covered directly by the WMF.
- The Committee standards of participation will be clarified in a way that committee members who voluntarily suspend their membership have a maximum of 15 days to make a decision on continuing their participation following the end of their suspension period. The current text of the standard was unclear in this regard, resulting in suspended members not making a decision to resume their membership being considered full members for an indefinite amount of time despite their inactivity or unresponsiveness.
- The Committee has decided to provide better support for recently approved affiliates in three ways:
- Each new affiliate will be assigned a designated AffCom advisor (ideally one of the liaisons working on their recognition) who will contact the affiliate at least every three months to inquire of their development, offer advice and make introductions between new and old entities. This program will be considered a pilot to be evaluated in a year's time.
- New and soon to be approved affiliates will be proactively informed of the Committee's grant facility that can cover the costs of incorporation and other costs associated with the recognition process (e.g. translation).
- New affiliates will be presented with a short introduction letter that provides a description and contact information of the key WMF departments a new affiliate will likely interact with. The Committee has received principal agreement from a number of departments already, follow up will include requesting the individual departments for their part and putting it together into a single letter.
- A small number of changes to the Committee's working methods were discussed in addition to setting deadlines to phases of the recognition process. A rotating secretary position and – on the suggestion of Asaf Bartov, a rotating system for assigning one of the two liaisons for each application were put in place.
- Finally, the fourth, as of yet undefined affiliate type, movement partners were discussed with the participation of the invited guests and the Committee. A mixed working group was set up to discuss the principal questions and come back with a draft proposal. The group aims to start its work in mid-September and come up with a draft by around mid-November, it is expected that the group will use Meta wiki as their open working and discussion space.
- Members: Bence, Salvador, Carlos, Galio, Lodewijk, Greg, Josh, Tanvir
- Absent: Jerry
- The Committee spent a significant part of the second day going through all pending cases (around 20), decided on follow-up steps and where necessary assigned or re-assigned liaisons to them. The application of the Wiki Ed Foundation, Wikimedia Brasil and Wiki Project Med were discussed in more thorough detail.
- Following this the Committee has agreed to remind chapters of their obligations under the chapters agreement to provide activity and financial reports at least once a year (ideally published on Meta) and notify the WMF (practically, through the Affiliations Committee) of changes in their bylaws.
- Committee members then participated in the WCA seminar session on affiliates.
- The meeting was concluded with a discussion and decision on action points for Wikimania and the decisions taken during the meeting.
The Affiliations Committee has participated with a table in the Chapters Village, initially in the open "Logo Square" area, later taking over parts of one lounge room as the latter had air conditioning.
Among others, we have had encounters with the following groups at or near our table:
- Wikimedia Slovakia
- Wiki Project Med
- Wikimedia Bolivia
- Volunteers from the Middle East
- Wikimedia Nepal
- Wikimedia Armenia
- Wikimedia Uruguay
Other meetings and encounters
Committee members had a number of dedicated meetings on certain affiliate-related topics, including:
- Multiple meetings related to Brasil (the state of the chapter-to-be, the community, the catalyst programme)
- Mainland China
- Wikimedia Finland
- Wikimedia Macau
- Wikimedia South Africa
- Wikimedia Ukraine
- Wikisource User Group
- Ladsgroup Amir Sarabadani
Recommendations for the future
Based on the experience of this meeting, we have distilled some lessons to improve the efficiency of future meetings, including:
- We need to arrange our venue better. (On the first day of the meeting we were relocated twice by the organisers, the room we ended up with was a non-rearrangeable lecture hall that was also advertised as the meeting place for incoming attendees, quite unsuitable for meetings; the room was not properly equipped with extension cords and markers, not to mention any other amenity. The room on the second day was a classroom that was better suited for our needs, but the lack of equipment was persistent and there was construction work being done in the adjacent room.)
- The meeting would benefit if it was lead by a neutral facilitator instead of one of the members, in this case mostly Bence.
- Prepare some flyers or any kind of printed material for booth type events.