Talk:Wikimedia Chapters Association

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Unintended politicization of chapter creation[edit]

I'd like to point out a possible problem that I mentioned at the old Meta talk page for the Chapters Council. Discussion should continue there (or be moved here if someone would be bothered to do it). --seav (talk) 11:10, 5 April 2012 (UTC)

Copied. Tomer A. -- Talk 15:35, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

Unintended politicization of chapter creation[edit]

If we have a Chapters Council which has decision-making powers and where each chapter has one vote, then that may unintentionally influence the creation of future chapters and may result in large countries (by land area) having multiple votes in the Council. We already see this in the United States having 2 sub-national chapters and thus the United States would have 2 votes in the Council.

A hypothetical example: If a large country were to decide to follow the US model and create chapters organized on a sub-national basis, then people may suspect that the Chapters Council may be a reason, whether or not that is true.

Local Chapters are created in order to best further the Wikimedia mission in a specific geographical jurisdiction. We leave it to the communities who want to become organized as a chapter to decide the geographical scope of their Chapter as long as they are within a single jurisdiction and there's no overlap with existing chapters. Thus, we have no objections to there being a Wikimedia DC and a Wikimedia NYC. However, if there's a Chapters Council, such future sub-national chapters would have the effect of raising eyebrows and put an additional burden on the Chapters Committee to ascertain if such chapters were created with the Chapters Council in mind. --seav (talk) 18:28, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

The same issue already exists with the Chapter Selected WMF Board seats. They are selected using a one-chapter-one-vote system, which does give the US two votes. I agree it is a problem. I'm not in favour of sub-national chapters (Hong Kong is a unique situation and I don't object to that chapter). I think the US should just get its act together and create a national chapter like everyone else has done. It's probably not worth worrying about that now, but it is something the council should probably discuss once it is up and running. --Tango (talk) 19:58, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
I think you're using a wrong example to express a true concern. IMO what you're afraid of are people registering chapters in order to gain political power over a certain scenario (let that be the WCA or the board selection process). I don't think we should be afraid from the sub-national chapters in the US more than we should be afraid of the people in the Benelux area, the Arab league or the jewish folks. Tomer A. -- Talk 15:35, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
Well, I would like to dwell on a more fundamental aspect of the WCA's constitution here: You cannot just found a local chapter, each chapter has to be registered with the Wikimedia Foundation. So, the WCA would leave it to the WMF to decide on the WCA's inner balance of votes. I think this is a bad idea indeed. It would be wise to think about some procedure in order to get more independent from the WMF's leverage here. There could be a restriction by country, or, say, even by continent.--Aschmidt (talk) 17:43, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that's something needs to be decided now. Tomer A. -- Talk 18:03, 7 April 2012 (UTC)
Certainly not, but in the long run.--Aschmidt (talk) 19:25, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

Logo Needed[edit]

Hi, We need a logo to be created. --naveenpf (talk) 10:12, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Like this? --Tango (talk) 14:40, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

+1 Thanks Tango --naveenpf (talk) 15:16, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

logo is indeed needed. The suggested logo includes one of the WMF trademarks. In order to use it the WCA needs to sign a trademark agreement. This is something we only mentioned but haven't started working on yet. Tomer A. -- Talk 13:44, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Indeed - I mentioned on the description page when I created the image that it is for demonstration purposes only until permission is received from the WMF. The WMF seems to be very supportive of the WCA, though, so I don't see getting permission being a problem. The name "Wikimedia Chapters Association" includes one of the trademarks too ("Wikimedia"), so permission will be needed whatever logo is chosen. --Tango (talk) 15:22, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Yup. Time is short and work is much Face-smile.svg Tomer A. -- Talk 16:56, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
A formal, written trademark agreement between the WCA and the WMF is a lot of work, but I wouldn't worry about that now. Just ask the WMF for interim permission to use the trademarks - they give that permission to chapters so they can start work before all the paperwork is finished, so I expect they would do the same for the WCA. The paperwork can wait until there is a paid secretary-general to do it (they is plenty of other paperwork that you do need to do now!). --Tango (talk) 17:48, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I think we can put mail to Geoff -- naveenpf (talk) 20:12, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Let's wait a little with this. Tomer A. -- Talk 11:01, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
A subject best left to the interim SG.Ziko (talk) 12:36, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

People are correct in pointing out that use of Wikimedia trademarks requires a license from WMF in its capacity as steward of the movement’s marks. This includes any attempt to incorporate under a name using a Wikimedia mark. If you set up a legal entity, we ask that WCA operate under a Wikimedia mark only after it completes the customary steps for recognition as a Wikimedia affiliate. I would suggest that this should involve consultation with AffCom, AffCom’s recommendation to the Board, and the Board approval of AffCom’s recommendation.

WCA is welcome to incorporate under a different neutral name that does not make use of Wikimedia marks. If WCA wishes to use Wikimedia marks preliminarily while WCA is consulting with AffCom, WCA may be able to request a limited, short-term license to legally operate (but not incorporate) as “Wikimedia Chapters Association” until AffCom can make a formal recommendation to the Board. We do encourage WCA to engage in a dialogue with AffCom and WMF and seek guidance for formal recognition by the movement, and we look forward to working with WCA when WCA is ready to request a trademark license.

Thanks, Geoffbrigham (talk) 23:25, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing that out. We will get in touch with the AffCom immediately for clarification. As there is a strong interest by the WMF that the WCA is established, I do not expect any major difficulties. --Mglaser (talk) 23:57, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Goeffbrigham, someone from WMF indicated that the WCA can use the trademark and logo as an extension from the rights already given to the chapters. Could that possibly be an intermediate way of reading the rules unless we have clarification by the AffCom? I am trying to avoid unneccessary delays in the WCA incorporation process. --Mglaser (talk) 00:37, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
Mglaser, unfortunately not. That would technically be a third-party trademark license, which is not possible under our agreement with the chapters. Thanks for asking. And happy holidays to everyone. Geoffbrigham (talk) 02:01, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi Geoff, there is something to clarify because the trademark policy says that "We encourage the use of the Wikimedia Marks in not-for-profit publicity activities and for associated non-profit organizations to show their association with the Foundation and its projects" so I don't see any opposition in the use of this mark, in my opinion. The opinion of the Affcom may give more "consistency" to this use because it will be permanent, but I don't see any conflict with the trademark policy because the WCA will be a "no profit" association and it supposed that the WCA will not operate in commercial matters. Regards. --Ilario (talk) 15:16, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

You need a bill of rights[edit]

Reading over your Charter and Standing Orders, it seems like there is too much instability in your organization, which could potentially be exploited. Your Standing Orders could be changed at any time and your Charter doesn't contain sufficient protections. You should have, at minimum:

  • An explicit numerical/percentage limit on the fees that can be placed on any chapter by the WCA.
  • A right of a chapter to disavow responsibility for any obligations (financial or otherwise) placed on it by withdrawing within, say, 60 days.
  • More explicit guarantees that when you "pass whatever resolutions necessary", that these won't interfere in chapters' internal affairs.

I'm sure that those of you actually involved can think up more. Please, don't get so caught up in empowering your new organization that you forget what can happen when the wrong people get into power and things go wrong. Wnt (talk) 12:20, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

The WCA is supposed to interfere in the internal affairs of chapters. That's its job. The only right member chapters really need is the right to leave. That could perhaps be reinforced. I really don't think we want a "bill of rights". If you have too many rules, you create too much room for decisions to be made by lawyering, rather than based on their own merits (and you end up with things like US healthcare policy being based on how a bunch of lawyers interpret the exact definition of the word "tax"). I think the WCA is much better off leaving itself flexible enough to deal with new situations appropriately rather than trying to set everything down in stone. --Tango (talk) 16:39, 13 July 2012 (UTC)
The light-on-your-feet approach of being ready to leave at any time seems at odds with a large budget for buildings and personnel. The problem I see here is that I think you could end up stuck with IRL lawyering. I mean, to give an over-the-top example, suppose Romney throws a dart at a map and invades... Macedonia. Some European chapters elect hard-line peaceniks to represent them, who come to the meeting, vote to set aside the Standing Orders and elect a new chairman, then pass a resolution that the American chapters will give three-fourths of their accumulated and incoming funds to the Macedonian chapter to document the horrors of the war on the ground. The chairman doesn't recognize the American chapters' protests and declarations that they're leaving, and says that the agreement they've signed means they're on the hook for the money, and it ends up in court. Of course, I exaggerate, and the real problems would probably be far more subtle, but is there anything in your charter to prevent even this ludicrous example? Wnt (talk) 12:47, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree it is needed in some way, the second point is one of the reasons that WMSE has not joined the WCA. --Ainali (talk) 15:14, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
Is it just financial commitments you are concerned about? Those should be fairly easy to sort out. Just require one month's notice of any required contribution and specify that any chapter leaving the WCA within that month doesn't have the pay. The WCA should keep some reserves, as any organisation should, so that it can deal with sudden loss of expected income. --Tango (talk) 15:40, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
That's a start. I can't tell you everything you should have. I should disclose that I'm not a member of a chapter, and I hadn't heard of the WCA before it was mentioned on Jimbo's page yesterday and I glanced over the documents you have here. But even if you want to add just this one thing, you'll need to remake your charter to accommodate the change. You might as well think it through carefully and come up with the best "Bill of Rights" you can. Wnt (talk) 15:55, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
No, it is not the only concerns the chapter have. My personal view is that the biggest one was clearly illustrated on the pre-meeting this Wednesday where almost 50 % of the chapters said that the most important task for the association would be to act as a united voice against the Foundation. I would rather see that we were working together towards our mission, by sharing knowledge between chapters and helping each other, but when people are talking about what the association should do it rarely comes out as their top priority. Ainali (talk) 19:39, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
The Charter currently includes some language that limits the ability of the council to unilaterally raise fees on anyone. Specifically, it says "to determine the level of dues from the member Chapters, according to each Chapter's financial status, so the level of dues should be affordable and reasonable to each Chapter", which, at least in my reading of that language, precludes your scenario, at least in theory. In practice, however, the trouble is that there's currently hardly any way to prevent a council from violating the charter (or, indeed, getting any binding interpretation of it). The original draft of the charter included a special body for such disputes (e.g. a dispute between the council and a chapter) but it was removed in Berlin because many felt it was unnecessary. sebmol ? 15:48, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
You're right - that's what I was picturing being argued in a court - but it's far too vague. "Affordable" literally means it's something you can pay, not that it is a minor expense. And "reasonable" might mean that you can give a reason behind it... but does it have to be a good one? Reasonable to who? Wnt (talk) 15:55, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Language[edit]

" It could even do this to all chapters and ruin the WCA."

I think the word "ruin" is inappropriate. "Disband" seems more proper. Ottava Rima (talk) 04:12, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't understand the intention of this section at all. Why is it necessary to create this picture of opposition when you are talking about the membership in the WCA? --Alice Wiegand (talk) 12:41, 25 July 2012 (UTC)
This picture should not be created, indeed. But in the discussions of the CMs someone (I believe Michal) expressed his concerns about the fact that the WMF decides what is a chapter and what not. This was already discussed in Berlin in the AffCom meetings. I wanted here to stress out that there is no reason to worry. - What would be a better wording? Ziko (talk) 12:53, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

I suggest this is cut back. A discussion of what a chapter is, including the role of the WMF in recognizing a chapter, would be better dealt with at Chapters and Local chapter FAQ. If those pages are not enough, they should be made better, rather than repeat information or stray into speculation. Thanks -- (talk) 13:00, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

WMF Board letter regarding the Chapters Association[edit]

At our February 2 Board meeting, we spent several hours discussing the proposed Chapters Association and its potential role in the Wikimedia movement.

Despite our initial optimism, we have now reluctantly concluded that the proposed Chapters Association is unlikely to advance the Wikimedia mission significantly. We encouraged the concept in its early stages, but in light of the implementation to date, we regretfully have come to believe it will not be successful.

In our opinion, the Chapters Association hasn’t made a persuasive case that it will be effective. We believe that during its development thus far, it has not consulted sufficiently with movement stakeholders. We are concerned that it will not be equipped to offer oversight, which would be essential for an entity expected to provide governance support and oversight for the chapters. Considering its proposed role in the movement as well as the demand it would place on movement resources, we believe these factors are decisive.

Our reservations about the Chapters Association are serious, and we have difficulty envisioning circumstances in which the Wikimedia Foundation would be able to recognize it. That said, we believe in individuals and movement entities organising themselves to support each other, and that successful models for this exist.

We are acting now because of the recent call for hiring of the Secretary General by the Chapters Association and its apparent plans to incorporate soon.

We acknowledge that significant time and effort have been put into this initiative, and understand that some people will be disappointed by this conclusion. We welcome your comments.

For the Wikimedia board, Kat Walsh (spill your mind?) 05:26, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Comments[edit]

What does this mean for File:Wikimedia Chapters Association.svg? If the Chapters Association is not recognized by the Wikimedia Foundation, can it continue to use this logo? --MZMcBride (talk) 06:03, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflicted) I'm not a WCA council member, but as a community member I can say that it's surely all been more transparent than the WMF board, here on Meta etc.; I've no idea what "not consulted sufficiently with movement stakeholders" means. Anyway, WMF had already rejected funding and (early use of) trademarks; in light of the above letter, there are additional good reasons to stop waiting and proceed with the chapters association plans. --Nemo 06:08, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
To summarise, does the fact that "these factors are decisive" mean that the Chapters Association is now officially dis-endorsed (to whatever degree it was provisionally endorsed in the first place) and that the WMF will not recognise the validity of anything said "on behalf of" the CA in the future? Does "successful models for this exist" mean that the WMF would like to see some other form of Chapter-unionisation proposal put forth, just not this one? Does it also mean that the call for a Secretary-General is now futile? Wittylama (talk) 06:26, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Kat was kind enough to give myself and Ziko sight of this letter yesterday which was much appreciated. Having slept on it, I will be responding in my capacity as the elected Chapters Association Council Chair later today, though my review with the Council Members will not be until our meeting on the 16th & 17th February. Some trustees from the Foundation board have offered to break bread with us over that weekend to help interpret the letter and provide an inside view on the workings of the WMF board of trustees.
In line with our shared values of openness and transparency, Council Members are encouraged to give their thoughts here on meta, though none should yet be interpreted as an agreed Association viewpoint. I have no doubt that we would all rather have an agreed strategy that delivers the long term benefit to the open knowledge movement we are all looking for, rather than "positions". Thanks -- (talk) 06:57, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment: I'd like to share my own view, expressed on my own behalf an no-one else's. I believe that WCA or some other entity of this sort has an important role to play for the movement. There are many things we're already good at, and many we are still learning - collaboration between chapters and across borders is the latter, and so is an effective knowledge transfer, spreading good practices, etc. Also, the chapters could benefit from a strong representation/council, and from some counterbalance to the Foundation. I also have a different opinion on WCA communication with the stakeholders, I believe it has been ongoing, although perhaps more would be better. However, the way WCA has been developing raises my serious concerns. These stem from three areas:
  • Model of financing: I believe that the chosen model of financing WCA is risky. Membership fees are dangerously close to the tithes. Effectively, when this model is adopted, WCA gets money first and thinks on what to spend it on later. This is a flawed model, as proven in many organizations. A better solution is creating a plausible plan, with SMART goals, milestones, measures of success, and applying for its covering after careful thinking it through (and, after getting the money, reporting on the plan's execution, reflecting on the areas for improvement, lessons for the future, etc.). I believe that the FDC offers such a model and that it would be much better suited for WCA funding, as it would radically increase WCA's accountability, transparency, and also possibly credibility.
  • Actual spending: What has appalled me, and as I know from talks to many fellow Wikimedians, it stroke them too, are the levels of planned spending. I understand that everything is planned to be as professional as possible, and hiring a consultant to choose the secretary general, as well as to choose the location to incorporate indicate that the corporate standards are kept in mind. However, I think that especially in a movement such as ours, we need to be extremely frugal whenever possible. It is both an ethical obligation, and also a pragmatic responsibility to our donors and sponsors, who obviously want their money to be spent well. Also, in our decisions we probably should try to send the right message. I understand that the hired (Western) consultant gave a choice of 3 Western European cities to choose from. I have no idea if s/he made an informed decision basing also on his/her knowledge of other European countries laws, or just followed an autopilot (it would be interesting to know not only what s/he chose and why, but also what countries were considered, as surely no-one can be an expert in all). But choosing one of the most expensive cities in the world (sic!), with costs of living more than three times higher than in e.g. Budapest or the Prague (which both are great cities to live in, come from the former Eastern block and reaching across the former divide would be a nice thing to do anyway) does not seem right. Similarly, hiring a really well-paid professional as the secretary general, before the operations start, raises serious doubts, which brings me to the final point:
  • Mode of operating: In NGO world especially, but not particularly differently than in the world of business, how things are done is at least equally important as what the actions are. There is also a natural trajectory of organic growth - be it an association or an business start-up (I've founded both kinds more than once, I believe the same general principles do apply). In the case of WCA it would seem that the main focus was on how to start big, rather than on what to do. In other words, most of the efforts have been focused on the salaries, professional recruitment, choosing the city for incorporation, etc. These are not the things that matter most for a good start-up, or a good new association. What matters, though, is addressing the needs of the stakeholders and the people/organizations we serve. Just imagine how much more natural the choice of the managing board would be if WCA incorporated as a result of a successful initiative to organize workshops and conference on wiki loves monuments practices. Or dispute resolution on different wikis. Or privacy philosophy. Or anything else. What I am trying to say is that professionalism does not always mean doing things how the big boys and girls do it, but sometimes how they did it when they were our age. It really is very unusual for any new organization to start from structures, corporate standards, and a bit of red tape - a much more typical and perhaps healthier way is growing from initiatives that serve the community. Let's assume, hypothetically, that the costs of the first year of incorporating WCA are 100k USD (or more like 500k, no matter). Is it better spent on starting the organization up, or on financing initiatives in the movement, which would naturally emerge the leaders (including possibly even the potential secretary general), lead to a more natural emergence of the city if incorporation, and would also do some real impact on the way?
All in all, I have mixed feelings about the Board's decision. I understand the concerns, and as expressed above, I have my own. In the same time, I believe that WCA as an idea is important and needs support. I am also anxious that the results of this decision may be difficult to predict. It may help the WCA idea heal, but it may also lead to WCA being pushed through without reform even more. I hope that some form of WCA will emerge, but I personally would like to see some changes in the ways things are done, so maybe a fresh start would not be such a bad idea after all. Pundit (talk) 08:24, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
This is a very disappointing letter. It is undeniable that the WCA hasn't got running as quickly as anyone would have liked and it has got a little bogged down in bureucracy, but I don't think you can conclude much about its future success from its initial work in getting set up. How can you possibly know if it will be able to provide oversight? It hasn't even tried yet - it's still getting its own house in order. It is also unclear what this letter actually means. The WMF had never offered any formal endorsement or support for the WCA, as far as I am aware, so nothing has actually changed here other than what the WCA can expect in the future. While the WMF's support would make the WCA's work easier, it is far from essential, so I look forward to them proving you wrong. --Tango (talk) 12:09, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Comment Why does this costing so much? More than half a million is a huge sum. And what exactly do we as a movement get from this? IMO we do not need more bureaucracy but less. A $100,000 for the secretary general, to run an organization that does not even exist yet? What we need is more tech people. While I know all those involved in this are good people why are they not doing this was volunteers? I donate around $250,000 worth of my time a year to the movement and still throw in some cash. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 12:48, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Could you explain where you get the "more than half a million" figure from, I've not heard this one before? At the moment the Chapters Association costs have been less than $5,000, even if you tried very hard to count every bus fare and ham sandwich. Consisting of some recruitment consultancy from Stefan Levko to get the Secretary General recruitment underway and a bit of travel for Council members. It would be neat to compare that to the full set up costs of the FDC. The 21 members of the Council are all directors of chapters [or nominated by their home chapter board members] and cost $0. I would not dare to tot up the full time equivalent value to the Wikimedia movement of the unpaid and unrecognized effort we have put into this since Wikimania last year. Thanks -- (talk) 13:00, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
The letter is not surprising. An association that purports to represent legally independent chapters is in a conflict of interest if at the same time it becomes dependent on the WMF for funding, or even if it feels a need to be a recognized user of the Wikimedia logos. For that matter, in an organization that will operate within a closed group, and that will have only incidental public exposure, logos are not an important consideration. Hiring a Secretary-General at this stage of the WCA's development is a foolish expense with very few prospects for cost-effectiveness. Incorporation is another matter; it really should be done quickly. This, however, has nothing to do with a first-year expense of $100,000, or establishing a physical office, or the salary structure that it will establish for its employees. Payroll taxes for its potential employees do not depend on the jurisdiction of incorporation as long as those employees are no living and working there. The importance of incorporation is to make the association a legal person capable of doing business in its own name. Anything else is optional. Eclecticology (talk) 13:03, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Sure I support this as a volunteer ad hock group like most other newly formed organizations. I went here [1] where it said draft budget which linked me here [2] which said an equivalent of more than half a million CAD/USD and I lost my mind :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:08, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Ah, that explains it. That discussion document from last summer was not supported by the Council. The plan is to ensure we have sufficient budget to cover wind-up costs but then a professional budget to meet the goals of our charter would be proposed to the Council, as the priority of the new Secretary General, rather than unfairly letting more unpaid volunteers burn themselves out trying to put one together for free. Thanks -- (talk) 13:15, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Most of the management of most of our chapters and thematic organizations are carried out for free by volunteers managers / directors. Some of the directors even funds the costs of the organizations they manage and will likely do so into the foreseeable future. Why should this organization be different?
If volunteers believe strongly in something it will not burn them out. That is what powers Wikipedia. Paying people can change motivation from being intrinsic to being extrinsic and decrease motivation per [3]. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:22, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
We have thousands of volunteers who donate an equivalent of a full time job or more to Wikimedia causes of huge importance. People who occasionally get burned out and we lose them. Why is this position any different than the thousands of others? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:30, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
It is not particularly different to the single Chapter experience of the limitations of being an small but highly effective 'society' of unpaid volunteers, to an organization with an employed office function for administrative tasks that may be less effective but frees volunteers to deliver better value. In the case of the Association, there is a large amount of administration to be managed such as Council process (minutes, logistics, calendars, translations, expenses, budgeting, maintaining standing orders), legal and accounting requirements and simple board governance. In practice, just agreeing a budget was far too much work for unpaid volunteers and these tasks have introduced significant delay to setting up the Association. The most cost effective solution still appears to be to have an employed Secretary General, we have discussed other options, including temporary consultancies, but invariably the costs are far higher than employing one person and ensuring wind-up costs are covered. Thanks -- (talk) 13:39, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I do not think the major chapters where they are now and the WCA are comparable. What would be comparable to the WCA is Wiki Project Med which is trying to overcome all these same hurtles but with a budget of less than 10 thousand.
If the budget was say 10 thousand it would be much easier for volunteers to agree on. IMO this sort of organization should grow slowly from the ground up gather than attempt to appear fully formed. The latter is to great a risk. Small organization are easier to change if problems occur. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:20, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Comment I should like to congratulate the WMF Board on its decision. WCA has lacked any credibility ever since it elected a Chair who was already in the process of being banned from the English Wikipedia and then failed to remove him. How can an organisation whose chief is banned from the most famous Wikimedia project possibly be an appropriate place to spend Wikimedia money? This is blatant evidence of just the sort of poor governance that is being discussed. There must be better ways to spend the Wiki millions than on a talkign shop that will let anyoen lead it.--Peter cohen (talk) 13:12, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

First: No argumentum ad hominem, please. Thank you. Second: I'm a bit suprised that the Board does not support an idea that most Chapters - as shown in the Berlin Agreement - support. And this letter above doesn't explain anything to me. Kind regards, --Kellerkind (talk) 13:46, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
The support of the majority of chapter representatives does not necessarily mean the support of the majority of the Wikimedia Movement as a whole which is where the WMF should take some of its direction. I think it would be good to clarify what the majority of the Wikimedia Movement thinks of the WCA if they wish recognition by the WMF / funding from the WM movement. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:13, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Personally I agree with you. Nevertheless the WMF should have an interest to have good relations to the local chapters as well. From this point of view I think this decision is, hm, a bit offensive? Kind regards, --Kellerkind (talk) 14:28, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
While thankfully we do not pay arbcom and it should stay this way. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:22, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Fæ, the full set up costs of the FDC definitely have not been trifle and I definitely agree that same principles should apply to the FDC as to the WCA (requiring making a contribution for the cause), although I hope you realize that the whole FDC is also entirely unpaid and involves a huge amount of time. I also agree with the comments of Eclecticology above. The tremendous work you did on making WCA work may be unrecognized simply because you have not advertised the possible benefits and outcomes of the WCA being incorporated. More independence and more power in relations with WMF is clear - and possibly beneficial in some cases. The thing is, what else? It seems you're starting with structure, rather than with ideas/plans upfront (even though I'm pretty sure you do know what you plan to do, you just don't advertise it as effectively as the structure part). I also have to say that the Secretary General's gross salary of 246 thousand dollars (net salary plus taxes) is a really huge sum, two medium chapters could live on that for a year, so it is understandable that there is a need, in a radically transparent movement as ours, for justifying it in the effects it brings. Fæ, out of curiosity, have you even considered incorporating in w:en:Central Europe, in one of the countries with good infrastructure, high quality of life, and much lower costs of running business (and also, much lower taxes in many cases)? Taxes alone take up 160k in your budget, so any optimization there makes a difference. Pundit (talk) 13:24, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Please note there is no budget for the WCA. The document you are referring to is a draft that was made even before the Washington Meeting in June. It was then rejected. --Mglaser (talk) 13:36, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Many thanks for clarifying this. Yet, I somehow fail to understand the reasoning behind hiring a professional for quarter million dollars without a concrete plan, budget, and strategy - surely it does exist, but has not been publicized, right? Pundit (talk) 13:40, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Nobody is being hired for a quarter of a million dollars. At least not by the Chapters Association. Thanks -- (talk) 13:44, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
That's what I thought but it is good to hear anyway :) Are you able to divulge the planned overall cost (salary + taxes) of the secretary general? It's been my understanding the hiring process is on... Also, can you confirm that you do have a program/strategy of action, but it has simply not been published yet? Finally, could you comment on the location for incorporation and if the considered countries included Central Europe? I'm asking specifically for this, as Soros Foundation operates very effectively in Budapest, Czech Republic has a max. income tax rate of 15% (and so does Lithuania), etc. Geneva, one of the four most expensive cities in the world, seems extravagant to a bystander, that's all. Pundit (talk) 13:52, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't see where you take the quarter million from. I am aware of one proposal where this sum came up, but this were meant to be the costs for SG, Deputy SG, Chapter development coordinater, Office Manager and PR person. Again, this was a suggestion for a debate and it was rejected. --Mglaser (talk) 13:54, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Here, in a document which as I understand now is obsolete, there is a sum of 96 thousand Euro for Secretary General's salary, and 86 thousand Euro for Secretary General's taxes on salary, which gives a total of 246 thousand USD of effective cost (based on Belgium taxation though , but in Geneva it would be roughly similarstarted to read on canton, federal, municipal taxes and not sure of anything there anymore). That's why the location for incorporation has really major financial consequences - Switzerland (and particularly Geneva) is not only expensive to operate in, but also involves taxation levels higher than other countries. Pundit (talk) 14:00, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Taxation has been considered already and discussed on this very wiki, so if you had suggestions on the topic you should have shared them in advance. Also, Switzerland having high taxation sounds like a very novel concept to my ears, although maybe Luxembourg or the Seychelles would offer higher discounts (with dubious effects on reputation). --Nemo 17:29, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
As I wrote above, I was unable to immediately see the effective tax rate for this purpose, as Switzerland has both a low general country-level tax, as well as other canton, and city taxes on income; plus e.g. the costs of medical insurance to consider (in many EU countries included in taxes, AFAIK not so in Switzerland). All this is relevant, of course, only if the overall costs of incorporating in Switzerland make sense. Do they? High taxation in Switzerland may sound like a novel concept (and I trust that indeed all tax issues were considered, including what is covered in taxes elsewhere), while the high costs of living in one of the four most expensive cities in the world still sound rather extravagant. Again, I trust there are reasons: could someone state them? Why have not much cheaper countries in EU been considered? Plus the outstanding questions to Fæ above... Replies definitely could help in understanding the decisions and accepting the reasons behind them. Pundit (talk) 17:53, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I find it difficult to understand why some want to insist that incorporation in Switzerland would mean that any employees of WCA would be taxed in Switzerland. That would only be the case if the person does his work in Switzerland, or is already Swiss. This insistance shows a complete ignorance of tax matters. The successful candidate could as easily work from his home country. Is anyone considering the costs of relocating an employee to Switzerland? or of relocating that person back home after his term is complete? Eclecticology (talk) 23:03, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Apologies, I assumed that the person running the organization would work in the place of incorporation. Of course you're right. Technically, only accounting has to be done in Switzerland, I suppose. Pundit (talk) 09:46, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
And yet, if incorporation place does not matter, why did the budget, which was not finally accepted, include Belgium taxation at all? If the budget plan was simply a mistake and a flawed attempt, where is the right one? What were the core factors leading to incorporating in Switzerland and who chose them? And most importantly, since the secretary general is currently being hired, does a detailed strategic plan and a budget for WCA exist and why is it not public? If it does not exist, does it make a professional sense to hire now and why? Just asking - I am professionally involved in management and strategic planning and addressing these issues (asked a couple of times already but with no reply) would really help me understand the logic behind these moves and decisions, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Pundit (talk) 12:05, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Chapters were always a bad idea, as was allowing in users who don't produce actual content. Most of Wikipedia (regardless of language) are people that are better fit for MySpace. This is a step in the right direction, and that direction is to get rid of all the hangers on, which represent far, far too much of Wikipedia. Content editors have consistently been abused and neglected, while those who don't contribute claim false credit for work they never did, plagiarize, or just do whatever they can to divert from the core mission of the Foundation. Politics trumps all, and petty politics runs rampant. 68.55.132.69 00:19, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
I do agree with the sentiment that we need to keep our efforts geared towards supporting content contributors. I would love to see not just a FDC but a tech dissemination committee where people can apply for tech support for projects. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 02:19, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
68.55.132.69 Your assumption appears to be that those interested in creating chapters and other organizations to support the open knowledge movement are interested in politics, not content. I suggest you consider my 600,000 edits, admittedly only 76,000 on the English Wikipedia, and then assess who else on this page has a higher contribution measured in this simplistic way. Thanks -- (talk) 07:43, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
I think the primary question is more how this organization will advance the efforts of editors generally and the projects specifically. Those involved are definitely some of the most dedicated and prolific contributors.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 08:01, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Chapters are doing a lot of field work in arranging public events like editing and photo contests, and attracting new contributors. WCA is intended to help chapters do their work. Please don't feed the troll. --Oop (talk) 08:11, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Sure I am well aware of the fact that chapters are involved in lots of public outreach efforts. I am unsure however how the WCA is going to help or support this? What work specifically do chapters need help with? Is this help they need the same for all chapters or different for different chapters? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 08:27, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
You were exactly what kind of fake editor I referred to - those who spam edit categories and other pointless things to drown out your contributions so people wont realize that you don't actually contribute. You harassed dozens of editors and collaborated in a negative manner to cause problems. Just because Arbitrators on ArbCom are hypocrites that did the same doesn't make your bad actions anything worth while. 68.55.132.69 04:20, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

I've read the word "Budapest" somewhere above that made me comment here :) My personal opinion would be as an exec vp of WMHU (following the WCA list since december), that I'd be happy to see WCA or something like that established in Hungary, although we were one of those chapters who did NOT join WCA in Berlin or anytime later, nor planning (for this "banned-by-the-WMF-board" version) albeit having a general interest in such an organization.

Meanwhile on a much smaller level, WMHU could be able to host events like the Finance meeting 2012. Not conferences, just workshops, meaning strictly 1 person/chapter (where one means one for every entity) what would put maximum the 39 chapters' reps + WMF (40 ppl) together. Never more than the actual number of chapters + WMF (+WCA if it ever comes to reality). Travel costs and accomodation would be paid by the sending chapters, no scholarship (WMF/FDC/"wealty chapters" could offer though), but WMHU would help (assist) with flights, hotels and of course with local travel and whatever needed.

I have three main topics in my mind right now: one about programme management/public outreach for programme directors (or similar), one about operations for operational directors or similar (whoever runs the given chapter day-to-day, with no matter to the title) and one about finance (see Finance meeting 2012). One of them would be held in spring, the other in autumn and the third one in winter. Summer is for Wikimania. What do you say? Feel free to discuss it on my talkpage. --Vince (WMHU) (talk) 14:58, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Request for WMF BoT statements[edit]

In this very special case I want to have single statements of every individual member of the board, including their vote. Is this possible in general? --Stepro (talk) 08:22, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

+1.--Aschmidt (talk) 09:23, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --Robert Radke (talk) 09:31, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --Kellerkind (talk) 09:44, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --Maor X (talk) 11:46, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --smial (talk) 13:35, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --Anja Ebersbach (talk) 14:29, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --David Ludwig (talk) 14:35, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 -- (talk) 14:54, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --Abbasjnr (talk) 15:10, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --Andreas JN466 15:39, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --Nemo 16:05, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --Deryck C. 16:27, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 --46.117.231.129 20:00, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
It looks like the vote was unanimous. I very much doubt you'll be able to elicit statements from every Board member (I doubt all of them can even edit Meta-Wiki). It was a bit strange that this letter wasn't posted as a resolution or as a vote of no confidence more formally. --MZMcBride (talk) 17:07, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Probably the scope was circumventing the new rule which makes all individual votes public. The WMF board likes to surprise us. ;-) --Nemo 17:30, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure of your point, Nemo. The Board was unanimous in its support of the letter which we wrote together. Stu (talk) 19:02, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Sure, there's no point in showing disagreement if it's so forbidden that it can't even be mentioned. --Nemo 20:45, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I struck the part of my comment that questioned whether all of the Board members could edit here at Meta-Wiki. It was rude and unfair, as Sj pointed out to me. All of the current Board members have accounts here and are reasonably active (to my surprise). I apologize for suggesting otherwise. --MZMcBride (talk) 06:40, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. Stu (talk) 06:44, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 -- Anthere (talk) 17:25, 5 February 2013 (UTC) individual statements would be lovely
+1--Poupou l'quourouce (talk) 20:36, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
+1 Jan-Bart (talk) 02:21, 6 February 2013 (UTC) ;) (although some board members might not be able to find the time in the next days as they are also volunteers)
+1 --Hubertl (talk) 18:45, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Many thanks to Stu, Jan-Bart, Patricio and Alice. I do not agree with your decision, but now I can understand why you have made it at least. --Stepro (talk) 08:47, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Stu West statement[edit]

My name is Stu West and I’m one of the Wikimedia Foundation Trustees. I’m happy to respond to this request because I believe that all of us on the organizational side of our movement are here in large part to support you, the editors that create the projects that allow our community to pursue its vision. As it happens, that belief is also the core of my personal concerns with the proposed Chapters Association.

Like many, I am attracted to the idea that cooperative, community-driven groups can play a coaching/mentoring role across our movement. The Chapters Committee (now Affiliations Committee) has made incredible contributions for years, and Iberocoop has been a great model for how our people in our community can support one another.

As discussions around a chapters association took on some momentum a year ago, and particularly during and after the excellent community meeting Wikimedia France hosted in Paris in February of 2012, I was optimistic about the promise for such a group.

Since then, sadly, I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the actions of this nascent organization:

  • It selected and empowered as Chair someone banned from our community's largest project, demonstrating a disconnect from and disrespect for our editing community. I don’t personally consider this acceptable for any individual or organization in our movement.
  • Its initial proposed budget was larger than that of most of the chapters it purports to represent.
  • It pursued legal incorporation and the hiring of an senior staff in an expensive location before demonstrating any contribution to our community. This was even after many (including me) suggested that it pursue some kind of actual work first to test out and better understand the value it could add.
  • It selected grandiose titles for its intended staff (e.g. "Secretary-General"), demonstrating a tendency toward power/ego rather than humble (even anonymous) contribution that is the personality of our movement.

As the Foundation’s Audit Committee Chair, and a board member passionate about the organizational side of our movement, I reached out to its Chair and Vice Chair in writing in early October to share my concerns. I even made a trip to London in November and spent some time with its Chair.

Sadly, based on these interactions and on following the wikis, I concluded that the Chapters Association in its current form is not on track to be a constructive part of our community. It’s just not connected with the editors, not respectful enough of them. I’m too concerned that it’s going to be just another layer of bureaucracy and politicization that will at best be irrelevant to the pursuit of our vision and at worst slow it down.

A cooperative, community-driven body dedicated to supporting our mission and our community could be amazing -- look at what Iberocoop has done, or the ChapCom/AffCom. Unfortunately, that is not the path that the Chapters Association has ended up pursuing. Thus I joined the unanimous Board support for the letter. (PS -- i'm working on a blog post reflecting on the broader organizational issues; look for it in a few days) Stu (talk) 16:21, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Comments[edit]
Thank you for your statement. The reasons you give for your decision all look very sound.--Peter cohen (talk) 16:42, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Too bad that it shows a disconnect from reality, see #Why is AffCom not involved with this decision?. --Nemo 16:52, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
We discussed asking AffCom or the Foundation staff take the lead on this issue. But this is a really important issue, and a sensitive and emotional one. I think it's appropriate that the Board make the decision and communicate it. One of the core responsibilities of leadership is to take on the hard issues and stand up for what is important.Stu (talk) 18:03, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, we'll see what sort of people will follow such leadership. Also, leadership means taking risks for one's own decisions. What risks do you take as a WMF board member? --Nemo 20:39, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I do not fully agree with all these points (specifically, I cannot support the comment about Fae). But generally, that statement makes sense. Thanks for sharing. Anthere (talk)
Hi Stu, thanks for being the first trustee to make a statement. I note that you say the Chapters Association (with a Council formed of 21 members put forward by their home chapter boards, chapters who publicly signed up to the charter) "purports" to represent the chapters we represent. Did you intend to claim that this documented representation is false? If so, I believe you should clearly lay out the case for that claim on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Oh, as for the title "Secretary General", I never liked it either, but you know, it was a democratic decision, as was my election, though in that latter case I proposed an early fresh election for the Chair position in March 2013, you can see it was on the agenda last week. I believe I told you that was the plan, during our impromptu personal chat over dinner in January, along with the fact that I was not banned at the time of my election, and the ongoing controversial Arbcom case on the English Wikipedia was well known. Perhaps those facts escaped you. Thanks -- (talk) 17:50, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
"Purports" was too loaded a word. I apologize. What I meant was "intends."Stu (talk) 18:05, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your statement and that you put in time end energy looking into this issue. The risk for us, the movement, to be associated with luxary spending is a real threat and which seems to be the main target from adversaries to us like The Register. The facts that is shown on this thread is all new to me, but gives me a sense of a body loosing control with reality and what we stand for. And whatever the potential for WCA, no body or part of the movement, should be given the leeway to be in conflict with our key values. As a volonteer spending som 1500 hour/year editing in my free timw I thank the Board for this decision.Anders Wennersten (talk) 17:55, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for taking the time to explain your position. Unfortunately, you have made at least two factual errors. Firstly, the WCA did not elect a banned user. They elected someone who was then banned shortly after (which caught a lot of people by surprise - it wasn't the way the case seemed to be going at all). Secondly, as has been explained repeatedly, the enormous budget everyone keeps talking about was simply the work of one or two people and was resoundingly dismissed by everyone else as completely ridiculous. The poor judgement of one or two people should not reflect on the organisation as a whole. I also think the choice of name for its chief exec is hardly a good reason to dismiss an organisation as worthless. --Tango (talk) 18:23, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I tried to choose my words carefully, Tango. Leadership, especially in a volunteer community like ours, stems from moral authority and trust building. IMHO, having a chair who is banned from the community's largest project -- even for one day following that banning -- undermined the potential for this organization to have any moral authority. And yes the proposed budget and title were smaller individual things. But taken together, all of these facts left me with neither confidence nor trust that this organization was on track to play a constructive role in the pursuit of our community's vision.
More broadly, I should say that I have enormous respect for many of the people who have worked on this. But, along the way, something about the chemistry between the people involved, or the impact of early decisions, went the wrong way and this particular effort turned out poorly. However, there are plenty of opportunities for people in our community to work on organiational issues. AffCom is looking for more members. And the Audit Committee will be looking for more members in a few months. Iberocoop seems like a really compelling model. Let's all turn our attention in a new direction, and have a fresh start. Stu (talk) 19:00, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I find it sad that your first (and seem to be like the major) problem with the WCA, related to one person. In this case, you should probably recommend the board to close WMUK also, as this person also have major role there as board member. I'm really not going to response on this this personal issue, as it been already wide discussed, and 20 chapters, who represent hundreds others - had decide that his previous personal issues on WP has less important from his skills and his professional ability for the associations. If hope this was only your concern, and not the whole board, what will really worry me. --Itzike (talk) 20:12, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Itzike, I appreciate your comment. It's not about an individual for me. Lots of different people have been involved, including amazing Wikimedians who are deeply committed to our mission. As I said above, somehow the combination of all the people involved, the particular point in time, the energy, just led to an outcome which IMHO wasn't heading in a constructive direction.Stu (talk) 21:06, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Factual comment: Fae has not been community-banned. Also, you forgot to mention that ArbCom is emanation of a single person. I would also like where your moral authority is supposed to come from. --Nemo 20:42, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
FWIW, my comment was "banned from the community's largest project". Stu (talk) 21:31, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I would not comment something that it's a "personal" comment, but I would have seen this comment when the WCA started to be implemented because there was an internal discussion about that. A comment like this at the moment is inappropriate in my opinion. --Ilario (talk) 21:50, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Stu, I appreciate that you don't have much confidence with the working of our wikis, which is entirely normal for inexperienced editors, but you may profit from reading w:en:WP:CBAN (I'm myself not that confident with en.wiki-specific stuff, we can learn together). Fae's block is not a community ban nor he is "banned from the community" if you prefer your own personal wording. Please refrain from spreading false and uninformed statements; it's not nice, from "moral authorities". --Nemo 10:11, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
By truncating it in this meaning-changing way, you are misquoting Stu's wording for the second time. And I fail to see what is wrong about what he said. Or do you disagree with the description of the English Wikipedia as 'the community's largest project"?
Those interested in the details of the case can read the Signpost's coverage ("Chapters Association mired in controversy over new chair", "Fæ was indefinitely banned from the English Wikipedia"). There are reasonable people who have disagreed with the ArbCom's decision, but let's try not to muddy the waters here about what actually happened. Regards, HaeB (talk) 13:44, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
The English Wikipedia is the largest Wikimedia project; Fae has not been banned from its community, nor by its community. He's indefinitely blocked because he's ArbCom-banned. The precise wording is «Fæ is indefinitely banned from the English Language Wikipedia. He may request reconsideration of the ban six months after the enactment of this remedy, and every six months thereafter». I know that Wikipedia terminology is confusing for many (in particular the difference between ban and block, community and project and between the various kinds of blocks and bans), but I reject your statement that I'm muddying the waters and I – again – encourage the use of strictly correct terminology. --Nemo 15:12, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Out of an abundance of respect for the precision of Wikipedia editors, and the potential for confusion, I have edited my statement to change "banned by" to "banned from." Stu (talk) 15:47, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Nobody has been confusing bans and blocks here, and you still have offered no valid justification for accusing Stu of "spreading false and uninformed statements", not even regarding the community vs. project terminology minutiae that your last comment is about: He had said that Fae was banned from/by a project, not from/by a community (now changed to read "from" everywhere, I assume to help avoid further misquotes). And there is nothing wrong with talking about the Wikimedia community as a whole, of which the English Wikipedia community is a part. Regards, HaeB (talk) 16:00, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Sorry for jumping in here, but I don't understand what you are talking about? The fact ist absolutely correct but the interpretation might be not (depends on your own view). Voting for Fae might be a sign that you disagree with a specific ArbComs decision. It doesn't mean automatically that you don't respect the english community or the movement as a whole. Kind regards, --Kellerkind (talk) 16:53, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Stu's comment was perfectly accurate. It's possible there is a language barrier issue in interpreting what he said, but he did not describe Fae's circumstance on en.wp incorrectly. We can disagree about whether that should factor into the impression of the WCA or not, but lets leave the unnecessary pendatism to the experts.Nathan T 16:38, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Response from Jan-Bart de Vreede (Vice Chair Wikimedia Board of Trustees)[edit]

I want to make an important point: I think it is great that players in the movement organize themselves. I think that the idea of a chapters council or association is a great one.

However I voted for this resolution because of several reasons, but will limit myself to two main points.

Lack of Organic growth

The normal trajectory within our movement is that individuals organize themselves, then form chapters (consisting of volunteers) and then sometimes start hiring staff (side note: I don’t think that every chapter/movement entity needs to hire staff or even form a “legal organization”… we owe it to ourselves to see what is best for each situation.). The WMF itself went through this cycle as well (and learned some painful lessons along the way, as we will continue to do.
The Chapters Association has spent a lot of time on their statute (in a lot of detail), office location and hiring proposal, but is trying to skip several steps. This troubles me in that I think that there is a reason why the “traditional Wikimedia model” works… we have seen a lot of initiatives fail, and its often due to not growing in a normal way.
The question I asked myself: What would have happened if the past year had been filled with several volunteers (or even one or two existing chapter staff members) from different chapters working on the activities that a chapters association would be doing? We would have probably learned a lot more which would have put the Chapters Association in a better place to eventually hire the right person for the job (if the lessons learned indicate that there should be a person hired at all).

Lacking focus?

I am troubled by the focus on things that seem (to me at least) less relevant than some of the important things that need to be resolved:

  • All we have to go on now is a proposed budget (which was rejected) and it gives some small indication of the priorities. But we really need a good indication of a budget before hiring starts (because it is kind of indicative of the kind of job someone who has to lead this has to do)
  • There is a charter and there are procedural documents. But where is a comprehensive program plan… what exactly are the priorities of this Association?, how do they see their place within the movement? Most of the discussion is focus on office location and hiring the first employee. I would imagine that the kind of candidates we are looking for will be people who will want to know these things before they apply?
  • I saw a rush to get chapters to join in Washington DC, but I am still seeing a lot of chapters that have concerns. I have no insight into the discussions that are taking place between all the different chapters, but I am missing an open online discussion on “why are we doing this, and how can we work together with all the movement players to get there?” (including the WMF). This talk page might be the closest we have to that in a while…

Finally

In general I am still really excited about chapters supporting each other and moving towards a higher level of inclusion, professionalism, and transparency but the Chapters Association does not seem to be moving towards any of those goals whilst its following its current path.


It is likely that I will meet with the chapter association volunteers at their meeting in London. I hope that we can find a better way to get this initiative moving to where it should be. But more importantly: lets have this discussion with all movement players here in public (because it requires all of our resources, not just the chapters)

Regards: Jan-Bart (talk) 18:33, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Comments[edit]
Thank you. Your criticism makes sense to me. It rather refers to structural deficits than personal animosity. Kind regards, --Kellerkind (talk) 19:19, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, Jan-Bart. Unfortunately, you have also made a simple error. You are only counting what the WCA has done since the decision was made to form a formal entity. If you do that, then of course you find that the WCA has started by formalising itself. In fact, the WCA started 5 years ago (ish - I can't remember the exact history) when the chapters mailing list was created and the first chapters meeting was held and chapters started working together in small, informal ways. That grew organically until the decision was made that the next logical step was a more formal organisation. As for lack of a plan, that is true, but is that really a problem? The WMF didn't have a plan when it was first incorporated - Jimmy just needed an entity to own the servers and domain name since it didn't make sense for Bomis to continue to do so. The WMF's role in the movement has developed organically since then. The WCA doesn't need to know exactly what it is going to do from the start. --Tango (talk) 19:37, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Tango, agreed that the role can grow organically, but shouldn't the budget and staffing follow that growth, rather than lead it? This is what 99% of the movement entities do? A certain amount of vagueness is to be expected... but this is too much. With regards to my "error", I have followed this discussion over the past years and know that this current version of the "Chapters Council" as it was discussed at that time did does not seem to embody the ideas that were part of the discussion. The lack of transparancy being only issue. Jan-Bart (talk) 02:19, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't clear enough. I'm not saying that discussion about the WCA has been going on for 5 years (although that is true). I'm saying that the work of the WCA has been going on for five years. The WCA has achieved a great deal in that time and has very clearly shown that it is a very valuable part of the movement. What's tripping you up, I think, is that it wasn't called the WCA then. It didn't have a name, it was just "the chapters working together". Only when it began to formalise did it need a name. One of the reasons for formalising it is so that it can have a budget and staff dedicated to it, so it is natural that that is one of the first things it is sorting out post-formalisation. If it wasn't going to sort out budget and staff, then it could have just carried on as an informal body. The other problem with your analogy is that a group of chapters is very different to a group of individual volunteers (which is how chapters start). Chapters are entities with staff (not all of them have staff yet, obviously, but a lot do now and others are rapidly moving in that direction). The WCA is supposed to support chapters. It wouldn't make sense for an entirely volunteer run entity to be supporting entities with staff - staff generally support volunteers, not the other way around. I'm also not sure what you mean by a lack of transparency - I'm not privy to any private discussions about the WCA, but I've had no difficulty keeping up with what has been happening because most of it has been happening here on meta. --Tango (talk) 12:27, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Dear Jan Bart, I agree with your concerns but I would point that you are not updated (may be because there were a lot of internal discussions not shared with WMF). The process started in Berlin was addressed in the wrong way and the Latin chapters together with the smaller chapters made an opposition in that way, because they had the same concerns of you. In the last months the priorities changed a lot and it was defined as first step the creation of the association of chapters after a long discussion against a group of chapters that had as priority the creation of a staff. The same organization of WCA is changing and the WCA is defining itself more like a "council" of chapters than a new organization. I would ask you (and naturally all member of the board) to receive more details about this item because the association is more or less finalized and probably it will be not the same organization defined in Berlin. This may avoid any lack of understanding and (may be) any conflictual discussion. Thank you. --Ilario (talk) 22:02, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Ilario that there has been some positive (and continuing) evolution of the concept along these less centralized lines, that should be taken into account as we conceive the ultimate future picture.--Pharos (talk) 22:18, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
If I am not updated on that it is not through lack of trying :( Where can I find the details of these developments? Jan-Bart (talk) 02:19, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
As a board member of Wikimedia Canada I am also struggling with the WCA. 1) I am not sure what the purpose is. What does this mean "promote coordination and accountability among the chapters, represent the chapters on common interests, facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience, and provide assistance and support in organizational development" I have worked on collaboration with other chapters but set it up by simply sending an email to those at the other chapter. Why is this intermediary needed? If chapters wish to work together than they can just work together. 2) Support only exists from 21/39 chapter which is only 54%. Within Wikimedia one typically needs greater support than this for a major change that uses common resources (usually it is 2/3rds). Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 06:51, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
1.1) As a board member of a young chapter, I can assure you there are many issues in which starting chapters would benefit from structured support. When you start one, you don't even know what questions you should ask, and you can't imagine what might become a problem if you're trying to please both the laws of your own country and U.S. (as is necessary for several cases). WCA could gather that kind of know-how and spread it systematically. We don't need to make the same mistakes over and over. 1.2) Several cooperation attempts have failed because you just can't get answers from some chapters. They might be busy, they might be asleep - whatever's the problem, they could also use some help. 1.3) Not all cooperation is bilateral. WCA can definitely help organizing all kinds of international efforts, so everyone doesn't have to gather their experience from zero. 2) Yes, some chapters have unanswered questions, but some are also worried about possible issues with their local legal environment and some are simply inactive. So, not everything is the fault of WCA. --Oop (talk) 08:28, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
But is not the point of meta to be a clearing house for all this kind of info? When we incorporated a thematic group we went to WM NY and more or less borrowed extensively from them to prevent having to reinvent the wheel. How is the WCA better than open discussion among others trying to achieve the same thing? We as volunteers can improve what we have for future groups who might attempt to go through the same thing without incurring all this overhead. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 08:35, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Hi, I think your voice was heard. Please stop to repeat your point at nearly every post. This is very unpolite. Kind regards, --Kellerkind (talk) 08:41, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Meta is not a very well-structured wiki. It can be quite confusing if you are just learning things. Also, I remind you that most of the chapters do not consist of English-speakers, so even quite simple legal and organizational issues handled here are hard for them. (And, frankly, most of these themes are described in pretty Anglo-centric ways both here and in English Wikipedia in general. It's inconsistent even with the continental European law, not to mention further places like South-Eastern Asia.) It's a little bit like saying "Hey, let's abolish U.N. and solve all problems on a wiki!" But please, we really shouldn't develop that discussion here. --Oop (talk) 08:55, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Sure where should we develop this conversation than? I agree meta is a little confusing and English centric and is something that could be improved. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 09:14, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Statement from Patricio Lorente[edit]

English[edit]

Dear friends: my name is Patricio Lorente and I'm also a Wikimedia Foundation Board Member.

As former President of Wikimedia Argentina I explicitly agreed with the first draft of the Wikimedia Chapters Association in occasion of the Paris meeting and, even before that, was one of the founding members of Iberocoop, the Ibero American chapters network.

I'm just recalling that background because I'm trully convinced that building cooperation frameworks between movement entities is needed to empower both individuals and organizations to reach the wider goals of our movement.

That said, I should add that I can't agree with the path that the proposed Wikimedia Chapters Association is following. I don't want to repeat things that have been said, to make it short: incorporating and hiring staff before making clear to the whole community at least a set of specific goals and a plan to reach those goals is quite opposed to the historical development of all other Wikimedia entities, including WMF itself, and of course the Chapters, which in all cases moved forward with actual activities before even having a budget (and before being recognized as Wikimedia Chapters).

Whereas in Berlin almost all of the present chapters signed an agreement expressing their will to create a WCA, I'm not so sure the diffuse organization now being called WCA is really what all of those signing chapters envisaged, nor do I feel that its current leadership had heard the different and diverse concerns that have been expressed during the last months about the path the WCA was taking -including the email sent by two Board members of the WMF than mentions Stu West above. I'm fear we could be creating extra and costly bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy, when instead IMHO it should be clear from the very beginning why and how would the WCA be helpful for the Wikimedia movement. I haven't yet seen clear and agreed responses to that questions, and I don't think that hiring a SG in this stance will be of help --by the way, Secretary General is a name which usually designates political coordinators rather than professional managers as it seems to be the case--, nor do I understand the obsession with formalizing a void structure. Patricio.lorente (talk) 19:31, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Español[edit]

Estimados amigos: mi nombre es Patricio Lorente y también formo parte del Board de la Fundación Wikimedia.

Como ex Presidente de Wikimedia Argentina estuve de acuerdo con la primer versión de la propuesta de la WCA en ocasión del Encuentro de París y, aún antes de ello, fui uno de los miembros fundadores de Iberocoop, la red de Capítulos Iberoamericanos.

Traigo esto a colación porque estoy absolutamente convencido de que construir instancias de cooperación entre entidades de nuestro movimiento es necesario para fortalecer tanto a los individuos como a las organizaciones en el esfuerzo de alcanzar las metas de nuestro movimiento.

Dicho esto, debo agregar que no puedo estar de acuerdo con el camino elegido por la propuesta WCA. No deseo repetir cosas ya dichas, para ser breve: formalizar una organización y contratar empleados antes de definir con claridad ante la comunidad al menos un conjunto de metas específicas y un plan para alcanzarlas es muy distinto al desarrollo histórico de todas las demás organizaciones de nuestro movimiento, incluyendo a la misma WMF y por supuesto a los Capítulos, que en todos los casos avanzaron con actividades reales aún antes de tener un presupuesto (y antes de ser reconocidos como Capítulos Wikimedia).

Si bien en Berlín prácticamente todos los Capítulos presentes firmaron un acuerdo expresando su voluntad de crear una WCA, no estoy muy seguro de que la organización difusa hoy llamada WCA es realmente lo que todos esos Capítulos signatarios planearon, y tampoco creo que el actual liderazgo haya prestado atención a las diferentes y diversas preocupaciones que se han expresado en los últimos meses acerca del camino que estaba tomando la WCA -entre ellos el email enviado por dos miembros del Board de la Fundación Wikimedia, mencionado por Stu West más arriba. Me preocupa que estemos creando más burocracia, particularmente costosa, sólo por el hecho de tener más burocracia, cuando en mi opinión debería ser perfectamente claro desde el inicio por qué y cómo la WCA puede ser útil al movimiento Wikimedia. No he visto aún respuestas claras y consensuadas a estas preguntas, y no creo que contratar un Secretario General en esta instancia podría ser de alguna ayuda --por otro lado, Secretario General es un nombre que por lo general designa coordinadores políticos antes que gerentes profesionales como parecería ser el caso--, y no entiendo tampoco la obsesión de formalizar una estructura vacía. Patricio.lorente (talk) 19:31, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Support A favor de que WCA sea capítulo. Dorieo (talk) 18:02, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Comments[edit]

I don't want to repeat things that have been said, to make it short: incorporating and hiring staff before making clear to the whole community at least a set of specific goals and a plan to reach those goals is quite opposed to the historical development of all other Wikimedia entities, including WMF itself, and of course the Chapters, which in all cases moved forward with actual activities before even having a budget (and before being recognized as Wikimedia Chapters).

oh ! Seriously ! The original goals of the WMF when it was created were not defined and there was no plan whatsoever. Unless you would call "a plan" just 1) transferring the 2-3 servers used at that time, the domain name wikipedia.org, wikipedia.com and a couple of others as well as the only unique trademark of that time and 2) opening a bank account so that bills could be paid from that bank account rather than by Bomis or Jimbo. I agree it moved forward, but it actually moved forward because Jimbo was alone making the decisions (so lucky). But a plan ? Uh.
The BIG BIG difference between the WCA and the WMF/chapters is that basically in all those second cases, the number of people involved to start with were limited in number making it much easier to move on. The WCA is terribly difficult to move because of the sheer number of people involved, all of which are from different cultures, different languages, different timezone... making it specifically ambitious to build upon. Anthere (talk) 21:50, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Dear Florence: running the Wikipedia servers sounds to me like a quite clear and very specific goal, and itself can justify the very existence of the WMF. Patricio.lorente (talk) 23:01, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
If by goals, you mean something so simple as "owning three servers", then the WCA charter defined a list of goals, one of it being "making it possible to speak to WMF in one unified voice rather than 40ish of them separately". Of course, it is much easier to "sell" to the community that an organization is going to "pay and own servers to run wikipedia" than "selling" them the fact that discussing with WMF is (very) difficult when there are 40 entities on one side and 130 staff members on the other side. The goals sought by WCA are not sexy. That does not mean it would not be useful. What you seem to be asking is that the WCA be able to be sexy, to elicit community support and enthusiasm for issues that are generally non sexy (discussion, audit, agreement, governance). This will not happen. The community will never be excited in WCA as it may be for WMF or any chapter. I do not think we will ever change that. Anthere (talk)

Alice Wiegand[edit]

English[edit]

I've followed the idea of a chapters association from its outset and I was and still am a great defender of the idea that chapters both help and support each other organizationally. In my opinion, criteria for monitoring mechanisms, accountability and preservation of integrity can only work properly if they are developed and jointly accepted by the chapters themselves.

So why did I nevertheless vote against the Chapters Association?

Since the Berlin Agreement in April 2012 9 months have passed, in which a lot of bureaucratic stuff happened but only very few things happened concerning programmatic issues. A lot of energy has been spent on the charter, the standing orders, the resolution on the place of incorporation, and the discussion concerning title for the first employee. The by now chosen place for incorporation demands new adjustments of the charter, which need to be discussed and resolved. But how to realize the still quite vaguely worded objectives has thereby taken the backseat.

21 of 39 chapters have joined the chapters Association so far. Of these roughly one third have joint the public discussions. I don't know whether the participation on the closed mailing list was greater.

Last October, I suggested to tell the Chapters Association that the Board of Trustees follows the progress with some concerns. Stu an I wrote an e-mail to the two chairs but unfortunately never received a response with regard to its content. I don't know if the e-mail was forwarded to the other members.

Therefor I asked myself the following questions:

1. Is it, respecting the spirit of our mission, the right thing to spend donations to set up an organizational structure including paid employees, when it is not for sure that this organization is supported by all or at least a significant part of the chapters?

2. Has this organization - or rather its members - the necessary experience and capacity to guarantee proper oversight and control of the Secretary General (SG) and to set up a competence frame for his work? How likely is it that this institutional framework might be designed by the SG himself?

3. Is it the right thing to legally incorporate an association and to hire employees, if there is neither a budget nor an annual plan of activities in place so far? Which parts of the Wikiversum benefit from this construct, who gains from it in fact?

I can't answer the first questions (respectively) with a "Yes" with a clear conscience. That's the main reason for my support of the Board's statement.

I plan to attend the Chapter Association's meeting at February 16th, because I think it is a matter of fairness to look for a direct and personal exchange with those who are affected. And I still hope, despite of the understandable disappointment and annoyance, to find a common ground for possible alternatives. Alice Wiegand (talk) 22:32, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

deutsch[edit]

Ich habe die Idee der Chapters Association von Beginn an verfolgt und ich war und bin ein großer Verfechter der Idee, dass Chapter sich untereinander helfen und organisatorisch unterstützen sollen. Kriterien für Kontrollmechanismen der Chapter, ihrer Methoden zur Rechenschaftslegung und Bewahrung ihrer Integrität können meiner Meinung nach nur dann funktionieren, wenn sie aus Ihnen selbst heraus entstehen und gesamtheitlich getragen werden. Also wäre ein solcher Dachverband grundsätzlich eine gute Idee.

Warum also habe ich mich dennoch gegen die Chapters Association ausgesprochen?

Seit der Gründungsvereinbarung im April 2012 sind neun Monate vergangen, in denen eine Menge passiert ist, was den bürokratischen Teil angeht und nur sehr wenig, was den inhaltlichen Teil angeht. Eine Menge Energie wurde in die Satzung, die Geschäftsordnung, den Beschluss über den geplanten Sitz der Organisation und die Diskussion über den Namen des ersten Mitarbeiters gesteckt. Der geplante Sitz der Organisation erfordert erneut Änderungen an der Satzung, die diskutiert und beschlossen werden müssen. Wie aber die Chapters Association die geplanten aber noch immer sehr vage formulierten Ziele umsetzen will, ist dabei ins Hintertreffen geraten.

21 von 39 Chaptern sind der Association bislang beigetreten, davon hat sich etwa ein Drittel an den öffentlichen Diskussionen beteiligt. Ich weiß nicht, ob die Beteiligung auf der geschlossenen Mailingliste der Chapter größer war.

Im Oktober habe ich angeregt, der Chapters Association mitzuteilen, dass das Kuratorium die Entwicklung mit Sorge betrachtet. Auf eine Mail von Stu und mir an die beiden Vorsitzenden haben wir leider nie eine Antwort erhalten, ich weiß nicht, ob sie an die übrigen Mitglieder weitergeleitet wurde.

Ich habe mir daher folgende Fragen gestellt:

1. Ist es im Sinne unserer Mission richtig, Spendengelder in den Aufbau einer Organisationsstruktur mit bezahlten Mitarbeitern zu investieren, wenn nicht sicher ist, dass diese Organisation von allen oder zumindest einem maßgeblichen Teil der Chapter getragen wird?

2. Hat diese Organisation bzw. ihre Mitglieder die notwendige Erfahrung und Kapazität, Aufsicht und Kontrolle des Secretary General sicherzustellen und ihm einen Kompetenzrahmen zu geben? Wie hoch ist die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass dies durch einen Secretary General selbst vorgegeben wird?

3. Ist es richtig, offiziell eine Gesellschaft zu gründen, Mitarbeiter einzustellen, wenn bislang weder ein Budget noch ein Jahresplan an Maßnahmen existieren? Welchen Teilen des Wikiversums kommt das Konstrukt zu Gute, wer profitiert tatsächlich?

Ich kann die jeweils ersten Fragen nicht guten Gewissens mit "Ja" beantworten. Das ist wesentlicher Grund für meine Zustimmung zum Statement des Kuratoriums.

Ich werde an dem Treffen der Chapters Association am 16. Februar teilnehmen, da ich es zum einen für richtig und notwendig erachte, den direkten persönlichen Austausch mit den Betroffenen zu suchen und weil ich trotz der nachvollziehbaren Enttäuschung und Verärgerung auf Seiten der Chapter hoffe, dass wir gemeinsam mögliche Alternativen erarbeiten können. Alice Wiegand (talk) 22:32, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Response with regard to email in October 2012[edit]

Hi Alice, I am puzzled by your comment "Last October I suggested to tell the Chapters Association, that the Board of Trustees follows the progress with some concerns. Stu an I wrote an e-mail to the two chairs but unfortunately never received a response."

Here is my email from the same day you emailed me (7 October 2012 11:26):

7 October 2012 12:10
subject:         Re: some thoughts about the WCA

Hi Alice and Stu,

I will review with Ziko and suggest that he considers replying on
behalf of the WCA rather than myself, as you appear to be making some
serious allegations about me personally in your email.

Could you clarify if you are writing to us as individuals or on behalf
of the Wikimedia Foundation? Could you also confirm if you are happy
for us to make your email public at our discretion?

Hopefully you understand the background of the English Wikipedia
Arbcom's ban [redacted]

Thanks,
Fae

You replied to that email at 13:10, my time.

Ziko then emailed you and Stu on 8 October 2012 19:45.

I then followed up with this email to you and Stu:

8 October 2012 23:00
Hi,

I thought you would like to know that by unplanned coincidence, I had
time separately with Asaf, Garfield and Sue this afternoon and though
we were mostly concerned and very busy with Wikimedia UK affairs, I
did take the opportunity to informally brief them with an explanation
of how funding and progress of recruiting a Secretary General was
planned to complete before the end of this year, and answered
questions they had about the WCA.

As suggested before, I think it more appropriate that Ziko respond on
this channel to your email inquiry.

Cheers,
Fae

In the light of this evidence, would you correct your statement please? Thanks -- (talk) 22:58, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

In the spirit of a fair assessment, I suggest your *highly* praiseworthy email just one week later, on 16 October 2012 12:08, "subject: OFFLIST Re: [Wikimedia-l] Info: 2013 WCA Chair elections" is now also made public. Do I have your permission to publish it? Thanks -- (talk) 23:07, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Fae, I'm not going to play the "You did this and I did that"-game with you. Publish what you think is necessary and remember that we never get a reply regarding the content of our mail. I changed the sentence above. Alice Wiegand (talk) 23:21, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your correction. -- (talk) 23:26, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

I am sure Ziko can decide how to summarize any separate correspondence you had with him, I have no idea if I was copied in on that full correspondence. Your email to me as suggested:

[ REDACTED based on an official warning from Theo in his role as an administrator on this wiki, on my user talk page as the release from Alice on this page appears insufficient in his view. The conversation resulting in this redaction can be found at User_talk:Fæ#Warning. I will be happy to "un-redact" this email if Alice can provide a release statement sufficient to satisfy Theo. Thanks -- (talk) 16:45, 7 February 2013 (UTC) ]

I feel certain that most readers here will understand why it seemed reasonable for me to assume that your concern from the week previous must have been sufficiently addressed by Ziko, after receiving this endorsement of my activities from yourself. I would normally have expected further inquiries in the months that followed, if this were not the case and you still had serious concerns. My apologies for not understanding your thoughts based on the correspondence I received. Thanks -- (talk) 23:35, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

I have absolutely zero concerns about the matter here, and I will point you to a long established policy. You are not allowed to post emails, especially private or those marked "OFFLIST" publicly, without the expressed permission from the sender. I have been party here to several blocks on similar matter, and as an admin, I should block and ask to oversight those, but since I might be considered relatively involved in the matter - I would ask you to either get alice's permission and remove the email. Theo10011 (talk) 00:58, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
See the discussion immediately above the quoted email... Fae asked ("Do I have your permission to publish it?"), and Alice permitted ("Publish what you think is necessary"). TheOverflow (talk) 04:20, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
I have also pointed out to Theo on my user talk page that Alice kindly gave permission to make public any of the original email correspondence at my discretion back on 7th October 2012, as an additional precaution I have only published two of my most relevant emails from the conversation. My request above was a courtesy for the later email and permission was given here. Should anyone find reason to require an OTRS ticket for the entire correspondence, I will happily put this on file. Thanks -- (talk) 09:13, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I saw the discussion above. That doesn't resemble anything that would qualify as someone's expressed permission - it read more along the lines "Do what you want. I'm not playing your game." - Which hardly qualifies as someone's permission to post a private correspondence, I at the same time, have no way to know that there weren't multiple emails on that day or something in your posting wasn't edited since there is no header. I also see you took the liberty to redact something in an earlier email, I have no way to judge your editorial control. So, as a general rule, we avoid posting any private correspondences and prefer to paraphrase and quote them instead. Second, this is Meta. I doubt there is any need to go through OTRS. I can point to you to several instances where I and other admins here have blocked users for doing what you did above, and then had the content oversighted (we're actually quite used to doing that one). We have even handed out similar warnings for posting content of private or semi-private mailing lists like Internal or a chapter's internal list. The policy is regardless of your case and standing. Third, the email in question is marked "OFFLIST" - that alone qualifies it as private and confidential - and not intended for public disclosure. There is an inherent expectation of privacy with private emails, this one is explicitly marked as not for public list. The only thing that I'm waiting on is Alice's response, though I doubt she will respond. But if she objects, you can take it up with other admins on your talk page. Theo10011 (talk) 16:28, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Indeed, I thought about leaving this paragraph as it is. I can't see the point of citing these mails and I really think that there are more important things to discuss than "who wrote what to whom" especially when only crumbs are published. After Fae talked about my "*highly* praiseworthy" mail, there wasn't a real chance not to let him publish it, was it? This description is too much an incentive for individual interpretations than the mail itself would ever be. And I don't care. What I still don't know is what these mails should proof. And that's why I'm not really interested in this discussion. I don't see any benefit for the questions which are essential now. Except of one detail: was our mail shared with the council members? If not and if people now wonder what it was about, perhaps it might be reasonable to be published here as well. Alice Wiegand (talk) 19:43, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

I would suggest publishing them on an email list rather than clogging up this page. The chapters list might be most relevant, but if you want your emails fully public then the Wikimedia list is available and they could be linked from here. You would need Stu and Ziko and anyone else involved to give permission, they may have reasons not to do so, as I am not sure I have all the correspondence, I can't do this for you. You have my permission to make my two emails public. Thanks -- (talk) 19:53, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Four-sides-model en.svg
Couldn't resist (Sorry) --Kellerkind (talk) 20:33, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Response from the Chapters Association Council Chairperson[edit]

The letter from the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees is a surprise to the Chapters Association Council members. It was created without formally approaching the Chair or the Council members, in the weeks before the planned board meeting for advance consultation, or to arrange a presentation by the Council members, in order properly to respond to trustee perceived issues.

I would like the Council to have the opportunity in our meeting on the 16th February to consider all options and views, so that we can continue our strategy that will deliver a Wikimedia community led initiative for best practice governance, and a well developed fully elected association that embodies a strong community voice. I invite trustees from the Foundation board to freely and openly express their individual and differing viewpoints in advance of that meeting, so that Council Members are clear on the issues and what would be necessary and sufficient to resolve them.

I would ask for timely and open engagement from all interested Foundation board members, should they have continuing concerns, rather than waiting for another board meeting.

I look forward to reaching a consensus with my fellow Council members on delivering our mission, during the coordination meeting on the weekend of 16th February.

Thank you. -- (talk) 14:52, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Reply from the Deputy Chair[edit]

Hello Kat,

Originally I wrote an inline comment about nearly every phrase of this WMF board statement concerning the WCA. But then, the statement was published before I could send the comment to you. Here a summary of my original text as reply.

In general, the WMF board statement raises more questions than it answers; it is uncomprehensible to me why such a bold and judgemental statement was found necessary, at this moment, and for what reason.

During the entire year 2012, we heard from the WMF (board and staff) many positive signals about the establishment of a Wikimedia Chapters Association. So I find it very strange to read that in the 'early stages' the WMF board was optimistic but now suddenly fails to 'envision' a positive development.

When I asked WMF vice director Erik Moeller on March 12th, 2012 about the name 'Wikimedia Chapters Association', he was perfectly okay with it. He even copied for me this sentence from a chapters agreement: 'The Chapter is obliged to utilize the Wikimedia logo and name in all their related activities and is hereby authorized to do so by the Foundation.'

All in a sudden, in late December 2012, a message from the WMF Legal Counsel Geoff Brigham admonished that the WCA has to follow the usual steps for recognition as a Wikimedia affiliate. - How came that during roughly nine months the WMF did not think about this? We were given the impression that this was rather a formality.

WCA Council Members did have many, many conversations with the WMF (board and staff), and chapter people. How can anyone say that there has not been enough 'consulting'?

Concerning movement resources – the WCA hasn't spend much money so far, and intends just to have one employee in the nearby future. Considering that the WMF has more than 140 employees, the WMF board statement's remark about movement resources for the WCA looks very disproportional. Our plan, encouraged by the FDC, that in future the WCA would request WMF grants or FDC funds, and at that point the WCA request would have been considered the same way as any other request.

It is true that the developments in the WCA are some months slower than everybody expected in July 2012 in Washington. But in comparison to the early years of the WMF itself, or of many chapters, or of many other organizations, the developments are not particularly slow. Just recently we sent out the Secretary General job offer (which can not have been a surprise to the WMF) and have the final discussions about the incorporation.

Please keep in mind that democratic processes take longer than deliberating within a small group. It was the will of more than 20 chapters representing several thousand Wikimedians to establish a Wikimedia Chapters Association, which of course still exists, even if the WMF withdraws the name 'Wikimedia'. Especially in the recent development, with a number of new movement entities, this is a strange, surprising and more than premature decision.

It would be in the interest of the whole movement to come to a trustful and cooperative relationship between the WMF and the chapters. The last months we have seen so many positive signals, such as the FDC Round 1. The WMF board statement concerning the WCA insinuates that it has to protect the movement and the trademarks from harm but leaves it unclear exactly how and why the WCA is harmful. Why this attitude of distrust regarding the WCA and the chapters, with no clear justification?

I, personally, have so often defended the WMF, I have assumed good faith where many others were suspicious. The WMF board statement makes now undue assumptions about an organization that is not even one year old. After such a statement, I honestly ask myself what should be my assumptions about the WMF board and its true intentions.

Yours sincerely,

Ziko van Dijk

Deputy Chairman of the WCA Council
Wikipedia editor since 2003
Ziko (talk) 16:31, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

I'm impressed, you are an editor since 2003. Great credentials. Fossa (talk) 20:01, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Fossa, your input is rather embarrasing indeed.--Aschmidt (talk) 20:42, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Embarrasing for whom? For the person, who thinks that being an "Wikipedia editor since 2003" adds significant additional legitimation to his opinions? Fossa (talk) 07:44, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Embarrasing for you, Fossa, who has been busy in an exclusively destructive way in Wikimedia matters for years. What we need is people thinking ahead, not the narrow-minded and unproductive kind you are representing in German Wikipedia.--Aschmidt (talk) 12:02, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Now, that's what I call a well-balanced judgment, which is empirically completely to the point and picks up my argument in a concise fashion. Fossa (talk) 06:56, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
I can write a long mail to response the board statement, but past shown me – it will be waste of time. Mean less time for my work, my chapter, and my personal life. Cause when the WMF and the Board deciding on something, this is last and final decision. They discussion is just for the record. So what It worth? But I can't avoid shares my disappointment from the board (sadly again) and ours elected community and chapters trustee…
Yes, we are not perfect. Along all the process I was personally disappointment from the him and have a lot of criticism about ours works. But from that to the last board statement – there is (very) long way.
Saying that, I know this is not easy to build something, when you work with so many people that all of them volunteers, only small part of them coming from chapters with staff support (and this staff is also very limit), when all of them have work place, chapters and board work, and now also associations to take care. I was the one who push to hire consultation company (like the foundation did many times with huge amount of money invest on that) to lead the process. My proposal was reject, and the council decided to save the money and lead it by them. Harder and slower process, but cheaper. So it seem like the WCA is not running to spend money.
Along the way, the WCA was a magic word. Sue even uses it to explain why the WMF is narrowing focus, giving others role to support the chapters. We need to remember that we saw increase of chapters and zero formal support from the WMF or the movement to handle them. Small chapters who don't even know with who to speak when they need something, who their point of contact in this "huge" organization called the WMF.
It seem like the foundation (and the board of course) moving very fast to professionalism, and the chapters are also looking to track it (and I hope I'm not a naive that the foundation support it) but they can't keep pace with the foundation. Thing that affect the chapters.
Let's face it - how much support to really establish the WCA the foundation gave until now?
Even the statement came from nowhere. Without asking the WCA to response, or to ask the chair or the council to give some brief to the board before or during the meeting, or to collect response from us, before reaching to such kind of statement. I even understood that some board member planned to participate in the WCA meeting that been planned to be hold on the 17th in London, why? For what?
What disappointment is the lack of constructive response. How the board think he could help and change? How he may ask the foundation the chapters to try find a way to change (and change is indeed need). Or if they going to lead a process to find other solution to support the chapters (as they say themselves is needed, according to approving Sue narrow focus recommendations). Real leadership is to help, not just to reject. --Itzike (talk) 21:23, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
If people are wanting to do this independently than why do you care if the WMF supports or recognizes you are not? This is supposed to be an independent organization no? Have just incorporated Wiki Project Med and it having been emphasized that we are not officially recognized and are not allowed to use the trade mark, name or logo. We have developed new ones. This is not going to stop us from moving forwards. If there are people who believe in this and can generate a critical mass than continue.
With respect to "Small chapters who don't even know with who to speak when they need something" they can just ask on meta or via mailing lists or on Wikipedia.
With respect to hiring consultants where is the money coming from? If the group is planning on paying for it from their own pocket or has found funding via other means. But if the funding was to come from the WMF that is another matter.
You state that the WCA "decided to save the money" does this mean the WCA already has a bunch of money?
We are a do-ocracy. Many of use are not looking for further leaders, we however do welcome further peers to join us and help use in building this amazing projects that are our reason d'etre. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 06:22, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Second reply[edit]

Hello, I allow myself to add another larger reply instead of answering 'atomically'.

WMF-(W)CA relations

It would have been the best if we had from the beginning a certain frame or standard procedure for the relations between Association and Foundation, to make sure what are the expectations, conditions etc. By the way, I don't know exactly how the AffCom works, whether it would put such a statement about a candidate-chapter on the talk page before discussing. But that has happened and cannot be changed now.

Chapters in general

I agree with several points of criticism, but must leave a note on the chapters in general. We all know that they are very different: some have many members, some rather few, some deal with a huge budged, others not. After Washington I have sent emails to many chapters asking them to join. Several did not answer at all, and others answered that they are busy with themselves at the moment and don't want to engage much internationally at the moment. I find that more than legitimate. But then, it should not be hold against the Association that not all chapters joined. This is a problem of the whole movement, and in my view the most important task of the Association always was the support of chapters. During that process, one get's a clearer image of standards and good practices.

English Wikipedia ArbCom

Without answering to all of the 'grandiose' remarks, I want to say something about Fae, the Chair of the Council. I don't know much about him in other spheres of (Wikimedia) life, but in the Council I experienced him as friendly and non confrontative. Only briefly after his election, I (and certainly most Council Members, our home Wikipedias are often not the English one) heard about the ban. It did not make me happy, of course, but I talked to British Wikimedians, and they did not want to appoint a different Council Member. Also, the other Council Members did not demand a replacement. After summer, I have been approached about the possible damage to the Association's image only once.

We need general considerations. I believe that the decisions of the English Wikipedia ArbCom are valid for English Wikipedia, but not for all language versions of Wikipedia, all Wikimedia projects, or all Wikimedia organizations. English Wikipedia is not the same as the international Wikimedia movement. So, if someone is banned by the ArbCom of English Wikipedia, or the administrators of Danish Wikisource, or the Community of Bosnian Wikiquote, he can still be an Admin in Spanish Wikibooks or a board member of WMXY.

Of course, things looked different if

  • the movement had an international ArbCom, and someone would be banned by it; and/or
  • the movement agreed officially on the policy that a ban in one Wikimedia project language version is valid for the whole movement; (in which case, I could not recommend to any board member to edit any project);
  • the person in question was sentenced by a local court for a serious offense.

We don't have such regulations right now (nulla poene sine lege), and his ban should be 'punishment' enough (ne bis in idem). Ziko (talk) 20:32, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

Why is AffCom not involved with this decision?[edit]

I have one fundamental question about the statement: why is this a WMF board statement, rather than an AffCom recommendation? There is no reference to the involvement of AffCom in the statement above, from which the only sensible conclusion is that they haven't been consulted, despite the decision being one that relates purely to movement organisation affiliation. I can't help but to see hypocrisy in Stu's praise for AffCom above, and to see this statement as yet another move by WMF to undermine the credibility of volunteer-led initiatives in the Wikimedia movement. Deryck C. 16:37, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

(edit conflicted) The AffCom has already been declared redundant when Geoff announced that it's no longer going to be the body managing early trademark authorisation and that the Legal department will no longer work with and in the AffCom but rather make its case to the board directly (as allowed by the secretary of the board having unlimited access to the board itself).[4] As I said earlier this morning, the AffCom should be disbanded for the benefit of clarity and transparency. --Nemo 16:48, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
@Nemo: That is incorrect. AffCom evaluates requests for recognition; WMF's counsel works with and advises them. WMF's legal team has always technically signed trademark agreements, following Board decisions [which almost always approve AffCom recs]. "Early" trademark authorisation before a group signs a trademark agreement comes from the language of WMF Board resolutions. SJ talk 
@Deryck: A good question. AffCom has been consulted about the WCA, and offered limited feedback, but haven't made a recommendation. They noted WCA is an umbrella organization, outside of their current scope, and different from other groups they have advised so far. AffCom scope should grow to include umbrella organizations. A detailed recommendation from them is the ideal next step. But that won't happen overnight: the committee is busy, and recruiting new members. Meanwhile, the job posting for the Secretary-General spurred a quick response. SJ talk  07:00, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
See my response to Nemo above where I gave my perspective on this question. Stu (talk) 19:05, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

A thanks to the Board[edit]

Dear Board, I don't give a rat's ass, how you came to this decision, but thank you for not funding another bureaucratic monster with no tangible objectives. Fossa (talk) 19:57, 5 February 2013 (UTC).

Agreed. Stu West's rationale for this action is compelling, and I don't see how the board had any other option. Nick-D (talk) 07:14, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Wikimedia CH statement[edit]

After carefully reading the WMF Board of Trustees letter and evaluating the first months of existence of the WCA, Wikimedia CH wants to make the following statement:

  • Wikimedia CH has been supporting the idea of a Chapters Council since its beginning. Our support is even stronger in these troubled times.
  • Since the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, a lot of work has been accomplished to make the WCA a successful and helpful organization for the Wikimedia Chapters and the whole movement. It has to be said though that along with this hard work some aspects have been lost, like what our real priorities are.
  • For almost a year, Wikimedia Chapters have worked to build a strong organization, trying to prevent all possible problems from an administrative point of view. We believe it was important to think about all the organizational problems the WCA would have to face in order to reach its goals but by doing this we first lost the enthusiasm of lots of chapter representatives and then the dynamics to actually create a helpful structure for the movement.

Considering this, we, Wikimedia CH, encourage the Wikimedia Chapters to go back to the blue print and develop the list of tasks and goals the WCA should achieve: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Tasks.

It is important to build an association where all chapters are equal, to start over designing an association without focusing on needed staff, focusing instead on the expected outcomes. We realize that in order for an international organization like the WCA to exist in the long term, we will need paid employees to do the routine work, and to prevent volunteer burnout. We feel that the necessity of staff will arise by activities. Let's cross that bridge when we come to it.

To assure the equality of all chapters, we believe in a system where the chairman or president is a coordinator, not a decision-making power. Only this way we will ensure every chapter stays engaged with the Chapters Association.

We also believe the first task of the Chapters Association should be to produce a manifesto which defines the goals of the Chapters Association and how we think we will carry out our duties. This manifesto should also respect the expectations of movement actors like the project communities and the WMF Board of Trustees. Their expectations are important and require actions from the chapters. We are ready to face them.

For WMCH, --Charles Andrès (WMCH) 09:56, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Charles, I agree with ensuring the majority of Chapter Association business moves to an outward focus rather than eating up our volunteer time looking inwards. I also find myself fully agreeing that the Association Chair, President or other functionaries, aside from a well defined scope covering minor operational issues, should not supersede the authority and responsibility of the Council Members to hold decision making power. I would see the issues of timeliness and engagement solved by empowering small committees who can report back on projects and solutions as briefed by the Council. As the current Chair, I have never seen my role as anything other than the level of coordinator as needed by Council members, and would not want to see this role become more directorial. Knowing our passionate community, I doubt such a system would survive.
I have taken your point about the Tasks page, and specifically added it to the agenda for Sunday. Thanks -- (talk) 17:32, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for this. I could not agree more with the focus on tasks and outcomes rather than structure, rules and regulations... jan-Bart

Budget[edit]

While this budget [5] has been rejected. Before I would feel comfortable weighting in further I would like to see how this organization is planning on funding itself? If its a group of volunteers with minimal cost it has my support otherwise I would need to see an excellent argument. Anyway back to what I get paid to do :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:33, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Per "Possibly the new FDC will support the WCA directly or indirectly."? What is the plan if the FDC / WMF does not agree to fund either directly or indirectly? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:57, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Consensus from the WM movement[edit]

If we are planning on creating a new major organization to represent the WM movement funded by the movement should we not have general consensus from the movement through a RfC? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:24, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Correction: this organization is aimed at representing the WM Chapters, not the WM movement. Secondly, I am very surprised that you are asking these questions _now_: you are the President of Wikimedia Canada, and should have been aware of the WCA discussions...Abbasjnr (talk) 15:13, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes but the chapters represent the movement and thus the movement generally should be asked to comment on a major decision like this. WMCA is neutral in this proposal.
Additionally it is the movement that creates the content which brings in the donations. If the money is coming from this pot should the community not be asked to comment? If the funding is coming from outside the movement than yes we need not ask them. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:17, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Indeed such a question is surprising from a chapter president: you should be aware that chapters are democratic organisations which democratically represent thousands of members, way more than the numbers any WMF board election or RfC ever had (except the re-licensing referendum some years ago). The consensus and representativeness of the Wikimedia movement is therefore apparent, unless you're accusing the chapters' boards and presidents (i.e. yourself?) of misrepresenting the will of their members. I don't remember the details for every chapter, but WMDE discussed the topic at their assembly and the CA council member for WMIT is elected by the assembly; if your chapter has internal democracy issues, please fix them. Cheers, Nemo 16:01, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Of course I subscribe the passages on democracy in the #Reply from the Deputy Chair, which perfectly reflect what I wrote here. --Nemo 16:48, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure James and you are talking about the same thing, actually. I might be wrong but he seems to be looking at how many people are actually involved in things. If you go with that: the chapter volunteer with the biggest democratic mandate I ever came across has been Ralf of WMDE with 243 votes (out of a membership of ~2400 (likely more; I don't have the actual membership size of the election day on hand) 257 voted on his position; 50+ WMDE members actually turn up on an annual assembly while others seem to hand in a reply-letter to the assembly files once a year. 218 votes by letter in Ralf's case named). That's, by the turn-out stick, less than the least popular successful ArbCom-candidate got in the last election on en.wp (271), significantly less than the number of folks bothering to vote on any candidate in the last WMF board election, and broadly in line with a modestly popular de.wp-community vote (fair to note that WMDE membership and de.wp's editing community partially overlap). Your argument seems to go in quite another direction - being based on the number of members in general, right? If so, the two of you are talking both about different concepts of representation and about different sets of people to be represented by whoever is supposed to represent them somehow (or not), best regards --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 17:34, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Of course I'm referring to members: that's what everyone does when speaking of an association, as it's the whole point of associating. Members are all represented because they have the possibility to change any decision they don't agree with: as you kindly note, reinforcing my argument, there's big space and ease to organise and amend any decision in the assembly, just with numbers. Compare the WMF where community members don't have any voice and not even a process to propose something to the board is in place. --Nemo 18:01, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
It is very strange to compare the number of all people with suffrage (right to vote) in the case of chapter members with the size of the much smaller subgroup actually exercising that right in the case of the editing community ("democratically represent thousands of members, way more than the numbers any WMF board election or RfC ever had"). A less biased comparison might either seek to also estimate how many editors are eligible to cast a vote in WMF board elections or RfCs, or compare the actual numbers of voters participating in chapter and WMF board elections. Regarding the latter, Jan said that 257 participated in what was probably the largest chapter board election to date. But in the the last WMF board election, around 3368 votes were cast. Do you happen to have corresponding numbers for WMIT board elections? Regards, HaeB (talk) 04:53, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I stand my point. WMF is not an association, it doesn't have members: members have an actual influence (and entitlement) on associations, which none of those voters has on the WMF; representativeness of associations is always measured by the number of members they have, in the real world, the WMF is only inventing its measures (as always: we're so special). As for WMIT, it has 450 members; the number of voters is not comparable to WMDE's because of a different voting system; as for WMDE elections (which allow remote voting but not online), as Jan noted above the number of wikimedians participating to them is comparable to the number in ArbCom vote, for which reason it would very weird, say, to claim that en.wiki ArbCom opinion should be more representative of the Wikimedia movement than the opinion of a single chapter. They're both small tiles of our big puzzle. --Nemo 10:06, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
The members of the board gave Iberocoop as example. Iberocoop is a group of chapters who created this "council" and they didn't ask any Rfc of the movement. So I see a paradox in the words of who says that the WCA should be a council of chapters but the same people ask to have a Rfc. As a council, growing like an association of chapters, no one should agree except them forming the association. In my opinion the Rfc is a no sense, it seems to me like asking to the sweethearts to look for the approval of their parents or of their kins to get married. --Ilario (talk) 23:01, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
For what it's worth, James is the only one to have made the suggestion of a movement-wide RfC - and he has not, that I can see, mentioned Iberocoop at all. Nathan T 23:10, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
I am referring to direct democracy rather than representative democracy. I think the former is preferable to the latter and is more in line with the Wikimedia philosophy. With respect to ability to propose stuff to the WMF, we managed to go to them with a majority opinion regarding Wikivoyage developed through a RfC here on meta and it was accepted. If people wish to look at this option with respect to the WCA I would see this as a possible way forwards. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 02:21, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Honestly who cares about Rfc except english speaker ? this process has nothing to do with movement opinion.--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 21:53, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Okay thanks for clarifying. So this organization specifically does not want input from the Wikimedia Movement generally? This is all fine just do not expect any funding or recognition from the WM movement. And if the WCA does not wish either one of this why are we even here? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:20, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
You haven't understood me, I mean the Rfc process has nothing to do with wikimedia movement opinion, it's just the expression of the english speaking community.--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 09:06, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

Community participation in the WCA discussions[edit]

Hi all. I've been reading the discussion on this page and as someone who's interested in the WCA just wanted to ask where all the WCA related-discussions have been happening for the past year? I looked at Special:PrefixIndex/Talk:Wikimedia Chapters Association but I wasn't sure if there was a central place where these discussions have been happening (this page hasn't been too active until today). Is there a public mailing list that I'm missing or something else? I've seen a few emails to Wikimedia-l but these have been announcements instead of invitations to participate in any discussion. Apologies if I'm missing something obvious, but I'd appreciate any links to discussion I've missed! Thehelpfulone 23:50, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

I am struggling to find out exactly what this organization plans to do and what it has done already. The main page simply states "supporting the work of the Wikimedia chapters". How? To accomplish what? How will we know if this "support" is working / advancing our goals? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 07:32, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
  • I believe there are two possible modes of relating to the community at large. One assumes that the chapters (and their boards/heads), as representing local communities, are legitimized to coordinate whatever cooperation they need without the need for a wide public discussion. This could make sense for instance if there was a feeling that such a public discussion could reveal parts of strategy that are considered to be sensitive and better kept contained. The other philosophy, typical for our movement so far, would assume that all decision making, ideas, coordination, planning etc. for the WCA should be made in open collaborative discussions with the community online. I believe that part of the ambiguous reception of the WCA's idea and development so far stems from the fact that the online representation of discussions has not been perfect, and even the discussions that did take place on meta (like the one about taxation, as I was told) are not neatly kept in one place to peruse and easily participate. All of the issues that have been mentioned on this page probably could have been discussed months ago. The choice of place to incorporate - if it was done after careful analysis by a professional consultant, what was the framework s/he was told to operate in? Who chose the key factors for the location (proximity of other foundations, taxation, presence in Schengen, EU membership, reaching across the borders?...)? Same goes for the budget, the strategic plan, the whole purpose of this body. I think that WCA may have lost a bit of cred just by distancing these decisions from the community at large. Pundit (talk) 11:59, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
There has been endless discussion of such points on the main chapters e-mail list and, I'm told, plenty more on the list restricted to the council. But I think it's becoming clear that not opening one or more dedicated wiki(s) much earlier, and moving most discussions to public areas there, has been a mistake. Not that many people would have been all that interested frankly. The "oversight" role, in which WMF is/was especially interested, would be offputting to most movement people with a vague interest - look how little community comment the FDC has had. When you get into areas such as discussing relations with WMF, and moving to recruiting staff, not everything is going to be public. Johnbod (talk) 17:28, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Absolutely, and I respect that (and, as noted above, I understand that some parts of strategic planning may need to be kept internal). Yet, I think the lack of community discussion has been a major mistake - not because it would involve many editors, but because most editors consider it a fundamental thing. Also, I think that not publishing and discussing a budget before beginning the hiring process was wrong, all in all. Moreover, given the first not accepted budget being the only available financial document, given the high salary numbers with taxes there, and given the symbolics of choosing one of the four most expensive cities in the world to incorporate (even if with no financial consequences), it all added to a bad start and bad image for this initiative, in my view. I am certain that WCA idea is well-meant, and one of the reasons for it is actually reducing red tape. But it just does not give this impression in all the info about it that goes out so far. Pundit (talk) 18:11, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
I hear that this idea is going to be discussed further in mid Feb which is good. Requests from those involved for those with concerns to stop bringing them up [6] is strange. The same questions are being brought up repeatedly because no one has answered them. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:50, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Johnbod, a follow up question with regards to the main chapters email list, who is allowed to subscribe to this? Chapter board members? WMF board members/staff? Any trusted volunteer that is interested? Thehelpfulone 21:58, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I probably knew the answer to that, but have forgotten. Maybe boards & staff of chapters, & otherwise if no one objects. Su Gardner was a member but cancelled some months ago. Can someone confirm the right answer? Johnbod (talk) 13:35, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
I believe https://www.wikimedia.ch/listinfo/chapters is supposed to have a public definition, could someone fix that page so we can use it as a permanent answer? Thanks -- (talk) 14:07, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, I did a bit of poking from when I transferred the GLAM list from that server to the Foundation servers. I think the list is located at <https://intern.wikimedia.ch/lists/listinfo/chapters>, but all I can gauge from that page is the list terse phrase, "Wikimedia Chapters general discussions". Thehelpfulone 14:14, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Hi Johnbod. Just a clarification that I think you're conflating two different lists. There's a closed (private) chapters mailing list, which AFAIK nobody from WMF can subscribe to. (I am not sure about Alice and Patricio: they may be grandfathered due to having been on chapter boards before joining the WMF Board, or they may have left the chapters list when they stepped down from their respective chapter boards.) Separately there is internal-l, another closed list which includes several hundred chapters people, WMF people, and others. I unsubscribed from internal-l a few months ago. When I was subscribed, I don't remember any substantial conversations there about the WCA --- I assume they've been happening on the chapters list. Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 23:08, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Just to back up Sue here, I checked (I'm still subscribed to internal-l) and there has been no discussion there about the WCA there. In fact there really hasn't been much at all there recently except for occasional cross posts from wikimedia-l etc. Jalexander (talk) 23:41, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Ok, refactored, sorry about that. Johnbod (talk) 05:27, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

doc james, wca should support chapters. imo this could be anything, just let me name:

  • program work: best practices - collect and redistribute whatever is important for the daily work. wmch e.g. does it on a very small scale with wmuk for contracts with glam's. or work together to avoid e.g. mounting thousands of qrcodes with movement resources pointing to a private url like qrwp.org (like wmca seems to do at quebec museums).
  • governance: peer reviews, a chapter searches for another one which reviews it, ideally different every year. instead of a couple of persons beeing the bottleneck every year at the foundation.
  • charity status: help a chapter to get charity status more quickly. it seems quite embarrassing that wmca does not have it close to 2 years after inception, while it should be easy to apply for e.g. advancement of education.
  • benchmarks: e.g. in movement income and spending per country
  • governance: make sure that chapters are well financed and not tempted to violate wikimedias no-ads rule for a couple of dollars (like wmca did with wlm 2012, that a wikipedia top level banner leads with two clicks to some foto shop in montreal)

james, there are benefits in working together, not only when voyaging, or medicating :) --ThurnerRupert (talk) 00:48, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

With respect to using movement resources to mount thousands of QR codes. I think the sum is actually $0 / zero dollars. No Wikipedia logo is on any of these plaques. The organization putting up the plaques is paying for the full cost. I think though that it does direct readers to Wikipedia. But am not directly involved in this so best to get others to comment.
With respect to charity status in Canada the average application takes 18 months. Our application is in. I highly doubt that the WCA could have any effect on the speed of the Canadian Revenue Agency.
With respect to violating Wikimedias "no-ads" rule we already have an organization that oversees this. It is called the WMF. Do not see any reason to duplicate this. If you have concerns that a WMCA project violated this would be happy to hear the argument.
So my issue is not that of working together. We are in fact all able to work together right now and many of us do. My only issue is the costs that some have proposed for this method of working together. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:36, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Actually, it appears that logo is on the plaques in at least Monmouth, Gibraltar and Prague. As to the use of resources, it appears at least one of the relevent agreements was never finalised, so it would appear uncertain. TheOverflow (talk) 03:19, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
I was referring to just the initiative in Canada that Theo has commented on above. Our initiative does not contain the logo on the plaques. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:24, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
I did??? You might be confusing me for Rupert. We're two different people. Theo10011 (talk) 03:49, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Hello Doc, you're right, we should burn every wikimedian that is not capable to do everything for free and find a pertner to cover all the cost, good luck for spreading the knowledge in Africa!
By the way, the cost question is now over, the WMF board buried this aspect and this is a good thing, now most of Chapters member active in the WCA are working on what has been lost along the process, ie focusing on the action, I hope that those participant will have your support.--Charles Andrès (WMCH) 09:12, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Actually am working on efforts in Africa. In fact we have raised a small amount of funds to help with it. We are working on concrete efforts to improve content and have found volunteers within Africa to lead some aspects. We are already generating high quality medical content under an open license, no paid first world staff needed.
My concern is not paying some of peoples expenses to work on worth while efforts. My concern is creating another organization with the supposed goal of "support" with no proposed tasks that seem to require any paid staff, let alone exceedingly well paid staff.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:39, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
James, this has become a great debating point, but a seriously untrue one. If you can find any Chapters Association approved document, or one that looks official, that in any way gives the impression that the Chapters Association Council ever had any intention of making the breathtakingly foolish mistake of squandering donated funds on "exceedingly well paid staff", then please provide me with a link and I will immediately act to make the status unambiguously "rejected" or "unapproved" or "bin-this-as-nonsense" in big bold red lettering. Thanks -- (talk) 11:13, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes Fae both the proposed budgets are "rejected". I am struggling with how they even become proposed in the first place though as IMO it shows a bit of a disconnect with where this organization is at (yes yes I know someone just comes along and proposes something but still).
Anyway there appears to be no funding source so this is all mute really. Maybe we as volunteers can return and try to accomplish the goals laid out for this organization as volunteers [7]. It does not appear that any of them requires funding or a physical office to carry out. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 11:27, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

I will be a little off-topic referring to a point made higher in the discussion, sorry. If anybody had any concern about the fact that an outside partner/sponsor had a logo on the WLM in Canada`s website, we would be more than happy to hear you, but I don't really understand this comment towards WMCA since even the international WLM's website has many sponsors [8] and that WMCA`s website isn`t host on any WMF`s server or anything. Anyway, this talk page is not the place to further discuss that, feel free to come talk to us on WMCA`s website/meta page or on our talk pages. Thanks, Amqui (talk) 18:43, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

The place of the discussion of the WCA[edit]

I would give here a more detailed information about the place of discussion of the WCA. This discussion is not happening mainly in the chapters mailing list. The chapters mailing list is used to send some information but not to host discussion about the WCA. These discussions are happening as private emails among the representatives of the chapters in the WCA. I know that this behavior may be un-trasparent but there were frequent invitations to discuss the future of the WCA publicly but also to involve as much people as possible. So I invite you to ask to the current WCA chapters representative to stop these discussions as private discussions and to do it in an open mailing list. Finally, to reply to Sue, Patricio and Alice are not subscribed to the chapters mailing list. As soon they were elected in the WMF's board, they asked to be unsubscribed. As mailing list's owner I can confirm it. I think to reply also to some emails which asked to define the point of the previous section. --Ilario (talk) 17:04, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for making this point. Apart from logistics or individual issues (i.e. individual chapters or persons), I'm happy to make a commitment to post anything of general public interest on meta or on one of the open email lists whenever I am acting as a Council Member. If any Council member sees me doing otherwise, give me a kick. Cheers -- (talk) 17:15, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
I think it would be great if there was a list that all interested parties could join - also, I found the recent Wikimedia Switzerland email really promising for the future of this idea. Pundit (talk) 20:03, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
If, say, committees got really busy, there might be a need for a list. At the moment I don't see sufficient traffic to justify another open list separate from Wikimedia-l, though if enough folks like the idea and we started clogging up the normal open lists, then I'm not against trying it. -- (talk) 20:29, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
Sure, makes sense - it just seemed to me that Wikimedia-l audience might not be entirely interested in all details of the project, but you're probably right that the current traffic is low enough. I think the main thing is to keep discussions as open as possible, whenever viable, is all. Pundit (talk) 21:24, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Fae, it would also be appreciated if you could ask other Council members to do the same. I'd suggest Wikimedia-L for now, and if the traffic does become too large then I'm happy to create a new open and public list on the Foundation's servers (I can create mailing lists). Thehelpfulone 00:26, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
mailing lists are awful, and inherently untransparent. Especially when there are so many people who contribute; Ilario says "discussion is not happening mainly in the chapters mailing list", but there has been a great deal of it there - sometimes up to 20 messages a day. It must be a nightmare if there is even more elsewhere. Do it on a wiki - I'd suggest opening a new one. Johnbod (talk) 05:37, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
I have always encouraged use of on-wiki discussion as the discussion can be laid out with some structure - one might not want to wade through 3 meters of text on-wiki, but it is still better than wading through 100+ unstructured emails. After our experience with the :outreach wiki being so mixed, and :chapters being hardly used, I would rather just stick to using :meta, we can continue to carve out our own space here, and, to be honest, :meta ain't so active that we would get lost. -- (talk) 08:32, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
Sure, you're very welcome to use Meta as it's better than outreach wiki in terms of users who come to it and features it has (such as the Translate extension etc.) and is not private with restricted access like chapters wiki. Thehelpfulone 10:54, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

Next steps from the February 2013 Chapters Association coordination weekend[edit]

Hi, as the Chapters Association Council Chair, I have just put this statement on Wikimedia-l and the chapters list. I am posting here for convenience and to encourage follow-on discussion on meta.

The WCA 'opening' for new entities[edit]

Hello, in Milan (and also earlier) we discussed about the 'opening' of the WCA for new entities, especially the thematic organizations. It was our impression that the Council members are quite unanimous about allowing thematic organizations under the same conditions as chapters (as the WMF requirements are more or less the same for both). Given the hard work to create a thematic organization, it is unlikely that an immense number of thematic organizations will come to exist. Possibly, we will have 5-10 within the next years.

The Wikimedia User Groups are a different kind of entity, with much simpler requirements. I guess that we will consider a different way with them. For example, all Wikimedia User Groups together could appoint one Council Member.

Besides an invitation to the thematic organizations to apply, the WCA Charter must be changed, and also the name. One can add "and thematic organizations" everywhere in the Charter where the chapters are mentioned, or refer to chapters and thematic organizations by the same expression, such as "Wikimedia organizations" (with an explanation at the beginning what that means).

The name of the Wikimedia Chapters Association could become Wikimedia Association with WA or WMA as the abbreviation. Other names can be discussed too, of course, such as Wikimedia Federation or International Wikimedia Organization. Ziko (talk) 21:46, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

The term "Wikimedia organisations" sounds good to me to substitute "chapters" in the charter. I like the idea of some generic term that is defined or explained at the beginning. Otherwise, we'll have to change bits all throughout the charter everytimg the Wikimedia movement addes new types of organisations. As to the question of renaming: I think if we rename, we'll need something more descriptive. Otherwise, there will be a lot of confusion. --Mglaser (talk) 09:15, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
A current list of thorgs and their status is maintained at Wikimedia Thematic Organizations. It would be a good idea to officially invite all planned thorgs to comment on their interest (or not) in having a seat on the WCAC and any expectations they might have. Though I know that Wikimedia LGBT (Greg and me) and Wiki Project Med (Daniel) have had members involved at Milan, I am uncertain about how aware the others are. -- (talk) 11:00, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

OK, 'Wikimedia Organizations.' Name of the whole thing? I think that 'Wikimedia Association' is fine. Maybe 'Association of the Wikimedia Organizations'? Ziko (talk) 22:13, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Proposal for a resolution:

The name of the association is changed to "Association of Wikimedia Organizations". Wikimedia organizations are defined as Wikimedia chapters and thematic organizations, as they are recognized by the WMF Affiliations Committee.
In the Charter, the term "Wikimedia Chapter" (or "Chapter") is changed to "Wikimedia Organization".
In the Preamble of the Charter, the last sentence
"we, the Wikimedia Chapters, hereby establish the Wikimedia Chapters Association and adopt the following Charter."
is changed to
"we, the Wikimedia Organizations, form the Association of Wikimedia Organizations."
Section F ("transitional provisions") is deleted from the Charter.

Ziko (talk) 17:54, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

Looks fine to me. --PierreSelim (talk) 22:30, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

List of Meta pages a chapter should keep up-to-date[edit]

I created a stub page of a list of pages on Meta a chapter (or WUG/thorg) may want to keep up-to-date, given it could be difficult to identify such pages. I think WCA could be interested in promoting such a list as a best practice, possibly with levels (e.g. this page must be kept up-to-date, this other should, this third may…). I detailed my thoughts on the talk page. This page can be moved to a more appropriate place if needed. ~ Seb35 [^_^] 16:29, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

Seems to be the same idea I had a few weeks ago with Chapters Portal. --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 17:04, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Great idea, which I had for WMNL earlier... :-) Certainly a good thing for the WCA Chapters Manual. Ziko (talk) 17:42, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Mercès. Dorieo (talk) 17:56, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
@Manuel: yes (and I pick up some item from this page). I have the feeling Chapters Portal is merely a portal intended for readers, but such a new page would be intended for maintainers to quickly and formally see what should be updated and when. ~ Seb35 [^_^] 18:32, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
ok, sounds good. Move it into main namespace and link it on the Chapters Portal ;-) --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 18:34, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
+1 It sounds a very good idea to me too, thank you Seb35. --PierreSelim (talk) 22:31, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Moved and linked on Chapters Portal. Please move the link if there is another better-suited page (I find there are already many (too much?) links on this page, perhaps some design could facilitate navigation). And be bold at adding or removing items on the list, probably some pages are missing and some pages don’t worth being on the list (or some prioritization could be indicated). ~ Seb35 [^_^] 08:51, 10 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks a lot, your page is really helpful! I agree with the design, it is not my competence, unfortunately. Maybe we could even try to merge some of the linked pages... --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 09:26, 10 May 2013 (UTC)