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Affiliations Committee/RFCs/Wikimedia user groups approval process and agreements - Spring 2015/FAQ

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The following discussion is closed per the RFC's timeline. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 18:01, 2 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]

These are answers to frequently asked questions about the Affiliations Committee's Spring 2015 request for comments on Wikimedia user groups approval process and agreements. Please see the main request for comments page for more information, and make any comments on the designated talk page.

Why make these changes now?

The Affiliations Committee has been reviewing the Wikimedia user groups approval process since they were first introduced. The committee has made a few overhauls during that time, but felt they had collected enough information to propose a major overhaul. During previous modifications, the committee had solicited input from interested members of the community. Given the magnitude of these changes, and the committee's desire to shift focus away from its multi-year effort on this process, the committee felt it was appropriate to seek broader input. Additionally, the committee is committed to the effort to increase dialogue between the community and Wikimedia Foundation entities.

How does this impact existing Wikimedia user groups?

Like any changes to the Wikimedia user groups agreement, existing user groups will be provided with notice once the committee and Foundation adopts the new agreement. After the 30-day notification period concludes, if there are no requests from any user groups to end their agreement, the new agreement will go into effect with all groups that have been notified. The committee has requested that all existing user groups be notified of these changes, once they are fully adopted.

What happens after this is adopted?

Wikimedia user groups which have been recently approved by the committee will be provided with the agreement and code of conduct to formally accept and finalize their recognition as a new Wikimedia user group. Previously approved user groups will receive notice of the changes, and the new agreement and code of conduct will go into effect with those groups at the end of the 30-day notification period. Within a few weeks, the new process will be available to all new Wikimedia user groups seeking recognition. In approximately six months, the committee will seek community input on how the effectiveness of these changes.

Will the community have an opportunity to provide input on this topic again?

Yes, the Affiliations Committee is committed to getting your input on this topic. You are welcome to contact us at any time. Additionally, the committee will post an additional request for comments in approximately six months to get your input on how these changes are going, and if they are helping to make things easier and faster for new Wikimedia user groups.

Why is the committee seeking community input? Do these changes require community consensus?

The Affiliations Committee is committed to the effort to increase dialogue between the community and Wikimedia Foundation entities. The committee maintains open dialogue with the community at all times, and these changes have been made largely based on that dialogue. However, the committee recognizes that there are interested members of the community the committee may not have heard from, and agree it is important to hear from as many members of the community as possible before adopting changes of this magnitude. While the committee is not required to obtain community consensus prior to making decisions, it has allotted time during its upcoming two-day annual meeting during the Wikimedia Conference 2015 to discuss the input from the community, make final modifications to these changes, and then make a final decision on if and how these changes should proceed.

Who was involved in preparing these changes so far?

Over the past few years, the Affiliations Committee has received input on the approval process from several groups that had gone through the process, members of other affiliates aware of the process, and members of the broader community interested in affiliate related activities. The committee also has two liaisons from the [[Special:MyLanguage/WIkimedia Foundation Board of Trustees</>|WIkimedia Foundation Board of Trustees]], and a few liaisons from the Wikimedia Foundation staff. These liaisons have also provided feedback on this topic over time, and passed along input from the community that they had received. Additionally, the committee has met with other members of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees and staff, including the Executive Director, to discuss this topic. In January 2015, the committee met with members of the board and staff to discuss the future direction and work of the committee. The changes now being proposed were discussed and developed largely during that meeting. The Wikimedia Foundation Legal department worked with the committee on developing the new agreements and code of conduct, based on the discussions from the January 2015 meeting. Finally, the committee sought input from the Wikimedia Foundation Community Advocacy department on this RFC process and will be reviewing any additional input from them prior to their upcoming annual meeting as well.

Are proposed or developing Wikimedia user groups able to engage in activities prior to approval?

Yes! It has always been the case that Wikimedia user groups, either in initial development or actively seeking recognition, are able and encouraged to engage in activities and projects. They may request individual usage of the Wikimedia trademarks in the same manner as others in the community until they are officially recognized.

Is this the only thing the Affiliations Committee is considering to help new Wikimedia User Groups?

No, the committee is engaging in conversations with members of the community, the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees and staff on ways to increase support and benefits for all existing and future affiliates. Our interest in making these changes, and doing so with so much community input, is to shift some focus away from the topic of the approval process for Wikimedia user groups to the topics of promoting the affiliate model, increasing support for affiliates, and making the Wikimedia user groups model more beneficial and able to support a wide range of activities around the world.

What happens if a Wikimedia user group violates the agreement or code of conduct?

The committee is working with Wikimedia Foundation to finalize a process for assisting and responding to affiliates which violate their agreements with the Wikimedia Foundation, including the new code of conduct for Wikimedia user groups.

Do these changes just apply to Wikimedia user groups - or chapters and thematic organizations as well?

At this time, the Affiliations Committee is focused on the approval process for the Wikimedia user groups. In part that is because the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees put in place something of a delay for all new chapter and thematic organization applications, and in part because it is by far the fastest growing group of affiliates. The committee will soon be reviewing the approval process to chapters and thematic organizations, as well as preparing to introduce the movement partners model. The committee will discuss at that time what similar changes, if any, to make to those affiliate models. At this time, the proposed changes will not have any impact on other affiliation models. However, the committee would be interested in hearing from the community on if similar, or the same, code of conduct should be developed for other affiliate models. It is unlikely that the approval process for chapters and thematic organizations will change much, if any, given that the Board of Trustees retains final approval for those entities, and there is intentionally much more information needed to make recommendations to the board and provide them with the necessary information to help them make an informed decision. The committee will seek input at a later date on the approval process for movement partners.