Amical Wikimedia/Mail12

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from	Joan Goma <jrgoma@gmail.com>
to	chaptercommittee-l@lists.wikimedia.org
date	Fri, May 21, 2010 at 10:43 PM
subject	For freedom of association and its recognition by the Chapcom


Dear Chapters Comitee members.

On 20/08/2009, we requested the Chapters Committee to study our by-laws and advise the Board to approve our Chapter.

On 17/04/2010 we were informally told that the Committee had chosen not to recommend approval.

On 20/04/2010 we asked to be notified officially of the decision and the reasons therefor.

We are still waiting for an answer.

We hereby wish to show our deep disappointment about the way the Chapters Committee is dealing with us.

Our proposal has been on Meta for over 15 months, during which nobody has opposed it. It currently has the support of 150 people and this number is steadily increasing. We have been working to promote the projects for almost two years and we have received nothing but praise for our work.

We have only been notified informally of the reasons, which do not seem to hold water: that chapters must work within a country, precisely when Wikimedia Germany has just signed a cooperation agreement with the Carlos III University of Madrid, or when there is a NY Chapter. That chapters must be based in a jurisdiction/country, when we have stated clearly that we will base ours in Andorra, and that Spanish, French and Italian law lays no obstacles to our incorporation as a chapter.

Honestly, we can understand that at the beginning special attention was paid to big projects and country organisations, but no barriers should be raised on the world wide web, and no obstacles should be laid to organisations with strong grassroots support which have projects which do not feel represented, or even welcome, in this initial structure.

On the other hand, the lack of transparency with which the Chapters Committee is dealing with this affair seems at odds with Wikimedian culture. It has been impossible to get them to communicate with us and to access any sort of open and transparent debate whatsoever.

At the beginning, our wish to be recognised as a Chapter was essentially to make it easier for us to promote projects, by allowing us to identify ourselves as members of the Wikimedian community. But is becoming increasingly clear that being a chapter provides ever more necessary tools to promote the projects: the possibility of accessing information on the internal wiki, to submit projects to receive Foundation funding, to present candidates to the Board and participate in the election process, to attend yearly chapter meetings and to access shared experiences, and to be taken into account by other chapters, thus facilitating joint transactional projects with them.

Our projects have a small speaker base compared with other languages, yet the Catalan-speaking community covers close to 10 million people, which clearly cannot be ignored. When nobody thought it was feasible to create a free and collaborative online encyclopedia, our community was among the first participants, with the Catalan Wikipedia being the first to have articles in a language other than English. In order to build upon the great work done until now, we need grassroots promotion, which a chapter can do better than any other group. The Chapters Committee's inaction has a very detrimental effect upon this project, causing days, weeks, months and years to go by without the energy and enthusiasm we have to promote this project being able to use the tools granted by becoming a recognised chapter.

When we submitted our application, the first requirement you set was to ask Wikimedia France and Wikimedia Italy for their opinions. Neither has opposed to us acting on their respective territories, rather they have expressed their clear and sincere wish to cooperate.

In parallel with our application to become a chapter, a group of users from the Spanish-language projects revived their application to become the Wikimedia Spain chapter. Here, the Chapters Committee's attitude and actions towards our application became completely incoherent: you have not asked the opinion of those proposing the Wikimedia CAT chapter, despite the fact that Wikimedia Spain wants to be present in part on the territory where Wikimedia CAT Wikimedians are actively working. We are extremely disappointed by the double standard you have used in dealing with us.

We accept that this group of users are recognised as an official Wikimedia Foundation chapter in the guise of Wikimedia Spain, as long as this does not affect our application to become a chapter. Some members are active in both candidacies and we believe that both chapters are fully compatible. Wikimedia CAT deems all languages and cultures to be a family, a part of one only mankind, but our goals can only be reached through freedom of association and action to cover territories, institutions and organisations within the Catalan-speaking world which otherwise would never be seen to properly. Therefore, we are open to any type of co-operation within the overall Wikimedia framework, but maintaining our associational independence from other Chapters.

We demand from the Chapters Committee that, prior to making any decision on Wikimedia Spain, it states clearly that Wikimedia CAT will also be accepted, or that the creation of Wikimedia Spain will not pre-empt Wikimedia CAT. In the latter case, we will ask the project Wikimedian community to express itself openly. We believe that this would be a low blow against the core Wikipedian tenet, laissez-faire, and a state imposition to free structures of the international Wikipedian movement which we represent within the Catalan-speaking community.

Sirs, the Chapters Committee must become aware of the grievances its actions are creating:

We hereby ask you to once and for all openly put forth your arguments for and against our application, so that we may put forth ours. We want to know why over 150 active Wikimedians are rejected from the Wikimedian movement, why the Chapter Committee should not accept a legally incorporated Wikimedian association, thus hindering freedom of association, why if the Chapter committee refuses to organise within itself over 150 Wikipedians in defence of states, then we do not have a problem, the entire Wikipedianism has a problem, having forgotten its foundational tenets and acting “violently” against a Wikimedian group. We want all of this to be submitted to the Board so that it can approve our application to become a chapter. For as long as they do this, they will be promoting discrimination of Catalan-language Wikipedian projects which is completely out of place in an international, open, plural and collaborative organisation.

Yours sincerely

Joan Ramon Gomà i Ayats

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_CAT