Interorganizational relations among chapters

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki

Nature of this page[edit]

This is a refactoring of a discussion on IRC #wikimedia happened a few days ago (June 2004).

Participants were Anthere and Tomos, later joined by Burgundavia and JeLuF.

Scope of issues discussed[edit]

Here are the list of issues discussed. They are all inter-related.

  • How a member should pay membership fee(s).
  • How the prices for membership fees should be set.
  • How funds should be transferred internationally.
  • Who should be able to join a given chapter, and who should not be.
  • If it is okay for a person to pay WMF membership fee to one chapter, without becoming a member of the chapter.
  • How the voting rights for the Board election of Wikimedia Foundation should be given.
  • How the chapters shoud relate to the Board.
  • How the chapters should be defined. (by language/ by geography)
  • What the goals of the chapters should be, and what they should not be.

Some background information[edit]

  • Fr. association is defined by geography - it is a French association, but its members are not limited to French citizens or people living in France and its territories.
  • Fr. association sets its own membership fee.
  • Fr. association is legally located in France. And according to the French law, it cannot transfer more than 40% of its fund to foreign country. (The definition of fund is not discussed in detail. It could mean revenue, or a subset of revenue, or something else.)
  • Currently, the fr. association has discussed expences related to the following
    • purchase domain name (,, etc, available only to French organizations)
    • print and sell T-shirts.
    • administrative costs.
    • publish wikireaders


Which of the following options are better?

  1. Regarding payment arrangement
    • Allow any people to pay locally, and then the local organization transfers the money to WMF, and then the WMF distributes money to other organizations if necessary.
    • Allow only members of a local organization to pay WMF membership fee to the local organization, and non-members of the local organization should pay directly to WMF.
  2. Regarding fee structure (1)
    • Charge extra amount if a person wants to be a member of both WMF and another organization.
    • Charge no extra fee to become members of the two organizations. If a person is a member of a local chapter, then she is also a memer of WMF with no extra fee. She can vote as a contributing active member.
    • Charge extra amount only if there is extra benefit of the membership - if a local chapter does not do anything for its members other than what WMF does through the local chapter, then there is no extra charge. If a local chapter has its own goals added to the goals of the WMF, then people who want to agree with those goals can financially support the fr. assoc.
  3. Regarding the fee structure (2)
    • People from different countries pay different amounts even for the same membership.
    • People paying locally for multiple foreign organizations may have to pay extra transaction costs.
  4. Regarding fund transfer
    • Local organizations make transactions only with the WMF. WMF will work as a distribution center.
    • Local organizations accept membership fees for all other organizations. Those fees will be transfered to the appropriate organizations. People paying locally for foreign organizations may have to pay extra transaction fee.
    • Local organizations accept its own membership fees and WMF membership fees.
  5. Scope of membership
    • There can be multilingual local associations and monolingual global associations.
    • Some can be mono-lingual and local association - English-speaking Californian chapter and Spanish-speaking Californian chapter, for example.
    • All chapters should be defined geographically and they should be multilingual.
    • A person can be a member of any number of organizations. He should pay for only one organization, WMF. Other membership should be free of charge and open to anybody who wants to join.
    • A person can be a member of any number of organizations. He should pay more money to become members of many organizations.
    • A person can be a member of one chapter and WMF, no more.
  6. Relations between chapters and the WMF Board
    • Voting rights for chapters and for the Board election are different. They require different memberships and fees.
    • Chapters can decide to purchase some memberships from the WMF and act as members.
    • All members of any chapter should be granted the WMF membership.
    • Chapters should be able to elect a representative to the WMF Board.
  7. Goals of the chapters
    • Chapters should pursue strictly the same set of goals as WMF.
    • Chapters can have overlapping but different goals as WMF's. For example, a local chapter in Berlin may be created to have weekly get togther and befriending as one of its main goals.


Here are concerns raised in the discussions.


If a person has to pay more money to be a member of WMF and his local chapter, then he might give up the WMF membership. It means the international participation to WMF govenance will be limited.

Administrative headache

Pricing scheme, fund transfer, membership structure can cause great complications regarding interorganizational relations. Imagine, for example, a franchophone French citizen living in Japan wants to join francophone association, French local association, and Wikimedia Foundation. He wants to pay everything at once to Japanese local association, but does not want to become a member of Japanese association for some reason. How much should he pay? Japanese local association has to transfer his payments into three different organizations. The fees are different depending on which organization a member joins, which country a member lives, and how much transaction fees are needed to transfer the payment to all those organizations, and if there are any discounts available by joining multiple organizations.

Desirable weight of American users

The Americans is the largest group of users so far. How important should their voices be? This was more of a question, and no agreement was reached.

Meaning of localized funds

What is the point of having membership fees in many different countries if the servers are all in the U.S.? Is there any project that deserves expense?