Wikimedia movement affiliates/FAQ

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This page includes answers to frequently asked questions about activities related to Wikimedia movement affiliates - including affiliate recognition, requirements, expectations, operations, and programs.

Contents

General questions[edit]

What is the point of having affiliates?[edit]

Wikimedia movement affiliates exist to further the goals of Wikimedia. Depending on their affiliation model, they do so by engaging in a wide range of activities, which includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Promoting the Wikimedia projects so that new and different people join them or use them (academics, scientists, college students, schools, libraries etc.).
  • Investigating and negotiating partnerships on a moral or financial basis to support the Wikimedia projects.
  • Helping outside organizations use Wikimedia content, possibly for their own benefit (eg. help publishers of local history Wikireaders, of a Wikipedia DVD in a given language)
  • Organizing local and national events and initiatives (eg. participate in trade shows, set up Wikipedia parties, give lectures etc.).
  • Taking care of public relations and public policy lobbying in a given country or topical area, and give the press an interlocutor in their own language and culture.
  • Enabling (where applicable) tax-deductible donations in the country they are based in.
  • Promoting Free Content and wiki culture in their respective scope.

Which affiliates exist?[edit]

See the most up to date list of existing affiliates.

What are the differences between the Wikimedia movement affiliate models?[edit]

The differences between the models are designed to support the unique needs of different types of affiliates. Benefits provided to specific models are meant to support the unique expectations from the community of that model.

The chapters model was designed for groups of engaged Wikimedians
  • Focused on a specific geographic area
  • Producing a large number of offline and online activities
  • Monitoring and engaging in public relations or public policy on behalf of the Wikimedia movement in their focus geographic area
  • Potentially requiring regular annual funding to support a staffed office
  • With the capacity to manage increased community expectations as well as activity and reporting requirements
The thematic organization model was designed for groups of engaged Wikimedians
  • Focused on a specific thematic area
  • Producing a large number of offline and online activities
  • Monitoring and engaging in public relations or public policy on behalf of the Wikimedia movement in their focus area
  • Potentially requiring regular annual funding to support a staffed office
  • With the capacity to manage increased community expectations as well as activity and reporting requirements
The user model was designed for groups of engaged Wikimedians
  • Focused on any general thematic or geographic area
  • Producing any number of offline or online activities
  • Interested in a more lightweight model

Is there a hierarchy among the affiliate models?[edit]

No. Affiliates are able to move between the models, and are required to cooperatively work with each other to achieve the goals of the Wikimedia movement. Benefits provided to specific models are meant to support the unique expectations from the community of that model, and not elevate them above other affiliates. The Wikimedia affiliations model is meant to provide options to support groups, and not meant to be a continuum.

Chapter related questions[edit]

What are Wikimedia chapters?[edit]

Wikimedia chapters are independent organizations founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects within a specified geographical region of either national or subnational size. Like the Wikimedia Foundation, they aim to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally".

The chapters model was designed for groups of engaged Wikimedians
  • Focused on a specific geographic area
  • Producing a large number of offline and online activities
  • Monitoring and engaging in public relations or public policy on behalf of the Wikimedia movement in their focus geographic area
  • Potentially requiring regular annual funding to support a staffed office
  • With the capacity to manage increased community expectations as well as activity and reporting requirements

Are chapters based on language or geography?[edit]

Chapters are based on geography, though this does not exclude people outside of a particular area from joining a chapter of their choice, depending on their language and affinity. In countries where there are several official languages, the local chapter should not be based on only one language, but include interested people from the different official languages.

Can chapters share geographic areas?[edit]

Generally, no. Geographic scope is unique to each chapter. However, user groups can share geographic areas with chapters. Affiliates are encouraged to avoid duplicate work and expected to work together.

Thematic organization related questions[edit]

What are Wikimedia thematic organizations?[edit]

Wikimedia thematic organizations are independent non-profit organizations founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects within a specified focal area. Like the Wikimedia Foundation, they aim to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally". Thematic organizations use a name clearly linking them to Wikimedia and are granted use of Wikimedia trademarks for their work, publicity and fundraising.

The thematic organization model was designed for groups of engaged Wikimedians
  • Focused on a specific thematic area
  • Producing a large number of offline and online activities
  • Monitoring and engaging in public relations or public policy on behalf of the Wikimedia movement in their focus area
  • Potentially requiring regular annual funding to support a staffed office
  • With the capacity to manage increased community expectations as well as activity and reporting requirements

Are thematic organizations based on language or topics?[edit]

Thematic organizations can be based on a variety of topics - including language, multi-national regions, or content topics.

Can thematic organizations share thematic areas?[edit]

Generally, no. Specific thematic scope is unique to each thematic organization. It is possible that multiple thematic organizations may be focusing on specific thematic scope within the same broader topic. However, user groups can share thematic areas with thematic organizations. Affiliates are encouraged to avoid duplicate work and expected to work together.

User group related questions[edit]

What are Wikimedia user groups?[edit]

Wikimedia user groups are intended to be simple and flexible affiliates that are an alternative to chapters and thematic organizations - which require more formal requirements. User groups are highly valued as equal players in the Wikimedia movement. They are meant to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

The user model was designed for groups of engaged Wikimedians
  • Focused on any general thematic or geographic area
  • Producing any number of offline or online activities
  • Interested in a more lightweight model

What are user groups focused on?[edit]

Wikimedia user groups can any focus related to supporting the work of Wikimedia. That includes geographic and thematic focuses. User groups can exist within the focus areas of thematic organizations and chapters. However, affiliates are encouraged to avoid duplicate work and expected to work together.

Can user groups share focus areas with chapters or thematic organizations?[edit]

Yes. User groups can share geographic areas with chapters and thematic focus with thematic organizations. However, affiliates are encouraged to avoid duplicate work and expected to work together.

Can user groups apply for grants?[edit]

Yes. Wikimedia user groups are eligible to apply for Project & Event Grants, Individual Engagement Grants, and Travel & Participation Support grants. Only Annual Plan Grants are intended only for thematic organizations or chapters.

Affiliate-Wikimedia Foundation relationship questions[edit]

Who co-ordinates matters between affiliates and the Foundation?[edit]

The Affiliations Committee is the primary contact point between affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation.

They can be a first point of contact for all affiliate-related matters, including but not limited to submitting bylaws for approval, requesting guidance on a problem, or feedback on a potential activity. Either the committee will provide an answer, or help connect you with the appropriate contact person within Wikimedia.

Do affiliates legally represent the Foundation?[edit]

No, the affiliates do not represent the Wikimedia Foundation legally. They are separate and independent entities, only liable for the work they accomplish in their jurisdiction.

Various agreements might be signed between each affiliate and the Wikimedia Foundation, for example to allow them use of the name and logos, but affiliates do not represent the Wikimedia Foundation, no more than the Wikimedia Foundation represents any given affiliate.

How does fundraising work with affiliates and Foundation?[edit]

As separate entities, the Wikimedia affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation need to respect the laws of the countries they are in regarding the way they fundraise and what they do with the money raised. As such, it may be that a simple exchange of cash from one entity to the other is allowed or isn't by the local tax authorities. In the end, all affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation share the same goal, that of promoting and supporting the Wikimedia projects. Chapters, thematic organizations, and some user groups - like the Foundation - are bound by their bylaws to make sure that goal is achieved, their money must be spent towards that goal.

What if local law enforcement contacts an affiliate for user information?[edit]

You (the affiliate) tell them:

The Wikimedia Foundation hosts Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites worldwide. A Wikimedia movement affiliate is a stand-alone, independent organization formed by people who use Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. An affiliate is not governed, owned or operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. The affiliate has no responsibility with respect to running the Wikipedia or other Wikimedia sites, nor does it have access to user information. The Wikimedia Foundation is the appropriate entity to direct all official requests for user information. You can contact them at:

   Wikimedia Foundation
   c/o CT Corporation System
   818 West Seventh Street
   Los Angeles, California 90017
   Email: legal(at)wikimedia.org

We understand that the Wikimedia Foundation may not require a U.S. subpoena before it releases user information, but we encourage you to talk to them directly to understand their process.

What if a member contacts an affiliate with an emergency situation?[edit]

If your affiliate becomes aware of an immediate threat - please notify the Wikimedia Foundation office staff of the apparent suicide note or claim or threat of violence as soon as it is provided. Foundation staff have been the key responders in prior incidents.

Contact can be made by emailing emergency(at)wikimedia.org, which forwards to several trained staff members who handle these incidents and are available to respond to emergency incidents even outside of normal business hours. This is the preferred method for reporting threats of harm to the Wikimedia Foundation; calling the office or emailing other addresses will simply delay the report from reaching the appropriate staff in a timely fashion. The Foundation will take care of locating the user and contacting authorities. The Foundation will nearly always immediately acknowledge your email, so that you know they're working on it.

Affiliate creation questions[edit]

Who can start a new thematic organization or chapter?[edit]

To initiate a new thematic organization or chapter you should have experience in contributing to any of the Wikimedia projects, and probably be able to contribute in the language of the country you reside in if you wish to start a chapter. Of course one person is not enough to create a full fledged organization, so you have to be ready to motivate and gather more active contributors from your country who are also interested and willing to participate in all the work that comes along with the creation of a legal entity.

It would help a lot if at least one of these persons is already involved in discussions regarding the Wikimedia Foundation, and at least one person has some kind of experience in legal issues.

For the creation itself you should be a group of between 10 and 20 people (if you can find more, that's fine, of course), even if your local laws require a smaller number.

The Wikimedia chapters creation guide and Wikimedia thematic organizations creation guide have more specific information on the process of creating a thematic organization or chapter.

Who can start a new user group?[edit]

To create a new user group, essentially all you need are at least three active Wikimedia contributors in good standing who are interested in forming a group working towards the same scope - such as a thematic focus, geographic area, language, or Wikimedia project.

The Wikimedia user groups creation guide has more specific information on the process of creating a user group.

What legal form should an affiliate have?[edit]

In countries where the status is applicable, chapters and thematic organizations should have non-profit status and follow the local legislation for such organizations.

User groups are not required to become legal entities, but may do so if local laws require or it will better support the group's activities.

All affiliates are expected to be member organizations, allowing interested individuals to join the chapter as voting members, but the final legal form should be chosen in the view of best fulfilling the goals similar to those of Wikimedia. You should discuss any questions on specifics with the Affiliations Committee.

What arrangements need to be made with the Wikimedia Foundation?[edit]

This is better explained in the affiliate creation guides. You will also want to take a close look at the requirements for movement affiliates to have a clearer view of the expectations once you become a Wikimedia movement affiliate.

How much are the membership fees?[edit]

Membership fees are up to each affiliate to decide. Some affiliates have special discount fees for students, the unemployed, etc.

Some affiliates also chose to establish a fixed fee for corporate members, while others have decided to establish these on a case-by-case basis.

Why are thematic organizations and chapters required to have two years of activity?[edit]

Groups must have two years of demonstrable programmatic results prior to applying for thematic organization recognition. Ideally these activities should be done as a recognized Wikimedia user group. These activities, and their results, must be documented on-wiki, ideally on the group's Meta-Wiki page. Wide outreach efforts to encourage participation and involvement in setting up and shaping the organization are necessary. Activities should be a mixture of online and offline activities designed to encourage participation on the Wikimedia projects. The group must be up to date on its activity and financial reports prior to being considered for recognition.

What qualifies as an active Wikimedia contributor in good standing?[edit]

The Affiliations Committee defines an active contributor for the purposes of affiliate recognition as a members with 300 or more contributions to a Wikimedia project on a registered account that has existed for more than 6 months in good community standing (meaning they are not currently suspended or otherwise prevented from participating).

My group does not qualify, does the Affiliations Committee provide exceptions?[edit]

Generally, applications for thematic organization or chapter which do not meet requirements are unlikely to be approved. However, you are encouraged to speak with the Affiliations Committee about your group's particular circumstances.

If your user group application is not able to meet these criteria you are still welcome to apply but we would like to have a small motivation on why you think these criteria are not important to your initiative. Please address these two questions in your motivation:

  1. How would your user group contribute to the mission of the Wikimedia Movement
  2. How does the background of the founding members contribute to the success of your user group

Examples of applications that could have good reasons for not meeting the criteria are things like research groups or other initiatives which do not require you to be an active contributor.

Please be aware that if you do not meet the three criteria outlined above, the Affiliations Committee will need more time to discuss your application (and hopefully approve it), this might also involve some more communication with the founding members of the user group application, so please watch your inbox for mails on this topic so that you can respond to them quickly.

Other questions[edit]

Where can I find out more about each affiliate?[edit]

All current affiliates are listed on the Wikimedia movement affiliates page. The page provides links to each affiliate Wikimedia project based wikipage. These pages are meant to provide helpful information to the Wikimedia movement - including prospective members.

You might also want to ask the Affiliations Committee.

Where can I ask additional questions?[edit]

If you have questions that are not covered in this FAQ, please contact the Affiliations Committee.