Membership FAQ

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Note: As of 2006, there are no plans to make Wikimedia membership available. The following is left over from early discussions of possible membership systems.


The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation is the parent organization of Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikinews, In Memoriam 9/11 and Nupedia. Its goals are to maintain and develop open content, wiki-based projects and to provide the full contents of those projects to the public free of charge.

This FAQ is intended for those thinking about becoming members of the Foundation.

For discussion of any of these points, please see Talk:Membership FAQ

Who can become a member?[edit]

To become a Volunteer user, you must have a user account on at least one Wikimedia project. There are currently no age limits for members, although only members over 18 will be allowed to stand for election. There is no user account requirement for other types of membership.


What is a Life Member?[edit]

As of June 2004, the only Life Member is Jimmy Wales, in recognition of his role as Founder of Wikipedia. Life members have the same rights as Contributing Active members. Life Members do not have to pay dues and are not expected to make any contributions to any Wikimedia project.

What is a Sustaining Member?[edit]

A Sustaining Member is a person or organization that has contributed substantial funds to the Foundation. Sustaining Members have all the privileges of active members. The exact qualifications for this level of membership has yet to be established. Sustaining Member members shall be listed (anonymously if requested) in some prominent place on the main online site of the Foundation.

Sustaining Corporate members may not hold office or vote. Members in other classes who additionally hold membership independent of their Corporate position shall hold a personal membership with such rights as accrue to that personal position.

What is an Honorary Member?[edit]

An Honorary membership may be given to a person or organization who has made a significant contribution to the Foundation. Honorary members are made via a recommendation by the Board of Directors. Honorary members must be approved by the general membership at the General Meeting of the Foundation. Honorary members do not pay dues. They are not eligible to hold office or vote.

What additional rights do Contributing members get?[edit]

Volunteer Active Members shall have all the privileges of active members except for voting for the Contributing Active Member Representative.

What voting rights do members have?[edit]

Contributing Active members may vote for the Contributing Active Member Representative to the Board of Trustees. All Contributing or Volunteer Active members can vote for the Volunteer User Representative to the Board of Trustees

What are the membership fees?[edit]

See membership fees

What is expected of members?[edit]

Contributing or Volunteer Active members must have contributed to at least one Wikimedia project as a logged in user. Members are expected to be interested in supporting the activities of the Foundation. Members must agree to the Foundation's Code of Ethics, submission standards and other policies as are time to time adopted or modified by the Board of Trustees.

When do people stop being members?[edit]

Membership of Active Contributing or Sustaining members can be terminated if dues are not paid within 60 days.

Any member may resign from the Foundation by submitting a written resignation to the Secretary.

If a complaint is made about a member, that members can be removed by a four-fifths vote of the Board of Trustees. The member must first be told about the complaint and be given reasonable opportunity to defend themselves.

How long does membership last for?[edit]

Other than Life membership, membership is for one year. It may be renewed at the option of the member.

Do members have more rights on Wikimedia projects?[edit]

Currently the only additional right is the right to vote for the User Representative(s) to the Board of Trustees.

How are members informed of the activities of the Foundation?[edit]

A publicly archived mailing list called Foundation-l is open to both members and non-members of the Foundation. This mailing list, and the Meta wiki will be used for discussion. The mailing list and Wikimedia News page on Meta will be used for announcements. Members are asked to copy announcements from these places to the appropriate page on their own Wikimedia projects, with translations where necessary.

Do members receive discounts on products sold by the Foundation?[edit]

The Foundation may from time to time be involved in sales of items, such as printed editions, or of promotional materials. It has yet to be established whether membership allows for any reduction in cost of these items.

How do I apply for membership?[edit]

The exact means for gaining membership are not yet finalised. It is possible users will have a checkbox in their preferences allowing them to sign up. Contributing active members would have to provide payment of the year's membership dues before this became valid (or sign up for monthly payments). For Volunteer active members, this would be valid immediately subject to removal of membership by the Board (in cases of suspected sock puppetting etc).

What happens after I apply for membership?[edit]

For Volunteer Active members, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees will approve or reject your application within X working days of receiving it. For Contributing Active members, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees will approve or reject your application within X working days of your dues being paid. Members will receive email confirmation of the acceptance or otherwise of their application. You will be given a membership number, details of joining the Foundation-l mailing list and information on how you can vote in the future elections for the Board of Trustees.

Will there be any member-only features on Wikimedia projects?[edit]

No. There are no plans at this time for this to be the case.

Can membership be anonymous?[edit]

This has yet to be established.

Are there any affiliate programs which provide benefits to members?[edit]

No affiliate schemes have been set up yet. It has yet to be established whether any benefits of this sort will be available in future.

How does this fit in with local chapters?[edit]

Local chapters will also have membership, and fees. Membership of the Wikimedia Foundation and its local chapters are independent. You can choose to be a member of both, or whichever one you choose. Please see membership fees for a discussion of whether both local dues and Foundation dues are payable.

Please discuss the following on Talk:Membership FAQ:

  • Might it be automatic that a local member is a global member?
  • Could they choose to register both at the same time?

How can I opt out of membership?[edit]

Membership for volunteer members is opt in and is currently triggered by taking part in a foundation vote. At some time in the future, a checkbox on the user preferences will be implemented. Switching that preference off will opt out of membership. Corporate and contributing members can opt by failing to renew their membership. All members may resign in by writing to the foundation, but volunteer members should also switch off their membership preference even so.

Why should I become a member?[edit]

  • You will have the satisfaction of helping a really great project!
  • Becoming a member shows you are dedicated to the goals of the Foundation.
  • Sustaining members will gain visibility as a proactive supporter of the project.
  • Corporate members will be listed somewhere as a supporting organisation of Wikimedia.
  • Members, other than Corporate and Honorary members, are represented at the Board of Directors as they are able to elect a user representative to the future Board of Trustees.
  • Members, other than Corporate and Honorary members, have the right to stand for election to the Board of Trustees in June of each year.
  • The following benefits may be available to members in the future. Please note that none of these have yet been established, and no decision has yet been made about whether they will be.
    • Discounts on Wikimedia products.
    • Affiliate discounts
    • Email-forwarding from a user.wikimedia.org domain.
    • A free annual report of the Foundation activities
    • A tee-shirt with favorite wikimedia logo on it
    • A free wikireader of your choice (or at discount price?) to show good friends
    • ...