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Movement Charter

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The Wikimedia Movement is an international, sociocultural movement, whose vision is to bring free knowledge to the whole world. This Wikimedia Movement Charter (“Charter”) lays out the values, principles, and policy basis for Wikimedia Movement structures, including the roles and responsibilities of existing and new entities, and of decision-making bodies in the shared vision of free knowledge. This Charter applies to everyone and everything officially associated with the Wikimedia Movement: all individual and institutional participants, movement entities, projects, and online and offline spaces.

By defining the Wikimedia Movement and its values, this Charter aims to make it easier for stakeholders to collaborate with each other in a manner which fosters the Wikimedia Movement vision. This will help:

  • produce a strategy for growth, expansion, and future possibilities to secure continued creation and availability of free knowledge;
  • guide decision-making;
  • reduce conflict and promote harmony and constructive engagement between stakeholders
  • safeguard donor rights, and the financial interests of various entities comprising the Wikimedia Movement; and
  • provide a sense of belonging.

This Charter may be amended if needed, according to the Amendment section.

Wikimedia Movement Principles and Values

The Wikimedia Movement is based on and embraces a factual, verifiable, open, and inclusive approach to knowledge-sharing. All decision-making throughout the Wikimedia Movement needs to be made on the basis of and reflect these shared principles and values.

These shared principles include the ones already present at the Wikimedia Movement’s origin — free and open licensing, self-organization and collaboration, and factual and verifiable information — and extend to those shared values that are necessary to develop for our future. These principles and values recognize sharing of knowledge as a deeply collaborative endeavor.

The Wikimedia Movement is a diverse movement, yet the movement embraces three fundamental principles. These fundamental principles are:

Free and open licensing

The Wikimedia Movement uses open licensing to share everything it produces, including, but not limited to, text, media, data, and software for further use, distribution, and improvement. Some external content shared under a variety of licenses are also made available for use under open licensing. The Wikimedia Movement is committed to deepening its vision by expanding the realms of free knowledge, by integrating new and evolving forms of knowledge, and by growing diversity of content.

Self-organization and collaboration

The Wikimedia Movement is based on distributed leadership. Starting with the base of volunteers, the Wikimedia Movement entrusts the vast majority of decisions and policy-making to individual and institutional members at the most immediate or the lowest possible level of participation. Online and offline communities across the world generally make decisions for themselves, through the principle of subsidiarity. The Wikimedia Movement invites creativity, assuming responsibility, and collaboration in solving problems and implementing the values of this Charter.

Factual and verifiable information

The Wikimedia Movement’s content aims to represent reality. Definitions of notability or neutrality might vary across different parts of the Wikimedia Movement, but the goal is to provide knowledge of high quality. The Wikimedia Movement cherishes sources, peer review and consensus. The Wikimedia Movement actively avoids all biases, knowledge gaps, and misinformation and disinformation.

In addition to the three fundamental principles, this Charter recognizes values that are central to good governance. These values are:

Autonomy

The Wikimedia Movement strives to operate independently, focused on and guided by its free knowledge vision, and unobstructed by bias or favoritism. The Wikimedia Movement refuses to allow commercial, political, other monetary, or promotional influences to compromise its vision in any manner whatsoever.

Equity

The Wikimedia Movement recognizes that many communities and their members face diverse challenges to knowledge equity. The Wikimedia Movement strives to empower these communities and their members to overcome historical, social, political, and other forms of knowledge inequality. The Wikimedia Movement takes active measures, such as allocating resources, to promote and achieve equity in knowledge through decentralized governance and community empowerment.

Inclusivity

The Wikimedia projects are developed in many languages, reflecting many regions and cultures. All activities are based on mutual respect for the diversity of the participants of the Wikimedia Movement. This respect is enforced through measures to support safety and inclusion. The Wikimedia Movement provides a diverse common space, where everyone who shares in the vision and values of the Wikimedia Movement can participate and co-create. This inclusive space promotes accessibility through assistive technology for diverse special needs.

Safety

The Wikimedia Movement prioritizes the well-being, security, and privacy of its participants. The Wikimedia Movement seeks to ensure a safe environment that fosters diversity, inclusion, equity, and cooperation, which are necessary for participation in free knowledge in the online information ecosystem. It is a priority of the Wikimedia Movement to seek to ensure safety in both online and offline spaces. This priority is advanced by implementing and enforcing comprehensive codes of conduct, and investing resources necessary to support these activities.

Accountability

The Wikimedia Movement holds itself accountable through community leadership as represented within Wikimedia projects and Wikimedia Movement Bodies. This accountability is implemented through transparent decision-making, dialogue, public notice, reporting of activities, and upholding a Care Responsibility.

Resilience

The Wikimedia Movement thrives through innovation and experimentation, and constantly renews its vision of what a free knowledge platform can be, while continuing to respect the values and principles of this Charter. The Wikimedia Movement pursues effective strategies and practices to fulfill its vision, and supports and drives these strategies and practices with meaningful metrics-based evidence where possible.

Individual contributors

Individual contributors are the core of the Wikimedia Movement. Contributors have autonomy as individuals to contribute to the Wikimedia Movement’s vision and activities with their knowledge, expertise, time and energy, either online or offline. Individual contributors create and manage content; carry out administrative duties; participate on volunteer committees; organize events; and engage in other activities within the Wikimedia Movement.

Volunteers

Persons acting in their volunteer capacity do not receive salary for these efforts; however, volunteers may receive recognition or support in a variety of other forms. Voluntary participation is impacted by access to resources and other barriers.

Individual contributors and other volunteers commit to individual or collective activities in the Wikimedia Movement based on personal preferences, and should be empowered to participate whenever possible.

Rights

  • Volunteers have the right to be protected from harassment (for example Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC), Principle of Care) on Wikimedia Movement websites, as well as at online and in-person events hosted by any Wikimedia Movement Body.
  • Volunteers have the right to participate in projects and communities in an equitable way. All contributors and other volunteers have the right to take breaks in or cease participation as and when they deem appropriate.

Responsibilities

  • All contributors and other volunteers must follow Wikimedia Movement policies applicable to them while contributing and undertaking volunteer activities.
  • All contributors and other volunteers are responsible for their actions and accountable for their contributions to the Wikimedia projects.

Wikimedia communities

Wikimedia Movement communities are groups of people who contribute online and offline to build and advance the Wikimedia Movement vision. Such communities include individual participants, paid staff, and representatives from partner organizations that are aligned with the Wikimedia Movement vision. Wikimedia Movement communities include, but are not limited to, project communities, geographic communities, language communities, and technology/developer communities. The Wikimedia Movement is formed, developed and sustained by the collective and individual work and membership of its communities.

Wikimedia project communities have autonomy to establish policies for their individual projects, so long as such policies are in conformity with this Charter and the framework of global policies.[1] This autonomy allows individuals and communities to experiment and develop new social and technological approaches. These communities are expected to be open[2] about their governance, their processes and their activities, so that everyone in the Wikimedia Movement can work together as a global community in a fair and unbiased manner. Almost all decisions made on individual Wikimedia projects are made by volunteer contributors, either individually or as interested groups.[3]

Rights

  • Wikimedia project communities have editorial control of the content in their individual Wikimedia projects. The framework of global policies, including the Terms of Use for the Wikimedia project websites, establishes this editorial control.
  • Wikimedia communities are responsible for developing their own dispute resolution and moderation processes within and in conformity with the scope of global policies.[4]

Responsibilities

  • Wikimedia Movement communities should encourage participation in their activities and governance. Anyone who adheres to the global policies and has sufficient interest, time and skills should be encouraged to participate.
  • Wikimedia Movement communities should be fair and equitable in governance and policy enforcement in order to fulfill the vision of the Wikimedia Movement and to maintain their overall health.
  • The policies and guidelines of Wikimedia Movement communities should be easily accessible and enforceable.

Wikimedia Movement Bodies

Wikimedia Movement volunteers and communities form organizations to support and coordinate their activities. In this Charter, these organizations are referred to as Wikimedia Movement Bodies, which include Wikimedia Movement Organizations, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Global Council. The Global Council and the Wikimedia Foundation are the highest governing bodies, both with their own specific purpose and responsibilities.

So that under-resourced and underrepresented contributors can participate meaningfully in Wikimedia projects and other Wikimedia Movement activities, Wikimedia communities and Movement Bodies should seek to reduce participation barriers. Wikimedia Movement Bodies have no editorial control over specific projects or content areas. All Wikimedia Movement Bodies have a Care Responsibility towards the Wikimedia communities with whom they work.

The Independent Dispute Resolution mechanism will be[5] created to resolve conflicts that existing Wikimedia Movement mechanisms are unable to resolve, or where involved parties are unable to handle such decisions for reasons beyond their control. In the absence of this mechanism, the Wikimedia Foundation, or its chosen delegate, will assume this responsibility.

Wikimedia Movement Organizations

Wikimedia Movement Organizations are organized groups that exist to create conditions for open and free knowledge to flourish in a given geographic or thematic context. Wikimedia Movement Organizations operate in line with the Wikimedia Movement’s vision, and include Wikimedia affiliates, hubs, and other groups that the Global Council[6] or its appointed committees have recognized formally.

There are four different types of Wikimedia Movement Organizations:

  1. Wikimedia Chapters are affiliates that are independent organizations founded to support and promote the Wikimedia projects in a specified geographical region.
  2. Wikimedia Thematic Organizations are affiliates that are independent organizations founded to support and promote Wikimedia projects within a specific topic or focus.
  3. Wikimedia User Groups are simple and flexible affiliates that can be organized by region or theme.
  4. Wikimedia Hubs are organizations formed by affiliates for regional or thematic[7] support, collaboration and coordination.

Wikimedia Movement Organizations are a key way in which Wikimedia Movement communities can organize within the Wikimedia Movement for delivery of activities and cooperative endeavors. Wikimedia Movement Organizations may employ professionals to support the mission of the organization, as well as the free knowledge vision. Most often, this support is provided by amplifying and supporting the work of volunteers.

Governance

Guided by Movement Values, Principles of Decision-Making, and standards established by the Global Council, the body of a Wikimedia Movement Organization can decide its composition and governance according to the context and needs within which it operates. The decision-maker in a Wikimedia Movement Organization is an organization’s board or a similar body and is accountable to the group that such board or similar body represents—for example, its membership body.

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of Wikimedia Movement Organizations include:

  • promoting the sustainability of Wikimedia Movement communities that the membership body intends to support;
  • facilitating inclusion, equity, and diversity within their community;
  • upholding the Universal Code of Conduct (UCoC); and
  • developing partnerships and collaborations within their areas of interest.

For numerous reasons, including the resource allocation within the Wikimedia Movement, Wikimedia Movement Organizations should make their work and activities transparent by providing publicly accessible reporting.

Wikimedia Movement Organizations may choose to develop their financial sustainability through additional revenue generation, thereby increasing the overall capacity of the Wikimedia Movement. When necessary, such efforts for revenue generation must be coordinated with other Wikimedia Movement Bodies, including the Wikimedia Foundation and the Global Council.

Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is the nonprofit organization that serves as the main steward and support of the Wikimedia Movement’s free knowledge platforms and technology. The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, as well as to disseminate it effectively and globally.

The Wikimedia Foundation should align its work with the strategic direction and global strategy of the Global Council. Following the Movement Values and Principles of Decision-Making, and the WMF’s mission, the Wikimedia Foundation is expected to contribute to distributed leadership and responsibilities across the Wikimedia Movement. For the same reasons, the Wikimedia Foundation is also expected to work towards equitable distribution of resources, such as those established by the Global Council in consultation with stakeholders.

Governance

Guided by Movement Values and Principles of Decision-Making, the Wikimedia Foundation can decide its composition and governance in accordance with this Charter, and the context and needs within which it operates. The Wikimedia Foundation works closely with the Global Council, especially on matters that have global or movement-wide impact on the Wikimedia Movement.

Responsibilities

The Wikimedia Foundation’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Operating the Wikimedia projects, which includes hosting, developing, and maintaining core software; setting Terms of Use and other broad movement-wide policies; running fundraising campaigns; respecting and supporting community autonomy and stakeholder needs; and engaging in any other actions so that Wikimedia projects are easily accessible available and vision-aligned;
  • Supporting programmatic activities for the Wikimedia Movement; and
  • Legal obligations, including stewarding the Wikimedia brand; providing policies that provide a structure so as allow projects to run; ensuring legislative compliance; addressing legal threats; and enhancing safety of volunteers.


Global Council

The Global Council[8] is a collaborative and representative decision-making body that brings together diverse viewpoints to advance the vision of the Wikimedia Movement. The Global Council operates alongside the Wikimedia Foundation and other Wikimedia Movement Organizations to foster an inclusive and effective environment for the Wikimedia Movement as a whole and for all stakeholders involved.

Purpose

The Global Council serves as a forum where different Wikimedia Movement perspectives converge, thereby playing a pivotal role in shaping the future trajectory of the Wikimedia Movement. The Global Council seeks to ensure the continued relevance and impact of the Wikimedia Movement in an ever-changing world through its functions of strategic planning, support of Wikimedia Movement Organizations, resource distribution, and technology advancement.

Decisions are better informed and reflect the needs and priorities of the global community when a wide range of voices and experiences from across the Wikimedia Movement represent and participate in the highest levels of decision-making. By electing and selecting a majority of the Global Council’s members from the Wikimedia Movement’s volunteer base, the Global Council fosters a stronger sense of ownership and trust, while working towards the Wikimedia Movement’s vision of free knowledge. To support inclusion and representation of diverse perspectives, the membership of the Global Council should not be dominated by any particular demographic, including, but not limited to, any linguistic, geographical, or project-based demographic.

Governance

Guided by Movement Values and Principles of Decision-Making, the body of the Global Council can decide its composition and governance in accordance to the context and needs within which the Global Council operates. The Global Council also decides on the details of its own procedures. These procedures include, but are not limited to: the Global Council structure, membership, decision-making processes, responsibilities and accountability, and mechanisms for the inclusion of new and less-heard voices.

Functions

The Global Council focuses on four functions and areas of decision-making that have a direct impact on the Wikimedia Movement community and stakeholders. The Global Council has decision-making authority over all of its functions established by this Charter. The members of the Global Council are held accountable for the decisions and actions of the Global Council through the election and selection process.

The Global Council elects a Global Council Board, which is in charge of coordinating[9] and representing the Global Council as mandated by this Charter and the Global Council’s decisions. The Global Council Board approves the establishment and activities of the Global Council committees and their membership. These Global Council committees determine their own composition and ways of operating, and can appoint additional members who are not members of the Global Council to contribute to their work. The Global Council has at least four committees, individually responsible for each of the four functions outlined in this Charter.

Strategic Planning

The Global Council is responsible for developing long-term strategic[10] direction for the Wikimedia Movement. The strategic direction will serve as a foundation for decisions made by the Global Council and as guidance for the prioritization of the initiatives to achieve strategic goals. All Wikimedia Movement Bodies are expected to support the strategic direction established by the Global Council and incorporate it into their programs and activities. Based on such strategic direction, the Global Council also develops recommended annual global strategic priorities for the Wikimedia Movement. The Global Council develops the strategic direction in consultation with all stakeholders inside and outside the Wikimedia Movement.

Support of Wikimedia Movement Organizations

The Global Council establishes standards for the functioning of Wikimedia affiliates[11] and Wikimedia hubs. To achieve this, the Global Council and its committee establish and oversee processes for recognition/derecognition of these affiliates and hubs[12]; seek to ensure that Wikimedia Movement Organizations are in compliance with organizational standards; facilitate conflict resolution to maintain collaborative and respectful relationships within the Wikimedia Movement; and simplify access to resources (financial, human, knowledge, and others) for more equitable support and empowerment of Wikimedia Movement communities.

Resource Distribution

The Global Council establishes and periodically reviews the standards and guidelines for the equitable distribution of the funds[13] in the Wikimedia Movement in alignment with the strategic direction. These standards and guidelines shall comply with the Principles of Decision-Making. Furthermore, the Global Council and its committees determine the grant distribution to the Wikimedia Movement communities and Wikimedia Movement Organizations; determine movement-wide goals and metrics in conformity with the priorities set out in the strategic direction; determine the regional, thematic, and other funding allocations; and review global programmatic outcomes.[14]

Technology Advancement

The Global Council coordinates across different Wikimedia Movement technology-focused stakeholders,[15] and provides advice and guidance on technological advancement. The Global Council assists and advises the Wikimedia Foundation in prioritizing technological changes,[16] including the opening or closing of Wikimedia language projects, and helps the wider Wikimedia Movement understand the technological priorities as set forth in the strategic direction. The Global Council will exercise these functions in collaboration with Wikimedia Movement Bodies and online technical contributors.[17][18]

Initial creation and future expansion

The first Global Council will have twenty-five members. Of which, twelve members will be elected by the Wikimedia community at large; eight members will be selected through Wikimedia affiliates; one by the Wikimedia Foundation; and the remaining four members will be directly appointed by the Global Council, for the purpose of increasing expertise and diversity within its membership.

The Global Council selects twenty-percent (20%) of its members to serve on the Global Council Board.

With the experiences gained through its initial set-up and processes, the Global Council will review internal workings and mechanisms in order to innovate, adapt, and grow as a Wikimedia Movement Body. At least once every 3 years:

  • The Global Council, in collaboration with Wikimedia Movement stakeholders, conducts an evaluation of its functioning. The evaluation will include a review of whether an expansion of the Global Council’s functions and its scope for decision-making is advisable and feasible within the following Global Council term.
  • The Global Council reviews the Wikimedia Movement’s needs to determine whether the current membership size of the Global Council is compatible with its responsibilities. The Global Council may decide to expand or contract its size as a result of this review. The Global Council can have a maximum of 100 members.
    • If the Global Council and other stakeholders choose to increase the membership size of the Global Council to gradually build up a broader base of diversity and experience, it may do so at intervals of up to 25 more members every 18 months until the Global Council reaches 100 members.

Amendment

This Charter is designed to endure for many years. Because of this, except as provided below, amendments to this Charter are to be made only in extraordinary circumstances.

Categories of amendments

  1. Minor corrections.
    • Spelling and grammar corrections that do not change the meaning or intent of this Charter.
  2. Changes to this Charter that affect only the working processes of the Global Council.
  3. Changes to this Charter that:
    • Modify the overall responsibilities and membership of the Council.
    • Modify the values of the Wikimedia Movement; or the responsibilities and rights of individual contributors, projects, affiliates, hubs, the Wikimedia Foundation, future Wikimedia Movement Organizations, and the wider Wikimedia Movement.
  4. Changes proposed by the Wikimedia Movement.
Amendment Category Process Change Approval Body Notes
1 55% support for proposed change Global Council Board
2 55% support for proposed change Global Council Community consultation recommended
3 Movement-wide vote, 55% support for change Wikimedia Movement Voting mechanism to follow the ratification process as closely as possible, including support vote from the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
4 Proposals must meet criteria to move on to voting. Movement-wide vote, 55% support for change Wikimedia Movement Voting mechanism to follow the ratification process as closely as possible, including support vote from Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

Process for proposing Wikimedia Movement Charter amendments

The Global Council Board may propose amendments in Categories 1, 2, and 3. The Global Council may propose amendments in Categories 2 and 3. Category 4 amendments are proposed by members of the Wikimedia Movement. Category 4 amendments must meet certain criteria, including public support in order to trigger the amendment voting process. The Global Council is responsible for designing the process in consultation with the Wikimedia community.

The Global Council must appoint an independent committee to manage voting on Categories 3 and 4 amendments. The Global Council may define voting eligibility criteria for affiliates and individual voters, or may delegate this responsibility to the independent committee.

Ratification

The Charter is ratified and comes into effect after a vote that has the following result:

  • 55% support from participating Wikimedia affiliates, with a minimum of half (50%) of eligible affiliates participating in the vote;
  • 55% support from participating individual voters,[19] with a minimum of 2% of eligible voters participating in the vote; and
  • The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees votes to support the Charter.

Prevailing language and translations

Translations of this Charter may be provided in other languages. In the event of doubt or conflict between any translation and the original English language version, the English language shall prevail.

Notes

  1. The framework of global policies include those documented here and here, such as the Terms of Use for the Wikimedia project websites.
  2. An open review process should be possible for every community.
  3. Meaning “those who show up” to help make a decision, whether changing content or a policy.
  4. Community policies may not conflict with global policies or legal obligations.
  5. To be changed to “is created” once established.
  6. Prior to the start of and transition period of the Global Council, Wikimedia Movement Organizations are recognized by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees.
  7. This Charter sees Language Hubs as a form of Thematic Hub.
  8. In line with the legal reviews received in 2023 for this Charter, the Global Council will initially not be set up as a legal entity.
  9. The Global Council Board is the body tasked with: making sure the processes within the Global Council are running according to plans and timelines; coordinating with others where and when necessary; ensuring that the Global Council is operating and functioning according to its purpose; and other similar tasks.
  10. Strategy is inclusive of major projects to change the Wikimedia brand.
  11. This is meant to be inclusive of the functions held by the Affiliations Committee (AffCom) prior to the creation of the Global Council.
  12. The trademark licensing and contractual agreement components related to this process remains a responsibility of the Wikimedia Foundation.
  13. This refers to the movement-wide allocation of funds.
  14. This is meant to be inclusive of the functions currently held by the Regional Fund Committees prior to the creation of the Global Council.
  15. Stakeholders include contributors, Wikimedia Foundation, affiliates, hubs and more.
  16. A Memorandum of Understanding-like or Service Level Agreement-like document will be created between the Wikimedia Foundation and Global Council to lay out the agreement for how they work together, including how Global Council suggestions are received by the Foundation.
  17. This Global Council committee is meant to reflect the Movement Strategy Initiative for a Technology Council.
  18. Final technological prioritization decisions will be taken by the bodies primarily dedicated to the delivery of products and technology services, along with the appropriate community-led movement body associated with the Global Council.
  19. Individual voters, for the purpose of the ratification process, are individuals who would normally be eligible to vote in elections to select Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees members.