Movement Charter/Content/Roles & Responsibilities
New draft chapters of the Wikimedia Movement Charter are available for review and feedback. These drafts are the result of extensive effort and we are delighted to share them with you. Help us improve them by sharing your thoughts on the talk page, at a community conversation hour, or at upcoming community conferences and events.
- Context for this draft
The Roles & Responsibilities chapter in the Movement Charter proposes changes to enhance the Wikimedia movement. It also acknowledges that certain workflows will continue without major alterations. This decision is driven by the recognition of the efficiency and effectiveness of the existing workflows. By retaining these successful practices, the movement ensures that essential operations remain streamlined and productive. In result, members focus on driving positive change and maximizing their impact. The chapter aims to strike a balance between embracing innovation and preserving what already works well, to create a cohesive and high-performing movement.
Entities and stakeholders within the Wikimedia movement distribute and decentralize roles and responsibilities as equitably as possible across the movement.
According to the subsidiarity principle, responsibilities are delegated to the lowest possible level. This applies unless the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved at that level but can, by reason of the scale or effects of the proposed action, be better achieved at a higher level. For higher-level responsibilities, bodies that represent the whole movement exist. They are designed to build consensus for decision-making, and accountability for outcomes.
Volunteers are the human core of the movement. As individuals, they have autonomy to contribute to the mission of the Wikimedia movement. In the Wikimedia context, a volunteer is a person donating their own time and energy to Wikimedia activities without receiving any regular salary for their efforts. They do so either on- or offline, for instance by project editing, administrative duties, committee engagement, and event organization. In some circumstances, volunteers are eligible to receive compensation for their efforts such as expense reimbursement, prizes, gadgets, support packages, or stipends.
Volunteers can commit to individual or collective activities in the movement, and may associate with any open group, community, project, affiliate or hub. The Wikimedia Movement thrives through the engagement of people who contribute voluntarily.
Volunteers are the foundation the movement is built on. The latter would not be able to exist without them. Their contributions range from project editing as an individual to building communities for growth of the movement.
All volunteers must follow movement policies and guidelines while contributing. They are accountable for their individual actions when engaging in Wikimedia movement activities, as specified in the codes of conduct.
- The volunteers’ relationship to the Wikimedia movement is, itself, voluntary: there is no limit to the contribution a volunteer can make. Volunteers have the autonomy to decide the nature and extent of the contribution they intend to make.
- Every volunteer has the right to leave the movement at any moment. They can take breaks for any period of time, or drop out when they decide it is time to move on.
- Care should be taken not to make excessive demands on individual volunteers. Volunteers always have the right to refuse requests for additional contributions or feedback.
- All volunteers in the movement should be treated respectfully and have the chance to participate in an equitable way.
- To maintain a supportive and rewarding environment for our volunteers, there can be a monitored provision for compensation, in terms of expense reimbursement, event prize, gadgets, support packages, allowance, etc.
Wikimedia volunteer communities are groups of volunteers contributing online and offline to build, enrich, and develop Wikimedia projects and activities.
Wikimedia communities exist in many forms and can for instance be thematic, geographic, linguistic, or project-based.
Project communities are groups of people contributing on Wikimedia online projects. They have a large autonomy over their policies, within their contexts, while abiding by universal behavioral rules. This autonomy fosters a spirit of experimentation that facilitates new social and technological approaches.
Communities set and follow their own participatory governance processes, which vary from one community to the other. In some communities, several committees and roles exist to support and supervise these processes, including but not limited to: Bureaucrats, Stewards, Administrators, Arbitration Committee membership, etc. Together with the communities, they are responsible for content policies, maintenance and development of projects and workflows, and collaborations.
Because the governance structure of each community is determined by the community itself, there is little oversight of an organized community but a set of guiding principles to be followed by each community.
The communities are responsible for overall editing, supervision, management and expansion of existing and future projects to ensure sustainability and growth of the movement. They are also responsible for shaping and implementing ways of working and rules in their own projects, and in organizing and driving activities in their contexts.
Project Communities are, in general, accountable to the users in that same community on matters of governance.
Project communities exercise full editorial control over their project's contents.
Community involvement is core to the long-term sustainability of the Movement. For any changes introduced by the Wikimedia Foundation or the Global Council that impact community workflows, the relevant communities should be offered substantive and meaningful consultation. Workflow-impacting changes may include changes in interface or software, or global projects that impact communities such as movement strategy, or Codes of Conduct. Some, such as Movement Charter amendments, are also subject to a further binding ratification.
In cases where critical competing interests prevent such consultation, the Global Council or WMF must explain why the consultation cannot take place. In true emergencies, the Global Council or WMF may act within their authority, but must provide a similar explanation afterwards. An opportunity for consultation and possible review will then be offered afterwards (including possible undoing of actions). The Global Council & WMF must avoid reaching de-facto outcomes before running consultations on decisions or actions.
Information and updates about changes that are estimated to impact community workflows, and should be available and discoverable for community members. Updates include, but are not limited to: ongoing projects and opportunities, information about WMF, and Global Council (including its sub-committees). Communities have the right to adequate documentation consistent with our movement values. Information that cannot be disclosed because it is confidential, private, proprietary, or impermissible to share under the law is exempt from these public publications.
Movement bodies are the independent organizations within the Wikimedia Movement that have gone through the formal process for recognition. They pursue the Wikimedia mission of free knowledge, adhere to movement values, and are active in decision-making and movement strategy within their recognized scope.
Movement bodies gather interested members and volunteers, and provide their services in specific areas of expertise. The bodies offer institutional support, delegate tasks, and assist volunteers and other bodies in developing, operating and coordinating activities.
Movement bodies facilitate the growth and expansion of Wikimedia communities by expanding membership, building collaborations, fostering cooperation, enhancing their skills, and improving their community awareness. They open channels for communication with respective communities and act as their representatives. Given their nature and scope of work, they support extending required resources and support to the communities.
The long term goal is for the resources of the movement to be spread across the spectrum of movement bodies and not dominated by any single body, but overseen by both the Global Council and Wikimedia Foundation. To achieve this, growth will be prioritized in strategic areas to develop a pragmatic decentralization.
(Note to reader: Information on the Global Council will be added to the R&R chapter of the charter in a later iteration of the drafting process. Please refer to the Global Council draft for the current information.)
(Note to reader: Information on the Hubs will be added to the R&R chapter of the charter in a later iteration of the drafting process. Please refer to the Hubs draft for the current information.)
Wikimedia Movement Affiliates are bodies in the Wikimedia Movement that have been formally recognized by the Global Council and its appointed committee, or prior to the start of and transition period of the Global Council, recognized by the Wikimedia Foundation.
A Movement affiliate can be a Wikimedia Chapter with a specified geographical coverage, a Thematic Organization which has a global or cross-regional coverage but a distinct theme, and a User Groups that can be regional as well as topical. Affiliates are a keyway in which groups can organize within the movement for delivery of activities and partnerships.
Composition and governance of an affiliate is open for the affiliate to decide depending on the context and needs within which it operates. The decision maker is an affiliate board or similar, and the affiliate is accountable to the group that they represent – for example their membership body. The affiliate must also abide by the movement mission and values and comply with the standards of recognition.
Affiliates are each responsible for the sustainability of communities being supported by the affiliate, and ultimately they must directly or indirectly aid one or more online projects: facilitating inclusion, equity, and diversity within their community; upholding the Universal Code of Conduct; and developing partnerships and collaborations in their region or theme of work. Affiliates are expected to coordinate with other fundraising bodies, if they choose to fundraise. Affiliates are responsible for making their work visible by providing publicly accessible reporting.
An affiliate needs to be consulted on any Hub being proposed in its area of operation (being it the theme or region), and on any proposed changes to structure and governance of the Movement if they impact an Affiliate’s operations.
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-governmental organization (NGO) that is legally responsible for the Wikimedia Movement’s free knowledge platforms and technology, and also responsible for the hosting thereof. It implements a strategic direction driven by ongoing participation and representation from across the Wikimedia Movement.
The Wikimedia Foundation's work is complemented by specialized bodies such as the Wikimedia Endowment and Wikimedia Enterprise that are separate legal entities and have their own bylaws.
- Governance structure
The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has its governance structure in their bylaws, which are complemented by resolutions from the Board of Trustees and WMF policies that apply both to the Board of Trustees and the WMF staff members. The Board of Trustees, with at least half of its membership drawn from the communities, is the main decision maker, with delegated tasks for the WMF Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The WMF is accountable to its free knowledge mission and to the Wikimedia communities. The WMF informs the wider Wikimedia Movement about the Board of Trustee and CEO general decisions. The WMF makes sure this information is open and easy to access.
The WMF is advised and supported by committees who are composed primarily of volunteers with knowledge of and interest in the specific topic, and are supported by WMF staff in carrying out their roles.
The WMF is responsible for the long term sustainability of the Wikimedia projects and its movement. WMF maintains the servers where the Wikimedia projects are hosted, and is in charge of the core software development. The WMF is responsible for the global banner fundraising campaigns. The WMF is also responsible for the Wikimedia Enterprise project.
The WMF is responsible for handling the legal aspects of the Foundation and overseeing its overall governance, such as the processes around the Board of Trustees, the development of annual and multi-year plans, and the protection of the Wikimedia trademarks.
The WMF consults relevant stakeholders that will be impacted by policy and bylaw changes. Where applicable, it seeks external legal advice.
The WMF will create processes, together with the Global Council, to ensure coordination in fundraising in an transparent, inclusive and accountable way. The process will especially clarify different movement bodies’ efforts to avoid overlaps or duplication of efforts.
The WMF tracks developments from outside the movement that impact the movement’s work, e.g. legislative matters and communities under threat.
- It is intended to add the link to the planned amendment chapter when drafted.
- Where staff is inclusive of contractors