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Movement Charter/Content analysis

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This is a high level analysis of the content of the Movement Charter text that will be put up for the ratification vote June-July 2024. It is a response to the prior community feedback and requests asking for an overview of what are the actual proposed changes of the Charter compared to what parts are rather normalizing the existing practices and concepts.

This analysis focuses on each area of the core Charter text, comparing it to the existing policies, structures, and notable prior conversations. The materials being referred to will be linked in the comments section and are the basis of the evaluation. The evaluation itself makes a conclusion on three different levels, suggesting the Charter text proposes: 1) status quo, i.e. normalization or standardization of existing practice or concept; 2) change, i.e. building on existing approach, yet suggesting a notable change; 3) new approach, i.e. something that does not exist in Wikimedia movement in the proposed form.

The analysis has been conducted by the supporting staff of the Movement Charter Drafting Committee per request of the committee.

Opening paragraphs
Area Evaluation Comments
Definition of the Wikimedia movement Change ➼ This is a change compared to existing definitions, proposing a new one-sentence definition of what the Wikimedia movement is.

➼ There is an existing rather wide definition of the movement that has been published at Wikimedia movement on Meta.

➼ There are other definitions available in particular projects that differ in detail (e.g. English Wikipedia definition).

➼ The article “Wikimedia movement” with a definition section exists (at the time of writing) in 36 Wikipedia language versions.

Definition of the Movement Charter New ➼ This is a new proposal with a clear two-sentence definition of the Movement Charter.

➼ While there have been prior proposals of the Movement Charter, the first more substantial iteration from the Movement Roles project (2010-2011), they have lacked a clear definition of the Movement Charter itself.

➼ The current Movement Charter is building on the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendation #4 “Ensure Equity in Decision-Making” and in particular its subsection “Establish a common framework for decision-making” which has a high-level, yet not clear-and-concise definition and purpose description for the envisioned Movement Charter.

Purpose of the Movement Charter New ➼ This is a new proposal, as the purpose of a Movement Charter has previously not been outlined in a clear 5-bullet list.

➼ Again, there are some elements of the purpose proposition in the Movement Roles project (2010-2011) version of the Movement Charter, yet they are not formulated in a clear and concise way.

➼ The current Movement Charter is building on the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendation #4 “Ensure Equity in Decision-Making” and in particular its subsection “Establish a common framework for decision-making” which does have a high-level purpose statement for the envisioned Movement Charter.

Wikimedia Movement Principles and Values
Area Evaluation Comments
Fundamental principles of the Wikimedia Movement Change ➼ This is a change from existing documentation, as for the first time only 3 fundamental principles have been named as key fundamental principles for the whole Wikimedia movement.

➼ Definition of principles to guide the ways of working of Wikimedia dates back to early days with a Statement of Principles from Jimmy Wales from 2001.

➼ There are a number of evolving key principles pages on meta, many of them collected on Wikimedia principles page.

➼ There is an attempt made to pull together key principles for founding new projects on Founding principles page. This relates to fundamental principles of Wikipedia, as in Wikipedia: Five pillars (principles available in 142 language versions that differ in detail)

➼ There have been particular prior agreements of principles for other specific areas, including 10 principles of Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy and Wikimedia Foundation Guiding Principles

Values central for good governance New ➼ This is assessed to be something new, as there has not been an effort to define Wikimedia Movement values prior to the Charter proposal.

➼ It needs to be clarified, though, that the discussions on principles are similar to the value conversations.

➼ As to values, a number of Wikimedia organizations have worked to develop their proper set of values over time, most notably four iterations of values of the Wikimedia Foundation, and values of the Wikimedia Deutschland as the largest affiliate.

➼ Definition of values is more common in the organizational part of the movement and in the project communities definition of guiding or working principles is more common.

➼ Values as defined in the Movement Charter have also resemblance to the 10 principles of Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy in their essence and character, so the proposal is not in itself completely new now.

Individual Contributors
Area Evaluation Comments
Definition of individual contributor Change ➼ The term of “individual contributor” has been used in the Wikimedia Movement for a while, even though more specific terms referring to contributions have been used more regularly (e.g. editor, developer, etc.)

➼ The term can be most consistently linked back to the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy process, especially its dedicated consultation track for individual contributors (Track B) in 2017.

The briefing documentation for the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy process also includes a high level definition or description of the landscape of individual contributors.

➼ On projects the contributors are defined more specifically, e.g. in Wikipedia namespace there is a definition and description of Wikipedian in 104 language versions.

Rights and responsibilities of volunteers Status quo ➼ There is no substantial proposed change to the rights and responsibilities of the project contributors. However, the Movement Charter proposes a consolidated high level description of these, which has not previously existed in such concise form.

➼ Overall, the rights and responsibilities of volunteers are based on existing policies and agreements, like the Terms of Use and the Universal Code of Conduct.

➼ The Movement Charter text only sets a high level framing and more detailed policies and descriptions of expected behavior and assumed responsibility continue to be set out in the policies of particular projects (e.g. Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines).

Definition of Wikimedia communities Change ➼ This is a change from usual way of referencing to the communities in the movement, providing a common definition of online project communities of the Wikimedia movement as a whole.

➼ There is no clear definition of the Wikimedia community on meta and the topic is covered by two essays: Community (also a redirect from Wikimedia Community) and the Wikipedia Community. There is a nutshell essay on the topic also on Wikipedia namespace in English Wikipedia.

➼ Traditionally, there has been a tendency to separate communities per project or per language, e.g. Wikipedia community article on English Wikipedia.

➼ The Wikimedia Foundation has had a different approach in definition of “community”, rather including both volunteers and affiliates of the Wikimedia Community under this overarching term (e.g. description of the Community Growth team). The Movement Charter proposes to use the term only in reference to the online project communities.

Rights and responsibilities of communities Change ➼ This is a change building on existing tacit agreements, yet in some areas proposing new aspects.

➼ The proposed rights section is building on existing policies and agreements like the Terms of Use and the core content policies.

➼ The key change is calling on responsibility of each and every project community to develop their proper dispute resolution and moderation process as well as making their policies and guidelines easily accessible and enforceable. Such a requirement is not stated elsewhere in such a clear and succinct way.

Wikimedia Movement Bodies
Area Evaluation Comments
Global Governance structure New ➼ Currently the Wikimedia Foundation holds the responsibility for movement governance. The Movement Charter text proposes creation of a new body named the Global Council to take a governance role at the movement-wide level.

➼ The Movement Charter text suggests that the Wikimedia Foundation and the Global Council will both function as the highest governing bodies, each with their own specific purpose and responsibilities.

➼ Please refer to respective sections of the Wikimedia Foundation and the Global Council for further details.

Definition of Wikimedia Movement Bodies New ➼ The term “Wikimedia Movement Bodies” has not been used previously and is a new proposal from the Movement Charter.

➼ This is a term encompassing Wikimedia Movement Organizations (including affiliates and hubs), the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Global Council.

Responsibilities of Wikimedia Movement Bodies New ➼ While every subsection of the chapter outlines role-specific responsibilities, the section highlights common responsibilities, including notable new aspects.

➼ The most notable is Care Responsibility, establishing a more clear connection between Wikimedia Movement Bodies and the communities they are serving. While there has been tacit expectation of it, this is the first time that the responsibility is explicitly worded.

➼ In alignment with the Strategic Direction from 2017, the Wikimedia Movement Bodies are clearly called upon reducing the participation barriers to create pathways for meaningful participation of under-resourced and underrepresented contributors.

➼ It has also been clearly stated that the Movement Bodies have no editorial control over specific projects or content areas, aligned with the existing content policies.

Independent Dispute Resolution mechanism New ➼ As defined in the Movement Charter, the Independent Dispute Resolution mechanism will be created to resolve conflicts that existing Wikimedia Movement mechanisms are unable to resolve.

➼ There are a number of existing dispute resolution processes in place in the Wikimedia movement. The expectation is that the newly formulated function will take over cases when the result of the existing process is inconclusive or if there will be a conflict between the highest decision-making bodies (i.e. the Wikimedia Foundation and the Global Council).

Principles of Decision-Making New Principles of Decision-Making is a new notion put forward by the Movement Charter, basically defining the principles every movement participant should follow in any decision-making processes.

➼ This is complementary to the Wikimedia Movement Principles and Values section of the Movement Charter

Definition of Wikimedia Movement Organizations Change ➼ Wikimedia Movement Organization has traditionally not been a widely used term in the movement and, as a result, has lacked a clear definition. However, the definition is building on existing definitions of affiliates and the concept of hubs.

➼ In briefing for Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy process in 2017, the notion of organized groups was used in a similar way and includes in its definition and landscape overview similar aspects that are highlighted in the Movement Charter text.

Types of Wikimedia Movement Organizations Change ➼ The proposal generally follows the current definition of Wikimedia movement affiliates, including Wikimedia chapters, Wikimedia User Groups, and Wikimedia thematic organizations, yet it also formally includes a new structure of Wikimedia hubs in the list.

➼ The definitions of existing organizational types do not differ significantly from the existing definitions.

➼ The definition of a hub, while outlined in the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendations, and also benefited from a piloting process since 2021, is a new formal definition that has not existed before.

➼ As the Movement Charter suggests that key documentation for the Movement Organizations should exist elsewhere than the Charter itself, the proposed approach for the Hubs is currently included in the supplementary documentation and not the body text of the Movement Charter itself.

Governance of Wikimedia Movement Organizations Status quo ➼ The definition of governance of the Wikimedia Movement Organizations in the Movement Charter follows the existing practice of contextuality and self-determination.
Responsibilities of Wikimedia Movement Organizations Change ➼ The list of the responsibilities of the Wikimedia Movement Organizations in the Movement Charter is not exhaustive, yet in great part aligns with existing responsibilities. The change is emphasizing some of the areas in a different way.

➼ Existing responsibilities of affiliates can be compared with in the public Chapter Agreement template from 2007, which is not up to date, yet sets out the key responsibilities still prevalent in later agreements.

➼ Emphasis on inclusion, equity, and diversity within their community is something that has not been highlighted in this way previously, yet is well aligned with the Strategic Direction.

➼ As we now have the Universal Code of Conduct, upholding it has been included in the responsibilities.

➼ While annual reporting and revenue generation has always been part of the rights and responsibilities of Wikimedia affiliates, this has been highlighted in the Movement Charter draft.

Definition of the Wikimedia Foundation Status quo ➼ The definition of the Wikimedia Foundation in the Movement Charter is essentially reiterating on its mission statement.
Connection of the Wikimedia Foundation with the movement Changes ➼ As a new Movement Body of the Global Council is proposed to be set up, there are some changes in this regard to the role of the Wikimedia Foundation in the movement and its connection to the movement.

➼ Essentially, to this time the Wikimedia Foundation has directed movement-wide strategy processes, including creation of 2010-2015 strategy, 2016 strategy, and Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy. The Movement Charter proposes this to shift to the Global Council and the WIkimedia Foundation following the strategic guidance given by the global strategy developed by the Global Council.

➼ In alignment with the overall direction of the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendation #4 “Ensure Equity in Decision-Making”, on which the Movement Charter builds on, the Movement Charter calls the Wikimedia Foundation to contribute to distributed leadership and responsibilities across the Wikimedia Movement, as well as work towards equitable distribution of resources. For the latter it is proposed that again the direction given by the Global Council would need to be followed.

Governance of the Wikimedia Foundation Change ➼ Overall, the governance structure of the Wikimedia Foundation continues to be self-determined by the organization based on the context and operational needs.

➼ However, as the Global Council will be introduced, it will be expected that the Wikimedia Foundation will work closely with the Global Council on matters with global or movement-wide impact, which is an addition to existing governance model.

Responsibilities of the Wikimedia Foundation Change ➼ Overall, the responsibilities of the Wikimedia Foundation remain the same, including operational support and platform provision for online projects, managing legal obligations and safety of contributors, as well as supporting programmatic activities for the Wikimedia Movement.

➼ There is a planned transition of some of the existing responsibilities and functions of the Wikimedia Foundation to the Global Council outlined in the Movement Charter, including long-term movement-wide strategic planning, resource distribution, as well as aspects of support of Wikimedia Movement Organizations and technology advancement.

Definition of the Global Council New ➼ While there have been prior proposals of a global Movement-wide Council, this is a first time that a more clear and detail concept for implementation has been put forward.

➼ The first ideas of a Wikicouncil date back to 2005, as a volunteer advisory board to the Board of Trustees, more focused on the online project community side.

➼ On the affiliate level an idea of the Wikimedia Chapters Association in 2012-2013 had traits to be the Global Council for affiliates.

➼ A more clear and distinct idea of both online project communities and affiliates being represented by one Global Council truly emerged in WIkimedia 2030 Movement Strategy process with the recommendation #4 “Ensure Equity in Decision-Making. The Movement Charter is building on that particular concept.

Purpose of the Global Council New ➼ While each of the aforementioned instances of developing an idea of a volunteer or affiliate council had their determined purpose, the purpose statement of a unified decision-making body is something new that the Movement Charter is putting forward.

➼ The text does build on the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendation #4 “Ensure Equity in Decision-Making’, especially the rationale section of the Global Council.

Governance of the Global Council New ➼ As the Global Council is a new Movement Body, also the governance set up will be new.

➼ However, similar principles as for the Movement Organizations and the Wikimedia Foundation apply, with contextual self-determination and operational needs driving the governance set up.

➼ The Supplementary Documentation of the Movement Charter proposes ideas on what could be the ways of working for the Global Council, as well as Rules of Procedure, including some of the governance elements.

➼ The proposal of mixing election and selection processes for appointment of the Global Council members has been previously tried on different occasions, including the set up of the Movement Charter Drafting Committee in 2021, 2022 Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees elections, and Universal Code of Conduct Coordinating Committee (U4C) elections in 2024.

Functions of the Global Council Change ➼ While the Global Council is a new Movement Body that will be set up, actually the functions it is expected to deliver are not really new in the movement.

➼ As to the change, it is the set up and way of delivery of these functions that will change, including the responsibility transferring from one body or group of people to another.

➼ The outline of the potential Global Council functions was again put forward by the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendation #4 ‘Ensure Equity in Decision-Making”.

➼ The function of Strategic Planning for the movement has been previously directed and overseen by the Wikimedia Foundation with examples of creation of 2010-2015 strategy, 2016 strategy, and Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy. The Movement Charter proposes to shift this responsibility to the Global Council.

➼ The function of Support of Wikimedia Movement Organizations is transferring the current scope of the Affiliations Committee to the Global Council. In addition, some aspects of the affiliate and hub piloting support work have been presently overseen by the Community Growth team in the Wikimedia Foundation and based on the text of the Movement Charter, it is foreseen to transfer some of these responsibilities as well.

➼ The function of resource distribution is building on the advisory function on grantmaking delivered by the Funds Dissemination Committee from 2012 to 2022 for annual grants, the Grants Advisory Committee from 2011 to 2015 for project grants, and the Regional Fund Committees functional since 2021. While the decision-making responsibility on funds dissemination has been with the Wikimedia Foundation thus far, the Movement Charter proposes this also to shift to the Global Council.

➼ The function of technology advancement is a proposed advisory and coordination role for the Global Council, which is building on the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendation #5 “Coordinate Across Stakeholders” with a proposed concept of a Technology Council. There have been other previous pipelines to deliver some aspects of the currently proposed functionality with Wikimedia Technical Committee and the Wikimedia Technical Decision Forum, at the same time the function as proposed is a new approach.

Initial creation and future expansion of the Global Council New ➼ This is a new proposal for a practical set up of the Global Council.

➼ It is building on the concept of an Interim Global Council, as it was proposed by the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendation #4 “Ensure Equity in Decision-Making”.

➼ There have been a number of proposals for the Global Council set up by different parties that have been documented in a subsection of the Global Council meta page.

➼ The Movement Charter text puts forward a step-by-step build up of the Global Council aligned with the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy recommendation #10 “Evaluate, Iterate, and Adapt”.

Amendment and Ratification
Area Evaluation Comments
Amendment process New ➼ The Movement Charter is a new document for the Wikimedia Movement in its own category and, as a result, a specific amendment process has been proposed to fit the scope and purpose of the Movement Charter.

➼ It is following the general process already in place in the movement, attributing the approval of decision in some cases to the to be established Global Council and in others to the Wikimedia Movement with respective consulting and voting mechanisms in place.

Ratification process New ➼ The Movement Charter is a new document for the Wikimedia Movement in its own category and, as a result, a specific ratification process has been proposed to fit the scope and purpose of the Movement Charter.

➼ It has been designed to determine the support from all the stakeholder groups in the movement, including a popular vote for individual contributors, voting process for Wikimedia affiliates, and Wikimedia Foundation vote.

➼ This process is building on experience of prior processes like the vote on the Universal Code of Conduct.