Movement Charter/Movement Charter Drafting Group/Large Committee proposal
I propose that the Movement Charter Drafting Committee should have 28 members, constituted as follows:
(S)election of Committee members
The Committee should consist of 28 members:
- 18 members directly elected by the various wiki communities. These should be elected in local community elections, with each wiki electing Committee member(s).
Distribution of seats among the wikis would be done according to a (to be determined) formula using variables such as active editor count, userbase, and the number of speakers of the wiki's language. Small wikis would be grouped together when necessary, clustering languages by either geography, mutual intelligibility/language resemblance, or rates of bilingualism between the languages (either among the general population or among contributors). Elections by individual wikis would occur on those wikis in a manner decided by the local community, while grouped elections would occur on Meta-Wiki using SecurePoll. No user would be permitted to vote in more than one election.
- The Wikimedia Affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation would select 4 and 2 Committee members, respectively. These selections would occur after the conclusion of the community elections, so that the organizations could take into account any gaps in expertise or representation when considering their selections. In order to avoid conflicts of interest, and to ensure that members would not overregard the narrower interests of their organization, the organizations would not be permitted to select any individuals on their payroll.
- 4 more members would then be selected by the other 24 members of the Committee, specifically chosen to address any remaining gaps in expertise or representation identified by the Committee. This would complete the 28-member group.
All Committee members work towards the interests of the Wikimedia movement at-large, but also share responsibility for ensuring that points made in discussions from their local communities (and/or organizations, as applicable) are appropriately considered by the Drafting Committee. The members would not act under the instruction of a particular community or organization, but would be expected to take part in local Charter discussions when practical.
The Drafting Committee will be charged with executing the immensely complex task of writing a Movement Charter. I suggest that this Committee be divided into the following 8 subcommittees, each focused on a separate area of work:
- "A common direction on how resources should be allocated": The creation of a funds dissemination/resource allocation system, with associated accountability mechanisms.
- "A common framework for decision-making": The "meta-rules", rules about rules, including the functioning of the Charter itself, the rules regarding the set of living documents which will outline clear responsibilities and roles, and a dispute-resolution mechanism for mandate disputes.. Additionally, the mechanism for transferring responsibilities and authorities to the appropriate bodies, to ensure that decisions made are binding on all Wikimedia organizations.
- "Create a common understanding of what defines being part of our Movement": Codifying our fundamental values, principles, and goals. "Lay the values and principles" and "provide a sense of belonging", as per the Recommendation.
- "Clearly defining roles and responsibilities": Outline the policy basis for both new and existing structures, such as the Wikimedia Foundation, Affiliates, and the new Global Council and Hubs. Review/adapt structures such as the Affiliations Committee. Establish basic standards for for organizations and Boards.
- "Rights of participants": Community rights and responsibilities.
- "Ensuring Movement-wide revenue generation": Movement-wide processes dealing with revenue generation. The Charter will also outline the Global Council's responsibilities in "Setting frameworks on [...] revenue generation for the Movement."
- The Platform: Procedures for making decisions related to the Wikimedia projects' platform; the role and basic overview of the Technology Council; and essential principles and requirements for Wikimedia software, systems, and development processes.
- Finally, a dedicated subcommittee for arranging the broader structure of the Charter as a whole, overall coordination, and synthesizing and integrating the work of the other subcommittees into a cohesive document.
Each member would be part of two subcommittees, such that any given pair of subcommittees shares one member, ensuring that subcommittees stay on the same page as each other. Subcommittee groupings would be flexible and modifiable, possibly with a somewhat rotating membership among the Committee.
Development of the Charter will be done transparently and inclusively, with the active participation of the broader community. The Committee would regularly establish its "current draft" and routine summaries of the deliberations of the Committee and the Movement, and would be expected to submit the finished Charter for ratification within 10-13 months of its establishment.
A 28-member Committee is considerably larger than the other proposals. The two primary justifications for this are to deal with workload size and increase communities coverage.
- The amount of work is large
Each of the suggested subcommittee focus areas are individually immensely complicated assignments, even if we lean heavily toward the direction of a less-detailed ("compass"-style) Charter. Simpler tasks have taken longer in the past (compare, eg, the timelines for the processes that led to the FDC, or the earlier Strategy phases themselves), and it's important to keep the per-member workload reasonably low.
Having every member needing to share equal responsibility for every area of the Charter would, in my opinion, lead to considerable difficulties for the members.
- We need broad participation
It is very important that the Committee membership spans a large portion of the Movement's groups. If a community has no connection to anyone involved, it makes participation much more difficult. Additionally, language is a very large barrier. If there is no one on the Committee who speaks one's language, it increases the level of disconnect.
Having powerless liaisons provide summaries of conversations is of limited impact, and does not provide participants a sense that the local discussions yielded any results. It is important to avoid the "shouting into the void" effect that discourages participation. A Committee member participating directly shows that local voices can be heard.
Additionally, users often avoid elections that take place off of their home wiki, refraining from either applying as a candidate or voting.
A larger Drafting Committee would invite more engagement, would be more able to focus on the various areas, and would produce a better Charter.
(A note: A different version of this proposal doubled all the membership numbers, but I figured I was pushing things as it is. :) )
References / Notes
- 18 out of 28 approaches the "supermajority directly elected" conclusion reached in the January 24 Global Conversation, while technically falling short of it.
- Recommendation 4: "Set requirements and criteria for decisions and processes [...] e.g. for [...] Ensuring Movement-wide revenue generation and distribution,
- Recommendation 4:
- "Set requirements and criteria for decisions and processes [...] e.g. for [...] Giving a common direction on how resources should be allocated with appropriate accountability mechanisms."
- "The processes for [resource] allocation should be designed through consultation and described in the Movement Charter."
- Recommendation 5: "Create and keep updated shared documents defining clear responsibilities and expected capabilities for specific activities like advocacy, capacity building, partnerships, product, and technology, among others. These documents will reflect common shared values, needs, principles, and accountability and facilitate growth and inclusivity."
- Recommendation 4: "Mechanisms to resolve conflicts regarding mandate and authority over roles in our Movement will be designed and agreed upon."
- Recommendation 4: [The temporary committee writing the Charter will also] "Design an independent and transparent process, along with an independent legal assessment, to transfer those responsibilities and authorities to the appropriate Movement-led bodies. In those cases in which the legal limitations of the organizational structure cannot be overcome, establish a social contract to allow those bodies to make legally non-binding but socially binding decisions. This ensures that the authorities and responsibilities of the Global Council and of the other Movement-led bodies are respected and they lead within the Movement."
- Recommendation 4: "Create a Movement Charter to: Lay the values, principles and policy basis for Movement structures, including the roles and responsibilities of the Global Council, regional and thematic hubs, as well as other existing and new entities and decision-making bodies,"
- Recommendation 4: "Other existing Movement structures, such as the Affiliations Committee or Funds Dissemination Committee, will be reviewed and adapted during implementation and the development of the Charter."
- Recommendation 4:
- "[Hubs] will work toward high standards of diversity, inclusion, accountability, and equity in decision-making as per the Movement Charter."
- "Establish good practice guidelines for how boards function [...] Boards would be held accountable for following good practices by the Global Council."
- Recommendation 4: "Setting expectations for participation and the rights of participants."
- Unlike the previous subcommittee focus areas, this area is not specifically brought up by the Recommendations as needing to be part of the Charter, except insofar as it fits into general descriptions of the Charter outlining "mechanisms to ensure that the processes and changes that affect the whole Movement are legitimate and trusted", "requirements and criteria for decisions and processes that are Movement-wide to be legitimate and trusted by all stakeholders", and "values, principles and policy basis for Movement structures". More specific actions, not specifically linked to the Charter:
- Recommendation 5: "Create a Technology Council to establish processes for introducing new functionalities onto Wikimedia platforms and tools.", "Lack of clarity about the roles of various stakeholders, ineffective communication channels, and differing prioritization systems have created points of conflict, perceptions that decision-making occurs without consultation, and lack of unity. [...] Many significant software changes are approached without consultation and therefore lack buy-in and understanding across projects. This lack of coordination is worsened by inadequate support and ineffective communication with volunteers, technical contributors, partners, and developers in the community. They are often left at their own discretion in terms of maintenance and improvement of their tools, and both users and partners can experience many barriers (e.g. when sharing content). Establishing a central structure such as a Technology Council can guide the focus and coordination of developing new technology. Similarly, regional and thematic structures can facilitate coordination among diverse Movement stakeholders with greater clarity and shared understanding."
- Recommendation 2: "Improve methodology to identify, propose, test, and implement changes on Wikimedia platforms. [...] Create procedures and practices to improve the use of all Wikimedia projects"