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Movement roles/Charter topics

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See also the draft charter based on these topics.


Based on discussions at Wikimania 2010 and subsequently in various forums within the community, the charter could include:

  • Define shared principles for all entities in movement
    • common statements of mission and intended impact
    • shared values, including shared values of Wikimedia reputation
    • operating rules for transparency, etc.
    • minimum standards to join, stay, or be asked to leave
    • minimum standards for legitimacy or “representativeness”
  • Define roles and responsibilities for each type of entity in Wikimedia movement including
    • Wikimedia Foundation
    • chapters: national, sub-national
    • other groups, new types of entities
    • future governing bodies (chapter committee, chapter/volunteer council, etc.)
  • Define scope of activities for each entity
    • at a minimum, what must each entity do - what is negligence of duty
    • at a maximum, what must each entity not do - what is over-reach
    • which activities are its choice but not obligation
  • Specify roles and responsibilities for entities with regards to:
    • fundraising (e.g. 50:50 split between foundation and chapters, etc.)
    • reporting, transparency, accountability
    • contractual: license fees, trademarks, use of brand
    • mutual support among Wikimedia movement entities: how is each responsible for enabling others
    • life cycle of chapters: where is the responsibility for potential, new, nascent, dormant, moribund or defunct chapters
    • relations with volunteers otherwise unaffiliated within the Wikimedia movement
    • relations with entities beyond Wikimedia movement
    • oversight: who is responsible for monitoring, auditing and ensuring compliance
  • Define where key decisions for the movement are made (e.g. for money, resources, use of name, new initiatives):
    • by the Wikimedia Foundation
    • by the Wikimedia Foundation with other entities
    • by other Wikimedia entities: chapters, committees, etc

Detailed notes[edit]

migrating from an older discussion on the movementroles wiki

Mission statement[edit]

The mission of the Wikimedia movement is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. The collaborative efforts of various groups around the world provide the essential infrastructure and framework for the support and development of multilingual wiki projects and other endeavors which serve this mission.

[Do we need a separate mission statement, or is not "mission" be covered by "shared principles" in the "scarecrow" charter below?]

Skeleton Charter[edit]

Purpose of this Wikimedia movement charter[edit]

The purpose of this charter is to help the Wikimedia movement develop as a strong, balanced global network to achieve its mission at scale - for everyone on the planet. It describes shared values, roles and responsibilities for grops and entities in the Wikimedia movement. We hope that this charter can sustain the movement through a number of years, and a substantial increase in scale to reach parts of the world currently under-represented.

Shared principles for all Wikimedia movement groups and entities[edit]

  • All Wikimedia movement groups and entities share common beliefs, values, vision and mission.
  • Each Wikimedia movement group or entity can set its own goals, in harmony with movement priorities as defined via periodic movement strategic planning processes[1]
  • Every Wikimedia movement group or entity operates with maximum openness and transparency to the movement, shares information transparently as peers, and is committed to shared learning from experience
  • Every Wikimedia movement group or entity maintains an ethos of self-regulation; is proactive and transparent in sharing successes, flagging and addressing failures or areas of non-compliance with agreements
  • All Wikimedia movement groups and entities are open to any Wikimedian who can contribute to the goals of the group or entity
  • All Wikimedia groups and entities share the movement commitments to multiculturalism, diversity, and non-discrimination
  • No Wikimedia group or entity should hinder the work of another Wikimedia group or entity, engaging a community mediation body when there is conflict [body to be defined]
  • Decentralized groups and entities in the movement work collaboratively with other entities without any assumption of heirarchy. Some rights and obligations are nevertheless limited to certain groups.
[Examples: fundraising options; some roles are delegated to a specific group or entity]

Roles and responsibilities of Wikimedia movement groups or entities covered by this charter[edit]

  • Wikimedia groups and entities can take on roles and responsibilities step-by-step, as they grow, e.g.:
    • local programs
    • outreach, social activities, conferences, access to resources within a "territory"
    • formal representation of Wikimedia movement, for example to other institutions or the press, in coordination globally
    • support for proper use of copyright
    • leading and planning global programs
  • Groups have a responsibility to monitor and report on their own progress, and to work with community audit groups to help maintain activity and an effective distribution of roles.
    • An audit group (committee?) will offer help to groups and support the development of annual audit practices.
      • Footnote, not in the charter -- this group should monitor and advise on when groups become dormant or defunct; if they do not fulfill roles and responsibilities, or if they diverge from the movement's goals. Followup would be shared by the global mediation group; any group recognized by the Board would need to be unrecognized by them; Associations and the like would likewise need to be finally reviewed by the same groups that recognize them in the first place.
  • Roles and responsibilities are agreed to publicly via documents such as this charter.
    • There should be more detailed documents providing guidance and expectations for each class of movement group.

Types of Wikimedia groups and entities covered by this charter[edit]

  • The Wikimedia Foundation:
    • hosts Wikimedia project websites and content with a core responsibility of keeping the projects running and protecting them from threats (legal or otherwise)
    • convenes the global movement
    • works along side other Wikimedian movement groups and entities to achieve the goals of the movement
    • owns trademarks, which it can license to other Wikimedian groups and entities and other external partners
    • coordinates global projects, public relations and fundraising
    • manages global flows of funds among groups and entities
    • creates decision-making processes for the Wikimedia movement, e.g. which groups and entities to recognize, which movement goals to adopt
    • creates effective, efficient, transparent, responsive and legitimate decision-making bodies for the Wikimedia movement (e.g. Chap Com)
  • Chapters:
    • are legally registered within their jurisdiction, preferably as a nonprofit (or equivalent), recognized as a charity
    • authorized to use the Wikimedia name for non-commercial purposes by the Wikimedia Foundation via a Board resolution and a chapter agreement
    • may raise money under the Wikimedia name within their jurisdiction[2]
    • spend money to support movement goals globally and locally, as agreed with the worldwide movement
    • lead programs within their jurisdiction in harmony with movement roles
    • collaborate with other Wikimedia movement groups and entities that act in their jurisdiction
[To what extent does a registered chapter act as a proxy, or not, for the Wikimedia Foundation in its jurisdiction?]
[The registered chapters should be limited in their representation, this might expose them to a lot of liability if they were to be considered direct proxies. There are legal and social issues that we can't account for, but as the chapter work increases, we do have to consider the possibility of legal repercussion for the chapters on behalf of the project and the foundation.]
[A point of contention has been the extent to which chapters have an "exclusive" in their territory or work alongside other Wikimedian groups and entities. For example, should the Wikimedia Foundation open offices in India and Africa alongside chapters or not. Some people in WM-AU are confused about whether chapters have an exclusive right to use the Wikimedia marks in their territory]
[I think those are two separate issue, as a member of the fundraising team I was privy to a lot of broad decisions taken by chapters on behalf of their territories. It should be an amalgamation of the two as suggested, the chapter need to make their decisions public. As for the India office issue, I think that's a unique situation that is the direct result of the five year plan. It can't be applied to other territories. -- how is this different from Brazil? -sj]
[There is nothing in any agreements that gives any organization exclusive rights to a territory - chapters are the only "chapters" in their geography, but technically other Wikimedia entities could exist. Seems like exclusivity would artificially limit the movement and contravene the principle that organizations shouldn't stand in each other's way]
[Over what decisions do national chapters have a voice, vote or veto over other Wikimedia entities or groups working in its jurisdiction/]
Currently we do not discriminate among 'national' and 'subnational' chapters. This section reads well without specifying 'national' v. other geographic scope.
  • Wikimedia Partner Organizations
    • are legally registered, preferably as a nonprofit (or equivalent), recognized as a charity
    • bring together Wikimedians with a specific interest, such as a language, culture, or field
    • need not operate within geographical boundaries
    • support and work in harmony with movement goals
    • are authorized to use the Wikimedia name by the Wikimedia Foundation under a contractual agreement (.e.g through a body like ChapCom or a reorganized ChapCom)
    • may be authorized to represent or act on behalf of Wikimedia movement [this would need more definition - what does it mean to act on behalf of?]
  • Other regional geographic groups, incorporated but not [yet?] Chapters or Partner Organizations:
    • can raise money in their territory, but not directly via site-wide fundraisers
    • lead programs locally which support movement goals locally
    • seek grants from WMF and chapters to complete programs
    • may engage in an agreement to use the Wikimedia name (or a variant). [there should be a version of the chapter/partner-org mark agreement that we are comfortable having with all such orgs, as long as their work remains aligned with the movement]
    • work closely with any chapters active in an overlapping region
(this group includes orgs more formal than ad-hoc Associations; they will all have Association status if they've asked for it, but will often be pursuing Partner Org or Chapter status, and may form subgroups within a national Chapter in some way not yet decided)
  • Wikimedia Associations:
    • form with minimal overhead, by maintaining a wiki or webpage with their goals, and publishing their contact informatino.
    • support and work in harmony with movement goals
    • are recognized by a Wikimedia-wide group tracking associations
    • may seek grants from WMF or other recognized groups for their programs
    • may engage in an agreement to use the Wikimedia name (or a variant)
[often suggested, cf. TEDx, where TED franchises its name to local aligned organizations]
[Should we state explicitly here whether there is hierarchy or not?]
[Not explicitly, we can do that by defining what decisions do groups may have a voice on above, we can restrict it by what decision an organization is limited to.]

Accountabilities of each Wikimedia movement group or entity[edit]

  • Wikimedia groups and entities are accountable TO:
    • the part of the movement that they are trying to support (e.g. Wikimedians in Ruritania, even if they are not explicitly members)
    • the rest of the Wikimedia movement (e.g. to the Wikimedia Foundation board)
    • their broader community (e.g. the people and government of Ruritania)
    • their members (e.g. the members of Wikimedia Ruritania)
  • Wikimedia groups and entities are accountable FOR:
    • adhering to the shared principles of the movement outlined above
    • helping the movement towards its goals
    • fulfilling roles and responsibilities agreed with the worldwide movement
    • managing the resources (e.g., trademarks, money, goodwill of the movement) that the movement grants them
    • governing themselves in a manner that maximizes accountability to those the group or entity is accountable to
    • accounting publicly for funds received and used
    • stating publicly the planned actions in an annual plan and budget
    • stating publicly what they did, documenting their activities
    • ensuring activities are ethical and legal
  • Mechanisms for enabling accountability:
  • Public reporting: local and global
  • Annual plans and budgets
  • Reports on activities
  • Reports on changes in governance
  • Timely annual reports of financial accounts (audited for organizations of a certain size)
  • Pro-active reporting on problems/issues encountered
  • Review body(ies) that support accountability
  • Organizations to maintain internal self-regulation and review process against a set of accountability measures developed by the organization's Board
  • Movement-level group to conduct peer review of organizations/groups based on agreed standards[3] with the ability to recommend actions[4]
  • Role of WMF Board and staff (as counterparty for agreements between Wikimedia and affiliated organizations)??

Decision making for the Wikimedia movement[edit]

  • Official recognition and permission to use the Wikimedia name is given to a group or entity through an agreement signed with the Wikimedia Foundation. This can be largely a formality based on advice from an oversight body. Should this happen through a delegated body (like ChapCom)? Would ChapCom be willing to expand its work to include review of Partner Organizations and Wikimedia Associations? Should a separate group be set up to deal with Partners and Associations?
  • An annual and ongoing process for reviewing the work and status of various groups: financial and mission audits (for the Foundation, and for other groups).
  • Goals are decided on behalf of the Wikimedia movement collaboratively by the movement, with guidance from central groups in the movement such as the Foundation and Board. How does this scale? should there be exceptions to this?
[Do we need to specify how the Foundation has legitimacy as the keystone of the movement? For example, do we specify that the board of the Wikimedia Foundation needs to be elected or selected by and for the movement that gives it authority to make movement-wide decisions?]
  • What sorts of movement-wide decision making bodies can exist? What about a community council, or a chapters council?
[what about the idea that the Foundation be split into a US chapter and a global association of chapters?]
  • Dispute resolution among Wikimedia groups and entities should be handled by a dedicated body - how should it be defined? should the WMF Board ever be involved as a last resort?

Dispute resolution mechanisms[edit]

<to be added>

Other items to consider for inclusion in the charter[edit]

Relationships between the organizational part of the movement and the editing community[edit]

Specification of roles in the movement: and relationships between components of the organizational part of the movement

  • Should incorporate elements of the activities matrix
  • Should incorporate work on new models

Legitimacy requirements[edit]

  • Should incorproate work on what constitutes a legitimate part of the organizational part of the movement (including principles for becoming and staying legitimized by communities)


  • Language
  • Mechanisms for interacting/building mutual understanding

Principles for fundraising and allocation within the movement[edit]

  • Limitations
    • What is excluded from this charter

Mechanisms for dispute resolution[edit]

  • Mediation?

Requirements for a good charter[edit]

  • Relatively focused and short document (2-4 pages)
  • Addresses difficult issues: accountability, responsibilities, transparency, commitment to reporting & auditing; mediation.
  • Doesn't step into operational decision areas
  • Not bland and generic, actually makes things clear.

Key of needed definitions[edit]

  • Wikimedia movement group
  • Wikimedia movement entity
  • Wikimedia Chapter
  • Wikimedia Partner Organization
  • Wikimedia Association
  • Wikimedian
  • Community
  • ...


  1. e.g., the priorities in the 2010 five-year plan
  2. Note: Fundraising on Wikimedia project sites requires an explicit agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation
  3. Needs to define these
  4. e.g., public recognition for best practice activities, areas for improvement, issues requiring movement action