Movement roles project/Initial Questions/Responses/Eclecticology

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Vision and Mission[edit]

  • Are you familiar and comfortable with the vision and mission of the Wikimedia Foundation?
    • Yes
  • Do you and your organization share this vision and mission?
    • Yes

Strategic Goals[edit]

The strategic planning project framed the following goals for the movement:

  • Secure the infrastructure
  • Increase global participation
  • Improve quality
  • Expand reach
  • Support innovation

With that in mind:

  • How applicable do you think these goals are to your role in the movement?
    • I note that you have used the word "movement" here instead of "foundation". This is an important distinction. Of the five goals only the security of the infrastructure is a proper role of the Foundation. Similarly, the legal structure of each chapter should be in a comparable position for the separate countries. The rest are primarily volunteer movement roles.
  • How can the Wikimedia movement best meet these goals?
    • By encouraging an environment that is less hostile, and more welcoming. While quality is important it must not be fetishized. Administrators who treat potential contributors harshly must themselves be treated harshly. Complex software processes clearly produce visually appealing results, but they drive away potential contributors. Older contributors, such as me, are not ready to struggle through opaque processes in order to contribute content on subjects that have nothing to do with software. The principle of leaving something for others to do is as important now as it was in the early days. Red links are blatantly obvious signals that there is something left to be done. What could be more wasteful than a willing volunteer who can't find anything to do?
  • Should the movement [foundation] spend its resources on goals/activities of groups that are not wholly aligned with the strategic goals?
    • Absolutely. An important part of innovation is expandable goals to prevent stagnation. The lack of new projects has been notable. The movement should also be encouraging competition. A public willingness to provide limited seed funding for rivals can only expand the perception that open access to knowledge is a benefit to the entire society, and dispel the notion that knowledge can only be maintained by monoliths.

Roles in the Wikimedia movement[edit]

  • What role do you see for you and your organization in achieving the vision, mission and strategic goals?
    • Helping to develop movement goals within a Canadian legal context, and making available material of Canadian interest from Canadian repositories.
  • What role should other groups play in achieving our movement priorities?
    • Similar goals in their respective countries.
  • What do these groups need to fulfill this role?
    • Enough funding to equip themselves for the task; access to material.
  • What do they need from others to fulfill this role?
    • Encouragement.
  • What do they need to provide others to fulfill their roles?
    • Volunteers, especially ones with a lot of free time: young ones idling their time while they surf the job market, old retired ones with a rich life experience and diminished energy who would prefer not to have boredom play a role in their wait for the grim reaper.
  • Which interactions with other groups in this movement are critical for each group to play their part?
    • Social contact to make people feel that they belong.

Entities in the Wikimedia movement[edit]

  • What should be the core tasks and roles of the Wikimedia Foundation in the movement?
    • Funding and logistics.
  • What do you think should be the core tasks and roles of a chapter in the movement?
    • Similar to the WMF but on a national level.
  • How should the role of a sub-national chapter differ from a national chapter?
    • Sub-chapters should be creations of national chapters, and directly responsible to them. They do provide a more local presence, but in any country the level of autonomy will be peculiar to the conditions in that country. In addition to arranging local meetups, they can play a key role in making local archives available to a broader audience.
  • What do you see the core tasks and roles of the chapters committee to be?
    • Co-ordination. Doing what it can to make the work of chapters easier.
  • Are there core movement tasks or roles that are not now adequately served, or that might need to be served in the future?
    • Being more pro-active in copyright issues. It is not enough to say that we host free material. We don't do enough to make the material free. Copyright paranoia abounds, and it often depends on rigidly unrealistic interpretations of law. This does not mean flagrant disregard of the law, but does allow for publication of material that is only narrowly grasped by the copyright system in accordance with published criteria.
  • What should other and new Wikimedia entities (groups that don’t fall within the current definition of a 'chapter', but share many attributes and goals) do?
    • Where a national chapter exists the role and relations of such groups need to be negotiated with that chapter (or chapters when more than one country is involved). A group such as the Catalan organization can serve a vital role, but it's cannot be a chapter.

Relationships among entities within the Wikimedia movement[edit]

  • What should be the minimum standards of transparency among Wikimedia entities – the Wikimedia Foundation, chapters, etc.?
    • Openness should be the default position. At all levels confidential material should limited to what is required by law. As much as possible meetings of members and directors should be open to public scrutiny.
  • What safeguards should be in place between entities to protect the integrity and reputation of the movement?
    • This would depend on contractual arrangements, but in a volunteer movement beyond structured entities there is precious little that can be done. Integrity and reputation are difficult to define, and mostly intangible. They can even be paradoxical in a movement based on being free and open. Working in an global international context does not make anything easier. Requiring a chapter to adhere to certain principles before it can be recognized is a useful beginning, but where such a chapter chooses to pursue its own vision there is no easy way to stop it. Legal action may be a theoretical possibility, but it is expensive and the results are by no means certain. If the action takes place in a US court as many agreements now stipulate, what chance is there that it will be enforced in the affected country? If the action is seen by the general public as a Goliath versus David action, it will just damage the reputation further.
  • To whom are the Wikimedia entities accountable? (e.g. their members, other entities in the movement, etc.)
    • The movement itself.
  • What is the right way to include various movement groups in the overall governance of the Wikimedia movement?
    • I am not so presumptuous as to believe that I have an answer for that. But at least I can think of a few characteristics. It's a problem that must be approached with flexibility and pragmatism. It needs to be an inclusive process. Its recognition of interests must be temporal as well as spatial, i.e. the newcomer must be seen as equal in importance to the founders. It must strive for consensus without intimidation. It must recognize that voting is evil if the result is that the views a tiny majority will have permanent effect. Maybe it should be a model for world governance.

Resources for entities within the Wikimedia movement[edit]

  • How should resources be secured to support the growth of the Wikimedia movement and fulfilling of the mission?
    • Growth cannot be limitless. Unlimited growth is not consistent with prudent fiscal management. The limits need to be defined.
  • How best to ensure that each Wikimedia entity has the funds it needs to a) survive and b) fulfill its mission?
    • Again, the needs must be more clearly defined. A new entity may need seed money, but to survive it must be responsible for its own core operational funding. Grants may be available if its mission is extraordinarily big.
  • How best to ensure that money is distributed to ensure that the Wikimedia movement achieves its goals in the best way?
    • The process for the allocation of scarce resources needs to be open and participatory. Scarce funds may affect the speed at which some goals are accomplished.


  • To support the growth and sustainability of the Wikimedia movement, what is the one, most important change we need to make?
    • Strive to safeguard the fiscal and political autonomy of constituent entities.
  • What change could most help you now in your role in the Wikimedia movement?
    • Travel assistance to bring key people together across a wide geographic area. Once the structure is functioning that need will diminish.


  • How would you describe your affiliation with Wikimedia?
  • Would you consider yourself to be affiliated with:
    • The Wikimedia Foundation?
      • Yes.
    • A chapter? (If so, which one?)
      • Yes, Canada.
    • A project? (If so, which one?)
      • This has varied over the years.
    • Another group? (If so, which one?)
    • None at all? (If so, feel free to elaborate.)

Anyone else?[edit]

  • Is there anybody else you would specifically recommend we ask for their views?
    • Not at the moment.