Movement roles project/Initial Questions II/Forrester

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James Forrester and Jon Huggett met in London on 2010-12-11

Entities in the Wikimedia movement[edit]

  • What should be the core tasks and roles of the Wikimedia Foundation in the movement?
    • Would like to see Foundation raising no money. All money should be raised by chapters, including a US chapter. The Foundation would then manage servers, etc. This should send a message that having a chapter is not second class to the Foundation.
  • What do you think should be the core tasks and roles of a chapter in the movement?
    • Chapter should be primary Wikimedia organization in a country. Setting up an office of the Wikimedia Foundation in a country (e.g. India) runs the risk of disempowering the chapter and confusing the message on legal liability. If Wikimedia Foundation is setting up offices in countries, it questions why we set up chapters in the first place. Wikimedia Foundation avoided setting up an office in the UK to avoid possible issues under UK libel laws. Long-term position has been that Wikimedia Foundation is US entity under US law. First UK chapter aimed to fulfill two roles: fundraising and press relations. At that time there were 2.5x contributors to Wikipedia in the UK per capita than in the US. First attempt at UK chapter was led by James Forrester, Alison Wheeler and David Gerard. Despite best of efforts it was wound up around Dec 07 or Jan 08. There were accusations of a deliberate 'screw-up', and WMUK v.1 never properly communicated the issues as they occurred or afterwards. Some of the community members outside the process, critical of these faults, formed WMUK v.2, which also has its share of problems.
    • Chapters do not in general get things done on the wiki - don't know any chapter that has got a lot of people to edit. Chapters have not been able to make it easy for new people to edit. Culture on English language wiki is much more confrontational and authoritarian than it used to be. There are now multiple hierarchies: editorial, foundation, chapter, etc. There are questions of who has more rights. Analysis of voting for members of the Wikimedia Foundation board suggests that there are two blocks: votes from the English wikipedia, who vote for people from the English Wikipedia, and others who vote for others.
    • One way to empower chapters would be to make chapters the only channel to elect board members, and remove the channel of direct election from volunteers. That said, chapter membership currently small: Germany perhaps 500, all combined about 1,000. We want people to join chapters, and for chapters to become communities. However, people feel distant from chapters, even when there is a monthly meet up. Non-Wikipedia projects feel ignored within Wikimedia, especially on technical provision


  • How would you describe your affiliation with Wikimedia?
    • First with the projects, primarily Wikipedia, then with the Foundation and the UK chapter