Talk:Affiliations Committee/Archives/2013

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Call for Candidates 2013

Hi all of you, I'd like to ask why Call for Candidates 2013 collection of candidates and their election is nonpublic event for wm-community? It will be logical that people might have option discuss candidates for this position. Thanks for reply. Regards --Chmee2 (talk) 17:57, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Hi Chmee2, thanks for your question. Have you seen the talk page of the call? The reasons elaborated there apply here, as well, as the consideration that Affiliations Committee membership is not a popularity contest. If you have concerns about specific potential applicants, please e-mail Lodewijk privately.
The question of public nomination will most likely be re-considered again before the next call for candidates at the end of 2013. --Bence (talk) 18:17, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
Hi Bence, thanks for your reply. I did not see this page, thank for link. I see that my question is not new one and I have to say that I agree partly with Abbasjnr. Best regards --Chmee2 (talk) 18:56, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

List of members

Every time I visit this page I'm confused because I can't see the list of members and I have to check the subpage instead. Can we have the actual list on the page and the chart at the bottom or somewhere else? The chart lacks crucial information like language and contains a lot of stuff of little relevance about past members, plus changes are harder to understand (the last one wasn't reflected to the actual list, by the way). --Nemo 22:54, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

I agree - and have gone ahead and updated the table and transcluded the current members portion to the main page. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 22:11, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Local chapter FAQ

Dear colleagues! Please check and update status of this page. If this page have only historical interest, his should be marked as {{historical}}. If not - it should be updated, and should be removed old warning by User:notafish. In the second case, I suggest also consider about renaming to Wikimedia chapter FAQ.--Kaganer (talk) 09:48, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

It appears to only be for historical purposes - although reclaiming it at some point might be a worthy goal. In the meantime, I have marked it as {{historical}}. Thank you for pointing this out! --Varnent (talk)(COI) 07:00, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I linked all translated versions, and also marked their as historical. Note, that this widely linked page (near 150 pages are linked here), and its "historical" status - it's not very fine.--Kaganer (talk) 09:12, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

$40,000 Hong Kong junket?

I have read this with much interest, and I am wondering if Affcom will release a breakdown of how this $40,000 is being spent? Russavia (talk) 11:46, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

This is the estimated (maximum) cost of bringing the ten committee members together at Wikimania (with travel being the predominant part of the costs [flights, accommodation, food reimbursement, visas] – ~90%, and meeting rooms and meeting costs forming a tiny part [~5%], with the rest being miscellaneous expenses like the cost to register for Wikimania and rounding), the actual costs would hopefully be slightly lower, one has to budget such an amount if they want to send any ten people to Wikimania regardless of their role (staff, board, volunteer committees like AffCom). A report with the public outcomes of the meeting is planned, which will include the final amount spent. --Bence (talk) 15:40, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
It should be noted that only 9 committee members would require any degree of funding, given that User:Yuyu lives in Hong Kong and is part of the organising committee. I think you guys should also be answering questions as to why this meeting in Hong Kong is necessary and why it couldn't have been held in Milan just the other day. This is $40,000 worth of donation money meant to aid in the development of Wikipedia; not provide all-expense paid junkets to people on the right committees. Russavia (talk) 00:45, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Well, the AffCom is the committee that help establish each chapter and group in the movement. I dont see any problem in giving then a meeting per year (let's consider the board go up and down the world in a 4 to 6 month basis for their meetings). Milan wont do because not all of then attend the Chapters conference. And considering that the 2nd day of the unconference in Wikimania is the Chapter day, no one is better suited to be there than the AffCom (also remember that some AffCom members request scholarship like the true wikipedians they are or are members of chapters with money to send then to Wikimania). We spend a lot of money in places we shouldn't but this trip ain't one. Béria Lima msg 02:15, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
All ten members of the Committee are listed on the list of participants, Beria — some of them are just mentioned as their chapters' representatives. Just like there is a pre-conference day on Wikimania that could be used for this sort of meeting, there was also the Open Thursday that should've been used for this purpose. And as far as I understand Bence's comment above, they are requesting funding for all members of the Committee that live outside of Hong Kong — which means that they are requesting $40,000 on the sole basis of being committee members. odder (talk) 08:57, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Just as context, not responding to a single particular person: 1) formally, this budget hasn't passed. Minor detail. 2) Regarding Milan, it only became clear such a large number of AffCom members would participate in the week before the meeting. This did not allow any proper preparation or agenda drafting. I personally did have a preference for having a meeting in Milan, but given the time table, that wasn't an option any longer. 3) There will definitely be some further explanation on why we feel a meeting is necessary in the first place - in due time, when the resolution is adopted & published. That is also the moment to discuss further details of it, if at all. 4) Open Thursday wasn't as open as it might sound. There were several meetings going on that day, in parallel. I was for example only present thanks to the fact that I was organizing a workshop on WLM on Thursday. That automatically meant that I couldn't simply skip that workshop to have another meeting. The same might be the case for others, who had to attend the Education meetup or the WCA meeting due to the hat they were wearing that meeting.
Anyway, probably it is more helpful to discuss this topic when the resolution is published so that the context is a bit clearer. I can understand this discussion must be complicated and opaque right now, because you can only see part of the picture. Effeietsanders (talk) 12:36, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Lodewijk, I think _now_ is the best time to discuss this, since once the resolution has been passed (=decision has been made), it'll be too late to revert it. After all, don't people discuss first, then pass resolutions afterwards? Abbasjnr (talk) 09:42, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

This resolution has now been published at Affiliations Committee/Resolutions/Budget request for 2013 annual meeting – April 2013. Please note that technically the underlying budget request, similar to the one for this fiscal year will be submitted to the WMF shortly, and they will need to incorporate it into their annual plan before we can truly spend it. I think a number of points have already been raised regarding the meeting, though they might not have been put in systematic order:

  • The Committee has the task to guide emerging affiliations, while at the same time it is our task to define what it means in practice to become an affiliate of type X, and are asked to provide advice on a number of issues related to affiliates (are the models working?, what kind of mentoring to provide them?, what to include in peer review among affiliates?, etc.). In practice, many of these tasks are suited to online discussion, but some discussions are just not taking place at the right pace in the online environment (especially as many require brainstorming, confronting ideas, and similar mental exercises which are not ideal if people are not online at the same time or are forced to the linearity of text messages). For this reason we have introduced semi-regular voice calls inside the committee, but there are still issues that are best dealt with in-person.
  • The Committee has planned a meeting for 2013 for these reasons, we were not decided whether to have it at the Milan conference or Wikimania. This supposed "junket" is neither a new development, or a secret one, nor is it a junket. The meeting was included in our public budget request, and has been moved to the 2013/4 request with an updated budget and a confirmation that essential internal pre-conditions for a meeting are met.
  • In the end for the reasons that we are volunteers and there were not enough free resources to organize a meeting in Milan (it requires a lot of time and involvement from a multitude of members, or if they are so inclined, from Committee advisers like Tomasz was), and thus the decision was postponed whether to have it at Wikimania this year or not at all. A significant pre-condition for having a meeting anywhere is to have a clear idea of what we need to discuss, what we want to achieve and to balance that against the costs. This condition is being met in the run-up to the proposed Wikimania meeting, but it was not met for Milan. For this reason, instead of a meeting at Milan at great expense and without clear outcomes, the Committee has decided to send three "individual diplomats" to the meeting with their own sets of goals, which was much easier to finalize than to organize an official meeting.
  • In Milan a large number of Committee members happened to be present (although not in a configuration to make a meeting feasible, as people arrived on different days and had numerous pre-existing commitments related to the role they were there in), nevertheless, by sacrificing some of the time from their chapters (e.g. by skipping sessions) or their free time (instead of sight-seeing hanging out at an informal Committee dinner) we have been able to achieve progress on a number of issues (many of which are mentioned as particular year-long challenges in our 2012 report). It was recognized or reconfirmed that an official meeting of the Committee could be very powerful if such an unofficial one was able to achieve results by taking away some of the time from other entities (as someone put in the blog comments, by "cheating" those entities).
  • Regarding the financials, as mentioned, following the WMF travel policy and flying 9 people to Hong Kong is not cheap - unfortunately it turns out it is more expensive than we originally thought based on calculations made a year ago on slightly different assumptions and a different geographic distribution of members. Doing this in Milan would have been slightly cheaper (the conference is a few days shorter and geographically closer to some, but not all, AffCom members, also there are no AffCom members local to Milan as there is one living in Hong Kong), but unfortunately it would have not been cheap at all. (We would have needed to fly 10 people, and the chapters would have had to send replacements for those representatives that were coming with AffCom – if you fly with Affcom you wear your AffCom hat in the meeting.)
  • The WMF Board liaisons and certain staff members were all informed of the above and their opinion, and in certain cases their approval was sought repeatedly before the decision was taken to have a meeting this year. With their support, the condition of having a good agenda and plan for Wikimania (including a presentation and a possible AffCom booth), I am confident this meeting will be useful. It is ultimately up to the WMF to confirm if they are ready to pay for it based on the information we have submitted and that they have from other sources. –Bence (talk) 13:24, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
As one of the two board liaisons to AffCom I attended a chunk of the first in-person meeting of what was then ChapCom last year in March 2012 (during the Chapters Conference in Berlin) and I can't emphasize enough how useful it was to meet in person. Many issues which had gotten to a particular point on email threads and then got stuck there, were picked up and discussed and brought to consensus. So much got done!
Given the critical role that AffCom plays in the movement, the transition that AffCom is currently going through (from its previous avatar as ChapCom), the enlargement of its scope and workload (to take on Thematic Organizations and User Groups in addition to Chapters), the complexities it is dealing with (such as the naming conventions of new affiliates), and the induction of new members, I believe it is absolutely vital for AffCom to have a formal in-person meeting this year (and actually, moving ahead, every year). An annual AffCom meeting is a must. This will only strengthen it as a team and make it more efficient and effective.
Parallelly, we see the same pay-offs from in-person meetings in our work on the WMF board. Things progress up to a point on wiki and on email, and then we meet in person, and that often brings it all together in a way that is more or greater than the sum of its parts. Meaning that in addition to working through our planned agenda, we derive many unplanned benefits from meeting face to face that we could not have foreseen.Bishdatta (talk) 18:25, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarifications. I had initially thought that 40K was a lot of money since I thought that most AffCom members (who are mostly Chapter Representatives) were going to attend Wikimania regardless of the outcome of this resolution, since I had assumed that most of you would have gotten scholarships (through WMF or Chapters) to attend. Abbasjnr (talk) 11:39, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
Essentially for reasons of transparency and the notion of AffCom doing AffCom work at WM13 on AffCom's budget, members were not actively considered for scholarships. It's impossible to know what would have happened if they had been considered for scholarships - but in this particular circumstance, scholarships were not committed or held up due to AffCom's decision to hold a meeting at WM13. Again, it's impossible to know, but I suspect at least a few of the members would have found other methods to get there - but as has been pointed out - doing so would have distracted them from potential AffCom tasks. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 16:40, 7 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Abbas. Overall, the costs would be similar to the movement in either case, but it is probably more transparent and conceptually better if people who are going exclusively for AffCom business are paid out from the AffCom budget. (Ultimately, many of us wear multiple hats in the movement and each entity and person has to balance how they divide their time and whether they allow their members to divide their attention; personally I am very proud of our members and the huge amount of volunteer work they put in in various forms inside and outside AffCom, but when they travel on AffCom budget, I want them to be available for AffCom business whenever required – I could not make the same request if they traveled on somebody else's account.) –Bence (talk) 18:04, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
I asked some questions at on the talk page of the resolution. odder (talk) 17:25, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Query about community access to the process

Dear AffCom members

It concerns me that it's very hard to locate formal on-wiki applications for WMF affiliation. I see no way for members of the worldwide community to assess the actual applications, nor to provide feedback on them. There are vague hints of some kind of process (yellow means "in active contact" as of "last update" date" – right).

This seems to be quite the opposite to the Foundation's grantmaking infrastructure, where things are conducted in the open and community input is encouraged.

In view of the Board's emphasis on "transparency", could the community know whether Affcom's business is conducted entirely behind closed doors? Tony (talk) 08:39, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Hi Tony, thank you for copy-editing the thematic org. creation page, and for your concerns regarding transparency.
I would consider that most of our business is conducted in the open on Meta. This graphic explains schematically what we do (there is also a less cleared up internal document on Meta on this). To illustrate the four steps:
The First Contact stage usually happens via e-mail or in-person, but the groups will generally have a profile page here on Meta clearly linked from either Wikimedia Chapters, Wikimedia User Groups or Wikimedia Thematic Organizations. The interested public is free to interact with the groups either through Meta, or the communications channels they mention, and they can sign up.
Once a group is ready to move on towards recognition, they will usually indicate this to us, and we enter the second stage. This involves a Q&A that is conducted here on Meta (for example here) on the talk page of the given group's profile. In case of user groups and chapters there is normally enough evidence to suspect that the involved local communities are already aware of the application, although AffCom will proactively reach out to other established groups for a comment on a new affiliate in an overlapping region. In case of thematic organizations that can have a more cross-cutting or international focus, we specifically invite community comments (e.g. here). Following the Q&A there is an internal discussion whether the group as a group meets the requirements for a given type of affiliate (are they viable, are they clear on their goals, do they have enough members, etc.).
Once we have determined that we consider the group to be viable, but not before, we will review their bylaws. Comments on the bylaws are always posted here on Meta, and community members can provide their own feedback (for example, here). Bylaws can be easily found through the portals for the given affiliation types. Following the bylaw review, which might involve changes to the bylaws and a second review based on those changes, we will once again confirm that the group meets the requirements of viability (as certain bylaw structures could have a bearing on that, see e.g. here) as well as requirements that are organizational in nature (being a membership organization, and similar).
Finally, we will draft and vote on a resolution internally, which is then published online at Affiliations_Committee/Resolutions. Community members are invited to translate the pages, comment on them, and to share the news with their communities. Depending on the type of resolution, it will be announced on wikimedia-l immediately (in case of user groups) or once the Board confirms them (in case of chapters and thematic organizations).
All in all, I would consider that concerned community members have numerous opportunities to provide input into the process, but they might not all be aware of these possibilities. If you have any suggestions, we would welcome them. –Bence (talk) 09:35, 7 June 2013 (UTC)
Bence, thank you: this is very useful, set out clearly. Tony (talk) 05:29, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

Recent copyedits

I was going to mark the last revision for translation but I saw several issues in the recent text. I've not checked history but someone should check it still makes sense. --Nemo 19:17, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Is a strategic plan not required before affiliation?

Dear Affcom members,

I come here as a member of the GAC and at Asaf's suggestion. A funding application by a chapter, now under consideration by the GAC, comes after it received a start-up grant of some $10K last year. The current application states that after this start-up grant, "the next logical step would be to be able to develop a strategic plan, under the definition of what we want to acquire, and how we want to do so, constructing and defining our Mission, Vision and Values, as a local Chapter."

In response to my query about why the WMF is being asked to fund this (leaving aside why any financial support is required for "defining" in an essentially online community), Asaf said: "It may be surprising, but yes, you can indeed be recognized as a Wikimedia chapter without a stable board (just any board is enough...), and certainly without a strategic plan. ... Whether we ought to recognize chapters without strategies is a general point, best discussed with AffCom. It bears on this proposal only insofar as the absence of a strategic plan may make one less confident about WMCL's potential for impact, and that's fair."

The Meta page for the chapter was updated after I pointed out that it was threadbare and out of date—which was strange this far into the chapter's timeline since it was affiliated. Asaf commented, in the same thread, that "it would behoove an organization asking for a significant amount of money to make sure its online profile is a little more up to date".

The sequence of events seems to be out of order. My questions to Affcom are:

  1. Should an applicant for affiliation first provide clear evidence of a strategic plan and that it is capable of communicating these to the Wikimedia movement on a well-kept and up-to-date page on Meta?
  2. Is AffCom prepared to provide modest advice and assistance to an applicant on these matters before deciding whether its application should succeed?

I should clarify that my queries are by no means criticisms of any particular application or of the Wikimedians who work hard to develop offline affiliates. This seems to be a broader, systemic issue—one that involves guiding emerging organisations within the WM movement towards optimal organisation and growth.

Tony (talk) 06:19, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

  1. Why would it?
  2. Do you mean, if asked by the chapter? --Nemo 21:18, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Tony for the question, we'll discuss it inside AffCom and get back to you in a few days with a reply on the general principles (divorced from any on-going grant application). –Bence (talk) 13:29, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Once again, thanks for your questions, Tony. We discussed them inside AffCom to see what nuance we can add to Asaf's clear summary.
In general, strategic plans are not required as a pre-condition for affiliation. Affiliates do need to have some clear goals of what they want to do once they are founded (or during the process, already), but they do not have to have ready strategic plans.
There are a number of reasons that we don't see a problem with creating strategic plans only once the organisation has been established. Factors involved include the fact that creating a plan is difficult and requires both involvement (the members, the local community, the wider Wikimedia community, etc.) and information (assessment of what is possible, of what is available), not to mention skills, which are usually more clearly available once the organisation is through the task of founding (which in parts of the world, relying only on volunteers, can often take over a year) and a stage of growing out of grasping opportunities to one of creating them.
In our experience strategic planning requires skills and time, often outside expertise (see e.g. this pilot project that was unfortunately abandoned). And as chapters are not necessarily online communities, planning meetings and face to face interaction will require money in most cases.
We at AffCom can provide modest advice if approached on the subject, but if you are referring to the grant application - we would not comment on a grant of an established affiliate. (We do facilitate however grants for affiliates to be; and we would probably welcome in general if the WMF Grants Programme could be used to provide resources for strategic planning.)
Hope this explanation helps, let me know if you have suggestions or more questions. --Bence (talk) 14:49, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
Bence, thanks for your reply, lucid as usual. But I'm not entirely sold on the idea that "assessment of what is possible, of what is available", and at least a preliminary plan, couldn't be put on-wiki in the process of applying for affiliation. Is there not a half-way position here? To turn it upside-down, it might be easier to attract new members to the affiliate if the inaugural members have a clear, written idea of the plan over the subsequent year or two ... and even draft a longer-term plan. Tony (talk) 08:03, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

reasonable time for responses

Hi!... Just in case it went to the spam folder again, please check your mail.Thelmadatter (talk) 20:24, 10 October 2013 (UTC)