Talk:Affiliations Committee/RFCs/Wikimedia user groups approval process and agreements - Spring 2015

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Introduction and background Wikimedia user groups approval process and agreements - Spring 2015 request for comments Frequently Asked Questions


The following discussion is closed per the RFC's timeline. --Varnent (talk)(COI) 18:01, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Comments from Pine in personal capacity[edit]

  • I like the simplicity of the new agreement and the promised 48-hour turnaround time.
  • I would encourage a promise of a 1-week turnaround time for related trademark documents, questions and agreements with WMF Legal.
  • Typo: "contact informations".
  • I had some discussion with Stephen LaPorte about the limitations on lobbying that were contained in the previous agreement. The new agreement appears to completely remove prohibitions on lobbying. Is that wise? This goes further than the scope of the changes that I proposed to Stephen.
  • There are some user groups that appear not to be in compliance with the naming conventions stated in this new document. Will they be required to change their names? In some jurisdictions, name changes may be time consuming, costly, or damaging to their brands.
  • I would be in favor of a more flexible naming policy for user groups. "Cascadia Wikimedians User Group" is a mouthful. More succinct naming conventions would be good. I believe that "Cascadia Wikimedians" by itself would have not created legal problems in the jurisdictions in which we operate. I would hope that local affiliates would have more knowledge of their local laws, conventions and risks than the Wikimedia Foundation does, and I would hope that the Foundation and the Affiliations Committee would assume good faith when groups propose names that are perhaps technically at odds with WMF's naming conventions but may be perfectly suitable for the intended local use.

Thanks for working on these issues. --Pine 07:04, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

Hi Pine, thanks for the feedback. After reviewing our rules on lobbying, I was able to simplify in the user group agreement since the WMF is covered through language in the WMF grant agreements. The code of conduct requires that a group's is consistent with the Wikimedia mission, so excessive lobbying may not be appropriate for other reasons as well. Thanks, Stephen LaPorte (WMF) (talk) 22:06, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

No Objections[edit]

Thanks for asking for feedback. Thanks for involving the community at large. Thanks for revising the policy. The proposal makes sense. Personally I don't have objections. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 19:20, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

Comments from Bluerasberry[edit]

Everything that I see includes good changes. I object to nothing and this could be adopted as it is.

Here are some comments:

  • I like the form. It has been a barrier for many groups to become established only because they were unable to understand the nature of the previous application process.
  • Thanks for presenting the Wikimedia Community Logo with the trademarked logo. I like that groups have a default option which does not include entering a trademark agreement.
  • Continuation of the previously established major requirements are great - at least three people, two of whom are contacts, who provide a little information about their intentions is an ideal minimum expectation
  • The process works as it is, but I wish to demand that all user groups have a wikipage. Without a Wikipage there might be no obvious way for the Wikimedia community to send messages to a a given usergroup, and I feel like it is required to have some public communication space where the community can interact with a usergroup. I am most concerned about having a channel to register and collect complaints. When everything goes right then a wikipage is not necessary, but if someone has a grievance then they should be able to post it and a group's own page is the most obvious place to do this. If a group does not wish to make a wikipage, then another option could be that AffCom could post this form to some public place and that could be the default wikipage.
  • The default name "Wikimedia Community User Group X" is for the benefit of the Wikimedia Foundation but is a burden to the community. It is not reasonable to expect that most people could find that to be a desirable name for a group, and indeed, it is unlike any of the names for the Wikimedia chapters which were named before legal restrictions became greater. I might like more community consultation on this issue. If it is too difficult to find common ground between the Wikimedia Foundation and the Wikimedia community for an easy way to share the trademarked term "Wikimedia", then for the sake of the community, I advocate that the default name for user groups be "Wiki X", where X is any word and "wiki" is a generic term which is not trademarked. Using the term "wiki" has the benefits of not burdening a community of non-lawyers with obligations for legal trademark compliance, giving people an attractive word which already is recognized, and shorting the titles. An alternative would be to offer two default options - user groups could apply to name themselves "Wikimedia Community User Group X" or "Wiki X", just as they choose whether they want to enter into a trademark agreement for the logo or to use the Community Logo.
  • This process currently presumes that user groups would like to affiliate with the Wikimedia Foundation through AffCom. There are benefits and drawbacks to having this kind of affiliation. I worry a bit that this form encourages community groups to seek this affiliation, when in fact it might be better both for the community group and WMF if certain groups could form and not establish that affiliation. As I understand, the major benefits associated with being a usergroup are the right to use certain trademarks and the privilege of accessing certain kinds of support from the Wikimedia Foundation, including grants. Use of the trademarks requires affiliation, but I am not sure that accessing the other support has to require affiliation, and I am not sure that all groups would find access to the other support persuasive enough to pay the costs of affiliation. I wish there could be a category of user groups which are not compelled by default to enter into an agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • In "User group agreement and code of conduct" I propose changing "You are independent from the Wikimedia Foundation and other groups" to "You are independent from the Wikimedia Foundation and other Wikimedia groups". I would like to give space for existing community groups to extend their presence into Wikimedia projects through the usergroup system. I think this rule is only related to independence from other Wikimedia groups anyway.
  • Rule 7 says "You may not engage in illegal activity,". The LGBT user group includes in its mission the promotion of LGBT rights, which in some places is an illegal activity. We have gotten notice that some of the people who access information about LGBT issues do so in places where this is not legal, and our members continue to publish knowing this. Similarly Wiki Project Med publishes information about abortion, illicit drugs, and other prohibited topics, and it criticizes certain drugs with health messages or warnings which some governments do not allow to be published. Sometimes the medicine group does this knowing that the information is presented out of compliance with law in some places. I am comfortable with the statement "you may not engage in illegal activity" remaining in this agreement so long as the Wikimedia Foundation is comfortable condoning illegal subversive activities related to education, human rights, and free speech, especially in cases where there is precedent that the law is ignored. Wikipedia projects are inherently revolutionary and their existence breaks some laws.

Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:19, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Re user group benefits including "access to grants": that's incorrect. WMF has been giving grants to individuals and groups regardless of affiliation status since 2011. Asaf (WMF) (talk) 18:45, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Clear purpose and scope[edit]

I like the new process and the form, as it definitely looks easier than the current one. However, I see the serious issue that the requirement of clear purpose and scope is being dropped.

I do not really understand what this change means. Does it mean that from now on there will be a possibility to create two user groups with the same scope (e.g. Wikimedia Community User Group Exampleland and Wikimedia Exampleland Community User Group, both created for "promoting Wikimedia projects in Exampleland") and they will be just introduced to each other, without any efforts to make them work together? Or will it mean that virtually anyone may form a group without a clear goal (e.g. "there are three of us and we want to promote Wikimedia projects worldwide")? If I am wrong, please specify what is the reason and expected impact of such change?

I think that any user group must (not should) have a wiki page with clear purpose and scope provided, otherwise people will neither join them (as they do not know ythe purpose) nor cooperate with them (as they do not know if the idea is in the scope of the group).

Overall I see a positive impact of the easier application process, but the requirement of clear purpose and scope should be kept, otherwise we might get user groups duplicating each other — NickK (talk) 16:01, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Seconded. I don't think AffCom could possibly stop considering this issue altogether, but I'm a little confused that it seems to not be present as a criterion. ResMar 21:11, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Comments from Oona[edit]

Dear all, congratulations for such efforts in improving the approval process for Wikimedia user groups. I have a couple of comments/questions:

  • While I appreciate (a lot!) you trying to make the process simpler and more expedite, why 48 hours? Wouldn't a week be fast enough for an approval like this and less overwhelming/burden? Is there a particular reason to make it in such short period? Remember you're also volunteers, 2 days in different timezones is almost nothing. I think one week is very reasonable for both parts and more doable.
  • In my opinion, the description of the new process is unclear on whether a transparent, public page is still needed. From the fact that the form requires the link, I'm deducing it's still the case. But the way you put, it's looking like a page describing the group, its plan, with endorsements etc. is no longer needed. From what I understand, it's still a required step to put a group in place. Is that correct?
  • Re participation of 3 active members: I am someone who advocates for the fact that editing is not the only way of participating positively of the projects. But wouldn't the criteria used in Wikimedia projects soft enough (5+ edits per month)? We're not talking about public domain or one specific project. And we're not requiring that every member is active online. That would be more consistent with policies across projects and wouldn't become a great obstacle, I guess.

--Oona (talk) 22:49, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

  • I'm curious to know whether any of the above comments (not only mine, but all others') produced any thoughts on this proposal (as per its closure, they didn't seem to have produced any change on it)? It's disappointing to contribute and hear/read no feedback/comments from Affcomm after all.--Oona (talk) 19:03, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

Quick comment[edit]

Thanks for posting this RFC, the details look good. (also: hello @Oona:) SJ talk  12:08, 6 May 2015 (UTC)