Talk:Chapters Council

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Structure - Model A[edit]

I do preffer the model A (the model B would be hell now - and we only have 35 chapters) and unworkable in some years (can you imagine a Council with 100 members?). But i have some questions question:

  • How would the members be elected?
  • And the representative? Would not be good have 8 members of WMDE (chapters used only as example) and 2 from WMFR (again, only a example).
  • What is a "Established member", a "Annual member" and a "Non-chapter member"? We need some definition here.

And i do agree with the "no-paid-people-from-chapters-or-WMF" policy. Béria Lima msg 12:36, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Why would 35 or 100 be a problem? The UN has over 300, and most international bodies cope quite well with giving everyone some form of representation. Craig Franklin 12:39, 19 August 2011 (UTC).
(EC-ed :|) Unlike the U.N. and other international agencies, we don't send delegates whose job is merely to sit in those assemblies. Wikimedians have lives of their own too, which more often than not can conflict with their Wikimedian lives. At the same time, I think we're not yet ready to handle decisions on such a scale, although Model B would be ideal in the long run.
On Beria's second point, I think we can elect members from geographic constituencies: maybe two members from North America, two from South America, four from EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and four from Asia and Australia. Of course, this would require twelve members, not ten, but at least the geographical distribution of the chapters is well-reflected in the council's composition. --Sky Harbor (talk) 12:42, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
What does geography have to do with due representation? Also, it's a coucil of chapters, not of continents. sebmol ? 12:57, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
It was in response to Beria's point that given Model A, there were no safeguards which would prevent, let's say, one or two chapters dominating the council, or chapters from a particular geographic locale dominating the council. Geography and due representation are intertwined in the sense that chapters from Europe, for example, are not always in the best position to reflect the position of the Asian chapters and vice-versa. --Sky Harbor (talk) 13:15, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
The reason I offered Model B was to avoid some of the questions regarding proportionality in representation (do you base it on members, budget, employees, projects, geography?) - by suggesting a simple, yet equally flawed model of equal representation. I don't really see a problem with a council of 35 or 100 members. There are tried and true methods for how work can be done in bodies of such size that can easily be employed here as well. I don't, however, think that it would be good to not have any one chapter represented at all just for the sake of keeping the size of the council small. Remember that, for this to be effective, the council needs to be able to speak with one voice. It cannot do that really if chapters are left out of discussions determining what that one voice says. sebmol ? 12:57, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with having 2-3 WMF representatives, maybe 1 non-voting observer. I have added my opinion about Model B below. Thanks. Theo10011 19:03, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Scope and Responsibility[edit]

How the council would deal with cooperatives like Iberocoop? Béria Lima msg 12:36, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

However both sides wish to. They could be incorporated into the council as a subgroup, or stay on their own with some support from the council, or completely do their own thing. I don't think there needs to be a decision made on that up front. sebmol ? 12:58, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Council members may hold no other official position in a chapter[edit]

Craig Franklin asked why I added that. My reasoning is simple: I wanted to get people on that council that weren't burdened by other responsibilities within their chapter. Time is precious, especially with volunteer positions. By eliminating outright any opportunity for taking on too much (yes, that does happen), we can be somewhat sure that the members of the council have sufficient time and attention span to fulfill their duties as council members. sebmol ? 13:17, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

+1 notafish }<';> 22:11, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
I like this type of restriction for appointment, however I think it needs to be more defined.
I think the restriction should be limited to exclude only the chapter management positions. If a chapter employs someone, and they have time to help the council, that shouldnt be a problem. If a chapter has a non-executive position like 'GLAM representative' or 'System administrator', where the position provides delegation or access but not authority, that shouldnt be a problem.
Also worth considering now is the possibility that council members may be elected into a chapter position. If they have chapter experience, or are good at their chapter council role, they may feel that they need to be a candidate in an election for a chapter position if needed. For example, if a chapter board member resigns unexpectedly, a chapter council member may be the most suitable replacement in the short term. In this scenario, I think it is better for them to remain on the chapters council until their term expires. They may be unable to assist the council as much as before, however mid-term re-appointments to the chapters council are time costly and the new person may disrupt the chapters council. John Vandenberg 22:44, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
Or, the mid-term replacement might be a good way for someone to figure out whether they are suited for that sort of work ;)
I can see the challenge, but I can also see the opportunity. In general, I would say that council members can run for chapter positions but have to resign if they succeed in the election.
Regarding non-executive volunteers or staff as representatives, I'm torn. The argument that it would be best to have someone who can dedicate his time and attention to fulfilling his responsibilities still holds. I don't know. sebmol ? 23:09, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
I am not a fan of the requirement to not hold any official position in a chapter - I am afraid this will give an unfair advantage to the older chapters. Usually the older chapters have some volunteers who are (no longer) not on the board or some similar body but who are still willing to go through boring documents and boring discussions. Younger chapters usually have less people outside the board who are at the same time experienced about which problems play in their and other chapters.
I think it is more important to make it very explicit that this is not a function where you are representing your chapter, and that all discussions should happen in an open fashion, at least to all chapters - asking for imput when timely feasible.
In any case "no official position" is too vague a definition - because that could also include working groups or committees if (officially) appointed by the board/general assembly. Effeietsanders 11:09, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
Ah, I'm not sure I understood the "no official position in the chapter" right. Actually, I don't agree with this. While it could be recommanded not to, it shouldn't be forbidden, for the reasons Lodewijk points out. notafish }<';> 01:00, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
"I think it is more important to make it very explicit that this is not a function where you are representing your chapter" - Prohibiting double responsibilities is a way to make that very explicit. How is it supposed to work if, say, a chapter's VP also gets elected as a representative to the chapter council? As the VP, he's bound to primarily take care of the interests of his chapter. As a member of the chapters council, he's bound to primarily take care of the common interests of all chapters assembled. I don't see any easy way to resolve that in case of conflict. sebmol ? 03:33, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
There are such conflicts all the time in Wikimedia. If you are editing, if you're active on chapcom, if you're in an arbitration committee or on the board of a chapter - double functions are nothing new. You should just make sure that as you're acting as a chapcom member, your responsibility lies with the movement reviewing candidate chapters, and not with the candidate itself, a specific chapter that may be threatened by it etc. The same goes with this body. I do agree that it will likely be slightly more complicated. And yes, forbidding it is a way to make it very explicit - but as I point out above, it also has some major downsides. Effeietsanders 06:12, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
Just to clarify that I interpret your comment above correctly: your objection is that older chapters would be at an advantage because they are more likely to find a volunteer for the council seat than a young chapter. Correct? Is there anything else? sebmol ? 07:19, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
@Sebmol: Besides the more obvious arguments such as 'making sure to have the best minds in that council', of 'creating a basic braindrain from some chapters if the volunteer is forced to choose between the board and the council' and also that 'board members would have their feet in the mud, and might be better able to grasp what the real issues are' - yes, that would be the most important point. Effeietsanders 09:18, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
@sebmol Please let us learn from the past not repeat the impossible rhethoric of "members do not represent their chapter's interest but that of the whole" we lived through with the Foundation's chapter selected board seats. Of course they do represent their chapter's interests within the Council. That they should have the common interests of chapters as a whole in mind while making decisions is definitely important, but you won't change the fact that they'll be appointed following their capacity of bringing forward one chapter's interests or there is no point in having chapters themselves (s)electing the representatives to the Council and anyone could (s)elect them. There is indeed no easy way to resolve that in case of conflict, but I have to agree with Lodewijk here, it is up to the person to make the right decisions with the right hat on. I hear you about the potential for difficulties, and I agree that it should be specifically pointed out that having an "independant" representative (read: not from the board) is a desired outcome, for all the reasons you mentioned, it is still possible, for all the reasons Lodewijk mentioned. notafish }<';> 07:14, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Model B[edit]

Model B doesn't seem scalable. As the number of chapter increases, I would say a thresh-hold of 50, with 50 elected members speaking for the council things will get complicated. The signal to noise ratio would increase and only create disagreements. Even the internal deliberations and discussion will start to get a lot inefficient and ineffective when certain members don't completely agree or are generally unavailable or pre-disposed at the moment. Sky harbor's suggestion seems reasonable if we do this by continents.

Either way, the downside of full representation and individual voice for every chapter would hit the same problem we are trying to avoid. The noise ratio would go up and individual voices would take away from the one common issue and concern between all chapters, similar to Internal-l. I seriously hope we consider the full implication of this model, we need one voice that all representatives agree on, we also have to account for internal disagreements that can and will arise. Individually this would only lead to fragmentation of different opinions. Theo10011 18:57, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

we can have individual representatives, or members on a mailing list to provide full representation for everyone. But I hope we keep the actual council limited to a certain number of manageable seats (10-12), so they remain efficient. I agree with members not holding any official position requirement. I disagree that there is a need for 2-3 WMF representatives, maybe one official observer. Theo10011 19:01, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
In the offline world, there are a lot of different methods of how deliberative bodies composed for 35 or 70 or 600 people get business done. It tends to be somewhat formalized, but can actually be very efficient. It almost always includes specialization of some sort through things like working groups centered around specific topics.
Have we managed to adopt these methods for our conversations until now? No, not really. But then, there are really no deliberative bodies comprised of representatives within the Wikimedia universe, aside from the boards of the Foundation and chapter boards. I'm confident it's doable. And, if it works, it doesn't leave any chapter out, which is, in my opinion, a very important prerequisite to the council's success. sebmol ? 19:26, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
OK, call me Thomas. I need to see it with my own eyes. Can you give me concrete examples of where it works, and most importantly, how? :) notafish }<';> 22:07, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
@Thomas: My example would be deliberative bodies like state senates or the boards of directors of private universities in the US: a representative assembly organized along specialized working groups or committees with its own selected leadership driving things forward. Why should we not be able to replicate something that has been around for hundreds of years like the US Senate (without all the arcane rules and traditions)? sebmol ? 22:15, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Second Revision[edit]

I've revised Model B and fleshed out a few details. Comments would be gladly appreciated. sebmol ? 12:43, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

I've restructured the beginning to be more "fluent" [1] and added a clause that no representative can be in two working groups [2]. Although I don't see it as desirable or practical that all members are part of one working group (you can't force anyone to work on anything they have no interest in). Or did I not understand your intent there? notafish }<';> 19:10, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
Being in a workinggroup is an individual commitment and could lead to give all those chapters voices and influence which are actually missing. Your extension restrict this to a single workinggroup. I can understand that but at the saem time I am not sure if this wouldn't increase problems with establishing necessary groups. Couldn't we find a wording which let the counsil decide not only the number and topics of the working groups but also the composition? Suggestion: Each representative would also be a member of one of these committees, membership in more than one committee should be an exception.--lyzzy 21:07, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm happy with the exception part, but I still need to understand why we need everyone to be part of a working group. In an ideal world, a working group "works" and if all members are in them, that makes pretty good working groups, doesn't it? notafish }<';> 18:11, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
I only added the working groups bit here to add some practical dimension (and regret it already). I don't find the question of working groups, who's in them, what subjects they cover, or even what responsibilities they have, significant for the overall structure of the council. In fact, I would leave the inner workings of the council mostly to them. sebmol ? 19:06, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
I've intergrated it to the above section and cut all of those details. Could that work, what do you think? --lyzzy 21:46, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
Comprehension question: Which association is meant in to oversee the activities of the association? (The whole section is about self-organization, so I think it's the counsil itself. But the term "association" was never used before.) --lyzzy 20:27, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Funding[edit]

For the council to be successful, it needs to have some sort of reliable funding source. If we want the council to be an effective representative of the chapters when talking to the Foundation about fundraising agreements, for example, there needs to be someone there who can reliably keep up with the 40+ hour work cycle of Foundation staff. Similarly, if the concil is to engage in chapter development activities like the pilot project or the chapters meeting, some money will need to exchange hands. In all cases, money is needed.

If that is accepted, the next question is where the money comes from. A number of different options come to mind:

  1. The council could ask for member chapters and other parties (e.g. the Foundation) to fund it as a continuing process on a voluntary basis. If not enough money is collected, the council budget has to be reduced.
  2. The council collects a fee from member chapters based on their membership (e.g. x dollars/euro/yen/whatever per chapter member, maybe added to the chapters membership fee).
  3. The council collects a fee from member chapters proportional to their revenues (e.g. 1% of annual chapter revenues).

The first option has the advantage that it allows individual chapters to decide each year how much money they can and want to contribute. From the perspective of the council or the chapters together, however, this creates a very unreliable funding scheme. The second and third option provide some stability to the council's funding but might mean that chapters lose control over a part of their budget similar to a tax. To alleviate that a bit, decisions on the fee level could require a larger threshold (supermajority) than other decisions. The extreme would be an individual veto power on the fee level which would, however, move the system somewhat closer to the first option and might easily hamper the council's continued ability to function successfully. What do you think? sebmol ? 21:31, 19 August 2011 (

I think a fee, proportional to membership numbers and revenue, should provide the base funding for the council, allowing financial security for their core needs. A veto would be unacceptable and extremely disruptive. A supermajority should be OK. This core budget should cover expenses that are critical to running the council where those services cant be provided at no cost by a chapter. It should cover teleconferencing. It might cover employing an admin assistant. It should not cover mailing list infrastructure (a chapter can provide this at no cost). It should not cover expenses to have an international conference for the council to meet every year, as that would be a luxury. If there is a shortfall in the budget, the council can ask the chapters to contribute voluntarily to top it up. If the council wants to run an optional project which needs funding, the project could be funded by chapters or the WMF Grant system. John Vandenberg 23:03, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
Your approach seems fairly restrictive (only critical needs, outsourcing to chapters, no travel). Can you perhaps shed some light on your thinking that leads to this position? sebmol ? 23:11, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
If the council budget include luxuries, the chapters will have difficulty agreeing on it, and non-chapter Wikimedians will see it as another self-serving misuse of donor money. Our community expects use to use online technologies to collaborate rather than flying people everywhere all the time. When we have 100 chapters, and if there are 2 reps for each chapter, one meeting is extremely expensive for chapters like Australia. If these council positions are too luxurious, they will attract the wrong type of people, and having a large membership will mean it is easy for a member to do nothing other than attend meetings. See my proposal for a regional conference structure to reduce the costs and strengthen regional collaboration. That is the model most international groups use. It is much more sensible and cost-effective for WMAU to fund participation in a regional conference periodically rather than always sending them to North America and Europe. It is much more sensible for US+Canada+Mexico to meet regularly. Likewise with Europe. John Vandenberg 23:46, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
I added my reply below to the idea of regional conferences. First, I believe you are moving ahead with thinking about mandatory attendance and logistics issue of attending meetings at this stage of the proposal. I have said WMAU position is unique in this regard, there is no way to bridge the geographical proximity with other chapters, unless you consider taking a lead in organizing a pan-oceanic conference or working group, I don't see how this can come about. Aside from that, nothing had been finalized yet, no one said meetings would be mandatory or voting remotely or by-proxy will not be an option, if you want. I believe WMAU participates in regular discussions and issues related to chapters without physically travelling or sending representatives throughout the year, there is no difference in this case. This is not about traveling and attending conferences, but more about dealing with issues that affect all chapters, not just regional ones. Please feel free to discuss the finer points, nothing has been discussed about attendance, a conference or any meeting yet, we can even have the option to deal with things at chapter's meeting or remotely. this is your council, we're just in the planning phases. Regards. Theo10011 00:34, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
sembol asked about funding needs for the council. I replied, and part of my reply was that travel expenses for representatives should be excluded from the core budget of the council. It sounds like you agree with that?? It would be beneficial for WMAU if travel expenses were covered by the council, as WMAU travel expenses are among the highest. I am advocating against that, because I dont think it is a good idea for the movement. John Vandenberg 01:26, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply John. I have said WMAU is in a unique case and I do empathize with the high travel cost that your representatives and chapters have to bear. I can't talk about travel expenses individually, because we don't even know what this council would do exactly and from where. We are discussing generally funding models if this council were to exist, how would it be self-sufficient. But this is your council, you can decide and discuss anything you want, if other chapters agree than there is nothing stopping it. Regards. Theo10011 01:53, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying. I'm somewhat surprised that traveling seems to be a luxury or luxurious to you. The regional conference idea is certainly worth exploring, but I would be hesitant to do so at the expense of a council consisting of all chapters regardless of geography. sebmol ? 01:58, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
In-person meetings are highly desirable for busy professionals, however if the councils budget allows for all approved chapters to send delegates to meetings (model B), the expenses go up very quickly. Model A would be cheaper, however I expect that both models will result in expenses for in-person meetings of the Council would be the largest line item in the Council budget. The community will consider that a luxury when they collaborate regularly without in-person meetings and the community has in-person sessions at Wikimania. IMO it is more efficient to have web/tele/videoconferences and paid employees who keep the Council agenda moving. John Vandenberg 02:21, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
Right now, chapters meet twice a year: once at the dedicated chapter's conference in March/April and, traditionally, once at Wikimania. I don't expect there to be more in-person meetings. But I also would not want to eliminate those options. What I would like to see, however, is that the council can make sure all its representatives attend these meetings and provide fundind where needed, similarly to how the Foundation and some chapters have done for other chapters in the past. Aside from that, I do agree that the council should do as much of its proceedings remotely as is possible. sebmol ? 12:39, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
A fee model underlines the participation and the support of each chapter. It would not only make every chapter part of the council but entitle them to claim advices/decisions/advices from that council. And that may be something which should have more space in the discussion. The council should not only be the body to oversee and correct but also the one to provide help and advice for chapters to help themselves before external adjustments are necessary. The fee model considers different financial abilities that should allow even new chapters to participate in funding. A council will need to take time to form and define its work and its operating principles. The first budget will be the hardest to plan because you can only draw on the things you know. To keep things going on even in the beginning, when you need some flexibility to prepare and build processes for the coming years, there should be some additional retrievable financial ressources besides the fees. --lyzzy 08:48, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
I like the fee model too, for exactly the reason Lyzzy underlines, it gives a certain level of commitment and a sense of "ownership", which I believe is important for chapters. notafish }<';> 00:47, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
Just a general observation: Even if consensus has not been reached, I think the document would be greatly strengthened by the inclusion of the various possibilities. Having just looked over this wiki page for the first time, I was very surprised to see no mention at all of how the body would be funded. "Unknown" is fine, but having some understanding of the thinking that has gone into funding would be of great interest, I think, to any serious reader. -Pete F (talk) 18:40, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

regional conferences[edit]

Chapters approved per year.

I would prefer that we establish a regional conference structure. As the number of chapters increases, a global representative council becomes unfeasible and the costs go up. In a regional conference model, each region should hold its own conference on any important matter and the global council would be represented by one vote from each region. In this model, it is more feasible for in-person meetings to be held; the regional councils can meet more cheaply, and the global council has fewer people needed to have in-person meetings. John Vandenberg 23:27, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Ok John, I have to first say that the case for WMAU is unique. There is no regional chapter in proximity, not even in the same continent. Even if we consider a pan-Asianic model and include chapters in proximity, you're still looking at almost the same travel cost. In case of Australia, how would a regional conference differ from a general assembly of your chapter?
The idea is similar to the iberocoop initiative, the only issue is no one took the lead in coordinating an Asian or European version up till now, and in all likelihood it might not happen anytime in the near future. While the idea of regional conferences seems appealing, lets look at the larger picture, we are talking about issues that affect every or almost every chapter here. If smaller regional conferences, working groups come out of the council, we will promote them but it is logistically impossible to undertake regional conferences to start with at this stage, this would lead to bifurcation of all the energy and support we would need. Regards. Theo10011 00:23, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
In the coming years, we will have chapters in NZ, PNG, MY, SG, etc. It is cheaper and easier for Australians to fly to Asia than Europe or North America. However, "conference" does not need to be physical meetings.
A "regional conference" structure has a group of countries grouped together, and they have one vote/representative at the global council. This structure is used in many international organisations, from sports (e.g. w:FIFA) to churches (e.g. w:Episcopal Conference) and scouts. We are currently talking about issues that affect the majority of chapters, so either we have a council with 100s of chapters represented, or we decentralise and have about eight separate groups of chapters all separately make a decision and take their vote to the council. John Vandenberg 01:05, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
I only know of a Proposed NZ chapter in Oceania [3] which correct me if I'm wrong here, has been inactive for a couple of years. Aside from the proposed Asian chapters, which we have also have no idea about when they would formalize or if ever, we presently only have WMAU in the region. How would a regional conference in Australia be any different than a general assembly of WMAU until then? I said it earlier that I would love to see this model where we can have different iberocoop type groups from all over the world who then join a global organization. The present situation however, leaves a lot to be desired. European chapters despite being the oldest don't have a similar regional conference structure, the existing Asian chapters are so diversified and spread out that there is little interest in supporting one group. Besides Europe, most chapters are very spread out, there might be 2-3 (if that) in an entire continent, and have to stand for themselves in the near short-term. I would be very supportive if these regional conferences, or groups come up, but the reality is, in all likelihood, that there is a very slim chance of any of these regional entities come into existence in the next year. In the mean time, there are immediate, pressing concerns affecting all chapters that need consideration. BTW there has not been any discussion about where this council would be located yet. I would say again that these logistical concerns about flying are a bit early, they will not stop or hinder your representation at the council, most of the discussions and voting would be online, no matter where its located.
We can create a global group from existing chapters, we can't create chapters where they don't exist yet and then wait for cooperations between them to form a regional group. We have to work with what we have basically. Right now, having continental representatives would put you in the exact same situation, WMAU would be the sole representative of the entire continent. We can move towards a regional structure later when the other chapters actually exist. Thanks. Theo10011 01:43, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
In international organisations which use a conference structure, Australia and New Zealand are often added to pan Pacific or pan Asian conferences. We are seeing chapters being established at an increasing rate, so I think it is worth building this council structure with the expected growth in mind. John Vandenberg 02:10, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
There is an Asian version of Iberocoop: it's the Wikimedia Asia Project spearheaded by Wikimedia Hong Kong. An Asian Wikimedia conference (and perhaps an Asian chapters conference) is part of the long-term goals of the project. --Sky Harbor (talk) 17:35, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
I am an Asian community member, and this is the first I heard about such a project. I knew that a mailing list existed for pan-Asia but as I recall, the idea never took off. The page hasn't been updated in an year and a half. I am going to reiterate that we can establish the council and then move towards a structure where we have regional conferences, and representatives from each region to form the council. But this has to happen organically in Asia and other places first. Theo10011 19:42, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Some dangers to keep in mind[edit]

I have been against a chapter council for quite a while. However, developments in the past year brought me to reconsider this opinion. I won't go into that right here and now, but I would like to share some of the dangers I had in mind being against a chapters council - and hope for your thinking power to mitigate them as much as possible.

  1. Under representation and recognition by "younger" chapters - Big/old chapters are already overrepresented in discussions, how do we make sure that we also hear from the younger chapters, who have less people who are experienced in Wikimedia 'politics'
    The present situation is not going to change that. New chapters are and will remain under-represented if the status-quo is maintained. This council however, brings them at the same table with those same Big/old chapters and informs them of where we're all at.
    That (bringing them at the same table) only works if we have a "senate" like model, which I am growing to like, actually. One chapter 2 votes for example (if we follow the US senate model). notafish }<';> 00:57, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
  2. Overpolitization of issues - There is a danger that things will become very political once such a council is formed. How do we make sure that it is a solution, and doesn't become a problem in its own right?
    I would argue things are already quiet political whether this council forms or not, they would remain political. I would however, point out that there is a growing division of voices in the community. This is intended to form a single voice between all the political rhetoric and noise.
    I am not sure I understand what "overpolitization" means to you in that context. Could you be more specific? notafish }<';> 00:57, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
    People forming groups usually take a strong chance in every aspects. It seems to be good, since that's the original purpose, however it often degrades to fights about different views and opinions, forming alliance groups and attacking the "enemy". Unfortunately it's inhenent in the human nature, so forming a group always cry for guidelines trying to prevent fighting for "religious views" and strongly forcing people to cooperate (in this case with WMF). Political in my view means people are fighting for their highly opinionated views without real will to cooperate. --grin 10:16, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
  3. Chapters vs Foundation - We should definitely avoid that rounding up the chapters in a council leads uncontiously to an us VS them thinking.
    That is a matter of perception, which can not be controlled. Some chapters might already view things with that mentality, that is however, not the intent or the purpose on this council.
    It is however, a fact. Even if it's not "us" vs "them", it's "us" and "them". I'm curious how this two-headed thing can go for the Wikimedia movement. It is, actually, my biggest concern in the creation of a council (although I share Lodewijk's change of tune and am willing to consider it, to see how it can play out.). Questions such as "Does the Strategic Planning led by the Foundation apply to everyone?" will need to be answered in the constellation of Foundation and Council. notafish }<';> 00:57, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
    Well as far as I can see lack of transparency (by WMF) causes distrust (it's all about the money, in the end); the detachment of the chapters from WMF operation creates separate groups with separate goals; the forced control of the aforementioned detahced groups creates even more tension. I don't think it's possible to detach chapters to make them standalone support groups THEN trying to control them to make them play by WMF rules could work out very well. It may seem to be an economic problem (who funds the chapters, and how chapters fund the WMF) but I worry much more about controlling the chapter actions and individuality. Chapters is extremely multicultural group with extremely different views, environment and possibly goals, too. A support and informative WMF body for chapters where the people constantly familiar with the working internals of all the chapters, familiar with their needs and strengths would be good: it would be a gateway between chapters and WMF, since chapters often unable to communicate their problems clearly without the required background knowledge [of WMF inner working]; council can be such a body. But a body which tries to stand for every need every single chapter has (separately) isn't good for anything. Trying to give more loudness to given chapters against WMF isn't pretty useful, creating a body which generates 40 louder chapters against the WMF just because WMF is louder right now isn't pretty useful; the result gonna be just more noise. --grin 10:16, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
  4. Exclusion of non-chapter associations - How do we make sure that a chapters council will not start deciding stuff for non-chapter associations as well?
    I can argue, how do we know ChapCom will not start deciding stuff for non-chapter associations as well? It is in a position to do that already better than anyone. I have felt that too much attention is being given to non-chapter associations from different viewpoints. I would like to point out how non-chapter associations have only been talked about and never addressed so far, by any committee or group. They are beyond the scope of what this council is intended to address and should be left out till there is a formal recognition process by the community or the foundation.
    I absolutely do not understand this concern. How can a body make decisions for anyone who is not "affiliated" with it? notafish }<';> 00:57, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
  5. Too many responsibilities - Increasing responsibilities is doable, removing them not. Focus is often a better way to success.
    I agree.
  6. Right people, right skills - We need to define clearly what kind of people should be running this - should it be a trade union to negotiate with the foundation (need: tough people who are level with the WMF staff) or should it be a diplomatic mission that lets the chapters talk with each other (need: diplomats and networkers)
    It should ideally have whatever the chapters need, which might be both at times. It is for the chapters to decide as this takes shapes what they want more of, and where to focus on.
  7. Recreating the problems we already have - It would be a total waste of effort and resources if we just recreate the situation we're already in. We need low bureaucracy, high participation of the members and high recognition and openness.
    I agree. But this is a fresh start, chance of something new, let's give it a chance and hope it doesn't go down the same roads.
    Some people feel WMF is against them. I'd guess it's one of the most important things to fiogure out why, and how to change it, if possible. Bureaucracy does the opposite: hides the problems under layers of "rules", "policies" and "handlers" (and not "handling" the problems, which wouldn't be enough anyway). --grin 10:16, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm confident we can mitigate most of these, but some works seems necessary still to get there. Effeietsanders 12:31, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. While I cannot claim that we have solutions for all these problems, I'm confident that many of them can be addressed. I don't want to make anyone believe, however, that a council would come without any disadvantages or problems. It doesn't. It does provide the opportunity to create a situation that is significantly better than what we have to day, though. sebmol ? 13:57, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
Hi Eff, thanks for the reply. I am going to reply point by point on these issues (in blue). I am adding in-line answers to your point above. Thanks. Theo10011 19:58, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
Ok my dear beloved(s), can you please change colour since you will coment other people comments? Is difficult to me see which part Eff wrote, which one is Sebastian's and which one is Theo's. Béria Lima msg 20:06, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
@Theo: I was not looking for someone defending the proposal, but rather for real ways of mitigating those risks. I'm still hoping that people will come up with that :) (and that the current situation has problems is the whole reason why I am getting persuaded to accept the concept in the first place :P). Effeietsanders 21:49, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
@Eff: I thought since you left those points on the talk page that you intended to talk about them. ;) (My apologies) Feel free to add your points to the proposal itself, if you meant them to be rhetorical as considerations to keep in mind. :) Thanks again. Theo10011 00:26, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
Of course I'd love to talk about them, but especially to fix them :) I just don't contest that the current situation sucks. And I don't see immediate solutions for these problems - or I would indeed have edited the page. However, I did hope that our joined brain capacity (or perhaps even yours alone ;) ) exceeds mine Effeietsanders 06:15, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
Aww C'mon stop making me blush, everyone knows you're the smart one.;) We need all the brain capacity we can get, especially yours. ;) I'm just happy you are with us and considering this option. And again, feel free to edit the proposal if you see anything that is missing and should be there. Thanks again. Theo10011 13:51, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Random thoughts[edit]

What I find interesting here is the underlying assumption that Chapters need to "centralize" things, when really what prompted all this is a very "centralizing move" from the Foundation. (I know the board letter about accountability states that the Foundation is committed to a decentralized model, the Chapters agreement tweaks makes it clear that chapters and Foundation are independant, but grants etc. youseewhatImean). So how does this come to be? My take is (as was discussed elsewhere) there is a long standing disconnection between the Foundation and the Chapters (chapters as an entity, if not formal as of yet, since that's what we're working on) and there is a de facto us vs them, where the chapters exist as one, even if on a day to day basis, they are on their own for negociations, for example.

I've long been against the idea of a Council, not as such, as I think that chapters should organize, but against what I see as a body that would rise to be a "second head" for the movement (I think, mostly it duplicates efforts). I've always thought the Foundation should take that "international" role, a coordinating role, and be the place where decisions that involve the whole movement and foster diversity within a common frame, following a common goal (see base thoughts on this on strategy wiki). Unfortunately, it seems the Foundation has failed in making this work in what could be seen by "the chapters" as a viable solution. Trying to centralize in the way that has been presented to us in the past few weeks (which to me has reached a peak with the floating idea that every single chapter should be funded by grants of the Wikimedia Foundation) with the Foundation as benefactor/oversighter/rule maker/{{insert what fits best your impression here}} is reinforcing the idea that "the chapters" actually exist, and that all they need to do, is organize.

All this to say that while I can not help thinking that there are a lot of duplicated efforts in making a Chapters Council, as well as a potential for major conflict within the movement (who sets the pace? the strategy? the direction?), I have grown to entertain the idea of a Chapters Council. I am glad to see there are many people, from many different chapters, participating in this, and as the Germans say, ich bin gespannt (I am curious, but in a much more excited way) to see what comes out of this. notafish }<';> 01:48, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

In general, I think constructive conflict is good because it leads to better solutions. It's important to have different opinions, but it's also important to have well-structured ways for resolving those conflicts so that it can indeed be constructive and better solutions can be found. At the moment, few ways exist to resolve conflicts within the Wikimedia movement. It's also one of the core issues the movement roles process tries to address. I think the chapter council helps find better ways to resolve such conflicts because, as ought to be obvious, conflicts already exist and have existed. The disagreement over participating in the 2011 fundraising campaign, that surfaced at the beginning of this month, was one of the most visible cases. But even before that, there were conflicts around fundraising, trademarks, organizational support, or strategy development. If the council can be made to work effectively, resolving such conflicts in a constructive manner will be much more likely in the future.
Regarding centralization: I don't think that centralization must be rejected in all instances. I do, however, think that activities should be organized locally, unless local organization is not effective or highly inefficient. The actual act of undraising, for example, meaning the creation and nurturing of donor relationships for the purpose of raising funds, is something that is best done locally. On the other hand, accountability or fundraising principles should, to some extend, be governed globally to ensure that a minimum standard is kept across the entire Wikimedia universe. Accordingly, the council won't engage in fundraising himself or prescribe specific fundraising activities to chapters, but it will set standards chapters need to keep when engaging in such activities. sebmol ? 12:58, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Delegates/observers/WMF representatives[edit]

Hi, I am not sure why 2 delegates from WMF are needed. I originally imagined 2 non-chapter members- outsiders, experts even community members as part of the council who would be voting members, should WMF reps have voting rights? I still think observer would be the right terminology here for WMF delegates, but why 2 and not 1? Theo10011 20:41, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Of course, if you add two voting members of the Foundation alongside each of the Chapters, it magically becomes the council of all Wikimedia bodies...
James F. (talk) 10:04, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Does it? What I find interesting whenever talks about some general Wikimedia governance structure progress is the lack of consideration given to the Wikimedia project communities. Similarly here, such a council could reasonably profess to represent Foundation and chapters, but not the communities. Neither the Foundation nor the chapters are an extension of the community, and that's a Good Thing(tm). Thankfully, creating a general Wikimedia governance structure is outside the scope of this proposal so we do have the luxury of staying out of that hairy mess. sebmol ? 12:10, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I said "bodies", not a full WikiCouncil - clearly that would need the most important additions of the editing community and projects. Agreed that we don't want to go that far, at least immediately, as, yes, "hairy" is the right word. :-)
My point was more that if you're going to have WMF people there, rather than just have them observe if they can vote too it becomes somewhere that can potentially make decisions, rather than just agree amongst the chapters what they're going to ask for next - it would balance out the relationship with the Foundation if it was at least in some ways "just another participant", albeit with special concerns and duties.
Just a thought!
James F. (talk) 12:19, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
It's not a bad thought. I do, however, think that having the chapters identify with this institution and thereby respecting its legitimacy is rather important - if the council is actually intended to have an impact not just on the Foundation-chapter relationship but also on the chapters themselves. Also, you immediately open up questions like why the Foundation should have two votes if each chapter has one, or, alternatively, why the chapters get 70 votes and the Foundation gets 2, etc. I don't see the benefit of the Foundation delegates getting a vote unless that vote is substantial, in which case the institution loses its identification aspect for the chapters. From the Foundation perspective, having their delegates there and being able to participate in all the discussions--they're not mute observers--is what's important. And that is what the model provides for. sebmol ? 12:30, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
For clarity, I meant under Option B / Second Revision, wherein all Chapters get 2 votes (staggered 2 year terms?). and the Foundation being just another participant there. But I agree, having a body that is felt to be owned by the Chapters is important enough.
James F. (talk) 12:45, 25 August 2011 (UTC)


Let me clarify, I would ideally want no WMF representatives. Granting them voting rights doesn't make any sense, I agree with Ziko's thoughts below on the matter. Theo10011 03:17, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Membership and functional body[edit]

As I said on the list, it would be good to have at least a kind of representation of chapters which are not able to delegate functional persons to the body. I think that it would be wrong to create UN-like body, where representatives of some countries think more about local brothels than about the content of the meetings. And forcing [at least] one representative per chapter could lead to the choice between giving impression that body is boycotted and delegating person not capable to be properly involved in matter. --Millosh 21:30, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Ultimate goal is to have all chapters represented by a chapter member, but it shouldn't be forced. --Millosh 21:30, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

The other issue, which could be seen as a partial solution of the problem, is to define immediately decision-making procedure. If decision could be made by majority, 2/3 or 80% of those who voted, then there won't be real harm to the body if even half of chapters have not so capable delegates. --Millosh 21:30, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I would expect most decisions to be made by majority vote. That doesn't mean that not all chapters should be represented. But it also means that lack of consensus should not be an impediment to getting things done. Also, I think that chapters, which can't find volunteers to fill their representative spot (I find that very difficult to believe), can ask another chapter's representative to relay their position, if needed. Not ideal, but would be the same situation if the council by default had less members than there are chapters. sebmol ? 22:01, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
Just a note: Not majority vote, but majority vote of those who voted. If some chapters are not able to articulate their position in reasonable amount of time, it shouldn't block others. However, there should be some limits. For example, at least 50% of chapters have to be represented in the poll (according to the second version of B plan, that would mean that it would be possible that 25% of delegates could make decision). --Millosh 04:16, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Comments on Second revision[edit]

Hello, here some thoughts:

  • It's a council, not a parliament: If it is a body to represent the chapters, then chapters have be members of the council, not individuals. A representative can be exchanged at any time. A second representative per chapter is unneccessary. It is not necessary to prohibit memberships of a representative in chapter bodies. Besides, especially for many small chapters it would be difficult to find a person - who is also knowlegable of everything that is happening in the chapter. It would be ideal if the representative is the board member already occupied with international affairs.
  • As it is a chapters council, no other entities are to be represented here. Certainly not the Foundation. A common body of the whole movement is the Foundation already, with chapter elected board members. A chapters council including other entities would be a movement council.
  • It will make many things easier if one chapter is represented by one person with one vote. Voting by more yes-votes than no-votes. It might be a good idea to introduce a special veto, based on the memberships of the chapters.
  • The council is acting only online. It is not supposed to be a body for talking and discussing, we can do that on any channel. It is supposed to vote on proposals made by representatives on behalf of their chapters. A proposal should need the support of more than one chapter (maybe five) in order to became an official council proposal the representatives can vote about.
  • A board of directors will make sense. This will be the acting body chosen by the council. It should be not too big (maybe 3 persons) and be chosen for 2 or 3 years. Its task is to coordinate the proceedings of the council. It would be great if in future the council could have a paid secretary to support the board of directors.

Kind regards Ziko 14:17, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Regarding your first comment: while it is certainly possible to design an institution like that, this isn't what is proposed here. Rather, what is being proposed is an institution drawn from the chapters with specific responsibilities that have effects both on the Foundation-chapters relationship as well as on chapters itself. Remember that one of the main reasons why the idea of a council is being discussed is setting and enforcing standards of accountability for Wikimedia chapters. I would find it very difficult to believe that the council will be effective in that task if its members end up being some sort of echangeable appendages of the chapters' boards (which is what you seem to describe). Indeed, the model being proposed is more that of a parliament with authority to, among others, pass regulations regarding chapter accountability. As such, it makes sense to draw from the structures similar bodies elsewhere have created.
Regarding talking and discussing, quite the opposite is true. The very idea of the council is to have dedicated people deliberate on the common interests of the chapters. Of course, anyone can talk anyhwere about anything. But that doesn't amount to having actual representatives with actual responsibility and power to make decisions coming up with solutions.
Regarding the board of directors, its job would be executing the decisions the Council makes. There are a number of responsibilities listed on the proposal page that require actual activity, such as negotiating terms, organizing events, or maintaining an exchange platform. That's what the board's role would be: making happen what the council has decided, as paid professionals. sebmol ? 14:51, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Some basic questions indeed, the scope and how much money it may cost. The discussions will occur mainly within the chapters' boards, and then among the chapters' representives. If they are to speak with authority, this authority must come from the chapters, not the representatives as individuals. (I think more of the Bundesrat than the Bundestag, and keep the council simple and slim.) --Ziko 22:02, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm with Sebastian on this. Not random rotating people please :). This also goes to further James' point about organisational memory and how people feel they're involved in things. notafish }<';> 02:04, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Not agreeing to only online. It makes no sense to me. Experience proves that _some_ IRL meetings make things progress way faster. But I find the idea of proposals being held by at least X chapters to be put to vote interesting. This goes a bit in the direction Lodewijk is pointing, forcing chapters to "get together", and not merely be on their own. notafish }<';> 02:04, 28 August 2011 (UTC)


Hi Ziko, I agree with most of your points. I agree that WMF representative or any other representative would make this a movement council. I originally thought of having maybe 1-2 non-chapter members to provide professional advice and give a different view on matters than regular chapter people, only to strengthen the deliberation process. I would however, like to clarify that I want this body to have a physical presence somewhere and not merely an online existence, which is a big part of any wikimedia organization. Just like a chapter, I would hope that this body has a physical address and holds some sort of legal status. It might at times require a staff or outside help, it can also, at times save a lot of effort, if we can centralize certain tasks and share resources between similar chapters. Theo10011 03:25, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

general organizational thoughts[edit]

I support this idea, in general.

I've been thinking a lot about organizations/groups in Wikimedia generally, and I think there's a couple of principles that seem to make things go much more smoothly. Much of this is already in the proposal:

  • Have a practical scope of work in mind along with general principles. For instance, we will coordinate the biannual chapters board seat election process; the auditing process; and the chapters conference agenda. (Or whatever). These could even be tasks assigned to subcommittees of the council. But I think it would help to have some idea of the specific jobs you have in mind for the group.
  • Meet in person occasionally: this is easy, there are already two conferences where an in-person meeting would be obvious (chapters meeting and Wikimania). Meeting at the conference is nice because it potentially gives the council a chance to have joint meetings with other groups as well. I think it really helps to meet your fellow participants in a group face to face. Many (most?) professional organizations work this way -- councils of delegates that meet during conferences -- so there is certainly precedent.
  • Have term limits and/or a releelection procedure for the members. Presumably this would be each chapter electing its own delegates, but the details don't matter as much as making sure that people aren't on "for life" (and thus have to be singled out as special exceptions if anything goes wrong) when they join a group.
  • Another option that afaik hasn't been proposed -- and totally opposite to what Sebmol proposes above -- is to have for instance the president of every chapter be a delegate. This is easy because you don't have to elect someone new, and it means that the people involved have a personal responsibility to their chapter. (This is how a professional library organization with international chapters that I belong to works). But perhaps there are reasons not to do this (time?). Regardless I would not want to see delegate status marginalized by being a special election or because only a few are interested.
  • Along with this it seems a lot more comfortable and fair to have *every* chapter have delegates. Every chapter from the big to the small should have a voice in the issues that arise.
  • have a communication plan -- such as regular reports both back to the chapters, to the WMF, and to the movement at large. Presumably the group will want/need to interface with the WMF. It might make sense to have non-voting representatives from the staff to aid that communication. Either way, it makes sense to have a recording secretary in the council who takes minutes and votes and send them out to the community. I think the group would lose a lot of its power if it isn't able to both take and record decisions and send out regular reports.
  • have an idea for what skills delegates will need. What language will you communicate in? What kind of availability time-wise is needed?

best, -- phoebe | talk 16:28, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

I would agree with all your points except for the President bit, primarily due to constraints on time and attention. Also, in general, I think having more opportunities for people to get engaged in leadership roles (other than the board, for example) in their chapter is a benefit. It also prevents from the same people talking about the same topics, just in different structural configurations. I do want to ask though: why would an election for the specific purpose of picking a chapter's representative be a marginalization of that responsibility? sebmol ? 16:33, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
It wouldn't be (necessarily). I guess my main concern is I would want to see that delegate -- if they are delegates, and not acting as independent people who care a lot about chapters -- tied into their chapters leadership in such a way that they feel both authorized to make decisions on behalf of their chapter and can have productive ongoing discussions with the chapter leadership about council. I agree that it is good to get more people involved in governance. (If there are two delegates you could always split the difference - one delegate from the current board, one "at large"). -- phoebe | talk 17:52, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Agree with Phoebe's points, except on having the details of appointments and term limits set centrally. I think that we should recommend Chapters consider how they would like to structure the appointment of their representative, rather than set a single way that each Chapter has to run it.
Having the representatives appointed by (but not from) each Chapters' Board for a two year renewable term makes sense to me (so they have the confidence and mandate of the Board), but if the Chapter wants to impose a term limit for its representative, or have direct elections by members distinct from the Board elections, it should be their call.
James F. (talk) 20:43, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Sure, like I said I have no special opinion about the details. I was just pointing out that I think it's important to have a clear mechanism [could be by chapter rather than a centrally defined one] for terms and appointments/ renewals of members, especially for a governance body, so that those members have both legitimacy and accountability; if you don't do this up-front it can lead to problems on down the road. This isn't something specific to the chapters council, but rather all boards and committees :) -- phoebe | talk 21:17, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Could you perhaps expand on why you think it would be good to have different term lengths between representatives? Wouldn't that be a constant coming and going of people in the council? sebmol ? 21:40, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Speaking for myself but responding to your question to Phoebe, any working group of 40+ representatives will have significant change (even if the appointments are for life, people die). I think having some form of staggering (maybe just half of Chapters can change their representative every odd year, and the other half every even year) reduces the churn and improves the "corporate memory", consistency and throughput of committees.
I worry that it's a bit obvious that I do committee-based management design as a professional skill. :-)
James F. (talk) 21:47, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
At first look, I didn't agree with Jdforrester's suggestion of having variable chapter-set term limits, but I don't see the point of limiting anyone's term. If a chapter chooses to re-support its representative, it should be allowed to do so, I don't see any harm in this. There are 2 ways a representative might act, they can act as authoritative decision-makers who might act individually or they might be mere spokesmen for the chapters on the council who get everything fed to them, there is no way to decisively pick one over the other. I completely disagree with the notion of selecting the president as the delegate, there are legal-requirement and time-bound constraints that would limit a person's involvement in all the matter that might need discussion (Both positions are full time jobs already). Theo10011 03:37, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Model A -Second revision[edit]

I added a second revision of Model A after some discussion about this topic. The basic premise is electing an internal council of individual from with a larger council of all chapters. The idea of individual delegates is not that prominent in this model. The basic idea is to a) limit the size of the body which would increase by every new chapter and b) make things open and democratic through an annual election which would give every chapter a chance to elect the internal council. My biggest issue with the other model was the size of the body that would deliberate, it would start at 35 individuals from 35 countries who speak different languages and live in different time-zones who would have to reach a clear majority to pass any decision. I had concerns that it might reach the same situation as Internal-l with so many different voices on different sides. The idea of a smaller internal council of 8-10 individuals would limit this process considerably, even as the number of chapters increases, this model would scale. The internal council members can act as trustees of the chapters and make decisions quickly and efficiently on their behalf. Theo10011 04:10, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

This might pick up internal-l's situation in having some known voices and lots of non-voices. How will you assure that every single chapter feels being involved and playing an important role for all-chapter decisions if you let those decisions be made by only a small group? lyzzy 07:32, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
The annual elections I believe, would be the biggest asset to this structure. Since the current number of chapters is not that large (~35) this would give a chance for all chapters to be heard and represented during the elections. Second, every chapter would be a member of the council, we can enact some Veto rights from within the council, where if a super-majority exists they can change Internal council decisions or members. Theo10011 22:03, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
I can't help to relive in my head the nightmare of (s)electing two board members for the WMF Board. Can we really elect 8 or 10? ;) to any kind of body? I find model B to be way more practical in that regard, in that it just leaves it to each chapter to decide how their representative(s) are elected. Not only more practical, but also "fairer", I think. notafish }<';> 02:07, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Hiya Delphine, I haven't lived through chapter election of board members to know that nightmare. ;) But, I thought this would make sense by just limiting the size of the body, that and the elections, is the biggest difference between the two model. I have seen chapters running in 50 different directions at the same time, this is only to limit the division of opinion and make things manageable. There is also the problem that a lot of the chapters just aren't active, interested or involved in the discussion, Model B requires all to be on equal footing. Some chapters barely get involved as it is, some have differing agendas than the rest of the group, electing trusted people they know once a year might be something everyone can manage and then let them deliberate. If we expect 50 chapters to decide and agree/disagree on all issues, with different agendas, languages, cultures, time-zones....I, for one, don't see this as being effective and efficient at all. My fear is it would become a screaming match between those who care, and an annoyance for those who were never interested (similar to Internal-l). Sebastian talked about the US senate model above and the UN, but you have to account for the fact that they are all physically present in one location with translators between them to function, and they often times don't, they filibusters, intentionally launch polemics and divide by party or ideological lines. Personally that is my biggest concern. 8-10 people might be much more manageable than 35, 50 or 100, this model would scale. Thanks. Theo10011 16:57, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

I have a question Theo: What the other delegates would do? You state they elect the board, and them that the board do this and that... but don't say what the other members would do. Can you explain that please? Béria Lima msg 13:56, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Hello Beria, The idea of delegates doesn't exist in this model, they are more of representatives. They would participate in the elections, and vote the internal council in, as well, as run for the internal council itself. there would be special provisions for the larger representatives with veto powers. It would generally be on the representatives how much they want to get involved. They can follow the matters, discuss issues with the internal council, raise issue that affects them, agree or disagree with the internal council and even veto and remove the members from the internal council, it is democracy and they are the electorate. We need to refine and articulate what other responsibilities these representatives can take on but it is up to the chapters to decide. I would welcome any ideas anyone might have. The idea of the internal council is to keep a smaller group in charge of all the matters, instead of 40 representatives keenly aware and up-to-date of all issues, to be on an equal footing. Theo10011 14:08, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Crazy thought: Joint selection[edit]

Just a crazy thought here - most likely not acceptable to most, but would like to feel the water for it anyway: What if we would say that every 2 or 3 (depending on the number of chapters it might increase further) that join up can propose one member of the council? That would force the chapters to talk with each other, search for natural allies and find representatives that represent those views. It makes the process a bit more dynamic - and makes the representatives less tied to one specific chapter. For example, if France would like to appoint someone, they will need to find two other chapters who agree to that person to get him/her appointed. Every chapter would only have one such opportunity. Of course there would have to be a deadline. There are numerous variations possible on this theme. Effeietsanders 14:11, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Interesting. But what's the benefit? Also, how do you deal with chapters that can't find another chapter to join with them? Also, doesn't this require quite a bit of effort on behalf of chapter folks just to find a suitable candidate? 87.185.9.139 14:34, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

That's a good suggestion effe. We did discuss something similar with having geographical nominations i.e. x number of representatives from per continent/geographical area. It would be like having X members from Iberocoop, X from Asia, X from Europe and so on. We also realized that this might happen on its own regardless of which structure we chose, since certain chapters do prefer to stick together. If anyone wants to explore this idea, I am happy to flesh it out more. It would only promote more cooperation between the chapters. Theo10011 21:59, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree regionalization might be a good way to help keep things at a more workable and human scale in selecting delegates. It's also a good first step in getting the larger project of a universal chapters council going.--Pharos 16:09, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
@Pharos: I wanted to avoid the regionalization exactly. I think that focussing only on that is somewhat shortsighted, because chapters probably see more differences in opinion based on their development stage. The model I describe above is not regional, but does allow it - I think forcing it on people would be rather counter productive. @Anonymous user: the main advantage would be that the chapters are forced to have a conversation about the topic with each other. And not just have an election and be done with it - it is more effort, but the outcome is more than just the candidates. Also, when chapters are not able to find good candidates they all agree on, maybe then the council is not such a good idea in the first place. They would be rewarded for cooperating. Effeietsanders 15:08, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
You're right, they would be. But is that the primary purpose of the Council? I think one of the main reasons why we're discussing this is because, so far, chapters have not been that great at coordinating their efforts (especially as pertains representing their common interests) and having a group of dedicated people who take on that responsibility. In that light, getting to that group of people, as in making sure it exists, ought to be as easy as possible for the chapters. That's why I'm hesitant to make this too complicated and requiring more effort than a straight single-seat election would take. It is true that, in all likelihood, with the seat-per-chapter model, some seats might remain empty. I hope those are few. But it's also true that, if two or three chapters have to cooperate, the likelihood that a seat remains empty goes up - while at the same time that empty representing (or failing to represent) two or three chapters, rather than just one.
Finally, like I said before, it makes a huge difference whether each chapter has their dedicated representative who they can use as their voice in discussions or whether they have to share a representative with other chapters. Let's say, according to your proposal, two or three chapters get together and pick a representative. And let's say six months later, a proposal is on the table where those chapters disagree on. Does that representative now abstain from discussions? Does he put forward contradictory arguments, prefaced by "WMXX wants X, but WMYY thinks Y, and I represent both"? This sort of balancing act is demotivating for the represntative, but also for the chapters he or she represents. One of the most important things the Council and its members must build is political legitimacy, trust, confidence that they are indeed able to represent the best interests of the chapters collectively so that their decisions are actually accepted, not just tolerated. I find to achieve that with a model where not each chapter gets its own, independent voice extremely difficult. sebmol ? 15:22, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
It may be clear that in this specific scenario, the elected candidates would act independently, and without requirement to represent any specific chapters. They most likely will talk to them, but they can do what they want, like most parliaments do. At the same time legitimacy would be high because the chapters have had a very direct influence on at least one member - and it is clear there is a good spread and variation possible. I do agree there are problems, and it is not perfect. It is just a crazy idea :) Effeietsanders 21:36, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Model B - Third revision[edit]

I've expanded model B a bit with some of the points raised here, including majority decision-making and also incorporating the responsibilities mentioned at the beginning of the page. I've also included some details on what I think the board could do and how it could be set up. I'm looking forward to your comments. sebmol ? 16:12, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Just one technical note: I suppose that president and vice president shouldn't hold any position, as well. However, it hasn't clearly stated. --Millosh 16:32, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Surely that's captured by:
Members of the Board of Directors may, during their term, not hold any other office in the association, in the Wikimedia Foundation, or in any chapter.
... as the President and Vice-President would be Members of the Board of Directors.
James F. (talk) 16:48, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Ah, yes. Thanks for clarification, James! --Millosh 14:00, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, seb - I think that this is great.
James F. (talk) 16:48, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
i think it is great, except in one respect: wmf. why it should not be a voting member for the united states (usa), as long as we do not have anything better? --ThurnerRupert 04:07, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
There is already one chapter recognized in the US and another one about to be. There'll likely be more so that I don't foresee any additional representation needs. sebmol ? 17:18, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Standards[edit]

To discuss the proposed standards of admittance.

  • We should not be police. Forbid some chapter to be member because they don't fulfil a list (the list, btw, looks a lot like the requirements for chapters in the WMF) will not help any chapter to have the standards you are asking them to have. I do agree we should help chapters to have those standards, but deny admittance because of that is - in my opinion - not acceptable. Béria Lima msg 14:35, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
  • If you are going to point to recommended standards of operation, you might want to consider Movement roles/accountability standards. SJ talk | translate   01:13, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
    That's what I'm linking to already. Did you not see the link? sebmol ? 22:46, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
  • I think there are two sets of standards. There is one set of non-negotiable standards that should prohibit a group from becoming a chapter in the first place is not followed. Things like approved bylaws, some level of openness on membership and transparency (probably less strict than worded elsewhere), legal personality and geographical scope - and there should be a second set which chapters should strive for which is a more strict sense of openness, transparency, cooperativity etc. That second set should probably not be binary - and shouldn't prohibit membership - unless perhaps if intentionally and consistently violated. But in that case, should the be a chapter in the first place? So perhaps these criteria are not best located in this council, but rather in the chapter approval procedures - unless the two are merged. Effeietsanders 08:44, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
    • I agree, there are at least two kinds of standards. Are these non-negotiable standards or requirements to become a chapter published somewhere? In my understanding that would be a catalogue the ChapCom works with and to know it could help to seperate initial and ongoing standards. And maybe it already exists on meta, I didn't really search for it. --lyzzy 13:52, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
      • There are informal sets of standards that some members of the chapter committee use when evaluating an application for recognition. There are no formal standards however. Even if they were created, they would not have any retroactive effect as the chapters committee only considers applications for new chapters. sebmol ? 22:46, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
    PS, I disagree with the inclusion of some of these criteria - which are in my view culturally tainted. For example "members should be allowed to file motions with the board" (in many countries this is not normal procedure - board members alone can file motions in the board), "Membership shall be open to all (...)" (in quite some countries this is intentionally limited to Wikimedians, or age restricted - although an anti-discrimination clause might be helpful in different wordings), "majority of the board members shall be directly elected by the members" (Why not allowing a federative chapter with two-level elections? I don't see the problem there) and the "popular referendum" also doesn't make sense in many countries - there are often clear legally required procedures which are just different in every country. I think it makes much more sense of just referring to a Chapters Charter, work it out there and ensure that the bylaws of each chapter are properly reviewed. Effeietsanders 08:52, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
    What do you mean by a "Chapters Charter"? sebmol ? 22:46, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
    • I also have some concerns with these standards, but I must admit, more for organizational reasons. If we set these standards to become a member of the association in this detail, what is left to be set up by the council? One of its tasks is to set up and review accountability standards and I think there is more overlapping than necessary. And that makes it dificult to understand what is needed to be a member and what is common expected while you're a member. The Charter shouldn't be that detailed either. I would like to see the responsibilty for the standards within the council, following the idea of self-reliance and some kind of flexibility for change whenever it is needed. --lyzzy 13:52, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
      The idea of including some standards in this charter is to set down those that are non-negotiable and also outside of the general discretion of the chapter, or any individual chapter for that matter. No such list currently exists. The closest we have to that are the informal standards used by some chapters committee members, which have evolved over time and which, due to their nature and evolution, haven't been applied to all chapters when they were formed. Since this council is a new entity with the express purpose of setting some standards for all member chapters, it seems sensible that we would use that opportunity to establish a non-negotiable baseline, that the ratifying members, but also those joining or even being created later have to adhere to. sebmol ? 22:46, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Simple page[edit]

Hi all, I'm not a fan of wall of text, seriously, I think all structure model should be on other page, also, would it be better to start the page with charter that people sign and leave the other page else where as see also? I can't / don't even know where to begin to contribute. I think the page is a mess. No not the time to {{SOFIXIT}} - I don't know where to begin to fix it Siska.Doviana (talk) 19:53, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

I was planning to relaunch it tomorrow when I'm at my office so we can continue the conversation. I agree that the page is too loaded right now. sebmol ? 23:25, 20 February 2012 (UTC)
I certainly agree it would be great to simplify and relaunch this process.--Pharos (talk) 04:37, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
I've done a first revision. Can you please take a look? sebmol ? 13:14, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

I'll email you on input *too much in a page* - siska

Timeline[edit]

I think the structure and the charter timeline are upside down, the chapters would likely agree on the charter first and structure later than the other way around. Put the charter up on chapter's wiki phluease - Siska

There is currently no charter. Would the charter not mostly consist of the structure anyway? sebmol ? 18:42, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

Rationale for Model B[edit]

In my edits to model B, I've used the following rationale:

  1. There are certain kinds of activities where, from what it looks like over the past five years, relying on volunteers alone doesn't work--sometimes because those activities are generally no fun at all, sometimes because we fail to find qualified volunteers, sometimes because time constraints and specificity in expectations diminish motivation. I therefore think we have to accept that paid staff will be necessary. Some of the activities I'm thinking of here are collecting, distributing and following up on reports, comprehensively reviewing chapter reports, activities, and budgets, or providing consistent local assistance and support to chapters and their leadership. On the other hand, there are activities that are well-done by volunteers, or where it is simply appropriate to rely on volunteers, such as representative bodies within the Wikimedia movement.
  2. There is a positive correlation between the specificity of a task and how well-defined the expection on time commitment is on one hand, and the probability of finding volunteers to take care of that task on the other. In simpler terms: it is easier to find a volunteer to present a chapter at a booth for two hours on January 23 than to find one to serve as a general chapter board member for a year. If volunteers can reasonably estimate the effort and time commitment required to be a representative on the Council, it will be (relatively) easy to find suitable candidates.
  3. The Wikimedia movement does not benefit from situations where the same people are simultaneously involved in a large number of different positions and responsibilities. Aside from the obvious time commitment issues that causes among volunteers, such situations also lead to the problem that very similar viewpoints are shared at different places, severely reducing the likelihood of both innovation and welcoming openness to newbies. The Council members should therefore be comprised of individuals who can devote an appropriately large portion of their free time to serve as representatives of their chapter.
  4. In order for the Chapters Council to work, it has to be separate from any chapters, and from all of them together. The proposed model B envisions more than a place for chapters to exchange opinions and pass common resolutions. It's also meant as a means to conduct peer-review which, if done well, necessarily sets a high bar of quality for activities and reports. It's meant as a body to both set standards and hold member chapters to them. As a result, there are likely to be unpleasant situations on occasion that may, in more extreme circumstances, lead to negative side effects for chapter boards. A model that relied on merely a fleeting sense of collaboration without permanence, like having delegates with an imperative mandate picked by chapter boards that can be replaced at will and under the direction of said boards, would not provide sufficient robustness and dependability. Rather, chapter representatives have to be entrusted to make good decisions on behalf of their chapter.

I know that these considerations aren't without drawbacks. Everything is. I have found them to be less valuable than what they allow in return, however. They are naturally open to discussion, though. sebmol ? 19:10, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

I haven't had time to think about all of this properly, but to avoid confusion could you change the name of your "Board of Directors"? What you describe isn't what I think of as a Board of Directors (boards make high-level decisions, they aren't the people that implement them). How about "Secretariat" (headed by a "Secretary-General")? --Tango (talk) 23:11, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
I'm not married to any particular terminlogy. If Secretariat works better for everyone, then so be it. sebmol ? 23:14, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
Am with Tango about secretariat. I have my reservation on hiring professional who's job is to "lead". I rather have them initiate and clean up. If the person hired to do this end up telling people/ volunteer what to do and when to do it - rather than "sort things out" or "get things done" - it provide more burden and may be well hated by the volunteers (or volunteer based organization). The last thing they need is "another boss". If this mean providing people to go between and sneak on the time that is available for the volunteer instead. Not time that is convenient to them. I see secretariat as people with ability to draft/ wiki know how/ and translate to languages that volunteer can do minor edit and post it somewhere else (relieving the some of job but not all). Siska.Doviana (talk) 10:10, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Just to clarify--and my choice of words in the table may not have been the best here, but: I do expect the board of directors to mostly consist of Wikimedians that provide both a leadership role as well as taking care that "stuff gets done". On the other hand, the people that, for example, may be hired locally to assist and consult with chapters in one region, may very well be regular staff without any prior ties to Wikimedia (but, probably, highly experienced in assisting volunteers). So there is, in my mind, a distinction between the BoD and the "regular staff" that isn't captured well in the table. I'm open for suggestions. sebmol ? 11:00, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the wording is confusing. My English skills are not good enough to make any recommendations. For example the Governing Bodies of the European Universities Association they have:
  • General assembly –> All affiliated Universities (meets once per year)
  • Council -> Collective members. Mainly one association per country except Belgium with 2 associations and Holy See that associates universities from several countries.
  • Board -> 10 elected members (meets 3 times a year)
  • Secretariat -> Full time employees.
--Gomà (talk) 12:28, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
I'd also prefer "secretariat". Also, if these are paid professional staff then I'm not sure they can be removed by a 2/3 majority vote of the Council. This would certainly be impossible under English employment law - votes on committees are not good grounds to dismiss someone. German law may differ? The Land (talk) 13:33, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
What do you think of "Executive Board"? It seems to me as if it is not only the wording that confuses but also different understanding of duties and responsibilities of this board. To make the work of the Counsil effective for the chapters and not only paper producing you need someone who feels and is in charge. And maybe an initial discussion and exchange about BoD's tasks and authorities could lead to the best label. --lyzzy (talk) 14:00, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
I don't know anything about UK labor law. What I can say though is that directors of German associations (such as our CEO, Pavel Richter) do not enjoy any of the protections typical employees do. They can indeed be dismissed based on whatever procedure the association's charter provides. sebmol ? 21:50, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
"Executive Board" is excellent, I think. Think of a prime minister, he is elected by the parliament, but it is a paid position. Ziko (talk) 23:00, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

When Bismarck phoned Metternich[edit]

Today I (Ziko van Dijk) was called by Sebastian Moleski, we talked extensively and intensively about the future Chapters Council. On the page, there is a "Model B" mainly presented by Sebastian and a "Model KISS" written by me, both before the Financial Meeting in Paris when a number of chapters agreed in principal on creating a chapters council.

We were unanimous on a lot of points, disagreed on others, but mainly we could make clear that we are not presenting two different ways to the same goal, but to two different goals. I wouldn't see a concurrence between both models but rather a choice the chapters have to make.

"Model KISS" / Model Metternich is a rather reluctant proposal playing on safe. It foresees a pure collaboration between the Wikimedia chapters. Think of the first version of the United States of America before 1787, or the German Confederation of 1815/1820 with the Austrian chancellor Metternich (no political allusions intended, by the way). The chapters council in Model Metternich is simply a platform were chapters meet and vote on common statements. The scope is very restricted to the tasks originally intended for a chapters council: nominate WMF board members, represent the chapters in discussions with the WMF, possibly send members to a future FDC etc.

"Model B" / Model Bismarck is much more ambitious. It will create a new entity, an association of the chapters council. Think of the second (modern) version of the US, or the North German Confederation or German Empire created by Bismarck (again, no political allusions intended). The chapters will still exist and have an important role, but the members of the chapters council will be very independent once elected (for a limited termn, of course). This means that the chapters will have to pass a lot of power to the chapters council, or, to be more exact, they create a new power entrusted to the chapters council. With the association, the Model Bismarck will provide a strong basis for the projected tasks and to serve "as an umbrella organization for the chapters in all other aspects not mentioned before".

The models can be altered, but I stress out again: they present two different futures. When I wrote Model Metternich, I was cautious, considering that many chapters are (still) rather weak and have few human and financial resources. Sebastian is projecting a future organisation (based on the chapters council) the current chapters could grow into. I principally do not disagree with him, but would like to keep Model Metternich to fall back on for the case that the chapters should not agree on the many points that will have to be dealt with for Model Bismarck.

Kind regards, Ziko (talk) 21:57, 21 February 2012 (UTC)


At the Paris meeting there were two good reasons for the Bismarck model. The main one where 4 bottles of wiki-whine. But there was a secondary reason that makes some sense. At this moment we where considering the need to establish standards of accountability for chapters and other organizations we also missed a task of coordination and support the growth of other chapters and organizations that in theory had to be done by ChapCom but in practice has not been done because of lack of capacity. The issue of accountability is one of the main reasons that discourage Chapters process payments during annual fundraising campaign. In this situation seems that to help chapters to grow and ensure that the chapters fulfill the appropriate standards of accountability it is important to know them very well. And who can know the best chapters are the other chapters. The Bismarck model is based on a proposal to the Board of WMF. It is proposed that the Board should encourage the chapters and the Partner Organization to join in de Council and should delegated to the council the functions of accountability, coordination and coaching of those organizations. Being a member of the Council will be voluntary but highly advisable and none members would not enjoy several benefits. It seems to me that with Metternich model this deal with WMF is difficult to reach. So I agree with you. The Bismarck model requires passing power from chapters and Partner Organizations to the council but also request passing power from the WMF to the council leading to a well balanced tradeoff --Gomà (talk) 23:21, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree we ought to think in terms of this being a body that we are growing into. But I think it is important that we focus on a body which is capable of providing real, concrete, support to Chapters. If we don't include paid staff and a clear responsibility for accountability frameworks, we risk just having a body which talks. So on the whole I prefer Plan B.
The main point of strength I see in Plan KISS is the wording about the Chapters Council membership. I would much prefer that Chapters are able to appoint who they see fit, rather than people insisting that Chapters find someone who is not on their Board and not on their staff. The Land (talk) 13:30, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Can you please elaborate your concerns about why such exclusivity is problematic in your view? sebmol ? 21:47, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
I think it increases the costs of participation in the Chapters Council. Particularly for small chapters (though also for larger ones!), it is difficult to find good people, particularly those prepared to engage in difficult governance matters rather than fun outreach work. Since we don't want unnecessary barriers to participation in the Council, I'd prefer Chapters could keep a fair degree of flexibility in their representatives. The Land (talk) 17:28, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
Ok. I don't share the fear that it would be impossible for chapters to find someone outside of their board. At the same time, it's not necessarily a show stopper though. There does need to be some separation between a chapter's (s)elected representative and the chapter, or its board respectively, because I don't see how the chapters council could otherwise independently and credibly conduct chapter reviews and hold chapters accountable to the standards set by it. In order to be effective, representatives have to feel obliged not only to represent the chapter that (s)elected them, but also to the common interests of all chapters as well as the Wikimedia movement in general. So, if chapters can pick members of their board to be representatives, there needs to be some safeguard that prevents them from being replaced willy-nilly or ordered around to vote according to what the board wants. Agreed? sebmol ? 08:31, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
I see your point. We don't want a situation where 50%+1 of chapters have appointed someone whose sole interest is to avoid their chapter being censured. But this is a remote scenario, in my view. If one chapter rep arrives with a mission to deflect blame away from their own chapter, the other chapter reps will not let them. The people who are likely to volunteer for this kind of thing are likely to be interested in transparency and accountability, not in politics and blame-avoidance. The Council will have leadership (including staff) which will set a positive, responsible tone.
On the other hand, I still put a fair bit of weight on the need to keep participation in the Council easy (particularly for new chapters) and communication between Chapter Council representatives and Chapter Boards smooth and easy.
It would be interesting to hear other perspectives on this - I think it's an important point to work out, though I would be happy with whatever consensus emerges about this. The Land (talk) 18:36, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

KISS or B[edit]

I have not understood exactly the opposition of the two models. In my opinion the model KISS is flexible and easy to implement but the model B can be an evolution of the model KISS.

It makes sense because at the start there is no need to create a staff and mainly now because we have to proceed quickly.

In general I would consider the model KISS like a model for the "kick-off period" and decide after the better organization of the council (it could be the model B but it could be also the model B version 2.0). What is really important is not to create some "elephant organization" which can be more an obstacle to the evolution of the chapters council instead of a facilitator. --Ilario (talk) 13:49, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

Are you missing a "not" in your last sentence? SJ talk   14:07, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes thank you. I am just going to correct it. --Ilario (talk) 16:00, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
"It makes sense because at the start there is no need to create a staff" - Just for my understanding, can you elaborate on that point? Do you, by "start", mean end of March or rather over the course of the next months or year? If in the latter, why do you think staff would not be needed? sebmol ? 17:08, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Interesting idea, Ilario. / Anyway, there might be a transitional or starting phase in which the organization will not have paid board members etc. Ziko (talk) 22:23, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
My position and the official position of Wikimedia Österreich: Both models are ok for us and we don't go into details on purpose. It would make the decision process really hard if everyone goes into details and insists in getting those fixed. We will never reach consensus then. So if we can live with it - go with it. Details can be arranged later when we have some experience how it turns out to work. We can always change and adopt later.
Therefore, our preference for now is "KISS". We are sure that we need to change into "Model B" sometimes but we don't know if this will be in one year or in ten. So start with "KISS" and adopt as needed. --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 20:28, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
@Sebmol: In my opinion to have an organization of staff now it's too early. For instance in any big organization there is a transitional phase dedicated to the discussion of the organization (let's say: "constitutive phase"). In my opinion of the bylaws, the strategic plan and in the legal aspects, may be more urgent. These discussions may help to understand better the organizational structure and to understand the functions and the numbers of paid staff. In my opinion some employees may be urgent, let's say an administrative profile, to push the process and facilitate the organization. --Ilario (talk) 16:59, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Just to clarify: I do not think that the chapters council needs paid staff today or tomorrow, nor am I proposing that staff positions be created right now. I do, however, think that, in order for the council to be effective at what it does and actually be a relief for volunteers, it will need to have staff shortly after getting started. sebmol ? 17:21, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Why I think we should bet for the B model from the beginning[edit]

My opinion is that the structure should be appropriate to the work to be done.

This initiative can be a key element in the balance of the building formed by the organizations around the Wikimedia movement.

Its role should be conditioned first by the genetic code of Chapters and other organizations that work offline in our movement. I think that if these organizations were based on a professional structure financed by funds obtained through the annual campaign, then these organizations would not need to be independent entities and what should be done would be to create WMF offices at each country where necessary. However, if these organizations are based mainly on the active work of volunteers and professional structure is limited to cover the gap of the work that volunteers do not want or can not do then these organizations must be independent entities controlled by the volunteers involved.

Given this genetic code based on channeling the energies of volunteers, the first measure of its success is the amount of work done by volunteers compared to that done by professionals. At the same time to be independent entities and based on volunteers, it is necessary to play a series of roles where it makes sense having a strong professional organization:

  • Coach and help to develop new chapters and organizations in their first steps mainly while they have no professional structure.
  • Establish mechanisms for accountability and transparency and ensure compliance so that these organizations maintain permanent trust, each other, the WMF, the editing community, donors and society in general.
  • Document and publish best practices under a free license explaining in detail how to develop different kinds of activities so that everyone who wants can copy them especially from each other and the newcomers from the most experienced.
  • Coordinate and promote the development of activities and projects that span several chapters and organizations at the same time in particular create mechanisms to facilitate communication and coordination between Chapters, Parner Organizations, Wikigrups, and Affiliates.
  • Facilitate communication between its members and other actors of the movement: The WMF, communities of editors, donors and society at large.

This requires deep changes in the current system. The WMF should delegate the task of establishing and ensuring compliance with standards of accountability and transparency. It should also use this institution as an intermediary to facilitate it relationship with their members. As for Chapters and organizations members they must accept that the Chapters Council do those functions and must pay the membership fee sufficient to maintain these activities with a good performance. Surely many of the tasks that now make the WMF in the field of education and outreach initiatives should be transferred gradually to chapters or the council and the WMF could focus on managing its assets: brands, websites, servers and technology infrastructure, and delegate to this new entity the development of an international network of organizations who support the movement.

I think there is much work to do and that clearly requires dedicated full time professionals.

I think we have to conjure from the beginning the risk of this entity becoming a forum for discussion only usefull to establish a common position of chapters to lobbying against the rest of the movement. Instead we should make of it a tool to facilitate the work and ensure the trust and relationships between everyone. For this to succeed we should make a strong commitment from the beginning from all parties. We can begin by forming the entity and creating the council but there has to be set a short term (for example one year) along which the Chapters Council has achieved its structure, has started to develop its functions and it is established and running.

The roadmap I would suggest:

  1. Signing a letter of intent to be affiliated. This letter should be signed by a significant number of future members. Berlin end of March.
  2. Create the first Provisional Council. April 15.
  3. The Provisional Council defines the work plan for the first 6 months, according to this plan design the structure necessary to develop it, determine the budget and fees, write bylaws. If necessary the Provisional Council should have a support staff person from WMF or from any chapter that can provide it. Present results at Wikimania 2012.
  4. Establish the final list of founding members, payment of initial fees. September 1.
  5. Found the legal entity, rent premises, and hire the executive director. October 30.
  6. Carry out the plan for the first 6 months until April 30, 2013 then presentation of the results and the work plan for next year.

--Gomà (talk) 12:40, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

KISS or B, some historical perspective[edit]

I'd have a simple question: how is the KISS model really different from what we already have? To some extent, all chapters meet once a year at the Wikimedia Conference (or Chapters meeting), to get together and talk. As far as I am concerned, although the structure might be just a bit better rounded, the KISS model does not really provide anything that differs from what we already have, except maybe an ad-hoc director (or should I call them "secretary"?) which might be paid by not very clear means. I am going to try and give some historical perspective on how I have seen Chapters and their relationship with each other, as well as with the Foundation evolve over the years.

You may remember that I was for some time the "Chapters coordinator", paid by the Foundation to play that coordinating role between chapters and Foundation, but also definitely between chapters. It was not a full time job at the time, as there were fewer chapters than today, but it was a challenging and time consuming job nonetheless. The reason why I ended up being paid by the Foundation was because I was assuming that role as a volunteer and at some point couldn't any more, just not enough time. The reason why the chapters coordinator position was wrapped up was because the Foundation was structuring itself, and we believed that there was no need for just one person to be a funnel for chapters to talk to the Foundation, but that every person in the Foundation would be able to talk on par with the chapters about whatever topic it was they were taking care of (so every chapter would talk about Outreach with the Outreach person, Finance with the finance person etc.). The fact of the matter is, this did not really happen. It did happen on the odd issue, event or lawsuit (and still does to this day), but in the end, the communication between Foundation and chapters - as a whole - did not improve in any kind of sustainable way, or we probably would not be facing the situations we are facing today, where the fundraising and funds dissemination discussion takes up so much of our energy.

With hindsight, I would say that someone (or at this stage, definitely more than just one someone) whose job it is to actually listen to and care for the chapters, or any group that needs to work closely with the Foundation, as well as someone whose job it is to make sure that Chapters are all on the same page to best support each other, is a must. As I have hinted above, we've tried the other way, we've tried loose and informal gathering of chapters, regular meetings of representatives and to this day, we have achieved little in terms of making sure that common interests are represented in a structured kind of way. Here I am thinking about things such as chapters negociating fundraising, trademark or even chapters agreements on a common basis (there will always be slight differences in local implementation) simply didn't happen. What I have seen in the past few years is chapters defending themselves (and to me, it is of course their fiduciary responsibility to do so) in their own corner. Which frankly is not sustainable. Another important aspect of having a team of people whose interest it is in the long run to support a Chapters Council, because it is what their everyday job is, lies with the accountability standards issue. I have been a member of the Chapters Committee since it was founded, and it is extremely difficult to assess the viability of a future chapter, to start with. Assessing its success, or failure, one year, or 5 years down the road, is even harder. It takes time, for one, but also skills that a few volunteers may have at any given time, but that might not be present in the long run. Having an executive board whose job it is to implement recommandations, review existing chapters, whose job it is to nudge chapters to make sure they are still in line with what they set out to do, to help chapters who are facing difficulties, or make sure that achievements are shared and used in best practice is unvaluable.

The closest we have come to a working "council" is Iberocoop, which efforts are more than commendable and which success definitely brings hope that chapters (and even chapters to be or interested groups) can work together. However, Iberocoop's strength lies in part in a common culture and language, which makes communication and supporting each other much easier. The challenge rises when you have to coordinate 40 odd organisations that speak close to 40 languages and evolve in 40 different legal frameworks. While I don't think that a Chapters Council works without the unabatted work of volunteers willing to work for our mission, I dare think that it won't work if there isn't professional support whose day job it is to make sure that the ties stays alive, that noone is forgotten because they missed an email on a mailing list, or to make sure that a chapter has a direct link to all other chapters should they face any kind of problems.

Having been on the board of two chapters, I am positive that in this particular constellation, however big the chapter (and I was on the board of Wikimedia France when it was a 5000 EUR organisation), the time and effort it takes to take care of one's own chapter does not leave much room to take care of other chapters. My experience within Wikimedia Deutschland also comforts me in the idea, that if we want to grow and move on as a movement, and concentrate on what we are good at, namely making our mission a reality, this ground work of "keeping track" and "negociations" and "review" being taken care of by professional staff is the way to go. Adding another layer of international responsibility to volunteer work, especially about things which might seem far away, because they're in a language that you don't speak, or don't affect you right now this minute (but might in two years time), is adding a burden on some chapters members/representatives.

Mind you, I am convinced that the volunteers who will be chosen to be part of the chapters Council are an essential part of it, and that they're also a guarantee that the Council never drifts away from our core mission. I am confident that those volunteers chosen by the chapters to make the Chapters Council will manage to give the necessary strategic input so that an executive board can work efficiently. As an example of how dedicated staff can help, I'll just point out how much easier it is to find the time to strategically and responsibly comment a document drafted by one person who has had all the time in the world to put it together, than to try and draft it yourself.

I think that the KISS model will just fail to achieve what we set out to do here, as it relies on time we don't have and the assumption that ad-hoc paid work might be enough to do what we want to do. If our movement truly is to succeed in a decentralized but structured way, we need to put the safeguards in place to make it sustainable. Volunteers like you and me come and go and it is good so, as new ideas come in, but we can't be reinventing the whell at each street corner, we need some continuity, and only a strong and established executive office can guarantee this continuity. That is what model B sets out to do. notafish }<';> 12:52, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

Hosting the association[edit]

During the Finance meeting there was the suggestion to base the organization in Switzerland and probably in Geneva, which is the host of other important NGOs. I would suggest to contact CAGI [4]. This office helps to understand in detail any legal questions, facilitates to find an office space and to receive the visas for the employees. The advantage of Switzerland are mainly due to the financial and tax exemption benefits (for instance a NGO in Switzerland can donate and transfer money to other NGOs and vice-versa without any legal problems). An association can be created quickly and have legal recognition in very short time, as soon the bylaws is ready. --Ilario (talk) 17:46, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the link. My first impulse would have been Singapore, to move away a bit from Europe. Switzerland has its advantages too, of course. sebmol ? 17:47, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Good point, Ilario. I didn't think about, still. One important factor would be where we can find suitable employees, or attract them to, and how costly is living there. And if supporting the chapters / new chapters is an important task of the organization, then it should be in their vicinity. I am not sure how much contact the organization will have with other NGOs, whether the vicinity to them is of vital interest. Ziko (talk) 18:16, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
The swiss chapter is currently in the process in building infrastructure to handle cross-cultural communications as this is needed by the swiss chapter itself - there are four languages and similarly several communities and culture to be unified in one association. WMCH recently hired the first person in this regard, more to come. I consider this as the perfect root for the chapters council which has to deal with the same issues just globally. There is also willingness to share this infrastructure for global coordination. --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 18:21, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Just to add one bit here: the question where the legal seat of this entity should be and where it might have an office or staff are not necessarily linked to one another. Based on the tasks at hand, I would actually not expect too many people involved in the council (whether paid or not) to be located at the same place. Chapter work is inherently local, therefore supporting chapter work would most effectively be local too. In other words, it would make much more sense for a Wikimedia Thailand to be supported by someone in South East Asia than Switzerland, and vice versa. sebmol ? 18:42, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Sebmol, I can't help but think this is indicative of the problem that brought us here. Global south chapters, and being based in one country an ocean apart, while supporting organizations in another. I'm not sure what you meant, but you kind of conflicted yourself, if chapter work is inherently local, support for majority EU chapters should be based in EU? not the other side of the planet, we already have WMF on one. Theo10011 (talk) 18:45, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
You're right. I actually wrote an addition that went into edit conflict. Here it is:
For the development assistance work, I'm envisaging a rather small central office somewhere in the world and a number of remote employees/consultants that each would serve as advisors/assistants to chapters in their geographical region. The main reason why WMUK, WMNL, WMHU, WMSE and WMCZ were invited to participate in the pilot project had more to do with the fact that these were places that were easy for me to reach and less with the fact that those were the most urgent/most interested/most likely to be successful or anything like that. It makes absolutely no sense, as we've seen with the Foundation, to have staff countless time zones away trying to help and keep up with 40 organizations spread all over the planet. sebmol ? 18:48, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
I thought since this was starting small, it needs to have a small central team first before remote employees/consultants all over the world are brought into the equation. It still needs to have physical registration in one country to start with, I would hope the first member/staff/consultant is located locally, or atleast in proximity of the most chapters. Theo10011 (talk) 18:53, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Sure. Like I said: the question where this organization is located from a legal perspective has little bearing on where the people involved in it are located. For the former, the most relevant questions are those of efficiency, stability, legal hospitality, tax considerations, and reachability. Switzerland certainly comes to mind here, as do a few other places. sebmol ? 19:02, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
India, and especially Bangalore appears to be very reachable from the US for consumer call centers. A Global South location with good communications infrastructure would also have definite advantages. First, it could provide cost savings, as well the potential for having more supporting staff. Second, a Global South location would help keep our organization mindful of the need for information access in less affluent countries. On the one hand, I can see that the convenience of a multilingual, easy-to-incorporate Swiss office makes perfect sense for supporting the European chapters. But on the other hand-- the question of where to incorporate also takes us to the question of overall movement priorities and direction. My guess is that we will need multiple physical locations, similar to Iberocoop, to provide regional support structure where people can meet in person, in order to support the more widely-dispersed locations like Australia. Switzerland would be a great start for supporting Europe, but to my mind it also raises some important questions about our overall direction. I'd like to suggest that we ask ourselves, how accessible and participatory is an organization, if you are a contributor earning Global South wages, when your group's main offices are located in places that are so incredibly expensive that you may never be able to visit in person? A third point-- in order to avoid getting into geographically based conflicts, a neutral location could be very helpful. India had that neutral role during the Cold War. If a Singapore location, somewhat more neutral for Chinese speakers, resulted in improved Chinese-language access to information, that alone could potentially benefit a *huge* number of people someday. Brazil or the Czech Republic are also possibilities. Although it seems reasonable to me to have sort of supporting presence in Switzerland, I'd like to suggest we also take a look at the options for basing a chapters headquarters in the Global South, because this would go a long ways towards setting a tone of service for our movement. (Alternatively, we also could position Wikipedia editing not as something of service, but rather as something fun, cheap, and fashionable, by putting Chapters Headquarters near the beach in Mexico, with a hostel ... or near the Djembe Hotel in Mali Dolphin Lodge in the San Blas Islands, which has high speed internet access ... ) Djembayz (talk) 03:04, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

Singapore? Isn't that sort of the reasons for the problem? WMF being a US-based organization, and majority of the fundraising chapters being EU based. I'm not sure how adding Asia to the mix will simplify the situation. There is no Singapore chapter or community, the asian chapters are few, young and quiet remote from each other. I imagined EU specifically, to support the European chapters, not move away from them. I think Switzerland is a very good suggestion, given the legalities and the nature of the organization, I support it. Theo10011 (talk) 18:42, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Please see above. Just to add one bit: this isn't about fundraising chapters, nor will there likely be all that many any time in the near future. I would propose that we have people located where chapters need them. sebmol ? 18:50, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree, but as you mentioned - WMUK, WMNL, WMHU, WMSE and WMCZ, whatever the exact nature of the selection criteria, they are indeed European chapters, majority of whom have or expressed interest in fundraising. This can mean, just growing, not necessarily the currently accepted definition of fundraising. Theo10011 (talk) 18:56, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
The aim of my link is to support an initiative in the best point of view. If the problem is to speed up the process, I thought that the link may help. I have contacted CAGI some days ago, they are waiting a list of questions to be submitted in order to help in to the evaluation of the proposal to have this new NGO organization in Switzerland. --Ilario (talk) 20:01, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Hi Ilario and Manuel, I thought more about your suggestion, and I'm really in favor of having the council's physical registration and address be located in Switzerland. I can't imagine a better location in proximity of European chapters, with strong non profit laws and a multilingual environment. I would be really grateful if WMCH can look into this more, and give a comparison of what benefits the council would have of being located in Switzerland, along with some information about legal registration process in Switzerland. I really do hope that you continue exploring this further. This is a great idea. Thanks. Theo10011 (talk) 10:55, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

I think that both WMAR and WMMX (or any of the Iberocoop chapters) would be more than happy to host the organization, and we would also send a very strong message that we are not creating another "European Centric" organization. As Djembayz says above, not forbid European chapters to create a "sub-office" in CH (or whatever they thing fit) but the head should be somewhere else, so other chapters feels included in the process. Béria Lima msg 14:05, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

Analysis about the localization of the Wikimedia Chapter’s Council in Geneva. --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 12:21, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

Thank you Manuel for this. Needless to say, the final decision should be a collective one taken by all chapters on where this should be hosted. I am only going to add some criteria that I think might be helpful when considering the location-
  • Stability- Political/organizational. The majority of the global south has issues with bureaucracy. The political climate should be stable, the legislative history should be supportive of Non-profits.
  • Internationalism- The ideal location should have a strong multilingual background with many languages and cultures. It would help dealing with other international chapters
  • Ease of local compliance - tax, legal, international transfers and visit.
  • Ease of access- Travel to and from the hosting location should be easy for majority of the chapter.
  • Proximity of local community members and chapters- It might be helpful to have local community members or an existing chapter in the vicinity. To act as a go-to point, so the council won't be alone.
As others have suggested, I don't think hosting the council in a third location where no chapter or community member exist would be ideal. India is really the antithesis of what I had in mind. Beria, Argentina is a viable location but the distance and language for European chapters might be an issue.
As far as I can see, Geneva given its stability and neutrality, and the history of hosting so many international non-profits seems like a worthy candidate. It might be good to do an analysis, by making a list of criteria, and assigning points for the purposes of an analysis.
Higher cost of conducting business might be an issue in Geneva, but I believe since the majority of the work is aimed to be decentralized, the expenses can be limited to a great extent. For the legal registration purpose and merely hosting the organization, the cost involved should not be as high.
For my own personal suggestion, I think Geneva is a great option. The final decision of course, rests with the other chapters and what they think makes sense to them. Thanks to WMCH for the report, Thank you guys! Theo10011 (talk) 19:02, 27 March 2012 (UTC)

One intolerable provision.[edit]

While most of the document is a positive step forward there is one point that I find unacceptable. The naming of a Chapter's representative should depend solely on the rules of the individual chapter, and its own circumstances. If the chapter wants the person to have a one year term, or serve more than two terms that is up to the chapter. To say that he cannot be a member of the chapter's board or executive makes absolutely no sense to me. I would even be prepared to require that our council representative will ex officio be a member of our board. Our representative will primarily represent our chapter; he cannot be effective unless he is a part of the chapter's governing structure. Eclecticology (talk) 12:01, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

I think that basically the question is what kind of organism we want. If we want a body with agility to take decisions and capability to work hard, then the model structure can not be too different than proposed. If the structure changes then the body will take a different approach and I think it would be difficult to meet expectations.
One issue is that the Council is a body to work that requires a significant time commitment. Its members must be able to focus their dedication to the Council. How to reconcile this with at the same time being active members of the board of the chapter?
The other question is the concept that the governing body is the council, not the chapters. It is the council members who meet and take decisions without going into a slow and complex process of decision-making going to each chapter to decide how to vote for each representative and if consensus is not reached again another round. How to best ensure freedom for members of the council to take decisions without consulting the chapters every time and simultaneously letting in the hands of the chapters the composition of the governing body?
--Gomà (talk) 18:20, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
There is a bit of a tension here between the role of the Council in reflecting Chapters' views, and conducting peer-review activities. If the Chapters Council is producing a joint statement on a matter, then it is important that the Council members accurately reflect the views of their Chapter boards and Chapter memberships. We can't have a situation where the Chapters Council issues a statement and then 50% of chapters say issue a contradictory statement! Equally, if the Chapters Council is producing an accountability standard then we can't have Chapter representatives voting against it on the grounds that they know their own chapter has broken it... The Land (talk) 18:41, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
I do not think it is a realistic concern. One representative may abuse the trust but most of them (if not all) will make decisions consistent with the interests of the chapters who named them. Regarding establishing a standard that is not met. I think if it happens it is not reasonable to believe neither that they will impose it knowing that Chapters will fail to comply nor that they will refrain from imposing the standard knowing that it is necessary. It seems to me that is more reasonable to think that they will impose a term and supply support to enable chapters to comply.--Gomà (talk) 23:08, 1 March 2012 (UTC)
For me the first of the purposes is the most important: "Representation - determine consensus positions on common chapter interests and represent them in relations with the Foundation, the project communities, and interested external parties." I do not believe that we should sacrifice`the proper representation of chapters for the sake of efficiency. The time-commitment argument is a red herring. The Council is only scheduled to meet in person once a year with the rest of their work being mostly done on-wiki. Other chapter directors have other tasks to fulfill than merely attending meetings. How is the Council representative's task any more onerous that that of other executives? If a representative must consult his chapter, so what? There is ample time for that when decisions are wiki-based. Those who refuse to do that are doing a disservice to their chapters, and should probably be relieved of their position. Is there any intention to have surprise positions taken at the annual in-person meeting? How can anybody properly reflect a chapter's interests without being a part of its governing structure.
We need to remember that the chapters are the legal entities within their own countries, with the full right to enter contracts. I see the Council as essentially a democratically structured bottom-up organization, not a top-governed structure that dictates rules to the chapters. The non-membership structure of the WMF is one of the mistakes that has led to its mission creep, and has allowed it to take the positions which have so irritated some chapters. Without that irritation we would not be having the present discussion at all. We owe it to ourselves not to repeat the same mistakes. Eclecticology (talk) 01:34, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
I hesitate to classify the responsibilities in order of importance. But if we talk about critical factor of success or failure I agree with you that this can be critical.
I think it should be clear from the beginning that "represent" is not to create a monolithic bloc to confront the WMF or communities or to present in front of third parties with conflicting positions of those of the WMF and communities.
We have to make clear that "represent" is to provide a voice to expedite dialogue to agree with the WMF, and communities about solutions to the challenges we are facing as movement and to adopt consistent positions to third parties.
I do not agree that non-membership structure of the WMF has led to mission creep. In fact I think a structure with voting open to all editors is more grassroots friendly than a structure allowing to vote only to the members paying fees and open to members that they are not editors of the projects.
I think that what has led to mission creep is the lack of initiative of the chapters and / or ChapCom to engage in the responsibilities that the Council can take now. Initiatives as the best practices in public outreach or education program are for me among good examples of the more important responsibilities the Council should take. And doing this job time consuming is not a red herring.
I see the Council as a bottom-bottom organization providing the chapters and other organizations services of auditing, coordination, promotion of shared projects, facilitating communications with WMF and communities…--Gomà (talk) 10:04, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
For me the first of the purposes is the most important: "Representation - determine consensus positions on common chapter interests and represent them in relations with the Foundation, the project communities, and interested external parties. - Indeed, if the council's primary purpose is representation, your objections make total sense. There is, however, no prioritization in the proposal as it stands. There are four distinct (albeit somewhat connected) purposes for which the council is supposed to be created. The structure has to take account of all of them, which is why we need to take care that representation is there, but also the ability to act even if some chapters aren't happy with what the council is doing in, for example, cases where they consistently miss the standards the council has set up. The council is an entity distinct from the chapters, yet its members flow from them. Model B simply strikes a balance between total independence (like the Foundation) and total dependence (like model KISS). sebmol ? 13:41, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Board of Directors[edit]

I believe that someone has already suggested that the name for this entity is a misnomer in that it really refers to staff type positions. There may be great advantage to having directors who are volunteers and Council members at the same time. This is a question of legal responsibility. Employees, including a Chief Operating Officer often have different motivations from elected volunteers, and must understand that the volunteers are the ones in charge. The Council is free to give a wide mandate to staff, and to establish parameters within which that staff will operate; however, it is the Council to which the staff remains as a whole answerable. Eclecticology (talk) 01:51, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Agreed. A board seemed like a misnomer to me as well, but I am not well-versed in European non-profit naming conventions and practices, so I chalked it up to a cultural issue. I would like to know if this is universal. There seems to be a clear distinction between board and staff, as I know one can not be paid, and is legally accountable, while the other is not. Theo10011 (talk) 10:59, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
There are actually three groups here: representatives, board members, and (professional) staff (which may be paid or not). The representatives together are the ones deciding on the fundamental things like budgets, standards, joint positions, policies, etc. It's the board's job to execute these decisions, with or without additional staff as needed. To allow for better understanding of this, somebody proposed the term "executive board", which would indeed be more suitable. sebmol ? 13:45, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Legal status[edit]

What will be the legal status of the Council? This will be very important if it is to start having employees. Those employees will need to fall under the employment laws of some country. What provisions will we have to ensure that they are adequately covered for purposes of social security and tax withholding? Eclecticology (talk) 01:55, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Hi Eclecticology, thank you for your comments. I was actually quite concerned with this as well. The new direction seems to be more of a decentralized, remote employee based approach, which overlooked the registration and practicalities of the situation; I am uncertain of that direction. I originally envisioned the Council as occupying a legal status and a physical address from the first day, somewhere in Europe. I assumed Germany might be a good location last year, but after Ilario's suggestion above, I am much more inclined towards having this be registered in Switzerland. I can't think of a better location, in proximity of the European chapters, in a multicultural/multilingual environment with strong non-profit laws and local infrastructure. I would really hope WMCH continues discussing and exploring this idea further, they have my complete support. Theo10011 (talk) 10:50, 2 March 2012 (UTC)
It may be too early to consider any kind of employee based process. I really would like to see the chapters working together first, before the Council gets into hiring a lot of staff. In the long term I think the Council should take over many of the functions that the WMF has assumed to be its own, but before we get there it's important to build a consistent vision among the chapters. So far only a minority of chapters have participated. With most chapters present, Berlin should give us the opportunity to build the vison. Eclecticology (talk) 02:49, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
@Eclecticology: That's a question to be discussed. I would imagine it will be some sort of legal entity based in whatever jurisdiction that is best suited for the purposes it is set up for. In order to figure out what the best legal structure is, it would be necessary to first figure out what factors are most important, then look at some possible solutoons, then make a choice. We do have the whole world at our disposal, so let's not limit ourselves to what each one of us has most experience with. sebmol ? 13:57, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
@Theo10011: I agree that the council ought to have a separate legal status and a physical address. I haven't seen anyone suggest something else. I wouldn't necessarily go with Europe as the location, mostly due to tax issues. But regardless of where the legal seat is, I find it hard to believe that the council's activities will be effective if the staff were to be concentrated geographically. What would the benefits be of that? sebmol ? 13:57, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

On the KISS Model[edit]

At least this model is simpler and less bureaucratic than the "B" Model, but I think that a few changes are in order.

  1. "ChaCo" is a confusing acronym given that the Chapters Committee could just as easily be identified with the same acronym. Simply saying "The Council" would be clearer.
    Chapcom will be renamed to Affiliation Committee, I like ChaCo ;). T'will take a little bit of getting used to, but shouldn't be a major problem.notafish }<';> 10:55, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. In the Essence and Scope the meaning of "produces chapter statements towards the WMF" is unclear. My own vision on this point would be for the Council to develop policy standards that could be adopted by chapters; This would include financial reporting and fundraising, but would also cover a broad range of other topics. It is important to remember that chapters remain independent legal entities established in their respective countries. Nothing adopted by the Council is binding on any chapter until it has been ratified by the chapter.
  3. Recognized chapters should be members of the Council as a matter of right without precondition. Respecting majority votes of the Council should not imply that decisions of the Council will be binding on a chapter's operations.
  4. I agree that chapters should be completely free to choose their representatives in the manner they see fit, at the time they see fit and for the term length they choose.
  5. Each chapter should be entitled to an alternate (I prefer this to "deputy") who can also attend meetings. The principle of one chapter would remain, but the alternate would be free to vote whenever authorized by the primary representative, including when the representative needs to be absent from the voting room for a short time.
  6. The Council is free to establish whatever committees of its own members that it wants, including an executive committee or directors. The directors would be responsible for ensuring proper governance, and empowered to act more quickly and meed more often than the Council. Employees, including a Chief Operating Officer, could be hired as needed.
  7. The Roadmap section could be stated more clearly. Even provisional councils are free to adopt their own operating rules; they just can't presume to be representing anyone more than themselves. There can be no official representatives to the Council until there is a Council. Still it's fair enough to presume that those present in Berlin are acting representatives, and to suggest to chapters that they name their first representative at the time they ratify the Councils structural documents. Eclecticology (talk) 11:47, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
If the council can make no decisions that bind chapters in their operations, it will have done not even half the job. I understand all your points, but what you're proposing is not much different from what we have today, and will most certainly not lead to a situation much better than today, either. sebmol ? 13:51, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

First draft of a charter[edit]

I have started a first draft of a charter for the Chapters Council here.

It is time for bed now, so I'll finish it tomorrow. Please feel free to edit it at will (please don't wait for me to finish it).

It is a lot longer and more detailed than I expect the final version to be (it's already 750 words and I'm only half way through, but we should be able to trim that down a lot), but I think it is easier to start from there and simplify it than the other way around. This way, we can avoid missing things out just because we never thought about them rather than because we made a concious decision that they were unnecessary. --Tango (talk) 00:28, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Please see Chapters Council/Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association. Kind regards Ziko (talk) 00:41, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Definition of the responsibility for Knowledge exchange[edit]

Knowledge exchange is currently defined as "facilitate the exchange of experiences, ideas, and useful institutional knowledge between chapters". I propose this becomes "provide a repository and forum for improvement of chapter governance, accountability and organizational best practice" as institutional knowledge or exchange of experiences seems weaker phrasing for what I expect the responsibility to be. Thanks -- (talk) 09:33, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

I'm just a tad worried that "repository" has a very "dead" ring to it, on the contrary to "facilitate", which gives an idea of active involvement. Forum has that, but it sounds like a big noisy thing. I like the world facilitate in the first version, I like the word "provide" in yours. I also think that organisational best practice (but maybe I dont understand the word exactly) is too restrictive. I see the Council as a sounding board not only for accountability and organisational best practices - which I understand as "organisational development", ie. tied to how your organisation grows, for example - but also practical stuff. Experiences is for me very important. I think the Council should be a place where the chapters find other chapters that have done things (as big as changing their bylaws, crossing the 100 000€ line, and as small as a Wikipedia Academy or participating in a tradeshow on free content) that they wish to do. So we should integrate these "best practical practices" ifyouseewhatImean. Your sentence puts it on a level that may not appeal to smaller chapters (see my answer to Lodewijk below) that don't need "big" things. notafish }<';> 10:47, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
The Council can provide a forum, but I doubt that it will be the forum itself or force itself as bureaucratic intermediary in the exchange of ideas. The rewording suggested was intended to reduce the scope to focus on the things the Council will deliver rather than more general good stuff which goes on anyway and is unlikely to ever become a measurable outcome of having a Council. Thanks -- (talk) 08:42, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

'Small' chapters and membership[edit]

I have read this discussion with interest. I was unfortunately not present in Paris, so I don't know about the discussion there, but these discussions strike me as being primarily between people from the 'big', 'old' and/or 'rich' chapters. I have seen extremely little (if at all) participation from the not-so-obvious countries (Middle and Western Europe with a few outliers such as Theo and Gomà). Please note the quotation marks everywhere, which I put there because the terms are not entirely correct and for lack of better.

When I read the task description on the attached page, the goals sounded pretty good - except that they are primarily focused on the vested chapters. Besides that, there are now several people aiming for an organization with apparently 3 or so staff members (Model B), whether on the short or long term. I seriously have to wonder if the costs and benefits are well balanced for the chapters over the world. I haven't reached a conclusion yet, but I would like to pose the question "What is the added value for a new chapter to join this initiative?"

A resulting thought from that, is that if the smaller chapters would have less incentive to join (costs time, effort, perhaps money) then it is likely several will not join. In my opinion for a council to be successful, it has to include all chapters. If the model is right (the obligations should be opt-in etc.) then I would even be in favor of making membership of the council automatic - whether they wish to exersize their rights/obligations as a member is then another question. That would allow for more flexibility. Effeietsanders (talk) 13:18, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Hello Lodewijk, the point of Model B was that there will be the means to support small chapters. The contribution they will have to pay to the Chapters' Association will, of course, be in accordance with the limited financial resources they have.
It is important that a chapter voluntarily and consciously joins the Association; the chapters are independently founded organizations. If chapters are made "members" automatically, and are inactive, there would have to be provisions with regard to quora etc. Ziko (talk) 16:49, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
Could you then perhaps go a bit more in detail what it should exactly do for smaller chapters? Give some specific examples? And why a Chapter Council is the best way to accomplish that? Effeietsanders (talk) 17:14, 7 March 2012 (UTC)
For one, I would like to ask, what are "smaller chapters"? Let's assume these are either very young chapters (WMES comes to mind, but I wouldn't call them "small"), or chapters that probably don't have a potential to grow to a full-fledged office with 5 people due to money/location/whatever restriction in their country. This established, I am not sure I understand your question, but I believe it to be: "What does the Chapters Council do for smaller chapters?" Right? Here my opinion.
  • It links them to decisions that might affect them later on. Instead of having decisions made by the oldest chapters in the course of their participation to international mailing lists, knowledge of the movement and its players etc., it gives them a voice to weigh on decision that affect them as a chapter. To give an example. The Chapters agreement was developped a long time ago, by the 10 odd chapters that were there at the time and the Foundation. If a council exists, it allows them to participate in its rewording should there be any need, to present their particularities, wishes etc. Because they have a vote, they can also weigh on the decision to adopt this or that thing that will affect them as a Wikimedia entity.
  • Also, I see the Council as being a hub for exchange of best practices. The idea is to have a central point where you know that your question will be forwarded to the right people. You want to do a Wikipedia Academy? Rather than sifting through hundreds of meta pages to find who did one not too long ago, the staff of the council has read all reports and has all the addresses and can direct you directly to the right person, even better, they probably can direct you to the person who can speak your language and has an experience that matches yours. This goes for events, legal problems, partnerships, editor retention, volunteer motivation, you name it. A "General Secretariat" of sorts, which allows better networking of chapters. Whether you're big or small, the Council provides you a direct link to all other chapters.
These are two of the big advantages I see for small chapters to join. notafish }<';> 10:40, 8 March 2012 (UTC)
We have been discussing this issue within the Board of Wikimedia Chile, a chapter that you can consider "small" (but proud ;) ). And we fully agree with the idea of the Chapters Council. We haven't been able to be more involved in this discussion just because of the language barrier and also because we must distribute our time in more stuff than other chapters with more involved people... but we have followed all the discussion.
As Notafish said, there are several issues why the Chapters Council is a good opportunity for smaller chapters. For me, it's a big opportunity to exchange best practices with equal partners, to have a voice within the Wikimedia Movement, to share perspectives that are currently invisible in our movement because of geographical and linguistic barriers. Iberocoop, in a smaller scale, has worked on this basis and we are really satisfied on its results and we believe (at least as Wikimedia Chile but I'm sure other Iberocoop members thinks the same) that doing it on a global scale will be a great opportunity for chapters and the movement in general. --B1mbo (talk) 13:26, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

About binding decisions and why we should have them[edit]

Again and again, I see that there is a creeping fear about the fact that the Council's decisions (whatever its primary form) are binding for all chapters. So I have to ask, where does this fear come from? What are the decisions that the chapters/individuals are potentially afraid of? I have turned this in all possible ways, and I can't see any decision that "some" chapters would make that would be detrimental to other chapters. My analysis on this:

  • To this day, decisions that have been made and that affect chapters have been made either by the Wikimedia Foundation, or by the Wikimedia Foundation and a small subset of chapters that are in constant contact with the Foundation, or by a (small or big) group of volunteers that have worked together to make things happen. Examples:
    • Chapter agreement: dates back to the time where there were, what, 10 chapters at the most. Was drafted with input from chapters and Foundation. Today, it is changed for particularities at the sole discretion of the Foundation for new chapters.
    • Fundraising agreement: same process as above, drafted by a few chapters that had a stake in it and the Foundation. Until today negociated by chapters alone in their corner to suit their own interest.
    • Guidelines and requirements for new chapters: these have been developped here by the Chapcom and interested community active people, and have been accepted as is by the Board of the Foundation.
    • Grants agreement: drafted by the Foundation, discussed with the chapters, but in the end, a Foundation thing.

Now. All chapters have agreed to one and/or the other of these agreements. In this, they have decided that those agreements were binding for their chapter. All chapters (of those coming after the creation of the Chapcom) have agreed to have their bylaws reviewed, sometimes drastically changed, by the Chapcom, they have agreed that the Chapcom's decision was one you couldn't do without and have agreed that a certain set of requirements were needed to become a Wikimedia Chapter. All chapters have signed the chapter agreeement. All of this, binding.

So again, why this fear? We are all used to making agreements, and, more importantly, we've all agreed that our mission was binding, since it is the very essence of our existence. How different is it to agree that a body, in which YOU have a voice (on the contrary to what really has happened to this day), a body of peers (we all are walking in the same direction aren't we?) can make decisions that you will have to apply? If we don't have a council, or if it can't make decisions that apply to all, we're back in a world where a few chapters and the Foundation make the decisions for all the others. In a Council, those decisions are made together. Does anyone really think that the idea is for the Council to make decisions that are rejected by 49% of chapters? Does anyone really think that the idea is to make decisions that force some chapters to get out of the council because they don't agree? Are we, chapters, as a "body", less intelligent and less reasonable than those who have been making decisions that affect the way we work until now?

So let's look at what the things are that a chapter council might decide:

  • Set Accountability standards: does anyone disagree that we need more accountability, more transparency? Are there any scenarios where those accountability and transparency standards will go against a chapter's interest? Aren't we all already doing our best to make this happen?
  • Review and enforce accountability standards: Do we really think that we'll kick out everyone who has a good reason to have failed on one point? That we won't build in mechanisms for chapters who need resources, help, whatever, to meet those accountability standards? That we're stupid up enough to not develop a scheme that empowers all chapters to be in a position to meet those accountability standards?
  • to further and represent the common interests of the chapters: Keyword here: common! Do we think that we have so many clashing interests, where 51% of the chapters will say "yes", where another 49% would say "no"?
  • to facilitate, to assist and to serve', the words speak for themselves, they are not dictate, decide and impose, and there is a reason for that, that's not what a chapters council sets out to do.

I don't get the fear. I really don't. I'd be happy to see concrete examples of binding decisions that can be made that will go against a chapter, small or big. Thanks. notafish }<';> 11:18, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Hello Notafish, indeed the Chapters Association will save a lot of time to all chapters, but especially it will support the small ones. And the big ones have an interest in helping to build up a lot of chapters making the movement - and this means alo themselves - stronger and stronger.
I note, maybe as you, that some people tend to give the executives a function title that does not represent their central position in an organization. :-) Ziko (talk) 00:21, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
The things you mention weren't binding on chapters - they were agreed to by chapters. Obviously, chapters have to live up to their agreements, but they could have said "no". (If they said "no" to the Chapters Agreement, they wouldn't be a chapter, of course, but they still had that option.) Legally speaking, the Council can't bind chapters. A chapter's members and board have final decision making power and can't legally delegate that to anyone else (at least under English law, and I'm pretty sure it is the same for other countries). What the Council can do is say "If you want X, you have to do Y." Receiving grants or the right to fundraise on WMF owned websites can be made conditional on meeting certain accountability requirements, for example. You could even make membership of the council conditional on certain things (although you would have to accept that chapters have the right to leave the council if they don't want to abide by a decision). What you can't do is force a chapter to do something that its board (or membership) doesn't want it to do. --Tango (talk) 02:55, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
Hmmm. maybe it's my English that does not let this through, but as I understand it, nothing can be binding in the legal sense of the term if you don't agree to it. However, as you point out, if a chapter does not want to sign the chapter's agreement, then they can't be a chapter, end of the story. So the idea here is to say, if a Chapters Council decides that something should be applied to all chapters (for example: accountability standards), and say, the Wikimedia Foundation agrees with it, and says "if you don't follow the chapter's council recommandations,you can't be a chapter any more",then the outcome is exactly the same as with the chapter's agreement. That's where I don't understand wy there is so much fear about the council making "binding decisions". I am aware that the Chapters Council in itself can't impose anything on its non-members if they have not explicitely agreed to it. But if the Chapter's Council gives out recommandations, all it takes is the Foundation (ultimately responsible for recognizing chapters, granting trademark usage etc.) agreeing to those recommandations for them to become an obligation for every chapter that wishes to remain a chapter, whether or not their board/their members agree to it. I can't imagine the Council making decisions that will be completely rejected by the Foundation, or by all its members, and I can see decisions made by the Council that are going to be incorporated into what it entails (rights and obligations) to be a chapter, for example. The difference with today being that if you participate in the Council, you can make sure that your voice weighs in the dcision, which is not the case today, and which is not the case if you don't participate. Every chapter, within or without the council, is still free to say "no, we won't abide". With exactly the same result: they might loose their chapter's status. notafish }<';> 10:07, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
The WMF cannot unilaterally amend the chapters agreement. It can refuse to renew it when it expires and offer a new version to sign, which gets the same result, but it isn't immediate or automatic. You have to explicitly agree that particularly amendment before it comes into effect. --Tango (talk) 18:37, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
I understand why some people fear about "binding decision" although I don't agree with them. Nopbody wants another burden, especially when some chapters are already trying to fulfill their obligations from the WMF and their local authorities. We can all agree that accountability -for example- it is important, but you can't apply the same standards to the German or the Chilean chapters...
That's why I believe it is really important to have a council where all positions not only can be discussed but also considered before taking a binding resolution. The structure must ensure that. Now, we can all say "yes, it will happen" but some may fear that it's only words and in a few years won't happen. We've already seen in some discussions with the WMF where they say will listen to the chapters and at the end nothing change. I believe we can create a council where we can take binding resolutions agreed by anyone (consensus anyone? we should get used to it :D ) and, if there are specific situations where some chapters don't agree at all because it will damage them, we can make exceptions. --B1mbo (talk) 13:15, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Who decided which of the 2 proposed draft charters will be agreed/amended at the Wikimedia Conference?[edit]

There are two proposed charters, one by Ziko, and another by Tango. It seems that Ziko's draft has become the "default" draft because it is the draft on which opinions and proposed amendments are being solicited during the Wikimedia Conference. --seav (talk) 13:32, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

Ok, after looking at it, I'll answer my own question. Ziko's draft is the original and Tango just provided a second draft. --seav (talk) 18:34, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
Actually, mine was posted first (albeit by less than 20 minutes - we were both working on them at the same time each without knowing the other was doing so). Ziko's seems to have been the one people have chosen to work on. There was a lot of overlap between the two, so it didn't really make a great deal of difference. --Tango (talk) 19:54, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

Unintended politicization of chapter creation[edit]

If we have a Chapters Council which has decision-making powers and where each chapter has one vote, then that may unintentionally influence the creation of future chapters and may result in large countries (by land area) having multiple votes in the Council. We already see this in the United States having 2 sub-national chapters and thus the United States would have 2 votes in the Council.

A hypothetical example: If a large country were to decide to follow the US model and create chapters organized on a sub-national basis, then people may suspect that the Chapters Council may be a reason, whether or not that is true.

Local Chapters are created in order to best further the Wikimedia mission in a specific geographical jurisdiction. We leave it to the communities who want to become organized as a chapter to decide the geographical scope of their Chapter as long as they are within a single jurisdiction and there's no overlap with existing chapters. Thus, we have no objections to there being a Wikimedia DC and a Wikimedia NYC. However, if there's a Chapters Council, such future sub-national chapters would have the effect of raising eyebrows and put an additional burden on the Chapters Committee to ascertain if such chapters were created with the Chapters Council in mind. --seav (talk) 18:28, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

The same issue already exists with the Chapter Selected WMF Board seats. They are selected using a one-chapter-one-vote system, which does give the US two votes. I agree it is a problem. I'm not in favour of sub-national chapters (Hong Kong is a unique situation and I don't object to that chapter). I think the US should just get its act together and create a national chapter like everyone else has done. It's probably not worth worrying about that now, but it is something the council should probably discuss once it is up and running. --Tango (talk) 19:58, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
I know that this is a way belated reply, but please bear in mind that there are certain requirements that all groups need to fulfil on their way to chapter-hood and I am sure that those that would be willing to form a chapter only to be represented in the Chapters Council will find it hard to do so -- especially with the new affiliation models on the way starting this August/September. odder (talk) 22:06, 3 June 2012 (UTC)