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Invitation for feedback

Hello all,

Read this message in different languages.

For more than 20 years, we have grown to become a global movement unlike any other, with passionate contributors, diverse projects, and dedicated groups and affiliates.

As a committee comprising contributors from around the world, we have collaborated for months, engaging in numerous virtual committee and drafting group calls, and came together in-person three times in the past 18 months, including our most recent gathering in early June. These drafts are a result of extensive effort and refinement, and we are delighted to share them with you. They provide an opportunity for improvement and strength, allowing us to shape the future of our Movement.

We value your suggestions and feedback as we work together to create the Wikimedia Movement Charter. We understand that time may be limited for some. With that in mind, we have key open questions regarding funds dissemination, Global Council structure and membership, and others that we would love to hear your thoughts on. You can share your feedback here on the wiki, during calls, or at upcoming regional and thematic events.

Anass Sedrati (talk) 17:20, 13 July 2023 (UTC)

Open questions from the draft chapter

Fund Dissemination

What role should the Global Council have in fund dissemination?

  • Oversight or review of WMF decisions
  • Coordination with WMF
  • Other (please elaborate)

Should there be a committee that reports to the Global Council and handles central/cross-regional fund dissemination?

What should be the Global Council’s role with regards to the allocation of the funds within the WMF?

  • The Global Council should be consulted on the allocation of the funds within the WMF.
  • The Global Council should have no role in the allocation of the funds within the WMF and only be informed.
  • Other (please elaborate)

Please add your answers/questions/thoughts below

  • I am of the opinion WMF/Bot should decide on budget and allocations, but that there should be a body under the control of the global council that handles these issues and support central/cross-regional fund dissemination, both staff and representation from regional funds committees will be needed. And no role for Global council of the allocation within WMF.Anders Wennersten (talk) 16:18, 12 July 2023 (UTC)
+1 this is the only sensible solution. Otherwise you're basically just creating a committee to manage the WMF, which is not how it is designed organizationally and would inefficient. Steven Walling • talk 01:24, 15 July 2023 (UTC)
  • In my opinion, there are two kinds of expenses. There are expenses that are essential to keep the Wikimedia projects running, there is little that the Global Council can discuss about those expenses, WMF can allocate those funds without Global Council consultation. The Global Council role in fund dissemination should be in those expenses that are not fundamental but the WMF decided to put those resources in activities that they believe will improve the Wikimedia Movement in some way. Those expenses should be deeply examined by the Global Council, they should verify which results are expected for those resources, consider if the importance of those results for the Wikimedia Movement are proportional to the financial resources planned for them, verify if something similar was done in the past, and if it was, check if results were the expected and if something was learned in the past experiences that should be considered in the new plan. The Global Council should make an initial report, ask volunteers opinions, process those opinions and publish a final report, that can contain suggestions for modifications in the fund dissemination plan. The WMF should have the final decision for the fund dissemination plan, but when they don't follow the Global Council suggestion they should explain in details why they did that. Danilo.mac talk 23:13, 13 July 2023 (UTC)
  • I think the wording reinforces the current problematic mindset where donations belong to the WMF by default, except for some small fraction that gets earmarked as "community funds", and then the WMF decides largely on its own how to spend the money. The structure we should be evolving towards instead is one where there is an open goal-selection and prioritization process, not limited to any single organization, and then the goals we agree upon are distributed among the organizations according to their capacity. I would rather see the GC and wider community have debates about how to distribute our resources between the various possible goals and initiatives, rather than the various organizations. A democrativ governance process answering "What should we do?" is more likely to be efficient and morally justifiable than one answering "Who should do it?" - the latter obviously matters, but it's both less important, and harder for a non-expert to form an informed opinion on. --Tgr (talk) 23:44, 16 July 2023 (UTC)
    I like the proposal for consultation around: ‘What should we do?’.
    I am on the fringes of Wikipedia involvement, like many users or even contributors.
    Are there any places where key options being considered around ‘What should we do?’ Are being discussed?
    That seems very helpful to a wider audience than how it is done, though that is clearly important to keep it viable.
    My two suggestions for what should be done are:
    Ways for users to flag pages they are interested in but find too complex or otherwise difficult to follow. Perhaps with a short comment to explain, with a few standard and common reasons offered for speedy use.
    Encouragement for simple english or similar web pages linked to more technical ones. For editors to be actively encouraged to create / contribute to simpler, introductory pages on their subjects.
    I suggest these because, much as I like Wikipedia, it is rather nerdy and I feel there is a big learning curve to feel confident in contributing in a significant way.
    I feel encouraging simpler, less technical pages could be a good way to get started for many users. As their ( and my ) confidence increases, I believe the quality and accessibility of the content will increase. I think this will be a way to help create a more diverse community of active editors.
    Clearly, there could be a lot more discussion on how these examples could be done. CuriousMarkE (talk) 05:50, 24 August 2023 (UTC)
    The movement charter drafts and this feedback have been discussed within the Steering committee and the wider group of the Wikimedia CEE Hub and we support the Tgr's comment on this open question. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 15:55, 23 September 2023 (UTC)
  • Hi there @Anders Wennersten, @Steven Walling thank you for the general feedback. We have captured it for the Movement Charter Drafting Committee. @Danilo.mac, really appreciate the pragmatic suggestion and the overall grouping of funds. And @Tgr, as always grateful for your thinking outside the box. The collective "what should we do" approach is something tangible we can collect around. Thank you. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 18:19, 20 July 2023 (UTC)
  • I think that it'd be great if Grant Regional Committees could be involved with the Global Council. I posted an idea for making GRCs elected bodies on this RFC which I'll copy here: GRC elections might look like a SecurePoll vote, where the "honor system" is used: voters can choose to participate in voting for regions that they feel a connection to. This would leave out the complex process of setting eligibility rules for voters in terms of connection (obviously other criteria such as edit count would still be included), avoiding potential disputes for voters whose heritage is of one region but who are living in another. Best, Frostly (talk) 11:57, 3 August 2023 (UTC)
  • WMDE suggests to think of movement funds as being subject as distribution, rather than dissemination. The Global Council (in WMDE’s vision a General Assembly with a board) should closely coordinate with the WMF on funds allocation and distribution. The WMF, being a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, with the necessity to maintain its charitable IRS and Florida nonprofit status, cannot have an external entity or committee dictate how it allocates its resources. Based on the tasks, to be determined, that the WMF will continue to fullfill in a future movement model, it should and will have budgetary discretion - while of course ensuring transparency and accountability towards the GC and other movement stakeholders. The Global Council, on the other hand, should have the authority and responsibility to decide over the movement budget. This would include the funds currently being “disseminated” through grantmaking to affiliates and others. The GC would create policy and oversee the distribution of movement funds as part of a robust and strategic revenue sharing model. The GC would also have authority over funds for movement infrastructure such as knowledge management, capacity building and evaluation, as well as over its own budget. Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 09:12, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

Structure

Should the Global Council exist only as an executive body or should it exist as an executive body with an advisory board? (See scenarios below)

  • If the Global Council is an executive body with an advisory board, how are the members of both entities (executive body and advisory board) seated?

With its size, the Global Council must have adequate diversity and clout, but not be so large as to undermine effectiveness. As an executive body, how many members should the Global Council have?

  • Option 1: 9-13 members
  • Option 2: 17-21 members

Please add your answers/questions/thoughts below

  • I strongly recommend that an advisory board is not created. It is against the basic idea of flat structure, and the need of more manageable groups can be met with having task-forces within the Global council (as Bot have and the drafting committee have had)The numbers around 18Anders Wennersten (talk) 16:18, 12 July 2023 (UTC)
  • An advisory board with 100 members for a 20-person board is just ridiculous. Also I have never heard of an elected advisory board. I'm guessing the MCDC had some sort of parliament-style body in mind; calling that an advisory board is confusing and unhelpful. That aside, a two-level structure where there is a large diverse body that doesn't do much, and a small executive body, makes sense if the goal is to make sure that lots of communities / langauges / affiliates / etc. are represented. But then the executive body should be elected by the large body (ie. the large body should act as an association's membership and the small body should act as an association's board); otherwise I see little point in having it.
    Assuming that's the way it's set up, I like the two-level structure; I think direct election of people who are required to perform complex tasks has generally not worked well for us in the past. They tend to over-prioritize popularity and underprioritize skills and experience (as many voters don't spend a lot of time evaluating the alternatives, and vote mainly based on name recognition). Also, holistic aspects such as diversity, efficiency due to shared languages and time zones, or how well the executive body's members can work with each other, are also easier to accommodate in a smaller, more deliberative selection process. --Tgr (talk) 02:17, 17 July 2023 (UTC)
    • Thank you @Anders Wennersten for your input. A non-hierarchical structure resonates with many folks in the movement. Thanks for taking the time to write on this talk page. Thank you @Tgr for your pragmatic feedback and the historical reminder of how such processes often turn out in the movement. Something very key to keep in mind. We have captured this for MCDC. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 18:40, 20 July 2023 (UTC)
  • I'm greatly opposed to having an advisory board as well. In terms of size, I think that roughly 15 members could work well; a Council that's overly large hinders on efficiency. Frostly (talk) 04:15, 31 July 2023 (UTC)
  • My understanding of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy recommendations was that there would be a Global Council that would capture the diversity of the movement, provide for equitable, inclusive decision making. That would be a council of about 100 members, meeting say yearly. The General Council can elect among themselves a committee that meets say monthly to govern 'daily' affairs. Somehow the draft flips the names, without rationale. The big Global Council would be more like a legislative or a General Assembly than an executive body. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 11:23, 3 August 2023 (UTC)
  • The two scenarios do not do justice to the intention of Recommendation 4, nor are they based on existing practices in INGO governance. The term “executive body” is confusing in the context of a governance model that suggest an advisory body. The urge to limit size for effectiveness is unnecessary, if the MCDC were to consider the scenario WMDE and others propose: The Global Council as a General Assembly (GA) with membership that creates parity between stakeholders: project communities, individuals, as well as affiliates, which are also weighted for parity between user groups and chapters. The GA comprises around 200 members (including the WMF), meets annually and makes high level decisions prepared by staff and committees. It elects a board for the more immediate business. The board may be structured to have set seats that are reserved for specific stakeholders, including the WMF.Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 09:19, 14 August 2023 (UTC)
  • The advisory role as its name refers is to provide advice and not to make decisions. We don't need 70 to 100 pepole to provide advice but we need this number of people and more to participate in decision making to ensure the equity in our movement. --NANöR (talk) 08:32, 31 August 2023 (UTC)

Other structure options needed

I didn't expect that a Council would be framed as an executive body in this fashion.

The two options presented feel like 1a and 1b for an "small executive body" approach. I am missing an option grounded in the discussions from the strategy working group.

  • Focused on transparent deliberation, policy + norm-setting
  • Larger rather than smaller (with working groups / committees focused on specific work; not everyone needs to be engaged in all functions)
  • With its own exec committee, or staff support, to help with operations and execution.
  • Framed to focus on representation, flexibility, continuous operation (since this is an early experiment and will need to adapt as we try to work it out)
  • With additional advisory inputs!

Has anything like this been discussed but left out of this summary? –SJ talk  06:07, 17 August 2023 (UTC)

Membership

Should there be some imposed limits to the membership in terms of movement representation?

Please share your opinions about potential criteria of such limits:

  • Should there be a regional cap, e.g. max 3 persons from a single region? If yes, please specify the condition.
  • Should there be a home project or entity cap, e.g. max 2 persons from a single wiki project or affiliate? If yes, please specify the condition.
  • Should there be a specific cap for large[1] language communities, projects, or affiliates, e.g. not more than 5 seats from between the 5 largest projects? If yes, please specify the condition.
  • Should there be any other limits for Global Council membership? If yes, please specify the condition.
  1. As determined by number of active editors for projects and voting members for affiliates

Please add your answers/questions/thoughts below

  • In my opinion, it should there be a cap for volunteers that are also affiliates members. Affiliates can have different focus compared to non-affiliated volunteers, like off-wiki activities. The majority of volunteers are not affiliate members, so a Global Council with majority of non-affiliates would represent better the global volunteers community. About large language communities, in my opinion that should be proportional to the number of active volunteers in those projects. For example, if the large projects have 80% of the total of active volunteers in all wikis I don't see problem in a Global Council where 80% of members are volunteers of large projects. Danilo.mac talk 13:29, 13 July 2023 (UTC)
+1. Affiliates are proportionally over-represented in global governance and funds dissemination decisions. A new elected body is an opportunity to fix that. Steven Walling • talk 01:55, 15 July 2023 (UTC)
  • Thank you @Danilo.mac, @Steven Walling, I know this is a key topic for the MCDC as well and they are grappling with ways to create such a body in our movement. Lots to balance when it comes to online communities, affiliates, regions, languages, projects, etc. A difficulty is that often fully non-affiliated Wikimedians are also not interested in governance discussions, unless something major is happening and then that's often reactionary. So how do we encourage their participation without either bombarding them or having the same faces represent online communities on one committee after another? What do you think? MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 18:44, 20 July 2023 (UTC)
    "A difficulty is that often fully non-affiliated Wikimedians are also not interested in governance discussions" Yeah, that's why you need to do outreach on their home wikis, in their languages. Steven Walling • talk 03:48, 21 July 2023 (UTC)
    I agree, that seems the best approach for me too. Danilo.mac talk 18:24, 21 July 2023 (UTC)
    Yes @Steven Walling and @Danilo.mac, we will do another round of on-wiki notices and boost this up with also watchlist notices and a central notice banner. If you have other suggestions, please let us know. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 15:43, 25 July 2023 (UTC)
  • I'm in favor of proportional representation (ie. no caps, and a proportional voting method such as ranked choice). Large wikis have most of the de facto power because the entire movement is based on volunteer editors' work, so when large groups of editors organize a boycott or similar action, there isn't much that can be done to get around that - a community revolt is an effective but very destructive means of changing course, and one of the fundamental goals of a robust governance structure should be to replace it with less destructive alternatives. Ie. when an opinion is held by a significantly large majority that they could get their way via disruptive action, there should be a non-disruptive option available to them that also lets them get their way. Trying to reduce the share of large wikis in the Council to well below their share in the movement would defeat that purpose. --Tgr (talk) 02:35, 17 July 2023 (UTC)
    • Nb. per my answer to the previous question, I'd prefer if the elected (and thus representative) body would be larger and less directly involved in the Council's day-to-day activities. That would allow the selection of the actual executive body to be more skill-based and also leaves more place for equity-based considerations, while the community still controls the Council in a fundamentally representative way. --Tgr (talk) 02:35, 17 July 2023 (UTC)
      • Indeed @Tgr, if after all these years and countless discussions, we still have to revert to reactionary and destructive ways for people to feel heard and included in decision-making, then we have not succeeded in our vision. Thanks for all your feedback. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 18:47, 20 July 2023 (UTC)
  • I think all global regions should have representation on the global council. In the case of a 17 member council, this could be implemented through a minimum of one or two members per sub-region, depending on how sub-regions are defined. The w:United Nations Geoscheme has a few too many for this use, but maybe merge a few sub-regions and do something like this.
Sub-region(s) Minimum membership
Southern Asia 2
Eastern Asia 2
Eastern Africa, Southern Africa 1
South America, Central America, Caribbean 1
Western Africa, Middle Africa 1
Northern America 1
Eastern Europe, Central Asia 1
Western Asia, Northern Africa 1
Western Europe, Norther Europe, Southern Europe 1
Oceania 1
Total 12

This is just a suggestion, there are plenty of ways of creating a policy that fulfills the spirit of global representation. But, I think it's important that the Global Council be globally representative. AdJHu (talk) 01:39, 29 July 2023 (UTC)

  • In any of the scenarios where there is an elected advisory board, I think approval, rather than STV, should be used for that board. We're talking so many candidates that STV is just not practical. Barkeep49 (talk) 03:04, 29 July 2023 (UTC)
    I sense that the current Wikimedia regions are a good thing to go with. Two representatives for every of the eight defined regions will result in an equal distribution of voices, especially as @Tgr has mentioned above, that proportional representation is an important issue and a clear majority of Wikimedians is at home in North America and Europe. Denis Barthel (talk) 14:26, 1 August 2023 (UTC)
  • The difficulty here comes from the self-imposed constriction to make a small council. In the model of a larger General Assembly (GA) that WMDE proposes, it would be much easier to assure representation in the spirit of Recommendation 4, not with caps, but with assigned seats. For example a GA could
    • contain the same number of affiliate seats as community seats (for example 80:80)
    • for affiliate seats: contain the same number of chapter and user group seats (for example 40:40)
    • for language and project community seats: contain a balance of seats between emerging and established project communities, to assure giving equal voice to marginalized communities. The formula would have to be developed.
    • have a set number of seats for knowledge ecosystem stakeholders (to assure diversity of viewpoints)
    • have a set number of seats for the WMF and potentially other stakeholders with movement-wide responsibilities and liabilities.

This is a rough outline, resulting in about 200 seats, which could be further refined. WMDE leadership and our team would be happy to discuss with others! Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 09:25, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

General discussion

Technology Council

Who decided that these powers should rest with the Global Council?

The Technology Council will have a combined mandate, including:

  • Prioritisation of areas of technical development
  • Broad development plans for how to achieve these priorities
  • Improving methodology for gathering and using feedback on technical development

Election processes are good at ensuring equitable representation from the community, but they are not good for ensuring that technical decisions are made by experts with critical knowledge of how engineering, design, and planning are executed at the levels required to run a top 10 website, mobile apps, enterprise APIs, a general purpose open source wiki platform, etc.

Technical decisions should be made by the volunteer community of developers and technology professionals (i.e. WMF or affiliate technical staff) hired to fill specialized roles that require specific skills and experience. People with the ability to create viable user experience designs and approved to commit working code to MediaWiki are empowered to do so because they go through a vetting process, whether as paid or unpaid participants.

It is well known that technology decisions made by committee are slow and suboptimal compared to those made by subject matter experts and trusted individual leaders. Even entirely volunteer-led projects like Linux or Python have strong leadership in place. The ones that do use an elected committee model, like the W3C, are known to be highly political bodies that are not very effective. As they say, a camel is a horse designed by committee.

Instead of declaring that the Global Council should directly prioritize and plan development, this section should be changed to something like:

  • Develop and maintain a set of guiding principles and best practices for technical development within the movement
  • Review and advise the WMF and volunteer developer community on technical project plans
  • Create and maintain standards for how to effectively gather feedback on technical development

Steven Walling • talk 01:40, 15 July 2023 (UTC)

The Technology Council initiative is mostly based on three working group recommendations:
  1. Evaluate and Decentralize Technology Components
  2. Open Product Proposal Process
  3. Deployment Council
which try to provide solutions for three problems our movement has or is predicted to have:
  1. The movement strategy calls for more equitably distributed funding and decentralized capabilities, including software development. That requires coordinated technical decisionmaking, otherwise you end up with a patchwork. (That decisionmaking process was mostly already in place when the working group recommendations were written, so the recommendation mentions it but otherwise doesn't talk about it much. Since then the WMF has dissolved that process and excluded the technical volunteer community from decisionmaking, so now we do have a problem to fix.)
  2. About half of the movement budget is spent on software development, but the community has little control over it. At best once the WMF has a plan, they get asked whether they like it; they can't really influence what the plan is going to be. (It does happen occasionally;e.g. the NPP letter has significantly influenced WMF priorities. But it happens via unofficial, unpredictable and unreliable mechanisms.) Given that volunteer work is the foundation the movement is built on and the reason the WMF even exists, that seems unethical.
  3. Communities sometimes decide they don't like some software, and try to prevent it from being deployed (sometimes successfully, sometimes not). That decision happens when that software is ready for deployment, after years of development work. That is unwise for obvious reasons.
Those three working group recommendations ended up getting merged into a single initiative, mostly accidentally I think (writing the final recommendations was a messy process, with looming deadlines and lots of frantic editing). We might want to fix that now.
But in any case, there are three institutional functions that the Movement Charter should arrange to be fulfilled:
  1. How do make technical decisions as a movement? (By "technical" I mean the kind of decisions that might have an indirect impact on editors, but that most editors cannot provide meaningful feedback on. Should we transition to a microservices architecture? Should we switch from PHP to Hack? That kind of thing. I.e. what TechCom used to handle, when it still existed.) In many ways, the technical community is more coherent than the wider community and could probably self-organize to handle this even without the Global Council. But as a high-level governance process, it does make sense to have the Global Council oversee it (which obviously doesn't mean the Global Council engaging in the actual technical decisions, or even into the selection of who makes them). In any case, it should be in the Charter in some form IMO, even if not under the Global Council.
  2. The wider community should be able to meaningfully influence produce plans, including mid- and long-term plans. By "meaningfully" I mean they should be able to initiate new products / features, instead of being limited to giving feedback on ideas someone else came up with. That doesn't mean setting plans single-handedly (product planning requires expertise, resources and prolonged effort), but it does mean a significantly more open process than what we have now. Oversight of that process should be with (or delegated from) the Global Council, as with most processes where controversies tend to happen and legitimacy is important.
  3. As part of the planning process, wiki communities should be able to raise objections or set requirements before a plan is agreed on. Once a plan is agreed on, that should mean a lasting commitment that cannot easily reneged (unlike, say, RfCs, wich anyone can just ignore and start a counter-RfC). Some group is needed to oversee this (e.g. decide whether the requirements have been met). As above, this is potentially controversial and needs the legitimacy of an elected body.
Tgr (talk) 05:58, 17 July 2023 (UTC)
@Tgr You have missed my point entirely. "so now we do have a problem to fix." "About half of the movement budget is spent on software development, but the community has little control over it." These are not problems, they are intentional designs for how we do technical development because a completely distributed, all volunteer model does not work. This is why we have a centralized technical organization hired and managed by the WMF, to do things that require a high degree of efficiency and professional skills. Steven Walling • talk 07:11, 24 July 2023 (UTC)
@Steven Walling I suppose one person's problem is another person's intentional design. I think you are familiar with the relevant history, but just in case: until 2011, the Wikimedia movement evolved in a decentralized direction, with several chapters raising funds via banner donations and building their capacity. The WMF reasonably felt that it's a bad idea to distribute donations in proportion to how large and rich a chapter's country is; both on grounds of equity and pragmatically (as chapters end up with revenue well above their soaking capacity), so it mostly centralized banner fundraising. This was done under the narrative of the WMF becoming "the payment processor of the movement", ie. the WMF does the technicalities of collecting and handling donations, which then get equitably redistributed in some movement-wide process. The WMF then went immediately went back on that promise, assigned 80-90% of the money to itself and limited said movement-wide process to the remainder.
This was seen as a historical injustice by many participants of the 2030 movement strategy, and a significant part of the strategy is aimed at repairing it. (See especially the recommendation section on participatory resource allocation.) The logical (not necessary, but likely) consequence of less centralized resource allocation is less centralized technical development, which raises the need for decisionmaking mechanisms which aren't tied to WMF organizational hierarchy. (There are other good reasons to avoid aligning decision-making mechanisms to organizational structures, too; it alienates volunteers, and in an environment where average staff turnaround is 3-4 years but the most engaged volunteers tend to stay active for over a decade, it's not actually very good at concentrating expertise.) Tgr (talk) 03:38, 26 July 2023 (UTC)
@Steven Walling since you brought up Python, here's their sort-of-movement-charter-equivalent document: PEP 13 – Python Language Governance. tl;dr developers with merge rights vote on major changes, and they elect a Steering Committee which handles process issues. I think that's not a terrible model for expert technical decisionmaking (my point #1 above), although in an environment like Wikimedia where the majority of technical contributions come from a few large organizations, I think the org command chains should be somewhat represented in the decisionmaking group - just not as exclusively as now. Tgr (talk) 03:55, 26 July 2023 (UTC)
I think most of the points have been made here but any technology council will be yielding control of major changes to administration of those open source communities in control of the technologies and WMF technical staff. A technical council would focus lobbying priorities to those technical groups, making their voice heard from a user/editor perspective. There may be times when the technology does not meet the need and that must be voiced. Deathmolor (talk) 08:28, 21 August 2023 (UTC)
@Steven Walling
First, on who decided, I guess the short answer is the strategy process, with all its shortcomings and strengths. It is a draft, so nothing is in fact "decided", but the movement charter is akin to a constitution for the movement so it is a weird question to address, since the decision is the charter itself.
On making technical decisions by committee, why is that relevant to this text? Is your point that everything is great with the technical governance in the movement and we have nothing to change here? If so I fundamentally disagree and think @Tgr has made a good summary of the main points to address in the charter. Chico Venancio (talk) 20:14, 25 July 2023 (UTC)
My point is that outsourcing all technical planning decisions to review by a committee vaguely elected from the community with no criteria for expertise or experience in software development is just going to make technical governance more slow/bureaucratic with no clear benefit. Steven Walling • talk 03:00, 28 August 2023 (UTC)
This could be an interesting point if the WMF effectively did that job. The reality is that they don't. Theklan (talk) 15:16, 19 March 2024 (UTC)

I could see such a group taking on standardizing principles & processes for prioritization, development planning, and feedback (and producing them where needed but absent); reviewing how functional these are (and advising on improvements); and tracking the progress of major initiatives (and maybe mediating or interpreting existing discussions on request to avoid conflict and confusion). This would unify existing patchwork processes, and transfer to a consistent community body a range of efforts that were previously done (sometimes inefficiently, awkwardly) by the WMF or by ad-hoc groups.

The processes for producing priorities, plans, or technical feedback should continue to involve people with relevant expertise. So the blockquote above framing the mandate of a tech council should not be read as setting new priorities, dev plans, or methodology. But n.b. a primary challenge lately has been a lack of priorities and plans in certain areas, not a surplus of conflicting ones. –SJ talk  09:54, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

It is understandable that the WMF has legal concerns. Nonprofit governance and international transfer of charitable donations are heavily regulated areas, with limited harmonization between nations, and the structure we are aiming for (an international movement governed by its community) is unusual and doesn't have many working examples at our scale. It's the kind of thing over which lawyers have sleepless nights.

What isn't understandable is that these concerns aren't shared publicly. There is nothing personal or confidential here; no reason "WMF legal is concerned about this proposal because of X" (where X is well-substantiated with references to specific laws or legal doctrines) couldn't be added to each point which has raised legal concerns.

This is something the MCDC needs to push back hard on. Arguments that significantly alter the content of the charter must not be made in secrecy; that would significantly impair the legitimacy of the charter. (Also, there is sufficient legal expertise dispersed in the community that not taking advantage of it for peer review of WMF opinions seems like a missed opportunity.) Tgr (talk) 22:39, 16 July 2023 (UTC)

Hey @Tgr, no secrecy here, we started we are working with our colleagues in the Legal department to share the external legal feedback. Thanks for the reminder. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 19:33, 20 July 2023 (UTC)
+1. I'm sure that Legal is acting in good faith but it'd be helpful to have the concerns be shared publicly. Frostly (talk) 04:11, 31 July 2023 (UTC)
  • I agree with the fundamental issues mentioned by legal. The final fiduciary responsibilities lie with the Foundation and can't be transferred to any other body, council or subcommittee without neglecting the duties of the board, meaning liability. But if the decisions have to stay with the board, how can the council be created as an executive body? Is it feasible and even desirable? And yes, that's a big question that needs to be answered early in the process. --h-stt !? 17:18, 3 August 2023 (UTC)
  • @RamzyM: thanks for posting the legal advice. It is helpful to read and seems quite sensible and pragmatic. It highlights many areas where the MCDC needs to provide more detail in future drafts before a clear opinion can be given, which is natural at this point. I think there is a bit of a hint in the legal review that an 'advisory' rather than 'executive' body would be easier from a legal point of view, but I would not want the MCDC to assume that this is necessarily the only way forward - more specific proposals will result in more specific opinions and possibly routes around obstacles.
    I do not actually see the "Global site policies" section mentioned in the feedback. Have I missed it, or was this section already rejected on legal grounds before the legal review? It would be helpful to understand the legal position on this section as well. In fact, it is probably more important to understand legal concerns where they mean that proposals from the MCDC cannot be adopted. I would also echo Lyzzy's question about who actually wrote the document - part of the purpose of the external legal review is to provide community members with reassurance that legal issues raised by the MCDC proposals are clearly understood and there is no element of the WMF board or staff using 'legal reasons' to rule out proposals they simply do not like. Is there any reason not to say who wrote the document, who commissioned it, and what terms of reference were given? Many thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 21:23, 3 August 2023 (UTC)
    @Lyzzy and The Land: hi, the external legal review was provided pro bono by a reputable multinational law firm, based on information provided by the MCDC. Under the terms of this engagement, the law firm’s services were limited to providing advice to the Wikimedia Foundation only, and their work product was not intended for publication. In the interests of transparency for this project, they have permitted us to share this document here without attribution. Thanks, RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 03:42, 9 August 2023 (UTC)
Thanks Ramzy. Could this be changed for future legal reviews so that the name of the firm, the terms of their commission and their full opinion are shared? Without this information I don't think the document will fulfill its purpose. Thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:41, 9 August 2023 (UTC)
I'll relay this to the team, Chris. Cheers, RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 17:15, 9 August 2023 (UTC)
@RamzyM (WMF) thank you for publishing the external legal feedback!
Does that mean there was no internal legal feedback (ie. advice given by WMF Legal directly?) Tgr (talk) 17:07, 9 August 2023 (UTC)
@Tgr: we're still working on its publication -- I'll check and get back to you on this. RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 17:14, 9 August 2023 (UTC)


Thank you for transparently sharing the legal review commissioned by the Wikimedia Foundation. WMDE fully recognizes the accountability the Wikimedia Foundation has to Florida law and to the US taxpayer. We are aware of the responsibility of the BoT, as part of their legal and fiduciary duties, to assure that the governance structures currently designed pose minimum risk to the WMF’s charitable status.

The review clearly states that from the WMF perspective the Global Council should not be a “legal entity”. It should be an advisory committee to the WMF Board of Trustees, and the WMF should retain power and authority over most of the functions it currently fulfills.

The current MCDC draft on the Global Council aligns with this perspective, in that it creates an advisory committee without its own decision-making authority, with very few exceptions.

According to the WMF review, the GC as an entity would result in complex legal relationships and overlapping responsibilities. That may be true, however, it is not an unprecedented situation, and there are examples of US nonprofits having effectively regulated relationships with their international movement partner organizations. This can be done through written agreements, as well as through strategic integration of governance bodies. The WMF has just structured a similar relationship between itself and the Wikimedia Endowment.

Clearly there are functions that must remain with the WMF, and under its full authority, such as trademarks, including the enforcement of their responsible use, the WMF’s own budget, and much of the technical infrastructure. Other movement functions, such as resource distribution, capacity building, and movement strategy, to name a few, in our opinion are better positioned with an international decision making body representing and working for an international movement.

The establishment of a global council in the form of a General Assembly, supported by an International Secretariat would be most faithful to the intention of equity in decision making and democratically legitimized decisions about movement-wide matters. We would suggest that ultimately, it would lead to better decisions and less conflict than our current situation.

We would urge the stakeholders, and at the forefront the MCDC in the governance design process not to take the WMF legal review as the last and only source of legal information. Instead we should do our due diligence and further investigate legal scenarios and precedents that make the collaborative structure possible with minimum legal risk to the parties.

The authors of Recommendation 4 of Movement Strategy had anticipated a situation such as this. Therefore the text states :

Design an independent and transparent process, along with an independent legal assessment, to transfer those responsibilities and authorities to the appropriate Movement-led bodies.

So far, as movement stakeholders we have not determined how and when the independent legal assessment should take place. It should probably take the form of a legal briefing, including the review of precedents and possible scenarios. There are reputable law firms in the US that bring the necessary expertise in designing inter-nonprofit legal relationships, and that have not had WMF as a client previously. WMDE suggests that it may be time to figure out together how we can commission this expertise, so that we can have a fuller and more neutral understanding of what is actually possible – to ultimately arrive at a governance structure that does justice to our movement and its diverse stakeholders and lets us move towards the strategic direction. Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 10:50, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

Just to echo this (in part) - "complex relationships" and "overlapping responsibilities" are an inevitable part of the governance of a global movement, let's not shy away from them. Also, while it's often said that nonprofit trustees have a fiduciary duty to the organisation they're on the board of, this is not quite the case. The fiduciary duty is towards the goals of the organisation as set out in its articles - not to the organisation's budget, staff, or assets. If the WMF Board believe that placing assets currently owned by the WMF (e.g. money or trademarks) into a separate organisation with a different governance structure is genuinely the best way to fulfill the WMF's mission then they not only can but must do so. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 13:56, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

Thanks for sharing the legal feedback @RamzyM (WMF):! This adds some much-needed transparency around the restrictions that the MCDC has to navigate.

A further improvement would be if the legal constraints brought up in the feedback could be reformulated in a more explicit and verifiable manner, as some kind of position statement from the legal team, with references to relevant laws or precedents. Right now it's hard to tell what's actual legal advice vs. just the opinion of the legal team.

As an example, here is the WMF Legal feedback on the Technology council:

This proposal is not feasible as written. The Technology Council does not currently exist, so its purpose and scope is not yet clear. There are currently multiple opinions on technical decision-making within the Wikimedia community that need to be resolved through both collaborative and more binding approaches. There also needs to be a process for making these decisions durable enough that technical contributors can rely on them but not so detailed that they prevent timely addressing of new issues as they are discovered. Formal structures for technology decision-making need to be built on shared understandings of goals and the problems they will solve. It is not possible to evaluate transferring responsibilities without starting with a shared understanding of the problems it will address.

The Board of Trustees may be able to rely on the Global Council to do certain things, like setting strategic priorities for technical initiatives, but this will depend on the amount of technical expertise that is available in the Global Council. The Board of Trustees is not able to delegate other things, like providing fiduciary oversight over the organisation or operations of the Product & Technology team.

Questions:

  1. How can the Global Council coordinate and unite the technical priorities among multiple organisations that contribute to the Wikimedia movement's technical infrastructure?
  2. Can the Global Council provide long-term stability to technical decision making? One challenge that the Foundation's Product & Tech teams have faced is that there are shifting/competing priorities among volunteers, resulting in moving targets that prevent progress on long-term projects. How can the Global Council reduce this risk and enable more durable technical decisions for the Wikimedia movement?
  3. Can the Global Council help the Product & Technology teams understand potential impact of new or emergent work?

As far as I can tell none of this is actually legal advice (with the exception of the sentence "The Board of Trustees is not able to delegate other things, like providing fiduciary oversight over the organisation or operations of the Product & Technology team." which is talking about something not actually present in the draft the feedback is about). It contains all kinds of practical advice like "there are multiple opinions within the Wikimedia community so this probably requires more discussion" or "the Global Council should not make technical decisions if it doesn't have the necessary expertise", which, while reasonable, have nothing to do with legal restrictions, and WMF Legal is probably not any better positioned to give them than anyone else who has a deep understanding of the movement. I think it's important to clearly differentiate between "we think this is a bad idea" and "in our expert opinion this would be illegal" (and in the latter case, what that expert opinion is based on). In the first case, the legal team is offering arguments for the MCDC to consider. In the second case, they are making an authoritative statement that the MCDC has no other choice but to accept. Those are very different situations.

I understand that providing feedback in a more structured and more verifiable format is a very significant amount of extra work. We are working on the constitution of the Wikimedia movement here, though. This is supposed to be the foundational document guiding organizational matters for many years to come. Whatever gaps of legitimacy are left in the process of creating in that foundation () will be pointed at every time someone disagrees with a decision backed by the Global Council. Also, there will be an amendment process for the charter; every time someone proposes an amendment, the legal concerns and limitations will be relevant again, while the people who provided and received the feedback might not be around or involved. Having the legal feedback available in a format that's durable and reusable is worth the effort. --Tgr (talk) 12:01, 16 August 2023 (UTC)

+1 to this. The WMF legal team's feedback covers a lot of issues. It's pretty sensible, detailed and constructive input. But much of it isn't really legal feedback. It would be helpful for the legal issues raised to be dealt with clearly and separately from the general-purpose advice on what the Legal team think is a good idea. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 16:40, 16 August 2023 (UTC)
The movement charter drafts and this feedback have been discussed within the Steering committee and the wider group of the Wikimedia CEE Hub and we support this request by Tgr. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 15:57, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

AffCom

This draft puts a lot of burden on AffCom:

  • In this new structure, AffCom is tasked to verify that affiliates are actively aiding the projects’ functioning.
  • Additionally, AffCom gathers and assesses evidence for derecognition of an affiliate [...]
  • AffCom’s scope is expanded to evaluate Hubs. The committee will be responsible for evidence-gathering and criteria review [for recognition]
  • AffCom will be responsible to review the hubs’ functioning, capacity and and assess evidence before [derecognition]
  • AffCom will primarily be responsible for guiding organisational development and ensuring adherence to good governance principles.

This doesn't seem realistic without significant use of staff time. The draft doesn't say it explicitly but I assume the GC won't be a formal organization with a significant amount of own staff. If so, maybe worth saying who is responsible for providing that staff time. Tgr (talk) 23:23, 16 July 2023 (UTC)

This should be highlighted if it hasn't been taken into account yet - the wording of the charter should not explicitly mention a certain committee who's name and purpose might change in the future. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 16:02, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

Affiliate votes

As I said above, I'd prefer a two-level structure where the community elects the GC "assembly" and the GC "assembly" elects the GC "board". But assuming we go with a flat structure - I'm not sure we should copy the concept of affiliate votes from the WMF board. Giving a significant fraction of the seats to affiliates makes sense given that most of the GC's responsibilities will be related to affiliates. But I don't think the "one affiliate, one vote" system ever made sense. Large affiliates employ dozens and represent hundreds if not thousands of members. Small affiliates are often just one person who thought it would be kinda cool to register a user group. It doesn't make sense to give them equal weight, and it incentivises strategic affiliate creation (which did sometimes happen in the past, for somewhat different but related reasons). I don't have a good idea of how voting should happen but we should explore alternatives. I'm not sure it would be terrible if affiliate seats were simply filled based on the choice of the community-elected members of the GC. (Also, I think a regional cap, where each affiliate seat corresponds to a region or group of regions, would make more sense for affiliates than for community seats, given that affiliates are already organizing into regional structures, and how affiliates work is much more dependent on regional context than how wikis work.) Tgr (talk) 02:53, 17 July 2023 (UTC)

Maybe it would make sense that affiliates select a bunch of candidates for their seats which then are elected by a community vote. For these seats they might select even staff then, which I else personally highly disagree with (see below). Denis Barthel (talk) 13:51, 1 August 2023 (UTC)

Rationales

I think the draft would be more likely to generate productive discussion if the MCDC published their rationales along with the charter text. E.g. what do you see as the pros and cons of the various options for GC structure? I am sure this has been discussed extensively. Tgr (talk) 02:57, 17 July 2023 (UTC)

+1 to this. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 11:03, 17 July 2023 (UTC)
Thanks @Tgr, thanks @The Land, a bit of narrative goes a long way indeed. Providing a window into their many deliberations and discussions, the pros and cons as you mention, about such complex topics as funds and global representation for a distributed movement would be helpful. We can see what's possible for the existing drafts, but definitely for subsequent ones, especially Ton roles and responsibilities and decision-making. This is very useful, thank you. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 19:11, 20 July 2023 (UTC)

Wiki compliance

The draft (as expected) assigns the Global Council the responsibility of ensuring that affiliates and hubs remain compliant with movement policies and values, but doesn't do the same for wikis. (Think of e.g. a Croatian Wikipedia scenario where some wiki community abandons core project or movement principles.) I think this would be one of the most important roles of the Council; while there is plenty of space to make affiliate enforcement more predictable and equitable, it is already mostly working. Wiki enforcement, however, doesn't work at all; if a wiki's own governance mechanisms fail or get captured, no one is empowered to intervene. (The Croatian Wikipedia situation was well known for almost a decade, and even then it got only solved by accident, to the extent it got solved.) I wouldn't trust the WMF with that kind of enforcement role; I don't think the communities would accept it since it doesn't have the legitimacy that elections can confer; and it gets too close to having editorial oversight so it would probably be inadvisable from a legal point of view as well. So, this function has to rest with the Global Council. Tgr (talk) 03:11, 17 July 2023 (UTC)

Thanks a lot @Tgr, the MCDC also had the case of Croatian Wikipedia in mind when they added the mediation section to the Global Council. This is useful feedback to reflect on and strengthen that section as a priority for the movement. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 19:20, 20 July 2023 (UTC)
@MPourzaki (WMF) the mediation section was definitely a good idea. Mediation is voluntary and only works between good-faith actors though, so I think there's still a need for a process for when that isn't the case. Tgr (talk) 20:24, 20 July 2023 (UTC)
I guess in that case, the U4C is the right place to go. Denis Barthel (talk) 16:46, 1 August 2023 (UTC)
@Denis Barthel maybe in a situation where a minority of editors took over a wiki and uses illegitimate blocks to suppress the majority. (But even then they aren't necessarily well-situated to handle the issue. The policy is not very clear on their powers; they can presumably ban people, but can they e.g. appoint new admins / bureaucrats, which might be necessary for an orderly transition?)
But if e.g. the wider community thinks Wikipedia should be written from a patriotic point of view, not a neutral point of view (maybe because patriotism is such a strong norm in the given language community; maybe because patriotic organizations are actively recruiting supporters to sign up as editors), what should the U4C do about that? It's not an UCoC violation to write articles from a non-neutral point of view.
The UCoC and U4C is really about one of the five pillars, civility. Someone needs to protect the other four as well. Tgr (talk) 04:11, 3 August 2023 (UTC)
I do not think under protection is an issue at this point, it is over protection. Currently the power to silence is over used and in many cases abused to silence dissenting opinion under claims of offense and attack. It silences legitimate participation, from marginalized groups with little to no oversight. This discussion alone would be rewarded with a ban on some wiki's. Deathmolor (talk) 08:17, 21 August 2023 (UTC)
The movement charter drafts and this feedback have been discussed within the Steering committee and the wider group of the Wikimedia CEE Hub and we support the feedback published here by Tgr. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 15:54, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

Feedback from The Land

Thank you MCDC for the most substantial draft document so far. Here is my feedback, I hope you find it helpful. This naturally focuses on areas of disagreement or where I see a lack of clarity, but I am grateful for the time and thought you have put in to reach this point. I look forward to seeing further work, in particular on the Roles and Responsibilities.

Purpose

Current draft on the purpose of the GC: "The Global Council has been set up to promote sustainable work and growth within the movement. For this, the Global Council sets accountability to empower communities in an equitable way."

I find this unhelpful. "Promote sustainable work and growth" is not very clear and is not related to the specific role of the GC. Then "The GC sets accountability to empower communities" is also unclear - as a native English speaker I do not really know what "sets accountability" means. "Sets accountability to empower communities in an equitable way" also contains 3 different concepts which are in tension with each other - one could read that and go "ok which do you really want? Is its role accountability, or empowerment, or equity? Because there are many situations where you can have more of one at the cost of the other two".

In the original thinking about the Global Council the aims of the GC included;

  1. Accountability - making sure movement entities behaved in line with movement values
  2. Coordination - helping movement entities align on a common direction (in some versions of this, making high-level decisions about funds dissemination and creating future iterations of Wikimedia strategy)
  3. Discussion - creating the space for movement-wide discussions in a more systematic way with more in-depth discussion and more equitable representation

I think it would be easier to feed back on the rest of the draft if it was clearer what the MCDC viewed the purpose of the GC as being. Accountability is in there, but the MCDC seems like it does not really know what the other purposes of the GC are going to be, and has not asked this question either. Instead, the MCDC is asking other questions like "How large should the GC be?" which are affected by the definition of purpose.

Affiliate Structure / AffCom

In my view, the MCDC should recommend a change to the affiliate structure of the Movement. The categories of "chapter", "thematic organisation", and "user group" are not meaningful. The meaningful distinctions between affiliates are more to be found in the distinctions of incorporated / unincorporated, staffed / non-staffed, geographical / non-geographical (and if geographical, whether they are in a society that supports free expression and association or not), and their subject matter. A geographical, incorporated User Group is really the same thing as a Chapter; a non-geographical, incorporated User Group is really the same thing as a Thematic Org; a User Group with staffing and a six-figure budget is a very different thing to a User Group with five volunteers who meet for a chat once a year. The diversity of affiliates is great, but the categories we put them in no longer work.

Also, I disagree with this draft's apparent assumption that there should be one Affiliations Committee. In a future where there are 500 or 1000 Wikimedia affiliates, that is too much for one AffCom to handle. What's more, one global set of processes for affiliate recognition and monitoring probably does not work for the very diverse contexts of all the different affiliates. So having one global AffCom will not fulfill the needs of the future movement. If the MCDC does feel that having one AffCom is important to the future of the movement, why is that?

The original idea of the recommendations was that Hubs would start to play a role in affiliate support and recognition, and possibly even in the creation of different, context-specific affiliate models. Is this still part of the concept?

You make some comparisons here that aren't valid in the real world; User Groups aren't generally incorporated, for example; if/when they are, they are transitioned to Thematic Organizations and Chapters. As well, I strongly disagree with the premise of more than one AffCom, as it would greatly reduce efficiency and increase overhead. Best, Frostly (talk) 09:43, 31 July 2023 (UTC)
Which real world is that? The one where in the last seven years we've seen many new incorporated user groups, but only a handful of new chapters? The last ten years have shown that global committees don't have the knowledge and expertise to judge local situations. Prolonging this situation isn't good enough for many communities. Braveheart (talk) 10:20, 31 July 2023 (UTC)
@Frostly - it's true to say that most UGs are unincorporated (most are very small!). But, there are a number that are incorporated; and only I think 3 have ever become Chapters and one a Thorg. Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 09:28, 1 August 2023 (UTC)

Affiliate & Hubs Advancement

It's unclear to me what this means. "Advancement" is usually the term used in the USA for "fundraising". But the term here seems to mean more like "capacity building". I would suggest sticking to a term that has already been used. If it means "capacity building" then who is meant to be actually doing the capacity building? This is also unclear to me.

Composition / Voting

I think the question about the composition of the GC and how to elect people to it can only be answered when the purpose of the GC is clearer. My only observation is that if the GC is meant to be a really representative group, it needs to be quite large - 20 or more people - and have an election model that is set up to ensure diverse representation.

I think the MCDC should think much more broadly about election models. It looks like only the existing model of election used for the WMF Board and the MCDC itself has been considered. These work OK-ish but are not really suitable for the future. I would tentatively favour elections on a regional model, with 2-3 people from each region (however defined) being elected. I think the MCDC also needs to consider what weight to give to affiliates - clearly it is important that affiliates have an ongoing voice in the Global Council - but our affiliate model is not set up to be a representative model. In particular, User Groups are designed to be very easy to set up - this is great for the impact and proliferation of user groups - but it does mean that giving User Groups votes in elections creates risks (e.g. if one person is involved in 10 user groups which all have small memberships, it's quite easy for that person to have a big impact on the eventual election result).

Funds Dissemination

In my view, the GC should create a framework in which global funds distribution decisions can be made. That is to say, a statement of priorities and principles, and then a process for the decisions to be made. Whether this process is then implemented by the WMF or by some Global Council subcommittee (or something else) is arguably less important. This responsibility should only be gradually taken up by the GC - it is neither practical nor at all healthy for the GC to be set up and then right away try to work out what to do with the WMF's multi-million dollar grantmaking budget.

The GC should not attempt to scrutinise funding decisions within the WMF. It could not meaningfully do so. Rather, it should be consulted on the WMF's strategy and annual planning.

Mediation

I am pleased to see the mention of mediation in the draft. I endorse this approach of the GC (or people appointed by it, on its behalf) acting as mediator in disputes.

Funding/staffing of the GC

A number of tasks listed as being the responsibility of the GC (or AffCom) would require significant staff support. Is it expected that the GC itself will be an incorporated entity with its own staff? Or will staff supporting the GC still be employed by the WMF?

I presume that there definitely wouldn't be a separate entity behind the Council. Frostly (talk) 09:44, 31 July 2023 (UTC)
Like Frotsly I presume supporting staff would be employed by the WMF. But let me ask to whom will they report, the GC (and via them the board) or will they report to someone in the "regular" reporting structure of the WMF? Barkeep49 (talk) 16:14, 31 July 2023 (UTC)

Global site policies

I am not clear why this section was retracted - is it because the WMF isn't comfortable relying on the GC's interpretation of legal issues, and therefore cannot promise to give the GC a veto? If that is the case, then the GC could still be a "consulting partner" in the language of the draft. I would support it being such a partner.

I hope these comments are clear and helpful, I would be happy to expand on them if that is useful

Thanks, Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 08:24, 17 July 2023 (UTC)

Feedback, analysis and questions from schiste

As this topic can generate a lot of discussion, I try to keep my message short. I apologise in advance if the conciseness of my message feels blunt.

As a way to analyse the current proposal, and make it easier to grasp, I summed it up in a RACI table and made a comparison to the current situation here after: RACI analysis of the MCDC GC proposal

As one can see, the changes are the following:

  • Accountability moved away from the Foundation only regarding new projects (this never happens), languages (smooth topic) and AffCom (highly complex topic the Foundation desengaged from in 2008)
  • Responsibilities shifts to the Global Council (volunteer body at the moment)

In summary, for all those topics, Global Council is responsible to make things happen but Foundation is accountable of the decision. Which basically means that this proposal is bundling all existing (and some discontinued) volunteer committees under the responsibility of the GC (LangCom, AffCom, FDC, etc.). If any process related to those topics fails or is not ok, it will now be the responsibility of the GC, but without the decision making capacity.

My questions are the following:

  • Why did the MCDC decided to retain the current status quo regarding accountability?
  • Why is there no options regarding the actual topics of power (revenues, ressource allocation, brands)?
  • What led to the decision of increasing responsibilities on the communities without increasing accountability?

The four Values that fit that section are:

  • Subsidiarity
  • Equity
  • Accountability
  • Resilience

How does the current proposal improve the situation regarding those values?

As always, I'm happy to share and talk more on that topic :) schiste (talk) 08:37, 31 July 2023 (UTC)

Dear @Schiste, thanks for taking the time to create this table and share your thoughts and questions. We have captured it for the MCDC. I'll also ping the drafting groups to respond. The connection to the values you mentioned is a great anchor, a solid litmus test, thank you. By the way, if you'll be at Wikimania or following regional and thematic events, please do come by an MCDC session and connect directly in-person if you can. Thank you. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 17:04, 1 August 2023 (UTC)
Thank you very much for this table @Schiste, and the questions. The R&R drafting group has been working from a similar matrix, as we know the community (and we ourselves!) like this kind clarity to be part of the final Charter. This document will not be part of the upcoming R&R draft just yet, but we hope to include it in a future new draft.
For the table above: it is helpful to see the published GC text summarized in a table by someone outside of the committee, and we will take this as feedback to make sure the GC text reflects how we actually see the landscape of the future movement. I personally think there are a few inconsistencies in the table that are not inline with our ideas (which is on us, not on the reader!), but it will take the Movement Charter Drafting Committee a bit more time to reflect on this internally first. Also, the legal reviews we received for this first draft (or in fact: all drafts that we are now publishing) will be shared on Meta with you all soon, and we hope those will also give more context to the considerations for the draft. Ciell (talk) 09:02, 5 August 2023 (UTC)
Thank you. What timeframe are we talking about here? You are pushing back on my assessment regarding the RACI table I made, answering that in the same format should be a very low level of energy/time (having done the initial one by myself).
Also, you did not answer regarding how your proposal improve the situation based on the values.
Thanks :) schiste (talk) 09:14, 12 August 2023 (UTC)

Staff candidates?

"Candidates may be paid WMF, affiliate, or hub, staff /contractors but must clearly disclose this information at the beginning of the election"

I think this is a road straight to hell due to potential Conflicts of Interest. With good reasons the Board of Trustees does not allow this currently and just recently we had a huge discussion about this around a former Board member being hired right away by the WMF. All this is blown away by this one sentence.

Staff of WMF/affiliates recommending spending of finances in the Movement, opening and shutting down affiliates and hubs where themselves or people they are close with (and who isn't in this small movement) have been/are/will be staff or board members? That is -with all due respect- a bad idea, putting either employees in a bad position or leading to decisions that might be influenced by their employers interest, direct or indirect. Denis Barthel (talk) 13:44, 1 August 2023 (UTC)

Hi @Denis Barthel, thanks for sharing this feedback. We have captured it for the MCDC. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 16:49, 1 August 2023 (UTC)

Global Council topic summary from 30 July call

Participants of the July 30 launch party share the following thoughts about the Council (YouTube stream recording):

  • Overall, there should be some kind of limits in terms of representation in the Council.
  • There is a mixed reaction to a proposed “regional cap” to Council membership: a plurality thought that applying this would create a more equal opportunity for the regions and fix the historical problem of some regions being under-represented in Wikimedia’s governance structures, while a small section thought that some activity requirements are better suited to reach the equal representation than a cap.
  • There is a mixed reaction to proposed “home project cap” for Council membership: some thought that it’s needed, some other think that it’s necessary but not under the current definition of home project (as used, for example, by SecurePoll software for Board of Trustees voters), and some other reject it as too complicated.
  • Some other ideas about limitations or requirements to the Council’s membership:
    • Maximum number of the Council members, including the amount of Wikimedia Foundation employees or Wikimedia Affiliates employees;
    • Term limits of the Council members;
    • Requirements for the Council members to be active contributors to the Wikimedia projects.
  • On the topic of the Council’s role in funds dissemination:
    • Some agreement that the Council should play the role of providing oversight/review to the Foundation’s funds dissemination decisions;
    • Some agreement that there should be another body that handles cross-regional funds dissemination and reports to the Council;
    • A plurality agreed that the Council should be consulted on the Foundation’s own funds allocation, rather than simply being informed as favored by a minority of participants.

-- RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 22:39, 3 August 2023 (UTC)

Summary of the feedback from the francophone conversation

English (French below)

About 10 members from the francophone community (Benin, Cameroon, Congo (RDC), Ivory Coast, Guinea, Senegal, Togo) joined the conversation on July 28th. Below is a summary of the participants' feedback:

  • About membership

The majority of the participants think there should be a limit in terms of representation within the Global Counsel to ensure a fairness for every region within the movement. Some participants think it would be good to set a quota per region, others proposed to set the limit to 3.

When it came to project cap, a participant proposed, instead of having a cap, to have a rotation of projects' representation from one term to another. The majority of participants think that, before determining a limit/cap for regions or projects, it is important to first determine the size of the Global Council.

  • About the structure

Regarding the size of the Global Counsel, the majority of participants are in favour of "Option 1: 9-13 members", justifying that this option will help the Counsel deliver quickly and be productive...more members require more coordination. One participant voted though for "Option 2: 17-21 members" as this will give the space to have more representation within the Counsel.

On both membership and the structure of the Counsel, participants proposed to take into account the gender diversity within the Counsel.

  • About fund dissemination

Regarding the role the Global Council should have in fund dissemination, the majority of participants voted for option B (Coordination with WMF) explaining that, the fund dissemination should be led by the Foundation. To the question "What should be the Global Council’s role with regard to the allocation of funds within the WMF?", the majority of participants went for option B (The Global Council should have no role in the allocation of the funds within the WMF and only be informed). Most participants suggest having a light process when it comes to fund dissemination...more actors in the process will bring more complexity.


Français

Environ 10 membres de la communauté francophone (Bénin, Cameroun, Congo (RDC), Côte d'Ivoire, Guinée, Sénégal, Togo) ont participé à la conversation le 28 juillet. Voici un résumé des retours des participants :

  • A propos de l'adhésion

La majorité des participants pensent qu'il devrait y avoir une limite en termes de représentation au sein du Conseil mondial afin de garantir l'équité pour chaque région au sein du mouvement. Certains participants pensent qu'il serait bon de fixer un quota par région, d'autres proposent de fixer la limite à 3.

En ce qui concerne le plafond des projets, un participant a proposé, au lieu d'avoir un plafond, d'avoir une rotation de la représentation des projets d'un mandat à l'autre. La majorité des participants pensent qu'avant de fixer une limite/un plafond pour les régions ou les projets, il est important de déterminer d'abord la taille du Conseil mondial.

  • A propos de la structure

En ce qui concerne la taille du Conseil mondial, la majorité des participants est en faveur de "Option 1 : 9-13 membres", justifiant que cette option aidera le Conseil à délivrer rapidement et à être productif... plus de membres nécessitent plus de coordination. Un participant a cependant voté pour l'"Option 2 : 17-21 membres", car cela permettra d'avoir une plus grande représentation au sein du conseil.

En ce qui concerne les membres et la structure du Conseil, les participants ont proposé de tenir compte de la diversité des genres au sein du Conseil.

  • A propos de la distribution des fonds

En ce qui concerne le rôle que le Conseil mondial devrait jouer dans la distribution des fonds, la majorité des participants a voté pour l'option B (coordination avec le WMF), expliquant que la distribution des fonds devrait être gérée par la Fondation. À la question "Quel devrait être le rôle du Conseil mondial en ce qui concerne l'allocation des fonds au sein du WMF ?", la majorité des participants a opté pour l'option B (Le Conseil mondial ne devrait jouer aucun rôle dans l'allocation des fonds au sein du WMF et devrait seulement être informé). La plupart des participants suggèrent d'avoir un processus léger lorsqu'il s'agit de la distribution des fonds... plus il y aura d'acteurs dans le processus, plus complexe il sera.

MPossoupe (WMF) (talk) 07:07, 4 August 2023 (UTC)

Wikimedia Deutschland’s Response

This response was developed by the Movement Relations team at WMDE, jointly with board and executive leadership.

General

Thank you to the MCDC for providing this draft and the hard work that went into it.

Many individuals, groups and communities within the Wikimedia universe are currently not represented in decision making at a global level. One of the purposes of a charter is to create a global governance structure. Equitable, participatory and transparent governance is one condition so we can become a global movement in which all stakeholders are represented.

Wikimedia Deutschland has a vital interest in being part of a strong, just, cohesive yet diverse global movement. Therefore, WMDE’s Movement Strategy and Global Relations Team was established to promote and support the implementation of the 2030 Movement Strategy, in particular with a focus on the design of movement governance. The team has published several papers and a regular podcast to shine a light on the issues, conversations and big questions.

This draft on the Global Council leaves us wondering whether or not the MCDC strives to create an equitable governance structure as envisioned by the recommendations.

A few general remarks.

All following statements are based on WMDE’s positions on movement governance.

The draft mixes up the basic terminology: The use of the term executive throughout the draft of a governance document is misleading and confusing. While the Global Council is largely described as a committee of volunteers, it is said to have “executive power”. It remains unclear what this term means or how it would be implemented.

We encourage the use of appropriate, correct and clear terms in English, so that subsequent translations are not made even more difficult and confusing than they already are.

We also wonder, given the confusion of even basic terminology, and the absence of any references to expertise provided, literature reviewed, or analytical/scenario modeling work done, whether the committee looked beyond the current movement structures to design something that is appropriate for building a global social movement in the 21st century.

Wikimedia Deutschland has stated from the beginning: Big questions were left unanswered by the recommendations: Should the Global Council be advisory or governing? What functions in the movement can and should be decentralized? Is fundraising and grant making the model we want to continue with to distribute resources?

The MCDC chose to draft a highly detailed text before these questions were answered. This could have been done in a co-creative process with the committee and consulting communities.

The draft is largely reflecting the status quo of movement bodies with additional structures attached, creating more bureaucracy, regulation and more complex decision making than before. It seems to reflect the lowest common denominator of a diverse group, essentially robbing it of its diversity of ideas and experiences.

It is difficult to envision the overall governance structure, with the higher level related drafts of roles & responsibilities and decision-making still unpublished. However, the complicated processes and bodies emerging from this Global Council draft will have significant weaknesses:

  • it will rely on a small number of volunteers to do a large body of work;
  • it creates a body that is not representative of all movement stakeholders (such as a Global Assembly would) and is instead based on how elections in the movement are used to be done, leading to those from larger projects and communities to be elected (“popularity contest”);
  • it relies on committees, which also rely on volunteers, to all be connected to the Global Council;
  • it is confusing in terms of the powers, as there are no clear distinctions between where the Global Council governs, where it enforces, and where it advises the WMF;
  • accountability to the community lies with the Global Council, while the final decisions (on tech, funding, global policies) remain with the WMF. The Global Council will be subject to criticism, while the WMF will formally be able to continue to make decisions as today;
  • given all this, the Global Council will need significant staffing. There is no reference to the Global Council becoming a legal entity. Having this staff provided by WMF will not assure the independence of the Global Council that would give it the needed legitimacy.

A final remark regarding the format and content of a charter: In standard international practice, a charter is a foundational document that declares the basic beliefs, mission, values and high level rules for the co-functioning of a group of signatories (see a list of similar documents linked in Wikimedia Deutschland’s governance paper). A charter is a document that is signed and ratified by existing and new members of the confederation. It is not a “living document” in the sense that it is iterated and adapted continuously. Changes should only be made by a majority of the specified signatories, in rare occasions, when major events occur that warrant amendments. A charter is similar to the constitution of a country. What are laws and regulations in a country context, would be policies in an organizational governance context. Policies can be changed more easily, and in fact are supposed to be adapted and improved as circumstances change. It follows that details such as decision-making processes, as well as rules for the behavior of specific movement stakeholders should be regulated in policies. They are more easily adaptable and amendable by the global decision-making body.

Considering these standards, the Global Council draft contains many sections which in our view do not belong in a charter:

  • The background text describes the MCDC process of writing the section, and not its purpose.
  • Throughout the text we find goal statements (the Global Council improves, the Global Council simplifies) that relate to the current status quo. Rather, language in a charter uses clear terms such as ensure that, responsible for, decides on, deliberates about,... etc.
  • The drafts seem to contain various references to processes (setting up committees, the Global Council will…) that relate to implementation rather than what should be in a charter.

WMDE recommends that the MCDC review their draft with these considerations in mind to decide which elements belong in our charter, which are better outlined in policies, and which are part of an implementation plan.

Following are comments specific to some of the sections.

Background

This statement is a process description that is hopefully not intended to be in the final Movement Charter.

Definition

The definition should state clearly: The Global Council is a body to assure transparent, equitable and participatory decision making (=governance) about issues that affect the movement as a whole or a large part of its stakeholders.

The reference to implementation of movement strategy, while copied from the recommendations, is unhelpful in the definition, and belongs at best in the list of purposes below. Movement Strategy is an adaptive process that ends, for now, in 2030. The Charter is supposed to be an artifact defining the roles and responsibilities and decision making of the movement in perpetuity. The Global Council, specifically, has a role within that reaching far beyond 2030.

To assure independence from the Wikimedia Foundation or any other stakeholders with potential conflicts of interest, the Global Council should have its own staff.

Purpose

The Global Council has been set up to promote sustainable work and growth within the movement. For this, the Global Council sets accountability to empower communities in an equitable way.

This series of buzzwords can be deleted.

  1. The Global Council shall advise the Wikimedia Foundation on fundraising efforts to secure financial resources for the Wikimedia movement, in alignment with its mission and values.
    This should read, in accordance with Recommendation 1: The Global Council shall set (and enforce compliance with) a fundraising policy that applies to all fundraising affiliates. It shall advise the fundraising affiliates and oversee the overall resource development strategy of the movement.
  2. The Global Council shall establish standards and guidelines for the equitable dissemination of funds to support Wikimedia projects, communities, affiliates, hubs, and other movement entities.
    We recommend replacing the term dissemination with distribution, which signifies strategic intent rather than a scattering approach to resource allocation. This purpose should have the following addition: …, and shall establish a funding distribution mechanism to assure equitable, transparent and strategic distribution of movement funds.
  3. The Global Council shall ensure inclusive and transparent decision-making processes, providing guidance and exercising limited executive responsibilities over specific cross-movement entities.
    This could read more concretely: The Global Council shall develop and enforce standards and policies for inclusive, subsidiarity-based and transparent decision-making.
    The second part of the sentence is unclear and should either be specified or deleted.
  4. The Global Council shall create or modify committees for the overall governance of affiliates and hubs.
    This needs to be rephrased, since affiliates and hubs are independently governed entities and are not governed by the global council. It could state: The Global Council shall establish committees to ensure affiliate compliance with this charter and other global policies, as well as to guide the overall affiliate strategy.
    There will be other standing committees needed, however, so it is unclear why the power to create committees in this purpose statement is limited to the affiliate issue.
  5. The Global Council shall create channels to simplify access to resources (financial, human, knowledge) for individuals and empower communities in an equitable way.
    This is weak and vague and could be strengthened by not using incremental or aspirational language (“simplify”) that refers to a status quo baseline at the time of the writing. Better: ensure equitable, transparent, quick access to resources.
  6. The Global Council shall ensure accountability by setting processes and reporting standards.
    Here, as with other purposes above, the question that has not been answered is: Does the Global Council just set standards or does it also enforce them? If the latter is the idea, the wording should be consistent throughout the charter.

Responsibilities

The text lists a large number of decision categories: language projects, sister projects, affiliates, hubs, to name a few. For each, it designs a separate set of rules, committees and processes for establishment and un-establishment. This will result in too many committees, and too many different processes, all resting on a small number of volunteers.

Wikimedia Deutschland questions if this is necessary, and finds too much detail in each description. As stated before, the preferable home for detailed process descriptions are policies, because they might have to be adapted and changed over time. It is the purpose of a global governance body to set policies, review and adapt them (and, if so equipped with capacities in the form of a secretariat or office, also assure their enforcement). The charter on the other hand should contain high level language that the movement does not plan to change for the foreseeable future.

The language would create a body of volunteers with basically a full time job for these volunteers, and the need to meet at a high frequency. This is not feasible nor sustainable (see our fundamental comments on “structure” below).

Committees existing currently and in the past are perceived as dysfunctional, political and lack trust of many community members. There are many reasons for this - which would have been worthwhile to explore before drafting. Some of the reasons we suspect are that they are only advisory bodies to the WMF, that they rely on unremunerated volunteer time, and that their work and communications are often done by WMF staff.

Wikimedia Deutschland instead recommends a Global Council that is the highest governance body of the movement, that is structured in the form of a General Assembly (see below) and that has decision-making power over three areas: policy-making, budget and strategy.

The Global Council will have its decisions prepared by two types of committees: standing committees and ad-hoc committees.

  • Standing committees coordinate and advise the Global Council on
    • (1) affiliation, including hubs
    • (2) Wikimedia sister and language projects
    • (3) Technology
    • (4) Revenue and Resources
  • Ad-hoc committees are formed and dissolved as needed to prepare decisions and draft policies. They will in each case do this through a standardized, transparent process, regulated by a general policy that assures stakeholder participation in decision making.

Technology Council

Wikimedia Deutschland commends the inclusion of the Technology Council in the draft, and the request to provide input. In our view, the Tech Council is one of the standing committees of the Global Council. The language here seems to reflect a somewhat limited understanding of our tech environment, assuming a standard provider-user relationship, with the WMF providing and the communities and users consuming. This is not an accurate view of today’s situation, let alone doing justice to the movement strategy aspirations for the future. Software development already today happens in many places in the movement, with chapters such as Wikimedia Deutschland, Indonesia, Brazil, Sweden and others as well as volunteer developers working on the products. Very active communities are weighing in on their priorities around tech development. Software development likely will further decentralize and democratize. Creating an additional advisory body to the WMF teams, channeled through the Global Council, will not be effective. The members of the Tech Council should reflect the current tech stakeholders as well as assure that communities with higher tech barriers are included. The list of responsibilities of the Tech Council is a good start but should exclude development plans, which are better left to those stakeholders implementing the tech strategy. The Tech Council should also assure that tech development is in alignment with the values of the charter around equitable access and the inclusion of marginalized and disabled communities.

Global Policies

There is a reasonable assumption that the entity that holds legal responsibility over the platforms will have to have a level of control over site policies. To better understand the disagreement between WMF Legal and the MCDC here it would be helpful to list which policies this section refers to.

Fundraising and Resource Allocation

  • The Global Council and WMF will collaborate on processes to coordinate Movement fundraising.
    As stated, aspirational (“will collaborate on processes”) and vague language such as this does not belong in a charter. More problematic however, is that this language is opposed to Recommendation 1 and Recommendation 4.
  • The Global Council, with support from the Wikimedia Foundation, will develop a policy that applies to all Movement entities around fundraising. This will include rules that can be adapted to local context and needs.
    This second point is in accordance with Recommendation 1, which states:
  • Create a policy applying to all Movement entities to outline rules for revenue generation and to define what may be adapted to local context and needs. This policy will balance sustainability, our mission and values, and financial independence. In accordance with this policy, we will:
    • Distribute the responsibility of revenue generation across Movement entities and develop local fundraising skills to increase sustainability.
    • Increase revenue and diversify revenue streams across the Movement, while ensuring funds are raised and spent in a transparent and accountable manner.

However, the “support from the Wikimedia Foundation” should be removed. All movement stakeholders who are or will be involved in a decentralized fundraising movement should be involved in creating the policy.

Related to the Global Council, this means that the Council - or a representative committee empowered by it - will draft this policy, and that the enforcement of the policy lies with the council. The council should not be responsible for coordinating fundraising, as this, based on the principle of subsidiarity, lies within the responsibilities and powers of each fundraising affiliate, including the Foundation. That said, the fundraising policy should of course require fundraising affiliates to coordinate their efforts and not compete for funding.

All the charter needs to say here is:

The Council will establish a Revenues and Resources Committee, responsible for enforcing the fundraising policy, the movement fundraising strategy and the resource distribution agreement.

  • The Global Council will not raise funds in any way.

While it would be preferable if the council did not have to fundraise, if this is the case, then the charter should state how the council is funded in ways to assure its independence and accountability to its stakeholders (or members). We recommend that this statement be removed, since there may be opportunities or risks in the future that we cannot foresee now. That said, we believe that the Global Council should be funded by contributions from the fundraising affiliates and hopefully will never have to fundraise.

  • The Global Council will issue a recommendation to the WMF Board of Trustees with regards to the criteria for assigning the share of total central revenue to community general funds, regional fund committees, and any cross-regional grant dissemination.

Again, the language in here describes a process - in a convoluted way, the process of policy making. While we agree that there should be a policy, or rather, a written agreement on resource allocation, we believe that the GC should have more power than suggesting criteria for how the WMF spends funds. The draft assigns an advisory role, while Recommendation 4 is pretty clear that Resource Allocation should be guided by the Movement through the Global Council. In the recommendation, the GC has oversight, not an advisory function:

  • In the near future, the Movement should play a guiding role in resource allocation. The processes for allocation should be designed through consultation and described in the Movement Charter. This transition to Movement-led guidance should occur in a timely fashion.
  • The Global Council should oversee the implementation of the guidance given by the Movement as described in the Movement Charter, including recommendations for funds allocation to regional and thematic hubs and other Movement organizations while recognizing the involved organizations’ legal and fiduciary obligations.

Further, the draft assumes that “central revenue” will continue to sit with the WMF, which is opposed to Movement Strategy Recommendation 1 quoted above. In a movement with decentralized fundraising, as the Recommendation and Wikimedia Deutschland both envision, the fundraising affiliates, including the WMF, would contribute to a “central fund”, after deducting their operative, fundraising and program costs. The global council, or its committee mentioned above, would then create an agreement among contributors around resource allocation and annually approve a budget that assures redistribution to non-fundraising affiliates and other areas of need.

  • Regional fund committees will report to the Global Council to demonstrate activity that is effective, equitable, and accountable.

The draft assumes that the current model of regional committees will be extended for the same amount of time that the Movement Charter is in effect. To our knowledge, the model has not been proven yet, and therefore the language here should be more general, as the movement iterates and adapts subsidiarity in decision making and accountability around funds. Here too, amendable policies such as a funds accountability policy or agreement will be the best mechanism. This could be signed by the recipients upon receipt of resources from the central Movement fund.

Summing all this up for the charter level, the fiduciary responsibility of the Council in the charter could simply read:

The Global Council approves an annual movement budget developed by the Revenue & Resources Committee, and in accordance with the resource distribution agreement and the fund accountability policy.

(For more information on how similar NGO federations regulate and practice resource redistribution without grantmaking, please refer to our research paper.)

Mediation and other tasks

In this draft, the Global Council has too many operative tasks for an entity which is not even supposed to have its own staff. Mediation and similar functions should not be added to its already long list of roles, and these roles should be assured by external, neutral parties.

Structure

We are not commenting on the details of the models, membership, election and selection rules laid out in this draft. Again, there is too much detail in the draft - at risk to be required to be changed frequently. And the body created through this process in both scenarios described here will have the weaknesses we listed above in the General Remarks, due to its small size, enormity of tasks, convoluted decision making for each topic area, and last but not least, lack of proper, independent staff. Finally, the voting processes sketched out above will not assure representation of those communities that will provide the growth, diversification and relevance of our movement in the future.

That said, Wikimedia Deutschland believes that a fundamentally different model is required, which is also simpler in its design:

The model of a General Assembly (GA) with members representing the stakeholders of a movement is a proven, widely established practice in most large NGO federations. The GA can comprise a larger number of people necessary to reflect diversity of geography, projects, affiliates, and communities and represent these. The Wikimedia General Assembly could further be enriched by appointed free knowledge ecosystem partners providing expertise and more neutral viewpoints. The membership model would assure that marginalized communities are represented, and projects have their voice heard and incorporated. The Wikimedia Foundation would be a voting member.

Members of the GA can be elected or appointed, based on the capacity, constituency and governance system of the stakeholder sending them. This aligns with the Principle of Subsidiarity from our movement’s strategy, and pays respect to the decision making rights of the members, projects and affiliates of our movement.

The Assembly itself only gathers once a year, to make big decisions, such as approving policies, strategy and budget. This GA is supported by an elected board, staff and committees both standing and ad-hoc. The preparatory and groundwork for the GA making decisions is done by the committees, and the more time pressing decisions are made by the board. Staff works in a secretariat and supports the other parts of the system.

Wikimedia Deutschland recommends that the MCDC pay some attention to the above proven practices, rather than building complicated and inefficient systems with overburdened volunteers on top of, or attached to the current systems and inequitable power structures.

Down the road, this model would likely mean that the Global Council, now a General Assembly, would incorporate as an international nonprofit entity.

Coming back to the point on the WMF above: Having the WMF be a voting member of the GA assures that WMF remains a stakeholder and an eye-level participant in all matters of a global movement. This avoids a situation where WMF and Global Council become completely separate entities, or worse, adversaries. This would stifle and slow down decision-making even more.

In addition, the WMF could, per the by-laws of the ensuing entity, have a guaranteed seat on the international board. This would assure that the governance of both entities are connected at the highest level. It pays due to the fact that the WMF will retain central functions and liabilities, such as trademarks, donor relationships and servers. This also reduces the risk of the WMF having to comply with decisions made by the Global Council it had no say in developing. There are practice examples of international NGOs and US charitable organizations regulating their relationship through a Memorandum of Agreement and by-law articles aimed at minimizing the risks for all parties. This could be developed through legal consultation.

Wikimedia Deutschland strongly urges the MCDC, the WMF and all stakeholders to consider the model of a General Assembly (likely followed by an international membership organization). It would assure equitable representation, clear, democratic decision making paths, accountability along logical lines, and a workable practice in which volunteers are not overtaxed. Much of the policy level language in this draft could be transferred to the respective committees and policies.

The Wikimedia movement does not have to reinvent the wheel, but can adopt it to match its needs. It can learn from the many international movements and organizations who have walked this path before us, some for more than a century, and that have already gone through several iterations of their charters and improved their governance practices. --Alice Wiegand (talk) 17:50, 7 August 2023 (UTC)

Discussion

Lyzzy's comment on behalf of Wikimedia Deutschland does a phenomenal job of detailing the challenges with the document as is written now. I fully support and endorse WM-DE's comment.
In particular, I strongly agree with the sentiment that this draft is not at all what I was expecting, and it does not feel in line with the vast amount of Movement Strategy work that's been done to date. Without the core of decentralization (and the GC as a general assembly) this feels like another bureaucratic committee that only adds complexity to an already complex system, and does not solve any of our current problems.
I strongly encourage MCDC members to review the excellent research papers WM-DE has produced (linked above), and return with a draft more in line with our goal of evolving the movement structures. Liannadavis (talk) 21:13, 11 August 2023 (UTC)
I know that a fair number of my colleagues have already begun their travel process so may not be available to comment right now. Lyzzy and WMDE, thank you very much for this detailed feedback. I am certain that there will be a further response in the coming weeks. Risker (talk) 03:48, 12 August 2023 (UTC)
I would just like to echo that this feedback from WMDE resonates a lot with me. I attended a community consultation a few weeks back regarding the Global Council draft and I was a bit unsatisfied with the proposed structures presented by the MCDC. The small size of the proposed GC would be taxing on a lot of the volunteers that will be elected to the GC and would further lead to more dependence on the WMF. —seav (talk) 06:50, 19 August 2023 (UTC)
I agree that something like a general assembly that makes socially-binding decisions is important (and necessary to not be a waste of time and resources). I do not agree that it needs to be a separate non-profit (which entails its own costs and complications). Any such council can + should start life as a decision-making body within current structures, not as its own incorporated entity, regardless of what it ends up becoming down the line. –SJ talk  01:55, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
Lyzzy Will the elected board, staff and committees both standing and ad-hoc be members of the General Assembly? --NANöR (talk) 19:26, 29 August 2023 (UTC)
The movement charter drafts and this feedback have been discussed within the Steering committee and the wider group of the Wikimedia CEE Hub and we support the feedback published here by WMDE. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 15:50, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

Financing

Just noting in passing that the cost of operating this model would be roughly equivalent to the the total cost of all conferences currently supported by the WMF (about 3+ million USD) just for the annual GA meeting (travel, hotel, food, conference facilities), with perhaps some in-person committee meetings thrown in. Given that income is pretty much flatlined right now, it's relevant to talk about fiscal trade-offs. I'm not saying it isn't possible, but it would mean discontinuing current large-scale international events like Wikimania and Hackathons, at a minimum, and probably would mean little to no central funding for regional conferences. Some of this depends on the size of the General Assembly, but as a rough guide, the average cost should be calculated at 4000 to 5000 USD per person for each person to attend the GA meeting, especially since we are working hard to be more inclusive. (I'll leave folks to do the math themselves.) Risker (talk) 04:48, 12 August 2023 (UTC)

Thanks, @Risker, for your thoughtful comment. We can respond in more detail next week, but I quickly wanted to note that I think we cannot just compare the costs of a General Assembly to the current event costs. Yes, there are costs for bringing the representatives together, but we might also safe a lot of money on other processes. Just think about the time and energy spent by all stakeholders currently on decisions, programs, changes, policies, etc. started by the WMF that people oppose and that need to be pulled back. The hope is that with a more representative system, and a transparent, well-known participation process, decisions will be better, and thus more accepted and more sustainable. Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 08:50, 12 August 2023 (UTC)
I certainly agree that we should consider financials and not be cavalier about movement funds. However, the whole point of Movement Strategy isn't to lock us into perpetuating the way we're doing things now ("we can only spend $3M of movement funds for conferences"), but to *rethink* how are we doing things to further our mission. If a General Assembly helps us meet the vision of Movement Strategy, then let's prioritize it for new spending, and not just keep ourselves locked into artificial "this is the conferences budget" decisions of the past. We should rethink the *entire* movement's budget in light of Movement Strategy to make sure spending is allocated appropriately. Immediately saying we'd have to cut conferences is too much of thinking in the same paradigm we currently have, which (I hope) we all agree will *not* get us to our vision for 2030. Liannadavis (talk) 21:21, 12 August 2023 (UTC)
There are quite a few assumptions in that reply, Risker, and I'm not sure which data they are based on:
  • 3 Million USD for a conference is based on which experiences? There will be 150 participants at the CEE Meeting in a month's time and the conference has a budget of 122,000 USD, so there are ways and possibilities of keeping the costs low. It is also thinkable that (with decentralised fundraising) affiliates who fundraise a certain amount are expected to pay their own attendance costs, as is already the case for WMDE when it comes to regional conferences.
  • Flatlining income would require more data at this point. It is also not clear how the current fundraising possibilites have been maximised, when WMF fundraising campaigns are run in wealthy European countries during the summer holiday season. Surely that can be done better.
  • but it would mean discontinuing current large-scale international events like Wikimania and Hackathons, at a minimum, and probably would mean little to no central funding for regional conferences - again, what is this based on? There is more than enough money available, regional meetings cost the WMF a fraction of its total budget. I really dislike this mentality of sowing uncertainty where there is no reason to do so. Is that why the draft looks the way it does?
  • Putting out all these statements and then letting others "do the maths" is not good enough, especially after spending two years in order to even get to the point where we discuss these kind of issues. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 21:23, 12 August 2023 (UTC)
For a maybe closer example (as the CEE meeting benefits from most participants living in the same region), see Wikimania/Comparative. Financial transparency of Wikimanias has degraded over time, but back when budgets were still published, events 3x time the size of the GA cost around $300K. That probably undersells the costs (there was usually some sort of sponsorship deal, some of the participants were local, participation was heavily biased towards developed countries) but I'm skeptical that that would make up for a difference of 15x.
Part of it is that the WMF just got a bit too comfortable with having and spending lots of money over time, and if we really expect scarcity in the coming years, maybe some of those changes should be reconsidered. You don't actually need four-star hotels for all event participants, or a separate hotel room for every person, or $100/day per diems.
But also, I am not sure a General Assembly really needs to meet physically. You'd probably have smaller bodies (committees, maybe a board of some sort) take up the the executive roles because 15-20 people are the upper limit for meaningful discourse; it'd probably be enough for those bodies to meet physically a few times a year, with the GC mostly being focused on selection of the bodies and reviewing and approving recommendations. Tgr (talk) 01:26, 13 August 2023 (UTC)
I would be interested to know if the MCDC has considered this kind of model already? To my mind the MCDC should be working by developing different options at the level of granularity of this proposal, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each and then inviting discussion on them. The workings of the MCDC are not very transparent so it's really difficult to tell if that is happening or not. But this is very much the way of working that the MCDC should adopt (really, it must adopt, if there is going to be any chance of a complete Charter which is ever ratified = we are clearly not on that path now). Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:27, 14 August 2023 (UTC)y
Hi, I’m sorry but I have to push back that “we don’t have money” narrative, and I won’t challenge the $3M figure:
  1. Wikimedia Foundation is far from maximising revenues. We all have to keep in mind that we only fundraiser for a few weeks per country per year. We decide to stop, if we needed more we could raise more. Wether we should is a different discussion. But with the current numbers, we could raise the extra $3M in a few days.
  2. Anne you’re right we could stop having x events a year and have the AGM instead. Why not have a 10 days event that encapsulate all other meetings in order to save money and increase efficiency.
  3. We have been limiting our Local Fundraising capacities since 2011. If we had 5 chapters raising 30% of WMDE is currently raising (and if my memory serves me well WMDE is also not fundraising all year round).
  4. We have a network of grant provider. In our current time, we could find funds specifically to set up a global highly inclusive and collaborative decision making body for free knowledge. The topic in itself is an amazing idea, we should be able to find a few philanthropist to fund it.
  5. $3M is roughly 1.5% of our yearly budget. I’m pretty sure we could find 1.5% of savings quite easily.
  6. Each of those point is capable of providing the $3M individually. But if you doubt it, all of them combined can contribute that very easily.
I have heard time and again that narrative “we don’t have money” that has never been true. Wether we are spending efficiently or not is a different topic. Are we spending it equitably is another. But can we find $3M to build the right governance to ensure our Movement embodies and meet our 2030 goals, yes we can. schiste (talk) 22:01, 16 August 2023 (UTC)
I'm confused. Is there a reason to assume that members of the Global Council would meet in person to discuss things? I strongly advocate for considering virtual online meetings or other forms of working together. Best, --Frank Schulenburg (talk) 03:02, 21 August 2023 (UTC)
Thinking about the next path for the Wikimedia Summit, there may be options to include or dock an in-person-meeting there (when most people are already meeting) without that amount of additional costs. In general I would like us focus more on what issue can be resolved in which way best and _then_ talk about difficulties and how to clear them up. Money is important and we should use it wisely and for community goals, it should not hinder us to think big and then consider costs and benefits. Alice Wiegand (talk) 09:15, 21 August 2023 (UTC)

I also don't share the premises in this comment. Currently we spend too freely on Wikimania. We know how to (and should!) run larger events at 1/4 the cost; and can get significant recurring sponsorship w/ low upkeep. An annual working meeting should cost significantly less than a general-purpose conference of similar size, as it can be planned and sited further in advance. Per Frank, council & committee meetings should be largely virtual, for flexibility, economy, and climate. Per Alice, a physical meeting should be combined with another regular event to avoid double flights. Movement governance budgets trade off with other movement strategy work, not with general events. Lengthy strategy conversations are a natural place to reclaim funds, time, and spiritual resources. –SJ talk  02:24, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Make the conflict resolution role/purpose more prominent

Currently only the last of the listed responsibilities is Mediation. As I have written before: The one responsibility the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees needs to cede most to a more representative body is conflict resolution. Judging by the unusually constructive discussions surrounding last years fundraising banners on enwiki this body should have also the ability to withhold funding from the WMF. HHill (talk) 07:02, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

Feedback from Jan-Bart

I have been on vacation so sorry for joining the conversation a little late. First a generic disclaimer: my views expressed here are mine, and do not necessarily reflect those of Wikimedia Nederland. I also want to thank the MCDC for the huge amount of work that they have done over the last 2 years, it is not easy and maybe we have given de MCDC an impossible task by organising things the way we have.

Normally when drafting a movement charter like this one would start with the broad goals… what are we trying to accomplish here? The movement strategy process and especially the work of the Roles and Responsibilities working group did give a baseline of what we as a movement wanted to achieve (some said that the recommendations did not go far enough in distributing the ‘power” within the movement but lets leave that aside for a minute )

So reading the current drafts makes me wonder what happened? One of the most important aspects of the recommendations was the equity in decision making within our movement. reducing this by (for example) reducing the global council to an advisory body is not something that I had expected to read here. Our current movement structure has major problems in that it gives older affiliates much more advantages than newer entities and more importantly: we do not use the potential of all the local knowledge and energy in order to achieve our mission. These are just two examples of things I would hope we are going to solve in the Movement Charter.

Arguably the members of our movement are the most valuable part of our Wikimedia movement (yes: more important than our brand or content). This is our chance to change the dynamic and give everyone a chance to help decide on the future of our movement, rather than reducing it and continuing the status quo.

This is not about reducing the Foundation to an administrative body. There are things that only the Foundation or Affiliates can do in an effective manner and I am a big fan of the dedicated employees that we have within our movement worldwide. But giving all members in our movement a voice in the future decision making process and distributing our ability to realize our potential are arguably the most important things we have to achieve.

And yes… there are a LOT of practical details to work out once you have the broad framework down is a lot of work, but at this point it seems like the drafting committee is working on the premise of “how do we make the current system work (marginally) better”.

Looming over this discussion are legal issues. But the current mode seems to be “does this fit in the way the Foundation is currently operating” and  “is it legally acceptable for the Foundation to write this down?”. This leads to a lot of risk averse behavior. A better attitude reflects in the words of a previous General Counsel of the Foundation “tell me what you want to achieve and I will try to help find a way to legally make this work”.

And it has been said before: we are not that unique in most cases. There are a lot of worldwide organisations that have managed to create a structure that respects both responsibilities to donors (as an example) with decision making. Schiste’s excellent draft RACI matrix is a great example of how you can have this discussion while drawing inspiration from other movements. WMDE’s papers on governance and resource distribution show several real-life applicable practices and models.

When the discussion “gets hard” it is tempting to go into practical details… which is something I am observing here. That means that the arguments on the draft text are also often reduced to practical details (such as operational cost and legal review of specific issues). As an example, while I respect the hard work, I find it hard to focus on the ratification process of the Charter when I see that major issues have not been tackled.

Thanks to WMDE and others for the detailed responses. I think a lot of us were expecting a different outcome of the drafting process. Rather than continue down this road let’s take this opportunity to (radically) improve the process and the outcome of this initiative. A lot of valuable input has been given, and I am sure many more people still have contributions to the discussion which is good so that we get multiple perspectives from all around the world.

It is unfortunate that some of these discussions will take place “in person” at Wikimania without everyone being able to join, but I hope that we can make progress in the next couple of days on these topics. As some would say: “not only CAN we do better, we MUST do better”. This is our chance to get this right. Jan-Bart (talk) 09:14, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

Legally binding vs. socially binding vs. advisory

This came up in an IRL discussion with MCDC members today and figured it would be worth mentioning here. The potential legal limits of transferring powers and responsibilities from the WMF to the Global Council came up already during the recommendation writing phase; this is why the recommendation text contains the sentence ''In those cases in which the legal limitations of the organizational structure cannot be overcome, establish a social contract to allow those bodies to make legally non-binding but socially binding decisions.'' (The model we had in mind was WMF board elections. Legally, new WMF board members are selected by the WMF board itself; the community election is just a way to recommend someone to the board. But in practice there's a clear expectation that the board will honor the results of the election; if they just went and selected a different candidate, the community would see it as a serious breach of trust.)

I feel the conversations above are too focused on legally binding vs. not legally binding. While it is useful to investigate whether some apparent legal limitations can be overcome, I think the more important question is whether the decisions of the Global Council on a given topic are considered binding or not. Even if the WMF needs to retain ultimate authority on e.g. trademarks, the Movement Charter can still act as a binding social contract that requires the WMF to follow the Global Council's decisions. The WMF could break that contract in emergency situations (when it believes following a decision would create unacceptable legal risk), but it would have to face the reputational consequences of being seen as abusing its power if it refused to obey a decision and couldn't convince the community that that refusal was really necessary.

IMO such a setup could work just as well as a formal, legal transfer of powers. For very risky powers (such as the trademarks), maybe it's even better to have the WMF as a failsafe - we have two decades of experience with it and while it is currently a single point of failure for the movement, it is a fairly robust one. (Imagine transferring the trademarks to a new organization representing the Global Council, and then that organization turning out to be completely disfunctional for some reason, e.g. not being able to reach quorum.) Tgr (talk) 10:09, 15 August 2023 (UTC)

@Tgr - speaking initially just for myself, I think this route has significant potential merit. Speaking more broadly, the MCDC has done some degree of discussion in this vein but not yet detailed consideration. It could also pair well with the other feedback received, giving a possible solution for raised issues. Thank you for the highly constructive feedback. 06:10, 16 August 2023 (UTC) Nosebagbear (talk) 06:10, 16 August 2023 (UTC)
The movement charter drafts and this feedback have been discussed within the Steering committee and the wider group of the CEE Hub and we support the feedback published here by Tgr. Philip Kopetzky (talk) 15:47, 23 September 2023 (UTC)

The key issue?

I interpret the proposal as

The BoT delegates its authority over issues related to communities and volunteers to a new body, called the Advisory Council. BoT delegates decision power and control over most of existing bodies (with supporting staff) that exist in the area today. What is not delegated are global fundraising support bodies, brand issue and legal issues especially related to our brand and also not delegated are some bodies like Trust and safety.

in contrast there are many, like WMDE who expected more

Control at least partial over fundraising and a council with 100-200 members to meet annually and make overall decision for more or les the whole movement, including some BoT and WMF issues

For myself I am happy with the proposal, and do not support the other concept, we wikipedians are doers not talkers, and a gernal body to met annualy only give the talkers unduly influence over us doers, who do fine in existing bodies Anders Wennersten (talk) 07:21, 16 August 2023 (UTC)

Separation of duties

In US government, and other democracies, the goal of separation of duties is not to have efficient decision making. The goal of the right Movement Charter is neither efficient decision making, but more likely separation of powers. The purpose remains to create and distribute an encyclopedia for. Unpaid volunteer editors create the encyclopedia. Our movement consist of individual editors, project communities, informal groups and formal groups, such as user groups, thematic organizations and chapters. Together they are looking for a governance structure for the movement as a whole. In my vision the Wikimedia Foundation - which does not have members - distributes the encyclopedia by keeping the servers running, retain trademarks and legal. Anything else can and should be transferred to a new legal entity with a Global Council, which will be a membership organization with a general assembly. In the future the Global Council will pay the Wikimedia Foundation to host the websites. The source of income of the Global Council will be (banner) fundraising, executed decentrally by chapters - and preferably there will be a chapter in every country, other affiliates, and maybe as well by project communities. My view is equity in decision making, inclusion of currently underrepresented groups, and empower individuals and (informal) groups not only to edit a wiki, but also to have decision power in, but not limited to, fund raising, spending of money, software development. The current drafts of the MCDC under deliver on the promises of the strategy recommendations. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 07:46, 16 August 2023 (UTC)

Sister Projects

For sister projects, a structure parallel to LangCom for evaluating viability might make sense. (thoughts after an initial meeting of the sister projects task force) A GC could still give a final sanity check. –SJ talk  05:37, 19 August 2023 (UTC)

Software issues and the proposed Tech Council

I would say the primary problem leading to the whole global council thing has been the history of conflicts from the WMF trying to push software that the community deems actively harmful. I understand that the "Technology Council" section is still listed as "very early discussion", however the available information appears to actively make the situation worse than it is now.

It appears to go as follows:

  • The Tech Council proposes vague priorities and plans.
  • The Global Council approves them.
  • The Foundation then cooks up an implementation, with a predictably high risk some aspect will be toxic.
  • The community raises objections to the WMF. Now instead of ignoring us like the WMF used to do, the WMF instead tells us the plan was approved by the Tech Council AND approved by the Global Council.
  • The Community rises the objections to the Tech Council. The Tech Council does not represent the community. The Tech Council will almost invariably be dominated by WMF staff. To the extent there are volunteer devs, most of them likely won't respond any better than the staff. The Tech Council is unlikely to do anything.
  • The community then tries raising the concerns with the Global Council. But guess what! The Global Council CAN'T do anything! According to the draft text, the Global Council only has the power to approve or reject proposals that originate from the Tech Council. That's useless when the WMF cooks up a toxic design and the Tech Council sits silent.

Not to mention the document from legal declaring the Global Council can't or shouldn't have any authority in this area at all, that the Global Council merely offers suggestions. However the least of my concerns here is the Board ignoring a formal (advisory) Global Council statement saying that there is a problem.

I'm not yet ready to buy into the theory that a Global Council can be trusted to represent community consensus, but it is absolutely obscene for the Global Council to be BANNED from addressing the biggest and most important problem we face. Alsee (talk) 23:33, 21 August 2023 (UTC)

This view, while perhaps a bit cynical, seems like a realistic possibility for what will happen when there are conflicts and objections from individual communities over software development. It's very very unlikely that any Technology Council will be sufficiently representative of every community that each community actually feels comfortable delegating any real authority to recommend or not any particular software change. There is no substitute for WMF software teams working directly with each community to co-develop software and come up with changes that can pass muster. Failure to do real community engagement and then passing the buck to a single Technology Council for rubber stamping is a fairy tale. Individual editors are not going to just roll over and accept changes they don't like because they were anointed by a Technology Council, which in effect means we just got more bureaucracy for no benefit. The alternative idea, that 100% of planning and authority over what gets built goes to a council, likewise is unrealistic because it would massively slow down development by blocking all planning and decisions on a few people from an elected committee. Steven Walling • talk 02:54, 28 August 2023 (UTC)
Ironically the WMF rolled forwards on just such a conflict few hours ago.
In 2017 the WMF built a "new wikitext editor", effectively in secret. Then they pushed it out to the betatest section of preferences. Almost immediately EnWiki established consensus against the project. Instead of discussing this issue with the community, or closing the project as obviously non-viable, or coming up with any sort of path forwards, the Foundation simply left the project in zombie mode. For 6 years the project lingered on, slowly consuming developer time on maintenance and bug fixes.
With no prior announcement, the Foundation just promoted it out of Beta. It's not the default editor (at least not on EnWiki) and therefore technically not violating the letter of the consensus. However it has been promoted to a second fully fledged Wikiext editor with no credible path forwards to become default editor, and no credible case to be maintained as a redundant editor. The entire rationale for the project was to REDUCE the number of editors, and reducing the maintenance burden and confusion and complexity of too many editors. Maintaining the status quo would be harmful per the project's own rationale.
It looks like I'm going to have to draft ANOTHER RFC on this thing. And I really hope I don't need to organize consensus across three wikis, as I had to do before some manager took notice that staff were pushing a certain other non-viable zombie project.[1] Coincidentally, also for six years. Alsee (talk) 09:30, 30 August 2023 (UTC)
In fairness, 2017 was six years ago, and the leadership of the Foundation (at both the technical and non-technical parts of the organization) are entirely different now and have taken a much more hands-on approach to working with the community. Steven Walling • talk 16:53, 1 September 2023 (UTC)
@Steven Walling I only mentioned 2017 for context. I was blaming current staff for current events. There is a standing consensus-block against the new editor, and the current staff just promoted it out of beta. Apparently it was sheer "accident"[2] that they didn't force it on everyone as the default in the process. That would have gotten ugly.
As for today's Foundation, it is forever trying to improve yet continues to repeat the same patterns. The underlying problems haven't changed. Just look at the 2030 Global Strategy. The Foundation is congratulating itself on how it ran such an open and participatory process. They think they did a great job gathering the strategy from the community. The Foundation is so pathological that one of the strategy items essentially seeks to scrap core content quality policies such as Reliable Sources and Notability. The community would burn down the Foundation before it allowed that. The Foundation has no idea the consultation had no legitimacy or validity. The whole strategy process was several rounds of inkblots. Each round a staff member would progressively project more and more Foundation agenda into the inkblot. Alsee (talk) 01:53, 2 September 2023 (UTC)

Summary of discussion of the German-speaking community in the Kurier

It seems worthwhile to quote here the results of a discussion of the German-speaking community in the Kurier (similar to the Signpost of the English Wikipedia and a central forum of the German-speaking community), as summarised here by User:Denis Barthel:

There were many comments on the draft on the Global Council. All were characterized by disappointment, outrage, or resignation. Many community members felt their assumption confirmed that the Wikimedia Foundation was unwilling to share powers. The "equity in decision-making" promised by the MCDC and the Movement Strategy, allowing a stronger representation of all groups in the Movement, was regarded by many voices as an obviously vain hope.
In particular, a kind of parliament or general assembly was missed, as well as powers beyond those already exercised by various volunteer bodies. There was a clear desire for the Global Council to be more than just an advisory body.

At present, the cynics who argued the Global Council would amount to nothing more than window dressing, creating a semblance of a democratic institution that would –

  • keep people occupied without giving them any actual say, and
  • create yet another buffer insulating the WMF from direct community feedback

would seem to have been borne out. Andreas JN466 12:33, 26 August 2023 (UTC)

An advisory role is not what was expected from this process by the community. Was this process merely a show of pseudoparticipation? Ghilt (talk) 07:02, 17 September 2023 (UTC)

Feedback from SJ

Structure: other options needed - larger, focused on being representative of a broad network

Responsibilities: a simpler alternate list.

Financing: this should be a low-overhead and low-cost body, learning from the most efficient and not the least efficient examples in our movement.

Responsibilities

Here is a cleaner and more self-similar list of responsibilities. I think such a Council is best positioned to ensure there is a functional process for these essential tasks, pushing out implementation to specialized groups focused on each one, and filling gaps / coming up w/ solutions to problems that arise.

1. Opening and closing projects

a) Language projects - maintaining process via LangCom
b) Sister projects - maintaining process via an SPCom

2. Recognizing and derecognizing parts of the movement

a) Affiliates - maintaining process via AffCom
b) Hubs - via similar structure? Eventually, not in the first 1-2y as both are new + in flux

3. Strategy and prioritization

a) Movement strategy overview - advising via annual report, feedback on WMF and affiliate reports?
b) Funds dissemination - advising via annual report
c) Technical hub - advising large initiatives, w/ a focus group per project? summarizing feedback from past rollouts?
d) Site policies - advising on wording and implementation? summarizing feedback from past rollouts?

4. Community health

a) Mediation - mediating bilateral issues between parts of the movement; training community mediators?

SJ talk  01:43, 29 August 2023 (UTC)

Comments from Wikimedia Sverige

This is a response based on the internal feedback from board and staff at Wikimedia Sverige.

We’d like to start by thanking the MCDC for the draft and this opportunity to comment on it. We’ll start with some general overarching reflections before commenting on the three open questions.

We will outline a couple of possible solutions to the questions/issues we raise under the section “Should the Global Council exist only as an executive body or should it exist as an executive body with an advisory board?” at the end.

Distribution of mandate and areas of responsibility

Our main concern is that there is a lack of clarity in how the mandates and areas of responsibility are distributed between the Global Council (GC), the WMF and the Wikimedia Board of Trustees (BoT). To what extent can (and should) the GC be able to influence what a team within the WMF works on? What happens if a WMF employee interprets there to be a clash between statements issued by the BoT and GC? This also connects with the financial question in the next section.

The first impression is that there is little decision power actually being redistributed to the GC (other than over affiliates, hubs and if a new sister project gets approved). The rest are all recommendations which the BoT can choose to disregard. This is especially true when comparing the initial listing of purpose and powers and comparing these to the actual details further on in the draft proposal.

The purpose of the GC is described as ensuring the Movement Strategy is developed and realized. As such it is natural that the details focus on the plans that the GC will have to develop. But it also needs to have the powers necessary to bring these plans to fruition.

But it is equally important for a foundational document, such as the Movement Charter, to also take aim at what the GC’s role and mandate is once this initial work has been done. The GC needs a mandate to look at and investigate any new questions and needs which arise over the coming years and which may not fit neatly into the listed powers. Because surely we want the GC to be active beyond 2030.

The charter, as a foundational document which will likely not see frequent updates, needs to ensure it does not unnecessarily restrict the GC from fulfilling its purpose in a future which we can as of yet not fully imagine.

Technology Council

The information about the Technology Council (TC) is very bare bones (which is admitted in the draft). In the current proposal it is unclear if the TC will have a direct influence on the (technical side of) the WMF, community technology or both. However, since it has the potential of having a central role in how the (technical side of) the WMF will work and, since it is under the GC, this in turn means that it is important to the power-dynamics between the parties. As such information about it is central to understanding the GC proposal.

If the GC is in a position to reject suggestions by the TC, this also requires special competence within either the TC or GC to communicate advanced technical problems and reframe them for a non-technical audience (see later section on expertise).

Funding of the GC

There is NO information at all about how the practical work of the GC will be funded. If we want to enable equitable participation and if participation takes up a significant portion of time then remuneration will need to be considered. In addition to this, the GC will need support roles who facilitate and possibly organize the work (aids, translators etc.). If the GC is not fundraising itself, it is dependent on financing from the funds raised by the WMF/banners for this. This gives the WMF indirect power over the GC as they could e.g. decide to effectively defund the GC after a clash with the BoT or WMF.

In addition to this comes the question of who will be the official employer of any support roles (or of any paid AffCom roles which may become necessary with its expanded responsibilities). The employer of any such staff gains a fairly significant power over these support roles, and by extension over the GC (or AffCom) which they serve.

Size, structure and members of the GC

There are some overarching questions about the GC which would need to be answered in order to discuss the size and structure of the GC.

Several of the tasks assigned to the GC are ones which require some type of specific expertise in order to make informed and important decisions (technological in order to question the information they get from the Technical Council, financial for potentially commenting on WMF internal spending etc.). Are we expecting the GC itself to have all of this expertise among its members or are we expecting them to be able to bring in this expertise when needed (e.g. via employed aids or some larger form of support network)?

If we are expecting the members of the council to have the expertise among themselves – how do we ensure this expertise through (popular) elections? How do we ensure that the GC has both the necessary expertises and is truly representative of the movement, and which of these factors are most important? And if GC members are elected individually rather than as a group, how do we ensure that two candidates bringing the same expertise will not both be elected at the cost of a candidate bringing other needed expertise?

If we, on the other hand, are expecting the expertise to be brought in when the need for it arises, then what is really needed in the GC is a strong network and a deep understanding of the needs of the community. But if the expertise is brought in (e.g. as employed staff) there is a risk that these unelected people (who are not affected by the term limit) end up wielding the true power in addition to acting as the institutional memory of the GC.

Who will actually be able to participate?

Language
If we want to ensure that anyone from our movement can be a member of the GC then one should be able to communicate with all other GC members in one's own language, and consume any of the necessary reports and materials in the same language. This brings with it a significant translation cost (especially since some material may not be public and therefore cannot be translated by the community). This is a cost which multiplies with the size of the GC. See again the above question about funding the GC.
Time commitment
The proposal states that “Members are expected to consistently participate”. This would need to be clarified in order to get a feeling for who will in practice have the opportunity to participate. This also ties into the question of the size of the GC as one would expect (for purely practical reasons) a smaller time commitment for a larger group and a more intensive one for a smaller one.
A lot of the listed responsibilities of the GC have the nature of one-off initiatives (setting up completely new structures and establishing completely new ways of doing things). Should we expect the first couple of years of the GC to be more demanding, commitment wise, then later years? If the work in these first years differs, can we also consider a different mechanism for how the first GC is seated?
Another issue regarding time commitment is who will be able to take from their own time to put into this work. Only people with the privilege of controlling their own working hours who can take time off from work? Only people who do not work? See also the above section on Funding of the GC and the question of remunerations.
On-wiki participation
The current proposal suggests that Candidates must meet the “voter eligibility criteria for the BoT”. This effectively means that any candidate needs to have an active on-wiki participation. But the strategic direction is to “become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us.”, yet we are excluding anyone from other parts of the free knowledge ecosystem to be elected to the GC. Looking at the previous section about expertise this might also prevent much needed expertise to be brought into the GC from outside of our current community.
Term limits
While it should not be hard for the more populous of our communities to identify a replacement candidate when the current member reaches their term limit, this might not be the case for the more marginalized of our communities. Especially if the time commitment is large, there are language demands on members, or specific expertise which must also be matched. In these situations: is it better for this community to be without a voice for two years until that representative can run again?

Timeframe

Connected to the above mentioned questions about what real power the GC will actually have to enact change, comes the issue around the timeframe for this change. How long will it be before, for example, new criterias for funds dissemination can actually be produced, how long before they can be put into use? Since the basic power structure remains largely the same, the possibility of affecting such change is significantly hampered. How close to 2030 will we be before some of these changes will actually start having an effect on the day-to-day work of the movement?

Costs of increased bureaucratisation

Considering the limited power being assigned to the GC (see #Distribution of mandate and areas of responsibility) is it worth building up a giant apparatus? Is the increased bureaucratisation proportional to the power and impact of the GC?

We should also be honest in admitting that this bureaucratisation will further delay the implementation of the movement strategy (for example, hubs are blocked by the GC being in place). Waiting ensures that the decisions are not taken by the structures in power today, which is positive, but we should be open about the delay that this brings with it.

Finally, there is nothing in the proposal to suggest that it would not be the same set of people who are nominated for, and who vote in, the GC elections as in the BoT elections. With both of these being elected, will it become more difficult to find candidates? Will the community suffer from election fatigue? If the GC is even more abstract than the BoT, and especially if its membership is large, can we really expect people to vote based on anything other than name recognition? And how do we ensure that the elections and the impact that it can bring gets communicated equally across our various sub-communities (not the same as a banner showing everywhere)?

The open questions

What role should the Global Council have in fund dissemination?

We base our answers here on the GC (or a committee appointed by it to look at funding) being a competence-driven body. I.e its members have the relevant knowledge and experience to understand more complex financial documents and also to evaluate the results in order to determine if their instructions have been followed. See section on GC membership above.

Purposes #1, 2 and 5 establish that the GC should have significant power and influence over the funds coming into, and out of the WMF. This ambition is however not reflected in the details of the proposal. Again it would be good to have a clear image of what the hierarchy between the GC, WMF and BoT looks like in practice. To what extent will this really bring with it a redistribution of power, and to what extent does it risk becoming a thin facade over the power structures which exist today?

Funds within the WMF

From the draft text it seems clear that there is no intention for the GC to exert any control over the funds within the WMF, especially since it is not even clear where the funds for the GC itself will come from. This is understandable if this power, for legal reasons, needs to reside with the BoT. But if this is the case the legal limitations should be clearly laid out. We should also consider if such legal limitations are the result of some pre-existing structure or mechanism which could be changed.

But if the relationship to the WMF is simply that the GC provides advice which the WMF can then choose to ignore, this runs the risk of becoming a source of potential conflict (see section about GC’s own funding). A way forward would be if there is increased financial transparency from the WMF towards the GC, with the GC being empowered to issue broader guidelines/areas of focus. Increased transparency could lead to a healthy exchange while the final power still resides with the BoT. That transparency would need to be encoded in the Charter, since there is no equity in the decision making process without such insight. What would still need to be resolved is what happens if the WMF/BoT decides to completely ignore those guidelines, again this comes back to the hierarchy between the GC/WMF/BoT not being clear.

Out of the suggested roles the most appropriate one would be “The Global Council should be consulted on the allocation of the funds within the WMF.” since without this insight it is impossible to make a well informed decision about which funds should be allocated away from the WMF.

Funds outside of the WMF

If various committees are being tasked with reporting to the GC, a significant amount of work time will have to be invested into consuming these reports, giving feedback and coming up with suggestions for change. Yet there is no mention of any control over how the funds get distributed. Why should the GC be provided with all of this info if it cannot act on it?

Purpose #2 (“The Global Council shall establish standards and guidelines for the equitable dissemination of funds to support Wikimedia projects, communities, affiliates, hubs, and other movement entities.”) does not align with what is being described in this section. There is no opening for establishing different approaches to funds dissemination and there is no mechanism available for prioritizing certain questions or problem areas. The draft says that “The GC will issue a recommendation to the BoT”. This describes a one-off event. There is no opening for this to be revised or to be a yearly recommendation, mechanisms which we think are reasonable. There is also no information about to what extent the BoT should let itself be governed by such recommendations (while that would have to be encoded in the BoT guiding documents rather than the Charter it is important to understand to get an overall picture).

To conclude

Funds dissemination plays a critical role in how the 2030 recommendations are fulfilled. Yet none of the changes described here make it clear how the GC would facilitate this. This also connects to the section about the timeframe above.

Should the Global Council exist only as an executive body or should it exist as an executive body with an advisory board?

For an executive committee with an advisory board there is a concern about what the mandate for the advisory board would be. Does the executive board have to listen to the advisory board? What happens if there is a conflict between the two bodies?

For the suggested sizes 17-21 is the one we would consider more appropriate. That said, we see risks with either size. The larger option risks being too big for each member to truly participate in a full group discussion or having a clear role within its structure. At the same time, the smaller group is vulnerable to people not being able to participate and thus not being able to reach a quorum. A smaller group can likely be more efficient, while a larger group brings with it broader representation.

We, however, have various concerns with all the proposed structures. We would therefore like to propose two solutions here:

The first (per WMDE's comment) is that a larger body is elected with a makeup that strives to reflect the full diversity of our movement. This body meets rarely (e.g. once per year) and formally approves any larger decisions, policy changes or budgets. Connected to this body are staff, committees and a board which work more intensely. The committees prepare any proposals which the larger body should decide about and the board has the mandate to handle time sensitive decisions in between the yearly meetings. This would require a relatively small time commitment from the members of the larger body while allowing specific expertise to be brought in for the various committees depending on their needs.

The second suggestion is to consider a procedure where the GC is nominated (or appointed) based on certain publicly communicated criterias. This would effectively require an electoral committee with the mandate of bringing forward sets of candidates who, as a group, would fill the necessary requirements to ensure true diversity of the GC (in knowledge, expertise and representation). The downside is that this is an additional structure which would in turn also need to be elected (some of the proposed mechanisms for the GC may work well for seating this committee though).

Should there be some imposed limits to the membership in terms of movement representation?

If we impose quotas on membership this could bring about several unintended consequences. For instance, the quota from which you could stand for election can be quite arbitrary. Should you be tactical and try to be elected as representative for the project with less representation, despite personally viewing it as one of your secondary projects? What about people active across multiple platforms and potentially involved with an affiliate? What about those representing a plurality of linguistic or geographic backgrounds? And if we are looking at quotas, are there not more measures of diversity which we should consider, for example age and gender? We risk encoding a biased and one-sided view of diversity through such quotas.

Finally, there is a risk that if you are elected as a representative of some specific group you might feel expected to defend the needs of this group, at the cost of what you might feel is better for the movement as a whole. Progressing the latter is what should be the overall goal of the GC, despite how its members got elected.


Thank you, André Costa (WMSE) (talk) 20:17, 31 August 2023 (UTC)

André Costa (WMSE), Thank you, and thanks to WMSE, for this thoughtful commentary. You have raised several valuable points, ones that haven't been surfaced to date in public responses. We very much appreciate the time that you and your organization have taken to develop this assessment. Risker (talk) 04:36, 1 September 2023 (UTC)

What does "equitable representation" mean?

I feel the wish to be "equitable" and "representative" does a lot of work in various proposals for specific governance structures, while these terms are very vague and it's unclear if we truly have a shared understanding of them. Here are a few questions I'd like to see the MCDC answer (or at least consider) when writing the MC:

  • Is "equitable representation" the same thing as proportional representation (which, for national politics, is generally considered the ideal form of representation today)? That would mean the few largest Wikipedias dominating decisionmaking bodies. One could argue that's a good thing (the top few Wikipedias also represent the majority of volunteers and the majority of donated work time, and the majority of mission impact), but the people who talk the most about equity seem to have very different expectations. Are we ready to say that the most equitable representation is the one where one person's vote is worth ten time another person's?
  • The representation of affiliates adds another layer of trickiness: affiliates generally have more stake in the Global Council than volunteer editors (as most of its powers is about regulating affiliate activity and affiliate budgets, so most of what the GC does is very important for affiliates but not terribly relevant for most editors), but in terms of number of people involved, and (with the exception of the WMF and maybe WMDE) in terms of mission impacts, affiliates are dwarfed by the wiki communities. So should "equitable" mean that the hundred thousand or so volunteers involved in wiki editing get significantly more say in the composition of the GC than the few thousand volunteers and staff involved in the WMF and affiliates, or should it mean that the people who are the most affected have the biggest opportunity to influence the decision?
  • What does proportionality mean for affiliates? Today, a large affiliate with hundreds of staff and thousands of involved volunteers has (at least on paper) the same representation in decisionmaking than a user group with two active members, which doesn't strike me as a healthy situation. On the other hand, it's hard to assign a meaningful "size" to affiliates; the size of membership mostly depends on how agressively one recruits and whether there are any dues (it's easy to find people who sign up as members and then never do anything again), and in the case of formal organizations, how much local law penalizes them for having lots of inactive members (which would e.g. lead to quorum problems).

Tgr (talk) 10:22, 1 September 2023 (UTC)

Feedback from NANöR

Structure and membership.

I believe the global concept revolves around shared governance. We have a successful example to study and follow in the movement in terms of shared governance: Regional fund committees. These committees were created from the movement strategy and applied throughout the movement according to each community's needs and requirements, as they differ in number of committee members and resources. As a member of one of these committees, I witnessed good collaboration (so far :)) between volunteers and staff to initiate the shared governance process at least in my region. For example, we have 12 members in our committee and are reaching out for more currently, so for 8 regions, 80 is Not a big number. Having more members in the global council with committees and staff support will enhance its capacities and increase its availability for more powers.

We need to be brave enough to take the initiative to expand the experience we built in the regional fund committees and have a global council with a large number of members and adequate resources and powers to represent us all and to ensure equity in decision making. NANöR (talk) 16:40, 3 September 2023 (UTC)

Hi NANöR, I wanted to share some gratitude to you for participating in the discussions online, on calls, and at Wikimania. Thank you for the great feedback. We hope to share a next steps blog post for the MCDC on Diff and the summary of the community conversations here by the end of the month / beginning of the next. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 20:26, 18 September 2023 (UTC)
Salam Mehrdad, thank you for taking the lead for such an important topic. I am happy to support our movement as always. NANöR (talk) 19:08, 22 September 2023 (UTC)

A summary of a conversation on the GC of the Germanspeaking community

Initiated by a community member, today 11 persons, mostly of the Germanspeaking community, met in an open 90 minutes video call on the Global Council.

The conversation started by members expressing the general disappointment on the current draft. The overall feeling was that the draft did not fulfill the expectations concerning a stronger shift of powers from the Wikimedia Foundation towards the future Global Council.

It was well understood, that legal concerns of the WMF blocked power shifts in some areas. This was met with the suggestion that this problem has been solved already in the past when the WMF acted as an extension of volunteer bodies and executed their decisions, rejecting their will only if anything was wrong with it legally (this is how Board Elections basically work or the work of the Ombudscommission does). If the Global Council cannot be the executive power, it still can make decisions, which have to be executed by the WMF then.

The round agreed that the actions, projects and plans of the WMF (as of many other Wikimedia organisations) repeatedly resulted in conflicts with community wishes and expectations. One of the reasons for this was seen in a general organisational distance from communities and a frequent lack of understanding in most Wikimedia organisations and the WMF especially on how communities work and what is important to them and what is not which led to a lack of trust on one or the other side, some examples were mentioned. The round expects from a Global Council to solve this fundamental problem and wants that it brings such a strong sense for communities into play. It was agreed, that such a major difference to former structures cannot happen with a small body, not having the power to set goals, control funds and intervene in cases of significant disagreement by communities. Such a body, duplicating current structures, would have an extremely hard time to earn trust in communities. To make this happen, the Global Council should be of a size that allows all the various stakeholders of the movement to be part of it, expressing the whole diversity of thoughts, opinions and voices in the movement. The challenge would be, to avoid a further huge bureaucracy regardless of this.

(to be edited by any other participant of the conversation, Denis Barthel (talk) 19:04, 6 September 2023 (UTC))

I received a feedback that this summary does not properly reflect the whole bandwith of opinions expressed in the meeting. I am sorry for this. Thus I'd like to add two sets of unredacted notes, first by de:User:Andreas Werle and another by myself. The notes have been redacted slightly according to the Chatham House rules and for better understanding.

Andreas Werle noted:

  • Question from Frank to the plenary: what decisions would you personally promote if you had decision-making power?
  • Question P1: How should the communities be better represented?
  • P2 Answer: I don't know which decisions I would like to promote. And to P1: What needs of the communities are not being served by WMF? Do we even know them?
  • Criticism from P3: the text says, the WMF decides the future of the Movement. P2 asks: How do they do that? How does WMF decide about the future of the Movement, don't we do that as authors? The point was a misunderstanding - WMF decides about the sustainability of the movement: where does the money go, shouldn't we stop certain projects (Wiki-Species) and send money to certain regions (third world).
  • Next statement from P1: We are struggling with participation: no comparable project is so far away from its base. To this P4 replies: the "miners" (authors) and the bureaucracy are very far from each other. One example: the WMF didn't know Commons was dysfunctional for a long time until authors stood up - this is a scandal because it is the largest multilingual project.
  • Question P2 to P1: what participation do we want, or what kind of participation (of the community) should be improved? To this Ciell (present as a member of the MCDC) answered: she counts on the Global Council, because there can be an exchange about the needs of the different communities and they can then (my words) better communicate their needs there.
  • P1 criticizes that wrong decisions can't be corrected fast enough (like the pointless branding issue). My question was: is WMF not professional enough? P4 answers: the WMF is sufficiently professional, they make wrong decisions quite professionally. They need to make right decisions professionally through more proximity to communities.
  • P5 urges to bring these discussions into the community.

Denis Barthel noted:

  • The proposal does not indicate any shifts in WMF responsibilities to the Global Council.
  • How should it happen that the participation of the communities is concretely improved by the GC?
  • Can a chapter represent community? What would need to happen for this to happen?
  • What is it that communities would actually like to see happen concretely?
  • The increasing bureaucratic apparatus is viewed with great concern.

I hope these additions help to represent better the events of the call. Denis Barthel (talk) 15:21, 12 September 2023 (UTC)

Clarity and Sustainability in the Current Charter

Hi MCDC,

Thank you for your work.

In this draft of the Wikimedia Movement Charter, the Global Council is set to receive the majority of redistributed powers from the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) and its Board of Trustees. However, the draft does not explicitly specify the nature of these powers. It is essential that the charter clearly delineates which powers, previously held by the Board, will now fall under the Global Council. Adding a background section or preamble would enhance understanding in this regard.

Given the evolving nature of our movement, we must establish a framework for addressing the emergence of new sources of power.

The sustainability of the Council is a concern, particularly when it consists of volunteers with responsibilities but lacks staff support.

The document primarily addresses executive powers, yet it overlooks legislative powers. It is crucial to outline who will be responsible for formulating and amending policies, guidelines, and other legislative aspects.

Best regards, Nada.FA (talk) 09:07, 8 September 2023 (UTC)

A thought on a large council and it's sub-committees

One of the things in the draft repeatedly described as disappointing was the small size of the group. It might be useful to adapt the way the MCDC (and the U4CBC) itself works: assume a group of, let's say for the sake of it, 100 elected persons are the GC. This group is split in working groups then (Finances, Tech Council, AffCom, LangCom, + any of the as yet still missing described fields). For small questions the Working Groups might even be able to decide (i.E. recognizing a usergroup), but at least for larger decisions they are preparing documents that finally are only decided upon by the whole GC. Thus the GC can still have an eye on everything without establishing a huge bureaucracy eating the time of every delegate. Denis Barthel (talk) 19:43, 12 September 2023 (UTC)

You know, a large part of communication is in how feedback is provided Denis Barthel. When you begin a sentence by listing what has been most described as disappointing – to a group of volunteers who have been working on a complex task for a long time – it discourages one to keep reading. You can easily reframe and mention that something that has been asked for frequently (where? by whom?) is a large Global Council with working groups. Noted :) MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 20:16, 18 September 2023 (UTC)
@MPourzaki (WMF) - Thank you for your advice. I guess this is a point where cultural differences in communication manifest themselves. I see from your comment that from this point of view it can look like this is meant to be confrontational or discouraging.
However, I grew up and am very used to another way, a pretty German one maybe. That is openly, directly and honestly naming a problem and then proposing a solution (or a contribution to a solution) to it, quite constructively. Critique vs. criticism, so to speak. Such critique is never meant to be personal or ad hominem, nor should it be taken as such. And of course there is no offense meant.
I hope and trust from my encounters with the MCDC members, that they recognize this and will measure my and similar comments primarily by their spirit rather than their (apparent) form and will continue reading.
Thank you for your work and all the best, Denis Barthel (talk) 22:41, 18 September 2023 (UTC)
Thank you for that clarification Denis Barthel. Much gratitude and appreciation for your work as well. The MCDC will be sharing an update soon, by the end of the month, summarizing the community conversations and presenting next steps, which includes monthly calls with community members. These at the moment are being envisioned for the first Thursday of each month. I hope you can join. Your input would add great value to the work of the MCDC. We hope with regular, timeline interactions, we can move much more cohesively together to the finish line. MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 19:44, 19 September 2023 (UTC)
Did you read this section in context with the above #A_summary_of_a_conversation_on_the_GC_of_the_Germanspeaking_community?
Perhaps I am wrong, but I saw the two sections as closely related (and this one as an afterthought to the earlier one). Regards, Andreas JN466 21:35, 18 September 2023 (UTC)

Signpost comments

Wikipedia Signpost has a report titled Wikimedia power sharing – just an advisory role for the volunteer community?. The report itself is just quotes from this talk page, but the comments might be interesting. Tgr (talk) 08:12, 17 September 2023 (UTC)

It also only highlights European voices Tgr. Quite a limited piece. The talk page is already more interesting and nuanced :) MPourzaki (WMF) (talk) 20:05, 18 September 2023 (UTC)

About the section Approving new language projects - standards setting:

  • The Language Committee (LangCom) reports to the Global Council. The Global Council makes the final decisions on form and structure of LangCom, subject to the provisions within the Movement Charter.
We suggest acknowledging that Langcom already exists and has a structure and a charter, which however still shows signs of being from the time Langcom was established.
  • The Global Council may modify prerequisites for language projects to be recognised.
We suggest making clear that this relates to the m:Language proposal policy. It should be made clear if the Global Council should have the competency to change this policy (alone?).
  • The Global Council may choose to allow LangCom to directly recognise new language projects or retain that authority for itself.
Please make clear what "recognise" means. Currently we have "verification as eligible" and "final approval", both are done by Langcom. The Board has years ago waived the requirement that they formally be consulted for a final approval (i.e. wiki creation). We suggest keeping it that way and striking this point, as the current process works and it would be strange to reserve the creation of wikis to a different body.
  • In this new structure, LangCom is tasked to verify that proposed projects are substantial and sufficiently supported.
Please make clear if this is supposed to be a change from current policy.

About the section Closure of lingual and sister projects:

  • The Global Council possesses the authority to veto decisions to close a lingual project. It may set its own standards on whether to vote on such matters. Where it does not vote, the Language Committee (LangCom) will take the decision.
Please use "language version" instead of "lingual project". This is the established terminology and also clearer than the relatively unknown adjective "lingual". It would also be more consistent with the section above, which speaks of "language projects".
  • The Global Council, through LangCom, would have the authority to set standards to close an incubator project. In the absence of Global Council action, LangCom will continue to set its own standards.
What would it mean to close an Incubator project? Currently, projects on Incubator can get deleted / prevented from creation, but that is an Incubator community / admins decision. Also, don't forget that Wikisource and Wikiversity are being incubated on the Multilingual Wikisource and BetaWikiversity, respectively.

These points have received the usual consensus in Langcom, i.e. no objections. --MF-W 06:47, 25 September 2023 (UTC)

Pair work - Wikimedia Senat and Central desk for diversity and inclusiveness

Following recent discussion about the 3 options of assemblies, I would say that size doesn’t matter and that no Global Council is just not an option.

So, I propose a Global Council set up on two feet : a “Senate” (the more skilled persons of the Movement) and a “Central desk for diversity and inclusiveness (the more diverse)” in pair work to ensure a coherence in the information and decisions.


The Wikimedia Senate

- Made from all former elected officials of the community.

- Persons who have never have a mandate but have a leadership in the community and are constructive in the discussions can be co-opted by the Senate.

- Members of the Wikimedia Senate are voting members.

The mechanism of functioning is community based. The members of the Wikimedia Senate are not obliged to participate to all the debates and votes. They can choose where and when they want to invest.


The Wikimedia Senate :

- issues opinions and recommendations addressed to the Board and the community

- can make Requests for comment internally or to the Community

- can ask for and lead Global Consultations of the community

- can make decisions after the Global Consultations are held

- can co-organize with the Foundation elections of Movement level Committees


In pair work, the Wikimedia Senat and the Central desk for diversity and inclusiveness will be able to search for or order Studies about relevant areas such as :

- changes in technology of digital products and services (like Artificial Intelligence)

- changes in social use of digital products and services

- accessibility of digital products and services especially those involved in the process of sharing knowledge

- evolution of the the voluntary and cooperative sector

- etc….


In pair work, they will analyse and comment the studies. Based on their knowledge of informations, the duo may :

- inform the community about the new trends in technology and society

- make informed choices in their respective areas

- coordinate their recommendations and decisions in order to keep a coherent line in the whole Movement.

- give specific opinions and recommendations to the Board and the community and/or make a decision.


The Central desk for diversity and inclusiveness

It will ensure that the Funds are correctly disseminated and that they are used efficiently and effectively. Members sitting in the Central desk for diversity and inclusiveness will come from the bodies, groups and persons concerned by the fund dissemination, namely :

- underrepresented groups and communities

- stakeholders invested to ensure diversity, parity, inclusiveness in the movement

- stakeholders working for a better sharing of free knowledge in the society (Glam, Sciences, Wikimedians in residences, etc…)

The Central desk for diversity and inclusiveness will :

- set up dashboards to monitor the parameters of the distribution and benefice of ressources in the movement

- coordinate the Regional allocation of funds and verify the effectiveness of the fund allocation

- evaluate the impact of funds allocation

- making recommendations to adjust and modify the distribution of the funds

- making recommendations for setting up or shifting the goals if new elements show up in the trends analyzed in the above mentioned pair working about studies.

Waltercolor (talk) 09:14, 6 October 2023 (UTC)

Diagram

Hello, I believe that visual representations of ideas can greatly enhance the clarity of communication. I was wondering if it would be possible to change the diagram used in this draft in a scalable vector graphic (SVG) format. This would allow for easy translation into other languages. signed, 511KeV (talk) 16:13, 12 October 2023 (UTC)

Hi 511KeV, apologies for the time it took to reply to your message. An SVG would be a great improvement to the visual representation indeed; I'll investigate what we can do in term of using it for the next iteration of this draft. Cheers, RamzyM (WMF) (talk) 08:39, 8 January 2024 (UTC)

Wikimedia Global Assembly

Hello everyone,

Following the numerous discussions in recent weeks around the global council and the form it could take, with several people from different organizations in the Wikimedia movement (WMUK, WMCA, WMNL, WMDE, Art+Feminism, WikiEdu Foundation and WMFR) we worked on the general assembly model in order to fuel discussions and help the MCDC in its work and reflections. We were inspired by the examples of other NGOs and believe that it is a model which, while following the principles and recommendations of Strategy 2030, is also entirely feasible and desirable for our movement by bringing more democracy and representativeness in our global governance.

Obviously, we do not have all the answers regarding the details of implementing a global council in this form. Our desire is really to fuel the debate but also to see if this type of global council format would find significant support from the organizations and people who make up our movement.

Glad to be able to discuss this here or on the Wikimedia Global Assembly talk page. Rémy Gerbet WMFr (talk) 13:54, 2 November 2023 (UTC)

Input Survey on Global Council - January 2024

Following up on the suggestions from the Wikimedia Movement Charter open community calls, the supporting staff for the process has put together a straw poll to gauge the perspectives on some of the expectations related to the purpose, role, and function of the Global Council.

This poll will propose some of the areas of accountability and decision-making derived from the historic resolutions of global nature from the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation to define where movement participants think these decisions should be made in the future. The analysis of the prior decisions and categorization can be found in this spreadsheet with links to respective resolutions.

Time to express Your opinion! - Jason Krüger for Wikimedia Deutschland e.V., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can respond to the survey here on meta publicly or use the anonymous Google Forms survey. All the responses will be accounted for in the Movement Charter Drafting Committee discussions related to the Global Council!

Description of the poll

The decisions have been categorized as follows:
a) Platform
b) Content
c) User Safety
d) Trademark
e) Ecosystem
f) Resourcing
g) Strategy
h) Equity
i) Beyond Wikimedia

In the response people will have 3 options to choose from whether the decisions in defined domains should be made in the future by
1) Global Council,
2) Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees,
3) Some other entity in the movement.

While there probably needs to be a split responsibility between movement entities to advance the proposed areas, according to the responsibility assignment theory (RACI matrix), there should only be one person or entity accountable. This survey is asking about your perspective on what the one most fitting accountable body for specific domain would be in the future.

The survey consists of 23 defined decision-making domains across all categories. It also includes optional open question regarding the rationale behind the response. Filling in the full survey will take at least 10 minutes, depending on the time taken for reflection. Looking forward to hearing your perspective!

Category:Platform

Decisions related to the technical platform of Wikimedia online projects and its aspects, like licensing, terms of use, opening and closing of projects, etc.

This section consists of 3 defined domains of decision-making.

Wikimedia Servers - Helpameout, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Approving new and closing existing sister projects

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

For reference see the sister projects overview on meta.

Licensing of Wikimedia projects

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Wikimedia Licensing Policy and Resolution on Openness

Terms of Use

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Updating / amending Terms of Use

Category:Content

Decisions related to the content of Wikimedia online projects, like different content policies or actions related to controversial content

This section only has 1 defined domain of decision-making.

Welcome to Wikipedia! - Kristoferb at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Content Policies

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: biographies or media about living or identifiable people; controversial content

Category:User Safety

Decisions related to the safety of users on Wikimedia online projects, like privacy and data retention policies, maintenance of safe spaces, ombuds

This section has 3 defined domains of decision-making.

Provide for Safety and Inclusion - Riesenspatz / Svenja Kirsch, Anna Lena Schiller, riesenspatz.de, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Privacy and Data Policies

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Wikimedia Privacy Policy, Data Retention Policy, Access to Nonpublic data

Universal Code of Conduct

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Universal Code of Conduct, U4C

Ombuds Commission

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Amending the Scope of the Ombuds Commission

Category:Trademark

Decisions related to the Wikimedia trademarks, including trademark policy setting, trademark management, and brand projects

This section has 2 defined domains of decision-making.

Wikimedia Brand - Wikimedia Foundation Staff and Contractors, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trademark Policy and Management

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Wikimedia Trademark Policy

Brand Projects

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: 2030 movement brand project

Category:Ecosystem

Decisions pertaining to the Wikimedia ecosystem, like discussions around movement roles and responsibilities, movement-wide standards, affiliate landscape, language project oversight

This section has 5 defined domains of decision-making.

Wikimedia Movement Ecosystem - María Cruz, Ed Bland, Nicole Ebber, Shannon Keith, Jaime Anstee, Suzie Nussel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

General Affiliate Strategy

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Definition and modalities of affiliations, like Wikimedia Foundation Affiliates Strategy

Affiliations Oversight

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Oversight of Affiliations Committee and their responsibilities

Language Projects Oversight

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Oversight of the Language Committee and its responsibilities

Definition of Movement Roles

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Movement Roles project, Movement Charter Roles and Responsibilities chapter

Movement-wide standard setting

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Committee Standards resolution, movement roles project committee standards

Category:Resourcing

Decisions pertaining to the Wikimedia ecosystem resourcing matters, like revenue generation, funds distribution, endowment

This section has 3 defined domains of decision-making.

Movement Resources - kschneider2991, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Revenue Generation

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Wikimedia fundraising principles, scenarios for future fundraising

Funds Distribution

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Establishing and overseeing any global funds dissemination committee

Endowment

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Establishment of Endowment, resolutions on endowment structure

Category:Strategy

Decisions pertaining to the Wikimedia ecosystem strategy matters, like the vision and the strategic direction of the movement, as well as oversight of strategy implementation

This section has 3 defined domains of decision-making.

Movement Strategy - Riesenspatz: Svenja Kirsch, Anna Lena Schiller, riesenspatz.de, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Vision and Mission

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: vision statement, Strategic Direction

Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Movement Strategy implementation, resolutions about Movement Strategy

Future movement-wide strategies

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Category:Equity

Decisions pertaining to the Wikimedia ecosystem equity matters, like movement-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion related resolutions, as well as human rights matters

This section has 2 defined domains of decision-making.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Stephen Ausmus, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Pluralism, Internationalism, and Diversity policy, Non-Discrimination Policy

Human Rights Policy

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Wikimedia Human Rights Policy

Category:Beyond Wikimedia

Decisions pertaining to the matters that go beyond the Wikimedia movement, like joining as signatory on public letters or making commitments

This section has 2 defined domains of decision-making.

Beyond Wikiverse - NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Joining as signatory to public letters

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Cape Town Open Education Declaration

Public commitments

In your perspective, who should make decisions and resolutions in this domain in the future?

  • Global Council
  • Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Other

OPTIONAL: Regarding your response to the previous question, what is the rationale behind your expectation or preference?

Examples: Environmental Sustainability Commitments

Open comment section

This is a space for open comments. If you have any further comments, this is a space to share them. Thank you!

Survey results

Are there any results from the survey? --Tgr (talk) 20:51, 3 March 2024 (UTC)

Thank you!

Thank you for taking the time to participate in the survey! Your responses on meta will be recorded and accounted for in the Movement Charter Global Council conversations. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 12:48, 13 January 2024 (UTC)

Query regarding the Global Council input Survey on MS Telegram

Posted on Movement Strategy Telegram channel February 5, 15:16 UTC HI Kaarel, a few questions/concerns:

1. Has a "summary of the current survey results for the MCDC" been published somewhere? It would be useful for the community to also see what the results have been.

2. The survey questions were posted on January 13, with a requested deadline of January 25. With only a response window of 12 days for a very complex and involved consultation, that's not a lot of time. I have been on this point many times before, but ideally 3 weeks is the absolute minimum to get reasonable responses, with 6 weeks being ideal.

3. That survey is highly complex and involved. Whether it's the long list on the meta page, or a page-by-page Google Form, it's really hard for users to navigate. It may indeed be better to use a RACI matrix as was surfaced in the explanation on meta, that can at least keep the entire range of concerns in one view.

4. Is there an update for January 2024? It could have been useful to put a call out about the January 13 "Input Survey on Global Council" on to the page here: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Movement_Charter/Drafting_Committee/Updates#January_2024 In any case, it would be nice to see an update about the fact that an IRL meeting happened in Atlanta, GA in the US, even if the more detailed report is pending.

- Posted by Fuzheado (talk) on February 5, 2024

Response by the MCDC supporting staff

Posted on Movement Strategy Telegram channel February 7, 9:38 UTC

Thank you for posing the questions to ensure there is clarity regarding the proceedings on the Movement Charter drafting. The January update on meta will follow soon to provide further insights into the ongoing work.

1. There is not yet a public summary for the survey results, as the survey is still open. We do recognise the complexity of the survey and time that is needed to reflect on the answers. The report will be put together and published once we close the survey.

2. I consent that the timeline was not ideal. This was rather related to the design question on how to bring that complex topic together more easily in an asynchronous format. It was rather easy with the on the call polling, not so much with a survey that needs context.

I do recognise that the 12 days is insufficient, yet this was the timeline we were working with in regards of the in-person meeting. What I communicated, in my own perspective, is that the input will have most weight when gathered prior to the in-person discussions, so anyone with bandwidth was kindly asked to fill it prior to the start of the meeting. I pulled together an internal report for MCDC the last minute to inform the Global Council content conversations.

This being said, the final report will still have impact, as per current timeline the MCDC hopes to share the next iteration of early drafts with the Movement Charter Advisors for qualitative input next week, and there is a plan to incorporate the advisor feedback beginning of March, so there is another window for considering the survey report and input.

As a result, the survey can stay open until February 24, 2024, to provide a 6-week window as suggested, so we can pull together the report the start of week after for consideration of wider public and the MCDC in this drafting phase.

3. I do agree that using a responsibility assignment matrix for overall consideration of the landscape is a suitable framework for such conversations, however, in my perspective, that would increase the complexity of the survey and might lead to redundancies, as on different levels (especially "consulted" and "informed"), most of the movement actors would need to be highlighted. It is also difficult to design easy-access, easy-to-use RACI matrix questionnaires.

As a result, a design choice was made to focus on the "Accountable" layer of the responsibility assignment, because that seems to be the focus of the Global Council set-up, with execution responsibilities distributed based on the subsidiarity principle. By design, an open text field was added to each question, so people can optionally add qualitative input to lean overall survey, on these questions where they have additional points.

4. We can indeed add the survey link to the January updates section - that sounds like a good idea.

I hope these explanations are helpful. I am available for further specifications and feedback. --KVaidla (WMF) (talk) 09:45, 7 February 2024 (UTC)