Talk:Movement roles/Proposal

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It might be useful to add {{draft}} up top, to make that clearer, and also to explicitly invite participation.


There seem to be four goals:

1. Clarify roles, responsibilities, and principles
2. Prepare for scaling to include new communities ("future stakeholders"?)
3. Maintain a clear, coherent identity and mission (across the movement)
4. Identify and tackle emerging issues

The current proposed implementation discusses two things: clarifying roles (clearly addressing 1.) and developing a 'Charter' that is more detailed than our shared mission statement (addressing 1. and 3.).

  • How do we address 2 and engage future stakeholders?
  • How do we address 4, or perhaps who addresses 4?
  • Is a Charter the best or only way to address 3? How would such a thing gather a mandate?
    • A lot of weight is put on this as one deliverable -- are there others?
    • What other types of coherence are needed? [for instance: a charter would be a static document. how are dynamic messages and goals shared and coordinated?]
SJ · talk | translate

From the goals, it is to me not clear what exactly the goals are :) Wikimedia can refer to many things, and I think an important point here would be to make a differentiation between the content projects and the real life organization. The goals of this working group should, imho, not include any content project decisions but focus on real life organization. Effeietsanders 18:39, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I don't think the term "unaffiliated volunteer" is terribly appealing, whereas that is our most numerous and most productive group of stakeholders. Can we say "individual Wikimedians" and "project groups" (or SIGs) instead?

Individual Wikimedians (including editors, donors, and major reusers) with no chapter or WMF affiliation do most of the writing, editing, illustrating, translating, extension and other coding, and word-of-mouth publicity; provide most of the funding through personal donations, and help us reach a chunk of our total global audience. SJ · talk | translate

You are correct, it is not appealing. However, contrary to you, I think that they should not be part of this list in the first place. This is an extensive discussion we had in Gdansk (unfortunately there are no notes available of that), where we discussed if it would be realistic to take on the world and include everybody (and basically redo the whole strategy process) or that we would focus on the organizational level. I had the feeling that most people were feeling towards the second because that is where the problems currently come in mostly, that is where communication is most important, and where the conflicts have arisen in the past few years. That is also where the scalability on the organizational level comes in play.
I totally agree with you that all these content volunteers, but also the individual real life volunteers are terribly important for our movement. Nobody will deny that. However, it is here I think mainly a matter of what works best, and what gives practical and realistic results. There are more than enough problems to solve on the organizational level alone, where we know who we're dealing with, so I think it would be unwise to import even more problems to fix before we actually did that.
However, I would be a big fan of having a seperate committee taking on those individual volunteer issues. Then we can seriously discuss volunteer councils without running the risk deciding that for people instead of with them. Then we can talk about arbitration committees, translations, cross community issues etc. Then we can perhaps even talk about membership of the WMF or another way for individuals to affiliate themselves on an international level. Effeietsanders 21:30, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I could imagine limiting the scope of this group to the roles of existing formalized structures, such as the WMF and Chapters, or at least to 'governance principles', which point to some clearly-defined needs. Roles and relations with 'everyone else' could be explicitly left to a separate working group, particularly new and innovative group types and individual Wikimedians. But I do think individual Wikimedians should be listed where appropriate in these sorts of documents -- for instance, they are certainly [a] stakeholder in fundraising and outreach and realizing our strategic goals. If we restrict the focus for a first deliverable to something addressing governance issues, that may simplify the matter. SJ · talk | translate 05:22, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Overcoming language barriers[edit]

To address many of these issues, including particularly 2 and 4, we need a way to communicate the key parts of this discussion to people in every major Wikimedia language (and for 2, perhaps also in some others). How should we tackle the issue of mulilingual participation in this discussion, and in other discussions about Wikimedia's future? SJ · talk | translate 09:12, 30 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Once we have a draft charter, we should be make it available for translation into other languages
I mean that the people who should feel shared ownership of this discussion include those who won't be following closely an initial discussion in English. They would need access to this proposal to know there was something to engage. Once a draft charter is available, as I understand the timeline, we will be fairly far along the process. SJ · talk | translate

shared values, once more[edit]

well, as i said before berlin as well as in berlin: if we want to create a living and productive working global (mass) movement: "shared values" for all entities in the strong definition are counterproductive to reach that goal, because:

1) they are so abstract that you don't need them. especially not binding for _all_ entities (what ever that might be). it only make sense to define a very small core of pragmatical bottom lines for a small group of central entities (like: if you want to use the trade marks than x,y,z) or:

2) you will lose identification potential for people & groups we need and stability because the definition it too limited to integrate a socio-cultural heterogeneous group of stakeholders.

beside that point: if you say value (like by all textually open concepts)=> your understanding of it depends on your own backround and mother language and your meaning is most likely completely different from the understanding of your addressee. if you don't beliefe me or the social science results about (long time) working movements in the 20 century, maybe apphiah would do (2006). that is, of course, irrelevant to create a organization, run by the rules of business administration but for movements....

for the practical user: as an US citizen you don't need to share one value with an other US citizen or the US constitution (even worse: reach consensus with other citizens what values are essential for this constitution) to be a productive, propper working member (or entity) of this society. you only need to share a network of established measures and responsibilities. even more: a lot of the most intensive conflicts in a group (or movement) are disagreements about the correct interpretation of a shared value.

btw: i appreciate that we made a step forward from elephants with or without ears & trunks in the strategy discussion to entity responsibility and the quakers, regards --Jan eissfeldt 14:07, 30 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am afraid I totally lost you and don't understand what you are trying to say except that something is going wrong. I am going to try to guesstimate, but please correct me if I'm wrong.
I guess you are meaning that this work is not necessary because the results would not be helpful. I would like to underline that I think they could definitely be helpful, also if they are no direct contracts etc. Especially when somewhat vague, they can be used as a common understanding in discussions about those contracts and cooperations, and they can be used to get new chapters etc. up to speed on what is normal within our movement. When we are able to write down what we agree on regarding where to go and who does what, we are able to spend less time on discussing that in the long run, and spend that on the discussion how to reach those goals. Effeietsanders 21:12, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
well, actually the post refers exclusivly to common knowledge and well established arguments in social science about movements since the 1960s (beside the point with language, of course, that is the (international) dominant position in philosophy of language since ~wittgenstein and an other argument). transformed in a tool, used by businness administration:
binding shared values
only WMF, WMF committees, chapters all entities
binding statement of corporate governance only WMF, WMF committees, chapters green red
all entities red doomed
in opposite of a statement of shared values for a concern, google or so, it can hurt a movement extremly hard in the middle and long run to formulate something strong and binding. to be accurate: if you don't believe that your movement is send by god (or something like that), it never worked (even for very stable movements, in the past) and there is no argument why it should work just for an extremly fluctuating, primary online-based (non-personal) movement (wikimedia). to produce something for a franchising concern and call it for the movement for reasons of public relations will not help here (information asymmetry will lead to irritation).
i'm fully in favour of write a (very) concrete and binding statement of corporate governance and a vague statement of shared values for wmf, wmf committees and chapters (green) and the entire structure of this working group and proposal is well chosen for that (that's what i called small core of pragmatical bottom lines above). it would help the community to choose the right number for a call and improve our capability to build up even more usefull external relations. but there is one absolute role about open movements, capable (and willing) of integration of new helpfull but heterogeneous stakeholders (at the same time):
there is no way to talk about values in a strong (concrete) way without hurting your own capability of integration irreparable in the middle and long run
there are some things that can't be done in a movement this way (in opposite to groups and corporations) only a complete idiot would think otherwise (~03:30) ;), regards --Jan eissfeldt 12:36, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
we agree with need to focus on concrete roles and think the purpose of the work should be movement roles, which should include principles of governance, but not a broader definition of values Jhuggett 14:25, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Jan, while I agree with your point about focus, I would point out that our revision of the mission and vision statements a few years ago were an effort to refocus binding shared values across all entities, and it was not a doomed process; just a time-consuming one for even small changes. Not something to be undertaken lightly, but possible where necessary. SJ · talk | translate 16:46, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Jon: sounds good to me for now
@Sam: i used an other phrase first (dark red) but i doubted that it would make the specific aspect as clear as possible (or polemical enough to get through):
i know that it worked years ago but we are facing an entirely different environment now. wikimedia is no longer the popular underdog (an advantage because beeing a movement-member depends on self-identification with what you think this movement is). now it's a well established mayor player and has an even far more wider range of stakeholders.
practical example from one of our mayor markets: in 2008 Wikipedia won the quadriga, received by Jimmy in person, and was entirely popular in the public opinion, mayor press and so on in DACH (= Germany, Swiss, Austria). after that the public perception changed substantially. to put the mayor stories aside and stick with Jimmy as an concrete example at this point. his image changed from the informal leader of the entirely sympathic underdog to a figure of the - so called - "Mittelalter-Internet" (middle age internet, phrase used by Die Zeit (here)) and that's one of the more diplomatic stories. regular criticism of wikim/pedia has reached a new quality. this is of course one of our mature markets, wikipedia has become part of the daily life in DACH and that is far from representative for the global perspective but we are talking about a document for (at least) the next three years.
if you think the phrase was inappropriate, i have no problem to apologize for that but please keep in mind that what we are trying to do now is far from the changes years ago. however, according to Jon i was heard for now and that was all i intended at this point, regards --Jan eissfeldt 18:09, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What happens after August 2011?[edit]

I understand that the working group is only tasked to produce something it can report to the board. I wonder, though, what happens after the proposed charter has found the approval of the board? How will ratification take place after that by the other stakeholders? sebmol ? 12:04, 1 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I hope that there is some result before august, and that ratification is already been done before then. But besides that I agree it would be helpful to make this process part of this document. Some suggestions would include from my side to make sure at least all recognized and formal organization agree on it with 90% at least. Yes, this is a very tough thing to reach for, but that is what we agreed on in Berlin. Another suggestion would be to constantly keep chapters up to date and involved, so that there is no "sudden" ratification, but they agree on it all the time. Finally, the ratification could be formalized by a vote and signing. An idea has been to make this signing a real life activity during Wikimania. I am no big fan of these ceremonies, but if more people like that, we should definitely make such a thing. It would at least help us remember the deadline. Effeietsanders 21:16, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We plan to give the chapters enough time to give feedback on the draft documents the workgroup will come up with. The best time for this will probably be after the 2011 Chapters Meeting in Berlin, giving the chapters enough time to think about it and then give the workgroup enough time to incorporate that feedback before Haifa. In Haifa the final stuff will be presented and then - after Haifa - formally ratified by all existing Wikimedia entities. -- Arne (akl) 14:37, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hmm, this sounds much less inclusive than when you explained it in Berlin earlier this year. Chapters are allowed to give feedback, think about it etc - I think it would be better to involve chapters and working groups, to actively participate them in the process, and include that in the timeline. Don't let them wait for the draft, but right from the beginning. The working group was (is?) supposed to play a moderating role, involve others - basically a networking function. It sounds now very much like you suggest the group will do all the work and write the thing, and allow others to give feedback after that... But please correct me if I misunderstood you. Effeietsanders 15:52, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, I probably didn't make myself clear. I'm recalling many events where even presidents of chapters weren't able to talk on behalf of their chapter and said they needed to get back to their boards (some even to their members). What I wrote above was meant for this kind of time consuming but necessary involvement. We will add something to the timeline, to make it clear that we want active involvement from all stakeholders from the very beginning. -- Arne (akl) 16:27, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This sounds like a huge undertaking requiring considerable more effort by all entities involved than I had previously anticipated. I'm especially unsure about how to deal with dissent and competing interests. If, for the sake of argument, the feedback from Chapters after Berlin is conflicting, how do you reconcile those differences? In the end, the most likely outcome of this process seems to be something very broad and very vague that can be agreed upon by everyone, but that also has no significant impact after it's been established. sebmol ? 09:59, 12 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Method[edit]

Just have a quick look of it, but it seems i can't find something about the methods of how it will go. Should it be added? Like showing how the data will be collected e.g. random sampling, survey, or how can the stakeholders can participate in. Morgand536 10:42, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

too many deliverables?[edit]

I would like to put the question up on whether perhaps too many topics made it to the deliverables. If we want this outcome to be very broadly accepted, and to be able to survive the time, then we should try to limit ourselves. Specifically, I am thinking about topics like:

  • minimum standards for legitimacy or “representativeness”: membership, membership fees, time commitments, election of board and officers, etc
    I am not sure all these topics need a common ground.
good point Jhuggett 14:48, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Define scope of activities for each entity
    specifically: the optional part. Please try to limit yourself here, and not make the list extensive. Some suggestions are nice, but belong in guides, help pages etc. Not in outcomes like this that are supposed to be sustainable. The minimum/maximum might be helpful, but should be as limited as possible.
we hope that by keeping just to "minimum" and "maximum" we can keep it limited and not extensive Jhuggett 14:48, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • relations with volunteers otherwise unaffiliated within the Wikimedia movement
    I dont think we should even try to identify this because it is too vague and too easily changing in time.

Effeietsanders 21:08, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I tend to agree with Lodewijk here. The main deliverable, as I see it, is the charter. What the charter actually encompasses (at least in the finest details) should not be put in the deliverables, but should be somehow come out of the process. That we keep broad strokes as to what we want to see addressed is good, but swe shouldn't be getting into too much details at this stage. notafish }<';> 12:19, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
good point. we'll move the details to an appendix of options to be decided as part of the process Jhuggett 15:19, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

who is the owner of the process[edit]

This currently reads:

The project will reflect the board affirmation of “the importance of a strong, decentralized movement
structure and its own responsibility to lead organizational development of the international Wikimedia
* The process will be transparent, incorporating the input of any and all interested parties.
* A workgroup will make sure that steady progress is being made towards the determined goals. 
This workgroup is responsible for making a recommendation, reflecting input, and presenting a 
“neutral” view when inputs and perspectives conflict.
* The Wikimedia Foundation Board will consider the recommendations of the workgroup in the context of all
 input before deciding the new charter for the Wikimedia movement worldwide.

I am not sure this is the best wording. It sounds here like it is a WMF working group, and that others are welcomed to give their opinion too. Of course this is a cross-organizational process, and it is not "the WMF board" deciding on this chapter "for the Wikimedia movement worldwide". I dont doubt this is not intended to come across like this, but a rewording would be welcome here. Replacing "the wikimedia foundation board" to "all organizational parties of interest" for example, or "all chapters and the WMF boards". Also the first sentence could be replaced by something less coming from the WMF.

I think it is very important that every stakeholder feels ownership over this process, and that nobody gets the feeling that this is a WMF thing. This is already something emphasized by the whole existance of this document of course (just read the very first sentence "The following is a draft for a formal proposal to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, concerning the Movement Roles process." - what now, a formal proposal to the WMF BoT? Shouldnt that be to all involved parties just as well?) Effeietsanders 21:23, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

While I agree that the phrasing could be more inclusive, I understand that this process is being kicked off by the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation. As such, the first sentence does not bother me all that much, but I agree with Lodewijk that it might be interesting to actually try and make this more inclusive from the start. If all parties involved are to give their consent in the end, it is important that the process not e defined as a sole WMF thing to start with. notafish }<';> 12:26, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In this regard, phrasings such as (and yes, i am nitpicking) "Chapters and other entities" (in Rights of chapters and other entities to represent and initiate partnerships on behalf of Wikimedia in their countries) should be replaced by "Wikimedia organisations and other Wikimedia entities", or something to that avail. It is important to try and keep everyone on the same level to start with. notafish }<';> 12:33, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

minor questions[edit]

Just some minor topics:

  • What is RAPID? Please, dont use acronyms without linking. It seems in any case (quick look only though) enwp doesnt know it. Effeietsanders 21:37, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I found it here: notafish }<';> 12:29, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for finding it. Would it make sense to at the very least link to that, but even better summarize it or not use such abbreviations at all? :) Effeietsanders 12:52, 4 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • How do you define "stakeholder" exactly in this process? People who feel the effects, people who have influence, people who should have a say, people who have a veto? Effeietsanders 21:37, 2 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
we would say that each stakeholder has a voice but not necessarily a veto Jhuggett 15:45, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Including other groups, topic-focused groups[edit]

Even when we are focusing on chapter-foundation relations, we should get input from unincorporated groups, such as the Brasilian Unchapter, the proposed Wikimedia Asia and Latin America groups, &c.

I'd also be interested to hear from large on-wiki groups and projects -- both those focused on content development and those focused on community organization and social initiatives. A list of (wiki)projects with 100+ members might be worth compiling. It's worth noting that these projects are somewhat invisible today, while our global workflow encourages people to think about forming a Kenya Chapter before there are 100 active editors from Kenya.

If we had a crisp sense of "people devoted to development within a topic" the way our Chapter concept has a sense of "people devoted to development within a country", we might develop ways to seek out and recogtnize wikiprojects just as clearly and actively. SJ · talk | translate 16:43, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

3 October revisions[edit]

The working group met on 3 October and had a extensive session in which we worked to incorporate the discussion here and in various e-mail discussions. We tried to address as much as we could based on our impression of consensus, but also invite continued discussion. The proposal is expected to be delivered to the WMF Board early this week and presented at its meeting on Saturday. Austin 18:00, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I took a stab at overhauling the narrative, to make it less negative and focused on collaboration and coherence - I hope it flows together a bit better now. I pulled out some footnotes in the background, introduced the page, and refactored the sections into three main areas (Purpose, Operating Principles and Key Issues). Please take a look. SJ · talk | translate 18:47, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I reverted your edits for now - at least until one of the workgroup members participating in our today's meeting had a closer look at them (sorry you couldn't make it). I think it's just fair that the non-members do get a chance to review the outcome of today's meeting before we're starting the next iteration. -- Arne (akl) 20:57, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Jon and I went through your edits and incorporated most of them [1] -- Arne (akl) 21:58, 4 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggested updates to Operating Principles[edit]

Steering committee explanation[edit]

Can we add a few lines explaining the current steering committee formation, and how it might change?

  • In editing the background I added "the workgroup was expanded to include Chapters members in August" to clarify this was not a public call for nominations -- better wording would be welcome. (It's only partly accurate as stated; there was at least one non-Chapters member from the Internal group nominated. But for the most part Internal is still only representative of Chapters board members.)
  • I suggest adding an example to the bottom of the steering committee list:
    The Steering Committee may adjust its membership as needed. For instance, the current committee was drawn from a call for nominations on internal-l, which is representative of Chapter boards. As this work expands from Foundation-Chapter relations to more general movement roles questions, others may be asked to join as well.

SJ · talk | translate 18:47, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Make Operating Principles less WMF-centric[edit]

Currently the last two principles read:

3. The Wikimedia Foundation Board will consider the recommendations of the workgroup before endorsing the new charter.

4. The Wikimedia Foundation Board will ask the Wikimedia movement worldwide to support and agree on the new charter.

I would change this to something like this:

3. Recommendations will be presented to the Wikimedia Foundation Board, the Chapters, and other stakeholders for review and consideration.

4. An endorsement process will be suggested for the proposed charter.

If the above changes, the last item in the timeline should change as well:

  • Board announces its endorsement to all attending Wikimania and any ratification plan

I would find a statement of support by the Chapters more compelling. That would still not be representative of the entire movement, but closer to it than a statement by the Foundation. (Any sufficiently motivated group of contributors can imagine forming or joining a Chapter to further their work; most participants can't imagine becoming participants in the Foundation in the same sense.)

The success of this effort will depend on acceptance and endorsement by all parts of our movement, which will require an endorsement process that empowers each stakeholder group to be heard. SJ · talk | translate 18:47, 3 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Small specific suggestions[edit]

Best principles and incremental changes[edit]

  • Present goals in terms of fundamental best principles, not just as incremental changes from current structures and systems

Both are important to a recommendation -- what the goal is, and how to get there. How about changing "not just as" to "as well as"?

Questioning premises[edit]

From the draft:

While this expansion can bring the sum of human knowledge to many more people, it could increase organizational complexity and confusion among all of the entities within the Wikimedia movement. Therefore, Wikimedia as a whole needs to develop clarity around roles and responsibilities within the network of Wikimedia entities now and in the future.

I wonder if that is really the case. Or rather, what are the downsides if such clarity is not achieved and what is given up when clarity is created (through this or other processes) and exists?

There is a need for a shared understanding of where Wikimedia is as an organization today

Same question here: is this really the case? Is Wikimedia even "an organization"? Is it even desirable to consider the whole Wikimedia universe as one organization? sebmol ? 10:03, 12 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the first half: while I was glossing over that particular section of the draft, I was inclined to believe that if we were to consider the growth of the Wikimedia movement as a whole, its growth was largely uncontrolled despite the presence of formal structures to help regulate and check the growth of the movement. At least from my vantage point, we have to consider that the people driving the Wikimedia movement come not only from diverse background, but likewise come from a myriad of organizational structures which compose the Wikimedia "universe": we have chapters, user groups, individual users, organizations, the Foundation, donors, academics, institutions, governments and the like. I think it ought to be emphasized that given the growth of the movement, there needs to be some sort of clear-cut delineation of exactly which roles go where, which stakeholders are suited in these positions, and particularly where each element of the wiki-verse is best suited to play a role which is conducive to the growth of the movement as a whole. Clarity in this case should be able to open up more opportunities by making it clear each stakeholder's area of expertise, while not presupposing that they cannot be of benefit elsewhere.
On the second half: I'm not sure if it is a fault in semantics coming from the draft, but I am inclined to believe what others may believe: that Wikimedia is, by and large, a monolithic movement. However, perhaps there should be an opportunity to emphasize in that particular section the fact that while Wikimedia may be seen as an organization, in fact it really isn't: the decentralized nature of the movement is precisely what led Wikimedia to grow in the first place, and that the agenda of a Wikimedia charter is to merely add order to this decentralized nature so that the constituent parts may work efficiently. Maybe a revision of that particular portion can be in order, but I'd like to see how others respond. --Sky Harbor (talk) 18:15, 19 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Deliverable draft proposal[edit]

I just noticed that my presentation for Wikipedia's 10th anniversary unconference in San Francisco meets the requirements specified in the Deliverable section. Please make use of it as you see fit. I hereby irrevocably release its text to the public domain. James Salsman 21:18, 4 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]