Talk:Wikimedia Australia/Statement of Purpose

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Responsibilities vs Affiliated[edit]

The wording of this part to me is a concern;

The organisation shall take the responsibilities of a Local Chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (Florida, USA)....

I think that by saying taking responsibilities we are saying that where an issue arises The Foundation could be seen as able to over rule us or make changes that require us to do things thus removing our independence.

What I think it should say is;

The organisation shall be an affiliated Local Chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (Florida, USA)....

Outside of this I dont have any concerns. Gnangarra 08:37, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

While technically the responsibilities of a Chapter are not the responsibilities of the Foundation, I agree with the second wording to avoid any ambiguity. Technically, the only responsibility of a Chapter is to promote the goals of the Foundation, but the wording could be construed differently. Confusing Manifestation 11:47, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I too prefer Gnangarra's "affiliated" wording. -- All the best, Nickj 01:49, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I updated that. pfctdayelise 07:48, 2 May 2008 (UTC)


I notice that this line is ambiguous:

  • ... by encouraging the creation, collection and distribution of Free Cultural Works in a non-profit way

It could mean, for example, that we only encourage non-profit distribution. I assume, the intended meaning is that the encouragement itself is non-profit. But do we really need to squeeze "non-profit" into this sentence? (or at all? isn't it implicit?)

  • facilitating educational and social events that encourage contributions to, and use of, Free Cultural Works and Wikis.

This sounds like it's focused too heavily on a Wikimania-style event. We should include any type of promotion or education, not just "events". Also "creation" seems to leave out much of what Wikipedia editors do, like edit, develop, and discuss. "Contribute" is good, but also sounds it like it means "financially" if it's not clarified.

I've went to fix these issues, but ended up rewriting much of the whole thing. I haven't finished though, so I'll leave it at that for now. Pengo 15:35, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

To remove the financial "contributions" aspect, instead of "encourage contributions to, and use of, Free Cultural Works and Wikis" could maybe have "encourage use, sharing, and participation in the collaborative creation of Free Cultural Works via Wikis". Though then we're back to "creation" again, but hopefully the "collaborative" bit makes the point is that it's an ongoing process involving the input of numerous people, so that hopefully covers the "edit, develop, and discuss" part. -- All the best, Nickj 01:49, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Re 'non profit', I reworded it. I think the point is that our distribution etc of free content should be ultimately not-for-profit. (Small profit may be a nice side effect, but it is not the purpose of doing it.) That's my take.
On facilitating educational and social events that encourage contributions to, and use of, Free Cultural Works and Wikis, when I wrote this I was thinking of both Wikimania style events (which is far from "just" a social event), and training type of events, where we may do educational-type presentations about how to use a project, how it works, how to contribute, how to reference, how to do things 'the wiki way', etc etc etc.
Pengo said We should include any type of promotion or education, not just "events". -- isn't a training seminar an event? Or does event make it sound too much fun and not enough like hard work? :) Maybe a better noun could be used there, but educational *is* explicitly used... pfctdayelise 07:48, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Training seminars are good too, but I was thinking of more typical, boring promotion. Like, say, posters, postcards, calling people, and paid ads. I'm not saying these are things we should be doing hugely, but they should not be things we rule out. Maybe it should be a separate point, unrelated to events in particular. Pengo 10:41, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Other minor tweaks[edit]

Some other minor tweaks that could perhaps be made:

  1. I'm not sure about the implication that we have to or should operate online systems, and in so I would prefer something a bit more general here: "the operation and the funding of online systems for creation, collection and distribution of Free Cultural Works" --> "Promotion, funding, and assistance for online systems for the creation, collection and distribution of Free Cultural Works".
  2. Slightly awkward sentence, perhaps: "The main focus lies on the several Wikimedia projects." --> "The Wikimedia projects are the main focus of this".

I haven't changed the article, probably better to discuss here first. -- All the best, Nickj 01:49, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Your first suggestion makes the purpose statement too general. "promoting" and "assisting" could be read to indicate that any method is acceptable to achieve the purpose.
I've updated the sentence you mention in the second point. Does that help? John Vandenberg 23:53, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it does help - thank you! -- All the best, Nickj 05:40, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

My comments[edit]

Hello :-)

This generally sounds good to me, but I am no English speaker, so the wording and/or tone might actually benefit from someone outside re-reading it to see if they understand it (get one of your parents/sister or so to read it) because sometimes we are too "into" it to make things clear. There is one thing that I am not comfortable with, and that is the stress on the relationship with the Foundation, because it is precarious at best, wrong at worst.

Rather than attempting to cram what a chapter is in one line, I would suggest something along the following lines:


The organisation shall be an affiliated Local Chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (Florida, USA). The organisation's independence is not affected by this. The Wikimedia Foundation acts as the umbrella organization for all Wikimedia Local Chapters.


The organisation shall primarily but not exclusively promote and support, directly or indirectly, the projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Florida, USA [1]

My rationale for this is the following:

As a rule, it is always better to affirm things than to deny them in bylaws altogether. Unless the things are very very clear (such as, the chapter shall NOT sell carrots), it is better to make sure that the things that are the truth are pointed out. In this case, rather than give bad ideas to anyone by saying "we"re not responsible, which in the end, really is just a statement and has not legal value, it is better to say "the Foundation hosts the project" which shows that in the end, the Foundation is the one hosting the projects. It might be an idea to actually add something along the lines of "Wikimedia Australia shall not take any part in the editing of the Wikimedia projects" if you really want to rule out this "connection" to the project, ie, describing something that *you* actually have a grip on. In the original sentence, in my opinion, "affiliated" and "independance shall not be affected" are contradictory, so they simply open more of a liability than not saying these things at all. Not sure I am clear here, but don't hesitate to challenge. notafish }<';> 10:31, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

I believe the "affiliated" bit is important, as it notes we have been approved by the Foundation, especially given the recent Board restructure which has placed even greater focus on the role of official chapters. Daniel (talk) 12:00, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I am not sure I see the relation between board restructure and "affiliate". In any case, "affiliate" is definitely not the right word, as it implies a relationship that does not exist. The fact that the chapters will be selecting board members does not imply in any way that chapters are affiliates of the Foundation, or vice-versa. In our context, "affiliates" is a liability, as it stresses that WM AU could be under some kind of authority from the WMF, or vice versa, or that they have formal legal ties, which is not the case. Cheers notafish }<';> 14:38, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
While we may not have legal ties to WMF, our statement of purpose defines our morals, responsibilities and objectives. By saying we are affiliated, we willingly accept that WM-AU will be attempting to follow the lead of the WMF, wherever possible. I can see that there is room for improvement in how this is worded, but I dont want to see our statement of purpose water down our ties to the WMF.
As an example of the responsibilities of a chapter, the website run by the chapter would implicitly be run to be compliant with any of the WMF resolutions. Trademarks in general are an area where chapters have a responsibility, even if this isnt explicitly defined at present. John Vandenberg 00:09, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Watering down the ties to WMF in the Statement of Purpose is a safeguard not only for WMF but also for WM-AU (in fact, it is more a safeguard for WM-AU). Barcex 10:42, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Although I must say that "watering down" is not really what I am trying to do. I am trying to keep everyone out of harm's way. In short, any implication of hierarchy between the Foundation and the chapters may prove a liability. This is about the organisations, not the projects. You can infer your heart's content of connections with the Wikimedia Projects, I ask you to be careful with the wording concerning any kind of "affiliation" with the Wikimedia Foundation. As a matter of fact, I am putting a veto on the word "affiliate", if that makes it clearer :-). Again, my wording is definitely not the only one, or not the "right one", but it gives a direction. Actually, you might want to look at the CH bylaws, which also bring about strong ties with WMF, without being in any way ambiguous about any lind of relationship that does not exist. They state:
"The Association shares the objectives of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organisation based in Florida, USA. The Wikimedia Foundation coordinates activities along the lines of the Association's purpose within the international sector, and manages the name Wikimedia as well as the names of the various international Wikimedia projects. "
As for your example, the compliance of the chatper's website is clearly stated in the agreement that the chapter and the Foundation will be signing (re: visual guidelines) and as such, do not need to be in the bylaws. notafish }<';> 13:48, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Delphine, I just updated the sentence to the one you suggested, but then I noticed how much it overlaps with the first listed item "the operation and the funding of online systems for creation, collection and distribution of Free Cultural Works. The primary focus will be the Wikimedia projects, which are those listed on the official site or any other replacing it in the future." So, maybe that list item just needs to be tweaked and the previous line deleted completely? pfctdayelise 13:48, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Go ahead in the tweaking Brianna. Again, I am not an English speaker, and definitely not good at writing legalese English anyway :-). Tweak your heart's content, just don't put anything about affiliation ;-). If you feel sentences overlap, re-write them from scratch. Actually, I would say, instead of trying to add and substract, take the matrix that's proposed below and try and make your own SoP, taking into consideration the musts and the no-gos :-) notafish }<';> 19:23, 4 May 2008 (UTC)


  1. This is from the Argentinian bylaws, actually, their statement of purpose is wordy enough to please your administration and a pretty good one in my opinion :-) notafish }<';> 10:31, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

"Creating knowledge"[edit]

I don't like the idea of "creating knowledge". (as in " equality of opportunity to create and use knowledge") Knowledge is not a thing to be created. Knowledge is internal, at least by many/most definitions:

expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; (OED)

I think we'd be better borrowing from the US's SoP, which refers to "educational content": [1]

The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

Also "educational" is hardly mentioned in our SoP. Currently the SoP could be confused with an attempt to create a Free Content version of flickr or livejournal. Pengo 22:33, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. I've adjusted the first sentence. John Vandenberg 23:33, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Thinking about it some more, the first line is about equal opportunity to create new knowledge. The foundation of new knowledge is a firm grasp of existing (collective) knowledge. Putting the worlds collective knowledge onto a wiki ensures that people dont reinvent the wheel, and enables them to make new inventions and grapple with new concepts due to higher levels of access to existing knowledge than previously possible. I am not happy with the wording as it is, but my change didnt improve it. John Vandenberg 23:41, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Isn't knowledge, like, inherently educational? :)
Pengo, this is largely based on the German chapter's statement. The statements of the other chapters are very much in a similar vein too, actually. --pfctdayelise 13:16, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Do they use the term "creation of knowledge"? Can you please link? I'm guessing the Germany one isn't in English. Pengo 11:46, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
Hm, I think you are right, perhaps we embellished that. See Vereinssatzung/English#.C2.A7_2_Aims_and_duties. 13:29, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Checklist and Purpose Matrix[edit]

This is my checklist of what should be covered in the opening paragraph (or two), either explicitly or implicitly. I'm no wordsmith, so maybe I'll leave it to others to incorporate the items after discussing. Note, I don't think we should actually list all the Wikimedia projects, but looking at the list I don't think they're all simply "educational content", there's also news, media (photos etc), and collected free content (e.g. Wikisource + old PD images on Commons). Our purpose is the collective collaboration on creating all these (though in the case of collected content, we collaborate on creating the collection, rather than creating the content itself). But I think it's a stretch to lump it all under "educational content" (even if that's what I just insisted on before).

Anyway here's my checklist, of what I think should be included. (Much of it is already):


  1. We service Australia
  2. We want to see all possible free Australian content made available or created: educational, news, media, and public domain content (such as old books).
  3. We focus on all aspects of Australia: People, Culture, History, Natural environment, etc.
  4. We use and promote Wiki software to achieve our goals
  5. We use and promote the existing Wikimedia foundation projects
  6. Our focus on Australia is for practical reasons (we're the Australian chapter), not for nationalistic reasons (i.e. our purpose is not to promote Australia per se).
  7. We focus on both content ABOUT Australia, and we also encourage Australians to use (edit/whatever) free content about ANYTHING. We do not focus just on Australians editing content about Australia.

Other activities of the wikimedia foundation that WMA may be involved in too:

  1. Events (social and educational)
  2. Promotion
  3. Fundraising
  4. Mediawiki software development
  5. General administration (i guess we can leave this out)
  6. funding research, surveys, scholarships, public forums, related to WMA's goals

People and principles:

  1. We are a not-for-profit
  2. We want every Australian to have access to free resources for learning and teaching
  3. We want every Australian to be able to collaborate in the creation of these resources
  4. We are non-discriminatory, and serve all people living in Australia.
  5. We are sustainable: Meeting the needs of the present without depleting resources or harming ecosystems for future generations.

The Existing Wikimedia projects, which we will be involved in supporting and promoting:

  1. Educational content: Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikispecies, Wikiversity
  2. Media resources: Commons
  3. News: Wikinews
  4. Published/collected free-content: Wikisource, Wikiquote
  5. Software: MediaWiki
  6. Event: Wikimania

I've put the rest in the purpose matrix below. Pengo 02:13, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Pengo, just keep in mind, the statement of purposes is not supposed to enumerate or anticipate every single thing we might ever conceivably want to do. You are getting pretty detailed. While this is useful thinking, I don't think it all belongs in the statement of purposes. --pfctdayelise 13:21, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
I'd like to see the SoP be more general, which is why I've given a list of things it should generalise to cover. There's also nothing above that is more specific than the current SoP. E.g. the SoP currently has "facilitating educational and social events that encourage contributions to, and use of, Free Cultural Works and wikis." which is more specific than anything listed above. Also "For collection and distribution of Free Cultural Works, wikis will be predominantly, but not exclusively, the technology of choice." is also unnecessarily specific (just "collection and distribution").
The "Purpose Matrix" (below) is more specific and anticipates more, but it's also what's covered (mostly) in the opening paragraph. Again it's more of a checklist so that you can try to broaden to cover things, and isn't entirely serious. Also I'm still not sure what the purpose of Wikimedia Australia actually is, honestly. Sorry to drag this out, but I'm not happy with the SoP really. It seems very ad hoc, and lists a bunch of things, and leaves out a lot of other things, and leaves me confused as to what the purpose of WMA is. Pengo 15:32, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Purpose Matrix[edit]

Basically I'd like to overload this sentence, with all these ideas.

Wikimedia Australia's purpose is to (verb#1) (verb#2) [Australian] Free Content (adjective) (noun).

A. (verb#1)

  1. (blank) (directly, internally, Done by WMA)
  2. promote (we promote doing this)
  3. support equality of opportunity to
  4. support with resources
  5. support financially

B. (verb#2)

  1. access / study / view
  2. create
  3. collaboratively contribute to / modify
  4. distribute / redistribute / re-use / make use of
  5. collect (contribute to a repository/library, or make available as a resource)

C. (adjective) Type:

  1. Educational
  2. News
  3. Media (Photographs, Video, etc)
  4. Published (e.g. Wikisource)
  5. Mediawiki software

D. (noun) Format:

  1. Content (e.g. Wikipedia articles)
  2. Resources (collection, e.g. Commons and Wikisource. Here you're not collaborating in building content, but in building resources)
  3. Services (Do we provide any "services"?)


Wikimedia Australia's purpose is to (promote) (collaborative contributions to) Australian Free Content (news) (resources).

Or to flesh it out completely:

Wikimedia Australia's purpose is to promote, support equality of opportunity to, support with resources, and to directly: create, access, collaboratively contribute to, distribute and collect Australian Free-content educational, news, media, published content and Mediawiki software source code, content, resources and services.

There. A perfect introduction. (If you can make sense of it) Pengo 02:13, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

"Australian culture, history and natural environment"[edit]

(I think John wrote this) Don't you think Australian history and the Australian natural environment could be considered components of Australian culture? I would have thought so. --pfctdayelise 13:19, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

It was me. I don't think the natural environment is Australian culture, no. There are many Australian species and bioregions that play little role in Australian culture, and should be considered outside of their cultural context anyway.
I thought it was better to change it to "Australian culture, history and natural environment" than something dry and boring like "Australia-related topics" or obscure but technically correct like "Australian geography" (which would implicitly cover human geography, natural geography, etc.). I'm happy to see it change, but I think "Australian culture" is too narrow and anthropocentric. Pengo 11:41, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Sorry to drag this out... but[edit]

I think our SoP is a wasted opportunity to properly define WMA's actual purpose (which I'm still not clear on, honestly).

Much of this SoP is a copy-paste of the German one (no new news there). But looking at some of the items, they seem out of place. For example, this line is much more relevant to the German chapter, as they were making a CD to distribute. I don't think it's very relevant to WMA.

  • the distribution and support of distribution of Free Cultural Works by other means, e.g., in digital or printed form, with focus on the contents of the international Wikimedia projects.

Can we remove these lines? The whole focus on distribution just seems odd to me. In Australia we should be perhaps focusing more on access rather than distribution, and, if anything, making sure regional communities can contribute, rather than reviving a failed Wikipedia 1.0 style project.

And where's the idea of awarding scholarships coming from? Are we saying it's part of our purpose just because we're copy-pasting the German aims and duties? Has anyone even discussed the idea? I'm not against the idea, but I am against taking it on without discussing just because we've been asked for a longer SoP and we're too lazy to define what our actual purpose is.

Am I the only one who finds the SoP so problematic? Pengo 16:35, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

I've basically rewritten it. I hope this new version can make a new starting point. diff. Pengo 17:21, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Official Channel a purpose?[edit]

I sort of see the fact that chapters have a (rapidly) growing role as an indication that part of the purpose is to empower australian wikimedians by offering a focused contact point, and a clear line of 'official' communication to the WMF.

I'm not sure of this though - so obviously feel free to wiki edit, or remove the small para. I've just added - but I thought I should drop the rationale in here...

cheers folks, Privatemusings 06:10, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

My 2c worth[edit]

I think we should keep in mind that the purpose of the SoP is to get CAV to approve our incorporation. That is really all, although it should obviously not be written in such a way that prevents us from doing anything we might want to do in the future. I also think we should not be in in a hurry to define the purpose of Wikimedia Australia. That is likely to evolve with time as we get more members. It also seems likely that the general purpose of all chapters will change and evolve with time. CAV wants us to tell them how we will benefit the community and how we will benefit our members.

There is no need to say that we are non-profit as that is explicit in being incorporated. I was specifically told that when I took the rules and SoP purposes in to CAV.

done / removed. Pengo 00:01, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I like the way that Wikipedia is mentioned as "the most prominent example being the English Wikipedia", although when we looked at drafting the SoP way back, there was a feeling that we should not give a privileged position to one Wikimedia project. Does that wording do that, or is it OK? I like the use of footnotes to explain terms.

fair enough. explicit mention of Wikipedia removed Pengo 00:01, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

What will be the status of the "Statement of Values"? Is that intended to be part of the SoP we submit to CAV or is it separate?

I'd like to have a Statement of Values as part of our SoP, but it could be dropped just as well. It would probably need a bit more thought. Pengo 00:01, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I had not realised that this page existed, so I have been missing out. I will try to offer more advice but I'm not that great at writing this kind of legal stuff, although I have been forced to try at times. --Bduke 07:15, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

I think we should be looking at this as the guiding statement for WMA which gives an overview of what we do, particularly for potential members. I don't think we should see it as something we have to do for CAV - Nathan Carter (Talk) 21:49, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
Um.. stupid question.. but what does WMA do for members? Pengo 00:01, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Pengo, I have no problem with "the most prominent example being the English Wikipedia", and I am not sure there is consensus to remove it. There was consensus much earlier to remove a much more badly worded reference to wikipedia. On values I am inclined to thik we should leave them out and perhaps think about adding them to a preface to the rules later when we need to alter the rules for other reasons. I do not think they are part of purposes.

On the SoP as it stands, I think CAV might be happier if we added something about running events for members to help them achieve the general purposes, but I am not sure of the wording. I think they like stuff to be specific rather than general. --Bduke 07:57, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

list of projects[edit]

G'day - rather than chat about this on the mailing list - I thought this was probably a better spot to make a content related comment...

I've got no particular problem with the removal of the project names - but I'm not sure I'm totally agree with the rationale. My understanding is that the list is seen to be inappropriate because it can't be guaranteed to be accurate going forward, or that it may create a logistical problem for the chapter in keeping it current as projects come on board.

I'd like to hedge both concerns with the language 'these include' - and I think that my feeling is that the benefit of clearly identifying some current projects / websites connected to the WMF (and therefore the chapter) out weighs these concerns, given the hedge... especially because from what I can tell, CAV would like us to do so!

So I'd support the inclusion of the material diff.d above! cheers, Privatemusings 00:02, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

I think ChapCom will strongly, strongly discourage us from naming projects. That's the impression I've had so far. pfctdayelise 08:44, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
Yes, ChapCom will discourage it, yet it seems that CAV will appreciate it being there, as it will probably be the one thing that focuses them on what we are about. However, it is likely that CAV will only have heard of wikiepedia so I think the present wording is fine. --Bduke 12:07, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
Could we persuade a ChapComm person along to explain why they think it's a bad idea?, particularly in response to my points above - my feeling is that there's an important difference between attempting an exhaustive / definitive list, and offering some useful information under a 'these include' type banner.... I still gently prefer 'my' version with the project info.. :-) Privatemusings 23:18, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
(sent a quick email to ChapComm mentioning this, and inviting them here to comment, if they get the chance.. :-) ) - Privatemusings 23:30, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

There was a long discussion that touched on this point at Wikimedia Australia/Incorporation#Statement of purposes. It is pretty clear, at least to me, that ChapCom wants a little as possible in our legal documents that refers to what they do and hence might legally conflict with their legal documents. I do not think this is the right time to ask them to comment, particularly as I do not see a consensus wanting more Wikimedia Projects listed than what we have at present. We will ask ChapCom to comment after we are clear on the wording. --Bduke 03:33, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

'final' template / messagebox[edit]

I added this because it struck me that it might be important / relavent... thoughts most welcome. Privatemusings 03:45, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. John Vandenberg 04:24, 29 July 2008 (UTC)