Talk:Wikimedia Chapters Association/Elections/2013 Chair

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Initial[edit]

To make this not looking so empty here and not giving the impression nobody cares about this: I do care about it and am happy that somebody (well, the chair in his responsibility) took initiative and I am happy with the draft. --Manuel Schneider(bla) (+/-) 13:07, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

It's fine for me too. Even if I don't understand "In the event of a tie, a re-vote may be run at the discretion of the current Chair"... what is the alternative? a diarchy? :-) - Laurentius (talk) 19:35, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
No, we are not seeking a pair of queens. -- (talk) 21:29, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
As Manuel, I'm quite happy with the draft and the timing, I also would like to thanks for his clear statement. --PierreSelim (talk) 15:00, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Some offtopic comments were removed from here.

Possible questions for candidates to be added to the election page[edit]

Thank you to Kirill for being the first to nominate themselves. :-)

Kirill, I think that there should be a question raised under the nomination with regard to whether you intend to step down from the English Wikipedia Arbcom before taking up the role of Chair, to avoid any general perceived conflict of loyalties or interest. In addition, it would be a good idea if you could declare that you recused yourself from all Arbcom's in-camera discussions with regard to my eventual ban from the English Wikipedia after I was elected WCAC Chair, as I believe you did, and to what extent you were involved in supporting any closed discussions about my Arbcom case at any point.

A second area that might be added as a question, or could just be addressed by extending your nomination statement a little, would be what professional background and experience you bring to the role of Chair? I think this can be phrased as a good general question for candidates.

A bit of open discussion here might be useful, which would encourage other questions (though we are now quite limited for time), before I rephrase any of these and raise in the nomination section. The Arbcom question/circumstance is unlikely to apply to any other nomination, but I would expect to table questions for all nominated candidates to respond against. Thanks -- (talk) 16:28, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

I recused myself from the entirety of the arbitration case involving you—including the proceedings that took place both before and after you were elected Chair—as well as from all subsequent discussions within the Committee that involved you or the case in question.
As far as the general issue of my membership in the Arbitration Committee is concerned, I don't see any fundamental conflict between my participation there and any role I might have in the chapter community; the Committee concerns itself exclusively with editorial disputes on the English Wikipedia (which most of the people involved in the WCA edit rarely, if at all), and has no bearing on external matters. While I would, of course, continue to recuse myself from any matter that involved an active WCA participant, I've only encountered a handful of such situations in my seven years on the Committee; recusal from individual cases seems, to me, an adequate mechanism for addressing any perceived conflict of interest in this regard. Having said that, I will certainly consider any arguments to the contrary that may be raised in the course of the discussion here.
To address my professional background, I have significant experience in coordinating international meetings and discussions—I regularly work with programs that involve several national or international space agencies—as well as working as a project manager on large, multi-agency programs; both of these are potentially quite relevant to the role of the Chair, although the latter may be more or less applicable depending on how involved the Chair might be in the implementation of specific WCA initiatives.
If you have any additional questions, or would like further clarification on any of my answers, I'd be happy to address them. Kirill Lokshin [talk] 17:44, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Timing and minor process notes[edit]

Thank you to both Kirill and Markus for putting their names forward. There are a few hours left for more :-) I am pleased to see this as a contested election. If any nominee wishes to change their statement, they should do so today before midnight. After the nominations close today, any corrections or clarifications should be on this page instead.

As nominations have been added quite late, I no longer plan to table questions as the Chair before the deadline of midnight UTC today. Kirill and Markus have picked up the point about relevant professional background, and as per my statement, I believe it would be wise if all nominated parties declare any past blocks or bans on any Wikimedia project (or their absence) - though this would be fine to mention on this talk page rather than making a big issue of it in the Nominations section of the page.

It is good governance practice to declare any potential interests or perceived conflict of loyalties in the nominations, though again, addressing this on this talk page would be sufficient, if during the first few days of the voting period. If any candidate is unsure if an interest needs a public declaration (particularly for any private issue or commercial interest), they should approach me so that we can reach an agreement on if it is relevant and how to proceed in the best interests of the WCA.

Thanks -- (talk) 16:11, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Deputy Chair elections?[edit]

Dear All,

Firstly, kudos for Kirill and Markus for coming up. We all know this in fact humble-but-demanding position will require a lot of time, effort and skills so it is not easy to decide to candidate. :)

Secondly, thank you Fae for all your work and "last words" of the stepping-down chairman. It is a good practice indeed and I am happy to see it.

However, now I see a blind spot: we have not explicitly declared if a post of the deputy chair is opened or not. Some people will certainly see the chair and deputy-chair as a tandem, some will see them as seperate positions with different agendas - and I think it should be clarified. Moreover, if we decide to choose a deputy-chair it should be made clear when and how one submits their candidacy.

Having said that, good luck to you all!
aegis maelstrom δ 17:27, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Moreover, we should define how long is the term of chair and deputy chair. In my view, it should usually coincide with the term of the council: i.e., each two years the member chapters appoint their representative and after that the council elect a chair and a deputy chair. But all of this is currently undefined (it's not clearly written in the charter, and the council never officially talked about this). - Laurentius (talk) 17:47, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
The Deputy Chair position was discussed at the coordination meeting, see the notes here. If we need to work this out, I suggest this becomes part of the Council meeting in Milan, possibly as part of putting basic standing orders in place so that the action teams we started can be supported longer term. There are several different ways of using a position of Deputy Chair, for the moment I recommend we avoid over-defining/proceduralizing that role, or the role of Chair. As I have mentioned before, my taste in governance is to keep delegated powers to a minimum, but there will be many views of where best to draw the line. Considering the extended criticism against us for having an internal focus, I would stay pragmatic and only define sufficient to ensure we deliver external outcomes; you may find there is little appetite for another election when no external parties are applying pressure for it.
@Laurentius The Chair and Deputy Chair can be changed at any time by a vote of the Council. I agree that planning regular elections would be sensible, and avoid any appearance of a lack of openness for newcomers. -- (talk) 17:58, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for a precise link. Yes, I remember this conclusion, however the matter remained somewhat not closed in 100% and I am quite sure it is not that obvious for many observers and council members. :)
I think Milan will be an important meeting for shaping WCA further, maybe changing the charter even in this point (like introducing an idea of an official executive board - which would be a mere recognition of a fact that WCA does not have a staff i.e. "the secretariat", however it pursues tangible goals, performing actual actions using time and effort of actual people.
It could be healthy to spread a recognition of successes and failures among all the people due like the action team members. :) Certainly, WCA will not succeed as a one man show - we don't want the man to die from exhaustion! :) I think it is clear for us that all the active council members working in the action teams will serve as workhorses (at least for some time); now we may need to communicate it somehow. aegis maelstrom δ 18:14, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Aegis. We should certainly avoid burdening a single person, and thus would support to have another man in the lead to share et all. -- ♪Karthik♫ ♪Nadar♫ 12:10, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Hi Karthik, the WCAC elected Ziko as Deputy Chair during the first meeting. This question is more about whether to force an election for Deputy Chair now or not. One key difference between my appointment and Ziko's was that the Deputy Chair position was contested, whereas I was the only person at that time to stand for Chair. This current election is much healthier in my view, with 3 keen and capable candidates to choose from. :-) Cheers -- (talk) 18:23, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Yo, I got it know. I believe, I'm not in a good position as of now to comment or understand somethings, unless I attend the WCAC meeting at Milan and I go through archives all the meetings held so far. Understanding certain things, it will be better not to force everything now, when we say that we are still in our juvenile. Lets vote and appoint Chair at the first preference. -- ♪Karthik♫ ♪Nadar♫ 19:14, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

Questions for the candidates[edit]

  • Would it be appropriate to ask general questions of the candidates on this discussion page?--Pharos (talk) 17:49, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
    Yes, I encourage it in order to help folks reach a wise decision on their voting. To be fair, questions would be best general enough to apply to all candidates, unless some clarification is worth making for the existing nomination statements. I would also encourage anyone, including non-council members, with questions, to ask them on this page early rather than within a day or two of the closing date (Sunday 17th March), again we want to be fair on all candidates to have time to respond. Cheers -- (talk) 18:17, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Non-English support This election is not limited to English. If candidates wish to reply in their first language, or questioners wish to raise questions in languages other than English, this will be welcome and should not be counted against any nomination. Volunteers will be encouraged to step forward to help with an English version of any text as our default lingua franca. Reading skill in English is useful for the Chairperson, but native level English writing skill has never been a requirement of the position.
In consideration of this, I request that questions are not raised after Friday 15th March so that replies can properly be considered and not rushed. Thanks -- (talk) 14:18, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Question: Next steps for incorporation?[edit]

Let's start with questions? Considering that the CA desperately needs getting something done and that decisions have already been taken, what's your opinion on the next steps for incorporation? --Nemo 23:46, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

Given our current circumstances, I think that continuing with our previous plan for incorporation would be a mistake. Now that the hiring of the Secretary-General has been (indefinitely) postponed, we are no longer forced to incorporate immediately; incorporation was needed primarily to handle the legal and financial transactions related to hiring staff, and the remainder of our currently-planed activities can be carried out by an un-incorporated group just as well as they could be by an incorporated one. On the other hand, proceeding with immediate incorporation would have several major drawbacks:
  • Incorporating despite the WMF's refusal to recognize the Chapters Association will further strain our relationship with the WMF; aside from the obvious drawbacks, this could potentially force individual chapters—particularly those which are entirely reliant on the WMF for funding—to choose sides between the WMF and WCA, which would be an undesirable outcome.
  • Several of our largest (and best-funded) chapters have recently voiced concerns regarding the direction of the WCA, and there is now a significant risk that those chapters might withdraw from the association in the coming months if we do not begin to deliver concrete results. Incorporating without being confident of these chapters' support could potentially result in a scenario where we have an incorporated body with no funding and no local support, which would again be undesirable.
  • Proceeding with incorporation requires that we transform our existing charter into a legally-valid set of bylaws. In practice, this will almost certainly require an extended procedural debate; given that we have been consistently criticized for focusing too much on procedure at the expense of actual activities, embarking on another procedural shift will not endear us to anyone.
My opinion is that it would be better for us spend the next 3–6 months as an unincorporated body, with minimal effort spent on procedure and a strong focus on successfully implementing specific high-value programs that can demonstrate to the chapters and the WMF that the WCA can deliver concrete benefits to the movement. In the longer term, I would suggest that we need to meet two prerequisites before we can successfully incorporate:
  1. Normalize our relationship with the WMF, and obtain their consent to use the Wikimedia trademarks as an incorporated entity.
  2. Secure long-term commitments of support from chapters that have the resources to provide regular funding for WCA operations.
Once we've achieved these prerequisites—which will require, and come as a result of, demonstrating the WCA's value to the Wikimedia movement—we can proceed with transitioning to an incorporated, financially independent organization. Until then, however, we need to focus on concrete, directly beneficial activities rather than more overhead work. Kirill Lokshin [talk] 03:41, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your answer. Not my duty to comment, but I don't understand your first point. The WMF board letter didn't object to incorporation, did it? It would be enough to strip the name "Wikimedia" and the CA could incorporate without any act of hostility towards the WMF. --Nemo 19:34, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
You're correct that the WMF has not explicitly told us not to incorporate (and, provided that we don't use the Wikimedia name, they can't stop us from doing so). However, the underlying message of the WMF's letter was that they don't view the WCA as being ready to assume an official role within the movement; in addition, the subsequent statements from individual board members specifically called out our focus on incorporation rather than programs as one of the reasons for their position. This leads me to believe that proceeding with immediate incorporation (under whatever name) will be seen as ignoring the WMF's opinion, and will therefore further strain our relationship. Kirill Lokshin [talk] 21:08, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
First of all, the outcome of the London discussion implies a deprioritization of the incorporation process, in view of the general principle "work less on the structure and more on tangible tasks". That does not mean that we won't incorporate, but it is not scheduled as the first step of the WCA anymore. Not incorporating at all would be very limiting, but for a while we can rely on the member chapters to support (logistically or financially) the WCA activities.
In my opinion, the next steps are (roughly in this order, but some of them may be carried out in parallel or in a different order):
  1. Finalize the bylaws; we currently have a good draft, but some more work is needed.
  2. Understand what is the most appropriate form of recognition as a Wikimedia entity (a thematic organization? something different from the four affiliation models, and a specific agreement? or what else?).
  3. Have the AffCom or someone at WMF review the bylaws (and amend them if needed).
  4. Decide what will be the funding scheme for the WCA (at least for the beginning).
  5. Register the association.
The timing depends on what will be the first activities of the WCA (i.e., when we will need it). I expect it to be anything from 3 months to 2 years.
In any case, we will reach a point in which incorporating is simpler than not incorporating. If we will delay the incorporation anymore, that will be a mistake. - Laurentius (talk) 17:00, 9 March 2013 (UTC)


I agree the WCA needs to get something done and show it is a useful entity within the Wikimedia universe. In order to do so, I think we should focus on our tasks, reach out to chapters and other entities, and offer help and experience. The action plan set out in London will be a path to follow. In the its first stage (at least), we can do this without incorporating.
For now, I don't think incorporation will be an important issue. There are several reasons for this.
  • First of all, at the moment there's no real need for incorporation. The WCA does not have a budget and will not hire staff in the forseeable future. Our main tasks will be Wikimedia internal, so there's no need to have an incorporated organisation to relate to the outside world.
  • Second, one of the main criticisms was that the WCA has not proven to be relevant yet. So instead of focussing on structures and organisation, I believe we should focus on making things happen for the Chapters. If then comes the need for an incorporated organisation, we can reconsider this.
  • Third, it's not recommendable to incorporate against the explicit recommendation of the Board of Trustees. If we need to hire or spend money, we can do so with the help of existing entities, foremost the chapters.
In the long run, incorporation will be a means to further the cause of the WCA. I hope that once we have proven the usefulness of the WCA, the foundation and other entities will reconsider their position towards the WCA. However, this will not be an explicit focus of our work. See it more as a welcome by-product. When time comes, we will tackle the details. No need to focus on that now. --Mglaser (talk) 23:26, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

Question: Relationship with the WMF[edit]

Many thanks to all 3 candidates for putting yourselves forward. As a board member of a chapter in the WCA, I am very glad to see there are a number of strong candidates who'd be prepared to take this organisation forward in spite of the challenges. So thank you. On to my actual question:

Reading some of the Foundation's comments around their Board resolution around the WCA, I got the impression that part of the problem was that the Foundation felt the prospective relationship between WMF and WCA was unclear. So I'd like to ask two questions. First - what do you think the relationship between WCA and WMF should be? Second - what role do you think the Chair of the WCA has in shaping and developing that? Chris Keating (The Land) (talk) 10:34, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

In my opinion, the WCA and the WMF should view one another as mutually-supportive strategic partners, rather than as adversaries or competitors. Each organization can provide significant benefits to the other through long-term collaboration:
  • The WCA is in a natural position to support the WMF's strategic goal of increasing global reach by helping to grow and improve chapters around the world, providing the Wikimedia movement with greater outreach capabilities at the local, regional, and national levels; these regional efforts complement the WMF's focus on global outreach, and can support local activities more easily and effectively than the WMF's centralized outreach programs. The WCA also provides a single, central forum through which the WMF can communicate its strategic priorities to the chapter community, allowing the WMF to effectively solicit the support and participation of the chapters in WMF programs and initiatives without having to reach out to each chapter individually.
  • Similarly, the support of the WMF remains critical to the current and future success of the chapters, and consequently their ability to meaningfully participate in the shared collaborative efforts of the WCA. The WMF's role goes beyond its obvious financial and logistical support—although that support is absolutely crucial to the success of the WCA, given most chapters' lack of experience with raising funds from sources outside the Wikimedia universe—and encompasses its ability to use its global brand and network of contacts to open doors for individual chapters as well as the WCA as a collective entity.
Maintaining a healthy relationship between the WCA and the WMF is certainly not the exclusive province of the Chair—everyone who participates in the WCA, in whatever capacity, has the ability to help heal the current rift between the organizations. Having said that, the Chair is a position that could potentially be perceived as being the face of the WCA (particularly as far as the WMF is concerned); the Chair therefore has a special responsibility to reach out to the WMF at all levels (including the Board of Trustees, the various committees, and other key staff and volunteers), to determine and assuage any concerns the WMF might have regarding the plans and activities of the WCA, and generally to build bridges between the two organizations. Kirill Lokshin [talk] 13:41, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
The WMF and the WCA (like all chapters and affiliates) share the same vision - the vision of the Wikimedia movement (making the world's knowledge available to everyone via free licenses and collaborative projects). This is the basis of their relationship.
More specifically, let's roughly divide the WCA's activities into three areas: towards the chapters (e.g. peer review and support), towards the outside (e.g. development of common projects), and towards the WMF (e.g. facilitating the WMF-chapters communication). The relationship between WCA and WMF with regard to the first two areas is not so different than in the case of chapters. The most relevant area is the third one.
The point is that it's a burden to talk with 40 different entities. The WCA is meant to help the WMF taking care of that, and making it possible for the Foundation to talk with one single entity which sums up the positions of (most) chapters. This is useful for both the WMF and for chapters:
  • from the WMF's point of view, the difficulty is in reaching out to everyone and summing up the different positions;
  • from the chapters' point of view, the difficulty is in constantly keeping informed on the global situation and making their voice heard. This true in particular for smaller chapters, which have fewer people and whose voice is more difficult to reach out.
Note that the communication is bidirectional (it's not from WMF to chapters or from chapters to WMF, but between them - and among the chapters, too). And, of course, nobody intend to claim the monopoly of WMF-chapters communications!
There is also something to say about the first area (towards the chapters). One of the intended aims of the WCA is to support the creation, growth and development of chapters. The Wikimedia Foundation is sometimes expected to do part of this work, but it doesn't and it doesn't want to (except for the Affiliation Committee, which does a great job, but only at a particular stage of chapters' creation). Instead, this may be done effectively by a network of chapters, as in the case of Iberocoop, which is (as far as I know) the most successful attempt in this field.
It appears some people see a contrast between WMF and WCA; there isn't at all. Whatever the relationship between WMF and WCA will be, it will be based on the pursuit of their common goal.
As for shaping and developing this relationship, it's mainly a task for the council and the WCA as a whole. However, even if the chair and the deputy chair are not meant to have any special role in that, they will have one (and they have already), simply because they are the most clearly identificable people in the WCA. But not much more than that. - Laurentius (talk) 17:25, 9 March 2013 (UTC)


Basically, the WCA's relation to WMF should reflect and articulate the chapters' (and other organisations') relation to the Foundation. Despite some quarrels here and there, I assume this is a friendly partnership. I see the WCA as a facilitator of communication here, it should try to make each party understand better the needs and worries of each other.
  • So, from the Foundation's point of view, the WCA is a partner to talk to when it comes to issues about and for chapters. Also, I envision the WCA to offer support chapters and other organisations, thus taking this task off the Foundation. When it comes to difficult situations (e.g. PR desasters or failures in governance), the WCA can step in and make other chapters help manage the issue, as a facilitator of self-organisation. With respect to funding and recognition, the WCA can work with the entities to make their quest successful. With the Foundation narrowing its focus, the WCA can fill an open gap here.
  • From the chapters' perspective, the WCA should be an institution to talk to first when they need help. In relation to the Foundation, the WCA might be a means to voice the chapters' positions. When it comes to individual chapters, the WCA should help make the Foundation and other organiations understand their situation. In general, the WCA will articulate their members' common interests within the Wikimedia world. However, I do not see the WCA as a power player or even counterpart to the Foundation. It is an institution for making "every day life" together as frictionless as possible.
Ideally, the chair should not play a distinctive role here, as he (unfortunatley in this round no "she") holds an organisational position. The task is not representation. In the real world, though, as the WCA is constituted now, the chair will be someone to talk to for the Foundation and the outside world. Currently, the chair and deputy are probably seen as "the face" of the WCA. While I am aware of that situation, I think it need not stay that way. We will have points of entry for communication and this will be taken over by the executive committee. The chair, however, needs to be a mediator and see to it that this communication actually takes place. If neccessary and requested by the council, the chair will be the one to articulate and communicate common positions. If I be the one, I will try to do so in a moderate way, as I see a friendly relation of the entities in the Wikimedia world as a very high value. --Mglaser (talk) 23:51, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

Question: Relationship with other affiliates[edit]

I have been prompted to ask this question after reading Kirill's self-nomination statement, which left me wondering about what uncertainty regarding [chapters'] collective place in the movement he had in mind; however, since it might be helpful to see also the other candidates' view on this matter, in addition to asking Kirill to clarify that expression, I would welcome them to answer these questions, too. So here they go.

Firstly — how do you imagine future relationship between the WCA on one side, and thematic organisations and user groups on the other side? And secondly, seeing that the WCA was originally envisioned (among other things) to balance the power of the WMF, how would you describe the role of those two other types of affiliate organisations in this environment? Would you support the inclusion of such organisations into the WCA (assuming that they request that)? Thank you for your time, odder (talk) 20:12, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

When I speak of the uncertainty in chapters' place within the movement, I'm referring to the transition from the traditional chapter-centric, exclusive-territory model of Wikimedia organization to a multi-entity, shared-territory one. Before the introduction of thematic organizations last year, chapters had—at least in theory—a monopoly on Wikimedia organization within their respective geographic territories; as a result, many chapters were able to develop broad portfolios of programs (including outreach to partner organizations, Wikipedians-in-Residence, and so forth) that spanned the entire spectrum of real-world Wikimedia activity. Now, on the other hand, a chapter can no longer assume that it will be the organization responsible for such programs; thematic organizations are free to execute programs across geographic boundaries, and many traditional chapter program areas intersect heavily with those of planned thematic organizations. As a consequence, there is a need for chapters to re-define their roles relative to thematic organizations and external movement partners, and to reach a collective understanding with the emerging community of thematic organizations regarding how programs that intersect a thematic organization's area of interest and a chapter's geographic territory will be planned, funded, and implemented.
In my opinion, the WCA has the potential to play a key role in helping to develop this shared understanding between chapters and other movement organizations. The relationship between a chapter and the other organizations that will be active within its geographic territory is not unique to individual chapters; the same collaborative paradigm can be applied accross the entire chapter community. The WCA can act as a central point of contact for developing this paradigm, hosting open discussions with representatives of thematic organizations and user groups and building a set of guidelines and best practices that can be shared and applied across the breadth of the Wikimedia movement.
In the long term, I think it makes sense to explore the possibility of broadening the scope of the WCA to include non-chapter entities (and particularly thematic organizations, which will be structurally similar to chapters in many ways). Certainly, I would invite these organizations to participate in WCA discussions, and to provide input both as partners to the chapters and as potential members of the organization itself. However, I don't think that we will be able to reach any definitive decision on whether such organizations should formally be a part of the WCA until there is a healthy community of thematic organizations and user groups that can come to its own consensus as to whether it wants to exist under a shared organizational umbrella. In the meantime, I think that we—both as the WCA and as individual chapters—can and should assist other emerging affiliate organizations, building long-term relationships that can lead to future collaboration regardless of how the organizational structure eventually turns out. Kirill Lokshin [talk] 23:41, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
When the WCA's charter was approved, the new affiliation model was not yet announced (the decision was taken on a WMF board meeting just in those days). Therefore thematic organization (as well as partner organizations and user groups) couldn't be considered in the charter. Even now there isn't any recognized thematic organization. This explains why we still talk mainly about chapters, and we have only what-ifs for other affiliates.
I think that in the near future we should talk with the (prospective) thematic organizations in order to understand if they are interested in becoming part of the WCA. I hope that a few thematic organization will join the WCA shortly (currently they can't be full members, as the charter requires that the members are recognized as chapters by the WMF, but that won't be a problem; for instance they can be some kind of "observers"); after some time (maybe in a couple of years from now) we will be able to understand what's best:
  • maybe we realize that chapters and thematic organizations are too different, and it is not interesting for them to be part of the WCA;
  • maybe we realize that chapters and thematic organizations are different, but the thematic organizations will be interested in working together, and they will create a "Wikimedia Thematic Association" using the experience learned in the meantime;
  • maybe we realize that we have a lot in common, and we will rename the Wikimedia Chapters Association removing the word "chapters" and we will change our structure in order to make them fit properly.
However, all of this is theoretical, as we don't have any recognized thematic organization, and we haven't discussed this with them. At the Wikimedia Conference in Milan there will be both some (prospective) thematic organization and most WCA people, so I hope to see a fruitful discussion there.
There are two more types of affiliates:
  • partner organizations: as far as I know, no organization has applied for this type of affiliation yet. Hence, we will see in the future.
  • user groups: I don't think they will be interested in joining the WCA, but if they do, I'm not a priori agaist it.
Note that most of WCA's work is open, so anyone can participate, even if it's not officially a member.
In general, a shift in chapters' position in the movement is on the way, as a consequence of the new affiliation model; but I don't expect any dramatic change, and, in any case, is an enrichment for the Wikimedia movement. - Laurentius (talk) 18:00, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
Short answer: I can easily imagine spelling out "WCA" as "Wikimedia Council of Affiliates" :)
Long answer: As Laurentius stated, the WCA was sketched in a world where thematic organisations and user groups did not exist. So we are mainly talking about chapters. That's not meant to be exclusive. I think questions of how to run such an organisation as well as the relation to WMF are very common topics among all of these entities. So generally speaking, I see no reason why the WCA should not open up and embrace thorgs and ugs.
If we do so, however, we will face new challenges. Given the age and the nature of chapters, there are some issues that are very special to them. They are based in a particular country and their task is to translate the commonly shared ideal of free knowledge to their country's laws, tradition, mind-set and political framework. Some of them are very evolved in terms of size, government and experience. Their model is not neccessarily transferable to an international group of people sharing the same thematic interest.
When it comes to services the WCA offers (read: will offer) things are easy: all services should be open to every entity within the Wikimedia world. But... exchange of experiences? Common voice? In terms of articulating common positions, it might be hard to reach consensus among all the (future and potentially) very different organisations. So I think we need to reorganise structures here. And experience need to be adapted, translated in a way, to non-chapters.
This is not an obstacle and in my opinion, it is a challenge that needs to be met. --Mglaser (talk) 00:45, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Question: From Chapter to User Group[edit]

You should have heard recently, that WMF has asked Wikimedia Kenya to pursue recognition as Wikimedia User Group instead. Wanted to know what's your point, stand and what would be your action and reaction if something similar to this again pops up. -- ♪Karthik♫ ♪Nadar♫ 19:56, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure that I would characterize the WMF's position as believing that Wikimedia Kenya should be a user group instead of a chapter; rather, I think the WMF feels that Wikimedia Kenya is not yet established enough to sustain the full chapter structure (and associated legal and financial requirements), and should initially develop as a user group and transition to full chapter status once it has enough critical mass and momentum to support the increased responsibilities. Certainly, I think that the Kenyan community has the potential to sustain a national chapter, and I don't believe that the WMF would stand in their way once they're ready to do so; however, there need to be at least a few regularly active and interested people involved to keep a chapter going, and it seems as though such a group isn't available here.
More generally, I think the WMF and WCA can approach situations of this sort from two different sides. The WMF has a legitimate role as a gatekeeper, ensuring that the Wikimedia trademarks are only licensed to organizations that will be able to comply with the legal requirements for using them. The WCA, on the other hand, can serve as a support group for emerging chapters, providing advice and assistance to groups (such as the one in Kenya) that would like to form chapters but are, for whatever reason, not quite ready to pass inspection by the WMF. The outcome is beneficial to both organizations; the WCA would grow the number of healthy chapters, providing a richer collaborative environment within the chapter community; the WMF, meanwhile, would be able to rely on the WCA to provide support for chapters in their formative phases, reducing the effort required from the WMF itself. Kirill Lokshin [talk] 23:59, 8 March 2013 (UTC)
Just to recap, Wikimedia Kenya was approved as a chapter by the Chapters Committee in February 2012, but it was not yet incorporated, hence that was only a provisional recognition. After one year, as they didn't incorporate (and in particular they didn't sign the chapter agreement), the provisional recognition expired, and it was not renewed by the WMF. In the meantime, Wikimedia Kenya had some serious problem, and their activity was quite low.
In this specific case, I think that the WMF took a sensible decision, and there is nothing wrong in Asaf's mail. I am very sorry for the problem of Wikimedia Kenya, and I regret that we lose (or, better, postponed) the opportunity to have a new chapter in Africa (among approximately 50 states, currently only in South Africa there is a chapter). However, I agree that creating a chapter is not always the best way to proceed (as a first step), even more now that user groups are possible. I hope that they will be able to have a fresh start as an user group and carry out their activities in this form; and, when they will be ready, become a chapter.
In general, the WCA can offer help to the prospective chapter (or prospective user group), facilitate the development of the chapter in all its stages, and hopefully make less likely for this problems to happen. Of course, ultimately it's a responsibility of the local people to sort out the difficulties - the WCA can't make miracles, but it may support the local group. - Laurentius (talk) 18:15, 9 March 2013 (UTC)


First of all, we need to find out what went wrong. Wikimedia Kenya got a provisional recognition by the AffCom. It then failed to incorporate and sign the Chapters Agreement within a year. According to their website, there was some action around summer last year, but then nothing seems to have happened. Apparently, also the provisional board dissolved. It seems to me that WMF's decision is justified in this case, although I would have liked to see another chapter on the African continent.
The crucial question is, though, why there was so little activity. I think the WCA should approach the people that were involved and find out the reasons. If there were mistakes made on their side, other prospective chapters may learn from them. Also, the Foundation showed a way of how to proceed. This is not a closed door for Wikimedia Kenya. So why not offer help, and if they are still serious about becoming a chapter, work with them.
In my understanding of the WCA something similar should become more unlikely to pop up. The WCA should be a partner for prospective chapters, helping them through the recognition process. The WCA cannot do their work nor replace their commitment, but it can facilitate going through the steps that lead to being a chapter. In the case of Wikimedia Kenya, it seems to be widely accepted that the Foundation's decision was justified. There may be other cases where things are not so clear. Here, the WCA should also be an advocate of the prospective chapters and support them in arguing their case. --Mglaser (talk) 22:28, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Question: Non-member chapters[edit]

  • Hitherto, the WCA incorporates 23 of 39 chapters and the discussions have been led only by around 7 or 10 (10 at most) representatives of chapters. Which are your concrete proposals to integrate and encourage to non-member chapters to be part of WCA? How you will avoid that the minority opinion will be imposed to majority? How you will avoid that the biggest chapters will have more influence than smallest ones?
  • What you think about local and regional cooperation groups like Iberocoop or Francocoop? Be honest: Do you think this kind of groups are an obstacle or a help for WCA's goals? If you become chair, how you would bring help and attention to this groups?

Thank you. Salvador (talk) 21:25, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

There are currently 38 chapters, actually. The missing one is Kenya.
  • New members. Having new chapters to join the WCA is important, and I hope that in the future (almost) all chapters will be members, but actually I don't think it is the most important thing right now. Two-thirds of the chapters are already members, and that's enough for a beginning. What worries me now is that half of the chapters that are already members do not take part into the discussions. This is the problem we should address now.
As for the non-member chapters, the better way to encourage them to join is to show them a working WCA, which makes clear the benefit it brings to the Wikimedia Movement (not which benefit they have in joining, it shouldn't be so selfish; but the benefit for the movement).
That said, I really hope that Wikimedia Mexico will join soon :-) and that you will help us in accomplishing these goals.
  • Minorities and small chapters. The minority can impose an opinion to the majority only if the majority allows that. The influence of a chapter is proportional to the activity of his representative. Small chapters will be influential if they will be active, size doesn't matter: in the last months, Wikimedia Estonia has been more influential than Wikimedia France. (Of course what I just said is not completely accurate. A big chapter has more people, and usually more people involved at an international level: hence it may be more difficult for a small chapter to find a member which is willing to devote time to the WCA.)
One obstacle may be the fact that small and non-European chapter don't believe in what I'm saying, i.e., they feel that their voice is left unheard. As you are asking this question, this may be your case. From what I see, this fear is exaggerated: most council members would really love to see the small chapters become more active. Nevertheless, as this is felt as a problem, we should work on this.
In any case, the chair should try hard to push the representatives to really represent their chapter; but, in the end, it's mainly up to the chapters.
  • Regional cooperation. I don't see how the existence of a regional cooperation can be an obstacle for a global cooperation. Iberocoop provides an example of the fact that an effective international cooperation can exist, even though the two initiatives are different from each other. Regional groups will not be superseded by the WCA (for many reason; e.g. if you talk in Spanish to the whole council, few people will understand :-) ), and they can support each other. The help of the WCA is given to any chapters in need; WCA activities should be international, but not necessarily global: being useful only for a subgroup (based on geography or whatever) of the chapters does not imply that something is out of the scope of the WCA. - Laurentius (talk) 21:14, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
There are several issues here:
Participation: As you point out, the level of participation in WCA matters is low even among its members and that's a big issue. One possible reason is that we focussed too much on internal matters, something, that is not interesting enough for a lot of folks to spend their valuable time on. We'll see if that changes after London where we agreed to pursue our real tasks with high priority. There are several measures that should be taken in order to raise the level or participation: First of all, I think personal contact between the Council members is very important. I perceive it as a task of the chair to take a moderating position here, inviting people with low participation to get involved. Second, we have organisational barriers. For example, all of the telecons were held at a time suitable for European chapters, but not so much for other parts of the world. We might need to rotate the time slot instead of doodling. Third, and also speaking from personal experience, there's a language barrier when it comes to fast conversation. We need to be aware of that. Fourth, we need to make council members and interested parties more aware of the discussions going on. Being transparent is one thing, but when noone knows where those transparent and open discussions are taking place, it does not help participation ;) However, I also want to point out that we cannot force people to participate. The WCA as well as other volunteer work depends on people that have a high level of commitment and personal involvement, but their time is limited. I do respect peoples decision not to engage in some particular thematic discussion. The price, though, is not having an influence on that particular outcome.
Majorities and chapter size: When it comes to decisions, big and small chapters do equally have one vote. In opinion forming, most of the time there is a discussion in the open. As I said above, we might need to raise awareness and lower the barriers for that. I think the inequality in influence, which I perceive to be low, is mostly one of resources. Bigger chapters can afford to spend more time on discussions and the related research work. In the long term, the WCA may have it's own resources. For now, I think the main point for our discussions and for the chair will be to make sure every voice in the WCA is equally heard. Sometimes it may help to summarize ongoing conversations and have chapters comment on that. Other than that, the main source of influence is participation. So we need to address this issue and aim for a high level of participation. Currently, the participation is very euro-centric. When it comes to real life meetings, I assume the WCA quickly needs to find a way of funding travelling.
Non-members: First, sometimes, it is just as simple as writing an email. So I favor to have a group of council members to actually be responsible for relations with non-member chapters and other organisations. We need to maintain a list of people that we can talk. We should find out about their needs and shape our services accordingly. Second, the WCA will offer its services to all chapters and organisations. I think that should make us more attractive and visible within the Wikimedia world. Third, open discussions will allow interested parties to get involved in the opinion forming processes.
Cooperation groups: I think the groups you mentioned should be seen as partners. There's no reason to see them as an obstacle. As they are successful examples of chapter self-organisation, we can learn a lot from them. They express common regional interests. The WCA is considered with questions of governance and chapter organisation. There will be overlaps, but I don't see us in competition. The chance is to join forces. --Mglaser (talk) 00:00, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
I think that they main reason for the low level of participation—which has been noted both here and elsewhere—is the lack of any concerted effort to reach out to chapters on an individual basis; quite simply, those of us involved in organizing the WCA have waited for the chapters would come to us, while we should have been actively engaging in dialogue with them. Going forward, I think it's vitally important that the WCA leadership approach individual chapters—including both chapters who are not part of the WCA as well as chapters who formally joined but have not actively participated—and talk to each chapter about its needs and aspirations, and how participating in the WCA can provide concrete benefits to the chapter. As I've mentioned before, while the chair is by no means uniquely suited to perform this role, I think they have a responsibility to ensure that the outreach effort moves forward.
As far as regional cooperation groups are concerned, I don't see them as an obstacle; rather, I think that they are useful models for the WCA to emulate. In practical terms, Iberocoop and similar groups have been far more successful than the WCA in reaching out to potential members, building long-term relationships, and successfully executing collaborative programs involving multiple chapters; we would be remiss if we did not take the opportunity to learn from their experience. Kirill Lokshin [talk] 01:06, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

Proposal: Open voting to Council Members joining after voting has started[edit]

I am prepared to cancel the current votes and reopen elections, with a schedule for closing roughly a week later under an amended rule that allows for any chapter that provides a representative to the Council (with associated formal board approval) able to vote at until up until the vote period ends. I believe that it is more appropriate to positively cancel the current vote, rather than change the rules after it has started. I have no plan to reopen the nomination process.

This would be an unusual process compared to most forms of election, which require eligible voters to be registered before voting opens rather than when it closes. This would also be different to our previous rules for voting on resolutions.

I can make this happen at midnight tonight, with current votes cancelled and voting open until midnight on Sunday (17 March 2013), unless there are sufficient objections made to me from Council Members either here or by email. This would allow our newest Council Member, from WMBD, to vote. There would be 23 Council Members eligible to vote rather than the current 22. The quorum for the election would have to be adapted, effectively declared on voting being closed. There are potentially 2 more chapters, to my knowledge, that could potentially sort out their nomination of a council member, so they could also vote before the revised deadline. Thanks -- (talk) 18:01, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

There were sufficient objections, so we shall stick to the current process as defined. There was sufficient notification of the schedule, and time for any chapters to organize their representative if they were keen to take part in this election - as evidenced by Karthik (WMIN) joining the Council shortly before voting opened. The election process we are following is fairly standard and common good practice. Thanks -- (talk) 11:42, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
What constitutes "sufficient" objections? I think it's not too much to ask for openness and transparency in knowing who and how many objected and on what grounds. --AutoGyro (talk) 13:22, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Well, we can't quantity whatever opposition has been sent privately, but that is beside the point. This seems like an arbitrary requirement, as there was never a rule stated limiting suffrage to those who were WCA members before the vote. In the absence of any such rule stated beforehand, it seems quite wrong to deny suffrage to WM Bangladesh and other potential new chapters; w:Election Day voter registration is practice in many jurisdictions and considered progressive democratic practice. And all three candidates have agreed to this more open process, at a time when the WCA needs all the participation and legitimacy from global chapters that it can get.--Pharos (talk) 13:43, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
(non-member comment) I second Pharos' considerations. --Nemo 16:33, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
The requirement is not "arbitrary", I laid out a vote process identical to the way the Council has run its previous resolutions and in line with common best practice for elections. It would be highly unusual to enter into a scheduled vote without defining the quorum or knowing who was eligible to vote at the start of voting. There is no mass minority being denied suffrage, there is one representative currently affected, namely Shabab Mustafa of WMBD.
The process was clear with no objections in advance of the elections. Chapters which seemed most likely to join the Council in advance of this election were contacted, and the timetable was made clear. WMIN had time to nominate Karthik Nadar and he became a Council Member two days in advance of the nominations closing. In the case of WMBD, this was spelt out in an email to them from Markus "There's an upcoming election for the chair of the WCA council. If you want to participate in this election (which I'd appreciate), the two emails should reach Fae before Wednesday evening." We received a letter dated Thursday by an email scan of the document on Thu, 7 Mar 2013 @16:47. Soon after receiving this letter, I made a public announcement and updated the WCAC membership page. I wrote back to WMBD with the following message on the 7th March: "With regard to the current elections, I'm afraid that as voting officially started at midnight UTC on 6th March, I can't claim to have received the WMBD board's letter before that. However please do raise questions on the meta talk page to influence the outcome."
There was no objection then or now from the board of WMBD, or from Shabab Mustafa as our newest Council Member.
No concern has been expressed from any Chapter interested in nominating a new Council Member that they were unable to meet the deadlines set in advance of this election. Thanks -- (talk) 16:58, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Suffrage is not to be changed during the voting process. I guess that that is a rule in the US as much as in the Netherlands. Ziko (talk) 17:09, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Ziko that it is very unusual to change voting rights during a vote, but if all candidates agree, then I support the proposal to allow chapters who are not part of the WCA to vote. There are many reasons why chapters may not have joined the WCA but all chapters are still stakeholders in the WCA activities. Also, I would not want this to be opposed without a reason - does anyone feel strongly that chapters who are not in the WCA should not vote? Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:55, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
To clarify, the proposal was not to invite the votes of WCA non-members in this chair election, but to merely allow the votes of those who are full members, but who have officially joined after the nominations were finalized.--Pharos (talk) 12:44, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
Our goal should be the best for the WCA, for the chapters and for the movement, and I don't think that a rushed election is the best for any. The easiest way is just not voting, then we will take the time to discuss with all chapters and chpaters to be about what should be the executive of the WCA. Several chapter already ask for such a discussion, even the WMF board suggested to look at the Iberocoop model. I don't see how the election of a chair will solve our actual problems. And for the "fae vs Jimbo" issue, Fae has already proved that he will step back, that do not mean that he have to leave right now, we can have 2no chair" until the WMFconf, WCA is virtual, it do not need any official action, then we do not actually need a chair. --Charles Andrès (WMCH) 08:00, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Thank you[edit]

I'd like to give my thanks to Fae as retiring Chair for all his work, not least for overseeing the election of the new Chair. Thanks also are due to the three volunteers for putting themselves forward, and to all those who took part in the election. Congratulations to Markus on his election as Chair! --RexxS (talk) 02:11, 18 March 2013 (UTC)

My warm thankyou to Fae for the enormous work carried out in 2012/2013, and my congratulations to Markus. The WCA can only succeed with the support of the Council Members. Ziko (talk) 15:02, 18 March 2013 (UTC)

Are u[edit]

allowed to run this Logo? Ur not a wikimedia association, as far as I know, so I think not. If u think otherwise, please let me know.--Angel54 5 (talk) 19:49, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

The Wikimedia Chapters Association does not have permission to use trademarks, word marks (such as "Wikimedia") or logos. A specific proposal was put to WMF legal in December 2012, from me, in order to handle the period until the WCA is legally incorporated. There has been no acceptance or rejection of that proposal. Thanks -- (talk) 22:49, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Think, this is the logo of WMF, distributed to each chapter as a trademark. Dont know what u mean, if u use this without permission. At the moment the status is pending. But the image suggests, that u r going to be legally of the same importance than WMF itself. Dont know if this is a lucky choice...--Angel54 5 (talk) 21:25, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
So what? If u dont argue about, I will erase that logo next week - there is nothing in common with WMF.--Angel54 5 (talk) 01:15, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I did not realize you were expecting a particular reply. I assume you are referring to File:Wikimedia_Chapters_Association.svg? Though the WMF have yet to formally accept an agreement, there has been no objection since the logo was created and used on meta (in July 2012) from anyone within the WMF. I cannot recall it being used anywhere else, but if there was an intention to use the proposed logo in publications elsewhere, the WMF would be informed. Until WMF legal advise that this proposed logo should be deleted or should not be used, I see no good reason to rush to delete it. If you wish to pursue a case for deletion in the absence of any advice from WMF legal, I suggest you establish a community consensus. Thanks -- (talk) 01:27, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Think I should write a mail to Samuel Klein. This is misuse. I suppose u informed them about the logo in advance?--Angel54 5 (talk) 01:32, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I don't remember, everything was done in public and there were more observers during the first meeting at Wikimania than Council Members. By all means write to SJ, I'm sure he can help. I would be happy to forward my letter to WMF legal from December 2012 about use of the logo and other marks to SJ, should he wish to have a copy. Thanks -- (talk) 01:41, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for your concern, Angel. Logo use on the wikis, for community discussion, is generally much less restricted than use elsewhere: community groups regularly create tentative or draft logos, and use them on the wikis. For instance: organizations that hope to become recognized - including those applying to become chapters and thematic organizations, and including umbrella organizations such as the chapters association or Iberocoop, sometimes do this. Similarly, groups that are no longer recognized as chapters, such as the Wikimedians in Kenya user group, still have their earlier logo design (see Wikimedia Kenya) - while they would not use it offline, it might be used for discussion purposes on Meta or in planning for a future application to become a chapter again.

This is my recollection of current practice, and not a legal statement. However I find this sort of flexible on-wiki experimentation very useful for a rapidly changing movement such as ours – and I hope it continues to be allowed. I believe the Chapters Association has been in contact with AffCom about pursuing formal recognition and a trademark agreement from the WMF. It would be the first umbrella organization to do so, so the process may take a bit of time. Until such recognition is granted, I call the group simply the Chapters Association when being formal in my own writing... but I do not see a problem with others calling it the WCA, or with its pages and proposed logos as they are currently laid out. SJ talk  02:47, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for explaining the current wiki-way so clearly SJ. Cheers -- (talk) 07:56, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Ok, thx too. This is best practice at the moment.--Angel54 5 (talk) 16:12, 27 March 2013 (UTC)