Talk:Wikimedia Chapters Association/Standing Orders

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member - delegate[edit]

Usually this document refers to delegates, but on at least one occasion to members. Is there a difference? If not this should be standardised WereSpielChequers (talk) 14:36, 19 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well spotted; I've made a few adjustments. I've left the word "members" in in two contexts:
  • In the phrase "members of the Association", where the term means the actual organisation or chapter who is a member, rather than the delegate. This relates to situations where the administrative arrangements of the Council change significantly, for instance, the appointment of a new Chair. In this case it is likely to be of interest to more than just the delegate.
  • For members of committees, who may or may not be delegates to the council.
Hope this makes a bit more sense now. Craig Franklin (talk) 08:13, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
Not really. The charter consistently speaks of "Council Members" not delegates. In the interest of consistency, it would be helpful if the standing orders would use the same terminology. sebmol ? 12:56, 5 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Deputy Chair not present[edit]

I can see the logic why you might not want to elect a new chair who can't be present at the meeting that elects them. But is there any reason to rule out a deputy chair who everyone agrees is the best candidate, just because they are ill? WereSpielChequers (talk) 14:36, 19 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The main reason that provision is there is so that the delegate can advise the Council whether they have accepted the nomination. There are a few ways I can think of to get around this which would allow someone not present to be elected, but none of them are elegant at all. For instance, we could allow the acceptance to be done, in advance, in writing. Craig Franklin (talk) 08:08, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
That works. In fact it is usual to have candidates announced in advance, that gives people time to read their nomination statements. WereSpielChequers (talk) 22:20, 4 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A few comments[edit]

A. The first two bullet points under definitions - do we need both?

The two terms are subtly different. Usually they will be the same person. However, in the event that the CotC is unable to preside, the DCotC becomes the Chair, without becoming the CotC. The CotC also has other duties apart from just presiding.

B. Election of Chair 2 d.Suggest a neutral person should Chair the election of the new chair - this offers neutrality. Bullet point 11 Should read 'if any nominee has an absolute majority...' or does not make sense of the procedure.

C. Deputy Chair Bullet point 10 . Why no absolute majority in the same was as the Chair? This person could be a dodgy edit away from being chair (to misuse US election myth).

True, it's intended to be a lighter procedure since the election of the Chair. Note that in the event of the CotC leaving that position, the Deputy does not automatically take their place like the US Vice President. I would have no real objection if people wanted to use the same election procedure for both. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:47, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]

3d - In what circumstances would th chair get elected vice-chair? Some amazing power grab? Donlt think we need this.

Unlikely, the gist is that you can be either CotC or DCotC but not both at the same time. If you become one, you cease to become the other. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:47, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]

D. Administration of the Council

4c Delete 'provide' insert 'preside'

Oops, fixed! Craig Franklin (talk) 09:47, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]

4g A BIG POINT - surely delegates can be present through phone or skype? Needs to be made clear.

Good point, any other points of view on this? Craig Franklin (talk) 09:47, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]

E. Votes 5j. I think there should be a Chair's casting vote. It is there for a reason. i.e. to prevent organisations getting stuck. Jon Davies WMUK (talk) 15:49, 21 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Per 11(b), the Chair has a vote at all time (ie: for this purpose they're not like the Speaker in a Westminster tradition). Or did you mean that the Chair should only vote when the vote is tied? Craig Franklin (talk) 09:47, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
The Chair, being a member, will have a deliberative vote in the same way as everyone else. Conventionally, many organisations allow the Chair to exercise an additional ("casting") vote in the event of a tie (provided that the Chair has already exercised a deliberative vote). If we want to adopt this procedure, it must be explicitly spelt out in the Standing Orders. --RexxS (talk) 10:25, 7 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The charter doesn't allow it. "Unless otherwise specified, the Council decides by simple majority, meaning more votes pro than votes contra." So the chair's vote is just like any other's. If there's not more than votes for a measure than against, it simply fails. sebmol ? 10:42, 7 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Then what is the point of "Unless otherwise specified"? At present Standing Order 5(j) seems to address this issue. And that's exactly the reason why it's being discussed here. It has been suggested that the Chair should have a casting vote. Unless you are saying that nobody is allowed to suggest changes to the draft Standing Orders, then it seems that it's a legitimate issue to discuss on its merits. --RexxS (talk) 01:26, 8 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Parliamentary authority[edit]

Having read through the draft a few times, I've identified a number of provisions which appear to be—at least in my eyes—unusual or potentially problematic; this is particularly the case for some of the more technical aspects of parliamentary procedure, such as the rules on precedence. Having said that, I'm keenly aware of the fact that my experience with parliamentary procedure is limited to the typical practices in the United States, and it's perfectly possible that what seems peculiar to me is quite routine in other parliamentary traditions. Thus, I'd like to pose a question to the authors of this draft: are these provisions based on an established work on parliamentary procedure and, if so, which one?

More generally, I wonder if people would be open to simply adopting such an established work as a parliamentary authority for most of the Council's procedures, and writing special rules only when we explicitly wish to deviate from the standard rather than in the course of normal practice? Kirill [talk] 00:20, 22 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Kirill, Craig, which was the leader of the writing of this draft is away for the next few days. I'll make sure he'll reply to your questions once he is back. Tomer A. -- Talk 14:10, 22 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Tomer, would you happen to have any news regarding when Craig might be available? Kirill [talk] 21:23, 28 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have not explicitly based this on any single example of practice, although there are elements from WMAU's committee procedure, the procedure of the Parliament of Queensland, and the procedure of the Australian Senate. Craig Franklin (talk) 07:44, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]


Here's some comments/questions. They aren't exhaustive, but hopefully they're useful.

  • Election of chair and deputy chair
    • "Any delegate may propose the nomination of any delegate" - as currently written, this appears to permit self-nominations. It would be good to clarify that to make it explicit as to whether self-nominations are permitted.
      My view is that self-noms are not a bad thing, but I would be happy to change this if there is a consensus that we don't want those. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:55, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
    • Do we really need to specify the exact phrasing that needs to be uttered? There's a risk of mispronunciation/mishearing that could stall or potentially invalidate the process during or after the election.
      Good point, I will amend. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:55, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
    • What happens when the deputy chair is standing for nomination (something that is fairly probable)? It might be better to automatically pass the election duties onto the secretary-general (who, as a paid position not a delegate, wouldn't be eligible to stand).
      Yes, good point. I agree. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:55, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
    • Can the ballot only contain a 1st choice? Would it not be better to allow ranked choices so that a system like STV could be used to automatically enable the elimination and recounting of the votes, without needing a fresh ballot (which will take time)?
      Given some recent events, I think that the simpler and less open to dispute the procedure is, the better for everyone concerned. Remember that a candidate requires an absolute majority, in the event that nobody gets that the lowest ranked candidate is eliminated and everyone votes again, so it's essentially like a slower version of STV in that regard. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:55, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
  • Section 4
    • 4h - why not just suspend the meeting until a quorum is once more available?
    • How does a delegate indicate that they want to speak?
    • 4o - why have this restricted? I'd recommend that observers be allowed to attend the meeting by default (and would also encourage remote viewing of the meetings via e.g. webcasts) for maximum transparency and openness.
I'd agree that I hope all meetings would be open to observers, however there may be reasons this is impractical, such as the facilities or location of the meeting. It would be better to offer a 'positive' choice to open things up 90% of the time, than a 'negative' choice to close things 10% of the time. Craig Franklin (talk) 07:51, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
    • 4r - this seems to be unnecessarily restrictive. Would an expert on one topic really be excluded from speaking on another topic that they're an expert on if it came up? (In general, this whole part of the standing orders seems to be over-bureaucratic and overly restrictive...)
      The idea is to make sure that delegates and not "experts" are the ones leading discussion, and also to reduce the potential for the meetings to go over time. Craig Franklin (talk) 09:55, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
    • There should be something about the maximum time of the meeting not taking longer than N hours/days than the nominal schedule, since it's likely that attendees will need to leave promptly to catch trains/planes home.
  • Language
    • 6b. There's a risk here that a meeting is organised, everyone arrives, and then the language that the meeting is held in changes such that some participants can't participate. It would be better to require the language to be decided upon in advance so that attendees can organise translators as needed.
I've explicitly worded this as "all delegates" to mean that the decision must be unanimous. I expect that 9 out of 10 meetings would be in English, but a working committee on issues on Spanish-language projects should not be obliged to use English if Spanish would suit them all better, for instance. Craig Franklin (talk) 07:51, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
  • Time and Place of Meetings
    • There needs to be some sort of hat-note explaining what an online place is. Is this a wiki? an IRC channel? Something like Skype? Telephone? Given that this will probably be the most frequent type of meeting to take place, some definition is needed to take into account the requirements set by that communications mechanism.
I've deliberately left this vague in order to leave it implementation-agnostic. I'd say all of the above would probably qualify but that's for the Council to decide. Craig Franklin (talk) 07:51, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]

There's no mention of any possibility of written/email decisions by the Council. Would this be possible, or will all of the decisions that will be made by the Council require a meeting?

I'd encourage some sort of revision of the Standing Orders to be planned after the WCA has been operating for 1 year, to take into account issues that have arisen in practice compared with initial expectations.

Agreed. I'd even encourage the Council to immediately amend anything that turns out to be impractical in actual use. Craig Franklin (talk) 07:51, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]

Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 21:04, 22 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I really don't like the attention given to the ​​language issue during the first steps of the Council.

I understand the importance of our movement to support other languages, but lets face it - most of those present at movement meetings and representatives of chapters speak English, even if they don't understand 50% of what people say in English - it's more than likely other languages. For example, maybe we have a large representation of Spanish speakers, but while even if the other members know only basic English, we will have more people who know language in a basic level than Spanish.

We're not the UN, and start making commitments to translate, at this basic steps of our Council, is a waste of resources. I'm also not a big fan of the money and resources been spend by the WMF to translate their monthly report, it seemed to me unnecessary.

I'm not native English speakers, and the world was much easier for me if everyone had speak Hebrew, but this is not the case. I think we just need to make sure that the documents are written in basic English, so everyone will understand, without the need to have a British academic's level in English. (without to offend our UK friends!) --Itzike (talk) 22:19, 22 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I’m also a non-English-native speaker (French), and I find the efforts done by the Steering Committee in the language issue are worth exploring. I aggree translation is quite expansive (either in time or money), especially on the long term (I try to be a translator into French for some Movement communications), but I have the sensation the English vehicular language is a real barrier for the whole movement; until now it was about the only solution for our international communications, but perhaps such an experiment from the Committee can teach us how to better deal with multilingual communities.
Two days ago, when translating into French the “place of registration” and “Secretary-General” documents, I wondered why I translated it and if it was worthy (the primary audience is probably the Board of WMFR who understands English), and I concluded it would be worth translating for general community (and in France, English and languages are generally considered difficult) and posted the translation on our discussion mailing list, hoping to better disseminate at least the “place of registration” document. It’s probably a drop in the ocean, but I do hope regular translations help at least some non-English speakers.
And incidentally my post led to a discussion about the translation in French of the term “chapter” — we generally use “chapter” without translation — since there was no satisfactory translation, there is still no good translation (imho) but we probably have a more precise idea of the word we are searching (and dozens of persons will perhaps search now and find a good word in 6 months). I add this anecdote since non-translation is not only a more difficult access to the documents, but also a non-creation of the core words used in our movement in our languages. ~ Seb35 [^_^] 01:09, 25 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Length / verbosity[edit]

I'm wondering whether these orders need to be as explicit and verbose as they are currently drafted. I can only speak from my own experience in non-profits (both WMDE and outside Wikimedia), and none I'm involved in has something as detailed as this - even though many of the topics found here apply to them as well (e.g. quorum counts, chair elections, voting and debate rules, etc.). Do other chapters have documents spelling out these minute details of how a chair is elected, a quorum count is requested, etc.? sebmol ? 11:00, 23 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

At Wikimedia DC, our governing documents omit most of the purely procedural topics; instead, we've incorporated a procedural reference directly (see
My recommendation (as I mentioned in my comments under #Parliamentary authority above) would be to do something along those lines here as well; as a practical matter, we're not going to be able to reproduce a 500-page treatise on parliamentary procedure within this document, and selectively adopting only portions of it leaves us open to whatever hazards the procedures we don't adopt were created to avoid. Kirill [talk] 12:48, 23 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some tweaks[edit]

First thanks to the authors for such a comprehensive draft, I find it really clear. Second there is no section 8(d), is it an oblivion? And possibly related, 8(l) mentions "(c), (d) and (e) above", is it "8(l) third, fourth and fifth points" or "8(c), 8(d) and 8(e)"?

~ Seb35 [^_^] 22:51, 24 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well spotted, there was originally a provision here regarding items that go "over time" that was removed before it hit public view... and it appears I didn't renumber it. Oops.
With regards to 8(l), it is the third, fourth and fifth points in that order being referred to, not 8(c), 8(d), and 8(e). I'm happy for the language to be tweaked to something better if you think it needs it. Craig Franklin (talk) 07:56, 3 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]

Section 5 : Votes[edit]

Will WMUS-DC and WMUS-NY will have two votes and two members in the council  ? --naveenpf (talk) 15:26, 28 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would assume so; they're completely independent chapters, and are joining the WCA as separate entities. Kirill [talk] 21:24, 28 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Me too. Why shouldn't they have to votes? --Jcornelius (talk) 06:05, 29 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
At this stage, there is no reason for them not to have two votes. However, concern has been raised as to why the US (however diverse it may be) should potentially have X voices (X being the number of sub national chapters in the US) in the Chapters Association where India or Argentina (potentially as diverse in culture and geography as the US) have only one because they decided to go with a "national" chapter in the first place rather than sub-national. So yes, this is a point for consideration in the future. notafish }<';> 21:45, 29 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Detailed comments[edit]

I've now gone through the draft in detail; my comments are below, roughly in order by paragraph number. A few general points for context:

  • In examining the proposed rules, I've compared them to the corresponding provisions of Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised (RONR). I have not highlighted every difference between the documents—many of the deviations are not material, and others are reasonable alternatives; rather, my intent was to gauge whether the proposed rules would be fundamentally unfair or impractical in some way.
  • As I've said elsewhere, I would urge in the strongest possible terms that the standing orders incorporate by reference an established reference on parliamentary procedure (whether Robert's Rules or some other standard) rather than attempting to redefine everything from scratch. Several of my comments—particularly those for Sections 4 and 8—address the need for this more specifically.

Kirill [talk] 16:44, 3 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Section 1[edit]

  • The bulk of this section addresses the composition and organization of the Council in general, rather than its membership specifically. I would suggest changing the title to "Organization of the Council" or something along those lines.
  • 1(a): This should refer to the WCA Charter generally rather than the specific version used in Berlin, to avoid the need to rewrite the orders whenever the Charter is amended.
  • 1(a), 1(c): These two paragraphs might read better if combined:

    In accordance with the Charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association, each member organisation of the Association shall appoint one delegate, who shall speak and vote on behalf of the organisation, to the Council.

  • 1(d): Since there's no prohibitions on repeat appointments, the two-year term is more properly a matter for each chapter to deal with internally; I don't really see the need to describe the chapters' internal rules and procedures for naming a delegate here.
  • 1(f): What is the intended meaning of "(or delegate)" in this paragraph?
  • 1(f): There's no basis in the Charter for requiring that a member organization provide a reason when changing its delegate. Given that the precise reason may not be something the organization wishes (or is legally permitted) to publicly disclose, I suggest removing this element from the required notice.
  • 1(g): The sequence specified here (Chair → Deputy Chair → Secretary-General) conflicts with the sequence specified in 4(d) (Chair → Deputy Chair → Acting Chair). I don't have a particularly strong opinion as to which one might be preferred, but the provisions should, at a minimum, be consistent. One interesting point to note is that, if the version from 4(d) is retained, then there's no real need to have a permanent Deputy Chair; the Council can simply elect an Acting Chair at any time when the Chair is unable to preside.
  • 1(h): Presumably this applies also to the position of Deputy Chair (assuming that we retain one)?

Sections 2 & 3[edit]

  • In general, I see no real benefit of having two (almost) identical election procedures; we should be able to follow the same general procedure regardless of whether we want to elect one officer or two (or more). Thus, I would suggest combining these sections into a single "Election of Chair and Deputy Chair" (or, alternatively, "Election of Officers" if we introduce any other positions) section.
  • 2(b): I assume that "business" here refers specifically to the introduction and discussion of main motions (i.e. points on the agenda) rather than subsidiary or privileged motions? It would be useful, in my opinion, to define this term more explicitly.
  • 2(c): See my comments for 1(g); the sequence needs to be made consistent across all sections.
  • 2(d): These procedures use both "suspend" and "recess"; is the intent here that these would refer to a single procedural action (in which case a single term should be used), or two different actions (in which case the difference needs to be defined).
  • 2(d): With regards to ballot papers, I can see potential problems arising from delegates not knowing how to spell the candidates' names. Some provision needs to be made for this, either by having the Chair provide sample ballot papers or via some other means.
  • 2(f): Depending on why the Chair is resigning, it may be impractical for them to issue notice to all the member organizations. I would suggest that, if notice is desired—and I'm not convinced that it's really necessary, incidentally—that it be issued to the Secretary-General and/or the Deputy Chair, and that they be responsible for notifying the members.
  • 3(e): Is the difference in notification requirements ("members of the Association" for the Chair versus "members of the Council" for the Deputy Chair) intentional (and, if so, why)?

Section 4[edit]

  • 4(a): This is entirely redundant to 1(b), 2(a)–(b), and 3(a)–(b). I suggest simply removing it.
  • 4(b): I would suggest directly combining this with 4(c) as follows:

    The Chair of the Council shall preside at all times over the Council, except when:

    The Chair is not physically present at a physical meeting;
    The Chair is unable to preside over the Council due to ill health or incapacity;
    The Chair is unavailable to preside over the Council for any reason;
    The Council is discussing a matter directly related to the organisation for which the Chair is a delegate; or
    The Council is discussing the conduct or actions of the Chair.

  • 4(c): Presumably these criteria apply also to anyone who would replace the Deputy Chair? If so, I would suggest incorporating them by reference rather than restating them, e.g.

    In the event that the Chair of the Council is unable to preside due to one of the reasons specified in 4(c), the Deputy Chair shall preside. In the event that the Deputy Chair is unable to preside due to one of the reasons specified in 4(c), X shall preside.

  • 4(d): See my comments for 1(g); this is inconsistent with the rest of the document.
  • 4(e): It's unclear at what stage we would declare that a disagreement existed. To simplify the procedure, I would suggest framing this as a point of order, e.g.

    If any delegate believes that the reasons specified in 4(c) apply, they shall, as a point of order, request that the Chair yield to their replacement. In the event that the Chair does not do so, the delegate may appeal the point of order to the Council.

The process for making, ruling on, and appealing points of order is described in rather exhaustive detail in RONR and similar manuals of parliamentary procedure; I think we should defer to generally accepted practice insofar as possible.

  • 4(f): As this provision has to do with the publication of votes, it might make more sense in Section 5.
  • 4(h): It's unclear what the purpose of suspending the meeting would be; this is typically done in governmental assemblies as a prelude to rounding up members to re-establish a quorum, but the Council has no power to compel attendance, and would therefore likely be unable to re-establish a quorum once it had been lost. I would suggest changing this to instead reference the procedures for taking action without a quorum:

    At any time during a meeting of the Council, a delegate may ask the Chair of the Council to conduct a quorum count. All business must immediately be suspended while a count of delegates present is taken. I fa quorum is found to be present, then business will resume. If a quorum is found not to be present, then all normal and special business shall cease, and the Council shall be restricted to such actions as may be taken without a quorum.

As with 4(e), a manual of parliamentary procedure will detail the actions that an assembly may take without a quorum, such as recessing, adjourning, and so forth.

  • 4(j): There are generally accepted times when a delegate may interrupt another delegate (e.g. to raise a point of order or privilege, etc.); as above, I would suggest deferring to a manual of parliamentary procedure on this point. (See also 4(n), which covers one of the potential scenarios where this might happen.)
  • 4(l), 4(m): These paragraphs are fairly repetitive, and might read better if combined:

    Delegates who have been warned under standing order 4(k) who continue to disrupt meetings may be suspended by the Chair, for a period of no more than two hours initially, and for any time period up to and including the remainder of the meeting in the case of repeat offenses. Delegates suspended in this way must remove themselves from the meeting, and may not vote or participate in discussions while suspended. This suspension will be recorded in the public record of proceedings.

  • 4(o): It is unclear whether inviting guests is a privilege reserved to the Chair or extended to all delegates, and whether the assembly can bar a guest invited by the Chair from attending; these points should either be made explicit or left to a manual of parliamentary procedure.
  • 4(p): As in 4(o), we need to define more explicitly whether the right to eject a guest is reserved to the Chair.
  • 4(q): This should be moved to immediately follow 4(n).
  • 4(q): Is the use of "dissent" in this context normal in Australian parliamentary procedure? In the US, "dissent" is predominantly to refer to a non-binding minority opinion in conflict with the binding majority one; a presiding officer's ruling is "appealed" to the assembly, and it is the assembly's judgement which ultimately prevails.
  • 4(r): As in 4(o)–(p), the assembly's ability to invite a speaker, or to remove one invited by the Chair, needs to be somehow defined.
  • 4(s): I assume the intent of this paragraph is to refer to a recess rather than an adjournment (which will obviously be for a period of more than 24 hours as a routine matter)?

Section 5[edit]

  • 5(a): While this is a good statement of principle, it's potentially dangerous to have as a rule of order, since it would arguably conflict with the use of secret ballots for electing the Chair.
  • 5(d): As a practical matter, it may be beneficial to have the tallying of votes performed by someone other than the Chair (e.g. a Recording Secretary, the Deputy Chair, the Secretary-General, or a teller).
  • 5(e): As written, this procedure is deeply problematic, since it provides no way for a delegate to abstain on a motion without first dissenting from its passage. There are three potential ways to resolve this:
    • (i) Record all motions passed without dissent as "passed without dissent" (or a similar wording) rather than explicitly recording votes for those motions.
    • (ii) Allow delegates to abstain on a motion passed without dissent.
    • (iii) Pass all motions by a roll call vote.
  • 5(f): Having delegates stand is fine if the intent is merely to determine whether a motion passes; it is somewhat impractical as a means of recording individual votes unless the person recording them knows each delegate by name. If the intent is to explicitly track delegates' votes, I would suggest simply using the roll call method for both in-person and online meetings and dispensing with any other mechanism for counting votes.
  • 5(g): I can see arguments breaking out over what is considered a delegate's "given name". It might be better to call the roll in order by chapter name instead.
  • 5(k): I presume that the removal of a Secretariat member will not be the only motion that will require a two-thirds majority; it might be better to rewrite this provision to be a more general one.

Section 6[edit]

  • 6(c): How will translators be regarded for the purposes of 4(k)–(n)? Will a translator be subject to individually being suspended, or will the delegate be suspended based on misbehavior on their translator's part?
  • 6(d): This may potentially be problematic, depending on whether the proceedings are substantive (i.e. only indicate motions and votes) or transcriptive (i.e. contain a literal transcript of delegates' remarks). In the latter case, translation becomes a far more sensitive issue.

Section 7[edit]

  • 7(e): Will the Council pay for delegates' expenses in traveling to the meeting? If not, then any meeting location might arguably cause "severe difficulties" for delegates coming from the other side of the world.

Section 8[edit]

  • 8(b): I assume the items listed here are given as examples, and are not meant to be an exhaustive list?
  • 8(c): It is unclear who will determine the time allotted to each item, and (assuming that the times will be specified by the Chair) whether the assembly may overrule the chair and extend or limit debate on items at its discretion. As before, I would suggest relying on a manual of parliamentary procedure for the intricacies of how debate is to be controlled.
  • 8(f): As in 8(c), it is unclear whether and how the assembly may reduce or extend the time allotted to a particular speaker.
  • 8(g): As with 6(d), this may or may not be problematic, depending on whether delegates' full remarks are otherwise incorporated into the proceedings. If they are not, then it potentially becomes advantageous to not speak, in order to have one's remarks inserted into the record; this is probably not a desirable outcome.
  • 8(h), 8(i), 8(k): See my comments for 8(c).
  • 8(l): If this is intended to be a full list of precedence, it's woefully incomplete; it also inappropriately mixes main motions (1, 2) with points of order (3, 4) and subsidiary motions (5). I would strongly recommend that this be entirely removed—the substantive portions of the first two points are redundant to 2(b) and 3(b) in any case—and a full system of precedence from a manual of parliamentary procedure be adopted instead.
  • 8(m): Is there a particular reason to require that questions to the Secretariat be issued only by the assembly after a vote, rather than allowing each delegate to make inquiries as a matter of privilege?
  • 8(n): As in 8(c), it is unclear to what degree the assembly may deviate from the agenda.

Section 9[edit]

  • 9(b): Is there a particular reason to allow the Chair to arbitrarily select from among the proposals, rather than simply dealing with items in the order in which they're brought forward?

Section 10[edit]

  • 10(b), 10(c), 10(g): Together, these provisions introduce the risk that a majority in the Council might simply delegate its decision-making authority to a committee with substantially different membership and procedures (e.g. no representatives of the minority, no publication of votes, etc.) in order to bypass constraints placed on it by the standing orders. Is there a reason to allow delegation of authority to committees at this point, rather than having them serve in a purely advisory capacity?

Section 11[edit]

  • 11(d): It's common to require a two-thirds (or similar) majority for changing special rules of order; is there a particular reason this is not done here?

Proposal Ziko[edit]

Hello, I am not sure which is the best way, but it seems to me easier to keep an overview if I do not try to directly integrate my proposal into an older one. So please allow me to present this new proposal. It shows that I am not as familiar with the proper English judicial language as native speakers are, I know. Kind regards Ziko (talk) 17:01, 17 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I like the simplicity of this approach overall, and have tried to incorporate much of it into a new draft, which I've presented below. Kirill [talk] 07:06, 18 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wikimedia Chapters Association Council Standing Orders


[Chair and substitutes] Acting Chair of the Council is the elected Chair. If there is no elected Chair or if he cannot fulfill his duties, the acting chair is the elected Deputy Chair. If there is also no elected Deputy Chair, the oldest Council Member is the acting chair and has the only task to elect a Chair and a Deputy Chair and, if necessary, adapt the list of Council Members.

[Election] Every Council Member can be a candidate for the Chair or the Deputy Chair. The candidate who receives one vote more than another candidate is elected. At any time, a Chair or a Deputy Chair can be replaced by a new Council election.

[Deputy Chair] The Deputy Chair assists the Chair and replaces him if the Chair temporarily cannot fulfil his duties. A Deputy Chair can ask the Council to elect a new Chair if he thinks that the elected Chair does not to fulfil his duties.

[Tasks] The Chair prepares decisions of the Council and leads its proceedings, as described in Section B, Art. 1 of the Wikimedia Chapters Association Charter. The Chair makes clear who is a Member of the Council by the list of Council Members.

Work of the Council[edit]

[Tasks] The Council has the tasks as described by Section B, Art. 1 of the Wikimedia Chapters Association Charter.

[Votings] The Council decisions come to existence by votings as described by Section A, Art. 4, Section B, Art. 7 or Section D, Art. 4 of the Wikimedia Chapters Association Charter. The voting occurs in a physical or non physical meeting. A Council Member can cast his vote in a voting only once. A vote that is not cast does not count when determining a two thirds majority.

[Agenda and convening] The agenda of a Council meeting is prepared by the Chair and valid if at the beginning of the meeting it is not rejected by a majority. The Chair has to announce a meeting at least two weeks prior to the meeting. The Chair can convene a meeting on shorter terms only if the Council accepts the convocation at the beginning of the meeting by a two thirds majority.

[Non physical meeting] The Council can make decisions in a non physical meeting. The Chair informs the Members of the agenda and accepts alterations and proposals within a week. After that, in another week the Members have the time to cast their vote. The Members vote on the proposals but also on the question whether they accept the agenda. If the agenda has no majority, all other votes on proposals are unvalid.

[Physical meeting] The Council holds a physical meeting at least once a year. The Chair announces place and time as soon as possible. The meeting is public but non Council Members can be excluded if a majority decides so.

[Acting Chair and speaking time] A meeting is presided by the Chair, or the Deputy Chair, or another person chosen by the Chair if this deems the Chair to be useful. Speaking time is allocated by the acting Chair who can also ask a person to leave the meeting for severe or repeated misbehaviour.

[Protesting minority] The Chair has to convocate a meeting if a minority of at least one third of the Council Members asks him to do so. If the Chair does not comply, the minority can elect a speaker who convocates a meeting himself. Such a meeting can only make decisions if its agenda is accepted by a two thirds majority of all Council Members.


[Establishment] The Council can establish, abolish and alter committees by commissioning Council Members. The Council Members of a committee can byelect and discharge other committee members that are not Council Members.

[Organisation] Committees can formulate their own meeting procedures and times as they see fit, unless directed otherwise by the Council.

[Reporting] Committees report to the Council via the Chair.

Kirill's proposal[edit]

It doesn't seem like there's much interest in revising Craig's draft; so, to mirror Ziko, I'd like to present an alternative proposal for the entire document. This version combines elements from both Craig's and Ziko's drafts, with an overall objective of keeping these rules as simple as possible. The more arcane aspects of parliamentary procedure are simply left to RONR; hopefully, we won't need to use them, but they'll be available if necessary. Kirill [talk] 07:05, 18 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hello Kirill, great, thanks. I do wonder about a national set of rules of procedure (Robert's Rules of Order) mentioned in such standing orders of an international organisation. I would also read more about online meetings. Ziko (talk) 21:25, 18 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've suggested RONR primarily because that's the procedural reference with which I happen to be most familiar. I wouldn't necessarily object to replacing it with a different procedural reference, but I suspect that anything we select is going to be associated with a particular country to some extent; I'm not aware of any truly "international" reference works on this topic.
As far as online meetings are concerned, my understanding is that we're considering something like IRC meeting (i.e. real-time meetings, but online) rather than simply online voting (which would be inherently non-real-time, and would differ significantly from an actual "meeting" because of it). I'm not opposed to having an option to simply have online votes instead of online meetings, or even to have both; but I think that trying to combine the two concepts requires unnecessarily complex procedure (e.g. approving the agenda and the motions on the agenda simultaneously). Kirill [talk] 21:32, 18 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't know of any international organisation doing so, I can imagine that many CMs will consider this... let's say, they will be negative about. / IRC meetings: for non natives it is often very difficult to follow them. On the other hand, I am very sceptical about translators/interpreters. They are very expensive and consume time.
In general, the Council should be a working parliament, not a talking parliament. We have enough channels to communicate and prepare resolutions. It is my absolute horror that the Council meetings will be full with lenghy monologues and dialogues. Ziko (talk) 11:37, 19 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Kirill, my concerns are largely the same as Ziko's. RONR is as good a work as any if we're going to go down that route, but it's quite technical in its language, and to my knowledge has not been translated widely into languages rather than English. Without denigrating the language ability of my counterparts who are not native English speakers, I worry that asking them to follow a 650+ page work written in highly technical language might be asking for problems. RONR is also not used widely outside of North America, it is practically unknown here in Australia and it took quite a bit of digging before I was able to locate a copy (and not in a public library). I suspect that we're not going to find a single reference manual for parliamentary procedure that is going to be widely understood and accepted by more than a small fraction of the chapters forming this body. Craig Franklin (talk) 12:41, 19 June 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
I agree that RONR is a very technical work, and not particularly easy to follow—even for native English speakers—but it's important to keep in mind that it's merely a reference, not a set of mandatory processes. In my experience, 99% of business can be resolved without using truly formal parliamentary procedures; they're only necessary when people genuinely can't agree on how to deal with a situation, or when someone starts trying to interfere with normal activity.
The alternative approach, in my opinion, would be to move away from the more formal aspects of parliamentary procedure entirely. If we look just at the very basic elements, all we really need to run the council are (a) a way to put proposals on an agenda and (b) a way to vote on those proposals; as long as we have those, we don't actually need all of the formal parliamentary procedures, such as orders of precedence for motions, divisions of the assembly, and so forth.
What I think would be a mistake, however, would be to invent a complex set of formal parliamentary procedures from scratch. There's a reason why RONR and similar works are hundreds of pages long, and have taken decades to develop into their current form. If we try to come up with our own system, rather than relying on established practice, there is a very high risk that we'll end up with something that's incomplete, or inconsistent, or unfair to some of the participants, or open to some form of procedural abuse; see, for example, some of my detailed comments a few sections above.
To sum up, my intent is not to promote RONR as a solution to all of the world's problems; my preference would actually be to use a far more informal decision-making process, and to work through discussion and consensus rather than by exploiting procedural tricks and obscure rules. However, if we must have formal parliamentary procedures, then I think it would be better to take them from something like RONR than try to come up with them ourselves; most of us aren't parliamentarians, and there's a high probability that whatever we come up with will cause more problems than it will solve. Kirill [talk] 19:10, 19 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hi Kirill, just drop Robert and trust that there we don't need a rule for every little detail. Let's concentrate on online meetings and how to elect a new Chair technically. And, by the way, can we drop this 'shall'-language? Kind regards Ziko (talk) 13:47, 20 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with Ziko that referring to an outside source is not optimal - especially if it is not online available for free etc. I wouldn't feel very comfortable either if participating in the Council would mean you're obligated (as a non-native speaker) to go through significant amounts of procedural text in English. If it is about content, that is fair enough, but lets not force people to memorize detailed rules please. Effeietsanders (talk) 10:22, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


1. Members of the Council. Each member organisation of the Wikimedia Chapters Association shall appoint one Member of the Council, who shall speak and vote on behalf of said organisation.

2. Appointment of Members. A member organisation shall announce its appointment of a Member of the Council by submitting his or her name in writing to the Chair of the Council and the Secretary-General of the Association.

3. Replacement of Members. A member organisation may revoke its appointment of a Member of the Council by submitting the name of his or her replacement in writing to the Chair of the Council and the Secretary-General of the Association.

4. List of Members. The Chair of the Council shall maintain and publish a list of Members of the Council, which shall state the name of each Member and the organisation each Member represents.


1. Chair of the Council. One Member of the Council shall serve as the Chair of the Council, and shall preside over all meetings of the Council, and carry out such other duties as may be assigned to him or her by the Council.

2. Deputy Chair of the Council. One Member of the Council, who shall not be the Chair of the Council, shall serve as the Deputy Chair of the Council, and shall carry out the duties of the Chair of the Council in the event of the latter's absence or incapacity.

3. Election of the Chair. A Chair of the Council shall be elected at the first meeting of the Council, and on any occasion thereafter where the position becomes vacant.

4. Election of the Deputy Chair. A Deputy Chair of the Council shall be elected at the first meeting of the Council, and on any occasion thereafter where the position becomes vacant.

5. Mechanism of Election. The Chair of the Council and Deputy Chair of the Council shall be elected by simple plurality voting on separate ballots.

6. Removal of Officers. The Chair of the Council and Deputy Chair of the Council may be removed by a motion to that effect, upon the passage of which the positions shall immediately be declared vacant, and new elections shall immediately be held.


1. Calling of Meetings. Meetings of the Council shall be called by the Chair of the Council, or by the Secretary-General, or upon the request of no fewer than one-third of the Members of the Council.

2. Notice of Meetings. The Chair of the Council shall advise all Members of the Council and the Secretary-General of the Association of the time and location of any meeting no less than 20 days prior to such meeting.

3. Venue. Meetings of the Council shall take place either in a physical space or online.

4. Frequency. The Council shall hold a meeting in a physical space no less than once a year. Additional meetings, whether in a physical space or online, may be held during the year.

5. Quorum. A quorum of the Council shall consist of one more than fifty percent of the Members of the Council.

6. Order of Business. Prior to each meeting, the Chair of the Council shall contact all Members of the Council seeking items to be addressed at the meeting and giving a deadline for such items to be received. The Chair of the Council shall then prepare an order of business for the meeting, which shall include such items as are submitted by the Members.

7. Voting. Each Member of the Council shall have one vote on all motions that come before the Council. No proxy votes shall be permitted.

8. Mechanism of Voting. All votes shall be taken as a recorded vote called from the list of Members of the Council.

9. Minutes. The Chair of the Council shall prepare and publish minutes of each meeting.

10. Language. Meetings will take place in the English language unless all Members present at a meeting select an alternative language by unanimous consent.

11. Translators. Each Member of the Council may appoint a translator, who shall be accorded the same status and courtesy as the Member while speaking. Where practical, a Member shall inform the Chair of the Council in writing prior to the meeting regarding his or her intention to use a translator.

Parliamentary Authority[edit]

1. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised. The rules contained in the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern in all cases in which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with the provisions of these Standing Orders.


What does "the oldest Council Member" mean? Does it mean the person that's lived the longest? Or has been editing Wikimedia projects for the longest, or been on the council for the longest? Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:00, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If not specified otherwise, it is the oldest CM by age. Do think it is necessary to explain that? (Who would come up with the first edit?) What wording would be the best in English? Ziko (talk) 18:15, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I think the text does need expanding to make that clear. I'm a bit surprised at that choice, though, since it's not obvious to me why it should be the oldest person - e.g. you might find that the youngest person has the most energy to expend on putting together the election. ;-) But I guess it's effectively a determination of a random choice... Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:20, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Parliamentary tradition in Germany; see here. It is an easy way to figure out who should do such a basic task. Ziko (talk) 18:37, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I suppose the oldest works; the youngest usually is not familiar with parliamentary procedure. In some places anyone who is willing and able can perform the function. Eclecticology (talk) 09:19, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Secret ballots?[edit]

"If at least three Council Members request it, the vote (ballot) is secret. The decision to vote in a secret ballot must be made prior to the voting." Why should every ballot not be public - are there things that the WCA expects to vote on that can't be made public? If so, then at least the minimum number of requests should be increased significantly, as at the moment there's the risk of three council members forcing the WCA to go against its principles of transparency by keeping everything secret. Mike Peel (talk) 18:03, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I cannot imagine a situation where I would support a secret ballot. This might be my lack of imagination, could someone suggest an example that would be realistic to expect a secret ballot? -- (talk) 18:07, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We cannot know all eventualities in advance. In theory there can be such a situation. One might raise the number or relate it to the total number of CMs present. Ziko (talk) 18:15, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This may be seen as going against a core value that many chapters hold dear, that is certainly true for Wikimedia UK. I suggest separating this as a topic that needs discussion by the Council Members, and possibly a vote in its own right, rather than making this a barrier to approving the standing orders. Thanks -- (talk) 18:25, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, the board members of WMNL are elected in a secret ballot, by the way. Ziko (talk) 18:43, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Elections and balloted votes are not comparable. You may want to compare the fuss there has been over the last year about the WMF board being overly secretive, now we can see they are having disagreements between board members, this has increased confidence in their decision making process. I think this is a good topic for wider debate rather than making a decision on this talk page. If there is no immediate need for secret ballots, I suggest the discussion is deferred, and perhaps made a process to be added later if there is sufficient demand from CMs for this as an alternative vote process. Thanks -- (talk) 19:11, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We can leave it indeed to a committee for charter and standing orders, to be installed later when we will have to reform the charter (possibly) for the incorporation. Ziko (talk) 19:23, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is much to be said for secret ballots when we are electing persons to a heavily contested position; defeated candidates especially can feel offended when their friends don't vote for them. Beyond that, secret votes should be strictly limited to predefined situations. Moreover, for online votes organizing secret ballots could be technically problematic.
I do agree that a Rules Committee to manage amendments to the charter, standing orders, etc. is warranted. Eclecticology (talk) 08:57, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The difference with electing someone within your own chapter, is that to at least some extent, the council members are not just expressing their personal opinion, but also are expressing the opinion of their chapter. I would rather go the other way, and would support a rule stating that on the request of 1 council member, there will be a head count and the vote of every council member will be noted. I do agree that there may be exceptional circumstances where a secret vote is warranted - for example when it comes to very delicate personal matters - but I don't really see how this could end up at the Council though... Effeietsanders (talk) 10:18, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Notice period for in-person meetings[edit]

"The Chair has to announce a meeting at least two weeks prior to the meeting" - I'd recommend changing that from two weeks to two months. Two weeks notice for a meeting of volunteers that could take place anywhere in the world is rediculous - it would either be impossible, or prohibitively expensive in good will (as members take time off work at short notice) and flight/accommodation costs (as people book them very last minute). Mike Peel (talk) 18:05, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No harsh words necessary. It will be usually Wikimania and people will know long before. I don't want have a meeting invalid because of a procedural fault, and anyway, online decisions are possible. How about a month? Ziko (talk) 18:15, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, no harsh words were meant - apologies if they came across that way. A month would be much more feasible. Note that people were surprised that the WCA meeting was taking place at Wikimania this time around, and as such didn't plan ahead enough to send people - perhaps when this becomes a more regular occurrence that will be less of a problem, but it's something to try to mitigate regardless. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:23, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay. Let's make it a month. I'll wait and then make an overall revision. / I just thought, by the way... what if the meeting on Wikimania wants to have a new, unexpected session the other day? Then we would call the meeting "interrupted" ("adjourned"), go on the other day, and only then call it finished. Right? Ziko (talk) 18:32, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yup, that sounds about right. It might be good practice to plan ahead for such a session, should one be needed, as standard, so that there is space available and people can stay around without missing flights/other commitments. Thanks. Mike Peel (talk) 18:50, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One month is better. Besides a general announcement to the meeting, I suggest either personal invitations for every WCA. It would be a more reliable way to make a notification. Salvador alc (talk) 05:08, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Doesn't it depend a lot on the medium of meeting? Electronic meetings seem not to be excluded (unless I oversee something). For physical meetings I agree, but if you want to have an electronic meeting, 2 weeks seems plenty. Effeietsanders (talk) 07:25, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I like the sound of a month, as the rule of thumb. Getting 20 or more council members to do their homework, read up on discussions and resolutions in advance of any meeting so that the meeting itself can be productive as possible, is a lot to expect. Giving everyone 4 weeks, especially if some are not very comfortable with English enough time to ask any questions they may have and think through any answers, seems reasonable. Though an urgent resolution may be talked about and passed in under 2 weeks, a full meeting is a different creature. -- (talk) 07:35, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Two months sounds more realistic for in-person meetings. Depending on where the meetings are held, visas can be difficult for some members. Travel funding should be secured during that period, and that may not be easy for chapters with limited resources. Eclecticology (talk) 09:12, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Another related point: "The Chair can convene a meeting on shorter terms if the Council accepts the convocation at the beginning of the meeting by a majority of the Council". I agree that we should be able to convene a meeting on shorter terms if needed, but we should have a way to decide about it before the meeting. I propose something like:
"The Chair can convene a meeting on shorter terms if SOME PROPORTION OF the Council Members accept the convocation before the beginning of the meeting"
- Laurentius (talk) 09:01, 29 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You're right, but a decision (even about that) can be made only in the meeting, unless it is a decision outside a meeting as described in the later paragraph... Ziko (talk) 15:27, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Broken internal references[edit]

  • "as described by Section A, Art. 4, Section B, Art. 7 or Section D, Art. 4 of the Charter" (C3)

A4 and B7 don't exist. Deryck C. 13:47, 10 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]