Talk:Wikimedia Foundation Affiliates Strategy/Review

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Review[edit]

This is a community review of the progress of the Wikimedia Foundation Affiliates Strategy. This review will be open from 7 February to 20 March. Participants are asked to read the information and guiding questions and share thoughts below or in live sessions.

Live sessions[edit]

Participants are invited to attend live sessions to provide input into this process. These sessions will be conducted in groups and the language will be English. The calls will be supported by Wikimedia Foundation staff, as well as the Board of Trustees liaisons to the Affiliations Committee (AffCom) and AffCom members subject to availability.

If you are able to attend, please sign up for your preferred call time below by adding your signature. You will receive an email with the meeting link at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

Participants are also welcome to request a conversation and share their thoughts during Talking:2024.

Call 1: 14 February 2024 at [edit]

Etherpad notes: etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/WFAS-01

Attendees:

Call 2: 28 February 2024 at [edit]

Please try to indicate attendance at least 24 hours in advance.

Will attend:

Comments[edit]

Please read the information and guiding questions and share thoughts below.

Proposed requirements for affiliates[edit]

Writing here as an individual contributor. While most of the criteria are in line with the WMFs own governance, some seem quite problematic:

  1. affiliate growth - I see no reason to have a requirement for growth. There are many cases (e.g. a narrow scope with limited external interest, a stagnating underlying community etc.) where growth is very hard to achieve and might displace the attention of the group from whatever it is that it does best
  2. Diverse, skilled, and accountable leadership - this does not apply to all affiliates, as some take decisions collaboratively.

Also, the criteria named offline engagement sounds (based on the description) to rather be off-wiki engagement.--Strainu (talk) 18:31, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Strainu re affiliate growth -- we might think of how to better name this requirement in the future, thank you, but it is not only about size, as growth can be also professionally, and even a stagnant organisation can try to encourage its members to grow individually, and do projects better. and try to be welcoming for new users (maybe a new social media channel, maybe better wording on the main page, maybe a mentoring programme for new people to join their projects etc). then, of course, having a better understanding of why the group cannot develop (like a stagnating underlying community) would help to make a better decision with what can be done here to support the group's work.
re Diverse, skilled, and accountable leadership -- this would still apply to some extent; in the case of consensus or general-assembly decision-making, the make-up of the whole group can be taken into account, as even the whole group probably cannot attend all the courses needed for an organisation, some members of the group may be assigned different roles within the organisation, and they might be encouraged to develop their capabilities. Also, even when the actual decision-making is done by consensus or by all members, there are usually specific people driving the work or instigating discussions.
re off-wiki engagement good point, sounds about right to me, thanks --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 20:20, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with Strainu that off-wiki engagement is a more accurate term than offline engagement ("offline (online or hybrid)" is confusing wording), and that growth is not a helpful concept or term here. Perhaps health, vitality, or vigor? Libcub (talk) 01:17, 9 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Libcub thanks for the suggestions! other suggestions we had in our internal conversations were continuity, sustainability, resilence (just documenting here to have all in one place) --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 17:54, 9 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questions about requirements for affiliates[edit]

  1. How exactly is "non-compliance" defined? Who decides if an affiliate is compliant or not?--Strainu (talk) 18:31, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Strainu compliance for the purposes of affiliation -- as of now "monitoring affiliates’ continued compliance with affiliate rules and criteria" is one of the responsibilities of AffCom (per Committee:Affiliations Committee Charter), the requirements now depend on the type of the affiliate per agreements they sign. for example, reporting requirements are tracked here, and this data is usually used when checking if an affiliate is "in good standing" (for example, as eligibility criteria for upcoming Wikimedia Summit 2024) --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 19:51, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Right, but how will the current process change with the new requirements? Strainu (talk) 19:56, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Strainu well, as it is written now in the proposal -- these requirements should be a part of the annual report. it would be a bit more work doing it for the first time, and then just updating when there are changes. the case studies i did for Ghana and Wikimedia Ukraine took me around 45 minutes each to find the public information needed (including updating some outdated pages for WMUA). so i would imagine this as having a unified reporting template / form to fill in only relevant fields (no funds = no financial reporting, etc) --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 20:33, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. Can the WMF state typical expected time and labor costs for compliance reporting, perhaps comparing groups with low, mid, and high resources? The clarification that I want is whether the WMF is designing this as a 1 hour, 10 hour, or 100 hour annual commitment. It is conceivable that for some groups, they will spend hundreds of hours putting this together, and may have several hundred members read parts of it totaling 1000+ hours of attention. This may be time well spent, but I want to know that someone has estimated how much of a time draw this is supposed to be. As a general rule, I wish that the WMF would add expected time costs to all requests to volunteer communities, in order to demonstrate awareness of labor consumption and to set norms for typical labor investment. The problem I want to avoid is WMF expectations that this should take 5 hours to complete, when 50 is common. Volunteer attention and labor hours are scarce and I want them requested only thoughtfully, and with recognition that time for this will take time from other things. Bluerasberry (talk) 14:48, 8 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Bluerasberry thank you for the questions, and for the care.
    what is written now in the proposal would not take a lot of time to fill in – to document the current state of an affiliate, like an infobox of sorts. i actually filled in the two case studies mentioned – for Wikimedia Ukraine (the affiliate i know quite well as a member), and for Wikimedia Ghana UG (just based on the public information I could find). it took me around 45 min per affiliate to fill in that tab; i did ask for some clarifications from both affiliates, and i updated some outdated pages on Wikimedia Ukraine’s site while working on the table, as i wanted to link to them, but even so the exercise did not take more than 2 hours per affiliate
    on one hand a bigger organisation might mean more work… on the other hand they probably have staff, and they probably should have more policies developed already, and then the exercise is just to put the links needed in one place
    i would assume it can take longer if people filling it would want to publish some of the internal policies or put some processes together – but (in my book at least) it will not be a bad outcome, and it is up to them. i mentioned in my reply to Strainu on this page – as the proposal is now, this information will be asked as a part of the annual purporting, and it might take more time to fill in for the first time, but later on it might require only updates, and changes (hopefully for the better) --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 22:21, 9 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Thanks Bluerasberry for this question. It leads me to another question - if an affiliate receives WMF funding is it possible to somehow tie those together to help simplify the reporting burden? The funding reporting is already an extremely heavy lift (the progress report Art+Feminism_User_Group just submitted is 18+ pages) and adding even more reporting seems very daunting for our very small team. --Kiraface (talk) 20:05, 12 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Replying here so that I get notifications of future discussion. I agree, @Kirafaceand plan to take this proposal or any future version of it into account as we think of how to reduce grant reporting for established affiliates. Thanks for linking the two here! RWeissburg (WMF) (talk) 20:57, 20 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  3. What commitment can the WMF make to using this data if the community produces it? Can WMF publish an analysis plan of what it intends to do with this data before asking the community to produce it? I am unaware of much WMF reaction to annual reports currently, and if the process is going to be revised, I would like investment commitments from the WMF to be comparable to the cost to the community. If 100 groups take 30 hours each to produce this dataset, that is 3000 hours. If a trained wiki labor hour is worth $25/hour, then this is a $75,000/year dataset. To what extent can the WMF commit resources to analyzing this dataset in justification of the cost to produce it? Bluerasberry (talk) 14:48, 8 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  4. Can the WMF name 1-3 WMF teams who will also participate in this reporting process for their WMF activities? The old annual reporting processes had years of problems that I think would have been prevented if in-house at the WMF there were people more familiar with what was requested and how it worked. The ideal teams to participate would be those that have higher interaction with the public and Wikipedia community. Bluerasberry (talk) 14:48, 8 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Bluerasberry thanks for your question. there is no intention to make Wikimedia Foundation teams participate in this reporting process; the Wikimedia Foundation team reporting is already sufficient as part of their quarterly goals tracking and evaluation process, which is already more onerous than what is requested here.
    i am reasonably confident that what is requested is reasonable: as i mentioned above, i drafted two case studies to see if it makes sense, and if it is possible to do, and what time is needed for this kind of information. in some cases affiliates would just need to adjust the reporting they already do, for example here quite a lot of governance related information is already presented, it just needs to be structured – a unified form would help read, compare, and make use of the information. but a method of presenting a grants report as an annual report like here would not be possible most likely, as these report have different goals and audiences, and cover different ground (not all activities may be grant-funded) --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 22:25, 9 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  5. Before this begins, can we establish consensus about the audience for this? By default, the audience is only the WMF and we have no established consent that the Wikimedia community is demanding this. I regret that with past annual reports, there was some belief that the process was designed by and for the community, and parts of it grew into unwanted bureaucracy with expensive reporting that had no audience. I do not want to be in a situation where compliance is required but there are not obvious stakeholders who are enthusiastically using this data. Bluerasberry (talk) 14:48, 8 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Bluerasberry I reject the notion that the Foundation needs to get movement consensus before it can require information from groups that desire affiliation with it or funding from it. the Foundation has the mandate to do this, and we are exercising this mandate based, as mentioned, on extensive research, interviews, and design work.
    that said, by default everyone is the audience, as the information would be public and presented in a readable format. it would help the leadership of the affiliate – to see what other affiliates are doing, and check themselves (as these 10 proposed criteria can be viewed as a check list of sorts). it would help the membership of an affiliate – not all members are as active and aware of how things are being done in their own affiliate, so seeing how their affiliate is faring, and being able to also see how other affiliates are doing things – it is a lot already. it would also help communities to hold affiliates accountable. and, of course, it is supposed to help AffCom / Foundation to see the baseline, progress, and if there are common topics or issues to work on with capacity building related activities. this feedback round is intended to check if there are other useful things to check for before it is implemented
    if, despite the thought that went into designing this information requirement, it emerges that it is not as useful as we had hoped, or that something is still missing, we will certainly revise it --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 00:40, 10 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Goals[edit]

"Actively delivering on mission goals, e.g. content creation." seems like it is required to be successful and not be failing. That would incentivize very low goals and discourage experiments. Rather than "delivering", perhaps "working" would be better? Ainali talkcontributions 08:00, 10 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gender balance[edit]

Could you please clarify this aspect?

It's often noted when women are underrepresented, but what about scenarios where men are less represented? For example, I've observed in parts of the Wikimedia movement, committees that are gender-neutral but staffed solely by women at WMF. Does this scenario still align with the concept of gender neutrality?

Additionally, how do we address gender-specific groups like Wikimujeres?

Perhaps shifting the focus from gender to "Diversity Balance" might be more inclusive, encompassing age diversity among other factors for instance, to ensure a broader representation. It parallels the point of "Diverse, skilled, and accountable leadership," which emphasizes a multiplicity of viewpoints. This approach acknowledges that diversity extends beyond binary gender distinctions, aiming to incorporate a wide range of visions and opinions for a richer, more nuanced dialogue not just limited to the men-women dichotomy.

The same definitition "Gender balance" is discriminatory as it focuses traditionally on the representation of men and women, and may not fully encompass the diversity of the LGBT+ community. This is because gender balance typically addresses binary gender representations, potentially overlooking the nuances and spectrum of gender identities within LGBT+ groups. To truly embrace inclusivity, discussions might extend beyond gender balance to consider a wider array of identities, ensuring all voices are represented and acknowledged within various spaces and initiatives. --Ilario (talk) 15:03, 9 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposed trial period[edit]

  • I have a very generic about the reasoning behind the proposed changes. The document states "An application triggers a lot of work for AffCom, staff, etc., and volunteers who want to start working together". However, the proposed changes add more work to a single category: the volunteers. Nowhere in the published documents is there a mention of any discussion on other possible solutions. If there is a lot of work, maybe the process is too bureacratic and adding more work in the hope that some of the volunteers will be discouraged seems like a counterintuitive solution.--Strainu (talk) 18:18, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Strainu you are right, this proposal does raise the bar, and thus will discourage some of the less mature and less organised groups from applying for a recognition. we think this would ensure greater chances of success for new groups that do meet that bar, and it would allow us to support them better, and it would be net reduction in the amount of bureaucracy faced in the Movement. this proposal is not intended to discourage volunteers to collaborate, but actually to try to make sure they can get the support they need for the goals they want to achieve, rather than start doing something extra (like submitting annual reports to receive a chance to get a scholarship to some events). if people want to do something together, they can have a whole range of opportunities to do so even without creating an affiliate: trademark permissions can be requested, pages created, grants awarded etc. if they want to do something together for a long period of time -- forming an organisation might be a useful tool. but might be not -- depends on people, on projects, on a given situation. i understand that investing a bit more at the beginning seems like more bureaucracy (and definitely translates into more work), but if done right, it can help people to avoid mistakes -- or make better ones.
    as a note: this whole page is a place to offer solutions and raise new problems we have not thought about before --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 19:31, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I hope that this will also be taken into discussion at the upcoming Wikimedia Summit where as of now only recognized, compliant affiliates can participate. I do know that the who affiliate gathering model will be changed, but with a step towards fewer but more reliable affiliates, we shouldn't forget about the individuals and groups who want to use the “range of opportunities to do so even without creating an affiliate” but still want to be included into relevant discussions. In my private capacity, with some thoughts coming from WMSUG. Best, —DerHexer (Talk) 16:43, 9 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    DerHexer thanks, indeed, an event including only compliant affiliates would exclude not just non compliant affiliates, but also unaffiliated Wikimedians, however dedicated or interested.
    i think it makes sense to have a type of event restricted to compliant affiliates, where they can discuss aspects of organised programmatic work, share experience with grantmakers, etc. such events may also touch on strategic questions. even then, unaffiliated volunteers may be invited to the event based on specific expertise or involvement with a topic being discussed.
    however, i expect events focused on movement strategy questions that are not specifically relevant to affiliates (for example, the challenge of interactive content being discussed on Wikimedia-l these days, or global on-wiki enforcement of the Universal Code of Conduct) to be discussed at events that are open to participation by relevant individual volunteers, regardless of their affiliation status --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 00:25, 10 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Questions about the trial period[edit]

  1. How exactly will a newly formed group prove expertise, per the new requirements? Will there be requirements of real-name sharing for all the members?--Strainu (talk) 18:18, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Strainu thanks for the questions! i might not get to all of them tonight, but i shall try my best to do it as soon as possible :) re proving expertise: so, for example, if there is a group of users who want to start a user group, and they decide that they would like to start organising editing workshops in a country XXX on Wikipedia XXX, they would need to either have an experienced editor among their group, or have an experienced editor in that language Wikipedia supporting them (now in the world of hybrid being a thing, it can be imagined). as of now this is not being checked when approving a user group or even when approving a grant application. re real-name sharing for all the members -- no, this is not being requested. if there are phrases or words that made you think this as possibility, please tell me, so we can rewrite to make it clearer --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 19:09, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    @NTymkiv (WMF) thanks for the response. The example from the page says "must demonstrate it has expert editors with training experience"; the experience can be either on or off wiki. Since on-wiki experience for a new geo-based group is rare, it implies the experience must be off wiki, and that in order to be proven, real names must be used. Strainu (talk) 19:35, 7 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Strainu thanks, i see, well, wikitrainings are implied here, as when a group is forming in the Movement, it is mostly about the content (thus trainings on editing or content donations through partners) and/or community support (like conducting events) or advocacy of some sort (freedom of panorama, free licenses). i guess adding the word "wiki" to the text might help --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 10:20, 8 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I've had similar thoughts—but when I was reading “Public information on who are the people making decisions. Public information on what is being done to encourage gender diversity.”. When I read this, this implied to me that leaders of the affiliate must know personal data of their members. However, as of now, there are a couple of affiliates where membership starts with an onwiki signature (members will be notified onwiki, on talk pages, through mailinglists, etc.). With policies like en:WP:ANON in mind, such affiliates (including one I am co-contact of, WMSUG; but also CPUG and WCS where I'm just a regular, active member and nobody knew anything about me [if people wouldn't know me from other contexts]) would not be able to answer this questions, simply because of the fact we never intended to collect such data nor would ever do so because of the given policies. Would we have to do membership surveys within our group to be compliant with this or similar points? Right now, a couple of proposed changes strongly implies an association-like, classical-membership-based model which is not congruent to many current affiliates. Please check the current draft about these implications, thank you. Best, —DerHexer (Talk) 16:55, 9 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    DerHexer thank you, a very good point, this needs to be clarified -- of course it is only possible if the people are going to reveal some of their personal information publicly (like in the case of asking preferred pronouns candidates for stewards) or to the leadership (usually a board or some other governing structure). whereas survey is a good idea, it might be too revealing if a group is really small.
    the main point here (which probably needs to be made clearer) is “encouraging actions”, so, when full data is not available, leadership/group can use whatever sample size is available to extrapolate a presumed gender gap and base some actions on that (e.g. if you only know the gender of 20 of your members, and of those, only one is a woman, assuming 20 is a representative sample of your total membership, it is safe to conclude there is a significant gender gap in your group). for example (and i understand that it might be a wild example), get in touch with Wikimedia LGBT+ or/and Wikimujeres, and check with them if they would like to share some information within their membership and circles about, say, the Wikimedia Steward role and how to become one. There is a bigger chance that there might be interested people there (maybe non-admin editors now, who might be motivated to become admins locally, as a step toward stewardship) or bigger chances that people who do not want to out themselves too much by becoming a member of these groups, might be just passively following these groups’ channels and attending online events. a group taking such actions and reporting about them might not achieve optimal results (for example, perhaps an overwhelming majority of the people who submit steward candidacies report their preferred pronouns as he/him again in 2025), or Wikimedia LGBT+/Wikimujeres did not have the capacity to create an opportunity to share such information that year (say, no events, no volunteers to write a blogpost, create slides or videos etc), but a message inviting such collaboration would be enough to show the intent of your group to address the gender gap (and again, this is just an example).
    the proposal is not to judge affiliates on how much progress they make on these truly complex challenges; the idea is to encourage affiliates to spend time thinking about how they might approach them, to experiment, and to share back --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 00:22, 10 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Plans[edit]

The phrase "have demonstrated competence to execute its stated plans" clearly implicates that every affiliate must have plans. If that is the case, perhaps that also should be an explicit requirement rather than an implicit one? Ainali talkcontributions 21:30, 9 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ainali thank you, i think this is a good point. plans (like an outline of why people are joining together, rather than doing things alone) are mentioned in the section of what affiliates should have; also in different requirements as a part of reporting, and when a group wants to start as a group. but it is more like a clear statement of purpose is needed, as plans are smaller, operational sections one lays out to get to that purpose (goal). thanks for prompting us to think how to make it more explicit --NTymkiv (WMF) (talk) 00:27, 10 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Which is the blueprint for compliance?[edit]

It is not clear, once data are published, which is the reference line to state that an affiliate is compliant or not.

E.g. in the case of "Offline engagement", it is asked to publish "a record of regular meetings with a measurable outcome(s), and not only annual meetings"; which is the number of meetings to be compliant? one, ten, 100?

Similar questions can be done for each of point in the proposed list of criteria.--Ysogo (talk) 16:24, 11 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Next steps and other open questions[edit]

Clarification on "leadership"[edit]

Hi! I have a question around "leadership" here. It is not clear to me whether the text refers to "leadership" as governing bodies, or "leadership" as the staff (such as Executive Directors, middle management, etc.). If it's the first one, I don't see much of a reason to require from a member of a Board to be "skilled at managing funds (if it has any)" (while it is desirable, it's definitely not a legal requirement in most countries to have such skills). This might set up the bar a little bit too high for compliance in certain contexts where such skills are hard to come by, or even train. Scann (WDU) (talk) 23:31, 15 February 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]