Jump to content

What is a Wikimedia Chapter?

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

A chapter is an organization that promotes Wikimedia projects and values in the real world. Chapters are for doing things in the real world. Doing what can be done through the internet doesn’t require chapters at all.

Activities of a chapter


Chapters have, among others, three kinds of activities:

  1. Attracting new contributors to projects (outreach) by contacting them in the real world (Schools, Libraries, Cultural associations, Universities…) and helping them to start editing (organizing workshops on editing Wikipedia, providing paper books on Wikipedia and on editing Wikipedia, providing movies explaining how to edit Wikipedia..) .
  2. Helping to obtain free materials to be used in projects. By reaching agreements with governmental bodies, companies, cultural associations, libraries, and authors to release their works on free licenses. By helping Wikipedians to get access to contents in museums, events, libraries…
  3. Improving the image that society has of Wikipedia by releasing press notes, organizing interviews with media, giving conferences…

Means to do the activities


In the real world many of the things that can be done by a chapter cost money. An agreement to release content may have to be reviewed by a lawyer, to give a conference the speaker has to travel, to organize a workshop a room has to be rented, publishing printed materials is not for free. A chapter has to fundraise and manage money. To sign agreements a legal entity is needed. If activities to be done by a chapter need the support of signed agreements a chapter needs to be a legal person in its jurisdiction.

Tools available to chapters


All those things can be done by any association willing to do it, so this doesn’t characterize a chapter. What really characterizes a chapter is that it is entitled to a set of tools to do this job in better conditions than any other. The main tools of this set are:

  • Using Wikimedia logos to identify itself.
  • Appearing in the Wikimedia Foundation's Web page for press contacts.
  • Being represented at annual chapters meeting to share best practices and experiences with other chapters.
  • Having access to the Chapter’s mailing list and internal wiki where you can find information to better develop its activities and coordinate them with other chapters.
  • Accessing Wikimedia Foundation grants to fund Chapters projects.
  • Participating in Wikimedia's fundraising campaigns.
  • Participating in the selection of Chapter selected board seats of the Wikimedia Foundation.

In future other tools may appear exclusively reserved for chapters like a potential Chapters Council, or WMF staff may be specifically devoted to help chapters in their development and coordination.

Requirements to be a Chapter


Chapters are to help communities in developing the projects. So, the first requirement to be a chapter is having the confidence of the community. To do things in the real world, people and resources are required. So, a Chapter needs a critical mass of participants with the ability to carry on their plan of activities.

If the activities to be performed by the chapter require signing agreements and managing money, doing so without being a legal entity may leave signing members of the chapter personally responsible for those agreements. It is thus an advantage for members to limit that responsibility by creating a registered entity to act on their behalf.

What a Chapter is not

  • A chapter is an entity that neither belongs to the Wikimedia Foundation nor represents the Wikimedia Foundation.
  • A chapter is neither the editor of the projects nor does it have any authority over the contents and the rules in the projects.
  • A Chapter is the legal representative of neither the projects nor the authors of the projects unless it has been specifically and mutually agreed to represent their author rights.