A proposal for a Wikicouncil was made in May 2005 (see Wikimedia:Meetings/May 24, 2005) and Anthere, Jimbo, Akl, Elian, and notafish met in early May to discuss the roles of the council and whether chapters should be represented on it. Over time, the Wikicouncil idea was relaunched a number of time, and in January 2008, Anthere tried to gather a small group of individuals, so that a more finalized version could be proposed to the community.
The Wikimedia Global Council would be a body of representatives for all wikimedia projects who could serve alongside the elected members of the Board, those appointed to official positions, and those from the chapters. The number of members on the Wikicouncil from each project and language sub-project would reflect the number of active users within that part of the Wikimedia community. The Wikicouncil is not meant to be a global arbitration committee.
To be developed
- The power of information exchange between Projects (examples of info exchanged, what is currently missing, inconsistencies between policies of different languages, which ones would benefit from being harmonized...)
- Meta decision making (introduction of what meta is, how it has been working since now, limitations, suggestion of creative a formalized meta body)
As the Wikimedia projects have grown and matured so has the Wikimedia Foundation. Forming the the WikiCouncil is a needed step in order to support the local Projects, to empower their communities, and to help the communication between the communities and the more formal organs (Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Chapters.
what is community in the wikicouncil perspective
Editor: any person with an account at least xx months old, and at least xx edits. Developer: any person with at least xx accepted submissions to mediawiki.
- Wikipedia editors
- Wikibooks editors
- Other Wikimedia projects editors
- Wikicommons editors
- Mediawiki developers
Role of the Wikicouncil
The type of support the Wikicouncil offers the Community is very much dependent on how the Projects evolve. It is hard to predict with certainty which aspects of the Wikicouncil will thrive first.
The council might be called the Volunteer Council
The wikicouncil would have more or less the following rights (to be specified):
- The right to be informed on decisions that immediately have an impact on the community (eg, new partnerships)
- The right of initiative proposals related to a set of topics (eg, Wikimedia America Conference)
- The right to be asked for advice in matters that have a direct impact on the community and projects (eg, such as advertisements).
- The right to be asked for approval to a more specific set of topics (e.g., change of license; creation of new projects; closure of projects)
- The right to define what "community" means in the sense of Wikimedia Foundation board of trustees elections
The right to be informed, to be asked for advice and to be asked for approval will have to be clearly outlined. The Council will provide a more formal basis to the Wikimedia Embassy. It will remain informed of Board decisions that have been made and that are to be made so that it can influence those according to the views of the communities represented. The Council will work to ensure that all the needs of all projects are communicated to the Board, and that the affairs of the Wikimedia Foundation are communicated to those communities.
Foundation decisions, such as changes to the bylaws, have until now happened mostly within the Board. The introduction of the Wikicouncil aims to make these decisions more open, and provide a way for all users to be represented and have an input into such decisions. Other major decisions, such as the introduction of new projects, would also be discussed within the Wikicouncil, following more general community discussion, rather than only within the Board. This gives many people the opportunity to become highly involved in Foundation matters, rather than restricting this to only a couple of elected trustees.
Further suggestions as to the exact nature and role of the Wikicouncil are very welcome on the talk page.
Relationships between WMF and Wikicouncil (questions to tackle)
- can someone be both on wikicouncil and Wikimedia Foundation board ?
- can someone be both on wikicouncil and Wikimedia Foundation staff ?
What Wikicouncil is not
The Wikicouncil will not replace existing community decisions. The role is to supplement the decisions made by the Board, or -according to some- guide and control those decisions (similar to how a parliament guides and controls a government), not to overrule those that are, or should be, made by the community.
The members of the Wikicouncil have no authority over the project they are representing.
Both the Wikicouncil and global arbitration committee are independent of each other; neither has authority over the other. There are areas where the meta arbcom will not stray, but the council may choose to exert influence, and there are things the Wikicouncil will explicitly not have authority over, but which the meta arbcom has direct responsibility on.
How representation is calculated
In an attempt to balance several competing concerns in designing formulas for global representation, particular attention was paid to ensuring the global nature of the project. There is no perfect solution, but the one chosen was viewed as providing the best representation of all projects and communities.
Representatives will be elected per project, per language (eg, English wikipedia, French wikinews, German wikibooks etc...). Small communities may have a rather disproportionate vote as compared to large communities. The intention of this calculation is to reflect a strong voice of minority languages, but not an overwhelming voice for tiny languages. Per project-per language will be called below sub-project. Wikimedia Commons will be considered as one project only (no separation per language).
There will be different levels of representation for different sub-projects.
We propose the following tiers:
- Tier I
- large sub-projects: 3 representatives per sub-project
- Tier II
- medium sub-projects : 2 representatives per sub-project
- Tier III
- small sub-projects : 1 representative per sub-project
- Tier IV
- tiny sub-projects : 3 representatives shared amongst all of them
Exact definitions of each tier are still being worked out on the talk page.
Elections to the Wikicouncil
Members of the Wikicouncil will be directly elected by the Wikimedia communities each year. Elections will be held every year. Elections could be transparent (if so, directly on the projects) or non-transparent (if so, might require tech work).
Qualities of a wikicouncil member:
- able to work out issues with policy and form consensus when none previously existed.