Wikimédia France/Interview (2004-06-28)

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This is a log from an IRC conversation in #wikimedia on 28 June 2004. Yann answers questions from Tomos about a Francophone Association. The purpose of this page is to share information about local chapters with those who would like to know more.

See also an earlier interview with Aoineko.

<tomos> may I publish the log in the same way?
<tomos> on meta?
<yannf> yes sure
<tomos> sounds great. 
<tomos> Q. I guess there were a lot of discussions to decide to form the 
association, and decide the details of how it is going to be. 
<tomos> But what are some of the more contentious issues that people discussed 
for long time?
<tomos> In other words, what were the issues that people had hard time finding 
a concensus?
<yannf> i would say it's more a question of misunderstanding of what each other 
<yannf> it's difficult to conduct this online only
<yannf> i hope that the meeting we will have in paris on july 4th will solve 
<yannf> there are debates over the aims and the timing
<tomos> I see.
<tomos> Some people thought it was still too early to form an association?
<yannf> i wanted to have an organisation already 6 months ago
<yannf> but at that time it seems nobody was interested
<yannf> now we have a piloting committee with about 20 people
<yannf> there is also debate about the link to the foundation
<yannf> some want to be more independant
<yannf> then there is the question of mirrors in france / europe
<tomos> A lot of big questions, indeed
<yannf> yes
<yannf> but there is consensus about promotion
<yannf> almost everybody agrees that the main objective of the org
<yannf> we are at a very early stage
<yannf> i think that things will get along little by little
<tomos> Q. Do people see the association more or less a branch of Wikimedia 
Foundation? Or is it perceived more as an organization that forms strong tie 
with the Foundation?
<yannf> for me it should represent the Foundation is France, and maybe in other 
French speaking countries
<yannf> at will have some independance in its day to day business
<yannf> the statuts give 33% vote the Foundation representant
<yannf> so practically he/she will have veto power 
<tomos> So, for you, the association should be kind of an official branch, with 
some decision-making power regarding administrative aspects. But it follows the 
policies and goals of the Foundation.
<yannf> yes
<yannf> there was (is ?) a debate over which countries the association covers
<yannf> in the piloting committee, there are people from france, belgium, 
<yannf> and japan (with aoineko)
<yannf> anthere said that the association should be called wikimedia france
<yannf> of course people from belgium and switzerland disagree :)
<tomos> quite understandably.
<yannf> i think that we are better with a french speaking association covering 
atleast france, belgium and switzerland
<yannf> it seems that german people have a different opinion
<tomos> do you think "francophone" is better than "french" because the 
association will get more members?
<yannf> that the german association doesn't cover austria and switzerland where 
a big part of the population speaks german
<yannf> there are not enough people now to have 3 associations
<yannf> one in each country
<yannf> may be later, in a few years
<yannf> but the association will not only support the projects in french
<yannf> but projects in all languages
<yannf> only it area of activity will be limited to some countries
<tomos> so in terms of multilingual orientation, fr. association is not 
different from the german verein.
<yannf> for me, it's "french" only because of practical point of vue
<yannf> it's very difficult to conduct day to day business in different languages
<yannf> otherwise we would have a european association
<tomos> so french association is not multilingual?
<yannf> meetings, reports will be in french only
<yannf> only translated in english for the Foundation
<yannf> when necessary
<yannf> but i think we should help other "small" languages
<tomos> Q. I personally guessed that, if fr. association is only for french 
people, other people on french wikipedia feels a bit disappointed. Is that 
<tomos> Maybe people in belgium and switzerland want to join the association, 
and that is why it is francophone association?
<yannf> but it will be a francophone association, not french national only
<yannf> we already have people from belgium and switzerland
<yannf> members of the piloting committee
<tomos> Do you think the french only association was also possible?
<yannf> not really
<yannf> the project is international by nature
<tomos> Because some of the active participants on french wikipedia is from 
Belgium, Switzerland, etc?
<yannf> yes, and quebec (canada)
<yannf> i wish we would have more people from africa
<tomos> there are almost none?
<yannf> yes
<yannf> it would be very beneficial
<tomos> to expand some articles?
<yannf> as it's now very much western centered (is this english ?)
<yannf> to have a larger pov
<yannf> not only rich countries fron europe and north america
<yannf> i feel other pov are missing
<tomos> I see. japanese wikipedia is similar. japanese, some asian neighbors, 
and western POVs are stronger.
<yannf> i can feel this because i traveled a lot and i lived abroad
<tomos> oh, you are not in france?
<yannf> now i live in france, but i lived 4 years in india
<yannf> and i work in switzerland :)
<yannf> i cross the border daily
<tomos> cool :)
<tomos> May I ask more about the concensus?
<tomos> Do you have any particular idea about how to promote wikimedia?
<yannf> yes that's also the area where i want to do something
<yannf> personally
<tomos> yes? what do you like to do?
<yannf> locally i plan to contact schools, libraries
<yannf> i think the ministry of education and culture may be interested
<tomos> it is a promotion to visit the site and read articles?
<yannf> then unesco and the organisation of francophonie
<tomos> or use some articles in classroom?
<tomos> or to increase contributors?
<yannf> in my district wikipedia is already proposed as a reference in schools
<yannf> we should try to have this everywhere
<yannf> some teachers proposed that students work will be put into wikipedia
<yannf> i think that's a great idea
<yannf> it increase students' awareness and self-promoting
<tomos> so promotion is indeed in all aspects: site visits, use of contents 
outside of the web site, and participation
<yannf> aoineko is on #fr.wikimedia and he is blocked
<yannf> we have about 10 articles on cosmology written by a student as a class 
<yannf> i will have to go.


<tomos> May I ask you about the relation between the Foundation and the association?
<yannf> yes
<tomos> I suppose the association board will make the budget.
<yannf> as i said the Foundation will have a representent in the board
<yannf> will veto power practically
<tomos> 1/3 of votes.
<yannf> yes
<yannf> but yes the budget, and more important source of income, will be 
decided by the association
<tomos> and many of the decisions require more than 2/3 votes?
<yannf> formaly only changing the objectives of the association
<tomos> I see.
<yannf> so the aims of the association can't be changed without the approval of 
the Foundation
<yannf> i had a talk without jimbo about source of funding and we have very 
different opinions about that
<yannf> i think it's mainly because of cultural difference
<tomos> anything other than membership fee?
<yannf> company sponsorship is common is the US
<yannf> but it's not so in france, where government subvention is more common
<tomos> ah. so you were thinking about getting some financial support from 
<yannf> i think that we could get government grants to publish cdroms and 
wikireaders on paper
<yannf> in many european countries
<yannf> and maybe from the european commission
<yannf> and other big foundations
<tomos> what are the opinions on fr. wkipedia?
<yannf> i think that there is no opposition in principle