Wikimedia Australia/Constitution planning

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This document charts the objectives for each stage in the evolution of the constitution.

Constitution for incorporation[edit]

The objective of this milestone is to produce a minimal constitution that is suitable for incorporation in the state of choice.

State of choice[edit]

The state of choice is tentatively the state of NSW to allow progress in the drafting of the constitution, but can change if the Wikimedia Australia community finds a more suitable state for the incorporation of Wikimedia Australia.

The state of NSW makes no distinction between rules and by-laws.[1] It is suggested that the rules and constitution be merged into a single document.

Principle of minimality[edit]

A minimal constitution narrows the scope of the constitution to the minimal set of functionality that is required to for the organisation to incorporate and function.

The reason for drafting a 'minimal constitution' is to:

  • Make it feasible for the constitution to be drafted in a timely manner so that the process doesn't delay incorporation.
  • Minimise the potential for introducing loopholes in the constitution that can be abused in yet unforeseen ways.
  • Avoid artificially pre-supposing how the organisation will operate thereby constraining the future evolution of the organisation.

The list of minimal features required for NSW are: [1]

  • Name
  • Membership qualifications
  • Register of members
  • Fees, subscriptions etc
  • Members' liabilities
  • Disciplining of members
    • Internal disputes
  • Committee
    • name
    • constitution
    • membership
    • powers
    • Reporting
    • the election or appointment of members of the committee,
    • the terms of office of members of the committee,
    • the grounds on which, or reasons for which, the office of a member of the committee shall become vacant
    • the filling of casual vacancies occurring on the committee, and
    • the quorum and procedure at meetings of the committee.
  • General meetings
    • Schedule (special and annual)
    • calling of
    • procedure
    • quorum
    • notices
  • Funds
    • source
    • management
  • Alteration of objects
  • Alteration of Rules
  • Custody and use of the Common seal
  • Custody of books

It is important to cover all of these matters because if they aren't then that of the model rules will apply.[1]

Additionally, the constitution will be written to be minimal in a way that limits the possible ways in which each of these matters are dealt with. For instance since the WMA community prefers general meetings over the IRC, then the constitution will be minimal by specifying that only such meetings over the IRC are allowed and all other forms of meeting such as face-to-face, VOIP, and teleconferencing are disallowed. This allows us to concentrate on defining IRC meeting procedures and do it rigorously.

The implications of minimality are that features we'd like to see in the constitution are excluded in the revision of the constitution at incorporation. Examples of features excluded from this revsion include proxy, delegation, branches, corporate membership, alternative forms of decision making (eg. quick or polling), non-IRC meetings, remuneration and spokespeople.

Some of these may be introduced in later ammendments as real demands for them arise post-incorporation. As long as proper democratic decision making processes are in place, future demand for more flexibility can be met by ammending the constitution using these decision making processes. It is important therefore that the decision making powers are fully defined and functional.

Suggested approach[edit]

Draft the constitution that covers all of required features for the state of NSW using the principle of minimality. Document using citations the list of differences to the model rules. Desireable minimal features can be merged in from the Draft Rules, Draft Constitution and Draft Constitution based on consensus documents.

Constitution Future directions[edit]

This is were we describe changes we want to see in the constitution post-incorporation. Ideas listed here can be considered as soon as incorporation is complete.


  1. a b c Rules