Jump to content

Wikimedia Chapters Association/Meetings/2013-07

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki


Full proposed agenda and logistics: Wikimedia Chapters Association/Meetings/2013-07/Agenda.

  • Fae (Ashley Van Haeften), WCAC Chair & WMUK CM
  • Michał Buczyński, WMPL CM
  • Laurentius (Lorenzo Losa), WMIT CM
  • Ziko van Dijk, WCAC Deputy Chair & WMNL CM
  • Markus Glaser, WMDE CM
  • Manuel Schneider, WMAT CM
  • Deryck Chan (Saturday), WMHK CM
  • Alice (Saturday), WMF Trustee
  • Jan-Bart (Saturday from 11am), WMF Trustee
Virtual attendees
  • Raul Veede (Oop), WMEE CM
  • Itzik Edri (Saturday), WMIL CM
  • Charles Andrès, WMCH CM
  • Andrii Bondarenko, WMUA CM
  • Richard Knipel WMUS-NY CM
  • Nicole Ebber, WMDE Staff (International Affairs)
  • Leutha, WMUK member (Education Committee)
  • Richard Nevell, WMUK Staff
  • Chris Keating (Saturday lunchtime), WMUK Chair
Virtual observers
  • Gregory (Varnent), AffCom & Wikimedia LGBT
  • Bence, AffCom

Full details for Council Members can be found at Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Membership.


This is a working meeting and workshop rather than a Wikimedia Chapters Association Council meeting. Therefore we can create actions and make recommendations, but resolutions would need to go back to the Council.

Minutes (Saturday 16th February 2013)[edit]

Alice and Nicole are invited to speak any-time during the meeting.

The Agenda for the day was discussed and agreed at the start of the meeting.

The minutes here were created live on etherpad by multiple contributors. Rather than brief minutes, they capture much of the workshop nature of the meeting and are a useful reference for the evolving thoughts and conclusions of group discussion.

Session 1: Feedback, themes, priorities[edit]


Ziko summarized the results from the advance questionnaire to Council members: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Chapters_Association/Meetings/2013-07/Questionnaire

  • Nicole: What does it mean to rely on Chapters' support (I thought the WCA is built upon chapters' support anyway)?
  • Ziko: not only financial, but with their knowledge.
  • Markus:
It is clear we have now stopped the SG recruitment.
We also want to get on with delivering outcomes.
Heavy reform includes the set up, including pausing incorporation.
  • Fae: Incorporation now is, at a minimum, paused. There is no need to reverse or cancel the resolution to incorporate WCA because we might reconsider in 6 months time and then avoid the expense of running another resolution.
  • Manuel: We need an action.
  • Nicole: There's still the issue with the bylaws.
  • Fae: we can reconsider this in case we need it.
  • Michail: WMPL cannot join another organisation anyway. So being a "non-incorporated" organisation will be of advantage. We can operate officially without incorporation through mutual agreements between chapters. Staff, and resources can be pooled from chapters through a mutual budget. Partnering organizations can allocate resources for agreed activities (e.g. work of their members or an employee, expertise, money; like 1 org sponsoring catering, 2nd print outs, 3rd gives their facility for free - to create shared initiatives and have stronger voice sharing of minds). In this way you don't even need an official budget or an employee to cooperate.
  • Manuel: Incorporation was needed to hire someone. Now we are not hiring, we do not need the incorporation right now. Do some real work first, and then see if there's the need to hire someone.
  • Deryck: we don't need to hire someone as WCA, but we can do it via chapters.
  • Fae: The GLAMtoolset project can be an example of how to organize without incorporated structures. WCA serves as an umbrella/coordinator.
  • Fae: WMUK wants to see clear results in 6 months. Otherwise support will be reconsidered.
  • Markus: WMDE thinks similar. The conference in Milan [April] will be a major milestone.
  • Charles: The question hasn't been discussed for the moment, but in the absence of important evolution of the WCA, the question will be voted on during our next [General Assembly] at the end of April (post after the discussion).

ACTION 1: Pause incorporation. Fae to note on resolution status.

Done See Wikimedia Chapters Association/Election committee timeline.

ACTION 2: Stop SG search. Fae to note on resolution status.


  • Ziko: is communication a problem? We can't use Wikimedia-l because not everyone is there, and it is a heavy traffic list not everyone likes.
  • Ziko proposes a monthly report, the original proposal was 'bulletin'.
  • Markus: monthly reports help to get over language barrier because it only takes one volunteer to get the report to an extra language community.
  • Ziko: [The bulletin would summarize] what is going on, what are the plans.
  • Nicole: We should also discuss publicly in a way that people will be able to give feedback.
  • Markus: practical problem with discussing on meta is that there are too many discussions springing up on different pages which makes the watchlist an insufficient method of following them.
  • Manuel: agree with the idea of a report. Who's going to do it? We should use mail-redirects. There's an announcement list wca-announce to reach out to council members. It's moderated, so no discussion will take place there. Discussion should take place on wikimedia-l; working documents written on meta. Monthly reports summarise them.
  • Alice: we should not overestimate the communication thing. This is an issue every organisation has. Closed lists are appropriate for discussion to be able to speak frankly. At the same time it is necessary to communicate with the outside. Don't reinvent the communication in the wikimedia universe. Communication issues are not the only concerns the board has. Focus on what the real work and tasks of the WCA
  • Fæ: there's a difference between work in progress versus results. There are merits to closed discussions, but there are important documents which should be in public as early as possible. Council members should be prepared to speak no just for themselves, but their chapter, and the chapters association, and stand behind what they say as part of their commitment as a Council member. Ideally as many emails as possible should be public at the beginning of any discussion.
  • Deryck: don't make everything public but make everyone aware that we should move the discussion to public lists.
  • Ziko: We need to discuss this in the scope of tasks for council members which is scheduled tomorrow.
  • Fae: are there any other outcomes of the discussion.

Post discussion: Charles: The communication so far hasn't been public enough, but outsider overestimate the amount of "private" discussion and their scope, most of them were really about details

Position of the Foundation[edit]

  • Deryck's perception of the Board's letter: The Foundation is very PR aware. The Foundation might want to prevent PR disasters by cutting the support for an organisation. Is that the appropriate way? How does this fit with our ethos? How can we carry this on without being perceived as becoming another PR disaster? If there is no prospect of WMF endorsing the legal entity of WCA, we do not need to plan a roadmap to try to incorporate and use the trademark.
  • Michail: Are we officially speaking with one voice outside the Wikimedia world?
  • Alice: It's not only about avoiding PR disasters. But we need to take care about our brand which is a value in itself. We have to prevent harm to the brand, also because it is important for our donors. The reason for the letter was not (only) to prevent harm to the brand. The board is aware that it seems as if it is punching and struggling the chapters with each decision. However we are an evolving movement and we need to figure out what is the best way to work together. That means, sometimes we have to rethink former decisions.
  • Fae: actions of the WMF over the past year tend to be reactive (making sudden decisions in response to actions by Wikimedian groups) rather than preventative (working with other Wikimedian groups ahead of decisions to solve problems).
  • Leutha: A federal structure of the WCA is kind of a challenge to the centralized organisation of the foundation. Two structures open up to dispute, but having those two structures can be very beneficial in the long run.
  • Fae: peer review will be very useful for improving governance practice in the future. The FDC process has helpfully produced a standard way of measuring things for now.
  • Ziko: We come back to the question "Who is deciding on the issues". Who is resolving disputes between the WMF and the chapters? Maybe we need a joint committee?

WMF Board letter of February 4th[edit]

Alice asked to postpone the discussion about the board letter until Jan-Bart's arrival.

  • Alice: The letter is general, because we tried to summarize the board's position as a whole. What the Board wanted to transport is that the Chapters association as it is thought today is nothing we want to support. Don't incorporate, don't think of hiring first. Focus on what really helps chapters. Don't create structure and bureaucracy first.
  • Michail: Doesn't like bureaucracy. But supported structure first: The problem is time. In the internet, the person who has more time wins. So preference for most of the council members is on their work in the local chapters. They are also volunteers, so the have a professional life. How can we talk to other organisations that have staff on an equal level? Problem of resources.
  • Ziko: We do need the structures to make WCA decisions and have legitimacy. So it is possible we need to talk about structures in the near future.
  • Fae: the original letter is disappointing for us, but the criticism is fair. We need a formal response to the letter. Communications is an issue, but the point of the board letter is about outcomes.

[Jan-Bart arrives, Alice recaps discussion so far]

  • Jan-Bart: The trademark discussion was not so relevant to the board - it's Geoff's job (and as explained before: its his responsibility within the WMF, and I am grateful for him doing it:). The problem we're having is the spirit behind the organisation. Focus on how we work together, but not what we want to accomplish. Basically, having a group of chapters organizing themselves is a very good idea. Why did some chapters not join: the WCA is seen to be really heavy. There isn't much transparency of what the WCA really wants to do. The question is: what happened to the organic growth we value so much? Why not start a lightweight version and help argue this organisation is helping avoiding missteps, helping each other, does have a value to the chapters. The power issue was not a question in the board session. Most of the board is really excited about the chapters organising themselves. Lack of communication of topics and the rapid start, were the dominating themes in the discussion rather than power.
  • Alice: We later realize that there were felt lacks of communication because nothing happened in a particular period. Communication is not an aim for itself and the concerns were more than just getting no information. I love the idea of cooperating, networking chapters, for these reasons.
I come from a chapter. There's a lack of communication between chapters as well.
Also, I love to discuss on the same level (Foundation and Chapters), which is not the case at the moment. A one level playing field will make sure WMF can reach all the chapters. Currently with lots of discussion threads, not all chapters can or want follow each discussion.
You want to realize big picture. If you want a competent professional to run the organisation, they can't be hired at €20,000/year. And dealing with these amounts is scary for other chapters and individuals.
We need to go back to the Chapters and ask: What is the need? Networking is important, share with other chapters.
  • Manuel: Let's get on with the discussion, it is repetitive. Suddenly we all agree with each other.
  • Jan-Bart: WCA doesn't need a formal response. Respond with what you do.
  • Fæ: we can have a list of expectations which we can tick off against.
  • Alice: I don't see the benefit of answering to the individual points. It would be better if the WCA gives the expression that they understood what to do.
  • Fæ: We have understood the board letter's comments - it's clear that we will not pursue with an organisation that WMF will refuse to support. We need to decide this weekend whether we want to abandon the WCA. We need to demonstrate we've taken the comments on board and put up a plan.
  • Deryck: What is the kind of chapters association the foundation is going to support? [Fæ parks this question for Alice and Jan-Bart to think about it]
  • Ziko: How will be the communication between the CA and the WMF? The CA does not have all chapters as a member. It cannot be a realistic expectation of the WMF that the CA will be joined by all of the chapters. What are the expectations of the WMF to our role with regard to standards of accountability, oversight, etc. We should evolve this on our way and next steps? What is the communication, e.g. do we need an arbcom for the whole movement.
  • Alice:
First: Make the organisation more grassroots, do not think of this as an umbrella. Start from the bottom and think about what chapters really need and want.
Second: understand why not every chapter is joining; not sure if membership is the best way of providing for chapters. Think along an "emergency call number" for Chapters which Alice proposed some time ago.
  • Markus: It might not be helpful to call the chapters association a "service" to chapters. The served shouldn't be restricted to chapters either.
  • Manuel: membership isn't needed if it's a multilateral group.
  • Fæ: problem with this model is that engagement is limited to chapters with manpower and funding to join projects - case at hand: GLAMtoolset. The Chapters Association is supposedly a way these projects can reach all chapters which do GLAM projects - which is all of them.
  • Manuel: Maybe, everyone who sends a representative is a member.
  • Nicole: Analytics - only half the chapters are member chapters of chapter association; of those only a third are really active (eg. those in this discussion). Others have a council member but aren't really engaged. We need to figure out what the needs of the movement are. We need huge dialogue among chapters and with other movement entities such as WMF, other affiliated organisations and the affiliations committee.
  • Markus / Alice: that's too fast! [laughs]
  • Jan-Bart: there's no need to serve the whole movement now. They'll come if it is interesting enough. Concerning the idea of having a negotiation body, you need representatives (if that's still an issue). There's no need for a secret hotline between WMF and chapters. Have the discussion out there in public view. Governance should still be with the foundation, but the association can help in so many issues before: how to start, what do do, best practices, how to find office space, first time strategy, etc.
Comments with regards to Fae as Chair, that was not a reason relevant to the discussion.
  • Ziko: When we change things, what are the expectations, when can we get back to the board?
  • Jan-Bart: it'll be good to see what you come up with this weekend and go back to WMF to see what'd work. WMF will look at what they can help the WCA accomplish, through public discussions. Sue [Gardner]'s currently spending a lot of energy solving immediate crises which erupt due to a lack of communication.
  • Ziko: It would be great if Jan-Bart can put up these comments on meta.
  • Jan-Bart: board members can make their personal statements but these are best done in private.
  • Alice: there would be personal views of the board members on meta even if there had not been this strong request. WCA deserves to hear the differences in the board. Individuals comments on meta are much better than a 3-sentence-resolution. While we agree on the board statements, board members are not responsible for each other's personal position.
  • Fæ: I do agree the discussion should be open, but we do not agree with the timing. In October [2012] we pushed on with WCA Secretary General hiring because of direct pressure from WMF. Then there were a few months of silence and Geoff went silent pending a board meeting. It would have been far more positive and in the spirit of openness had the WCA been invited to the WMF board meeting to present their progress, then there would've been a timely practical response. If the WMF board told WCA much earlier that this is the letter they wanted to publish, then our organizations would not have fallen into the trap of an apparently adversarial public discussion on meta. I recall the glow in Garfield's eyes [WMF CFO] last summer when we discussed the concept of chapters carrying out peer review and saying honestly to each other what their shortcomings are, in a way WMF can't provide. It would be nice to get back to that level of teamwork.
  • Jan-Bart: For example, Tom Dalton put up detailed reviews of a lot of candidates for the FDC. Had he counselled the candidates before they put up their official application it might've been even better. Same thing can happen here - many of us are paperwork-phobic. Many chapters have a person who does all their international coordination, and others sit together and do the actual work. Sometimes this can be a valuable link; other times no one listens to the liaison person.
  • Fæ: the main problem is commitment. There aren't many volunteers who are prepared to get into it [Governance, coordination, process improvement].
  • Jan-Bart: there's a lot of experience out there in the chapters. Everyone should benefit from that experience
  • Fæ: What happens next? This is an open movement. If we come up with a solid project proposal, getting funding is not hard. In a few months we can have a few peer review reports which can help chapters not to be 'hassled' by WMF.
  • Jan-Bart: it's easier than that - if it's a public process then when someone doubts your grant request or FDC request or report you can simply point them to a previous discussion about the issue and finish the argument.
  • Alice: for communication between foundation and chapters there is a lot of room for improvement. So having the kind of open and public processes gives the whole movement the opportunity to step in.
  • Markus: in such discussions you often end up with two irreconcilable positions. (eg. location of incorporation previously) In these cases you need a decision. That's where I think the council can come in.
  • Jan-Bart: but how many of those discussions do we actually need to make? If different Wikimedia organisations want to do peer reviews different ways, that's fine. Of course we need a mechanism for making decisions like Amsterdam versus Geneva, but these decisions are rare.
  • Deryck: discussing things open: The trolls will step in before there are reasonable proposals evolved. And sometimes they are just not seen although they are public.
  • Jan-Bart: If the trolls scare us away then they have already won.
  • Fæ: If the trolls do turn up they'll be seen for whom they are. We learn to ignore them. For peer reviews, the reviewer and the reviewed will agree to publish only a simple report after a detailed investigation; only when something truly ghastly is uncovered would the review be paused and external help sought. Often we might not want to expose such ghastly findings publicly in detail due to potential for causing more damage that the issue itself. However we should be open about even that process.
  • Jan-Bart: has been observer in FDC sessions. A lot of applications that were cut would have greatly benefited by peer review.
  • Fæ: stuff happens; there will be board members who do bad things and make bad mistakes. We've now become significantly more risk-averse, eg. QRPedia discussions could've been done much faster.
  • Ziko: The framework is important to know how to make decisions, how to work
  • Jan-Bart: Except we aren't like that. If there are things that are mutual beneficial, they'll succeed. We can't assume things will automatically grow organically. There are even things in bylaws which we will look back and think we were stupid. Hypothetical case: What if a qualified Wikimedian offers to peer review another chapter, we shouldn't go and say he must be appointed by the chapters association first before he can review them.
  • Fae: it would be nice to have a reference if a volunteer wants to help out with something like a chapter peer review. In many cases the work can't be done by volunteers alone; it's hard to find a volunteer who will consistently produce a report for you every month.
  • Jan-Bart: We've lots of volunteers who like to write Wikipedia; actually we have some who like writing reports too.
  • Alice: many chapters have like half a FTE who do such work. All those things that necessarily require experience are hard to be accomplished with volunteers alone.
  • Fae: We haven't set out all the themes and priorities but we have intuitively addressed issues, and pushed some down the priority list:
    • Improve communication and openness
    • Go for a more project oriented approach
    • Governance can be seen as a project.
    • Adopt a service orientation
    • Take a grassroots approach
  • Jan-Bart: The foundation is not making demands of the CA, don't try to figure out what the WMF wants you to do, but figure out what you want to do and then see how we can all make it happen.
  • Deryck: we're lost - WMF told us what they don't want CA to be, but not what they want us to be.
  • Jan-Bart: focus on what you want to do first, not what you want to be.
  • Ziko: Could the CA become a Wikimedia user group? What is it, just a cooperation of chapters?
  • Jan-Bart: Why do you want the Wikimedia trademark?
  • Ziko: What about the name. Being a movement entity etc.
  • Ziko: Would WCA be ok if we not incorporated
  • Alice: Why do you stick on the trademark thing? That's not necessary for the whole idea.
  • Fae: there's a council of 21 members that joined a Chapters Association
  • Jan-Bart: if you go to the CA page on meta, there's a logo. so there you are...
  • Ziko: On meta we have Wikimedia Chapters Association. Can we keep it that way?
  • Jan-Bart: Go for it. As long as it is an informal group and does not get official / publicly visible. Incorporation, print a business card, print a t-shirt: do not.
  • Ziko: if we go on as a non-registered association, is it ok to use Wikimedia?
  • Jan-Bart: yes
  • Jan-Bart: but we are not the boss of Geoff. as a board member, we've already been relaxed about this, but if Geoff comes in and tells you not to, listen to him. Remember that Geoff is protecting the brand for ALL of us, it's not negotiation leverage, its him making sure that we as a movement can benefit from the value from this trademark in the coming years/decades etc.
  • Alice: there was no need of having a board decision on this so far, Geoff is the specialist at the foundation for trademark issues.
  • Jan-Bart. if we were a company, Geoff would be a lot more restrictive. But he is very liberal compared to other legal teams "protecting the brand".
  • Ziko: if the CA would apply to become a thematic organization, could it then use the logo/name?
  • Alice: it will be up to the AffCom to make this decision
  • Alice: the worries we have are not about how to get the trademark. Please rethink more about what is the reason why we are here.
  • Jan-Bart: the rules are not the problem.

[Markus asks to move on]

  • Fae: in the future we would make a statement of what we intend to do, instead of asking for permission.
  • Post discussion: Charles: The question trademark hasn't been really discussed inside the chapters, and their is definitively no consensus about this point, several chapters just don't care about this question, and consider it as a low priority issue

[Fae Calls a lunch break]

Session 2: Expectations, scenarios and timelines[edit]

Workshop on strategy and generating ideas[edit]

  • Fae: Do we want to consider scenarios or focus on projects?
  • Markus: Focus on projects as long as board members are here, their input will be helpful
  • Deryck: Think about projects we can do without incorporation
  • Fae: Lets just talk briefly about 'nearby hypothetical universes' and eliminate some [a general discussion covered the following]:
    • Scenario: Close down the WCA (dissolving the council) - we have established a means of communication between chapters which we aren't proposing to scrap altogether. [Discussed and eliminated]
    • Scenario: we proceed as intended before the as if nothing happened [Discussed and eliminated]
    • Scenario: we reform the WCA. Options:
      • In the next 1, 3, or 6 months do we want to focus on projects, or try to incorporate and get a bank account?
  • Markus: focus on delivering. Do not focus on a time-line for structures, just start doing something
  • Fæ: If we don't have a deliverable project in the next 6 months, WMUK and WMDE will seriously considering withdrawing, which restricts the time-frame.
  • Jan-Bart: if you focus on smaller projects, you will have something to show. Smaller projects are unlikely targets for criticism of "grandeur"
  • Nicole: You can either fail theoretically or practically. [everybody laughs]
  • Alice: it's better to fail practically than not try!
  • Ziko: We need a longer term road map. What do chapters need?
  • Markus: reconsider this question in 6 months or so.
  • Ziko: reach out to Chapters, ask what they need from us and are they willing to support this
  • Markus: use survey to find out what chapters want WCA to do
  • Manuel: have an annual (or more often) review of what chapters currently want WCA to do for them.
  • Ziko: Tried to reach out to Chapters before, but not many reactions
  • Fæ: we [in this room] may feel a survey is fascinating, but most people in most chapters might not.
  • Ziko: The audience of the survey can be beyond chapters, but different groups should be given different questions to respond to, and their responses handled separately.
  • Michal: There are people who want to do international Wikimedia work but aren't in the loop of WCA because they don't have a chapter or their chapter isn't in WCA or the chapter does not care. Or even they are/feel isolated within their own community.
  • Manuel: we can listen to them through the survey

[Proposed action: create a survey]

  • Jan-Bart: Put some offers on meta and see if there is a demand, rather than survey everyone.
  • Fæ: We can do a pilot survey first, then the success cases will lead to future initiatives.
  • Nicole: go beyond surveys and have dialogues with people to analyse their needs.
  • Markus: how can that be done practically? Are we talking about calling them individually?
  • Nicole: ask for professional support, let's do this with paid staff (referring to the FDC process).
  • Manuel: Survey is part of the instruments we have in communicating with the chapters.
  • Jan-Bart: through the FDC we found out you basically need staff help; although there is one person who is very good with numbers on the FDC you still needed staff to do a lot of the work. If you've volunteers supported by staff it can be great (at least the FDC experienced it to be great). Consultants COULD BE a next step, but staff from participating chapters could be as well.
  • Nicole: They can also be consultants from within the movement (e.g. WMDE always hired a programme manager for the wikimedia chapters meeting; Lodewijk, Bence, Harel...).
  • Jan-Bart: if you have paid staff/consultancy, you can expect them to do a certain amount of work.
  • Markus: we need to give the council faces. So it's better to reach out as council members in person. We need to be kind of ambassadors for the WCA.
  • Jan-Bart: Not meant to externalize the network, but at some point you need paid staff to get the work done. Council members should individually use their networks
  • Alice: Just start doing something. You're best at what you like to do. Just make steps, do not try to make huge steps
  • Markus: One of the big problems in, say, reaching out to FDC, is we don't know whom to contact on the FDC.
  • Ziko: that can be an employee of one of the chapters
  • Fae: Offer help in critical steps of becoming an organisation, e.g. "the first employee".
  • Nicole: also consider different paths (volunteers, with staff, grant making, focussed on a certain topic, others).
  • Michal: We have people from different parts of the world and the requirements are completely different in each place.
  • Ziko: a manual for the movement, Wikimedia Movement Handbook.
  • Jan-Bart: hiring your first employee is one thing that's often going wrong. Because you hire for a short term, but the they change their minds.
  • Ziko: Why don't we have a yearbook of the movement, or, the information you usually provide in yearbooks.
  • Alice: we all are generally not good at writing our own history, e.g. who was on the board when on WMDE
  • Nicole: A small project with a lot of positive impact could be to improve the main page on meta plus structure the information about and important for work of the chapters
  • Michail: Assistance with FDC applications seems to be very internal focussed.
  • Fae: WMUK does train their trustees. Also, there's an annual review of the strategy. The WCA could run a training course of how to do an annual review day within a chapter.
  • Markus: offering a series of workshops will be quite useful for that. It is rather easy to set up, can be delivered and we actually do something
  • Fæ: you can buy a formal training course on how to be a director of a company, but we should customise that for our objectives. The aim isn't to have certification, but to give confidence to those who've taken the course.
  • Alice: if you offer concrete benefits, offer something that really helps them (e.g. do this crazy paperwork), that gives a better approach to the chapters that are not so active in the WCA.
  • Fæ: it's logistically quite easy to have a workshop at eg. chapter conference. if we say at least one member per board joins the workshop then it'll also be an assurance to the FDC.
  • Ziko: Analysis of the movement could have two phases.
    • First: Basic questionaire or survey
    • Second. much broader, talk to people etc.
  • Fae: it isn't just trustee training, but professional development. offer help to how to become leaders in the movement. eg. WMF trustees get 2 weeks a year of training to be a WMF trustee.
  • Jan-Bart: board members come to the realisation that they're overwhelmed and need development anyway.
  • Jan-Bart. Use sign-up to these workshops as an indicator of whether people want this. If there is no sign-up after a certain period of time, do not invest much effort in it. Otherwise, you know its worth it.
  • Alice: Find out what trustees do want to achieve with their chapters.
  • Deryck: The right balance of editors and non-editors on a board is important.
  • Jan-Bart: it's good to have contributors on the board, must not necessarily be editors. Having no connection to the movement at all might be difficult.
  • Deryck: We'd rather err on having inefficient chapters who can represent editing communities, than flourishing charities who are disconnected from editors in their locality.
  • Nicole: get involved with the whole community
  • Markus: need to find out how to do this. It's hard.
  • Fae: two outcomes
    • Peer review
    • Professional development (for boards)
  • Jan-Bart: Hiring practices.
  • Ziko: Good practices in communications.
  • Alice: Share experience and best practices.
  • Jan-Bart: transition from an operational (executive) board to a governance (steering) board.
  • Fæ: in that transition you need to lose people from the board back to contributing to projects.
  • Alice: help trustees to make that transition, even so simply as give them good literature.

[Alice leaves. bye.]

  • Fae: 'Developing chapter boards', we can bounce that around at the wikimedia conference.
  • Nicole. how about analysis
  • Fae, that's a step towards the above outcomes
  • Fae: help with annual reports
  • [Markus read out comment from Raul:] From my experience, small chapters could even use help in composing a strategy for development, an outside view would be very helpful to see and weigh all the options. If WCA offered such help, I think WMEE would subscribe.
  • Leutha: people that are going through the formation stage might be the best people to talk to people that go through the formation stage.

[Fae asks for questions from the outside world]

  • Deryck: We should not measure everyone by the same standard.
  • Jan-Bart: every chapter has the right to go on different paths. However, there are most likely common issues that need to be adressed.
  • Deryck: Demographics of the chapter: active editors, charity type of people. We are going to have a very different demographics and skill set than the rest of the corporate world. We need to keep that in mind.
  • [Markus read out comment from Raul]: A certain issue that has to be paid notice is that all such things as strategic development, improved annual reports and professionalization have to be correlated with FDC, otherwise we might do a lot of work and then find out it is not accepted. We can go on different paths only if those paths are financed.
  • Fae: we might have a distinction of what we can get "off the shelf" from what is chapter specific.
  • Ziko: Typology of chapters will be useful.
  • Markus: Common ground: we have the same organisations such as FDC, WMF to talk with. Those are off the shelf.
  • Fae: how can we help chapters with projects such as GLAM? Are we going to supply help with those?
  • Ziko: We should wait until there are a number of thematic organisations, before we think how we could support them.
  • Markus: We've covered governance but not chapter activities or participation. What's our focus? Internal chapters issues, a voice to the outside world, help chapters with activities, participate in conferences as an entity? I suggest, we focus on one or two, but only working on internal issues would be too narrow.
  • Manuel: Have a passive role at the moment with thematic organisations; focus on chapters at the moment. Maybe in a few years we may actively approach thematic organisations.
  • Ziko: we need to document what we can offer so they don't come and ask the same questions over again. We aren't specialised on thematic organisations at the moment.
  • Nicole: What's the relation to narrowing focus? Is there a recommendation of the board on who is helping chapters
  • Jan-Bart: We'll see what we as a movement come up with during the next months.
  • Nicole: so the board of the foundation is also a consultant to engage with the association to find out what it can do?
  • Jan-Bart: We can look for a solution. Once we know what the Chapters Association wants to do we can see how we as a movement want to make that happen. that could mean WMF resources, but don't forget that we have give Sue a clear mission (as a board) to narrow focus and that we try to resist the temptation to increase the tasks that might involve asking Sue to free up resources for something like this, but there might also a peer driven solution. And it currently also costs resources to react to all the different "crisis" that pop up.
  • Jan-Bart: Why not start something like a chapters' exchange, a web page on meta where supply and demand of (free) expertise can match up. You can include the offers of participating chapters of time of their staff or whatever. And it does give you a lot of insight into what chapters really want.
  • Nicole: Maybe a "tandem"?
  • Jan-Bart: on the exchange make people physically (as physical as a web page gets) exchange their experience
  • Nicole: Nice example: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:IdeaLab // https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:IdeaLab#idealab-introducing
  • Fae: have a backlog of tasks: shows the need for getting things done. Maybe even indicate willingness to pay travelling etc. for volunteers that want to take on these tasks.
  • Ziko: If a chapter board member is paid for supporting a different chapter, some people can consider that a conflict of interest How to deal with that question. http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Organizational_Growth_%26_Development_Network
  • Fæ: UK charity rules would forbid him from getting paid for Wikimedia related consulting.
  • Jan-Bart: but its a simple exchange, in which people can ask/offer and make an agreement between the two of them, that would be far removed from a conflict of interest.
  • Markus: take this as a chance and give guidelines on how to cope with conflicts of interest
  • Fae: a place to go when you're seeking experience or want to share experience.
  • Nicole: "exchange" assume two-direction. Even big chapters can learn from the boldness of small chapters. Big chapters become goal-oriented. Small chapter can inspire big chapters to join new initiatives.
  • Ziko: the language barrier might be a problem in peer review. If necessary, an interpreter should be hired
  • Ziko: If we help a group to create a chapter, are they sustainable on their own?
  • Markus: Can WCA also serve as a place for conflict resolution between chapters?
  • Fæ: that'll be a good use for the chapter "noticeboard".
  • Markus: we might use the council to help overcome the differehunces between the "big" and "small" chapters. It's hard to make this a tangible task but it can be a long term indicator of success for the WCA
  • Fae: we might make the task tangible by help forming lobbying blocks for different issues. That might be a theme for the Wikimedia conference

Fæ: we need to wrap up before 5pm; now is 3:20pm, take a 20min break and we'll formulate the ideas into solid plans.

Session 3: Actions, engagement[edit]

Creating plans[edit]

Action writing workshop[edit]

Clustering results during Session 3. This summary will help drive the Sunday workshop.


  1. Peer review
    1. peer review process --> linked to skills and resources interchange
    2. deliver 3 peer reviews of chapters in 3 months
    3. revive the peer review committee aka "checklist"
    4. establish a governance competencies framework (very short document)
  2. Milan conference
    1. WCA on location ("talk to me about WCA", be present):
    2. delivery a chapter board maturity workshop at the chapters conference
    3. trustee development support
    4. professional development workshop
    5. "hiring first member of permanent staff" support for small-medium sized chapters
    6. workshop on chapters role in Milano
    7. workshop on FDC application in Milano
    8. how to not start an organization ("bad practices") in Milano
  3. Meta & Documentation
    1. Make Meta more useful (mainpage, chapters communication/contact persons)
    2. Restructure Meta main page and chapters' area
    3. Establish a chapters help needed noticeboard on Meta
    4. Create chapters' exchange on Meta
    5. Chapter's exchange and dialogue
    6. Set up Chapters Exchange
    7. Skills & resources interchange
    8. Presentation & written material
    9. Handbook
    10. Collect best practices - start with "hiring your first employee"
    11. Write / maintain an overview of what chapters do
    12. Help WMIT convince all chapters to come to Milan
  4. Outreach
    1. Invite more chapters to engage in WCA business (+ find out why they don't)
    2. Make all the remaining chapters join WCA
  5. Communication
    1. Communication concept (internal, external) Transparency!
    2. Facilitation of communication Chapters <-> Wikimedia movement (reporting, translations)
    3. Develop overview of Wikimedia Community -> progress report at conference, by Wikimania do a presentation
    4. Setup point of contacts, eg. WMxx@chaptersass....wca-announce
    5. Set up an emergency contact
    6. FDC assistance, example submissions & framework
    7. Case practise for board members to board members
    8. Successful & not projects an what we have learned from it
    9. Paperwork support network
    10. Wikimedia movement reporting. Even simple assembly of yearly reports. Infographics, summary, insights
  6. Analysis
    1. Create & Send survey once a year and update Meta with new findings
    2. Analysis of situation, needs paths of chapters
    3. Consult with WMF, Affcom, Communities (create a plan/concept)

[Deryck leaves the meeting]


  • Fae: Let's summarize:
    • peer review
    • chapters exchange / documentation
    • outreach
    • communications & reporting
    • analysis and research
  • Proposal: FDC irc office hours. Either be the driving force behind it or join the office hours by the FDC.
    • Jan-Bart will ask if there is already an irc chat on this planned
  • Jan-Bart: do not plan an own track on Wikimedia conference but mix in the whole program
  • Fae: we should have responsibilities for these groups by tomorrow.
  • Markus: ask for help on these tasks in the community and openly
  • Michal: Think about projects we all have that WCA could engage in
  • Markus: the project list is not closed. Even priorities might change. But we need to start somewhere.
  • Fae: we should get back to the original idea / review the goals that were formulated for the chapters' council.
  • Jan-Bart: be bold with regard to the chapters meeting. This is where all our "customers" are. Start to write down what WCA want to accomplish on meta. There will be communication. Dont be afraid of asking chapters for help.
  • Fae: Thanks to all the participants in the virtual world.

Meeting closes at 4:45pm

Minutes (Sunday 17th February 2013)[edit]

The day's agenda was agreed, and timings moved to fit with travel plans.

Review of action items[edit]

Top themes.

Reclustered action items Clusters (reclustered):

  1. Peer review
    1. peer review process --> linked to skills and resources interchange
    2. deliver 3 peer reviews of chapters in 3 months
    3. revive the peer review committee aka "checklist"
  2. Milan conference
    1. WCA on location ("talk to me about WCA", be present):
    2. Help WMIT convince all chapters to come to Milan
    3. delivery a chapter board maturity workshop at the chapters conference
    4. "hiring first member of permanent staff" support for small-medium sized chapters
    5. workshop on chapters role in Milano
    6. workshop on FDC application in Milano
    7. how to not start an organization ("bad practices") in Milano
  3. Workshop series
    1. trustee development support
    2. professional development workshop
  4. Meta (WCA)
    1. Make Meta more useful (mainpage, chapters communication/contact persons)
    2. Restructure Meta main page and chapters' area
  5. Chapters' handbook
    1. establish a governance competencies framework (very short document)
    2. Presentation & written material
    3. Handbook
    4. Collect best practices - start with "hiring your first employee"
    5. Write / maintain an overview of what chapters do
    6. FDC assistance, example submissions & framework/ Common feedback on process
    7. Case practise for board members to board members
    8. Successful & not projects an what we have learned from it
    9. Paperwork support network
  6. Chapters' exchange
    1. Establish a chapters help needed noticeboard on Meta
    2. Create chapters' exchange on Meta
    3. Chapter's exchange and dialogue
    4. Set up Chapters Exchange
    5. Skills & resources interchange
  7. Outreach
    1. Invite more chapters to engage in WCA business (+ find out why they don't)
    2. Make all the remaining chapters join WCA
    3. Be open for other entities
  8. Communication
    1. Communication concept (internal, external) Transparency!
    2. Facilitation of communication Chapters <-> Wikimedia movement (reporting, translations)
    3. Develop overview of Wikimedia Community -> progress report at conference, by Wikimania do a presentation
    4. Setup point of contacts, eg. WMxx@chaptersass....wca-announce
    5. Set up an emergency contact
    6. Wikimedia movement reporting. Even simple assembly of yearly reports. Infographics, summary, insights
  9. Analysis
    1. Create & Send survey once a year and update Meta with new findings
    2. Analysis of situation, needs paths of chapters
    3. Consult with WMF, Affcom, Communities (create a plan/concept)
    4. Information about global Wiki media movement and chapters' activities. Wikimedia Who is who, yearbook, whom to approach, history, chapters' history...
    5. After-meeting idea - a press kit "Wikimedia - Global Movement" overview for Public Relations/WMF/researchers/community with slides and info graphics about chapters and efforts in various countries. (Michal)

Reflective discussion[edit]

Role and perception of the chair.
  • Fae: Yesterday, the WMF board members did not want to publicly voice opinions about me being banned on the English Wikipedia.
  • Ziko: It depends on what is the role of the chair. There are several factors to consider, and it is a question of what kind of leadership we wish.
  • Markus: Talked to a number of key members and they seem to have an issue with Fae. In order to integrate.
  • Fae: there is already a plan to elect the chair before the Milan conference, which has been communicated. This was meant to be after the SG search. We can now announce a new election process next week.
  • Ziko: The deputy can step down if people prefer that. From a practical point of view, the task of a deputy chair is to be there for the case that once there will be no chair, so that he can guide an election.
  • Fae: we should use the chance to talk about functionaries
  • Ziko: the chair can be bold and take the freedom to act. If there are Council Members who disagree they can get another chair elected.
  • Fae: we could have the executive committee or an executive working group to deal with the regular operations group.
  • Ziko: we should not consider the executive committee to be an organ. The chair can establish a group to support him, and be a part of it. That gives it its legitimacy.
  • Markus: if we delegate to the executive committee, how about things that need to be done on very short time? That's now up to the chair
  • Fae: the chair should not be expected to be the single voice for the council. People are projecting on the role of chair the a leadership position, but I'd prefer the chair to be a coordinator rather than The Leader.
  • Markus: If someone like Sue Gardner sends an email to the Chair, then she sends it to the Chair and not the Council. And there must be someone who can answer the email.
  • Fae: That's fine, the WCAC chair can be a front for communications, but you dont expect the chair to make [non-operationsal] decisions for the council.
  • Markus: The idea of an executive committee reflects the situation we are now in.
  • Fae: I'd rather have a "chair" in place. The main criticism was that people were against grand pointless titles.
  • Nicole: is that realistic to have a new chair before Milan?
  • Fae: a new chair before Milan, yes.
  • Fae: it needs to be a two week process.
  • Charles (read out by Laurentius): the chair issue was a problem when discussion were focus around establishment of a Board, for me it seems clear that today most of the chapter do not want to heard about that until we really need one.
  • Charles (read out by Laurentius): let's announce a new election for Milano, and stop talking about administration of the WCA, it was the mistake during the last month, avoid to do it again.
  • Markus: I see no need to wait longer for starting the election process. And only later discuss about e.g. structures if necessary.
  • Fae: We should not define functions today. let it run for a bit and see how it works.
  • Ziko: Support: Form follows function. The chair has the right to initiate the election process, and then we see who candidates and is elected. The chair remains in function until a different person is elected chair.
  • Markus:How about defining prior to the election what should be the role of the chair?
  • Fae: We should not over define in advance the role of the chair. It also depends on the skills of the person what kind of ideas or style he or she has. There should be room to reflect those strengths.
  • Fae: Next week I'll start the invitations for nominations. We can run an election that will conclude within three weeks, in terms of communication we create entry points.

[Action: start invitations next week, Fae]

  • Ziko: how about the deputy chair?
  • Fae: It's an issue only for me due to my en.wp ban. We should ensure continuity.
  • Ziko: will make a statement on continuity. It is for a practical reason, no 'political' background.


  • Fae will make a statement reflecting on the first election process.
  • announcement by February 21th, 2013
  • nominations by February 28th
  • election closes by March 7th
  • Markus: I will stop the SG search. That includes communicating with the potential candidates
  • Nicole: there should be a joint statement
  • Markus: can we sketch the key issues of the statement at the end of this meeting?

[lot of people nod]

  • Nicole: can the chair stop SG search and incorporation?
  • Fae: Due to the nature of the original WCA resolutions, yes.
  • Ziko: There are two resolutions of the Council: Committees (Washington) and Place of incorporation. We don't need an election committee but the budget committee is of course important. Also: *If* we incorporate, Geneva is the latest choice.

ACTION 4: Public statement to cover the SG search, incorporation and election decisions. Fae/Ziko, 19 Feb.

Action teams[edit]

Breakdown of actions.
  • Markus recaps the action clusters.

Proposal by Ziko for Action groups:

  • Outreach and meetings (information about WCA, have input for conferences)
  • Review and exchange (training, support, laisons, peer review, noticeboard what someone needs and what someone offers)
  • Knowledge and Research (about chapters and what they need and want, improve the Meta information, handbook)
  • Markus: If I recap correctly, we want to open up for thematic organisations

[people nod]

  • Fae: what about the Thematic Organizations and Wikimedia user groups?
  • Ziko: We are not actively reaching out to them but we are open in the future. At the moment they hardly exist, over a year we will know more. Anyway under the current Charter only chapters can *join*. The WCA can of course provide support if wanted.
  • Markus: there are at least two issues: doing actions, offering services. that shall be open to everyone. If we want to be the voice for chapters / organisations, we need some legitimacy.
  • Fae: we can facilitate liaisons between chapters and other entities

[Action: Manuel sets up a contact page on meta]

  • Fae: we found the virtual participation very useful

[Action: Manuel recommend a video conferencing system to standardize our virtual participation]

  • Manuel: we need a mission statement
  • Fae: we can set goals from this weekend
  • Ziko: Good idea, the chair will make a statement anyway. In Milan the Council should be occupied with mission discussions too.
  • Nicole: we should mention that the plan has changed, we go back from administration to real work

[we are working on assigning the task items to people]

  • Raul (read out by Markus): We could use FDC-s (and probably AffCom's) input for guidelines of peer review: what should be handled in the review so that they might consider it useful, too. Also, we might want to think about the criteria of the reviewers: not everyone suits for one, and smaller chapters might not always know the background enough to evaluate a potential reviewer beforehand. And a third point is, should there be a guideline for financing these reviews? We can't expect for everyone to pay for themselves (although they may). Chapters may include reviewer's transport etc in their grant applications, but that would mean we have to gain enough reputation in the eyes of FDC to give the money (there's somewhat like a vicious circle here).
  • Ziko: Base the three areas of actions by the kind of actions and the kind of people you can possibly find for. E.g., Sebastian Moleski is great to go to chapters and give advice ('exchange'). But he may not be interested in 'analysis' and write a handbook as such. But he can report to the analysis-group.

There are three action groups:

  • Advice
    • Peer reviews, e.g. WMEE (report in Milan) -- Fae
    • Setting up the exchange: who is offering/searching what in the chapters' world (present in Milan) -- Manuel
  • Research
    • Basic Survey (results in Milan) -- Ziko
    • Collect knowledge about the chapters -- Michail
    • Profound analysis of what chapters want and need
    • Movement handbook
  • Voice
    • Set up points of contact -- Manuel
    • Find a named contact for every chapter and get them in the loop -- Markus
    • Establish friendly contact with the foundation, AffCom, FDC -- Markus
    • Participate in the Milan program -- Markus with support from Laurentius
    • Update the pages on meta -- Markus / Ziko
    • Send out a bulletin on the activities of the WCA until Milan --
    • Prepare re-elections of chair -- Fae [covered by actions above]
    • Have a WCA council workshop in Milan -- Markus
  • Markus: will ask WMDE if it wants to get a peer review

[comments from the virtual world read out to the council by Markus, Nicole and Manuel]

Raul: I can offer one chapter that would like to get a review: WMEE
12:35 Raul: but we'd like to get a clear understanding about who will pay and what documents we'd need to prepare

Markus: Raul: Great!

12:36 Markus: we'll sort out the finances

Raul: by WMEE's books, it should be possible to do our peer review by Milan, if we find the reviewer(s) and try to work the details out ASAP. I suppose it should be also possible to find other chapters for it

13:35 Markus: Raul: cool!
13:35 Varnent (AffCom): *jealous of the coffee
13:38 Varnent (AffCom): fair enough  :)
13:39 Charles (WMCH): Maybe we could think about connecting WCA peer review report and FDC application, the community review period could be a free slot for us
13:42 Varnent (AffCom): out of curiosity - is there a reason it's called "Voice" instead of '"Communications"? I keep having to remind myself that Voice is literal and not something clever
13:45 Varnent (AffCom): is it more "External relations"?
13:46 Varnent (AffCom): Voice" didn't imply to me that it reached out to outside groups - more struck me as "The voice of WCA to WM-world
13:47 Varnent (AffCom): *sorry - didn't mean to bog down - was just curious as I was reading over the notes

[comments from the virtual world for later consumption]

  • This is more a note for folks when they are reviewing these notes before publication than for meeting discussion - is listing "Fae" as the point person for finding his replacement going to open that process up to unwanted and most likely uninformed criticism?
  • In the same line, the actual wording looks like the vice-chair position won't be open to vote!

[Varnent read out by Markus]

Varnent (AffCom): I agree with Fae that a panel style workshop of experienced chapter leaders sharing what they see as a healthy/mature chapter and how they got their chapters there (or on their way there) would add value to Milan and Wikimania for that matter - in my humble opinion - open dialogue based chances to share veteran chapters knowledge is a HUGE value of WCA
13:58 Varnent (AffCom): given the concern about how long it takes to develop workshops - are there conversations happening now about Wikimania?
13:59 Varnent (AffCom): deadline is April 30th

Varnent (AffCom): I agree with Nicole - I think presenting a series would have some value - it would be helpful for those on Wikimania Programme Committee to also know which workshops were intended to be a part of a set of chapter workshops

  • Markus: we need to find a way of branding
  • Markus: the action list is not closed, but a minimum requirement
  • Fae: the project teams shall write a short note on what they intend to do and ask for help
  • Fae. the persons named on the action items are asked to report back

[virtual] Raul: Indeed, WCA workshops in Milan and HK would be nice. (Actually, I have been silent for most of the two days because I agree with most of the results and decisions.)

[read out]

Varnent (AffCom): apologies for not being here for that part - and no need to answer right now - will the survey question writing be open for input? in other words, would someone planning a WM13 workshop have a chance to add a question that may help them plan?
14:09 Varnent (AffCom): or if not open - could it be made available for comment to other entities like WMF and AffCom which may have interest as well? or is the vision that this is very WCA specific?
14:09 Nicole: this should be an open process, yes!
14:09 Nicole: and in the process of creating it, wmf and affcom will be consulted
14:10 Varnent (AffCom): thank you - we appreciate that  :)
14:10 Ziko: yes, keep in contact with me
14:10 Ziko: input will be necessary
Varnent (AffCom): I agree - the Ehterpad worked - to my surprise - better than IRC
14:12 Varnent (AffCom): the Hangout cam was a huge help though - only Etherpad would not have worked

Wikimania 2013?

  1. Research - Ziko and Michal agreed that the research is an ongoing effort. Sth for Milan, more for Hong Kong.
  2. Separate room for WCA?
  3. Request for a blind slot (2hrs) for wca's presentations (to precise later)?
    1. We need to remember about the submissions' deadlines!
    2. April 30th - http://wikimania2013.wikimedia.org/wiki/Submissions
  4. Having a stand/... like Wikimedia Deutschland inin Washington?
    1. I remember being surprised that there were not more chapter booths/stands
  5. I would suggest reaching out to Programme Committee via email with whatever the intentions may be - just so they do not confuse WCA coordinating these workshops as some like "demand" to the programme committee and rather a coordinated friendly effort


There was discussion about etherpad as a tool - great but hard to follow talk and pad simultaneously. Hard to understand everything just reading ether pad.

Michal: I will put down some more details from the notes from meeting in 2 days.

Fae talked through the basics of his final statement - summary of the weekend meeting. Plus - his final say as the Chairman.

Fae closed the meeting @ 2:37pm