Wikimedia Chapters Association
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The Wikimedia Chapters Association is intended to serve as a central organization for all chapters that join. The purpose of the organization is to promote coordination and accountability among the chapters, represent the chapters on common interests, facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience, and provide assistance and support in organizational development.
On March 31, 2012, the Berlin Agreement was signed by 30 Wikimedia Chapters. By this, they expressed their intention to join the WCA based on the charter decided on in Berlin by the representatives of those chapters. This is the starting point of the Wikimedia Chapters Association. Following Berlin, a number of chapters officially requested to join and appointed a person to be Council Member (CM).
The WCA came ultimately into existence during the first Council meeting in Washington, on July 11, 2012. The meeting elected a Chair of the Council, Ashley van Haeften, and a Deputy Chair, Ziko van Dijk. In a resolution the meeting asked the Chair to install committees for some special tasks. The other chapters, that did still not join, are welcomed to become a part of the WCA. In the week prior to March 18, 2013, Markus Glaser was elected the new Chair of the Council.
In July 2013, the WCA Council decided to accept also thematic organisations as members of the Association. Wikimedia user groups can together appoint one Council Member.
In Wikimania 2013, in Hong Kong, the Chair and the Deputy Chair of the Council stepped down. The WCA is now de facto sleeping.
A Short History of the Wikimedia movement
The Wikimedia movement is the name of an international network. It combines several organisations, wikis and many people linked to each other in different ways.
- 2001, January: The wiki Wikipedia (in English) is founded, by Jimmy Wales and others
- 2003, June: Jimmy Wales creates the Wikimedia Foundation. The WMF runs the Wikimedia wikis ("Wikimedia projects") such as Wikipedia, legally and technically. The WMF has a board and staff lead by an executive director.
- 2004, June: Wikimedia Deutschland is the first chapter, an independant national organisation to support the Wikimedia movement in Germany.
- 2005 In Frankfurt (Germany) the first Wikimania takes place. It became the international annual congress of the Wikimedia movement.
- 2012, April: The WMF Chapters Committee becomes the WMF Affiliations Committee and invites Wikimedians to establish thematic organizations and user groups.
- 2012, July: The Wikimedia Chapters Association is established during Wikimania in Washington.
The WCA is not yet legally incorporated, but exists because of the actions and beliefs of chapters and individuals. An incorporation (or, registration) according to the law of a particular country will follow soon.
The WCA is based on Wikimedia organizations, both chapters and thematic organizations. They are legally independent organizations, usually with individual persons as members. A chapter unites the persons interested in Wikimedia issues in a specific country (or in the United States, a part of a country). From the 39 Wikimedia chapters that currently exist, 26 have joined the WCA.
These organizations are allowed to use the expression 'Wikimedia' because of an agreement, signed between the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) and a particular organization. A national organization that wants to become a chapter approaches the Affiliations Committee; if the organization meets the requirements, then the Committee makes a recommendation to the Board of Trustees of the WMF. The final decision is up to that Board. It is the WMF that recognizes chapters because the WMF has the trademark rights concerning the expressions 'Wikimedia', 'Wikipedia' etc.
The WMF has decided not to have individual members or legal subsidiaries of its own. Wikimedia chapters and thematic organizations are legally independent. If something should happen such as a devastating law suit against the WMF, then only the ten board members will be hold responsible. There have been many signals that the WMF thinks positive about an international organization for the chapters.
How can a Wikimedia organization join?
Every Wikimedia chapter and thematic organization can join the WCA. It must express this wish itself; being a Wikimedia organization does not make you automatically a WCA member organization. After joining, the Wikimedia organization is (also) a WCA member organization.
A Wikimedia organization that joined the WCA has to respect the WCA Charter. Up to now, there are no obligations such as a fee. A member chapter has the right to appoint one member of the WCA Council. The page about Membership explains the procedure.
A member chapter does not have to appoint a Council Member (immediately), but not appointing can be seen as a sign that the chapter may be not ready to join. Appointing is not only a way for the chapter to have an influence on the WCA - it also means that the chapter provides the WCA with a valuable collaborator.
A member organization can leave the WCA; this should be announced by the board of that chapter to the Chair of the Council. According to the Charter, the Council can (by a two thirds majority) exclude an organization from the WCA.
What is the status of the Council Members?
The Council is the most important organ of the WCA. It consists of the Council Members (CM); every CM has one vote in the Council. The CMs are appointed by the member chapters; one Council Member per member chapter. A Council Member serves as an individual. He may have a position in a Wikimedia organization, or not; as a Council Member he operates under his real life name. Nobody can order a CM how to vote, even not the organization that appointed him.
The appointment occurs for a term of two years. The CM loses his Council membership:
- if he resigns;
- if a two thirds majority of the Council removes him for severe misconduct;
- if, after the two years, he is not re-appointed;
- if the organization that appointed him replaces him by another person;
- if the organization that appointed him leaves the WCA.
This means that an organization cannot simply deseat the CM it appointed. It must present immediately a new CM to replace him. In general, it is in the interest of the CMs, the organizations and the WCA in total that a CM serves for the whole term. A CM should build up experience and make friends with the other CMs.
A Council Member and the chapter that appoints him should make clear what they expect from each other. A Council Member usually is supposed to inform the chapter about what happens in the WCA, and listen to the chapter. An organization should be supportive to the CM it appointed and help him to inform the organization's members and give feedback.
Where does the money come from and where is it going to?
At the current time, the WCA has no budget. The budget committee will present a budget, maybe a simple one for early review, while working on a detailed one. The Council will vote on the budget. In line with the Charter, the amount to be given by each organization, will rely on their plan, so that the WCA costs are reasonable to each organization.
Some member organizations have announced that they would like to support the WCA with (smaller) sums. More substantial sums would have to be part of the chapter budgets. Possibly the new FDC will support the WCA directly or indirectly.
The WCA will need money mainly to pay officials to perform its tasks and / or support the volunteers. Until now, the travel expenses of the CMs are paid usually by the organizations. The meetings happen at conventions such as Wikimania that already exist for a longer time. In future, the WCA might pay some of these costs.
- Chapters Council, documenting the pre-Berlin history