Wikimedia Deutschland/Movement Charter Drafts Feedback

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WMDE Statement[edit]

The Movement Charter Drafting Committee has published some first content. It has been a slow process. Yet we think time and patience is necessary. The committee still has a lot of reading and researching to do. Time is needed to give everyone a chance to catch up, engage in deliberation and contribute to the charter. The questions need to come from the MCDC and the answers from the movement communities, not the other way round.

We reviewed the initial content the MCDC produced and make some suggestions below.

General Comments on Process[edit]

We appreciate that the MCDC is beginning to share content. The consultation sessions also are well planned and paced. It is good practice to share pieces sequentially and give communities time to engage with the content, the committee, and each other on these crucial issues shaping our future.

One suggestion to improve the process: When the committee comes upon big questions, the answers to which will shape the direction of the rest of the text, ask the movement. Have the conversation, collect answers, then go back to writing. We should avoid a standard Wikimedia practice in this process: Expecting community members to react to large bodies of text – it will disadvantage those who are just joining the conversation, and it is reactive, not co-creative. The more you can make the process fluid and iterative, the smarter the outcome will be.

General Comments on Outline[edit]

The proposed table of contents is a good starting point, as long as the committee is open to amending the structure over the drafting time. Recommendation 4 charges the committee to address financial resources in the charter, in fact the following are two out of 5 points under decision-making :

  • Ensuring Movement-wide revenue generation and distribution,
  • Giving a common direction on how resources should be allocated with appropriate accountability mechanisms.

In the current outline, it is not clear where these topics will be addressed. There could be a case for making them an independent chapter of the charter. There are major, fundamental questions to be answered before drafting actual language (see pages 25-26 of our report Decentralized Fundraising, Centralized Distribution) about both the generation, allocation and distribution of funds. Who can fundraise? How are funds allocated between growing and established communities? Will there be a solidarity fund or redistribution mechanism? Details can be outlined in policies that are easier to update, however the Committee should not shy away from addressing the fundamental questions that have been lingering in the movement for too long, in the Movement Charter.


Discuss with the committee where the items on resource generation and allocation will go in the charter, and allocate time for digesting research and obtaining community input on major questions.



The first two paragraphs serve the purpose of a preamble – explaining why the charter exists and what and who it governs. It sounds like the term “formal social agreement” probably arose from the need to have something that sounds binding, yet not committing to creating a legally binding document. It is unclear why the fourth paragraph about the infrastructure has to be in a preamble, or in the charter at all.

Missing from the preamble is a reference to the Strategic Direction and its broad aim. We realize that the charter will be designed to outlive the 2030 Movement Strategy, but some context on its origin, and the ideas of knowledge as a service and knowledge equity will serve as the value base of the whole document, and reaffirm the commitment of the movement.


  • Let’s be clear and create a binding agreement, for existing and future legal entities of the movement to agree to by signature and to honor. Remove the term “social” agreement, as it refers to implicit agreements. We are deliberately creating an explicit agreement here
  • Rewrite the third paragraph to clearly acknowledge the independent self governance of communities/projects, and how it relates or doesn't relate to the charter
  • Remove the fourth paragraph
  • Add some language that reaffirms and commits to the Strategic Direction

Values and Principles[edit]


The Movement Strategy Principles are an integral part of the recommendations and result from the merging of the principles developed by each of the nine working groups. Much thought, deliberation and work went into writing these. It is not entirely clear why the MCDC felt compelled to spend time writing new, yet similar principles. Some of them still need work in terms of wording, and could be phrased more strongly (“everyone feels valued”). That said, we commend the MCDC for making these a bit less wordy.

Missing is the principle of people-centeredness, which was very central to stakeholders in the Movement Strategy Process. It is not done justice as a sub-aspect of inclusivity.  Efficiency was also removed, which strikes us as similarly important as the movement embarks on creating new structures and systems and the charter sets the guardrails for these. Missing is also transparency, which is increasingly important for our movement as a way to build trust and participation in the communities, as well as to assure donor trust in the context of diversifying fundraising.


  • Re-integrate the two missing principles from Movement Strategy
  • Add Transparency as its own principle
  • Make the wording strong and aspirational, and more reflective of the values of Movement Strategy

Roles and Responsibilities[edit]


We commend the MCDC for not rushing into creating language, but rather taking the time to gather input, evidence base, and study the previous work and research that has been done on this complex chapter. The listed intentions, if carried out, will help assure an open, intelligent and evidence-based process and product.

Starting with an overview of the current roles and responsibilities in the movement will be helpful to examine each function to see if it aligns with the principles of the charter and the strategy, in particular subsidiarity and equity. However, roles and responsibilities are interlinked with governance (Global Council) and decision-making – especially about funding - so these chapters will have to be drafted synchronously and in a coordinated manner.

The chapter on the Global Council will have to be written after a few major questions have been asked and answered by the communities that the MCDC consults: Will we create the Global Council as the highest governing body of the movement, or will it be a volunteer advisory body to the WMF BoT? These are two fundamentally different paths, resulting in different decision-making structures and different roles and responsibilities among the actors of the movement. Before writing these chapters of the charter we need to know which path we will take. Here it will be crucial to have the conversation with the community before writing in detail.


We are glad the MCDC’s intent is to review “alternative” governance models, although it is worth pointing out that the Wikimedia Movement as a whole currently has no governance model. The communities have their own, as does the Wikimedia Foundation.

We appreciate that you are considering all the work done by movement stakeholders already, in particular, the research done by the Movement Strategy Roles and Responsibilities Working Group in 2019, and the two recent papers published by WMDE (linked below so that others interested in these topics can read):

  • The Future of Wikimedia Governance – in which we present the governance models of major INGOs and distill standards and variables, and discuss the implications for our governance deliberations.
  • Decentralized Fundraising, Centralized Distribution – in which we present primary research on the resource generation and distribution models of eight large INGOs, summarize standards and variables, and relate it to the big questions around money facing the movement as we develop the charter.

We are looking forward to a participatory, iterative  process with continuous conversation and community consultations, thorough research leading to a charter that will finally bring about the changes to keep our movement thriving, open and relevant. Thank you for your important work.

Nicola Zeuner (WMDE) (talk) 12:16, 1 December 2022 (UTC)[reply]

This feedback was also published on each of the talk pages, and is available in German and French as well.