Wikimedia Israel/Founding

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this is a hisotical page about the founding of the Chapter. It has not been updated since July 2007 and is now forzen.

This page is a summary in English of the discussions concerning the establishment of a local Israeli chapter. The main discussion was conducted in Hebrew on this page w:he:ויקיפדיה:ועדת היגוי לבחינת הקמת עמותה.

Background[edit]

Wikimedia projects in Hebrew have brought together many enthusiastic contributors, who now make up a significant community of free content adherents. This community is growing rapidly as shown in the increasing numbers of participants in the community meet-ups.

So far, eleven meet-ups have been organized in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Herzliya and Yahud. The last major meet-up was held on December 15, 2006, in Herzliya and had about 100 participants. In this meet-up, a decision was made to establish a committee of volunteers, which will study the feasibility and necessity of forming a local chapter.

The Study Committee[edit]

Nine active users in the Hebrew Wikipedia volunteered to join the study committee. The volunteers agreed on a quorum of six people for any meeting. Seven of these volunteers attended the first session, they are (in alphabetical order):

The committee's first session was held on January 12, 2007, in Tel Aviv. Prior to that, a special discussion page had been created on the Hebrew Wikipedia, and other Wikipedians had been encouraged to suggest issues for discussion.

The first session[edit]

  • Deror-Avi offered each participant a copy of the Official State of Israel's Guide for establishing a non-profit organization. A registered non-profit organization is legally referred to as Amuta (plural: Amutot), and this term will be used hereinafter.
  • DrorK brought hard copies of the Agreement between chapters and Wikimedia Foundation, and the Local chapter FAQ.
  • Harel brought a copy of the law concerning the establishment and management of Amutot.
  • Uzi-V was in charge of the minutes.

Questions raised[edit]

  1. Are the Wikimedia Foundation's logos and trademarks protected in Israel? If not, we should hurry up and register the Amuta, as the name "Wikimedia Israel" could be "hijacked". Once the name is registered, if someone applies for an Amuta with a similar name, they would be rejected.
  2. Who could join the chapter? Will membership be limited to Israeli residents? Should we prevent the membership of corporations? Could the chapter reject a membership request even if it meets the basic criteria?
  3. Should we have an additional status of "chapter supporter" rather than a full member? This might be a solution for underage Wikipedians or Wikipedians who wish to keep their anonymity to a certain extent.
  4. Can we limit the goals of the chapter to promoting activities related to Wikimedia's projects in the official languages of Israel? The number of languages spoken in Israel is around 30, 10 of them are widely spoken, but there are only 2 official languages (Hebrew and Arabic). A local chapter might not be able to handle demands to support activities in every language spoken in Israel.
  5. Does the Wikimedia Foundation offer financial support, if needed, for the first steps of the chapter's establishment?
  6. Can we use the Hebrew Wikipedia's site notice or another similar platform for fund-raising or other notices concerning the chapter?
  7. While the Foundation-chapter agreement explicitly states that the parties are separate entities, Israeli law might see the local chapter as the proper address for lawsuits against the Foundation or for other legal purposes, since it uses its logos and keeps constant communication with it. Is the Foundation aware of that, and what is the policy regarding proper conduct in such cases?

For and against[edit]

The "study committee" held its first session bearing in mind that its first goal is to decide whether the creation of a local chapter is a good idea altogether. The benefits gained from this action should justify the inevitable drawbacks. Hence, the session started with a "for and against" discussion.

Advantages[edit]

  1. Ability to manage a bank account, thus being able to receive cash donation and member fees and use them to fund future meet-ups and other similar activities. So far all these activities were carried out by ad-hoc volunteers, using tangible donations rather than cash money. For example, we looked for someone who could offer us a free venue, but we couldn't accept a cash money donation in order to rent a venue.
  2. Facilitating connections with other organizations promoting free education and free content. Such connections were done so far by using ad-hoc contacts.
  3. Supporting Wikipedians on projects under the Israeli branch's scope who were sued or even violently threatened, having published legitimate material on Wikipedia. The nature of the support that a local chapter could provide is still unclear; however there should be an address for Wikipedians who seek help when dealing with such issues. As of now, two such cases are known to have taken place in Israel.

Disadvantages[edit]

  1. Managing a chapter is a toil that might prove inexpedient, especially as the community is quite active in its current informal structure. This view is shared by several active contributors to the Hebrew Wikipedia, most notably its bureaucrat David Shay, who expressed this opinion during the community meet-up on December 15, 2006.
  2. Some tension might get in between the chapter and the community of contributors, if the line between these two entities is not clearly understood.
  3. According to Israeli law, a court might regard the local chapter as the representative of the Wikimedia Foundation for certain legal issues. This might happen even though the agreement between the Foundation and the chapter clearly states that they are two separate entities. In such cases, the chapter might find itself dealing with legal issues that it cannot and should not handle.
  4. Establishing an amuta is almost an irreversible procedure, that is, the establishment process is easy in comparison to the hardship of dissolving such an organization. Therefore we must be sure of the benefits before taking any formal steps.
  5. A previous attempt, unrelated to Wikimedia, to establish a free-code promoting amuta, failed due to disagreements. It is assumed that in such cases the Foundation would not renew its agreement, however it is unknown whether it could protect its trademarks in Israel, in order to allow recommencement of the chapter establishment process.

Decisions[edit]

Overall, having assessed the advantages and disadvantages, the committee decided that further steps should be taken to establish a local chapter as an Amuta, assuming that the advantages would justify any inevitable difficulty.

  • The chapter's bylaws will be the standard bylaws for an Amuta, as recommended by the Israeli authorities, with due amendments with regard to the Wikimedia Foundation's requirements.
  • Deror-Avi, being a lawyer by profession, will take care of organizing the formalities and drafting the bylaws.
  • Harel, being a German-speaker, will consult with the bylaws of the German chapter, as appear on their site.
  • DrorK, having attended Wikimania 2006, will be responsible to contact the chapter committee of the Wikimedia Foundation, and to publish a summary of the discussion on "Meta" in English.

Second Meeting of the study committee[edit]

The study committee, which can now be called the committee of organizers, gathered for the second time in Yahud on January 23, 2007, welcoming Idan, the bureaucrat of the Hebrew Wikiquote ("Wikitsitut") who joined the committee as a representative of the contributors to other Israeli Wikimedia projects.

The committee decided unanimously to take the first steps towards the establishment of a chapter as soon as possible. In order to comply with Israeli law requirements, the chapter's general goals were formulated. The draft was circulated on the morning of January 24, 2007 via e-mail and was awaiting approval of all participants before being added to the formal application.

The committee decided to adopt the standard bylaws (Articles of Association) recommended by Israeli law (Addendum 1 to the Amutot Law), with several minor amendments. The amendments were discussed and drafted, and were published in English on this page, incorporated in the standard articles of association, in order to allow the Chapter Committee to read them and confer its approval.

The next meeting was decided to be the final one before handing the official documents to the proper authorities in Israel.

Third Meeting of the study/organizing committee[edit]

The committee of organizers gathered for the third time in Tel Aviv on February 6, 2007.

The committee discussed the Chapters committee 's comments on the first draft of general goals and bylaws. Almost all changes were accepted and a revised draft was published so that the ChapCom could read it and confer its approval (for the amended draft see below).

Should the revised draft be approved, the committee of organizers will meet again on Thursday, February 15, 2007, in order to sign the official documents of the application that is to be sent to the Israeli registrar.

Amendments to the proposed bylaws[edit]

Following telephone conversations with the "Amutot Authority" and the tax authorities, and upon hearing their advice, some members of the organizing committee pointed out that the approved draft of bylaws was still missing some important instructions. They proposed adding several articles which are not part of the standard bylaws, but are in line with the Israeli registrar's recommendations. They are meant to address the following issues:

  1. Appointing a president who will act as a mediator in case of disagreements. Involving the president in such cases will be compulsory.
  2. Better definitions of the functions of the following board members: the treasurer, the secretary and the chairperson.
  3. Allowing board members to vote via power of attorney.
  4. Securing the right of the audit committee members to attend the board meetings.
  5. Allowing the board to determine the membership fee.

A third draft (here) was written and amended based on the Chapters committee's comments. The fourth draft can be found here, with a comparison to the third draft.

Fourth Meeting[edit]

The organizing committee gathered for the fourth time in Yahud to discuss the latest development in this ongoing project.

Attendees
Absentees

DrorK and Rotem updated the committee about their talks with Delphine, the Chapters committee's chair. The approval of the ChapCom has been delayed, but if all goes well, it is supposed to be broght before the board in its coming meeting in Florida, March 14-18. Deror-Avi informed the committee that the Israeli registrar's approval process may take 4-6 weeks. Rotem is taking a short vacation in the Netherlands in a few days, and she agreed to visit the NL chapter in Den Haag, in order to learn how it works and to meet some people from the local chapter and from the WMF.

Yoni, the candidate for the treasurer position, will start reading and learning the registrar's detailed guides about proper budget management.

Changes to the bylaws - all attendees agreed to change the article which demands a unanimous decision for changes in the bylaws, into a three-fourth majority decision. DrorK suggested that the title of the position described in article G will be changed into "arbitrator" rather than "president" in order to avoid confusion. According to the third draft of bylaws (even in the pre-revised version), arbitration in case of disputes is the only power article G allows, however some attendees suggested that the title "president" would make this position more representative, considering it is meant to be held by one of the senior members of the local Wikipedian community. This issue of the proper title remains pending, but the function itself is as described in the fourth draft.

Rotem contacted the Computer for Every Child Project, under the Israeli PM office patronage. They would like to have a 750M-1G offline version of the Hebrew Wikipedia to be offered with the donated computers. Yoni, Uzi, Shay and Deror-Avi agreed to help Rotem picking the most relevant articles for such an off-line version. The actual cooperation with the project will start when the chapter is officially created. The project also asked about an off-line Arabic version of Wikipedia, but DrorK, being a user in WP-AR, suggested that the articles in Arabic have to be seriously improved before using them in such an off-line version.