The Wikimedia United States Coalition is a framework to organize the founding of a strong group of Wikimedia chapters and Wikimedia thematic organizations in the United States, and to promote cooperation among them. Chapters in the United States, unlike existing chapters in other nations, may be founded on a metropolitan and regional-scale level, because of the unique issues of uneven population density throughout the country, and the relative unimportance of state boundary lines. A new research project on how to structure cooperation among the WMF affiliates in North America started in 2023.
Wikimedia New York City and Wikimedia DC are the first approved regional chapters in the United States. Wiki-Conference New York 2009 at NYU was the first live venue at which this framework was developed among aspirant US chapter organizers.
Metropolitan level operations
United States chapters may be founded on the level of metropolitan areas, which are informally defined urban areas surrounding major cities, with a local orientation as community groups. It may be practical to extend the regions of operation significantly beyond the Census definition of the metropolitan area, since many parts of the United States are not in any metropolitan area.
Existing efforts have focused on the participation of those engaging in Wikipedia Meetup events, which is a good way to get started organizing, and it may be helpful for regions of operation to be roughly congruent with the area for which travel to such events is convenient. The utilization of the Geonotice tool, and hopefully other improved geoip tools in future, is a good path to build up such local organization in the medium term.
In areas where the major concentrations of population are not too divergent from state boundary lines (or where population is not dense at all, as especially in the rural West), it may be most beneficial to simply define chapters on a state-level basis.
The regions of operation of chapters will not be strictly defined, but people may participate in whatever chapter (or chapters) it is convenient or preferable to them to attend the meetings of.
- See also: User:Kelly Martin/US regions
Function of the council
The function of the council will be to promote the founding of new chapters, and to maintain a forum for communication among the different chapters.
This might include the organization of community-based nationwide efforts such as the in the example of Wikipedia Loves Art, but on a more regular basis it would also involve joint activities among neighboring chapters in the organization of larger events, and if there is more than one chapter in a state, the coordination of state-level promotional activities.
The council should also explore the issue of how organize local chapters or groups in a coordinated or non-coordinated manner:
- Shall we establish completely autonomous, local chapters (e.g. Wikimedia NYC, Wikimedia DC, Wikimedia SF)
- Shall there be a national entity, with local subchapters or affiliates, that files for group exception with the IRS and loosely ties together affiliates through common purpose? (local units can either be separately incorporated or not)
- Shall there be regional entities with local affiliates? (e.g. Wikimedia Northeast US, Wikimedia Midwest US, Wikimedia Rocky Mountain Region...)
Communities showing potential for new chapters
The communities showing the greatest potential for new chapters are those that have successfully organized multiple Wikipedia Meetup events in the past, or have shown the potential to do so.
- West Coast
- Wiki-Conference New York
All chapters-interested folks in the US were invited to attend and represent their region. We were also glad to be joined by some like-minded friends pursuing their own efforts in Canada, as well as by Free Culture groups from across New England, who have their own experience with national and local chapters to share.
- West Coast WikiConference
Also, check out West Coast WikiConference as a forum for similar regional discussions.
An annual calendar:
- US Multi-Events
It is also hoped that some of this conversation can take place on the WikimediaUS-l mailing list.
Local mailing lists include:
- San Francisco
- Wikimedia minnesota
- Mountain West
The 'Wikimedians Active in Local Regions of the United States' (WALRUS) committee is a preparatory stage of the national Coalition, consisting of a partnership of existing and actively planned chapters (Wikimedia NYC and Wikimedia DC), along with leading Wikimedian activists and meetup organizers in the other regions of the US.
The WALRUS home on English Wikipedia is at WP:WALRUS.
Through this effort, cities across the US celebrated The Great American Wiknic in June 2011 and again in June 2012.
The WikimediaUS-l mailing list is home to the WALRUS committee and related discussions.
- meetings at 9pm Eastern Time, 6pm Pacific Time
Wikimedia United States Federation, Inc
There was in the past some thought being given to founding a legal entity, a Wikimedia United States Federation, Inc. This would have been a 501c3 nonprofit, whose organizational members would consist of all official Wikimedia chapters in the United States, as well as recognized chapters-in-formation groups that have chosen a board and have achieved a sufficient level of organizational maturity. A decision has been made to shelve such a proposal for now.