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Birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 8, 2011, 8:39 PM

Post #1 of 147 (1948 views)
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Chapters

I have realized that WMF seems to seriously misunderstand the role of chapters. I say this as someone who has always had a somewhat conservative view of chapters to begin with. But underneath the current rift is a serious disconnect between WMF professionals and how this whole program actually works. When I say "program", I mean the actual program work of Wikimedia which is scrolling through hundreds of recent changes in more languages than I could pin on a map. My problem isn't merely that *way* WMF professionals are approaching the Chapters is less than optimal. My problem right now is that reason they are approaching the chapters at all seems greatly lacking in clue.

Decentralization isn't some random choice that somehow was attached to this movement; it is the only way the program functions at all. WMF professionals can't begin to account for the program work being accomplished by the movement. Has there been a recent push to catalog local train stations on the Albanian Wikipedia or is the current trend of work translating articles from a larger Wikipedia? No one knows what is actually going on in all wikis. Only that something goes on. But why does it go on? Because all these people, who could never dream of all being able to speak to one another any more than they could stand to live in one another's cultures, all get a chance to comfortably make their mark on something that seems to matter. And they feel rightfully that this makes them a stakeholder in something that matters and perhaps also feel a little more securely about how much they themselves matter. Recent changes doesn't move because of "the Wikipedia brand", nor because of how "professional" WMF is run, nor because someone that has no understanding of how the program work of Wikimedia is accomplished feels that a description of WMF operations fails his gut check. Recent changes moves because individuals feel empowered by Wikimedia websites. Recent changes moves entirely based of human feelings of worth and power and changing those feelings can make it move faster or slower. And there is one overarching reason people click on the banners to donate $, and that is because they believe donating will keep website live and recent changes moving. Everything WMF does, should be checked against how it either helps or hinders that. And it impossible to both centralize and empower disparate people at the same time.

Luckily most of people chugging along in RC don't really even understand what WMF is. And that was especially lucky a few years back. Sue has made WMF a GREAT deal less embarrassing than it once was. But in some ways the professionals at WMF are so very far out of touch with how the Wikimedia program works that I don't even know how to begin encouraging them to reconsider. Here is a try though. There is a blog called "Good Intentions are Not Enough" [1] written a woman that has done a lot of on-the-ground program work for aid organizations. She talks about the keys to good aid and how the surest way to deliver "bad aid" is to design aid programs around what the donors want. Donors want to build a new school, not fund teacher salaries. They want to build orphanages and they volunteer at them for their vacation, not subsidize poor families who are considering putting their children in an orphanage because they cannot feed them. But good aid is unglamorous and for the most part uninspiring to donors. Good aid makes the targeted recipients feel they are stakeholders in the program rather than charity cases. Good aid is about empowering people much more than funding them. It is not about mapping out and planning an initiative that is easily understood and embraced by donors, it is about supporting those that are already doing things to make their slice of the world better to expand their efforts. Are chapters really these people who are already doing things to their slice of the world better? Not exactly. But they are at least planted in many different slices of the world, which makes them a giant step closer to such people than WMF, and what is more they at least have a decent shot at communicating with such people without disempowering them. I particularly think the post on this blog "Hamburgers for Hindus" does a good job drawing a distinction between "donor-led" programs and "owner-led" programs in a very quick read.[2]

I hope WMF can learn embrace its roots as an "owner-led" organization and not forget what the real program work really is.

BirgitteSB

[1] http://goodintents.org/
[2] http://goodintents.org/aid-recipient-concerns/hamburgers-for-hindus-2
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kirill.lokshin at gmail

Aug 8, 2011, 9:13 PM

Post #2 of 147 (1924 views)
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Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 11:39 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:

> Decentralization isn't some random choice that somehow was attached to this
> movement; it is the only way the program functions at all. WMF professionals
> can't begin to account for the program work being accomplished by the
> movement. Has there been a recent push to catalog local train stations on
> the Albanian Wikipedia or is the current trend of work translating articles
> from a larger Wikipedia? No one knows what is actually going on in all
> wikis. Only that something goes on. But why does it go on? Because all these
> people, who could never dream of all being able to speak to one another any
> more than they could stand to live in one another's cultures, all get a
> chance to comfortably make their mark on something that seems to matter. And
> they feel rightfully that this makes them a stakeholder in something that
> matters and perhaps also feel a little more securely about how much they
> themselves matter. Recent changes doesn't move because of "the Wikipedia
> brand", nor because of how "professional" WMF is run, nor because someone
> that has no understanding of how the program work of Wikimedia is
> accomplished feels that a description of WMF operations fails his gut check.
> Recent changes moves because individuals feel empowered by Wikimedia
> websites. Recent changes moves entirely based of human feelings of worth
> and power and changing those feelings can make it move faster or slower. And
> there is one overarching reason people click on the banners to donate $, and
> that is because they believe donating will keep website live and recent
> changes moving. Everything WMF does, should be checked against how it
> either helps or hinders that. And it impossible to both centralize and
> empower disparate people at the same time.


This is all very true, and very insightful; but what does it have to do with
chapters?

Just about everything that makes Wikimedia projects what they are can and
does take place irrespective of the existence of a formal, legal
organization in a particular jurisdiction. Our putative Albanian
contributors do not wonder, as they write their train station articles,
whether there exists within the borders of Albania a legally instituted
non-profit organization acting in support of Wikimedia principles; they see
themselves as participants in an online project, not agents of a local
charity.

Nor does off-wiki collaboration require that a formal entity be in
existence. Off-wiki activities -- whether social meetups or more formal
outreach efforts to GLAM institutions and elsewhere -- are no less effective
for being organized by loose groups of interested participants. So long as
there is no need to handle substantial funds -- and how much of Wikimedia
contributors' typical work requires such? -- the lack of a legally
constituted organization matters little.

But to take this one step further, let us assume -- for the sake of argument
-- that the activities of the contributor community _do_ require the
existence of a dedicated legal entity in a particular jurisdiction. One
could, potentially, construct a scenario where this is the case; for
example, someone wishes to donate a set of copyrighted works, and prefers
that an organization subject to local laws be responsible for handling the
process. Even in this case, however, there is no requirement that the legal
entity be a "chapter" of the Wikimedia Foundation -- or, to be more precise,
that the entity have in place a particular sort of trademark usage agreement
with the WMF. I can think of no conceivable need that could be filled by a
local entity holding rights to (non-commercial!) use of Wikimedia trademarks
but could not be filled just as well by a local entity identical in every
way save for the lack of such access to said trademarks.

This is not to say that there aren't very good reasons for having these
trademark agreements in place, of course; but the reasons have more to do
with effective brand marketing than with any _need_ on anyone's part.

Kirill
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putevod at mccme

Aug 8, 2011, 10:51 PM

Post #3 of 147 (1925 views)
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Re: Chapters [In reply to]

> Nor does off-wiki collaboration require that a formal entity be in
> existence. Off-wiki activities -- whether social meetups or more formal
> outreach efforts to GLAM institutions and elsewhere -- are no less
> effective
> for being organized by loose groups of interested participants. So long
as
> there is no need to handle substantial funds -- and how much of
Wikimedia
> contributors' typical work requires such? -- the lack of a legally
> constituted organization matters little.
>
> But to take this one step further, let us assume -- for the sake of
> argument
> -- that the activities of the contributor community _do_ require the
> existence of a dedicated legal entity in a particular jurisdiction. One
> could, potentially, construct a scenario where this is the case; for
> example, someone wishes to donate a set of copyrighted works, and
prefers
> that an organization subject to local laws be responsible for handling
the
> process. Even in this case, however, there is no requirement that the
> legal
> entity be a "chapter" of the Wikimedia Foundation -- or, to be more
> precise,
> that the entity have in place a particular sort of trademark usage
> agreement
> with the WMF. I can think of no conceivable need that could be filled
by a
> local entity holding rights to (non-commercial!) use of Wikimedia
> trademarks
> but could not be filled just as well by a local entity identical in
every
> way save for the lack of such access to said trademarks.
>
And just to add to the argument, the projects are divided by language, and
not by jurisdiction. Whereas in many cases it may be unimportant (for
instance, we can safely assume that most of the activbities of the Swedish
chapter are more related to Swedish-language projects, and if there is any
chapter which "caters" to Swedisg-language projects it is the Swedish
chapter), this is not correct for most of the major languages (English,
French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian ...)

Cheers
Yaroslav

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dgerard at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 12:18 AM

Post #4 of 147 (1920 views)
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Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 9 August 2011 05:13, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:

> This is all very true, and very insightful; but what does it have to do with
> chapters?


That the message from WMF is about a decentralisation not working from
their perspective, so recentralising fundraising.

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haebwiki at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 2:13 AM

Post #5 of 147 (1920 views)
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Re: Chapters [In reply to]

Having followed the recent discussions from the sidelines (and
speaking as a longtime volunteer), I found the various appeals to
principles such as decentralization and subsidiarity somewhat
abstract.

Of course BirgitteSB is absolutely correct in that there is a strong
consensus that content curation on Wikimedia projects should be a
decentralized activity. However, the websites where all these global
volunteers scroll through these recent changes are hosted by one
central entity, which also concentrates the legal responsibilities
that this entails. And there seems to be an equally strong consensus
that such a centralized solution is best for this particular problem.
It would seem that most other movement activities fall somewhat
inbetween these two extremes.

Alos, let's not forget that chapters themselves can be perceived as a
means to centralize and professionalize certain activities in a
country or region.

2011/8/9 David Gerard <dgerard [at] gmail>:
> On 9 August 2011 05:13, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:
>
>> This is all very true, and very insightful; but what does it have to do with
>> chapters?
>
>
> That the message from WMF is about a decentralisation not working from
> their perspective, so recentralising fundraising.
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l [at] lists
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

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Birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 9, 2011, 6:43 AM

Post #6 of 147 (1925 views)
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Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Aug 8, 2011, at 11:13 PM, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:

> On Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 11:39 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:
>
>> Decentralization isn't some random choice that somehow was attached to this
>> movement; it is the only way the program functions at all. WMF professionals
>> can't begin to account for the program work being accomplished by the
>> movement. Has there been a recent push to catalog local train stations on
>> the Albanian Wikipedia or is the current trend of work translating articles
>> from a larger Wikipedia? No one knows what is actually going on in all
>> wikis. Only that something goes on. But why does it go on? Because all these
>> people, who could never dream of all being able to speak to one another any
>> more than they could stand to live in one another's cultures, all get a
>> chance to comfortably make their mark on something that seems to matter. And
>> they feel rightfully that this makes them a stakeholder in something that
>> matters and perhaps also feel a little more securely about how much they
>> themselves matter. Recent changes doesn't move because of "the Wikipedia
>> brand", nor because of how "professional" WMF is run, nor because someone
>> that has no understanding of how the program work of Wikimedia is
>> accomplished feels that a description of WMF operations fails his gut check.
>> Recent changes moves because individuals feel empowered by Wikimedia
>> websites. Recent changes moves entirely based of human feelings of worth
>> and power and changing those feelings can make it move faster or slower. And
>> there is one overarching reason people click on the banners to donate $, and
>> that is because they believe donating will keep website live and recent
>> changes moving. Everything WMF does, should be checked against how it
>> either helps or hinders that. And it impossible to both centralize and
>> empower disparate people at the same time.
>
>
> This is all very true, and very insightful; but what does it have to do with
> chapters?
>
> Just about everything that makes Wikimedia projects what they are can and
> does take place irrespective of the existence of a formal, legal
> organization in a particular jurisdiction. Our putative Albanian
> contributors do not wonder, as they write their train station articles,
> whether there exists within the borders of Albania a legally instituted
> non-profit organization acting in support of Wikimedia principles; they see
> themselves as participants in an online project, not agents of a local
> charity.
>
> Nor does off-wiki collaboration require that a formal entity be in
> existence. Off-wiki activities -- whether social meetups or more formal
> outreach efforts to GLAM institutions and elsewhere -- are no less effective
> for being organized by loose groups of interested participants. So long as
> there is no need to handle substantial funds -- and how much of Wikimedia
> contributors' typical work requires such? -- the lack of a legally
> constituted organization matters little.
>
> But to take this one step further, let us assume -- for the sake of argument
> -- that the activities of the contributor community _do_ require the
> existence of a dedicated legal entity in a particular jurisdiction. One
> could, potentially, construct a scenario where this is the case; for
> example, someone wishes to donate a set of copyrighted works, and prefers
> that an organization subject to local laws be responsible for handling the
> process. Even in this case, however, there is no requirement that the legal
> entity be a "chapter" of the Wikimedia Foundation -- or, to be more precise,
> that the entity have in place a particular sort of trademark usage agreement
> with the WMF. I can think of no conceivable need that could be filled by a
> local entity holding rights to (non-commercial!) use of Wikimedia trademarks
> but could not be filled just as well by a local entity identical in every
> way save for the lack of such access to said trademarks.
>
> This is not to say that there aren't very good reasons for having these
> trademark agreements in place, of course; but the reasons have more to do
> with effective brand marketing than with any _need_ on anyone's part.
>
>

You are right that this decentralization doesn't neccessarily have to be anything like "chapters". But chapters happened for whatever reason and no-one is trying to be rid of them. The validity of the argument that chapters aren't aboslutely needed, doesn't make it any better of an idea to keep them around and infantalize and insult them. Imagine how these events will sound as they are be spread through all the people working in RC who might hear of them. By the natural urge to fit it into a story and the unavoidable half-understanding of passing language barriers; it becomes a plank in the narrative of WMF as Imperialism. And that is the sort of story that if built up completely will have a real negative effect on RC.

Funding chapters by grants from WMF so that they all use the money in the same WMF approved way is a systematically bad idea in the same way sending shoes to Africa is a bad idea. Redefining the chapters who participated in a joint fundraiser with WMF as WMF's "payment processors" is straight-up insulting. Writing about ethical concerns while at same time being blind to anything that does not maximize donations is laughable. The obvious solution to the stated concern that is being raised is returning to the split screen fundraiser landing page which has been ruled out for not maximizing donations. The seemingly underlying and unstated concern about wanting to make sure that WMF leads and maintains control of the movement is actually undesirable and should not be pursued.

BirgitteSB
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kirill.lokshin at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 7:27 AM

Post #7 of 147 (1911 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 9:43 AM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:

> You are right that this decentralization doesn't neccessarily have to be
> anything like "chapters". But chapters happened for whatever reason and
> no-one is trying to be rid of them. The validity of the argument that
> chapters aren't aboslutely needed, doesn't make it any better of an idea to
> keep them around and infantalize and insult them. Imagine how these events
> will sound as they are be spread through all the people working in RC who
> might hear of them. By the natural urge to fit it into a story and the
> unavoidable half-understanding of passing language barriers; it becomes a
> plank in the narrative of WMF as Imperialism. And that is the sort of story
> that if built up completely will have a real negative effect on RC.
>

In other words, this could be harmful to the movement if spun in a
particular way? There's nothing new there; just about anything the WMF does
_could_ be given a negative spin. I don't think that this possibilityshould
in and of itself be a convincing reason to not do something.

Funding chapters by grants from WMF so that they all use the money in the
> same WMF approved way is a systematically bad idea in the same way sending
> shoes to Africa is a bad idea. Redefining the chapters who participated in
> a joint fundraiser with WMF as WMF's "payment processors" is straight-up
> insulting.


Well, let's be clear here: in what sense are the chapters "participating" in
the fundraiser, rather than merely being its beneficiaries? The underlying
fundraising work -- the actual solicitation of donations, in other words --
is performed by WMF staff directly. The chapters do provide some level of
administrative and accounting support, obviously; but that could just as
easily be done by the WMF as well, and likely at lower cost. The only real
advantage a chapter's involvement can provide over a fully WMF-operated
fundraiser is the availability of tax benefits in a particular jurisdiction;
and, given the small size of the average donation, it's unclear to what
extent such tax benefits are a significant consideration for the average
donor.

A more typical arrangement would be that the WMF would give a chapter the
right to use WMF trademarks, and in return a portion of the funds raised by
the chapter would be funneled back to the WMF. But what chapters seem to
want is for the WMF to sign over the trademarks they need to do their own
fundraising, and then simply hand over a portion of the WMF's own revenue on
top of that. It's a convenient arrangement for the chapters involved, to be
sure, and apparently one that the WMF was not particularly unwilling to
follow; but there's nothing particularly "normal" or "fair" about it.


> Writing about ethical concerns while at same time being blind to anything
> that does not maximize donations is laughable. The obvious solution to the
> stated concern that is being raised is returning to the split screen
> fundraiser landing page which has been ruled out for not maximizing
> donations. The seemingly underlying and unstated concern about wanting to
> make sure that WMF leads and maintains control of the movement is actually
> undesirable and should not be pursued.


I don't see the concern as either unstated or undesirable. Why shouldn't
the WMF lead the movement? Or, to put it another way, why should the WMF
cede its leadership role to an amorphous collective of chapters, which --
unlike the WMF -- has no clear leadership, may or may not enjoy a suitable
level of organizational maturity, and is subject to a hodgepodge of local
legal systems which may or may not be friendly to the Wikimedia mission?
The chapters -- and, certainly, any _particular_ chapter -- has no inherent
right to lead the movement. We may choose to _allow_ it to lead, of course
-- but it is up to the chapter to demonstrate that it is worthy of such a
role, not for everyone else to prove that it isn't.

Kirill
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nawrich at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 7:28 AM

Post #8 of 147 (1913 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 9:43 AM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:

>  Funding chapters by grants from WMF so that they all use the money in the same WMF approved way is a systematically bad idea in the same way sending shoes to Africa is a bad idea.  Redefining the chapters who participated in a joint fundraiser with WMF as WMF's "payment processors" is straight-up insulting.  Writing about ethical concerns while at same time being blind to anything that does not maximize donations is laughable.  The obvious solution to the stated concern that is being raised is returning to the split screen fundraiser landing page which has been ruled out for not maximizing donations. The seemingly underlying and unstated concern about wanting to make sure that WMF leads and maintains control of the movement is actually undesirable and should not be pursued.
>


The WMF has a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure that funding
it channels to other organizations is not being wasted or misused. The
appropriate way to do that is to affiliate and direct funds only to
organizations with acceptable financial controls and public reporting.
I think the tax deduction and post-summit timing issues of the recent
letter can be debated, and have been, but it's just simple fact that
the WMF controls the funding stream and thus shares responsibility for
how the funding is used - not to mention any misuse of funds by a
chapter using Wikimedia marks would reflect back on the Foundation.

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notafishz at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 7:28 AM

Post #9 of 147 (1918 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 3:43 PM, <Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo> wrote:
> Redefining the chapters who participated in a joint fundraiser with WMF as WMF's "payment processors" is straight-up insulting.

Just on this particular point. I thought the same, but after a round
of explanations, I now understand the term better. "Payment
processors" does not apply to _just_ the chapters, it applies to the
Foundation as well. The definition behind this is _anyone_ who
actually processes donations directly and has the administration to
back it up.

Cheers,

Delphine
Wikimedia Deutschland

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notafishz at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 7:36 AM

Post #10 of 147 (1914 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 4:27 PM, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:

> Well, let's be clear here: in what sense are the chapters "participating" in
> the fundraiser, rather than merely being its beneficiaries? The underlying
> fundraising work -- the actual solicitation of donations, in other words --
> is performed by WMF staff directly. The chapters do provide some level of
> administrative and accounting support, obviously; but that could just as
> easily be done by the WMF as well, and likely at lower cost.

Wow, this is a gross misrepresentation of the reality.

While Foundation staff has provided an invaluable support to make the
fundraiser a success, it probably wouldn't have been such a success
hadn't there been dozens of volunteers, among which _many_ chapter
board members and simple members who spent uncounted hours of
localizing and adapting messages, providing stories, refining landing
pages, answering donors questions etc.

You may want to look at the fundraising pages on meta to see the level
of involvement of the community as a whole in making it a success, and
even that does not give a real idea of how much chapters' communities
have participated (much happens on their chapters' mailing lists for
example).


Cheers,

Delphine

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kirill.lokshin at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 7:46 AM

Post #11 of 147 (1920 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

2011/8/9 Delphine Mnard <notafishz [at] gmail>

> On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 4:27 PM, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail>
> wrote:
>
> > Well, let's be clear here: in what sense are the chapters "participating"
> in
> > the fundraiser, rather than merely being its beneficiaries? The
> underlying
> > fundraising work -- the actual solicitation of donations, in other words
> --
> > is performed by WMF staff directly. The chapters do provide some level
> of
> > administrative and accounting support, obviously; but that could just as
> > easily be done by the WMF as well, and likely at lower cost.
>
> Wow, this is a gross misrepresentation of the reality.
>
> While Foundation staff has provided an invaluable support to make the
> fundraiser a success, it probably wouldn't have been such a success
> hadn't there been dozens of volunteers, among which _many_ chapter
> board members and simple members who spent uncounted hours of
> localizing and adapting messages, providing stories, refining landing
> pages, answering donors questions etc.
>
> You may want to look at the fundraising pages on meta to see the level
> of involvement of the community as a whole in making it a success, and
> even that does not give a real idea of how much chapters' communities
> have participated (much happens on their chapters' mailing lists for
> example).


I'm not suggesting that the success of the fundraiser isn't due in large
part to broad community involvement; my assertion is that this community
involvement would take place whether or not a formal chapter was involved.
I would assume that the volunteers who contributed to the effort presumably
did so because they believed in the goals of the project and the need to
raise funds to support them, not because their particular chapter stood to
collect a large sum of money in the process?

Kirill
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putevod at mccme

Aug 9, 2011, 7:54 AM

Post #12 of 147 (1919 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

> Wow, this is a gross misrepresentation of the reality.
>
> While Foundation staff has provided an invaluable support to make the
> fundraiser a success, it probably wouldn't have been such a success
> hadn't there been dozens of volunteers, among which _many_ chapter
> board members and simple members who spent uncounted hours of
> localizing and adapting messages, providing stories, refining landing
> pages, answering donors questions etc.
>
> You may want to look at the fundraising pages on meta to see the level
> of involvement of the community as a whole in making it a success, and
> even that does not give a real idea of how much chapters' communities
> have participated (much happens on their chapters' mailing lists for
> example).
>
>
Delphine, do you mean the above applies to ALL chapters? I would doubt it.
Without giving names, I am not involved with any chapters at all, but what
I hear of some of them is indeed a lot of useful activity including
fundraising, project proposals etc, whereas I only hear of others when they
get involved into some quarrels or controversies. May be this is then not
so much of a misinterpretation.

Cheers
Yaroslav



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notafishz at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 8:01 AM

Post #13 of 147 (1927 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 4:46 PM, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:
> I'm not suggesting that the success of the fundraiser isn't due in large
> part to broad community involvement; my assertion is that this community
> involvement would take place whether or not a formal chapter was involved.
> I would assume that the volunteers who contributed to the effort presumably
> did so because they believed in the goals of the project and the need to
> raise funds to support them, not because their particular chapter stood to
> collect a large sum of money in the process?

I think it differs depending on the chapter, the culture et al. Of
course I assume as you do that all people involved in the effort do
believe in the goal of the Wikimedia projects.

But having talked about this with many chapter volunteers, they have
also done it because as chapter volunteers, they feel even more
responsible to make sure the donors were addressed in the right way.
Pleasing a thousand donors (or 10 000) is a whole different ball game
in terms of incentive as pleasing one big donor.

My observation in how chapters have developped across the board is
that you can grossly find two different kind of chapters:
* those for whom fundransing and all the administration that goes with
it is a hassle they don't want to get up entangled with
* those for whom fundraising directly is a way to refine their local
messaging (and hence activities that ensue), a motivation to do better
(get organized and more professional, in all areas of a chapter's
activities), take on responsibility and accountability (handling
donors is difficult, but extremely rewarding as they come back the
year after).

Having followed closely the development of Wikimedia Germany for the
past 5 years, I know for a fact that handling fundraising is a big
part of the succesful growth of that chapter.

Whatever path the chapters want to take (fundraising or no
fundraising) is fine with me, for the record. I am convinced that
doing your own fundraising is an essential part of organisational
growth.


Delphine

--
@notafish

NB. This gmail address is used for mailing lists. Personal emails will get lost.
Intercultural musings: Ceci n'est pas une endive - http://blog.notanendive.org
Photos with simple eyes: notaphoto - http://photo.notafish.org

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Birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 9, 2011, 8:11 AM

Post #14 of 147 (1918 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Aug 9, 2011, at 12:51 AM, "Yaroslav M. Blanter" <putevod [at] mccme> wrote:

>> Nor does off-wiki collaboration require that a formal entity be in
>> existence. Off-wiki activities -- whether social meetups or more formal
>> outreach efforts to GLAM institutions and elsewhere -- are no less
>> effective
>> for being organized by loose groups of interested participants. So long
> as
>> there is no need to handle substantial funds -- and how much of
> Wikimedia
>> contributors' typical work requires such? -- the lack of a legally
>> constituted organization matters little.
>>
>> But to take this one step further, let us assume -- for the sake of
>> argument
>> -- that the activities of the contributor community _do_ require the
>> existence of a dedicated legal entity in a particular jurisdiction. One
>> could, potentially, construct a scenario where this is the case; for
>> example, someone wishes to donate a set of copyrighted works, and
> prefers
>> that an organization subject to local laws be responsible for handling
> the
>> process. Even in this case, however, there is no requirement that the
>> legal
>> entity be a "chapter" of the Wikimedia Foundation -- or, to be more
>> precise,
>> that the entity have in place a particular sort of trademark usage
>> agreement
>> with the WMF. I can think of no conceivable need that could be filled
> by a
>> local entity holding rights to (non-commercial!) use of Wikimedia
>> trademarks
>> but could not be filled just as well by a local entity identical in
> every
>> way save for the lack of such access to said trademarks.
>>
> And just to add to the argument, the projects are divided by language, and
> not by jurisdiction. Whereas in many cases it may be unimportant (for
> instance, we can safely assume that most of the activbities of the Swedish
> chapter are more related to Swedish-language projects, and if there is any
> chapter which "caters" to Swedisg-language projects it is the Swedish
> chapter), this is not correct for most of the major languages (English,
> French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian ...)
>
>

You are quite right about the limitations of chapters. However, I don't see how these limiting factors are addressed by instead dealing with WMF directly. I think this is an example of "perfect being the enemy of good enough".

BirgitteSB
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putevod at mccme

Aug 9, 2011, 8:25 AM

Post #15 of 147 (1918 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Tue, 9 Aug 2011 10:11:49 -0500, Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo wrote:
>> And just to add to the argument, the projects are divided by language,
>> and
>> not by jurisdiction. Whereas in many cases it may be unimportant (for
>> instance, we can safely assume that most of the activbities of the
>> Swedish
>> chapter are more related to Swedish-language projects, and if there is
>> any
>> chapter which "caters" to Swedisg-language projects it is the Swedish
>> chapter), this is not correct for most of the major languages (English,
>> French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian ...)
>>
>>
>
> You are quite right about the limitations of chapters. However, I don't
> see how these limiting factors are addressed by instead dealing with WMF
> directly. I think this is an example of "perfect being the enemy of
good
> enough".
>
> BirgitteSB

Well, to give an example, I am perfectly fine with the recent WMF
resolution on BLP and I am willing to comply. However, if such a resolution
were issued by one of the chapters (for this matter it is irrelevant which
chapter would do it) I would not feel myself in any way obliged to comply
with such a resolution. No chapter has any jurisdiction over the Russian
Wikipedia to which I used to contribute and over English Wikipedia to which
I contribute now.

Cheers
Yaroslav

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Birgitte_sb at yahoo

Aug 9, 2011, 8:27 AM

Post #16 of 147 (1910 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On Aug 9, 2011, at 9:27 AM, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:


>
>> Writing about ethical concerns while at same time being blind to anything
>> that does not maximize donations is laughable. The obvious solution to the
>> stated concern that is being raised is returning to the split screen
>> fundraiser landing page which has been ruled out for not maximizing
>> donations. The seemingly underlying and unstated concern about wanting to
>> make sure that WMF leads and maintains control of the movement is actually
>> undesirable and should not be pursued.
>
>
> I don't see the concern as either unstated or undesirable. Why shouldn't
> the WMF lead the movement? Or, to put it another way, why should the WMF
> cede its leadership role to an amorphous collective of chapters, which --
> unlike the WMF -- has no clear leadership, may or may not enjoy a suitable
> level of organizational maturity, and is subject to a hodgepodge of local
> legal systems which may or may not be friendly to the Wikimedia mission?
> The chapters -- and, certainly, any _particular_ chapter -- has no inherent
> right to lead the movement. We may choose to _allow_ it to lead, of course
> -- but it is up to the chapter to demonstrate that it is worthy of such a
> role, not for everyone else to prove that it isn't.
>

It is undesirable because it will not work. Whoever said chapters had an inherent right to lead the movement? Why must the movement be lead by any organization? Can the work not be simply supported by organizations while those on the ground take the lead in the program work?

I don't think chapters are the greatest thing ever invented. I do think their most useful role is as a check against WMF going in the wrong direction. That people turned off by WMF might have another outlet besides abandoning the movement altogether. Without some real independence from WMF, I don't think chapters are really going to be very worthwhile.

BirgitteSB
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lodewijk at effeietsanders

Aug 9, 2011, 8:29 AM

Post #17 of 147 (1919 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

Indeed, chapters have no jurisdiction over the content of the projects
whatsoever - and they dont want that either. I dont think any chapter would
be crazy enough to actually draft such a resolution in any binding tone.

It is true however that many chapters do important work for the local
projects, and serve their local needs in the sense of activities, press
contacts and fundraising in a more effective way (less culturally
challanging, more sensitive to what works locally and better in touch with
other activities and situations). Not all chapters do this in the same
extent, and not all do it similarly good. But that is the idea of a chapter
- it is not a fanclub organizing beer events only to have fun.

Best regards,
Lodewijk

2011/8/9 Yaroslav M. Blanter <putevod [at] mccme>

> On Tue, 9 Aug 2011 10:11:49 -0500, Birgitte_sb [at] yahoo wrote:
> >> And just to add to the argument, the projects are divided by language,
> >> and
> >> not by jurisdiction. Whereas in many cases it may be unimportant (for
> >> instance, we can safely assume that most of the activbities of the
> >> Swedish
> >> chapter are more related to Swedish-language projects, and if there is
> >> any
> >> chapter which "caters" to Swedisg-language projects it is the Swedish
> >> chapter), this is not correct for most of the major languages (English,
> >> French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian ...)
> >>
> >>
> >
> > You are quite right about the limitations of chapters. However, I don't
> > see how these limiting factors are addressed by instead dealing with WMF
> > directly. I think this is an example of "perfect being the enemy of
> good
> > enough".
> >
> > BirgitteSB
>
> Well, to give an example, I am perfectly fine with the recent WMF
> resolution on BLP and I am willing to comply. However, if such a resolution
> were issued by one of the chapters (for this matter it is irrelevant which
> chapter would do it) I would not feel myself in any way obliged to comply
> with such a resolution. No chapter has any jurisdiction over the Russian
> Wikipedia to which I used to contribute and over English Wikipedia to which
> I contribute now.
>
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
>
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>
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chriskeatingwiki at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 8:36 AM

Post #18 of 147 (1914 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

>
>
> Funding chapters by grants from WMF so that they all use the money in the
> > same WMF approved way is a systematically bad idea in the same way
> sending
> > shoes to Africa is a bad idea. Redefining the chapters who participated
> in
> > a joint fundraiser with WMF as WMF's "payment processors" is straight-up
> > insulting.
>
>
> Well, let's be clear here: in what sense are the chapters "participating"
> in
> the fundraiser, rather than merely being its beneficiaries? The underlying
> fundraising work -- the actual solicitation of donations, in other words --
> is performed by WMF staff directly. The chapters do provide some level of
> administrative and accounting support, obviously; but that could just as
> easily be done by the WMF as well, and likely at lower cost. The only real
> advantage a chapter's involvement can provide over a fully WMF-operated
> fundraiser is the availability of tax benefits in a particular
> jurisdiction;
> and, given the small size of the average donation, it's unclear to what
> extent such tax benefits are a significant consideration for the average
> donor.
>

The other benefits are;
* chapters can take advantage of local payment systems, which donors may be
more accustomed to - not just credit cards
* the chapter can probably make better subsequent use of the data on donors
* if the chapter has a greater stake in the fundraiser, they are more likely
to care about providing effective messages that work well

So I simply do not accept that the right thing for the movement is for
donations to be received by the Foundation and then passed on to the
chapters. Chapters in my view have an important role to play in maximising
the fundraising potential of the Wikimedia movement.

Chris
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putevod at mccme

Aug 9, 2011, 8:48 AM

Post #19 of 147 (1918 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

> It is true however that many chapters do important work for the local
> projects, and serve their local needs in the sense of activities, press
> contacts and fundraising in a more effective way (less culturally
> challanging, more sensitive to what works locally and better in touch
with
> other activities and situations). Not all chapters do this in the same
> extent, and not all do it similarly good. But that is the idea of a
chapter
> - it is not a fanclub organizing beer events only to have fun.
>
> Best regards,
> Lodewijk

Right, I know that the Chapters are doing some very useful stuff (in fact,
I even want to help the Dutch chapter with the project on taking pictures
of State Monuments - it would be very helpful if someone mails me offlist
or indicates on my Wiki page if there is any information on what is
needed), but I believe that to say, as Brigitte does, that the Chapters
should lead the movement is to stretch it way over the limits.

Cheers
Yaroslav

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berialima at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 9:01 AM

Post #20 of 147 (1923 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

>
> *in fact, I even want to help the Dutch chapter with the project on taking
> pictures of State Monuments - it would be very helpful if someone mails me
> offlist or indicates on my Wiki page if there is any information on what is
> needed
> *


The Wiki page:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Wiki_Loves_Monuments_2011

The Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WikiLovesMonuments

And the Website: http://wikilovesmonuments.eu

But as you can see, is not only the Dutch people.
_____
*Bria Lima*
<http://wikimedia.pt/>(351) 925 171 484

*Imagine um mundo onde dada a qualquer pessoa a possibilidade de ter livre
acesso ao somatrio de todo o conhecimento humano. isso o que estamos a
fazer <http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Nossos_projetos>.*


On 9 August 2011 16:48, Yaroslav M. Blanter <putevod [at] mccme> wrote:

> > It is true however that many chapters do important work for the local
> > projects, and serve their local needs in the sense of activities, press
> > contacts and fundraising in a more effective way (less culturally
> > challanging, more sensitive to what works locally and better in touch
> with
> > other activities and situations). Not all chapters do this in the same
> > extent, and not all do it similarly good. But that is the idea of a
> chapter
> > - it is not a fanclub organizing beer events only to have fun.
> >
> > Best regards,
> > Lodewijk
>
> Right, I know that the Chapters are doing some very useful stuff (in fact,
> I even want to help the Dutch chapter with the project on taking pictures
> of State Monuments - it would be very helpful if someone mails me offlist
> or indicates on my Wiki page if there is any information on what is
> needed), but I believe that to say, as Brigitte does, that the Chapters
> should lead the movement is to stretch it way over the limits.
>
> Cheers
> Yaroslav
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l [at] lists
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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putevod at mccme

Aug 9, 2011, 9:09 AM

Post #21 of 147 (1921 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

> The Wiki page:
> http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Wiki_Loves_Monuments_2011
>
> The Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WikiLovesMonuments
>
> And the Website: http://wikilovesmonuments.eu
>
> But as you can see, is not only the Dutch people.
> _____
> *Béria Lima*
> <http://wikimedia.pt/>(351) 925 171 484

Thanks for the link, it is useful. I am not really interested in any
contests and prizes (although I have several pictures of monuments no other
Wikimedian has, but I better just upload them on Commons as soon as I have
finished working on the images). I have previously heard that the Dutch
Chapter has a map showing which monuments are needed to complete the
creation of articles on all state monuments (Rijksmonumenten), but I could
not easily locate it. May be your links would help.

Cheers
Yaroslav

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dgerard at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 9:15 AM

Post #22 of 147 (1910 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 9 August 2011 16:36, Chris Keating <chriskeatingwiki [at] gmail> wrote:

> So I simply do not accept that the right thing for the movement is for
> donations to be received by the Foundation and then passed on to the
> chapters. Chapters in my view have an important role to play in maximising
> the fundraising potential of the Wikimedia movement.


John Vandenberg's numbers (which haven't been contradicted so far)
show that pretty conclusively.


- d.

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geniice at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 10:29 AM

Post #23 of 147 (1917 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 9 August 2011 08:18, David Gerard <dgerard [at] gmail> wrote:
> On 9 August 2011 05:13, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:
>
>> This is all very true, and very insightful; but what does it have to do with
>> chapters?
>
>
> That the message from WMF is about a decentralisation not working from
> their perspective, so recentralising fundraising.

However it was the WMF that created that particular model of
decentralisation in the first place.



--
geni

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dgerard at gmail

Aug 9, 2011, 10:46 AM

Post #24 of 147 (1911 views)
Permalink
Re: Chapters [In reply to]

On 9 August 2011 18:29, geni <geniice [at] gmail> wrote:
> On 9 August 2011 08:18, David Gerard <dgerard [at] gmail> wrote:
>> On 9 August 2011 05:13, Kirill Lokshin <kirill.lokshin [at] gmail> wrote:

>>> This is all very true, and very insightful; but what does it have to do with
>>> chapters?

>> That the message from WMF is about a decentralisation not working from
>> their perspective, so recentralising fundraising.

> However it was the WMF that created that particular model of
> decentralisation  in the first place.


This is begging the question: it presumes ownership. It also assumes
that destroying that decentralisation is symmetrical with having first
allowed and encouraged it, which is not in any way the case.

The real problem with the present approach is - *even if* it's a
correct thing for the trustees to do (once we're actually clear on
what it is they're doing) - is:

* Number of chapters people who've gone "hey, great idea!": 0.
* Number of chapters people who've gone "you're pissing us about so
badly we almost can't work with you": quite a lot.

Being on the board of a tiny nonprofit is a thankless and grinding
task at the best of times. Finding people who both want to do the job
and are any good at all is *not easy*.

This is a potentially catastrophic failure of volunteer liaison.

If the aim were to get rid of chapters altogether, this would have
been an excellent method of achieving it.

(I don't think that is the intent - apparently WMF feels like it can
mess people around and still get 100% from them. I do consider that
the problems really haven't been considered.)

Let me reiterate, this is still a really big problem even if this was
a 100% defensible decision by the board.


- d.

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jheilman at wikimedia

Aug 9, 2011, 11:12 AM

Post #25 of 147 (1914 views)
Permalink
Chapters [In reply to]

During these discussions we must keep in mind the laws of the
countries involved. I am not a lawyer and thus will leave the
specifics to the legal counsel of my chapter (Wikimedia Canada) and
the WMF. But from my lay understanding a Canadian chapter is not
allowed to just funnel tax deductible donations to an American entity.

As a Canadian entity is the only one that is able to give tax
deductions to Canadian donors the question is how much difference does
this make. We are currently in the process of applying to the Canadian
Revenue Agency to get charity status and will have a better
understanding of how much difference this makes over the next couple
of years.

I agree that all within the movement need to be accountable for how
money is spent to make sure that there is maximal benefit per dollar.
I would be in agreement with the amount of money directly funneled to
a chapter being related to how much benefit that chapter generates for
the movement (local laws allowing this). If for example bringing tax
deductability increases donation by 50% than monies should be split
50/50. If a chapter is not tax deductible there would be less
restriction on financial agreements and I see less concerns with
keeping finances more centralized (monies going to the WMF and grants
being given to the chapters).

--
James Heilman, MD, CCFP(EM)
Wikipedian, Wikimedia Canada

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