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Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association

 

 

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vandijk at wmnederland

Mar 18, 2012, 12:30 PM

Post #1 of 14 (754 views)
Permalink
Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association

Dear friends,

After weeks of full work, this is the draft charter that has been
worked on. I copy for you here the introduction and the link to meta.

If you have questions about it, you may put them on the talk page or
send them to me.

Kind regards
Ziko


In February 2012, in Paris, Chapter representants agreed on creating a
new organization. As there was no person or group assigned to write a
draft charter, finally, after having talked to some people on general
questions, I took the task on me. Subsequently I presented this page
(March 7th) which was very much altered in the meanwhile.

I have tried to integrate Paris texts, parts from the models B and
KISS, and I have contacted a lot of the people who are going to Berlin
(end of March; alas I did not find all e-mails but I believed I
contacted every participating chapter). There were some phone calls
and chats e.g. with Sebastian Moleski. There is also another draft, by
Tango, which I (and others) have read carefully.

Now we nearly arrived March 18th, on which, according to the timeline,
a draft charter is supposed to be ready. Whatever that means, I would
like to call the draft provisorily ready (there will be certainly
changes, especially for the final incorporation) and invite people
again to read.
...

The idea is to have an organization with a kind of parliament
(Council) and a kind of government (Secretariat). A Judicial Board has
the task to arbitrate in severe cases of conflict; this could have
been a simple Council committee, but for general reasons a seperate
organ is better: the Council or Council members could be part of a
conflict. We hope that the Judicial Board will have nothing to do.

Normally, the members of the organs are elected for a certain term.
This is important to give them a certain independence. There must be a
relationship between work, responsibility and the right to make
decisions. But if there is a severe problem, then the Council can
dismiss people (by a 2/3 majority).

There was a lenghy discussion on several levels about the position of
the Council members, the Representatives. Now, according to the
general principle, the Representative has a fixed term and can be
dismissed in certain cases. But the Representative can have a position
in a chapter (in contrary to a former model).

Maybe the most important question to be answered: If a chapter joins,
what are the consequences and obligations? First of all: A chapter
joins only if it wants to, it does not become a member automatically.
A chapter agrees to elect a Representative and pay an annual
contribution. Later in the year 2012, there will be a budget.
Possibly, the chapters will have to pay some % of their annual chapter
budget. Of course the Wikimedia Chapters Association will consider the
financial possibilities of the chapters.

Why is it good for a chapter to join? The Association will support the
chapters and represent their interests. A lot of international
coordination work, that now has to be done by chapter boards, will be
done (or supported by) the organs of the Association. Even if a
chapter is already big and mature - it is good for every chapter to
belong to a big family of well organized chapters.

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Chapters_Council/Draft_charter_of_the_Wikimedia_Chapters_Association
--

-----------------------------------------------------------
Vereniging Wikimedia Nederland
dr. Ziko van Dijk, voorzitter
http://wmnederland.nl/

Wikimedia Nederland
Postbus 167
3500 AD Utrecht
-----------------------------------------------------------

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nawrich at gmail

Mar 18, 2012, 12:47 PM

Post #2 of 14 (745 views)
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Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

So a group of chapters, reacting against a perceived effort to centralize
the movement, create a brand new central body with an extensive (and
apparently, expensive) bureaucracy? Are there really a lot of people that
think this is a good idea?


On Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 3:30 PM, Ziko van Dijk <vandijk [at] wmnederland>wrote:

> Dear friends,
>
> After weeks of full work, this is the draft charter that has been
> worked on. I copy for you here the introduction and the link to meta.
>
> If you have questions about it, you may put them on the talk page or
> send them to me.
>
> Kind regards
> Ziko
>
>
> In February 2012, in Paris, Chapter representants agreed on creating a
> new organization. As there was no person or group assigned to write a
> draft charter, finally, after having talked to some people on general
> questions, I took the task on me. Subsequently I presented this page
> (March 7th) which was very much altered in the meanwhile.
>
> I have tried to integrate Paris texts, parts from the models B and
> KISS, and I have contacted a lot of the people who are going to Berlin
> (end of March; alas I did not find all e-mails but I believed I
> contacted every participating chapter). There were some phone calls
> and chats e.g. with Sebastian Moleski. There is also another draft, by
> Tango, which I (and others) have read carefully.
>
> Now we nearly arrived March 18th, on which, according to the timeline,
> a draft charter is supposed to be ready. Whatever that means, I would
> like to call the draft provisorily ready (there will be certainly
> changes, especially for the final incorporation) and invite people
> again to read.
> ...
>
> The idea is to have an organization with a kind of parliament
> (Council) and a kind of government (Secretariat). A Judicial Board has
> the task to arbitrate in severe cases of conflict; this could have
> been a simple Council committee, but for general reasons a seperate
> organ is better: the Council or Council members could be part of a
> conflict. We hope that the Judicial Board will have nothing to do.
>
> Normally, the members of the organs are elected for a certain term.
> This is important to give them a certain independence. There must be a
> relationship between work, responsibility and the right to make
> decisions. But if there is a severe problem, then the Council can
> dismiss people (by a 2/3 majority).
>
> There was a lenghy discussion on several levels about the position of
> the Council members, the Representatives. Now, according to the
> general principle, the Representative has a fixed term and can be
> dismissed in certain cases. But the Representative can have a position
> in a chapter (in contrary to a former model).
>
> Maybe the most important question to be answered: If a chapter joins,
> what are the consequences and obligations? First of all: A chapter
> joins only if it wants to, it does not become a member automatically.
> A chapter agrees to elect a Representative and pay an annual
> contribution. Later in the year 2012, there will be a budget.
> Possibly, the chapters will have to pay some % of their annual chapter
> budget. Of course the Wikimedia Chapters Association will consider the
> financial possibilities of the chapters.
>
> Why is it good for a chapter to join? The Association will support the
> chapters and represent their interests. A lot of international
> coordination work, that now has to be done by chapter boards, will be
> done (or supported by) the organs of the Association. Even if a
> chapter is already big and mature - it is good for every chapter to
> belong to a big family of well organized chapters.
>
>
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Chapters_Council/Draft_charter_of_the_Wikimedia_Chapters_Association
> --
>
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> Vereniging Wikimedia Nederland
> dr. Ziko van Dijk, voorzitter
> http://wmnederland.nl/
>
> Wikimedia Nederland
> Postbus 167
> 3500 AD Utrecht
> -----------------------------------------------------------
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l [at] lists
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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nemowiki at gmail

Mar 18, 2012, 1:48 PM

Post #3 of 14 (741 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

Nathan, 18/03/2012 20:47:
> So a group of chapters, reacting against a perceived effort to centralize
> the movement, create a brand new central body with an extensive (and
> apparently, expensive) bureaucracy? Are there really a lot of people that
> think this is a good idea?

Yes because it is. And it's been a necessity for a long time.

Nemo

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michael.peel at wikimedia

Mar 18, 2012, 1:50 PM

Post #4 of 14 (741 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

Think of this more as the hub of a bicycle wheel with many spokes, rather than a centralised body. A device that makes for quicker progress than walking alone, but isn't a burdensome stone wheel.

Having a lightweight central organisation that can keep an eye on what is going on, that can provide advice, and can fix things when they go wrong is vital. Having a single organisation that everything's centralised into is monolithic, bureaucratic and ineffective in the long run.

Thanks,
Mike

On 18 Mar 2012, at 19:47, Nathan wrote:

> So a group of chapters, reacting against a perceived effort to centralize
> the movement, create a brand new central body with an extensive (and
> apparently, expensive) bureaucracy? Are there really a lot of people that
> think this is a good idea?
>
>
> On Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 3:30 PM, Ziko van Dijk <vandijk [at] wmnederland>wrote:
>
>> Dear friends,
>>
>> After weeks of full work, this is the draft charter that has been
>> worked on. I copy for you here the introduction and the link to meta.
>>
>> If you have questions about it, you may put them on the talk page or
>> send them to me.
>>
>> Kind regards
>> Ziko
>>
>>
>> In February 2012, in Paris, Chapter representants agreed on creating a
>> new organization. As there was no person or group assigned to write a
>> draft charter, finally, after having talked to some people on general
>> questions, I took the task on me. Subsequently I presented this page
>> (March 7th) which was very much altered in the meanwhile.
>>
>> I have tried to integrate Paris texts, parts from the models B and
>> KISS, and I have contacted a lot of the people who are going to Berlin
>> (end of March; alas I did not find all e-mails but I believed I
>> contacted every participating chapter). There were some phone calls
>> and chats e.g. with Sebastian Moleski. There is also another draft, by
>> Tango, which I (and others) have read carefully.
>>
>> Now we nearly arrived March 18th, on which, according to the timeline,
>> a draft charter is supposed to be ready. Whatever that means, I would
>> like to call the draft provisorily ready (there will be certainly
>> changes, especially for the final incorporation) and invite people
>> again to read.
>> ...
>>
>> The idea is to have an organization with a kind of parliament
>> (Council) and a kind of government (Secretariat). A Judicial Board has
>> the task to arbitrate in severe cases of conflict; this could have
>> been a simple Council committee, but for general reasons a seperate
>> organ is better: the Council or Council members could be part of a
>> conflict. We hope that the Judicial Board will have nothing to do.
>>
>> Normally, the members of the organs are elected for a certain term.
>> This is important to give them a certain independence. There must be a
>> relationship between work, responsibility and the right to make
>> decisions. But if there is a severe problem, then the Council can
>> dismiss people (by a 2/3 majority).
>>
>> There was a lenghy discussion on several levels about the position of
>> the Council members, the Representatives. Now, according to the
>> general principle, the Representative has a fixed term and can be
>> dismissed in certain cases. But the Representative can have a position
>> in a chapter (in contrary to a former model).
>>
>> Maybe the most important question to be answered: If a chapter joins,
>> what are the consequences and obligations? First of all: A chapter
>> joins only if it wants to, it does not become a member automatically.
>> A chapter agrees to elect a Representative and pay an annual
>> contribution. Later in the year 2012, there will be a budget.
>> Possibly, the chapters will have to pay some % of their annual chapter
>> budget. Of course the Wikimedia Chapters Association will consider the
>> financial possibilities of the chapters.
>>
>> Why is it good for a chapter to join? The Association will support the
>> chapters and represent their interests. A lot of international
>> coordination work, that now has to be done by chapter boards, will be
>> done (or supported by) the organs of the Association. Even if a
>> chapter is already big and mature - it is good for every chapter to
>> belong to a big family of well organized chapters.
>>
>>
>> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Chapters_Council/Draft_charter_of_the_Wikimedia_Chapters_Association
>> --
>>
>> -----------------------------------------------------------
>> Vereniging Wikimedia Nederland
>> dr. Ziko van Dijk, voorzitter
>> http://wmnederland.nl/
>>
>> Wikimedia Nederland
>> Postbus 167
>> 3500 AD Utrecht
>> -----------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> foundation-l mailing list
>> foundation-l [at] lists
>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l [at] lists
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l


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de10011 at gmail

Mar 18, 2012, 1:55 PM

Post #5 of 14 (737 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

On Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 1:17 AM, Nathan <nawrich [at] gmail> wrote:

> So a group of chapters, reacting against a perceived effort to centralize
> the movement, create a brand new central body with an extensive (and
> apparently, expensive) bureaucracy? Are there really a lot of people that
> think this is a good idea?


I do.

I proposed the Council back in August. It didn't come into existence as a
reaction against any perceived effort to centralize, from any chapter in
particular. It was to address a structural gap. Similar ideas have been
around in one or the other form before this, but this effort is the one
coming closest to fruition. The basic premise is a cooperative body between
chapters. The number of chapters has been growing at a steady pace in the
last few years; this was envisioned as a central organization to promote
cooperation and provide better representation to the chapters.

I can not speak of the current status and any perception of extensive
bureaucracy thereof. I'm not a big fan of some of the things within the
effort, but most are pretty minor. Anyway, the pages and majority of the
discussion has been on Meta, you are welcomed to state your concerns and
discuss them directly.

Regards
Theo
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morton.thomas at googlemail

Mar 18, 2012, 2:02 PM

Post #6 of 14 (741 views)
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Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

Hmmm, whilst I certainly sympathise with the factions that prompted this, I
have to agree with Nathan that it is a saddening thing to see.

Governments are stifling, and this unfortunately is what appears to be
being proposed.

I recall a comment one of my favourite professors used to make which was:

"Once you start capitalising more than two words per sentence, you have a
bureaucracy. Avoid!"

One of the critical problems with our movement is that it provides little
avenue for fresh faces and individuals to disrupte the status quo. And the
charter, as I read it, makes much the same mistake.

The cool thing about English Wikipedia (where I am active) is that although
you do have the ingrained bureaucratic bodies - into whom being elected is
naturally difficult. You are able to quite quickly disrupt* the community -
if you have good ideas.

Obviously Chapters (and indeed the Foundation) have to have certain legal
frameworks and structures to meet the requirements of their host country.
But there is no reason for internal organisation to emulate that - and,
indeed, many reasons not to!

One reason we work so well as a community is because we reject that
traditional way of organisation (with charters, elections, etc.). And one
of our key failings tends to be when we do adhere to the "outer world"
forms of organisation.

I think such a council is a good idea.

I think a body that can push back at the foundation, constructively, is
great (which is, I understand, the point).

I think that pooling our collective "power" as Chapters is a good move.

But I don't think this is a good way to do it.

I think it is still too heavy.

What I would recommend is something disruptive; for a Chapter to host a
wiki independent of the Foundation. Keep it open and collaborative, build
on the idea of consensus discussions - make sure everyone who is a member
of a chapter can comment. Work hard to make sure everything Chapter related
gets some input there - and each year elect a couple
of spokespersons responsible for summarising the "Chapter Council's"
thoughts on issues and communicating that to the foundation and the wider
communities.

That is how it should be done IMO.

Tom


* My terminoglogy is embedded in the "startup" culture - where disruption
is considered a good thing, in moderation :) obviously trolls, vandals and
jerks cause another form of disruption....
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morton.thomas at googlemail

Mar 18, 2012, 2:18 PM

Post #7 of 14 (743 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

Some further comments, having read the related pages in more depth:

- To what legal body will the "duties" be paid?

- What is the purpose of duties exactly (there seems no obvious use for
them by the council)?

As I can make out it is to set up committees, groups and projects and
chapter events - this seems worryingly like a modern government.
Inefficient and wasteful. Ideally we should use the current model - where
the more flush chapters utilise their funds to pay for international
events. This works (IMO) surprisingly well, even if it is a little chaotic.

I think any monetary consideration needs to be scrapped because it is a
pure minefield; unless anyone can lay out clearly what unique use it could
be put to...

- Having read the draft most seems (and I don't want to be harsh but I may
be) totally unnecessary and pointless. A while ago I was part of a group
that played a game called Nation States (you may have heard of it) which
was basically a massive RPG based around government. A group of use spent a
very long time building a brilliant charter and slick government... on
paper it looked effective, in practice it wasn't all that robust, and
largely turned political. Governments almost always do this - and so you
should avoid it as much as you can!

FWIW a lot of my concerns are addressed in Tango's draft (
http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Chapters_Council/Draft_charter) which for me
demonstrates a deep understanding of both the legal and moral issues
involved in such a body. If we must have a beurocracy then this is a much
lighter and more detailed approach - although I would recommend shortening
the terms, demanding *all* communication in public and provide more options
for wider chapter input.


Finally; I think the key consideration *not* addressed in any of these
proposals is independence from the WMF - both in online and offline. It
would be interesting to see the thoughts on that.

Tom
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chriskeatingwiki at gmail

Mar 18, 2012, 2:26 PM

Post #8 of 14 (738 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

> So a group of chapters, reacting against a perceived effort to centralize
> the movement, create a brand new central body with an extensive (and
> apparently, expensive) bureaucracy? Are there really a lot of people that
> think this is a good idea?


Yes, there are lots of people that think this is a good idea.

Currently, there are 3 things not happening, which are causing us problems:

1) There's not really anyone to help chapters develop. If you have a group
of Wikipedians who want to set up a chapter, there are lots of challenges
but not many resources to help you do it. The resources there are are quite
informal. And once you're going, there's not a great deal of help in offer
to help you grow and get more active.

2) Equally, there isn't really a very good way of assessing chapters'
performance. There is an element of formal regulation in that if a Chapter
doesn't stick to the Chapter Agreement is could be de-chaptered. And for
chapters with a strong membership base and good links to the project
communities, there is a very important role for oversight by
members/communities. But apart from the tripwire of the Chapter Agreement,
and the important but fairly uneven scrutiny of different memberships,
there isn't really a mechanism for review and feedback - which is actually
part of the same problem as 1).

3) Finally, there are problems of communication between the Wikimedia
Foundation and the Chapters.There is no good mechanism for sounding
Chapters' views corporately. When the Foundation asks "What do chapters
think about X"? they find that half-a-dozen people will argue at length on
an email list, without necessarily being representative of anyone, and
probably without proposing anything useful. Communication fragments, gets
heated, and becomes unproductive quickly.

If we can find solutions to these three problems, it will be well worth the
investment. Obviously setting up a new body is not guaranteed to succeed,
and there are lots of details to be worked out, many of them important -
but it is worth doing.

Chris
(Wikimedia UK board, speaking personally)
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thomas.dalton at gmail

Mar 18, 2012, 2:29 PM

Post #9 of 14 (741 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

On 18 March 2012 21:18, Thomas Morton <morton.thomas [at] googlemail> wrote:
> Some further comments, having read the related pages in more depth:
>
> - To what legal body will the "duties" be paid?

The idea is that the council will be a new legal body.

> - What is the purpose of duties exactly (there seems no obvious use for
> them by the council)?

The council's main expenses, I would expect, will be staff salaries,
travel and accommodation expenses for staff and travel and
accommodation expenses for representatives.

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nawrich at gmail

Mar 18, 2012, 2:51 PM

Post #10 of 14 (742 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

>
> Yes, there are lots of people that think this is a good idea.
>
> Currently, there are 3 things not happening, which are causing us problems:
>
> 1) There's not really anyone to help chapters develop. If you have a group
> of Wikipedians who want to set up a chapter, there are lots of challenges
> but not many resources to help you do it. The resources there are are quite
> informal. And once you're going, there's not a great deal of help in offer
> to help you grow and get more active.
>

This could be much more usefully addressed with a cooperative assistance
group, rather than some sort of super-governance association. Somehow lots
of chapters managed to form themselves without the existence of an
international governing body. If technical assistance is what you are
looking to offer, develop a technical assistance group and resource that.

>
> 2) Equally, there isn't really a very good way of assessing chapters'
> performance. There is an element of formal regulation in that if a Chapter
> doesn't stick to the Chapter Agreement is could be de-chaptered. And for
> chapters with a strong membership base and good links to the project
> communities, there is a very important role for oversight by
> members/communities. But apart from the tripwire of the Chapter Agreement,
> and the important but fairly uneven scrutiny of different memberships,
> there isn't really a mechanism for review and feedback - which is actually
> part of the same problem as 1).
>
>
In what way will this new organization be able to "de-chapter" an
organization, when the chapter designation (and the attendant authorization
to use Wikimedia marks) is controlled by the WMF? Since funding coming from
the WMF - or the FDC - will still need to involve WMF oversight and
accountability, what this organization does is duplicate those
responsibilities to yet another organization.


> 3) Finally, there are problems of communication between the Wikimedia
> Foundation and the Chapters.There is no good mechanism for sounding
> Chapters' views corporately. When the Foundation asks "What do chapters
> think about X"? they find that half-a-dozen people will argue at length on
> an email list, without necessarily being representative of anyone, and
> probably without proposing anything useful. Communication fragments, gets
> heated, and becomes unproductive quickly.
>

So your solution is to have the chapters argue amongst themselves, pursue a
bureaucratic process to arrive at a common decision, and then present that
to the WMF. This despite the fact that the WMF has, and will continue to
have, direct organizational links to each chapter. You make it sound like
the ChapAss will supplant the Foundation in its role, but that's impossible.


>
> If we can find solutions to these three problems, it will be well worth the
> investment. Obviously setting up a new body is not guaranteed to succeed,
> and there are lots of details to be worked out, many of them important -
> but it is worth doing.
>
> Chris
> (Wikimedia UK board, speaking personally)
>

Thomas Dalton says the organization will be a legal entity, and will have
to spend money on new staff, as well as travel and accommodations for
staff, representatives and others. It seems like a pretty easy case to make
that the added bureaucracy is at least an inefficient if not outright
wasteful use of donated funds. I'd like to see the WMF make it clear that
grant money from the WMF or funds otherwise diverted from the WMF to
chapters should not be used to fund the ChapAss. If this organization is to
exist, it should be funded purely by its own fundraising and the distinct
and separate fundraising activities of its member chapters.

Nathan
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morton.thomas at googlemail

Mar 18, 2012, 2:53 PM

Post #11 of 14 (739 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

On 18 March 2012 21:29, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton [at] gmail> wrote:

> On 18 March 2012 21:18, Thomas Morton <morton.thomas [at] googlemail>
> wrote:
> > Some further comments, having read the related pages in more depth:
> >
> > - To what legal body will the "duties" be paid?
>
> The idea is that the council will be a new legal body.
>
> > - What is the purpose of duties exactly (there seems no obvious use for
> > them by the council)?
>
> The council's main expenses, I would expect, will be staff salaries,
> travel and accommodation expenses for staff and travel and
> accommodation expenses for representatives.


I have to say; that idea makes me even more concerned....

Tom
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chriskeatingwiki at gmail

Mar 18, 2012, 3:22 PM

Post #12 of 14 (750 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

>
>
> This could be much more usefully addressed with a cooperative assistance
> group, rather than some sort of super-governance association. Somehow lots
> of chapters managed to form themselves without the existence of an
> international governing body. If technical assistance is what you are
> looking to offer, develop a technical assistance group and resource that.
>

Yes, this is a co-operative assistance group. And equally, if there weren't
any other needs to fill, then it could be only such a group. But there are.


> In what way will this new organization be able to "de-chapter" an
> organization,


It won't (and just to be clear, I didn't suggest it would).


> when the chapter designation (and the attendant authorization
> to use Wikimedia marks) is controlled by the WMF? Since funding coming from
> the WMF - or the FDC - will still need to involve WMF oversight and
> accountability, what this organization does is duplicate those
> responsibilities to yet another organization.


There are different sorts of oversight and accountability. The WMF does not
currently have the capacity (and nor really the inclination) to go through
chapters' procedures or programme plans saying things like "so why is this
aspect of your plan such a high priority? Is there a community process
behind this? Have you seen how Y did a similar programme, do you think it's
worth speaking to them about it?".

So in terms of this kind of "soft" oversight, which I would describe as a
constructive challenge to the Chapter executive bodies, the Chapters
Council would do things that no-one currently does.

It may also end up playing a role in the "hard" oversight functions
alongside the Foundation, local regulators, and external auditors. It's not
impossible that a Chapter Council led peer-review would help give the
Foundation greater confidence in the workings of a chapter - the Foundation
does not appear keen to spend more time and effort scrutinising chapters
than it currently does, so this may well be welcome to the Foundation.



> So your solution is to have the chapters argue amongst themselves, pursue a
> bureaucratic process to arrive at a common decision, and then present that
> to the WMF.


Yes, though minus your loaded language, and restricted to areas where there
is a reasonable degree of agreement.

From my point of view this will be very helpful. It's certainly more useful
for communication than diffuse angry thoughts.


> This despite the fact that the WMF has, and will continue to
> have, direct organizational links to each chapter. You make it sound like
> the ChapAss will supplant the Foundation in its role, but that's
> impossible.


This will strengthen those direct links by separating the "politics" of the
relationship between a Chapter and the Foundation from the communication
about operational matters.

Btw, nice turn of phrase with "ChapAss", I can see you thought about that
one! :-)


> ... It seems like a pretty easy case to make
> that the added bureaucracy is at least an inefficient if not outright
> wasteful use of donated funds..


I'd look at it as a cost-effective way of building our global outreach
capacity, personally, but your mileage may vary.

Chris
Wikimedia UK board (speaking personally)
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nawrich at gmail

Mar 18, 2012, 4:36 PM

Post #13 of 14 (737 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

On Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 6:22 PM, Chris Keating
<chriskeatingwiki [at] gmail>wrote:

> >
> >
> > This could be much more usefully addressed with a cooperative assistance
> > group, rather than some sort of super-governance association. Somehow
> lots
> > of chapters managed to form themselves without the existence of an
> > international governing body. If technical assistance is what you are
> > looking to offer, develop a technical assistance group and resource that.
> >
>
> Yes, this is a co-operative assistance group. And equally, if there weren't
> any other needs to fill, then it could be only such a group. But there
> are.
>

This is an interesting problem. Technical assistance requires expertise,
but the type of expertise necessary for founding a chapter can be very
specific to the particular jurisdiction and culture in which it is
founded. For instance - its stated on the discussion page of the proposal
that the expertise and opinions of European chapter members (who,
incidentally, dominate the discussion and the proposal) are less applicable
to Brasil, which has chosen a quite different model and philosophy for its
chapter. I'm curious how this organization (logically abbreviated as
ChapAss, you might want to make it ChapCo instead) might address this
problem.

>
>
> > In what way will this new organization be able to "de-chapter" an
> > organization,
>
>
> It won't (and just to be clear, I didn't suggest it would).
>
>
>
You're right, you didn't. You made the point that there is a paucity of
tools for the WMF to provide oversight or performance assessment to the
chapters, with "de-chaptering" as the main cudgel. That's an interesting
point, but I'm not completely clear on how it supports creating a Chapter
Association that will have, as its main cudgel, the option of removing a
chapter from the association. And, of course, the WMF does have other tools
- it can provide or withhold funding from individual chapters, a power that
the Association will not possess.


> > So your solution is to have the chapters argue amongst themselves,
> pursue a
> > bureaucratic process to arrive at a common decision, and then present
> that
> > to the WMF.
>
>
> Yes, though minus your loaded language, and restricted to areas where there
> is a reasonable degree of agreement.
>
> From my point of view this will be very helpful. It's certainly more useful
> for communication than diffuse angry thoughts.


Here's a thought. Chapter members are seeking both greater autonomy and a
larger piece of the funding pie, under the argument of subsidiarity or
decentralization. Implicit in this argument is the idea that a U.S. based
non-profit controlling all the strings unbalances the distribution of
influence in the movement and leaves diverse local talent and cultural
expertise untapped. But you appear to merely shift the problem to Western
Europe. The proposed charter includes no protections or guarantees, and
indeed no mention at all, of global balance. The document is silent on the
different needs and resources of chapters in different areas of the world,
and provides no assurance against regional dominance. As it stands, the
primary author of this document is a German editor of the German Wikipedia
who proposes incorporating the entity in Berlin.

It's worth noting that the European chapters are typically well managed,
well financed and well established. The chapters most in need of the
assistance and representation offered by the association would appear to be
in other parts of the world. While several non-EU chapters have signed on
to the chapters council idea, perhaps the draft could be modified to deal
more explicitly with the global nature of the proposed association. It
might even be worthwhile to consider locating it in South America or India,
rather than the E.U.

There is also the question of due diligence. The proposal has no suggestion
for where the entity will be incorporated, nor what sort of legal status it
will need. These are not minor questions, and the decisions will have
serious implications for the organizational model and it's ability to
receive and transmit funds. The drafters have chosen to defer consideration
of these issues until after the chapters vote to create the association,
but given the possible consequences that is a questionable decision.

More generally, I think you should re-evaluate your choice of models. The
proposal would create a government-style model, heavy with committees and
involved processes and embedded costs. This isn't necessarily the best way
to address the needs that have been identified, perhaps because those needs
could usefully be more clearly defined. To facilitate communication and
representation, a much simpler and easier (and cheaper) solution might be a
"Chapter Steering Committee." Composed of board members from all chapters
and others as desired, it need not have employees, offices or fancy titles.
Meetings (in person or otherwise) and joint statements or actions don't
require joint bank accounts or a legal entity.

Further, the role of representing the chapters to the world and to the WMF
is not naturally tethered to the role of providing technical assistance. A
technical resource group could easily be established by volunteers and
funded by donations to provide insight and assistance to new or struggling
chapters. This may not satisfy the appetite of some to create an opposing
governing organization or fulfill fantasies of bureaucratic achievement,
but it should get the job done with far less chance for conflict and
dysfunction.

Finally, and with apologies for tl;dr, I'd like to restate my earlier point
- this association should be self-funding, and should not make use of any
funds from the WMF or the WMF's annual fundraiser. You've already tied
yourself to the WMF by allowing it to decide which organizations are and
are not eligible to join your association. To retain meaningful
independence and to avoid diverting donor funds from their intended use,
the association should rely on independently raised funds from
participating chapters.

Nathan
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osmar at wikimediachile

Mar 18, 2012, 4:54 PM

Post #14 of 14 (741 views)
Permalink
Re: Draft charter of the Wikimedia Chapters Association [In reply to]

We agree that regionalization is something important and different
approaches should be considered and not only the European one.
And that's why we think it is important the idea of a council, where all
chapters are equal partners and not subordinated to a single Anglo-American
concept that has prevailed to this date.
Latin American chapters have observed the development of this Chapters
Council and we have discussed this on Iberocoop. We haven't been able to
work more on the development of this council because of the language
barriers but we have appreciated the efforts of other chapters leading this
proposal. We agree with the main points of the proposal and we think it
addresses the different problems for chapters in Ibero America (I can't say
the same for the rest of the countries outside Europe because I'm not part
of them).

Osmar Valdebenito
President of Wikimedia Chile

2012/3/18 Nathan <nawrich [at] gmail>

> On Sun, Mar 18, 2012 at 6:22 PM, Chris Keating
> <chriskeatingwiki [at] gmail>wrote:
>
> > >
> > >
> > > This could be much more usefully addressed with a cooperative
> assistance
> > > group, rather than some sort of super-governance association. Somehow
> > lots
> > > of chapters managed to form themselves without the existence of an
> > > international governing body. If technical assistance is what you are
> > > looking to offer, develop a technical assistance group and resource
> that.
> > >
> >
> > Yes, this is a co-operative assistance group. And equally, if there
> weren't
> > any other needs to fill, then it could be only such a group. But there
> > are.
> >
>
> This is an interesting problem. Technical assistance requires expertise,
> but the type of expertise necessary for founding a chapter can be very
> specific to the particular jurisdiction and culture in which it is
> founded. For instance - its stated on the discussion page of the proposal
> that the expertise and opinions of European chapter members (who,
> incidentally, dominate the discussion and the proposal) are less applicable
> to Brasil, which has chosen a quite different model and philosophy for its
> chapter. I'm curious how this organization (logically abbreviated as
> ChapAss, you might want to make it ChapCo instead) might address this
> problem.
>
> >
> >
> > > In what way will this new organization be able to "de-chapter" an
> > > organization,
> >
> >
> > It won't (and just to be clear, I didn't suggest it would).
> >
> >
> >
> You're right, you didn't. You made the point that there is a paucity of
> tools for the WMF to provide oversight or performance assessment to the
> chapters, with "de-chaptering" as the main cudgel. That's an interesting
> point, but I'm not completely clear on how it supports creating a Chapter
> Association that will have, as its main cudgel, the option of removing a
> chapter from the association. And, of course, the WMF does have other tools
> - it can provide or withhold funding from individual chapters, a power that
> the Association will not possess.
>
>
> > > So your solution is to have the chapters argue amongst themselves,
> > pursue a
> > > bureaucratic process to arrive at a common decision, and then present
> > that
> > > to the WMF.
> >
> >
> > Yes, though minus your loaded language, and restricted to areas where
> there
> > is a reasonable degree of agreement.
> >
> > From my point of view this will be very helpful. It's certainly more
> useful
> > for communication than diffuse angry thoughts.
>
>
> Here's a thought. Chapter members are seeking both greater autonomy and a
> larger piece of the funding pie, under the argument of subsidiarity or
> decentralization. Implicit in this argument is the idea that a U.S. based
> non-profit controlling all the strings unbalances the distribution of
> influence in the movement and leaves diverse local talent and cultural
> expertise untapped. But you appear to merely shift the problem to Western
> Europe. The proposed charter includes no protections or guarantees, and
> indeed no mention at all, of global balance. The document is silent on the
> different needs and resources of chapters in different areas of the world,
> and provides no assurance against regional dominance. As it stands, the
> primary author of this document is a German editor of the German Wikipedia
> who proposes incorporating the entity in Berlin.
>
> It's worth noting that the European chapters are typically well managed,
> well financed and well established. The chapters most in need of the
> assistance and representation offered by the association would appear to be
> in other parts of the world. While several non-EU chapters have signed on
> to the chapters council idea, perhaps the draft could be modified to deal
> more explicitly with the global nature of the proposed association. It
> might even be worthwhile to consider locating it in South America or India,
> rather than the E.U.
>
> There is also the question of due diligence. The proposal has no suggestion
> for where the entity will be incorporated, nor what sort of legal status it
> will need. These are not minor questions, and the decisions will have
> serious implications for the organizational model and it's ability to
> receive and transmit funds. The drafters have chosen to defer consideration
> of these issues until after the chapters vote to create the association,
> but given the possible consequences that is a questionable decision.
>
> More generally, I think you should re-evaluate your choice of models. The
> proposal would create a government-style model, heavy with committees and
> involved processes and embedded costs. This isn't necessarily the best way
> to address the needs that have been identified, perhaps because those needs
> could usefully be more clearly defined. To facilitate communication and
> representation, a much simpler and easier (and cheaper) solution might be a
> "Chapter Steering Committee." Composed of board members from all chapters
> and others as desired, it need not have employees, offices or fancy titles.
> Meetings (in person or otherwise) and joint statements or actions don't
> require joint bank accounts or a legal entity.
>
> Further, the role of representing the chapters to the world and to the WMF
> is not naturally tethered to the role of providing technical assistance. A
> technical resource group could easily be established by volunteers and
> funded by donations to provide insight and assistance to new or struggling
> chapters. This may not satisfy the appetite of some to create an opposing
> governing organization or fulfill fantasies of bureaucratic achievement,
> but it should get the job done with far less chance for conflict and
> dysfunction.
>
> Finally, and with apologies for tl;dr, I'd like to restate my earlier point
> - this association should be self-funding, and should not make use of any
> funds from the WMF or the WMF's annual fundraiser. You've already tied
> yourself to the WMF by allowing it to decide which organizations are and
> are not eligible to join your association. To retain meaningful
> independence and to avoid diverting donor funds from their intended use,
> the association should rely on independently raised funds from
> participating chapters.
>
> Nathan
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l [at] lists
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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