Last week, I attended Wikimedia France General Assembly, which was
followed by some interesting discussions. And the Offline UserGroup was
actually nominaly mentionned as one of the contentious UG for the future
WMF board elections. Contentious because it is a transversal thematic
organisation, where most members are also likely to be members of other
UG and/or chapters. There are also such UG, such as WikiWomen, Art and
Feminism, Whose Knowledge etc. though a strong minority in the 100 UG.
So, what's the deal....
Recently, the WMF has approved the fact all UserGroups will participate
in the election of WMF board seats. The next occurence will be in a few
This include our UserGroup.
As part of the currently discussion, it is suggested that it would be
highly inappropriate that people vote or even discuss in several UG,
when they are members of several UG/Chapters.
It is also considered that the UG should have a public clear process to
make decisions as it would not be okay that contact groups choose
nominees and vote nominees without getting members feedback. It also
raises the issue of why contacts are contacts precisely and what their
roles and responsibilities are. It is also suggested that UG could also
decide not to vote on the WMF board elections if they chose not to
participate. But on one hand, group members should decide that, and on
the other hand, offline UG could provide a relevant input to the
discussion (the largest majority of UG are defined by their geographies,
and there are not so many UG that are defined by their activity focus...
so strategically speaking, I think the Offline group should speak up).
I'd like to note that, at this point, Offline has two parallel
membership lists... not a big deal, but probably something to clarify at
Additionaly, at some point, our UG will have to submit an annual report.
This is mandatory to stay a UG. I do not know when the deadline is...
perhaps our current group contacts do.
And last, I'd like to raise the issue of our contacts precisely. The UG
was created nearly a year ago, using the opportunity of the Berlin Conf.
Thank you for those who made it happen !
Yet, the UG contacts were self-appointed, rather than selected by the
(vague) members (that was completely logical given the situation, I do
not criticize this process). Today, it would probably be more
appropriate to have contacts who are chosen by members and to have
contacts that are actually *active* in the UG.
At the moment, one contact is active, whilst I have never heard anything
from the second. Well, I met him once at Wikimania, but I have never
seen him active either on this list, or on the wiki (he did not even
list his name himself, Sj did it for him).
Being an affiliate comes with some obligations (even if they are very
very light). And it also comes with some benefits (even if it is not
entirely always clear which they are).
I know we are part of this group mostly because we are simply sharing a
belief that offline is part of our mouvement and benefit the global
community. Some are mostly observers and supporters, whilst it is a
daily job for others. We can not meet very often (contrariwise to
geographically-based UG), and we have to thank those who made it
happened that offline members meet, such as after Wikimania Montreal.
And I am sure most of us would agree that this is what the role of the
UG should be. Sharing info, common opportunities, and so on.
Yet... an WMF affiliate has some obligations... so how should we deal
with that in the least time-consuming, least-bureaucratic,
least-expensive way, yet playing our role in representing, recruting and
promoting offline in the mouvement ?