Delphine Ménard wrote:
The most important thing to learn about chapters is
that they are
legally based, and this subject to a national law.
The first thing to do is thus to make sure that you start off with
standard bylaws, standard procedures, and adapt them to Wikimedia. Not
the other way around.
I won't disagree with that.
On the subject of members, I am personally (but
I've never "prevented"
it) against tying any kind of membership to participation in the
wikimedia projects. You soon end up, in my opinion, with weird
problems such as "what's gonna be the threshold of contributions to
call someone a contributor" (can a bot be a member?), or "how long do
you have to have contributed before you can become a member?'. These
kind of barriers make sense on a wiki, they make less sense in a real
life organisation. At the same time, if you do this, it either pushes
people to make fake participations, or prevents other people to join
in if they don't have the wiki experience. With the time, you will be
surprised how many people are interested in the organisation who have
never edited a wiki.
Another point is that legal membership in the chapter depends on real
names. There could be some difficulty co-ordinating real names and user
names. It also muddies the question of when people stop being members.
There have been many Wikipedia editors who show up, edit very actively
for a while, and completely disappear after a few months. It's also
good to ensure Canadian control of the Canadian chapter; that's much
more difficult to do in an on-line environment. How so we deal with
I think that the current Foundation's rules to allow community board
members is good, but there are real problems with making it happen on a
If you are to restrict the membership, I would go for a
acceptance of members to start with and choose a veto option (if the
board does not want X to become member, they have to say so in the
course of xxx days after X proposed their membership).
It's not unusual for a board to need to approve all memberships,
although many that do this can delegate the function to one executive
member who then presents a list of candidates to the board for rubber
stamping. Having this option available can be very convenient when
serious problem individuals want to become members.
Fees for $1, in a country like Canada, seem to me very
low. I always
understand the idea that one does not want the fees to be a barrier
for anyone to join, but again, these are people who are going to elect
a board which is going to handle donations, talk to national
institutions and sponsors, etc. You want people to be dedicated to the
task, and not just become a member because it is so easy and so cheap.
I am caricaturing here, but I hope you see my point.
$1 is very low. Membership is never a big revenue source, but it should
be at least big enough to cover any expenses connected with the
administration of memberships.. $1 per year is barely enough to send
out annual renewal notices.
You can always have different levels of membership
France or Wikimedia Deutschland for example, have
student/unemployed/employed rates for membership. And there can always
be exceptions made if people *really* can't pay.
How do they determine whether a person "really" can't pay?
Mind you, this is not about collecting money, because
unless they're really really high, are rarely the primary source of
funding of an organisation (we'll exclude National Geographic at this
stage ;) ). But they are a good thing to use, especially in the
starting times, to buy paper, and stamps, and whatnots.
The actual amount of the membership fees does not need to be in the
by-laws. Having it there makes it more difficult to change in the
future. It should be a part of a separate policy document that is
revised each year at the AGM.
The bottom line is... KISS (Keep It Super Simple). You
want people to
join in an easy fashion, and things to be very clear.
I'm familia with that acronym, but as "Keep It Simple, Stupid" :-)