I think Birgitte has a valid point. Not as much she wants (if I
understand correctly) to "forbid" chapters or so, but she validly
points out that there is in the US less of a *need* for chapters. That
has the logical consequence that individuals will feel less urge to
start one themselves.
I think that chapters should indeed be formed if people feel the urge
to start one. Because if you have to force a chapter into existence,
there is a big question whether it will be actually sustainable. Not
only financially, but maybe more important with respect to volunteer
manpower and enthusiasm.
It might be good to reconsider before starting a chapter what exactly
you expect to add to the current situation. In Europe/Africa/Asia etc
the situation is quite clear: there is a need for local representation
to organize conferences, meetups, communication and exchange of
experiences. There is a need for local representation to the press and
to the rest of the outside world such as like minded organizations.
In the US things are indeed just a bit more complicated. Some of these
tasks are being taken care of perfectly by the WMF, so there will
probably be less people who see a need for a chapter. If there are
people who see such a need, great! Get started, and please, imho don't
wait for the Wikimedia Foundation to approve you, but start *doing*
things, start to show what you can add. Organize meetups, organize
workshops as a group of volunteers, and show why you would make a
great chapter to work with.
It gives you a head start, and it enables you to launch very well once
you get approved and you can get legalized. Because excuse me, but the
Foundation is not really amongst the fastest organizations I know :)
That is not per se a bad thing, but please don't sit back and wait for
2008/5/1, Birgitte SB <birgitte_sb(a)yahoo.com>:
> --- On Thu, 5/1/08, Andrew Whitworth <wknight8111(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> > From: Andrew Whitworth <wknight8111(a)gmail.com>
> > Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Chapter-selected Board seats - brainstorming
> > To: birgitte_sb(a)yahoo.com, "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
> > Date: Thursday, May 1, 2008, 12:17 PM
> > On Thu, May 1, 2008 at 11:36 AM, Birgitte SB
> > <birgitte_sb(a)yahoo.com> wrote:
> > > I am not saying it is impossible for a US national
> > chapter to exist. But it will not be created through
> > grass-roots self-organization as was the case for other
> > chapters. The WMF looks foolish to sit on their hands and
> > wait for it to form. And WMF is not credible when they
> > collect US tax-deductible money, solicit US press, etc. and
> > then say US Wikimedians have the same opportunity to create
> > a national chapter as everyone else if they want to
> > participate in chapter stuff. The honest options are a)
> > WMF staff organize a US national chapter or b) Chapter
> > committee approves US subnational chapter where there is
> > grass-roots activity.
> > I disagree with this completely. Grass-roots organization
> > is how the
> > US chapter(s) will form, it's the way things are
> > currently
> > progressing. There are grass roots organizations, that
> > I've heard of
> > (which may not be a comprehensive list) starting in many
> > places: New
> > York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Oregon, California,
> > Massachusetts, and
> > other places. Progress has been mostly stagnant in these
> > groups for
> > many reasons, all of which are organizational failures on
> > the part of
> > the WMF/Chapcom.
> > It is my personal estimate that there could be as many as
> > 10 or 12
> > active subnational US chapters operational within a year if
> > all
> > barriers to entry were removed. Of course, there are many
> > logistical
> > issues to work out before those barriers can be removed
> > completely.
> You misunderstood my message (probably because did a poor job qualifying it). I agree with you that if subnational *chapters* are allowed there will be the grassroots organization for them. I speaking of the grassroots organization of a national *chapter* if subnantional *chapters* are disalowed or required to be subchapters of an existiong national one.
> Birgitte SB
> Be a better friend, newshound, and
> know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now. http://mobile.yahoo.com/;_ylt=Ahu06i62sR8HDtDypao8Wcj9tAcJ
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> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>> Out of curiosity: If the entire Board and staff were put up to a
>> public vote
>> across /all/ projects (assuming good representation could be assured),
>> I wonder how many of them would be with the WMF at the end of the day.
> Unfortunately, not all aspects of running an organization are a
> popularity contest.
Fortunately for us, the board is a popularity contest. And whether the
board likes it or not, we elected you. And those who were appointed have
the same obligation as those elected and can face the same criticism as
such. If we, the communities see you guys are not doing your job in the
best interest of Wikimedia, then we have the right to say we think you
guys should resign.
You are the board of trustees. And as I see it, the board has done
nothing but abuse the word 'trustee'. They have made, as a whole, no
attempt to get any community input on anything from this, to Kaltura.
The constantly leave the communities out of the loop and make decisions
with total disregard as to what we might think.
From what I see, the only board member doing anything around here, or
making the slightest attempt to communicate with the communities as much
as possible, is Florence. And what a surprise, her seat is up for grabs.
Like it or not board, you work for us. Not for yourselves. I think this
is a wake up call and I think now the communities are sick of it, and
not going totake it anymore.
Sorry if this sound rude or confrontational, but it seems that this is
the only way to get anyone's attention, who is on the board these days
as they seem to only pay attention to whats said on here and on meta. So
that being the case, it gets increasingly frustrating to have to be
civil and not get anything in return. So please see where I am coming
from, and the others who feel the same way.
Jason Safoutin (DragonFire1024)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jerry~Yuyu <jerry.tschan.yu(a)gmail.com>
Date: Thu, May 1, 2008 at 6:45 PM
Subject: Re: [Internal-l] Chapter-selected Board seats - brainstorming
To: "Local Chapters, board and officers coordination (closed subscription)"
I'm thinking of that the Electoral college method is a possible solution for
selecting among candidates.
Each chapter may have equal votes in the college.
Chapters can cast their votes base on their members' decision on the
Jeromy-Yu Maximilian Chan
Wikimedia Hong Kong
Tel: +852 9279 1601
Laudamus quae laudentur
Jeromy-Yu Maximilian Chan
Wikimedia Hong Kong
Tel: +852 9279 1601
Laudamus quae laudentur
Hats off to SJ for channeling the Federalist Papers; specifically No. 10
51 (checks and balances)(
http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/fed51.htm). [And yes I
know they are on Wikisource as well; I just like the frames presentation
Principally, the political theory raises interesting points of philosophy,
but their direct translation into practice here must be qualified by the
reality WMF has to face. That is, there is a board, it is the 'supreme
power' under law, and thus the rest of the organizing principles for the
Foundation proper are significantly limited. What is *not* limited in the
same way is the 'community' or 'projects' per se. That is by design, or at
least has been since WMF abandoned membership as a concept for the
Chapters are relevant because they are the result of humans in a particular
point in space, surrounded by a particular geographic and political
boundary. Virtual citizens, on the other hand, exist within a particular
domain/project. This raises fascinating choices - are all projects created
equal? Are all languages created equal? Data for the size and growth of
projects demonstrate that the answer is clearly no; Wikipedia is the biggest
project in all languages; English is the biggest language in all projects.
This is well-understood and the subject of much evangelism towards other
projects and languages.
How then to temper the effects of an EN:WP-centric set of projects and
virtual citizens? To tend towards "senate"-like rather than "house"-like
forms of representation. Should projects get one vote, irrespective of
size? Can language ever be a proxy for organizational structures? I would
suggest those thorny problems will not be easily resolved - there is no
elegant design which encompasses the virtual citizen to the same degree that
the political compromise of a human/voter in a point in space.
Which leads us back to chapters. They are constrained by local law, but
they have the benefit of being real and encompassing real people
irrespective of a computer. Some do not see this as a virtue. I do. I
think real people really change the world, especially in areas outside the
EN:WP hegemony, and should be given every incentive and aid in organizing.
Thus, the chapter "republic" issue. How do you compare Germans with
Netherlands with Hong Kong or Poland? One vote each? How should the
Americans respond, with a chapter in each state? Can the US game the system
no matter what by shear numbers? Should a count of chapter membership be
relevant? National population? Per capita participation? Donations?
Other statistics? These are all hard questions. But they keep the focus on
real people and less virtual identities which are transient and not easily
susceptible of capture.
My attention has repeatedly been drawn to serious negative effects created
by the ability of Google and other searches to search and display pages
outside the mainspace, including pages such as XfD's, DRV's, AN/I
discussions, and the like. Some of these discussions have taken place
on-wiki and others, I am advised, on discussion of OTRS tickets posted by
Given the visibility of Wikipedia results on Google and other searches, and
consistent with the overall intent of [[WP:BLP]] on En-Wiki (and what I hope
is its equivalent on other projects), we have a serious responsibility to
ensure that the overall effect of Wikipedia content is a responsible one.
This includes eliminating the likelihood that the first hit on the Google
search for a living person is not (for example) a deletion discussion on how
insignificant and non-notable that individual is, or a page discussing the
ban of that individual (who might be a minor, for example) who chose to edit
Wikipedia under his or her real name and made some mistakes in doing so and
was criticized or even banned as a result.
There has been discussion from time to time about implementing a technical
modification such that only mainspace pages (or such other pages as the
community might consciously choose) would be visible to searches. In view
of the number of concerns raised about the current situation where
everything is searchable, it seems to me that the necessary changes should
be developed and implemented quickly.
The main argument in opposition to this change that I have seen is that the
internal Wikipedia search capability is not as strong as the external search
engines, so that it is desirable that the ability to conduct a complete
external search be maintained. I know that I have sometimes found it useful
to be able to search all spaces within the site in, for example, looking for
precedent cases while drafting EnWiki arbitration decisions. It therefore
would probably be desirable to upgrade our internal search capability.
However, in view of the number of third parties affected by the current
practice, I do not believe that implementation of the non-search capability
should await this development.
As a matter of disclosure, although I have raised this concern in passing on
prior occasions, my attention has been focused (this is something of an
understatement) on it again by an ongoing and extremely unpleasant thread
concerning me on the Wikipedia Review site. I understand that my concerns
in this matter might be discounted for that reason. Nonetheless, they are
sincere, of long standing, and I urge that they receive priority attention.
> Wonderful, thanks for the feedback. Is there a commentable roadmap of
> critical (and not-so-critical) projects for people who have their
> own crazy
> ideas they'd like to contribute? There have been some good
> sessions on this list on the subject over the years.
I have no idea if there's a commentable roadmap, but I do know that
detailed questions regarding our technical maintenance and expansion
plans are best directed to Erik or to Brion (or other members of our
tech team). I do know that a nearer-term goal would be monthly updates
of the dumps.
Phoebe Ayers writes:
> Arguably, however, providing solid dumps is the backbone for getting
> most of this research getting done, since having project data to
> manipulate is necessary for many possible studies. So not only are
> regular dumps critical for fulfilling our free content
> responsibilities and mission, but they are critical for future
> research. Which is to say: we all really want to see them happen! And
> agreed, the Foundation is the only one that can make it so (even
> though it's not an easy task); and this is the sort of infrastructure
> task that should be absolutely core.
We at the Foundation want to see this happen too. We regard increasing
the frequency and reliability of the dumps as mission-critical, and
we're working toward that goal.
Dear Domas, Florence, Frieda, Kat and Michael, (and maybe Jimmy too)
Yesterday the Board announced a major change in the bylaws and power
structure. Although I see some positive aspects in the change from my
personal point of view (I have still not seen the official changes -
as you might know by now, I am for balance - so until then I can't be
definitive about that), let me summarize what is happening here:
Without asking any feedback from the community before the decision has
been made, the Board decides to convert two community seats into
chapter seats (it has always been announced that Domas' and Michaels
chair were intended to become community seats too) and two expert
seats were added, bringing down the community share in the board from
71% to 50% or 30% (depending whether you count chapter seats as
community seats) of course assuming that the expert seats will be
This is quite a huge change with a huge impact on the power structure
of the Wikimedia Foundation and therefore of the Wikimedia Movement.
And this has been done without asking even advice to the community or
the chapters? I find this a very strange procedure for a movement as
the ours, and I am for the second time in a row very much
disappointed. This time by all community Board Members, who - all of
them! - dit NOT contact the community or chapters for a view!
I would very much like an explanation from every board member why they
have chosen not to ask the opinion of the community. Because you're
not going to sell me the story that this idea was totally new on the
board meeting, and that you had no time. Because this was of course
already on the agenda of the meeting: "We plan to dedicate saturday to
board development and governance. This will include relationships and
contractual agreement between board and executive director, possible
future council, next elections, professionalization of board, etc..."
(quote from Florence's email announcing the coming up Board meeting)
And please don't tell me either that the only "platform" there is, the
foundation-l, does not function any more. Although that statement
would be true to some extent, but it would highly puzzle me why the
heck you have concluded from the new layout of the board to *not* need
a Volunteer Council of *any* shape any more. Why you do not even want
to encourage the research after the possibilities any more... Let me
quote from your FAQ: "* `What does this [The restructuring of the
board, LG] mean for the 'wikicouncil?' - The "wikicouncil" and
"volunteer council" were part of the board discussions about its
restructure. At this stage, we have decided to not take action on the
proposal to develop a Volunteer Council. (...)"
I think this restructuring of the Board only shows once more why we
need a Wikicouncil. The Board itself is apperently not able to ask
input herself on big decisions, and this sets a very bad precedent to
the future. Apperently the Board is in need of some kind of council
that is, in contrary to the few community members left in the board,
able to bring through the questions to the communities. Maybe the VC
would not function perfectly, but from what I am seeing now, it would
at least do a much better job, because of course this is a very sad
day for community involvement in the Wikimedia Movement.
So please, Domas, Florence, Frieda, Kat and Michael, (and maybe Jimmy
too), let's just be fair and state your opinion. What is *your*
thought about community involvement. Should community only be allowed
to say something every two years? Should community only be allowed to
say something afterwards (the perfect receipe for ranting, btw)? Do
you think community members could be smart people who have a smart
opinion about the topics you discuss? Do you think they might come up
with arguments you did not think of yet?
If you think so, you should start working, in one way or another, on
some kind of platform that is able to improve your attempts to contact
the community on major decisions. And no, I have no ready-boiled plan
for it, but I do know that there is a catalyst out there, that could
come up with a nice result. That catalyst consists of a group of
dedicated people, with a wide range of views, that could maybe come up
with something that is actually good.
If you think this all is no longer needed, then please say so, then we
know what we're up to.
I know it is not customary (unfortunately) any more that single Board
members speak up. However, in this case I find it very important not
to hear the Boards voice any more, but the individual's voice. Because
that is highly important to be able to choose between people in
elections and "chapter appointments". Is it not on a short term, then
it will be in a year, but there will be a moment, and I would like to
know who I am dealing with here. As I said before, I am disappointed
in you, and that means that I had a better impression of you.
Regards, and looking forward to all your replies,