On Saturday 15 June 2019 Wikimedia Belgium had its annual General Assembly
Two board members have indicated to step down:
We thank them for their work and valuable input in the past years!
They remain available for advice to the board.
Two board members were up for re-election after their previous terms ended.
Both board members have been re-elected without any votes against them, and
they will keep serving Wikimedia Belgium in their roles.
* Geertivp - president
* Romaine - treasurer
One new board member has been elected without any votes against.
* Taketa - long term Wikipedia editor and organiser of various activities
The rest of the board remains the same and the board continues the work and
development of our chapter.
*Evaluation behaviour WMF*
As board we have the obligation to inform the General Assembly and other
stakeholders about the developments with our chapter, both the good
developments as well as the bad developments.
A year ago, with our previous General Assembly, we were hopeful to resolve
the issues we then had with on other organisation in the movement, the
Wikimedia Foundation. Sadly we had to inform the General Assembly that
instead of improvements, the behaviour of multiple individuals from the
Wikimedia Foundation is below any standard. This concerns one member of the
grants team and multiple members of the Trust and Safety team, as well as
On request of the Trust & Safety team no names are mentioned. Below is a
summary of what happened.
In April 2017 the treasurer of Wikimedia Belgium (Romaine) spoke with our
new grants staff member from the Wikimedia Foundation as WMBE was scheduled
to change from successful project grants in 2017 and earlier years to
Simple Annual Plan grants. During this meeting the plan for WMBE in 2018
was proposed and was fine for the grants staff member. In the Summer of
2017 this had been worked out, and with an online call our annual plan was
considered fine. With the final submission in October 2017, our annual
grants proposal was reviewed by the grants staff member from WMF, had some
minor remarks we fixed, and was considered to be excellent.
In December 2017 we were informed that our grant request (suddenly) was, to
summarise, complete wrong. It contained factual errors (like facts do not
matter), inconsistencies, the comment that Wikimedia France and Wikimedia
Netherlands could take everything over in Belgium, suggesting that Belgium
has no culture (this is a serious insult to us), and much more.
(For your reference: Wikimedia Belgium had over 90 events and activities in
2017, including a photo contest, education program, GLAM program with
content donations, workshops and edit-a-thons, and more.)
It raised us a lot of questions, which we asked, but our grants member of
WMF refused to seriously answer them.
Even with our lack of information and received insults, we tried to be
constructive and before Christmas we proposed to the grants staff member
that we would re-write during the Christmas holidays our annual plan (as
the staff member had said many times we could improve it). With the e-mail
following from the grants member of WMF this proposal was not rejected. So
during the two weeks of the Christmas holidays we spent many days, together
with the help from another experienced chapter representative, re-writing
our annual plan. After the Christmas holidays, we were ready, and the
response from the grants member from WMF was then that the re-written
version could not be taken into account...
After some further e-mails with this staff member we concluded as WMBE mid
January 2018 that a collaboration with this individual from WMF is
impossible and we banned this individual from ever contacting us again and
we never communicated ever with this person again.
The supervisor of this staff member has been informed by us about what
happened, and refused to even investigate the situation.
A colleague from the staff member took over and we received our budget for
2018. Later during 2018 and 2019 this WMF staff member helped us very well
with questions, provided useful feedback and the annual plan for 2019 which
was approved. We are now happy with this collaboration.
During the Wikimedia Conference in April 2018 we still had many questions
and our treasurer spoke with various other affiliates if they had advice,
good practices, etc etc, so that we could improve our future annual plans.
Instead of that good advice was given, they shared their similar bad
experiences they had in the past years with our former grants person from
WMF. Many of them indicated that they do not want the feedback/criticism to
be public as they feel that their budget would be cut by WMF as result of
With multiple chapter representatives we started to collect the feedback so
that we could come up with some recommendations for improvements for both
the WMF processes regarding grants as well as recommendations for
affiliates for how to write better annual plans.
Our former grants person from WMF heard about the initiative and started to
tell bad (untrue) stories about WMBE's treasurer to bring him in discredit.
Multiple people have testified that our former grants person was doing
this, gossip like that WMBE's treasurer was planning to attack that grants
person. The Trust & Safety team heard about it and drew immediately the
conclusion that the gossip was true, without checking the facts, without
even talking to any of the involved individuals, and asked WMBE's treasurer
not to approach or contact the former grants person. (To be crystal clear:
there was never ever a plan to contact the grants person from WMF at all.)
Even after the Trust & Safety team spoke with WMBE's treasure, the gossip
continued, causing a very unsafe conference space. A member of the Trust &
Safety team was later informed about the ongoing gossip and refused to take
any action to stop it, indicating not to take it seriously.
During Wikimania 2018, WMBE's treasurer was asked to help the organisers of
Wikimania in Cape Town to help and assist wherever needed. One of the tasks
was to bring stuff from A to B on request. Everything seemed to go fine.
Halfway the conference, WMBE's treasurer was casually approached by a
member of the Trust and Safety team with a question to have a chat. A
second team member came and they took an elevator together. In the elevator
the team members made jokes and were laughing. As soon as they were in the
room, it was made clear that the Trust & Safety team had received
complaints about WMBE's treasurer.
The main complaint was: being in the same (large) room as the grants member
of WMF. The complainant was the grants member of WMF, and this person
claimed that WMBE's treasurer had said something and that the grants member
from WMF had been highly distressed resulting in not being able to do the
presentation (later in that session) well.
The situation was that WMBE's treasurer was asked to bring something to a
room where a session just started (such requests happen many times during
the conference, the grants person who complained was not presenting at that
time), the materials were handed to someone in the back of the room and he
left the room silently as quickly as possible. Multiple people present in
that session have testified that he did not speak while bringing materials
to the room, and they also testified that the presentation by the grants
person from WMF went reasonable well.
Also, during lunch WMBE's treasurer was sitting somewhere very visible to
everyone, where the grants person from WMF came standing next to the
treasurer, approached from the front. If the grants person from WMF really
gets highly distressed by his presence, this person would not have done
The Trust & Safety team blindly believed the statements made by their WMF
colleague, the team did not ask witnesses in the room about what happened,
all the information here above was provided to the Trust & Safety team, but
the Trust & Safety team fully ignored this information and the witnesses
who say otherwise.
Three additional anonymous complaints were:
* speaking to loud
* standing to close
* having touched someone's hand/arm
It must be noted that *none* of the people that complained to the Trust &
Safety team had indicated to WMBE's treasurer to experience anything as
Also, WMBE's treasurer has as disability that he hears less, does not hear
well what the height of his volume is (but still trying to not to speak too
loud), and with bad acoustics has to stand closer to people to hear them
well. The Trust & Safety team was informed about this during the meeting.
Also in the local culture where he comes from touching is a normal thing.
Also many people that have been frequently with WMBE's treasurer at the
conference have indicated that he did not speak too loud.
During the meeting the Trust & Safety team told that they already had
informed everyone in the organising team that they demanded WMBE's
treasurer must stop helping in organising Wikimania 2018, meaning that they
already had drawn the conclusion even before speaking with him.
They also indicated that they "had to do something" so they could show
that they do something when complaints are received, even while their
decision did not solve/improve the complaints at all. The Trust & Safety
team refused to think about real solutions, they refused to organise a
dialogue to solve the complaints, they refused to mediate, they promised to
organise a meeting with a supervisor, but that they never did. It also
became clear they have zero feeling with people with autism. The Trust &
Safety said they could not share any more information about what happened
because of the privacy of the complainants.
During the conference WMBE's treasurer made it public, to prevent having to
tell emotionally what happened, as well as for transparency reasons. This
did not take away that he felt ever since that chat highly unsafe as result
by the behaviour of the Trust & Safety team, and still continues up to
today, as well as he also had been five weeks ill after the conference
because of this.
Many people at the conference indicated to disagree with the decision of
the Trust & Safety team, including WMF staff members and Wikimania's
organising team. During the conference many of them approached the Trust &
Safety team about it, various of them also proposing other solutions that.
In these talks the Trust & Safety team shared a lot more details which they
refused to share with WMBE's treasurer. Also the Trust & Safety team told
that he had been warned before (which is not true), as well as exaggerating
and framing what supposedly had happened.
After Wikimania the Trust & Safety team received an e-mail from WMBE's
treasurer with a more detailed overview of what happened, including the
many witnesses who claim differently. But all of this was fully ignored by
the Trust & Safety team. After the conference nothing had been heard from
the Trust & Safety team, until mid December 2018.
In the first two weeks of December 2018 WMBE's treasurer received multiple
e-mails from WMF staff members, including strangely in what was written a
farewell and thank you for all the work. Apparently the Trust & Safety team
had shared their new decision with other departments, while actual
stakeholders were not informed.
About a week later both the treasurer of WMBE as the president of WMBE (but
none of the other organisations he is active for) received an e-mail in
what the Trust & Safety team indicates to have received further complaints:
- First they refer to the situation in December 2017-January 2018
concerning the interaction with the former grants person from WMF.
Apparently the Trust & Safety team fully has ignored all the insults at the
address of our chapter and country. Also the e-mail reads largely like the
grants person itself had written the e-mail.
- Because of this they forbid WMBE's treasurer to ever contact WMBE's
former grants person at WMF (one way only!) (Even while WMBE had banned
every contact with this person already in January 2018.)
- And they forbid to have contact with WMF grants grants team for about two
years. (Even while the contact with all the other members of the grants
team was going fine, even receiving various compliments. )
Still it was decided by Wikimedia Belgium to keep WMBE's treasurer as
treasurer of WMBE.
- Someone at the conference saw WMBE's treasurer with a mascot and asked
the name of the mascot. Answer: "Wendy the Weasel", clearly indicating a
female name. The question that followed was what the gender was of the
mascot. WMBE's treasurer was thinking that this was just said, and replied
that as there are no outer organs the mascot must be female. (Having asked
around, in the part of the world where WMBE's treasurer lives this is not
considered a problem, but maybe this is differently elsewhere and is there
- Someone had indicated that WMBE's treasurer has been standing in the way
of that person and blocking the complainants path at Wikimania. It was a
space of about 1.5 to 2 metres, where also multiple other people where
standing, and people passing by were asked question, but everyone who
wanted to pass by could do so.
- Someone has told that WMBE's treasurer would have said that he would
visit conferences "to pick up girls". Everybody who knows WMBE's treasurer
knows this is nonsense. Some contest: WMBE's treasurer has someone he loves
in his home country with zero interest of that kind in anyone else, and
falls in the category of LGBT+ and does not fall on the women at the
conferences. It must be noticed extremely suggestive interpretations of
other people (that do not have the regular impressions, like due being
LGBT+), have far reaching effects as conclusions. Such is an insult.
- Because of this they forbid WMBE's treasurer to be present at events
funded directly/indirectly by WMF for two years.
Again it must be noticed that the Trust & Safety team for the third time on
a row refuses to talk with the individual who it concerns first, before
drawing any conclusions. The Trust & Safety team comes in their e-mail with
a lot of assumptions based on loose sand. They also claim that WMBE's
treasurer fails to assume good faith.
In an e-mail to the presidents of two chapters they said that "they know
how he thinks", followed by a lot of nonsense and false claims. The Trust &
Safety team does not assume good faith themselves if they write that.
The Trust & Safety team provided in their communication zero examples of
where the Friendly Space Policy has been breached.
The situation of WMBE's treasurer and the Trust & Safety team has been
reviewed by an independent professional with expertise in complaints
handling. The conclusion of this expert: almost everything that the Trust &
Safety team could have done wrong in handling complaints, they did do
wrong. Many basic principles in complaint handling and conflict resolution
have been ignored by the Trust & Safety team. In addition to this, they
communicate very intimidating as well as with treats.
The way how they work/communicate gives the impression like a staff member
of WMF is more worth than a volunteer from the community.
Two chapters have reached out to the Wikimedia Foundation, indicating that
the way how the Trust & Safety team was operating is not appropriate, but
WMF refuses to take these concerns seriously and has ignored this fully.
Again the Trust & Safety team refuses to work together on actual solutions.
To summarise, feedback/information from WMBE's treasurer has been ignored
by WMF, feedback from the president of WMBE has been ignored by WMF,
feedback from the president and director of WMNL have been ignored by WMF,
feedback from other staff members in WMF have been ignored by WMF, feedback
from many community members from the movement have been ignored.
Because of the behaviour of the trust & Safety team that causes for
everyone in the movement an unsafe place, WMBE's treasurer has decided
stop attending WMF funded events.
At the General Assembly it was requested to request an internal audit in
WMF to bring all the problems there to the light.