Considering that it was sent by that person, one may reasonably conclude
that it was written by them. That being said, I do not want to believe that
it was not reviewed and approved by the governing board (assuming it was
written by that person). BUT if it was written by another person, reviewed
and approved by the board why is the involved person sending this email on
behalf of WMBE? Just curious.
On Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 2:27 PM Thomas Townsend <homesec1783(a)gmail.com>
Am I right in thinking that this email, containing a
long account of
the alleged poor treatment of the Treasurer of WMBE, referred to
throughout in the third person, was in fact written by that person?
On Mon, 17 Jun 2019 at 10:00, Romaine Wiki <romaine.wiki(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On Saturday 15 June 2019 Wikimedia Belgium had its annual General
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
Both board members have been re-elected without
any votes against them,
they will keep serving Wikimedia Belgium in their
* 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
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
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
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
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
considered fine. With the final submission in
October 2017, our annual
grants proposal was reviewed by the grants staff member from WMF, had
minor remarks we fixed, and was considered to be
In December 2017 we were informed that our grant request (suddenly) was,
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
has no culture (this is a serious insult to us),
and much more.
(For your reference: Wikimedia Belgium had over 90 events and activities
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
following from the grants member of WMF this
proposal was not rejected.
during the two weeks of the Christmas holidays we
spent many days,
with the help from another experienced chapter
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
January 2018 that a collaboration with this
individual from WMF is
impossible and we banned this individual from ever contacting us again
we never communicated ever with this person
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
2018. Later during 2018 and 2019 this WMF staff
member helped us very
with questions, provided useful feedback and the
annual plan for 2019
was approved. We are now happy with this
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
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
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
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
tell bad (untrue) stories about WMBE's
treasurer to bring him in
Multiple people have testified that our former
grants person was doing
this, gossip like that WMBE's treasurer was planning to attack that
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
not to approach or contact the former grants
person. (To be crystal
there was never ever a plan to contact the grants
person from WMF at
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
any action to stop it, indicating not to take it
During Wikimania 2018, WMBE's treasurer was asked to help the organisers
Wikimania in Cape Town to help and assist
wherever needed. One of the
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
the team members made jokes and were laughing. As
soon as they were in
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
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
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
time), the materials were handed to someone in
the back of the room and
left the room silently as quickly as possible.
Multiple people present in
that session have testified that he did not speak while bringing
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
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
all the information here above was provided to
the Trust & Safety team,
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
well what the height of his volume is (but still
trying to not to speak
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
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
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
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
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
In these talks the Trust & Safety team shared
a lot more details which
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
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
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
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
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
none of the other organisations he is active for)
received an e-mail in
what the Trust & Safety team indicates to have received further
- First they refer to the situation in December
concerning the interaction with the former grants person from WMF.
Apparently the Trust & Safety team fully has ignored all the insults at
address of our chapter and country. Also the
e-mail reads largely like
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
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
that as there are no outer organs the mascot must
be female. (Having
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
- Someone had indicated that WMBE's treasurer has been standing in the
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
knows this is nonsense. Some contest: WMBE's
treasurer has someone he
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
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
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
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
Safety team could have done wrong in handling
complaints, they did do
wrong. Many basic principles in complaint handling and conflict
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
of WMF is more worth than a volunteer from the
Two chapters have reached out to the Wikimedia Foundation, indicating
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
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
feedback from other staff members in WMF have
been ignored by WMF,
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.
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