General comment first:
Although I'm providing explanations (or call them excuses, whatever, I
don't mind) below, this is not Question Time: I'm not saying we're
perfect and that you're all wrong, I absolutely agree that we can
still become better and I (really) appreciate feedback and input and
suggestions and I'm also glad to say when I agree with suggestions. I
just think it is unfair to dismiss ChapCom's work in its entirety,
whereas I believe that it has become much better than it was, say, end
On Sun, Nov 2, 2008 at 11:40 PM, Dan Rosenthal <swatjester(a)gmail.com> wrote:
I hate doing so, but I addressed things inline.
Thanks! I'm not a quoting styles evangelist and do top-posting at
times as well, but I believe it is adequate here.
That's a terrible argument and you know it. I
don't need to be
intimately involved with every chapter or on ChapCom's mailing list to
know that things are not as they should be. You ought to know better
Half granted...you obviously know about the "PR" side and how we're
perceived by the community, but I believe that, as you're not on
ChapCom and are involved in a chapter which was, unfortunately, one of
the victims of the general sub-national-chapters standstill, you do
not know everything about our actual work. But okay, weak argument.
Nobody suggested a couple days. How long has it been
intra-ChapCom? Years now?
Probably. The sequence was along the lines of "spikes of ChapCom
discussion --> silence, sometimes waiting for board input although
sometimes it wasn't even communicated to the board that we'd like
input --> discussion again --> general feeling that we can't decide
this and that the board would need to make a principal strategy
decision, which it didn't want to until recently etc."
This is suboptimal, it is in fact the opposite of optimal, yes. But
that's about how it happened. I'm glad, that we have reached a
milestone now and especially Andrew has been tirelessly campaigning on
Are you seriously suggesting that the
ChapCom has been doing EVERYTHING in it's power to pursue more chapters?
This might sound stupid now, but could I suggest that we do not just
want "more" chapters in any case? What I'd hate to see is: Dormant
chapter-in-preparation, chapcom pushing and pushing until finally they
get their things together, write down bylaws and have the official
establishment ceremony incl. WMF approval stamp, and, as soon as this
is done, it falls dormant again, because there was no
zealous-enthusiastic community to start with. Do you honestly believe
that a chapter which can't even write bylaws of its own resp. organise
a meetup to move forward, will afterwards be very active just because
it's been supported by ChapCom until it got its rubberstamp? I
believe, the chapters which are known as "active" now (Germany,
France, many others) didn't need ChapCom input to get these things
done, because they had a thriving community. If there is no community
and no one spending time, it's pointless to push this chapter to
approval, just to have "one chapter more". It will already be doomed
to be a failure. But that's my opinion, you may disagree.
Sure you can. Why can't you help the chapters
draft their bylaws for
the general things that do not require specific legal knowledge of
that particular country?
Surely ChapCom has a relatively standard
framework that they can provide for the chapters to modify as they
need. If not, that's a failure on the committee's part for not being
We don't have this and I agree, it would be a nice-to-have. More than
that, actually, I agree we should make it a priority.
But are you really sure that this is the time-consuming thing? I can
again only speak out of my own experience in establishing a chapter:
We were able to copy-paste-adapt the general aims from Wikimedia
Germany's bylaws (yes, see, we took the quasi-standard framework back
then too), what we spent much time on were really the technical
details, making sure that everything is compliant with Swiss law (and
that we can get tax exemption), making sure that we've got all the
election and votes details properly written down etc etc.
And this is really something where ChapCom can only be of limited help
because this differs just too much country-by-country.
Nobody's suggesting replacing an community. But
what has ChapCom done
to proactively find out where the WMF Canada chapter is currently at,
what help they need, what ChapCom can do to speed things up etc?
Nothing, frankly. A couple of months ago, we circulated the idea that
we could "assign" ChapCom members to each prospective chapters, so
that every chapter has its own point-of-contact for minor things
(because it's easier to ask one person that to ask an entire
group=mailinglist) *and* so that these ChapCom people can regularly
follow-up on "their" chapters if things appear to be stalled.
I just remember this now, to be honest, and I'm somewhat surprised
that this was completely forgotten again, I think we need to revive
this idea again.
Has ChapCom made such a request?
No, I believe the request would be for the chapter to make, because we
don't even know how much the translation would cost...
What efforts have they made to ask
members of the proposed chapter (in whatever language a connection can
be made in) how they can be helped, and find out if the WMF can fund
I believe (but I may stand corrected) that it's written in the
step-by-step chapters creation guide that the WMF would cover certain
expenses on request and if appropriate. If not, we definitely need to
make this more public, but we also need to rely on people reading at
least the things which are there. Yes, they are few and not
up-to-date, we're working on this.
Precisely how long does it take for ChapCom to vote?
Depends entirely on the availability of people, whether they are in
holidays or not. It is often a bit of an arbitrary decision "Are we
going to wait another couple days for X to cast his vote or not?",
maybe we should standardise this once but we want to keep this as
process-free as we can.
But then, if you care to reread what you quoted: I wrote that Norway
and Hungary were the unfortunate victims of the fact, that voting was
generally stalled in ChapCom as long as we didn't know who could vote
now and who not. I myself didn't vote on these until a couple of weeks
ago, because the board was actually supposed to confirm my "promotion"
from non-voting advisor to voting member, but somehow there was a
miscommunication and the board didn't receive our request to vote on
This didn't strike anyone as odd at all since
March? Is nobody keeping
an eye out for these things?
I view it as a failure that it took so long for even a general
framework to have been set.
Yes, see above again.
So if you can only give very limited advice, and if
you can't actively
help, what exactly do you do?
We can help with experience, (we can at the end recommend approval or
disapproval, but this should not be our primary function), we can
guide in general terms and regarding specific things that we know
about (I believe Andrew was even in a kind of Election Committee of
WmUK 2.0) , we CANNOT provide jurisdiction-specific advice, we CANNOT
write and translate bylaws and we CANNOT organise meetups for them.
This is both an expertise and a time question - I know how much work
it is to establish *one* chapter, writing one piece of bylaws etc.,
you can't expect the committee to do this for all chapters. And
seriously, I do wonder a bit why it works so well with some chapters
and so badly with others...
Six or seven? That's hardly "Quite a
few". All it does is establish
that now things are somewhat better now than they were the year before.
Why, yes, that was my point. And now that we have more new
members/advisors, it should be even better, but they still need time
to get the "lay of the land" ;-)
Writing two sentences is not a solution to a lack of a
approval process" document.
Sorry, here we seem to differ a bit: If I once see a process in the
Wikimedia world which takes two sentences to describe, then I'm happy.
The process is as simple as I wrote: Get a group together, write
bylaws, translate, send in via email. If I use three paragraphs to
describe this, surely the only thing that can happen is that the
process becomes more complicated and more formal, and I oppose that.
That can only come from ChapCom or the
foundation themselves as they are the ones who approve things. Two
years of no public guidelines is unacceptable.
Yes, zero is not good. But you really failed to convince me why "two
sentences" are not a solution - honestly, I'd have no idea how to fill
an entire "chapter approval process" document, we're not using
scheduling hearings, pre-trial motions, subpoenas and what not here,
sorry. There is just not that much to write.